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


[TOC] [part 10] [part 8] [Cutler's History]


This beautiful little city is situated in the southern part of Cherokee County, near Spring River, and about twelve miles south of Columbus and one mile north of the Indian territory. The ground upon which the city stands borders on either side of a small ravine which not only adds to the picturesqueness of the site, but as well affords most excellent drainage.

The first settlement was made in the vicinity by A. Baxter, in 1858, whose claim adjoined the site on the northeast. hitherto the land belonged to the Government, and was known as the Government strip. In 1865, a man by the name of Jeff Davis and one Armstrong, each took claims, Davis locating his clam on the west side of Baxter's, and Armstrong's claim bounded Davis' claim on the south. The claim shanties of these three men were the only buildings to be seen in the vicinity where the town is now located. The restrictions upon the Texas cattle drive caused them to halt near this place, which was the main cause for starting a town.

In 1866, Capt. M. Man and J. J. Barnes laid out a town site of eighty acres, and named it Baxter Springs, in honor of A. Baxter, the first settler, and also for the springs that are found here, which are said to possess medical properties. The site was mostly upon the Davis claim, and a part of the Armstrong claim, both of which came into the possession of Man and Barnes.

Several additions have since been made to the site, and it now comprises an area of about one entire section These additions are Brewster's first and second, Dunbar's first and second, Barnes', Giswolds', Riggins', Mann's, Soloman's, Kingman's and Vanepp's Additions, the latter being a part of the Baxter farm.

The first house built upon the site was the log dwelling belonging to Armstrong and Davis. This, however, was erected prior to the establishment of the site, as such. The first building erected upon the site, after it was laid out, was a small shanty built by Ben Gump. The next was a small store, built by A. F. Powell, in which he put a stock of general goods. Bobstein & Dudley erected a room, and A. Mathews put in it a stock of hardware. B. F. Townsend next opened a shoe store. These, together with a hotel built by W. Hyland, were the only business buildings erected in 1866. Stimulated by the business created by the immense Texas cattle trade, the town grew with great rapidity, and everybody was in a fever heat of excitement. Money was plenty and the merchants did a flourishing business. Society was in a state of chaos. Here was a rendezvous for the notorious Texas cow boy, the gambler, prostitute, saloon keeper, and the multitude of villains and ruffians which infest these cattle towns. Saloons and bawdy and dance houses of the most virulent character were numerous, and the town, especially during the season when the cattle were being driven in, was in one continuous state of uproar, night and day. So great, indeed, was the excitement and the consequent rapid growth, that, as early as 1872, the town had a population of nearly 4,000. This condition of things inspired the people of the town with the utmost confidence in the greatness of their future. As a result of this, a most lavish system of expenditure of the public money was made toward public enterprise and improvement. In 1869, the town voted bonds to the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad to the amount of $150,000. In 1871 $25,00 in bonds were voted, and a school building was erected costing the full amount. During the same year, $10,000 in bonds were voted, and the proceeds applied to the erection of a court house and jail, which the town intended to donate to the county, in the hope of Baxter Springs being made the county seat, as a consideration. In 1873, an issue of $4,000 in bonds was made for the improvement of the streets. Thus, regardless of what developments of an unfortunate nature might take place in the future, the town had already heaped upon herself a bonded indebtedness far in excess of the entire assessed valuation of all the property. Subsequent legislation upon the subject caused the Texas cattle trail to be moved further to the west. Thus it was taken from Baxter Springs, and as has been done repeatedly, gave impetus to the starting and building up of similar towns in the State along the border of the Indian Territory.

By reason of this change, Baxter Springs lost most of that which hitherto stimulated her growth, and the mere country trade that was left was insufficient to support so large a town. n consequence, the population was soon materially diminished, many of the inhabitants seeking other fields, and the excitement caused by the discovery of the rich lead mines about eight miles east of the town, drew away scores of people. As a result of these depressing circumstances, the rate of taxation became enormous, and many property owners abandoned their possessions, and left the place to avoid the payment of taxes. A portion of the property was sold for taxes, and lots and blocks sold for mere nominal sums, some lots having been purchased as low as 17 cents. The bondholders seeing the unfavorable situation of affairs, were willing to accept almost any sort of a compromise on their securities, and happily for the town, a compromise was effected upon all the bonds, the rate varying from 18 to 50 cents on the dollar. In this way, the entire bonded indebtedness was discharged, with the exception of about $20,000. This was discharged by an issue of funding bonds of that amount, which was made on January, 1880. These bonds fall due in thirty year's time, and draw 6 per cent interest.

