William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]


The Territorial Legislature of 1855 defined the boundaries of the county as they still exist, and named it in honor of Joseph C. Anderson, speaker pro tem of the House, and member from the Fort Scott District, though a resident of Lexington, Mo. Provisions were also made for the organization of the county and the election of officers. George Wilson was appointed Probate Judge. He took the oath of office and was commissioned by acting Governor Woodson, on September 1, 1855. He then went to the house of Francis Myer, near where Greeley now is, and which he had designated as the temporary county-seat, arriving there September 15. He had notified William R. True and John C. Clark, who had been appointed Commissioners, and A. V. Cummings, who had been appointed Sheriff, to meet him there on that day and proceed to organize the county. Those gentlemen refused to do so, though Wilson made several attempts to have them qualify. On October 30 he made a personal appeal to Gov. Shannon for assistance, whereupon Francis Myer and F. P. Brown were appointed County Commissioners, and Henderson Rice, Sheriff. Myer qualified on January 2, 1856, but the others refused to do so.

On January 7, 1856, Wilson and Myer met at the house of the latter and formed themselves into a Probate and Commissioners' Court. Therefore the organization of the county dates from that time.

On January 12, 1856, the second session of the Probate and Commissioners' Court was held at Myer's house. Wilson as Judge, and Myer as Commissioner, were the only officers. A petition was presented, asking the appointment of David McCammon as Sheriff. This was done, and on January 18 McCammon qualified for the office.

On January 18, the next session of the Probate and Commissioners' Court was held at the same place. J. S. Waitman was appointed as Commissioner, and qualified and entered upon the duties of his office the same day. This made a full Board, with George Wilson as President. On the same day C. H. Price was appointed County Treasurer, and entered upon the duties of his office at once. He was also appointed Justice of the Peace for the county, and qualified on the 15th of the following March. He was the first to fill either of these offices for the county.

On February 4, the next Commissioners' meeting was held at the house of Sheriff McCammon. Thomas Totton was appointed Clerk for the County Board.

On March 9, at another meeting, a petition from Richard Golding and others, for the location of a road from Henry Sherman's, in Franklin County, to Cofachique, the county-seat of Allen, passing through the county-seat of Anderson, was considered, and David McCammon, James Townsley and Samuel Mack were appointed Commissioners to open the road, which was to be seventy feet wide. This was the first road located in the county.

The first legal notice was issued February 11, by George Wilson, Probate Judge, to Zack Schutte, commanding him to desist from trespass on school lands, Section 36, Township 19, Range 20. The notice was served the same day by the Sheriff. Another notice was served on John Waitman for the same cause.

On February 18, 1856, a petition was presented to the Commissioners signed by A. McConnell and fifteen others, requesting a permanent location of the county-seat. After consideration, David McCammon, James Townsley and Thomas Totton were appointed to locate the county-seat of Anderson County, with positive instructions that it should be located within three miles of the geographical center of the county.

On February 28, the committee reported the selection of the east half of Section 31, Township 20, Range 20 east. On March 1, the report was accepted, and the county-seat declared located at the above named place, which was named Shannon. All the county business was afterward transacted there until April 5, 1859.

March 1, 1856, the Commissioners allowed the first accounts against the county as follow: Francis Myer, $18; John Waitman, $15; George Wilson, $102.95; D. McCammon, $18. This was for services as Commissioners and Sheriff of the county up to February 18, 1856. On February 29, Thomas Totton was commissioned County Clerk by the Governor. On March 6, William Rogers was appointed Justice of the Peace, and John Rogers, Constable. On April 19, Anderson Cassel was commissioned Coroner by the Governor.

The first term of the District Court was held at the house of F. Myer, on the southeast quarter of Section 19, Township 19, Range 21 east. Court convened on the fourth Monday in April, 1856, with Sterling G. Cato, one of the United States District Judges on the bench. The Judge brought his clerk and prosecuting attorney with him. Court was in session an entire week, and devoted to securing indictments, but no arrests were made. The first grand jury was composed of C. E. Dewey, J. S. Waitman, H. Britten, J. Vanderman, C. H. Price, P. Tyler, William Rogers, J. Griffith, D. Frankenberger, I. B. Tenbrook, S. Mack and A. Wilkerson. Waitman was foreman.

