The Early History of Newton
by William G. Cutler (1883)
Newton, the metropolis and county seat of Harvey county, is geographically located in the center of the eastern portion of the county, on the east bank of Sand Creek. Besides being the principal station on the mail line of the A. T. & S. F. Ry, east of Emporia; it is the initial point of the Caldwell Branch of that road. With its natural advantages, together with the enterprising class of citizens with which it is largely peopled, and surrounded by a thrifty class of farmers; it has, from a small village, grown to a city of the second class. The business portion of the city is built up in a substantial manner with handsome stone and brick blocks, which would be a credit to larger cities and in the suburbs are located fine private residences, amply testifying to the taste and refinement of its inhabitants.
The present town of Newton twelve years ago, was unoccupied. The habitation of man had not yet been built, and the broad and fertile prairies around were untrod, save by a few hardy pioneers, en route West. When Judge R. W. P. Muse made his first trip to this point, May 10, 1871, he found occupying a tent on the west bank of Sand Creek, the late John Sebastian, and on the town site were located Peter Luhn, Joel T. Davis, L. E. Steele, H. Lovett, Isaac Stockwell, Robert Walton, Dr. Gaston Boyd, H. W. Hubbard, E. L. Lapham, W. A. Russell, S. J. Bentley, J. J. Barker, B. C. Arnold, Louis Foy, J. T. Davis, J. Rynierson and a few others. R. M. Spivey, David and William Maxwell,---Bennett, James Millis, and W. P. Sterm arrived during the month of May, 1871. The greater portion of those above mentioned located in March of the same year.
The first frame building on the town site was moved from Darlington township, the latter part of March, 1870, and was used as a blacksmith shop, by Messrs. Stockwell and Walton. The next building was erected by Peter Luhn, and known as "Pioneer Store". About this time David and Steele erected a building and opened a bakery. Early in May, 1871 H. Lovett, S. J. Bentley, Muse & Spivey erected frame structures. After this new buildings went up daily and the future of the town was assured.
On the completion of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, July 17, 1871, Newton became the shipping point of the immense herds of Texas cattle which prior to this time had been driven to Abilene on the Kansas Pacific Railroad. In anticipation of this important event the population of the place was greatly augmented by the arrival of large numbers of "the only original cow-boys" saloon men, gamblers, "soiled doves" and roughs of every nationality and color. In harmony with their surroundings and character all went armed in the most approved border fashion.
In that part of the city known as "Hyde Park" no less than fifteen buildings were erected and devoted to "social amusement" in which these characters figured conspicuously. Nearly every other building in the business portion was occupied by saloons, which would be named "Do Drop In" "The Side Track", "Gold Rooms", and other appellations suggestive of the times. The "cow-boy reign" which practically continued from June, 1871, to January 1, 1873, was an epitome of what has been and is now being enacted where that element predominates. As a matter of fact many persons were killed and wounded during that time, but the number has been greatly exaggerated.
A careful review bearing on this point by Judge R. W. P. Muse in his "History of Harvey County" places the total number killed as twelve. As many conflicting statements have been made on this number it has been impossible to alter the number with accuracy. It is possible and highly probable that several shooting scrapes occurred in which parties were dangerously wounded and reported killed; while it is admitted by all that the numerous shooting affairs that occurred during the "reign" were lamentable events, detrimental to the best interests of the city, it is also shown that they were confined to the rough element. Pages might be devoted to detailed account of the various shootings scrapes occurring during that times, but a mention of the "general massacres" will prove sufficient.
The affair, which terminated in the death of five of its participants and the wounding of as many more, occurred on the night of August 9, 1871, at the dance house of Perry Tuttle. On account of some prior difficulty between McCloskey and Jim Anderson, the latter, on the evening mentioned entered the dance house with a number of his companions and shot McCloskey, who returned the fire after he was down, wounding his antagonist so badly that he afterwards died. Standing near the door was a young man, evidently in the last stages of consumption, who was a personal friend of McCloskey's.
Seeing his friend down he turned and locked the door preventing egress. Then drawing his "shooting iron" he fired into the Anderson crowd, killing three outright and wounding three or four more. As the young man, Riley, appeared to have everything his own way the affair terminated at this juncture. In this connection the first death occurred June 16, 1871, in which two cow boys, Snyder and Welsh, got into a difficulty in front of Gregory's saloon and the latter was killed.
