Early History

Harveyville

Harveyville, Kansas was founded in 1880 by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, who platted the town with the completion of the ATSF-owned Manhattan, Alma & Burlingame Railroad.

There had been settlers living in the general area of Harveyville for some 25 years before the town was formed. Henry Harvey and his sons homesteaded land on Dragoon Creek in 1854, not long after the creation of the Kansas Territory.

harris-house-01

The Harris farm in Harveyville was a notable stop on the Underground Railroad and contained a secret tunnel.

In 1855, I. M. Harris staked a claim near today’s Harveyville, and later that year Morris Walton established his farm nearby. Gradually, more settlers arrived in the area, yet without the benefit of a railroad to bring in goods and ship products, growth was very slow.

isaiah-harris

Isaiah M. Harris staked his homestead claim at Harveyville in 1855.

Harveyville became a not-so-official stop on the Underground Railroad, and the Harris house had a secret tunnel for the inconspicuous movement of slaves to their freedom.

When the MA&B railroad was to be constructed, everyone, including the folks at nearby Wilmington hoped that the railroad would come their way.  But, again, the railroad chose property that suited its purposes.  It is often claimed in various instances that less-than-fair methods were used by some towns in Wabaunsee County to attract one of the two railroads that came to the county in the 1880s. Little evidence exists to suggest anything other than the railroad planning the location of towns and the route of their rail line based on what was most profitable for them.  If a town had something special to offer, such as Alma having the county seat, then the railroad would plan their line to intersect the town. In other cases, Eskridge, for example, it financially benefited the railroad to plat the town on land that they already owned, so it was the town that had to move to the railroad’s chosen location. Such, too, was the case at Harveyville.

Harveyville, Kansas Business District

This 1910s view of Harveyville shows the business district of the town in a bird’s-eye view of the town taken from atop the grain elevator.

Harveyville was incorporated in 1905 and in 1910 the population was 331. The 1912 Cyclopedia of Kansas reported that Harveyville had an ATSF railroad depot, a bank, Post Office, telegraph and express office, a newspaper, several mercantile stores, two churches, a grain elevator and a public school.

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