JOHN MATTHEWS 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: Location | Map and Population | Municipal Townships | Early Settlement of the County
PART 2: Elections and County Officers | County Lines and County Seat | School Matters | Press History | Churches and Societies | Agricultural and Other Statistics
PART 3: Sterling
PART 4: Lyons | Biographical Sketches - Atlanta Township (Ahlberg - Jay)
PART 5: Biographical Sketches - Atlanta Township (Lasley - Workman)
PART 6: Little River | Chase
PART 7: Raymond | Miscellaneous


RICE, the central county of Kansas, was created by the Legislature of 1867, and was organized August 18, 1871. Its special County Clerk was Edward H. Dunham, its special County Commissioners were Daniel M. Bell, Theodore A. Davis and Evan C. Jones; temporary county seat Atlanta, which was located on the north one-half of Section 9, Township 20, Range 8, west of the sixth principal meridian.

It was named in honor of Samuel A. Rice, Brigadier General of United States Volunteers, who was killed at Jenkins Ferry, Ark., April 30, 1864.

Rice County embraces Ranges 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of Townships 18, 19, 20 and 21. Its northern boundary is 102 miles from Nebraska; its eastern, 179 miles from Missouri; its southern, 81 miles from Indian Territory; its western, 194 miles from Colorado. It is bounded north by Ellsworth, east by McPherson, south by Reno, west by Stafford and Barton counties.

Four counties lie between it and Nebraska; seven, between it and Missouri; three, between it and the Indian Territory; seven, between it and Colorado. It is twenty-four miles across it from north to south, thirty miles from east to west, having an area of 720 square miles. Its original area was 900 square miles. It embraced Township 22 in Ranges 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, now Reno.



POPULATION (Organized in 1871.)                  1880.
(a) Atlanta Township, including Lyons City . . . 1,335
(b) Farmer Township  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   876
(c) Lincoln Township . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   460
(d) Pioneer Township . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   393
(e) Raymond Township . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   571
(f) Sterling Township, including Sterling City . 1,702
(g) Union Township . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,460
(h) Valley Township  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   809
(i) Victoria Township  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   900
(j) Washington Township  . . . . . . . . . . . .   786
                                   Total         9,292
Lyons City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   509
Sterling City  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,014
(a) In 1871, from original territory;
    in 1874, parts to Union and Washington;
    in 1877, part to Victoria.
(b) In 1874, from part of Spencer;
    in 1879, parts to Lincoln and Pioneer.
(c) In 1879, from part of Farmer.
(d) In 1879, from part of Farmer.
(e) In 1874, from parts of Spencer and Sterling;
    in 1879, part to Valley.
(f) In 1871, from original territory;
    in 1872, part to Reno County;
    in 1874, parts to Raymond and Washington.
(g) In 1874, from part of Atlanta.
(h) In 1879, from part of Raymond.
(i) In 1877, from part of Atlanta.
(j) In 1874, from parts of Atlanta and Sterling.


The number of the municipal townships in Rice County is twelve, and may be described in the following manner:

Center.-- This township embraces Township 20, Range 9. Its northeast corner is watered by Cow Creek.

Lincoln.-- This township is quite well watered. Cow Creek and Plum Creek enters in its northwest corner. Its location is Township 19. Range 9.

Eureka.-- This, the latest formed municipality in the county, is Township 18, Range 9. Plum Creek passes through its southwest portion.

Farmer.-- This is the northwest township of the county, being Township 18, Range 10. The northeast part of it is watered by Plum Creek, the southern part by Cow Creek.

Pioneer.-- This township embraces Township 19, Range 10. Its northeast corner is watered by Cow Creek.

Raymond.-- This, the southwest township of the county, embraces Townships 20 and 21 of Range 10. It is watered by the Arkansas River and by Rattlesnake Creek.

Valley.-- This township embraces the west five-sixths of Township 20, Range 9. It is watered by the Arkansas and Rattlesnake, which empty into it near its western central part.

Sterling.-- This township contains Sterling, the largest town in the county. Its area is fifty-four square miles, embracing the south one-third of Township 20, Range 9, the east one-sixth of Township 21, Range 9, and Township 21, Range 8. The Arkansas passes through its southwest corner.

