genus homo made his appearance in the county introducing himself as Col. N. H. Billings.
He was a character possessed of fair education, some legal lore, a deal of egotism, and some degree of cunning.
Chiefly through his exertions the county was hurried into a decidedly premature organization.
He formed an alliance at once with Coleman in the locating business in which Coleman did the principal part of the work and Billings eagerly shared the profits."
Billings returned to Cloud county about April 1, promising to return with his effects which he did about the first of May. He hired Sol Marsh, Charles Hillsinger and Mott Wood to assist him in building his dugout; this dugout was built on the Island. They had only worked a few days when Billings announced one morning that they were out of grub. Some one suggested that Shelby D. Reed had just came in with a wagon load of provisions which he had buried (that being the cold storage process of keeping grub at that enlightened age) on his claim and had gone back to Grand Island, Nebr. after another load. The whole party repaired at once across the creek to Reed's claim to hunt for the hidden treasure which they found without much trouble. They appropriated a few bushels of potatoes, some flour, meat and bacon, and returned to their work on the dugout with the happy consolation that they were at least to fare well. About this time the boys began to call Billings Uncle Josh, a sobriquet that apparently pleased him, and one that stayed with him as long as he lived in the county.
Billings about this time began to appear in his true character: be was very indifferent as to whether he remunerated Reed or not. Sol Marsh informed Billings that he had been a party to the theft of Reed's supplies and they must be replaced before Reed returned, so a plan to replace the provisions was arranged by sending Sol Marsh and Coleman to Republican City for provisions. On this trip they met with what Sol Marsh called a wind fall: when near the head of Long Island they saw a bunch of buffalo, the first that had appeared that spring. They succeeded in killing one which they sold at 5 cents a pound to Chas. McPherson, a merchant in Republican City, who was well known in the early days. The money they received for this Coleman and Marsh divided, which gave Sol more money than he had ever had at one time since leaving New York. They returned with their wagon loaded with supplies. After Billings finished his dugout he returned to Cloud county after his family; this was about the 10 of June, promising to return in time to deliver the Fourth of July oration; but the 4th of July came and no Billings, so the few settlers who were here proceeded to celebrate without him, Judge Gibbon delivering the oration, as we said before, which proved the truth of the old adage, "When the emergency arises the man appears." At this very time without the knowledge of any one here, with the possible exception of Coleman, Billings was in Topeka trying to get the county organized.
He presented the following petition to Governor Harvey on June 21:
STATE OF KANSAS
NORTON COUNTY. SS
We, the undersigned house-holders of the County aforesaid, and legal
electors of the State aforesaid do hereby inform your Honor that Norton county in the state of Kansas contains at least Six Hundred actual residents, to the best of our knowledge and belief, and we do recommend as a suitable person to take the census of said county with a view to organization, Mr. D. C. Coleman, and we do hereby pray that said county
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