Transcribed from History and Statistics of Brown County, Kansas, comp. by E. N. Morrill, Hiawatha, Kan., Kansas herald book, news, and job office, July 4, 1876.

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RISE AND FALL OF THE HIAWATHA CLUB.


COMPILED FOR THE AUTHOR BY A. R. MAY, ESQ., CITY ATTORNEY.


During the year 1875 the City Council refused to grant any dram shop or saloon licenses in the city, and no intoxicating liquors were sold excepting such as may have been sold in the drug stores, until about October 7th, 1815, when there was a movement originated by a few persons, ostensibly for the purpose of forming a Beer Club for the purpose of social enjoyment, but in reality for the purpose of opening and maintaining a dram shop in violation of law, and evading the license laws of the city.

A petition was circulated and numerously signed, bearing the following heading:

   "We, the undersigned, hereby agree, to and with
   "each other, to form and arrange a club for the pur-
   "pose of social enjoyment, said club to have its rooms
   "in the city of Hiawatha, and to be known as The
   "Hiawatha Club.' Dated this 7th day of Oct., 1875."

About the same time, and probably on the same day, Fred W. Rohl and Henry Stauff, two persons then living about eight mile's south of town, opened the building situated on the east half of lot No. 91, on Oregon St., commonly called the Billiard Hall or Corn Exchange, and owned by J.W. Pottenger, as the headquarters of the Hiawatha Club. They immediately and almost daily shipped large quantities of beer and liquors to said room, and the same was handed out to their customers, by said Rohl and Stauff, and drank on the premises, the customers paying therefor with printed tickets or checks, bought from Rohl and Stauff at five cents per ticket or check, one ticket procuring a glass of beer and two a drink of whisky, the more fancy drinks requiring more in proportion. Afterwards, at a meeting held by the club, on October 13th, 1875, the club adopted a constitution and rules of order for their government, which among other things provided that the officers of the association should consist of a Prsident,[sic] Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and five Trustees, who together should form the Board of Management, to manage the affairs of the association. That the officers should be elected annually. That stated meetings should be held monthly. That members should be proposed one week, before election, elected by ballot, receiving not less than ten affirmative to each negative vote, and after election each member should pay an entrance fee of 25 cents. The constitution also provided that each member must procure tickets from the treasurer for refreshments before the same were partaken of.

In order to do away with the necessity of being formally proposed and ballotted for as a member, however, the constitution wisely and sagaciously provided "that any member might invite gentlemen to the rooms of the association for a single day on registering his own name with that of the visitor in a book kept for that purpose, thus securing to the tired and weary wayfarer a convenient oasis of refreshment.

The house committee was charged with the duty of appointing the employees and regulating the price of articles furnished to members in the house, and while Messrs. Rohl and Stauff at their trial testified that they were appointed by the house committee to fill their respective stations, yet they had reluctantly to admit that they neglected to fix any compensation for their services) which to the mind of the Court did not seem to be very consistent with their defense, that they were not the proprietors of the establishment and running it for their own benefit and private gain, but simply as the paid employees of a lawful organization.

Other rules were adopted as standing rules, one of which was, that the house should be open at 9 o'clock in the morning DAILY for the reception of members, and close at 12 o'clock in the evening, but the rule was not to influence members then actually in the house in respect to their departure.

This state of affairs, lasted until the 15th of October, when H.J. Aten, Mayor of the City, issued his written order to G.T. Woodmansee, the City Marshal, commanding him to take charge of and close up said building, as a place dangerous to the peace and quiet of the city, and to keep the same closed until Saturday night, October 16th, at 12 o'clock, P.M., which order the Marshal promptly executed.

Early on the following Monday morning Rohl and Stauff opened the building again and prosecuted their business of selling beer and liquor as they had done before, and continued to do so until October 20th, when Mayor Aten issued a second order to the City Marshal commanding him to close the building, and keep it closed for the space of three days from that date, which order the Marshal immediately attempted to execute, but was forcibly ejected from the premises by Rohl and Stauff and several other members of the club.

He made one or two more attempts afterwards to execute the same, but finding the door locked and guarded every time that he made the attempt, he summoned as a posse, Thomas McLaughlin, J.K. Klinefelter and G.E. Selleg.

They proceeded to the room, broke open the door, forcibly ejected the occupants and locked the building up.

Shortly thereafter, Rohl and Stauff, and others, broke open the building, entered the same, and prosecuted their business the same as before.

Immediately after their expulsion from the building Fred W. Rohl made affidavit before W.J. Richardson, J.P., and procured a warrant for the arrest of G.T. Woodmansee and his said posse on a charge of riot.

The case was prosecuted, before W.J. Richardson, J.P., by James Falloon and County Attorney, F.M. Keith, for the State, and the prisoners were defended by the City Attorney, A.R. May, Ira J. Lacock and C.E. Berry. The jury promptly brought in a verdict of not guilty and found that the prosecution was without cause. The Justice thereupon discharged the prisoners, and taxed the costs of prosecution to the prosecuting witness, F.W. Rohl.

