A Souvenir History
Lincoln County, Kansas

Elizabeth N. Barr,
(A native and an old settler)


Pages 30 - 35

The Saline and Solomon Valleys were often visited by marauding bands of Indians who killed or carried away the settlers, and destroyed property. The territory which is now Lincoln County was considered unsafe and the settlers lived in constant alertness for their red foes. While the primary object of these raids was to get food and plunder, the savage, nature of the Indian would not let him stop merely with compelling settlers to cook for them and to give up their valuables.

During the raids of August, 1868, the neighbors were gathered at Wm. Hendrickson's place on account of the Indians. Word came that the Indians had hoisted a black flag on Bullfoot. They were badly in need of food. But the women that had charge of the citadel would not allow them to go out while the danger lasted.

Among the people were Martin Hendrickson, John Strange, Tom Alderidice, Fred Erhardt, Phil Lantz, and a Mr. Shaw. The married men had their families there. Finally Martin Hendrickson and Fred Erhardt managed to get away and they rode around to see what they could find. They went south, crossed the river at the Thieman place, went on till they crossed Bullfoot and found the black flag on the south side of the creek a mile from Erhardt's place. It proved to be a piece of calico put up by some white man for a joke. They then dismounted, and, leading their horses, began to look for Indian tracks. They came up the river to the mouth of the Spillman crossed to the north side, and came toward home. They saw two people with handkerchiefs on their heads and thought at first they were Indians, but on coming nearer found then to be two little girls, aged six and eight. The elder said, "The Indians have had us." The younger said, "I wish I had a piece of bread and some water."

These children were captured on the Solomon in Beloit and carried away by the Indians who, when surprised by the soldiers, dropped them on the heights northwest of Lincoln. They had spent the night in a deserted house and when found thought they were still on the Solomon. The circumstance was reported to Fort Harker. A rumor was out that two children had been taken from Beloit. A telegram was sent from Fort Harker and their father, Allen Bell, came and took them home. They remained a week at Wm. Hendrickson's.

A few days before this, about August 8, three women, Mrs. Shaw, Mrs. David G. Bacon, and Miss Foster, were captured in a raid on the Spillman. Mrs. Bacon had her baby with her. The women were abused terribly and bound with ropes. Mrs. Bacon became insensible by a blow on the head which cut to the bone, and was left on the prairie for dead. Later in the day she was picked up again by the Indians. At night they placed the women on ponies and told them to go to their wigwams. Mrs. Bacon was so nearly exhausted that she fell off her horse and the other women were obliged to go on without her. She was found the next morning by Mail in Hendrickson, who was the advance guard in the searching party. She still had her baby, but both were suffering intensely.

In connection with this raid Mr. F. A. Schemerhorn says: "Our first child was born August 8, 1868. The Indians made a raid in there that day."
The timely arrival of Colonel Benteen with his troop, of the Seventh Cavalry, which was Custer's regiment, no doubt saved a general massacre. It is the opinion of many of the old settlers that Colonel Benteen just happened to be coming through here. We quote from Mr. Schemerhorn on this point:

"About three P. M., August 8, 1868, Colonel Benteen with his troops, A and G of the Seventh Cavalry, came to my ranch. The Colonel, being an old acquaintance, came in to call on me, and asked if there were any Indians to shoot. I said I thought not, as they had made a raid a few days ago, and I believed had left the vicinity as usual. He said the Government scouts reported quite a large body of Indians in our vicinity and that he had made a forced march from Fort Zarah, seventy-three miles, since two P. M. the day before. The horses had not been unsaddled since starting. He mounted his horse and said he was going over to the river about a mile and a half to await supplies which were coming to him from the fort. In about a half hour I heard a lot of shooting and yelling and knew it was the soldiers.

"Pretty soon a young man, Insley, I think was his name, came running his horse, and yelling at every jump that the Indians and soldiers were fighting. "Give me your revolvers," he cried. He repeated the request several times but I told him under the circumstances I thought I had better keep them myself. I asked him where he was going and he said down the river after more men to fight the Indians. In about an hour a sergeant and four men came saying Colonel Benteen sent them to tell me that everything was O. K., that they had driven the Indians across the Saline and there was no further danger at present." It seems hardly possible that this engagement was on the John Hendrickson place. The Indians are known to have attacked his house which was near Lincoln, and which was afterward occupied by soldiers, and now forms the corner of the Pioneer House.

