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


[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]


The first election held in Rice County was on September 26, 1871. W. T. Nicholas for County Clerk, received all the votes that were cast. Moses Burch, William Lowrey and S. H. Thompson were elected County Commissioners; T. C. Magoffin, County Treasurer; James J. Spencer, Sheriff; J. W. Holmes. Coroner; G. W. Poole, Register of Deeds; T. S. Jackson, County Surveyor; Levi Jay, Probate Judge; H. Decker, County Attorney; William H. Van O?mum, Clerk of the District Court. Neither Evan C. Jones or S. H. Thompson acted as County Commissioners, directly following their elections. Atlanta received sixty-four votes for county seat; Union City, about three miles southeast of Atlanta, had forty-eight votes.

At the general election held November 7. 1871, the foregoing named officers were mostly re-elected. J. M. Leidigh was elected a Commissioner in place of S. H. Thompson; Henry Fones was elected Coroner; W. P. Brown, County Attorney; Evan C. Jones, County Surveyor and Superintendent of Public Instruction; Rev. F. J. Griffith, Representative to the Legislature, receiving eighty-five votes and seventy-seven majority.

In March, 1872, S. H. Thompson was appointed to succeed J. M. Leidigh as Commissioner. In June T. J. Fulton succeeded W. P. Brown as County Attorney.

November 5, 1872, on the vote for Representative, F. J. Griffith received fifty-nine; H. P. Ninde, eighty-six; William Lowrey ninety-four. Since then its Representatives have been elected as follows: In 1873, Rev. M. J. Morse; 1874, Dr. S. M. Wirt; 1875, Ansel R. Clark; 1876 and 1882, Dr. G. Bohrer; 1878 and 1880, Rev. John G. Eckles.

Rice County at first was in the Twentieth Senatorial District, and J. H. Prescott of Saline was its Senator. Under the next apportionment it was in the Twenty-ninth District, and John H. Edwards of Ellis, and Solomon Stephens of McPherson represented it in the Senate. By the Apportionment Act of 1876 it was located in the Thirty-seventh District, and Thomas T. Taylor of Reno, J. C. Strong of Pawnee and Simon Motz of Ellis have been its Senators. By the Apportionment Act of 1881, with Barton and Rush, it constitutes the Thirty-sixth Senatorial District, and elects a Senator in November, 1884. It is the One Hundredth and First Representative District; it was the One Hundred and Fourteenth by the apportionment of 1876.

At first Rice County was in the Eighth Judicial District and was attached to Ellsworth County for judicial purposes. W. H. Canfield was then Judge of the Judicial District. In 1872 and since then it has been in the Ninth District, and its Judges have been W. R. Brown, S. R. Peters and L. Houk.

The division of the townships of the county into Commissioner Districts is as follows: First District Farmer, Eureka, Lincoln, Pioneer, Raymond, Center and Valley. Its population in 1880 was 3,109. Second District -- Sterling, Atlanta and Victoria. Its population in 1880 was 3,937. Third District -- Union and Washington. Its population was 2,246 in 1880.

County Commissioners -- Daniel M. Bell, Theodore A. Davis, Evan C. Jones, Moses Burch, J. M. Leidigh, William Lowrey, S. P. Thornpson and Alexander Clark successful contestants against W. L. Smith, Peter Goech, O. Y. Smith, Thomas H. Wible, George D. M. Goff, W. C. Willard, J. K. Miller, J. S. Chapin. James E. Perdue, J. M. L. Gore, George F. Miller, Samuel Cameron and J. C. Seaward. The Commissioner longest in service was William Lowrey.

County Clerks -- Edward H. Dunham, William T. Nicholas and C. M. Rawlings have been the Clerks; Mr. Nicholas having held the office from September. 1871 to January, 1882.

County Treasurers -- T. C. Magoffin, B. E. Lawrence, Patten Himrod and James E. Perdue have been the treasurers.

Register of Deeds -- G. W. Poole, J. Q. Manning, E. J. Arnold, John W. White, Moses Burch and J. F. Crocker have filled this office.

County Surveyors -- T. S. Jackson, Evan C. Jones, Kirk Himrod, H. P. Colegrove, Warren McClure, Frederic E. Pratt, and Jesse Brown have been the surveyors elected and appointed. Taylor J. K D. Howard, Henry Sherman. W. L

Sheriffs -- James J. Spencer, Joseph Taylor, J. M. D. Howard, Henry Sherman, W. L. Smith and T. A. Butler have been the sheriffs.

