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


[TOC] [part 4] [part 2] [Cutler's History]


In the south central portion of Jackson County is the Diminished Pottawatomie Indian Reservation, embracing in round numbers 77,400 acres of land. Here are located 440 Pottawatomies; 280 being in Wisconsin, 30 in Iowa, and 24 in the Indian Territory.

The Pottawatomies came from the islands near the entrance of Green Bay, and were a branch of the Chippewas or Ojibways, who held the country from the mouth of Green Bay to the head-waters of Lake Superior.

The word Pottawatomie is said by some authorities to signify the act of blowing out the cheeks, as in kindling a fire, and is supposed to refer to the facility which the nation possessed in kindling the ancient council fires of their forefathers. The word is also rendered by some, "I am a man."

Mention is made of the early history of this tribe in the "Sketches of Indian Tribes," in this work. The three bands of Pottawatomies - The Pottawatomies of the Woods, the Christian or Mission band, and the Prairie band occupied the reservation of thirty miles square on the Kansas River from 1847-48 until November 15, 1861, when under provisions of a treaty made and concluded at the Pottawatomie Agency on Cross Creek, now Rossville, the Mission and Wood bands elected to become citizens of the United States, receive patents in fee simple for their allotments of lands, their pro rata shares of the cash credits of the tribe amounting to about $685 for each allottee. There were then about 1,650 allottees. At that time the Prairie band consisted of 780 persons. They elected to hold their lands in common, and accordingly there was set apart for them an undivided quantity, sufficient to allow one section to each chief, half a section to each head man; 160 acres to each head of a family, and 80 acres to each other person, which aggregated 77,357.57 acres.

In 1866, George W. James, was born in 1842, in Baltimore County, Maryland, starting for California, was detained at Rossville on account of sickness, and, on recovering, he became identified with the interests of these people, and has ever since devoted his attention to them. Dr. H. C. Linn, their present agent, regards him as standard authority on any matter connected with them. He is general clerk. In 1874, there were but five houses on the Reserve occupied by Indians; in 1882 there are 105, all of which are habitable, and some of which are very comfortable. In 1875, the Indians thought they could not live in dwellings like white people, they could not get air, and the cyclones would sweep them away. In 1882, they cannot be supplied with the amount of timber they desire and could make a good use of. They have 105 fields, ranging in area from 3 to 150 acres. Surrounding them are some of the very best rail woven fences in Kansas, made of good oak and walnut, eight rails high, staked and double ridered. Forty per cent of them have good gardens, in which they raise a great variety of vegetables in their season. They raise corn and hogs for market in considerable quantities, and they sell other products. There are some 20 mowing machines on the Reserve, and the average Indian has skill to that degree that he can properly use one. In 1880 they had herds of cattle; 1,150 horses; 10 mules; 1,275 swine; 65 sheep; hundreds of fowls.

The Indian boarding school located at the new mission, fifteen miles southwest of Holton, opened in 1875. The grounds embrace 63 acres; and on the farm here opened, the Indian children are taught to labor, and are instructed in good methods of husbandry. The school building, boardinghouse, barn, laundry, etc. cost $12,000. Consequent upon the last treaty made, November 15, 1861, the Prairie band was entitled to 39-100 of the entire assets of the Pottawatomies, which has been set apart for them, and on the books in the Interior Department, their credits are as follows: Permanent annuity, $395,636.42. For support of blacksmith shop, $20,179.86 For support of school, $80,000. Improvement fund, $18,000. General fund with accrued interest, $122,00. Total amount, $635,816.28.

The Prairie band still maintain a tribal government. After the death of Se-noge-wone, his son Wab-sai became head-chief is Sough-nes-see. The first speaker is Masqui, the second, Pis-she-quin. August 5, 1878, the matter came before them in regard to transferring the control of the Indians to the War Department, and the sense of the tribe was expressed by Masqui, who said:

Chiefs and others have stated: "We feel happy and pleased to have a choice to elect how we shall be controlled." I have heard the opinions of the chiefs who say that at the time peace was made with us, they were glad that we inferred from them (the President and Commissioners) that we would be as one people as long as the earth should exist; the President would be our father, who promised to look after our rights; that the day would come when his wars would be settled all over the face of the earth, and for all time the President would protect us in the possession of our property. Therefore the chiefs were satisfied, and are satisfied that such acts have been done. I am indeed ignorant as to how we should be treated if turned over to his (the President's) braves for protection, therefore I would remain as at present, under the care of the interior Department. I will receive full protection and encouragement, and where my property will not be squandered; but will be saved to our children and our children's children, for all time to come. I do not wish to make new rules or contracts, but desire to remain under the guardianship of the government as stipulated in our treaties, and as have been exercised in the past.

