The Early History of Jefferson County
by William G. Cutler (1883)
Jefferson County is situated in the eastern part of the State, and is in extent twenty-six miles north and south, and twenty-two miles east and west. It is bounded on the north by Atchison County, on the east by Leavenworth, on the south by Douglas and Shawnee, and on the west by Shawnee and Jackson. Owing to the fact that the county was formed before the surveys were made, its boundaries are not on range and town lines; but the boundary lines are as follows: Commencing at the northwest corner of Leavenworth County; thence south on the west line of that county, to the north line of Town 1, south; thence west on that line to the point where it intersects the main channel of the Kansas River; thence up the center of the main channel of the river, to the intersection with the line between the first and second tiers of sections in Range 16, east; thence north on that section line, to the northwest corner of Section 25, of Township 7 south, of Range 16 east; thence east on that section line to the place of beginning.
The county is well watered by numerous streams, which intersect every township. The principal of these are the Kansas River, which forms a portion of the southern boundary; and the Delaware River which flows through the western half of the county, for north to south, emptying into the Kansas River near the town of Perry. The principal tributaries of the Kansas River are as follows; Muddy Creek, Prairie and Fish creeks, Stonehouse Creek, Mud Creek, Wild House and nine Mile creeks, and Buck Creek.
Next in importance to the Kansas River is the Delaware, which flows through the county with a considerable volume of water, and with a quite rapid current, thus affording excellent waterpower, at a distance varying from two to five miles apart. Its principal tributaries on the west side, beginning at the north are Jeff Creek, Cedar Creek, Peters Creek Duck Creek and Rock Creek. Tributary to the Delaware the east side, are Coal, Walnut, Little Brush, Little Rock, Little Slough, Big Slough, Wild Horse and Newell creeks. Besides these are Crooked, Little Walnut, and Fall creeks, with a number of small ones, tributary to those named, which serve a good purpose for stock watering purposes. Throughout the county, springs are quite numerous. Good well water is found in abundance at a depth of from twenty to forty feet.
The general surface of the country is gently undulating, although in some places it is too rough for cultivation. Along the streams are level and gentle valleys, which vary from a few rods to two miles and more in width. From the bottoms to the uplands, the surface of the land is much diversified, ascending to steep bluffs in many places, and in others rising gradually. The uplands themselves consist of high and gently rolling prairie. Intersected, as it is, by numerous streams and valleys, Jefferson County is peculiarly well adapted to all kinds of agricultural and manufacturing industries, and is unrivaled in beauty by any other county in the State. the surface is about 18 per cent bottom land, 82 per cent upland, 10 per cent forest, and 90 per cent prairie. The average width of bottom lands is nearly one mile.
The rougher parts of the county are along the Delaware, in Osawkie, Fairview and Kentucky townships, and in the northern part of Rural and Sarcoxie townships. Although in the above-named localities there is considerable rough land, most of it is covered with timber; the remainder being good tillable land, well adapted to pasturage.
The southern half of the county, east of the Delaware River, is about 18 per cent timber, and this is continually increasing with the rapid growth of young timber. The principal varieties are oak, hickory, ash, walnut, hackberry, elm, maple, and cottonwood. On the prairies the farms are well ornamented with groves of shade trees, but aside from this, tree planting has not been carried on to any great extent.
The soil is a rich black loam, and the products embrace all varieties of grain and vegetables common to the same latitude in other States, the yield being generally very great.
The county is well adapted to fruit growing, and this industry is already an important one among its resources. Large and productive orchards of apples, peaches, pears, plums, etc., are found in every locality, while almost every farmer raises an abundant supply of small fruits.
Good limestone, suitable for building purposes, is found, in abundance in every township of the county. Besides this, an excellent quality of sandstone is found in abundance in several localities. The greater part of the county is supposed to be underlaid by strata of coal, but as yet it has been developed only to a small extent. Three beds have been discovered in several localities, at a depth of from five to twenty feet. These beds are only of a few inches in thickness, and the quality is hardly medium. The principal localities where it is found, are in Townships 8 and 9, of Ranges 17, 18 and 19 east. It is used to a limited extent for local and domestic purposes.
The farms of the county are well fenced, more than one-third of the fence being hedge, which makes rapid and substantial growth. The other kinds of material in general use for fencing, are stone, rails, boards and wire. Unlike some counties of the State, there is no herd law, therefore each farmer has to protect his own crops, and attention is given to securing durable fence. This also tends to diversify farming and stock-growing interests.
There are no large manufactories in the county. There are a number of flouring mills, cheese factories, etc., on the various streams. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad enters the county from the north at Nortonville, thence extends in a southwesterly direction, crossing the Delaware River at Valley Falls, and leaves the county in the southwestern part of Rock Creek Township. The stations are Nortonville, Nichols, Valley Falls, Rock Creek and Meriden.
The Kansas Central (narrow gauge) Railroad starts at Leavenworth, enters Jefferson County from the east, at a point a little less than five miles from its northern boundary, extends west to Winchester and from that place to Valley Falls, thence northwest, up the east side of the Delaware, crossing the northern boundary of the county about four miles from the northwest corner. The stations are Winchester, Boyle, Valley Falls and Half Mound.
The Kansas Pacific Railroad traverses the southern part of the country, up the north side of the Kansas River, entering the country at the southeast corner of Rural Township. The stations are Buck Creek, Rural, Perry, Medina, Newman and Grantville.
The Leavenworth, Topeka & Southwestern Railroad starts from Leavenworth, enters Jefferson County on the eastern boundary of Union Township, and extends west to Oskaloosa; thence to Osawkie, where it crosses the Delaware River; thence extends southwest, forming a junction with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad at Meriden. Besides the above named stations there is one named McLouth, in Union Township.
One of the first visits of white man to what is now Jefferson County, was that of Prof. Say and his party, who accompanied the United Sates Government Exploring Expedition, under Major Long, in 1819. Leaving the expedition to pursue its way up the Missouri River, Prof. Say and his party proceeded nearly as far west as Manhattan, on the Kansas River, from which point they took a direct course, as nearly as possible to Cow Island, in the Missouri River, just below Atchison, where they met the main party. On this route they entered the county at the southwest corner of Delaware Township, and proceeded to the falls of the Delaware, then called Grasshopper River, where they camped on the night of August 27, 1849, and on the following day crossed over near where Piazzek's mills now stand, and, traveling in the same general direction, crossed the northern boundary of what is now Jefferson County, near the line of Range 20.
The first settlement in what is now Jefferson County, as well as the first in the State of Kansas, was that of Daniel Morgan Boone, son of Daniel Boone, the celebrated Kentucky pioneer. It is well known that the elder Daniel Boone having lost his large landed estates in Kentucky through defective titles and the chicanery of lawyers, in the year 1796, renounced his allegiance to the United States Government and moved to Upper Louisiana, west of the Mississippi, then a wild region, but in what is now the State of Missouri. Three years afterwards he was appointed Commander of the Femme Osage District, by Governor DeLassus, and was awarded two thousand acres of land in what is now St. Charles County in that State.
He retained that position till the purchase of the Territory by the United States, when he lost all his property as well as his office. After that time he became tired of the settlements and often spent many months on hunting excursions, going sometimes several hundred miles into the wilderness. Between the years 1805 and 1815, he often spent months in hunting along the Kaw or Kansas River, for a distance of one hundred miles and more from its mouth, a portion of this time being spend in the southern part of the present Jefferson County. Returning from his hunts he gave glowing accounts of the country, to his family.
Of the five sons of the Kentucky pioneer, Daniel M., the third and Nathan, the youngest, often made trips to the Kaw River Valley. Indeed it was Daniel M. who first induced his father to leave Kentucky for the far West. He was born about the year 1770, and in 1795 left his home on the Bib Miami River near Cincinnati, on a pony, to explore the region west of the Mississippi. After traveling across a wild region for about a month, he reached St. Louis. Remaining there some three months he started, with two Frenchmen, on a hunting and trapping expedition, and went as far west as where Kansas City now stands. The two sons settled with their father in Missouri on their removal. In 1807, they, with three other men, left that place and removed to Howard County, MO, where they engaged in the manufacture of salt at the place now known as Boone's Licks.
On June 3, 1825, the United States Government made a treaty with the Kaw Indians, by which, among other provisions, it was agreed that the government should furnish the Indians with three hundred head of cattle, three hundred hots, five hundred fowls, three yoke of oxen, two carts, and such farming tools as the superintendent should deem necessary, and that he should employ such persons to aid and instruct the Indians in their farming pursuits as he should consider necessary. The treaty was signed by General Clarke on the part of the United States' Government, and by twelve Kaw chiefs, representing the Indians. Among them were White Plume, Great Valor, Little White Bear, Real Eagle and Great Doctor.
In accordance with the treaty, Maj. Daniel Morgan Boone was selected to instruct the Indians in the principles of agriculture. His title was "Farmer for the Kansas Indians." He was appointed in the spring of 1827, and at once removed with his family to the Kaw or Kansas Valley, erected buildings, and entered upon his duties. The point where he located was on the north bank of the Kaw River, in the extreme southern part of what is now Jefferson County, and about two and one-half miles distant from Williamstown, on the line of the Kansas Pacific Railroad.
On August 22, 1828, a son was born to Daniel M. and Mrs. Sarah E. Boone. This was undoubtedly the first white child born, not only in Jefferson County, but the first in the State of Kansas. The facts relating to the Boone settlement are obtained from various sources, but more particularly from a carefully prepared article by W. W. Cone. The following letter from Daniel Boone, a son of Daniel M. Boone, to Mr. Cone, will throw some light on the first settlement, and first birth in Kansas:
WESTPORT, MO., February 8, 1879
W. W. CONE:
Dear Sir - My brother, Napoleon Boone, son of Maj. Daniel Morgan Boone, and direct grandson of the old Kentucky pioneer, was the first while child born in the Territory of Kansas. At least such is the history of our family. My father was appointed "Farmer" for the Kaw Indians, early in the year 1827, he having moved to where Kansas City now stands early in March of that year. On his appointment he moved with his family into a house he built, seven miles up the Kaw River, from where Lawrence was afterwards built, on the north bank. Here my brother, Napoleon, was born August 22, 1828. He was never married and died single in California, May 20, 1850. Father returned to Jackson County, Mo., four years afterwards, where he died in 1840. When my father moved into Kansas, his was the only white family in the Territory. Some white traders were there, but without their families; and there never was any dispute before that I ever heard of, regarding the fact that Napoleon Boone was the first white child born in Kansas. I am the oldest surviving member of my father's family.
