KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS

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


JOHNSON COUNTY, Part 11

[TOC] [part 12] [part 10] [Cutler's History]

MONTICELLO.

Monticello Township is in the northern part of the county, and on account of the heavy bodies of timber it contained, was from the first a favorite place of residence with the Indians. A number of white men came in prior to white occupancy, and marrying Shawnee women, were adopted into the tribe. Among these, Isaac Parish, Samuel Garrett and John Owens, the first two whom came in 1847.

Among those who settled in the township in 1857, immediately after the county was opened up to settlement by the whites, were Rev. C. Boles, Francis Brown, T .J. and J. M. Hadley, Jacob Larver, W. Massey, L. W. Mawpin, W. J. McCarthy, Col. A. Payne, B. B. and G. W. Walker, J. E. Corliss, J. W. Hawes and Jesse Wilson.

Monticello town was laid out in June, 1857, by the town company, of which Col. A. Payne was President, and W. J. McCarthy, Secretary. Among those who moved into Monticello this year were C. Brassfield, A. J. Cordray, M. and F. P. Shannon, and J. M. Reed, the latter of whom built a large and commodious hotel, which was accidentally burned in 1862.

In 1857, Rich & Rively opened the first store. The first school in the vicinity was taught in 1857, about a mile west of town. A schoolhouse was built in the town in 1865, and a school taught in it that year. The postoffice was also established this year.

Rev. C. Boles preached the first sermon. In 1880, a Methodist church, 40X50 feet in size, frame and neatly finished, was built about one and a half miles southwest of the town, at a cost of $2,000.

In 1858, the town was almost entirely torn to pieces by a tornado, but it quickly recovered, and for some time was ambitious of being the county seat, but failed of the distinction on account of not being centrally located.

At the present time the town contains two general stores, a blacksmith shop, a school house, about fifteen houses and about sixty inhabitants. It is beautifully situated on rolling prairie, about nine miles north of Olathe.

Wilder is situated in the northern part of Monticello Township, on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. R., and on bottom land about a mile from the Kansas River. It was so named after E. Wilder, of the above named railroad company.

The first settler in the town was Simmon Walters, in 1877, during which year the postoffice was established with L. S. Haynes, first Postmaster.

The first marriage was that of William Glynn, to Miss Mary Bradley, November 20, 1878; the first birth, that of Jesse A. Johnson, November 21, 1879, and the first death that of an infant child of James King, in May, 1879.

Rev. C. Boles preached the first sermon here. A saw mill with small grist mill attached was built just east of town by P. P. Hall, in 1879.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES - MONTICELLO TOWNSHIP.

HENRY S. BELL, farmer, P. O. Olathe, was born in Columbiana County, Ohio, in 1820, and reared in Indiana, where he followed farming, draying, etc., for some years. In April, 1868, he came to Kansas and located on his present farm. Mr. Bell is a progressive farmer, and has one of the handsomest homesteads in the township. His house is nearly surrounded by a fine orchard. Besides his farming pursuits he is largely engaged in raising stock. He is a member of the Grand View Grange. Mr. Bell has four sons - Thomas, Harry, Clark and Robert. The latter assists him in conducting the farm. The family own in all about 240 acres, all in a high state of cultivation.

JOHN BRADY, farmer, Section 28, P. O. Monticello, was born in Indiana County, Pa., July 10, 1816, and there for some twenty years he carried on a large stock farm, and was also engaged in dealing in live stock, etc. He came to Kansas in April, 1865, and located in Johnson County on his present farm. He had at first 160 acres, but disposed of eighty acres a few years ago. His land is all improved, and he has a good fruit orchard and grapery. Mr. Brady also owns forty acres in Section 19, Township 12, Range 23, and a farm of 160 acres in Dickinson County, this State. He was elected a member of the Johnson Board of County Commissioners in 1866, and re-elected in 1868, and during the last term of membership was Chairman of the Board. He was elected Trustee of Monticello Township in the spring of 1878, and served one year. He was married in Centre County, Pa., in 1844, to Catherine S. Lee, and they have nine children.

