Excelsior Colony.Early in May, 1869, a colony of Scotch mechanics from New York city located in Jewell county. Lewis A. Walker was president and A. Macdonald secretary of the organization, the members of which selected claims on White Rock creek, between Burr Oak and Johns creek. This section at that time was on the frontier, and for protection against the hostile Indians the settlers erected a blockhouse about 2 miles east of the present Holmwood. On May 25 some of the settlers and colonists in that immediate neighborhood petitioned Gov. James M. Harvey for protection against the Indians, who they reported had killed and scalped about 20 settlers. Arms, ammunition and authority to raise militia companies were asked. Relief not coming as promptly as the situation demanded, the colonists decided to abandon their location. Some of them, while moving their effects to a place of safety, were attacked by Indians and robbed of all their possessions, but succeeded in escaping alive.
But three women were with the colony at this time. During the summer the company probably underwent a reorganization, being known later as the Excelsior Coöperative Colony of Kansas. John F. McClimont was president; Henry Evans, vice-president, and Hugh McGregor, secretary. At the time the colony was composed of about 200 families of Scotch mechanics and farmers who came to New York and there effected an organization. The cheap lands in the west proved an attractive inducement for their settlement in Kansas, and at a meeting held in New York, at their hall, on Oct. 2, 1869, John F. McClimont, Hugh McGregor and Alex Whyte (or White), Jr., were appointed a locating committee and immediately entered upon their duties. They must have spent the most of their time in Kansas, for inside of forty days they addressed a communication to Gov. Harvey, dated Topeka, Kan., Nov. 12, 1869, in which they said "We, the undersigned, have been appointed a committee for the purpose of selecting a location for the colony. We have spent four weeks in the inspection of various localities and have finally resolved upon settling upon a tract embraced in townships 1 and 2, of the ranges 1, 2, 3 and 4, west meridian, being situated in Republic county.
"Our colony numbers 200 families, composed of farmers and mechanics of various trades. It is our intention to found a town in the center of our location for the purpose of carrying on various manufactories.
"We would respectfully submit the following propositions, viz.: 1A free grant of one section of state land for the purpose of founding a town as near as possible in the center of the location. 2A loan of breech-loading arms, with ammunition, for the protection of the colony against the inroads of hostile Indians. 3That you furnish the officers of the colony with a copy of the statutes of the State of Kansas, with such other information as you would consider desirable for the furthering of the interests of the colony.
"If you would kindly answer the propositions at your earliest convenience, you would be conferring a great favor upon,
"JOHN F. McCLIMONT,
"ALEX. WFIYTE, JR.,
"Please address John McKenzie, acting secretary, Coöperative Hall, 214 Bowery, N. Y."
The colony left New York soon after and arrived in Republic county early in Dec., 1870. All were poor and the first money they earned was turned into a common treasury, the proceeds being used for the purchase of a yoke of oxen to haul stone to build a colony house. After this was built the members occupied it until the spring of 1871, when they separated to work at their trades to obtain money to develop their claims. It is said that seventeen of these colonists had never driven a horse. They applied themselves to the task of developing their claims and of those who remained many are now among the most well-to-do citizens of the state.Page 603-604 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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