RENEE KNOLL 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: Locations and General Features | Map and Population | Early History
PART 2: County Organization | Schools and County Societies | Hutchinson
PART 3: Biographical Sketches (Allbright - Gregg)
PART 4: Biographical Sketches (Hallowell - Plank)
PART 5: Biographical Sketches (Ricksecker - Zimmerman)
PART 6: Nickerson
PART 7: Arlington | Castleton | Reno Township
PART 8: Clay Township | Valley Township | Mount Liberty | Haven Township
PART 9: Sumner Township | Lincoln Township
PART 10: Salt Creek Township | Grant Township


RENO County is located on both sides of the Arkansas River, in the south-central part of the State. It is hounded on the north by Rice and McPherson; on the east by Harvey and Sedgwick; on the south, by Sedgwick and Kingman, and on the west, by Pratt and Barton counties. The county which is the second largest county in the State, is forty-two miles long, from east to west, and thirty miles from north to south, and contains thirty-five congressional townships, or 1,260 square miles. It is topographical features are common to other counties in this section of the State, and especially those traversed by the Arkansas River. An exceptional feature is noticed and found to consist in a ridge of sand hills, which were first apparent in the northwest part of Harvey County, and in parts of McPherson and Sedgwick. The hills entering Reno from the north- east, run nearly west until within four miles north of Hutchinson, when they deflect northward and extend into Rice County, here they are interrupted by Cow Creek, and farther west by the Arkansas River. They are forty miles long and from two to four miles in width, and rise above the valley in gentle slopes, from forty to eighty feet. The summits of these hills are composed of little hillocks, separated by table lands, containing from 50 to 250 acres. Aside from these hills, the general surface is gently undulating. The face of the County is divided into bottom land, 15 per cent; up-land, 85 per cent; forest (Government survey), 1 per cent; prairie, 99 per cent.

A glance at the map will convince the most skeptical, that Reno is one of the well-watered counties in the State. The Arkansas River flows through the county in a southeasterly direction, for forty miles, with One important tributary on the north, known as Cow Creek, which enters the county from the north, and empties into it six miles below Hutchinson. The northeast part of the county is watered for fifteen miles by the Little Arkansas, while the northwestern portion is drained by Peace and Salt Creeks. The North Fork of the Ninnescah enters the county from the west, and flows in a southeasterly direction, for forty miles, leaving the county near the southeast corner. An important tributary of the Ninnescah, is Clear River, which rises in the southwestern part, and flowing northeast, empties in it, five miles below Arlington. These streams, with numerous smaller tributaries, are ever flowing over gravelly bottoms. Numerous springs are found in all portions of the county, especially in the sand hills, where good water is always abundant.

The soil in the Arkansas Valley is composed chiefly of a mineral element, washed down from the mountains, which forms a light sandy loam, from two to four feet in depth resting on a sub-soil of sand and gravel, and is sub-irrigated by the waters of the river. The soil on the uplands is a black loam, from two to five feet in depth, resting on a sub-soil composed of clay and sand, so intermixed as to form compactness, but readily permits the sub-drainage of the soil in wet seasons. The soil of the sand hills, as the name signifies, is "Sand, sand: still sand, and sand, and sand again," But they are not so sandy as to prevent the growing of nutritious grasses, and on many of the side slopes, good crops are raised. Many stockmen prefer these hills for grazing purposes.

Reno County has a mean altitude of about 1,500 feet above the Gulf of Mexico, and is traversed by the Thirty-eighth parallel. Always swept by breezes, its inhabitants are not troubled by malaria influences; while those who come with diseases of the respiratory organs, find relief. Long summers end short winters, as a general rule, are noticeable.

