Abilene (pronounced /ˈæbɪliːn/) is a city in and the county
seat of Dickinson County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010
census, the city population was 6,844. The Dwight D. Eisenhower
Presidential Library and Museum is located in Abilene.
1.1 19th century
1.2 20th century
4.1 2010 census
5.1 Primary and secondary education
8 Points of interest
10 Notable people
11 Sister Cities
12 See also
13 Further reading
15 External links
See also: History of Kansas
Joseph McCoy's Drover's Hotel, McCoy's Stock Yard in 1867
Former Rock Island Depot. Currently a gift shop for Abilene and Smoky
Valley Railroad (2010)
1915 Railroad Map of Dickinson County
For millennia, the land now known as
Kansas was inhabited by Native
Americans. In 1803, most of modern
Kansas was secured by the United
States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1854, the Kansas
Territory was organized, then in 1861
Kansas became the 34th U.S.
In 1857, Dickinson County was founded. Abilene began as a stage coach
stop in the same year, established by Timothy Hersey and named Mud
Creek. It wasn't until 1860 that it was named Abilene, from a passage
in the Bible (Luke 3:1), meaning "city of the plains".
In 1867, the
Kansas Pacific Railway (Union Pacific) pushed westward
through Abilene. In the same year, Joseph G. McCoy purchased 250 acres
of land north and east of Abilene, on which he built a hotel, the
Drover’s Cottage, stockyards equipped for 2,000 heads of cattle, and
a stable for their horses. The
Kansas Pacific put in a spur line at
Abilene that enabled the cattle cars to be loaded and sent on to their
destinations. The first twenty carloads left September 5, 1867, en
route to Chicago, Illinois, where McCoy was familiar with the
market. The town grew quickly and became the very first "cow town"
of the west.
McCoy encouraged Texas cattlemen to drive their herds to his
stockyards. From 1867 to 1871, the
Chisholm Trail ended in Abilene,
bringing in many travelers and making Abilene one of the wildest towns
in the west. The stockyards shipped 35,000 head in 1867 and
became the largest stockyards west of
Kansas City, Kansas. In 1871,
more than 5,000 cowboys herded from 600,000 to 700,000 cows to Abilene
Kansas railheads. Another source reports 440,200
head of cattle were shipped out of Abilene from 1867 to 1871. As
railroads were built further south, the end of the
Chisholm Trail was
slowly moved south towards Caldwell, while as
moved the trail west towards and past Ellsworth.
Town marshal Tom "Bear River" Smith was initially successful policing
Abilene, often using only his bare hands. He survived two
assassination attempts during his tenure. However, he was murdered and
decapitated on November 2, 1870. Smith wounded one of his two
attackers during the shootout preceding his death, and both suspects
received life in prison for the offense. He was replaced by Wild
Bill Hickok in April 1871. Hickok's time in the job was short.
While the marshal was standing off a crowd during a street brawl,
Phil Coe took two shots at Hickok, who returned fire, killing
Coe. But Hickok then accidentally shot his friend and deputy, Mike
Williams, who was coming to his aid. Hickok lost his job two
months later in December.
In 1880 Conrad Lebold built the Lebold Mansion. Lebold was one of the
early town developers and bankers from 1869 through 1889. The Hersey
dugout can still be seen in the cellar. The house is now a private
residence. A marker outside credits the name of the town being
given by opening a Bible and using the first place name pointed to.
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway built a branch line
from Neva (3 miles west of Strong City) through Abilene to Superior,
Nebraska. In 1996, the
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway merged
Burlington Northern Railroad
Burlington Northern Railroad and renamed to the current BNSF
Railway. Most locals still refer to this railroad as the "Santa Fe".
In 1890, Dr. A.B. Seelye founded the A.B. Seelye Medical Company.
Seelye developed over 100 products for the company including
"Wasa-Tusa", an Indian name meaning to heal.
Eisenhower Presidential Library
Abilene became home to
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower when his family moved to
Denison, Texas in 1892. Eisenhower attended elementary
school through high school in Abilene, graduating in 1909. The Dwight
Eisenhower Presidential Library
Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum is the burial site of
President Eisenhower, his wife, Mamie, and their first-born son Doud
2005 KDOT Map of Dickinson County (map legend)
Abilene is located at 38°55′11″N 97°13′2″W /
38.91972°N 97.21722°W / 38.91972; -97.21722 (38.919721,
−97.217329) at an elevation of 1,155 feet (352 m). The city
lies on the north side of the Smoky Hill River in the Flint Hills
region of the Great Plains. Mud Creek, a tributary of the Smoky
Hill, flows south through the city. Located in north-central
Kansas at the intersection of
Interstate 70 and K-15, Abilene is
approximately 27 mi (43 km) east of Salina, Kansas,
94 mi (151 km) north of Wichita, and 139 mi
(224 km) west of
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total
area of 4.68 square miles (12.12 km2), all of it land.
