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


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More or less uncertainty usually hangs around the question as to who was the first settler in the county, and while the question is one of but little, if any, importance in the multiplicity of transactions and incidents that make up the history of a county, yet it is one upon which men are more tenacious in their opinion than upon almost any other. The first attempt at settlement in what is now Saline County, of which there is any authentic account, was that made by P. B. Plumb, now United States Senator from Kansas, Major Pierce, nor a resident of Junction City, and one Mr. Hunter.

This party, as early as 1856, came as far west as the mouth of the Saline River, where they projected a town on the south side of the river, to which they gave the name of Mariposa. The name sounds very nicely, and is why it was not named Plumbville, or Piercetown, or Huntersburg, is yet a mystery. The selection of the site showed their good taste, because the place chosen was a delightful spot. The town grew to the dimensions of one log house above ground, and a well underground, when it was abandoned, and Saline County was left without an inhabitant. Col. Plumb went to Emporia, and afterward became United States Senator, another verification of Shakespeare that "there's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will." The attempt of the parties mentioned, can not be called a settlement in any sense. The second session of the Territorial Legislature, chartered, in 1856, a company that had been organized under the name of the "Buchanan Town Company," taking its name from the individual who, in that year, was elected to the office of President of the United States.

This company was granted wonderful powers. They could build cities, construct railways, improve water privileges, and erect salt works, and to aid them in doing all these things, they were to have several thousand acres of land. No use of being niggardily over a few acres of land, especially as it was not theirs to give, the whole being the property of the United States Government. However, acting under the powers conferred, during the summer of 1857 a settlement was attempted to be made at a point near the mouth of the Solomon River, in Saline County. A large tract of land was selected, a portion of which was set apart for a public square. Eight log cabins were erected by the company, two on each side of the square, and the town of Buchanan was now established. The name, however, had no attraction, and only two of the cabins were ever occupied.

The head of this enterprise was Richard Mobley, who resided at Ogden, in Riley County, and who was a member of the Lecompton Constitutional Convention. He occupied one of the cabins with his wife and child, but the latter dying soon after, Buchanan was abandoned, and once more Saline County was left without a settler. The log houses were, some two or three years afterward, destroyed by prairie fires, so that the last vestige of Buchanan perished in the flames.

