While we were still a part of Neosho county, we were recognized by its authorities as being of sufficient importance to be provided with at least apparent municipal privileges. The first official record which I have found, directly tending to give us these privileges, was made March 6, 1865, by the commissioners of Neosho county, at which time, in dividing the county into municipal townships, they formed Mission township, and made it embrace all south of Canville township as far south as the county line, and established Osage Mission as the voting-place of the township. By this order of the commissioners, the southern part of Neosho county, and all of what is now Labette county, was embraced in one township, with Osage Mission as the headquarters thereof. The next official action affecting our municipal affairs was made by the commissioners of Neosho county on July 2, 1866, the record of which is as follows:
"On motion, it was resolved that the south line of Mission township shall be designated as follows: By a line running due east and west across three miles due south of Osage Catholic Mission.
"On motion, it was resolved that there be a township organized to be called Lincoln township, and to be bounded as by a line running due east and west from a point two miles north of the mouth of Hickory Creek across, the county, on the north by Mission township, on the east by the county line, and on the west by, the county line. Place of voting, Trotter's ford, on the Neosho river, at Patterson's store.
"On motion, it was resolved that there be a new township organized south of Lincoln township, to be called Grant township, bounded as follows: On the north by Lincoln township, on the east by county line, and on the south by line running due east and west from Reaves's mill-site on the Neosho River, on the west by county line. Place of voting, Montana.
"On motion, it was resolved that there be a new township organized south of Grant township, to be called Labette township; said township to he bounded as follows: On the north by the south line of Grant township, on the east by the county line, on the south by the county line, on the west by the county line. Place of voting: J. S. Steel's house."
This provision made a strip something over a mile in width of what is now Labette county a part of Lincoln township, and the remainder of Labette county was divided into Grant and Labette townships.
Before the organization of Labette county, the governor appointed two justices of the peace: one, George Bennett, residing at Montana; and the other C. H. Talbot, residing at Oswego. From the record in the office of the Secretary of State, it would seem that two orders were made for the appointment of Mr. Bennett one on May 15, and the other on June 8, 1866. I do not know what was the cause of this. On July 3, 1866 the commissioners of Neosho county approved Mr. Bennett's bond as justice of the peace, which made him the first legally qualified civil officer residing in what is now Labette county. Mr. Talbot was appointed September 24, 1866, and probably qualified soon thereafter, although I have not the date of his qualification.
Upon the appointment of the commissioners for the organization of the county, before calling an election, they divided the county into nine precincts: four in range 21, the south one of which they named Chetopa; three in the central part of the county, designated North, Labette and Hackberry; and two in the western part, which they designated Timber Hillor (or possibly Big Hill, as Mr. Dickerman, then county clerk, says), and Pumpkin Creek. However this name is not given at all in any record we now have, but in the first reference to this part of the county in the commissioners' proceedings, it is called Canada. Of the division thus made there was no change until November 21, 1867, excepting to more definitely organize Timber Hill and Canada townships. The only change subsequently made was to divide some of these townships and create new municipalities.
The settlement of this township commenced in the summer of 1865. I have found no one I who knows the date of the first settlement, nor even who the first settler was. Much of the information from which this account is made is derived from James W. Galyen, who settled on the south half of section 8, township 31, range 21, Dec. 25, 1865. When he came there were already along the river several families, all of whom had come that fall and winter; so that it may be safely said that the settlement of the township did not commence prior to September of that year. It is probable that the first settlers in the township were a company who came from Texas, composed of a Jones family and a Cox family, each containing quite a number of individuals, and some others. They seemed to have been on their way north, without any very definite point of destination in view, and were camping along the river in this township, allowing their stock to feed, when they heard of the proposed treaty with the Osages and concluded to locate there. Among those who were located when Mr. Galyen came were: Jesse Frye, on section 9; a man by the name of John Buck, on the east side of the river; Newton Lowery, on section 5; and Mr. Spriggs, on section 16. Mr. Spriggs had a pole shanty on his claim at this time, but never brought his family here, and sold his claim to Asa Rogers. Craig Coffield and Clark Coffield located on section 28, in November; Holland and Baldwin were located on section 4. At the close of 1865 it is probable that there were not to exceed a dozen families in the township, and some of these were only there for the purpose of holding the claims until they could get something out of them and then leave. In 1866 many more settlers came in, and much was done toward improving the claims taken. Messrs. Brown and Sampson R. Robinson brought a saw mill from Bourbon county and located it on section 4, in the fall of 1866, and soon had it in operation. This was the first mill in operation in the county, and from it Mr. Galyen got the first lumber that was made, which he used to make a floor for his cabin. All the cabins up to this time had nothing but dirt floors. Of the settlers who came about this time I may mention William Logan, who came early in 1866. He ran a blacksmith shop at Jacksonville; was the first trustee of the township, having been elected at the election in April, 1867, and was elected county commissioner in the fall of 1867, and figured quite largely in the local affairs in that part of the county. Nathan Ames came in the latter part of 1866, and settled on sections 16 and 17, and at once became one of the leading spirits in the new settlement. Messrs. Pringle and Marguad settled on section 21 the same fall.
