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


[TOC] [part 10] [part 8] [Cutler's History]


The spring of 1879 was noted for the excitement caused by the shipment to Kansas and other localities of large numbers of freedmen and women from Louisiana, Mississippi, and other Southern States. Atchison shared the excitement of the threatened irruption (sic). The leaders of public opinion protested that the city did not desire the presence of unskilled laborers. There were no vacant houses in the city, and the public feeling was almost unanimous that Atchison did not want them as citizens. A few shrewd (?) politicians saw in the Southern exodus an attempt to carry Northern States for particular political parties. But the reply of friends of the party indicated was: "We are already in an overwhelming majority, and do not need the babies of these freedmen." On the 1st day of May, word was brought by railroad passengers from below that the steamer "Joe Kinney," with 250 colored refugees, was making its way up, and would land her human cargo at Atchison. No attempt was made to resist, and the next day the boat arrived and quietly landed at Ketcham's Mill, below town, sent her passengers ashore, and quickly departed. They were poor and destitute, and clothed in rags. Many were without food. The Daily Champion of May 3rd, after describing the pitiable condition of the refugees, contended that white people of any nationality, under similar circumstances, landed without food on a strange shore, would have been deeply dejected and loudly bewailed their fate; but in all that black company there was not a whimper or a cry. A boy with a chain cable held on to his dog, and an old woman smoked, with remark that when the last pipeful was gone she reckoned some kind friend would furnish another. They were poor enough, and all said they were out of previsions, yet they asked no one for food.

The idea seemed to suddenly seize bystanders of all shades of color, that it was a pitiful thing that a lot of men, women and little children, some of them sick, should be in Atchison without food, and a sort of "relief movement" was organized. Doc Jennings was on hand with his wagon, and started out to collect provisions, and he got them from citizens everywhere - bread, flour, bacon, and the "staples" generally. The Atchison colored people, to their honor, seemed greatly aroused, and came in from all directions with provisions. It was determined to remove at least the women and children, including the sick, to the two colored churches for shelter. The work was vigorously prosecuted under the supervision of City Marshal Benning and others. Among the colored men who were conspicuous in their efforts in behalf of their people, were Jacob Starr, and Messrs. Jennings, Ransom, Rucker, Logan, Morton, Wilson and Lett. At a late hour many of the refugees still remained on the river bank, sitting around little fires, built of driftwood, as patient and uncomplaining as ever. A "square meal" for the hungry refugees wound up Atchison's first day's experience with an emigration movement, the most singular since the Israelites started out for "soldier claims" in Canaan.

Atchison did its whole duty to those who were so unceremoniously cast into their midst, but as an evidence that they did not propose to shoulder more than their own share of the burden, the City Council met in special session on the 3rd day of may, and passed an ordinance forbidding the landing of paupers. About the same time the authorities of the A.& N. and the Central Branch railroads proposed to carry the refugees on their roads to counties north and west, where their services were needed, at the rate of one cent per mile. But the most of them obtained employment, and did not long depend on the charity of the people of the city. The women and children found shelter in the two colored churches, and as the season was not inclement, the men shifted along without suffering. The colored people of the city held a meeting on the 4th of May, and took measures to relieve their unfortunate brethern. In this work, Jacob Starr, P. Porter, Merrit Davis, J. W. Wilson, I. Venable, J. A. Paris, R. M. Wilson and P. R. Booker were conspicuous.