Lying in the transition zone between North America's humid subtropical
climate (Köppen Cfa) and humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa)
zones, Abilene experiences hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters.
In the spring, severe thunderstorms bring the threat of tornadoes and
hail. Over the course of a year, temperatures range from an average
low below 20 °F (−7 °C) in January to an average high of
nearly 95 °F (35 °C) in July. The maximum temperature
reaches 90 °F (32 °C) an average of 66 days per year and
reaches 100 °F (38 °C) an average of 14 days per year. The
minimum temperature falls to or below the freezing point an average of
116 days per year. Typically the first fall freeze occurs between the
last week of September and the first week of November, and the last
spring freeze occurs during April or the first week of May. The area
receives nearly 33 inches (840 mm) of precipitation during an
average year with the largest share being received in May and
June—which when combined average 19 days of measurable
precipitation. There are on average 79 days of measurable
precipitation per year. Winter snowfall averages about 14 inches,
but the median is less than 10 inches (250 mm). Measurable
snowfall occurs an average of 7 days per year with at least an inch of
snow being received on five of those days. Snow depth of at least an
inch occurs an average of 8 days per year. The hottest temperature
recorded in Abilene was 113 °F (45 °C) in 1954; the
coldest temperature recorded was −24 °F (−31 °C) in
Climate data for Abilene, Kansas
Record high °F (°C)
Average high °F (°C)
Daily mean °F (°C)
Average low °F (°C)
Record low °F (°C)
Average precipitation inches (mm)
Average snowfall inches (cm)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)
Source: The Weather Channel; National Weather Service
Abilene remains a cattle yard town, which is still loaded onto the
rail system, along with grain and other crops.
U.S. Decennial Census
As of the 2010 census, there were 6,844 people, 2,878 households, and
1,781 families residing in the city. The population density was
1,463.6 people per square mile (3,791/km²). There were 3,143 housing
units at an average density of 671.6 per square mile (259.8/km²). The
racial makeup of the city was 94.9% White, 0.9% African American, 0.4%
American Indian, 0.2% Asian, 1.1% from some other race, and 2.4% from
two or more races. 4.7% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of
There were 2,878 households of which 31.1% had children under the age
of 18 living with them, 47.3% were married couples living together,
4.0% had a male householder with no wife present, 10.6% had a female
householder with no husband present, and 38.1% were non-families.
33.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.2% had
someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average
household size was 2.33, and the average family size was 2.97.
In the city, the population was spread out with 25.7% under the age of
18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 23.7% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and
19.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.6
years. For every 100 females, there were 92.3 males. For every 100
females age 18 and over, there were 87.2 males age 18 and over.
The median income for a household in the city was $48,115, and the
median income for a family was $61,146. Males had a median income of
$42,332 versus $29,325 for females. The per capita income for the city
was $21,820. About 7.3% of families and 10.8% of the population were
below the poverty line, including 14.1% of those under age 18 and
15.1% of those age 65 or over.
Primary and secondary education
Abilene is part of Unified School District 435.
Interstate 70 and U.S. Route 40 run concurrently east–west
immediately north of Abilene, intersecting highway K-15, which runs
north–south through the city.
Abilene Municipal Airport is located on the city's southwest side.
Publicly owned, it has one asphalt runway and is used predominantly
for general aviation.
Kansas Pacific (KP) line of the
Union Pacific Railroad runs
east–west through the city. It intersects a BNSF Railway
line which enters the city from the east and then turns north.
Abilene has one daily newspaper, The Abilene Reflector-Chronicle.
The following radio stations are licensed to Abilene:
City of License
City of License
AFR; Translator of KAKA, Salina, Kansas
Broadcasts from Salina, Kansas
Abilene is in the Wichita-Hutchinson,
Kansas television market.
Points of interest
Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad
Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad - A tourist railroad based out of
the old Rock Island train depot in Old Abilene Town; it hauls
passengers between Abilene and Enterprise.
Eisenhower Presidential Center
Eisenhower Presidential Center and the Dwight D. Eisenhower
Presidential Library and Museum. - Contains murals depicting
President Eisenhower's life, painted by artists, Louis George Bouché
Ross Moffett in 1954.