On July 4, 1866, the first celebration in that part of the county was held in Kenney's grove on the northwest quarter of section 23. All the settlers in that part of the county gathered here to see each other and participate in the celebration. Dr. Thurman, who lived on section 22, read the Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1867, another celebration was held, this time in Logan's grove, at which J. F. Bellamy, who had shortly before that time moved into the vicinity, gave the address.
A Mr. Owens was located on the northeast quarter of section 5, in 1866. His wife was an enthusiastic worker, and that summer opened in their own house and conducted the first Sunday-school in the township, which was continued until the winter. We have no account of any preaching in the township until 1867, when Joseph Rogers, who was a Methodist local preacher living on section 16, west of the river, commenced holding services at private houses at different points in the township. After the school-house in district 16 was completed, Rev. Jackson Statton commenced preaching there, and continued for some time to hold services.
The first school in the township was taught by Mrs. Abigail Ames, wife of Samuel Ames, in their own house on the northwest quarter of section 14, in the spring of 1868. That fall E. H. Taylor commenced teaching school in a house on section 5, and finished in the log school-house which the citizens turned out and constructed that fall. In this school-house, as soon as it was finished a literary society was organized, of which Mr. Taylor was president, and at the meetings nearly all the people in that part of the county were present.
West of the Neosho River on both sides of the county line, partly in section 5 in this county, partly in Neosho county, was situated one of White Hair's towns. This was abandoned about the time the white settlers commenced coming in here. About 100 graves could be counted on this site, in some of which the frame of the occupant was still sitting and well preserved. The burying was done by piling stones over the lower extremities, leaving the body in a sitting posture, and then piling up stones around it. When the settlers came here they found the remains of an old building on section 4, the posts still standing, giving evidence that at some prior time the Catholics from the Mission had probably had a station. The mile-posts between the Cherokee Neutral Lands and the Osage Reservation were still standing as they had been placed there by the surveyors when the lines had been run.
T. D. G. Marquad and Mary Buck were married, it is said, in April, 1866; if this is correct it must have been the first mariage[sic] in the county after the war.
In May, 1866, Mr. and Mrs. Hampton had born to them twins, named John and Mary.
There has been no change in the boundary of the east tier of townships from the time of their organization. They were all laid off by the commissioners appointed for the organization of the county, prior to the first election. There is no record of their organization prior to November 21, 1867, when the whole county was laid off into townships, at which time it was declared, "Neosho township No. 1 shall include town 31, R. 21." Two voting precincts have been maintained in the township almost from its organization - one on the east and the other on the west side of the Neosho. There is no record showing who were elected officers in April, 1867, but on October 23, 1867, the resignation of John W. Ankron as justice of the peace is accepted, and the record subsequently shows J. B. Graham to be one of the justices of the peace. On January 14, 1868, "It is hereby ordered, that the office of township trustee in Neosho township be declared vacant, as the present holder of said office has been elected to a county office." This evidently refers to William Logan, who had been elected and qualified as one of the county commissioners, and it is safe to say he was the trustee elected in April, 1867. On the day on which the office was declared vacant as above, Anthony Amend was appointed to fill the vacancy. For some reason which I do not know, no election was held in this township in April, 1868, and the following officers were appointed by the commissioners: Anthony Amend, trustee; N. H. Hopkins, clerk; S. K. Robinson, treasurer; J. B. Thurman and William Fish, justices of the peace; John Summers and Noah Frye, constables; John Radfield, road overseer.
