Transcribed by Sean Furniss
MIAMI COUNTY'S FIRST SETTLERS.
The French traders, who accompanies Father De la Croix on his second visit to the Osages in 1822, were probably the first white men to enter the field. As was the custom of all traders, they exchanged for pelts and furs whatever the Indians needed.
From the earliest times the French were in close touch with the Indians in Canada, throughout the Great Lake regions and along the rivers to the Gulf. Their advent, therefore, amongst the tribes in the New Territory was very welcome. They found a ready market for their wares and reaped a rich harvest in furs which were then abundant.
The old records hold such names as Burdon, Peret, Bertrand, Prayon, Bourg, Robbideau, La Fountain, De Richardville, etc., none of which names are found amongst us today.
The Indian agent appointed by the United States Government in 1852 was Col. Ely Moore, a former congressman from New York. He was held responsible for the well-being of the Miamis, Weas, Peorias, Piankeshaws and Kaskaskias.
Other white men, who with their families lived at or near the Osage River Indian Agency in 1854, were Wm. Maynard, Wm. Hunnewell, W. A. Mobley, the Hoggetts, the Shaws, A. G. McKenzie, General W. A. Heiskell. The Wea or Baptist Mission was established one mile east of Paola about the year 1848. It was for a number of years under the charge of Dr. David Lykins, who discharged his trust with great fidelity to the great advantage of the Indians. The doctor went to Colorado in 1861 and died there.
Kansas began to exist as an organized territory on the 30th of May, 1854, when President Pierce signed the famous Kansas-Nebraska Act, by which Kansas was taken into the bounds of civilization and empowered to determine her own future policy in regard to the National issues that were then before the people of the United States.
The paramount question at the time was: whether the New Territory should permit the introduction of slavery and thus make it constitutional in the West as it had been in the South.
The question aroused the keenest interest and provoked the most serious discussion throughout the whole country, north and south. At this point appears the noted figure of John Brown of Osawatomie who fought the first battle on the soil of Miami County for the abolition of slavery. He thus struck the first spark that enkindled the flame of one of the greatest wars of history--the Civil Struggle of 1861 to 1865.
According to Major Simpson in his notes on the first settlers we are able to state that, "Early in September, 1854, Daniel Martin who had been a resident of West Point, Missouri, made a claim and settled on the land afterwards owned by Orin Williams and now (Jan. 1881) occupied by Mrs. W. G. Rainey. He is believed to have been the first white man that resided in this part of the county.
"Charles N. White, long a resident of the northern part of the county, sometime during the year 1854 settled on a claim north of the Marais des Cygnes, that embraces the land owned for so many years by Judge Thomas Roberts. Late in the fall of that same year Thomas Rice settled in the south part of the county on Mound Creek." Many others who took up claims in 1854 relinquished them the following year. James Poland settled on a claim southwest of Osawatomie in 1854.
On the 24th of October, 1854, William Chestnut, O. C. Brown, John I. Everett, Elder Palmer, Henry DeVillers, a young land surveyor by the name of Smith, Allen Wilkerson and two or three others whose names are not recollected, made claims in and around the mouth of the Pottawatomie Creek and in the course of the next two weeks erected their cabins and made such permanent preparations to stay that they were entitled to be considered as the first exclusively white settlement of the county. About the time of their location, probably a few days before, W. C. Childers, from Missouri, with his two sons, James and A. Childers, located on the northern bank of the Marais des Cygnes, a little east of the Chestnut settlement. About this time Paola began to receive an influx of white settlers.
Miss Ethel Wise in her class essay before the Paola High School on June 11, 1918, says:
"On the 16th day of August, 1855, the First Territorial Legislature passed an act incorporating the Paola Town Company, consisting of Baptiste Peoria, Isaac Jacobs, A. M. Coffey, David Lykins and their associates. Early in August, 1858, the Osawatomie people presented a petition for a vote to permanently locate the County Seat in accordance with the provision of the law of 1858, which said, "When the County Seat of any county has not been located by a vote of the electors of the county and county buildings have not been erected, the Board of Co. Commissioners upon the petition of a majority of the legal electors of the county shall order an election for the location or removal of such county seat." The County Seat had never been located in Paola, that is by a vote of the electors. Some of the earliest settlers remember the submitting of this important question to the Paola Board as causing much agitation among the Paola people. The Board of Supervision ordered an election for the permanent location of the County Seat to be held on the same day as the general election and from that time on party lines were abolished. The Paola people worked like beavers. It was said at the time that they personally visited every legal voter in the county. For ten days before the election it was believed that Paola would win if the voters could be persuaded to go to the polls; hence every effort and inducement was used to get all voters friendly to Paola to the voting places. The county was divided into small districts and three men constituted a committee to get every voter of every district to the respective polls. The returns showed that Paola had won by a majority of 90 votes. A contest was threatened based upon some illegal Indian votes. But after examination it was found that Paola would still have a majority of 48 votes. The result of that election was of great importance to Paola. It created a belief among those who wanted to live and build at the County Seat that the town was sure to remain as such. The only evidence now existing that Paola is the County Seat is to be found in the act of 1855 establishing it as the permanent Seat of Justice. The petition upon which the Board of Supervision ordered the election has disappeared. The journal of the Board does not contain the order of the election. No record of the canvass of the vote seems to exist. The County Seat still rests on an act of the Bogus Legislature.
