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


[TOC] [part 11] [part 9] [Cutler's History]


This town was laid out in September, 1879, by John Johnson; the land upon which it is built was entered as a claim by Daniel Moser, and in 1871 became the property of Johnson by purchase. The completion of the Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Railroad was made in August of 1879, and was the cause of the locating of the town. The first structure erected on the site was a residence built by Johnson, which was followed by the erection of a store room by M. Donovan, in which he opened a stock of general merchandise, and is the room now occupied by H. B. Marshall and D. G. Kalar. The next business house was built by H. Shoemaker, which he afterward sold to John Johnson, and was used for a drug store by George E. Ott. After about a year, it again changed hands, being purchased by R. M. Smith and used by B. F. Clark for general store. In March, 1881, N. B. Bryant and M. Davis put up a store house and engaged in the sale of general merchandise, and in September of the same year G. D. Berger established a similar business in a building erected for that purpose.

A blacksmith shop was started in May, 1880, by H. Shoemaker, who in the month of October of the next year sold out to J. P. Molton.

The depot building was erected in September, 1879. The post office was established at Oak Valley in 1876, and John Johnson was commissioned Postmaster, and who kept the office at his residence until April, 1880, when it was brought to its present location in the drug store. The organization of a district school for the town and vicinity was effected in April, 1882, and a school building was erected during the spring of that year at a cost of $800, for the payment of which bonds were issued by the district to that amount.

The first religious services were held in the place July 23, 1882, by Rev. Mr. Callison, the Presiding Elder, the meeting taking place in the school building, where services are still conducted.

A flouring mill was built in August, 1876, by John Johnson, and is 28x40 feet in dimensions, two stories high, and contains two run of buhrs, having a grinding capacity of twenty-five barrels of flour per day. The power is derived from Elk River, a turbine waterwheel being made use of.

The town, 125 inhabitants, is beautifully situated at the confluence of Hickory Creek and Elk River, in a forest composed mostly of oak trees, from which it derives its name. The trade by which the place is supported is that supplied mainly by settlers from the Upper Duck, Salt and East Painterhood Creeks.

The first death occurring in the town was that of an infant child belonging to C. H. Jones. The first birth was that of Wilson Shoemaker, son of H. Shoemaker.

No circumstance presents itself from which to augur favorably for the future of the town. Indeed the character of its surroundings is rather against this. The total unfitness of much of the land surrounding the place for agricultural purposes, and the consequent limited area of tillable land, being the chief obstacle. And yet while it may not attain to any considerable proportions as a town, it will continue to be a fine trading point and depot for the purchase of domestic and farm supplies.


J. C. BONEBRAKE, farmer, P. O. Oak Valley, was born in Preble County, Ohio, in 1828, but was brought up in Fountain County, Ind. In 1847, he went to Warren County, then engaged in farming in Tippecanoe county for the next five years; then engaged in railroading on the C., B. & Q. Railroad, in Illinois. In 1862, enlisted in the Twentieth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, serving until the close of the war. Was wounded at Pittsburgh, in June, 1864, and again in Virginia, in 1865. After leaving the army he remained in Tippecanoe County until 1871, when he emigrated to Kansas, locating in Howard County, and bought a farm on Section 20, Township 31, Range 11, which was on the Elk River, well timbered. Twenty-five acres he cleared, and has the place well improved with good house, orchard, stables and other buildings and good fences The farm is of the best bottom land, producing from thirty to forty-five bushels of wheat, and in good seasons from sixty-five to eighty bushels per acre, and about a half mile from the depot of Oak Valley. He was married in 1851, in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, to Miss Catherine Shoemaker, of that county. They have six children - Jennie, Mollie, Alice, Frank, Annie and Myrtle. He is a member of the G A. R. of Indiana.

