By Beccy Tanner
The Wichita Eagle
(MCT) If you are reading this, you are invited to a birthday party.
Wichita's 144th birthday is really on Monday, but a birthday party is planned for 1 p.m. Sunday at the Wichita/Sedgwick County Historical Museum, 204 S. Main.
Attendance to the party is free for those who bring a birthday card for this grand old city. Those attending will be invited to participate in tours of the museum, crafts, activities and refreshments.
The birth of Wichita began this way: On July 21, 1870, a petition with 124 signatures was presented to probate Judge Reuben Riggs, requesting that Wichita be incorporated.
At the time, fewer than a thousand people lived in Sedgwick County, with the population growing daily. There was a sprinkling of homes -- mostly cabins and lean-tos. Living conditions were, at best, primitive.
Of the 124 signatures, only one belonged to a woman -- Catherine McCarty, Billy the Kid's mother. She owned and operated the City Laundry on North Main.
The 1870 order of incorporation read simply: "Be it remembered, that at a special term of the probate court, held in the town of Wichita on the 21st day of July, A.D. 1870, a petition was presented to the court by the inhabitants of the town of Wichita describing the said town by metes and bounds and praying that they may be incorporated and a police established."
Other signatures included those of William Greiffenstein, the man most Wichita historians consider the "father of Wichita" and who is credited with developing Douglas Avenue; William Finn, an early surveyor of Sedgwick County; and John Price Hilton, a land speculator who was elected Sedgwick County's first superintendent of schools and whose great-granddaughter would later become U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
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