Miami County, one of the eastern tier, and the second south from the Kansas river, was one of the original 33 counties created by the first territorial legislature, with the following boundaries: "Beginning at the southeast corner of Johnson county; thence south 24 miles; thence west 24 miles; thence north 24 miles, to the southwest corner of Johnson county; thence east 24 miles to the place of beginning."
It was named Lykins in honor of David Lykins, one of the early settlers of the county and a member of the territorial council. In 1861 the name of the county was changed to Miami for the Miami Indians and in March, 1868, the boundaries were changed so as to include an additional half-mile strip on the west, so that today the county has an area of 588 square miles. Miami county is bounded on the north by Franklin and Johnson counties; on the east by the State of Missouri; on the south by Linn county, and on the west by Franklin county. It is divided into the following townships: Marysville, Miami, Middle Creek, Mound, Osage, Osawatomie, Paola, Richland, Stanton, Sugar Creek, Ten Mile, Valley and Wea.
The general surface of the country is undulating prairie, with a few bluffs and some broken land along the streams. The valleys of the rivers and creeks average about a mile in width and comprise about one-fourth of the area. Belts of timber are found along the streams, the principal varieties of trees being walnut, cottonwood, oak, hickory, hackberry, ash, elm, soft maple, coffee bean and box-elder. Artificial groves have been planted on the uplands. The soil is exceedingly fertile. On the uplands it averages about 4 feet in depth while in the valleys it runs as deep as 30 feet. The principal water courses are the Marais des Cygnes and Pottawatomie rivers. The former enters the county on the west and flows in a general easterly direction for 8 miles, where it is joined by the Pottawatomie which crosses the western boundary about 4 miles north of the southwest corner and flows northeast. The main creeks in the north are Bull, Ten Mile, Wea and Middle, and the southern portion is watered by Mound, Middle and Sugar creeks.
The county ranks high in agriculture, especially in the production of corn, oats and flax. Live stock raising is an important and productive industry and large quantities of poultry and eggs are sold. There are 150,000 fruit trees of bearing age. Limestone and sandstone for building are plentiful. Marble of a good quality is found and quarried near Osawatomie and Fontana. Potters' clay exists in several localities; salt water is found in places; and coal is mined for local consumption. Natural gas is abundant in most parts of the county. Wells have been sunk at Osawatomie, Louisburg and Paola, and the gas is extensively used for heating and lighting. There are numerous oil wells near Paola, where a refinery has been established.
The territory now embraced within the boundaries of Miami county was originally owned by the Miamis, the Pottawatomies, the Shawnees and the Confederated tribes. It is believed that the first white man to visit the country through which the Osage river flows was Dutisne (q. v.), a French officer sent out by the governor of Louisiana to explore the country west of the Mississippi river in 1719. One of the first white men to come to Miami county as a permanent settler was David Lykins, and after whom the county was first named. He came as a missionary to the Confederated tribes in 1844. The Methodists established a mission in the county in 1837 a little east of the present town of Osawatomie, but it was abandoned in 1847 when the Pottawatomies moved to their reservation on the Kansas river. In 1840 the Baptists established a mission a little east of the present city of Paola. This was followed in 1847 by the Miami mission about 10 miles southeast of Paola. The Catholics established their mission among the Pottawatomies in 1850. The men carrying on this religious work were the first whites in the county of whom there is any definite record.
Some of the first men who came after the organization of Kansas Territory to make homes and develop the country were S. H. Houser, who located in what is now Stanton township; Daniel Goodrich, C. A. Foster, John Childers, C. H. Crane, S. L. Adair and others took up claims in Osawatomie township; T. J. Hedges, the Shaw brothers and D. L. Perry were the first settlers in Paola township; and A. Mobley settled in what is now Osage township in 1854. The following year Charles Alexander, S. P. Boone, Elias Hughes, W. D. Hoover, James and Joseph Lykins, J. H. Phillips, Allen Ward and several othere[sic] settled near the present city of Paola. Thomas Roberts, James Williams, S. M. Merritt and John Littlejohn were among the first to take claims in what is now Osawatomie township. John Brown, Jr., Jason, Owen and Salmon Brown all took claims on the banks of Middle Creek.
Paola was laid out in the spring of 1855 and later incorporated by the legislature. A store was opened there in 1856, and it became one of the flourishing villages of the early period. Stanton was located by H. B. Stanford in the summer of 1855. The following year a postoffice was established and a store was opened. Osawatomie, one of the most historic towns in Kansas, was surveyed in Feb., 1855, by A. D. Searl. The name was formed by combining the first part of the name Osage with the last portion of Pottawatomie, the names of two streams which unite near the town site to form the Osage river. Settlement had been made in this locality early in 1854 and the first postoffice was established in 1855 with Samuel Geer as postmaster.
