|KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS|
The city of Great Bend is located on Section 28, Township 19, Range 13, west of the sixth principal meridian. It is situated immediately north of that point in the Arkansas River where it commences to make the great bend eastward. The town site was located in 1871 by the Great Bend Town Company, composed of C. R. S. Curtis, M. F. Bassett, J. L. Curtis, J. T. Morton, James Israel, A. R. McIntyre, and one or two others. The town site was located under an act of Congress giving to companies that located a town and settled thereon a section of land. Immediately after the town was located the Town Company had erected what is now known as the "Southern Hotel" on the northwest corner of the public square, and this was the first house erected on the town site. Work on the building was commenced in August, 1871, and it was finished that fall. When the hotel was completed T. L. Stone was installed as landlord, being allowed the use of the building rent free for a certain period. The next house put up in town was by Edwin Tyler, a little south of the "Southern," on the west side of the square, between Nagie street and Bassett avenue. It was rather a small building, one part of which he used as a dwelling and the other as a store, he being the first man that ever sold goods in the city of Great Bend. Scarcely any settlers came to the place in the fall and winter of 1871, but early in 1872 they commenced coming at a lively rate.
James Holland came in the spring of 1872, and put up a building on the north side of the square, and as the building was nearing completion, he went East to purchase a stock of goods, and was never seen nor heard of afterwards, the supposition being that he was murdered for his money. In May, 1872, A. S. Allen located in Great Bend, and put up a building on the west side of the square, in which he opened a drug store, and for three years there was no other drug store between his and the west line of the State.
Ed. Markworth, E. L. Morphy and John Cook were among those who came in the spring of 1872 and engaged in business, the former opening up a grocery and provision store on the west side of the square, while the two latter put up buildings and went into business on the east side of the square, Morphy engaging in the hardware business and Cook in groceries. The names given above include the first business men of Great Bend, Ed. Tyler being the pioneer, he having opened his store in January, 1872.
These business men, however, were not the only parties who settled in Great Bend in 1872, because after the railroad had reached the town, which it did in July of that year, a good many settlers came who were not business men, but mechanics, and these put up buildings and added greatly to the town. The Typer family came in the spring of 1872, and that summer erected the "Typer House," on the east side of the square, at the corner of Cowgill street and Peter's avenue. It is a two-story frame building of considerable size, and at the time it was built, was deemed a magnificent hotel for Western Kansas.
The year 1872 closed very auspiciously for Great Bend, and early the following year the town was incorporated and advanced to the rank of a city of the third class, and at the city election held soon thereafter, A. A. Hurd was elected Mayor of the city. Up to that time, no public school had been established in town, but early in 1873, the people having voted bonds for the purpose in the preceding December, a very fine two-story frame schoolhouse was erected, one block west of the public square. It was in that year that the difficulty arose over the town site. The title to the section of land on which the town is located remained in the Government until 1873, but when the town was incorporated and became a city of the third class with a representative head, the Government deeded the section to the Mayor of the city of Great Bend, in trust for the occupants.
About that time, the original Town Company put in an appearance and claimed that the deed was given in trust to the Mayor for their benefit, and that inasmuch as they had located the town site and made improvements thereon, they were, under the law, entitled to receive the deed. After some delay and discussion pro and con, the Mayor yielded, and deeded over the land embraced in the town site to the Town Company. This action on the part of the Mayor greatly enraged the settlers, who talked the matter over amongst themselves, both openly and privately, and the more they talked over it the madder they became, and finally brought suit against the Mayor and Town Company, to have the deed made by the former to the latter set aside, and in December, 1873, a decision was rendered in favor of the occupants. After this, a kind of compromise was made with the Town Company, by which the town site should be re-surveyed and divided amongst all those who were bona fide occupants on September 6, 1872, according to the investments each had made in improvements. The man that had invested $200, received double as many lots as he who had invested $100, and according to this system the land was distributed.
After the distribution was made part of the compromise was, that the occupants should deed over to the Town Company half of the lots that had been allotted to each, and in this manner the matter was finally settled. The Commissioners appointed to re-survey, appraise and apportion the town-site, were T. S. Morton, E. V. Rugar and J. B. Howard, and the survey, appraisement and apportionment made by the commission was accepted and approved, and filed for record February 2, 1874. It was found that on the 6th day of September, 1872, there were eighty bona fide occupants on the land included within the limits of the town-site of Great Bend, and among these the lots were distributed.
