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


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


Fredonia, the county seat of Wilson County, is located in Center Township, near Fall River, and upon the line of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway. The first building upon the town site was erected in 1868, on a point now the southwest corner of the square. The builder was Dr. J. J. Barrett, still a resident of Fredonia, who procured his materials from the mill of Jackson & Hickox, on Fall River, above New Albany. Upon the completion of the building, Albert Troxel opened a store in it. In April, a number of settlers got together on Fall River and organized the Fredonia Town Company, with the following officers: Justus Fellows, President; J. J. Barrett, Secretary. The other members of the company were W. H. Williamson, J. H. Broadwell, Elisha Hadden, G. F. Jackson, John T. Heath, W. T. Barrett, John E. King, Albert Troxel and D. P. Nichols. That summer the town was laid out by the County Surveyor, Charles H. Mariner, and the land entered on September 16, at the land office at Humboldt, by C. S. McCoon, acting for the Town Company.

The second building on the town site was a box court house, 16x24 feet, built by Samuel Hill; the third, a hotel, built by C. S. McCoon. In the summer of 1868, Albert Troxel retired from store-keeping, and Charles H. Mariner purchased a stock of goods, and June 1, took his place in business which he still holds. About this time Jno. H. McMahon undertook to strangle the new town by setting up a town of his own just northwest of Fredonia. Here he built a court house, and here through his persuasions the County Commissioners met on July 6 and 7, and August 3 and 4. Twin Mound was the title selected by McMahon for his future county seat, and he sent in a petition for a postoffice of that name. This request was refused, there being already a "Twin Mounds" in the State. Learning of this, the town company, at the suggestion of Jno. T. Heath, christened their new town Fredonia, in honor of Fredonia, New York, and sent in a petition for a postoffice, which was granted, and J. J. Stoffle commissioned as Postmaster. The growth of the new town was not rapid for sometime, the first year showing a total of five buildings, which number had increased to sixteen in 1869. With the settlement of the county seat question came a rush to Fredonia, and on November, 1870, there were 153 completed buildings on the town site, and twelve others in construction. In this year, what now forms the south part of the court house, was built by the town and donated to the county. In June the first natural addition to the population occurred, and the Town Company at once donated a town lot to the new comer, a daughter of A. J. Miller. In 1871 the town was incorporated as a city.

The city organized under the laws providing for cities of the third class. A meeting of the council took place on May 5, 1871, and an organization was effected, the minutes showing the swearing in of J. L. Russell as City Clerk, by the Police Judge. A second meeting was held at the office of J. H. McMahon, on May 8, 1871, but no business was done. On this later record appears the signature of T. J. Hudson, Mayor. Mayor Hudson held office a second term, being elected in 1873, and resigning October 6, 1874. Mayors since his time have been: Wm. Stivers (appointed), 1874; R. M. Foster, 1875; Wm. Stivers 1876; T. J. Hudson, 1877, B. M. Short, 1878-79; E. E. Root, 1880; Isaac Hudson, 1881-82. J. L. Russell remained City Clerk until the resignation of Mayor Hudson, when Jno. S. Gilmore served a short time, and was followed by P. W. Bahl, who held the office until 1877. Since that date the following have held this position : H. A. Jenner, 1877-78; P. W. Bahl, 1879-80; Charles King, 1881; W. D. Christman, 1882.

The Twin Mounds. -- The traveler rolling smoothly along the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway between New Albany and Fredonia is struck by the sudden appearance of a great hillock, or mound, rising to the west of the track. Along its sides curve grassy slopes, becoming gradually steeper until they reach the rocky plateau at the summit. As the angle of vision changes, the rocky crown assumes strange and fantastic shapes, first a giant profile and then the whole forward half of some giant ocean steamer protruding by the brief cliffs. A curve of the road and the mound disappears and the eye rests upon the second and larger of the twins, and beneath it, crowding up its very slope the busy streets of the county seat. Taking a well worn path, the traveler reaches the summit, and turns to see unrolled before him one of the finest sights of this new world. Southward run the somber timber lines which mark the course of Fall River. Westward lies the second mound, and between the fertile fields to the far north can be seen the purple fringe of the Verdigris, the cattle-dotted plain looking from this height like a vast floor, and beneath his feet the city. As he gazes he can almost see that for off time when glacial rivers with their resistless force cut down the higher levels, and left no feature to record their course save the rock-bound pinnacles which standing here through the ages have seen desolation yield to Indian occupation and that to the golden corn fields of the pioneer. And when in the great future of the matchless State, farm shall be added to farm, and town to town, and the great cities of the future shall have come, the mounds shall still stand and still keep silent watch over the noble landscape forever beneath their feet.

