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


Cheyenne Township

The first settlers in Cheyenne township were Phillip Smith, Henry Smith and J. G. Hine, who came in 1873. In the following year, 1874, J. G. Lewis and family and A. Golay and family, made a location on Cow creek making a total of four families residing on the creek banks, in that section of the county. In the spring of 1875 C. Frankie settled on section 14 and a man by the name of Miller took up a location on section 30. By the year 1876 nearly all the government land in this township was taken up and among the early settlers not mentioned above may be mentioned the following: J. A. Krum, 1874; Henry J. Gifford, Herman Hesse, N. A. Miller and W. Kilesen, 1875, and the year 1876 saw the arrival of John Machin, W. N. Godren and Henry Smith. Mr. Newcomb was the first resident in the county to take up the raising of thoroughbred stock. This township now has a population of 710.

Cleveland Township

Cleveland township was not organized until long after the early days, that is the really pioneers times were passed. However, it is now one of the good townships of the county and has a population of 305.

Albion and Grant Townships

The first settlement in these townships was made in 1873 by Hugh Henry and John Boyle and they were followed in 1874 by Henry and Putnam White. Those who followed closely with locations in these townships were: Joseph Bahr, D. Linder, Robert Benton, Chas. Chamberlain, Isaac T. Flint, A. Stiver, John Hancock, Carl Wonderlich, Johann Schneider and J. O. C. Rathbun. Blood Creek traverses these townships from the northwest and is said to have derived its name from the fact that after the close of the Mexican war Colonel Doniphan and his troops engaged the Cheyenne Indians in a battle that caused the banks to be spotted with blood which colored the waters for several miles. This is said to have occurred in 1849 and was one of the most terrific Indian battles of those times. These townships are now among the important ones of the county, Grant having a population of 341 and Albion 318.

Early Blood Creek Settlers

Independent Township

The first settlement made in this township was in 1874 by A. C. Schermerhorn, Jacob T. Spring, James Dalziel, Arthur Dougan, Frank Lorence, Gustav Toepke, Geo. W. Arters, Henry Rohlfing and Wm. H. Travis. It is a most productive section of the county and has a population in 1912 of 351.


I CAME from Wisconsin with a colony to Fossell, now called Russell. About sixty persons came out on the first train. us each a business lot and a residence lot.[sic] I think it was about April 15, 1871, at 3 p. m., we landed at Fossell. A section house and a water tank of the K. P. railroad were all the buildings we found there, and these were run by the section foreman. His name was John Cook. Many of the old settlers know him now. Before we got there the Indians killed two of the section men and they were


