For millennia, the land that is currently Kansas was inhabited by Native
Americans. In 1803, the United States secured most of modern Kansas as part of
the Louisiana Purchase. In 1854, Congress organized the Kansas Territory and in
1861, Kansas became the 34th state.
In 1863, by Act of Congress and similarly by an act of the State of Kansas,
the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway was granted 3,000,000 acres of Kansas
land on the condition that it would build a continuous line to the western
border of Kansas by March 1, 1873. On Oct. 30, 1868, construction began at
Topeka. By Sept. 14, 1870, the first Santa Fe train reached Emporia, fifteen
miles past the present site of Reading. James Fagan, agent for the railroad
lands, and T. J. Peter and M. S. Sargent, who represented the railroad
interest, organized a town company, with James Fagan as president. The land was
owned by McMann & Co., of Reading, Pennsylvania. The town was platted on
sixty acres of Section 3, Township 18, Range 13, and called it Reading, after Reading,
Pennsylvania. In summer 1870, the town site was surveyed.
The first post office in Reading was established in August 1870. Reading was
incorporated as a city in September 1890.
On May 21, 2011 around 9:15PM, an EF3 tornado
hit Reading. It was three blocks wide and stayed on the ground for about four
miles. The tornado destroyed at least 56 of 110 homes and 14 of 21 businesses.
The post office and fire station suffered major damage. One person died and two
were hospitalized. Early damage estimates topped $2.2 million.
In just over a year, the community rebuilt itself with some help of the
Federal Emergency Management Agency. The grain elevator destroyed in the tornado
has been rebuilt, houses have been repaired, destroyed trees removed, and once
again Reading has become a quiet place to live.