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: Topography and Geology | Map and Population | General Products | Early History
PART 2: Indian Outrages | Calamities
PART 3: War History | County Organization | County Buildings, Railroads and Societies
PART 4: Marysville
PART 5: Biographical Sketches
PART 6: Herkimer | Oketo | Bigelow
PART 7: Waterville
PART 8: Blue Rapids
PART 9: Irving
PART 10: Frankfort | Biographical Sketches (Adams - Haxlett)
PART 11: Biographical Sketches. (Laudenberger - Wilson)
PART 12: Barrett | Vermillion
PART 13: Axtell
PART 14: Beattie | Rock Township | Wells Township | Centre Township


MARSHALL COUNTY is in the first tier of counties south of Nebraska, and the fourth, west of the Missouri River. It is bounded on the north by Gage and Pawnee Counties (Nebraska); on the east by Nemaha County; on the south by Pottawatomie and Riley Counties; and on the west by Washington County.

Geological formations in Marshall County are most apparent in the hills and bluffs along the Big and Little Blue Rivers, that divide the uplands from the river valleys. These hills and bluffs are filled with an endless variety of building stone, the finest among which is the magnesia limestone, which can be readily modeled into any shape by sawing or cutting, and is susceptible of receiving a fine, smooth polish; The Marshall County limestone is of superior quality, quarrying in massive blocks, and is almost entirely free from petrifications,. Other varieties of building stone are found in every portion of the county. The magnesia limestone, as found in this county, weighs 144 pounds per cubic foot, when dry, and lies in courses from twenty inches to three feet in thickness, or averaging two feet three inches. Gypsum, in apparently inexhaustible quantities, is found and utilized in the vicinity of Blue Rapids. Vast beds of gypsum of as fine a quality as any of that from which the plaster of Paris which come from Nova Scotia, is prepared, are found at different points along the Blue River. Although strong indications of coal have been discovered within the past few years, there are, as yet, no mines in operation, though several attempts have been made by sinking shafts in different parts of the county.

The Big Blue River runs across the county from north to south, nearly in the longitudinal center, as has an average width of one hundred and thirty feet. Owing to the altitudinal change in the contour of the county from north to south, the Blue has a water-power unequaled elsewhere in the State. The Blue valley is noted as one of the most beautiful and fertile in the West, and the traveler is charmed by its lovely landscape and delighted with its innumerable springs of pure cold water that gush forth from the bluff sides that confine its waters. The Blue runs parallel with the Missouri River, at a distance of about one hundred miles from the latter, and empties into the Kansas or Kaw at Manhattan, about sixty miles south of the northern Marshall County line.

The little Blue, about one-half the size of the Big Blue, enters the county near the southwestern corner. It comes in from the northwest and empties into the Big Blue two miles above Blue Rapids.

The Red Vermillion is the next largest tributary; it comes in from the eastern part of the county, and empties into the Blue four miles below Irving. Smaller tributaries empty into the Blue from the west, among which are Deer Creek, Horse Shoe Creek, Hop Creek, Fawn Creek and Game Fork. From the east, Mission, Lees', Bridges', Spring and Elm Creeks. With all these water courses and numerous smaller tributaries, this county is one of the best in the State for its water privileges.

Along the banks of all the streams are found bodies of timber that embrace all varieties in this part of the State. There is more timber in this county today than there was when the buffalo wandered unmolested over the fertile prairies. Either natural or planted young forest groves are to be seen in all parts of the county, and in a very few years scarcity of timber will not be known.

The bottom lands are about twenty per cent; the uplands, eighty per cent; forest, three per cent; and prairie ninety-seven per cent. Average width of river bottoms, one mile. The general surface of the county is undulating along the banks of the Big and Little Blue and large streams. The general contour of the county is diversified by hills and bluffs, and back from these the surface becomes more rolling. These picturesque, rounded, grass-covered hills, with now and then a bold promontory or precipitous bluff, or towering, over-hanging cliff, meet the eye in every gentle curve of the river as it meanders through the county, and form a most beautiful landscape.

