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


[TOC] [part 17] [part 15] [Cutler's History]


This is a thriving little town with a population of about 150. It is pleasantly situated on the level valley lands, south of the Marais des Cygnes River, and west of Coal Creek, on the south half of Section 16, Township 18, Range 14 east. It has three stores, one hotel, one blacksmith and wagon shop, a post-office, two churches and a schoolhouse. Its citizens are intelligent and enterprising. Though small, the village has always been a thriving one. Arvonia was surveyed and plated in 1869, by a company of Welsh people who had formed a colony, with J. Mather Jones as their leader, and formed a settlement at and around the town site. Among the leading men of the colony were J. A. Whitaker, of Chicago, a partner of Jones, John Rees, John Nai Jones, L. Humphrey, Evan Evans, David Lloyd Davis, and Rev. J. M. Barrows. The village soon grew to fully its present size. A few stores were opened, the first being one for the sale of general merchandise by A. Humphrey, and a hardware store by Burton & Johnson. A school was opened in a private house; religious services were held regularly, and a steam saw-mill was erected on the river north of the village. A post-office was established, and A. Humphrey appointed postmaster. Early in the history of the village, a large schoolhouse was erected, and the first term of school taught there by Mrs. Lavina Cottrell.

When the town was started, it was supposed that a railroad would soon be built up the Marais des Cygnes valley, and when this failed, a few of the leaders, who had expected a large town to spring up, became disheartened and left the country. Among these were J. Mather Jones, and J. A. Whitaker, who had invested largely in property, expecting it to rapidly increase in value. The mill was also abandoned. The town is in an excellent location being surrounded by a thrifty class of farmers. Not far from the village are several cheese factories, and a great deal of attention is given to the dairy business. North of the town site a large bridge spans the river.

Churches. There are three church organizations: The Welsh Congregational, Welsh Calvinistic Methodist, and a Congregational Church, composed of Americans. The first two named societies have neat and substantial houses of worship.


JAMES T. COWDEN, farmer, Section 12, P. O. Reading, was born in Warren County, Ky., February, 22, 1829; is a son of Rieves and Mary Prunty Cowden, and the grandson of James Cowden, Lucy Rieves, Thomas Prunty and Sarah Rieves. When but seven years of age he moved to Illinois, where he remained until 1868 when he came to this State, settling first in Douglas County, and again, later, purchased a farm in Arvonia Township, and has since made his home there. He owns 260 acres, and not a foot of it was under cultivation until he put in the plow. Now he has 130 acres under cultivation. He enlisted December, 1864, in Company B, One Hundred and Fiftieth Illinois Infantry, and did provost duty, and was discharged January 16, 1866. He was married in McLean County, Ill., October 17, 1859, to Miss Mary E., daughter of James and Maria H. Hunter Standiferd. They have six children: James William, born April 17, 1862; Matilda F., born December 20, 1864; Charles T., born December 5, 1866; George E., born October 17, 1869; Allie Ann, born September 5, 1872; and Lizzie May, born January 26, 1876. Mr. Cowden is a member of Reading, Lodge No. 201, I. O. O. F.

JOHN J. DAVIS, farmer, Section 13, P. O. Arvonia, was born in Wales. Is a son of David and Mary Davis. He was brought up in Wales and came to the United States in 1865. Settled in Pittsburg where he was engaged in masonry and bricklaying and other work. In 1870 he came to Kansas and settled in Arvonia Township. He owns 100 acres, improved. He was married in Burlington, Coffey Co., Kan., June 22, 1873, to Miss Annie, daughter of John R. and Mary Morris Jones. They have five children: Anna, born October 16, 1875, William, born, March 1, 1877, Gladys, born September 3, 1878, Miriam, born July 6, 1880, and David, born January 17, 1883.

WILLIAM O. DAVIES, farmer, Section 2, P. O. Reading. Born in Demlighshire, Wales, October 4, 1884. Son of John O. and Mary Davies, and grandson of Thomas and William Davies. He was brought up in Wales, and was educated in the common school, and Hull Academy. He came to the United States in 1868 and settled near St. Joseph, Mo., and the following year he came on his farm in Arvonia Township, which he improved. He makes corn his principal crop. The deep rich soil of his farm being well adapted for that purpose. He was married in Wales March 11, 1870, to Miss Ann J., daughter of Thomas Owen. They have two children - Blanche Ellen, born July 21, 1875, and Rice, born June 10, 1881. Mr. Davies is a Master Mason and an Odd Fellow. He is a District Deputy Grand Master among the Odd Fellows.

