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


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


There are three lines of railroads running through Davis County--namely: the Kansas Pacific, which enters the county on the north at the dividing line between Ranges 6 and 7, from which point it runs along the north bank of the Kansas River, passing Fort Riley on its way, an crossing the Republican almost at its point of junction with the Smoky Hill. Its inclination is southwest, and from where it crosses the river until it reaches Junction City it runs almost due south. Leaving this point it takes a westward course, running parallel with the Smoky, on the north side of the stream, leaving the county at the west line, two miles west of Kansas Falls. This was the first line of railway that entered the county, crossing Three Mile Creek on the Military Reservation, in Davis County, on the 6th day of October, 1866, and reaching Pawnee two days later, when the first scream of the construction-train locomotive was heard in Junction City. On Saturday, the 10th day of November, one long to be remembered by the early settlers of the town, the first train of cars touched the town-site, and the people of Junction City were jubilant. The next railway in the county was the Union Pacific, Southern Branch, now known as the Missouri, Kansas & Texas. This road runs south from Junction City, and work was commenced at the north end of the road, or Junction City, in April, 1869. On May 6, the first locomotive arrived for this road, and sufficient track was laid on which to run eight or ten cars. This road is the means of communication between Davis County and the south.

The next road in the county was the Junction City & Fort Kearney, the contract for building which as far as Clay Center, in Clay County, was let on April 9, 1872, on which work was commenced on the 4th day of June following, and on the 8th day of November, track laying was begun. In the following February regular trains commenced running from Junction City to Clay Center, and these three roads--the Kansas Pacific running east and west, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, running south, an the Junction City & Fort Kearney, running north--comprise all the railways in the county at this date. The Junction City & Fort Kearney has its northern terminus now at Concordia, seventy-one miles north of Junction City.

If superior water-power privileges are all that is necessary to establish manufacturing enterprises, then Davis County ought to be the leading manufacturing place in the State. As yet, however, this vast power is allowed to go to waste. Virtually, this is the case, as the only use made of it is to run one or two flouring-mills. The first mill in the county, in point of importance, is owned by Mr. C. Fogarty, and is known as the "Star Mills." This mill is located on the south bank of the Smoky Hill, about three-fourths of a mile from Junction City. At the point on the river where the mill is built are great, rugged bluffs, which are hugged close by the water in its flow. Here Mr. Fogarty, in 1874, constructed a dam across the river, which has successfully stood the test of floods and ice-flows for eight years. It is what is known as a brush-dam, although over 100 cords of rock were used in its construction. At the western bank it is protected against washing by piling an rip-rapping. The dam is nine feet high, an the water-power is estimated at 250-horse. The mill is a substantially built frame building, 36x46 feet, and is four stories high. A little further up the stream was located the "Smoky Hill Mills," but a short time ago the building was torn down and the machinery sold. It was in this mill that two strangers were hung on the night of September 17, 1865. At that time it was used only as a saw-mill, but was afterward converted into a grist-mill. Some people are sufficiently superstitious to believe that the hanging of the two strangers had something to do with the bad luck that since that time attended the mill. Whatever the cause, certain it is that those who undertook it to run it afterwards lost money by the operation, until finally no one would take it, and after standing idle a long time, the owner had it torn down, as already mentioned.

On Clark's Creek, in Jefferson Township, there is a good water-mill, owned by Henry Mitchell. It is not a large mill and has only two run of burrs, but its capacity is sufficient to supply a large section of country.

The "Union Mills" are located at Milford, and are owned by A. B. Whiting. It is run by steam-power, its machinery and appliances being of the very best kind. It is quite an extensive establishment, with three run of burrs and ample accommodation for the storage of grain. Mr. B. A. Fullington is contemplating the early completion of a water grist-mill on Madison Creek, a short distance from the village of Milford, and with this object in view, has the dam already constructed. In 1881, R. M. and C. H. Miller erected a very fine steam flouring-mill in Junction City. All its machinery and apparatus is of the very best and of the most approved known to the milling business. The mill has four run of burrs, and is capable of making 300 barrels of flour a day. It runs almost continually and does an immense business. Those mentioned, comprise all the mills in the county at present, but that the superior water-power of the county, that now goes to waste, will, in the near future, be utilized to advantage and profit is almost beyond a doubt. At Kansas Falls, on the Smoky, near the western boundary line of the county is a water-power not excelled by any in the State. Why all this power should not be utilized is beyond comprehension. Davis County, and all those surrounding it, are admirably adapted to wool growing, and that woolen mills are not already established, is a mystery. There are also grand opening for paper mills, and the immense crops of corn would insure a rich profit to persons who would undertake the manufacture of starch and syrup. There is one cheese factory in the county, located in Jefferson Township, and owned by C. Boyer, in which is manufactured, annually, large quantities of cheese. There is also a creamery, known as the "Cedar Springs Creamery," located in the same township and owned by John K. Wright. That this can be made a highly lucrative business, is made plain by the great success met with by Mr. Wright in his undertaking, and from which he realizes large yearly profits. In Junction City there is quite an extensive wagon works, owned by C. P. Foglestrom. In addition to making wagons, all kinds of repairing in machinery is done. It is divided into departments, one for wood, another for iron, a third for painting, and still another for finishing. There is also a broom factory in Junction City, owned by John Louber, which employs several hands, and in which is manufactured all kinds of broom work, from the smallest hand-duster to the largest broom. The stone quarries in the neighborhood of Junction City might also be classed among the manufacturing industries of the county. From these quarries can be taken blocks of excellent magnesian limestone to almost any dimension, and a great deal of it is shipped to Kansas City and other places East, both in and out of the State, for building purposes. A great deal of the stone in the new State House, now in course of construction, was taken from the Junction quarries. In 1872, two stones weighing 10,000 pounds each, and two weighing 21,000 pounds each, were shipped from these quarries.


