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


[TOC] [part 6] [part 4] [Cutler's History]


The county was organized September 12, 1855. S. A. Williams, as Probate Judge, administered the oath of office as Commissioners to Col. H. T. Wilson and Charles B. Wingfield. B. F. Hill was appointed Sheriff and William Margrave, Deputy Sheriff of the County. On the 17th of September, the following officers were appointed: Clerk, James J. Farley; Constable, John F. Cottrell; Justice, Thomas Watkins. William Margrave had been appointed a Justice of the Peace in December, 1854, by Gov. Reeder and was the first Justice in the county. On the 15th of October four additional Justices and three Constables were appointed, and as Treasurer, A. Hornbeck; Assessor, W. W. Spratt; Coroner, H. R. Kelso.

In November the county was divided into the following townships: Little Osage, Timberhill, Scott, Drywood and Russell. In 1858, the name of Russell Township was changed to Marion, and Freedom Township was organized. In 1859, Franklin and Marmaton were organized; in 1866, Walnut and Pawnee, and in 1870, Mill Creek, making eleven townships in the county.

From the organization of the county to January, 1858, its affairs were in charge of the Probate Judge, assisted by two Commissioners, this body being styled the County Court, at which time a Board of Supervisors took the place of the court. This Board consisting of one Supervisor from each township. In 1860, this form of government was changed to the present--that of three Commissioners. Under this arrangement the first Commissioners were Isaac Ford, Lester Ray and G. W. Miller.

The first election for county officers held in the fall of 1856, resulted as follows: Clerk, James J. Farley; Treasurer, A. Hornbeck; Sheriff, B. F. Hill; Probate Judge, S. A. Williams; Register of Deeds, James J. Farley.

In 1855, the county seat was located at Fort Scott, that being then as now the most important town in the county. In 1858, on account of the border troubles it was moved to Marmaton by a special law of the Legislature, enacted for that purpose. An election was held on the 11th of May, 1863, for the purpose of re-locating the county seat, which resulted as follows: For Fort Scott, 700 votes; Centerville, 279; Mapleton, 14; and for Fort Lincoln, 1 vote. Fort Scott therefore having received a majority of all the votes cast was proclaimed the county seat; no attempt has since been made to remove it.

The members of the Territorial Council from Bourbon County with date of election, are as follows: William Barbee, March 30, 1855; George S. Hillyer, 1857; Watson Stewart, 1859.

The members of the State Senate have been: J. C. Burnett, 1861; Isaac Ford, 1862; A. Danford, 1864; D. B. Emmert, 1866; M. V. Voss, 1868; W. E. Guerin, 1872; J. W. Bainum, 1874; W. R. Griffin, 1876 and 1878; E. F. Ware, 1880.

List of Representatives in the Territorial Legislature, with the date of election have been as follows: Samuel A. Williams and Joseph C. Anderson, March 30, 1855; W. W. Spratt and B. Brantly, 1856; Stephen C. Cooper, 1857; T. R. Roberts, 1858; Horatio Knowles, 1859; J. C. Burnett, 1860.

The Representatives in the State Legislature have been: H. Knowles, S. B. Mahurin and J. T. Neal, 1861; D. B. Jackman, J. Hawkins, D. R. Cobb and C. F. Drake, 1862; D. R. Cobb, J. G. Miller, R. P. Stevens and William Stone, 1863; L. D. Clevender, D. L. Campbell, N. Griswold and W. Z. Strong, 1864; C. W. Blair, N. Griswold, W. H. Green and J. S. Wilson, 1865; S. A. Manlove, W. N. McIntosh, W. F. Travers and J. S. Wilson, 1866; William Hinton, E. M. Hulett, J. B. Moore and B. F. Smalley, 1867; J. B. Moore, D. D. Roberts, L. Roberts and W. Simpson, 1868; George P. Eaves, C. W. Libby, J. A. Tiffany and W. C. Webb, 1869; W. H. Green, C. W. Libby, C. S. Steele and W. C. Webb, 1870; W. H. Green, J. R. Greening and L. G. Palmer, 1871; Jacob Brenner, W. J. Cochran and R. P. McDonald, 1872; S. Bird, David Johnson and T. F. Robley, 1873; John Raney, A. Goucher, and E. M. Hulett, 1874; E. P. Davis, John J. Stewart and B. J. Waters, 1875; John J. Stewart, Robert Geffs, S. A. Day and S. D. Hart, 1876; John J. Stewart, W. I. Smith, J. H. Sallee and T. W. Tallman, 1878; Wiley Bolinger, Oscar Strait, J. H. Lawhead and Thomas Cochran, 1880.


