1904 History of Cherokee County Kansas


CHAPTER X.


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THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE MINERAL RESOURCES AND THE WATER POWER OF THE COUNTY

THE COAL MINES OF THE COUNTY -- THE FIRST COAL SHAFT -- THE CENTRAL COAL & COKE COMPANY -- STATISTICS OF COAL PRODUCTION -- GAS AND OIL -- THE LEAD AND ZINC MINES OF THE COUNTY -- BIG REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS -- THE MINING OF LEAD AND ZINC -- THE DISCOVERY OF LEAD AND ZINC -- STATISTICS OF LEAD AND ZINC PRODUCTION -- THE OPERATION OF MINES -- THE FEATURE OF UNCERTAINTY PRESENT -- THE WATER POWER OF THE COUNTY -- THE SPRING RIVER POWER COMPANY.

THE COAL MINES OF THE COUNTY.

Coal mining is the second greatest industry carried on in Cherokee County. It requires more capital than any other industry in the county, and a greater number of men are employed. It may also be said that it yields a larger clear profit. The whole of the north-central part of the county is underlaid with a two-and-a half-foot stratum of coal, at a depth of about fifty feet, and a four-foot stratum at a depth of about one hundred and fifty feet. The output of coal in Cherokee County is more than one-third of the whole output of the State of Kansas. In the year 1900 it amounted to 1,629,108 tons, not including a great deal of coal taken from what are called strip pits, which was not reported to the State mine inspector. The output now is much greater, but there are no figures at hand for determining the amount taken out for the last two years.

Although mining has been going on for about thirty years, and immense quantities of coal have been taken out, it is believed, by those who are best qualified to judge of such matters, that not one-tenth of the field has been worked. Some think that not more than one acre out of fifty has been mined. Within recent years the greater demand, and the consequent higher prices, have stimulated to greater activity among operators. In Ross township, where there was but one shaft nine years ago, there are now 28 and all of them are in full operation. The townships of Cherokee, Mineral and Ross are a network of railroad tracks, which have been built out from the main lines of the four roads which traverse the district; and from any point from which the entire field can be seen (which is not difficult, for the country is an almost level prairie), the whole presents a scene of the intensest activity. Switch engines, bringing in "empties," and others drawing great trains of loaded cars, may be seen going in all directions, at all times; and, from the way the work is going on, one might judge that the coal of the entire district would soon be exhausted in a little while. It is probable, however, that even forty years from now the industry of coal mining will still be engaged in it. New deposits may be discovered; and in the districts where the more shallow strata are now being worked deeper strata may be found, thus continuing the industry for many decades.

There are three principal districts or centers of operations: Weir City, Scammon and Mineral City, the last named being the newest, or the district in which the more recent extensive operations have been put on foot. Weir City is in Cherokee township, Scammon in Mineral township and Mineral City in Ross township.

THE FIRST COAL SHAFT

Opened in the county was at Scammon, in 1877, owned and operated by the Scammon brothers, for whom the town was named. This shaft was the first coal shaft opened in Kansas, south of the Leavenworth coal district. The demand for coal was then comparatively light, and for many persons, who now know better, thought at that time that the industry would never amount to much. The ownership of coal lands then was considered of light importance, and the fact that a farmer knew that his land was underlaid with fine coal did not impress him with an idea that it was more valuable than lands not so underlaid. Twelve years ago Johnson Patterson, then living in Ross township, near where the railroad station at Mineral City now stands, offered his quarter section at $20 an acre; and two years afterward, when a company offered him $25 an acre for the land, the transaction was closed at once, and he thought he had sold his land at a big price. His brother Leslie Patterson, who owned the quarter section just north of his, did not accept the offer of the same price for his. He kept his land. He had taken it as a claim, when he first came to the county, had improved it; had his ups and downs on it, as a farmer, and the family felt attached to it. Afterwards he lease the land to a company, for the purpose of mining only, and he is now getting $300 an acre, in the way of royalty, and he has sold $14,000 worth of town lots, and has most of the surface left. There was a time within the last twenty years when Leslie Patterson offered to take less than $75,000. Such has been the revolution brought about by the development of the coal industry of the county. A great many people now say they have been extremely near-sighted; that they have passed over many an opportunity for making a fortune is a comparatively short time, to take up something else, which promised good things and turned out nothing but disappointment to them.

