produced this selection.

William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas
was first published in 1883 by A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL.


Location | Map of Ness County | Early History | Towns | County Organization | The Press, Societies, School Statistics, Etc.


Ness County was created and named by an act of the Legislature of 1867. Its area then was 900 square miles. In 1873 the boundaries of the county were enlarged so as to include an area of 1,080 square miles. The county was named after Noah V. Ness, Corporal of Company G, Kansas Cavalry, who died of wounds received in battle at Abbeyville, Miss., August 11, 1864.



Ness County did not settle very rapidly at first, but is few early residents were ambitious and enterprising, and very anxious to secure a county organization. In 1873, on the claim that the county had, by the Assessor's returns, 600 inhabitants, a petition for an organization was sent to the Governor. The county was organized October 23, 1873, O. H. Perry, Thomas Myers and John Rogers being appointed Special County Commissioners, and Charles McGuire, Special County Clerk.

At the State election held November 4, 1873, S. G. Rodgers was elected a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, having received 263 votes, as appears from the vote returned to the office of Secretary of State Smallwood. Ness County was represented in the Legislature from January 13 to February 13, 1874. On the 3d of February, 1874, Hon. H. J. McGaffigan, the Representative from Ellis County, offered the following resolution, which was adopted, and the papers in the case were referred to the House Committee on Elections, of which Hon. C. B. Mason, of Franklin, was Chairman:

Resolved, That a special committee of three be appointed to inquire into the organization of Ness County, and that said committee be authorized to administer oaths, send for persons and papers, and to visit Ness County if deemed necessary, for the prosecution of this inquiry.

The Committee reported August 17, that, in their opinion, as there were not 250 legal voters in the county at the time of the last general election, S. G. Rodgers was not entitled to a seat in the Legislature.

Smallwood City was then the temporary county seat of Ness County. One John E. Farnsworth made affidavit, January 7, 1874, that, on November 4, 1873, the poll-books at Smallwood City showed that forty-eight votes had been cast there on the day of election; that he thought there were but fourteen legal voters in Ness County who had resided in the county thirty days or more; that he took a census of all the inhabitants on December 22 and 23, 1874, and found the number of men, women and children not over 140. Mr. Farnsworth took the census of the county in January, 1874, and ascertained that the total population reached but seventy-nine. Thereupon twenty of the citizens of the county petitioned Gov. Osborn, for reasons coming within the range of law, to disorganize the county. The petition was at once complied with.

In 1878, in the time intervening between January, 1874, the date of the disorganization of the county, and its re-organization, April 14, 1880, Alfred Page was appointed by Gov. George T. Anthony, Notary Public of the county, his commission bearing date June 28, of that year.

The first death of an adult occurring in Ness County is said to have been that of Mrs. Luella Manderville, wife of J. H. Manderville, who died November 9, 1879. She was the daughter of N. A. Peckham, one of the oldest settlers of the county, and was the first white woman who had settled west of the forks of the Walnut.

Though numbering the seventy-ninth in the order of the eighty-one organized counties of Kansas, yet there are only sixty-nine counties that have a larger number of organized school districts.

J. W. Miller, who was the Deputy County Superintendent of Public Instruction, while Ness County was unorganized, organized twenty-two school districts during the year 1879.

Henry J. Bell, B. H. Crosthwait, Philip E. Dimick, Lucy A. Forbes, Tennie M. Forbes, Emma A. Kellogg, George S. Redd and John F. West were among the early teachers of the county.

Five organizations of the Methodist Episcopalians are now reported from Ness County, with a membership of sixty; three of the Church of Disciples, membership 450; Roman Catholic, one, membership fifty; Presbyterian, one, membership fifteen. As yet there are but few church edifices.


Ness City, the county seat, was surveyed October 22, 1878, by Richard Dighton. It is situated on Walnut Creek, a short distance south of the geographical center of the county. An important addition was made to the town by John Stephens, in 1880. It now contains one general store, a post office, hotel, land office, wagon shop, blacksmith and other shops and is a busy town.

