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


[TOC] [part 6] [part 4] [Cutler's History]


September, 1857, Dr. Hamilton Smith, committed suicide at Ottumwa, with a shot gun.

December, 1857, Leonidas Williamson, while attempting to walk across the Neosho River on ice, at the mouth of Lebo Creek, broke through and was drowned.

April, 1858, a man named Claywell, hanged at Le Roy, by a miscellaneous collection of citizens, by order of a Squatter's Court, he having been convicted by that court of the crime of horse stealing.

In the fall of 1858, Alexander Hamilton killed John Haney, in a shooting affray at Le Roy. Hamilton was examined before a Justice's Court and acquitted.

July 20, 1860, Victor Moquett, shot through the head by a rifle ball and killed, on South Big Creek. The fatal shot was fired by Dr. William Brown. The parties were deer hunting alone. The doctor claimed that the killing was an accident, the ball having struck a large stone, from which it glanced and lodged in Moquett's head. No coroner's inquest was held, nor did the doctor have a legal examination.

October, 1860, William Shaw and E. A. Green, of Burlington, murdered by Osage Indians, at a camp on the Cimmeron River. In the camp were William Shaw, A. E. Green, A. G. Holland, Andrew Franklin, Jr., Austin Higley and Isaac Yingling, all of Coffey County. They left Burlington October 15, 1860, with two wagons, each drawn by a span of horses, a supply of forage and provisions, and three extra horses. They were on a buffalo hunt. When the camp was attacked, all escaped and fled to another camp of white men, twenty miles distant, except Shaw and Green. The escaped party returned the next day, with assistance, but found nothing but the dead body of Shaw, whose head had been severed from the body and placed upright on his breast. Green and all the property were missing, and were never heard of since.

June 10, 1861, Mary Wiley and her son William, aged about six years, murdered in bed, during the night. Their bodies were hacked to pieces. The murdered parties lived in a small house on the farm of John Johnson, about two miles west of Le Roy, south of the river. Mr. Johnson's family lived in another house, on the same farm. Mrs. Wiley was supposed to be a mistress of the senior Johnson. William Harrison Johnson and Wesley Johnson, sons of John Johnson, of mature years, were missing after the murder. They were indicted by the Grand Jury of Coffey County, on the charge of being the murderers, and Matilda Johnson was also indicted on the charge of an accessory after the fact. Matilda appeared before the October term of the court, was tried and acquitted. Her brothers did not appear, having never been seen after the murder. Shortly after the trial of Matilda, the whole family disappeared.

March 28, 1862, Joseph P. Moore, found dead in his wagon, on the prairie, two miles from his home, in Pottawatomie Township, near the Glenwood schoolhouse. He left his home on the 14th of March, with a wagon and a span of horses, to go to Le Roy to get some grist. Failing to return home that day, as was expected, his friends supposed he had gone to the Verdigris to do some hauling for the refugee Indians. When found, his body was devoid of clothing, his head was hairless, his bed clothing was chawed into rags, and the wagon-box was gnawed to the bed. These devastations had been done by his horses, hitched to the wagon, in their efforts to appease their hunger. One horse was standing and the other lay dead. It is supposed that Mr. Moore got lost on the prairie, and that his death was caused by a congestive chill, to which he was subject. While he was lying in the slumber of death on the bleak prairie, his friends at home elected him to the office of Justice of the Peace, a position he was holding at the time of his decease.

September 25, 1862, William Hamilton killed Addison Vandever, near Le Roy, during a fight between the two parties at a horse race. Hamilton struck Vandever a fatal blow on the head with a board. August 22, 1864, Hamilton was convicted of manslaughter in the third degree, and sentenced to an imprisonment of three months in the County Jail.

In the spring of 1863 William Gibson, drowned by the sinking of a ferry-boat, in the attempt to cross the river at Burlington.

September 13, 1864, C. R. Key's residence, on his farm near Burlington, destroyed by fire, with all of its contents, including a valuable law and miscellaneous library. Loss, $10,000.

September 17, 1864, a negro named Sam, disemboweled, by a negro named Smith, during a drunken frolic at a dance at Nichols' farmhouse in Neosho Township, five miles south of Burlington. Smith was then shot through the head and killed by another negro. Sam died the next day. All of the surviving parties were brought before Ahijah Jones, Justice of the Peace at Le Roy, on Monday, August 19, but owing to his inability to disentangle the evidence, the matter was referred to the people, who ordered the entire mob to leave the county. The order was obeyed.