To more fully corroborate the above facts and to forever settle the question as to the first real settler in Kansas, who cultivated its lands, and resided there with his family, we gave extracts from a letter from John C. McCoy to Mr. Cone, which was published by him John C. McCoy with his brother, Rice, made all the original surveys of the Territory for the location of the emigrant and other tribes of Indians, except a small survey made by Maj. Andrew Langham, from 1826 to 1828. The McCoys made there surveys from the year 1829 to 1836, and passed the Kaw agency in 1830. Below is an extract from the letter to Mr. Cone:
"Daniel Boone was 'Government Farmer" for the Kaws, appointed in 1827, and was at the agency when we passed there in 1830. He was a good man, much given to wandering around in search of mines. He continued to live there five or six years, until the agency was abandoned, and then moved down to a tract of land he owned, south of Westport, MO., where he afterward died."
Daniel Boone, in a letter to W. W. Cone, says:
"The agency was located nearly on a line between the Kaw half breed reserve and the Delaware reserve lands, mainly, however, on the Delaware lands. We lived one-half mile east."
The original field notes of the survey of 1859, the first sectional survey of this part of the Territory, mentions an old well on Section 4, Township 12, Range 19,on the north side of the river. This well was situated just east of the prairie farm of Thomas. R. Bayne, who owns Survey No. 23. Kaw half breed lands, which joins the original Delaware reserve on the west. Mr. Bayne located on his farm in 1854. He lived in Kansas City for the two years previous, was acquainted with the Boone family, and knew something of their former residence in Kansas. The remains of quite a village are yet to be seen near Mr. Bayne's farm. There are to be seen ruins of an old blacksmith shop. When Mr. Bayne first ploughed his farm he found the charred remains of a rail fence that had enclosed over one hundred acres of land.
The well was located nearly in the center of the village, and was walled with hard limestone. The stone was cut smoothly and so as to make a perfect circle, and was a very fine piece of masonry. At the time of the settlement of Mr. Bayne, the well only furnished water when the river was very high, indicating that the channel of the river is now deeper than when the well was dug.
The remains of the old village are about two and one-half miles southeast of Williamstown. Portions of two old chimneys are yet to be seen on the Kaw reserve land. Just east of the dividing line and on the Delaware reserve lands are parts of about a dozen chimneys. In 1854, there were remains of fully twenty. The farm on which most of them are to be seen belongs to W. T. Blacker, who purchased it in 1864. As the well contained no water he had it filled up. At the point opposite the old village, the channel of the river is about 200 hundred (sic) years further north than it was in 1854. In order to drain the low land, and to divide the two farms Bayne and Blacker cut a ditch on the line between the two old Indian reserves.
This has washed out until it is several feet wide and more than twenty feet deep. Quite a large quantity of cinders and charcoal are yet to be seen just below the surface on each side of this drain. During the first years of his settlement, Mr. Bayne used to plow out scraps of iron, flint locks, gun-barrels, and also found an anvil in the locality which indicates that this was the site of the old blacksmith shop of this village which was without doubt the first one in the State of Kansas. This blacksmith shop was owned and carried on by Gabe Fillibert, who was a brother to the wife of the younger Daniel Boone.
After the settlement, beginning in 1854, there was for a long time a landmark in existence, about fifty yards north of the present depot at Williamstown, and known as the stone chimney. It was situated on the southwest quarter of Section 29, Town 11, Range 19. In the year 1854, a house built of stone was standing with the walls in good condition, but the roof and floors had been burned. The house was about eighteen by thirty-four feet in size and two stories high. It was on the bank of the creek now known as the Stonehouse Creek, which was so named from this old stone building. There was a well near it walled up in a substantial manner with finely cut stone.
There were evidences of other cabins having existed near it. About one mile further up the creek, there had been quite a large farm opened up, the timber cleared off, and the land cultivated. The old field was thoroughly sodded with blue grass. Just south of the stone house there had been a cultivated field of more than sixty acres. When the grass was short, the bottom rails of a fence could be plainly seen, though in many places they were very much burned. All that now remains to mark the site of the stone house is a heap of stones, many of them having been used by the settlers for building purposes.
During and after the time of the residence of the Boone family, there were quite a large number of white hunters and traders, who made the Kaw valley a temporary home, and a few of whom settled with, and married among, the Kaw Indians.
In the year 1851, a few families of Mormons, from their settlement in Jackson County, Mo., and en route for Salt Lake, stopped at the place now known as Thompsonville, on the Delaware River, and remained nearly two years. It is evident they had conceived the idea of forming a permanent settlement here, but finding it impossible to gain possession of the lands, which belonged to the Indians, this plan was abandoned. They had about fifteen acres of land under cultivation, and had built three log cabins on the place afterward owned by Thomas Kirby, and sold by him to J. C. Thompson and Nelson M. Brown. A short distance west of this was a five-acre field under cultivation and a log cabin. During their stay three women died of cholera and were buried just south of the Kirby farm, in the edge of the timber, and tombstones giving their names, and of the native sandstone rock, were erected.
This cemetery is now in a hog lot, and the stones have been displaced, and worn, but the names, Mrs. ----- Archer, and Mrs. -----Platt, are to be read, upon careful examination. The cabins used by the Mormons were afterward torn down, and the material used for other purposed, by Thomas Kirby.
About the time that Kansas was admitted as a Territory, in 1854, Solomon Everett, a half-breed Kaw Indian, who had been with Gen. Fremont, on his Rocky Mountain expedition, conceived the idea of building a sawmill on Grasshopper River. He chose the site now occupied by Thompson's Mills, and after some time the mill was completed. The building was torn down in the year 1850, by Thomas Kirby, who then owned the place. Everett's dam was built of logs, and was in nearly the same place that is now occupied by Thompson's stone dam.
The Military and Freight Road.--Previous to the permanent settlement of the county, in 1854, a military and freight road was opened from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Riley. It extended across Jefferson County, entering the county from the east as a point not far from the northeast corner, extending southwest to Winchester; thence nearly west to Hickory Point, which was so named from a grove of hickory trees that extended up a ravine at that place; thence southwest to Osawkie, where it crossed the Grasshopper--now Delaware-- River; thence west and southwest to Mount Florence, about one and one-half miles southwest of the present town of Meriden; from which point it crossed the western boundary of the county.
On May 30,1854, Kansas was admitted as a Territory, and the rush of settlement commended at once. Treaties had been made with the Delaware Indians, to whom the lands which now comprise Jefferson County then belonged; but the lands were not yet opened to settlement nor surveys made. No attention, however, was paid to this fact, and during the year a large number of persons selected claims within the limits of the present county, though but comparatively few made an actual settlement until the following year.
The greater number of the settlers of that year located on or near the freight road, with a few along the valley of the Kansas River, and some other parts of the county. The principal settlement was at the crossing of the Grasshopper, at Osawkie, where the brothers, Wm. F. and George M. Dyer, located and started a trading ranche (sic), where they did a good business with the travelers over the Government road. In February of 1854, Henry Zen located at the falls of the Grashopper (sic) River, where Valley Falls now stands, built a cabin and made some improvements.
Henry Chubb located at Mount Florence, about one mile west of the present town of Meriden, the same year. Wm. R. Wade, Sidney Steward, and Aaron Cook, located near there along Rock Creek, and Grasshopper River. R. P. Beeler, Jeff Riddle, and J. T. Wilson, located in the southwestern part of the county, on Kansas River. John Scaggs settled on the Grasshopper, in what is now Kentucky Township. Thomas R. and Alexander Bayne located along the Kansas, near the present Williamstown. In June Charles Hardt settled at Hickory Point, on the Government road, and started a trading point.
The same year Simeon and Isaac Hull, Charles Hedrick, John Hart, J. B. Ross, and several others, settled near where Wincester now is. On December 25, Robert Riddle, James Frazier, A. J. Whitney and T. J. and H. B. Jolley, located at Grashopper (sic) Falls. The above-named parties are by no means the only settlers of that year, but they were among the first in their respective localities. Osawkie and Hickory Point were the first settlements of any note in the county.
The lands comprising the Delaware purchase included the greater part of the county, but excepted a large tract held by the Delaware Indians, as a diminished reserve, the northern boundary of which was a little south of the north line of Town 10; and the western boundary a little more than one mile west of the line between Ranges 17 and 18. The Kaw half-breed lands also comprised sixteen tracts of 648 acres each, and bordered the Kansas River.
All of the Delaware purchase east of the line between Ranges 18 and 19, was to be sold at public sale, to the highest bidder, at Leavenworth, in November, 1856. The remainder of these lands west of the above line, were to be sold at Osawkie, in July 1857. Previous to the land sales, the settlers had no right whatever to the land which they occupied, except a "squatter's right," which was simply a right by possession, and with an understanding that each settler should be allowed to bid in the land he claimed, at its appraised value, on the day of sale.
The squatters' right proved a fruitful source of many serious troubles. There was much contention as to the ownership of claims, and a question as to which constituted a settlement. At first a habitation was required, but soon a mere foundation was regarded as sufficient to hold a claim. This was subject to many abuses, for it was not long until many tracts of land were literally covered with "foundations," which in a majority of cases were formed of four twigs laid in form of a square, and by men who came in from other States only to vote on election days, or intending to secure claims for future speculation.
After the arrival of the first Governor of the Territory, A. H. Reeder, in October, 1854, he divided the Territory into elective districts, and appointed the 29th day of the following November, for the purpose of electing a delegate to Congress. What is now Jefferson County was in the Thirteenth District, and D. M. Railey, were appointed judges of election. The polling place was at the house of George M. Dyer. Seventy-one votes were cast, of which sixty-nine were for J. W. Whitfield, the Pro-slavery candidate. A great deal of bitterness existed between the Pro-slavery and Free-state men, and the latter were driven from the polls by Missourians, who had come to Osawkie for the purpose of controlling the election.
In February, 1855, Governor Reeder appointed J. Kukendal, Justice of the Peace for the Thirteen District, and James Grey, Constable. H. B. Jolley, of Grasshopper Falls, was appointed Census Enumerator for the Thirteenth and Fifteenth districts.
