The History of the Early Settlement of Norton County, Kansas

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Captain W. D. Jarvis was made director, William D. Jones clerk and N. H. Billings treasurer.  No one has any recollection of their being elected and it is supposed that Billings as superintendent unlawfully appointed them.  The board then called an election to vote $3000 bonds to build a school house.  The election was held on Friday, November 22 at Jarvis' dug out.  This date is positively remembered by Peter Mittan as his wife and family had arrived the Monday before.  Twenty votes were polled; those voting in favor of bonds were D. C. Coleman and wife, W. B. Jones and wife, N. H. Billings wife and her sister, Miss Nana Jones, Sam and Ed Newell, W. D. Jarvis wife and mother. 

Henry Oliver thinks John A. Newell voted but Cal Newell says he did not. 

Those voting against the bonds were Henry Oliver, Sol Marsh, C. E. Hillsinger, Shelby D. Reed, Mott Wood and Tom Brown.  Charley Stowell and Bill Louk were both against the bonds but did not get there in time to vote.  Their votes would have defeated the bonds as the law at that time required a two-thirds vote in the affirmative.  Peter Mittan and wife also went up to vote but the polls were closed before they arrived.  Henry Oliver acted as one of the judges of election but has forgotten who the other members of the board were.  They had no ballot box so the tickets were thrown into a hat; they had no election clerks, no record of the voters was kept.  The above description of voting is given from the memory of those who were present.

It appears that blank bonds had already been prepared and as soon as the polls were closed and the result declared, Billings and Coleman brought out the bonds for the signatures of the school board.  Jarvis and Jones signed the bonds in blank (as they afterward stated).  Billings suggested that they should be issued in denominations of $100 each so thirty bonds were signed by Jarvis and Jones.  Early the next morning Jarvis came to Oliver's house and said Billings had left with those bonds.  He borrowed Oliver's pistol and started after him but failed to find him; Jarvis returned to Norton next day and wrote to Mr. Weir at Concordia that Billings had left with bonds signed in blank and requested that the people be notified of the fact.  Billings arrived in Concordia in due time and sold $2000.00 worth of bonds to Dr. Lodge taking a bunch of cattle in payment.  Billings returned to Norton with the cattle and it soon become known that he had disposed of the bonds.  This he did not deny and said he thought as district treasurer he had a right to invest the funds in any way he chose as his bonds were good to the district for the sate return of the money.  These bonds were afterward transferred to a Mr. Carnahan of Cloud county, and by him sold to the state treasury.  On January 3, 1876 suit was brought by A M. F. Randolph, Attorney General, against school district No. 1 for $2000 and against district No. 2 (Almena which was not organized at that time) for $1000.  These Almena bonds were signed by Peter Marsh, director, John Mitchell, clerk, both fictitous characters.  The case came on for trial in the April term 1876.  The state was represented in both cases by D. A. Wilson of Phillipsburg; District No. 1 was represented by J. R. Hamilton and ex-judge Banta; No. 2 was represented by L. P. Boyd of Leota.  These cases were decided by Judge Holt against the bond holders.  It appears from talking with men who were here at the time that at a state convention preceding the trial Sam Lappin, state treasurer, had said to W. E. Case, "You will never have to pay these bonds."  So it came to pass that when the case came up the assistant attorney general found himself entirely unprepared

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