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. 221

lic county were Methodists and a local preacher, Mr. Nels Peterson, was the first to hold religious services in the Scandia settlement. At his request there came two ministers from Clay county, John B. Anderson and Jonas Engstrom, who held a series of meetings in February, 1887. Rev. John Linn, Des Moines, Iowa, was presiding elder in charge of the missionary work in Kansas at that time and he also visited the place and perfected the organization. The first members were Nels Peterson and wife, A. M. Swanson and wife, and Mrs. Lysholm, who already belonged to the church from other places. Among those who joined the church at the organization or soon after may be mentioned: P. E. Walen, Olof Olson, Andrew Rosene, A. P. Rosene, H. J. Rosene, A. Westine, Henry Anderson, A. F. Granstedt, A. Johnson and their wives. A substantial church building was erected the same year, 30x50 feet, of stone, and a parsonage was built in 1878. The first preacher in charge was Jonas Engstrom, but he did not reside in the place. Rev. J. B. Anderson was the first pastor who lived there. He had charge for two years and was succeeded in 1880 by Rev. C. Charnquist. The present pastor is O. J. Swan and the membership is some over a hundred. Last year the congregation, after having put new pews in the church and other improvements, gave to missions and other benevolent work $332, besides the current expenses and pastor's salary. This year, 1901, they have built an addition to the parsonage, making it the best in the district. Assisting the pastor in the work is C. J. Peterson as Sunday school superintendent, Otto Chellberg and A. J. Blom as local preachers, and Johannes Johnson, exhorter.


The Swedish Evangelical church in Courtland township dates back about fourteen years, a christian family by the name of Anderson being identified with its early history, by gathering the Swedish people together and urg-

222 History of Republic County.

ing upon them the importance of Evangelical work. Axel R. Anderson, a son in the above named family being especially active and zealous in establishing the church and who later became the pastor of a church of the same name in Kansas City, Missouri, afterwards pastor of a church at Seattle, Washington, and for the last two years evangelist at Cape Nome, Alaska. The meetings of this church were held at first in school houses and family homes until about five years ago a building was secured in Scandia, rebuilt and consecrated to religious worship, Rev. August F. Carlson being in charge of the church for about six months when he moved to Enterprise, Kansas. Rev. J. H. Hanson succeeded him, being in charge over a year. Then for some time the church was without a pastor, but was frequently visited by S. Armqvst as traveling evangelist, until June 1900, when the Rev. Joseph Esterborg was chosen pastor and is now in charge. After due deliberation it was decided to establish the head of the church near Courtland and to erect a suitable house of worship which was accordingly done, the building being completed in the spring of 1901 at a cost of $2,200, and is one of the neatest and finest looking country churches in the county. To the credit of the American people in the neighborhood it must in justice be said that they contributed liberally to the building fund, about two-thirds of the cost of the building being subscribed by them. Rev. Esterborg gave freely of his time and labor to this enterprise and without whose valuable assistance it is not probable that the work would have been brought to a successful termination. The church was dedicated June 16th, 1901, over seven hundred people being in attendance.


The Central Christian Church of Be]leville was organized in January, 1889, in the small hall in the opera house block, by R. L. Downing, an evangelist from West-

History of Republic County. 223

moreland, Kansas, who was an active and earnest worker in the church.

At first it was distinctively a missionary movement. There were sixteen charter members, namely: A. O. Baldwin and wife, D. B. Perry and wife, C. A. Clark and wife, James McKenzie, Frank and Susie Perry, Mrs. M. J. Watkins, Mrs. E. A. Everts, Mrs. Nellie Rose, Miss Cora Davis and three others whose names do not appear in the record. The first pastor was J. H. Speer, who came from South Haven, Kansas, on the recommendation of the State Missionary board. The first elders were A. O. Baldwin and Charles A. Clark; the first deacons were D. B. Perry and J. W. McKenzie. A meeting was held at the home of A. O. Baldwin in October, 1889, when the first steps toward the erection of a house of worship were taken. Charles A. Clark was chosen president and John Nesmith, secretary. The following members were elected trustees: Charles A. Clark, John Nesmith, J. L. Daniels, J. L. Spillman and A. H. Perry. It was then resolved to build a house of worship 24x40 feet and the following members were appointed a building committee: John Nesmith, C. A. Clark and J. L. Spillman, who were directed to proceed accordingly. The building was erected in the fall of 1889 on lot 3 of block 41, city of Belleville. This lot was purchased by Joseph B. McCune, of Bradford, Pennsylvania, for $250 and donated by him to the church as a building site.

