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


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


The population of the county has not increased very rapidly, and some years it decreased rather than increased. By taking the population in 1882, which was 3,413 according to the returns of the Assessors, and dividing it by nine, the number of years that have elapsed since the first settlement was made in the county, the average yearly increase is shown to be 379. The years 1878-79 witnessed great immigration to the county, and the census of 1880 shows the population that year to have been 4,519. The following year it dropped to 3,215, showing a loss in one year of 1,304. The next year the tendency was upward, as the census of 1882 shows the population of that year to have been 3,413, again over 1881 of 196.

As to the material growth no comparisons can be made with former years, as prior to 1880 the county was without statistical records, having been partitioned and attached to other counties. The first claim taken in the county was in the spring of 1874, but the real settlement of the county did not take place for several years afterward, so that all the material advancement that has taken place in the county, has virtually occurred within the last five years. The statistical records of the county show the number of acres in farms in the county in 1882, to have been 142,994, valued for assessment at $402,148. There were erected in the county during the year ending March 31, 1882, farm dwellings to the number of 104, which were valued at $18,111. The acreage of winter wheat sown in 1881, was 8,068 acres, and in the spring of 1882 there were planted to corn 17,671 acres; oats had 526 acres; buckwheat, 22; Irish potatoes, 103; sweet potatoes, 43; sorghum 2,495; tobacco, 23; broom corn, 3,942; millet and Hungarian, 8,107; pearl millet, 167; rice corn, 1,565, and the grass in cultivation and under fence, 16,190, showing a total acreage of field crops in 1882 of 58,083 acres. The tame hay cut in the county in 1881 was 4,027 tons and the prairie hay 5,454 tons; garden products were sold to the amount of $960, and eggs and poultry to the amount of $12,640. The cheese product was 800 pounds, and that of butter 113,003 pounds. The livestock in the county in 1882 was represented by 1,125 horses, 354 mules and asses, 2,954 milch cows, 6,241 other cattle, 30,059 sheep, and 1,881 swine, while the value of the animals slaughtered or sold for slaughter was $40,502, an increase over the preceding year of $25,641; cows, cattle and sheep more than doubled what they were in 1881, while all the other animals, excepting swine, showed a considerable increase. The wool clip for the year ending March 1, 1882, was 29,499 pounds, being four times greater than the year preceding. Considerable improvement has taken place in the shape of orchards, although but few of the trees have reached a bearing state. The trees in bearing in 1882 were apple, 286, pear, 1; peach, 6,815; plum 1; and cherry, 88. Not in bearing there were apple, 1,495; pear, 122; peach, 37,543; plum, 563; and cherry, 1,120. There is but very little fence in the county, all told being only 15,631 rods, of which 337 are board, 2,960 hedge, and 12, 334 wire.

The agricultural implements in the county in 1882 were valued at $23,496. The acres devoted to artificial forestry were 1,244, of which 108 were planted to walnut, 2 to honey locust, 929 to cottonwood, and 205 to other varieties.


St. John is the county seat of Stafford County, and is named after Ex-Gov. St. John, of Kansas. Where the town now stands was formerly known as Zion Valley, this name having been given to it by a settlement of Latter-Day Saints that located in the vicinity. Its location in the county is about two and a half miles south of the center. The town is located on Section 33, Township 23, Range 13west, and was surveyed and platted by H. L. Fitch in 1879. The land embraced in the town site was formerly the claim of Fred Hawkins, he having entered it as a homestead some years previous. After the county was restored to its place among the counties of the State in 1879, a party, consisting of W. C. Belzer, C. B. Weeks, William Dixon, William Glasscock, J. Westwood and George Breckenridge, organized themselves into a town company, and purchased Hawkins claim. Of this company, W. C. Belzer was President, and C. B. Weeks, Secretary. Having purchased the claim, they had it surveyed and platted, and when this was done they named it St. John. This name was given to it with the expectation that it might exercise some influence in having it declared the temporary county seat, when the time came to temporarily organize the county. There was only one building on the town site when it was surveyed, and that was a good sized frame building put up by the Latter-Day Saints as a church, and known among the people as the Mormon Temple.

The first building erected in St. John was put up by Henry Rohr, on the west side of the square, in September, 1879. Prior to this, however, one or two buildings had been moved on to the town site from the country. One of these was a building owned by John Askew, which he moved in June, 1879, and converted into a hotel, and which is still used for such purposes, and is now known as the City Hotel. Another, that was moved in a little later, was that of John Fish, in which was opened the first store in town, he having commenced selling goods a few weeks prior to Mr. Rohr. Mail for people at St. John in the early part of 1879 came to Zion Valley Post Office, but in May of that year the office was moved to St. John, and on the first of July, 1880, the name of the office was changed to correspond with that of the town, C. B. Weeks being the first Postmaster, who held the office until September, 1991, when he was succeeded by W. R. Hoole, the present incumbent.

