"O'er Sunny Kansas
Some Commercial Cadmus
In days unknown,
The teeth of-golden dragons
Must have sown,
For, when the prairies
Feel the breath of summer,
The Trowels ring,
And from the soil
The burnished cities spring."
|- Eugene Ware.|
According to historical tradition it was on the plains of Kansas that Coronado and his band suffered so many hardships in their search for the country of Quivira and its fabulous cities of gold. Crossing the state in a northeasterly direction he reached the Missouri river near the present site of Atchison. Not finding the treasure, they erected a cross bearing the incription, Thus far came Francisco de Coronado - general of an expedition, and returned home to Mexico." They described the country rich in fruits and with a soil similar to the finest fertile regions of their own country - Spain.
In the early part of the eighteenth century Kansas was visited at various times and explored by the French, who mingled with the numerous tribes of Indians that dwelt along the Arkansas and Kansas rivers. In 1803 the state became a part of the "Louisiana Purchase" and a portion of it afterward became a part of the Indian Territory. The state was organized as a territory in 1854.
The territory embraced with the present area of the state all the lands between the parallels of 36 degrees and 40 degrees north latitude to the Rocky mountains on the west except that part of New Mexico lying north of the 37th parallel, with the exception of a small tract. This was a part of the above mentioned Louisiana Purchase made by President Jefferson from France, April 30, 1803. The terms of this treaty were to deed to the United States all the country drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries, of which she had any right or title.
The boundary line on the south and southwest touched the Spanish Mexican possessions, and on the east the Spanish province of West Florida. On the west shore of the Mississippi it extended to its source embracing all the Missouri valley, and stretched north of the Spanish American possessions across the Rocky mountains to the Pacific ocean, and as far north on the Pacific coast as the British possessions. For this vast domain the United States paid France the sum of $15,000,000. The province of Louisiana thus acquired comprised 1,160,577 square miles.
Its eastern and western boundaries were not definitely settled between this country and Spain until February 22, 1819, at which time a treaty was made defining these boundaries wherever contiguous to Spanish territory. In consideration for the reliquishment[sic] by the United States of her claim to Texas, Spain ceded West Florida (now Alabama and Mississippi) and relinquished to the United States all claim to territory lying north of the 31st parallel and east of the Mississippi river.
Thus that portion of Kansas lying west of the 23rd meridian and south of the Arkansas river was ceded to Spain. When Mexico achieved its independence in 1824, it passed into the possession of that republic. In 1836, Texas, on gaining her independence, claimed it as a part of her domain, which claim was subsequently confirmed by the treaty of the United States and Mexico, at the expiration of the war, February 22, 1848. It finally became a part of the government domain by purchase, it being a part of the territory ceded to the United States by Texas in 1850, that state receiving $10,000,000 as a consideration.
The origin of the word Kansas is Indian, and means smoky river, derived from the tribe of Indians found in the territory when first visited by white men. They were spoken of by the early explorers as Kanzas, Canceas, Cansez, Canzas, Canzes, Okansis, Kansies, Canses, Canzon, Kanzon, Konza, Konzas, Kasas, Kanzan, Kanzans and by various others, all having a similar phonetic sound. From these have come the legal recognition of the present word Kansas, which is said to signify in the language of the Kansas tribe, smoky, and the south fork of the Kansas river is still known as Smoky Hill river.
The first move for a territorial government made within the limits of Kansas was at the trading post of Uniontown in 1852. A mass meeting was held at this point by the American citizens of the Indian territory. The proceedings are alluded to in a sketch of the early days of Pottawatomie county by Hon. L.D. Palmer as follows:
About one-half dozen persons, residents of the state of Missouri, assembled together in a shed. One of them took from his hat a paper upon which had been written a set of resolutions brought all the way from Missouri, and asked the assembled multitude to vote on them. One individual said 'aye;' noes were not called for. Two or three of these were sporting gentlemen and the others were merchants who had furnished goods for the Indians and always came at such times to collect. These resolutions recited that there were hundreds of families in that vicinity in the interior of the territory who were bona fide settlers, the lives and property of whom were in constant jeopardy for want of civil protection and memorialized congress to organize a territorial government. They purported to be the unanimous expression of large class of citizens assembled together for the purpose of calling the attention of congress to the perils that threatened them."