Coroners -- J. W. Holmes, Henry Fones, C. W. Hodge, Carlos A. Clobridge and W. M. Lamb have been the coroners elected and appointed.

Clerk of the District Court -- William H. Van Ornum, T. H. Watt, J. H. Stubbs, William R. Lee and S. J. Smith have been the district clerks.

County Attorneys -- W. P. Brown, T. J. Fulton, I. H. Ricksecker, Ansel R. Clark, John M. Muscott, John W. White, A. J. Abbott and J. H. Bailey have been the public prosecutors.

Probate Judges -- Levi Jay, W. B. Connor, G. W. Voyls, C. T. Daniels, S. H. Jones and George W. Clark have been the judges.

Superintendent of Public Instruction -- Evan C. Jones, R. D. Stephenson, Mrs. N. E. Harley and J. K. Farrar have superintended the public school work.


In the Kansas House of Representatives of 1872 Rev. F. J. Griffith represented Rice County; Rev. C. C. Hutchinson represented Reno County, which had been organized January 1, 1872, and on the 6th day of January had elected Mr. Hutchinson by a vote returned of 112, its Representative to the State Legislature. It was a patent fact that C. C. Hutchinson, et al., of Reno County desired the south tier of the Congressional townships of Rice County so as to make the town of Hutchinson an eligible county seat for Reno, and the interests of Atlanta and the northern portion of Rice County seemed not to be averse to parting with the said Township 22 in Ranges 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, one- fifth of the territory of Rice, so as to prevent Peace, now Sterling, from having good chances of being the county seat of Rice. March 7, 1872, an act took effect placing the territory above named in Reno County, Mr. Hutchinson's bill providing for the same having passed the House February 14 by a vote of 59 to 27, as appears from the journal. Mr. Griffith voted for it, Mr. Hutcninson against it.

April 12, 1876, an election was held for the relocation of the county seat with the following result: For Peace (now Sterling), 336; for the Center, 457; majority for the Center 121. The location of the Center was on Section 4, Township 20, Range 8, and four acres of said section was conveyed to Rice County by Truman J. Lyon and wife May 26, 1876, and recorded June 2,1876. On June 17, an election was held for the purpose of voting on loan and the public buildings, and the proposition was carried by a majority of sixty-six. In August, 1876, E. C. Sooy of Great Bend had the contract for erecting the court house at Lyons, (raking its name from Mr. Lyon) for $10,400. The Commissioners appointed G. W. Fulton superintendent of construction of the court house. The Commissioners accepted the court house from Mr. Sooy, the contractor about June 20, 1877. County Clerk Nicholas took possession of his office in the court house December 20, 1876. The building is of brick and a neat structure. The court house yard is very well adorned with thirty trees. The county has a poor farm valued at about $3,000. It has free bridges aggregating about $2,500 in value.

A Statutory Anomaly. -- In chapter 24 of Dassier's Complied Laws of Kansas, Section 61 defines the boundaries of Reno County and its northern tier of townships, embraces Town 22, of Ranges 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10; while Section 63 of said act in bounding Rice County, locates Town 22, of Ranges 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, as its southern tier of townships, making this same territory of 180 square miles in Section 61, in Reno, and in Section 63, in Rice County. By the last Section, Nickerson, an important railroad station, would be in Rice County, and the southeast corner of Rice County, two miles from Hutchinson, the county seat of Reno.

A future reviser of the statues of Kansas will undoubtedly take cognizance of this in-harmony of the two co-related Sections of Chapter 24, defining the boundaries of the counties of Reno and Rice.


In 1871, there was (sic) 130 persons of school age in the county; in 1872, there was (sic) 293; in 1873, 476; in 1874, 785; in 1875, 913; in 1876, 1,438; in 1877, 1,794; in 1878, 2 ,577; in 1879, 3,175; in 1881, 3,258; in 1882, 3,488.

The number of organized School Districts in the county in 1872, was 9; in 1873, 14; in 1874, 37; in 1875, 41; in 1876, 50; in 1877, 58; in 1878, 60; in 1879, 62; in 1881, 71; in 1882, 72, with 87 school buildings and 95 school rooms.

The total expenditures for school purposes in 1872, was $118; for 1873, $1,629; for 1874, $8,685; for 1879, $22,895.33; for 1882, $49,782.

The total valuation of school property for 1872, was $486; for 1873, $11,500; for 1874,. $13,600; for 1875, $18,546; for 1877, $21,701; for 1879, $38,016; for 1882, $49,782.

The average pay of male teachers per month. In 1882, was $33.33; of female teachers, $27.54.

