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 until it was torn down. (This spot is now marked with a commemorative plaque and stone dedicated by the Catholic parish in 1970). The party feared to spend the winter here. They had been warned of the coming of the Kickapoo Rangers. Lane felt it was unsafe for families so they moved to Topeka for the winter. A man named Wheeler was engaged to make a plot of the town, and a committee was selected to visit the site in December to see if anyone had jumped the townsite. They found everything as they had left it. They soon filed at the Lecompton Land Office.
Holton is located in Jackson County. The county lies 39 degrees 30 minutes north latitude, 94 degrees 40 minutes west longitude, sea level 1,172 feet. Area of the county is 650 square miles or 419,840 acres. Holton's altitude is 1,094 feet. Jackson County had been originally named Calhoun County, honoring John Calhoun, Secretary of War under President Monroe, until 1859, then the name was changed to honor Andrew Jackson. In the spring of 1857, J. B. Ingerson surveyed the townsite lots. The town is in Franklin Township, whose area is six miles by six miles. The township was named for Benjamin Franklin. The people came mainly from Western Pennsylvania, Southern Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, New England, New York, and the so-called western states of that era. Next is the German element and the natives of the British Isles.
W.F. Creitz and brother built the first building, a grocery store, on Park Lot No. 1, now 101 West Fourth. During the summer, T. B. Waters built the first hotel, the Holton House, which stood in the center of the block of 400 New York Avenue. Later E. M. Parks put up a house named the Banner Hotel on the corner of 5th and New York Avenue. 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. Supplies in early years were purchased in Leavenworth and Topeka. Teams of oxen or horses brought the supplies. The first mail came from Grasshopper Falls (Valley Falls) and later from Topeka. N. D. Lewis was the first settler in Franklin township, 4 1/4 miles east of the present Holton.
In 1859 the city was incorporated by Probate Judge Major Anderson. Dr. James Waters was mayor and George L. Hamm, city clerk. The city was incorporated as a city of the third class on July 30, 1870. The first officials included Mayor T.J. Adamson; councilmen, Ira.I. Taber, Ed Vetter, J. T. Scott and H. P. Bishop; Marshal, R. J. Waterhouse; Police Judge, J. H. Lowell; Attorney, Charles Hayden. It became a second class city by proclamation of the governor on February 3, 1888. The mayor and council form of government continued until 1911 when it was decided to elect the council members instead of appointing them. In 1912 the first election of mayor and commissioners was held. Dr. E. W. Reed served as the first mayor under the mayor-commissioner type government. The first elected commissioner of Public Utilities was A. E. Hosmer, 1912-14, succeeded by Dr. C. W. Thompson. C. D. Bateman was elected first commissioner of Finance, followed by W. V. Baskett. F. H. Woodworth was the second mayor. In 1948 the city adopted the city manager form of government with Virgil Knowles as the first city manager.
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 built in the center of the square in 1872 cost $23,000, and the present courthouse completed in 1921 cost $300,000.
The first woman city official was Mrs. Ella Brown, attorney, from the faculty of Campbell College, serving as city attorney form 1893 to 1895. The Hook and Ladder Company was organized in 1875. The fire department building in the 200 block of West Fifth was built in 1898. The company is still a volunteer group with three engines for town and country use. In 1872 the dog tax was first levied. The city ordinance in 1876 required the walks around the square to be of pine lumber 4 foot wide, to be paid for by owners around the square. Later in 1897 all sidewalks were to be of brick or iron. In 1908 drinking fountains were placed on each corner of the square for man and beast. House numbers were required at this time. In October, 1909, the first sewers were built, and in 1915 the first paved street was started.
Information for this page is excerpted from a booklet entitled Holton, Kansas, 1856 - 1970, 114 YEARS OF GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT Sponsored by THE BOOKMAN CLUB Author; Mary Margaret Allard, 1970