DAVE LEEBRICK produced this selection.

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


PART 1: Topography and Geology | Map and Population | Early History | Political History
PART 2: Osborne City
PART 3: Biographical Sketches
PART 4: Bull's City
PART 5: Downs | Portis | Bloomington
PART 6: Delhi | Tilden Township | Covert Township | Kill Creek Township | Independence Township


Osborne county is bounded on the north by Smith County, on the east by Mitchell and Lincoln, on the south by Russell and on the west by Rooks. It contains 900 square miles and 576,000 acres of land. The north fork of the Solomon River runs diagonally through the two northeastern townships, and the south fork of the same stream runs entirely through the county from west to east, confining itself to the seventh range of townships. The North and South Solomon in Osborne County have an average fall through the county of over eleven feet per mile until they unite at Waconda, in the county east, where the average fall is only ten feet. Hence the frequency of mills along this stream. These streams take up in their course many small streams and rivulets, among the most important of which are Little Medicine, Kill Creek, Covert Creek, Indian Creek and the Twin Creeks. On the North Fork, Joy, Lawrence and Twelve Mile creeks are among the largest. In the south part of the county many streams head which are tributary to the Saline River, and flow nearly south; the largest of these are Salt, Eagle and Wolf creeks. The whole county, except the valleys of the Solomon, is a high, rolling prairie, with about 20 per cent of bottom land. Only 2 percent of the land of the county is native timber, and this, as is usual in the western counties, is wholly confined to the banks of the streams. The absence of building timber in quantity is atoned for by an abundance of the best building stone, which crops out in nearly every township. It is a cretaceous limestone, almost white in color, easily quarried and worked. Nearly all the business buildings and many of the farm houses are built of this rock.

In 1870 the first census of the then unorganized county, taken by Charles Welch, of Mitchell County, accompanied by a squad of soldiers, reported the inhabitants as numbering thirty-three. In 1880, the report showed that the respectable figure of 12,518 has been reached. The majority of the people are engaged in farming in its various branches, although stock-raising is fast taking the place of agriculture. The soil is very fertile, being composed of a rich vegetable mould (sic) with a liberal mixture of mineral substances, sand and lime. It varies in depth from two to fifteen feet, and is particularly adapted to withstand protracted drouth (sic).

The yield of wheat in 1882 was quite large, 26,439 acres having been planted, which yielded twenty bushels per acre, or a total of 528,780 bushels of winter wheat alone. The spring wheat yield was very light, only about 40,000 bushels having been harvested. Of corn 48,764 acres were planted which D only twenty bushels per acre, the total amounting to 975,280 bushels. About 8,000 acres of rye was harvested, with an average yield of twenty-five bushels; oats, 2,500 acres with an average of forty bushels; and about 800 acres of Irish potatoes, with a total yield of 65,000 bushels. The broom corn crop did well, 8,766 acres having been planted, and about 2,200 tons harvested. About 1,000 acres of sorghum were planted in the county, and the yield of syrup is 112,680 gallons.



                         POPULATION - FEDERAL CENSUS
                             (Organized in 1871.)

(a) Bethany Township .....594 (m) Penn Township,
(b) Bloom Township........526        including Osborne City..1,495
(c) Corinth Township......581 (n) Ross Township,
(d) Delhi Township........533        including Downs City....1,1?9
(e) Grant Township........557 (o) Round Mound Township........ 465
(f) Hawkeye Township......554 (p) Sumner Township..............923
(g) Independence Township 442 (q) Tilden Township..............662
(h) Jackson Township......450 (r) Victor Township..............376
(i) Kill Creek Township...379 (s) Winfield Township............845
(j) Lawrence Township.....510       TOTAL...................12,517
(k) Liberty Township......949       Osborne City ............. 719
(l) Mount Ayr Township....557       Downs City.................465
(a) In 1871, from original territory, in 1879, part to Lawrence.
(b) In 1871, from original territory; in 1872, part to Winfield;
    in 1878, part to Delhi.
(c) In 1872, from part of Ross Township.
(d) In 1878, from part of Bloom Township.
(e) In 1879, from part of Sumner Township.
(f) In 1879, from part of Sumner Township.
(g) in 1872, from part of Penn Township.
(h) In 1879, from part of Winfield Township.
(i) In 1872, from part of Liberty Township.
(j) In 1879, from part of Bethany Township.
(k) In 1871, from original territory;
    in 1872, part to Kill Creek Township;
    in 1878, part to Victor Township;
    in 1879, part to Round Mound Township.
(l) In 1880, from part of Kill Creek Township.
(m) In 1871, from original territory;
    in 1872, part to Corinth, Independence, Tilden,
    and Winfield Townships.
(n) In 1871, from original territory; in 1872, part to Corinth.
(o) In 1879, from part of Liberty Township.
(p) In 1871, from original territory;
    in 1872, part to Tilden Township;
    in 1879, parts to Grant and Hawkeye Townships.
(q) In 1872, from parts of Penn and Sumner Townships.
(r) In 1878, from part of Liberty Township.
(s) In 1872, from part of Bloom Township;
    in 1879, a part to Jackson Township.


