NORTON COUNTY, KS
Almena, an incorporated town of Norton county, is located on Prairie Dog Creek in the northeastern portion at the junction of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroads, 12 miles east of Norton, the county seat. It has a bank, a weekly newspaper, an opera house, good hotels, large grain elevators, an international money order postoffice with three rural routes, and in1910 had a population of 702. Being located in the midst of a fine agricultural country, Almena ships large quantities of grain and live stock, and its retail stores supply a considerable section of the northeastern part of the country. A fine quality of building stone is found in the immediate vicinity. (Kansas - Cyclopedia of State History, Frank W. Blackmar, Vol. I, 1912 Pages 65 & 66)
Still another trading point in the county is Calvert on the Rock Island five miles east of Norton, containing one store and a postoffice. (Source: Handbook of Norton County, Kansas, The Treesearcher, Volume IX, 1967)
Clayton on the Rock Island near the west line of the county, has one store and a postoffice. (Source: Handbook of Norton County, Kansas, The Treesearcher, Volume IX, 1967)
Half a mile south of Oronoque, on the Rock Island railroad is Dellvale, another small trading point containing one general store, conducted by E. Wray & Son, and a hotel managed by C. L. Paxton. (Source: Handbook of Norton County, Kansas, The Treesearcher, Volume IX, 1967)
Densmore, a small trading point, is located five miles east of Edmond, on the C. B. U. P. R. R. There is a store, a postoffice and a blackmisth shop. Land around Densmore is as fertile as any in the south part of the county, and can be bought cheap. J. A. Shesser, a prosperous German near this place, has made a success of market gardening, having for a number of years supplied the surrounding towns with the finest quality of home grown vegetables. Last year he raised on 60 acres of ground, 1500 bushels of corn. This is no great crop record, but considering that last year was the worst we have ever experienced, it proves that crops can be grown in Norton county, even in dry years.
In 1891, Myron Safford, living near Densmore, thrashed upwards of 40 bushels of fall wheat per acre. (Source: Handbook of Norton County, Kansas, The Treesearcher, Volume IX, 1967)
Devizes, on Sappa creek in the north part of the county, is a small place with one general store managed by E. J. Phipps, a blacksmith shop, and a good flouring mill. (Source: Handbook of Norton County, Kansas, The Treesearcher, Volume IX, 1967)
Edmond, a town of Solomon township, Norton County, is located on the Solomon River and the Missouri Pacific R. R., about 14 miles southeast of Norton, the county seat. It is a flourishing place, has a national bank, a grain elevator, a flour mill, a creamery, a hotel, graded public schools, a money order postoffice with one rural route, and a large local trade in all lines of merchandise. The population in 1910 was 350. (Kansas - Cyclopedia of State History, Frank W. Blackmar, Vol. I, Page 563)
Edmond, on the Central Branch U. P. R. R. in Solomon township, is one of the principal trading points in the south part of the county. It is located in the Solomon valley, on the north bank of the Solomon river. The town has about two hundred inhabitants, is situated in a fertile farming region and will always be an important trading point. They have a fine two-story frame school building costing over $7,000 - as handsome appearing a building as there is in the county - and conduct a splendid graded school.
Lands close to town are going for a song, choice farms selling for $5 to $10 per acre. This land inside of five years will be eagerly sought for at twice the prices now asked. The soil is of various kinds, ranging from a rich sandy loam to the prevailing deep, black soil which with sufficient moisture produces enormous crops.
The various business interests are well represented. The Chicago Lumber Co. have an extensive yard here, under the management of W. H. Calloway, who also deals largely in grain.
J. F. Wray carries a splendid line of general merchandise and hardware.
L. V. Davis is also dealer in general merchandise and hardware.
J. F. Graves is proprietor of the city drug store, and also handles a stock of groceries and meats.
The furniture trade is well taken care of by P. L. Cobb.
There are two blacksmith shops, one livery barn, a splendid hotel, conducted by mine host G. W. Ring, one millinery store, a barber shop, and several others of minor importance.
They also claim to have the finest flouring mill on the Solomon river west of Beloit. It is full roller process, with a capacity of 75 barrels per day. The mill is run by water power. The Solomon river near Edmond without doubt furnishes the finest water power in this part of the state.
It has been claimed that the south half of the county is not as productive as other portions; but we append a few records of crops raised by farmers near Edmond that refute this idea, and prove that with sufficient rainfall this is one of the most productive portions of the county.
In 1891, C. E. Cleary, southeast of Edmond, thrashed 60 bushels of rye per acre.