February 2, 1865, William Hastings, of Franklin County, murdered by an Indian named Wa-tee-chee, near Pottawatomie Creek, Coffey County. Hastings was riding in a lumber wagon when he was shot by the Indian, who approached on horseback, in the rear. Hastings, after he was shot, went to place his wallet, containing $500 in money, under a bag of corn, when his murderer fled, supposing Hastings was reaching for a pistol. Hastings drove two miles to a farmhouse, where he died the following night. Money was the motive for the murder but the murderer did not get it. Wa-tee-chee was hanged for this murder at Lawrence, January 19, 1866.

March 12, 1865, the residence of Rev. Peter Remer, at Burlington, occupied by the family of F. A. Atherly, destroyed by fire. Household goods saved; loss $2,000.

April 13, 1865, the wife of Sam Bull, colored, shot through the head and killed by a ball fired through the window from the outside at the house of her brother-in-law, Rufus, in Neosho Township. The murderer was supposed to be her husband, with whom she would not live.

May 8, 1865, the safe of the store of the Perry Brothers, at Le Roy, broken into and robbed of $6,000 in money.

August 21, 1865, a German named Shank drowned while attempting to cross the Neosho River at Hamilton's Crossing, in a wagon drawn by a span of horses. Everything lost.

November 25, 2865, Lewis Clark, a white man, shot a negro woman named Curry, on his farm, three miles northwest of Le Roy, and then fired a shot at her son, John. Mrs. Curry and her son were attempting to release some hogs, owned by them, which Clark had confined in an enclosure on his premises. John returned the fire, which instantly killed Clark, and then ran away. A party of men and boys from Le Roy hanged John's wife to a tree, with the expectation of extracting from her information of the whereabouts of her husband, but she stoutly denied any knowledge of his hiding place. She was released without material injury. The elder Mrs. Curry recovered from her wounds. John subsequently returned and is now a respected farmer, living with his wife near Ottumwa.

January 7, 1866, the wife of Luther Hewlett, of Hampden, killed by a fall from a horse near the residence of Mr. McQuiston, in Eagle Creek, California Township.

February 28, 1866, John M. Singer, of Ottumwa, robbed of $185 in money by two highwaymen, after the exchange of several shots, a few miles this side of the Verdigris River.

March 13, 1866, destruction by fire of the residence of J. H. Howard, at Burlington. Loss, $1,000.

May 24, 1866, Jerome A. Smith, died at Le Roy, from injuries received by the kick of a horse, May 20.

September 8, 1866, visitation from grasshoppers.

November 25, 1866, destruction by fire of the residence, with all of its contents, of M. E. Grimes, in Avon Township. Loss, $1,200. During the previous summer he suffered a heavy pecuniary loss by a freshet. October 11, an infant son died; November 10, his dry kiln, filled with finishing walnut lumber for the Episcopal Church at Burlington, was destroyed by fire, involving a loss to him of $600.

May 20, 1866, John Brashier, aged thirteen, drowned while bathing in the river, near the ferry crossing at Burlington.

April 5, 1867, an infant son of John Russell, in Avon Township, killed by a fall from a rocking chair.

August 29, 1869, Wilson Hamilton, shot and killed by Jack Taylor, in Burlington, during a family quarrel. Both were colored. Taylor was convicted of manslaughter in the second degree and sent to the penitentiary, where he died before the expiration of his sentence.

September 1, 1869, David Watrous, of Coffey County, killed by the explosion of a steam boiler at Timbered Hill, Labette County.

January 13, 1870, Lewis Highland, aged twenty-four, hanged to death from the crotch of a tree, into which he had been thrown by the sudden rolling of a tree top lying on the ground, which he was trimming, on the farm of Hardin McMahon, in California Township.

September 30, 1871, Timothy Pearson, stabbed Joseph M. Vetetoe in the neck, with a knife, causing death, at Le Roy. Pearson was sent to the penitentiary, but was soon afterwards pardoned.

December 23, 1871, Stephen Brown, murdered Harvey Deaver, at the residence of the later, (sic) near Ottumwa. The murder was committed with a pistol. The murderer was sentenced to the penitentiary for ten years.

