Is situate a little east of the north central part of Cherokee County, two miles south of the Crawford County line, and eight miles west of the east line of Cherokee County. The town was built upon land which belonged to T. M. Weir, and it took its name from him. Mr. Weir, who was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, March 2, 1841, came to Cherokee County, Kansas, in 1871, and immediately entered a quarter section of land, upon 40 acres of which the original plat of Weir City was laid out. He began at once to open coal mines. A. J. Weir and H. P. Weir, two of his sons, now live in the city, and they have done much toward building it up.
Besides the Weirs, the following may be mentioned as among the very first settlers: P. E. Brady, John Sullivan, John Hoffman and G. D. Sams. Afterward there came William Hamilton, Edward Baker, Nick Smith, E. E. Holt, Peter Smith, Joseph Bennett and Robert Hogg. Among the first to open coal mine’s were Fred Blattner, the Oswego Coal Company and Bovard & Dixon. Then came Keith & Perry, and later The Kansas & Texas Coal Company.
When the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, which later became the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad, was built through Cherokee County, from north to south, no account was taken of the rich coal deposits as far away from the line as the site where Weir City now stands, although it was only four miles from the track of the road. Bovard & Dixon first opened mines near the present town of Scammon, on the line of the road. Afterward Keith & Perry operated mines there, before opening mines at Weir City. Even as late as 1880. Weir City was a mere mining camp containing only about 350 people. This was nine years after the railroad had been built through the county. The progress of development in those days was much slower than at the present. At that time long, dreary years dragged by, and even men of means, who were said to possess a lively perception of advantage, and could see well into the future, were slow to seize upon opportunities which offered sure and largely remunerative returns. The whole State of Kansas was then new. It had been only a few years since the first coal mines had been opened in the State, at Leavenworth; and these were worked but lightly, for the demand for coal was slight. The attention of the settlers of the State, up to as late as 1875, was directed almost wholly to agriculture, and to the classes of business which agricultural interests would support in the new towns which were springing up. It is true that the railroad companies had an eye to the coal fields, for they knew what the value of such wealth would ultimately be; but the people, as a rule, had not awakened to their importance, beyond the light demands which they would supply at easy effort. Such were the conditions in Cherokee County; and the conditions as they then existed held back the Weir City coal district from early, rapid development. The first settlers and the first mine operators did not get the best returns from their labor. Coal was produced at merely nominal prices, so low that the operators secured but a narrow margin of profit. But as the population of the eastern part of the State increased, and the enlargement of railroad systems went on, the demand for fuel was proportionately greater; and with the greater demand there came an opportunity for greater profit. In the chapter on mines and mining I have given the output of the mines of this particular district, along with that of the other mining sections of the county.
Weir City is a city of the second class, and has been such for many years. The following have been the mayors, in the order of their serving: J. Knox Barney, P. E. Brady, B. S. Abbott, D. W. King, H. M. Grandle, Thad Hargiss and W. J. Allen. The postmasters have been: J. Knox Barney, Jack Morgan, Wilson Liff, W. P. Kent, J. W. Kirk and S. W. Gould. The salary of the office is $1,700. There are two rural routes, and the office supplies a vast amount of mail matter through its immediate delivery.
The first physicians in Weir City were Dr. J. Knox Barney, Dr. Bailey and Dr. C. W. Hoag. Later there were Dr. J. A. Wallace, Drs. Doan and Pritchard, Dr. I. E. Striker, Dr. D. W. King and Dr. G. B. McClelland. Dr. Hoag is the oldest in residence now, having lived here since 1881. The physicians now located in the city are Drs. Hoag, McClelland and J. H. Boss. Dr. Boss is the county coroner.
The water works and the electric light plant of Weir City are owned and operated by a private company, and from each of them the city gets prompt and efficient service. A fire department is maintained, and the streets of the city are well lighted. A large ice plant is also in successful operation which, besides supplying the local demand, ships large quantities to other towns and cities.
Weir City, like all other Kansas communities, takes a pride in its public schools. There are three fine buildings, in different parts of the city, and there are 17 teachers employed. George B. Deem was the superintendent last year, and for many years preceding. R. Rankin will be super intendent for the year 1904-05.
The Baptist, Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian churches have church organizations and buildings. Of these the Catholic Church is the strongest in number, with the Methodist following.
The population of Weir City in 1880 was about 350. It has had a steady growth, and at the last census, in 1900, its population was 3,091. The building of the Weir City branch of the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis road, which leaves the main line at Scammon, runs through Weir City and Pittsburg and returns to the main line at Girard, gave an impetus to the growth of the place and very largely increased its commercial importance. The city also has railroad connections west with Parsons, Kansas, and on to the gas and oil fields west and southwest of the latter place.
Weir city has its share of what are called secret orders,–Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Sons and Daughters of Justice, Knights and Ladies of Security, Rebekahs, Order of the Eastern Star, and the Degree of Honor. Black Diamond Lodge, No. 274, A. F. & A. M., was organized and chartered February 16, 1887. David B. White is the master; Robert Hogg is the secretary.
Among those who have built commodious comfortable homes in Weir City, the following may be mentioned: A. J. Weir, A. B. Cockrill, David Crow, Edward Baker, William Hamilton, Harvey Smith, B. S. Abbott, Horace Hayden. Rome Allen, Joseph Bennett, Dr. Hoag, Fred Grant and W. M. Pye.