Clarinda was located on the northeast quarter of Section 24, Town 18, Range 24. It was surveyed March 25, 1879, by Thomas R. Peck, Surveyor of Trego County.

Sidney was laid out north of the junction of the South Fork with the main Walnut, June 6, 1879. The Sidney Town Company was organized in July, 1879; E. M. Bill was President; R. B. Linville, Vice President; H. S. Bell, Secretary; A. F. Gardner, Treasurer.


November 3, 1879, Ness City petitioned for county organization, with that place as temporary county seat, and about the 20th of the same month there was filed in the office of Gov. John R. St. John a memorial asking for the organization of the county, the appointment of N. C. Merrill to take the census, and the designation of Ness City as the temporary county seat.

At Sidney, also, a committee was organized November 20, 1879, for the purpose of organizing the county, of which J. P. Johnson was chairman, and Levi Hilligos, R. J. McFarland and Samuel A. Smith, members. At a meeting held at the same place, January 26, 1880, the following gentlemen were recommended for appointment as County Commissioners: J. E. sic Farnsworth, in the east part of the county; Frederic B. Caldwell in the central, and L. Weston in the western part. A. M. Kelson was recommended as County Clerk.

On the 14th of April, 1880, Gov. St. John, after receiving a petition signed by two hundred and fifty citizens of the county, issued a proclamation, re-organizing the county, appointed and commissioned John F. sic Farnsworth, L. Weston and L. E. Knowles, County Commissioners, and James H. Elting, County Clerk, and designated Sidney as the temporary county seat.

The Commissioners and Clerk met at Sidney, April 23, 1880, and proceeded to qualify, the Commissioners organizing by making choice of L. Weston as Chairman of the Board. The board divided the county into Commissioner Districts, and into nine municipal townships of equal areas, each containing 120 square miles, being ten miles from north to south, and twelve miles from east to west.

The Commissioners selected June 1, 1880, as the day for holding an election to locate the county seat and elect the necessary county officers.

June 4, 1880, a canvass of the vote of this election showed the following named persons elected: James H. Elting, County Clerk; B. F. Garrett, County Treasurer; J. A. Taylor, Register of Deeds; Gilmore Kinney, Sheriff; Dr. B. H. Crosthwaite, Coroner; L. E. Knowles, County Surveyor; F. A. Goodrich, County Superintendent of Public Instruction; Cyrus Corning, County Attorney; N. W. Shaw, Clerk of the District Court; J. K. Barnd, Probate Judge; John S. Lightner, William Harding, and Samuel C. Kagrice, County Commissioners. The county seat was located at Ness City. Since then there have been no changes in the office of County Clerk, Surveyor and Probate Judge. D. C. Abel succeeded Dr. Crosthwaite as Coroner; R. I. McFarland followed B. F. Garrett as County Treasurer. N. G. Carpenter was the successor of F. A. Goodrich as County Superintendent. In the office of County Commissioner, Ross Lawrence succeeded Mr. Lightner; Jacob B. Spidell, Mr. Harding; W. A. Ogden, Mr. Kagrice; George F. Johnson, Mr. Ogden. In the office of Sheriff, Mr. Kinney was succeeded by F. B. Caldwell; P. E. Frayer succeeded Mr. Caldwell; O. H. Laraway succeeded Mr. Taylor as Register of Deeds; Mr. Laraway was followed by D. Furgeson. In the office of County Attorney, George S. Redd succeeded Mr. Corning; Samuel A. Smith was the successor of Mr. Redd. In the office of Clerk of the District Court, the occupants have been N. W. Shaw, R. J. McFarland, C. P. Lynn and S. G. Sheaffor. In the State Senate of 1881, J. C. Strang of Pawnee County, was its Senator; Horatio Gates, its representative. In the Senate of 1883, Simon Motz, of Ellis, is its Senator; J. N. Venard, its Representative. By the apportionment act of 1881, Ness County is the One Hundred and Twentieth Representative District; it is part of the Thirty-fifth Senatorial District.