Atlanta.-- This, the central township of the county, has an area of sixty-nine square miles. It embraces the south two-thirds of Township 19, Range 8; the north two-thirds of Township 20, Range 8; the northwest quarter of Township 20, Range 7, and twelve sections in the southwest part of Township 19, Range 7. It is watered by Cow and Little Cow creeks and tributaries of the same. Lyons, the present county seat, located in the exact center of the county, is the objective point of this township.

Victoria.-- This township has an area of seventy-two square miles. It embraces the west one-half of Township 18, Range 7; Township 18, Range 8; the north one-third of Township 19, Range 8; twelve sections in the northwest part of Township 19, Range 8. It is watered by tributaries of the Little Cow Creek and the Little Arkansas River.

Union.-- This is the northeast township of the county and embraces in Range 6, Township 18 and 19 and the north one-half of Township 20, in Range 7, the east one-half of Townships 18 and 19, and the northwest quarter of Township 20. It is watered by the Little Arkansas and branches of the same; in the northeast part of the township is Mule Creek. which passes into Ellsworth County and empties into the Smoky Hill River. Its area is 135 square miles.

Washington.-- This, the southeast township of the county, embraces in Range 6, the south one-half of Township 20 and Township 21; in Range 7, the south one-half of Township 20 and Township 21. Its area is 108 square miles. Its southwest part is watered by Cow Creek; its northeastern by the Little Arkansas River.

The following is a list of the postoffices of the county in the fall of 1882: In Farmer Township is the postoffice of Glen Sharrald; in Eureka. Prosper; in Victoria. Kansas Center and Noble; in Union. Bangestown, Coopersburgh and Little River; in Lyons, Lyons and Mitchell; in Sterling, Sterling; in Valley, Alden; in Lincoln, Allegan and Chase; in Raymond, Raymond. New Cincinnati is a former postoffice in Center Township. Voyls, Wildwood, and Wayside are among the abandoned postoffices.


February 28, 1870, John A. Carlson homesteaded the northeast quarter of Section 3, Township 20, Range 6; Andrew John Johnson the northwest quarter of said section; C. S. Lindell the southeast quarter. April 4, 1870. August Johnson located a claim on the southeast quarter of Section 25 in the same town and range; John Enrick Johnson on the northeast quarter of said section; John P. Johnson on the east half of the northwest quarter of Section 24, said town and range. April 18, 1870. 0. W. Peterson on the northeast quarter of Section 14 of the same town and range.

August 20, 1870, R. M. Hutchinson, A. J. Howard and J. E. Perdue (firm of Hutchison & Co.) stopped upon the Little Arkansas River with 4,000 head of cattle. Messrs. Howard and Perdue located their claims in January, 1871.

March 1, 1872, a Sunday school was organized, and preaching had in Mr. H. P. Ninde's house, Rev. J. B. Schlichter. superintendent.

In April, 1871, Isaac Schoonover built his house on Plum Creek, hauling the lumber for it from Salina, sixty miles.

In November, 1872 0. Y. Smith built his house, bringing from Peoria, Ill., the brick for his chimney, having the first farmhouse in the county with a brick chimney.

Buffaloes were very plentiful in the spring and summer of 1871 in Rice County, and their meat was of great value to the early settlers. Leonard Loomis, on the day he was seventy five years old, killed five buffaloes at seven shots.

April 19, 1872, at 8 o'clock P. M., on the Santa Fe trail, near Little Cow Creek, in Atlanta Township, Probate Judges (sic) Levi Jay, by the silver light of the moon, united in marriage Daniel M. Bell and Miss Mary M. Houks.

April 3. 1871, Rev. F. J. Griffith turned the first furrow on his claim. In the same month P. G. Carter commenced breaking on the southwest quarter of Section 15, Township 20, Range 8.

June 23, 1872, a Sunday school was organized at Williston and Magoffin's Hall, at Atlanta; Dr. Henry Fones was elected superintendent; Mrs. William Lowrey and Mrs. F. Chitty, assistant superintendents; Mrs. M. Williston, secretary; W. T. Nicholas, assistant secretary.

August 10, 1882, Mr. Nicholas was a somewhat prominent candidate for Auditor in the Republican State Convention. August 31. 1882, William L. Brown, of Sterling was made the Democratic candidate far State Auditor, and at the polls, Rice County. gave him twenty majority, while Republican majorities in the county reached as high as 179.