It is known as the Banner county of the State, having taken the premium at the State Fair, held in 1882. Out of 557,816 taxable acres of land, 135,672 are under cultivation. The value of the said acres being $1,280,745. The total value of all taxable property is $2,123,800.98; and of railroad lands, $271,481.98. During the year 1882, 27,774 acres were sown in winter wheat; 2,640 acres of rye; 154, spring wheat; 65,708, of corn; 7,417, of oats; 2,177, of broom-corn; and of millet and Hungarian, 22,350 acres; 41,000 tons of wild and tame hay, was cut; 23,222 pounds of cheese, and 385,072 pounds of butter made. In the county there are 23,693 cattle, 25,250 sheep and 10,850 swine. In nurseries there are 239 acres, and in artificial forest 4,985 acres. Population, which has increased rapidly, is now 11,439.



(Organized 1872)

                          1880                          1880
                          ----                          ----
(a) Albion Township....... 436 (o) Medford Township..... 577
(b) Bell Township......... 348 (p) Plevna Township...... 198
(c) Castleton Township.... 352 (q) Reno Township including
                                   Hutchinson City.... 2,116
(d) Center Township....... 311 (r) Roscoe Township...... 328
(e) Clay township......... 441 (s) Salt Creek Township.. 478
(f) Enterprise Township... 429 (t) Sumner Township...... 536
(g) Grant Township,            (u) Troy Township........ 181
    incl. Nickerson City 1,207
(h) Grove Township.......  238 (v) Valley Township...... 645
(i) Haven Township........ 867 (w) Westminister Township 222
(j) Hayes Township........ 664                        ------
(k) Langdon Township...... 565     Total..............12,826
(l) Lincoln Township...... 568
(m) Little River Township. 731     Nickerson City        597
(n) Loda Township......... 388     Hutchinson City     1,540

(a) In 1878, from part of Castleton.
(b) In 1878, from part of Grove.
(c) In 1872, from part of Reno;
    in 1878, part of Albion.
(d) In 1873, from part of Reno;
    in 1874, part of Westminister.
(e) In 1872, from part of Reno.
(f) In 1879, from part of Medford.
(g) In 1872, from part of Reno,
    and comprises territory formed in Rice County.
(h) In 1876, from part of Langdon;
    in 1878 part of Bell.
(i) In 1872, from part of Reno, and comprises territory
    formally in Sedgwick County;
    in 1877, part of Sumner.
(j) In 1877, from part of Medford,
    and comprises territory formally in Rice County.
(k) In 1874, from part of Reno; in 1876 part of Grove;
    in 1877 part of Loda.
(l) In 1873, from part of Reno.
(m) In 1872, from part of Reno, and comprises territory
    formally in McPherson and Sedgwick Counties.
(n) In 1877, from part of Langdon.
(o) In 1874, from part of Reno, and comprises territory
    formally in Rice County;
    in 1877 part of Hayes; in 1879 part of Enterprise.
(p) In 1879, from part of Westminister.
(q) In 1872, from original territory,
    and composed a whole county;
    in 1872, part of Castleton, Clay, Grant, Haven,
    Little River and Valley;
    in 1873, parts of Center and Lincoln;
    in 1874 parts of Langdon, Medford, Salt Creek and Troy.
(r) In 1879, from part of Troy.
(s) In 1879, from part of Reno,
    and comprises territory formally in Rice County.
(t) In 1877, from part of Haven, and comprises territory
    formally in Sedgwick County.
(u) In 1874, from part of Reno; 1879 part of Roscoe.
(v) In 1872, from part of Reno, and comprises territory
    formally in Sedgwick County.
(w) In 1874, from part of Center; in 1879 part of Plevna.


