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


[TOC] [part 11] [part 9] [Cutler's History]


Belle Plaine is a thriving town of 500 inhabitants, located on the Southern Central & Fort Scott Railway, ten miles Northeast of Wellington, and six miles southwest of Mulvane. It was laid out in March, 1871, by a Town company, consisting of W. P. Hackney, G. A. and J. L. Hamilton, J. C. Thurman, J. M. Lewis, W. E. Chamberlin, J. L. Kellogg and E. M. Miller. The first building erected was a frame, 12x16 feet, occupied by J. C. Thurman and now by George Tillotson. Soon after the store of J. L. Hamilton, a frame 16x20, was dut (sic) up. The first drug store was opened by D. Lockerby; the first hardware by W. H. Hitchcock, and the first hotel by William Barton. This is part of the Building now in use, and though comparatively small, is one of the best kept hotels on the road. The first physician was Dr. James Yelfer; the first attorney, W. P. Hackney, now Representative from Cowley County.

Belle Plaine postoffice was established in 1871, and G. A. Hamilton appointed Postmaster. After several years of service, Mr. Hamilton retired and Thomas Donohue took the office, which he held until the appointment of J. J. Burns, September 11, 1880. The first money order issued from this office bears date July 7, 1874, and conveyed $10 from G. W. Boner to Auld A. Baker & Co., of Emporia. The present Postmaster has made several improvements in the office, and is now building an iron, fire-proof structure to be occupied bye the postoffice and the News. This will be the most complete office, in a town of the size, in southern Kansas.

In 1871-72, a subscription school was taught in Belle Plaine by Miss Olive M. North. In 1873, this school district (No. 2) was formed, and school exercises conducted by James Mason in the second story of the building now occupied by S. M. McHarg. Thomas H. Mason taught the following year, uniting with his work at this point, the duties of County Superintendent. I. T. Confar taught in 1875 and 1876; Thomas O'Mealy in 1877 and 1878; J. A. Smith in 1879 and 1880, and S. S. Moultz in 1881 and 1882. The school now has an enrollment of 168. A good building was erected in 1876, at a cost of $1,200. Prior to the building of this house, an old saloon purchased in 1872, had supplied the lack of a more fitting structure.


The Sumner County Herald appeared on August 6, 1871, as a seven-column folio, under the management of William Nixon. Six months later Nixon sold out to A. H. Smith, who ran it a few weeks, and discontinued it. It was resurrected in April, 1872, by U. A. and L. C. Albin, but finally died in August, 1872.

The Belle Plaine Democrat hoisted the Bourbon banner, on February 21, 1873, under the editorial quill of J. Wade McDonald, and with E. F. Widner, as publisher. In July of the same year, J. W. Forney became editor and T. B. Peddecock, publisher, and September 18, 1874, the management ceased to follow what had shown itself to be a blind lead, and "pinched out on them."

The National Greenback Monitor - A four column quarto, of excellent appearance, was published by Jennings & Huff, for seven weeks, from September 19, 1878, when it was removed to Wichita.

The Belle Plaine News was started as the Home News, on December 6, 1879, by J. J. Burns, its present editor and proprietor. After three months, the "Home" was dropped from the title. Its first appearance was as a sixteen page, three column sheet. This form was changed March 13, 1880, to a five-column quarto, and just three years later, to an eight column folio. At the latter date, steam-power and a Campbell cylinder press were put in. The paper now has a circulation of 500; is independent in politics, and appears Saturdays. It will occupy the iron postoffice building, 20x40, now building.

Kansas Odd Fellow - This publication, the only one of the sort in the State, and the official organ of the order, was started May 1, 1882, by J. J. Burns, who still owns it. It was a four-column quarto up to March 1, 1883, when it was changed to a five-column sheet. It is published on the first and fifteenth of each months, and has a circulation of 1,000.

