Birth of a City
by William G. Cutler (1883)

In June, 1872, L. G. Skancke was Chief Clerk in the Land Office at Salina, Kansas. Being informed by T. J. Wickersham, an old settler of Salina County, that a colony of Kentuckians intended to settle upon what was then known as the 'McPherson Flats,' he conceived the idea that it would be a good plan to lay out a town in this vicinity.


After examining the maps in his office Mr. Skancke selected the west half of Section 28 and the east half of Section 29, as the center of the 'Flats,' and decid (sic) to locate a town there. After having made a map of the different townships, including the plat designated, for a town site he sought a few friends in Salina and laid the proposition before them.

The scheme was thought plausible by them, and several of them decided to go down the following Sunday to examine the land. They hired an old stage, driven by one Mr. Huebner, and loading up with crackers, cheese and 'et ceteras,' they dashed out of Salina bright and early (4 a. m.) Sunday morning, June 4, 1872. Resting at Lindsborg, where they arrived at 8 a. m., they breakfasted, rested their horses, and proceeded to cross the Smoky Hill at its best ford. The party consisted of James Marlin, who sat outside with the driver, and Oscar Seitz, L. G. Skancke and R. H. Bishop, inside passengers.

Besides the 'eatables' and 'drinkables' they were loaded also with guns and ammunition. Well, while crossing the Smoky Hill River, about one mile and a half east of Lindsborg, just as the old stage left the bank over it tipped, and men, horses, crackers, cheese, etc., were in confusion. Mr. Marlin and driver, who were on top of the coach, were dumped into the river, and escaped by floundering around a little, up to their waists in the water. The inside passengers, however, were in considerable of a predicament, for the old vehicle filled with water and Mr. Bishop had fallen on top of Mr. Skancke.

Mr. Seitz crawled out of the back window of the coach, and after a serious struggle with the watery element the other two passengers effected an exit. This was the only accident that marred the harmony of the journey to McPherson. After shaking themselves and taking an inventory of their cargo to see that nothing was lost the party proceeded on to Point Creek, where their number was increased by J. R. Fisher and T. E. Simpson. Then journeying eastwardly across the hills They (sic) struck the section line, north and south, between sections 28 and 29. township 17, Range 3, west, about six miles north of the present site of McPherson.

Tying a handkerchief to the front wheel of the old coach, to mark its revolutions and compute the distance, they followed the line south and at noon found themselves in the center of the proposed town flat. They called the place McPherson Center and proceeded to organize the Town Company, with Mr. Marlin as president; Mr. Skancke, secretary; Mr. Bishop, treasurer. The next thing to be done was to make 'improvements.' So Mr. Skancke dug a hole where the four quarters of land met; Mr. Seitz broke ground where the McPherson House now stands (Smith's hotel); Mr. Bishop excavated his pit where Lintner & Wheeler's hardware store now is; Mr. Fisher made his 'improvement' where the new Farmers and Merchant's Bank is now building; and Mr. Simpson improved a bit of the land now composing the site of Mr. Barne's (sic) store.

The improvements having been completed and dinner finished J. U. Fellows, of King City, came riding up on horseback and asked the founders of McPherson what they were doing. They informed Mr. Fellows that they had just laid out a town, and that gentleman replied that he had selected one of the quarters in the plat but would take the one to the northeast, which he accordingly did. In behalf of the company and for the use and benefit of the inhabitants of the town the first filing on the site was made by James Marlin. In July learning that one Crum intended to lay out a town on Section 16, and that parties from King City also were bent upon establishing a town in the immediate vicinity, the original town company received Messrs. Woodside, Hendry, John W. Hill (president of the King City Company) and others as members of the consolidated organization.


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