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


[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]


Prior to the 7th day of August, 1872, Davis County constituted but one township. The board of County Commissioners on that date divided the county into two civil townships, to which they gave the names of "Smoky Hill" and "Jackson". Smoky Hill embraced all the territory in the county lying west of the east line of Range 5, and Jackson included all that portion of the county lying east of that line.

Milford Township.--This township was transferred from Riley to Davis County by act of the Legislature in 1873. This is the northwest township of the county. Its first settlers were Abram Barry, Marshall Barry and George Taylor, who settled in the township in 1855. The first school district was organized at Bacheller (now Milford) in 1859. In that year also, Clarke, Pierce and Bryan erected a saw-mill, and the first store in the township was opened by F. B. Smith at Bacheller in 1859. The first post office in the township was established in 1861, and named Bacheller, the building used for the office being the log cabin of Abram Barry, on Madison Creek, who was the first postmaster. The first marriage in the township was that of Albert Avery and Calista Whittemore in 1858. The first child born was Thomas J. Bartell, the date of his birth being September 17, 1859.

Smoky Hill Township.--This township was organized August 7, 1872. The first settler in the township was Thomas Reynolds, who settled there in 1853. The township embraces all that portion of the county lying between the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers from their point of junction to the west line of the county. Fort Riley is within the limits of this township. It was also in this township that the old town of Pawnee was situated, the founders of which were Col. Montgomery, U. S. A.; Surgeon W. A. Hammond, U. S. A.; Capt. Nathaniel Lyon, U. S. A.; Robert Wilson, Post Sutler, and Robert Klotz. The town was founded in the fall of the year 1854, but was destroyed by the military in 1855, owing to its being located on the military reservation. In 1854, J. R. McClure located at Pawnee, followed in March, 1855, by G. F. Gordon and Abram and Marshal Barry. A family by name of Fleming also resided in the township in 1854, as to this family is accredited the birth of the first child, which was born on December 20, 1854, and to which was given the name of John. The first merchant in the township was John T. Price, who established a grocery store at Pawnee in 1854. The first couple married in the township were Thomas Jenkins and Ella Wicks, October 1, 1855. The first post office was established at Fort Riley in 1853, with Robert Wilson as postmaster.

Jackson Township was named after General Andrew Jackson, and was created on the 7th day of August, 1872. When first organized it comprised more than half the territory of the county, but by subsequent subdivisions it has been brought down to its present dimensions, and now comprises only the northeast portion of the county. Among the first settlers in the township were Charles and John Briggs, with their mother, Catherine Briggs, C. M. Barclay, W. D. Poole, T. Donovan and John Westover, all of whom settled in the township from 1854 to 1856. The first settlements were made along McDowell's Creek, on account of the timber that skirts the stream. The first schoolhouse built in the township was in 1863, and Miss Ayers was the teacher. The first marriage in the township was that of James Tully and Ruth Briggs, in 1861. The first death was that of Mrs. McClelland, in January, 1864, and the first Justice of the Peace was T. Donovan, in 1861.

Liberty Township was organized on April 14, 1875. This is the southeast township of the county, and was formerly part of Jackson Township. The first settlement made in the county was by E. N. Church on Humboldt Creek, in June, 1857, followed shortly afterwards by Flavius Chase. The first marriage in the township occurred on January 10, 1860, the contracting parties being William H. Church and Matilda Cooper. The first birth in the township was that of Mary E. Church, which occurred on the 30th day of October, 1857. The first post office established in the township was in 1863, which was named Grant, and the first postmaster was E. N. Church.

Lyon Township was created on October 3, 1877, and embraces all that portion of territory originally included in Smoky Hill Township lying south of the Smoky Hill River. It is the southwest township of the county. The first settlement made in this township was by J. R. McClure, who pre-empted a claim at the mouth of Lyon Creek in December, 1854. Here, during that same winter, he erected a log cabin, into which he moved with his family in April, 1855. Bean, Cobb and McElroy came in 1855, and they were followed in 1856 by a number of Germans, who settled further up the creek. At the time of the first settlement of this township large herds of buffalo roamed over the country south of the Smoky Hill, and more than a year elapsed after her settlement before Mrs. McClure saw the face of a white woman. The first marriage celebrated in the township was that of William Staatz and Mary Recken, which took place in June, 1857. The first child born in the township was Ada McClure, in 1856. The township was named after General Lyon, who was killed at the battle of Wilson Creek.

