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Peabody, Kansas
1886 Peabody City Hall (2010)
1886 Peabody City Hall (2010)
Location within Marion County and Kansas
Location within Marion County and Kansas
KDOT map of Marion County (legend)
KDOT map of Marion County (legend)
Country United States
State Kansas
County Marion
Township Peabody
Founded 1870 (Coneburg)
Platted 1871 (Coneburg)
1871, 1875 (Peabody)
1878 (North Peabody)
Incorporated 1879 (Peabody)
 • Total 1.34 sq mi (3.47 km2)
 • Land 1.34 sq mi (3.47 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 1,378 ft (420 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 1,210
 • Estimate (2015) 1,144
 • Density 903/sq mi (348.7/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 66866
Area code 620, exchange 983
FIPS code 20-55100
GNIS ID 477780
W i k i p e d i a

Peabody is a city in Marion County, Kansas, United States. It is named after F.H. Peabody, of Boston, former vice-president of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Peabody is well known in the region for its Independence Day Celebration on July 4, and its historic 1880s downtown main street. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 1,210.


Historic 1884 Peabody Bank Building, Lot 29, in Peabody, Kansas
1884 Peabody Bank Building was a bank from 1884 to 1922. The current bank is located 1 block north. (2010)

Early history

See also: History of Kansas

For many millennia, the Great Plains of North America was inhabited by nomadic Native Americans. From the 16th century to 18th century, the Kingdom of France claimed ownership of large parts of North America. In 1762, after the French and Indian War, France secretly ceded New France to Spain, per the Treaty of Fontainebleau.

19th century

In 1802, Spain returned most of the land to France. In 1803, most of the land for modern day Kansas was acquired by the United States from France as part of the 828,000 square mile Louisiana Purchase for 2.83 cents per acre.

In 1854, the Kansas Territory was organized, then in 1861 Kansas became the 34th U.S. state. In 1855, Marion County was established, which included the land for modern day Peabody.

The first settler in the Peabody area was W.C. Coble, from North Carolina, who set up ranch headquarters a few miles east of Peabody in 1864. The first settlement made in the area was in September 1870, by a colony of settlers from Wisconsin. In October, more settlers arrived. During the first month, the colony officers laid out a town on the north-half of section 4 township 22 and surveyed it into lots. The town was named Coneburg after the town company president John Cone. The town site was located between the current 9th Street and Division Avenue. During the winter of 1870, some of the settlers returned east to get supplies and bring out their families. In 1871, while the other settlers were gone, dissatisfaction arose in the community and it began to break up. Claim jumping of the Coneburg town site and nearby land started to occur, thus causing a legal mess.

In 1870, T.M. Potter homesteaded the south-half of the same section of land. In spring of 1871, he and five other men started the Peabody town company. Since the land title for the Peabody town site had no legal disputes, businesses immediately moved from Coneburg. In June 1871, the town of Peabody was platted, and it included the land where the railroad was built in the same month.

A post office was established in Coneburg on January 25, 1871 then moved to Peabody on October 30, 1871.

In April 1872, during legal disputes, Coneburg became North Peabody. A revised plat of Peabody was made in July 1875 and a supplemental plat of North Peabody was made in April 1878. Because of the disputes, the street that ran down the middle of the border between the two towns was called "Division Avenue". The two towns merged into the city of Peabody in 1879.

The town of Peabody was named in 1871 after F.H. Peabody, of Boston, formerly vice-president of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway company. In May 1874, Mr. Peabody visited the new town, at which time he announced he would donate money for a library building, furniture, books, periodicals and landscaping if the Peabody township would secure four town lots for the site. The contract for construction was awarded in spring of 1875 and was opened to the public in June 1875, and the following February 1876 the state legislature authorized the township to levy a tax to support the library. The structure housed the library facilities until 1914 when a new Peabody Township Carnegie Library was constructed on the old location.

