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


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


With a view of determining the county seat question for all time to come, the Commissioners ordered an election to be held on October 8, 1872, the question to be voted upon being the issuance of bonds to the amount of $25,000 for the purpose of building a courthouse and jail. The proposition was carried and plans for the building requested. At the general election held on November 5, 1872, G. L. Brinkman was elected to the Legislature, he being the first person to represent Barton County in the General Assembly of the State. On February 12, 1873, Mr. Haskell presented plans to the Commissioners for a court house and jail, which were adopted and notices calling for sealed proposals for the work were published in several newspapers of the State. On March 26, 1873, the bids were opened and the contract was awarded to John McDonald, of Emporia, who proposed to complete the work for $24,200. Work was immediately commenced and the building was completed that year. It is a very neatly constructed building, the corners being cut stone and the walls brick. The doors and windows are trimmed with cut stone and the superstructure rests upon a solid stone foundation, the walls of which are raised to a height of six feet above the surface of the ground. The dimensions of the building are 54x80 feet, the whole surmounted by a handsomely-finished cupola of octagon shape. Inside it is very conveniently arranged. The south side of the basement is partitioned off and fitted up as a residence for the Sheriff, while the north side, excepting a room in the northwest corner, which is used for a justice's office, is divided into cells and finished in jail fashion, with iron grated doors and windows. The first floor is divided into six offices three on either side of the hall, those of the Registrar of Deeds, Superintendent of Schools and County Clerk being on the south side, and those of the Treasurer, Probate Judge and Sheriff on the north side. The upper floor is divided into a court-room, neatly finished and furnished, a jury-room and offices for the County Attorney and Clerk of the District Court. It stands in the center of a square containing two blocks of ground, which is well covered with young trees and is surrounded by a neatly-built board fence.

In 1874, the limits of Barton County were enlarged by the Legislature partitioning Stafford County, and adding that portion of it embraced in Townships 21, 22 and 23. In Ranges 11, 12, 13 and 14, to Barton County. This included all of Stafford County north of the south line of Township 23, excepting that included in Townships 21, 22, and 23, in Range 15, which was added to Pawnee County. The south half of Stafford County, excepting that portion embraced in Townships 24 and 26, in Range 15, was joined to Pratt County. It was supposed that Stafford County was wiped out by this act of the Legislature; but not so, although its limits were cut down to the dimensions of two townships in the southwest corner. No doubt the intention of the Legislature was to wipe out Stafford County entirely, but in failing to dispose of the two townships above mentioned, Stafford still maintained its identity, although limited to a strip of land containing only seventy-two sections, or six miles east and west by twelve north and south. However, the territory thus added, Barton County held until 1879, when the matter, after having been fought through the State Courts was decided by the Supreme Court against Barton County, for the reason that Stafford County was cut down to less dimensions than required by the constitution, and the original boundary lines of Barton County were restored.

The following is the list of county officers for 1883: Anderson Williams, Henry J. Roetzel, John K. Humphrey, Commissioners; Ira D. Brougher, County Clerk; A. C. Schermerhorn, District Clerk; Cal Wever, Treasurer; Gustav Toepke, Probate Judge; Myron Gilmore, Sheriff; C. F. Diffinbacker, County Attorney; C. E. Dodge, Register of Deeds; C. C. Wolfe, Superintendent of Schools; C. Q. Newcombe, Surveyor; B. D. Bain, M. D., Coroner.

The following is a list of the names of members who have served in the State Legislature from Barton County: G. L. Brinkman, 1873; J. F. Cummings, 1874; G. L. Brinkman, 1875; C. J. Frye, 1877; G. L. Brinkman, 1879; D. N. Heizer, 1881, and J. D. Bain, in 1883.


