RAWLINS COUNTY, KANSAS

HISTORY

Rawlins County, the westernmost of the late organized counties of Kansas, is in the northern tier of counties, the twelfth one from the Missouri River, the second one from Colorado. It was named after Gen. John A. Rawlins, who went into the cabinet of Gen. Grant as Secretary of War March 11, 1869, and died September 6, 1879, while holding the office. Its area is 1,080 square miles; it embraces Towns 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, and Ranges 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 and 36.

The general surface of the county is gently undulating. The average width of the bottom is three-fourths of a mile; of the timber belts one-fourth of a mile. Prairie land embraces about 96 per cent of the territory; timber land 4 per cent. The soil is a rich, black loam; springs of living water are numerous; excellent clay for making bricks exists; white and yellow magnesium limestone is abundant, and what is called native lime is found in large banks.

The county is watered by the South and North Forks of the Sappa, which rise in Sherman County, and by the Beaver, Little Beaver and North Beaver Creeks, the first two of which also rise in Sherman County. The Beaver waters the southwest and central portions of the county. The varieties of timber are ash, box elder, cottonwood, elm, walnut and willow.

August C. Blume, August Deitleff, Albert E. Lange, Charles Nast and Antone Stermer, five Germans, made the first settlement in the county in April, 1875. When they came they saw a roving band of Cheyenne Indians. Three of these men remained in the county, the others returned East.

Mr. Blume is Chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

Mr. Stermer was shot in his own corn-field, within a few steps of his wife, Dena Stermer. Mrs. S. is now improving their claim. Mrs. Bella, wife of August C. Blume, was on their claim during a raid made by the Cheyenne, and was often months alone prior to the raid, while her husband was working for food for his family. Mr. Lange is a brother of Mrs. Stermer, whose husband was killed by the Indians. John Bande, from Bohemia, came to the county in the spring of 1877, and his boy, Karl, is the first child born in the county. Isaac Weber, Simeon Holstein and Jefferson McCoy, cattle men, followed in the settlement.

COUNTY ORGANIZATION, ELECTIONS AND OFFICERS

Rawlins County was created by the Legislature of 1873, and organized May 25, 1881, with Atwood as temporary county seat. William R. Shirley was Special County Clerk; Lorenz Demmer, August C. Blume and Herman Kase, Special County Commissioners. In November, 1880, the election was held as a municipal township of the county, also, at the township election in February, 1881. As a county, Rawlins voted on the county seat in July, 1881, and at the general election in November, 1881; it had township elections in February, 1882, and voted at State election November 7, 1882.

In 1880, it polled 182 votes; in February, 1881, about 100; in July, 314; in November, 178; in February, 1882, its vote was 192; in November, 241. George H. Case, of Jewell County, was the Senator; O. L. Palmer was elected Representative in 1881; S. T. Lloyd, in 1882, but he was denied a seat in the House in 1883. The House had 125 members, without the Rawlins County member, and it compromised the matter by paying Mr. Lloyd mileage and per diem for about twenty days.

The vote of Rawlins County at the Presidential election was Garfield, 119; Hancock, 61. Its guber national vote has been as follows: In 1880, St. John, Republican, 116; Ross, Democrat, 64. In 1882, St. John, Republican, 85; Glick, Democrat, 94; Robinson, National, 48.

At the election, November 2, 1880, the vote of Rawlins County on the "Prohibition" amendment was 63 for, 83 against. There were 15 votes for a constitutional convention, 119 against.
The county officers have been as follows:

County Clerks William R. Shirley, William Reilly, James D. Greason, Cyrus Anderson.
County Commissioners First District, Lorenz Demmer, Albert Hemming. Second District, August C. Blume. Third District, Herman Kase.
County Treasurers Greenup Leeper, S. H. Tindell.
Registers of Deeds John E. Hayes, J. W. Cochran.
Sheriffs Ed. H. James, R. F. Crooch.
Coroners Leonard Wiltse, John H. Brown.
County Surveyor John A. Bliss.
Superintendents of Public Instruction W. W. Dennis, J. H. Halbert.
Probate Judge R. W. Fowler.
County Attorneys Patrick Fleming, Linus S. Webb, Joseph A. Hewes.
Clerks of the District Court Al Birdsall, James H. Edie, W. H. Dimmick.

Commissioner Districts The east one-third of the county is the First District. It embraces the township of Herndon, which takes the north one-half of the territory, and the township of Jefferson, which embraces the south one-half. Each township has 180 square miles.

The Second District embraces Atwood, the central township of the county, which contains ten Congressional townships 360 square miles.

The Third District contains Celia, the west township of the county, which embraces one-third of the county 360 square miles.

PRESS HISTORY

The Atwood Pioneer was established October 23, 1879. Edwin and A. L. Thorne were the publishers. Rev. A. S. Thorne was the Presbyterian Missionary for Rawlins, Thomas and adjoining counties. In their religious directory it is announced that Mr. Thorne would preach every Sabbath morning in the post office building. Rev. J. Langley, M. E., alternate Sabbaths at 3 o'clock P. M. A Sunday school had been organized October 19, with Rev. A. S. Thorne, Superintendent; W. H. Hopkins, Assistant Superintendent; J. C. Christian, Secretary and Treasurer; A. Vinton, Librarian; Rev. Mr. Thorne, who was also the agent for the American Bible Society, donated ten Bibles and twenty Testaments.

In his salutatory, Mr. Thorne said:

"Four months ago we directed the Review, then being published in Millerstown, Butler Co., Penn., to be closed with a view to the removal of the office, presses and type to the new and flourishing State of Kansas. We landed at Atchison in November, 1857, lived in Brown County until the fall of 1860, and after this long absence, our search for a home on public and unoccupied land brought us to Rawlins County, at Atwood, at the forks of the Beaver, as the most desirable and promising location."

