Pages 171-180, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.





By Dr. John Homer.

January 6, 1873, a petition was presented to the board of county commissioners asking that a new township be formed out of the territory comprising congressional township 24, range 3, east. Petition granted and an election ordered at the regular time of holding election for township officers. The election resulted as follows: C. P. Strong, trustee; G. H. Sanders, treasurer; G. W. Carter, clerk; B. Clouce and H. H. Storms, justices of the peace; E. J. Powell and Charles Barker, constables.

Milton township, so named after Milton C. Snorf, its first settler, is a block of thirty-six square sections, and joins Fairmount township on the south, which is situated in the northwest corner of Butler county, Kansas.

Milton C. Snorf, the first settler in the township, located on the northeast quarter of section thirty-six in 1868. He was followed soon after, and in about the order named, by W. G. McCramer, Stark Spencer, Levi Spencer, George Cornelius, Sylvester Foster, George Sanders, W. B. Mordough, Charles Barker, L. C. White, George Ogden, E. J. Powell, Sam Thomas, the Storms, Neiams, Hoss, Harder, Sparks, De Talent, Hershley, and many others.

The Holden post office was located on section eighteen and B. C. Leveredge was appointed postmaster in 1871. After a few years Thomas H. Storms was appointed postmaster and the office moved to


his residence on section eight. Later the office was moved to section twenty and E. T. Eton was appointed postmaster. He moved the office to Brainerd in 1886 where it remained until 1883,[sic] when changes in rural routes were made and the Brainerd post office discontinued, a post office having been established at the town of Whitewater near the crossing of the tracks of the Missouri Pacific and Rock Island railroads.

Towanda was the nearest post office in 1869 and 1870. The nearest railroad was at Emporia, seventy miles away, from which place lumber and other necessities were hauled. There was a saw mill at Florence and a grist mill beyond Florence, where grain was ground. A trip to either place meant two days and a night. On the prairie were many antelope, some deer, and plenty prairie chickens. In 1871 Mrs. E. T. Eaton taught our first term of school in a small house built on the southwest quarter of section twenty, township twenty-four, range three, east, now in school district No. 95. Holden school house was built later in '71 on the same section. In this school house the Holden Literary Society held its meetings for years. The Holden "Times," a product of this society, was read at each meeting. In the Times were discussed farm, home, and literary topics. It also had a local column that kept the boys guessing who would come next.

Most of the land in Milton township was occupied by homemakers about 1870 and '71, and a battle for existence was on—the transformation of the prairie soil to a seed-bed. This required much time but willing hands guided the plow.

The first township officers were G. P. Neiman. justice of the peace; E. T. Eeaton, constable; George Carter, clerk. School districts were laid off in blocks of two by three miles, on which school houses were erected. Teachers were paid about twenty dollars per month. These school houses were used for many purposes, meetings, Sabbath school, preaching, elections, secret socities, concerts, etc.

But, Work! More Work! Better Work! was the slogan and the soil yielded fair crops of corn and oats. Spring wheat was first tried but was not a success, the chinch-bug being long on that variety of wheat. Fall wheat was then tried with better success. Before the herd law was enacted, herds of cattle grazed over the prairie in the summer, and hay was put up where shelter and water could be had they were wintered and rounded up occasionally. These cattle (Texas) knew nothing of corn and were put on the market as "grass fed stock." One very severe winter in the early seventies hay was put up late on sections thirty and thirty-one in this township, and a large bunch of rather poor cattle placed there to winter. The weather became bad, the ground froze, snow covered the earth and the north winds were blizzardly. Many of these cattle died during the winter and the following spring. Incidents of this kind taught the farmer and stock raiser that a better way of caring for the cattle was necessary if profit was to be derived from this industry, and so the native cattle were bred up to a better


standard, pastured during the summer, and fed at home on good hay, fodder, grain it, etc. during the winter. This opened the way for the dairy with a side profit on cream and cheese, and a solid foundation for better cattle and more hogs.

