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


[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]


The county was organized on February 27, 1874. The methods by which it was accomplished are not recorded, but it is a well-known fact that when the organization took place there were not twenty bona fide settlers in the county. Gov. Thomas A. Osborn appointed J. Harmony county Clerk, J. K. Fical, J. M. Jordan and G. W. Lacy as County Commissioners to fill those offices temporarily, and designated Kingman as the temporary county seat. The officers met at Kingman March 5, 1874, for the purpose of organizing a board of permanent County Commissioners; the temporary board was declared permanent; but as J. K. Fical withdrew, W. C. Frink was appointed in his place. On petition from the citizens, the board called a special election, to be held at Kingman, April 7, 1874, to vote on the question of issuing county bonds to the amount of $70,000, for the following purposes, to wit:--$25,000 for a court house, $10,000 for bridges and $35,000 for general expenses, said bonds to be payable ten years from date of issue, bearing interest at the rate of ten per cent per annum, payable semi-annually. It was then ordered that the county and township officers should be voted for at the same election. At this election the following officers were declared elected: H. L. Ball, J. K. Fical, G. W. Lacy, Commissioners; J. Harmony, Clerk; F. S. Fical, Sheriff; J. M. Jordan, Treasurer; W. P. Brown, County Attorney; George Pitts, Probate Judge; G. A. Whicher, County Superintendent; W. J. Harmony, Register of Deeds; W. P. Brown, Coroner; R. R. Wilson, Surveyor; G. A. Whicher, District Clerk. The county seat was located at Kingman and the issue of the $70,000 in bonds authorized. These bonds were printed, but were cancelled the next spring and destroyed. What the vote of the county was at the first election is not shown by the records, but it must have been very light, as the actual settlers in the county were very few.

In 1881, the settlers in the central portion of the county thought they were sufficiently numerous, with the assistance they could receive from the southern and eastern portions of the county, to have the county seat removed from Kingman to a more central point, and with this object in view, a petition was presented to the Board of Commissioners, on October 4, 1881, asking that the question of relocating the county seat be submitted to a vote of the people. The prayer of the petitioners was granted, and an election was ordered to be held on November 7, 1881. The competitive points were Kingman and a point about seven miles southeast from there, to which had been given the name of Dale City. The result of the election was that Kingman was declared the choice of the people by a majority of eighty-five votes.


There are only two mills in the county, both located on the Ninnescah, and both flouring mills. Both may be said to be located in the town of Kingman, as one is situated but a few rods west of the town limits and the other about a mile east. The one west of town stands on the north bank of the river, and the one to the east, on the south bank. The former was built by Starling Turner, in 1879, and commenced running in January, 1880. It is a water-power mill, the power being obtained by cutting a race two miles and one hundred and eighty yards long, parallel with the river. By this means, a fall of fifteen feet is obtained, which furnishes excellent power. The mill is three stories high with a basement, has four run of buhrs and a capacity of fifty barrels of flour per each day of twenty-four hours. The estimated value of the mill is $20,000.

The other mill was built by William S. Grosvenor; was commenced in 1882 and completed early in 1883. Its power is also obtained by means of a race about two miles in length, cut along the south bank of the Ninnescah, by which a twelve-feet fall is obtained. This mill is three stories high, with a basement, and is fitted up with the latest improved machinery. It has seven rollers and three run of stone, and has a capacity of one hundred barrels of flour each twenty-four hours. The estimated value of this mill is $35,000.

There are few, if any, streams in the State that have better power or that possess more mill privileges than the Ninnescah. The natural fall in the stream is seven feet to the mile, and as the flow remains about the same at all seasons of the year, power sufficient could be obtained to turn the machinery of all the mills that could be built at intervals of three miles along the entire length of the Ninnescah through Kingman County. The two mills spread in operation in the county furnish a very fair example of the advantages the Ninnescah offers for mill sites. These mills are only about two miles apart, and both operated by water conducted through a race, one race being cut on the north side of the stream and the other on the south. For the purpose of cutting the second race, a water-power company was organized in 1881, composed of F. E. Gillett, W. D. Sugars, C. R. Cook, J. H. Brass, Joseph Roberts and Charles Richman. This company had the right of way for a mill race condemned, but that was about all it did towards cutting a race or erecting a mill. A new company was formed, consisting of Messrs. Babcock, Craycraft, Gillett, Sugars and Grosvenor, who purchased the franchise from the old company. Babcock, Craycraft and Grosvenor then organized themselves into a milling company, and commenced the digging of a race, which they about half completed, when the company dissolved, after which Mr. Grosvenor completed the race himself and erected one of the finest mills in Western Kansas.

The Mercury was the first newspaper published in Kingman county. It was established by J. C. Martin, the first issue bearing date June 14, 1878. The paper was small, being a five-column folio, and was published by Mr. Martin until August 19, 1880, when he sold the office and material to A. E. Saxey, who changed the name of the paper to the Kingman Blade. The Blade had but a short existence, covering only a period of a little over three months, it having ceased to exist December 9, 1880, Mr. Saxey selling the subscription list and good will of the office to the editor of the Citizen, and moving the press and material out of the county.

The Citizen was established at Kingman, September 13, 1879, by P. J. Conklin, as sole editor and proprietor, by whom the paper was published until March, 1881, when he sold the office and material to George E. Filley, who has continued to publish the paper since that time, and who still continues to publish it as sole editor and proprietor. The Citizen is a six-column, eight-page paper, Republican in politics, and has a circulation of 850.

