On the 30th day of May, 1854, the Act of Congress providing for a territorial organization of the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska, was signed by President Pierce, and became a law, and the large amount of public lands embraced within their boundaries was thrown open to settlement under the pre-emption laws of the United States. Under the provisions of that Act an election was held on the 30th of March 1855, to choose members of the first Legislature of the Territory of Kansas. The Legislature thus elected met at Pawnee and soon after adjourned to meet at Shawnee Manual Labor School on the 22nd of July me same year. At this session of the Legislature an act was passed, districting a portion of the territory into counties and naming the counties thus laid off. This act provides that Browne county shall be bounded as follows: Beginning at the corner of Doniphan county, thence west twenty-four miles, thence south thirty miles, thence east to the west line of Atchison County, thence north to the northwest corner of Atchison county, thence east with said line of Atchison county, to the northwest corner of Doniphan county, thence north with said west line of Doniphan county to place of beginning. It will be observed that two serious mistakes occur in this description - at the commencement it should be northwest corner of Doniphan county, and near the close it should be southwest corner of Doniphan county. The same act attached the County of Browne to the County of Doniphan for civil and military purposes. In regard to the origin of the name, there seems to be quite a difference of opinion. The Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture, Hon. Alfred Gray, in his report for 1875, says Brown county was named in honor of Hon. Albert G. Brown of Mississippi who was a member of the United States Senate at the time of the passage of the act organizing Kansas Territory. In support of this view, a letter from Judge F.G. Adams, an old and honored citizen of the State is herewith submitted.
Dear Sir: - You have shown me the letter of Hon. E.N. Morrill, in which he expresses a doubt as to the correctness or your Fourth Annual Report, in respect to the origin of the name of Brown county.
I furnished you the information for the item in your report upon the authority of Hon. John Martin, of Topeka, who was a clerk in the legislature during which the county was originally established and named - the session of 1855 - the first territorial session, held at Shawnee Mission, in Johnson county.
Mr. Martin's recollection was quite clear on the point, and his information was so explicit that I had no doubt of its correctness. Since seeing Major Morrill's letter to you, I have made further inquiry on the subject of Mr. Alex. S. Johnson and Mr. H.D. McMeekin, of this city, both of whom were members of that first Territorial legislature. They fully agreed with Mr. Martin, that the county was named in honor of Albert G. Brown, of Mississippi, as stated in your report.
In respect to the orthography of the name, I have examined, and find the following facts:
The act of 1855, 'defining the boundaries of the counties of Kansas,' gives the spelling Browne. It is so in the published statutes and journals, and so in the enrolled bill preserved in the Secretary of State's office.
But it does not so occur in the enrolled bills of the second session of the Legislature, held in 1857, commencing at Lecompton, Jan. 4th of that year. In the enrolled bills of that second session the final e is dropped from Brown county. This is so in an act redefining the boundaries of the several counties of the Territory, and the same is true as to all of the enrolled bills of that session, including one redistricting the Territory for legislative purposes. But in the published statutes of that session, 1857, the name is invariably printed with the final e - following the statutes of 1845.
The enrolled bill is the highest authority of variance like this. It was then the legislature of 1857 that changed the orthography from Browne to Brown. The latter orthography has since been followed in Kansas statutes.
Major Morrill was a member of the House of Representatives at the third legislative session, and the first page of the House journal of that session shows that he appeared as the member from the fourth and fifth districts, embracing Brown and Nemaha counties - the final e being omitted in the Journal as in all the laws and proceedings of that session.
Albert G. Brown's name was not spelled with a final e. If, then, Messrs. Johnson, Martin and McMeekin are correct as they doubtless are, in their recollection, that the legislature of 1855 intended to honor the Mississippi Senator, by giving his name to the county, a clerical error, was made in the enrollment of the bill - an error which went into the printed statutes of that and the succeeding sessions, and so into the early records of the county. There was no member of the legislature from Doniphan named Brown, nor from that part of the Territory, during these early sessions. Brown was attached to Doniphan at the first session, and detached at the second. In the act detaching, it was named Brown without the e.
