Pages 14-20, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.


The Territorial Period (cont'd)

14 HISTORY OF ALLEN AND  

a settlement somewhere in Kansas Territory, the members of which should abstain from the use of meat, tea, coffee, tobacco, or other stimulants, and who while owning some land individually should yet hold large tracts in common and should co-operate in many other ways to help one onother[sic] and to build up an ideal community. C. H. DeWolf, of Philadelphia, was president, Dr. McLauren, treasurer, and H. S. Clubb, of New York, secretary. In the fall of 1853 Dr. McLauren was sent out to select a location. The place chosen was on the left bank of the Neosho river, about six miles south of Humboldt, designated in the literature of the promoters of the scheme as Neosho City. In the spring of 1856 the secretary arrived with a number of the colonists, and others came later, through the months of April, May and June, until somewhat more than a hundred people reached the place. There appears to have been gross mismanagement, if not outright peculation,[sic] on the part of the managers of the colony. At least the promises they had made, among other things to have a saw and grist mill constructed, and to have a large house built in which all the colonists could be sheltered until they should have time to erect their individual dwellings, were not kept. The result was bitter disappointment and much suffering. For the most part the settlers were eastern people, not versed in the expedients by which those accustomed to frontier life learned to make themselves comfortable with few of the accessories of civilization. The food supply was scant, and even the little they had could not be properly prepared for want of stoves and utensils. There was but one plow in the entire settlement. When the summer came on clouds of mosquitos swarmed from the adjacent low lands, making the night time almost unendurable. The shallow springs which had been noted as "inexhaustible" in the glowing prospectus of the company, failed and only the stagnant pools in the little creek which ran by the settlement were available for drinking water, so that nearly all the people were stricken with chills and fever. The little fields of melons, squashes, pumpkins and corn which had been planted with infinite toil in the tough sod, and which had grown luxuriantly, were raided by neighboring bands of Indians and the products carried off or destroyed. It is little wonder, therefore, that the colony did not survive its first year. As the winter approached, those who could get away returned to their old homes or sought other locations where the conditions of life were not so strenuous, many died, especially of the children and the old people, while those who remained in the county located claims and fought their own way through to victory or defeat, without the "assistance" of a paternal company. So that before the following spring not a trace of the settlement survived, and the ill-starred venture has left no mark on the county except its name "Vegetarian" given to the small creek that flowed by the settlement. The story of the colony has been most graphically told by Mrs. Wm. H. Colt, who with her husband and two children and her husband's father, mother and sister, were among the colonists, in a book which bears the quaint and curious title "Went to Kansas", and it is one of the most touching and pathetic stories in all the annals of the State.

During the summer and fall of 1857 large additions were made to the

  WOODSON COUNTIES, KANSAS. 15

population of the county, so many new settlers arriving that it is impossible to give the names of individuals. Up to this time the settlements had been exclusively confined to the timbered valleys of the large streams. But they now began to encroach upon the prairies and the population became more generally distributed over the county, especially the western half of it, to which indeed it was mainly confined for many years. As a result of this large immigration Allen county during this summer experienced its first "boom". Times were flush. Money was abundant. Every new settler came with his pockets full of gold, and most of them seemed to come with the idea that the thing to do was to build a city. Towns were staked out everywhere, the most impossible locations were selected, high sounding names were adopted, lithographs were printed by the thousand and sent all over the country. Indeed so universal was the mania that the facetious S. N. Wood once proposed in the legislature to reserve by law a certain portion of the Territory for farming purposes. The Kansas "boomer" of later days comes by his propensity honestly; it was bred in him. Allen county did not entirely escape this town building injection, though she suffered from it in a less degree perhaps than some other localities. Only two towns were started here during that year, Geneva and Humboldt, and although they have not realized the extravagant expectations of their founders, they have yet prospered in a reasonable degree, and their history is reserved for a subsequent chapter.

Until the general election October 5th of this year, the affairs of the county were conducted by the original county board, Brown, Cowden and Owen, although it seems that Owen now seldom met with them. At their first meeting in 1857 January 5th, they again undertook to levy a tax. This time it was forty-three and one-third percent on the $100. They appointed Jacob B. Sherlock assessor, offered a bounty of twenty-five cents for wolf scalps, and allowed Barbee fifty cents house rent. On the 19th of January they had another meeting and appointed Nimrod Hankins assessor, Sherlock having refused to qualify. On March 30 the assessment roll, the first taken in the county, was returned and showed a total taxable property in the county $34,515.50. The board allowed the assessor twenty-four dollars for his services. Having apparently discovered that forty-three and one-third per cent was rather a heavy tax, the board at this meeting rescinded their former action and levied a tax of one-sixth of one per cent, a very considerable reduction. Having thus satisfactorily arranged the financial affairs of the county, the board adjourned, as the record quaintly says, "until there is other business before the court." It seems that other business did not appear during the year, as there is no record of a subsequent meeting of the board, and it was succeeded by a new board chosen at the general election in October.

