LEGENDS OF KANSAS

 

History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs

 

Towns & Places of Atchison County, Kansas

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Towns:

 

Atchison - County Seat

Cummings

Effingham

Huron (semi-ghost)

Lancaster

Muscotah (semi-ghost)

Potter (semi-ghost)

Extinct Towns

 

Atchison County, Kansas, 1899

Atchison County map, 1899.

 

 

 

Cummings/Cummingsville - An unincorporated community located 9.5 miles southwest of Atchison, the town was established in Center Township along the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad in 1872. It was named in honor of a local resident and founder, William Cummings, and initially called Cummingsville. Robert Kennish was the first settler in the new town site in November, 1872 and opened a store with a post office the next month. Kennish became the first postmaster in the post office which opened on December 1, 1872. A Methodist church was built in 1880 and the first school was taught that winter. By the early 1880's the town had several businesses and was called home to about 70 people. In June, 1884, the town and post office's name was officially shortened to Cummings. By 1910, the village had grown to some 175 people.

 

Today, though a small town, Cummings still has a post office. It is located about ten miles southwest of Atchison on U.S. Highway 59.
 

Effingham, KansasEffingham - Located about seventeen miles southwest of Atchison, Effingham got its start soon after the building of the old Central Branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Its post office opened in January, 1868 and was named for one of the founders of the town. It was laid out on a part of the McGilvery farm, and from the first, was the supply and shipping town for a large and rich agricultural district. Several churches were established early on. The first to be built was the Catholic Church in 1874. It was then attended by the Benedictine Fathers of Atchison who came by horseback to celebrate Mass for the early community. Four years later a resident priest was appointed. By the early 1880's it boasted several general stores, a black smith, bakery, furniture store, three doctors, a grade school and about 400 people. By 1897, the congregation of the St. Ann's Catholic Church had outgrown its church building and a new one began to be built in 1897, which continues stood for the next century. Ten years later, a school was started in a two-room building just west of the the church. Classes were taught by the Benedictine Sisters, who continued their task until 1968, when the school was closed. Unfortunately, the church was destroyed by a fire in April, 2008.

 

The rest of the community was also growing and by 1910, it was called home to 674 people, numerous stores including a lumber yard, two hardware stores, a drug store, three restaurants, a hotel, two banks, the Atchison County High School, and a weekly newspaper called the New Leaf, which is still published today.

 

Located on U.S. Highway 159, Effingham is still called home to about 580 people. The rural community has a post office, several businesses, and a couple of churches.

 

District 44 School in Huron, KansasHuron - Located on the Omaha Branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, in Lancaster Township, Huron got its start as a railroad town. The land was owned by Colonel D.R. Anthony of Leavenworth, who donated to the railroad company 20 acres of land. In April, 1882 the town was platted and by the end of the year, the town had 50 homes, several businesses and a post office. It was named for one of its founders. The following year the Baptists and Presbyterians both built churches.

 

By the turn of the century Huron was the fourth largest in Atchison County and an important shipping and supply community. In 1910 it had 300 residents, a bank, schools, several general stores, a blacksmith shop, lumber yard, grocery store, hotel, drug store, hardware and implement house, a barber and a blacksmith. However, over the next several decades Huron declined. Its post office closed in May, 1992 and today its population is just 54 souls. It is located about 17 miles northwest of Atchison on U.S. Highway 73.

 

 

Lancaster, KansasLancaster - Situated ten miles west of Atchison, just off U.S. Highway 73, Lancaster got its start in 1857 when it was platted by J. W. Smith, President of the Town Company. It was named for the city in Ohio. It gained a post office the following year in March, 1858 and Smith was named its postmaster.

 

An advertisement promoting the new town appeared in the Atchison newspaper called the Freedom's Champion on October 16, 1858, stating in part:

 

"Lancaster City is the name of a new town just springing into existence. It is located 10 miles direct west of Atchison on the great military road to Forts Kearney, Laramie, Bridger, and to Santa Fe, New Mexico; Utah, Washington Territory, California, etc., all passing  through the town site. Also roads leading from Nebraska City, St. Joseph, Doniphan,
and to Grasshopper Falls, Topeka, Lecompton and Lawrence.

A more beautiful situation for a large and prosperous city could not be found in the Territory, or the Great West. Its site is rolling and dry, climate healthy and salubrious as heart could wish for. The surrounding country cannot be surpassed for its magnificent undulating prairies, being one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the whole country.

 

Excellent coal, building stone and timber can be found within two and a half miles. Quite a number of buildings are already erected, among which will be found a large and commodious hotel, a good store, blacksmith and carpenter shops, post office, etc."

 

Lancaster, KansasIn 1861, a Pony Express Station was located in Lancaster. 

 

Situated on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, the town soon became a supply point for the surrounding area and several businesses, a hotel, and school were built. A Methodist and Baptist Church were built later. Its post office briefly closed in March, 1863 but reopened in April, 1865.

 

Though Lancaster did not prove to be all that its promoters expected of it, it continued as a good trading point for many years. By 1910, the small community had a bank, several businesses, a public school, three churches and a population of 220.

 

Over the next century, Lancaster maintained a fairly steady population. Today, Lancaster is still incorporated, still has a post office and boasts almost 300 residents.

 

 

 

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