Paris, Kansas, once located about six miles north of Mound City, in Linn County, is an extinct town today.
Paris got its as a rallying point for pro-slavery men during the Kansas-Missouri Border War. Utilizing it as a base from which to make raids on Free-State men, it was called Paris, as many of the early inhabitants had come from Paris, Kentucky.
In January 1856, a commission was appointed to locate the county seat of Linn County and two months later it was determined that it should be located in Paris Township. The sum of $100 was paid for a building to be used as a courthouse. A post office was established on January 8, 1857, with Jesse Brown as the Postmaster, and the next month, the Paris Town Company was established to build the community. Soon, a store was established by Rogers, Badolet & Co.; another by Zadock Lewis, and a sawmill by Gwynn & Bronson.
By 1859, the Free-Staters had mostly prevailed over the pro-slavery men in the area and the first Republican Convention held in Linn County convened at Paris on March 12, 1859, with about 150 Republicans in attendance. Two delegates from Linn County — Addison Danford and J. H. Jones –were chosen to go to Osawatomie on May 18, 1859, when the Republican Party of Kansas was organized.
On November 8, 1859, the first election was held to determine the county seat and Paris lost out to Mound City, with the winner having 508 votes to Paris’ 471. At this time the community was at its peak, called home to some 300-400 people. The people of Paris rejected the election and on December 1, 1859, the “Battle of Paris” occurred.
Not comprised of combat, this was a battle of will and words, though actual fighting almost occurred. Not wanting to move the county seat, citizens of Paris refused to relinquish the county records. As a result, forces from Mound City under Charles R. Jennison marched on Paris, stating there would be an attack if the records were not surrendered. In an attempt to keep the records, the Paris faction stated that they did not know where the records were. However, wanting to avoid a battle, they eventually surrendered them.
After losing the county seat, the town began to diminish in size and importance and by 1867 it was almost entirely abandoned as a town. Its post office closed on September 1, 1869. However, there must have been a short resurgence in the community, as another post office was opened on January 1, 1870. But, it was short-lived, closing just eight months later on August 11, 1870.
©Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of Kansas, April 2021.
Cutler, William G.; Kansas: History of the State of Kansas, 1883.