March 5, 1872, Alexander Louther, a bachelor, aged forty years, blew the top of his head off by a charge from a gun fired by his own hands, during a fit of insanity, at his residence, in Rock Creek Township.

March 11, 1872, Frank Fearl, aged about six years, shot and killed his mother, Mrs. Silas Fearl, with a self-cocking revolver, with which he was playing, at the family residence in Burlington.

March 22, 1872, the Burlington postoffice was entered by burglars in the night and robbed of $460 in money and stamps.

May 11, 1872, Elisha Denecke, aged twenty years, was impaled upon the tines of a pitchfork, in his own hands. He fell upon the tines by the giving away of the roof of a shed, upon which he was standing and from which he was pitching old hay. He died within a few minutes from the time of the accident. This occurred on the farm of Charles Tomlinson, across the river from Burlington.

August 16, 1872, William Watkins, a young married man, aged twenty years, drowned while attempting to cross the Neosho River in a dug-out, at the ford at Job Throckmorton's.

August 28, 1872, William Tipton Reck, died from injuries received by a fall from a pony, on Long Creek, three days previous.

November 25, 1872, George W. Beard, aged fourteen, committed suicide by hanging, on account of reproof from his mother for not watering some calves, on Spring Creek.

July 31, 1873, hurricane on Big and Turkey Creeks, destroying crops and several houses.

December 5, 1873, M. C. Dow, of California Township, killed by the accidental discharge of his own gun, near Halftree, while rabbit-hunting.

August 29, 1874, William McDonald shot and killed Michael Pointing, in Key West Township. Pointing was at the head of a party which had been organized for the purpose of stampeding a herd of Southern cattle, under the charge of McDonald. After firing the fatal shot McDonald fled, but was afterward arrested in Texas in the spring of 1878, by Sheriff J. M. Lane, and taken back to Coffey County. He was convicted of manslaughter in the second degree, at the June term of the District Court, and sentenced to the penitentiary for a term of twenty years.

January 29, 1876, Albert Wetherby, whose home was one mile south of Burlington, killed by the accidental discharge of his own gun, on Fall River, while returning home in company with James Martindale.

May 9, 1876, Henry Godsey, aged 23, drowned in Eagle Creek, which he was attempting to ford with a horse.

June 11, 1877, S. M. Hedges murdered George S. Cook with an ax, while the latter was asleep, at the residence of Mr. Coy, in Pottawatomie Township. Both had previously kept an auction store at Burlington, and were on their way to Wyandotte, Kansas, at the time of the murder. Hedges was convicted of murder in the second degree and committed to the penitentiary for a term of twenty-one years. He was subsequently pardoned.

September 1877, E. M. Sharp, living on Big Creek, Neosho Township, blew the top of his head off by the accidental discharge of his gun.

April 8, 1878, Charles Best shot and killed Patrick Mahan, in a saloon broil, at Burlington, during the night of the celebration over the completion to Burlington of the Kansas City, Burlington & Santa Fe Railroad. Best was convicted of manslaughter in the third degree and sentenced to imprisonment for six months in the jail of Greenwood County.

June 29, 1878, Bradley P. Ford, a clerk in the Central House, Burlington, accidentally drowned while attempting to ford the Neosho River at Burlington. His body was not recovered until eight days after the drowning.

November 15, 1878, Theodore O'Leary, smothered to death in a coal pit, on his farm, in Rock Creek Township. He was buried alive in the pit by the caving in upon him of the roof.

June 25, 1879, Stephen L. Stouder, aged 33, drowned in a pool of water two feet deep, near Strawn. He is supposed to have been stricken with a paralytic fit.

October 28, 1879, Mrs. Worth Elliott, the youngest daughter of the deceased Gen. John B. Scott, burned to death, at the family residence, on Big Creek, ten miles west of Le Roy. Her clothes caught fire by the explosion of a coal oil lamp, which she was carrying in her hands. Her body was burned to a crisp.

January 21, 1880, Edwin S. Henderson, a resident of Burlington, burned to death in the office of the Cherryvale Globe, during its destruction by fire.

May 9, 1880, Henry Griffith drowned, while attempting to cross a ravine in the front of his residence, near Bangor, which had been filled with water by the bursting of a water spout.

May 26, 1880, Elisha Baldwin, aged 15 years, son of J. M. Baldwin, killed by lightning on Turkey Creek.