THE CENTRAL COAL & COKE COMPANY.

One of the leading coal companies operating in the district of Cherokee County is The Central Coal & Coke Company. It is among the great coal companies of the west. I here make use of information which has been furnished me concerning this company, for the purpose of advertising the company; it does not need it; but it is done to stand as an index to what is being done in the field by other companies.

The pioneers in the operations of The Central Coal & Coke Company were Richard H. Keith, the company's president and general manager at this time, and John Perry. In 1871, Mr. Keith began his active connection with the coal business in Kansas City, by opening a retail yard there. Within a year the business increased to such an extent that he needed a partner. A co-partnership was formed, under the firm name of Mitchell & Keith; and later, this firm was succeeded by R. H. Keith & Company. Changes took place in the firm several times before the present style of the firm or company was reached. In 1873 the partnership of Keith & Henry was formed, which continued until 1881, when a change was made to Keith & Perry. In 1884 it was The Keith & Perry Coal Company. The Company was incorporated, under the laws of the State of Missouri. The capital stock was $800,000. The style of the company was continued until 1893, when it was changed to The Central Coal & Coke Company, with an authorize capital stock of $3,000,000, the additional capital being used in the purchase of The Sweetwater Coal Mining Company, at Rock Springs, Wyoming. This gave the company charge of the two largest mining undertakings in the West, capable of producing 3,500 tons of coal every day in the year, and which employ 700 men.

In April, 1902, the capital stock was increased to $7,000,000, and the bonded indebtedness was raised from $904,000 to $2,500,000. The funds raised from the sale of the additional bonds were used in the purchase of the mining properties of The Kansas & Texas Coal Company, with all the latter's allied interests. This company is interested in six different fields, and it produces as many different kinds of coal. its properties are located in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Indian Territory and Wyoming. It operates 45 mines, requiring 9,000 men. Its average pay roll is $10,000 a day. Its leases cover 70,000 acres of land, and the stratum of coal under the entire tract is five feet thick.

The officers of the company at present are as follows: R. H. Keith, president and general manager; W. C. Perry, vice-president; Charles S. Keith, assistant general manager and general sales agent; and D. Mackie, manager of mines.

The workings of the various districts are in a great measure similar, entailing a great effort and each one bringing in its adequate return. The original coal district in Kansas lies between Weir City and Scammon; and here the famous Cherokee steam coal was first mined. The mines at Weir City were opened in 1877. In the Cherokee district the company has 13 mines and employes 3,000 men, and these mines produce 9,000 tons of coal each working day. The mines at Weir City are under the management of Hugh Reid, and through his superintendence they are well equipped, well ventilated and properly supplied with modern hoisting and screening machinery. A stranger, coming by chance to Weir City, would fancy himself at some great railway terminal point, the network of track, the spurs, switches and junction points all being required for carrying out the work of such mining operations as are here going on. Four lines of railroad reach this district at Weir City; Missouri Pacific, Kansas City Southern, Santa Fe and St. Louis & San Francisco.

The local officers of the company, at Weir City, are C. N. Sweeney, district manager; and C. A. Hess, agent.

STATISTICS OF COAL PRODUCTION.

The following table shows the quantity and value of the coal produced in the State of Kansas, for the 11 years next preceding 1902, and the quantity and value of the coal produced in Cherokee County for the same time, with the per centum which the latter is of the whole.