At a recent funeral occasion, the speaker alluding to the deceased woman said substantially: "The person now before us, but a few days ago was walking around with us. We may learn from this that we should truthfully speak of, and kindly treat, our fellows; we should be charitable, for as this one needs our charity, so ere long, will we need some of yours."

"The noble red man" does not alone exist in song and story; for among these created intelligences, residing on this Diminished Reservation, are those who have chords, which, if properly touched, are susceptible to that kind of vibration, that this race, the Aborigines of America, may come to the noble Caucasian, and teach him perhaps not wordy lessons so much as worthy examples.

This Prairie band of Indians are many of them, resolutely cultivating the arts of peace. They are just and honest with the whites and themselves; they are developing the holy love of a personal, permanent home; they are comprehending subjects of business presented to them; they are substituting for the sixteen English letters they have heretofore used in their Indian language, all of the English alphabet found necessary to express vocal sounds: they are learning to acquire property; in fine, they are making gradual progress, and their permanent location in Jackson County may bring mutual compensation to themselves and the "superior race."

Jackson County, with a little over one-half of the original territory embraced in Calhoun, when organized in 1855, in 1882 presents herself, when viewed in a physical aspect, as regards the natural wealth of her soil, enhanced as it is by the hand of art and the skill of man; in the inherent richness of manhood, fostered by the generous culture of her schools, churches, societies and the press; in the free and ready commingling of so many of the different races and nationalities of the earth, as the peer of her sister counties, and all these furnish for coming time, much interesting food for the historical student, who, ever and anon, is impressed with the truth of the declaration, "History is philosophy teaching by examples."

Towns of the County. In the ante-bellum days, Elk City, Calhoun, Silver Lake, St. Mary's, Indianola, Rochester, Holton, New Brighton, Smithland, Ontario, and New Eureka, were the centers; though the three last named places were little else than post-offices. Elk City, two miles west of Holton, had a short existence. Calhoun, in the extreme southeastern portion of the county, became defunct in October, 1858, when it ceased to be the shire town. Silver Lake is now a thriving town in Shawnee County, and St. Mary's is in Pottawatomie County; both on the Kansas Division of the Union Pacific. Indianola, near where the State Reform School is located, now exists in story. Rochester retains a few of its old dwellings on the east side of the highway; it has a nice brick schoolhouse, and is now a voting place in Soldier Township, Shawnee County. New Brighton has now become Circleville, a place of some importance on the Kansas Central Railroad. Smithland has gone down to Soldier City on the Kansas Central. The post-office at New Eureka has gone to the high divide, Netawaka. Whiting, on Central Branch of Missouri Pacific, six miles east of Netawaka is thirty-one miles west of Atchison, the main grain-shipping point of the county; in population next to Holton. Larkin, laid out in 1880, near the Kansas Central Railroad, is situated on the county line of Jackson and Atchison counties, the larger portion being in Jackson County. Tippinsville, sometimes called North Cedar, and again Bloomfield, is a few miles southwest of Larkin, an important center in Cedar Township.

In the spring of 1857, Bellevue was laid out as a prospective county-seat town on the southeast quarter of Section 17, Township 8, Range 16, and on its site was a frame house and blacksmith shop. Its life was very short.


The struggling pioneers of Jackson County in 1869, as the heavens refused to furnish the seasonable rains for the sustenance of the seed that had been planted and sown, in the later summer days, began anxiously to inquire, "What shall we eat, and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed?" But a Territorial Relief Committee at Atchison, reported January 18, 1861, goods received to the amount of 1,062,552 pounds, besides articles for wear; and the people of this county went with their teams during the winter and obtained, from which they received a bountiful harvest in 1861. The personal donations from friends in the East, blessed what had been otherwise many a famished home.

Chintz Bugs and Grasshoppers pestered the people, specially in 1862, 1866, 1867, 1874, and 1875. The most serious damage done was by the grasshoppers in the summer and autumn of 1874, and the spring of 1875. To supply the needs of the people of the destitute in that county, the Commissioners sought systematically to ascertain through the Township Trustees, what families were in need, and a "County Warrant Bill," not exceeding $15,000, was passed to furnish necessaries, seed, etc., to destitute inhabitants under the provisions of an act of the Legislature, approved February 18, 1875. This act was a matured bill of Senator Hopkins, of this county. The maximum for each head of a family was fifty bushels of corn, fifteen of oats, ten of wheat, and five of potatoes, for which mortgage notes were required, due in one year, at 10 per cent, interest. This was a serviceable measure.

