produced this selection.

William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas
was first published in 1883 by A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL.


PART 1: Boundaries, Topography, Etc. | Map and Population | Early Settlements
PART 2: County Organization, Elections and Officers | School and Other Statistics | Marion Center
PART 3: Biographical Sketches (Aumann - Hopper)
PART 4: Biographical Sketches (Jones - Zercher)
PART 5: Peabody | Biographical Sketches (Ayers - Hutchings)
PART 6: Biographical Sketches (Knowles - Woolheater)
PART 7: Florence
PART 8: Gnadenau | Hillsboro | Other Towns


Marion County is situated nearly in the center of the organized counties of Kansas, the center of population being according to the census of 1880, twelve miles west of the western boundary line of the county.

The original location of Marion County, as created by an act of the Territorial Legislature February 17, 1860 is as follows:

Commencing at the southeast corner of Township 21, Range 5; thence north to the northeast corner of Township 18, Range 5; thence west to the northeast corner of Township 18, Range 4; thence north to the southeast corner of Dickinson County; thence west to the Sixth Principal meridian, thence south to the southwest corner of township 21, range 1; thence east to the place of beginning.

By this location its area was 864 square miles. Its present area is 954 square miles, having an increase by Township 22, of range 3, 4, and 5, and a decrease of the east tier of sections in Towns 20, 21, and 22, of Range 5, three sections having been attached to Chase County. Under this act, there was no organization for the population of the county in 1860 was but 74; in 1865 it was 162. It had then but 200 cultivated acres.

A special act of the Legislature February 22, 1865, extended the northern boundary of the county on the line between Townships 16 and 17 to the west of line of the State, making its west boundary identical with the State line, and also its southern to the west line of Butler county (then including Cowley). But Marion County comprised all Southeastern Kansas but a few months, for in June of the same year, in response to a petition from the inhabitants the Governor restored the boundaries previously established and ordered a separate organization of the county.

The face of the county here shows much variety -- valleys, bluffs, plains and wooded dells, alternating in a most picturesque degree, and rendering Marion County one of the most beautiful in the State. The average width of the bottom lands exceeds a mile; the surface of the country away from the streams is gently undulating for the most part, though apparently there are extensive level tracts. It may be classified as 15 per cent of bottom; 85 per cent upland; 3 percent timber; 97 per cent prairie.

The Cottonwood river rises in the northwest part of the county, and flows through it in a southeasterly direction. Its principal tributaries from the north are Mud, Clear, Martin's and Bruno Creeks; from the south, French, South Branch, Catlin, and Doyle Creeks. Three other large creeks have their headwaters in this county -- Middle, Lyons and Turkey Creeks. No county in the state has a more abundant water supply. Much timber grows along the valleys of the streams, mainly cottonwood, elm, hackberry, hickory, oak, sycamore and walnut trees. There is also much cultivated timber.

The soil in the bottom lands comprises a rich loam of from two to ten feet in depth, underlaid by a bed of sand, which acts as a natural sewer. The upland is a dark loam, on an average a foot in depth. Pure and strong salt water has been discovered at Peabody, at a depth of 640 feet. In this neighborhood, gypsum beds have been found, and hydraulic cement, mineral paint, fire, pottery and brick clay exist in very considerable quantities. Pure magnesian limestone of different shades in great quantity and of excellent quality abounds.



                                                   | 1870 |  1880
(a) Branch Township .............................. | .... | 1,131
(b) Catlin Township .............................. | .... |   598
(c) Center Township, including Marion Center City  |  539 | 1,724
(d) Clear Creek Township ......................... | .... |   671
    Doyle Township, including Florence City ...... |  124 | 1,489
(e) Fairplay Township ............................ | .... |   447
(f) Gale Township ................................ | .... |   866
(g) Grant Township ............................... | .... |   481
(h) Liberty Township ............................. | .... | 1,702
(i) Peabody Township, including Peabody City ..... | .... | 1,585
(j) Risley Township .............................. | .... |   698
(k) Summit Township .............................. | .... |   421
(l) Wilson Township .............................. | .... |   640
                       Total  .................... |  663 |12,453
Marion Center City ............................... | .... |   857
Florence City .................................... | .... |   954
Peabody City ..................................... | .... | 1,087

(a) Organized since 1870, from part of Santa Fe.
(b) Organized since 1870, from part of Peabody.
(c) Organized since 1870, from part of Marion;
    part detached to from sic Gale. 
(d) Organized since 1870, from part of Marion.
(e) Organized since 1870, from part of Cedar Creek.
(f) Organized since 1870, from part of Center.
(g) Organized since 1870, from part of Marion.
(h) Organized since 1870, from part of Risley.
(i) Organized since 1870, from part of Santa Fe;
    part detached to form Catlin.
(j) Organized since 1870, from part of Marion;
    part detached to form Liberty.
(k) Organized since 1870, from part of Cedar Creek.
(l) Organized since 1870, from part of Marion.


The first settlement made in the county was by an Irishman of the name of Moses Shane, who located at the spot where now stands Florence, early in the spring of 1858. He built a log house, broke several acres of ground, and resided there until his death, which occurred in 1859. Patrick Doyle, in the year 1859, located near Florence, on what is now called Doyle's Creek, but soon afterward returned to Leavenworth, from whence he came. In the lapse of a few years, he returned to the place, and lived where he first located.

In August, 1859, the first white child was born in the county, and was of Irish extraction, by the name of Welsh. The birth occurred on what is known as the Potter place, two miles from Florence. Its parents emigrated to Kansas from Wisconsin.

