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Transcribed by J. Richardson, 04-July-2000
Originally published in the Humboldt Union, Humboldt, Allen County, Kansas
Sketches of Early History - Part 2
In the Settlement of Humboldt and Allen County
By Watson Stewart
(continued from last week.)
In the meantime the surrounding country was settling up. In 1857 T.H. Glidden made the first settlement on Big creek, soon followed by the families of the Haddens, Anrds and Moore.
Some settlement was made on Owl creek, among the first was A.N. Foster, where he still resides.
Dr. I.N. Phillips settled three miles south of Humboldt. In the same neighborhood were Eli Fleming, Jacksons, and further east were the Kerns, Rapps, Stohl, Burkle and Riley, Germans.
In the north part of the county a settlement was made about Geneva, by the "Union Settlement Company." Among these settlers were Dr. Stone, J.C. Redfield, Geo. W. Stevens. J.M. Mattoon, A.G. Carpenter and Ephram Fisk. The colony numbered about seventy-five persons.
North of town were Henry Schmidt, Vosbinder, C. O'Brien, W.C. O'brien, Moses Neal, and W.m Osborn. A.L. Dornbergh settled the place where he now resides in 1859.
In the spring of 1858 O'Brien's mill was built. It was hauled over the country from Jefferson City, Mo., requiring in its removal nine yoke of oxen and one span of horses, occupying fifty-four days in making the trip and return. It was in operation about the first of May; it had one run of burrs, which were the first burrs for grinding in the county.
In 1858 Humboldt became the county seat of Allen county by act of the Legislature.
In 1858 there came to Humboldt a young lawyer of pleasing address. He came with the intention of becoming one of its citizens and "growing up with the place." He was genial, whole-souled, a ready and a pleasant speaker. He soon became to be the spokesman for the people on all important occasions. He has been placed in many position of honor and trust, and today he represents the Second Congressional District of Kansas in the Congress of the United States. His name was John R. Goodin.
In the spring of 1859, in the south part of the county, an event happened which, while not being in accordance with law, yet had a wholesome effect on the community, and serves to illustrate a certain phase of frontier society.
There was in the neighborhood a band of men whose principal business was to steal Indian ponies and run them off to Missouri and elsewhere and dispose of them. This was on what was then the Indians' own reservation.
The business had been carried on for about a year, and the band were getting so numerous and bold that honest men found it a pretty disagreeable place to live.
One night a part of Indians made a raid on them, and succeeded in capturing three of the band -- others being away from home, escaped capture. They were taken down near the mouth of Big creek, to Godfrey's trading post. What would have been their fate no one can tell; by chance Dr. Phillips and S.J. Steward were passing, and learning the condition of things, called in.
It was finally agreed by the Indians that if the men would divulge the names of their accomplices and themselves leave the country within three days, they would release them. This they agreed to do, after some demonstrations were made toward hanging. They kept their word, leaving the country on time. However, before releasing them, the Indians shaved one side of their heads. Three others implicated in the neighborhood as members of the band were waited upon by a committee from a large meeting of the citizens of the county, with a request to take the same road as their friends had taken. The request being complied with, honest men breathed more freely.
The first practicing physician in the county was Dr. Burgess -- in 1855. He resided on the place now owned by Mr. Speakman, two miles north of Humboldt. He left in 1856. We then had a Dr. After, at Cofachiqui. Dr. I.N. Phillips cam in the spring of 1857.
Humboldt's first physician was Dr. Geo. A. Miller, who came here in the summer of 1857. He established an office in a tent, a little east of W.C. O'Brien's present residence. His shingle was nailed to a small jack oak tree in front of the tent, and on it was inscribed "Geo. A. Miller, Physician and Surgeon".
Dr. Miller was a citizen of Humboldt until his death in 1867, and during all that time Humboldt had no more earnest worker for the best interests than he. He did not possess the elements of popularity with the people; but those who knew him best recognized in him all that goes to make a true man. He was a good citizen and a true Christian.
The Drouth of 1860.
1860 is remembered as the year of the drouth. In fact, the fall and winter preceding were very dry, and during the spring of 1860 we failed to get the usual rain fall. During the summer we had frequent showers, but the ground was so thoroughly dried out that showers did no good.
Crops were almost a perfect failure. When it became evident that nothing would be raised, many left the country discourage. Some sought relief by a temporary removal to neighboring state, where provisions could be obtained. Others again were unable to get away. It became evident that unless outside help could be obtained much suffering would result before another crop could be raised.
During the fall, Thadeus Hyatt, with S.C. Pomeroy and W.F.N. Arny, visited Humboldt in their tour through the Territory, and consulted with the people as to their condition and wants. Committees were apppointed, and through them much of the general aid furnished to Kansas was distributed.
This county finally sent S.J. Stewart east as a special agent. He went to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, and was successful in procuring much needed aid.
Every old Kansan will remember gratefully the friends in the east who contributed so generously in that time of need.
The Iola Town Company was organized in 1859; its first president was Dr. J.W. Scott; its first president was Dr. J.W. Scott. Its members number nearly forty person, distributed over the north half of the county. Its purpose was to make a county seat town. Its originators claimed that Humboldt was not CENTRAL, that it was built upon a ROCK where no water could be obtained for either man or beast, and that no town could ever be built on such a site.
They selected a site for Iola where water could be obtained in abundance by digging wells but a few feet, and established public wells where ass were invited to stop and water both themselves and teams.
Each member of the company was obligated to at once build a certain kind of house, so that Iola soon began to assume considerable proportions, and at once became a most formidable rival to Humboldt.
The first contest for the county seat was in May, 1860, when under an act of Legislature a vote was taken. Humboldt, however, by dint of doing some good voting came out of the contest as victor.
It was never quite clear as to where ass the voters came from. Some of the Iola folks suggested that the Cincinnati Directory had been consulted for names. However, no question as to the validity of the vote was ever raised. The next move of Iola was to give a strip off the south end of the county to Neosho -- which having been accomplished by act of the Legislature of 1865, at an election on May 10 of that year the county seat was removed from Humboldt to Iola. But little interest was taken in the election by the people of Humboldt, a very light vote being cast.
It was thought to be very unfair to submit the question at that time, when most of the citizens of this end of the county were away in the military service.
Iola still retains the prize but Humboldt has not accepted the situation as FINAL, but it is watching and waiting.
Last Updated: Monday, December 26, 2005 17:35:26
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