1901 History of Republic County Kansas

A history of Republic County, Kansas : embracing a full and complete account of all the leading events in its history, from its first settlement down to June 1, '01 ... Also the topography of the County ... and other valuable information never before published. by I. O. Savage.; Illustrated. Published by Jones & Chubbic, Beloit, KS : 1901. 321 p. ill., plates, ports., fold. map ; 23 cm. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward, July 2006.

History of Republic County. 31
The bustle and turmoil and strivings that be,
  Be unknown in the place of interment.

The prince and his palace, the serf and his hut,
  Shall mingle their ashes together;
From dust and to dust is again the decree,
  And not a leaf missed from the heather.

And, at the last page of the records of time,
  When the nations from slumber shall rally,
Then the Pawnee republic shall shine as she stood,
  In her pride, overlooking the valley.
32 History of Republic County.




The first mention we have of Republic county is by the Legislature of 1860, which defined its boundaries and gave it a name. It is so called from its relations to the Republican river, which enters the county near its northwestern corner, flowing a little east of south, leaving the county about eight miles east of the southwest corner. The river received its name by reason of the fact that at one time the band of Pawnee Indians called the "Pawnee Republic" had its principal village and seat of government in its valley. The boundaries of the county, as fixed by the Legislature of 1860, are as follows: Commencing at a point where the sixth principal meridian intersects the base line of the state of Kansas; thence south on said sixth principal meridian to the township line between townships four and five, south; thence west with said township line to the range line between ranges five and six, west of the sixth principal meridian; thence north with said range line to the base line of the state of Kansas; thence east on said base line to the place of beginning. These boundaries have never been changed; and the idea, entertained by some of our citizens, that the county originally embraced a larger area, and that one tier of townships on the south had been detached from Republic and attached to Cloud county, is erroneous. The county is as large to-day as it has ever been, being thirty miles from east to west and twenty-four from north to south, containing seven hundred and twenty square miles, and is located in what is popularly called the "northern tier," immediately south of the fortieth parallel of north latitude and west of the sixth principal merid-

History of Republic County.

Map of Republic County, Kans.

History of Republic County. 33

ian. It is bounded on the north by Thayer and Nuckols counties, Nebraska; on the east by Washington, on the south by Cloud and on the west by Jewell county. It is one hundred and twenty-five miles, on an air line, west of the Missouri river, and ninety miles northwest of the geographical center of the United States.

The following highly interesting account of the location of a townsite in Republic county before any settlement had been made here by white men is a bit of history never before published. Mr. Manning was one of the original members of the Winfield, Cowley County, Townsite Company, organized in January, 1870, and has been a conspicuous figure in the history of Kansas for forty years. He was a State Senator during the session of 1864, and whose district comprised the counties of Marshall, Riley, Washington, Clay, Republic and Shirley, now Cloud, and was the author of an important measure in the interest of Republic county:

WINFIELD, KAN., March 25, 1891.


DEAR SIR: — I am in receipt of your communication of the 24th inst., and note its contents. With pleasure I comply with your request. In the spring of 1860 I was a resident of Marysville, in Marshall county, Kansas, 21 years of age and a land surveyor. Mr. Frank Marshall, who was the founder of Marysville and a conspicuous figure in antebellum days and politics, closely in touch with Buchanan's administration and alive to western development, anticipating the passage of a Pacific railroad bill then pending in Congress, decided to secure possession of a townsite at what should be the focal point of two lines of railroad under the bill. By its provisions one line was to start from the vicinity of the mouth of the Platte river, and the other line was to start from the mouth of the Kansas river, and the the two were to converge to a point within 200 miles of the Missouri river. Congressmen Craig, of Missouri, and Montgomery, of Pennsylvania, were cooperating with Mr. Marshall. The latter outfitted a heavy government wagon drawn by two yoke of oxen, with necessary tools,

