Holton, Kansas

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Holton is a city in and the county seat of Jackson County, Kansas, United States.[3] It is part of the Topeka, Kansas Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 3,353 at the 2000 census.



The party that chose the site of Holton started at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in May 1856. A train of six covered wagons, each drawn by two yoke of oxen, started the long trek to take Free State settlers to Kansas. They were financed by the Kansas Society of Milwaukee which was headed by E. D. Holton. They met General James H. Lane with two hundred men at Nebraska City, Nebraska, a rendezvous for Free State men. They followed the Jim Lane Road into Kansas approximately thirty miles. They came to Elk Creek, 2½ miles west of Holton, where they cut timbers to make a bridge, crossed it and made camp where Central School now stands. They liked the two streams (later named Banner Creek and Elk Creek) and the pleasant grassy hills, so they decided to stay. A company was organized and a civil engineer who was with them commenced the survey. They named the new town in honor of Mr. Holton, the Milwaukee abolitionist.

A log house 20 by 30 feet was erected; it was so planned that is could be used for a fort and was known as Jim Lane's Fort. In the spring of 1857, J. B. Ingerson surveyed the townsite lots.

The Jackson County that contains Holton had been named Calhoun County until 1859 when the name was changed to Jackson County. Holton was chosen as the county seat in 1858. A frame building served as the first courthouse on the east side of the square, near the middle of the block. The first courthouse was built in the center of the square in 1872. The present courthouse was completed in 1921.

In 1859 the famous John Brown took a group of escaped slaves through Holton, leading to an incident known as the "Battle of the Spurs".[4]

In 1859 Holton had seven dwellings, one store, a blacksmith shop and a steam saw mill. The census taken in April, 1857, gave Holton 291 people; in 1860 the population was 1,936. In 1859 the city was incorporated.[5]

In 1879 the residents of Jackson County, Kansas decided to form a university in Holton. It was funded by mining magnate, A. C. Campbell, a former resident who had moved to Utah, and thus named Campbell University. In 1902 it merged with Lane University and became Campbell College. It was still in existence in 1912 in Holton.[6]


Holton is located at 39°28′1″N 95°44′13″W / 39.46694°N 95.73694°W / 39.46694; -95.73694 (39.466935, -95.736869)[7]. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.5 square miles (6.6 km²), of which, 2.5 square miles (6.3 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (3.54%) is water.

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