After the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad was completed to Dodge City and a branch to Wichita the cattle trade turned to these points and Newton was soon free from a large proportion of the desperadoes and roughs who so long infested it. After the return of law and order the city did not recover from the effects of its early days for nearly two years, and to still more increase the retrogressive movement a disastrous fire occurred on the evening of December 8, 1873, destroying the east side of block 38, the best business portion of the city. In April 1875, the population of the city was 769, and of the township 293, a large decrease from the returns of 1872. During the spring and summer of 1875 the town sprang into and entered a new life, and in 1878 boasted of a population of over 2000. Present estimated population (1882) 5,000.
Prior to its incorporation as a city of the third class, February 22, 1872, Newton, practically had no government of any kind, and even after its incorporation, during the "cowboy reign" the majesty of the law was unheeded. At the first city election, held April 1, 1872, L. E. Steele, S. Lehman and R. C. Arnold constituted the board of canvassers. the following were elected: Mayor, James Gregory; Councilmen, E. Chamberlain, D. Hamill, Isaac Thayer, B. C. Arnott, Jno. Winram; Police Judge, M. J. Hennessy. At the first meeting of the City Council, held April 3, 1872, E. Lunn was appointed Clerk pro tem; G. Chamberlain, Treasurer; D. Skelly, Attorney; W. Brooks, Marshall; Chas. Bowman, Assistant Marshall. R. B. Lynch was appointed Clerk, in July, 1872. By a proclamation of the Governor, Newton was made a city of the second class, January 22, 1880, and on February 5, of the same year, was divided into three wards.
The following named gentlemen have officiated as Mayor: 1873, F. H. C. McQuiddy; 1874, R. M. Spivey; 1875, J. B. Dickey; 1876, H. W. Bunker; 1877, O. B. Edgett; 1878-9 S. Saylor; 1880-1, R. C. Love; 1882-3, R. W. P. Muse. Present city officers are : Mayor, R. W. P. Muse; Council, J. W. Helwig, H. W. Hubbard, C. L. Berry, E. B. Fowler, James Geary, R. Collins; Clerk, J. W. Edwards; Treasurer, E. L. Parris; Attorney, C. Butcher; Police Judge, Wm. Shaver; Justice of Peace, D. Feiger; Constables, R. B. Ransom, M. D. Stimmel.
Postoffice -- Was established in the summer of 1871. W. A. Russell being appointed first Postmaster. He was succeeded, September 13, 1872, by William Brown, who occupied the position until October 30, 1873, when A. C. Fredericks was appointed. In 1879, H. C. Ashbaugh, the present Postmaster, received the appointment. During Frederick's administration, the office became a third class office. At this office the money order system was established, July 1, 1874. A. C. Fredericks purchasing money order No. 1, July 6, 1874.
The Press and the Schools
The Newton Kansan, the first number of which appeared August 22, 1872, under the editorships of H. C. Ashbaugh, was the first newspaper published in Harvey county after its organization. The paper, an eight-column folio has been under the same management to the present time, and is republican in politics, progressive in ideas and identified with the progress and welfare of home interests.
Newton Republican -- The first number of this paper appeared August 11, 1875, as the Harvey County News, under the management of J. E. Duncan and A. W. Moore. Duncan remained as editor until December 29, 1875. On the 28th of April 1876, J. S. Collister purchased a half interest of Moore, and the paper was run by the new firm until December, 1876, when Moore retired, leaving Collister, who published it until the summer of 1879, he then sold his interest to C. G. Coulant, who changed the name to its present appellation. In November 1879, the paper passed into the hands of R. W. P. Muse and R. M. Spivey, who continues its publication until June 10, 1881, when it passed into the hands of Hon. A. B. Lemmon, its present editor and proprietor. the name of the paper indicates its politics. In April 1881, the paper was enlarged from a nine column folio to a six column quarto, its present size. The Republican is known as being on of the leading papers in the Arkansas Valley.
Newton has under the existing management one of the best school systems in southern Kansas. The first steps toward promoting her educational interest were taken August 10, 1872, when the people voted $5,000 in bonds for the erection of a brick schoolhouse. The first public school was opened August 26, 1872, by Miss Mary Boyd, and from this date educational interests have been well looked after as the present school system will amply testify.
