KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS

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


COFFEY COUNTY, Part 2

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

POLITICAL HISTORY.

Enos Strawn and George Vail were elected delegates to the Big Springs convention, that passed resolutions denouncing the bogus statutes, September 5, 1855. At an election held October 9, 1855, Dr. Hamilton Smith was elected a member of the Topeka constitutional convention and assisted in framing the constitution adopted by that body. The first Justice of the Peace in Coffey County was Gen. John B. Scott, who acted under authority of the bogus laws in 1855.

Organization of the County. -- On the 22nd day of July, 1855, the boundary lines of Coffey County were established by an act of the Legislature, and defined as follows: Beginning at the southeast corner of Welles County, thence south twenty-four miles, thence west twenty-four miles, thence north twenty-four miles, thence east twenty-four miles to place of beginning. The county of Welles, above named, is now Osage. The county was not organized for business until February, 1857. Then it was organized by an act of the Legislature, and the same Legislature by joint ballot, elected John Woolman, Probate Judge; E. C. Amsden, Sheriff; Richard Burr and Samuel Lock, Commissioners. The same Legislature located the county-seat temporarily at Le Roy, and provided for the election, at the next general election of three Commissioners, to locate the county seat permanently. John Evans, John Wooster, and Enos Strawn, were elected such Commissioners, and proceeded to locate the county-seat permanently at Le Roy.

Coffey County was named in honor of Col. A. M. Coffey, a resident of Miami County, but a member of the Territorial Legislature of 1855. He represented the Fourth District, consisting of Franklin, Miami, and Linn counties. While in the Legislature his motto was, "The Union, it must be preserved." He was an agent of the Confederate tribe of Indians, and Colonel of a Confederate regiment in the Indian Territory during the Rebellion. As late as 1878, the Colonel was a resident of southwestern Missouri, his native State being Kentucky, where he was born in 1804. The first term of Commissioners' Court was held at Le Roy, February, 1857. Alexander Hamilton filed his bond in the sum of $1,000. as County Clerk, and was authorized by the board to draft a plan for a temporary court-house. By authority of the court, Richard Burr procured a set of books for the Probate Judge, and for the Commissioners' Court. At a meeting of the board in April, 1857, Alexander Hamilton was appointed a special agent to borrow $800. for the purpose of putting up county buildings. On the 20th of April, Mr. Hamilton tendered his resignation as special agent, which was accepted, and no further action was taken in regard to county buildings. The board met and adjourned, from time to time for want of business, until the 18th of August, when they established three election precincts: one each at Le Roy, Burlington, and Ottumwa. At that meeting, Township 23, Range 16, was organized as a school district, but as the organization was premature, it never had any official status and was soon abandoned. On the 21st day of September 1857, the board established an election precinct at Neosho City, and appointed Judges of Election, Charles Vandevere, Noah Vandevere and J. R. Dewitt. The Judges of Election appointed at the same time for the other precincts, were as follows: Burlington---W. A. Ela, M. E. Grimes, Charles Morse; Ottumwa---Hiram Hoover, Hardin McMahon, Enos Strawn; Le Roy--- Alexander Hamilton, F. W. Holcomb, James Beard. On the 26th day of September, 1857, the county was divided into four municipal townships, to-wit: Burlington, Le Roy, Ottumwa, and Neosho City. The next meeting of the Board of Commissioners was held in Le Roy, January 18, 1858. At that meeting Hiram Hoover was elected Assessor of Coffey County, J. M. Elliott appointed Surveyor, and Thomas Crabtree filed his bond as County Treasurer. January 21, 1857, J. L. Bacon was appointed County Clerk. In October, 1857, O. E. Learnard was elected a member of the Territorial Council, which met in January, 1858.