(picture of Court House)
In 1873, the court house was built, in the center of the public square, a very magnificent brick building, which added greatly to the appearance of the town. The first stone and brick business house erected in town, was a two story building on the north side of the square, which was put up by Sooy & Brinkman. This was the only substantial improvement made until 1876, although, in the interval, a good number of frame buildings, both stores and dwellings, were erected.
In that year A. S. Allen put up a very neat and well finished two story stone and brick building on the corner of Curtis avenue and Nagie street, the first floor of which he uses as a drug store, the upper floor being divided into offices. About the same time Gray & Baily erected a building of a similar character on the north side of the square, now occupied as a hardware store by W. H. Dodge & Son. A much needed improvement was made that year in the erection of a flouring mill by W. W. P. Clement. The limits of the city were enlarged in 1876, by an addition made thereto by the Arkansas Valley Town Company, and the following year Kincaid's Addition was added, and that year the first church edifice was erected by the Catholics.
The years 1873, '74 and '75, were interesting years in the history of Great Bend, as those were the years during which the cattle trade centered at that point. This trade would usually commence about the first of June, and continue till towards the middle of October. A natural consequence of this trade, was lively times for the merchants while it lasted, and for the orderly and peaceably disposed of the community, a constant dread. The advantages in trade were more than counterbalanced by the disadvantages to society. The class of people that the cattle trade attracted to Great Bend, was that class of thugs and harlots that are a curse and a dread to every community, and when the Legislature in 1876, passed a law fixing the "dead line" thirty miles west of the west line of Barton County, the people of Great Bend felt relieved. This "dead line" is a line beyond which Texas cattle can not be brought, unless they have wintered one winter in the State. The passage of that law had the effect of moving the cattle trade west from Great Bend, and with it went those elements so dangerous to the peace of society.
The year in which the most substantial improvements were made in the city was 1878. In that year J. H. Hubbard and Burton, Moses Bros., built the Union Block on the west side of the square. It is a fine two-story stone and brick building, with two good store rooms beneath, and several offices and Union Hall above. On the north side of the square G. L. Brinkman erected a two story stone and brick building. On Nagie street, G. P. Townseley put up a building of similar material, the lower story of which is fitted up for, and used as, the postoffice, while the upper story is used as the printing office of the Inland Tribune. Directly opposite to this building, on the same street, C. F. Wilner built a good two-story stone and brick, which he uses as a furniture store. Adjoining the Tribune building on the west, Troilett Bros. and D. Merton put up, each, a one-story building, having stone walls and brick front.
While these solid improvements were going on, many others of a less substantial character were being made. The "occidental Hotel," built by C. E. Birdsale, the "Central House," built by John Barth, both frame buildings, were erected in that year. Three elevators were also put up: No. I by Fair & Culver; No. 2, by G. L. Brinkman, and No. 3, by Bailey & Moses. The Walnut Creek Mill was also greatly enlarged, and refitted with new and improved machinery.
The only fire of any consequence that ever visited the city occurred in 1878. It took place in the month of September, 1878, and originated in the furniture store on Nagie street. About two o'clock in the morning, one of the men who was sleeping up stairs, for some reason, either real or imaginary, deemed it necessary to light a lamp and go down stairs, but before he reached the foot, he made a misstep, and his descent was greatly accelerated, and in a manner not in the usual course of descending. The lamp preceded him, fell and broke, whereupon the oil instantly became ignited, and the flame soon spread to the loose combustible matter lying upon the floor, and in a short time the whole place was in a blaze. The alarm was immediately given, but before the fire could be extinguished the furniture store, with four others, had perished in the flames. The loss was estimated at $20,000.
In 1879 the town was further improved by a fine two-story sandstone and brick building, erected by J. W. Lightbody, on the west side of the square, and now occupied by Krouch & Simons as a dry goods store. About the time this building was put up, William Dunaway erected a very fine substantial building in the same block, now owned by Bruesner & Weiss, who occupy the first story as a grocery and dry goods store, the upper story being rent to, and used by, the Odd Fellows as a hall.
