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


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


This town was made the seat of justice of the county by vote of the people in November, 1872, soon after its organization. It is located near the geographical center of the county, and is a thriving business town of 450 population. Smith Centre emerged from insignificance when the county-seat question was settled in her favor, and since that time has had a steady, healthy growth. The first sermon preached in the village was by Rev. R. B. Foster, of Osborne City, in 1871. The same year Rev. H. F. Albright organized the first church in the town. In 1872, Mr. E. M. Burr commenced a term of school, but other engagements prevented his giving it personal supervision, and Miss Alice Campbell finished out the term in what is known as the old court-house building. The earliest settlers in the town were A. J. Watson, Wait George, A. J. Smith, Henry Pugh, W. D. Jenson, R. K. Smith, Pleasant Hodgson, W. A. Garrison, J. M. Stevens (who started the first blacksmith shop). W. M. George was the first Postmaster - appointed in the summer of 1872. In 1878 Mr. George died, and the present incumbent, R. A. Chandler, was appointed.

A. J. Allen opened the first store in town in 1872. Colonel F. Campbell, now a resident of Kirwin, started the second store and erected on his homestead, in Centre Township, the first stone house built in the county. E. M. Burr, the first lawyer to settle in Smith Centre, arrived in 1872. The same year came D. Traverse, the pioneer physician. The first public school-house in the township was a stone structure erected in 1873. The town has always been supplied with excellent schools and good houses since the early times. The first marriage in the township took place Oct. 16, 1872 - Mr. Thomas J. Burrow to Miss R. J. Dunlap. The first birth in the township was a son of Christopher Noggels - born Aug. 25, 1871. The first hotel was opened by W. M. George, the Postmaster, who also kept a stock of groceries.

The Smith Centre Town Company was incorporated in September, 1871, with a capital stock of $12,000 - 120 shares of $100 each. The charter members were: J. W. Raynolds, of Belleville, Republic County; R. A. Wilson, Dr. Bell, W. E. Stone, W. A. Garretson. A portion of the company resided in Smith County and the remainder in Jewell. J. W. Raynolds was the first President, W. A. Garretson the first Secretary, and R. A. Wilson the first Treasurer. In the spring of 1872 John W. George, of Jewell City, was chosen President. The assessments paid by the stockholders amounted to about $25 per share. The money thus raised was partly disbursed in the county-seat contest, in which Smith Centre was the successful candidate. The remaining funds were used in erecting buildings, one of which was donated to John Stevens for a blacksmith shop. A second building was donated to the county, and is still used as a court-house.

During the year 1873 it was discovered that the town company, as such, could not lawfully perfect titles to land, and the corporation was dissolved. The land, consisting originally of a whole section, was taken up by parties interested under the homestead law, except one quarter-section, which was reserved as a town site, under the town-site act, and the title was perfected in 1875.

Smith Centre has five stores for the sale of general merchandise, two hardware stores, two agricultural implement stores, two banks, three groceries, two drug stores, three hotels, one boot and shoe store, one furniture, one millinery, four blacksmiths, one wagon-maker, two livery and sale stables, two newspapers, two restaurants, one billiard room, two meat markets, seven lawyers and two physicians.


Western Star Lodge, No., 174, A. F. & A. M., was chartered October, 1877. First officers: Will D. Jenkins, W. M.; Jeremiah Gillman, S. W.; Charles H. Aldrich, J. W. Present officers: W. H. Nelson, W. M.; R. M. Pickler, S. W.; A. Cleveland, J. W.; F. J. Pattee, Sec.; L. C. Uhl, Treas.; Henry Uhl, S. D.; A. J. Brenneman, J. D.; E. W. Haines, Tyler. Sixty-five members. Meetings first and third Saturdays, in Masonic Hall, Main street.