The next election took place on March 30, 1855, and was for the purpose of electing members to the first Territorial Legislature. The Thirteenth District was allowed one representative, and what now comprises Jefferson and Leavenworth counties was allowed one member of the Territorial Council. The residence of Charles Hardt, at Hickory Point, was designated as the voting place, and H. B. Corey, James Atkinson, and J. B. Ross, were appointed judges of election.
The day previous to the election, a large number of Pro-slavery men came to Hickory Point, camped in the vicinity, and laid many foundations of twigs on claims selected by them. On the morning of the election, they presented themselves at the polls and demanded the right to vote. This was resented by the Election Board, when a row ensued, and the Board was driven away, rather refused to serve when they found it impossible to prevent illegal voting. A new Board was then chosen, which was composed of N. B. Hopewell, W. M. Gardiner, and --- --- Jones.
When Free-state men arrived, they found the polls surrounded by armed and demonstrative non-residents, and seeing the folly of trying to secure a fair ballot, the greater number of them left in disgust, without trying to vote. The census of the month previous showed that the district contained ninety-six voters, but at this election 240 votes were cast. Of candidates for the Council, R. R. Rees (Pro slavery) received 234, and A. J. Whitney (Free-state) six votes. For Representative, Dr. W. H. Tebbs received 237 votes, and Charles Hardt three votes.
During the summer of 1854, the actual settlers made some improvements, built cabins and fences, and planted a small acreage of crops. There were, however, but little crops of any kind raised, owing to the wild state of the soil and the severe drought of that year.
When the settlement of the county began, the first habitations were generally cabins, built of round logs just cut down, the crevices being chinked with blocks of wood and stone, daubed with mud, and the roof constructed either of dirt or of clapboards, while these cabins generally had no floors. There were no windows, and the doors were low and wide. Fireplaces were constructed of logs, plastered with mud, while the chimneys were built of wood. Next, as the county continued to improve, there was a marked difference in the structure of the cabins. They were then built of hewn logs, the cracks filled with lime, the roofs shingled, the walls covered with clapboards, both inside and out, and they were provided with doors and windows. The latter were about the best buildings in quality during the earlier years of settlement, but previous to 1860, there were many very find buildings of stone and native lumber.
During the year 1855, there was a large immigration to the county. Much of it was temporary in its character, but all the better quality of land had been selected and settled on by the squatters, many of whom fenced and cultivated small tracts of land, and raise very good crops.
In the summer of 1854, Congress established mail routes across the county. One was along the old military freight road, from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Riley, and the other was from Fort Leavenworth to the Big Blue by Grasshopper Falls.
The first postoffice was Osawkie, which was established March 15, 1855, with George M. Dyer, Postmaster. Hickory Point was established soon after, with Charles Hardt, Postmaster. A postoffice was established at Grasshopper Falls, December 21, 1855, with A. J. Whitney, Postmaster. During the year 1855, towns had been laid out at both Osawkie and Grasshopper Falls.
The first white child born, after the permanent settlement of the county began, was undoubtedly Ella Simmons, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Alpha Simmons, born on June 19, 1855, in what is now Jefferson Township. She is now married, and lives not far from the place of her birth.
The first marriage in Jefferson County was that of Alfred Corey and Miss Martha Hoovey, who were married as Osawkie, November 25, 1855, by Elder William Hicks, a minister of the Christian Church. The second marriage was that of Thomas Scaggs and Miss Sally Scaggs, of Kentucky Township, on December 4, 1855, by Judge Samuel D. Lecompte.
Early Political Troubles
From the very earliest settlement, there was a contest as to whether the political affairs of the county should be controlled by the Pro-slavery or Free-state party. At first the Pro-slavery men gained the ascendance, from the fact that is was very easy to run over men from Missouri to take part in the elections. Party feeling and fanaticism was extreme on both sides. Each party regarded the other as having no rights they were bound to respect. At the first elections, lawless Pro-slavery men took possession of the polls, and prevented a fair ballot, after which there was little respect for law and order on either side. After the outrages at the first elections, the parties participated but little. Each side held a separate election, and refused to acknowledge that of the other as legal.
A Territorial Free-state Convention was held a Topeka in September, 1855, and an election for delegates to a constitutional convention was ordered to be held the following October. The voting places in Jefferson County were fixed at Grasshopper Falls and at Pleasant Hill. The latter named was a town that had been laid out by the Free-state men on the farm of Jacob U. Brown, on the west side of Grasshopper River, and about one mile west of Osawkie. Jefferson County was allowed two delegates. The election was held at the appointed time, and the result was as follows: At Grasshopper Falls, Geo. S. Hillyer, 43 votes, and Wm. Griggsby, 41 votes. At Pleasant Hill, Wm. Hicks received 43 votes, and J. Whiting 42 votes. Hillyer and Hicks were declared elected.
The Free-state Constitutional Convention met at Topeka October 23, framed a constitution, which was submitted to the people for ratification, Dec. 15, 1855. Two clauses outside of the body of the constitution were submitted, one relating to the establishment of a general banking law, and the other regarding the exclusion of free Negroes from the Territory. The election was held in Jefferson County, uninterrupted by the Pro-slavery party, and resulted as follows. For the constitution there was no opposition; for the exclusion of negroes, 95 votes; against, 3 votes; for the banking law, 56 votes; against, 40 votes.
At the election of State officers and members of the legislature by the Free-state party on January 15, 1856, George S. Hillyer was elected Senator from Jefferson County, and Wm. Crosby, Isaac Cody, and Wm. Hicks, members of the lower house. On meeting, this legislature ordered an election on March 30, for the election of a delegate to Congress. Jefferson County cast 99 votes.
The first term of district court convened at Osawkie he (sic) last week in March, 1856, with Samuel D. Lecompte the presiding judge. The greater part of the term was taken up with the prosecution of Free-state men on various charges. The troubles between the Free-state and Pro-slavery citizens had now become serious, and a great many depredations had been committed by each party, but as the courts were in the hands of the Pro-slavery men, of course only Free-state men were prosecuted, and many of them on trumped-up charges. About fifty indictments were found against Free-soilers, charged with stealing hogs, treason, and other crimes.
A lawyer named Hutchison labored hard in the interests of the accused, but indictments were promptly found. During the session of court, an armed company of Free-soilers were stationed a a point about four miles from Grasshopper Falls to guard against any outrages that might be committed by the reckless and excited Pro-slavery men; but they were content with securing indictments on charge of some crime. There was a shadow of truth in the charge of hog stealing, as semi-wild hogs without an owner were frequently found; as stock was allowed to run at large, whenever a man wanted more meat, he would go out and shoot a hog, caring very little as to whom it might belong, asserting that it was wild.
During all this time, trouble had been brewing between the two parties, and many depredations on each other had been committed. There was constant trouble between the settlers, besides which the location of the county made it a convenient skirmishing ground for the armed bodies of men from other parts of the Territory. At times, when large bands of armed Pro-slavery men were in the county, it was unsafe for a Free-soiler to be caught by them. Many a Free- state man lost his life during these raids.
But while robberies and murders were so fearlessly committed by the "border ruffians," it must be recorded that the Free-soilers sometimes retaliated in an inexcusable manner. No law was respected or obeyed. Might alone made right, and there were many to be found who were glad to take advantage of the reigning lawlessness to commit crimes for the purpose of plunder. Others, earnest in the efforts to drive Pro-slavery men from the county, and believing honestly in the righteousness of their cause, and irritated by the many outrages committed upon them by the border ruffians, regarded the condition of affairs as justifying retaliatory measures.
So troublesome had the boarder ruffians become, that the Free-state settlers having rapidly increased in numbers, it was determined on the part of the advocates of several measures, to drive the most offensive of the Pro- slavery settlers, who had harbored and aided the ruffians in their outrages, from the country. On Sunday, June 8, 1856, Jones and Fielding, from near Hickory Point, were driven away. Both parties among the settlers soon organized bodies of armed men, and skirmishes were frequent.
A. T. Pattie, a Pro-slavery man, had built stores at Grasshopper Falls, but would not even recognize the rights of the town company, and erected his buildings on the streets. So bold had be become that the Free-sate party drove him out of the country. Early in 1856, Wm. and R. H. Crosby located at Grasshopper Falls, and erected a store. On September 8, 1856, the town was raided by an armed body of ruffians, who drove into town, shooting in all directions. Unable to resist such overwhelming numbers, and being taken completely by surprise, the abled bodied men all fled, leaving only the old men, women and children, who were unable to get away. For this flight they have been accused of cowardice, but they believed the enemy would not injure the defenseless, and knew that to remain and attempt to defend the town would be useless, beside which there was little double but that the Free-sate leaders would have been lynched.
The town was sacked, and Crosby's store burned. Dr. Lorenzo Northrup had a small stock of drugs, and his library and surgical instruments in one portion of the Crosby building, and these too were burned. The doctor had about $500 in gold at the store that he was anxious to save, and mounting his fleet horse started on a run for the timber along the river. At first he kept out of the way of his pursuers, but on arriving at a thicket of hazel brush, the horse stopped, and the doctor jumped off and took to the brush. His pursuers, stopping to secure the horse, he made his way safety to the river, and hid his bag of gold under a fallen tree. He had just secured a place of safety in a tangled thicket, when the ruffians came in on all sides, but he eluded them.
Several amusing incidents took place at this time. "Pap" Weiser, an old and infirm man, unable to run, had just purchased a sack of flour at the store, and coolly shouldered it and started for home. The invaders began shooting at him, and told him to drop his flour and run, but he kept on and coolly told them that he "could not run, and that they could shoot, and be d--d."
Wm. Crosby and a companion took refuge in the timber and fled up the river, but a little dog that was with them would set up barking every time they stopped. Afraid that this would result in their capture, they caught the dog and held him under water until they thought he was dead, but he was soon all right again, and followed them, keeping up a more constant barking than before, and all the efforts to get hold of him again were unavailing. They escaped, however. No one was killed, and the greatest damage done was the plundering and burning of the town.
Prior to the burning of Crosby's store at Grasshopper falls there was a Free-state organization there under the leadership of a man by the name of Clark. Among his men were a number from Crooked Creek, Foss, Crobarger, Simmons and others, who had joined him for personal safety. During the absence of these men at the Falls, a Pro-slavery man by the name of Jackson, visited their houses, insulting the women, and threatening to pull down the houses over their heads. Clark and his men threatened vengeance on Jackson and a person by the name of Beeson, and made a raid a few nights afterwards.
