Harvey  County,  Kansas


Newton, the judicial seat and largest town in Harvey county, and one of the thriving cities of central Kansas, is located 30 miles north of Wichita and 33 miles east of Hutchinson. It is the division point of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. R., and the pay roll of the employees at this point amounts to about $85,000 per month. It is also a station on the Missouri Pacific. The abundance of natural gas has made Newton a manufacturing town. It has a grain drill factory, an alfalfa mill, a wagon works, a threshing machine factory, cornice works and a number of small plants devoted to various productions. In addition to the public schools, which are second to none in the state, Newton has two colleges, Bethel College (Mennonite) and the Evangelical Lutheran (Congregational). The business interests include 4 banks, a daily newspaper (The Evening Journal), three weeklies (the Journal, the Kansas Republican, and the Post), and the Volksblatt (German), a building and loan association, a creamery, 3 flour mills with a capacity of 1,200 barrels daily, 3 large elevators a number of well appointed stores. Among the metropolitan conveniences are two parks, a hospital, city mail boxes, telephone local and long distance service, a Carnegie library, 24 daily passenger trains, waterworks, an efficient sewer system, electric light plant, an ice plant with a daily capacity of 60 tons, all the leading fraternal organizations, 17 churches and a government building. The city is well supplied with express offices and telegraphic communications, and has an international money order postoffice with seven rural routes. The population according to the census of 1910 was 7,862.

The first building to occupy the town site of Newton was brought from Darlington township in March, 1870. Ten years later a thriving little town of second class, with handsome brick blocks, fine residences, churches, schools and newspapers had grown up. This prosperity was largely brought about by the completion of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. R. in 1871, making Newton the shipping point for the immense herds of Texas cattle, which hitherto had been driven to Abilene. The cattle trade while it brought a great deal of wealth to the town had its disadvantages. A rough element held sway during this time and social amusements were devised for the "cowboy trade" that were a disgrace to any community. Every person went armed, liquor was plentiful, many quarrels were engaged in and some shooting was done, although the number of people killed in these border towns have been always exaggerated. In the two years of "cowboy reign" there were but 12 men killed in Newton. In 1873, the railroad having been extended to Dodge City and Wichita, the cattle trade moved to these points, leaving Newton free from this undersirable element. For a time business was dull as a result of the loss and this state of affairs was augmented by a disastrous fire which swept out the best part of the business section. However, in 1875 the town recovered from both and began a new and steady development.

Prior to 1872, Newton was without government in any form. In February of that year it was incorporated as a city of the third class, and at the election held on April 1, the following officers where chosen: Mayor, James Gregory; police judge, M. J. Hennessey; councilmen, E. Chamberlain, D. Hamill, Isaac Thayer, B. c. Arnott, John Winram. The city council appointed R. B. Lynch, clerk; G. Chamberlain, Treasurer; D. Skelley, attorney; W. Brooks, marshal; Charles Bowman, assistant marshal. In 1880 the governor proclaimed Newton a city of the second class, and it was divided into three wards.

The postoffice was established in 1871 with W. A. Russell postmaster. It was made a money order office in 1874. Newton owns and operates its own water system, which furnishes an abundance of water of superior quality. (Kansas A Cyclopedia of State History, edited by Frank W. Blackmar, A. M., Ph. D., Volume 2, 1912, Pages 367-368)