Vest Lodge, No. 153, I. O. O. F., organized October, 1878. Charter members, J. C. White, J. W. Henderson, S. S. Hite, H. A. Hester, B. W. Perdue. Present officers: R. D. Bowen, H. G.; W. H. Nelson, V. G.; S. S. Hite, Per. Sec.; C. P. Booth, Financial Secretary; A. M. Corn, P. G. Forty members. Meetings held every Wednesday evening in Odd Fellows' Hall, Mai Street.

Robert Anderson Post, No. 45, G. A. R. Organized April, 1882. H. H. Reed, P. C.; Lair Dean, S. V. C.; H. W. Cowry, J. V. C.; H. R. Stode(?), Quartermaster; F. J. Pattee, Adjutant; Rev. H. G. Miller, Chaplain; H. A. Watson, O. of D.; R. A. Chandler, Q. M. S.; D. H. Fleming, O. G.; J. D. Hagadorn, Surgeon; John Walker, S. M. Sixty members. Meets on second and fourth Fridays in Masonic Hall.

Smith Centre Lodge, No. 47, A. O. U. W., organized May 31, 1880, with the following charter members: Willis Cannon, W. H. Nelson, A. M. Corn, Neely Thompson, C. G. Wheeler, J. Q. Royce, W. B. Hardacre, W. J. Byers, A. F. Lane, R. D. Bowen, W. F. Donaldson, J. R. Burrow, A. J. Smith. Present officers: S. D. Cummings, P. M. W.; F. J. Pattee, M. W.; W. B. Hardacre, Foreman; John L. Royce, Overseer; J. R. Burrow, Receiver; J. N. Beacon, Recorder; R. D. Bowen, Financier; W. H. Nelson, Guide; E. C. Stevens, Inside Watchman; O. P. Daley, Outside Watchman. Twenty-three members. Meets first and third Mondays of each month.


J. N. BEACOM, County Clerk, settled in the south part of the above county in the fall of 1878, and engaged in agriculture. Was elected County Clerk in the fall of 1881, and has held the office since. He was born in Logan County, Ohio, April, 1846. Was raised in Eddyville, Wapello Co., Iowa, his parents moving there in 1854. Enlisted Sept. 4, 1861, in Company K. Third Iowa Cavalry. Participated in all the battles of his command. Was wounded and taken prisoner in the battle of Village Creek on the 27th of June, 1862, and was confined in Rebel prison at Little Rock, Ark., until the latter part of November of the same year, when he was paroled and rejoined his regiment. He was mustered out Sept. 23, 1864. He then lived in Iowa until 1867; then in Cumberland County, Ill., where he followed merchandising and the wool trade. Was married in 1870 to Miss Maggie A. Starnes, of Owen County, Ind. They have three children - Arlino, Charles W. and Nellie K. He is a member of Blue Lodge, A. F. & A. M., K. of P., A. O. U. W., and Robert Anderson Post, No. 47, G. A. R., of Smith Centre.

R. D. BOWEN, editor and proprietor of the Smith County Pioneer, began the publication of the above newspaper Oct. 18, 1882. This paper was first edited in the f all of 1871. It now has a circulation of 2,241, being the largest circulation of any paper in Western Kansas, and is Democratic in politics. He came to Smith County, Kan., Sept. 24, 1873, and engaged in agriculture and blacksmithing. He was born in Trumbull County, Ohio, in 1840. His parents with their family moved to Mercer County, PA., in 1845, and lived there ten years. His experience in life has been somewhat varied. Enlisted July 11, 1861, in Company M, Second Iowa Cavalry, and participated in all the battles of his command. Was wounded in a skirmish, and at the second battle of Corinth. Was mustered out in the fall of 1864. Was married in 1866 to Miss Lucy A. Adair, a native of Iowa. They have six children - Herbert H., Mille B., Carrie N., Estella A., Walter S. and Maude. He is a member of I. O. O. F., Lodge No. 153; A. O. U. W., Lodge No. 47; Anderson Post, No. 45, G. A. R., and Adjutant of the latter.