By this time matters had assumed quite a serious aspect; the club members declaring that the city had no right to interfere in their business, and that they would resist any further attempt at interference even to the shedding of blood, and stating that they were advised by their counsel to do so. The city authorites, on the other hand, were determined that the ordinances of the city should be enforced at all hazards and at all cost.

On Nov. 18th Rohl and Stauff were arrested for a violation of the city ordinances in selling intoxicating liquors in said building, and the case was tried before Police Justice J.P. Mulhollen, on Nov. 22, and resulted in the conviction of the defendants, and in the imposition of a fine of $50 each on the defendants. From this judgement the defendants appealed to the District Court.

Rohl and Stauff, however, still continued their business, and became even more bold and defiant, stating that no matter how often they would be convicted they would appeal their cases and sell liquor all the same.

By this time, also, the place became an intolerable nuisance by reason of the boisterous and indecent behavior of the drunken people, day and night, in and around the building, the same being on the most public street and in the business portion of the city.

On November 27th, Rohl and Stauff were again arrested on the charge of keeping and maintaining a common public nuisance in said building, and on trial before the Police Judge Dec. 2d, were convicted of keeping a nuisance and the premises adjudged a nuisance and ordered to be abated, and defendants ordered to pay the costs. From this judgment the defendants also promptly appealed, and kept on selling liquor in the building as they had previously done.

Thereupon, on or about the 15th day of Dec., 1875, the Mayor issued his writ to the City Marshal, (as the ordinance, provided,) reciting the aforesaid judgment and ordering him to abate said nuisance.

After several ineffectual attempts by the Marshal to enforce said writ, being met by Rohl and Stauff with drawn revolvers and threats that they would shoot him if he attempted to carry the order into effect, he summoned to his aid a large posse of citizens, among whom were S.P. Gaskill, A.A. Holmes, R.C. Chase, George D. Blair, W.S. Bristol, J.C. Thomas, A. McLaughlin, and others, who, besides some volunteers numbering in all about twenty men, early on the morning of Dec. 25th, 1875, repaired to the saloon armed with revolvers, shot guns and sabres, forcibly ejected Henry Stauff, Rohl retreating in some disorder, emptied all the liquors found in the establishment, captured the books and papers of the club, and with the billiard tables and furniture barricaded the doors. They then stationed guards on the outside and inside of the building, all heavily armed, and kept it guarded until some ten or twelve days thereafter when the question of the occupancy of the building was settled by injunction proceedings in the District Court. Immediately after the building was occupied by the Marshal and his posse, Rohl and Stauff sent word into the country of the fact to numerous members of the club, who, to the number of several hundred, flocked to town, some being armed, breathing vengeance against the authorities and threatening to make an attack on the Marshal and his force and re-take the building.

Throughout the entire day and the greater portion of the night hundreds of the members of the club and their sympathizers congregated in the vicinity of the building, blaspheming and threatening to break into the building by force, and the citizens generally believed that an attempt of that kind would be made, but no actual attempt was made.

While these misguided rioters showed by their acts and deeds the intensity of their feelings at the invasion of their cherished rights, - the right to sell, buy and drink intoxicating liquors without regard to the laws of the land, - yet they quailed before the determined countenances of the men who guarded the building, and beyond venting their feelings in language, nothing further was done.

Matters remained thus for several days, when Rohl and Stauff served a notice on the city that they would apply for an injunction before Judge Hubbard, at Atchison. The city immediately served notice on Rohl and Stauff that it would at the same time and place apply for an injunction on its part against them, filed its cross petition, and on Dec. 31st, 1875, obtained a temporary injunction against Rohl and Stauff, conditioned that on filing a bond in the sum of $200, Rohl and Stauff should be restrained from interfering with the premises in any manner whatever, for the space of five days, when the court would hear the matter further at Troy.

Rohl and Stauff never filed their petition and did not appear at Atchison. The city gave the required bond, and at the time fixed, appeared at Troy. This time Rohl and Stauff appeared, but instead of asking for the injunction on their part, sought to prevent the city from obtaining one against them, on the grounds that they never filed their petition for an injunction, and that the city could not maintain its application on a cross petition to their petition which was not filed, and not pressed and also, because the title of the city's petition should be changed so as to make it plaintiff instead of defendant.

Judge Hubbard overruled these several objections and held that the service of notice on the city by Rohl and Stauff of their intention to apply for an injunction against the city, gave it the right to prevent in the manner it did; and the case was then fully presented on both sides, numerous affidavits being presented. After a full hearing Judge Hubbard, on Jan. 6th, 1876, granted an injunction, in favor of the city, restraining Rohl and Stauff from using the premises for the sale of or keeping of liquors of any kind therein, until the April term of our court, on condition that the city file a bond of $1000 which they immediately did; also an order, that upon the filing by Rohl and Stauff of a bond in the sum of $200, the city should turn over the building and books, papers, &c captured in the same on the memorable 25th of Dec. Rohl and Stauff never filed their bond, but the city immediately turned over to J.W. Pottenger, who demanded the possession of the building, the same, and after obtaining copies of all the captured books, papers, &c., turned the same over to Rohl and Stauff.