A postoffice was granted Fredonia and J. J. Stoffle appointed Postmaster on August 15, 1868. The postoffice was in a frame building on the southeast corner of the square. Here Melvin Mickle, who followed Stoffle, held his office. W. L. Martin and Alexander Hunt succeeded Mickle. During their terms the postoffice was moved to the middle of the block on the south side, thence to the west side and finally to its present location on the south side. John S. Gilmore, who followed Hunt, is the present Postmaster.


School District No. 40, which embraces Fredonia's school, was organized on July 10th, 1869. No record of school taught that year has been preserved, the clerk's record simply stating the names of the officers elected. William McMahon, director; A. J. Miller, clerk, and J. H. McMahon, treasurer. In 1870 a three months' school was taught by Miss Ella Longwell, and an attendance of fifty-nine males and fifty females, or 109 in all, is registered. A schoolhouse, 20x30 feet, was erected this year. 1871 showed an attendance of 241 scholars, and the services during the year of W. L. Martin, Miss Ella Longwell, and Miss Julia McClellan. W. L. Martin remained Principal through 1871-72, and was followed in the fall of the latter year by P. W. Bahl, who remained until 1879, when M. L. Moody was engaged. A. M. Whittaker taught in 1880, and was followed, in 1881, by the present principal, James Kennedy.

The school soon outgrew its schoolhouse, and it was decided to issue bonds to the amount of $7,000 for the purpose of erecting a substantial and creditable structure. This was done, and the sum thus secured added to the sum already accumulated as a building fund. The building was completed in 1880 and at once occupied. Its cost was $10,000, and amount very honestly expended, as may be seen by an inspection of the fine brick structure at the foot of East Mound. The district had, by the last census, 382 children between five and twenty-one years; an enrollment of 360, and an average attendance of 220 for the past year. The present corps of teachers is: James M. Kennedy, principal; G. B. McDonald , Mrs. Flora J. Park, Miss Lou Young, and Miss Mary Hunt, assistants. The building has six recitation rooms.

Methodist Church -- Methodism is, from its form of church government, little tied to any one locality, and it seems better to place under the religious history of Fredonia, not only the matters of the Methodist Episcopal history strictly pertaining to the city, but also to a certain extent those of the circuit.

The first services in Fredonia were conducted by Brother Woodward, of the Belmont Circuit. W. F. Travis had charge of the work in 1860-61, and was followed by John Earnheart, in 1862; J. Payne, 1863; C. Meadows, 1864; William Robertson, 1865-66; B. Walker, 1867; A. Long, 1868; J. Edmiston, 1869; J. McCabe, 1869. The Fredonia Mission was formed at the Annual Conference at Topeka, in 1870, and J. H. Ross appointed to the circuit, which, at that time, consisted of Fredonia, New Albany, Union Schoolhouse, Bethel and Guilford. The latter station was soon dropped as there was no place in which to hold services.

Of the points named in the circuit, Bethel was the oldest and contained the first Methodist minister in the county, John Shaffer, and the first class-leader, Winsor Craig. New Albany was the second in point of age, and formed in 1866, the basis of a separate work. Rev. Ross reached Fredonia on April 9th, 1870, and found matters in bad shape, no records having been kept. There had been preaching in Fredonia prior to this time, Rev. M. Hatter having performed service in a wagon shop, in July, 1868. W. F. Travis was to have preached on the afternoon of the same day, but while people and pastor were at dinner, a "Kansas zephyr" blew down the wagon shop. Mr. Ross's first move was to secure a parsonage, which was done by dint of much hard labor. A building site for a church was also secured, and the construction of a church begun. In 1870 an assistant pastor was needed by the church, and Rev. Thomas Elliott was appointed. In 1871, the circuit was divided, and the part retaining the name of Fredonia had but two appointments, New Albany and Fredonia. The membership at this time was 100, of which Fredonia had forty. Rev. William Bristow was appointed to the work in 1872. This year the church building was completed, at a total cost of $3,000; and an extensive revival added forty-seven to the church. Rev. W. S. Stewart was pastor, in 1874-75. D. T. Summerville was pastor in 1876, and, by careful financial management, succeeded in paying off the entire debt of the church, and making extensive repairs. Rev. S. E. Pendleton was appointed in 1877, Rev. M. L. Gates in 1878, and Rev. M. McDermond succeeded him. Rev. D. S. Baldwin, the present pastor, came in 1882. There have been numerous revivals in the church which now numbers over 100.

