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


[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]


The matter of the education of the youth received early and liberal attention by the settlers of Old Howard County. No sooner were there a sufficient number of children within easy distance of each other than there were means provided for their instruction. Districts thus became organized as the necessities required, so that as early as October, 1872, there were 118 organized districts in the county, 113 schools, and 1,069 pupils enrolled.

The division of the county in 1875 severed also the schools, and in 1879 Elk County alone numbered seventy-four organized school districts with an enrollment of 2,181, requiring the employment of eighty- eight teachers.

For the year 1882, the report of the County Superintendent shows the following:

The number of children in the county of school age, 4,150. Of these 2,025 are males, and 2,125 are females. There are seventy-five schoolhouses in the county, and four districts that have no schoolhouse. Three graded schools in the county, these being at Longton, Grenola and Howard City. There were eighty-two certificates issued during the last school year.

The endeavor of the citizens of the county to add to the efficiency of the schools is zealous and unremitting. Greater care is now being taken, year after year, to have none but competent teachers employed, and incompetent men are now excluded from the office of County Superintendent; the aim being to elect only such as are properly qualified for the discharge of this, the most important of official positions. The standard for the qualification of teachers is being gradually promoted, County Institutes being held annually for the drill and preparation of teachers in the latest and most improved methods of school work.

In the spring of 1871, Adrian Reynolds brought the first printing press into Howard County and began the publication of the Howard County Ledger. In the summer of the same year, C. L. Goodrich established the Elk Falls Examiner, and continued its publication about one year. In the spring of 1872, the Messenger made its entry in Howard City, under the management of Turner & Kelley. It lived about a year and a half, when it was sold to A. B. Hicks and taken to Boston, where It became the Howard County Messenger and Weekly News, edited by C. H. Lewis, of Cedar Vale. R. S. Turner edited and published the Divisionist during the campaign of 1871. Joseph Mount began the issue of the Record at Peru in the spring of 1872, at which place he continued until the summer of 1874 and then moved to Sedan, publishing the Wide Awake, Illustrated; and it is said the "illustrations were like to have killed the editor." In the summer of I873, Ward & Pyle commenced the publication of the Elk Falls Journal, whose days were short of number, for in about six months he sold out to Turner & Kelley, who ran it until July, 1875, and then went to Sedan and merged it in the Chautaugua Journal.

In the fall of 1874, A. B. Steinbarger brought his paper, called the Courant, from Elk City to Longton, remaining in that place about a year. He again migrated, taking up quarters at }toward City, and put forth the Beacon, still retaining his paper at Longton, but soon afterward bringing that also to Howard. In 1877, the Courant became united with the Elk County Ledger, edited by A. Reynolds, and took the name of Courant-Ledger, and later in 1879, the name was changed to that of Courant alone, and in October 1881, was sold to the Courant Company, composed of Asa Thompson and Sons.

There are five live newspapers published in the county, a more detailed account of which appears in the history of the towns in which they are published.


The rapidity with which the settlement of the county was made may be seen by a comparison of its population at varied intervals. In 1870, the population of Howard County was 2,794, and at the time the division was made it had increased to 13,632. In 1876, after Elk County was created, it had a population of 7,082, while in 1882 it numbers over 12,000.

The total acreage of Elk County is 416,640. Of this, there was in cultivation in 1876, 46,318, acres and in 1882, there were 68,942.

The total value of all the property in the county in 1876 was $1,051,054, while in 1882 it was $1,368,978.

The number of acres cultivated to wheat in 1875 was 6,182; rye, 138; corn, 21,295; barley, 75; oats, 1,065; buckwheat, 12; potatoes, 425; cotton, 10; flax, 131; tobacco, 10; broom corn, 29; timothy and clover, 163; millet, 758. The number of acres cultivated to these productions in 1882 were as follows Wheat, 3,349; rye, 21; corn 44,212; oats, 1,007; potatoes, 681; cotton, 2; flax, 1,304; tobacco, 6; broom corn, 140; millet, 9,700, timothy and clover, 127.

A statistical comparison of the number of live stock for each of these periods shows also the ratio of increase.

