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


[TOC] [part 21] [part 19] [Cutler's History]


This township is situated in the western part of the county, and in agricultural resources is one of the wealthiest.

The first settlement was made in the fall of 1854, Wm. Wade having selected a claim at that time. He did not locate permanently, however, until the next year.

In January, 1855, a party composed of Aaron Cook, Geo. Cook, A. Pearsall, and James Dempsey, of Black Hawk County, Iowa, arrived, and followed up the military road west of Osawkie to Rock Creek, where Wm. Wade had selected his claim. From there they went up the creek one mile, and here Dempsey located a claim. The others located claims in the neighborhood.

For the first few years the settlement of the township was rather slow, as compared with other parts of the county, and most of it was on Muddy and Rock Creeks.

The first marriage in the township was that of Peter Stuart and Miss Dunn, in 1856.

The first business house, was a grocery and whisky store, by Shield & Chubb, at Mount Florence, in 1856. That place was a station on the old military freight road, and situated one and one-half miles southwest of the present town of Meriden, and was laid out as a town site. It never grew to be a village of more than a half-dozen houses, and the site was afterwards abandoned. The site of Mount Florence is now owned and occupied by Henry Chubb, as a farm. He was the original proprietor of the town site.

The first postoffice in the township was established on Mount Florence in 1857, and D. D. Shields was appointed Postmaster.

The first school district was formed in 1859, a schoolhouse erected, and a school taught, the same year, by Miss Elizabeth King, who was afterward Mrs. Turner, and since deceased.


This enterprising and thriving town is situated at the junction of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, and the Leavenworth, Topeka & Southwestern Railroads. The population numbers about three hundred and fifty, and is made up of an intelligent and enterprising class of citizens. All branches of business necessary for a country trade are represented. There are seven general stores, one drug, one hardware, one railroad depot, three grain elevators and warehouses, one furniture store, two hotels, and two livery stables. There are three physicians, and two attorneys.

Meriden is located on the southwestern quarter of Section, 7, Township 10, Range 17, east It as surveyed and platted in October, 1872; and was on the land owned and occupied as a farm by Albert Owens.

The first building was a railroad section house, erected in fall of 1872. The next was a small building by N. Colby, a part completed the first dwelling in November. About the same time blacksmith shop was started in a building moved from Mount Florence. The above constitute about all the improvements of 1872.

After three hotly contested elections the township voted $20,000 in bonds to the A. T. & S. F. R. R. Co., to secure the building of a depot, which was erected in 1873.

Early in 1873, the first store was erected by Wm. & Perry Riggs.

The postoffice was established late in 1872, and Frank Cunningham was appointed Postmaster.

The first marriage was in the fall of 1872, and was that of Dr. A. Dawson and Miss Dantie Graydon.

The first birth was that of Add. A. Dawson, in 1874.

The first death was that of Geo. W. Riggs, who died in 1874.

Since the foundation of the town it has continued to progress slowly, but steadily, until the present date. One newspaper, the Meriden News, is published here by J. P. Coffin.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1873. The church was built in 1877, and is a frame edifice. There is also a parsonage belonging to the class. The total value of the property is about $2,600.

The Catholic Church was organized in 1879, and in the following year the church was erected. Its value is about $2,700. This church has about 150 members.

The Baptist Church was built in 1882. The society has a large membership and is prosperous condition.

The Christian Church has an organization, which although now prosperous, is continually improving.

Meriden Lodge, No. 29, A. O. U. W., was organized early in 1880, with about twelve members. A. Dawson was the first W. M.

Jefferson Lodge, No. 107, A. O. U. W., was organized in August, 1882. This is a branch from the old Meriden lodge, which was divided on account of some differences.

The village district school consists of two departments, each under a careful instruction. The schoolhouse is a large two story frame building and was erected in 1882. The district was formed before the foundation of the town, and for several years school was taught in the old schoolhouse adjoining the town site.


This is a railroad station on the line of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. It has a good railroad depot, and one store, but the town site has not yet been surveyed.

The location of Rock Creek is a very pleasant one, and it is situated about midway between the towns of Valley Falls and Meriden.


