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MURDERS AND TRAGICAL EVENTS.
October, 1860, John Ross, the first white man who settled in Sedgwick County, with a family, was murdered by Osage Indians, together with his hired man. The following account of the tragedy is given by Hon. J. R. Mead: "One day in October, Ross, with his hired man and team, crossed the river, to hunt buffalo, and get a load of meat, going in the direction of Cowskin grove, and leaving his wife and children at home. Night came on and he did not return. All the next day his wife watched anxiously for his return - in vain. By a passing hunter, word was sent to Walnut Creek that Ross was missing. About twenty horsemen collected in that settlement and came over. All the next day they scoured the prairie west of the river, but found nothing of the missing man. The following day the search was renewed. In the afternoon, one of the party found a human leg, with a boot on. At a short distance Ross's head was found. Diligent search resulted in nothing more. These remains were taken to the now desolate home, and buried on the bank of the river, hear the house, and hunters brought and piled stones upon the grave. And there reposes all that remains of John Ross, the first settler of Sedgwick County."
February 28, 1871, John Ledford was killed in Wichita by Government troops and scouts. About noon of that day a detachment of the Sixth United States Cavalry, of 100 men, under the command of Captain Whee, and scouts Lee Stewart and Jack Bridges, rode in from the north and surrounded the Harris House (now the rear end of the Tremont), of which John Ledford was proprietor. The officers and scouts dismounted, and they, together with a detachment of a Sergeant and six men, began to search the premises. The house was at that time situated on North Main street, at the corner of Third. They inquired for Ledford. His wife, then a young bride, informed them that he was not at home. They searched the house thoroughly, however, but without avail. Finally their attention was attracted to an out-house in the rear of George DeMoose's saloon, nearly opposite, by the frequent visitations of a man from the saloon to the out-house. They immediately surrounded this suspected place and demanded Ledford's surrender (sic). Lieut. Hargis stood in front of the door, Lee Stewart was stationed in the rear of the house, and Jack Bridges at one side. The answer to the lieutenant's summons was a shot from a pistol in the hands of Ledford, who suddenly sprang through the door, and defiantly faced his pursuers. The firing became general. Ledford's pistols, which he had obtained at the saloon, were old and rusty; with his own pistols, he would have doubtless, killed a half dozen of his enemies, and escaped in the bargain. He handled a pistol expertly; his aim was deadly, and he could fire with either hand, or both simultaneously, with precision. Lee Stewart fired under cover and disabled Ledford's wrist, and as Ledford turned to shoot at Stewart, Ledford was shot in the back by Bridges. Ledford then shot Bridges through one of his arms, the latter wheeling just in time to save the bullet from his breast. Bridges fell, and Ledford jumped upon him, and placing a pistol to his breast, snapped a cap, the charge refusing to leave. Then realizing the worthlessness of his weapons, he cast them away, and while making a retreat he was shot in the back by Bridges, the ball breaking the spine; still he stood erect. A Texas man threw him another revolver, with which he fired two more shots, but they were ineffectual. He then walked to Dagner's cigar store, across the street, and sat down on a barrel, from which he soon fell. He was carried to his house, where he expired within an hour. Bridges was conveyed to camp by the troops. Ledford was charged with complicity in the robbery of a Government train, and the murder of some of its teamsters, and the troops only designed to make his arrest. Bridges soon recovered from his wound.
September 22, 1872, Jackson Davis was shot and killed by Charles Jennison, in a shooting affray. Davis shot Jennison first, the ball passing through the left side of Jennison's neck. Jennison shot Davis through the body, causing death within five minutes. Simultaneously with Jennison's shot, was another shot form Davis' pistol, which hit Jennison in the right arm, below the elbow.
June 2, 1873, a soldier of the Sixth United States Cavalry was shot and killed in John Beard's ("Red's") dance house in West Wichita, by a party of roughs. The soldier had previously shot one of "Red's" girls. A general fight ensued, in which one soldier was killed and two wounded.
In June, 1873, a colored man named Reed was shot and killed by a Texan named Ramsey. Two days afterward, Ramsey was killed on the Ninnescah, by "Billy Bowlegs."
In 1873, S. C. Johnson, who had been Treasurer of Sedgwick County for the previous four years, mysteriously disappeared, and has never been heard of since. His official accounts were correct, and the office of Treasurer had been transferred to his successor, Col. L. N. Woodcock. When last seen he was known to have $1,000 on his person. There was due him from the county for salary, $500, which is still payable to himself or heirs.