Stouffer's Railroad Map of Kansas 1915-1918 Marion County
1915 Railroad Map of Marion County

In 1871, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway extended a main line from Emporia through Peabody to Newton. In 1996, it merged with Burlington Northern Railroad and renamed to the current BNSF Railway. Most locals still refer to this railroad as the "Santa Fe". The first depot was built south of the tracks, then later a train wreck destroyed it, so a second depot was built on the north side of the tracks. In 1873, three west-bound trains (9:05AM, 1:00PM, 8:30PM) and three east-bound trains (4:42AM, 6:50PM, 8:30PM) stopped at the Peabody depot. Rail service was still very strong five decades later. In 1925, three west-bound and four east-bound trains made stops at Peabody. The second depot was demolished in the 1970s after passenger transportation ended, then its land was converted into the Santa Fe Park, which is located at the south end of Walnut Street. Currently Amtrak's Southwest Chief passenger train currently passes through Peabody twice each day, but stops at nearby Newton.

During most of the 1870s, the railway depots in Peabody and Florence were the only access points for train passengers into Marion County and northern Butler County. Peabody was a destination for numerous foreign homesteaders, including the Mennonite settlers around Goessel and Gnadenau.

In 1887, the Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway built a branch line north-south from Herington through Peabody to Caldwell. By 1893, this branch line was incrementally built to Fort Worth, Texas. It foreclosed in 1891 and was taken over by Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway, which shut down in 1980 and reorganized as Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas Railroad, merged in 1988 with Missouri Pacific Railroad, and finally merged in 1997 with Union Pacific Railroad. Most locals still refer to this railroad as the "Rock Island". Its depot in Peabody was demolished in the early 1960s.

In 1875, Peabody held its first agricultural "county fair" and continued to hold them annually for many years. In September 1885, the Kansas State Fair was held at Peabody during the first four days of the month. An outstanding feature of the state fair was "the First Monument to General Grant", who died shortly before the fair. The temporary monument was an obelisk about 40 feet (12 m) tall, and built from forty bushels of ears of corn. The fair had a grandstand, which could hold 2000 people, to view horse races. The race track was used for a variety of events, including horse walking teams in harness, trotting, running, pacing, mule racing, and daily chariot races. A dining hall was built that was capable of feeding 10,000 people each day. In 1900, the Marion County Agricultural Society sold the fair grounds to the city, which renamed it the Peabody City Park, and its entrance is located at the corner of Locust and 2nd Streets.

Peabody was the home of famous race horses around the turn of the century. Three of the more famous horses were world champions. Joe Young (known as the "iron horse") sold for $10,000 by C.E. Westbrook, the first horse west of the Mississippi River to sell for such a high price. Joe Young sired Joe Patchen in 1889, who earned his owner $40,000 in race purses and then was sold for $44,000. Joe Patchen sired Dan Patch in 1896, a horse that sold in 1907 for $60,000. Other famous local racing horses included trotters McKinney, and Silver Sign. Silverthorne toured Austria where he competed for three years against the best race horses in Europe.

20th century

Peabody Township Carnegie Library in Peabody, Kansas
1914 Peabody Township "Carnegie" Library (2010)
Santa Fe Park in Peabody, Kansas
1974 Mennonite Centennial Memorial Monument in Santa Fe Park. A Threshing stone was cut and placed on 4 sides of this monument. In the foreground is a brick street, which is typical in most of Peabody (2010)
Threshing stone cross section, Santa Fe Park, Peabody, Kansas
Cross sections of a Threshing stone on Mennonite monument. (2010)

Peabody became an important supply point for one of the state's cattle feeding districts. By 1911, approximately 20,000 head of cattle were imported from other states and fed within 20 miles (32 km) of Peabody at 50 farms. Because of this cattle industry, local farmers grew more corn, alfalfa, and other feed crops during the 1900s and 1910s.

Peabody and Watchorn areas experienced an oil boom from 1918 to 1920 in the oil fields of the Mid-Continent oil province. The influence of the petroleum industry remained strong in Peabody, and resulted in the greatest change upon the community in the shortest time. More than 100 residences were constructed in October and November 1919. From 1918 to 1919, the population increased by 75% or more, but later decreased as oil booms in other Kansas areas needed the workers. Currently Watchorn is a ghost town consisting of oil wells but no remaining historical structures.

The New Santa Fe Trail road was routed through Peabody in the late 1910s. The road entered the north-east side of the city on Old Mill Rd, and exited on the south-west side on 60th Street (known as the Old Trail). The trail became U.S. Route 50 in the late 1930s when the new highway was routed east to west on 9th Street. In 1998, the highway was moved about 1.5 blocks north so it could go over a new railroad overpass.