The legislature, at its second session, was pro-slavery, and could not, in dropping the e, have made the change for the purpose of honoring old John Brown. No formal act in regard to the name was ever passed, other than those of the two pro-slavery legislatures. The succeeding legislatures, in acts in which the same occurs, have simply followed the orthography fixed by the acts of 1857.
it is not singular that Major Morrill should have fallen into error in this matter. Doubtless he had not, at the time, taken notice of the precise facts. John Brown's "trail" crossed Brown county. It is a settled tradition in that section that the county was named after the old martyr. It gives me no pleasure to dispel the error.
This seems improbable, for in the act defining the the boundaries, the name is spelled with a final e; and in the laws of that session as well as in the laws of the pro-slavery legislature of 1857, it is, without exception, spelled with the terminal e. It seems hardly reasonable to suppose that a legislative body desiring to honor a distinguished man by giving to a new county his name would fail to follow his orthography in the spelling of that name. Among the early settlers of the county it was generally reported and universally accepted as a fact, that the county was named in honor of O.H. Browne, a prominent member of the legislature of 1855, who represented Douglas county. In support of this side of the question, the following letters are given from influential members of that legislature, now living in the State. J.H. Stringfellow of Atchison, writes the Champion as follows:
"MR. EDITOR: - In a communication some short time since in your valuable paper from Judge F.G. Adams, who is usually so correct, there is an error regarding the name of Brown county, which should be corrected, as it is likely to become a part of the future history of Kansas. I am not surprised that the facts have become confused, as so long a time has elapsed, and such tremendous events have intervened since their occurrence. The name of the county was originally, Browne, after a very brilliant and very eccentric member of the House at the time, O.H. Browne, of the then Third Representative District, and a resident of what is now Douglas county, where he died some few years since. There were several counties named after members of the one or the other of the two houses, viz., Johnson, after Rev. Thos. Johnson, a member of the Council; Lykins, after Rev. David Lykins, of the Council, an ex-Indian missionary; Coffey, after A.M. Coffey, of the Council from Kentucky; Anderson, after Joseph C. Anderson of the House; Marshall, after F.I. Marshall, of the House.
Of the above gentlemen, I think only two are now living F.I. Marshall, now of Colorado, an enterprising, intelligent man, and highly respected; and J.C. Anderson, now, I think of Kentucky, a very intelligent lawyer, and all of them men of unblemished personal character.
Col. T.W. Waterson also adds his testimony in the same direction.
Hon. E.N. MORRILL: - Dear sir. - Yours of the 26th inst. came to hand last evening. In reply I would say that my recollection is very clear that the origin and reason of your county being called Browne was, that a man by the name of O.H. Browne was a member of the legislature at that time, and was very desirous of having a county called for him, as were a good many other members. For instance, Marshall, Richardson, Johnson, Coffey, Lykins, etc., were all named after members. If this does not cover the ground, please let me hear from you and I will try and give all the information I can.
Honorable John A. Halderman, of Leavenworth, also a member of the first Legislature, writes: My recollection is that Browne county was called for O.H. Browne, a member of the first House of Representatives, who died, a few years since in Osage; and not for Hon. V.G. Brown, of Mississippi."
This would seem to prove conclusively that the intention of the first legislature was to honor one of their members by giving his name to this county. Why the final e was subsequently dropped does not appear; but as the name is spellled[sic] Browne wherever it appears in the laws enacted by the pro-slavery legislatures and Brown in all the laws enacted by Free-state legislatures, it is fair to presume that the name was changed for political reasons.
In the early records of Doniphan county the following entries are found pertaining to Browne county. At a meeting of the commissioners of Doniphan county. On Monday, the 17th day of Sept., A.D. 1855, it was ordered that the county of Browne be and it is hereby organized as a municipal township to be known as Browne county township.
Ordered, That the Territorial election for Delegate to the next Congress of the United States be held at the house of W.C. Foster, on the South Fork of the Nemaha for the county of Browne and that Wm. C. Foster; Wm. Purket and E.W. Short be appointed judges to hold the same.
