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


[TOC] [part 27] [part 25] [Cutler's History]


Hamlin is located upon the St. Joseph & Western Railway, seven miles west of Hiawatha. The town is laid out upon the land of A. Leonard, and has a site of twenty acres. The postoffice at this point was opened in 1870, being removed from the old location two and a half miles south of the town. At the time of its removal the town could hardly be said to have an existence, and mail service was performed at the depot by J. Rogers. Mr. Rogers was succeeded as Postmaster by A. Leonard, who opened a postoffice in his store, where it remained until the destruction of the building. It was then located in the store of D. W. Simmons, where it remained during the terms of office of E. N. Ordway and H. P. Kenney. Upon the appointment of A. B. Wager the office was placed in his store, where it remained until the present incumbent, T. C. Mathews, received his commission and placed it in his building.

The first building in the new town was that of Mrs. Leonard, who was engaged in the millinery business. The building now serves as the kitchen of D. W. Simmons. The next store was that of A. Leonard, which was destroyed by fire in 1875. The first residence was built by J. McCuen, and was shortly followed by the dwelling of Wm. Baker.

The first child born in the town was a son of E. N. Ordway; the first death that of a Mrs. Bates, and the first wedding that of James Hays.

Dr. Heath, who came in 1875, was the medical practitioner. He was followed by J. J. Kelley, by Dr. Wm. Moore and Dr. L. O. Hoyt. The two last, who came in 1879 and 1881, respectively, are still located at this point.

The first school near Hamlin was at a point a mile northwest of the town, and was taught by Miss Emma Fisher, in 1871. The school building erected the same year was twenty-four by thirty-six feet and one story in height. The present school building was erected in the winter of 1880-81, at a cost of two thousand five hundred dollars. It is thirty by fifty-six feet, and two stories in height. Rooms are fitted up for three departments, but up to the present time but two have been in use. The first teachers in the new schoolhouse were Mrs. C. Evans and Miss F. Hitchcock. J. W. Smith and Miss Mollie Belts were appointed for the school year of 1881-82. The enrollment of children of a school age in the District (No. 50) is 121.

The first hotel in Hamlin was the Hamlin House. It was built in 1878 by Samuel Myers, who occupied it for six months and then sold to William Murray. It was purchased in 1881 by T. J. Wilson, who now manages it. It is the only hotel of the town.

The town now has three general stores, one grocery, one hardware, one, drug, one millinery and one furniture store, an elevator twenty by sixty feet, the property of J. N. Speer & Co., of Hiawatha, a grain warehouse owned by Thomas Evans, a lumber yard and two blacksmith shops. The population is something over two hundred.

Reserve is a newly laid out station of the Missouri Pacific Railway, located on the Old Indian reserve hear the State line.


The first religious services were held in the depot, in 1871, by Rev. T. J. Hansberry, of the Christian Church. This church had been organized at a point three miles south some years prior to this time, and was not formally removed to the town until 1876, although services were held with a degree of regularity. The church edifice was erected in 1876, at a cost of $3,000. It is 40x60 feet on the ground, and has a seating capacity of 300. Its first pastor, after Mr. Hansberry, was Rev. J. F. Berry, who is still a resident of the town, although the church has passed to the charge of Rev. J. W. Kelsey. The membership of the society is 120. A Sabbath school was organized in 1876, under the superintendence of J. F. Berry, and has continued to the present time. It has a membership of fifty and is under the charge of the pastor.

The Congregational Church was also organized prior to the birth of the town. Its first pastor was Rev. M. Ayers, who preached for some time in the schoolhouse (sic) and was instrumental in the erection of the church building. The structure was erected in 1873, at a cost of $2,200; its size is 30x40 feet and its seating capacity 200. Mr. Ayers was followed, in 1875, by Rev. John Cheeseman, who held the office nearly two years. Then came, with slight intervals between their pastorates, Rev. Messrs. Skinner, Matson, A. L. Howard and the present incumbent, Rev. D. Dunham. At the time of the organization of the church it had a bare dozen members, but in a short time this was increased to over forty, at which figure it now remains. A Sabbath school was organized in 1873, and has maintained a healthy growth to the present time. It has an average attendance of forty and is in charge of J. W. Smith.

