|KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS|
|PART 1:||Location and Natural Features | Map and Population | Early History | County Organization, Etc.|
|PART 2:||School and Other Statistics | Wellington|
|PART 3:||Biographical Sketches (Andrews - Folks)|
|PART 4:||Biographical Sketches (Gatliff - King)|
|PART 5:||Biographical Sketches (McClung - Richardson)|
|PART 6:||Biographical Sketches (Savage - Wolfe)|
|PART 8:||Biographical Sketches (Bailey - Moore)|
|PART 9:||Biographical Sketches (Nyce - Witzleben)|
|PART 10:||Belle Plaine | Biographical Sketches (Alter - Meeker)|
|PART 11:||Biographical Sketches (Neal - Willey)|
|PART 12:||Oxford | Milan | Mulvane|
|PART 13:||Geuda Springs | Hunnewell|
|PART 14:||South Haven|
|PART 15:||Argonia | Mayfield | Palestine Township|
|PART 16:||London Township | Miscellaneous|
LOCATION AND NATURAL FEATURES.
Sumner County takes its name from Hon. Charles Sumner, of Massachusetts, whose services to his country are so recent as to yet be fresh in all minds. The county lies in the southern tier, on what was Indian land for many years after much of Kansas was thickly settled. Cutting three miles from the southern part of the present county ran the Cherokee strip, the pathway of the tribe to their western hunting grounds. From this to the north line of the county ran the Diminished Osage Reserve, known as the 'thirty-mile strip,' and extending to the western line of the State. The boundaries of the county were defined by the Legislature of 1867, and on May 27, 1868, a treaty was made with the Indians, and 8,000,000 acres of land sold to the L., L. & G Railway. This included some of Sumner's best lands, and is known as the 'Sturgis treaty.'
The principal water courses are the Arkansas and Ninnescah rivers, the former cutting across the northeast corner of the county, and the latter running from near the north-central line of the county to its confluence with the Arkansas at Oxford. Slate, Chikaskia, Fall, Bluff and Cowskin creeks all follow the same general course, and finally empty either into the Arkansas or the Cimmaron river. Apart from this water supply are numerous springs, and water is readily obtained at a depth of from ten to forty feet.
Along the borders of the streams are narrow belts of timber, varying in width from 100 to 700 feet. The varieties found are: Cottonwood, elm, hackberry, walnut, box-elder and ash. A large number of timber claims have been taken in this county, the farmers having planted large areas of cottonwood, box-elder and walnut, and smaller tracts of peach and apple, both of which do remarkably well here.
A fine quality of lime stone is readily procured at almost any point in the county. Sandstone, though not as plentiful or of as good quality, is also found. Fire clay and gypsum are both found, but generally at such a depth as to preclude profitable working.
MAP OF SUMNER COUNTY.
POPULATION.Population (Federal Census) (Organized in 1871.)
------------------------------------ | 1880 | ------------------------------------ (a)Avon Township . . . . . | 324 | (b)Bell Plaine Township. . | 1,564 | (c)Bluff Township. . . . . | 602 | (d)Caldwell Township,. . . | | including Caldwell City | 1,979 | (e)Chikaskia Township. . . | 364 | (f)Conway Township . . . . | 258 | (g)Dixon Township. . . . . | 631 | (h)Downs Township. . . . . | 232 | (i)Eden Township . . . . . | 308 | (j)Falls Township. . . . . | 681 | (k)Gore Township . . . . . | 777 | (l)Greene Township . . . . | 351 | (m)Guelph Township . . . . | 723 | (n)Illinois Township . . . | 430 | (o)Jackson Township. . . . | 888 | (p)London Township . . . . | 743 | (q)Morris Township . . . . | 322 | (r)Osborn Township . . . . | 485 | (s)Oxford Township . . . . | | including Oxford City . | 1,052 | (t)Palestine Township. . . | 636 | (u)Ryan Township . . . . . | 453 | (v)Seventy-six Township. . | 419 | (w)South Haven . . . . . . | 1,214 | (x)Springdale Township . . | 587 | (y)Sumner Township . . . . | 401 | (z)Valverdi Township . . . | 487 | (aa)Walton Township. . . . | 762 | Wellington City . . . | 2,694 | (bb)Wellington Township. . | 725 | |-------| 21,092 | ------------------------------------ (a) In 1873, from original territory; in 1879, part of Greene. (b) In 1871, from original territory. (c) In 1878, from part of Caldwell. (d) In 1871, from