The Early History of Linn County
By William G. Cutler (1883)
Linn County is situated in the eastern tier of counties next to Missouri, and in the third tier south from the Kansas River. The southern boundary of the county is three miles north of the thirty-eighth parallel of north latitude. It is bounded on the north by Miami County, on the east by Missouri, on the south by Bourbon County and on the west by Anderson County. The county was named "Linn" in honor of Lewis F. Linn, a distinguished United States Senator from Missouri. The Bogus Legislature passed an act bounding Linn County, as follows:
Beginning at the southeast corner of Miami County; thence south twenty-four(24) miles; thence west twenty-four (24) miles; thence north twenty four (24) miles to the southwest corner of Miami county; thence east twenty-four (24) miles to the place of beginning.
As thus defined the county contained 576 square miles, or 368,640 acres. These were the boundaries and area of the county until March 3, 1868, when an act of the Legislature was approved by which the boundaries were defined as follows:
Beginning at the southeast corner of Miami County; thence south along the west boundary of the State of Missouri to the corner on said line to Fractional Sections thirteen and twenty-four, Township twenty-three south, of Range twenty-five east; thence west along the section lines to the corner of Sections fourteen, fifteen, twenty-two and twenty-three, Township twenty-three south, of Range twenty-one east; thence north along the section lines between the second and third tiers of sections to the southwest corner of Miami County; thence east along the south boundary of Miami County to the place of beginning.
By this act a strip varying in width from one-half mile at the northwest corner of the county to nearly a mile and a half at the southwest corner, was added to the west side of the county, and the area was increased to something over 400,000 acres.
A local chronicler writes that the authorities knew so little about boundary lines that they "exercised jurisdiction over a three mile strip of Miami County territory up to 1858, and held elections upon it and made their returns to the County Seat of Linn County!"
It also related of some of the early settlers on the Miami Indian Reservation that they were equally as anxious to take advantage of such residence and thus avoid the payment of taxes, as they were to exercise the right of suffrage at election time.
The general surface of the county is undulating, about eighty per cent being uplands and the balance bottom land. The uplands average from fifty to seventy-five feet above the bottom lands, and the highest elevation in the county, Silver Hill near La Cygne, is about three hundred feet above the waters of the Marais des Cygnes. The valley of the latter stream averages a little more than two miles wide, while those of the other streams average half a mile in width. The soil of Linn County is no exception to that of all Eastern Kansas, being exceedingly productive all over the county.
On the uplands it is from one to three feet deep; in the valleys from two to five. It is generally underlaid with limestone, but in some places is found a species of "cotton" stone or magnesia limestone, similar to the "Fontana marble" in Miami County, and in the vicinity of Barnard and La Cygne an excellent quality of sandstone has been quarried. In the eastern part of the county coal crops out of nearly all the hills, shafts have been sunk and the coal, which is generally of good quality, is quite extensively mined for local purposes.
Timber. - The timber belts are generally of about the same width as the valleys, and in the aggregate cover about 10 per cent of the county. The principal varieties are ash, box elder, elm, hickory, cottonwood, oak, sycamore and black walnut. The Marais des Cygnes and its tributaries are heavily timbered. The principal stream in this county, as in Miami, is the Marais des Cygnes. It enters from the north and flows southeastwardly into Missouri. Its tributaries from the east are Middle Creek and North Sugar, both of which rise in Miami County, and flow southward, emptying into the Marais des Cygnes within a short distance of each other. From the west this stream receives Elm Creek, which rises in Liberty Township; Big Sugar Creek, which rises in Anderson County, besides a few smaller streams. Little Sugar Creek rises in Blue Mound Township and flows into Big Sugar Creek about four miles from its mouth. Goodrich and Deer Creeks are the two branches of Big Sugar. Mine Creek flows northeastwardly into the Missouri, emptying into the Marais des Cygnes a short distance from the State line. Lost Creek rises in the southern part of the county and flows southeasterly into Bourbon County. The county is well supplied with springs, and good well water is obtainable at an average depth of twenty-five feet.
The Miami Reservation originally extended southward to within three miles of the southern boundary of the county. In 1858, the reserve was diminished, and the southern boundary of it established about two miles north of the fourth parallel, and, in 1882, the residue was finally disposed of by congressional enactment opening it up to ownership and taxation.
In 1838, a tract south of the Miami lands and extending to the Cherokee lands was set apart for the New York Indians. This reservation was bounded on the east by Missouri, was twenty-two miles wide from north to south, and extended westward far enough to embrace 1,824,000 acres, 320 acres for each member of the tribe. Before that time, however, a permanent settlement was made by white men at Trading Post, for the purpose of trading with the Indians then in the vicinity. This was in 1834, when Girard and Chouteau established the post as agents of the Northwestern Fur Company. The value of the furs collected at this and other posts in this region amounted annually for a number of years to $300,000. The Indians received payment therefor in tobacco, trinkets and whiskey.
