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


[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]


In 1858, a number of horses were stolen in the county. Suspicion fell on two men named Shaw and Johnson, and finally their guilt became sufficiently evident to warrant an arrest. They were taken to a house on upper Middle Creek, tried by a "Squatters' Court," and sentenced to be hanged. A party headed by P. P. Elder came up from Ohio City to prevent the hanging, if possible, and succeeded for a time in saving the lives of the condemned. But at night they were taken past the Sac and Fox Agencies to an island in the Marais des Cygnes and hanged to a tree. This was a serious blow to the business of horse-stealing in that part of the county.

In 1863, an organization, distinguished by the name of the "Red Heads," existed in Missouri. They plundered and murdered Unionists and Rebels indiscriminately. Mutual attempts were made to capture them, and they were at length driven into Kansas, locating in different parts of the State. In January, 1864, one of their number, James Bailey, went from Lawrence to Ohio City, and went to work for John Hendricks. He also became a mail carrier. At this time, James Fitton was County Treasurer, and H. F. Sheldon, Registrar of Deeds. Each had a key to the county safe. One morning in the latter part of February, Bailey was missing, as was a horse belonging to Hendricks, his employer. It was also found that the safe had been opened, considerable money stolen as well as some valuable papers, and Mr. Sheldon's key to the safe could not be found. While no suspicions were attached to Mr. Sheldon, yet, fearing such might be the case unless the thief were caught, he adopted the most vigorous measures for the capture and return of Bailey, the suspected criminal. Sheldon pursued, and captured him at Gasconade, Mo. Upon arriving at Jefferson City, the prisoner was placed under guard, while Sheldon returned to a railroad cut, in passing through which he had seen Bailey throw something out of the car window. Here he found some $300 of the amount stolen, and some of the papers. Bailey, after again escaping, and being recaptured, was taken to Lawrence, where he was induced to confess belonging to the "Red Heads," and to give information which fastened upon them the guilt of numerous other thefts in the county and vicinity, and which led to the breaking up of all their many bands. Among those exposed, were the old man Stevens and his two sons, living near Stanton, Miami County, who had committed several thefts. It transpired that the three had stolen a pair of mules belonging to a Mr. Tulloss, of Peoria Township, and one of the boys had stolen a span of horses from a Mr. Roberts, and sold them at Fort Scott for $400. Upon his return he had accepted from Mr. Roberts $25 to assist in finding and capturing the thief. The mules had been taken to Leavenworth by the elder brother.

On the night that these developments were made, the father and younger brother were arrested by eighty-three citizens of the neighborhood, and hanged to a tree. The older brother was captured by the Sheriff, C. L. Robbins, and taken to Ohio City. On the night of his arrival, he was taken to the woods by about sixty of the citizens, and likewise hanged to a tree. These summary proceeding had a tendency to discourage horse-stealing again for a time.

Through the confessions of Bailey and Stevens, the leader of the whole gang of the "Red Heads" was apprehended and captured. At the time of his capture, he was playing the role of a Methodist minister, leading a camp meeting in Jefferson County. He and four others were hanged within a mile of the camp-meeting grounds. Bailey hanged himself in the Lawrence jail.

All the money stolen from the county safe was recovered, except about $275. Mr. Sheldon was exonerated from all blame in connection with the affair, ex-Gov. Wilson Shannon giving it as his opinion that reasonable care had been exercised by him in protecting the county's property, which was all the law required.