On reaching the residence of Jackson, he was called to the door, and upon appearing, was shot through the body by some member of the party. They then carried him in to his family and placed him on the bed. A search was made for Beeson, but he could not be found. He was hidden under the bed, however, and suffered so much form fright that his hair during the night changed from dark to perfectly white. It is claimed that in retaliation for their outrage of Clark and his men, Grasshopper Falls was visited and Crosby's store burned.
Both parties were now armed, and the county was visited by Gen. J. H. Lane and his men, and by the border ruffians and Kickapoo Rangers. One of the first encounters was on Slough Creek, a short distance north of the present town of Oskaloosa, which had been laid off as a town early that year. The boarder ruffians started out from Lecompton, and Col. Harvey and Capt. Hull were sent out, each in command of a division of men, to intercept them. The two divisions came together near Springdale, and camped in a two-story log house.
The next day they removed to a point about ten miles east of Oskaloosa, where they camped. In the night Jesse Newell, one of the founders of Oskaloosa, came in with reports of a number of outrages committed by a company of South Carolinians in the vicinity. He had been dragged around by a rope and had been hanged, but was let down before life was extinct. Col. Harvey and his men at once started, and found the South Carolinians camped on the north side of Slough Creek. They were surrounded and taken completely by surprise. At three o'clock in the morning of September 11, the attack was made.
The Pro-slavery men were commanded by Capt. F. G. Palmer, and were en route form Lecompton to Atchison. There was but very little firing on either side, the enemy trying all the time to escape. Finding this impossible they all surrendered except Capt. Palmer and Lieut. A. G. Morall, who succeeded in getting away. There were no serious casualties. Col. Harvey was slightly wounded in the finger, and one of the South Carolinians were shot in the neck. Sixty stand of arms, two wagons, some provisions, ad number of fine horses were captures. A flag as also captured which is now in the possession of the State Historical Society. On promising to leave the territory, the prisoners were released. This was on the morning of September 11.
The captured flag is a crimson banner of cotton cloth, in size four by six feet, having in the center, and shown on both sides, a single large white star; on one side the inscription "South Carolina." and on the other the words "Southern Rights." The flag was originally brought to Kansas by a company of South Carolinians who located in Atchison, and in the spring of 1856 organized themselves into a military company, known as the Palmetto Guards, of which F. G. Palmer, one of their number and a graduate of the South Carolina Military Academy was captain.
The company was conspicuous among the invaders of Lawrence, May 1856, their red flag being hoisted on the Herald of Freedom Office, and on the Free-state Hotel. It next made a public appearance at a banquet in Atchison, where the most ultra Pro-slavery toasts were given, and the subjugation of Kansas by the victors of Lawrence, was spoken of by the jubilant Southerners as a thing achieved. Then came Slough Creek, which left the young Carolinians minus the inspiring flag, somewhat thoughtful and subdued, and, as the Squatter Sovereign dolefully remarked, "unable to take the field for lack of equipments."
Among the Free-state men were, Judge John W. Day, F. G. Adams, Secretary of State Historical Society; Henry Relsner, John Armstrong and Capt. H. L. Dunlap. Soon after the capture of the flag it was given by Capt. Harvey to Col. E. B. Whitman, of Lawrence; was afterward in the custody of Rev. Edward E. Hale, of Boston. In 1878 the flag again passed into the possession of Col. Whitman, who forwarded it to Secretary Adams, for deposit among the relics of the days of 1856.
The Battle of Hickory Point
The next event in the troubles of 1856, was the battle of Hickory Point, which occurred on the 13th and 14th of September. Though termed a battle it was but a mere skirmish. Gov. Beary had just arrived in the Territory, and his proclamation was issued ordering all armed parties to disband.
Gen. J. H. Lane was at, or near Topeka, and did not hear of the order to disperse. He, with a small party of men, was about starting out on the Lane road toward Holton, when he was met by messengers from the neighborhood of Osawkie, who informed him that the Pro-slavery men were committing outrages in the neighborhood, that Grasshopper Falls was burned, and that it was intended by them to burn Pleasant Hill and other Free-state places, and drive the citizens from the country. His assistance being solicited, he marched to Osawkie at once, where his force was recruited by the Free-state settlers near there.
They then proceeded to retaliate for the burning of Crosby's store at Grasshopper Falls. Osawkie was a Pro-slavery town, and many outrages on its citizens were committed. Among others, Dyer Bros'. store was broken into and robbed. Having quieted the Pro-slavery men there, and driven many from the neighborhood, Lane and his men, learning that a large party of armed Pro- slavery men were collected at Hickory Point, marched to that place intending to capture them or force them to leave the country.
Hickory Point was situated on the northwest quarter of Section 5, town 90, Range 19 east, on the north side of the military and freight road, on the land now owned and cultivated by Andrew Wilson. At that time, three log buildings, a store, hotel, and blacksmith shop, were located there. Lane and his men on their arrival found about one hundred Pro-slavery men, thoroughly armed and ready for a fight. The greater number of them were settlers in the neighborhood, who had assembled for the purpose of protecting the property of H. A. Lowe, the owner of Hickory Point.
Capt. Lowe was assisted by about forty of the South Carolinians who had been committing outrages throughout the country. They were commanded by Cap. Robertson. An attack was made, but the Pro-slavery men were found too securely fortified in the log buildings to be dislodged. Therefore Gen. Lane sent to Lawrence for re-enforcements, and for Capt. J. C. Bickerton to come with the now historic cannon "Sacramento." This was on Saturday, September 13, 1856.
On the arrival of Lane's messenger at Lawrence, a company of recruits was at once formed under command of Col. J. A. Harvey. The order was for them to go by the Topeka road, but they took a direct route, starting that evening and marching all night. When at Newell's Mills, now Oskaloosa, they stopped long enough to cook breakfast, when they again resumed the march, arriving at Hickory Point about half past ten o'clock, on Sunday forenoon. In the meantime Gen. Lane had heard of Gov. Geary's order to disperse, and started for Topeka, expecting to meet Harvey and Bickerton with men on that road.
When Harvey and his men came up, the Pro-slavery men tried to run, but were soon surrounded and driven back, when they once more took refuge in the log buildings. Harvey ordered his wagons driven up within about three hundred yards of the buildings, where they were halted.
Over the cabins occupied by the enemy three flags were floating, that over the blacksmith shop being a black one. No message was sent on either side, but the cannon was placed in position about two hundred yards south of the blacksmith shop and firing began at once. The cannon were supported by about twenty men armed with United States muskets. The "Stubbs' company was stationed about two hundred yards to the southeast, in a timbered ravine. The first canon shot passed through the blacksmith shop, struck and killed Charles G. Newhall.
About twenty more shots were fired, but without effect, as the occupants of the shop kept close watch, and when the gun was about to be fired, threw themselves on the ground, allowing the balls to pass over their heads. A constant firing was kept up on both sides, with rifles, but at so long range, that but little harm was done. The store and hotel were close together, and having plenty of whisky (sic), the occupants became reckless, and frequently passed from one to the other. One of these, who was wounded in the thigh by a rifle ball, was Evans, the blacksmith, and brother to the first Free-state treasurer of the county.
Finding it impossible to dislodge Capt. Lowe and his men, Harvey ordered a wagon to be loaded with hay and backed up to the blacksmith shop, then to be set on fire, and for the men to retreat under cover of the smoke. This plan worked nicely until the wagon was within a short distance of the building, when its occupants began shooting under the wagon, hitting the men in the legs, until they were glad to jump up on the tongue for safety. After remaining there some time they set fire to the hay, and got away under cover of the smoke.
Soon after a white flag was sent out for the shop. This was for the purpose of arranging for several non-combatants to leave the buildings. Harvey sent a message back by the carrier. Firing now ceased altogether, and messages passed back and forth. A compromise was soon arranged by which each party was to retire peaceably, and to give up all plunder, and all non-residents in each party were to leave the county. The compromise was effected about five o'clock, after which both parties came together and the Pro-slavery men having a large quantity of whisky (sic), all had a jolly time, and soon all animosity was forgotten in the passing pleasures of the hour. The casualties were as follows. One Pro-slavery man was killed and four wounded. Of the Free-state men, three were shot in the legs, one got a badly bruised head, and a boy, fifteen years old was shot through the lungs.
After the fight, the Free-state party moved to where Oskaloosa now stands, where they camped for the night. Col. Harvey went to the cabin of Jesse Newell to stay overnight. Patrick and Porterfield started to take the wounded men to Lawrence that night, but when about one mile from camp they were met and captured by United States soldiers. The company of soldiers then proceeded to the camp. Before learning who they were, preparations for defense were made, and Capt. Bickerton was about to fire the cannon.
Learning who they were no resistance was made, and the entire party were captured, except about twenty-five of the cavalry who were camped in the hazel brush, a short distance further down the creek. There was no attempt made to capture Pro- slavery men. The only man killed was a young Pro-slavery man named Grayson, who had acted as a guide in bringing the soldiers to the camp. After the capture, he started to ride away to warn his own party, and being mistaken for an escaping Free-state prisoner, he was shot and killed. His body was then thrown into a feed box attached to a wagon and carried to Lecompton, where the prisoners were taken. On the road a few got away by dropping out of the ranks when passing through the brush in ravines.
At Lecompton, they were kept out on the open prairie, about two miles south of town for two weeks, waiting for the Pro-slavery courts to indict them for the murder of Newhall. There were tent accommodations for only about one- fourth of their number and there was a great deal of suffering from cold and hunger. One dark and stormy night a plan was devised for the escape of a number. Two guards were bribed to let them roll out one at a time. By this plan six prisoners got away. Lieut. Spicer rolled out with his rubber overcoat on, and so frightened a number of horses that they ran away, and alarmed the guard, preventing the escape of the others.
Other prisoners from Osawkie, Jefferson County, were soon brought in. They were Ephraim Bainter, Harry Hoover, Nathan Griffith and Henry Bowles. Of these Bainter was tried and sentenced to six years in the penitentiary, but got out on furlough, and was that fall elected Sheriff of Jefferson County. Hoover pitched his guard into the river and escaped. The arms of the prisoners were given to the Pro-slavery men. On examining them Judge Cato shot himself in the ankle, which afforded fun for the men. Many times it was proposed to massacre the prisoners, but during their stay only one death occurred.