August 16, 1873, a Texas cattle herder named Reddis, was shot and killed by a Mexican, at Oges Camp, on the Ninnescah. The Mexican fled, and a couple of days afterward, he in company with another Mexican was halted on Slate Creek, below Wellington, in Summer (sic) County, by Ike Walker, a noted frontiersman and desperado, who had been informed of the killing of Reddis. Walker killed both of the Mexicans.
August 20, 1873, William McKee was killed by what was alleged to be an accidental shot from a pistol he was repairing, in a blacksmith shop, in West Wichita. William Anderson, who owned the pistol and who was present at the time of the killing, was arrested on the charge of murder, but was acquitted. About two weeks afterward, Anderson had both of his eyes shot out in a shooting affray at "Rowdy Joe's".
August 23, 1873, John Snider, a blacksmith, age twenty-seven, was thrown from a buggy and killed, while enjoying a ride with a friend in Wichita.
October 27, 1873, John Beard, alias "Red," was shot by Joseph Lowe, alias, "Rowdy Joe," from the effects of which Beard died in a few days. The shooting occurred in Joe's dance house, in West Wichita. "Red" owned a dance house next door to "Rowdy's," and on the night referred to, "Red" and a party of friends were indulging in a drunken frolic at his place. Finally, they visited "Joe's" where a dance was in progress, and "Red's" first salutation to his neighbor "Joe" was a shot into the crowd from his pistol, wounding one of the girls. The firing soon became general, and several were wounded, among others, William Anderson, whose eyes were shot out. "Red" received a shot through the body from "Joe's" pistol, and in a few days he died from the effects of the wound. Beard was a son of the founder of Beardstown, Illinois; had been respectably raised, and well educated and left a comfortable fortune. His sobriquet, "Red" was derived from his red head and beard.
January 1, 1874, Frank Seivers was murdered and his body burned in the paint shop of McNutt & Winner, in Wichita. Seivers, who was a painter, had been induced to come from Kansas City, Mo., to work for McNutt & Winner. He arrived in Wichita late in the night of December 31st, and was taken at once to the paint shop, where lodging had been arranged for him. During the night he was murdered and the shop burned. The next morning, the remains of Seivers were found, which were first supposed to be those of McNutt, it having been known that he lodged in the shop, and he also having disappeared. Soon suspecting that there was foul play somewhere in this business, the authorities caused the arrest of Winner and presently it came to light that there was an insurance policy on McNutt's life for $5,000. About a month afterward, McNutt was discovered and captured in Platee County, Mo. Both were tried for murder in the first degree, at the next term of the District court, convicted and sentenced to be hanged. They are now in the penitentiary.
January 1, 1876, an omnibus driver, known by the name of "Leg," was shot and killed by Michael Meagher, City Marshal. "Leg" had been taking part in a "Ragtag" procession, had been drinking freely, and was turbulent and boisterous. While in the march he assaulted and broke one of the arms of Mr. Dennison, as "Four-Eyes." Afterward he attacked the City Marshal, known who was compelled to shoot "Leg" in self-defense.
Commissioners. - 1870, N. A. English, Chairman, T. S. Floyd, Alexander McWilliams; 1871, the same as in 1870; 1872, Solomon H. Kohn, Chairman, S. J. Bentley, R. A. Neeley; 1873, Solomon H. Kohn, Chairman, S. J. Bentley, John Carpenter; 1874-'75, John Carpenter, Chairman, W. J. Hobbs, J. B. York; 1876-'77, J. M. Steele, Chairman, O. G. Jacobs, J. A. Nelson; 1878, J. M. Steele, Chairman, F. W. Chase, J. B. York; 1879, J. M. Steele, Chairman, G. W. Steenrod, J. B. York; 1880, J. B. York, Chairman, G. W. Steenrod, S. E. Joycelyn; 1881, G. W. Steenrod, Chairman, George W. Walter, S. E. Jocelyn; 1882, George W. Walter, Chairman, G. W. Steenrod, S. E. Jocelyn.
County Clerk. - 1870, J. M. Steele; 1871, F. A. Sowers; 1872 to 1875 inclusive, Fred Schattner; 1876 to 1879 inclusive, John Tucker; 1880 to 1888 inclusive, E. A. Dorsey.
