Lyndon is a city of the third class, and has a population of about six hundred. There are two hotels, one bank, one flouring mill, two newspapers, three churches, a large two-story schoolhouse, and a number of business houses, which enjoy a good trade in all branches common to a country trade. Many of the buildings in the town are large, substantial and present a fine appearance.
The first settlement on what is now the site of Lyndon, was in April, 1869. The diminished reservation of the Sac and Fox Indians had just been opened for settlement, and M. M. Snow, William Haas, B. G. Hall, and S. C. Gilliland conceived the idea of pre-empting a tract of land here with a view to laying out a town and ultimately to secure the county-seat. Each entered a claim of 160 acres, making an entire body of 640 acres, on Section 31, Township 16, Range 16, and on Section 6, Township 17, Range 16.
Soon after removing to their claims M. M. Snow opened a store, where he enjoyed a good trade as the adjoining country was fast being settled. In the fall of 1869, a post-office was established and called Osage Center. M. M. Snow as appointed postmaster. It was proposed to lay out a town on forty acres from each of the quarter sections above named, making a town site of 160 acres, but the owners lacked the means to improve the town. The new town was called Osage Center.
Early in the year 1870, N. D. Fairbanks, then living at Burlingame, at the solicitation of the owners of the land, entered into a correspondence with Judge Lawrence D. Bailey, relative to forming a Town Company. A meeting was held, a Town company formed, with Judge Bailey at its head, and the name Lyndon selected for the proposed town.
On March 7, 1870, the town was surveyed, and it was not long till building commenced on a large scale. There was one grand rush for the new town that was expected so soon to become a city as well as the county-seat. From the very first, lots sold for a high price, and within the first three months, the price was increased until $1,000 was asked for desirable corner lots. By July there were several business houses opened, while others were being built.
By the middle of October there were fully one hundred and twenty buildings, of which about twenty were business houses. There were then two hotels. The population numbered about five hundred. A county-seat election was held in October and Lyndon declared the county capital, and though the officers were enjoined not to removed the records to the new town, it continued to improve for some time, and additions were made to the old site.
The first birth was in the summer of 1870, and was that of a girl named Lyndon Smith. The first death was that of Amos A. Gardner, on October 10, 1870. The first marriage was that of L. D. Gardner and Sarah E. Thomas on January 3, 1871. The first school was taught in the summer of 1870, by J. M. Watkins, in a house on the hill, in the northwestern part of the town. The first schoolhouse was built in 1870, in the southeastern part of the town, where the new stone house now stands, and the first term of school was taught in the spring of 1871, by Prof. J. S. Whitman and an assistant. The first sermon was preached in the spring of 1870, by Rev. Mr. Barker, a Baptist minister. The first church was the Methodist Episcopal, built late in the year 1870.
On May 1, 1871, Lyndon became a city of the third class. S. C. Gilliland was elected Mayor, and H. W. Jenness, John S. Edie, William Haas, M. M. Snow, and J. W. Hammond, City councilmen.
Not securing the county-seat the town soon began to go down, and for a time it looked as if it would be deserted altogether. The value of property depreciated, and a great number of the lots, were sold, for taxes and never redeemed. For a time lots could be bought for a trifle, though the same had sold before for a high price. A great many of the houses were moved away, the most of them to be used as farm residences in the neighborhood.
A few only of the business men remained, but these were generally prosperous, even during the most discouraging period, with the exception of the dull years incident to the grasshopper raid of 1874. When the county offices and records were moved to Lyndon in 1875 that gave but little impetus to the growth of the town, as no one regarded the county-seat contest as settled, and until 1879 but few improvements were made. The county-seat contest ending in 1878, and Lyndon still holding it, there began to be a much greater confidence in the future prosperity of the town, and the next year improvements began, since which time it has progress slowly but steadily.
At no time during its history has the town had so good prospects for future success as the present. It is surrounded by a good farming country, settled by a thrifty and enterprising class of farmers, who give the town a good trade, and there are prospects for a railroad before very long, an effort now being made to secure the building of the Nebraska, Topeka, Iola & Memphis Railroad by this route. The citizens are of an enterprising class, with a stability calculated to work for the best interest of the town.
The city government is in a thriving condition. The following are the city officers: J. W. Keenan, Mayor; C. Ransom, Police Judge; G. W. Morris, Clerk; J. Worth, Street Commissioner. Councilmen: E. Olcott, J. H. Stavely, J. H. Howe, C. F. Bixby and J. M. Barnes.
The citizens of Lyndon are moral, and the cause of religion has always kept pace with the improvement of the town. All religious enterprises are liberally supported, and a large percentage of the people are church members.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1870. It was then attached to the Quenemo circuit. Rev. Jesse Wilkins preached for a few weeks, when he was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Harding, of Melvern. A small church, costing about $700, was built the same year. Mrs. Uber and Mrs. Hall were particularly active in raising this money. The first regular pastor was Rev. O. H. Call, appointed in 1871. The society has continued to prosper, and now has a church costing $3,000, completed in 1882. The society now has 110 members. Rev. G. W. Browning is pastor.