Great Plains Theatre - Originally First Presbyterian Church, built in
1881, Landmarked, and is now a live professional theatre, and movie
Greyhound Hall of Fame - Located near the Eisenhower Presidential
Library, the hall exhibits the history of the greyhound breed and of
Heritage Center of Dickinson County - Two museums including the
Historical Museum and the Museum of Independent Telephony. The Museum
of Independent Telephony tells the story of C.L. Brown, whose
Brown Telephone Company
Brown Telephone Company grew to become the
telecommunications company known today as Sprint Nextel Corporation
Lebold Mansion - National Register Property listed in 1973. Built in
1880 in the Italianate Tuscan villa style. This decorative arts museum
was once home to one of the finest collections of American Victorian
antiques and artifacts. However the museum closed to all tours in June
2010 and was sold to new owners as a private residence on 9/15/10.
Abilene Town - Constructed as a replica historic district,
beginning in the late 1950s, it includes several original buildings
that have been moved from their original locations.
A. B. Seelye House and Museum - A Georgian style mansion built in 1905
at a cost of $55,000. The 25 room mansion contains the original
furniture and Edison light fixtures. The Patent Medicine Museum
contains many artifacts of the A.B. Seelye Medical Company.  Listed
on the National Register of Historic Places, it is currently a museum
showcasing Seelye, an advocate of patent medicines.
Kansas Historical Marker - Historic Abilene, on south Sixth
Cowboy-era Abilene is the fictional setting for the Randolph
Scott-starring 1946 film Abilene Town, which in turn became the
inspiration behind the 1963 hit song "Abilene” recorded by George
Dwight D. Eisenhower
See also: List of people from Dickinson County, Kansas
Old West figures who lived in Abilene during its period as a cowtown
included Wild Bill Hickok, cattle baron Joseph McCoy, gambler Phil
Coe, marshal Tom “Bear River” Smith, gunfighters Pat Desmond,
Thomas J. Smith,
John Wesley Hardin
John Wesley Hardin and Ben Thompson, and Thompson's
sister-in-law Libby, a prostitute and dance hall girl.
President of the United States
President of the United States and five-star general Dwight D.
Eisenhower grew up in Abilene as did his brothers Edgar, Earl, and
Milton. President Eisenhower is buried in Abilene, along with
his wife Mamie and their eldest son Doud, on the grounds of his
Other notable individuals who were born in and/or have lived in
C. Olin Ball, food scientist, inventor
Harry Beaumont, Oscar-nominated film director
Joseph R. Burton, U.S. Senator from Kansas
Steve Doocy, journalist, author
Edward C. Little, U.S. Representative from Kansas
Deane Waldo Malott, university administrator
Frank D. Parent, California court judge
Everett W. Stewart, World War II flying ace
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball pitcher
Cody Whitehair, center in NFL
Marlin Fitzwater, former Press Secreatry of Presidents Ronald Reagan
and George Bush
National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places listings in Dickinson County,
Abilene High School
See also: List of books about Dickinson County, Kansas
Guide Map of the Best and Shortest Cattle Trail to the
Kansas Pacific Railway Company; 1875. (Read Online)(Map)
^ a b c d
Geographic Names Information System
Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) details for
United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey (USGS); October 13,
^ a b c d e f Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Abilene". Encyclopædia
Britannica. I: A-ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, Illinois: Encyclopædia
Britannica Inc. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived
from the original on 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9,
^ a b c d e "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau.
Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
^ a b "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey.
2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
^ William Allen White School of Journalism and Public Information
(1955). A pronunciation guide to
Kansas place names. Lawrence, KS:
University of Kansas. p. 7.
^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the
original on 2015-05-10. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
City Population and Housing Occupancy Status". U.S. Census
Bureau. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved March
^ Smith, Jessica (2013). "Morality and Money: A Look at how the
Respectable Community Battled the Sporting Community over Prostitution
Kansas Cowtowns, 1867-1885" (PDF).
Kansas State University.
^ a b Joseph G. Rosa (1979). They Called Him Wild Bill. University of
Oklahoma Press. pp. 172–206. ISBN 978-0-8061-1538-2.
Retrieved 18 October 2010.
^ "Chisholm Trail". Archived from the original on 2012-11-19. at
the Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and
^ Route of the Chisholm cattle trail in Kansas;
^ Gard, Wayne (1969) . The Chisholm Trail. Norman, OK:
University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 155–156.
