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


[TOC] [part 6] [part 4] [Cutler's History]


This young and prosperous city was platted in August, 1879, and occupies part of the east half of Section 28, and west half of Section 27, Township 6 south, Range 11 west. The original proprietors were John A. Beal and A. Z. Blunt. The idea of making a town at this point sprang into existence at once when the Central Branch railroad concluded to make this track of land the place where the road should fork and pursue its westward course up each branch of the Solomon river. Pennington Ray was one of the first settlers on the river just south of the city. (See county history).

The railroad company made this place the end of the division, located and built a six stall round house, and commenced the erection of a repair shop, which at present employs about twenty men, and in December, 1879, Judge Joel Holt, after considering a petition of the citizens for the purpose of establishing a city government, ordered an election December 30, 1872, which resulted in the election of the following municipal officers:- Mayor, J. B. Craney; Councilmen, G. W. Howell, J. E. Kentzel, L. F. Pennington, O. Denton and John Parish; Clerk, J. G. Poole.

The present city government is administered by the following officers: Mayor, W. G. Harvey; Councilmen, F. P. Vorhees, F. M. Wells, D. G. Gardner, C. C. Vining, Wm. Duden; Clerk, J. G. Pool; J. P., Wm. Willford. The city grew rapidly and in August, 1880, school bonds were issued in the sum of $3,000 and a respectable two story stone school building erected; an after bond of $500 was voted for the completion of the building, which is now one of the best in the county. The present school board is S. A. Getty, Director; E. M. Jones, Clerk; and John Henricks, Treasurer. The teacher is Charles Hahn, with Laura Bradley, Assistant. The first school held in this township was at the house of Z. C. Young, one mile east of Downs, in the winter of 1871 and 1872, and was taught by Smith R. Young.


The Press. - On the 9th day of February, 1880, Thomas G. Nicklin commenced the publication of the Downs Times. Mr. Nicklin is a newspaper man in all that the term implies. He made the Times a success from the start, printed it handsomely, edited it ably, and made it a home production of merit, as well as a financial success. Mr. Nicklin came to Kansas from Pennsylvania, where he had been taught "the art of preservative," and in Kansas is now making his way. At present he is the editor and sole owner of the Salina Herald, a note of which will appear in the recorded history of Salina. May 25, George Dougherty, of the Osborne County Key, bought the Times, and has since carried it successfully along. Mr. Dougherty is a young man of ambition and industry, who came here from Illinois. His first business venture was at Glen Elder, in the county east of this, where he printed a weekly newspaper on a press of his own invention. Mr. Dougherty is now by his hard work and easily applied talent, fast working to the front.

Churches. - The first organization of the Congregational Church in this city was brought about October 23, 1879, by Rev. J. A. Covey. The church now has over forty members and a creditable building, which was erected in 1880 at an expense of $1,500. The church is at present without a pastor, although a flourishing Sabbath-school of 100 scholars is regularly conducted.

In the winter of 1879, a class of the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in this city and a Sabbath-school immediately placed in working condition, and has been maintained regularly every since. R. W. Knox, now of the Government works in Leavenworth, was for a time its Superintendent. In 1882, a plain and neat church edifice was erected at an expense of $1,300. A parsonage, which cost over $400, is also provided for the resident pastor, who, at present, is the Rev. J. T. Riley.

As early as April 3, 1876, the Rev. Z. Thomas effected an organization of the Baptist Church at this point, which has been actively in operation since that date. In 1880 a large stone church building was nearly completed when it was destroyed by the wind, and its walls subsequently razed. In spite of the frowns of the elements the church remains in working order, having now a membership of twenty and a Sabbath school with an average attendance of about fifty-eight. The church has been without a pastor for some time, but Elder Archer will officiate during the coming year.

Societies. - An enthusiastic organization of the Knights of Pythias, known as Magnolia Lodge, No. 71, was placed in working order in this town November 1, 1882. The membership, although numbering only twenty-five, is composed of that element which must attract others. The officers are: William Duden, C. C.; F. J. Gardner, V. C.; J. W. Nicholas, P. C.; George Garner, P.; A. Wade, K. of R. And S.; W. G. Harvey, M. of F.; M. Meibergen, M. of E.

Downs Lodge, No 204, A. F. & A. M., was organized August 2, 1881, and chartered February 15, 1882. The present officers are: John Henricks, W. M.; J. W. Huff, S. W.; George Garner, J. W.; W. W. Dimond, S. D.; Henry Jones, J. D.; C. M. Forline, Sec'y; F. D. Young, Treasurer. The lodge numbers thirty-five members and has property to the amount of $400.