34 History of Republic County.

camp outfit, including tent, and employed me to take charge of it and five men to go over to the big bend of the Republican river and select a townsite on suitable ground, which was to be the junction of the two railroads, from which westwardly one line was to be constructed. This was in April of 1860. We drove from Marysville down the Big Blue river to reach what was known as the parallel road, the only road leading to the Republican valley in that vicinity at that time, and on arriving at the Republican river found a big, burly settler named Cloud at or about where Clifton now is. We remained there over night and resumed our travel up the valley on what was known as the Military road. We saw no more settlers nor Indians. I easily found the parallel line, dividing Kansas and Nebraska, for the township and section corners were plainly marked by stones. At the point where the river turns south and extending from the north bank of the stream to the state line a fine, gently sloping plateau offered a beautiful townsite. This I selected and laid off and staked two streets, one running east and west and one running north and south, and in the four angles of these cross streets superintended the laying of the foundations of four log houses and platted a map of a townsite one mile square, to be turned over to Mr. Marshall. I then left the party to complete the buildings and returned on a mule, which I had taken along for my individual use, across the trackless country to Hollenberg station, on the overland stage road, about sixty miles distant. There were no settlers on the route. The party completed the buildings and returned some weeks later by the route they went. There was some travel at that time over the Military road, consisting of teams en route to Oregon and Washington territories. That summer the Indians burned the houses down. The Democratic railroad bill died with Buchanan's administration, and a new bill, with different provisions and commissioners, fostered the living Pacific railroad. At the time I speak of there was considerable good timber at the junction of White Rock creek and the Republican. As I now remember. Sec. 4, Town 1, S. R. 5 west, was the location selected. Tom Tierney and G. L. Manning, a younger brother of mine, were in the party, but I do not now recall the names of the other members of the party. My brother, a boy of 17 years, joined an emigrant train and went to Bakerville, Oregon. I don't now remember what name

History of Republic County.


History of Republic County. 35

Gen. Marshall gave the town site, nor what steps he took to obtain title. Respectfully yours,

Daniel and Conrad Myers were the first white settlers of Republic county, Daniel settling upon the E 1/2 of NE 1/4 and E 1/2 of SE 1/4 of section 1, town 4 south, range 3 west, and Conrad taking W 1/2 of NW 1/4 and W 1/2 SW 1/4 of section 6, town 4 south, range 2 west, where he now resides.

These settlements were made the 28th of February, 1861. The nearest white settlement, at that time, was at Lake Sibley, in Cloud county, which did not prove permanent on account of Indian depredations. Conrad Myers is the only one of the early settlers who did not, at any time, leave the county on account of the Indian troubles, and for more than four weeks during the spring of 1861 was the only white person in Republic county. The nearest postoffice at that time was at Manhattan, eighty miles away; and it is not, perhaps, necessary to state that Mr. Myers did not at that time take the daily papers.

Daniel Myers built the first dwelling house in September, 1861, a comfortable log structure in which he lived during his entire residence in this county. John Myers, a cousin, came with Daniel and Conrad, but did not take up any land. He died the last of April, 1861, being the first white settler who died in the county.

The next settlers after Daniel and Conrad Myers, were David and John Cory, who came and made settlement March 17th, 1862, John Cory taking the W 1/2 NW 1/4 section 18 and the W 1/2 SW 1/4 section 7, town 4, Range 2, in the fall of 1861, and made the first improvements in the county after the two Mr. Myers.

David Cory was born in Cortland county, New York, March 4th, 1807, and died after a long and painful illness at the home of his son, John W., in Grant township, January 3rd, 1893, being 85 years, 10 months and 23 days old.

John W. Cory is still living on the land he selected 40 years ago.

36 History of Republic County.

The next settlers were James VanNatta and Wm. Harshberger; the former settling on the NW 1/2 of section 19, town 3-2, on the tenth day of March, 1862, and the latter on the SW 1/4 of same section and same date.

The next settler was James G. Tuthill, who arrived at what was then known as Salt Marsh, on the tenth of June, 1862, and located on the NW 1/4 of section 28, town 4, south range 2 west.