Ordered, That a vote of the people be taken on the day of the territorial election authorizing the county court to grant or withhold license for the retail of ardent spirits in each township. It may be printed or written on each ticket, License, or No License.
Ordered, That John C. Boggs and Wm. Foster be appointed Justices of the Peace, and that Wm. Purket be appointed Constable for the county of Brown, in the territory of Kansas, for, and during the term prescribed by law and until their successors are duly elected and qualified. At the January term, 1856, the following orders were passed. Ordered that John W. Smith be and he is hereby appointed assessor of Brown and Doniphan counties for and during the term prescribed by law and until his successor is elected and qualified; and that he be requested to enter into bond to the Territory of Kansas in the penal sum of FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS conditioned for the faithful performance of the duties of his office. Ordered, That A. Hays be and he is hereby appointed special Marshal to take the census of Doniphan and Brown counties during the term prescribed by law.
June 16, 1856, the following orders were entered. Ordered, That the account filed with the clerk of this court by Henry Adams and R.L. Kirk, commissioners to locate a Territorial road from Atchison to Marysville, amounting to one hundred and four dollars and twenty-five cents against Brown county for surveying said road through said county be and the same is hereby audited and allowed against said county; and that the clerk of this Tribunal be and he is hereby authorized to issue warrants on Brown county and in favor of the several persons whose names are mentioned in the account. Ordered, That the Court will not allow the items in the above account for use of tent and cooking utensils and provisions, amounting to $12.93.
Here follows a long report of the road commissioners of the road above referred to.
July 22, 1856, an order was passed directing the county surveyor to survey and mark out the boundary line between Brown and Doniphan counties. On the 16th of Sept., 1856, several orders were passed pertaining to Brown county. Among them was one that the assessor should file seperate bills for assessing against Doniphan and Brown counties and his assessment rolls should be received provided that pre-emption claims and shares in joint stock companies not incorporated shall not be taxed. It was also ordered that township ranges numbered 15 and 16 in Brown county be and they are hereby constituted a municipal township, to be known as Walnut township; and that an election for members to the next legislative assembly of the Territory of Kansas, to be held at the house of W.C. Foster, in said township, on the 1st Monday in October next, and that W.C. Foster, ___ and ___ be and they are hereby appointed judges to hold said election. Ordered that township ranges 17 and 18 be and they are hereby constituted a municipal township to be known as Mission township and that an election for members of the next Legislative assembly of the Territory of Kansas be held at the house of Henry Smith, on the 1st Monday of October next, within and for said township, and that Henry Smith, ___ Thompson and James Smith be and they are hereby appointed judges to the same. Ordered that the rate of tax for county purposes for Brown county for the present year shall be fifty cents for each poll and one-sixth of one per cent on all other taxable property. On the 17th of Nov., 1856, the account of John W. Smith for assessing Brown county was allowed, amounting to $48. The foregoing, with the exception of a few orders pertaining to road and personal matters, seem to be all the orders of the commissioners of Doniphan county relating to Brown county business.
