William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 4] [part 2] [Cutler's History]


The meetings of the Board of County Commissioners during the year 1856, seem to have been few. On June 16 the Board met, but no business of importance was transacted. The next meeting took place on August 8, a full Board being present. On this date a county tax of 23 1/8 per cent* on each $100 was levied, also a poll tax of 50 cents upon each voter. An election of county officers under the "bogus laws" was to take place in October, and at this meeting the Commissioners appointed Election Boards. In Deer Creek precinct, Giles Y. Sater, James Parsons and William C. Keith were appointed Judges of Election, the place for holding which was designated at the house of Isam Brown. In Cofachique precinct, William Avery, G. A. Gideon and William Mayberry were appointed Judges of Election, which was to be held at the county seat. In Cole Creek precinct the election was designated to take place at the house of W. G. Winburn, and Henry Bennett, Elias Copelin and Thomas H. Bashaw were appointed judges.

*Though it thus appears on the county records, it is probable that this tax was meant to be but 23 1/8 cents on each $100. This tax was revoked at a subsequent meeting, January, 5, 1857.

There is no record of the election being held as appointed, in October, and as this was under the bogus laws, which the Free-state citizens, who were in a large majority, refused to recognize, it is probable that the election was not held, as it is found that some of the old officers held over till the election of 1857, Brown, Cowden and Owen managing the affairs of the county up to that time.

Allen County was in the Fort Scott district, which was represented in the Legislature elected in 1856 by Blake Little in the Council and B. Brantley and W. W. Spratt in the House.

On August 19, 1856, it was ordered that a court house should be built at Cofachique. Lots were secured, J. S. Barbee appointed Superintendent of Buildings, $210 appropriated to pay the expenses and levied an additional tax of fifteen mills on the dollar.

Though preparations had been made to build, the order and appropriation, together with the tax levy, was revoked by the Board of Commissioners on January 5, 1857. At the same meeting a county tax of 43 1/8 per cent (according to the records) was levied on all taxable property, and a poll tax of 50 cents on each resident who owned property subject to taxation. A bounty of 25 cents each was offered for wolf scalps. Jacob Sherlock was appointed County Assessor, but he not qualifying for the office, Nimrod Hankins was appointed in his place, and at once proceeded to access the property of the county, and at a meeting of the Commissioners on March 30, 1857, presented his list of the taxable property in the county, which made a total value of $34,515.50. The Commissioners then revoked the tax levy made on January 5, and instead levied a tax of one-sixth of one per cent, and allowed the Assessor $24 as his salary.

In April, 1857, preparatory to a new Legislative appointment, a census was taken of the counties of Allen Bourbon, McGee and Dorn which showed a total population of 2,622 for the four counties, of which 645 were legal voters. This gave the district four delegates to the Lecompton Constitutional Convention, and at the election in June Blake Little, H.T. Wilson, Miles Greenwood and G. P. Hamilton were elected. J. S. Barbee was a candidate, but was defeated. All the candidates were Pro-slavery men.

In the new apportionment Allen County in connection with seventeen others was entitled to two Councilmen. Allen was also one of the nineteen disfranchised counties which as a district was entitled to three Representatives. The election was held October 5, 1857. Gov. R. J. Walker had promised that there should be a fair election, therefore the Free-state men determined to vote in full force, instead of refusing to participate as before. The candidates for Delegates to Congress were M. J. Parrott, Free-state, and E. Ransom, Pro-slavery. The result in Allen County by precincts were as follows: Deer Creek, one Pro-slavery vote, and thirty-three Free-state. In Cofachique, sixteen Pro-slavery votes, and twenty Free-state. In Cole Creek, three Pro-slavery votes, and twelve Free-state. Total, twenty Pro-slavery votes, and sixty-five Free-state. At this election O. E. Learnard and C. K. Holliday were elected Councilmen, Christopher Columbia, John Curtis, and Samuel I. Stewart, Representatives. J .D. Passmore was elected Probate Judge; Jesse Morris, Sheriff; Elias Copelin and T. J. Day, Commissioners.

