Paola, Kansas

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Paola (pronounced /peɪˈoʊlə/) is a city in and the county seat of Miami County, Kansas, United States.[3] The population was 5,011 at the 2000 census.



First, native American Indians, then Spanish explorers such as Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1541, and French missionary explorers in 1673 lived and traveled throughout the area of what is now Paola. Settlement of the area primarily occurred however when Kaskaskia, Peoria, Wea, and Piankeshaw Indian tribes were forced to move to the area between 1827 and 1832.[4] These formed the Confederated Allied Tribe which was led by Baptiste Peoria who was of both French and Indian ethnicity. They called their settlement (now Paola) "Peoria Village".[5] By the 1840s, settlers were moving into the area, and several missionaries lived in and near "Peoria Village". One of those missionaries was an Italian priest who moved to the area in 1852. The priest, Father Paul D. Ponziglione, wis credited with re-naming Peoria Village to Paola, after a small town on the coast of Calabria, Italy. The Peoria Indians of the area continued to call it Paola, because they had great respect for Father Ponziglione.[4] By 1854 there was a large number of settlers who moved to the settlement and a town plat was laid out by 1855. On August 16 of 1855, the First Territorial Legislature passed an act that incorporated the Paola Town Company. The Paola Town Company and specifically its member Baptiste Peoria are credited as being influential in the founding and development of Paola through the mid 1860's.[5] Following Kansas' admission to the Union in 1861, and after the American Civil War pressure to move the native American Indian tribes increased, and they were exiled to Oklahoma by 1868. Some individuals stayed and became citizens of the United States, however, their leader Baptiste Peoria left Paola with the tribe. From the late 1860s and through the 1870s, Paola grew and progressed, building its first school, jail, and bank. The railroad came to serve Paola in 1870, which also aided its progress through this time.[4] Following the discovery of natural gas in 1882, Paola became the first town west of the Mississippi River to use it commercially and have the town illuminated using natural gas lanterns. In 1898 the Miami County Courthouse was built, designed by architect George Washburn. Several homes and buildings were designed by Washburn, including the Paola Free Library completed in 1906 and the Paola Park Square's Victorian-style gazebo from 1913. The library, courthouse, gazebo, and several homes are among those still in use today.[5]

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