Twenty-seven years ago, John Erwin, one of our first settlers, and who now lives about a mile north of this city, came through here and went on to the place where Solomon now stands. There, about 21 miles west of this place, he commenced breaking prairie. At this time there were but two or three white settlers in the county, and the prairies abounded in buffalo, elk, deer and wild turkey. Several tribes of Indians were then in the habit of roaming over this part of the state. They found this section of the country favorable for hunting, and many were the parties of Cheyennes, Kaws, Pottawtamies, Delawares, Kickapoos and other tribes who came along the Smoky Hill river and crossed Chapman creek, going back and forth engaged in their pastimes.
Our Indian Hill, just west of town, was a place of especial importance to them, and the Kaws and some other tribes had a burial ground on this high point. Here it was that the squaws used to gather on many occasions, after a few of the first settlers came, and sing their death songs for three nights in succession. Their wailings and lamentations over the graves could be heard a long distance on the still night air, by the early and lonely pioneers.
These different tribes of Indians were often at war with each other, and their fighting and plundering were much feared by all the first settlers. Mr. Erwin had three yoke of oxen, and the great droves of running buffalo caused him to abandon and give up his job of breaking prairie at Solomon.
These herds of buffalo were so immense, and ran in such numbers, that he feared on several occasions, that they would sweep down over him and his teams and trample him and the oxen to death. One drove was from half to three miles in width, and was three days in passing. The beginning and the end of these mighty herds could not be seen.
Their running over the plains would be continuous at times, sounding like distant thunder, and woe be to the poor traveller who fell in their way, unless he could gain some sheltering nook of land or trees for protection, the great moving herd would sweep on and over him like a rushing avalanche.
A monster drove came tearing along one day when some eight or ten teams were passing. Mr. Erwin took his rifle and fired at the foremost approaching bulls. This caused the herd to divide, a part to the right and a part to the left, but it was several hours before the great drove passed them. No man could guess the thousands, or even the hundreds of thousands in that monster moving mass.
When the sounds of the rushing multitude had died away and the travellers had left for another home, Mr. Erwin felt his only safety lay in getting further east, but the next spring he took the claim on Chapman creek where he now lives, one of the most prosperous farmers in the country.
Here Mr. Erwin broke prairie in 1858 and planted his first crop of sod corn. Some of this corn was put in as late as the 18th day of June and it yielded sixty bushels an acre, and never was plowed, cultivated or hoed.
About 1857 Judge Freeman came in, about five miles north of Mr. Erwin, and a Mr. Linnen came and settled where Chapman now stands. Mr. Hersey also had settled at Abilene, and at these long distances apart a few pioneers lived, braving the Indians, wild animals and other difficulties of a lonely pioneer life.
In 1858 and '59 there were a few more families came and settled in the vicinity of Chapman creek, but they were so few that the visits of the Indians were yet feared and dreaded. In 1858, M. Hogan came and built a house close to the first named settler mentioned.
In this early time, the Cheyennes were feared, perhaps more than any other tribe of Indians, as they were always on the war path. The Pawnees, Kaws and some other tribes were constantly stealing horses, while the Pottawatamies, Delawares, Sacs and Foxes, and a few others were peaceable and friendly.
The nearest mill the pioneers then had, was at Council Grove. The first corn crop raised where any part of the town now stands was planted by James Linnen. It was planted in 1857 and there was a good yield. The field was where the Catholic Church now stands.
It must be remembered that a large party of white men, with three hundred Canzas warriors accompanied by their squaws and dogs, went up through here as early as 1824 and visited the land of the Padouca's, a tribe of Indians whose home was near the headwaters of the Smoky Hill river.
Probably Judge Freeman, who settled and now lives about six miles north of this city, and who came here in 1855, was about the first actual settler on Chapman creek. The city of Chapman was named after the creek or river running into the Smoky from the north.
Speaking about the game, some of the first settlers say that they depended entirely upon the meat of the buffalo, antelope, deer &c., for themselves and families, for several years after they came to this country to reside. This wild meat could be secured in great abundance at times, and they had what we cannot now procure, regular feasts on buffalo tongue, antelope, venison and wild turkey breasts. The turkeys would come into the timber on Chapman creek and from a single tree, or a single roost, the number of fifteen to twenty-five could be obtained, and frequently the hunter would take a wagon load to Fort Riley and sell them to the officers of the Post for just what they could get. Sometimes a big fat turkey, weighing twenty pounds or more, would only sell for twenty-five cents.
When the seasons came for the buffalo to roam back and forth in their greatest numbers, the Indian tribes would come with their squaws, papooses, ponies and dogs, and the pioneers have seen as many as a thousand of these red men of the forests and plains and a like number of their horses, in camp on the river bottoms near where Chapman now stands. At these times the different tribes frequently fought each other, in fact the fights were more common between such tribes, than they were between them and the whites.
