In the fall of 1888 some of the greatest political rallies ever known were held at Columbus. The first was on the 22d day of September, following the meeting of the Democratic County Convention. The convention met at the Opera House at 11 o'clock in the forenoon, and was called to order by R. A. Long, chairman of the county central committee. R. M. Cheshire, mayor of Columbus, was chosen temporary chairman of the convention, and J. H. Clawson was chosen secretary. After the chairman had appointed the usual committees, the convention adjourned until 1:30 in the afternoon.
On assembling in the afternoon, J. C. Murdock, of Galena, was chosen permanent chairman, and A. L. Hayden, of Weir City, was chosen secretary. Dr. E. A. Scammon was chairman of the committee on resolutions. From the report of the committee I copy this sentence: "That, in the administration of our county affairs, we demand of all officers a strict and full performance of all their official duties; and at the hands of our county commissioners we demand that they, as the law requires, at the end of each year cause to be published a full and explicit account of every dollar expended, and for what purpose, and all indebtedness of the county, that the tax-payers may know for that purpose their money is used." It had been said about that time that the county commissioners were not managing public matters in a business-like way; that the people were not kept informed of the expenditures; that the law covering such things was being ignored, and that a course of better control of the interests of the county must be had. This was one of the issues of the local canvass for votes.
The big rally of that day set in, upon the adjournment of the convention. The Baxter Springs News, September 29, 1888, copied the following account of the rally from the Columbus Star-Courier:
"A parade, headed by the Columbus Band, formed at the Gulf depot, consisting of floats, ladies and gentlemen on horseback, citizens in vehicles, and various designs representing the inconsistencies of the Republican platform, marched throughout the principal streets. Hon. John A. Eaton, candidate for Congress in the Third District, spoke in the afternoon to the assembled throng west of the new Court House. He received round after round of applause as he spoke for two hours on the tariff issue. Excursion trains arrived almost hourly during the day, and the committees were kept busy receiving them. Judge Martin, of Topeka, arrived at 4:30 in the afternoon. He was met at the depot by two bands and a large crowd of people. He was driven to the hotel, where he received many callers during me evening. At seven o'clock the excursion arrived from Galena, one thousand strong, and a processi on was formed at the Gulf depot with two thousand five hundred in line. All the clubs participated, making a grand procession, over a mile in length, with torchlight banners and transparencies. Fireworks were discharged on all sides, causing the scene to be one of dazzling brilliancy. The transparencies illustrating the deceit and hypocrisy of the Republican platform were borne by stalwart Democrats. The Andrew Jackson Glee Club, composed of young ladies and young gentlemen, on a large float, followed by another float containing 38 ladies representing the different States of the Union, were attractive features of the procession. After the parade the various glee clubs congregated on the speakers' stand and rendered some splendid campaign music. Judge Martin was introduced, and he held the audience for two hours. He spoke in a clear tone, and he was heard by a large proportion of the vast audience. His excellent points were loudly applauded. There is not the least doubt that Saturday was the grandest day for the Democrats that Columbus ever enjoyed. Good judges placed the crowd at from eight thousand to ten thousand. The whole matter passed off with the best of feeling, harmony prevailing on every hand."
Following the Democratic rally, the Republican managers set out to surpass it, in numbers and in brilliancy. As indicating the enthusiasm, the following paragraphs are taken from the Baxter Springs News:
"The Baxter Springs Republican Club proposes to send two hundred warriors, one hundred ladies and two brass bands to the grand rally at Columbus on the 13th of October."
"The Republicans are making arrangements for a grand demonstration at Columbus. October 13, afternoon and evening. Senator Plumb, Congressman Perkins, Hon. Eugene F. Ware and S. S. Kirkpatrick, of Fredonia, have promised to be present. There will be a grand torchlight procession and display of fireworks in the evening."
