The History of the Early Settlement of Norton County, Kansas

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appears above, is one of the old timers here.  A biography of him appeared in the fore part of this work.

William E. Handlen was born in Davis county, Indiana, July 17, 1830, moved with his parents to Clinton county, in the same state, where he remained until he reached manhood.  On May 4, 1861, he volunteered in the 15th Indiana infantry and served three months after which he volunteered in the 72nd Indiana regiment for three years.  He was at Donaldson, Tunnell Hill, Bulls Bluff and Murfressville, in this engagement he was shot through the thigh and was discharged after serving two and one-half years.  After recovering from his wound he volunteered and served one year in Hancock's brigade, was in the battle of Chickamauga and Peach Tree creek, served all told over four years.

He was married to Amanda Jones in 1854; they had one child, Ephraim, who is well remembered here.  Eph. was born February 21, 1856.  He was married here in 1884 to Nettie Clossen; they remained here until 1888 when they moved to the Pacific coast.  He lives at Mosier, Oregon, at this time.  They have four children.

Mrs. Handlen died in 1882.  She is buried in the Norton Cemetery.  Mr. Handlen married Mrs. Blackson in August, 1888, they have lived in Norton since their marriage. 

Mr. Handlen came to Norton in 1876 and took the land southwest of the city where the fair ground has since been laid out, which he held and occupied as a homestead for many years. 

On April 15, 1879, T. J. Gilbert and 56 others presented a petition asking for the organization of Lenora township, at the same time a petition signed by H. Milbergen [Meibergen] and 49 others asked for the organization of Almelo township.  The board organized both townships.

On January 5, 1880 the commissioners granted a license for P. Martin to run a dram shop in Norton.

The year 1880 opened up with bright prospects for this county, the splendid crop of 1879 encouraged our people to put out large crops.  Emigration had come in so fast that nearly all the vacant land had been taken up that year.  The town of Norton began to put on metropolitan airs and everybody expected to see it a city of five thousand people in a short time.

On March 1, 1880 there were over seven thousand people in the county.  But after the crop had matured in 1879 perhaps in early August, the last rain fell.  This country was not even blessed with a shower after that until June 11, 1880.  A large crop of fall wheat was planted in the fall of '79 but not an acre of it was harvested.  Very little of it ever sprouted.  On June 30, 1880 the worst hail storm ever experienced came.  It spread over nearly the entire county.  The heaviest of it began near the Hugh Collins farm and extended about eight miles south and east crossing the Prairie Dog west of Oronoque.  That hail lay in drifts until July 30, and in many places would have remained longer had it not been melted by a rain which fell on that date, which of course melted it.  Baker VanMeter gives an account of using hail to freeze ice cream twenty five days after it fell.  A pony with saddle and bridle on was found drowned in the creek one half mile west of range line, between ranges 24 and 25.  No one knew the pony or saddle and nothing was ever heard of the owner so it was supposed to belong to some traveler who probably drowned in the flood.  The fourth of July 1880 was celebrated under a bowery near where Wright's store now stands.  Elder S. D. Bartlett delivered the oration.  Rev Bartlett had come from Ohio early in the spring of 1880 and taken a homestead

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