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


[TOC] [part 11] [part 9] [Cutler's History]


Chanute is situated in the northwest part of Neosho County, at the crossing of the Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Kansas Railroad, by the Neosho Division of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. It is situated in the Neosho valley, famous for its fertility and beauty, and distant about one-half mile from the stream. The city is ten miles south of Humboldt, and twenty-six miles north of Parsons.

Chanute is the consolidation of four rival adjoining towns, which sprang into existence almost simultaneously. These were - New Chicago, Tioga, Chicago Junction and Alliance. New Chicago was laid out in May, and the plat was filed June 11, 1870. The land upon which it was situated was entered under the Joint Resolution of Congress of April 10, 1869, by G. R. Malcom, who received a patent for the same April 28, 1870. The tract is described as the west half of the southeast quarter, and the east half of the southwest quarter, of Section 21, Township 27, Range 18, and comprised 160 acres. After the land was patented to Malcom it was sold, in tracts, to T. C. Jones, S. W. Foster, J. A. Wells, J. D. Carpenter, W. Fisher, J. McCullough, C. H. Pratt, and others, for a town site. For the purpose of making the title clear, the several tracts were transferred to M. T. Jones, who deed back to each, in fee simple, his respective share. For a time the town made very slow progress. Although the M., K. & T. Railroad was already built and trains were running, yet there was no station at this place. In consequence of this, goods, etc., had to be brought from Humboldt by team, a distance often miles. The railroad company were prevailed upon to put in a switch and make this a station. This they did at the Junction, in the latter part of June, 1870, and in September of that year they erected a depot building. This enhanced the progress of the town very materially. It was organized as a village, under a board of trustees, who held their first meeting July 5, 1870, and T. C. Jones was chosen chairman.

About the same time with New Chicago, Alliance was laid off, adjoining it on the west, by John Cooper, and Chicago Junction, adjoining New Chicago on the north, was established by K. P. Stone. In these places, but little improvement was made. Wendell & Holmes built a hotel in the last-named place, which they afterward moved to New Chicago, and is now a part of the Occidental Hotel. In Tioga, however, New Chicago found her most potent rival. The site of Tioga, comprising an area of eighty acres, cornered with the site of New Chicago on the northwest, north of Alliance and west of Chicago Junction; and contiguous with both of these. The town company was composed of D. Rogers, S. E. Beach, P. D. Ridenour, A. L. Anderson, R. O. Prideaux, and S. K. Wickard. Here, then, were the two opposing towns, adjoining one another, on either side of the L. L. & C. railroad. The Neosho division of the M., K. & T. (now Missouri Pacific) railroad was built in December, 1870. This road crosses the K., C. L. & S. C. road at a point a short distance north of New Chicago, passing on the east side of the town, which thus lay in the angle formed by the intersection of the two roads. The L., L. & G. Company favored the town of Tioga, while the M., K. & T. Company assisted New Chicago. Under such powerful influences, both towns found much encouragement to prolong the contest for supremacy. It was clearly a case in which the fittest must survive, and each was bent upon its purpose, putting forth such means as would not only aid in the accomplishment of the desired result, but as well throwing obstacles in the way of its competitor.

Remarkable as an illustration of this, was the erection of a schoolhouse, and the building of the bridge across the Neosho River.

In the act of the Legislature authorizing the issue of bonds by the district for the erection of a school building, there was a section appointing M. T. Jones, T. F. Morgan, and G. C. Crowther, a committee to locate and purchase grounds for the school building, provided a majority of the people were in favor of issuing the bonds.

The bonds being carried, it fell upon the committee to fulfill their duty in accordance with the act of the Legislature. The members of the committee were all friends to New Chicago, and against Tioga. The scheme now was, to select such a location for the schoolhouse as would be least convenient for Tioga, by means of which to discourage its growth, and attract to the growth of New Chicago.

The site of the building was accordingly selected in the extreme south side of New Chicago, at a point farthest removed from Tioga, so as not to be inconvenient for New Chicago herself. Here a large and expensive building was erected, with an idea of permanence, so as to render its removal in the future extravagant and injudicious. A similar scheme was made use of in the building of the bridge across the Neosho River. It was the design of the people of New Chicago to have the bridge built as far down the river as possible, so as not to be at a disadvantage to themselves, and in order to place it in a position the most unfavorable to Tioga. in both instances the plan was eminently successful, bringing about, in due time, the results for which they were designed.

