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 townships.
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 official duties.
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 for
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, 147.
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 Third District.
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. McComb, Commissioner.
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, District Clerk.
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, Commissioner.
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 safe-keeping.
The two mills and creamery are located in the
neighborhood of Stockton.
W.W. Watson, grist mill; capital invested, $9,000; value
of product, $110.000.
J.A. French, grist mill; capital invested, $6,000; value
of product, $100.000.
C.H. Buschman, creamery; capital invested, $3,000; value
of project, $32,000.
These establishments give employment to eight teams and
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
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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