Captain Ruger and myself were partners. It cost us $20 each to join the colony. That gave buried on what is now Main Street, Russell. We all took homesteads cr pre-emptions and broke up land and planted sod corn, beans, potatoes and other vegetables, but the dry weather set in and hot winds prevailed, and farming was not a success. Some of us heard what a fine valley there was on the Arkansas river. So we made up a small party of men, composed of J. H. Hubbard, E. M. Benedict, John Cook, Edward Swan, Edward Dewey, Art Moses and his father, J. E. Dodge and George Towers. The first day we made Walnut creek, Barton County. There we found the only two settlers of the county. Their names were Mecklem and John Reinicke. We camped that night with them. They told us about the land down the creek and said the A. T. & S. F. R. R. surveyors were coming west laying out the road. It was only completed at that time to Newton. They told us the number of the section they were on, so we very soon knew what section we could locate on. As the odd sections were claimed by the railroad John Cook staked the first claim down the creek, Edward Dewey the next and then J. E. Dodge. Benedict and Swan the next ones in rotation. Hubbard staked the Goforth ranch. The next night we camped at Walnut creek at old Fort Zarah, which had just been abandoned. All the other boys staked claims on the creek or as near as they could. The second morning they said: "George, where did you put your stake?" I told them I had found no place to put it. I said "Let us go up the river and see how it looks." When we got to where Great Bend now stands the whole counttry was covered with buffalo. We killed a buffalo near where the court house now stands. 1 looked around and said to the boys: "Well, you have all taken timber claims, so I will put my stake here for a homestead." As there were so many buffalo around I told them while they had staked timber claims I had staked a stock ranch. My stock soon disappeared. We then started back for Fossell. When we got there we reported uhat we had found and done. In a short time the most of the boys returned to make improvements on their claims. As I was in partnership with Nick German in a blacksmith shop I would not then get away to make my improvements. John Hubbard and Capt. Ruger went into partnership and put up a little above on Hubbard's claim. Capt. Ruger run the store, while Hubbard went into the land business making out filing papers, and sending them to the land office in Salina. I gave him my money and my discharge papers and told him to find out if my stake was on a government section and if so to make out a soldiers homestead. About two months after he came up to Fossell for supplies, when he told me he was sorry he had not made out my homestead papers and that a colony from Quincy, Ill., had jumped my claim and had laid out the town of Great Bend. The ones who located and laid out the town were D. N. Heizer, Geo. Moses, Thos. Stone, Morris, and Murphy, A. S. Allen, Edw. Tyler were the first settlers of the colony. In the month of January, 1871, Capt. Ruger came up to Fossell and said that they had laid out a town about one mile east of Fort Zarah and had named it Zarah City and were going to make a railroad town of it, and wanted me to go down there and start a blacksmith shop and they would give me two lots if I would do so. Next day Capt. Ruger and I started for Zarah City. The captain had taken a claim north of Zarah City, where we stayed all night. Next morning we went over to the city. We found a good sized store in operation, owned by Perry Hodgen and Tike Buckley from Salina. They were the head men of the city. There was a two-story hotel and restaurant owned and run by Dick Strew. A livery stable owned by John Roberts and John Moore, and a saloon owned by Lee Herzigg from Ellsworth, and run by Edw. Martz. They gave me a corner lot next to the livery stable. A stcckman by the name of Jack Jamieson, who had wintered a thousand head of cattle there and drove them in the spring to Montana, said he wanted me to start in business to do his blacksmithing as he had considerable work he wanted done before he started the drive sometime in June. About the first of March, 1872, 1 moved dawn to Capt. Ruger's where both our families lived together. I put up a small shop and had a good trade while it lasted. The A. T. & S. F. R. R. was then completed to Hutchinson. Then Zarah City and Great Bend got to fighting, over the question as to which was to be the railroad town. Great Bend won out and I never will forget the first dance in Great Bend. It was at the Stoneham hotel, run by Thos. Stone. Capt. Ruger and myself furnished the music; I want to say we had a gay old time. Everyone had a jolly good time while at the dance. I met Sid Crane, one of Jamieson's herders. He told me that he had filed on some land about one and one-half miles west of Ellinwood. He had done a little plowing on it and would take five dollars for his rights. I gave him the money and put my homestead papers on it. They had laid out a town at Ellinwood. Capt. Ruger, Joe Howard and I went down and helped lay out the town. The railroad company gave each of us a lot for doing the work. Capt. Ruger and Howard put up a hotel. They gave me the corner lot where the Cyclone store now stands. I bought the adjoining lot for $40. I put up a small shop and did blacksmithing for the settlers and cowboys. As many of the settlers were people of limited means they soon run through with what they had and could not pay for their smithing. I told them I would do their work and they could break up some land for me on my claim and I would allow them three dollars per acre. In that way I got sixty acres under cultivation. I built a small house and had a good well of fine water


and one acre of orchard. The first year I rented it to Jim Wilkinson on shares, each one-half of the produce. We did very well. The next year I rented it to John M. Harris. Each furnished one-half of the seed. I got one-half of the crop of forty acres of wheat which yielded well. The next year I rented to a preacher, Hackensmith. He raised a fine crop of forty acres of wheat which he cut with a header and put it into fine stacks; sixteen acres of roasting ears, when one of the Kansas hail stone storms and blizzards came and destroyed everything I had. Our wheat stack was blown for miles away. The corn and vegetables were all gone when the storm cleared away. I did not have enough left to fill my hat. That sickened me of farming, so I sold out for almost nothing and in 1880 came to Colorado. Although I know now if I had stuck to old Kansas I might be in better circumstances than what I am now in or perhaps I might have been in the pen. My brother, Matt Towers, came to Hoisington since I left Kansas. He has now two hundred acres of land and has made a success of farming, but has had worse luck, losing a good wife, a great deal worse than losing a little old 40 acres of wheat, as I think I might be worse off after all. I made more money in Kansas killing buffalo than I have made in the hills of Colorado hunting gold.


