Pawnee County, in the western part of the state, is the fourth county north of the Oklahoma line and the fifth east from Colorado. It is bounded on the north by Rush and Barton counties; on the east by Barton and Stafford; on the south by Stafford and Edwards, and on the west by Hodgeman and Ness. The county was created in 1867 and named for the Pawnee Indians. As originally defined the boundaries were as follows: "Commencing where the east line of range 16 west intersects the 4th standard parallel; thence south to the 5th standard parallel; thence west to the east line of range 21 west; thence north to the 4th standard parallel; thence east to the place of beginning.''
The present boundaries were fixed in 1873. Gov. James M. Harvey issued the proclamation organizing the county on Nov. 4, 1872. It provided for a temporary county seat at Larned and appointed the following officers: County clerk, D. A. Bright; commissioners, A. H. Boyd, George B. Cox and W. A. Russell. At the general election, which occurred the next day, officers were chosen as follows: County clerk and clerk of the district court, George Nolan; register of deeds, county attorney and probate judge, D. A. Bright; sheriff, F. C. Hawkins; treasurer, W. A. Russell; superintendent of public instruction, Henry Booth; commissioners, A. H. Boyd, George B. Cox and W. S. Patton. Henry Booth was the first representative.
Fort Larned was established by the government in the fall of 1859 and the buildings completed in 1860, but no settlement was made until 1864. In that year Samuel Parker established a ranch about a mile and a half above the mouth of Pawnee Fork. The next year he built another ranch house farther up the stream, which he sold to Tortat & Fletchfield. In 1867 this ranch was in the hands of a Mr. Wagginer. whose wife was the first white woman in the county. The Indians ran off the stock and burned the buildings, and the ranch then came into the hands of A. H. Boyd, who was also harassed by the savages, in 1868 they ran off all his live stock. He took a man by the name of McGinnis with him to Fort Larned where they bought a team. On the way home the Indians killed McGinnis, took the horse which he rode, and Boyd barely escaped with his life. The last raid was in 1871, when 10 mules and 6 horses were run off from the Boyd ranch. Among other early settlers were John Haney, William White, Henry Booth, F. C. Hawkins, F. S. Burleson, T. McCarthy and George Nolan.
The first term of the district court was held in Oct., 1873, withJudge W. R. Brown on the bench. The same day that the grasshoppers visited Pawnee county in 1874, there was an Indian scare and the people from the outlying settlements traveled to Larned by night. A proposition to bond the county for $2,000 for the relief of the destitute was voted down at the November election. Several car loads of provisions and coal were received from the outside. In 1876 the first steam roller mill in the county was built at Larned.
In 1873 the county was divided into three townships. There are now 14, viz: Ash Valley, Brown's Grove, Conkling, Garfield, Grant, Keysville, Larned, Logan, Pawnee, Pleasant Ridge, Pleasant Valley, River, Valley Center and Walnut. The postoffices are Burdett, Frizell, Garfield, Larned, Point View, Ray, Rozel and Sanford. The main line of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. R. enters in the northeast and crosses southwest through Larned, where a branch diverges and runs west into Hodgeman county. A branch of the Missouri Pacific enters in the east and terminates at Larned.
The general surface is an undulating prairie, nearly level south of the Arkansas. The bottom lands comprise 25 per cent. of the total area, and along the Arkansas are 4 miles in width. The belts of native timber are very thin, but there are some artificial plantings. Magnesian and common limestone are in the north, and sandstone of a good quality is quarried near Larned. Potter's clay and ocher exist in small quantities. The Arkansas river enters in the south and flows northeast into Bourbon county. The Pawnee river enters in the west and flows east to Larned where it empties into the Arkansas. There are a number of creeks.
Pawnee is one of the principal wheat counties in the state, that crop in 1910 being worth to the farmers $3,505,632. Corn the same year brought $328,075; oats, $86,503; Kafir corn, $107,190; animals sold for slaughter, $237,023; eggs and poultry, over $200,000; dairy products nearly $200,000. The total value of farm products in 1910 was $4,169,735. The value of live stock on hand was $3,277,604. The land was not farmed until 1874, but was used exclusively for pasturing live stock. The assessed valuation of property in 1873 was $377,954; in 1876, $927,359; in 1882, $1,092,869, and in 1910, $22,419,895.
The population in 1873 was estimated at 150. In 1882 it was 4,323; in 1890 it was 5,204; in 1900, before the county had scarcely recovered from the hard times, the population was 5,084, and in 1910 it was 8,859. The average wealth per capita according to these figures is over $2,500.Pages 452-453 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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