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


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


Early in 1870 the county, as described in the beginning of this sub-division, was decided to have sufficient population to demand an organization. The county had been named in honor of Capt. William D. Mitchell, who enlisted in the Union army during the late rebellion as a private soldier in the Second Kansas Cavalry, and after promotion to captain, was killed in the battle at Monroe's Cross Roads in North Carolina, on the 10th of March, 1865.

A meeting of the special board of County Commissioners appointed by the Governor, was held October 4, 1870. These commissioners were, J. M. Myers, William E. Schooley and Charles L. Brown; Don A. Peaslee clerk. At that meeting the county was divided into voting precincts as follows:

Asherville, No. 1, to be composed of Townships 6-7-8. in Range 6, with voting place at the dwelling of John Reese.

Beloit, No. 2, to be composed of Townships 6-7-8 in Range 7, and the voting place to be at the stone house in Beloit.

Solomon Rapids, No. 3, to be composed of Townships 6-7-8, in Range 8, and the voting place to be at the house of R. C. Clark.

Glen Elder, No. 4, to be composed of Townships 6-7-8, in Range 9, with the voting place at the house of George W. Stinson.

Cawker, No. 5, to be composed of Townships 6-7-8, in Range 10, with voting place at Cawker City.

Salt Creek, No. 6, to be composed of Township 9. Ranges 6-7-8-9-10, with the voting place at the house of J. A. Markley on Fourth Creek.

No. 1 was afterwards divided as per Congressional Townships, Township 6 being called Lulu; Township 7, Asherville; Township 8, Logan; Township 9, Eureka. Beloit precinct was divided, and Township 6, named Plum Creek; 7, Beloit: 8, Bloomfield, and 9, Salt Creek. Solomon Rapids was cut up, and Turkey Creek, Center and Round Springs made from that range of townships. Glen Elder, made Walnut Creek, Hayes and Blue Hills; Cawker precinct furnished Carr Creek and Pittsburg, with Custer in the extreme southwest.

The first election resulted in the choice of the following County Officers: Commissioners, C. L. Brown, William E. Schooley, Lew J. Best; Clerk, Laf. C. Smith; Probate Judge, James Britt; Sheriff, W. B. Smith; County Attorney, Don A. Peaslee; Treasurer, H. J. Messenger; Superintendent of Public Instruction, J. W. Elliott; Coroner, J. W. Clark; Representative, E. Harrison, Cawker.

Since this first election, the representatives in the State Legislature have been in regular order. John Reese of Asherville, John Curtain of Beloit, D. C. Everson of Glen Elder, Harry Babcock of Walnut Creek, W. L. Warning of Center, Horace Cooper, Charles J. Brown, Capt. F. Charlesworth of Beloit, and John M. Kyle, of Carr Creek.

In the winter of 1880, the county was divided into two representative districts, the western district being composed of Solomon Rapids and all of the territory west of the west line of that township. Mitchell County managed to get along without the usual unpleasant county-seat contest, or at least without the unpleasantness commonly engendered. Beloit was selected by a vote of nearly two to one over all other competitors (see history of Beloit).

A court house building was needed at once, and T. F. Hersey built one in 1871 and presented it to the county. The building cost Mr. Hersey about $4,000, and was amply sufficient for the county at that time. The county built a jail shortly after, at an expense of $800; although it cost its builders as much in proportion as the court house, it has as yet never proved of much avail. About the only prisoners ever confined therein, were a couple of alleged horse thieves, who stole the extra blankets provided by kind hearted Sheriff Hatcher, took out the horrid grates which obscured the window, and passed through the orifice out into a purer sphere. They have never been heard from and the frugal janitor of the court house appropriated the hole to toss coal through for winter consumption in the various county offices.

The county business at present (1882), is in charge of the following officers: Commissioners, W. L. Record, First District; J. S. McGrath, Second District; Samuel Depoy, Third District; Treasurer, James L. Buchanan; Clerk, George W. Clark; Sheriff, W. H. Langford; County Attorney, A. H. Ellis; Register of Deeds, W. T. Yates; Clerk of District Court, W. S. Search; Probate Judge, John Mehl; Superintendent of Public Instruction, M. J. Wilcox; Coroner, Joseph Riley.


