Iola, the seat of justice and largest city of Allen county, is situated a little northwest of the center of the county, at the junction of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, and the Missouri Pacific railways. Duncan's History of Allen County says that a meeting was held in Jan., 1859, at the residence of J. C. Clark, near the mouth of Deer creek, to locate a new town with a view to making it the county seat. A town company was organized with John W. Scott, president; John Hamilton, vice-president; J. M. Perkins, secretary; and James McDonald, treasurer. The town was named for Mrs. Iola Colborn, the wife of J. F. Colborn, who erected the first frame house, a log house having been previously put up by Bolivar B. Bayne. In 1860 James Faulkner and Aaron Case removed their stores from the old town of Cofachique to Iola. Little progress was made during the war, but in the few years immediately following the growth was more rapid. In 1866 W. H. Johnson began the publication of the Neosho Valley Register, which was the first newspaper. The first bank was started by the King Bridge company, but when the bridge company went out of business the bank also ceased to exist. L. L. Northrup then started a private bank, which later developed into the present Northrup National bank. The city also has two state banks and a savings bank. Iola is well equipped with paved streets, a good waterworks system, electric lights, a street railway system, a fire department, gas for both heating and illuminating purposes, an opera house, two daily and three weekly newspapers, a public library, five fine graded public schools and a high school, and various religious denominations are represented by handsome houses of worship. Eight large cement factories turn out about 25,000 barrels a day, employing about 3,000 men; the 9 zinc smelters produce about one-third of the world's supply; and a large spelter employs some 1,800 persons. There are also flour mills, brick and tile works, iron works, planing mills, ice factory and cold storage plant, rug factory, bottling works, creamery, broom factory, and a number of smaller manufacturing enterprises. Iola is connected by an electric railway with La Harpe, the line passing through the gas field, with branches to Bassett and Concrete. On Feb. 28, 1870, Iola was incorporated as a city of the second class by an act of the legislature. The population in 1910, according to the U. S. census, was 9,032, and the city was at that time composed of six wards. Four rural delivery routes emanate from the Iola postoffice and supply mail to a large agricultural district and a number of smaller villages.
Source: Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc., pages 939-940, Volume 1, Standard Pub. Co. Chicago; 1912, edited by Frank W. Blackmar