Baxter Springs was made the county seat for Cherokee County n November, 1867. This also served as a stimulant to its growth, but it was of short duration, since, in February of 1869, it was removed to Columbus. The site of the town is rendered historic as being the scene of the massacre of Gen. Blunt's body guard in 1863, which took place immediately upon what is now a part of the city. A more detailed account of this incident appears in the general history of Cherokee County.

During the war, the Third Wisconsin Regiment was posted at a point a little northeast of the town, where they made light fortifications of earthworks, traces of which still remain. A little way south of the town a body of colored troops also had their fortifications.

Although the town had already been laid out, and considerable growth had been attained and much improvement made, yet the property was without perfect title. Neither had the title been made perfect until after its organization as a city of the second class. When this was done, the land was then entered by the Mayor, L. G. Denton, who after having obtained legal title, deed to each property-holder his respective share.

A national cemetery is located about one mile west of the city, in which a considerable number of interments have been made. Noticeable among those who here find a last resting place are the veterans who composed Gen. Blunt's body guard, and who are slaughtered at Baxter Springs by Quantrill's guerrillas in 1863.

The city is situated on the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, by which means of which it has immediate connection with Kansas City and Joplin, Mo.

Baxter Springs was incorporated as a city of the second class as early as 1869. L. G. Denton was elected the first Mayor. Following this in regular order, the following persons were elected to the office of Mayor: H. R. Crowell, elected for two terms; Boyd, Phillip Pfening, J. M. Cooper, two terms, and J. C. Naylor.

In 1866, the Government Post Office Department located an office at this place. William Rebstein was the first Postmaster. Since then the office has been held respectively by W. M. Coulter and William Varick, who was succeeded on the 1st of January, 1883, by William March.


The first public school was taught by Miss Wilcox in the summer of 1866. The school was kept in a small log house, which had been rented for the accommodation of the school. In 1868, a two-story frame house, containing two rooms, was built for school purposes, and was afterward sold to the Methodists for a house of worship. A very elegant and costly school building was erected in 1872. It is a large, two-story brick structure, containing twelve apartments. The building is of very imposing design, and is made of brick and trimmed with cut stone, costing about $25,000. At the present time, the school population is composed of 530 male and 545 female children, or a total number of 1,075.

The city contains five church organizations, each of which is supplied with a comfortable house of worship.

The Presbyterian Church was organized in 1868, by Rev. J. W. Hawkins. At that time, there was a membership of twenty-five, which has since been increased to the present number of thirty-five. The church building was erected in 1871. It is a neat, one-story brick building, and cost $4,00.

The Methodist Congregation was organized in 1867. Meetings were held in the school building until in 1870, when the frame school building was purchased and fitted up for church purposes.

The Baptists effected an organization, and in 1872, erected a large brick church. The body subsequently went down, and the building is now occupied by the colored Baptists.

The Episcopal and Catholic denominations have small congregations, both of which are supplied with a church house. The Catholic Church was built in 1871, and is a small, brick building. The Episcopal Church, a small frame, was built in 1880.

Baxter Lodge, No. 71, A. F. & A. M., was instituted under a dispensation, with ten members. W. H. Draper was made Worshipful Master; W. H. Urie, Senior Warden; G. M. Bush, Junior Warden; A. Sanford, Secretary; and W. Hyland, Treasurer. The order was chartered October 21, 1878. The following officers were elected: B. F. Townsend, Worshipful Master; M. Rebstein, Senior Warden; W. M. Matheny, Junior Warden; D. W. Cooley, Secretary; and W. Schmidt, Treasurer.

The lodge was chartered with a membership of fifty-one, five Fellow Crafts and eight Entered Apprentices.