The Pioneer House of Lincoln, which contains some historic logs.

It is known that during this attack some soldiers appeared on the scene and drove them away.

It is hard to reconcile dates given by different people. Mr. Schemerhorn says the raid on the outskirts of the settlement occurred on 2d and 3d, of August, and that the troops came on the 8th, but if the soldiers drove the Indians out on the 8th, how did they become bold enough to come back and raid again between the 1th and 13th, as we shall note later in E. E. Johnson's diary? We leave the question for a later historian.

It seems probable that some of Black Kettle's men were on the Spillman about this time and may have been the parts to attack the Hendrickson place.

Black Kettle's territory was invaded by Custer a short time afterward, and his whole village was destroyed. One hundred thirty warriors were killed, and the squaws taken captive.

Mr. Schemerhorn says further: "General Sully came a few days after and established his headquarters and it was then that the blockhouse was built."

General Sheridan, who was in command of this department, came to the headquarters from Missouri. He met Mr. J. J. Peate (August. 1868) at Schemerhorn's store on the Elkhorn As Mr. Peate was a Government scout for Sheridan, and a good Indian fighter, the General selected him to help gainer together and organize a company of volunteers from among the settlers and hunters to protect the frontier. Sixty men were enlisted, of which number twenty-three were from the Saline Valley. These were J. J. Peate, Chalmer Smith, E. E. Johnson, commander of the volunteers, D. C. Skinner, Fletcher Vilott, Louis Farley and his son Hutchison, Thomas Alderdice, Thomas Boyle, Eli Ziegler, Geo. Green, John Lyden, and John Haley, of the section which is now Lincoln County, and G. W. Culver, Frank Herington, Howard Morton, G. H. Tucker, G. B. Clark, A. J. Eutsler, E. E. Tozier, R. R. Tozier, Wm. Stubbs, and J. E. Green, from Ottawa and Saline Counties.

The operations of this body of scouts were not in Lincoln County, and it may seem far-fetched to include an account of their campaign in this history, but the writer believes that it belongs here for various reasons.

The campaign ended with one of the greatest Indian battles ever fought on American soil, and the most important part in this battle was taken by Saline Valley men. The battle accomplished results important to Lincoln County, which was scarcely habitable and at least not attractive for settlement so long as the "dog soldiers" remained unchecked.

The battle of Beechers Island, on the Arickaree River, was the salvation of a large section of the country which included Lincoln County, and it is only right to acknowledge the debt we owe to those who made the future development of our county possible and drove out the enemy that we might possess the land.

E. E. Johnson had the fortunate habit in those days of keeping a diary. The following are some of the entries:

"Tuesday, August 11-Went on an Indian scout up to the head of Spillman Creek, rode about sixty miles. Got back at eleven o'clock at night, pretty well used up. The Indians had ravished two women and tried to burn one house."

"Thursday, August. 13th.-Had another Indian scare. The Indians came in eleven miles above here and commenced firing on the settlers, but luckily enough just then there was a party of soldiers coming over from Fort Harker and happened on the ground just as the Indians commenced firing, and gave chase.

Some authorities say this firing was done at the home of John Hendrickson, the blacksmith, who lived near Lincoln, where the soldiers were quartered, if so, they did not attack the place on the 8th.

"Friday, August 14th.-Went up as far as Mr. Berry's last night and stayed till morning. The settlers kept coming in all night. Got breakfast and struck out on the trail and followed it about eight miles. Met some of the soldiers coming back; learned from them that they ran the Indians fifteen miles, and it came dark on them and they had to quit."

"Saturday, August 15th.-Went up the Snillman Cieek to where the command was camped. The Colonel sent back to Fort Harker to know what he should do. Sent out scouts to find the Indians. They came back at night, having found nothing of note. Boys elected me captain to take command of the citizens."

The scouts were soon on their way west, but eight of them were delayed at Fort Hays, by a mistaken order until it was too late to meet General Forsyth at Fort Wallace, who, with fifty-one men besides himself, was soon pushing ahead into the heart of the enemy's country. Forsyth left Fort Wallace September 5, and followed the Indians trail till the afternoon of September 16, when he camped, expecting to meet the Indians the next day.

