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


[TOC] [part 4] [part 2] [Cutler's History]



The fire department of Hiawatha was organized in 1874, with a membership of thirty, and H. M. Waller as Chief. After running in this form till 1876, Mr. Waller resigned and E. Allendorf took charge of the department, where his name still appears as Chief. At the time of the organization, in 1874, a truck, with hooks and ladders, was purchased. In 1876, a Babcock Fire Extinguisher was added to the apparatus. In 1877 the hook and ladder truck was repaired and new ladders procured. The apparatus is placed in a building west of the new National Bank Block. The department meets on the first Monday of each month.

The city has but one cistern for fire purposes. This is located on the northeast corner of the square, and is supplied by a well close to it, water being raised by a wind-mill. It is proposed to place two more fire cisterns at the northwest and southwest corners of the square, where, owing to the slope of the land, they could readily be filled from the conduits of the court house roof.

On Thursday, November 30, 1871, The most destructive fire which has ever visited the city broke out in the drug store of Mitchell & Zehrung, on the east side of the Public Square. The flames were discovered about 2 A. M., and had made such headway as to preclude all idea of saving the building. Attention was then turned to saving the household effects of Mr. Mitchell, the senior partner of the firm, who occupied the upper story as a tenement. After various courageous attempts, the firemen were beaten off by the dense smoke and suffocating fumes from the burning drugs, which added, by constant explosions, to the danger of the situation. Abandoning their apparently futile work on the drug store, the citizens turned to the adjoining structures, which were all of wood and consequently in imminent danger. On the north was a residence, but as it was about twenty feet from the burning building, and the wind blew fiercely from that quarter, it was comparatively safe. On the south the boot and shoe store of J. B. Butterfield, the boot and shoe shop of F. Zimmerman, and the hardware store of A. M. Blakesly. These were all of wood and with the inadequate means at hand it was manifestly impossible to save them. Attention was then turned to the removal of their contents, and the stock of the two nearest merchants made a hasty exit. In the third building was a large stock of shelf and heavy hardware and a number of stoves which, spite of incessant labor, could not be rescued. Next to the south stood the jewelry store of Mr. T. B. Dickason, and the fine residence of Mr. I. Boker. To save the latter it was decided to tear down the jewelry store, and having removed all the stock, the firemen made short work of the building, which was a small one. The removal of this connecting link checked the advance of the fire, and it was from that time readily managed.

The total loss by this fire was about $12,000. Of this Mitchell & Zimmerman lost $3,000 - well insured; Butterfield, $1,000; Zimmerman, $400 or $500; Blakesley, about $6,000 and Dickason about $500.

On Sunday morning, October 5, 1879, watchman Huff, in making his two oclock round, discovered fire in the upper part of the Hiawatha House. This hotel, which was built nearly twenty-two years before, was in 1879 of an extremely composite order of architecture. The older portion of this was of brick, but a large frame addition had been made to it, and it was on the upper floor of this part that flames were discovered. A large crowd of citizens turned out in response to the flames; but though burning slowly, the house was evidently doomed. Attention was then given to rescuing as much as possible of the furniture of the house and the personal property of its inmates. Mr. Ellis T. Carey, who was running the hotel was fully insured. The hotel proper was also insured to the amount of $2,000, which nearly offset the loss. The destruction of this hotel was a loss to the town for the time only, the erection of its namesake more than compensating for any divergence of trade through lack of hotel facilities.


One of the most exciting events that has occurred in the history of Hiawatha was the suppression of the Hiawatha Club. In 1875 the City Council denied all applications for licenses to open saloons or drinking places of any description. For a time this suddenly enforced prohibition was effectual. Sundry bibulous individuals, under the pressure of uneasy cravings for spirituous elevation, may have experienced symptoms calling for the aid of the druggist, and been granted relief; but there is no record of their maneuvers. In October, however, a new factor appeared upon the scene, in the formation of the Hiawatha Club. There was no doubt of the aim of this organization, but it kept strictly in accordance with its avowed plan, the city authorities could take no legal cognizance of its workings. It was indubitably a clever scheme. The object of the circular gotten out by the club and numerously signed by the people of the neighborhood was as follows: We the undersigned hereby agree to and with each other to form and arrange a club for the purpose of social enjoyment, said club to have its rooms in the city of Hiawatha and to be known as the Hiawatha Club. Dated this seventh day of October, 1875.

