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


[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]


In October, 1867, A. McCartney and A. K. Phelon came from Neosho Falls to the neighborhood of what is now Neodesha and established a trading post for traffic with the Osage Indians. This post stood near the now famous Little Bear Mound. Nearly a year before this time, while the Indians still held the land, and the whites had no rights in the premises, E. K. Parris and A. Tucker had built a cabin on Fall River some distance west of the future town site, and sold goods to the Indians. Other settlements had been made still earlier, but none near Neodesha. Numerous Indian villages were near the junction of the Verdigris and Fall River, and the Osages had given to the place the name of Neodesha (meeting of the waters), which soon came to be applied to the trading post. In October, 1868, R. S. Futhey and John B. Keys arrived at the trading post, and after looking over a suitable spot for a town site, selected the claim where the city now stands, paying therefor $500. This was the signal for a wild excitement, and all claims near that of Futhey and Keys being held at enormous figures. McCartney and Phelon joined Futhey and Keys in the formation of a town company and a survey of the town site, which took place on July 12 and 13, 1869. On December 24, of that year, the frame of the first building on the town site was raised, and on its completion McCartney and Phelon moved into it the stock of the trading post. The policy of the town company was most liberal, lots being freely given to all who would erect buildings, and the town went on with a rush which soon carried it beyond the other settlements on the Trust lands. In one year from the erection of the McCartney and Phelon store there were 200 buildings in the town, and six months later the population had reached 1,000. On March 5, 1870, the first child, Neosho, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Derry, was born. The town site was entered by Mayor Phelon on behalf of the town company in the fall of 1871, and on December 15, a United States Land Office was located at this point. In November, 1879, the St. Louis and San Francisco railway reached the town, and in 1880 a division was established and a round house and repair shop built. In 1880, the United States census gave the town 924 inhabitants. Its present population is variously stated from 1,000 to 1,500, but is probably somewhere between the two figures.

In March, 1871, Neodesha was incorporated as a city of the third class. April 3, a city election was held resulting in the polling of 167 votes and the return of a full set of officials as follows: A. K. Phelon, Mayor; T. Blakeslee, Jno. S. Gilmore, W. A. Hampton, S. L. McCuiston, C. W. Derry, Councilmen; E. D. Huntley, Police Judge. J. K. DeMoss was made City Clerk. The robes of mayoralty since that date have descended as follows: F. Smith, 1872; R. M. Jones, 1873-74; John H. Gray, 1875; A. McCartney, 1876-77; T. Blakeslee, 1878; A. McCartney, 1879-81; T. Blakeslee, 1882. Clerks of the city for the same period have been: F. H. Knapp, 1872; O. H. P. Sheffer, 1873; G. P. Smith, 1874; L. Scott, 1875; M. C. Stoner, 1876-77; E. C. Todd, 1878; J. M. C. Keck, 1879; R. H. Doane, 1880-81; W. H. Parton, 1882. The first ordinance on the books is one to regulate the sale of intoxicants.

A postoffice was established at Neodesha in 1870, and A. K. Phelon appointed Postmaster. After nearly two years of service Mr. Phelon retired and O. H. P. Sheffer was appointed. His term of office lasted until July 14, 1873, when E. K. Parris began handling the mails. William Cramer, the present official, received his commission on August 17, 1877. There has never been a separate postoffice building though the accommodations in the various stores have been very fairly good.

The office was made a money order one on July 20, 1872. The first money order was issued by Hampton & Sons to Dodd, Brown & Co., of St. Louis, for $26 and bears the signature of O. H. P. Sheffer.

The first school was taught in the town in 1870, James A. McHenry being the teacher. It was held in the old schoolhouse, which stood on Main street until sold to John H. Gray, by whom it was removed to the country, where it fills a dishonored old age as a barn. The brick schoolhouse in the northwest part of the town built in 1872, bonds to the amount of $15,000 being issued by the district to secure building funds. It has four rooms, three of which were filled with scholars from the time of occupancy. At the present time not only has the fourth room been filled, but the primary department crowed out and placed in the unused Congregational Church. As there seems to be no indication that the number (225) of scholars will decrease, a second permanent schoolhouse is a matter of near necessity. The present teachers are: J. A. Wardlow, W. P. Maxwell, Eva Speers, Belle Witham and Maud Gray.