JACOB BRUNNER, dealer in general merchandise, came to Smith Centre in 1873, began the drug trade and followed the business for four years; then embarked in general merchandising. He first carried a very small stock. Built a store in 1878, 20 X 50 feet, two stories high, and carries now a very large and extensive stock, and doing good business. He was born in Germany in 1842, and came to America in 1862. Lived first in Cincinnati, Ohio, Detroit, Mich., and St. Louis, Mo., clerking in stores.

GEORGE L. BURR, editor and proprietor of the Smith County Record, was born in Henry County, Ia., July 12, 1859. The family removed to Missouri in 1865, and to Smith County in 1872, settling on a farm near Smith Centre, where the family still own a large body of land. Mr. Burr attended school at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and Keithville, Mo., receiving a substantial English education. Has studied law and is now prepared for admission to the bar. Mr. Burr is a fearless defender of what he believes to be right and just. He had charge of the schools in Gaylord and Smith Centre for four terms - two in each town, - two years. Mr. Burr was married to Miss Hattie Bonnett, daughter of Rev. L. M. Bonnett. They have one child.

WILLIS CANNON, dealer in drugs, medicines, books and stationery, began trade in fall of 1878, with a stock of $500, under the firm name of Stevens & Cannon. He became proprietor in January, 1881, and now carries a stock of $2,000. He came to Smith Centre in the spring of 1878. He is the present County Coroner of Smith County. He is a physician and surgeon of the allopathic school. Was born in Hancock County, Ill., Nov. 23, 1850, and was raised in his native county. Began the study of medicine in 1870, graduating from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Keokuk, Iowa, in the class of 1875. Began practicing medicine in Henderson County, Ill., and continued until he came to Kansas. Was married May 1, 1881, to Miss Emma Belle Pollock of Iowa. They have one daughter - Carrie Gertrude. He is a member of Blue Lodge, A. F. & A. M., A. O. U. W. and Kansas State Medical Society.

R. A. CHANDLER, dealer in general merchandise, opened trade in August, 1882. Erected his store in 1879, size of which is 20 X 40 feet deep and cost $1,100. He carries a stock of about $2,000. He came to Smith Centre spring of 1873 and engaged in agriculture some time, then returned to Iowa and remained eighteen months, after which he came to his present home. He was Deputy County Clerk some time; Postmaster four years and over, then embarked in trade. He was born in Henry County, Iowa, July 11, 1842, and was raised there. Enlisted fall of 1861 in Company I, Fourteenth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and was placed on detached service; participated in battles of Fort Donelson and Shiloh, being taken prisoner in latter battle, spring of 1862. Confined two months, and paroled ; mustered out winter of 1864. Was married in 1870 to Eunice M. Kelley, of Henry County, Ia. They have four children - John S., Walter S., Mary L. and Grace L. He is a member of I. O. O. F. and A. O. U. W., and Robert Anderson Post, G. A. R.

F. F. COOLIDGE, editor and proprietor of the Weekly Smith County Record. This paper was established Aug. 5, 1881. Has a circulation of 700 copies, and is Republican in politics. Mr. Coolidge came to Smith Centre in 1872, and located near the village, where he engaged in agriculture. Followed that and teaching. He became editor and proprietor of the above paper in February, 1883. He was born in Madison County, N. Y., May 9, 1856, living in his native county until 1861, and came with his parents to Benton County, Ia., where he was raised and lived until he came to Kansas. He is a graduate of the high school of Vinton, Iowa. Was married in 1881 to Miss Cora Burr, of Smith Centre, Kan. They have one son, not yet named.