H. L. Millard, of Sterling, on January 9, 1883, was elected Chief Clerk of the Kansas House of Representatives.

June 28, 1873, The Rice County Agricultural Society was formed. John M. Muscott was elected president; William C. Summer, vice-president; G. W. Voyls, secretary; T. C. Magoffin, treasurer; Moses Birch, Alexander Clark, M. J. Morse, J. H. Ricksecker, S. B. Terry and T. H. Watt, directors. During the year its membership reached 100. The society held a fair at Atlanta September 24 and 25, 1873. In 1877, at the Arkansas Valley Agricultural Society, Wilson Keys was chosen president; William R. Lee, vice-president; J. H. Stubbs, secretary; Samuel Jacobs, treasurer.

The Rice County Horticultural Society was organized November 8, 1871: Rev. J. B. Schlichter, president; Dr. George Bohrer, vice-president; C. Taber, secretary; S. B. Hampton. treasurer.

The Kansas Cane Growers and Manufacturers Association was organized at Sterling, December 29, 1881. Its officers were as follows: President, Reginald M. Sandys, of Sterling; Vice-President, John Bennyworth, Larned; Treasurer, J. V. Brinkman, Great Bend; Secretary, R. M. Rugg, Marion; Assistant-Secretary, W. E. Fostnot, Little River.

January 1, 1872, James A. Moore and Ada Cartwright were married by Judge Levi Jay. An early marriage in the county was that of Amelia, daughter of Rev. F. J. Griffith, to W. T. Nicholas.

John Quincy Adams. of Massachusetts, located at the mouth of Little Cow Creek in 1870.

Nelson Reed, who settled on Section 15, Township 20, Range 8, in 1870, claims to have been the first settler that found the first corner stone in the count erected by Government surveyors, which was located on Section 18 of said township and range. He made the first trip among the settlers to Ellsworth for provisions.

Leonard Russell came to the county in November, 1870. There were then four white men in the county.

Union City, the headquarters of the Ohio Colony, located about three miles southeast of Atlanta, was the locality where Edward Swanson murdered P. B. Shannon by shooting him, August 27, 1871. Swanson fled, and was never arrested or punished for his crime, though James J. Spencer, the Sheriff, started to make the arrest, but never returned to Rice County. Spencer, the northwestern township of the county, named after Spencer, was afterward changed to Farmer. It is said that Shannon, a short time before this occurrence, remarked, "You must kill a man, before you can have a graveyard."

John Chitty, aged eighteen years, son of Ferguson Chitty, died August 28, 1871, the first death among the settlers.

In September, 1871, in Atlanta Township, George and Angie, twin children of Robert and Elizabeth McKinnis, were born; in Union Township, a son of T. Cowger.

The first train of cars that passed through Rice County was on July 22, 1872, the line having been opened from Hutchinson to Larned.

The Salina, Atlanta & Raymond Railway Company was organized in 1872, and Rice County voted to its aid $175,000, but it became defunct.

It is reported that, in 1863, a train of emigrants was broken up near the Plum Buttes, in Farmer Township, and William Magee reported to Historian Muscott. Two miles from there, on the trail, in April, 1874, he found in the vicinity broken and partly burned wagons, plows, barrels, tubs, boxes and earthenware, and that for miles there lay scattered around unworn boots and shoes, crisped by prairie fires and the scorching sun, with other articles, indicating the place to have been the scene of a general massacre, as a row of graves was visible, for some years after, near this spot. Directly east of the Buttes, in a basin surrounded by sand hills, a small party of Mexicans were surprised, and all butchered, at about the same time of the first event. Tradition has it, that in 1846, a man by the name of Jarvis was murdered near the creek that bears his name, by three doctors, who were his companions, from the mountains. He was said to have much money.

Blackman E. Lawrence, County Treasurer of Rice County, in October, 1876, proclaimed that the safe of the County Treasurer was robbed of $9,000. Treasurer Lawrence resigned November 25, 1876, and was succeeded by Patton Himrod, who had been appointed by the County Commissioners. Willam T. Drew, of Burlingame, who had been County Clerk of Osage County six years, was employed as an expert, and a report was made in December that there was a deficit of $18,126. Mr. Lawrence was arrested and held for trial. A change of venue having been taken to Reno County, the trial commenced a (sic) Hutchinson in January, 1878, and in February, on a jury verdict of guilty, Judge Peters sentenced the prisoner three years to the State penitentiary.