The first census of Kansas was taken in April, 1857, under an act of the Territorial legislature preparatory to a new legislative apportionment and for the apportionment of delegates to the Lecompton constitution. By this census the population of Bourbon, McGee, Dorn and Allen counties was 2622, of whom 645 were legal voters. This gave the district which

16 HISTORY OF ALLEN AND  

these counties comprise four delegates in the convention, and at the election held in June, 1857, H. T. Wilson, Blake Little, Miles Greenwood and G. P. Hamilton were elected, J. S. Barbee, of Allen being defeated. The candidates were all pro-slavery, the Free State men refusing to recognize the proceeding in any way. In the legislative apportionment, the counties of Shawnee, Richardson, Davis, Wise, Breckenridge, Bourbon, Godfrey, Wilson, Dorn, McGee, Butler, Hunter, Greenwood, Madison, Wilson, Coffey, Woodson and Allen, (how many familiar names do you note?) were allowed two members of the council, and in the House nineteen counties including Allen, were allowed three representatives. The election was called for October 5, 1857, and under the assurance of Gov. Robert J. Walker that it should be fair and free, the Free State party now for the first time determined to muster their strength at the ballot box. The result, after throwing out some illegal votes in Johnson and McGee counties, was a complete victory, nine Free State Councilmen being elected to four pro-slavery, and twenty-four Free State representatives to fifteen Pro-slavery. The political complexion of Allen county at this time is shown by the vote for delegate in congress as follows: Deer Creek, M. J. Parrott, Free State 33, E. Ransom, Proslavery 1; Cofachique, parrott[sic] 20, Ransom 16; Coal creek, Parrott 12, Ransom 3; total vote 85, Free State majority 45. At this election O. E. Learnard, then of Coffey county, now owner of the Lawrence Journal, and C. K. Holiday, of Shawnee, lately deceased, were elected to represent in the council the district of which Allen county was a part, and in the House the representatives were Christopher Columbia, John Curtiss and Samuel J. Stewart. Mr. Stewart was the first citizen of Allen county who occupied a legislative position in the Territory, and his continued vigor, as well as his continued popularity, is shown by the interesting fact that at this writing (1901) he is again representing his county in a similar position, having been elected to the State senate in 1900,—forty-three years after his first experience in that capacity.

At this election, in 1857, new county officers were also chosen as follows: J. D. Passmore, probate judge; Elias Copelin and T. J. Day, county commissioners; Jesse E. Morris sheriff. The new board met January 5, 1858, and appointed James H. Signor clerk, Z. J. Wisner assessor, George A. Miller coroner, and Cyrus Dennis, Cornelius O'Brien and Dan Brown constables. The only other meeting of this board which is any where recorded was March, 1858, at Layton Jay's blacksmith shop in Cofachique. At this meeting they reorganized the precincts, for the first time designating them officially as townships, of which they made four, Deer Creek, Cofachique, Humboldt and Cottage Grove. The board then adjourned to meet at Thurston's office in Humboldt, the legislature having removed the county seat to that place. There is here a hiatus of nearly a year in the record, the next entry being dated February 8, 1859, when the board again returned to Cofachique. The probability is that that portion of the record made at Humboldt was destroyed in some of the raids that took place during the war.

During the year 1858 the population of the county increased very rap-

  WOODSON COUNTIES, KANSAS. 17

idly and indeed at the close of the year was very little short of what it was at any time for nearly a quarter of a century thereafter. And the increase was by healthy and natural immigration. The era of colonization and town building was about over, only one or two enterprises of the kind being inaugurated that year, and those of modest and unpretending character. A small colony from Johnson and Park counties Indiana had selected the preceding fall the townsite of Carlyle, and left two young men P. M. Carnine and R. V. Ditmars, to prepare some cabins during the winter. In the spring and summer of this year several families arrived. T. P. Killen, J. M. Evans, S. C. Richards, David Bergen, J. W. Scott and Harmon Scott being among the first. The Carlyle colony had selected two quarter sections of land as a town site whereon they proposed to build a village, with church, school house, etc. They very soon discovered, however, that a town was not what they wanted, and the townsite was very wisely made over into farms. The church and school house were built, however, and the settlement, with its later additions, the Coverts, Cozines, Christians, Adamses, Smiths and many more, became one of the most thrifty and substantial in the county. In the course of time a post-office was established, and that in due course brought a store, and Carlyle is now a modest but thriving village, the center of a splendid country community.

