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 | County Organization and Elections | Churches and Newspapers | School and Other Statistics
PART 2: Smith Centre
PART 3: Gaylord | Cora | Cedarville | Harlan


Smith County, named in honor of Major Nathan Smith, of the Second Colorado Cavalry, who was killed at the battle of the Blue, is on the northern tier of counties, bordering on Nebraska on the north, and is the sixth east of the Colorado and Kansas dividing lines. Its soil, like t hat of contiguous counties in Kansas and Nebraska, is very easily worked, absorbs moisture readily, and retains it remarkably. What Prof. Hayden says of the adjacent valley applies with equal force to Smith County and the entire region watered by the Solomon River: "The soil is one of the best in the world, and its fertility can never be exhausted until every hill of which it is composed is entirely worn away. Where the ground is cultivated, the most copious rains soon percolate through the soil, which in its lowest depth retains it like a sponge. Event the unbroken prairie absorbs much of the heavy rains that fall, and when droughts come the moisture comes up from below by capillary attraction." Eighty-five per cent of the land of Smith County is upland, and the remaining fifteen per cent, is bottom; two per cent, forest (Government survey), and ninety-eight per cent, prairie. The average width of the bottom lands of the Solomon River is five miles, and the general surface of the uplands undulating, with bluffs in the neighborhood of the principal streams. The timber of the county, principally cottonwood, elm, oak and cedar, forms narrow borders on the banks of the Solomon and its tributaries. In the southern and central portions of the county limestone of an excellent quality abounds; and in the northern section and inferior article of sandstone. Gypsum of good quality has been discovered, but not in large quantities. Frequent experiments have been made to find stone coal, but it has not yet been developed sufficiently to pay.

The principal stream in Smith County is the Solomon River, which flows in a southeasterly direction. It has many tributaries, the Cedar, East Cedar, Beaver, East Beaver, and other streams flowing south and southeast; Oak, Middle Oak, West Oak and Possum Creek flowing southeast. In addition to these, two arms of White Rock Creek flow in a southwesterly direction. Smith County is well supplied with springs, and a superior quality of well water is obtained at depths varying from fifteen to one hundred feet.

The first settlers in what is now Smith County were John Rhodes, J. K. Belk, Ambrose Oldaker, and B. R. Myers, J. H. Johnson, J. C. Morrison, who came in the fall of 1870. The following season they were followed by Thomas Lane and Anthony Robertson, who brought their families; H. H. Granholz, H. Menshoff, L. Binman, J. Rider, J. Eldredge, Thomas Decker, James H. Decker, T. J. Burrow, H. F. Albright, Charles Stewart, T. J. Tompkins, W. M. George, Fred. W. Wagoner. The first stone house erected was built in 1877, by Colonel Campbell. The first woman who settled in Smith County was Mrs. Mary Peebles, who became a resident of Lincoln Township in the fall of 1870. Ambrose Oldaker, probably the first settler in the county, who made a home on Oak Creek, twelve miles north of Cawker City, removed to Washington Territory in 1880, where he now resides. The first homesteader in the county was Christopher Noggels, who took a claim on Beaver Creek in June, 1871. The first marriage in the county was T. J. Burrow and Miss R. J. Dunlap. The ceremony was performed in Smith Centre Township, Oct. 16, 1872, by Rev. H. F. Albright. During the same year the following marriages took place in the county: George Boyd and Inez Follon; Charles Stewart and Ida Keeler; T. J. Tompkins and Flora I. Potter; John Dillon and Julia Ann Walling.

The first birth in the county was a son of Christopher Noggels, in Centre Township, who was born Aug. 25, 1871. The first grocery store was established in Houston Township in the spring of 1871, by D. P. Newell. Fred W. Wagner, of Germantown, opened a general merchandise store in April, 1871. The following year he became the first Postmaster at Germantown and still retains the office. The first postoffice established in Smith County was at Cedarville, in July, 1871. John Johnson was first Postmaster. He was succeeded by James Johnson, who continues in charge of the office.

Mrs. W. M. Skinner taught the first school in the county, at Gaylord, in the fall and winter of 1871. E. M. Burr, who was the first attorney located in the county, taught school in Smith Centre in the fall of 1872. After teaching a few weeks his law practice claimed his full time, and Miss Alice Campbell was engaged and finished the school term for him. She occupied the building still known as the old court-house.

