Gardner is a city in Johnson County, Kansas. The population in 2006 was 13,321. Gardner plays host each year to the Johnson County Fair, The city is located at the junction of Highways I-35 and US-56. The man for whom Gardner Township was named, Chaplain O. B. Gardner, was killed by Jesse James in 1864.


The Early History of Gardner
by William G. Cutler (1883)
Gardner, so named in honor of Gov. Gardner, of Massachusetts, is beautifully situated on level prairie, ten miles southwest of Olathe, on the Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Kansas Railroad. It was surveyed and platted in 1857 by a Town Company composed of O. B. Gardner, Benjamin B. Francis, A. B. Bartlett and others, who built the first house in the town. This was a frame building, 14X20, and designed merely for temporary purposes. Benjamin Davis kept the first hotel in a small log building; then in a frame one, and in the spring of 1858, J. W. Sponable built and opened a store, the first in town.

The Town Company built the stone hotel in 1857. It was 36X40 feet and two stories high. Daniel O'Sullivan was the first blacksmith, having opened his shop in the fall of 1857. Dr. W. H. Shean arrived in 1857, and was the first physician in the town. In the spring of 1858, S. H. Church and S. G. Sponable started the second store, and for some years both stores in Gardner did a wholesale as well as a retail business. In the same spring W. H. Page started a shoe shop.

The first school taught in Gardner was a private one by Miss Myra D. Shean, now Mrs. L. W. Swan. The school district was organized in the winter of 1858-59, and the first public school taught the next summer by Miss Mary Williams. A stone schoolhouse was built in 1861, and in 1879, a fine two story frame schoolhouse at a cost, including furniture and apparatus if $3,000.

The first church organization was that of the Methodists, a temporary one, in 1857. They were re-organized in 1859, and built their church edifice in 1878, at a cost of $2,200, and dedicated by Rev. J. C. Telford, who was minister at the time. He was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Wolford, and then came Rev. Mr. Osborn.

The first child born in Gardner was a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. O. B. Gardner, July 25, 1858. The first marriage was that of W. J. Ott to Miss Emma Davis, in the fall of 1859, and the first death that of Asa Thayer, in June, 1858.

The Presbyterian was the first permanent church organization in the town, having been effected in 1858. Their church edifice was erected in 1870, at a cost of $3,000. Their ministers have been Rev. Messrs. Beach, William H. Smith and J. N. Rankin, the present incumbent. The Catholic Church was organized in 1870, after the completion of the railroad to this place, and their church building erected in 1870, costing about $2,000. The Baptist Church was organized in 1878, and their church built in 1879, at a cost of $2,000. Their ministers have been Revs. W. A. Stewart, A. Jenkins and S. A. Smith.

A Grange store was opened here May 29, 1882, under the auspices of the central store at Olathe, with S. McMillan as manager.

Gardner now contains four general stores, one hardware store, two blacksmiths, one agricultural implement dealer, two drug stores, two hotels, and about two hundred and fifty inhabitants.

Gardner Lodge A. F. & A. M., No. 65, was organized in October, 1871, with eleven charter members, and the following officers: E. Clark, W. M.; I. B. Uhl, S. W.; J. B. Bruner, J. W.; I. D. Clapp, secretary. The present membership is thirty-four. Gardner Lodge I. O. O. F. No. 23, was organized September 21, 1866, with five members, and was the only Odd Fellow Lodge in the county. The charter members and officers were as follows: W. I. Bigelow, N. G.; V. R. Ellis, V. G.: G. M. Waugh, P. G.; Wm. Roy and Isaac Darland. The present membership is is forty-two.

The Good Templars were organized February 6, 1879, with twenty-seven members. The officers were S. F. Wilson, W. C. T.; Miss Tennie Humbert, V. T.; Walter Jones, secretary; Miss Lillie Ott, financial secretary, and Miss Georgie Ott, treasurer. The present membership is ninety-three.

The Gardner Library Association was organized in 1862. The library contains at present 600 volumes.

The town of Garnder was sacked October 25, 1861, by Up Hays' gang. No houses were burned and no murders committed, but about $3,000 worth of goods were stolen from the stores.

At the breaking out of the war Gardner Township had 103 voters, and signalized herself by sending into the army eighty-three soldiers.

O. B. Gardner, after whom the township and town were both named, was killed in the fall of 1864, by Jesse James, when on the way to Fort Smith, Arkansas. He was Chaplain of the Thirteenth Regiment, and had been North with a party of refugees, and was on his return to the regiment.

Gardner is located at 38°48'45N, 94°55'7W (38.812367, -94.918621). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.8 km² (4.9 mi²), all land.

As of the census of 2000, there were 9,396 people, 3,307 households, and 2,460 families residing in the city. The population density was 732.9/km² (1,898.5/mi²). There were 3,533 housing units at an average density of 275.6/km² (713.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.13% White, 1.21% African American, 0.49% Native American, 1.05% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.26% from other races, and 1.85% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.99% of the population. 26.8% were of German, 18.2% American, 11.5% Irish and 5.6% English ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 3,307 households out of which 47.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.5% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.6% were non-families. 19.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80 and the average family size was 3.23.

In the city the population was spread out with 33.1% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 38.4% from 25 to 44, 13.7% from 45 to 64, and 6.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 96.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $50,807, and the median income for a family was $54,554. Males had a median income of $37,438 versus $27,553 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,434. About 5.3% of families and 6.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.1% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.

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