The first school established in Barton County, was at Great Bend, in 1872, by James R. Bickerdyke, who opened a private school in that year. In the following year, School District No. 1, was organized at Great Bend, and that same year a two story frame building was erected for a schoolhouse, and of this school J. A. McClelland, was the first teacher. There were, in 1882, sixty school buildings in the county, containing in all sixty-seven rooms. The school population of the county in 1882 between the ages of five and twenty-one years, was 3,565, an increase over 1881, of 197. Of this population 1,848 were males and 1,717 females. The number of pupils enrolled in the public schools in 1882 was 2,458, an increase over the preceding year of 194, the enrollment of males being 1,299, and females 1,159. The average daily attendance at the public schools, in 1882, was 1,566 an increase of 225 over 1881. The number of organized School Districts in the county, in 1882, was 88, but many of these had no buildings, the pupils of some districts attending school in districts adjoining. The number of different teachers employed during the year was eighty-four, of which number twenty-four were males and sixty females. The average salary per month paid male teachers in 1881, was $23.99, and the average paid females was $15.06. In the following year, salaries of both male and female teachers, were considerably advanced, and in 1882, the average paid male teachers was $33.12 per month, an increase over the preceding year of $9.13 per month, while the average salary paid females, advanced to $23.71, an increase of $8.65 per month over 1881. School bonds were issued during the year to the amount of $1,600 and the school bonded indebtedness of the county, in 1882, was $26,477. The number of districts that sustained public school for three months, or over, during the year was seventy-five, and the number failing to sustain public school for three months was thirteen. The estimated value of all school property in the county in 1882, was $39,724, and the average number of mills levied for all school purposes, was fourteen. One hundred persons were examined in 1882 to become teachers, and ninety-nine certificates were granted, classified as follows: Grade first 11; grade second 59, and grade third 29. There was a balance in the hands of the district treasurer on August 1, 1881, of $3,546.82 and the amount received from district taxes was $12,066.55; from State and county funds $3,616.15; from sale of bonds $5,044.80, and from all other sources $689.22, making a total of $24,963.54. The amount paid to teachers during the year ending July 31, 1882, was $12,504.72; paid for rents, fuel, repairs, etc., $3,3239.32; for district library and school apparatus $139.18; for sites, buildings and furniture, $4,081.22; paid for all other purposes $627.90, making a total of $20,592.84, leaving a balance in hands of district treasurer on August 1, 1882, of $4,370.70. The school buildings in the county are mostly frame, several are sod, and a few are stone.

There are no manufacturing establishments in the county, excepting four flouring mills and one sugar mill. Whatever water power the streams afford cannot be utilized, and all the mills are operated by steam. One of these flouring mills is located at Pawnee Rock, in the southwest corner of the county, and was built in 1876, by Bowman Bros. It is a frame structure, three stories high, has three run of stone, and the capital invested in it is $10,000. Another flouring mill is located at Ellinwood, and was erected in 1878, by F. A. Steckel. This, also, is a frame building, and originally had three run of stone, but in 1882 it was greatly enlarged, and new and improved machinery was put in. In addition to making flour by the old system of grinding it also manufactures by the roller process. The capital invested in this mill is $25,000. The "Clement Mill" is located at Great Bend, and was put up by W. W. P. Clement in 1876. It is a frame building, two and a half stories high, and has four run of stone. It represents an invested capital of $12,000.

"Walnut Creek Mills" are also located at Great Bend, and were first erected on Walnut Creek in 1876, by Sooy & Brinkman, where the mill was run by water power. The difficulties experienced in keeping their dam in proper condition caused them to move the mill, and in 1878 it was taken to Great Bend, where it was converted into a steam mill. In 1880 the mill was enlarged to more than twice its original size, and fitted up with the newest and most improved machinery. It is quite a large mill, the main building being frame, and the engine and boiler room brick. It manufactures flour by both the old and new process, having four run of stone and several rollers. Its capacity is three hundred barrels of flour daily. The capital invested in the mill is $50,000, and the proprietors are Sooy, Brinkman & Roberts.

In 1881 quite a large sugar mill was built at a place named Dundee, about seven miles west of Great Bend, by S. A. Lebold & Co. The mill is quite an extensive building, five stories high, three of which are stone and two frame. The mill is operated by steam, and the capital invested is $40,000. The production of the mill in 1881 was 50,000 gallons of syrup, and in 1882 the production was 75,000 gallons.

There is only one creamery in the county, and that has been but very recently built by J. A. Perviance, on Little Walnut Creek, in Buffalo Township. It has not yet been put in operation, but will start in a few weeks.


