Bronson, Kansas, is a small town in the western part of Bourbon County. As of the 2020 census, its population was 304.
This place got its start in 1875 and was initially called Wilsonville. It was located in Franklin Township on the Allen-Bourbon county line, approximately five miles southwest of Xenia. A post office was established on July 8, 1875, with J.C. Wilson as the first postmaster. Wilsonville also had a general store and a blacksmith shop.
In October 1881, the town and its post office moved south to Marion Township when the St. Louis, Fort Scott, and Wichita Railroad, a subsidiary of Missouri Pacific, arrived. This was probably the first time a U.S. post office was moved without the government’s approval. When the post office reopened on October 3, 1881, it was renamed Bronson for Ira D. Bronson, a long-time prominent attorney of Fort Scott and the county clerk. The first setter and postmaster was George H. Requa. He was followed almost immediately by W.T. Timmons.
Bronson grew rapidly during the first year of its existence. A. L Martin built the first house in town. Requa and Martin opened a store, making specialty boots and shoes. Mrs. Mary Chambers ran the first hotel. The first lumber yard was owned by Holeman Bros & Co. The first newspaper was started in 1882 by M.H. Donoho. The first secret organization was the Knights of Pythias, which was organized in 1883. The first bank was called the Exchange Bank & was owned by Pinnell & Smith, who operated it until 1888, when other parties purchased it, and the name changed to the Bank of Bronson.
The new townsite was on a gently rolling prairie surrounded by a rich agricultural and stock-raising region. The first school, about one-half mile west of the village, was taught by Miss Rose Daughters and was. Bronson was the last established town on the railroad between Fort Scott and Iola.
Bronson suffered a disastrous fire on May 13, 1890.
It became a prime shipping and supply point for the agricultural region, located midway between Fort Scott and Iola on the highway and railroad. Growth was slow but steady; by 1910, it boasted 595 residents, the town’s peak population. That year, Bronson held the world’s first horseshoe pitch tournament. By that time, the railroad was part of the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
Another terrible fire occurred in Bronson on March 13, 1910, which destroyed nearly two blocks in the business portion of the town. However, its citizens quickly rebuilt with brick structures.
In 1912, Bronson had two banks, an international money-order post office with four rural routes, express and telegraph offices, telephone connections, the semi-weekly Bronson Pilot newspaper, a downtown retail district, and public schools.
The Bronson school building was destroyed by fire on the morning of September 1, 1913. Area citizens soon made plans for a new school, constructed in 1914. In the following years, additions were made several times; a high school course was added, and it had seven teachers.
In the 1970s, Bronson boasted several fine residences and an ample supply of business houses, including four general stores, three grain dealers, a grocery store, a furniture store, a drug store, a hotel, a blacksmith, and a physician. The population was about four hundred.
In the following decades, Bronson’s population gradually declined; at some point, its schools were closed through school unification. Today, Bronson is a part of USD 235 Uniontown. The Uniontown High School mascot is the Eagles.
Jonathan M. Davis, Kansas state representative, senator, and 22nd Kansas governor, was born, raised, and buried in Bronson.
Bronson is about 20 miles west of Fort Scott, Kansas.