The officers of this township were the first to take steps toward bridging the streams. The action of the trustees created a good deal of dissatisfaction. It was claimed that a "job was put up" by which a large amount of money was to be paid by the township and received by some one for inferior bridges. A tax of 1 1/4 mills was levied in 1868 for building bridges.
In the spring of 1866 a firm of millers at Iola sent some teams loaded with flour and meal down the Neosho, to sell to the settlers along the river. Two teams came into what is now Labette county, and on their return made such a favorable report of the county that several in that vicinity, and some connected with the mill came down. Among these were Messrs. Carr, McBride, Wells, Ballentine, and Smith; the latter settled at the junction of the Big and Little Labette, and put up a small shanty. Mr. Ballentine paid Mr. Smith $60 for this claim, which took in most of the timber at this point. just previous to this, Zack Fultz had laid a foundation on a claim adjoining this on the east, and when the survey was made, the improvements of the two claims were found to be on the same quarter. Mr. Fultz paid Mr. Ballentine $200 for his improvements, and got the claim. Mr. Ballentine then bought Mr. Hart's claim, on section 36, where he settled and made his home. Mr. Hart then moved over to the Labette, in Liberty township, just below the mouth of Bachelor Creek. Fred Latham settled on section 27, and his father-in-law, Mr. Keys, upon a claim just west of the creek. About the same time William Tolen settled in the northern part of the township, and gave the name to a little stream, "Tolen Branch." In July, 1867, the following settlements were made: Albert Porter and W. H. Porter, on section 20; William Fultz, on section 17; Abraham Cary, on section 18; John Kendall, on section 19.
In the fall of 1868 Moses Steel and his brother Len Steel brought a saw mill and put it in the forks of the Little and Big Labette, and had it in operation early in 1869.
In June, 1869, Abraham Cary brought from Lawrence the first reaper and mower that was had in this part of the county.
Originally North township included its present territory and also the east half of what is Walton township, and on November 21, 1867, in reforming the townships the commissioners ordered that "North township No. 7 shall include town 31, R. 19, 20," and it continued with these bounds until Walton township was detached. There seems to have been no election held in this township in April, 1867, at the time when the first county and township officers were elected. On October 4th an order was made by the commissioners for an election to be held for township officers in this township at the November election following. At this time the following officers were elected: Samuel Ballentine, trustee; William Scott and David B. Stevens, justices of the peace; James M. Clayton and D. W. Reed, constables; and John Steward, road supervisor. These were the first township officers. There is no record of either clerk or treasurer being elected at this time. On April 7, 1868, the following officers were elected: Samuel Ballentine, trustee; J. D. Keys, clerk; F.W. Latham, treasurer; William Porter and A. Medkiff, justices of the peace; William Fultz and Oscar Knowles, constables; and Zack Fultz, road overseer. In April, 1869, H. Singleton was elected trustee, and Samuel Ballentine treasurer. By some arrangement made at the time, which does not appear of record, Mr. Ballentine, instead of taking the office of treasurer, was continued as trustee for another year.
The first settler in Walton township was Jefferson Davis, who came in June, 1866, and located on the southeast quarter of section 22. In August of that year the Weekly family, consisting of Luther, Perry, John, and Mary, located on section 17, and David Edwards on the northeast quarter of section 23. In the spring of 1867 Merrit Mason came, and bought the northeast quarter of section 17 from Mr. Weekly, and thereon made his home. In the fall of 1866 John Collins settled on the southeast quarter of section 36. Perhaps during these years there may have been a few other settlers along the Little Labette, but if so I have not learned the names of such. In 1869 the township received a large number of settlers. On May 1st Nelson Parker settled on the southwest quarter of section 27, and about the middle of May J. A. Jones settled on the northeast quarter of section 26; not far from the same time Alexander Ables and William Ables on the east half of section 29, George T. Walton on section 16, J. M. Gregory on section 26. W. A. Disch, E. P. Emery, S. R. Hill, John Parker, C. C. Kinnison and R. P. Clark were all there before the opening of 1870; and on February 5, 1870, S. B. Shafer settled on the southwest quarter of section 21.