Sedgwick, the third largest town in Harvey county, is located on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. R. and the Little Arkansas river, 10 miles south of Newton, the county seat. It is an incorporated city of 626 inhabitants according to the census of 1910, has 2 banks, an opera house, a weekly newspaper (the Panagraph), telegraph and express offices, and an international money order post office with four rural routes. It is the oldest town in the county having been laid off in June 1870, by the Sedgwick Town Company, of which T. S. Floyd was president. The first store, which was the first in the county was built in July of that year by William H. Owen. The postoffice was established in the same year with T. S. Floyd as postmaster. The money order department was added in 1877. The first school house in the county was erected here in 1870 and the first term was taught by C. S. Bullock and wife. The first newspaper was the Sedgwick Gazette, the initial number of which was issued in Jan., 1871. The Citizens' Savings bank was organized and began business in 1872. The town was incorporated as a city of the third class in March of that year. The first election was held on April 1 and the first city officials were as follows: Mayor, T. S. Floyd; police judge, F. T. Morris; clerk, H. Goodell; treasurer, P. M. Morgan; marshal, W. H. Hurd; councilmen, N. A. Mathias, W. B. Chamberlain, O. M. Sherman, O. Y. Hart and Charles Shaefer. The city government was suspended in 1877 on account of a clerical error in the charter. It was revived again in 1881 and a reorganization took place followed by an election of officers in April, 1882, when S. B. Cretcher was elected mayor; N. A. Mathias, police judge; James Cox, R. W. Hall, E. N. Green, J. M. Massey and P. M. Morgan, councilmen. The following were appointed: A. G. Stones, Clerk, T. J. Miller, treasurer; C. E. Green, marshal. (Kansas A Cyclopedia of State History, edited by Frank W. Blackmar, A. M., Ph. D., Volume 2, 1912, Pages 661-662)

Walton, one the thriving little cities of the third class in Harvey county, is located on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. R. 7 miles northeast of Newton, the county seat. It has a bank, the leading denominations of churches, good graded schools, telegraph and express offices, and has a money order postoffice with one rural route. The population according to the census of 1910 was 357. Walton was laid out in 1871 by William Mathews, who erected the first building and used it for a dwelling. The first store was opened by B. C. Johnson. The third building was the railroad section house. A school house was built in 1871 from a subscription fund raised for religious and educational purposes, and Mrs. M. J. Sharron was the first teacher. The postoffice was established the same year with Mrs. E. Peck as postmistress. On account of some difficulty over the title to the lands, the growth of the town was retarded until 1876. (Kansas A Cyclopedia of State History, edited by Frank W. Blackmar, A. M., Ph. D., Volume 2, 1912, Page 875)


Mr. A. L. Green, Compiler, Newton, Kansas

On the 19th of October 1870 the writer started for Kansas overland. We struck Kansas at Kansas city. Taking a south west course we started for the home of the buffalo and antelope on the Little Arkansas River. On our route we passed through Olatha and Otawa & Eureka then west to Wichita. We then took the old Government Road north - Came to Sedgwick City. We there found Chas. Schaeffer and John Sloan with a small stock of General Merchandise, Mrs. McLung - Hotel, & John Hawks - Saloon, Mike Rager - Blacksmith. After looking over the country along our line of travel we arrived on Little River in what is now Halstead Township on the 15th of December 1870, where we found a Cattle Ranch called Hannas Ranch & a family by the name of Randall which I think was the first family in Halstead Township. There were also in township John N. Congan, Allen Miller & family, Andrew Oleson & family, Geo. Cooper & family, Jay Schoonover & family. All except Randall had located on land. The last to settle in 1870 was A. J. & L. D. Brewer on the 15th of Dec/70. There were some timber along Little River. It was a beautiful sight to look over the prairie. You could look as far as the eye could see over a prairie as level as a floor seemingly wehre (are) now beautiful groves, the work of the pioneer, has almost changed the country to a timber country.

The beautiful mirage is almost a thing of the past. Looking over the sea of prairie one could see objects only a half mile away that would look to be 4 or 5 miles away. Also objects 2 or 3 miles away it would seem ony a stones throw. The Sand Hills & Big River were the buffalo hunting grounds. You could start in the morning and go to the Big River, get one or two buffalo & back the same day. In 1872 the buffalo were beat back to Nenesqua & Medicine Lodge Rivers. As late as 1871 there were several killed in this locality - one about where Halstead now stands, one in Macon township not far from Capt. Aikens & one down in Lakin Township on Kisawa. There were a few deer & turkey along Little River and thousands of antelope on the up land, also a few wild cats - pole cats - badger - coon & prairie dogs, owls & snakes. Inthe spring of 1871 the A. T. & S. Fe R. R. was built to Newton to intercept the cattle trade which was the largest drive from Texas ever made. The early history of Newton need no more commenting. (There are numerous incidents of early settlement that is unnecessary to mention.)

