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. 61

Elk Creek, township 4, range 1, the south 1/2 of township 3 range 1 and a strip one mile wide, the whole length of the townships west of range 1.

At the elections held in the above named precincts in April, the following township officers were elected: Farmington township — Edwin Enoch, trustee; John Swan, clerk; Francis McNulty, treasurer; Edwin Enoch, justice of the peace; D. S. Oliver, justice of the peace; Z. P. Rowe, constable; R. Swan, constable; E. Enoch, road commissioner. Grant township — P. P. Way, trustee; John W. Cory, treasurer; W. Hardaker, clerk; Thomas Eckert, justice of the peace; R. Hodges, justice of the peace; H. Smock, constable; J. G. Tuthill, constable. Republic township — G. H. Jackson, trustee; J. H. Frint, clerk; John Robins, treasurer; James E. VanNatta, justice of the peace; Joseph Myers, justice of the peace; H. A. Meade,constable; G. W. Wilcox, constable. Elk Creek township — John Manning, trustee; W. H. Willoughby, clerk; G. S. Willoughby, treasurer; Reuben James, justice of the peace; John Jarrett, constable; Marion Harper, road commissioner. Scandia precinct held no election. This was the first election for township officers after the organization of the county.

At a meeting of the Board held April 9th, 1869, William Milburn and H. A. Cheney were appointed as assistant school examiners, being the first appointments of the kind in the county, B. F. Sayler being at the time County Superintendent.

PLEASANT HILL, July 5th, 1869.

Board of commissioners met; quorum present. At this meeting a tax of ten mills on the dollar was levied on the taxable property of the county for a general fund. This was the first tax levy made in the county. The total valuation for that year was:

Real Estate $ 5590 00.
Personal Property 25620 10.
Total $3 1210 10.
62 History of Republic County.

And the amount of taxes thereon for state, county and school purposes was $801.61. The largest individual taxpayer on personal property for that year was C. M. Way, of Grant township, who paid $63.38 on a valuation of $1950.

August 22nd, 1870, the county officers, with the exception of probate judge were ordered to remove all books, papers and records pertaining to their respective offices, to Belleville within twenty days of the order. This order was rescinded September 6th, and the time extended until the first Monday in October, 1870, when for the first time the county records were to be found at the present county seat. These records were very meager and consisted of the minutes of the Board of Commissioners and the tax rolls of 1868 and 1869.

The county clerk's office was on the second floor of a small wooden building on the southwest corner of the public square, the lower floor being occupied by Dr. J. C. Griffith as a drug store. The county treasurer's office was in a general store kept by Dixon & Bowling on the present site of the Hardy block, Captain A. Shaw, being deputy county treasurer.

In the spring of 1871, the county clerk's office was moved into a small wooden building about 14x16 feet, on the south side of the square, about where J. M. Doyle's furniture store now stands. This building was occupied jointly by the county clerk and the clerk of the district court. The register of deed's office was in the store of Vantrump & Haliowell, the present site of the State bank, Vantrump being deputy register of deeds. The sheriff's office, county attorney's office and the office of the probate judge were anywhere these officers could be found, sometimes in town, but more frequently in the country. The old stone school house was built in the summer and fall of 1871, and soon after its completion, the second story, all in one room, was rented by the county for county offices at $200 per annum, the right of holding church services therein being reserved by the school board.

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The county officers remained here until the completion of the first court house, which is described in another chapter.



As stated in a previous chapter, Gov. Crawford named Pleasant Hill, in school Dist. No. 2, as the temporary county seat. This location was on the N 1/2 of SE 1/4 section 18, in Jefferson township, the land now being owned by W. P. Peake.

At the election in 1869, the permanent location of the county seat was voted on with the following result:

Belleville 59
New Scandinavia 42
SE 1/4 section 17, town 4, range 1 4
Salt Marsh 1

Belleville having received a majority over all, was declared the permanent county seat. This election was, without doubt, honestly conducted and fairly expressed the wishes of the voters of the county.

