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


[TOC] [part 7] [part 5] [Cutler's History]


The young, but progressive city of Nickerson, with a population of 1,3000 inhabitants, is located in the northwestern portion of the county, ten miles from Hutchinson and one hundred and seventy-seven southwest of Topeka. It is the end of the second division of the A., T. & S. F. Railway, and is the site of the large and extensive machine and repair shops of the road. The future of the place is assured, as it is surrounded by rich and fertile country, and within its limits about $200,000 is paid out annually by the railroad company.


The original town site of Nickerson was laid off (on paper) in 1875, one mile east of the present site, by the railroad company. Early as 1872, a depot was built at that point, and the station was known as Nickerson, so named in honor of Thomas Nickerson, then President of the A., T. & S. F. Railway. The next building was erected by the railroad company in the fall of 1872, and used as a section house. In the fall of 1874, a schoolhouse was built. In August 1875 Dr. L. A. Reeves located on the town site and erected two-story frame building, and opened a stock of goods. In 1876 he sold his store to A. Sievart. For the next two years these buildings comprised "Old Nickerson." In October, 1878, the present town site of Nickerson was laid off, on ground which was then covered by an extensive corn field owned by Mr. Sears. A very few days after the town site was surveyed, James Devitt commenced the foundation for the hotel known as the Dominion House. About the same time A. L. Harlow commenced the foundations for a building, afterwards known as the Harlow House. But before these buildings were completed, Dr. L. A. Reeves moved the building now occupied as the postoffice from Old Nickerson, and with the exception of a small frame structure, occupied by John Sears, it was the first building on the town site. By March, 1879, Dr. Reeves had the whole block up, now known as the Reeves Block. Probably the first building built on the town site was that erected by M. McCormick, and used as a drug store, in October, 1878. This was followed by a building used as a general store, and occupied by Sievart & Smith. Within sixty days Nickerson had two hotels, one dozen stores, two livery stables, two lumber yards, and a printing office.

Among the first settlers who identified themselves with the early history of Nickerson may be mentioned - Dr. L. A. Reeves, M. McCormick, Wm. Smalley, Wm. Scott, James Devitt, A. L. Harlow, A. Tucker, Charles Heath, Smith & Sievart, A. Clark, A. J. Knight, Mr. Kent, L. Young, Joseph Kaufman, C. S. Brown, F. Wiers, John Haynes, H. Appel, G. A. Wagner, and others.

The Nickerson postoffice was established in the summer of 1873, Mrs. M. J. Sears, Postmistress. The office was then located in a little sod house on the southeast corner f the present town site. In 1876, Mrs. Col. Budd was appointed, but officiated only a short tie, when Dr. L. A. Reeves received the appointment. He acceptably filled the position up to the time of his death, October, 1882, since which time Mrs. L. A. Reeves has occupied the position. The Money Order System was established at this office in August, 1880, Charles E. Heath, purchasing the first order.

The first school building was erected in Old Nickerson, in the fall of 1874, and the first term was taught by Mary Kinney. In 1879, the building was moved onto the new town site and occupied until 1882, when the present building was completed at a cost of $7,000. The building is a large two-story brick, contains seven rooms, and is a credit to its district.

The Nickerson Argosy was first issued December 11, 1878, by Sargant & Bowman. February 12, 1879, Mr. Sargant purchased Bowman's interest and ran it until September 10, of the same year, when I. N. Bundy became sole proprietor. October 8, 1879, the paper was purchased by Hill, Brown & Co., who ran it until May 1, 1880, when L. C. Brown, the present editor and publisher, assumed control. The Argosy is a seven-column folio, Republican in political, and is devoted to the interests of that section in general, and Nickerson in particular.

The wooden bridge across the Arkansas River at Nickerson, was completed in June, 1879, at a cost of $7,000, which sum was made up by the donation by the county, of $1,000, and the balance in bonds issued to the amounts of $4,500 and $5,100, by Grant and Salt Creek townships, respectively. The structure is 1,100 feet in length, and is an advantage, the value of which can not be estimated.

Nickerson was incorporated as a city of the third class, June 7, 1879, and the first set of city officials comprised the following named gentlemen; Mayor, L. A. Reeves; Council, M. McCormick, C. S. Brown, J. A. Moorse, J. O. Heath; Clerk, A. H. Jackson; Marshell, J. D. Reed. The present officers are; Mayor, J. N. Woods, Councilmen, S. M. Wirt, A. S. Kent, E. J. Arnold, J. W. Mallory, J. M. Williams; Police Judge, D. D. Olmstead; Clerk, G. W. Cook; Marshal, D. W. Wright.