Grocery, tavern, and dram shop licenses were granted in the Territorial days. The Calhoun County Commissioners, had authorized David Milne, February 23, 1856, to take out a tavern license, he paying therefor $20; April 21, James Kuykendall, had one; August 9, C. A. Fulton, a grocery license; August 18, Andrew Johnson, a tavern license; April 8, 1857, David Milne, John Kennedy, and John F. Cailoz, had dram shop licenses, paying each $30; September 5, 1857, two others were issued, and on October 18, 1859, an applicant's petition for license, was held under advisement at the Commissioners' Court at Holton; Aaron Foster being in favor of the petitioner paying $495 a year, Byron Stewart, $250, C. J. Cowell, $75.

The Holton City Council, June 20, 1872, fixed the license for a dramshop keeper - to be paid in advance - not less than $100, nor more than $300 per year. The vote of Jackson County, November 2, 1880, on the Prohibition Amendment to the State Constitution, was 1,056 votes for, and 1,098 against, whole number, 2,154; on Governor, 2,317; on President, 2,370 votes were cast. Under the Prohibitory Liquor Law, druggists have taken out licenses as follows: May, 1881, M. M. Beck, Holton; Love & Green, Whiting; F. T. Brown & Co, Circleville; July, M. A. Funchess, Netawaka; August, J. W. Fleming, W. W. Naylor, and A. H. Williams, Holton; September, J. D. Pruett, Circleville.

Brown & Co, Circleville were succeeded by Pruett; Messrs. Beck, and Naylor & William, and Love & Green have made a renewal of their permits.

The last dram-shop license granted by the municipal authorities of Holton, was June 10, 1875. The amount of license was $200 per year.

On the vote on the Prohibition Amendment, Grant gave the largest majority for it, 47; Washington Township, the largest majority against it, 87. Six of the townships gave majorities for; four, against the amendment.

The first settler known to have been murdered on the soil of Jackson County, was Felix G. Braden, who came from Jackson Co, Mo., in 1854, and located near Easton, in the County of Leavenworth. He came out west of Holton and obtained a claim, early in 1857, and on the night of April 10, 1857, he was shot through the head with a musket ball and three buckshot. It is supposed the murderer was Martin Thomas, a nephew, who probably obtained some $100 in money. Mr. Braden was a Free-State man; Thomas was Pro-slavery. David Coffin arrested Thomas, but in absence of any direct proof of his guilt, and of courts, he was not detained. Thomas was killed in 1858, at Atchison, in some altercation that arose between him and another outlaw.

The family of the deceased man reached the claim the day after the murder, and Mr. Braden's remains were entombed on what he had struggled to obtain for a home for his family, which consisted of a wife, two daughters, a son, and step-son, all of whom have done most commendable work in the great battlefield of life.


The voters of Jackson County, August 22, 1871, by a vote of 750 to 501, adopted a bond proposition aggregating $160,000 to aid the Kansas Central; $60,000 to be paid when the road reached Holton, $50,000 for a connection at Netawaka with the Missouri Pacific, $50,000, when the road was completed and in running order to the west line of the county. May 4, 1872, by a vote of 555 to 544, the county donated its railroad stock of $160,000 to the company. August 2, 1872 the road was completed to Holton, and a depot built at the point most available to the city, and the County Commissioners at their session, September 4, 1872, regarded $60,000 in bonds as their due. The delay to go on from Holton on the part of the Railroad Company, caused a forfeiture of the balance of the bonds voted, and subsequently the townships of Jefferson and Soldier each voted $18,000 in bonds to aid the road. The bonded railroad indebtedness amounts, therefore, to $96,000, for the county and township; the bonds run for thirty years, and bear interest at 7 per cent, interest payable semi-annually.

August 22, 1872, the first passenger train came over the Kansas Central from Leavenworth to Holton. It was the occasion of a great railroad excursion from Leavenworth, and the Holtonites were very much rejoiced to have a railroad connection with the largest town in the State, and with the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railroad, at Valley Falls.

The stations on the road in the county are Kimball (formerly Larkin - just on the county line), Elk, Holton, Circleville, Lawndale and Soldier.


At a joint session of the Council and House of the first Territorial Legislature in August 1855, county officers for Calhoun County were elected as follows: James Kuykendall, Probate Judge, who was ex-officio Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, William Alley and Richard P. Beeler, Commissioners; James T. Wilson, Sheriff.