Officers of District Court -- The first term of court ever held in the county was held in Hampden some time in 1855, by Hon. Samuel D. Lecompte, then Chief Justice of the Territory. The Second Judicial District, composed of eighteen counties, was organized, and Hon. Rush Elmore, Associate Judge of the Territory, was assigned to it. The first term of the District Court in this county commenced September 5th, 1859, Elmore, Judge; L. McArthur, Clerk, (by A. Jones, deputy); John Chess, Sheriff; and William R. Saunders, County Attorney. Hon. Rush Elmore continued Judge until the admission of Kansas in 1861; L. McArthur continued to be Clerk of the court for the same time, with Silas Fearl a portion of the time as deputy. During the years 1860 and 1861, John Chess was Sheriff and William B. Parson, County Attorney. Courts were held twice each year. O. E. Learnard was elected first Judge of the Fifth Judicial District, under the State organization, but was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the First Kansas and resigned his position as Judge, having never held a term of court. Hon. R. M. Ruggles was appointed to the vacancy, and in the fall of 1861 was elected to the office. During the year 1862, William R. Saunders was District Attorney, Ahijah Jones, Clerk, and M. E. Grimes, Sheriff. During 1863, George H. Lillie was District Attorney and M. E. Grimes still Sheriff. During 1864 and 1865, A. S. Howard was District Attorney. H. N. Bent was County Attorney during 1866, and until the fall of 1867, when Silas Fearl (who was that fall elected to the office) was appointed to the office. Silas Fearl was County Attorney from 1866 to 1871, and A. M. F. Randolph from 1871 to 1875, when he was succeeded by William B. Parsons, who was elected in 1874. Parsons resigned the office in March, 1876, when Judge Peyton appointed Samuel C. Junkins to fill the vacancy; Mr. Junkins held the office until January, 1877, when he was succeeded by C. B. Graves, who was elected in the fall of 1876. November 5, 1878, Silas Fearl was elected County Attorney and has served in that capacity since. The last time he was elected, was the 7th of November, 1882. J. H. Watson succeeded R. M. Ruggles as Judge in 1865, and held the office until 1873, when he was succeeded by E. B. Peyton. November 2, 1880, Charles B. Graves was elected Judge to succeed Peyton and is still serving in that capacity. L. W. Morey succeeded Ahijah Jones as Clerk, by appointment, and Matthew Fennimore by election, who held the office until 1864, when Samuel C. Junkins was elected to the office and held it four years. Jacob F. Harlan succeeded Junkins, and held the office six years, until January, 1875, when he was succeeded by R. H. Adair, who was re-elected, without opposition, in 1876, and re-elected again in 1878. In 1880, Adair was succeeded by William B. Patton, and in 1882, Patton was succeeded by C. P. Allen, the present incumbent. W. J. Sanders was Sheriff four years, commencing in 1864; S. J. Carter succeeded him, holding the office four years. John Chess, Senior, was elected Sheriff in 1871, but died before entering upon his duties; Martin B. Hoover was appointed to fill the vacancy, and in the fall of 1872, was elected to the office, and re-elected in 1873, holding the office little over four years. Mr. Hoover was followed in 1876 by John E. Williams, who was elected to the office in the fall of 1875. Owing to Mr. Williams' poor health, the entire business of the Sheriff's office was transacted by James M. Lane, Mr. Williams' under sheriff. Mr. Williams died in January, 1877, when Mr. Lane was appointed by the governor to fill the vacancy. Lane was Sheriff until January, 1878, when he was succeeded by Delos Miller, who was elected to the office in the fall of 1877 and re-elected in the fall of 1879, and served until he was succeeded by Thomas Cross, who was elected November 15, 1881, and who is the present incumbent.

Probate Judge. -- John Woolman, the first Probate Judge, was elected by the Legislature in February, 1857. He was succeeded by Hardin McMahon, who was elected by the people in 1858; he served but a short time, and was succeeded by William R. Saunders. Mr. Saunders resigned before he had performed any official duties, for the following reasons. Under the United States law it was made the duty of the Probate Judge, when called on, to pre-empt town sites for the use and benefit of the occupants. The Burlington Town Company was anxious to have the present site of the city of Burlington pre-empted in the spring of 1859. Mr. Saunders, for some reason, was afraid to assume the responsibility of pre-empting the town site, and expressed a desire to resign, rather than do so.

