Manhattan, one of the important cities of the state, is located at the junction of the Big Blue and Kansas rivers in Riley county, of which it is the judicial seat. The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific R. R. on the north side of the Kansas river and the Union Pacific R.R. on the south, both enter the city from the east. The former road continues in a northwesterly direction into Clay county and the latter diverges, one branch going southwest into Geary county and the other following the valley of the Blue river into Marshall county. Manhattan is a well improved and well kept city, having paved streets, an electric street railway, a $50,000 court house, a $25,000 city hall, 1 state and 2 national banks, two daily papers, three weeklies and three college papers. There are express and telegraph offices and an international money order post-office with eight rural routes. Manhattan is the seat of the State Agricultural College. The population in 1910 was 5,722.
Before the year 1855 two towns had been located in the vicinity of Manhattan - Poleska in 1854 by Col. George S. Park of Parkville, Mo., on which Seth I. Childs had built a house, and another place called Canton at the mouth of the Big Blue located by Samuel D. Houston of Illinois, Judge J. M. Russell of Iowa, Judge Saunders W. Johnston of Ohio, E. M. Thurston of Maine and Dr. A. H. Wilcox of Rhode Island. The two towns were consolidated by a committee of the New England Company from Boston in 18155, and the place called Boston. In June of the same year a company of 75 persons from Cincinnati, who had come to Kansas for the purpose of establishing a town the name of which should be Manhattan, appeared on the scene. They were given half of the town site of Boston as an inducement to locate at that point, and the name was changed to Manhattan. They had come all the way from Cincinnati in the steamer Hartford, and brought with them ten houses ready to be put up. These houses were commodious for Kansas buildings, some of them containing 8 or 9 rooms. The site occupied by the town was originally two Indian floats, each containing 640 acres. Prominent in the Cincinnati company were Judge John Pipher and A. J. Mead, while the leaders of the Boston company were I. T. Goodnow, J. Denison and Rev. C. E. Blood. Samuel Houston of the original Canton company was the only free state man elected to the first territorial legislature, this locality being far enough away from the Missouri border not to be molested with illegal voting.
The first school was taught in 1855 by Mrs. C. E. Blood. The first school house was built in 1858 at a cost of $2,500. The first birth was that of Irvine Lovejoy, son of Rev. C. F. Lovejoy, in 1855. The first marriage was between Thomas Olatt and Sally E. Pipher in 1856. The first death was that of G. W. Barnes, son of Charles Barnes. The first store was kept by George Miller and John Pipher. The post office, which was established in 1856 was kept at this store.
Manhattan was incorporated as a city by the legislature in Feb., 1857. The first election was held the next May with the result that the following men were the first city officers: A. J. Mead, mayor; S. G. Hoyt, A. Scammon, Ira Taylor, Fred Marvin, John Hoar, George Miller, Edward Hunting, John Pipher and C. W. Beebe, councilmen. It became a city of the second class under Gov. St. John in 1880. In 1910 bonds to the extent of $20,000 were voted to aid in the construction of an interurban electric line from Manhattan to Fort Riley. (Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events.... Vol. 2, edited by Frank Wilson Blackmar, 1912)