On page 44 of laws of 1857, the boundaries of the county are again given, correcting the errors in the laws of 1855, and the name is still spelled with an e. On page 84 of the same session laws is an act approved Feb. __, which reads as folllows:[sic] That the county of Browne, which is attached to the county of Doniphan is hereby detached from said county of Doniphan. That Claytonville be the temporary seat of justice of Browne county. That at the first general election there shall be three commissioners elected, who shall, after first taking an oath, etc., proceed to locate the permanent seat of justice. That the present legislature of the Territory of Kansas shall elect a Probate Judge, Sheriff and two commissioners for Browne county, who shall hold their offices until the general election in October, 1857, and until their successors are elected and qualified. During the same session of the legislature Geo. E. Clayton was elected Probate Judge of Browne county - the Probate Judge being, under the then existing law, chairman of the county commissioners court. Henry Smith and D.M. Lochnane were elected commissioners, but as Mr. Lochnane was not a resident of the county at the time, this left a vacancy in the board which was not, however, filled. Pettus Thompson was elected Sheriff, but he declined the office and did not qualify. The court thus constituted formally organized and held a session at Claytonville on the 16th day of March, 1857, in a small log house which is still standing and which now forms a part of the residence of O.C. Whitney, Esq. This was the first court ever held in Brown county, and this log hut was the first court house. The first act of the court was to appoint James Waterson clerk. James A. Fulton was appointed Sheriff, but later in the day this appointment was for some reason rescinded and at the following session he was again appointed. John Dunbar was appointed Treasurer and E.M. Hubbard, Coronor. Dunbar probably declined to act, as at the next session of the court. Richard L. Oldham was appointed Treasurer. The court then divided the county into four municipal townships, nearly equal in extent of territory, naming the N.E. township Irving, the S.E. Claytonville, the S.W. Lochnane and the N.W. Walnut Creek. Ira H. Smith was appointed county surveyor but he refused to accept any appointment at the hands of this court, holding that the legislature that provided for the organization of the county was forced upon the territory by fraud, and violence. Joseph A. Brown was appointed assessor and M.C. Willis, Justice of the Peace. At the next session of this court held March 31, 1857, it was ordered that John H. Whitehead have a license to sell intoxicating liquors at his store in Kinnekuk for six months from April 1, 1857, upon payment of $25. As Kinnekuk was just over the line in Atchison county and entirely beyond the jurisdiction of the tribunal, it was evidently a clear gain of $25 to the county. At the same session of the court it was ordered that $500 be appropriated for the building of a court house on the north square in Claytonville, said house to be a frame 30 feet long and 20 feet wide and to be enclosed by 1st of June, 1857. Richard L. Oldham was appointed commissioner to build this house. A tax levy was made at this session of one-sixth of one per cent for county purposes, and one-sixth of one per cent for building purposes. Under an act of the pro-slavery legislature all persons who settled upon secs. 16 and 36 (school land) before the survey of the public lands, were required to prove their settlement before the county court and pay to the county Treasurer $1.25 per acre for such lands - the money thus received to be made a permanent school fund. Quite a number of the early settlers of the county - M.L. Sawin, Thomas Brigham, John Page, Jos. Farron, Ely Corneilison, F.M. Starns, Isaac H. Barkley and Nathaniel Kimberlin proved their settlement before the county court but the U.S. Government refused to recognize this disposition of the lands and required the parties to prove their settlement at the U.S. Land Office, treating these lands as Government lands and not school lands. At the session of this court held May 18, 1857, E.H. Niles, Thurston Chase, Noah Hanson and others petitioned to have school districts organized in town 2, range 16. This seems to be the first action ever taken in the county towards organizing school districts and came from a section of the county which for many years took the lead in educational matters. The next day a petition was presented from the settlers in town 3, range 18 to have that township organized into school districts. The records fail to show who the petitioners were. At this time voting precincts were established for the county, at house of W.C. Foster, for Walnut Creek township; at house of J.B. Heaton, at Mt. Roy, for Irving township; at house of C.W. Magill, for Lochnane township; and at hotel in Claytonville for that township.
Lewis Dunn was appointed Justice of the Peace at this session. Petitions for roads were presented and necessary action taken to establish them at each session of the commissioners' court during the whole year of 1857. At the next session of the court, held July 20, Leander Sawyer and John G. Spencer were appointed Justices of the Peace. The Sheriff of the county, who was by virtue of his office, collector of taxes, submitted a report for the year 1856, a copy of which is herewith given in full.
BROWN CO., KANSAS TERRITORY
|Cr.||By. the tax book of 1856||$106.41|
|" J.H. Whitehead's license||25.00|
|" G.W. Williams' "||25.00|
|Dr.||To per centage for collecting revenue||$7.40|
|" " " License||1.00|
|Of the above account there, is due to John W. Smith, Assessor of Brown county,||$38.60|
|There is lost of the revenue of the county by error of the assessing persons out of the county and delinquent as per my return||$69.51|
|And there is in my hands, belonging to the Territory, the sum of, less percentage and mileage,||$64.91|
The returns of the Sheriff show that twenty-two persons were illegally assessed, not being residents of the Territory on the 1st of March, the time from which the assessment dated. These persons were charged with a tax of $54.34, which being deducted from the full amount of the tax books for the year leaves a legal tax for the whole of Browne county for the year 1856 of $52.07. As it is before shown that John W. Smith was allowed by Doniphan county court $48 for making the assessment, and James A. Fulton was allowed $7.40 for collecting the same, the total taxes that year failed to pay for assessment and colIection by $3.33 and Browne county was $3.33 poorer after collecting the tax than it was before the assessment.
