1901 History of Republic County Kansas


History of Republic County. 51

Seeing Windbigler fall, he leaves the wagon and advances to the assistance of his wounded comrade, with his trusted Spencer driving the Indians to a respectful distance, and remains by the dead body of his fallen companion until help arrived from the fort.

Windbigler was buried in a coffin made of puncheons taken from the floor of Dan Davis' shanty.

For the benefit of the younger readers I will say that a puncheon is one of the parts of a log split in halves with one or both sides smoothed by hewing.

The floors of the dwellings of the pioneer settlers who were fortunate enough to have any other than a dirt floor, were made of this material, as no lumber was obtainable within one hundred miles.

Windbigler's remains were some time afterwards disinterred and removed to his old home in Indiana.

The same day that Windbigler was killed, Benjamin White, a frontier settler living on Granny Creek, now called White Creek, in Cloud County, was murdered by the Indians. Miss Sarah White, his daughter, a girl of sixteen, was captured and carried away into captivity. The following February she was rescued from the Indians by General Sheridan, in Northern Texas, and restored to her friends.

The next day after the massacre of Windbigler the entire settlement left, Mr. and Mrs. Charles going to Oak Creek, in Cloud County, some three miles east of where Concordia now stands, Lovewell and Davis going on to Clifton. Lewis and wife never returned to the settlement. Mr. and Mrs. Charles remained at Oak Creek until December 19th, 1869, when they returned to Big Bend and found their log cabin and everything that was left in it in a heap of ashes. It was now mid-winter, the ground being frozen to a depth of two feet, conditions which to people of less self-reliance, confidence and hopefulness would have appeared discouraging in the extreme. But they possessed staying qualities and are both living to reap a

52 History of Republic County.

golden harvest, the product of their toil and privation. Stanfield, Lovewell and some others of the settlers returned in the spring of 1869 and came to stay.

In June, 1868, a party of Indians attempted, in the daytime, to steal a horse of a settler named Homer, his team being harnessed and hitched to wagon and tied to a tree in front of his shanty. The Indians deliberately proceeded to unharness the best horse. Homer ordered them to leave, which order they disregarded, whereupon he opened fire upon them from the door of the shanty, which was returned by the Indians, a bullet striking his watch, entirely ruining it, but saving the settler's life. The Indians were repulsed and fled without securing the horse. In July of the same year the Indians made another visit to the settlement, stealing two horses, one the property of W. R. Charles and the other belonging to W. P. Phillips, these being the only two horses in camp at the time.

One afternoon in May, 1869, an attack was made on Stanfield and Phillips, who were planting corn on Stanfield's claim, a man named Teneyck acting as sentry and O. C. Davis, another settler, guarding the house, all very narrowly escaping capture. At this time Davis lost his team of mules and Stanfield saved his horses by taking them into his log house, 12x14 feet, where they remained all night in Stanfield's best room. The house was occupied that night by two horses, four armed men and all of Stanfleld's parlor and kitchen furniture. Next morning firing was plainly heard up the river, the cause of which was at that time unknown to the settlers. Fearing the return of the Indians and a renewal of the attack, a dispatch asking for assistance was started by a special courier to Lake Sibley, where some soldiers were stationed.

The dispatch bearer a was cow, which had been brought by Dan Davis from Sibley some two weeks previous, and believing that if she was turned loose, would return to that place, the dispatch was written and securely fastened

History of Republic County. 53

to the cow's head with a piece of red flannel cloth to attract attention upon her arrival there. This being done, she was turned loose with the best wishes of all for a safe journey and prompt delivery of the dispatch. After waiting three long and wearisome days for an answer, the settlers decided to visit Lake Sibley and learn why their appeal for assistance had been unheeded. On reaching Scandia they found that their dispatch bearer had been intercepted there and milked regularly ever since her arrival, presumably by Squire Lembke, as he informed the party that he had milk in his coffee that very morning. They also found John McChesney there, the only survivor of a hunting party of seven, who were surprised by the Indians, and after making a desperate resistence, six of their number were killed. This party was composed of John Winkelpleck and son, John McChesney, a man named Berg and three men from Michigan on a visit to friends in Marshall county. The McChesney who narrowly escaped by hiding in the brush until the Indians left is now a resident of Osborne county and uncle to the jovial, whole-souled John McChesney, the traveling man from Red Wing, Minnesota, who for several years has made regular visits to Belleville and other points in this county. The cause of the firing heard by Stanfield and his party the morning after the eventful night just described was now fully explained. They then decided to abandon their visit to Lake Sibley, and accompanied by McChesney go up the river to the scene of the massacre of the hunting party and bury the dead bodies as best they could. The bodies were all found and buried on the east bank of the Republican, on section 15, town 1, range 5.

