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


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One of the first visits of white man to what is now Jefferson County, was that of Prof. SAY and his party, who accompanied the United Sates Government Exploring Expedition, under Major LONG, in 1819. Leaving the expedition to pursue its way up the Missouri River, Prof. SAY and his party proceeded nearly as far west as Manhattan, on the Kansas River, from which point they took a direct course, as nearly as possible to Cow Island, in the Missouri River, just below Atchison, where they met the main party. On this route they entered the county at the southwest corner of Delaware Township, and proceeded to the falls of the Delaware, then called Grasshopper River, where they camped on the night of August 27, 1849, and on the following day crossed over near where Piazzek's mills now stand, and, traveling in the same general direction, crossed the northern boundary of what is now Jefferson County, near the line of Range 20.

The first settlement in what is now Jefferson County, as well as the first in the State of Kansas, was that of Daniel Morgan Boone, son of Daniel Boone, the celebrated Kentucky pioneer. It is well known that the elder Daniel Boone having lost his large landed estates in Kentucky through defective titles and the chicanery of lawyers, in the year 1796, renounced his allegiance to the United States Government and moved to Upper Louisiana, west of the Mississippi, then a wild region, but in what is now the State of Missouri. Three years afterwards he was appointed Commander of the Femme Osage District, by Governor DeLassus, and was awarded two thousand acres of land in what is now St. Charles County in that State. He retained that position till the purchase of the Territory by the United States, when he lost all his property as well as his office. After that time he became tired of the settlements and often spent many months on hunting excursions, going sometimes several hundred miles into the wilderness. Between the years 1805 and 1815, he often spent months in hunting along the Kaw or Kansas River, for a distance of one hundred miles and more from its mouth, a portion of this time being spend in the southern part of the present Jefferson County. Returning from his hunts he gave glowing accounts of the country, to his family.

Of the five sons of the Kentucky pioneer, Daniel M., the third and Nathan, the youngest, often made trips to the Kaw River Valley. Indeed it was Daniel M. who first induced his father to leave Kentucky for the far West. He was born about the year 1770, and in 1795 left his home on the Bib Miami River near Cincinnati, on a pony, to explore the region west of the Mississippi. After traveling across a wild region for about a month, he reached St. Louis. Remaining there some three months he started, with two Frenchmen, on a hunting and trapping expedition, and went as far west as where Kansas City now stands. The two sons settled with their father in Missouri on their removal. In 1807, they, with three other men, left that place and removed to Howard County, MO, where they engaged in the manufacture of salt at the place now known as Boone's Licks.

On June 3, 1825, the United States Government made a treaty with the Kaw Indians, by which, among other provisions, it was agreed that the government should furnish the Indians with three hundred head of cattle, three hundred hots, five hundred fowls, three yoke of oxen, two carts, and such farming tools as the superintendent should deem necessary, and that he should employ such persons to aid and instruct the Indians in their farming pursuits as he should consider necessary.

The treaty was signed by General Clarke on the part of the United States' Government, and by twelve Kaw chiefs, representing the Indians. Among them were White Plume, Great Valor, Little White Bear, Real Eagle and Great Doctor.

In accordance with the treaty, Maj. Daniel Morgan Boone was selected to instruct the Indians in the principles of agriculture. His title was "Farmer for the Kansas Indians." He was appointed in the spring of 1827, and at once removed with his family to the Kaw or Kansas Valley, erected buildings, and entered upon his duties. The point where he located was on the north bank of the Kaw River, in the extreme southern part of what is now Jefferson County, and about two and one-half miles distant from Williamstown, on the line of the Kansas Pacific Railroad.

On August 22, 1828, a son was born to Daniel M. and Mrs. Sarah E. Boone. This was undoubtedly the first white child born, not only in Jefferson County, but the first in the State of Kansas.

The facts relating to the Boone settlement are obtained from various sources, but more particularly from a carefully prepared article by W. W. Cone. The following letter from Daniel Boone, a son of Daniel M. Boone, to Mr. Cone, will throw some light on the first settlement, and first birth in Kansas.

WESTPORT, MO., February 8, 1979

Dear Sir - My brother, Napoleon Boone, son of Maj. Daniel Morgan Boone, and direct grandson of the old Kentucky pioneer, was the first while child born in the Territory of Kansas. At least such is the history of our family. My father was appointed "Farmer" for the Kaw Indians, early in the year 1827, he having moved to where Kansas City now stands early in March of that year. On his appointment he moved with his family into a house he built, seven miles up the Kaw River, from where Lawrence was afterwards built, on the north bank. Here my brother, Napoleon, was born August 22, 1828. He was never married and died single in California, May 20, 1850. Father returned to Jackson County, Mo., four years afterwards, where he died in 1840. When my father moved into Kansas, his was the only white family in the Territory. Some white traders were there, but without their families; and there never was any dispute before that I ever heard of, regarding the fact that Napoleon Boone was the first white child born in Kansas. I am the oldest surviving member of my father's family.

