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Louisburg Kansas The Early Years

roundhouse
louisburgthen Looking northeast from a point near the intersection of Metcalf and Amity. This was the fairgrounds. Today the Timbercreek Bar and Grill would be in the center of this picture.

By the time Sam Moore was elected the first mayor of the newly incorporated city of Louisburg in November 1882, the area had been home to The Confederated Tribes of Wea, Piankashaw, Peoria, and Kaskaskia, who came to what is now northeast Miami County in 1827.

After a little more than a quarter century of being the sole residents of the area, Chief Yellow Bear of the Confederated Tribes signed a treaty in Washington, D.C. that transferred most of the land to the federal government and resulted in most of the surviving members of these tribes relocating to Indian Territory (later to become a part of the new state of Oklahoma). By 1866, a settlement known as St. Louis began to form along the banks of Wea Creek, generally referred to as Rabbit Creek by long time residents. To complicate matters further, the creek was formerly known as Indian Creek. The site of this settlement was between what is now North Broadway and North Metcalf on either side of Wea Creek.

In an effort to avoid confusion with the better known St. Louis on the banks of the Mississippi River, the Miami County settlement was frequently referred to as New St. Louis or Little St. Louis, until the name was changed to Louisburg around 1871 or 1872.

spring

Shields Spring House

Today

springhouse

Among the factors leading to the renaming of the community was the MKT railroad being completed for service to the community in September of 1871. The depot for the railroad was located at the corner of North Third and Broadway. A central feature of that early settlement was a spring  originally named Shields. The Spring still flows but is no longer a source of water for anyone. The Spring House also still stands in obscurity on the hillside on the south side of Wea Creek behind the residence of John and Connie Cleek (about 100 yards to the east of Edith Elliott's home).

At the time of incorporation, the city of Louisburg was home to some 400 residents. Amazingly one hundred and forty one of those residents cast ballots in the first election. Seven years before incorporation, the settlement that had begun in the vicinity of North Third Street and Broadway moved across Wea Creek and up the hill to the South to the area that currently serves as the principal business district of the community.

Here is what a "cyclopedia of state  history" … says about the early history of Louisburg: Louisburg, the third largest town in Miami county, is located on the Missouri, Kansas & Texas R. R. 14 miles east of Paola, the county seat. The town was laid out in 1868 and called St. Louis, but in order to avoid confusion with St. Louis, Mo., the name was changed to Louisburg in 1870. A postoffice was established in 1867 before the town was surveyed. The first residence was built in 1869, and a hotel was opened the same year. This was followed by some general stores and a drug store. The first school was opened in the town in 1871. The following year Louisburg was incorporated as a city of the third class and began a period of great prosperity. There are several large brick business blocks and three churches. It is the supply town for a rich agricultural district and has large nurseries. In 1910 the population was 603. (Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.)

According to William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas,

LOUISBURG.This flourishing town is in Wea Township, on the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad (recently changed to the Missouri Pacific), twelve miles east of Paola. The first settlements in the township were made as early as 1856, but Louisburg was not started until 1868, on November 10 of which year it was surveyed and laid out by Charles Sims, Dr. R. F. Steger and D. L. Peery. About a year before this survey a settlement was made a quarter of a mile east of the present site of Louisburg, a town started and called St. Louis, or Little St. Louis; but in order to avoid confounding the new town with St. Louis, Mo., it was given the name of Louisburg in 1870. Originally the town site consisted of eighty acres, but by various additions it has been increased to over 200 acres.