The same year Geo. Goodrow, 1-1/2 miles southeast of Edmond, on 65 acres of ground, raised over 60 bushels of oats per acre.
In '91, John Stretch, 5 miles outh of Edmond raised from five bushels sowing, 280 bushels of rye.
In '93, T. D. Grier, joining Edmond on the south, raised 45 bushels of corn per acre.
Edmond is making a strong fight for the county high school, which will be voted on at the coming election. They have offered the county the use of a $7,000 school building, which will be furnished free of expense to the county, if the school is located here. (Source: Handbook of Norton County, Kansas, The Treesearcher, Volume IX, 1967)
Lenora, an incorporated city of the third class in Norton county, is located on the north fork of the Solomon river and the Missouri Pacific R.R., 18 miles southwest of Norton, the county seat. It has a bank, 2 hotels, an opera house, a commercial club, a weekly newspaper (the News), good graded schools and 3 churches. There are telegraph and express offices and a money order postoffice with two rural routes. The population in 1910 was 454. The town was founded in 1873 and named for Mrs. Lenora Hauser. The postoffice was established in 1875 with R. C. Sadoris as postmaster. The first town officers were: G. W. Hood, trustree, w. Friffin, treasurer; A. Hendricks and A. Bowman, justices; George E. Dubois and Ephraim Burris, constables. The first newspaper was the Leader, established in 1882. (Kansas - Cyclopedia of State History, Frank W. Blackmar, Vol. II, 1912 Page 138)
Lenora, one of the principal business points in the county, is beautifully situated in the Solomon valley in the southwest corner of the county. The fact that the Central Branch Union Pacific Railroad terminates at this point, materially aids the town in drawing trade for miles around, farmers coming here from far south and southwest to find a shipping market for their grain and stock. The north fork of the Solomon river, probably the mot important stream in the county, runs through the suburbs of the little city from west to east, and furnishes abundant water power the year round for milling and manufacturing purposes. P. Green & Sons are located on the river, half a mile from the city, with a fine flouring mill, full roller process; the mill has a capacity of 75 barrels per day, and in busy seasons is unable to care for all the grain hauled there for grinding. Four and one half miles east of Lenora is another good mill, known as the Goodman mill. The town proper has about 300 inhabitants. They have a splendid graded school employing three teachers. The M. E. and Congregational denoninations each have a fine church edifice; there is also a small organization of the Deciples of Christ, but they have no church building.
The lands surrounding Lenora are, on the bottoms a fine, rich, sandy loam, that in fair crop years produce enormous quantities of small grain, and the uplands are of the prevailing black, deep mellow soil which with sufficient moisture produce all kinds of crops in great profusion.
Good farms around Lenora are selling right now cheaper than they ever will again. Splendid quarter and half sections can be had at prices ranging from $5 to $10 per acre, that five years hence will be considered bargains at twice the prices now asked.
As a shipping point Lenora ranks third in the county. In 1893 there were shipped from this point 100 cars of cattle and 50 cars of hogs; and in 1892 650 cars of grain were shipped. About $9,000 worth of butter and eggs are shipped from Lenora every year.
Several farmers close to the city have successfully experimented with irrigation. Among them are W. A. Johnston and J. K. Gray, who last year raised 350 bushels of potatoes on six acres of irrigated land. This year they will irrigate about 80 acres all of which will be devoted to raising garden products.
Mr. Dan Nettleton, two miles north of the city, has made a success of fruit growing, having now a thrifty young orchard several acres in extent. He also has as fine a walnut grove as can be found in the county.
It will pay a man hunting cheap land to investigate regarding prices and quality in this neighborhood. As an illustration of what can be raised here, we quote a few samples of crops raised.
In 1892 N. N. Hudson, living 7 miles northwest of Lenora, raised 41 bushels of fall wheat per acre.
The same year Herman Detrich, 8 miles northwest, thrashed 39 bushels of rye per acre.
Mr. Fitch, 7 miles northwest of Lenora, in '92 thrashed 39-1/2 bushels of fall wheat per acre.
N. Larson, 6 miles south of Lenora, in '92 thrashed 36 bushels of wheat per acre.
In 1893, the worst crop year the county has ever experienced, MeMannis Bros., just east of Lenora, thrashed 15 bushels of wheat per acre.
Christian Miller, three miles west of Lenora, has a bearing orchard that for the last four or five years has produced an average of 100 bushels of apples every year, and some of the finest pears you ever saw.