In the spring of 1857 W. A. Phillips, who for some time previously had been traveling through the settled portions of Kansas, conceived the idea of making a tour on foot through a portion of the unsettled territory with the object of selecting a town site. To accompany him on his tour he engaged the services of an Englishman named Smith. Providing themselves with blankets, arms, ammunition, and stowage for several days provisions, they started out, taking conveyance as far as the vicinity of Fort Riley. From there they stated out on foot, following up the Smoky Hill River as far as the Saline, the course of which they followed for a short distance when they crossed to the Solomon, which they partially examined for a town site. By that time their rations were becoming quite low, and as there was no place nearer than fifty miles where they could replenish their store they struck for the Republican. They followed the Republican and Kaw until they reached Manhattan. Here they renewed their stock of provisions and started out again, following up the Blue till they came to the forks, where a few stakes were driven to indicate that the claim was marked. Following the West branch of the Blue they came to the Military, and turning into this they followed it until they reached Marysville. From Marysville they struck out for Richmond, a distance of fifty-one miles, which they accomplished in one day. Their journeyings extended over a period of two weeks and the average distance traveled each day was forty miles. To this trip is to be attributed the first permanent settlement in Saline County, because after thoroughly examining the grounds over which he traveled for a town site Col. Phillips determined to location the on banks of the Smoky. In accordance with this determination in February, 1858, he returned to the Smoky Hill Valley in company with A. M. Campbell and James Muir, three sons of "Auld Scotia," although somewhat degenerate or they would have given some name to the town they located to indicate in the far-off future that the founders of it were Scotchmen by birth although Americans by choice. On their way up the Smoky they passed through what had been established as Buchanan, where they found the log cabins still standing but vacant. On arriving at the Saline they found that some one had put up a log cabin on the northeast bank of the stream, not far from the Government bridge, and close to the cabin was a haystack at which some buffaloes were eating. On going up to the cabin they found it deserted and not a living thing of a domestic nature was to be seen around the premises. From the Saline they pushed on up to the Smoky until they reached that point where the river turned due south and here they drove their stakes, located a town site, to which they gave the name of Salina, and this was the first permanent settlement made in Saline County. In March, 1858, John and Goothart Schippel, brothers, being the party who had erected the log cabin on the bank of the Saline, returned and settled upon their claim, which they had only temporarily abandoned during the winter of 1857-58. At that time all the country west of the 6th principal meridian was unorganized territory, known as the Arrapahoe district. What is now part or Colorado was embraced in this district, and any person from this region, in a convention or other like assemblage, would be addressed as the "gentleman from Arrapahoe." Saline County was included in this unorganized territory, but in February, 1859, the Legislature passed a bill organizing and defining the boundary lines of five counties west of the 6th principal meridian, among them Saline County. The first stock of goods that was ever brought to Saline County was brought by George Pickard in 1858. The great floods that occurred in that year, carried away all the Government bridges on the Smoky, Saline and Solomon rivers. On reaching the Solomon, Mr. Pickard found the bridge gone and in order to get his goods across the river he had to construct a raft of wood and buffalo robes, on which he succeeded in getting them over, but in a somewhat damaged condition. The washing out of the bridges necessitated the laying of a road on the south side of the river from Salina to Wyandotte, which was a very difficult and arduous task. Before starting for his stock of goods which was not very large, Mr. Pickard had erected a small log house on Iron avenue, where the Opera House now stands, and here he deposited his stock and opened up for business. He had not been in the business but a few months when he sold out to W. A. Phillips, who increased the stock and established A. M. Campbell as salesman. In 1859 another store was started by H. L. Jones, making store number two. In 1859, quite a number of new settlers arrived, most of whom located in Salina or its immediate neighborhood. Among these was one Dr. Graw, a German, who came from Illinois. The doctor had two great passions, one for the violin and one for speculating in town sites. His great desire was to layout a town that should stand as a monument to his name, and in order to accomplish this he selected a piece of land on the banks of the Saline. At that time none of the lands west of the sixth principal meridian had been surveyed, but the doctor resorted to the primitive method of measuring with a string. To assist him in the survey, he took with him A. M. Campbell and A. C. Spillman, and when they had measured off what the doctor supposed to be a mile square, he gave the prescribed limits the name of Grawville, and promised Campbell and Spillman four lots each for their services. The doctor having located his town, immediately left, since which time nothing has been heard of him. In the spring of 1859, a great stream of fortune seekers passed through Salina on their way to the newly discovered auriferous fields of Pike's Peak. Salina, at that time, was the westernmost station on the Smoky Hill route to the Far West. They passed through with every conceivable idea of conveyance. Some went on foot, some on horses, some on mules, some on ponies, some with hand-carts, and some were furnished with good teams and outfits. It was in that year that W. A. Phillips built the first hotel in Salina, at the corner of Santa Fe and Iron avenues, he having hauled the pine lumber used in its construction, and the doors and windows from Kansas City. This building he afterwards sold to H. L. Jones, who occupied it as a store and hotel, Mr. Jones attending to the store part of the business, while Mrs. Jones, highly qualified by education and training, attended to the hotel part. During that year also, Israel Markley, a man of good business tact and a great deal of energy, erected two or three houses, and Salina commenced to make quite an appearance. The Legislature of 1859, as already stated, passed a bill organizing the county and and defining its boundaries, and by the same act created A. C. Spillman, Israel Markley and Charles Holtzman, a Board of County Commissioners, and the men so nominated became the first Board of Commissioners in the county. This Board met for the first time on the 16th day or April, 1860, and organized by electing Charles Holtzman, chairman and A. C. Spillman, clerk. The Board was sworn by Hugh M. Morrison, a Justice of the Peace. The following is a copy of the entry of the oath administered as taken from the Commissioner's journal:

Salina, April 27, 1860
Personally appeared before me, a Justice of the Peace in and for Saline County, Charles Holtzman, Israel Markley and A. C. Spillman, created County Commissioners under an act entitled "An act to organize the county of Saline and define the boundaries thereof," and were duly sworn to a faithful performance of their duties.
Justice of the Peace.