Trouble between the pro-slavery and free-state settlers began at an early date in Miami county. Most of the actual settlers of Miami county were free-state men who were opposed to the laws passed by the first territorial legislature, which had been forced upon the residents of the territory by Missourians. On April 16, 1856, a meeting of the free-state men was called at Osawatomie, at which resolutions were adopted opposing the payment of taxes levied under laws of this legislature. At this meeting John Brown made a spirited speech against the bogus laws and legislature, as did others present. At the May term of the second judicial district court the grand jury found an indictment against John Brown, John Brown, Jr., O. C. Brown, O. V. Dayton, Alexander Gardiner, Richard Mendenhall, Charles A. Foster, Charles H. Crane, William Partridge and William Chestnut, in which it was charged that they "did unlawfully and wickedly conspire, combine, confederate and agree together to resist the enforcement of the laws passed by the legislature for the collection of taxes." This indictment, and other incidents about the same time, caused the smothered blaze to break into open flame. There had been no act of hostility by either side in Miami county up to that time, but on June 7 a company of about 170 pro-slavery men, under the leadership of John W. Whitfield, entered the county, and at Osawatomie, which was defenseless, they plundered several stores and houses and carried off several horses. This affair was known as the first battle of Osawatomie. The Missourians were gathering their forces just across the border preparatory to entering Kansas, the intention being to wipe out some of the strongest free-state towns, among them Osawatomie. The party chosen for this purpose was under command of Gen. John W. Reid. On the morning of Aug. 30, they were approaching Osawatomie from the northwest, the object being to surprise the town, when discovered by Frederick Brown, who was on his way to Lawrence. He returned to the town and gave the alarm about twenty minutes before sunrise. John Brown, Sr., Dr. W. W. Updegraff and Capt. Cline commanded the defense. (See Osawatomie, Battle of.)
One of the routes of the underground railway lay through Miami county, Osawatomie beings[sic] its most important station. It is well known that a number of negroes escaping from the slave states were assisted on their way to Canada by the free-state residents of Miami, who provided clothing, food and safe conduct to the stations beyond.
Miami county was the cradle of the Republican party in Kansas, as it was organized at the Osawatomie convention called May 18, 1859. This was the most important and notable political event in the territory that year.
At the outbreak of the Civil war the men of Miami county showed their patriotism by enlisting for the defense of the Union. Company D of the Tenth Kansas infantry; Companies C and D of the Twelfth Kansas; Company F of the Fourteenth Kansas cavalry and Company C of the Fifteenth cavalry were all recruited in Miami county. During the war Miami county suffered perhaps less than any of the other border counties from Confederate raids and border warfare. On Oct. 24, 1862, Price with his Confederate army entered the southeast part of the county and passed through into Linn county in retreat. The most important event of the war was the passage through the county of Quantrill, the famous guerrilla leader, and his forces, after the sack of Lawrence. News was brought of the approach of the enemy and preparations were made at Paola for defense. Quantrill heard of this and when 2 miles west of the town turned northward, camping for the night on the west side of Bull creek. A Union force following Quantrill spent the night at Paola, but no attack was made and Quantrill continued into Missouri.
When Lykins (Miami) county was created, provision was made for the election of county commissioners and Paola was named as the county seat. The body which corresponds to the board of county commissioners of today consisted of the probate judge and two commissioners. According to the records that have been preserved the first board consisted of A. H. McFadin, probate judge, James Beets and L. D. Williams, commissioners, who first met on April 2, 1857. In 1860 the county commissioner form of government was established, and the first meeting of the new board was held on April 2, 1860. It consisted of Israel Christie, John M. Ellis and R. W. Shipley. The other county officers in 1857 were E. W. Robinson, clerk; Richard Mendenhall, assessor; L. McArthur, clerk of the district court; B. P. Campbell, sheriff; W. A. Heiskell, register of deeds; Allen T. Ward, treasurer; J. N. Roscone, surveyor; Cyrus Holdridge, coroner, and B. F. Simmons, county attorney. On July 27, 1857, the first steps were taken toward erecting a court-house for the county. On that date the commissioners ordered an issue of $15,000 in ten per cent. bonds, the money to be used to erect a building at Paola for court-house purposes, but the bonds were never issued and no court-house was built. Union Hall was rented and used for such purposes for some time, when the county offices were moved into the second story of an office building. On May 8, 1876, the old school building of Paola was rented for a court-house and in the fall it was purchased by the county for the sum of $9,200.
The earliest school of which there is a record was that taught in Paola in the fall of 1856 by Mrs. May Williams. The first white child born in the county, of which a record can be obtained, was Sue Heiskell, who was born May 31, 1857. The first marriage solemnized was that of George Tomlinson and Mary Mead in the spring of 1856. In that year the Methodist church was organized at Osawatomie, though missions among the Indians had existed for years. By an act of the legislature of 1863 the first state insane asylum was established at Osawatomie. (See Insane Hospitals.) The first newspaper in the county was the Southern Kansas Herald, which was started at Osawatomie about the beginning of the year 1857.
Immediately after the war a great deal of interest was manifested in Kansas in railroad building. In 1865 Miami county voted bonds to the amount of $150,000 to aid in the construction of the Kansas & Neosho Valley road, and in 1869 $100,000 and $125,000 were voted respectively to the Paola & Fall River and the Paola & State Line roads, which were to be completed in 1871. The Kansas & Neosho Valley road was changed to the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf, and the Paola & State Line road to the Missouri, Kansas & Texas. Some of the bonds were forfeited because the roads were not completed on time, but $225,000 became a valid lien on the county.
At the present time the St. Louis & San Francisco, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, and the Missouri Pacific railway systems have lines radiating in six different directions from Paola; a branch of the Missouri Pacific runs west from Osawatomie to Ottawa, and a line of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe system crosses the extreme northwest corner. Altogether there are about 100 miles of main track in the county, affording good shipping facilities to all parts except a district in the southeast corner.
The population of Miami county in 1910 was 20,030. The value of all farm products, including live stock, etc., was $3,496,104. The five principal crops were as follows: Corn, $1,017,060; hay, $443,132; wheat, $355,535; oats, $249,264; flax, $53,662. The value of animals slaughtered or sold for slaughter was $1,073,343.Pages 273-277 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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