produced this selection.

William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas
was first published in 1883 by A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL.


PART 1: Location and Natural Features | Map and Population | Naming the County | Early Settlement | Indian Lands | Railway Matters
PART 2: The Grasshoppers | County Matters | War Record | County Schools and Societies | Hiawatha, Part 1
PART 3: Hiawatha, Part 2
PART 4: Hiawatha, Part 3
PART 5: Biographical Sketches (Allem - Bussing)
PART 6: Biographical Sketches (Case - Fuller)
PART 7: Biographical Sketches (Gibson - Krebs)
PART 8: Biographical Sketches (Lange - Morris)
PART 9: Biographical Sketches (Moser - Rudd)
PART 10: Biographical Sketches (Schilling - Sweitzer)
PART 11: Biographical Sketches (Thomas - Underwood)
PART 12: Biographical Sketches (Wagstaff - Zimmers)
PART 13: Robinson
PART 14: Biographical Sketches (Beal - Gilbert)
PART 15: Biographical Sketches (Hack - Lyman)
PART 16: Biographical Sketches (Martin - Russell)
PART 17: Biographical Sketches (Slater - Wynkoop)
PART 18: Irving Township | Biographical Sketches (Beach - Guinn)
PART 19: Biographical Sketches (Harper - Wilson)
PART 20: Walnut Township | Biographical Sketches - Walnut Township (Anders - Frink)
PART 21: Biographical Sketches - Walnut Township (Gassin - Isely)
PART 22: Biographical Sketches - Walnut Township (Joss - Wagoner)
PART 23: Padonia
PART 24: Morrill | Biographical Sketches - Morrill Township (Beamer - Furnish)
PART 25: Biographical Sketches - Morrill Township (Gordon - Willard)
PART 26: Hamlin | Biographical Sketches - Hamlin Township (Backus - Grover)
PART 27: Biographical Sketches - Hamlin Township (Hillmon - Unkefer)
PART 28: Claytonville | Baker
PART 29: Willis | Biographical Sketches - Mission Township (Baker - Douthart)
PART 30: Biographical Sketches - Mission Township (Ferry - Littreal)
PART 31: Biographical Sketches - Mission Township (Mell - Willis)
PART 32: Everest| Powhattan Township


BROWN County is situated in the northeastern portion of Kansas, being located in the first tier of counties, from Nebraska. Doniphan County lies to the east, Atchison and Jackson counties to the south, and Nemaha County to the west.

Brown County has, according to the Government survey, two per cent. of bottom land and ninety-eight per cent. of upland. It is also divided into eight per cent. of forest and ninety-two per cent. of prairie. The average width of the bottom lands along the line of streams is one mile.

The varieties of timber found in the county are: Walnut, oak, hickory, cottonwood, elm, linn, box elder, soft maple, sycamore, willow, mulberry, cherry, hackberry, buckeye, honey locust, crab apple and plum. The average width of natural timber belts does not exceed one mile.

The principal streams of the county are the Walnut, running in a general northeasterly course and emptying into the Nemaha River, the Delaware, running southeast into the Kansas River, the Wolf River southeasterly into the Missouri, Roys Creek northeast to the Nemaha, Greggs southeast into the Delaware, Little Delaware southeast to the Delaware, Spring and Mulberry creeks run southeast into Walnut Creek, Pony Creek northeast.

Water is found at various depths but rarely at more than forty or less than twenty feet depth.

Coal is found in thin veins at different points, but has never as yet been successfully worked.

Stone is abundant throughout the county, both limestone and sandstone appearing frequently. As a rule this stone crops out of the surface and can be obtained without great trouble or expense. It is used for foundations, and in many instances for entire buildings.