The First Congregational Church of Fredonia was organized in the spring of 1871, under Rev. George Beckwith; who became its first pastor. The society had, at this time, thirteen members. Soon after the organization of the society a church building of wood, and costing $1,000. was erected. After a pastorate of two years, Mr. Beckwith retired and Rev. C. Richardson was called. On his resignation the line of pastoral succession was filled by Rev. Messrs. Cheesman, Adams, William Radford and O. R. Pryor, who served until 1882. At the present time the society is without a pastor, but this want will be soon supplied. A parsonage, costing $600, was added to the church in 1881. The church books show an enrollment of fifty. A Sunday school was organized in 1873, and had an attendance of forty. It is still in prosperous condition; has an attendance of 100, and is in charge of W. W. Sholes.

The Christian Church, of Fredonia, was organized in 1872, under Rev. Ziba Brown. In the years 1872 and 1873, a neat stone church building was erected near the Public Square. The cost of this structure was $2,000. Upon the retirement of Elder Brown, Rev. Milton Short was placed in charge of the society. To him succeeded Elders S. G. Brown, Gwinn and E. F. Taylor, the last of whom left the church in September, 1882. Arrangements are now being made to fill the vacant pulpit. The church has now forty-five members. A Sabbath school was organized in February, 1881, with about forty scholars. It now has an attendance of sixty-five, and is in charge of J. T. Cox.

Constellation Lodge, No. 95, A., F. & A. M., was organized in 1870. No record of the exact date is now preserved, but the first entries in the ledger were made on September 3rd; which is presumably the time of organization. The present record begins in 1871, with the installation of the following officers: J. R. Willets, W. M.; W. H. Winner, S. W.; W. H. H. McDowell, J. W.; H. A. Jenner, S. D.; L. Q. Hobbs, J. D.; A. Johnson, treasurer; J. L. Russell, secretary. The lodge now has a membership of sixty-one, and the following officers: C. S. Wicks, W. M.; A. W. Cormack, S. W; P. W. Ball, J. W.; C. S. Coleman, treasurer; W. M. Oakford, secretary. Meetings are held on the first and third Wednesday of each month, in the hall over Reeger's drug store. The property of the society consists of regalia to the value of three hundred dollars, and cash in the treasury to the amount of a little more than $100. Efforts are being made to secure the erection of a new hall, exclusively the property of the fraternity.

Kilwinning Chapter, No. 44, R. A. M., was organized on January 22, 1880, with the following officers: Wm. Cogill, H. P.; P. Reeger, K.; J. R. Willets, S.; P. G. Pinney, treasurer; T. F. C. Dodd, secretary. Meetings are held on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, in Masonic Hall. The present officers of the chapter are the same as those given above, with the exception of C. F. Coleman, treasurer, and W. M. Oakford, secretary.

Kilwinning Council, No. 8, M. E. M., was organized on June 8, 1882, with a membership of eighteen, and the following officers: W. Cogill, T. I. M.; I. Hudson, D. M; P. W. Ball, P. C.; C. F. Coleman, treasurer; J. T. Cox, Recorder; J. W. Paulen, steward. The society now has a membership of twenty-nine. Its officers are: W. Cogill, T. I. M.; I. Hudson, D. M.; T. J. Hudson, P. C.; W. M. Oakford, treasurer; J. T. Cox, recorder. Meetings are held on the last Saturday of each month in Masonic Hall.

Fredonia Lodge, No. 75, I. O. O. F., was organized under its present charter, on October 8, 1872. There had been a previous organization; but the charter had been surrendered. The only record of this early lodge, bears date July, 1871, and enumerates the officers as: J. L. Rossell, N. G.; M. M. Murray, V. C.; S. A. Hamburger, secretary; John T. Heath, treasurer. The first officers under the present organization were: H. C. Barrett, N. G.; R. W. Sholes, V. G.; Wm. Bristow, secretary; John Hammert, treasurer. The membership of the lodge has grown slowly but steadily, and now numbers forty-two, Meetings are held on Monday of each week in Odd Fellows Hall. The property of the lodge consists of regalia of considerable value, and $600 in cash in the treasury. Its present officers are: R. W. Sholes, N. G.: T. O. Gould, V. G.; J. T. Cox, secretary; Louis Eppstein, treasurer.