The county was settled at the time when the Indians had made up their minds to abandon this territory;' hence the absence of anything startling under this head. In the fall of 1878, when the raid across the western part of the State was in progress, a stampede of the settlers on the creeks southwest of town filled Osborne, the county-seat, full of terrified people. The people of the town read the daily papers, and proved that the savages were in Nebraska, and the settlers fell back and resumed their peaceful avocations.

The earliest settler lived on the north fork, near the mouth of Twelve Mile Creek, and was drowned in the winter or early spring of 1870. Zara M. Hill made the first entry of land in Osborne County on the north fork of the river, between Downs and Bethany. He was then a buffalo hunter, but is now a prosperous farmer living on the land first entered.

In March, 1870, two brothers, named Bullock, made the first permanent settlement in this county on the north side of the south fork, near where the village of Bloomington now stands. They built a rude log cabin, half fortress, which was a place of resort for frontiersmen. These were shortly followed by James Weston and family, who located on Covert Creek. The north Solomon was settled by J. J. Wiltrout, Crosby brothers and Z. T. Walrond, in the vicinity of Portis. Mr. P. Ray located and built a good log house on the river south of the present city of Downs, about the 20th of May, 1870. W. T. Kelly and E. McCormick, settled in Corinth Township about this time, but up to January 20, when the United States census was taken, all told, the county had only thirty-three settlers, four of whom were females, viz: Mr. Weston and daughters.

John Kaser and family were among the next settlers, and in July, 1871, Mrs. Kaser gave birth to her son Albertus, to whom belongs the honor of being the third child born in the county. While engaged in the subject of first births in the county, the attention of the reader is called to the fact that several young people claim that honor, through their parents. On the 4th day of May, 1871, Miss Bertha Manning was born, and the physician who attended her mother was called, on his return, to attend the birth of Miss Lilly Dewey, four hours later. This was two months previous to the arrival of Albertus Kaser.

In May following, the town site of Osborne City, was selected by a Pennsylvania colony composed of thirty-five men from Berks and Lancaster counties. They all entered land in this township. Col. W. L. Bear was the President, and Dr. J. P. Moore, Secretary. On the 9th of May they filed upon the present town site of Osborne, and built a log house and stockade, a half mile south of town. The previous fall, in November, the New Haven colony settled on Twelve-mile Creek, in the extreme northern part of the county. Smith County secured the larger part of this wealthy and every prosperous colony.

In the month of November, 1870, Gen. H. C. Bull founded a city, which received his name, and erected the pioneer store building. The first store in the county was kept by Calvin Reasoner, on the John Kaser farm, near the center of the county.

July 16, 1874, C. H. Cook, a merchant of Bull's City, killed his only child with a hatchet, and then failing in an attempt to kill his wife, committed suicide. He was a noble gentleman, well liked by everybody, and his sudden insanity could not be satisfactorily accounted for by those who knew him most intimately.

On the 12th of October, 1879, Gen. H. C. Bull, of Bull's City, one of the pioneers of the valley - the first Probate Judge of the county, and its representative in the State Legislature - met with a most horrible death. Two friends and comrades, named George Nicholas and Robert Brickell, shared the same fate. Gen. Bull had been keeping several wild animals in a park at his place. A large male elk became unmanageable, and the General attempted to correct the animal, which became infuriated, rushed upon him and gored him to death inflicting forty-four wounds upon his body. Nicholas and Brickell attempted to rescue the General, and were killed upon the spot, Nicholas having sixty-four wounds, and Brickell thirty-two. William Sherman appeared on the scene to assist, and was tossed against the part fence and wounded, but escaped by flight. Over 2,000 persons attended the funerals of these men.

The county is divided into 117 school districts; 2,599 scholars are enrolled out of 3,701 pupils of school age. The average daily attendance for the year ending July 31st, is 1,655, while the expenses for the year for school purposes amount to $17,089.71. The first school in the county was taught in District No. 1, in Independence Township, by Miss Carrie Smith. Among the early schools in the county was that over Markley & Bears store, in Osborne City in 1872, taught by Miss Gates; one at Bull's City in 1872, by Miss Stockbridge. Miss Gates is now Mrs. Wintermyer, of Howard County. This county now employs 121 teachers; there are ninety one school buildings in the county, and ninety-seven rooms.

