Transcribed from Biographical history of Barton County, Kansas. ; Illustrated. Published by Great Bend Tribune, Great Bend, KS : 1912. 318 p. : ill. ; 28 cm. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward, July 2006.

1912 Biographical History of Barton County, Kansas


wells went dry or water had to be hauled for stock.

The Walnut creek valley extends its width and mingles its matchless soil with the Arkansas Valley, where in rich profusion may be seen the alfalfa, corn and wheat fields. The endless fields of grain are so blended that the road ways can only be marked by the fringes of trees that embellish the country with flamboyant denial that this could ever have been the great American desert.

Here in this vast sccpe of country between the Walnut creek and the Arkansas river is a soil that has also received the rich deposit of the silts that came from the west in the mighty currents that swept down the Arkansas river, when everything south of the Walnut creek was a vast body of water which grudgingly yielded to man its rich producing qualities, and Barton county encompasses the richest spot in the state.

The occasional discovery of limbs and logs of wood at depths from 15 to 60 feet are incontrovertible evidences that this land was accumulated drifts and fills at great depth from the floods from the west, which gives assurrance of a long lived soil in the producing qualities, continuing to rise to the surface, replenishing the top formation much more rapidly than it can be consumed in cropping the land.

We now pass to the south side of the Arkansas river where we find the once much doubted sandy land, once almost destitute of vegetation, but now rivals the fields of all of the states of the Union. In the mighty floods once covering this country for thousands of years, the slacked limestone of the Rocky Mountains with its rich conglomerate of decomposed vegetable and animal matter in a formation variously estimated from 25 to 60 feet deep. This rich sub-stratum is rapidly coming to the surface with a tenacity that will soon resist the blowing of soils by the winds, that was once much feared.

The occasional bare patches of sand that once glared the eye with a suggestion of desert lands, have now changed into a dark rich productive soil, and with the tardy efforts being made by the farmers to grow fruits come results that give promise in the near future of a great fruit country. The popular acknowledgement that the south side of the river is the great corn belt of Kansas brooks no contradicticn, and the largest yield of wheat per acre ever recorded in the state came from these lands. The banner vegetable production of this country is on the south side, all admit, and had this marvelous country been exploited with anything like the energy California has, it would have been as notable for its wheat, corn, alfalfa, melons, vegetables and fruits as any country in the world.

There has been no little discussion over the amount of moisture we receive in this country and while it must be admitted that previous to 1897 we quite often suffered for want of rain, and the cause is now known to have been the unobstructed heated winds by the parched uncultivated plains of Texas and Oklahoma which are now being plowed up and planted to crops and whether successful to the owners of said fields or not, they are the depository of rains which once ran away like water from the roof of a house, whereas now they throw off vapor that create clouds that are blown to us by the never varying south winds, that give us an assurance of rainfall in normal years that no other state can boast, and when in our feeble efforts to justly, truthfully and explicitly exploit the beauties, excellencies and advantages of Barton County, Kansas, our mind runs to those matchless words of Senator Ingalls, who must have had in his mind Barton County, when he said, "Kansas is the nucleus of our political system," etc.

"Kansas is the nucleus of our political system, round which forces assemble, to which its energies converge, and from which its energies radiate to the remotest circumference. Kansas is the focus of freedom, where the rays of heat and light concentrated into a flame that melted the manacles of the slave and cauterized the heresies of state sovereignty and disunion. Kansas is the core and kernel of the country, containing the germs of its growth and the quickening ideas essential to its perpetuity. The history of Kansas is written in capitals. It is punctuated with exclamation points. Its verbs are imperative. It's adjectives are superlative. The commonplace and prosaic are not defined in its lexicon. Its statistics can be stated only in the language of hyperbole. The aspiration of Kansas is to reach the unattainable; its dream is the realization of the impossible. Alexander wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. Kansas, having vanquished all competitors, smiles complacently as she surpasses from year to year her own triumphs in growth and glory. Other states could be spared with irreparable bereavement, but Kansas is indispensible to the joy, the inspiration and the improvement of the world. It seems incredible that there was a time when Kansas did not exist ;when its name was not written on the map of the United States; when the Kansas cyclone, the Kansas grass-hopper, the Kansas boom and the Kansas Utopia were unknown. I was a student in the junior class at William College when President Pierce, forgotten but for that signature, approved the act establishing the Territory of Kansas, May 30, 1854. I remember the inconceivable agitation that preceded, accompanied and followed this event. It was an epoch. Destiny closed one volume of our annals and, opening another, traced with shadowy finger upon its pages a million epitaphs, ending with Appomattox. Kansas was the prologue to a tragedy whose epilogue has not yet been pronounced; the prelude to a fugue of battle whose reverberations have not yet died away. Floating one summer night upon a


moonlit sea. I heard far over the still waters a high, clear voice singing:

"To the West! To the West; To the land of the free.
Where the mighty Missouri rolls down to the sea;
Where a man is a man if he's willing to tail,
And the humblest may gather the fruits of the soil."

The grassy quadrangle geographers call Kansas. Her undulating fields are the floors of ancient seas. These limestones ledges underlying the prairies and cropping from the foreheads of the bills are the cemeteries of the marine insect life of the primeval world. The inexhaustible humus is the mold of the decaying herbage of unnumbered centuries. It is only upon calcareous plains, in temperate latitudes, that agriculture is supreme, and the strong structure and the rich nourishment imparted essential to bulk, endurance, and speed in animals; to grace, beauty and passion in women; and in man to stature, courage, health and longevity."

And to properly finish the picture with the music of rhyme in quoting Walt Mason's epigrammatic ode.

"Kansas: Where we've torn the shackles
   From the farmers leg;
Kansas: Where the hen that cackles
   Always lays an egg;
Where the cows are fairly achin',
   To go on with record breakin',
And the hogs are raising bacon
   By the keg."


By James W. Clark

THE writer hereof located in Great Bend November 6, 1884. During that month Judge Strang held his last term of court in this county, the same being the last court here as a part of the 16th judicial district. The sixteenth judicial district when it was created in 1881 consisted of the counties of Barton, Stafford, Pratt, Barber, Comanche, Edwards, Pawnee, Rush, Ness, Hodgeman, Ford, Clark Meade, Foote, Buffalo, Lane, Scott, Sequoyah, Arapahoe, Seward, Stevens, Grant, Kearney, Wichita Greeley, Hamilton and Stanton.

In February, 1885, the 20th judicial district was created, and consisted of the counties of Barton, Rice, Stafford and Pratt. Hon. George W. Nimocks of the local bar was appointed as judge of this new district until the following election when Judge Clark was elected. The members of the Barton county bar at this time consisted of S. J. Day, W. H. Dodge, Joshua Clayton, James Clayton, Theo. C. Cole, E. C. Cole, Samuel Maber, William Osmond, C. F. Diffenbacher, Judge D. A. Banta, L. R. Nimocks, B. F. Ogle and the writer. The court docket was large, and most every little case was fought out to the finish with but few compromises or friendly settlements. The policy of the bar seems to have changed in this regard during more recent years. Now the attorneys and clients look upon lawsuits more as matters of business and seek just and fair settlements rather than unnecessary and expensive trials tinged with spite and vengenee.

The first case the writer tried after locating here was rather comical. The lot where the Odd Fellows' Hall now stands was owned by Mrs. I. T. Flint. Her husband had placed this property with A. J. Buckland, a real estate agent, for sale, and D. R. Jones who tried to buy the property from Buckland and failing concluded he would go to Eureka township where the Flints lived and make the deal with them, and Buckland learning of this started out, procured a conveyance and he and Jones had a horse race to see who could reach the Flints first. Jones won the race and bought the property, and then Buckland brought suit before C. J. McIntosh, a justice of the peace in South Bend township, for his commission for the sale of this property. Your writer represented Mr. Flint, who was very pugnacious, and James Clayton represented Mr. Buckland, who was rather schrewd and cunning in his ways, and doubtless had a purpose in the selection of his court to try the case. A jury was demanded, the case hotly contested, and even the parties themselves insisted on making arguments to the jury. Flint spoke first with much feeling, noise and abuse, and on finishing left his memorandum book on the little school house table. Then Mr. Buckland commenced his argument by referring to Flint as a sneak thief, whereupon Flint rose to his feet and made a break towards Buckland for revenge and everyone kept out of his way as he rushed up the isle towards Buckland, but he simply picked up his memorandum book, walked back and took his seat amidst an uproar of laughter. No one was hurt. Flint won his case on the ground that his wife, the holder of the title, had not authorized the placing of the property for sale. The writer received for his services a bright new ten dollar bill his first fee in Kansas.