original territory; in 1878, part of Bluff. (e) In 1871, from original territory; in 1877, parts of Dixon and Osborn in 1879, parts of Downs and Morris (f) In 1879, from part of Illinois. (g) In 1877, from part of Chikaskia; in 1879, part to Ryan. (h) In 1879, from parts of Chikaskia and Jackson. (i) In 1878 from part of Illinois. (j) In 1873, from original territory. (k) In 1872, from original territory. (l) In 1879, from parts of Avon and Guelph. (m) In 1873, from part of South Haven; in 1879, part to Greene (n) In 1877, from part of London; in 1878, part to Eden; in 1879, part to Conway. (o) In 1874, from part of South Haven; in 1879, part to Downs. (p) In 1871, from original territory; in 1876, part to Seventy-six; in 1877, part of Illinois. (q) In 1879, from part of Chikaskia (r) In 1877, from parts of Chikaskia and Wellington. (s) In 1871, from original territory and Osborn; (t) In 1872, from original territory. (u) In 1879, from part of Dixon. (v) In 1876, from parts of London and Wellington. (w) In 1871, from original territory; in 1873, part to Guelph; in 1874, part to Jackson. (x) In 1878, from part of Sumner. (y) In 1871, from original territory; in 1878, part to Spring Dale. (z) In 1874, from original territory. (aa) In 1872, from original territory. (bb) In 1871, from original territory; in 1876, part to Seventy-six; in 1877, part to Osborne.
Early in 1869 John Degolia and A. Cadou built a ranche (sic) on Slate Creek, in what is now Sumner Township. In September of that year J. M. Steele, accompanied by H. C. Sluss, went to this place for the purpose of uniting a couple in the bonds of holy matrimony, but the names of the contracting parties to this first wedding in the county have long been forgotten. On April 9 J. M. Buffington crossed the Arkansas and built a house on Section 36, Township 32, Range 2 east, where he still lives. On May 16, Lafayette Binkley and John Horton came to Big Cottonwood crossing, where Oxford now stands, and built the log trading store now occupied by John Hardman. The same month Charles Wichern settled on the Nennescah. On June 15, Edwin Wiggins, Charles Russell and Frank Holcroft took claims where the cattle trail crosses Slate creek, about eight miles above Wellington. June 20, J. D. Holmes and company settle on the Nennescah, in what is now London Township. On June 21, J. J. and J. L. Ferguson and J. O. West settled in what is now Belle Plain Township.
On July 5, A. D. Clewell, his wife and six children; G. C. Walton and his wife Sarah, with J. F., L. A., H. J., T. N., W. J., E. D., S. A., J. A., and M. E. Walton, T. L. Cambridge, wife and seven children; J. B. Leforce, Sr., wife and six children, J. B. Leforce and wife, and William Leforce with his wife and one child, settled in the county. On July 9, Thomas W. Boyle (colored) and his wife and three children, settled on the southeast quarter of Section 4, Town 30, Range 1 west. On July 15, W. G. Foraker and Nelson Holmes settled on Slate Creek, just south of where Wellington now stands. Three days later, Thomas W. Woodward, Thomas Fuller and James Sullivan made a settlement. From this time on the settlement on Slate Creek and in the neighborhood of Wellington went on rapidly. July 26, John F. Denogan settled on Slate Creek, where he still resides, and opened a trading post for traffic with the Indians. The same day, Capt. A. B. Barnes, U. S. Marshal; Charles Russell, Harry Holcroft and Ed. Wiggins, made a settlement on Slate Creek. July 29, T. V. and John S. McMahon and Robert Symington, located one mile southwest of Wellington. During September, Albert and George Brown, John and Simon Botkin, John P. McCulloch, John Burnett and wife, and Mrs. Millie Wallace (an old lady of eighty-six) took claims near the Slate Creek settlement. On September 15, of this month, the Ninnescah Town Company was organized by R. Freeman, Lafayette Goodrich, Dr. Womsley, and eleven others, and the town laid out on the county line on Section 24, Town 31, Range 2, east. For a time the settlement grew rapidly, but soon disagreements sprang up, and the company broke up, part going to found New Ninnescah, now known as Bushnell, and the others to every point of the compass. A farm house now represents the town. A. B. and A. E. Mahew, Thomas, J. L. and W. B. McCammon, Samuel and Luther