The county seat of
Pawnee County Larned was built on the
& Santa Fe Railroad
confluence of the Pawnee and the Arkansas Rivers. Named for nearby
it was laid out in December, 1873 on land granted by
Jerry Toles and John W. and Mary Adams.
John Adams became the president of the Larned Town Company. Soon, his wife's
parents, Reverend and Mrs. Charles Sturdevant, joined them. The pastor would later become one of the first ministers of Larned's Presbyterian Church. The first home in Larned was constructed by Captain Henry Booth who had been serving as the postmaster at
since 1869. When Larned was formed, he resigned his position as postmaster and
with several other people, was instrumental in establishing the new settlement. The first newspaper was established by
W. C. Tompkinson called the
A number of new additions in the next five years marked the
growth of the town. In less than ten years it was an incorporated city of the
third class with about 50 business establishments. Several churches were established
including two Baptist Churches (one for African-Americans and one for whites,) a
Methodist Church, two Presbyterian organizations and others.
In the meantime, several other newspapers were established
including the Larned Republican in 1876, which was published for about a
year, the Pawnee County Herald, beginning in January, 1877, which lasted
until November, 1878 when it was merged with the Larned Optic. In April, 1878, the Larned Press was merged into the
Enterprise, with Henry Inman, one of the most best journalists of the
state as its editor. By 1883, it had changed its name to the
In the 1880s, Larned had several good hotels,
four grain dealers, five dry-goods houses, four grocery stores, three druggists,
two hardware stores, three jewelry establishments, two boot and shoe dealers,
two blacksmiths, two wagon makers, two meat markets, two lumber dealers, three
livery stables, two harness and saddle makers, six confectioners and bakers, two
banks, two barbers, three coal dealers, five physicians, four attorneys, two
tailors, two millinery establishments, and three real estate and insurance
agents. Several larger enterprises also existed including the Larned Broom Factory and the Larned Pottery Company.
By the turn of the century, Larned, which boasted more than
1,300 residents had become a trading and shipping point for its area farms and
There are several blocks of substantial business houses, two
Chronoscope and the Tiller and Toiler (which still exists), 3 banks with a combined
deposits amounting to over $850,000, a fine city hall, an opera house, a
hospital, a city park, waterworks, electricity for lighting and power, a fire
department, all the leading church denominations, a creamery, 2 flour
mills, a foundry, and several grain elevators. The next decade saw much growth
for the city, as by 1910, its population had reached almost 3,000 people.
In 1914, the Larned State Hospital was established for the
mentally ill in the western part of the state. In 1939, it took on additional
responsibilities with the opening of State Security Hospital. Prior to 1960, the
Hospital accommodated only adult patients, general psychiatric and forensic; but
beginning in 1966, treatment programs were added for children, adolescents, the
chemical dependent and security behavior males. Presently the Hospital operates
three separate services including Youth, Adult, Security and Security Behavior
Services on its 98 acre campus.
Today, Larned is home to over 100 different types of businesses
and some 4,200 residents. The city provides numerous celebrations throughout the
year such as a living history weekend,
Santa Fe Trail Days, and the
Fair. During the summer, nearby Fort Larned
also has many living history days in which volunteers reenact life on the Fort.
For the history buff, the nearby Santa Fe Trail Center and
National Historic Site are "must-sees" while visiting the area.
Compiled and edited by
of Kansas, updated March, 2017.