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


[TOC] [part 20] [part 18] [Cutler's History]


This thriving village, located on the St. Joseph & Western Railroad, six miles east of Seneca, and thirteen west of Sabetha, is due directly to the efforts of one man, Col. Cyrus Shinn, who purchased about four hundred acres of land in the vicinity, in 1873, platting a large portion of it, and naming it as above, in July, 1878. Prior to this, however, and dating from 1872, a postoffice known as Oneida, was established in the farmhouse of Henry Kerns, then situated directly upon the site of the future town. In 1876, Colonel Shinn erected a store building upon his purchase, which he leased first to John Mitchell, and subsequently to J. O. Steinbaugh, who succeeded Kerns as post-master. The building is now occupied by W. H. Rockefeller. In May, 1878, Colonel Shinn gave an acre of land to George W. Buswell, who built, during the same year, the Oneida Cheese Factory, and immediately after the town was established, as such, he opened a land office and commenced the publication of the Oneida Real Estate Journal, while he traveled extensively during the season, through Illinois and Missouri, distributing handbills and lecturing upon the possibilities of Oneida, his discourse being entitled, "What I know about farming in the West," while his circular advertised five hundred city lots, free. It may be mentioned in this connection, that he has never sold a lot, depending, for his profits, upon the enhancement in value of his surrounding lands. During 1878 a blacksmith shop and harness store were built, and in 1879 the Lindell House, two stories in height, erected by Colonel Shinn, who immediately sold it to B. F. Chamberlain, its subsequent owners being J. N. Conger, J. M. Claypool and David Kautz. The streets of the embryo city are named for, and arranged upon, the same plan as the streets of Chicago. Durng 1881, two churches were built, the Randolph Street Christian Church, and the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian, the latter being used both by that sect and the Congregationalists. In the spring of the same year, the Lake Street Schoolhouse, two stories in height, 34x66 feet, was built, the district school being immediately graded into four departments. Opera Hall was also erected on Monroe street, the lower floor of the building, 24x60 feet in size, being used by J. H. Mayhew's furniture and hardware store, the proprietor of which succeeded Steinbaugh as postmaster. Hyde Park, comprising ten acres of densely timbered land, was opened in 1878, a refreshment building known as the Rialto, and a platform and pavillion, 40x40 feet in extent, being constructed in connection therewith.

The Oneida Real Estate Journal was founded by Colonel Shinn in 1878, was sold to J. F. Clough, of the Nemaha County Republican, in October, 1879, the new owner giving it the name, Oneida Journal. It suspended publication in May, 1882.

The Oneida Cheese Factory is owned and managed by J. B. Elliott & Sons, comprising the Oneida Cheese Company. The building is two stories in height, 24x60 feet in size, and is fitted up with the most improved machinery, including two vats, boiler, curd cutters, improved presses, tube testers, etc. Its capacity is rendering ten thousand pounds of milk into one thousand pounds of cheese, each day. Its sales extend from St. Joseph to Denver, Colorado, and as far north as Nebraska City.

Oneida has never had a saloon, nor a drunken brawl within its limits. It now has two general stores, one hardware and furniture store, two drug stores, one hotel, one lumber yard, one livery stable, and various industrial shops, including one restaurant, the Delmonico. Its population is 163.


J. O. BARNARD, farmer, P. O. Oneida, was born 1834, in McLean County, Ill., where he spent forty-five years of his life though during the Rebellion he served three years with the Ninety-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, nearly losing the use of an eye in consequence. He came to Kansas in 1879, and now owns eighty acres adjoining Oneida village, and 160 acres four miles north. He married, in McLean County, Ill., Anne Weekly of Virginia. They have four children - W. H., J. M., Florence (Mrs. R. L. Wheeler), and Katie. The eldest son is married and settled on an Illinois farm. Mr. Barnard's parents, natives of Tennessee and of Virginia and North Carolina ancestry, came from Tennessee to McLean County, Ill., in 1828.

HON. J. B. ELLIOTT was born in 1829, in Rush County, Ind., but spent thirty-three years of his life in White County, Ind. He then removed to Woodford County, Ill.; thence to Mankato, Minn., and there, with his brother-in-law, Levi Scott, built the Red Jacket Mills, four miles southeast of town. His next settlement was in Otoe County, Neb., where he engaged in farming for about ten years, and represented his District one term of two years in the Legislature. In 1879 he came to Oneida, and in 1880 bought the Oneida Cheese Factory now owned and managed by himself and four sons - Milo, Oris, Charles and Elmer. This is one of the best known, most popular and successful factories of the kind in the State. About 50,000 pounds of cheese will be made in 1882, and shipped as far west as Denver and Red Cliff, Col., and to Grand Island, Neb., to the north (see History of Oneida). Mrs. Elliott was Elizabeth Burnthrager, and she is the mother of eleven children. One son, Oris died December 1, 1882.

W. C. HAMLIN, of Hamlin & Roberts, druggists, is a native of St. Joseph County, Mich., and came to Nemaha County, Kan., from Nodaway County, Mo., where he had been in Mercantile business for several years. He began business at Oneida in 1879, firm of Hardy & Hamlin. This was dissolved and the before-mentioned firm established in the fall of 1880. Mr. H. E. Roberts was born and reared in Nodaway County, Mo.

