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MEMORIES IN FOCUS: No longer roughing it after 20 years years ago

Marion pioneer A.E. Case, great-grandfather of 2018 Old Settlers’ Day parade marshal Rosse Case, lived in 1884 in this house on the northwest corner of Denver and Locust Sts.

The house, which fronted onto Denver in a block that originally was platted without an alley to serve as the county courthouse square, was razed in the 1950s to make way for Jean Pierce’s current residence, which fronts onto Locust.

While not among the three families that initially settled Marion in 1860, Case was instrumental in development of both the city and the county.

Son of a farmer and cabinet worker from north central Pennsylvania, he made a homestead claim in Marion after his discharge from the Civil War’s Union Army in 1865 at age 36.

That same year, five years after the first settlers arrived, he was one of six people listed as the official organizers of Marion County.

In partnership with fellow organizer Levi Billings, who had arrived two years earlier, he founded a real estate and loan business that financed much of the early construction in town.

He went on two years later to earn an insurance commission and admission to the bar as an attorney.

Case and Billings’ big break came when they were appointed to sell land granted to the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad when it was built across the southern portion of Marion County.

Case also served in a variety of elected positions, including state representative in 1869 and 1870, county surveyor from 1866 to 1873 and in later years, and as county attorney in 1869.

That same year, Case, Billings and three other noted pioneers —J.H. Costello, A.A. Moore and J.N. Rodgers — made arrangements to bring what became the Marion County Record to the county.

The businessmen reached out to A.W. Robinson, publisher of a small newspaper known as the Western News, to relocate here from Detroit in Dickinson County.

Now an unincorporated area six miles east of Abilene, Detroit at the time had been a significant rival to Abilene as the potential county seat for Dickinson County.

Robinson had been Detroit’s most vocal supporter, arguing that Abilene was too violent to serve as a county seat, but he opted to move to Marion after Abilene won a hotly contested election.

Under a series of owners over the next two years, the paper’s name was changed to the Western Giant and then the Marion County Record, which in 1874 was purchased by E.W. Hoch, later to become Kansas governor.

Last modified Sept. 19, 2018

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