In 1943, German and Italian prisoners of World War II were brought to Kansas and other midwest states as a means of solving the labor shortage caused by American men serving in the war effort. Large prisoner-of-war camps camps were established in Kansas at Camp Concordia, Camp Funston (at Fort Riley), and Camp Phillips (at Salina under Fort Riley). Fort Riley established 12 smaller branch camps, including Peabody and El Dorado. Up to 150 prisoners were quartered at the Peabody branch camp. Farmers were to have first priority over other industries in requesting prisoner labor. County agents were responsible for processing the application of local residents seeking the use of the prisoners who were to be available only as group laborers. No fewer than four prisoners could be assigned to any farm, and one guard accompanied each group, but later it was common for no guards to accompany the prisoners. The prisoners were not allowed to operate any powered farm equipment. The farmer collected the workers at the camp and returned them at the end of each day. The Peabody branch camp #101 was located in the Eyestone building, now occupied by Heckendorn Equipment Company, and located at 122 West 2nd Street. The prisoner yard was located in the north-east corner of the property and still exists as a storage area. The camp was closed in December 1945, after Germany surrendered.

There has been numerous floods during the history of Peabody. In June and July 1951, due to heavy rains, rivers and streams flooded numerous cities in Kansas, including Peabody. Many reservoirs and levees were built in Kansas as part of a response to the Great Flood of 1951.

The community gradually increased in size as a commuter town to support aircraft industries in Wichita during World War II and Soviet Union Cold War years. Fewer farms families has led to a gradual decrease in children at local schools. Peabody, like most rural towns, has seen a gradual loss of population do to rural flight to larger cities.

The community has always had great pride in celebrating and promoting its past. Three centennials, Kansas centennial in 1961, Peabody centennial in 1971, United States Bicentennial in 1976, caused surges of historic pride, which eventually led to the creation of the Peabody Main Street Association (PMSA) in 1989 and the Peabody Community Foundation (PCF). The Peabody Main Street Association has won numerous awards since it was founded.

In 1998, the downtown area of Peabody was placed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), and known as the Peabody Downtown Historic District. Peabody had four previous listings on the NRHP: Peabody Historical Library Museum (in 1973), Peabody Township Library (in 1987), J.S. Schroeder Building (in 1991), and W.H. Morgan House (in 1996).

21st century

In 2010, the Peabody Main Street Association received 5 state awards. In the same year, the Keystone-Cushing Pipeline (Phase II) was constructed 4.5 miles (7.2 km) east of Peabody, north to south through Marion County, with much controversy over road damage, tax exemption, and environmental concerns (if a leak ever occurs).

In 2012, the Peabody City Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), the sixth in Peabody.

In 2017, rural farmer Derek Klingenberg, a YouTube "star" and his farm were featured in a web-series.


Peabody is located at 38°10′8″N 97°6′26″W / 38.16889°N 97.10722°W / 38.16889; -97.10722 (38.168793, −97.107171) near the western edge of the Flint Hills in the Great Plains of the United States. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.34 square miles (3.47 km2), all of it land except Doyle Creek and Spring Creek.

Peabody is approximately 15 mi (24 km) north-east of Newton, 42 mi (68 km) north of Wichita, 164 mi (264 km) south-west of Kansas City. The north-east corner of Harvey County is 2.0 miles (3.2 km) west of Peabody.


On average in Peabody, January is the coolest month with an average low of 19 °F (-7 °C), July is the warmest month with an average high of 92 °F (33 °C), and May is the wettest month with an average precipitation of 4.64 in. The hottest temperature recorded in Peabody was 115 °F (43 °C) in 1954; the coldest temperature recorded was -22 °F (-31 °C) in 1989.

Climate data for Peabody, Kansas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 76
Average high °F (°C) 41
Average low °F (°C) 19
Record low °F (°C) −17
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.82
Source: The Weather Channel; National Weather Service


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,087
1890 1,474 35.6%
1900 1,369 −7.1%
1910 1,416 3.4%
1920 2,455 73.4%
1930 1,491 −39.3%
1940 1,367 −8.3%
1950 1,194 −12.7%
1960 1,309 9.6%
1970 1,368 4.5%
1980 1,474 7.7%
1990 1,349 −8.5%
2000 1,384 2.6%
2010 1,210 −12.6%
Est. 2015 1,144 −5.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 1,210 people, 478 households, and 299 families residing in the city. The population density was 903.0 inhabitants per square mile (348.7/km2). There were 566 housing units at an average density of 422.4 per square mile (163.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.2% White, 1.6% African American, 1.2% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.8% from other races, and 2.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.3% of the population.