At an early day Congregationalism seems to have been prevalent in Neodesha. A Congregational Church was built in 1872 at a cost of about $600, and the society seems for a time to have flourished, but later it gradually fell away and now has no pastor and no services, the church building being used for the primary school.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Neodesha was organized in 1870. Like all churches of this denomination, it has a long pastoral list. It embraces Revs. Parker, Ross, Lowe, Lee, Barton, Warfield, Baldwin, Weed, Ashbaugh, Hunt, Robb and McClintock. The society now numbers eighty members. A brick church was erected in 1872, at a cost of $3,500. A Sabbath school established in 1871 is still kept up under the superintendence of Charles Brigham, and has an average attendance of 100.

The Presbyterian Church was organized in 1871 with twelve members. Its pastor at this time was Rev. S. D. Lowhea. Since his ministry Revs. J. H. Mateer, S. N. D. Martin, W. B. Truex and S. Allen have successively had charge of the church. The society has never built a church edifice, but contemplate doing so soon. Early services were held in the school house and later in city hall, which is the present place of meeting. The society now numbers twenty-five.

The Christian Church of Neodesha was organized in 1877 by Rev. C. A. Hedrick of Missouri. The church was placed in charge of Rev. Mr. Pucket, who filled its pulpit for a considerable time. Upon his retirement followed a brief time, when the church was without a pastor. This ended in August, 1882, on the engagement of the present incumbent, Rev. C. J. McKenney. At its organization the society numbered fifty, which number has increased to 140. A church building, 32x50 feet, was completed in 1881, at a cost of $2,500. A Sabbath school, organized in January, 1882, has an attendance of 140, and is in charge of Mr. F. Smith.

This is, in brief, the history of the Christian society as it stands to-day. It should, however, be stated that an organization was effected as early as 1873, but having no pastor gradually disintegrated and became defunct.

The Baptists have a society at this place, and also a church edifice, in which services are held on each Sabbath, although the society has, at present, no pastor. The Catholics also have an organization and hold regular services under Father F. R. Van Rosmalen.

Harmony Lodge, No. 94, A., F. & A. M., was organized on October 20, 1870, with ten members. Its officers at that time were: William Cowgill, W. M.; J. N. Halsted, S. W.; A. K. Phelon, J. W.; J. W. Sutherland, Sec.; J. H. Stodard, Treas. The lodge now has sixty-five members and the following officers: J. M. Keck, W. M.; George Briggs, S. W.; R. M. Jones, J. W.; R. H. Doane, Sec.; Henry Ferring, Treas. Meetings are held in Masonic Hall, the joint property of this lodge and the Odd Fellows, on the first and third Saturday of each month. The property of the lodge consists of its half interest in the hall and $300 in the treasury.

Neodesha Lodge, No. 72, I. O. O. F., was organized on March 14, 1871, six names appearing in the charter. Its officers were: O. H. P. Sheffer, N. G.; Robert Hays, V. G. ; William Nicholson, R. S.; Reuben C. Spaulding, Sec.: John W. Duncan, Treas. The society now has a membership of forty, and the following officers: William Cole, N. G.; George W. Davis, V. G.; A. Kashner, Sec.; H. Edwards, Treas. Meetings are held on Fridays of each week in the hall owned by this society and the Masonic Fraternity. This hall cost $900. Besides this property, the lodge has about $300 in the treasury for the orphans' fund.

The Comet, No. 347, Equitable Aid Union, was organized on July 20, 1881, by V. M. Dewey, Grand Dep. The union then had ten members and the following officers: Robert Hays, C.; A. McAustland. Pres.; Mrs. Jennie Mitchell, Adv.; G. W. Davis, Aux.; G. B. Mitchell, Treas.; R. H. Doane, Sec. There is no record of a meeting later then December 22, 1881, when the above officers were still in power and the union had a membership of fourteen.

