Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Founders of Abilene

Timothy Hersey arrived in Kansas in July 1857.  He settled along the bank of Mud Creek in present day Dickinson County.  Timothy was an adventurous fellow, and a land surveyor.  He first constructed a dugout, a completed a log house in 1858.  After the construction of his home was finished, he sent for his family to move to the new home.  Soon, his wife Elizabeth, and their children were living together again.  Their modest home was located where the Lebold Mansion in Abilene stands today.

The Hersey family built a small store and a barn, and quickly became a common stop for travellers on the Overland and Butterfield Stage Lines.  Many travellers stopped at the Hersey home for a meal and rest.  At the time, the Herseys were known as the last place to get a good meal in the west.

After Timothy had laid out a town, more and more settlers began to come to the area.  A name for the town was needed, and in 1860, Elizabeth Hersey chose a name that she thought was suitable.  Elizabeth was a deeply Christian woman, and found a name in Luke 3:1.  She named the town Abilene, which means “city on the plains.”
Elizabeth Hersey.  Photograph courtesy of the Dickinson County Historical Society.
Over the years, Timothy found himself doing a wide arrange of work.  He operated a small grist mill on the creek bank, near where Fifth Street in Abilene is located today.  Timothy later became the first Dickinson County clerk, and was elected as a state representative for Dickinson County in 1861.  He served two terms.

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