Homesteaders' Union Association.This association was formed in Sherman county (q. v.), shortly after settlement began there in 1884. A county seat contest arose, several towns claiming to be the seat of justice, and the settlers did not know where to pay their taxes. The homesteaders also had trouble with the cattle men, who resented the breaking up of their ranges, and as a step toward the adoption of some protective measure, an informal meeting was held to consider what was best to do. The first actual meeting, for the purpose of organization, was held at Eustis on June 18, 1887, when a committee was appointed to frame a constitution. Prior to that time protective societies had been formed in thirteen different neighborhoods, and the committee was made to consist of one member from each society or lodge. The committee met on June 25, 1887. A. M. Curtis was chosen president; E. E. Blackman and W. J. Colby, secretaries, and a constitution was drafted.
Article 1 provided that the association be known as the "Homesteaders Union Association" of Sherman county, Kan., and that the association "shall be to protect the laboring classes in our county, and for the advancement of their interests financially, morally and socially." Article II provided for the usual officers and defined their duties. Article IV provided that "every male citizen over the age of twenty-one years shall be eligible to membership;" and every member was required to take the following obligation: "I do solemnly pledge my sacred word and honor that I will not divulge any of the signs, grips, passwords, or any of the secret workings of this order, and that I will not vote against any case at issue on personal grounds and that I will in all my acts do that which I believe to be to the best interests of Sherman county, and that I will do all in my power to promote justice, equity and morality."
The constitution was accepted at the first meeting of the grand lodge, composed of three delegates from each of the thirteen lodges, held at Eustis July 12, 1887. At the first election of officers J. N. McDaniels was chosen president; Alexander Martin, vice-president; E. E. Blackman, recording secretary; W. J. Cobby, treasurer; David Robinson, chaplain, and S. Poff, captain. The second meeting of the grand lodge was held on Aug. 30. It was devoted chiefly to organization and education, and it developed that the living issue of the association was not so much the protection of the settlers as the settlement of the county seat contest, and, as a matter of fact, it did wield considerable influence in the final adjustment of that question.
The secret work of the order was never written, and after the election which decided the location of the county seat a meeting was held to celebrate the result. Another meeting was called for Dec. 10, 1887, but few responded, and the Homesteaders' Union Association evidently died a quiet death, as no further record of it can be found.Pages 870-871 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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