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. 81

scarcely shaken, makes it evident that the force — whatever it was — descended almost perpendicularly and as suddenly rose again.

The last visit of this kind was on Sunday May 6th, 1900. This storm struck the residence of J. C. Roberts in Norway township, shortly after 7 p. m., completely destroying it, then rose taking a northeast course passing within easy view of Belleville, descending again about 7:30 p. m. upon the residence of John Pachta, about 4 1/2 miles east of town, almost literally demolishing it. Mrs. Pachta was the only person about the premises at the time, and on the approach of the storm which was heralded by a loud roaring sound, had the presence of mind to take shelter in a cave in the rear of the cellar, thus saving her life. The storm after doing about all the damage it could at Pachta's passed on to the northeast, moving the barn of Tony Broct but slightly, next striking the farm of Tony Lesovsky, where the storm seemed to vent all its fury, tearing up and carrying away the buildings, leaving the place divested of everything looking like a home; apple trees from six to eight inches in diameter were torn from the ground and carried away, leaving large holes in the earth where they had stood. Mr. Lesovsky and family on the approach of the storm took shelter in the cave all escaping injury excepting Mr. Lesovsky, who had a finger crushed in closing the door of the cave.



A proposition to extend aid to the Central Branch of the Union Pacific Railway in the sum of $100,000 bearing interest at seven per cent., and running thirty years, conditioned that said railway company shall extend its line from Waterville to the center of Republic county on or be-

82 History of Republic County.

fore July 4th, 1873, and build and maintain a depot at said place, and to further construct said railway and have the cars running thereon to the Republican valley in said county of Republic, on or before the 31st day of December, 1873, was voted on in the several voting precincts of said county on the 7th day of October, 1871, with the following result:

Albion 15 10 | Norway 0 42
Fairview 41 14 | Richland 36 1
Farmington 42 4 | Scandla 5 78
Freedom 94 0 | Rose Creek 3 38
Elk Creek 5 32 | Union 22
Grant 11 47 | White Rock 13 54
Lincoln 4 19 | Belleville 111 1
Liberty 1 22 |  

      | Total 403 383
Majority in favor of the proposition, twenty.

This was the first railroad bond election held in the county. No bonds were issued as the railroad company failed to comply with the terms named in the proposition, greatly to the disappointment of the people of the county.

At a called meeting of the citizens of Republic county held at Belleville, April 26th, 1878, for the purpose of taking into consideration the proper steps to be taken to secure a railroad, the following named persons were chosen as a committee to visit Kansas City to confer with the officers of the Kansas Pacific railroad and the Kansas City Board of Trade in relation to railroad matters: namely, Hon. W. H. Pilkenton. I. O. Savage, Ed. E. Chapman, Dr. W. H. Woodward, William Haskett, Col. D. C. Gamble, M. Patrie and H. S. Stone. All the members of this committee, with the exception of Col. Gamble, left for Kansas City the following Monday and were successful in their mission, securing from the Kansas Pacific Railway Company the following proposition which was submitted to the Board of County Commissioners in special session, June 4th, 1878. The company proposed to extend its line from Clifton northwest, entirely through the county, to build and maintain a depot within one mile of the then-thriving town of Seapo, one as near as practicable to the

History of Republic County. 83

city of Belleville, one as near as practicable to the mouth of White Rock Creek, and one at the then-prosperous village of White Rock, with flag stations at convenient intermediate points, conditioned that the county subscribe to the capital stock of said railway in the sum of four thousand dollars per mile, but not to exceed in the aggregate one hundred and thirty thousand dollars, the bonds to run thirty years at eight per cent, the road to be completed to Belleville by the first day of January, 1879, and through the county by January 1st, 1880. On presentation of a proper and lawful petition, the Board of Commissioners ordered a special election held July 13th, one thousand dollars having been deposited by the company with county treasurer, Crummer, to defray the expenses of the election. The vote was canvassed July 16th, and the following result announced:

Aiblon 4 59 | Liberty 41 13
Beaver 0 71 | Lincoln 64 37
Belleville 161 13 | Norway 3 83
Big Bend 26 32 | Richland 11 87
Courtland 0 116 | Rose Creek 15 84
Elk Creak 18 81 | Scandia 15 135
Fairview 57 40 | Union 48 63
Farmlngton 30 71 | Washington 47 21
Freedom 126 4 | White Rock 2 95
Grant 108 4 |

Jefferson 35 9 | Total 850 1126

And thus what seemed to me at the time, to be one of the best propositions ever submitted by any railroad company to the voters of Republic county, and after a lapse of nearly a quarter of a century, my views on this question remain unchanged, was defeated by a majority of two hundred and seventy-six. My reasons for entertaining these views are, that at that time Seapo was quite an important trading point, and, had the road been built and a depot established there, it would have held and constantly increased its trade, and by this time, in my opinion, would have been a city of fifteen hundred people. On the contrary the town went to decay, has been wiped off the map, and the best energies of the citizens of two townships of this county have been devoted to building up a town in an

84 History of Republic County.

adjoining county, which, without their support and patronage, would have been today only a flag station. And Belleville, with a population of two thousand, would have had at least twice that number, but, worst of all, was the fate of White Rock, which, for years, was by far the most prosperous town in Republic county, and which, had this road been built, would have remained so, being situated in the midst of one of the most beautiful and fertile valleys in the state of Kansas, the settlement in its neighborhood being rapid, and without any particular design or effort a town of considerable importance grew up here, having its full complement of establishments devoted to trade and the mechanical pursuits and the best water power in the county, which at one time was utilized by a saw and grist mill, both of which did a flourishing and thriving business, but like Seapo, it went into a decline and perished from the earth, all by reason of failing to secure a railroad which was easily within its reach had its citizens been governed by good sense and sound reasoning, instead of allowing selfishness, jealousy and prejudice to control their action. The voters of White Rock claimed that in order to further their interests, they must oppose the bonds, but how any man or set of men can further their interests by cutting their own throats, is a proposition I have never been able to understand. Had White Rock, Big Bend and Courtland given reasonably fair majorities for the bonds they would have carried, the road would have been built and Republic county, instead of a population of eighteen thousand, would have had today at least twenty-five thousand, with White Rock as its leading city.


There are seven lines of railroads in the county having a total mileage of one hundred and forty miles, exclusive of side tracks, being exceeded by only fourteen counties in the state. The first road to build into the county was the Atchison, Republican Valley & Pacific, now known as the Missouri Pacific. This road enters the county on the

History of Republic County. 85

south line of section thirty-three, Norway township, and runs in an air line to Scandia, which place was first reached by trains December 24th, 1878. This road runs up the Republican valley and has a mileage of twenty-six and thirty-five hundredths miles in Republic county, connecting us with Kansas City and St. Louis, via Atchison. The stations along this line in the county are Norway, Scandia, Sherdahl, Republic and Warwick. The assessed valuation of this road in 1901 was $116,375. The next line to build was the Republican Valley branch of the Burlington & Missouri river railroad, built in the summer of 1880. This road enters the county near the northwest corner, running east along our northern border, with twelve and seventy-one one-hundredths miles of track in the county, one station, Byron, being located on the state line, three others being located just across the line in Nebraska. The assessed valuation of this line for 1901, was $86,098. The next line was a branch of the B. & M., known as the Chicago, Nebraska and Kansas branch of eighteen and thirty one one-hundredths miles which enters the county on the east line a little north of the center, runs southwest and leaves the county about ten miles west of the southeast corner, these two lines furnishing direct communication with Missouri river points on the east and with Denver on the west. The stations along this line in Republic county are Haworth, Cuba and Wayne. This road was built in the summer and fall of 1884. Its assessed valuation in 1901 is $83,449. The Junction City and Fort Kearney extension of the Union Pacific from Junction City to Belleville was built the same year, and it was a race between this road and the one last mentioned to see which should get to doing business first. The first regular passenger train over this road to reach Belleville arrived on Saturday, November 29th, 1884, and received a hearty welcome by the citizens of the city and adjacent country assisted by the Belleville Cornet Band, construction and freight trains having been running some two

