|KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS|
COUNTY ORGANIZATION AND COUNTY SEAT.
On August 15, 1878, Gov. Anthony appointed the following county officers for Harper County: E. McEnany, Sheriff; B. F. Lee, Surveyor; J. L. Rinehart, Treasurer; H. E. Jesseph, Clerk; R. B. Dawson, Probate Judge; W. R. Kirkpatrick, Attorney; H. C. Fisler, Register of Deeds; R. H. Lockwood, County Superintendent of Public Instruction; T. H. Stevens, F. B. Singer and J. B. Glenn were appointed County Commissioners, but the latter refused to serve, and there was no third Commissioner until the regular election in the fall of 1878. A wit of quo warranto was at once brought to test the validity of this appointment and the action of the Governor sustained.
On August 27, 1878, the county was divided by three parallel lines funning east and west into three County Commissioners' Districts. At the same time, eight voting precincts were established as follows: Chikaskia, at the house of J. W. Clehause; Harper, at Harper City; Lake, at Cooper's Ranch; Silver Creek, at Freeman's; Anthony, at Anthony; Ruella, at Perry's; Stohrville, at S. G. Reid's; Spring, at L. Cooper's.
At the first meeting of the County Commissioners, held August 26, 1878, the offices of County Clerk, Treasurer and Register of Deeds were found to be vacant, and Henry E. Jesseph was appointed County Clerk, L. J. Rinehart, Treasurer, and G. W. Francis, Register of Deeds; at the same time the bond of Sheriff William McEnany was approved. All officers of 1878 held over to 1880, the ballots of the 1879 election having been spirited away as is elsewhere related. The roster runs as follows: County Clerks, H. E. Jesseph, 1878-79; E. A. Rice, 1880-81-82. County Attorneys, S. U. Mitchell, 1878-79-80-81; J. Paul Grove, 1882. Treasurers, L. J. Rinehart, 1878-79; R. B. Elliott, 1880; T. O. Moffett, 1881-82. Sheriffs, C. D. Bickford, 1878-79; F. W. Privet, 1880-82; Probate Judges, E. M. Watrous, 1878-79; George W. Vickers, 1880-81; W. S. Cade, 1882. Registers of Deeds, R. J. Simpson, 1878-79; George A. Zacharias, 1880-81-82. Clerks of the District Court, J. W. Clendenin, 1878- 79; A. H. Broadstone, 1880-81-82. County Superintendents of Public Instruction, R. H. Lockwood, 1878-79; J. T. Botkin, 1880-81; S. A. Vankirk, 1882. County Surveyors, G. W. Vickers, 1878-79; E. J. Kline, 1880; J. B. Glenn, 1881-82. C. S. Loyd has filled the office of Coroner from the date of organization to the present time. H. C. Fisler was elected as Representative from the One Hundred and Twenty-eighth District, in 1878, and R. B. Carr in 1882.
When the old organization of the county was effected, Bluff City, a bare piece of prairie, several miles northwest of Anthony, was designated as the seat of justice. But one building was ever erected here, and when the new organization was effected in 1878, Bluff City was an almost unknown spot. At the first meeting of the County Commissioners, held August 26, 1878, the following was ordered spread upon the record: "To all whom it may concern: Know ye, that we, the undersigned Commissioners of the county of Harper, State of Kansas, did on the day of our first session as Commissioners of said county and State, at Anthony assembled, this, the 26th day of August, 1878, procured conveyance and made diligent search for the alleged town of Bluff City, and supposed to be the county seat of said county of Harper and State of Kansas; and be it further known that we failed to find any town or village, or anything resembling or pertaining to a town or village, nor do we believe that there is any such place in said county. Therefore, we do hereby designate the town of Anthony, county of Harper aforesaid, as a temporary county seat of said county. T. H. Stevens, Chairman, F. B. Singer, Commissioner."
The first county seat election took place at the time of the general election of November, 1879. At that time, the county had about 800 legal voters and the casting of a total vote of 2,960 may be regarded as slightly suspicious. This view the County Commissioners took of the matter, and instead of canvassing the vote, left the ballots in the poll boxes and sought legal light on the subject. Returning to count the ballots, they found that all had been purloined and the boxes were empty. Notwithstanding, the County Attorney issued a writ to compel the canvass of the vote; but as the Commissioner had gone on a hunting trip to the Indian Territory, the writ remained unserved sic. The people of Anthony then applied for an alternative writ of mandamus to compel a count, and the citizens of Harper made the same move. Both applications coming in at nearly the same time, that of Harper was granted, and a writ was served on the County Commissioners. An answer covering 110 pages of legal cap was returned by J. A. McPhee, attorney for the Anthony party. This answer alleged fraudulent and illegal voting, and was met by a motion from the Harper party to strike out all clauses charging fraud. This motion was overruled by Justice Brewer of the Supreme Court on the ground that 2,960 votes were too many for 800 men to cast. Somewhat later, R. P. Shepard, Deputy County Attorney, secured an order for a count from the old tally sheets, and the result was found to be in favor of Anthony. There has never been a second county seat election, but R. B. Carr, the present member of the Legislature has introduced a petition for a bill calling for a special county seat election on May 5, 1883. This petition is numerously signed, but no more so than the accompanying remonstrance from the Anthony party.
On January 10, 1881, the city of Anthony held an election to decide upon the question of issuing twelve bonds of $250 each, to run ten years and bear ten per cent sic interest, the proceeds to be used in the construction of a town hall and jail. The bonds were carried, and at once sold to S. L. Davidson for $2,880. Work was at once begun on the present court house, and May 31 of the same year the city of Anthony donated the city hall to the county in consideration of $1. This donation was accompanied by the stipulation that when the county ceased to use the hall for court house purposes, it should revert to the city. The $3,000 voted by the city will cover but one-half of the cost of this court house, but, while the County Commissioners have no right to build a court house without submitting a proposition to the people, they have the right to repair buildings in use. This they have done so liberally as to make the unfinished building donated to the county a very neat and habitable place.
The educational history of the county begins with the year 1878, and the first report of a County Superintendent of Public Instruction was made for the year ending July 1, 1879. At that time there were twenty-four school districts, a school population of 683 (between five and twenty-one years of age), an enrollment of 214, and an average attendance of 141 scholars. There was only one schoolhouse in the county, and the value of all school property was given at $100. In 1880, there were thirty-seven school districts, a school population of 1,151, an enrollment of 542, and an average attendance of 374. There were two school buildings in the county, and the value of all school property was $2,212. Bonds to the amount of $1,300 had been issued, the total receipts had been $3,057.36, and the total expenditures $4,148.28. The summary for the year ending August 11, 1882, shows forty-one school districts organized, a school population of 1,424, an enrollment of 1,011, an average attendance of 663, a bonded indebtedness of $11,555, and an issue of bonds to the amount of $4,615 during the current year. There were twenty-four frame school buildings in the county, and the value of all school property is set at $14,250. The total receipts of the year were $7,107.47, and the total disbursements $5,960.53. This showing is very creditable to so new a county, and is one that those who hold dear the solid growth of their home may well feel pride in scanning.
The immense growth in the wealth of the county and its taxable property may be seen from the fact that the taxes of 1879 were $138.80; of 1880, $2,721.25; of 1881, $19,834.07, and of 1882, $29, 392.96.