|KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS|
|PART 1:||Natural Characteristics | Map and Population | Early Settlers | Organization and County Officers | Local Matters | School and Agricultural Statistics|
ROOKS County is in the second tier of the northwestern counties of Kansas, and fifth from the western boundary of the State. It contains 576,000 acres of land and is divided into twenty-one townships.
The general characteristics of the county as to soil, climate, &c., are similar to its neighboring counties, the soil possessing the same wonderful fertility and retention of moisture. Northwestern Kansas has been under-rated as an agricultural region, on account of the slovenly mode of farming adopted by too many of its early settlers. It may be set down as a verity that industrious and intelligent farmers can produce abundant crops of wheat, corn, oats, barley, sorghum, broom corn, potatoes and other products usually grown in this latitude as any section of this wonderful State, Rooks is well adapted for both agriculture and the pasturage of stock, being well watered and the land rich and undulating.
The face of the county may be thus divided: Upland, 80 per cent; and bottom land, 20 per cent; forest (government survey), 1 per cent; prairie, 99 per cent. Average width of bottoms, one and a half miles. The general surface of the country is level, with bluffs in southeastern portion of the country. There are belts of timber, red and white elm, cottonwood, ash, hackberry, black walnut and cedar, in narrow belts along the streams. In some sections of the county gypsum is found. No coal has yet been discovered. Beautiful magnesian lime stone is abundant and is extensively used for building purposes in both country and the towns. From 1875 when the first reliable census was taken, the population has increased from 567 to 9,432 the present year, which shows a rapid increase, fully keeping pace with neighboring counties.
POPULATION (FEDERAL CENSUS).
1880 ---- Alcona Township 272 Ash Rock " 485 Belmont " 240 Bow Creek " 331 Corning " 381 Farmington " 610 Greenfield " 366 Hobart " 301 Iowa " 421 Lowell " 367 Medicine " 474 Paradise " 500 Plainville " 551 Rush " 314 Stockton Tp. Including Stockton City 656 Sugar Loaf Township 333 Twin Mound " 426 Walton " 538 ----- Total 8,112 Stockton City 411
The first settlers in Rooks County were ten persons engaged in the stock business named James, Thomas, Joseph, John and Francis McNulty (brothers, originally from Massachusetts), Tunis Bulas, John Wells, John Powell, Seal Northup and Capt .J. Owens. They arrived in January, 1871, and all took the first claims made in the county, in what afterward became Stockton Township. They came from Washington County, Kan., and with the exception of Jas. McNulty and Capt. Owens all became permanent residents. Soon after these settlers followed John Shorthill, who still resides on his original claim in Lowell Township. Mrs. Robert E. Martin, who came with her husband and family in the fall of 1871, was the first woman who settled in Rooks County. She still resides in Lowell Township. Following these early settlers soon came Thomas Boylan, Henry Purdy, S. C. Smith, M. M. Stewart, G. W. Patterson, Henry Hill, Geo. Steele, John Russell, Lyman Randall, John Lawson, W. H. Barnes, Geo. W. Beebe, the Dibbles, Parks, and others, who are still residents of the county.
The first house erected in Stockton Township, and Rooks County, was erected in February, 1871, by the McNulty brothers, two and a half miles south of the county town on the south side of South Solomon. The first marriage occurred in Lowell Township, January 1, 1873. William E. Newton was married to Mary M. Young, by E. M. Cooper, a Justice of the Peace.. Since that time two hundred and eighty-five marriage licenses have been issued by the probate judge of Rooks County. The first child born in the county was Myrtle Maude, daughter of Thomas McNulty, born Christmas night, 1871, on Elm Creek, three miles east and south of Stockton. The first death in the county was Erastus Foster, two miles from Stockton, in the spring of 1873. He was buried in the Stockton grave-yard.