R. A. Richmond, just inside of the city limits, has as fine a three year old orchard as can be found in the state.
The various merchantile pursuits are well represented in the city. Richmond Bros. handle a heavy stock of general merchandise, and do a large business in country produce. Jos. Barbo also carries a large line of general merchandise, as do also Eagleburger & Co.The drug business is well represented by E. B. Dunbar. P. J. Leonard carries a large stock of hardware, tinware, harness, etc. The Exchange Bank, with a capital of $25,000, does a general banking business. The lumber and coal trade is looked after by the Lenora Lumber Co. Battey Bros. & Smith conduct a first class meat market. Besides these are the following:
Valley House, W. A. Johnston, proprietor.
F. Meeker, dealer in harness and implements.
Commercial House, J. W. Becker, proprietor.
Dr. J. M. S. Thomas, Physician and Surgeon
Dr. M. W. Drown, Physician and Surgeon.
Two blacksmith shops, 1 shoe shop, 1 restaurant, 3 livery stables, 2 churches, 1 land agent, and others of minor importance. The grain and stock buying is attended to by C. M. Saum and the Greenleaf Elevator Co, the latter of whom have a fine elevator located here.
Lenora is making a fight to secure the high school, offering the county a $4,000 school building on three acres of ground, if the school be located there. (Source: Handbook of Norton County, Kansas, The Treesearcher, Volume IX, 1967)
Norton, the county seat of Norton county, is an incorporated city of the third class, located north of the center of the county, on the Prairie Dog creek and on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroads. It has four newspapers (the Telegram, a daily and weekly, the Courier, the Champion and the Norton County News, weeklies), an opera house, waterworks, an electric light plant, an ice plant, flour mill, grain elevators, fire department, brick and tile works, 2 banks, telegraph and express offices, and an international money order postoffice with five rural routes. This is the seat of the county high school. The population according to the census of 1910 was 1,787.
Norton was founded in 1872. The first hotel was built of logs in 1873. This building was bought by George Griffin in 1884 and in 1904 he presented it to the Norton women's clubs, who moved it to their park (Elmwood) and it is now used as a place to hold social and literary meetings. (Kansas - Cyclopedia of State History, Frank W. Blackmar, Vol. II, 1912 Page 374)
Norton County, is one of the northern tier, is the fourth from Colorado. It is bounded on the north by the State of Nebraska; on the east by Phillips county; on the south by Graham, and on the west by Decatur. It was created in 1867 and named for Orloff Norton, captain of Company L, Fifteenth Kansas cavalry. The boundaries were defined as follows: "Commencing where the east line of range 21 west intersects the 40th degree of north latitude; thence south to the 1st standard parallel; thence west to the east line of range 26 west; thence north to the 40th degree of north latitude; thence east to the place of beginning."
It is 30 miles square. The county was prematurely organized in 1872. The prime mover in the event brought about the organization for the purpose of exploitation. He disappeared from the county in June and went to Topeka, where he prepared a forged petition and presented it to Gov. Harvey. it contained but 8 names of residents of the county. The governor refused to act upon it. Immediately he prepared an affidavit stating that there were not less than 600 inhabitants in Norton county. This was sent to the governor and a second petition stating that there were at least 600 inhabitants in the county followed. It asked for organization, made recommendation for officers and asked that Billingsville be delcared the temporary county seat. Although this petition did not contain the name of a single resident of Norton county to the governor acted upon it and appointed Richard M. Johnson to take the census. As Johnson was a fictitious character, Billings had things his own way in regard to the census, and a bogus census was gotten up in short order. It was presented to the governor on Aug. 22 and the same day the proclamation of organization was issued declaring Billingsville the temporary county seat and appointing the following officers: Clerk, David C. Coleman; commissioners, J. W. Vance, S. D. Reed, and James Hall.
The commissioners met and appointed Sept. 24 as the day for the first election. Forty-one votes were cast. Norton received 38 for county seat and the following officers were elected: Treasurer, Henry Oliver; sheriff, James Hall; clerk of the district court, S. Marsh; surveyor, D. W. Mills, probate judge, Edward Newell; register of deeds, Samuel Newell; coroner, william Gibbon; commissioners, W. J. Vance, Abram Louk and Peter Hansen. N. H. Billings was elected county attorney, superintendent of public instruction and representative. He succeeded in having school bonds voted, which carried by only one vote, that of his wife's sister, a minor. When he took his seat in the legislature he had the rights of majority conferred upon her, hoping by that means to make the election legal. During that session a measure was introduced in the house of representatives as a joke to change the name of Norton county to billings to tickle the vanity of that member whom his fellow law makers had dubbed in jest "the fiery untamed Demosthenes of Norton." C. C. Vance represented the county at the next session and the name was changed back to Norton. Another county seat election was held in 1874 and Norton was again victorious.