The Presbyterian Church was organized at Averill's Hall, in December, 1870, by Rev. John Rankin. The members were: Robert W. Anderson, Rebecca Fish, Jacob Hoke, Mrs. Martha Hoke, Mrs. Mary E. Morris, Mrs. M. Milner, O. S. Pine, Mrs. Jane Rankin, Thomas L. Rankin, Mrs. Charlotte Rankin, J. H. Smith, Annie W. Smith, Silas B. Tower, Pamelia L. Tyler, and Thomas M. Wallace. The first elders were: R. W. Anderson and O. S. Pine. Rev. W. W. Curtis, of New York, took charge of the church in March, 1871, and on the 24th of the same month the church was reorganized. In 1874 the church building was erected, at a cost of $3,000. The society now numbers forty-eight members. Rev. Morgan Williams is the pastor.
The United Presbyterian Church was organized in May, 1872, by Rev. E. C. Cook. The church building was erected in 1881, at a cost of $1,100. Rev. Samuel Alexander is the pastor. He assumed charge June 27, 1882, and was the first regular minister. The church now has thirty members.
From the beginning of the history of the town, its educational interests have been encouraged and liberally supported. It has always had one of the best schools in the county. There are now only two departments, but it is proposed to soon add another. The old schoolhouse being too small, another is building. It is of stone, 40x60 feet in dimension, two stories high, and will contain four large classrooms, besides the necessary smaller ones, and will, when complete and furnished, cost about $7,000.
Since the foundation of the town the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Independent Order of Good Templars have had an organization, but have since suspended. The remaining lodges are named below.
Valley Brook Lodge, No. 2,012, K. of H., was instituted January 13, 1880. Monroe Pettigrew was Dictator; E. A. Barrett (since deceased), Reporter; J. S. Whitman, Financial Reporter; and P. L. West, Treasurer. The other charter members were: W. W. Morris, J. M. Moran, L. D. Gardner, J. H. Johnson, W. W. Bodine, W. H. Riddle, James Smith, Joseph Lewis and George Braun. The lodge has now seventeen members, and is in a prosperous condition.
Euclid Lodge, No. 101, A., F. & A. M., was instituted in 1871, with S. C. Gilliland W. M. It has ever since kept up an organization, and is in a prosperous condition.
Lyndon Post, No. 19, G. A. R., was organized in December, 1880, with eleven members. J. H. Sowell was Post Commander, and J. T. Underwood Adjutant. The Post is in a flourishing condition, and has forty-one members.
The Lyndon Cornet Band is composed of thirteen pieces, with the following officers: James Bain, Leader; E. A. Atwell, President; W. S. Olcott, Vice-President; H. S. Whitman, Treasurer; and R. A. Miller, Secretary.
The newspaper history begins with the establishment of the Lyndon Signal, March 3, 1870. L. J. Perry published the first number, at Ottawa, and was then succeeded by J. J. Johnson, who published it at Lyndon for some time, when he was succeeded by G. B. Jenness. It existed only about a year. The Osage County Observer was established in December, 1872, by C. R. Bentley and Peter Kirby, who sold it to George Hoover, who continued its publication but a short time. The Osage County Sentinel was started in March, 1873, by L. D. Bailey, but in a short time it was discontinued.
The Lyndon Times was established on October 15, 1874, by R. A. Miller and Theodore Whitted, but it existed only for a short time when its suspended. It was re-established by R. A. and W. F. Miller, September 30, 1875. The name was changed to the Lyndon Journal on February 9, 1882, and still continues under that name. It is a seven-column folio paper, Republican in politics. The Lyndon Leader was established January 1, 1881. J. H. Stavely is editor and proprietor. The paper is a six-column quarto, is Republican in politics, and is ably conducted.
The Lyndon Savings Bank began operations early in the year 1882. O. C. Williams is President; J. H. Stavely, Vice-President; and W. A. Madaris, Cashier. The capital stock is $50,000. A general banking and collection business is done.
The Lyndon Flouring Mill is a steam mill, kept in constant operation, and turns out a large quantity of excellent flour. The mill was moved from Franklin County in 1873. The citizens donated five acres of land, built a good stone foundation, and moved the mill for the owners free of charge. After that time the property changed hands several times, but is now owned by C. F. Bixby & Bro.
Lyndon is located at 38°36'37N, 95°41'7W (38.610233, -95.685352). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.9 km² (0.8 mi²), all land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,038 people, 419 households, and 297 families residing in the city. The population density was 534.4/km² (1,387.5/mi²). There were 453 housing units at an average density of 233.2/km² (605.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.98% White, 0.48% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 0.77% from other races, and 0.48% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.77% of the population.
There were 419 households out of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.5% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.9% were non-families. 24.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.91.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.0% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 18.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 101.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,250, and the median income for a family was $44,231. Males had a median income of $33,750 versus $19,671 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,968. About 7.8% of families and 10.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.4% of those under age 18 and 14.7% of those age 65 or over.