================================================================================================
     YEAR              |  PRODUCTION  |     VALUE     |  PRODUCT IN   |    VALUE     |PER CENT
                       |   IN STATE   |               |CHEROKEE COUNTY|              |OF VALUE
-----------------------|--------------|---------------|---------------|--------------|----------
1890...................|   2,516,954  |  $ 3,170,870  |      724,861  |  $  882,186  |   28
1891...................|   2,753,722  |    3,607,375  |      832,289  |     989,186  |   28
1892...................|   3,007,276  |    3,954,568  |      825,531  |   1,009,524  |   25
1893...................|   2,881,931  |    3,960,331  |      807,796  |   1,009,704  |   25
1894...................|   3,611,214  |    4,889,774  |    1,036,614  |   1,295,768  |   25
1895...................|   3,190,843  |    3,590,141  |    1,013,612  |   1,013,612  |   28
1896...................|   3,191,748  |    3,227,357  |    1,085,132  |   1,206,022  |   37
1897...................|   3,291,806  |    3,488,380  |    1,061,409  |   1,010,343  |   29
1898...................|   3,860,405  |    4,193,159  |    1,309,868  |   1,375,361  |   32
1899...................|   4,096,895  |    5,124,248  |    1,306,239  |   1,472,385  |   28
1900...................|   2,269,716  |
    5,500,709  |    1,357,631  |   1,629,108  |   25
1901...................|   4,793,374  |    6,231,386  |    1,507,282  |   1,959,467  |   32
-----------------------|--------------|---------------|---------------|--------------|----------
                       |  41,464,984  |   50,938,298  |   12,868,264  |  14,853,265  |   29
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The quantity of the coal produced in the State and in the county is given in tons. The table shows that, in round numbers, the state output was 41,000,000 tons, while, in round numbers, the output of the county was 12,000,000 tons, or a little more that 31 per centum of the State output. The value of the State output, in round numbers, was $50,000,000; the value of the county output, in round numbers, was $14,000,000, or a little more than 29 per centum of the value of the State output.

The coal producing counties of the State of Kansas, given in the order of the quantity produced in each, are as follows: Crawford, Cherokee, Leavenworth, Osage, Linn, Coffey, Bourbon, Labette, Franklin, Cloud, Ellsworth, Atchison, Chautauqua, Shawnee, Republic, Lincoln and Russell. The following table shows the output of the State for the year 1900, by counties:

-------------------------------------------------------
     COUNTIES          |   NUMBER OF   |     VALUE     
                       | TONS PRODUCED |               
-----------------------|---------------|---------------
Crawford...............|    2,335,998  | $2,769,629.70 
Cherokee...............|    1,357,631  |  1,629,108.16 
Leavenworth............|      250,183  |    455,365,48 
Osage..................|      194,618  |    377,350.24 
Linn...................|       36,320  |     45,900.00 
Coffey.................|       35,524  |     90,252.00 
Bourbon................|       28,000  |     56,000.00 
Labette................|        9,670  |     21,757.50 
Franklin...............|        8,250  |     18,187.50 
Cloud..................|        7,208  |     18,020.00 
Ellsworth..............|        2,510  |      8,527.50 
Atchison...............|        1,200  |      3,600.00 
Chautauqua.............|        1,100  |      2,750.00 
Shawnee................|          592  |      1,776.00 
Republic...............|          501  |      1,252.50 
Lincoln................|          400  |      1,200.00 
Russell................|           11  |         33.00 
                       |    ---------- | ------------- 
       Totals..........|    4,269,716  | $5,500,709.58 
-------------------------------------------------------

Up to the year 1900 there were 46 shafts in operation in Cherokee County. There are now about 60, and the increase in the output of coal has been about in the same ratio, as, in addition to the increased number of shafts, those already in operation are widening the areas of the mines, which gives an increase of production. The following table shows the mines in operation in the year 1900. The quantity is given in tons, of 2,000 pounds.