The rapid settlement and growth of the county led to a rapid formation of school districts and erection of school houses. The county is now sub-divided into 106 districts, with suitable buildings in each for school purposes; there are 4,574 pupils of school age; 3,733 of which are enrolled, and the average yearly attendance for the year ending August 1, 1???, amounted to 2,461 pupils. One hundred and thirty-two teachers were employed and the amount expended for school purposes during that year reached the sum of $23,519.33. Rev. O. N. Fletcher, a Baptist minister, taught the first school in the county, in the little settlement of Beloit. Although this was the first school in the county, before the term closed, not less than a dozen others were in progress in different parts of the county.

The Central Branch Railroad was built through the county in the summer of 1879, and received the bonds of the county in the sum of $50,000 in aid thereof. The Solomon Valley Railway, a branch of the Kansas Pacific division of the Union Pacific, also extended its line from Solomon City on the Kansas Pacific to the county-seat of Mitchell. Both roads then passing into the hands of one management, further extension through the county became unnecessary, and the work on the Solomon Valley line was stopped at Beloit.

Mitchell, like many other of the western counties of Kansas, suffered from the ravages of the grasshoppers in 1874, and many settlers left the county in order to provide food for themselves during the winter. Much assistance was rendered the needy settlers through the organized State and county societies, for the distribution of Eastern charity. Good crops in 1875 and 1876, however, brought back the population which the county had lost, and Mitchell again commenced to prosper. This county is well settled, nearly every quarter section being under a degree of improvement. The abundance of good building rock has led to the erection of a class of buildings, both farm and business houses, which are both beautiful and substantial.

During the year in which the railroad was built through the county, its advancement in wealth was very rapid. The following is the property valuation as returned by the March assessment for the year 1882.

Lulu........................................ $129,850
Asherville..................................  128,999
Logan.......................................   65,466
Eureka......................................   27,020
Plum Creek..................................   80,426
Beloit......................................  170,183
Bloomfield..................................   52,350
Salt Creek..................................   41,234
Solomon Rapids..............................   90,016
Turkey Creek................................   95,696
Center......................................   58,218
Round Spring................................   24,625
Glen Elder..................................  127,946
Walnut Creek................................   75,203
Hayes.......................................   37,685
Blue Hills..................................   25,120
Cawker......................................  261,786
Carr Creek..................................   61,463
Pittsburg...................................   45,770
Custer......................................   23,957
Beloit City.................................  378,727
Total..................................... $2,001,720

The milling interest is perhaps the most important manufacturing industry in the county, and the Solomon River affords an abundance of water and plenty of fall. Beginning at the east line of the county, and in fact on the county line, at the little village of Simpson is located Simpson's mill, with two run of stones and a strong power. This is one of the oldest mills in the county. Five miles west of the line is the stone-grist mill of B. W. Tanquary, with four run of stones, built in 1874, by Williams & Finnegan, of Beloit. This mill has a large business, running night and day. The property is valued at $18,000. The next mill on the river is grown from the one started by T. F. Hersey at Beloit, in 1869; further reference will be made to this property in the history of Beloit. Six miles west of Beloit is another custom-mill, known as the Jamison Bros.' Mill, it has two run of burrs and plenty of custom work. The property is valued at $6,000. At Glen Elder, Kaull & Nash have a flouring-mill, with three run of stone, doing a large business. This mill was built in 1871, by Neve & Spencer, and is now one of the most valuable establishments of the kind in the west part of the State. Three miles south of Cawker City, T. F. Hersey located his homestead, and commenced building a mill in 1872, in company with Hon. John Curtin. They labored under many difficulties on account of frequent floods, but in 1873 the dam was completed, and the mill has been in operation ever since. The mill operates four run of stone, and is valued at $15,000. On the west line of the county the Jackson Bros. have a splendid milling property built in 1875, and doing a vast business. The property is valued at $15,000.