First County Organization under State Law.--The first county officers under the State government after Kansas was admitted, in 1861, were: William Spriggs, State Senator; S. J. Crawford and W. F. M Arny, Representatives; A. Simons, County and District Clerk; Matthew Porter, Richard Robinson and T. G. Headley, Commissioners; J. Y. Campbell, Probate Judge; Henderson Cavender, Treasurer; C. J. Farley, Register of Deeds; G. A. Cook, Sheriff; B. F. Ridgeway, Surveyor; Rufus Gilpatrick, Superintendent of Schools; and B. P. Brown, Assessor.


From May, 1856, to January, 1857, no county business of any importance was transacted, on account of the warfare constantly going on between the Pro-slavery and Free-State parties.

In May, 1857, Thomas Hill was commissioned Sheriff of Anderson County, by the Governor, to fill the vacancy caused by the removal of McCammon. Hill was a resident of Franklin county.

On May 25, 1857, John McDaniel and Darius Frankenberger were appointed County Commissioners, to fill the vacancy caused by the removal of Waitman and Meyer [sic] from the county. Samuel Anderson was appointed Justice of the Peace.

The elections of delegates to the Lecompton Constitution was held June 15, 1857. James Y. Campbell and one other were chosen, each receiving thirty-two votes. This was the first election held in the county.

On July 20, 1857, the Commissioners established three election precincts and appointed an election board for each. Alanson Simpson was appointed County Clerk, and Samuel Anderson Probate Judge.

On September 10, 1857, a Free-State convention was held at the Sac and Fox Agency, to nominate candidates to the Free-State Legislature, from the nineteen disenfranchised counties, of which Anderson was one. Samuel J. Stewart, Christopher Columbia and John Curtis were nominated, and were elected the following October.

On September 21 a voting precinct was established at Hyatt, and another at Cresco.

On October 7, 1857, the County Commissioners divided the county into municipal townships, which were named Walker, Monroe, Jackson, Reeder, Harrison, Washington, Geary, Madison, Clay and Franklin. The four last named were never organized, and afterward became parts of other townships.

On November 16, M. T. Williams was appointed County Clerk, and on the 25th of the same month, B. F. Ridgeway was appointed County Surveyor.

On August 15, 1857, a mass meeting of the citizens of the county was held in the timber near the residence of A. Simons. William Puett was Chairman, and J. G. Reese, Secretary. Speeches were made, and a committee of nine were appointed to select candidates for the county offices, and representatives to the Territorial Legislature. W. F. M. Arny with his friends then withdrew, as they opposed doing anything that would recognize the "bogus laws." Arny and his friends held a meeting just across the ravine, and after deliberating decided that they would take no part in an election under the old law. Of this meeting Isaac Hall was Chairman.

On September 15 a Free-State convention was held at Hyatt, for the nomination of county officers. Isaac Hall was President. A full county ticket was nominated.

The first election of county officers took place on October 5, 1857. Returns were only given from four precincts, Cresco, Adington, Hyatt and Shannon. The result of this election gave a large majority for the nominees of the Free-State convention, but when the vote was canvassed, which was not until November 26, George Wilson, who was still Probate Judge, ordered all the returns except those from Shannon to be thrown out. This gave the election to the nominees of the Simons Grove convention, over which Puett had presided. Wilson then wrote a letter giving an explanation of his rejection of the precincts of Hyatt, Adington, Cresco and Greeley. He stated that in Greeley (or Blunt) precinct the returns were not properly signed by the judges and clerks of election; that in Hyatt and Adington precincts every kind of fraud was practiced; and that in Robinson precinct he believed many illegal votes had been cast. He stated that he sustained the vote of Shannon precinct as it was the only legal one in the county, and that the division of the others had not been properly authenticated until two days after the election, the Board of Commissioners having laid them off without sending any returns to the Secretary of State.


* W. F. M. Arny was a member of the Legislature from Anderson County in 1861, made a good reputation for ability; was appointed Indian Agent in New Mexico in the summer of 1861, and removed from Anderson County. He was afterward appointed Secretary of the above named Territory, and was its acting Governor for many years, during the absence of the incumbent of that office.


The decision of Wilson gave the election to Samuel Anderson as Probate Judge; G. A. Cook, Sheriff; A. Simons, Clerk; Isaac Hiner, Treasurer; Darius Frankenberger and John McDaniel, Commissioners, and B. F. Ridgeway, Surveyor. Acting Governor Stanton issued commissions to all the above, on November 28, 1857, and all qualified, except that Frankenberger, Simons and Cook refused to take the oath to support the "fugitive slave law," which part was omitted when they were sworn.