In February, 1859, Col. Learnard, B. L. Kingsbury and Charles Persall drove to his residence on Long Creek, received his written resignation, drove from there to Lecompton, and presented the same to Gov. Medary. The resignation was accepted, and on the 1st day of March, 1859, B. L. Kingsbury received the appointment of Probate Judge, and on the 2nd day of March, 1859, pre-empted the present site of the city of Burlington. B. L. Kingsbury was succeeded by Enos Strawn, who held the office but a short time, and was succeeded by J. D. Carney, who held the office until January, 1861, when he was succeeded by M. Fennimore, who held the office until January, 1862, when he was succeeded by H. N. Bent, who held the office until January, 1868, when he was succeeded by J. M. Rankin, who held the office until January, 1872, and was succeeded by William A. Allison, who held the office until his death in November, 1875. On the 22nd day of November, 1875, B. L. Kingsbury was appointed to fill the vacancy, and in November, 1876, he was elected Probate Judge, and re-elected in 1878 and 1880. November 7, 1882, Charles O. Brown was elected Probate Judge.

County Treasurer. -- Thomas Crabtree, the first County Treasurer of Coffey County, was appointed January 19, 1858, and held the office until January 1, 1860; William Manson, from January, 1860, to January 1, 1862; A. F. Wilkinson, from January, 1862 to January, 1866; J. M. Lane, from January, 1866, to July 1, 1870; C. H. Graham, from July 1, 1870, to November 1, 1873; H. E. Cowgill, from November 1, 1873, to July 1, 1874; S. J. Carter, from July 1, 1874, to October 1, 1878. H. E. Cowgill was elected in November, 1877, to succeed S. J. Carter. Cowgill was re-elected in November, 1879, and was succeeded by D. V. Mott, the present incumbent, who qualified October 9, 1882.

County Superintendent. -- The following is a list of County Superintendents in the order of their election: 1859---H. H. Johnson; 1860---Lewis Morey; 1862---Lewis Morey; 1864---John M. Rankin; 1866---B. Wheat; 1868---William Crow; 1870---J. S. Kline; 1872---George N. McConnell; 1875---John M. Rankin; 1876---P. K. Wadhams, appointed July, 1876; 1876---P. K. Wadhams, elected; 1878--- ----- Robinson (sic) 1880---John C. Gray; 1882---John C. Gray.

County Clerk. -- Alexander Hamilton was the first County Clerk, being appointed by the Commissioners in December, 1857, and held the office until January 4, 1858, when J. L. Bacon was appointed County Clerk. H. B. Beall succeeded Bacon, and entered upon his duties in May, 1858, and was succeeded by Silas Fearl on the 16th day of June, 1858, who continued in office until the 6th day of April, 1859, when he was succeeded by Ahijah Jones, who held the office until the general election, November 8, 1859, when Thomas M. Sanders was elected and entered upon his duties January 10, 1860. On the 9th day of July, 1860, Mr. Sanders resigned and Orson Kent was appointed to fill the vacancy. In November, 1860, B. L. Kingsbury was elected and continued in office until January 11, 1862, when he was succeeded by I. E. Olney, who was elected November 5, 1861. Mr. Olney was succeeded by Isaac Cabbage, in January, 1864. Mr. Cabbage was succeeded by S. C. Junkins, who was elected November 7, 1865, and entered upon his duties in January, 1866, and served four years. Allen Crocker succeeded Mr. Junkins, who also served four years, and he was succeeded by Job Throckmorton, who served four years, until January, 1878, when he was succeeded by his brother, W. H. Throckmorton, who was elected November 6, 1877. Robert H. Adair, the present incumbent, was elected November 8, 1881, and succeeded W. H. Throckmorton, January 7, 1882.