The first school district organized in the county was what is now District No. 10, December 10, 1859. This was the only one organized that year. In 1860, four districts were organized; in 1861, none; in 1862, eight; in 1863, twenty-three, and in 1864, eight. In 1867, the organization of new school districts again commenced, and from that time to 1881, with the exception of 1878, from one to nine school districts were organized each year. There are now ninety-eight school districts in the county, including Fort Scott. In 1862, the number of scholars in the county was 722; in 1865, 3,261; in 1870, 5,312; in 1880, 7,015, and in 1882, 7,866--males, 3995; females, 3,871. The number of pupils enrolled was--males, 2,921; females, 3,089. The number of different teachers employed during the year was 150; average wages of males, $34.27; females, $30.86. There are 100 schoolhouses in the county--two of brick, three of stone and ninety-five frame. In the district school libraries there are 350 volumes. The value of school property in the county is estimated at $89,672, and the total value of all school property in the county is $100,000.

The personal property of the county is valued as follows: Horses, 6,374, value $193,285; cattle, 29,250, value $327,736; mules, 907, value $32,182; sheep, 6,102, value $6,953; swine, 9,225, value $24,892; farming implements, value $65,928; carriages, 403, value, $4,977; stocks, $7,499; national bank shares $25,000; money, $39,027; credits, $71,095; merchandise, $211,176; manufacturers' stock, $12,280; notes, $6,817; mortgages, $1,300; wagons, $15,070; other property, $141,682; total, $1,186,899; constitutional exemption, $311,400; net amount on the tax list, $875,499.

Real Estate.--Taxable acres under cultivation 194,127; not under cultivation, 192,508; value of all lands, $1,938,345; number of town lots, 5,995, value $837,767; value of all railroad property, $673,309.60; total taxable value of all property in the county, $4,324,926.60.

In 1882, of the 267,920 acres of farms in the county, the following was the acreage of the principal crops: Winter wheat, 6,826; rye, 466; corn, 71,948; oats, 10,241; Irish potatoes, 878; sweet potatoes, 19; sorghum, 395; castor beans, 1,221; flax, 7,300; millet and Hungarian, 6,268; timothy meadow, 782; clover, 373; prairie, 36,758; timothy pasture, 77; prairie pasture, 41,153; other pastures, 174.

In nurseries, 216 acres; apple trees--bearing, 158,766; not bearing, 63,994; pear trees--bearing, 4,559; not bearing, 4,835; plum trees--bearing, 3,129; not bearing, 3,005; peach trees--bearing, 103,040; not bearing, 22,061; cherry trees--bearing, 33,370; not bearing, 11,080; vineyards, 88 acres, with 215 gallons of wine made in 1882.

But little attention has been paid to the cultivation of timber, the following being the number of acres of each variety of trees reported as planted up to 1882: cottonwood, 4; honey locust, 2; maple, 58; walnut, 41; other varieties, 54; total, 159. The planting of Osage orange trees in double rows on either side of railroads, for railroad ties, and by farmers for fence posts and similar purposes is earnestly recommended.

Of board fence there are 20,035 rods; rail, 212,596; stone, 98,268; hedge, 435,144; wire, 114,160; total, 870,203 rods, or 2,719.4 miles.