HON. WALTER N. ALLEN, stock-raiser, P. O. Meriden, and editor of the Kansas State Journal, Topeka. If we except the slavery question, no issue has entered so largely into the politics of Jefferson County as the question of the issuance of bonds to railroad companies, and no man has become more prominently to the front on this policy than the subject of this sketch, as will appear hereafter. W. N. Allen was born in Halifax County, N. C., March 1, 1834. His father was James V. Allen, and the maiden name of his mother was Eliza Mason Johnson. Her father was a merchant of considerable prominence. Walter N. was educated at Wake Forrest College, N. C. On leaving college he entered Barties' Law School at Chapel Hill, in that State, where he gave considerable time to the study of his chosen profession, and on admission to the bar, entered upon the practice of law in his native village. In 1857 he removed to Kansas, settling in Jefferson County. In 1858 he was appointed County Attorney, and the ensuing year was elected to the same position. In 1863 he was appointed Clerk of the District Court for Jefferson County by Hon. William McDowell, Judge of the First Judical District of Kansas. In 1865 he was elected a member of the Kansas House of Representatives for Jefferson County. In this position he was an active and able opponent of the appropriation of 500,000 acres of land (which had been donated to Kansas by the United States Government) in aid of railroads, taking the ground, that these lands were reserved by the State Constitution for the support of the common schools. In 1867 he was elected Clerk of Jefferson County. During his term of office the Board of County Commissioners submitted a joint proposition to the people of Jefferson County for subscriptions to the capital stock, and the issuance of bonds therefor to the amount of $300,000 in equal proportions to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe and the Atchison, Oskaloosa & Lawrence railroads, and the Board declared the proposition carried, ordering Mr. Allen as Clerk to make the entry subscribing to the stock of those railroads which he absolutely refused to do. Legal proceedings were commenced against him and he was remanded to jail. He still resolutely persisted in his refusal, in consequence of which he was not only kept in prison, but removed from office. This delay enabled the people to get out proceedings in injunction restraining the County Board or any other officer from subscribing to such stock or issuing such bonds. This patriotic, heroic determination saved the county form financial ruin and bankruptcy, and justly gave to Mr. Allen the credit of honorably discharging his duty to the people regardless of personal consequences. In the bitter contest that ensued in the persistent attempts of the railroad companies to secure bonds, Mr. A. took an active part in organizing a political party in opposition to such gross injustice. He took the stump in advocacy of candidates for County Commissioners opposed to issuing bonds, and mainly by his efforts they were elected on this issue alone in defiance of the regular nominee of the Republican party which had then the majority of about 700 in the county. Mr. Allen was married to Miss Jannie Walker, of Clinton County, N. Y., by whom he has one son - Pope, a highly educated and promising young man. Mr. A. has not given his attention to the legal profession for a number of years, devoting himself largely to agricultural pursuits on his estate near Meriden. The season of 1882 he entered the newspaper arena, securing an interest in the Topeka Democrat, through which organ he worked assiduously and did much towards electing Hon. G. W. Glick, the present Governor. After the election, Mr. A., with his associates, purchased the State Journal, a Greenback paper, and added the Democrat office to the same. The Journal is now the leading and official Democratic organ of the State. Mr. A. is a genial, hospitable gentleman of strong convictions, generally sympathizing with justice an on the side of the weak; his social qualities have won him a host of friends.

LEWIS W. BONEWITZ, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 8, P. O. Meriden. This sterling farmer was born in Wayne County, Ohio, July 5, 1850. When fifteen years of age he moved with his parents to Indiana, his father locating with his family in Allen County, where Lewis was reared to manhood and resided until he came to Kansas, locating in Jefferson County in March, 1879. He was married in Ohio to Miss Margaret Chacey, a native of that State. They have two children - Minnie and Jennie.

C. S. BURT, merchant, Meriden, was born in St. Lawrence County, New York, May 18, 1849; was there reared and educated. For a time was in business in Ohio. In 1870 he came to Kansas and for several years pursued the vocation of a hardware clerk at Newton, Hutchinson and Great Bend. In March, 1880, came to Meriden and embarked in general merchandizing, carrying one of the largest stocks in the county. Mr. Burt is also proprietor of the principal hotel in Meriden, and in the capacity of a host he is the right man. He was married in Ohio to Miss A. A. Crawford. They have two children - Lewis and Orrin.

S. H. CACEY, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 9, P. O. Meriden, is a native of Ohio and was born in Wayne County, January 22, 1843, was there educated and reared. In August, 18861, he enlisted in Company C., Forty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He participated in the battle of Shiloh and in the Nashville engagement. Was all through the Atlanta campaign, serving until the close of the war, when he was honorably discharged. He continued to reside in Ohio, following farming until the spring of 1878, when he came to Kansas. Mr. C. as a farmer combines the practical with the theoretical and has been eminently successful. He was married in Ohio to Miss Sarah E. Carlin. By this union they have six children - Maggie E., Herbert C., Vincent H., Charles R., Bertha, and James Garfield; and lost one, Orba. Himself and family are identified with the Methodist Episcopal Church.

