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


[TOC] [part 18] [part 16] [Cutler's History]


Long before the advent of the Central Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad, and as early as 1859, a settlement known as Centralia, was established about one mile north of the present town. Its founders were J. W. Tuller, J. S. Hidden, and A. A. Goodman. The first named of these erected a store building in 1860, soon after which a schoolhouse, a hotel and a drug store building were constructed, the hotel by J. T. Morse, while a law office was opened by F. P. Baker, now of the Topeka Commonwealth. These few buildings, together with a blacksmith shop, comprised the town in 1867.

The new Centralia is pleasantly located upon the eastern branch of the Black Vermillion, which flows west, and empties into Blue River. Its site, covering 240 acres, was purchased about 1867, from private parties by Peter Clippinger, John E. and W. J. Smith, J. S. Hidden and A. W. Slater, who gave a one-half interest to the railroad company, in consideration of the latter using a part of it for depot purposes. The first building erected was a store room put up by I. Stickel in 1867, a grocery being opened soon after in a second building, by A. Williams, while a third store building was constructed in 1869 by J. E Smith, and leased to W. P. McCubbin. In 1870 a hotel was opened by McCubbin, and in 1871 Dr. J. S. Hidden's drug store commenced operations.

In 1873, a mill was built by John Ingram, at a cost of $7,000. Upon the owner's death the property passed into the hands of the present proprietor, Augustus Hybskmann. During the following year the Excelsior cheese factory began operations, under the proprietorship of E. A. Waite, and in 1878 a second one was established by J. S. Hidden & Co.

It is impossible to be accurate as to the first birth occurring in the town. The first marriage upon the site of the future city was in 1860, uniting Albert Clark to Sara Mitchell.

On the 13th day of July, 1882 Centralia having the requisite number of inhabitants, presented a petition to the Hon. David Martin, Judge of the District Court, to grant an order incorporating the town as a city of the third class. This petition was signed by seventy-five qualified electors, and defined the town site as covering all of the northeast quarter of Section 12, and the south one-half of the southeast quarter of Section 1, of Township 4, Range 11. An order was subsequently granted in accordance with the terms of the petition, and an election ordered.

The first school in Centralia was taught by J. S. Stamm, in 1872, in a frame school-house, erected at the cost of $2,500. This building continued to do service for ten years, being almost totally destroyed in a wind storm, which occurred in July, 1882. Steps were at once taken toward the erection of a new one, the question of bonds for that purpose, in the sum of $6,000, being decided by a vote on July 29, 1882. The present principal i s O. M. Bowman; the school attendance 175.

The Methodist Episcopal denomination, organized a class in Centralia in 1867, worshiping in private houses. The church, as such, was formally instituted in 1871, and placed in the pastoral charge of Rev. T. B. Gray. Mr. Gray was succeeded in 1873, by W. H. Sweet, other incumbents, in the order as given, being: L. O. Biggs, J. A. Simpson, J. Biddeson, J. A. Amos and Thomas Carter. A commodious church edifice was erected in the same year that the formal organization was effected. Its seating capacity is 200, and the actual membership 110.

The Congregational sect effected an organization in 1868, through the efforts of Rev. William Stewart, and with a charter membership of twelve. A few months later, Mr. Stewart was succeeded by Rev. S. A. VanDyke, more recent incumbents being: Rev. John Phillips, Rev. Myron W. Hunt, Rev. H. L. Howard, Rev. A. B. Cochrane, the last named assuming charge in December, 1881. The membership is seventy-five. A church building was constructed by the society in 1871, at a cost of $2,500. The seating capacity is 300.


The only paper ever devoted to, or published in, Centralia, was the Phonograph, the first number of which appeared in May, 1878, under the proprietorship of Daniel C. Needham. It was one of a line of co-operative papers, issued along the Central Branch Railroad, and had but a brief existence.

The postoffice was originally in charge of I. Stickel, who received his appointment in 1867. He was soon succeeded by A. W. Manchester, he in turn, giving way to A. B. Clippinger, the present incumbent, who has held the position since 1872.

Home Lodge No. 39, A. F. and A. M. - Was instituted in 1870, its title being subsequently changed to Home Lodge No. 89. Its first officers were: W. M., L. R. Jackson; Sr. W., A. Hornbeck; Jr. W., A. W. Manchester; Secretary, A. J. Birchfield. The membership in 1882 is twenty-five, the officers as follows: W. M., Edward Holtzlander; Sr. W., T. M. Durland; Jr. W., W. Hornbeck; Secretary, A. J. Birchfield.