Petitions passed at this meeting were presented at the first session of the thirty-second congress by Honorable William P. Hall, a Missouri member, who, in the following session, presented the first bill in congress providing for the organization of the territory in accordance with the papers of his Uniontown "constituency." In the autumn of 1852 an election was held at Wyandotte and thirty-five votes were polled for Abelard Guthrie as territorial delegate to congress. As no territorial bill was passed for more than two years, the election proved an empty honor. The manuscript copies of the returns of this election are among the collections of the Kansas Historical Society.
July 28, 1853, a convention was held at Wyandotte, a territorial government organized and Abelard Guthrie nominated for delegate to congress. His competitor for the nomination was Reverend Thomas Johnson, a staunch pro-slavery man and a friend of Atchison. A bolting convention was held at Kickapoo village September 20, 1853, and Johnson was placed in nomination as opposition candidate. He was elected over Guthrie, it is claimed, by Indian votes. He went to Washington, but owing to the delay in passing the territorial bill, was not received as a delegate.
The act organizing Kansas and Nebraska was passed May 27, and approved by the President May 30, 1854. The officers appointed by President Pierce, whose appointments were confirmed by the senate, and who entered upon the duties of their office, were Governor Andrew H. Reeder, of Eaton, Pennsylvania, June 29, 1854. He took the oath of office before Peter V. Daniel, one of the justices of the supreme court of the United States at Washington, July 7. He arrived in Fort Leavenworth on Saturday, October 7, and became the executive head of the Kansas government, personally assuming the functions of that office with a salary of $2,500 per annum. He was removed from office July 28, 1855; he received official notice of his removal and ceased to act as governor August 15, The secretary, Honorable Daniel Woodson, became acting governor during the remaining part of the session of the territorial legislature.
August 10th Honorable Wilson Shannon was commissioned governor. He resigned August 21, 1856, and on the same day received official notice of this removal and the appointment of Honorable John W. Geary as his successor. Governor Geary resigned March 4, 1857. Secretary Woodson again became acting governor from April 16th, when Mr. Geary's political and official connection with Kansas affairs terminated, to May 27, when his successor arrived. The successors of both Geary and Woodson were appointed March 10, 1857, Honorable Robert J. Walker receiving the appointment of governor and Honorable Frederick P. Stanton as secretary of the territory, to be acting governor until the arrival of Mr. Walker on December 17.
Governor Walker resigned December 21st; John W. Denver took the oath of office and served until October 10, 1858, when he resigned. Samuel Medary was appointed November 19th and arrived in the territory and entered upon the duties of his office December 20th. He resigned December 17, 1860, and George M. Beebe, then secretary of the territory, became acting governor and continued in this capacity until the inauguration of the state government February 9, 1861.
Daniel Woodson, of Lynchburg, Virginia, was appointed secretary June 29th with a salary of $2,000 per annum. Israel P. Donaldson, of Illinois, was appointed United States marshal with a salary of $300 per annum and fees. Madison Brown, of Maryland, was appointed chief justice and he not accepting was superceded by Samuel D. Lecompte, of Maryland, who was appointed October 3rd, and took the oath of office before Governor Reeder, of Leavenworth, December 5th, at a salary of $2,000 per annum. Associate justices Saunders N. Johnson and Rush Elmore, salaries $2,000 per annum. Attorney, Andrew J. Isaac, salary $250 per annum and fees. Surveyor, General John Calhoun, of Illinois, appointed August 26th. Territorial treasurer, Thomas J.R. Cramer, appointed August 29th.
The governor after his arrival set promptly to work to organize his government. He made a tour of observation taking in the most important and remote settlements in the eastern part of the territory extending as far west as Fort Riley and Council Grove. His reception was enthusiastic. The proclamation for the first election in Kansas under date November 10, 1854, was issued November 15th.
Four constitutions were framed as the organic law, before Kansas was admitted to the union. The Topeka constitution, the first in order, was adopted by the convention which framed it November 11, 1855, and by the people of the territory at an election held December 15, 1855. November 7, 1857, the Lecompton constitution was adopted by the convention which framed it. It was submitted to a vote of the people by the convention December 21, 1857, the form of the vote prescribed being for a constitution with slavery and for a constitution without slavery. No opportunity was afforded at this election to vote against the constitution and the free state people of the territory refrained from taking part in it. The territorial legislature having been summoned in extra session by acting Governor F.P. Stanton, passed an act submitting the Lecompton constitution to a vote of the people at an election to be held January 4, 1858. Result, 138 votes were cast for the constitution and 10,226 against it. Notwithstanding this overwhelming vote against the constitution it was sent to Washington by its partisans. President Buchanan transmitted it to the senate urging the admission of the state under it, thus inaugurating the great contest which resulted in the division of the Democratic party, the election of Abraham Lincoln and the final overthrow of the slave power. The house of representatives on July 3, 1856, passed a bill for the admission of Kansas into the union under the Topeka constitution. Had the bill become a law, Kansas would have been saved the five years of turmoil and strife which elapsed before she was admitted, into the union.
