ITS EARLIEST SETTLEMENT TO THE PRESENT TIME, EMBRACING INCIDENTS AND HARDSHIPS OF PIONEER LIFE, THE RISE AND PROGRESS MADE IN TWENTY-TWO YEARS.
LOCATION, RESOURCES, FERTILITY OF ITS SOIL, ETC., ETC.
MAJ. E. N. MORRILL
KANSAS HERALD BOOK, NEWS AND JOB OFFICE
JULY 4TH, 1876
On the 30th day of May, 1854, the Act of Congress providing for a territorial organization of the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska, was signed by President Pierce, and became a law, and the large amount of public lands embraced within their boundaries was thrown open to settlement under the pre-emption laws of the United States. Under the provisions of that Act an election was held on the 8th of March, 1855, to choose members of the first Legislature of the Territory of Kansas. The Legislature thus elected met at Pawnee and soon after adjourned to meet at Shawnee Manual Labor School oh the 22nd of July of the same year. At this session of the Legislature an act was passed, districting a portion of the territory into counties and naming the counties thus laid off. This act provides that Browne county shall be bounded as follows: Beginning at the southwest corner of Doniphan county, thence west twenty-four miles, thence south thirty miles, thence east to the west line of Atchison comity, thence north to the northwest corner of Atchison county, thence east with said line of Atchison county, to the northwest corner of Doniphan county, thence north with said west line of Doniphan county to place of beginning. It will be observed that two serious mistakes occur in this description-at the commencement it should be northwest corner
of Doniphan county, and near the close it should be southwest corner of Doniphan county. The same act attached the County of Browne to the County of Doniphan for civil and military purposes. In regard to the origin of the name, there seems to be quite; a difference of opinion. The Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture, Hon. Alfred Gray, in his report for 1875, says "Brown county was named in honor of Hon. Albert G, Brown of Mississippi, who was a member of the United States Senate at - the time of the passage of the act organizing Kansas Territory. In support of this view, a letter from Judge F. G. Adams, an old and honored citizen of the State is herewith submitted.
"Topeka, Kansas, April 6, 1876
Hon. Alfred Grey, Sec'y State Board of Agriculture:
Dear Sir:-You have shown me the letter of Hon. E. N. Merrill in which he expresses a doubt as to the correctness of your Fourth Annual Report, in respect to the origin of the name of Brown county.
I furnished you the information for the item in your report upon the authority of Hon. John Martin, of Topeka who was a clerk in the legislature during which the county was originally established and named-the session of 1855 -the first territorial session, held at Shawnee Mission, in Johnson county.
Mr. Martin's recollection was quite clear on the
point and his information was so explicit that I had no doubt to its correctness. Since seeing Major Morrills letter
to you, I have made further inquiry on the subject of Mr. Alex. S. Johnson and Mr. H. D. McMeekin, of this city,
both of whom were members of that first Territorial legislature. They fully agreed with Mr. Martin, that the county
was named in honor of Albert G. Brown, of Mississippi, as stated in your report.
In respect to the orthography of the name, I have examined, and find the following facts:
The act of 1855, defining the boundaries of the counties of Kansas, gives the spelling Browne. It is so in the
published statutes and journals, and so in the enrolled bill preserved in the Secretary of-State's office.
But it does not so occur in the enrolled bills of the second session of the Legislature, held in 1857, commencing at Lecompton, Jan. 4th of that year. In the enrolled bills of that second session the final e is dropped from Brown county. This is so in an act redefining the boundaries of the several counties of the Territory, and the same is true as to all of the enrolled bills of that session, including one redistricting the Territory for legislative purposes. But in the published statutes of that session, 1857, the name is invariably printed with the final e-following the statutes of 1845.
The enrolled bill is the highest authority of variance like this. It was then the legislature of 1857 that changed the orthography from Browne to Brown. The latter or thography has since been followed in Kansas statutes.
Major Morrill was a member of the House of Representatives at the third legislative session, and the first page of the House journal of that session shows that he appeared as the member from the fourth and fifth districts, embracing Brown and Nemaha counties--the final e being omitted in the Journal as in all the laws and proceedings of that session.
Albert G. Brown's name was not spelled with a final e. If, then, Messrs. Johnson, Martin and McMeekin are correct, as they doubtless are, in their recollection, that the legislature of 1855 intended to honor the Mississippi Senator. by giving his name to the county, a clerical error was made in the enrollment of the bill-an error which went into the printed statutes of that and the succeeding sessions, and so into the early records of the county. There was no member of the legislature from Doniphan named Brown, nor from that part of the Territory, during these early sessions. Brown was attached to Doniphan at the first session, and detached at the second. In the act detaching, it was named Brown without the e.
The legislature, at its second session, was pro-slavery.
and could not, in dropping the e, have made the change for the purpose of honoring old John Brown. No formal act in regard to the name was ever passed, other than those of the two pro-slavery legislatures. The succeeding legislatures, in acts in which the same occurs, have simply followed the orthography fixed by the acts of 1857.
It is not singular that Major Morrill should have fallen into error in this matter. Doubtless he had not, at the time, taken notice of the precise facts. John Brown's "trail" crossed Brown county. It is a settled tradition in that section that the county was named after the old martyr. It gives me no pleasure to dispel the error.
Yours, F. G ADAMS.
Sec. State Hist. Society."
This seems improbable, for in the act defining the boundaries, the name is spelled with a final e; and in the laws of that session as well as in the laws of the pro-slavery legislature of l857, it is, without exception, spelled with the terminal e. It seems hardly reasonable to suppose that a legislative body desiring to honor a distinguished man by giving to a new county his name would fail to follow his orthography in the spelling of that name. Among the early settlers of the county it was generally reported and universally accepted as a fact, that the county was named in honor of O. H. Browne, a prominent member of the legislature of 1855, who represented Douglas county. In support of this side of the question, the following letters are given from influential members of that legislature, now living in the State. J. H. Stringfellow, of Atchison, writes the Champion as follows:
"Mr. EDITOR:-In a communication some short time since in your valuable paper from Judge F. G.. Adams, who is usually so correct, there is an error regarding the name of Brown county, which should be corrected, as it is likely to become a part of the future history of Kansas. I am not surprised that the facts have become confused, as so long a time has elapsed, and such tremendous events have intervened since their occurrence. The name of the
county was originally Browne, after a very brilliant and very eccentric member of the House at the time, O. H. Browne, of the then Third Representative District, and a resident of what is now Douglas county, where he died some few years since. There were several counties named after members of the one or the other of the two houses, viz., Johnson, after Rev. Thos. Johnson, a member of the Council; Lykins, after Rev. David Lykins, of the Council, an ex-Indian missionary; Coffey, after A. M. Coffey, of the Council from Kentucky; Anderson, after Joseph C. Anderson, of the House; Marshall, after F. I. Marshall, of the House.
