The first Sunday school held in the county was in the log store house of Lafe Manlove, at Monmouth, and was organized in 1866, Rev. Isaac Thorp being elected superintendent. Many people traveled for miles to attend this school.
The town of Cherokee was laid out in 1870 and first named Litchfield. Among the first who settled in Cherokee were Captain Jameson, who built the first hotel, the Grand Central. J. W. Fletcher built a small frame store building, and Grandpa Price built one also. Dr. Cushenberry (now of Girard) was the first druggist. George W. Brown and G. W. B. Hoffman also erected a store building known as the "Blue Front."
It was in the immediate neighborhood of Cherokee, that Hon. Eugene F. Ware, late commissioner of pensions, and the Kansas poet laureate, had his first experience as a frontiersman. He had taken a claim here, and with a long whip and several yoke of oxen broke prairie. Here he farmed, batched, and cracked jokes, and was as entertaining a talker then as now. Later he taught school, studied law, and by his energy, vim and push has gone to the head of the procession, but he belongs to Crawford county, and especially to Cherokee, even though he resides in the city of Washington and rides in the president's carriage.
Like all western towns, Cherokee in her early days had her rough side. Among the first of her business enterprises was a saloon, kept by Thomas McGrath, his place of business being a lumber shed. Here were enacted some of the wild west scenes common to such places.
The town of Cherokee was surveyed and laid out by Colonel Percy Daniels, since lieutenant governor of Kansas, and who resides on his farm near the site of Crawfordsville. Among the first settlers of Cherokee were George W. Brown, G. W. B. Hoffman, J. Manlove, Joseph and George Lucas, A. N. Chadsey, Captain Jameson, J. W. Fletcher, Dr. Bailey and J. F. Price, the present editor of the Cherokee Sentinel, Some of these reside at Cherokee yet, honored citizens, who have faithfully enacted their part, in building a thriving commercial and educational town. Others have moved away, while some have joined the great majority, and are peacefully resting from their labors. The county high school, a prosperous educational institution, is located here.
The first school in the town was taught by Sarah Jameson, afterward the wife of Hon. E. A. Perry, a prominent attorney at Cherokee. The first child born in the town was Willie Manlove, who lived but a short time, and his funeral was the occasion of the first sermon preached in the town, and his burial was the first in the now beautiful cemetery, the location of which was made by Captain Jameson and J. F. Price. The first churches organized in Cherokee were the Methodist Episcopal and the Presbyterian, the former by Rev. B. Coombs and the latter by Rev. Hawkins, now connected with the Mid-Continent, a religious paper published in St. Louis. The Christian church was organized on the 24th day of March, 1874, with twenty-one members. Other churches came later. The first mayor was J. M. Dennis. Three railroads furnish transportation to the people of Cherokee and vicinity. They belong to the Frisco System and the Missouri Pacific.
The town of Monmouth, so called after Monmouth, Illinois, was laid out by Lafayette Manlove, and was the third town laid out in the county. It is located six miles west of Cherokee. L. Manlove built the first building, a log store room. Ralph Warner built a residence, as also did Dr. Moore, who later represented Crawford county in the state senate. In 1869 A. M. Chadsey built a store room, and put in a stock of general merchandise. A postoffice was established in 1866, with L. Manlove postmaster. The building of a narrow-gauge railroad in the year 1879 from Cherokee to Parsons in Labette county, which passed through Monmouth, gave an impetus to the growth of the town, and good schools, churches, secret societies, and business enterprises sprang up and added materially to the conveniences of the people; which, added to the fact that the whole south end of the county is underlaid with an abundance of excellent coal, and that most excellent farming lands surround all the towns in that part of the county, has made the vicinity of Cherokee, Monmouth and McCune a very desirable location.