Wilson Encampment, No. 35, I O. O. F., was organized on March 9, 1880. At that date it had eleven members and the following officers; M. W. Murray, C. P.; Samuel Barrett, H. P.; Joseph Throp, S. W.; J. E. Cox, J. W.; Douglas Hite, scribe. At the present time the membership has increased to thirty-six. Meetings are held on the second and fourth Thursday of each month in Odd Fellows Hall. The present officers of the society are: G. W. Hughes, C. P.; G. W., Schlegel, H. P.; R. W. Sholes, S. W.; C. B. Cook, J. W.; T. O. Gould scribe; W. F. Miller, treasurer.

Charity Lodge, No. 1869, K. of H., was organized November 10, 1879, with eleven members. Its first officers were: W. Cogill, D.; O. B. Small, V. D.; J. L. Sexton, A. D.; H. A. Jenner, R.; P. G. Pinney, treasurer. The present officers of the lodge are; O. Lee, D.; J. Wolever, V. D.; Charles Franor, A. D.; R. M. Foster, R.; W. Cogill, T. Meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, in a hall over Butin's drug store. The society now has enrolled, twenty-three members. There has been thus far but one death claim, which was promptly paid.

The Fredonia Building and Loan Association was organized on November 23, 1880. The object of this association, is the loaning of its funds to members desirous of making improvements in the town. Its first officers were: W. M. Oakford, Pres.; A.P. Hamilton, V. P.; W. Cogill, Sec.; I. Hudson, Treas. The board of directors consisted of these officers and J. R. Pound, J. W. Hyler, J. A. Burge, W. B. Hess and J. G. Pinney. The present officers are the same except J. T. Cox, Sec. The present board consist of W. M. Oakford, A. P. Hamilton, J. T. Cox, J. R. Pound, C. B. Brown, George Zuschnitt, O. Lee, M. T. Cantrell and P. G. Pinney. Meetings are held at the office of J. T. Cox, on the first Monday of each month, and the funds sold to the highest bidder. Thus far sixteen loans have been placed with very satisfactory results.

The Equitable Aid Union came into existence on February 17, 1881, with a membership of twenty-six, and the following officers: W. L. Martin, Chan.; A. M. Cormack, Adv.; W. M. Oakford, Pres.; A. J. Jenner, Treas.; M. Whitbeck, Sec.; J. H. Vliet, Act. The union is divided into two classes, and has ninety-six members, of whom forty-five are beneficiaries. Meetings are held in Equitable Aid Union Hall, on Tuesday of each week. This hall contains piano, stage and other accessories, valued at $500. The present officers of the society are: A. N. Perkins, C.; W. M. Oakford, Ad.; S. R. Ferguson, P.; James Wiley, V. P.; Simon Golding. T.; J. T. Cox, S.; M. Whitbeck, accountant.

Fredonia Post, No. 78, G. A. R., was organized on August 14, 1882, with a membership of forty-eight, and the following officers: T. W. Corey, P. C.; H. Cook, S. V. C.; E. E. Root, J. V.; J. T. Cox, Adj.; C. B. Cook, O. D.; W. H. Winner, Q.; M. T. Cantrell, chaplain. The post now has a membership of sixty. Meetings are held on Friday of each week, in Equitable Aid Union Hall.

Twin Mounds Lodge, No. 57, K. of P., was organized September 22, 1882, with a membership of twenty-nine, and the following officers: A. W. Carter, P. C.; C. J. Butin, C. C.; J. C. Tuttle, V. C.; J. H. Vliet, M. E.; A. Burchard, K. R. S.; William B. Hess, M. F.; H. B. Harding, M. A. Meetings are held on Friday of each week in Odd Fellows Hall. The lodge now numbers forty-one members.


The first paper published in Wilson County, emanated from Fredonia on January 20, 1870. It was styled the Wilson County Courier, and was published by John R. Jennings, who committed the new sheet to Republican principles. The material of the Leroy Pioneer, which had also been published by Jennings, was used on the Courier until its demise in December, 1870. The paper started as a six-column, and shortly enlarged to a seven-column folio. It was never a very substantial sheet, coming out as a half-sheet, or missing publication entirely in many instances.

The Fredonia Journal was started January 13, 1871, by W. A. Peffer and George M. Wellman. Its material was the same as that used on its predecessor, the Courier. Starting as a six column folio, of no politics, the paper was enlarged on April 28 to an eight column sheet, and as such it continued until May, 1873, when it was sold to John S. Gilmore, who discontinued it and at once started the Citizen.