The vote cast in the county in 1880, was 537; in 1881, it was 513; in 1882 it was 487. Its Presidential vote in 1880 was: Garfield, 315; Hancock, 129; Weaver, 91. Its gubernatorial vote in 1882 was St. John, 268; Glick, 57; Robinson 173. The census enumerators of 1880 were John Farnsworth, H. C. Haydock, J. P. Johnson and J. G. Seltzer.


The Ness County Pioneer was started at Clarinda May 10, 1879, F. Shelden, editor; Henry S. Bell, local editor. On September 29, 1879, it was removed to Sidney, and later to Ness City.

The Ness City Times was established at Ness City in January, 1880, John F. Wood, editor and proprietor.

Walnut Valley Times.--This paper was started October 1, 1879, N. C. Merrill, editor. It was removed to Ness City, in January, 1880, and John F. Wood became editor.

The Advance, which was established at Clarinda by F. Shelden, is now conducted by Joseph Langellier, at Sidney.

Walnut Valley Lodge, No. 1, A., F. & A. M.--The officers of this lodge were installed by Special Deputy Grand Master W. J. Pickering, of Great Bend, January 13, 1880. The officers were J. P. Johnson, W.M.; E. M. Bell, Treasurer; R. B. Sinville, Secretary; William Harding, S. W.; J. W. Brown, J. W.; J. J. Wilson, S. D.; C. A. Lawson, J. D.; S. A. Smith, Tiler.

Empire Lodge, No. 169, I. O. of O. F.--Reason Wolverton, N. G.; Natban sic F. Wolverton, Secretary.

Washington Lodge, No. 191, was organized at Sidney. J. S. Burns, W. G.; J. W. Brown, W. S.

Nevada Lodge, Good Templars, was organized by J. W. Reeder, November 5, 1879, with twenty-one charter members. A. W. Reeder, W. C. T,

The Clarinda Farmers' Alliance is an organization in Ness County.

In 1880 there were 25 organized school districts; in 1881, 34; in 1882, 40. The value of the school property for 1880 was $550; in 1882, it was $2,990. In 1880, there were 408 children of school age; in 1881, 676; in 1882, 1,008. The semi-annual dividends for 1881 amounted to $322.42; for 1882, $527.28. The number of pupils enrolled in the public schools for 1880, was 309; in 1881, 322; in 1882, 580. The number of teachers employed in the county for 1880, was 14; for 1881, 20; for 1882, 26. The total school expenditures for 1880, amounted to $324; for 1881, $430.90; for 1882, $3,341.56.

In 1882, there were 5,671 acres in broom corn, in Ness County, 4,988 acres in sorghum; 4,346 acres in corn; 2,053 in winter wheat; 68 in spring wheat; 289 in Irish potatoes; 143 in rye; 55 in oats; 38 in castor beans. The wool clip of 1881 was 4,365 pounds. In 1881, its cheese product was 500 pounds; in 1882, it was 6,016; there there were 61,894 pounds of butter in 1881; in 1882, 91,852 pounds. In 1882, Ness County had 1,947 horses; 251 mules; 1,966 milch cows; 2,684 other neat cattle; 2,565 swine; 2,916 sheep, being an increase in sheep, in one year of 2,538.

The assessed valuation of the taxable property of the county in 1881, was $126,156.27; in 1882 it was $204,597.86. The total levy for State taxes from the county for 1882, was $920.69. November 1, 1880, Noah Chenoweth paid the first tax in Ness County, and received the first tax receipt from Treasurer McFarland. It amounted to $54.40.

In the returns for winter wheat for 1882, Ness County reported good yields, as follows: M. C. Kitrie, Vansburgh, 100 acres, 25 bushels per acre; J. W. Clawson, Schoharie, 8 acres, 27 bushels per acre; J. Ross, Newby, 10 acres, 30 bushels per acre.

[TOC] [Cutler's History]