Neodesha Chapter, No. 28, Order of the Eastern Star, was organized under a dispensation on October 17, 1882, with a membership of twenty-five. Its officers, who still hold their positions, were: Mrs. C. Jones, W. M.; J. M. Keck, W. P.; Miss Addie Woodward, A. M.; W. H. Cramer, Sec.; Mrs. Mary Briggs, Treas. Meetings are held on the secomd and fourth Tuesday of each month in Odd Fellows' Hall.

Neodesha, No. 101, A. O. U. W., was organized on April 10, 1882, with twenty-seven members and the following officers: W. E. Leach, W. M.; S. S. Steele, F.; F. T. Allen, Treas.; J. R. Young, Sec.; J. W. Ewing, O.; J. M. Puette, F. The order has already about $75 in the treasury.

The Press. -- The Neodesha Citizen was introduced to the public on November 18, 1870, by John S. Gilmore, who had previously published the same paper at Guilford. It was a seven-column Republican weekly, and in the flush times of Neodesha's early growth did a prosperous business. Later the support was inadequate to the maintenance of the style of paper the publisher desired to keep up, and on November 20, 1872, it was discontinued.

On the day before Christmas, 1870, appeared the first issue of the Neodesha Enterprise, a thunder and lightning Democratic weekly, published by Berry & Campbell. Nine weeks later the office was closed by its creditors. The material of the paper was spirited away one dark night by the holders of a second mortgage, and a Fredonia man who held a first mortgage was left to meditate on the well known fact, that it is easy to put money into a newspaper office, but its extraction is a far more difficult task.

The Wilson County Free Press was founded on January 9, 1873, by G. P. Smith, who used the material upon which the Humboldt Southarest had formerly been printed. The paper was a seven-column Independent weekly. In December, 1874, it passed into the hands of G. D. Ingersoll, who made it Republican and reduced the size one column. Ownership changed again in December, 1876, and the paper became Independent in the hands of F. H. McCarter. A little later it passed to Chapman Bros. who made it Democratic. In May, 1879, it was sold to George A. McCarter by whom it is now published as a Republican sheet.

The Neodesha Gazette, a seven-column folio of Republican proclivities, was ushered into existence on April 28, 1881. Its sponsors were John H. and Frank W. Long. After a little more than a year's publication the Gazette was sold to C. E. McClintock and R. J. Monroe who turned it into the Prohibitionist. This new venture in journalism was what its name implies, the organ of the Prohibition party. It did not meet with a very cordial support and in October, 1882, discontinued publication.

Banking. -- The Neodesha Savings Bank was organized in 1872 and reorganized and chartered on April 1, 1873. The last statement of resources shows a capital of $16,591.70, surplus of $3,000 and net undivided earnings of $1,260. The bank is officered by Douglas Stewart, president, and William Hill, cashier.

Milling. -- The Neodesha steam flouring mill was built in 1870-71 by Futhey, Keys & Phelon. The saw mill attachment which was in use up to 1881 bears date a little prior the grist mill, but though of considerable importance when the town was rushing into existence has done little since that time, The cost of the grist mill was $16,000. It has three run of buhr stones, two for wheat and one for corn, and can turn out sixty barrels of flour per twenty-four hours. It was sold by its original proprietors to Futhey & Keys and by them to Hobart & Keys, who now operate it,

The Hobart Mill. -- The Hobart water mill is located on Fall River one and one-quarter miles west of the town. It was built in 1874 at a cost of $5,000. Power is furnished by a turbine water wheel which operates three run of buhr-stones. This mill was built by Sprinkle & Co., and passed from them to Phelon Bros., B. F. Hobart, and finally G. A. Adams, who now runs it.

An attempt to recapitulate the various industries of a city as large as Neodesha is unnecessary. It need only be said that they are commensurate with its size. Improvements are constantly being made and the population now stated at 1,000 is steadily growing toward the 1,500 point which some more enthusiastic than exact citizens now claim.


