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


[TOC] [part 7] [part 5] [Cutler's History]


For many years this township was known by the name of Grasshopper Falls. It is one of the three original townships formed at the first meeting of the County Court in January, 1856. It is one of the oldest settled portions of the county, and is now one of its wealthiest and most prosperous townships.

The first settlement was made early in 1854, at Grasshopper Falls, now Valley Falls, by Henry Zen. In December James Frazier, Robert Riddle, and H. B. Jolley made a settlement there.

In December, William Gragg, with a colony numbering eight persons, located at Cedar Creek, where buildings were erected the following February.

At the first meeting of the County Court in January, 1856, the township was organized. Henry Bowles was appointed Justice of the Peace, and Benjamin Davidson, Constable. In May, Sam Johnson was appointed Justice of the Peace, and Joe Haddox, Constable.

The first lawsuit in the township was in March, 1857, before Sam Johnson. The case was Corey and Bainter, against J. M. Cole, for forcible detainer of land claim. The entry in Johnson's docket is as follows: "Sot fur trile on the 4 day of March, 1857, at my offis in Grasshopper fales township, jefferson Kounty, Cansas terratory, as the case may be. Corey and Bainter, complainte, and John m. Cole, defend of unlawful renter and and detainer trile by a gury of twelve good and lawful men the body of Kounty." A jury was summoned and the justice was induced to go to the village of Grasshopper Falls for the trial, as large number of citizens wished to attend the first lawsuit. The defendant did not appear, upon which the jury brought in a verdict for the plaintiff, whereupon the justice made another entry in his docket as follows: "john m. Cole cum to my offis on the 3 day of march, 1857, and tole mee he wood not tend the trile of Corey and Bainter, and i fealt it my dooty after bein trouble for fore monts to preside ex-parte, and let the gury taik the case in hand."

Johnson was a Pro-slavery man and moved to the Kaw Valley before the land sales.

As soon as it was known when the land sales would take place, a Squatter's Court was organized in each township. There was a great deal of trouble regarding the ownership of claims, and this court was formed for the protection of the rightful claimant. In Grasshopper Falls Township there was a conflict between Jefferson City and Grasshopper Falls, each electing a court which was claimed to be a legal one. From the former place Messrs. Bob Shanklin, Lillard and Coltrup were elected judges, and A. H. Deaver, clerk; from the latter, S. C. Gephart, S. S. Cooper, and Thomas A. Blake were elected judges, and Lewis Stafford, clerk. After a time an understanding was effected between the two parties by which the Grasshopper Falls board was declared the legal one.

After the land sales in July, 1857, there was but little trouble between the settlers, as the claims to the land had all be settled.

In 1858, a bridge was built across the Grasshopper, at the falls, but not without some trouble. Two meetings were held, after which a tax was voted. It was afterward carried into the courts, and finally was settled by the Legislature legalizing the tax.


The original name of this town was Grasshopper Falls, after which it was changed by act of the Legislature to Sautrelle Falls. The citizens did not generally recognize the name and after about a year it resumed its original one, which it bore for some time. A few years since the name of the township was changed to Delaware, as was the name of the river, and the name of the town was changed to the one it now bears.

Valley Falls is thriving and attractive town, of about 1,200 population. it is pleasantly located on the gently sloping hillside, on the right bank of the Delaware River, and at the junction of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe and Kansas Central Railroads. The residence portion of the city is beautifully ornamented by fruit, shade and evergreen trees. The residence lots are large and the houses neat and attractive in appearance. The business houses are generally large, and well-built. In the business center of the city, on both sides of the streets, are large and handsome brick blocks. It is the metropolis of the county, far exceeding any other within its limits, both in population and the amount of business done.

The history of the town begins with the year 1854, when, in February, Henry Zen located at the falls of the Grasshopper River. He had first visited the place in 1852, being one of the party of mechanics accompanying Maj. Ogden to Fort Riley. The Major had a large train conveying supplies to the above- named fort, and was told by the Kickapoo Indians that we would find a better and more direct road by this place, than on the main traveled road crossing the river at Osawkie. he found it a rough road however, and had difficulty in crossing the river. The place of crossing was east of the present railroad bridge, near the corner of J. M. Piazzek's land. The north bank was very steep and had to be dug down, and the wagons eased down by the men, and after the one trip this route was abandoned.