April 18, 1880, a tornado swept through the county, destroying houses at Strawn, Burlington and Waverly. No lives lost.

August 10, 1880, George Geisey, thrown from his horse and killed, in front of residence, near Le Roy.

April 29, 1881, five business houses destroyed by fire in Burlington, involving a loss of $15,000. The houses were owned by C. A. Clark, J. M. Allison, S. S. Freeman, H. G. Beatty and T. J. Goodwin.

May 16, 1881, John La Rue, killed by lightning, on his farm, four miles east of Burlington.

May 30, 1881, J. V. Blakely, aged 40, of Parsons, a freight conductor on the Missouri Pacific, crushed to death while engaged in coupling cars at Le Roy.

July 25, 1881, Leonidas Goodall, killed by a fall from the top of a load of hay, in Star Township.

June 23, 1882, William Olds, killed by the accidental discharge of his revolver, at the William Crotty Crossing of Big Creek. The revolver fell from his pocket while he was putting his head in the creek and the contents were discharged by the hammer striking a stone.

January 22, 1882, five business houses destroyed by fire at Waverly, involving a loss of $6,900. Among the houses destroyed was the hotel.


The population of Coffey, by townships, as taken by the County Assesor (sic) on the first of March, 1882, was as follows: Avon, 525; Burlington, 671; City of Burlington, 2,181; California, 975; Hampden, 574; Key West, 711; Le Roy, 1,071; Liberty, 835; Neosho, 648; Ottumwa, 920; Pleasant, 1,123; Pottawatomie, 551; Rock Creek, 992; Spring Creek, 516; Star, 457. Total in the county, 12,750.

The number of organized school districts in Coffey County, November 1, 1882, was 80; Number of districts sustaining public schools three months during the year, 78. Assessed valuation of all property in the county, $2,625,262.66. Average per cent, levied for school purposes, .01 1/4. Estimated value of school property, $75,000. Number of school buildings, 98. Number of school rooms, 110. Cost of maintaining schools during the year 1882, $30,761.11. Average length of the school year, 28 weeks. School population, 2,380 males and 1,871 females. Number of teachers employed, 51 males and 76 females.

The history of the formation of the several townships in the county is as follows: Pottawatomie, Ottumwa, California, Avon, Burlington, Le Roy and Neosho were established June 5, 1858, at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors at Hampden. At a meeting of the Supervisors November 3, 1859, the number of townships was reduced to four, viz: Avon, Le Roy, Ottumwa and Burlington. February 13, 1860, the seven townships were re-established as existed prior to November 3, 1859. Rock Creek was established October 3, 1870; Pleasant, Hampden and Liberty, February 6, 1871; Spring Creek, November 11, 1872; Key West, January 5, 1874; Star, April 18, 1874.

The first agricultural fair in the county was held on the farm of Henry W. Ela, near Burlington, October 9, 1860. The ladies that rode horseback for premiums at this fair were Mrs. Judge Kingsbury, Mrs. Packard, Miss Julia Kinzie, Miss Ann Heddens, and Miss Bundy. They were all awarded prizes by the judges.

The monster ox, weighing 3,000 pounds, that has been exhibited throughout the country in W. W. Cole's circus and menagerie, was raised on the farm of Crandall & Baldwin, in Coffey County.

In the spring of 1860, a hail storm visited Le Roy, in which were hailstones weighing a pound and a half. The stones went through the roofs and sides of houses like shot. Live stock was killed and many houses were damaged by the storm.

During the Price raid the Kansas Patriot, at Burlington, suspended publication from October 8 to November 5, 1864, everybody connected with the office having gone to the front. The editor was engaged in the battle of Westport.

