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Eureka City

Greenwood County, Kansas

Eureka City Hall is located at 309 North Oak Street, Eureka, KS 67045.
Phone: 620-583-6140.

Fritz Salmen House

Robertson House, circa 1923, located at 403 North Plum Street. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. Photographed by Braniffair (own work), 2013, [cc-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed July, 2021.

Eureka [†] is located in the heart of Greenwood County in the Flint Hills of Kansas near the Fall River. In the early 1800s when white settlers first came to the area, it was primarily inhabited by the Osage Indians, who were forced onto a reservation in 1825 (part of which was in Greenwood County). After the Civil War the Osage were removed to Oklahoma. Early settlers, hailing from Tishomingo County, Mississippi, moved north to prevent Kansas Territory from becoming a free state. In the fall of 1856, anti-slavery groups moved in the area and eventually pushed out the pro-slavery inhabitants. The 1860 drought severely tested the newcomers, followed by a bountiful year that brought war to the nation. In Greenwood County, Indians aligned with the South threatened the small communities and many residents left for more protected territory. Skirmishes occurred between the settlers of differing views, but in 1861 the federal government established Fort Montgomery in the area to counter the unrest.

A Town Site Company comprised of six men was granted a charter on April 6, 1867. In the early years the pioneers lived in crude log cabins that were clustered together. The town's people built a schoolhouse that also was used as a meeting hall and church. Eureka became the county seat in 1866 and erected a courthouse in June 1871. A new cemetery was platted in 1872. Before the end of the decade, Eureka was bustling with nineteen businesses, a post office, bank, a church and schoolhouse with the local economy centered on farming and ranching.

The 1870s saw the first commercial business - a general store followed by a blacksmith shop. A brick factory was started at the west end of 2nd Street utilizing clay dug across the river from town. Many early buildings were constructed from the brick. Native limestone from a quarry northwest of town was utilized for the new courthouse and the Congregational Church in 1888.

The town's development was spurred by the arrival of the railroad. The year 1879 brought Eureka its first rail line, the Kansas City, Emporia and Southern Railway, which terminated at Howard. Two years later Eureka gave $48,000 in bonds to the St. Louis, Fort Scott & Wichita Railway (later Missouri Pacific). By June 1882 the railroad linked Eureka with markets for the cattle and crops of Greenwood County. According to U.S. Census figures the county's population grew from 3,484 to over 10,500 between 1870 and 1880 with Eureka at the heart of the development.

Town life was improving. A horse-drawn bus ferried passengers from the rail station to their destination. A new telegraph line linked Eureka and Emporia on November 27, 1880. By 1899 there were 100 telephones in the city; a number that grew to 312 by 1906 when the exchange was bought by the Missouri-Kansas Telephone Company. In 1917, the company changed its name to Southwestern Bell. The latter half of the decade was a boom for the town. In 1885, Eureka became a second class city; one year later the town received electricity. Concrete sidewalks lined Main Street and an opera house was constructed that could seat 800 patrons.

† Greenwood County Preservation Society, Downtown Eureka Kansas Historic Survey, 2018, www.kshs.org, accessed August, 2021.