At a meeting of the Commissioners, held at Pleasant Hill, January 3rd, 1870, after transacting some business, on motion, the Board adjourned to meet at Belleville in case the court house was finished; if not, to meet at the residence of P. P. Way, county clerk. Pursuant to adjournment, the Board met at Belleville, April 4th, 1870, being the first time they met here in an official capacity. After appointing J. H. Frint chairman pro tem, adjourned to meet at the residence of P. P. Way, in Grant township, April 8th, the court house in Belleville not being completed.

The court house here alluded to, was the little log school house built on the east side of the public square, in

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the summer of 1870. There is no record of any business being transacted at the meeting held April 8th.

The next meeting of the Board at Belleville was July 2nd, 1870, at which session a petition was presented praying for a new election on the county seat. The petition containing the requisite number of names to meet the requirements of the law, it was ordered that an election be held on the third Tuesday in August; in accordance with the prayer of the petitioners. The election was held as ordered, there being three candidates in the field, — Belleville, Salt City and New Scandinavia, — and the Commissioners met at Belleville, August 20th, to canvass the vote.

The county commissioners at this time were John H. Frint, of Jefferson township, chairman, and a steadfast friend of Belleville; George W. Johnson, of Elk Creek, and Z. P. Rowe, of Farmington. One R. A. Hamill, of Belleville township, kept the minutes of this meeting, he having been appointed deputy county clerk some time previous. Mr. Hamill was an eccentric genius, dividing his time between farming, politics, school teaching and preaching, also being quite partial to Himoe's and Red Jacket bitters. A fairly well educated man, a little careless about his spelling at times, and as a preacher ranked above the average, but his conduct not always harmonizing with his profession, his most ardent admirers never claiming that his religion, at its best ever reached eighteen carats fine.

The following record of the proceedings are given in Mr. Hamil's original and peculiar style:

1. Canvass of Farmington township was called and result declared, for Bellevile, 33 votes; Salt City, 7.

2. Elk Creek township called and result declared, for Salt City, 29; Belleville, 6.

3. Albion township, no votes cast, the citizens of that township not being able to find a voting place.

4. Rose Creek, for Belleville, 17.

5. Salt Marsh precinct called. Result, for Salt City, 3; Belleville, 11; New Scandinavia, 3.

History of Republic County. 65

Returns from White Rock were opened, and on motion of G. W. Johnson, the board refused to count the vote of the precinct for two causes: (1.) The voting precinct was declared illegally formed in that the board had not granted an order for such voting precinct while in session. (2.) There had been an order signed by two members of the board and sent to White Rock without the knowledge of the other member, and without any notification of the fact to the county clerk until five days before the election. (3.) There were no notices of any election posted in the precinct.

These seem to be tolerably fair reasons for rejecting the votes of White Rock, although the vote was heavy and nearly solid for Belleville.

On motion of G. W. Johnson, there was a hearing given to certain parties from White Rock who were legal voters, and an abstract of their evidence of "Frauds Perpetrated" was ordered to be filed in the clerk's office; voted unanimously. The board declared in the acknowledgment of strong evidences of fraud and one case of apparent repeating. On motion for the entire rejection, G. W. Johnson and Z. P. Rowe voted for the motion. J. H. Frint entered his protest against the second clause, declaring his opinion to be that the board had no jurisdiction over the matter, but must simply count out the ballots, and declare the result without regard to the nature of the vote.

6. Scandinavia precinct called. Result, for New Scandinavia, 79.

7. The Republic precinct called. Result, for Belleville, 238; New Scandinavia, 4; Salt City, 1,

Total number of votes polled, 463, of which Bellevile received 305; New Scandinavia, 86; Salt City, 72.

Thus it appears that the Scandinavians were solid for New Scandinavia, the Bellevilleians nearly the same for Belleville, while the denizens of the Marsh divided their strength between the three places.