The latitude and longitude combine to render this one of the healthiest sections in the State. The undulating upland, broken bluffs, rolling second bottoms and not too wide stretches of deep, rich, level first bottom, along the streams that so rapidly flow over rock and gravel beds, secure unsurpassed drainage and entire freedom from malaria-producing miasma.



                                                 | 1870. |  1880.
Blue Rapids Township ............................| 1,247 |  1,130
Blue Rapids City Township, incl Blue Rapids city.| 1,247 |  1,299
Center Township .................................|  ....      592
Clear Fork Township..............................|  .... |    691
Elm Creek Township ..............................|  .... |    387
Franklin Township ...............................|  .... |    427
Guittard Township ...............................|   707 |  1,022
Marysville Township, including Marysville city ..| 1,625 |  3,781
Murray Township .................................|  .... |  1,178
Noble Township ..................................|  .... |    620
Rock Township ...................................|  .... |    540
Vermillion Township .............................| 1.738 |  1.770
Waterville Township, including Waterville city ..| 1,584 |  2,094
Wells Township ..................................|  .... |    668
                                                 | ----- | ------
     Total ......................................| 8,148 | 16,136
                                                 | ----- | ------
Blue Rapids city ................................|   ...      829
Marysville city .................................|   300 |  1,249
Waterville city .................................|   ... |    615


The staple product of the soil is corn; from thirty to ninety bushels to the acre being raised, according to location, cultivation and season. Owing to the amount of lime found in the soil, the cereals, wheat in particular, prove especially sure of producing abundant crops. Wheat frequently yield upwards of thirty bushels per acre, with only ordinary tillage. Oats, rye, barley and buckwheat do well, while mullet, hungarian, herd-grass and clover satisfy the expectations of the most sanguine. Vegetables, as Irish and sweet potatoes, cabbages, turnips, beets, onions, carrots, grow and mature to perfection. Fruit in all its varieties -- apples, pears, plums, peaches and cherries -- is grown in profusion. Fine young fruit-orchards are to be seen all over the county, and it is estimated that from this time forward enough fruit will be raised to supply home use, and soon a surplus for distant markets. The live-stock industry is carried on with most gratifying results. The dry, bracing climate and the universally undulating surface of the county, with the absence of lakes, ponds, marshes and other features that generate malaria, together with the perfection of the grain fed, the nutrition of the native grasses that cover the whole face of the county, and the purity of the water, give Marshall County special advantages in stock raising. Sheep raising is carried on extensively, and a good home market for wool is found at the Blue Rapids Woolen Mills.

Marshall County has been, and will always continue to be, one of the leading counties in Northern Kansas.


Thirty years ago, there was scarcely a vestige of civilization in what is now known as Marshall County. For untold ages its prairies had been covered with a waving sea of wild grasses; vast herds of buffalo had, for numberless years, wandered almost unmolested across them. Nothing disturbed it solitude, save occasional bands of nomadic savages, in search of prey or plunder, and the hardy frontiersman who is always found far in advance of the onward march of civilization, -- thus proving that it could not always remain a terra incognita.

Major Stephen H. Long crossed that part of Kansas now known as Marshall County, in command of an expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, during the years 1819 and 1820. Gen. Fremont, on his expedition to the Rocky Mountains in 1842 or 1844, passed through this part of the State, and mentions in his travels, passing a train or two of emigrants, en route to Oregon. In 1847, John Smith, the Mormon apostle, with his band of followers from Illinois, opened the way through this country, crossing the Big Blue at the old "Mormon, " "Independence," or "California crossing," six miles below the present town of Marysville. For two years these exiled "Latter Day Saints" passed along this route by the thousands, their numbers being greatly augmented, in 1849, by the gold discoveries. In 1849, Lieutenant Standberry surveyed the route commonly known as the "Military trail," from Fort Leavenworth to the great Salt Lake, and located a more practicable crossing of the Big Blue, six miles above the old ford.