Atchison Water Works. - From the earliest settlement of the city up to the year 1880, one of the most serious drawbacks to a residence in Atchison, was an inadequate supply of wholesome water suitable for all purposes. During that year the people wisely decided, by a vote of 1,309 to 84, to contract with Sylvester Watts, of St. Louis, for the construction of water works on the reservoir plan. The "Atchison Water Company" was organized under the laws of Kansas, and John R. Lionberger, George E. Leighton, Thomas E. Tutt, Charles Parsons and Sylvester Watts, all of St. Louis, were elected Directors, and T. N. Bontelle, Chief Engineer. It was agreed to furnish fifty hydrants for fire purposes and for flushing sewers, together with a number of public watering troughs, the city paying therefore the sum of $6,000. Six miles of mains were laid, and water laid on the following streets: On Ninth from Commercial to Main; on Ninth to Kansas avenue; on Kansas avenue from Ninth to Tenth; on Tenth from Kansas avenue to Laramie; on Seventh from Commercial to Kearney; on Fifth from southern limits to Division; on Atchison from Fifth to Second; on Fourth from Atchison to Riley; on Riley from Fourth to Fifth; on Second from Main to Parallel; On Fourth from Commercial to V street; on V from Fourth to Fifth; on Main from Fifth to Eighth; on R from Fifth to Seventh; on Seventh from R to Park. The reservoirs are located on the highest ground within the city limits, the top of the settling being 227 feet above the level of the Missouri river. They are located at the southern extremity of South Fifth street, in Spring Garden Addition. The ground on which the reservoirs are placed was purchased of George T. Challis for $2,500. From the embankment a magnificent view is obtained of the winding of the Missouri river, the city of Atchison, and the country west and south. The settling reservoir has a capacity of 1,250,000 gallons. Adjoining this on the west is the storage reservoir, capable of holding 3,500,000 gallons of water. The reservoirs are built in the most substantial manner. The pumping works are located at the west end of the Missouri River bridge, and the water is forced to the settling reservoir through a ten-inch pipe capable of discharging 1,000,000 gallons in twenty- four hours. The suction apparatus is worked by a pair of combination engines and pumps known by machinists as isochronal engines, of seventy-horse power each. They are of thirty-inch stroke, with cylinders twenty-four inches in diameter. The pumps act independently, and each can pump 1,000,000 gallons in twenty-four hours. But one of the pumps is used at a time, thus preventing any stoppage in case of accident. The Missouri River water is agreeable and wholesome. The sediment consists almost entirely of sand. The water is allowed ample time to settle before being drawn into the storage reservoir, and from thence delivered to consumers. The total cost of the water-works was $150,000, and it is money well expended. In this connection it may be well to remark that as a means for the extinguishment of fires, six streams can be simultaneously thrown a distance of 100 feet and upwards - sufficient for all practical purposes. The Silsbee steam fire engine is now a piece of useless property, and will soon be disposed of by the City Council, to some less favored community. There has been no change in the official management of the water-works company from the first organization, the following named gentlemen still retaining the management: John R. Lionberger, President, St. Louis, Mo.; John D. Davis, Secretary, St. Louis, Mo.; J. R. Quigley, Superintendent, Atchison.

The Police Force. - For the past few years Atchison has had the benefit of a well-appointed department. The first City Marshal, Milton R. Benton, was elected in the spring of 1858, under the first act of incorporation. In September of the same year he was re-appointed, and held office one year. At present the force is divided as follows: One City Marshall, one policeman to guard the city prisoners, one keeper of the city prison, and nine patrol police. The police is divided into five night and five day men.

From the last annual report of Thos. B. MacGee, Police Judge, it is learned that the 1,511 cases brought before him carried $14,039.65 into the city treasury. About one-half of this sum was paid in fines, and one-seventh "worked out" on the streets by the unfortunates of the chain gang. The most common kind of offenses were: drunk, 149; prostitution, 187; vagrancy, 86; discharging firearms within the city limits, 81; visiting houses of ill-fame, 59.

The Atchison Gas Company was organized January 21, 1870, with the following directors: Geo. W. Glick, president; A. H. Stryker, secretary; R. A. Park, treasurer. The capital stock of the company is $100,000, all paid up. In 1881 the old works were entirely replaced by new ones, built on a large scale, and including all the modern improvements. Over five miles of mains have already been laid, and the system is being continually extended. The present officers of the company are as follows: A. G. Otis, president; W. W. Guthrie, vice president; H. M. Glancy, secretary; J. P. Brown, purchasing agent. The works are situated on Main street, west of Seventh.

