Sylvan, Kansas, an extinct town in Marshall County, was established in 1857. A post office was established in August of the same year.
In 1858 it was made the county seat of Marshall County. The prime mover in this affair was T. S. Vaile, a member of the Free-State Kansas Territorial Legislature from Marshall County. Marysville at that time was reputedly a pro-slavery town, and Vaile had an act passed removing the county seat to Sylvan. A body of men representing the Nebraska Town Company came to Sylvan at that time with 24 oxen and wagons loaded with lumber to build the town; they also brought some mercantile goods which they sold in a tent. No buildings were erected. In September 1858 the post office closed. One can surmise that the post office was held in someone’s home since no buildings were built in the new town.
The only official business transacted at the new county seat was the canvassing of the vote of 1859. There being no house at Sylvan, the county commissioners held their session in the house of George D. Swearingen, a mile distant. The vote of the “people” returned the county seat status to Marysville. After Sylvan was abandoned as the county seat, the Nebraska Town Company left their lumber on the ground and departed. The lumber was at once confiscated. No direct charge was made as to who took it, but as a certain self-styled county seat was badly in need of lumber, that useful building material may have found its way there. For 50 years the name of Sylvan was but a memory until 1909 when the Union Pacific Railroad was extended from Topeka to Marysville and on the site selected for Sylvan was built the town of Winifred.
©Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated July 2020.
Extinct Towns of Marshall County
Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Vol I; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.
Cutler, William G; History of Kansas; A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL, 1883.
Forter, Emma Elizabeth Calderhead; History of Marshall County, Kansas: Its People, Industries, and Institutions; B.F. Bowen, 1917.