L. A. CLARK, agent A. T. & S. F. R. R., Meriden, was born in Switzerland County, Ind., May 29, 1854. HE was there reared to manhood. For three years he attended college at Hillsdale, Mich., after which he took up the study of law in Switzerland County. In 18875 was admitted to the bar and commenced to practice his profession, in connection with which he was superintendent or two years of the Ohio River Telegraph Company. In 1878 he came to Kansas, entering the employ of the A. T. & S. F., as agent, at Cottonwood. Came to Meriden in November, 1889. Mr. Clark is also agent for the W. U. Express Company, and local editor of the Meriden News. He was married October 12, 1876, to Miss Mary C. McCulloch, of Switzerland County, Ind. They have two children, Claud M. and Pearl. He is a member of the A. O. of U. W.

J. A. COFFEY, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 25, P. O. Rock Creek. Among the hardy pioneers who braved all obstacles to make a home in the far West, and who contributed the bone and sinew i making Kansas the great agricultural State it now is, no one is more deserving of special mention than J. A. Coffey. He is a native of Ireland, and was born in County Kildare, where he was educated, reared and resided until he was eighteen years of age, when the United States attracted his attention, and in 1839 he became a resident of Pennsylvania, where he engaged in agricultural pursuits and resided a number of years. In 1857, with his family, he emigrated to Kansas, locating in Rock Creek Township, where he has since resided, pursing the vocation of farming. Mr. Coffey has been identified in the county officially by being County Commissioner, Clerk of the first school District in Rock Creek Township, and other offices. In 1860 was on the committee in distributing aid to the needy in the Sate as a result of the protracted drought. In 1864, when Price invaded Kansas, he shouldered his musket and went into the field to drive the invader from the State. In all capacities Mr. C. has been found to be the right man in the right place. Politically, he is of Democratic views. He was married in 1850 to Miss Elizabeth Walsh, of County Mayo, Ireland. By this union they have eleven children, Annie L., Thomas F., Mary J., Rose A., William H., James E., John E., Joseph C., and Elizabeth, lost two, Elizabeth and Margaret.

W. H. COFFEY, merchant and postmaster, Rock Creek. This gentleman is a son of the veteran citizen, Mr. J. A. Coffey, and was born in Jefferson County, Kan., August 10, 1863; was here educated and reared. In 1881 engaged in business at Rock Creek; is a genial individual and favorably known throughout the western part of the county.

S. B. COPE, merchant, Meriden. This Kansas pioneer was born in Columbiana County, Ohio, October 16, 1832. In 1845 he removed with his parents to Van Buren County, Iowa, and afterwards to Clark County, Mo., In the autumn of 1856 he came to Kansas, locating temporarily at Manhattan. He saw Kansas in its crude state, residing here until 1861, when he returned to Missouri and enlisted in Company C, Seventh Missouri. He participated in the engagements of Lone Jack, Mixes' Mill, Pine Bluff, and others. Was taken prisoner at Lone Jack, but soon after paroled. At the Battle of Black Water was slightly wounded. After serving over four years he was honorably, discharged at Little Rock, Ark. After the war he returned to Kansas, engaging in trade in 1882. He was married in Kansas to Miss Sarah A. Martin. They have four children, Lucy L, Otho E., Owen L, and Lottie S. Mr. Cope is a member of the Masonic Order.

A. DAWSON, M. D., Meriden, was the first medical practitioner in Meriden, and has attained a wide and well merited reputation in this community. He located in Meriden in the spring of 1872, when the town first sprang into existence, and built the first house east of the railroad. The Doctor was born in Morgan County, Ohio, July 21, 1848. His paternal ancestors were among the first families of the United States. His mother was a Sibley, of the same family as the Minnesota Sibleys. The subject of this sketch, after receiving the benefits of a good education took up the study of medicine in the Cincinnati Medical College, and afterward the America Eclectic College in St. Louis. graduating from the latter institution. The Doctor has been twice married, each time in Kansas. First to Miss Dantie Graden (now deceased). By this union he had one daughter, Ada A.. His present wife was formerly Miss Minnie Harrington. They have one son, Albert M. The Doctor is a member of the Christian Church.

