The city of Concordia is situated in the immediate valley of the Republican river, at the base of a range of hills to the south upon which have been erected many handsome dwellings, whose occupants enjoy one of the most beautiful panoramic views on the continent. On the north side is the river, which is bordered by fine cottonwood trees, and its broad valley stretches far to the east and west of the city.
Perhaps no one man is so much entitled to the credit of founding Concordia as J.M. Hagaman. He conceived the idea and selected the town site where he has resided and lives at the present time, and whose face is as familiar to Cloud county people as the head of the Goddess of Liberty on the American dollar.
The plan of locating the county seat on the Republican river was co-existent with Mr. Hagaman's advent into the county in 1860, and he never let an opportunity escape to push the project. To aid this enterprise he opened a road at his own personal expense to Junction City and secured the survey over this line in 1864 of a state road from that city. The sixty-fourth milepost (a red sand rock) lies buried on his old homestead by the river bridge. Mr. Hagaman explains the seemingly short distance by saying: "In order to make it appear they were not so very far distant from the outside world, he had the surveyor, A.C. Pierce, of Junction City, stretch the gunter's chain," that is, threw in ten links now and again and sometimes oftener. This was done to secure a good road to Junction City and avoid the dangers and hardships in going to market. He reasoned that without the county seat and an important town, never would be heard the locomotive's shrill whistle on the south side of the Republican river.
Is it any wonder that his neighbors smiled at his talk, when the buffalo bulls were making the hills, valleys and plains melodious with their bellowing, and the wolves making night hideous with their bloodthirsty howlings, in the very dooryards of the settlers.
Mr. Hagaman built the first house on the town site with his own hands. He built for G.W. Andrews the second, projected the court house and donated more funds toward it than all the other parties with the exception of G.W. Andrews. Mr. Hagaman located land on which a part of the town stands and induced Mr. Andrews to locate one hundred and sixty acres adjoining his on the south, the prospective town being the inducement held out to Andrews. This was in August, 1868. In 1866 he had secured the permanent location of the county seat two miles east of the present site.
In the summer of 1866, the population being sufficient, Mr. Hagaman prepared a petition to the governor, the Honorable S.J. Crawford, praying him to issue a proclamation declaring the county organized. He presented the petition personally; the prayer was granted, election of officers and the present location of the county seat ordered.
He had named in the petition Clyde as the temporary county seat; his object being to mislead the people of that village, who not only desired to get the temporary seat but the permanent one as well. Naming Clyde disarmed the opposition to the organization of the county. He was somewhat perplexed over a suitable name and after casting about for a time decided on naming it "Townsdin's Point." Mr. W.S. Townsdin had taken a claim just west of Oak Creek and not far east of the center of the county, where he intended the seat should be finally located; not caring, as Mr. Hagaman archly remarked, "if afterward the point were found to be in the moon," his sole purpose being to keep Clyde from getting the vote.
Election day came, and Cowel, the Clyde merchant, went to Sibley to tell the dozen or so of voters how to cast their ballots on the county seat. Mr. Hagaman went, and some one in the crowd was heard to remark "and Satan came also." He looked over the poll-book, so-called, and found it very defective, a jug of whiskey sitting on the floor near the judges' table, and the judges and clerks fully "three sheets in the wind." Mr. Hagaman went home fully satisfied that precinct would not be counted - and it was not.
The commissioners appointed by the governor to complete the organization of the county were George Wilcox, Dr. Henry Lear and Moses Heller, with N.D. Hagaman for clerk and "Elk Creek" for the county seat. It may seem strange to have a creek selected for the county seat, but there was no land deeded at that time, and "Elk Creek" was then generally known to be around "Uncle Heller's" place.
These commissioners were recommended in the petition and all lived on the north side of the river except the clerk. The commissioners could not be got together to canvass the vote. Finally the clerk wrote the secretary of state to know what to do about it. He replied to make and remit to him an affidavit of the facts and he would authorize N.D. Hagaman to canvass them. They were advised of this and still would not meet. The order of the secretary came; the clerk set the day to canvass, of which the opposition was notified, but none appeared. The clerk found that "Townsdin's Point" has a majority of the legal votes and he declared it the permanent county seat of "Shirley county."
Had Clyde been given the county seat, Concordia would never have existed. As a matter of course nothing was ever done at "Townsdin's Point," nor was there ever intended to be. The object was to keep the county seat from Clyde, and prevent the growth and prestige the permanent location of the county seat would give.
