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J. Richardson, 21-July-2000
Originally published in the Humboldt Union, Humboldt, Allen County, Kansas
Early History - Part 3
In the Settlement of Humboldt and Allen County
By Watson Stewart
(continued from last week.)
The Land Office for this district was opened at Fort Scott, but on survey of the lands west, it became evident that the office would be removed further west. Humboldt, Iola and LeRoy were the places aspiring for the location. Humboldt easily put forth the best efforts in that direction.
The administration and the Land officers were Democratic. The Humboldt men were mostly Republican; Coffey was the only administration man in the Town Company. When, therefore, efforts were made to secure the influence of the officers at Fort Scott, Glanton, Coffey or Signor would always take along such men as Dr. Phillips or Col. Thurston to work with them.
The Office was not, however, removed when the Republican administration came into power in 1861. Kansas was admitted as a state, with two United States senators to elect. Blanton was just in a place where it was thought he could "do the most good" for Humboldt. He was a member of the first state legislature. Blanton determined to know nothing else in this matter, but the interest of Humboldt.
Offices were in the hands of the successful candidates with which to reward their friends. Blanton sought for no office. He only asked that the Land Office be removed to Humboldt -- the most central, and ONLY suitable place for it in the district, looking to the convenience of the people. He was fortunate in his support of both J.H. Lane and S.C. Pomeroy, who were elected senators.
The location of the Office was secured -- in the language of Mr. Blanton himself: "They promised me that they would move the office to Humboldt just as soon as they got to Washington, but instead of attending to the matter the first thing, as promised, they left it to the last; and after the new Register, J.C. Burnett, and Receiver, Charley Adams, Lane's son-in-law, were appointed and Lane having control of the patronage of Southern Kansas -- as he claimed -- he sent Burnett and Adams to select the point to move the office to: Lane writing me that if Burnett and Adams recommended Humboldt, he would move the office to that place.: But Mr. Blanton says that the removal of the Office was secured "without Lane's aid and in spite of him".
The Humboldt Town Association contributed two hundred lots in aid of the removal of the Office to Humboldt. The Office was opened for business in Humboldt, September 23, 1861.
The Humboldt Town Company, prior to 1860, held all its meetings in Lawrence; a consideralbe number of its members failed to come to the site, or make such improvements as were comtemplated in its organization. No title had yet been acquired to the land on which the town was built.
On the 20th of June, this year, a re-organization of the company was effected, dropping out the absent members, with Geo. A. Miller added. W.C. O'Brien was afterward made a member, making the company consist of N.B. Blanton, J.A. Coffey, J.H. Signor, W.H. Signor, Geo. A. Miller and W.C. O'Brien. This company was organized as the "Humboldt Town Association."
The town site was entered November 16, 1860, by J.G. Rickard, probate judge, for the Town Association.
I name the period from the spring of 1861 to the spring of 1865 the military period, for both Allen county and Humboldt. But few men lived in the county at that time, but what took some interest in military matters. Early in the summer a company was organized in Humboldt for the volunteer service. N.B. Blanton was captain, S.J. Stewart, 1st lieutenant. J.H. Signor became 2nd lieutenant afterward. This company was mustered into the service at Fort Leavenworth August 7, 1861.
They were mustered in as a part of the 4th Kansas, under Colonel Weir; afterward they were mustered into the 10th upon the consolidation of the 3rd and 4th regiments.
The names of those enlisted at Humboldt were: B.H. Witlow, Benj. H. Witten, David H. Nichols, Philip Beck, Wm. Burgeous, N.D. Bingham, Geo. Cole, Thos. R. Morris, John E. Stewart, Calvin Webb, D.R. Webb, Davis W. Webb, James C. Woodward and Hiram K. Loomis.
This company participated in a number of battles, among which were those at Osceola, Mo., Locust Grove, Cherokee Nation, and Prairier Grove, Arkansas.
The only persons enlisting at that time in the company, now residing near Humboldt, are S.J. Stewart, Philip Beck and J.E. Stewart. Lieutenant Stewart became captain before coming out of the service.
Humboldt was considered greatly exposed to rebel invaions from Missouri or the Indian country.