On one occasion a party of Cheyennes attacked and killed a little band of Pawnees, even to the last man, scalping their fallen enemy, and literally cutting out their hearts. The Cheyennes were fierce and bloody, and with their top-knot of hair and feathers, riding the prairies, armed with hatchets, knife, bow and arrows, and often with guns, they presented a strange and curious appearance. They wore but little dress, the loin or breech cloth answering all purposes, and with this exception, in warm weather, were entirely naked. The Pottawatamies, Delawares, and other peaceable tribes, generally had long black hair, and they wore either an old hunting shirt, leggins, or blanket and pants. Dress, however, did not occupy much of their time.
Among the peaceable, as well as the wilder and more savage tribes, many of the squaws and some of the chiefs had finely worked dresses of skin and cloth, and these seemed to take great pride in their display of fantastic and gaudy colors. Frequently the moccasins, leggins and skirt of both braves and squaws would be neatly and elegantly worked with beads and unique and curious designs. As with all other American Indian tribes, the squaws had all the drudgery and hard labor thrust upon them, while the braves engaged in hunting, or were upon the war path against their enemies.
The first settlers mentioned together with others, such as John Powers and Wes Delaney give many thrilling incidents that occurred in this vicinity. It may be well to say right here, that both Mr. Powers and Mr. Delaney came upon to this neighborhood from Fort Riley, at a period as early as 1854. They did not settle here quite as early as others, that is, to go to farming. Thomas Howe was one of the first comers, and he well remembers the old days of hunting buffalo, the camping of the Indians with all their paraphernalia of peace and pleasure, camping and warfare.
Some of the families on Chapman creek, when they went to their beds at night, would always see that such rifles, pistols and other arms that they possessed, were well loaded and the powder and shot handy in case of an attack at night. It did not work well to take much chance with a redskin under the best of circumstances, as the murdered inmates of many a lonely cabin have attested.
Thomas M. Howe, who lives about three miles southeast of town on the south bank of the Smoky, says that he has seen as many as one thousand Indians and fifteen hundred of their ponies encamped on the bottom land near the place where his house now stands. About one hundred acres of grass were eaten bare by these horses.
When there were so many of the red men in the neighborhood, the few white families felt their inability to protect themselves in case of any difficulty, and used every effort to avoid anything that might lead to the slightest trouble. It is almost a wonder that these few families succeeded so well in keeping at peace with the roaming bands that camped and hunted in their vicinity.
Mr. Howe and family came here in 1858 and in '59 he raised a small crop of corn. The appearance of that little crop was very different from the many acres of golden wheat and monster corn that now greets one as they approach the place. There is a spring on this farm which is indeed a curiosity.
The water that runs from the spring on Mr. Howe's place is clear and cool, and it is no wonder that the Aborigines, in their wanderings from East to West, found here, one of the most available camping places in this section of the country. The spring at its mouth rolls out of a basin, some seventy feet in diameter, and the volume is enough to run a small mill. When the weather is coldest in the winter months the water is so warm that the steam and fog arise and hang over, as if there were, indeed, something remarkable existing out on the prairies at this place. There are other fine springs in the vicinity of Chapman, which are curiosities.
All these important points of land and springs of water, which exist in the different localities, near where our town now stands, were favored ones for the Kaws, Pawnees, Pottawatamies and other tribes, when they were hunting buffalo and other game on these great stretches of prairie and bottomland.
The springs, rivers, prairies and many other objects of interest, in this part of the state, were first mentioned by M. DeBourgmont in his trip to the land of the Padoucas in 1824, and the first white men visiting here, have from time to time, made especial mention of the scenery and country along the valley of the Smoky. From the very first accounts it seems that there was no place where the buffalo, antelope and other wild game abounded in such quantities as in this locality.
When Judge George W. Freeman first came into this country to reside, where he now lives, some five miles north of the present City of Chapman, he experienced many of the trials and perils, incident to those who settle where none but "the savage and wild beast dwell."
To those who are interested in the events which transpired in this section before the year 1860, and from that time until the present, one cannot go to a better informed man than the old Judge, to get the facts. He, like the others, hunted and stored up his stock of buffalo and antelope meat for the coming winter, and raised crops of the most available vegetables and grain. He became, afterwards, the first County Judge of Dickinson, and is now one of the oldest of the surviving "first officers" of the county. He can point you out many Indian graves, where lie buried the braves, with their implements of hunting and warfare, and perhaps their sacrificed dog or pony lying beside them. On one occasion, there was a chief died, and the tribe to which he belonged buried him on Indian Hill. His guns and dogs were buried with him in the same grave, yet his squaw was made a bloody sacrifice, and her body buried on the bottom land below. It is strange that the squaw should be buried apart from the chief, as it seems that her services would be as necessary for him in the "happy hunting ground" as his dogs or pony.
As a general thing these graves were never disturbed by the white people, and there are many evidences existing showing their exact location. In the earlier years the settlers would hardly risk the experiment of molesting the body and other buried articles of a member of any tribe, for large numbers of the braves might at any moment return and wreak a bloody vengeance upon the whole neighborhood.