The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in old Nickerson, in 1875, by Elder J. W. Fox. The following pastors have had charge in the order mentioned: G. W. Honey, one year; H. Conery, two years; George Reed, one year; J. A. Mattern, two years; H. Shipe, seven months, to October, 1882. In January, 1883, Rev. A. J. Taylor was appointed. First services were held in the schoolhouse on the old town site until 1878, when the organization moved to "New" Nickerson. In the fall of 1879, the present church, a brick structure, 32x52 feet, was completed at a cost of $3,500. Present membership, 175.

The Congregational Society was organized in the winter of 1878-79, by Rev. R. J. Schllicter, with nine members. The present church edifice, a handsome brick structure, was completed in the summer of 1879. Rev. J. F. Bacon, present pastor. In 1878, services of the Catholic denomination were held by Rev. F. P. Swembergh in private residences. Rev. F. Hartman, present pastor. Present membership, twenty-five families. An organization of the Episcopal denomination was effected in 1880, by Rev. Newman. During the first year the church had no regular pastor. Regular services were held in the Methodist Church, Rev. Canfield pastor. A church edifice is now under construction. The Baptist denomination was organized in the fall of 1882, by Rev. J. N. Kidds, the present incumbent. In the winter of 1882-83, the society purchased the fine school building, which they now occupy.

Nickerson Lodge, No. 21, A. O. U. W., was instituted under a charter, October 11, 1879. First officers were: A. J. Lock, P. M. W.; G. N. Harper, M. W.; A. R. Pierce, Fin.; L. A. Rolland, O.; E. J. Arnold, Rec'd.; J. P. Herman, F.; C. F. Smolt, R. Present officers; J. N. Woods, M. W.; E. W. Elliot, P. M. W.; C. J. O'Rouke, F.; C. R. Marsh, O.; P. Hyitt, R.; E. J. Arnold, Treas.; H. Appel, Fin. Regular meetings are held every Wednesday evening. Present membership, eighty.

Nickerson Lodge, No. 190, I. O. O. F., was instituted under a charter dated October 12, 188, with ten members. First officers; Th. Inman, N. G.; G. W. Brown, V. G.; M. McCormick, Treas.; H. T. Barrett, Sec'y. Its present officers are: William Pells, N. G.; P. Hayes, V. G.; Th. Inman, Trea., H. T. Barrett, Sec'y. Meets every Saturday evening. Present membership, forty-six.

Banana Division, No. 65, R. C. A., was organized July 30, 1882, with twenty-two charter members. Present officers: J. W. Mallory, C. C.; C. R. Maratt, Sec'y and Treas.; E. Meyers, A.; W. A. A. Nolan, Sen. C.; A. D. Butts, Jr. C.; L. J. Lemere, I. S.; P. Wells, O. S. Meets first and third Sundays. Present membership, twenty-eight.

Nickerson Lodge, No. 42, A., F. & A. M., was organized under a charter February 15, 1882, with thirty-four members. Present officers are: J. D. Mallory, W. M.; J. N. Woods, S. W.; E. J. Arnold, J. W.; G. S. Rosworth, S. D.; J. B. LE Coy, J. D.; Wm. Scott. Treas.; Geo. Merritt, Sec'y. Regular meetings are held on first and third Fridays. Present membership, forty-four.

Occidental Division No. 8, S. K., was organized July 19, 1881, and received its charter December 12, 1881. Present officers are: C. F. Smolt, P. M. C.: J. N. Woods, S. C.; E. W. Elliot, L. C.; E. J. Arnold Chap.; J. P. HERMAN, s. Treas.; L. J. LEMERE, R. Treas.; G. H. Saunders, Rec.: P. wells, S. W.; C. R. Marsh, J. W. Meets first and second Tuesdays of each month. Present membership, thirty.

Reno Post No. 80, G. A. R., was organized under a charter dated June 6, 1882. Its present officers are: J. B. Vincent, P. C.: Thomas Inman, Sen. Vice-Com.; S. D. Nolton, Jr. Vice-Com.; W. F. Hendry, Adj't.; Wm. Brown, Q. M.; C. J. Davice, O. OF D.; C. M. Booth, O. OF G.; A. Clark, Chap.; S. M. Wertz, Sergt.; D. R. Green, Sergt. Maj.; G. W. Lotz, Q. M. Sergt. Meets second and fourth Mondays of each month. Present membership, fifty-two.

