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


[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]


The railway history of any county on the broad surface of Kansas is a record of trials and tribulations, of hard struggles to secure the co-operation of settlers in necessary expenditures, of retreat from the field of the companies for which so much had been done, of final success and the arrival of the iron bands which unite the world. The first railway to solicit the aid of this county was the Kansas-Nebraska, which proposed to build across the county in consideration of the subscription of $150,000 to the stock of the railway company and the issuing of an equal amount of the bonds of the county. This proposition was carried by a vote of 1,187 to 811, but the panic of 1873 coming on, the building of the road was deferred and finally abandoned. On May 18, 1872, the question of voting bonds to the amount of $150,000 to the Fort Scott, Humboldt & Western Railway was put to vote and decided in the negative by a vote of 1,037 to 1,240. The next proposal was voted upon July 13, 1872, and lost by a vote of 189 to 1,206. This was for taking stock in the road voluminously spread on the records as the Eureka, Douglass & Santa Fe, Walnut Valley, Kansas Nebraska Railway. At the same time the Ft. Scott, Humboldt & Western Kansas Railway was treated to a dose of cold water - 366 votes being cast in its favor and 1,058 against its proposition. In April, 1876, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company proposed to build a road from Cedar Point on the main line down the Walnut Valley to El Dorado and ultimately to and beyond the south line of the county. The proposal of the company was for a cash bonus of $3,000 per mile, no exchange of bonds and stock being asked. While this proposition was being agitated, the citizens of Florence were working hard to have their town made the initial point. It soon became evident that a road would be built to El Dorado from the main line under some conditions, and in February, 1877, bonds aggregating $99,500 were voted to the El Dorado & Walnut Valley Road. Work was at once begun and the track completed to El Dorado at 6:27 P. M. on July 31, 1877. On September 4, an excursion train was run from Topeka and the citizens of El Dorado given a free trip to Florence and return. A grand celebration was held in the grove. Gov. Anthony was present and made a brief speech which was followed by many others, after which the joy of the crowd overflowed in a general jubilee that will be long remembered.

About this time the Kansas City, Burlington & Southwestern Railway and telegraph line made overtures for aid to the amount of not over $4,000 per mile in running an east and west road. This proposition was favorably considered by a vote of 322 to 128 in the townships interested, but the matter stopped there and the road was never built.

On February 21, 1880, the townships of Douglass and Walnut voted aid to the St. Louis, Wichita & Western Railway, but the road was never built.

We now come to the second successful railway project which has affected Butler's interests. As early as 1879, the St. Louis, Ft. Scott & Wichita Railway began the work which finally led to the completion of an east and west road, although bonds were not voted until more than a year later. The road passes through two townships east of El Dorado City, Rosalia and Prospect. From these it receives $10,000 and $18,000 in bonds respectively. El Dorado Township gives $25,000, Towanda $13,500 and Benton $11,000. The payment of the bonds in the two last named townships depends upon the completion of the road to the west line of the county by September 1, 1883. The bonds of the first three are already secured by the completion of the road to El Dorado.


On April 30, 1859, the Board of County Supervisors met at the house of G. T. Donaldson "for the purpose of establishing the offices of the county officers." The board, then consisting of P. G. Barrett, chairman, and G. T. Donaldson and I. S. White, after ruling that their annual meeting should be held at Chelsea Hall, decided that for the present the county officers should hold their offices at the residences. The only exception to this was the 'Clerk of Probate,' who was commanded to hold office at I. C. Lambdin's until further notice. At the next meeting, June 13, 1859, P. G. D. Morton was appointed County Auditor, the equivalent of county clerk. No record of a successor to Mr. Morton is found until the election of 1863, when M. Vaught was selected. Since that time county clerks have been elected as follows: A. J. Donahoo, 1865; A. H. Morehead (appointed August, 1867, and elected at November election of the same year); H. D. Kellogg (appointed April 6, 1868, and elected 1869); A. W. Stearus, 1870; J. Blivins, 1871; Vincent Brown, 1873-75-77; C. P. Strong, 1879-81.

The first County Treasurer was C. S. Lambdin, appointed September 19, 1859. He was followed by T. W. Satchel, 1863; H. Martin, 1865; (Mr. Martin was appointed in September, 1867, to serve from January 1, to July 1, 1868, but was re-elected in November, 1867); A. Ellis, 1869-71; Joseph Williams, 1873; E. B. Brainard, 1875-77; M. Bradley, 1879-81.