^ Walker, Paul Robert (1997). Mulroy, Kevin, ed. Trail of the Wild
West. Kingsport, TN: National Geographic Society. pp. 124–125.
Kansas Pacific Railway Company. Guide Map of the Best and Shortest
Cattle Trail to the
Kansas Pacific Railway;
Kansas Pacific Railway
^ "Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP)". 2017-07-03. Archived from the
original on 2018-03-21.
^ "Lebold Mansion, Abilene".
Kansas Sampler Foundation. Retrieved 18
^ "The historic Seelye Mansion, Abilene, Kansas". Retrieved 18 October
Flint Hills of
Kansas Shopping, Dining, & Accommodations".
2016-03-08. Archived from the original on 2018-03-21.
^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census
Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
^ a b c "2003-2004 Official Transportation Map" (PDF). Kansas
Department of Transportation. 2003. Retrieved 2011-04-17.
^ a b "General Highway Map - Dickinson County, Kansas" (PDF). Kansas
Department of Transportation. 2010-07-01. Retrieved 2011-04-17.
City Distance Tool". Geobytes. Archived from the original on 12
April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-11.
^ a b "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Weather Service
Forecast Office - Topeka, KS. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
^ a b "Average weather for Abilene, KS". The Weather Channel.
^ USD 435
Kansas School District Boundary Map" (PDF). Archived from the
original (PDF) on 2011-07-21.
^ "K78 - Abilene Municipal Airport". AirNav.com. Retrieved
^ "UPRR Common Line Names" (PDF).
Union Pacific Railroad. Archived
(PDF) from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-17.
Kansas Operating Division" (PDF). BNSF Railway. 2009-01-01.
Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2011. Retrieved
^ "About this Newspaper: Abilene reflector-chronicle". Chronicling
America. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
^ "AMQ AM Radio Database Query". Federal Communications Commission.
Archived from the original on 25 August 2009. Retrieved
^ "Station Information Profile". Arbitron. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
^ "FMQ FM Radio Database Query". Federal Communications Commission.
Archived from the original on 25 August 2009. Retrieved
^ "Radio Stations in Abilene, Kansas". Radio-Locator. Retrieved
^ "K231AW-FM Radio Station Information". Radio-Locator. Retrieved
^ "Contact Us". KSAJ-FM. Archived from the original on 2012-01-05.
Kansas TV Market Map". EchoStar Knowledge Base. Archived from the
original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2011-05-13.
^ Abilene & Smoky Valley Excursion Train,
Kansas Department of
Commerce. Accessed 2009-04-14.
^ Historic Old Abilene Town, Abilene. Accessed 2009-04-14.
^ Seelye Mansion, Abilene. Accessed 2009-04-14.
Kansas Historical Marker - Historic Abilene
^ Gray, Jim. "Abilene History".
Kansas Cattle Towns. Archived from the
original on 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
^ Weiser, Kathy (2008). "Old West Legends - Texas Madam Squirrel Tooth
Alice". Legends of America. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
^ "Abilene Years". Eisenhower Presidential Center. Retrieved
^ "President Dwight D. Eisenhower". Internet Accuracy Project.
^ "Final Post". Eisenhower Presidential Center. Retrieved
^ Pehanich, Mike (2003-09-10). "Hail to the innovators". Food
Engineering. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
^ "Burton, Joseph Ralph". Biographical Directory of the United States
Congress. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
^ "Five Minutes with FOX & Friends". Fox News Channel. Retrieved
^ "Little, Edward Campbell". Biographical Directory of the United
States Congress. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
^ "President Emeritus Malott dies at 98". Cornell Chronicle.
1996-09-19. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved
^ F. D. Parent, Retired
City Judge, Dies at 81: Inglewood Man, Who
Served on Bench 28 Years, Coached Eisenhower in High School., Los
Angeles Times, 1960-06-20, p. B1.
^ Hatch, Gardner N.; Winter, Frank H. (1993), P-51 Mustang, Nashville:
Turner Publishing Company, p. 135.
Hy Vandenberg Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com.
City Directory". Sister Cities International.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Abilene, Kansas.
City of Abilene
Abilene - Directory of Public Officials
USD 435, local school district
Historic Images of Abilene,
Special Photo Collections at Wichita State
Kansas Photo Tour - Eisenhower Center
Seelye Mansion on YouTube, from Hatteberg's People on
KAKE TV news
City Map, KDOT
Municipalities and communities of Dickinson County, Kansas, United
County seat: Abilene
‡This populated place also has portions in an adjacent county or
American Old West
John C. Frémont
William John Murphy
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Timeline of the American Old West
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