When Zen returned he determined to make the place his home, and began a cabin and about one-half a mile from the present mill site of I. M. Piazzek. He had a yoke of oxen. He also put up a stack of hay. He was frequently visited by the Kickapoo Indians, but never was molested. In the fall he was visited by a white man who claimed to be agent for the Indians, and ordered Zen to leave the country. He accordingly left the place and went to the eastern part of the county, where he remained with a man named Mooney, who lived on a creek which now bears his name. After settlement of Grasshopper Falls, Mooney married Miss Millie Cross, and lived on his place, where he died and was buried on the bank of the creek about two years after. It is his solitary grave that has excited so much inquiry of late years.

The next settlement at Grasshopper Falls, and the first one of any permanence, was by James Frazier, Robert Riddle, H. B. Jolley an A. J. Whitney. This party secured their information of the falls, from Maj. Ogden, but did not know just where to find them. They kept on the old military road until they arrived at Hickory Point, after which they went due west to the river, then followed up until they came to the ripple of the stream about three miles below the falls, when they crossed over to the west side and followed along up till they were reached. The fall was only a little more than three feet and they were at first in doubt whether or not it was the right place. They discovered the place on December 23, 1854, moved up on the 24th, and drove their stakes for claims on Christmas, the 25th. When coming to the falls, they discovered Zen's old hay-stack, which was at the foot of the hill east of the present town. The party on discovering the falls came over the present town site crossing about the corner of Sarah and Sycamore streets. The above named party in connection with T. F. Jolley, had formed a town site company, and their first work was to lay out a town and drive stakes to locate the boundaries.

The next work was to begin the erection of a log cabin. After working four or five days their provisions ran short. There were left only two loaves of bread and five pounds of salt meat. They had no ammunition left by which they could kill game. They could catch no fish, as they had no fish-hooks. The cabin was built up to the eaves, when leaving Frazier and Riddle to finish the cabin and guard the claim. Whitney and Jolley started for Weston for a fresh supply of provisions. They expected to be gone two days, but were gone eleven, and there was some suffering in camp before their return. During that time Zen returned, made a claim, and built a cabin a short distance from the town site. He lived there for about two years afterwards. Henry Weber came with Zen and located a claim. During the eleven days R. F. Jolley arrived. There were now five colonists on the town site. After spending some time in exploring the country, they cut and hauled logs and built another cabin. These cabins were both completed by February 10, 1855. Soon after, Mrs. Caroline Jolley, wife of H. B. Jolley, arrived. She was the first white woman in the township as well as in the town. The cabins were situated near the falls of the river, not far from the recent mill.

On March 16th, Stephen H. Dunn, a blacksmith, accompanied by his family, arrived. Mrs. Sarah Dunn was the second white woman in the new town, and lived there with her husband until the time of her death a few years since. As Mrs. Jolley remained but a short time, Mrs. Dunn may be said to be the pioneer white woman.

Soon after the town was laid off, a company was organized to build a saw and grist-mill. The members were James Frazier, Robert Riddle, A. J. Whitney, and Isaac Cody. The last named was never a resident, though he was afterward elected to the legislature from Jefferson County. He was father of the now noted Buffalo Bill, who has been a celebrated Indian scout.

Logs were cut and hauled, and work on the mill began early in the spring of 1855. The falls of the river were or a hard limestone rock, and on this the dam was built. It was not long until the mill and dam was so nearly completed that sawing of lumber commenced.

In the spring of 1855, the town was surveyed, and named Grasshopper Falls. Though it was a year before the Government surveys, one hundred maps of the town were lithographed, and sent east as an advertisement for the town. The lots were divided into one hundred shares, of twelve lots each. Of these, each proprietor received fifteen shares, and the remainder were held for donations. One share was given to Gov. A. H. Reeder. Many more lots were given to leading citizens of the Territory. Among others, J. H. Lane received several.

In a short time the Jolley brothers became discouraged, and returned to Iowa.

A. J. Whitney was appointed postmaster for Grasshopper Falls, December 21, 1855. He remained but a short time, however, when he sold his claim to John H. Day for sixteen dollars, and left the country. When here he added much to the life of the new town. He is described as a jolly, whole-souled fellow, kind-hearted and found of his whisky. At this early day there were a number of Indian camps near. Whitney always kept a large demijohn of whisky, but would never let the Indians have any. One night the Indians stole it. At first poor Whitney did not know what to do, but as he felt like having a drink before breakfast, he started out and stole a pony from the indian chief, which he refused to give up until he got his demijohn back. After a while the chief returned it, although about half the whisky was gone. Whitney then gave up the pony, took a drink and went to breakfast.