The Fredonia Tribune was started as a Democratic seven-column weekly on September 7, 1876. B. F. Bowen was the parent of this hopeful. In January, 1878, it became a Greenback organ, and a few months later Douglas Hite became half owner. During a portion of this year Bowen retired from active work, but returned in time to be in at the death, which occurred in February, 1879.

The Graphic came on the newspaper field on December 18, 1879. It was a seven-column folio, and was edited by C. E. Stivers and James Kennedy. March 25, 1880, it issued its last number, finding no place for a second Republican paper in the county-seat.

Wilson County Citizen. -- The first number of the Citizen was issued at Guilford on April 21, 1870, and was called the Guilford Citizen. It was published by John S. Gilmore, a practical printer, of Emporia, who had just become of age. The type was new, but the press, a large size Washington, had been used thirteen years in printing the Emporia News. This press, behind which the founder of the Citizen took his first lesson in "rolling," was brought to Emporia in 1857 by P. B. Plumb, now United States Senator from this State. The Citizen was a seven column folio of pronounced Republican politics and entirely home printed. Guilford was a mere hamlet of ten or a dozen houses, and the young editor soon decided that its prospects did not assure much of fame or fortune to a newspaper. On October 22, 1870, at Vol. 1, No. 27, the paper contained its own obituary. The printing material was moved to Neodesha, then without a paper and one of the most thrifty and promising towns in southern Kansas (though still in an Indian reserve), and on November 18, 1870, Mr. Gilmore issued the first number of the Wilson County Citizen. Its course at Neodesha is described under the press history of that town. After discontinuing his paper at Neodesha, on November 29, 1872, Mr. Gilmore took a rest of a few month previous to carrying out his theory that the successful paper of a county should be at the county-seat. In May, 1873, he bought the Fredonia Journal of Peffer & Wellman, and in its place, on June 6, 1873, revived his Citizen, starting the new paper at Vol. 3 No. 27, a number attained by adding together the issues of the Citizen at Guilford and Neodesha. Located at the county-seat, the Citizen at once became the official paper of the county, and as such has remained to this day. It grew into a first class country paper, its circulation gradually increased and success attended the labor and perseverance of its industrious and tenacious editor. In September, 1877, the Citizen was enlarged to an eight column folio, and in March, 1882, a cylinder power press was purchased to print its growing edition. It is now one of the best local papers in Kansas, and wields a wide influence. It has done much for the welfare of Fredonia and Wilson County, devoting special attention to every material and moral interest. Mr. Gilmore, who set the first type on the paper has always been the sole owner and manager, and his pride is centered in it as deeply now as in the early years when he was struggling to establish it.

The Fredonia Democrat was started on May 25, 1882, with N. Powell as editor and proprietor. It is an eight column folio of the stalwart Democratic type. T. J. Hudson has recently purchased an interest in the paper and acts as political editor. The circulation of the Democrat is 500. Thursday is publication day.

Wilson County Bank -- The Wilson County Savings Association, under the above title, was chartered on September 9th, as a State bank. For about a year previous it had been in operation as a private banking house. Its directors in 1871 were Joseph P. Hill, Joshua Hill, Milton Short, Alex. Hunt and T. J. Hudson. The first three named being, respectively, president, cashier and secretary. In 1874, Joshua Hill became president, and Isaac Hudson cashier, positions they retain at the present time. John S. Gilmore is secretary. The fine building now occupied by the bank was begun in September, 1879, and completed at a cost of $7,000 on November 29, 1880. It is essentially a Kansas building, the stone coming from this county, as did all the fine black walnut of the interior, and the brick from Fort Scott.

Grain Business -- But little has been done in the shipment of grain from any part of the county. This is not, as might be inferred, from lack of production, but rather from the large home market for all sorts of grains suitable for stock feeding. Hence it is that Fredonia has but one elevator. This is the property of S. A. Brown & Co. It was built in 1880, at a cost of $3,600 and a capacity of 10,000 bushels. Power is furnished by a small portable engine. The amount handled in 1881 was about 130,000 bushels.

Fredonia Band -- The Fredonia Band, comprising almost all the really good performers of the various band organizations of the past thirteen years, was re-organization in August, 1882, with J. A. Burge leader. It has thirteen pieces, and executes all the most recent music of the day in very creditable style. Its members have been selected not only for musical ability, but for permanence of residence, all previous bands having been broken up by the removal of transient members.

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