Pittsburg, Kansas Early History

updated April 5, 2008  
  Early History Articles


This city is situated in the southeastern part of Crawford County, thirty miles from Joplin, Mo., and twelve miles from Girard. In 1876, the firm of Moffett & Sargent built the Girard & Joplin Railroad, a short line connecting those two points. This road passed through the extensive coal fields in the southeastern part of Crawford County. The coal interests in this section had already been tested in a small way but as yet had no convenient outlet until the building of this line of road. The extent of the coal interests and the probability of its being the site of manufacturing enterprises were the chief reasons for the founding of the town. In the spring of 1876, Col. Ed. H. Brown, working in the interest of Moffett & Sargent, established and laid out the site. Prior to this however, this firm had purchased two tracts of coal land from the K. C., F. S. & G. Railroad Company. One of these tracts lay in the immediate vicinity of the town site, and the other a short distance from it, both tracts comprising an area of 25,000 acres.

The land upon which the site was located was originally the property of Jacob Pugh. It comprised one hundred and sixty acres, made up from adjacent forty-acre tracts in Sections 19, 20, 29 and 30, in Township 30, Range 25. At the time the site was laid out there was but one building upon it which belonged to Jacob Pugh, and stood where J. R. Lindburg's drug store now stands. It was moved away June 5, 1876. G. W. Seabury & Co. built the first business house in which they put a general stock of merchandise. It was a one-story frame house twenty feet square. J. T. Roach erected the first dwelling July 18, 1876. From the time the town was laid out until October of the same year, the population increased to about 100, and it contained three stores, two blacksmith and wagon shops, a hotel and post office.

The Cherryvale Division of the K. C., F. S. & G. R. R. was constructed through the town in the fall of 1882. The Girard and Joplin Railroad was sold in the summer of 1880 to the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad Company for $300,000, and the land owned by Moffett & Sargent was sold to the Pittsburg Town Company for $50,000.

The Town Company was composed of C. M. Condon, President, and B. F. Hobart, who thus became owners of the town site. These parties also comprised the Oswego Coal Company, and were engaged in the development of the coal interests upon their land. Subsequently they sold about fifty-five per cent of the stock to the St. L. & S. F. R. R. Co. and a new coal company became organized under the name of the Rogers Coal Company. The capital stock of the company is $200,000. The operations at this place is that of two shafts, and the production is about fifty cars of coal per day, employing a force of four hundred men. The sale of the coal is confined mainly to points along the St. L. & S. F. R. R. in Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas.

The business of the town company is in the hands of Maj. J. J. Rochusen as agent. Additions of forty acre tracts have recently been added to the site, one on the north and one on the east side. Another addition of forty acres is soon to be made, which is to contain a park. The company have a large number of lots on sale at prices ranging according to the quality and location. Business lots of 170 feet depth are held at from $8 to $24 front foot; residence lots vary in price according to the size and location from $100 to $225 per lot.

The Pittsburg Coal Company are engaged in the mining of coal. The entire shipment of coal from this point is from seventy-five to 100 cars per day.

The manufacture of zinc is also an important industry in the place. There are already three large zinc smelters in operation and another extensive one is in process of construction. The zinc ore which is smelted in these works is shipped from mines in Missouri, since it is cheaper to ship the ore to this point where coal is abundant than to ship the coal to points where zinc ore is mined, as it takes about three tons of coal to smelt one ton of zinc. Both the coal mines and the zinc smelters give employment to a large force of men and are the chief support and incentive to the building up of the city.

Pittsburg was incorporated as a city of the third class in the fall of 1879. M. M. Snow was elected first Mayor. He was re-elected and was succeeded in office by H. C. Willard. The first City Council was composed of the following named persons: J. R. Lindburg, W. McBride, F. Kalwitz, P. A. Shield and D. S. Miller. The present Councilmen are J. R. Lindburg, A. J. Georgia, C. S. Jennings, E. N. Aikin and J. W. Braidwood.

The first school was taught in the town in the fall of 1877; A. J. Georgia was teacher. It was kept in a schoolhouse that was erected during the summer. The building is a two-story frame, containing two departments. A second school building was erected in 1881, and is a one-story frame. The first school numbered an attendance of forty. The attendance at present is about 600, and the school population of the city is 850. The schools were graded in the summer of 1880, and was made to comprise three departments. Since then they have been divided into four departments, under charge of D. Hollinger, Principal, and Miss Ida Bromback, Miss Cora Edson and Mrs. James Officer, teachers.

