by Florine Thompson Norbury
Our early people came mostly from Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, this being their second migration from the east or foreign lands – and settled along the creeks emptying into what is now the Little Osage or Marais des Cygnes rivers. At first, little thought could have been given to a town site. Barnesville in Bourbon County was less than a half-day’s ride away – mail from the stage and supplies hauled by wagon from Westport could be picked up there most any time. Even the knowledge of coal being easily stripped near present-day Prescott would not have made too much town talk, but the news that Kansas City, Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad was putting their right of way through here brought about such thought.
Edward H. Billings owned land in Section 7; Township 23 South, Range 25 East and Wm. H. Billings in Section 8, and on April 8, 1870, a deed was made and filed and the west part of town was platted. On October 15, 1870, land was deeded from Wm. H. Billings and the east part was included. They called the town Coal Centre. The first pot office was established June 13, 1870, and William Bowers was appointed postmaster. When the railroad did come through that year, due to a conflict with other Kansas post office names, the town name was changed to Prescott on December 27, 1870, in honor of C.H. Prescott, who was treasurer of the railroad company.
(excerpt from “From Pioneering to the Present, Linn County: Its People, Events, and Ways of Life Volume II”)