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. 171

petition for a bridge at Sherdahl switch, claiming to be of an earlier date than ours, which was absurd unless their petition was dated before the]aw was passed. One of them being afterwards asked how he could champion the proposition when the law required the bridges to be at least six miles apart—Sherdahl being not four—said they did not mean to measure by section lines, the law did not require it, they meant to measure the meanders of the river!

On the day appointed we repaired to Belleville and encountered Mr. VanNatta in the hallway of the courthouse. He was there purposely, I believe, to head us off from going into the county clerk's office where the commissioners were in session. He rounded us up and told us he had made some progress with our case, but that Mr. Wilder and Mr. Wilson were before the commissioners, and had been all the day before, and he very strongly suspected they were waiting to oppose our plans, and advised us not to go in, as the county commissioners had said they had no desire to hear any arguments, but to leave the whole matter with him.

Mr. Wells, chairman of the board, also said to some of our party whom he met on the street. "We will not have time to consider your bridge petition today; we will be in session several days, however, and it will receive attention before we adjourn; in the meantime it will not be necessary for you to remain, your representative will be sufficient."

We took this advice, but before leaving, the writer could not help stealing back to the door to take one lingering look at our old time "Standard Bearers" waiting there, Oh, so patiently! When they saw him standing in the door they smiled, their smile resembling, I suppose, the grin of two amiable tigers about to feast on a victim, as they thought the time for doing us up had come. I gazed mournfully upon them, as I thought if this was all our reward for our years of devotion to Scandia, rent by all the pangs of a discarded lover, I fled from the Court house to

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conceal my emotions, when suddenly a great light broke in upon my mind and a voice seemed to shout in my ear, "Miserable deluded! all these years you have been swearing at the wrong ring!"

In a few weeks we had the pleasure of seeing in the official paper of the county, the call for bids for building the Norway bridge. The bridge was built in 1887 and is a splendid structure, costing nearly thirteen thousand dollars.

High up on the bridge the builders placed—and most properly so—a plate of bronze with the names of the county commissioners, Messrs. Wells, Kyle and Smith, engraved thereon, and I presume the same is the case with all the river bridges of the county. But higher yet, over and above all, on every one of them, in letters of gold a foot high and on a plate of silver sixteen foot long, should be inscribed the name of William Walker.

Since the building of the bridge there has been no incident proper to record here. We are at peace with all the world.

Our dreams as to a thriving city at Norway are not, as yet, fully realized, although it is a busy place where much stock and grain is bought and many goods are sold.

Shortly after building the bridge the Santa Fe road was built near the west line of the township and the town of Kackley, as it were, was built almost in our door yard, with the station of Courtland and Oneonta to the north and south of it, thus cutting off a great trade that would have come to us, so that our visions of the paved streets, brick blocks, shining minarets and golden towers, (and how mad we would get because people would continue to put Republic county on our letters) were but the empty fabric of a dream.

The privations to which the pioneer settlers of Norway township were subjected, and the hardships endured by them, so graphically described by Mr. Stanton, were the

History of Republic County. 173

common lot of nearly all the settlers of Republic county during the early 70's.


Was settled by Daniel Myers, in February, 1861, one of the first settlements in the county. West Creek postoffice was established June 26th, 1871, and Joseph A. Deweese appointed postmaster. Sections 17, 27, 33, 34 and 35 are underlaid with coal, and pottery clay is found on the northeast quarter of section 16. Hydraulic cement is also found in the township in considerable quantities, and magnesia limestone of most excellent quality is distributed throughout the entire township. It is watered by West creek, and has considerable timber.

The township was organized September 4th, 1871, and the following officers appointed: Alex McIntyre, Trustee; Jacob Shafer, treasurer; Elisha Ray, Constable.

Geo. J. Trowbridge, second treasurer of the county, was an early settler of this township. The first election was ordered held at the residence of Jacob Shafer, one of the early settlers.

The Junction City and Fort Kearney branch of the Union Pacific railroad has a mileage of 0.59 miles in this township assessed in 1901, at $3028.