86 History of Republic County.

weeks. W. R. Wilbert, for thirty years a railroad engineer, and at present engineer at the city water works, ran the first train into Belleville November 15th, 1834. The Union Pacific depot was completed and ready for occupancy December 1st, 1884. The stations on this line in Republic county are Talmo and Belleville, the latter being the terminus. The mileage in the county is thirteen and thirty-one one-hundredths miles, and the assessed valuation for 1901 is $73,706. The Chicago Kansas and Nebraska line, now known as the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific was built in 1887, reaching Belleville in September of that year. The first regular passenger train to leave Belleville over this line was on the morning of Sunday, September 18th, 1887, for Fairbury, Nebraska, returning at seven in the evening. This line has two branches, one from Kansas City enters the county in Elk Creek township, on the SE 1/4 of section 33, runs northwest to Belleville; the stations on this branch are Agenda and Cuba. The other enters the county on section 12, in Albion township; runs southwest to Belleville, where the two unite and form the main line to Denver. The stations on this line are Narka and Munden. On the Main line west the stations are Beileville, Rydal, Scandia and Courtland. The mileage on both lines is fifty-four and ninety-one-one hundredths, and the assessed valuation for 1901 is $421,336. A branch of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, known as the Chicago, Kansas and Western, enters the county about four miles east of the southwest corner; runs northwest and leaves the county about the center of the west line. This is a very important line of road and is very popular with the farmers, feeders and shippers of the southwestern portion of the county, affording a good outlet to the south and southwest for their immense surplus of agricultural products. The mileage of this line is thirteen and forty-eight one-hundredths and the stations are Kackley and Courtland. The assessed valuation for 1901 is $64,420. The road was built in 1888. The seventh line is

History of Republic County. 87

known as The Pacific Railroad in Nebraska, Jewell branch, one mile in length, extending west and north from Warwick. The assessed valuation of this road in Republic county for the year 1901 is $4,245. In addition to the valuations above enumerated, the Pullman Car Company were assessed $5,723; The Burlington and Missouri River Telegraph Company, $2,168; Western Union Telegraph Company, $8,225. Total assessed valuation for 1900, including the Pullman Car and telegraph lines, $849,196. There are sixteen stations in the county and four others in Nebraska within a half mile of our northern border, thus affording facilities unsurpassed by any county in Kansas for shipping our immense products to a ready market, the stations being so distributed that there is not a farm house in the county at a greater distance than eight miles from a railroad depot.

As shown in another chapter the entire bonded indebtedness of the townships through which these same lines of road run amount to a fraction less than $722 per mile.



On the evening of February 20th, 1871, in pursuance of notices previously published, a meeting of the citizens of Republic county was held in the log school house on the east side of the public square, for the purpose of considering the propriety of organizing a county agricultural society. Of this meeting J. W. Raynolds was chairman, and I. O. Savage, secretary. At this meeting it was decided unanimously to organize such a society, and a committee of five chosen to draft constitution and by-laws, with instructions to report in one week. The following named persons composed the committee: I. O. Savage, chair-

88 History of Republic County.

man, J. C. Griffith, R. P. West, A. Shaw and H. G. Dow. This was the first step ever taken in Republic county, or in any other county in Kansas west of the Sixth principal meridian, to organize an agricultural society. The committee reported constitution and by-laws in accordance with instructions, which report was unanimously adopted and officers elected for one year, as follows: President, Albert Odell; vice president, R. P. West; secretary, I. O. Savage; treasurer, John M. Ryan; and an executive committee of five, consisting of W. S. Latham, J. C. Griffith, J. W. Raynolds, W. P. Peake and H. G. Dow was also chosen; and thus the Republic County Agricultural Society became fully organized, being the pioneer agricultural society in Kansas, west of the Sixth principal meridian.

