History of Effingham, Kansas
From: History of Atchison County, Kansas
BY: Sheffield Ingalls
Standard Publishing Company
Lawrence, Kansas 1916


Effingham, the seat of Atchison county high school, is an incorporated town, located sixteen miles west of Atchison, on the Central Branch railroad, and was first platted by William Osborne April 4, 1868, who built the first hundred miles of the Central Branch railroad, and is located on a part of the southwest quarter of section 15 and the northwest quarter of section 22, township 6, range 18. The original plat contained only eight blocks and was subsequently cancelled. February 6, 1871, Major W. F. Downs, [and commissioner of the Central Branch railroad, filed another plat in which one block was dedicated as a public park and the streets numbered from one to ten, with cross streets as follows: Elizabeth, Seabird, Howard, George, William, and John. At the opening of the Central Branch railroad Effingham enjoyed quite a boom and it has remained one of the finest towns in northeastern Kansas ever since.

There was a settlement around Effingham for a number of years prior o the location of the townsite, and it was quite a trading point. Effingham is located on a broad sweep of pralrie land, but there is very little of romance or legend connected with the town. There is one thing, however, for which it has always been noted, and to this extent Effingham occupies an unique place in the towns, not only of Atchison county, but of Kansas, namely: It has never been without a good hotel. The original hotel was known far and wide throughout the country and was conducted by Aunt Betty Benton, a famous cook, who not only gave her guests good things to eat, but made of her hotel a favorite stopping place for the traveling public on account of the hospitable way in which she ran it. Uncle Jack Martin succeeded Aunt Betty and for many years thereafter kept up the high standard set by her. Then came Thomas F. Cook, whose kindly welcome made friends for him among the hundreds of visitors that came to Effingham from year to year, and who never left his hotel without a full meal. Mr. Cook was succeeded by Mrs. Frank Pitman, and she in turn was succeeded by Mrs. Davis, who, in 1915, is conducting the hotel at Effingham and maintains the high standard of excellence of food and hospitality set by her predecessors.

Among the early merchants of Effingham was Hon. Milton R. Benton, who was born in Madison county, Kentucky May 3, 1815. He immigrated to Kansas in 1857 located in Atchison, where he resided until 1867, during which year he moved to his farm in Atchison county, near Effingham. He was the first marshal of the city of Atchison, having been elected in 1858. In 1863 he was elected mayor of the city, and in 1864 was elected a member of the council. He served as a member of the senate in the Territorial council of 1859; in the State legislature in 1864, and for three years as trustee of Center township. Benton township, in which Effingham is located, was named for him. He was educated as a Democrat, but before he cast his first vote identified himself with the anti slavery movement and became a Free State man in Kansas, but in after years he supported Horace Greeley and became identified with the Democratic party. In addition to farming he was in the real estate business in Effingham.

A. F. Achenbach was one of the early liverymen of Effingham, and also was George P. Allen, who was a dealer in hardware and grain; Ball & Herron, dealers in harness; Joel M. Ketch, hardware merchant; J. E. McCormick, butcher; Alonzo Spencer, grocer; James Nesbitt, lumber dealer, and Simeon Walters, contractor and carpenter.

P. J. O'Meara was a pioneer merchant of Effingham, and was a native of Ireland, having been born in the county of Tipperary March 27, 1829. He first settled in Miami county, where he received his education, and in 1865 he moved to Atchison and went into the grocery business on Commercial street, between Third and Fourth, later moving to Effingham when the townsite was located, and built one of the first store buildings. He did a large and paying business, and his popularity was shown by the people of Effingham in electing him thelr first mayor.

Effingham in 1915 had two hardware stores, one drug store, four general stores, two banks, two garages, two barber shops, one cream station, one clothing store, three restaurants, one hotel, one livery, and two elevators. Effingham is also a city of churches having one Catholic church, one Presbyterian church, Methodist church, Christian church and Lutheran church. Its citizens are enterprising and progressive, and in 1914 the city council secured a twenty four hour electric light service over high tension line from Atchison. The elevators are owned by the Farmers' Mercantile Association, and Snyder, Smith & Company. Tom Tucker and Beckman & Thomas are big live stock shippers, and they ship from ninety five to one hundred cars of live stock out of Effingham every year, and the elevators ship over one hundred cars of grain every year.

The present city officials who have been so diligent and faithful in their services to Effingham are as follows:

J. W. Wallach, mayor; A. J. Sells, city clerk; G. M. Snyder, councilman; I. Ebert, councilman; D. Richter, councilman; James Farrell, councilman; E. J. Kelley, councilman; J. W. Atcheson, marshal; J. A. Harman, city treasurer.

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