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


[TOC] [part 12] [part 10] [Cutler's History]


Opolis is situated in the extreme southeastern part of Crawford county, on the Girard Branch of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad.

A town was laid out at this point in 1868, by J. L. Davis and E. B. Hoyt, called State Line. It was so named from the fact that it lay immediately upon the line between the States of Missouri and Kansas. The cause which gave rise to its establishment was the apparent certainty of the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad being constructed along this line, which was not only talked of, but even the preliminary survey was made. The town site was laid off and four houses were built before anything was done toward the construction of the road. J. L. Davis had the honor of building the first two houses, one of which was used for a hotel and store, and the other was a dwelling. Then E. B. Hoyt and J. H. Gould erected a storeroom, in which they put a stock of goods. Following this, G. W. Scott erected a residence building. With this the building of the town ceased, since all the bright prospects were defeated. The railroad, instead of being built on the State line was located and built several miles to the west, thus leaving the town far inland, so far as the road was concerned. In 1876, the Girard & Joplin Railroad was built, passing through the town. This road was afterward sold to the St. Louis & San Francisco Company and is now a branch of that road. This gave a new impetus to the building of the town. The site was re-surveyed in July, 1877, on lands owned by J. L. Davis and E. B. Hoyt. The name Opolis, a Greek word meaning city, was given to the town for the reason of its being a rare and odd name.

A rapid growth ensued, so that by the end of the year 1877 the town numbered several business houses and a population of about 200.

The post office was established in 1877; J. H. Osborn was the first Postmaster. He was succeeded by T. L. Holden. The first school was taught in the district schoolhouse, which stood about one and one-half miles east of the town. A school building was erected in what is called West Opolis, in 1881, in which the first school was taught by Mrs. Hicox and Mrs. Bishop. A schoolhouse was built in East Opolis in 1882, in which Miss Campbell, of Carthage, Mo., taught the first school. The present school population of the town is about 100. The town contains two church organizations, the Methodist and Quaker; both of which have buildings. There are also two society organizations, the Odd Fellows and Good Templars.

A small mill was built in 1880 by __ Stroup. It contains two run of stone, and is operated in the manufacture of flour, meal and feed.

In 1881, Dr. C. A. Lynga made an addition on the east side of the town, just across the Missouri line. On this addition are several buildings, among which are one drug and one general store and three saloons. The following is a summary of the business houses of the entire town: Two drug, five general, two grocery and one furniture store, two hotels, one meat market, one harness shop, two lumber yards, two barber shops, two livery barns, three blacksmith shops, one shoe-maker shop, three physicians, one Justice of the Peace and three Notaries.

The increase of population has been highly encouraging, now numbering about 500. The town is favorably situated in the midst of a fertile and thrifty farming community, from which is sustained a brisk and flourishing business.


L. G. BISHOP, livery and grain dealer, was born in Kentucky in 1850, and lived on a farm in that State until he came to Kansas in 1877, and located in Crawford County, where he engaged in the stock businesss. He bought a farm of 509 acres, which is now worth $12,000, and has about one hundred head of cattle, worth $2,000. He was married to Miss Liddie M. Grubbs, of Kentucky, in 1876. Mrs. Bishop died in 1881, leaving one child---Mirtle M.

J. H. GOULD, grain and stock-dealer, was born and reared in Adam County, Ill., and was identified with the farming and stock-raising industry there. In 1862, at the age of twenty-one, he enlisted in Company C, Seventy-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and did active service until the close of the war, when he was discharged honorably. During his war service he was in Andersonville Prison for four months. In 1868, he located here and carried on farming and stock-raising successfully until 1882, when he retired from it. In 1878, he established his present industry, and has successfully operated it since. He married, in 1866, Miss S. J. Hoyt, who was born in Orange County, N. Y., and reared in Adams County, Ill., and who departed this life in 1867, and is buried in the Pulaski Cemetery, Ill., leaving one daughter--Jennie B. In 1874, he married Miss S. E. Michie, a native of Canada. They have a family of one son and two daughters--Emily R., Ina E. and Benjamin. He has worked actively in the development of the social and industrial life of his locality since coming here. He is the present Notary Public and Justice of the Peace, which position he has held reputably for several years. He is also an active member of the I. O. O. F. Society.

