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


[TOC] [part 6] [part 4] [Cutler's History]


Neosho Falls, the oldest town in the county and for a long time the seat of justice, is located on the Neosho River in the northeast corner of the county. Its name is taken from the river which here brawled in a broad sheet of foamy ripples over the ledges of its bed. One of the first works of the early settlers was to build a dam across the rapids, and thus the town became genuinely "the Falls." The town site occupies a broad level table on the southwest bank, and is sheltered from all north and east winds by a heavy timber belt which lines the river. Westward lie level fields at present cultivated, but always available for residence purposes, as the growth of the city may demand increased space.

On April 6, 1857, Col. N. S. Goss and I. W. Dow arrived at Neosho Falls, having come in a one-horse rig from Iowa. Before reaching the Falls, they had skirted the Coffey County line and finally just west of where the city now stands found the cabin of Judge John Woolman. At that time John Chapman was living on Spring Creek, just north of the Falls, and these two were almost the only settlers in the county, which was as yet the reserve of the New York Indians, and not open to pre-emption. On August 16, 1857, E. Fender came to the Falls, as the rapids in the Neosho River were then called, and built a cabin on the north bank. Other settlers came in the fall of 1857, and the spring of 1858, and early in the latter year Ruggles and Stevens built a cabin on the south bank and began to sell goods. A little later, the same firm built the frame store building which still stands opposite the Falls House, and is occupied by Clark & Co. In 1858, this firm also erected the Falls House. These two latter buildings, although among the first, were antedated on the south bank by a number of log cabins used for dwellings. The second store building was erected by J. Fisher, who put in a stock of drugs. A physician, Dr. A. McCartney, now of Neodesha, Wilson County, was already on the ground, having come in 1857. The first birth in the town was that of Lucy, daughter of S. J. Williams--now married and living in Topeka. The first wedding under the marriage license act was that of Dr. S. J. Williams and Miss Eva Fender. This was also the first marriage under the act in the county.

On September 5, 1870, Neosho Falls was incorporated as a town, and D. W. Finney, V. L. Spawr and I. W. Dow made trustees. Early in 1871, upon the passage of the act relating to the organization of cities, the town became a city, and O. P. Haughawout was made Mayor, and W. E. Grove, City Clerk. The list of mayors since that time is as follows: J. S. Waterbury, 1872; J. Bishop, 1873; O. S. Woodward, 1874; J. P. Sharp, 1875; Benjamin Hunt, 1876; R. P. Hamm, 1877-78; C. H. Goodrich, 1879-80; S. Michener, 1881; J. C. Jones, 1882. C. B. Graves was City Clerk in 1872; W. P. Talbott in 1873, and H. D. Dickson from 1874 to the present time.

A post office was established at Neosho Falls in 1857, for the accommodation of the settlers, and N. S. Goss appointed Postmaster. The business of the office was not very vast at that time, the only settlers being in the two cabins on the north side of the river, and a few scattered to the west and north near the Coffey County line. Col. Goss held the office until 1859, when Peter Stevens took it and held it until the day of his death. This occurred in 1861, and George Wait was appointed. He was followed by S. J. Williams in 1867, and he, nine years later, by W. W. Sain, who held office until January 26, 1880, when R. P. Hamm, the present Postmaster, was appointed. The first post office was in one of the log cabins until taken by Wait to his house, a small frame, near where the Falls House now stands. Sain had a corner of a hardware store for a post office, and it was not until Hamm's administration that Uncle Sam's mail bags had a home of their own.

The first school taught in Neosho Falls was the private property of E. H. Curtis, who afterward figured in the war as the Colonel of a colored regiment. It was kept in an old building which is still standing, but has been moved back from the street. This was in 1858. A public schoolhouse was built in 1869, and the first classes taught in 1870. The first teacher was I. S. Jones, now and for a number of years Probate Judge of the county. Following Judge Jones came F. W. Bartlett, 1872; M. C. Carrenger, 1873; A. F. Palmer, 1874; J. N. Shannon, 1875; N. Powell and J. P. Sharp, 1876; George M. Ingre, 1877; J. J. McBride, 1878; L. Townley, 1879; J. M. Spangler, 1880; T. J. Bradley, 1881-82. Mr. Bradley has as assistants, Miss Kate Rhea, Miss Nellie Parks and Mrs. Lettie C. Jones. The schoolhouse erected in 1869 proved inadequate in 1871, and a large addition was made to it at a cost of $500. The following year a building was purchased at a cost of $1,000. This, with the original building, valued also at $1,000, makes a total school building valuation of $2,500. Although numbered eight, this school district is the oldest in the county, a remaking and numbering which took place several years ago, changing it from one to eight.


