|KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS|
|PART 1:||Location, Topography, Etc. | Map and Population | Early History|
|PART 2:||County Organization | Mills and Press History | School and Other Statistics|
|PART 4:||Biographical Sketches|
LOCATION, TOPOGRAPHY, ETC.
Kingman County is twenty-four miles north and south, by thirty-six east and west. It contains twenty-four Congressional townships, and has a total of 552,960 acres or 864 square miles. Excepting 30,720 acres of school land, the residue is embraced in what is known as the Osage Reservation or trust lands. Of the 522,240 acres of land in the county, subject to pre-emption, 312,560 acres have been either deeded or filed upon, leaving 209,680 acres, exclusive of school lands, still vacant and subject to entry.
A line drawn through the center of the State from north to south, would pass through Kingman County, about six miles from its west line, so that the county may be said to be in the eastern half of the State. The south line of the county rests upon the sixth standard parallel, Kingman being in the second tier of counties north of the south line of the State.
For municipal purposes, the county is divided into twelve civil townships, and three commissioner districts. The county is bounded on the north by Reno County, on the south by Harper and a small portion of Barber, on the east by portions of Sedgwick and Sumner, and on the west by Pratt and the northern portion of Barber. The county is located about midway between the east and west boundary lines of the State.
The surface of the county is mostly high rolling prairie, but in the vicinity of the Ninnescah it is somewhat broken, but not to such an extent as to be termed bluffy. Leaving the valley of the stream, the ascent of the surface is considerable, but once the top is reached it stretches away in undulating prairie, with now and then a sand hill, or knoll, showing itself in the distance. Along the streams are strips of beautiful valley, or bottom land, but not a solitary tree can be seen to mark their course. The Ninnescah valley will average about a mile in width throughout the county, and although totally void of timber, is quite picturesque. Along the other streams in the county, the valleys are not continuous, but at invervals sic, very fine tracts of bottom land are to be found.
The county is very well watered, the Ninnescah being the most important stream, the Chikaskia being next. The Ninnescah is a very beautiful stream, and being fed altogether from springs, its water is pure and clear. It is about 160 miles in length, and flows through the entire length of Kingman County from west to east, receiving on its way the waters of Smoot Creek, a very fine little stream that rises at the center of the north line of the county, and runs in a southerly direction until it enters the Ninnescah at the east line of the county. Sand Creek or Big Sandy, is a small stream in the southwestern portion of the county, about twelve miles long that empties into the Chikaskia, the latter being quite an important stream that flows eastward along the southern boundary line of the county. Besides these are several lesser streams that do not appear upon any of the maps. The Ninnescah is always a living stream, and although very shallow, preserves through all seasons of the year, either wet or dry, about a uniform flow of water, seldom or never overflowing its banks, and never falling below a certain volume. Good well water is found in all portions of the county, but in the uplands it is only obtainable by sinking wells from fifty to eighty feet in depth, but when found it is pure and clear and never failing in supply.
The soil of Kingman County is a mulatto colored loam and quite porous. It is considerably mixed with sand and is easy of cultivation. It is sub-soiled in most places by a kind of red sandstone, which is excellent for building purposes, and which in some places, especially in the vicinity of the Ninnescah, crops out from the surface. The soil, particularly along the streams, is very productive, and even the upland has proved to be excellently adapted to agricultural pursuits, although not so reliable as the land in the valleys. Excellent crops, however, have been raised on some of the upland farms, and with a moderate rainfall good crops are assured. Small grain of all kinds can almost invariably be successfully raised, but corn is not so certain; but in seasons when rain falls at the proper time, large crops of corn are produced. Although a very good agricultural county it has certain advantages which place it in the front rank for stock-raising. It has an abundance of excellent water, and its wide stretches of buffalo grass afford good pasture. Cattle, however, are not confined to buffalo grass alone, as "blue stem" has supplanted it to a considerable extent. There are also many fine stretches of meadow land in the county, from which a plentiful supply of good hay can be cut for winter use. This dual character which pertains to the soil makes Kingman a very desirable county for that class of men who wish to engage in both farming and stock-raising.
POPULATION (FEDERAL CENSUS).
The first actual settler in Kingman County was Martin Updegraff, who located on the Chikaskia, about twenty miles southeast of the present town of Kingman, on Section 36, Town 29, Range 10, west of the sixth principal meridian. Mr. Updegraff made settlement in February, 1873, and was followed a few months later by J. K. and S. F. Fical and Charles Barr, and some two or three others.
