PAUL TURNER produced this selection.

William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas
was first published in 1883 by A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL.


PART 1: Location and Topography | Map and Population | Streams, Soil and Mineral Resources
PART 2: Early History | County Organizations and County Buildings
PART 3: Agricultural Fairs, Manufactures, Etc. | School and Other Statistics | Post-Offices
PART 4: Ellsworth
PART 5: Biographical Sketches (Alden - Lyons)
PART 6: Biographical Sketches (McCoy - Zessler)
PART 7: Wilson


ELLSWORTH County is comprised in that portion of the State of Kansas which commences at the east line of Range 6, west of the Sixth Principal Meridian, running thence west to the west line of Range 10, and embracing Townships 14, 15, 16 and 17. The county is twenty-four miles north and south, and thirty miles east and west, and contains 460,800 acres, or 720 square miles. This territory is divided into eight civil townships, and three commissioner districts.

The boundary lines of the county are straight, except that the north half of the county appears to be pushed over to the westward about one-fourth of a mile, which causes the east line of the south half of the county to be a little further eastward than the corresponding line of the north half, and correspondingly therewith, the west line of the north half is a littler westward of the same line of the south half. The geographical position of the county is central, the exact center of the State being about a mile east of the south west corner of Township 17, Range 9, of Ellsworth County. A line drawn across the center of the State, from east to west, would pass along the southern boundary line of the county, while a central line from north to south would pass through Range 9 in said county, and close to the west line of said range. The county is bounded on the north by Lincoln County, on the south by Rice County, on the east by Saline and the northern portion of McPherson, and on the west by the south half of Russell County and the north half of Barton. The east line of Ellsworth County is one hundred and eighty miles west of the east line of the State.

The surface of the county is somewhat diversified, and may be divided into bottom land, upland, and land that is bluffy. The bottom land that is confined to the margins of streams and creeks, and are denominated valleys. These valleys are very limited in extent, not exceeding one mile in width at the widest part, and in many places being as narrow as one fourth of a mile. The aggregate of these valleys is not quite equal to one-eighth of the area of the county. Township 14, Range 6, which is the north-eastern township of the county, is exceedingly bluffy. In Township 14, Range 7, a long line of bluffs extends from the north line of the township, as far south as Section 28, following the east bank of the Elkhorn, while from the west bank of the creek, long stretches of bluffy land extend westward. The north half of the northwest township of the county is beautiful undulating prairie, but in the south half of the township there is a chain of bluffs which extend to the west line of the county, about a mile or so north of the Smoky Hill River. In the extreme southwest of the township, there is a cluster of bluffs, known as Cedar Bluffs, the average height of which is over one hundred feet.

In Township 15, Range 10, a range of bluffs extend along the north bank of the Smoky, which run as far east as the east line of Section 35, in Range 8, varying in distance from one-fourth to a mile from the river. Commencing at the west line of the county, and immediately south of the Smoky, which is the northwest corner of Township 15, Range 10, there is a chain of bluffs which extend as far east as Blood Creek, and at this point they make a turn and follow the west bank of the creek as far south as Section 16. Another line of bluffs extend from the west bank of Blood Creek north to the Smoky, and thence south to Section 24, when they change to southwestern direction, running as far as Section 27.

Commencing again at the southeast corner of Section 13, the land is bluffy to the south line of the township. In Township 15, Range 9, besides the bluffs on the north of the Smoky, there is a range beginning at the west line of the township, which runs in a southeastern direction as far as Section 29, when they take a northward turn as far as Section 21, and thence to the east line of the township. Section 25 of this township and range is exceedingly bluffy, with here and there large ledges of rock.

The southern half of the county is mostly undulating upland, except, that there are some bluffs along Ash Creek and on both sides of the Smoky, and the southeastern township of the county which is very bluffy, as it is also in the vicinity of Bluff Creek, in Township 17, Range 7. The remainder of the county, which is by far the greater part, is beautiful rolling prairie and table land.

The face of the county is considerably scarified with creeks, all of which, with the exception of Elkhorn on the north, and Plum Creek on the south, empty into the Smoky Hill River, the course of the latter being from the northwest to the southeast. The timber land of the county, taken altogether, does not equal one percent of the whole area, and what there is, is confined entirely to the streams, although not all of these have timber upon them. The timber is not in heavy bodies, but in narrow strips along the Smoky Hill River, and Buffalo, Oak, Elkhorn, Blood, Turkey, Oxhide, Ash, Thompson and Bluff creeks. That on the Smoky is chiefly cottonwood, but on the other streams it is a mixture of box elder, hackberry, walnut, ash, elm and oak.



||                           | 1870. | 188 .(sic)
||(a)  Columbia Township     |       | 1,017 |
||(b)  Ellsworth Township,   |       |       |
||including Ellsworth City   |   448 | 1,378 |
||     Empire Township       |       | 3,134 |
||(c)  Green Garden Township |       |   436 |
||(d)  Lincoln Township      |       |   302 |
||(e)  Noble Township        |       |   408 |
||(f)  Valley Township       |       |   753 |
||(g)  Wilson Township       |       | 1,066 |
||     Total                 | 448   | 8,494 |
||Ellsworth City             |       |   929 |

(a) Organized in 1874, from part of Ellsworth.
(b) In 1873, part detached to form Wilson;
in 1874, part to Columbia; in 1876, part to Valley.
(c) Organized in 1880, from part of Valley.
(d) Organized in 1880, from part of Valley.
(e) Organized in 1880, from part of Wilson.
(f) Organized in 1876, from part of Ellsworth;
in 1880, parts detached to form Green Garden and Lincoln.
(g) Organized in 1873, from part of Ellsworth;
in 1880, part detached to form Noble.