Where the City of Chapman now stands, James Linnen and his brother, some twenty-six years ago, were pasturing their horses and cattle, and raising a little corn and a small patch of potatoes.
From the place now called Horse Shoe Bend on Chapman creek; James Linnen built a heavy rail fence across to the point of Indian Hill that reaches to the Smoky. In that fencing across from point to point, the Linnens claimed a squatter sovereign's right to all the hundreds of acres enclosed. They could pasture as much stock as they desired, and they could put in as much of a crop as they pleased, without any fear of trouble from outsiders.
From 1857 to 1863, there were but few patches of corn and potatoes raised in all the county, and these were small ones. There were no monster fields of golden wheat, such as could be seen on every hand before the harvest.
Near where the bridge now crosses Chapman creek, in this fence mentioned, there was a large gate, which was often kept locked, to the great inconvenience of those who desired to go back and forth up and down the valley of the Smoky.
There was one of the finest pieces of timber, near the railroad bridge, that existed in the county. This timber was oak, elm, walnut and hackberry, and the most of it has now disappeared before the axe of the enterprising settler. In this connection let me mention that the first house built near where Abilene now stands, was built of logs which had been eaten off by the beavers.
One of the old settlers was Patrick Sheeran. He came in 1861, and was one of the three parties who first owned the land the City of Chapman now covers. Mr. Sheeran, Streeter and Strickler, and the railroad company, afterwards had the town laid out and platted off into blocks and lots.
The old fence spoken of, was in existence some four or five years. This beautiful bottom land point, between the river and creek, made a grand pasture for the Linnens, but was soon purchased and taken up by other parties.
About fifteen years ago Mr. Sheeran raised his first crop of fall wheat. This was on the land north and west of the school house. The yield was about twenty-five bushels per acre. There were but few pieces of land put in with wheat, or in fact with any other crop, in those days. The pioneers were at such long distances apart, and there being no fences to protect the crops planted, they were exposed to the roaming herds of cattle, wild beasts and other trespassers, and it was not until some years afterwards that farmers began to flock in and take up the land.
There were a great many beavers, who built their dams and houses along the river and creek at favorable places for several years after the time when Mr. Sheeran located here.
There was no bridge across the Smoky, and parties had to go down the river bottom, at the place where Thomas M. Howe now resides, and cross at rocky ford. For years before the iron bridge was put in at Chapman, there was a canoe, or boat, the place where the bridge now stands, but only foot travelers could cross, or those who could swim their horses.
There is an interesting Indian legend connected with the high point of land just west of town. As the writer has already remarked, this Indian Hill was the burying ground for the red men for a long time before the white settlers came here to live.
The Indian Hill burial ground was not only an important point for some of the tribes to take observations at a distance, but some half century ago, this burial ground became the central point for a number of desperate and bloody fights between different bands of the Aborigines.
Before writing the legends of Indian Hill, it may be well to mention some other important facts. Michael Hogan with his family settled on the east side of the creek, not far from his present residence, in 1858. He put in a crop of fall wheat during the very last days of November, in that year, upon sod ground, which had been broken some two months previous. This is thought to be the first crop of wheat ever raised in the county. Mr. Hogan was obliged to go to Council Grove, or even a longer distance, in order to get his wheat or corn ground into flour and meal. The next year he put in another crop of fall wheat and the yield was one of the largest he ever raised. His first crop was threshed with the old fashioned flail, and the second was tramped out with horses. Quite a difference between that time and this year, when we see the large steam threshers going out of town to the great wheatfields almost every day. Mr. Hogan raised forty acres of corn in 1859. This was a crop of sod corn. The yield was a good one, and he sold the corn all the way from twenty-five cents up to $1.50 per bushel.
Mr. Hogan experienced the usual hardships incident to the pioneer, among the least of which was to go with an ox team 150 miles to Leavenworth for groceries, taking his family with him, or leaving them with some neighbor at Fort Riley, lest they might be molested by prowling savages. In speaking of the Indians, he says, that there have been many hundreds camped on the creek and river bottoms here, at a time, and when they were on a hunting expedition and stopped for a few days, their drums could be heard and the braves could be seen engaged in various dances about the camp fires. He purchased his first Kansas horse of the Sacs and Foxes. He, like Mr. Erwin, and some others, remember a bloody fight which took place about four miles north of town, between the Pawnees and Pottawatamies or Kaws. The next day one of the Pawnees flourished the bloody scalp of his enemy at Mr. Howe, and with a Pawnee yell rode away on his pony.
The beavers were numerous on the lower part of the creek and cut down many trees from six to twelve inches in diameter. They would fell these trees in such a way as to best make a dam in the river, wherein to build their houses. In some cases they were known to gnaw a tree half off or more, that would measure two feet through. Their houses were ingeniously built and in such manner that if they were attacked by bears, panthers, or other enemies they could escape to the water and reach safe hiding places.