Mr. McCune during his life was a steadfast friend of this church, often assisting it in a financial way; donating at one time $100 in payment of a bill for lumber. John Nesmith, chairman of the building committee, received the thanks of the church for the prompt and creditable manner in which his duties were performed. The house, which was begun in October, 1889, was completed and opened for services in January, 1890, The cost of the building, exclusive of the lot, was $1,400. The pastors of the church have been: J. H. Speer, 1890; J. W. Bryant,

224 History of Republic County.

1892; J. R. French, 1893; John L. Stine, 1895; C. Earley, 1896; W. I. Thomas, 1897; W. E. Pitcher, 1898; C. Henderson, 1900, all earnest and faithful in their religious work. Especially we mention J. R. French, whose pastorate marked an epoch in the history of this church, more than one hundred members being added while he was in charge. He died at the home of F. N. Munger December 10, 1894, deeply regretted by all classes of the community. The membership of this church February 1, 1901, was 216.


The Cherry Creek Christian church, located on the northeast corner of section 23, town 2, range 1, was organized by Elder J. C. Griffith, of Belleville, February 15th, 1873. The church site contains 1 1/4 acres of land. The house of worship, was built in 1890 at a cost of $1000. The following are the names of the charter members:

David Edwards, Nelson Mapes,
William Flint, Sarah Spencer,
Cary Mapes, Webster Mapes,
A. W. Stone, Sarah Mapes,
John E. Edwards, Susan Flint,
America Edwards, Mary J. Griswold,
Nathan Mapes, Lucy Oliver,
Lovina Mapes, Sarah Stone.

J. C. Griffith and R. R. VanWinkle have been pastors of this church, but at present it has no pastor, but a Bible school is held every Lord's day at 10 a. m. The present membership is 31.


The Christian Church of Courtland was organized in the year 1889 by Elder Pickett, then state evangelist, with a membership of fifteen. Elder Garner the same year held a protracted meeting and made eighteen additions, after which the society gradually grew until it now has a membership of sixty. The present church building was erected about 1893 and is a neat, commodious structure

History of Republic County. 225

located in the east part of town. Elder Bryant followed as pastor in 1893 and Elder E. J. Babcock in 1895. Elder W. P. Jewett came in 1896 and remained until the present time. He has but recently moved to Hill City and his place will be filled in the near future.


in the spring of 1872 the first Friends' meeting was held by appointment, with fourteen members, at Wm. A. Brown's home on Mill Creek, near Cuba, Republic county, Kansas. Mill Creek preparative meeting and meeting for worship on first and fourth days was set up by Tonganoxie monthly meeting at the home of Isaac Mardock with Abner George clerk for the day of the preparative. The meetings were held from house to house until the summer of 1877 a log house was built in which they held their meetings until the fall of 1883 the present building was put up, a frame 30x40. John W. Stribbling, of Iowa, holding the first meetings in it.

The charter members were Isaac and Nancy Mardock, Nathan and Jemima Bales, Wm. A. and Mary W. Brown, Richard and Joanna Brown, Elkanah and Sallie Mardock and John F. Mardock from Iowa and Indiana yearly meetings. At the time of the setting up the preparative meeting there were twenty-one members. Through the steadfastness of these fathers and mothers and the faithfulness of Elkanah and John F. Mardock, who were chosen vessels of God to watch over and feed the flock, the membership increased till November, 1876, union monthly meeting was setup by Spring Dale quarterly meeting, which was held alternate at Mill Creek, Riddle Creek and Peach Creek, the latter now called Dale.