Of the above gentlemen, I think only two are now living-F. I. Marshall, now of Colorado, an enterprising, intelligent man, and highly respected; and J. C. Anderson, now. I think, of Kentucky, a very intelligent lawyer, and all of them men of unblemished personal character.
J. H. STRINGFELLOW Atchison, Kan.
Col. T. W. Waterson also adds his testimony in the same direction.
Marysville, Kan., June 28, 1876.
Hon. E. N. MORRILL:-Dear sir.-Yours of the 26th inst. came to hand last evening. In reply I would say that my recollection is very clear that the origin and reason of your county being called Browne was, that a man by the name of O. H. Browne was a member of the legislature at that time, and was very desirous of having a county called for him, as were a good many other members. For instance, Marshall, Richardson, Johnson, Coffey, Lykins, etc., were all named after members. If this does not cover the ground, please let me hear from you and I will, try and give all the information I can.
Yours Truly, THOS. W. WATERSON.
Honorable John A. Halderman, of Leavenworth, also a member of the first Legislature, writes: "My recollection is that Browne county was called for O. H. Browne, a member of the first House of Representatives, who died, a
few years since, in Osage; and not for Hon. A. G. Brown, of Mississippi.
This would seem to prove conclusively that the intention of the first legislature was to honor one of their members by giving his name to this county. Why the final e was subsequently dropped does not appear: but as the name is spelled Browne wherever it appears in the laws enacted by the pro-slavery legislatures and Brown in all the laws enacted by Free-state legislatures, it is fair to-presume that the name was changed for political reasons.
In the early records of Doniphan county the following entries are found pertaining to Browne county. At a meeting of the commissioners of Doniphan county, on Monday, the 17th day of Sept. A. D. 1855, it was ordered that the county of Browne be and it is hereby organized as a municipal township to be known as Browne county township.
Ordered, That the Territorial election for Delegate to the next Congress of the United States be held at the house of W. C. Foster, on the SouthFork of the Nemaha for the county of Browne and that Wm. C. Foster, Wm. Purket and E. W. Short be appointed judges to hold the same.
Ordered, That a vote of the people be taken on the day of the territorial election authorizing the county court to grant or withhold license for the retail of ardent spirits in each township. It may be printed or written on each ticket, License, or No License.
Ordered. That John C. Boggs and Wm. C. Foster be appointed Justices of the Peace, and that Wm. Purket be appointed Constable for the county of Brown, in the territory of Kansas, for, and during the term prescribed by law and until their successors are duly elected and qualified. At the January term, 1856 the following orders were passed. Ordered that John W. Smith be and he is hereby appointed assessor of Brown and Doniphan counties for and during the term prescribed by law and until his successor is elected and qualified; and that he be requested to enter into bond to the Territory of Kansas in
the penal sum of FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS conditioned for the faithful performance of the duties of his office. Ordered, That A. Hays be and he is hereby appointed special Marshal to take the census of Doniphan and Brown counties during the term prescribed by law.
June 16, 1856, the following orders were entered. Ordered, That the account filed with the clerk of this court by Henry Adams and R. L. Kirk, commissioners to locate a Territorial road from Atchison to Marysville, amounting: to one hundred and four dollars and twenty-five cents against Brown county for surveying said road through said county be and the same is hereby audited and allowed against said county; and that the clerk of this Tribunal be and he is hereby authorized to issue warrants on. Brown county and in favor of the several persons whose names are mentioned in the account. Ordered, That the court will not allow the items in the above account for use of tent and cooking utensils and provisions, amounting to $12.96.
Here follows a long report of the road commissioners of the road above referred to.
July 22, 1856, an order was passed directing the county surveyor to survey and mark out the boundary line between Brown and Doniphan counties. On the 16th of Sept., 1850, several orders were passed pertaining to Brown county. Among them was one that the assessor should file seperate bills for assessing against Doniphan and Brown counties and his assessment rolls should be received provided that pre-emption claims and shares in joint stock companies not incorporated shall not be taxed. It was also ordered that township ranges numbered 15 and 16 in Brown county be and they are hereby constituted a municipal township, to be known as Walnut township; and that an election for members to the next legislative assembly of the Territory of Kansas, to be held at the house of W. C. Foster, in said township, on the 1st Monday in October next, and that W. C. Foster, and be and they are hereby appointed judges to hold said election. Ordered that township ranges 17
and 18 be and they are hereby constituted a municipal township to be known as Mission township and that an election for members of the next Legislative assembly of the Territory of Kansas be held at the house of Henry Smith, on the 1st Monday of October next, within and for said township, and that Henry Smith. - Thompson and James Smith be and they are herein appointed judges to the same. Ordered that the rate of tax for county purposes for Brown county for the present year shall be fifty cents for each poll and one-sixth of one per cent on all other taxable property. On the 17th of Nov., 1856, the account of John W. Smith for assessing Brown county was allowed, amounting to $48. The foregoing, with the exception of a few orders pertaining to road and personal matters, seem to be all the orders of the commissioners of Doniphan county relating to Brown county business.
