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


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


From the time of the failure of the "English Bill," in 1857, there had been comparative peace on the border. It then became evident to the Pro-slavery party everywhere that, even with the aid of the Government, the "institution" could not be forced upon Kansas. Efforts to that end therefore ceased. The seasons of 1858 and 1859 were mild and propitious. Crops were good, immigration heavy, trade lively, money plenty, in short, prosperity reigned. In 1860, the great drought, mentioned elsewhere, was very disastrous and discouraging.

In 1861, when the war came on, Johnson County, in common with other counties bordering on Missouri, had peculiar reasons for looking forward to the future with grave forebodings. Although peace had reigned near four years, it had been the peace of conquest on the one hand, of defeat on the other. The defeated party was just across the line in Missouri; the hearts of which party were filled with a smoldering hatred which needed but the first spark of war to rekindle it into flame and fury. When that spark was struck by the attack upon Fort Sumter, the exultation of this party was unbounded. They looked upon the North as cowardly, upon the South as invincible, and an easy victory as a logical sequence. To wreak vengeance upon their foes, they were fully determined now that opportunity had come, and they had many foes in Johnson County.

Although knowing well what to expect, most of this county's people resolved to remain at home and do their duty as it should develop from day to day. A few of the more timid moved to localities they considered more safe. The county furnished its full quota of soldiers throughout the four long years of the war for the Union, who did their full share of noble fighting. In about three weeks after the first call for troops a company of fifty men was enlisted and organized with S. F. Hill, Captain; James W. Parmeter, First Lieutenant; Warren Kimball, Second Lieutenant; and John K. Rankin, Third Lieutenant. These officers were commissioned May 14, and the company was assigned to the Second Kansas Infantry as Company C. Upon the second call for volunteers a second company was organized, of which J. E. Hayes was Captain; Thomas E. Milhoan, First Lieutenant; and F. H. Burris, Second Lieutenant. For some time this company belonged to the Fourth Regiment, but in the spring of 1862, it became Co. A. of the Tenth Regiment, Captain Hayes resigning to accept a position in the Twelfth Regiment, Lieut. Milhoan being promoted to the captaincy. John T. Burris, who had been commissioned Lieut. Colonel of the Fourth Regiment was assigned to the Tenth with the same rank. Thomas McGannon, of Olathe, was made Adjutant of the Regiment.

In the winter of 1861-2 the Second Regiment of Infantry, having served out its three months term of enlistment, was re-enlisted as cavalry for three years, Johnson County furnishing part of one company, and two officers: Pat Cosgrove, as First Lieutenant of Co. G., and G. M. Waugh, Second Lieutenant. In May, 1864, Pat Cosgrove was promoted to the Captaincy of Co. L., and Joseph Hutchinson, of Olathe, promoted to fill the vacancy. G. M. Waugh became Lieut. Colonel of the Second Arkansas Infantry, and was serving in that capacity at the close of the war.

Nearly an entire company was raised in Johnson County for the Eighth Kansas Infantry, and was assigned as Co., F. of that regiment with J. M. Hadley as Second Lieutenant. This was in the fall of 1861. On March 15, 1862, Sec. Lieut. Hadley was promoted to First Lieutenancy of Co. G., Ninth Cavalry, and May 15, 1865, was commissioned Major, retaining that rank until the expiration of his term of enlistment.

On May 3, 1863, T. J. Hadley, who had enlisted as a private in Co. F., Eighth Regiment, was commissioned Second Lieutenant in Co. L., Fifth Cavalry. Among those who enlisted in this latter company, was Col. A. Payne, of Monticello, who in the early days had been a leading and influential member of the Pro-slavery party in the county; but who with many others of similar views, could not follow his party into the struggle for the dismemberment of the Union. In the latter part of the summer of 1862, Wm. Pellet, of Olathe, was commissioned to raise another company of infantry. They were quickly enlisted and organized, with J. W. Parmeter, Captain; and Wm. Pellet, Second Lieutenant. But, as they were almost immediately taken prisoners and paroled by Quantrill's guerrillas, they were not assigned to active duty in the field. As Company H. of the Twelfth Regiment, they performed garrison duty at Forts Leavenworth, Larned and Riley, until August, 1865, when they were mustered out.