The militia were pretty thoroughly organized. Captain Isaac Tibbetts had a company of infantry; Captain I.N. Phillips, one of cavalry. They with other companies in this and Woodson counties were organized into a regiment, Orlin Thurston, colonel; James Kennar, lieutenant colonel, and N.S. Goss, major.
General James H. Lane was during the latter part of the summer busy organizing the militia forces of Kansas, and this regiment was tendered to him as the 7th Kansas regiment for the defense of Kansas.
About the first of September, a fight occurred on the Drywood, below Fort Scott, between Lane's forces and General Rains. Fort Scott was in danger, and Colonel Thurston's command was ordered over there. Before reaching Fort Scott, the order was countermanded, and they were ordered to Barnsville, where the command occupied a position as picket guards, while the main force fortified a point about si miles back, which was called Fort Lincoln. This point Lane designated as the "Key to Kansas".
Here most of the men of Humboldt were holding this key, while a band of rebels came in by another door and sacked the town.
Raid on Humboldt.
It was on the afternoon of September 8, 1861, that about 150 men under Captain Livingston of Missouri and Captain Mathews of the Osage Indian country, came dashing into town. These men were Missourians and Cherokee Indians, with a few Osage half breed Indians.
They found but few men in the place, met with no resistance, and at once proceeded to rob stores and houses of whatever they found of value, and that they could carry away with them. They remained but a short time, hurrying off south the same evening, taking from settlers on their route, horses and articles of value as they could find.
Dr. Miller was at the time away seeking authority from Lane to raise two companies of "Home Guards" for the protection of Humboldt. He came back with authority, and immediately two companies were organized, one of infantry under Geo. A. Miller, the other cavalry under Captain Henry Dudley.
Such force as could be raised started in pursuit of the rebels. We were joined on Lightning creek by Colonel Blunt (after ward major general). Captain Mathews was killed, and two or three prisoners were taken. Mathews was a trader among the Indians, had been with the Indians for a number of years, and had great influence with them. He lived on the west side of the Neosho river, just where Oswego now stands.
Those two companies of Home Guards were now put into active service. The cavalry were kept out on the south as scouts, while the infantry were fortifying O'Brien's mill and guarding as best they could the town.
On the evening of October 14, 1861, Humboldt was again visited by a rebel force of between three and four hundred, under the command of Colonel Talbott of the Confederate army. Captain Livingston was with the command.
The Home Guards were taken completely by surprise and the greater part of them, with the citizens of the town, were taken prisoners. A detachment of cavalry had been as far south as Lightning creek on a scout, and had just returned about noon that day, reporting no sign of rebels in all that country. Our men felt quite secure and were off their guard. Only one man lost his life from this raid, a Mr. Secrest; when he saw themcoming, he attempted to run off a span of mules which he owned. On being ordered to halt, and refusing to do so, he was shot, from which wound he died.
The rebels, having secured their prisoners by placing them under a heavy guard in the ravine just south of town, proceeded to rob and burn, entering nearly every house and settin fire to it; a few houses were saved from the fact that women were sick in them, a few were saved by having the fire extinguished after the rebels had left. They did not set fire to the churches, nor to the building in which the Masonic Hall was. It was said that a posse broke open the door of the hall, but went no further; whether they saw something at the threshold that awakened their better feeling, I know not; but the house saved.
The Land Office had only been removed to this place a few days; many land warrants were there with other valuable papers. Miss Kate Burnett, a sister of the Register of the Office, obtained permission from the cammander to go into the Office for a candle. She gathered a large number of land warrants and other valuable papers, which she succeeded in saving. Fire was set to the building and some of the records were destroyed, but many of the books were only scorched and not destroyed. Mr. Burnett succeeded in reaching the office before the fire had got well under way and put it out.
O'Brien's mill was burned, thus making two mills burned for him in Humboldt.
Thurston's mill escaped. There were probably fifty building in Humboldt before the raid, and not more than a dozen remained.
Having accomplished their purpose, the rebels released their prisoners and marched back to Southwest Missouri, from whence they came.
It was a sad day for Humboldt. Many were ready to give up in despair. They had spent their all in making a home or in starting in some business in the new country, and now only ashes remained. But Humboldt, phoenix-like, will arise from its ashes. So thought some of its leading citizens, and in that faith they continued to WORK and WAIT.
(continued next week.)
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