WILLIAM D. BALDWIN, dealer in fancy and staple groceries, queensware, etc., etc., was born in Madison County, Ohio, December 1, 1848, son of Henry and Mary F. Baldwin. He was raised on a farm and came direct from his native county to Kansas in November, 1877. He opened a grocery and provision store in December of the same year and has been engaged in the business ever since. He was married in Fayette County, Ohio, January 28, 1878, to Ella K. Cook, and by this union has three children -- Lucy Lorrette, William Henry, and an infant. Mr. Baldwin is a successful merchant and one of the representative men of Neodesha.

WILLIAM H. CRAMER, P. M., notary public, real estate, loan and insurance agent, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 22, 1852, son of Henry and Catherine E. Cramer. He moved with his parents to Brown County, Ohio in 1859, and thence to Kansas in 1869. He assisted his father in the mercantile business in Ohio. But for five years after coming to Kansas was engaged in tilling and improving a farm in Wilson County. He was then engaged three years in the hardware business in Neodesha; was made Postmaster August 27, 1877, and has served in that capacity ever since. He was appointed Notary Public, April, 1879, and since that time has also been engaged in the real estate, loan and insurance business. He has also served as Township Clerk two terms. He was married in Huron County, Ohio, March 15, 1876, to Peninah H. Long, and by this union has one child, viz., Leon W. Cramer. Mr. Cramer is faithful and efficient public servant and a reliable business man. He is P. G., I. O. O. F., and a worthy Mason.

J. A. HATCHER, M. D., physician and surgeon, was born in Green County, Ky., April 30, 1839, son of B. F. and Mary Hatcher. He lived in his native county until eighteen years of age, and then moved to Hart County, Ky. He attened the Louisville College the winter of 1868-9, afterward graduated from the Ohio Medical College, Cincinnati, March 1, 1880. He came direct from Hart County, Ky., to Kansas, in April, 1870, and located in Montgomery County. He had farming carried on, but gave his attention to practice at the time. He then devoted his attention exclusively to the practice of his profession. After a successful practice of five years at Radical City he moved to Neodesha in September, 1880, and has established an enviable reputation as a physician in Wilson County. He was married in Hart County, Ky., September 17, 1865, to Sarah C. Smith, and by this union has two children -- Edwin H. and Nina May Hatcher. He is a worthy member of the Christian Church and of the A., F. & A. M.

JAMES M. KECK, dealer in groceries, provisions, queensware, etc., was born in Jefferson County, May 4, 1846, son of Joseph B. and Sophia Keck. He followed the saddler's trade in his native county for a number of years, enlisting in Jefferson County, Pa., in Company A, One Hundred and Fifth Pennsylvania Veteran Infantry, October 3, 1862, and was mustered out November 9th. He was in the following engagements: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Pa., Kelly's Ford, Va., Locust Grove, Wilderness, Spottsylvania C. H., North Anna River, Cold Harbor, siege of Petersburg, Sailor's Creek, Farmersville, and the surrender of Lee. He was severely wounded at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863, and remained in the hospital four months; was wounded a second time at Deep Bottom, Va., which confined him to the hospital about the same length of time. He, however, served his term of enlistment and was mustered out July 17, 1865. He then returned to his native county in Pennsylvania and remained until he came to Kansas. He located on a farm near Neodesha in June, 1868, and was among the first settlers in Cedar -- now Neodesha -- Township. Moved into the city of Neodesha in 1878, and during the year 1879 instructed Masonic lodges as Grand Lecturer for the State of Kansas, and in 1880, established himself in the grocery and stock business at Neodesha, and is one of the most extensive dealers in the city. In the year 1881 he held the position of custodian in the A., F. & A. M. He was married at Neodesha, December 19, 1871, to Fannie V. Mitchell, and by this union has three children -- Dora C., James and John G. Keck. He is a worthy Mason and belongs to the Chapter, Council and Commandery, also to the I. O. O. F. Lodge and Encampment and to the G. A. R. He is now serving as Justice of the Peace, and is recognized as one of the most useful citizens and reliable business men in Wilson County.