The Atcison Street Railway Company was chartered by the legislature in the winter of 1880, and organized in the spring of 1881 by the choice of the following officers, who are still serving the company: J. A. Beeson, president; W. W. Hetherington, treasurer and secretary; E. H. Luitwieler, superintendent. Under the provisions of their liberal charter, the company has constructed several miles of road, and supplied their lines with good cars. The Fifth street line extends from the water works in the south to the Catholic Church in the northern part of the city; the Commercial and Main street line from the Union Depot to Harmony Garden in the western section; the Commercial and Tenth street line from the Union Depot to the end of Tenth street, with a branch up Kansas avenue. The company employ nine cars, fifteen men, and forty horses and mules.

Fire Department. - The fire department of Atchison was first organized on the volunteer system during the year 1860. Sol. Washer was the first chosen president, and Maj. W. S. Downs the first foreman, with a full force of members. Hand engines were used until 1876, when a Silsbee steamer was purchased, and three years later the volunteer system gave place to a paid department, although Atchison has still a goodly number of volunteers. The wise introduction of the reservoir system has revolutionized the fire department. At present the Silsbee steamer is more ornamental than useful, the water works being capable of throwing large streams of water over the highest building in the city. The present officers of the force are: Samuel H. Kelsey, chief; John Compton, foreman; Wm. Hoover, pipeman; H. H. Wilson and J. H. Johnson, drivers; James Young, watchman.

The Great Fire. - On Sunday afternoon, June 9, 1867, the most destructive fire that ever visited Atchison occurred. Within three hours, two large and valuable blocks of buildings - on both sides of Commercial, between Fourth and Fifth streets - were swept away; twenty-one store rooms, with an immense amount of goods, were reduced to heaps of smoldering ashes; and twenty-five persons were thrown out of places in which to transact business. The lowest estimate placed the loss at sixty thousand dollars. The fire had its origin in a defective flue, and probably burned a considerable time before it was noticed. About one-sixth of the loss was covered by insurance. But as usual there was not the great loss without some compensating gain. The burnt district was soon covered with fine business blocks, and even some of the owners were actually benefited by the conflagration. Better building commanding better prices.


In January, 1857, an act was passed, making it a grave offense for any person or persons to either form themselves into an association to carry on banking transactions, or to subscribe to such a purpose. The penalty for its violation was a fine, ranging from $400 to $1,000, or imprisonment of from six months to twelve months. The act establishing the Kansas Valley Bank, at Leavenworth, was approved February 19, of the same year. It provided for branches at Atchison, Lecompton, Doniphan, Fort Scott and Shawnee, Johnson County. As an anomaly in nature, it may be stated that, although the Leavenworth parent was never born, a vigorous son sprang into being in Atchison. Furthermore, the act made the branches entirely independent of the trunk. Startling contradictions! The capital stock was fixed at $300,000, bills payable in gold or silver. John H. Stringfellow, Joseph Plean and Samuel Dickson were authorized to open subscription books. The Atchison Branch of the Kansas Valley Bank was the first institution of the kind in the Territory. The books were opened and an organization was effected early in the spring of 1858, and the capital stock was finally fixed at $52,000; securities $100,000. G. H. Fairfield, late of Waverly, was manager; Board of Directors, Gen. S. C. Pomeroy (Pres.), W. H. Russell, L. R. Smoot, W. B. Waddell, Judge F. G. Adams, S. Dickson and W. E. Gaylord. In denial of the statement made by rival towns, such as Sumner and Doniphan, that the bank was about to suspend, the directors published a statement of its condition soon after the institution was established, from which it appears that the assests were $36,638, and liabilities $20,118. Before the end of the year, Gen. Pomeroy resigned the presidency of the bank, in favor of William H. Russell, of the firm of R. Majors & Co. and Smoot, Russell & Co., two of the largest Government contracting firms in the country. Gen. Pomeroy was chosen vice-president. For many years Col. R. L. Pease was manager of the bank. In 1861, it retired from business, and its legitimate successor, Hetherington's Exchange Bank continued to accommodate Atchison's financial demands.