The contract for the new building was let September 19,1872, to W. K. Jackman, who completed it the following season. On the incorporation of the city, into a city of the second class, in January, 1880, it was divided into three wards, in which have been erected handsome and substantial structures for educational purposes. Prominent among the rest are the north and south side building, which are a credit to cities of ten times the size.
First Presbyterian Church was organized July 7, 1872, by Rev. J. P. Harsen, with seven members, namely F. L. Faatz, W. R. Johnson, J. C. Johnson, James M. Johnson, Mrs. Mary Johnson, D. L. Payne and --Calderhead. During the first two or three years the church had no regular pastor. Rev. A. E. Garrison became pastor in March, 1875, and remained until the close of 1878. In April, 1879, Rev. James H. Clark became pastor and remained until the spring of 1882. In November, the present pastor, Rev. E. J. Brown, assumed charge. The membership has increased as follows: 1872, 7 members; 1874, 12 members; 1875, 21 members; 1876, 37 members; 1877, 56 members; 1878, 66 members; 1879, 64 members; 1880, 104 members; 1881, 108 members; 882, 102 members. During the pastorate of Rev. Garrison, the present church edifice, a frame structure, 35 X 50 feet, was completed at a cost of $5,000. The church has always maintained a Sabbath school. the membership of which is now 137.
Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in the spring of 1872, by Rev. M. M. Haun, as a Mission, which embraced all of Harvey county, and included six appointments. In March, 1873, the Newton organization numbered thirty members, under the pastorate of Rev. L. F. Laverty, who remained two years. The first church edifice (now occupied by the episcopal denomination) was a frame, 26 X 46 feet, and was dedicated August 5, 1873, the total cost being $2,000. Rev. Laverty was succeeded in 1875, by Rev. E. C. Brooks, who remained two years. He was succeeded by the following: Walter Oakley, one year; W. A. Dodson, one year; E. C. Brooks, one year; W. W. Woodside, one year; and Rev. N. Asher present pastor, two years. A new stone edifice, 46 X 55 feet, is in process of erection, and will be completed in the spring of 1883, at a cost of $7,5000. The Sabbath school average attendance of 150 pupils. Present number of church communicants, 175.
Church of the Immaculate Conception (Catholic) -- The first services of this denomination in Newton, were held by Rev. F. P. Swembergh, in 1871, in tents and car used by the construction men, in building the railroad to this point. In the latter part of 1872, Father Swembergh organized a church with four families, and commenced the erection of a stone edifice. The first building was 24 X 40 feet, and was completed in 1874. In 1879 a addition was made in the form of a cross, and a Parochial School established with thirty-five pupils-present membership, sixty-five. During the same year, the parsonage was built. Value of church property $4,000. Since the establishing of the church at Newton, Father Swembergh has been in charge. Present membership, from eighty to one hundred families.
St. Matthews Church (Episcopal) -- Prior to its organization, services were held by Rev. A. Beattie, D. D. until an organization was effected in 1879. A stone edifice, 30 X 50 feet, was erected during the same year, at a cost of $2,500. The building was used until 1882, when on account of its imperfect construction it was torn down, and the Methodist Church purchased. The first regular pastor, Rev. James Newman, officiated until October, 1880, when he was succeeded by the Rev. R. C. Talbott, who remained four months. The organization was then without a regular pastor until July 1882, when Rev. T. L. Allen assumed the pastorate. The organization is the only one of this denomination in the county. Present membership, sixteen.
First Baptist Churchwas organized in the fall of 1877, by Rev. A. S. Merrifield, with about forty-three members. A frame edifice, 30 X 40 feet was erected during the same year at a cost of about $1,400. Rev. Mr. Merrifield remained as pastor until December 1, 1882, since which time the church has been supplied by Rev. L. T. Bicknell. Present membership, 160.
Evangelical Association(German) was formed June 18, 1879, with seven members, by Rev. E. C. Erffmeyer. In the spring of 1880 the church was admitted into the conference. A frame edifice, 26 X 52 feet, was erected in the fall of 1879, at a cost of $2,200. September 28, 1882, this building was totally destroyed by a cyclone, while a meeting of the church was in session. all the inmates escaped without serious injury. Rev. Mr. Erffmeyer was succeeded in April, 1882, by Rev. Mr. Kiplinger, the present supply. The denomination now uses the Baptist Church. Present membership, 40.
