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


[TOC] [part 13] [part 11] [Cutler's History]


Highland owes its name to a whim of one of the founders of the town, rather than to any great elevation of the land upon which it stands. As early as 1855, J. P. Johnson took a claim here, and drove stakes by which to locate the town. A year later, Gen. John Bayless reached this point, and joined Mr. Johnson in his efforts to locate a town. A year later (1857) the town company was formed, and the town surveyed and laid out in blocks. The members of the town company were J. P. Johnson, John Bayless, O. Bailey, H. N. Seaver, S. M. Irvin, and G. S. Rice.

Although located four miles and one-half from the Atchison & Nebraska Railway, and six miles from Severance, on the St. Joseph & Western, the town enjoys an intercourse with the outside world rarely accorded a place so situated. For this there are several distinct reasons. Highland is in the center of a tract of dark, "mulatto" soil of exceptional fertility, whence comes a large amount of farming trade. It is also the seat of Highland University, one of the few institutions of its class in the State, and to this come large numbers of cultured people, desirous of giving their children the benefit of a thorough course of study. Add to this the nameless fascination which a university town has, even for those neither specially learned nor literary, and the chief attractions of the town for the permanent resident are summed up. To the casual traveler it appeals in another form scarcely less attractive - it reminds him of "back East." Along the principal street trees, now more than a quarter of a century old are planted, and their spreading branches form a nearly complete arch overhead. Upon the streets pass a people whose faces show the lines of a culture which has had time, in the push and scramble of a life in the new West, for a growth other than purely commercial. A scene like this is rare enough any where, especially west of the Mississippi, and is as grateful as rare.

[Picture of J. Leigh, M. D.] The first buildings on the town site were erected by the town company. The following spring (1858), Campbell & Bonesteel erected two buildings. The first store was opened by Denne & Stevenson, with a general stock. The second by J. H. Willey, also with a general stock. The first drug store was the property of A. J. Minier & Co., and was run by Dr. J. Leigh. A hardware and tin store was opened by E. Evans. S. F. Armsbury, A. Bruner, and W. P. Gere, all opened blacksmith shops at an early day, and are still living in Highland. Dr. Palmer was the first physician, coming in 1858. Joseph Rankin is thought to have been the first carpenter, but that honor is disputed by E. Snyder, who came in 1857. The first Sabbath school was taught in a log building on the town site by E. M. Hubbard.

The city records of Highland begin with the year 1871. At the election of that year, Fred. J. Close, now Clerk of the District Court, was elected Mayor, and J. S. Martin made City Clerk. In 1872, A. H. Bayless succeeded to the mayoralty. Those who have successively held the office are as follows: A. H. Bayless, 1873-74; J. F. Shields, 1875; F. J. Close, 1876; George G. Fox, 1877; F. J. Close, 1878; A. S. Campbell, 1879; J. P. Johnson, 1880-81; C. E. Fox, 1882. During the same period the list of City Clerks is as follows: J. S. Martin, 1872-73-74; F. Kitzmiller, 1875-76-77-78; G. M. Frisbie, 1879; C. C. Wheeler, 1880-81 ; Josiah Beeler, 1882.

A postoffice was established at Highland in 1858, and E. M. Hubbard appointed Postmaster. He was succeeded by Rev. James Campbell, Samuel C. Shields, Miss E. Diament, B. E. Herrick, and James. A. Kennedy, who now holds the office. The postoffice was located in the hotel kept by E. M. Hubbard. This was the first hotel in town, and is the brick building now occupied by J. P. Johnson as a bank. On the appointment of Campbell, the office was kept in his house. Thence it went to the stores of the various Postmasters, except during Shields' term, when it had a building of its own.


