On August 8, 1866, B. H. Bertrand filed a plat, that laid out lots for the village of St. Marys, and established the streets of Alma, Mission, Bertrand, Palmer, and Oak, which were bisected by Second through Seventh Streets.
On September 15, 1869, Benjamin H. Bertrand, Dr. Henry C. Linn, and Dr. Luther Palmer made a 120 acre “addition to St. Marys,” which established the streets of Locust, Elm, Willow, Maple, Walnut, and Durink.
That same month a majority of the areas taxable inhabitants signed a petition praying for the incorporation of their village. On October 8, 1869, Pottawatomie County Probate Court Judge Jason Huggins declared the village of Saint Marys to be incorporated. With its incorporation the legal classification of the community changed from a village to a town with its powers vested in a five member Board of Trustees, whose initial membership was determined by the Probate Court Judge.
By October 19, 1869, trustees S.P. Angle, D.F. Easton, Luther R. Palmer, Henry C. Linn, and Richard R. Bertrand, had used their statutory authority to adopt fifteen ordinances, the first six of which addressed the organizational structure of the town. The other nine ordinances, which Patrick McClosky, editor of the Louisville based Pottawatomie Gazette heralded as a “Light from the East,” when he reported that the ordinances contained heavy penalties against gambling, horse racing, the selling of intoxicating liquor to drunkards, as well as other nefarious practices.
When B.H. Bertrand filed his plat there was “not a frame building within the view of where the town now stands.” In 1867, Dr. Linn is credited with erecting the first business house in the new city. By November 1868, newspaper accounts indicate that the building up of St. Marys had begun in earnest. One visitor described the town as “one vast carpenter’s shop, everywhere the eye turned it was met by piles of lumber and busy hives of carpenters.”
By April of 1870, the flurry of construction had yielded three dry goods stores, two grocery stores, one hardware store, one lumberyard, two drug stores, three blacksmith shops, one wagon maker, two hotels, two butcher shops, and two brickyards were being planned. The following month it was reported that on each side of the railroad track new buildings were being erected at the rate of about six per week, and that four cellars had been excavated for large business houses.
Many attributed the fast and furious pace to the area having been forced to remain idle while a reservation, but that once it opened up “it resulted in growth that outstripped all ordinary calculations.” Moreover, the town commanded a twelve mile trade area, and it was anticipated that more settlers would soon be pouring in, thus many of the leading citizens believed that “There is an urgent, crying want of various kinds of business men…” It is for this reason, when town lots were selling for between $25 and $100, that Dr. Linn was reportedly willing to dispose of his lots gratuitously, “to the right kind of people.”
By the middle of September the town was still experiencing rapid growth, as a flour mill, and the Angle & Reddick building had both been recently completed. In addition, L. R. Palmer had opened a new land office, and R. R. Bertrand was reporting that he was experiencing a constant increase in land sales, as he had not noticed any abatement in the stream of settlers.
Residential construction was also flourishing, as one person recounted that “As far as he could see new houses stretched a mile. North, where nothing but weeds or corn grew, was dotted with buildings.” To help recruit settlers the Pottawatomie County Immigration Society placed lengthy pieces in the local papers that highlighted, if not exaggerated, the natural advantages and opportunities of the area. These newspapers found their way east, and elsewhere via the railroad. In 1869, settlers from Canada, and New York City had arrived, as had settlers from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands (Dutch), Ireland and England. By this time it was estimated that there were over 1,000 inhabitants in St. Marys.
This page is maintained by the Administrative Staff at City Hall in St. Mary, KS.