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


[TOC] [part 13] [part 11] [Cutler's History]


During the early part of 1855, a small building was erected near the Levee, for a tin shop. In May, it was purchased for educational and religious purposes. Rev. J. B. McAfee, the Lutheran minister, moved the building to the southeast corner of Shawnee and Fifth streets, upon a lot then owned by George Russell, the tin and hardware dealer. This little building gave place to a two-story frame structure, erected for the church, but was afterward purchased by the city for school purposes. This was the first public school. In March, 1859, H. D. McCarty, who, for over a year, had been teaching a private institution, assumed charge of what was known as the Second District School, and was afterward elected City Superintendent.

The first Board of Trustees for common schools met on the 3d of July, 1858, and consisted of S. A. Marshall and Jared Phillips, from the First Ward, and Levi Houston and Nelson McCracken, form the Second. The last-named was chosen president. The board rented N. Z. Strong's house for ten weeks, and hired as a teacher, for the same length of time, George Wetherill. Soon afterward, Miss J. Howard was employed. In August, more school accommodations were required, and J. Robertson was induced to teach in his own house by $55 per month and $16 rent. In October the city was districted as follows: From Seneca street to the Government Reserve was the First District; from Seneca to Three-Mile Creek, the Second; all south of Three-Mile Creek, the Third. The building for the First District was the Christian Church, between Osage and Pottawatomie streets. Mr. Robertson's house, in South Leavenworth, was the Third District building, while a room formerly used as the Register's office, corner of Third and Delaware, was rented for the Second District.

In November the following text books were adopted for use in the city schools: Sander's series of Readers and Spellers; Webster's Dictionary; Cornell's Geography; Colton's Outline Maps; Ray's Arithmetic; Weld's Grammar; Wilson's United States History.

During the winter, a bill was passed in the Legislature creating the Board of Trustees into a body independent of the City Council, and providing for a regular City Superintendent of Schools. At this time the attendance of the three public schools was about 500. A graded system, proposed by the new Superintendent, H. D. McCarty, was adopted. Both city and county schools, however, were in a very disorganized condition, up to the time of the adoption of the State system in 1861. Mr. McCarty served his country in the war for three years, and then returned to Leavenworth to devote his time to education, notwithstanding the unpromising and unsettled condition of society.

In 1862, while Judge D. J. Brewer, County Superintendent, had charge of the city schools, the act authorizing the expenditure of $25,000 for the erection of school buildings in Leavenworth, received the signature of Gov. Thomas Carney. In pursuance of this act, the first regular public school building was erected - the Osage Street School. It cost $12,000, and is situated on Osage street, between Sixth and Seventh.

In July, 1868, M. McVicar became City Superintendent. He was formerly the Principal of the Brockport State Normal School, N. Y., and an experienced educator. His coming was the signal for a new departure in Leavenworth's system of public education. Heretofore the schools had been small, and somewhat loosely conducted. The year before, the first city school building for colored pupils had been completed in South Leavenworth, corner of Fourth avenue and Prospect street. Colored schools had been temporarily established as early as 1863, in the Christian and Baptist churches, but the brick building erected in 1867 was the first permanent structure built by the city. In 1868-'69, the colored people of North Leavenworth were accommodated by the erection of a second building, corner Cheyenne and Fifth streets. As was stated above, the coming of Superintendent McVicar was the commencement of a new educational era here. The board had been thoroughly reorganized, the magnificent three-story brick structure, corner of Fifth and Dakota, called the "Morris School," was in progress of erection, and every thing seemed ready to be shaped into a regular system. Mr. McVicar commenced a systematic course of grading in September, 1868, and though the opposition to him was of so unpleasant a character that he resigned in March, 1869, the credit of laying the foundation of the present admirable system is accorded to him. Mr. McVicar resigned to take charge of the Potsdam State Normal School, New York.