The Topeka constitution had located the capital temporarily in Topeka; other towns were ambitious of becoming the seat of government. Minneola, a town existing only on paper and created for this purpose, was successfully carried through the legislature. The bill locating the seat of government of the territory at Minneola was passed over the governor's veto and two days later the bill calling a constitutional convention, fixing Minneola as the place where it would assemble, was also passed.
The "Minneola swindle" as it was called, created a sensation throughout the territory and denounced as a scheme to further the finances of members of the legislature who were personally interested in the town. The public condemned the act severely and many of the delegates were instructed to vote for an immediate adjournment of that body to some other point. This brought about a long and acrimonious debate. The session was prolonged the entire night and during the morning hours a motion was passed to adjourn and fixed Leavenworth as the next meeting place.
The convention reassembled in Leavenworth on the evening of March 25th. The constitution which became known as the Leavenworth constitution was adopted and signed on April 3rd. It was adopted by the people on May 18, 1858, and on the same day the following state officers were elected under it, viz: Governor, Henry J. Adams, of Leavenworth; lieutenant governor, Cyrus K. Holliday, of Topeka; secretary of state, E.P. Bancroft, of Emporia; treasurer, J.B. Wheeler, of Doniphan; auditor, George S. Hellyer, of Grasshopper Falls; attorney general, Charles A. Foster, of Osawatomie; superintendent of public instruction, J.M. Walden, of Quindaro; commissioner of school lands, J.W. Robinson, of Manhattan; representative in congress, M.F. Conway, of Lawrence; supreme judges, William A. Phelps, of Lawrence, Lorenzo Dow, of Topeka, and William McKay, of Wyandotte; reporter of the supreme court, Albert D. Richardson, of Sumner; clerk of the supreme court, W.F.N. Arny, of Hyatt.
Kansas is larger than New York and Indiana combined and has over 52,000,000 acres of land. The north line of the state is on a parallel with Philadelphia, Columbus, Ohio, and Springfield, Illinois, while the southern boundary is on a line east and west with Norfolk, West Virginia. The state is 400 miles long, east, and west, and about 200 Miles in width. The state dips to the east and south and nearly all the streams run in that direction. Where Kansas touches Missouri it reaches an altitude of 750 feet higher than the sea, while at the western line it is nearly 4,000 feet above tide water.
Kansas is purely an agricultural state and people of all professions and callings have farms or are engaged in farming and stock raising. Nothing depends more on the capacity of the brain for success than agricultural pursuits. The banker with soft white hands and a complexion that does not suggest life on a farm, will tell you of his prospects, his stock interests, etc. The merchant discusses his profits and losses on the farm. The M.D.'s from whom one would expect a dissertation of medicine instead, tells you he is doing thus and so on his farm. The attorney with a large clientage and prospering in his profession is also interested in agricultural pursuits. The minister in his conventional suit of black broadcloth is often more or less concerned in farming. The clerk tells of the harvesting of his wheat crop or the outlook of his corn fields; thus all classes of people are more or less directly or indirectly interested in farming, and all have common interests in the inviting fields of Kansas, with its bountiful crops.
During the years of 1873-4 Kansas was advertised throughout the eastern and middle states and a great tide of emigration came pouring in and continued for many months. They were from all the states, and of all professions, but many of them practical farmers and nearly all of more or less means. The pioneer settlers had paved the way for the later emigrants and to them unlimited credit is due for their courage and valor, during the prevailing Indian troubles, grasshoppers, drouths, and the hardships due to early settlements.
The years of 1874-5 were the most disastrous Kansas has ever known. More especially is this true of the western portion. The people of Kansas possess the secret of contentment whose value is more to them than the philosopher's stone, and these years were followed by several abundant harvests which largely and rapidly increased the population, although remote from markets and produce had to be hauled long distances in wagons to the nearest railroad station. With the bringing of the railroad facilities the state was made one of the most prosperous countries on the continent.