The Nickerson Mills were built in 1880, by a stock company, at a cost of $4,480.17, without the machinery. In the spring of 1882, it passed into the hands of Elliott & Tallin, who, in January, 1883, turned it over to Smith & Lawthen. The mill is a three-story brick, with basement, 36x56 feet, and has not yet been put into active operation.


E. J. ARNOLD, business manager of the firm of Edwards Bros. & Fair, lumber, hardware, stone, and all kinds of building material, also coal and grain. Business was established in November, 1878; capital employed in the business about $15,000; monthly sales about $3,000. Mr. A. was born in Ontario, Canada, January 19, 1848, and came to Indiana when a child with his parents, and when a man, went to Wisconsin, and from there came to Kansas, in 1872, locating in Rice County, and came to Nickerson in 1879, and engaged in his present business. He was married in 1876, to Miss Sarah M. Howard, a native of Indiana. They have three children - Grace A., Ames M., and Charles E. While living in Rice County he served on term, 1875 and 1876, as Register of Deeds, and now is a member of the City Council of Nickerson, serving his third term. He is a Mason, member of Blue Lodge and Commandery, and also a member of the Ancient Order of United workman, and Select Knights.

THOMAS BROWN, blacksmith and wagon maker, was born in Ohio, in 1837, and his parents moved to Indiana in 1842, where he resided until 1868, when he went to California, where he spent a number of years, returning to Indiana for a time, and back to California, and from there to Missouri in 1875, and came to Nickerson, Kas., in 1879, when the town was first located, and engaged in contracting and building, and has eight house of his own, that he rents, worth about $6,000. He commenced his present business in 1880, and has a good shop, 20x40, and about $500 in stock tools. Is also interested in stock raising, and has now twenty-five head of cattle. Was married in 1857, and wife died in 1869, leaving three children - Parthenia, Emma and Thomas. Was married again in 1873, to Miss Helen Eddy, a native of New York. They have one child - Browney May. He is a Mason.

D. S. DILL, attorney-at-law, located in Kansas in March, 1877, taking a claim at Haynesville, Pratt County, where he lived two summers, and assisted in the organization of the county. He was elected the first County Surveyor, but never qualified. The following winter he read law at Hutchinson, with Brown & Gillett, and subsequently with Houk & Brown. In 1880, he helped to organize Rural Springs, in Kingman County, being admitted to the bar in July of that year. In the winter of 1880-81,he returned to Hutchinson, and re-entered the law office of Houk & Brown, where he pursued his studies and assisted in the business of the office, remaining with them until he established himself at Nickerson, in April, 1881, where he is now engaged in law, real estate and insurance business. He is agent of the A., T. & S. F. R. R., and of the Arkansas Valley Town Company. He is a native of Toledo, Ohio, where he was born March 30, 1858, He was educated in his native State, where he resided until he emigrated to Kansas. Mr. D. has been admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Kansas, and in the United States Courts, and is identified with State and county political movements, serving as a delegate to various political conventions.

E. W. ELLIOTT, grain dealer, was born in Muskingum County, Ohio, December 11, 1837, and when a young man, removed to Ross County, same State. In 1862, he enlisted in Company D, Eighty- ninth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and served with his command in the Department of Tennessee, for a time doing railroad duty, and having an occasional skirmish with the enemy, and was engaged for the first time in a regular battle at Chickamauga, and was captured in that fight, September, 1863, and was held a prisoner of war in Richmond, Belle Isle, Andersonville and Florence for fifteen months, being paroled in December, 1864, and mustered out in June, 1865. Came to Kansas in November, 1879, and located in Nickerson, and organized his present business in July of 1882, and from that time to the end of the year shipped 50,000 bushels of wheat, and is also engaged in stock, and has at present on the range sixty head. Was married April 5, 1865, to Miss Ruth Dixon, a native of Ohio; they have four children - Cora S., Simon O., Austin A., and Edith. Is, a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and of the G. A. R., and is County Commissioner of Reno County, and has just received his appointment of Postmaster of Nickerson.

