Wallace County, one of the most western in the state, is in the third tier south from Nebraska. It is bounded on the north by Sherman county; on the east by Logan; on the south by Greeley and Wichita, and on the west by the State of Colorado. It was created in 1868 and named in honor of Gen. W. H. L. Wallace, a veteran of the Mexican war who died from wounds received in the battle of Shiloh, Tenn. The county first included all of the territory now comprised within Wallace and Logan and the boundaries were defined by the legislature as follows: "Commencing at the northwest corner of Gove county; thence west on the 2d standard parallel line to the west line of the State of Kansas; thence south on the west line of the state to the 3d standard parallel line; thence east on 3d standard parallel line to the west line of Gove county; thence north on said west line of Gove county to the place of beginning."
It was attached to Ellis county for judicial purposes. The Union Pacific R. R. was built through the county in 1868, which added to the number of settlers. In the summer a census enumeration was made showing a population of 609. It was sworn to by W. H. Bush, W. L. Todd and Richard Blake on Aug. 17, and on this showing Gov. Samuel J. Crawford, on the 25th of the same month, issued a proclamation organizing the county, designating Pond City as the temporary county seat and naming the following officers: County clerk, Welcome Hughes; justice of the peace, John Whiteford; commissioners, W. L. Todd, Richard McClure and Richard Blake.
The county government thus established was sustained until 1875. An election was held for county officers that year in which but 24 votes were cast. All of them were for Wallace for county seat. During the next few years no representative was sent to the legislature and the few people remaining in the county expressed a desire to be relieved of the burden of separate government. Accordingly the legislature in 1879 voted to dissolve the government, if the supreme court should decide that it had been fraudulently organized, as was claimed by some of the citizens. Meantime, in 1875, the boundaries of the county had been enlarged by a tract 52 miles long and 6 miles wide on the north and another 36 miles long and 6 miles wide in the east. In 1881 the county took its final form, the boundaries being redefined as follows: "Commencing at a point where the east boundary line of range 38 west crosses the 2d standard parallel; thence west along said 2d standard parallel to the west line of the state; thence south along said west line of the state to the 3d standard parallel; thence east on said 3d standard parallel to the point where said 3d standard parallel crosses the east boundary line of range No. 38 west; thence north on said range line to the place of beginning."
It was attached to Trego for judicial purposes, but in 1886 the citizens of Wallace county, wishing to resume separate government, asked for reorganization. The attorney-general looked into the matter and decided that no reorganization was necessary, giving it as his opinion that the county had never been disorganized by the supreme court. Accordingly those who remained of the county officers elected in 1875 resumed their duties at Wallace, the former county seat. Those present were commissioner, T. F. Hayes; county clerk, F. L. Amet; deputy county clerk, Charles J. Smith. They appointed James Yoxall and Lewis Winans county commissioners to fill the vacancies and voted to ask the governor to appoint Samuel A. Chisum as sheriff. The county was divided into voting precincts in preparation for the fall election. The element around Sharon Springs objected to this, but a mass meeting was held at Wallace and resolutions adopted that they recognized the county as organized and ordered that the regular election be held in November. The following officers were then elected: County clerk, I. T. Teeters; treasurer, George W. McEwen; sheriff, Samuel Chisum; attorney, Thomas D. Hamilton; clerk of the district court, George R. Allaman register of deeds, J. V. Campbell; superintendent of public instruction, Parminis Smith; coroner, H. H. Yost; surveyor, Thomas L. Dellinger; commissioners, Myner T. Griggs, Thomas Madigan and James Yoxall.
The Sharon Springs faction took the matter to the supreme court and in Jan., 1887, it handed down a decision that the county was not organized and that the officers were not legally elected. This was startling news to a number of couples who had been married by the probate judge, and who now feared that their marriages were not legal. The county government was set aside and Wallace again became attached to Trego county for judicial purposes.
In the fall of 1888 C. L. Vanderpool was appointed census taker. His report showed a population of 2,357, of whom 692 were householders. The assessed valuation of property was $327,618, of which $140,812 was real estate. In his proclamation issued Jan. 5, 1889, Gov. Martin named Sharon Springs as the temporary county scat and appointed as county clerk, Samuel L. Kay; sheriff, James Yoxall; commissioners, O. R. Brown, John W. Gessell and Myner T. Griggs. The commissioners met and divided the county into voting precincts. A bill was passed by the legislature granting to the commissioners the power to retain Sharon Springs as the county seat without an election for five years. This unusual proceeding caused great dissatisfaction in some parts of the county especially in Wallace, and the feeling ran very high between the two factions. At the special election, held on April 15, 1889, the Wallace faction voted for their own town which received 330 votes out of 606 which would have been sufficient to have made it the county seat. The Sharon Springs supporters did not vote on the county seat matter and would not recognize the question as being before the people. The following officers were elected: clerk, Edwin H. Soule; treasurer, John Zencker; probate judge, John M. Ewell; sheriff, Fred P. Manzer; attorney, Joseph M. Sanders; district clerk, John F. Stevens; superintendent of public instruction, James M. Robinson; surveyor, Thomas L. Dellinger; commissioners, Eden Lewis, George Robinson and James Yake.
The clerk, sheriff and district clerk being of the Wallace faction moved their offices to that town while the other officers remained in Sharon Springs. The sheriff called a special election for Sept. 18 to select a county seat. Wallace received 343 votes which would have made that town county seat under ordinary circumstances. The Sharon Springs faction did not vote. The supreme court decided that the county seat was at Sharon Springs and refused a rehearing of the case. A courthouse was built at that place and the county clerk was compelled to remove there with the records.
The population of the county in 1884 was 500; in 1890 it was 2,468; during the next decade there was a decrease to 1,178; but in the next ten years the population more than doubled, the 1910 census showing 2,759. Wallace county is divided into 7 townships, viz: Harrison, Morton, North, Sharon Springs, Stockholm, Wallace and Weskan. The Union Pacific R. R. enters on the east line, crosses southwest to Sharon Springs, thence west into Colorado. Magnesian limestone, native lime and gypsum are common.
The general surface is undulating with rough lands along the streams. Timber is scarce. Bottom lands average from one-fourth mile to one mile in width. The Smoky Hill river, which enters across the west line from Colorado, and its numerous branches form the water system.
The value of farm products was $384,671 in 1910, corn, the leading crop, being worth $55,206. The assessed valuation of property was $5,240,975.Pages 868-871 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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