In 1876, there were in the county 2,832 horses, 354 mules, 9,885 cattle, 4,382 sheep, 2,092 hogs.

In 1882, the number of them was as follows:

Horses, 4,034; mules, 563; cattle, 21,352; sheep, 26,264; hogs, 11,929. From these figures it will at once be seen that the ratio of increase in live stock has been extremely large while that of agricultural products has been comparatively limited, showing that this is naturally a stock-growing section rather than agricultural.

The following shows the number of fruit trees cultivated and bearing in 1882: apple trees, 30,544; pear, 529; peach, 176,393; plum, 3,567; cherry, 7,811.

The number of fruit trees not bearing is: apple, 58,943; peach, 73,258; plum, 4,880 (sic) cherry, 10,988.

But little manufacturing is now carried on in the county, and this is confined to mills for the manufacture of flour. Of these, there are seven in the county, located as follows: Longton, Oak Valley, Grenola, Union Center, Western Park, Elk Falls and Moline.

Elk County, as may be expected in a place in which development began so recently, has but few railroads. The Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Kansas Railroad was projected and built through the county in the fall of 1879, and passes through the county east and west near the south line. A branch of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (sic) Road was constructed southward from the main branch of that road, with which it makes a junction at Emporia, passing through Greenwood County, and terminating at Howard City. These roads, however, afford sufficient conveniences for transportation to and from the county. There are, however, other prospective lines to be run through the county, and which will give it all advantages for transportation.


The county seat of Elk County is located near the geographical center of the county, and stands upon a beautiful eminence overlooking the fertile valleys of Elk River and Paw Paw and Rock creeks. The town site was established in the spring of 1870, by a town company, of which Samuel McFarland was President and T. A. Dodd, Secretary. This organization did not long survive to accomplish much in the interest of the town, but died shortly after its birth, leaving the management of town affairs in the hands of private individuals. Chief among the real founders of the town were John McBee, S. B. Oberlander, C. T. Adams, P. C. Tapping, Alexander Bruce, Perry and Milton Vinson and T. A. Dodd.


The land upon which the town is located was originally entered by John McBee, A. Garner, T. A. Dodd and S. McFarland. The first business house in the piece was erected by Oscar McFarland, in which he opened a general store, and the next was a livery stable belonging to Mr. McClure, followed by a store room belonging to Spicer, and again by another business house established by C. T. Adams. In the early part of 1871, John Parrett and John Barnes built a hotel called the Howard House, which, after changing hands several times, is now the Welbourn House. The next building was a saloon owned by Frank Osborne and the next a printing office by Kelly & Turner. This was a two-story building, the first floor of which was used as business rooms, and the upper was afterward occupied as a printing office, in which the Messenger was published in the spring of 1872.

Howard City, being the county Seat, attracted many settlers, all of whom naturally anticipated rapid progress and success in the new town and "prospective" city, the result being that the place grew with great rapidity and for a short time business houses and residences sprang up on every hand, until at the present it contains several substantial business houses and a population numbering 1,000.

The point for the distribution of mail matter for this vicinity at the time of the founding of Howard City, was located at a point on Paw Paw Creek, about two and a half miles to the north and east of the town and was known as Howard Post Office. In the fall of 1871, its location was changed, being brought to what is now Howard City. Previous to and after its removal, the office was in the hands of T. J. Barnes as Postmaster, who, after its removal, had the office in a small building which he erected and used as a drug store. Not long after the relocation of the office, Barnes was succeeded in the position by C. T. Adams, who was commissioned Postmaster for this point, and who continued to hold it until 1880, during which year he was succeeded by A. B. Steinbarger. Mr. Steinbarger held the place a short time, when A. Reynolds received the appointment and is the present incumbent.


