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. 91

dug and walled, hedge rows broken, and a large amount of money expended on the track. The receipts, although large, were not sufficient to meet these expenses, and a balance of $106.92 was found against the society.

The officers elected for 1874 were R. P. West, president; O. A. Gardner, vice-president; I. O. Savage, secretary; and V. Vantrump, treasurer. A fair was held September 16th, 17th and 18th, but, this being what was called grasshopper year, the entries were few, the attendance meagre, and the receipts small.

In 1875 the following named persons were elected officers of the society: A. B. Wilder, president; A. J. Beers, vice-president; V. Vantrump, secretary; and J. A. Mosher, treasurer. The fifth annual fair was held September 28th, 29th and 30th. Receipts from all sources, $279.40; expenditures, $274.57; leaving a balance in favor of the society of $4.83.

The officers for 1876 were I. O. Savage, president; J. Kindt, vice-president; A. B. Wilder, secretary; and J. A. Mosher, treasurer. No fair was held this year.

At the annual meeting in 1877, the following persons were elected officers: J. Kindt, president; Milton Hancock, vice-president; Adam Dixon, secretary; J. A. Mosher, treasurer. The sixth annual fair was held September 20th, 21st and 22d, 1877. The weather was fine, the attendance large, and the receipts larger than in any former year.

The officers elected for 1878 were: Wm. Hughes, president; A. J. Beers, secretary; I. O. Savage, treasurer. The seventh annual fair was held September 24th, 25th and 26th. The attendance was not large, but the receipts from all sources exceeded expenses by $79.25.

On the 29th day of October an application was made by the treasurer of the society to the chairman of the board of county commissioners, asking him to issue an order on the treasurer of the county for the sum of money to which the society was entitled from the county, under

92 History of Republic County.

section eight of chapter 37, of the laws of 1872. This application was accompanied by a certificate, attested by the president and treasurer of the society, under oath, in strict conformity with the law above referred to. The chairman declined to grant the application, and did not treat the same with that consideration which the officers of the society thought its importance demanded; consequently, a writ of mandamus was applied for and obtained from the district court, citing the chairman to appear at the April term of said court; to show cause, if any he had, why he did not sign the order as asked for in the application.

Everything had worked harmoniously down to this time, the society having had no trouble in getting the assistance from the county to which it was entitled under the law above referred to. Lars C. Hansen, of Scandia, was at this time chairman of the board of commissioners and he objected, and objected vigorously to signing the order, saying he would never do, so long as his name be Hansen. Strange as it may seem, all the attorneys in the county at the time took sides with Mr. Hansen and freely expressed the opinion that the society could not recover, this being the first and only case I call to mind when all of them were wrong at the same time. Of course, attorneys are expected to be wrong half of the time, but this case seems to have been an exception and not the rule. The case came on for hearing, able counsel appearing on both sides. A long and tedious trial ensued, and the jury, after being out twenty minutes, returned a verdict in favor of the society, as under the instructions from the court it could not well do otherwise, as Judge Wilson in his charge clearly intimated that if any other verdict was returned he would set it aside. After mature deliberation on the part of the society, it was thought best, under existing circumstances, the society being compelled to resort to the courts to obtain the rights to which it was entitled under the law, to sell the building on the fair ground, pay off all indebted-

History of Republic County. 93

ness, surrender the charter, and let the Republic County Agricultural Society be one of the things of the past, which was accordingly done, and it is a lamentable fact that the banner agricultural county of Northwestern Kansas has no agricultural society today.

We do not state the above facts with the design or desire of censuring any one, as all parties may have acted for what they considered to be the general welfare of the county. It has, however, been clearly demonstrated that it is much easier to find fault with, break up and destroy such an organization than to organize one, and put it in successful operation. On this point, we are satisfied there can be no dispute. The advisability of reorganizing the society was talked of from time to time through the medium of the county papers and a few feeble and unsuccessful attempts to do so were made, the nearest approach to it being in August, 1887, when a few meetings were held, a charter procured, constitution and by-laws adopted and officers elected. The officers chosen were: E. M. Crummer, president; J. A. Mosher, vice-president; I. O. Savage, secretary; Wm. McCullough, treasurer; and who still have the honor, if any there be, of holding these offices, as their successors have never been elected.

This was to be a joint stock company with a capital of $10,000 divided into 2,000 shares of $5 each, only a small portion of which was subscribed.