With the exception of M. Dutisne, Girard and Chouteau were probably the first white men in what is now Linn County. Hale says in his "Kansas and Nebraska:" "M. Dutisne, a French officer, was sent from New Orleans in 1719 by Bienville, the Governor, into the territory west of the Mississippi. He visited the villages of the Osage Indians, five miles from the Osage River, at eighty leagues above its mouth." These Osage villages were probably near the southeastern part of Linn County, and Dutisne's line of travel would hence be through the counties of Linn, Miami, Franklin, Osage, Lyon, Morris, Davis, and then on westward, passing near Fort Riley. As early as 1827, United States troops were stationed where now stands Fort Leavenworth. Up to 1832, it was called a cantonment; then it became a fort. In 1842, Fort Scott was selected as a military post, and the troops stationed here, as well as at Fort Leavenworth, were employed to protect the trade of the frontier. A military road was constructed between the two forts soon after, and the roadway thrown up in the valley of the Marais des Cygnes, and remains of some of the bridges are still to be seen.
Previously, the deposit of lead near Mine Creek, at the place subsequently known as Potosi, was discovered by the French. The extent to which this metal was mined by them and the Indians is now merely conjectural; but the operations of mining seem to have been carried on for a considerable time, and to have been discontinued only because they were unprofitable. And it is probable that it was during the continuance of these operations that the Marais des Cygnes River received its name; as the tradition is that the French, after passing up the Osage above the mouth of the Little Osage, observed that the marshes of this river contained numerous swans, applied the name, Marais des Cygnes (marsh of swans) to the river above that point, the mouth of the Little Osage.
During the winter of 1853-54, as soon as it became reasonably certain that the territory west of Missouri would be thrown open to settlement, numerous squatters established themselves on claims in the timber along the many wooded streams in Linn County. Their primary idea was to get away from progress. After becoming located, then, in many cases, their primary idea was to keep progress away from them. They were Pro-slavery. The first to settle in the county with the view to making improvements were James Osborne and Adam Pore. They took claims in January, 1854, at the head of Little Sugar Creek, about two miles from the present site of Mound City. D. W. Cannon, John Brown and William H. Murray, all Pro-slavery, and William Park, James Osborne and James Montgomery, Free-State, came in the same year; the latter, in August, buying the claim on which he lived the rest of his life, for $11, paying $5 down, and promising to pay the additional $6 sometime in the future.
In Liberty Township, in 1854, William Kirk, P. H. Thomas, James Walker, Thomas Day and Robert Cottle made settlements. These went away during the troubles of 1856, the last three returning in the fall of that year. In 1857, D. Underhill with his family, and Thomas Cottle moved in. When this township was first organized, it was named Jackson, after Isaiah Jackson, the only Pro-slavery man in it. In 1858, after Jackson had left the Territory upon the kindly advice of Montgomery, the name of the township was changed to Liberty.
Jackson had done many things which made him obnoxious to the free-State men, and in their behalf Montgomery gave him notice to leave. Acting upon this notice he left, but returned in August and resumed his residence. In November, a couple of unknown men called upon him ostensibly to look at his claim with the view of buying it, and attempted to decoy him away from his house for the purpose of killing him, but could not get him away from home. One of them fired upon him, slightly wounding him in the shoulder. He then left the county the second time, and in about a month returned again to make preparations to leave the Territory permanently.
The Free-State men, supposing him to have returned to again resume his residence, captured him and took him to Montgomery. Montgomery received him kindly, kept him all night at his house, preached him a sermon and sent him away with the admonition that, as the Free-State men were determined he should not stay, he had better leave for good. Expecting to be murdered immediately upon being placed in Montgomery's power, he was overjoyed at his kind treatment, and praised Montgomery very highly, saying he was one of the finest men he had ever met - doubtless a truthful tribute.
In Valley Township, the following parties settled in the years named: Samuel Nichols, 1854; James Martin, Thomas Polk, Jacob McCoy and others, in 1855; John R. ("Uncle Jacky") Williams, N. M. Hawk and others, in 1856; William and Asa Hairgrove, and Amos and Austin Hall in 1857; C. C. Hadsall and Joseph and William Goss, in 1858.
In Stanton Township the following were early settlers: John Speer, in 1855; Jonathan Swaggerty, in 1856; Charles Campbell and Levi P. and E. M. Tucker, in 1858.