G. M. DIX, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 6, P. O. Meriden, is a native of Kentucky, and was born March 8 1834. When two years of age he removed with his parents to Henry County, Inc., where he was educated and reared until the spring of 1851, when he located in Pulaski County. In the spring of 1857 he came to Kansas in company with his father, brother and other relatives, taking up their abode in Rock Creek Township, Jefferson County, where he has resided ever since, being one among the pioneers of th at part. During his long sojourn he has been closely identified, and few of the old settlers are more favorable known than George M. Dix. He served in Company B, Fourth Regiment Kansas Militia, and took part in the battle of Westport, Mo, October 22 and 23, 1864. For upward of twelve years he has been Justice of the Peace, and for eighteen years has been on the school board. He was married in Indiana in 1858, to Miss Lucretia Higman. They have three children, Esther E., John P. and Nancy B.

J. M. DOOLEY, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 30, P. O. Rock Creek, is a native of Pennsylvania; was born in Luzerne County, July 6, 1830. Was educated, reared and resided in his native State until 1858, when he came to Kansas, sojourning temporarily, and going on to Pike's Peak. His brother, Thomas Dooley, had preceded him to Kansas, coming in 1857; he was one of the pioneers on Rock Creek. The autumn of 1859, the subject of this sketch returned to Kansas, remaining until 1860, when he returned to the mountains pursuing the vocation of mining up to 1870, when he located where he now resides. Mr. D. is one of the substantial and representative citizens of the county. He was married in Kansas to Miss Maggie Walsh. They have two children, Thomas and Annie.

N. M. ELROD, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 19, P. O. Rock Creek, is a native of Indiana, and was born in Orange County, August 2, 1830; was there educated and reared on a farm. When twenty-six years of age came to Missouri, locating in Cedar County. In August, 1861, became a resident of Jefferson County, Kan. During the war was Corporal in Company I, Fourth Kansas Militia, participating in the Price raid. Mr. E. is one of the most substantial and progressive farmers of Rock Creek Township. He was married in Missouri, to Miss Amanda Gish. They have two children, Alvie A. and Julia B.

D. H. FRASER, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 36, P. O. Meriden. This favorably known gentleman is a native of Canada, and was born January 10, 1832; was there educated and reared. When twenty-two years of age he emigrated to Wisconsin, locating in Fond du Lac County, where he engaged in agricultural pursuits. In 1857 he came to Kansas, taking up his abode in Douglas County, where he remained until 1860, coming to his present location at that time. In 1862 he enlisted in Company I, Eleventh Kansas, participating in the battles of Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, Van Buren, and other noted events, serving until the close of the Rebellion, when he was on the plains for a time, suppressing the Indians. After returning, resumed farming, Mr. Fraser is a substantial Republican, and was elected to the Legislature, in 1873, by that party. He is a man of good judgment, well red, and a fluent conversationalist. He was married in Found du Lac County, Wis., in 1856, to Miss Lucelia Turner. They have one son living, Willie. Their oldest son, a promising young man, was drowned in the Kansas River at Topeka, in the summer of 1882. Mr. Fraser is a member o the A. O. U. W.

M. A. GARDNER, merchant, Meriden, was born in Yorkshire, England, February 2, 1834. When two years of age came to the United States, with his parents, locating in Navarre, Ohio, where his father, James, owned and operated a tannery for several years. Here he learned the tanner's trade and pursued the vocation in Ohio for a number of years. In 1872 he embarked in the manufacture of leather at Roanoke, Ind., continuing until the spring of 1878, when he came to Kansas, engaging in trade in Meriden. Mr. G. is a live business man and popular citizen. He was married in Ohio, to Miss Sarah A. Rose, of Clarksville, Greene Co., Pa. They have two children, James D. and William Austin, both born in Navarre, Stark Co., Ohio.

R. E. GILLULY, Postmaster, Meriden. This courteous and popular gentleman is a native of Michigan, and was born in Lenawee County. For a few years followed the vocation of school-teaching, and for a time was engaged int he drug trade in Meriden. In 1880 was appointed Postmaster. Mr. G. is a member of the Masonic Order.

