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


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


Oberlin, the county seat and principal town of Decatur County, is situated near the geographical center of the County, on section 1, town 3, range 29. The site was preempted in 1873 by John A. Rodehaver. The plat was laid out in 1878, and in September of that year the village consisted of one sod and one frame store, a log hotel and a log blacksmith shop. A frame and a sod house were also in process of construction. Mr. Van Wormer opened the first general store, but soon sold his stock to J. W. Allen & Son. R. A. Marks was the next man who ventured in the mercantile trade, and subsequently became engaged in banking. Business of almost every kind is now started in the place.

The population numbers about 300, and the school report for the month ending February 8, 1883, shows 36 pupils in the primary grade and 31 pupils in the higher department. The first birth in the town was a son to Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Allen, January 7, 1879.

There is a daily mail from Oberlin to Grainfield, Gove County, which leaves at 6 A. M., arrives at 6 P. M. One from Oberlin to Indianola, the county seat of Red Willow County, Nebraska, on the B. & M. railroad; one from Oberlin to Lenora, Norton County, the terminus of the C. B. division of the Missouri Pacific. There is a semi-weekly mail from Oberlin to Colby; a tri-weekly from Oberlin to Norton, and one from Oberlin to Atwood, the count seat of Rawlins. By an arrangement effected in February, 1883, all mail for Oberlin, east of the Missouri River is transferred to Atchison, thus advancing it three hours.

The Independent Volunteer Cavalry Company (State Militia) of Oberlin was organized December 12, 1882. The company numbers thirty, with L. G. Parker as First Lieutenant.

Oberlin now has two church organizations, John Wilson being the Presbyterian minister and I. L. Day, the Methodist. There is one hotel, J. A. Rodehaver, proprietor; a bank, R. A. Marks, banker; one newspaper, the Oberlin Herald, W. D. Street, editor; eighteen or twenty stores and shops of various kinds and a full corp of lawyers and physicians. Wm. Hollowell is postmaster.

The Northern Land District is taken from the Northwestern district, and its office is at Oberlin. Thomas H. Cavanaugh, register; Charles E. Chandler, receiver; Edmund Martin, chief clerk.

The district comprises 3,878,400 acres of land, the larger portion of it subject to settlement, as except its school lands, and that already taken by settlers. About ten per cent of it is open. Decatur, Rawlins, Cheyenne, Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan, Graham and Norton Counties, all have to do with the Land office at Oberlin.


The New England Society was organized at Oberlin in 1878. G. Webb Bertram, President; George Wilson, Secretary. At its second annual meeting, held December 20, 1879, the following named persons were chosen officers: President, N. G. Stever; First Vice-President, George A. Metcalf; Second Vice-President, D. N. Kilburn; Secretary, William H. Hawes; Treasurer, Miss Ella Stever.

Mountain Slope Lodge, No. 183, A., F. and A. M., was duly organized on December 15 1879, under a charter granted by the Grand Lodge of the State, by Deputy Grand Master John Bissell, of Phillips County. The officers elected for 1880 were: E. D. Stillson, W. M.; H. D. Colvin, S. W.; J. B. Hitchcock, J. W.; W. H. Nelson, S. D.; W. A. Frazier, J. D.; G. Webb Bertram, Secretary; C. F. Johnson, Treasurer; J. F. Vale, Tiler. For 1883, A. Bariteau is W. M.; George Darlinson, Secretary.

Oberlin Lodge No. 158, I. O. O. F. -- in September, 1879, L. G. Parker was N. G. Ed. L. Beckwith Secretary, of this Lodge; in 1880, M. Wright, N. G., J. A. Rodehaver, Secretary; in 1881, J. A. Rodehaver, N. G., A. W. Allen, Secretary; in 1882, A. W. Allen N. G., W. A. Hallowell, Secretary; in 1883, W. A. Hallowell, N. G., Frank Douglass, Secretary.

Old Settlers' Association -- A number of the old-timers, who had settled in the county prior to 1876, met at Chapman's Hall at Oberlin, January 1, 1883, and sat down to a sumptuous repast, a quarter of buffalo meat being on the bill of fare. The officers of the Association for 1883 are: President, Van B. Wiggins; Vice-Presidents, J. W. Allen, Warren Jennings, J. J. Koefer and Frank Kimball; Secretary, N. G. Addleman; Treasurer, George M. Miller. It was voted to hold the next reunion in October, 1883.