The growth in the population of the county has not been very rapid, at least it would appear so, if figures only are considered. In considering, not only the growth in population, but also the growth in material wealth, it must be borne in mind that Davis is a very small county, compared with almost every other county in the State, containing only 260,480 acres, or 407 square miles. When this is borne in mind, it will be seen that the county had advanced in population about as rapidly as any of those surrounding it, and more rapidly than many. In 1860 the population of the county was 1,163; in 1870 it was 5,526, being an increase in ten years of 4,363, being an average increase per year of 436 and a small fraction over. The State census of 1875, however, gave the population as 4,611, being a decrease in five years of 915, or nearly 200 per year. After this it takes an upward turn, and in 1878 had reached 5,382, showing a gain in three years of 771, or an average gain of 257 per year. The United State census of 1880 gives the population of the county as being 6,994, being a gain in two years of 1,612, or 806 per year. This is a wonderful growth, and those who are thoroughly acquainted with the facts and have every means of knowing, say that the growth in the last two years will exceed that of the two years preceding 1880, and estimate the population of the county now, 1882, as not less than 8,000.

The rapidity with which Davis County has advanced in material growth during the last decade, ought to satisfy those who, in the early struggles of its existence, were most sanguine and hopeful as to the future of the county. We will allow the figures to tell the story for themselves. The following table will show the total average of field crops each year, for the years 1872 to 1881, inclusive.

1872      1873      1874      1875      1876
24,415.50 23,005.50 22,805.25 30,131.37 30,147.50

1877      1878      1879      1880      1881
33,422.25 40,042.00 52,945.00 51,328.15 54,937.00

These figures indicate that during the nine years set out in the above table, the average in field crops in 1881 reached 3,053 acres, more than double the average of 1872. Now, if we compare the value of the crop of 1874 with that of 1881, we find that the former was valued at $582,124.78, and the latter at $1,510,922.20, showing a gain in seven years of $928,797.42. The year the 1874 is taken, because in that year was first attempted by the State Agricultural Department the work of compiling complete statistics. The returns of the different township assessors for the year ending March, 1882, which by law, are required to be filed with the county clerk in June of each year, show the following facts relative to Davis County. Number of acres in farms, 121,324; valued at $1,149,085. Number of farm dwellings erected during the year, 70; valued at $57,650. The total acreage in field crops was 54,947. Number of tons of tame hay cut in 1881 was 1,020, and the number of tons of prairie hay was 20,729. The value of garden products sold was $2,492, and of eggs and poultry sold, $7,503. The cheese produced in family and factory was 1,350 pounds, and of butter there was made 118,007 pounds. The value of milk sold, other than for cheese and butter was $2,691. There were in the county at the date of these returns, 3,385 horses, 190 mules and asses, 3,260 milch cows, 8,150 other cattle, 6,414 sheep, and 7,768 swine. By a comparison with the figures of 1878, we find that horses have increased 779, mules and asses 60, milch cows 1,112, other cattle 3,276, sheep, 6,253, and swine 4,649. These figures show a remarkable increase, and would indicate that, during the last three or four years, the people of Davis County have been advancing rapidly in material prosperity. The value of animals slaughtered, or sold for slaughter, in 1881, was $134,496, as against $81,898 for 1880. The number of pounds of wool clipped was 5,471, as against 262 for 1880. The number of apple trees in bearing in the county in 1881 was 9,636, against 4,033 in 1880; pear trees 841, against 616; peach trees 47,552, against 33,945; cherry 4,721, against 2,151. The trees not in bearing were: Apple 31,926, pear 1,916, peach 37,278, plum 2,147, cherry 7,824. There were rods of fence in the county as follows: Board 9,046, rail 17,859, stone 39,708, hedge 35,717, and wire 33,172, making a total of 135,502 rods, representing a value of $169,377. The people are commencing to manifest considerable interest in the cultivation of forest trees, and in 1881 there were in the county 66 acres of artificial forest walnut trees, 31 acres of maple, 8 acres of honey locust, 78 acres of cottonwood, and 150 acres of other varieties. The foregoing statistical figures render any further statements unnecessary touching upon the prosperous condition of the people and the development of the material wealth of the county.