The Indians who were gathered in this region and had been retreating to get the scouts where they could easily annihilate them, planned a daylight surprise. They were in the beautiful valley of the Arickaree and not far away was an island in the river. The attack was made the next morning before the light was clear.

This little band of fifty-two men were surrounded by over a thousand warriors, who were armed with Springfield breechloaders, Spencer and Henry rifles. Their successful campaign and ultimate victory over these skilled warriors, their breaking of the brilliant charge of Roman Nose, and their endurance and courage during the terrible days and nights which followed form a chapter scarcely excelled in the annals of warfare the world over.

Their first move was to retreat mounted to the little island where, after the first charge was repulsed, they threw up sand heaps and dug little trenches for defense. Charge after charge was made upon them, but coolness and discipline battered the ranks of the enemy, and won the day. The most notable charge was the one lead by Roman Nose, the dog chief, who planned to ride right over the island, protected by the Indian sharp shooters, who were to engage the fire of the scouts. In this he was unsuccessful, as the scouts paid no attention to anything but the charging cavalry. Roman Nose was killed and his ranks badly shattered. Colonel Beecher, the man for whom the island was named, received his death wound during this charge.

This was the last charge which amounted to anything. Eight days of the most intense suffering from wounds, from day's heat and night's cold, from the stench of the dead horses and the lack of food and attention followed before the rescue.

Scouts sent out the first night succeeded in getting to Fort Wallace. Colonel Carpenter, who was in camp on Goose Creek near the Kansas line, and with whose command the remaining scouts were at this time, was ordered to the relief.

They reached Beecher's Island the morning of the ninth day. J. J. Peate, of Beverly, was the first one to reach his wounded companions. Half the men were either killed or woui.ded. If there was anyone who deserved special praise it was Louis Farley, who saved the day by lying with two others near the edge of the island and killing Indians who were trying to creep up unseen and gain the island. He died of his wounds shortly afterward in a temporary hospital.

Now for the results to the border country. Louis A. McLouthlin, who was in the battle, and afterwards discussed the situation with the Indians, says:

"The Indians told me they were concentrating for a grand raid, and at the full of the moon they intended to be in the settlements. They expected to have two thousand warriors,. and they intended to spread out on both sides of the Republican and go east until troops drove them out."

Spreading out as they do and covering a large territory, they would have come into the Saline Valley, but this defeat at Beecher's Island settled the question of a raid. Besides seventy-five killed, there were a larger number wounded, and they were thrown into confusion and disheartened.

The raid of May in which they had not lost a man had encouraged them and prompted them to plan this large expedition, but now they were completely crushed.



Pages 36 - 37

This is the name of an encounter which occurred the 2d of February, 1869, on the Mulberry between the Indians on one side, and some Lincoln County settlers and soldier on the other. Of course, the Indians got the worst of it as uf.ual, and this is how it happened:

The Kaws from Council Bluffs, and the Pawnees from Nebraska, used to pass back and forth and steal horses from each other. Sometimes they annoyed the settlers too much, to their oeverlasting undoing. On the occasion of which we are speaking, a band of about a score of Pawnees were coming through the neighborhood, and stopping at Tom Skinner's home, compelled Mrs. Skinner to cook for them.

When the settlers heard of this they gathered together to see what had best be done. Several suggestions were made, but it was decided to go for the troops that were camped not far from the present site of Lincoln. John Alverson, Eli Ziegler, and Chal. Smith went. The captain told them to have the settlers ready by daybreak and he would have some soldiers there at that time.

Accordingly, a lieutenant with about a dozen soldiers, took up the trail with the settlers the next morning. They followed the Indians to Table Rock Creek, where they found their camp fire, and from there to Mulberry, where they overtook them. The Indians had stopped at the home of Chas. Martin to get food and tobacco, but the advance scouts did not succeed in holding them until the main body of men came up.

The red men scattered and the settlers began hunting them up and down the creek. Some of them went south across the stream to a high bluff. As they stood looking four Indians raised up side by side. They had discharges from the army, and one of them handed his discharge to the whites. It was passed from one to another. While this was going on Alverson, who was in the crowd, slipped off his horse and shot the Indian leader dead. The Indians began firing, and the troops soon appeared on the scene. There were two or three more Indians killed.