On the same date F. W. Rohl and H. Stauff opened the club rooms in a building owned by J. W. Pottenger and located on lot ninety-one, Oregon street. Business was very brisk from the day of opening, and the crowd exchanging pasteboard checks for the irrigating fluid was constantly renewed. To all appearance the purchase of beer and whisky checks was all that was needed to acquire membership. On October 13th the club, as additional safeguard against the enforcement of the prohibitory law, adopted a regular constitution and by-laws, and elected a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, who, with five trustees formed the board of managers. Provision was also made for annual elections and monthly meetings, and also for the due proposal of persons desiring membership, and the payment of a small entrance fee. To overcome any delay in refreshing the tired of other places who might be in need of liquid support, it was added that any member may invite gentlemen to the rooms of the association for a single day on registering his own name with that of the visitor in a book kept for the purpose.

At this meeting several rules for the conduct of the club were adopted, among them one reading: This house shall be open from nine oclock in the morning, daily, for the reception of members, and close at twelve oclock (midnight). This did not involve the enforced departure of members of the club then in the house.

Two days later Mayor H. J. Aten issued an order for the closing of the club room for two days, ending on Saturday, October 16th, at midnight. This order was at once enforced by City Marshal G. T. Woodmansee. On the following Monday, however, the Hiawatha club was again in full blast, and for two days the flow of beer and the ardent was unchecked. On the 20th the Marshal, by order of the Mayor, made a second attempt to close the club rooms, but was met by Rohl and Stauff and a delegation of members and unceremoniously hustled into the street. Nothing daunted, the preserver of the peace made at brief intervals other fruitless efforts to gain possession of the rooms, and finally called to his aid Thomas McLaughlin, J. K. Klinefelter and G. E. Selleg, with whom he succeeded in bursting the door and ousting the club party. The doors were then locked and the posse separated. Soon after the club party proceeded to the office of W. J. Richardson and procured a warrant for the arrest of the City Marshal, G. T. Woodmansee, and his assistants, on a charge of riot. They then returned to the club room, broke in and resumed business. Matters were getting serious and the feeling of the citizens was at fever heat when the suit brought by Rohl on behalf of the club was called before W. J. Richardson, Justice of the Peace. The Marshal and his party were defended by the City Attorney, A. R. May, Ira J. Lacock and C. E. Berry; the State appearing by the county attorney and Hon. James Faloon. A verdict for the defendants was rendered and the cost of suit taxed upon the plaintiffs.

These proceedings had brought considerable odium upon the club, and the better portion of the citizens who had at first patronized it, began to withdraw. Rohl & Stauff, however, continued the sale of beer and whisky and the place became the scene of the most disgusting debauches. This went on until November 18th, when the worthy pair who ran the business were arrested for violation of the city statute in regard to selling liquors. Convicted on the 22d before J. P. Mulhullen, the defendants appealed to the District Court and continued business. Again arrested on the 27th and tried on December 2, Rohl and Stauff pursued the same course. On December 14 the Mayor issued a writ to the City Marshal ordering the abatement of this nuisance. This was the signal for the fiercest battle of this notorious contest. The Marshal armed with the writ of abatement presented himself at the club room, only to be met by the proprietors with drawn revolvers, and the warning that an attempt to interfere with their business would have fatal results. Yielding to superior force the Marshal retreated and made preparations to meet force with force. Raising a posse of twenty men he again appeared at the club room and made a forcible entry early on Christmas morning, 1875, capturing the books and papers of the society, destroying all the stock, and barricading the doors of the room with billiard tables and furniture, the posse went into camp. Guards were placed at the outside of the building, and within the room, and for nearly two weeks the conquerors held the captured citadel. A large part of the members of the club and personal friends of Rohl and Stauff, lived in the country, at some distance from Hiawatha, and when the news of the capture of the club room spread, gathered in a large crowd near the building. No attempt was made to retake it, however, though there was much loud talking, and sanguinary threats were made.