Before the establishment of County Normal Institutes, in 1877, a great deal of interest had been manifested by the teachers of the county in their work, and many teacher's meetings had been held. During the six years of Normal Institutes, the teachers of Rice County have been in attendance upon their Institute in numbers ranging from 50 to 69. The conductors have been H. P. Colegrove, J. R. Campbell, L. T. Gage, H. K. McConnell and W. G. Hamrick. The school at Sterling employs six teachers, W. G. Hamrick, principal. Rice County has a Teachers' Association; its President for 1883 is Prof. W. G. Hamrick; its Secretary, Mrs. Annie W. Sollett. It was organized May 25, 1878.

Rice County School Bonds -- The total bonded debt of the School Districts of Rice County, as reported for 1882, was $34,732. This aggregate does not include the following lot which are a part of the Permanent School Fund Investment, as officially reported, and which bring a historic name for the town of Raymond, the station west of Sterling, on the A., T. & S. Fe Railroad:

(Editor: Table showing 20 bonds of $500.00 each issued in Rice County, School District 8, all on August 26, 1872, to Andrew Terry, for a total of $10,000.)

The foregoing described bonds were purchased on October 16, 1872, of B. Haywood, of Topeka, for the sum of $9,237, by the School Fund Commissioners. A Committee of the senate of 1876, consisting of Messrs. Peifer, of Montgomery; Johnson of Leavenworth, Barnum, of Bourbon; Judd, of Wyandotte, and McMillan, of Linn, submitted a report February 11, 1876, concerning this matter, which is found In the Senate journal, of 1876, pages 254, 255, 256, and 257.

In the House Journal of 1875, pages 541 to 820 inclusive, is a completer (sic) history of the matter, submitted to Speaker Haskell by the Committee on State Affairs, consisting of Messrs. Taylor, of Reno; Brumbaugh, of Marshall; Kellogg, of Clay; Huff, of Wyandotte; and Page, of McPherson.

In his report for 1875, Atty. Gen. Randolph stated:

"I have brought suit against said District for the sum of $2,762.80, with interest on $762.80 of said sum from June 1, 1873, and with interest on $1,000 of said sum from June 1, 1874, and with interest on $1,000 of said sum from June 1, 1875; which suit is now pending in the District Court of Rice County."

In his report for 1876, the Attorney-General, in a semi-humorous manner, explains his action in the premises in the following manifesto:

"District No. 8, Rice County, was organized July 18, 1872, and was then bounded as follows: Commencing where the south line of Township 19 intersects the east line of Range 10, west; thence south with said range line to the south line of Township 21; thence west with said township line to the east line of Range 11, west; thence north with said range line to the north line of Township 19; thence east with said township line to the place of beginning said boundaries including a territory twelve miles long and six miles wide, and having almost as many square miles as several of the minor Germanic principalities -- Schwartzburg - Sondershausen, for example.

"At the time said suit was begun, three other school districts (Nos. 38, 39 and 40) had been in part organized out of the territory originally included in District No. 8, so that said district then consisted merely of a sandy, uninhabited and treeless tract of land six miles in length and three miles In width, lying wholly south of the Arkansas River. Thus had the district been designedly (sic) dissected quite out of existence. When the above action was begun against School District No. 8, its corporate life had been so nearly gerrymandered out of it that it has never since been able to be brought into court and to have and enjoy its day therein. It had then almost breathed its last. Having no director, no treasurer, no clerk, no schoolhouse having thereon "a belfry and a good bell that can be heard two miles" (see Exhibit 6, attached to the above report, page 548 of the House Journal, 1876), that school district has become so nearly a nonentity as to be but the shadow of a shade and to exist only In name. Stat magni nominus umbra. It may to-day be looked upon as in fact defunct. Since its birth was illegitimate, it came to an untimely end by foul means, as was to be expected.

"Perhaps by some process akin to Huxley's theory of evolution, the remains of School District No. 8, Rice County, may someday be resurrected, a new corporate life be breathed into it, and the forlorn hic facet of to-day be blotted from its tombstone.

"At the late December term of the District Court of Rice County, for obvious reasons herein before appearing, I dismissed the suit begun against said school district as aforesaid.

"Who concocted the worthless bonds under consideration, and into whose pockets the net proceeds arising form the sale thereof finally found their way, fully appears in the testimony appended to the above report of the House Committee of State Affairs. The committee, at the close of their report, recommended that 'the Attorney-General of the State, under Section 2, Article 12 of the Constitution, commence suit against the stockholders of the Shawnee County Bank, the said bank having gone into liquidation; against the stockholders of the Marion County Bank, which bank has gone into liquidation; and against S. N. Wood, for the recovery of the amount ($9,237) paid on said bonds, and the interest thereon.'"

