Early History of Baldwin City
by Frank W. Blackmar (1912)
Baldwin, one of the oldest settlements and the second largest city in Douglas county, is situated in the southeastern portion on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. R. about 15 miles from Lawrence. The first settlement near the present town site, was made in 1854, by Robert and Richard Pierson. In June, 1854, a town site consisting of 320 acres, was platted by the Palmyra Town company, which was composed of the following men: James Blood, president; Robert Pierson, the Baricklaw brothers, J. B. Abbott, Capt. Saunders, Amasa Soule, L. F. and D. F. Green, Dr. A. T. Still and D. Fry.
They named the town Palmyra, and the first building was soon erected and used for a dwelling. W. Westfall built a second cabin and opened a store. The town company erected a building known as the old barracks, which was also used as a store. A hotel was also built by the company and used for that purpose and a store under the name of the Santa Fe House. Dr. Simmons and Dr. Pierson were the first physicians, as they opened offices in Palmyra in 1855, at which time the town had several stores, a good hotel for that period, a number of houses and seemed on the highway to prosperity. The postoffice was established in 1856, with N. Blood as postmaster. Religious services were held by the Methodist church in 1855, and late in the year an organization was perfected.
In 1858, the town company purchased a section of land adjoining Palmyra on the north and donated it to the Kansas Educational Association of the Methodist Episcopal church on the condition that they locate an institution of learning known as Baker University on the site. The section of land was surveyed into lots and sold, the proceeds being used to erect the college building. As the work on the university building progressed and the institution became an assured thing, houses were erected in its vicinity, and the new town site was named Baldwin, in honor of John Baldwin, of Berea, Ohio.
Business houses were erected and one by one the business enterprises of Palmyra moved to Baldwin. John Baldwin erected a saw and grist mill, an important concern in those days, and inaugurated other commercial enterprises, which proved the death blows to the old town, which has become one of the "deserted villages" of Kansas. The Baldwin of today is a city of beautiful homes, churches, excellent retail stores of all kinds, a fine public school, water and lighting systems, money order postoffice, telegraph, express and telephone facilities, and is regarded as one of the educational centers of the state. In 1910 it had a population of 1,265.
An Earlier History of Baldwin City
by William G. Cutler (1883)
Baldwin City is pleasantly located on rolling prairie fifteen miles south of Lawrence, on the line of the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railway. Occupying a position in the midst of a rich agricultural country, which is settled up by a good class of farmers, it has an excellent location as a shipping point. Within its limits is located the Baker University, the oldest institution of learning in the State.
The first settlement made in and near what is now known as Baldwin City, occurred in 1854, when Robert and Richard Pierson, L. F. Green, Jacob Cantrell and a few others took up claims and laid the foundations for a future prosperous neighborhood. They were followed by L. N. Snyder, H. Baricklaw, D. Still, J. A. Abbott, D. F. Green, D. Froy, W. Baricklaw and others in 1855-6.
In June, 1855, a town site of 320 acres, on Sections 34 and 27, Township 14, Range 20, was surveyed and laid off by the Palmyra Town Company, and known as Palmyra. The Town Company was composed of twelve members, as follows: James Blood, President, J. B. Abbott, Capt. Saunders, Amasa Soule, L. F. and D. F. Green, Dr. A. T. Still, D. Fry, Robert Pierson and the three Baricklaw brothers. The first building on the town site was a log-house, erected in 1854, by J. Cantrell, and used as a dwelling.
After the town was laid off, W. Westfall erected a building and occupied it as a store. The "Old Barracks," a square, log building twenty by twenty feet, was the next building, and was built by the town company, and used by many, until others were erected. A hotel was also built by the town company and used both for store and hotel purposes, under the name of the Santa Fe House, and was managed by A. F. Powell. Drs. Simmons and Still were among the first disciples of Esculapius, locating in 1855. The marriage of Robert Pierson to a Miss Bithinger in 1855-6, was among the first ceremonies of the kind performed in Palmyra.
In 1858, the town company purchased the section of land adjoining the town on the south, and donated it to the Kansas Educational Association, in consideration of which they agreed to locate an institution of learning on the said section. As the work on the university progressed, buildings were erected on the new town site, which was named Baldwin, in honor of John Baldwin, of Berea, Ohio, and soon, one by one, the business enterprises of Palmyra moved to the new town. A saw and grist mill was erected by John Baldwin, and other enterprises inaugurated which proved the death blow to Palmyra as a town, as it is now knows as "but a dream of the past."
The Palmyra post office was established in 1856, N. Blood being appointed as first Postmaster; H. Scott was his successor, when the office was moved to Baldwin. He was succeeded by J. M. Cavaness, who had charge of the office until 1867. Mr. Cavaness was succeeded by H. M. Scott, who remained until 1875, when John Chapman took charge of the office. It was established as a money-order office in 1867, and has since retained that distinction.
This institution of liberal arts is located at Baldwin City, Kan., and is under the supervision of the Kansas and Nebraska Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
On the 3d day of February, 1858, an organization, known as the Kansas Educational Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was chartered by the Territorial Legislature with the privilege of locating an institution of learning, to be known as Baker University. After receiving several propositions from different places in the State, the association accepted that made by the town company of Palmyra, by which they received a section of land adjoining the town site of Palmyra. This section of land was surveyed into lots, many of which were sold, the proceeds being used toward erecting a college building. The structure was a three-story stone building, erected at a cost of $3,000. The first floor was used for chapel purposes; the second divided into recitation rooms, and the third was occupied by the Masons.
Baker University was chartered February 12, 1858. In the autumn of the same year, its doors were thrown open to students. The first Faculty was composed of Rev. W. R. Davis, President, assisted by Prof. B. F. Cunningham and Prof. T. A. Parker. As there were but few important institutions of learning in the Territory at this time, the attendance numbered upward of 100.