The population of the county in 1860 was 6,102; in 1865, 7,961, of which 787 were colored; in 1870, 15,102; 1875, 16,879; in 1880, 19,565; in 1882, 20,159, distributed among the several townships as follows: Osage, 1,159; Freedom, 1,216; Timberhill, 1,235; Franklin, 1,560; Marion, 1,980; Mill Creek, 890; Marmaton, 1,134; Scott, 2,245; Drywood, 1,324; Pawnee, 918; Walnut, 809; the city of Fort Scott, 5,689.


The first action taken by the Commissioners of Bourbon County looking to the building of a railroad through the county was upon a petition for the privilege of voting $150,000 in bonds to the Kansas & Neosho Valley Railroad Company, and of subscribing to the capital stock of said road a like amount. This was November 18, 1865, when an election was ordered to be held December 16th. At this election the proposition was adopted by the electors by a vote of 705 for the bonds to 220 against them. On the 22nd of December the Commissioners of Bourbon County sent an address to Thomas Carney, Mayor of Leavenworth, asking that Leavenworth County be given an opportunity to vote $200,000 or $250,000 in bonds in aid of the project, before the election of new officers of the railroad company should be held, and before the change of the name of the road should be made, which had been promised Bourbon and Linn Counties if they would vote bonds. Individual subscriptions to the stock were also solicited and as an inducement to private parties to subscribe, this new election had been promised in order that the people so subscribing might be represented in the company by directors of their own choosing.

On September 10, 1866, it was resolved by the Commissioners that as the K. & W. V. R. R. Company had failed to change the name of its road, that the tender of the subscription of $150,000 unless the name were changed within thirty days, and the County Clerk was forbidden to issue the bonds without instructions from the Commissioners.

On June 29, 1868, Col. K. Coates, President of the K. & W. V. R. R. Company, asked that the bonds voted to the road be issued and placed in the hands of the trustee, but not to be delivered to the company until the road should be completed to Fort Scott, and on the same day the Commissioners entered into an agreement with the railroad company, whereby the county agreed to sell its $150,000 of stock in the road for the nominal consideration of $5, and on the conditions that the company shall build, and operate the road from Kansas City to Fort Scott within two years from that date; and also agree that when the road is built and in operation to Fort Scott, then the bonds shall be issued, provided that in the meantime the name of the road shall have been changed to the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad. The name of the road was changed previous to
April 29, 1869, on which day the company, by its attorney, B. F. Simpson, made application for the laying off of a route through Bourbon County for said road, and on the 1st of June, the route was laid off by the Commissioners to the southern boundary of the county of Bourbon.

On July 22, Col. A. S. Johnson, Land Commissioner for the road, submitted an application to the Board, asking that a day be set for appraising damages and locating the route through the Neutral Lands in Bourbon County, and in response to the application, August 31 was chosen.

The M. R. Ft. S. & G. R. R. was completed to Fort Scott in December, 1869, and on January 7, 1870, the bonds for $150,000 were delivered to Col. Coates, President, the company having fulfilled its part of the contract of June 29, 1868; and the stock for $150,000 was at the same time delivered to the company, the county receiving its $5 in cash, promised on the day of sale to be paid for the same. The name of this road was changed to the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad.

The first step in the Tebo & Neosho Railroad movement in Bourbon County was taken May 7, 1867, on which day the people voted on the question of subscribing $150,000 to the stock of the company, and issuing a like amount of county bonds. The election resulted in the casting of 468 votes for the proposition, and 442 votes against it, and there were no returns from Franklin and Walnut Townships.