An organization of this denomination was effected in January, 1881, with ten members, six miles west of Newton, in Macon township by Rev. Erffmeyer. Meetings are held in schoolhouse, District 15; Thomas Patterson, class leader. Present membership, 13.
Mennonite Church(German)was organized in 1879, with about ten members, by Elder L. Sudermann (supply),who is the present pastor. A frame church edifice, 26 X 52 feet, was completed in the spring of 1881, at a cost of $2,000 with lot. Present membership, 55.
An organization of the German Lutheran persuasion is located here, but from absence of records or reliable data a sketch is withheld.
Banks, Hotels, Etc.
Harvey County Savings Bank, was incorporated under state laws, June 23, 1873, with an authorized capital of $100,000. The corporators and first board of directors were: R. M. Spivey, G. D. Munger, W. H. Bancroft, T. E. Neil, A. E. Touzaing. Officers: J. E. Neil, Pres.; R. M. Spivey, Vice-Pres.; F. P. Neil, Cash.; S. J. Bentley, sec'y. Their first statement, July 21, 1873, showed the resources; Loans and discounts, $3,053.25; furniture and fixtures, $89.30; expenses, $101.51, Co. orders, $202; due from banks and cash, $7,067.12; total resources, $22,681.18. Liabilities, capital paid in, $10,000; deposits, $12,477.06; interest and exchange, $204.12; total liabilities, $22,681.18. The statement issued July 3, 1882, shows loans and discounts, $1,791.52; bonds and other securities, $15,548.83; real estate, $20,440.25; furniture and fixtures, $2,342.47; cash, $21,294.61; light exchange, $69,915.87; total resources, $202,003.33. Capital stock paid in, $10,000; deposits, $171,709.85; die banks, $4,655.59; undivided profits, $15,657.69; total liabilities, $202,003.33. Present officers and directors: C. R. Schmidt, Pres.; A. S. Johnson, Vice-Pres.; R. M. Spivey, Cash.; Julius Simon, Asst. Cash., and R. W. P. Muse, Teller.
Commercial Bank The private banking institution of Knox & Harris, commenced business July 1878. On February, 1879, G. M. Knox sold his interest to J. Harris, who conducted the business until August 1, 1879, when E. H. Hoag and E. D. Fowler, became the proprietors. March 1, 1881, Mr. Fowler retired and the firm name became Hoag & Doty, and remained so until May 1, 1882, when Mr. Hoag became proprietor. In August, 1879, the discounts amounted to $10,000; in 1881, $70,000. Dailey business transactions, $30,000 to $60,000. Annual business for 1882, $1,000,000.
First National Bank, was incorporated as the Newton City Bank, November 8, 1880, with a capital of $10,000, by S. L. Lehman, A. B. Gilbert, S. R. Peters, T. E. Neil, B. McKee. The capital was increased every month until January 1, 1882, when it amounted to $25,000. In October of the same year it was organized as the First National bank, with a paid up capital of $50,000. Deposits, January 18, 1881, $17,005.92. Loans and discounts, $15,508.27. Deposits, October, 1882, $86,308.06 Loans and discounts, October 3, 1882, $94,556.75. Present officers and board of directors; S. L. Lehman, Pres.; S. R. Peters, Vice-Pres.; A. B. Gilbert, Cash,; E. B. Fowler, Teller; B. McKee, T. E. Neil, R. Regier, G. Herder.
Farmers and Merchants Bank commenced business October 1, 1881, and November 5, 1881, was incorporated, with a capital of $50,000. The first board of directors and officers were: O. H. Woodward, Pres.; P. Lander, Vice-Pres.; C. R. Munger, Cash.; and C. L. Meyers, G. F. Berry, R. W. Hodgson. Mr. Woodward retired as president, January 1, 1882, and retained the position until November 1882, when G. W. Whitter became the incumbent. In February, 1882, the capital was increased to $100,000.
