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. 131
1888    E. E. Swearengen, Rep., of Cloud County.
 The district having been changed to Cloud and Republic and numbered as the 32d. Senator Swearengen's plurality in the district, 2517.
1890 S. C. Wheeler, Pop., of Cloud County.
Special Election. Majority in District, 1169.
1892 George D. Bowling, Pop., Republic County.
Plurality in district, 158.
1893 W. A. Mosher, Pop., Cloud County.
Majority in district, 342.
1898    R. B. Ward, Rep., Republic County.
To fill vacancy caused by death of Senator W. A. Mosher. Senator Wards majority in district, 695.
1900 R. B. Ward, Rep., Republic County.
Majority in district, 74.
  Held December 30th, 1890, for State Senator to fill vacancy caused by death of E. E. Swearengen.
  S. C. Wheeler, Pop 1662
  John W. Sheafor, Rep 1178
1888 November 6th:
  E. E. Swearengen, Rep 2392
  E. A. Hallowell, Dem 1295
  M. E. Grover, Ind 64
  J. B.Mosher,Ind 127
  C. W. Gulick 1985
  W. A. Mosher 1834
  Gomer T. Davies, Pop 1580
  R. B. Ward, Rep 2223
1868 R. P. West 70th Dist   1882 D. C. Gamble 60th Dist
1869 R. P. West 90th Dist   1884 W. A. Reeves 79th Dist


132 History of Republic County.


1870 N. T. VanNatta 90th Dist 1884 Wm. Glasgow 80th Dist
1871 A. D. Wilson 81st Dist 1886 Gomer T. Davies 73d Dist
1872 Almond Shaw 81st 1886 J. A. Jacobs 74th Dist
1873 W. H. Pilkenton 81st 1888 Gomer T. Davies 73 Dist
1874 W. H. Pilkenton 81st 1888 A. D. Wilson 74th Dist
1875 R. P. West 81st Dist 1890 J. T. Ingraham 73d Dist
1876 W. H. Pilkenton 106th Dist 1890 C. R. Cleveland 74th Dist
1876 Geo. L. White 107th Dist 1892 J. M. Foster 61st Dist
1878 Wm. M. Moore 106th Dist 1894 J. M. Foster 61st Dist
1878 Geo. L. White 107th Dist 1896 John M. Doyle 61st Dist
1880 W. H. Leigh 106th Dist 1898 F. N. Woodward 61st Dist
1880 W. P. Peake 107th Dist 1900 F. N. Woodward 64th Dist
1882 W. A. Reeves 79th Dist    
1871 A. S. Wilson
Appointed March 19, 1871.
1872 A. S. Wilson
1876 A. S. Wilson
Resigned October, 1884.
1880 A. S. Wilson
1884 Joseph G. Lowe appointed October 27th, 1884,
held the office ten days and resigned.
1884 A. A. Carnahan
appointed November 11th, 1884.
1884 Edward Hutchinson 1888 F. W. Sturges
1892 F. W. Sturges 1896 F. W. Sturges
1900 Hugh Alexander    




In the spring of 1872 the question of erecting county buildings at Belleville and building a bridge across the Republican at New Scandinavia was agitated, all agreeing that these improvements were badly needed. Petitions were circulated and signed, principally by those living in the vicinity of the two points named. These petitions were presented to the Board of County Commissioners at a meeting held June 14th, 1872, asking that an election be called for the purpose of voting the bonds of the county to

History of Republic County.
Republic County Court House, Belleville, Kansas.
History of Republic County. 133

the amount of $30,000—$15,000 of said bonds to be appropriated to the erection of county buildings at Belleville and $15,000 to be appropriated to the erection of a bridge across the river at the foot of 4th St., in the town of New Scandinavia, whereupon it was ordered that an election be held in the several voting precincts, on Tuesday, July 16th, for the purpose of voting for and against the propoition as set forth in the petition. Said bonds to be drawn in amounts of $1,500 each, with interest coupons attached, payable annually, on the 1st day of July at the rate of 7 per cent., three thousand dollars of said bonds to be paid July 1st, 1877, and three thousand dollars each year thereafter, until the whole amount be paid.