The members of the German Baptist Church (Dunkards) located on the south side of the Nemaha River, hold their meetings in the Pony Creek Church, the Nemaha River being the north boundary line. The greater part of the members of this organization are located in Brown County, Kan., but some reside in Nebraska. This church was organized in 1870. The minister in Nebraska was D. E. Fry, who is still located in the same place. The minister in Brown County was the late J. J. Lichty, who organized the church. These two ministers, with their wives, were the first members. The church has now a commodious house of worship, 40x60 in size, and numbers about 175 members.

Hamlin Lodge, No. 185, A., F. & A. M. - The dispensation for this lodge was granted by the Grand Lodge of the State in May, 1878, and the charter was granted October 16, 1879. The following named were the charter members: W. E. Moore, Campbell Evans, Augustus Gardiner, Bennett Hicks, A. G. Gardiner, Caspar Gardiner, F. Gardiner, J. P. Miner, J. J. Stafford A. R. Meyers, J. B. Stewart, F. J. Robbins, B. Ellis, James Cottrel, A. S. Palmer and William Butler. The first officers of the lodge were: W. E. Moore, W. M.; C. Evans, S. W.; Augustus Gardiner, J. W.; A. G. Gardiner, Treas.; B. Ellis, Sect'y; Caspar Gardiner, S. D.; J. P. Miner, J. D; J. J. Stafford, S. S.; F. Gardiner, J. S.; B. Hicks, tyler. The lodge holds regular meetings, semi-monthly (second and fourth Saturdays of each month) in Odd Fellow's Hall, on First street. The lodge at present consists of twenty-two members composed of some of the best citizens of Hamlin and vicinity. The members passed and raised were ten in number. The number demitted was three, and the same number of deaths have occurred among the members of the lodge since its organization. The officers at present are: W. E. Moore, W. M.; J. J. Stafford, S. W.; John Weitner, J. W.; William Smith, Secty.; Peter Pfeiffer, Treas.; A. R. Smith, S. D.; A. Nitsche, J. D.; C. Evans, S. S.; A. Watts, J. S. and B. Ellis, tyler.

Hamlin Lodge, No. 151, I. O. of O. F., was instituted and a dispensation granted therefor by the Grand Lodge of the State January 21, 8179, and chartered October 15 of the same year. The following were the charter members of this lodge: Frank M. Unkefer, Amos R. Smith, P. K. Fisher, Josiah Beam, Samuel Slater, John Slater, George H. Well, William B. Baker and William A. Murray. The first officers elected were: Frank M. Unkefer, N. G.; Josiah Beam, V. G.; P. K. Fisher, R. S.; A. R. Smith, P. S., and Wm. A. Murray, Treas. The lodge holds regular meetings in the handsome and elegantly furnished hall on First street every Monday evening. The hall, a convenient frame structure was erected in 1880, and cost with furniture, etc., about $1,500. The hall and furniture is owned by the lodge and what is still better has not a dollar's incumbrance on it. Few lodges, if any, in the State can vie with Hamlin Lodge in this respect. Hamlin Lodge, No. 185, A., F & A. M., also use this hall as a place of meeting. The present officers of Hamlin Lodge No. 154, are: D. W. Simmons, N. G.; Samuel Slater, V. G.; E. T. Maury, R. S.; Nathaniel Salter, P. S., and John C. McGee, Treas. The membership of the lodge is forty-two. The past grands of this lodge are: Frank M. Unkefer, Josiah Beam, P. K. Fisher, J. W. Kelsey, A. R. Smith, J. C. Watson and William B. Baker.