As stated elsewhere in this history, the first settlement in the county was made in 1861 by Conrad Myers. He was soon followed by John W. Cory, James G. Tuttle, Capt. Isaac M. Schooley, C. M. Way, P. P. Way, Charles A. Campbell, John M. Campbell, Dan Moreland and Thomas J. Durant, all of whom made settlement during the 60's, all selecting land with timber and water and some of the finest bottom land in Republic county, and that they have prospered is not to be wondered at. Grant is one of the most prosperous townships in the county, stock growing and feeding being the leading industries. The great salt marsh, described in another chapter, lies wholly within

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township. Grant was one of the three townships organized by the commissioners at their first meeting after the organization of the county, and its history is interwoven with the general history of the county. It has two lines of railroad:

The B. & M. with 27 miles, assessed 1901 $28835
Union Pacific with 73   "       "      " 31011
Total 12.00 Total $59846

Only two other townships have a greater mileage.


Elk Creek, lying in the southeast corner of the county, was settled early in 1868, the first settlers being W. H., Geo. W. and E. A. Willoughby, Wm. Oliver, A. Mapes, M. H. Harper, Samuel and Robert Edwards, Romante Alderman and Frank Smith. John Manning, G. W. Johnson, Reuben James and John W. Jarrett arrived October 15th, the same year; and C. G. Bowers and family, on the 16th. John H. Ranney came later in the fall. David Doran is among the early settlers and is still a resident of the township.

Elk creek flows from north to south across the township, affording plenty of water, and in many places along its banks, there is considerable timber. Limestone, for building purposes, is abundant. The township was organized in 1871.

At the election held in April, 1872, the following township officers were elected: Robert H. Vining, trustee; P. McDonald, clerk; Geo. W. Johnson, treasurer; John Canary, justice of the peace; H. S. Cole, constable; F. M. Jaquays, constable.

The first marriage in the township was R. H. Vining and Martha J. Oliver, January 1st, 1869.

The township is crossed by C. R. I. and Pacific railroad, with a mileage of 6.01 miles, assessed in 1901 at $42804.

History of Republic County.

Interior View of the Drug Store Owned by Dr. W. G. Haning and Wesley Hanzel, ,Under the Firm Name of
Hanzel & Co., Belleville, Kansas.

History of Republic County. 175




The Belleville Townsite Company was organized on the 25th day of September, 1869, and the following named persons were reported as charter members: James E. VanNatta, A. B. Tutton, W. A. Means, J. H. Frint, T. C. Reily, W. H. H. Reily, W. A. Dugger, John McFarlane, John Harris, jr., B. F. Sayler, T. C. Smith, W. W. Newlon, John W. Cory, G. H. Jackson and N. T. VanNatta.

The site selected was the NW 1/4 of section 2, town 3 south, range 3 west, the same being made with a view to a central location in the county. On motion of A. B. Tutton, the town was christened Belleville, in honor of Arabelle, his wife. At this time the town was on paper wholly, no buildings having been erected, nor improvements of any kind made. At this meeting the following resolution was unanimously adopted: "Resolved, That this company proposes Bellevile as a point for the county seat of Republic county, Kansas, and that we all use due exertion, as a company and individually, for its ejection." Subsequent events show that this company stood together to carry out this resolution.

At the second meeting of the company, held August 27th, the charter and by-laws were adopted, and the following officers elected: J. B. VanNatta, president; John McFarlane, secretary; John Harris, jr., treasurer; B. F. Sayler, J. C. Reily and A. B. Tutton, were elected directors. A portion of the townsite was surveyed by E. P. Hedenskogg, county surveyor, in the fall of 1869.

The third meeting was held November 13th, 1869, at which meeting R. P. West moved that a house 16x18 feet be erected for the use of the company, and that the logs for the same be placed on the ground by November 27th, which motion prevailed. A. B. Tutton was chosen chair-

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man of the board of directors, and the meeting adjourned. No more meetings were held until March, 1870, when 1,000 feet of native lumber was purchased for $35, delivered, and Mr. Tutton authorized to receive bids for digging a well.