On May 5, 1860, the Commissioners divided the county into two municipal townships, named respectively Elm Creek and Spring Creek. An election was also ordered at the same meeting to take place on the first Monday in July, for the election of county Saline the voting place to be at the house of W. A. Phillips . At that election D. L. Phillips, Israel Markley and Charles Holtzman were chosen. Commissioners, Jacob Cass, Treasurer, and L. F. Parsons, Sheriff. The records do not show that any other officers were chosen, at that election, but in October, I861, the Commissioners appointed R. H. Bishop, Clerk and Register of Deeds. In the spring of 1860, another crowd of gold seekers passed through the county, bound for Pike's Peak, and with them was one Dr. Cobb, who had come from Virginia. On reaching Salina, the doctor concluded he would go no farther, and leaving the party, he selected a claim on the river, a few miles below town, on which he located, and in the fall of that year he died, and was buried in a coffin, or box, made of two inch plank. At that time the great need of the county, and Salina especially, was a grist and saw-mill, as there was none nearer than about fifty or sixty miles and no pine lumber for building purposes could be had nearer than Kansas City, and to make the trip there and back required from two to three weeks. Plenty of good native timber was to be found along the streams of the county, but to prepare it for use required a saw-mill. In order to supply this want, W. A. Phillips, whose knowledge of the milling business scarcely enabled him to distinguish a millstone from a hopper went to the eastern portion of the State and purchased a grist and saw-mill, and a lathe, which he hauled to Salina by team. They were set up on the Smoky, and for a time the old saw was kept buzzing at a lively rate. As a paying investment, Mr. Phillips assets that he might as well have thrown his money into a furnace in full blast; but it helped the town, if it did not help him.

When Kansas was admitted, as a State, into the Union, in January. 1861, the population of Saline County, all told, did not exceed,. if it reached 150 souls. All the settlers in the county were located either in Saline or within a few miles of it. Little, if any, immigration had yet ventured into the county. What the population of the county was at that time may reasonably be concluded from the fact that, in the fall of 1861, there was not over thirty voters in the county, H. L. Jones, who was elected to the Legislature that fall, receiving only twenty-four votes in the county, with no opposing candidate against him ; and to Mr. Jones belongs the honor of having been the first member of the Legislature elected from Saline County. The war commencing in less than three months after the admission of the State, put a stop to immigration, and seriously threatened the existence of Salina. Of the few men in the county at that time capable of bearing arms, nearly three-fourths went into the Union army, and among them, W. A. Phillips, who rose to the rank of Colonel. If the settlers of Saline were few, .they were loyal almost to a man, and did not hesitate in leaving the homes they had made for themselves through hardships and difficulties, when their duty called them to the field. Among those who went to the war from Salina, was L. F. Parsons, who went out as Second Lieutenant, and came out as Captain; and D. L. Phillips, who enlisted as a private and was mustered out as First Lieutenant.

