Dempster Scott was born in Lapeer county, Michigan, March 24, 1853. He was the only child of Oren and Susan (Hungerford) Scott. His father was born and grew to manhood in Vermont and his mother was born and raised in New York. He[sic] father was one of those sturdy frontiersmen who pioneered in New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Kansas. He worked many years of his life at the carpenter trade, helping to build the first capitol at Madison, Wis.
In the spring of 1860 he sold his property in Lapeer county, Michigan, and with his wife, Susan, and son, Dempster, started with a team for Kansas. In Appanoose county, Iowa, he met people returning from Kansas, who said that the crops were killed by drought; that the streams and wells were going dry; that stock was dying from want of water, and that everyone was leaving the Territory of Kansas. He decided to remain in Appanoose county that summer, and in the fall moved to Maquoketa, Iowa. In the spring of 1861 he moved from there to Green county, Wisconsin, where the family lived till the spring of 1871, when he again loaded an emigrant wagon and started for Kansas with his wife and son. In the latter part of May of that year he arrived at Clyde, Kan., where they camped while he looked around for a homestead. On June 1 he located on the watershed, where the water runs north to Five Creeks and south to Chapman creek, being three miles east of where Miltonvale is now located. Junction City, forty-five miles away, was the nearest railroad point. The terminal of the Central Branch was then at Waterville, which was forty-eight miles distant. Oak Hill, ten miles away, was the nearest postoffice. During that summer there were many antelopes in the country and one could see them nearly every day, and the deer also were numerous. That fall a band of Indians camped at the head of Five Creeks and killed many deer. Oren Scott's home was only one-half mile from the Texas cattle trail, over which thousands and thousands of Texas cattle were driven north from Abilene, where Wild Bill was city marshal. In 1872 a star route was established from Concordia to Oak Hill. The Zahnesville postoffice was established at the home of Oren Scott and he was postmaster for six years. Oren and Susan Scott died in Miltonvale.
In the spring of 1874 Dempster Scott, having attained his majority, began work for himself. He bought two yoke of cattle and commenced breaking prairie. That was the famous grasshopper year. During the latter part of July the hoppers came down in showers and ate whole fields of corn in a single night. In a few weeks they had eaten all the vegetation except the prairie grass. In September of that year Dempster Scott went to Illinois and worked in Mason county until the next February, when he returned home. In that month he took a homestead of 160 acres, one-half mile north of his father's place. He built a dugout and a stone stable, and broke 120 acres of prairie. In 1876 and 1877 he broke prairie with his oxen for T. C. Henry, the Union Pacific land agent at Abilene, who was then the wheat king of Kansas.
On December 10, 1878, Dempster Scott was united in marriage to Miss Clara Dunn, the daughter of James B. and Isabella Dunn, both of whom were born and raised in Pennsylvania. James B. Dunn enlisted in Company M, Second regiment, Pennsylvania volunteer heavy artillery, on February 8, 1864, and served two years. He was in a number of hard-fought battles of the war. Clara Dunn was born in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, on December 1, 1861, and after the war removed with her parents to Monroe county, Iowa, afterwards coming to Sullivan county, Missouri. In the spring of 1877 the family came to Cloud county, taking a homestead two miles east of Miltonvale, and on that place Mr. and Mrs. Scott were united in marriage. James B. Dunn died in Atwood in 1902 and his wife died in the same city in 1900.
Dempster Scott and his wife lived on their homestead until the spring of 1880. Their eldest son, Charley E. Scott, was born in the old dugout on October 18, 1879. In the spring of 1880 they made proof on their claim and moved to Burr Oak, where Mr. Scott and Dr. Monnahan engaged in the drug business for three months. He then returned with his family to Zahnesville, which is now located close to the southwest corner of the homestead which they had recently left. They started a small drug store. In the spring of 1881 Dud Hathway, of Clay Center, and W. T. Mathews, of Zahnesville, who now lives at Miltonvale, erected a new store building, 24 x 60, two stories, one mile east of Miltonvale, anticipating the arrival of the Kansas Central railroad (narrow gauge), for which Star township, in Cloud county, had voted $10,000 in bonds. In 1882 Dempster Scott secured six yoke of cattle, hitched them to his store, which was 14 x 28, ten feet being partitioned off of the rear for a residence, and hauled it to the new location. Shortly afterwards the Zahnesville postoffice was moved to that place. In 1881 the railroad built the grade and in April, 1882, laid the track to Miltonvale, which derived its name from Milton Tootle, late of St. Joseph, Mo., he owning the land on which the town was built. Mr. Scott bought one of the first lots sold and built one of the first buildings, moving his store to the new town within two days after the first train ran into Miltonvale. On the night of July 9, 1883, a disastrous fire visited Miltonvale and Scott's drug store and residence, in the rear, were destroyed, but owing to the energy of an insurance agent he had $1,000 insurance, and within two weeks bought out his former competitor, Dr. S. V. Fairchild, and for several months had the only drug store in the thriving town of Miltonvale. On July 29, 1881, a daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Scott and was christened Jessie Belle Scott, and on August 7, 1884, Oren Dempster Scott, their third child, was born.