A. O. U. W. - A lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen was organized September 1, 1880, with a charter membership of fifteen, and officers as follows: M. W., G. W. Pampel; F. S., E. J. Benedict; R. S., Milton Todd. The membership in 1882 is thirty, the officers: M. W., W. H. Gwinn; R. S., Adam Hoge; F. S., E. J. Benedict.

Cheese Factories. - Of these there are two in successful operation. The Excelsior Factory, erected in 1875 by E. A. Waite, and the Centralia Factory, built by J. S. Hidden, A. J. Birchfield and A. W. Slater, in 1878. Their capacity is about equal, each having three vats, and being capable of the production of twelve hundred and fifty pounds of cheese per day.

The Centralia State Bank was established in April, 1882, with John S. Hidden, President; C. S. Cummings, Vice-President; A. Oberndorf, Jr., Cashier. Its capital is fifty thousand dollars.

Centralia has, at the time of writing, four general stores, two hardware stores, one drug store, one grocery store, one lumber yard, and two livery stables. Its population, according to the last official census, is two hundred and eighty-nine.


M. Z. ANDREWS, farmer, Section 4, P. O. Centralia, was born in Ashtabula County, Ohio, in 1830, reared in that State as a farmer, married there and, with his family of children to educate, located in Oberlin, they having the benefits of the College there for a period of twelve years. He came West in 1877, and with his youngest brother, Professor of Theology in Talladega College, Ala., owns a fine farm of 400 acres, and is prospering in worldly affairs. Soon after his settlement in Kansas he united with the Centralia Congregationalists and was almost immediately made a Deacon and Superintendent of the Sabbath-school, which office he still holds. Mrs. Andrews was Augusta C. Cathcart, born in Erie, Pa They have seven children. With Mr. Andrews lives his aged mother, now ninety, and beyond doubt the oldest person in Nemaha County.

STEPHEN BARNARD, farmer, Section 12, P. O. Centralia, was born August 18, 1814, in historic old Deerfield, Mass. Was reared a farmer, and at twenty-eight began boot manufacturing in Hopkinton. Ill health caused him to move westward. Locating at the mushroom town of Sumner, near Atchison, he lost his all by bad investments, and filed a claim on 160 acres, a mile west of his present farm; lost it through inability to meet his payments, and by an exchange of the remnant of his Sumner property, secured his present valuable farm, adjoining the village of Centralia. His only capital on commencing here was a team and plenty of 'grit.' To-day he has a fine farm, well improved, on which he has expended many a hard day's work and many a dollar. Just prior to the preliminary survey for the Central Branch Railway he accepted an offer of $500 for his farm, but was induced to 'back out' by his tried and often proved friend F. P. Baker, then of Centralia. Within a year he could have sold for $4,000, the present valuation of his farm. Mr. Barnard is a kindly and genial man, popular with his townsmen, and a Free Mason. Mrs. Barnard was Miss Achsah E. Skinner, a native of Warren, Mass. Married November 28,1838. She is a member of the Congregational Church of Centralia, and a lady esteemed for her mild and engaging ways with all whose pleasure it is to make her acquaintance.

A. J. BEST, M. D., is a native of Nova Scotia, born in 1847. He was educated in Waterville, N. S., and served four years as a commissioned officer (Captain) in the Colonial Militia. He left his native place in 1868, locating at Netawaka, Kan., where he began the study of medicine, entering the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Keokuk, Iowa. He graduated in the spring of 1876, locating at Centralia the same year. He has since resided and practiced here. The Doctor received in 1880 a final ad eundem from the Missouri Medical College, St. Louis. He has a pleasant home in the village; has a large and lucrative practice, steadily increasing, and is popular and prosperous He is a member of the School Board and the A. O. U. W. Mrs. Dr. Best was Hattie Little, and their daughter, Maud L., was born in Kansas.