Rawlins County Pioneer. January 7, 1882, No. 1 of Volume I of this paper appeared, A. S. Thorne and Edwin P. Thorne, publishers and proprietors. They proposed to be in politics, Republican, but in no partisan sense. April 19, Mrs. E. P. Thorne appears as editor; May 3, A. S. Thorne, publisher. The August numbers of the Pioneer were half sheets, patent outside the last one being No. 27, Volume II, August 23. Volume II was assumed January 14; it became the Toiler's Organ, and January 28, it announced itself as the continuation of the Atwood Pioneer.

The Republican Citizen. This is a five-column paper, with patent outsides. In January, 1882, J. M. Matheny and J. D. Greason appear as editors and publishers; January 27, Cyrus Anderson succeeded Mr. Matheny; June 9, Mr. Greason was sole editor and publisher, and so remained January 1, 1883. It entered upon its third volume December 14, 1882.
June 1, 1880, C. S. Winslow became the manager of the Pioneer Publishing Company, and in his salutatory said:

"The Pioneer shall ever be opposed to monopolies; to repudiation; to depreciated or bogus currency; and to the use of alcoholic liquors as a beverage."

At this time the Pioneer changed the spelling of Attwood to Atwood.

In August, Mr. Winslow was succeeded by Rev. A. S. Thorne, who proposed to make the Pioneer "a medium of good to the entire people of the county, knowing no party, locality or faction who shall control its columns to the detriment of any." With the issue of December 11, the same year, the publication of the paper was suspended.

STATISTICS

In 1881, the number of persons of school age in the county was 455; in 1882, it was 510. The preponderance of males over females in 1881, was 75; in 1882, it was 24. The school enrollment in 1881 was 94; in 1882, it was 192; average attendance 123. There are nine organized school districts. In 1882, the average monthly pay of male teachers was $20; of female, $14.83. There are five schoolhouses in the county; total amount received in 1881 for school purposes, $204.60; in 1882, $539.06.

Population.--In 1880, the population of the county was 1,623; males, twenty-one years of age and over, to the manor born 428; of foreign birth, 116. The assessor's returns for 1882 were 1,410.

Reports from the county to the State Board of Agriculture are reported for the year 1882. The acreage of winter wheat was 866. John Gleason, Atwood, had 10 acres, yielding 37 bushels per acre; Paul Demmer, Herndon, 20 acres, 35 bushels per acre; James K. Bliss, had wheat averaging 68 pounds to the bushel. There were 180 acres of spring wheat; 4,381 of corn; 591 of rye; 58 of oats; 8 of barley; 33 of Irish potatoes; 102 of sorghum; 43 of castor beans; 31 of broom corn; 1,029 of millet and Hungarian. It produced 800 pounds of cheese; 18,807 pounds of butter; the value of animals sold for slaughter $688.

Taxable Property.The valuation of property for 1882, was $49,378.73, which was personal property. There were 481 horses; 78 mules; 266 swine; 976 sheep; 1,646 cattle.

ATWOOD

In April, 1879, J. M. Matheny and T. A. Andrews laid out the town of Atwood on the west one-half of the southeast quarter and the east one-half of Section 4, Town 3 in Range 33. Mr. Matheny was President and Mr. Andrews Secretary of the Town Company, and was the Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction. Owing to the location of the town site on school land, there was a change made in the site, and a union in the early spring of 1880, of Kelso, old and new Atwood in the present town of Atwood.

The county seat contest was between Atwood and Danube, now Ludell, six miles north of it. Atwood was the victor, and the county seat was permanently located here in July, 1881.
The Legislature of 1883 provided for terms of the District Court in the Seventeenth Judicial District for Rawlins County, commencing on the second Monday of May and the second Monday of November of each year, and attached Cheyenne County thereto for judicial purposes.

Judge William H. Pratt held the first term of court a special one at Atwood February 28, 1882. The attorneys then present were G. Webb Bertram, J. A. Hewes, J. M. Matheny, L. S. Webb and M. A. Wilson. There were no jury cases. A special term commenced also April 23, 1882. There were twenty-three cases on the docket, three for divorce, six State cases. The one consuming the most time was a libel suit by Linus S. Webb against James D. Greason and Cyrus Anderson, of the Citizen. The jury brought in a verdict of not guilty, and the costs of prosecution were assessed to the county.

OTHER POST OFFICES

The past and present offices in the county may be described in the following manner:
Achilles, in Jefferson Township, thirteen miles southeast from Atwood
Beaver, southwest of Atwood, in the township of Atwood
Dearborn, in Celia Township, to the south of Beaver
Driftwood, in the northeast part of Celia Township
Emma, formerly Celia, centrally located in Celia Township
Herndon, in the northeast, and Jerome in the northwest part of Herndon Township
Laing, sixteen miles southeast of Atwood, in Jefferson Township
McCloud, formerly Voltaire, in the southwest part of the county
Rawlins, about eight miles east of south from Atwood
Sappa, in the southeastern part of Atwood Township
Scio, in the southeastern part of the county
Irvington and Kelso are among the defunct towns

Source: William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, 1883 by A. T. Andreas

McDonald, a little town in Rawlins county, is located in Celia township on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R. R., 22 miles west of Atwood, the county seat. It has a bank, a weekly newspaper (the News), and a number of mercantile establishments, telegraph and express offices, and a money order postoffice with one rural route. The population in 1910 was reported as 350. (Kansas A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events, Institutions, Industries, Counties, Cities, Towns, Prominent Persons, Etc., Edited by Frank W. Blackmar, A. M., Ph. D., Volume 2, 1912)


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