Pages 31-36, 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.


  WOODSON COUNTIES, KANSAS. 31

The First Land Titles

Settlement commenced in Allen county before an acre of land had been surveyed, and while the Indian title was yet unextinguished, although treaties for its extinguishment were pending. About two thirds of the county on the north belonged to the New York Indians, and the remaining one-third to the Osages. In 1855 Joseph Ludley, with a party of surveyors began the survey of the standard parallels of the Territory, finishing it February, 1856, with the Fifth standard parallel, crossing Allen county a little north of Humboldt. The township and range lines were run during this and the following summer, but the subdivison was not completed until the summer of 1859. In the absence of definite "corners" there was naturally much uncertainty as to the boundary and extent of territory that could be rightfully claimed by individual settlers. The first settlers located in or adjoining the timber, and while professing to hold but a quarter section often claimed a mile square. The Territorial legislature enacted that each settler might hold two quarter section, one of timber and one of prairie. This was directly contrary to the laws of congress and gave rise to much trouble. To remedy these evils so far as possible the settlers in this county, as eleswhere, organized among themselves associations whose business it was to settle disputed claims and protect each others rights. The decision of these tribunals was always prompt, nearly always just and equitable, and very generally acquiesced in so that actual violence was seldom resorted to in these cases.

In the summer of 1860 the public lands in the county that had been surveyed were opened up for settlement and offered at public sale in November of that year, the homestead law having not yet been passed. Owing to the great destitution that year amoung[sic] the settlers, resulting from the failure of the crops, but few were able to purchase their claims, and to prevent speculators from bidding them off at the sale large numbers of settlers were in attendance and in most cases succeeded in preventing the sale of lands on which settlement had been made.

They were not always able to prevent such sales, however, and the two or three tragedies which darken the early pages of our county's history resulted from this failure. One of these cases was that of a young man named Winn who in 1860 settled on a claim a few miles west of Humboldt, and without filing on it went to Missouri to work. During his absence a man named Harris went to the land office at Fort Scott and bought the land at private entry. When Winn returned and ascertained the facts he immediately procured a revolver and proceeded direct to Harris' house, on Deer creek and demanded a conveyance of the land. Some altercation

32 HISTORY OF ALLEN AND  

ensued and the two men started off together. Harris was found next day with a bullet hole through his head. Winn was arrested, charged with the crime. In the preliminary hearing before 'Squire Mattoon, of Geneva, he admitted the killing but pleaded self-defense. He was held to bail, but popular sympathy was with him, and the war soon after breaking out, he enlisted in the army and no trial ever took place.

A similar tragedy came near being enacted between Anderson C. Smith and Anderson Wray, and for a similar reason. Wray bid off Smith's claim at the land sales at Fort Scott. Smith, who was at his place on Martin creek, heard of it late in the evening, and immediately mounted a pony and started for Fort Scott, swearing vengeance. He met Wray and his party in camp on Turkey creek about three or four o'clock in the morning, and without a word of warning or a moment's notice began firing at Wray, one or two shots taking effect before friends could interfere. Fortunately the wounds were not mortal. Wray recovered and the affair was afterwards amicably settled.

A number of settlers had located on Osage Indian lands in the south part of the county before the Indian title was extinguished, and the Government had ordered them to move off. The order was not obeyed to any great extent, and in several instances serious trouble with the Indians was narrowly averted. On September 29, 1865, however, a treaty with the Osages was finally concluded by the terms of which the white settlers then on the lands were permitted to enter 160 acres each at one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre. These lands were surveyed in 1866-'7 and the settlers were enable under the treaty to secure a title to their homes in January, 1868, after a residence on the part of some of eleven years.

  WOODSON COUNTIES, KANSAS. 33

Some of the "First" Things.

The first school was opened in Humboldt in 1858, and was taught by S. W. Clark.

The first wedding was that of George W. Young to Sarah Bennett, June 28, 1856.

The first court in the county was held by Judge Cato, in November, 1855, in Cofachique. He held another term in 1856.

The first death was that of an Englishman named Broadbent, one of the Vegetarian colony, which occurred in June, 1856.

The first postoffice was located at Cofachique in 1856, but a regular carrying route was not put on until the year following.

Nimrod Hankins made the first assessment of the county in March, 1857, finding taxable property to the amount of $34,515.50

The first election was held at Cofachique, in the fall of 1856, seven votes being cast. Each voter paid a poll tax of one dollar before being permitted to vote.

The first practicing physician who located permanently in the county was Dr. Burgess, who came in the summer of 1856, and took a claim two miles north of Humboldt.

The legislature of 1855, known as the "bogus legislature," established slavery in Kansas by law, and it existed in Allen County in the first years of its history in fact, slaves being owned and held here by Henry Sater, Giles Sater, James Gaibraith, a Mr. Hurlston and a Mr. Dunbar. Giles Sater was a free state man and soon set his slaves free. The other slave owners, finding the atmosphere unwholesome, returned after a short time to Missouri.

34 HISTORY OF ALLEN AND  

The Reminiscence of an Old Settler.

By I. B. LAWYER.

On the 1st day of April, 1857, W. F. Brooks, William Boyd and I started from Solon Iowa to go to Kansas with our own conveyance, two horses and a wagon. When we got to Leavenworth we met a man who had surveyed a townsite down on the Neosho, they named Leroy, so we struck out for the Neosho River. From Leroy we came on the west side of the river to Neosho Falls, thence down to what was afterwards called Lawyer's Ford, (three miles north-west of now Iola). There we camped on Saturday evening, and on Monday morning we bought a claim of Mr. Augustus Todd. The land had not as yet been surveyed into sections, and when the government survey was made, it was close to the line where Mr. Todd had figured.