Geo. W. Bubach, of Hiawatha, states that the change in the climate of Brown County during the past thirteen years has been marked in several particulars. First in the formation of dew; whereas the absence of dew in the months of February and March formerly proved detrimental to the growth and luxuriance of evergreens - arbor-vitae (red cedar), Norway spruce, etc., and also to small shrubbery, there is now a heavy formation of dew through those months. The winds also are less violent than during the earlier years of settlement, and a difference between the climate and that of States farther east is noted in regard to spring frosts. In the more eastern States, a cold raw day in spring is usually followed by a heavy frost the next morning, but here at the close of a cold day, as the wind goes down, the temperature generally rises, and the fruit is saved from destruction by frost. Mr. Bubach is confident that Kansas will eventually be one of the finest fruit growing States in the Union.



                                          | 1870.|  1880.
(a) Hamlin Township.......................|  ....|  1,025
(b) Hiawatha Township, incl Hiawatha City.|  ....|  2,849
(c) Irving Township.......................| 2,300|    967
(d) Mission Township......................|  ....|  1,789
(e) Morrill Township......................|  ....|    972
(f) Padonia Township......................|  ....|    756
(g) Powhattan Township....................|  ....|  1,214
(h) Robinson Township.....................|  ....|  1,145
(i) Walnut Township.......................|  ....|  1,130
(j) Washington Township...................|  ....|    970
                                          | 2,300| 12,817
Hiawatha City.............................|  ....|  1,375
(a) In 1879, detached from Walnut Creek.
(b) In 1872, formed from parts of Walnut Creek,
    Irving and Lochrane.
(c) In 1872, part set off to Hiawatha: in 1879, to Padonia;
    name published "Irwin" in 1870.
(d) In 1872, formed from parts of Claytonville and Lochrane.
(e) In 1879, detached from Walnut Creek.
(f) In 1879, detached from Irving.
(g) In 1872, detached from Lochrane.
(h) In 1877, detached from Claytonville.
(i) In 1872, formed from parts of Lochrane and Walnut Creek.
(j) In 1877, detached from Claytonville.


The first Territorial Legislature of 1855 districted a large part of the new territory into counties and assigned names for all. In all places where the name of the county appears that year, it is spelled Browne. In the report of 1875 of the Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture, the statement was made that the county was named in honor of Hon. Albert G. Brown, of Mississippi, who was a United States Senator at the time of the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. This statement was backed by a letter from Judge F. G. Adams, an old resident of Kansas, who says:

"I furnished you the information for the item in your report upon the authority of Hon. John Martin, of Topeka, who was a clerk in the Legislature during which the county was originally established and named - the session of 1855 - the first territorial session, held at Shawnee Mission in Johnson County.

Mr. Martin's recollection was quite clear on the point, and his information was so explicit that I had no doubt of its correctness. Since seeing Major Morrills letter to you, I have made further inquiry on the subject of Mr. Alex. N. Johnson and Mr. H. D. McMeekin, of this city, both of whom were members of that first Territorial Legislature. They fully agreed with Mr. Martin, that the county was named in honor of Albert G. Brown, of Mississippi, as stated in your report. In respect to the orthography of the name, I have examined, and find the following facts:

The act of 1855, defining the boundaries of the counties of Kansas, give the spelling Browne. It is so in the published statutes and journals, and so in the enrolled bill preserved in the Secretary of States office.

But it does not so occur in the enrolled bills of the second session of the Legislature, held in 1857, commencing at Lecompton, January 4 of that year. In the enrolled bills of that second session the final e is dropped from Brown County. This is so in an act redefining the boundaries of the several counties of the Territory, and the same is true as to all of the enrolled bills of that session, including one redistricting the Territory for legislative purposed. But in the published statutes of that session, 1857, the name is invariably printed with the final e - following the statutes of 1845.

The enrolled bill is the highest authority of variance like this. It was then the Legislature of 1857 that changed the orthography from Browne to Brown. The latter orthography has since been followed in Kansas statutes.