WILLIAM A. JONES, farmer, Section 26, P. O. Arvonia; was born March 22, 1847, in Oneida County, N. Y.; is a son of William Jones and his wife, Ellen Roberts. In 1853 his parents moved to a Aurora, Ill., where he was brought up and learned the trade of machinist, and worked in the shops of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company fourteen years. He came to Kansas in 1877; settled in Arvonia Township; owns 320 acres, which he has improved, having good stock, etc., around him. He was married in, Aurora, Ill., March 22, 1869 to Miss Althea, daughter of Daniel B. and Terressa J. Emmons Nichols. They have six children - Frank E., born November 14, 1869; Jessie T., born February 27, 1872; Arthur LeRoy, born October 24, 1874; Leon A., born July 18, 1877; Fred L., born July 14, 1880; Viola H. M., born February 24, 1883. Mr. Jones is an Odd Fellow.

HOROTIO G. LANDIS, farmer, Section 12, P. O. Reading; was born in Montgomery County, Ohio, December 4, 1841; is a son of Jacob and Elizabeth Gesler Landis. He was brought up on a farm, and educated in the common school. He lived for a time in Illinois; enlisted October, 1861, in Company K, Twenty-sixth Regiment Illinois Infantry, and took part in the engagements at New Madrid, Corinth, Jackson (Miss), Missionary Ridge, Vicksburg, and Atlanta, where he was wounded. He was discharged May 27, 1865. He came to this State in 1870, and settled in Arvonia Township; owns 185 acres, which he has improved. He was married, September 20, 1866, in McLean County, Illinois, to Miss Margaret F. Standiferd, a sister of Mrs. Cowden. Mrs. Landis is an excellent farmer having descended from the Landis family in Pennsylvania, among whom there can be found no better farmers in the world.

MAX MORTON, farmer, Section 12, P. O. Arvonia; born in Wurtemburg, Germany, January 19, 1829; son of Earhard Morton and Catharine Gaiser. He lived in Germany until 1857, when he came to the United States, and settled in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, and engaged in farming. He not only showed his patriotism, but the fact that he had become an American citizen, by enlisting, in 1862, in Company B; Seventeenth Michigan Infantry for three years, or during the war. He was in the following engagements: South Mountain and Antietam, where he was severely wounded in the knee, and was discharged in 1863 for disability from the wound. He was married, in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, August 12, 1862, to Miss Fannie E. Sprague. They have five children - Frances, Seymour, Kate, Claude and Maud, twins. Mr. Morton is a prosperous farmer; owns a fine farm in Arvonia Township, on which he moved in 1870, and everything around his farm indicates comfort and thrift.

JOHN REES, P. O. Arvonia, Osage County; was born near Conway, Wales, December 21, 1822. Is a son of Edward and Jane Roberts Rees, and is a descendant of Rhys, Ab Arthur, Ab Ivan, etc., according to the Welsh way of tracing descent. The family have adopted the English custom of having a surname Rees (Rhys). He came to the United States in 1842; settled in New York City, and Brooklyn, where he carried on a dry goods store for many years. He was married, in New York City, in April, 1849, to Miss Elizabeth Mills. His wife dying in 1869, he moved to Kansas, joining with J. Mather Jones and James A. Whitaker in starting the settlement of Arvonia, where he became agent for the sale of several tracts of land in the vicinity. In September, 1870, he married Margaret J. Williams, a widow, daughter of David Jenkins. He started the coal stripping in Arvonia that have since grown to such large proportions. In 1879 his wife opened a millinery and fancy store, which, upon being extended into general merchandise, increased the business so as to required his chief attention. He is still engaged in mercantile, coal operating, and stock-raising, employing many men. He has seven children - Arthur W., Martha J., Taliesin W., living in Brooklyn; Owain, living in Missouri; Dewi, living in Burlingame; Ellen and Catharine A., living at home. His step-children are William and Mary Williams. He is an Odd Fellow.