As early as 1879 it had been demonstrated that fruit of almost every variety could be successfully grown in Republic county. In pursuance of a call a public meeting was held at the court house in Belleville October 11th, 1879, having for its object the organization of a county horticultural society. Of this meeting O. A. A. Gardner was chosen chairman, and W. P. Peake secretary.

A committee, consisting of N. T. VanNatta, Ezra Powell and J. A. Mosher was appointed to draft a consti-

94 History of Republic County.

tution and by-laws for such an organization, after which the meeting adjourned to the first Saturday in December.

Met pursuant to adjournment when the committee reported a constitution, which after receiving careful consideration, was adopted, and the following officers were elected to hold until the regular annual meeting as provided in the constitution: O. A. A. Gardner, president; J. A. Mosher, vice-president; W. P. Peake, secretary; Ezra Powell, treasurer; and N. T. VanNatta, Adam Dixon and Dr. Henry Patrick, trustees.

J. A. Mosher was elected delegate to represent the society at the annual meeting of the State Horticultural Society to be held at Holton on the 16th, 17th and 18th days of December, 1879.

The organization, the simplest part of all the work, was now complete, but to keep the society alive and in working order required great effort on the part of its friends and promoters, the most zealous of whom many times, almost yielded to discouragement, however, for some time quite a lively interest was taken and much useful information disseminated.

The third meeting was held at the court house March 3d, 1880, at which time Honorable N. T. VanNatta was, by a unanimous vote made a life member in consideration of five dollars, donated by him to the society. The following is a complete list of the members at this time: O. A. A. Gardner, president; J. A. Mosher, vice-president; W. P. Peake, treasurer; John Fulcomer, Dr. H. Patrick, Adam Dixon, John E. Hallowell, E. M. Crummer, Edson G. Haven, N. T. VaNatta, Chauncey Perry and Selwyn M. McBride.

The next meeting was held May 4th, 1881, at which time it was decided to hold the annual meeting on the third Saturday of December of each year, and the semi-annual meeting in June, at such date and place as may be determined at the annual meeting. The second board of officers elected were: W. P. Peake, president; John Ful-

History of Republic County. 95

comer, vice-president; O. A. A. Gardner, secretary; J. A. Mosher, treasurer. The society received its charter from the secretary of state July 14th, 1883.

It was not until 1886 that Republic county commenced to attract attention as one of the leading fruit producing counties of Kansas. Quite a number of orchards of first planting had by this time come into bearing, being from ten to twelve years old, and this being a fine fruit year the society decided to make an exhibit at Topeka in the fall of that year.

John Fulcomer and Henry Passmore were chosen a committee to represent the society and take charge of the exhibit. The fruit was selected with great care from the best orchards in different parts of the county and placed on exhibition in competition, not only with older counties of Kansas and Missouri, but with the world. The committee returned with nine first premiums on best plates of apples, four second premiums on best plates, and third premium for best and largest display by counties, the premiums being $1 each for best plates, 50 cents each for second best plates, and $25 for third largest and best display, aggregating $36, which more than defrayed the expenses of the exhibit. Feeling encouraged by this excellent showing it was decided to try again when the proper time arrived. 1887 was also fruitful, two fairs being held in the state, one at Bismark Grove and the other at Topeka.

J. A. Mosher and Dr. H. Patrick were the committee to take charge of the exhibit at both places, being awarded the second premium for best and largest display of fruit at Bismark, the amount of the premium being $75. Were not successful at Topeka, the fruit having been handled considerably and reshipped did not present so fine an appearance as in the first place. After paying all expenses of the exhibit at both places a balance of $9.10 was left in favor of the society.

As before stated attention had been directed to Republic county by its excellent exhibit at Topeka in 1886, so

96 History of Republic County.

much so that the State Horticultural Society decided to hold its seventeenth semi-annual meeting at Belleville on June 27th and 28th, 1887. An able, cordial and hearty welcoming address was made to the society by Rev. Geo. W. Wood, then pastor of the M. E. church, which was appreciateingly responded to by Judge L. A. Simmons, of Wellington, in behalf of the society. The semi-annual address of Geo. Y. Johnson, president of the state society, was an able effort, full of encouragement, and was well received. Leading horticulturists from different parts of the state were in attendance, including Fred. Wellhouse, the champion apple grower of Kansas. Interesting and instructive papers were read by Judge Simmons, Hon. Martin Allen, of Hayes City, Dr. Charles Williamson, of Washington, and A. B. Warner, of White Rock, and instructive addresses by Fred. Wellhouse and others.