Major Morrill was a member of the House of Representatives at the third legislative session, and the first page of the House journal of that session shows that he appeared as the member from the Fourth and Fifth districts, embracing Brown and Nemaha counties - the final e being omitted in the journal as in all the laws and proceedings of that session.

Albert G. Brown's name was not spelled with a final e. If, then Messrs. Johnson, Martin and McMeekin are correct, as they doubtless are, in their recollection, that the Legislature of 1855 intended to honor the Mississippi Senator, by giving his name to the county, a clerical error was made in the enrollment of the bill - an error which went into the printed statutes of that and the succeeding sessions, and so into the early records of the county. There was no member of the Legislature from Doniphan named Brown, nor from that part of the Territory, during these early sessions. Brown was attached to Doniphan at the first session, and the detached at the second. In the act detaching it was named Brown, without the e.

The Legislature, at its second session, was Pro-slavery, and could not in dropping the e have made the change for the purpose of honoring old John Brown. No formal act in regard to the name was ever passed, other than those of the two Pro-slavery Legislatures. The succeeding Legislatures in acts in which the same occurs have simply followed the orthography fixed by the acts of 1857.

It is not singular that Major Morrill should have fallen into error in this matter. Doubtless he had not at the time taken notice of the precise facts. John Browns trail crossed Brown County. It is a settled tradition in that section that the county was named after the old martyr. It gives me no pleasure to dispel the error."

This theory seems improbably for many reasons, but chiefly from the fact that the final e appears in the records of the first two Legislatures, and not at a later date. It is hardly to be believed that the law makers did not know the old heros name to a letter. Among a large class of the early settlers, the opinion that the county was named in honor of Hon. O. H. Browne, was very generally received. Browne was a member of the Legislature in 1855, when the counties were laid out and named, and that body designated the new counties by the names of its own members. From a letter of Dr. J. H. Stringfellow, now of St. Joe, Mo., and a member of the Legislature of 1855 from Atchison, is taken the following extract, which seems to be conclusive:

"There is an error regarding the name of Brown County which should be corrected, as it is likely to become a part of the future history of Kansas. I am not surprised that the facts have become confused, as so long a time has elapsed, and such tremendous events have intervened since their occurrence.

The name of the county was originally Browne, after a very brilliant and very eccentric member of the House at the time, O. H. Browne, of the then Third Representative District, and a resident of what is now Douglas County, where he died some few years since. There were several counties named after members of the one or the other of the two houses, viz: Johnson, after Rev. Thomas Johnson, a member of the council: Lykins, after Rev. David Lykins, of the council, an ex-Indian Missionary: Coffey, after A. M. Coffey, of the Council from Kentucky: Anderson, after Joseph C. Anderson of the House: Marshall, after F. I. Marshall, of the House.

Of the above gentlemen, I think only two are now living - F. L. Marshall, now of Colorado, and enterprising, intelligent man, and highly respected: and J. C. Anderson, now, I think, of Kentucky, a very intelligent lawyer, and all of them men of unblemished personal character.

In addition to this, there have been published letters from various members of the first Territorial Legislature, and all agree that O. H. Browne, who died a few years ago, was the godfather of the county. The reason for the dropping of the final e has never been satisfactorily explained, but as it appears in all the records of the Pro-slavery Legislature, and in none of those of the Free-state body, the presumption that some long forgotten political project was at the bottom of the change is by no means improbable.


Prior to the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill there was, as far as is known, no settlement of whites in this county. Wandering hunters had passed through on their excursions and may have been enticed by the abundance of game in the neighborhood and other favoring circumstances to halt for a considerable length of time, yet permanent settlement was unthought of. Long trains of prairie schooners winding along the divides over the old California trail passed near where Hiawatha now stands and the Indian bands scoured the level prairies and pitched their taipes at innumerable points, yet none thought of continuous residence.