Hotels -- The first building was used for hotel purposes in Newton, was erected by S. J. Bentley in May, 1871. The dining room was in active operation, before the building was enclosed. It is still standing and is occupied by James Hurst, as a drug store. What is known as the National Hotel, was completed but a short time afterwards by Henry Bulner, who run it until R. C. Love, the present proprietor took charge.
Arkansas Valley Land & Loan Company was incorporated January 18, 1882, with a capital of $100,000. Present officers: S. T. Marsh, Pres.; J. A. Randall, Vice-Pres.; G. W. Holmes, Sec'y; R. M. Spivey, Treas. Do a general loan business.
Lehman Hardware and Implement Company was incorporated January 10, 1882, with a capital of $20,000. Officers: S. Lehman, Pres.; L. Becker, Treas.; G. E. Yonkers, Sec'y. W. E. Clark, Bus. Manager; M. L. Kendall, Supt. The institution employs fourteen men and transacts a yearly business of $150,000. Newton can well claim the finest depot and hotel building in the state, if not the West. The structure known as the Arcade building was commenced in the spring of 1880, and was completed in the spring of 1882, by Muse & Spivey, at a cost of not less than $75,000. It is build of stone, veneered with brick, and has a frontage of 137 and one half feet on Main street and 300 feet parallel to the railroad track. It is three stories high, with basement, and is constructed according to the most approved plans of architectural science. In it are located the A. T. & S. F. R. R. waiting rooms, offices, etc. In May, 1882, the Hotel Arcade was opened by its lessee, F. Harvey; William H. Phillips, manager. The hotel, besides including one of the largest railroad eating houses on the road, contains over 120 rooms. the building is not only a credit to Newton, but to the enterprising men who erected it.
Opera House Block was erected in 1878, by Seaton, Muse, Spivey & Co., at a cost of $20,000. The building is a two-story stone structure, 50 X 85 feet. The second floor is used for theatrical purposes, being provided with a stage and dressing room. Seating capacity, 1,000. G. W. Seaton, manager.
Newton City Mills owned by Elias wood, were erected in October, 1875, by E. Wood & Co., the citizens of Newton contributing $1,000 towards the enterprise, which was completed at a cost of $14,000. The mill is a three-story frame, and has a capacity of fifty barrels daily.
Monarch Steam Mills were built in 1879, by D. Hamill, present proprietor. The mill is a brick structure, 40 X 50 feet, with five floors. Original capacity, three runs of buhrs. Present capacity, five runs of buhrs, and two sets of rolls, or 150 barrels daily. The enterprise required an outlay of $30,000.
Newton Fence Factory established in July, 1882, by H. Dills, who uses the Fry patent. Five men employed, and two machines in use.
Besides these industries, Newton has a foundry -- Globe Iron Works -- a creamery, to be opened in the spring of 1883, and the usual complement of cigar factories, carriage and furniture works. Newton has, although only ten years old, progressed rapidly in its manufacturing interests, and before another decade has passed, its manufacturing industries will make it one of the leading cities of southwestern Kansas.
Attractions in Newton
Bethel College is a respected full four-year liberal arts college in Newton, Kansas. Bethel is the oldest Mennonite-sponsored college in America. It was founded in 1887. Find out more.
The Carriage Factory
This popular art gallery in Newton, Kansas was founded in 1983 by the Newton Fine Arts Association, which was formed by 27 art lover in 1968.The gallery features exhibits, special events, and workshops. Find out more.
Country Boys Carriages
Take a step back in time with horse-drawn carriage, surrey and hayrack rides, and covered wagon excursions. Available for wedding and anniversary celebrations, festivals, grand openings, parades and parties. This attraction is located in Newton, Kansas. Find out more.
Harvey County Historical Society
Completed in 1904, and once a Carnegie Library, this is Newton's oldest building in continuous public use. Visitors today will find a wealth of local history and research material, including railroad memorabilia. Open Wednesday - Sunday, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. and by appointment. Find out more.
The Newton, Kansas, home of Bernhard Warkentin and Wilhelmina Eisenmayer Warkentin, built between 1886 and 1887, is a splendid example of the Victorian period in American architecture and furnishings. The Victorian house offers a glimpse into the way the Warkentins lived, with 80 percent of the original furnishings remaining. The house is listed on the Kansas Register of Historic Places and National Register of Historic Places. Find out more.