The first meeting of the County Commissioners, September 24, 1855, was at Calhoun, which was in the southeast corner of the county, north of the Kansas River, seven miles from Topeka. It lay up the bend of the river, northwest of Tecumseh, and was on the East one-half of Section 14 in Township 11 of Range 16. It is now described as Lot Number 3, and is in the name of L. R. Taylor, a tax-payer of Shawnee County. At this meeting Messrs. Kuykendall, Beeler and Wilson, were present, and William L Kuykendall was appointed Clerk of the Commissioners' Court.

By order of the Board, the election provided to be held for the Delegate to Congress, October 1, 1855, was to be at the house of James M. Hounds, and Perry Fleshman and Samuel S. Lockhart, were elected as the Judges. There were no Free-State votes cast, and John W. Whitfield received twenty-nine votes for Delegate to Congress.

The following order was adopted: "Ordered that we resolve to build a Court House out of brick, and that we adjourn until Saturday next, at which time we request the attendance of William Alley, our Associate Justice, and that the Court of Calhoun County be held at the house of James Kuykendall until otherwise ordered by the Court."

September 29, 1865. William Alley met with the Board and Judge Kuykendall swore him to the following oath of office which was politically orthodox at that time:

Territory of Kansas}
I William Alley do Solemnly Swear upon the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, that I will Support and Sustain the Constitution of the United States and that I will Support and Sustain the provisions of an Act Entitled an Act to Organize the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska and the provisions of the Laws of the United States commonly known as the Fugitive Slave Law, and faithfully and impartially and to the best of my ability demean myself in the Discharge of my duties in the Office of Commissioner in the County of Calhoun in Said Territory So help me God.
William Alley.
Sworn to subscribed before the undersigned this 29th day of September A. D. 1855.
James Kuykendall.
Judge Probate Court of C. C. K. T."

Governor Shannon commissioned Raleigh J. Fulton, Constable of Douglas Township, November 24, 1855; he took the oath of office, December 28, 1858; gave his official bond January 21, 1856.

The following order, relating to the Court House and Jail was passed: "Ordered that the Court House and Jail be built on Court House Square, and that sealed proposals for the stone work be received at the Clerk's office near the town of Calhoun, until the 15th of October, 1855, and that the same be inserted in some weekly newspaper published in the Territory of Kansas, for two successive weeks."

October 15, 1855, it was ordered by the Commissioners' Court, "that the plans and specifications of the Court House of the County of Calhoun be placed on the records of said Court." Elaborate specifications were presented as to stone work, brick work, hall doors, height of rooms, stairway, doors, windows, (sic) amphitheatre platforms, bar, ring for bar, Judges' seat, floors, etc., Court House to front 50 feet by 55 feet deep. October 16, 1855, Court ordered the time extended for receiving proposals until October 27, 1855. April 21, 1856, proposals were submitted for bids for building a jail 16x24 feet, 8 feet high. May 19, 1856, the order heretofore made concerning proposals for a Court House was rescinded and it was ordered that James Kuykendall, Commissioner of Public Buildings: "Be authorized and required to let the building of a frame Court House, thirty five feet square and two stories high, either by public outcry to the highest bidder, after advertising ten days or by private contract, provided said building does not exceed in cost $2,500."

December 15, 1856, it was ordered by the Court that James Kuykendall be allowed the sum of $90 for rent and use of house for office of Probate, and Commissioners' Court, also office for the Clerk thereof from September 24, 1855, to December 31, 1856, at $6 per month, and October 25, 1857, he was allowed $60; October 8, 1858, the last rent paid by Calhoun County, $78.

Concerning the Jail, January 9, 1857, the following order was made: "Whereas the building of a Jail for Calhoun County was let to Perry Fleshman on or about the First of January, 1856, at and for the sum of $2,000, and said undertaker having given his bond to the County aforesaid in the penal sum of $4,000 for the faithful performance of the contract, it is now ordered that the contract and bond be rescinded.

It appears that Judge Kuykendall had made persistent efforts to have the County supplied with a Court House and Jail, and the matter having failed, he complied with the Territorial Statute in having the County pay rent for office room.

October 4, 1858, was the time for an election of members of the Territorial House, and Golden Silvers, whose name suggests the proverb, "Speech is silver, silence is golden," was chosen the member for Calhoun County. At the same time a vote was had on county seat, and Holton had a majority of seventy-nine votes over all competitors. The glory of Calhoun City had thus passed out forever, and in a few months later, the name of Calhoun County had ceased to exist.

