In the bluff and highland in Range 9 large quantities of coal are being mined for fuel. This coal burns very readily but is not so solid as the Leavenworth or Fort Scott coal. Considerable quantities of zinc are found in the cinders. New banks are being opened in Grant Township, at present writing.
On Salt Creek several salt springs and marshes occur. They are not being utilized at present, except by holders of large herds of cattle who occasionally drive them over this salt lick or range.
Lincoln County is largely open to range and is considered a good grazing county. It has never been a very productive corn county, the average yield this year (1882) being less than eighteen bushels per acre, the total crop of the county being about 600,000 bushels. Winter wheat, however, is more to be relied upon and is consequently the favorite crop of the farmers. In 1882, 33,609 acres were devoted to this crop with an average yield of twenty bushels per acre, making a total yield of 672,180 bushels. This is hauled to Salina, Ellsworth, Minneapolis and Beloit for shipment. Spring wheat has almost entirely gone out of date. Rye and oats are generally a good crop, 127,260 bushels of the former, and 123,640 bushels of the latter being raised in 1882. About 2,000 acres of broom corn were planted and a yield of 1,120,200 pounds was the result.
Lincoln County reports about 11,000 head of cattle and 6,000 head each of swine and sheep. Many more are herded here during the summer but are withdrawn to feed during the winter.
The Indians did not abandon the Saline Valley peaceably by any means, as many of the early settlers live to testify. In June, 1867, a party of "Dogs," as unauthorized bands of renegade Indians are called, made a raid down Spillman Creek and captured Mrs. Bacon, wife of David G. Bacon, Mrs. Shaw and her sister, Miss Foster. After subjecting them to the most brutal treatment the brutes could conceive they tied them hand and foot and staked them out on the prairie, where they were found nearly two days after by their friends who had escaped. As early as 1864, four buffalo hunters named Houston, Taylor, and brothers named Moffat were surprised in camp near Rocky Hill and killed by the Cheyennes.
It was at the mouth of Spillman Creek in this county, in August, 1868, that Martin Hendrickson found two little girls, aged six and nine years, who had been nearly three days without food. They proved to be the daughters of Aaron Bell, who had been captured near Beloit (see Mitchell County History). Mr. Hendrickson felt an uncontrollable impulse to go up the river six miles, and, although urged to remain at home by his family, he went, with the result stated. Mr. Hendrickson thinks an allwise Providence ordered him to go for the special purpose of saving the little ones.
On the 30th day of May, 1869, quite a large party of "Dogs" appeared in the Saline Valley and commenced their fiendish work. Their first victim was J. H. Strange, a son of J. S. Strange, one of the earliest settlers. Young Strange and a German boy named Smoots were hunting in the breaks of the Spillman when the Indians came upon them and, professing to be good Pawnees, managed to get close enough to shoot Strange with an arrow, and crush his skull with a war club. Smoots ran for his life but was hit by a bullet from a rifle, from which wound he died shortly after.
Two Danes were killed four miles west of Lincoln Center; and six miles up Spillman Creek a woman escaped, and an attempt to recapture caused an Indian to brain her with a tomahawk. Mrs. Alderdice and her little child, six months old, and the wife of one of the Danes above mentioned, were captured. Mrs A. was afterward killed by her captors, and on the second day of the retreat her little child was left hanging to a tree in sight of their camp. A four-year-old son of Mrs. A., named Willis Daly, was shot through the back by an arrow and his mother supposed him to be dead, but two days after the raid Thomas Noon found the boy, being attracted by his moans.
The arrow had gone through his body and was sticking fast in his breast bone. In his struggles he had broken it off underneath the skin on his back. Phillip Lautz and Washington Smith, by the aid of a pair of cobbler's pinchers, pulled out the arrow and saved the boy's life. In order to get hold of the arrow with the pinchers, one pressed down on the boy's back until the arrow protruded from the inflamed wound. Willis Daly is now a resident of Lincoln County. Seven were killed and four wounded on this raid. (It is impossible to get the names of the Danes, as they were land-seekers and had not made their names known.)
The settlement of Lincoln County commenced in 1865 by George Green, E. E. Johnson, R. B. Clark, D. C. Skinner, J. M. Adams, Isaac DeGraff, and W. E. Thompson. In the spring of 1866, about June 25, Washington Smith, W. T. Wild, John Dart and two young men named Peate and Gaskill became permanent residents of Lincoln. October 4, 1866, M. D. Green, Martin and William Hendrickson, Volany Ball, John S. Strange, David G. Bacon, M. Zeigler, Thomas Noon, J. C. Parks and families settled throughout the county. For several years buffalo hunting was the chief pursuit.
County Organization, Etc.
It was not until 1870 that any move was made toward a county organization. On the 6th of October of that year a meeting of the Special Board of County Commissioners appointed by the Governor for the purpose of organizing the county was held. Present: John S. Strange, Washington Smith and Isaac DeGraff; F. A. Schermerhorn, Special Clerk. The board divided the county into four townships and ordered an election Nov. 8, 1870. Colorado Township was composed of townships 12 and 13 in range 6.