AMID the hurry and bustle of business in the spring of 1872, men did not altogether forget their political duties and privileges and, it being the year of a presidential election, the duty of "saving the country" rested with scarcely less weight on the minds of the pioneers of Barton County than on those nearer the center of civilization and political corruption. Meetings were held by the Republicans in each of the three townships—Lakin, Great Bend and Buffalo—in the month of July, to select members of the Republican central committee. At the meeting in Great Bend A. J. Buckland, who had arrived here a short time before from New York state, was chosen chairman of the first political caucus in Great Bend and probably was first one in the county. The committee thus selected soon after met and organized by electing W. H. Odell as chairman and D. N. Heizer, secretary.

The time of holding the county convention was set. It was to consist of twenty members, five from Lakin township, five from Buffalo township, and ten from Great Bend township. The convention assembled in a building then standing at the corner of the court house square. M. V. Halsey of Lakin was elected township chairman. In addition to the delegates already mentioned, five delegates not in the call were sent down from the colony at Pawnee Rock and claimed admission. An angry discussion arose on the question of admitting them, when a large number of delegates, including the chairman, withdrew from the convention. Those remaining reorganized by electing A. A. Hurd, chairman, and proceeded to nominate a county ticket.

During the campaign of that year—1872—Hon. W. H. Smallwood, candidate for secretary of state; Hon. S. A. Cobb, candidate for congress, and Hon. S. C. Pomeroy, candidate for United States senator, addressed the citizens of Great Bend on the issues of the campaign.

The first political discussion in Great Bend was between G. W. Nimocks, a young lawyer from Iowa, on the Republican side and D. S. Copeland, also a lawyer, from New York, on the side of the Liberals. This discussion took place in the old Holland building which, at that time, stood on the north side of the square. The vote for president in that year was as follows: U. S. Grant, 160; Horace Greeley, 64. The county election was held without much friction and resulted, as shown in the table to be found in another part of this book under the heading of "County Officials of Barton County."

The delegates to the state convention at Topeka that year were: T. S. Morton and G. W. Nimocks; and to the congressional convention at Lawrence, J. B. Howard and Amerine.

During the following winter Barton County was detached from the county of Ellsworth and the Fourteenth judicial district, and became a part of the Ninth judicial district.


(In the following article the following abbreviations are used: Tre—trustee; C—clerk; T—treasurer; J—justice;—Ces—constables.)

Independent township was organized in 1875 and originally comprised all that portion of Lakin township north of a line between townships 18 and 19. The following officers were chosen at the first election held in the fall of that year: Tre., J. L. Bangrover; C., A. C. Schermerhorn; T., J. T. Soring; Jus., H. E. Barngrover and Chas. O. Blennis.

South Bend township was organized in 1876 and comprised all that portion of Great Bend and Buffalo townships south of the river except range 23. The officers chosen at the first election in November of that year were: Tre., Ira Brougher; C., George C. Kinkaid; T., S. S. Mitchell and Jus., Wm. Hood and O. Powell.

Walnut township was organized in 1876 and comprised all that portion of Buffalo township north of the line between townships


18 and 19. The first election was held in November of that year and resulted as follows:

Tre., B. I. Dawson; C., Peter Fox; T., T. Harper; Jus., John Pascoe and H. White; Cos., John Westover and H. Nordmann.

Homestead township was organized in the fall of 1876 and comprised originally all that portion of Great Bend township north of the line between townships 18 and 19. The first election resulted in the election of the following officers: Tre., Marsh Meeker; T., D. B. Linder; C., F. Hall; Jus., J. Humphrey and J. Gere.