The trial of the prisoners began in October. Ten men were selected, tried and acquitted. Then twenty men were tried and sentenced to the penitentiary for five years. One of these was Thomas Varner, now living near Winchester. They were afterward pardoned. Fifty-nine prisoners remained, and on November 15 they were removed to the Tecumseh jail where they were crowded in two basement cells. Here they determined to escape on account of severe suffering. They secured an old bayonet and dug out through the bricks and earth, and one dark night all escaped except fourteen, who chose to remain and stand trial. They were afterward acquitted. A. G. Patrick was one of these.
By order of the Territorial Legislature, an election was held in June, 1857, for delegates to a Constitutional Convention. The Free-state men took no part whatever, in Jefferson County. In August, 1857, a Free-state election took place for State officers and members of the Legislature. From Jefferson County, Geo. S. Hillyer was elected Senator, and Dr. S. S. Cooper and Henry Owens, representatives. A. G. Patrick, of Jefferson County, was elected Clerk of the Supreme Court.
In September, a Free-state mass convention was held at Grasshopper Falls, to discuss the contest for the control of the Legislature. The members of the party from the north side of the Kansas River favored a contest, while those south opposed it. After a boisterous session it was determined to put a full ticket in the field. Immediate action was taken. The convention for Jefferson County was held the same month, at Osawkie.
The Pro-slavery party put a ticket in the field headed by C. A. Buck, and the election was held in October. There is no record of the election, but the nominees of the Free-state party were elected, it is claimed, by about one hundred majority. They were A. G. Patrick, member of the Territorial Council; S. S. Cooper and Henry Owens, Representatives; Robert Ward and John Hughan, County Commissioners; J. L. Spear, Probate Judge; Ephraim Bainter, Sheriff; Henry Evans, Treasurer; John W. Day, Recorder; Jacob A. Boucher, Corner; Newell Colby, Surveyor and Lewis A. Cobb, Assessor. This was the first election in which the two parties participated to any extent, and the first at which Free-state men were elected to county offices.
The general Free-soil victory at the above election, throughout the Territory, inspired them with so much confidence that they concluded to elect a Legislature under the Lecompton Constitution. In Jefferson County the same ticket was elected as in October. Thus Cooper and Owens were members of the three contesting Legislatures at the same time. The vote on delegate to Congress gave the Free-state men 155 majority in Jefferson County. On December 21, the Lecompton Constitution was submitted, and carried in the county, as the Free-state men took no part. This constitution was soon submitted, and defeated, the Pro-slavery men then taking no part.
On March 9, 1858, Jefferson County elected Edward Lynde, J. C. Todd, Jas. Monroe and A. W. McCauslin, members of a convention to form a State Constitution. On August 2, 1858, the citizens of the Territory voted on the Lecompton Constitution as provided by the English bill, and with the following result in Jefferson County: 151 votes for, and 441 votes against. On October 4, 1858, Jefferson County elected as members of the Legislature, Edward Lynde (Free-state), and Franklin Finch (Independent Democrat).
In June, 1859, delegates were elected to a constitutional convention, to be held at Wyandotte. The result in Jefferson County was as follows: C. B. McClellan (Independent Democrat), 278 votes and H. Buckmaster (Republican), 249 votes. The former, who was elected and helped frame the constitution, is still living as Oskaloosa, where he is one of the leading merchants. On October 4, 1859, the Wyandotte Constitution was submitted to the people and received thirty-nine majority for, in Jefferson County.
The fall of 1859 was the first time there was a regular contest between the Republican an Democratic parties under those names. There was an exciting contest, and some of each ticket was elected. Of the former party, Edward Lynde was elected Representative; J. H. Bennett, Clerk, and Joseph Cochrane, Judge. The latter elected Marion Christison and Thos. A. Blake, Representatives; S. C. Gephart, Register of Deeds; G. B. Carson, Treasurer, and J. F. Hinton, Sheriff.
The homestead law was also submitted, and received a majority of 214 votes.
Progress of the County
The political troubles had subsided now to a great extent. Instead of warfare, the citizen resorted to the ballot. Political meetings, conventions, and elections were the order of the day. Though much of their time was thus taken up, the citizens of 1857 were generally quite prosperous, and carried on their occupations in comparative peace. The population of the county was also continually increasing. The census of 1857 showed a population of 1,962. more than one-half this number were living near the Grasshopper River.
Of the number, 694 were married, and 221 were bachelors. There were 69 slaves in the county. Of the children, 539 were boys and 508 girls. This was largely increased in 1858. The immigration and improvement of the county, though rather slow, was steady. For that year the assessed value of property was $570,000. In 1859 the increase of population and the improvement made was much greater than at any time before since the Osawkie land sales. For 1859 the assessed value of property in the county was $987,761.
The Land Sales.--During the year 1856 there was a heavy rush of immigration to the country, and in November all the lands north of the diminished Delaware reserve, and east of the line between Ranges 18 and 19, was sold to the highest bidder at a public sale at Leavenworth.
It was during the year 1857, however, that the immigration to the county was the greatest. The remainder of the Delaware lands were to be sold at Osawkie in July of that year, and that place of all others was the point of destination for immigrants to Kansas. Before the sale began, there was not a quarter-section of land but had a claimant and some had several. In July the sales took place. Thousands of men intent on speculation were in attendance.
According to a "squatter's law" prearranged among themselves, they bid in the lands occupied by them, at the appraised value. Many of these claims, perhaps three-fourths of them, were sold to speculators at enormous prices. It was an era of speculation. Money was plenty and spent freely, on all hands. Everything had a fictitious and fabulous value. Everything seemed prosperous, and a large number of chimerical schemes were engaged in, but all at once came the great financial crash, and there was a general collapse. Business became very dull, and money scarce. Large numbers of the settlers left the country, and deserted cabins were everywhere to be seen. Most of their land had, however, been sold to speculators for fabulous prices, much more than improved lands sell for at this writing. Much of this land was afterward sold for taxes.
Until the year 1860, the county had been quite prosperous, and when planted and cultivated good crops had been raised. It is true the citizens were generally poor, but it must be remembered that the greater number of them came to the Territory with little wealth, and had to wait to open up their farms before any profit could be realized from their labors. Besides this, many of them had suffered losses in the years from 1855 to 1857, by depredations from the opposing party; had neglected their crops and lost much time in attending conventions and traveling from place to place; and spent money buying arms and ammunition, in paying party assessment, etc. But, notwithstanding all this, whatever the crops had been cultivated, they had generally yielded an abundant harvest. Beginning with the year 1858, they had, however, worked industriously to put their farms in repair, opened a greater acreage of land, and had now prepared for farming on a large scale.
The following figures will show the wealth and population of the county in May, 1860. The population was 4,446. Of live-stock, there were in the county 4,020 head of cattle, 950 houses, 97 mules, 9,660 hogs and 839 sheep. According to a low-assessed valuation, the total value of property was $925,003. The value of property in each township was as follows: Oskaloosa, $212,622; Grasshopper Falls, $209,391; Rock Creek $128,042; Osawkie, $81,297; Jefferson, $174,483; Kaw, $68,121; Kentucky, $51,047. The total value of lands in the county was $707,407; value of village lots at an average of $23 to each lot, $45,457; value of personal property in villages $20,025. The prosperity of the county was seriously retarded by the big drouth of 1860.
The crop yield was almost an entire failure. There was no small grain raised, and but a very little corn, and this only in the valleys and ravines, where in some very small fields it yielded perhaps half a crop.
Though nearly all farmers who cultivated their lands properly received a small crop, there was not enough to keep them from suffering, or even starvation. For reasons previous stated, the old settlers had accumulated but little. Many were new comers who had spent nearly or quite all their means for their lands, and depended entirely on the crops of that year for subsistence. Some of these new settlers were disheartened, and left the county for their former homes, discouraged from ever returning again. Others left to return again the next and succeeding years. Perhaps a little more than one-tenth of the settlers left the county that fall.
A great many of those remaining would have left had they only the means to take them back. While starvation was to plainly before the most needy before another crop could be raised, aid societies had been formed, and the people of the Eastern States, with great liberality sent help in form of provisions, clothing, and seed for the next year. Distributing agents were appointed in every community, and goods apportioned out to those in want. They had to be hauled from Atchison, which was the general distributing depot, and the needy were employed to do this, and were paid in supplies. By receiving this aid the settlers passed through the winter and the next season until another crop could be raised.
During the war the county progressed but slowly, as the greater number of the citizens were in the army, and those that were not away from the State were members of the State Militia, and spent much time providing for their own families and those of their neighbors, leaving them little opportunity to add to the resources of the county.
When the war was over, however, there was an immediate and rapid improvement visible. Immigration into the county again began, and during the following years towns and railroads were built, many fine farms were opened, and the county increased greatly in aggregate wealth. Following is a general summary of the condition of the county in May, 1870: The total value of farms was $4,218,363; of improved lands, there were 91,004 acres; there were on hand 1,238,947 bushels of corn; the total value of live stock was $1,119,813; the total population was 12,565; the population by townships was, Oskaloosa, 1,610; Jefferson, 1,689; Rock Creek, 481; Kentucky, 1,976; Sarcoxie, 1,876; Union, 650; Kaw, 749; Grasshopper Falls, 1,943, and Osawkie, 1,600. There were in the county 2,279 houses and 2,402 families.
In May, 1872, there were heavy rains, which soon flooded the streams, and much damage was done to the growing crops, particularly along the valleys, which in many places were covered with water for several days. Many bridges were washed out, and the damage was great. With the exception of the losses of this year, which, however, were for the most part but local, the yield of all agricultural products had been abundant from the year 1866--when the grasshoppers ruined a portion of the growing crops--until 1874.
In the summer of the latter named year, just as the harvest of small grain was being completed, the grasshoppers appeared in immense numbers. So thick were they, that when flying over, they formed clouds so dense as to obscure the light of the sun. They came down on the fields in myriads, and within three days the fields of corn and every other thing that was yet green, was utterly destroyed.
The ruin of the corn crop alone, was a serious loss to the farmers; but this was not all, the grasshoppers stayed and deposited their eggs. The next spring they hatched, and many fields were literally covered with the ravenous pests. The fall wheat was yet green and tender, and nearly all the fields were soon covered, and here they remained until able to fly. In many places they clustered so closely together, in heaps, that they could be shoveled like earth. This being true, of course nearly all fields of small grain were ruined. The small corn was also eaten, but it was so early that be replanting an abundant crop was harvested.