JOSEPH M. COLE, farmer, P. O. Oak Valley, was born in Green County, Ky., in 1840, but was raised in Alabama and Arkansas. He served in the First Arkansas Cavalry three years on the frontier. In 1865, he emigrated to Kansas, locating in Douglas County. January, 1867, settled in Greenwood county; February, 1868, settled in Howard county, before the survey was made, and settled on a piece of land on the Elk River, and put up the first cabin below Longton, and four miles below any other settler, and there were but five families. Lawrence was the nearest place where supplies could be had, and flour was from $7 to $10 per 100 pounds, coffee, forty-five cents per pound, and at one time Mr. Cole and a party with him were thirteen days on three days' rations, on account of high water. His claim is on Section 30, Township 31, Range 13, a half a mile from market; Has a choice piece of land on which he has raised ninety bushels of corn to the acre, and is noted for raising the largest wheat crops in the town. He has a good orchard, fifteen acres of pasture, a fine stone house, 17x27, with an ell 15x17, two stories high. He is a good farmer and a genial gentleman. He was married in 1872 to Miss Louisa J. Bonebrake, of Wilson County. They have one son, Joseph A. Mr. Cole has served as constable of his township.

JOHN JOHNSON, miller, was born in Butler County, Ohio, in 1822. In 1854, settled in Hendricks County, Ind., and remained there until 1860, when he emigrated to Kansas, locating near Valley Falls, Jefferson County, before there was a railroad in the State. Bought a farm at that place and remained there about eleven years, and at the same time was in the mercantile business. In 1871, came to Oak Valley with a portable saw mill, which he had used when in Jefferson County, and put up the mill on a claim which he took on Section 17, Township 31, Range 13, and soon after built to this and put in a run of stone and did gristing. In 1875, put up a flour mill, 28x40, with two run of burrs and had in running order in 1876, with a capacity of sixty barrels per day; has a good power, with a nine foot fall. In 1881, laid out twenty acres of his land in town lots, the town taking the name of Oak Valley. One-half of the lots are sold and built on, and he is making arrangements to lay out more lots in a short time. The claim he made, is well timbered with 175 acres of bottom timber, and eighty of upland timber. He has improved his farm and built several residences in the village. He has a fine mineral well on the place which has great medicinal properties, especially for the cure of skin diseases and sore eyes. In 1875, Mr. Johnson succeeded in having a post office established at Oak Valley, and received the commission of Postmaster, and has continued as such since; also does some business in hotel keeping after the railroad was built. Mr. Johnson is one of the live business men who build towns and improve the country, and is deserving of the good will of the people of his vicinity, for the work he has done will make a good town of Oak Valley. He was married, in 1845, to Miss Emily Brundage, of Butler County, Ohio. They have six children - May A., W. R., James S., I. N., F. L. and Edmund B.

H. B. MARSHALL, merchant, was born in Boone County, Ill., in 1845. When four years of age, his parents moved to McHenry County, remaining there until 1868, when he came to Kansas, locating in Anderson County, remaining there two years, and then located in Howard County and took a claim on Section 10, Town 31, Range 13. The county was unorganized and the survey had not been made. He improved his claim and lived there until 1880, when he bought a farm near Oak Valley and remained there two years. In the winter of 1882 he bought an interest in the general store of B. F. Clark, of Oak Valley. In July, Mr. Clark sold out and Mr. Layton became a partner with Mr. Marshall. They are having a large trade and are very popular with their customers. In the fall of 1881, Mr. Marshall was elected County Commissioner for a term of three years, also served as Trustee of his township one term. Besides his mercantile business, he carries on a farm and is raising stock and shipping considerable stock and other farm products. Was married, in 1870, to Miss Tillie Preston, of McHenry County, Ill. They have two sons - Frank and Henry. Was married again in June, 1878, to Miss Sarah Benson, of Elk County. They have one daughter - Mattie. Mr. Marshall is a member of Carson Lodge, No. 132, A., F. & A. M., Elk City.

W. S. RENTFRO, farmer, P. O. Oak Valley, was born in Menard County, Ill., 1833, where he lived until 1849, when he migrated to Iowa, locating in Keokuk County. Enlisted in June, 1861 in the First Iowa Cavalry, serving three years. In 1866, he emigrated to Kansas, locating in Cherokee County, and took a claim. Was among the very first of the settlers in that county, and was 160 miles from Kansas City, the nearest railroad point at that time. In 1870, he located near Elk City, in Montgomery County, taking a claim before this county was organized, and the Indians collected a tax of $2 to $3 per annum of each of the settlers. After improving his place and living there five years, he sold out and bought a farm in Longton Township, Elk County, on Section 27, Town 31, Range 13. Has his place finely improved, has one of the best orchards in the county and raises a large amount of fruit; also raises stock. His farm is well watered by Elk River, with timber for shelter. Was Commissioner of the township. He settled in Montgomery County and has held the office of Justice of the Peace for several terms. Was married, in 1858, at Martinsburg, Iowa, to Miss Mary E. Williams. They have one son - C. A.