Jefferson Township was organized October 29, 1878. This township was formerly embraced in Jackson Township. It extends the whole length of the county from north to south, and embraces all the territory included in Range 6, in Davis County south of the Kansas and Smoky Hill rivers. Jacob Spencer is accredited with being the first settler in the township, having located on Humboldt Creek in 1855. If Mr. Spencer was the first, he could not have much the start of several others, as we find a family named Beavers, and one named Berry, another Ransehoff, and still another named Booth, all there in 1855. The first marriage in the township was that of G. F. Gordon and Ruth Berry, in February, 1856. The first birth was that of William Beavers, October 30, 1855. The first store opened in the township was by N. S. Ransehoff, at Riley City, in 1855. The first post office in the township was established at Riley City in 1856, with Fox Booth as postmaster. The first school district in the township was organized on Clark's Creek, in 1862, by Riner Whitehair. Riley City has long since passed into the list of towns that were, and the site on which it once stood is used as a farm. During its short existence, however, it was quite important in a small way. It was there the first board of commissioners of Riley County met, in December, 1856, and it was also there that the first board of commissioners of Davis County met and held its first meeting, in March, 1857. There, also, G. F. Gordon built and kept the first hotel in the county, but now there is not a landmark to tell where it once stood. The first wheat raised in Davis County was in Jefferson Township, on Humboldt Creek, by Jesse Spencer.

County Officers, 1882.--Commissioners--John T. Hobbs, W. B. Lowe, Adam Belgert; Probate Judge--S. D. Underwood; County Clerk--P. V. Trovinger; Clerk of District Court--Jacob B. Callen; Treasurer--Reuben Emick; Sheriff--B. R. Kiehl; Register of Deeds--A. L. Barnes; Superintendent of Public Instruction--J. A. Truex; Surveyor--C. B. Stebbins; County Attorney--J. H. Franklin; Coroner--Dr. Max Kennedy.

County Officers, 1883.--Commissioners--Jno. T. Hobbs, Wm. B. Lowe, Geo. A. Taylor; Probate Judge--J. F. Ayars; County Clerk--P. V. Trovinger; Clerk of the District Court--J. B. Callen; Sheriff--B. R. Kiehl; County Attorney--James Kebner; Treasurer--Jno. S. Corgell; Register of Deeds--A. L. Barnes; Coroner--Dr. Max Kennedy; Surveyor--C. B. Stebbins; Superintendent of Public Instruction--J. A. Truex.