O. M. BACKUS, teacher, Hamlin, is the son of Dr. James H. And Louisa Backus, natives of Maine, and was born in Mason, Warren Co., Ohio, April 17, 1846, and lived in his native State until 1848, when his parents removed to New Castle, Ind., where they resided until 1850. About this time his father's health giving way, he started with a large company of immigrants from Ohio and Indiana to California, with the hope that the journey across the plains might restore a once vigorous constitution to its pristine state, the family meantime returning to Ohio to await his return. At Fort Laramie, the last letter ever received by his family, was mailed by Dr. Backus. Nothing further was ever heard of him by his sorrowing family except that the train divided at Fort Laramie and that the division the doctor went with had not been heard from and was supposed to have been lost or annihilated by the savages of the plains. Should any one who chances to read this sketch be cognizant of the fate of Dr. Backus, they will confer a great favor by sending the particulars to his son at Hamlin, Brown Co., Kan. In the spring of 1859, Mrs. Louisa Backus, having given up all hopes of ever seeing her husband again, removed with her family to Kansas, locating on a farm in Doniphan County, eight miles southwest of Troy. She taught the first public school in District No. 8, in this county and was an educator of intelligence, education and mental strength and had few equals among the teachers of Doniphan County. The family resided in this county until 1863, and then removed to the city of Atchison, where young O. M. attended school and worked in the Atchison Free Press office. In 1865 the family returned to their farm in Doniphan County, where Mr. Backus resided until the fall of 1880, and then removed to Hamlin, Brown County, where he has resided since. Mr. Backus received his early education in the public and graded schools of Doniphan County, and the city of Atchison, completing his course at the National Normal School at Lebanon, Ohio. He commenced teaching in 1867, in Doniphan County, where he was for awhile principal of the Severanse (sic) Graded School. He taught altogether four years in this county and is now engaged in teaching a ten months' term in District No. 31, Brown County. He is a teacher of fine reputation, ranks among the best in the county, and always commands a good salary. He is a member of the Christian Church at Hamlin and also of Hamlin Lodge, No. 154, I. O. O. F. and of Hamlin Lodge, I. O. G. T. He was Clerk of School District No. 8, Doniphan County, two terms. He was married in the fall of 1880, in Hamlin, to Miss Alice C. Murray, a native of Pennsylvania. They have two children, whose names are - Kiah J. And O. C.

ELIAS BERKLEY, farmer and stock raiser, Section 17, Township 1, Range 16, P. O. Hamlin, was born in Somerset County, Pa., October 1, 1829, and lived in his native State until 1865, when he removed to Lee County, Ill., where he resided until February, 1872, when he became a resident of Kansas, locating on his farm in Hamlin Township, Brown County, where he has resided since. He is a member of the German Baptist Church. He has been a member of the Board of School District No. 63, seven years in succession, and Trustee of Hamlin Township, two terms. He was married in 1851, in Somerset County, Pa., to Miss Annie Miller, a native of Pennsylvania. They have eleven children living: - Cyrus M., (married to Miss Mary Stephens, a native of Kansas); Gillian F., (married to Miss Emma Speicher, a native of Pennsylvania); Henrietta, (married to Irvin Blanchard, a native of Vermont); Annie, (married to N. P. Eglin, a native of New York); James Harvey, William Grant, Orpha, Josie, Minerva, Charles W. and Roscoe C. Mr. Berkley owns a choice upland farm of 480 acres. It is all enclosed; is in high state of cultivation, and is admirably watered by wells, cisterns, springs, and Berkley's branch of Pony Creek, which flows in a northwesterly direction through the farm. The orchard covers three acres, and contains 100 apple, 400 peach, and a number of plum and cherry trees. North and west of the dwelling is a fine grove of native timber which covers two acres. The improvements are first-class, and consist of a comfortable and cosy frame cottage, large frame barn, 34x46, granaries, corn-cribs, smoke house, stock sheds and lots, etc. Mr. Berkley grows 1,000 to 1,500 bushels of small grain, 10,000 to 15,000 bushels of corn; cuts 25 to 40 acres of hay, yearly; pastures his cattle on his own meadows; feeds two car load of cattle; keeps 80 head of fine grade cattle; 100 to 125 hogs, and 10 head of horses. Mr. Berkley is one of Brown's representative farmers. He is an intelligent, influential and honored citizen; possesses great tenacity of purpose and indomitable energy; great kindness of heart, and has a remarkable personal popularity among all classes.