The lieutenant wanted to take them to Fort Harker and civilize them. Gen. Isaac DeGraff sat down on the ground and also on the lieutenant's proposition, saying they could make good Indian's of them right there. The men dismounted, and, leading their horses, followed the Indians down a ravine. The redskins were shooting arrows, and one of them hit the lieutenant's horse, causing the animal to jerk loose and got away. The lieutenant then said he would kill every Indian. They fol lowed the red men to a rocky gorge where sixteen of them took refuge in a cave.

One of the soldiers who was not careful to keep out of range was shot by an Indian and died at Martin's house two hours later. Mr. Ziegler sustained a slight wound.

Finding no other way to get the Indians it was de sided to throw hay into the mouth of the cave and fire it. Seeing what was about to be done the Indians dashed out of the cave under a rain of shot. All but three were killed before they get out of range. The men quickly mounted and persued the remnant. Richard Clark and Vollany Ball shot two of them at one hundred fifty yards range. The other was captured and the lieutenant took him to Fort Harker.

RAID OF 1869
Pages 37 - 42

The battle of the Arickaree, or Beecher's Island stopped at least one great raid and relieved the people of the Saline and Spillman Valleys from the menace of the Dog Soldiers. Custer had settled Black Kettle and his tribe forever. Troops were stationed at different points within the present bounds of the county, yet for the settlers the worst was yet to come.

Referring to the soldiers it might be mentioned that a body of them were stationed at Schemerhorn's ranch south of Rocky Hill in 1868. The first Battalion of State troops under Captain Baker was stationed near the present site of Lincoln, some of them at the home of M. D. Green.
State troops were encamped in-the same place in 1869. This was part of Company C of the 2d Battalion under Lieutenant H. H. Tucker. The headquarters of this encampment was at the mouth of Lost Creek, west of where Christian College now stands. This was the place where John Hendrickson lived, and was attacked by the Indians in 1868. The place where the log building stood can be found yet. The old pioneer House, a picture of which has been given, contains the logs of the main building. There were some dugouts and a corral. About fifty-six men were quartered here in 1869.

There was a third encampment near Pottersburg. Company A of the 2d Battalion, under Capt. H. A. Pliley, occupied the blockhouse, which was built in the bend of the creek on the north side of Spillman, just below the mouth of Bacon Creek. It was built after the raid of 1868, and was occupied by the troops that year and the next. It was burned in 1871 or 1872 while unoccupied.

It happened that in May of 1869 there were no troops at any of the above mentioned quarters and the Indians saw an opportunity for a raid. This raid was probably the most horrible thing which ever happened to the settlers of this section of the country.

It has been impossible to ascertain what tribe of Indians made the raid. The Cheyennes get the blame for it, but it seems probable that the Dog Soldiers and Sioux were there also, as the captives were held by the Sioux and wers in the tent of the Sioux chief Tall Bull when rescued. Although Tall Bull was a Sioux, his band was in part made up of outlaw Cheyennes.

This raid occurred on Sunday, May 31st. The Indians came without warning, and caught the settlers off their guard

Eli Ziegler and John Alverson, going up Spillman Creek to a claim, saw what they thought to be a body of soldiery, which really was Indians in blue blouses, marching four abreast. They escaped by driving to the nearest timber and gaining the shelter of the banks of the stream. The Indians attacked the settlement of Danes, near the mouth of Trail Creek, killing Lawritzen and his wife. A young man named Peterson, who was staking off a claim, was killed and his face mutilated with a hatchet. Mr. and Mrs. Wichel and their friend Mayershoff were walking over their claim about 3 p. m. when they were attacked by the Indians. The men defended Mrs. Wichel until their powder was all gone, when they were killed and she was captured.

During the fight they advanced considerable distance down the valley and were a mile and a half west of Lincoln when the tragedy occurred.

They were Germans of Hanovei. They were buried where they met death.

On the same evening Mrs. Alderdice was visiting Mrs. Kline, a mile and a half west of Lincoln. The two women, Mrs. Aiderdice with four children, and Mrs. Kline, with one, started down the river to seek safety. In crossing a strip of prairie two Indians were seen. Mrs. Kline crossed the river, which was up to her shoulders, with her child. Mrs. Alderdice, overcome with terror, sat down on the ground, as she could not escape with her children. The Indians shot the three little boys killing two and leaving the third wounded in the back. They took Mrs. Alderdice and her child and camped that night on Bullfoot Creek, where they choked the child to death, and hung it to a tree.