It is but twenty-five years since the Indian tribes came through here on their various expeditions, and since the first white men began to settle and commenced farming in a small way, and now our young city is daily filled with enterprising farmers and business men. One day this week at one of our steam elevators eighty-three large wagon loads of new fall wheat came in from the farms and were unloaded. This fact is mentioned, in connection with the above in order to show the wonderful change from wild and savage life to a land of school, churches and civilization in so short a period of time. It is but a little more than twenty-five years that Judge Freeman, John Erwin, Thomas J. Howe, Michael Hogan, L. L. Warnock, John Nash, Wm. Delaney, John Lundrigan, John Powers, Mrs. M. Kelley, Mrs. Catherine Ryan, Mrs. Davan, whose oldest son was burned in a fearful prairie fire, and others began to raise their few crops under the greatest of difficulties, living in fear of savage tribes who roamed here at will and these very first settlers are today among the most wealthy farmers and stock-raisers.
According to the traditions of some of the Aborigines, a large number of the Padoucas, whose home was somewhere near the head waters of the Smoky, came down that river one season for the purpose of securing a supply of buffalo meat for their tribe. As the old legend runs, this section of country was a Great Desert, extending for many miles east and west, and producing nothing but buffalo grass, and this only at certain seasons of the year, when immense herds of these shaggy coated monsters would sweep back and forth from the land of the Dakotas to the plains of Indian Territory and Texas. It was the custom of the Padoucas, and several other tribes, to intercept these immense droves of bison, and lay in great quantities of skins and meat.
At the time mentioned, more than a thousand braves and squaws were camped on and near Indian Hill. The buffalo were not yet in sight in any direction, and a grand "buffalo dance" had been ordered to commence that night, and not cease until the "Great Manitou" caused the game to appear in sight. No rain had come for many moons and the valleys and plains were dry and parched. Game of all kind was scarce and starvation was sorely pressing the encamped tribes. When the grand dance -- which always brought the buffalo, if only continued long enough and without any cessation was about to commence -- the outgoing scouts and runners came in and reported not only that buffalo could be seen coming at a long distance to the northwest but that a large band of Cheyenne warriors were close upon them and preparing to attack them. This tribe was much feared by the Padoucas, and many fierce and bloody struggles had already taken place between them. Preparations were at once made to meet the dreaded foes. The children and squaws were placed not far from the top of Indian Hill, and the armed braves went out to meet their savage enemies. After several sharp and bloody encounters had taken place that night and during the next day, a solitary unarmed Cheyenne warrior was seen riding slowly towards them. He brought a message from his Chief to the effect that if Paloca, the chief of the Padoucas, who had a beautiful daughter, would send him this squaw for a bride, with an accompanying present of one hundred ponies, he would withdraw his braves from this part of the country, and the tribe of the Padoucas might hunt the buffalo in peace. Paloca was proud and haughty and although his tribe was suffering for meat, he sent back word to the powerful Cheyenne leader; that if he wanted Eola, the daughter of Chief Paloca for a bride, he must come and fight for her. That she was loved by her tribe and the sand of Indian Hill should be dewed with the blood of every brave in his camp ere she should light the fires and cook the meat of the Cheyenne.
The wrath of the bloody attacking chief was now kindled afresh, and on the night after receiving the message of his opponent, he began hostilities as if the vengeance of his whole tribe was aroused. The party of men, women and children was now assailed on every available quarter, and within forty-eight hours the hunger of the inmates of the assaulted camp was getting past endurance.
Just as the evening of the second day's fight closed, a beautiful Indian maiden, with a score of lithe squaws as followers, and all armed with the weapons to which they were accustomed, crept down below the camp, saddled and mounted their ponies, and silently made their way up Chapman creek toward the great stretches of prairies where the buffalo were seen feeding by the scouting runners. The shadows of evening assisted them in evading the Cheyennes, and before midnight they rode upon a drove of bison that had lain down for their usual rest.
Within an hour the quick handed and dark-eyed squaws had dispatched a number of the half sleeping animals, cut out the hump steaks and tongues, and were hastening back to relieve the starving braves, squaws and children of their tribe. They were fortunate in evading the Cheyenne warriors until they were on the outskirts of their own starving people. It was just at morning's dawn, and the brave maiden who was leading her companions ordered them to follow her in a grand dashing effort to get into camp. She shot the surprised Cheyenne warrior who attempted to stop her, and then, with yells of triumph, the brave squaws dashed past and almost over a sleeping dozen of his companions, and were met by their own weary, watching Padouca braves at the very door of Chief Paloca's tent. The meat was soon distributed among the hungry warriors and the success of the strange expedition was considered an omen of fortune in the future.
The Padocas were encouraged and cheered, not only because they had a temporary supply of food, but they had the twenty-one brave squaws back in the camp to assist the men. Preparations were at once made by Paloca to make a more determined defense, and he called the old warriors and medicine men into council and it was agreed that they should commence offensive movements at once.