This institution traces its lineage farther back than any school in the State. In 1836 treaties were made with the Missouri Sacs and Foxes, and with the Iowas whereby they were assigned land in what is now Doniphan County, Kansas; their reservation embracing the present site of Highland. They removed to their newly appointed home during the year, and were followed in 1837 by that faithful missionary, Rev. S. M. Irvin, who, under the direction of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, established a mission among them near the present site of the town. Six months after the arrival of Mr. Irvin he was joined by Rev. William Hamilton. The two remained at the mission as colaborers for ten years. In 1847 they established an Indian school in connection with the mission. In 1856 a "classical academy" was established. In 1858 a charter was granted by the Territorial Legislature, under the title of the Highland University. The school from the beginning has been under the fostering care of the Presbyterians, - first of the Board of Missions, and later of the Presbyterian Synod of Kansas. Its present trustees represent the Synods of Kansas, Nebraska, Southern Iowa and Missouri. It is at present one of the best, as it is one of the oldest, classical schools in the West.

Its geographical position renders it accessible to the three great States of Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. Its grounds embrace ten acres, on a beautiful plateau, commanding a new of scenery unsurpassed in loveliness. Its buildings are substantial, and well fitted for the purposes for which they were designed. It is reached by two railroads, the St. Joseph& Western, and the Atchison & Nebraska.

It has two courses of study - classical and scientific - and a normal school department. It has four literary societies, the Erodelphian and Clisophic, for male students; the Atelceta and Eucleian, for female students. The degrees conferred are: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science. The rates of endowment are: $500 for a tuition scholarship; $2,500 for a full scholarship; $25,000 for a professorship. One-third of the Board of Trustees are appointed annually by the Synod of Kansas, in connection with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.

The Board of Trustees for the past three years have been as follows:

1881 - Rev. S. M. Irvin, Highland, Kan.; Rev. Daniel Kloss, Highland, Kan.; James Myers, M. D., Highland Kan.; William H. Bayless, Highland, Kan.; J. A. Leonard, Highland. Kan.; Rev. Samuel Farmer, Hiawatha, Kan.; James L. Abernathy, Leavenworth, Kan.; Rev. Henry Bullard, St. Joseph, Mo.; Rev. George L. Spinning, D. D., Cleveland, Ohio.

1882 - Rev. Robert Cruikshank, D. D., Highland, Kan.; John P. Johnson, Highland, Kan.; Elijah M. Hubbard, Highland, Kan.; D. M. McIntosh, Troy, Kan.; Rev. W. N. McHarg, Blue Rapids, Kan.; Rev. M. F. Howie, Atchison, Kan.; Rev. W. N. Page, D. D., Leavenworth, Kan.; Rev. S. M. Osmend, D. D., Lawrence, Kan.; Rev. J. T. Baird, Plattsmouth, Neb.

1883 - W. B. Lewis, M. D., White Cloud, Kan.; John L. Freeland, Blue Rapids, Kan.; H. Walker, Beloit, Kan.; Rev. J. A. Pinkerton, Beloit, Kan,; Rev. James A. Griffees, Irving, Kan.; Rev. D. R. Todd, Netanaka, Kan.; Judge J. C. Clark, Topeka, Kan.; Hon. B. Cowan, Oregon, Mo.

The Executive Committee for 1883 has the following members: J. P. Johnson, president; J. A. Leonard, vice-president; W. H. Bayless, treasurer; Rev. Daniel Kloss, auditor; Rev. S. M. Irvin, J. A. Leonard, secretaries.

The annual report for the year ending September 1, 1882, gives the following as the members of the faculty of the institution, and their departments: Hon. H. D. McCarty, LL. D., acting president and professor of mathematics and natural science; Rev. Duncan Brown, A. M., professor of ancient languages and literature; Rev Daniel Kloss, A. M., professor of German and French; Rev. Samuel Farmer, A. B., instructor in academic department.

The following statistics are also taken from the annual report:

Whole number of graduates - Males, 17; females, 12; total, 29.

Number of graduates at last commencement, 3.