At Lost Springs, which is located on Section 21, Town 17, Range 4, Clear Creek Township, a trading post was established in the spring of 1859. It was located on the great thoroughfare from Independence, Mo., to New Mexico and the Territories, which was largely traveled by the emigrants in quest of gold, and by the freighters who took supplies to the Western forts. J. H. Costello was Postmaster at Lost Springs in 1861. On July 4, 1862, Robert Bailey, on Clear Creek, was killed by the premature discharge of a gun. This was the first death among the settlers. Late in the year 1859, on his return from a Pike's Peak adventure, Thomas J. Wise, Sr., made a settlement on Clear Creek. December 28, 1862, the first marriage in the county occurred, that of J. H. Costello and Abigail Wise. Reuben Riggs and Mahlon Riggs settled on Clear Creek in 1864, but afterward removed to the Cottonwood, near Florence. In the spring of 1864, T. J. Wise, Sr., purchased a mower and reaper, at Lawrence, which was the first one brought into the county. On Clear Creek, in 1864, Miss Maggie H. Norris taught the first school that was organized in the county, having obtained her teacher's certificate in Chase County. She is now the wife of Mr. J. C. Rath, who is the Postmaster at Antelope.

In the late autumn of 1859, A. A. Moore established a trading post at what was called Cottonwood Crossing, and later known as Moore's Ranche. In the spring of 1861, Mr. Moore was made Postmaster at this place; and in the month of April there was an attempt made to organize Marion County, under and by virtue of the Territorial law of Kansas. A meeting of the settlers was called and a proclamation was issued for an election to be held at this place. The polls having been opened on the day set apart for the election, an Election Board was organized, a few ballots were cast by those present, when the fact presented itself that there were not enough men in the county qualified to fill all the offices of honor, profit and trust.

Early in 1860, W. H. Billings, George Griffith and William Shreve settled at or near Marion Center; C. R. Roberts, an Episcopalian, from Rutland, Vt., came October 1, 1861, and Nelson Miller established a hotel north of Marion center on the east side of Muddy in 1862, which for years was the main objective point for food and shelter for the traveler, after leaving Council Grove, as he wended his way across the plains in a west southwesterly course, on the great Sante Fe trail.

The post office at Marion Center was established in 1862, W. H. Billings, Postmaster. This place was on a mail route from Cottonwood Falls to Moore's Ranche. A store was started here by Mr. Billings and A. A. Moore in 1861; a schoolhouse was erected in 1862; here was the first Methodist Episcopal Church building of the county, and on July 4, 1863, there was a patriotic celebration of the ninety persons of the county at Billings Park, where the feathered songsters united their songs of rejoicing with those of the hardy pioneers.

Wilson Campbell was the first settler in Wilson Township. He located in 1870. The first birth in this township was that of Hans Olsen, in March, 1871.

In October, 1872, the first water grist mill erected in the county was put in operation by Messrs. Moore & Fuller, on the Cottonwood, nearly two miles west of Marion Center. Its site is in the southeast part of Gale Township. If ever the grasshopper was specially a burden to any people, the early settlers of Marion so realized in August, 1874, as they came swooping in like the rushing of mighty waters, with the bosom of destruction, destroying the vegetation of the county, and causing destitution terrible in the extreme. County Relief Bonds to the amount of $10,000 were issued March 13, 1875, as a partial mitigation of the loss of crops.

In the summer of 1868, the Cheyenne Indians committed depredations in the northern portion of the county, many of the settlers losing cattle and horses, though it may be said that during that period many horses were taken by white thieves assuming the dress and appearance of the wild Indian. Many of the settlers came to Marion Center and sought refuge in the stone building used as a store by J. H. Costello, which stands on the southeast corner of Main and Fifth streets. Mr. David Lucas, a former county commissioner, in some indirect manner, learned of the intended line of pursuit of the Indians, and he lost no time in riding his horse with the utmost speed to Council Grove, to inform Maj. E. S. Stover, the Kaw Indian agent, of the probable Indian attack, and this warning served to avert the possible disaster that might have ensued but for the thwarting of the plans of the barbarous foe. Often has the head of a family gathered his loved ones about him at night and found refuge in a cornfield, for fear of an Indian raid upon the house.

Marion County has a funded indebtedness for bonds issued to the Kansas & Nebraska railroad, a line surveyed from the northeastern to the southwestern portion of the county. The proposition was for the sum of $200,000, one-half to be paid in thirty-year bonds with interest, when the grading was completed to Marion Center from the north line of the county. The grade has been made, but it is not known when there will be a road, as per expectation. This is the main financial burden resting on the county.

The county has had a conviction for murder, and it has sent a prisoner to the State Penitentiary for twenty-one years. It was for cold-blooded murder committed at Peabody, February 14, 1872, by Lewis Crawford upon the esteemed citizen Mr. C. H. Davenport.

The county, aside from these instances, may be said to have been measurably free from debt and crime.

In 1870, the municipal townships of the county were Center, Clear Creek and Doyle; in 1875, the additional ones were Branch, Grant, Peabody, Risley, Summit and Wilson; in 1880, the additional ones were Catlin, Fairplay, Gale and Liberty; in 1882, Durham Park, East branch and West branch, which are two townships created from "Branch." Peabody is the most densely settled township, having forty-four people to the square mile; Durham Park the least densely settled, having about two to the square mile.

Marion County has three good towns -- Peabody, in the southwest in the central part of Range 3; Marion Center, centrally located from north to south, in the west part of Range 4; Florence, near the southeast part of the county in the west part of Range 5, and the east part of Range 4.

[TOC] [part 2] [part 1] [Cutler's History]