On the day of his arrival he cut and hauled four logs for the foundation of a house, intending to build at once, but was obliged to return to Jefferson county, Kansas, his former home, on account of the serious illness of his hired man, where he remained until July 1st, when he returned with four men, intending to complete the building of the house as speedily as possible. Again was he disappointed, one of his men being so unfortunate as to have a bug crawl into one of his ears on the night of his arrival; and having no means of removing the same, and fearing the same would prove fatal, necessitated the return of the entire party to Jefferson county. Mr. Tuthill then employed C. M. Way, a resident at that time, of Jefferson county, to come on and complete his house; Mr. Way arriving at the Marsh August 16th, 1862, but finding the country swarming with Indians, returned at once to Clifton, where a small settlement had already been made.

Mr. Tuthill remained in Jefferson county until the latter part of September, 1862, when he again set out for Republic county, bringing his family and two good men as help with him, arriving at the Marsh October 1st, and built that fall two houses of logs, each 18x20 feet.

The winter of 1862-63 was very mild, no snow or rain falling, and little freezing weather, no ice forming thicker than a knife blade. The spring opened very early, and Mr. Tuthill broke ten acres of prairie at the Marsh in February, 1863, and had his garden all made by the 10th of March. He had a splendid garden that year, melons being ripe on the 4th of July. On Sunday after the 4th,

History of Republic County. 37

about 6,000 Indians, principally Pawnees, Iowas and Otoes, camped near Mr. Tuthill's place, and harvested his melons and other garden truck most successfully, but offered no violence to himself or family. After everything on the place had been stolen the chief in command placed a double guard around the garden patch. This action of the chief was very considerate, and highly appreciated by Mr. Tuthill after his property had been stolen.

The same spring a settlement was made on White Rock creek by Mr. Philip Keyser, on what is now known as the Fisher farm. Keyser had been here but two months when the creek overflowed its banks and swept over the bottom to the depth of four feet or more, and continued this way for nearly two weeks. Until very recently the driftwood at the foot of the hills indicated the height of the water. The water in this creek has not been as high since by five feet. Mr. Keyser left as soon as the water fell so he could go, not liking that kind of a drouth.

In the fall of 1863, S. M. Fisher, James Reed and one Clark, a preacher, homesteaded the land now owned by Fisher, Johnson and Lovewell, and remained upon it until the spring of 1864. That spring the Pawnees and Cheyennes had a battle on the town site of White Rock, which resulted in the death of one of the Pawnee braves named Sywasha Spattybat, the first blood known to have been spilled in White Rock township. The presence of large numbers of Indians, and their hostile demonstrations, so alarmed the settlers that they all left, and no further settlement was attempted until the spring of 1866, when Thomas Lovewell and others came back to stay.

But to return to the settlement on Salt Creek. In the fall of 1862, Isaac M. Schooley settled on the NW 1/4 of section 7, town 4 south, 2 west, and made homestead entry No. 54 on the same, January 17th, 1863, and made final proof on the same January 17th, 1868, certificate No. 9.

Daniel Meyers made entry No. 55 on the E 1/2 of NE 1/4 and E 1/2 of SE 1/4 of section 1, town 4 south, range 3 west, on

38 History of Republic County.

the 17th day of January, 1863, and made final proof January 17th, 1868, being exactly five years from the date of his homestead papers, certificate No. 10.

Thus it appears that the homestead entries and final proofs made by Schooley and Meyers were made on the same dates, the land office at that time being located at Junction City.

John Cory made final proof on the W 1/2 of the SW 1/4 of section 7, and the W 1/2 of the NW 1/4 of section 18, town 4 south, range 2 west, with land warrant, on the 5th day of October, 1864, thus becoming the first real estate taxpayer in the county.

The first prairie broken was by Daniel and Conrad Meyers in March, 1861. The population of the county, according to the census of 1861, was 5. In 1862 this number was augmented by the arrival of David and John Cory, James VanNatta and family, making a total of 13 at the close of that year. Rev. R. P. West came to Republic county in October, 1863, and settled on the NW 1/4 of section 18, town 3 south, range 2 west. The entire population of the county at that time was 47. Conrad Meyers paid $2.89 taxes in May, 1864, for the tax of 1863, which was the first paid in the county. The first white child born was Lincoln, son of Daniel and Matilda Meyers, September 15th, 1861.