A company was raised, also for the Twelfth Regiment, in the vicinity of Gardner and Spring Hill, of which John T. Gordon, of Lanesfield, was Captain; George Ellis, First Lieutenant; and James H. Berkshire, of Spring Hill, Second Lieutenant. This regiment was finally ordered to Ft. Smith, Arkansas, where it became a part of the brigade under Gen. Steele. While marching to effect a junction with Gen. Banks, at Shreveport, La., they met the enemy on the 30th of April, 1864, at Jenkin's Ferry, Arkansas. A heavy battle was fought, and early in the engagement, Lieut. Col. Hayes was struck above the knee by a minie ball, inflicting a dangerous wound.

The horrible massacre at Lawrence, which occurred August 21, 1863, aroused the citizens of Kansas to renewed efforts in behalf of the Union and the defense of their own firesides. The Fifteenth Regiment of Calvry was raised immediately after the Lawrence raid. C. R. Jennison, the notorious jayhawker, who had been Colonel of the Seventh Regiment, was appointed Colonel of the Fifteenth. George H. Hoyt, a notorious red-leg, was commissioned Lieutenant-Colonel, and John M. Laing, Major. This regiment was composed principally of veteran soldiers, veteran red-legs, and veteran jayhawkers, imbued with an intense hatred of the rebellion, brave even to recklessness, and animated with a spirit to avenge the great and peculiar wrongs of Kansas.

Johnson County furnished one entire company to this regiment, besides a number scattered through other companies, and the following officers: John A. Wanless, of Shawnee, Captain Company A; James Wilson, of Spring Hill, First Lieutenant; D. W. Wallingford, of Olathe, Second Lieutenant; John Roberts, of Olathe, Second Lieutenant of Company K, and John Francis, editor of the Olathe Mirror, Regimental Commissionary.

This regiment distinguished itself in 1864, fighting Gen. Price's army, when on its famous raid. Outside of this it had but little opportunity to give proof of the material of which it was composed, but during the series of battles incident upon that raid, a portion of the regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Hoyt, at the battle of the Blue, made one of the most gallant sabre charges of the war.


The first battle of the war within the limits of the county is distinguished by the name of the battle of Blow-hard. It was fought in August, 1861. The farmers between Olathe and the Missouri had previously held a meeting at the house of Gabriel Reed, and determined to station night patrols on the roads leading into Missouri. From the opposition of one of their number who was present, it was promptly inferred that he was a Rebel sympathizer.

Shortly after the meeting, Pat. Cosgrove and Joseph Hutchinson went to Little Santa Fe on official business. They failed to return at the time they were expected, and it was learned next day that they were held as prisoners in Missouri. A company of one hundred men was soon organized, armed with almost every conceivable kind of weapon, and marching with patriotic ardor on Little Santa Fe, fully determined to rescue the prisoners, at whatever the cost. After marching about five miles the company halted, sending forward two of their number to reconnoiter. While awaiting the return of this little reconnoitering party the balance spent the time in speculating upon the number of ghastly rebel corpses that would bestrew the ground next morning around Little Santa Fe, unless those prisoners were surrendered on demand. While thus engaged, a long black line of horsemen was suddenly discovered approaching from the direction of the objective point of their march, and our brave warriors, as suddenly losing all solicitude as to the fate of the prisoners whom they had so recently been so anxious to rescue, instantly instituted a retrograde movement towards Olathe, the rapidity of which would have done credit to the most ambitious pedestrian. Upon reaching the summit of a ridge they looked back. Their pursuers were not in sight. A part of them therefore halted and hastily threw up a fortification of timber, sixty feet square by two feet high. In this fortification about twenty awaited the expected attack of the Rebels, the remainder meanwhile hastening on toward home. The Rebels did not attack. They did not emerge from the timber along Tomahawk Creek. Upon investigation, it was learned that they had merely come out to escort Franklin and his family back to Missouri among their friends.

The prisoners themselves soon returned, not having been harmed nor mistreated in any way. Thus happily ended the battle of Blow-hard.