For some time it was rather lonesome at the new town, and the residents had plenty of time for amusement. Being Eastern men they found many things to learn. One day Frazier and Riddle were hunting in the woods, when they found wooden troughs, suspended amongst the boughs of a tree. This was a mystery to them and Riddle climbed the tree to investigate. All at once he stopped, then began to slide down with such velocity as to tear his clothing. At first he said nothing, but finally muttered, "Dead Injin." Frazier, who was startled at first by the unaccountable conduct of his companion, merely said, "If you make such a fuss over a dead Injin, what would you do if you were to meet a live one?" The bones afterward fell, and after having been rooted around by hogs, Dr. L. Northrup found and preserved the skull, which he still has in his possession, and amuses his friends by using it to describe the character of an Indian from a phrenological stand-point.

When the town was laid out, some of the street were named in honor of the pioneer ladies of the settlement. Frances street was named in honor of Mrs. George S. Hillyer; Louisa street, after Mrs. Williams; Sarah street, after Mrs. Stephen H. Dunn, and the Caroline street, after Mrs. H. B. Jolley.

The original cabins of the settlers were not on the town site. The first building thereon was built by A. T. Pattie, a Pro-slavery man, who located here, and refusing to recognize the rights of the town company, erected a shanty in the middle of the street near the crossing of Sycamore and Sarah. This was the first frame building, the lumber being hauled from Weston, and was built in August, 1855. He also erected a building 12 by 14 in size, near where the Cataract house now stands. The first one was a store and saloon, and the other a residence. Pattie was also postmaster for a time. He did a heavy business, sold a great deal of whisky and made more money than all the other men in the settlement. He was, in 1856, driven from the country for his Pro- slavery proclivities.

The first death in the settlement was that of Eddie, the sixteen-year old son of George S. Hillyer. About the same time a young man named Scanlan, died. This was in the spring of 1855.

The first hotel was kept by Stephen H. Dunn and his wife. He was the village blacksmith, lived in a log cabin and entertained travelers, and boarded those at the settlement who had no home of their own.

The first birth in the settlement was that of Ada, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George S. Hillyer, who was born in August, 1855. She is now Mrs. Albert Beland. The first birth on the town site was that of Johnnie Considine, son of John Considine, who located there in May, 1857. He bought lot 12 in block 19, and went to work on a house, which was afterward the Farmers' Home hotel. Before its completion the family lived in a tent and here Johnnie was born one stormy night, about the first of June. The wind blew violently, the lightning flashed, the thunder roared, and the rain poured down in torrents, and ran into the tent wetting the occupants. The next morning all head drank to the health of the new-born child. He is now living at Atchison.

Early in the spring of 1856, William and R. H. Crosby built a small frame store, and put in a stock o goods. During the troubles of 1856--in September-- this store was burned, and rebuilt again in the spring of 1857.

After Pattie was driven from the town, his buildings were used by the citizens whenever they wished them. The house was kept, to be used as a temporary home for the immigrants, while they were building.

The original town site comprised 320 acres. The site was recognized by the Government surveyors in 1856, and they left it just as it was surveyed by the proprietors. This left fractions on each side. On the east side was a fraction o forty-six acres, and her Dr. Lorenzo Northrup had located in 1855. His cabin was jest east of the present railroad depot, east of the town site.

At the time of the land sales, in July, 1857, there were only seven buildings on the town site. These were Crosby Bros. store, John Beland's house, Lewis Stafford's blacksmith shop, the Cataract Hotel, which had been built that year, John Considine's house, Dr. L. Northrup's drug store, and Peter Taylor's house.