Grasshoppers came in 1874 and destroyed the crops and cleaned up nearly all vegetation, even tobacco plants, red peppers, etc. People discouraged? Well, naw! Need any help? Naw! 'Got any?" "Any?" "Oh, yes, got friends back East, guess can pull through." A carload of friendship did come and was thankfully received, seed corn especially. Yes, many were glad to get the seed corn and leave a dollar in its place. The debt was cancelled in 1889 when Kansas sent East a whole train load of friendship, for the needy poor. In the spring of '75 the eggs


hatched out and the ground was thickly covered with young hoppers but heavy and frequent rains drowned a great many and those left departed when their wings developed, not, however, until much of the early planted corn was destroyed. Discouraged? No. Fall wheat looked good; the team and old bossy had lived on it all winter, and hogs had given away or sold for anything one could get for them. April—finished corn planting; oats were looking good. May—everything out of doors growing and looking fine. June—oats rank, corn booming, wheat big heads well filled and taking on the golden color. Whomg! Bang!! 'Tis done. The big hail storm of 1875 did the work and did it well. Trees and hedges were stripped of their foliage, grass was mowed down, windows broken, loose stock injured, prairie chickens and rabbits killed. A


sycamore board was taken up by the wind from sections 22-24-3 and found near the town of Burns. Discouraged now? Nixey. Came to Milton tonship to get a home and intend to stay.

In June, '72, a heavy wind storm did considerable damage, wrecking a few small buildings; corn was blown down very badly but next day the wind blew quite strong from the opposite direction which straightened the corn, whereupon Neighbor S. remarked: "This is the darndest country I ever saw; the Lord knocks the corn down one day and sets it up the next."

In '76 a colony of Prussian Menonites located in the township, built large houses and barns and put out orchards, etc. They are good farmers. They raise fine horses and cattle. Their word is as good as their bond, and they believe in settling their own affairs without resorting to law. About this time quite a number of Swiss Menonite families located in this township and vicinity. Each of the above maintained a church of their own, services being conducted in their native tongue. All of these people are sincerely devoted to their church and are good neighbors, upright citizens, and have large families of native born American children.

The early settler found that about all of the timber land and some of the choicest bottom land was owned by non-residents. This land was known as Potwin land, Lawrence land, railroad land, etc. The timber on this land made it possible for the early settler to live on this prairie until the railroads were built across this portion of Kansas, upon which coal and other necessities could be brought in. The loss of timber to the owners of the land was a gain in the end, as the price of their land was increased by the development of the township.

Lord Harrison, an English subject, owned much land in Milton township. Houses of a like pattern were placed on each quarter section and rented or leased out on a rental basis. These renters suffered all the hardships and many of the inconveniences of the real homesteader. Some of this land has been sold to real settlers. Lord Scully also owned land in Milton township. This land was leased for cash, the lessee paying taxes. The object in making this statement is to show that if this land had been owned by individuals it would have been improved as much as adjoining farms, thereby improving the appearance of the township as well as adding value to these farms and evening up taxation.

The early settler was not a grumbler. If things did not come his way he went after them. He would exchange work with some one if he needed help. He would take his team and haul lumber or other freight from the nearest railroad if he needed food for himself and family. He was a worker, not a kicker. The loss of a horse or team would ruin a man's prospects of making a home or supporting his family. Horses were usually picketed out on the prairie at night and it was easy for a person so disposed to untie a horse and be miles away by daylight. This kind of loss became so frequent and annoying that the settlers formed a


society for their protection. A few of the thieves were caught and tried and the rest of them departed. That put a quietus on horse stealing for some time. With all his work, trials, and tribulations, the settler took time to attend surprise parties, concerts, and Fourth of July celebrations. The first Fourth of July celebration was held on the west branch of the Whitewater on G. P. and I. H. Neiman's place in 1871. The usual program of patriotic songs, picnic dinner and dance was observed.

In forty-five years there has been no failure of wheat crops, though some of the crops were damaged by chinch bugs. The Hessian fly has also done considerable damage, but by sowing late and not on stubble ground, there is little fear from the fly. Corn failed in 1874, 1901 and 1913 but in 1889 Kansas had a bumper corn crop.

The first child born in Milton township was Edgar B. Brumback.


December 6, 1870. The first death, a child of Harley Patterson, was in the winter of 1870.