This proposition was submitted in such a manner that a voter could cast his ballot for each proposition separately; that is to say, he could vote for the county building bonds and reject the bridge bonds and vice versa

The board of commissioners met July 19th, 1872, to canvass the vote with the following result:

Albion   50   50
Belleville 65 8 34 28
Elk Creek   75 1 74
Farmington 5 44 1 48
Fairview 6 46   46
Freedom 16 46 24 26
Grant 2 79 3 78
Jefferson 10 39 3 44
Lincoln   57   57
Liberty   43   42
Norway   47 2 45
Rose Creek   71   71
Richland   77   77
Scandia 38 62 93 9
Soldier 1 41 37 3
Union 3 77 8 72
White Rock   108 10 98
Buffalo Precinct   7 7 10

Total 146 977 223 878

The result showing that both propositions were defeated by a very decisive vote, Albion, Lincoln, Liberty, Rose Creek and Richland being unanimous in opposition

134 History of Republic County.

to both propositions, while Elk Creek and Farmington had one man each who wanted a bridge across the river, one man in Soldier township wanted county buildings and thirty-seven wanted the bridge across the river and three who thought the bridge unnecessary. Norway solid in opposition to county buildings and only two men who had any use for a bridge. White Rock unanimous in opposition to county buildings, but ten men who wanted the bridge, Belleville being the only precinct in which both propositions received a majority.

The result of this election would seem to indicate that the early settlers were averse to creating a bonded indebtedness, although the fall before a proposition to extend the aid of the county to the Central Branch of the Union Pacific railroad in the sum of $100,000 was carried by a majority of twenty. The next proposition having for its object the building of a court house and which met with more favor and proved more successful than the one above described, was made to the Board of County Commissioners August 12th, 1872, and was as follows:

The Belleville Town Site company proposed to donate to the county of Republic, for the erection of a court house on the public square in the said town of Belleville, the sum of two thousand dollars, in town lots, providing the board of commissioners would appropriate for the same purpose, the sum of one thousand dollars, which proposition was agreed to by the board, Mr. Frint and Mr. Williams voting in the affirmative and Mr. Hanson voting in the negative, claiming that there was no law for making such an appropriation.

August 13th the Townsite company presented a deed for 126 lots, which was accepted by the Board. October 9th, 1872, the following building committee was appointed: viz, J. H. Frint, Chairman; V. Vantrump and Charles H. Smith. The contract for building the Court House and jail was awarded to I. D. Edwards, he being the best responsible bidder. The Court House was 24x50 feet and

History of Republic County. 135

two stories high, situated on lots 11 and 12 in Block 16, N. side of square, the second story being all in one room and used for court room. The lower floor was divided into five rooms which were occupied by the county officers as follows, beginning at the south door:

 No. 1, Register of Deeds and Clerk of District Court.
No. 2, Sheriff and County Surveyor.
No. 3, Probate Judge and County Attorney.
No. 4, Treasurer and Coroner.
No. 5, County Clerk and County Superintendent.

And were occupied as county offices until the completion of the present Court House in December, 1885, when it was sold to John Shemonski for $1,705, was remodeled into a hotel and was finally destroyed by fire, Feburary 15th, 1890. At a meeting of the Board of Commissioners held April 15th, 1887, a contract was made with Ditto Brothers to remove the old jail from its location on lot 12, block 16, to lot 6, block 35, said last named lot being owned by the county, to place it on a good foundation, to remove the fence and place it around the jail, all to be done in a good workmanlike manner for the sum of fifty dollars, where the old building still stands as a relic of the early 70s.

At a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners held August 4th, 1884, a levy of fifty cents on each $100 of taxable property in the county was made for the purpose of creating a Court House building fund.

S. M. Edwards, of Albion township, was at this time commissioner from District No. 1 and chairman of the board; Thure Wohlfart, of Scandia township, was commissioner from District No. 2 and John F. Wells, of Belleville township, was commissioner from District No. 3, Y. R. Parks being county clerk. Mr. Edwards and Mr. Wells voted in favor of the levy and Mr. Wohlfart recording his vote in opposition to it. This was the first step taken toward the building of the present Court house.