J. P. HERMANN, furniture and undertaker, was born in Lake County, Ind., December 12, 1845, and when a child removed with his parents to Chicago, and remained there for six years, then to Lake County, Ill., where he resided until 1862, when he removed to Michigan, and came from there to Kansas in 1868, first locating in Bourbon County, and went from there to Wilson County, where he remained. That year he return to Michigan, and came to Kansas in 1878, and located in Nickerson, Reno County, in 1879, and engaged in his present business. He was also interested and connected with the publication of the first newspaper in the place, and until recently was interested in the drug firm of Smoull & Hermann, and is the present owner of the business house in which the drug business is conducted. He carries about $3,500 in stock, and his average monthly sales are about $1,000. He was married April 15, 1873, to Miss Minnie King, a native of Buffalo, N. Y. They have three children - Kate A., John C., and William J. He is a Mason and a member of the A. O. U. W., and is also a Select Knight of the same order. He has been Township Treasurer one term, and also a member of the City Council.

W. J. JOHNSTON, merchant, was born in Pennsylvania, in 1856, and came from his native place to Kansas in 1878, first locating in Wichita. In the fall of 1881, he came to Nickerson and engaged in the grocery and queensware business, and carries about $2,500 worth of goods, and his monthly sales average about $1,500.

A. S. KENT, watchmaker and jeweler, was born in Massachusetts, in March, 1852, where he resided until 1875, when he came West, and first stopped in Minnesota; from there he went to Dakota, then to Nebraska, and the to Missouri, where he was located for a year, and then he came to Kansas, and located in Nickerson, in January, 1879, and erected one of the first business buildings in the place, 20x60 feet, two stories. After remaining here about six months he went west and came back in 1881, and started his present business. He carries a stock of about $3,000, and is doing a good business, being constantly kept busy at his trade, watch repairing. He is a member of the Nickerson Brass Band, and has been Treasurer of Grant Township two years, and a member of the Council of the city of Nickerson two years.

J. H. LEEMAN was born near Putnamville, Putnam Co., Ind., April 27, 1832. In 1850, he removed to Columbiana County, Ohio, Western Reserve, and thence moved to Lucas County, Iowa, in 1867 removing from Chariton, in that county, to Kansas. He enlisted early in 1861, when the first call for soldiers was made, in Company C, Sixth Ohio Cavalry, and re-enlisted in the same company and regiment, serving until October, 1865. He participated in all the general engagements of his command, entering the service as a private, and being mustered out as a Captain, and then ranking officer of his regiment, of which he was in command. He was married at Salem, Columbus Co., Ohio, October, 1860, to Lydia A. Miller, of Ohio, and has four children living - America Ann, now Mrs. Richard E. Payne, Katie Emma, James Henry, Jr. and Stephen Edgar. Mr. Leeman located in Hutchinson, Kan., June 15, 1872, where he was in the brick business and engaged in coal prospecting for a year, then City Marshall two years, and subsequently in meat market and boarding house business, until he removed to Nickerson, and became proprietor of the Reeves House, May 19, 1882. He is a member of Reno Lodge, No. 99, I. O. O. F., and Joe Hooker Post G. A. R., located at Hutchinson.

M. McCORMICK, druggist, engaged in his present business in Nickerson October 10, 1878, in his store on Peabody street, at present occupied by Mrs. J. D. Reed, milliner. In 1881 he built, and August 5, 1881, moved into his present store on Main street, in the upper story of which is the Masonic hall, occupied also by the I. O. O. F., A. O. U. W., G. A. R., Conductors' Union and Select Knights. His business has increased from $6,000, the amount of the first year's sales, to $23,000 in 1882. Mr. McCormick is a native of Napoleon, Ohio, born December 13, 1847. He resided in Napoleon until 1873, at which time he removed to Hutchinson, Kan., where he was in the employ of E. H. Gregg, until he removed to Nickerson. He enlisted in Company G. One Hundred and Seventy-fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, August, 1863, and served until July, 1865, when he was mustered out at Charlotte, N. C., and discharged at Camp Todd, Columbus, Ohio, in 1865. He was married in Nickerson, October 18, 1881, to May Reed, a native of Galesburg, Ill. Mr. McCormick was a member of the first Board of Aldermen of Nickerson, and is a member of the I. O. O. F., G. A. R. and A. O. U. W.