Nothing more was done about the location of the county seat until 1869. In the summer of that year a sprightly town sprung up at Sibley and was named for the lake that bears that name. A.A. Carnahan had a quarter section upon which a portion of the town was located and of course wanted the county seat there, C.M. Albinson was the soul of this enterprise and A.A. Carnahan the brains.
The subject of re-locating the county seat began to be agitated that summer. The south side voters caused to be circulated the report that they were opposed to the election which doubled the desire of the north side people for it, construing the unwillingness of the south side people to mean fear of the result. While not sanguine of success they knew it was now or never, as the south side had a plurality of five votes with a steady gain on the north side.
Albinson was planning to colonize some voters, but upon hearing that the board would throw his precinct out if it was found a single illegal vote were cast, he abandoned the scheme. No fairer or more honest elections were ever held than the two that filially settled the county seat at Concordia. On the first ballot Clyde was third in the race, which left Sibley and Concordia alone in the ring. The fight waged hot and fierce; report came that Sibley was distributing town lots among voters. Mr. Hagaman advised George Andrews to put one or two hundred lots in his pocket and go with them to Shirley and Clyde, which he did. Consequently the vote was very satisfactory in both places.
Every vote south of the Republican river was for Concordia and the eighteen votes from Clyde gave her a big majority. There was sufficient reason for the Clyde property owners not voting for Sibley. Concordia would do them less harm.
As Concordia grew, Sibley paled in the dim distance, her stores were deserted and her hotel, built at a cost of four thousand dollars, was abandoned and went to ruin. The failure of Sibley brought ruin to J.T. Swellson. of Junction City, the financial backer of the adventure. C.M. Albinson and several others lost many of their ducats when the Sibley bubble bursted. Mr. Carnahan erected the fourth building in Concordia, but afterward cast his lot with Sibley, the illusive future metropolis being partly on his land; but prodigal like, he returned to Concordia.
The election on November 6, 1866, was an important one, inasmuch as the county seat question was involved in this contest; it was the north and the south side of the river, the north side concentrating on Elk creek, the south side, a location situated on Oak creek.
J.M. Hagaman, not satisfied with the action of the convention, claimed the right of applying to the people for their suffrage to the office of representative, so ran independent. The Elk precinct polled eighteen votes. Election over, the next thing was to canvass this vote by the first board of commissioners.
Here hinges the most delicate part of this narrative, but to those who are inclined to censure, please bear in mind this election involved a county seat contest, which has been the cause - whether it came up in this state or any other state - of more crookedness and official corruption than many other causes combined. The officers were new and inexperienced, had no precedence before them to look to, nor had they that usful[sic] appendant, county attorney, to counsel, and as for legal documents, there were perhaps none in the county, with the exception of one copy of the compiled laws, in possession of 'Squire J.M. Thorp.
The following statement was made by a person, who was present at this attempted canvass and in substance is as follows: The board saw by the certified returns that William English was elected county commissioner and immediately had him sworn in. George Wilcox was then told his term of office expired, and there was nothing more for him to do, so he went home, which left Heller and English on the board. Robert J. Smith, the man from the Solomon valley, never qualified.
An idea prevailed among the settlers of that day that where there was a tie on the board the clerk had a right to give the casting vote. This was an advantage to the friends of Oak creek, for the clerk was an Oak creek man; so, on inspecting the returns from Sibley, they were thrown out because they were signed by the judge with a pencil, instead of written with ink. By doing this the majority of the vote cast was declared in favor of Oak Creek.
After doing this, it seemed they adjourned. Mr. Heller, who opposed such action, refused to meet to finish the canvass. To show that there was a serious muddle, and the manner in which it was finally settled, we will submit the following extract of a report from the secretary of state: "Soon after the election I was informed by the county clerk of Shirley that the commissioners of said county had refused to canvass the vote of said county as provided by law. I immediately wrote to the clerk to canvass the vote and also to make an affidavit, setting forth all the facts, and forward the same to this office, which was done."