The oldest contractor in the county in point of service is still engaged in the business and apparently as young as ever. He is Frank Kramer of this city. He came here from Pennsyl-


nia in the early '70s and was noted for years as one of the finest band men and ball players in the state. And Frank says that it has always been a wonder to him how he ever managed to hold on to his trade, support a family and follow these two professions when either one is enough of a detriment to a man in a small community where neither pays salary. Chas. Morrison is the next oldest contractor in the city.

The first bank in Barton County was established in 1873 by Samuel Maher and others. It ran for a year then got into difficulties over a check for $17,000 in which cattle buyers and the Santa Fe were involved and went out of business. The J. V. Brinkman Company Bank organized in 1874, which is now one of the big banks of the state, was really a continuation of this bank.

The Barton County court house was built by the Santa Fe railroad. The company owned most of the taxable land in the county in the year 1872 and the few citizens of the county managed to get a special election call through and had the court house built, the taxes paid by the Santa Fe paying the most of the expense.


By G. N. Moses

THE following description of Archie B. Clements' death in Missouri after a streneous career is told by George N. Moses who was active in the early day life of that part of the country before he came to Barton County. It is printed as an interesting event in the life of the first sheriff of Barton County.

At the close of the Civil War, the country was in a very unsettled condition and more especially so in the border states. There were roving bands of men, composed of the worst elements of both armies, who did not accept the condition of peace or abide by the civil law but took the law in their own hands and travelled the country, burning, murdering and committing all kinds of depredations. Such was the condition of affairs in LaFayette County, Mo. A band of men, headed by Archie B. Clements, who was a lieutenant under Quantrell at the time of the Lawrence massacre, would ride into Lexington shooting, killing and robbing banks in broad day light. Reports of these outrages coming to the ears of Gov. Tom Fletcher, he sent Bacon Montgomery cf Sedalia, Mo., and ordered him to raise a company of men and go to Lexington and quiet the troubles.

Montgomery returned to Sedalia and raised a company of thirty-two, consisting of such men as J. M. and George Turley, Dave Thornton, Tom Tibbs, Monte Cantrell and others of like character. They were men who had carried their lives in their hands all through the war; they were dead shots and could be relied upon to face any danger. They were as daring a lot of men, taken as a whole, as were ever banded together. We left Sedalia for Lexington but the date of our leaving I cannot recollect. It was, however, in the winter of 1866. On the way we were notified by friends, that Clements and his band would meet us at the LaFayette County line and that we were never to be permitted to cross the line. Sure enough when we came to the line there was a squad of men but at sight of us they scattered into the brush and we went into Lexington without any trouble, remaining there several days without anything of note happening. One day, a company of nearly 500 men, headed by Dave Poole came into town and it was reported that they came for the purpose of taking the oath, registering or something of that kind. We didn't just like the looks of things so we gathered our squad in the court house, remaining there until they left town. Shortly after they left, Montgomery came to Turley, Tibbs and myself and said that Clements, and Hickland had come back and were at the hotel which was run by one of the Hicklands. He further stated that there was a reward offered by both Kansas and Missouri for Clements and he wanted us to go and get him. We started at once and on the way, discussed the situation, finally determining that we would take them if possible, without shooting. Our plan was to get them into conversation and then ask them to take a drink and while drinking get the drop on them and cause them to surrender. Meantime, Montgomery, fearing there might be more of them than we could handle, sent Joe Wood with two or three men, to our assistance.

Just as we were in the act of taking a drink at the bar, Wood came to the door and commenced hollering, "Surrender." Immediately, Clements and Hickland sprang back, Hickland jumping over a billiard table. As he jumped, I shot him in the leg. Clements ran through a side door into the office and I ran into the opening leading into the office. Just as I slipped into the door Clements. turned and fired at me the ball going through my clothes but not drawing blood. I fired at him hitting him in the right breast, crippling him badly which accounts for his poor shooting after that for he emptied eleven six shooters at us and never


hit a man and he died with the twelfth gun in his hand trying to cock it.