The first meeting of the new Board of Commissioners was on January 5, 1858. J. H. Signor was appointed Clerk; Z. J. Wisner, Assessor; George A. Miller, Coroner.

On March 9, 1858, A. G. Carpenter was elected as a delegate to the Leavenworth Constitutional Convention from Allen County. At the election on the adoption of the Leavenworth constitution stood 134 for to 4 against.

On March 15th the Board of Commissioners met at the blacksmith shop of Layton Jay, at Cofachique, and proceeded to organize the county into townships. Deer Creek was a strip six miles wide across the northern part of the county. South of it was another six mile strip which was named Cofachique Township. Next south was Humboldt Township, which extended across the county and was six miles wide. The remainder of the county comprised the township of Cottage Grove. The Legislature had a short time before changed the county seat to Humboldt by request of the citizens of that town, without consulting the wishes of the voters of the county; therefore the Commissioners adjourned to hold their next meeting at the office of Orlin Thurston, at Humboldt.

On August 2, 1858, an election was held on the Lecompton constitution, under the English Bill, which resulted in 23 votes for, and 268 against.

On August 4, 1858, members of the Legislature and county officers were elected.

The Free-state Legislature in 1858 abolished the Board of Commissioners, and provided for a County Board of Supervisors instead, which was to be composed of the chairmen of the different township boards. This system was kept up until 1860, when the Commissioner system was again adopted. B. L. G. Stone was the first Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors.

On February 8, 1859, the County Board of Supervisors met at Humboldt. No business of importance was transacted.

The Board of Supervisors met at Cofachique on February 14, 1859, formed Geneva Township and called an election.

On April 5, the Board met at Humboldt and canvassed the vote of the election of March 28, for or against the formation of another State Constitution. The result was as follows: Geneva, 49 for, and 4 against; Humboldt, 70 for; Cottage Grove, 15 for. There were no returns from Deer Creek and Cofachique townships.

On June 7, 1859, a delegate to the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention was elected. There were 344 votes cast, of which J. H. Signor received 175, and Charles S. Clark, 169.

At the election of October 4, 1859, for or against the adoption of the Wyandotte Constitution, 403 votes were cast, of which 244 were for, and 159 against. On the homestead clause there were 201 votes for, and 152 votes against.

The first liquor license granted in the county was on August 22, 1859, to Thomas S. Neal and Weldon S. Main, of Humboldt.

Osage precinct was formed on August 23, 1859.

At the November election, 1859, there were 410 votes cast. Dr. John W. Scott was elected Representative; H. H. Haywood, Sheriff; Simon Camerer, Judge; S. A. Ellis, Attorney; J. H. Signor, Clerk; J. M. Perkins, Register of Deeds; William Doren, Treasurer; Merritt Moore, Superintendent of Schools; A. G. Carpenter, Surveyor; and Charles Fussman, Coroner.

On December 6, 1859, an election was held for State and County officers under the Wyandotte Constitution. At this election 310 votes were cast in the county. William Spriggs and P. P. Elder were elected Senators for the 10th District, composed of Allen Anderson, and Franklin Counties; W. H. H. Lawrence, Jacob A. Marcelle, W.F.M. Arny, S. J. Crawford, B. L. G. Stone, and N. B. Blanton, as Representatives from the same counties Stone removed from the Territory in 1860, and Dr. John W. Scott was elected in his place. George A. Miller was elected Probate Judge; J. H. Signor, Clerk of the District Court; Merritt Moore, Superintendent of Schools.

On the fourth Monday in March, 1860, a special election was held, and resulted in the election of J. G. Rikard, Probate Judge; J. C. Redfield, Sheriff; H. W. Signor, Treasurer; H. Doren, County Assessor; G. E. Zimmerman, D. B. Stewart, and N. T. Winan, Commissioners. At the same election Humboldt was made the county seat.

At the election of November 6, 1860, the result was as follows: Henry Doren, H. D. Parsons, and D. B. Stewart, Commissioners; W. Y. Martin, County Assessor; C.P. Twiss, County Attorney; John C. Douglas, Superintendent of Schools; John W. Scott, Representative. The other county officers, as well as Watson Stewart in the Council, held over.