To persons of to-day who are acquainted with such work it will puzzle them to know why this adjournment, when the whole could have been completed almost in the next instant. Mr. Rupe says that the only way he can account for it is that they must have thought they had to canvass the ballots as well as the certified returns, but even then it would have taken but short time, as the vote was very light. The whole number of votes with the Sibley precinct thrown out (which is said to be ten), according to the report of the secretary of state is forty-eight. Rather a small vote for a county, but about four too many, as there were eighteen in Elk, twenty-two in Shirley, four in Buffalo and ten at Sibley; total, fifty-four. Subtract from this the ten Shirley votes and there are forty-four. There were no votes from the Solomon. There were a few settlers there but no votes cast. The settlement in that precinct began in 1865, and a safe estimate of the voters would be ten.
Had this been polled there would have been sixty-eight. Allowing five to each voter, there would have been two hundred and forty at the time the affidavit was made, stating there were six hundred inhabitants. It may be denied that the throwing out of the Sibley vote had the effect of throwing the county seat on Oak Creek, but this was too generally known to admit of much argument. Had there been a fair expression of the people in favor of that locality there can be no doubt its friends would have held it there, but the people were so indignant at the procedure the commissioners never met at this place to transact county business, but continued to meet on Elk creek or Clyde, until they removed to Concordia in 1870.
Again had there been a fair expression there never would have been another election on this vexed question, for the county seat would have remained on Oak creek.
Having decided where the city was to be, the next step was to get some public demonstration in favor of it. The convention met in August, 1869, at Captain Sanders' saw mill, standing on the left bank of the river, half a mile below the town site. The delegates from the south side being a majority rode over the site and approved of it. To H.C. Snyder was voted the honor of naming the to-be great city, and this he did by saying, "In view of the harmony and unanimity prevailing, I name the future city 'Concordia,' " and the name was thereupon unaninously[sic] approved.
The idea of building a city here was regarded as a huge joke by some of the delegates, but did not in the least degree shake the faith of its founder. In 1870 E. Linney moved his store, which had been located near the saw mill, about half way between where the bridge now spans the river and Sixth and Washington streets. He was then appointed postmaster of Concordia, and afterward removed into the building erected by A.A. Carnahan.
The January meeting of the commissioners was held in the building erected and presented to the county, the business was transacted and when the board adjourned it looked as though the county seat trouble was at an end, when in fact they were still in the midst of it. In placing the building they had not been particular about locating it on the exact spot, specified by the ballot, but near by on the tract plotted, named it Concordia and filed it in the register of deeds' office just before the first election in 1869.
The Clyde people became aware of this and at once assumed that the county officers could not be compelled to come to the county seat, as there was no place for them to do business at Concordia. Some people believed there was something in the contention, and some who thought otherwise deemed it best to silence the objection by moving the house onto the tract specified. It was protested but to no avail; the building was moved.
The moving of the building so maddened Mr. Hagaman that he abandoned the town for a time, went to Clyde and selected some lots preparatory to erecting a business house upon them. The town company professed to be glad he was coming, but when a few days later he went to begin work and requested them to stake out his lots, he was told there was a prior claim to the ground in question and he would have to go further out. After much travel a location was found that he could not be induced to take, and with language more "forcible than elegant," he returned to his "first love," determined to redouble his efforts to make Concordia a town. The Clyde people were superstitious of his move and thought probably he boded them ill.
After moving the county house the commissioners met and voted to transact the county business in Clyde, and back to that town they went. A more crestfallen lot of men than those who spent two weeks moving that building never met. This looked like a death stroke to their little town, a death knell to their hopes of building a city, and in all probability would have been but for the timely removal of the United States land office from Junction City to Concordia.
The commissioners were as follows: First district, W.H. Page, living near Clyde; second district, Chester Dutton, living in Sibley; third, John Murphy, in Meredith. Page pulled for Clyde, Dutton for Sibley and Murphy for Concordia.
It was very quiet the spring and summer of 1870 with very little to break the monotony of pioneer life. The coyote still made the air resonant with their yelpings, and the ground squirrel sported and grazed on the town site unmolested.
Sibley had a chance of securing the United States land office which revived her dying hopes. G.W. Martin, registrar of the land office at Junction City, held out to the Sibley managers the hope of getting the office, but the United States land office and their officers were perquisites of Senator Pomeroy and what he demanded was given. In June of this year Senator Pomeroy, in company with the Honorable S.D. Houston, visited Cloud county, going as far west as Cawker City, or to the site, as there was less of a city there than at Concordia. On climbing the hill beyond Cawker City he was captivated by the magnificent panorama before him, and decided to put the other land office there. Senator Pomeroy never went back on a true friend, and never broke a promise. He gave out a newspaper interview descriptive of the country and it stirred both hemispheres, and was immediately followed by a rush of emigration.