After about two years of the most bitter strife, an amnesty ensued, and, in 182-72, the towns were consolidated pursuant to a petition signed by 146 of the citizens in all of the four towns. The order was granted by Judge John R. Goodin, January 1, 1873. The name Chanute was given to the new town in honor of O. Chanute, Civil Engineer for the L., L., & G. Railroad. The motive of thus naming the town in honor of this gentleman, was not altogether unselfish, since it was done in order to assist in having the depot on the L., L, & G. Road brought from the Junction where it was built, to a point more convenient for the town. This little piece of stratagy (sic) and flattery to the importance of this individual worked admirably, and the wishes of the people were gratified, by the removal of the building in 1873.

As soon as it became certain that the junction of the two roads was to be made at this point, the idea became circulated that here was prospect for a large city, and, in consequence, the growth of both New Chicago and Tioga was extremely rapid, so that at the time of the union, there was a combined population of 800. After the consolidation of the towns took place, all the business houses that had been started in Tioga, were removed to New Chicago, which, therefore, principally constitutes the city of Chanute. The "hard times" of 1873 and '74, had the effect to check the growth of the town, and for several years it rather retrograded than increased. In 1878, however, it began to improve, and since that date, has made constant and substantial growth. The city now contains a population of 1,500, and enumerates many large and handsome buildings. The principal of these are, the Public School building, the Presbyterian and Methodist churches, Bailey & Co.'s Bank block, the Kramer & Payne block, Hysinger & Rosenthal's block, C. T. Ewing's block, including the Lindell Hotel, a large two-story store; and the Chanute Banking House, a two-story brick; Jeffrie's block, the Cross block, Winfield & Allen's block, Royster's Stone Elevator, the Chanute Mills, a three-story stone structure, and the handsome brick residence of M. Bailey, of the banking firm of Bailey & Co.

New Chicago, which is practically the city of Chanute, was organized as a village in the early summer of 1870. The first meeting of the Board of Trustees was held April 5, 1870, and T. C. Jones was made chairman. On March 17, 1871, it was incorporated as a city of the third class, and at the election of April 3, 1871, C. A. Dunakin was chosen Mayor.

The union of the four towns in 1872 brought about a new order of things, and Chanute became duly incorporated as a city of the third class January 1, 1873. The site of the city of Chanute comprises the original site of New Chicago of 160 acres, the forty acre tract of Alliance just west of it, the eighty acre tract of Tioga, north of Alliance, cornering with New Chicago on the northwest, and a tract of 160 acres, lying just north of the site of New Chicago, which included the site of the town established by K. P. Stone, called Chicago Junction, making total area in the site of Chanute of 440 acres. The city government is at present in charge of R. N. Allen, Mayor; J. A. Stevens, Clerk; Pl Hurt, Treasurer; C. F. Prange, Marshal; J. J. Howell, C. A. Dunakin, John A. Carter, W. J. Coulter, J. J. Denney, Councilmen. The New Chicago postoffice was established in 1870, with Mr. Moore, Postmaster. After the consolidation of the towns the name of the office was changed to Chanute. Mr. T. Jones succeeded Moore as Postmaster, and who in turn, was succeeded by J. B. Beatly, who has since held the office.


