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Known as the "Barbed Wire Capital of the World," and
the Rush County Seat,
La Crosse was founded by the Missouri-Pacific
Railroad in 1876. That same year, the county was re-surveyed, the southern tier of townships transferred to neighboring Pawnee
County, and the new townsite of La Crosse was to be found in the exactly center.
belonged to surveyor, Denman A. Stubbs, and his wife, Ellen, who had moved to
Kansas from La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1874. The Stubbs immediately became the
first developers of the new city, which they named for their home town in
Wisconsin and began selling lots, mostly to young men. Denman Stubbs' brother,
Sergeant David C. Stubbs and another man named John R. Kemmermer, also applied
for 160 acre patents in 1877 to further develop the town.
Rush County Courthouse
is listed on the National Register
of Historic Places, courtesy Rush County,
An election was held to permanently move the county seat to La Crosse in 1877, much to
the chagrin of Rush Centercitizens. This would start a bloodless battle between
the two towns that would take more than a year to solve. In the meantime, the
records were moved back and forth several times.
Several buildings were erected in 1877 including
the first school, a church known as The La Crosse Meeting of
The Society of Friends (later the United Brethren Church), the first general
store was called Joseph & Parker. E.F. Brown became the first postmaster on
April 23, 1877 and other early settlers included
P.C. Dixon, S. W. Taylor, O. C.
Prescott and M. Burge.
The first La Crosse school was erected in 1877. The earliest churches in La Crosse
were The United Brethren Church, first known as , established in 1877; The
Christian Church, established in 1887; and The Methodist Church. In the spring
of the same year, the Walnut Valley Standard newspaper moved from
Rush Center, published by W.P. Tomlinson. Another newspaper called the
Rush County Progress also moved to La
Crosse in the Fall of 1878. Later the La Crosse Chieftain was
established by Taylor & Goodwin, beginning on January 1, 1881.
County offices were houses in the second story of
a stone building on the west side of Main Street and the court in a small frame
building next door. But a courthouse would not be built until the wrangling
between La Crosse and Rush Center
was finally over in 1888. The courthouse
continues to stand today, now listed on the National Register of Historic
As the official county seat, La Crosse began to
grow, developing into a prosperous shipping point and supply point and farming
community. Wheat, livestock, poultry and dairy products were the main
agriculture economy. Later Oil and gas wells became important economic
By 1910 there were
about 100 business establishments, including two banks, three hotels, two
grain elevators, a foundry and machine shop, two weekly newspapers -- the
Chieftain and the Republican, an Opera House, and telegraph and express offices.
The city was lit with electricity for its some 800 residents of the time.
La Crosse Main Street, Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.
One of the only towns in the county to grow through the 20th
century, La Crosse now supports a population of almost 1,300 people. It
celebrates its heritage at four museums.
The Post Rock Museum, is housed in a native stone building
originally built by homesteader Dan Haley southwest of Nekoma in 1883. The house
was moved to its current location in 1963 preserve the ingenuity and
perseverance of the Kansas pioneers. The museum includes an authentic stone
quarry re-creation illustrating the methods used to cut posts for fencing as
well as tools and items depicting the history of the post rock unique to this
region. The museum is located at 202 West
The Rush County Historical Museum is housed in the former Timken, Kansas Santa Fe Depot. The building was constructed in 1887 by the
Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad to serve this small community in
County. When the building was threatened with demolition, the
historical society moved it to La Crosse. The museum tells the story of the
history of the people who settled in Rush County and houses a large collection
of photographs, albums, and scrapbooks, as well as memorabilia, clothing, tools
and equipment used by early pioneers. The museum is located at 200 W. First
The Nekoma Bank Museum, situated in a 1916 original
bank building once situated in nearby Nekoma, has been fully restored and serves
as a museum of rural banking. It is located at
202 West First Street
The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum is devoted solely to the history
and legend of this part of American history often referred to as the “Devils
Rope”. On exhibit are over 2000 barbed wire varieties; including samples
manufactured between the years 1870 and 1890. Hundreds of antique fencing tools
illustrate the inventiveness of pioneers. the city of La Crosse hosts the
Annual Barbed Wire Convention and the Barbed Wire Swap Meet each May.
The La Crosse Museums are open seasonally between
May and September, but can be seen by appointment at other times throughout the
La Crosse is located at the intersection of highways K-4 and
US-183, 26 miles south of I-70
Compiled and edited by
of Kansas, updated February, 2010.
Post Rock Museum in La Crosse, Kathy Weiser, March,
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