There are forty-one organized school districts in the county, and forty-two schoolhouses, making an average of seven to each township. As to material, the buildings are divided as follows: Stone, 25; frame, 15, and log, 2. With three or four exceptions, the surroundings of the school buildings exhibit no signs of taste or neatness; and but very few--in fact, none--have gone to the trouble of setting out trees to ornament the grounds or shelter the children during hours of recess. The buildings in themselves are good, but many of them are not even surrounded by a fence. The County Superintendent of Public Instruction reports that many schools are deficient in maps, charts, globes, and other apparatus. This seeming lack of interest in external matters does not extend to the method of giving instruction, because in visiting several of the schools, we found the deepest interest manifested by both teachers and pupils. In 1881, the school population between the ages of eight and fourteen years was 1,255, of whom 613 where males, and 642 females, while the total school population, embracing all between the ages of five and twenty-one years, was 2,333, of whom 1,228 were males, and 1,105 females. The number of pupils enrolled was 1,861, which, divided according to sex, gave 986 males and 875 females. The average daily attendance during the year was 1,109, the males being 567, and the females 542. As showing the interest taken in schools by the parents of children, it may be stated that of the school population between the ages of eight and fourteen years, there were only twenty who did not attend school three months during the year. The salaries paid to teachers averaged, to males, $34.25; females, $29.32. The average number of mills levied for payment of teachers' wages was seven, and for all school purposes, eight and one-half. There were seventy-one persons examined during the year for teachers, of whom five were rejected, and sixty-six of the number applying received certificates. The average age of the persons applying for teachers' certificates was twenty-three and one-half years, and the average age of those who received certificates was twenty-four years. The foregoing statistics have no reference to the schools of Junction City, where the graded school-system has been adopted. The number of persons of school age in the city in 1881 was 941, of whom 459 were males and 482 were females. The number of pupils enrolled was 779, of whom 385 were males, and 394 females. The average daily attendance was 501, averaging, according to sex, males 246; females 255. There were nine teachers employed, eight of whom were males, and one female. The number of months taught in the city schools during the year was ten. The total paid for teachers' wages in the city for the year was $2,865, and the salary of the principal was $900. The total current expenses for the year, including interest on bonds and repairs, was $6,236.86 and the cost per month, per capita of the average daily attendance, was $9.

Agricultural Society.--The Davis County Agricultural Society was organized on the 22d day of March, 1873, with John Davis as president, and N. F. Greene as secretary. Subsequent to this the society was re-organized under the name of the Kansas Central Agricultural Society, with Dr. Reynolds as president, and E. E. Heath as secretary. The first fair held by the society was in October, 1875, and in all respects was quite a success. Annual fairs have been held regularly by the society since that time, the seventh and last one held occurring on the 4th, 5th and 6th days of October, 1882. The interest manifested in these fairs has been increasing yearly, and they are now looked upon as the most interesting and attractive features of the county. Liberal awards are offered and made to exhibitors, and the spirit of friendly rivalry with which the agricultural classes enter into competition for prizes, gives a zest to agriculture and stock-raising, which adds greatly to the pleasure of farming, and makes it much more profitable. Monthly meetings of the society are held, at which essays on farming and stock-raising are read, and topics pertaining to agriculture thoroughly discussed. The society has a very fine fair-ground, containing forty acres, about three-quarters of a mile west of Junction City. One bad feature about it is that it is destitute of shade trees; but in a country where trees grow so fast as they do in Kansas, it will require but a few years to remedy this. The buildings erected for the exhibition of articles are well-built and commodious. A sufficiency of good, pure water for all purposes is obtained from a well upon the grounds, from which the water is pumped by a wind-mill. The grounds are enclosed by a tight board fence, inside of which is a very fine half-mile track. The last fair held was a great success, and the society is now in a most prosperous condition. The present officers are: C. E. Murphy, President; P. W. Powers, Secretary, and C. E. Murphy, John Wallace, F. O'Reilly, J. S. Coryell, George Heidel, John Davis, J. K. Wright, J. J. Blattner, S. T. Grant, H. L. Miller, and P. W. Powers, Directors.

Horticultural Society.--This society was organized in 1881, with William Cutler as president, and John Davis, acting secretary. That there has been a great awakening among the people within the last few years in regard to fruit culture is very evident, from the interest that is now taken in horticulture. Just prior to the opening of the State Fair, a meeting of those interested in the cultivation of fruit was held in the Tribune office at Junction City, when a grand exhibit of the different varieties of fruit raised was held. The exhibit of apples, pears and grapes, of which nearly every variety known was exhibited, was a surprise even to the people of Davis County, although all the fruit exhibited was raised within the borders of the county. For nearly three hours the office was crowded with visitors viewing and admiring the beautiful specimens, after which it was carefully boxed up and shipped to Topeka, to take its place among other exhibits at the State Fair. The society meets quarterly, when the merits and methods of horticulture are discussed in such a manner as to make the meetings both profitable and interesting. The society, it may be said, is yet in its infancy, but that it will be the means of creating increased interest in the culture of fruit is beyond question.

[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]