The first school was taught in New Chicago, in the winter of 1870 and was kept in a private building that was rented and fitted up for school purposes. The rapid increase in the school population soon demanded increased school facilities. In the early part of 1871 steps were taken looking to the erection of a school building. For this purpose the passage of an act of the Legislature was secured, authorizing the district (numbered two) to issue its bonds, provided it was the will of the majority of the legal voters of the district expressed at an election held for this purpose. In case the election resulted in favor of the issuance of the bonds, a committee of three men, who were named in the bill, was appointed to select and purchase grounds for the building. This committee was composed of M. T. Jones, T. F. Morgan, and G. C. Crowther. It was in this that a piece of sharp practice was indulged by the people of New Chicago, through these men, whom the Legislature had clothed (inadvertantly perhaps) with power to promote the interests of New Chicago, and to impede the advantages of Tioga, by the selection of a location for the building that would be least convenient for the latter place. When the people of Tioga came to a realization of what was done and the results that were to follow, they raised objection to the issuance of the bonds, claiming that the act authorizing them to be issued was unconstitutional. An injunction to restrain the issuing of the bonds was immediately sued out, but before the officer had time to serve the writ the bonds had been issued and placed in the hands of D. G. Himrod. In order to evade the service of the writ, Himrod secretly left town with the bonds, which he disposed of to innocent purchasers, thus placing them beyond the reach of the restraining process. The matter was contested in the District Court, from which it was taken to the Supreme Court, and finally terminated in favor of the legality of the bonds. The building was erected in 1871. It is a handsome, two story brick structure, containing four large school rooms, besides the other necessary apartments. The building cost $15,000 in the bonds of the district, all of which have been paid. The present enrollment is 274, comprising five departments - the high school, grammar school, intermediate, second intermediate, and primary. These are under a corps of five efficient teachers.

The Methodist Episcopal Church, was established June 28, 1871, by Rev. G. W. Pye. The first services were held in Larkin's Hall, in which the organization was effected. The church building was erected, in 1871, it is a one-story frame, 40x60 feet, and was dedicated December 30, 1871, by Rev. Thomas Bowman, D. D., of Asbury University. The present membership is about 175. A Sunday school was organized, soon after the congregation was formed, and M. S. Furnham was chosen superintendent. The present membership of the Sunday school is about 175. It is provided with a small library.

The Christian Church was organized August 8, 1882, by Rev. Kirk Baxter, with thirteen members. The organization took place in the Presbyterian Church, in which meetings are now held. T. T. Harding was appointed to act as elder in managing the church affairs. There is now a membership of fifteen.

Hector Lodge, No. 64, I. O. O. F., was instituted October 8, 1870, by Special Deputy, Dr. Bostwick, of Iola. The lodge began with six charter members, and now has a membership of forty-two. The first officers sere: D. G. Himrod, noble grand; G. W. Horton vice-grand; J. A. Stevens, secretary; Thomas Turner, treasurer. W. A. Cannon was the first district deputy, and representative to the Grand Lodge. A hall was erected in 1880. It is 40x60 feet, and cost $1,500. The present officers are: G. H. Brown, noble grand; J. E. Coulter, vice-grand; J. A. Stevens, secretary; J. C. Guss, treasurer.

Chanute Lodge, No. 889, of the K. of H. was instituted February 8, 1878, with eighteen members, by Dr. Howland, deputy grand dictator. The first officers were: D. G. Himrod, past dictator; D. K. Wickard, dictator; J. P. Cone, reporter; L. H. Johnson, treasurer. Meetings of the lodge are held in the Masonic Hall. since the institution of the lodge, there has been the loss of four members, by death. C. M. Aiken was killed by a train, near Chicago, Ill., in 1879; M. F. Halton, died in New York, in 1881; D. K. Wickard died, in April, 1882, and L. R. Phillips, died in August, 1882.

Cedar Lodge, No. 103, A., F. & A. M., was instituted October 19, 1871. The first officers were: D. G. Himrod, worshipful master; G. W. Reaves, senior warden; J. B. Patty, junior warden; J. P. Taylor, secretary; Frank Bacon, senior deacon; C. A. Dunakin, junior deacon; C. Sleight and W. J. Coulter, stewards; J. M. Mosely, tyler; Z. A. Eaton, T. L. Turner, S. H. Wright and S. R. Varney, master masons; T. K. McLean and J. W. McLean, fellow crafts; D. Turner, T. M. Wamsley and W. B. Winstead, entered apprentices. The lodge has a present membership of thirty-eight. The officers are: S. E. Beach, worshipful master; B. C. Clevenger, senior warden; L. Rosenthal, junior warden; W. J. Coulter treasurer; W. J. Kramer, secretary.