WILLIAM ALDRIDGE, farmer, P. O. Howard, was born in Putnam County, Ind., in 1844. In 1862, he enlisted in the Eighteenth Indiana Battery, serving three years, when he then returned home and engaged in farming, remaining there until 1878. He then came West and located in Lyon County, Kan. At the expiration of three years, he settled in Elk County, and located a claim on Sections 5 and 6, Township 30, Range 11, locating on Hitchin Creek, consisting of 120 acres. He then bought eighty acres, making a farm of 200 acres. Of this, 160 is fenced, and ninety acres in cultivation, orchard of five acres. A fine stone residence and barn, and is engaged in the stock business. Was married in 1867, at Carpentersville, Ind., to Miss Robinson, of that place. They have five children - Lenora, Clara, Emma, Etta and Samuel H.

W. W. HENSLEY, farmer, P. O. Longton, was born in Marion County, Ill., in 1834, and lived there and in McCoupin and Pratt Counties until 1861, when he enlisted in the Twenty-first Illinois Volunteer Infantry, U. S. Grant, Colonel, serving until September, 1863; was captured at Chickamauga in December 1863, and taken to Libby Prison, and from there to Danville, and then took rooms at Andersonville, where he came very near dying. In September, 1864, was transferred to Florence; while there, he and three others, succeeded in making their escape, and managed to elude the bloodhounds which were put on their track. They had gone 100 miles through the swamp and within a fourth of a mile of the Union lines, when they were again captured and taken back to Florence, but were exchanged in a short time; served as First Corporal of the Colored Guards, until he was promoted Third Sergeant. After leaving the army, located in Macoupin County, Ill., and in 1869 emigrated to Kansas, reaching Howard County in the fall, and took a claim in Painterhood Township. The survey was not made and Lawrence was the nearest point, distance seventy-five miles, where supplies could be obtained. There was but one settler in the town before Mr. Hensley. His claim is on Painterhood Creek and contains 215 acres; has 100 acres under cultivation, twenty-five acres of timber, the whole place fenced; has planted five acres of orchard, containing a full full variety of fruits, and good frame and log house; at the time it was put up, was the best in the township; is raising stock to some extent; attended the first convention held in the county, and at the first election, was elected Justice of the Peace of his township, and held the office ten consecutive terms; also, held the office of Township Clerk one term. He was married in 1866, to Miss Nancy A. Biggerstaff, of Macoupin County, Ill. They have nine children - S. B., Alice C., Rachel, George E., Mary Rosalie, Charlie and W. T. He is a member of E. M. Stanton Post, No. 23, G. A. R., Longton Lodge, No. 26, A., F. & A. M., and Elk Falls Lodge, No. 616, K. of H.

I. B. VANCIL, farmer, P. O. Howard, was born in Marion County, Iowa, in 1847. In 1854, his parents emigrated to Kansas, locating at Lawrence. They were among the very first settlers of the place. There were but three houses there at the time of locating. They were here through all the border troubles, and his father and brothers took an active part in the suppression of the border-ruffian raids. After he became old enough, he engaged in farming, remaining in Douglas County until 1878. He then located in Osage County, remaining there until 1882, when he settled in Elk County, and located a claim on Section 7, Township 30, Range 12. Hs also bought 160 acres on Section 6, and at once began improvements for a permanent home. He erected a handsome residence 24x24; also good stables, planted a nice orchard and made other improvements. He has engaged in the stock business, which he will make a specialty. He was married in 1876, to Miss Myra Gove, of Lawrence, Kan. Mr. Vancil is a member of the Masonic order.