Other outrages of a similar character occurred in the Solomon and Saline valleys on the same day, and the people of the entire state became thoroughly aroused, those of the lower Republican valley being especially agitated, as these atrocities had been committed but a comparatively short distance from their own homes, and they promptly re-

54 History of Republic County.

sponded to the call for assistance, as they had done many times before. Dispatches having reached Gov. Crawford, notifying him of these troubles, he at once wrote the following characteristic letter to W. P. Peake, captain of the Salt Creek Militia, which was received by him September 1st, 1868:

STATE OF KANSAS,}
OFFICE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
TOPEKA, August 23, 1868.

Capt. W. P. Peake, Salt Marsh, Kansas:

Please say to the settlers of Cloud and Republic counties, that I am now using every means in my power to procure cavalry arms, with ammunition, from the government, and that I have notified the President that the Indians must and shall be driven at once out of the state, and not permitted to return. Also, that Gen. Sheridan has agreed to send troops immediately to the Saline, Solomon and Republican valleys for the purpose of protecting the settlers; that the people may rest assured that they will, in the future, be protected. If the government fails, the state will not, although I am seriously embarrassed on account of the present Indian policy.

I hope the people will remain at their homes and not abandon the country. No possible effort will be spared to secure protection, and to relieve the wants of those who are in a destitute and suffering condition. I shall not rest until the Indians are driven out of the state; and if they return within reach of the settlements, I trust the people will dispose of them in the most summary manner. I shall endeavor to do my duty. We have submitted to these atrocities until forbearance has ceased to be a virtue.

Yours Respectfully,
S. J. CRAWFORD, Governor.

P. S. — Please perfect the organization of one company of militia, and have a place of general rendezvous in case of danger. S. J. CRAWFORD.

Governor Crawford served with distinction as captain in the 2nd Kansas Infantry, as captain in the 2nd Kansas Cavalry, and colonel of the 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry

History of Republic County. 55

during the war of the rebellion; was elected Governor in 1864, re-elected in 1866, resigned as Governor November 4th, 1868, to take command of the 19th Kansas Cavalry, a regiment raised to fight the Indians. He was an earnest, active and devoted friend of the frontier settlers, very many of whom still hold him in grateful remembrance.

The Indians of the plains were loath to give up their ancestral hunting grounds, and every summer camped and hunted in the Republican valley. In the spring of 1869, a party of Cheyennes and Arrapahoes came, as usual, and camped a few miles below the town of Scandia, where a small settlement had been made the previous summer. They killed buffalo, and skulked as near the settlers as safety would permit: One day in May, they raised their camp, and went off, apparently leaving the valley. The next morning the sentry on the hill left his post, his services then being no longor[sic] needed, as was supposed. Two boys, however were put to watch the settlers' horses, grazing on the townsite. Presently two Indians were seen swiftly riding down the ravine east of town. One of the boys saw their approach in time to run towards the house. The other boy, Malcolm Granstadt by name, was still at his post, till with a clubbed pistol, he was first knocked down, and then shot and killed. The horses, five in number, were driven away, and never recovered. Two of the horses taken on this occasion belonged to Robert Watson, of White Rock township.

The Indians claimed that, by treaty, they had a right to perpetual occupancy of this country; and this claim they kept up until 1870, when they very reluctantly abandoned all the country east of the Republican river, but continued their depredations for a year or two longer in the newer counties farther west.