WM. C. BROWN, farmer, P. O. Cedar Junction, was born in Lee County, Iowa, March 4, 1855, and came to Kansas with his father, Oliver D. Brown, and assisted him in farming until his death, February 22, 1880, since which time the subject of our sketch has farmed the place on his own account. He has 100 acres of land, ninety of which are under cultivation, and in connection with farming pursuits raises considerable cattle and hogs.

JOHN W. BURCH, farmer, P. O. Cedar Junction, was born in Dresden, Muskingum Co., Ohio, October 4, 1839. At eighteen years of age he removed to Linn County, Iowa, and followed farming. In the fall of 1861 he enlisted in Company D, Twelfth Iowa Infantry, and was promoted to Sergeant, and served four and a half years. In the spring of 1867 he came to Kansas and located on his present farm. He has a beautiful place, consisting of about 200 acres, and is engaged in connection with farming pursuits, in breeding cattle. Mr. B. was Treasurer of this Township for two years. He was married in March, 1866, to Martha Cochran. They have four children living - Georgia, Carrie, Hattie and Nellie.

JOHN C. COLLINS, farmer and stock-raiser, near Cedar Junction, Johnson Co., Kas., was born near Keene, in Jessamine Co., Ky. He was the eighth child of Lewis Collins, a well-to-do farmer. His mother was the daughter of George Cleveland, a wealthy farmer and stock-dealer. Both branches were natives of Virginia, coming to Kentucky in an early day. Mr. Collins never knew much of a mother's love and care, she having died when he was three years old, and his father never married again. At the age of thirteen years, having the advantage of a country school education, he went to Mortonsville, a village in Woodford County, Ky., and lived with his brother-in-law, who was a merchant, and entered his store as a clerk. He remained in Mortonsville several years, and during his stay had considerable experience in the postal service and hotel business, giving a part of his time to study. At the age of nineteen years he began the mercantile business on his own account, his father favoring him with the use of his name in the business. Two years later, his father, who had been a companion, dies. In June, 1852, he was married to Miss Eliza C. Dishmon, of that place, and moved out to the old homestead, giving his attention to the farm until 1855, when he, with his then small family, accompanied by his brother, George L. Collins, moved to Clay County, Mo., where he followed farming and breeding of blooded stock. In March, 1860 he came to Kansas, bringing some of his best horses and cattle, Jacks and Jennies with him, and located on Cedar Creek, in a neighbourhood of Shawnee Indians, who were then thickly settled along the creek. Succeeding in the purchase of some of their timber lands, he, together with his brother, built and operated a steam saw and grist mill, and remained there during the Rebellion. He furnished a considerable amount of lumber to the Government; and also furnished lumber and built houses for the Indians, thus securing some of their lands. In 1865 he commenced the improvement of his present farm, moved on it the following year, and continued to improve and farm until 1871. Leaving the farm in the hands of his brother, he went to Topeka to take the position of Chief Clerk of the State Treasury, conducting that office nearly four years. He removed to Olathe in 1875, and engaged in the grain business. Remained there until the fall of 1877, since which time he has resided on his farm, now well improved, with 200 acres enclosed, 50 acres planted in black walnuts, pines and other forest trees; orchards, vineyards, small fruits, etc. Pastures well set in blue and other tame grasses. Well stocked, including high-grade and thoroughbred Durham cattle. He has a family of eight children, boys and girls, the eldest daughter being married.