On July 23, 1869, the Commissioners decided that it was not advisable to subscribe, at that time, to the capital stock of the Tebo & Neosho Railroad Company; but it was ordered that $150,000 be subscribed to the capital stock of any railroad company that would build a road, starting at Fort Scott and running north of the Marmaton in the general direction of Humboldt, and that bonds be issued in payment therefor, provided that at a general election held for the purpose, the people of the county should approve of the order, and that said election should be held August 24, 1869; and it was also understood that a vote in favor of this proposition would be a vote re-affirming the election of May 7, 1867. The proposition was approved of, August 24, 1869, by the casting of 1,428 votes for it to 703 votes against it. On the 10th of November, 1869, the Board of Commissioners, convinced of the propriety and necessity of being represented in the directory of the Tebo & Neosho Railroad Company, appointed Dr. J. S. Redfield as agent of Bourbon County to attend the meetings of the company's directors, with authority to cancel the county's subscription to the stock of the company, departed from its promises. (sic)

On the 19th of December, 1873, the Tebo & Neosho Railroad bonds having been declared void by the Supreme Court of Kansas, it was ordered that the $4,400 collected to be applied to the payment of interest thereon be transferred to the county fund, and the balance was ordered to be expended in the purchase of outstanding county internal improvement bonds.

On the 13th of October, 1870, the Clerk of the county was authorized to subscribe $150,000 to the capital stock of Fort Scott & Allen County Railroad Company, under the provisions of the election held August 24, 1869, on the condition that the railroad should be completed from Fort Scott to the west line of the county by July 1, 1872. On February 13, 1872, the Fort Scott, Humboldt & Western Railroad, as successors to the Fort Scott & Allen County Company, made application for the issuance of the bonds promised on conditions to the latter; but as the conditions had not been complied with, the application was refused and denied. But the Chairman and Clerk of the Board were authorized to sign, issue and deliver to the Fort Scott, Humboldt & Western Railroad Company, bonds for $150,000, upon the conditions that after the road should be built and operated for five miles, then bonds to the amount of $7,500 should be issued, and similarly for each succeeding five miles built, until the whole amount of $150,000 should be issued.

On the 12th of August, 1873, the latter company made application for the issuing of the bonds, but the Commissioners, having no evidence that the company had secured the right of way, or that it filed a copy of the map or profile of its road in the office of the County Clerk, as required to do by law, refused the application, and the Clerk was ordered to deliver to the Board the lithographed bonds, which had not been signed, and the Board themselves then proceeded to burn and destroy the bonds.

On Tuesday, February 13, 1872, an election was held on the question of subscribing $150,000 to the capital stock of the Topeka, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad Company, and $25,000 of that to the Lexington, Lake & Gulf Company, on the conditions with respect to the former company, that it should build its road through Mapleton, and locate its general office and machine and work shops at Fort Scott, the road to be in operation, and office and shops to be erected by May 1, 1873. As the result of the election, there were cast 2,185 votes for the proposition, 820 against it, and 8 scattering--total vote, 3,013. But as this company failed to build its road, and to erect its general office and machine and work shops by May 1, 1873, the bonds, which had not yet been signed, were likewise burned and destroyed, August 12, 1873, and on the same day the proposition to subscribe $25,000 to the Lexington, Lake & Gulf Company's stock was declared void, the company having taken no steps toward building the road.

On July 11, 1874, the Fort Scott, Southeastern & Memphis Railroad Company, asked that Commissioners proceed to assess damages for right of way of said road from Fort Scott to the Missouri State line. This road was built from its junction with the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, four miles south of Fort Scott, to Springfield, Mo., in 1880 and 1881.

On July 26, 1881, an election was held in Scott, Timberhill and Mill Creek Townships on the question of voting in each township $10,000 in bonds to Fort Scott, Topeka & Lincoln Railroad Company, on the condition that the road should be built by January 1, 1883. In Scott and Timberhill Townships the bonds were voted by majorities of 114 and 116, respectively, but in Mill Creek Township the vote was a tie. At a second election held in this township October 17, 1881, the bonds were voted down by a vote of 58 to 81 against them. This company was merged into or re-organized as the Kansas & Nebraska Central Railroad Company, in 1882, and a new election held in the same three townships on the question of subscribing in each of them $10,000, and in Franklin Township, $15,000, to the capital stock of this latter company, the limit of time given in which to complete the building of the road from Fort Scott through each township to the north or west side of Franklin Township being January 1, 1885. The election was held on November 21 and 22, with the following results: Scott Township cast 116 votes for the subscription, and 70 against it; Mill Creek 63 for, and 86 against; Timberhill, 137 for, 36 against; and Franklin, 156 for, and 118 against it.