Jennison's Raid.--Shortly after the happy termination of this "battle," C. R. Jennison made a raid on Olathe. He had raised a company with a view of joining a regiment then being organized at Leavenworth, but not being accepted, he decided to do some independent work. Arriving at Olathe, he arrested L. S. Cornwell, Mr. Drake, Judge Campbell, and a family named Turpin, on the charge of being traitors and rebels. These parties were searched for weapons, sworn not to take up arms against the Union, and released. L. S. Cornwell and Drake left the county in consequence of this raid, and Jennison was never punished for his arbitrary proceeding.

Quantrill's Raid.--September 6, 1862, was the night of Quantrill's famous raid upon Olathe. He had doubtless been informed of the defenseless condition of the town. His band consisted of about one hundred and forty men. Upon approaching Olathe, they killed a young man named Frank Cook, who had shortly previous enlisted in the Twelfth Kansas, and also two brothers, John J. and James B. Judy, who had also enlisted in the Twelfth Regiment. Upon entering Olathe, the inhabitants being taken by surprise, they marched through the town, invaded the houses and stores, stole considerable property and goods of various kinds, corralled the citizens in the public square, and in the melee shot and killed Hiram Blanchard, of Spring Hill, who tried to prevent them from stealing his horse, also Phillip Wiggins and Josiah Skinner. After accomplishing his designs, Quantrill led his men back into Missouri with their plunder.

This raid was a severe check to the prosperity of Olathe, or perhaps it would be more correct to say, a powerful aid to its decline. Its business men had lost heavily by the raid, but little of the property stolen was ever recovered. The people felt insecure, being subject to raids by both friends and foes of the Union. Afterwards soldiers were stationed in the town for protection, and the citizens felt more secure.

Emboldened by his success at Olathe Quantrill repeated his experiment at Shawnee, on the 17th of October following. At this place a great deal of property was stolen, and nearly the whole town burned down, fourteen houses being entirely consumed, and others considerably damaged by the fire. A Mr. Stiles and a Mr. Becker were killed in the town, and five others besides, outside, one of whom was James Warfield and another an Indian.

In February, 1863, George Todd, one of Quantrill's lieutenants, attacked Spring Hill with a force of ten men, taking the town entirely by surprise, as had been the case at Olathe and Shawnee. Although considerable property was stolen and destroyed, no murder was committed at that time.

During the year, however, the people all over the county were in a state of continual alarm, as an occasional depredation of some kind, or murder, would be reported. Among the citizens of the county shot and killed this year were William Reece, and a Mexican trader and one of his men, all in the vicinity of Indian Creek.

On the 21st of August, 1863, occurred the Lawrence raid. On their way thither, Quantrill's forces passed through Johnson County, camping near Aubry for supper.

During the remainder of the war, however, the border was amply protected. One of the steps taken was the enrollment and arming of the militia of the State. The Thirteenth Regiment, consisting of 500 men, was raised in Johnson County, Julius A. Keeler being commissioned Colonel, Alexander S. Johnson, Lieutenant-Colonel, and William Roy, Adjutant. W. H. M. Fishback, of Olathe, was Brigadier General, in command of a division, and Harry McBride, Adjutant-General of the same brigade. The duties of the militia, although arduous, were cheerfully performed, and produced a sense of security and protection which could not have been well otherwise obtained. Being citizens of the county, they were simply protecting their own and their neighbors' homes.


The county was organized, as has been stated, in 1855, but there was no full complement of officers until March, 1857, when Gov. Robert J. Walker appointed the following: Commissioners, John T. Ector, John Evans, and William Fisher, Jr.; Probate Judge, John P. Campbell; Treasurer, John T. Barton; Sheriff, Pat. Cosgrove. The Commissioners held their first meeting on September 7, and appointed John Henry Blake, clerk and Samuel C. Wear attended as deputy-sheriff. At this meeting but little business was transacted. An election was ordered for the purpose of electing county officers which was held on the first Monday in October, but owing to some informality connected with it, declared void. The second meeting of the Commissioners was held October 28, at which time the townships of Aubry, Lexington, Monticello, McCamish, Olathe, Santa Fe (now Oxford), Spring Hill, and Shawnee were organized and special commissioners appointed to prescribe their boundaries. Gardner, then a part of Spring Hill Township, was soon afterward separately organized. At the third meeting of the Commissioners, December 7, Constables were appointed for each township: Anderson Tate, for Olathe; N. T. Milliner, for Monticello; David P. Wear, for Shawnee, T. M. Powers, for McCamish; Robert Vistor, for Gardner; Jacob Buttrum, for Oxford; and R. Todd, for Lexington.