During the summer of 1869 quite a large number of Catholics settled in the northern part of the township, and have ever since been among the most thrifty and progressive settlers of that vicinity.
Walton township was a part of North township as originally constituted. An order of the commissioners was made on April 6, 1870, on the petition of G. T. Walton, M. S. Mason, T. O'Connor, and some 50 other electors, for the organization of township 31, range 19, into a municipal township to be called Walton, and the following officers were appointed: Merrit S. Mason, trustee; A. C. Perkins, clerk; Timothy O'Connor, treasurer; Jason Luncinford, constable. On account of ill-health Mr. Mason was granted permission to appoint a deputy to assist in performing the duties of trustee.
The settlement of what is now Osage township dates from the fall of 1866. The first person to locate within the present bounds of this township was Thomas May and family, who settled upon the northwest quarter of section 5, township 32, range 18, in September, 1866, where he died the following year. There being no lumber in that locality, the neighbors sawed up a wagon-bed and made a coffin in which to bury him. The next settler was Milton A. Buckles, who came December 3, 1866, and settled on the northwest quarter of section 33. Isaac Vance located with his family on the southeast quarter of section 29, township 31, range 18, on which he died, in 1870. Harvey Beggs settled on the southeast quarter of section 7, township 32, range 18, and after living on it several years moved away in 1871. Solomon Adams and family resided on the northwest quarter of section 6, township 32, range 18, till 1870, when he moved away. On the southeast quarter of this same section Harvey Waymire made his home, and put up the first saw mill in the township in May, 1869. In the fall of 1869 the engine with which the saw mill was run exploded, and killed Mr. Waymire and Mr. Worley.
In 1867 many settlers came in, of whom I will mention a few: Felix Oliphant, John Oliphant, Frank Larberdy, John Frost, Thomas J. Vance, George Vance, W. H. Carpenter, J. H. Dienst, Jacob D. Dick, Henry Griffith and Alexander W. King are among those who that year helped to develop the county. Of those who came in 1868, F. M. Webb, W. H. Webb, J. H. Beatty, J. A. Newman, W. M. Rogers and Leroy F. Dick may be mentioned as active promoters of the general spirit of enterprise.
William A. Starr, William Dick, J. L. Jaynes, John Carson, C. J. Darling, P. B. Darling, J. S. Masters, J. B. Swart, Jacob Warner, John Robinson, W. H. Thorne, G. W. Blake and W. W. Blake settled in 1869 and 1870, and each added a fair share to the prosperity and development of the township. Did I know all the settlers and were I acquainted with all the facts, others might probably be mentioned who are as worthy as any whom I have named; but these are named as a fair sample of those who first settled and developed this northwest corner of the county.
Mrs. Elizabeth A. King, who with her husband, A. W. King, had settled on the southwest quarter of section 28, township 31, range 18, in June, 1867, taught the first school in the township, in the summer of 1868, as I am told by Mr. King, in their cabin on his claim. It was a free school for the few children then in the neighborhood.
The first celebration in the township was July 4, 1869, on the northwest quarter of section 29. Milton Buckles read the Declaration of Independence. The day was principally given up to a picnic and social enjoyment.
In the fall of 1867 the citizens met and put up a big house on Pleasant May's claim in the bottom on the west side of the creek, on section 5, in township 32, to be used for religious and other gatherings. In this the first Sunday-school was organized, in the spring of 1868, with Pleasant May as superintendent. A. W. King was the first preacher in the township. He, with David Stanfield, J. S. Harryman, and Sheldon Parker, of the Methodist church, and J. L. Masters, of the Christian church, dispensed the Gospel for several years over quite a portion of the new settlements in the western part of the county.
The first store in the township was started in 1868, on the southeast quarter of section 33, township 31, range 18, by Luther Weakly and Frank Larberdy. In the fall of 1869, G. W. and W. W. Blake put in a stock of general merchandise in a building erected on the townsite of Timber Hill, which they continued to deal in until 1871.