================================================================================================
 No. |     NAME OF COMPANY OR INDIVIDUAL        |          LOCATION OF MINE            | OUTPUT
-----|------------------------------------------|--------------------------------------|--------
  1  | Central Coal & Coke Company..............| 3/4 mile west of Weir................|  70,212
     |      "              "      ..............| 1 1/2 mile north of Scammon..........|  83,624
  3  |      "              "      ..............| 2 1/2 miles southwest of Weir........| 173,713
  4  |      "              "      ..............| 1 1/4 miles west of Scammon..........|  75,178
  5  | Kansas & Texas Coal Company..............| North of Weir........................|  44,034
  6  |        "           "       ..............| Northeast of Weir...
.................|  75,320
  7  |        "           "       ..............| At Weir..............................|  46,264
  8  |        "           "       ..............| Location not given...................|  10,000
  9  | J. R. Crow Coal Company..................| 1/2 mile southwest of Turck..........|  85,440
 10  |    "            "      ..................| 1 mile west of Weir..................|  65,800
 11  |    "            "      ..................| 1 1/2 miles west of Weir.............|  34,518
 12  |    "            "      ..................| 2 miles southwest of Turck...........|  11,432
 13  | Bennett & Crowe        ..................| 3 1/4 miles northwest of Weir........|   2,689
 14  | J. H. Durkee Coal Company................| 1 mile southwest of Weir.............|  67,780
 15  |      "           "     ..................| 1 1/2 miles northeast of Weir........|   9,740
 16  |      "           "     ..................| 1 1/4 miles northeast of Weir........|   8,800
 17  | Hamilton Coal & Mercantile Company.......| 1 miles northwest of Weir............|  28,430
 18  |      "         "            "     .......| 1/2 mile southwest of Weir Junction..|  12,195
 19  | L. S. Myers & Son........................| 2 miles northeast of Weir............|   6,262
 20  | Barrett & Hayden.........................| North of Weir........................|  30,000
 21  |    "       "    .........................| 1/2 mile west of Scammon.............|  40,000
 22  | Inter-State Coal Company.................| 1 mile south of Scammon..............|   5,366
 23  | Allen Coal Company.......................| Southeast of Scammon.................|  10,560
 24  | M. C. Guy Coal Company...................| Scammon..............................|   1,526
 25  |      "         "      ...................| North of Scammon.....................|   1,118
 26  | James Stone..............................| North of Scammon.....................|   9,500
 27  | Henry Jenkins............................| Southwest of Weir....................|
 28  | Mackie Fuel Company......................| 1 1/2 miles northwest of Scammon.....|   9,821
 29  | Pullen Sons & Holman.....................| 1 mile north of Scammon..............|   4,500
 30  | L. J. Hisle..............................| Scammon..............................|   2,027
 31  | Eastern Coal & Coke Company..............| Cokedale.............................|   5,587
 32  | Humble Coal Company......................| 1 mile northwest of Turck............|  28,268
 33  | Edwards Coal Company.....................| 1 3/4 miles southwest of Turck.......|   3,625
 34  | Fidelity Land & Improvement Company......| 2 miles north of Mineral.............|  12,356
 35  | S. D. Scott..............................| 1 1/2 miles south of Mineral.........|   1,058
 36  | Southwestern Coal & Improvement Company..| Mineral..............................|  70,885
 37  |     "         "         "          "   ..| 1 mile east of Mineral...............| 146,734
 38  |     "         "         "          "   ..| 1 mile east of Mineral...............|  18,565
 39  | S. W. Baxter & Sons......................| 1 1/2 miles west of Weir.............|     636
 40  | Scranton & Son...........................| 1 mile south of Weir.................|   3,676
 41  | J. C. Graham Coal Company................| Scammon..............................|  13,000
 42  |          "         "     ................| 1 mile south of Scammon..............|   6,981
 43  | George Roeser............................| 2 miles west of Turck................|     400
 44  | Columbus Coal Company....................| Stippville...........................|     150
 45  | Southern Kansas Coal Company.............| 1 1/2 miles south of Cherokee........|  14,861
 46  | Strip Pits not Reported..................| Estimated............................|   7,000
-----|------------------------------------------|--------------------------------------|--------
     |                                          |                                      | 645,079
=
===============================================================================================

A number of mines are not given in the table, for the reason that they have been opened since the publication of the last report of the State mine inspector, and because there are no figures from which to make a showing of the output of these new mines. The Flemming mine at Mineral City is one not included, for the reasons given, and there are others whose names and locations have not been obtained in time to be embodied in this chapter.

Notwithstanding the vast increase in the output of coal in Cherokee County, prices to local consumers have advanced nearly 100 per centum in the last 15 years, and this without any apparently just reason. There is no reason for it, only that the operators have simply advanced the price for the gain which it brings. If prices to all other consumers have been advanced as they have been to the consumers in Cherokee County, the value of the output of the mines in the county, if it could be given here, for the last few years, would show a great advance over any like number of former years.

