Rooks County, is in the second tier of the northwestern counties
of Kansas and fifth from the western boundary of the State. It
contains 576,000 acres of land is divided into twenty-one
The general characteristics of the county as to soil, climate,
etc., are similar to its neighboring counties, the soil possessing
the same wonderful fertility and retention of moisture.
Northwestern Kansas has been under-rated as an agricultural
region, on account of the slovenly mode of farming adopted by too
many of its early settlers. It may be set down as a verity that
industrious and intelligent farmers can produce as abundant crops
of wheat, corn, oats, barley, sorghum, broom corn, potatoes and
other products usually grown in this latitude as any section of
this wonderful State. Rooks is well adapted for both agriculture
and the pasturage of the land rich and undulating.
The face of the county may be thus divided: upland, 80 percent;
and bottom land 20 percent; forest (government survey), 1 percent;
prairie, 99 percent. Average width of bottoms, one and a half
miles. The general surface of the country is level, with bluffs in
southeastern portion of the county. There are belts of timber, red
and white elm, cottonwood, ash, hackberry, black walnut and cedar,
in narrow belts along the streams. In some sections of the county
gypsum is found. No coal has yet been discovered. Beautiful
magnesian lime stone is abundant is extensively used for building
purposes in both country and the towns. From 1875 when the first
reliable census was taken, the population has increased from 567
to 9,432 the present year, which shows a rapid increase, fully
keeping pace with neighboring counties.
The first settlers in Rooks County were ten persons engaged in the
stock business names James, Thomas, Joseph, John and Francis
McNulty (brothers originally from Massachusetts), Tunis Bulas,
John Wells, John Powell, Seal Northup and Capt. J. Owens. They
arrived in January, 1871, and all took the first claims made in
the county, in what afterwards became Stockton Township. They came
from Washington County, Kan., and with the exception of Jas.
McNulty and Capt. Owens all became permanent residents. Soon after
these settlers followed John Shorthill, who still resides on his
original claim in Lowell Township. Mrs. Robert E. Martin, who came
with her husband and family in the fall of 1871, was the first
woman who settled in Rooks County. She still resides in Lowell
Township. Following these early settlers soon came Thomas Boylan,
Henry Purdy, S. C. Smith, M. M. Stewart, G. W. Patterson, Henry
Hill, Geo. Steele, John Russell, Lyman Randall, John Lawson, W. H.
Barnes, Geo. W. Beebe, the Dibbles, Parks and others, who are
still residents of the county.
The first house erected in Stockton Township and Rook's County,
was erected in February 1871 by the McNulty brothers, two and a
half miles south of the county town on the south side of South
Solomon. The first marriage occurred in Lowell Township, January
1, 1873. William E. Newton was married to Mary M. Young, by E. M.
Cooper, a Justice of the Peace. Since that time the two hundred
and eighty-five marriage licenses have been issued by the probate
judge of Rooks County. The first child born in the county was
Myrtle Maude, daughter of Thomas McNulty, born Christmas night,
1871 on Elm Creek, three miles east and south of Stockton. The
first death in the county was Erastus Foster, two miles from
Stockton, in the spring of 1873. He was buried in the Stockton
On the 7th of June, 1875, two men with thirty-five Texas ponies,
came to the South Fork near Stockton and encamped, and gave notice
that they desired to dispose of their stock. The people of the
village soon gathered to inspect the ponies and one of the two
strangers went up town to make some purchases. While the citizens
were examining the livestock, the sheriff of Ellis County, named
Ramsey, accompanied by Joseph McNulty, sheriff of Rooks, rode up,
heavily armed, and announced that the ponies were stolen property.
He ordered the thief to throw up his hands but instead of obeying
the order, the man jumped behind a pony and made ready to shoot.
Both Ramsey and the horse thief were armed with needle guns and
fired simultaneously and both dropped dead. The thief's companion
was hunted up and fired on and his jaw was broken but he made his
escape. Sheriff Ramsey, who had also served as city marshal of
Hays City, had killed nine men while in the discharge of his
In 1872 two boys named Roberts who had made a claim in Medicine
Township were fired on and killed by a desperado named Johnson.