The number of persons killed and wounded by Indians within the limits of what is now Republic county may be briefly summarized as follows: Emigrants killed in Big Bend township in 1857, five persons; wounded, two

56 History of Republic County.

persons; Windbigler, killed in August, 1868; Granstadt, the Swede boy, killed in the spring of 1869; six buffalo hunters killed in Big Bend township in 1869, making a total of thirteen killed and two wounded.

CHAPTER IV.

FIRST LAW-SUIT IN THE COUNTY — COUNTY ORGANIZED — OFFICERS APPOINTED — FIRST ELECTIONS.

James E. VanNatta, the first justice of the peace in Republic county, was appointed by Gov. Crawford in 1867, holding the office four years, the first law-suit in the county being tried before him in 1869. The parties to this suit were Henry Mead, plaintiff, and Conrad Meyers, defendant, the suit being for damages on contract on the sale of a yoke of cattle by Meyers to Mead. In this suit each party was his own lawyer, the nearest attorneys at that time being at Manhattan or Marysville.

The law library of this county at that time consisted of the territorial laws of 1859, the session laws of 1865, the Testament and Psalms in one volume, and the Blue Laws of Connecticut, the latter being kindly furnished the court by J. C. Reiley, the first trustee of Republic precinct, then attached to Washington county.

This suit was decided in accordance with the law and evidence, and no appeal taken.

On account of trouble with Washington county in regard to the assessment and collection of taxes, the same being considered burdensome and oppressive, and having to be paid at a remote distance, led the settlers to take steps to organize the county at what has since been considered too early a date. Accordingly, Mr. J. C. Reiley, the first assessor elected in the county, taking the assessment in June, 1868, and at the same time taking the census, with a view of securing a county organization, reported a

History of Republic County. 57

population of three hundred and fifty actual residents, too small a number, the law requiring six hundred. But in August of the same year a special committee for taking the enumeration was appointed by Gov. Crawford, consisting of W. P. Peake and J. E. VanNatta, who, by careful counting reported a population of between six and seven hundred.

The last report shows a gain of three hundred inhabitants in two months. Had the same percent of increase been maintained until the present time we would have been overpopulated, as there would not have been standing room in the county for all its people. I have not computed the number and if any of the readers of this history are curious to know how many, they are at liberty to make the computation from the data given above. I do not say this with a view of being understood as criticising the report of the committee, but I still believe it took very careful counting to find so many people in the county at that time.

In pursuance of said report, Gov. Crawford issued the following order: —

STATE OF KANSAS, EXECUTIVE OFFICE,
Topeka, September 7th, 1868.
}

WHEREAS, In due form of law, it has been made to appear that the county of Republic, State of Kansas, contains the requisite number of inhabitants to entitle the people of said county to a county organization.

Now, therefore, I, Samuel J. Crawford, Governor of the State of Kansas, by virtue of authority vested in me by law (and having commissioned county officers), do hereby locate the county seat of Republic county at Pleasant Hill, in School District No. 2 in said county.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State. Done at Topeka the day and date above written.

By the Governor, S. J. CRAWFORD.
R. A. BARKER, Sec'y of State.
58 History of Republic County.

The following named persons were commissioned by the Governor, September 8th, 1868: John Harris, jr., John M. Campbell and Thomas C. Reily, county commissioners, and John McFarlane county clerk; and from this date Republic county takes its place among the organized counties of Kansas.

The first election held in the county was prior to the county organization, and was held at J. G. Tuthill's house, at Salt Marsh, and was for township officers only, the whole county being one voting precinct and attached to Washington county. This election was held on the fourth Monday in March, 1868. This was the wrong day, but the officers chosen were subsequently appointed by the commissioners of Washington county. The officers elected were: J. C. Reiley, trustee, James VanNatta, justice of the peace; Thomas Durant, justice of the peace; J. H. Frint, constable; Charles Campbell, constable. Whole number of votes polled, 13, of which Mr. Reily received 8, I. M. Schooley, his opponent, 5. Mr. VanNatta had no opposition. Mr. Frint received 6 votes, his opponent 6, which was decided by casting lots, the office falling to Frint.