In 1885, the McPherson branch of the Missouri Pacific came through this township. A station was located near the center of the township and the town of Brainerd was quickly built up and did a thriving business until about 1888. The Rock Island railroad came through the western edge of the township and located a station and built a depot at the junction of the roads, then the Missouri Pacific, put up a depot and the town of Whitewater was laid off at the junction. Chester Smith moved his house from Annelly to Whitewater in January, 1888. This was the first house in Whitewater. Two more houses were moved in from Annelly. About this time the town of Brainerd was put on wheels and


about thirty-five business houses and residences were moved in to Whitewater. I. H. Neimam was appointed postmaster; S. L. Matter, deputy postmaster, and the infant, Miss Whitewater, stepped upon the stage of action with her best bow.

"Whitewater Independent."—In a reminiscent way one's thoughts occasionally return to the "old times," especially so is it of your first home. Remembrance of it may be somewhat clouded, but there comes to you some recollections that are vivid and lasting. This metropolis of northwest Butler county, at the intersection of the Rock Island and Missouri Pacific railroads, and platted as the town of Whitewater by the Golden Belt Town Co., has undergone the hardships of a small town, and now taken its place as a city of importance and a business center. Whitewater has always been a city in many ways, and its citizens have that characteristic push and energy that builds cities. Their brain, their brawn, their pride and enthusiasm is well marked and a visitor within our gates can only say for us words of praise for the past and well wishes for the future. And incentive to either build or help build the best town in these parts has been that its location, surrounding territory and natural advantages enjoyed by few of the later built cities, gives it the prestige, and with a vim, its citizens, shoulder to shoulder, push and don't pull. Cities builded by them are the ones that grow. As a part of the history of this city we may start from so far back as 1885, when the Missouri Pacific railroad was builded. The Rock Island survey was made through here the next year, and in August, '87. the first trains were run. In August, '87, Whitewater had two general stores and a blacksmith shop. The first to start business here were: G. H. Otte, groceries; S. L. Motter, groceries; John Eilert, general merchandise; C. H. Bruhn, blacksmith; M. M. Bishop, hotel. Mary Neiman was teacher of the first school.

The first newspaper was the "Herald," and its first editor was Al M. Hendee. Before this it was known as the Brainerd "Sun," edited first by Brumback and McCann, and was moved later by Mr. Morrison to this city in 1889 and the business has grown from a small country office to one of the largest enterprises in the city, under its present management. The first bank was moved here from Brainerd in 1889. Its officers were: A. H. McLain, president; A. H. McLain. Jr., vice president; E. S. McLain, cashier. The first postmaster in Whitewater was I. H. Neiman in his own building, occupied by S. L. Motter as general store, who was assistant postmaster under him. Mrs. Nellie M. Godfrey, in the building now occupied by the "Independent," was second. The next was H. W. Bailey, editor of the "Tribune" at that time. Next was G. W. Penner, followed by G. H. Otte, the present incumbent. To date there have been two Democrats and three Republicans in the postal service as postmasters. The first mail route on the rural free delivery was established in 1902. In June, Isaac Neiman was the first carrier on the route, with his father as substitute. The route is north and east.


The present carrier is T. J. Powell and J. T. Welsh as substitute. The first carrier on route No. 2 was George Corfman.

In early days Whitewater had a United States male[sic] carrier from the Rock Island depot while the postoffice was out of the limit. He was O. C. Shay. The Missouri Pacific never had one, other than its agent. The Rock Island is now within the limits. The first school directors of Butler and Harvey county district No. 95 were: John Eilerts, Joseph Weatherby, and Chester Smith. Under their term of office the present school house was built. Wert and Froese were the contractors. The first grain buyers were: E. T. Burns on the Missouri Pacific and W. A. Sterling and brother on the Rock Island. The first meeting of the council was held in the school house. The incorporation of the city took place in 1889. The first mayor was G. H. Otte. Councilmen were J. Weatherby, G. G. Cooms, H. H. Weachman, Fred Breising and E. T.