The Morris school building was completed during the early part of 1869, at which time P. J. Williams succeeded Mr. McVicar in the superintendency. It was during his incumbency, in 1871, that the State Normal School was established here, with himself as principal; J. Wherrell, professor of physical science, and Miss L. T. Allen, preceptress. Appropriations were received from the State, for four years, amounting to $26,900. In 1875, they were discontinued, and the Normal School died of starvation. Since 1872, the city had felt a growing need for a high-school building. For some time its sessions had been held in the Morris School building, but in 1875 the fine brick structure, corner of Walnut and Seventh streets, was completed, at a cost of $30,000. Since then this has been known as the High School Building. Prof. P. J. Williams held the office of City Superintendent about six years, and was succeeded by Prof. F. A. Fitzpatrick, the present incumbent, has held the position three years. Besides the High School, the Morris School, the Osage Street School, and the North and South Leavenworth (Colored) Schools, there is the Shawnee Street School building (wood) and the Third Avenue School (brick), the latter being built in 1862, at a cost of $18,000, and greatly improved in 1865. During Prof. Fitzpatrick's administration, the change in grading schools, which was made all over the country, was adapted in Leavenworth. The system is now divided into the High School, Grammar and Primary departments. The Grammar Department is divided into three grades, and the Primary into four. During the eleven years that the High School has been in existence, about 1,200 pupils have been enrolled. Of the 6,796 children of school age in the city, 3,158 are enrolled in the public schools, and 856 in private institutions - a total of 3,914, a little over 50 per cent. The value of school buildings, sites, furniture, etc., is $177,000. The educational system and the public school buildings of 1882, as contrasted with the condition of affairs in 1858, is but another index of Leavenworth's growth.

Present members of the School Board (July, 1882); Dr. J. L. Wever, president; S. F. Burdett, vice-president, First Ward: John Westlake, J. W. Park, D. M. Swan; Second Ward: John Wilson, A. B. Havens, J. L. Hunting; Third Ward: Charles Peaper, S. F. Burdett, R. A. Ketner; Fourth Ward: O. B. Taylor, J. L. Wever, L. Mayo. W. G. Bollman is clerk of the board.

German-English School Society - organized in 1859. First officers; G. F. Smeltzer, president; Henry Welburg, secretary; Joseph Gehrminn, Teacher. Organized for the purpose of imparting instruction in the German and English branches of education. Present officers: F. Noll, president; H. Jansen, secretary; Charles Ackenhausen, treasurer; John Dotter, principal; Miss Laura McCain, English teacher. School on the south side of Seneca street, between Fifth and Sixth.

Kansas Conservatory of Music and Collegiate School, located at No. 206 Fifth avenue, Leavenworth. The course embraces a three years' course in music and art. Organized in 1877, under the auspices of Rev. Robert Brown, Director, with the following officers: A. A. Fenn, president; Miss M. J. Douglass, secretary and treasurer; a Board of eleven trustees. The Board of Visitation is composed of A. B. Havens, president; W. W. Bollman, secretary, and the members of the School Board of the City. The annual list of graduates from the Conservatory is quite large. The terms of tuition are moderate.


Leavenworth City and Fort Leavenworth Water Company - Chartered March 16, 1881. In January, 1882, the company received the contract from the city for building the reservoirs, putting in necessary machinery and laying twelve miles of pipe. The Water Works of Leavenworth are being constructed on the gravitation system. The pumps and the settling reservoir are situated just north of the city, near the river, while the distributing and reservoir is located on the high land of "Pilot Knob," two miles in an opposite direction. After being pumped and thoroughly settled the water is carried to the distributing point, situated 350 feet above the low-water mark of the Missouri River, of 190 feet above the highest point within the city. The beauty of the system is that, should either one of the reservoirs be disabled, the water supply would not be shut off. In March, 1882, work upon the reservoirs and machinery was commenced and completed in October. The capacity of the distributing reservoir is 5,500,000 gallons, and the settling reservoir 6,000,000 gallons. The machinery consisting of two engines and two pumps, was made by the Great Western Manufacturing Company of Leavenworth, at a cost of $24,000. The twelve miles of pipe, called for by the contract, will be laid by the middle of October - the entire system to be carried out requiring nineteen miles, as it is proposed to bring the supply to the State Penitentiary and Fort Leavenworth. The work contracted for this year will amount to $250,000, and the sum to be expended in completing the system, $300,000. The principal mains, north and south will run down Second and Fifth streets and Broadway; those running ease and west, down Kiowa, Pottawatomie, Shawnee, Delaware, Walnut and Arch. The works are now complete and in excellent working order.