Spencer, William Meek, wife and four children effected settlement. On October 15, John E. Reid took the first claim near the present site of Caldwell. George Pittman, George A. Jewitt, John Carpenter, H. H. and D. H. Coulter, with their families, all came in November of this year. Charles A. Phillips and John J. Abeel, came December 26, and on the last day of 1870, J. A. Moovill and Perry Binkley located at the present site of Oxford. This closed the individual settlement of the year, and the influx of 1871 was so great that separate record is impossible. January 1, 1871, Belle Plaine was located upon Section 35, Town 30, Range 1, east by George A. and James L. Hamilton, J. L. Kellogg, W. P. Hackney, E. M. Miller and J. C. Thurman. On February 1, Rev. W. Perkins preached the first sermon in the county in Binkley's dug-out at Big Cottonwood crossing (Oxford). February 14, the Secretary of the State decided that Sections 16 and 36 in each town, commonly called 'School Sections,' located on the Indian trust lands, and the Diminished Osage Reserve, were the property of the State. February 25, a ferry across the Arkansas opposite Belle Plaine was put in operations by David Richards. This was the first ferry in the county. The first store in the county was opened at Belle Plaine by Jas. L. Hamilton on the 25th, and the same day the Napawalla Town Company, which laid out the town of Napawalla where Oxford now stands, was formed. This company consisted of A. Morrill, President; C. P. Binkley, Secretary, and L. and J. Binkley, J. A. and J. M. Corbin. On the 28th, Dr. P. A. Wood and Dr. C. R. Godfrey arrived, the former being the first resident physician to practice in the county. On March 6, the Oxford Town and Immigration Company was formed as Oswego, Kas. (sic), and at once set out for Napawalla. This company consisted of T. E. Clark, J. H. Folks, O. E. Kimball, Dr. J. W. Weir, L. J. Goddard, Dr. F. Nixon, Charles Tilton, R. W. Stevenson, A. Graff, A. J. Bower, A. L. Austin, and D. P. Lowe. Arriving at the Arkansas on the 26th, they crossed over, and at once brought the old town of Napawalla, at that time consisting of a single dug-out. On the 31st of March the Town Company ordered a printing press. The following month many events of great importance to both Wellington and Oxford took place, but these will be more appropriately narrated in the individual history of the two places. The first recorded murder in the county took place at Caldwell, July 3, George Peay being shot by O. Bannon. This was also the first death in the county. On July 4, came the first general celebration of the National holiday, speech-making and other festivities were indulged in at Belle Plaine, Sumner City and Wellington, the latter being also marked by a flag-raising and a dinner, in which roast buffalo figured conspicuously. Oxford Bufit, the first white child born in Sumner County, say the light on July 20. August 8th, a company was formed to build a bridge across the Arkansas, a much needed article as the fords were treacherous. September 1, there was a meeting of old soldiers at Wellington. The first marriage license was issued November 17, to George W. Clark and Mary C. Wright, and the ceremony performed the next day by Rev. J. C. Ferguson. With the close of 1871, may be said to close the record of early settlement in the county, the events of later days being worthy of another designation.
The first railway to penetrate the county, was the Cowley, Sumner & Fort Smith, an extension of the Wichita branch of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Road. The bond proposition, submitted called for an issue of not to exceed $4,000 per mile, or $180,000 all told, and the construction of not more than forty- five miles of main track in the county. It was also stipulated that the road would be completed in Wellington by September 30, 1879, and to Caldwell by December 31, 1881. The election took place December 31, 1878, and the bonds were carried by a vote of 1706 to 1041. The road was completed to Caldwell on May 31, 1880.
At a special election held July 1, 1879, the Southern Kansas & Western Railway received aid to the amount of $18,000 from Oxford, $20,000 from Wellington, and $16,000 from Dixon Township. The proposition to issue bonds was defeated in Avon and Osborn townships.
