Marshall County, one of the original 33 counties created by the first territorial legislature, is located in the northern tier of counties. The act defining the boundaries is as follows: "Beginning at the northwest corner of Nemaha county, thence west on the boundary line 30 miles, thence south 30 miles, thence east 30 miles, thence north 30 miles to the place of beginning." By the act of Feb. 16, 1860, the county seat was permanently located at Marysville.
The history of Marshall county goes back to the expedition of Stephen H. Long, who passed through this territory in 1819 and 1820 on his way from Pittsburgh to the Rocky mountains. Gen. Fremont led a similar expedition through what is now Marshall county in the early '40s, and in 1847 John Smith, the Mormon apostle, with his band of followers from Illinois opened a permanent trail crossing the Big Blue river 6 miles below the present city of Marysville, at a place afterward called "Mormon," for the reason that it became a camping place for these people, who during the next two years crossed the plains by the thousands. In 1849 this trail was used by California gold hunters and the place was called "California crossing." Later it was known as Independence crossing. The first permanent settlement was made at this place by A. G. Woodward in 1848.
The most prominent man in the settlement and early development of the county was Francis J. Marshall, after whom it was named. He came from Missouri in 1849 and established a ferry at California crossing, but for several seasons he returned to his old home every winter. In the spring of 1851 he moved his ferry 6 miles up the river and established a trading post where Marysville now stands. In 1854 James McCloskey, who had been out to the Rocky mountains and had there married an Indian woman, came with half a dozen other traders and their families. McCloskey settled near Marshall's ferry and the others settled on the Vermillion on invitation of a Pottawatomie half-breed by the name of Louis Tremble.
Early in the spring of 1855 settlements were made in the southeastern part of the county along the Vermillion. Some of the first to come were John D. Wells and his family from Kentucky, A. G. Barrett, the Brockmeyer brothers, Joseph Langdon, Thomas Warren, H. Ashdown and the Farley brothers. A number of new families located in and around Marysville. In 1857 Smith Martin took up a claim in Center township and built a cabin. William Reedy and M. T. Bennett settled on Coon creek; George Guittard and his sons located in the northwestern part of the county, about 3 miles north of the present town of Beattie; Blue Rapids City township was settled by James Walter, M. L. Duncan and others; Blue Rapids township was settled by four brothersAmbrose, East, Martin and James Shippwho located near the present town of Irving. In 1858 Samuel Smith settled near the east line of Noble township and the next year Isaac Walker had taken a claim on the west fork of the Vermillion.
The county was organized in 1855 and the county seat established at Marysville. The first election was held on March 30 of that year. It was an interesting event. The Kansas-Nebraska act, which provided for the organization of the territory, conferred the right to vote upon every "inhabitant" of the territory, otherwise qualified, who should be an actual settler. Nothing was said about any required period of residence. A most liberal construction was put upon this provision by the Missourians who came into the territory by the thousands and voted. The party which came to Marysville numbered several hundred men who came in wagons with camping equipment, stayed long enough to vote, and then left. The polling place was in the "loft" of F. J. Marshall's store. The voter would go up a stairway far enough for the clerks and judges to see his head, call out a name, deposit his ballot, go back down, absorb some bad whiskey, think up another name and repeat the process. It is said that Jonathan Lang of Vermillion (nicknamed "Shanghai"), after voting all day long between drinks, sprang upon a whiskey barrel and offered to bet $100 that he had outvoted anybody in the crowd. The challenge was accepted and the money put up. The investigating committee found that "Shanghai" had lost the bet, the winning party having deposited nearly 100 votes. It is said that this man had in his possession a St. Louis city directory and had voted half way through the "A" list. As a result Marysville, which consisted of only three or four log cabins (although it was the only town in northern Kansas of any importance at that time), rolled up 1,000 votes. Francis J. Marshall was elected a member of the territorial legislature.
The first probate judge of Marshall county was James Doniphan, who held the first term of court on Oct. 10, 1855. Alexander Clark, the first sheriff, received his commission in October of that year and was killed the next June while attempting to arrest two horse thieves. M. L. Duncan was appointed to serve out Clark's term. James McCloskey was the first county clerk. W. N. Glenn, John D. Wells and M. L. Duncan were the first commissioners.
In 1856 a colony of 85 South Carolina men organized at Atchison what they called the Palmetto Town company. The site of the old ferry at Independence crossing was bought from Francis J. Marshall for $500 and a town laid out, which was called Palmetto. Among those who came and settled were J. S. Magill, J. P. Miller, O. D. Prentis, Albert Morrall, W. B. Jenkins, J. R. Allston, John Vanderhorst, A. S. Vaught and Robert Y. Shibley. About the same time Marshall laid out a town around his trading post and ferry which he called Marysville, after his wife. The two communities were at variance for the next two years, and in some cases their quarrels were settled with pistols. At last Marshall induced the South Carolinians to move their town up the river to Marysville.
The first newspaper established in the county was the Palmetto Kansan, owned by the Palmetto Town company and edited by J. E. Clardy, in 1857.
The first marriage was in Aug., 1856, between Timothy Clark and Judy North on the Vermillion. They were married by Squire Ault at the home of James Smith. The first birth was that of Emma Shipp in 1857, and the first death was that of Ellis Myers, who froze to death in a terrible storm in the winter of 1856-57. The first postoffices were Marysville, 1854, Francis Marshall, postmaster; Barrett, 1857, E. Pugh, postmaster; Irving, 1860, M. D. Abbott, postmaster; Waterville, 1860; Lanesburg, 1863, E. Lewis, postmaster; Nottingham, 1867, D. C. Ault, postmaster.
