History of Neosho Repids, Kansas
From: History of Emporia and Lyon County Kansas
By: Laura M. French
Emporia Gazette Print
Emporia, Kansas 1929


Neosho Rapids, on the Ottawa Cut off Branch of the Santa Fe, ten miles east and two south of Emporia, has enjoyed a greater variety of names than any other Lyon County town. The original site, half a mile south of the present town, was laid out in the autumn of 1856, according to the recollections of the late Mrs. John Rosenquist, who came with her parents, the David VanGundys, to that neighborhood in 1855. Its founders, Jefferson Pigman and a man named Cobine, named their town Florence. It flourished but a few months, and in 1857 another town company laid out another town site, of 350 acres, changing its name to Neosho City. The promoters this time were Pigman, Josiah Gregg and Christian Carver. At some time before the town settled down to the name of Neosho Rapids, it was called Italia. Miss Ella Rosenquist has an envelope addressed to Italia, Madison County, Kanzas Territory, but the date cannot be deciphered.

In 1860 Forrest Page, who had come to Kansas in 1856, H. S. Sleeper and G. J. Tallman, laid out the town on its present site, and since that date it has been Neosho Rapids. Forrest Page was register of deeds of Lyon County in the seventies, and was a brother of the late Dr. J. H. Page, of Emporia, who at that time lived on a farm adjoining Neosho Rapids on the north. School District No. 20 bought eight lots from Doctor Page on which to build the town's first schoolhouse, a stone structure, which for many years has been the Rockford Hotel. It is north of the railroad tracks, while the town is on the south side. Tha railroad was built in 1887, and before long the danger to school children crossing the railroad tracks brought about the building of the commodious brick school in the town. The old building was sold to the late Capt. C. R. Stone, who turned it into a hotel, and it since has had many owners. Jefferson S. Pigman was the town's first postmaster.

The principal industry of Neosho Rapids for several years was the grist mill owned by the lath Alfred Roberts, on the Neosho immediately above the bridge, which did a big business. The mill burned, and was not reestablished. The Free Methodists for years maintained a college in Neosho Rapids, but it also burned and was not rebuilt. This denomination, once the strongest in the town, has dwindled. The churches are the Free Methodist, the Methodist Episcopal and the Catholic.

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