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Founded as Petersburg by a Chicago man, Dr. Samuel Rodgers, in 1872, this town site was in Pawnee County at the time. The railroad had built tracks to the present site of Kinsley by August 1, 1872. Meanwhile, a F. C. Hawkins was appointed to take the census for the purpose of organizing Pawnee County.
Hawkins had men on an immigrant train sign a petition stating that they were legal electors living in Pawnee County - the petition had to have 40 names, and there were not enough legal electors actually living in the county. Then Hawkins had to find 600 residents and he reported having counted 674. Dr. Rodgers reported the fraudulent count to Topeka, but the legislature and the governor ignored him and organized Pawnee County regardless of the report.
Dr. Rodgers continued to work on improvements in Petersburg. A telegraph office and a hotel called the Buffalo Hotel were established during the first few months of 1873. When Dr. Rodgers was not around, Booth, a supporter of Larned, had gotten to the legislature and they passed a bill that changed the boundaries of Pawnee County. The main purpose was to remove the southern townships which would place Larned at the center of the county. This left Petersburg and Garfield out; eventually Garfield was restored to Pawnee County, but the thirteen other townships were left without a county.
Efforts to begin a new county started in mid-1874. The first census showed only 301 residents in May, but the people asked for another census to be taken. In August, the second census showed 633 residents.
Meanwhile, the town of Petersburg was undergoing a name change. By the end of 1873, it had changed its name to Kinsley after Mr. Edward W. Kinsley of Boston. Mr. Kinsley had been a promoter of the town for the New England Homestead and Colonization Bureau which had joined forces with Dr. Samuel Rodgers.
The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.
Richardson, Myrtle H. "Oft' Told Tales: A History of Edwards County, Kansas, to 1900". Lewis, KS: The Lewis Press, 1976.
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