A post office was established here in 1876, soon after the site was located. George Richey was the first Postmaster. He was succeeded in March, 1877, by A. J. Georgia, who has since occupied the office. It was made a money order office July 1, 1879, and the first order for $2.50 was issued on the 7th of that month to Dr. W. W. Watkins in favor of C. C. Archer, of St. Louis, Mo. The whole number of orders issued up to this time is 6,684. The office began the issue of foreign money orders July 1, 1882, and up to the present has issued 200 of these orders. The office does an important business in money orders. On the first day after it became authorized, $72 in orders were issued. Since then the business has greatly increased, so that from the 1st to the 15th of January the issue of orders amounted to $1,800.


The first paper started in the town was the Pittsburg Exponent. This sheet was begun by L. C. Hitchcock in June, 1879. After running about one year it was sold to the Flint Brothers of Girard, who began the publication of a paper called the Pittsburg Smelter. The paper began in March, 1881. It is a five-column quarto; Republic in politics.

Pittsburg Lodge, No. 187, A., F. & A. M., was instituted December 27, 1879, with sixteen charter members. The first officers of the lodge were C. W. Long, W. M.; J. W. Jennings, S. W.; A. E. Baxter, J. W.; J. R. Lindburg, Secretary; J. W. Spicer, Treasurer. There is a present membership of fifty, and the following are officers; M. M. Snow, W. M.; A. C. Fowler, S. W.; J. R. Lindburg, J. W.; F. W. Lanyon, Secretary; C. W. Long, Treasurer.

Black Diamond Lodge, No. 65, K. of P., was instituted December 20, 1882, by P. G. C. J. H. Lyon, of Leavenworth. The lodge began with twenty-two charter members, and now has thirty-two. The first officers were G. F. Keener, P. C.; S. Barrett, C. C.; C. W. Long, V. C; T. C. Malloy, K. of R. and S.; Charles Dyer, M. of F.; N. Coughnour, M. of Ex.; J. A. Nuttman, M. at A.; M. Lyden, I. G.; H. W. Black, O. G.

Pittsburg City Lodge, No. 196, I. O. O. F., was instituted February 1, 1882, under a dispensation with twenty-four charter members. The first officers were J. R. Wells, N. G.; H. L. James, V. G.; P. Webber, R. S.; J. W. Striker, P. S.; A. A. Fletcher, Treasurer; J. W. Striker, S. P. G. The lodge received a charter in October, 1882, and the following were chosen officers: A. A. Fletcher, N. G.; J. C. Gaines, V. G.; A. Durham, R .S.; G. F. Keener, P. S.; F. G. Flint, Treasurer. The lodge was instituted by S. D. D. G. M. A. P. Riddle, of Girard. There is at present a membership of thirty-three. J. W. Striker was made D. D. G. M. at date of institution, and again in July, 1882. He was also elected a Representative to the Grand Lodge in June, 1882.

Pittsburg Lodge, No. 56, A. O. U. W., was instituted in September 1880. The lodge is well supported and enjoys a large membership.

The city contains five religious societies, all in flourishing condition. These are the Methodist, Episcopal, Christian, Catholic and Baptist. Only the Methodist and Episcopal denominations are supplied with buildings. The Methodist church house is a neat brick structure, and the Episcopal is a small frame.

The city at present has a population of 3,500, and contains eight general stores, one exclusive grocery, three hardware, four drug, and two shoe stores, one clothing store, four meat markets, two shoe shops, two blacksmith shops, three millinery stores, one furniture store, three lumber yards, six hotels, one merchant tailor, two livery stables, two churches, one harness shop, etc. The Pittsburg flouring mills were established in 1881, by Bruner & Warren. The building is a three-story frame building, and contains three run of stone. The capacity of the mill is fifty barrels of flour per day. The power is a twenty-five horse power engine.

The advantages for manufacturing enterprises are superior, and it awaits only a lapse of time when the city will become a large and important manufacturing center.”

"History of the State of Kansas," William G. Cutler, pub. A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL: 1883

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