Methodist Church.--On March 2, 1870, E. A. Graham was appointed to the Neosho Falls Circuit, which was an indefinite space west of town. The total membership at that time was ten. The same year the church building still in use was erected. This was not done without very arduous work, the pastor putting in his own labor to the value of $250, and his wife supporting the family meanwhile by keeping boarders. In the fall of 1871, when Rev. Mr. Graham closed his labors, the church membership was fifty. W. W. Welch served in 1872, D. A. Perrin in 1873, H. W. Chaffee in 1874-75, J. McNulty in 1876-77-78, T. S. Walker in 1879-80, J. L. Longdon in 1881-82.

The society now numbers fifty-three members. Services are held every second Sunday in the church building, now valued at $2,500. A Sunday school, organized at the same time as the church, has now an average attendance of sixty, and is in charge of J. Newell.

Presbyterian Church.--The Presbyterian society of this city was organized in 1870, under Rev. John Creath, who remained its pastor during the year. Upon his resignation, Rev. J. S. Sherrill became pastor, and held the office three years. The succeeding three years the church was in charge of Rev. S. M. Irwin. Rev. John Creath then returned, and remained one year. A vacancy then occurred in the pulpit. H. R. Lewis was then called, and was succeeded by Rev. B. F. Haviland, who still supplies the church. A wooden church building was erected in 1870-71, at a cost of $2,500. A live Sabbath school, connected with the church, has now an average attendance of seventy, and is in charge of Mrs. C. H. Goodrich.

Congregational Church.--The Congregational Church of Neosho Falls was organized on April 20, 1871, by Rev. John Scotford, who became its pastor. The Trustees at this time were J. S. Waterbury, James Crane, D. W. Finney, John Scotford and W. W. P. McConnell. After four years' service, Mr. Scotford retired from the pastorate. He was followed by L. Harlow, J. Phillips, J. V. Willis, Q. C. Todd, and the present pastor, Rev. F. T. Norris. The membership of the society has risen from thirteen in 1870, to thirty-five in 1882. A fine brick church, standing in the heart of the city, was erected in 1882, at a cost of $2,500. A Sunday school, established at the same time as the church, has now an attendance of seventy-five. J. Hemming is Superintendent.

The first newspaper in the county was the Frontier Democrat, which was started in October, 1869, I. B. Boyle. This paper was printed at Neosho Falls until January, 1870, when it was sold to William H. Slavens, who changed it to the Neosho Falls Advertiser. Early in 1871, the paper was sold to a Mr. Collins, who, three months later, sold out to a company. Jones & Clark then leased the paper. In the winter of 1872, Jones retired and the paper was leased to Slavens & Pettit. In December of that year, the material of the paper was sold to Sain & Dow, who, on January 1, 1873, issued the Woodson County Post. September 8, 1873, Dow retired, and July 13, 1877, the paper was leased to J. Mickle & Son, who published it until December 13 of that year, when it reverted to W. W. Sain. A month later Mr. Sain sold the office to Nathan Powell, who formed a partnership with H. D. Dickson and made the Post a Republican paper. In July, 1878, Dickson retired, and Powell after a short time sold the paper to H. Lyman. A short time sufficed to satisfy Mr. Lyman, and J. E. Pickett took up the editorial quill, which he also soon surrendered. H. D. Dickson then assumed the management, and continued to hold it until September 15, 1881, when the present proprietor, W. L. Chellis, came in. The paper is now an independent seven-column folio, 24x34, and has a circulation of 640. It is issued on Fridays.

The Woodson County Advocate, although started at Neosho Falls, was a Kalida paper. Its first issue was on February 14, 1872, at the Falls, but the second emanated from Kalida, where the paper continued to be published until the fall of 1873, when it was discontinued and the material sold to R. F. Eagle, who removed it to Coffey County.