The town has made rather slow progress since that time, the improvements that were made being confined to residences, and most of those erected since 1879, were put up in 1882. The latest improvement made of any importance, was the erection of a fine brick schoolhouse in 1882. To build this bonds to the amount of $6,700 were issued. The building is a neat two-story structure, having two rooms above and two below, which, with the original frame building, affords ample accommodation for the pupils that attend.
The first Postmaster in the place was E. L. Morphy, and the first City Council was composed of M. S. Kutch, E. Markworth, J. W. Winfield, W. H. Odell, and Edwin Tyler; A. S. Allen being subsequently appointed to fill a vacancy.
THE SMALL POX PLAGUE.
The saddest page in the history of Great Bend is that covering the period between December 1, 1882, and February, 1883, a period, which, though short in duration, will long be adverted to as the gloomiest time in the history of the city. About the latter end of November, 1882, a colored man named Gilmore was on his way East from New Mexico, and being sick left the train at Great Bend, and found his way to a one-room "shanty" in the northeast part of the town, the sole occupant of which was an old colored man named John Howell. Here, Gilmore was taken down, and next day the county physician, Doctor Frank Lightfoot, was called to see him. When asked what ailed him the doctor said he thought he was getting over a big drunk, and upon his second visit declared Gilmore's malady to be mountain fever. The day after he gave this out as his opinion he took his departure for the far West. Whether he knew Gilmore's disease was small-pox was not known, but he knew, no matter what the nature of the disease may have been, he, being County Physician, it was his duty to attend him, but instead of doing that he immediately took his departure from town.
Dr. White was next sent to visit Gilmore, and upon seeing him declared his case to be one of small-pox, and that of the most malignant type. Consternation seized the community, and many fled to escape the dread plague.
Old man Howell's shanty was closely quarantined, but too late, the seeds had been sown, and soon this one and then that one were stricken down. The town was placed under strict quarantine, and for two months a pall as of death seemed to enshroud the city. Nobody came and no one was allowed to go. Business was stagnated and the streets were almost deserted. Mails were stopped, churches and schools were closed, all society meetings were discontinued, and people were prohibited from assembling in groups.
In all there were thirty cases in town, fifteen of whom died. The names of those who died from the fell disease were: Gilmore, the colored man; John Howell, colored, at whose house Gilmore stopped; Brown, a colored man, who resided on the edge of the town; Frank Morgan, son of Mr. and Mrs. C. B.
(PICTURE OF ---- SCHOOL)
Morgan; Charles, son of Mr. and Mrs. Legg. John Alefs lost his wife and two children, being every member of the family but himself. Mr. and Mrs. Parker lost two daughters, all the children in the family. Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Stoffer had two children taken, a boy and a girl, by which bereavement they were left childless.
While the foul plague continued Great Bend was a sad city, and the uncertainty as to whom the next victims would be, or the number that the scourge would carry off before it discontinued its ravages, caused the people to live in a state of constant dread and painful anxiety. The first to die from the disease was Gilmore, the colored man who brought the plague to town, and the last victim was one of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Stoffer. After the last case had developed itself, the town was quarantined for twenty-one days, after which the quarantine was removed and gladness seized the hearts of the people, and joy entered their homes, but yet the page covering that brief period of history is one of sadness.
EARLY REMINISCENCES AND INCIDENTS.
In the early settlement of Great Bend it had some very peculiar characters, and some rather amusing incidents occurred. The man whose peculiarities gave him the greatest notoriety was T. L. Stone, first proprietor of what is now known as the Southern Hotel. "Tom" was a great big, burly fellow, with a huge, bushy mustache, and when dressed in his open-breasted red shirt, with the sleeves rolled up to his shoulders, and his old army sash wrapped around his waist, into which would be stuck a couple of revolvers, he was a very fierce-looking character, and well calculated to strike terror to the heart of the young and inexperienced in the western mode of life. Notwithstanding his fierce look and blustering manner, he was altogether inoffensive, and possessed a good, kind heart. One or two incidents that occurred in the "Cottage," of which Tom was then proprietor, will tend to show the character of the man, and the ludicrous scenes that frequently occurred in those early days in Western hotels.
One day a couple of Englishmen who were out on a buffalo hunting expedition stopped at the "Cottage" for dinner, and when dessert was reached they asked for a nut cracker. Tom went out, and in a short time returned with a large stone and shoemaker's hammer, and slapping them down on the table in front of the Englishmen, said: "There's your _____ nutcracker."
