Parsons is a city in Labette County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 10,500. It is the most populous city of Labette County, and after Pittsburg, is the second-most populous city in the southeastern region of Kansas.
Parsons was named after Levi Parsons, president of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) Railroad. The town was founded in 1870 and incorporated the following year by the railroad. The location for the town was chosen because it was where the two branches of the railroad being built from Junction City, Kansas and Sedalia, Missouri would meet, and was on a ridge between Labette Creek and Little Labette Creek, which were soon dammed to provide a water source. The railroad commenced building a massive rail yard, foundry, and locomotive shop at Parsons, which for many years was the third largest railroad facility west of the Mississippi River with only Kansas City and Los Angeles being larger. Settlers from nearby towns uprooted and moved to Parsons, and new settlers arrived on every incoming train. Parsons soon became a major hub for several railroads including the Missouri Kansas & Texas Railroad, Parsons & Pacific Railroad, Kansas City & Pacific Railroad, and the Memphis, Kansas & Colorado Railroad. In the early part of the twentieth century, Parsons operated its own street car system, and also had an interurban electric railroad connecting it to the nearby cities of Cherryvale, Independence, Coffeyville, and Nowata.