The incorporators of the Concordia Town Company were as follows: James M. Hagaman, G.W. Andrews, William McK. Burns, Amos Cutter and S.D. Houston. This charter was filed in the office of the secretary of state of Kansas, December 26, 1870. It was September, 1870, that word was received to the effect that the United States land office had been located at Concordia, and orders to prepare a building where the officers might hold forth.
Long before the land office was opened for business long lines of homesteaders were daily formed in front of the office. The applications were made, filed and recorded when the books came in January.
J.M. Hagaman drew the plans for the building of the United States land office. The pine lumber, windows and doors were hauled from Junction City. The pine lumber cost one hundred dollars per one thousand feet. The cottonwood lumber, which formed the greater part of the building, was purchased in Concordia. The building was one and one-half stories high, eighteen by twenty feet, and paid for by Andrews and Hagaman. This was a costly building at that time and largely because of high wages paid poor workmen.
To keep the land office from being moved, the same parties built another house for the officers at a cost of two thousand dollars. All that was necessary in those days to make the town company "put up" was to get the word afloat that the land office was going to be moved because "the town company wouldn't do this or wouldn't do that."
When the "political triumvirate" of the land office, the court house and the saloons were established in the early 'seventies, all that was necessary to secure the election of the combined candidates was for the managers to say "if you don't vote for our candidate we will move the land office," and every man voted loyally for them. This continued more or less until 1879, when the ring was smashed.
In the first platting of the town the streets were made the width they are at present. Sixth, the main business street, is one hundred and ten feet wide, Fifth, one hundred and thirteen feet wide, Fourth, one hundred and thirty feet wide, Broadway, one hundred and twenty feet wide, Washington, ninety-nine feet wide; all the other streets are eighty feet wide. The alleys are twenty feet wide. The lots were originally forty-four by one hundred and thirty-two feet, but at the suggestion of S.D. Houston they were divided in the middle, making them twenty-two by one hundred and thirty-two feet, where it was expected the business houses would be erected. His reason was that with a forty-four foot lot one-half of it only would be built upon and the vacant land would hurt the business and the town.
This being plausible, the company's plat was made to conform with his view of the matter. Fourth street was desired for railroads and is occupied by the Central Branch Railway. It was also intended to run a railroad through Broadway street, to be known as the North and South Central Kansas Railroad. Houston and Hagaman each subscribed one hundred thousand dollars to the capital stock of this company and an editor of a Salina paper took another one hundred thousand dollars worth of stock. Mr. Hagaman says "the nub of the joke lies in the fact that all three could not have raised five thousand dollars if their necks had depended upon it," but that is the way railroads were built in that day. The stock of the Central Branch was nothing but "wind" at first and made valuable by land grants and government bonds.
Mr. Hagaman named the streets of Concordia, not one having been suggested. The following is the origin of some of them: Willow, so named because it extended into a bunch of willows at its northern terminus; Republican river. for the river that bears that name; Cedar street, the next street east, because it sounded well, and he also argued there should be a State and Kansas avenue. Washington was named in honor of the Father of Our Country; Broadway because it sounded big and metropolitan like; Lincoln was named for the martyred president; Olive street was named for a sister of Mrs. Hagaman, Spruce street was so named because that tree had been a great favorite of his boyhood days. Seized with a sentimental inspiration. Archer was suggested from Cupid with his little bow and arrow. Greeley street was named for Horace Greeley, the "patron saint" of its author.
The base line for numbering the streets is the river, First street being the street next to the Republican, and thence south, the last one being Nineteenth.
In 1871 Sidney Clark was defeated in the renomination to congress. Friends of his in the eastern part of the state, who had arranged to erect a first-class hotel, abandoned the enterprise. The story floated "The land office would be moved and Concordia would die." It was impossible to approximate the loss to the town from that misfortune, but it is safe to say it was very great.
If some of the citizens knew the office would not be moved they could not convince the people of it; the evil effect was the same. Confidence often builds bigger and better cities than natural advantages and genius, and the jealous enemies of the town made the most of these conditions; but the town lived and eventually boomed, nevertheless.