In the spring of 1874, a few settlers came in, among whom were W. H. Childs, H. L. Ball, A. D. Culver, H. S. Bush and W. P. Brown, all of whom located in Kingman and took claims adjacent to towns. That spring also, W. H. Mosher located upon a claim in the northern portion of the county, at the head of Smoot Creek. In the course of the year, several others came in who located chiefly in the central portion of the county along the Ninnescah. That year an Indian scare occurred, and, in order to repel the anticipated attack, Mr. Fical was commissioned as Captain and W. H. Childs as Lieutenant, with authority to organize a militia company, but when the commissions arrived there were no men to be found, as nearly all the settlers had fled the county. It proved only to be a scare, however, as the Indians did not come as far east as Kingman County, and the settlers who had fled soon returned.
The years 1875 and 1876 were not remarkable for the arrival of many new settlers coming into the county, but in 1877, the immigration was quite large. But little, if any, settlement had been made in the eastern part of the county prior to that year; what few there were being confined to an isolated settler here and there, north of the Ninnescah. The year 1877 was not a month old, however, when Samuel Davidson, E. S. Allen, R. T. Nolan, John Jackson, C. M. Tack, H. H. Goldsborough and William Green all settled in the eastern part of the county, followed immediately after by large numbers of others. The new settlers, however, did not confine themselves to that particular locality of the county, as a great many took claims in the central portion, and quite a number located in the northern part in the vicinity of Smoot Creek.
The spring of 1877 was made memorable by the heavy rains that set in on May 11, and which continued, almost without cessation, until the 11th day of June. These rains swelled the streams to such an extent as to render them impassable, and, as there were no bridges across the Ninnescah east of Kingman, the settlers in the eastern portion of the county were cut off from their trading point, Wichita, and, in consequence thereof, were brought to almost the last extremity for provisions. For several days, parched corn furnished about the only food many of them had to subsist upon, and when the waters sufficiently subsided to render the streams fordable, but few of them had provisions to last for twelve hours. So rapidly did the eastern portion of the county settle up, that in 1878 a town was started, to which was given the name of Akron. The town site was located on Section 28, Town 28, Range 5. The starting of this town was a preliminary step toward making an attempt to secure the county seat, for, that very same year, a petition was presented to the County Commissioner, asking that the question of re-locating the county-seat be submitted to a vote of the people; but the board refused to grant the prayer of the petitioners, and the town of Akron was abandoned.
When Kingman County first began to be settled, buffalo and antelope roamed over its prairies in countless herds, and for several years after, the settlers found rare sport in hunting the king of the plains, by which their tables were plentifully supplied with meat. The last buffalo killed in the county was in 1877, by Orange Culver. In 1878 and spring of 1879, the population of the county increased rapidly, and a large immigration was distributed over the county. The two following years more people left the county than came into it, owing to the unpropitious seasons, and shortness of crops.
A circumstance occurred in 1880, which created considerable excitement, and which is still enshrouded in mystery, and is now in court for solution. The current account of the affair is, that in 1880, M. S. Sprowls, who, at the time, was County Attorney, Milton Karr and R. G. McLain had entered into a partnership for the negotiation of loans. The system they pursued led them to be arrested at the instance of J. B. Watkins & Co., of Lawrence, who advanced the money on the loans negotiated. Sprowls & Karr gave bonds for their appearance, and McLain was lodged in jail, from which he made his escape, but was afterward re-arrested and placed in jail at Wichita, but from that he also escaped. Before court convened, Sprowls mysteriously disappeared and the supposition was, and is, that he was killed. Karr lived in Kingman, and had a brother who lived about sixteen miles from there in the country. Sprowls' relatives, who reside in Pennsylvania, in December, 1882, sent out one of Pinkerton's detectives, to solve, if possible, the mystery surrounding Sprowls' death or disappearance. The detective was in the county about a month, when he succeeded in finding a coat, about a mile south of Karr's house, that had belonged to Sprowls. In the back of the coat was two holes supposed to be bullet holes. This fact, and the further one, that Sprowls was last seen at Karr's house, let to the arrest of the latter, who, at his preliminary examination, was required to give bond for his appearance at the District Court, where the matter is now awaiting disposition.
In 1882, immigration into the county was very large, and a great many new farms were opened. The first child born in Kingman County was born to Mr. and Mrs. J. K. Fical, in 1873, a girl, to whom was given the name of Ninnescah, in honor of the stream on which Kingman is situated. The first person to attempt farming in the county was Charles Barr, by whom the first prairie in the county was broken in 1873.
The first marriage in the county took place at the house of A. D. Culver, in Kingman, on November 2, 1875, the contracting parties being Jesse McCarty, and Miss Cecilia Capitola Scribner, the ceremony having been performed by W. H. Mosher, a Justice of the Peace; and from that time until April 3, 1883, just 100 marriage licenses had been issued from the office of the Probate Judge of the county.