In 1849, during the excitement caused by the discovery of gold in California, Francis J. Marshall, from Weston, Missouri, came out and established a ferry on the Big Blue at "Independence crossing." During the season of travel he remained there, but returned to Missouri every winter. In the spring of 1851 the moved his ferry, and established it at the upper crossing, at what is now known as Marysville. From this on, until 1854, during the winter Marshall was in Missouri, and in the summer on the banks of the Blue. Here he located his ferry about one hundred yards above where the bridge now spans the river, and about an equal distance below, built a row of rude log cabins; established a blacksmith shop, and opened, with a small stock of goods, a "general store," in which low grade tobacco and rot-gut whisky predominated, and traded with the Indians.

In the spring of 1854, James McCloskey, a Scotchman by birth, who had been an Indian trader among the Sioux on the Upper Platte since 1839, and who had adopted the Indian habits, "came in this country with a half dozen other traders and their families, and decided to settle. The party was invited by Marshall to settle in Marysville. They also received an urgent invitation from Louis Tremble, a Pottawatomie half-breed, who had located a short time previously on the Vermillion, at the "Independence crossing," where he maintained a toll bridge, to settle near him. McCloskey and family located on the Big Blue near Marysville, while the balance of the party settled on the Vermillion.

Settlements were made in the southeastern part of the county on the banks of the Vermillion, early in the spring of 1855. Among the first white settlers were John D. Wells, one of the first County Commissioners, and his family, from Kentucky, who took up a claim near the present town of Barrett. A. G. Barrett, present County Treasurer, settled at the same vicinity, May, 1855. Among those who came in the same year and located in that vicinity were the Brockmeyer brothers, Joseph Langdon, Thos. Warren, H. Ashdown and the Farley brothers. These intrepid settlers and others formed thus the nucleus of a settlement of pioneers, that were foremost in the advancement of the county's best interest.

In March, 1857, probably the first settler in that section of the county now embraced within the limits of Center Township, and near the center of the county, was Smith Martin, who took up a claim and erected a cabin. Shortly after, others came in and began to make improvements. During the same year, others came in and began to make improvements. During the same year, Searns and Wm. Reedy settled on and near the mouth of Coon Creek, in the southwestern corner of the county. Soon after, M. T. Bennett settled on Coon Creek, a few miles above them, and during the next two years many others settled in the vicinity, making quite a neighborhood.

The northeastern section of the county was first settled in 1857, by Geo. Guittard and his sons, who located claims about two and on-half miles north of the present village of Beattie. In the same year, Ambrose, East, Martin and James Shipp, four brothers, settled south of the Big Blue River in what is now Blue Rapids Township, and but a short distance from the present village of Irving. Previous to this time, Samuel Smith settled near the eastern boundary of the county in what is now known as Noble Township, in 1855. In the same neighborhood, on the west fork of the Vermillion, Isaac Walker located a claim in 1856 or '57.

In the territory of what is now known as Blue Rapids Township, settlements were made in 1857, on Elm Creek, by James Walter, M. L. Duncan and others. Wm. Thompson, afterwards Probate Judge, settled a short distance above the present town site of Blue Rapids, in 1858. About the same time Andrew Scott, Henry Miller and others, located on the north side of the river, while James Lane settled a few miles below at a point known afterwards as "Lane's Ford." James Parker and others came in and established a permanent neighborhood.

Settlements were made up and down the Big and Little Blue, also on Horseshoe, Spring, Walnut and other creeks, during the years 1858 and '59; so that in 1860, Marshall County was fairly launched upon the advancing wave of civilization, and was, in a measure, able to enjoy its legal, social and municipal regulations.

The first election in Marshall County was held at Marshall's upper crossing of the Blue, better known as Marysville, on March 31, 1855. The Kansas-Nebraska Act, the act providing for the organization of the Territories, conferred the right to vote at that, the first election, upon every "inhabitant" of the Territory otherwise qualified, who should be "an actual resident." No number of days or period of time of residence was required. The Pro-slavery party put a most liberal construction upon the law. Organizing in Missouri, large parties of men came to Kansas, many of whom had no intention of being inhabitants or residents of the Territory longer than it should be necessary to come to the designated place and vote.

