Archive for Thursday, November 4, 2004

Connecting to the past

November 4, 2004

First of all I want to give a big welcome to our new Lansing Current newspaper.

It will be great to have our own paper, and I hope all our citizens contribute with goodies to be published.

That being said, the powers that be have asked me to contribute some items of interest about the history of this old town. I was born here 76 years ago last July 26 and live exactly one block from the house I was born in, and am probably one of a few who has lived here all of my life. So now you are going to be stuck with finding out a little bit about me.

I was lucky enough to watch this town grow from an unincorporated community of 1,261 people to what it is today. Now we have passed the 10,000 mark. Lansing developed through a strong volunteer system. In my case, it started when I coached the Lansing Grade School basketball team in 1944 when I was 16. At 17, I attended one of the first organizational meetings of the Lansing Fire Department, of which we are very proud today. I graduated from Lansing High School in 1946. In the yearbook class prophecy, it was predicted "Gene Young lives in Lansing, acts as official for local ball games, works for the good of the community, when he isn't in Kansas City working at the Cheese Plant." This prophecy was very close to being true. I retired from that "Cheese Plant" some 30 years later.

In 1959 I was elected to the first City Council.

As time goes along, I will try to tell you about events and people who have had an important part in the development of this city.

The name Lansing

At first the East Side of the highway (now K-7) was called Petersburgh. And the West Side of the highway was called Lansing. It was named after Doc Lansing. He was not really a doctor, nor was his last name Lansing. His full real name was William Lansing Taylor. He was born Oct. 30, 1831, in New York. During his youth, he studied law and medicine.

During the Civil War, he was captured by the South. Later he was paroled after agreeing he would not take up arms against the South again. In 1862, he enlisted as a hospital steward in the Seventh Regiment of the Kansas Volunteer Cavalry under the name of William Lansing. He deliberately changed his name to re-enlist.

After the war he continued to use his new name. A job at the new Kansas Penitentiary as a hospital steward is what brought him here.

He later resigned this position and opened a General Mercantile Store in Petersburgh, also known legally as "The Town of Progress."

This store included a post office and apothecary business. By that time, he was known by everyone as Doc Lansing.

Since Petersburgh, or "The Town of Progress," had too many letters for the cancellation stamp at the post office, the name "Lansing," was chosen. We legally became Lansing Nov. 1, 1875.

Doc Lansing also was the first postmaster after Lansing got its name.

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