The next day, Eola, the chief's daughter, organized a small band of Indian maidens into a company, to act under her order. They were armed and equipped and having obtained the chief's consent, immediately began a series of aggressive movements on their foe.
The Cheyennes could not understand the movement of the Padouca squaws in rushing over their sleeping braves and killing one of their number on the morning previous. They were divided in opinion and many of them thought that quite a large reinforcement of warriors had come to join the camp, and had taken them a supply of food. Many were dispirited and refused to make further attacks until something more definite was learned. When they ascertained from their own hunters, the rage of the Cheyenne Chief knew no bounds. He was further greatly angered when one of his prisoners, who was captured that evening, taunted him with the fact that the Padouca chief's daughter, had, with a score of squaws, passed unobserved by his hundreds of braves and returned to camp with a large supply of provisions in safety, and that she, with her own hand killed one of his warriors so doing. From this prisoner he further learned that Eola was betrothed to a chief of a neighboring tribe, and that within a short time this young chief was expected with a large band of warriors, who would come and take her from the surrounded camp, and sweep the Cheyennes away like falling leaves.
The old chief then sent the prisoner back to the Padoucas with the message that the great insults and wrongs to his tribe would now be avenged, and that nothing short of lives of all at Indian Hill would be an atonement. That he had invoked the Great Spirit of the Hot Winds to come and still further parch and dry up the land of the Padoucas until the last of the tribe would perish by hunger and thirst. That there was but one thing that could now satisfy the great Cheyenne Chief, and that was, Eola as his squaw, and that he cared not for the ponies.
The answer of Eola was; "that she was betrothed," and that while Paloca, her father, had urged her to accept the great Cheyenne's proposal, she would never do it. That her tribe would stand by her side and fight for her until the last brave was slain, and that her lover's blood should dampen the parched sands of the prairies, and her spirit be taken by the hot dry winds, ere she would be the Cheyenne chief's bride.
That night the lover of Eola crept down the Smoky with a hundred dusky warriors, and after a sharp fight, entered the Padouca's camp.
The Cheyennes were reinforced by scores of home warriors, and the next morning the terrible fight began.
On the morning of the third day the Padoucas had cut their way through the Cheyennes and removed their old men, squaws and children, and under a strong guard were taken up the valley of the Smoky.
Eola with her band of armed squaws remained with her lover and many braves, at the camp, for the purpose of guarding the important movements, while her father went with the body of the tribe. Here, at Indian Hill, the fighting was continually kept up, and the Cheyenne chief seemed to know that the maiden he desired was yet at the camp. He ordered his braves to surround the party, and woe be to them if they let any one escape alive, but that all captured squaws be at once brought before him.
The party now left at the camp felt and knew that they were in close quarters. They could witness the death and scalping of all their number, who fell at the hands of their enemies. They sent runners to Paloca and asked him to send back a part of the braves under his command; but whether these ever reached him was a matter of uncertainty. The number at Indian Hill was now fast growing less from the incessant attacks of the fierce Cheyennes, who believed they would soon have the camp in their power.
The 5th day after Paloca left, the number at Indian Hill had been reduced to less than a hundred. That day a party of five warriors fought their way into the besieged camp, and brought each a pony, loaded with choice antelope and buffalo meat. They brought the word from the Padouca chief that as soon as he could send word to the mountains in the Great West, he would have a large band of braves hasten to the relief of Eola, and those who loved her. He urged Eola to be brave in her determination never to become the bride of his enemy.
The lover of Eola knew their situation was one of great danger. He counseled with his oldest and most trusted braves and it was deemed the wisest and safest course to attempt an escape. To do this, a party of braves was to make an attack at the mouth of Chapman creek, and while so doing, the young chief was to take Eola, and all the remainder, and make haste up the valley of the Smoky. That night was fixed for this movement. The party who made the attack on Chapman creek was driven back with great loss, and the main body of braves, who attempted to move up the valley found themselves pressed at every point. When the morning came, more than half of all the Padoucas had been killed, and the successful Cheyennes now had the few remaining at the camp closely surrounded in such a manner that any attempt to escape appeared useless.
The braves gathered about Eola, the few remaining squaws, and their young chief, and pledged themselves to the last. They had not long to wait, for at once the blood-thirsty savages poured upon them. One by one they fell, and at mid-day the young chief lay a corpse at Eola's feet. The powerful Cheyenne leader, elated with success and knowing his advantage, led a final charge with orders to spare none save the chief's daughter.
As the last were being slain an old warrior escaped with Eola, to the highest point on Indian Hill, closely pursued by hundreds of enemies. The old brave fell in a death struggle with his adversaries, leaving Eola alone, surrounded with scores of her dreaded enemies. For a moment all was still, and then a great rushing, roaring sound came from the South. The Great Spirit of the Hot Dry Winds had come, and Eola was taken up in its dark, sweeping arms and carried away, never to be seen again on earth. The Cheyenne leader covered with blood and conquest, together with his dusky warriors turned and fled in dismay.