J. W. ALLEN, merchant, was born in Allegheny County, N. Y., September 15, 1835, where, at an early age, e entered a carriage shop in the trimming department, at which he worked until 1855, when he went to Exeter, Wis., where he worked at farming for a year and a half, and then at harnessmaking until 1858, when he moved to Delhi, Iowa, where he again engaged in harnessmaking until August 15, 1861, when he enlisted as a private in the Fourth Iowa Vol. Cavalry. Discharged as a member of the regimental band, July 16, 1862, under an order from the War Department; returned to Exeter, Wis. where he enlisted as a private, August 15, 1862, in Company F, Thirty-first Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. Discharged February 21, 1865, to accept Second Lieutenant's commission. Finally discharged June 12, 1866, at Madison, Wis. He then went to Brodhead, Wis., where he established a harness and trimming shop, which he ran until the spring of 1873, when he went to Colorado, were he remained until July 3, 1873, when he moved to Lawrence, Kan., where he stayed until July 15, 1873, when he started for Decatur County, Kan. where he arrived July 27, 1873, when he located on Sections 33 and 34, the land he afterward pre-empted, and where he resided as a farmer and stockdealer until the fall of 1877, when he moved to Oberlin and established his present business. He was married September 15, 1856, to Miss Harriet L. Witter. To them has been born four children, Arthur W., Edith M., Grey C., Oberlin C. Was commissioned as Captain by the Governor of Wisconsin April 14, 1866, but not mustered.

A. W. BARITEAU, physician and surgeon, was born in Martinsburgh, Lewis County, N. Y. May 10, 1836, where he resided until January, 1869. While a young man he taught school and surveyed, and during the winter attended lectures at Long Island Hospital, and up to 1859, for two years previous, read medicine with Dr. Crosby of New York, and Dr. J. C. Hutchinson, of Brooklyn, N. Y., and from 1859 to August, 1862, he was egged in surveying. On the 7th of August, 1862, he enlisted in Company I, 5th N. Y. Artillery; September 11, 1862, promoted to Company Q, M. Sergeant, and February 21, 1863, promoted to 1st Lieutenant; detailed as signal officer July 22, 1864 in department West Va.; on May 12, 1865, assigned to duty as Assistant Commissary of Muster at Cumberland, Md.; mustered out Sept. 25, 1865. Returned to New York where he engaged in surveying, until 1869, when he moved to Savannah, Mo., where he engaged in the lumber business until 1870, when he moved to Maryville, Mo.; in 1878 he moved to Oberlin, Kansas, were he has since been in practice of medicine. Also from September, 1878 to May 1 , 1881, he was a partner in the firm of Bariteau Bros., druggists. Was married to Miss Ardelia E. Shumway, February 18, 1861. They have had three children, two of whom are living, Isabelle, and Ernest L. He is a member of the Masonic order. Was appointed Notary Public, Decatur County, Kansas, Jan. 26, 1880. Elected County Commissioner, fall of November 11, 1881. Appointed to fill vacancy County Commissioner. Term expired January 1883. Appointed U. S. Examining Surgeon, Nov. 8, 1881.

G. WEBB BERTRAM, lawyer, was born in Salem, Mass., March 21, 1847, where he resided until 1856, when his parents moved to Pottawatomie County, Kan., were he lived on the farm until 1862, when he went to Louisville, Kan., where he engaged in the printing business, which he followed as a practical printer until 1869, when he went to Alma, Kan., where he, in company with A. Sellers, established the Wabaunsee County Herald, which he published for one year; sold out his interest to S. H. Fairfield, and in 1870, moved to Beloit, Kan., where he read law with W. Blake, and was admitted to the bar in 1873, to the District Court of Mitchell County, Judge Banta, presiding. Was elected County Attorney to Mitchell County, in 1874, and practiced law, until March, 1877, when he, in company with Mark J. Kelly, established a monthly real estate paper, and in August of the same year, changed the paper to a weekly; sold his interest in February, 1878, to Mark J. Kelly, and came to Oberlin, Kan., where he has since been in the practice of law and real estate business, and in the fall of 1878, purchased one-third interest in the town site of Oberlin. Is a member of A., F. & A. M. Was married March 21, 1876, to Miss Maggie Langmade. They have one child, John.