On March 6, 1880, this road (a branch of the L. L. & G.) was completed to Oxford, and on the 27th of the same month to Wellington. On the 28th the first passenger train was run. June 8, 1880, the bonds of Oxford and Wellington townships were issued, but those of Dixon were withheld, and July 2, an injunction issued to restrain their delivery to the railway company.
On May 11, South Haven Township petitioned for a special election on the subject of aiding the Sumner County Railway, which now runs south from Wellington to Hunnewell. The election took place in due time and South Haven secured the bonds by a vote of 144 to 43. Wellington City also took $10,000 in bonds. An election was also held in Guelph Township, but resulted in the defeat of the proposition. The road was at once built, and is now in successful operation by the K. C., L. & S. K. railway.
On September 6, 1882, the Wichita and Southwestern, the Harvey County and the Cowley, Sumner & Fort Smith roads were consolidated, and H. C. St. Clair and J. H. Folks elected directors. This was practically no change of ownership, the roads all being parts of the A., T. & S. F. system.
On July 2, 1877, the Solomon, Arkansas Valley & Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway, was, by a vote of 833 to 626, given aid to the amount of not more than $4,000 per mile in bonds. The second of these propositions was made by the Kansas City, Burlington & Southwestern Railway and telegraph line. This provided for the issuance of bonds to the amount of not more than $4,000 per mile, or a total of $170,000. The election took place December 3, 1878, and resulted in the defeat of the proposition, by a vote of 929 to 1,761.
A petition signed by forty-seven voters of Ryan Township, dated April 1, 1882, was filed with the County Clerk, asking the county commissioners to call a special election in that township to vote $18,000 to the St. Louis, Anthony & Salt Plains Railroad. A similar petition was signed by thirty-seven voters of Illinois Township to vote $18,000 bonds to the same railroad. No action has ever been taken on these petitions, at the request of the railroad authorities.
The story of Slade and his various murders has become so widely known through the medium of the world- read 'Roughing It,' that the part of civilization which has never come west of the Mississippi has formed the idea that the man who keeps his private graveyard is an inhabitant of Colorado, or some indefinite point known as 'out West.' The southern line of Kansas has, however, seen probably as many bloody tragedies as any other borderland. A fair sample of the many wanton murders, which the nearness of the Indian Territory seemed to render safe for the murderer, was that which ended the career of the famous McCarty. The story runs as follows: On April 1, 1872, McCarty, who had some trouble with a ranchman named Eugene Fielder, went to John Reid's ranche (sic), where Fielder was staying, and attempted to gain admittance. Being refused, he forced an entrance. Fielder, who was lying across the foot of the bed, firing as McCarty reached the doorway. McCarty returned the fire killing Fielder. He then ran out on the prairie under fire from all the occupants of the ranche (sic). Fielder had friends in the county, and it is probable that McCarty would have been the subject of their attentions 'ere long, but his ambition to be known as 'a bad man' led him into a second murder before there had been an opportunity to avenge the first. On April 9, eight days after the murder of Fielder, McCarty entered J. M. Thompson's store and found there Dr. Anderson, 'the man with the plug hat.' Anderson had belonged to the vigilantes of Butler County, and it is probable that McCarty had cause to remember him. However that might be, he at once pulled his revolver with the remark "that he could put a hole through that hat. This was done in a semi-jocose way, and the bystanders, beyond making him put up his 'gun,' paid little attention to the act. A few minutes later, however, when Anderson's attention was called to something in the back part of the store, McCarty fired, the bullet striking Anderson just back of the ear and causing almost instant death. McCarty fled to the ranch of Curley Marshall, a short distance from the scene of the shooting. That night Doc. Rornbacker and a posse of vigilantes went to Marshall's ranch and demanded McCarty's surrender. This being refused the ranche (sic) was oiled and fired, the vigilantes shooting at all who escaped from the burning building. In the affray several ranchmen were wounded, but McCarty effected his escape to the Indian Territory. The next day 'Boosey' Nickleson appeared in the settlement for supplies, and after being intimidated into admitting that they were for McCarty, was compelled to lead the way to his hiding place. Just at day break on the morning of April 11, the party found their man on the bare prairie - and left him there. On April 14, Fox, Webb and Robinson went out and buried the body.