ANDRUS J. BIRCHFIELD, druggist, was born in 1844, in Franklin County, Ky., and educated at Frankfort, the State capital. He came to Kansas as a youth, with untamed cereals to sow, in 1868, joining his uncle, Major Vanderslice, then Indian Agent. Drifting westward to Centralia, he was appointed Railroad Station Agent, and in that capacity served two years. He then purchased a half interest in Dr. Hidden's drug store and began his business career. About 1873 his brother, Daniel Birchfield, and himself started a combined general store and drug store in Centralia, but made an assignment six years later. A. J. Birchfield married Miss Anna I. Hidden, a daughter of the pioneer druggist and doctor of Centralia, by whom he has two daughters, Gracie and Jessie, both born in Centralia. Mr. Birchfield is a charter member of the Home Lodge No. 79 A. F. & A. M., and was the first Secretary there, a position since held by him with the exception of four years. Few young men have made a finer or more flourishing record in Kansas than has A. J. Birchfield. His well-stocked drug store has been his since 1880, at which time he bought out the Doctor, his father-in-law.

DANIEL BIRCHFIELD, of the lumber firm of Birchfield & Co., was born August 12, 1848, near Frankfort, Ky., and orphaned at an early age, through the death of his mother, nee Betsy Ross, and the accidental killing of his father a few years later. His father, James Birchfield, was a native of Virginia and an early settler of Kentucky. By the first wife he had four children, Andrus J., Daniel, Luther P. and Martha Of these, A. J. is a prosperous and popular Centralia druggist, L. P. is a commercial man, and the sister a resident of Doniphan County, Kan. He enlisted for one year in the late war, in Company E (Capt. H. J. Sheet) Ninth Kentucky Cavalry; was in several engagements, and was captured on the retreat from Richmond Ky., to Louisville; was in a skirmish at Shelbyville, and being cut off from his Company, was captured, but was soon exchanged, and returned and served out his term. Mr. Birchfield came to Kansas in 1864, the first of his family, and settle in Highland, Doniphan Co., where lived his uncle, Major Vanderslice, and J. W. and Robert Birchfield. In 1865 he drove three yoke of cattle across the plains to Salt Lake City, thence to Montana Territory, and prospected during the winter of 1865- '66 in Confederate Gulch for gold, and in the spring farmed in the Gallatin Valley; sold his crop in the fall, and with 440 others came down the Yellow stone and Missouri Rivers, in Mackinaw boats, to Omaha, Neb., from whence he returned to Kansas, engaging until 1870 in the stock business in Highland. He then bought a farm with L. P. Birchfield near Centralia, and for three years was engaged in selling out the bankrupt stock of Mr. Dickson, of Waterville, and such goods as he bought in connection with the Dickson stock. His next move was to embark in the drug and general mercantile business with his bother, A. J. Birchfield, in Centralia, which was closed out in 1878, at which time he began his present business. Mr. Adam Hogg associated himself with Mr. Birchfield in January, 1879 and the business has increased from a stock of $3,500 to one of $12,000, the firm dealing in lumber, coal, paints and building material, and also in grain and seeds of all kinds. Mr. Birchfield was married on Thanksgiving Day, 1879, to Miss Ella E., youngest daughter of the Hon John S. Hidden, of Centralia, and they have two sons, John Prentiss and Raymond Andrus. Mr. Birchfield is a Free Mason, and in politics a Democrat.

A. H. BONSTEEL, Centralia. Half a mile west of Centralia we come to Mr. Bonsteel's farm. One can hardly realize by the looks of the place, that two years ago, it was a raw prairie. Mr. Bonsteel was born in Cattaraugus County, N. Y., in 1838. His father was a farmer. His parents, when he was nine years of age, moved to Lake County, Ill., where they purchased a farm and lived five years. Selling out there, they moved to Lake County, Ind., where they both died a few years since. A. H. Bonsteel, after helping his father improve his farm in Indiana, learned the carpenter's trade, and followed it for twenty years in various places. In 1864 he was married and settled in Crown Point, Ind., where he lived until he moved West. In 1877 he came to Thayer County, Neb., where he bought a piece of wild land and commenced farming. The first year he broke seventy acres, and the second year raised 720 bushels of wheat, only paying out $28 for help in tire whole time. In 1880 he came to his present farm in Nemaha County, Kan., where he went to work to make a new home, although not a furrow had been cut upon it. He now has seventy-five acres broken and his farm fenced. His crop for 1882 was as follows: 2,400 bushels of corn, 240 bushels of oats, 40 bushels of rye, and 33 bushels of wheat. He has a cosy farmhouse, well surrounded by yearling cotton-woods, and a fine young orchard already growing. His new corn-crib and granary combined, is a model of neatness and strength, and can not be surpassed in the State; it holds 2,000 bushels of corn and 500 bushels of oats, besides a shelling and cleaning-room. His stock is twenty-eight head of cattle and thirty-five head of hogs; he has good yards and buildings to accommodate them all. Mr. Bonsteel has two children - a son, Charlie (by a deceased wife), born May 17, 1865, in Crown Point, Ind., and a daughter, Jessie, born September 1, 1881, in Centralia, Kan., by his present wife, formerly Miss Maggie Stewart, of Geneva, Ill. Mr Bonsteel and son have done all the work and improvements on the place with one team of horses, without hiring a dollar's worth of help.