Four miles west of Monmouth is the city of McCune. The town was laid out in 1879, by Isaac McCune, and is located on the Frisco railroad. The first building erected was a dwelling, by J. Z. Sherfick, and was afterward used as a hotel. I. V. McCune built a store building, which was occupied by J. D. Rogers with a stock of general merchandise. At the time McCune was laid out a postoffice was kept by W. Welch, and was named "Time." This was about half a mile north of the townsite, and was moved into town, and J. F. McCune, appointed postmaster. The name was soon changed to McCune. Miss Mary Ball taught the first school, followed by Daniel Hollinger, who has for several years been growing oranges in Florida. McCune has had a substantial growth, and is now one of the best towns in the county. Churches, schools, newspapers, banks, in short, all classes of business are well represented, and the town is a busy, thriving, prosperous place.
Walnut is located near the northwestern corner of the county, and has two railroads, the M., K. & T. passing through the town from northeast to southwest; and the Santa Fe from southeast to northwest. The town is surrounded with excellent farming lands, and affords good facilities for trade. It was laid out in 1871. Among the early inhabitants of the town were Fabius Robins, J. Miller, Ira Boyle, H. Burns, H. Shackleton and J. A. Goff. The town was first named Glenwood, but afterward changed to Walnut. It is represented by all classes of business, and is prosperous; and the people are industrious and thriving. Good schools, churches, newspapers, banks and other institutions help to make Walnut a desirable place in which to live.
The town of Farlington is located seven miles north of Girard on the line of the Frisco railroad, and was laid out at the building of the road in 1869. But it has not progressed as rapidly as some other towns of the county. It is a good trading point, has good schools, churches, and a postoffice and other business places. The Kansas City, Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad (now Frisco) planted a grove of several hundred acres of catalpa trees on the hill west of the town, which has grown into a magnificent forest, probably the most notable of the kind in the United States. From it are annually cut large quantities of excellent timber for railroad ties, fence posts, etc. Here also is a large artificial lake, formed by the grade of the railroad across a rocky ravine. The lake covers about one hundred acres, and supplies water for railroad purposes and stock water, and abounds with excellent fish.
The town of Hepler is located in the township of Sherman, in the northern part of the county, about nine miles northeast of Walnut, on the M., K. & T. Railroad, and is a trading point for the people of the northwest part of Crawford county and the southwest part of Bourbon county. The first settler of Hepler was John Viets. In 1871 a town company was formed with B. F. Hepler as president, after whom the town was named. John Viets erected the first store building in 1871; and filled it with a stock of general merchandise, and by 1874 his buisness had so increased that another large room adjoining was built, and here could be found nearly every kind of merchandise. A postoffice was established in 1871, with J. N. Strawn as postmaster. The first marriage in the town was that of Dr. A. M. Griffin to Miss Grace Hitchcock. The first birth was that of Frank Strawn.
Among the first blessings that come to a Kansas town is a schoolhouse and a free school, and Hepler was no exception to the rule, for in 1873 a comfortable school building was erected, and Mr. William G. Little was employed to teach the first school. Hepler soon grew to an extensive shipping point for cattle and grain, as well as the minor products of the farm. The soil about the town for miles in every direction, being of good quality, has made this an excellent place for handling produce. Here butter, eggs, and poultry have found a ready market, and have been shipped to other points. Intellectually and morally Hepler is a good town in which to live.
The town of Opolis is located in the southeast corner of Crawford county, on the line of the Frisco railroad. It was first started by J. L. Davis, in 1868, and was called Stateline, as the eastern line of the town was the dividing line between Missouri and Kansas. Shortly after, E. B. Hoyt and J. H. could located in Stateline, and opened a store and lumber yard. They handled grain, hay and stock in connection with their merchandise business. In course of time the name was changed to Opolis. J. H. Ozburn was its first postmaster. Several churches are well represented and various secret societies have here a home. Nearly every class of business is carried on, and affords facilities for trade with the farming community in the surrounding country.
Pages 27-34 from A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by Davin Casada and other students at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, in September, 2002.
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