W. R. BURNHAM, agent and operator Union Pacific R. R., St. Joe and Western division, Hamlin, is the son of Dr. W. S. and Mrs. Ann Burnham. His father is an eminent physician, who formerly practiced extensively in Illinois and Wisconsin; but having acquired a competency, and on account of his age, has now retired from the practice of his profession. He now resides in Richland Centre, Richland Co., Wis., where his son, W. R. was born, September 10, 1864, receiving his early education in the graded schools of his native city. Here, too, Mr. B. and several of his comrades learned telegraphy; having, with unusual enterprise for youths of their age, erected a private telegraph line of their own. Mr. B. and one of his comrades, were, however, the only two who availed themselves of the knowledge obtained, and who have since followed their profession. Mr. Burnham lived in his native State until his sixteenth year, when he paid a visit to his brother, E. H. Burnham, the popular agent and operator at Alexandria, Neb., and while there received an appointment as operator at the station at Seneca, Nemaha Co., Kas., which position he held for four months. He was then advanced to Hastings, Neb., and has held positions continuously since on the U. P. R. R., at various points on the road. He has but lately been promoted to the station at Hamlin, where he is the agent and operator. He possesses the confidence of his superiors on the road. He is an efficient and courteous agent, and is well like by all with whom he comes in contact.

C. P. CARY, principal of Hamlin public schools, was born in Marshall, Highland Co., Ohio, January 28, 1856, and lived in his native State until his twenty-fourth year, and then became a resident of Kansas, locating at White Cloud, where he resided one year, and was engaged in teaching. From White Cloud he removed to Robinson, where he resided one year, and had charge of the public schools in this town. From Robinson he removed to Hamlin, where he has charge of the public schools, and where he has resided since. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. C. Was educated at the Ohio Central Normal School, at Worthington, Ohio, where he graduated as a member of the Scientific Class in 1878, and in the classical course in 1880. He has been engaged in teaching since the age of sixteen, and continued in this profession, after his graduation, immediately thereafter, for a year holding the position of Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Latin, at the Ohio Central Normal School. He is one of the Assistant Examiners for Brown County. Prof. Cary is an educator of rare merit, thorough in discipline, and a man of fine attainments and culture. He was married at White cloud, May 30, 1882, to Miss Myra Pugsley, a daughter of the eminent and successful physician and surgeon, Dr. E. G. Pugsley, of White Cloud. Mrs. Cary was born at St. Paul, Minn., and ably assists her husband in the schools of Hamlin, of which she is vice-principal. She has had an experience of four years in teaching in the public schools of White Cloud, in Dakota Territory, near Castleton, and was for a time teacher of German in the Ohio Central Normal School, her Alma Mater.

JOSEPH W. DENDURENT, dealer in farm machinery, wagons, buggies, pumps, and windmills, Hamlin and Morrill, Kan., P. O. Hamlin. Mr. D. is the son of Joseph and Sarah Dendurent, old pioneers of Kansas. His father was born in St. John's, Canada, and in his twentieth year entered the employ of the Hudson's Bay Fur Company, and continued in the employ of this company for a number of years. He subsequently resided in various States and Territories of the United States, and in the fall of 1857, became a resident of Kansas, locating at Valley Falls. In 1878, the family removed to Hamlin, Brown County, where they have ever since resided. Mr. Dendurent, Sr., relates many graphic tales of the early days of Kansas and the great Northwest. Mr. Joseph W. Dendurent was born in Nemaha County, Neb. March 31, 1856, and came to Hamlin with his father's family, where he has continued to reside. He is a member of the Presbyterian Church. He was married in Madison County, Iowa, December 21, 1881, to Miss Ellen B. Lewis, a native of Iowa. They have one child, a daughter - Sarah Etta. Mr. Dendurent is doing a large flourishing trade in farm machinery, wagons, buggies, etc., both at Hamlin and in Morrill, where he has established a branch of his house under the able superintendence of T. P. Gordon. Mr D. handles Osborn's Self-Binders, the Moline, Gordon City and Canton plows. Deere's cultivators and Moline and Fish Brothers' wagons, and is one of the intelligent, energetic, and promising young business men of Brown.