Under the ministry of the above named Friends and others of God's servants which came among them, their borders were enlarged and their stakes strengthened, until February, 1879, God saw it proper to remove by death Elkanah Mardock. His last meetings were held at

226 History of Republic County.

Mill Creek and many can now say that he was the instrument in God's hands in bringing them to Christ. Just before the close of the meeting he said "that the veil was getting very thin between him and God. Oh, if I only knew you would be faithful I would not hate to leave you." After the meetings closed he went home, told his wife that that was as far as he could see, and thought God was going to call him to distant lands or was going to call him home, he thought the latter. He withdrew all of his appointments, "He being dead, yet speaketh." (Hebrew 11-4.)

Among our home workers who carried on the work were Townsend Mardock, Steven Hankers and Leah Bales. Wm. P. Haworth, James Kerr and Wm. Harris each labored for a season with them. Lealds Mardock and James Henley too have been efficient ministers. In 1882 they had a membership of 172. In 1886 the number had increased to 351. Owing to the setting up of other meetings in Washington county their numbers were reduced in 1887 to 292, in 1892 again they reached 310, by 1897 their numbers were reduced by removals, death and releasements and a few disowned to 250. At this time the enrollment is the same as in 1882, 172.


The Bohemian church at Cuba was organized in 1876 but meetings had been held at school houses in the neighborhood of Tabor prior to that time. The church was divided in 1888, one part remaining at Cuba under the Presbytery and the other establishing itself at Munden as an independent Bohemia Reform church, having a pastor of its own and owning its house of worship.

The church at Cuba has a fine church building, erected in 1890 and dedicated in October 1891 by Rev. V. Pisek of New York. Frank Rundus was the first pastor at Cuba after the church was built, the cost of which was about $1500. The present membership numbers 50. Preaching

History of Republic County.
   Zelora Maggie Gurnea.
Wesley George Saip.
Charles J. Arbuthnot.
    William Hall Billingsly.
       Nelson J. Ward
Kathryn Maud Stanfield
     Luman Frederick Collins.

History of Republic County. 227

every Thursday night and every Sunday morning by J. A. Kohout, pastor, under whose able and efficient management much good is being acomplished.


The Church of Christ at Wayne was organized by J. H. Speer, September 20th, 1891. Elders James McFarland and J. C. Morford; Deacons, Solomon McVey and B. F. Bashford; Treasurer, Z. Reeder; clerk, Ida A. White. First pastor, I. T. LeBaron. A store building was soon afterwards purchased and fitted up for a church, where social meetings have been regularly held ever since and preaching most of the time. Present membership 35.



The first school house in Republic county was built in 1867, and the first school was taught in the fall of that year by Margaret Tate, a married lady, and oldest daughter of J. G. Tuthill. This was a log house built by Peter Moe, a Swedish pioneer settler, for a dwelling, afterwards purchased of him by the early settlers and finished up for a school house, was located on the N 1/2 of the SE 1/4 of section 18, town 3, range 2, now known as Jefferson township. This building was 18x20 feet, 12 feet high at the eaves, roofed with split oak shingles, known in some timbered countries as "shakes," contained but one room, one door and two windows, was ceiled overhead and had a good board floor, and was, without doubt, the finest and most pretentious building of any kind in Republic county at that time.

In it the first political convention and a few of the first meetings of the board of county commissioners were held, the site of this building having been designated by Gover-

228 History of Republic County.

nor Crawford as the temporary county seat. The district where this school was taught was twelve miles long and six miles wide and embraced all the territory occupied by the first settlers in this part of the county. On the division of this district, for some reason which has never been explained, that part having the first school house and where the first school was taught was named No. 2, and is still so known, and district No. 1 was formed from territory lying next on the south.

There has been some little controversy about where the first school was taught, but from the best information obtainable I am satisfied that the above is correct, in fact there is scarcely a reasonable presumption that it can be otherwise.

The following is a list of the names of the pupils who attended the first school, some of whom are still residents of this county:

George Harris, Sanford Robbins,
Andrew Frint, Inez Jackson,
Fred Frint, Mary Robbins,
Mary M. Frint, Nettie Myers,
Elizabeth Frint, Nate Myers,
Della VanNatta, George Myers,
Hattie Stout, Eva Reily.