When the Republican rally day came, Columbus had the biggest political rally that had ever assembled within its limits. This was generally conceded. Long before the break of day the managers were up and about the work to be done; for no preparation was to be left out. The homes and the business houses of the city were lavishly and splendidly decorated, triumphal arches were erected, flags were flying everywhere, and by the early morning there was such a demonstration of interest as could not other than portend a day of full advantage to the party putting forth the effort. But if the people of the town itself were ready for a grand rally, those from other parts of the county, and even from other counties, were more so. The following account of the rally is taken from the Baxter Springs News, of October 20, 1888:
"By nine o'clock people began to pour in from the country, in large delegations and singly, in wagons, in buggies and carriages, on horseback and otherwise. At 10 o'clock the marshals, under the direction of the grand marshal, C. W. Daniels, of Baxter Springs, began forming the procession for the grand parade, which required an hour and a quarter for passing a given point. * * * At the head of the procession was the Columbus Cornet Band; next, one hundred ladies on horseback, riding three abreast, wearing the national colors. Following the ladies in uniform, were ladies and gentlemen on horseback, including colored men and women. Then followed an elaborate float, covered all over with bunting and flags, drawn by six fine white horses, bearing about thirty old gentlemen who voted for Gen. William Henry Harrison in 1840. This was really one of the most imposing sights in the procession, and none of the line felt more enthusiastic or, for the time being, younger than those old veterans of 1840. Following them, close behind, was a geunine log cabin on a truck, drawn by four spans of mules. The cabin was complete in all its details, about ten by fifteen feet, with a porch on the front side, on which set a spinning-wheel and many other articles of industrial use so familiar to the people of that time. On the roof were a wolf and a 'possum', lazily sunning themselves, and there were a number of coonskins nailed on the outside. The cabin was designed after the pattern of the primitive cabin of the settlers of the great West. * * * Then followed wagons, buggies, carts and so forth. Along down the line, and just ahead of Capt. Abbott's company of horsemen from Spring Valley, was a float containing about twenty little girls singing patriotic songs. Following this were more vehicles of various kinds, followed by the Baxter Springs Cornet Band, which led Capt. Abbott's company of horsemen numbering about one hundred young men from Spring Valley township, all uniformed and drilled. They made a splendid appearance in the line. These were followed by a float containing little girls representing the States which Harrison will carry. * * * The procession was nearly three miles in length, and not strung out like telegraph poles, either. They were kept as close as circumstances would permit. In the procession, at appropriate intervals, many bands were sandwiched, among them the Baxter Springs Band, the Melrose Band, the Columbus Band, the Chetopa Drum Corps, Wall's Drum Corps, the Columbus Drum Corps and Colored Band, the Oswego Drum Corps and Richardson's Columbus Kid Drum Corps. By two o'clock the seats on the west side of the Court House, fronting the grand stand, were literally packed with people, numbering between four thousand and five thousand. After music by the Columbus, Melrose and Baxter Springs bands in unison, and two or three songs by the Columbus Glee Club, which were greeted with great applause, Capt. H. R. Hubbard, of Boston Mills, introduced Senator Preston B. Plumb, who, notwithstanding the great hoarseness under which he was laboring, addressed the people for one hour and forty-five minutes, upon the issues of the day. His address was a plain, common sense, logical talk upon the great issues now before the American people, the tariff and the Mills Bill, and it was listened to with great interest and greeted with frequent applause. At 4:30 a large delegation arrived on the Frisco road, from the West, including the Coffeyville Flambeau Club, numbering 38 well-drilled men, and also the Oswego Flambeau Club, and torch-bearers from Fredonia, Coffeyville, Cherryvale, Mound Valley and Oswego, numbering five hundred men. The Daisy Glee Club from Fredonia was also on board. At 5:30 the Weir City and Cherokee excursion train brought in the Weir City Flambeau Club and about one thousand people composed mostly of voters who were torch bearers. At 6:30 the torches were lighted and the procession commenced forming on East Maple avenue, where it remained for the arrival of the Fort Scott excursion and for the excursion from Webb City, Joplin, Galena and Baxter Springs. The first did not arrive until 7:40 and the latter not until 8. These two trains brought in about two thousand people Fort Scott furnished a splendid flambeau club and many torch bearers, numbering about four hundred. The train from the southeast brought in the Webb City, Joplin and Galena flambeau clubs, besides the Joplin Shotgun Brigade. There were also about one thousand torch bearers in the delegation. As soon as possible the men were thrown into line and started on the march. Two thousand five hundred torches were in the parade, and along in the line were the various bands, and the drum and fife corps, and the line of march was through the principal streets of the city. * * * It was the grandest medley of lights and noises that ever greeted Southeastern Kansas. At 9:20, which was as soon as the parade was over, the people again gathered around the grand stand to hear Hon. B. W. Perkins, who was introduced by Capt. H. R. Hubbard, the chairman. Mr. Perkins was receivcd with enthusiasm. He spoke over an hour, and his address was exceptionally scratching and bitter to the Democrats. The crowd being so great, and not being able to hear Mr. Perkins, an overflow m eeting was held at the Opera House, where Hon. Eugene F. Ware and ex-Governor George T. Anthony spoke to the people. * * * Taking the meeting as a whole, it was a grand success throughout, and it is acknowledged by nearly every one to have been the most elaborate demonstration made in the State this year, if not in the entire West."