Burns. The first city marshal was Wm. Newbury. The board of canvassers for this first election were: S. L. Motter, W. F. Wakefield and E. L. Neal. The first brick yard was operated by L. Fessler of Newton with George Brazee as foreman. The first brick building was built by G. W. Penner and its first occupants were Penner and Motter with a stock of general merchandise. This building was built of Whitewater brick.

Whitewater has had only six fires of any importance in its nearly twenty years of existence. The first was the barn of G. H. Roach. The others were barns also and were but little loss.

The waterworks system was begun by McLains, the bankers. It was built by John E. Ford of Newton. The first location of the postoffice was in the building now owned and occupied by the "Independ-


ent." The first pastor of the Reformed Church was D. B. Shuey and of the Lutheran, H. Acker. The first church parsonage of which Whitewater has two, was purchased by the Lutherans. The other was built by the German Reformed. The first elevator was built by E. T. Burns in 1889 near the Missouri Pacific tracks on South Main. It was later moved and consolidated with the Whitewater Mill and Elevator Co., of which he is a member. Mr. Burns was also the first coal dealer in Whitewater. The first drug stores were owned by E. S. Raymond, from Brainerd, and G. H. Otte, from Annelly, in '89. The first resident carpenter was Joseph Weatherby of Annelly. The first secret order was the Independent Order Odd Fellows, in 1889. Its first meeting was in Eilert's, now Huguenin's Hall. The other orders represented here are the Masons, Ancient Order United Workmen, Modern Woodman and Grand Army of the Republic. The first ladies' order was the Rebekahs, the other the Woman's Relief Corps. The first furniture dealer was Mr. Henry Heigerd, who occupied the north room of the Smith building which was the first store building moved from Annelly. The first retired farmer to move to town was C. Miller. Many have come since. The first butcher shop was started by Fred Breising. The first barber was O. E. McDowell. He was also the first painter here. The first lawyer was Peter E. Ashenfelter. Within the limits of Whitewater are few people who do not try to make it a better place to live in socially and morally. The morals of this community compare favorably with the best—none better while there are many worse.


By W. O. Moore.

Murdock township, comprising the territory known as township 25, range 3, east of the principal meridian, was organized in March, 1873, and an election was ordered for township officers at the general election in April. Voting place to be at school house in district 25. The following officers were elected: Wm. Spencer, trustee; W. Goodale, treasurer; J. N. Shibles, clerk; Reuben Moore and B. F. Hess, justices of the peace; B. E. Doyle and A. G. Davis, constables.

The township was named for the late Thomas Benton Murdock. Anthony G. Davis, now a resident of Benton, was, I believe, the first settler in what is now Murdock township. Mr. Davis came to Butler county in 1857. In the year 1868 he had a little store in the southwest corner of Murdock township. Goods were hauled in those days with teams from as far as Topeka; and the county abounded in Indians and buffalo. In 1859 came Mr. Gillian, a widower, bringing one son and three daughters. The mother of the girls, his second wife, was part Cherokee Indian. All these have gone to their reward, except possibly one daughter. In 1862 came the Atkison brothers, Benjamin, now living


in Chautauqua Springs, Samuel, lving[sic] now at Independence, and Stephen, dead. About the same time came the Kelly brothers. Jim, the oldest, is now in an old soldiers' home in California. Abe Kelly is deceased. Charley's whereabouts are unknown. John Kelly was drowned in 1867 while swimming the Whitewater river about four miles south of Whitewater City. In 1866 came John Folk. In the spring of 1868 Reuben Moore, father of the writer, came to the county, buying for one hundred dollars a quarter section of homestead land on the Whitewater and on which stood down by the creek a little log house. That summer and fall buffalo were hunted for winter meat out near the present location of Wichita. Sometimes a deer, or an antelope and often a wild turkey, was killed. Failing these, a fat raccoon or opossum would answer for a roast and always there were prairie chickens, thousands of them, and I have counted nineteen antelope in one bunch on the divide between the Whitewater and the West Branch.