PETER D. COOK, farmer, Section 4, P. O. Wilder, was born in Cardington, Morrow Co., Ohio, June 19, 1838, and reared in the city of Columbus. In 1852 he went to the coal regions of Pennsylvania, and was employed as surveyor and engineer in the coal fields of Huntingdon and Redford counties until 1856, when he returned to Ohio and engaged in mercantile business in Franklin County. In the fall of that year he moved his stock to Galena, Ohio, and in 1857 closed out and went West through Illinois and Indiana, and taught school for some two years. He came to Kansas in 1859; returned to Decatur, Ill., a few months later and again taught school, and was also for a time engaged in grain commission business. On June 10, 1862, he enlisted in the Seventieth Illinois Infantry; was mustered out in October following, and shortly afterwards came West to Johnson County, Kan. Mr. Cook took up a claim, but abandoned it in the spring, and going farther west, engaged in mining and mercantile pursuits in Idaho. In the spring of 1865, he returned to Illinois, and engaged in in sic business at Springfield. This he sold out in the summer of 1866; came West again, and located in Topeka, where he engaged in the grocery business, in company with his brother, L. S. Cook. In 1874 they disposed of their grocery store, but continued in partnership in real estate and general speculation until November, 1879. The subject of our sketch was elected Treasurer of the city of Topeka in 1870, '71, '72, '73 and '74. In 1874 he purchased his present property in Monticello Township, Johnson County, and four years later removed here. He has 466 acres of fine land, and in June, 1881, had surveyed and laid out on his land the town of Wilder. He is also largely engaged in raising live stock. Mr. Cook was one of the first directors of the K. C. T. & W. R. R. built in 1875. He is a prominent Mason; has held various high offices in Chapter, Commandery, etc., at Topeka, and still retains his connection with the same.

EDWIN S. CORLESS, farmer, P. O. Cedar Junction, was born in Rock County, Wis., June 15, 1842, and came to Kansas in 1857 with his father, J. E. Corless, who settled in Monticello, and who carried on farming in an extensive manner. He died in June, 1877, leaving three children - Edwin, William and Mary. The subject of our sketch has about 200 acres of land, all under cultivation, and is also engaged in raising stock. During the war he served three years in the Sixteenth Kansas Infantry. He was married in Johnson County, Kan., in 1870, to Alice Brown. She died in the spring of 1879, leaving three children - Frank, Lloyd and Harry.

DAVID J. FRAME, farmer, P. O. Wilder, was born in Loudoun County, Va., in 1836 and reared on a farm. After reaching the age of manhood he removed to Greene County, Ohio, and for eight years was employed on a farm; removing to Platte County, Mo., he farmed on his own account for six years. He came to Kansas in March, 1871, and located on his present farm which consists of 120 acres, all highly improved. Mr. Frame is largely engaged in stock raising in this and Reno County. He was married in Platte County, Mo., in 1868, to Miss Anna Smith. They have five children: Alice, Eliza, Herbert, Laura and James.

SAMUEL GARRETT, farmer, Section 3, P. O. Wilder, was born in Devonshire, England, March 24, 1831. There he learned the trade of stone cutter and followed that occupation for a livelihood. In the spring of 1849 he immigrated to Anderson County, Texas, but being deceived in the purchase of some lands he remained only a few months, and on the 20th of July, 1849, he came to Johnson County, Kansas; resided a year with the Shawnee Indians. In 1850 he moved to Council Grove, this State, and for three years traded with the Kaw Indians. In the early part of 1854 he returned to Johnson County, and located on his present farm. On November 10, 1853, he was married to Betsey Captain, a member of the Shawnee tribe, and continued to reside here with that nation until about 1870, when they moved to the Indian Territory. Mr. Garrett accompanied them, and resided there some six years. He owns there 1,100 acres of land. In December, 1876, he returned to his residence in this county, and devotes himself to the management of his farms. He has here some 900 acres besides large quantities of live stock. Mr. Garrett's first wife died, leaving him with a family of six children, and he was married again in the Indian Territory, about 1874, to Miss Sidnie Smith.