At the land sales it was expected that the town site would be recognized, and that it would be sold as such. It was, however, sold by one-quarter sections, the same as the other lands of the county, and at its appraised value. There was great excitement on the part of property owners, for fear that they would lose their lots, and all threw their influence in favor of the own company getting all the land. To secure it, a man was selected on each quarter section, to enter the land, and then transfer it to the town company. A man named Dove was selected to live on and purchase the northwest one quarter section, which contained 136 acres of the town site. T. Elliott entered another quarter-section, on which were twenty-four acres of the site, which he deeded to the town company. There were twenty-four acres in J. A. Cody's quarter-section, on the south, but he would not turn it over, and the shareholders never got it. On James Frazier's quarter-section was twenty-six acres of the town. On Clark's quarter was also twenty-six acres, but most of this was on the north side of the river, and of little use for lots.

There was a contest, however, over the ownership of the northwest quarter of Section 19, Town 8, Range 18 east, where the business center of the town now is. Though Bob Shanklin, as his agent, A. T. Pattie became a contestant, claiming it on the grounds of having been the first settler, and that his residence was still standing there. Dr. L. Northrup took possession of this, and of the forty-six acres on the east. On Block 21, he secured two lots, and was anxious to get the entire block. He also became a contestant for the entire quarter. The town company was a contestant, backed by the owners of lots. It was also thought best for John Beland to became a contestant, in the interests of the town company, and he stared a store there. T. F. Jolley was another contestant, but there was soon a compromise effected between him and the town company.

After a time a court was formed, consisting of Governor Shannon, Robert Stevens, and St. Matthew. A large number of lawyers were employed. Dr. Northrup's lawyer was Prince Hudgens. The final outcome was, that Northrup got his forty-six acres and Block 21; Hudgens got the west half to the quarter. they thirty-four acres were deeded to Stevens and Hudgens, and Gov. Shannon got $700 as court expenses, which the town company had to pay.

Dove felt certain of getting his tract;, but it was awarded to Richardson and Durand. They transferred it to the town company, but kept the certificate of sale as security, as they loaned the money to pay for it. But few shareholders got any lots, and they had to pay a big price.

Before the land sales, the buildings of the town were north of what is now the principal street, being around and north of where the Cataract house now is.

The first public enterprise, after the land sale, was the building of the Lutheran Church by Rev. J. B. McAfee, in the fall of 1857. There were about twelve buildings erected during the year.

In 1857, J. C. Bowles located in the new settlement; claimed to be the leader of a colony to soon come from Cleveland. He also proposed to bring in a steam saw-mill. A joint stock company was formed, Bowles holding a majority of shares. The mill came, and was located at the foot of Sycamore street. For a short time business was lively. Thos. Elliott was business manager; Martin Anderson, sawyer; and Harvey Hewitt, engineer. After a short time an assessment was made, Bowles got the money, sold the mill and left the country.

In the spring of 1857 a large hotel, the Cataract House, was built by McCarger Bros. A bonus was given them. Twenty-four lots were subscribed by the citizens. The town company gave twelve, and Frazier & Riddle bought another of them at a cost of $75. When the hotel was completed, a grand ball was held. The hotel is still one of the leading ones in the town.

First school.--The first school was established in 1857. it was before the days of public schools in the county. Dr. L. Northrup bought the old Pattie claim house, and moved it to Block 21. There was no school law except the doctor, and he soon got ready, and employed Miss Libbie Pennock, of Leavenworth County, to teach the school for three months. The school was supported by subscription, and as there were but few children in attendance, the many bachelor settlers contributed liberally, and the school was well supported, with little expense to the doctor.

In 1858, Miss Anderson, sister of Thomas J. Anderson, of Topeka, taught a term of school in the Lutheran Church. J. B. McAfee started the school and employed the teacher. She boarded with him on his farm, and he brought her and his children to school each morning.

Another term of school was taught in 1858, by Miss Mariah Ring, who came from Massachusetts for that purpose. From reports, she expected to find a large cataract and a good-sized city. Her surprise can be imagined when, on the first night of her arrival, she stayed at the log cabin of W. C. Hicks, on Peters' Creek. It was raining hard, and she had to occupy the upper one of a tier of bunks, with the family below. The roof leaked badly, and her first night was an unpleasant one. She taught school in the Lutheran Church, completed the year before. In 1860, she went to Denver, but returned after four years, and bought property in Valley Falls. She still lives here, and is quite wealthy.

The same year, 1858, Miss Sarah E. Parker began a term of school in the Lutheran Church. She taught there until the school district was organized and a house built, after which she taught the public school until 1862, when she went to Topeka to teach, but she died in November, before beginning.