The first school was taught in the town of Howard in the early part of the year 1873, by W. S. Kent. The school was kept in a frame house erected for school purposes, and had an attendance of nineteen pupils. This building, although cramped in its capacity and insufficient for the accommodation of the schools, was used until 1882, when the actual necessities of the case prompted the citizens of the town to prepare more enlarged quarters for school wants. Accordingly, immediate steps were put forth resulting in the erection of a fine large two-story stone building at a cost of $8,000, for the payment of which bonds were issued by the district to the amount of $6,000. The building contains four school rooms, three of which are in the lower story and one above, the remaining part of the second floor being reserved for a town hall. The schools are in a flourishing condition with an enrollment of 347 pupils.

Howard City is the seat of Government for the county, also the chief town, being surrounded by a good farming country as it seems destined to maintain its superiority over the other towns. The business men of the town are active, energetic and progressive, and are ready at all times to assist in any measure to advance the good of the town. Already fine large business blocks of brick and stone are seen, and handsome dwellings adorn the streets. With all her advantageous surroundings it is safe to predict a bright future for this progressive little city.


On the 27th of October, 1877, a petition signed by J. R. Hall, and a number of the citizens of the town was presented to the District Court, asking that the town of Howard be incorporated as a city of the third class. The court gave attention and passed upon the matter granting the prayer of the petitioners. In accordance with the legal forms, an election was held for the choosing of officers for the city government, resulting in the election of the following corps of officers:

A. B. Steinbarger, Mayor; A. M. Bowen, Police Judge; H. A. Lanman, City Clerk; William Crooks, City Treasurer; J. A. Oliphant, City Attorney; William M. Vinson, Street Commissioner and City Marshal; N. Momma, William Driscoll, J. Q. Burchfield, S. Lucas, James Howell, Councilmen.

At the last election held for the choosing of officers for the city, the following were elected:

Asa Thompson, Mayor; R. N. Ashmore, Police Judge; J. A. Oliphant, City Attorney; J. M. McKnight, Clerk; T. C. Hatton, Treasurer; J. B. Dobyns, T. S. Fuller, Z. W. Kirby, J. F. Lewis, Thomas Bruce, Councilmen; D. McFarland, Marshal.


The citizens of Howard City were early and prompt in their attention to "spiritual necessities," and did not long remain outside of the sound of Gospel preaching. Services under the auspices of different denominations, had been held at various times and places in the neighborhood, but no regular organization was made in the town until 1872, at which time the northern branch of the Methodist Church was established.

The Methodist Episcopal Church North, was established in the spring of 1872, under the especial direction of Rev. L. F. Laverty, with a membership of ten. The early services were held in a log cabin, the residence of O. M. Tabor, until the schoolhouse was built, to which place they were afterward removed. A church edifice was begun in the summer of 1880, completed in the following year, and dedicated to sacred and religious uses on July 5, 1881, by Rev. Bernard Kelley, of Wichita. The increase in the membership has been moderately rapid, the church having now a total of seventy-five members in full and regular standing.

The Southern branch of the Methodist Church was established during the summer of l874, by N. G. Faubin and had at that time fifteen members. The denomination have not as yet provided themselves with any regular church building of their own, but continue to hold meetings in the church belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church North.

The congregation at this time is under the spiritual instruction and guidance of the Rev. W. H. Comer.

The United Presbyterian Church was organized in the summer of 1877 with fourteen members, under the direction of the Rev. E. Meyn. Meetings were held in the schoolhouse until the erection of a church edifice by the congregation. The church building was erected during the summer of 1879, and is a one- story wooden structure. Rev. Mr. Tarr is present pastor in charge of the congregation.

The city of Howard among her institutions has three flourishing secret societies. These are the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Royal Arch Masons and the A., F. & A. M. societies.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was instituted at this place on the 14th of April, 1876, under the direction of Special District Deputy, E. H. Nichols, P. G., of Elk Falls Lodge. The officers elected and installed were:

M. Barrickman, Noble Grand; W. M. Vincent, Vice Grand; L. W. Kirby, Recording Secretary; A. W. Kirby, Permanent Secretary; J. B. Dobyns, Treasurer.