In 1873 a cattle dealer from Kentucky was murdered, robbed and
buried in the sand twelve miles east of Stockton. A day or two
afterwards the body was discovered by some children. Friends in
Kentucky were notified and the body was sent to his former home
Rockport, Sugar Loaf, Adamson, Slate, Alcona, Bradford, Webster,
Stockton, Raceburgh, Rooks, Centre, survey, Igo, Hobart, Cresson,
Chandler, Zurich, McHale, Plainsville, Welcome, Motor, Villisca.
Rooks County was organized November 26, 1872, on the petition of
more than forty freeholders. Gov. Harvey appointed temporary
officers and selected Stockton as the temporary county seat. The
special commissioners, Lyman Randall and Lewis Stults, appointed
George W. Beebe, Clerk. At the first regular election, held
December 31, 1872, at Lowell, Stockton, Paradise and Bow Creek
precincts, the following officers were elcted: Joseph McNulty,
Representative; M. Drake, Probate Judge; John Russell, Sheriff; L.
C. Smith, County Clerk; Joseph Brossard, Treasurer, Albert Cooper,
Surveyor; Thomas Boylan, District Clerk, John M. Park,
Superintendent of schools; D. K. dibble, Attorney; L. C. Smith,
Register of Deeds; D. W. Gaun, Coroner; Lyman Randall, D. O.
Adams, Lewis M. Stults, Commissioners. For county seat, Stockton
received ninety-five; Lowell, fifty-two. Whole number votes casts,
November 1873 - H. R. Taylor, Representative; G. W. Patterson,
Clerk and Register of Deeds; George W. Norcutt, Sheriff; M. M.
Stewart, Treasurer; Harvey Mitchell, County Clerk; W. H. Barnes,
County Attorney; S. S. Boggs, Surveyor; J. D. Perty, Coroner; D.
C. Foote, Superintendent; Willis Reed, Commissioner First
District; James Strout, Commissioner Second District.
November, 1874 - Frank McNulty, Representative; George W.
Patterson, Probate Judge; Joseph McNulty, Sheriff; J. H. Mitchell,
District Clerk; A. T. Avery, Superintendent of schools; W. H.
Barnes, Attorney; L. D. Reno, Coronor; John Marshall Commissioner
November, 1875 - Moses Adamson, Representative; L. C. Smith,
County Clerk and Register of Deeds; M. M. Stewart, treasurer; John
Russell, Sheriff; S. S. Boggs, Surveyor; John Hill, Coroner; John
Marshall, Commissioner Third District.
November, 1876 - S. S. Boggs, Representative; James A. French,
Probate Judge; E. Bartholomew, District Clerk; M. Adamson,
Superintendent of Schools; A. L. Patchin, County Attorney; J. S.
November, 1877 - John Shaw, Representative; J. H. Mitchell, County
Clerk; E. F. Randall, Treasurer; J. H. Mitchell, Register of
Deeds; S. S. Boggs, Surveyor; John Hilts, Coroner; Thomas McNulty,
Henry Dunn, John Marshall, Commissioners. (History of the State of
Kansas, Chicago, A. T. Andreas, 1883, Pages 1609-1610)
November 1878 - R.S. Shorthill, Commissioner; S.S. Boggs,
Representative; A.L. Patchin, Attorney; J.A. French, Probate
Judge; W.H. Barnes, Superintendent of Schools; J.W Newell,
November 1879 - M.M. Stewart, Treasurer; J.H. Mitchell, County
Clerk; John Shaw, Sheriff; S.S. Boggs, Surveyor; John Hill,
Coroner; A.M. King and Eli Sherman, Commissioners; Nat Mullon,
Register of Deeds.
November 1880 - A.B. Montgomery, Representative; J.G. Denny,
Probate Judge; C.W. Smith, Attorney; J.W. Callendar, District
Clerk; J.B. Clark, Superintendent of Schools; W.A. Fallis,
November 1881 - M.M. Steward, Treasurer; A.J. Davis, County Clerk;
Dr. H. Hill, Register of Deeds; M.P. Isenbeck, Sheriff; S.S.