Belle Plaine Lodge, No. 173, A., F. & A. M., was organized in the spring of 1877, with a membership of twenty-one, and the following officers: G. A. Hamilton, W. M.; S. Curcell, S. W.; A. D. Willey, J. W.; J. Wright, secretary; D. Cooper, treasurer. The lodge now numbers forty-six members, and has the following officers: E. D. Willey, W. M.; J. W. Forney, S. W.; S. Purcell, J. W.; G. F. Butler, secretary; G. M. Epperson, treasurer. Meetings are held on Saturday, on or before full moon, and each two weeks thereafter. The society own their hall, 22x44 feet, on Fourth avenue and Merchant street, and have invested in it and other appurtenances, two thousand dollars.

Belle Plaine, Lodge, No. 83. A. O. U. W., was organized in the fall of 1881, with a membership of seventeen, and the following officers: E. R. Storer, P. M. W.; Thomas Donohue, M. W.; William Froment, F.; J. Gilchrist, O.; A. R. Parker, recorder; J. D. Justice, financier; E. M. Miller, receiver. The order now has a membership of twenty-seven, and the following officers: Thomas Donohue, P. M. W.; A. R. Parker, M. W.; L. M. St. Clair, F.; W. L. Mason, O.; E. M. Miller, recorder; G. F. Butter, financier; J. T. Justice, receiver. Meetings are held in Masonic Hall on the first and third Monday of each month.

Belle Plaine Lodge, No. 198, I. O. O. W., was instituted February 21, 1882, with sixteen charter members and thirty-four initiates. Its charter officers were: A. D. Clewell, N. G.; J. H. Hall, V. G.; G. G. Burns, R. S.; J. E. Cain, P. S.; W. G. Lewis, treasurer. The lodge now has a membership of fifty-eight, and the following officers: J. J. Burns, N. G.; W. G. Lewis, V. G.; J. C. Plymell, R. S.; S. S. Mountzm, P. S.; Thomas Donohue, treasurer. Meetings are held on Tuesday of each week in Masonic Hall. The property of the lodge consists of regalia and furniture to the value of $300, and $250 in cash in the treasury.

The Methodist Church, was organized May 21, 1871, by Rev. P. T. Rhoades, with a membership of ten. Rev. Zeil rs (sic), the first pastor, was followed by A. Avery, B. C. Swartz, King, I. N. Boycourt, S. Spurlock, D. Cameron, J. W. Cain and H. Waitt, the present pastor. A church building was erected in the fall of 1876, at the cost of $2,000. The church membership is now seventy. A Sabbath school was started April 1, 1876, and now has an average attendance of 88. It is in charge of G. E. Meeker.

The Christian Church was organized on February 10, 1876. No pastor was, however, resident on the work until some years later, when Rev. J. E. Cain, the present incumbent was appointed. The church worshipped in the schoolhouse until 1880, when a separate edifice was erected. This is of wood and cost $1,600. The society now numbers considerably over 100 members, and has a fine Sabbath school of over seventy, in charge of D. F. Shaffer.

The Presbyterian Church was organized in 1877, by Rev. A. M. Mann, who remained its pastor until 1880, when the present incumbent Rev. M. L. Wood, took charge. A church edifice was erected the year of organization at a cost of $1,500. The church now has a membership of seventy. A Sabbath school started at the same time as the church, has an average attendance of forty-seven, and is in charge of E. M. Miller.

Banking - On November 11, 1881, the private banking firm of Gossard Bros. & Donohue was established in Belle Plaine. This firm continued business until October 11, 1882, when the Gossard interest was sold, and the firm became Mayhew & Donohue, the style still retained.


JOHN ALTER, farmer and stock grower, Section 30, P. O. Belle Plaine, was born in Pennsylvania in 1843, where he was reared on his father's farm and educated in the common schools. On the breaking out of the war, he enlisted in the One Hundred and First Pennsylvania Regiment, Company B. While in the army he received a bad hurt in the small of his back, also had typhoid fever, which caused his confinement in the hospital for a long time. On being mustered out of the army in 1865, he returned to his home, where he lived until 1871, when he went to Belle Plaine, Sumner Co., Kan., where he pre-empted 160 acres of land on Section 30. He subsequently added by purchase 160 acres more, making 320 acres, all of which he has brought up to a high state of cultivation. His place is fenced all around principally with hedge. He has 300 apple, 400 peach trees and small fruits in abundance and any variety. His crops for 1882 were 3,500 bushels of corn and 3,500 bushels of wheat, and sold $400 worth of hogs. He also has on hand 300 hogs and 47 fat cattle. Mr. Alter has been school director of his township for a number of years, and is a member of he A. O. U. W. He was married to Miss Mary E. Mentezer, of Cumberland County, Pa., in 1862, and has four children, William M., Charles N., Dale M and Mary E. Mr. and Mrs. Alter are members of the Presbyterian Church. Twelve years ago when Mr. Alter arrived in Belle Plaine he had but $24 in money and his team.