The organization of the lodge took place with eighteen as membership, which now numbers forty-five in good standing. The lodge is officered as follows:

A. W. Kirby, Noble Grand; D. H. Hayner, Vice Grand; R. F. Glenn, Secretary; J. B. Dobyns, Treasurer.

The Howard Chapter, No. 49, Royal Arch Masons, was established in June, 1881, and R. H. Nichols was elected High Priest; J. W. Riley, King; William Driscoll, Scribe; N. Momma, Secretary; J. B. Lewis, Treasurer.

The lodge began with a membership of sixteen, but this number has since increased to twenty-five. The present officers of the lodge are as follows:

R H. Nichols, High Priest; J. M. McKnight, King; J. B. Dobyns, Scribe; N. Momma, Secretary; J. B. Lewis, Treasurer.

Hope Lodge, No. 155, A., F. & A. M., organized October 22, 1871, at Howard City, by electing Daniel W. French, Worshipful Master; P. M. Vinson, Senior Warden; Edward Lee, Junior Warden; A. B. Hicks, Secretary; J. Shook, Treasurer. At the date of institution, the lodge numbered nineteen members. There are at present forty-two of a membership under the guidance of J. M. McKnight, Worshipful Master; H. R. Farrer, Senior Warden; A. Gable, Junior Warden; J. B. Dobyns, Secretary; J. B. Lewis, Treasurer.


The history of the Howard City press is considerably varied, being a record of a successive establishment of papers, followed closely by a removal or suspension of the same. And of the many that have started, only two remain. The first paper established in the town was the Howard County Messenger, which had its birth in the winter of 1872, under the direction and ownership of Turner & Kelley, and after a year of life at this place, was sold to A. B. Hicks, and taken to Boston.

The publication of the Beacon was begun at Howard City, in the spring of 1875, by A. B. Steinbarger. This sheet flourished for a while, and expired in December of the same year.

The material belonging to the Boston Messenger was bought in the spring of 1875, by W (sic) E. Doud, who immediately removed the same to Howard, and began the issue of the Censorial, which continued only about six months, and was then taken to Eureka, Greenwood County, Kan.

J. A. Somerby commenced the publication of the Kansas Rural in the summer of 1877, but meeting with insufficient success, the paper languished, and after the brief existence o} four months, "passed in its type."

The Weekly Examiner began at Elk Falls, January 22, 1878, under the proprietorship of C. A. Gitchell, and was removed to Howard city. March 11, 1878, and on the 12th day of July, of that year, suspended publication.

The Industrial Journal was established July 24, 1878, by Van Hyatt & Somerby. It was Independent in polities, and enjoyed but a brief period of existence, when it was forced to yield to the pressure of hard times.

The Courant, at present in successful operation, is the outgrowth or continuation of a paper of the same name, which A. B. Steinbarger brought from Elk City to Longton, in November, 1874. After remaining about one year at Longton, it again changed location, and pulled up at Howard. In 1877. the paper was consolidated with the Elk County Ledger, a paper which had been started by A. Reynolds, at Longton, in 1870, as the Howard County Ledger, and was the first in the county. Reynolds removed his paper to Elk Falls in the Spring of l874, and again in the fall of l876 "pulled up stakes" and "struck tent" at Howard, where, after the division of Howard County the name of the sheet was changed to that of the Elk County Ledger, which he continued to publish up to the time of the consolidation with the Courant assuming the title of the Courant-Ledger. In 1879, the name was again changed being called the Courant. The paper changed hands in October, 1881, being sold to the Courant Company. composed of Asa Thompson & Sons, who have since continued in its publication. It is an eight column folio, Republican in politics, and has a circulation of 1,200 copies.

The Howard Journal began first as the Elk County Examiner, at Elk Falls, in 1876, under the ownership of Charles Gitchell. After two months at that place, it was brought to Howard, and in 1878, was sold to J. G. Albright. and leased to P. Van Hyatt and J. H. Somerby, who changed the name, giving it the title of the Industrial Journal Albright kept possession of the paper until the fall of 1880, when it was purchased by J. R. Hall, and combined with the Howard Clipper. a small campaign sheet which Hall had established a short time previously. The paper is Democratic in politics, live and energetic in advocating all matters of local interest, and exerts a wide influence in the community.

[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]