On the 7th of June, 1875, two men, with thirty-five Texas ponies, came to the South Fork, near Stockton, and encamped, and gave notice that they desired to dispose of their stock. The people of the village soon gathered to inspect the ponies, and one of the two strangers went up town to make some purchases. While the citizens were examining the livestock, the sheriff of Ellis County, named Ramsay, accompanied by Joseph McNulty, sheriff of Rooks, rode up, heavily armed, and announced that the ponies were stolen property. He ordered the thief to throw up his hands, but instead of obeying the order the man jumped behind a pony and made ready to shoot. Both Ramsay and the horse thief were armed with needle guns and fired simultaneously and both dropped dead. The thief's companion was hunted up and fired on and his jaw was broken, but he made his escape. Sheriff Ramsay, who had also served as city marshal of Hays City, had killed nine men while in the discharge of his official duties.
In 1872 two boys named Roberts who had made a claim in Medicine Township, were fired on and killed by a desperado named Johnson.
In 18773 a cattle dealer from Kentucky, was murdered, robbed and buried in the sand twelve miles east of Stockton. A day or two afterwards the body was discovered by some children. Friends in Kentucky were notified and the body was sent to his former home for interment.
ORGANIZATION AND COUNTY OFFICERS.
Rooks County was organized November 26, 1872, "on the petition of more than forty freeholders." Gov. Harvey appointed temporary officers, and selected Stockton as the temporary county seat. The special commissioners, Lyman Randall and Lewis Stults, appointed George W. Beebe, Clerk. At the first regular election, held December 31, 1872, at Lowell, Stockton, Paradise and Bow Creek precincts, the following officers were elected: Joseph McNulty, Representative; M. Drake, Probate Judge; John Russell, Sheriff; L. C. Smith, County Clerk; Joseph Brossard, Treasurer; Albert Cooper, Surveyor; Thomas Boylan, District Clerk; John M. Park, Superintendent of Schools; D. K. Dibble, Attorney; L. C. Smith,, Register of Deeds; D. W. Gaun, Coroner; Lyman Randall, D. O. Adams, Lewis M. Stults, Commissioners. For county seat, Stockton received ninety-five; Lowell, fifty-two. Whole number votes cast, 147.
November, 1873. - H. R. Taylor, Representative: G. W. Patterson, Probate Judge; L. C. Smith, County Clerk and Register of Deeds; George W. Norcutt, Sheriff; M. M. Stewart, Treasurer; Harvey Mitchell, County Clerk; W. H. Barnes, County Attorney; SS. Boggs, Surveyor; J. D. Perty, Coroner; D. C. Foote, Superintendent; Willis Reed, Commissioner First District; James Strout Commissioner Second District.
November, 1874. - Frank McNulty, Representative; George W. Patterson, Probate Judge; Joseph McNulty, Sheriff; J. H. Mitchell, District Clerk; A. T. Avery, Superintendent of Schools; W. H. Barnes, Attorney; L. D. Reno, Coroner; John Marshall, Commissioner Third District.
November, 1875 - Moses Adamson, Representative; L. C. Smith, County Clerk and Register of Deeds; M. M. Stewart, Treasurer; John Russell, Sheriff; S. S. Boggs, Surveyor; John Hill, Coroner; L. W.. Butts, Commissioner.
November 1876 - S. S. Boggs, Representative; James A. French, Probate Judge; E. Bartholomew, District Clerk; M. Adamson, Superintendent of Schools; A. L. Patchin, County Attorney; J. S. McComb, Commissioner.
November, 1877 - John Shaw, Representative; J. H. Mitchell, County Clerk; E. F. Randall, Treasurer ; J. H. Mitchell, Register of Deeds; S. S. Boggs, Surveyor; John Hilts, Coroner; Thomas McNulty, Henry Dunn, John Marshall, Commissioners.
November, 1878 - R. S. Shorthill, Commissioner; S. S. Boggs, Representative;; A. L. Patchin, Attorney; J. A. French, Probate Judge; W. H. Barnes, Superintendent of Schools; J. W. Newell, District Clerk.