GEORGE A. McCARTER, editor and publisher of Neodesha Free Press, was born in Erie County, Pa., December 22, 1857; son of John and Kate Sterrett McCarter. He came from his native County to Kansas, October 14, 1869, and located at Independence, Montgomery County, where he remained about six years. He then came to Neodesha, and in company with his brother bought the Free Press and after conducting this paper about two years went to Parsons and started the Parsons' Daily Infant Wonder. Then six months afterward sold out and again came to Neodesha and has edited and published the Free Press ever since, and is now sole proprietor. He attended the Kansas State University a short time. But has been engaged in journalism ever since eighteen years of age. He was married in Neodesha, January 20, 1879, to Amelia Creamer, who is a native of Ohio and daughter of Henry and Catherine Creamer. By this union has two children, viz: Kate S. and Henry B. McCarter. He is a worthy Mason, and is treasurer of Neosho Valley Editorial Association; also a member of Congressional Central Committee. He already won an enviable reputation as a journalist.

A. McCARTNEY, M. D., physician and surgeon, was born in Marion County, Ind., June 14, 1838, son of M. D. and Elizabeth McCartney. He lived in his native county six years, Crawford County, Southern Ind., about ten years, Fremont County, Iowa, nearly two years, Atchison County, Mo., six months, and then again in Crawford County, Ind., two years. He was educated at a Seminary located at Leavenworth, Ind., but finally graduated from the Ohio Medical College in the spring of 1858. He came to Kansas in 1859, and located at Neosho Falls, Woodson County. He engaged in the practice of his profession at Neosho Falls until 1867. He represented his county in the Kansas State Legislature in 1863. Also served one term as Clerk of the District Court, and was Postmaster at Neosho Falls two years. He moved to Wilson County in 1867 and in company with A. K. Phelan kept an Indian trading post one mile northwest of the present site of Neodesha. In 1869 he helped to organize the company which surveyed and incorporated the city of Neodesha. He and Mr. Phelan put up the first business house in the town, and carried on the mercantile business one year. He has ever since devoted his entire attention to the practice of his profession. He represented Wilson County in the Kansas Legislature in 1871; has served as Township Trustee two terms and as Mayor of Neodesha two or three years. He was married at Emporia, Kansas, December 1, 1869, to Amanda Davis and by this union had three children, viz.: Amanda, Herbert and an infant. He is a worthy Mason, a prominent and useful citizen and a skillful physician.

FREDERICK SMITH, dealer in dry goods, clothing, boots and shoes, was born in Licking County, Ohio, December 22, 1828; son of John and Margaret Smith. He was reared in Logan County, Ohio, and has been engaged in mercantile business ever since he was eighteen years of age. Came direct from Logan County to Kansas in the fall of 1870 and located at Neodesa, where he engaged in merchandising five years, then went onto a farm near Neodesha and farmed three years, since which he has been continuously engaged in the mercantile business at Neodesha. He has served as City Treasurer, Township Treasurer and member of the School Board, and is recognized as one of the best citizens and most reliable business man of Wilson County. He was married in Bellefontaine, Ohio, February, 1855, to Charlotte Smith, daughter of Solomon and Catherine Smith. By this union has six children, viz; Dianstus, George, Hattie, Sallie, Frederick and William Smith.

J. W. SUTHERLAND, attorney-at-law, was born in Erie County, Pa., April 23, 1842, son of Ami and Betsy Sutherland. He lived in his native county six years and Boone County, Ill., three years; after which he was raised and educated in McHenry County, Ill., but graduated from the Chicago Law School in 1869. He practiced law in McHenry County until he came to Kansas, May 2, 1870. He located at Neodesha June 1, 1870, where he has ever since been engaged in the practice of his profession. He has served as County Attorney two years. Was married at Atchison, Kan., December 30, 1871, to Miss E. A. Raymond, an accomplished lady and a native of Connecut [sic], Ashtabula County, Ohio. Mr. Sutherland is one of the most prominent and successful attorneys in Wilson County. He is a worthy Mason.

[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]