On page 44 of laws of 1857, the boundaries of the county are again given, correcting the errors in the laws of 1855 and the name is still spelled with an e. On page 84 of the same session laws is an act approved Feb. -, which reads as follows: That the county of Browne, which is attached to the county of Doniphan is hereby detached from said - county of Doniphan. That Claytonville be the temporary-seat of justice of Browne county. That at the first general election there shall be three commissioners elected, who shall, after first taking an oath, etc., proceed to locate the permanent seat of justice. That the present legislature of the Territory of Kansas shall elect a Probate Judge. Sheriff and two commissioners for Browne county who shall hold their offices until the general election in October, 1857, and until their successors are elected and (qualified. During the same session of the legislature Geo. E. Clayton was elected Probate Judge of Bowne county-the Probate Judge being under the then existing law, chairman of the county commissioners court. Henry Smith and D. M. Lochuane were elected commissioners, but as Mr. Lochuane was not a resident of the county at the time, this left a vacancy in the board which was not,
however, filled. Pettus Thompson was elected Sheriff, but he declined the office and did not qualify. The court thus constituted formally organized and held a session at Claytonville on the 16th day of March 1857, in a small log house which is still standing and which now forms a part of the residence of O. C. Whitney, Esq. This was the first court ever held in Brown county, and this log hut was the first court house. The first act of the court was to appoint James Waterson clerk. James A. Fulton was appointed Sheriff, but later in the day this appointment was for some reason rescinded and at the following session he was again appointed. John Dunbar was appointed Treasurer and E. M. Hubbard Coronor. Dunbar probably-declined to act as at the next session of the court Richard L. Oldham was appointed Treasurer. The court then divided the county into four municipal townships, nearly equal in extent of territory, naming the N. E. township Irving, the S. E. Claytonville, the S. W. Lochuane and the N. W. Walnut Creek. Ira H. Smith was appointed county surveyor but he refused to accept any appointment at the hands of this court, holding that the legislature that provided for the organization of the county was forced upon the territory by fraud and violence. Joseph A. Brown was appointed assessor and M. C. Willis, Justice of the Peace. At the next session of this court, held March 21, 1857, it was ordered that John H. Whitebead have a license to sell intoxicating liquors at his store in Kinnekuk for six months from April 1, 1857, upon payment of $25. As Kinnekuk was just over the line in Atchison county and entirely beyond the jurisdiction of this tribunal, it was evidently a clear gain of $25 to the county. At the same session of the court it was ordered that $500 be appropriated for the building of a court house on the north square in Claytonville, said house to be a frame 30 feet long and 20 feet wide and to be enclosed by 1st of June, 1857. Richard L. Oldham was appointed commissioner to build this house. A tax levy was made at this session of one-sixth of one per cent for county purposes, and one-sixth of
one per cent for building purposes. Under an act of the pro-slavery legislature all persons who settled upon secs. 16 and 36 (school land) before the survey of the public lands, were required to prove their settlement before the county court and pay to the county Treasurer $l.25 per acre for such lands-the money thus received to be made a permanent school fund. Quite a number of the early settlers of the county-M. L. Sawin, Thomas Brigham, John Page. Jos. Farron, Ely Corneilison, F. M. Starns, Isaac H. Barkley and Nathaniel Kimberlin proved their settlement before the county court but the U. S. Government refused to recognize this disposition of the lands and required the parties to prove their settlement at the U. S. Land Office, treating these lands as Government lands and not school lands. At the session of this court held May 18, 1857, E. H. Niles, Thurston Chase, Noah Hanson and others petitioned to have school districts organized in town 2, range 16. This seems to be the first action ever taken in the county towards organizing school districts and came from a section of the county which for many years took the lead in educational matters. The next day a petition was presented from the settlers in town 3, range 18 to have that township organized into school districts. The records fail to show who the petitioners were. At this time voting precincts were established for the county, at house of W. C. Foster, for Walnut Creek township; at house of J. B. Heaton, at Mt. Roy, for Irving township; at house of C. W. Magill for Lochnane township ; and at hotel in Claytonville for that township.
Lewis Dunn was appointed Justice of the Peace at this session. Petitions for roads were presented and necessary action taken to establish them at each session of the commissioners court during the whole year of 1857. At the next session of the court, held July 20, Leander Sawyer and John G. Spencer were appointed Justices of the Peace. The Sheriff of the county, who was, by virtue of his office, collector of taxes, submitted a report for the year 1856, a copy of which is herewith given in full.
BROWN CO., KANSAS TERRITORY:
In acc't with James A. Fulton,
1857. Collector of said county.
Cr. By the tax book of 1856 $106.41
" J. H. Whitehead's license 25.00
" G. W. Williams 25.00
Dr. To per centage for collecting revenue $7.40
To per centage for collecting License 1.00
Of the above account there is due to John W. Smith, Assessor of Brown county, $38.60
There is lost of the revenue of the couuty by error of the assessor assessing persons out of the county and delinquent as per my return $69.51
And there is in my hands, belonging to the Territory, the sum of, less percentage and mileage, $64.91
JAMES A. FULTON,
Sheriff and Collector of Brown Co.
The returns of the Sheriff show that twenty-two persons; were illegally assessed, not being residents of the
Territory on the 1st of March the time from which the assessment dated. These persons were charged with a tax of
$54.34 which being deducted from the full amount of the tax books for the year leaves a legal tax for the whole
of Browne county for the year 1850 of $52.07. As it is before shown that John W. Smith was allowed by Doniphan
county court $48 for making the assessment, and James A. Fulton was allowed $7.40 for collecting the same, the
total taxes that year failed to pay for assessment and collection, by $3.33: and Browne county was $3.33 poorer
after collecting the tax than it was before the assessment,
In August, 1857, the commissioner appointed to contract for building a court house reported that he had contracted with A. Heed to build a house for $500; that the work was done, the building received, and that Heed was entitled to his money. This was the first court house owned by the county. It did not prove a very paying in-
vestment as the county sold it not long after, to Sam'l W. Wade, for $100. On the 19th of October, 1857, this court held its last session, and the reign of the pro-slavery dynasty was forever ended in Browne county. While the free-state men, who, during the whole term of their reign, from March to November, were largely in the majority, firmly believed that the legislature that elected these men was utterly illegal and without any just power to act, they wisely concluded that it was better to quietly submit for the short time that would elapse before the election would be held, than to jeopardize the peace and quiet of the community and retard the material interests of the county by resistance to the powers in authority. Simple justice to these commissioners demands that it should be here stated that the free-state men had no occasion to complain of the conduct of this court, and that they were not governed by partisan feelings in their acts-leading freestate men being repeatedly appointed to positions of honor and trust. Up to this time, (Oct., 1857) but three elections had been held in the county under the territorial laws. The first was on the first day of October, 1855, at which there were FOUR VOTES cast, all being for J. W. Whitfield for Delegate to Congress. This is the first recorded vote in the county and is without doubt the first election ever held within its borders. It is to be hoped that candidates for office were correspondingly scarce or the four poor fellows who were entitled to the rights of suffrage would have been "bored" to death. The next election was on the 6th of October 1856, for Delegate to Congress and members of the legis-lature. At this election J. W. Whitfield had 16 votes for Delegate and X. K. Stout, B. O. Driscoll and T. W. Waterson, all, at that time, residents of Doniphan county, received 17 votes for members of legislature. On the l3th of June, 1857, an election was held to select two delegates to attend a Constitutional Convention to be held at Lecompton. At this election, Henry Smith received 36 votes and Cyrus Dolman 44 votes in the district comprising Brown and Nemaha counties.