Of the railroad lands in Rice County the A., T. & S. F. Railroad Company had 169,459 acres of which 66,415 acres remained unsold January 1, 1883. The Kansas Division of the U. P. Railroad had 24,456 acres.

The statistics of the county for 1874, show 180,299 taxable acres in Rice County; 12,387 under cultivation; 18,040 bushels of spring wheat; 1,092 of winter wheat; 2,880 of rye; 1,488 of barley; 30,220 of oats; 18 of buckwheat; 450 of sweet potatoes; 3,975 of Irish potatoes; 1,840 gallons of sorghum; 2,463 cattle; 10 sheep; 1,688 swine; 975 horses and mules. Relief bonds were voted by the county to the amount of $4,000, the vote being 136 to 117. S. T. Kelsey thought 500 persons in the county would need assistance; another correspondent to the State Board of Agriculture reported 450. W. T. Nicholas, County Clerk, reported: There will be unusual suffering in our county the coming winter, but how many families I am not prepared to state correctly. There was not anything raised but some wheat, oats, rye and barley, and very little of the above-mentioned articles, on account of the grasshoppers. Another correspondent reported that three-fourths of the people needed assistance, and added: Having traveled over the largest part of our county, I find that about three-fourths of our people are almost entirely destitute of food, fuel and clothing. Some are now living on boiled wheat, and not half enough of that. The amount of bonds issued will not be half the amount required to support the people until the new crops come in.

The Grasshopper Incursion of 1874. The centennial historian of Rice County, John M. Muscott, gives the following sketch of the grasshopper scourge:

"This pest, about the time of the first settlement of the county, had visited us on one or two occasions, and departed without any serious injury. But when they came in 1874, the details of the sufferings of our people at that period, in consequence of this terrible visitation, have been so freely and vividly portrayed through the press of the United States, as to render any extended repetition of them unnecessary at this time. Suffice it to say, that for five days preceding the appearance of the grasshoppers in that year, unusually hot winds from the southwest prevailed, until July 25, when the mercury stood at 106 degrees in the shade, 116 degrees in the sun, at 2 o'clock P. M. On the following day the wind suddenly shifted into the northeast, and about 2 o'clock P. M. the grasshopper storm burst upon us; and they increased in numbers until the 28th, when the climax was reached. The wind shifted on the following day to the south, and remained there until August 1, when it returned into the northeast, and on August 2, a fresh installment came from that quarter, and remained until August 7, when most of them took their departure, the wind still blowing from the northeast.

"For the first three days after their appearance, the whole heavens were darkened with their presence and the earth with their bodies. They covered every tree and plant, and every green thing -- the prairie and water courses. They flew like hail in the faces of men, dashed themselves against every object, animate and inanimate, and as they rushed through the air or near the earth, and struck an opposing object, the rattle of their contact resembled the sound of a hailstorm on the roof, or the clashing of sabres in the scabbards of a squadron of cavalry at full gallop. Like the frogs and the locusts in Pharaohs time, they were every where.

"When this scourge had fairly settled down upon us, the stoutest hearts quailed before it, and gloom was depicted on every countenance. The plow was left standing midway in the furrow, and for a while all farm labor was virtually suspended. The most gifted pen and the most eloquent tongue are inadequate for the task, for language is too poor to paint the scene of desolation wrought by the grasshoppers of 1874.

"But the silver lining soon rose above the dark cloud. Early in September, copious rains refreshed the parched earth, and thus prepared the way for the most bountiful crops the ensuing year that Kansas ever produced. Relief to the stricken people poured in from abroad, and never was aid more timely and necessary, or even more gratefully received by any people, than it was by the citizens of this county, that fall and the ensuing winter. For our people knew and felt that their destitution was not the result of slothfulness or extravagance on their part, and that no human foresight could have averted this calamity. Joyfully and without any humiliation on their part, they received the bounty of others. The scourge of 1874 was not wholly unmixed with blessings, nor without some useful lessons. Mens hearts grew larger and beat with quicker sympathy for each other, in the presence of this wide desolation."

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