JOHN GLYNN, farmer, Section 33, P. O. Wilder, was born in Ireland, August 31, 1826, and reared on a farm. In 1850 he emigrated to West Hoboken, N. J., and was for several years employed in a watch case manufactory in that city. In 1850 he came West to Kansas City and engaged in contracting for three years. July 13, 1863, he enlisted in Company B, Eleventh Kansas Calvary, and was discharged August 14, 1865. He then carried on the Gilliam House and saloon in Missouri City for three years. In July, 1868, he came to Johnson County and located on his present farm. Mr. Glynn has 175 acres of rich bottom land and raises considerable live stock. He was married in West Hoboken, N. J., in November, 1854, to Miss Ellen Maguire. They have a family of nine living children.

W. P. HAIGLER, Farmer, P. O. Monticello, was born in Randolph County, Va., May 9, 1824, and reared on a farm. In 1855 he emigrated to Henry County, Iowa, and followed farming as an occupation; was also for several years engaged in mercantile business at Winfield, in that county. He came to Kansas in the spring of 1861, locating on his present farm, which consists of eighty acres, all well improved, on which there is a fine orchard of four acres. He also has twenty acres of timber land. Mr. H. was married in Pendleton County, Va., to Mary Hinkle. They have five living children, Anna, Emma, Lucy, Christina, Elbert, and three deceased, Mattie, Virginia and Mary Alice.

WILLIAM HARPER, farmer, Section 33, P. O. Monticello, was born in Pendleton County, West Va., February 28, 1832, and reared on a farm. In 1857 he moved to Henry County, Iowa, farmed there two years, then to Randolph County, Mo. He came to Kansas in the fall of 1861, and located in Johnson County on his present farm. He has eighty acres, all highly improved, on which there is a fine orchard and grapery. During the rebellion Mr. H. served in the Johnson County Home Guards. He was married in Pendleton County, Va., July 19, 1855, to Ellen Hinkle; they have one son, Charles P.

J. D. HAZLETT, farmer, Section 28, P. O. Monticello, was born in Indiana County, Pa., January 8th, 1835, and reared on a farm. He learned the trade of carpenter there and followed that occupation for a livelihood. In the spring of 1865 he came to Kansas and located on his present farm. He owns 181 acres of land, 123 acres of which are under cultivation, and also has a good orchard. Mr. Hazlett devotes his time principally to contracting and building. He is a brother to Absalom Hazlett, who was a follower of John Brown and was hung for his anti-slavery principles in Virginia. Mr. H. was married in Johnson County, Kansas, April 31, sic 1866, to Malona R. Stephenson. They have two living children, Archie and Addison, and four deceased.

WILLIAM HUNDLEY, farmer, Section 4, P. O. Olathe, was born in Henry County, Ky., April 12, 1832, and removed with parents to Platte County, Mo., in 1840, where he was reared on a farm. He came to Kansas in the spring of 1855; located in Leavenworth County, where he followed agricultural pursuits and lime burning. In 1857 he came to Johnson County, but only remained a few months. Returning to Leavenworth he again followed lime burning, carrying on that business in connection with agricultural pursuits. In 1870 he returned to Johnson County, and has since given his attention to farming and raising stock. He owns 240 acres, all well improved, and has on his place a fine orchard. He is a charter member of Grand View Grange. Mr. H. took an active part with the Free-state party in the troubles of 1856, and also served in the Kansas State Militia during the late war. He was married July 17, 1856, to Mary Roberts. They have a family of seven living children.