Yours Respectfully,
Daniel Boone.

To more fully corroborate the above facts and to forever settle the question as to the first real settler in Kansas, who cultivated its lands, and resided there with his family, we gave extracts from a letter from John C. McCoy to Mr. Cone, which was published by him John C. McCoy with his brother, Rice, made all the original surveys of the Territory for the location of the emigrant and other tribes of Indians, except a small survey made by Maj. Andrew Langham, from 1826 to 1828. The McCoys made there surveys from the year 1829 to 1836, and passed the Kaw agency in 1830. Below is an extract from the letter to Mr. Cone:

"Daniel Boone was 'Government Farmer" for the Kaws, appointed in 1827, and was at the agency when we passed there in 1830. He was a good man, much given to wandering around in search of mines. He continued to live there five or six years, until the agency was abandoned, and then moved down to a tract of land he owned, south of Westport, MO., where he afterward died."
Daniel Boone, in a letter to W. W. Cone, says:
"The agency was located nearly on a line between the Kaw half breed reserve and the Delaware reserve lands, mainly, however, on the Delaware lands. We lived one-half mile east."
The original field notes of the survey of 1859, the first sectional survey of this part of the Territory, mentions an old well on Section 4, Township 12, Range 19,on the north side of the river. This well was situated just east of the prairie farm of Thomas. R. Bayne, who owns Survey No. 23. Kaw half breed lands, which joins the original Delaware reserve on the west. Mr. Bayne located on his farm in 1854. He lived in Kansas City for the two years previous, was acquainted with the Boone family, and knew something of their former residence in Kansas. The remains of quite a village are yet to be seen near Mr. Bayne's farm. There are to be seen ruins of an old blacksmith shop. When Mr. Bayne first ploughed his farm he found the charred remains of a rail fence that had enclosed over one hundred acres of land.

The well was located nearly in the center of the village, and was walled with hard limestone. The stone was cut smoothly and so as to make a perfect circle, and was a very fine piece of masonry. At the time of the settlement of Mr. Bayne, the well only furnished water when the river was very high, indicating that the channel of the river is now deeper than when the well was dug.

The remains of the old village are about two and one-half miles southeast of Williamstown. Portions of two old chimneys are yet to be seen on the Kaw reserve land. Just east of the dividing line and on the Delaware reserve lands are parts of about a dozen chimneys. In 1854, there were remains of fully twenty. The farm on which most of them are to be seen belongs to W. T. Blacker, who purchased it in 1864. As the well contained no water he had it filled up. At the point opposite the old village, the channel of the river is about 200 hundred (sic) years further north than it was in 1854. In order to drain the low land, and to divide the two farms Bayne and Blacker cut a ditch on the line between the two old Indian reserves. This has washed out until it is several feet wide and more than twenty feet deep. Quite a large quantity of cinders and charcoal are yet to be seen just below the surface on each side of this drain. During the first years of his settlement, Mr. Bayne used to plow out scraps of iron, flint locks, gun-barrels, and also found an anvil in the locality which indicates that this was the site of the old blacksmith shop of this village which was without doubt the first one in the State of Kansas. This blacksmith shop was owned and carried on by Gabe Fillibert, who was a brother to the wife of the younger Daniel Boone.

After the settlement, beginning in 1854, there was for a long time a landmark in existence, about fifty yards north of the present depot at Williamstown, and known as the stone chimney. It was situated on the southwest quarter of Section 29, Town 11, Range 19. In the year 1854, a house built of stone was standing with the walls in good condition, but the roof and floors had been burned. The house was about eighteen by thirty-four feet in size and two stories high. It was on the bank of the creek now known as the Stonehouse Creek, which was so named from this old stone building. There was a well near it walled up in a substantial manner with finely cut stone. There were evidences of other cabins having existed near it. About one mile further up the creek, there had been quite a large farm opened up, the timber cleared off, and the land cultivated. The old field was thoroughly sodded with blue grass. Just south of the stone house there had been a cultivated field of more than sixty acres. When the grass was short, the bottom rails of a fence could be plainly seen, though in many places they were very much burned. All that now remains to mark the site of the stone house is a heap of stones, many of them having been used by the settlers for building purposes.

During and after the time of the residence of the Boone family, there were quite a large number of white hunters and traders, who made the Kaw valley a temporary home, and a few of whom settled with, and married among, the Kaw Indians.