The principal stream in the county is the Smoky Hill River, which, entering the county about six miles south of the northwest corner, flows in a southwesterly direction until it reaches Fort Harker, located in nearly the center of the county, when its course becomes due south for about three miles, when it makes a sudden turn northeast, which course it follows about five miles, when it makes another sudden turn to the southeast, and pursuing this direction for nearly two miles, it again turns northeast, which following for a few miles, the next turn it makes is to the southwest, following which it makes a curve and runs towards the northeast, when it again bends and takes up its southeasterly direction until it leaves the county about five miles north of the southeast corner.

The Smoky is fed by several tributaries, chief of which is Mule, Bluff, Thompson, Ash and Turkey creeks from the south, and Elm, Clear, Oak, Buffalo and Wilson from the north. Besides these are numerous minor streams both north and south, which occasionally help to swell the Smoky, but which are as often without water as with it. The only stream in the county that does not empty into the Smoky, is Plum Creek, which has its rise in the western portion of the county, and, after flowing about ten miles in a southeasterly direction, leaves the county and enters Rice County on the south, where it empties into Cow Creek. There are several very excellent springs in the county, chief of which is the Bradley Spring in the south, and Rock Spring in the east. Good well water can be found anywhere in the county without much difficulty, at depths varying from fifteen to fifty feet.

The soil is of about the same character as that of most counties in Central Kansas a black loam. In the bottom lands or valleys along the streams, the soil is very deep. These valleys, however, are very limited in extent, being long, narrow strips, along the margins of the creeks, located sometimes on one side of the streams, and sometimes on the other, alternating in accordance with the changes in the direction of the water courses. The soil in these valleys is of great depth and richness. In the higher lands, however, it is far different. In the center of the county, the soil on the table-lands is not over eighteen inches in depth, while in the southeastern portion much deeper. In the northeast again, it is very shallow, while in the northwest, north of the line of bluffs that mark the Smoky, the soil is excellent.

Different sub-soils are found in different portions of the county. In one place it will be clay, in another sand, in another limestone and in another sandstone. The county, however, is included in the "Golden Belt," and, in proportion to the acreage in cultivation, yields immense crops. The extensive stretch of beautiful rolling prairie which includes about the west three-fourths of the south half of the county, is as magnificent a country as the eye ever rested upon. So beautiful is it that a portion of it has been given the name of "Green Garden."

The soil is well adapted to the cultivation of all kinds of cereals, and with a moderate rainfall, yields abundantly. Ellsworth County, however, is one more adapted by nature for sheep and stock-raising, than it is for agriculture, but that portion which may be termed agricultural possesses every advantage that nature could give it.

So far as yet developed, coal has been the only product in the mineral line yet discovered, and this has been found in different portions of the county. Where a country is so destitute of timber as is Ellsworth County, no happier discovery could have been made, and none of greater value to the people, of from which greater benefits could flow. By this discovery, fuel was brought within easy reach of a great many settlers, and within a reasonable distance of all, at reasonable rates and in sufficient quantity to meet all home demands. At present, seven banks are being worked with a considerable degree of success. Three of these banks are located immediately south of Wilson, in the bluffs south of the Smoky. These banks are located within a distance of one-half mile. One of them is owned by the Kansas Pacific Railway Company, but is leased to and operated by, John Balridge. The output from this bank in 1882 was about two thousand tons.

Another of these banks is operated by the Smoky Hill Coal Company, composed of Messrs. Eckert, Hines and Latshaw. The product of this bank in 1882 was fifteen hundred tons, valued at $4,500. The wages paid to employes (sic) engaged by this company was $3,500.

The third one of these banks is owned by H. Carhartt, but is operated by Jacob Sackman. The output from this bank during 1882, was not as large as that of either of the others, an approximate estimate setting it down at twelve hundred tons.

To what extent the coal deposits underlying the bluffs exist, has not been demonstrated, and whether they will develop into extensive fields, or prove to be mere pockets, is yet to be determined. The next bank in point of importance, is that of L. H. Westerman, located on Elkhorn Creek about nine miles from Ellsworth. This bank is developing well, and at present, (January 1883.) gives employment to thirty hands. The product of this bank in 1882 was one thousand tons. Another bank, but not so well developed, is worked by J. D. Sibley, on Spring Creek, about three miles west of the east line of the county, (sic) In 1882, this bank yielded two hundred tons; and another bank, operated by J, (sic) Shoemaker, in the northeastern portion of the county, yielded a similar amount.

The quality of the coal mined thus far, is rather inferior, although it burns freely, and answers admirably for fuel. The method pursued in mining is rather primitive, being that system known as drifting, or digging in from the face of the bluffs. There have been no shafts sunk, nor has the work of getting the coal been facilitated by the aid of machinery, all the work, so far, having been done by manual labor. The coal, so far as it has been discovered in the county, runs from two to two and a half feet in thickness.

In some portions of the county a very fair quality of pottery clay is found, but no efforts have been made to utilize it. A clay, said to be terra cotta, is found in the eastern portion of the county, from whitch (sic) "Terra Cotta," a station on the Kansas Pacific Railway, derives its name. Some efforts have been made at making brick, and with considerable success, but the demand not being sufficient to make the business profitable, put a stop to brick-making. The brick in the Grand Central Hotel, court house and schoolhouse, the only three exclusively brick buildings in the county-seat, were made at Ellsworth. There is an abundance of good limestone in the county, alike excellent for building purposes and for making lime.

[TOC] [part 2] [part 1] [Cutler's History]