66 History of Republic County.

On motion of G. W. Johnson, the board ordered that Mr. Baker, Mr. Blankenship, G. Paulson, H. Wallen and Mr. Blunk, be sworn as to evidences of partiality and fraudulent voting. Ordered that an abstract of the evidence be filed in the clerk's office. Board then adjourned until 7 a. m. of the following day.

Board met pursuant to adjournment, and proceeded to discuss the final acceptance or rejection of the poll books from Republic precinct; and, after a tedious attempt at a decision, the board adjourned until one o'clock, at which time Mr. Frint made the following proposition: Throw out all the votes of Republic precinct except 100, and declare the decision on the remaining number of polled votes in the county, or throw out the entire vote of the county as incorrect and fraudulent, and immediately order a new election. After much argument and many attempts at reconciliation of the whole board on one of the points named, Mr. Frint and Mr. Rowe cast their votes for the first proposition — that is, to count 100 votes from Republic precinct and reject the balance.

I suppose this was considered a compromise; yet it located the county seat at Belleville just as effectually as though the entire vote had been counted. I here give the concluding portion of the record in Mr. Hamill's own phraseology, spelling and punctuation:

"Mr. Rowe requested the minutes of the following causes of action in the case and decision of made Considers the poll book alarmingly fraudulent and evidences of partiality and misdemeanor in the action of the judges of election — but thinks his judgment is that certain voters who were legally entitled to the same should be represented and therefore gives his consent to the admission of the 100 votes. Commissioner Johnson declared his desire to record his name against the whole procedure as destructive to the declaration of the popular vote of the people — and that the people could be defended only by an entire and sweeping rejection of the poll books of every precinct

History of Republic County. 67

known to be illegal in any part or parcel of the action of the officers of that election especially where such a glareing inconsistency stood so open to every honest Man."

As before stated, the vote of the county in November, 1868, was 65 votes; in November, 1869, 123 votes; at the county seat election in August, 1870, 463 votes, with Albion and White Rock not counted. This shows a remarkable increase in the voting population, and it is barely possible that this increase may not have been entirely healthy, as we find, the vote of the county at the November election, 1870, with Albion's 30 votes and White Rock's 40 counted, to be 322, or 141 less than were polled at the county seat election. Soon after the result of the county seat election was declared, J. S. Tutton, T. A. Eberhard, and T. C. Smith, judges of the election at Belleville, were politely invited to appear before Thomas J. Eckert, a justice of the peace at Salt Marsh, charged with conduct unbecoming officers and gentlemen and especially as judges of election. In fact it was charged that gross frauds had been committed at the election, that the purity of the ballot box had been invaded, and these officers were charged with complicity in the same. It will be remembered that, at this time, the office of probate judge was vacant, Judge Meyers having resigned some time before; and, in view of the circumstances, it was thought best by the citizens of Belleville, and especially by the prisoners, we suppose, that this vacancy should be filled. Accordingly, A. B. Tutton, as special messenger, was dispatched to Topeka, bearing a petition to Gov. Harvey, asking the appointment of our esteemed fellow citizen, Dr. J. C. Griffith, to this position. It is, perhaps, unnecessary to state that this petition was not largely signed by the citizens of Salt Marsh, but the signatures were probably procured in other portions of the county.

Gov. Harvey acted on the petition at once, granting the same, and the special courier returned just in time to find the Eckert court in the act of committing the prisoners to