Register of Deeds. -- First Register of Deeds, Alexander Hamilton, from July 6, 1857, to May 3, 1858; Sylvester I. Bacon, from May 3, 1858, to January 5, 1859; Judson A. Walkling, from January 5, 1859, to January 9, 1862; Hiram Hoover, from January 9, 1862, to January 8, 1864; F. A. Atherty, from January 8, 1864, to January 8, 1866; P. S. Patton, from January 8, 1866, to January 12, 1868; W. H. Bear, from January 12, 1868, to present time. He was last elected November 25, 1881.

Legislative. -- By the apportionment of July 18, 1857, the counties of Shawnee, Richardson, Davis, Wise and Breckinridge constituted the Seventh Council District, the counties of Bourbon, Godfrey, Wilson, Dorn and McGee constituted the Eighth Council District, and the counties of Butler, Hunter, Greenwood, Madison, Welles, Coffey, Woodson and Allen constituted the Ninth Council District. These three council districts, consisting of the Seventh, Eighth and Ninth, and containing eighteen counties, had apportioned to them only two Councilmen, who were voted for at large by the people of the eighteen counties. Oscar E. Learnard, of Coffey County, and Cyrus K. Holliday, of Shawnee County, was elected, October 5, 1857, to represent these eighteen counties in the Territorial Council. By this same apportionment of July 18, 1857, the counties of Richardson, Davis, Wise and Breckinridge constituted the Twelfth Representative District; the counties of Welles, Madison, Butler, Hunter and Greenwood constituted the Thirteenth Representative District; the counties of Bourbon, Godfrey, Wilson, Dorn and McGee constituted the Fourteenth Representative District; the counties of Woodson, Coffey and Allen constituted the Fifteenth Representative District, and the counties of Anderson and Franklin constituted the sixteenth Representative District. these five representative districts, embracing nineteen counties, were allowed only three members. At the election held October 5, 1857, Samuel Stewart, of Allen County, C. Columbia, of Wise County, and John Curtis, of Franklin County, were chosen to represent these nineteen counties. August 9, 1857, Hamilton Smith, of Ottumwa, was elected a Senator under the Topeka Constitution. December 21, 1857, John T. Cox, of Ottumwa, was elected State Senator, and Allen Crocker, of Avon Township, Representative, under the Lecompton Constitution. March 4, 1858, R. A. Kinzie, D. A. Hawkins and J. M. Elliot were elected delegates to the Leavenworth Constitutional Convention. In June, 1859, Allen Crocker, of Coffey County, and Samuel E. Hoffman, of Woodson County, were elected delegates to the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention from what was officially designated as the Twentieth District. November 8, 1859, John C. Lambdin, of Butler County, was elected a member of the Territorial Council from the Thirteenth District, consisting of the counties of Coffey, Madison, Hunter, Butler, Chase, Godfrey and Greenwood. At the same election O. H. Sheldon, of Osage County, and George W. Nelson, of Coffey County, were elected Representatives to the Territorial House from the Twenty-second District, embracing those two counties. December 6, 1859, J. W. Kerr, of Coffey County, and E. P. Bancroft, of Breckinridge County, were elected State Senators under the Wyandotte Constitution from the Twelfth Senatorial District, and at the same time O. H. Sheldon, of Osage County, G. A. Cutler, R. W. Cloud and G. H. Reese, of Breckinridge County, and Benoni Wheat and W. R. Saunders, of Coffey County, were elected Representatives from the Twelfth Representatives from the Twelfth Representative District. The first Legislature under the Wyandotte Constitution did not convene until the 26th of March, 1861. Before its assembling, J. W. Kerr, who had been elected State Senator from Coffey County, died, and the vacancy was filled by the election of Hiram S. Sleeper, of Breckinridge County, March 5, 1861, G. A. Cutler, who had been elected Representative from Lyon County, removed to Coffey County before the first State Legislature convened, and lived there during his term of office. November 6, 1860, D. A. Hawkins, of Coffey County, and J. M. Winchell, of Osage County, were elected Representatives to the Territorial Legislature from the Twenty-second Representative District. November 5, 1861, O. H. Sheldon, of