In Potosi Township the following were among the first settlers: Chesley Hart, in 1854; David Lindsey, John Baugh and Washington and Russell Hinds, in 1855; John Elsrode and John Turner, in 1856; Thomas Speakes and John W. Garrett, in 1857. In Scott Township, Samuel Scott was the first settler, in 1854.
In Sheridan Township the first settlers were Thomas Ferguson and Fabian Rice, in 1855, and Frank Laberdy and Joseph Smith in 1856.
Early Political Troubles
The first convention in the county was held at Sugar Mound February 20, 1855. The object of the convention was to nominate candidates for the Territorial Legislature, the election for which was to be held March 30, following. The convention was called by James P. Fox, and met at a small Pro-slavery or whisky grocery kept by Mr. Miller. As Mr. Fox was instrumental in calling the convention, as the nature and action of the convention were mainly determined by the course of Mr. Fox himself and the opposition thereto by others, and as we refer to him only incidentally in other portions of the history, we introduce here a brief sketch of this somewhat remarkable man.
He was one of the earliest settlers in the county, and settled on a claim, which, in the early part of 1856, he skillfully managed to have selected as the town site of Paris and the county seat. He was by nature and education a Pro-slavery man, and evidently en rapport with the leaders of the Pro-slavery party. It was their determination to elect a Pro-slavery Legislature, and his desire to be elected a member of that Pro-slavery Legislature. There was an understanding between them and him in regard to his candidature. He was to secure the nomination, and they were to furnish votes enough, from Missouri if necessary, to elect him. His name was Fox, and he had Indian blood coursing in his veins.
Had the Indians named him, following their general rule of applying names from the most pronounced characteristics, they would doubtless have chosen "Fox" for his surname, from the slyness and cunningness of his nature. Most of the voters in the district were free-State men, and most of them, too, although temperance men, loved their dram. No prohibitory laws were in force, neither did public opinion require their enactment. Fox was well aware of this falling of his neighbors, and for some weeks prior to the convention was accustomed to meet, on Saturday of each week, at Miller's grocery at Sugar Mound, such of the thirsty souls as might chance to come in on that day from their claims. On these occasions, news was disseminated, jokes were cracked, neighborhood matters were discussed, politics were debated and whisky flowed freely at the expense of Mr. Fox.
At last the day of the convention came. it had been heralded abroad by nailing a written notice three days beforehand on Miller's grocery door. On account of the limited time given, many living even in the vicinity failed to hear that a convention had been called. On the day appointed the convention met, and Mr. Glover was made chairman. James Montgomery, who lived but five miles west of Sugar Mound, and not heard of the calling of the convention, but happening to come to town that day was chosen Secretary.
Mr. Glover stated the object of the convention to be that of nominating candidates for the Legislature. Names were submitted, and immediate balloting favored by some. Fr. Fox delivered a speech, carefully couched in language calculated to keep out of sight the one issue, slavery, in which all were most deeply interested, or to allay their solicitude in regard thereto, by assuring them that the time to raise that issue would not come until a convention should be called to frame a State constitution.
Mr. Turner, who was a Free-State Democrat, and who desired himself to be a candidate for the Legislature, saw plainly that, as the convention was constituted, he stood no chance of a nomination; so moved a postponement until the district could be notified. Mr. Fox, in a vigorous speech, opposed postponement, and it was voted down. Montgomery, who, up to this time, had been a silent but by no means disinterested observer of events, perceived what were the crafty designs of Mr. Fox, and resolved, if possible, to defeat them.
Accordingly he arose to address the convention, and said in substance that the Missourians had resolved to make Kansas a Slave State; that they were making extensive preparations to accomplish their designs; that the Organic Act conferred upon the settlers the right to determine the character of their own institutions; that for himself he was in favor of making it a Free State; that in order to make it a Free State it was necessary to elect Free-State men to the Legislature, and that in his opinion candidates for nomination to the Legislature should be required to express their opinions on the vital issue of the day. Other speakers followed in a similar strain, and finally Mr. Fox, seeing no way left to secure the nomination but by openly favoring making Kansas a Free State, publicly pledged himself to labor, if elected, to that end.