The following incident will show how Tom taught a fellow how to eat hash. A kind of snob of a traveling man came along one day and put up at the "Cottage." It so happened that one of the chief articles of diet on that particular day was "has," and when the traveling man's was laid before him he demanded beefsteak, and said he would not eat "hash." The waiter went out and told Tom, and the guest, thinking that the steak would be forthcoming in two or three minutes, sat waiting the waiter's return, when in stepped Tom with his characteristic red shirt on and sleeves rolled up, and in his hand a huge carving knife. As soon as he entered the dining-room he demanded, in stentorian tones, where that ____ ____ was that said he would not eat hash. Instantly the traveling man seized his knife and fork, and all at once, to the intense merriment of others who knew Tom, discovered that hash was quite palatable food.
As illustrative how justice was administered, the case of "T. Vancil vs. E. L. Stone," tried June 7, 1873, before E. J. Dodge, a Justice of the Peace, will be sufficient. The plaintiff's bill of particulars was as follows:
"The plaintiff claims judgment against the defendant in the sum of $40.00 and costs of suit, for this that the said defendant did on or about the ____ day of May, 1873, willfully and unlawfully kill a certain hog or swine, the property of this plaintiff and worth the sum of forty dollars."
George Eldred sworn says: "I see the hog the day it was killed; I see it was dangerous to run at large and told Ed Stone. I went to it and he would snap and bite and froth at the mouth. I have seen mad hogs in Wisconsin, I never see one eat that was mad."
"I find by reviewing the testimony in this cause by T. Vancil evidence, that on or about the ___ day of May He, Vancil, was the owner of a certain hog or swine which He valued, and held to be worth $40, and that he see Mr. E. L. Stone shoot said hog, and kill him.
"The hydrophobia is a disease occasioned by the bit of a rabid animal, and so called from the great dread that those who suffer from it manifest at the sight of water. The dog, cat, fox and wolf are the animals among whom this disease is most common, and among whom it is natural, and always originates in the canine or feline family; but there is perhaps no animal to whom it is not capable of being communicated as it is to man. An animal possessed with the hydrophobia will neither eat or drink. It has not been claimed, or any attempt to show, that this hog had been bit by any animal possessed with hydrophobia. In regard to the City Ordinance referred to--that ordinance is all right. It is a very good law, and no well regulated city would be without it, and the mode the City Council will have devised and adopted to abate that nuisance is also a good one. (i. e.) 'The City Marshal shall take up, and empound, and advertise, and if not redeemed, sell such swine to the highest bidder, and pay the charges.' I cannot understand that the City Council has any power to delegate to the marshal rights and privileges which they have not got themselves (i. e.) to destroy summorly property belonging to the residents of this city, 'without even notifying the owner. It is therefore ordered and adjudged by the Court, that the said T. Vancil have and recover of the said Ed. L. Stone, the sum of $40 and cost of this suit."
While Justice's Courts were conducted in a rather peculiar manner, the method of conducting funerals was equally peculiar. There came to Great Bend, in 1872, an attorney named Godfrey, who had fallen into rather dissipating habits. One night, during the winter of 1872-73, while in an intoxicated condition, fell down, and being unable to get up, lay where he fell the greater portion of the night, and when discovered was nearly lifeless. At that time there were but few houses in town, but Doctor Baine had a small office on the north side of the square to which Godfrey was taken, and where he died on the Wednesday following. His relatives were notified by telegram of his death and sent word that they would be on for the remains. The next day a terribly severe storm set in of wind and snow, by which all the cuts on the line of road were filled and travel completely stopped for several days.