The board met again on December 10th, 1884, and

136 History of Republic County.

contracted with Hulse & Moses and Ulrich brothers to erect the court house on plans and specifications furnished by George Ropes, architect, at a cost to the county of $552.80 for said plans and specifications. Hugh A. Scott was appointed by the board to superintend its construction at a salary of $3.00 per day time actually employed.

1883 Net court house tax collected was $ 9537 82
1884   10797 57
  Total 20245 39
The original contract for the building was 18968 00
Extras   294 00
Total cost of the court house proper 19262 00
Furniture for court house, A. H. Andrews & Co 3061 50
Miscellaneous items, including architects' and superin-  
  tendents' bills 2020 55
Grand total when ready for occupancy $24344 05

The building was accepted by the commissioners December 22, 1885. A special meeting of the board of commissioners called for the purpose of adopting plans and specifications for a jail and jailor's residence and to order advertisement for bids for the construction of the same was held at Belleville February 12th, 1889. The commissioners at this time were J. W. Smith, commissioner Second district, chairman; Robert Kyle, commissioner First district; John F. Wells, commissioner Third district; all being present, and after a careful examination of plans and specifications presented by Geo. W. Cochler, architect, then living at Belleville, it was ordered that the county clerk advertise in The Belleville Telescope for sealed bids for the material and construction of said buildings and for the jail cells.

After examining several building sites upon which to construct said buildings, the board decided to build them on the southeast corner of the public or Court House square. The board met in regular session April 10th, 1889, that being the expiration of the time in which bids were to be received. The bids on file were opened and found to be as follows:

History of Republic County. 137

Van Ness & Crispin, of Belleville, Kansas, on building, $4955.90; Lund & Carson, Belleville, Kansas, $4884.50, a difference of only $71.40; Van Dorn Iron Works, Cleveland, Ohio, cells and ironwork, $3640.00; Diebold Safe and Lock Co., Canton, cells and iron work, $4,950.00; Frank F. Dinsmoor, Lawrence, Kansas, cells and iron work, $4800.00: Champion Iron Fence Co,. Kenton, Ohio; cells and iron work $5273.38: Pauly Jail Co., St. Louis, Mo., cells and iron work, $5036.00; Hall's Safe and Lock Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, cells and iron work, $6725.00, a difference of $3085 between the highest and the lowest bidder for the same job of work. (quite a margin.)

The Board then proceeded to the consideration of the bids for steel and iron work as made and filed by the different competitors, giving each company an opportunity to exhibit materials used in the construction of their jail cells, also to show models illustrating plan of construction with locking devices, etc. All the afternoon was consumed in this work, whereupon the Board adjourned, to meet at 9 o'clock, a. m., April 11th. The board met pursuant to adjournment, all members being present, and proceeded with the consideration of bids for jail and jailor's residence, listening to the arguments of the representatives of the different systems and testing materials, devoting much of the day to said work, and adjourned to April 12th at 9 o'clock, a. m.

Met pursuant to adjournment, present the same as yesterday. The contract for the jail cells, structural iron work, steel and iron necessary to the completion of the jail, including four criminal cells on the first floor and two cells for females on second floor of jail was awarded to the VanDorn Iron Works, of Cleveland. Ohio, E. Jenkins, agent, to be built according to plans and specifications adopted by the Board of County Commissioners and now on file in the County Clerk's office as a part of the contract with said company for the sum of $3940, said work to he completed in all respects according to contract on

138 History of Republic County.

or before the 15th day of October, 1889, and if equal to the requirements named in said contract and proved by reasonable test to be proof against cutting with saw, file or other tools usually employed by jail breakers in escaping from jail, then the said jail and structural iron work is to be accepted by the board and paid for in full the aforesaid sum of $3940—but if at any time prior to the completon of said jail by the Van Dorn Iron Works of Cleveland, Ohio, it shall be shown and proven that any prisoner has escaped from a jail of like construction and material which was built by the said Van Dorn Iron Works, by cutting, sawing or filing out of said jail, then the Board of County Commissioners are by the terms of the contract, to pay for said cells and structural iron work, the sum of one dollar—said payment to be in full of all demand upon Republic county or the said Board of County Commissioners for said material and work.