Marion Township aided the building of the St. Louis, Fort Scott & Wichita Railroad to the extent of $10,000, and these are the only township railroad bonds outstanding.

The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad was built in 1870, and as the successor of the Tebo & Neosho Railroad Company, inherited the $150,000 issued to that company, and which were twice declared void by the United States Circuit Court for the district of Kansas, on the ground that at the original election, held May 7, 1867, the returns from Franklin Township, although in on the same day prescribed for the counting of the vote, were not counted by the Commissioners, while had these returns been counted the majority against the bonds would have been 100, instead of, as reported, 26, in favor of them; and also because at the election of August 24, 1869, there was no opportunity given to vote for or against one proposition without voting for or against both.

But as there was danger of the case going before the Supreme Court of the United States, which has always held that such bonds are valid in the hands of innocent holders, and in this event the county would have both principal to pay, the Commissioners on November, 1882, compromised the matter by issuing bonds to the amount of $30,000, due in thirty years, bearing six percent interest; thus making the total bonded indebtedness of the county $219,200. The county now has eighty miles of railroad.


Fort Scott is situated in the eastern part of the county, five miles from the Missouri State line. It is on the south bank of the Marmaton, on ground sufficiently uneven to admit of excellent drainage. It is surrounded by a natural amphitheater of hills, from whose summits a splendid view of the city and adjacent country may be obtained. Fort Scott has been styled by a certain writer and not perhaps unjustly, the "Pittsburgh of Kansas," on account of its present and prospective importance as a manufacturing center. Its natural advantages are both numerous and great. There is an abundance of building stone, lime, cement, coal, water and natural gas, the latter, however, has not as yet been utilized. As the country is settled up and developed, Fort Scott must naturally increase in population and importance; and she may, by a continuance of generous and judicious assistance to such new manufacturing enterprises as may desire or as may be induced to locate there, not only rapidly enhance her own interests and growth, but may also largely aid in the development of the agricultural interests of the surrounding country.

From 1842 to 1854, Fort Scott was nothing but a military post. In the latter year the troops were withdrawn, and on the 16th of May, 1855, the buildings erected by the Government at a cost of about $52,000, were sold at auction. The block farthest toward the west, which was afterward known as the Fort Scott or "Free State" Hotel, was bought by A. Hornbeck for $500; the next block east by Col. H. T. Wilson, for $300; the next by Edward Greenwood for $505; and the next one farthest toward the east by J. Mitchell for $450, or a total of $1,755. The families of Col. Wilson and Capt. John Hamilton were the only ones not in the employ of the Government at the time of the withdrawal of the troops. Col. Wilson continued to conduct his store, which stood on Market street near the present location of Has. Clark's agricultural implement house. The first hotel in the city was opened in the west block of the old Government buildings by Col. Thomas Arnett.

During the year 1855, quite a number of other people came to Fort Scott, among them Dr. Hill, R. Harkness, D. F. Greenwood, Thomas Dodge; and nearly all the land in the country at this time belonged to the New York Indians, hence nothing could be done but to select and hold claims until such time as they should by purchase of or treaty with the Indians be thrown open to settlement. A number of claims were thus taken and held, but nothing was done toward organizing a town company or building up a town until June, 1857, about the first of which month George A. Crawford, D. H. Wier, D. W. Holbrook, Norman Eddy, James E. Jones and Charles Dimon arrived on the ground to purchase these claims and lay out a town. On the 8th of the month Fort Scott Town Company was organized, and consisted of George A. Crawford, President; G. W. Jones, Secretary; H. T. Wilson, Treasurer; Norman Eddy, D. H. Wier, D. W. Holbrook, William R. Judson, T. R. Blackburn and E. S. Lowman. Soon afterward Dr. Blake Little was made a conditional member of the company, and Judge Joseph Williams purchased the interest of G. W. Jones. The town company purchased the "claims" of H. T. Wilson, G. W. Jones, N. E. Herson, A. Hornbeck and S. A. Williams. The town was incorporated in February, 1860, and obtained title to their land on the 17th September following, through the Mayor, Joseph Ray. The town site then consisted of 320 acres, but subsequently the company purchased 200 acres more. The company dealt liberally with the old settlers, donating to them the lots upon which the houses purchased of the Government stood. They also donated lots to all the religious denominations, one to the Government for a National cemetery, and a square to the county for a court house and jail.