Chanute Lodge, No. 96, of the A. O. U. W., was instituted March 4, 1882. The lodge began with nineteen members and now has twenty-five. The first officers were: D. Long, past master workman; J. W. Locke, master workman; L. D. Johnston, foreman; E. L. Tillman, overseer; L. Rosenthal, recorder; C. Durham, financier; C. A. Dunakin, receiver. The lodge is now officered as follows: F. J. Jeffries, master workman; Dr. Bartle, treasurer; W. J. Coulter, overseer; Levi Rosenthal, recorder. The lodge holds its meetings in the Masonic Hall.

Tioga Lodge, No. 64, K. of P., was instituted in October, 1882. The officers elected were: John Guss, chancellor commander; W. J. Coulter, vice chancellor; J. Q. Manning, secretary; Dr. G. H. Brown, treasurer. The lodge has a membership of twenty-six, and holds its meetings in the Odd Fellows Hall.


The New Chicago Transcript was established September 23, 1870, by George C. Crowther. The publication of the paper was continued at this place, up to April 30, 1872, at which time it was taken to Osage Mission.

The Tioga Herald was begun in May, 1871, by S. D. Rich, who managed the paper in the interests of the Tioga Town Company, to whom it belonged. After running a short time, Rich was succeeded in the editorial chair by Mr. Haines. The issue of the paper was suspended in October, 1872.

The New Chicago Times was established by A. L. Rivers, October 19,1872. With the change of the name of the town the name of the paper was also changed, and on the 11th of January, 1873, appeared under the name of the Chanute Times. When first started it was a seven-column folio, and on April 15, 1880, was enlarged to an eight-column folio. It is Republican in politics, and has a circulation of 650 copies.

The Chanute Democrat was established in February, 1879, by Bowen & Hite. After running the paper about four months, Hite sold out to Bowen, who continued in its publication up to May, 1882. It was then purchased by J. R. Detwiler, and the name changed to that of the Chanute Chronicle. At the time of the purchase the circulation was 432 copies; it is now 840. The sheet is an eight-column folio, Republican in politics.

The Chanute Flouring Mills were built, July 22, 1873, by J. B. Beatty. They afterward fell into the hands of A. Aikens & Son, who continued to operate them for a short time. After passing through several unfortunate ownerships they became the property of Harter & Stump by purchase, in 1879, who have since continued in the ownership and successful operation. The mill building is a massive stone structure, 40x 50 feet, in dimensions, and four stories high, including the basement story. There are four run of stone, having a capacity for grinding 100 barrels of flour and 16,000 pounds of meal per day. The power is a one hundred and ten horse-power engine. J. E. Plummer is the engineer, by whom the engine machinery was set up. The engine house is a one-story building, 36 feet long by 28 feet wide, and is built of stone. The machinery of the mill is in fine working condition, and the operation of the concern sustains an active and prosperous business.

The City Mills and Elevator were started, in 1879, by the firm of Williams & Alcock. After running about two years, Williams sold out his interest in the concern to his partner, W. B. Alcock & Sons. It contains three run of stone, two for wheat and one for corn, from which may be turned out fifty barrels of flour and 100 barrels of corn meal per day. The mill building is a 30x40 frame, three stories and a half high, including the basement. A corn sheller was put in when the mill was built, and has a shelling capacity of 2,000 bushels of corn per day. The power is a forty horse-power engine. An additional buhr and purifier are soon to be added to the mill machinery. A lively and profitable business is sustained in connection with the operation of the establishment, a large demand being made upon the goods manufactured, for which there is found a market mainly in Kansas and Texas.

Chanute at present contains 4 drug stores, 7 dry goods stores, 8 groceries, 3 lumber yards, 4 grain elevators, 2 bands, 5 hotels, 4 restaurants, 2 harness shops, 4 hardware stores, 2 jewelry stores, 3 millinery stores, 3 meat markets, blacksmith, wagon, carpenter shops, etc. The city is surrounded by a fine farming country, which, with the addition of two lines of railroad, and being removed considerable distances from other important towns, thus affording it the advantage of an extensive country trade, gives it promise of increased size and prosperity.

[TOC] [part 11] [part 9] [Cutler's History]