There are twenty-six postoffices in Smith County, as follows: Anderson, Andrew, Beaver, Cedarville, Clifford, Cora, Corvallis, Covington, Crystal Plains, Custer, Eagle Rapids, Gaylord, Germantown, Harlan, Judson, Lebanon, Ohio, Oriole, Smith Centre, Stone Mound, Stuart, Sweet Home, twelve-Mile and Tyner. With a daily railroad mail traversing the southern edge of the county by the Central Branch Road, and mails from the offices located on the railroad, the county enjoys excellent mail facilities.



(Organized in 1872.)

(a) Beaver Township       1,362
(b) Cedar Township        1,449
(c) Centre Township       1,827
(d) German Township       1,200
(e) Harvey Township       1,431
(f) Houston Township      1,819
(g) Lincoln Township      1,488
(h) Oak Township          1,673
(i) Pawnee Township       1,634

(a) In 1875, from original territory.
(b) In 1875, from original territory.
(c) In 1875, from original territory.
(d) In 1875, from original territory.
(e) In 1875, from original territory.
(f) In 1875, from original territory.
(g) In 1875, from original territory (as Holland);
    name afterward changed to Lincoln.
(h) In 1875, from original territory.
(i) In 1875, from original territory.


Smith County, containing 900 square miles, was organized in 1872, with a population of 3,876. The county seat was first located in Cedarville, in the southeastern portion of the county. The first Commissioners appointed by the Governor of the State were George Marshall and Fred W. Wagner. James H. Johnston was the first County Clerk. The first meeting of the board was held at Cedarville, March 9, 1872. At the April meeting the county was laid off into six townships, to wit: Pawnee, Higley, German, Cedar (soon changed to Harvey), Huston and Holland.

At the first county election, held June 25, 1872, for county officers and to locate the seat of justice, the votes of four townships were thrown out for illegality. The two townships where the law was complied with polled 154 votes. The newly-elected officers were: W. S. Angell, W. D. Covington, L. R. Hibbard, Commissioners; W. R. Allen, County Clerk. They were sworn in July 12, 1872. Edmund Hall was appointed Superintendent of Public Instruction; B. Higley, Register of Deeds.

In November, 1872, the count seat was removed to Smith Centre by a vote of 275 for that place, ninety-two for Cedarville and eight-one for Gaylord. At the same election J. T. Morrison was chosen Representative; V. Payne, M. E. Wells and Jesse Stranathan, Commissioners; W. M. Skinner, County Clerk and Register of Deeds; J. C. Harlan, Probate Judge; Nick Clemens, Sheriff; W. M. George, Treasurer; Ed Hall, Superintendent of Public Instruction; N. H. Withington, Surveyor; Levi Morrill, Attorney; T. J. Burrow, District Clerk; J. N. Stephen, Coroner.

Nov. 7, 1873, the following officers were elected: J. T. Morrison, Representative, N. Clemens, Sheriff; E. R. Fowler, County Clerk; T. M. H..n?, Treasurer; B. Higley, District Clerk; S. C. Thompson, Register of Deeds; N. H. Withington, Surveyor; A. J. Stevens, Coroner; Ves. Payne, G. W. Hodson, Jesse Stranathan, Commissioners.

The November election in 1874 resulted in the choice of the following officers: C. S. Aldrich, Representative; J. C. Harlan, Probate Judge; H. C. Ellis, Superintendent of Public Instruction; W. M. Skinner, County Clerk; O. F. Sheldon, District Clerk; G. W. White, Attorney; T. M. Helm, Register of Deeds.

The November election, 1875, resulted as follows: C. S. Aldrich, Representative; T. M. Helm, Treasurer; G. W. Buckley, County Clerk; J. M. Stevens, Sheriff; A. J. Smith, Register of Deeds; W. H. Nelson, Surveyor; F. D. Morse, Coroner; J. A. Rossman, M. Duckworth, J. S. Whitney, Commissioners.

In November 1876, the following were elected: E. W. Smith, Representative; J. C. Harlan, Probate Judge; A. M. Corn, Attorney; Mrs. F. Morse, Superintendent Public Instruction; W. P. Meadows, District Clerk.