In March, 1858, the first county election was held, with the following results: Commissioners, John T. Ector, John J. Evans, and William Fisher, Jr.; J. H. Blake, Register of Deeds, James Rich, Clerk of the Board of Commissioners; Pat. Cosgrove, Sheriff; Jonathan Gore, County Attorney; S. B. Myrick, Deputy Clerk; and Samuel Wear, Deputy Sheriff by appointment. In the following September John M. Giffen was appointed County Attorney to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Jonathan Gore.

There seems to have been no attempt at this election on the part of the Free-state men to elect a set of officers, the county being too overwhelmingly Democratic. But they did make an attempt to arrest John T. Evans, on account of his connection with operations in 1856. John Lockhart was the leader of this party. After chasing Evans on the open prairie most of the day they relinquished the attempt, returned to Olathe and arrested Judge Campbell, and took him to Lawrence for trial. Judge Campbell was soon afterwards released.

In the fall of 1859 the following county officers were elected by the Democratic party: Probate Judge, E. S. Wilkenson; Clerk, S. B. Myrick; Treasurer, A. B. Squires; Register of Deeds, J. H. Blake; Sheriff, Pat. Cosgrove; County Attorney, G. M. Waugh; Surveyor, A. Slaughter; Superintendent of Public Instruction, W. Christison. All the officers elected at this time were good men and sufficiently well qualified to perform the duties of their respective offices acceptably to the people with one exception, that of the County Treasurer. He turned out to be an utterly reckless and dishonest official, and at the end of his term to be a defaulter to a very large amount. In compensation or in part compensation to the county he offered to turn in Johnson County scrip, which was refused by the Board of Commissioners. Suit was brought and a judgment obtained against him for $6,000. He again tendered scrip which was again refused, and as a result his bondsmen were released. The county secured nothing on its judgment, and Squires left. The county officers elected in the fall of 1861 were all Republicans, though some of them had but recently joined the party. This was the case of S. B. Myrick, who had fought at the battle of Bull Creek under Gen. Reid, and had been repeatedly elected to the office of Clerk by the Democrats. The officers elected were as follows, the figures attached to each name being the majority received: Commissioners, Elias Mason, G. W. Roberts, and Adam Sheets; Clerk, J. H. Jackson (61); Register of Deeds, S. B. Myrick (15); Treasurer, John W. Sponable (53); Sheriff, John Jones (95.)

Since the above election the county officers have been as follows:

Commissioners. Elected in 1863, D. M. Williams, Evan Shriver and Elias Mason; in 1864 Thomas Hogan, to fill a vacancy; in 1865, D. M. Williams, W. C. Smith, and C. L. Bille; in 1867, B. F. Hollenbeck, John Brady and John Fulcher; in 1869, W. H. Brady, John Brady and H. W. McClintock; in 1871, Thomas Douglas, J. B. Marshall and H. W. McClintock; in 1873, J. A. Hibbard, J. E. Barnard and V. R. Ellis; in 1875, L. F. Watts, J. A. Hibbard and Alexander Miller; in 1877, Thomas Douglas, T. G. Stephenson and Thomas Pierce. Hereafter two Commissioners held over, and one is elected each year. In 1878, C. Zehring is elected for three years. In 1879, T. G. Stephenson; in 1880, A. Fritz; in 1881, C. Zehring.

Judges of Probate have been as follows: L. F. Blodgett elected in 1862, re-elected in 1864; B. P. Noteman, in 1866, 1868 and 1870: G. P. Hendrickson in 1872, and at every successive election until the present time.

Sheriffs.--John Janes, in 1863; J. M. Hadley, in 1865 and 1867; A. J. Clemmans, in 1869 and 1871; Nich. Reitz, in 1873; A. J. Clemmans, in 1875 and 1877; William Julian, in 1879 and 1881.