"One of Paola's earliest settlers will be remembered as Knowles Shaw, who came here as a blacksmith in 1854 and hammered an honest living out of iron for many years.
"Cy Shaw came to Paola in 1855 and ran the first stage line form Kansas City to Fort Scott, by way of Paola and Osawatomie. The trail which our fathers and grandfathers followed was then along Ten Mile and Indian Creek, later it was moved west to take in Olathe and Springhill. The stage coach came daily, bringing the mail and a coach full of passengers at each trip. Fresh stage horses were procured at a barn in the northwest part of town. When the coaches were in need of repair, they were run into a barn located where the Vassar Hotel is and made ready for further use.
"That which is possibly Paola's oldest house is the home of Martin Timken, situated on North Pearl street. It was built by a man by the name of Totten in the year 1858. He turned rebel and his property was taken over by the Government for military purposes. During the time soldiers were stationed here the officers' headquarters were in the house. They took their meals at Ezra Robinson's house, which was then directly across the street in what is today known as the home of Watt Glenn.
"We may think of the block in which the Peoples Nat'l Bank is located as being the block in which were the homes of two of Paola's first settlers, one being Thomas Hedges and the other Knowles Shaw. Opposite them was the home of Mother Baptiste. In my recent talks with old settlers, I have found Mother Baptiste held a warm spot in the hearts of all who knew her.
"Mrs. Jacobs was probably the first white woman that came to Paola. Her husband had the first house erected that was built on the town site. It was located about where Prendergast's store is. The carpenter work was done by Samuel P. Boone. Mr. Jacobs was Paola's first mayor. B. F. Simpson was the first lawyer; Dr. W. D. Hoover the first practicing physician. He lived about where Devins Laundry is situated. Samuel Boone was the first carpenter; Mrs. Cy Shaw taught the first school; Rev. Wood was the first preacher. Walter Buck and his brother Alf were the moving water works of the city and with a little cart and pony they were at it early and late. The first wedding was that of George Tomlinson and Miss Mary Mead. Mrs. P. H. Latimer of Louisburg has the name of being the first white child born on the town site. Her maiden name was Sue Heiskell. The first death was that of an infant son of Dr. Coffey. There is a record of almost every trade and who started in Paola, with the exception of the barber shop and no records can be found of the first man to start up such a business here.
"The land for the city park was given to Paola by the Town Company with the proviso that no buildings should ever be placed on it. While we think of it as such a place of beauty, in our father's day it was an open common where the Indians were wont to run horse races, and indulge in war dances. Baptiste Peoria had it made a play ground for his people and the Town Company continued the gift and so recorded it on the books.
"Paola in her youth was not without churches. Her first Methodist church was where Mr. Hunt keeps a plumbing shop. Those of the Christian Church held their services in a town hall on the west side. In 1882 the foundation for their church on East Piankeshaw was laid. The Baptists held church in a small building located in the same place as the one they now have. While we look upon the Busy Bee as a hotel, it was in the time of the generation before us and the generation before them the Presbyterian Church located where the present Presbyterian church is. The location of the Congregational Church has always been the same. The first Catholic Church was a one-room, stone building. The ground together with a donation in money was given to the Catholics in 1859 by Baptiste Peoria and his wife. This first church was torn down in 1880 and a brick building was put up. This burned in 1906 and the one now standing was built in 1906-07.
"The first county building erected was the jail, which was built in 1858 and cost $2,000. It was a stone structure and was situated back of Mayer's Clothing store. The first term of court was held May 23, 1856.
"With the year of 1860 came the famine and quoting Mr. H. M. McLachlin, "hustlers for Pomeroy's beans and old clothes showed up in force." Aid was given out from a room on the northeast corner of the square and was quite a help to some, but like all charities it was greatly abused. Men who owned acres and acres of land were compelled to take provision for their families, by the sympathetic manner of Ezra Robinson in issuing the goods softened the bitterness of charity.