On permanent organization of the county in 1870, Beloit was selected as the county-seat by a vote of nearly two to one. Beloit receiving 143 votes, Solomon Rapids 43, and Glen Elder 36. The town site of Beloit was first settled by A. A. Bell in 1868, and for some time was known as Willow Springs. Mr. Bell anticipated then the improvement of the water-power at this point; also that the natural commanding location would in time be improved for a town. Owing to the continued hostilities of the Indians referred to in the county history, nothing permanent was done until 1869, when T. F. Hersey purchased the mill-site of Mr. Bell, and commenced getting out timbers for a dam. Notwithstanding two heavy floods Mr. Hersey had the saw-mill in operation the following September 1880, and completed the grist-mill the next season.

The first township election was held April 4, 1871, and the following ticket elected: Wm. Bickle, Trustee; E. M. R. Blanchard, Clerk; D. E. Sedgely, Treasurer; Jeremiah Baldwin and J. W. Elliott, Justices; John Hyde, Road Overseer; Vinton Whitehurst and Magnus Munson, Constables.

In April, 1871, through the enterprise of Hon. T. F. Hersey and a few others, a school building was erected on the lot where Mr. Roberts' furniture store now stands, and Rev. O. N. Fletcher took charge as first teacher of the first school in Beloit.

Mr. Fletcher also held religious meetings in the neighborhood, and was mainly instrumental in organizing the Baptist Church in this city.

During this summer of 1871, many meetings were held by the Baptists in places not usually devoted to divine worship. For instance, Rev. George Balcom stepped into one of the early saloons on Mill Street, and taking a violin from the hands of a player, stepped behind the bar, and played and sang, then gave out a text, and for nearly an hour held his audience in close attention. Elder Balcom located a claim in the west part of the county where he resided until his death in 1880.

Nearly every building erected in town during the years 1870 and 1871, was opened by a dance as soon as completed, and services held by some traveling preacher the following Sabbath when the building was allowed to fall into its owner's hands for the legitimate purposes of trade or residence.

In the winter of 1873, an iron bridge was built across the Solomon within the city limits at an expense of $10,000, for which the bonds of the township was given.

The town of Beloit was platted March 26, 1872, and the original description as found in the recorder's office covers all of section 9, and the south half of the southeast quarter and south half of the southwest quarter of Section 4, Town 7, and Range 7 west.

The proprietors of the town were T. F. Hersey, A. A. Bell, George Campbell, Alexander Campbell, C. H. Morrill, Edward Valentine, W. C. Ingram, and Daniel Kepler. The town grew very rapidly, and in July, 1872, was incorporated as a city of the third class, an election held, and the following city officers were chosen: Mayor, T. F. Hersey; Councilmen, W. C. Ingram, M. R. Mudge, H. H. Lyon, Joseph Baughman, J. R. Vaughan.

The Mayors have been T. F. Hersey, G. W. Elliott, Alex. Campbell, E. Valentine, W. S. Vreeland, John S. Rogers and W. S. Vreeland.

On the 10th of March, 1879, Gov. John P. St. John proclaimed Beloit a city of the second class.

In 1872, the school district in which this town is situated, which was the second district formed in the county, voted $5,000 bonds to build a schoolhouse, which was completed in the spring of 1873. In 1878, this building was found to be too small to accommodate the scholars, and a $3,000 addition was built thereto. In 1880, a frame building valued at $2,000 was erected in the Second Ward and is known as the Second Ward schoolhouse. Four hundred pupils are in attendance during the present (October, 1882) term under the supervision of B. S. Hutchins, principal, and seven assistants. Five hundred and forty-two pupils are enrolled in this district, and nine months school held per annum. The current expenses per year amount to $3,752.70. It is one of the largest and best schools in the county.

The School Board is composed of the following named gentlemen: W. H. Mitchell, President; Samuel Thanhouser, Treasurer; J. H. Roberts, George T. Finnell, H. T. Rogers.