On December 24, 1884, Mr. Scott sold the drug store and began reading law in the office of A. J. Blackwood at Miltonvale. He was admitted to practice in the district court of Cloud county at Concordia on August 18, 1886. In September he left Miltonvale with a team and buggy and drove to Concordia, thence to Mankato, Smith Center, Phillipsburg, Norton, Oberlin, Atwood and Bird City, and decided to locate at Atwood. In November he and his wife and three children left Miltonvale and went by rail and stage to Stratton, Neb., from which point they drove thirty miles southeast to Atwood, arriving on November 25, 1886, that being Thanksgiving day. There were about 200 inhabitants at that time.
Within sixty days G. W. Holdrege and other officers of the Burlington railroad came to Atwood and explained that they were going to build a railroad up the Beaver valley, and that Atwood, nestling in the beautiful valley, which is unsurpassed by any in the State, was unfortunate for the reason that it was not a practical place for the company to build a roundhouse and machine shops. This they were going to do at Blakeman, five miles west of Atwood. The town fight was on and raged all through the year 1887, the railroad company moving houses and buildings to Blakeman, free of charge, and giving the owners of the buildings lots in Blakeman, Dempster Scott cast his lot with Atwood, and in company with S. T. Lloyd, Albert Hemming, S. H. Tindell, John M. Burton, M. A. Wilson, F. R. Morgan, J. C. Arbuckle, Frank E. Robinson and others put up the strongest town fight that the Burlington people ever experienced, and which lasted for three years. For years the railroad company had moved towns here and there in Nbraska,[sic] always locating them on their own town sites, and county seats were like pawns on a chessboard in their hands. To the west of Atwood they moved Celia to McDonald, three miles. In Cheyenne county they moved Wano to St. Francis, two and one-half miles, and moved the county seat from Bird City to St. Francis. In Rawlins county they spent thousands of dollars circulating a petition calling for a county seat election, accompanying the petition through the county with a four-horse load of flour, and giving every signer a sack of flour. Atwood partisans followed on their trail with a remonstrance and strike-off, which remonstrated against the calling of an election, and asked that the signer's name be stricken from any petition that he may have signed in favor of having the election called. Fully sixty per cent. of all who signed the first petition signed the remonstrance and strike-off, and finally at the trial in the supreme court Atwood was victorious and no election was called. The victory was celebrated at Atwood by a barbecue and a day of speech-making and general rejoicing. During the fight employees of the railroad openly boasted that they owned the courts in Nebraska and would in Kansas before the fight was over. The company refused to put a depot at Atwood until so ordered by the State Board of Railroad Commissioners, and then set off a boxcar to be used as a station. This is history, and Blakeman is now deserted, being a whistling station.
In 1887, 888, 1889 and 1890 farm loans were promiscuously negotiated throughout the country and a heavy crop of mortgages were harvested in Rawlins county, many of the settlers leaving as soon as they got their farm loan. In 1890 there was a complete crop failure. In 1891 and 1892 there were good crops, but many of the people had left. In 1893, 1894, 1895 and 1896 the crops were failures and hundreds of the remaining settlers left, but Scott stayed and struggled on with his law practice. In April, 1903, he and his son, Charley, who attended the Kansas University in 1898 and 1899, bought the Republican "Citizen" newspaper, which was founded here in 1881, and published the paper until October, 1909, when they sold it.
Dempster Scott lived on a farm until 1880 and his school advantages were meager. Although thus handicapped he has persevered with zeal and untiring industry in the practice of law, until now he is ranked as one of the ablest lawyers in northwest, Kansas, and enjoys a large practice, extending into Cheyenne, Sherman and Thomas counties, and he and his wife are happily located in one of the best residencs of Atwood, surrounded with forest and fruit trees over a foot in diameter, which they planted years ago. Their son, Charley, lives just across the street, and his little boys, Dempster and Beverly, are at Grandpa's every day. Charley was admitted to the practice of law years ago and is in partnership with his father, the firm being Dempster Scott & Son. Mr. Scott's daughter, Jessie, married C. C. Blood, of Illinois, and they and their daughter, Lois, are located at McDonald, twenty miles west of Atwood. Oren Dempster is a jeweler and optician, and with his wife and son, Hayes, lives at St. Francis, fifty miles west of Atwood, where he has a good business.
Dempster Scott was a charter member of Atwood Lodge No. 164, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and became a member of Atwood Chapter No. 84, Royal Arch Masons, shortly after its organization, on June 20, 1902. He was also made a Knight Templar in Atwood Commandery, Knights Templar, No. 54, shortly after its institution, which was on May 30, 1910. Mr. Scott has always been an active and energetic man and has been closely identified with all movements for the upbuilding of Atwood and Rawlins county.Pages 81-85 from a supplemental volume 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 October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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