In the year 1851, a few families of Mormons, from their settlement in Jackson County, Mo., and en route for Salt Lake, stopped at the place now known as Thompsonville, on the Delaware River, and remained nearly two years. It is evident they had conceived the idea of forming a permanent settlement here, but finding it impossible to gain possession of the lands, which belonged to the Indians, this plan was abandoned. They had about fifteen acres of land under cultivation, and had built three log cabins on the place afterward owned by Thomas Kirby, and sold by him to J. C. Thompson and Nelson M. Brown. A short distance west of this was a five-acre field under cultivation and a log cabin. During their stay three women died of cholera and were buried just south of the Kirby farm, in the edge of the timber, and tombstones giving their names, and of the native sandstone rock, were erected.

This cemetery is now in a hog lot, and the stones have been displaced, and worn, but the names, Mrs. ----- Archer, and Mrs. -----Platt, are to be read, upon careful examination.

The cabins used by the Mormons were afterward torn down, and the material used for other purposed, by Thomas Kirby.

About the time that Kansas was admitted as a Territory, in 1854, Solomon Everett, a half-breed Kaw Indian, who had been with Gen. Fremont, on his Rocky Mountain expedition, conceived the idea of building a sawmill on Grasshopper River. He chose the site now occupied by Thompson's Mills, and after some time the mill was completed. The building was torn down in the year 1850, by Thomas Kirby, who then owned the place. Everett's dam was built of logs, and was in nearly the same place that is now occupied by Thompson's stone dam.

The Military and Freight Road.--Previous to the permanent settlement of the county, in 1854, a military and freight road was opened from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Riley. It extended across Jefferson County, entering the county from the east as a point not far from the northeast corner, extending southwest to Winchester; thence nearly west to Hickory Point, which was so named from a grove of hickory trees that extended up a ravine at that place; thence southwest to Osawkie, where it crossed the Grasshopper--now Delaware-- River; thence west and southwest to Mount Florence, about one and one-half miles southwest of the present town of Meriden; from which point it crossed the western boundary of the county.

On May 30,1854, Kansas was admitted as a Territory, and the rush of settlement commended at once. Treaties had been made with the Delaware Indians, to whom the lands which now comprise Jefferson County then belonged; but the lands were not yet opened to settlement nor surveys made. No attention, however, was paid to this fact, and during the year a large number of persons selected claims within the limits of the present county, though but comparatively few made an actual settlement until the following year. The greater number of the settlers of that year located on or near the freight road, with a few along the valley of the Kansas River, and some other parts of the county. The principal settlement was at the crossing of the Grasshopper, at Osawkie, where the brothers, Wm. F. and George M. Dyer, located and started a trading ranche (sic), where they did a good business with the travelers over the Government road. In February of 1854, Henry Zen located at the falls of the Grashopper (sic) River, where Valley Falls now stands, built a cabin and made some improvements. Henry Chubb located at Mount Florence, about one mile west of the present town of Meriden, the same year. Wm. R. Wade, Sidney Steward, and Aaron Cook, located near there along Rock Creek, and Grasshopper River. R. P. Beeler, Jeff Riddle, and J. T. Wilson, located in the southwestern part of the county, on Kansas River. John Scaggs settled on the Grasshopper, in what is now Kentucky Township. Thomas R. and Alexander Bayne located along the Kansas, near the present Williamstown. In June Charles Hardt settled at Hickory Point, on the Government road, and started a trading point. The same year Simeon and Isaac Hull, Charles Hedrick, John Hart, J. B. Ross, and several others, settled near where Wincester now is. On December 25, Robert Riddle, James Frazier, A. J. Whitney and T. J. and H. B. Jolley, located at Grashopper (sic) Falls.

The above-named parties are by no means the only settlers of that year, but they were among the first in their respective localities. Osawkie and Hickory Point were the first settlements of any note in the county.

The lands comprising the Delaware purchase included the greater part of the county, but excepted a large tract held by the Delaware Indians, as a diminished reserve, the northern boundary of which was a little south of the north line of Town 10; and the western boundary a little more than one mile west of the line between Ranges 17 and 18. The Kaw half-breed lands also comprised sixteen tracts of 648 acres each, and bordered the Kansas River.

All of the Delaware purchase east of the line between Ranges 18 and 19, was to be sold at public sale, to the highest bidder, at Leavenworth, in November, 1856. The remainder of these lands west of the above line, were to be sold at Osawkie, in July 1857.

Previous to the land sales, the settlers had no right whatever to the land which they occupied, except a "squatter's right," which was simply a right by possession, and with an understanding that each settler should be allowed to bid in the land he claimed, at its appraised value, on the day of sale.