The next meeting of the society was held at the office of Cooper, Meek & Cooper December 22d, 1888, it being the regular annual meeting, when the following officers were elected for the ensuing year: W. M. Moore, president; J. M. Williams, vice-president; I. O. Savage, secretary; J. A. Mosher, treasurer. From this time the interest in the society began to wane and no meetings were held until June 28th, 1890, at which the attendance was small, and it became painfully evident that the days of the Horticultural Society were numbered. No meetings have been held since the above date.



Reliable statistics in regard to crops, farm animals, etc., were not gathered in Kansas until 1872, and these were not as complete as desired, owing to the absence of any efficient official source through which they could be

History of Republic County. 97

obtained, as the law providing for the collection of statistics by the township assessors was not passed until the session of 1873. The statistics here presented, therefore, embrace a period of thirty years, from 1872 to 1901 inclusive.

Yrs. No. Yrs. No. Yrs. No. Yrs. No.
1872 1500 1873 2322 1888 12116 1889 12787
1874 3199 1875 3103 1890 11093 1891 13867
1876 3316 1877 3711 1892 13761 1893 14513
1878 4481 1879 5868 1894 13448 1895 14667
1880 6942 1881 7471 1896 13014 1897 13054
1882 7703 1883 8793 1898 12744 1899 13040
1884 9270 1885 9876 1900 12607 1901 13249
1886 10636 1887 11155  


Yrs. No. Yrs. No. Yrs. No. Yrs. No.
1872 96 1877 3242 1888 1180 1893 6829
1873 227 1878 3310 1889 1185 1894 6716
1874 319 1879 3788 1890 948 1895 8630
1875 308 1880 4248 1891 992 1896 7576
1876 272 1881 4766 1892 931 1897 7752
1877 384 1882 5925 1893 1133 1898 8958
1878 408 1883 7194 1894 1145 1899 9681
1879 544 1884 8583 1895 1622 1900 10207
1880 575 1885 9737 1896 1498 1901 12327
1881 645 1886 11450 1897 1467   Prior to 1877 sta-
  tistics in regard to
  milch cows were
  included in the
  whole number of
1882 651 1887 11527 1898 1488
1883 832 1888 12709 1899 1591
1884 979 1889 14355 1900 1413
1885 1154 1890 10359 1901 1356
1886 1124 1891 10993  
1887 1185 1892 10362


This table gives the whole number of cattle in the county down to, and including 1876, after which milch cows are excluded.

Yrs. No. Yrs No. Yrs. No. Yrs No.
1872 4944 1873 4682 1888 24551 1889 24112
1874 6649 1875 6050 1890 22368 1891 22560
1876 6746 1877 4690 1892 23347 1893 14516
1878 5623 1879 6.390 1894 11009 1895 13739
1880 7422 1881 9189 1896 9878 1897 13285
1882 10185 1883 13532 1898 17881 1899 23995
1884 19287 1885 17965 1900 27063 1901 25978
1886 20721 1887 23522  


98 History of Republic County.


Yrs. No. Yrs. No. Yrs. No. Yrs. No.
1872 1232 1873 3336 1888 40939 1889 49306
1874 9897 1875 5038 1890 54939 1891 53769
1876 7097 1877 18011 1892 49311 1893 14013
1878 31286 1879 38142 1894 16610 1895 32842
1880 44169 1881 40290 1896 33295 1897, 48069
1882 41915 1883 48469 1898 61673 1899 64457
1884 69383 1885 81009 1900 62819 1901 57585
1886 5389 1887 54186  

The falling off in the numbers of live stock from 1874 to 1875 is accounted for by the grasshopper visitation of 1874, the corn crop that season being almost a total failure, but very little being raised in the county. Large numbers of our people went back east to winter, taking their teams and milch cows with them, many not returning until late in the season of 1875, while others did not come back at all. In 1877 Republic ranked as the ninth county in the state in the number of swine, seventh in 1878, second in 1879, and first in 1880, leading Brown county, the next highest, by 2,827 head. In 1881 she ranked third, being surpassed by Brown with 41,279 and Miami with 41,040 head. In 1882 she ranked third again, being surpassed by Brown and Cowley.