DANIEL H. FLEMING, Superintendent of Public Instruction, came to Smith County in April, 1873, and engaged in agriculture. Was elected County Superintendent in the fall of 1880; re-elected in the fall of 1882. Was born in Moultrie County, Ill., March 17, 1840. Lived in that and Shelby counties, until 1847, and moved with his parents to Davis County, Ia., where he was raised and educated. He began teaching in 1859, and has followed that occupation more or less since. He enlisted in the spring of 1861 in Company G, Second Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and participated in all the battles of his command, Promoted to Second Lieutenant. Mustered out in the spring of 1864, on account of expiration of term of service. After army life he returned home and followed farming, stock-raising and teaching. He was married in the spring of 1865 to Miss Martha V. Rall, of Drakesville, Iowa. They have eight children - Warren E., Willie O., Lillis A., Festus R., Levi R. (deceased), Beulah, Fenton and Flora. They are members of the Christian church. He is a member of Anderson Post, No. 47, G. A. R.

H. A. HESTER, Sheriff and farmer, came to Jewell County, Kans., in 1870, and engaged in various pursuits; came to Smith County, Kans., in 1872, and followed freighting between Hastings, Neb., and Smith Centre, Kans., until the railroad cut off the business in 1879. Since that followed various pursuits until the fall of 1881, when he was elected Sheriff. He took his land in the spring of 1872. Has 160 acres, northwest quarter Section 21, Township 3, Range 13, eighty-five acres of which is cultivated. He was born in Pike County, Ill., Jan. 2, 1850, and grew to manhood there. He followed steamboating for a number of years on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. He was married in 1869, to Ella George, of Macon County, Ill. He lost his wife in 1876 in Jewell County, Kans. They had one son - Charles E. He was married again in 1881 to Mrs. Meranda E. George, who had one son, Morris George, by a former marriage. Mr. H. is a member of Blue Lodge, A. F. & A. M. and Knights of Pythias, of Smith Centre.

CAPTAIN J. S. McDOWELL, dealer in general merchandise and live stock. He opened trade in the fall of 1874, with a stock of $2,000, being among the first merchants in the village, and now has the oldest established business in Smith County. Erected his store in the fall of 1880. The size is 28 X 0 feet deep, two stories and a basement, built of cut stone, at a cost of $4,500. Now carries a stock of $8,000, and employs three clerks steadily. He first came to Atchison County, Kan., in 1869. Farmed until 1871, and then clerked in a store on a salary until he came to Smith Centre. He was born in Franklin County, Pa., Aug. 1, 1840, and live in his native county until twelve years of age, when his parents moved to Fulton County, Ind., where he enlisted in April, 1861, in three months' service, and Sept. 1, 1861, enlisted for three years in Company F. Seventy- seventh Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Participated in all the battles of his command. Was taken prisoner at Chickamauga, Sept. 19, 1863, and held until March, 1865. He entered the army as a Sergeant; promotions were: Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant and Captain of his company. Was mustered out in July, 1865. He then settled in Amboy, Ill., and embarked in merchandising until 1869. Was married in 1876 to Miss Cordelia A. Niles, of Dane County, Wis. Mr. McD. is a member of Blue Lodge, A. F. & A. M.

WILLIAM H. NELSON, Postmaster and Register of Deeds, came to Cora, Smith Co., Kan., June, 1873, and embarked in merchandising. Was elected County Surveyor of Smith County, and filled that position by re-election from 1875 to 1879 inclusive. Was elected Register of Deeds in the fall of 1879. Re-elected in the fall of 1881. Came to Smith Centre in 1876. Was born in Titusville, Crawford Co., Pa., March 22, 1851, and lived in his native county until he came to Kansas. He is a member of the Kansas State Militia. He was educated in surveying and civil engineering at Edinboro, Erie Co., Pa., graduating with the class of 1872. Was married in 1875 to Miss Rose M. Thompson, of Grand Valley, Warren Co., Pa. They have four children - Alansen E., Arthur, Edith and Stella. He is a member of Blue Lodge, A., F. & A. M., I. O. O. F. and A. O. U. W., of Smith Centre.