At the time of which I write, the Union Labor party was strong in Kansas, so strong as sometimes to hold the balance of power in some of the counties. Its organization in Cherokee County was thorough, and those making up the ranks of the party were numerous and aggressive in the propagation of their party doctrines.
On the 27th of October, 1888, the Union Labor party held a rally at Columbus which was perhaps more largely attended by the farmers of the county than any other rally held in the county, up to that time. A. J. Streeter, their candidate for the presidency that year, and W. H. Utley, their candidate for Congress from the Third District, were the chief speakers. The presence of Mr. Streeter brought out the entire party strength and the rally, in every particular, was certainly creditable to the managers who had the matter in hand. The Galena Miner, as quoted by the Baxter Springs News of November 3, 1888, had this to say of the rally:
"To say that the Union Labor people were pleased with their demonstration at Columbus last Saturday would be putting it mildly. It was simply wildly enthusiastic. The crowd and procession were undoubtedly the largest ever held in the county, considering the fact that it was confined almost wholly to Cherokee County people. The old parties had more people present at their demonstrations than the Union Labor people had, but at both of their meetings the crowds were largely swelled by imported delegations from neighboring counties. Galena turned out three car-loads of people, the train arriving at 1O:30 in the forenoon. Soon after the arrival of our train the grand procession was formed, and the parade began from the Gulf depot, headed by the Galena Band and the Short Creek delegation on foot. Moving to the square, and around to the south side, the Galena Band and delegation halted, opened ranks and allowed the procession to pass through. It was two miles in length, the people in wagons, carriages, buggies and on horseback, and it required forty-five minutes to pass a given point. One feature of the procession was the universal acceptance of the appellation, 'Pumpkin Huskers,' as applied to the new party by the old parties. There was a liberal display of pumpkins on almost every vehicle in the procession. The tails and manes of their horses were trimmed with oats, wheat, rye and flowers, while wreaths of corn and bunches of apples hung around their horses' necks or hung from thier[sic] saddles. Corn-stalks, with massive ears of corn on them, appeared all along the line. Castor-bean stalks, oats, trees with apples on them, corn, Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes were displayed in abundance on almost every wagon. Hay wagons, covered with hay and loaded down with little boys and girls, were pleasing features. A float, bearing a railsplitter with maul and wedge, working lustily as it went along, was one of the attractions; and several floats, bearing ladies and glee clubs, were in the procession. Flags and banners, bearing all kinds of superscriptions, were numerous, expressing the sentiments and principles of the party. In display, the procession throughout was out of the regular order of things of that kind, entirely original and unique, giving a better idea of the purposes of the party than a torchlight procession forty miles in length. At 1:40 in the afternoon James Skidmore, as chairman, introduced Hon. A. J. Streeter, a Union Labor candidate for the presidency, to one of the largest and most attentive assemblies that has listened to any speaker in this county, this year. He spoke for nearly two hours. Hon. W. H. Utley, the Union Labor candidate for Congress, wa s introduced and he spoke for a few minutes, which concluded the exercises of the day."
The last big rally held in Columbus in the fall of 1888 was that of the Democratic party, held on Saturday, November 3d, three days before the election. It is said that when the chairman of the Democratic County Central Committee saw the big Republican rally, which was held on October 13th, he said he was determined to surpass it in number, at the next Democratic rally, if it cost him a thousand dollars out of his own pocket. He set out to do it; and it is generaly[sic] conceded that he succeeded. I quote again from the Baxter Springs News, of November 1O, 1888:
"The demonstration held at Columbus last Saturday, by the Democratic party of this county, exceeded, in point of numbers, anything else of the kind ever held in Southern Kansas. During the forenoon every road leading into Columbus was literally a grand procession of wagons, buggies and horsemen in gay uniforms, while the trains invariably arrived late and loaded down to the guards; and when about noon the vast assemblage had gathered in and about the city, it was found that no amount of good generalship there obtainable was adequate to handle the throng and get them into line for the grand parade. After struggling for about one hour and a half to get a start of some kind, and in some order, the words, 'forward, march,' were given; and then for fully an hour delegation behind delegation, with bands playing and colors floating, filed into line and paraded the principal streets of the town. A general rush was then made for dinner, which cut the parade short. After dinner the several bands met at the speakers' stand in the public square, and after giving several selections, and the glee club had sung a piece or two, Hon. T. T. Crittenden, of Missouri, was introduced, and he made a lengthy and interesting address. At five o'clock in the afternoon the Galena, Melrose, Weir City, Monett (Mo.) and the Baxter Springs cornet bands met at the Odd Fellows' Hall and, under the command of Col. L. C. Weldy, made a parade around the square, in platoons of five, playing in unison a difficult quickstep. Returning to the hall, a halt was called and another piece was selected, playing which the band of sixty pieces marched in single file into their large dining hall, filing around the tables until the selection was ended. This was a feature of a demonstration not on the program, but it was, nevertheless, not the least interesting. It was acknowledged by all musicians, as well as by others, to be the most wonderful band performance ever given in Kansas, both as regards the music and the drill. Col. Weldy won glittering laurels from the band boys, for the excellent manner in which he handled them. After supper three or four large excursion trains were received, the last one arriving after eight o'clock, after which the grand torchlight procession was formed and wended its way amid the glare of flambeaus, torches and rockets, the music of bands and drums, the crack of muskets and the huzzas of thousands of enthusiastic American citizens, through the principal streets and around the square again and again, until the crowd was gradually lessened, by the trampers, one by one, dropping out of the ranks, from sheer fatigue. The display of fireworks was exceptionally fine, as were also the decorations of the homes and buildings of the city, both day and evening. Owing to the fact that the election is now over, in the result of which the people are more interested than in rallies, we cut this report much shorter than we otherwise would. There are many interesting features of which we have not spoken, for this reason."