County Clerks.--F. E. Henderson, in 1863, 1865 and 1867; John T. Taylor, in 1869 and 1871; Joseph Martin, in 1873, 1875 and 1877; Frank Huntoon, in 1879 and 1881.

Clerks of District Court.--J. T. Weaver, elected in 1861; S. B. Myrick, in 1864 and 1866; T. J. Hadley, in 1868; J. M. Hadley, in 1870, 1872 and 1874; A. H. Lott, in 1876, and at each successive election since.

Treasurers.--J. W. Sponable, elected in 1861 and 1863; Col. J. E. Hayes, in 1863; J. H. Blake, in 1867 and 1869; J. B. Bruner, in 1871 and 1873; H. A. Taylor, in 1875 and 1877; A. G. Carpenter, in 1879 and 1881.

County Attorneys.--A. S. Devinney elected in 1864; William Roy, in 1865; John T. Burris, in 1866; J. L. Wines, in 1868; Frank R. Ogg, in 1870 and 1872; J. W. Green, in 1874; J. P. Hindman, in 1876; John T. Durris, in 1878; John A. Rankin, in 1880.

County Surveyors.--R. Morgan, in 1861; I. C. Stuck, in 1863; M. J. Burke, in 1865; Frank L. Weaver, in 1867; I. C. Stuck, in 1869 and 1871; D. Hubbard, in 1873; J. P. Hindman, in 1875; A. G. Carpenter, in 1877; T. A. Parker, in 1879 and 1881.

Superintendents of Public Instruction.--L. F. Blodgett, elected in 1861; O. S. Laws, 1862; W. H. Smith, 1863; O. S. Laws, 1864; C. E. Lewis, 1866 and 1868; J. B. Pollock, 1870; B. S. McFarland, 1872; A. Rennick, 1874; Frank Murdock, 1876 and 1878; W. J. Hull in 1880.

Register of Deeds.--S. B. Myrick, elected in 1861; J. E. Clark, 1862 and 1863; I. S. Farrls, 1865-67-69 and 1871; A. H. Lott, 1873; E. L. Careas, 1875-77-79; R. E. Stevenson, 1881.

County Assessors.--T. T. Cadwallader, elected in 1861; W. B. Thorn, 1863; John T. Taylor, 1865; Wm. Williams, in 1867, after which time the office was discontinued.

At the organization of the county, the county seat was located where Shawnee now stands, which place was then known as Gum Springs. Early in the summer of 1858, parties interested in the town of Olathe had an election called on the county seat question. Olathe was successful in this election, which was held in May. But as under Territorial laws, such elections had to be ordered by the Governor, and as in this case the Governor had not heard of the desire of the citizens to change their county seat, the change itself was unwarranted because illegal. Governor Denver, upon hearing of it, ordered the officers back to Gum Springs, and accordingly, having held their last meeting at Olathe on the first of June, they returned to Gum Springs on the 6th. Thereupon, those desiring Olathe to be the county seat went to work and had an election for locating it there held some time in October in a legal manner. They were again successful, and the officers moved to Olathe about the 27th of the same month. In 1859 the jail was built by J. E. Hayes. It is a substantial stone building and cost the county $6,000. In 1859 Fred W. Case erected the building on the corner now used as part of the Court House, at a cost of $1,200; in January, 1865, the county bought the balance of the lot on which this corner building stood for $85, and during this latter year the new portion of the building was erected at a cost of $2,825, making a total cost of the Court House of $4,110.


Johnson County is crossed by five railroads: The Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf, entering the county near its northeastern corner, running in a general southwesterly direction and leaving the county near the middle of its southern boundary; The Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Kansas, using the line of the former road to Olathe then running southwesterly to Ottawa; The St. Louis, Lawrence & Dencer, entering the county at the northwest corner, running southeasterly through Olathe and to Pleasant Hill, Mo.; and the Kansas & Midland Railroad, running along the Kansas River through the northwest corner of the county; and the Kansas City & Olathe, running north from Olathe and connecting with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe at Waseca.

