Knox Centre is a "paper town". A paper town is a proposed town or village that platted but never came into existence. Knox Centre was platted June 13, 1887 by landowner Richard Yale. It was platted with the hope that should the county seat be relocated, Knox Centre would be the approved place. In the 1887 county vote to relocate the county seat, Knox Centre received some votes.
It was located in the SW4 of the SE4 of Section 11 and in the NW4 of the NE4 of Section 14 of Township 30, Range 5 West. It consisted of 15 platted blocks, with the main street running east and west down the section line between sections 11 and 14. This would have been just on the north side where the Plum Valley School was located.
No lots were ever sold. When the famous vote to relocate the county seat passed, Wieschendorff and Lovell donated some of the land that would soon become "Center". The platting of Knox Centre was later vacated, making this village a paper town.
The county vote passed in 1900 that the new county seat would be in Valley Township. The first year brought many changes and business ventures for the people of Plum Valley. The name of town could easily have been called "Compromise" as the choice of the location was arrived by the compromising efforts of the patrons of Knox County. The chose the center of the county, and the soon to built town would be called "Center".
James Lovell had the town platted in November 1901. He gave to Knox County the entire block eleven for the purpose of building a courthouse. Lovell owned the entire west half of Center and another farmer named William Wieschendorff owned the east half. Lovell later donated the lots to the Congregational Church for the church and parsonage and Wieschendorff donated the lots for the schoolhouse.
Immediately the lots of Center were offered for sale. An enterprising group of men headed by Charles Gnewuch purchased all the even numbered lots in the entire town and then offered them for sale by advertising in the newly established newspaper "The Outlook". Lovell and Wieschendorff each retained the odd numbered lots and offered them for sale.
By the middle of January 1902 the lumber for a number of buildings arrived in town. February brought telephone connections with the outside world giving the citizens the opportunity of saying, "Hello Central."
S.E. Jewell, a contractor from Creighton had confidence in the future of Center. He bought some lots with the intention of building a home and carpenter shop. He is given the credit of building the first school and the first residence in Center. The building of the courthouse was put into motion amidst some Knox County residents still trying to put a stop to the move.
During the year 1902 Center had many businesses open and several others in the building stage. With many businesses now open, many proprietors turning to the building of homes for their families. July saw the newest town in Knox County preparing for their first celebration on July 4th. Pony races were the latest fad in Center. It seems main street was their track. By September the school and church were both completed. December saw fifty-one students in the new school with the minimum of furniture and fixtures.
The next few years proved to be just as progressive with a number of new businesses starting up. If the railroad would have gone through Center, think of what it might have been.
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