THOMAS EGLIN, farmer and stock raiser, Section 8, Township 1, Range 16, P. O. Hamlin was born in Parsippany, N. J., June 7, 1822, but left his native State at an early age with his mother, his father having died some time previously, removing to Montgomery County, N. Y., where Mr. Eglin resided until his twenty-ninth year, and then removed to Newark, N. J., where he resided two years. Thence he removed to Kane County, Ill., where he resided until July, 1865, when he became a resident of Kansas, locating on his farm in Hamlin Township, Brown County, where he has resided since. He is a member of the Baptist Church of Sabetha. He was a member of the Board of School District No. 15, Brown County, for seven years. He was married in Montgomery County, N. Y., in 1851, to Miss Cordella Quick, a native of New York. They have one child, a son, N. Pierson. They also have an adopted daughter, Kate. Mr. E. has a choice upland farm of 280 acres. It is all enclosed, and in a good state of cultivation, and has a splendid supply of water, consisting of wells, springs and Rocky Branch, which flows northerly through the farm. There is a fine orchard on this property, which covers six acres, and contains 300 apple, fifty peach, and twenty-five cherry trees. It is also supplied with small fruits of various kinds. North of the dwelling is a magnificent grove of native timber, which covers six acres, and contains a great number of cottonwood, elm, box cider and soft maple trees. The improvements are first-class, consisting of an elegant seven-room stone house, frame stock stable, large hog house, granaries, corn cribs, stock sheds and lots, etc. On a portion of the farm is a fine quarry of superior building stone. Mr. E. grows 1,000 bushels of small grain, 2,5000 bushels of corn; cuts ten acres of hay; feeds a car load of cattle; keeps thirty head of stock cattle, forty to fifty stock hogs, and seven head of horses. Mr. E. is a thrifty and industrious farmer, a prominent and useful citizen, and a good neighbor.

ROBERT GASTON, farmer and stock raiser, Section 33, Township 1, Range 16, P. O. Hamlin, was born in the North of Ireland, October 13, 1835, and lived in his native country but a short time, when his parents emigrated to America, and located in Washington County, Pa., where Mr. G. lived until his nineteenth year, and then removed to Mercer County, Ill., where he was engaged in farming, and where he resided a year and a half. Thence he removed to Sioux City, Iowa, where he resided six months, and from there, on the eleventh day of June, 1857, came to Kansas, locating on his farm in Hamlin Township, Brown county, where he has resided since. He is a member of the Congregational Church and of Hiawatha Post, No. 130, G. A. R. He has been Treasurer of Hamlin Township three years. He participated in the war of the Rebellion as a member of Company A, Seventh Regiment Kansas Cavalry, and enlisted August 31, 1861, at Fort Leavenworth. In a skirmish at Holly Springs, Mr. Gaston was twice severely wounded, and was discharged on this account at Memphis, Tenn., February 6, 1863. Subsequently he re-enlisted in the same company and regiment at Fort Leavenworth, March 16, 1864, and was finally discharged from the United States service, September 9, 1865, at Fort Leavenworth. He took part in the battles of Corinth, Tupelo, Little Blue, Iuka, Independence, Mo., the second battle of the Little Blue, and other minor engagements and skirmishes. He was married April 3, 1866, in Brown County, to Miss Elvira L. Smith, a native of Maine. They have six children, whose names are - Carrie E., Egbert O., Robert Elmer, Mattie L. John F. And Don C. Mr. Gaston has a fine upland farm of 320 acres, four acres of which is in town lots. The farm is all enclosed, and in a good state of cultivation; is well supplied with water by means of living water, Terrapin Creek flowing through the southeast portion of his farm. The orchard is young and thrifty, and contains 150 bearing apple, 400 peach, and a few pair (sic) and cherry trees. There is also an abundance of small fruits on the place. The improvements are first-class in every particular, and consist in part of a commodious frame residence, containing eight rooms; frame barn, 24x40 feet; granary, corn cribs, wagon sheds, etc. Mr. S. raises from 500 to 700 bushels of wheat, 150 to 250 bushels of rye, 300 bushels of oats, and 3,500 bushels of corn yearly. Keeps fifty head of grade cattle, sixty to seventy-five head of stock hogs, and seven head of horses and mules.

ELI A. GROVER, farmer, Section 34, P. O. Hamlin, was originally from the State of Maine, born in Oxford County, September 30, 1842. When ten years of age his parents removed to LaSalle County, Ill., where he made his home and worked on a farm until 1862. He then volunteered with the Eight-eighth Illinois Infantry, Company B, and took an active part in all the principal engagements of his regiment, until the close of the Rebellion. In 1865 he came to Kansas, to join his father, J. Grover, who had preceded him two years, and who died in 1874. Eli A. has since been engaged at farming, and now owns eighty acres of good farming land. He was married in May, 1872, to Miss Carrie Parker. Mr. Grover's mother is still living.

[TOC] [part 27] [part 25] [Cutler's History]