PETER N. GISH, liveryman, Meriden, was born in Botetourt County, VA, July 7, 1847. When young he removed with his parents to Indiana, where they resided five years; thence went to Cedar County, Mo, where they remained five years. In 1861 the family came to Kansas, locating in Jefferson County, where his father, William Gish, was among the pioneers. P. N. has been a resident of Jefferson County for a number o years, and has been prominently identified in various pursuits. He is at present Justice of the Peace, and has otherwise been publicly before the people. In 1878 he engaged in the livery business. He is active M. M. of the A. O. U. W., Meriden Lodge. In 1866, Miss Susan Nininger became his wife. They have four children - Julia, John, Mary, and Albert.

WILLIAM GISH, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 24, P. O. Meriden. This well known gentleman is a native of Virginia, and was born in Botetourt County, April 6, 1810; was there educated and reared, eventually moving to Indiana, thence to Missouri, afterward to Iowa, and in 1860, to Jefferson County, Kan., locating where he now resides. He was married in Virginia, to Miss Julia Ann Howe. They have seven children - John, Amanda, Abraham, Peter N., Sarah, and Samuel. Alexander, the oldest o the family, is dead. Peter N. is in business in Meriden, and Samuel is engaged in farming on the old homestead.

J. GRADEN, coal dealer, Meriden. This well known citizen came to Kansas in the spring of 1857, locating in Jackson County, where he was engaged in agricultural pursuits for a number of years, and was prominently identified with the growth and development of the State. He is a native of Ohio; was born in Jefferson County, May 16, 1818; was there educated, reared and resided until 1845, when he emigrated to Platte County, Mo, where he pursued farming until coming to Kansas. He was married April 29, 1840, to Miss L. Grable, of Ohio. They have four children - Thomas, Robert, Lewis, and Cyrus. He is a member of the Masonic Order.

T. C. GRADEN, farmer, P. O. Meriden, is a son of J. Graden, and came to Kansas in 1857, where he has been reared and educated, residing in Shawnee, Jefferson, and Jackson counties, following principally agricultural pursuits. He is a native of Ohio, and was born in Jefferson County, July 1, 1849. He was married in Shawnee County, Kan., December 9, 1874, to Miss Criscildia Almeda Grady, of Platt County, Ill. They have three children - Hollis A., Amanda M., and Roscoe C.

GEORGE HENSLEY, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 13, P O. Meriden, is a native of Illinois, and was born in Sangamon County, December 13, 1825. His father, Simon Hensley, was one of the pioneer farmers in that county. George was there educated and reared, residing until the autumn of 1866, where he came to Kansas, and has been identified with the agricultural development of Jefferson County since that time. Mr. H. has a desirable farm, is a practical man, and one of the progressive men of his community. He was married in Kansas, to Miss K. H. Huber. By this union they have three children - M. J., Horace H., and R. A.

DANIEL JILLSON, farmer, Section 25, P. O. Meriden, was born in Wrentham, Mass., April 4, 1809. At an early age with his parents moved to Attleborough, Mass., where he was reared and educated. At eighteen years of age he went to Pawtucket, R. I., to learn the carpenter's trade. His father, Abel Jillson, was a native of Massachusetts. His mother belonged to the Massachusetts family of Hughes. Her father was one of the number that assisted in throwing the tea overboard in Boston Harbour. the subject of this sketch came to Kansas in 1859, locating in Topeka, where he engaged in carpentering. Many of the old landmarks in that city are specimens of his handiwork. He was prominently identified in Topeka until 1869, when he removed his present farm. Mr. J. has been twice married, first to Miss Mary Cowden, now deceased. by this union has four children - Daniel A., Albert J., Frederick E., and Mary E. His second marriage was with Barbara H. Hayes. He is a member of the Baptist Church.

MELVIN LOWRY, farmer and stock-raiser, Section 28, P. O. Meriden. This well known pioneer is a native of Indiana, and was born in Bartholomew County, November 6, 1825. Was there partially educated and reared, coming to McLean County, Ill., at an early day, where he resided until 1859, when he came to Kansas, locating at Fairfield. Had been in Kansas, however. In 1857, engaging at blacksmithing, his regular trade. In 1862, enlisted in the Second through that campaign, serving through until the close of the Rebellion, doing double service as soldier and blacksmith. After the war located in Oskaloosa, where for four years he operated a blacksmith shop, since then has been engaged in agricultural pursuits. Mr. L. is a citizen of sterling worth, enterprising, and keeps pace with the times. He was married in Indiana, to Miss Emily Knight. By this union they have had seven children - Thomas F., Mary E., George W., J. D., Albert, Charles and Delbert. Mr. L. is a member of the N. T. R., and is a strong advocate of temperance.

[TOC] [part 21] [part 19] [Cutler's History]