JUDITH B. GLAD produced this selection.
William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas
was first published in 1883 by A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL.


PART 1: Location, Topography, Etc. | Map and Population | Early History
PART 2: County Organization, Elections and Official Roster | County Seat, Buildings and Railroads
PART 3: Winfield
PART 4: Biographical Sketches (Alexander - Curns)
PART 5: Biographical Sketches (Davis - Gunn)
PART 6: Biographical Sketches (Hackney - Lynn)
PART 7: Biographical Sketches (McGuire - Ross)
PART 8: Biographical Sketches (Schofield - Yount)
PART 9: Arkansas City | Biographical Sketches (Ayres - Christian)
PART 10: Biographical Sketches (Endicott - Moorhead)
PART 11: Biographical Sketches (Newman - Wright)
PART 12: Burden | Biographical Sketches - Silver Creek Township | Biographical Sketches - Windsor Township
PART 13: Udall | Dexter
PART 14: Tisdale | Liberty Township | Otter Township | Cedar Township | Spring Creek Township
PART 15: Silver Dale Township | Bolton Township | Beaver Township | Vernon Township | Pleasant Valley Township | Maple Township | Rock Township


COWLEY County takes its name from Matthew Cowley, First Lieutenant in Company I, Ninth Kansas Cavalry, who died in service at Little Rock, Ark., in August, l864. It was carved out of Hunter County by the Legislature of 1867, which defined it as running thirty-three miles north from a point on the south line of the State, 103 miles west of the State line, and extending thirty-four and a half miles west. At this time, the county was comprised in the "thirty mile strip," or Diminished Osage Reserve, and the three mile strip on the south line which had been reserved as a pathway for the Cherokees on their hunting trips to their more western possessions. The great Osage trail ran east and west across the county, entering at the Flint hills on the east, crossing the Grouse about two miles above Dexter, the Walnut at Winfield, and the Arkansas at the mouth of the Ninnescah. The villages of the tribe were at the latter crossing and on Timber Creek, a short distance above Winfield.

The county has an exceptionally large amount of bottomland, 33 percent of the whole surface being of that character. Forest occupies 6 per cent, and open prairie 94 per cent. The principal stream is the Arkansas, which runs southeast across the southwest corner of the county, and receives the waters of almost all the minor streams, including the Walnut. Other large streams are the Walnut, Beaver and Grouse, all running in a southerly direction. Each of these has a considerable width of bottom; the Walnut two miles, Grouse, Dutch and Rock Creek one mile each. The principal timber belts are found on the rivers; the Arkansas having a strip one mile in width, the Walnut and Grouse a quarter mile each and Timber and Rock Creek one-eighth of a mile. The varieties found in these belts are cottonwood, sycamore, walnut, oak and hackberry.

It need hardly be said that with these principal streams and a host of smaller tributaries, the county is well watered. Add to this the fact that pure, clear water is readily obtained at a depth of from fifteen to twenty-five feet east of the Walnut, and at from twenty-five to forty feet west of that river, and the exceptional good fortune of the county is apparent.

There are few counties in Southern Kansas which do not yield stone of some fair quality. In many sandstone predominates, and in others a bastard stone, half sand and half lime, is quarried. In none is there a finer quality than the pure magnesian limestone, which seems to underlie the whole of this county. This stone has the peculiar property of being so soft when first unearthed as to admit of sawing into any desired shape with an ordinary hand saw, but of becoming extremely hard after a brief exposure to the air. Many attempts have been made to discover paying coal veins, but have been thus far unsuccessful.

In April, 1872, a petition asking for the enforcement of the herd law was very numerously signed and presented to the County Commissioners, who ordered that it should be enforced from May 4 of that year. No effort has since been made to set aside this order, though it has been generally objected to by the stockmen.

In 1880, the prohibitory amendment to the constitution received a large majority of the votes cast in this county.



                       1870. 1880.                             2870.[sic] 1880.
                       ----- -----                             -----      -----
(a) Beaver Township            718 (n) Rock Creek Township       160      1,170
(b) Bolton Township          1,015 (o) Sheridan Township                    606
(c) Cedar Township             710 (p) Silver Creek Township                857
(d) Cresswell Township, including  (q) Silver Dale Township                 711
    Arkansas City        214 1,799 (r) Spring Creek Township                511
(e) Dexter Township            989 (s) Tisdale Township                     849
(f) Harvey Township            570 (t) Vernon Township                      952
(g) Liberty Township           747 (u) Walnut Township                    1,253
(h) Maple Township             581 (v) Winsor Township            79      1,028
(i) Ninnescah Township         677     Winfield City Township             2,844
(j) Omnia Township             461                              ----     ------
(k) Otter Township             446     Total                     550     21,538
(l) Pleasant Valley Township 1,099
(m) Richland Township     97 1,045     Arkansas City                      1,012