The first persons married in the county were Sidney S. Way and Madora Tuthill, at Salt Marsh, near the present town site of Seapo. They were joined in the holy bonds by a United Brethren preacher from Nebraska named Pring, in December, 1864. Edward Enoch and a Miss Johnson were the second couple married, this marriage being solemnized by Rev. R. P. West in May, 1865.

The first school district that was laid off or formed was six miles wide and twelve long, embracing all the territory occupied by the first settlers. On the division of this district, by some mistake or other, that part having the first school house, and where the first school was taught, was

History of Republic County. 39

named No. 2, and district No. 1 was formed from territory lying next on the south.

During the war the growth of the county was very slow, scarcely averaging five families a year, the settlement of the country west of the Sixth principal meridian being regarded as an experiment only. The only soldiers from Republic county in the war of the rebellion were Ezra Spencer Cory, son of our late esteemed fellow citizen, David Cory, who enlisted at Ft. Riley as a private in company C, 2d Kansas Cavalry, August 27th, 1863, served a little more than a year, and died at Springfield, Mo., March 9th, 1864, of disease contracted in the service, and Wm. Harshberger, before mentioned, who, from the best information we can get, enlisted soon after leaving the county, and, on the 8th of April, 1865, was commissioned by the President as second lieutenant in the 5th U. S. Volunteers.

As before stated, the nearest post office was at Manhattan, 80 miles from the settlement on Salt Creek, and more than 100 from the settlement on White Rock; and, about twice a month, some one of the settlers made this pilgrimage for the mail, and to procure flour and groceries for the settlement. The mail was brought to the residence of J. E. VanNatta, and from there distributed. This continued until the summer of 1863, when the mail route was extended to Fox village, now called Clifton, 20 miles distant from the nearest settlement in Republic county, and over 50 miles from White Rock. Two years later the line was extended to Elk Creek, now called Clyde. This extension was granted by the government on condition that the settlers pay all the expenses of carrying and handling the mails, which they did for two years, Moses Heller, the first postmaster at Elk Creek, having the contract for the same. The office was kept in a stovepipe hat, the weekly mail never being sufficient to fill the hat half full. In 1868 the line was extended to Salt Marsh, and James G. Tuthill appointed postmaster, this being the first post office established in Republic county.

40 History of Republic County.

The gospel of peace was first proclaimed in Republic county by William Harshberger, a Methodist Episcopal preacher, who came to the county with J. E. VanNatta in March, 1862, and preached his first sermon at Mr. VanNatta's house in April following, to a small congregation, we judge, as the population of the county did not exceed 13 at that time. From what we can learn of the Rev. Mr. Harshberger, we are inclined to the opinion that he was not possessed of a superabundance of piety, his religion probably being of that sort which would not well bear transportation across the Missouri river. His place was soon filled, however, by R. P. West, who commenced preaching in October, 1862, and who has preached more sermons in Republic county than any other man living. Still, his work was not confined to this county alone, but embraced a large scope of country, his circuit being more extensive than is usually assigned to Methodist preachers. As near as we can learn, his circuit was bounded on the north by the Platte river, on the east by the Missouri, on the south by the Kaw, on the west by the Rocky mountains.

John Harris, jr., and James Swan were the first settlers on Mill creek, in the eastern part of the county, locating on section 4, in Richland township, March 5th, 1866, Mr. Harris taking a homestead on the N 1/2 of NW 1/4 of section 4, and Swan filing on the NE 1/4 of the same section. This land was, at that time, within the limits of the old survey of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, their route at that time being up the Republican river, but was changed to the Smoky Hill Route in the summer of that year.

The next settler to arrive in this part of the county was Edwin Enoch, who settled on the NE of section 2, Richland township, in April, 1866. The next were Z. P. Rowe and Jacob Hull, who came the same summer. M. H. Harper, Henry Willoughby, Wm. Oliver and Samuel Elder came in the fall of the same year, Harper making settlement in the north part of Elk Creek township, and

Previous Section | Transcriber's Index | Next Section