The Sunday after Godfrey died the people congregated in the postoffice, as was their wont, where they cracked jokes, told stories, and spun yarns, helping themselves at intervals from some whisky barrels that stood at the rear end of the store in which the postoffice was located. In a short time they began to feel a little mellow, and while in this state, one fellow, named Kutch, in referring to Godfrey, said, "we have stood this thing long enough, we had better plant him." This proposition met with the approval of the crowd and in a short time two lumber wagons were hitched to and drove around to Dr. Baines' office where the remains of Godfrey were still lying. He was then lifted into one of the wagons, and as many men as could crowd into that and the other wagon got in, and started for a place north of town where a grave had been dug for two or three days. Quite a number followed on horseback. The ground was covered with snow which had drifted considerably during the storm. Accompanying the cortege, went a dog belonging to some of the party, who happened to come across a jack rabbit lying in the snow which the dog killed. A little farther along another rabbit was started, to which some of the horsemen, leaving the funeral procession, gave chase. A third one was started, and the excitement among the men increased, and between chasing rabbits and following the corpse, the grave was finally reached, which was found to have drifted full of snow.
After shoveling out the snow, and lowering the remains of Godfrey into the grave, another attorney, named Copeland, whose habits were not the steadiest, said it would be appropriate and becoming to make a few remarks, and as there was no minister of the gospel in town he, upon that occasion, would officiate in that capacity. He began his address, and just as he had reached the most touching portion, a fellow named Baker cried out " By _____, the dog is after another jack rabbit," and away the crowd went pell mell, helter-skelter, over the prairie and after the rabbit, leaving Copeland to finish his address to the silent, dreamless sleeper.
This occurred in the early days of Great Bend, but all is changed now. There are now churches and ministers in the town, and, religiously and morally, the people of Great Bend give evidence of as much advancement as do those of sister cities.
CHURCHES, SOCIETIES AND THE PRESS.
Up to the year 1877, the town was without a church edifice, although the Catholics, Methodists and Congregationalists had had organizations since the fall of 1872. In the fall of 1877, the Catholics erected a frame church on Baker avenue, and in the winter following, the Methodists put up a very neat frame edifice on the corner of Nagie and William streets. In 1878 the Congregationalists built an elegant frame church on Stone street. The Methodist Church in Great Bend was organized in the spring of 1872, by Rev. A. Hartman and has now a membership of 135, and its church property is valued at $1,100. The present pastor is Rev. M. L. Gates. The Congregational Church was organized in the fall of that year by Rev. H. A. Brundige, and has now a membership of sixty, its church property being valued at $2,000. The present pastor is Rev. I. R. Pryor. The Catholics have no resident pastor, but hold services once a month. The value of their church property is $2,400. The colored Methodists have an organization of twenty members, and a small building of trifling value, and so, also, have the colored Baptists. The Christians have an organization, but no building, and hold services in the court room, and so with the German Lutherans, who meet for worship in the schoolhouse.
Valley Lodge, No. 96, I. O. O. F., was organized under dispensation, July 11, 1872, and was chartered October 8, 1872, with six charter members. The first officers of the lodge were: J. H. Hubbard, N. G.; G. N. Moses, V. G.; W. H. Odell, R. S.; Morris Collar, Treas.; Emory Barris, W., and T. L. Stone, Con. The lodge has now a membership of eighty-two, and the present officers are: C. H. Crilley, N. G.; A. D. Fair, V. G.; E. W. Moses, P. S.; A. J. Hoisington, R. S.; Ira D. Brougher, Treas.; J. W. Brown, W., and E. R. Moses, Con. Ira D. Brougher is D. D. G. M., which position he has held for six years in succession, and the representative of the Grand Lodge is E. L. Chapman.
Zarah Encampment, No. 38, I. O. O. F., was organized under dispensation, January 21, 1881, and chartered March 8, 1881, with nine charter members. The first officers of the Encampment were: J. W. Brown, C. P.; C. B. Morgan, S. W.; Ira D. Brougher, J. W.; E. W. Moses, S.; Cal Wever, Treas., and Moses Baum, H. P. The encampment has now a membership of nineteen, and the present officers are: J. W. Brown, C. P.; Parker Corbin, S. W.; E. R. Moses, J. W.; John Corbin, S.; Charles Pressel, Treas., and R. C. Bailey, H. P. Ira D. Brougher is representative to the Grand Encampment, and J. W. Brown is D. D. G. P.
Great Bend Lodge, No. 15, A., F. & A. M., was organized under dispensation, June 19, 1873, the officers of the lodge being J. A. McClellan, W. M.; G. W. Nimocks, S. W.; J. L. Reynolds, J. W.; and E. V. Rugar, Sec. The lodge was chartered October 22, 1874, with ten members. The first officers under the charter were: G. W. Nimocks, W. M.; J. L. Reynolds, S. W.; J. W. Brown, J. W.; and E. V. Rugar, Sec. The membership of the lodge January 1, 1883 was 122, and the present officers are: G. W. Nimocks, W. M.; C. A. Patterson, S. W.; J. V. Pascoe, J. W. Clinton Golt, Sec.