The early settlers had very hard times as they were all poor people & had nothing to do with. There were some that lived on claims picked up out of the river and anything they could get. They broke up the prairie as fast as they could (having nothing to feed their teams only grass). There were a spontanious gro(w)th of blue ___ grass in 1871 that grew to the heighth of 6 or 7 feet high which has never occurred since. In 1871 sod corn made a good crop - except it was badly worm eaten. There were numerous prairie fires occurred in the first few years that damaged the early settlers - burning up everything - corn, hay, buildings & stock. In '72 crops were about the same only more acreage. In 1873 there were wheat sown which done very well. In 1874 there were a good acreage of corn, oats & wheat put out but the grasshoppers done the harvesting, leaving the people destitute. There were a great deal of suffering & woul dhave been more only for our kind friends in the east. In 1875 our people had to commence their improvements over again, which they did with a determination to win and we now have one of the best States in the Union. In 1876 our people begin to prosper again and in '77 - '78 - ' 79 - '80 - ' 81 times were the best ever known in the State - Large crops, good prices and a great emigration from all parts of the world, making business good & money plenty.

in 1870 - Personal Mention

The first settler in Halstead Township was John N. Congan, an old Government scout known as Old Mc. Located on N. W. 1/4 Sec. 3. There were two cattle ranches one on Sec. 36 at the upper end of Picnic Grove called Hannahs Ranch & one on Sec. 28 called McFarland & Kyles Ranch. Both left in 1871. The next settler were Geo. Cooper & wife, Allen Miller & Family, Andrew Oleson and Family, Jay Schoonover & Family, A. J. & L. D. Brewer. Then houses were sod or dug outs made in the bank of the river. A. J. Brewer built the first frame house in the township - hauled the lumber from Salina. The house was built on N. W. 1/4 Sec. 30 - two miles west of all settlement at that time.

Lena Schoonover was the first child born in Township. Corn sold as high as $2.50 per bu., flour $5.00 per 100 & other things in proportion. In 1871 there settled in what is now Halstead Twp. Harry Fields & wife, Mr. & Mrs. Taylor, Mrs. Fields father & mother. Mrs. Taylor died in the fall of 1871, the first death. Also (settled) Joseph Williams - Ed Brown & family & Mrs. Browns Mother, a pensioner of 1812 war.

F. J. Brown, Joe Thornhill, Jason Bennett & wife, Alford Allen & family, Thos. Eweing & family, Steve Stout & Family, Wm. Flory, Cyrus Hinkson, G. F. Benthuser & family, W. I. Inman & family, John W. Smith & family, H. S. Wenban & family, John Cole & family, Geo. Kirk & family, J. S. Long & family, Eli L. Davis & family, Chas & Jas Melling, Z. W. Monroe, E. B. Harrington & family, Frank Dinkle, Jerry Bard, Buttler & Giles & familys, Porter, the Frenchman, James Ryan & Rino N. Riggs, Wm. Williams, Si Morris, Jas Papkins & family, Jas Brewer & fam., Geo. W. Brewer & family, S. T. Marsh. All of the above settled in 1871 and possibly more that I can't call to mind at this late date. Those that came in later years I cannot give owing to so many coming & going every year.

(The original of this handwritten article is in a folder on the shelf in the genealogy section of the Newton Public Library in Harvey County, Kansas. M.H.G.S. member Micki Crozier photocopied it for M.H.G.S. It was written on lined paper (could be a yellow legal size pad) with what seems to be an old style fountain pen. It is not dated.

(MHGS Register, pages 165-167, Vol. XX #4, submitted by Jim Brower)


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