The first election that took place in the county, under the State law, was held in November, 1861. A full county ticket was nominated., and the officers elected were: Commissioners Henry Whitley, G. Schippel, and R. H. Bishop; probate Judge, A. A. Morrison; Sheriff, John McReynolds; Treasurer, Ransom Calkin; County Clerk, H. H. Morrison; Registrar of Deeds, H. H. Flagg; Assessor, Robert McReynolds ; Surveyor, James R. Mead; Coroner, Robert Crawford: Justice of the Peace, Daniel Alverson and Peter Giersch. In those days there stood in the center of the intersection of Santa Fe and Iron avenues, a tall flag pole, from which, on certain occasions, the Stars and Stripes would be unfurled. It so happened in 1861 that one Col. Lynde, with his command, was stationed in New Mexico, and, being more in. favor of secession than the Union, he, with the officers under him, surrendered the command to the rebels, who, after taking their arms, paroled them. In marching eastward they followed the Smoky Hill route, and, in course of time, reached Salina, which, at that time, was the most western point on that route. Just as they were entering town A. M. Campbell ran up the Star Spangled Banner on the flag-staff, and let it heat out on the breeze, as an indication that they had set their feet upon loyal territory. The sight of the old flag brought forth a cheer from the men, that Lynde and his officers could not restrain, which showed plainly that, if their officers had proved treacherous, the men were true. During the existence of the war Saline County had very little to excite either the avarice of bushwhackers or the vengeance of thee Indians, but let what little there was seemed to be sufficient to attract the attention of both. The first visit was from the Indians who, in the early part of 1862, concluded to chase out or kill every white person in the Smoky Hill Valley. West of Salina were a number of ranchmen whom the Indians, attacked first, several of whom they killed. The alarm soon spread from ranch to ranch, and being too weak to offer any organized resistance, those who had escaped hastened to Salina, where a stockade was erected and every preparation made to give the savages a warm reception, which caused the Indians to change their course without attempting an attack. The next hostile visit the people received was in the fall of that same year, from a gang of about twenty bushwhackers. So suddenly was the dash made into Salina, and so unexpectedly, that the people were altogether unprepared to meet it, and from the very moment the gang entered, the town was at its mercy. Meeting with no resistance, they attempted no personal injury, but houses were entered, stores ransacked, and wherever any powder, ammunition, arms or tobacco were found, the marauders appropriated it. The firearms they could not carry off with them they destroyed. Everything thought to be of service to the people in case of pursuit was destroyed. On leaving they took with them twenty-five horses and six mules, the property of the Kansas Stage Company. After they had gone, it was discovered that they had overlooked one horse, and this was mounted by R. H. Bishop, who rode to Fort Riley, and covered the distance, fifty miles in five hours. A party of soldiers was sent from the Fort, but, of course, the bushwhackers did not wait for their arrival, but had gone to more inviting fields. This was the last visit of the kind that the county had during the war.

At the meeting of the board of Commissioners, held April 7, 1862, the county, which, for some time prior, had constituted two townships, was thrown into one, by abolishing that of Spring Creek. At the meeting of July 7, 1862, a poll tax of $1.50 was laid on every white male inhabitant of the county. On August 16, 1862, the county was divided into three Commissioner Districts. The following is a copy of an entry made in the Commissioner's journal: " Salina, Saline County, October 6, l862. This being the time for the regular meeting of the board, but W. W. Morrison being the only member present, no business could be transacted, it was decided to adjourn to meet on Saturday, the 18th October, 1862."

The years of the war were years of little or no progress in the county, and, in truth, things were rather retrogressive than progressive, and in 1865, when those who had gone to the war from Salina returned, they found the town in a sadly dilapidated condition. New life and energy, however, were instilled into the people, and in a short time the place once more became prosperous. Few settlers, however, came to the county, but one by one they commenced dropping in. The first to come after the war was Ernst Hohneck, who located about nine miles southwest of Salina, at what is now Bavaria, where he opened up a ranch and started a little store. For years he was out there solitary and alone, without a neighbor within miles of him. At as early a date as 1867, it was deemed necessary to build a jail, and on the 13th day of April, in that year, the County Commissioners ordered one built at a cost not to exceed $2,500. In 1868 mounted messengers came dashing into Salina with the alarming news that the Indians were up on the Republican, perpetrating terrible deeds, outraging women, killing children, and murdering and scalping every white man they found. The people became greatly excited and telegraphed the facts to Gov. Crawford at Topeka. The first train from Topeka west brought the Governor to Salina, where he instantly called for volunteers to go out to the scene of the troubles. All the time it took to raise a company of sixty men, was just that required to arm themselves and get mounted. the Governor took command of the company, and that day they rode as far as Churchill, in the southwest corner of Ottawa County. Learning that there were no Indians between the Sa1ine and the Solomon rivers, they rode as far as Minneapolis, and from there they pushed on to Delphos, on the northern boundary line of Ottawa County. At that point they camped for the night, and a party of six was sent out to scout as far north as Lake Sibley, in Republic County. M. J. Mills and M. D. Sampson, of Salina, contributed two of the party. They reached Fort Sibley that night, but met .no Indians on the way. Next day the scouting party started southwest for Asherville, on the Solomon River, to which point the main body of the company had ridden from Delphos. The people within several miles of Asherville had collected there, both for protection and defense. Two of these men, who lived only a short way out from Asherville, started out to their homes to get some milk, but before they reached there a party of Indians rushed down upon them from the bluffs, killed them and scalped them, and rode off before the company had time to mount. Several dead bodies were found -- some men, some women. and some children. The men had all been scalped, the women outraged, and the children fastened to the ground with arrows. The dead were buried, and, after performing this painful duty, the company returned to Salina, where it disbanded.