D. H. ANDERSON, farmer and sorghum syrup manufacturer, Section 31, P. O. Belle Plaine, was born in Genesee County, N. Y., in 1830. He worked on his father's farm, and attended the district schools and took one term in the Academy. At the age of twenty-fours years he went to Van Buren County, Mich., where he engaged in farming and lumbering quite extensively, making the lumber business a specialty, in which he was very successful. In 1879, he moved to Sedgwick County, Kan., and in 1880, moved to Belle Plaine, Sumner County, where he bought 160 acres of land on Section 31, the most of which he has improved. He has five acres of natural growth of trees and 5,000 forest trees which he set out, mostly poplar. He also has 250 fruit trees and a quantity of small fruits. His crop of 1882 was 2,500 bushels corn, $300 worth of hogs and 3,500 gallons of sorghum syrup, 3,000 gallons of which was of his own production. While living in Michigan, he was supervisor of his township six or seven years. His wife was Miss Sarah E. Sickles, of Three Rivers, Mich. Mr. Anderson is a gentleman of intelligence, and possessed of progressive ideas and a public spirit, and is a benefactor of his race.

MRS. CLARA GIST BROWN, land owner, was born in West Virginia, Brook County, in 1838. Her mother dying when she was but eight years old, she made made (sic) her home in her uncle's family a part of the time, and a part of the time with her father, who was a merchant at Baltimore, Md. Her educational advantages were of the very best. In 1861, she was married to Mr. L. H. Brown, when, with her husband, she went to Washington County, Iowa, where she lived till 1871, when she moved to Belle Plaine, Kas. (sic), where she now resides, and owns 234 acres of splendid land, also 160 acres in Iowa. Also owns residence property in Belle Plaine, on which she has about fifty fruit trees, and on her farm 200 fruit trees. She is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and is the leader of the choir. She has two children, Josephine and Robert. Josephine is the wife of W. C. Campbell, a dry goods merchant of Wellington, Sumner County.

G. F. BUTLER, of Justice & Butler, druggists, was born in Moravia, N. Y., in 1856, where he lived until seventeen years of age, when he went to Pittsfield, Mass., where he remained eight years. He was reared a druggist, and besides receiving a business education graduated from the High School, and the Chicago School of pharmacy, from which he received his degrees in 1882. From Pittsfield, Mass., he went west to Kansas, and from there to Denver, Co., remaining one year, during which time he held a position as chemist in the manufacturing department of a wholesales drug house. From Denver he returned to Kansas, locating in Belle Plaine, where he bought a half interest in the drug store of Dr. Justice. He also owns residence property in Belle Plaine, lots in Humboldt, and a 160 acre farm in Pawnee County, Kas. (sic), partly improved. At the age of sixteen, his father having lost his property, he was thrown upon his own resources, and was compelled to enter the great fight for subsistence. He is a member of the Masonic order, of which he is secretary, also of the A. O. U. W., of which he is financier. Mr. Butler's father's family were Quakers, and his mother was a lineal descendent of Samuel Chase, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Butler was married to Miss Nannie B. Porter, daughter of Judge Porter, of Monmouth, Ill., March 21, 1882. Mrs. Butler is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and of the Ladies Foreign Missionary Society, and of the I. C.