Montgomery having carried this point, next attempted to secure the adjournment of the convention to some future day, on the ground that as but few of the settlers were aware of the convention having been called, few of them were present, and that it would be best to adjourn, publish the re-assembling of the convention, and thus secure a general attendance of the people. In this also he was successful. At the second convention, the issue of Free or Salve State was put squarely before it. Col. Coffey was present, and made a speech in favor of a Slave State, full of the usual Pro-slavery sophistry of the day. At its close the Pro-slavery men were jubilant, the Free-State men despondent; Montgomery arose to address them, and with a master hand cleared away the cobwebs of Col. Coffey's argument, triumphantly established the principles of freedom and the policy of making Kansas free. James P. Fox and M. G. Morris received the nominations by the Free-State party for Councilmen, but at the election, March 30, 1855, A. M. Coffey and David Lykins, of Miami County, were elected. There were two precincts in Linn County at that election - Big Sugar and Little Sugar. At the first, there were cast for the Pro-slavery candidates 74 votes, and for the Free-State candidates, 17; of these, 32 were legal and 59 illegal. At Little Sugar precinct the Pro-slavery candidates received 34 votes and the Free-State 70, all legal votes. The voting place in the latter precinct was at Sugar Mound; in the former at "Keokuk," twelve miles northwest.
At the election held May 22, to fill vacancies occasioned by Gov. Reeder's withholding certificates from certain parties on account of frauds in the election of March 30, Augustus Wattles and William Jessee were elected Representatives from the Second District; but, on arriving at Pawnee, they were refused seats in the House.
To the Lecompton Constitutional Convention Linn county sent three delegates- J. H. Barlow, S. H. Hayze and George Overstreet. The number of voters in the county at the time of taking the census preparatory to this election, was 413; but the highest number cast was for H. H. Barlow, who received 124, the others each receiving 118. The Free-State men generally failed to vote, which was doubtless a great mistake. When it came to voting on the election of officers under that Constitution, there were 380 votes cast for the Pro-slavery candidate and 360 for the Free-State, and on the question of adopting the Constitution 510 votes were cast against it, 1 for it with slavery and 3 for it without slavery.
At the election for officers under the Lecompton Constitution, an incident occurred at Sugar Mound which illustrates the feeling of a portion of the Free-State party toward that instrument. The question throughout the Territory was whether to vote for officers under it. A convention assembled at Lawrence December 2, for the purpose of considering this question, at which resolutions were adopted repudiating the Lecompton Constitution, and denouncing the proposed elections of December 21 and January 4. A second convention to further consider the same question was held December 23, at which a resolution was adopted declaring that "The Free-State party will not participate in the election." The conservative element of this convention feeling that this result had been brought about unfairly by the peculiar tactics of Gen. Lane, immediately called a "mass convention," resolved to participate in the election, and nominated a "State" ticket, upon which G. W. Smith was the candidate for Governor.
The proceedings of this "Bolter's Convention," as it was called by the radical Free-State men, were published in the Herald of Freedom as the proceedings of the regular convention, and extra numbers of the paper quite extensively distributed throughout Linn County. The voters at Sugar Mound were mostly radical, and received the supposed decision of the regular convention with disappointment and many remonstrances; but as they came up to vote, being assured by the judges of election that the convention at Lawrence had decided to go into the election, they voted for the officers nominated at the "Bolter's Convention." Thus, they were really the victims of a misrepresentation.
About noon Montgomery arrived at the polls, and found in the post office, addressed to himself, a copy of the Lawrence Republican, containing a full history of the Lawrence Convention, both regular and "Bolters." He immediately saw what was the true state of affairs, and became exceedingly enraged. he determined to expose the imposition, and addressed the settlers present substantially in the following language:
"Freemen of Linn! I have defended your rights in the past, and I am here to defend them to-day. The ballot is to express the sentiments of free men, and the ballot box is sacred only when the ballots it contains are deposited without restraint by those who are so entitled to deposit them. When it does not contain such ballots it is no more the exponent of the will of the people than if it were surrounded by armed invaders who deterred the legal voters from the exercise of their legal rights. How is it with the ballot box before us? Does it express the sentiments of the voters of Sugar Mound? No; you have been deceived! There is nothing legal in support of that ballot box but the Lecompton Constitution which to treat with contempt you deem a virtue; and the moral law, which would otherwise interfere to protect it, has been shorn of its power and majesty by the foul deceit practiced upon you. This ballot box, falsely expressing your sentiments, I will destroy; and those wishing to vote for State officers can afterwards proceed as though it were a new election. Thus, Freemen of Linn, I right you."
With the concluding sentence, he advanced to the table, seized the ballot box and threw it on the ground, breaking it to pieces and scattering the ballots to the four winds.
For this act Montgomery was indicted but was never brought to trial. It should be added that the immediate cause of Montgomery's destruction of the ballot box was that, after learning of the deceit attempted upon them by the Herald of Freedom, one of the voters desired to get his ballot out of the box, but by the judges of election was refused permission to recall it. Montgomery thereupon released not only this one ballot but all that had been cast. The election on the "English Bill" was held August 2, 1858. Linn County cast 422 votes against it, to 43 for it, ten to one against the measure.