P. M. AKERS, farmer, P. O. Howard, was born in Bedford County, Penn., in 1835, and lived there until 1847; thence to Westmoreland County, and remained there until March, 1865; then located in Miami County, Ind., remaining there four years. In June, 1869, he Located in Howard county, Kan., which is now Elk county, and was at that time 150 miles from a railroad. He was one of the first settlers in Paw Paw Tow ship, and took a claim on Section 14, Township 29, Range 10. The place takes in the creek, and has about twenty acres of timber. The place is all fenced, has sixty acres under cultivation, eight acres of fruits, a fine vineyard of two acres, and is also raising stock. He served as Justice of the Peace two terms, while the whole north central part of the county was Howard Township, and then when divided, served two terms in Paw Paw Township. Also served several terms as Treasurer of the school district and several years as Township Treasurer. He was married in 1860 in Westmoreland County, Penn., to Miss McMillan. They have three children - Mildred G., Elmer M. and Ida J.

JACOB FISCUS, farmer, P. O. Howard, was born in Owen County, Ind., in 1834, where he was raised and lived until 1866. He enlisted in 1861, in the Fifty-ninth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, serving twelve months, when he was discharged on account of disability. In November, 1865, he enlisted in the One Hundred and Forty-ninth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, serving until 1865. In 1866, he came West, locating at Fall River, where he took a claim and remained until 1870; then located a claim in Paw Paw Township, on Section 34, Township 28, Range 10; was among the early settlers of this town, and was fifty miles from a railroad, and with no improvements in sight. His place consists of 160 acres, watered by Paw Paw Creek; all fenced, with 120 acres under cultivation. He has planted a good orchard of ten acres, some forest trees, and put up a good house and stables, and has a very desirable farm. He was married in 1856, to Miss Hubbell, of Owen County, Ind. They have eight children - Arabelle, William C., Carey, Jackson, Rebecca, John H., Perry G. and D. M. He is a member of the E. M. Stanton Post, No. 23, G. A. R., and the Anti-Horse Thief Association.

J. M. GWIN, farmer, P. O. Howard, was born in Mercer County, Ky., in 1840; when eight years of age, his parents moved to Indiana, where he was raised until 1870. December 1, 1861, he enlisted in the Fiftieth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, serving three years and one month. He was mustered out January 5, 1865; served in the Quartermaster's Department about two years of the time; after coming out of the army, he returned to Mercer County, and in 1870, emigrated to Kansas, locating in Greenwood County. The following year he settled in Howard County, and took a claim on Section 6, Township 29, Range 11; was among the first settlers in this part of the county, and when he settled, he was sixty-five miles from a railroad. He has his place nicely improved, all enclosed with fence, good orchard planted, good frame house and other improvements. He served as Township Clerk two terms, after which was elected Township Trustee for three consecutive terms, after which he was elected County Commissioner for a term of three years. In 1866, he was married to Miss Martha A. Rice, of Monroe County, Ind. They are both members of the Christian Church. Mr. Gwin is a member of the E. M. Stanton Post, No. 23, G. A. R.

HON. S. B. MAHURON, farmer, P. O. Howard, was born in Grayson County, Ky., in 1830, but was brought up in Illinois, where he remained until 1855, thence went to Texas, and in 1857 came to Kansas, locating in Bourbon County, and was there during the border ruffian troubles, and as there were no railroads in Kansas, had to go to Sedalia, Mo., a distance of 150 miles, for supplies. In 1860, he was elected to the first State Legislature, and was in the State Militia during the war. In 1864, he located in Franklin County and remained until 1869, when he came to Howard County; was among the early settlers and located on Section 18, Town 29, Range 11, on Snake Creek; the nearest post office was twenty-two miles, and sixty miles to a trading post. The subject of this sketch has a choice farm of 280 acres, all fenced, 150 acres under cultivation, good stone house, stone barn, and has planted a fine orchard, has about twenty acres of timber, with plenty of running water, makes a desirable place for stock-raising, which he is at present engaged in. In 1850, he was married to Miss McCarty, of Richland County, Ill. They have eight children - Albert G., Thomas J., P. A., M. F., Eva C., Mary E., Steven A. and Eliza A.

I. W. MITCHELL, farmer, P. O. Howard, was born in Mason County, Ky., 1830, where he was raised and lived until 1868, migrating from there to Lafayette County, Mo., remaining there until January, 1871, thence to Kansas and located a claim in Howard County, now Elk, on Section 10, Town 29, Range 10, sixty-five miles from a railroad, and but few settlers in the township, and drew his supplies from eighty to 120 miles, drew lumber to build with over 100 miles; has seventy acres of his place in cultivation, five acres of apple orchard, two acres of peaches, has two acres of grape vines, or 1,000 plants; is making a specialty of fruit also raises considerable stock. Was married January, 1880, to Miss Mary A., daughter of William Simons, of Elk County. Is a member of Hope Lodge, No. 155, A., F. & A. M. Mr. Mitchell is a pleasant gentleman and a good citizen.