HON. E. B. HOYT, dealer in dry goods, clothing, boots and shoes, hats and caps, hardware and queensware, was born and reared in Adams County, Ill., and graduated in a thorough classical course of study from Knox College, Ill., in 1866, at the age of twenty-four. In 1868, he located here and engaged in farming and stock-raising, which he carried on successfully until 1877, when he retired from it and assisted very materially in organizing the present town, after which he engaged in his present industry, and has very successfully operated since. In 1876, he represented this district in the Legislative Assembly of the State. He has worked actively in the development of the social, public and industrial life of his locality since coming here and has besides his official position already mentioned filled many minor municipal official positions of honor and trust. He is an active member of the I. O. O. F. Society. The family are members of the M. E. Church. In 1870, he married Miss Melissa A. Embree, who was born and reared in Monroe County, Mo., and was educated in McGee College, Mo. Mr. and Mrs. Hoyt have a family of one son and daughter living--May and Ebenezer, and have buried one son--James Reynolds, in the Crocker Cemetery, Opolis.

GEORGE W. HILL, of the firm of Weaver & Hill, dry goods, clothing, boots and shoes groceries and queensware. Mr. Hill was born and reared in Wayne County, Mo. At the age of twenty in 1875, he engaged as baggage master with the "Frisco" Railway; learned telegraphing soon after, which he actively followed until 1881, when he joined the present partnership which he ably represents. He married in 1881 Miss Kate Branham, of Missouri; he is a member of the I. O. O. F. society here.

THEODORE L. HOLDEN, Postmaster and express agent, was born in Wisconsin in 1852, he was raised in Missouri, and was engaged in mining in Joplin three years. He then went to Galena, where he was in the mines for two years, coming to Opolis in 1878, where he was in the grocery business three years, and was appointed Postmaster March 25, 1881. He is a member of the I. O. O. F. Married Miss L. Branham, of Missouri, in 1873. They have two children---Bennie A. and Claude C.

ISAAC A. HOPKINS, farmer and furniture dealer, was born in Kentucky in 1834. He was raised on a farm in Indiana, where he remained until the age of thirty-eight, at which time he came to Kansas and located near Girard on a farm; he remained one year and then came to Opolis, rented a farm and lived on it four years, and then bought eighty acres which he improved and is still cultivating. In 1881, he opened a furniture store in Opolis, which he is now operating in connection with his farming; he owns three houses and lots in Opolis, forty acres of land three-fourths of a mile from the town, and eighty acres one mile from town. He is now Clerk of the School Board, and is member and Trustee of the Methodist Church. He was married to Mrs. Julia A. Muck, of Indiana, in 1866, and has two children--John E. and Clara L.

E. M. Karr, dealer in dry goods, groceries, boots and shoes, hats and caps. Mr. Karr is a native of Iowa. At an early age he came to Kansas with his people, who settled in 1857. He was identified at first with farming and stock-raising, but latterly engaged in merchandising, which he has successfully operated, locating here in 1882. In 1882, he married Miss Jennie Swan, who was born and reared in Clark County, Ind., and who settled in Miami County, Kan., with her parents in 1872.

WILLIAM H. LANDY, real estate, loan and insurance agent, was born in Kentucky in 1836. At the age of nineteen he began clerking in a store, and was engaged in that occupation and teaching school ten years. He came to Missouri in 1868, and to Kansas in 1881, locating in Opolis, and where he was employed as clerk until 1882, when he opened his present business. He is a member and Elder in the Christian Church. Was married to Miss Mary A. Cole of Iowa, in 1876, and has three children--Jolene, Luther and Edgar.