COUNTY ORGANIZATION, ETC.
The county was organized February 7, 1871, and the document creating it is now spread upon the record of the County Commissioners. It bears the signatures of Gov. James M. Harvey, and W. H. Smallwood, Secretary of state, appoints Wm. J. Uhler, John J. Albert and John S. McMahon, County Commissioners and designated Meridian as the temporary seat of justice.
A word of explanation as to how a spot of bare prairie should be named the count-seat is in place. In the fall of 1870, Sumner City, a few miles from Wellington, had been laid out and preparations were making for presentation of its claims to county-seat honors to the Governor. This movement certain parties determined to frustrate, and on December 26, 1870, Chas. A. Phillips, J. J. Albert, Wm. J. Uhler, and E. H. Nugent, all of Wichita, camped four mile southeast of Wellington. Here they met Col. A. J. Angell, with a surveying party, running section lines. Overtures were made to Angell, and accepted, and on January 15, 1871, Meridian was located on Section 32, Township 32, Range 1 east. A bogus census was made by John C. Nugent, and showed the county to have 651 inhabitants. Armed with this document, Angell started for the capital, where he arrived on February 7th. J. M. Steele was already in the city, in the interest of Sumner City, but Angell secured an interview with Gov. Harvey, and before Steele knew of his presence, had secured the appointment of Meridian.
The first record of the County Commissioners is dated "June 4, 1871, on southeast quarter of Section 32, Township 32, Range 1 east," and orders that as the county had failed to erect any buildings at the point designated as the temporary county seat and as Jackson M. Lemmond had taken this quarter section as his claim, Wellington should be the place of transacting county business until the county seat question had been settled by ballot. The Commissioners at this time wished to complete the organization of the county, but as County Clerk, Charles A. Phillips, and Commissioner, had forfeited citizenship by taking claims in Sedgwick County, their places were declared vacant, and the two remaining Commissioners proceeded to appoint Clark R. Godfrey, Special County Clerk, and David Richardson, Special County Commissioner. They then adjourned to meet at Wellington. Their second meeting was held August 10, 1871, and the first question raised was the licensing of gram shops. It was decided to issue licenses at $20 per month. On August 23, 1871, the county was divided into three County Commissioners Precincts, the voting place in No. One being at Belle Plaine; in No. Two, at the house of Henry Brown, and Shell Creek, and in No. Three, at the house of Colson & Ryland, on Showcaspah River. A special election of county officers was ordered for September 26.
C. A. Phillips was appointed County Clerk on February 7, 1871, but failed to act, and soon became a non- resident. On June 4, the office was declared vacant by the County Commissioners, and Clark R. Godfrey appointed. At the regular election of November, 1871, C. S. Brodbent was elected, and continued to serve until April 24, 1875, when he resigned, and Stacy B. Douglass was appointed to fill the unexpired term. Mr. Douglass was elected at the next regular election, and in 1877-'79-'81, and is now in office. At the special election of September 26, 1871, W. A. Thompson was elected Clerk of the District Court, and November 7, 1871, re-elected. L. K. Myers was elected in 1872-'74; J. H. Dougherty, 1875; Charles W. Morse 11878-'80; P. V. C. Pool 1882. The first County Attorney was George N. Godfrey, elected September 26, 1871. November of the same year, Reuben Riggs captured the office. C. Willsie was elected in 1872, J. Wade McDonald in 1874, but left the county June 1, 1876, and L. F. Blodgett was appointed to fill the unexpired term. John G. Tucker was elected in November, 1876, but died in office, and L. F. Blodgett was again appointed, on June 19, 1877. D. N. Caldwell was elected in 1878, Charles Willsie 1878-'80, and J. T. Herrick 1882.