When I shot him he fell but before I could reach him he sprang to his feet and started running towards the Virginia Hotel Livery Barn, in front of which he had his horse tied. I was so busy taking care of myself up to this time that I did not realize what Turley and Tlbbs were doing, but when I came to myself I found that all three of us were running after Clements. Clements reached his horse when we were within ten or fifteen feet of him and we continued shooting at him as fast as we could but in spite at it all, he mounted and swung his horse around and started towards Market Street. As his horse came around he ran into the lead horse of a four horse team that was coming up the street and we followed still shooting at him and shot and killed the lead horse of the team. Clements' horse was hit several times but kept going, reaching Market street and then up that street as far as Dr. Cooley's residence; there his horse gave out and stopped. Turley and I were the first to reach him and took him off his horse and he was then vainly trying to cock his last six shooter but had not the strength left to do so. We laid him on the ground and he stretched out, gave a few convulsions and the last words be spoke were, "Oh, he—ll," and he was dead.

We took the body to the court house where an examination disclosed that Clements had been hit, thirty-three or thirty-four times, of which number, twenty odd wounds were in the body. We then placed his body against one of the columns of the court house and had it photographed.

I had one of these pictures but have been unable to locate it. When we brought Clements' bcdy to the court house, I told Montgomery that I thought Hickland was wounded at the hotel. Several of us went back there and found a trail of blood from the billiard table, through the office and up the stairs where it stopped. Montgomery then found the landlord and demanded Hickland, telling him that if he did not deliver him up we would set fire to the house and smoke Hickland out.

There was certainly a scene of commotion then. The landlord, his wife and two grown daughters, crying, wringing their hands and swearing that Hickland had left the hotel. Montgomery would not believe them and sent John Jackson to a drug store for some turpentine which he soon brought and Bake emptied the can on the floor and was just about to touch a match to the turpentine when the mayor and Dr. Cooley who were old friends of his, came in and persuaded him not to burn the house.

That afternoon we received word from a farmer, that the Poole band had returned to old man Hickland's place, two miles from town, and were coming in to kill every one of us. We went through the city, taking all the arms and ammunition we could find and drafting a lot of negroes and then establishing headquarters at McDowell College. From there we sent out pickets and spies to watch their movements. I went through fields and along hedge rows to their camp until I was close enough to hear what they were saying. Some of them wanted to come in and some hung back. They lacked a leader. They wanted Poole to lead them in but this he refused to do and that settled it. They never came after us while we were at the College. I might here add, that we never found Hickland.

There was a newspaper published on the other side of the river by a man named Williams and he was giving us a terrible scoring as robbers and murderers, so Turley took a few of us with him and we crossed the river, captured the printer, broke the presses and scattered the type up and down the street. We brought Williams back with us and for several days kept him prisoner under a stairway in a dark room and then let him go. This escapade, however, proved quite an expensive joke for us for we were afterwards compelled to pay for the property destroyed.

Soon after this we moved back to the court house. Some of the good citizens who did not like us nor the idea of our staying there any longer, sent all kinds of terrible reports about us to President Grant and these reports were so bad, describing us as robbers and murderers, that Grant, without taking second thought ordered two companies of infantry from Fort Leavenworth to Lexington by forced march. The day these U. S. troops arrived there was a young lieutenant sent ahead to procure quarters. This lieutenant had evidently just entered the army and gave every evidence of having bought his commission for he lacked any of the traits of a true soldir or gentleman. He came to the court house dressed in a new uniform with bright shining buckles and buttons and his sword dangling by his side and you could tell from his looks that he considered himself a great soldier and of vast importance. I happened to be standing in the doorway and he addressed himself to me, asking "What men are these here?" I remarked that they were Gen. Montgomery and his men. "Gen. Montgomery," he replied with a sneer. "Where is this man Montgomery?" I felt the blood coursing a little swifter through my viens but held my peace knowing that Bake could answer him much better than I could, and followed him in saying to him that the General was back there by the stove, playing seven-up with some of his men. The lieutenant marched in very pompously and said, "Where is this man Montgomery?" Bake looked up and said, "That's my name, sir." The lieutenant, said, "Capt. Williams is on his way here, sir, with U. S. troops and we want these rooms for our quarters." Again Bake looked up and said, "How many troops has Capt. Williams?" "Two companies of infantry, sir." "Well," said Bake, "You go back and tell Capt. Williams that I have thirty Missou-


rians here and I will contest with him, God damn you sir, for these quarters," and Bake went on with his game paying no further attention to the lieutenant who stood there a few minutes then turned and walked out like a whipped cur.