Elkhorn was composed of townships 12 and 13 in range 7, and south half of township 12 in range 8, and south half of 12 in range 9, and south half of 12 in range 10, and townships 13 in ranges 8, 9, and 10. Indiana Township comprised the congressional townships 10 and 11 in range 6, and 10 and 11 in range 7. Salt Creek Township included townships 10 and 11 in range 6, and 10 and 11 in range 7.
The election resulted in the choice of the following county officers: County Commissioners, John S. Strange, Cornelius Deits, James Wild; County Clerk, A. S. Potter; County Treasurer, Volany Ball; Probate Judge, D. C. Skinner; Registrar of Deeds, Thomas Walls; Sheriff, R. B. Clark; Coroner, Francis Seibers; County Attorney, M. D. Green; Clerk of Court, J. A. Cook; Surveyor, Patrick Lowe; Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Lyden; Representative, Ira C. Buzick. In the county seat contest 158 votes were cast, of which Abram received 75; Lincoln Center, 58; Elkhorn, 10; northwest quarter of section 9, township 12, range 7, 15. The last named votes were not counted because the words "county seat" were not written thereon.
The county-seat location turned out in Lincoln to be the source of much strife. In April, 1871, the Board of Commissioners were petitioned to call an election to re-locate. At their May meeting another additional petition was presented and both were laid over until the July meeting. At a special meeting June 10, called by the order of Judge Canfield in a writ of mandamus demanding action of the board on the laid-over petitions, the petitions were rejected.
The town company of Abram presented the county with a deed to the lot on which the temporary court-house was then standing. On the 19th of February, 1872, an election was held to re-locate the county seat, at which 408 votes were cast. Lincoln Center received 232; Abram, 176.
During the time that the last election was pending, a quarrel arose between Ezra Hubbard and John Haley in reference to a stick of timber which Hubbard was about to place in his mill then building just below Abram. The dispute grew fierce and Hubbard seized a carbine and shot and killed Haley. Hubbard was arrested and placed under guard at Abram, and in the evening a mob of forty men in several degrees of intoxication forced open the doors, wounded Hubbard and left him to die. Ascertaining shortly after that he was likely to recover, they again entered the building and, placing a stone under the wounded man's head, beat his brains out with a mallet. This incident was used as an argument for the removal of the county seat. Hon. Ira C. Buzick was tried for the murder of Hubbard and acquitted. The armed guard who had Hubbard in charge was, three years later, murdered and thrown in a well, where his body was discovered nearly three weeks after his disappearance. This murder, however, had no connection with the Haley-Hubbard affair of 1872.
On the first of April, 1873, bonds amounting to $4,000 were voted to build a court-house. The present county officers are: Commissioners, M. A. Jackson, J. S. Nygaard, James Little; Probate Judge, A. Artman; County Clerk, H. Hammer; Sheriff, Harry Trask; Registrar of Deeds, A. S. Robinson; Clerk of Court, J. D. Miller; County Treasurer, Ed. M. Harris; County Attorney, Geo. W. Finch; County Superintendent of Public Instruction, A. T. Biggs; Surveyor, Samuel Bloomfield; Coroner, Dr. Frank Coggswell. The Representatives in the State Legislature since the organization of the county have been in regular order; Ira C. Buzick, Alonzo Schermerhorn, George Green, Volany Ball, J. B. Goff, E. S. Pierce, Reuben Williams, W. S. Wait, George W. Anderson, R. F. Bryant.
Lincoln County has ever been ambitious to excel in school matters. The first school taught in the county was at the house of Martin Hendrickson in 1868 by Marion Ivy. The second school was taught in 1869 by David G. Bacon in a dugout near the same place. The first public school was in District No. 2, at Monroe, by Mrs. Skinner, in 1870. The county now has seventy-eight school districts with good comfortable buildings, valued at $19,250. The school expenses for the year ending July 31, 1882 were $10,935. The county has 2,888 children of school age, 2,267 of which are enrolled, and 1,510 of which are in daily attendance. The average salary of male teachers is $25 per month, and females, $22.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,865 km² (720 mi²). 1,862 km² (719 mi²) of it is land and 3 km² (1 mi²) of it (0.15%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,578 people, 1,529 households, and 1,039 families residing in the county. The population density was 2/km² (5/mi²). There were 1,853 housing units at an average density of 1/km² (3/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.30% White, 0.11% Black or African American, 0.48% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.25% from other races, and 0.75% from two or more races. 1.03% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,529 households out of which 27.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.10% were married couples living together, 6.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.00% were non-families. 29.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.81.
In the county the population was spread out with 23.50% under the age of 18, 5.50% from 18 to 24, 22.90% from 25 to 44, 24.60% from 45 to 64, and 23.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 96.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.40 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $30,893, and the median income for a family was $36,538. Males had a median income of $24,681 versus $20,000 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,788. About 7.30% of families and 9.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.70% of those under age 18 and 10.00% of those age 65 or over.
Cities and towns
Name and population (2004 estimate):
Lincoln Center, 1,270 (county seat)
Sylvan Grove, 301
Unified school districts
Lincoln USD 298
Sylvan Grove USD 299