Present officers of the company: L. T. Smith, president; H. D. Rush, vice-president; D. M. Swan, secretary; M. H. Insley, treasurer; G. W. Pearsons, chief engineer; T. A. Hurd, attorney.

Leavenworth Gas Light Company. - In the spring and summer of 1859 Gas Works and mains were constructed, under the supervision of John B. Adolf. A brick building, two stories in height, 50 x 30 feet, was erected and all the necessary machinery put in position capable of generating 50,000 cubic feet of gas in twenty-four hours. Messrs. Henry Foote, A. Whitney, Edward R. Eaton and henry Hart were most instrumental in the inauguration of the enterprise. The present works are located corner of Main and Short streets. Various managements have controlled them, the company now comprising David Henning, president, and E. Henning, secretary and treasurer, both being residents of Chicago. John Gimper of Leavenworth, is superintendent of the works. About nine miles of mains have been laid. Capital stock of the company $100,000.

In December, 1880, the telephone was introduced into the city by the formation of a stock company, called the "Leavenworth Telephone Exchange Company." Present officers: M. H. Insley, president and treasurer; D. M. Swan, vice-president; J. K. Urmston, general manager and secretary. By July, 1882, about 250 instruments had been set up, and 125 miles of wire were in operation. Since May, 1871, Leavenworth has been a signal service station, George Boehmer then being placed in charge. A. W. Browne is at present the officer stationed here.

Leavenworth Fire Department. - The first fire company in the city was organized under permission of a charter granted to the City Council by the Territorial Legislature in the fall of 1855, and in October of the same year, Miles Shannon was chosen as the first captain or chief. He served two terms and afterward removed to Denver. He was succeeded by James McDowell, who at a later day served acceptably as mayor of the city. Then came in as chief, for a few months, Henry Deckleman, the father of the Turner's Society of the city. Next followed Me. Martin Smith, who has served the city as fire marshal for eight years and six months, and is now acting as agent of nearly half a score of first-class insurance companies in Leavenworth. Since Mr. Smith retired the place of chief engineer has been filled by the following named persons: J. H. Murphy, H. C. Haase, Patrick McGraw, Thomas Deal, Eugene Chapin, John W. Wheeler, Patrick Burns (present incumbent). Headquarters of the fire department, northeast corner of Shawnee and Fifth streets, with the following list of officers: Patrick Burns, marshal and engineer of steamers; W. Rose, assistant engineer; P. H. Kenneday, pipeman; R. Bergman, driver of hose cart; W. Luce, driver of engine; John Foran, fireman; L. Schindlling, watchmen. For the past ten years or more the system of a paid department has worked admirably and tot he satisfaction of the people, but with the introduction of water works will come a change, and the steamer system will be dispensed with as in other cities. At the present time the department has in use two engines, a Slisbee and Ahrens, the combined cost of the two, $9,200. Also twenty-five hundred feet of serviceable hose.

Police Department. - Headquarters on Fifth street, between Shawnee and Delaware. The force is constituted as follows: S. S. Ellis, chief; Mike Deveron, deputy; John Jenkins, jailor; Barney Cunningham, August Niebauer, E. C. Murphy, Henry Sheppard, Ed. Reilley, Charles Flagg. J. S. Robeson, William Powell, John Schott; specials, D. S. Johnson and J. G. Losee. Since the organization of Leavenworth as a city, the following named persons have served as heads of the police department: John Roundtree, John Shockley, John Kendall, John Schott, Joseph Michael, John McKee, Hiram Robinson, D. A. Hook, Col. Thos. Moonlight, James Jennings, Isaac Losee, Charles H. Miller, Milt. Orr and S. S. Ellis, the present incumbent.