The earliest records state that Thurston Chase and James Gibbons staked claims on Wolf Creek on May 11, 1854, and made some small improvements, but returned to the East in less than a month. Two weeks later a party composed of C. H. Isely, Peter and Christ Luginbuhl left St. Joseph for an exploring trip through this part of the country. The second days travel brought them to a point a few miles east of the site of Hiawatha, where they camped near a small stream just before nightfall. With night came a storm which pelted and drenched them to a disheartening extent. To add to their troubles the discovery of a band of mounted Indians was made by the gleam of the lightning. In the morning the Indians had disappeared but the party were more than willing to abandon their venture, and made good time back to St. Joseph. In June of the same year W. C. Foster came to Brown County, but passed through and settled in the eastern part of Nemaha County, having been informed that this section was a part of the Indian Trust Lands. On learning his error he removed the same fall to Brown County where he still lives.

From this time forward the tide of pioneers poured into the fertile country and before the close of 1854 the farms of the newcomers dotted the land in every direction. From Major E. N. Morrill has been obtained a partial list of those who came to Brown County during this period. E. R. Corneilison and Wallace Corneilison August 3; Thomas Brigham, Henry Gragg, Isaac Sawin, Marcellus Sawin, John, William and King Belk, J. L. Wilson, William and Thomas Duncan, B. F. Partch, Jacob Englehart and Benjamin Winkles.

The fall and winter of 1854-55 was one of those rare, genial seasons which occasionally come to Kansas, and the tide of immigration was unchecked. From this time dates the erection of the residences of many of the substantial settlers of the county - Amasa Owen, J. K. Bunn, Henry Smith, Stephen Hughes and his wife (who is said to have been the first white woman in Robinson Township) and a host of others whose claims to the remembrance of posterity have been forgotten.

In the spring of 1855 a Settler's Protective Association, or Claim Club, was formed by the settlers on Walnut Creek for the purpose of enforcing the rights of those who had staked out claims and were bone fide settlers. This was, it will be remembered, in the year of the border ruffian or bogus legislature excitement, when armed Missourians took possession of the polls and elected a legislature to suit the views of themselves and Pro-slavery friends in Kansas. Such proceedings aroused, as they well might, a sense of insecurity in the possession of claims, and the natural determination to make, by a sense of innate justice, laws of their own. Matters, however, never came to a serious head, and beyond quiet enforcement of the law, there was no incident worth preservation. Coupled, however, with the law relative to claims, was one relative to the sale of fire water to the Indians, which brought about an incident strongly characteristic of the times and the men. The story, as related by Hon. E. N. Morrill, is as follows:

The first trial for violating this code took place at the house of Jesse Padon - a small log - hut which all the settlers prior to 1882 will remember as standing on the banks of the Walnut, near Schmidt's sawmill. Complaint was made that Robert Boyd and Elisha Osborn had been selling whisky to the Indians. The settlers, sixteen in number, had gathered with the firm determination to enforce their laws at all hazards; but one in the whole settlement was absent and he was too ill to attend. When they were ready to proceed, E. R. Corneilison called their attention to the fact that the accused were not present, and asked that they be sent for. This was summarily overruled, and the trial went on. Witnesses were examined; the testimony was brief and to the point, and after a very short deliberation a verdict of guilty was rendered, and it was decided that the stock of liquors of these men should be destroyed, and that they should pay a fine of $20 and leave the county at once. Padon was appointed to carry out the sentence, and the others all went along to assist in enforcing the law. The house in which Boyd & Olson kept their liquors stood at the edge of Pilot Grove, about three miles from Padonia. When the squad arrived at the house of the accused they were called out and informed that they had been tried, convicted and sentenced, and that the officers of the law were then and there prepared to enforce the order. They replied that they would cheerfully give up their liquors and pay the fine, but begged not to be forced to leave their homes. They also promised faithfully that they would never again be guilty of a like act. After the party had duly considered the matter and taken a snifter all around, they concluded that it was too bad to waste such valuable property; so the parties paid the fine of twenty dollars, promised to sell no more to the Indians, and were allowed to retain their liquors and remain at their homes. The twenty dollars were equally divided among the posse, each receiving $1.25 for his days work, and all returned to their homes.