In 1868 the tide of immigration turned towards Saline County, and a great many settlers located in the county during the year. They came by families and they came by colonies, and a great many came singly and alone. A company of Swedes was formed in Chicago, who sent out an agent to select lands for a colony, and, being pleased with Saline County, he purchased 20,000 acres of land in the southern portion of the county of the railroad company. Soon thereafter; a colony of Swedes numbering seventy-five, came and located on a portion of these lands. That colony was followed soon after by another from Galesburg, Ills., under the leadership of Olof Thurstenburg, numbering about sixty, who located in Smoky View and Smolan townships. After that a constant stream set in, and settlers began to locate in nearly every portion of the county. The following year a large colony from the Western Reserve, Ohio, under the leadership of D. E. Fullerand and T. J. Thorpe came to the county, arriving on the first day of April, 1869. This colony numbered over two hundred souls. The lands they selected were around Bavaria, at that time known a Hohneck, in what is now Ohio Township. They came supplied with tents and a complete outfit. At that time there was not a house in the entire township but Hohneck's Ranch, and another one that had been built by Hohneck as a brewery, but which was then unused. About fifty of the colonists quartered themselves in the old brewery, and the remainder lived in tents until their claims were located, and buildings erected. This colony took up all the even sections of land in Ohio Township within a radius of two miles. With this colony came Warren Cooley, E. S. Cooley, Charles Cooley, Asa Case, A. F. Shute, A. W. Hawley, A. L. Patch, 0. Hubbard, Charles Culp. E. W. Ober, J. B. Hamilton and many others. All that were married of the colonists, brought their families with them. These accessions enabled Saline County to take a wonderful step to the front. In 1870 another colony came from Henry County Ills., under the leadership of Eric Forse. There were about seventy- five, all told, in this colony, most of whom located in Falun Township. From that time until now, the immigration has been more gradual, but every year since, has added its number of new comers to the population; some years more, some less but every year some. The court house was built in 1870, Rev. Wm. Bishop donating to the county a block of ground for the purpose. The first couple in the county to get married was A. M. Campbell and Miss Christina A. Phillips, who were joined in matrimony in 1858. At that time there was neither a minister of the gospel nor a Justice of the Peace in the county, and they were constrained to make a trip to Riley City, in Davis County, in order to be united. The distance they had to travel was about sixty miles so that their wedding tour was equally divided, one-half being accomplished before the ceremony, and the other half-after they had become twain in one flesh. To this couple was born the first child to whom was given birth in Saline County, Miss Christina Campbell, who was born on the 25th day of October, 1859. The first death in the county was that of the child of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Mobley, which occurred in 1857, in what was laid out as the town of "Buchanan," and the next was that of Doctor Cobb, in the fall of 1860. The first store opened in the county was by George Pickard, in the spring of 1858, who sold out to W. A. Phillips in the summer of that year., A. M. Campbell, becoming his salesman. The first post office established in the e county was at Salina, in Nov. 1861, with A. M. Campbell as Postmaster, which position he now holds, and has held, uninterruptedly since that time, covering a period of twenty-one years. The county is, at this time, December, 1882, in a very prosperous condition. It is well supplied with good roads; the rivers and streams are well bridged; both country and towns are well supplied with schools and churches. The farmers, as a general thing, live in good houses and are surrounded with everything to make their homes pleasant, comfortable and happy.

The first deed of conveyance that appears on record in the office of the Registrar of Deeds, is one from I. F. Parsons to Ransom Calkins, conveying the western half of the northwest quarter of Section l2, Township 14, Range 3 west, the consideration being $130. The same quarter section could not be purchased now for less than $7,000. The instrument was dated September 18, 1861. The first case docketed for trial in court was "J. R Allen vs. Hamilton & Tyler," the date of docketing being July 7, 1865. The suit was brought on account, and the amount involved was $119.50.

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