None of those elections really give any just idea of the number of votes in the county at the times of the elections, as the free-state men of the county, acting in harmony with their party throughout the Territory, steadily refused to vote. The act of the legislature providing for the election of delegates to a Constitutional Convention also provided for the taking of a census. This was done in Browne county by Geo. E. Clayton, Probate Judge, there being then no Sheriff. There is no reason to doubt that it was accomplished with as much accuracy as is usual in such enumerations. He gave the number of voters at 205, but made no return of the whole number of inhabitants. Counting these inhabitants to each voter, which at that time would be a very liberal estimate, as a large number of single men were in the county taking "claims," the whole population of the county could not exceed 615. On the 5th of October, 1857, the territorial election for that year was held, and as the free-state men were at the polls in full force, it is safe to say that a full vote was cast. At this election W. G. Sargent was elected Probate Judge; A. B. Anderson and Jacob Englehart, County Commissioners; Moses P. Proctor, Treasurer; Franklin O. Sawin, Sheriff, by a vote of 136 to 72 - the vote by townships being as follows;
By this vote the control of the county passed into the hands of the free-state men, and the pro-slaveryites were ever after in a hopeless minority.
Brown and Nemaha counties at this time constituted the 4th and 5th Rep. districts and were entitled to one member. E. N. Morrill was elected, receiving 283 votes while E. M. Hubbard, the Democratic candidate received 102 votes.
Turning from a consideration of the political organization of the county, your attention is invited to that of its early settlement.
It is hardly probable that any white man was living in the county at the time of the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. Near its eastern line, in Doniphan county, an Indian Mission had been in existence for years, at which several white persons resided. One of the overland routes to California, or as it is more familiarly known, the "California Trail," entered the county on its eastern border, nearly midway north and south, and wound along on the divides, avoiding all streams on account of difficulty in crossing; passing on the north of Drummond's Branch, crossing the western part of the present site of Hiawatha, then following the divide between the head waters of the Wolf and Walnut, left the county near the present site of Sabetha. Hundreds of teams and thousands of persons had probably passed over this trail during the five preceeding years on the weary journey to the gold mines of the Pacific Coast. A gentleman who made the trip in 1849, afterwards related that while his party, consisting of thirty men, were camping near the head of Drummond's Branch, he, with two others, started out in search of game and as they came upon the high prairie in sight of the timber at the northwest and at the south, they discovered a small herd of buffalo, and after a short chase, succeeded in killing one in the timber nearly east of where Hiawatha now stands. From this description of the point where the buffalo were first discovered, it would seem as though it must have been on or near the present site of Hiawatha; and the wood where it was killed was probably on or near the farm now owned by Dr. Seburn. Nothing of interest can be related of the county prior to its settlement by the whites. While the Indians, doubtless, roamed over its prairies and hunted in the beautiful woods that skirt its streams, there is an utter barren
Ness of romantic traditions and the conclusion is inevitable that the redskins who hunted deer in Brown county were very common place Indians among whom it would have puzzled Cooper to find a hero, or Longfellow a Hiawatha to woo the lovely Munchaha. There is a tradition that a battle of some magnitude was fought a mile or two east of our present county seat near a spring on the farm now owned by W. S. Hall, Esq., and the early settlers report that they found skulls scattered around there and therefore they named it "Skull Spring." To determine with any degree of certainty who was the first settler is nearly impossible. A dozen men may have settled at the same time in different sections of the county, unknown to each other. Many of the old settlers who are now living in the county can only tell the month they came; and scores who settled here in the early days became dissatisfied and sought other and fairer fields, while many have, doubtless, travelled that journey from which no early traveler has ever returned. To give the names of those who are known to have been pioneers in opening this county to settlement and to leave the question of priority open, seems the only true course to pursue. Many came in from Missouri, marked claims, made some slight improvements and returned to their homes to harvest their crops, previously planted there and to spend the winter. Others, coming from a greater distance, made permanent settlements at once. On the 11th day of May, 1854, Thurston Chase and James Gibbons marked claims on Wolf River, the former taking the farm now owned by Mr. Pittman. They remained on their land two or three weeks, seeing no white man during that time. Mr. Chase broke several acres of prairie; and returning in August, built a small log house which afterweards burned down. On the 25th of May, C. H. Isely and Peter and Christ Luginbuhl left St. Joseph on foot to explore the section of country lying west of that city. The second day the passed the Indian Mission near Highland, and at noon stopped to rest and take their dinner on the little stream three miles west of Highland. That evening when