To retain clear and lucid impressions of the early settlement of Reno County, it will be for the reader to first bear in mind, changes have been made in its original boundaries. In 1872, that tier of townships embraced in Range 4 on the east, and Township 22 on the north, were added to the county. It was in this north tier of townships the first settlement of Reno County occurred, and it is necessary to make this distinction in order to give the first settlers of Rice County credit as being the first in Reno. In the autumn of 1870, Lewis M. Thomas, after prospecting through the valleys of the Solomon and Smoky Hill rivers, turned his course southward, and following along the valley of Turkey Creek in McPherson County, to a short distance above its confluence with the Little River. He then turned to the northwest, crossed the river at the Stone Corral, a stopping place on the Santa Fe trail, and visited a small settlement near Atlanta, in Rice County. Not being satisfied with the advantages at that point, he returned to McPherson County, and being attracted by the cottonwood groves that at that time covered the sand hills, and the abundant Herbage which covered the hill slopes, came to the conclusion to locate on Section 8, Township 22 south, Range 5 west. November, 1870, dates his arrival as the first settler of Reno County, under it's present boundaries. In December of the same year, Mr. Thomas, visiting Lawrence, purchased stock and supplies, and returned to his home, where he continued to reside up to a late period. On his return he was accompanied by John Hunt, an Englishman, who located and settled in the valley of the Little Arkansas, but afterward, owing to his having occupied a railroad section of land, left the county. Antedating Mr. Hunt's settlement a few days was that of J. H. B. Rosan, who, in looking up the cattle business, decided to make a permanent location on Section 4, Township 22 Range 6. This was in the fore part of December, 1870. Mr. Rosan, who was accompanied by James C. Burnett, "Ranched" at Thomas' until February 1, when they crossed the sand hills and settled at a place known for many years afterward as Rosan's Ranch. In March, Rosan, he brother, Charles W. Rosan, and Charles Street, drove in a large heard of Texas cattle.

[Picture of first dwelling in county] * This was a cattle Ranche building, upon the northeast quarter of Section 4, Township, No. 22 south, Range 6 west, occupied by J. H. D. Rosan while engaged in cattle raising. The corral was just back of it, both house and corral being then surrounded by heavy timber.

During the next month, a surveyor was procured from Salina, and their land was surveyed - the first in Rice or Reno counties. George H. Watson located in the valley of Cow Creek in March, 1871. While these settlements were being made in the northern part of what is now known as Grant and Little River townships, a party of sixteen persons entered the county from the east and encamped near the mouth of Cow Creek, early in March, 1871. The party was composed of John N. Shahan, William and Robert Bell, William Cadwell, Mr. Haverlin, John Butcher, P. Welch, William Kacy, F. Foley, Isaac Ijams and wife, James Freese, William Shoop and wife, Westley Ijams, Hannah and Mary Freese. Many of this party located claims along the river, as far north as present city of Hutchinson, March I4, 1871. Ante-dating their arrival was that of A. S. Demock, who located February 9, 1871, in what was then known as the "Sedg- Strip," in the eastern part of the (present) Reno County. He was followed by Luther A. Dodge, February 13, 1871, who was the first settler in what is now Clay Township. During the spring, John Swanson, a brother of Lewis Thomas, and several Swedes located in that part of the county. In the summer of the same year, Charles Collins, D. B. Miller, A. Smith, L. S. Shields and his two sons, Samuel and George, Peter Shafer, George Mills, E. Shafer, B. F. Evarts, George Laferty, Dr. A. S. Crane, William Lockart, and John Curley located in different parts of the county lying north of the Arkansas River. About this time claims were taken in the upper Cow Creek valley by A. K. Burrell, Mrs. Mead and sons, and Messrs. Parker and Decker.