In 1885, in proportion to area, Republic led, with the unprecedented number of 81,009, being so far in advance of all other counties of the same area as to make it idle to institute a comparison. Cholera among swine broke out this year and was quite general throughout the state, raging with great fury in many counties during the years 1885, 1886 and 1887, seriously crippling this important industry. The losses in Republic county from this cause alone were in 1885, 9,122 head; 1886, 51,513 head; 1887, 21,966 head; aggregating 82,601 head, in three years reducing the number to 40,939 in 1888, since which time this dreaded disease has not generally been prevalent.


Years. Acreage. Bushels. Years. Acreage. Bushels.
1872 4858 47252 1887 3006 32355
1873 12044 88203 1888 1057 23846


History of Republic County. 99


Years. Acreage. Bushels. Years. Acreage. Bushels.
1874 27757 289225 1889 2458 54389
1875 33092 476307 1890 8320 73118
1876 28925 361531 1891 13687 226855
1877 19174 282846 1892 18713 271036
1878 38936 681968 1893 22420 26838
1879 46573 413612 1894 13254 45393
1880 42275 404154 1895 7137 28548
1881 25574 204392 1896 4514 64084
1882 8427 132948 1897 7231 144310
1883 4612 93712 1898 10829 193914
1884 7586 141892, 1898 21046 252204
1885 8204 116293 1900 8545 161398
1886 4975 35814 1901 23385  

Republic county has not in any one year produced a million bushels of wheat, its nearest approach to it being in 1878 when 681,968 bushels were raised, hence it is not classed among the leading counties in the production of this important cereal, although during the 70s she ranked high in the production of spring wheat being located in what was known, from 1872 to 1881 as the spring wheat belt of Kansas, composed of seven counties lying in a compact body in the northwest, five of which, Marshall, Washington, Republic, Jewell and Smith, being in the northern tier, and the other two, Cloud and Mitchell, adjoining. In 1887 these seven counties produced 3,345,340 bushels, or nearly three-fifths the entire spring wheat product of the state. In the number of bushels raised, Republic county ranked in the state as follows:

1872 as 2d. 1876 as 2d. 1879 as 1st.
1873 as 6th. 1877 as 3d. 1880 as 3d.
1874 as 3d. 1878 as 3d. 1881 as 2d.
1875 as 1st.  

Thus it appears that, for a period of ten years, she held the first place three years, the second place three years, the third place three years, and the sixth place one year. But at present its cultivation is almost entirely abandoned, one reason for discontinuing its culture being that it was most successfully grown on new land, or ground that had not been ploughed more than two or three times at most. Another and the principal reason being that most of the farmers have found that corn growing

100 History of Republic County.

and stock raising and feeding are more profitable and have turned their attention in this direction, although some very fine wheat, both spring and winter, are still grown, S. T. Collins, a leading farmer of Freedom township, holding a testimonial from the directors of the world's fair at Chicago for a sample of superior excellence exhibited there in competition with the world, the medal being for the best one-half bushel of hard winter wheat.

From 1874 to 1880, barley was quite successfully grown, the product being:

Year. Acres. Bushels. Year. Acres. Bushels.
1874 907 18140 1878   67640
1875 2988 71719 1879 4939 98740
1876 7210 201040 1880 2219 37723
1877   155700  

This crop has also been nearly discontinued.


Year. Acreage. Product in
Year. Acreage. Product in
1872 20907 258240 1887 116382 1745730
1873 22726 568325 1888 132878 6378144
1874 21714   1889 140792 7039600
1875 23512 940480 1890 20432 245184
1876 26940 1077600 1891 131548 4735728
1877 47541 1806508 1892 129176 3875280
1878 36969 1478760 1893 164261 1806871
1879 51124 2044966 1894 147764 443292
1880 75969 2431008 1895 177218 1063308
1881 90317 1806340 1896 189737 6261321
1882 103263 4646835 1897 203662 7739156
1883 1120990 4718610 1898 200125 2201375
1884 116761 5721289 1899 210131 6514061
1885 125439 5017560 1900 186283 2794245
1886 138739 4162170 1901 172230  

Alfalfa, 1901   10389 acres


In 1876, for the first time, the corn crop of the county exceeded one million bushels. In 1880 we ranked as the seventh corn producing county in Kansas, and in 1882 as third, producing, as shown in the tables, 4,646,835 bushels, only two counties in the state producing a greater number of bushels, viz., Marshall and Sumner; but it

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