According to this old legend, the rains then fell in abundance, and the great prairies and valleys of the Smoky were soon covered with grass and herbage, and the buffalo failed not to come any more for long seasons in the future. The trees grew afresh, the streams were full of water and fish, and the Padoucas once more hunted over their old lands. But the Cheyennes never (entered) the valleys of the Smoky, nor Indian Hill again.
Our first settlers, when entertaining the chief or an important warrior of some of the tribes who last camped and hunted in this section of Kansas, could induce them, if friendly, to impart perhaps some portion of these old legends, like the foregoing, but it was often the case that they were reticent about their former history.
To resume our history proper, George Snyder built a store on the east side of Chapman creek near where M. Hogan lives. For a time Mr. Snyder was the only merchant, and had the only store for miles around. The name of Chapman Creek has been gradually giving way to Chapman.
In 1871, Scott Poor succeeded in getting the post office from Mr. Snyder, and had it brought into the station the Railway Co. kept. Mr. Poor was the first station agent. Soon after started a small store at corner where Snyder's large new Banner Corner now is, and carried it on for several years. Mr. Snyder came over from the east side of the creek and opened a store just back of where the depot stands. This store he carried on until he built and opened the "Banner Corner" in 1881.
The town "dragged its slow length along" for several years with scarcely a half dozen buildings.
Mr. Snyder was reappointed Post Master. In these early days, the salary of the post-master was the enormous sum of $11 per year.
It was not until 1875 that J. A. Whitehair opened a shop where both iron and wood-work were done.
The surrounding country filled up slowly with farmers and trade coming in at the place was slow and uncertain.
In 1878, P. F. and J. A. Whitehair opened a hardware store just east of the present school house; this store within two years afterwards, moved to the site so long occupied by them and now by W. H. Roe .
The stone school house was built at the close of a long struggle between a few contesting elements. It was finished in 1880 by Scott Poor. It is a nice building, having two large rooms, one above and one below, aside from its commodious entrance halls and stairways, but already the growth of the town has been so rapid that another room with the third teacher may have to be added the coming session.
The present M. E. church, a structure of ample size well finished and furnished, was at first put up in the eastern part of town. Rev. J. A. Antrim had commenced his pastoral labors here, preaching in the school house. When the new church frame was erected a severe wind storm blew it down. The congregation with the aid of the citizens again put it up on the original foundation, but another terrific storm came on the following Good Friday, and completely demolished the structure. Like all Western people of energy, the congregation went to work, secured the lot where the church now stands, and soon had another edifice even better than that at first proposed.
In 1880 Patrick Sheeran built the large stone store on the corner of Grant Street and Marshall Avenue, which is now occupied by F. C. Yerkes & Co. This store building was first filled as a general store by Berry Bro's., who are so extensively engaged in trade at Abilene.
In 1880, Patrick and James Scanlan, our well known firm of Scanlan Bro's., built their first store and filled it with a general assortment suited to the trade. They had been in the county several years, or from 1871. They put up the building now occupied and owned by T. J. Foley, on Marshall avenue. Here they continued in trade for nearly two years when they built the store now occupied by them.
On Wednesday, April 27th, 1881, E. Fancher, the present city treasurer, started a grocery on the corner of Grant street and Marshall avenue opposite the building of Sheerans. This was the first exclusive grocery.
In a short time after Mr. Fancher opened his grocery, his trade increased and he made an addition to both the store and stock of goods. Mr. J. C. Russel then came in as a partner, and the present large frame building was erected on the corner, south of the rail road. One of the first houses built was that put up by Jas. and P. Sheeran at the foot of Indian Hill eventually became the kitchen of Banning's large and commodious hotel. The livery barn of S. R. Hoag nearest the depot, was originally built and occupied by Al. Gibson and is six or seven years old. The American House, owned and occupied by D. S. Jackman, on Marshall avenue, was erected by P. F. and J. A. Whitehair as a private residence. It was sold to Mr. Poor and about eighteen months ago was purchased by its present proprietor and is now, with additions, one of the finest hotels in the county.
The present building, occupied by Dr. P. V. Roudiez, or a part of it, was once a part of the old store on the "Banner Corner". I may as well mention here, that the Dr. is one of the best known physicians and surgeons in the county, having located in this vicinity some seven years ago. He moved into the town of Chapman two years ago. The Opera House was erected by M. E. Boles, H. G. Boles and one or two other parties, and before completion was sold to Whitehair. This opera house was finished in 1884 and is a credit to our town. Underneath this hall is the large and well filled furniture store of W. H. Irion & Co.
The term of school in the stone school house was commenced by F. B. Lillie. He occupied the lower room, and had an attendance of twenty scholars. The school board soon had the upper room finished and Mr. Lillie took the upper department with the more advanced pupils, and Robt. McMillan was employed to teach in the lower department. These schools were (completed) in the year 1881. The building on Marshall avenue, now occupied by Knight & Stearns as a meat market, was erected by the railway company for a section boarding house. John W Campbell has located a meat market on the south side, just east of Russel & Fancher's.