Melvern is situated on a broad and level plateau, on the south side of the Marais des Cygnes River, between it and Long Creek, with the level bottom lands of these streams coming up to the town site on three sides. The town has a population of about two hundred, contains a few business houses, all of which enjoy a good trade, as this is in the midst of a fertile and well settled agricultural country. The first settlement in the vicinity of Melvern was that of Timothy Newton and Maj. E. C. Newton, who located with their families, at the confluence of the Long and Kedron creeks, on August 19, 1868. Within a few weeks they were followed by William Phillips, Jonathan Smith with his two sons, Caleb and Sylvester. These all located before the land was vacated by the Indians. Among those to locate claims early in 1869, were William Harriman, James Decker, S. C. Gilliland, S. B. Enderton, Henry Judd, J. Duffield, Charles Judd and George Francis. As soon as the land was vacated by the Indians, the township was settled rapidly. In the summer of 1870, it was decided to lay out a town. Therefore a Town Company was formed, consisting of S. B. Enderton, Charles Cochran, for the reason that his birthplace was at Malvern Hills, Scotland. As soon as strated (sic) the town began to grow quite fast, on account of the rapid settlement of the township and the fact that a railroad was expected to be built soon, up the Marais des Cygnes valley.

Some First Things. The first birth was that of Thomas M., son of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Beck, in 1870. The first marriage was that of O. B. Hastings and Cecilia Wallace. The first death was that of Mary A. Huffman.

The first school was taught in 1870, by Miss Anna Want, in Oscar Beck's loghouse. The schoolhouse was not erected until about two years after. It is two stories high and built of stone. The first sermon was preached in Wilson's Grove, before the survey of the town, by Rev. William Robertson. The post-office was established in 1870, and J. W. Beck appointed postmaster. In 1871, a flouring-mill was built by Asher Smith, on the river, on the northern limits of the town. The first store was opened in 1870, by Cochran & Warner. The first and only suicide was that of Miss Mattie Knight, in May, 1881.

Later History. During its earlier history, the town grew to nearly its present size, when failing to secure a railroad, it suddenly came to a standstill, and improved but little until 1882, when a few more buildings, including a Methodist Episcopal Church, were erected.

Churches. During the earliest years of settlement, church societies were organized, and have since been kept up, though only one church has been built. The church societies are the Presbyterian, Methodist Episcopal, Baptist and Advents. Just outside the limits of the town are two iron wagon bridges, one built in 1878, across the Marais des Cygnes; the other in 1881, across Long Creek. The first is a one hundred feet span, the other, ninety feet.

Cyclone. June 12, 1881, a terrible cyclone swept down the north side of the Marais des Cygnes River. It was a half mile in width, and leveled every thing in its path. Besides the great damage to drops and buildings, John Harper and David C. Rosencrantz were killed.


THOMAS BAXTER, merchant and farmer, was born in Canada, August 19, 1842, son of William Baxter and Margaret Jones. He was brought up in Canada, and educated in the public schools and at London Commercial College. He came to the United States in 1865, settled in Chicago, taking a clerkship in a store, and in 1870 he came to this State and settled in Ottawa, where he remained two years, and then moved to Melvern and opened a general store, carries a stock of $3,500, and has a good trade. He also owns 332 acres of land which he has improved. Employs three hands, and thus joins the two together, the farm and the store. He was married April 9, 1866, in London, Ontario, to Miss Lista C., daughter of Samuel Lewis. They have four children - Lista L., Warren L., Thomas P. and Eva M. Mr. Baxter is a Master Mason.

JAMES W. BECK, dentist, was born in Clarke County, Va., December 8, 1836; is a son of James W. Beck and Nancy J. Beck, his wife. He lived in Virginia until he was sixteen years old. He began the study of medicine, his father being a physician, but owning to ill health gave up his studies. When the Government called for men in 1861, to put down the Rebellion, he offered his services, and was enlisted August 24, in Company E, Eleventh Michigan Infantry, and took part in the following engagements; Stone River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Buzzard Roost, Resaca, Altona, Kennesaw Mountain, and Atlanta; besides many skirmishes, and was discharged September 30, 1864, having served the full term for which he enlisted. He was taken prisoner at Stone River, sent to Richmond and confined in Castle Thunder and Libby prison, was held prisoner only thirty-five days, but short as the time was, it came near costing him his life. He studied dentistry under Dr. W. J. Newton, of Ottawa, and opened an office at Melvern in the winter of 1878-79. He was one of the first white settlers where Melvern now stands, and could tell many an interesting story of the Indians.