In the spring of 1858, Richarson & Riddle erected a stone building, opposite the Cataract House. During the summer, the Congregational Church was built, also houses by Rev. A. C. Downey, Charles Hicks, T. F. Jolley, Thomas H. Elliott, Mr. Dickerson, and others. The same summer a start was made on a Masonic hall, by G. S. Hillyer and A. G. Patrick, but after expending some money, the project was abandoned. Dr. L. Northrup began his hotel, the Octagon House, on Block 21, which was completed in due time. A town well was dug in the center of the cross-street, near the Cataract House. it was eighty feet deep, and cost $400. It was afterward abandoned..

The first Justice of the Peace at the town of Valley Falls was J. H. Bennett, who came to the county in 1857, and located on Coal Creek. He was induced to remove to the village and was elected Justice of the Peace. He built an office on Sycamore street. He always tried to preserve peace and good order, but the citizens had become so found of fighting, it was impossible to stop it at once. On one occasion two men had formed a ring and were having a fight near his office, when he selected assistants and went to separate the combatants, but he was forced out and severely used by A. G. Patrick, who wanted to see the fight go on. Both J. H. Bennett and A. G. Patrick have always been prominent citizens of the county, have been rivals to some extent, have both worked zealously to collect historical material relating to the county, and to both of them is the writer of this history much indebted for material placed at his disposal by them.

Until the breaking out of the war, the village continued to grow slowly,. The largest and best building erected at that time was a two-story stone store, by Crosby Bros., in 1860, the ruins of which are now standing, north of the Cataract House.

During the War of the Rebellion, the town grew but very slowly, as the greater number of the settlers were away to the war.

After the close of the war the village began to improve slowly, and continued to be one of the principal business points of the county. But it had no railroad communications, and this seriously retarded its progress. For several years the leading citizens worked hard to secure a railroad. At last the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad was commenced, and was completed so that the first trains began running in the spring of 1872.

As soon as the coming of the railroad was assured, and beginning with the year 1871, the village began to grow very rapidly. New settlers came, and a large number of building was erected, but the year 1872 witnessed the greatest improvement. That year large business blocks were erected, some of which were of brick. During the fall the Kansas Central Railroad (narrow gauge) was built from Leavenworth, and this gave an additional impetus to the progress of the town. By the fall of 1873, the town had arrived nearly to its present size.

On the night of November 29, 1873, a tragedy occurred that for months furnished a great deal of excitement throughout the county. Two men, Blair and Stizel, were arrested as horse thieves. They were noted robbers and hard cases, were considered dangerous characters, and were said to have killed several men. They were placed under guard, but as they belonged to a regularly organized band, it was feared that they would be released, the guards killed and the town burned, as Blair had so threatened. The guards were two in number, one of whom was S. G. Green. To add to the anxiety, a man named Smith, claiming to be an attorney from Atchison, came to visit them in a professional capacity, and it was found that he left a pistol and knife with the prisoners. The citizens were now thoroughly alarmed. It was believed that Smith was a member of the band, and that he had gone to organize them, and that they would that night burn the town. Therefore the citizens of Grasshopper Falls organized a vigilance committee, of which Louis A. Myers was appointed captain. The night was dark and he left the prisoners in charge of the two guards, while he, with the company, returned to the town to watch against a surprise, and left word with Green and his companion to shoot the prisoners as soon as they should hear a firing of guns, then to return to the main party and help protect the town. During the night there was great excitement among the citizens, as at one time several guns were fired. It is supposed that the two guards thought this to be a signal of general attack, and shot the prisoners to prevent their escape. At any rate they were found dead the next morning with bullets in their bodies. Some time afterward S. G. Green was arrested, charged with their murder. At the next term of the district court, after a long and exciting trial, he was found guilty of murder in the second degree, and sentenced to the penitentiary. He was, however, pardoned by the Governor in October, 1875, owing to the circumstances seeming to have partially justified the deed. He was never blamed by the citizens of the county, and now resides on his farm, honored and respected.

Since the year 1873, the city of Valley Falls has increased in population and in the number of business house, but slowly. There have, however, been great improvements in the class of buildings, an a great deal has been done to improve the general appearance of the city. All this is still going on, and at no time during its history has it been more prosperous than it now is. All classes of business are well represented and the merchants all have a large trade.

[TOC] [part 7] [part 5] [Cutler's History]