Up to the spring of 1872, the settlement of Reno County was confined to the north eastern portion, north of the Arkansas River. Over three-fourths of the county south of the Arkansas, not a settler could be found, with the exception of I. M. Gray, J. B. Risting, and perhaps a few others, who located in the southeast, in Haven Township, in June, 1871. The non-settlement of this portion of the county, at an early date, was due to the difficulty in crossing the river. This was, however, amended by the construction of a bridge, of which mention is made elsewhere, across the river at Hutchinson, in the fall of 1872. The first settlers in that part of the county, south and west of the river, by townships, according to the original boundaries, may be classified as follows: Lincoln Township, by A. B. Cory, W. R. Marshall, J. H. and J. A. Grayson, A. M. Switzer, W. W. Pierce, J. Jeffreys, A. Hutchinson, S. Ryan, and W. White, in April, I872; in Castleton Township, William McDemett, A. W. Smith and John R. Smith, H. T. Wheeler, William Hayes, William Wallace, and J. Medbery, in the spring of 1872; in Centre Township, in December, 1872, by Bollin, W. L. Teeter, and in March, 1873, Edward Jones and Richard Cravalsy; they were followed in September and October by Samuel and Zenas Dilley, H. O. Hasa, Hugh Ghormly, Thomas Crotts, R. King, with their families. Westminster Township was first settled by John Martin, in the spring of 1873. He was followed by Messrs. Fryrear, Howell, and Harriman. Troy Township was first settled by Samuel Slack and Thomas Scorsby, in April, 1873; Loda Township, in August, 1873, by J. F. Stevens, M. A. Long, and J. T. Stevens; Salt Creek Townships, by T. B. Hand, in October, 1872; Grove and Langdon townships in February and May, 1874, by Jacob Armstrong and Jesse Sinclair, respectively. The first settler in Medford Township was R. D. Kelsey in the fall of 1873. Sumner Township, in the southeast corner of the county was first settled by John L. Gill, in March, 1872. Whole pages might be devoted to mentioning names and dates of early settlement in the county, but for further information the reader is referred to the biographical department of this work.


About the first prominent object that relieved the weary eyes of the first settlers of Reno County, as they entered it from the northeast, were the sand hills, covered with a heavy growth of cottonwood timber. This belt of timber commenced in little straggling bunches on the hill summits, near the edge of Harvey County, and growing more dense westward ended four or five miles west of Rosan's Ranch. Trees were found nearly eight feet in circumference, and fifty feet to the limb. As this belt was about the only timber for miles around, it disappeared rapidly until the winter of 1872-`73, when the supply was almost entirely exhausted.

Nothing causes so much terror and consternation among frontier settlements as an "Indian Scare." Early in April, 1871, a large hunting party of Kaw Indians pitched their tents on the north side of the Arkansas River near the present city of Hutchinson, and another party of Sacs and Foxes, on the south side. As these Indians were half civilized and amicable, the settlers had no apprehensions of danger. Nothing occurred to relieve the monotony of an every-day life until some time in July, when one day, a commotion was observed in both camps. On inquiry it was found that a large party of Cheyennes were in the immediate vicinity and threatening an attack on their red brethren for a former invasion in their territory. So great was their haste that the news soon spread to parties gathering wood on the Sand hill, who immediately ceased that occupation and "vamosed" to the general camping place. A few hours later the whole party suddenly decamped. As the Cheyennes are noted to be among the most ferocious and blood-thirsty savages on the plains, the white settlers were alarmed at the probable critical situation. Some of them, throwing their movables into wagons, hastily fled to Sedgwick City and other places of refuge. A greater number remained to defend their homes. Among those who fled was a small party from Wisconsin, which had selected land along Cow Creek, but were still living in their wagons. At the first alarm they hurriedly departed for the East, and being so terrified, did not return. The Cheyennes did not make the excepted attack, with the exception of one party, which dashed into the grazing grounds near Rosan's Ranch, and drove off a number of cattle, belonging to Mr. Rosan, and others living in northern Reno and southern Rice counties. The cattleman organized a party of thirty-five or forty men, pursed the savages, and overtaking them fifty miles southwest, recovered their stock. This ended the first great Indian scare.

Reno County ten years ago, was the home of the American bison, or buffalo. We make the following extracts from a sketch published in the Hutchinson News; descriptive of a buffalo hunt:

It was a small but brave party who set out to explore the vast plains that cradle the beautiful Ninnescah and Cimarron. The 17th (September, 1872) dawned bright and fresh as the moon which sprang into life at the divine "let there be light." In the early daylight before the sun had purloined the brilliants which the lavish night had spread upon the grass, upon the flowers, etc., our train, consisting of two wagons, moved off majestically from town (Hutchinson) across the broad, green prairie toward the noble old river which bends lovingly in a glistening segment around our little town. Arriving at its banks, we alighted, took the boat, and were floated over its rippling surface without accident. * * We were soon seated in comfortable prairie schooners and skimming over the grand expanse which stretched before us as tree and light-hearted as the prairie swallows, which described such graceful circles above our heads. There were no traces of bison the first day out, but like the veterans of the ocean, we were determined, fearless, and declared that we would find buffalo, or go to - Medicine Lodge! Fortunately we were not called to place our precious scalps in jeopardy, by a near approach to the vicinity of the noble red man, for in the picturesque valley that lies beyond the lovely Ninnescah, we descried in the far distance upon the porcelain of the sky, a long black line of buffalo, gently feeding upon the rich grass that lay beneath them, while nearer a number of antelope gamboled in all their untaught grace, in fearless innocence. After a fruitless attempt to destroy these "innocent creatures," * * * we lashed our teams and bore down in full sail upon the herd of buffalo. As we drew near it was decided that the wagon should stop and allow the huntsmen to approach on foot, and accordingly three of the party, Mr. Hallowell, Mr. Rosan, and Mr. Flick, accoutered for the fray, started off in a half run while, Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Whitelaw sat complacently upon their past laurels, as "buffalo slayers" with a perfect big Indian indifference as to the exciting scenes.

Disdainful of inequalities of the ground and ignoring sand burs, our heroes sped along, half bent, like true sons of the forest, until within 300 yards of the herd, when they dropped upon the ground, three great human anacondas, silently, relentlessly. At last when patience was almost exhausted, as we stood upon the wagon seats, straining our eyes to catch sight of the smoke as it was belched forth from the carbines of the recumbent trio, they rose simultaneously, and rushing forward as one man, sent the pitiless discharges into the midst of the defenseless herd. There was a mad start and the vast black line surged and wavered, and threw itself into wild targets and then concentrating, swept around to the east, a huge crescent of furious quadrupeds. * * * The earth seemed to quiver under their furious tramps as they rushed by their undaunted foes, leaving the fair plains cumbered with the huge form of one of their number, reeking in the gore of its death wounds. Drawing near the poor victim it was impossible to repress a pang, as its large, soft eyes wandered beseechingly from face to face, seeming to ask, "What comes next, in this the fullness of my agony?" A few moments and the glittering knives were flashing in and out, * * in the quivering flesh, until the choicest bits were selected and placed in the wagons, partly as trophies, partly to add to our evening banquet.

Among first events occurring in Reno County may be mentioned the following: The first marriage was that of James Carrington and Miss Emma, a daughter of A. S. Coombs, of Grant Township, in January, 1872.

The first birth occurred in Hutchinson, and was a son of Mr. Johnson. The first death, a man called * Mountain Jack, who was accidentally shot by a companion, named Jacob Eisenberger, while a party were making preparations for a buffalo hunt. The first lawsuit in the county was held before D. D. Olmstead, Justice of the Peace, April 3, 1872. The case involved an action of replevin of a certain gray pony, valued at $35. Lewis Josephine vs. Jacob Eisenberger, being the contestants. During the season of 1873, Jno. N. Shahan brought into the county the first threshing machine, which weighed 6,585 pounds. That season he and William Bell operated it, first threshing their own wheat, then that of George Leverty. Oats yielded from seventeen to forty bushels, and spring wheat ten to eighteen bushels per acre. The first political convention in Reno County wad held at Hutchinson, February 1, 1872, in a room over Young's shoe store. At this meeting occurred the nomination of the first county officers, who were subsequently elected. Regarding the second political convention held in the county, the following appeared in the Hutchinson News, of August 3, 1872: "Pursuant to a call, published in the News, the Republicans of Reno County met in the court house last Saturday. The meeting organized by electing W. W. Updegraff, chairman, and H. Whiteside, secretary. Secretary read call for a meeting, and H. Hodgson and C. W. Ellis were chosen as a committee to report a list of names for county central committee. The following gentlemen were appointed: D. M. Lewis, A. S. Dimock, A. Lynch, Dr. Dedding, and W. W. Updergraff."

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