HON. DAVID B. JOHNSON, was born in Mayfield, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, July 1, 1840. In 1842, his father and family emigrated to Lake County, Ill., and in 1853, moved to DeKalb County, Ill. In 1859, the family came West, and settled in Shawnee Township, Johnson County, Kan. In 1861, the subject of this sketch joined the Union Army for the suppression of the rebellion; served as First Orderly Sergeant, Recruiting Commissioner, Sergeant Major and Assistant Quartermaster until December, 1865, when he was discharged at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., with his regiment. During his nearly five years' service he enjoyed perfect health and never failed to discharge his duty as a fearless and consistent soldier; morally, Mr. Johnson was an exemplary soldier, and being a teetotaler as to the use of spirits, tobacco, cards, etc., his record as a soldier stands without a blemish. After his discharge from the army, he remained at home on his farm, near Shawnee, until the following fall, when he entered the State University at Lawrence, where he completed a thorough business education. In 1869, he was elected to represent his district in the State Legislature, and although among its youngest members, secured the passage of a bill by which the State assumed the payment of a war claim of $500,000. This famous measure had been before the three preceding sessions of the Legislature and as often failed to become a law. But it remained for our young legislator to announce to his constituents, who were largely interested in the claim, the payment in full. In 1870, he was re-elected by a vote of three to one, notwithstanding the district had given a majority vote the previous year for the opposite party. During this session there were two questions before the Legislature that thoroughly tried the honor, grit and judgment of Mr. Johnson. The first was the memorable senatorial election that sent Alexander Colwell to the United States Senate. Immediately before casting his vote, Mr. Johnson rose in his place, and with uplifted hand, swore that he would not vote or support any man that he had reason to believe would use money to secure his election, and his votes corresponded to his oath. The second was the scheme to divide the important county of Johnson. In this contest Mr. Johnson showed a degree of determination and judgment that might have been accorded older and more experienced heads; after two years hard contest, he returned to his county with the scheme defeated, his enemies vanquished, and a law on the statues to prevent its re-occurrence sic; and everywhere went the happy greeting, "Well done, faithful servant." In 1874, Mr. Johnson was married to Miss Alice C. Pearson, formerly of Elkhart, Ind. They have one child, a bright boy - Jesse, three years of age. In 1877, Mr. Johnson leased his farm near Shawnee, and purchased a store building and stock of goods from Walters & Holsinger, at Wilder. He is now doing a general merchandise business, carries a large stock of goods, and does a large and profitable business. Besides merchandising, Mr. Johnson is engaged in shipping stock, grain, sand, etc., and largely engaged in farming. In Politics, he is an active, sound and consistent Republican, and a leading, enterprising citizen of his county, and enjoys the confidence and friendship of a large acquaintance.

BOYD KAY, farmer, Section 33, P. O. Olathe, was born in Bedford County, Pa., April 4, 1856, and came to Kansas with his father, Thomas Kay, in February, 1866. He assisted his father in farming in Monticello Township, Johnson County, until in the spring of 1876, when he began to farm on his own account. He moved on to his present farm in March, 1881. Has 220 acres, all improved, 210 of which are in cultivation. Also raises considerable live stock. Mr. Kay is a member of the "Union Horse League." He was married at DeSoto, this county, July 1, 1877, to Emma Jackson.

THOMAS J. KAY, farmer and dealer in live stock, Section 14, P. O. Wilder, was born in Bedford County, Pa., March 3, 1833; reared on a farm, and after reaching the age of manhood carried on a farm, and also raised considerable stock for some years. In November, 1865, he came to Kansas and located in Monticello Township, Johnson County. In October, 1881, he moved on to his present farm. He has 120 acres of land, all improved and a nice orchard. Mr. Kay is also engaged in dealing in grain and live stock. He was for two years Trustee of the township. He was married in Bedford County, Pa., December 22, 1853, to Mary E. Smith and they have a family of six children.

LESTER D. KENTON, farmer, Section 9, P. O. Wilder, was born in Champaign County, Ohio, September 30, 1814, and reared on a farm. In 1839 he removed to Jasper County, Ind., where he conducted an extensive stock farm. In November, 1864, he came to Johnson County, Kas., and located in Monticello Township. Mr. Kenton owns 280 acres of land, of which 150 are in cultivation. On his place is a good orchard, and he also raises considerable stock.

F. L. KUCKER, P. O. Monticello, was born in Germany in 1836, and in 1844 emigrated to Randolph County, Ill., where he was reared and followed farming as an occupation. In the spring of 1874 he came to Kansas and located on his present farm. He is one of the progressive farmers of the county, owns 280 acres of land, 240 of which are under cultivation. He has a beautiful residence which he built in 1880. Mr. K. was married in Randolph County, Ill., in 1862, to Mary C. Reitz. They have five children - George, Charles, Mary, Emma, and William.