The same evening Harrison Strange, aged fourteen, and a thirteen-year-old boy named Schmutz, who were about a thousand yards southeast of Lincoln, saw two Indians riding toward them. The old Indian made friends with them by saying "Good Pawnee," and calmed their fears by tapping them gently with a spear. The young stripling rode up, raising himself high in his stirrups and hit young Strange a blow with a club. The lad saw the blow coming and with the words "Oh, Lord," half expressed he fell dead.

The club was broken. Schmutz ran, but was shot with an arrow. It lodged in his side. He pulled it out, but the barbed end remained. Young Strange's two brothers came to the relief and Schmutz was taken to Fort Harker, where ten weeks later he died in a hospital.

The next day a posse found, the dead and wounded of Mrs. Alderdice's boys. The live child had an arrow in his back. The arrow was drawn by Phil Lance and Washington Smith with a large pair of bullet moulds, and he recovered at the home of Wm. Hendrickson. The two captured women, Mrs. Wichel and Mrs. Alderdice, were unable to plan an escape because one talked German, the other English.

Mrs. Wichel was about 20 and Mrs. Alderdice about 26. Both were beautiful, refined women.

The Wichels were brewers of Hanover, and were quite wealthy. It is reported that Mrs. Wichel had forty silk dresses. They had quantities of fine linen and other elegant household goods. They were both well educated and refined people. Wichel was about thirty. All the Germans were killed and only three Danes survived. They also plundered and stole among others things, $1,500 in money from Wichels, belonging to Mrs. Wieners father.

The escape of Mrs. Kline was almost miraculous. She hid for a time in a clump of dogwood. The Indians, in their search, walked around and around her so near that she could have put out her hand and touched them. She could see their moccasins, but fortunately they did not see her. Her baby was awake but kept very quiet, though it smiled, as it was unaware of the danger. This child grew up and lives at the present time in Lincoln. Her name is Mrs. Linker.

The next day (Monday, June 1), Mr. Alderdice, with a few neighbors, including Myron Green and Martin Hendrickson, were searching for Mrs. Alderdice. After dark they came upon Wm. Earl and learned that a party of Saline Valley men had been surprised by the Indians at their hunter's camp beyond Wolf Creek the Saturday before. It was a rainy day, and the men were at the camp when the Indians came. They all jumped into the brush for shelter. Sol Humbarger was wounded. They kept in the brush and made their way to the third branch of Wolf Creek, where Earl left Humbarger with Dick Alley and Harry Trask, while he came on for help. He had not eaten anything for two days.

Myron Green started at once for Salina, and the next day came back with a number of volunteers to the rescue. About five that evening a party of twenty started out to find Humbarger. They camped on the Spillman that night. Wednesday noon they met a crowd from the Colorado neighborhood who had already rescued the hunting party. "Jack" Peate and Dayhoft" were among the number. Humbarger had been wounded in the hip with an arrow.

For some days after the raid the settlers kept indoors, as they were afraid to go abroad even to get food. When Harrison Strange was buried the whole funeral procession was armed. The funeral was at Wm. Hendrickson's, and the cemetery was on the Schemerhorn place, south of the river. When the body was lowered into the grave and the ceremony over, a buffalo was seen coming from the south. Those who had guns gave chase, killed the animal, and divided the meat among the settlers. The neighborhood was found to be short of ammunition, and Phil Lantz rode to Salina and back seventy-two miles in one day, bringing with him six Spencer carbines and a large amount of ammunition.

After the raid the Indians retreated with their captives and plunder to their village on the sand hills between the Platte and Frenchman Creek, whither they were followed by General Carr, the same summer.

While on the Republican River General Carr struck a large Indian trail which had been freshly traveled. At each recent camping place there was the print of a woman's shoe. An article entitled "The Adventure of Maj. Frank North," by Alfred Sorenson, in the Nebraska Historical Collections, given an account of the recapture of the women.

It is from his article and from letters by Hercules H. Price, who was with General Carr that this account of the recapture is compiled.