The two large steam elevators in this city are a credit to the place and do an immense business. One is owned and operated by D. W. and James Naill; the other by A. J. Poor; with these facilities, Chapman is the best grain market in Dickinson County.
The first stock of drugs brought to Chapman was that of Dr. J. A. Colley, and they were placed in the store of S. E. Poor, already mentioned. This stock was soon closed out and no more were brought until George Snyder ordered a small stock of those in the most common use, to his general stock of goods,and these he closed out after the Banner Corner store was in operation.
It should here be said that Dr. Colley, in selling his drugs, did not abandon his practice of medicine, but he has continued that for several years, faithfully, and with much satisfaction to his large circle of friends and patrons. It is now some seven years since he came to this place. His office is on Marshall avenue and parties who call on him will find a reliable gentleman and a good doctor.
F. B. Lillie was the first to put up an exclusive drug store. He put in, at first, a stock of about $600, but his trade increased; the building was enlarged, and he now has one of the neatest drug and book stores in the county, with a stock of about $4000.
In this connection, the new drug store of Sheeran & Gunn on Grant street, on the south side of the railway, should be spoken of. Dr. Thos. N. Gunn came into Chapman to practice medicine. Being an old graduate and practitioner, and finding no office, he was not so easily discouraged. On looking about, everything was taken in the shape of a room; but Patrick Sheeran had him a good office, and a neat and comfortable drugstore. Their stock comprises everything found in a first-class drug store, the firm in the drug business being Sheeran & Gunn, but Dr. Gunn, while giving much time to prescriptions in the store, finds time to attend to a large and lucrative practice of medicine. The Dr. is a scholarly gentleman and will have all he can do in his profession.
The greatest growth of the town has been within the year last past, and during that time a greater part of its buildings were erected. The most important of these has been the Catholic Church, which is large enough for a cathedral. This church was commenced by Father Carius and is now in charge of Father Hurley. It is the finest structure in the city and would be a credit to any of our largest cities. It was commenced in 1882-3, and is completed. The building is of fine proportions and cost, some $25,000.
The Congregationalists have a nice and commodious church and parsonage which cost some $6,000, and is an ornament to our little city. The first blacksmith who started in town was A. M. Sanborn, who put up a shop near Frost's corner in 1873. P. F. & J.A. Whitehair, in the year 1875, started the iron and wood working business on the corner of Marshal avenue and Seymour street. In 1879, Geo. W. Hanson Esq. purchased half interest in this establishment, and that of P.F. Whitehair, and the business was continued for several years under the name of J. A. Whitehair & Co. Mr. Hanson looked after the iron-works, and Mr. Whitehair the wood-work department. In the spring of 1881, G. A. Talbot purchased the interest of J. A. Whitehair. About the same time Mr. Hanson erected the large, new shop on Seymour St. just west of Scanlan Bros. store, and the whole iron and wood-working business was removed from the old corner to this new building, where it has been since continued. The next in order will be mentioned J. K. Frost.
J. K. Frost, our well known blacksmith and machine repairer, of the north side, located in Chapman in 1877. He built the shops and residence now at the corner, known as Frost's corner, near the Catholic church, and has since that time carried on the iron and wooding business successfully. His shops, although not large, contains a stock of iron and wood, which would do credit to a house of five times its dimensions. But the people well know Mr. Frost and will patronize him.
One Wm. Hetherington started the first sign and house painting shop, in August, 1883. Ed. Sparks opened a regular painting house at the north part of the Hoag livery barn on the corner near the school house. In January, 1884, John C. Sparks purchased his interests and soon after moved the shop to the rear of Sparks' block, where both now carry on all kinds of sign, ornamental and house painting. In the meantime, Geo. W.Murphy opened and carried on a paint shop at the old Hanson & Whitehair corner.
In the month of May, 1884, B.R. Phillips & Co. opened an exclusive grocery and provision house in Jackman's block on Marshal avenue. Soon after opening, the same Mr. Phillips purchased the entire interest of his partner, Mr. Ingle, and succeeded to the business, where he now continues with a good and substantial trade.
In 1881, C. Correll put the first stock of lumber in our town. The large yards arranged by him, contains today a larger quantity of lumber than ever. It has been carried on in the name of L. A. Reed & Co. Mr. Correll has had the continued management and no man in our community enjoys greater confidence of the people.
Henry Moore came to this place about January first, 1884, and at the corner of Marshall avenue and Woodward street erected sheds, built an office, and put on the ground one of the largest and finest stocks of lumber and building materials in the county. He keeps everything in his line that our townsmen and the farmers can possibly want. Mr. Moore is an old dealer, and he soon secured a large trade.
Tyler & Son are our only dealers in harness and saddlery. They came to Chapman in 1882, and started a part of their present store. They have about three times the storeroom that was sufficient to accommodate them at first, and the growth of their trade is such that they now lack room. They have one of the best stocks to select from in the county.