On the 9th of March, 1858, delegates to the Constitutional Convention which finally met at Leavenworth, were elected from Linn County, as follows: A. Danford, Thomas H. Butler, R. B. Mitchell and Robert Ewing.
The first election under the Wyandotte Constitution movement was held March 28, 1859, at which Linn County cast 341 votes for a Constitution and State Government, and six against them. The election for delegates was held the first Tuesday of June, J. M. Arthur and Josiah Lamb being elected from Linn County, receiving 455 and 446 votes respectively. The Wyandotte Constitution was adopted October 4, the vote in Linn County being 549 for it, and 157 against; while the homestead exemption clause to the Constitution received 455 votes and was opposed by 169 votes. On the 8th of November, a delegate to Congress was elected; Linn County casting 373 votes for the Democratic candidate, Saunders W. Johnson, and 563 for Marcus J. Parrott, the Republican candidate.
James M. Arthur came from Indiana to Linn County early in 1855. He was a Free-State Democrat, and as such was subject to persecution by Pro-slavery men. He was threatened with death, his home was burned, his property carried away, himself driven from home, and his wife so shamefully abused that for two years she was insane. On account of his persecutions he was elected by the Free-State men a delegate to the Topeka Constitutional Convention, and as a member of that Convention voted against striking the word "white" out of the Constitution. This constitution was submitted to the people December 15, 1855. At Big Sugar Precinct eighteen votes were cast in its favor and two against it; at Little sugar Precinct forty-two votes were cast for it, and eighteen against it.
At the election for officers under the Topeka Constitution, James M. Arthur, D. W. Cannon, John Landis and David Rees, were elected members of the Legislature from Linn County.
One of the incidents of the year 1855 was the arrest of Elihu Fairbanks, of Mansfield, by Marshall (sic) Russell, formerly of Arkansas. The marshal had writs against a number of others, but succeeded in executing only this one. Fairbanks was ironed, taken to Paris, where he was kept in confinement several days, and then taken to Lawrence, where he was released by the people. Marshal Russell had under his command a very large posse, which remained in the county a considerable time, during which it was supplied with provisions by William Hobson. Hobson's bill for the same was nearly $2,000 and was never paid for by the Territorial Government, on the ground that the marshal was acting without authority. At the election for delegate to Congress, October 9, 1855, A. H. Reeder received at Big Sugar Creek 28 votes, at Little Sugar 41.
The Battle of Paris
This battle occurred about December 1, 1859, and was fought between the forces of Mound City, under C. R. Jennison and those of Paris, over the removal of the county records to the former place. Mound City had won on November 8, in the contest for the county seat, but notwithstanding this, the clerks of the Probate Court, of the County Court and of the District Court refused to remove the records to the new county seat. The Probate Judge had no influence over these refractory clerks.
The time for the meeting of the courts was approaching. No court could be held unless the county seat and the records could be brought together. It was impossible to move the county seat to the records, and it seemed impossible to move the records to the county seat. How to bring them together was a knotty problem. finally an Alexander arose in the person of John T. Snoddy (afterward Major), who went to the Probate Judge, D. W. Cannon, and proposed that, if armed with an order for the records, he would bring them to Mound City in time for the opening of court.
Judge Cannon wrote the order and handed it to the doughty Major. A company of about fifty men was organized, to march on Paris. In order to render resistance on the part of the Parisians absolutely useless and ineffectual if made, Dr. Trego was dispatched with his team to Osawatomie after a cannon that was there, the Abbott howitzer so famed in Kansas history, and with this managed by Wright alias "Pickles," the Mound City forces marched in the night upon the doomed city of Paris, arriving there just before daylight, and planting their cannon so as to rake the court house and principal business blocks, in case the records were not immediately forthcoming on demand.
A fire was built near the cannon in order to render rapid firing possible in case it should be come necessary to bombard the town. That the artillerists were entirely without ammunition was of secondary consequence to them. The Parisians, upon arising from their beds and coming out upon the streets, were taken completely by surprise. They at once saw that resistance was hopeless, but some of the officers, still unwilling that the records should be removed to Mound City, denied all knowledge of their whereabouts. The denial was not believed, and time was given within which the records must be produced. At the expiration of the time, if they were not produced, firing would be opened from the howitzer, and the town blown to atoms. Just in time to prevent this dire calamity the coveted records were drawn out from under a bed by the officer who had himself placed them there, and then most strenuously denied all knowledge of them. Thus was Paris saved and Mound City victorious.