The first Probate Judge was J. C. Lambdin. He was followed by C. S. Lambdin; H. Martin, 1863; S. T. Howell, 1865; W. H. Thomas, 1866; Wm. H. Harrison, 1868; H. T. Sumner, 1870; J. C. Taylor, 1871; S. E. Black, 1871; W. S. Taylor, 1872; S. E. Black, 1874-76-78; E. D. Stratford, 1880-82.

The first Clerk of the District Court was Emmil. He was followed by W. W. Slayton, 1866; A. Morehead, 1867; A. L. Petrie, 1868; J. E. Buchanan (appointed), 1869; H. D. Kelley, 1869; I. C. Adams, 1870; H. M. Winger, 1871; M. D. Ellis, 1872; C. N. James, 1874-76-78-80; N. P. Mooney, 1882.

The first Register of Deeds was John R. Lambdin. He was followed by M. Vaught, 1863; A. H. Morehead, 1867; D. M. Bronson (appointed April 6) 1869; W. A. Sailee, 1870; D. L. Knowles, 1871-73-75; J. D. Porter, 1877; E. E. Harvey, 1879-81.

The records fail to show the election of a sheriff prior to 1863, when J. T. Goodall was elected. Dr. Lewellen was, however, in office in 1859. Mr. Goodall was followed by W. D. Shaw, 1865; James Thomas, 1867; A. A. Jackson, 1869; J. E. Anderson, 1871-73-75; F. M. Anderson, 1877; E. E. Harvey, 1879; W. H. Douglas, 1881.

In 1864 M. Vaught was appointed County Superintendent. He was followed by D. L. McCabe, 1866; H. D. Kellogg (appointed January 1, 1868); J. E. Buchanan, 1870; S. S. Robbards, 1872; John Blivins, 1874; Alvah Sheldon, 1876-78; J. W. Shively, 1880-82.

Representative from this county, at first one, but now two districts, have been; G. T. Donaldson, 1863; D. L. McCabe, 1865; S. N. Wood, 1866; G. T. Donaldson, 1867; T. R. Wilson, 1868; H. Small, 1869; T. H. Baker, 1870 (This election was also contested, and L. S. Friend, who had been declared elected, lost the seat); I. Mooney, 1871; T. H. Baker, 1872; H. D. Hill, 1873; J. L. Ferguson, 1874-75; M. A. Palmer and H. W. Beck, 1876; U. A. Albin and D. M. Bronson, 1878; G. A. Sears and H. D. Bill; 1880; F. W. Rash and J. H. Fullenweider, 1882.

On August 20, 1859, the first poll tax in the county was levied on all between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five. March 21, 1860, an election precinct to be known as Toronto was created at the house of Doctor Lewellen. Four years later (March 26, 1864) two additional voting precincts were created; El Dorado and Towanda. The first county order had been issued on January 19th of this year, and read as follows:

"State of Kansas, Butler Co., s. s., Jan. 19, 1864. To the Treasurer of Butler Co. Pay Jordan Mabe twenty dollars for services assessing said county.
H. G. Bronson, Chairman."
This order was endorsed by M. Vaught, county clerk, with the magic word 'Paid.'

Every county in the State, probably, has had its county seat fight, and we need do little more than present the records of the various elections in which the several struggles culminated. On May 21, 1864, the first election was held and El Dorado selected as the county seat (this was the old town), but on July 4 of that year, we learn from the record of the County Commissioners, that no building suitable for county offices had been put up on the town site, and the board resolved not to move there until suitable provision was made. In August, 1867, the question of removal came up again, Whitewater Junction having two votes; County Center, six; the southwest quarter of Section 4, and the northwest quarter of Section 9, Town 25, Range 6, 29, and El Dorado 50. The third election occurred on May 10, 1870, and gave Chelsea 256 and El Dorado 1,524 votes. This was followed in April, 1871, by the contest between Augusta and El Dorado, and the success of the latter by a count of 743 to 712. This settled the question, which has never since been agitated.

As will be seen, the County Commissioners and other officers were for some time without a proper place for transacting business. For some time Dunlevy's building was used, and most of the officers had their offices in their houses, or after a fashion, under their hats. In July, 1870, a strong effort was made to secure the issue of $25,000 in bonds, the proceeds to be used for county buildings. This proposal met with hearty opposition, and was voted down 239 to 550. Nothing daunted, the settlers went to work on another scheme, and on July 19, 1870, the land now occupied by the court house was deeded to the county, in consideration of $1, by Henry and C. C. Martin. The contract for a court house was then let to I. N. Branson for $3,750, and work began at once. In April, 1871, the building was completed and occupied. Although well finished and a good building, the court house was not large enough to accommodate all the officers, and after doing the best that could be done with it, it was decided in July, 1875, to make extensive additions and improvements. All that part of the building west of the hall way was then constructed at a cost of $8,000, making with previous expenditures and the jail on the southwest corner a total cost of $15,000. The building was completed in March, 1876. Its present dimensions are 52x54 feet; its height, two stories.


