The county has, according to the Government survey, 20 per cent of bottom and 80 per cent of upland. It is also divided in 5 per cent of forest and 95 per cent of prairie. It is watered by Verdigris and Fall Rivers, which flow southwesterly, and by numerous creeks, of which Willow, Slate, Homer and Bachelor flow into the Verdigris, and Otter, Spring, Salt and Honey into Fall River. The average width of the river bottoms is one mile. The principal timber belts fringe these streams, and are about seventy-five feet in average width. The varieties found are oak, walnut, hickory, hackberry, elm, cottonwood, sycamore, mulberry and ash. Cultivated timber, i. e., timber claim plantings, is principally cottonwood, box elder and soft maple. Coal is found in thin veins at a distance of from four to eight feet below the surface, and is used for domestic consumption and to a small extent for blacksmithing and other purposes. Both limestone and sandstone are found in great abundance, and are of excellent quality for building purposes, fully compensating for the lack of large belts of timber fitted for such use.
Acreage Under Cultivation.--There were sown in the county in 1872, 3,719 acres of winter wheat; in 1874, 5,004; in 1876, 9,129; in 1878, 7,897; in 1880, 9,351, and in 1882, 1,902.
Acres of rye for the same years were: 86, 298, 1,089, 623, 146, 298; spring wheat, 366, 806, 153, 205, 22, none; corn, 12, 682, 20,916, 19,278, 30,540, 38,740, 60,291, and barley, 9, 5, 34, 253, 312, none.
A brief glance at these statistics will serve to show that winter wheat occupied most space in 1876, spring wheat in 1874, rye in 1876, and that the acreage of corn has been steadily on the increase
The first settlement in Greenwood County was made in the spring of 1856 by colonists from Mississippi, who came with the avowed intention of helping to make Kansas an ally of the Southern slave-holding States. These Pro-slavery people drifted away to more congenial soil on the breaking out of the war of the rebellion or very shortly thereafter, and to-day but one of the number remains, and he has long since changed his views. A few anti-slavery men were sprinkled about the county in the fall of 1856, but real settlement did not take place in any considerable numbers until the following year.
This spring saw a party of new comers in Lane and Madison Townships, among whom were D. Vining, Austin and Fred Norton, Anderson Hill, Wesley Pearsons, Mark Patty, Myrock Huntley, E. R. Holderman, William Martindale, E. G. Duke, James and W. F. Osborn, Isaac Sharp and David Smyth. In July of this year came Josiah Kinnaman, Archibald Johnston, Peter Ricker, Adam Glaze, John Baker, Wayne Sumner and William Kinnaman.
In 1858 and the two following years was a rapid growth in settlement, although money was a well-nigh unknown quantity, and the settlers saw their advance in worldly affairs chiefly in the improvement of their lands and buildings. In this condition they had to meet the disastrous drought of 1860. It was a bitter pill, but only such as ever and anon falls to the lot of the pioneer who pushes far beyond the beaten path and calmly faces the dipping of the scale which shall insure him utter defeat or a grand success. Supplies could only be brought from Atchison, a distance of 160 miles, through bitter storms, and with teams enfeebled by scanty rations; and when received, enough must be sold to pay the freighters.
Under this grinding pressure, many were forced to forsake all they had obtained by such severe exertions and return to older places; but still many held on with a death grip and weathered through. And they had their reward in the copious harvest which the fertile soil brought forth in 1861. Bright prospects did not, however, long continue. The cloud which far beyond their horizon had been muttering in the South, broke forth in lightning flashes, which awoke the whole country to the prologue of the great drama that for long years made the United States the cynosure of the world.
The flash of the lightning made a gorgeous pageant to those who scanned it from a distance, but it seared the near spectator. Greenwood County was the scene of violence from all quarters. Divided against itself in the sentiments of its settlers, its villages sacked and burned, exposed to the attacks of hostile Indians and those who sought in the troubled times an excuse for indiscriminate pillage, Greenwood might well be pitied. During 1861, a rough fort was built at Eureka, and named in honor of Col. James Montgomery, of the Tenth Infantry. It was built by the home guard, under Capt. L. Bemis, and was occupied by them during their entire term of service.
At the close of the war, emigration set in with great rapidity. A new Town Site Company was organized at Eureka, and settlement was very rapid all over the county.
Upon the formation of Greenwood County, a part of it was included in the reservation of the Osage Indians. This reservation was a strip twenty by seventy miles and took in parts of Elk, Wilson and Butler Counties as well as Greenwood. In the latter, it cut a strip ten miles in width from the southern part of the county, the line running about four miles south of Eureka City. These lands were by the treaty of 1870 placed in trust with the United States to be disposed of for the Indians who had removed to the Indian Territory. This was done by placing it for preemption and homesteading at the regular Government price of $1.25 per acre. Many of the best farms in the county are located in this tract as is also the thriving town of Gould or Severy.
