Atchison, Kansas

Coordinates: 39°33′45″N 95°7′42″W / 39.56250°N 95.12833°W / 39.56250; -95.12833
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Atchison, Kansas
Commercial Street in downtown Atchison (2006)
Commercial Street in downtown Atchison (2006)
Location within Atchison County and Kansas
Location within Atchison County and Kansas
KDOT map of Atchison County (legend)
Coordinates: 39°33′45″N 95°7′42″W / 39.56250°N 95.12833°W / 39.56250; -95.12833[1]
CountryUnited States
Named forDavid Rice Atchison
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • Total8.47 sq mi (21.93 km2)
 • Land8.01 sq mi (20.75 km2)
 • Water0.46 sq mi (1.18 km2)
Elevation869 ft (265 m)
 • Total10,885
 • Density1,300/sq mi (500/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
66002 [4]
Area code913
FIPS code20-02900
GNIS ID485542[1]

Atchison is a city and county seat of Atchison County, Kansas, United States, and is along the Missouri River. As of the 2020 census, its population was 10,885.[3] The city is named for David Rice Atchison, a United States senator from Missouri. It was the original eastern starting point of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Aviator Amelia Earhart was born there. The Amelia Earhart Festival is held every year in July. Atchison is also home of Benedictine College, a Catholic liberal-arts college.

History[change | change source]

Founding[change | change source]

Atchison was founded in 1854. It was named for Senator David Rice Atchison, who, when Kansas was opened for settlement, interested some of his friends in the scheme of forming a city in the new territory.[5] Senator Atchison was interested in making sure that the population of the new Kansas Territory would be mainly pro-slavery. He had been a prominent promoter of both slavery and the idea of popular sovereignty over the issue in the new lands. However, it seems that all were not agreed upon the location he had selected. On July 20, 1854, Dr. John H. Stringfellow, Ira Norris, Leonidas Oldham, James B. Martin and Neal Owens left Platte City, Missouri, to decide definitely upon a site. They found a site that was the natural outlet of a remarkably rich agricultural region just open to settlement. Eighteen persons were present when the town company was formally organized by electing Peter T. Abell, president. James Burns was elected treasurer. Dr. Stringfellow was elected the town secretary.

Civil War[change | change source]

At the outbreak of the American Civil War there were three militia companies organized in Atchison. They joined other Kansas regiments. They were known as Companies A, C and “At All Hazards”. Early in September 1861, a home guard was organized in the town to protect it in case of invasion from Missouri. On the 15th of the month another company was raised, which later became a state regiment. In 1863 the city of Atchison raised $4,000 to assist the soldiers from the county. After the Lawrence Massacre a like sum was raised to assist the stricken people of that city. Citizens of the town also joined the vigilance committees that aided the civil authorities in protection against raiding and the lawless bands of thieves that infested the border counties.[6]

During the war, Atchison was also the headquarters of numerous bands of jayhawkers. This included the notorious Charles Metz, who was known as "Cleveland". Metz, a former prisoner at the Missouri State Penitentiary, selected Atchison as his headquarters for raids into Missouri. He was accepted with open arms by the people of the town.[7] During his period of operations, he stole hundreds of horses from Missouri farmers and sold them in Kansas. He robbed any suspected southern sympathizer and threatened several leading citizens with murder and robbery if they remained in town. He even ran off the first president of Atchison, P.T. Abell, who was forced into exile until after the Civil War ended. He defied all authorities but was finally shot and killed at some point in 1862. He is buried in St. Joseph, Missouri.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Atchison, Kansas
  2. "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 19, 2023.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "QuickFacts: Atchison city, Kansas". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 19, 2023.
  4. United States Postal Service (2012). "USPS - Look Up a ZIP Code". Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  5. Frank W. Blackmar, ed. (1912). "Atchison". Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc ... Vol. I. Chicago: Standard Pub Co. pp. 108–111. Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2016-06-14. The primary source for this history.
  6. "Atchison, Kansas - Page 2". Legends of Kansas. Archived from the original on 23 June 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  7. Ingalls, Sheffield (1916). History of Atchison County, Kansas. Standard Publishing Company.