The County Superintendents of Public Instruction have been: A. M. Colson, elected September 26, 1871; T. H. Mason, November 1871-'72; S. B. Fleming, 1874 (resigned March 5, 1875 and J. P. Jones appointed); J. P. Jones, 1876; John D. Beck, 1878; J. V. Ratliff, 1878-'80-'82. Probate Judges have been: George M. Miller, 1871; J. W. McDonald, 1872; J. T. Herrick, 1874; E. Evans, 1876-'78-'80; I. N. King, 1882. Sheriffs have been: J. J. Ferguson, elected September 26, 1871; G. A. Hamilton, November 1871; John G. Davis, 1872-'73 (resigned in the spring of 1875, and Joe M. Thralls appointed April 19, but the commissioners refusing his bond, J. K. Hastie was appointed May 15); James E. Reed, 1875; L. K. Myers, 1877; J. M. Thralls, 1879-'81. The first Register of Deeds was J. Romine, elected September 26, 1871. He was followed by William Nixon, 1871-'73; John T. Showalter, 1875; J. T. Hickman, 1877; T. A. Hubbard, 1879-'81. R. Freeman was elected County Treasurer, September 26, 1871, and J. L. Kellogg in November following, and re-elected in 1873. A. B. Mayhew filled the office from 1875 to 1879, when M. B. Keagy, the present incumbent was elected.
The members of the Lower House from this county have been: W. P. Hackney, 1871; George M. Miller, 1872; W. P. Hackney, 1873; William Carter, 1874; T. A. Hubbard, 1875-'76; C. R. Godfrey 1877-'78-'79; A. B. Mayhew, 1880; W. J. Lingenfelter, 1882.
The first county-seat election took place on September 26, 1871, and gave Belle Plaine 384, Wellington 221, Oxford 119, Sumner City 79, and Meridian 2. This left the question still open. A second election was ordered for November 10, following. This election resulted in the polling of 420 votes for Belle Plaine, 285 for Wellington, 129 for Oxford, 111 for Sumner City, and 2 for Meridian. As there secured to be no prospect of a speedy choice, and as Meridian was sill bare prairie, the County Commissioners, on December 21, 1871, ordered that hereafter county business must be done at Wellington, and that town should be the temporary count-seat.
Another election was called for January 29, 1872, and on February 3, the Commissioners, in obedience to a mandamus issued by Judge H. G. Webb, met at Meridian to canvass the vote. Objection was made to R. W. Stevenson acting as Commissioner, and during the argument that ensued, Commissioner A. D. Rosencrans resigned. The Board then adjourned and the vote was never canvassed.
March 26, 1872, came the third effort to locate the seat of justice and Wellington, though not receiving enough votes to secure the prize, was evidently in a fair way to get it. The vote stood: Wellington, 398; Oxford, 297; Belle Plaine, 282; Caldwell 2. A final election between the two points receiving the highest number of votes, took place April 9, 1872, and resulted in favor of Wellington, by a score of 571 to 426. On January 21, 1873, a petition signed by L. W. Clark, and 656 others, for the re-location of the count-seat was presented. This was accompanied by a counter petition from Dr. P. A. Wood and 785 others, who held that the original organization of the county and location of the count seat was legal and valid. This petition after due consideration was refused on the ground that it was not signed by three fifths of the legal voters of the county. Since this time no further effort has been made to wrest the county seat from Wellington.
The first county court house was a small frame building, built to stand upon the famous Meridian townsite. When the commissioners decided to transact business at Wellington, this structure was secured and occupied until the completion of the present county court house in 1874.
The present county court house was built by Wellington Township at a cost of $5,000. It was completed on August 20, 1874, and at once occupied by the county officers, the township having leased it to the county for ten years, in consideration of its being furnished by the latter. This building is much to small for the needs of the county, having but three offices on the first floor and one on the second, and another year will probably see the commencement of a more suitable building.
On August 8, 1882, was issued an order for an election to be held November 7, to decide upon the question of making during the years 1883 and 1884, a tax of five mills for court house and three mills for bridge purpose. This was carried by a majority of 1,001 votes. The present total taxable valuation in round numbers, $4,000,000 and this tax will give a fund of not far from $50,000 to be expended for court house purposes. Such a sum should insure one of the finest building of the sort in the southern part of the State.
The contract for constructing a brick county jail 22x32 feet, and of one-story in height, was let, on November 16, 1878, to P. J. Pauly & Bro., of St. Louis, for $5,000. Work was begun at once, and the jail was completed in the spring of 1879.