As General Carr, with Major North and his Pawnee scouts were pushing on north they came across a bit of torn dress,. and later found a note saying, "For God's sake, come and rescue us."

Detachments of the best mounted men from the five companies were selected for a forced march. The wagon trains were left to follow. The next morning, July 11, an Indian village was sighted near the valley of the South Platte. After a careful survey it was decided to attack from the north. However,. while making the circuit described by Major North, the command keeping a mile and a half from the village, and swinging around the east side, General Carr became afraid that they had been observed by the Indians, and ordered a charge.

The Indians, lazy with feasting, and satisfied with booty,. were resting in the shade of their tents, and were taken completely by surprise. The charge of the cavalry threw everything into instant confusion. The village was admirably situated for a defense had it not been too late.

As the cavalry came riding down the streets of the village, firing volley after volley, the Indians fled in all directions to ravines and rocks. Their ponies were grazing on the prairie, but very few succeeded in reaching them. The soldiers began hunting them down in their hiding places and slaughtering them on every hand. Tall Bull, with his squaw and child and. eighteen warriors were surrounded in a narrow ravine. He and his followers were all killed and the squaw and child was taken captive.

Meanwhile an active search for the white captives under Captain Cushing had resulted in finding Mrs. Alderdice und Mrs. Wichel, both badly wounded, in the tent of Tall Bull, who had taken them as wives. Seeing it was impossible to keep them longer he had shot them. Mrs. Alderdice was lying on the ground unconscious, and just as Major North came in with the captive squaw and child of Tall Bull, Mrs. Alderdice drew one or two long breaths and died.

Mrs. Wichel was sitting on a mat conscious and suffering intensely from her wound. She wept for joy at the sight of the white men. After soldiers and Pawnees had finished with " the Sioux her wounds were tended and she was made comfortable as possible. Nine hundred dollars of the money was re-covered and returned to Mrs. Wichel. Her gold watch and some other things were also recovered. The village, which was rich in Indian property and booty taken from the whites, was plundered and burned. The place was called Susannah, which was the Christian name of Mrs. Alderdice. She was buried on the battleground.

The suffering of these two women and their cruel treatment is a pathetic and shameful story which we will not go into in detail. During the absence of Tall Bull they were beaten by his squaw through jealousy. The women were not allowed to see each other above half a dozen times during their captivity.

Mrs. Wichel married later, but it is not definitely known at this time whether it was a soldier, a blacksmith, or an army surgeon.

This was the end of the Indian troubles so far as this section of the country was concerned. The Sioux were crippled as the Dog Soldiers and Black Kettle's followers had been the year before. Indians were seldom seen in Lincoln County after that, although it is plain from the attitude of the early newspaper that the people took a keen interest in the warfare against them in other places, and favored the extermination of the Modocs.

In 1873 a party of Indians with their squaws, were seen on the Elkhorn. They were advised to move on, and did so. The last Indian seen in bands in this vicinity was in 1879 or 1880.

Pages 43 - 44

The second epoch of Lincoln County history begins with its organization into a county in 1870. In spite of the drawbacks and dangers of pioneer life, in spite of the fact that Kansas had not yet out-grown her reputation for being a desert place with hot winds, and the fact that our county was at that time open frontier, exposed to hostile Indians, in spite of famine, flame, malaria and fever, people came, and kept coming. The valleys tilled with settlers, and the hills with herds, till four years after the first claim was staked, there were five hundred and sixteen people here.

The Legislature defined the boundaries of Lincoln County in 1867, and it was first a township of Ottawa and later of Saline County. A petition headed by Tom Boyle, Martin Hendrickson, Geo. Green, H. J. Wisner, and Isaac DeGraff, asking for separate county organization, was sent to Topeka.

Governor Jas. M. Harvey proclaimed separate county organization and established a temporary county seat on the northwest quarter of section 35, township 11, range 8, about where Lincoln Center now stands. He appointed temporary officers as follows: Isaac DeGraff, Washington Smith, and John S. Strange, County Commissioners, and F. A. Schermerhorn county clerk, on October 4, 1870, and on October 6, the Commissioners met at the house of Jno. S. Strange.