Union township was organized in July, 1878, and comprised all that portion of land included in township 16, range 13. The first election held in that year resulted in the selection of the following officers: Tre., B. H. Downing; C., Oliver A. Verity; T., Joseph Weatherby; Jus., Jacob Sessler and A. S. Verbeck.

Pawnee Rock township was organized in 1878, but previous to this, in 1872, it had been made a voting precinct. It comprised township 20, range 15. The election resulted in the selection of the following officers: Tre., Geo. Pool; C., Chas. Lewis; T., Reuben Kemmerling; Jus, Joseph Hannon and James M. Depew; C., Frank Hallowell and W. C. Hatter, ter.

Beaver township was organized in August, 1878, and comprised township 16 of range 12. The first electicn was held in that year and the following officers were elected: Tre., R. Bruce; C., Willis H. Norton; T., P. B. Freeman; Jus., C. Norton and C. W. Hoffmeister.

Cheyenne township was organized in August, 1878, and comprised townships 17 and 18 of range 12. The officers elected were: Tre., C. B. Gillis; C., J. N. Reading; T., Wm. Linder; Jus., Albert Lent and S. S. O. Warren.

Wheatland township was organized in August, 1878, and comprised township 16 of range 14. The officers elected at the first election were: Tre., Chas. Hall; C., E. J. Hatton; T., M. Sauser; Jus., N. S. Hayes and Fred J. Spencer; Ces., Henry J. Whipple and O. T. Shook.

Fairview township was organized in October, 1878, and comprised township 16 of range 15. At the first election held in November of that year the following were chosen as officers of the township: Tre., J. W. Brown; C., D. C. Burrows; T., John Johnson; Jus., Will H. Clark and Henry Webb; Ces., Robert Jordan and W. A. Brown.

Clarence township was organized in October, 1878, and consisted of congressional township 19 of range 15. The first election was held in November of that year and resulted as follows: Tre., M. F. Campbell; C., John W. Slinn: T., L. S. Pursell; Jus,, A. M. Button and T. F. Craig; Ces., J. H. Rhoades and W. H. Allison.

Eureka township was organized in 1878 and comprised township 18 of range 18. The first officers elected in November of that year were: Tre., Frank Patterson; C., John R. Harris ;T., Alex. Dennis; Jus., Aaron P. Jones and James Cummins; C., J. F. Smith and C. Plaisted.

Hayes, Seward, Lincoln and Zion Valley townships were organized in 1878 from the territory that originally was a portion of the unorganized county of Stafford. Hayes comprised congressional townships 22 and 23 of ranges 11 and 12. Seward, which was at first called Warren township, comprised comprised townships 21 and 22 of range 13. Lincoln comprised townships 21 and 22 of range 14; and Zion Valley comprised township 23 of ranges 13 and 14. Later they were all included in the organization of Stafford County. county.[sic]

Grant township was organized in July, 1879, and was composed of township 18 of range 15. At the first election held in November the following were chosen for officers: Tre., Chas. P. Wunderlich; C., John W. Burke; T., C. Cox; Jus., W. M. Butler and C. Ramsier; Ces., Joseph Gleissner and J. W. Brown.

Logan township was organized in July, 1879, under the name of Calumet. In November the name was changed to Logan. It was composed of township 18 of range 11. No election for officers was held in this township, it being governed by the officers of Independent township.

Comanche township was organized in July, 1879, out of territory formerly in Lakin township and was composed of township 20 of range 11 and 12, south of the Arkansas river. The first officers, elected in November of that year were: Tre., J. . Brewer; C., W. H. Grant; T., J. W. Wilson; Jus., J. S. Province and C. Fields; Ces., Noah Province and D. Hagan.

Albion township was organized in July, 1879, and was composed of township 17 of range 14 and the first officers who were selected at the election held in November of the same year, were: Tre., C. G. Smith; C., C. W. McMasters; T., D. W. Linder; Jus., G. L. Murdock and John W. Linder; Ces., Thomas Murphy and Joseph Shields.

Liberty township was organized in October, 1879, and was composed of township 20 of range 14. The first officers were: Tre., Wm. Howerton; C., Wm. Brady; Ces., Milton Mossberger.