The first settlers came in 1871 and the first homestead was taken by George Cole in September of that year. In November James Hall, D. C. Coleman, Charles Brazee, and Fred Hyde settled in the county. In the spring of 1872 a party composed of S. Marsh, Charles Hillsinger, Mott Wood, Henry Oliver and Thomas Brown came from New York to the Prairie Dog Valley. The immigration was heavy that year. The Indians had not abandoned this party of the country yet and several "Indian scares" occurred. At one time a band of Sioux just returning from a battle with the Pawnees, and with the bloody scalps of the latter dangling from their belts, visited the settlers and indulged in a war dance, but did no serious damage.
The first school was taught by J. H. Simmons in 1873 with 16 pupils in attendance. The first physician was Mrs. P. A. O. Briggs. She would often go 50 miles in the worst weather to see patients when she knew they were unable to pay her a cent. The menu at the first wedding was coffee, ham and corn bread. The first postoffices were at West Union and Port Landis in 1874. Alfred Coleman and John Landis were the first postmasters. The first general merchandise store was established at Norton in 1873 by Newell Bros. The first term of court was held by Judge A. J. Banta in the fall of the same year. It occupied 20 minutes.
According to the bogus census of 1872 there were 636 people in the county, though the real number probably did not exceed one-third of those figures. Ten years later the population was a trifle under 6,000. The number of acres under cultivation was 205,921, having increased from 3,156 in 1874. The value of agricultural implements in use was $23,000, the number of fruit trees about 25,000.
The population in 1890 was 10,617, that of 1900 was 11,325, that of 1910, 11,614. These figures do not indicate a depression such as occurred in many Kansas counties, especially in the early '90s. The assessed valuation of property in 1910 was $18,242,467. The total value of farm products that year was $2,527,204. Wheat, the principal crop was worth $647,519; corn, $307,633; tame grasses, $271,430; prairie grass, $136,432; oats, $135,522; sorghum, $88,000; Kafir corn, $68,000. Animals sold for slaughter brought $531,501; poultry and eggs, $103,978; dairy products, $147,593. There were more than $2,500,000 worth of live stock in the county and 85,000 bearing fruit trees.
The county is divided into 23 townships - Aldine, Almelo, Almena, Belle Plaine, Center, Clayont, Crystal, Emmett, Garfield, Grant, Harrison, Highland, Lenora, Leota, Lincoln, Modell, Noble, Orange, Rock Branch, Rockwell, Sand Creek, Solomon, and West Union. The postoffices in 1910 were Almena, Calvert, Clayton, Dellville, Densmore, Devizes, Edmond, Lenora, Norton and Oronoque.
The surface is prairie, bottom lands comprising 15 percent. The principal streams are: Sappa creek in the northwest, Prairie Dog through the center, and the north fork of the Solomon in the south. They are lined by thin belts of native timber. Limestone, sandstone and potter's clay are found. A branch of the Missouri Pacific R. R. enters in the south from Phillips county, runs west and terminates at Lenora. A branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy enters in the northeast, runs southwest to Norton and west into Decatur County. The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific enters in the northeast and crosses southwest through Norton into Decatur county. (Kansas - Cyclopedia of State History, Frank W. Blackmar, Vol. II, 1912 Pages 374-376)
Oronoque, on the B. & M. R. R. nine miles west of Norton, is an important trading point in the county. The town is small, but the business men are a class of live, energetic people, who suffer no opportunity to pass for drawing trade to their little burg. It is beautifully situated in the Prairie Dog valley and surrounded by as good a farming country as there is in the county.
The various mercantile pursuits are well represented.
Burke Bros. carry a heavy line of general merchandise.
Jos. Butler is also dealer in general merchandise, boots, shoes and groceries.
I. Keener & Son conduct the post office and carry a full line of dry goods, groceries, etc.
Dr. C. V. Corns conducts a model drug store, and is the village physician.
Eagleburger & Eighmy are dealers in hardware, farm implements, etc.
The Foster Lumber Co. have a good yard located here.
Besides these the town has a splendid frame school house, a hotel, a livery barn, and two blacksmith shops.(Source: Handbook of Norton County, Kansas, The Treesearcher, Volume IX, 1967)