History of Louisburg
The land Louisburg sits on was originally part of the Louisiana Purchase bought from France in 1803. Wooded hills, streams, and prairie are what the Confederated Tribes of Wea, Piankishaw, Peoria and Kaskaskia Indians found when arriving in this area around 1827.
Bordering the North was the Shawnee Reservation, to the West were Pottawatomies, on the South Miami’s, and to the East was the State of Missouri. Christmas Dagnette, nephew of a Wea Chief, came from Indiana and settled in the area. Due to his knowledge of a variety of Indian languages and having learned to speak English, French and Spanish at an early age he was used as an interpreter for the government. Dagnette died in 1848 and was buried in an Indian cemetery currently located on private property two miles South of Louisburg.
Traders and missionaries often visited the Lykins County area (changed to Miami County in 1861) and in 1854 emigrant settlers started establishing their homes. One of the earliest pioneers in the Wea area was John W. Chaudoins. Several years later he moved further South to settle in the Little St. Louis area and is believed to be the first white man to settle and build here. The Federal government negotiated a treaty with the Confederated Tribes and purchased most of the Indian Trust Land in Kansas.
In 1866 lands that were originally set aside for the Reserve were placed for sale of which the site of Louisburg began. This early community of homes, businesses, Churches and a railroad depot was called both “New St. Louis and “Little St. Louis.”
Because of the Missouri Kansas Texas railroad’s confusion with St. Louis, Missouri the name was changed in 1871 or 1872 to Louisburg. There was a substantial amount of disorder in Louisburg at this time partly because it was a so called boom-town plus there were still existing conflicts between Kansas Jayhawkers and Missouri Raiders. Also there was a physical division of Louisburg citizens due to the railroad tracks running through town creating North and South areas of the community.
Louisburg Mills was operated by Reed & Wright, millers and dealers in grains. Not far to the southwest was E.F.Cadwallader’s Fruit Farm and Nursery. Around 1875 many homes and businesses began moving from North of the tracks to the South and up the hill to what was to become downtown Louisburg. In 1882 Louisburg was incorporated as a third class city with population of four hundred. In the early 1900s downtown Louisburg was bustling with retail and supply stores, two livery stables, a hotel, and a few automobiles lining Main Street, which was later named Broadway. The first gasoline station in Louisburg was owned by James L. Williams in the 1920’s. Although his original building located at K-68 and Broadway is still there it has since undergone several renovations and been occupied with a number of businesses.
Construction of a log cabin for social and cultural events was a community effort lead by Homer L. Williams. There was also a fairgrounds located to the East on K-68. Some names of developers in the area were Sims, Perry and Steger. In 1925 a fire destroyed several downtown businesses on the East side of Main Street. Due to increased traffic of trucks on the K-68 road from Missouri, during the 1930’s the State of Kansas contacted Williams regarding a needed inspection station.
What became known in Louisburg as the Little Round House (which was originally the front porch of a Paola, KS Victorian home) served as a Port of Entry office in the area. In future years the round house was used for various small businesses and even temporary housing during World War II. The Little Round House has recently relocated from its K-68 and Metcalf location to the City Lake on South Metcalf where the community has restored it for its historical significance to Louisburg.
During the late 1950s the MKT railroad also known as the Katy ended service in Louisburg. There was another fire in the downtown area. In 1977 the downtown block of original buildings between 1st street and K-68 (or Amity) on the West side of Broadway were destroyed by a fire. With Louisburg’s location at U.S. Hwy 69 and Kansas Hwy 68 the highway access from all directions provides the opportunity for continued growth and future prosperity for Louisburg. The 2000 population census in Louisburg was 2,576. In 2007 the City’s population is approximately 3,600 and the five mile radius population is approximately 6,000.
The Louisburg Unified School District 416 spans an area of 156 square miles. City planners anticipate and prepare for the continued growth of Louisburg in residential and commercial developments. The community enjoys a small town atmosphere and strives to preserve a high quality of living for its residents. When visiting Louisburg travelers are sure to find a clean city with friendly people, attractive up to date schools, Churches, restaurants, businesses and many choices for proposed homeowners seeking residential living.
The Louisburg area also has several tourist attractions. The Kansas Department of Transportation has designated a one hundred sixty-eight mile route from Leavenworth, Kansas to the Oklahoma border as the Frontier Military Scenic Byway. U.S. Hwy 69, which passes through Louisburg, is part of the designated historical byway. The scenic byway follows closely the original road constructed between 1838 and 1844. It was used to move soldiers and supplies between Ft. Leavenworth, through Ft. Scott and ending at Ft. Gibson, Oklahoma. Soldiers, immigrants, missionaries, traders, outlaws and other travelers used the original road. Provided by the Louisburg Chamber of Commerce. Sources available upon request.