There may have been others but these are all the names I have been able to obtain. Mrs. Tate, the teacher, believed with Solomon in a liberal application of the rod. This statement will be verified by George Harris of Cuba, to whom, by permission I refer in case the reader has any doubt.

In this first school house above described, Hon. N. T. VanNatta taught two terms of school; viz, in 1873 and 1874. In the meantime a stone school house had been built on the bill in the same district in which he taught three terms. He was succeeded as teacher by his daughter, Maggie, now the wife of Senator Ward, who taught four terms, and she after a lapse of several years was succeeded by her son, Guy, who taught one term, thus the representatives

History of Republic County. 229

of three generations have been teachers in the same district and in the same school house. How long this succession is to continue remains to be seen.

A school house was built in what is now school district No. 4 in the fall and winter of 1867-68, and a school taught by Miss Viola McBride in the summer of 1868. This school district embraced at that time a territory of nine by fifteen miles and a school population of 18. Among the other schools taught about the same time was one taught in what is now district No. 1, by a Miss Adkins in a part of Captain I. M. Schooley's residence on the NW 1/4 section 7, Grant township, the particulars of which I have been unable to obtain.

I am indebted to Mr. J. D. Leigh of Hardy, Nebraska, for the following sketch of the first school taught in Big Bend township. This was in the winter of 1871-72. "The building used for a school house was on John Pecht's claim being the farm recently sold by Judge Hurst and, being about three and one-half miles northwest of where Republic now is. 'Twas a 'little log cabin' 10x12 or possibly 12x14, built of small cotton-wood logs chinked up and daubed with earth and straw, the straw answering the same purpose hair does in plaster. The building was covered with split poles, brush and straw and also earth. It had a board floor made of rough cotton-wood lumber, and in the south side of the building there was a hole 12x18 inches to admit light and air and watch for Indians by the parties who occupied the building previous to this time.

"After Mr. Pecht bought the claim that had this building upon, he built for himself and family quite a pretentious house out of hewn logs with a shingle roof, moved into it leaving this smaller building vacant which was secured for school purposes. The loop hole was closed up and windows were put into each end by putting in the sash lengthwise, and a board shelf 12 or 14 inches wide was fastened against the wall at each end for the desk, two heavy cotton-wood slabs were secured from the saw mill

230 History of Republic County.

at White Rock, out of which seats were made by boring holes and inserting wooden pins for legs. When a pupil wished to use the desk or shelf he had to turn around and sit with his back to the teacher; and there may have been ten pupils enrolled that term. The first thought that would naturally come to us would be that these boys and girls must have been very backward, this being the first term of school ever taught in the township, but they were from the east and had been out of school less than a year. One of them, Harry Lowe, was from the graded school of Lena, Illinois, and in mental arithmetic was a 'cracker.' It was all that I could possibly do to follow him through the long mental problems that he solved most readily, and Will Hill of McHutcheon's family had attended some Catholic school in Canada, where he studied French, and was naturally as bright as a star. One day I was hearing him read, it was about Washington's home, he came to the word, 'Potomac,' and stopped. I looked at the word, became confused, finally jumped onto it and called it Po-to. mack,' with the accent on the last syllable, and that boy looked up and laughed in the face of as kind a teacher as ever failed to get a certificate, and I saw the confidence in the superior intellectual ability of his teacher fade away from his bright countenance, and I knew something had to be done, and that quick too, so I said: Young man, all proper names are either herbiverous or corniverous and maybe effervescent or suifruetescent and are subject to bifercation, and the accent is always on the ante-peanut syllable, if it was not somewhere else, and it was hard to tell always whether they were roasted or raw, and that in this case I believed Po-to mack' was a little raw. And I had him squelched and held his confidence and respect for the balance of the term of three months, for which I received $25 per month. I say it without boasting or fear of contradiction that it was the best school that had been taught in the township up to that time, and there was not a pen or pencil tablet within fifty miles of us."

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