Osborne County shared the general grasshopper set-back of 1874. This scourge afflicted the whole northwest, until the cold wet weather of the approaching winter destroyed them. John A. Boring, in the Osborne Times of July 30th, says: "The grasshoppers made their advent into our county the latter part of last week, and are devouring everything before them. We noticed several fields of corn literally alive with them, being almost unable to see, either the corn or the ground. We hear reports of their ravages from every portion of Osborne and Rooks counties, and up to this writing they are still with us, carrying on their work of desolation and ruin among the fields of our farmers."

This variety of the curse came again in 1875, and laid their eggs in nearly all the sandy soil over the county, but the rains of the spring of 1876 totally destroyed them.


On the 27th of May, 1871, the first meeting was held at Reasoner's store at Arlington, to take preliminary steps towards organizing the county. A census was ordered taken, and C. M. Cunningham, W. W. Bullock and A. B. Fleming appointed Census Committee.

September 12, Gov. J. M. Harvey, by proclamation, declared the county organized, and appointed temporary officers as follows:; Commissioners - Samuel Chatfield, C. M. Cunningham, Frank Stafford; County Clerk - Frank Thompson. An election being held on the 7th of November, and the question of the location of the count-seat being before the people, Osborne City was selected, by a vote of 126; Tilden, 30; Arlington, 41; Emley City, 18. The first county officers were then elected as follows: Sheriff - C. M. Cunningham; Treasurer - John Joy; Clerk - C. W. Crampton; Attorney - H. H. Napier; Clerk of Court - C. J. Watson; Register of Deeds - A. B. Fleming; Surveyor - F. R. Gruger; Probate Judge - H. C. Bull; Superintendent of Public Instruction - J. T. Saxton; Coroner - S. B. Farwell; Commissioners - P. W. Kenyon, F. Stafford, J. J. Hays; Representative - W. L. Bear.

In the following February, the Commissioners were petitioned to call another election for the re-location of the county-seat, which was ordered for March 19, 1872. In this election Osborne City received 225 votes; Arlington, 144; Tilden,43, and Emley, 46. No town having received a majority of the votes cast, another special election was ordered by the Commissioners, and the towns receiving the two highest votes at the previous election only in the field. The result was: Osborne City, 267 votes; Arlington, 247. Township officers were also elected at this election, the county having been divided into voting precincts as follows: Bethany, Bloom, Liberty, Penn and Sumner. The last effort to re-locate the county-seat was made June 22, 1874, when a petition containing 600 names was presented to the County Commissioners, praying for an election to re-locate the county-seat. The Board, after long and mature deliberation, decided, taking the census of 1873 as a basis, that there were not enough legal names on the petition to give them authority to call an election. Thus the rising hopes and aspirations of Tilden and Emley City were doomed.

After the April election in 1872, the Osborne City Town Company, proceeded at once to build a large stone court house, at an expense of $2,000. This was for a few years the subject of considerable litigation; the elements finally foreclosed their claim on the building, and the county officers removed to Reasoner's building in Osborne. In later years, the necessity of a court house being patent to all, the citizens of Osborne again put their hands into their pockets and raised $1,800, with which the present frame court house was built. County affairs are now most prosperously and peaceably handled by the following officers: County Clerk - Frank Stafford; Treasurer - W. F. Cochran; Sheriff - John M. Babcock; Attorney - Z. T. Walrond; Superintendent of Public Instruction - A. W. Robertson; Probate Judge - O. F. Smith; Recorder - Abe Smith; Clerk of Court - L. A. Linville; Surveyor - J. W. McIntyre; Coroner - A. C. Dillon; Commissioners - David Jewell, J. J. Guyer, Perry Doak.

The assessed valuation of all property in the county, by townships, as reported March 1, 1882, is as follows:

Ross  - - - - $ 140,063.38  Kill Creek  - -$ 22,432.00
Bethany - - - - 115,620.95  Round Mound - -   6,427.00
Lawrence  - - -  30,181.00  Mount Ayr - - -  14,056.00
Hawkeye - - - -  17,995.00  Victor  - - - -  11,981.00
Grant - - - - -  14,686.00  Covert  - - - -  15,387.00
Sumner  - - - - 107,749.08  Delhi - - - - -  19,488.00
Tilden  - - - -  96,035.38  Jackson - - - -  16,923.00
Penn  - - - - - 147,940.35  Valley  - - - -  11,936.00
Corinth - - - -  64,683.00  Liberty - - - -  20,358.00
Bloom - - - - -  44,294.00  Osborne - - - -  94,845.00
Winfield  - - -  48,479.00  Downs - - - - -  40,599.00
Independence  -  25,747.00                ------------

[TOC] [part 2] [part 1] [Cutler's History]