The History of the Early Settlement of Norton County, Kansas

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settlers and ask them for the names of friends and acquaintances in the east; these he would put on the roll as actual residents of the county.  It will be noticed the report contained the names of Oliver Jones and Wm. E. Handlen although they did not come here for several years afterward, but both had relatives here who doubtless gave their names; in this way, and by actual forgery, Coleman, under the alias of Richard M. Johnson, made up a list of residents which numbered 636, of which 550 never saw Norton county.  This census report was sworn to before N. H. Billings, a notary public for Cloud county.  The report was sent to the secretary of state and on the 22 day of August the Governor issued his proclamation organizing the county. The following is an exact copy of it: 

PROCLAMATION.
Whereas it appears from the records in the office of secretary of state that a census of Norton county has been taken and properly certified according to law showing a population of over six hundred inhabitants, citizens of the United States.  And whereas more than forty inhabitants, free holders of Norton county, have petitioned for the appointment of three county commissioners and one special county clerk and name a place as the temporary county seat of said county.  Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Kansas, I, James M. Harvey, have appointed and commissioned the special county commissioners and clerk asked for in that petition, and do hereby declare Billingsville the temporary county seat of Norton county.  In testimony whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and caused to be affixed the great seal of the State, Done at Topeka this 22 day of August A. D 1872, Signed by

By the Governor JAMES M. HARVEY
W. H. SMALLWOOD, Secretary of State.

On the same day, August 23, 1872, Governor Harvey issued four other proclamations all in the same language, each one appointing separately James W. Vance, Shelby D. Reed and James Hall special county commissioners, and David C. Coleman special county clerk.

This completed the organization, and put Billings in a position to go on with his schemes without outside interference.  During the time that Coleman was taking the census all the settlers were apprised of the fact that the county was about to be organized; many did not give the scheme their approval, but few if any offered any protest.  Most of the settlers were young men whose ambition was to secure farms.  They knew nothing of the legal forms required to organize the county, and none of them supposed that any fraud was being perpetrated.  It was urged with some effect, after the killing of Cross, that the county ought to be organized, so that horse thieves and other law breakers could be properly dealt with.  There is nothing so potent in bringing about warm friendship as the campfire of the early settlers.  Their latch strings were always out; no man was ever refused a meal, or blanket to sleep on.  After arriving here the stingiest Yankee soon became a philanthropist.  It was conditions like these that enabled Billings to gain the confidence of the settlers; he deceived them by pretending to be their friend.  He had a towering ambition for office, but so far as known he never aspired higher than to represent Norton county in the Legislature.  Some settlers think that at this time he did not intend to rob the County in any way, but that his deviltry all came into his head afterward.  Although he had made false acknowledgements, forged a petition and assisted in stuffing the census report, he looked upon these as trifling matters which would eventually help him without injuring any one.  Henry

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