The Territorial Legislature of 1857 provided for a Recorder in each land district. Anderson County was in the Pawnee or Lecompton district. Geo. A. Reynolds was appointed to the office. Most of the instruments affecting real estate in the county were recorded at Lecompton for about three years after. The records were afterward moved to Lawrence, and destroyed by the rebel Quantrell when he made his raid on that town in 1863. The titles of many tracts of Anderson County land were recorded there, and this has necessarily caused trouble to procure a clear title.

On November 30, 1857, the County Commissioners entered into a contract with Dr. Preston Bowen to build a court house and jail at Shannon, and an appropriation of $1,000 was made.

The above act, as well as the action of the Probate Court in the canvass of the returns of the October election, aroused the indignation of the people, and the commissioners ordered an election that they might give expression to their sentiments.

This election was held on January 26, 1858, and the returns, canvassed on the 29th, showed a large majority for the resignation of the county officers and against the erection of public buildings. Therefore the two Commissioners elected in October, the Probate Judge, Sheriff and Clerk at once tendered their resignation, to take effect the third Monday of the next March.

On March 9, W. F. M. Arny, William Spriggs and W. L. Webster were elected delegates to the Leavenworth constitutional convention.

On February 12, 1858, the Legislature passed a law changing the Board of County Commissioners to a Board of Supervisors, consisting of the Chairman of each Township Board. The election was held on the fourth Monday in March, and resulted in the choice of James Y. Campbell for Probate Judge; G. A. Cook, Sheriff; M. Puett, Register of Deeds; B. F. Ridgeway, Surveyor; Jno. B. Still, County Attorney; and B. L. Adington, Clerk.

The first Board of Supervisors, and elected on the above date, were James E. White, Rezin Porter, Jno. McDaniel, A. McArthur, and Solomon Kauffman. Their first meeting was on June 2, and the first named was elected Chairman.

On June 14, 1858, the Supervisors entered into a contract with Dr. Preston Bowen to build a jail and court house, at his own expense, to be completed within one year. Shannon, the county-seat, was owned exclusively by Dr. Bowen. The jail was completed and work commenced on the court house when, in the spring of 1859, the county-seat was located at Garnett, by an Act of the Legislature, upon which the work was stopped on the buildings at Shannon. The county at one time used the jail, but it was afterward taken back by Bowen.

On August 2 an election was held on the adoption or rejection of the Lecompton constitution, and the result in Anderson County was 306 for and 4 against.

On October 4, 1858, L. D. Bailey, T. R. Roberts and William Spriggs were elected to the Territorial Legislature, from the nineteen disenfranchised counties.

The first meeting of the County Supervisors was held at Garnett, on April 5, 1859.

At an election in March, 1859, on the proposition for a State Constitutional convention, there were in Anderson County, out of one hundred and eighty-five votes, only seven against it.

An election was held on the first Tuesday in June, for a delegate to the convention from Anderson County, to frame a State Constitution. Dr. James G. Blunt and W. F. M. Arny were candidates. The former was elected, and in the convention at Wyandotte, which assembled in July, distinguished himself for ability.


In the early history of the county a number of town sites were laid out but which, with two exceptions, failed to become places of either permanence or importance.

Kansas City was the name of the first town site in the county. Its location was on Iantha Creek, on the west half of Section 27, and the east half of Section 28, Township 19, Range 18 east. It was selected by Dr. G. W. Cooper, who came from Louisville, Kentucky, to found a town somewhere in the Territory. He arrived at Kansas City, Missouri, May 1, 1856, and getting a letter--a sort of passport--from Gen. McClain, as a safeguard among the Pro-slavery men, he started on an exploring trip, and in the later part of the same month he selected and laid out the above named town site, on Iantha Creek. The name of the town was soon changed to Iantha. It was afterward pre-empted by John Murphy, John L. Clemens, Stephen B. Shotwell and Alex. Casseday. The first named built a cabin and made some improvements, but the remainder was pre-empted by one cabin, which was moved from one claim to another. This is all there ever was of the town.

Garnett and Greeley.--These towns were both surveyed in 1856, and have since become places of importance, their full history being given in the following pages.