GEORGE W. HEAD, proprietor of the 'Buckeye Livery Stable,' is a native of the 'Buckeye State,' born in 1847, in Huron County. He was five years a butcher in Monroeville, and came to Nemaha County, Kan., in 1875; engaged in farming here until 1880, when he bought of Wm. Bell the present J. Conlin stable in Oneida. The Buckeye stable, a model of its kind, was built in 1882. It is 36x60 feet, and in it are half a dozen elegantly matched and lively teams, with 'outfits' to correspond. Mr. Head has a 140-acre farm in Gilman Township, and is prosperous and popular. Has a wife and one child.

J. H. MAYHEW, merchant and postmaster, was born in 1856, in Perth County, Canada, where he was reared and educated. His parents and the family came to Centralia, Kan., in 1870, and soon after he struck out for himself by teaching school, and then going to St. Joseph, Mo., where he clerked in various mercantile houses and took a commercial school course. He began business in Oneida in April 1880, with a stock of hardware, in a 16x24 foot building, and in June 1881, built his present commodious store, 25x60 feet, where he has a large and complete line of hardware and furniture of all kinds, also the village postoffice, he having received the appointment as postmaster in November, 1881.

COL. CYRUS SHINN, the founder and presiding genius of Oeida, was born in 1826, in West Virginia, and reared and educated in Knox County, Ill., his father, Sampson Shinn, having located in 1834 on a farm near Galesburg, where he still lives. During the war Cyrus Shinn succeeded Col. Baker as recruiting officer, and from this is derived the title by which he is known all over the West. For over ten years he was in the real estate business in Gilman, Ill., with a branch office in Chicago a portion of the time. It was his lively advertising that first boomed Iroquois County. In 1878 he came to Oneida, where he had owned 400 acres of land since 1873. At this time he owned 2,500 acres in Nemaha County, and from this time a better idea can be obtained from Col. Shinn by referring to a sketch of his pet town, Oneida, for says he: "I am bound to boom the town if I don't make a cent." The Colonel has given every person in Oneida a free lot, and will do the same by all who come to build and stay permanently, and not sell liquor on the same. He is jolly, loquacious, bright and 'on the make;' like all stirring, progressive men, occasionally gets on someone's toes, and of course has enemies; yet, when it comes to doing anything, from making a speech to building a schoolhouse, the Colonel is always in demand. Oneida has never had a saloon fight or case for assault and battery since its foundation. Gilman Township in which Oneida is located, is the only township in the county that gave St. John a majority last fall.


What is now known as Old Corning, was situated one and one-half miles west of the present town of the same name. It was established as a Post-office in 1867, wit Dr. N. B. McKay as postmaster, and named in honor of Erastus Corning, of New York. N. B. McKay at tis time opened a general stock of merchandise, in a small frame building which he erected; and another store was soon after opened by W. H. Dixon, the two business houses, with one or two dwellings, being all there was of the place.

The present town of Corning is located on the Central Branch of the Union Pacific, about half way between Centralia and Wetmore. Its site was originally school land, bid in by Dr. N. B. McKay, who gave one-half section to the railroad in 1870, in consideration of its locating a station at that point. The first building was the store of Dr. N. B. McKay, removed from its former site; the second, a dwelling erected by J. S. Henry. Dr. McKay then built a small frame hotel, which he conducted for a year or two, since which time it has passed through various hands, its latest proprietor being T. J. Peters. In 1874 another store building, now occupied by M. T. Baker & Co., was erected by McKay, and during the few succeeding years, quite a number of dwelling houses and store buildings have been added to the settlement, the most of them being moved in from the surrounding farms and cross-roads.

The first religious exercises held in the new town, were conducted by Rev. J. S. Henry, a Baptist minister, who for a number of years preached the word of God to all sects; there being no attempt made by other denominations to institute services. No Baptist organization, however, was affected.

A Methodist Episcopal Society was organized in 1878, the schoolhouse being used as a place of worship. The original membership was twenty-six, the first minister, Rev. J. Biddison who retained the pastorate, in connection with other duties, until 1880. In the fall of 1879, a frame church edifice was erected, at a cost of $700. Succeeding Rev. J. Biddison, Rev. J. A. Amos and Rev. C. Holman have successively assumed the pastoral relation. The membership in 1882 is about seventy, and the church is in a fairly prosperous condition.

A Presbyterian Society was instituted in 1878, through the efforts of Rev. J. Todd, who retains the incumbency he assumed. The congregation make occasional use of the Methodist building.

In 1872 a small district schoolhouse was built, replaced by a larger one, at an expense of $800, in the fall of 1878. The first teacher was Minnie Bracken, the present one, N. H. Walters, who instructs a daily average of sixty pupils.

The first postmaster was Dr. N. B. McKay, appointed in 1870; succeeding him, the position has been filled successively by Thomas McKay, H. W. Hazen, Edward C. Dennett, Jacob Stiger and G. H. Johnson, the last named being the present incumbent.

Corning, in 1882, has two general stores, two grocery stores, one hardware, and one drug store; one hotel, one lumber yard, and various minor business industries. Its population is about one hundred.

[TOC] [part 20] [part 18] [Cutler's History]