Located in the southeastern corner of Reeder Township, this settlement was first called Jerome. The first settlers came in June 1857 which included Stephen Marsh, Mrs. Hoskins, C. C. Hoskins, Simpson Lake, and others. That winter John B. Lambdin and his sons put up a sawmill near the townsite. Dr. George W. Cooper laid out the townsite and the plat was filed at the land office in Lecompton, Kansas on December 26, 1857.
Several buildings were built in 1857, including a two-story hotel that we completed in the spring of 1858. Due to its location on the main road from Lawrence to Humboldt, the hotel was prosperous for several years.
The first store was opened in the summer of 1858, by W. S. Eastwood, and H. N. F. Reed. The same year Stephen Marsh and his son Oliver erected a large two-story frame building, and established another store, with a large stock of items. For several years this was the best store in the county. For a time, the town’s activity as a trading point put it into competition with Garnett for the county seat.
A blacksmith shop was established close to the mercantile store in 1859. A school was built two blocks south of Marsh’s store. That year, the voting precinct for Reeder Township was moved to Central City in 1859 from Cresco.
The Marshes moved to Humboldt in 1860 and John S. Johnson became the new store owner.
A post office was established on May 5, 1865, with J.M. Aldridge as the first postmaster. That year C.H. Lowry had a sawmill on Potawatomie Creek and S.W. Arrant built a small water-powered sawmill on his farm.
The name was changed from Jerome to Central City on March 7, 1870. The Presbyterian Church in Central City was dedicated in 1871. The Methodist church also held services in the building for two years. Later the church building was bought by the Central City Grange. In 1874 the Central City School was built of pine lumber by Thomas McKnight assisted by William and Charley Cooper.
In 1877 the town boasted a harness and saddle shop owned by Lawrence Retzer, a shoemaker shop, a barbershop, and a portrait studio. Three doctors had established offices in Central City, including Drs. J.M. Welsh, Josiah Lanter, and J.B. Jones. At its peak, Central City had about 21 businesses.
When the Leavenworth, Lawrence, and Galveston Railroad came through the county, it opted to go through Garnett rather than Central City thwarting Central City’s hope of becoming a railroad center. However, when the Paola and Fall River Railroad was planning on building a railroad south of the town, in 1874, Central City’s hope for a railroad grew again. However, in 1879, it was built through Mont Ida instead.
In 1898, Mulford Marsh opened a new store across the street from the old Central City Store. At that time there were also two creameries and a blacksmith shop. However, when the creameries closed, Central City began to die.
The post office closed on July 14, 1902, at which time the mail was received from Garnett by rural delivery. In 1910, the town had a population of 57. The townsite was situated on Pottawatomie Creek about eight miles west of Garnett. All that is left today is the cemetery.
Anderson County Historical Society
Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Vol I; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.
Campbell, James Y.; First History of Anderson County, From the Earliest Period of the Settlement of the County to the Centennial Year of 1876; Garnett Weekly Journal, 1876.
Cutler, William G; History of Kansas; A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL, 1883.