[Image of El Dorado School] The first school taught in this county was in charge of Miss Sarah Satchel. It was located at Chelsea, the oldest settlement in the county, and was opened in 1860. At this time the school district embraced this county and Cowley, as well as parts of Chase and Greenwood counties. The second school was taught in 1863 in Towanda in a log building, erected by the settlers. A school was also started in El Dorado Township at an early day, a subscription being raised by the citizens, and the school taught by Miss Jane Wentworth. The difficult office of county superintendent of public instruction was also filled, and the machinery of education progressed. The schoolhouses were many of them rough, and, if reports speaks truly, some of the teachers were of the same sort. Yet the work was pretty honestly done, and the rising generation compares favorably with that of any other county. Since 1879 very full reports have been made, from which the following summary is drawn: School districts in 1879, 125; in 1880, 130; in 1881, 138; in 1882, 143. School population between the ages of five and twenty-one: In 1879, 6,056; in 1880, 6,397; in 1881, 6,545; in 1882, 6,861. Enrollment: In 1879, 4,590; in 1880, 4,356; in 1881, 5,228; in 1882, 5,303. Average attendance: In 1879, 136; in 1880, 176; in 1881, 179; in 1882, 154. Total school expenditures: In 1879, $34,962.76; in 1880, $40,060.03; in 1881, $43,469.22 2/3; in 1882, $53,328.09.

Butler County has more manufacturies (sic) of raw material into finished product than any county in Southern Central Kansas. A brief recapitulation of the principal industries gathered from the returns made to the County Clerk is as follows: J. W. Smith, Leon, horse-power sorghum-mill valued at $300; Lytle & Sons, Towanda, water-power flouring-mill, $1,300; H. J. & J. W. Ground, Augusta, steam flouring-mill, $19,000, and water-power flouring-mill, $8,000; J. C. Haines, Augusta, steam corn-mill, $4,000; A. Palmer, Augusta, steam saw-mill, $1,200; John W. Dunn, Douglas, water-power flouring-mill, $10,000; Wise & Kirk, Douglass, steam flouring-mill, $20,000; J. T. Oldham, El Dorado, steam furniture-factory, $1,000; Burdett & Weeks, El Dorado, water and steam-power flouring-mill, $20,000; L. Hunting, El Dorado, brickyard, horse-power, $1,000; L. D. Godfrey, Leon, water-power flouring-mill, $1,400. Besides these are some small industries with a capital of from $300 to $700 not employing any save hand power.

The following table will serve to show the acreage of the principal crops of the county, and how general opinion of their adaptability has changed in the past ten years:

          CROPS.     1872 |   1874 |   1876 |   1878 |    1880 |   1882
Winter Wheat        1,737 |  5,827 | 27,298 | 41,994 |  49,249 | 21,142
Rye                   515 |    706 |  3,935 |  1,225 |     148 |    546
Spring Wheat        1,013 |  6,713 |    502 |  2,594 |     210 |    171
Corn               19,855 | 34,144 | 27,172 | 54,553 |  80,220 |110,810
Barley                121 |    139 |    240 |    205        14 |      .
Oats                4,005 |  6,201 | 10,702 | 10,980 |  10,499 | 10,485
Buckwheat             143 |     50 |  34.50 |     60 |   23.50 |     17
Irish Potatoes        590 |  1,321 | 194.25 |  1,131 |1,575.85 |  1,049
Sweet Potatoes         35 |    134 |  32.50 |  87.65 |   86.60 |    114
Sorghum               276 |    412 | 316.50 | 729.70 |  740.24 |    581
Castor Beans           20 |     32 |      8 |      4 |  122.50 |    469
Broom Corn              . |     22 |  46.50 |  66.31 |  129.60 |      .
Millet and Hungarian  288 |  2,670 |  5,556 |  6,397 |   9,800 | 20,807

The following figures give the increase of population in the county, and serve to show its rapid growth: It had in 1860, 437; in 1870, 3,035; in 1875, 9,832; in 1882, 18,661, an increase in twelve years of 15,732.

[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]