About the same time that the Carlyle colony arrived another town was projected, called Florence, which was to be located north of Deer creek and east of Carlyle. J. B. Chapman, Harvey Allen, J. B. Justus, D. C. VanBrunt, D. Rogers, M. M. Haun, W. S. Eastwood, F. M. Power, R. B. Jordan and others were interested in it, and it was their expectation that the L. L. & G. railroad would pass through it. This expectation was not realized however, and the attempt to build another "city" was soon abandoned. The site which it was to occupy is now known as the Strickler and Whitaker farms.

The second mail route was established during the summer of 1858. It was to run from Lawrence to Humboldt, via Garnett, Hyatt, Carlyle and Cofachique. The service was to begin July 1 and a few days before that date J. W. Scott, J. M. Evans and Harmon Scott took a wagon load of poles and laid out and marked a trail from Hyatt to Carlyle. This trail is now the main wagon road leading from the county north and very near the route followed by the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Galveston (now the Southern Kansas division of the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe) railroad. Zach Squires was the first mail carrier; and for some time his weekly trips were made on the back of a small mule. Afterwards the service was made tri-weekly, and the little mule gave way to a two horse hack, then a jerky, or two horse stage, and finally an imposing Overland coach which, in its turn was succeeded by the passenger train. The post-office for Carlyle was for some time kept at the house of J. W. Scott. Afterwards and for a number of years at the home of John Covert, in the house now occupied by Mrs. D. Adams. Since the advent of the railroad it has been kept at the store in the village.

This was the era of elections in Kansas, when the people voted early

18 HISTORY OF ALLEN AND  

and often, and the year 1858 witnessed a large number of town meetings, political conventions and elections. On March 9, occurred the election for members of the Leavenworth constitutional convention. A. G. Carpenter was chosen as the delegate from Allen county. This was the third convention that had been elected to frame a constitution for the State, and like both of the others it proved an abortion. In this year also was submitted to the people for ratification or rejection the Lecompton constitution under the English bill. The vote in Allen county stood, for 23, against 268, showing a very decided predominance of the Free State sentiment. The regular election of members of the Territorial legislature and county officers occurred October 4. The same 19 disfranchised counties sent three representatives as before. This time Allen county failed to secure a member. Wm. Spriggs, of Anderson, being the nearest.

The Free State legislature had abolished the old Missouri system of county court or commissioners, and provided for the election of township supervisors, three from each township, the chairmen of these together constituting the county board. Those elected at this time and serving at different times during the year were B. L. G. Stone, J. F. Colborn, D. B. Stewart, W. W. Miles, John Hamilton, Elias Copelin and J. S. Barbee. The other county officers held over from the previous year.

As before stated, the legislature of 1858 had, without consulting the people and without the previous knowledge of any except of a few particularly interested, removed the county seat to Humboldt. The first meeting of the new county board of which there is any record was held at that place February 8, 1859. The only business transacted was the election of B. L. G. Stone, chairman. The board then adjourned to meet at Cofachique, but why, or by what authority, does not appear. They met at Cofachique, as per adjournment, February 14, organized the new township of Geneva and appointed judges of the election to be held on the fourth Monday of March to ratify the Leavenworth constitution. The judges appointed were as follows: Geneva, at the house of Levi Ross, L. L. Northrup, William Noble, J. H. Spicer; Deer Creek at the house of Thos. Day, Thos. Day, Henry Doren and J. W. Scott; Cofachique, James Faulkner, Z. J. Wisner and J. N. Bear; Humboldt, Thos. H. Bashaw, P. Cox and Elias Copelin; Cottage Grove, Thos. Jackson, J. M. Beck and Dr. Phillips. This is the first election held in the county of which any report appears on the county records or of which there appears to have been a regular canvas. Apparently little interest was taken in this event, as the entire vote cast was only 138, of which 134 were for the constitution and 4 against.

During the year 1859 political matters continued to engage a large share of the attention of the people. On the 7th of June an election was held for members of another constitutional convention, the fourth and last. At this election J. H. Signor was chosen by a majority of six, having received 175 votes to 169 for Chas. S. Clark. The convention met in Wyandotte July 5, and framed the constitution under which the State was finally admitted. This constitution was submitted October 4th, and the vote

  WOODSON COUNTIES, KANSAS. 19

in Allen county stood 244 for, 159 against, and on the homestead clause which was submitted separately 201 for and 152 against.