An election was held November 7, 1865, on the question of issuing $100,000 in bonds to the Kansas City & Neosho Valley Railroad. The people ardently desiring the advantages of railroad communications with the outside world, voted for the bonds with enthusiasm, 598 for, to 265 against them. This road is now the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf. It was commenced in the summer of 1867, completed to Olathe November 19, and to the south line of the county in 1869.

On the 6th of April, 1869, another election was held on the question of issuing $100,000 in aid of each of two railroads, the St. Louis & Denver, and the Kansas City & Santa Fe, now the Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Kansas. There had been held two previous elections on the same proposition, at both of which the bonds had been voted down, but at this election they carried by a vote of 1,301 for, to 627 against them more than two to one. The Kansas City & Santa Fe road was completed to Ottawa in 1870, and the St. Louis, Lawrence & Denver was built from Lawrence to Pleasant Hill in 1871.

In the year 1873 the county refused to pay interest on the first issue of the bonds, on the grounds of alleged illegality of their issue. A law suit was the consequence, which terminated in a compromise. There are now outstanding against the county $283,000 in bonds, $167,000 in five-twenty, six per cents, and $116,000 in seven per cent bonds, maturing in December 1899. The assessed value of all railroad property in the county is $750,000, the annual taxes upon which, at three per cent, amount to $22,500. The interest on the bonds amounts annually to $18,140; so that the taxes paid by the railroads each year exceed the interest on the bonds by about $4,000, which applied to the payment of the principal would in twenty years amount to $80,000. If we add this to the enhancement in the value of real estate and all kinds of farm products, resulting from the existence of railroads in the county, it would seem that the issuance of bonds was not altogether a bonus without equivalent as some parties have tried to make it appear. Immediately upon settling the terms of the compromise, a sinking fund was established for the purpose of retiring the bonded indebtedness of the county at as early a day as practicable, and it is more than probable that the last dollar of debt will be paid in good faith long before the maturity of the bonds. The opposition to the payment of the interest on the bonds was not sustained by the sober second thought of the people, and those who favored meeting the obligations of the county, have overwhelmingly triumphed in succeeding elections, as could only be the case in an intelligent and honorable community like that in Johnson County.


Gardner Grange No. 68, Patrons of Husbandry was instituted in 1873, and was the first grange in Johnson County. During the year, and the first few months of 1874, thirty-six granges in all were instituted, with an aggregate membership of 1,200. During the first three years of the existence of the granges, the objects aimed at were merely social and intellectual, but in 1876 the Johnson County Co-operative Association was instituted, with the view of entering the commercial field, and in July of that year, business was begun in Olathe with one store, which confined itself to the grocery line, and in which there was invested $800. From time to time the business was enlarged by the addition to it of dry goods, boots and shoes, hardware, agricultural implements and wholesale goods. In 1884, the capital invested had increased to $30,000, and the business of the year amounted to $250,000. This amount includes the business done at the central store at Olathe, and the two stores, one each at Stanley and Edgerton. In 1882, there was a branch store established at De Soto and one at Gardner.

Pomona Grange No. 118, P. of H. was established in 1878, with D. D. Marquis, master, and W. R. Walker, secretary. This grange is composed of delegates from the subordinate granges in the county, of which there are now twenty, instead of thirty-six, as at first, the membership remaining in the aggregate the same, namely 1,200.

The Johnson County Publishing Association was instituted in 1878, in which year the Olathe Leader, a weekly, four page paper, was established under their proprietorship, with S. E. Avers, editor. In June, 1881, it was enlarged to an eight page paper, its name changed to the Kansas Patron and Farmer, its editorial management placed in charge of R. E. G. Huntington, D. D., and the paper itself advanced from a mere county paper, to the official organ of the Kansas State Grange.

The Agricultural and Merchants Fair Association was organized in 1867, and the first county fair held October 1st, 2d and 3d of that year, but the business of the association being a losing one, its organization was discontinued.

Normal Institute.--In 1877, the Legislature passed laws providing for, and regulating normal institutes. These laws provided that the session of each institute shall not be less than four weeks, and that a competent conductor and instructors shall be employed. The first normal institute in Johnson County was held in Olathe, in the summer of 1877, since which time they have been held annually, and have been attended on an average by about one hundred teachers.

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