Meantime, George Turley had got hold of an old musket and constituted himself a guard and halted the lieutenant when he got to the door. The lieutenant drew his sword and ordered George to get out of the way but George took after him and ran him clear past the court house square, pricking him with the bayonet at every jump. When the U. S. troops arrived they camped in the court house yard. Bake went and telegraphed Governor Fletcher who immediately wired the president that he had state troops at Lexington, that he had made no requisition for U. S. troops and asked that they be ordered back. The troops soon left for Fort Leavenworth.

It did not suit the old moss backs that we were left in control of the situation so they swore to charges against us of wilful and malicious murder. (By the way, in the shooting fracas with Clements, there were one or two citizens accidentally killed.) Se we were indicted for murdering Clements and these citizens. A United States marshal named Poole, a cousin of Dave Poole, was sent to arrest us. He came to Lexington, sent for us to come to the hotel and told us he had a warrant for our arrest.

Montgomery told him to produce his warrants and if they were all right we would go with him but this he refused to do and for several days we parleyed back and forth, Montgomery demanding to see the warrants and Poole declining to show them, claiming it was not necessary. Finally he sent for us and said he would show us the warrants if we would promise not to harm the prosecuting witnesses. Bake told him he would guarantee and he would read the warrants to us. Bake told him we would be ready when us.[sic] Bake told him we would be ready when the next stage left. We were a good deal suspicious of Poole as he was so closely related to Dave Poole the noted bushwhacker and feared he might steer us into an ambush where they would kill us all so Montgomery told the boys to saddle up and follow us to Warrensburg for fear Clements' friends would ambush us on the road. The next morning we started. There was no one else in the stage but the marshal, Bacon Montgomery, James Turley, Tom Tibbs and myself. Poole's son was on horseback as guard. After going some distance on the way to Warrensburg without any trouble the boys began to feel develish and thought they would have some fun with the guard so they commenced shooting up the dirt around him and he soon took to the brush. Poole thought his time had come and shook like a leaf but Montgomery quieted him by assuring him that neither he nor his son were in any danger for the boys were just in fun. We reached Warrensburg all O. K. and there took the train for Jefferson City. Just as the whistle blew for Sedalia, one of the complaining witnesses opened the car door, came in and took a seat by the door. Tibbs and I were seated a few seats in front when the door opened and Tibbs looked back to see who came in. As soon as he discovered who it was, Tlbbs said, "See me wing that s—n of b—h," and before I could realize what he was doing he pulled his gun and shot the old fellow through the ear. He did not wait for the train to stop but just got off and took the next train. When we reached Jefferson City, Poole took us around to lock us up but we politely tipped our hats and bade him "good evening." He then followed us around, stopping at the same hotel we did until we had our preliminary hearing. We were placed under one hundred dollar bonds which we declined to give and we also declined to be locked up.

Most of our boys had come down and all were heavily armed. I had the least number of guns of any in my belt and I had four six shooters.

Trouble was averted by Gen. Miller of St. Louis, Col. Boyd of Springfield and Bill Fletcher going on the bond. I think this was arranged by the late C. P. Townsley who was in attendance at the Legislature as a Senator from Sedalia. When our trial came off we were all acquitted and the boys scattered to their homes, Turley, McCabe and I returning to Sedalia.


SHORTLY after the completion of the Santa Fe railway through Barton County, in the spring of 1875, that company through its emigrant bureau extensively advertised its lands throughout all sections where it was possible to reach those seeking new homes, and this literature was scattered broadcast over sections of Russia and agents were stationed in New York to meet and guide them to this locality. By these means a large proportion of the present population of Barton County were induced to settle and improve the lands to their present state of productiveness, and became factors in making this county what it is today. That these people had long been in search of a land in which to make their homes is proven by their past history which is that in 1802 their ancestors emigrated from Germany to Russia on an agreement with the Empress of Russia that they were to make their own laws and govern themselves in a limited way for ninety-nine years; be exempt from military duty and be free in religious observances. When their descendants

Previous Section | Transcriber's Index: A-B, C-F, G-K, L-N, O-S, T-Z | Next Section