Archive for Wednesday, August 2, 2006

City’s age questioned

Tonganoxie man says city started in 1868, not 1866

August 2, 2006

The year was 1968.

Kathleen Haas was crowned Tonganoxie's Centennial Princess, Cheryl Blackwell the queen.

A celebration was held from Sept. 23-28.

The Jaycees saw their detailed plans come to life. Afterward, the newspaper would declare the event, "a great centennial."

The carnival, parade and beard contest melded with a concert by the military band of Fort Leavenworth.

It was a presidential election year and local politicians joined the centennial throng, handing out buttons, bumper stickers and shaking hands as Election Day neared.

The local singing group, "The Young Christian Minstrels," polished their favorite songs for a concert and a street dance was held in front of city hall.

Helium balloons wafted skyward as the activities stirred up a bustle of activity that was uncommon for Tonganoxie in September.

It was the city's 100th year.

Or was it?

What the signs say

While the city's new entrance signs are planned to possibly include "1866" as the founding year, one Tonganoxie resident says that bears a second thought.

Wayne Finch, who has lived in Tonganoxie for all but 14 of his 71 years, insists the town was founded in 1868.

A call to city hall last week yielded the information that Tonganoxie was incorporated in 1866.

"I don't think so," Finch said. "It can't be incorporated until the government accepted it."

A 40-acre plat of the city of "Tonge-Noxie" shows that Magdelena Bury deeded land to start the city. Bury signed the deed, which was recorded July 21, 1866."

Bury's gift extended on the east and west sides of Main Street, east to what is now Pleasant Street and west to what is now Green Street. North and south, the plat extended from First Street to what is now Fourth Street.

The city's original plat shows three houses already near the corner of Main and Second, and another three on Main Street, where the park north of the swimming pool is now.

But Finch says the real truth -- about the city's founding date -- lies in another matter, the land patent from the U.S. government, issued June 18, 1868.

Finch recalls his own trials in figuring out the matter some 40 years ago when he wanted to lead the Jaycees and community on a centennial celebration. Finch researched county records, records of which he still has copies today.

"The city was incorporated in 1868," Finch said. "I would think that would be the date -- when it was incorporated -- not when Magdelina Bury decided she would give the land away."

When contacted last week, Tonganoxie city attorney Mike Kelly said he would look into the quandary of when Tonganoxie officially began. As of Tuesday, he hadn't been able to complete his research.

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