Mt. Nebo Chapter, No. 36, R. A. M., organized under dispensation, January 15, 1878, and chartered October 15, 1878, with thirteen charter members. The first officers were: W. J. Pickering, M. E. H. P.; Joshua Clayton, E. R.; L. G. Fish, E. S.; and W. H. Rice, Sec. The membership of the Chapter January 1, 1883, was eighty, and the present officers are: Joshua Clayton, M. E. H. P.; A. H. Adkison, E. R.; A. C. Schermerhorn, E. S., and Clinton Golt, Sec.
St. Omer Commandery, No. 14, K. T., was organized under dispensation, November 22, 1878, and chartered May 13, 1879, with seventeen charter members. The first officers were: W. J. Perking, E. C.; S. H. Mitchell, Gen.; Hiram Allen, Capt. Gen. The present membership is fifty-two and the present officers are: A. W. Gray, E. C.; W. Torrey, Gen.; G. H. Hulme, Capt. Gen., and Clinton Golt recorder.
Pap Thomas Post, No. 52, G. A. R., was organized April 5, 1882, with twenty-one charter members. The first officers of the Post were: Ira D. Brougher, P. C.; C. M. Smith, S. V. P. C.; A. C. Schermerhorn, J. V. P. C.; D. N. Heizer, O. D.; J. K. Humphrey, O. G.; D. Turner, Adjut; E. L. Chapman, Q. M.; C. J. Mackinroth, S. M.; and E. Pinney, chaplain; The membership of the Post on January 1, 1883, was 105 and the present officers are: C. M. Smith, P. C.; A. C. Schermerhorn, S. V. P. C.; Parker Corbin, J. V. P. C.; D. N. Heizer, O. D., D. N. Robinson, O. G.; Edwin Tyler, Adjt.; George Mitchell, Q. M.; J. W. Savage, S. M.; and A. B. Miller, chaplain.
The first publication in the county was the Arkansas Valley, which was established at Great Bend in 1872. In the interest of the A., T. & S. F. R. R. Co. Its editor was A. J. McFarran. Its life was short.
Barton County Progress.--This was the next publication to make its appearance in the county and was established at Great Bend in 1873, by H. P. Shultz, who was sole editor and proprietor. This paper expired after a few months' existence.
Great Bend Register.--This was the next venture in the newspaper line, made in the county. It was established in 1874, by the Great Bend Publishing Company, with A. J. Hoisington as editor. In 1875 the paper passed into the hands of Mr. Hoisington, who became sole editor and proprietor, and who, since that time, has remained at the head of the paper as sole editor and owner, and in whose possession it still continues. The paper is an eight column folio, Republican in politics, and has a circulation of 1,200.
Inland Tribune.--The paper know by this name was established by C. P. Townsley, at Great Bend, in August, 1876, and was, and continues to be published by him as sole editor and proprietor. It is a seven column folio, weekly paper, Republican in politics, and has a circulation of 800.
The town of Great Bend is very beautifully located on an elevation between the Arkansas River and Walnut Creek, the land on which the town is situated sloping gradually from the center towards the valleys of these streams. It is a good trading point, and is supported by a wide extent of territory, and carries on a very good business. There are thirty-four business houses in town, of various kinds, as follows: General merchandise, 8; grocery stores, 7; hardware, 3; drug stores, 2; dry goods, 2; boots and shoes, 2; harness and saddlery, 2; bakeries and restaurants, 3; furniture stores, 1 jewelers, 1; millinery establishments, 1; and dealers in agricultural implements, 2. There are two banks in town, 3 lumber yards, 3 grain elevators, 2 flouring mills, 3 livery stables, and adjacent to town is a good brick-yard, at which a very excellent quality of brick is made. The various professions are well represented in town, and the stores, generally, are well fitted up and well stocked. In the resident portions of the city there are some very fine dwellings, but none whose size or finish render them particularly striking; but all have an appearance of neatness, cleanliness and comfort.