Thus ended the Hiawatha Beer Club, they never afterwards establishing any other place of business in this city for the sale of liquor. Rohl and Stauff, however, as individuals, applied to the courts, and on Eeb.[sic] 10th, 1876, each of them filed suits, individually, against H.J. Aten, G.T. Woodmansee, W.S. Bristol, S.R. Gaskill, R.C. Chase, A.A. Holmes, Wm. Clement and J.C. Thomas, for damages done to their persons and feelings, Rohl claiming $5000 damages, and Stauff a like amount, and also claiming $100 additional for cigars which he alleged the defendents destroyed. Both these petitions were demurred and the demurrers, sustained; but leave was granted by the court to file amended petitions. Before this time, Dec. 13th, 1875, Henry Stauff brought suit in the District Court against G.T. Woodmansee for $500 damages for ejecting him from the building. On Dec. 25th, 1875, Henry Stauff and Murry Stanley were arrested on a state warrant charged with threatening to commit a breach of the peace on R.C. Chase. There was no appearance made against the parties. On the same day S.P. Gaskill, W.S. Bristol, A.A. Holmes, J.C. Thomas, A. McLaughlin, B.F. Partch, G.T. Woodmansee, Geo. M. Blair, Wm. Clement, J.K. Klinefelter, R. Chase, A.G. Speer, Thurston Chase, L.S. Herbert, A. Rokes and Rev. C.L. Shackelford were arrested on oath of Henry Stauff, charged with committing an assault and battery, &c., on said Stauff, which case was heard before G.W. Seaman J.P., and the information quashed. Both these last prosecutions arose out of the Beer Club business.

Shortly after the adjournment of the April term of court, 1876. Rohl and Stauff gave themselves up voluntarily to the Sheriff, stating that they could not pay their fines and that he would have to take charge of them. He kept them in the city calaboose, which was broken into by their friends one night, and the prisoners liberated; but it was repaired and they were put back. After staying in the calaboose for several days, Reverend Shackelford and Liggett interested themselves in their behalf, visited them in their cell, and the result was that the mayor and city council were petitioned by Rohl and Stauff to remit their fines and discharge them, they, Rohl and Stauff, to pay all costs and dismiss all suits by them against the citizens, and the city to dismiss all proceedings against them. This was done, and the money for paying the costs mostly raised by subscription, the larger part being contributed by the temperance people.

CONCLUSION.

In conclusion we desire to compare briefly the Brown county of to-day with the Brown county of 1855. The first tax collected in the county was for the year 1856, and the total tax for that year amounted to $52. The taxes of 1875 amounted to $83,144. The first assessment roll of the county now in existence is that of 1857, which shows a taxable property in the county of 38,078, of which $1400 was for four slaves. The assessment roll of 1876 shows a taxable property of $3,162,690. In 1855 the first farms were opened and the first crops planted. Until that time no plow had ever disturbed the virgin soil. In 1876 175,040 acres were under cultivation, an increase of 26,000 acres over 1875. In 1875, after thousands of acres of crops had been destroyed by grasshoppers, there were raised in the county 200,000 bushels of small grain, 2,750,000 bushels of corn, 1,000,000 lbs of broom corn, 50,000 bushels of potatoes, and smaller quantities of sweet potatoes, flax, sorghum and millet. The total products of the county for that year being valued at $1,162,820. The crop of 1876 will be much larger and the money value will be considerably more. In 1857 there were 135 head of horses and 684 head of cattle. In 1876 there were 6194 head of horses and 17,184 head of cattle. In 1857 there were no animals to sell for slaughter and very few slaughtered for home consumption. In 1875 the value of animals slaughtered and sold for slaughter was $200,000. In 1857 the first fruit trees were planted in the county. To-day there are 115,645 apple trees growing, of which 18,794 are bearing fruit. There are 1371 pear trees, 155,260 peach trees, and 19,080 cherry trees, now, in good condition. This would make an average of 32 fruit trees to each man, woman and child in the county. This does not include the trees in nurseries covering 377 acres and numbering millions. In addition to this there are 25 acres of vineyards in the county and an immense quantity of the smaller fruits. Who can estimate the quantity of fruit that will be produced in the county in 1886? The sales of butter and eggs for 1875 were nearly $40,000. In 1854 the first white man settled in the county; to-day there is a population of 9000. There were no schools and no churches; to-day there are seventy-five schools taught in the county at an expense of $30,000 per annum, and twenty church organizations are actively engaged in educating the people up to a higher life.

The future promises to be a bright one for our county. With a soil and climate unsurpassed in the United States; with an enterprising, honest, industrious and temperate class of settlers, the future prosperity of the county is assured. In only one respect is Brown county unlike the other counties of the state. It has NO WHISKY SALOON and NO JAIL! It will never need the former; may it never have any use for the latter.

THE END.

Transcribed from History and Statistics of Brown County, Kansas, comp. by E. N. Morrill, Hiawatha, Kan., Kansas herald book, news, and job office, July 4, 1876.

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