Mr. Silvers, as a legislator, had the honor of having Jackson as the new name of the County, for February 11, 1858, the bill passed providing for the change, the law going into effect immediately after its passage. Though Calhoun, Calhoun County, had given way to Holton, Jackson County, yet for many months thereafter conveyances were made, the instrument reciting, "Territory of Kansas, County of Calhoun, ss.," and county officials recognized Calhoun County into the midsummer of 1859.

The building once occupied as the Court House is now the property of Schillinger & Meck, and is a furniture establishment. Its original dimensions were 20x36 feet, two stories high, a modest wooden structure. The lot on which it stood was conveyed November 12, 1859, by William F. Creitz, James Watters and Edward A. Squire, Trustees of the Town of Holton, to Chauncey J. Cowell, Bryon Steward, and Aaron Foster, Supervisors in and for the County of Jackson. It was Lot 48, Pennsylvania Avenue, and is situated a little south of east of the present Court House. The consideration was $1, and the property was to revert to the grantors or their successors in office, should the county seat be removed from Holton.

The county by its Board of Commissioners, E. L. Stalker, John Deardorff, and J. H. Bateman, conveyed the property to Jason Dickey, August 30, 1879, for the consideration of $491; Mr. Dickey having leased the same July 6, 1875, of the county for a yearly rent of $50.

A vote was had April 5, 1870, on the erection of public buildings and levy of tax, and the vote stood 396, for and 350, against; May 20, 1870, the Board of County Commissioners having visited Oskaloosa and Leavenworth, for the purpose of examining their Court House, decided to adopt the plans and specifications as drawn by John S. McKeen, of Leavenworth, and decided to receive sealed proposals for bids up to June 16, 1870. As an appropriation was made of $16,000 for Court House purposes and as the several bids received exceeded that amount, there was an order for modifying the plans, time for completion of the building, and amending the bids, and a contract was finally made for the erection of the building at a cost of $21,000. June 17, 1870, the contractors being Joseph Hockham, Amos A. Fenn, Van Liddell and John S. Anderson of Leavenworth, their sureties on the $42,000 bonds being W. P. Borland, H. L. Bickford, H. L. Newman. The structure was built in the center of the public square, which is a beautiful tract of ground, 320 feet from east to west, 450 from north to south, having an area of 3 and 30-100 acres, the main slope being from south-west to northeast. The tract was conveyed by the Trustees of the town of Holton to Jackson County, and the following is a copy of a receipt on file in the County Clerk's office: "Holton, November 12, 1880. Received of Jackson County, $1, by W. S. Hoaglin, in full of considerations of deed to Public Square, from Trustees of Town of Holton, Ed. Vetter Treasurer." The Court House is a neat brick structure 40x60 feet, two stories high, with a basement, which is used for the storage of coal, and for jail purposes when necessary, there being cells for the accommodation of prisoners. Entering the building from the west, is the Treasurer's, Judges of Probate's and County Clerk's offices, on the north side of the hall; on the south side are the offices of Clerk of the District Court and Sheriff, the Register of Deeds and the County Attorney. The last named office is unoccupied; County Attorney Hopkins having an office over the City Bank, at the northeast corner of the Public Square. The Superintendent of Public Instruction has an office in the southwest part of the upper story. The court room is 40x40 feet; in height 20 feet. The grounds are covered with a bountiful growth of clover and other grasses, and there are a considerable number of thrifty trees growing on the same, many of them being the enduring elm.

At each corner of the Court House Block, on the outside of the same, is a public well. These wells prove a general benefaction to citizens and strangers. The Court House has a bell which is often utilized.

Jackson County has had but a small number of its citizens who have been "held in durance vile," neither has it had a large pauper list; eight persons in 1882 being the number that the county provided for. In January 1876, the county made purchase of the west one-half of Section 14, Township 7, Range 16, the consideration being $2,500; the grantors were William A. Allen, and Lewis Sarbach. Upon consideration this was not deemed an eligible site for a Poor Farm, and on August 30, 1879, the county exchanged this half section with W. R. Wright for the southwest quarter of Section 26, Township 6, Range 13, receiving in exchange $250. Soon thereafter a dwelling was erected on the farm, the contract price being about $825.

The first Superintendent of the Poor Farm was A. C. Blankenship who took possession in March 1880, at a salary of $350 a year, and living found. In 1881, M. B. Parrott succeeded him, at an advance of $100 per year, and in 1882 at an increase of $150. Everything about the farm indicates good management.

[TOC] [part 4] [part 2] [Cutler's History]