Franklin County was organized in 1855, and named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, the illustrious American philosopher. A partial set of officers was appointed by the Governor, and in 1857 an election was held and a full set of officers was chosen. Part of them declined to qualify, and in the spring of 1858 the vacancies were filled. The first officers of the county were as follows: Commissioners--J. A. Marcell, Wm. Thornbrough, and John F. Javens; J. A. Marcell also being Probate Judge; Clerk, Robt. Cowdin, Treasurer, T. J. Mewhinney; Sheriff, C. L. Robbins; Prosecuting Attorney, P. P. Elder; Register of Deeds, Wm. Austin; Coroner, John Bingham. On March 15, 1858, the Commissioners at their meeting divided the county into six townships as follows: Centropolis, Chippewa, Ohio, Ottawa, Peoria and Pottawatomie. At the first of the elections under the Wyandotte Constitution movement, April 16, 1859, Franklin County cast ninety-one votes for a Constitution and one against one. On the 7th of June, at the election for delegates to the Wyandotte Convention, Judge James Hanway received 217 to 116 for Joab Tony. On October 4 following, Franklin County cast 301 votes for the Wyandotte Constitution to 111 against it. At the election held November 8, for delegate to Congress, Marcus J. Parrott, Republican candidate, received 265 votes to 172 for Saunders W. Johnson, Democratic candidate. At the same election P. P. Elder was elected to the Territorial Council, receiving 283 votes to 201 for Isaiah Pile, and Henry Shively was elected to the House of Representatives by a vote of 221 to 216 votes for John F. Javeus. On November 6, 1860, James Hanway was elected to the House of Representatives by 244 votes to 190 for all others.

Since Kansas has been a state Franklin County has had in the State Senate the following citizens: P. P. Elder, Jacob G. Reece, D. M. Valentine, A. Wiley, P. P. Elder, N. Merchant, A. M. Blair, W. L. Parkinson, J. P. Harris and A. W. Benson.

The following citizens of Franklin County have been members of the State House of Representative: W. H. H. Lawrence, J. A. Marcell, D. M. Valentine, H. V. Beeson, G. W. E. Griffith, Isaiah Pile, James W. Smith, Hugh A. Cook, James Hanway, Wm. Pennock, Jacob G. Reese, William E. Kibble, J. M. Loos, James N. Foster, H. P. Welch, T. C. Bowles, John McClanahan, James Hanway, George T. Pierce, J. M. Loos, H. P. Welch, Wm. H. Clark, Wm. H. Schofield, E. J. Nugent, Wm. Bateman, C. B. Mason, J. H. Harrison, P. P. Elder, J. N. Foster, P. P. Elder, J. Dunnuck, R. E. Genness, P. P. Elder, James Robb, J. A. Towle, C. P. Crouch and W. B. Bass.

The contests over the county seat have been numerous and exciting. It was first located at St. Bernard by the legislature in 1855. When St. Bernard became extinct, the county seat was transferred to Minneola. An election was held March 26, 1860, to relocate it, at which Ohio City received 243 votes, Peoria 206 and Minneola 182. No place having received a majority of the votes cast, another election was held April 16, 1860, at which Peoria received 342 votes, and Ohio City 320. Then followed a contest between Peoria and Minneola. The latter place enjoined the removal of the records. A law suit followed, which Peoria won. Minneola appealed to the County Court, and gained the decision. Peoria carried the case to the Supreme Court of the Territory. While the case was pending in the Court, the Territorial Legislature passed an act re-submitting the whole matter to the people. This was on January 21, 1861, three days after the Territory was admitted to the Union as a State. The re-submitting of the question complicated matters to such an extent that Peoria had to consult counsel. Counsel opined that the Territorial Legislature had no right to pass any law after the Territory became a State, and advised pressing the matter in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided that as the Legislature had not been notified of the admission of the State into the Union, its acts were legal. The case was therefore re-submitted to the people and decided in favor of Minneola.

The next election on the question was held March 25, 1861. Ohio City received 243 votes; Peoria, 127; Centropolis, 98; Mount Vernon, 26; Minneola, 1. No place having received a majority another election was necessary. This was held April 15, following. Ohio City received 363 votes; Peoria, 37. Ohio City therefore became the county seat, and so remained until another election held August 1, 1864, decided the question in favor of Ottawa. At this election Ottawa received 261 votes; Peoria, 40; Ohio City, 36 and Centropolis, 1. Ottawa having a majority of the votes cast no other election was required.


