SETTLEMENT of the northeastern part of Anderson County began as early the spring of 1854 when the first white settlers located on the Pottawatomie where the town of Greeley is now situated. However, it was not until the spring of 1856 that the townsite of Greeley was selected.
The location was surveyed April 7, 1857, and the plat filed the following November 21st by Jacob Benjamin, August Bondi and Frederick Weimer, associates of the town company of Greeley. The townsite was pre-empted on October 14th by George Wilson, probate judge.
In the spring of 1857 the first post office in the county was established at Greeley, and named Walker, and a mail route was established from Osawatomie, via Walker and Hyatt, to Neosho City. Jacob Benjamin was appointed postmaster of the Walker office. Businesses and buildings were commenced energetically in the spring of 1857.
B. F. Smith opened the first store in Greeley in that year. For want of better building materials the first houses were constructed of logs, but early the next year sawmills were set up and good lumber could be obtained for more substantial buildings. The immigration was so heavy in 1857-8-9 that in the last year the population of Walker Township was as large as it was for some twenty years thereafter.
Greeley was a sleepy little village until late in 1879 when the coming of the St. Louis, Kansas and Arizona railroad, routed through the townsite, added the necessary stimulus, and the town began to prosper. By the fall of 1881 Greeley had 400 citizens and supported two newspapers. It was organized at that time into a city of the third class.
Greeley's most important industry was the plant of the Prairie Gas & Oil Company, located just west of the city limits of Greeley about 1900. At first it was used as a power plant to pump oil through the pipe lines to Kansas City. On February 1, 1915, the Prairie Pipe Line Company took possession and added to the capacity of this plant until it equalled two similar plants in Kansas, these three being of major importance in their class in the world.
On June 2, 1920, an explosion occurred inthe plant which blew the roof of the building 100 feet into the air. Fire followed the explosion. The 50,000-barrel oil tanks were saved by a volunteer fire crew from Greeley. The loss was estimated at over $1,000,000. This amount was immediately placed back into the plant by rebuilding.
Then in 1933-4 the plant was dismantled, the great boilers were sold for a mere fraction of their cost. The big buildings were torn down, and all that remains to remind Greeley of the greatness that was theirs is a small pump house and tool house. The need for the immense plant had vanished.