Treasurers - 1870 to 1873 inclusive, S. C. Johnson; 1874 to October, 1878, L. N. Woodcock; from October, 1878, to October, 1882, John Tucker; from October, 1882, to ---, L. N. Woodcock.
Registers of Deeds. - 1870, L. F. Buttles; 1871, 72 and 73, John McIvor; 1874, 75, 76 and 77, Milo B. Kellogg; 1878 to 1881 inclusive, C. S. Caldwell; 1882, H. D. Heiserman.
Superintendents of Public Instruction - 1870, John P. Hilton; 1871-'72, W. K. Boggs; 1873 to 1876 inclusive, A. Emmerson; 1877 to 1880 inclusive, M. H. Bruce; 1881 and 1882, Lydia Benton; 1883, B. D. Hammond.
Surveyors. - 1870, William Finn; 1871, 72 and 73, John A. Stronfe; 1874 to 1877 inclusive, H. L. Jackson; 1878-79, T. L. Nixon; 1880, 81 and 82, J. K. Hamilton.
Coroners. - 1870-'71, E. B. Allen; 1872-'73, H. Owens; 1874-'75, S. B. Street; 1876, 77 and 78, D. S. Munger; 1879, E. B. Rentz; 1880, 81 and 82, J. W. Wingard.
Judges District Court. - 1870, 71 and 72, W. R. Brown; 1873 to 1880 inclusive, W. P. Campbell; 1881, 82 and 83, E. S. Torrance.
Clerks District Court. - 1870, D. A. Bright; 1871-'72, John McIvor; 1873 to 1876 inclusive, George W. Reeves; 1877 to 1883 inclusive, C. A. Van Ness.
Sheriffs. - 1870, W. N. Walker; 1871, 72 and 73, John Meagher; 1874-'75, P. H. Massey; 1876 to 1879 inclusive, H. W. Dunning; 1880 to 1883 inclusive, H. R. Watt.
Probate Judges. - 1870, Reuben Riggs; 1871-'72, William Baldwin; 1873 to 1876 inclusive, W. C. Little; 1877 to 1884 inclusive, E. B. Jewett.
State Senators. - 1870, James R. Mead, representing Butler and several adjacent organized and unorganized counties, Sedgwick being one of the latter; 1871-'72, E. S. Stover; 1873-'74, M. M. Murdock; 1875-'76, H. C. St. Clair; 1877-'78, John Kelly; 1879, 80, 81, 82, H. C. Sluss, whose term of office extends to 1885.
Representatives - 1870, D. M. Stuart was elected, but the election was declared illegal, 1871, J. M. Steele; 1872, D. L. Payne; 1873, E. B. Allen; 1874, E. P. Thompson; 1875, E. B. Allen; 1876, John Kelly; 1877-'78, William Baldwin and William Ross; 1879-'80, William Greiffenstein and S, M. Tucker; 1881-'82, W. E. Stanley and F. M. Dofflemgre; 1883-'84, E. B. Allen and John Russell.
The population of Sedgwick County, May 1, 1882, by townships, was as follows: Attica, 514; Afton, 262; Delano, 631; Erie, 166; Eagle, 551; Grant, 891; Greeley, 455; Gypsum, 597; Garden Plain, 396; Grand River, 324; Illinois, 359; Kechi, 614; Lincoln, 509; Minneha, 469; Morton, 478; Ninnescah, 350; Ohio, 303; Park, 418; Payne, 519; Rockford, 700; Sherman, 386; Salem, 604; Union, 1,015; Viola, 251; Waco, 694; Wichita, 931; Wichita City, 5,779. Total population of the county, 19,166.
The agricultural productions of 1882 were as follows: Number of bushels of wheat, 1,218,250; number of acres in wheat, 48,730; average yield per acre, 25 bushels. Number of bushels of corn, 3,665,610; number of acres in corn, 132,187; average yield per acre nearly 28 bushels. Number of bushels of rye, 26,260; number of acres in rye, 1,313; average yield per acre, 20 bushels. Number of bushels of oats, 422,200; number of acres in oats, 10,555; average yield per acre, 40 bushels. Number of bushels of Irish potatotes (sic), 96640; number of acres in potatoes, 1,208; average yield per acre, 80 bushels. Number of bushels of sweet potatoes, 4,275; number of acres in sweet potatoes, 57; average yield per acre, 75 bushels. Number of gallons of sorghum, 27,450; number of acres in sorghum cane, 350; average number of gallons per acre, 90. Number of bushels of castor beans, 1,170; number of acres in castor beans, 130; average yield per acre, 9 bushels. Number of bushels of flax seed, 1,496; number of acres in flax, 136; average yield per acre, 11 bushels. Number of pounds of broom corn, 267,600; number of acres in broom corn, 461; average yield per acre, 600 pounds. Number of tons of millet and Hungarian, 49,713; number of acres in millet and Hungarian, 16,571; average yield per acre, 3 tons. Number of pounds of cheese manufactured during the year ending March 1, 1882, 3,250. Number of pounds of butter manufactured during the same period, 505,174.