In the spring of 1861 there were 2,500 inhabitants in the county, scattered along the northern and eastern borders, with a somewhat compact settlement a little south of the center at Ohio City. The remainder of the county was given over to Indians on their reservations. There was little village life, and no rallying points, and consequently those whom patriotism impelled hastened to Lawrence and other near stations to enlist. Company D, of the Twelfth Infantry, was the only company wholly recruited in the county. It was mustered September 25, 1862, and was officered by George W. Ashby, of Ohio City, Captain; Henry Shively, near Stanton, First Lieutenant, and Alfred Johnson of Peoria, Second Lieutenant. But the county furnished, nevertheless, individuals or squads to almost every regiment organized in the state, till there was hardly an able-bodied man who was not under arms. There were twenty enlisted men in the First Kansas Infantry and about the same number in the second. These regiments participated in the bloody fight of Wilson's Creek, August 10, 1861, and the little town of Minneola alone lost in that battle five men killed. The county also furnished sixteen men to the First Battery, a large number to the Second Cavalry, and probably fifty to the Sixteenth Infantry. Less is known in regard to the other regiments, and what little can be ascertained, in any case, is from the fading recollections of the survivors. The total enlistment and number of casualties and deaths can only be rudely approximated. In October, 1864, Gov. Carney called out the State Militia to repel the invasion threatened by General Sterling Price. The Tenth Kansas State Militia, among others, promptly responded to the call. This regiment had been recruited from Franklin and Anderson Counties. The regimental officers were William Pennock, Colonel of Centropolis; Miles Morris, Lieutenant-Colonel, Garnett; A. Niley, Major, Garnett; J. K. Goodkin, Adjutant, Minneola; I. C. Huges, Quarter Master, Minneola; Mr. F. Holiday, Surgeon, Lane. Company A was from Centropolis and Minneola, Companies C and D from Peoria; Companies F and L from Ottawa, Company G from Ohio City, and most of Company H, from Berea. There were no battles or skirmishes within the limits of the county.


This Order, created in the interest of the agricultural class, and having for specifics objects "to develop a better and higher manhood and womanhood among them; to enhance the comfort and attractions of their homes, and to foster mutual understanding and co-operation" had its beginnings in this county, in the organization, February 14, 1873, of Franklin Grange No. 22, by J. A. Cramer, State Lecturer. This Grange was in South Centropolis Township, and had for its officers, W. S. Hanna, master; G. G. Whartin, overseer; J. C. B. Wharton, lecturer, and M. Jenkins, secretary. Mr. Cramer also organized, a little later, Liberty Grange, Greenwood Township; Ohio City Grange, Ohio Township, and Wheatland Grange, Centropolis Township. Meanwhile, W. S. Hanna, of Franklin Grange, was promoted to county deputy, and pushed forward the work of the organization so energetically, that within a year there were thirty-three Granges in the county, with a membership little short of one thousand. Mr. Hanna, now a substantial farmer of Centropolis Township, as county deputy, state deputy, state chaplain and state lecturer, successively, followed up the work three years, till he had visited seventy counties, lectured in forty, and organized one hundred and forty (140) Granges. So rapid was the development of this Order. Its decline, after a vigorous life of seven years, has been equally rapid, till at date, there is scarcely an organization sustained in the county. But the fruits of the Grange have been neither transient nor insignificant. They are everywhere manifest in the greater consideration in which the agricultural community is held, in the more independent bearing of the farmers, and in their better acquaintance, not only with each other, but with men and affairs generally. Fifteen years ago, it would have been difficult to find East or West, in any locality, so many farmers at ease in public meetings either in the chair, or in debate on the floor, as are now to be found in this county. The best features of the Grange must in some form survive.