In millinery, Mrs. F.B. Lillie was the first to open a small stock. This was a little over two years ago. On account of ill health, she soon gave up her work and closed out her remaining goods. Mrs. E. L. Garwood then opened a stock of millinery and commenced the dress-making business in connection therewith, in a small building on the south side of the track. She moved the business to the north side, in the spring of '81, into the Rondiez building, where she now continues. Mrs. J. C. Sparks came to the city in the summer of 1881 with a large stock of fashionable millinery and ladies dress goods, and she opened one of the finest stores of the kind in this county. She availed herself of the rooms on the north side of Sparks' new block, and the trade already built up by this lady is large and important. She has had years of experience and her goods and appointments indicate success.
Charles Wagner started, and has maintained our only city hair-dress and shaving rooms. He came here about eighteen months ago and located in a small room of Sheerans. He has now built a neat shop on the north side, and has one assistant. T. J. Foley purchased the building known as the old Scanlan store on Marshal avenue in 1883. Here he opened the first billiard hall in town. In the spring of 1883, he enlarged the same in the lower room and is still in business. It should here be remarked that Mr. Foley is one of the earliest settlers in this section of the county, having come here in 1869.
T. F. Begley then leased the large rooms over Scanlan & Bros'. store, where in the spring of 1884, he started a second billiard room; which has since been continued by him.
P. Donnelly, has fitted up the old restaurant house north of the depot for a boot, shoe, harness and saddle shop. He is a newcomer in town, and will mainly give his time to the making and repairing of boots and shoes.
At the old and well known Rolando place, Misses Mollie Wall and Nora Brosnahn have established dressmaking rooms for such of our ladies as please to patronize them.
Miss Kate McDonough has recently opened a dress-making parlor over Mrs. Sparks' millinery store, where she will also carry on this branch of business in all its latest and most fashionable styles.
On the 1st day of March last, 1884, the young city of Chapman was improving so rapidly, and the business and trade being so large, a bank was needed, and J. E. Martin & Co. of Abilene secured the new office erected by Snyder, and adjoining the Banner Store on the corner of Marshal avenue and Seymour street, where they put in a large fire and burglar proof safe, and commenced a regular banking business. Mr. Martin is quite well known to our community, having been connected with the First National Bank of Abilene for some time previous to his location here, and enjoys the confidence of all as an honest and efficient gentleman. His business in loans, buying and selling exchanges and other dealings incident to such an institution, will warrant a continuance of this bank.
Having only mentioned the large hardware store of J.C. Scott which was established this last Summer in Sheeran's new block, and Whitehair & Roe's large store of the same kind, which was sold to W. H. Roe, I should now make especial mention of the fact that Mr. Scott has attached to his hardware store one of the largest machinery warehouses in the county, where everything from a garden seed drill up to wagons and steampower threshers can be procured, and that Mr. Whitehair has filled a large store with the same kind of stock; while Mr. Roe has added a tin shop to his hardware store where he keeps a tinner constantly employed.
Both Messrs. Scott and Roe have large stocks of stoves in connection with their other goods. The rapid growth of the young city of Chapman has demanded many improvements, and our dry goods and grocery houses like George Snyder, Russel & Fancher, F. C. Yerkes & Co., and Scanlan Bros', have not only doubled but trebled their stock of goods.
Chapman has one of the best mill privileges on the Smoky Hill river, and this is in the corporate limits of town and within a "stones throw," almost, of the steam elevators. The day is not far distant when some party will utilize this with great profit. True, we have the flouring mill of D. S. Jackman only a mile from town on Chapman creek. Wh. H. Sutphen also has a mill six miles north of town on our favorite Chapman creek. This mill was built in 1877 and has an excellent reputation.
As this Early History of Chapman and vicinity is now coming to be too long, the writer abruptly closes.
Transcription of Original Publication by:
Wichita, KS 67205
The original publication is in a small (about 4" x 6") booklet advertising the merchants of Chapman, Kansas, which was published in 1884.
Ellen is a great granddaughter of James Howe who came with his brother, Patrick, and cousins Thomas and Michael Howe, and settled on the south side of the Smoky Hill River near it's junction with Chapman Creek in 1858. They were the original Irish immigrants for whom the town teams were called the "Fighting Irish." The Irish theme is still prominent throughout the town of Chapman.
Thank you for visiting this page,
I hope you have found this helpful.
Patricia Adams, County Coordinator
Thank you to Kathy Heidel, former Dickinson County Host, for her work on this project.
GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY COPYRIGHT NOTICE: In keeping with the KSGenWeb policy
of providing free information on the Internet, this data may be used by
non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied
material. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for
profit or other gain. Copying of the files within by non-commercial individuals
and libraries is encouraged. Any other use, including publication, storage
in a retrieval system, or transmission by electronic, mechanical, or other
means requires the written approval of the file's author.