"The amusements in earlier days consisted of lodges, suppers given by the different organizations for the purpose of raising money, and literaries given once a month. There were also singing schools which furnished a good deal of pleasure to the young folks. A dancing club called the Q. A. M. D. C. (quit at midnight dancing club) gave dances every two weeks in the Mallory Hall which was on the west side of the park.
"Baptiste Peoria was the big man of that day, a large, full-blooded Indian with a great deal of business tact and shrewdness. The Indians were then in force and life with them was sport galore. Horse racing was possibly the greatest sport. Northeast of what was known as the Bell place they cleared up a straight track about a quarter mile long. The Indians were great traders, and every horse they got was tried on the track. Saturday was always fete day for the Indians, and all congregated at the track and races filled the time. The track was later changed out east of town and then they would swap races with the boys from the surrounding towns and Missouri.
"The Paola Free Library is known as the pride of Paola and well it might be called that. There was a stock company formed in 1872, called the Miami Co. Teachers Library. Its few books were kept in a hall on the north side of the square. This room was kept open on Thursdays from 4 to 6 o'clock, and on Saturday afternoons. The librarian then was Mrs. H. S. Turner. In 1878 the association turned the books over to the city as a gift with the understanding that the city was to provide and care for it. Mr. Sponable became interested in the work and gave not only the land on which the building now rests but generous sums of money at different times. His work for the library was a part of his life work. It must be remembered that we owe much to Mrs. Martha Smith, who at her death in 1901 gave $10,000 to the directors of the library for the purpose of erecting a building. Thus, Paola's library is not a Carnegie Library.
"If from this imperfect sketch you can look back and see Paola as she was in Mary, 1855, a town fighting for an existence, I am sure you will take a more appreciative view of Paola, and note what remarkable changes have been wrought by time and the hand of man." ETHEL WISE
This Indenture Made this 13th day of December A. D. 1860, between Baptiste Peoria, a reserve of the Confederated tribes of Piankeshaw, Peoria, Kaskaskia and Wea Indians of Kansas Territory, and Mary Ann Peoria, his wife, residents of Lykins county, Kansas Territory, parties of the first part and The Paola Town Company, of the second part.
Witnesseth. That the parties of the first part, and The Paola Town Company of the second part:
Witnesseth. That the parties of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of Five Thousand and Dollars, in hand paid by the parties of the second part in gold and silver coin of the United States, to the parties of the first part, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, have granted, bargained and sold and do hereby grant, bargain, sell and convey to the party of the second part and to their heirs, successors and assigns the following described real estate lying in Lykins county, Kansas Territory and bounded and described as follows, that is to say:
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the above described premises with the appurtenances to the said party of the second part, and to their heirs, successors, and assigns forever. The party of the first part hereby covenanting with the part of the second part that the title hereby conveyed is free, clear and unincumbered and further that the party of the first part will forever warrant and defend the same to the party of the second part and to their heirs, assigns and successors against the lawful claims of all persons whomsoever.
In Testimony Whereof, the parties of the first part have hereunto set their hands and ink scroll or seals this 13th day of December A. D. 1860.
Baptiste Peoria (his mark X)
Executed in presence of
Before the undersigned, United States Indian Agen for the Confederated tribe of Piankeshaw, Peoria, Kaskaskia and Wea Indians, personally appeared Baptiste Peoria and Mary Ann Peoria, his wife, well known to me to be the identical grantors in the above deed named, and whose genuine signature appeared thereto and acknowledged the signing and sealing of the above deed of conveyance to be their free, voluntary act and deed for the uses and purposes therein named, and the said Mary Ann Peoria being at the same time examined by me separate and apart from her said husband, and the contents of said deed make known to her by me, she did declare upon such separate examination that she signed, sealed and acknowledged the same of her own free will and accord and relinquished her dower interest therein, without fear of compulsion on the part of her husband and that she is still satisfied therewith.
Witness my hand and ink scroll or seal this 13th day of December A. D. 1860.
The within deed from Baptiste Peoria, a member of the confederated tribes Peoria, Piankeshaw, Kaskaskia and Wes Indians, to the Paola Town Company for the conveyance of 103 1/2 acres (as described above) for $5,000 is respectfully submitted to the Acting Secretary of the Interior for his approval.
The within deed is hereby approved as recommended by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
Filed for record on March 21st, 1861, and recorded in Book C. of Deeds, at pages 638 and 639, in the office of the Register of Deeds within and for Miami County, Kansas.
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