This was practically the end of the business of the Hiawatha club. Petitions and counter petitions, and actions for ejectment were indulged in by various parties, and numerous and uninteresting processes gone through, with the final result of the surrender of Rohl and Stauff and their confession of inability to pay their fines. Confined in the city calaboose, the prisoners were one night rescued by their friends, but they were shortly after returned. Shortly after (April, 1876), a compromise was effected through the efforts of two pastors of the city, Rohl & Stauff being bankrupt.

This ended the practical discussion of the temperance question in Hiawatha and it has never been revived.


The First Methodist Episcopal Church, was not the only first Methodist Church in the city and county, but the first church of any denomination. In 1857, Hiawatha formed part of the White Cloud and Sabetha Mission, which was under Rev. W. E. Butt, presiding elder. In the following year Rev. J. Shaw was appointed presiding elder, and a year later Rev. James Lawrence became preacher in charge of the work on this circuit. He was followed in 1860, by Rev. Mr. Green, and in 1861, by L. D. Price, and William Buffington, the latter of whom continued his work through 1862. O. H. Mitchell served in 1863 and in 1864, the Hiawatha class was organized by L. D. Price, presiding elder, and J. Shaw preacher in charge. In 1865, E. S. Arrington supplied the church and through his efforts and those of the presiding elder, D. P. Mitchell, a subscription for the purpose of building a church edifice was set in circulation. This resulted in securing $1,135, which was increased the following year by $791 secured by the earnest efforts of Rev. J. M. Titcomb, the preacher of the year. Encouraged by so favorable a financial showing, the society commenced work on the building and the corner stone was laid July 4, 1866, by Rev. W. K. Mitchell of Atchison. The same year the walls were raised and building was then stopped, as $1,800 above the amount subscribed had been expended and the society were unwilling to run further in debt. In April, 1867, work was resumed on the building, under the agreement that the indebtedness of the society should not be increased. At the same time an additional subscription of $200 was secured. In September, 1868, the church extension society donated $68.65 and in March of the following year $221. During this time the Ladies Mite Society donated various sums aggregating $300. The structure was completed late in 1868, and dedicated on December 13th, by Rev. A. B. Leonard. At this time an effort to raise the entire church debt, then amounting to $1,800 was made and $50 more than that sum subscribed. It was found however that interest to the amount of $300 had accrued and this was taken care of by the trustees.

Slightly prior to this time the Hiawatha class numbered (1867) eleven members and the preacher in charge, Rev. J. A. Simpson, supplied also Padonia, Claytonville, Carson, Terrapin and Robinson.

In 1869-70, Rev. P. M. Buck, now a missionary in India, was in charge of the church. He was followed by Rev. Mr. Dudley, September, 1870 to March 1871. Revs. J. Amos and Blackstock, who worked together in 1871; J. P. Shackleford, in 1872-73; S. P. Jacobs, in 1873-75; C. L. Shackleford, in 1875-77; J. A. Simpson, in 1877-79; William Friend, in 1879-82; W. H. Underwood, in 1882. During 1873, the Womens Foreign Missionary Society, of Hiawatha, was organized and in 1877, during the pastorate of C. L. Shackleford, $1,200 was raised and in June of that year, the entire debt removed.

In 1878, it was decided to build a parsonage and almost the entire amount necessary was subscribed. The building was begun in October, and finished at a cost of $1,200 on January 1, 1879. The society now holds $7,000 worth of property, free of debt. The membership is 241.

A Sabbath school was organized at an early day and now has twenty-two teachers and 244 scholars. It is under the superintendence of T. J. Wagstaff.

The First Baptist Church of Hiawatha was organized on August 18, 1860, by Rev. H. S. Tibbits assisted by Rev. P. Frink, and Rev. E. Alward. At the time of organization the society numbered but fifteen, but it has grown finely during the twenty eventful years of its existence, and now has enrolled 150 members. The pastors who have held successive charge are: H. S. Tibbits, Helson Alvord, A. F. Willard, G. Gates, A. Alward, George Mitchell, W. R. Connelly and J. F. Howard, who is the present incumbent. A church edifice was erected in 1871, at a cost of $3,100. It stands on Eighth street, near Utah.

The Sabbath school was organized in 1871, with a membership of thirty and was under the superintendence of William Scull. At the present time its membership has increased to 125. It is under the superintendence of M. S. Smalley.