Previous to 1867, when a postoffice was established and Dr. Steger made Postmaster, the people of this vicinity obtained their mail at Paola. After the town site was laid out E. M. Sexton erected the first building thereon, which was used for a dwelling and a store. Charles Skinner erected the second store. Dr. Steger built the first residence in May, 1869, and started the first hotel. Daniel Martin build the second residence and John Richardson the third, all three being frame or "box" houses. About the same time three or four Indians dwellings were built, and James Newman erected a blacksmith shop. Dr. Odell built a drug store 12 x 20 feet in size. some say that the first hotel was built in 1870 by Anthony Cott, an Indian. The present fine brick hotel was built in 1881 by W. H. Tawney at a cost of $5,000. It is called the "Clark House" is well furnished and can accommodate twenty-five guests. (This hotel was on the site now occupied by the Casey's convenience store.)

The first school in Louisburg was taught by Miss Olivia Martin in 1871. The first preacher was J. P. Everett. Years before there had been preaching in the settlement by Rev. A. Meant, a Southern Methodist, in 1858; by Rev. Wm. Huffman, a United Brethern minister in 1859, who held a protracted meeting; and in the same year by Rev. Garrett.

Louisburg was made a city of the third class November 3, 1882. The territory included within the city limits comprises the northeast quarter of section 31, the south half of southeast quarter of Section 30, all in Township 16 south, Range 25 east. The first city election was held November 17, 1882; 141 votes being polled. Samuel W, Moore was elected Mayor, and the following gentlemen Councilmen: M. A. Fessenden, H. A. Williams, J. B. Plitcher, D. H. Ebbert and W. H. Tawney. Peter H. Goebel was elected Treasurer; Robert A. Wright, Clerk; R. W. Sanders, Marshal and John McNilley, Police Judge. The population of the city is about 900 now, in January, 1883; and gives promise of a rapid and healthy growth.

The city now has eight brick business buildings and three church buildings- Methodist, Baptist and Christian. The Presbyterians have an organized society but at present hold services in the Methodist Church, There are four physicians-J. D. Bryan, J. B. Plitcher, E. W. Riley and D. W. Hayes.Louisburg at present contains four general stores, three drug stores, three groceries, two hardware stores, two harness shops, two shoe shops, one lumber yard, one bank, two blacksmith shops, two agricultural implement dealers, one grain dealer, one furniture store, two hotels, one fine two -story brick schoolhouse, 36x72 feet, erected in the fall of 1882 at a cost of $6000, 272 scholars, and a population of about 900.

It is a lively business town, one of the best shipping points in the county. The estimated shipments for 1882 are 175 cars of flax, 250 cars of grain and 200 cars of cattle.JOHN W. CHAUDOINS, [was] the earliest pioneer of this locality, now Louisburg. Farmer, dealer in and feeder of live stock. … Mr. Chaudoins was born in Simpson County, Ky., of French parentage, December 18, 1832. He was brought up on a farm, and moved to Missouri in 1853, and soon after came to Kansas. He spent a few years in an unsettled manner between Missouri and Kansas and in 1857, purchased land in Wea, near what is now Louisburg; at that time there was not even a wagon road laid out in this region. He was engaged in farming and stock growing at this place several years and then moved to Middle Creek Township same county, where he now has a fine farm of 320 acres. During the late war he held a Second Lieutenant's commission in the Kansas Militia, and did good service. He has held the position of Township Trustee of Wea two terms. Mr. Chaudoins was married in 1857, in Cass County, Mo., to Miss E. L. Boren, daughter of Richard Boren. Mr. Chaudoins was the first white man to settle on the site of Louisburg, where he built the first house in the town.

What About the Little Roundhouse?

The Round House was located on the SE corner of Amity (Hwy 68) and Metcalf until 2005. It has been considered a landmark to Louisburg for many years, but the history is a mystery to most. You can't help but wonder about this strange little building as you pass by. It started out as an addition to the front porch of a home in Paola, Kansas. In the 1930's it was moved to it's current location for use as an inspection station coming into Kansas from Missouri. Several businesses have occupied it since the station closed. Today, the Louisburg Roundhouse has been moved to a prominent location in the Ron Weers Park at the City Lake on South Metcalf. The Louisburg Rotary Club was the lead organization in the restoration of a unique part of the history of Louisburg.

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