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Marion through the years

1860s

1860 — The first settlers arrived at the Marion site from Indiana in June. They were George and Betsy Griffith and three children; William and Charity Shreve and seven children; William and Keziah Billings and three children; John and Edward Griffith, Benjamin Frazier, and Henry Blanchard.

1862 — First post office established, and estimated date the settlement was officially named Marion Centre.

1863 — First community-wide celebration; 90 people gathered in Billings Park to commemorate the 4th of July.

1864 — First schoolhouse built was built with logs borrowed from John Snow; school term cut short due to fear of Indian raids, which never materialized.

1868 — Alex Case became local agent for Kansas State Fire Insurance Co., establishing an agency which as current-day Case and Son Insurance, Inc. is Marion’s oldest business.

1869 — First stone house was erected by William Billings, Marion’s first postmaster.

1869 — Fire destroyed a row of frame buildings on Main Street.

1870s

1870 — Marion County Record established

1871 — Hannaford Abstract Company established

1872 — First church built in Marion Centre. The Presbyterian Church was used as a community center for a time and a meeting place for other faiths until they had churches of their own.

1872 — Marion’s first bank, the Bank of Marion Centre, was established

1872 — The first water grist mill in Marion County was established in Marion; additional mills established in 1882, 1884, and 1888.

1873 — Highland Cemetery Association chartered, land for Highland Cemetery purchased for $800 from Marshall and Angeline Freeborn.

1874 — A grasshopper plague decimated area crops.

1874 — Construction of the historic “hill” school building was completed at a cost of approximately $15,000; the building remains the oldest building in continuous use for school in the state.

1875 — Marion Centre was incorporated as a third-class city and adopted a mayor/council form of government; John H. Costello was elected the first mayor.

1875 — The first tax levies of 2 mills for general revenue and 2 mills for city improvements were enacted; an ordinance required tavern keepers to have a $150 license.

1877 — The first sidewalks in Marion were constructed.

1879 — The Marion and McPherson Railroad opened service between Marion and Florence.

1880s

1880 — The first direct-line telephone was installed by pharmacist John Wand between his home and drugstore.

1881 — The Marion Centre Library Association was established. Marion had no library from 1895 to 1902. Various social clubs supported a library until the city-operated Marion Public Library and Reading Room was established in 1916.

1882 — The name of the town was officially changed from Marion Centre to Marion.

1886 — City ordinance passed prohibiting construction of buildings made of combustible materials on Main Street between Muddy Creek and Walnut Street; prior and subsequent construction gave rise to town nickname of “Stone City.”

1886 — The Elgin Hotel, the largest of several hotels in that era, was constructed for $25,000.

1887 — The Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railroad (later known as the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway) opened service through Marion.

1887 — The right to erect and operate an electric system was granted to J.A. Jones of Wichita; the system was operational in 1891.

1887 — Marion Water Works Company was chartered and authorized to supply water for non-drinking purposes.

1888 — The first volunteer fire department, Hose Company #1, was organized consisting of two hand hose carts, a thousand feet of hose, and a village ladder wagon.

1888 — Marion was designated a second-class city by Gov. John Martin as a result of increased population.

1888 — Marion Telephone Company was granted a charter for providing telephone service; a telephone exchange was operational in 1890

1889 — Marion streets were improved by covering them with 12 inches of crushed rock.

1890S

1890 — The first city municipal building was constructed on south side of Main Street on the west bank of Mud Creek.

1893 — Al Holder opened a barber shop which he operated until 1965.

1894 — The land for Central Park was purchased from Levi Billings for $1,000. Dan Lindsay was appointed Central Park commissioner in 1986.

1900S

1904 — Edward Wallis Hoch, the first editor of the Marion County Record, was elected Governor of Kansas and served from 1905 to 1909.

1907 — A bond issue was passed for city government to purchase and expand the existing private water system.

1907 — Marion’s first hospital was established, and in 1914 was operated by Doctors R.C. Smith and G.J. Goodsheller.

1909 — A $12,000 bond issue was passed to build a municipal electric plant to replace private electrical suppliers.

1910S

1910 — The form of city government was changed to the commission form.

1912 — The Marion County Old Settlers’ Association was established, and the first Old Settlers’ Day held (though other events bearing the name were held as early as 1881).

1918 — A rural mail delivery system with five routes was established; residential mail delivery was established in 1919.

1919 — A massive project to re-route Mud Creek and Cottonwood River to reduce flooding was initiated, which involved filling in, straightening, and creating new channels. It took 18 months to complete the project.

1920S

1922 — A new Marion High School building was completed.

1926 — A natural gas distribution system was built and operated by C.A. Nicholl.

1929 — Bown-Corby elementary school built in the valley, named after longtime teachers Anna Bown and Jenny Corby.