A. A. Bell was appointed postmaster July 1, 1870 and held the office for several months with Joel Miley as assistant at a fixed salary of $12 per annum. In April, 1871, H. H. Lyon was appointed, vice Bell, resigned, and held the office until the spring of 1873, when C. H. Long assumed charge. On the 7th of September, 1875, the present incumbent, W. H. Mitchell was appointed, and the following year built the handsome post-office building on Main Street, and moved the office therein where it has since remained.

Beloit has two large three story hotels. The Avenue House was built in 1875, by Frank McGrath and H. Bramwell, on the corner of Main Street and Hersey Avenue. It is a stone building three stories above a well finished basement, and the roomiest house in the county. The Reeder House is of wood, and is on the corner of Hersey Avenue and Court Street. It was built by A. Reeder, and is now run under his management. Both houses are very popular and are a credit to the town and county. Several smaller hotels are also kept busy.


The first newspaper to behold the light in Mitchell County, was the Mirror, whose initial number was published April 5, 1871 by A. B. Cornell. The proprietor was not wholly unknown to fame before he dawned upon the Kansas prairies. In Minnesota, he had been a representative in the Legislature from Steele County. The state of Missouri knew him as an attorney and newspaper man. His advent in Beloit was made under difficulties, and his first paper was printed in the open air. After a few months of real earnest hard work on the frontier, the Mirror suspended, and Mr. Cornell removed to Russell County, where he has since ascended the ladder of fame, at least a few rounds, by publishing the Kansas Plainsman and the Russell Hawkeye, representing his county in the State Legislature, and serving the Federal government as a mail contractor. For completer details in this little particular the reader is referred to the history of Russell County.

About a year after the birth of the Mirror, Messrs. J. J. Johnson & A. B. Chaffee commenced the publication of the Gazette, the first issue appearing on the 11th day of April, 1872. On the 25th of June Mr. Johnson became the sole proprietor, and continued the publication of the Gazette alone until September 3, 1874, when his brother, W. H. Johnson purchased a half interest in the business, and remained with it until the second of the following April, when J. J. Johnson resumed complete proprietorship. Justin J. Johnson was one of the pioneers of Kansas, who served State and country in the Seventh Kansas Cavalry during the war of the rebellion; an earnest Republican and a successful pioneer publisher. In 1876, February 11, he sold the Gazette to an early settler of Solomon Rapids Township, named G. W. Anderson, who in turn sold the same to Brewster Cameron. Mr. Anderson removed to Lincoln County, where his further history will be recorded. Mr. Cameron took possession of the Gazette October 1, 1879. John Coulter was employed as editor; the paper was enlarged at once, and has since been the largest paper in Mitchell County. In May, 1880, S. H. Dodge, the present editor and business manager, assumed charge of the paper, and is, at present writing, occupying the chair. The proprietor is special agent of the Department of Justice under Attorney General Brewster at Washington, D. C.

During the first week of December in 1874, G. W. McBride, of Iowa, arrived in Beloit with new material fresh from the foundry, and commenced the publication of the Beloit Index. This paper chanced to drop in the field in the fall of "grasshopper year," and the people not being able to give it the necessary support, it survived only three months, when its editor returned to his native State, and the material of the office was shipped to S. P. Rounds, of Chicago.

The Beloit Record, a sprightly real estate monthly, was the next candidate for public favor in Beloit. Its first issue appeared February 15, 1877. In August of the same year it was made a weekly and shortly passed into the hands of the junior partner, Mark J. Kelley, who bought the interest of G. Webb Bertram. Mr Kelley conducted the paper for a few months, and then sold it to W. H. Caldwell, who changed the name to the Courier. Mr. Caldwell was a member of the Thirty-sixth Iowa Infantry, an old publisher, a thorough printer, and he has staid by his paper persistently, until he has now the satisfaction of knowing that he has an established business and reputation.

October 1, 1878, the Western Democrat was started by J. B. Chapman who had just arrived from Tama City, Iowa. Mr. Chapman made the Democrat a success, and in 1881, October 14, sold it to F. W. Hiddleson, who changed its name and politics. The paper is now called the Western Nationalist, and advocates the principles of the national, or greenback party.

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