Two year later a claim club was formed at Hiawatha. This year (1857) saw an influx of great numbers of speculators who took claims, and after hiring the erection of a shanty and breaking of a few acres of land, returned. These men were sometimes not over nice in choosing their lands with reference to the right of predecessors, hence arose the need of a body with power to make good its claims. It was no uncommon thing in this year to see as many as fifty speculators hanging about the Benton House, the only building in the town, awaiting for the completion of work on their claims.

The first business house erected in this county, was a cross-roads store, built in 1857, by M. L. Sawin, near the old Carson schoolhouse. The first recorded marriage was that of Hiram Wheeler and Eliza E. Root, which took place on July 30, 1857. This was followed in September by that of J. Roberts and Miss Sarah McCready, and of Captain John Schilling and Miss Susan Meisenheimer.

The first child born in the county was Isaac Short, who saw the light in August, 1855.

The first Fourth of July celebration in the county, took place in 1857, on the farm of John Roe, on Mulberry Creek. Speeches were made by W. C. Foster, D. McFarland, W. G. Sargent and others, and the crowd of about two hundred had a highly patriotic and very good time.

The same summer religious services were held on the farm of E. H. Niles, and a Sabbath school was organized by Mr. David Peebles. A school was taught near Robinson the same year by David Guard, of Indiana.

The first postoffice in the county was that at Claytonville, established August 8, 1858, with George E. Clayton as Postmaster. Prior to this time there had been postal service of a private character, established in the summer of 1857, to supply the pressing need of news from the East, felt by all the settlers. Iowa Point, in Doniphan County, was the nearest postoffice, and Philip Weiss was hired by the settlers to go there weekly with a requisition for their letters. For this duty two dollars a trip was paid, and the carrier eked out his income by carrying passengers and freight. A postal route from St. Joseph to Marysville, Kas., had been ordered in 1855, and this would have supplied Highland and Hiawatha, but it was not put in operation until 1858.

The rapid growth of the county in 1857, led to the establishment of a number of postoffices, of which the following is a list: Claytonville, George E. Clayton, Postmaster, August 8; Mount Roy, Shelton Duff, Postmaster, September 2; Padonia, Orville Root, Postmaster, October 20; Hamlin, Edward H. Niles, Postmaster, December 5; Carson, M. L. Sawin, Postmaster, December 9. The following year, Poney Creek, Robinson and Hiawatha, were established, after which the war broke out, and no postoffices were created until 1864.


The Iowa Trust lands, held in trust for the Iowa tribe of Indians, embraced several thousand acres of the best lands of Brown County. Early in 1857, as the tide of immigration began to pour into the county, it became evident that a portion, at least, of these lands must pass to the possession of the whites. They were therefore condemned by the order of the Secretary of the Interior, and advertised for sale at public auction. On June 4, 1857, they were put upon the market, and owing to a sort of furor which had arisen for their possession, brought very high prices. Little immediate settlement ensued from this sale, as the buyers were largely speculators. On the other hand many who had squatted upon them previously under the impression that they were free government lands, left at once. It was several years before the lands were permanently occupied.

The Original reservation of the Kickapoo tribe occupied parts of Brown, Atchison, and Jackson counties, and included a territory of about the space of a full sized county. It now embraces about eight congressional townships. The treaty with the tribe by which they gave up part of their possessions was made June 28, 1862, and was ratified on May 28, 1863. By this act, the Central Branch, Union Pacific Railway, obtained possession of something over 125,000 acres of land, lying principally in Brown County. For this the Kickapoos received the government price of $1.25 per acre. During 1866 the lands were advertised for sale, but it was not until April 13, that the first sale was made. Then came a rush for this part of the county and rapid settlement followed.