ELDER JOSEPH E. CAIN, pastor of the Christian Church, was born in Durham County, in the Dominion of Canada, in 1846, where he lived until fourteen years of age, when he removed with his parents to Menard County, Ill. Owing to untoward circumstances, his educational advantages were very limited. In fact, he never attended school but one month after his fourteenth year, hence was compelled to educate himself in the best way possible. Remaining in Menard County but a few years, he removed to Girard, Macoupin County, where, in his nineteenth year, he united with the church. At the age of twenty, he began preaching the Gospel, working as an evangelist, in which work he continued five years, with the exception of the eighteen months, when he was located at Old Union, De Witt Co., Ill. In 1871, he located at Mount Pulaski, Logan Co., Ill., and preached at Copeland and Lake Fork, alternately, for five years. In 1876, he removed to Kansas, locating in Belle Plaine Township, Sumner County, where he bought 160 acres of land in Section 8. After finely improving this land in all respects, including the setting out of 250 apple trees and 900 peach trees of fine quality, and 2,000 forest trees, he sold it, and is now a resident of Bell Plaine, where he owns business and resident property. He was married to Miss Clara A. Erwin, of Menard Co., Ill, in 1867, and has three children - Emma O., John Byron (both living) and Anna L. (deceased). Mrs. Cain and her daughter, Emma O., are also members of the Christian Church. Elder Cain has been diligent in his work, and is noted for his promptness and energy. During the first nine years of his ministerial life, he never missed an appointment, and during his ministration has church of 1,200 members, and has united in the holy bonds of wedlock about seventy-five couple (sic). His parents are both natives of England, and now reside in Belle Plaine Township. His father is a hale, hearty gentleman of about sixty-four years of age, with good prospects of many years of vigor and usefulness, but his mother's health is poor. His parents are both members of the Christian Church. The subject of this biography is the youngest living child. Considering the obstacles that he was compelled to overcome in early life, his attainments are grand, and judging of the future by the past, his career for good and usefulness can hardly be estimated.

THOMAS DONOHUE, banker, was born in Ireland in 1846. In 1847, his parents came to America, settling in Washington County, N. Y., where in 1866, his father died. In 1862, when at the age of sixteen years, August 20, he enlisted in the One Hundred and Twenty-Third Regiment of New York; stayed two weeks at Salem, when, on the 5th of September, 1862, he went with his regiment to Washington, and was in the three days' fight at Chancellorsville, and upwards of two days in the great battle of Gettysburg. His regiment followed up Lee's retreat. In 1863, he spent the summer on the Rappabannock, Va., and was transferred to the army of the Cumberland, and participated in the battles of Resaca, Cassville, Dallas Gap, Lost Mountains, Kenesaw and Peach Tree Creek. During the engagements he was hit seven times, and had his left arm disjointed. His wound was dressed in the field of battle by the Surgeon, when he was transferred to Bragg's Hospital, Chattanooga; thence to Nashville, in the Cumberland Hospital No. 2, and finally to Brown's Contract Hospital, Louisville, Ky., from which he was furloughed, and returned home, where he remained for seven months, at the end of which time he returned to Brown's Contract Hospital, when at the end of fifteen days, he was transferred to the Ira Harris Hospital, where, for two months, he acted as Pass-Clerk, and from which he was discharged, July 12, 1864, returning to his home in Washington County, N. Y.; from here, went to Troy, where he found work at punching horse shoes, and at which he continued for two years, when he went to work in the enameling foundry of A. G. Patten & Co., for a time, quitting which he came to Arkansas Valley, Sumner Co., Kan., in 1871, where he located 160 acres of land, which he, after having proved it up, sold the following year. In the spring of 1872 he was appointed a Justice of Peach to fill and unexpired term, and in the fall, was elected to the same office for two years. In September, 1874, he was appointed Postmaster for Belle Plaine, and the same fall was elected a Justice, the second time, for two years; but finding the duties of the office obstructing to his other business, he resigned at the end of about a year. In the spring he bought a half interest in a drug store, in which he continued nearly four years, and in the spring of 1881, sold out his interest. In the following fall, on the 11th day of November, he resigned his position of Postmaster. At this time, having completed his arrangements, he opened up a bank, under the firm name of Gossard Bros. & Donohue. On the 13th day of October, 1882, Mr. Mayhew bought out the interest of the Gossard brothers, since which time Mr. Donohue has been the manger of the bank, and half owner of the same. On the 21st of October, 1879, Mr. Donohue was married to Mrs. Sarah Hamilton, nee Porter, who had one child - James L. P. Hamilton, and by whom he has had one child - Robb. L. He belongs to the Masons, Odd Fellows, and of A. O. U. W. Mrs. Donohue was at one time a member of the I. C. A. Both are members of the Presbyterian Church. Mrs. Donohue is president of the ladies' Foreign Missionary Society. Mr. Donohue was worshipful master and also master workman of the A. O. U. W. on year, and is now treasurer of the Odd Fellows Lodge, and treasurer of the Bell Plaine Cemetery Association. In early life by the loss of his father, he was thrown upon his own resources, and his present financial and social standing proves that they were adequate to all emergencies.