Dr. Lakins was the first in the township to offer his services as an aid to those desiring relief from physical ailments. He died a number of years ago, but his faithful mule, "Joab," it is said, still survives him. In 1869 Dr. Boutillier opened a small drug store, which he ran in connection with his practice.
The following letter may be appropriately inserted here:
"Judge Nelson Case, Oswego, Kansas - DEAR SIR: I settled in Osage township, Labette county, in the autumn of 1866, in company with Harry Waymire and Isaac Vance. There was but one man before us, a Mr. May, who had built his cabin just before our arrival. Others followed fast and when the spring of 1867 had opened we had quite a settlement on the Big Hill Creek. In July, 1857, I was appointed a committee to visit the commissioners at Oswego and procure an order for the organization of a municipal township, which was effected at once. I remember well that when I found the commissioners' court, which I had some trouble in doing, the commissioners were sitting astraddle of the sleepers in a hewed-log house in Oswego. There was neither door, floor nor windows, the house not being finished at the time.
"The first child born in the township lot was Rolla Wood, son of Zachariah and Matilda Wood.
"Our nearest postoffice was Roger's store, where Chanute now is. We did our milling at Humboldt, and hauled lumber from the Neosho. I believe I am the only survivor of the first settler of Osage township.
I am not quite sure whether the first name by which this territory was known was Timber Creek or Big Hill township. The commissioners appointed to organize the county laid off the west part into two precincts, which Mr. Dickerman says were designated Timber Hill and Pumpkin Creek; but no voting-place was designated in either of them at that time, probably for the reason that there was not a sufficient number of residents to justify the holding an election therein. The first official record we have relating to this township is the order of the commissioners made June 5, 1867, declaring that "Timber Hill township shall include townships 31 and 32, range 18, and the west half of townships 31 and 32 of range 19, and as far west as the county line." In this order, as it appears in the original record, written on foolscap paper, the name of the township is first written Big Hill, and a line is drawn through "Big," and "Timber" is written above it. On July 1, 1867, it was "Ordered that a precinct be established at Timber Hill at the residence of Mr. Frank Larberdy, in Timber Hill township, T. 31 and 32, R. 18 and 19." On October 21, 1867, it was "Ordered that Timber Hill township to be changed to Big Hill," and at the same time it was ordered that the voting precinct be changed from Mr. Larberdy's to Mr. Eli Sparks. The first election in the township was held November 5, 1867, at which the following officers were elected: J. S. Blair, trustee; Isaac Van Sickle and Eli Sparks, justices of the peace; H. Waymire and J. Courtney, constables; Z. C. Wood, road overseer. On November 21, 1867, the commissioners made an order more definitely fixing and somewhat changing municipal townships, by the provisions of which it was declared that "Big Hill township No. 8, shall include town 31 and 32, R., 17 and 18." On April 6, 1868, a petition therefor having been made to the commissioners, they ordered "That the township commonly known as Big Hill shall hereafter be known in all official transactions as Osage township," and at the same time made an order establishing the south line of Osage township so as to include the north half of township 32, in ranges 17 and 18.
On November 12, 1870, on the petition of Albert Allison and 49 other citizens for a division of the west tier of townships into four instead of three, forming a new township out of parts of Osage and Mound Valley townships, it was ordered that township 32, ranges 17 and 18, be detached from Osage and Mound Valley townships and organized into a municipal township under the name of Big Hill township, for which the following officers were appointed: William Johns, trustee; Albert Allison, clerk; S. C. Hockett, treasurer. I find no action of the commissioners changing or revoking this order; nevertheless, the order was, never acted upon, the officers appointed never qualified, and Osage and Mound Valley townships remained as though no such order had ever been made.
On May 30, 1871, on the petition of William Dick and 69 others, the commissioners made an order restraining stock from running at large at night-time for a term of one year.
On September 17, 1875, the Osage Pioneer Association was organized, with S. C. Hockett as president, Joel Bergess, vice-president, W. A. Starr and __ Lindsey, secretaries, and William Dick, treasurer.
Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901
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