1930S

1936 — The city government assumed the operation and financing of the volunteer fire department.

1938 — The sewage disposal plant was built.

1938 — The U.S. Postal Service constructed a new post office on Main Street next to Mud Creek.

1939 — A new city hall and auditorium was dedicated.

1940S

1945 — Riddle Quarries was established on north side of Marion; in 1966 the business was purchased by Hallett Construction Company.

1945 — A bond issue was passed for purchase of land and construction of Marion Municipal Airport.

1946 — Central West Utility Company assumed operation of the natural gas system.

1950S

1951 — The largest flood in Marion history occurred in July, the result of heavy rains in both June and July. Main Street was covered by six feet of water.

1952 — St. Luke Hospital was established, and the Sisters Adorers of the Most Precious Blood who provided 25% of the funding for the facility operated the hospital.

1954 — The historic former YMCA building, which in 1954 housed a bowling and recreation center and the medical practice of Dr. R. R. Melton, was destroyed by a fire. The extensive damage necessitated demolition of the remaining walls.

1959 — Hospital District #1 became the sole owner of St. Luke Hospital, and entered into an agreement with Lutheran Homes and Hospital Society of Fargo, N.D. to operate the hospital.

1960S

1960 — A new elementary school was built on the east side of Marion; the school has had two additions in later years.

1961 — The Marion County Museum was established in the former Baptist church on Main Street east of Central Park. The museum became Marion City Museum.

1964 — Construction of Marion Reservoir was initiated to provide flood control and supply water to Marion.

1965 — Greeley Gas Company assumed operation of the natural gas system.

1968 — The Case Building and Duckwalls store were destroyed by fire.

1968 — Construction of Marion Reservoir was completed, and the project was brought to full flood control operation.

1969 — The Florence and Marion school districts unified into USD #408. All grade levels were eventually consolidated in facilities in Marion in the 1980s.

1970S

1971 — Hilltop Manor was constructed to provide low-cost senior housing; age restrictions were eventually lifted to provide options for low-income housing.

1972 — County ambulance service begins, including Marion.

1975 — The U.S. Postal Service ended Sunday mail service in Marion; Kansas and Nebraska were the last two states that provided it.

1976 — The Elgin House Apartments were completed; the Hill school and Marion County Courthouse were listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1977 — A diversion dike for flood control around the west side of Marion was completed.

1980S

1981- Marion Senior Center opened on South Third Street.

1982 — The stone bridge spanning Mud Creek on Main Street was demolished and replaced by a landfill bridge.

1984 — U.S. Senator Robert Dole was the featured speaker for Marion High School Centennial Graduation.

1984 — Kansas Department of Transportation introduced a proposal to relocate U.S. 56 one mile north of Marion, eliminating highway traffic on Main Street.

1986 — U.S. 56 relocation construction was temporarily delayed when Native American relics were discovered near the location of the highway department building.

1987 — Marion Die & Fixture moved into a new 10,800 square feet, $250,000 facility double the size of its former location.

1987 — September Apartments opened.

1988 — U.S. 56 relocation project was completed.

1989 — A concrete platform stage was built on the south bank of the landfill bridge on Main Street.

1990S

1990 — Marion County Historical Museum was turned over to the City of Marion, became Marion City Museum; 911 went on line in Marion; Santa Fe Railroad considered abandoning line through Marion; long-term care unit at St. Luke Hospital renamed St. Luke Living Center and given a separate entrance.

1991 — Martin Marietta quarry north of Marion opened.

1993 — Flooding washed out the railroad tracks northwest of Marion, and the rail line between Marion and McPherson closed.

1995 — Carla Stovall, Marion native, became Kansas Attorney General; she served until 2003.

1996 — Sunrise Townhomes constructed.

1996 — The first cell towers were erected near Marion.

1996 — Following much controversy and strong opposition, the Marion County Commission rejected the establishment of a proposed Browning Ferris Industries landfill north of Marion.

1998 — USD 408 opened a new junior high addition to high school building.

1997 — The first Chingawassa Days festival was held.

2000S

2000 — An industrial park in the north part of town along U.S. 56 was dedicated.

2001 — The historic springs in Central Park were restored through a $50,000 donation from Paul Brooker.

2002 — Marion City Library opened in the newly renovated Santa Fe Depot.

2004 — Marion Assisted Living opened; St. Luke Hospital discontinued delivery of babies.

2005 — Marion City Commission approved a charter ordinance to expand from three members to five.

2005 — A January ice storm battered Marion and the state, resulting in damage in excess of $1.5 million in Marion County.

2007 — Construction began on USD 408 Sports and Aquatic Center and Performing Arts Center.

2008 — Renovation of the historic Elgin Hotel was completed.

Last modified Sept. 22, 2011

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