Osage County; P. P. Plumb, P. B. Maxson and C. V. Eskridge, of Breckinridge County; and F. W. Potter and J. H. Leard, of Coffey County were elected Representatives to the State Legislature from the Twelfth Representative District. November 4, 1862, F. W. Potter was elected to the Senate from the Eighteenth District; Horace Tucker was elected Representative from the Sixty-first District, and W. R. Saunders was elected Representative from the Sixty-second District. November 3, 1863, Job Throckmorton was elected Representative from the Sixty-first District, and W. R. Saunders was elected Representative from the Sixty-second District. November 8, 1864, F. W. Potter was re-elected State Senator from the Eighteenth District; Job Throckmorton was re-elected Representative from the Sixty-first District, and W. B. Perry was elected Representative from the Sixty-second District. November 2, 1865, Charles Cochrane was elected Representative from the Sixty-first District, and A. V. Coffin Representative from the Sixty-second District. November 6, 1866, James Rogers, of Osage County, was elected State Senator from the Eighteenth District; Job Throckmorton was elected Representative from the Sixty-first District, and Allen Crocker Representative from the Sixty-second District. November 5, 1867, Harrison Kelley was elected Representative from the Sixty-first District, and P. H. Smith Representative from the Sixty-second District. November 3, 1868, M. M. Murdock, of Osage County, was elected Senator from the Eighteenth District. J. A. McGinnes was elected Representative from the Sixty-first District, and E. E. Coffin was elected Representative from the Sixty-second District. November 2, 1869, Hardin McMahon was elected Representative from the Sixty-first District, and E. E. Coffin Representative from the Sixty-second District. November 8, 1870, M. M. Murdock, of Osage County, was re-elected State Senator; Charles Puffer was elected Representative from the Sixty-first District, and Charles B. Butler was elected Representative from the Sixty-second District. November 7, 1871, Charles B. Butler was elected Representative from the Sixty- first District (the whole county at this time constituting this District). November 5, 1872, Charles B. Butler, of Coffey County, was elected State Senator from the Twenty-second District, consisting of the counties of Coffey and Woodson, and S. K. Cross was elected Representative from the Sixty-first District. November 3, 1874, D. W. Finney, of Woodson County, was elected Senator from the Twenty-second District, and B. L. Kingsbury Representative from the Sixty-first District. November 2, 1875, Jacob Baer was elected Representative from the Sixty-first District. November 7, 1876, D. W. Finney was re-elected Senator from the Twenty-second District. At this time the Fifty-eighth and Fifty-ninth Representative Districts were embraced within the limits of Coffey County. At the election on the 7th of November, 1876, Jacob Baer was elected Representative from the Fifty-eighth District, and Butler Wood Representative from the Fifty- ninth District. At the same election D. W. Finney was re-elected State Senator from the Twenty-second District. At this election the Senator was elected for four years and the Representative for two years, it being the first election of legislators under the constitutional amendment providing for biennial sessions. November 5, 1878, Jacob Baer was elected Representative from the Fifty-eighth District, and Butler Wood Representative from the Fifty-ninth District. November 2, 1880, Harrison Kelley was elected Senator from the Twenty-second District; A. W. Jones was elected Representative from the Fifty-eighth District, and John Geisey Representative from the Fifty-ninth District. At the session of the Legislature in 1881, a new apportionment was made, when the counties of Coffey and Franklin were constituted the Thirteenth Senatorial District, Harrison Kelley, then Senator from the Twenty-second District, consisting of the counties of Coffey and Woodson, holding over for two years more. At this same apportionment, in 1881, Coffey County was constituted the Forty-third Representative District. November 7, 1882, Samuel J. Carter was elected Representative from the Forty-third District.

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