The first settlers in St. John were C. B. Weeks, John Askew and family, John Fish, Henry Rohr, J. B. Smith, Frank Cox, W. R. Hoole and Mr. Alexander. These are the seventy-niners. In the spring of 1879, a small frame schoolhouse was built, in which school was commenced in the summer of that year, the first teacher being Miss Ida M. Forman. The building becoming too small to accommodate the number of school children, it was sold in February, 1883, and preparatory steps are now being taken to erect a commodious brick building. School is now held in the courtroom.

The first child born in town was St. John Cox, his birth occurring in September, 1880; and the first death was that of Alice A., daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Smith. The first couple married in town was Fred Hawkins and Miss Delilah Kendall, the marriage taking place in September, 1879. In 1882, E. R. and F. C. Swartz located in town, and purchased the Mormon Temple, which they moved to the west side of the square and converted into two store rooms, one of which they occupied themselves as a hardware store, and the other is used by Mr. Sparks as a drug store, and by Mr. Hoole as a post office and savings bank. They also put up two very fine residences that fall. That same fall, the town company erected a goodly sized two-story frame building, the first floor of which they finished and partitioned into offices, and the upper story as a hall, the free use of which they gave to the county for county purposes for five years.

As yet the town has no church edifice, but there are several church organizations, including Methodists, Baptists, United Brethren and Latter-Day Saints, all of which meet for worship alternately in the court room. The Methodists, however, have just commenced the erection of a frame church, the estimated cost of which is $2,000. Preparations are also being made for the opening of a brick yard. The town contains about fifty buildings in all, and the business of the place is represented by the general merchandising store of Henry Rohr, which was the first erected in town, and is quite an extensive two-story frame building; general store kept by Lovejoy & Glassscock; one of the same kind by I. W. Reeves; a furniture store by Charles Smith; a drug store by A. Sparks; a hardware store by Swartz Brothers; a savings bank, established in 1879; one hotel, a restaurant, three blacksmith shops, and two livery stables. A good weekly newspaper is published in town, the Advance owned and edited by W. K. P. Dow.

The town is beautifully located on dry, undulating prairie, and derives trade from an extensive stretch of country. While the place is yet small, there is an air of thrift and neatness about it which bespeaks taste and progress. The stores and houses are all painted, and the manner in which the stores are stocked indicate a prosperous business with the merchants. The population of the place does not exceed 150.


JOHN T. ASKEW, farmer and stock-raiser, P. O. Macksville, was born in Will County, Ill., May 3, 1853. His parents, Thomas and Isabella Askew, were English. In 1855, he moved with his parents to Iroquois County, and lived with them there until 1873, when he moved to Kansas and located in Rice County, where he remained but six months, when he went to Colorado, returning to Kansas in the fall of 1875, and locating in Stafford County, where he engaged in farming and stock-raising. He was married at Zion Valley, Stafford Co., December 25, 1877, to Miss Carrie Sievert, a native of Indiana. By this marriage one child has been born to him-Inez I., Born in Stafford County, Kan., September 1, 1880. At present, Mr. Askew is both Clerk and Treasurer of the township in which he resides.

WILLIAM DIXON, Clerk of the District Court. The parents of the subject of this sketch were William and Rebecca Dixon, the former a native of England, and the latter of Ohio. William Dixon, Jr., was born in Wheeling, W. Va., February 4, 1853, where he lived until June, 1878, when he moved to Kansas and located at St. John in Stafford County. He received his education at the common schools of Wheeling. In the fall of 1879, he was elected Clerk of the District Court of Stafford County, as which he served until December 6, 1880, when he resigned, and was immediately appointed Justice of the Peace, in which capacity he served until November 1882, when he was re-elected Clerk of the Court. In connection with his official duties, he studied law, and on December 13, 1881, was admitted to practice at the bar. On June 22, 1876, at Wheeling, W. Va., he was married to Miss Josephine Driller, a native of West Virginia, by which marriage one child has been born to him, a son, named William, the date of his birth being January 14, 1878.