A few miles east of Hiawatha they were overtaken by a terrible storm and before they could reach the friendly shelter of the timber, night set in and they were obliged to remain on the prairie, unprotected from the storm during the night, which proved a very dark and rainy one. To make it still more uncomfortable, they discovered, during the night, by the vivid flashes of lightning, a small band of Indians with their ponies, near by them. When morning came, Mr. Isely proposed to continue their journey; but the others, thoroughly disgusted with their first experience in pioneer life, refused to go further, and the party returned to St. Joseph. In June, 1854, W. C. Foster settled in the eastern part of Nemaha county, passing over Brown county, under the impression that it was the Indian Trust lands. A few months later, learning his mistake he settled where he now lives. On August 3, of that year, E. R. Corneilison took a claim on Walnut Creek and on the 11th of the next March moved upon it with his family. His brother Wallace came at the same time. Thomas Brigham took a claim near Padonia at about the same time, and moved his family into the county the following spring. Henry Gragg settled in Powhattan township that fall and Isaac Sawin and his son Marcellus settled on the farm now owned by Jacob Hayward and immediately commenced improving it. John Belk and his sons, William and King took claims near Padonia in November. James L. Wilson, William and Thomas Duncan, and ____ Farmer settled near Robinson that summer or fall. William and James Metts took claims on Poney Creek in November. Jacob Englehart settled on the farm now owned by B. F. Partch near Hiawatha and Benj. Winkles and his sons Geo. G. and Benj. Jr., settled on Walnut Creek in the Autumn of that year. Robert Rhea, who now lives southeast of Sabetha, took a claim in 1854. The inter of 1854-55 was a remarkable mild one, the ground remaining so free from frost that plowing could be done during the entire winter. In 1855, quite a number made homes in the new county. It is impossible to get a full or complete list of
The names of all who settled in the county during this year. Among them were Amasa Owen, who marked the first road from Hiawatha to Walnut Creek a year later; Joseph Dean, Jesse Strange, J. K. Bunn, who was one of the first constables in the county; Henry Woodward, James W. Belts, John G. Spencer, Jesse Duval; Henry Smith, afterwards one of the county commissioners of the county, who brought with him three slaves - a negro woman named Lena, and her two children; J. Peevy, Specer Bentley, Geo. Roberts, Clifton Gentry, E. W. Short, Loyd Ashby, Thomas Hart, W. P. and W. J. Proctor, Stephen Hughes and family - Mrs. Hughes being the first white woman in Robinson township; A.B. Anderson, Ole Nelson, James Bridgman, Wm. Nash, who died in Dec., 1855; E. Huffman, Rudolph Zimmerman, Christian Zimmerman, John Moser, John Wilhoit, Bradford Sweangen, Sol McCall, T. J. Kenyon, John Sperry, Squire Griffeth, J.A . Alford, Thomas Strange, John & Wm. Vincent, Frank J. Robbins, John Poe, Wm. Purket, John Boggs, who died in May, 1857 and John Schmidt. John S. Taylor, afterwards assessor and county commissioner, settled in Weiss, Isaac Chase, J. j. Weltmer, Jonathan Soden, Isaac Oxier, Wm. Webb, James Smith, James Cameron, James Waterson, T. J. Drummond, John Page, Daniel Miller.
Early in 1855, the settlers on Walnut Creek formed a protective association, chose officers and enacted laws for the government of the new community. Rigid laws were enacted by this association to protect its members in their claims and it has been inundated that these laws were frequently stretched to protect them in holding two or three claims each. The sale of intoxicating liquors to the Indians was strictly prohibited. The first trial for violating this code took place at the house of Jesse Padon - a small log hut which all the settlers prior to 1862 will remember as standing on the banks of the Walnut near Schmidt's saw mill. Complain had been made that Rob-
ert Boyd and Elisha Osborn had been selling whiskey to the Indians. The settlers, sixteen in number, had gathered
with the firm determination to enforce their laws at all hazards; but one in the whole settlement was absent and
he was too ill to attend. When they were ready to proceed, E. R. Corneilison called their attention to the fact
that the accused were not present, and asked that they be sent for. This was very summarily overruled and the trial
went on. Witnesses were examined; the testimony was direct and to the point; and after a very brief deliberation
a verdict of guilty was rendered and it was decided that the stock of liquors held by these men should be destroyed
and that they should pay a fine of twenty dollars and leave the county at once. Padon was appointed to carry out
the sentence and the others all went along to assist in enforcing the law. The house in which Boyd & Osborn
kept their liquors stood at the edge of Pilot Grove, about three miles from Padonia. When the squad arrived at
the house the accused were called out and informed that they had been tried, convicted and sentenced and that the
officers of the law were then and there prepared to enforce the order. They replied that they would cheerfully
give up their liquors and pay the fine but begged not to be forced to leave their homes. They also promised faithfully
that they would never again be guilty of a like act. After the party had duly considered the matter, and taken
a "sniffer" all around, they concluded that it was too bad to waste such valuable property, so the parties
paid the fine of twenty dollars, promised to sell no more fire-water to the Indians, and were allowed to retain
their liquors and remain at their homes. The twenty dollars was equally divided among the posse, each receiving
$1.25 for his day's work and all returned to their homes.
On the 10th of September, 1855, Joanna Duncan, daughter of William Duncan, was born. She was probably the first white child born in the county. On the 20th of September John Bunn, son of J. K. Bunn was born.
In October of the same year a son was born to John Morse, under circumstances so peculiar that they deserve a record in these sketches. The preceding March he had moved his family from St. Joseph to a claim on Wolf. Too poor to own a team, he had hired one to bring himself, wife and four little ones to the first home he could ever call his own. In a grove on Wolf creek, east of Robinson, he set up housekeeping - his total earthly store consisting of one quilt, a skille5t, a barrel and a gun. He soon built a rude cabin out of rail-cuts and small poles, making a 10 feet square and covering it with "shakes" rifted from the sturdy oaks. Morse is represented as an inoffensive kind-hearted man but for more inclined to rove and hunt than to settle down to the hard toil necessary to make a home in the wilds. While he was away on one of his hunting excursions his wife was confined. Conscious that the time was fast approaching in which another immortal soul would be ushered into existence, she sent the children to the woods to gather wild grapes, and hastily arranging her rude and scanty couch, was delivered of a healthy, living child. With no friendly hand to render her the slightest assistance, she cared for herself and when the children returned from the woods she presented them with a little brother and went on with her usual household duties.