Chronological: November 1, 1864, Captain Charles Puffer's company of militia was treated to a supper by the ladies of Burlington, on its return from the Price raid. Wednesday, November 2, 1864, six inches of snow on the ground in Coffey County.
-- December 2, 1864, Atherly Bros.' cotton gin arrived.
-- December 4, 1864, Company "E" Fifteenth Kansas, went into winter quarters on the Howard place, in Burlington. Curtis Johnson, Captain; John Smith, First Lieutenant; W. H. Bisbee, Second Lieutenant. Eighteen men, including three commissioned officers, were wounded in the Price raid. Capt. Johnson and Lieut. Bisbee were among the wounded. Three men died from their wounds.
-- January 2, 1865, Burlington ladies gave a dinner to Capt. Johnson's company.
-- January 2, 1865, John McWilliams died at Burlington. He was a blacksmith, could quote Shakspeare (sic) by the hour, had traveled all over the world, and was an original character. He was an uncle of Katy Putnam, the distinguished actress.
-- January 18, 1865, Captain Johnson's company broke camp and departed for Fort Smith.
-- February 25, 2865, Capt. Puffer, with his company of militia, seized 180 head of Indian cattle in possession of John Osborn and John McMahan, on the Verdigris.
-- March, 1865, ten thousand buffalo hides arrived at Orson Kent's store, Burlington, during the month.
-- April 3, 1865, an oyster supper given to Col. F. W. Potter by citizens of Burlington, in recognition of his services in destroying the traffic in Indian cattle. Resolutions of thanks to Col. Potter and Capt. Puffer's company of militia were adopted.
-- April 16, 1865, illumination of the houses of Burlington over the news of Lee's surrender. The issue of the Burlington Patriot of April 15th says: "The boys in town made the anvils crack like thunder on Thursday evening last, at the reception of the news of the surrender of Lee's Miserables. The air was clear and still, and the anvils seemed to partake of the enthusiastic sentiment that pervaded the hearts of the townspeople, for they never spoke more eloquently. For ourself, we felt as though we would like to have heard a million-pounder touched off, so the report could be heard in `hold Hingland,' to waken up the ideas of the people over there as to the true state of things on this side of the "big salty."
-- April 28, 1865, the Burlington Patriot appears in mourning over the death of Abraham Lincoln, who was assassinated on the night of April 14th.
-- April 17, 1865, organization of the Neosho Valley Immigration Society. S. S. Prouty, president; J. H. Howard, vice- president; Orson Kent, secretary; William Manson, treasurer; J. A. Walkling, Charles Puffer and C. L. Edwards, executive committee.
-- July, 1865, Le Roy granted a city charter by H. N. Bent, Probate Judge. A. V. Coffin, President; Ahijah Jones, A. V. Coffin, G. H. Dickinson, Thomas Crabtree and William Thornburg, Trustees.
-- July 15, 1865, a wild buffalo killed near the residence of Judge Enos Strawn. In California Township.
-- August 3, 1865, suit instituted in the District Court against F. W. Potter, Charles Puffer, Orlando Walkling, Charles L. Edwards and Thomas Arnold, by Silas Fearl, for damages to the amount of $2,500 by the forcible seizure by the defendants of Indian cattle, claimed to be the property of the plaintiff.
-- August 10, 1865, a free dinner was given by the people of Ottumwa to returned soldiers in Coffey County, and their wives.
-- January 24, 1866, Dr. J. C. Callaway, a former resident of Burlington, died at Oskaloosa, Iowa, of pulmonary consumption.
-- February 8, 1866, Almira, wife of W. A. Ela, of the Hampden colony, died near Hampden, aged fifty-one years.
-- March 30, 1866, death of the wife of Wesley Stubblefield.
-- May 30, 1866, married at the residence of S. S. Prouty, by Rev. W. H. Hickcox, A. D. Brown to Miss Katie C. Morey.
-- September 15, 1866, Isaac E. Olney, who published the Hampden Expositor, died at Garnett.
-- November 6, 1866, first daily mail from Ottawa to Le Roy, Burlington and Ottumwa.
-- February 23, 1867, the Burlington Patriot gets discouraged over the prospects of obtaining government aid for the Union Pacific Railway Southern Branch, and advocates the voting of $1,000,000 in bonds for the enterprise by the counties interested.
-- March 18, 1867, snow five inches deep in Coffey County.
-- April 4, 1867, J. M. Manson and William Throckmorton returned from a ten days' trip through the counties of Anderson, Franklin, Linn, Bourbon and Allen, in search of vegetables for the Burlington market, but without success. They could not even obtain forage for their horses.
-- April 24, 1867, a shock of earthquake felt in Coffey County.
-- May 11, 1867, market prices in Burlington as follows: Flour, $10 per 100 lbs.; corn meal, $2.50; potatoes, $3,50; pork and bacon 20 cts. Money exceedingly scarce, and grasshoppers hatching out and threatening destruction of crops.
-- May 20, 1867, a fall of snow in Coffey County.

[TOC] [part 6] [part 4] [Cutler's History]