Parkerville, Kansas is a semi-ghost town located on the Neosho River about 12 miles northwest of Council Grove. Located along the old Santa Fe Trail, it wasn’t founded during the days of wagon train travel, but rather, after the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad came through the area.
Parkerville was established by Charles G. Parker, a former Santa Fe Trail wagon train freighter, in 1870. Parker laid out the settlement surrounding a town square, as he planned to remove the county seat status from Council Grove and the square would be used for a new courthouse. The first store was established by Eastman and Thomas and the first residence was established by Charles Parker. A drug store/post office was run by J.A. Wallace. A post office was established in August 1870 and called Parkersville for its founder. By the end of the year, the town also boasted about 19 homes and a boarding house.
The next year, the town was incorporated in February and in the spring, an election was held for town officers, at which time, J. A. Wallace was chosen mayor. Almost immediately Parkerville challenged Council Grove for the County Seat. An election was called to settle the matter. All sorts of trickery were resorted to by both sides, including bringing in men by the hundreds for voting purposes. At that time the population of the county was 2,225. The number of votes cast was 1,312, of which 899 were for Council Grove and 413 for Parkerville. The same year, the town built a two-story schoolhouse.
In 1873, Charles Parker built the two and a half story steam-powered Neosho River Mill, which had the capacity of milling 120 barrels of flour each day.
In October 1877, the Morris County Enterprise, a weekly newspaper, was established by V.C. Welch, and quickly had a circulation of about 500. In 1880 a handsome stone Methodist Episcopal Church was built that initially served 60 parishioners.
The town thrived in its first decade and by 1883, it boasted a dry good store, two drug stores, two grocery stores, a hardware store, two harness shops, and a wagon shop. There were also two cheese factories, a steam grist mill, and a sawmill. However, it was also in the early 1880s that the Missouri Pacific Railroad built a line through the county, which soon created the new settlements of Wesley and Herington, which took trade away from Parkerville.
However, the town continued to prosper through the turn of the century, by which time it had a grade school, high school, bank, newspaper, law offices, a veterinarian, a grocery store, and other businesses. A nearby horse track drew spectators from a large area. In 1910, it had a population of 157.
Through the Great Depression, the town suffered and the bank closed in 1931. The Parkerville High School closed in 1945 and the students then attended the White City High School. The grade school, however, continued to hold classes until 1966.
In 1950, the last train went through the town and within a decade, all signs of the railroad were gone, including the tracks. The town’s post office closed on October 31, 1953.
Today, Parkerville is a very sleepy semi-ghost town with only the Baptist Church still open today. It has just about 60 residents. The town is located about 18 miles northwest of Council Grove.
Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas Cyclopedia, Standard Publishing, 1912
Cutler, William G.; History of the State of Kansas, A. T. Andreas, 1883