At a very early day, itenerant (sic) Methodist preachers occasionally traversed the indefinite circuit known as Southwestern Kansas. In 1860, the first regular circuit embracing this county was cut off and named the Eureka Circuit. It embraced Greenwood, Butler, Woodson and Wilson Counties, and was supplied by Rev. T. B. Woodard who succeeded in gathering a membership of twenty during the year. In 1861, the name of the circuit was changed to Belmont and W. H. Travis, by whom the membership was increased to forty, appointed. W. H. Fisher was appointed in 1862, but served only part of the year and made no report. Rev. C. Meadows served during 1863 and resided at Belmont, then quite a town, but never rebuilt since its burning by the rebels during the war. J. Paine served in 1864. In 1865, Belmont circuit was again divided and Eureka Circuit consisted of Greenwood County and the counties southwest of it. In this year and until 1868, Rev. John Stansbury was preacher in charge. This man deserves more than a passing notice.
A true enthusiast in the cause of Methodism, he was a product of frontier life -- a man of the time. Owning a farm on Owl Creek in Woodson County, he pinched from it in the rare intervals, between his pastoral trips, a scanty subsistence. Mounted on his pony, he went from station to station, sleeping indifferently in the scattered houses along the way or upon the naked prairie, and preaching wherever he found opportunity. He removed in 1870 to Cowley County, where a year later he was crushed to death by a falling log.
In 1868, Greenwood County was made a separate circuit and placed in charge of Rev. J. E. Cohenour, who by zealous work increased the church membership from 82 to 160. In 1869, Rev. Mr. Cohenour was retained and a parsonage built at Eureka at a cost of $300. In 1870, the county was divided into three circuits and Rev. S. A. Green appointed to Eureka. From this time the history of the circuit is shown in the history of individual churches.
The first capital offense committed in Greenwood County took place in April, 1865. The victims were William and Jacob Bledsoe, who lived in the southeast part of the county and were by some suspected of horse thieving. Between these men and three others, there existed a bitter animosity, growing out of some petty "spites" inflicted. Under these circumstances, any pretext was sufficient and the Bledsoes were arrested. One dark night they were removed from one impromptu guard house to another, but en route were assassinated. T
he story of their guards, John Taylor, William Brown and Thomas Craig was that an attack was made by Indians who had suffered the loss of ponies, and the prisoners dispatched. The authorities did not, however, take this view of the case and after a weary length of time Brown was convicted and Craig acquitted (sic), the decision being reached in May, 1878. Taylor was never apprehended, and is reported to be dead.
The Murder of Robert Clark.--This was one of the most atrocious crimes ever committed in Southern Kansas. G. W. Petty was a bushwhacker of the war, although connected with neither side and working for his individual profit only. On the conclusion of open war, he is reputed to have still continued a lawless life. Some time prior to 1866, he had lost his wife, for whom he seemed to feel a great affection, and upon whose grave he placed a costly monument. This monument was discovered in May, 1866, so brutally defaced as to be totally ruined. Petty suspected Clark and determined upon his death. The same month, as Clark was sitting with his wife and children in his cabin on the Verdigris, a man rode up to the door and asked the direction of Brazos.
This, Clark, still sitting in his chair but bending out of the door, was giving, when another man riding past the window on the opposite side of the house shot Clark, who fell to the floor, but staggered up again and tried to reach his gun. As he fell a second time three men rode up to the window where they remained motionless until Clark was dead. When they appeared, Mrs. Clark recognized Petty and cried out: "For God's sake, Wash Petty, don't kill me and my children, you have killed my husband!" No answer was given, and, seeing Clark dead, the men rode off. An indictment was found against Petty in 1870, and he was arrested and after many delays in May, 1879, found guilty. He is now in the State Penitentiary.
Murder of Crookham.--On October, 1874, Alexander Harman shot O. C. Crookham as he was gathering corn in his field. The circumstances which led to the shooting were, briefly, certain mortgages held by Crookham and the settlement of a claim of Harman for some prairie-breaking. Harman, who appears to have been hardly sane, walked coolly up to Crookham and placing a pistol to his neck discharged it, the ball making a ragged hole. Crookham died two days later, and Harman, after due process, was found guilty and taken to the penitentiary. Here his conduct was so violent as to lead to his removal to the Asylum where he now is.