"After the above report was submitted, it was moved that the same lie upon the table, and that 300 copies thereof be printed, which motion prevailed. It seems that thereafter the House took no further action in the foregoing matter." Three-fourths of the members of the House were registered as straight Republicans, and the House of 1877 more decidedly Republican, made S. N. Wood a presiding officer. Mr. Wood, as a candidate for Congress in 1882, received sixty-one per cent of the vote of Raymond Township.


The Rice County Herald was started at Atlanta April 19, 1872, by a Mr. Frazier, and soon alter it was sold to the Shinn brothers. They sold it to Smith & Wallace, who soon after moved it to Peace, now Sterling. In 1875 It was moved to Hutchinson, Reno County.

The Rice County Gazette. -- Edward Bronson Cowgill commenced at Peace, January 20, 1876, the publication of the Gazette, a Republican paper. In 1879 It became an exponent of the principles of the Nationalists, but In September, 1880, it returned to the support of the successful Republican party.

In 1876, two monthly real estate papers were started at Peace -- the Homesteader by Smith, Stubbs and Ricksecker; the Valley Echo, by Clark and Page. These papers were enthusiastically devoted to the interests they represented.

The Weekly Bulletin. -- This paper, published by Charles D. Ulmer, was started May 17, 1877, at Lyons. He removed it to Sterling November 1, 1877, and it remains as one of the able Republican papers of the county.

The New Home. -- J. H. Ricksecker started this paper in 1879 at Sterling as a monthly. It was Republican in politics.

The Recorder. -- In September, 1879, Rev. W. J. Williams started this paper as a monthly, devoted to the upbuilding of the Congregational denomination of Christians.

The Lyons' Republican. -- Clark Conkling commenced the publication of the Republican at Lyons in September, 1879. Its location insures for it a good permanent support.

The Central Kansas Democrat. -- This paper was started at Lyons in 1879, by Edward W. Wood and W. J. Fuller. It is aggressively Democratic in its politics. Mr. Wood is the present editor and proprietor.

The Rural West. -- W. E. Fosnot and brother commenced the publication of this paper at Little RIver in 1881. It Is devoted to agricultural interests, quite specially to the cultivation of sorghum.


Rev. F. J. Griffith, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in May, 1871, preached the first sermon in the county in a sod house on Section 9, Township 19, Range 9; the second sermon at the residence of Jeremiah C. McNames in the same township, 19; the third in the Atlanta Hotel, May 14, 1871. The first Methodist Episcopal Church was formed June 1, 1872, by Rev. M. J. Morse, where 'Buffalo Bill' had his ranch, at a point where the Santa Fe trail crosses the Big Cow Creek. The denomination (sic) in 1882 have sixteen organizations, with a membership of 663; five church edifices, church property valued at $11,000.

Wesleyan Methodist. -- April 21, 1872, Rev. H. T. Besse organized the first church in the county at Peace, now Sterling, with the following named persons as members: Rev. Henry T. Besse, Harriet Besse, J. W. McPherson, Matlilda McPherson, G. W. McPherson, Norman Walt and Orange S. Young. Rev. Thomas H. Watt, of this church, was the first settler in the southern part of the county.

Congregationalists. -- Rev. J. B. Schlicter in August, 1872, organized the first Congregational Church in the county at Peace. This society erected the first church edifice in the county at a cost of some $2,000. There are four organizations of this kind in the county; a membership of about 200; church property $8,500 in value.

Presbyterians. -- Rev. R. M. Overstreet organized at Atlanta in July, 1873, the first Presbyterian Church in the county with a membership of eight. There are now four churches with a church property valued at $7,500; members nearly 100.

United Presbyterians. -- This denomination has an organization at Sterling, a neat, small church edifice, and some forty members. There are two organizations in the county.

Reformed Presbyterians. -- One small organization of this school exists at Sterling.

The "Friends". -- This society erected the second house of worship in the county, having organized their society at Peace in February, 1875. Their number is 360 in the county. There are three organizations. Church property is valued at $2,500.

The 'Christian'. -- The Church of the Disciples have four organizations in the county. Their membership is 200; church property is $1,000.

Baptists. -- This body was organized in 1875, and in 1882 had eight organizations, with some 200 members in the county.

Lutherans. -- There is one church of this denomination in the county, with some twenty members.