DR. A. C. LYNGAR, druggist, was born in Missouri October 15, 1846. he was raised on a farm, and he received a business and medical education, graduating from Missouri Medical College in the class of 1876. He practiced at Millard, Mo., two years, and at Coon Creek four years; moving to Opolis, Jasper Co., Mo., in 1879, where he purchased land, laid out the town in 1880, and commenced his present business. Dr. Lyngar owns a grain and stock farm adjoining Opolis, one in Greene County, Mo., and one in Bourbon County. Is a member of A., F. & A. M. and I. O. O. F. He was married to Miss Adis Steidle, of Missouri, in 1867; has six children--Edline, Ottis, Harry, Estella, Noble and Julia.

DANIEL W. MORRIS, merchant, was born in Indiana in 1848. He was brought up on a farm, received a fair education and taught school in Indiana two terms, afterward farming until 1880. He was then in the grocery business one year; and in 1882 came to Kansas, located in Opolis, and commenced his present business. He now owns a farm of 120 acres and his business property. He is a member of the Baptist Church, and was married to Miss Sarah E. Miller, of Ohio, in 1871. They have three children--Sarah A., Annie E. and Thomas.

R. E. VERMILLION, drugs, books and stationery, was born in Lawrence County, Mo., in 1855, and received his rudimentary and literary education in the public schools of his nativity. In 1876, he engaged at drug merchandising in Medoc, Mo., and carried it on successfully there till 1878, when he located here, and has very successfully operated his present industry since. In 1875, he married Miss Fannie Mills, of his native county. Mr. Vermillion is an active member of the I. O. O. F. society here.

J. C. WEIBLEY, M. D., was born in Woodstock, Shenandoah Co., Va., in 1819. He received his literary education at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Penn., and his professional at the University of Columbia, D. C., now known as the "National Medical College." In 1844, he began the practice of his profession in his native State, and prosecuted it actively there till 1854, when he came to Kansas, and has been principally identified with the practice of his profession in the State since. During the late civil war he did active service both in the field and professionally. He married Miss Sophia C. Allen, of his nativity. Dr. Weibley has always worked for the advancement of the public, social and industrial life of the locality in which he lived. He has been an active member of the A., F. & A. M. society since 1844. He and his wife are members of the R. C. Church, of which his wife is a regular communicant.

G. T. WILLIAMS, M. D., was born in Putnam County, N. Y., in 1850, and located with his people in Wisconsin in 1855. He received his literary education in the River Falls Academy, and his professional at Red Wing, Minn., in a course of private lectures during 1872-73-74. In 1877, he began the practice of his profession in Lawrence County, Tenn., and carried it on successfully there until December, 1882, when he located here. He married in 1878, Miss Clara E. Williams, who was born in Bureau County, Ill., and reared in Polk County, Wis. They have a family of two daughters--Ida P. and Cora M.


Cherokee is situated on the southern part of Crawford County twelve miles south of Girard, at the crossing of the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, by the branch running from Fort Scott to Cherryvale, formerly the narrow gauge, but now a part of the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad. The town dates its beginning from the early part of 1870, when the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad was in process of construction. Various points were established along the line of the road for the accommodation of construction hands, in supplying them with provisions etc. The first institution of this sort, and the first building on the town site, was a small box house erected by William Sharp. This was occupied as a store room in which was kept a stock of groceries, feed, and bad whisky. In a short time after this, the railroad section house was built.

It became necessary for the company to give names to these various boarding stations, along the line as it was built, for purposes of facilitating the consignment of supplies. This place was supposed to lie just within the north line of Cherokee County, and from this took the name Cherokee. It was afterward discovered to be in Crawford County instead of Cherokee.

The land which forms the site of the town was originally the property of John J. Hoke and John G. Knox, by whom it was entered and deeded.

The country, at this time, was sparsely settled, and the land was held at a very low price.