In 1856, the troubled, excited state of political affairs prevented any large immigration to the Territory. The border counties were controlled by organized bands of border ruffians who would suffer no outspoken free-state man to remain in the Territory; to such the very decisive alternative was given leave or die. The infamous Richardson with his band of cutthroats made occasional raids on the eastern border of the county, keeping the settlers in a constant state of terror. Many an old settler remembers well the long and weary nights spent in the corn fields and woods when he dared not remain under his roof. All had dogs and the barking of these faithful guardians at night was a signal for the settler to take unceremonious
ly to the brush, trusting that the scoundrels who were hunting his life would have manliness enough to leave unharmed his wife and dear ones. Fortunately for the good name of Brown county, there were no serious outbreaks within its borders. The honest, sober, industrious citizens of both sides did all in their power to preserve the peace and prevent any violation of the law and the kindliest feelings existed between neighbors who were directly opposed to each other politically.
It has not been possible to get a full list of the settlers of 1856, but among them were E. H. Niles, Sam'l and Frank Myers, Wm. Leper, Chas. Smith, ___ Wheeler, Newton Barnes and his brother, Stephen Pilot, Caleb Magill, Jonathan Scott, W. S. Hill, Simeon Wilkinson, Isaac Perkins, Lewis C. Dunn, John Schmidt, D. McFarland, Wm. Gardner, David Peebles, Wm. McBride, John McGuire, M. C. Willis, C. Goff and ___ Goff, WM. and James Ross, Dr. Nesbit, John H. Maxwell.
In the summer and fall of 1856 several of the afterwards prominent town sites were located. Carson was laid out by D. McFarland and others. Padonia, Plymouth and Lexington were selected by Gen. J. H. Lane, and his associates. Lane had about forty men with him all well armed with Sharps rifles and revolvers. They also had a small piece of artillery which they buried on Poney creek when they left the Territory at a later day. Repeated but unsuccessful efforts were made a few years afterwards to find this cannon and from later developments it seems probable that it was secretly removed by members of the company who had assisted in burying it. At Plymouth rude breastworks were thrown up for protection in case of attack and at Lexington a small fort of hewn logs was erected. Rumors of advancing forces of border ruffians were in frequent circulation and the settlers as well as Lane and his command were in a constant state of excitement.
Claytonville was laid off in the fall of 1856 by Geo. E. Clayton and others.
John Schmidt that year built a saw mill on the Walnut,
Near Padonia, and a substantial dam was erected; but all vestige of mill and dam has long since disappeared.
The first school ever taught in the county was in 1856. The school house was a small log cabin, which then stood
on farm of John Krey, and the teacher was Samuel C. Shields, Esq., now an honored citizen of Highland. This cabin
was built in 1855 and was also used as a church. Religious services were held in it soon after it was built. In
1855, Rev. Mr. Allspaugh, of the M. E. Church, held religious services in the grove near John Belk's house. The
settlers came in ox wagons and but three women were present in the congregation. These were without question the
first religious services ever held by white men in the county.
In the fall of 1856, a company of the U. S. troops were sent into the northwestern part of the county for the pretended purpose of protecting the settlers at the elections. As there was not the slightest reason to anticipate any trouble there and as serious troubles did exist in the border counties and free-state men were not allowed to vote, it seems certain that the troops were designedly sent here where they could not possibly be of any service, to be out of the way of the obliging Missourians who proposed to do the voting for Kansas. A few miles in advance of the troops was John Brown, his two sons, Redpath and one or two others on their way east by Nebraska City and Iowa. During the day a suspicious looking stranger joined their party and travelled with them a few miles. When they crossed Poney Creek, John Brown, who was suffering from malarial fever, concluded to stop with Morgan Willet, whom he well knew to be as true as steel and the rest of the party travelled on. After travelling a mile or two, the stranger made some excuse and left the party, Brown's sons were at once suspicious and as soon as night set in went back and got their father and hurried on their journey. About midnight Willett's house was surrounded by troops who demanded that John Brown be given up to them; but the bird had flown and was then
Safe in Nebraska. Fortunately too, for some of those soldiers, for the gallant old hero was prepared to sell his life dearly for he had forty shots all ready. In the western part of the county, running north and south, was a road much travelled by free-state men and known to all as Jim Lane's road. When it was impossible for a northern man to travel undisturbed through Missouri, hundreds and thousands came into the Territory and left it over this road. Brown knew this road well and often travelled it. He established on it an under ground railroad with frequent stations kept by true and trusted men, who loved liberty better than life and who sympathized most heartily with the poor slaves. The line extended from Lawrence and Topeka to Nebraska city, and thence eastward. Mr. Smith who lived east of Grenada, kept a station in this county. These stopping places were from 10 to 20 miles apart, depending of course upon finding men who could be trusted. Geo. Graham, afterwards senator from this district and State Treasurer, was agent at Albany and did noble service in the good cause. In 1859 they became suspicious of some agents in Nebraska and to guard against possible failure, sent guides from Albany through to Iowa. W. B. Slosson now a resident of Sabetha and John L. Graham a gallant soldier who afterwards fell while leading his company at the battle of Chicamauga, made several trips in charge of these fugitives. Hundreds of poor fugitives passed over this line were kindly fed and cared for until they had safety passed beyond the reach of the slaveholder's lash. In 1859, John Brown conducted his last train over this road. He had 18 slaves - no not slaves then, thank God - fugitives with him and when south of Holton and between that place and Topeka, he was surrounded by a band of border ruffians. Brave old John Ritchie came up from Topeka with 30 men, released him from his danger and escorted him through to Albany. Several of his comrades on that trip were with him afterwards at Harper's Ferry and suffered with their noble leader. In November, 1857,
Brown was detained on Poney Creek by a severe storm and for several days was kindly cared for by Jonathan Scott and family. There is no doubt the staunch free-state element of Brown county had much to do in moulding the sentiments of our State.