WILLIAM SIMONS, farmer, P. O. Howard, was born in England, 1838; emigrated to America 1856; locating in Athens County, Ohio, where he remained until 1859, going from there to Canada, and at the end of one year settled in Huron County, Mich., remaining there until after the war, when he returned to Canada. In 1870, came West and located in Howard County, Kan., securing a claim on Section 12, Town 29, Range 10, sixty miles from a railroad point, and with little to do with; was a voter at the first election held in the county; organized the first Sunday school in the township.

DAVlD WILSON, farmer, Section 22, P. O. Severy, was born in 1838 in Washington County, Ill., and is descended from a long line of farmers. In August, 1862, he enlisted in Company B., One Hundred and Eleventh Illinois Infantry, and participated in the battle of Resaca, Ga., where he had the misfortune to have the thumb of his right hand shot off; Kenesaw Mountain Atlanta, Jonesboro, Fort McAllister, etc., his regiment being attached to the Second Brigade, Second Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, and was mustered out at Washington, D. C. in May, 1865. He is a United States pensioner. Upon leaving the army, he returned to Illinois until the spring of 1870, when he came to Kansas, locating on above section. Eighty- five of his 160 acres are under plow, and Mr. Wilson raised, he believes, the first crop of flax in Elk County, and continued it for five years, averaging eight bushels per acre, $1 per bushel. He raised castor beans and sweet potatoes to pecuniary advantage. In 1859, he married Miss Margaret A. Anderson, of Randolph County, Ill. They have six children. Mr. Wilson has been Road Overseer and was on the School Board of the district two terms. He is a charter member of Brownlow Post, No. 79, G. A. R.

HON. JAMES N. YOUNG, farmer, P. O. Severy, was born in Fleming County, Ky., in the year 1816, but was brought up in Rush County, Indiana; was married in 1838 to Miss Sally Ann Eyestone, by whom he had two boys - John A, of Washington, Iowa, and James H., who was killed on the first day of battle of Shiloh, April 6, 1862. In the spring of 1843, Mr. Young was married to Miss Martha J. Cones, and in June of the same year moved and settled in Washington County, Iowa, and engaged in farming and teaching. In 1854 was elected to the State Legislature, as an anti-slavery extension Whig, and in the Legislature he cast his vote for the first prohibitory law of the State. He was a delegate from his county to the State Convention in the fall of 1855, which organized the Republican party in the State. In 1872, finding himself financially involved by having debts to pay for others, he gave up voluntarily his property, waiving his homestead right, and moved to what was then Howard County, Kan., and settled on the Osage Diminished Reserve, and took a preemption on the southeast quarter, Section 26, Town 28, Range 10, not worth a single dollar. He was among the first settlers, and went to work with a will, and has succeeded in acquiring a good property. Has 100 acres in cultivation; has out a good apple and peach orchard; put up a good house, and has bought 320 acres additional, joining him on the south, being east half Section 35, which is partly improved. He is devoting his attention mainly to stock-raising. Besides improving his farm, he has devoted considerable time to educational interests, having taught some and served one term as County Superintendent of common schools, and while acting as County Superintendent the county was divided and he fell into the county of Elk, that being the north half of Howard County. In 1874, he was elected to represent his county in the State Legislature, and refused to serve a second term, as he was too poor to act in that capacity at the per diem allowed in his State. Mr. Young is in religion a thorough Methodist, of which denomination he is a local preacher. In politics he is Prohibition Republican. He is always on one side or the other of every important issue and takes a lively interest in the welfare of his neighbors, his county and State and the Nation as well. He furnished three sons in the army in the late war. As the fruit of his second marriage, he has ten children living. viz.: Elizabeth, Samuel P., Edward A., Morris F., Martha J., Robert F., Riley S., Ida L., George E. and F. C. Mr. Young is a member of Hope Lodge, No. 155, A., F. & A. M., and the Anti-Horse Thief Association, of his township, and is President of the same.

[TOC] [part 11] [part 9] [Cutler's History]