LEAVENWORTH COUNTY, KANSAS

COUNTY SEAT

How Leavenworth County selected the County Seat, from an early history:

THE FIRST COUNTY OFFICERS AND THE ROOMS THEY OCCUPIED.

It is not proposed in this sketch to give a list of the county officers from the organization of the county to the present time, that would be too prolix and uninteresting. I shall confine myself to a brief recital of the members of the first board of county officers, and in addition, the different rooms they occupied in the city until they with the courts were safely housed in the present county court house in February, 1874, this I deem is a part of the early history of the city. The following concise sketch I copy from a compilation made by the writer in 1878 and published in the Atlas map of Leavenworth county, Kansas.

The first Board of County Commissioners for Leavenworth county consisted of Hon. John A. Halderman, probate judge and ex-officio president of the board; Joseph M. Hall, both of Leavenworth city, and Mathew R. Walker, of Wyandotte village, then in Leavenworth county. They held their respective positions by virtue of the action of the joint session of the legislative assembly of the territory of Kansas. The commission of Judge Halderman bears date twenty-seventh day of August, A. D. 1855; that of J. M. Hall, the same date; and of Mathew R. Walker, twenty-ninth of August, A. D. 1855. They were all issued and signed by Daniel Woodson, acting governor of the territory of Kansas, at the Shawnee Manual Labor School.

The Board first met on Friday, the seventh day of September, in the year A. D. 1855, at the warehouse of Lewis N. Rees, at the corner of Delaware and Front (or Water) streets, north side, in the city of Leavenworth, and were duly sworn into office, and their commissions and oaths of office duly presented and ordered to be spread upon the record.

Their first official act was to appoint James M. Lyle clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, and ex-officio recorder and clerk of the probate court. The second step or act of the Board, was to divide the county of Leavenworth into municipal townships.

The next action of the Board was the appointment of justices of the peace and constables for the several townships. Wiley Williams was appointed justice of the peace, and S. W. Tunnel, constable of Kickapoo township. R. R. Rees was appointed justice of the peace, and Thomas C. Hughes, constable of Leavenworth township. L. F. Hollingsworth was appointed justice of the peace, and Wilson Fox, constable of Delaware township. John W. Ladd was appointed justice of the peace and Ethan A. Long, constable of Wyandotte township. The next action of the Board was to make the city of Leavenworth temporary county seat. It then adjourned to the next day, the 8th of September, 1855. The next morning they met and the first action was to appoint judges of election and select places in the several townships to hold an election on the first day of October, 1855, for the purpose of electing a delegate to Congress.

The next action of the Board at the same meeting was the appointment of judges and places of holding election in the several townships for the determination of a permanent county seat, on the second Monday in October, A. D. 1855.

The board then adjourned to Monday, the seventeenth day of September, A. D. 1855. On that day they met and appointed H. P. Johnson, justice of the peace of Leavenworth township, and fixed the bond of constables at $800.

They met again on the twenty-fourth day of September and appointed Alex. W. Russell, a third justice of the peace of Leavenworth township, and G. B. Redman, justice of the peace of Delaware township. Petitions for the appointment of county treasurer, surveyor and assessor were read and laid over. The Board adjourned to the tenth of October, 1855. Board met - all present. Maj. M. P. Rively was appointed county treasurer. Bond $15,000. Bennett Burnham appointed county surveyor. A county seal was ordered.

At the next meeting of the Board, October 16, 1855, the canvass of the ballots for the permanent county seat, came up. The rivals were Leavenworth, Kickapoo and Delaware, and each were represented by the ablest attorneys at the bar at the time. Protests and motions of all kinds were made, and arguments of attorneys were heard. A majority of the Board, Messrs. Walker and Hall, Judge Halderman voting in the negative, decided to count the votes. Delaware had received on two days' voting, 929 votes; Kickapoo, 878 votes one day; and Leavenworth city, 726 votes - and several scattering votes at other points in the county. The two judges declared Delaware the county seat, and Judge Halderman refused to give any certificate of election. It is now conceded by all parties that this was not a fair or honest election.

James B. Blake was appointed coroner of the county, Thursday, January 24, 1856, and L. T. Moore appointed assessor, Benjamin F. Twombly having declined the appointment. At the same meeting, Messrs. Hall and Walker alone being present, it was ordered that the Board would rent a building for county offices, twenty feet by thirty, with two rooms, ten by twenty, to be built in Delaware city, by G. B. Redman, for $200 rent annually, to commence from the day of occupancy.

G. D. Todd was the first sheriff of the county of Leavenworth, appointed by the acting governor, and H. D. McMeekin, undersheriff.

The county seat was removed to Delaware city, February 20, A. D. 1856. The Legislature passed an act to locate permanently the seat of justice of Leavenworth county, and fixing the election to be determined by the people at the next election for members of the Legislative Assembly of the territory, to be held on the first Monday of October next, 1856. The election was held at the time fixed by law, and Leavenworth received the highest number of votes, and the county seat was permanently fixed at that point, where it has remained ever since. For a number of years the courts and all the county offices were held in the City Hall, over the market-house, corner of Fifth and Shawnee streets. In 1873, the county completed one of the largest, best arranged and handsomest court houses in the West, with all the modem improvements of gas, steam heating, vaults for all the offices, etc., etc., and the courts and offices were removed into it, February, 1874. The original cost of the court house and all the appurtenances, was as follows: Court house square donated by the original purchaser of the land; court house building cost $120,415.75; cost of clock, $2,751.30; cost of steam apparatus, $11,465.12; cost of fixtures, $1,556.24; cost of furniture, $6,416.81; total cost, $142,596.22. The city officers also occupy rooms in the building.

Source: Early history of Leavenworth city and county by Henry Miles Moore, Leavenworth, Kansas 1906, transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman


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