Hyatt.--A colony for the purpose of settling in Anderson County was formed in Lawrence by Thaddeus Hyatt and W. F. M. Arny, in December, 1856. The colony numbered about 80 men, who had just been discharged from a Territorial militia company. On December 18 they selected the north half of the southeast quarter, and the northeast quarter of Section 10, Township 21, Range 19 east. There were then but three families in the western part of the county. Claims were selected by the colonists on Cedar and South Pottawatomie creeks. They lived in tents all winter, after which they moved to their claims. While in camp they prepared timbers and built a hotel, store and blacksmith shop on the town site of Hyatt.

The Town Company was formed in February, 1857, with W. F. M. Arny, President, and C. J. Farley, Secretary. A plat of the town site was filed in the district land office at Lecompton, and in the office of the Probate Judge of the county. It was the project of its founders to make this town the county-seat. In the spring of 1857 a saw-mill was built, and the next fall a grist-mill was attached. During the summer a store was opened by B. F. Allen. In June a post-office was established, with W. F. M. Arny, postmaster. In 1858 a school was established with Miss Josephine Ramsey, teacher. During the summer of 1857 there was much sickness and many deaths. The town soon began to go down, and in 1859 many of its citizens went to Pike's Peak, and the county-seat being permanently located at Garnett, the town was soon after abandoned. Nothing now remains of what was once the principal town of the county.

Mineral Point.--Though not a town site this place was the center of a settlement which had been formed in 1855 and 1856. The first Fourth of July celebration for the western part of the county was held here in 1857, and the place given the above name on account of a mound supposed to contain minerals. A military company was formed the same day, and had thirty-one members. J. Aliff was Captain; L. L. Hayden, First Lieutenant; and J. H. Hadley, Second Lieutenant. Mineral Point has always been the center of a prosperous settlement, and it is still a post-office.

Cresco.--On May 16, 1857, the Cresco Town Company was formed with John S. Robinson, President; William C. Howard, Treasurer, and Solomon Kauffman, Secretary. The company was incorporated by an act of the Legislature, February 11, 1858. The town site included the southwest quarter of Section 21, and the northwest quarter of Section 28, Township 20, Range 18 east. A plat of the town site was filed in the district land office. Several buildings were erected during the summer. A blacksmith shop was opened by William C. Howard, and wagon shop by Jas. C. Kelso. A post-office was established, and W. C. Howard appointed postmaster. This was the third post-office in the county. There being no regular mail route to Cresco, the office was supplied by private conveyance from Hyatt. This town was also a voting place. Late in 1857 the Town Company erected a steam saw-mill on a branch of the Pottawatomie. In 1859 most of the citizens went to Pike's Peak, and soon the town was abandoned. The voting place was removed to Central City, where it still remains.

Central City.--This town site was situated on the Pottawatomie River, on Section 35, Township 20, Range 18 east. The location was made in 1857. In June of that year, Stephen Marsh, Mrs. Hoskins, C. C. Hoskins, Simpson Lake and others, settled in the neighborhood. The next winter John B. Lambdin & Sons put up a saw mill near the town site. The first store was opened in the summer of 1858, by W. S. Eastwood, and H. N. F. Reed. The same year Stephen Marsh and his son Oliver erected a large two-story frame building, and established a store, with a large stock of everything needed in a country trade. For several years this was the best store in the county. Though it never became a town, Central City has always been the center of a prosperous settlement, and still has a store, post-office, blacksmith shop, and a few other buildings.

Pottawatomie, or Mount Gilead.--Soon after the town of Greeley was laid out, a rival town was surveyed on the opposite side of the Pottawatomie River. About September 1, 1857, a Town Company was organized, and was composed of Rufus Gilpatrick, James G. Blunt, Henry Nugent, Willis Ayres, J. F. Wadsworth, and others. On September 11, Rufus Gilpatrick, as President of the Pottawatomie Town Company, presented a plat of a town of that name to John Shannon, a notary public, which was certified to. The name of the town was afterward changed to Mount Gilead. A saw-mill was built, and soon nearly all that existed of Greeley, including the post-office, was moved to the new town, which grew quite rapidly for some time, but there being difficulty in procuring water the site was afterward abandoned, and is now a portion of the farm of Rufus G. Blunt, and all that now remains of Mount Gilead is one old building now used as a granary.

Shannon.--The county-seat was in 1856, located on Section 31, Township 20, Range 20. The place was named in honor of Governor Wilson Shannon. In 1857, the town was surveyed by Dr. Preston Bowen, with public parks, and with the expectation of its remaining the county-seat. For the next two years some improvements were made, and county buildings commenced; but in 1859, the county-seat was removed to Garnett, and the Shannon town site was soon abandoned. It is now part of Dr. Bowen's farm.