Few persons who have not experienced the hardships and deprivations of a settlement in a new country can at all realize what they are. The settlers of 1854 were from forty to fifty miles from any point where they could obtain supplies. The city of St. Joseph was their nearest trading point and to that city they went for their mails also. They had but scanty supplies to start with; for without exception they were poor - rich men are seldom found among pioneers. With but little means to replenish their scanty stock when exhausted, they struggled on enduring hardships and privations utterly unknown to you now. The nearest neighbor often miles away; no physician within a day's ride, they were forced to care for themselves as best they could. One little incident illustrates most strikingly the inconvenience of being so remote from larger settlements. A gentleman and his son, felling trees, one frosty morning in the winter of 1855-56, to fence their farm, had the misfortune to break their axes. Before they could resume their work they were compelled to go to St. Joseph, fifty miles away, with an ox team to get new axes. In 1856 a trading was built up at Iowa Point and for two or three years supplies for the whole county were purchased there. All old settlers will remember very kindly W. D. Beeler, and R. M. and C. M. Williams, who sold thousands of dollars worth of goods to be brought into this county. The spring of 1857 opened with far brighter prospects for the new Territory. Peace was, in a great measure, restored. The free-state element had steadily increased, notwithstanding the determined effort to establish slavery on its soil. The troubles of the preceding two years had advertised Kansas all over the country, and a large immigration was the natural result. At this time there were few
Houses in the county that could by any stretch of the imagination be called comfortable. There were hardly more than a hundred families in the county and these occupied small cabins built almost without exception near the timber that skirts the streams. Few of these buildings had more than one room. The new comers received a hearty welcome and were most hospitably treated, but the accommodations were but scanty at the best. Early in the spring quite a colony came from Maine, among them W. G. Sargent, Noah Hanson, George Ross, Summer Shaw, ____ Deering, J. G. Leavitt, I. P. Winslow and the writer. On Walnut Creek many of the new settlers found homes with E. H. Niles while they were erecting houses for themselves. His house consisted of two small log cabins about twelve by fourteen feet standing about ten feet apart and connected by a roof. In one of these cabins there was a low attic. Mr. Niles family consisted of himself, wife and six children and yet for weeks he had thirteen boarders, making in all twenty one persons who found lodging in that small house. Few of those who enjoyed the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Niles will ever forget the many little acts of kindness so acceptable to the stranger in a strange land. Both have since crossed the dark valley.
Another family, noted for its hospitality to those who were seeking homes, was that of John Doe, a noble generous hearted Kentuckian, who lived near the mouth of Mulberry Creek. His house was built of logs and was about sixteen feet square and contained one room. Yet with a family of seven, during all the spring and summer of 1857 they provided for quite a number of boarders. Padonia House was another famous boarding place. To provide sleeping room bunks had been built against one side of the cabin one above another. One could find representatives of all kinds of society among the new settlers. Men who had occupied leading positions in society in the east and who had met with pecuniary
Reverses, sought homes in the new territory where they could commence anew surrounded by those equally unfortunate. Lawyers, who had great ideas of their ability to make successful farmers and who in their imaginations had counted their cattle upon a thousand hills, were often found among them. On the other hand could be found the "poor white" of the south with hardly energy enough to hold the plow. It was a strange mixing of all classes and kinds. Almost every state in the Union was represented. Some of these held views that would hardly be acceptable in their native states. For instance, the most bitter anti-slavery man was from South Carolina. The pro-slavery men hunted him down, threatening his life and offering a reward for his head. No language at his command was too bitter for him to use. A favorite expression of his with which he usually closed his tirades was "D____n them. They'll sup the cup of sorrow with the spoon of repentance before they die!" With thousands and thousands of them this was literally verified before the war closed. The curse returned and rested upon their heads with a vengeance. Our South Carolinian still lives as loyal as ever to the cause of freedom and rejoices most heartily over the downfall of his enemies. Early in 1857 religious meetings were held, the Methodists having regular service near Robinson. They also organized a church at the house of Wm. Belk on the farm now owned by Peter Pfeiffer. Rev. Mr. Towne, a Baptist clergyman and prominent land, speculator, held services at house of E. H. Niles, that springs, which were well attended, but after the Iowa Trust sale the places that had known him knew him no more.
The Iowa Indian Trust lands, lying in Brown county and embracing several thousand acres of her choicest lands, were advertised to be sold to the highest bidder on the 4th of June by the Secretary of the Interior
In many cases lands brought more than they could be sold for now. One of the most astonishing features of this excitement was the utter absence of crime, unless gambling could be called a crime, and that was not considered so by these men. There were no thefts - no man was murdered for his money and yet men travelled all over the county, unarmed, with their pockets filled with gold.
While this was going on the Trust lands, sturdy men who wanted homes for themselves and their families were quietly taking up the Government lands and at the close of the year nearly all the choice lands of the county had been selected. After the sale of the Trust lands on the 4th of June, the most of those who had held these lands left them, the rude shanties were quickly removed and that section of the county was owned largely by wealthy speculators. It would be useless to attempt to enumerate the settlers of 1857. The immigration of that year was probably the largest of any year, though it was by no means permanent. Hundreds left as soon as they had perfected title to their lands without making any real improvements. Two settlers of that year, however, deserve a passing notice - Hon. S. A. Kingman, elected a member of Supreme Court from this county and who is now the honored Chief Justice of the State; and Hon. W. W. Guthrie, who was afterwards elected Attorney General of the State. These men labored earnestly to advance the material interests of the county and for them the people of the county will ever have a warm place in their hearts. That spring many town sites were laid off and many men got immensely rich prospectively selling town lots. Hiawatha, Hamlin, Powhattan, Robinson, Skeenona, Denohu and others were located by men who felt confident that thriving little villages at least could be built up in a short time. At Hamlin, on the farm now owned by A. M. Aldrich, a steam saw mill was erected by Ross & Morrill. This mill burned to the ground on the 3d of April, 1858, rebuilt 2 miles south at junction Walnut & Mulberry creeks.
During that summer regular religious services were held in the woods on E. H. Niles farm and a Sabbath school was organized with David Peebles as Supt. This was without doubt the first Sabbath school in the county. A school house was built at Robinson and the following year David Guard, a hoosier school master, taught in it.