Post Office. - The postoffice at Leavenworth is well managed under the present official who has it in charge, Col. D. R. Anthony. He was appointed to the position in April, 1874, and at present (July 27, 1882) still retains it. Previous to 1874 the incumbents have been Lewis N. Rees, Mr. Schroeder, Col. Authony (sic), James L. McDowell, Mrs. Col. H. P. Johnson and Jeremiah Clark. As previously stated the Leavenworth postoffice was first opened Mar 6, 1855.


The promptness and thoroughness with which roads are opened through this new country determine in a great measure its rapidity of development. Leavenworth was especially fortunate in this regard, having almost from the start free and sufficient means of communication with the surrounding country over military roads which had been built by the government from the fort. It may be that in some respects the city might justly be called an "Interloper."

J. Butler Chapman, the founder of Whitfield City," situated a mile and a half north-west of Topeka, and the proposed metropolis of Kansas, has this to say (in 1855) of the roads leading from Fort Leavenworth, an from that "Interloping town," the city of Leavenworth; "The next most notable place of access to the Territory is Fort Leavenworth - the United States military post, a place of ancient memory. There is now an interloping town, on the banks of the Missouri River named 'Leavenworth City.' From Fort Leavenworth, the California and Independence emigrant road, at 'Winfield City' and the junction of the Parkersville road, at the same place. The other road from Fort Leavenworth is known as the Oregon and California military road, which connects with the Oregon and St. Joseph emigrant road, about 110 miles from St. Joseph, on the Missouri river; from the junction the two run together and cross the Big Blue river at Marysville and unite with the Independence and California road at Ten Mile creek. Four or five miles above Fort Leavenworth is the great crossing of the river, at a steam ferry, from the town of Weston, Mo., to the Salt Creek road, which connects with the military road, three miles from Fort Leavenworth. We make Fort Leavenworth a station and meridian from whence to compute distance. Leavenworth City, three miles below the fort, never can be commercial point, or a depot for the Territory, nor can we see how it can be a point conspicuous for any purpose whatever."

During the session of the Legislature in 1855 the Leavenworth Ferry Company was incorporated by Thomas C. Shoemaker, Jarrett Todd, Samuel D. Pitcher and their associates. Their right ran for twenty years from the time of the passage of the act. The ferry was authorized to land at most any place on the Missouri side, and within the city limits of Leavenworth on the Kansas side. The craft therefore plied up and down the river two miles, crossing to the island, an in the day of it was valued means of communication with the East.

By 1857 the river trade had become no mean item in Leavenworth's commercial prosperity. J. W. Skinner was the general steamboat agent, and furnished the following items for the season of 1856: The number of boats running was forty-one. They made 328 trips, and $58,000 was paid to Mr. Skinner for freights. In addition to the regular traders and transient boats, a tri-weekly line of packets was established during the season from Jefferson City, connecting with the Pacific railroad to Weston, and touching Leavenworth. In January, 1857, the Leavenworth, Pawnee & Western railroad was organized, an the citizens of Platte County, Mo., resolved to construct a road from a point opposite Leavenworth, through Platte County, and intersect the Hannibal & St. Joe Line. As stated, however, in a historical sketch of Leavenworth, published by A. G. Hawes, in 1857; "The incipient roads terminating at this point have less immediate interest to the traveler or emigrant than the common roads which diverge hence, and the facilities for conveyance that are employed. In addition to the Government roads which concentre here, private enterprise has opened highways to all towns of importance not reached by these great thoroughfares. One of these leads to Lawrence, the second town in the Territory in point of size, and whose thrift and rapid improvement is remarked by every visitor; a road to Lecompton, the capital of the Territory, and a growing city, has also been constructed; which roads, with their connections, afford a direct and excellent medium of communication with Tecumseh, the county seat of Jefferson County, and Topeka, both of which are flourishing and progressive towns; also with Osawatomie, Neosho, and all the country south of the Kansas River. Besides these we have roads up and down the Missouri River, connecting this point with Doniphan, Atchison, Kickapoo, Delaware, Wyandotte and other points. It is fair to say that no point in the West is more amply supplied with roads and means of communication than is the two-year-old city of Leavenworth. Subjoined is a statement of the various stage routes leading from this point, together with distances, proprietors, etc.