Students in attendance: Senior class - Males, 2; females, 1; total, 3. Junior class - Males, 4; females, 2; total, 6. Sophomore class - Males, 6; females, 1; total, 7. Freshman class - Males, 2; females, 1 ; total, 3. Preparatory and scientific department - Males, 30; females, 58; total, 88. Total number of students - Males, 44; females, 63; total, 107.

Lands owned by the institution: Site, ten acres.

Estimated cash value of the property of the institution: Site, $3,000; buildings, $20,000; permanent endowment and funds exclusive of real estate, $5,000; library, $8,000; apparatus, $2,000; total amount of property, $38,000.

Expenditures for the current year: For salary of teachers, $3,000; for incidentals, $300; for building and repairs, $2,500; total expenditures, $5,800.

Receipts for the current year: From tuition fees, $3,000; voluntary contributions, $2,500; total receipts, $5,500.

Rates of tuition, not including board: For collegiate department, per annum, $39; for preparatory and scientific department, $30; annual scholarships, $25.

The institution is conducted under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church.


The Presbyterian Church was organized at the Iowa and Sac Mission, in 1842, having seven members. These original members were all whites, but as the church grew there was a large admixture of Indians. After the removal of the Mission the society met in a frame building between Highland and the mission for several years, and about 1860 began to hold services in the University Chapel, where they have ever since been located. The society now numbers eighty-seven. Their first pastor was Rev. William Bishop. To him succeeded J. D. Paxton, J. B. Morton and the present pastor, Rev. Joseph Mayow. The first meeting of the council took place in 1871. At various times Father Irvin has supplied the church, but his increasing years preclude his constant service, pleasing as it would be to his hearers.

A Sabbath school was organized at the Mission, and is still kept up. It is in charge of Dr. H. D. McCarty, and has an enrollment of one hundred.

A Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at a point near Highland, in 1857, by Rev. Dana Fox. No attempt at building a separate house of worship was made for several years, private residences and schoolhouses doing duty until 1865, when the use of the Presbyterian Chapel was accorded. In 1866 a lot was purchased, and preparations made for building a house of worship, but the project was abandoned for the time, and an arrangement made with the Congregationalists by which the latter received a loan from the Methodists, and shared with them the use of the church building. In 1873, largely through the efforts of Rev. Dana Fox, an exclusively Methodist church, thirty-five by fifty-two, was built, at a cost of three thousand dollars. This was in the pastorate of Rev. William Smith. Since that time L. V. Morton, D. B. Campbell, Hunter, Shackleford and C. K. Jones have held pastoral charge, the latter being still in service.

A Sabbath school was organized in June, 1881. By Rev. Mr. Shackleford. It is now in charge of John Gann, and has an average attendance of forty.

The Congregational Church of Highland, was organized October 5, 1865, by Rev. H. F. Robinson. The constituent members numbering fifteen. Since that time the society has grown with the town, and now numbers sixty-eight. A brick church, thirty- eight by fifty, was begun in 1866, and completed in the fall of the following year. The cost of this structure was four thousand dollars. It stands two blocks north of the main street, nearly in a line with the Wildey House. Rev. H. P. Robinson remained its pastor up to 1869. After his resignation the supply of the society was very irregular and no pastor was settled until July, 1877, when the present incumbent, Rev. D. Kloss, was installed.

Smithton Lodge (Masonic), No. 1, now located at Highland, is at once the oldest lodge in the county and the State. It takes its name from a town once of some importance, but now defunct. Its charter bears the date of November 30, 1854, and was granted to J. W. Smith, E. H. Rinehart, D. Vanderslice, J. H. Whitehead, W. P. Richardson, J. H. Merrill, G. R. Wilson, Joseph Crippen and H. W. Forman. The first officers of the lodge were: J. W. Smith. W. M.; E. H. Rinehart, S. W.; D. Vanderslice, J. W. The present officers of the lodge are: A. Leigh, W. M.; L. Meeker, S. W.; B. Martin, J. W.; W. Trevett, secretary; A. S. Campbell, treasurer. In the early days of the society, meetings were held in the open air, on a bluff near the town; later at Whitehead, Iola, Iola Agency, Iowa Point, and finally at Highland. It now has a membership of sixty. Meetings are held on each Friday, on or before full moon, in Masonic Hall. This building was erected in 1879, at a cost of one thousand dollars. Besides the hall, the lodge has property in furniture and regalia to the amount of three hundred dollars.