The preference for good schools and churches and all humane and beneficient social appliances and public improvements characterized the people of Kansas. These western pioneers did not only want to redeem the desert and wilderness but transfigure it into cultivated fields and handsome homes. The west doubtless seemed to be much further west than it does in these days of railroads, telephones and modern improvements. Less than a half century ago it was a question if this vast buffalo range would ever be adapted to agriculture.
No country can chronicle a more marvelous change in the conditions of things within a quarter of a century, than the state of Kansas. The hardy pioneer well remembers how he used to look over his fields still uncultivated, perhaps, but covered with a cast iron mortgage and interest growing daily in proportion, that would strike terror to the stoutest heart. He next sees the drouth and the implacable army of grasshoppers approaching, and within a few hours all his prospects are laid waste. They covered the trees, the fences, darkened the sky and ruin was sown broadcast on every hand.
it has been truthfully said, "The hope of America is the homes of America," and when the homestead law was passed by which every American citizen or person declaring their intention to become such, tens of thousands of homes were established and the individual blessings it brought to this fair land can not be estimated. The enterprising, progressive spirit and early experiences of the men and women who first settled in Kansas, are widely known and to their credit must be attributed the foundation laid for the greatness and prosperity her citizens are now enjoying.
Pride must swell the hearts of those early settlers as they now look upon this fair domain which ranks among the finest states of the union. There is an element of romance and sentiment in the history of Kansas that stands distinctly a part of its realty, that belongs to no other state. The pioneer suffered, but we cannot imagine a true hero who has not. It ennobles, elevates and draws humanity nearer together in bonds of sympathy that win the admiration and reverence of men. It is evident the people are reaping in comfort what they have sown in trials and tribulation.
For years the whole state of Kansas, figuratively speaking, was under mortgage and the amount of interest that went into the eastern money bags was astounding, but there is wiser financiering at the present time. Those who succeeded in lifting the burden were more conservative and adopted the wise old system, "Pay as you go," There are comparatively few farmers now unfettered and the money that once went to eastern capitalists is kept within their own state and has brought to them wealth and financial independence.
In 1877 Kansas ranked eleventh in the United States in wheat and the following year jumped into the first rank, the total yield being 32,315,371 bushels and the same year ranked fourth in corn.
The people of Kansas burned millions of bushels of corn in 1872-3 and millions more rotted in the fields, it being in so exceeding abundance as to only command the low price of from 10 to 20 cents per bushel. The following years as if in retribution for their extravagance two-thirds of all the hogs and cattle in Kansas had to be sold because of the scarcity of corn and elevators and granaries that were filled the year before were conspicuous for their emptiness.
Burning corn was tested as to the expense incurred in using it as fuel and it was found that even when abundant and cheap, it was more expensive than coal or wood, thus a practical test showed that corn was never intended to be used as a fuel.
During this period when every incoming train was freighted with humanity enroute to suffering Kansas, John C. Whittier wrote the poem entitled:
"We crossed the prairies as of old
The Pilgrims crossed the sea,
To make the West as they the East
The homestead of the free.
We go to rear a wall of men
We're flowing from our native hills
We go to plant her common schools
Upbearing like the ark of old
Nor pause nor rest save where the streams
We'll tread the prairies as of old
Kansas stood head in the production of wheat in 1884, the yield being 3,000,000 bushels more than any state in the union. Kansas was in the lead, headed the procession and carried off the banner prize at the World's Fair held in New Orleans in 1885. A long list of premiums that swelled the heart of every Kansan with pride was won by the "Sunflower" state.
The awarding committee gave Kansas the first premium on white corn and the first on yellow, and the jury recommended that in addition she be given a gold medal for the best corn in the world.
She was also awarded the first premium on red winter wheat. The first premium on flour by the graduated process was awarded to Bliss & Wood, of Winfield, Kansas. The first on flour by the old process to Pierson Brothers, of Lawrence, Kansas.
Kansas took sixty-five miscellaneous first and second premiums and in the face of great odds, as the legislature only appropriated for the display $7,000 and yet Kansas led the world, and felt that she was "The salt of the earth. She received these premiums against the severest competition in the middle and northwest states.