From the above it appears that the board proceeded with extreme caution in making this important contract.

The Board met again April 13th, all members being present and awarded the contract for building the jail and jailor's residence to Robert Lund and Charles Carson, of Belleville city for the sum of five thousand and fifty seven dollars, said building to be completed on or before the 15th day of October, 1889. Hugh A. Scott was appointed to superintend the construction of said buildings at three dollars per day. Both of the above contracts were fully complied with and were accepted by the Board, Sept. 10th, 1889.

The total cost, including extras was as follows:

Van Dorn Iron Works for jail cells and structural ironwork $4153.75
Lund & Carson for building 6605.19
Total cost of jail $10758.94

The laws of Kansas make it lawful for the board of

History of Republic County. 139

county commissioners in the several counties in the state, whenever they may deem it advisable, to purchase a tract of land in the name of their respective counties, and thereon to build, establish and organize an asylum for the poor.

This was not deemed necessary nor advisable in Republic county until the spring of 1879 when the following described tract of land was purchased for such purpose, viz: The W 1/2 of the SE 1/4 of section 4, and the N 1/2 of the NE 1/4 of section 9, town 3, range 3. This land was the homestead of John Engle, well remembered by many of the early settlers as a rather undesirable citizen, but whose loyalty was never called in question. After leaving the county Engle went south into Dixie, where he was shot and killed for too openly avowing his Union sentiments. This land was deeded to the county May 12th, 1879, the purchase price being $950. The contract for the erection of a suitable building to be used as an asylum was awarded to W. C. Shull on June 16th for the sum of $852, he being the lowest bidder. The commissioners at this time were L. C. Hanson, chairman and commissioner for Second district; A. B. Bachelor, commissioner First district, and John F. Wells, commissioner Third district. The first superintendent of the county asylum was O. M. Wagner, he having having made the lowest bid, receiving $2.95 per week for the board, clothing and care of each inmate. This contract was made September 16th, 1879, and was for one year. O. A. A. Gardner was the second superintendent, his bond being approved October 5th, 1880, which position he held until March 1st, 1884, when the contract was awarded to C. W. Wray for the sum of $2.69 per week for each and every inmate of the asylum, which position he held until the latter part of 1887, when he was succeeded by Simon Miller, who held the position until March 1st, 1892. Miller was succeeded by T. C. Reily, late sheriff of the county, who acted in this capacity until March 1st, 1900, receiving as compensation the use of the farm and $2.60 per week for each inmate until the last year when it

140 History of Republic County.

was reduced to $2 per week. Reily was succeeded by F. P. Musser, who receives $2 per week for each inmate and exclusive use of the farm and such additional sum per week for the care of disabled and invalid inmates of the asylum as the board of county commissioners shall deem right and just. Mr. Musser is now in charge and is giving good satisfaction. It is but simple justice to the state that all of the superintendents of this institution have been responsible, conscientious and humane men and that that unfortunate class of our fellow citizens who have been cared for there have uniformly received kind treatment and the best of care at their hands.

An addition to the Asylum 22x26 feet was built in the fall of 1892, the contract being awarded to Al. Crispin, October 15th, the contract price being $590.

Cost of the land $930 00
Cost of the first building 852 00
Cost of first addition 590 00
     Total $2392 00

This farm is now worth $4,500.


John F. Wells, during his long term of service as county commissioner, made a record with which, as a whole, his friends may well be satisfied. In 1878 J. H. McCall resigned as county commissioner, he having been elected county superintendent, and Mr. Wells was appointed to succeed him. Was elected in 1879 to serve one year, re-elected in 1880, again in 1883, and again in 1886, making eleven years of continuous service in this important office. He was fearless in the advocacy of measures which he believed to be for the general good of the county, and by his energy and perseverence, succeeded in securing improvements which otherwise, it is quite probable would have failed. The period of his commissionership was the most important in the history of the county in the matter of bridges,

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