W. K. P. DOW, editor and farmer, son of Warren D. and Lydia D. Dow. His father, Warren D., was a native of Maine, and his mother, Lydia D., a native of Virginia. W. K. P. was born at Bethany, Brooke Co., Va., June 20, 1852. In 1859, he moved with his parents to Clarke County, Mo., where he remained until 1877, when he removed to Kansas, and located in Stafford County. A desire to enter the field of journalism caused him to purchase an office and learn the printing trade, and in January, 1882, he established the Stafford County Bee, which he edited and published until March, 1883, when he purchased the St. John Advance merging the former into the latter. On March 7, 1875, in Clarke County, Mo., Mr. Dow was married to Miss Laura E. Clay, a native of Missouri by which marriage four children have been born to him-John, born in Clarke County, Mo., December 16, 1875; Emma in Stafford County, Kan., October 31, 1877, died February 20, 1879; Clarence, at the same place January 17, 1880, and Samuel C. born at the same place February 11, 1882. Mr. Dow has served as township officer in various capacities, and was for three years Postmaster at Milwaukee, Stafford Co., Kan.

FRANK B. GILLMORE, Register of Deeds, was the seventh child and fifth son of Benjamin P. and Mariam S. Gillmore, and was born in Lake County, Ill., June 1, 1853. Both his parents were natives of New York State. His father was a farmer. The common schools of his native State furnished the only sources from which he derived his education. He lived with his parents on the farm until he was fifteen years of age, when he entered a store as a clerk, which occupation he followed for nearly three years. He then learned the painting trade, and followed this until November, 1877, when he moved to Kansas and located in Stafford County, where he took a homestead claim and embarked in farming. On April 3, 1876, at Waukegan, Ill, he was married to Mary Ann Ellis, a native of England. The issue of this marriage has been - Robert E., born at Waukegan, Ill., February 12, 1877; Lois M. born at Elinwood, Barton Co., Kan., September 19, 1879; Libbie, born at Sandago, Stafford Co., Kan., January 31, 1881, and Edna, born at St. John, October 13, 1882. From February 1880, until March, 1882, Mr. Gillmore was Postmaster at Sandago; and from August 21, 1882, to March 12, 1883, he was editor and manager of the St. John Advance, a Republican weekly newspaper, published at St. John, Kan. He also served as Township Treasurer for three successive terms, and in the fall of 1881 was elected to the offices of Register of Deeds of Stafford County, in which capacity he is still serving.

WILLIAM R. HOOLE, Postmaster and cashier of the St. John Savings Bank, was the fourth child and third son of Joseph and Lucy Ann Hoole, and was born at Rising Sun, Ohio Co., Ind., March 30, 1846. His father was a native of Sheffield, England, and his mother a native of Ohio. William R. received his education in the public schools, and lived with his parents until he was fifteen years and six months of age, when he enlisted in Company G, of the Sixty-sixth Illinois Infantry, the date of his enlistment being September 14, 1861. He served three years and nine months, and was mustered out at the close of the war. The engagements in which he took part were Mount Zion, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Shiloh, battle of Corinth, Iuka, Corinth, Hatchie River, Chattanooga, Snake Creek Gap, Resaca, Kenesaw Mountain, Lays Ferry, Rome Cross Roads, Balls Bluff, Jonesboro, Atlanta, and was with Sherman's army in the march to the sea, participating in the attack on Savannah. Mr. Hoole received injuries at Rome, Ga., while in the discharge of his duties, which he is yet suffering from. For many years after leaving the army, he passed his time in travelling, partly for pleasure, but chiefly for health. In the spring of 1874, he moved to Kansas and located in Stafford County, taking the first Government claim that was entered in that county. He took a very active part in having Stafford restored to its place among the counties of the State, and was one of the founders of the town of St. John, of which he is still a resident. On September 6, 1881, he was appointed Postmaster, which position he still occupies. He is also cashier of the St. John Savings bank. Mr. Hoole was married at St. Louis on October 14, 1874, to Miss Augusta Henderson, a native of Illinois, of which marriage one child has been the issue-Edwin, born in Stafford County, Kan., April 28, 1876.

