La Cygne, Kansas
- City of Swans
along the Marais des Cygnes River
in the northeast part of Linn County, La Cygne
(pronounced luh SEEN), got its start in 1869 when it was determined that the
Kansas City, Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad
would come through the area. It was named after the Marais des Cygnes River,
which means "Marsh of the Swans" in French,
in reference to the Trumpeter Swan, which was historically common in the
Midwest. Before a townsite was even laid out, a man named Mr. Chetland built the
town's first store.
afterward, a town company was organized and purchased 1,400 acres of land; but,
used only 140 acres to lay out the townsite. A man named S.D. Cady soon erected
a dry goods store, W.A. Jones started a hardware store; Lyman Dearborn, a
furniture store; George J. Miller, a produce and grocery store; and J.A. Walker
built the first hotel called the Walker House. La Cygne's first post office
opened on September 27, 1869.
The first school, which
was private, was taught in in Cady's Hall by Mrs. Webb. It would continue
until a public schoolhouse was built the following year. That first year,
several residential homes were also built, including one by Henry Briser,
Dr. A. Davis, B. S. Heath and others.
La Cygne was incorporated
as a village in January, 1870, and a board of trustees was appointed.
Before long a second hotel was completed by Joseph Goss, which was called
the La Cygne House, the La Cygne Flouring
Mill was established by Chatterson & Hungerford, and a bank was started in
by S. D. Cady, called the Farmers' Savings Bank. The first newspaper
in the town was the Weekly Journal, which first appeared in June, 1870.
Through the years it would change hands a number of times and continue
publication until 1915.
A Methodist Church was
organized and soon after built 24x50' frame building for services. The
Presbyterians also organized in 1870, but would not have a church until the
following year. By the fall of 1870, the town had grown enough that La
Cygne had enough residents to organize as a city of the third class, and F.
A. Foote was elected the first mayor. At about the same time, a public
schoolhouse was built.
In 1871, J.J. Starks
erected the first brick building in the town, which held a dry goods
business. A bank was established the same year. A new larger school was
also built at a cost of $10,000. The two-story brick schoolhouse
accommodated grade school through high school students. A 28x44' frame
building was completed by the Presbyterians in the fall. That same year,
stock was organized in S.D. Cady's
Farmers' Savings Bank and a brick building was built. Three years later, in
1874, it would change names and become S. D. Cady & Co., and would
later change again to the Linn County Bank. It continues to operate today.
Shortly after the the Farmers' Savings Bank was established, Bentley, Pratt
& Moore started a private bank, which would operate until 1879, when it was
In 1872 several citizens,
acting on the advice of an area
Indian chief, formed a company to look for
silver. The Indian, who said he had received the
information through a “spirit,” directed them to a place that took on the
name of “Silver Mound.” About $3,000 was spent to sink a 100 foot shaft;
but, no silver was ever found and the project was abandoned. Another man,
who was sure that lead could be found in the area, spent some $15,000 in a
fruitless search for lead in Potosi Township.
1880, the flour mill it became the property of D. Coonrad. By this time, the
mill was three stories high. Two years later, the mill was updated with "patent
process" machinery, and would process put in 80 barrels of flour per day. That
same year the La Cygne Organ Factory was established by Swisher & Shrake who
manufactured reed organs on a small scale.
several La Cygne citizens raised $1,000 and hired a man named George Morely, a
practical miner, to sink a shaft in search for coal. This first shaft, located ˝
mile north of town, resulted in located an excellent 36 inch vein of coal. A
mining company was soon organized by George Morely and S.D. Cady, which
purchased considerable ground. By 1882, Cady, who had earlier established the
first store in La Cygne, as well as the Linn County Bank, became the sole
proprietor. More shafts were sunk, with similar positive results. Today, coal is
still mined at the La Cygne Generating Station, to the east of the city.
the fall of 1882 a destructive fire occurred in La Cygne, burning a number of
business buildings on the west side of Broadway Street from Market to Walnut.
Several businesses were destroyed including a real estate office, harness shop,
billiard hall, dental office, restaurant, and more. More businesses suffered
some damage, without being totally destroyed.
By the 1910, La Cygne was
called home to 957 people and featured a number of business blocks and beautiful
Over the years, La Cygne
remained a small agricultural community and today boasts about 1,200 people.
Superb fishing, camping facilities, wildlife viewing, and other recreational
activities are available at Linn County Park on Lake LaCygne. The La Cygne
Historical Society, located at 310 N Broadway, is open weekend afternoons for
those searching for more historic information about the area. The
Marais des Cygnes Massacre
Historic Site is located 5 ˝ miles northeast of Trading Post on Highway 69.
LaCygne is located four miles
west of U.S. Highway 69 on Kansas Highway 152.
City of La Cygne
P.O. Box 600
La Cygne, Kansas
Compiled and edited by
of Kansas, updated March, 2017.
La Cygne today, Kathy Weiser, June, 2011.
The 2,600 acre La Cygne Lake, owned by Kansas City
Power and Light
was created to cool the coal-fired
Photo courtesy Uptrain Flicker
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