In July, 1857, Ex-Gov. Epaphroditus Ransom, of Michigan, who had been appointed Receiver of the Land Office, arrived and opened the office. He was accompanied by his son-in-law, George J. Clark, and the latter's family, of wife and two children. George W. Clarke also arrived about this time, having been appointed Register of the Land Office, conducting the business after his arrival in the name of Mr. Doak, his brother-in-law. In August, the following named parties arrived: Horatio Knowles, T. R. Roberts, Joseph Ray, Charles Bull, Orlando Darling, B. P. McDonald, J. N. Roach and William Gallaher. A plat of the town site was made immediately thereafter by O. Darling; and a second one by O. Edwards. Some time during the year, Dr. Blake Little & Son opened a store in the old quartermaster's building. John G. Stewart started a blacksmith shop, and Sheriff Hill and William Barnes each opened a saloon. George A. Crawford, W. R. Judson and C. Dimon bought the "Free State Hotel," which for a long time was a popular resort for travelers. Across the Plaza to the southwest, about the beginning of the year 1858, a Mr. McKay opened the Western Hotel, which at once became Pro-slavery headquarters, and was henceforward known as the "Pro-slavery Hotel." On the 1st of January, 1858, William T. Campbell, who had just previously moved into Fort Scott from Barnesville, succeeded C. Dimon as proprietor of the "Free State Hotel," and on the 18th gave an "opening ball." One fiddle furnished the music, and the calling was done by Joseph Ray, to the eminent satisfaction of all, except one Pro-slavery young lady, who said she "didn't like that derned Abolition prompting."

During the early part of this winter, Alexander McDonald, E. S. Bowen and A. R. Allison arrived. On the 6th of January, McDonald and Bowen selected a site at the foot of Locust street for a saw mill, which they had purchased in St. Louis. In the early spring the mill was erected, and it sawed all the lumber for the town company's building, and some frame dwelling buildings. In the fall a corn-cracker was added to the mill. In the spring two stores had been erected on Market street--one by W. I. Linn, the other by J. S. Caulkins, the store of the former being the first frame building erected in the city outside the Plaza. The first frame dwelling house was erected in the fall by "Uncle Billy" Smith, on the corner of Locust street and Scott avenue. About the same time, a second blacksmith shop was started by O. H. Kelley, and "Fort Roach" was built at the corner of Jones and Hickory streets. It was a small log structure and often served as headquarters for the "jayhawkers," on the occasion of their numerous raids into the city. George J. Clark and William Gallaher erected a small log building, and B. P. McDonald and A. Campbell, a small house on Main street.

The years 1859 and 1860 were for the most part peaceful and devoted to material interests and the building up of the town; during the war but little progress was made; since the war the city has made steady and sure progress, and is justly entitled to the appellation of the "Metropolis of Southeastern Kansas," as a reference to the histories of the local industries and institutions will amply reveal. There is yet, however, one thing lacking, which will doubtless be supplied in due time--a public library and reading room. Heretofore, public spirit has been mainly active in securing railroads, manufactories and other aids to material prosperity. Hereafter this spirit will to some extent lack fields of that kind in which to exert itself, and will naturally be diverted into providing ampler means of intellectual culture, taste and refinement.

[TOC] [part 6] [part 4] [Cutler's History]