The election of November, 1877, resulted as follows: J. M. Stevens, Sheriff; W. J. Byers, Treasurer, E. Stevens, County Clerk; A. J. Smith, Register of Deeds; W. H. Nelson, Surveyor; W. J. Byers, Coroner; S. P. Glenn, S. T. Mitchell, C. W. Freeman, Commissioners.

November, 1878, election: F. E. Baker, Representative; H. H. Reed, Probate Judge; W. P. Meadows, District Clerk; L. C. Uhl, Attorney; J. W. Pearce, Superintendent Public Instruction; S. P. Glenn, J. H. Willett, W. H. Willett, Commissioners.

November, 1879, election: Jerry Brisbin, Sheriff; W. J. Byers, Treasurer; Ed. Stevens, County Clerk; W. H. Nelson, Register of deeds; Geo. E. Smith, Surveyor; G. M. Edson, Coroner; B. W. Perdue and John Walker, Commissioners.

November, 1880, election: J. A. Rossman, Representative; H. H. Reed, Probate Judge; A. M. Corn, Attorney; L. A. Fairchild, County Clerk; D. H. Fleming, Superintendent Public Instruction; John Walker, John Johnston, Jacob Wolfe, Commissioners.

November, 1881, election: H. A. Hester, Sheriff; John Johnston, Treasurer; J. N. Beacom, County Clerk; W. H. Nelson, Register of Deeds; Lair Deam, Treasurer for short term; J. H. Sargent, Surveyor; Dr. M. F. Leary, Coroner; A. Spires, Commissioner for first district.

It may be stated in this connection that there has never been a licensed saloon within the borders of Smith County.


The Congregationalists and Methodist Episcopals are the most numerous sects in the county, but the United Brethren, Lutherans, Baptists, Roman Catholics and Presbyterians also have church organizations. School-houses preceded church edifices in Smith County, and religious services were held for several years in school buildings and private dwellings. The Congregationalists erected a stone church building in Centre Township, in 1876. The same year the United Brethren, Methodists and the Lutherans erected churches in various parts of the county. At the present time the several churches in the county make the following showing as to organizations and membership: Baptist - organizations, 4; membership 205. Roman Catholics - organizations, 1; membership 82, value of church property, $500. Congregational - organizations, 6; membership 180, value of church property, $3,900. Methodist Episcopal - organizations 20; membership 380. Presbyterian - organizations 4; membership 85. The Lutherans have one church in the northwest portion of the county, with a membership of 65, and church property valued at $700. The United Brethren have several organizations, with headquarters at Harlan, where they have a fine educational institution.

The Smith County Pioneer, the oldest paper in the county, was started at Cedarville in November, 1872, by Dr. W. D. Jenkins, and was edited successively by Dr. Jenkins, Lew Plummer and Mark J. Kelley. The office was sold to Levi Morrill in 1873 and removed to Smith Centre, who continued its publication until October, 1874, when it was sold to W. D. Jenkins, Jr., who continued its publication several years. In 1878 the paper was enlarged and the name changed to the Kansas Pioneer. In 1880 the Pioneer and Press were consolidated, and Dr. Neely Thompson became the manager, the paper being Republican. It has now passed into the hands of R. D. Bowen and its politics changed to Democratic.

The Cedarville Democrat was started in August, 1881, as a Democratic paper, by M. M. Wachter. F. E. Baker purchased a half interest and the Democrat was then published as a half Greenback and half Democratic journal. Baker soon bought out his partner's interest and removed the material to Smith Centre and changed the name to the Record. It was run as a Greenback organ until Jan. 20, 1882, when E. M. Burr became sole owner and changed it to a Republican journal. Early in February, 1882, G. L. Burr purchased the establishment and continues the publication of the Record as a Republican paper, strong in the advocacy of prohibition and low salaries for public officers.

The Gaylord Herald was established by J. W. McBride (now of Beliot) in August, 1879. April 28, 1880, Webb McNall, the present publisher, became the proprietor, and has published a bright, newsy Republican journal. The Herald has a large circulation, and is one of the official organs of Smith County.

The Harlan Advance, established in the spring of 1882, principally to advance the interest of Gould College, located in the same village, has outgrown the intentions of its founder and become, under the local management of W. D. Lane, an excellent home and news paper. The Advance is now a twenty-column paper and its subscription price is $1.25 per annum.