The following is the value of products sold during the year ending March 1, 1882: Produce of market gardens, $21,124; poultry and eggs, $45,922; Milk, $18,744; animals slaughtered or sold for slaughter, $510,728; horticultural products marketed, $14,531.
Number of pounds of wool clipped in 1881, 49,806.
The following is the estimate of live stock in the county, March 1, 1882: Number of horses, 7,785; number of mules and asses, 1,996; number of milch cows, 7,066; other cattle, 15,966; number of sheep, 22,944; number of swine, 32,780.
The amount of the bonds of Sedgwick County outstanding is $29,000. The amount of school district bonds outstanding is $54,725. Total bonded indebtedness, $78,725. The total taxable valuation of the county is $4,937,254.94. No other county in Kansas makes so fine a financial exhibit as this.
Public Schools, 1882. - Number of organized districts in the county, 133; population between 5 and 21 years (males, 2,883; females, 2,744), 5,627; number of enrolled pupils (males, 2,180; females 2,090), 4,271; number of teachers employed during the year (males, 52; females, 105), 157; number of school buildings, 131; estimated value of school property, $73,215; total amount received during the year for school purposes, $56,150.51; total amount paid out during the year for school purposes, $49,031.47.
Sedgwick County Agricultural Mechanical and Stock Association, was organized under a charter in 1873. In 1874 the society purchased forty acres, two and one-half miles north of the city, at a cost of $10,000, including improvements. Annual fairs have been held since its organization. The first Board of Directors was composed of R. A. Neeley, W. T. Jewett, A. T. Lanesbury, H. W. Lawrence, G. Sailsbury, W. C. Woodman, D. L. Green, L. N. Woodcock, R. L. West, secretary. Present officers; Wm. Mathewson, president; N. A. English, vice-president; M. W. Levy, treasurer; T. M. Lane, secretary. Directors: Wm. Greiffenstein, M. Stewart, J. T. McMillian, J. N. Forey, F. Snitzler, J. P. Casey, W. B. Williams, A. A. Moore, and T. M. Lane.
Old Settlers' Association, was organized September 27, 1877, with about fifty members. Its first officers were: H. W. Vigus, president; D. S. Munger, vice-president; C. W. Hill, treasurer; F. Sowers, secretary. The first call was made August 30, 1877, in which all settlers who located in Sedgwick County prior to January, 1872, were invited to join. In 1878 the association received its charter. The first Executive Board was composed of D. R. B. Greenlee, S. W. Fitzgerald (died December 15, 1882), and J. T. Holmes. Present officers; J. R. Mead, president; W. B. Williams, vice-president; J. M. Allen, treasurer; D. R. B. Greenlee, secretary, Reunion meeting held February 22, each year. Present membership, including families of members, 1,500.
Arkansas Valley Agricultural Association, was chartered in the spring of 1880 by D. A. Mitchell, James C. Dean, W. S. Corbett, Wm. H. Kanson and James H. Black. Board of Directors: H. Rice, R. E. Lawrence, J. C. Kinkead, J. C. Dean, D. A. Mitchell, WM. McCracken, A. G. Burr, T. D. Fouts, Jos. Fuhrman. Capital stock, $5,000. Present officials; Gen. B. B. Eggleston, president; Wm. McCracken, vice-president; J. H. Black, treasurer; C. S. Eichholtz, secretary; T. D. Fouts, general superintendent, J. L. Cooper, assistant superintendent. Directors: D. A. Mitchell. O. G. Jacobs, R. R. Hatfield, L. D. Hanna, Wm. H. Ranson, H. H. Peckham, J. Jumkermann, G. L. Blood, T. D. Fouts. Present number of stockholders, 294.