(a) Organized in 1871, from parts of Winfield and Cresswell (b) Organized in 1872, from part of Cresswell. (c) Organized in 1872, from part of Dexter. (d) In 1871, parts detached to form Beaver, Dexter, Pleasant Valley and Silver Dale; in 1872, parts to Bolton and Spring Creek; in 1875, part to Liberty. (e) Organized in 1871, from parts of Cresswell and Winfield and the territory published as Grouse Creek in 1870; in 1872, parts detached to form Cedar and Otter; in 1873, a part to Sheridan. (f) Organized In 1874, from part of Winsor. (g) Organized in 1875, from parts of Cresswell and Winfield. (h) Organized In 1872, from part of Rock Creek. (i) Organized in 1872, from part of Rock Creek. (j) Organized in 1873, from part of Richland, and part detached to form Silver Creek. (k) Organized in 1872, from part of Dexter. (l) 0rganized In 1871, from parts of Cresswell and Winfield. (m) Organized in 1871, from part of Rock Creek, and embraces territory published in 1870 as Timber Creek. In 1873, part detached to form Omnia. (n) In 1871, parts detached to form Richland, Vernon and Winsor; in 1872, parts to form Maple and Ninnescah; in 1873, part to form Walnut. (o) Organized in 1873, from parts of Dexter and Tisdale. (p) Organized in 1873, from parts of Omnia and Tisdale. (q) 0rganized in 1871, from part of Cresswell. (r) Organized in 1872, from part of Cresswell. (s) Organized in 1871, from part of Winfield. In 1873, parts detached to form Sheridan and Silver Creek. (t) Organized in 1871, from parts of Winfield and Rock Creek. (u) Organized in 1879, from parts of Winfield and Rock Creek. (v) Organized in 1871, from parts of Rock Creek and Winfield, and embraces territory published as Cedar Creek in 1870. Part detached in 1874, to form Harvey.


N. J. Thompson was, unwittingly, the first settler in Cowley County, having built a cabin near what he supposed the south line of Butler, in August, 1868. The survey showed him to be in Cowley County. Cowley County was as yet Indian land and all whites were intruders, yet, as it was evident that the land would soon be ceded, many attracted by the report of rich lands and ample timber and water, crossed the south line of Butler and took claims along the streams. In 1869, T. B. Ross and sons, James Renfro and sons, John and Joseph Stansbury, B. F. Murphy, T. A. Blanchard, S. B. Williams and F. W. Schwantes took claims on the bottoms of the Walnut a few miles above Winfield. In June, 1869, C. M. Wood penetrated as far as the west bank of the Walnut, nearly opposite the present city, and began selling goods to the Indians and settlers. The Indian greed for finery and provisions, and the knowledge that the tenure of the whites was insecure, soon led to a system of pilfering and intimidation that caused Wood to leave his stockade store and retreat to the Renfro cabin up the stream. In August all settlers were warned to leave the county, and all but Judge T. B. Ross did so. In June, 1869, P. Y. Becker put up a cabin two miles south of Winfield, and E. C. Manning took the claim which was later a part of the town site.

Although the Osages had threatened the settlers and driven them out they did little more than burn Wood's stockade, and in September the settlers began to drift back, bringing fresh accessions with them. Among those who came at this time were C. M. Wood, Prettyman Knowles, James H. Land, J. C. Monforte, W. G. Graham and others. In December of the same year, W. W. Andrews, H. C. Loomis, A. Meanor, A. Howland and Joel Mack took claims near Manning's, who, the same month, opened a store in his log cabin. In January, 1870, a party of fifteen men, consisting of Thomas, John and William Coates, Joseph Reynolds, Gilbert Branson, Henry Branson, Winton, I. H. and O. J. Phenis, H. Haywood, L. B. Bullington, T. J. Raybell, D. T. Walters, S. S. Severson and John Nichols took claims along the Grouse. In the same month, the members of the Walnut City Town Company (organized in Emporia to lay out and push the town which should be the future center of the county), reached Winfield and camped near the present iron bridge. Their purpose was to locate at the junction of the Arkansas and Walnut, which the crude maps of the day showed to be near the center of the county. When the real lay of the land was ascertained, they took five claims near where Winfield stands, and then proceeded to hunt up the point of confluence. This was, of course, found near the present site of Arkansas City and the settlers, giving up their Winfield claims, settled below and started their town. All this time, the settlers who were on Indian land had paid head money, similar to that now exacted in the Indian Territory, to Chetopa, the Osage chief. On July 15, 1870, the Osage lands were opened for settlement and bona fide claims were at once entered.

Every old settler of Kansas has a store of anecdotes concerning the few months in 1874 and 1875, which have come to be known as grasshopper years. These anecdotes are as much the "folk lore" of Kansas as those of Uncle Remus of the lands of the South. Their relation would, however, be out of place here and we leave them to the pen of some one of a vivid imagination and not too close adherence to the unvarnished facts which form the basis of history. Their advent took place in August, 1874, the swarm coming from the northwest in such countless numbers as to form a cloud which obscured the sun. Dropping down upon the scanty fields which the drought had left, they made, what it seemed hardly probable the settlers would do afterward, a hearty meal, deposited their eggs and left the county. Everything green was ravaged, the only crops saved being a few fields of corn which had been planted so early as to be already matured. Early the following season, the eggs hatched out and the fears of the settlers were renewed, but the young hoppers left the county without inflicting any damage. It would be difficult to estimate the damage done by this incursion. The newer settlers were already discouraged by the scanty rains of 1874 and the meager crops which were about to reward their hard labor, and when they saw all destroyed, they abandoned their claims by hundreds and left not only the county, but the State. Early in 1874, the population of the county was in round numbers 10,000; a year later it had fallen far below that figure, and it was not until two years later that it again reached that point.

From this time the county gained rapidly in population, and in 1879 had an enumeration of 21,549. With 1880 came a disastrous drought, which entailed great suffering among all classes, and particularly among those who were planting their first crops: Another exodus was the result of this loss, and the population diminished about 2,000. The crops of 1881 were fair and those of 1882 were exceptionally good, and although no recent enumeration has been made the loss has probably been more than overcome, although the Assessor's figures for 1882 give only 20,500. This is an increase over that taken in the same way in 1880, although less than the National census figure of that year.

[TOC] [part 2] [part 1] [Cutler's History]