The original settlers of Cherokee County came from the Northern and Middle Eastern States. A very large proportion of them came from the States of Illinois and Indiana, a few from New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Almost none came f rom the New England States, and only a few from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, a few from Iowa, a few from Kentucky and Tennessee.
The people who first came, as well as those who came later, were farmers who, after the war was over, and the country had taken on new life, betook themselves to newer parts, coming West, where they might light upon easier conditions and wider opportunities for building homes, and where larger returns might come of their labor and the comforts of life more rapidly accumulate. Many young men only a few years out of the army, where they had been affected by the spirit of adventure, came with the purpose of devoting themselves to the pursuits of peace, under enough of the inspiration of frontier life to keep alive the memory of the incidents of war.
The population of Cherokee County, in 1870, the first census after the organization of the county, is given in the following table:
Pleasant View Township............ 971 Cherokee Township ................ 370 Ross Township .................... 449 Sheridan Township .................1,149 Lola Township .................... 650 Salamanca Township ............... 306 Crawford Township ................ 593 Shawnee Township ................. 894 Lowell Township ...................1,612 Spring Valley Township.............2,364 Lyon Township .................... 378 Neosho Township .................. 900 The town of Columbus.............. 402 ------ Total ........................11,038
In the census for that year the population of Baxter Springs was included in that of Spring Valley township; Galena and Empire City were included in the population of Lowell township, and Weir City was included in Cherokee township.
The following table shows the population of Cherokee County, by townships and cities, for the years 1880, 1890 and 1900:
Townships 1880 1890 1900 Pleasant View ................ 1,107 1,181 1,073 Cherokee ..................... 996 1,639 2,135 Mineral ...................... 1,144 1,189 1,539 Ross ......................... 1,071 1,224 2,776 Sheridan ..................... 1,642 1,661 1,325 Lola ......................... 1,052 792 1,145 Salamanca .................... 1,993 1,061 1,016 Crawford ..................... 893 947 857 Shawnee ...................... 995 983 950 Lowell ....................... 5,224 1,486 1,486 Garden ....................... 1,134 1,296 2,652 Spring Valley ................ 2,249 1,512 1,432 Lyon ......................... 909 875 1,043 Neosho ....................... 1,246 1,124 1,123 ------ ------ ------ 21,895 17,010 20,552 Cities Columbus ..................... 1,164 2,135 2,414 Galena ....................... .... 2,362 10,511 Baxter Springs ............... .... 1,324 1,539 Empire City .................. 1,367 889 2,245 Scammon ...................... .... 649 1,802 Weir City .................... 376 2,308 3,091 ------ ------ ------ 24,801 26,677 42,154
For the year 1880 the population of Galena, that of Baxter Springs and that of Scammon were included in the townships in which they are situate, which accounts for their not being given among the cities. Effort was made to get the figures, but there is no public record covering these matters at the county seat; that is, as to the three places named, for that year.
The small increase in population, from 1880 to 1890, was due to the generally hard times which prevailed in that period, as also to the fact that progress in the develop ment of the mining interests of the county was slow and uncertain. The big increase in the next decade was due to opposite conditions from those just mentioned, and also to the fact that the people paid off most of their mortgages and were in every way better off than they had been, which condition attracted the attention of persons in other States and drew a brisk immigration. But the chief factor in the increase of population was the tremendous activity in the mining regions. The prices of ore had gone up, new mines were being opened and men were needed in large numbers. The influx of mine workers brought others, and so there was a rapid, strong increase, proportionate to the requirements which brought them; but not all of this increase could be counted as entering into the permanent population of the county.
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