November, 1879 - M. M. Stewart, Treasurer; J. H. Mitchell, County Clerk; John Shaw, Sheriff; S. S. Boggs, Surveyor; John Hill, Coroner; A. M. King and Eli Sherman, Commissioners; Nat Mullon, Register of Deeds.
November, 1880 - A. B. Montgomery, Representative; J. G. Denny, Probate Judge; C. W. Smith, Attorney; J. W. Callender, District Clerk; J. B. Clark, Superintendent of Schools; W. A. Fallis, Commissioner.
November, 1881 - M. M. Steward, Treasurer; A. J. Davis, County Clerk; Dr. H. Hill, Register of Deeds; M. P. Isenbeck, Sheriff; S. S. Boggs, Surveyor; T. C. McBreen, Coroner; C. Schults, Commissioner.
A county court house, 42x52 feet, was erected in 1881, at a cost of $5,000. This splendid structure is built of the elegant magnesium limestone, found in large quantities in the immediate neighborhood. The city of Stockton paid $3,000 for the walls, and the house was finished at the expense of the county. The early courts were held in the hall over the stone store, and afterwards other rooms were used for court purposes. A strong jail built of cottonwood logs, and on which many tons of iron were used to strengthen it has been built near the court house. Before the completion of the jail, prisoners were taken to Ellis County for safe-keeping.
The two mills and creamery mentioned below are all located in the neighborhood of Stockton.
W. W. Watson, grist mill; capital invested, $9,000; value of product, $110,000.
J. A. French, grist mill; capital invested, $6,000; value of product, $100,000.
C. H. Buschman, creamery; capital invested, $3,000; value of product, $32,000.
These establishments give employment to eight teams and twenty men.
The County Agricultural Society was first organized in 1879 and held a fair at Stockton the same year. The officers were: L. C. Smith, President; Lloyd Selby, Secretary, and C. C. Chapman, Treasurer. A number of untoward circumstances caused failures to hold meetings in 1880 and 1881, but the present year a re-organization was effected, and a very successful fair closed at Stockton October 5th. The present officers are: L. C. Smith, President; J. B. Clark, Secretary, and J. C. Denny Treasurer.
Newspapers. - The Rooks County Record, the Republican journal of the county, was established December 6, 1879, by W. L. Chambers and T. C. McBreen. The Record has been regularly issued ever since. It is published in quarto form, and its columns display both ability and energy. October 16, 1882, J. W. Newell, the pioneer printer of the county, purchased Mr. McBreen's interest in the establishment. The Record is bold and outspoken in defence (sic) of its principles, and enjoys a large circulation and a liberal advertising patronage.
The Stockton News, the able greenback labor paper, was the first journal established in Rooks County. J. W. Newell started the News January 6, 1876, as an advocate of republicanism. For one year the office was removed to Plainville, where a paper was published but a return to Stockton was found necessary. It was but a five column folio at the beginning, but is now a six column quarto. The paper enjoys a liberal patronage. During the early part of 1882 B. C. Maynard became proprietor and editor, and the News became an advocate of the principles of the national labor party.
Churches and Sabbath Schools. - There are thirteen church buildings in the county, erected at an expense of $6,300, with a seating capacity of 1,300. To these churches are attached 466 members. In addition there are many church organizations. The Congregationalists have six organizations and 136 members. The Presbyterians have three organizations, and 70 members. The Methodist Episcopals have five organizations, four resident clergymen, and a membership of 160. The Christian denomination has three organizations, with a membership of 65. The United Brethern have seven organizations and a membership of 110. There are six Catholic congregations in the county, with a membership of 130. Their house of worship in Stockton is the most expensive church building in the county. It is 33x50, and built of stone. The cost of the house was $2,000. The Congregationalists also have a substantial house in Stockton, built of magnesian limestone at an expense of nearly $2,000. The Baptists, who, by sermon preached in the county (at Stockton), in 1873, have two church organizations, at Motor and Stockton, with a membership of 65. In addition to these, the Friends have one organization and the Evangelists one.