The squatters' right proved a fruitful source of many serious troubles. There was much contention as to the ownership of claims, and a question as to which constituted a settlement. At first a habitation was required, but soon a mere foundation was regarded as sufficient to hold a claim. This was subject to many abuses, for it was not long until many tracts of land were literally covered with "foundations," which in a majority of cases were formed of four twigs laid in form of a square, and by men who came in from other States only to vote on election days, or intending to secure claims for future speculation.

After the arrival of the first Governor of the Territory, A. H. Reeder, in October, 1854, he divided the Territory into elective districts, and appointed the 29th day of the following November, for the purpose of electing a delegate to Congress. What is now Jefferson County was in the Thirteenth District, and D. M. Railey, were appointed judges of election. The polling place was at the house of George M. Dyer. Seventy-one votes were cast, of which sixty-nine were for J. W. Whitfield, the Pro-slavery candidate. A great deal of bitterness existed between the Pro-slavery and Free-state men, and the latter were driven from the polls by Missourians, who had come to Osawkie for the purpose of controlling the election.

In February, 1855, Governor Reeder appointed J. Kukendal, Justice of the Peace for the Thirteen District, and James Grey, Constable. H. B. Jolley, of Grasshopper Falls, was appointed Census Enumerator for the Thirteenth and Fifteenth districts.

The next election took place on March 30, 1855, and was for the purpose of electing members to the first Territorial Legislature. The Thirteenth District was allowed one representative, and what now comprises Jefferson and Leavenworth counties was allowed one member of the Territorial Council. The residence of Charles Hardt, at Hickory Point, was designated as the voting place, and H. B. Corey, James Atkinson, and J. B. Ross, were appointed judges of election. The day previous to the election, a large number of Pro-slavery men came to Hickory Point, camped in the vicinity, and laid many foundations of twigs on claims selected by them. On the morning of the election, they presented themselves at the polls and demanded the right to vote. This was resented by the Election Board, when a row ensued, and the Board was driven away, rather refused to serve when they found it impossible to prevent illegal voting. A new Board was then chosen, which was composed of N. B. Hopewell, W. M. Gardiner, and --- --- Jones. When Free-state men arrived, they found the polls surrounded by armed and demonstrative non-residents, and seeing the folly of trying to secure a fair ballot, the greater number of them left in disgust, without trying to vote. The census of the month previous showed that the district contained ninety-six voters, but at this election 240 votes were cast. Of candidates for the Council, R. R. Rees (Pro slavery) received 234, and A. J. Whitney (Free-state) six votes. For Representative, Dr. W. H. Tebbs received 237 votes, and Charles Hardt three votes.

During the summer of 1854, the actual settlers made some improvements, built cabins and fences, and planted a small acreage of crops. There were, however, but little crops of any kind raised, owing to the wild state of the soil and the severe drought of that year.

When the settlement of the county began, the first habitations were generally cabins, built of round logs just cut down, the crevices being chinked with blocks of wood and stone, daubed with mud, and the roof constructed either of dirt or of clapboards, while these cabins generally had no floors. There were no windows, and the doors were low and wide. Fireplaces were constructed of logs, plastered with mud, while the chimneys were built of wood. Next, as the county continued to improve, there was a marked difference in the structure of the cabins. They were then built of hewn logs, the cracks filled with lime, the roofs shingled, the walls covered with clapboards, both inside and out, and they were provided with doors and windows. They latter were about the best buildings in quality during the earlier years of settlement, but previous to 1860, there were many very find buildings of stone and native lumber.

During the year 1855, there was a large immigration to the county. Much of it was temporary in its character, but all the better quality of land had been selected and settled on by the squatters, many of whom fenced and cultivated small tracts of land, and raise very good crops.

In the summer of 1854, Congress established mail routes across the county. One was along the old military freight road, from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Riley, and the other was from Fort Leavenworth to the Big Blue by Grasshopper Falls.

The first postoffice was Osawkie, which was established March 15, 1855, with George M. Dyer, Postmaster. Hickory Point was established soon after, with Charles Hardt, Postmaster. A postoffice was established at Grasshopper Falls, December 21, 1855, with A. J. Whitney, Postmaster.

During the year 1855, towns had been laid out at both Osawkie and Grasshopper Falls.

The first white child born, after the permanent settlement of the county began, was undoubtedly Ella Simmons, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Alpha Simmons, born on June 19, 1855, in what is now Jefferson Township. She is now married, and lives not far from the place of her birth.

The first marriage in Jefferson County was that of Alfred Corey and Miss Martha Hoovey, who were married as Osawkie, November 25, 1855, by Elder William Hicks, a minister of the Christian Church.

The second marriage was that of Thomas Scaggs and Miss Sally Scaggs, of Kentucky Township, on December 4, 1855, by Judge Samuel D. Lecompte.

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