A mass convention was held at Pleasant Hill, October 20th, 1868, and the first in the county, for the purpose of placing in nomination a candidate for representative in the State Legislature, and also to nominate county officers, to be supported at the November election. At this convention, 15 voters were present, and Capt. I. M. Schooley, before mentioned, was nominated for representative, but was defeated at the polls by R. P. West, independent candidate, by a majority of 9, Brother West receiving 37 votes and Capt. Schooley 28. It must not be forgotten, however, that Brother West was a candidate for representative in 1867, while we were yet attached to Washington county. There were three candidates in the field and 172 votes cast, of which S. F. Snyder received 91, R. P. West 41, and Vernon Parker, 40, Mr. Snyder being elected by a plurality of 50 votes. At the November election, 1868, the

History of Republic County. 59

following named persons were elected: R. P. West, representative; W. W. Newlon, Z. P. Rowe and John M. Campbell, county commissioners; John McFarlane, county clerk; James G. Tuthill, county treasurer; R. H. Vining, sheriff; Wm. Hardaker, surveyor; B. F. Sayler, county superintendent: John McFarlane, register of deeds; Daniel Meyers, probate judge.

The first meeting of the Board of Commissioners of which we have any record was held at Pleasant Hill, September 29th, 1868, and the first business transacted was the division of the county into three commissioner districts as follows: —

Ordered, that townships, 1, 2 and 3, of range 1, and the E 1/2 of townships 1, 2 and 3, of range 2, shall be one voting township, and known by the name of Farmington township; and the place of election shall be at the house of John Harris, jr., on section 3, town 3, range 1; and it was called Commissioner District No. 1.

This township embraced what is now Farmington, Albion, Richland, and the east half of what is now Rose Creek, Fairview and Jefferson.

And the W 1/2 of townships 1, 2 and 3, range 2; and townships 1, 2 and 3, of range 3; and townships 1, 2 and 3, of range 4; and townships 1, 2 and 3, of range 5, — shall be one voting township, and be known by the name of Republic township, and the place of voting to be at the school house at Pleasant Hill, and was called Commissioner District No. 2.

This township embraced what is now the west half of Rose Creek, Fairview and Jefferson, all of Liberty, Freedom, Belleville, Washington, Union, Scandia, Big Bend, White Rock and Courtland.

And township 4, of range 1; township 4, of range 2; township 4, of range 3; township 4, of range 4; township 4, of range 5, — shall be one voting township, and known by the name of Grant township, the place of voting to be at

60 History of Republic County.

the residence of Jas. G. Tuthill, and was called Commissioner District No. 3.

Grant township embraced what is now Grant, Elk Creek, Lincoln, Norway and Beaver.

After transacting a little other business, the Board adjourned until dark. Board met at dark, pursuant to adjournment, and ordered that election notices be posted in the several townships, and then adjourned until the 6th day of November.

Time pieces were probably somewhat scarce in Republic county at that time, but it is safe to conclude that no mistake would be made as to the time of meeting if the adjournment was till dark.

PLEASANT HILL, November 6th, 1868.

Board met in pursuance of adjournment, T. C. Reiley in the chair. At this meeting it was ordered that notices be posted for an election for permanent location of county seat. After allowing a few bills and transacting a little other unimportant business the Board adjourned.

CLERK'S OFFICE, January 4th, 1869.

Board of County Commissioners met, W. W. Newlon in the chair. At this meeting it was ordered that the county clerk procure blank books, stationery and a seal, necessary for the use of the county. Up to this time all the county records had been kept on legal cap paper, and the State had not yet furnished the county with the general statutes.

The Board adjourned until the Statutes shall have been received.

The next meeting was held March 13th, 1869, at which time the county surveyor was ordered to procure the Plats and field notes from the General Land Office, provided they do not cost the county to exceed one hundred dollars. At this meeting two additional election precincts were created as follows: Scandia, four miles on the west side of range 4 and all of range in 5 townships 1, 2 and 3.


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From A history of Republic County, Kansas : embracing a full and complete account of all the leading events in its history, from its first settlement down to June 1, '01 ... Also the topography of the County ... and other valuable information never before published. by I. O. Savage.; Illustrated. Published by Jones & Chubbic, Beloit, KS : 1901. 321 p. ill., plates, ports., fold. map ; 23 cm. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward, July 2006.


Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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