SAMUEL R. MARSHALL, proprietor of the Exchange Bank, and hardware merchant, came to Kansas in 1856, with his father, S. A. Marshall, who located and still resides in Leavenworth. July 1, 1877, Samuel R. removed to Halted, Harvey County, and engaged in the hardware business, remaining there until he came to Nickerson to reside, in the spring of 1880, having become interested in the hardware business there when the town was first started. His banking business was established in March, 1882. Mr. M. was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., September 23, 1847, and removed from that place with his father's family, to Kansas, May 9, 1856.

WILLIAM SCOTT is a native of Vermilion County, Ill., where he was born September 28, 1833. His parents removed to Fulton County, Ill., when he was three years of age, and that place remained his home until he was twenty-three, when he located in Joshua Township, Knox Co., Ill., and lived there about eighteen years. He then returned to Fulton Co.; settled at Farmington, and removed from that place to Nickerson, Kan., March 27, 1879. He engaged in farming one year, and since the spring of 1881, has been in the grocery business. He was married in Elmwood, Peoria Co., Ill., November 30, 1856, to Mary Doyle, who died December 25, 1872, leaving five children - Alice S., Charles E., Edson A., Emma N. (died July 29, 1882), and Lenora A. Mr. S. was married at Farmington, Ill., March 2, 1874, to Martha E. Horde, his present wife, a native of New York. Mr. Scott has been a deacon and trustee of the Congregational Church of Nickerson since its organization, and is also a member of the School Board, of A., F. & A. M., and A. O. U. W. He erected the first building on the west side of Main street, commenced December 17, 1878, and completed about the first of April, 1879.

L. A. SHIELDS, grain dealer, was born in Illinois, April 20, 1841, and moved to Iowa in March, 1868, where he resided until the summer of 1882, when, being in poor health, he came to Kansas on a visit, and his health improving so rapidly, he decided to remain, and located in Nickerson in July, and organized his present business. His shipments from that time to the end of 1882, were about 35,00 bushels of wheat and 20,000 bushels of corn. Was married February 17, 1866, to Miss Minnie Reed, a native of Canada. They have one child, Kate L. While in Iowa he occupied the position of Township Trustee and School Director. Is a member of the Congregational Church.

C. F. SMOLT, M. D., located in Nickerson, September 27, 1878, and has resided in the place since that time, engaged in medical practice; and since January, 1882, in drug business. He was appointed surgeon of the A., T. & S. F. R. R. in the fall of 1879. Dr. S. was born in Geneva, Ill., September 25, 1852, and resided in his native town until 1860, when he went to Syracuse, Ill., and remained three years. Prior to coming to Kansas, he resided in Lee County, near Mendota, Ill. He graduated from East Paw Classical Seminary, with degree of B. S., and from Rush Medical College in the spring of 1878. He was married at Nickerson, March 31, 1882, to Emma Mahon, a native of Ohio. Dr. Smolt is a member of Kansas State, Kansas Southern, and Kansas Central Medical societies; also of A., F. & A. M., A. O. U. W., and Select Knights.

G. W. WRIGHT, livery, feed, and sales stable, was born in Ohio, April 4, 1839, and when about fifteen years of age moved with his parents to Illinois. In 1862 he enlisted in Company C, Ninety-fourth Regiment Illinois Infantry, and served with his command in the Western and Gulf departments, and participated in a great number of engagements, among them Prairie Grove, Ark., Vicksburg, Atchafalaya, La., Titi, Miss., and at Forts Morgan and Gaines, Mobile, and was mustered out in the summer of 1865. In 1869 he moved to Missouri and came from there to Kansas in 1871, and located a homestead in Reno County, four miles east of Nickerson and engaged in farming. In 1874, when the crops were destroyed by the grasshoppers he and Mr. G. D. Barclay engaged in buffalo hunting, having in charge a number of the citizens of Reno County, and in this manner supplied the settlers with meat, and continued hunting in connection with his farming for several years. In 1878 he came to Nickerson and engaged in the livery business. He now has a stable 30x80, with a capacity for sixty horses and has capital to the amount of $1,500 invested in stock. He also owns a large billiard hall 20x58, with two tables worth at least $1,000, and owns three residences in town. Was married in 1861 to Miss Mary J. Parmer, a native of Ohio. They have six children, Lincoln, John E., Dick, Gertrude, Maud, and Nellie. In 1881-2 he served as Deputy Sheriff of Reno County. Is Constable and has held the position ever since the organization of the township, and is also City Marshall and has been for three years.

[TOC] [part 7] [part 5] [Cutler's History]