Rooks County Kansas

Local History


    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 grave-yard.
    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 interment.
    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 twenty men.
    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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