Canton.--In 1857, a town was located and surveyed on Section 23, Township 20, Range 20. It was laid out by B. Tyler, as a rival to Garnett. For about two years it was occupied and some improvements made, but when Garnett secured the county-seat, Canton was soon abandoned.

Mandovi.--This was a town site laid out in 1858, by Dr. G. W. Cooper. It joined the Garnett site on the south, and though no town improvements were ever made, a fine lithographed map was made, and circulated in the East, in consequence of which many lots were sold.

Elba.--On January 23, 1858, a Town Company was organized, and composed of Harvey Springer, B. F. Ridgeway, A. G. Poteet, and Wm. Springer. This company surveyed and platted a town on the west half of Section 8, Township 21, Range 21 east, which they called Elba. The site was abandoned before any buildings were erected.

Elizabethtown.--In 1859, this town was located, surveyed, and platted on Section 15, Township 23, Range 19. The town was founded by Joseph Price, Thos. J. Day, and James A. Dorsey, who formed the Town Company. A store was soon opened by W. Stubblefield & Co. The post-office was established in 1859. Though it never became a village, Elizabethtown is surrounded by a thrifty class of people, and is still a post-office.


The year 1859 was a prosperous one. There was a heavy immigration to the county, much greater than before, the population numbering about three thousand. During the spring there were heavy rains, so that travel was, at times, almost stopped. On June 1st, the rainfall had been so great that the Pottawatomie overflowed its banks, and the settlers along the valley were compelled to remove to the hills for safety. In some places the overflow was so sudden that the settlers had to climb to the roofs of their cabins, and remain until the waters subsided. After this extremely wet spring, the dry season commenced.

Drought of 1860.--About the last of July, 1859, the rainy season closed, and was followed by a dry fall. During the winter there was but little rain or snow. The spring of 1860 was dry, and then came the long, dry and hot summer, with no rain until October. In July, hot, dry winds blew from the southwest, and so scorching were they, that all vegetation was dried to a crisp. The earth became so dry that it cracked open, leaving crevices many rods in length, and so large that the feet of horses and cattle would go down for several inches. By the first of June, the crops then being all destroyed, a panic seized the people, and more than half the population of the county left the Territory, the most of them never to return. Nearly all who had enough left to get away did so.

In 1860, the census was taken by L. A. Jones, and showed a population of 466 families, with an aggregate population of 2,398. He reported great suffering on account of the drought, and that one family with ten children, subsisted for two weeks on wild plums and the milk from one cow, with nothing else to eat. This was only one of the hundreds of cases where the families of the settlers suffered from want of food. During all the next winter there was great suffering from hunger and cold, but the poor settlers who remained bore all with patience, and made preparations to plant another crop in the spring.

Grasshoppers.--The first visitation of the grasshoppers in the county, was in the fall of 1854. They deposited their eggs, and the next spring hatched in immense numbers. In July, 1855, they came down in the northeastern part of the county, stayed two or three days, and destroyed all the growing crops.

In September, 1860, the grasshoppers came again, but as the drought had destroyed all the crops, no damage was done, but the next spring they hatched out in great numbers, and the damage done by them was considerable. They left the county about the middle of June.

Again on September 10, 1866, the pests visited the county, and it was not long till all vegetation, that was yet green, was destroyed. They also deposited their eggs by countless millions, but the winter was wet and cold, alternately freezing and thawing, which damaged the eggs so much that but few of them hatched out the next spring. After doing a little damage, the young grasshoppers left the county about the middle of June.

The last great raid of the grasshoppers was in 1874. On August 22, they began to descend in perfect clouds. That year many of the crops matured early, therefore fully half a crop of corn and other late crops were saved, while it was after the small grain crop had been harvested. The crops were cut short, the price of provisions was high and work was scarce. Though there was perhaps no actual suffering, times were hard, and a great many privations were endured by the poorer classes who had lost a portion of their crops.

The grasshoppers had deposited their eggs, which in the spring began to hatch in great numbers. It was not long until about two-thirds of the cultivated lands of the county were covered with the young pests, and almost everything was destroyed in the fields they visited. In some places they piled up in drifts of several inches in thickness, where they remained for some time. By the 10th of June they began to leave, and by the 16th nearly all were gone, and by re-planting, good crops were raised that year.

[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]