R. M. PICKLER, County Attorney, came to Smith Centre winter of 1870, and opened a law office. Elected to his present office, fall of 1882. He was born in Davis County, Iowa, Feb. 23, 1856. Lived in that county until 1867, when parents, with family, moved to Kirksville, Mo., where he was educated. Began the study of law in 1876. He was editor of the Milan Republican, of Milan, Mo., three years, and studied law at the same time. He was a student in the law office of Hoffman, Pickler & Brown, of Muscatine, Iowa, some time. Was admitted to the bar of practice in spring of 1879, at the latter city, and began the practice of law there. He soon opened a law office at Milan, Mo., and practiced a few months, when he emigrated to Kansas. He is a member of Western Star Lodge, No., 174, A., F. & A. M.

H. H. REED, Probate Judge, and dealer in general merchandise. He first came to Leavenworth, Kan., in 1866, and engaged in agriculture until the spring of 1872, when he came to Smith Centre and farmed ten years. He was elected Probate Judge in the fall of 1878, and re-elected in the f all of 1880 and 1882; served as Justice of the Peace from 1872 until 1878. He began trade with a stock of $1,000, and now carries a stock of $2,000. He was born in Portage County, O., July 14, 1839, and remained there until 1852, when he removed to Fayette County, Ill., and farmed until 1861. Enlisted July 3, 1861, in Company B., Thirty-fifth Illinois Volunteer Infantry; participated in all the battles except Chickamauga; promotions were Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant and Captain of his company. mustered out Sept. 28, 1864; returned to his home and lived until he came to Kansas. He began the study of law when quite a young man; was admitted to the bar of the District Court, Smith County, in 1881. He was married in 1862 to Miss Sarah J. Welch, of Bowling Green, Ill. They have six children - John T., Owen L., Isabella, Ann A., Hattie J. and Ida E. He is a member of I. O. O. F., K. of P., and Anderson Post, No. 53, G. A. R.

A. U. SHELDON, Cashier of Smith County Bank. This bank was organized Aug. 1, 1880, and opened for business as a private bank. The officers are: John Hall, President; O. W. Sheldon, Vice President; A. U. Sheldon, Cashier; and C. J. Sargent, Assistant Cashier. The Eastern correspondents are : Merchants' National Bank, Kansas City, Mo.; Continental National, N. Y. City; and Bank of John Hall & Co., Fort Ann, N. Y. They do a regular banking business. A. U. Sheldon came to Smith Centre in September, 1880, and embarked in the banking business. He was born at Fort Ann, N. Y., May 28, 1857, and lived there until he came to Kansas. He spent three years in the wholesale manufacture of sash, doors and blinds, in Western New York; he took a three years' course at Fort Edward Institute, N. Y. He was engaged in the banking business with his father (O. W. Sheldon) and a partner (John Hall) in his native place. He is a member of the Masonic Order, K. of P., etc.

HERBERT H. SPRINGER, farmer and stock-raiser. His farm joins the village on the south. It is a beautiful place, nicely set with many varieties of forest trees, fruit trees, etc., Section 22, Township 3, Range 13. He filed on his land Dec. 4, 1875. Has 120 acres, and has 17 acres of timber. In the spring of 1877 he began planting trees, and now has walnut trees five inches in diameter and twelve feet high; cottonwoods then inches in diameter and thirty feet high; the latter were planted from slips, and the former from walnuts. Mr. S. was born in Ashland County, O., June 18, 1844, living in Ohio until about twenty-two years of age, on a farm. He then moved to Fulton County, Ill., and farmed two and a half years; then to Henry County, Ia., where he farmed and dealt in live stock until he came to Kansas. In 1882 he was married to Miss Mary Fairchild, a native of Ohio. He is President of Smith County Agricultural Society.