During the intervening winter, those of the settlers who were needy had been helped by the aid societies, and by their friends in more eastern States. With the partial failure of crops in 1875, the times were much harder during the following winter than they had been the previous one. Though rigid economy had to be practiced, and many were very poor, there was very little actual suffering. A great many of the citizens of the county, however, left the State, so that by the close of the year 1875, the population was lessened by more than one thousand.
On June 8, 1875, a severe storm of wind and rain passed over the county, and did considerable damage to the growing crops, and demolished many farm buildings.
On the breaking out of the war of the Rebellion in April, 1861, there was a movement made at once to organize a company of enlisted soldier, for three months' service, from Jefferson County. This was done by authority from Gov. Charles Robinson, and a company known as the Jefferson Riffles, numbering a little more than one hundred men, was organized, with S. S. Cooper, Captain; Lewis Stafford, First Lieutenant; and Azel W. Spaulding, Second Lieutenant. They went to Fort Leavenworth to drill and enlist in a regular manner.
When there, it was ordered that the men be enlisted for three years, upon which, as many had left their families unprovided for, it was determined that a number of them should return home to look after the support of the women and children. This being done, there were not a sufficient number remaining to form a company, therefore they combined with Capt. Clayton's partially organized Leavenworth company, electing him Captain, and retaining the Lieutenants from the Jefferson County company. The company was mustered into the First Kansas Regiment on May 28, 1861.
During the war, by far the greater number of the citizens of the county entered the army, while nearly every able-bodied man who remained served in the State Militia, aiding in protecting the State fro invasion. Beside this, for those remaining there was plenty to do in providing for their own families, and looking after the comfort and welfare of those of their absent neighbors.
Among the officers of Kansas troops who were prominent citizens of Jefferson County were. E. D. Hillyer, Quartermaster of the Fifth Kansas, and Edward Lynde, Colonel of the Ninth Kansas. G. W. Hogeboom was a Surgeon. W. C. Barnes, of Oskaloosa; Jerome Kunkle, of Kentucky Township, and Lewis Stafford, of Grasshopper Falls, were Captains. Stafford went out as a Lieutenant, but was soon promoted. He was killed in Louisiana, in January, 1863. Elias Gibbs, J. J. Clancy, J. H Cowen, J. B. McAfee, W. W. Spaulding, and G. A Dewey, were Lieutenants. In the Eleventh Kansas Regiment there were a particularly large number of Jefferson County men. During the war, from its beginning to its close, none of the Kansas troops behaved more bravely, or achieved greater honors, than did the Jefferson county volunteers.
On October 8, 1863, the County Commissioners voted a bounty of $30 to each soldier who had enlisted from the county and scrip was issued to one hundred and thirty-five men. As the invasion of the State was continually threatened, a thorough organization of militia under command of the Governor was always in readiness. In Jefferson County, a regiment, known as the Fourth Regiment Kansas State Militia, was organized. S. S. Cooper was commissioned Colonel, and remained in command until it was disbanded. It consisted of eleven companies, of which two were from Grasshopper Falls, two from Jefferson Township, two from Oskaloosa, one from Osawkie, one from Rock Creek, one from Kaw, one from Kentucky, and one from Sarcoxie.
There were in the county quite a large number of secession sympathizers, but so great a feeling of loyalty existed among the great majority of the citizens that no rebel sentiments were ever allowed to be expressed, and it would have been unsafe for any one to openly aid the rebels. One so doing would have forfeited his property, and probably his life. So anxious were rebel sympathizers to make a show of loyalty that they enlisted in the militia, and whenever called out it was looked to that that class went along and participated in the battles fought.
During the war, the greatest scourge of the county were the bands of jayhawkers who for the greater part of the time persisted in committing depredations on peaceable citizens. They organized at first to drive the rebel sympathizers fro the county, and with the idea that the circumstances of the case fully justified them in confiscating the property of the enemy. But under the leadership of bad men they soon became common robbers. Horse-stealing was their principal crime. For a long time they committed their crimes, with little fear or liability of punishment. Their number was great, and if a citizen dared to oppose their lawless deeds, he was branded as a rebel, his property taken and he driven from the country.
They soon became bold and took property wherever they could find it. In some localities they held absolute sway. The Justices of Peace, Constables, and other officials, seemed to be afraid to arrest and punish them. One of their places of rendezvous was at Oskaloosa, and in that village and in its vicinity, numerous outrages were committed with no possibility of checking or punishing them. The citizens soon learned that any attempts to oppose their reckless deeds only resulted in a loss of their own property, and the greater number kept quiet, thinking their property and their lives were much safer by so doing.
After a time, however, robbery and the other outrages had become so frequent, that the law-abiding citizens determined to rid themselves of the jayhawkers, and an organization for the purpose was effected. The robbers were hunted, attacked, and on several occasions quite severe fights took place, in which a great number of robbers were killed. So rigorous was the campaign made against them, and so promptly were their outrages punished, that after quite a large number of them had lost their lives they desisted from their lawless deeds in this county and most of them left the country.
Land Troubles and Railroad Bonds
After the diminished Delaware reserve was purchased by the United States Government, it was granted to the Leavenworth, Pawnee, and Western Railroad Company, on condition that they build a railway and pay the Government a stated price within a term of years agree upon. The road was not built, nor any payments made on the land. As soon as the land was open to settlement a large number located thereon, bought lands, paying for them in whole or in part, and accepting the bonds of the company in lieu of a deed.
The original company sold to the Union Pacific Railroad Company. E. D., after which there was some trouble with the settlers, many of whom refused to make any further payments until the company should be in condition to give a warranty deed, they fearing that the road would never be built or the title perfected, and that they would eventually lose all they paid. Besides this, some of the settlers had bought the land of the original company with the understanding that they should be allowed to pay for it by working on the railroad grade.
When some of the settlers refused to make their payments or keep up the interest, the company, through Samuel Denman, their agent, ordered them to leave the land. When they refused to do so, application was made to the Government for troops to remove them. This was granted, and troops were sent from Fort Leavenworth to remove those designated by Denman, when considerable trouble took place, though they were not openly resisted. The soldiers were soon removed, and a compromise effected. In due time the company perfected its title to the lands, and those settlers who held bonds were allowed to turn them in as receipts, when they paid for the land.
During the trouble several skirmishes took place between contesting claimants of the lands. One of these took place on July 4, 1866, where Williamstown now is. A mill company had been organized, and had purchased 900 acres of land, some of which was occupied by settlers. A contest between them soon began. The mill men pulled own one house and used the material. To retaliate, the settlers drove nails in the sawlogs. On July ?, both parties were armed. the settler set fire to some wood belong to the mill. A fight afterwards ensued, and several were badly wounded on both sides, but no one was killed.
Soon after the close of the war the citizens of the county began an effort to secure the building of a north and south line of railroad. As early as 1865, the Kansas Division of the Union Pacific was built across the southern part of the county, and the same year the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company made a proposition that for $300,000 in bonds they would construct their road across the county. An election was held and the bonds defeated. Again in the fall of 1867 the question of voting bonds was agitated. This time two lines of road were in contemplation: the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, and the Atchison, Oskaloosa & Lawrence Railroad, each of which roads asked $150,000 in county bonds.
In a short time an election was held, and the bond proposition was carried by a small majority. Those opposed to voting bonds had made a strong and bitter fight, and determined to prevent the bonds from being used, charging that there had been fraudulent voting in Grasshopper Falls Township where the greater majority was received. At the time of the canvas of the votes by the County Commissioners, no objection was raised; but just at its close the opposition made an appearance, objected to the counting the Grasshopper Falls vote, and demanded the poll books for the county, which were given them.
When they were returned, the Grasshopper Falls book was found missing. This being seen by the County Commissioners, they summoned the trustee of that township, who was the proper custodian of the book, to appear before them, but on being sworn he stated he knew nothing of its whereabouts. It was returned some time after. At the time of the canvas of the votes Terry Critchfield was County Clerk, but a short time afterward (January, 1868) Walter N. Allen, who had been elected before, took charge of the affairs of the office, and championed the cause of the anti-bond men.
Some time during the trouble the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company demanded the issue of the bonds, whereupon two members of the Board of Commissioners, John Coffey and William Gragg, ordered the Clerk to issue bonds of $150,000 to the above named road. The third commissioner, John Davis, refused to sign this order. Allen, firmly convinced that the election had not been legal, refused to issue the bonds. A suit of mandamus to compel him to do so was then brought, but he still refused to sign, where upon he was remanded to jail. Still holding out strongly he was in a short time released. In October, 1869, he was displaced from office, and L. A. Myers appointed in his place. The commissioners again ordered the subscription of stock, which was compiled with.
In January, 1870,, the Board of County Commissioners, now having a majority opposed to the bonds, allowed Walter N. Allen $1,200 to be used in defending himself and the county against the payment of the bonds. An injunction against their payment was issued, and on the 31st day of the following May was made perpetual. The case was before the courts for a number of years, when the election was decided to have been illegal on account of a large number of votes fraudulently cast, and the bonds of the county declared null and void.
After the first railroad bonds voted in the county had been decided to be illegal, continual efforts were made to secure a railroad. The citizens were nearly equally divided on the question of the expediency of voting bonds. In 1871, several township elections on bond propositions from the Atchison, Oskaloosa & Lawrence Railroad, were held, but except in Oskaloosa Township, were defeated, and this put an end to all prospects of securing that road. In September, 1871, an election was held for the purposed of voting bonds to the Grasshopper Valley railroad, which was to extend down the Grasshopper River.
The proposition was voted on in all the townships bordering the river, but was defeated. On July 11, 1871, an election was held in Grasshopper Falls and Rock Creek Townships, on a bond proposition submitted by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, which specified that the road should pass through these townships and that the former township should subscribe for $40,000 stock of the road, which were to be paid in bonds; and that the latter township should subscribe $20,000 on the same conditions. In Grasshopper Falls Township the bond proposition was was carried, and the next year the road was built.
The Kansas Central Railroad Company made a proposition to Jefferson and Grasshopper Falls Townships, asking $25,000 in bonds from the former, and $40,000 from the latter. An election was held on September 18, 1871, and the proposition was carried. The line of road was built and regular trains were running by the fall of 1872. The Leavenworth, Oskaloosa & Topeka Railroad Company made a bond proposition to Oskaloosa and Osawkie Townships, which was voted on in the spring of 1872, but was defeated.