The Republican was established at Cleveland, in Kingman County, in July, 1881, by Conklin & Childs, and appeared first as the Cleveland Star. November 1, 1881, Conklin & Childs sold to Raymond & Myers who continued to publish it at Cleveland until February 1, 1882, when they moved it to Kingman and changed its name to the Republican. In July, 1882, Raymond & Myers sold the paper to E. H. Farnsworth, the present editor and proprietor. The Republican is a seven-column, four page paper, Republican in politics, and has a circulation of about 450.


There were in 1882, in Kingman County, thirty-seven organized school districts, but since the close of the school year which ended July 31, 1882, several new districts have been organized. There are in the county thirty-eight schoolhouses, of which thirty-two are frame, five sod, and one stone. The first schoolhouse built in the county, was a small frame building in Kingman that was erected in 1874, of which the first teacher was Miss Ada Crane. The school commenced with an attendance of five pupils. In 1882 the school population of the county, between the ages of five and twenty-one years, was 926, of which 496 were males and 430 female. The enrollment in the public schools was 772, of which 408 were males and 364 females, and the average daily attendance was 548. The number of teachers employed in 1882, was 35, being thirteen males and twenty-two females, and the avarage sic salary paid to the former was, per month, $25.06, and to the latter, $21.15. The number of districts that sustained public school for three months, or over, during the year, was twenty-four, and the number failing to sustain school for three months was thirteen. The average assessed valuation of each school district in the county was $17,643, and the school bonded indebtedness of $9,365, and the estimated value of school property was $25,000. There were twenty-four certificates granted during the year to persons to teach, of which one was of the first grade, seventeen of the second, and six of the third. The balance in the hands of the District Treasurer, August 1, 1881, was $296.59, the amount received from district taxes, was $1975.68, from State and county funds, $429.59, from sale of school bonds, $3,230, from all other sources, $2,452.35, making a total of $8,384.21. The total expenditures during the same period for all school purposes, was $7,292.17, leaving a balance in the hands of the District Treasurer on July 31, 1882, of $1,089.04.

In 1879, the number of acres in the county, included in farms, was 75,882. Of this number, 20,868 acres were sown to field crops, of which 5,557 were sown to wheat, and 10,918 to corn, leaving only 4,393 acres for all other kinds of crops. The acreage included in farms in 1880 was not quite so large as in 1879, being only 75,161 acres, or 721 less than the preceding year. While the total acreage in farms was less, that of field crops was greater by 11,462 acres. This increase in crop acreage about corresponds with the increased acreage of wheat and corn, the former being 10,722 acres, and the latter, 15,392, or a total of 26,116, leaving 6,215 acres for all other crops. In 1881, the number of acres included in farms, was 98,935, an increase over the preceding year of 23,774 acres, the increase in field crops being 14,651 acres. The wheat acreage that year, was 12,569 acres, and that of corn, 18,180, or a total of 30,749, so that there was left for other field crops, 16,232 acres. The number of acres included in farms in 1882, had grown to 112,627, being an increase over 1881 of 13,692, or 10,082 less than the increase of 1881. The decrease in the wheat acreage that year compared with 1881, was 3,272 acres while the corn increase was 3,180 acres. Of the portion left for other field crops, embracing 11,629 acres, 8,000 acres of it was devoted to meadows and the cultivation of tame grasses. These figures show a gain in the number of acres included in farms, during a period of three years, or 36,745, or an average each year of a little over 12,000 acres.

The following table will show the increase that has taken place in the live stock of the county, from 1879 to 1882, with two or three other products:

YearHorsesMules & AssesMilch CowsOther CattleSheepSwineSold for SlaughterWool Clip, lbs.Butter Product, lbs.Eggs and Poultry

The above table shows a wonderful advancement in material wealth in the course of three years.

There are many other evidences in the county of advancement in material wealth that are not shown in the statistical records. The primitive sod houses and "dug outs" are rapidly disappearing and good comfortable frame houses taking their place. The records are also silent as to the high state of improvement that many of the farms throughout the county have reached, all of which adds to the material wealth. The herd law having been in force in the county since its organization, but very little money has been expended in fencing, there being, all told, but 15,183 rods of fence in the county, of which 828 rods are board, twenty stone, 6,345 hedge, and 7,990 wire. Artificial forests embrace nearly 1,000 acres, while the fruit trees in bearing are limited to twenty-four apple, 8,050 peach, thirty-two plum, and fifty-four cherry. The number of fruit trees not in bearing are: Apple, 7,359, pear, 209, peach, 73,230, plum, 1,975, and cherry 2,911. These figures are taken from the statistical record of the county for 1882. Agricultural implements in the county for the same year were valued at $16,068.

The settlement of the county began in 1873, but for some years immigration was rather slow, and the county made but little progress toward increasing its population. Settlers did not come into the county to any great number until 1877, but during that and the year following, new comers began to locate in different portions of the county. The census of 1879 shows that in that year there were in the county 544 families, and a total population of 2,599. By 1880, the families had increased to 727, and the population to 3,125. The unpropitious seasons of 1879 and 1880, caused a good many to leave the county, and in 1881 the number of families in the county had dropped from 727 to 601, and the total population from 3,125 to 2,757. In 1882, the population took an upward turn, and the Assessor's returns of the spring of that year shows the population to have been 2,864, a gain of 107 over that of the preceding year. During the fall of 1882, and the spring of 1883, a very large accession was made to the population, and the Assessor's returns, so far as completed, indicate the population of the county in the spring of 1883 to have been between 4,000 and 5,000.

The assessed valuation of all taxable property in 1882 was $617,529.30, and the bonded indebtedness of the county was $31,400.

[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]