Business Interests. - The business of the city is chiefly mercantile and the business connected with the railroads. There are two large hotels, an extensive lumber yard, and a branch of the First National Bank of Cawker City. The bank is in charge of J. W. Huff as cashier, and William Mellen, attorney.

A large five-story flouring mill on the river south of the city is the chief manufacturing interest. The mill was built by the Jackson Brothers, who also built and own one four miles east, at an expense of $25,000. It contains two rollers and four run of stone, and is generally conceded to be the best mill on the river.

A splendid iron bridge, built at an expense of $4,000, spans the river, which runs across the southern borders of the town.

With its railroad connections and interests and the vast scope of agricultural country surrounding it, Downs bids fair to become one of the leading towns of the Solomon country.


NATHAN N. ALLEN, farmer, P. O. Downs; was born in Bradford County, Pa., July 4, 1842, where he resided with his parents till he was four years of age; then they moved to Philadelphia, Pa., where he lived until he was seventeen years of age. He then went to Burlington, Iowa, where he worked as a teamster; then to Atchison County, Mo., where he clerked in a general store for two years, when he went to California, where he mined for four months, when he went to Salt Lake City, where he herded cattle for one year. Then he joined a train as a freighter, which business he followed until 1861, when he enlisted September 11, as private in Company M, First Colored Volunteer Infantry; discharged as private at Fort Leavenworth, October 31, 1864; he then returned to Atchison County, Mo., where he farmed until the spring of 1865, when he moved to Nemaha County, Neb., where he farmed one year, and engaged in mercantile business until 1874, when he came to Osborne County and homesteaded his present farm. He was married February 22, 1866, to Miss Ella Riordian. They have five children - Arthur S., Francis E., Charles A., Agnes E. and Willie.

ISAAC T. CROSS, merchant, was born in West Virginia, July 15, 1841, and with his parents moved to Appanoose County, Iowa, when he was fifteen years old, where he lived as a farmer until the spring of 1874, when he came to Osborne County, where he was engaged as a farmer until February, 1881, when he established his present business - general merchandise. He was married May 6, 1871, to Miss Jennie Lemley. They have two children - Morris H., and Daisy D. He was Clerk of Ross Township, Osborne County for one year.

JOSEPH B. CRANEY, merchant, was born in New York City, August 10, 1845, and in 1850, his parents moved to Wisconsin where he lived with them until 1862, when he went into the employ of the Northwestern Railroad Company, filling various positions from lowest to Master Mechanic; was in the service of the railroad until 1871, when he went to Troy, Kan., and engaged in general merchandising until the fall of 1879, when he came to Downs, Kan., where he established his present business. He was married January 7, 1869, to Miss Laura Stout. They have one child - Hannibal. Is a member of A. F. & A. M.; also honorary member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. Was Mayor of the city of Downs the first eight terms after organization of city. Elected State Representative of Osborne County in the fall of 1882, for two years.

W. W. DIMOND, postmaster, was born in Venango County, Pa., September 22, 1839, where he resided until 1871. At twenty-one years of age commenced work as a blacksmith, which business he followed until 1871, when he came to Kansas and homesteaded a farm in Section 35, Town 6, Range 11, in Ross Township, Osborne County, where he lived and farmed until the fall of 1879, when he moved to Downs, where he has since been postmaster. Married January 3, 1866, to Miss Susan Bixby. Is a member of A. F. & A. M., and has been trustee of Ross Township for the past two years. Enlisted in August, 1861, in Company G, Eighty-third Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, as a private. Discharged as a Sergeant March 23, 1863, for gunshot wound - left arm and side - received at the battle of Malvern Hill.

GEORGE E. DOUGHERTY, editor, born in Lancaster County, Pa. March 23, 1862. At the age of four years he moved with his parents to Maryland, where he lived for six years, and from there to Sterling, Ill., where he lived for six years. In 1878, at Sterling, he started the Alpha Journal, a weekly school paper, which he published for a year during 1878-'79. He moved to Mitchell County, Kan., in 1879, where he published the Glenn Elder Key for fifteen months, during the years 1880-'81. In May, 1881, he came to Downs, Osborne County, Kan., where he purchased the Down's Times, and is now its editor and proprietor. He also published The Key at Bull City, Osborne County, for thirteen months, during 1881-'82. He was married September 19, 1882, to Miss Rose Getty.

JAMES D. GREEN, farmer, P. O. Downs, born on the Atlantic Ocean, June 8, 1809, lived in Douglass, Mass., until thirteen years of age, when he moved to Oswego County. N. Y. Here he lived until seventeen years old, when he went to Chautauqua County, N. Y., where he worked as a carpenter and joiner until he was twenty-five years old, and then removed to Grant County, Wis., where he farmed for sixteen years. In the fall of 1870, he came to Osborne County, Kan., where he homesteaded his present farm, on which he has lived and farmed to the present time. He was married, August 14, 1844, to Miss Eunice Babcock. For the last five years he has given his attention to the raising of hogs.