This ended the rail schemes in the county, until the year 1881, when the townships of Union, Oskaloosa, Osawkie and Rock Creek voted bonds to the Leavenworth, Topeka & Southwestern Railroad Company. This line of road was built from Leavenworth to Meriden, and completed in 1882. In August 1882, before its completion, it was sold to the Atchison, Topeka & Southwestern Railroad Company, who now operate it.
The first Territorial Legislature met in July, 1855, and during its session Jefferson County was organized and county officers appointed. The limits of the county were the same as now, except that the Kansas River formed its entire southern boundary.
The first county officers, appointed in 1855, were: N. B. Hopewell, O. B. Tebbs, and Henry Owens, County Court. This court was substantially the same as a board of county commissioners. Franklin Finch was appointed Probate Judge; W. F. Dyer, Treasurer; G. M. Dyer, Sheriff; Marion Christison, Register of Deeds; William Sprague, Assessor; Garrett Cozine, Surveyor; James A. Chapman, Coroner. Osawkie was designated as the county seat.
At a meeting of the County Court held at Osawkie, January 21, 1856, the county was divided into three townships. All that portion east of the line between Ranges 18 and 19, was called Slough Creek: all west of the above-named line, and south of Town 8, was called Osawkie; and the remainder of the county was called Grasshopper Falls. A Justice of the Peace and a Constable wee appointed for each of these townships.
At the March Meeting of the County Court the first license in the county was granted to Jefferson Riddle, granting him the privilege of maintaining a ferry across the Grasshopper at Osawkie, for which he paid the sum of $10 per year. The same meeting was the time of considering the building of a court house at Osawkie, and a tax of sixteen and two-third mills on the collar was voted for the purpose. W. H. Tebbs was appointed Superintendent of Public Buildings, and was ordered at once to let the contract for the building of a court house.
The first lawsuit in the county was in March, 1856, at Osawkie, before David R. Sprague, a Justice of the Peace. The case was a complaint on the part of the Territory of Kansas against Joseph Britton, charged with stealing a yoke of oxen and a bee-hive from Henry Evans. As this was the first lawsuit in the county a great deal of interest was manifested, and a large crowd of spectators were present. The Justice was impressed with the dignity of his position, and summoned a large number of witnesses, enough, though many of them knew nothing of the case, to frighten the poor prisoner half out of his wits. The examination of witnesses was a long and tedious one, and at the close the Justice made an entry in his docket in his own peculiar orthography, of which the following is an exact copy:
"Territory Against ] Justi's Dockett
Josef Britton ]
Josef Britton was tride for grand larseny and I acquit him of the bea hive but bound him over on the count of the Oxen under bound of five hundred dollars to appeare on the furst day of the Surcut cort and I swore the witnesses to appeare on the furst day of the turm and not to depart till regerly discharged."
At the meeting of the County Court in April, 1856, Jefferson Township was organized from the northern part of Slough Creek Township, and officers appointed. At the same meeting a liquor license was fixed at $25 per year, and as soon as it was entered on the records, William F. and George M. Dyer made application for, and received, a license to sell whiskey and other beverages, which they had been selling ever since at their location at Osawkie. At this meeting the first road in the county was located from Osawkie, east, toward Alexandria, on Stranger Creek, in Leavenworth County. William Meredith, William Stagg, and Adam Christison were appointed Road Viewers.
The Territorial road, located as above, was designed to open communities with Kansas City. To survey and lay out this road in Jefferson County, James, Thomas, and Jesse Noble was appointed Commissioners, and J. T. Green and William Trapp were appointed chain-carriers. For their services the parties above named received compensation as follows in county warrants: James Nobel, $40.50; Thomas Noble, $16; Jesse Noble, $16; and J. T. Green and William Trapp $6 each. The road did the county little or no good and disappeared long ago, except in places where it forms a public highway for short distances.
At their meeting in May, 1856, the County Court organized Kentucky Township and appointed town officers. Under the old Territorial law the Sheriff was Tax Collector. The first taxes collected were by George M. Dyer, who had been appointed Sheriff on the first organization of the county. His first report was in September, 1856 and was as follows:
County tax for 1855........................... $17.80
Special tax for 1855.............................. 3.10
County tax for 1856............................. 46.89
Special tax for 1856.............................. 7.52
Tax collected on liquor shops........... 222.50
Total tax collected.......................... $297.81
Sheriff's commission............................ 9.72
Balance in County Treasury............ $288.09
At the above date fifteen dram shops in the county were paying a tax.
The first orders for money, or county warrants, were issued for services in laying out the Territorial road in 1856, and as follows: J. T. Green, $24; Thomas H. Noble, $25; and William Trapp, $4.50. None of the above warrants have yet been cancelled. The next warrant was issued to N. B. Hopewell, and was not cancelled until August, 1864.
Early in 1858 the Legislature passed a bill allowing Jefferson County to vote for a relocation of the county seat. The election was held a short time afterward, and though there is no public record of the result, A. G. Patrick has preserved the figures. There were five places voted for, and the election resulted as follows: Oskaloosa, 177 votes; Grasshopper Falls, 173 votes; Osawkie, 94 votes; Hickory Point, 50 votes and Fairfield 10 votes. The above named Hickory Point was not the historic place on the military freight road, but was situated a short distance southwest on the northeast corner of Section 6, Town 9, Range 19, and was laid off as a town. The old point was in town history known as Hardtville, having been laid off as a town by Charles Hardt. Fairfield had been laid off as a town on the south one-half of the northeast one-fourth of Section 1., Town 9, Range 18. At the election, Oskaloosa having received four votes more that either of the other places, the county records and offices were removed to that town.
Early in 1859 the Legislature passed a law requiring that the point selected as the county-seat should have a majority of votes over all the others' and that should a choice not them be made, another election would be held thirty days after, between the two places receiving the largest number of votes at the first election. Therefore, another election was held soon after, and with the following result: Oskaloosa, 294 votes; Grasshopper Falls, 271 votes; Osawkie, 103 votes' Defiance 3 votes and Hickory Point, 170 votes.
Neither place receiving a majority of all the votes cast, another election was held between Oskaloosa and Grasshopper falls. The former town was was victorious by a small majority.
Early in 1858, the Legislature passed a law requiring that township officers should be elected in April, and that instead of having a Board of County Commissioners, the township Trustees should form a Board of Supervisors for the county. According, an election of Trustees was held in April, of that year. The County Board, organized at Osawkie, in June, and was made up as follows: Jesse Newell, Oskaloosa; R. J. Duncan, Rock Creek; S. S. Ellis, Grasshopper Falls; Alexander Bayne, Kentucky; J. C. Manee, Jefferson and A. W. McCauslin, Osawkie. The last named was chosen chairman and Jno. W. Day clerk. At this first meeting the name of Slough Creek Township was changed to Oskaloosa.
By an act of the Legislature, early in 1860, the County Board of Supervisors was abolished, and the board of three County Commissioners substituted in its place. The first election was held in March, and Nelson Chapman, George Barrett, and W. C. Butts were elected Commissioners, and Jesse Ball, County Assessor. The new board organized April 2, and W. C. Butts was elected chairman.
After Kansas was admitted as a State, in 1861, the first members of the Legislature elected from Jefferson County were Paul E. Havens, Azel W. Spaulding and J. M. Huber. At that time Jefferson County formed a part of the district. The first Legislature redistricted the State, making Jefferson County a single senatorial district, and divided it into three representative districts, known as the 19th, 20th and 21st. The 19th comprised Jefferson, Oskaloosa and Union townships; the 20th, Grasshopper Falls and Rock Creek Townships, and the 21st the remainder of the county. These districts remained unchanged until 1871, when the Legislature changed their numbers to 16th, 17th and 18th.
At the first election of county officers, after the admission of the State, in 1861, M. R. Dutton was elected Clerk; S. C. Gephart, Register of Deeds; N. W. Taylor, Sheriff; S. S. Cooper, Treasurer; Jno. W. Day, Judge, and Newell Colby, Superintendent of Schools N. Chapman, J. P. Barnes and Allen Griffin were elected Commissioners.
Early in the year 1864, the Legislature passed an act authorizing Jefferson County to vote on a re-location of the county-seat. Therefore, that spring an election was held which resulted as follow: Oskaloosa, 402 votes; Grasshopper Falls, 269 votes; Osawkie, 198 votes. Neither place having received a majority of all the votes cast, another election was held the following November, which gave Oskaloosa 579 votes and Grasshopper Falls 335 votes. This result ended the county-seat contest in Jefferson County and Oskaloosa has ever since been the capital of the county, with no prospects of its removal.
On the night of December 27, 1865, the county safe was robbed The Treasurer, S. C. Gephart, had just made his settlement with the county, and had but little money on hand, but this was all taken. It was never know positively who committed the robbery, but several parties were suspected of having been implicated, and were warned to leave the country, which they did. Some time afterward, while some of the outhouses on the property that had been occupied by W. L. Deming and Peter Dittman, two of the men driven away, were being pulled down, some of the money was found. This was the only clue to the robbers.
A courthouse was begun in 1867 and completed about two years afterward. During the years 1871 and 1872, bridge bonds for a large amount were voted and bridge building and other public improvements were carried on to a much greater extent that at any other period in the history of the county, either before or since.
County Treasury Defalcation.--In July, 1873, when the County Treasurer, Robert Riddle, made his settlement with the County Commissioners, his cash account was found deficient to the sum of about $27,000. He was unable to explain the deficiency, and claimed to know nothing of what had become of the money, but admitted his careless methods of doing business. The most of the county money was deposited with the Valley Bank, at Grasshopper Falls. At the request of the Commissioners, Mr. Riddle resigned at once. A few days after he was arrested, and on July 25 was examined before Justice Wm. Clark, and bound over in the sum of $5,000.
The treasury troubles gave rise to several law-suits. The County Commissioners began suit against Riddle's bondsmen. The bondsmen began suit against Riddle, and Riddle began suit against the Valley Bank. Riddle was tried for embezzlement in May, 1874. All the amounts were stricken out, except $6,000, and on which charge he was tried and acquitted, the jury taking the grounds that the loss was through carelessness in his deposits and keeping his books, rather than any criminality. In December, 1874, the County Commissioner comprised with Riddle's bondsmen for $12,000, and this put an end to the troubles.