The time for the general election this year had been changed to November 4, and a new apportionment had been made for the legislature. Bourbon, Allen, McGee, Dorn, Woodson and Wilson counties formed the 12th council district. Watson Stewart was elected to the council and J. W. Scott representative, with the following county officers: Simon Camerer, probate judge; H. H. Hayward, sheriff; J. W. Perkins, register of deeds; J. H. Signor, county clerk; Wm. Doren, treasurer; Merritt Moore, superintendent of schools; A. G. Carpenter, surveyor; Chas. Fussman, coroner. About a month later, December 6, the first election for State and county officers under the Wyandotte constitution was held, resulting as follows: District Judge S. O. Thacher; Senators, 10th district, P. P. Elder, Wm. Spriggs; Representatives, B. L. G. Stone, N. B. Blandon (Stone afterwards resigned and a special election was held to fill the vacancy in the first State legislature;) probate judge, Geo. A. Miller; Clerk of the District court, J. H. Signor; Superintendent of schools, Merritt Moore.

The last year of the Territorial period is the darkest year in the history of the county and the State. The story of 1860 may be written in the one word, Drouth. Up to this time the county had steadily improved. Times were not so good nor money so abundant as before the panic of '57, but immigration still continued, the seasons had been favorable, the crops good and the people had enjoyed a reasonable degree of prosperity. But all this was sadly changed. There was a copious shower in September 1859, but after that it may be said with almost literal truth that there was no rain for eighteen months. There was neither rain nor snow during the winter and the ground was exceedingly dry in the spring, but anticipating nothing unusual the people plowed and planted and pursued their ordinary avocations. The Territorial legislature at its last session had adopted a new plan of county organization, providing for three county commissioners instead of the board of supervisors, and a probate judge with greatly restricted powers. On March twenty-sixth a special election was held for the new officers. J. G. Rickard was elected probate judge, George Zimmerman, N. T. Winans and D. B. Stewart county commissioners. But a more absorbing interest than offices and politics soon began to claim the attention of the people. As spring passed on and ripened into summer there was still no rain, the dust in which the seed had been planted remained dust. The burning sun glared fiercely all day, and no dew decended[sic] at night. "The sky above our heads seemed brass," says J. W. Scott in the address from which many of the foregoing facts have been gleaned, "and the earth was iron beneath our feet. The air around us seemed the very breath of hell, and the whole atmosphere ready to burst into devouring flame. Day after day and month after month the scanty vegetation looked up helplessly to the unpitying heavens, and finally drooped and died. How many nights we sat hour after hour watching the hurrying clouds and hoping against hope that they would bring the needed moisture; but they were as dry as ashes and the hearts of the boldest died within them. No people ever struggled more

20 HISTORY OF ALLEN AND  

manfully against overwhelming disaster. When one crop failed another was tried, each to meet with no better success than the first." It was a heart-breaking experience, and those who passed through it cannot speak of it even now without a shudder. It is no wonder that many of the settlers perhaps a majority of them, went back to their former homes, and that few of those who went ever returned. Those who remained suffered the extremest privation, and many of them were rescued from actual starvation only by the timely arrival of supplies sent out by the numerous "Kansas Aid" societies which were organized throughout the East. There have been hard times in Kansas since then; but compared with 1860 there has never been a year that was not one of abundance and good cheer.

This year the county was divided for the first time into commissioner districts. The board elected at the special election in March were only to hold until the general election in November, at which time the following persons were elected commissioners: Henry Doren, H. D. Parsons and D. B. Stewart, with Yancy Martin assessor,—the other county officers holding over. J. W. Scott was re-elected representative, Watson Stewart holding over in the Council. An attempt was made during this year to build a jail at Humboldt. Specifications were adopted by the county board and proposals received; but the times were unpropitious and nothing farther was done. The first regular census was taken this year and gave Allen county a population of 3120. The number of cattle reported was 5043, swine 2060, horses 951, mules 50 and sheep 710. This census was taken in June and shows a much larger population than remained at the end of the year.

The following winter was very severe, and notwithstanding the "aid" received, much suffering was experienced, especially by those who were compelled to make long trips after relief goods. These were mostly distributed from Atchison through S. C. Pomeroy, afterwards United States Senator, and the journey, often made with ox teams, requiring a week or ten days, sometimes through the fiercest storms, was only rendered endurable by the absolute necessity of the case.

It was during this darkest period of her history, when the hearts of the bravest of her pioneers were heavy within them and the "Ad Astra" of the motto emblazoned on her shield seemed a bitter mockery, that Kansas was ushered into the sisterhood of States. The bill for her admission was signed by President Buchanan on the twenty-ninth day of January, 1861, and the Territorial Period was brought to a close.

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Pages 14-20, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.


Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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