The first regular election after Kansas became a State took place in November, 1861. Following is the result of the vote in Allen County: D. M. Valentine was elected Representative; J. E. Childs, Probate Judge; J. C. Redfield, Sheriff; A. G. Carpenter, Surveyor; A. Stewart, Assessor; E. A. House, Register of Deeds; Z. D. Wisner, Superintendent of Schools; B. F. Pancoast, Clerk of the District Court; M. Simpson, County Clerk; John A. Hart, Coroner; Nimrod Hankins, Treasurer; Thomas Jackson, Commissioner.


Before the organization of the county, the town of Cofachique had been projected by a company of Pro-slavery men from Fort Scott, and by their efforts the county was organized in July, 1855, by the first Territorial Legislature, and Cofachique designated as the permanent county-seat. This being the only Pro-slavery settlement in the county, this act caused some dissatisfaction among the Free-state men. Yet no great strife was stirred up, it being centrally located, until after the town of Humboldt was located in 1857. The founders of the last-named town numbered among them some influential men who, unknown to the citizens of the county, appeared before the Free-state Territorial Legislature early in the year 1858, and secured the passage of an act locating the county-seat at Humboldt.

From the first there was a great deal of dissatisfaction among the residents of the central and northern parts of the county with the location of the county-seat at Humboldt, and on March 26, 1860, an election was held on its re-location. Iola, which had been started the year before, and Humboldt, were the principal contesting points. The result of the election was that 562 votes were cast for Humboldt, 331 for Iola, 72 for Vernon, 4 for Center, and 2 for Cofachique, the first-named town retaining the county-seat.

The people in the vicinity of Iola, and in the northern part of the county, were still dissatisfied, and for several years thereafter the county-seat question entered largely into every political campaign. Much strife and bitterness of feeling was thus engendered between the two sections of the county, and harsh accusations and recriminations were the order of the day.

After the strife had been kept up for a number of years, a county-seat election was again ordered, to take place on May 19, 1865. At the election of that date, 285 votes were cast, of which Iola received 243 votes, Geneva 35, Humboldt 2, and Vernon 2. Iola was therefore declared the county-seat, and the records and county offices removed there at once, since which time it has remained there, and the sectional strife has abated, until there is little bitterness of feeling between the two sections, and the county-seat is considered as permanently located.

When the county-seat was located at Iola, the town company donated 100 lots to the county, to aid in the construction of public buildings. In July, 1866, bonds were voted to help raise the necessary funds, and not long after a building was purchased of George J. Eldridge, and used for county offices and all court house purposes. In 1877 the present court house was purchased for $1,800, and the old one was sold to the school district to use for a schoolhouse, for $500. The court house is built of stone, has all the necessary office and court rooms, is well furnished, and is valued at $10,000.

The jail is a strong stone structure, and was built at a cost of $10,000, in county bonds, which were voted in August, 1868. The next year the building was erected by White & Hays, at a contract price of $8,400.

In November, 1871, a tax of $5,000 was voted, to purchase and fit up a poor-farm. On February 12, 1872, a tract of land comprising 175 acres was purchased of David Funkhouser, for $26 per acre, and J.W. Driscoll was appointed keeper of the poor-farm. With the buildings and other improvements that have since been made, the value of this property has increased to fully $10,000.

The affairs of the county have always been well conducted. There has never been a defalcation by any county official. The present officers are men of exceptional ability, and carefully guard the interests of the county. T S. Stover is County Clerk; W. H. McClure, Treasurer; J. S. Fast, Register of Deeds; A. C. Scott, Clerk of District Court; W. G. Allison, Probate Judge; David Worst, Sheriff; J. L. Henderson, Superintendent of Schools; G. DeWitt, Surveyor; A. J. Fulton, Coroner; George A. Amos, County Attorney; A. J. McCarley, George W. Moon and Hiram Lieurance, Commissioners.


