Located on the north bank of the
Smoky Hill River,
about 95 miles west of Topeka, Abilene is the county seat and largest city
of Dickinson County.
Though best known as the Queen of Kansas Cowtowns,
Abilene already existed for a decade before the cattle came to town.
First settled in 1858, it was named by
Timothy and Eliza Hersey from a passage in the Bible,
meaning "city of the plains." The first terminus of and
later a station on the Butterfield Overland Stage Line, the Hersey's secured a
contract with the company to feed the passengers and employees. The
establishment, consisting of two log houses, a log stable and corral for
horses, advertised to the west-bound traveler: "the last square meal east
The next structure built was a dwelling
known as "the Hotel," owned by C. H. Thompson, and located on the east
bank of Mud Creek. More homesteaders began to come to the
area and among one of them was a man commonly known as "Old Man Jones,"
who erected a log house which he turned into a store, selling some limited
supplies, but mostly whiskey.
Seeing the coming of statehood for
Kansas Territory, C.H. Thompson first laid out the town in 1860,
hastily constructing some makeshift log houses to give it some semblance
of a town. The following year, Abilene became the Dickinson County Seat. In
1864 Dr. W. S. Moon built the Frontier Store east of the creek, carrying a
small stock of general merchandise. Moon became the first postmaster and
well as the Registrar of Deeds. The growth of the town was rather slow
until after the the