The town site was donated to the railroad company, by which the original plat was surveyed and laid off in April, 1870. Through the attraction of a naturally fertile and promising country, and the extravagant advertisements of the railroad company, was induced a rapid influx of settlers. The town occupying a favorable position received a proportionate share of emigration. At no time has it, by any cause, been impelled to unnatural and inordinate growth, having from the beginning progressed with the natural demands as a point of trade and supply. For this reason the growth has always been healthy, stable and permanent. As the surrounding country, which is finely adapted to agriculture, improves the town, also progresses to a suitable degree.

The city has a population of about 1,200, and is an active trading point, full of thrifty, enterprising and energetic business men.


The first marriage ceremony was performed in the town by Capt. Jamison, Justice of the Peace. The contracting parties were a Mr. Cook and a widow lady living on Cow Creek. The bridal procession consisted of the two parties in wagon drawn by an ox team. The compensation for the performance of the ceremony consisted of two bushels of potatoes and half a dozen chickens.

The first marriage of resident young people was that of Jared Bartee and Miss Sarah Nance.

The first birth was that of Willie Manlove, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Manlove, in the summer of 1870. In the following spring, he died, which was the first death.

The first saloon was kept by Tom McGraw.

The first lawsuit was that of Thomas Pursell against John Pennington. The action was brought against the latter for "jumping a claim," to which the former claimed title. The case was adjudged in favor of the defendant. The defendant's attorney was E. A. Perry, who afterward said that neither of the parties to the suit had title to the land.

The post office was established in Cherokee in 1870. W. R. Sharp was the first Postmaster. The office has since been held by Joseph Lucas, S. Manlove, and since April 1, 1878, by J. C. Gove, the present incumbent.

The first school taught in this vicinity was that established in 1870, by Capt. Jamison. During the summer of that year Jamison built a house about a mile south of the town, furnished the teacher, his daughter, now Mrs. M. H. Alberty, and books to those unable to procure them, free of charge. A mounted herald was sent abroad through the land proclaiming its establishment and inviting all who wished to come and drink from this Pierian Spring.

This, in truth was a "free school," since Jamison furnished its support and extended its accommodations to all the children of the neighborhood without charge. The average attendance was about thirteen.

The first school in the town was taught in 1871, by Miss Sarah Jamison, Now Mrs. E. A. Perry. It was kept in the old section house. The attendance was extremely small, the enrollment numbering seven, and the school was short continuance. A school building was erected in 1872. The plan of the house was only one story, upon which the lodges erected a second story. This building continued in use for school purposes until the completion of the new schoolhouse in the latter part of 1882. It is a large two-story brick structure of elegant design and finish, costing about $8,000.

The schools, enrolling 324 pupils, comprise four departments, under charge of as many teachers, as follows: C. E. Cory, principal and teacher of the higher grade; E. E. Shafer, teacher of the first intermediate; Matie Wilkinson, teacher of the second intermediate, and Jennie Coman, teacher of the primary department.


Christian sentiment early found expression and promulgation in this section. Perhaps the first public organization of this sort was that of the Union Sunday school, which was made early in 1870. Thomas Graham was the first Superintendent, and the exercises were conducted in a hay shed on Mr. Heiner's farm. During the summer it was held in Jamison's schoolhouse.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1872, by Rev. B. Combs, with a membership of six. It was effected in the school building, in which services were held until the erection of a church house in 1874. It is a one-story frame, 36x68 feet, and cost $2,700. A parsonage was built in 1878. It is a neat frame cottage costing $600. The membership of the congregation is 110. The following is a list of the names of the pastors who have labored in this charge: B. Combs, C. A. King, H. Carter, T. Audas, James Murrey and W. T. White.

The Christian Church was organized March 24, 1877, by Rev. E. R. Childers, of Fulton, Mo. The church began with twenty-one members and now has forty. The organization and early services were conducted in the Methodist Church. Meetings are now held in the Presbyterian Church.

The United Brethren Congregation was organized in 1875. In 1879 the church building was finished. The body at present is without a regular pastor.