There are ninety school districts in the county, and eighty-nine schoolhouses. According to the census of 1881, there were 6,025 children between the ages of five and twenty-one; 4,543 enrolled and 2,934 in average daily attendance. The number of teachers employed, exclusive of the Ottawa public schools, 95; the average wages paid to male teachers was $32.60, to females, $21.45. An advance in wages was made the next year, and a higher standard of qualification required in the teachers. The value of school sites and houses was $88,830; of furniture, $7,265; apparatus $1,537; and of books, $420; total value of school property, $98,052.

In 1881 the Franklin County Teachers' Association adopted an eight years' course of study for district schools. The highest studies for the eighth year are history, geography, book-keeping, grammar and arithmetic. The first class to graduate in this course in Franklin County, graduated July 7, 1882, in district No. 41, W. A. Altman, teacher. The names of the graduates are Mary Lester, May Farnum, Agnes Farnum, Carrie Bohnet, Ella Gillett and Emma Gillett.

The first normal institute was held in 1874 by Prof. William Wheeler at the public school building in Ottawa. There were about forty teachers in attendance. In 1875 and 1876, Prof. Wheeler conducted similar institutes. In 1877 the first one was held under the present law, and each year there have been in attendance about 150 teachers.

Franklin County is well supplied with railroads. The Kansas City, Lawrence, Kansas & Southern Kansas runs from north to south through the county. There is also a line operated by the same company, running from Ottawa, through Olathe, to Kansas City, fifty-five miles distant. The Ottawa & Burlington runs southwesterly, from Ottawa to Burlington in Coffey County. The Leroy Branch of the Missouri Pacific runs from Osawatomie, Miami County to Ottawa, and the Kansas City & Emporia is in course of construction westward to Emporia. The Missouri Pacific runs across the southeast corner of the county. All these roads, except the last, center in Ottawa, the county seat.

Railroad Bonds.--It may be questioned whether these roads would have been built without local aid. It cannot be, whether they were. The first bond election was held November 6, 1866, on the question of voting $125,000 to the L. L. & G. Railroad, which was carried, and the second was held September 23, 1867, on the question of raising the amount to $200,000. This was carried also on the condition that the cars were to be running to Ottawa by January 1, 1868. The vote of Ottawa Township stood 425 for the bonds, to twelve against. All the other townships voted against the bonds by heavy majorities. Total vote for the bonds was 533; against 365. The road was completed to Ottawa, December 30, 1867. The county had subscribed for and had received in payment for its bonds, $200,000 in stock of the road. In 1869 the President of the road, James F. Joy, representing to the Commissioners that the only thing necessary "to secure prosecution of the road" was for the county to surrender its stock, and the surrender of the stock was therefore made on the 19th of July, that year, the county receiving in consideration of the surrender one hundred dollars in cash, according to the county records.

An election was held April 6, 1896, on the question of voting $100,000 in bonds to the Kansas City & Santa Fe, on condition that $50,000 should be issued if the cars were running to Ottawa by July 1, 1870 and $50,000 when they were running to the southern line of the county. In this election those townships through or near which the road was to pass, voted largely for the bonds, while those remote from the line voted largely against them. Ottawa's vote was 504 for the bonds, to eight against them. The total vote of the county was for them, 712; against, 272. The road having been completed only to Ottawa, only $50,000 were issued.

On the 13th of September, 1870, an election was held on issuing $150,000 in bonds to the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad, on certain conditions. Ottawa's vote in this case wad 662 for the bonds, 24 against. The other townships followed the same route as in the preceding case. Peoria stood 129 for, to 9 against; Pomona 25 for, to none against the bonds. The total vote in the county for them 950 to 433 against. These bonds were forfeited by the company failing to build the road.

On July 22, 1872, an election was held on issuing $50,000 to the Kansas City, Burlington & Sante Fe, $100,000 to the Topeka, Ottawa & Fort Scott, and $150,000 to Missouri, Kansas & Texas. Ottawa voted 572 for the bonds, 30 against them. The total vote of the county stood for them, 1,032; against 826. These bonds were all forfeited.