They named the county Lincoln in honor of Abraham Lincoln, and divided it into four townships, Colorado, Elkhorn, Salt Creek, Indiana. They also turned down a petition to have the county seat moved three miles east and one-half mile south of where it was. This was near the place which afterwards became the Abram townsite. The petition was headed by M. D. Green, Dick Clark, Jacob Harshbarger, and Harmon Kingsley.


Pages 44 - 48

Few counties have managed to get along without a county seat contest, and this was the beginning of the one in Lincoln. The election in November resulted as follows: Representative, I. C. Buzick; Commissioners, Cornelious Dietz, Jas. Wild, John S. Strange; County Clerk, A. S. Potter; Treasurer, Vollany Ball; Probate Judge, D. C. Skinner; Register of Deeds, T. A. Walls; Sheriff, R. B. Clark; Coroner, Francis Seiber; County Attorney, Myron Green; District Clerk, J. A. Cook; Surveyor, P. Lowe. This was a victory for those in favor of changing the county seat, so it was picked up bodily and taken over the hill, where, in order to make business legal, the county officers met and organized court on the bare and bleak townsite of Abram one cold January day in 1871. They then adjourned to the house of Ezra Hubbard, where the new County Commissioners met in February, 1871. A license to sell liquor was granted, Mr. Strange casting his vote against it. Three petitions for county roads were accepted. The first was to run from section 12, on the east line of the county, to the county seat, the second from Pottersburg to the county seat, and the third was to begin between section 24 and 25, on the east line of the county, and go to Elkhorn Creek, and thence to a point about a half mile west of Twin Groves, corner of section 28. The clerk was instructed to procure seals for the Probate Judge and Register of Deeds, and advertise for proposals to build a court house. The bids were to be filed in the clerk's office up to 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, and the court house was to be completed by July 1. In March, 1871, the Legislature provided for court in Lincoln County. Jas. H. Canfield, of Junction City, judge of the Eighth district, presided over court on November 6th of the same year.

The buildings were put up the next summer. The county effects were housed in the upstairs of Myron Green's store. A frame building 25x60 feet. County Clerk A. S. Potter had to issue the license to sell liquor which had been granted to Fred Buckner and John Cleary, and is mad yet because he had to.

Two petitions were filed with the Cimmissioners that year to hold another election on the county seat proposition. Both were rejected in June. There was considerable agitation at this time about this question, and a tragic affair occurred which really settled the county seat fight.

Ezra Hubbard was building a mill at Rocky Hill. Bad blood had come to exist between him and the Haleys, who wanted to drive him off his claim. They annoyed him a great deal, sometimes coming at night and tearing down the building. At one time John Haley burned one of Hubbard's freight wagons. The latter suspected Haley of stealing logs from his timber land, so on one occasion, when he and his son-in-law, John Cook, went with their teams to haul logs, Hubbard took his carbine with him to stop Haley from trespassing.

Haley was on the Hubbard property, and when the men were about to hitch to a certain log he claimed it, saying that it had floated onto Hubbard's place from his. A quarrel arose and Hubbard shot Haley.

After the shooting Hubbard managed to get away from Haley's friends and gave himself up. He was at first put in the store building at Abram, and later confined in a building used for a boarding house. Cook was arrested and kept with him.

This building has since been moved to Lincoln, and is now occupied by John Kyle's tin shop. Sheriff Medcalf appointed four of Hubbard's worst enemies to guard the prisoners, refusing all other help that was offered. As no two persons exactly agree on the names of these guards, we are not sure that we are absolutely correct in the matter, but it seems most likely that they were John Lyden, Chas. Wilson, John Ryan, and Tim Murphy.

John Lyden did his best to protect the two prisoners, but to no avail. A mob of forty men, in all degrees of intoxication, took the place. They first shot at Hubbard through the window and later entered the building and shot again. Suffering from nine wounds the old man crept up the cleats on the wall to the loft. Later in the night some members of the mob beat out his brains with a carpenter's mallet. Cook escaped.

Several parties, including all of the guards, were arrested, but none were brought to trial except Ira Buzick. He was acquitted. This trial cost the county $10,000, and, of course, people grumbled and blamed the officers for not keeping such disturbances down.