Leavenworth and Westport, Mo. - A tri-weekly line of hacks, Kimball, Moore & Co., proprietors; distance, thirty-two miles.

Leavenworth and Lawrence. - Two tri-weekly lines of hacks, alternated days; H. Sutherland and H. G. Weibling, proprietors; mail tri-weekly; distance, thirty miles.

Leavenworth and Weston. - Daily mail coaches; Kimball, Moore & Co., proprietors; distance, eight miles.

Leavenworth and Lecompton. - Daily coaches; mail tri-weekly; - Cass, Proprietor; distance, thirty-five miles.

Leavenworth and Fort Riley. - Weekly mail and line of hacks, passing through Salt Creek, Easton, Hardtville, Ozawkie, Indianola, Silver Lake, Louisville, Manhattan, and Ogden; Fred. Emery, proprietor.

Leavenworth and Atchison (via Kickapoo). - Weekly mail and line of hacks; distance twenty-one miles. There are two express lines running regularly to this point from St. Louis, both of which are well known for their responsibility and promptness. Each of these companies has an office in Leavenworth, the agent for Adams & Co. being J. W. Skinner, and for Richardson's Missouri River Express, Rees & Keith. The latter company run a line of express wagons to Jefferson City, there connecting with the Pacific railroad, at times when the navigation of the river is closed."

In January, 1859, the telegraph was extended from St. Louis to Leavenworth, and during the coming spring Jones, Russell & Co. started their Pike's Peak express from the city, carrying daily mails to that point and Salt Lake City. The gold excitement was at fever heat, and Leavenworth reaped a temporary benefit. On May 21, 1859, a number of coaches arrived from the gold region, and brought $5,000 in precious dust to several Leavenworth parties. The citizens made the occasion one of great rejoicing, had a big procession, threw out all their banners as a tribute to the Pike's Peak Express Company, indulged in a ball during the evening, and otherwise conducted themselves in a manner which evinced their appreciation of the importance of Jones, Russell & Co's step in making their city the eastern terminus of the great stage line.

By the year 1860 the Atchison & St. Joseph road was completed, connecting with the Hannibal & St. Joe line - the connection for which Leavenworth had striven three years previously. In 1861 however, the line was carried to Weston, near Fort Leavenworth, where the war stopped it. In 1863 the Kansas Pacific line was commenced at Wyandotte. The next year Samuel Hallett, the contractor, was assassinated. The work passed into the hands of St. Louis capitalists, who, within the next two years put the line through to Denver. Leavenworth became one of the termini, connections with the main line being made at Lawrence. It is not necessary to trace at length the history of the different roads which give Leavenworth so complete a communication with the country to-day. For such information the reader is referred to the general history. Suffice it to say that upon the building of the Kansas Pacific a new day dawned upon the city. Although she has had to pass through the usual complication with railroad companies, she has at last obtained a good system, and one which is growing. The Missouri Pacific, which enters Kansas at Wyandotte, is known from that city to Leavenworth as the Missouri River road. Passing along the river to Atchison, it is called the Leavenworth, Atchison & Northwestern. Its stations in this county are Ross and Delaware City, Delaware Township, Leavenworth City and the Fort, and Kickapoo City, Kickapoo township. The Kansas Central passes through Kickapoo and Easton townships, in the northern part of the county, Salt Creek, Hund's Station and Easton being stations along its line. The Leavenworth & Lawrence branch of the Kansas Pacific R. R. cuts through Delaware, Fairmount, Hoge, Big Stranger, Summit, Tonganoxie and Reno. The Wyandotte branch of the Kansas Pacific passes through Reno and Sherman townships, near the Kansas River, the stations being Fall Leaf and Linwood.