German Methodist. -- One church; forty members; edifice $500.

Roman Catholics. -- There are four churches of this faith in the county; a membership of 630; a church property valued at $800.

Lutherans, United Brethern and Universalists are scattered over the county; the U. B.'s have an organization at Lyons.

Chapter. No. 50. R. A. M. -- Patten Himrod M. E. H. P.; W. F. Steven, Secretary.

Sterling Lodge, No. 171. A. F. & A. M. -- H. S. Millard, W. M., George W. Clark, Sec'y.

Sterling Lodge, No. 131. I. O. O. F. -- J. C. Steward, N. G.; J. M. McGee, Sec'y.

American Legion of Honor. -- Eureka Council, No. 358. G. H. Lynds, commander; C. H. Brown, secretary.

Knights of Honor. -- Sterling Lodge, No. 1058. J. K. Skiles, dictator; W. M. Lamb, reporter.

Enterprise Lodge, No. 548, Knights and Ladies of Honor. -- J. Allen Porter, secretary; John Weddle, protector.

Meads Post, No. 14, G. A. R. -- J. E. Davies, post commander; James D. English, adjutant.

Kit Carson Post, No. 20, G. A. R. -- Lyons. A. E. Magoffin, senior commander; S. J. Smith, Adjutant.

Lyons Lodge, No. 192, A. F. & A. M. -- Solon Gray, master; W. T. Nicholas, secretary.

Lyons Lodge, I. O. O. F. -- S. J. Smith, N. G.; J. F. Crocker, recording secretary.


The surface of the county is gently undulating. The lands in the county north of the Arkansas gradually descend toward the river, and they are nearly all tillable. The estimate of prairie is 98 per cent; of timber, 2 per cent; of upland, 85 per cent; of bottom land, 15 per cent. The average width of the bottoms on the large streams is about two miles; the width of the timber belts nearly one-fourth of a mile. Good springs are abundant, and well-water is found at an average depth of twenty-five feet. The varieties of timber are ash, box elder, coffee bean, cottonwood, elm, hackberry and mulberry. Artificial forests Are becoming quite abundant.

In 1873, Rice County had 29 acres in winter wheat; in 1880, 44,535. Spring wheat in 1872, 32 acres; in 1879, 8,873. Rye in 1872, 32 acres; in 1878, 2,285. Corn in 1872, 2,889 acres; in 1882, 64,303. Barley in 1872, 3 acres; in 1877, 2,244. Oats in 1872, 119 acres; in 1879, 9,544. Buckwheat in 1873, 4 acres; in 1881, 80. Irish potatoes in 1872, 49 acres; in 1880, 936. Sorghum in 1872, 29 acres; in 1882, 2,452. Broomcorn in 1874, 36 acres; in 1881, 2,425. Flax in 1874, 12 acres; in 1881, 221. In 1869, it had one acre in hemp; in 1881, 63. In 1881, it had 373 acres in rice corn; it had 6,223 sheep; in 1882, 9890 sheep; in 1882, a wool clip of 14,830 pounds. The value of its slaughtered animals for 1882 was $87,631; of poultry and eggs marketed, $19,254; of horticultural products, $347; produce of market gardens, $1,692. It has returned 3,355 horses; 413 mules; 2,947 milch cows; 5,628 other cattle; 7,694 swine. Poland-China and Berkshire breeds are preferred.

Red May and Turkey varieties of wheat have the preference. Lamberton Bros., Lyons, Report 112 acres of wheat, yielding 35 bushels per acre; Richard Early, 3 1/2 acres, 60 bushels per acre.

In 1872 the taxable property of Rice County, as determined by the State Board of Equalization, was as follows:

Personal property . . . . . .$ 47,900
1,905 Town Lots . . . . . . .  13,308
54,680 acres of land  . . . . 273,400
Total . . . . . . . . . . . .$334,608
The abstract of the County Clerk returned the land assessment at $307,180.

In 1875, the assessed value of the property in Rice County was established at $702,379.33; in 1876, at $842,515.62; in 1877, at $886,459.06; in 1878, at $936,815.29; in 1879, at $1,109,841.26; in 1880, at $1,117,429.23; in 1881, at $1,253,897.92; in 1882, at $1,540,673.44.

In 1870, there was a census return of five persons in Rice County; in 1875 there were 2,453; in 1880, 9,292, of whom 9,235 were white, of males 21 years of age and over, of colored there was 12; of foreign birth, 404; natives, 2,041. The returns of the assessors of population for 1881 was 8,114; for 1882, it was 8,546.

[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]