J. W. FORNEY, was born in Ohio in 1841. He was reared on a farm. He received a collegiate education, gaining the means by teaching in winters. He clerked in the office of the Probate Judge, where he earned the money to pay board while reading law. He served two and a half years in the army, going in as a private soldier. He was promoted to Lieutenant, and then to Captain, but being on detached service, was never mustered as Captain. He moved to Iowa in 1867, and was admitted to the bar in 1870. In the same year he married Miss Sarah E. Ergenbright, of Winterset, Iowa. In June, 1871, he left Iowa, in a "prairie schooner," and located in Bell Plaine on July 7, 1871, where he now resides, and where he has taken an active and prominent part in every important matter affecting his county and State. He is a Republican, a Mason (S. W. of his lodge), and he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. They have five children - May, Nora, John, Lydia, and James Garfield. Capt. L. (sic) was elected by the Sumner County Bar, in 1883, Judge pro tem of District Court. He and his brother, A. G. Forney, have been in full partnership in business since 1867, and they together own 800 acres of Ninnescah Valley land, which they have brought to its present high state of cultivation from the prairie sward.

JOHN GILCHRIST, stockman, P. O. Belle Plaine, was born in Scotland in 1839. He received his education in the district school, and at the age of sixteen was apprenticed to an iron molder. In 1866 he emigrated to Chicago, settling in Belle Plaine Township in 1870, and commenced his present business. He owns a farm of 100 acres, and also, in connection with his partner, a cattle ranch of 1,240 acres, including ranch property, mules, ponies, wagons, etc., 400 acres of which is fenced with barbed wire. The firm are now feeding about 800 head of cattle. Mr. Gilchrist is a Royal Arch Mason and a member of the A. O. U. W. He was married in 1863, to Miss Harriet Robertson, of Scotland. Mr. G. is a pleasant, genial gentleman, and one of the largest dealers in this part of the State.

J. D. JUSTICE, physician and druggist, was born in Missouri, September 22, 1853 where he lived until twenty-five years of age. He was brought up on a farm, his early educational advantages being the common schools. At the age of eighteen he commenced devoting his spare moments to the study of medicine, and at the end of a year he entered the office of Dr. W. A. Monroe, of Memphis, Mo., where he continued for two years, in the meantime attending one course of lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, of Keokuk, Iowa; afterward attended a course of lectures at the Missouri Medical College, of St. Louis, from which he graduated March 5, 1878. He then returned to his old preceptor in Memphis, Mo., with whom he was associated physician until the following October, at which time he severed his business connection with his friend and tutor and sought for a home in Kansas, where after stopping various places, he finally located at Belle Plaine, and at once commenced the practice of his profession, and at the expiration of two years he bought the interest in his present drug business, of Mr. Thomas Donohue, his partner being G. F. Butler. Dr. Justice is a young physician of eminence in his section of the State, has a large practice and a wide circle of warm and sincere friends. He is a member of the A. O. U. W. and of the Masonic Fraternity and Odd Fellows. On the 21st of December, 1879, he was united in marriage to Miss Loa Palmer, of Elmira, N. Y., by whom he has one child - Minerva D.