A hall was built in connection with the Odd Fellows, which was afterward sold to J. B. Carruth. In 1 881, a two-story brick building was purchased from Arthur & Degler, and the upper story fitted up for a lodge-room. The lodge at present has a membership of twenty-two, in full standing. The present officers are: D. Prickett, Worshipful master; J. H. Smith, Senior Warden; L. G. Kennedy, Junior Warden; A. S. Peacock, Secretary, and G. Stoskoff, Treasurer.

Spring Valley Lodge, o. 51, I. O. O. F., was instituted in 1869. The present officers are: W. B. Spencer, Noble Grand, and W. J. Bone, Secretary.

The Society of the Grand Army of the Republic was organized August 23, 1882. The initiatory rites were performed by Col. C. D. Nichols, assisted by a number from the Columbus Post.

Baxter Lodge, No. 15, A. O. U. W., was instituted in July, 1880 with a membership of twelve. W. B. Spencer was chosen Master Workman; S. Day, Recorder; and E. Hodgkins, Treasurer. There is now a membership of forty members. The present officers are: D. C. Coleman, Past master Workman and Secretary; H. A. Burgess, master Workman; A. Willard, Foreman; and --- Jenners, Treasurer.


The first paper established in Baxter Springs was the Baxter Springs Herald. This paper was started by B. R. & N. J. Evans in October, 1867, and was suspended in the following summer.

The Cherokee Sentinel was the next paper started in the town. This sheet was brought into existence by M. W. Coulter and D. C. Holbrook in October, 1868. In April of the next year, W. E. C. Lyons took an interest in the paper, and, in the following December, Holbrook sold out to the other members of the firm. Lyons became editor and Coulter business manager of the concern. The paper subsequently ceased at this place.

The Examiner was established by Mr. Simmons in 1871, but the publication has since ceased.

The Republican was started in 1872, by A. T. Lea. It was sold to A. J. R. Smith May 1, 1876, and subsequently suspended.

The Baxter Springs News was established February 23, 1882, by the Baxter News Company, composed of a number of the business men of the town. W. H. Horner was President of the company, and J. B. Rowley, editor of the paper. On October 14, 1882, it was leased to M. H. Gardner. The paper was started as a seven-column folio, and, on November 16, 1882, it w as enlarge to an eight-column folio. The sheet is independent in politics and enjoys a liberal patronage, having a circulation of 500 copies.

The First National Bank was started at Baxter Springs in 1872 by G. Van Winkle, I. H. Wright, H. S. Clark, W. A. Bodkin, J. H. Slater and others. In 1875, it was taken by H. R. Crowell, E. Zelliken, W. W. Mayo, P. J. Pfening and J. M. Cooper. After one year's operation, the institution became the sole possession of H. R. Crowell as a private bank. The capital stock is $10,000, and the deposits average $50,000.

A bank was started in 1871 by Graves & Niles, which, after about two years' operation, collapsed.

Baxter Springs contains but one manufactory. This is the Baxter Flouring Mill, which was built in 1870 by A. Willard. The mill building is a three-story frame, 25x50 feet. It is operated by water-power derived from Spring River, the power consisting of two turbine water wheels. It contains two run of stone, and has a grinding capacity of fifty barrels of flour per day. According to the Assessor's returns in the spring of 1882, the city contained a population of 1,237. This, however, is undoubtedly somewhat less than the actual number, and with the increase since that time the population may be safely estimated at about 1,500. The buildings are considerably scattered, on account of the city at one time being much larger than at present, and covering a large territory, and a number of the buildings being moved away left those remaining in some instances at considerable distances from each other.

The city presents a very fine appearance, since most of the poorer class of houses were taken away and the better and more costly ones were left. For this reason there are considerably more tasty residence buildings than is found in most Kansas towns of a like size. A course of improvement is in steady progress, and the city has fair promise of growth and importance.


E. B. AMOS, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 30, P. O. Baxter Springs, was born in Clinton County, Ind., in 1850, and settled here in 1869, and engaged at his present industry, which he has actively carried on since. In 1873, he married Mrs. Hannah Pearson nee Mitchell. They have a family of four daughters - Alice, Millie, Mabel and Blanche. His farm consists of 160 acres of improved land, containing a nice orchard of various kinds of fruit. He has it well stocked and fenced, and a plentiful supply of water.