In 1867, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in his annual report said: "Baker University is the oldest living, working, institution in the State. From our earliest history as a State, it has done a noble work in sending out successful teachers to the common schools." Notwithstanding all the embarrassments that have been met, regular work has been done every term down to the present time.
In 1870, it was decided to complete the new building, which had been in process of erection for several years. This building is a substantial structure of cut stone, located on a gentle elevation overlooking the city. Its dimensions are 60x80 feet, four stories high, including the Mansard story. Though spacious enough for the present, will in a few years be inadequate to the increasing number of students. In connection with the institution is the library and reading room, containing upward of 1,500 volumes, embracing works of general information, and supplied with the current literature of the day. The present financial standing of the institution is good.
The Board of Trustees is composed of the following: Hon. L. W. Breyfogle, W. Conover, Rev. H. W. Chaffee, Rev. H. A. Tucker, Rev. E. W. Van Deventer, L. N. Stacher, Col. J. C. Carpenter, Rev. P. T. Rhodes, H. H. Taylor, Rev. G. S. Dearborn, William Plaskett, Rev. H. W. Reed, D. D., Rev. A. K. Johnson, Rev. W. R. Davis, D. D., Rev. J. T. Hannah, Rev. J. M. Sullivan, H. C. Meehem, Rev. B. Kelley, Rev. J. Denison, D. D., S. O. Goodlander, Rev. J. D. Knox, Rev. S. E. Pendleton, Rev. D. T. Summerville, T. D. Sweet, W. Fairchild, I. T. Goodnow, J. M. Cavaness. The officers of the board are Rev. H. W. Reed, D. D., President; Rev. P. T. Rhodes, Vice President; H. H. Taylor, Secretary; W. Plaskett, Treasurer, Rev. J. N. Sullivan, Agent.
The present Faculty of the University is as follows:
Rev. W. H. Sweet, A. M., President and Professor of Mental and Moral Science; Rev. W. I. Graham, A. M., Professor of Ancient Languages; Rev. C. A. Weaver, M. A., Professor of Mathematics; F. J. Baker, A. B., Professor of Natural Science; Ada C. Baker, B. L., Preceptress and Professor of English Literature; Amanda F. Plaskett, A. M., Professor of Painting and Drawing; W. I. Graham, A. M., Principal of Normal Department; E. R. Snyder, Professor of Instrumental and Vocal Music; E. J. Barkerville, Teacher of Penmanship and Elocution; F. J. Baker, Secretary and Curator of Cabinet; W. I. Graham, Treasurer; Amanda F. Plasket, Librarian.
Present number of students enrolled, 270.
Midland Railway is a non-profit organization chartered in 1982. Midland purchased the rail line from Baldwin City to Ottawa, Kansas from the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1987, and began running excursion trains on part of the line later that year. Total length of the railroad is 11 miles.
Midland operates a demonstration historic railroad. The base of operations for the Midland Railway is the depot built in 1906 by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway at 1515 High St. in Baldwin City. This building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Starting in 2004, excursion trains are run all the way from Baldwin City to Ottawa.
The regular operating season runs from Memorial Day to October 31. Special events and fairs are held at various times through the year. Weekend Boy Scout camps are held in the spring and fall. Midland's Scout program is one of the few in the country to offer a railroading merit badge.
Maple Leaf Festival
The Maple Leaf Festival is an event held every year during the third full weekend in October. It was started in fall of 1958 as a way to celebrate a successful harvest, and to view Baldwin City’s fall foliage, especially that of the numerous maple trees. Today, it is the largest fall family event in the area. Included in the festivities are a parade, arts and craft show, quilt show, theatrical performances, history tours of the area, and train rides on the Midland Railway. One such theatrical performance was The Ballad Of Black Jack, which tells of the Bleeding Kansas years of 1855-56. It was written for the 1970 Festival by a Baker professor and playwright Don Mueller (not to be confused with the baseball player of the same name), and performed during the festival from 1970-83 and again from 2001-05. It moved to Lawrence in 1986 and was played there again in August 2006 as part of that city's "Civil War On The Western Frontier" program.
Baldwin City is home to Baker University a liberal arts university founded in Baldwin City, Kansas by United Methodist ministers.
The USD 348 public school district is also located in Baldwin City.
Battle of Black Jack
Much more about the Battle of Black Jack
About three miles east of town near US 56 is the site of the Battle of Black Jack; the first skirmish between opposing armed groups that preceded the Civil War. This event took place on June 2, 1856, when Abolitionist John Brown and his men attacked Pro-slavery advocate Henry Clay Pate and his men. Eventually, Pate’s group surrendered to Brown’s group.
Adjacent to the site are an old log cabin, and wagon wheel swales left from the Santa Fe Trail – the route of westward migration from Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico, New Mexico.
Baldwin City is located at 38°46'39N, 95°11'15W (38.777597, -95.187418).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.6 km² (2.2 mi²), all land. Baldwin City is the only town with its name in the United States.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,400 people, 1,077 households, and 774 families residing in the city. The population density was 605.0/km² (1,565.1/mi²). There were 1,165 housing units at an average density of 207.3/km² (536.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.62% White, 1.12% African American, 0.74% Native American, 0.62% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.38% from other races, and 3.47% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.62% of the population.
There were 1,077 households out of which 39.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.8% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.1% were non-families. 24.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.3% under the age of 18, 21.8% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 17.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $43,269, and the median income for a family was $51,667. Males had a median income of $37,111 versus $25,850 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,698. About 5.6% of families and 7.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.0% of those under age 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over.