Pittsburg, Kansas Early History

updated April 5, 2008  
  Early History Articles

Frank W. Blackmoor: 1912

One of the important cities of southeastern Kansas is located in Crawford county, 11 miles southeast of Girard, the county seat. It is 3 miles from the Missouri line and 134 miles from Kansas City, at the junction of four railway systems--the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, the Missouri Pacific, the Kansas City Southern, and the St. Louis & San Francisco. The Main shops of the Kansas City Southern and the St. Louis & San Francisco are located here and give employment to 1600 men. It is in the mineral and oil district and the zinc smelters give employment to 1200. Coal is extensively mined and shipped.

Other important industries are the foundries and machine shops, cornice works, flour and planing mills, tent and awning factory, boiler works, paving and building brick plant, sewer pipe works, factories for the manufacture of gloves, mittens, garments, and cigars, stone quarries and packing houses. There are 4 banks, 4 newspapers,(the Headlight, the Kansan, the Labor Herald, and the Volkesfreund), and a monthly fraternal paper (the Cyclone). The city has electric lights, fire and police departments, sewer system, waterworks, paved streets, electric street railway, a $60,000 opera house and a fine school and church building. This is the seat of the manual training branch of the state normal school, a Catholic academy, and a German Lutheran school. There are telegraph and express offices and an international money order post office with eight rural routes. This is one of the points designated by the government for a postal savings bank. The population in 1910 was 14,755.

Pittsburg was laid out in 1876 by Col. E.H. Brown for Moffett & Sargent. The post office was established that year with George Richey as postmaster. The first dwelling was built by J.T. Roach in July, and the first business house was erected abut the same time by G.W. Seabury & Co., who started a general store. By the fall there were 100 inhabitants. In 1879 the town was incorporated as a city of the third class and the first officers were: Mayor, M.M. Snow; councilmen J.R. Lindburg, W. McBride, F. Kalwitz, P.A. Shield and D.S. Miller. The Girard & Joplin R.R. which had been built prior to the founding of the town connected it with these two points. In 1880 the railroad was sold to the St. Louis & San Francisco company. A new addition of 40 acres was platted at that time and in 1882 another addition of like extent. The first newspaper was the Pittsburg Exponent, established in June of 1882, by L.C. Hitchcock.

By 1884 the population was 4,000, six years later it was 6,697, in 1900 it had grown to 10,112. In 1891 there were 29 corporations doing business in Pittsburg with a combined capitalization of nearly $10,000,000. In 1904 there were 55 coal companies employing 11,835 men in addition to many small operators, and 44 new coal mines were opened. During the year ending in Sept., 1904 about 700 new dwelling houses were built and $3,000,000 spent on home improvements.
"Kansas, A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events, Institutions, Industries, Counties, Cities, Towns, Prominent Person, Etc.," ed. Frank W. Blackmar, pub. Standard Publishing Co., Chicago, IL, 191

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