S. B. ENDERTON does a loan and real estate business, and is half owner of the Melvern Record, came to Kansas in 1857, locating in Centropolis, Franklin County. He assisted in improving the lands of the Sauk and Fox reservations. In 1862 he enlisted in Company E, Eleventh Kansas. He was with that regiment in all its many engagements. In 1868 he raised, in Franklin County, a company for the Nineteenth United States Cavalry. He came to Osage County in 1868; was elected Register of Deeds in 1875, served until 1879, then went into the loan business in Lyndon, which he prosecuted until removing to Melvern, in 1882. He is a member of Euclid lodge, A., F. & A. M., No. 101.

ALBERT G. TULLER, farmer, Section 19, P. O. Melvern, was born, January 26, 1841, in Whiteside County, Ill., is a son of Jonathan A. Tuller and Harriet M. Tuller. His grandparents were, on his father's side, Elam Tuller and Eunicia Eno, and on his mother's side, Simeon and Lucina Fuller. Mr. Tuller was brought up in his native county, and was educated in the common schools, and at Bryant & Stratton's Business College in Chicago. He graduated in 1867, and engaged in the grocery business in Morrison, Ill., and in 1870 he came to the State and settled in Melvern Township. He owns a farm containing 300 acres, which he has improved with good buildings, etc. Mr. Tuller was married in Lawrence, Kansas, March 31, 1870, to Miss Nellie M., daughter of John Whitcraft. They have had two children, viz.: John A., born October 15, 1871 and died August 27, 1872, and Helen E. Tuller, born May 17, 1874. They are members of the Methodist Church. Mr. Tuller is a member of Olivet Lodge, No. 22, A., F. & A. M.

HENRY JUDD, farmer, Section 16, P. O. Melvern, was born August 12, 1837, in Hartford, Conn. He is a son of Charles C. Judd and Ester Baldwin. The Judd family are of English origin, and the Baldwin family are of German extraction. Mr. Judd moved with his parents to Sterling, Ill., where he received a good education. In 1856, he came to Kansas and settled in Topeka and took his share in the border troubles. He purchased a farm in Melvern township, containing 560 acres, which he has improved from the raw prairie, having resided there since 1868. For some time he had to live with poor accommodations, as nearly all pioneers have to do; but in 1880 he erected a substantial and comfortable house at a cost of $1,200. He was married at Topeka, in May, 1860, to Miss Anna, daughter of William and Hannah Murphy Hunt. They have two daughters - Alfreda, born July 13, 1862; and is engaged most to the time in teaching school; and Henrietta, born April 17, 1868. Mr. Judd was in the settlers department during the late war in connection with the Second Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry.

WILLIAM B. MAYES, farmer, Section 4, Township 18, Range 16 east, P. O. Melvern, Kan.; was born in Simpson County, Ky., September 26, 1813; is a son of George P. Mayes, and his wife Jane Headen. George P. Mayes was the son of William Mayes and Margaret Park, who were of Irish descent, one from County Down, and the other from County Dary. Sarah E. Mayes, wife of William B. Mayes, was born in Montgomery County, Ind., March 24, 1834; was the daughter of Gabriel Mitchel and Ruth VanCleave. W. B. Mayes was brought up on a farm and educated in a country school. Schools at that early day were on a subscription basis, there being no free schools. When he was twenty-two years of age he emigrated to Pike County, Ill., where he lived eighteen years, and then moved to Peoria County, where he lived until 1861, then moved to Henry County and remained there until 1871, then emigrated to Kansas in 1871, settling in Osage County. He owns 360 acres of land in Melvern township, 200 acres in cultivation, the balance in pasture. In 1882 he laid out an addition to the village of Melyers, known as Mayes' Addition to Melvern, consisting of eight blocks fronting on Maine Street and Emporia Avenue, the two principal streets. William B. Mayes and his wife were married March 22, 1855, in Peoria County, Ill. They have the following children - William B., born July 24, 1857; Eber D., born December 6, 1858; Ruth E., born May 12, 1860; George G., born May 13, 1862; Gabriel M. born January 22, 1864, died September 1, 1871; Maggie I., born June 7, 1866; Daniel I., born August 7, 1871; Stephen S., born August 22, 1874.