Early Schools. -- The first public school districts were organized in 1859. At the fall election of 1858, J. H. Bennett had been elected Superintendent of Schools, but did not qualify for the office, as there were no schools. In January, 1859, he received a number of applications for the formation of school districts. He therefore appeared before the County Board of Supervisors, applied for, and received the appointment of County Superintendent of Schools.
To Jesse B. Taylor, who lived at Hart's Grove, is the credit due for the movements made toward the organization of the first school district in the county. He had but one child, a girl four years of age, but he was public-spirited, and an advocate of public schools The district was known as the Rothchild District, an a petition was presented to J. H. Bennett, who organized the district with the boundaries as requested. Below is an exact copy of the petition:
We, the undersigned citizens of Rothchilds District, do pray the Honorable County School Commissioners of Jefferson County and Territory of Kansas, to grant a school district as follows Commence at the N. E. Corner of the N. E. qr. of Sec. No. 5, of Township No. 8, of Range No. 19, thence West on the Township line to the North West corner of the N. E. qr. of Section No. two of Township No. 8, of Range No. 18, thence South on the line to the South West corner of the S. E. qr. of Section No. 4, of Township No. 8, of Range No. 18, hence East of the S. E. corner of the S. W. qr. of Section 17, of Township No. 8, of Range No. 19, thence to the place of beginning.
J. B. Taylor, B. Freeze,
Jno. W. Welch, E. P. Hart,
Hiram Webb, M. Schiffbauer,
Josephus Goble, Mary A. Goddard,
D. Webb, Mrs. Rhoda Akers.
M. N. Hart.
The above district was duly organized on February 21, 1859, and was recorded as District No. 1, or Rothchilds District. The first school meeting was held at the house of M. N. Hart, March 9, 1859. M. N. Hart was elected director, J. B. Taylor, treasurer, and Hiram Webb, clerk. A small log cabin was secured, and three months' term of school was taught that year, beginning in May. Seventeen pupils were enrolled. Miss Esther A. Webb was the teacher, and her salary was ten dollars per month. She received the first teacher's certificate ever granted in the county, taught the first school, and received the first public school money ever paid out. She was married February 29, 1879, to James D. Bullock.
The second district in the county was also in Jefferson Township, and was known as the Hull District. The petition was dated February 21, 1859, and was filed March 1st, on which day the district was organized by the county superintendent. The district comprised sections 1, 2, 3, 10,11, 12, 13, 14, and 15, of Town 8, Range 19, of the Delaware trust lands.
At the school meeting on March 21 at the residence of Frank Lillie, Lewis Bradshaw was elected director, Thomas A. Marshall, treasurers, and Jess Ball, clerk. They filed their acceptance the next day, and at once let a contract for the building of the schoolhouse which was completed about the same time as was the log cabin in District No. 1, but having some trouble with the contractors, relative to payment, the house was soon burned down. The fire was doubtless incendiary. The house was located on the center of SEction 11, on land donated by Thomas Marshall and Frank Lillie. A term of school was taught during the summer by D. L. Griffin, who received $37 per month. There were sixty-six pupils in attendance. During the year, District No. 2 received $233.31 from the township, as a teachers' fund. A schoolhouse was built at a cost of $480
During the year 1859, J. H. Bennett organized nine school districts in the county. At that time the superintendent of schools had entire control of all public school money. The full amount paid to Mr. Bennett for his services during the year was $113.40, which was paid in county script, which he sold to John Beland for forty cents on the dollar. In the year 1860 there was eighteen schools in the county. There were 447 children of school age. and 185 pupils enrolled in the schools. The amount of money raised to build schoolhouses was $456.34. The amount of public school money for that year was $787.50.
Present Condition of the County
Since the year 1875 there have been no grasshopper visitations, no drouth, or any causes to prevent a large average crop yield. The main resources of the county are agricultural, and the farmers are generally in a prosperous condition, and fine orchards, good fences, and neat and convenient house and other buildings ornament their farms.
Railroads intersect all parts of the county, so that no farm is more than seven miles from some railroad town. There is not large city in the county, but numerous towns, affording good markets, are located at short distance from each other, along all the lines of railroad. The population of the county is nearly sixteen thousand, and by far the great majority of these are farmers.
Of the 435,000 acres of land in the county, 240,000 are under cultivation, of which 45,000 acres are devoted to wheat, 70,000 to corn, 9,000 to oats, 11,000 to flax, and 3,000 to meadow. The live stock numbers 7,000 hours, 1,000 mules, 30, 000 cattle, 4,000 sheep and 30,000 hogs. The total value of farm property, according to a low assessment, is $1,772-993..97.
The public interests of the county are ably managed, and with very few exceptions have been so ever since its organization. The county does not owe a dollar, and its internal improvements are well kept up. Wood bridges span the streams in all parts of the county, while within the past four years many iron bridges have been erected. More than forty of these now span the large streams, the roads are generally kept in good condition, and travel in any direction is very easy.
County Officers.--The county officers for 1882 are as follows: Benjamin Bowlby, O. W. Glynn, and J. P. Barnes, County Commissioners; J. R. Best, Clerk, Levi Wilhelm, Treasurer; George Davis, Sheriff; J. P. Wilson, District Court Clerk; G. A. Huron, Probate Judge; W. C. Fowler, Register of Deeds; H. B. Schaffer, County Attorney; T. S. Oliver, Superintendent of Schools; J. H. Jones County Surveyor, and J. F. Bliss, Coroner.
County Buildings.--The court house is a fine two story brick building, 50x70 feet in size, and is situated in the center of the public square, which is finely ornamented by a grove of tall maple trees, so thickly set as to shade all over the square, and make one of the finest of parks. The public square is on the most elevated ground in the city of Oskaloosa, and around it is build a wall of finely cut stone, inside of which it is filled even with its top with earth, and all sown to orchard grass.
The history of the building of the court house is as follows: On April 3, 1867, the county commissioners ordered that a court house should be erected forthwith. On June 3, of the same year, a contract was entered into with Graham & Swain, to build the house accordingly to specifications, for $22,875. Work as commenced the same year, and in due time as completed, but the entire cost, with some extra work, was $28,257.04. On the first floor are the county offices, all of which are supplied with fire and burglar proof vaults. The second story is the court room.
The county poor house was built some time after the completion of the court house, and though not very large, is sufficient for the needs of the county, there being but very few paupers within its limits.
The county jail is a substantial stone building, and situated on the public square. It contains steel cages capable of holding eight persons in the cells, and an equal number in the corridor, besides a large space in the outer court.
Schools.--The first public school districts were formed in 1859, and those of that year were nine in number. These had increased in number until the beginning of the year 1865, when there were twenty organized districts, though but few of them had schoolhouses other than log cabins, poorly furnished. Until the close of the war it was difficult to procure good teachers, and up to that time the public schools advanced but slowly.
Late in the year 1865 there began to be more attention given to the schools, and to the importance of securing good teachers. The greater number of the old districts had to be reorganized, and during the next four years about fifty more were added to the number, and the grade of teachers had been brought up to a high standard, so that in point of ability they would compare favorably with those of the present time. The old log schoolhouses, with benches for seats, began about this time to give place to neat, attractive, and well furnished schoolhouses.
Until the present date the schools have continued to improve. There are now ninety-one school districts in the county, each district having sufficient territory to keep up a school from six to nine months during the year, without a very heavy school tax. The greater number of them have large, commodious houses, furnished with the most improved seats and other appurtenances, with suitable apparatus to assist the teacher. The average wages paid to teachers is $35 per month.
Churches.--Church organizations of the various denominations exist in every community in the county. In every township are church edifices, and in those communities where there are none the schoolhouses are used for religious services. The people are moral and religious in sentiment, and may be said to be, in general, church-goers. The greater number of those not members of any society are regular attendants on divine service, and all religious enterprises are liberally supported by the citizens of the county. In almost every community is a Sunday school, with good attendance by both old and young.
The Jefferson County Agricultural and Mechanical Association was organized in October, 1861. The first officers were as follows; President, Allen Griffin; Vice-President, Nelson Chapman; Secretary, Paul E. Havens; Treasurer, L. B. Conwell; Directors, Levi Wilhelm, Joseph Evans, David McKelvey, J. M. Huber, G. L. Osborne, J. F. Bliss, and A. J. Kleinhans. The first fair was held on October 15 and 16, 1862 and there was a very good exhibit. The association has ever since been kept up, and the eighteenth annual fair has now been held. There have been three years when it was thought best not to make an exhibit.
The Valley Falls District Fair Association was organized and the first fair held in the fall of 1879. The object of this society is to afford a convenient point for the exhibition of agricultural and mechanical products from the territory naturally tributary to Valley Falls. The fourth annual fair has been held, each of which has been a success in every particular.
The Mount Union Co-operative Fair Association was organized in 1881, and the first fair held that year. It is a society organized by the farmers of Norton Township. Its object is to make an exhibit of farm products and live stock, for which no money premiums are offered, but the grades are designated simply by the badges awarded. The second annual fair has been held. No entrance fee is charged either to exhibitors or spectators. Thus far the fairs have proven very successful. The first officers of the association were: Wm. Vanata, president, and H. C. Magers, secretary.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,442 km² (557 mi²), of which 1,389 km² (536 mi²) is land and 54 km² (21 mi²), or 3.74%, is water
Jefferson County's population was estimated to be 18,848 in the year 2006, an increase of 381, or +2.1%, over the previous six years.
As of the U.S. Census in 2000, there were 18,426 people, 6,830 households, and 5,190 families residing in the county. The population density was 13/km² (34/mi²). There were 7,491 housing units at an average density of 5/km² (14/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.70% White, 0.92% Native American, 0.37% Black or African American, 0.17% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.42% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.28% of the population.
There were 6,830 households out of which 35.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.20% were married couples living together, 7.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.00% were non-families. 20.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.07.
In the county the population was spread out with 27.40% under the age of 18, 7.00% from 18 to 24, 28.00% from 25 to 44, 24.90% from 45 to 64, and 12.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 102.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.90 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $45,535, and the median income for a family was $50,557. Males had a median income of $36,174 versus $25,468 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,373. About 5.30% of families and 6.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.90% of those under age 18 and 7.70% of those age 65 or over.
Cities and towns
Name and population (2004 estimate):
Valley Falls, 1,209
Oskaloosa, 1,148 (county seat)
Unified school districts
Valley Falls USD 338
Jefferson County USD 339
Jefferson West USD 340
Oskaloosa USD 341
McLouth USD 342
Perry USD 343