A fair was held the same year, commencing on the 4th day of October, two miles east of Belleville, on the SE 1/4 of SE 1/4 of section 36, in Freedom township. These grounds were considered as only temporary, and were fenced with a few posts and a rope. However, a start was made, and everything seemed to work favorably for the society. Sixty-five entries were made, and the premiums, to the amount of $44.75, were awarded and paid. The receipts from all sources were $48.20, and the total expenditures $51.95, leaving a balance of $3.25 against the society. These figures now look small, but it was a beginning and a start in the right direction. The settlers on the high prairie were just coming in, very little of their land was in cultivation, very few of them having raised any crops the previous year; there was but little stock in the county, no speed ring nor fast horses, consequently the material for making a very attractive display was quite limited.

At the annual meeting in February, 1872, for the election of officers, A. Odell was re-elected president, R. P. West, vice-president; I. O. Savage, secretary; and J. M. Ryan, treasurer; and an executive committee of seven, as follows: John R. Bowersox, A. Kindy, Joseph Boothe, J. E. VanNatta, W. P. Peake, Frederick Collins, Sr., and

History of Republic County. 89

A. B. Wilder. The rules, regulations and premium list for the second annual fair were printed by Wilder & Kirby at the Belleville Republic office, in a neat pamphlet of twenty-four pages, each alternate page containing advertisements and notices by the business men of Belleville and Scandia, which paid all the expenses of printing. The following card, by George Morningstar, were remembered by many of the older settlers of Scandia, probably contains more truth than is usually found in the advertisements of institutions of a similar character:

Scandinavia, Kansas.


This notorious establishment takes pleasure in notifying the public generally that it is fully prepared (having on hand a large stock especially selected for the trade) to supply at exhorbitant rates by the pint, half-pint and drink, to be drank on the premises or off the premises, by man, woman or child, preacher, lawyer or doctor, black-leg and bummer, the most diabolical rot-gut whiskey ever vended to the public.

Special mixtures provided for church members, put up in small bottles, labled medicine, and deposited for their accommodation ten steps south of the southwest corner of the saloon.

Candidates for office supplied at wholesale rates.

Customers from Belleville will have their drinks watered properly.

Beastly drunkenness insured in three drinks. Family ruin in six months. Free fights are an attractive feature of this institution. In fact, we are prepared to sink the morality of the whole neighborhood in a few gulps.


It is scarcely necessary to add that the above was the means of securing a liberal patronage from customers from the vicinity of Belleville.

The second annual fair was held on the third and

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fourth days of October, 1872, on lands proposed by J. C. Griffith and R. W. VanDyke as permanent fair grounds of the society. These grounds were about one-half mile northeast of Belleville, and comprised thirty acres, fifteen acres off the NW corner of the SE 1/4, and fifteen off the NE corner of the SW 1/4 of section 35, Freedom township, and the right of way sixty feet wide leading to the same, both quarters being homestead land. The understanding then was that the society should take possession of these grounds, enclose the same with a hedge, grade a track for trials of speed, dig a well, erect a building suitable for a floral hail, and otherwise improve the grounds as the society saw proper, in consideration of all which Messrs. Griffith and VanDyke were to convey these grounds to the society in fee simple, whenever they could legally do so, for a price to be determined by disinterested parties. Unfortunately for the society and for Republic county to day, all of these conditions were not complied with. This fair was one of the best ever held in the county, everybody seeming interested and working for the general welfare of the society. Two hundred and six entries were made, cash premiums to the amount of $185 were awarded and paid, and the receipts exceeded the expenditures by $21.66. At this fair, liberal private premiums were offered and paid by Gardner Bros., Josiah Kindt and A. O. Kindy.

On the 7th day of December, 1872, A. B. Wilder was elected a delegate to represent the society in the State Board of Agriculture.

At the annual meeting in February, 1873, for the election of officers, the following persons were chosen: President, R. P. West; W. H. Pilkenton, vice president; I. O. Savage, secretary; and V. Vantrump, treasurer.

The third annual fair was held on the society's grounds, October 1st, 2d and 3d, and a fine exhibit made. There were two hundred and nineteen entries, and over $200 in premiums paid. This year a building 20x30 feet was erected for a floral hall, at an expense of 240, a well

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