J. E. COCHRAN, lawyer, was born in Lee County, Iowa, May 15, 1848, where he was engaged in farming until 1871, when he went to York, Neb., where he gave his attention exclusively to schools as teacher, and for four years previous to 1876 was County Superintendent of Schools for same county. During 1876, read law with G. W. Post, and was admitted to the bar in York, Neb., in January 1877, where he continued in practice of law until 1879, when he came to Oberlin, Kan., where he has since been in the practice of law. He has in course of completion a set of abstract books, and is at any and all times competent to make complete and correct abstracts of any lands in the county. Was married Oct. 10, 1877 to Miss Mary L. Beecher, of York, Neb. Have one child, Alice, four years old. Is a member of I. O. O. F. Elected County Attorney in the fall of 1882.

H. D. COLVIN, Deputy County Clerk, was born in An Arbor, Mich., April 9 1845, where he resided until 1846, when his parents moved to Lake County, Ill., where he lived as a farmer until August 4, 1862, when he enlisted as a private in Company E, Seventy-second Ill. Vol. Infantry. Discharged as a private August 9, 1 865, expiration term of service. Wounded at Franklin, Tenn.; gunshot wound in head; on pension roll. After discharge from the army returned to Lake County, Ill., where he engaged in farming until October, 1869, when he moved to La Salle County, Ill., were he taught school until March, 1878, when he moved to Oberlin, Decatur County, Kan., where he homesteaded on Section 4 and 5, Township 4, Range 29, where he resided until November 1880, when he was elected County Clerk of Decatur County, when he moved to Oberlin, and at expiration of term of office was appointed Deputy County Clerk. Also Deputy District Clerk and Deputy Register of Deeds. Is a member of A. F. & A. M. Married to Miss Francis Pelton, Oct. 15, 1866. Have three children, Lew W., Anna M., Ella J.

N. A. CORNIH, lawyer, was born in Lake County, near Crown Point, Ind., Oct. 22, 1857, where he resided until 1863 with his parents; moved to Marion County, Iowa, Town of Dallaf, where he resided until 1867, when he went to Lincoln, Neb., where he taught school for a year, then studied law with E. Tullis and J. E. Philpot; was admitted to the bar June, 1871, District Court, Second District of Nebraska, at Plattsmouth, Neb., Judge Lake, presiding. Then in the practice of law at Lincoln, Neb., until 1876, when he went to Osceola, Neb., in practice of law, until May, 1881, when he came to Oberlin, Kan.; has since been in practice of law and land business. Married to Miss Jennie P. Simpson, Oct. 4, 1875; have three children, Nellie C., May and Willie W. Elected Justice of the Peace at Lincoln, Neb., for two years. Appointed Police Judge at Lincoln, Neb., to fill vacancy.

W. A. HALLOWELL, Jr., postmaster, was born in Leroy, McLean County, Ill., June 21, 1854. His parents moved to Sigourney, Keokuk County, Ia., when he was only four years of age, where he resided as a farmer boy until he was nineteen years of age when he was employed as a clerk in a general store until 1877, when he migrated to Kansas, and located in Belleville, where he was employed as Deputy Post Master and Deputy Register of Deeds until May, 1879, when he came to Oberlin, Decatur County, Kansas, homesteaded a farm in Section 7, Township 2, Range 28. Appointed Postmaster at Oberlin, Kan., January 19, 1880, and in connection, in postoffice building has a fine stock of confectionery and stationery. Was elected Township Treasurer, Oberlin Township, for one year. Is a member of I. O. O. F.

ROBERT A. MARKS, banker, was born in Huron County, Canada, December 22, 1852, and at an early age engaged in the merchandising business, in the town of Brucefield, Huron County, Province of Ontario, Canada, under the firm name of R. W. Marks & Son, until 1877, when he moved to Beloit, Kan., where he resided until the fall of 1878, wen he moved to Oberlin, Kan., and engaged in the general merchandising business, lumber and agricultural implements, which he followed until the June of 1880, when he established the Bank of Oberlin. Does a general banking business, makes collections, buys and sells exchange, etc. Was married July 22, 1873, to Miss Lizzie G. Campbell. They have four children, Marion, Alice, George and Leroy. Is a member of A., F. & A. M.