In August, 1857, the commissioner appointed to contract for building a court house, reported that he had contracted with A. Heed to build a house for $500; that the work was done, the building received, and that Heed was entitled to his money. This was the first court house owned by the county. It did not prove a very paying investment, as the county sold it not long after, to Sam'l W. Wade for $100. On the 19th of October, 1857, this court held its last session, and the reign of the pro-slavery dynasty was forever ended in Browne county. While the free-state men, who, during the whole term of their reign, from March to November, were largely in the majority, firmly believed that the legislature that elected these men was utterly illegal and without any just power to act, they wisely concluded that it was better to quietly submit for the short time that would elapse before the election would be held, than to jeopardize the peace and quiet of the community and retard the material interests of the county by resistance to the powers in authority. Simple justice to these commissioners' demands that it should be here stated that the free-state men had no occasion to complain of the conduct of this court and that they were not governed by partisan feelings in their acts - leading free-state men being repeatedly appointed to positions of honor and trust. Up to this, time, (Oct., 1857) but three elections had been held in the county under the territorial laws. The first was on the first day of October, 1855, at which there were FOUR VOTES cast, all being for J.W. Whitfield for Delegate to Congress. This is the first recorded vote in the county and is without doubt the first election ever held within its borders. It is to be hoped that candidates for office were corresondingly scarce or the four poor fellows who were entitled to the rights of suffrage would have been "bored" to death. The next election was on the 6th of October, 1856, for Delegate to Congress and members of the legislature. At this election J.W. Whitfield had 16 votes for Delegate and X.K. Stout, B.O. Driscoll and T.W. Waterson, all, at that time, residents of Doniphan county, received 17 votes for members of legislature. On the 13th of June, 1857, an election was held to select two delegates to attend a Constitutional Convention to be held at Lecompton. At this election, Henry Smith received 36 votes and Cyrus Dolman 44 votes in the district comprising Brown and Nemaha counties. None of these elections really give any just idea of the number of voters in the county at the times of the elections, as the free-state men of the county, acting in harmony with their party throughout the Territory, steadily refused to vote. The act of the legislature providing for the election of delegates to a Constitutional Convention also provided for the taking of a census. This was done in Browne county by Geo. E. Clayton, Probate Judge, there being then no Sheriff. There is no reason to doubt that it was accomplished with as much accuracy as is usual in such enumerations. He gave the number of voters at 205, but made no return of the whole number of inhabitants. Counting three inhabitants to each voter, which at that time would be a very liberal estimate, as a large number of single men were in the county taking "claims," the whole population of the county could not exceed 615. On the 5th of October, 1857, the territorial election for that year was held, and as the free-state men were at the polls in full force, it is safe to say that a full vote was cast. At this election W.G. Sargent was elected Probate Judge; A.B. Anderson and Jacob Englehart, County Commissioners; Moses P. Proctor, Treasurer; Franklin O. Sawin, Sheriff, by a vote of 186 to 72 - the vote by townships being as follows:
By this vote the control of the county passed into the hands of the free-state men, and the pro-slaveryites were ever after in a hopeless minority.
Browne and Nemaha counties at this time constituted the 4th and 5th Rep. districts and were entitled to one member. E.N. Morrill was elected, receiving 283 votes while E.M. Hubbard, the Democratic candidate received 102 votes.
Turning from a consideration of the political organization of the county, your attention is invited to that of its
Transcribed from History and Statistics of Brown County, Kansas, comp. by E. N. Morrill, Hiawatha, Kan., Kansas herald book, news, and job office, July 4, 1876.
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