The party which came to Marysville consisted of several hundred men, with wagons, horses, tents, camping equipment and provisions. No opposition was offered them, as there were only two men -- G. H. Hollenburg and J. D. Wells -- in Marshall County at that time belonging to the Free-state party. F. Marshall was elected as a member of the Territorial Legislature at that election.

At the election of the Territorial Legislature, October 5, 1857, the only Free-state vote in the county was cast by James White.

Lecompton Constitution. (December 21, 1857). -- Illegal elections and ballot-box stuffing of the present day can in no way be compared with the manner of conducting elections in the early days of Kansas, and in Marshall County in particular. The election to which we refer is the one that was to decide the fate of that relic of barbarism -- the Lecompton Constitution. At this point on the overland trail a little colony of Southerners had congregated ostensibly for the purpose of building up a town, but in reality to work in the interest of the Pro-slavery party. Marshall operated his ferry here under a charter received from the Territorial Legislature, in which he was allowed to charge the gold-seekers, Mormons, adventurers, and all Western pilgrims that crossed the Blue at that point, the sum of $5 per wagon. The adoption of the provisions of the Lecompton Constitution, among other things, was to vest Gen. Marshall with the high honors of Governor, and it was natural to expect that the Pro-slavery men in this section would take charge of the election. Three or four log cabins were all that showed that a settlement existed, but it was the only place of note in Northern Kansas at that date.

In the upper rooms of one of these cabins the polls were opened, by setting a soap box on the head of a whisky barrel as the receptacle for ballots. In case the above-mentioned soap box was filled with ballots, another box was to be substituted. A narrow staircase led to a hole in the ceiling, through which the voter would thrust his hand, holding a ticket, and yell out his name, or the first name he happened to think of, and then would immediately descend, to make room for the next man, absorb a sufficient quantity of "tarantula juice," conjure up a new name, and await his opportunity to vote again. Among the twenty-five or thirty voters present, there was a notable personage known by the sobriquet of "Shanghai" -- probably so named from his personal appearance.

Long before half the day had passed, "Shanghai," who had become so thoroughly imbued with patriotism for his party, and whisky, that he could not keep a secret, sprang upon a whisky barrel and exclaimed that he had voted twenty-five times; was going to vote twenty-five times more, and would bet any man $100 that he had outvoted any one in the "outfit." Tradition states that the little band of Southern pilgrims stood by and listened with amazement. No one seemed willing to take up any challenge of the champion voter, and the matter was about to go by default, when it was accepted by one of the "pilgrims," the money put up, and a committee appointed to investigate. The result of the investigation showed that "Shanghai" was beaten, the challenged party having deposited nearly one hundred votes. It was shown that he had possession of a St. Louis business directory, and that he was voting in alphabetical order, and had only got half way through the "A" list.

The voting continued briskly throughout the day, and when the shades of evening closed in upon them, the little Spartan band had rolled up a rousing majority of nearly 1,000 votes for the Lecompton Constitution!

Fourth of July Celebration -- The celebration of the eighty-sixth anniversary of American Independence occurred at Marysville July 4, 1862. All parts of the country were represented, and many attended from adjoining counties, making the attendance about 500 people, which was considered large at that time. As per programme, the people assembled at the old Methodist Episcopal Church, formed a procession, and with music marched to a grove on Spring Creek, where took place the reading of the Declaration of Independence, by Dr. J. H. McDougal. The orator of the day, Rev. Charles E. Parker, portrayed "the beauties of a Republican government, the blessings derived from our separation from the mother country, and the strength and virtue of our Government to overcome all attempts to anarchy and despotism," ending with a eulogy on the State, and of Marshall County in particular. In the afternoon toasts were prepared by the toast-master, R. S. Newell, and responded to in an eloquent manner by prominent citizens present. Among the toasts offered was "The Union Forever," which was responded to by the entire assemblage, who arose to their feet and gave three cheers, with a "tiger" accompaniment. The festivities concluded with a ball in the evening.