The Battle of Middle Creek
This battle occurred on Middle Creek, in Liberty Township, August 25, 1856. Up to this time, the settlers in Linn County had enjoyed comparative quiet; but henceforward troubles of various kinds were frequent. All along the border, the Missourians were massing armed forces - Atchison and Reid at Little Santa Fe, and G. W. Clarke further south. On the date above given, a portion of the latter's forces, numbering about one hundred and fifty, having come up from Fort Scott, under Capt. Jesse Davis, with John E. Brown and James P. Fox holding subordinate positions, encamped on Middle Creek, about nine miles southwest of Osawatomie. Capts. Anderson, Cline and Shore, with an aggregate of about one hundred and twenty men, encamped in that neighborhood the same evening.
On the next morning, scouts brought in four prisoners, who said that fifty of Davis' men were absent from camp. An attack was therefore immediately determined upon. Capt. Anderson made a detour, in order to cut off Davis' retreat, and Cline and Shore marched upon him in front. In the advance, they captured five prisoners, and released a Free-State man. Upon approaching within range, the Missourians promptly retired, leaving most of their camp equipage, a good dinner already prepared, and two wounded men upon the ground. One of the wounded was Lieut. Cline, of Fort Scott. He was taken to Osawatomie, and, on the 30th of the same month, when Gen. Reid burned the town, was taken charge of by Gen. Reid's forces, and died on their hands, at Westport.
Montgomery observed armed Pro-slavery forces marching towards Osawatomie, and himself went up that way, but arrived too late to render any assistance. He, therefore, returned home, and remained quiet for several days, with the view of not creating any alarm; but, in a few days, upon going to Mound City, he found the settlers consulting as to leaving the Territory. The report was circulated, and gained credence to some extent, that George W. Clarke intended to arm the Miami Indians, fill them with whisky, and turn them loose upon the Free-State settlers. This report, although doubtless wholly false, increased their alarm to such an extent, that some, who would otherwise have remained, left their claims, cabins and personal effects to be pillaged and burned, as they expected, by the border ruffians and Miami Indians.
The first raid by the Missourians into Linn County, was made in the fall of 1856. The party was headed by the notorious George W. Clarke, and consisted of about four hundred men. This party went to the old town of Paris, at that time a Pro-slavery settlement. There they were joined by confederates, among whom was the almost equally notorious James P. Fox. From Paris, the party went to Sugar Mound, the objective point of the expedition. Here they burned down some houses, and robbed Ebenezer Barnes' house, store and post office.
Many depredations were committed, and quite a number of Free-State families started back to the East, among them William Hobson's and Ebenezer Barnes' family, to Illinois. Mr. Barnes himself remained. Montgomery was at the Mound at that time, and was also an object of desire to the Missourians, but he managed to escape, and started, as they supposed, for home. Instead of going home, he went to Missouri for the purpose of gaining information as to who composed Clarke's band. Like almost every other settler in Kansas, at that time, he had the ague.
Upon reaching Missouri, he went to the house of Capt. Burnett and sought admittance. He was taken in and cared for by Mrs. Burnett, Mr. Burnett not being at home. Some time afterward, Mr. Burnett, who was out with Clarke on his raid, returned, and found Montgomery, whom he did not know, at his house. He found Montgomery to be a very intelligent man, on his way from New York to Kansas, and desirous of finding a school to teach during the winter! Mr. Burnett found him a school, which he taught about two weeks, during which time he learned all he desired to know as to the identity of Clarke's raiders.
He now returned to his home, and formed a company of seven men to go into Missouri and bring back the property stolen by Clarke's band, or its equivalent. Upon arriving in the neighborhood of Burnett's, his party secreted themselves in the timber. The Miami Indians were then still living on their reservation, and were in the habit of going into Missouri and stealing horses. The Missourians, in the neighborhood of Burnett's, upon discovering the presence of Indians in the vicinity, were accustomed to report the fact to Mr. Burnett. Montgomery, having his party in the timber, disguised two of them as Indians, mounted them on one horse, and sent them around throughout the neighborhood to create the impression that Indians had come, and to cause all who should see them to report to Mr. Burnett! His two Indians having returned, Montgomery, with all his men, moved forward and took possession of Burnett's house, Mr. B. not being at home.
Presently the neighbors began to come in on horseback one at a time. As each approached, one of Montgomery's men would go out to meet him, "get the drop on him," lead him into the house a prisoner, disarm him and place him under guard, at the same time securing his horse. In this way twenty-one prisoners were captured. Burnett himself was similarly secured. Montgomery's men then broke the guns of their prisoners, took $250 in money, selected eleven good horses and returned to the Little Sugar. Upon arriving at Sugar Mound, Montgomery, leaving his men with the horses in the timber, went to the house of Ebenezer Barnes, to have supper prepared for himself and his men, but Mr. Barnes' family had not returned, and there was nothing to eat in the house. He then went to Judge Cannon's house, but the Judge, although a Free-State man for Kansas, declined to provide supper, as he disapproved of what Montgomery had done, and did not desire to be identified with him in such operations.