68 History of Republic County.

jail. It must be borne in mind that jail accommodations were not as fine in those days as at the present time, and the prisoners were loath to be torn from the bosoms of their families, and incarcerated in a dungeon located in Washington county. Accordingly, the kindly offices of A. F. Heely, who now appeared on the stage, were invoked, a writ of habeas corpus issued by the probate court, and the prisoners brought to Belleville, before Judge Griffith, for trial. Now the scene is changed, no witnesses on the part of the prosecution appear, and when the prisoners are arraigned, the court, no doubt, in the language of one of old, is led to exclaim: "Where are those thine accusers?" But writs of attachment are issued to compel the attendance of the now unwilling witnesses, and, when all was ready, the case was called. A. J. Banta, of Washington county, counsel for the prosecution, addressed the court in substantially the following manner: "While at Salt Marsh and in 'Squire Eckert's court, I thought I had a case; but now the scene is changed, and, with this change of scene, grave doubts arise in my mind as to my ability to convict these prisoners, therefore, if the court please, we desire to very gently intimate to the court that it has our permission to dismiss this suit." There being no opposition to this suggestion, it was acted on, the pipe of peace was passed and smoked, and all parties acquiesced in the decision. Thus it appears that, after a season of considerable excitement, some sectional bitterness, and probably a little tall voting, the county seat was established at Belleville, where it has since immovably reposed, although the question of relocating was again agitated in October and November, 1881, by the circulation of petitions asking the commissioners to call an election for that purpose. Quite a large number of names were secured and some little excitement created.

This agitation was kept up until May, 1882, when the matter was dropped and has not since been talked of.

History of Republic County. 69



The general surface of the county is undulating, a very small per cent being what would be termed bluffy, broken or hilly. The soil on the upland is a rich, black vegetable mould, very fertile and underlaid with a subsoil of porous clay, so that it is well adapted to either wet or dry seasons; the river bottom land is very rich, containing quite a large per cent of sand, together with the usual deposits of bottoms. The creek bottom lands are less sandy and more nearly resemble the upland.

About ten per cent of the land is river and creek bottoms and ninety per cent what is usually termed high prairie. The county is very well watered, there being living streams in nearly every township, the Republican river being the principal one. As a mill stream it is not considered so valuable as many smaller ones, owing to its broad channel, with a bottom of shifting sand. Some of the most desirable land in all Kansas is to be found in its valley. It traverses the entire western portion of the county, the average width of the bottom lands being two miles. White Rock, Beaver and Oak creeks are its principal tributaries from the west, while Otter, Dry, School and other small creeks flow into it from the east; West, Reily, Salt, Coal, East, Upton and Elk creeks, flow south into the Republican river, draining the southeastern portion of the county. Mill and Cherry creeks flow east and Rose creek northeast, out of the county. These streams have numerous tributaries, all of which, with the main streams, are belted with timber from ten to eighty rods in width, consisting of oak, ash, black walnut, hackberry, red and white elm, box elder and cottonwood. Some writers have placed

70 History of Republic County.

hickory in the list, but I do not believe there is a hickory tree in Republic county, at any rate I have never seen one.

About five per cent of the area of the county is natural forest. In some places the larger timber has been cut, and its place is being filled with young oak, ash and walnut trees, which grow with great rapidity. Great attention has been paid to artificial forestry, there being on the first of March, 1901, 2663 acres growing, consisting of walnut, ash, elm, maple and other varieties, all of which grow with wonderful rapidity, and in a few years we will have all the timber needed for fence posts and fuel. Nearly every farm has its artificial grove, which adds greatly to the beauty of the landscape.

These streams are distributed in such a manner as to give more or less timber to every township in the county. Well water is obtained at a depth of from ten to one hundred feet, according to locality, and fine, flowing springs are quite numerous. Notwithstanding all these facts, the country lying west of the 6th principal meridian, of which Republic county forms a part, had, up to the year 1870, borne a bad reputation as to its ability to support a civilized population; and prior to that time a few settlers, who had selected their homes along the streams west of that line, could scarcely say they had done so for the purpose of becoming permanent settlers, a large portion of the country being regarded as a desert, for all practical purposes; and even as late as 1874 it was a debatable question whether the country would not have to be abandoned to the grasshoppers, coyotes, owls and rattlesnakes. But, thanks to the persistent efforts of an active and industrious population, a genial climate and fertile soil, all these questions are now forever set at rest.

Magnesian limestone of most excellent quality is found in large quantities in almost every township in the county. I know of no other country having such an abundant supply of building rock and so large a proportion of tillable land. This rock is of a light gray color, quite soft, easily

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