RECORD ENTRIES:--The following are verbatim copies of a few of the entries made in the first kept record of Davis county:

"DAVIS COUNTY, Riley City, K. T., March 19, A. D. 1857. County commissioners court of said county. It was declared by said court that the following shall be the form of opening the court of Davis county, vize (sic), O yes !, O yes!!, O yes!!!, silence is commanded while the honorable court of Davis county is sitting. All those who have causes will please come forward and they will be heard--God save the Territory." From page 1.

"It was then agreed that all dramshops at Riley City be licensed to sell at Twenty two Dollars & fifty cents per annum. Where upon the court agreed that C. M. Barclay be appointed as the county treasurer for the term fixed by law in place of J. C. Fruit who failed to give bond." From page 3.

"It was then ordered that the clerk write notices to all ferries and dramshops to take license by 10th day of May or an action will be commenced at May term of court for Davis county against all that refuse to do so. The court then adjourned to meet at the May term being the third Monday of each month." From page 4.

"November-1857. "Commissioners court did not convene for Reasons unknown to the clerk, there fore all business was postponed until the Dec term."

"Feb 15 1858. "The next business was the Licenses of Dram Shop--Decision was, The court cannot Issue License until after an election has been held for the purpose of voting Dram Shop Or no Dram shop.

April 15, 1859. "On motion 4 Boxes be procured for Ballott (sic) boxes to be of the following dimentions (sic) to wit, Of Walnut lumber 3/4 inch thick 8x10. Eight by ten each large 8 inches high to be Dove-tailed together and sawed apart 2 inches from top or 1 & 1/2 inch from top with hinges lock & key to be done in work man like manner to be delivered by the first day of June 1859 by David E. Adams at $9.95 for all."

ASHLAND, Feb. 21, 1860 "Supervisors all present. When the Board ordered the following to be copied and a copy sent to the secretary of the territory. Whereas a Transcript copy of the Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors of Davis County in relation to township organization has been received from the Secretary of the Territory and has been laid before the present board and whereas the present Board has at the present session examined the Records of the Proceedings of said Board and fin (sic) that the Townshipping of Davis county as set forth in said Transcript has never completed as contemplated, and further that the clerk was never authorized to Transmit the report aforesaid by the Board according to the Recorded proceedings aforesaid and we the present Board Do hereby Declare that the Townshipping of Davis county was never completed according to law But remains One Township embracing the Limits of the whole county."


At the breaking out of the war, the population of Davis County, all told, was 1,163. What proportion of this population was subject to military duty cannot be ascertained. Probably half were exempt either on account of youth, age, or sex. If this were so, and it is not an unreasonable supposition, then there were in the county at the commencement of the war for secession 582 men. The people of Davis County, however, were not all of one mind as to the righteousness of the war, and while the sentiment was largely in favor of the Union, there were a few who favored secession, some of whom immediately went South and joined the Confederate army, and in fact one of the earliest settlers of the county, W. W. Herbert, was captured at the battle of Fair Oaks, he being at that time Colonel of a South Carolina regiment. Those who favored the Union, however, were not slow in responding to President Lincoln's call for men. Capt. J. R. McClure recruited a company of over fifty men in the early part of 1861, which became Company B, of the Second Kansas Infantry. His Second Lieutenant was James Downer, of Davis County. The Captain, on September, 1861, had a foot shot off in a skirmish at Shelbina, Mo., after which he returned home and was subsequently appointed Quartermaster of the Eleventh Kansas. Company G, of the Eleventh Kansas, was nearly all recruited in Davis County, although the Captain, N. A. Adams, was from another county. A. C. Pierce, of Junction City, went out with the Company in 1861, as First Lieutenant, and was afterwards promoted to Captain in 1864. Captain C. F. Clark and Captain E. S. Stover recruited nearly two full companies in the county, and besides these, a good many of Davis County men enlisted in other counties. Never was a call for men made to which Davis County did not promptly respond, and when the draft her quota was always promptly supplied. The best information obtainable sets down the number of men furnished by Davis County to the war at between four and five hundred, being nearly every man in the county subject to military duty.

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