The First Congregational Church of Hiawatha, was organized June 5, 1869, with a membership of fifteen, under the charge of Rev. G. A. Hoyt, who remained connected with the society until his death, in May, 1870. On May 1, 1870, Rev. D. W. Comstock was installed as Pastor and held the position until September 9, 1871, when he was succeeded by Rev. H. P. Robinson. Rev. J. D. Liggett began his pastorate on August 12, 1873, and retired nearly five years after, when, on May 22, 1878, Rev. George W. Skinner became Pastor. Rev. J. H. Richardson, the present Pastor, was installed August 31, 1880. A church building was begun in 1873, and dedicated in January of the following year, but was not at that time fully completed. The total cost of this structure was $4,000.

A Sabbath school was organized on February 22, 1874, with E. N. Knapp as superintendent. Mr. Knapp was followed by Major E. N. Morrill, who now holds the position. An active and successful school of over 200 is now in regular attendance.

The First Presbyterian Church of Hiawatha, was organized on April 10, 1870, by F. E. Sheldon, who, while stationed at Troy, Doniphan County, preached once in six weeks at Hiawatha for more than two years, ending his labors at this point on July 7, 1872. At the commencement of this work the membership of the society was five: Mrs. Jane Pricer, Mrs. Susan M. Adams, Eugene Adams, Edward C. Work and William B. Brown. In 1872 it had crept to seven, and a year later to thirty-nine. Mr. Sheldon was followed by Revs. S. T. Davis, S. F. Farmer, S. T. Davis, D. R. Todd, S. F. Farmersic and S. G. Strange, who still holds the pastoral office.

The church edifice which since its erection in 1873, has been the constant care of the society is 30X40 feet on the ground floor, and cost as stated in the records, $2,938. The first services held in this building took place on August 17, 1873, and shortly after the dedicatory services were held. Original members of the little band that by zealous work achieved the task of building this church, and dedicating it, free of debt, to the service of God, may well feel proud of their record. The society now has enrolled 110 members and is in an active condition.

A Sabbath school was established in September, 1872, but the earliest record bears date nearly a year later and it is supposed that the record of the first year was lost. It is known that W. S. Brown was the first superintendent and that John E. Moon was the first secretary. In 1873 the school had an average attendance of thirty-two scholars, and had as teachers four gentlemen and two ladies. The school now numbers seventy, and has nine teachers. Its officers are W. S. Brown, superintendent; S. A. Fulton, assistant; Mrs. G. T. Pricer, secretary and Mrs. D. M. Reed, treasurer.

The African Methodist Church, of Hiawatha, was organized by Rev. Robert Kay, in 1872. Following the custom of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the service at this point has been conducted by new preachers yearly. The list of incumbents is as follows: F. M. Dale, 1873; J. Myers, 1874; J. B. Wallace, 1875; C. H. Brown, 1876; Mr. Carr, 1877; I. W. Reed, 1877; A. H. Daniels, 1878; William Webb, 1879-80-81; J. H. Walton, 1882. The society has a church building in the southeast part of the town, in which services are held each Sabbath. This structure, which is twenty by thirty feet, was erected at a cost of four hundred dollars.