Grove Lodge, No. 49, I. O. O. F., was organized on August 28, 1869, with five charter members and nine initiates. Its charter officers were Thomas Hunter, N. G.; Isaac W. Dow, V. G.; W. C. Grove, R. S.; Isaac Mix, P. S.; Henry Williams, Treasurer. The lodge now has twenty-six members and the following officers: H. D. Dickson, N. G.; S. H. Hogueland, V. G.; C. C. Brengle, Secretary; P. Wagner, Treasurer. Meetings are held on Friday evening of each week in the hall jointly owned by this and the Masonic fraternity. The walls of this hall were purchased by these two lodges, and the finishing done by them at a considerable expense. Besides this, this lodge has something over $100 in the treasury.

Tuscan Lodge, No. 82, A., F. & A. M., was organized October 20, 1870, with the following officers: R. Slavens, W. M.; H. Williams, S. W.; W. W. Sain, J. W. The charter shows a membership of nine. Twelve years have produced many changes in the lodge, but it has grown steadily, and now has a membership of forty-seven and the following officers: H. D. Dickson, W. M.; J. H. Sticher, S. W.; S. H. Hogueland, J. W.; Samuel Michener (deceased), Secretary; J. G. Jackson, Treasurer. Meetings are held each Tuesday on or before full moon, and every two weeks thereafter, in the hall already described, owned by this lodge and the Odd Fellows.

Benefit Lodge, No. 1885, K. of H., was organized November 19, 1879, with twenty-one members and the following officers: S. Michener, P. D.; I. W. Dow, D.; R. P. Hamm, Rep.; W. L. Parsons, Treasurer. The lodge now has sixteen members. Meetings are held on the second and fourth Monday of each month in the Odd Fellows' Hall. The present officers of the society are W. L. Parsons, D.; R. C. Kells, Rep.; H. D. Dickson, Treasurer.

Neosho Falls Post, No. 73, G. A. R., was organized on the last Monday of July, 1882, with thirty members. Its officers elected at that time still hold their positions. They are W. L. Parsons, C.; W. J. Haughawout, J. V. C.; (D. H. Henry was elected S. V. C., but failed to qualify, and J. S. Philo to the position. sic), J. Bishop, Adj.; H. F. Beal, Qr. (resigned in October, 1882, and D. W. Finney installed); L. W. Dow, O. D. Meetings are held on the first Monday of each month in Clark's Hall.

Manufacturing.--The earliest manufacturing industry was the saw mill built in 1857 by N. S. Goss, T. L. Clark, B. F. Goss and William Brown. When this mill was built the entire settlement was on the north side of the river, and consisted of two cabins, in one of which Mrs. B. F. Goss cooked for the camp. Soon after completion of the mill, N. S. Goss and Clark became its owners, and, in 1859, built a grist mill addition. After a few years the combined mill passed into the hands of Cobert & Cozine, who sold it in the spring of 1873 to W. L. Parsons, its present owner. In 1881, the grist mill was rebuilt, a substantial 30x36 two-story building taking the place of the old one. This mill now has four run of buhr stones and a capacity of 100 barrels of flour per day. Power is obtained from the Neosho River by a forty-inch special Leffel turbine water-wheel.

Hotels.--The Falls House, already mentioned as built in 1858, was enlarged and practically rebuilt in 1870, and is now the only hotel in town. The American, built when the railway was a novelty, and the tide set that way, stood too far from the business center, and, after doing poor business, was, in 1876, moved to the track and converted into a freight warehouse. The Pierce House, which stood on the present site of the Congregational Church, was burned in 1876.

The Woolen Mill.--A woolen mill was built on the south side of the river in 1873 by Hillings Bros., and operated by them until sold to Sharp Bros., who in October, 1882, sold it to Snyder Bros. The woolen mill machinery has been removed, and the present owners propose to put in flouring machinery and run a custom mill.

Banking.--For a town of its importance, Neosho Falls has had little banking facilities. In 1870, I. W. Dow started a bank, and was swimming on a fairly prosperous tide until the black days of 1873, when he went under. The private bank of Haughwout sic & Goodrich was started in August, 1882, and still does business.

Railroads.--Neosho Falls is on the line of the Kansas branch of the present Missouri Pacific. When this line was projected as the Southern Branch Union Pacific, the township, as more fully stated elsewhere, voted $175,000 bonds in aid of the road, but the bond election was thrown out on the plea of insufficient publication, and the road finally went through in 1870 unsubsidized. Shortly afterward it became the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway, and as such is now generally known, although it has passed into the hands of the Missouri Pacific. The company has a depot with ample side tracks and a large store-house in the southern part of the town.

[TOC] [part 6] [part 4] [Cutler's History]