GAS AND OIL,

Which arise from the deep coal beds far beneath the surface of the earth, have been found in large quantities in Southeastern Kansas, west of the Neosho River, in the counties of Labette, Montgomery, Chautauqua, Elk, Wilson, Neosho and Allen. It is not believed that either will be found in large quantities in Cherokee County. The gas and oil are found above what is known as the Mississippi limestone, which geologists say, crops out in this county, but pitches toward the west and northwest. However, oil in small quantity has been found in Neosho township, in this county, and it is believed that it may be found in Sheridan township, both these townships lying along the Neosho River, on the east side, and just west of the general trend of the coal deposits. If, in the ages gone by, the oil exuded from the coal, through the tremendous pressure of the earth resting upon it, and was drained off in a northwesterly direction on the Mississippi limestone, as water courses over a slightly tilted roof; and if the upper edge of this slightly tilted limestone crops out in Cherokee County, it is a reasonable presumption that there is no oil in the county, and that there is not much of it in Labette County, which is immediately west of, and only a little removed from, the coal fields.

THE LEAD AND ZINC MINES OF THE COUNTY.

It is conceded by those best qualified to judge of such matters, that, in mineral resources, Cherokee County is the richest county in the State of Kansas. Within several years next preceding the present a good deal has been published concerning what is called gold-bearing shale, found in some of the northwest counties of the State; but nothing has come of the effort to find gold in paying quantities. The people of Cherokee County, as well as very many who do not reside here, know that its mineral resources, in the process of their development, have passed the experimental period. Many millions of dollars have been made out of the rich deposits opened; but it may be truthfully said that only a beginning has been made. This is particularly true of the lead and zinc. It is possible that one-tenth of the coal, in the strata now being worked, has been taken out; but no deep mining has been done. As to lead and zinc, not one-tenth has been taken out, even in the districts which have been most thoroughly worked in what may be called the upper lodges of ore. Very little deep mining has been done for these ores: but sufficient has been done to show that the lowest lodges reached are the richesth[sic], in both quality and quantity. Operators who have had large experience in lead and zinc mining say that the store house of these ores, in what is known as the Galena district, are so nearly inexhaustible that the youn gest generation now living will remain to see no more than a beginning made in their development.

BIG REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS.

Before entering upon a description of the mines of Cherokee County and a statement of the output from them, it is deemed not improper to speak of some of the big real estate transactions, the records of which may be found in the office of the register of deeds at Columbus; for some of these transactions have grown out of the undertakings which have been in course for the development of the mines in the county, while others have incidentally grown out of such interests.

May 1, 1896, The State Trust Company funded bonds for The Cherokee Lanyon Spelter Company, to the amount of $300,000, the bonds being secured by a first mortgage of the company's real estate. The recorder's fee in this transaction was $48.65.

September 28, 1896, The Mercantile Trust Company funded bonds of The St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad Company, in the sum of $5,666,500, taking a mortgage on the company's real estate in Cherokee County, with real estate elsewhere.

In January, 1902, The Central Coal & Coke Company negotiated with The Pennsylvania Company, for $2,500,000, and in security they passed 37,000 acres of land in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and the Indian Territory. The record of the mortgage covers go pages, and the recorder's fee was $51.60. In January, 1898, the same company had negotiated with Edward E. Stansbury, under mortgage, for the loan of $800,000.

January 11,1904, James Murphy and others, by quitclaim deed, sold more than 1,000 town lots in Empire City, to The Murphy Mining & Realty Company, for the consideration of $60,000. The fee for the recording of this deed was $158.65.

Perhaps the largest individual transaction in real estate ever made in Cherokee County was that in which W. S. Norton, of Columbus, sold certain coal lands to The Fidelity Land & Improvement Company, in consideration of $84,000.

These transactions cover considerations amounting to $9,410,500, a large part of which pertains to Cherokee County; but they do not include all the transactions which have immediately grown out of or incidentally pertain to the mining interests of the county. Other transactions, of more or less magnitude, if sought out in the records, would be found to foot up many hundreds of thousands of dollars in the county.


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