The population in 1860 was 2,280, well distributed over the county. Churches had been built and school districts had begun to be organized. The first school was taught by Miss Jennie Robb in 1859 in Marysville. Other early teachers were Miss Kate Webber, R. S. Newell and P. O. Robbins. In the spring of 1861 the war broke out and the growth of the county was retarded for four years. The war department made Marysville the recruiting station for Washington and Marshall counties. Three full companies were recruited here. Company K, Ninth Kansas cavalry, which consisted of 80 men under Capt. Thomas M. Bowen, J. D. Wells as first lieutenant; Company G, Thirteenth Kansas infantry, recruited in Marysville in Aug., 1862, Vermillion township, furnished the most of the men, W. S. Blackborn captain and Thomas Hensel first lieutenant Company E, Thirteenth Kansas infantry, was recruited in Marysville in the fall of 1862, with Capt. Perry Hutchinson in command. Company H, Second Kansas cavalry, was made up entirely of Washington and Marshall county men, and Marshall county men joined other Kansas regiments and regiments raised in other states. Out of 450 voters Marshall county furnished in all 431 men for the Union army. At that time Marshall county was on the border and was at times the seat of panics arising from Indian depredations. Emigrants, ranchmen and settlers who had ventured farther west were often driven in. There was some fear that the older settlements would be attacked while depleted of able-bodied fighters. In 1862 a raid was made into Washington county. A detachment of troops being recruited at Marysville was sent out, but no Indians were seen. In 1864 a raid was made on the Little Blue river. On Aug. 10, 1864, the refugees began arriving at Marysville in wagons, each party telling of terrible outrages and tortures of those captured. The next day two companies, one under Capt. Frank Schmidt and one in charge of Lieut. McCloskey, had been raised and were on their way to the scene of trouble. A company from Vermillion, under Capt. James Kelley, and one from Irving, under Capt. T. B. Vaile, joined them. The Marshall county troops were commanded by Col. E. C. Manning. A brigade expedition of Nemaha, Riley and Washington county men also went out under the command of Gen. Perry of Seneca. Both expeditions returned without finding the Indians.
During this time considerable domestic trouble was caused by what was known as the "Oketo cutoff." In 1863 the overland stake[sic] route came by Guittard's station through Marysville. The proprietor of the stage line for some reason did not like Marysville and proposed to change the route to go through Oketo. Accordingly he built the "cutoff" at great expense, and in Oct., 1862, the stage began traveling that route, leaving Marysville several miles to the south. This was bad for the town, for it not only diverted travel but delayed the mail so that it was sometimes a month behind the regular time in reaching the town. Instead of daily mail they would get it twice a week or once in every two weeks with exasperating irregularity. This precipitated a sort of neighborhood struggle in which no one was killed, but many tricks played by both sides, some of which were destructive to property. At one time the United States troops were called out from Fort Leavenworth to protect the stage line. After losing some $50,000 by the cut-off the proprietor of the stage line changed the route back to Marysville in March, 1863.
As was the case with nearly every county, Marshall had a county seat contest. The territorial legislature placed it at Marysville in 1855, but in 1859 T. S. Vaile, who was a member of the free-state legislature, had the county seat changed to Sylvan, a place located on Section 25, township 3, range 8. By a vote of the people it was taken back to Marysville. In 1871 the matter again came before the people, with Waterville, Blue Rapids, Frankfort and Marysville contesting. The election resulted in favor of Marysville. The number of votes cast would indicate that there were between 13,000 and 14,000 people in the county at this time.
The first train came into Marshall county over the St. Joseph & Western R. R., which was begun in 1860 and reached the eastern limits of Marshall county in 1870. The next year it was extended to Marysville. Marshall county is now well provided with railroads. The Union Pacific crosses the county from north to south a little west of the center; the St. Joseph & Grand Island crosses the northern part of the county; the Missouri Pacific crosses the southern part, and a branch of the same system crosses the northeast corner. These lines afford ample transportation and shipping facilities to all parts of the county.
The surface of Marshall county is prairie, broken by hills and bluffs along the Blue river and its branches. The geological formations include gypsum, limestone and coal. Building stone is quarried out of the bluffs. The Big Blue river runs through the county from north to south, furnishing a water power unequaled elsewhere in the state. The Little Blue, one of its branches, enters near the central part of the west line of the county and empties into the Big Blue 2 miles above Blue Rapids. The Black Vermillion flows through the southeastern part of the county and empties into the Big Blue a few miles below Irving. Numerous smaller streams complete the water system of the county.
Marshall is divided into 23 civil townships; Balderson, Blue Rapids, Blue Rapids City, Center, Clear Fork, Cleveland, Cottage Hill, Elm Creek, Franklin, Guittard, Herkimer, Logan, Marysville, Murray, Noble, Oketo, Richland, Rock, St. Bridget, Vermillion, Walnut, Waterville and Wells.
The leading farm crops are corn and wheat. The value of the corn crop in 1910 was $2,416,480, and of the wheat $115,200. The minor crops are grains, grasses and potatoes. Considerable live stock is raised and shipped. The total value of farm products in 1910 was $5,383,389.52. The population in 1910 was 23,880.Pages 227-231 from volume II 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 July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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