As early as 1860, an effort to secure a railway from St. Joseph, Mo., through the northern tier of counties was made, and four miles of track was built between Ellwood and Wathena, in Doniphan County. Work was stopped the following year by the breaking out of the war, and for five years the scheme lay in abeyance. In 1866 a bill granting 125,000 acres of land to the Northern Kansas Railway passed the Legislature. On May 12th of the same year a meeting was held at Hiawatha, and Samuel Lappin was elected president, F. H. Drenning, secretary, W. B. Barnett, treasurer, and D. E. Ballard, land agent of the company. The following gentlemen were elected Directors: E. N. Morrill, Samuel Lappin, F. H. Drenning, W. B. Barnett, D. E. Ballard, Thomas Osborn, Samuel Speer, George Graham, J. E. Smith, J. D. Brumbaugh, and E. C. Manning.

Three days later an election to decide the question, Shall the people of Brown County subscribe $125,000 to the capital stock of the northern Kansas Railway? was held, and resulted in the defeat of the proposition. On June 16, 1866, an amended proposition asking for bonds to the amount of $100,000 was carried by a majority of 102. Shortly after the Northern Kansas was merged in the St. Jospeh (sic) & Denver City Railway. This railway company was not, however, ready to build at once, and the matter lay in abeyance until several years later. On January 5, 1869, a request was received by the County Commissioners for a slight modification of the contract, so that the bonds of the county might accrue to the railway as the road was constructed and not be reserved until its completion. This proposal was submitted to the people at the general election of the same year, and resulted in a vote of 422 for, to 288 against the measure. In accordance with this vote Hon. E. N. Morrill, then County Clerk, was ordered on April 14, 1870, to subscribe $100,000 to the capital stock of the railway company, which was done. The road was completed the following year, trains running to Robinson in February, and to a temporary depot near Hiawatha in March.

It is of rare occurrence that a railway in a single year makes all arrangements for right of way, for its relations with cities and villages en route, and completes its track of more than a hundred miles in a single year. Yet this has been done by the Missouri Pacific. In July, 1881, the project of running an extension from Atchison, Kan., to Omaha, Neb., was first broached. On July 31, a petition signed by two fifths of the resident taxpayers was presented to the County Commissioners, calling for a special election to determine whether the county should subscribe for the $10,000 of the stock of the Missouri Pacific Railway Company. In accordance with this petition and election in the several townships was ordered for August, 1881. On August 20 the election was held simultaneously in Mission and Padonia, and a week later in Hiawatha and Washington townships. This resulted in favor of the proposal in all but Padonia Township, and it was accordingly ordered that the County Clerk for the county subscribe the required amount to the Railway Company, issuing to pay therefor ten bonds of $10,000 each, having twenty years to run, and payable at the fiscal agency of the State of Kansas in New York City.

In the latter part of May, 1882, the new line was completed from Hiawatha to Omaha, and the link between Atchison and the former place was nearly finished. It then was decided that a freight division should be made either at Hiawatha or falls City, and Col. Everest, attorney for the railway, made overtures to both places looking toward the location of the round house and shops of the road. Meetings were held at Hiawatha, and the demands of the railway in return for the location of these buildings stated. They were in brief the relinquishment of the stock of the company, and the donation of a long and narrow strip of ground suitable for side tracks and buildings. After some discussion of this proposal it was acceded to and a committee appointed to draw up a contract for the county. Land to the amount of twenty acres, lying north of the old depot was purchased at a cost of $2,200, and a deed of the same transmitted to the officers of the Missouri Pacific. The land will be at once put in shape, and the construction of the buildings be begun. It is hard to estimate the amount of benefit accruing to the town from this action, which brings an immediate increase of population of at least 200 and business of the road will come more workmen and more trade for the merchants of the town, and it would not be surprising to see, ten years hence, a population of railroad men only of a thousand people.

[TOC] [part 2] [part 1] [Cutler's History]