Leavenworth is also one of the termint of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific R. R., which crosses the Missouri on the fine iron bridge at Fort Leavenworth, and connects with the Hannibal & St. Joe R. R. at Cameron, Mo.

An important extension of Leavenworth's railway system is now being made towards Topeka and the southwest, known as the Leavenworth, Topeka & Southwest R. R. The completion of the road to Oskaloosa, thirty miles from Leavenworth, and the county seat of Jefferson County, was celebrated June 2, 1882.

Board of Trade. - In June, 1882, the public spirited citizens of Leavenworth organized a Board of Trade, by the election of the following officers: A. Caldwell, president; P. G. Lowe, J. Ingersoll, Dr. Robert J. Brown, S. F. Burdette, Theo. Egersdorf, G. M. Bittman, R. N. Hershfield, George A. King, George H. Weaver, and Laurence Hawn. The election of vice-presidents, secretary and treasurer were left to be chosen by the above Board of Directors who subsequently chose the following: H. Miles Moore, secretary; J. Ingersoll, treasurer; P. G. Lowe, S. F. Burdette and George H. Weaver, vice presidents. The Board has rented rooms on Delaware street, and has a membership of over ninety. It is an organization of which Leavenworth has long stood in need, composed of the city's leading business men.

Banks. - The first bank established in Leavenworth commenced business in 1856, near the northeast corner of Delaware and Second streets, C. B. Baily, proprietor. Its life was neither long nor vigorous. Soon afterward Isett, Brewster & Co., arrived from Des Moines, Iowa, and transacted a general banking business in a one and a half story brick building on the north side of Cherokee street, between Main and Second streets. After three years they were succeeded by Scott, Kerr & Co., which established became the foundation of the First National Bank.

The German Bank was organized in 1875, with the following officers: George Ummethen, president; John F. Richards, vice-president; M. E. Clark, cashier; Charles Peaper, assistant cashier. In 1878 Clark & Co., an old and prosperous banking house consolidated with it, and the officers of the former institution obtained control of the new organization. Officers in October, 1882; M. E. Clark, president; George H. Hyde, cashier; C. Peaper, assistant cashier. The capital stock of the German Bank is $100,000, and the average deposits amount to $275,000. The bank building is located on the southeast corner of Fourth and Delaware streets. In November, 1882, Allen G. Campbell, of Salt Lake City, succeeded Mr. Clark, who resigned on account of ill health.

Insley, Shire & Co. - This, a private banking institution, was organized in 1872 by M. H. Insley, Daniel Shire, and E. F. Kellogg. In 1875 Mr. Kellogg retired and W. H. Carson became cashier, having since continued with the house. The death of Mr. Shire occurred in June, 1882, but the bank continues to be conducted under the old firm name. Its paid-up capital is $150,000; surplus, $50,000; and average deposit account, $300,000. Insley, Shire & Co. Are located in a conveniently arranged building at No. 425 Delaware street. They buy and sell exchanges, and make collections in all parts of this country and Europe, besides doing an extensive general banking business.

The first National Bank of Leavenworth was chartered in 1863. Thomas Carney was the first president: Lucien Scott cashier. The bank occupies a fine building northeast corner of fourth and Delaware streets. The following items, taken from itslast (sic) report, made at the close of business May 19, 1882, give a good idea of its financial condition: Loans and discounts, $479.997.56; capital stock paid in, $100,000; undivided profits, $8,003.03. Its total resources amount to $1,055,684.28. Present officers: Board of Directors - Lucien Scott, president; George Van Derwerker, J. M. Graybill. J. M. Graybill is also cashier; George Van Derwerker, assistant cashier.

[TOC] [part 13] [part 11] [Cutler's History]