J. M. KIRBY, farmer, Section 6, P. O. Belle Plaine, was born in Ohio, in 1838. When he was ten years of age his parents moved to DeWitt County, Ill. His early occupation was working on his father's farm and obtaining a common school education. In 1858, he went to Osawatomie, Kan., where he spent the greater part of that and the following year. In the latter part of 1859, he went to Pike's Peak, having been moved by the gold excitement; in a short time, however, he returned to Kansas. In 1860, he again went to the supposed El Dorado, when he engaged in prospecting, and made a great deal of money, the greater part of which he subsequently lost in the attempt to develop unproductive mines. In 1870, he settled in Belle Plaine Township, where he entered 160 acres, the whole of which he improved and then sold it. In 1882 he bought 160 acres partly improved in Section 6, his present home. His crop for 1882 was 2,400 bushel of corn, 500 bushels of wheat, 500 bushels of rye and $200 worth of hogs. His place is all fenced, principally with hedge. He is a member of the I. O. O. F. In 1862, he married Miss Rebecca Ann McKinny, of DeWitt County, Ill., by whom he has had six children - Addie L., Mary Ettie, Elnora, Maud, Nellie, George and Thorn; two of whom are dead.

H. W. MAGUIRE, farmer and stock raiser, Section 13, P. O. Mulvane, was born in Ohio, in September, 1850, and spent his early days on his father's farm, and attended the common schools. He was with the Hundred-day men in the One Hundred and Fortieth Ohio National Guards, company K, and mustered out in 1865. He then went to Illinois, where he lived six months. In 1877 he went to Kansas, Butler County, where, for four years, he was quite extensively engaged in the cattle trade. In 1872 he moved to Belle Plaine, where he pre-empted 160 acres of land in Section 13. He has improved all of his land, and has it fenced with hedge; he has 400 peach and apple trees, also eight acres of forest trees, and intends to plant fifteen acres more with mulberry. In 1882 he raised 2,500 bushels of corn, and sold $200 worth of hogs, and he has now on hand seventy head of Poland-China and Berkshire hogs. Mr. Maguire intends to make hogs, cattle and horses a special feature of his business. He has been Road Commissioner and School Director for several years. In 1877 he was married to Miss Clara Shaver of Harvey County Kan., and has two children - Maudie May and Ida Pearl. Mrs. Maguire is a member of the Presbyterian Church.

J. A. MARKLEY, farmer Section 33 P. O. Belle Plaine, was born in Illinois, in 1853, where he was reared on a farm and received the district school education. In the spring of 1876 he left his native State for Kansas locating in Belle Plaine Township, where he bought eighty acres in Section 33, which he has under a good state of cultivation. He has apples, peaches, and about 1,500 forest trees. Mr. C. Markley, the father of Mr. J. A. Markley, was a native of Ohio, and one of the first settlers in Fulton County, Ill. where he owns a fine property and carries on general farming.

L. C. MARKLEY, farmer Section 28 P. O. Belle Plaine, was born in Illinois in 1849, spending his early life on his father's farm and in the common schools. After he was twenty-one years of age, he taught school three terms. In 1873 he went to Kansas, Township of London, where he entered 160 acres which he proved up and after working and renting out the same, in 1882 he sold. In 1875 he located in Belle Plaine Township, where he bought eighty acres in Section 33, living on a part of his father's farm. His eighty acres is well improved, on which he has a quantity of good fruit of various kinds. He is engaged as a general farmer and stockman. Has been a Good Templar and Clerk of School District. Was married to Miss Sallie Aldridge, London Township, Sumner County in 1882.

G. E. MEEKER, farmer and stock raiser Section 29, Township 30, Range 1 east, P. O. Belle Plaine, was born in Vermont in 1849. He was reared in the agricultural business, receiving a common school education and graduated from Eastman's Business College, of Poughkeepsie, N. Y., in 1870. In the spring of 1871, he entered 160 acres of land in Bell Plaine Township, in Section 29 and subsequently added by purchase 240 acres making 400 acres in all, all of which he has brought under a splendid state of cultivation and which he runs as a grain and stock farm, with the intention of making the raising of graded stock a specialty. On his farm he has 200 apple and 225 peach trees of good quality and small fruits in variety. His crop of grain of 1882 was 6,000 bushels of corn and 2,500 bushels of wheat. Mr. Meeker has been a County Commissioner for Sumner County one term; was a Granger and is an Odd Fellow. Was married to Miss Elanora Fletcher of Vermont in 1873, by whom he has four children - Ione, Harry, Carl and Arthur.

[TOC] [part 11] [part 9] [Cutler's History]