Congress met in December and Amos Cutler, of Buffalo, New York was confirmed as registrar and Honorable E.J. Jenkins as receiver of the land office, which opened for business June 16, 1871. In April, 1874, Honorable B.H. McEckron was appointed registrar. No more honorable men were ever in the employ of the government than these gentlemen nor more accommodating officers.
As before mentioned, E. Linney was the first postmaster and opened the first store. S.D. Silvers opened the second in December, erecting a building on the comer of Sixth and Broadway streets, where Sweet's hardware store now stands. McKinnon and Guilbert (the latter still a resident of Concordia) located in November with hardware and lumber. Early in the same month the citizens were astonished to see a house moving towards the town from the west. Mrs. Truesdell was moving her residence to town to be used as a hotel. In the Empire of December 24, 1870, apppears[sic] the following local: "Mr. Truesdell moved his house to this place, from one and a half miles west of town. Eleven yoke of oxen and four men brought the building here in about two hours. It was rolled in to the tune of 'Yankee Doodle' played on the melodeon by Mrs. Truesdell's little daughter ten years old. The family remained in the building while it was being moved. Not being able to get lumber as fast as needed to build up the town, people are hauling in their houses," The same winter Crill & Zimmerman erected a hotel where the Barons House now stands. E.J. Jenkins took his claim in 1877 and begun building a residence. William McK. Burns was the first to erect a building for a law office and C.W. McDonald was second.
James Strain located forty acres on the north side of the town in November, having previously purchased the right of G.W. Andrews. Oliver Currier commenced the building of a stone dwelling house on Seventh street, where the Baptist church now stands. Henry Buckingham came over from Clyde and selected a building site on the northeast corner of Sixth and Broadway streets, erected a building, and moved his printing office from Clyde, where he edited and published the first newspaper, both in Clyde and Concordia - The Republican Valley Empire.
In November, 1870, Mr. Lanoue landed in Concordia with his saw mill, a very welcome acquisition, as the mill of Captain B.C. Sanders could not supply the demand for lumber. Mr. Hagaman donated from his land enough for the mill site and furnished forty thousand feet of logs to saw "on the shares" and turned his ferry over to him. The town company also gave him a block of land.
Charles 0. Huntress surveyed the land into lots, assisted by William McK. Burns and G.W. Andrews. There were over three thousand lots. Stephen Brownell did the platting. The survey and plat of the year before was followed as far as it went, which was forty acres in what is now the heart of the city.
That year the court house was erected; a temporary affair at a cost of something like two hundred and seventy-five dollars, the labor and material being donated by the citizens of Concordia and vicinity. It was hardly so imposing a structure as the one of the present writing, but was doubtless more of a burden for the people of the frontier to construct than the one they now justly feel so proud of was for the people of the county to build.
The winter of 1870-1 was a delightful one, and fortunate it was for the new town and the army of emigrants that rushed into the country. Very little snow fell, storms were moderate and far between. The ground bare most of the time, building went right on and when March arrived there were hundreds of people where only five months before there were scarcely dozens. Nearly two scores of buildings were erected and under way where a short time before was only an unbroken prairie.
The chill the town received from the political disaster that overtook one of its best friends, Sidney Clark, severe and damaging as it was, did not "kill the town" as had been predicted and as many of its friends feared it would. Before March the town company had assurance from competent authority there would be no change in the location of the land office, and when this fact became known, settlement and building took on a new start.
December 8, 1870, the incorporators of the Concordia Town Association elected the following officers: President, J.M. Hagaman; vice-president, Amos Cutler; secretary, William McK. Burns; treasurer, G.W. Andrews; directors, J.M. Hagaman, G.W. Andrews, William McK. Burns, S.D. Houston, Sr., and Amos Cutler.
The election of officers occurring eighteen days before the application of the charter was filed with the secretary of state is only one of the evidences of the rapid ways business was done in those times. The policy of the company was to give away alternate business lots to all who would build on them, and also the lots designed for residences, in order to help the town. Hundreds of lots under this system were given away.
Among other early settlers following were: William Conner, employed as clerk by Mr. Silver; J.S. Hoy, Monroe Wagoner, John Kisler, C.B. Clark, S.G. Jenkins, Thomas Lamay, C. Konock, James Rowe, B. Bordon, W.S. Wilson, __ Sutherland, James How, __ Pease, W. Hollenburg, James Hill, __ Lambling, H. Bramwell, A.W. Little and Charles Willard.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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