The Early History of Greeley
by William G. Cutler (1883)
Greeley is one of the oldest towns in Anderson County, and is situated in Walker Township, in the northeastern part of the county, and on Section 30, Township 19, Range 21 east. The location is a pleasant and favorable one, on the east bank of the Pottawatomie River.
The population of the town is about 400. Almost all branches of business are represented, and with a trade extending far out into a country well settled by a thrifty class of farmers and stock-raisers, the business interests receive a liberal support. The railroad communications are by the Arizona division of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Since its building in the fall of 1879, the shipping interests of Greeley have developed very rapidly, it now being the best point between Paola and Garnett.
The first settlement where Greeley now is, was in May 1854, when two young men, Valentine Gerth and Francis Myer, came with an ox-team and a few horses and cattle, and pitched their tent on the present town site. It was then an Indian field and had just been left by the Indians. After planting and raising the crop, they during the following October built a log cabin on the bank of the river near where the bridge now is. For the next two years the principal settlements of the county were made in the same neighborhood.
The town site of Greeley was selected in the spring of 1856, but was not surveyed and laid out until 7, 1857. On November 21, 1857, Jacob Benjamin, August Bondi, and Fred. Weimer, associates of the Greeley Town Company, filed their plat of the town and petition in the office of the Probate Judge, and on the fourteenth day of the following October it was pre-empted by George Wilson, the Probate Judge, for the benefit of the occupants of the town site.
In the spring of 1857 several buildings were erected and business was lively. The houses were generally built of logs, until a saw-mill could be erected, and timbers sawed. The first store was opened in the spring, by B. F. Smith. A post-office was established about that same time, but as the town was named in honor of Horace Greeley, to whom the Administration was not friendly, the office was named Walker, after Governor R. J. Walker, for whom the township was named the same year. Jacob Benjamin was appointed postmaster. A mail-route was established from Osawatomie to Neosho City, via Walker and Hyatt. In the spring of 1858 the Greeley Town Company built a saw and grist-mill, which was operated for several years afterward.
The town of Mt. Gilead having started up, the post-office was removed to that place in 1858, and soon almost all there was of Greeley was moved over to the new town. For some years Mount Gilead took the lead, but it finally died out, having many disadvantages to contend with, and the post-office was moved back to Greeley, since which time that has been the only village in the township, though for many years its population was less than one hundred.
The first marriage in the vicinity was in 1856, and was that of Oliver P. Rand and Patsy Sutton. This was the first marriage in the county. The first school taught in the neighborhood was by T. Wadsworth, in a cabin on the claim of M. E. Mitchell. This was the first school in the county and was taught for a term of three months, beginning in November, 1856. There were twelve pupils in attendance, some coming from a distance of five miles from the schoolhouse. The salary paid the teacher was $30 per month, with free board among the pupils. The next fall and winter a four months' term was taught in the same cabin by Allen Jaqua, with an average attendance of twenty pupils.
Until after the close of the War of the Rebellion in 1865, Greeley was but a very small village, with a store, post-office, blacksmith-shop, and a few other buildings. About the above date some improvement began and continued slowly until 1874, when it again came to a stand-still, owing to a failure of crops, incident to the grasshopper raid. After one or two dull years the village again began to improve, though not very fast until the railroad was built in 1879. At that time it was a prosperous country town and has ever since improved steadily, until it is now on of the most thriving towns in the county, and is a shipping point of considerable importance.
Greeley was incorporated as a city of the third class, and the first election held July 5, 1881. The officers elected at that time were: Clark Decker, Mayor; D. W. Smith, Police Judge; J. E. Calvert, J. K. Gardner, A. D. McFadden, A. Kincaid, and A. J. Frank, Councilmen. In April, 1882, the first regular election was held and resulted as follows: Clark Decker, Mayor; A. B. Benson, Police Judge; S. F. Stowe, Clerk; Chris. Bouck, Marshal; T. Z. Stevenson, Treasurer; A. Kincaid, W. Frank, J. E. Calvert, T. Z. Stevenson, and W. G. Roth, Councilmen.
As soon as the country was settled schools were established by the enterprising and intelligent settlers. This was one of the first school districts formed and has always had a good school. The present house is rather small, but it is expected a new one will soon be built. The school has now two departments. The teachers are A. D. McFadden and Belle Judy.
The only newspaper published in the town is The Greeley News, which was established June 9, 1881, by Major Samuel E. Rankin. In October, 1881, Rev. S. W. Gilkey became editor and proprietor. In April, 1882, J. H. Gilkey became a partner, and it is now published under the firm name of S. W. & J. H. Gilkey. It is a weekly newspaper, independent in politics, and in size an eight column folio.
The United Brethren in Christ.--As early as the year 1859, W. H. McClure, B. D. Edwards, Henry Hamler, and others began making arrangements for the building of a house of worship for the above named denomination. In 1860, the building of this church was commenced. It was soon enclosed but was not finished for several years. This was the second church edifice in the county. A Union Sabbath-school was organized at the church in the spring of 1860, with W. H. McClure, superintendent, and with about thirty attendants. In 1874, it became a United Brethren school, with L. Champe, superintendent. The church society has always been in a prosperous condition. The present membership is thirty-five. Rev. William Strope is pastor.
The Methodist Episcopal Church.--A society was organized by this denomination, soon after the settlement of the country, and services held at the homes of the different members of the congregation. In the spring of 1857, a Methodist Sabbath-school was organized by W. C. McDow, at his claim near Greeley. This was the first Sabbath-school in the county, and was well-attended. In the summer another Sabbath school was organized in Sutton Valley with R. Robinson, superintendent. The church society now has about seventy members, and Rev. N. P. Teddrick is pastor. Arrangements are now being made to erect a house of worship.
The United Presbyterian Church.--This church society was organized March 25, 1880, with twenty-one members. The Trustees then were: R. H. Calvert, T. L. Calvert, Jas. W. Lyon, G. G. McFadden, and W. C. Calvert, Sr. The church was built in the summer of 1880, at a cost of $1,300. The society is in a prosperous condition. The pastor Rev. S. W. Gilkey, assumed charge in July, 1881, and became settled pastor in July, 1882.
The Catholic Church.--Church services are held here by the Roman Catholics, but they have no place of worship.
In the spring of 1858, a saw and grist-mill was built by the Greeley Town Company, which after being operated several years was abandoned. In 1867, another mill was built by Robinson & McLaughlin, which for several years did a good business. The present Greeley Mills are located in the western part of the town and are owned and operated by Clark Decker. The mill was commenced in 1874, by Chris Bouck, who, lacking means to complete it, in the fall of 1875, associated with himself J. K. Gardner and John Weaver of Albany, N. Y., and the building was soon completed. After being operated until 1877, by the above firm, it was purchased by the present proprietor, Clark Decker. The mill is built of stone, and is valued at $13,000. It contains four run of burrs, and is operated by an engine of forty horse-power. Its average grinding capacity is twenty barrels of flour, and 10,000 pounds of meal and feed per day.
Greeley is located at 38°22'3N, 95°7'35W (38.367461, -95.126287). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.0 km² (0.4 mi²), all land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 327 people, 134 households, and 88 families residing in the city. The population density was 332.3/km² (864.7/mi²). There were 144 housing units at an average density of 146.3/km² (380.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 99.69% White, and 0.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.61% of the population.
There were 134 households out of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.2% were married couples living together, 5.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 26.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.01.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.8% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 15.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 104.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $39,063, and the median income for a family was $43,393. Males had a median income of $35,556 versus $18,750 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,591. About 7.1% of families and 8.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.9% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.