WM. J. MANN, farmer, Section 5, P. O. Wilder, was born in Muskingum, Ohio, January 3, 1837, and about 1850 his parents moved to Putnamville, Ind., where he learned the carpenter trade, which occupation he followed in various portions of that State until June, 1857, when he came West and located in Johnson County, at a small place called Princeton, where he carried on a small grocery business in company with his brother Aaron. A year later he returned to Indiana. In 1859 he again came to Johnson County, located in Olathe and followed contracting and building for a year or so, when he returned to Indiana and was employed in a pork packing establishment at Terre Haute. Early in 1865 he enlisted in Company K, One Hundred and Forty-ninth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and served four months, after which he again emigrated West and farmed for a year at Westport, Mo. He then came to Monticello Township, and in 1868 located on his present farm. He has 190 acres, all improved, and raises considerable live stock. Mr. Mann was married at Olathe, Kan., in October, 1859, to Priscilla Logan. They have a family of two children - Charles and James.

NICHOLAS REITZ, farmer, P. O. Monticello, was born in Monroe County, Ill., February 4, 1839, and reared on a farm. He enlisted August 1, 1862, in Company H, One Hundred and Seventeenth Illinois Infantry, serving until August 5, 1865. He came to Kansas in March, 1868, and located on his present farm. He owns some 200 acres, 185 of which are under cultivation. Mr. R. was one of the Trustees of this township for several years, and elected Sheriff of the county in 1873, serving a term of two years. He was married in Monroe County, Ill., July 24, 1860, to Magdaline Huth. They have five children, Martin, Mary, Julius, Milton and Amelia.

DR. W. A. H. SPRATT, Section 12, P. O. Monticello, was born in Withe County, West Virginia, March 19, 1808. After reaching the age of manhood he became connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was for eight years engaged as an itinerant preacher. In the year 1832 he preached to the Delaware and Shawnee Indians in Kansas. He studied medicine at Transylvania College, Lexington, Ky., and graduated there in the class of 1840 and 1841. He then practiced medicine in various parts of the State of Missouri until March, 1869, when he came to Kansas. For eighteen months he practiced his profession in Wyandotte County. Then came to Johnson County, and has since resided on his farm, practicing but very little. He has 120 acres of land, all well improved.

HON. THOMAS G. STEPHENSON, farmer, P. O. Cedar Junction, was born in Hampshire County, Va., February 15, 1823, and removed with his parents to Athens County, Ohio, in October, 1824. In July, 1841, he removed to Lee County, Iowa, where he followed farming and stock-raising. He was for two years County Commissioner of that County, and in the fall of 1861 was elected Representative to the State Legislature, and served two terms. He came to Kansas in 1866 and located on his present farm. Has 240 acres of land, eighty-five of which is in cultivation. Has an orchard of about four acres, apple, peach and cherry. In 1869 he was elected Justice of the Peace and served about four years, and in the fall of 1871 was elected representative to the State Legislature for a term of two years. In 1877 was elected County Commissioner of Johnson County for a term of two years, and re-elected in the fall of 1879 for a term of three years. Was Chairman of the Board continuously for four years, and with the assistance of his associates effected a compromise of all the railroad bonded indebtedness of Johnson County, reducing the same from the sum of $41,800 to $28,800. Mr. Stephenson was married in Denmark, Lee Co., Iowa, September 6, 1849, to Miss Sarah D. Brown, daughter of Wm. T. Brown, Esq., of Denmark. They have six children - Lucie, Marie, George, Susie, Frankie and Wm. T.

LEXINGTON.

Lexington Township is in the northwest corner of the county. The first settler was J. Weathers, who built a cabin in March, 1857, on the northwest corner of Section 10, Township 13, Range 22 east. In this township are De Soto, Prairie Centre, Cedar Junction and Crozier Station.