PETER AUMAN, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 20, P. O. Baxter Springs, was born in Mifflin County, Penn., in 1830, and was reared in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, to carpentering trade. In 1852, he located in Owen County, Ind., and followed his business successfully there till 1880 when he located here and engaged at his present industry, which he has actively followed since. He married miss Leah Overhaulser, his first wife, whom he buried in the cemetery in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in 1850. His second wife was Miss Sarah Bolman, whom he buried in the cemetery in Owen County, Ind., in 1865. They had two sons and one daughter - Jonathan, Martha and Abraham. His third wife was Miss Rebecca Livingston. They have no children. Mr. Auman did active service in Company F, Fifty-third Indiana Volunteer Infantry during the late civil war, from which he was honorably discharged. His farm contains 160 acres of improved land, containing a nice orchard of 300 fruit trees of different kinds.

CAPT. HORACE AUSTIN, farmer and stock-raiser, was born in Meadville, Crawford Co., Penn., September 1, 1815. At the age of nineteen, he enlisted in Company I, First United States Regular Artillery, in connection with the Florida war, and did five years of active service, when, on account of disabilities, having been shot in seven different places, he was honorably discharged, after the battle of Tustigua, at Jupiter Inlet, Fla. He then returned home, and after a short time located in Gallia County, Ohio, in connection with the farming industry, leaving there in 1854, and settling in De Kalb County, Ill., where he carried on farming actively till 1873, wen he came here, and has actively carried it on here since. He married, in 1840, Miss Mary Ann La Due, who was born and reared in New York City, and who departed this life in 1853, and is buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery, Gallia County, Ohio, leaving two daughters - Martha, now Mrs. Andrew Johnson, of Spring Valley Township, and Harriet. In 1855, he married Miss Lovina Reed, a native of Ohio. At the breaking-out of the late civil war, Capt. Austin raised Company K, One Hundred and Fifth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and assisted materially in raising the regiment, and commanded his company in active service till his health failed him, and he was compelled to retire. Since coming here he has taken an active part in the development of the social and industrial life of the city; of which he is an honered (sic) official.

JULIUS BISCHOFSBERGER, proprietor of Baxter Hotel, livery and feed stables, was born in Prussia in 1839, and was educated to the profession of architect there. In 1867 he came to America and after spending a year in Pennsylvania, he came here and engaged in mercantile business a few years; he carried on lumber business two years, and then engaged at restaurant and hotel business and has successfully carried it on since. In 1878, he started his present livery stable business; he was married in 1866, to Miss Mary Weise, of his native country. They have a family of one son and three daughters - Julius Jr., Annie, Lena and Amelia; he is an active member of the I. O. O. F. and A. O. U. W. societies here, and an active worker in the industrial life of this city.

CAPT. HENRY A. BURGESS, proprietor of the Springs hotel, was born in Springfield, Windsor Co., Vt., February 20, 1831, and was educated to the trade of blacksmithing there. Upon the completion of his trade he came West and finally engaged in connection with the railway industry in Michigan upon the M. S. & N. I. R. R. as conductor with which he was identified for a few years. In 1856, he joined a party of colonists of Free-State principles whose object was to settle in Kansas, and located near Lawrence where he remained until 1864, active as an official and citizen. During this time he served as Sergeant-at-arms of the House of Representatives for two terms, and was also assistant Provost Marshal for the eastern district of the State. In 1864, e located in St. Louis and filled a position in the Provost Marshal's office; then subsequently he accepted a position in the city constabulary with which he was connected for twelve years, ten years of which he did service as Captain, retiring from it with the honorable distinction of Senior Captain in 1879, when he came here and engaged principally in mining operations until the present year, when he took charge of the hotel business which he ably represents. During his first residence in Kansas he filled the commissionship of the United States Court for five years. He is a Knight Tem- Templar (sic) of the A., F. & A. M. society, and has been an active and worthy member for twenty years; he is also an active member of the A. O. U. W. society here.