The next news that came was that the land belonged to the New York Indians, and that we would all have to leave. This was not cheerful news to me as I had bought out my partner's (Mr. Brooks), interest for some eight hundred dollars, and as time passed on the land was offered for sale at the Fort Scott land office and hardly any of us had sufficient money to bid in our land which was sold at the mercy of the speculators. There were but few speculators present at the sale, and our land was not sold.

We now had an opportunity to file on our land, with the privilege of twelve months in which to pay for our homestead, and by the time I bought a land warrant from L. L. Northrup, (then running a store at Geneva), and at that time land warrants being under par, I procured my land from the government for a little less than one dollar per acre.

When J. R. Young and I went to the land office at Mapleton to prove up, darkness came on before we got home, and coming in on the east side of Iola, we were stopped by the pickets. (Iola being under guard to keep the rebels out), and passing through the line into town, we had to get the password to get out of town again, and when we got to my house we ran amuck another outpost; so you see we had some thrilling times even in free Kansas.

I well remember the first four acres of corn I raised in Kansas, and that was in 1857. I readily disposed of it the following spring for seed corn at $1.50 per bushel—Joe Colburn buying the last of it at $2.00 per bushel. The money those days in circulation was gold and silver, with a five-cent piece for the smallest change.

It may be of interest to some people to know what kind of game we had, and, while I think of it I must tell you a joke on myself: One Sun-

  WOODSON COUNTIES, KANSAS. 35

day morning my wife and I were getting ready to go to J. R. Young's to eat some apples that he had brought from Missouri, and looking out the west window of the log cabin, I saw two deer in the brush. Not having any meat in the house, nor money to buy any, I, of course, thought of my rifle first thing, and picking same up dropped one of the deer, and the other deer stood there until I loaded my muzzle-loading rifle, and I dropped it too; but lo, when I reached the side of my game I found they both had strings around their necks. They were pets and had strayed away from their owner, Miss Fannie, daughter of Joe Parsons, (Jesse Parsons, now a resident of Chanute, was at the time a young man). They took it as a joke and said the deer had no business wandering so far from home, and for me to divide with my neighbors. I went home and, as luck would have it, Nimrod Hankins and Lawrence Arnold came to call on us and helped me dress them. They were the only deer I ever killed.

Wild turkey were abundant. I once saw twenty-six go to roost at the mouth of Deer Creek, and got one the following morning before breakfast.

The log cabin we lived in was built by an Arkansas man and, of course, had an Arkansas chimney to it, built with sticks above the fireplace, and daubed with mud; and, of course, it had to be repaired every fall. While inside that chimney repairing it one day, I saw some wild turkeys in a corn patch across the road. I went out and picking out one with a large head I dropped him. I told my wife to go and get it, and we found that the ball had gone through the one I aimed for and crippled one more, so we had two turkeys that weighed twenty pounds apiece, and only two of us to eat them and, of course, we divided among the neighbors. I killed nine the first fall I was here, and some of them were plenty fat to fry themselves.

Prairie chicken were plentiful. They would come off the prairie to the timber to sun themselves on the dead trees, and I could shoot two or three of them before they would fly away.

In the summer of 1857 I heard of a colony that had settled up on Indian Creek, and heard they had started a town and named it Eureka, (I suppose they thought they had found it), so I concluded one Sunday morning I would ride up and see the town, and get acquainted with some of the people. I found the place and found that the town consisted of a hole in the ground, (where they had been digging for water), and the people were camped along the creek. I rode across the creek to where there was a log cabin that a Mr. Fuqua had vacated, and I saw the people gathering toward the cabin, so I rode up to it and a Mr. Spicer, (now of Geneva), and Dr. Stone were sitting on a log talking, and I asked them if there would be preaching there? They said no, it was to be Sabbath school. I was wearing one of those two-story hats I had brought from the states, and they mistook me to be a preacher and asked me whether I was one. I told them no, but that I was a lawyer, but only by name, so there I was at my first Sabbath school in Kansas. Before I forget I must tell you that they afterwards changed the name of their town to Geneva.

The first sermon I heard preached in Kansas was at the residence of Martin Brown, father of Samuel and Miss Ruth Brown, now of Iola. It

36 HISTORY OF ALLEN AND  

was on the farm now owned by Mrs. Robert Purdom. I have forgotten the man's name now that preached, but he belonged to the colony that first started Geneva.

Some years after my wife and I went to Neosho Falls to camp meeting with an ox team and farm wagon, took a man along to take the oxen home, and we camped in the wagon until the meeting was over. We had plenty with us to eat and sometimes entertained the preachers. I don't know but what we enjoyed the meetings about as well as though we had gone in the finest style. I attended quarterly meeting at Leroy, and was there for the 9 o'clock love feast, traveling a distance of sixteen miles to get there. I have farmed it through drought, flood and grasshoppers and hail-storms, peace and war, and bountiful crops and failures; it would take many pages to tell it all, and I have been in many different states in the Union, and have even lived in Missouri, where the pure air of Heaven is contaminated with the fumes of whiskey; so that when I come over into Kansas, and the cars glide along over the beautiful prairies, it always seems to me as soon as I cross the State line, that I can smell the difference in the air we breathe. And, when it comes to genuine comfort, there is no place I have ever been where I would rather spend my remaining days or years than Iola, Kansas.

Previous | Home | Next


Pages 31-36, 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

Email Us


Background and KSGenWeb logo were designed and are copyrighted by
Tom & Carolyn Ward
for the limited use of the KSGenWeb Project.
Permission is granted for use only on an official KSGenWeb page.

© 2005 by Tom & Carolyn Ward


Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
including
The KSGenWeb Project