JAMES F. BROCK, proprietor Brock's Hotel, was born September 11, 1831, in Toronto, Canada. Lived eleven years in Lake and McHenry Counties, Ill. In 1858 settled in Jackson County, Iowa, and here, in August, 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company K, Twenty-fourth Iowa, and served with his regiment at Helena, Arkansas Post, the siege of Vicksburg, the Red River Campaign, and in the Shenandoah Valley campaign. While in Arkansas, he was twice wounded, and now draws a pension of $18 per month. He married in Crystal Lake, Ill., Miss Adeline M. Countryman, of Syracuse, N. Y. They have had four children. Mr. Brock came to Kansas in 1866, and for six years owned and managed a farm on Section 5, Harrison Township. In 1872 he ran the Smith House in Seneca, then removed to Centralia, where in 1871 he came into possession of the property, out of which grew the Brock House. The original house was built by J. E. Smith, of Seneca, and opened as a hotel by William Hornbeck, of New York. Dr. Tenney was the next lessee. George Wood then bought it and sold it to Mr. Brock. He ran it two years as the Centralia House, and the thoroughly remodeled and refitted it, and gave it the present name. Mr. Brock has been a Free Mason for twelve years, and an Odd Fellow for nine years. Is also one of the A. O. U. W., all of Nemaha County. He is a public spirited and popular landlord, and a good citizen, and his recent leasing of the house is generally regretted by traveling men.

T. A. CAMPFIELD, farmer, Section 19, P. O. Vermillion, was born July 2, 1820, in Morris County, N. J., and resided as a farmer in that State until the fall of 1858, when he came to Kansas. His first claim was the northeast quarter of Section 24 in the old 'Home Association' township. In 1859 he built a frame house, then the best in Nemaha County; it was 17x28 feet, 14 feet posts, with Walnut siding, and 'A' shingles hauled from Atchison. Dissatisfied with the management, or rather mismanagement of the colony's affairs, he sold out, and in 1864 settled where he now is . He has farm of 486 acres, 200 under cultivation, 40 or 50 acres of natural timber, 12 acres of soft maple grove, and an orchard of 4 acres, two good dwelling houses, 35 horses and mules, 120 head of cattle, and 160 hogs, and is in all respects a prosperous and wide awake pioneer farmer. His wife was Hyla Genung, also of Morris County, N. J., and they have four children. Elwin and Arthur were born in New Jersey, and these, with the parents were all the native born 'Jersey men' in Nemaha County up to 1870. The eldest is now a practicing attorney in Wetmore, Kan., the second a prosperous farmer, the third is Mrs. P. K. Shoemaker and Laura, born eight days before the admission of Kansas as a State, is now the wife of Thomas Lovell, of Thomas Vermillion. Mr. and Mrs. Campfield were Presbyterians in New Jersey, and were among the organizers of the old Centralia Congregational Church in 1859.