In 1870 the Whitewater overflowed its banks. We left the little log cabin about ten o'clock one night and the next morning the water was half way to its roof. Then father decided it was time to build on higher ground. Lumber was brought from Emporia, and for the times, a very fine house was built, it being one and one-half stories high. The following summer the young people decided that a dance, then the popular amusement, must be given at the house. The time arrived, and most of the day it rained, but a large crowd gathered notwithstanding, again it rained, it rained until daylight and until daylight we danced. At daybreak a trip was made to the creek. It was bank full. As nearly all the guests must cross the creek to get to their home, all returned to the house. The following night the dance was continued and all stayed another night. The girls occupied the upstairs and the boys the downstairs. The next morning the creek was still nearly bank full. A little lumber having been left from the building a canoe was made with which the girls were to be taken across the creek. Reuben Moore and his brother, Carl, took their places in the boat and started off a high bank. When they had gone about two hundred yards, a swift current was encountered, the boat capsized and the boys had a struggle to swim back to shore. In this catastrophe Reuben lost his pocket book and fifteen dollars. That night the tired crowd retired about midnight, but some of the boys wakening later, called the fiddler, the music began at "Balance all," down came the girls and another round was had. This was always called the "protracted dance."

Other early settlers of Murdock township are Edwin Hall, 1868, deceased; William Paul, 1869, deceased, 1873; Leonard Shafer, 1868. Old Mr. Dorsey and family, Mr. Blankenship, son-in-law of Dorsey and Charles Mornhenwig, all came in 1869. John Miller, Henry Dohren, Thomas Ohlsen, Dave Kehl, Albert and Chancy Diemart, Robert Taylor, Joseph Claypool, Henry Terbush and the Goodales all came in 1870. A. L. Drake, Isaac Curtin, Jim Shibles, 1871; Bill Spencer and Barney


Doyle, 1871; William McCraner, who came in 1870, locating in Milton township, just outside of Murdock, was the first postmaster of the Caribou postoffice. Wm. McCraner, Jr. and myself made many a boast of how much prairie we could "break" with four or five yoke of oxen.

In the winter of 1869 a little school house was built by the people of the township. This was a little log house and like most of the other log houses, had a floor made of logs which had been split in the middle, and dressed a little with an ax. These were called puncheon floors. The seats were of the same material, having holes bored in with an auger and round pins or sticks driven in for legs. The writing desks were made in the same fashion, the pins being driven into the wall. O. W. Belt was the first teacher, a three months summer term. Charles Noe, now of Leon, was the teacher the next term. Some of us will always remember Charley as 'twas from him we received our schooling.

In the spring of 1868 an Indian scare took all of us to El Dorado, where we stayed two or three days and returned to our homes. Bill Avery said of this occasion, that when he had gotten back home everything seemed so peaceful and quiet he was ashamed to look his cows in the face.

Rev. Isaac Mooney, "Father Mooney," as we always called him, for he was certainly a gospel father to us all, was the first man to preach in the vicinity. He rode from Towanda on horseback. Each Sunday, without fail, he came. Very few to attend at the start, no one to help with the singing. Some would come to remain on the outside, these being especially the cowboys, their revolvers buckeled around them and seemingly more afraid of the preacher than of a herd of buffalo. But in time all finally went inside. Father Mooney continued coming until a larger and better school house was built, and finally a strong church was organized. He was a faithful servant of the Lord and his influence for good is still felt in this community today.

In my time here I have heard young men from the East say they would not stay if given the whole county. I have heard the early settlers say the land would be stock range forever, and time spent in trying to farm these prairies was wasted. But these mistaken opinions are evidenced by the prosperous farmers and fertile farms of this valley. Often my mind goes back to the '60's when everyone was a friend, when no selfishness was among us, and those seem the best days of my life.

Previous | Main Page | Biography Index | Next

Pages 171-180, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.

A-H | I-Il | In-Iz | Kansas(A-D) | Kansas(E-J) | Kansas(K-R) | Kansas(S-Z)-Kz | L-M | N | O | P-Z |

A | B-Bn | Bo-Bz | C-Cn | Co-Cz | D | E | F | G | H-Har | Has-Hn | Ho-Hz | I | J | K | L | M-Md | Me-Mz | N | O | P | Q | R | S-She | Shi-Sn | So-Sz | T | U | V | W-Whe | Whi-Wz | Y | Z

Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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.

© 2004 by Tom & Carolyn Ward

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