The county has made considerable increase in material wealth, as will be shown by the following statistics. In 1874, was raised the first wheat ever grown in the county, and two hundred acres was the extent of the amount sown that year. The total acreage of field crops in the county in 1872 was 1,061 acres, of which 722 were devoted to corn, six to oats, thirteen to potatoes and 320 to prairie pasture. In 1873, the total acreage of field crops was 5,461; in 1874, it increased to 6,034 and kept doubling in extent each year thereafter until 1878, when the total acreage reached 81,852 acres. This was increased more than 100 per cent during the new two years, and in 1880, the total acreage of field crops in the county was 166,319 acres, 79,013 of which, or nearly one-half, was sown to wheat. In 1882, the total acreage of field crops in the county was 145,000 acres, a decrease in two years of 21,319 acres. This decrease is accounted for by the fact, that a great portion of Stafford County, which had constituted a part of Barton, had been severed, and set back into Stafford in 1879, but notwithstanding this apparent decrease, the acreage of field crops in Barton County proper, was greater in 1882 than 1880. The number of acres in the county included in farms in 1882, was 263,757, the assessed valuation of which was $1,445.670, this being, according to the system of taxation, about 40 per cent of the real value. The number of farm dwellings erected in the county during the year ending March 1, 1882, was 175, valued at $54,248. The number of taxable acres in the county was 305,074, leaving 270,928 acres untaxable. This untaxable land is part of the Government grant to the railroad company, for which no patents have been yet issued, and school lands. The value of the garden products alone for the year ending March 1, 1882, amounting to $3,272, was more than the value of the entire field crops of 1872. A good deal of attention is given to raising poultry, for which a ready market is found in the States and Territories west. The eggs and poultry sold during the year ending March 1, 1882, amounted to $17,781. The cheese production for the year was 6,550 pounds, and that of butter was 211,192 pounds. For a county which has only had an existence of ten years, considerable advancement has been made in the accumulation of live stock. There were in the county, on March 1, 1882, live stock as follows: Horses, 3,273; mules and asses, 714; milch cows, 3,361; other cattle, 7,744; sheep, 4,034, and swine, 6,988. There are no extensive ranches in the county, and the live stock is pretty generally distributed among the resident farmers. The value of the animals slaughtered or sold for slaughter during the year ending March 1, 1882, was $61,832. The wool clip for the same period was 6,286 pounds. Considerable wealth is also represented in the orchards of the county, and during the last few years horticulture has received a good deal of attention, and promises good results. Last year (1882) the fruit trees in bearing in the county were: Apple, 866; pear, 39; peach, 10,577; plum, 1,950, and cherry, 462. The number not in bearing were: Apple, 16,629; pear, 1,211; peach, 42,135; plum, 1,445, and cherry, 2,338. The county is reasonable well fenced, there being 43,277 rods of fencing of various kinds, divided as follows: Board, 1,785 rods; rail, 860; stone, 359; hedge, 15,428, and wire, 24,845. This would build a fence of one continuous fence round the entire county. The average cost of this fencing is about one dollar a rod, so that the fences of Barton County represent a value of about $43,277. Artificial forestry is another branch in which the people are taking great interest, and already there are some very fine groves in the county. The number of acres devoted to artificial forestry is 2,229, of which 786 are planted to walnut; 47 to maple; 18 to honey locust; 811 to cottonwood, and 567 to other varieties. The agricultural implements of the county represent a value of $72,481. The assessed valuation of the county in 1882, on both real and personal property was $1,541,368.68, which, owing to the system of assessing, would indicate the real valuation to be about three times that amount, and for a county whose history embraces only one decade, shows a wonderful advancement in material wealth.

It is just thirteen years since Barton County began to be settled, and the census of 1870 shows the entire population of the county in that year to have been 200. The settlers that came prior to the building of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad through the county, in 1872, were very few, but no sooner was the road completed than people began to come in the county in considerable numbers. By 1875 the population had increased to 2,099, the new comers locating chiefly in the Walnut Valley along Walnut Creek. While this portion of the county was being settled the towns of Great Bend and Ellinwood received a goodly portion of the new comers, and by 1878 the population had increased to 8,251, showing an increase in the three years of 6,152. The abundant crops of that year attracted a great deal of emigration to the county, and during the next two years the population of the county had grown to 10,319, this being the population as shown by the United States census of 1880. From 1880 to 1882 about as many people left the county as came to it owing to the fact that the crops of the former year were extremely light, and those of 1881 were not much better. Another fact that tended to take a great many people out of the county, especially the younger men, was the great desire that seemed to take hold of them to go west to the mountains. Notwithstanding these depopulating agencies the population of the county decreased but very little, as the population in 1882, according to the census taken by the various township assessors, was 10,121, showing only a decrease of 198 in the unfavorable years from the spring of 1880 to the spring of 1882.

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