A. B. CLIPPINGER, hardware merchant, was born in 1850, in Franklin County, Pa.; accompanied his father, Peter Clippinger, to a farm near Monmouth, Ill., in 1857, and spent ten years there. The family came to Kansas in 1867, locating on the beautiful prairie farm near Centralia, where P. Clippinger still lives. Mr. A. B. Clippinger worked on the farm and attended school until 1872, then went into the lumber business with his father. Two years later A. B. went into the hardware business for himself, and such has been his success, that the growth thereof necessitated the erection, in 1881, of his large and complete store. It is 44x70 feet, and in basement and on first floor is well filled with a complete stock of everything to be found in the hardware and furniture and implement trade. Mr. Clippinger sold about $40,000 worth of goods during 1882. His barbed wire trade alone footing up $18,000. He was appointed postmaster of Centralia, April 1, 1874, and has since continuously served Uncle Sam and the public in that capacity. He married Eliza J. Mayhew, of Centralia, and they have one son - Morris. Mr. and Mrs. Clippinger belong to the Congregational Church. As evidence of his prosperity, we may note that Mr. Clippinger has just completed an elegant new residence, 28x36 feet, hip roof, two stories high, and finished and fitted up with all conveniences and comforts known to modern architecture.

HON. CHARLES S. CUMMINGS, hardware merchant, one of the oldest and most successful business man of Centralia, came here in 1868 - just before the railroad did - as a blacksmith. He built the first shop that year, and subsequently the wagon shop and blacksmith shop, now occupied by A. Hornbeck. Mr. Cummings relinquished the hammer and forge in 1871, and built the stone store. Under it is a fine basement, well stored with goods, as is the upper floor and the adjoining built in 1872. Mr. Cummings carries a very heavy line of hardware in all branches, furniture and implements. His retail trade is about $40,000 per annum. He is native of New York, removed with his parents to Michigan, thence to Illinois, thence to Kansas. Is a son of David and Mercy Cummings, and married in Tazewell County, Ill., Mary Smith, by whom he has two sons - Oscar S. and Clarence O. As a Republican Mr. Cummings was elected to the Kansas Legislature in 1874, and attended the special 'grasshopper' session. He is Vice-President of the Centralia State Bank and a member of Home Lodge A. F. & A. M.

A. C. DURLAND, farmer, P. O. Centralia, was born in Greenville, Orange County, N. Y. A son of the late Hon. Stewart T. Durland, a prominent and popular farmer, stock dealer and politician of that county, who died while a member of the New York Legislature, after having served as an associate judge for many years. His eldest son, Addison C. Durland, came West in 1869, an impecunious young man with little save a clear head and good habits to help himself with. His studies were pursued between the plow handles, and in due time his qualifications were such, that he engaged and successfully taught school for several terms. His first farm on Section 11, of eighty acres, is still in his hands, as are 160 more of the same section. His home farm on Section 14 comprises 160 acres well improved, and this, with four acres n the town site of Centralia, and his general fore handedness, causes Mr. Durland to be regarded as one of the successful self-made young men of his adopted county He married Miss Rose L. King, of Orange County, N. Y., and both his children are natives of Kansas. Mr. Durland is an active member of Home Lodge A. F. and A. M., of which he has been secretary.

WALTER EDGINGTON, farmer, Section 34, P. O. Centralia. Mr. Edgington strikingly illustrates the fallibility of the idea that a city-bred man can be nothing but a 'Sidewalk' farmer. Born in 1852, in London, England, he came as one of the English Colony in 1869 and settle near Wetmore, Kan. Working at the carpenter's trade as opportunity offered, he gradually worked his way up, so that to-day we find him on a valuable 160-acre farm, well fenced and improved, on which he and his brother-in-law and partner, Mr. William Ryan, have built a snug farmhouse and suitable sheds for their large herd of stock cattle, horses and hogs. Mr. Edgington is a member and now Junior Warden of Home Lodge, A. F. & A. M., Centralia.

G. H. GUILFORD, Sr., farmer, P. O. Centralia, is of the old puritan stock, and is a credit thereto. Born in 1816, in Hampshire County, Mass., he was reared and educated there. In 1865, he removed and settled on a beautiful farm near Geneva, N. Y. Sold out here and came to Kansas in 1872. He has, with his son, G. H. GUILFORD, Jr., a section of land principally devoted to stock. Mr. Guilford has two living sons - Charles A., now in Dakota Territory, and George H. The only daughter, Bessie, a lovely young woman, died while yet a bride, the wife of Alexander Dunn, of New York. The Messrs. Guilford are breeding Poland-China hogs and Durham Cattle, and are owners of one thoroughbred, registered animal, which is the pride of that section of the county. Eighty acres of their farm planted to corn yielded about 4,000 bushels in 1882. Both are stalwart Republicans, and the son an Odd Fellow and Congregationalist.

[TOC] [part 18] [part 16] [Cutler's History]