There were 478 households of which 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.4% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.4% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.94.

The median age in the city was 45.8 years. 22.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 20.1% were from 25 to 44; 29.5% were from 45 to 64; and 21.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 50.3% male and 49.7% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,384 people, 531 households, and 346 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,124.7 people per square mile (434.4/km²). There were 602 housing units at an average density of 489.2 per square mile (189.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.81% White, 1.52% African American, 0.43% Native American, 0.36% from other races, and 1.88% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.82% of the population.

There were 531 households out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.9% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.7% were non-families. 31.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the city, the population was spread out with 24.6% under the age of 18, 5.3% from 18 to 24, 24.4% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 21.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 93.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.9 males.

As of 2000 the median income for a household was $29,792, and the median income for a family was $37,250. Males had a median income of $28,750 versus $19,028 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,493. About 6.3% of families and 14.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.6% of those under age 18 and 17.6% of those age 65 or over.

Area events

Area attractions

Fountain next to W.H. Morgan House in Peabody, Kansas
Fountain next to W.H. Morgan House (immediate right), W.H. Morgan Barn (back right with red roof), Carnegie Library (left with brown brick), Museum (back middle with green roof). Looking north-east (2010)

Peabody has six listings on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

  • 1880's Peabody Downtown Historic District (NRHP). The Downtown Business District of Peabody boasts of 42 contributing buildings in the district. The significant period for the district began in 1874 with the construction of the first free public library and ended in 1922 with the decline in oil production. Peabody is the 2nd community in the State of Kansas to have its entire downtown district on the National Register of Historic Places.
    • 1884 J.S. Schroeder Building (NRHP), 111 North Walnut Street. This first floor has been many types of businesses, but most older locals remember it as the McMillen grocery store. For the past couple of decades, the first floor has been occupied by the Mayesville Mercantile.
    • 1914 Peabody Township Carnegie Library (NRHP), 214 North Walnut Street.
    • 1919 Eyestone building, previously a POW camp during World War II, 122 West 2nd Street, private business.
  • Peabody Museum Historical Complex, Memorial Day to Labor Day.
    • 1874 Peabody Historical Library Museum (NRHP), 106 East Division Avenue (east of Carnegie Library). After the new Carnegie library was built in 1914, the first library was moved and used for club meetings and stood idle for a number of years. In 1960, while planning for the 1961 Kansas centennial celebration, local citizens organized to move the structure to a lot near its original location. The old library building was converted and dedicated as a museum on July 3, 1961.
    • 1881 W.H. Morgan House (NRHP), 212 North Walnut Street. A two-story Queen Anne Cottage built by W.H. Morgan, first editor of the Peabody Gazette newspaper.
    • 1904 W.H. Morgan Barn, east of House. Will contain larger items that can't fit in the museum. Not open to public yet.
    • 1920 Peabody Printing Museum, 210 North Walnut Street. The Peabody Printing Museum has a collection of hot type equipment dating from 1870 to 1920.
  • Peabody City Park (NRHP):
    • 1881 Fair Floral Exhibition Hall, west of the football field at the top of the hill in the park. The building is unique because of its octagon walls. It is the only remaining fair building and not open to the public .
  • 1887 T.B. Townsend Barn, several miles east near U.S. Route 50. It is a three-story, 80 feet by 140 feet, limestone barn, and can easily be seen on the north side of the highway. Not open to public.
  • 1927 Indian Guide Monument, several miles east near U.S. Route 50. Can be seen on bluff over-looking south side of highway. Not open to public.
  • 1974 Mennonite Centennial Memorial Monument, south-east corner of Walnut and 1st Streets in the Santa Fe Park. A Threshing stone was cut and placed on 4 sides of this monument.
  • Marion Reservoir, approximately 13 miles (21 km) north of Peabody.

Famous visitors

  • William Jennings Bryan, politician and speaker, gave speeches in Peabody on multiple occasions while Democratic candidate for President of the United States in 1896, 1900, 1908 because his friend and advisor J.G. Johnson lived in Peabody (see notable people section).


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