EDMUND MARTIN, Clerk in the United States Land Office, was born in Hollidaysburg, Blair County Pa., April 1, 1843, where he resided until 1857, when with his parents moved to Lecompton, Kan., where he engaged in farming until August 15, 1862, when he enlisted in Company B, Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, as a private; discharged June 27, 1865, under special order of the War Department. Then, after his discharge from the army, he located in Junction City Kan., where he was employed as Clerk in the United States Land Office until the fall of 1875, when he was elected to the office of County Clerk, of Cloud County, Kan., which office he held for two years, when, at the expiration of his term of office, he was again employed in the United States land Office as Chief Clerk, which position he has held to the present time. Was married to Miss Mary Baird, November 9, 1870. Have one child, Amos C. Is a member of I. O. O. F., G. A. R., and a member of the Veteran Brotherhood.

LEWIS G. PARKER, lawyer, was born in Brown County, Ohio, January 1, 1845, where he resided until 1856, when his parents removed to Peoria County, Ill., where he resided on a farm until 1861, when his mother moved to Princeville, Ill., where he remained at school until August 13, 1863, when he enlisted in Company A, Second Illinois Volunteer Artillery, as a private; was discharged at Springfield, Ill., August 27, 1865, by a special order of the War Department; injured by premature discharge of a cannon. After his discharge from the army he returned to Princeville, where he attended school until 1867, when he was apprenticed to learn the tinners' trade, which he followed until 1869, when he read law until 1870, when he went to Bedford, Iowa, where he worked as a practical tinner until 1871, then went to Platteville, Iowa, where he ran a shop for one year, when he returned to Bedford, Iowa, and established a hat, cap, and furnishing house which business he conducted until 1877. He then read law in the office of McCowan & Holliday, and was admitted to the bar of the District Court, Taylor County, Iowa, May 30, 1878, and practiced law at Bedford, Iowa, until August, 1878, wen he came to Oberlin, Kan., where he has since been in the practice of law, formed copartnership with G. Webb Bertram, in law and land business, March 15, 1879; dissolved such partnership January 1, 1883, and is now in business alone in Oberlin, Kan. Was married September 25, 1870, to Miss Addie M. Bingham. They have had four children, of whom two are living, Clyde B. and Olgay N. Was Nobel Grand of I. O. O. F., at the organization of Lodge 158, at Oberlin, Kan., in 1879. Was elected County Attorney in 1880.

JOHN W. SHORT, farmer and sheriff, was born in Shelby County, Mo., April 22, 1841, where he resided on a farm until 1858, when he was apprenticed to learn the gunsmith trade, which business he followed until April 23, 1862, when he enlisted in Company A, Eleventh Missouri Cavalry, and in the fall of 1862, his company was consolidated with Company I, Second M. S. M. of Cavalry; discharged as a private at St. Louis, Mo., in May, 1865, under special order from the War Department. On pension roll; diseased eyes. After the close of the war he returned to Shelby County, Mo., where he engaged in farming until December 25, 1878, when he came to Decatur County Kan., and homesteaded on Section 24, Township 4, Range 27, where he has resided as a farmer to the present time. Was elected to the office of Sheriff in the fall of 1881, for two years, and is a member of G. A. R.

W. D. STREET, editor and publisher of the Oberlin Herald, was born in Muskingum County, Ohio, January 25, 1851, where he resided until 1861, when with his parents, he moved to Jefferson County, Kan, were he resided until October 15, 1868, when he enlisted as a private in Company I, Nineteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry; discharged April 18, 1869. Then he went to Jewell County, Kan., and homesteaded a claim, May 25, 1869, were he resided until 1873. During his residence in Jewell County he, in company with C. J. Lewis and others, in the year 1870, located the town site of Jewell City, and on May 12, 1880, as the captain, he organized a company of forty men, and built Fort Jewell, in anticipation of a reported Indian raid. During the time he resided in Jewell County, he was engaged in the real estate, drug and grocery business, and from 1873, until 1875, he hunted buffalo. In 1873, he selected a location in Decatur County, Kan. He engaged in the cattle business in the West until November, 1881, when he located in Oberlin, Kan. December 1, 1881, he purchased the Herald office, and since, as its editor and proprietor, has published it as a weekly paper, Republican in politics; it has a circulation of about 600. He was married May 17, 1882, to Miss Louisa E. Van Cleave. Is a member of A., F. & A. M., and I. O. O. F. Was elected Representative to the State Legislature in the fall of 1882.

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