The commissioners districts as arranged in 1878 were as follows: First: Independent, Cheyenne, Lakin and Hayes townships; second: Beaver, Union, Homestead, Great Bend, Seward and Zion Valley; third: Wheatland, Fairview, Walnut, Clarence, Pawnee Rook, Buffalo and Lincoln.



By Elrick C. Cole

THE political campaign in Barton County in 18S0 was a warm one and among the various gatherings held that year, the barbecue at Daizeil's grove was, perhaps, the largest political gathering ever held in the county until the advent of the Populist party. At that time the Republican party, locally, was suffering severe defeats and the struggle for delegates from the state to the national convention had intensified party differences. That was the year when the great meeting of Arkansas valley politicians took place in Great Bend and the patriots gatherd from Topeka to Coolidge and fought out the proposition of Grant or Blaine and ended in a draw. The rival candidates for the Republican nomination for representative were A. J. Buckland and D. N. Heizer and a count of the delegates after the holding of the caucuses showed that Dave Heizer was the winner. When this fact was ascertained Buckland declined to have his name used in the convention and after an ineffectual attempt had been made to draw the delegates to some third man, he bolted the nomination of Heizer. Hon. F. A. Steckel of Ellinwood was the Democratic nominee, and the seceeding Republicans nominated P. G. Donewitz, who was prominent in politics at that time, for representative, and Judge Townsley for attorney against G. W. Nimocks. This made a three-cornered fight and at that time every vote counted. It must be remembered that in 1880 we had no railroads in this county except the main line of the Santa Fe. Ellinwood and Pawnee Rock were the only points which could be reached save by wagon road, but one could travel angling then from the time you crossed the Walnut until the northeast or the northwest corner of the county was reached. Of course there were no towns aside from those on the railroads, but the rural population was almost, if not fully, as large as now, and an effort was made to reach nearly every school house in the county to hold a meeting. Up in Wheatland was Frank Millard, Charles Hall, Smed Wilkinson and others. In Albion W. H. Rice, Captain Peck, Murdock, Dave Gray and others. Over in Fairview lived Kirk Barrows, John W. Brown and his son; over in Independent, which then included Cleveland township, were Al Schermerhorn, Jude Sping, Jim Daiziel and Charles Montgomery and the Dugans. In Buffalo, Levi Gunn, always true and faithful, the Everetts and L. H. Link and in Pawnee Rock were the Bowmans, Tom Brewer, Aaron Garverick and many whose names I do not now recall. Ellinwood was the Democratic stronghold and was only canvassed quietly but the rest of the county was alive with Republican meetings. I remember there was a sod school huse called Alliance school house over near where Claflin now stands, where a large meeting was held. The crowning rally, however, was held at Dalziel's grove, the clans gathering from all the surrounding country. Great preparations were made for this meeting and the grove was filled with people. There was roast ox and everything else in the eating and drinking line in abundance. Among the speakers was a man named Minear, from Illinois. He was interested in the campaign by reason of the fact that his nephew, named Anderson Williams, at Pawnee Rock, was the candidate for commissioner from the Third district. Minear was a powerful speaker on the common homespun order and he reached the people in great shape. The crowd was so large that there were two speakers talking at the same time in different parts of the grove. I can see the old man now standing in a header barge, tall, angular and bony. His powerful voice and plain talk pleased his hearers and he received a hearty ovation at the close of his speech. There was a good glee club present and between speeches it sang popular campaign songs. It was way in the night before the meeting closed and many camped in the grove until the next day before returning to their homes. This was one of the most successful political meetings ever held in this county, and, while feeling was high, there was the utmost good nature and hearty enjoyment of the occasion. It was a day of pleasant meetings for people who seldom met as the means of travel were few and far between, and much slower than now. The place was ideal and the day a perfect one.


THERE is no single institution that has more to do with the development of a new county than the newspapers. People look to a newspaper for a true story of what one may expect to find in a community or settlement where the paper is published.

Barton County has been fortunate in having had gentlemen in the newspaper business who have done a great deal of work in helping to bring new blood and energy to the county, as well as capital, essentials that are so needful in a new country that is being developed

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