CORNELIUS S. MACE, Sheriff and farmer, was born in the State of Maine, November 19, 1842. His father, Benjamin B. Mace, and his mother, Rhoda Mace, were both natives of Maine. Cornelius lived with his parents on a farm until he was thirteen years old, when he went to live with his sister at Winchester, Randolph Co., Ind., where he remained for six years, when he returned to his home in Maine. He received his education in the common schools of his native county, the high school at Winchester, Ind., and the Farmington Academy, of Maine. In October, 1861, he enlisted in Company E of the Twelfth Maine Infantry, and served three years and two months, having been mustered out December 5, 1864. While in the army, he took part in the siege of Port Hudson, the battles of Winchester and Cedar Creek, and participated in the attack on Petersburg. At Port Hudson, he was severely wounded in the leg by a fragment of shell. After leaving the army, he went to Muirton, Grundy County, Mo., where he engaged in merchantile (sic) business, and was Postmaster of the place from 1868 to 1870. Giving up the mercantile business, he purchased a farm, and engaged in farming. In 1877, he moved to Kansas and located upon a farm in Stafford County. On October 4, 1868, at Muirton, Mo., he was married to Miss Jennie L. Duff, a native of Iowa. The issue of said marriage-Jennie I., born at Muirton, Mo., August 5, 1869; Eugene C., born at the same place, May 4, 1871; Annie R., at the same place, December 20, 1872; Mary M., same place, September 10, 1877, and Edward D., born at St. John, Stafford Co., Kan., October 13, 1881. Mr. Mace had held various school and township offices, and in the fall of 1881 he was elected Sheriff of Stafford County, Kan., which office he at present occupies.

JAMES B. SMITH, banker, is the son of Henry and Keziah Smith, and was born in Fayette County, Penn., November 19, 1826. His father was a farmer, and J. B. was raised to work on the farm. His means of receiving an education were rather limited, being confined to the old district school of fifty years ago. On February 4, 1849, he was married in Fayette County, Penn., to Miss Mary Bryson, a native of that State, six children being the issue of the marriage-Alice A., born in Fayette County, Penn., January 5, 1850, died July 30, 1881, Emma A., born in the same county, March 31, 1852; William B., born in Van Buren County, Iowa, March 4, 1855; James H., same county, January 1, 1857, Sarah E., same county, born September 3, 1859; and Charles F., in the same county, January 17, 1861. In 1854, Mr. Smith moved to Van Buren County, Iowa, where he continued farming until 1870, when he went to Henry County, Mo., where he resided until April, 1876, when he removed to Kansas and located in Stafford County. In the fall of 1879, he was elected to the office of Treasurer of Stafford County, and was re-elected in the fall of 1880. In 1881, Mr. Smith was one of a company that organized and established the St. John Savings Bank, of which he is now President.

JESSE A. STEELMAN, M. D., County Superintendent. David L. Steelman and Rosetta Steelman, the parents of Jesse A., were both natives of New Jersey. Jesse A. was born in Atlantic County, N. J., June 18, 1848. His early education was received at the common school. The teachers profession he followed for three years, at the end of which time he entered the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania, where he pursued his studies for three years, and then, after graduation, commenced the practice of medicine in his native county. In 1878, his health failing, he moved to Kansas and located at what is now St. John, in Stafford County. On October 6, 1880, he was married to Miss Annie J. Somers, a native of Atlantic County, N. J., but their wedded life was only of short duration, his wife dying in the following April. In the fall of 1879, he was elected County Superintendent of Stafford County, to fill an unexpired term of thirteen months, and was re-elected to the same office in the fall of 1882.

CHARLES B. WEEKS, County Attorney and real estate agent, is the son of Joseph M. and Martha Weeks, the former a native of Maine, and the latter of New York State. Charles B. was born in Will County, Ill., February 10, 1846, where he lived until after the death of his father in 1859, when the family moved to Chicago. His education was received at the public schools of his native county, and Wells Grammar School, of Chicago. In December, 1862, not then seventeen years old, he enlisted in Phillips battery, and served until the close of the war. On October 21, 1864, he was commissioned Second Lieutenant. He was engaged in both the battles of Bristol, and also in that of Nashville, besides numerous severe skirmishes and unimportant engagements. Leaving the army, he returned to Chicago where he entered the machine shops of the Chicago & North-Western Railroad Company, and learned the machinists trade. In 1867, he commenced the study of law, which he pursued until 1869, when he engaged in the brokerage and real estate business. In October, 1876, he moved to Kansas and located at what is now St. John, in Stafford County, where he entered upon the practice of his profession, and in September, 1880, was appointed County Attorney, which office he held until November of that year, and to which he was re-elected in the fall of 1882. He also served as Postmaster at St. John, from May, 1879, until September, 1881. Mr. Weeks was married at St. John, September 11, 1880, to Miss Mary J. Dixon, a native of Virginia. The issue of this marriage has been a son, George D., born at St. John, July 4, 1881. Two children have been born to him by a former marriage - Alice H., born at Chicago, September 17, 1869, and McCleary Weeks, born at same place, February 27, 1871.

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