Atchison is a city situated along the Missouri River in the eastern part of Atchison County, located in northeast Kansas, in the Central United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 11,021. It is the county seat and most populous city of Atchison County. The city is named in honor of David Rice Atchison, United States senator from Missouri, and was the original eastern terminus of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad.
Atchison was the birthplace of aviatrix Amelia Earhart and the Amelia Earhart Festival is held annually in July. Atchison is also home of Benedictine College, a Catholic liberal-arts college. Atchison is often called one of the most haunted places in America, due to the city's ghost-story heritage.
Atchison was founded in 1854 and named in honor of Senator David Rice Atchison, who, when Kansas was opened for settlement, interested some of his friends in the scheme of forming a city in the new territory. Senator Atchison was interested in ensuring that the population of the new Kansas Territory would be majority pro-slavery, as he had been a prominent promoter of both slavery and the idea of popular sovereignty over the issue in the new lands. However, it seems that all were not agreed upon the location he had selected, and on July 20, 1854, Dr. John H. Stringfellow, Ira Norris, Leonidas Oldham, James B. Martin and Neal Owens left Platte City, Missouri, to decide definitely upon a site. They found a site that was the natural outlet of a remarkably rich agricultural region just open to settlement. George M. Million and Samuel Dickson had staked claims near the river; Dr. Stringfellow staked a tract north of Million's. Million sold his claim for $1,000—an exorbitant price. Eighteen persons were present when the town company was formally organized by electing Peter T. Abell, president; James Burns, treasurer; and Dr. Stringfellow, secretary. The site was divided into 100 shares by the company, of which each member retained five shares, the remainder being reserved for common benefit of all. By September 20, 1854, Henry Kuhn had surveyed the 480 acres (1.9 km²) and made a plat, and the next day was fixed for the sale of lots, an event of great importance as it had become understood that Senator Atchison would make a speech upon the political question of the day, hence the sale would be of political as well as business significance. At his meeting on the 21st, two public institutions of vital interest to a new community were planned for—a hotel and a newspaper. Each share of stock in the town company was assessed $25, the proceeds to be used to build the National Hotel, which was completed in the spring of 1855, and $400 was donated to Dr. Stringfellow and Robert S. Kelley to erect a printing office.