On some of the lands in the county granted to and claimed by the L., L. & G. R. R. Co., many settlers have located, and claim the lands as belonging to the Government, and subject to preemption. They have therefore organized themselves under the name of a "land league," to contest the rights of the railroad company. The land in question is claimed by the railroad company to have been granted to them by the act of Congress of March 6, 1863, and lies between the ten and twenty mile limits of the above named company, outside the limits of the M., K. & T. R. R. lands, and mainly in Towns 23, 24, 25 and 26 and in Ranges 21 and 22, and comprises about 29,000 acres. There has been considerable trouble, which grew out of the contest over this land, and several deeds of violence have been committed. The question of ownership yet remains unsettled. The settlers claim that the lands outside the ten mile limit belong to the United States Government, on account of the road not having been completed to its intended terminus by the time agreed upon, and that the lands unsold by the State by March 3, 1873, reverted again to the United States Government.

The first railroads were built in Allen County in 1870, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad being completed across the southwestern part of the county in the spring, and the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad across the county from north to south, on the east side of the Neosho River, in the fall of the same year. Bonds were voted by the county to aid in the construction of each of these roads.

In 1880, bonds having been voted by the different townships on the line, the Fort Scott & Wichita Railroad was built across the county from east to west, passing through Iola.

Besides the above roads, bonds have been voted to the Nebraska & Kansas Central Railroad, which will, if built, pass through the county on a line nearly parallel with the Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Kansas Railroad, formerly known as the L., L. & G. R. R.


For the first few years in the history of the county it will be seen that it grew quite rapidly. In 1860 there was a population of 3,082. During the years of the war the country developed but slowly. From 1865 to 1870 there was a steady increase, the population then numbering 7,022. For the next three years the country settled rapidly, and numerous improvements were made, as well as thousands of acres of land brought under cultivation. This period was perhaps the most progressive one in the history of the county; money was plenty and nearly every one did business, or bought property to the full extent of his capital. The result was that with the financial panic of 1873, followed by the "grasshopper raid" of 1874, nearly all improvement stopped, value of property depreciated, and many of the settlers (nearly one-third) left the county. In 1875 the population numbered 6,638. The next year times began to look better, and by 1878 the population was 8,954. With the increasing prosperity of the country, the population numbered 10,436 in 1881, while improvements that were made kept pace with the settlement. In 1882 the population had increased to 11,098, with a total valuation of property at $2,331,576.72. The value of manufactures was $50,900, with the value of annual products $150,000. In the county were eighteen church buildings, having a seating capacity of 4,345, and valued at $39,700. There are sixty-nine school districts, besides those that join with other counties, all have good houses which are well seated, many of them supplied with improved apparatus, and conducted, generally, by an energetic and skilled class of teachers.

A glance at the figures below shows the agricultural resources and wealth of Allen County. There were in 1882, 120 acres of spring wheat, yielding 1,200 bushels; 3,389 acres of winter wheat, producing 84,725 bushels; corn, 57,698 acres, 2,598,410 bushels; rye, 53 acres, 954 bushels; oats, 5,965 acres, 208,775 bushels; barley, 5 acres, 140 bushels; potatoes, 716 acres, 57,280 bushels; sweet potatoes, 24 acres, 1,800 bushels; sorghum 374 acres, 33,660 gallons; castor beans, 1,594 acres, 14,346 bushels; flax, 4,990 acres, 49,900 bushels; broomcorn, 4,963 acres, 2,481,500 pounds; millet and Hungarian, 4,086 acres, 12,258 tons; timothy and clover, 148 acres, 327 tons; prairie hay, 33,829 acres, 50,743 tons; wool clip of past year, 28,216 pounds. The value of garden produce was $6,695; poultry and eggs, $7,946; milk sold, $265; of horticultural products, $1,393; animals sold for beef, $222,942. The number of pounds of cheese produced was 15,700; of butter, 219,555. The number of horses and mules in the county is 6,108; of cattle, 20,106; sheep, 4,769; swine, 10,983.

About one-fourth of the county is open to stock range, which with the numerous streams makes this industry profitable. There is good grazing for about six months. There being no herd law it costs about $1 per head for pasturage. Prairie hay costs about $2 per ton. Sheep and swine raising are attended with great success. Of the last, Berkshires and Poland-Chinas are the favorites.

[TOC] [part 4] [part 2] [Cutler's History]