The next meeting was held April 4th and the job of digging the well was let to Dave Woodruff.

Next meeting was held May 29th, 1870, when the following plan and specifications for finishing the house were adopted:

Resolved, That the town house be chinked with rock, daubed with mortar, covered with cottonwood shingles, one door and one window cut and finished, gables finished with lumber, window to be in the east and door in the west end.

Opportunity was now offered for bids to finish the house in accordance with the above plans and specifications, and the same being received and considered, the contract was awarded to John G. Rich for the sum of $26, the house to be completed in twenty days, which we presume, was complied with, although this the record does not show. We may state, in passing, that W. P. Weeks slept in this house on the night of April 28th, 1870, before it was roofed, he being the first citizen that slept on the town site. This log building, standing alone on the high prairie, with no other buildings or timber in sight, presented an apperance of incongruity; yet the squatty little structure had an air of newness about it that was quite refreshing.

This house has frequently been referred to as the log court house. This is a mistake as it was never used for that purpose. The county commissioners held a few meetings in it in 1870 and one or two suits before justices of the Peace were tried there in the summer of 1871.

In this house the first store was kept, by J. C. Bright; the first postoffice by A. B. Tutton, postmaster; and the first school taught by Mrs. Eliza G. Latham, in the winter

History of Republic County.

Residence of J. C. Gurnea, Belleville City.

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of 1870-71. It was also used for church purposes, lectures and lyceums and later was occupied as a dwelling house.

The first building erected on the north side of the public square was the Belleville hotel, built by William Piper, from Macoupin county, Illinois, completed and opened for business about the middle of September, 1870. The original was about 16x32 feet, 14 feet in height and had a board floor and shingle roof. I mention the fact in regard to the floor and roof as being exceptional for these days, making this hotel a celebrated one west of the sixth principal meridian. It was what was then called a "box house," the siding being pine stock boards twelve inches wide, standingup and down and battened with pine strips two inches in width, was sided with native lumber, principally cottonwood, and unbattened, all without lath or plaster and was not guilty of paint either outside or in. Mr. Piper re-received[sic] from the Town Company, as a bonus for building this house, two choice lots on the public square and an excellent residence lot three blocks away. At all times during dry weather, the guests of this house while seated at the table, enjoyed a fine perspective through the openings between the boards, which at times but partially enclosed the north end of the building, of the future fine farming lands of Freedom and Liberty townships, with the dimly described fertile plains of Thayer county, Nebraska, in the distance. In rainy weather, however, these openings would close and the beautiful landscape would be obscured from view. The front part of this building, 12x16, was used as an office, parlor, confectionery store, cigar store and wash room. The rear 16x20 feet, for dining room and kitchen, but where the dining room left off and the kitchen commenced, I believe was never definitely determined. In cold and stormy weather some of the guests would, after having their meals served, take their plates and coffee and gather around the kitchen stove, while others would retire to the parlor, their footprints being easily traced in the snow, greatly to the annoyance and disgust

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of the chief cook and head waiter, who frequently indulged in remarks which could not possibly be construed as complimentary to the offending guests. The bill of fare consisted of corn bread and bacon, sorghum and coffee, with beans twice a week. On holidays and festival occasions, buffalo steak and jack rabbits were sometimes served.

This period is known in history as the "Cornbread and Sorghum Era" in Republic county.

The entire upper story was used for sleeping apartments, six in number, the bridal chamber 10x16 feet being the south room and immediately over the parlor. The other rooms were occupied by Mr. Piper and family, the cook and waiters, regular boarders and transient guests.

Mr. Piper was also the proprietor of another and less pretentious building, standing near the hotel, remembered by the early settlers as the cottonwood saloon which also has a history, as will be noticed in another chapter.