Within twenty days most of the settlers returned. Some of their cabins had been burned, others were found to have been undisturbed. But a large amount of property had been carried away or destroyed. Judge Cannon found his cabin and its contents as he had left them, while Isaac Dement found his two little cabins burned down, but his household goods had been previously removed, and remained piled up on the ground when he returned.
Claim difficulties were of frequent occurrence during the latter part of the years 1856 and in 1857, and they were often sprung upon the settlers as a mere pretext, in order to create difficulties; most of the troubles of 1856, in Linn County are laid at the door of G. W. Clarke, who, it is said, "in the summer of 1856, plundered, robbed and burned out of house and home nearly every Free-State settler in Linn County, while his hands were steeped in innocent blood and the light of burning buildings marked his course."
But this is an exaggeration. Clarke burnt only three of four buildings in Linn County, in 1856. It was difficulties of this kind that caused Montgomery to take to the brush, and having entered upon this course he became the most powerful friend of the Free-State men, and the most hated and feared by the Pro-slavery men. At first he fought single-handed, then was joined by a few, and was afterward aided by few or many as circumstances required. His operations may be classed as defensive, preventive and retaliatory, and it is doubtless true that he did many things which, when judged of outside of their immediate and remote causes and connections, would not stand the test of the moral code.
With six men he made an attack on Briscoe Davis, a Pro-slavery man, and Captain of a company of Territorial militia, with the view of making Davis prisoner, and securing the company's arms. Davis, however, was not at home, and all that was secured at his house was one prisoner, Brown, a number of arms and some ammunition. While Montgomery was engaged in secreting the arms, Brown made his escape. On this account Montgomery abandoned his design of attacking and disarming the Pro-slavery men on Big Sugar, and, in order to avoid the Territorial Militia which was in force, under Gov. J. W. Geary, eight miles south, on Little Sugar Creek, made a wide detour south into Bourbon County, coming in sight of some Texan Rangers. The Rangers immediately fled to Fort Scott, and gave such an exaggerated report of the number of Montgomery's men, that the inhabitants of the town deserted it in a panic.
In the fall of 1858, Old John Brown appeared upon the scene in Linn County. He had been invited into the county by Augustus Wattles to assist in fighting the Pro-slavery men. Mr. Wattles, who had formerly lived in Douglas County, had known the old man there. Mr. Wattles was one of the pioneers of Kansas. He was born in Lebanon, Conn., in 1808; moved to Ohio in 1833; to Douglas County, Kan., in 1855; to Linn County in 1857, and died December 19, 1876.
Mr. Wattles introduced Brown to his friends and others as "Subel Morgan," and it was by that name that Brown was generally known while he was operating against slaveholders and other Pro-slavery men, with Linn County as his base of operations. Only a few of his immediate friends knew that it was Old John Brown. His personal safety required that he should conceal his identity, and often times also his whereabouts. As illustrative of the truth of the latter statement, we introduce the following incident:
On one of Brown's visits to Wattles' house, in Douglas County, he was overtaken by a squad of troops under Lieutenant Carr, although the Lieutenant did not know he was so close upon Brown's heels, otherwise the sequel would doubtless have been different. After the troops had encamped for the night, Lieutenant Carr approached Mr. Wattles' house, and engaged in conversation with Mr. Wattles. During the conversation, he informed Mr. W. of the object of his expedition, and told him how great would be his satisfaction if he could capture the old man, etc. During this interview, Brown was secreted in the loft of Wattles' house, and could thus see and hear all that was going on, and his men were secreted in the bushes not far away. A few days afterward Brown quietly slipped away, went into Missouri and liberated seventeen slaves.
While in Linn County, Brown usually made his headquarters at Mr. Wattles' house, and here as elsewhere was followed by a few men upon whom he could depend even under the most desperate circumstances. His work was continued throughout the balance of this year, many slaves being freed as the result. His determined opposition to the incursions into Kansas of the Missourians, and his own determined incursions into Missouri awakened the bitterest hostility against him. The Governor of Missouri offered a reward of $3,000 for his arrest, and President Buchanan offered a reward of $250 for his head. When Brown heard of the President's offer he retorted by saying that, although he did not consider Buchanan's body worth $2.50, yet he would give that sum to any one who would deliver it to him. He also said that he would offer a like sum for the head of Gov. Medary, but that he feared some of his men would earn the reward.