Lexington was laid out in 1857, three miles from De Soto, and for a number of years was its rival town. A two-story hotel was built by Mr. McKinney in 1858; it was burned down in 1859, and re-built by Mr. Potter in 1860. De Soto was a Yankee town, Lexington a Southern town, hence there was a political as well as business rivalry between the two. But the latter town was gradually deserted, and its site is now an excellent farm.

PRAIRIE CENTRE.

Prairie Centre is located in Lexington Township, about ten miles directly west of Olathe. It was so named because it is situated on prairie, and nearly equally distant from four other towns lying in different directions - Edgerton, eight miles south; Gardner, seven miles southeast; De Soto, seven miles nearly northeast, and Eudora in Douglas County, about eight miles northwest. It thus seemed to be in the center of the prairie, the towns named being as it were on the circumference. The first settlement was made here by David Vestal, April 9, 1871. Dr. W. C. Barnes came in February, 1877, and H. T. Simmons in November. The postoffice was established in February, 1872; David Vestal appointed Postmaster, who had opened a store the previous year. In 1874 the first school was taught by Edwin Stanley, in a schoolhouse built that year, and in which Rev. Charles H. Lovejoy preached the first sermon in the town. The Friends built a church this year, one-half mile north of the post- office. Recently there have been built two other churches, one by the Methodist Episcopal organization, the other by the Free Methodists.

At the present time there are in Prairie Centre, besides the three churches and postoffice, one store, a blacksmith shop, a wood workman and about seventy-five inhabitants. The surrounding country is excellent farming and grazing land, and is settled up quite thickly with an intelligent and enterprising class of farmers.

The first child born in Prairie Centre was Eli J. Vestal, July 27, 1874, and the first death that of Melissa A. Vestal, May 13, 1875.

DE SOTO.

This town is situated in the northwestern part of the county, on the south bank of the Kansas River. The surrounding country is rolling, partially timbered and fertile prairie. The town was laid out in the spring of 1857 by a town company composed of B. W. Woodward, James F. Legate, James Findley, and G. W. Hutchinson, and named De Soto, after the great Spanish adventurer of that name.

The first frame building upon the town site was occupied for a short time as a store by Zera Nichols. During this same year, 1857, Stratton & Williams built a saw-mill on the river bank, employing D. Rolfe to construct the mill and run the engine one year. Mr. Rolfe arrived July 12, 1857, and was so well pleased with the country that he sent for his wife and family, who arrived April 3, 1858. During the year, two or three buildings were erected in De Soto. In 1858, Perry Teters, erected a double dwelling in which his family and that of Jacob Van Rankin lived for some time. In August of this year the De Soto hotel was completed, and Mr. Rolfe moved into it, thus being the first hotel keeper in the town. John Van Rankin started the first regular store, in 1859. The postoffice was established in 1860, with James Smith first Postmaster.

The Methodist Church was organized in 1858. Elder Beach being the first minister. Services were conducted for some years in private houses, and in the hotel, until in 1870, a stone church was built at a cost of about $2,500.

The Presbyterian Church was also organized in 1858. They built a stone church in 1879, costing $2,000. Rev. William H. Smith became Pastor in 1860, and still remains in charge.

The first birth in De Soto, was that of a child of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Gentry, the death of which child was the first death.

The first marriage was a double one - Truesdale Barclay to Miss Melissa Gentry, and Robert Todd to Miss Mary Gentry, the ceremony occurring in 1859.

De Soto now contains two general stores, two drug stores, one hotel, one notion store, two blacksmith, one wagonmaker, and about seventy-five inhabitants.

In 1879, a brick flouring mill was erected near the railroad depot, by Skinner & Barrett. It is two stories high and contains two run of buhrs. The mill is now owned by J. M. Hadley.

[TOC] [part 12] [part 10] [Cutler's History]