Auburn, Kansas

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Auburn is a city in Shawnee County, Kansas, United States. It is part of the Topeka, Kansas Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,121 at the 2000 census.



In July 1854, Mr. John W. Brown came to this area and found it highly suitable for a homestead. He acquired 800 acres (3.2 km2) through bartering with local Indians. He built a large brick farmhouse and later returned home to Missouri to tell his family and friends about the area. Some returned with him. In 1856, Mr. Brown along with M. C. Dickey, Loring Farnsworth and Henry Fox pre-empted 320 acres (1.3 km2) for the purpose of a town. They christened it Brownsville, although the name was changed in the 1860s due to the fact there was another previously established Brownsville, Kansas. This was before the introduction of postal codes. It was located on the California Road and work began at once on the many buildings needed in a town of Brownsville's size. Two daily stage lines brought mail and people to the town and business was very good.

Robert Simmerwell was a missionary to the Indians in Auburn. He originally served as a missionary among the Pottawatomie Indians in Michigan Territory, while he apprenticed to a blacksmith and attended school at night. He later came to the Baptist Shawnee Mission on Pottawatomie Creek in eastern Kansas. In 1848 the government set up a new mission a few miles west of Topeka. In a three-story stone building with twelve rooms, boys and girls were given instruction in the manual arts, as well as in reading, writing, arithmetic, and religious subjects. In the fall of 1854, he and his wife had retired from active work in the Pottawatomie Mission, to homestead on 160 acres (0.6 km2)southwest of the town.

In the 1850s, the city grew fast, and was often referred to as a "boom town". It was one of the largest in the state, and nearly became the state capitol. However, Auburn was cast aside as an option, as the railroad bypassed the city. Topeka was chosen to be the capitol because it had the railroad and an important ferry site along the Kansas River. The population dwindled, but continued to hover around 100 for many decades.

A description of the town from a 1912 volume of Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History is as follows:

Auburn, a money order post office of Shawnee county, is in the township of the same name, about 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Topeka and 8 miles (13 km) west of Wakarusa, which is the nearest railroad station. It is a trading center for that section of the county, has Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian churches, telephone connection with Topeka and other adjacent points, and in 1910 reported a population of 72. Two rural free delivery routes start from the Auburn office and supply daily mail to the farmers of the vicinity.

Auburn finally began to grow in population in the 1950s. An important issue at this time was the city's small school system. It consisted of Auburn Grade School (grades K-5) and Auburn High School (grades 6-12). The Highschool was quickly becoming overcrowded, and in the late 1950s, a new building was built. However, it was eventually decided that the Auburn School district would merge with the Washburn School District to increase efficiency. In 1962, that was finalized. The highschool became Auburn Middle School, and in the late 1980s closed and converted to a community center, and the gradeschool remains open to this day.

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