The Presbyterian Church was organized in 1876. The church was built in 1880. The building was finished with a steeple, which was blown off by a wind storm, July 3, 1882, doing considerable damage to the entire structure. The colored people have an organization and hold meetings in the United Brethren church building.

The city contains three secret organizations, the Odd Fellows, Ancient Order of Workmen and the Masonic.

The Cherokee Lodge, No. 107, I. O. O. F., was instituted March 24, 1872 by District Deputy Grand Master N. Sennett, of Girard. The lodge began with seven charter members and nine initiates. The present membership, in good standing is forty.

The Cherokee Lodge, A., F. & A. M., was instituted in October, 1873. This order contains a membership of fifty, in full standing.

The Lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen was organized in August, 1879, and now has a membership of forty-five, in full and regular standing. The Odd Fellows and Masons together own a hall, in which all the lodges hold their meetings.


The Cherokee Pharos was taken from Girard to Cherokee in May, 1874, by W. K. Goode. It was continued at this place only till the fall of the same year, and, in September, was returned to Girard.

The Cherokee Index was started by Mrs. Mary A. Spring June 3, 1875. In July of that year, H. C. Brandon became editor, who in a few weeks was succeeded by P. J. Coston. After editing the paper until November 5, 1875, Coston gave up the editorship. On the 17h of December, Mrs. Spring sold out to G. W. B. Hoffman and John T. Metcalf. In April, 1875, Metcalf sold his interest to Hoffman, by whom the paper, which had hitherto been published as an Independent sheet, was converted into a Democratic organ. March 16, 1878, Metcalf bought back his interest and re-formed the partnership. On September 21, 1878, it was taken to Columbus, Cherokee county.

The Young Cherokee was established by H. H. Webb and H. L. St. Clair, two boys. It was started as a small amateur concern, the number of which appeared May 13, 1876. St. Clair retired in June, and, in the following month Webb largely increased the size of the sheet. At the time of the great lead excitement at Short Creek, in the spring of 1877, the paper was taken to that place, the first issue being made May 26, 1877. The paper afterward became the Mining Echo.

The Cherokee Banner was started in the fall of 1877, the first issue appearing on the 6th of October. H. H. Webb was also the founder of this paper. It was purchased July 12, 1878, by S. Smith, who continued its publications. The paper finally suspended.

The Temperance Rural was established July 4, 1878, by J. F. St. Clair and J. S. Moore. It was devoted to the advocacy of temperance, but was subsequently suspended.

The Cherokee Sentinel was established in April, 1879, by Charles M. Lucas. It was begun as a four-column quarto, but at the end of the first year was enlarged to an eight-column paper. New presses, machinery and material have since been added. Besides the publication of the paper, considerable job work is also done. The paper since its beginning has enjoyed a constantly increasing patronage and prosperity, and has become one of the firmly established institutions of the city.

There is but one monetary institution in the place. This is the banking firm of G. W. Pye & Co. The business of the firm began in October, 1881, since which time they have conducted a prosperous business. G. W. Pye is the head of the concern and J. C. Smith is Cashier.

The Cherokee Flouring Mill was built in 1871 by Alberty & Vaughan. The cost of the building, machinery, etc., was about $20,000. It contains three run of stone, etc., and a steam corn-sheller. The mill is held under lease by the firm of Morley & Moore, who are engaged in its operation.

The Anchor Flouring Mill, the property of S. E. Leigh, was built in 1873. It contains two run of buhrs, and is operated in connection with a flourishing business.

The Cherokee Machine Shops were established in 1874 by Frank Webster. They were begun as a blacksmith shop, and gradually machinery was added. The shop contains a lathe, polishing and grinding machinery, drill press, full set of pipe tools, etc. The whole is run by a ten-horse power engine. This enterprise, it is safe to predict, is the ground work for machine shops of considerable magnitude in the future.

A broom factory was established in 1882 by Edward & Robertson. They run two machines, and are turning out considerable work of an excellent quality.

[TOC] [part 12] [part 10] [Cutler's History]