County Organization and Buildings
The organization of the county was effected in March 14, 1862, at a meeting of the County Commissioners, held at Janesville, the temporary seat of justice. At this meeting, the county was divided into townships, as follows: Lane, from the northeast corner of the county west six miles; thence south eighteen; thence east six miles, and north to point of beginning. Pleasant Grove began at the northeast corner of Section 6, Town 25, Range 13, ran west six miles; thence south ten miles; thence east six miles on the south boundary of the county; thence north to initial point. Janesville began at the northeast corner of Section 3, Town 23, Range 14, and ran west sixteen miles; thence south fourteen miles; thence east sixteen miles; thence north to place of beginning. Eureka began at the northeast corner of Section 15, Town 25, Range 12; ran west sixteen miles; thence south eight miles; thence east sixteen miles, and thence to initial point. The board, after defining the township boundaries, proceeded to appoint county officers. I. M. Todd was made Probate Judge; W. M. Hill, County Clerk; E. Tucker, Register of Deeds; James Steel, Sheriff; William Martindale, County Treasurer. Elections were ordered in the different townships for March 24, 1862. On April 12, there was a second meeting of the County Commissioners, and the bonds of the county officers being approved, they qualified for office. There seems to have been some change in the interim, as C. Cameron became Register of Deeds instead of E. Tucker, who refused the proffered honor, and D. Nichols was made Sheriff instead of James Steel. The County Commissioners at this time were M. E. Stratton, F. Osborn and R. Gasaway.
After the appointment of county officers, the first regular election was held in November, 1862. Those who have held official positions since that date are given below, with the date of their election. County Clerks, H. Norton, 1862; D. T. Nichols, 1863; H. Norton, 1865; J. L. Benson, 1867; L. N. Fancher, 1869; W. S. Reece, 1875; F. J. Cochrane, 1877; J. W. Kenner, 1879. Registers of Deeds, P. Somers, 1862; D. Roach, 1863; James Willis, 1865; J. Gilmore, 1867; I. R. Phenis, 1868; Purlin Baird, 1869; M. J. Verner, 1871; J. W. Seidle, 1873; J. D. Shaw, 1875; J. S. Eastwood. County Treasurers, W. E. Smith, 1862; E. Smith, 1863; W. W. Waybright, 1865; A. F. Nicholas, 1860; W. Smethers, 1873; W. H. Daum, 1875; J. C. Nye, 1879. Probate Judges, J. Hays, 1862; J. Keyes, 1864; J. Kenner, 1866; G. H. Lillie, 1876 (resigned after re-election, and I. R. Phenis appointed in 1880). Clerks of the District Court, W. Martindale, 1862; William Smethers, 1867; W. Denison, 1868; S. H. Martin, 1872; J. S. Stewart, 1876. Sheriffs, W. H. Maloney, 1862, J. E. Grant, 1863; William Hill, 1864; R. R. Turner, 1865; R. Johnson, 1867; G. H. Branson, 1869; J. L. Baker, 1871; J. L. Parker, 1873; W. O. Claycomb, 1875; M. J. Verner, 1879. Superintendents of Public Instruction, E. Tucker, 1862; F. G. Allace, 1866; W. E. J. Nixon, 1868; L. H. Platt, 1870; G. H. Martz, 1872; H. T. Johns, 1874; J. F. Troxell, 1876; G. H. Martz, 1878. In all cases, the name given last in the list of officers is that of the present incumbent.
On June 3, 1871, the proposition to vote $30,000 in bonds of the county, for the purpose of constructing a suitable court house at Eureka, was submitted to the people of the county. The vote on this proposition was found to be 474 for to 371 against, and work was at once begun. As the building progressed, however, it became apparent that a further sum would be needed to complete it in fitting shape, and the issuance of fresh bonds became necessary. These, to the amount of $15,000, were secured at the November election of 1872, the vote standing 734 for to 291 against. At a still later period, $5,000 more was required, and this sum was appropriated from the county funds. This swelled the total cost to $50,000, an apparently large sum for so new a county, yet no one who looks upon the noble edifice can fail to see that the county has value received for its outlay.
The building is of limestone, quarried about a mile and one-half west of the town, with trimmings of a similar stone, found in the Flint Hills, on the western border of the county. The county jail is built at the back and forms part of the structure. On the first floor are the offices of the County Clerk, Treasurer, Probate Judge, Superintendent of Public Instruction and County Attorney, the Jailer's rooms, and three unoccupied offices. The second floor is occupied by the County Surveyor, Register of Deeds, Clerk of the District Court and Sheriff, the County Court room with its adjoining consulting rooms and the jail. On the third floor are four jury rooms. The jail on the second floor is fitted up in a style that must be discouraging to prisoners, as it is lined throughout with steel. The architect of this building was J. G. Haskell, of Lawrence, and the builder, John Hammond, of Emporia.
Like most of the counties containing rich agricultural lands and the possibilities of numerous thrifty towns, Greenwood has been the recipient of overtures from many railway companies, either already operating lines or projecting them. The first of these was from a company projecting a line from Ottawa through some part of Greenwood County, and asking for $200,000 of the bonds of the count in exchange for an equal amount of stock of the railway county. This proposition was acceded to by a vote of 485 to 250, but the road was never constructed. The next proposals came from the Fort Scott, Humboldt & Western Railway, which was to run from Fort Scott to Humboldt, and thence west through this county. Bonds to the amount of $200,000 were asked, and at an election held December 19, 1871, they were voted by a poll of 597 to 446.