JOHN H. BURROWS, tin smith, was born in Indiana in 1851; he received a business education, and at the age of eighteen began tinners' business in Evansville, Ind., which he continued three years. He came to Kansas in 1870, and located in Erie, remaining two years engaged in tin business, and being also a silent partner in grocery store; he was then in Galena a short time, and came from that place to Baxter Springs, and opened his present business. Mr. B. is a Good Templar, and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church; he was married to Miss Clara Wigner, of Kansas, in 1874. They have four children - Ida, Gertie, Maud and George.

E. B. CAMPBELL, agent of the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, was born in Kalamazoo, Mich., in 1845. At the age of twelve years, he located in Kansas with his people, who settled in Fort Scott, were he was identified with the horticultural industry until 1875, when he accepted a position on this railroad as assistant agent and did work as such at different points on the road until 1878, when he received his present appointment which he has reputably held since. He was married in Scott in 1871, to Miss Alice L. Smith, a native of Macomb County, ill. They have two little girls - Maud and Edna. He and family are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

OLIVER ALLEN COLEMAN, City Attorney, was born on Long Island, N. Y., March 1, 1854; he received a classical collegiate education, graduating at the Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., in 1875, and received the degrees of A. B. and A. M. In the fall of 1875, he entered the law office of Samuel A. Bowen, of Cooperstown, Otsego Co., N. Y., as a student; he was admitted to practice May 9, 1877, to all the courts of the State. In 1879, he began law business for himself in Detroit, Mich., where he remained until February 1, 1881, when he came to Baxter Springs, Kan.; he farmed one year and then resumed the practice of law in Baxter Springs, August 25, 1881. He was appointed City Attorney July 18, 1882; he is a member of the A. O. U. W., and is recorder for the order at Baxter Springs. He is a member of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity, a college society; he is a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and a lay reader in the same.

JOHN M. COOPER, of the firm of Cooper & Wright, general merchants, was born in Illinois December 11, 1841; he received a liberal education and took a commercial course at Jones' College in St. Louis in 1865; he commenced the mercantile business at New Salem, Ill., in 1866. In 1868, he came to Kansas and located at Baxter Springs, where he carried on the grocery business eight or ten years, and then added dry goods and groceries. He started a grocery store in Galena in 1877, and in 1878 took Mr. Schemerhorn, as partner in the Galena business, adding hardware in 1880; he formed a partnership with Mr. Wright in the Baxter Springs business in April. Mr. Cooper is a large mine and land owner in Cherokee County, owing mines and lands in Colorado, 600 to 700 acres of fine land in Cherokee County, improved, and residence and business properties in Baxter Springs. Mr. Cooper started in life without means, and to-day owns $60,000 to $75,000 worth of property.

WILLIAM COWAN, was born in Guernsey County, Ohio, in 1831, where he was reared; he followed farming until 1853; he was married to Sarah A. Sharron March 24, 1853; then moved to Fulton County, Ind., where he followed farming; is daughter Mary J., was born here December 25, 1853; then moved back to Guernsey County, Ohio, and continued farming here. John T. Cowan was born May 23, 1856. In 1857, moved back to Fulton County, Ind., to his old home place, where Robert A. Cowan was born June 4, 1858. He remained there farming until 1862, and then moved to Marshal County, Ind., where William H. Cowan was born April 6, 1862, and remained there until Nancy E. Cowan was born August 31, 1864; he was then drafted and hired a substitute for $1,000; he then sold out and moved to Atchison County, Mo., where James A. Cowan was born September 15, 1867. He then moved from there to Gentry County, Mo., where James A. Cowan died August 1, 1879, and Ruth A. Cowan was born December 22, 1871; then moved from there to Kansas where Mary J. Cowan was married to Even Owens September 16, 1875, a stock dealer; John F. Cowan was married to Miss Emma Spinning, a school teacher, February 15, 1881; his occupation is farming; Robert A. Cowan was married to Miss Mits, a farmer's daughter, in May, 1882; his occupation is mining. He has two daughters and one son at home yet.