On the 4th of July, 1857, the day was duly celebrated for the first time in the county by a public gathering in the woods on the farm of John Poe on Mulberry Creek. W. C. Foster presided, Dan'l McFarland delivered the oration and N. Hanson read the toasts. W. G. Sargent and others made speeches. Some two or three hundred people were in attendance. The settlers in the summer of 1857 felt sorely the need of some mail facilities and on Walnut Creek they made a contract with Philip Weiss to make a weekly trip to Iowa Point, the nearest post office, 25 miles away, and bring their mail matter. A list of names was furnished him and a request made upon the post master at Iowa Point to deliver letters to him. This was probably the first mail route in the county and was purely a private enterprise. For this service, Mr. Weiss received from the settlers $2 for each trip. He combined with it a passenger, freight and express line, doing all with one pair of horses and a lumber wagon. At this time few of the settlers owned horses - nearly all of the farm work and travelling being done with oxen. Under an act of 1855, a mail route had been established from St. Joseph via Highland to Marysville, Kansas, but service was not put on this route until 1858. August 8, 1857, the first post office was established in the county and George E. Clayton was appointed postmaster. A list of all the posts office that have ever been established in the county, with date and name of postmaster is herewith given.
|Claytonville, Aug. 8, 1857||George E. Clayton|
|Mount Roy, Sept. 2, 1857||Shelton Duff|
|Padonia, Oct. 20, 1857||Orville Root|
|Hamlin, Dec. 5, 1857||Edward H.Niles|
|Carson, Dec. 9, 1857||Marcellus L. Sawin|
|Poney Creek, Jun. 21, 1858||Morgan Willett|
|(Discontinued Sept. 19, 1861)|
|Robinson, Jun. 20, 1858||Sam'l W. Wade|
|Hiawatha, Jul. 12, 1858||Hartwin R. Dutton|
|Tyler's, Mar. 23, 1864||John S. Tyler|
|Ununda, Mar. 23, 1864||Giles Chipman|
|(Discontinued Mar. 20, 1871)|
|Fairview, Mar. 23, 1869||Orlando Fountain|
|Buncomb, May 2, 1870||Wm. B. Dickinson|
|(Name changed to St. Francis Nov. 22, 1871 and discontinued Nov. 11, 1872)|
|Grand Prairie, Jul. 27, 1870||Josiah C. Thomas|
|Marak, Aug. 3, 1870||Franz marak|
|Morrill, Dec. 14, 1870||Sol. R. Myers|
|Mannville, Jan. 9, 1871||Thomas Mann|
|Discord. Jun. 22, 1874||Benj. M. Hale|
During the summer of 1857 the first house was built in Hiawatha. It was a frame building and stood on the ground now occupied by the Bank. The first occupant of the house was Seth Barnum who kept a hotel in it for several months. A. J. Selleg then occupied it for hotel purposes until the present Hiawatha House was completed in 1859. The first term of the district court was held in the old hotel building in 1858, Judge Petit, now one of the judges of the supreme court of Indiana, being the presiding Judge. The clerk had lost some of the papers, and the Judge, thoroughly disgusted with the court house, refused to try any cases and adjourned the court until the next term. The building has long since been torn down. The second building in Hiawatha is the one now occupied by E. W. Butt Esq., as a residence. It stood upon the lot now occupied by the post office building and was used for a store by H. R. Dutton and B. L. Rider. They sold out in 1858 to W. B. Barnett, the stock of goods, invoicing about $75. This was not the first store in the county, however, as M. L. Sawin opened a small store early in 1857 where
The Carson school house now stands. The third building in the town was the one now occupied by Mrs. E. J. Chance. This was for some time used for Probate Judge's office and in it he held Probate court. The next season quite a number of buildings were erected. In August, 1857, the free-state men held a convention at Drummond's grove on farm now owned by Col. Bierer to discuss political topics and to decide what course to pursue in the coming elections. The free-state men of the territory repundating the bogus pro-slavery legislatures, elected by the people of Missouri had organized a government for themselves under the "Topeka Constitution" and had steadily refused to take part in any territorial election. At this convention, however, the free-state men of Browne county decided to elect officers under the Topeka Constitution in order to be in accord with their party throughout the State and at the same time they claimed it to be the right of every free-state man to vote at the territorial elections in order to wrest the reins of government from the minority party who had so outraged all sense of justice by their conduct. The result was that Ira H. Smith and W. W. Guthrie were elected under the Topeka Constitution and at the ensuing territorial election the free-state men engaged heartily in the canvass with the result before stated.
In September the free-state men held a convention to nominate candidates for the offices to be filled at the territorial election. Though Claytonville was at that time the county seat, the convention was called to meet at Hiawatha. There were but two buildings on the town site and no others within miles of the place. Neither of these buildings were large enough to hold the convention, so they held their session on the open prairie near where the Dispatch office now stands, using a lumber wagon for a speaker's stand. Hon. W. G. Sargent was nominated for Probate judge, which was the most important office to be filled. Jacob Englehart and A. B. Anderson for commissioners. F. O. Sawin for Sheriff and Moses P. Proctor for Treasurer. As has been before stated, all were elected.
In the early summer of this year, a party on Walnut Creek was tried for theft, and as this was the first trial for a crime of this character, it deserves a passing notice. Two young men, Smith and Elder, from Maine were carrying on the farm owned by Noah Hanson. While they were in the field one day a pistol and a watch were stolen from the cabin. A worthless fellow named Turpin was suspected, and on being arrested, the stolen property was found on his person. He was taken before Esq. Foster for trial; but no copy of the statutes could be found and Mr. Foster very sensibly decided that he could not try the prisoner without "law," and the trial was consequently postponed. The settlers were not satisfied with this tardy administration of justice, so a court was speedily organized at Sawin's store and W. W. Guthrie was chosen Judge. The fellow was tried, convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of five dollars and costs and it was ordered that he stand committed until the fine was paid. But there was no place in which to confine him and it was accordingly arranged that he be allowed to work out the fine and costs at 75 cents per day and he was turned over to Mr. Smith, to whom the property belonged. Smith put him at work hoeing corn; but during the second day a good opportunity offering he ran away and the fine still remains unpaid.
The assessment roll of 1857, as returned by Joseph Brown, assessor, is quite a curiosity and shows that on the 1st of March of that year there was the following property in the county;
|4 Slaves valued at||$1,400|
|135 Horses & mules valued at||$10,903|
|684 Cattle valued at||$15,855|
|1 Pleasure Carriage valued at||$15|
|54 Time pieces valued at||$399|
|Bonds & Notes||$2,415|
The total taxable property of every description that year amounted to