Hubbard's body was taken to Salina for burial. Those who escorted the body were well armed, but then, nobody was considered dressed in those days unless he was sufficiently armed to take care of himself. Thomas Bennett bought the mill. This is the way it looked in process of building.

Mob violence was used as an argument for changing the location of the county seat. On February 19, 1872, an election was held at which 408 votes were cast. Lincoln Center received 232 and Abram 176.

The triumphant Lincolnites then loaded Abram on wheels and brought it along with the county's archives to Lincoln. All the buildings were moved. Abram was not allowed to die a natural death, but was given the distinguishing honor of being translated while yet in the body.

A building was erected for a newspaper by a deaf and dumb man, but only two issues of the paper came out.

This building, which was 10x22 feet, was later moved to Lincoln, and became the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Anna C. Wait. Mrs. Wait taught Lincoln's first school in it, and it is now used for a shoe shop.

In 1873 the county headquarters was in the upstairs of the Webster building. The rent on this upper room was $300 per year.

April 1st of this year bonds to the amount of $4,000 were voted for building a court house. There was much opposition to these bonds, and after the blanks for the bonds had been ordered, County Clerk A. S. Potter was warned that an injunction would be served on him to prevent his signing them. Accordingly the blanks were taken from the express office at Salina by another man so that County Attorney Beatty would not know they had come. They were privately handed to Mr. Potter, who, with John S. Strange, retired after night to the lonely habitation of Tom Malone, northwest of Lincoln, where they each signed their names one hundred and seventy-six times to bonds and coupons. The bonds were not sold for face value, but the balance of three hundred dollars was made up by private subscription. The court house, which was built at that time, was burned in 1898. The present fine building shown In the picture was then built, and dedicated in 1900.


Page 49

This brings us down to a famous period in the annals of Kansas-1874-"grasshopper year." In the diary of E. B. Johnson is an account of the grasshoppers in August, 1868. They came from the north, commenced at the edge of his corn field and cleaned it as they went. But in 1874 they made their big raid through Kansas and did not slight Lincoln County. It made times extremely hard everywhere, especially for the new settlers who had nothing but their crops.

The Government sent out some blankets and army overcoats and for many years afterward the grasshopper sufferer could be picked out of a crowd by his coat. Relief was also sent out by private parties in the East. Many people were left absolutely destitute and the township trustees spent the winter distributing supplies. Not a green leaf was left. Everything was eaten up but castor beans. The grasshoppers drew the line here as does the small boy.

Pages 49 - 50

The next year a very mysterious murder occurred. A well educated and cultured Irishman, John Lyden by name, who had been one of the armed guards placed over Ezra Hubbard, was the victim of foul play, the full secret of which will probably never be unearthed. The facts so far as they developed at the time are as follows: John Lyden, a wealthy stock owner of the Elkhorn was shot as he sat at breakfast one morning, by an unknown party, the shot being fired from under the table. The body was hid under the bed all day and at night taken in a wagon to the vacated home of Dr. Seiber, who had built one of the finest houses in the county and later left it. Here the body was thrown into the well, the house was burned down and some of he charred timbers thrown into the well. The body remained in the well about a month before it was discovered. In the meantime a young man by the name of Millard Eaton who was working for Lyden at the time rounded up his cattle, drove them to Ellsworth and shipped them to John Lyden at Kansas City. Eaton went to Kansas City and returned by way of Salina, leaving $1,000 in a box with a certain doctor there. He went out home and had a big party and seemed to have plenty of money to spend. By this time people began to wonder what had become of Lyden. Eaton, then came to Lincoln Center on Sunday.

A certain already notoriously bad character attracted suspicion to himself by driving from Salina to Lincoln in two and a half hours, and taking Millard Eaton away with him, after which Eaton was seen no more in Lincoln, but rumor had it that he was seen in Kentucky by the Lincoln County sheriff who went there ostensibly to bring him back, which he did not do. All sorts of surmises and rumors were current but the incident was closed without any one being bright to trial.

After Eaton disappeared a searching party comprised of F. A. Schermerhorn, Tone Bishop, Wells, and Grubb found the body in the well. Mr. Bishop climbed into the well and saw blood on the side of it. The body was under water. Some of the citizens employed a private attorney to look into the matter. Several parties were suspected of being implicated. It was not supposed that Eaton did the shooting himself but seems probable that he was there when it was done.


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