Republic County, located in the northern tier of counties with the 6th principal meridian forming the eastern boundary, has 20 civil townships, viz: Albion, Beaver, Belleville, Big Bend, Courtland, Elk Creek, Fairview, Farmington, Freedom, Grant, Jefferson, Liberty, Lincoln, Norway, Richland, Rose Creek, Scandia, Union, Washington and White Rock. The towns are Agenda, Belleville, Courtland, Cuba Haworth, Kackley, Munden, Narka, Norway, Republic, Rydal, Scandia, Sherdahl, Talmo, Warwick, Wayne and White Rock.
There are five railroads with an aggregate of 140 milesthe Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, the Missouri Pacific, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe and the Union Pacific.
The surface is rolling prairie with 10 per cent. bottom and 90 per cent. upland. The Republican river enters the county in the northwestern corner and traverses its entire width in a southerly direction; Mill and Rose creeks flow east into the Little Blue; White Rock creek flows northeast, and Beaver creek southeast into the Republican; West and Elk creeks flow south. The county is watered by numerous natural springs. The mineral products are coal, limestone and salt, and the principal farm products are corn, wheat and oats.
The early history of Republic county is interesting through the fact that it contained the site of the famous Pawnee Republic (q. v.), and that Capt. Pike raised the first American flag within its borders. (See Pike's Expedition.) In 1857 the government opened a military road through this county, anticipating the building of which the wagon trains bound for California began to take this route before the bridges were built. One train with 8 wagons, 25 people and 400 head of stock came to grief in that year near Republic City. Their trail was dogged by the Indians from the settlements, and when 90 miles from the western outpost they were attacked early in the morning, the train destroyed, 4 men killed and the remnant, including several wounded persons and some women and children, made their way to the settlements, reaching help half dead and crazed from suffering.
Some time before the first settlement in the county a company of twenty Mormons bound for Salt Lake City was attacked near the site of the present town of Scandia and all but one were murdered. The dead were buried on a high bluff by the soldiers and triangular flagstones put up to mark the spot.
The legislature of 1860 defined the boundaries of the county and gave it its name, taken from the Republican river, which was named from Pawnee Republic. The first settlement was made on Feb. 28, 1861, by Daniel and Conrad Myers, in Lincoln township. It is said that Daniel Myers often left his claim during times of Indian alarms but that Conrad stayed on his claim, making the first settlement permanent. The first dwelling house was that of Daniel Myers, built in Sept., 1861.
The next settlement was made by James F. Van Natta and David and John Cory early in 1862. No more permanent settlements were made until 1866, when James G. Tuthill settled near the present town of Seapo. In the same year J. C. Riley and family settled near Belleville; D. N. Davis near Republic City, and Thomas Lovewell crossed the Republican and settled on White Rock creek. The settlers who had come into the county during the intervening years had been driven out by Indians. The first organized resistance was made in 1864, when the settlers of Clay, Cloud and Republic counties formed a company under the captaincy of Isaac M. Schooly, who was commissioned by the government. The first militia, composed entirely of Republic county men, was the "Independent Company of Salt Creek Militia," organized in 1868 with W. P. Peake as first lieutenant. He was subsequently made captain and W. H. H. Riley was commissioned first lieutenant. There were 50 men in the company. Arms and ammunition were furnished by the state, but the men furnished their own horses, saddles and bridles. In the summer of 1868 another company of 6 men was recruited in the northern part of the county under Capt. R. T. Stanfield, with Peter Johnson as first lieutenant. A log fort was built by this company in Belleville township, in which were stationed the following men from July to Oct. 18: Noah Thompson, corporal in command, George Mathews, William Little, Oliver Gross, Samuel Darling and Ephraim H. Wilcox. The company made several expeditions into the Indian country. In August Gordon Winbigler, who was harvesting with several other men, was killed by the Indians not far from the fort.
The next year there was a great influx of settlers, principally Scandanavians, a colony of 300 settling on White Rock creek. The Arapahoes and Cheyennes came that year as usual into the Republican valley. The settlers fortified their dugouts and kept guards on the bluffs until they supposed the Indians gone. As soon as the guards were removed the Indians came over the bluff, drove away 7 horses and killed a young son of F. E. Granstadt who was watching them. That year Capt. Stanfield, A. Davis, W. P. Phillips and Clarke Tenike were besieged in the blockhouse by over 100 Indians. A message was sent out tied to a cow's tail. The cow reached Scandia the next day, but the Scandanavians were afraid to go to the rescue. In May a party of 7 hunters with J. McChesney as guide was attacked on White Rock creek and all but McChesney were killed. This was the last of the fatalities from Indian attacks. In the next two years immigration was heavy.
Republic county was organized in 1868 by proclamation of Gov. Harvey, who fixed the county seat at Pleasant Hill. The election of 1869 located it temporarily at Belleville, and the next year it was permanently located at that place. The first election was held in March, 1868, the whole county being one precinct, and only 13 votes were cast. J. C. Riley was chosen trustee; J. E. Van Natta, justice; and J. H. Frint constable.
The first postoffice was at Marsh Creek, Grant township, with James G. Tuthill as postmaster. The first lawsuit was tried before Justice Van Natta in 1869, when Henry Mead sued Conrad Myers for breach of contract, each acting as his own lawyer, as there was no attorney nearer than Manhattan. The law library of the county at that time consisted of the "Territorial Laws" of 1859, the session laws of 1865, the Testament and Psalms and the Blue Laws of Connecticut.
The first marriage was between Thomas C. Riley and Nancy Campbell on June 7, 1867. The first birth was that of Lincoln Myers on Sept. 15, 1861. The first death was that of John Myers in April, 1861. The first school was opened in 1867, with 13 pupils and Mrs. Margaret Tate as teacher. The building was a log house 18 by 20 feet, built by Peter Moe.
In 1873 bonds were voted for the extension of the Central Branch railroad into the county. They were never issued as the railroad company failed to keep its part of the agreement. Another attempt was made in 1878 to get a road, this time with the Kansas Pacific. The proposal to issue bonds for $4,000 per mile was lost at the election. On Dec. 24 of that year the Missouri Pacific ran its first train to Scandia over a line extended from Concordia. In 1880 a branch of the Burlington was extended through the eastern portion of the county. Four years later the Union Pacific was extended from Junction City to Belleville, and a branch of the Burlington & Missouri River was extended through the county 18 miles. In 1887 the Rock Island built 54 miles of track, and the next year the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe built 13 miles.
The first agricultural society in Republic county, which was also the first west of the 6th principal meridian, was organized on Feb. 20, 1871, with the following officers: Albert Odell, president; R. P. West, vice president; I. O. Savage, secretary; John M. Ryan, treasurer. The county horticultural society was organized in 1879, the first officers of which were, O. A. A. Gardner, president; J. A. Mosher, vice president: W. P. Peake, secretary; Ezra Powell, treasurer; N. T. Van Natta, Adam Dixon and Dr. Henry Patrick, trustees.
About thirty newspapers have been established in the county from time to time, nine of which still exist. The oldest is the Belleville Telescope, established in Sept., 1870, by James C. Humphrey. The Scandia Journal was established on Feb. 7, 1872, in Belleville, under the name of the Belleville Republic, by A. B. Wilder. The Republic City News was started in 1881, by William Ketchum; the Courtland Register in 1889, by F. M. Coffey; and the Narka News in 1893, by James A. Harris The other papers in the county are, the Republic County Democrat at Belleville, God's Missionary Record (quarterly) at Belleville, the Cuban Daylight, Cuba, and the Comet at Courtland.Page 574-577 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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