HENRY R. STONE, stock raiser, has a ranch sixteen miles from Smith Centre, of 1,280 acres, 200 of which is finely cultivated. On his ranch he has 1,000 head of thorough bred Spanish merino sheep, sixty-three head of which sheared twenty-four pounds each in 1882. He has the finest ranch in Northwestern Kansas. He also keeps a farm loan office, and within the past two years has loaned out $350,000 at 9 and 10 per cent. interest for Eastern parties. He came to the ranch in 1872, where he engaged in agriculture and stock-raising, and embarked in merchandising, June, 1880, continuing in the business about three years. He was born in Dansville, Livingston Co., N. Y., April 6, 1840, living there until 1856, when he went to Lake County, O., and worked on a farm. He taught school in Michigan in 1857; then went to Whiteside(?) County, Ill., and worked on a farm and taught school. Enlisted Aug. 2, 1861, in Barker Dragoons, of Chicago, and was transferred to the Twelfth Illinois Cavalry; participated in all the battles of his command; was wounded in the battle of Upperville, Jan. 21, 1863; was mustered out Aug. 2, 1864; then taught school in Illinois and Iowa; crossed the plains in 1866, and engaged in quartz mill (?) two years in Nevada. In 1872 he went to California and engaged in farming. Returned to Iowa and taught school some time. Was married in 1865 to Miss Angie D. Foy, of Whiteside County, Ill. They have one son - Wardie H. Mr. Stone is a member of Blue Lodge, A., F., & A. M., and Robert Anderson Post, No. 47, G. A. R.

DR. NEELY THOMPSON, editor of the Smith County Pioneer, was born July 28, 1839. He was educated for a physician and commenced practice, but at the outbreak of the Rebellion he entered the military service as Captain of Company D, Thirty-fourth United States Infantry, and served with honor until the close of the Rebellion. He came West and settled in Kansas, at Muscotah, Atchison County, and in 1871 married Miss E. J. Spangler, and moved to Smith Centre in 1877, and soon became editor of the Kansas Free Press. The Press and Pioneer were consolidated in 1880, and Dr. Thompson became editor of the Kansas Pioneer, as the paper is now called. He is a bold, fearless advocate of the principles he believes to be right.

LEONARD C. UHL, attorney at law, first came to Smith Centre, Kan., in August, 1872, and opened a law office. He practiced law and followed hardware business for six years; also interested in agriculture. Has 240 acres of land adjoining the village, 180 of which is cultivated; 160 acres fine timber; 320 acres six miles east, seventy-five of which is cultivated. He was born in Hessia, Europe, Nov. 26, 1846. Came to America in 1848, with parents, settling in Ross County, Ind. In 1856, removed to Pratt County, Ill., where he was raised. Educated in Illinois State Normal School, and followed teaching some time. Began study of law in 1870, at Falls City, Neb., admitted to bar at Omaha, May term 1872, in U. S. district Court, and began practicing law at Smith Centre. Was married in 1875, to Miss Nancy Widick, a native of Illinois. They have one son - Leonard C., Jr. Mr. U. is a member of Blue Lodge, A., F., & A. M. and I. O. O. F. Was County Attorney in 1879-80.

GEORGE W. WHITE, of the firm of Burrows & White, proprietors of People's Bank. This bank was opened in the spring of 1881, and does a regular banking business. Eastern correspondents are: St. Joseph Savings Bank, Mo., U. S. National, New York City. Average deposits are $4,000. Employ a capital of $25,000. The names of the firm J. R. Burrows and Geo. W. White. Mr. W. came to Smith Centre in the fall of 1873, and opened a law office, and has since practiced law. He was born in Muskegon County, Ohio Jan. 17, 1854. Graduated fro the Law Department Iowa State University in the class of 1873; also took a collegiate course of two years in the same institution. Was admitted to the bar in 1873, by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Iowa, C. C. Cole. Was married, April 19, 1883, to Miss Nina Newkirk, a native of Indiana. He has two children by a former marriage - Edith May and Floyd Marion. Mr. W. served in 1874 and 1875 as County Attorney of Smith County.

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