L. L. TAYLOR, hotel keeper, was born in Vermont, December 13, 1821. While he was still an infant his parents moved to New York, where he lived with his parents until he was 13 years of age; then he went to Michigan, where he lived for one and a half years, then returned to New York, where he lived for two years, and then he went to Summit County, Ohio, where he lived for three years, when he again returned to Michigan, where he engaged as a cooper until 1852, when he established a grocery and liquor store, which business he followed for nineteen years. He then went to Nebraska, where he lived on a farm until 1878, when he came to Downs, Osborne County, where he has since been engaged as hotel keeper. Was married in 1841, to Miss Ann Riley; had two children - Clarissa and Carl Eaton. Was married again in 1859, to Miss Lydia J. Webb. They have three children - Cora, Nellie and Luella. Was postmaster of Colon, Neb., for seven years.

JOHN WOLFERT, livery, was born in Sheboygan County, Wis., February 22, 1859, where he lived on and worked a farm until 1877, when he went to Marshall, Iowa, where he worked as teamster until 1878. He then came to Downs, Kan., where he drove a team until 1881, when he established his present business - a livery and feed stable. Was married October 2, 1881, to Miss Laura Lukens. They have one child.

JOHN H. WOLTERS, farmer and postmaster, Rotterdam, was born in Pella, Marion County, Iowa, September 26, 1856, when he lived with his parents until he was twelve years of age, when they moved to Kansas and settled on the Saline River in Ottawa County, where they lived on a farm for two years, when his father moved to Osborne County and homesteaded his present farm, where he has lived as a farmer to the present time; and since his father's death in March, 1882, he has had the general management of the farm. He also deals in sewing machines - Royal St. John, New Home and the Wanzer. Has for the last three years paid considerable attention to blooded stock; has now two blooded bulls. His father was born in the Netherlands.

Z. C. YOUNG, Section 26, farmer and stock-dealer, P. O. Downs, was born in Chautauqua County, N. Y., May 30, 1828, when he lived on a farm until 1852, when, he went to California, where he followed mining until the spring of 1854, when he returned to New York, where he resided until January, 1871. He then started for the West, and located on his present farm. After his return from California to New York, he was engaged as a farmer, stock-dealer and shipper; with the exception of the three years of the time, one year of which he was in a flouring mill with his brother, and the last two years in milling business on his own book. After his location in Kansas, he followed farming until 1879, and since has looked after his farm as manager, and has given his attention to buying and shipping stock. He was married February 19, 1855, to Miss Sarah L. Smith. They had one child - Smith R. He was married again March 19, '59, to miss Lucy C. Smith. They have one child - Mark. Mr. Young is a member of the A. F. & A. M.; Trustee of Ross Township for one year; Justice of the Peace of the same township six years; elected Justice of the Peace in 1881 for one term of two years.


This little town is situated on the north fork of the Solomon, and has been since 1871 a good trading point. It was platted in May, 1879, as Bethany, and included a part of the northwest quarter of Section 5, and the northeast quarter of Section 6, Town 6 south, Range 12 west. When the Central Branch railroad made this one of the stations, and then passed into the hands of the Missouri Pacific, that road found itself embarrassed by having two stations named Bethany - the other being in Missouri - and by mutual consent the name of this town was changed to Portis, in honor of the vice-president of the Missouri Pacific. P. A. Judson and Samuel Chatfield were among the first settlers and business men. The town now contains several elegant business buildings, large hotel and newspaper. The Portis Patriot, a well printed seven-column folio was started about the first of 1872 by I. N. Drummond, who is still conducting the paper. Mr. Drummond is a life-long printer, who came to this State in the fall of 1871 from Iowa. He worked for a few weeks at Beloit and then purchased the dormant material at Portis and issued the Patriot. It is a good local paper and fairly reflects the business of the town. A good school and also Union Sabbath-school have been conducted at this place since the spring of 1872.


Bloomington is a little hamlet on the railroad, six miles west of the county seat. It was platted as a town site and called Tilden in May, 1873, and the following May the name was changed to Bloomington. It is recorded as occupying the south-east quarter of Section 8, Town 7, Range 13. The town once had hopes of being the county seat, but is now only noted for being situated in the center of a rich agricultural district. In August, 1879, an organization of the Baptist Church was effected at this place. It now has a membership of twenty-three, and conducts a Sabbath-school with an average attendance of about forty. It has no pastor at present writing.

[TOC] [part 6] [part 4] [Cutler's History]