Pioneer Reminiscences. -- To preserve from oblivion the record of the first white settler who crossed Marshall County, and the second who located in the county, we present a few extracts from a sketch prepared by Hon. F. G. Adams, Secretary of the State Historical Society, in reference to James McCloskey:

"As early as in the year 1839, McCloskey came out from St. Louis and passed over the trappers' trail to the mountains, leaving the Missouri River at Independence, and crossing the Kansas River near the present site of Topeka. He crossed the Blue where ten years later, Marshall put in his ferry. McCloskey was then accompanying the trading party of Bibile & Adams, having seven wagons loaded with Indian goods, and escorted by twelve men. The goods had been purchased of Benard Pratt, of St. Louis, and McCloskey went out as a clerk, to look after the interests of Pratt in the sale of the goods, and make returns thereof.

"The party established Fort Pratt, a trading post, three miles above Fort Laramie.

"McCloskey remained as a trader in the Indian country till in 1854, he returned to take up his settlement on the Blue. When he returned, he brought with him quite a party of mountaineers beside. Among these was Changreau, who, with his family, took up his settlement with Louis Tremble, on the Vermillion, as did also Laroche, another of the same party.

"When our mountaineer, McCloskey, came in with his Sioux wife, on the 20th of November, 1855, and with his companions and their Sioux wives and children camped near Marshall's cabin, there were no other settlers in the neighborhood. Though nearly a year and a half had elapsed since the settlement of the Territory had begun, the rich and beautiful valley of the Blue had attracted no inhabitants to its borders. The enterprising and energetic ferry-man legislator, who had been here six years, was the only man who had come to stay.

"McCloskey, as he had made his trips t and from his trading posts among the Sioux, crossing the Blue, had determined that when he should quit his life in the wilderness he would take up his home on the Blue. He had intended, with the band of people he had brought in with him, to settle at the Big Spring, just below the Independence crossing. But no sooner had his party camped in the valley, than Tremble, the half-breed, living on the Vermillion, came and persuaded a portion of the party to settle on the Vermillion. He told them stories about the dangers there was from the Kaws, and gave reasons why his own neighborhood was a place of greater security. These tales about the Kaws caused a number of mountaineers to return at once. Thus McCloskey found himself alone with his family, and he made up his mind to settle near the ferry-man."

[It will be remembered that Marshall had given up his lower establishment two years before.]

"What had brought these mountaineers here with their Indian families to make their homes, surrounded as they knew they were to be by a community of white people?

"McCloskey says they came in order that their children might learn the manners and customs of white people, and be educated. They had married Indian women in the Sioux country, actuated in a measure at least by motives of prudence and business economy. Safety, and the protection and promotion of their trade, required that they should marry and become members of a tribe. These family relations resulted in family ties which, once formed, were not easily broken. They became attached to their wives and children. Natural affection seems to become as strong in such situations as in those formed in the midst of civilization.

"Here are phases of human nature creditable in the highest degree to mountain white men who, like McCloskey, in their desire to secure to their Indian offsprings the benefit of education, civilization and refinement, are yet willing to take with them within the pale of civilization, their Indian wives, and to undergo all the embarrassments incident to such an anomalous relation in the midst of a cultivated community. The part which the wife performs in this change is alike creditable and certainly is conclusive of the fact that the retaining of some of the best qualities of human nature is not inconsistent with a savage birth and education.

"McCloskey sent his boys to the Iowas Indian Mission schools, in Doniphan County, and his girls to the Highland University, giving them all a good education. His eldest son, James, was for nine years, up to 1870, government interpreter at Fort Laramie, when he was killed by a man named William Boyer, who was hung for the crime. Henry had been interpreter at Fort Halleck. On his return home he was killed at Cottonwood Station. Charles, while in school at Highland, was accidentally killed by the discharge of a gun which he was taking from a wagon, while going on a hunt. Eda died at Highland, while attending school, at the age of fourteen. Julia, not aged twenty-six, is living in Nebraska. Monie-waka (Medicine Eagle), the mother of the children, died many years ago."

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