Highland Lodge, No. 67, I. O. O. F., was organized on January 27th, 1871, with the following charter members: J. H. Close, S. F. Amsbury, J. Myers, F. J. Close, B. Castello, H. Myers, F. M. Unkefer, and E. B. Gatchell. The first officers of the lodge were as follows: J. H. Close, N. G.; S. F. Amsbury, V. G.; F. J. Close, P. S.; H. Myers, R. S.; J. Myers, treasurer. Meetings are held in Masonic Hall, on Saturday evenings of each week. The property of the society consists of four hundred dollars invested, about the same amount on hand in cash, and regalia and fixtures to the amount of about two hundred dollars. The present officers are: S. S. Jacobs, N. G.; J. W. Kennedy, V. G.; F. Kitzmiller, R. S,; G. F. Leming, treasurer.

Highland City Lodge, No. 2261, K. of B., was instituted on July 9, 1881, with fourteen members and the following officers: A. Leigh, P. D.; W. Trevett, D.; W. H. Forbes, R. Meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. The present officers of the society are: H. C. Layton, past dictator; H. A. Hills, dictator; W. Trevett, reporter; W. H. Forbes, financial reporter; T. J. McClary, treasurer. The present membership of the society is eighteen. As its losses are met by assessments there is no idle capital.

The Cousins Cornet Band was organized in August, 1881, with fourteen pieces, and is under the leadership of M. Minier. It is something of a "boys' band," but does very good work for the time it has been in practice.


The only bank ever established in Highland is that of J. P. Johnson, who opened his doors in 1862. At that time there were but two other banks in the State - one at Leavenworth, and the Exchange at Atchison. Mr. Johnson began business in the brick building which he has ever since occupied. As the bank is a private institution no statement of its resources is published, but the fact that its owner is rated by the commercial agencies at over a million and a half dollars is presumably a sufficient guaranty of its solvency. Besides the bank, Mr. Johnson has the only complete set of abstracts in the county.

The Wildey House was opened in 1866, by D. S. Campbell. After a year's management Mr. Campbell sold out to J. H. Wildey, who now owns the property. In 1877, Wiltse Baird leased the hotel, and still runs it. The building has received several enlargements, and now has seventeen large rooms. The main building is two, and the addition three stories in height. On the east of the house is a large lawn dotted with large trees, which in summer form a perfect shade for sundry hammocks and easy chairs. The property is valued at $15,000.

The town now has four general stores, two hardware and two drug stores, two boot and shoe stores, one bank, one hotel, one livery stable and three blacksmith shops. It is a rare occurrence that people of the floating class, like pioneer mechanics, remain more than a few years in a place, yet Highland can boast the fact that the first three men who began work in the town are still here and still in active business.


Highland Station is, as its name implies, the railway point of Highland. It has, however, an individuality of its own apart from the parent town, four miles and one-half away. The town was located in the winter of 1869-70 by a company partly formed of Highland men and partly of representatives of the railway. The incorporators were J. P. Johnson, B. F. Herring, J. A. Kennedy and G. W. Glick. The town site covers forty acres in the southwest corner of Section 21, Township 2 and Range 20. Its owner was J. A. Kennedy.

Immediately after the laying out of the town, Kennedy & Herring opened a general store. A second store was opened the same year by L. Degginger. A hotel was opened by J. Browning, and a blacksmith shop started. The post-office was also opened with J. A. Kennedy as postmaster, and a depot built by the railway company. A Union church was built in 1881 for the use of religious people of all denominations.

[TOC] [part 13] [part 11] [Cutler's History]