Alfalfa is fast becoming the chief forage crop of Kansas. Once thoroughly started it firmly stands the drouth better than the tame grass; is very productive, yielding three crops on an average in a season, not counting the seed, which, when threshed, is marketed at a good profit.
Alfalfa is much more nutritious than prairie hay and is equal to a gold mine to the hog raiser. The absence of tame grass has been a serious draw back to this country and alfalfa supplies this long felt want.
In a speech at Downs, delivered on July 4, 1884, paying tribute to the state of Kansas Judge Borton, of Clyde, excited the risibilities of the audience by saying: "He had been all over the United States and that Kansas was God's country, and it had been said that the world was created in six days and three of these were spent on Kansas, the rest of the world having been thrown together most any way. In New York, for instance, it is so rough that when they set a goose they have to dig a hole for its tail. Down in Tennessee the ground is so transparent you can see down a foot and must be manured three years before it will make brick."
Kansas is, and has ever been, patriotic and during the war was in the thickest of it all, and at one time had twenty thousand men in the army out of a voting population of less than twenty-two thousand and gave more lives to the country's cause in proportion to the number of troops engaged than any other state of the Union.
We shall not dwell at length upon the drouth and hot winds of Kansas, for too much has already been said and written upon this subject and exaggerating opinions have been formed by people abroad. The weather in Kansas is somewhat capricious but the citizens generally have become philosophical and do not predict desolation, death and destruction, as they did in the earlier settlement of the country.
When the dry weather begins to make itself felt the Kansan naturally begins to grow alarmed at what may happen and the "calamity howlers" and "croakers" are teeming with predictions of a gloomy nature. "If it don't rain within one week we won't have any wheat," or "The corn crop will be a total failure," etc. But within the forty-two years that Kansas has been a state there has been few entire failures.
Much is said about the weather by prophets and weather predictors, but the fact is demonstrated almost every year (the present year not excepted) that no man can tell what a month will bring forth. The predictions of the weather-wise fall wide of the mark, the learned sage has been devoured and the weather-wise parched by the hot winds, or drowned in the floods.
The coal measures of Kansas are a part of an immense field which covers nearly all of eastern Kansas, the northwestern half of Missouri, southeastern Nebraska, southern Iowa and a large part of the Indian territory, south. The Kansas bed is in the western part of this field, showing the thickest and most valuable strata in the following counties: Cherokee, Labette, Crawford, Neosho, Bourbon, Montgomery, Chautauqua, Elk, Wilson, Allen, Anderson, Woodson, Coffey, Linn, Franklin, Osage and Miami, also the eastern part of Greenwood and Lyon counties. Deposits exist in paying quantities in most of these localities. In several of these counties the mining and shipping of coal constitute one of the important industries and are a constantly increasing source of wealth. The deposits range in thickness from twenty to fifty inches.
As their various strata show the coal measures were alternately beneath and above the salt seam, the changes occurring many times during, their formation and has left its unquestionable record in its organic remains, which embrace the marine fossils in the lime stone and other sea formations, while the intermediate deposits and the coal seams, abound in vegetable and annual remains of terrestial life. Building material, fuel, fertilizers, etc., are found in abundance. Stone suitable for building purposes is found in nearly all parts of the state. The varieties include magnesian lime stone, blue and gray lime stone and great quantities of sand, and flagging stone. Stone from the Kansas quarries is used in some of the finest buildings in the country.
Material suitable for the manufacture of ordinary brick exists everywhere. The banks along the water courses furnish sand. The lime stone affords an abundant supply of quick lime, thus the requisites of building exists in abundance and consequently are remarkably cheap in all parts of the state. Beds of bituminous coal valuable for fuel and for manufacturing uses are found in the central districts of the state. A fine quality of natural gas has been discovered in some parts of the state and is being extensively used for light, fuel and manufacturing purposes. New developments are constantly coming to life and gas and oil are being struck in unexpected quarters. Lead mines are profitably worked in the south-eastern part of the state. Zinc is also found in paying quantities.
Kansas has taken its place among the large producers of salt of the best quality known to commerce. Since 1867, salt has been made from brine obtained from wells near the mouth of the Solomon river. An extended area in the central part of the state is underlaid with rock salt. It is found at depths varying from four hundred and fifty to nine hundred and twenty-five feet. The thickness of the salt itself is from one hundred and twenty-five to two hundred and fifty feet. These beds of salt produced last year (1901) one million six hundred and forty-five thousand three hundred and fifty barrels of salt.
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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