The Sabbath schools of Rooks County are mostly conducted on the "union" plan, two or more sects uniting in a neighborhood and working together. There are sixteen schools in the county, with 66 teachers and 792 scholars. The first Sabbath school started in the county was opened in May, 1873, five miles west of Stockton. "Father" Surfus was the first superintendent. Two of the most efficient workers in these schools are Rev. Mr. Sherman, of Stockton, and H. P. Hard, of the same township.
SCHOOL AND AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS.
In 1880 the number of school districts in the county was 77, an increase of 21 over the preceeding (sic) year. In 1882 the districts number 84. In 1880 the superintendent received 54 reports from the district clerks, 17 more than in the preceeding (sic) year. In 1882 the number of reports reached 70. The number of pupils enrolled in the public schools in 1879 was 614; in 1880, 2,385; in 1882, 2,580. Average daily attendance in 1879, 365; in 1880, 825; in 1882, 1,212. Number of teachers employed in 1879, 31; number in 1880, 54; in 1882, 71; average monthly salary of male teachers in 1879, $22.33; females, $14.38; average in 1880, for males, $17.97; females, $14.63; average salary in 1882, for males, $18.00; females, $15.00; Eight school houses were built in 1879, nine in 1880, and ten in 1881, including the high school at Stockton;, erected at a cost of $4,000. The total school expenditures for the year 1882 amounted to $3,307. The value of school property has steadily increased, and is now estimated at $7,300, against $1,872 in 1879. The assessed valuation of school property in 1879 was returned at $144,940; in 1880 it reached $250,313; in 1882 it is estimated at $290,505. The first regular pay school in Rooks County was taught by W. H. Barnes, a thoroughly educated gentleman from Minnesota, who came to the county in the spring of 1872, and began a school in Stockton the same season. For several years he continued to teach in the town school, but having a knowledge of law he commenced practice and was chosen county attorney. Mr. Barnes now resides in Stockton and enjoys a lucrative practice.
To show that Rooks is more than keeping pace with her sister counties in agriculture, the acreage and yield of the early years are compared with the amounts and yield of the present season: In 1878 the acreage was 5,211 and the yield of the principal articles as follows: winter wheat, 23,848 bushels; rye, 16,464 ; spring wheat, 24,358; corn, 46,740;; barley, 7,315; oats, 1,305; Irish potatoes, 8,160; sorghum, 6,497; millet and Hungarian, 744 tons; prairie hay, 400 tons; tobacco, cotton, broom corn, sweet potatoes, none. This year's crop makes the following exhibit, showing a large increase: winter wheat, 317,689 bushels; rye, 101,120; spring wheat, 16,320 bu.; corn, 600,000 bu.; prairie hay, 8,965 tons; oats, 38,475; Irish potatoes, 40,000 bu.; sweet potatoes, 3,750; sorghum, 119,900 gallons; broom corn, 813 tons; Hungarian and millet, 16,587 tons; Egyptian rice corn, 55,550; dairy products, 174,160 pounds butter. The aggregate value of these articles, not including 111 acres of flax, 9 acres of tobacco, and 5 acres of cotton, at their marketable value, shows the sum of $634,077! A considerable portion of these products will be required for home consumption, but much of it will be sent forward to market, and the returns will relieve the settlers of indebtedness.
The county contains, according to the assessor's returns for 1882: 2,401 horses, 443 mules, 2,664 milch cows, 4,283 other cattle, 16,000 sheep and 5,200 swine. Of trees planted there are 190 acres walnut, 15 acres maple, 55 acres honey locust, 588 acres cottonwood, and 417 acres of other varieties. Of fruit trees (not bearing), there are 8,747 apple, 104,777 peach, 2,534 plum, and 1,368 cherry. The number of bearing trees is inconsiderable. The value of the agricultural implements owned in Rooks County is $30,366.