The Christian Church, was started in the spring of 1876, by Rev. James McGuire, who came to Hiawatha, and, although located at Padoula, preached occasionally at the former point in the old court house. His last sermon was delivered in the Presbyterian Church, on the last Sabbath of March, 1877. Rev. J. F. Berry preached occasionally during 1877, a verbal contract was made for the old stone schoolhouse, now owned by the German Reformed Church. Services were held in this place until about the close of the year, when a misunderstanding having arisen between the school board and the church society, the place of worship was moved to a room occupied for court purpose, in the Knapp Building, north of the public square. On April 14, 1878, the society was organized by J. F. Berry, assisted by Elder A. Williams, of Iowa, and had membership of twenty-six. On May 16, 1878, lots 81 and 83, on Kickapoo street, were purchased at an outlay of three hundred and twenty-five dollars, and a building committee, consisting of J. E. Davis, H. M. Waller, W. B. Patrick, R. J. Young and L. H. Eddy, was appointed. Upon the resignation of two members of this committee shortly afterward, A. H. Thomas, and P. W. Hull were appointed to take their places. Money for building purposes was pledged to the amount of two thousand dollars, and subscriptions were made due August 13, 1878. Without waiting for the maturing of the subscriptions, work was begun on the building, and by August, the foundations were completed. From this time the propress sic of the work was very rapid, and on October 19, when it burned, the work on which two thousand five hundred dollars had been expended, was nearly complete. To a numerically weak society this loss was a very serious one, yet on the Monday, October 21, following the fire, the building committee met and devised means for rebuilding. Work was begun at once, and on the anniversary of the day which saw the destruction of the first, the second structure was dedicated. The expense of this latter building was two thousand dollars. The present membership of the church is sixty-two, and the total enrollment from the beginning, ninety. Pastors who followed Mr. Berry have been J. T. Williams. C. H. Pierce, Professor O. C. Hill and W. D. Swain, who still is in charge of the church. The Sabbath school of this society was organized on April 4, 1880, with Prof. R. S. Iles(sic) as superintendent, and Miss Ida Waller as secretary. The first enrollment numbered nearly fifty. Mr. A. H. Thomas succeeded Prof. Isles after one year, and still holds the position. The present officers of the school beside the superintendent, are W. D. Swain, assistant, Miss Lizzie Punchon, secretary. The attendance has increased to fifty-seven.

The United Presbyterian Church of Hiawatha was organized on October 28, 1876, with a membership of seven. This work was by Rev. Marion Morrison, a missionary of the Presbyterian Home Missionary Society. Rev. D. M. Galvin supplied the society at this point for eighteen months. To him succeeded Rev. J. A. McCalmont, who preached for three months and was followed by Rev. M. M. Brown. Mr. Brown was relieved after six months labor and in July, 1879, Rev. J. P. Black was settled as stated supply. In this position Mr. Black labored with so much zeal and success as to considerably increase the church membership and in April, 1881, was duly installed as Paster.(sic) The society now numbers fifty-two and has services each Sabbath in the New Hall in Thomas Block. A project is now on foot to secure building lots and erect a church. A Sabbath school was organized in April, 1880, under the superintendence of C. M. Williamson, who held the office one year and then yielded to William Bachelder who still holds it. Beginning with an attendance of twenty the school has risen to an average of forty-six.

The First German Reformed Church of Hiawatha was organized in 1872, Rev. John Beck, Pastor. In 1869 there had been a church organized called the German Evangelical Church, and for a number of years the two little congregations struggled along, neither of them being able to build a church or maintain a Pastor. In the fall of 1876 the two churches united, reorganized and employed Rev. E. Richards as Pastor until September, 1877, when the church called Rev. Abraham Balliger, who has since that time been Pastor. At this time the society numbered thirty-eight. Services were held in the county courthouse, until March, 1878, when the old school building in the northeast part of town was purchased and fitted up for church purposes. At the time it was sold to the society the house was in very poor repair and mainly on this account was disposed of for $1,200. Immediately on its acquisition the upper portion was fitted with seats and a pulpit and nearly finished, and the lower converted into a parsonage. It is now valued at $3,000. the society now has a membership of sixty and has services every second Sabbath. P> A Sabbath school was organized in January, 1878, under the superintendence of Mr. H. Isley, who held the office until 1880 when he removed from the town and was succeeded by Mr. F. Lemly. the school which started with an enrollment of forty has still about the same average attendance.

The Evangelical Church, or perhaps more properly, the Evangelical Association of Hiawatha was organized in April, 1881, under Rev. Philip Fricker, who remained its Pastor for one year and was followed by Leon C. Schnacke, the present incumbent. At the time of organization the society numbered fifteen and in the year of its life has nearly doubled, having now more than twenty-five members. A church was begun in the summer of 1881, shortly after the formation of the society, and completed the same year at a cost of $2,300. Its dimensions are thirty-two by fifty-two feet and its seating capacity 400.

A parsonage eighteen by twenty-four feet and two stories in height has been contracted for and will be erected during 1882 on the lot adjoining the church. It will cost about $1,000.

A Sabbath school was organized on April 10, 1882, and has an attendance of nearly eighty scholars. It is under the superintendence of J. M. Lapley.

[TOC] [part 4] [part 2] [Cutler's History]