In the spring of 1871 Piper moved to his claim two and one-half miles north of town, the farm now owned by S. T. Collins, the hotel being managed during the summer by J. B. Whitsell, reputed to be a bigamist from Mexico, Mo. Whitsell resigned in the fall, his place being taken by Mr. Solomon Wilcox, an old and highly respected citizen, father-in-law of J. A. Mosher. Mr. Wilcox kept the house until March, 1872. During the summer ofthat year V. Vantrump having purchased the premises, enlarged, refitted and refurnished the house and kept, for those days, a reasonably good hotel. Vantrump was succeeded by Geo. H. Wilkes, a practical hotel keeper, who made the Belleville hotel for the first time in its history, a desirable stopping place, spreading a table which has not to this day been surpassed in Belleville. Mr. Wilkes was followed by William Haskett, who raised the building, put in the basement and otherwise improved and refitted the house. Under his management the hotel was well kept and well patronized.

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James H. Bradd, of Albion township, took charge of the house the summer of 1875 and managed it until his death January 1, 1877. Mr. Bradd was succeeded by F. N. Munger, who took charge January 12th, 1877, and managed the same in a satisfactory manner until May 23d of that year, when he was succeeded by Capt. Geo. L. White, now of Scandia, who kept the house fully up to the demands of the times and was a genial and popular landlord. Capt. White's successor was Moses J. Post, now in Denver, Colorado, who built what was called the "new part" and under his management the hotel was a credit to the city and increased in popularity. This building about which so much historic interest clusters was, with four other frame buildings on the north side, with nearly all their contents, destroyed by fire on the evening of September 25, 1888.

During the summer and fall of 1870 several substantial business houses were built, among which we mention, a general store on the southwest corner of the public square, by G. D. Bowling, a drug and grocery store, by J. C. Griffith; a general store, by Vantrump & Hallowell; and a hotel on the north side of the square, by Wm. Piper. During the summer of 1870 the little Telescope was started, the first issue being on the 20th of September. Geo. Wood started the first blacksmith shop in the fall, on the southwest corner of the square. Charles Blanchard opened the first wagon shop, and manufactured the first wagon and the first buggy at Belleville in August, 1872.

Everything seems to have worked harmoniously and well until the latter part of the year 1870, when A. B. Tutton, a member of the board of directors, accompanied by Marshall Stone and J. C. Bright as witnesses, proceeded to the land office at Junction City, where he represented himself as president of the Townsite company and authorized and empowered by said company to make final proof on the NW 1/4 of section 2, town 3, range 3, the tract selected as the townsite of Belleville. With the assistance of

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Stone and Bright, on whom the obligations of an oath seem to have rested very lightly, he succeeded in making final proof, taking receiver's receipt in his own name. We had heard before this of a man stealing a barn in the state of New York, but this was the first case we recollect of where a whole townsite had been stolen. Soon after this Tutton left for parts unknown, but was pursued by R. W. VanDyke and W. S. Latham, acting for the town company, who, after along and tedious search, captured him at York Center, Nebraska, and brought him to Bellevile to answer for his crookedness. A rope and a limb of a tree were talked of, but better counsels prevailed, a compromise effected, and Tutton deeded the townsite back to the company, after which he was allowed to depart in peace. This fraudulent final proof made by Tutton was afterward canclled by the general land office. On the 9th day of August, 1872, the town company requested J. C Griffith, probate judge, to prove up on the Belleville town site. For this purpose he was provided, by the company, with agricultural college scrip. On the 10th of August the judge reported that he had made final proof as requested, whereupon the town company resolved to issue deeds on demand to those entitled to them. But towards the latter part of February, 1873, intelligence was received from the land office that the commissioner of the general land office at Washington had refused to accept agricultural college scrip in payment of townsites, and that the scrip sent had been returned. By direction of the town company, C. H. Smith and V. Vantrump, accompanied by Judge Boothe, proceeded to Concordia, and made final proof on the town site, by paying cash, on the 28th day of February, 1873, just in time to make the town property taxable for that year: and so at last, after much delay and vexation, a title was obtained, the patent being received October 1st, 1874. On the first day of December, 1874, the unsold lots belonging to the company were divided by lot among the stock-

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