On April 15, 1879, an election was held on donating $20,000 in cash, and issuing $55,000 in bonds to the St. Louis, Kansas & Arizona Railroad, and subscribing for $55,000 of the stock in the road. When the road was completed to Ottawa, the $20,000 in cash was to be paid and $25,000 in bonds issued, and the bonds paid for by the delivery to the county of $25,000 of the stock, a like exchange of $10,000 when the road was completed to through the southeast part of the county, and also $20,000 when the road was completed to the west line of the county, by way of Pomona, or within one mile of Centropolis. The main line of the road was completed, and the Leroy Branch to Ottawa. Subsequently the bonds issued in accordance with this agreement were surrendered by the railroad company and the stock by the county, and also the Pottawatomie township bonds of $12,000, voted at the same time for the same amount of stock held by the township. This exchange was made November 22, 1880.

The Railroad Bonds at present outstanding against the county are 1st, $18,000 of the first issue of $200,000, upon which the interest has not been paid; interest seven per cent. 2d, $233,600 upon which the interest is six per cent. When the total railroad bonded indebtedness had amounted to $310,000, all but $18,000 were refunded at eighty cents on the dollar, and the interest reduced to six percent.


Some attention has been paid to the cultivation of artificial forests and considerable to the cultivation of fruit trees. For 1881, there were reported of honey locust trees, 11 acres; of cottonwood, 14 acres; of walnut, 57 acres; and of maple, 75 acres. Of fruit trees the following numbers were reported: Apple trees, bearing 98,088, not bearing, 54,242; pear trees, bearing, 2,462, not bearing, 5,852; peach trees, bearing, 79,947, not bearing, 25,082; plum trees, bearing, 2,542, not bearing, 2,554; cherry, bearing, 23,722, not bearing 10,832.

There were reported for 1881, the following numbers of rods of the various kinds of fence: Board, 38,536; Rail, 128,163; stone, 32,203, hedge, 343,739; and of wire, 261,953.

In 1860, the population was 3,040; in 1870, 10,385; in 1875, 10,108; in 1878, 12,381, in 1880, 16,800; and in 1882, according to the Assessors' returns, 16,491--divided among the townships as follows: Appanoose, 865; Centropolis, 999; Cutler, 898; Greenwood, 737; Hayes, 655; Harrison, 585; Ottawa, 892; Lincoln, 695; Franklin, 1,093; Ohio, 753; Peoria, 1,079; Pottawatomie, 783; Richmond, 587; Williamsburg, 1,407; and Ottawa City, 4,463.

The total area of the county is 368,640 acres. Of this area 356,069 acres are taxable, and 157,790 acres under cultivation. The aggregate value of the taxable lands is $1,956,669. The total number of village lots is 11,247, of which 4,488 are improved, while 6,759 are unimproved; aggregate value of village lots, $562,107.90. The total value of personal property is $751,298.50; of railroad property, $433,799.61; and of all taxable property, $3,703,875.01.

The personal property of the county is divided into classes as follows: Horses, 9,288, value $249,028; mules, 667, value $23,976; milche cows, 7,966 - other cattle, 17,949, value $223,978; sheep, 5,586, value $3,971; swine, 22,980, value $27,321; vehicles, 2,525, value $40,794; shares in National Bank stock, $45,000; merchandise on hand, $145,738; other property, $323,492; making a grand total of $1,083,298, as assessed, from which, when the construction exemption of $332,000 is deducted, there remains the taxable value of all personal property, $751,298.

Acreage in crops in 1881; of winter wheat, 4,948 acres; spring wheat, 24 acres; rye, 133 acres; corn, 77,299 acres; oats, 9,490 acres; potatoes, 936 acres; sweet potatoes, 11 acres; flax, 4,725 acres; timothy, 1,404 acres; clover, 2,526 acres; other tame grasses, 1,555 acres; and of prairie grasses, 29,055 acres.

[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]