Boggs, Surveyor; T.C. McBreen, Coroner; C. Schults, Commissioner.
A county court house, 42x52 feet, was erected in 1881, at a cost
of $5,000. This splendid structure is built of the elegant
magnesium limestone, found in large quantities in the immediate
neighborhood. The city of Stockton paid $3,000 for the walls, and
the house was finished at the expense of the county. The early
courts were held in the hall over the stone store, and afterwards
other rooms were used for court purposes. A strong jail built of
cottonwood logs, and on which many tons of iron were used to
strengthen it has been built near the court house. Before the
completion of the jail, prisioners were taken to Ellis County for
The two mills and creamery are located in the neighborhood of
W.W. Watson, grist mill; capital invested, $9,000; value of
J.A. French, grist mill; capital invested, $6,000; value of
C.H. Buschman, creamery; capital invested, $3,000; value of
These establishments give employment to eight teams and twenty
The County Agricultural Society was first organized in
1879 and held a fair at Stockton the same year. The officers were:
L.C. Smith, President; Lloyd Selby, Secretary, and C.C. Chapman,
Treasurer. A number of untoward circumstances caused failures to
hold meetings in 1880 and 1881, but the present year a
reoganization was effected, and a very successful fair closed at
Stockton October 5th. The present officers are: L.C. Smith,
President; J.B. Clark, Secretary, and J.C. Denny, Treasurer.
The Rooks County Record, the Republican journal of the
county, was established December 6, 1879, by W.L. Chambers and
T.C. McBreen. The Record has been regularly issued ever
since. It is published in quarto form, and its columns display
both ability and energy. October 16, 1882, J.W. Newell, the
pioneer printer of the county, purchased Mr. McBreen's interest in
the establishment. The Record is bold and outspoken in
defence[sic] of its principles, and enjoys a large circulation and
a liberal advertising patronage.
The Stockton News, the able greenback labor paper, was
the first journal established in Rooks County. J.W. Newell started
the News January 6, 1876, as an advocate of
republicanism. For one year the office was removed to Plainville,
where a paper was published but a return to Stockton was found
necessary. It was but a five column folio at the beginning, but is
now a six column quarto. The paper enjoys a liberal patronage.
During the early part of 1882 B.C. Maynard became proprietor and
editor, and the News became an advocate of the
principles of the national labor party.
Source: (History of the State of Kansas, Chicago, A. T. Andreas, 1883, Page 1610)
1879 Stockton Officers
- Ecker, W.A., Police Judge
- Elliot, Jewell, Councilman
- Maynard, C.E., Mayor
- McBreen, T.C., Clerk
- McDaniel, C.E., Councilman
- Moore, James, Councilman
- Sarver, John, Councilman
- Stewart, M.M., Councilman Washburn, D., Marshal 1883 Stockton Officers
- Guthrie, J., Councilman
- Hicks, John R., Marshal
- Lee, Hiram, Councilman
- McBreen, T.C., Clerk
- McNulty, Frank, Police Judge
- Newton, John, Councilman
- Prickett, M.E., Councilman
- Schrulen, M., Councilman
- Stewart, M.M>, Mayor Nominations for Official Positions
- Members of Congress: 6th district - R.R.[sic] Osborn of Rooks County
- Governor - R.S. Osborn of Rooks County
- Lietenant Governor - R.S. Osborn of Rooks County
- Secretary of State - R.S. Osborn of Rooks County
- State Senator: 40th District - R.S. Osborn of Rooks County
- Stockton, Kansas, Apr 30, 1892. Editor Advocate: As others are
nominating their candidates for the various state offices, I will
place in nomination my candidate for secretary of state, in the
person of Capt. R.S. Osborne, of Rooks County. A staunch and true
friend of reform, a man who is well known over the entire state,
one who can command the respect of the old soldiers of all parties
as well as their admiration. A man who is an eloquent speaker and
a campaigner without an equal in the state. The voters of the
People's party of this county wil ask the convention to nominate
him for secretary of state. Yours for success, L.J. Riley.
Source: The Advocate, May 11, 1892
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