In January, 1861, by legislative enactment, the name of the bank was changed to the "Bank of the State of Kansas," with W. H. Russell, Pres.; G. H. Fairchild, V. Pres.; R. L. Pease, cashier. It continued business until March, 1866, when the stockholders wound up the concerns of the bank and made arrangements for the redemption of its circulation. E. B. Allen was president of the institution after 1862.

Exchange National Bank of Atchison. - This, the oldest banking institution in Atchison, was established in 1859, as Hetherington's Exchange Bank, in the the basement of a building at the corner of Third and Commercial streets. Its founder was William Hetherington. Save for one year during the war, its doors have been open daily. Repeated attempts to plunder it then induced Mr. Hetherington to close out his business and wait for better times. In 1869, it removed to the fine building on the corner of Fourth and Commercial, erected by Mr. Hetherington for the express uses of the banking business, and provided with every requisite for the transaction of business and the security of deposits. In 1876, Mr. Hetherington admitted his son W. W. Hetherington, who had been for a long time a clerk in the bank, to a partnership, and in 1881, another son, C. S. Hetherington, became associated in the business.

"The Exchange Bank of William Hetherington & Co." was changed to the "Exchange National Bank of Atchison," August 1, 1882. The formal change was made on July 21, when the incorporators deposited with the Comptroller of the Currency $100,000 in Government bonds and completed the steps required by law; but the bank did not commence business until August 1. The directors are William Hetherington, W. W. Hetherington, B. P. Waggener, Frank Bier and J. S. Galbraith.

The officers are: President, William Hetherington; Vice President, J. P. Pomeroy; Cashier, W. W. Hetherington; Assistant Cashier, C. S. Hetherington; Attorneys, Everest & Waggener; Bookkeeper, John V. Jillich; Assistant Bookkeeper, Charles E. Reck; Collector Sam Lanphear.

First National Bank. - Organized in 1867, David Auld being elected the first president, in June of that year. W. R. Stebbins, who was elected cashier, remained with the bank one year, when J. T. Copland, present incumbent, succeeded him. The bank commenced business July 1, 1867, with a capital of $50,000, and a surplus of $20,000 for an increase of capital. One year later, the capital was increased to $100,000. The present surplus is nearly $50,000. The first year's deposits amounted to about $75,000; present deposits, $350,000 to $400,000. Present officers, David Auld, Pres.; C. G. Foster, V. Pres.; J. T. Copland, cashier; A. M. Lanphear, teller.

Atchison Savings Bank was established in 1869, William C. Smith being president, and R. A. Park cashier. In 1871, A. G. Otis was elected president and still holds that position. Israel S. Parker was the first vice-president of the savings bank, and was succeeded by his son, James W. Parker. The capital stock is $100,000.

German Savings Bank. - Organized in 1873, with the following officers: George Storch, president; Robert Forbriger, vice-president; John Beiz, cashier. These gentlemen have continued to serve in the same capacities ever since. The capital stock of the bank is $10,000, and its deposits $100,000. A general banking business is transacted, collections are made in all parts of Europe, and a regular savings department is connected with the institution.

The Atchison National Bank was organized April 1, 1873, with John M. Price as president, M. Barrett, cashier. Present officers: C. J. Drury, president; R. H. Ballentine, vice-president; M. Barratt, cashier. Average deposits, from $125,000 to $150,000; capital stock, $100,000. G. D. Harrison, of Iowa, was president of the bank after Mr. Price until 1878, since which time Mr. Drury has held the position. When it commenced business the capital was $100,000, which, in 1877, was reduced to $50,000.