The first school house erected in Smith County were as follows: District No. 4 built a stone house on the town site of Smith Centre, in 1873; German Township, in August, 1873; at Cedarville, in Harvey Township, a school-house was erected in 1872 at a cost of $1,700. (This district has twice lost school-houses by fire, and each time erected better and more expensive houses than the one lost. The last loss occurred in e winter of 1881 and was the work of an incendiary. The present school building cost $3,000). No. 9, in Houston Township, erected a house in Gaylord in 1872; Lincoln Township, No. 24, built in July, 1873; Oak Township, No. 34, in 1873.

In 1878 the number of organized school districts in the county numbered ninety-seven, with a school population of 2,864. The average salary then paid teachers, per month, was $20.38 for males, and $16.71 for females. The total number of school-houses, forty-one; log, thirty-one; frame, two; brick, one; stone, seven; and the valuation of school property, $9,696.

In 1879 the number of school districts was 118; school population, 4,448; number of teachers employed, 100; average salary paid teachers, per month, $21.02 for males, and $16.59 for females. Thirty school-houses were built during the year. Estimated value of school property, $13,478.

In 1880 the number of school districts was 123; school population, 4,835; number of teachers employed, 157; average salary paid teachers, per month, $21.15 for males, and $18.56 for females; number of school-houses built during the year, twenty-nine; estimated value of school buildings, $16,130; total school expenditures for the year, $10,029.34. The United States census returns show the total population of the county in 1880, 13,904.

In 1881-'82 the reports show 128 school districts; there are 118 school-houses in the county - eight log, eleven stone, thirty-six frame and sixty-three sod; thirteen of the frame and two of the stone houses are furnished with patent desks. Teachers employed, holding first grade certificates, four males and two females; second grade, nineteen males and thirty-five females; total number employed, 125; average salary of teachers per month, for males, $18.42; for females, $17.30; amount received for school purposes in the county for the year 1881, $16,543; paid out for the same period, $12,502.26. With another season of property like that of 1882 the school interests of the county will be vastly benefited, both in the quality of the buildings and the pay of teachers. The friends of education in the county have courageously labored in the past under many discouragements. In 1882 two districts have expended $6,000 for school buildings. The average pay of teachers in 1882 was $19 for males and $18 for females. Four months' schools were taught. The County Institute commenced August 7 and continued four weeks. It was largely attended.

Since the first settlement in 1870 the growth of Smith County has been marvelous as the following figures prove: Population in 1870, 66; in 1875, 3,876; increase in five years, 3,810; population in 1878, 8,315; increase in eight years, 8,249. The national census of 1880 shows a population of 13,904, an increase since the first settlers came in, twelve years since, of 13,838! The population of the county entitles it to two members of the Legislature. The increase in acreage of field crops from the first settlement to the present time shows that the labors of the people have kept pace with the growth of population. In 1872 the acreage in corn, wheat, rye, barley, prairie meadow, prairie pasture, sorghum, oats, broom corn, etc., amounted to 5,310 acres. The latest returns show an acreage of 69,310.

Aside from a few grist and saw mills, the manufacturing interests of the county are inconsiderable, and the people understand that their great dependence is agriculture, cattle and the dairy.

The statistics for 1882 make the following showing: Number of acres in cultivation, 341,304; valuation, $1,831,027. Number of acres sown in fall wheat in 1881, 5,368; rye, 5,626. Number of horses, 5,046; mules, 558; cows, 3,982; other cattle, 6.113; sheep, 2,659; swine, 20,236. Fruit trees, bearing: 320 pear, 12,851 peach, 1,047 plum, 390 cherry, 23,571 apples. Not bearing: 1,156 pear, 43,747 peach, 3,281 plum, and 3,976 cherry. Artificial forests, trees on year old and over: 273 acres walnut, 49 acres maple, 71 acres honey locust, 1,044 acres cottonwood, other varieties, 2,167 acres. Total population on the county in 1882, 12,870.

There are four excellent grist-mills in the county, all located on the Solomon River, owned by Wilson & Sons, Excelsior Mills, Keeler & Son, and Bougman & Tally. Capital invested, $15,300. Value of products annually estimated at $20,000.

Value of church buildings and grounds in the county estimated at $7,500. The United Brethren, Congregationalists, German Lutherans, Methodist Episcopals and German Baptists all have church buildings.

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