B. F. CROWELL, agricultural machinery and smith shop, and dealer in all kinds of machine repairs, was born in Blair County, Penn., in 1833; his ancestory were among the early settlers of Maryland and Virginia. In l851, he left his native State and located in St. Louis, where he remained until the breaking out of the war in connection with his profession. When, after doing one year's service in the army as a soldier, he engaged in the Department of the Gulf in the transportation service as engineer, in which he remained until the end of the war. He married in St. Louis, Miss Sarah A. McBain, who was born in Liverpool, Eng., in 1848, and was reared in St. Louis. They have three sons and one daughter Norman, Daniel D., Mathieson and Catherine. In 1868, Mr. Crowell settled here and has been reputably connected with his present business since.

BENJAMIN F. DIXON, farmer and stock-raiser and horticulturist, Section 21, P. 0. Quakervale, was born in Chatham County, N. C., in 1844, and was reared there to the farming industry. In l866, he located in Lyon County, Kan., and carried on farming till 1878, when he came here, and has been very successfully identified with his present industry since. In 1877, he married Miss Hannah W. Stanley, who was born in Salem, Iowa, and removed with her people to Lyon County, Kan., in 1857, where she was reared and educated. They have a family of two sons and three daughters-Albert S., Georgiana, Mary A., Charles T. and Sadie P. Mr. Dixon has worked actively in the development of the social and industrial life of this locality. In 1878, he was active in the work of establishing a high school here for the benefit of the families of Friends, and after two years, it was completed, and is known as the "Spring River Academy." He and his family are active members of the Church of Friends here. In connection with his present business, he is also actively engaged in mining interests. His farm contains 200 acres of improved land, well fenced and watered and stocked, a handsome orchard of twenty acres of a nicely assorted variety of apple, pear and peach trees. Has also a well assorted variety of small fruits, etc. Nice dwelling and barns and stables, complete his interests here, which he has accummulated by dint of steady and persistant industry, having begun upon a merely nominal capital.

H. W. DUNCAN, stock-dealer, was born in Indiana May 21 1848. At the age of nineteen, he began the drug business, which he followed three years in Indiana. He was then in a saw-mill one year, and came to Kansas October, 1869, locating in Woodson County, where he took up a homestead, and remained on it six years. He came to Baxter Springs and engaged in butcher business a sort time, and then commenced handling stock in all lines, buying, selling and shipping, and is still in same business. He owns 300 acres of farm land, and is now one of the stock dealers of Kansas.

CHARLES E. EDDY, farmer, Section 7, P. 0. Brush Creek, was born in the State of New York, June 14, 1832; received a common school education while at home on the farm, and in 1853 went to Wisconsin, remaining a short time, and thence to Illinois, for one season; then was in Iowa three years, on a farm and driving stage; then to Nebraska, where he worked for stage company three months; then again In Iowa with stage company, and then back in Nebraska, where he opened a farm of 160 acres, which he improved and worked on two years. He then went to Missouri and carried on a farm one year, and in 1869 came to Kansas and bought his present farm of 160 acres which he improved, and upon which he now raises stock and grain, and has a fine selection of fruits of all kinds. Mrs. Eddy owns 127 acres in Cherokee County. He was married to Miss Fidelia Reynolds, of Ohio, 1852, who died in 1872, leaving Minnie. He was married to Mrs. Sarah Rainey, of Ohio, in 1874. They have three children-Charles, Jessie and Ustacia. Have one step-daughter, Annie Rainey.

C. H. ERICKSON, stock-dealer, was born in Sangamon County, Ill., in 1854. At the age of nineteen, he located here and engaged at his present industry, which he has successfully carried on since. In 1876, he married Miss Elizabeth Gould, a native of Minnesota. They have one little boy-Oliver. Mr. Erickson is a member of the firm of Erickson & Duncan, who do an extensive business here in the rearing and dealing of all kinds of stock, although they make a specialty of horses and mules.

WILLIAM FOSTER, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 14, P. 0. Baxter Springs, was born in County of Fermanagh, Ireland, in 1847, and came to America in l862, and located here in 1865, and has been active in connection with his present industry since. In December, l874, he married Edna J. Owens, a native of Tennessee. They have three sons-John Wesley, James and Elmer. Mrs. Foster was born in Tennessee, and, reared in Madison County Ill. Their farm contains sixty-nine acres of improved land, well fenced and watered and containing a nice orchard of different kinds of fruit trees.

[TOC] [part 10] [part 8] [Cutler's History]