New England Loan and Trust Co., Des Moines, Iowa. - L. A. Grant, president; D. B. Lyons, vice-president; D. G. Edmundson, secretary; John C. Avery, manager.

John C. Avery established this Kansas department of the company at Atchison, July, 1880, having had charge of the business in this State since that time. The business amounts to about $750,000, principally east of the sixth principal meridian, and they contemplate working the entire State, expecting in 1882 to do a business of, at least, $1,000,000. They now employ about sixty local agents in various parts of the State negotiating loans, mainly on improved farm and city property.

The Atchison Board of Trade was incorporated by the Legislature November 29, 1881, and since that time has been of great benefit to the business men of the city. Elegant and commodious rooms have been fitted up on Fifth street, and the usefulness of the board is now universally acknowledged. The object of the movers is stated in article one of the act of incorporation. To increase the business facilities, advance the commercial character, and promote the manufacturing interests of the city of Atchison by brining buyer and seller nearer together; by inculcating just and equitable principles of trade; establishing and maintaining uniformity in the commercial usages of the city; acquiring, preserving and disseminating valuable information. Residents of Atchison may become members by the payment of an initiation fee of $25. The officers are: William Bowman, president; S. R. Washer, vice-president; T. B. Gerow, secretary; R. A. Park, treasurer. Number of members 112.

The Merchants' and Bankers' Mutual Benefit Association of Atchison. Organized November 15, 1879. First Directors: A. H. Lanphear, Robert Forbriger, W. W. Cochrane, A. B. Bradish, M. Bosworth, H. M. Glancy. Present officers: A. H. Lanphear, president; Robert Forbriger, vice-president; W. W. Cochrane, M. D., medical director; D. B. Rogers, secretary; John Francis (State Treasurer), medical director; W. W. Cochrane, A. H. Lanphear, A. B. Bradish, P. I. Bonebrake, M. Bosworth, H. M. Glancy, Robert Forbriger, board of directors. Headquarters on Fourth street near Commercial.

The Atchison Industrial and Agricultural Fair Association was organized in the summer of 1880, and an exhibition was given the same year. The association purchased forty acres of ground two miles southwest of the city for $12,000, and during the first season expended $17,000 more in buildings, and in adorning and beautifying the grounds. It is claimed that the half mile race track belonging to the fair association is one of the most beautiful in the West: that 50,000 people can see every foot of track during a racing contest. The first officers of the association were: John Seaton, president; C. Rohr, vice-president; Edward Fleischer, secretary; W. W. Hetherington, treasurer; B. P. Waggener, chief marshal; John Seaton, Edward Fleischer, B. P. Waggener, C. Rohr, W. W. Hetherington, J. C. Crall, G. W. Glick, board of directors. The officers for the present year are: John Seaton, president; M. L. Sargent, vice-president; H. R. Bostwick, secretary; L. L. Todd, treasurer; Dr. D. J. Holland, chief marshal; John Seaton, D. J. Holland, J. C. Tomlinson, M. L. Sargent, L. L. Todd, P. R. Peabody, board of directors.

Atchison Typographical Union, No. 13. - This society was organized by charter from the National Typographical Union June 10, 1881. At present the organization has twenty-seven members, and the following named persons fill the several offices: H. C. Patchen, president; John T. Reilly, vice-president; J. L. A. Anderson, recording secretary; James M. Jones, Cor. and Fin. Sec.; John C. Root, treasurer; S. E. Cline, sergeant-at-arms; Samuel Filson, C. W. Blakeley, C. L. Mathers, directors; James M. Jones, delegate to the thirteenth session of the International Typographical Union. The regular meetings are held the first Sunday in the month in the Daily Champion office.

Atchison Cigar Makers' Union, No. 61. - Charter was granted by the International Union April 17, 1880. Present officers: John Knott, president; Curtis Stripp, vice-president; George Phingstay, treasurer; John C. Herd, financial and recording secretary. Present number of members thirty-eight.

[TOC] [part 10] [part 8] [Cutler's History]