JOHN MORRISON, proprietor of the Melvern House, was born in Perry County, Pa., October 14, 1836, and is of Scotch and French blood. He was educated at the Denmark Academy, Fairfield University and Normal School of Oskaloosa, in the State of Iowa, having attended these Institutions five years in the aggregate, paying his way by his own labor. He came to Kansas in 1872 and engaged in teaching, a profession, which he had followed for several years previous to coming to Kansas. He taught as principal in several of the large towns of Iowa and Illinois. For several years he has worked in real estate and mercantile business. He opened the Melvern House in October, 1882. Mr. Morrison is the author of a number of poems, and has written and delivered lectures on educational subjects. He competed for a prize in advocacy of H. R. Helper's Three America's Railway Scheme, and was marked third in the list; yet his poem possesses great merit. He was married in West Point, Lee Co., Iowa, June 2,5 1865, to Miss Margaret A. Woodman, daughter of John Woodman, Esq. They have five children - Florence, born September 2, 1866; Bessie, born December 24, 1869; Belle, born March 10, 1873; John W., born October 11, 1875 and Ralph E., born January 18, 1882. Mr. Morrison has served as Justice of the Peace. He is an entered apprentice Mason.

ZACH. THOMAS, farmer, Section 18, P. O. Melvern; was born November 22, 1842, in England, and descended from William Thomas and Mary Moore, James Williams and Jane Sinock who also come from William Thomas, Jane Gindray, John Williams and Isabella his wife. He is the son of John Thomas and Hannah Williams. He came to the United States in 1849; settled in New Jersey and afterwards moved to Wisconsin. He was also in Clarke County, Iowa five years. In 1879 he came to this State and settled in Osage County; owns 160 acres, seventy-five acres of which are under the plow. Enlisted August, 1862, in Company C, Twenty-fifth Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. Was in the campaign against the Sioux Indians in Minnesota, in the fall and winter of 1862. Thence down the Mississippi in Grant's campaign against Vicksburg, where the Regiment was reduced by sickness to a mere skeleton. From about the 1st of August, 1863, to about February 1, 1864, remained at Helena, Ark., then with Sherman on his campaign to Meridian, Miss.; then back to Vicksburg; then up the river to Decatur, Ala., with many a chase after Forrest while en route from Decatur, Ala., to Chattanooga, Tenn; thence with Sherman all through his Atlanta campaign. Was wounded July 22, 1864 (the day McPherson was killed.) After Atlanta was taken, went through the campaign to Savannah, Ga.; also on the march through the Carolinas after the surrender of Johnston's army near Raleigh, N. C., and participated in the grand review at Washington. Was discharged at Madison County, June 27, 1865. He was married in Grant County, Wis., September 16, 1868, to Miss Jane, daughter of Henry and Hannah M. Riley Marsden. They have four children - John Z., born October 26, 1869; Henry M., born March 29, 1872; Amy A., born November 22, 1875; and Hannah M., born April 12, 1879. Mr. Thomas is a member of the Methodist Church.

L. F. WARNER, merchant and postmaster, came to Kansas in 1860, and located in Coffey County; farmed there six years, and removed to Osage County and farmed there until 1870, when he opened a store where the town of Melvern now is. He built his present commodious store-building in 1882, which is 25x60 feet, the upper story being used for a society hall. He carries a stock of $4,000; and the trade will reach $20,000. His son, Chester M., is now in partnership with his father. Mr. Warner was born in Tolland County, Conn., September 14, 1832. Remained there until twenty-two years of age, and learned the trade of silver plating. In December, 1855, he located in McLean County, Ill., where he remained until the spring of 1860. He was married in 1855, in Worcester, Mass., to Miss S. A. Bean, of Maine. They have one son - Chester M. Mr. Warner is a member of the Presbyterian Church and a member of Olivet Lodge, No. 22, A., F. & A. M. He has been Township Treasurer of Melvern Township for several years.

[TOC] [part 17] [part 15] [Cutler's History]