The third election looking to the acquisition of railway facilities was held June 17, 1877, to get the "sense of the county" on the proposition of the St. Louis & Kansas Central Railway offering to build a road through the county in consideration of the subscription of $4,000 in county bonds, running twenty-five years, for each mile of completed track. This was decided adversely, by a vote of 403 to 530, and the road was never begun. On April 24, 1877, it was decided, by a vote of 831 to 682, to accept the offer of the Kansas City, Emporia & Southern Railway Company. This provided for the issuance of $4,000 of the bonds of the county per mile of track built; the funding of the bonds at the expiration of thirty years, and the privilege of taking them up at any time after five years on giving twelve months' notice of intention to do so. It was also provided that their cash value in such a case should be 85 per cent of their face. This road was build through the county in 1879, and now has its terminus in Howard, Elk County. The proposition of the Kansas City, Burlington & Southwestern Railway and Telegraph Line was lost December 30, 1878, by a vote of 1,134 to 523.
On June 17, 1879, the question of giving bonds to the St. Louis, Wichita & Western Railway was voted upon in Otter, Salt Springs and Twin Grove Townships. The returns of Otter were thrown out by the Board of Canvassers, and those of Salt Springs and Twin Grove shown to give a vote of 248 for and 58 against the proposition. Upon the location of the road, it was not thought expedient to follow the proposed line, and the Salt Springs bonds were invalidated, leaving the bonds of Twin Grove, $15,000, the only ones outstanding. The road was built in 1879 and 1880, and now runs through to Wichita, under the name of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway.
A precinct election of November 3, 1879, gave the bonds of Pleasant Grove, Eureka, Spring Creek and Walnut Creek precincts to the Kansas & Arizona Railway by a vote of 82 to 29, but the road remains like so many others, a paper concern. Eureka Township and the city gave on September 30, 1881, $48,000 in bonds to the St. Louis, Fort Scott & Wichita Railway, the bonds being divided into $40,000 township and $8,000 city. These bonds bear 7 per cent interest, payable annually. The road reached Eureka in June, 1882, and is now being constructed westward.
The educational history of the county is one of constantly increasing facilities and students to profit by them. The following table, giving the principal statistics of the last three years, is, perhaps, as good a means of showing the scholastic status of the county as any that could be found:
1879, 1880, 1882
----- ----- -----
Number of school districts 80, 82, 90
Census of school population (5 to 21 yrs) 3,424, 3,804, 4,219
Number of pupils enrolled 2,571, 2,729, 2,987
Average daily attendance 1,488, 1,677, 1,775
Number of teachers required 84, 81, 97
Schoolhouses built during the year 4, 5, 8
Value of all school property $61,700.00, $64,021.00, $77,000.00
Total school expenditures 21,275.64, 24,744.18, 42,490.82
The manufacturing concerns in the county are seven in number, and consist of the steam grist mill of Smith & Lawther, more particularly described under Eureka; the water-power grist mill of John Denison, on Fall River, about a mile east of Eureka, having a capital of $10,000; the flouring mills of William Smith, at Twin Falls, capital $3,000; Harlan & Wilson, at Madison, Capital $2,200, and J. D. Allen, at Fall River, capital $6,000. There is also a small saw mill at Virgil, owned by Allen & Miller, and having a capital of $416.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,985 km² (1,153 mi²), of which 2,952 km² (1,140 mi²) is land and 33 km² (13 mi²), or 1.12%, is water.
Greenwood County's population was estimated to be 7,067 in the year 2006, a decrease of 601, or -7.8%, over the previous six years.
As of the U.S. Census in 2000, there were 7,673 people, 3,234 households, and 2,153 families residing in the county. The population density was 3/km² (7/mi²). There were 4,273 housing units at an average density of 1/km² (4/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.53% White, 0.83% Native American, 0.14% Black or African American, 0.10% Asian, 0.81% from other races, and 1.58% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.72% of the population.
There were 3,234 households out of which 27.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.50% were married couples living together, 6.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.40% were non-families. 30.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.86.
In the county the population was spread out with 23.70% under the age of 18, 6.50% from 18 to 24, 23.20% from 25 to 44, 23.70% from 45 to 64, and 22.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 95.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $30,169, and the median income for a family was $38,140. Males had a median income of $27,021 versus $19,356 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,976. About 8.20% of families and 12.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.20% of those under age 18 and 10.10% of those age 65 or over.
Cities and towns
Name and population (2004 estimate):
Eureka, 2,821 (county seat)
Fall River, 156