On the 20th of December, Brown's men in two parties, one under his own command, and the other under command of J. K. Kagi, went into Missouri to liberate slaves. Brown's party liberated ten slaves and returned. Kagi's party liberated one slave, and killed the owner, a German, who could neither understand nor speak English. This murder caused intense excitement throughout the country, and was the immediate occasion of the offering of the above-mentioned rewards. The liberated slaves were taken into Franklin County and secreted for a month in an old cabin about four miles southwest of Lane, during which time the number was increased by birth to twelve. At the end of the month, Brown went north with the negroes, and when near Holton an attempt was made by some Pro-slavery men from Atchison to rescue them, which attempt ended in failure and a precipitate retreat of the Atchison men. This retreat is called "The Battle of the Spurs."
John Brown's Parallels. - While these eleven slaves were thus secreted in the old cabin, John Brown, in another old cabin, a correct account of which may be found in the sketch of Franklin County, wrote his famous "Parallels," dating them at the Trading Post for the purpose of shielding from suspicion his friends who were assisting him to secrete the fugitives, and of rendering his effort to free them a success.
TRADING POST, Kansas, January 3, 1859.
GENTLEMEN : You will greatly oblige a humble friend by allowing the use of your columns while I briefly state two parallels in my poor way. Not a year ago, eleven quiet citizens of this neighborhood, viz., William Robertson, William Colpetzer, Amos Hall, Austin Hall, John Campbell, Asa Snyder, Thomas Stillwell, William Hairgrove, Asa Hairgrove, Patrick Ross, and B. L. Reed, [footnote: The names are given correctly in our account of the massacre.] were gathered up from their work and their homes, by an armed force, under on Hamilton, and without trial or opportunity to speak in their own defense, were formed in line and all but one shot, five killed and five wounded, one fell unharmed, pretending to be dead. All were left for dead. The only crime charged against them was that of being Free State men. Now I inquire what action has ever since this occurrence in May last been taken by either the President of the United States, the Governor of Kansas, or any of their tools, or by any Pro-slavery or Administration man, to ferret out and punish the perpetrators of this crime?
Now for the parallel. On Sunday, December 19, a negro man, called "Jim," came over to the Osage settlement from Missouri, and stated that he, together with his wife, two children, and another negro man, was to be sold within a day or two, and begged for help to get away. On Monday, the following night, two small parties were made up to go to Missouri and forcibly liberate the five slaves, together with other slaves. One of these companies I assumed to direct. We proceeded to the place, surrounded the buildings, liberated the salves, and also took certain property, supposed to belong to the estate.
We, however, learned before leaving that a portion of the articles belonged to a man living on the plantation as a tenant, and who was supposed to have an interest in the estate. We promptly returned to him all we had taken. We then went to another plantation, where we found five more slaves, took some property and two white men. We moved all slowly away in the territory for some distance, and then sent the white men back, telling them to follow us as soon as they chose to do so.
The other company freed one female slave, took some property and, as I am informed, killed one white man, the master, who fought against the liberation. Now for the comparison. Eleven persons are forcibly restored to their natural and inalienable rights, with one man killed, and "all hell is stirred beneath." It is currently reported that the Governor of Missouri has made a requisition on the Governor of Kansas for all such as were engaged in the last named "dreadful outrage." The Marshal of Kansas is said to be collecting a posse of Missouri (not Kansas) men, at West Point, in Missouri, a little town about ten miles distant, to enforce the laws. All Pro-slavery, conservative free-State, and dough-faced men are filled with horror. Consider the two cases, and the action of the Administration party.
Respectfully yours, JOHN BROWN.
These "parallels" were sent to the Lawrence Tribune and New York Tribune for publication.
The Marais des Cygnes Massacre
This massacre occurred on the 19th of May, 1858. It was one of the most deliberate, inexcusable and atrocious massacres recorded in the annals of history. While the people of Linn County were quietly planting corn and unsuspicious of danger, a band of thirty Missourians, under command of Capt. Charles A. Hamilton, about 8 o'clock in the morning, one mile below Choteau Trading Post, captured Patrick Ross, who was going from the Post to his farm near by.
Upon arriving at the Post with their prisoner, Capt. Hamilton's party arrested John F. Campbell, a store keeper there, and two or three others, who were released. Elder B. L. Reed was captured one-half mile north of the Post, while standing in the road talking about taking the school. At the same time and place, William A. Stilwell, who was on his way from Mound City to Kansas City in his wagon, was taken. Upon his driving up, Hamilton asked him if he knew Montgomery, to which Mr. Stilwell replied that he had seen him, but was not acquainted with him.
Hamilton then commanded, "Get out and march in here." Stilwell got out of his wagon and took his position with the other prisoners, leaving his team standing in the road. Some other persons were then taken and released. This occurred near Mr. Nichol's house, which was searched for arms and for Mr. Nichol himself, but he was absent. Mr. Stilwell was searched for money and arms, and the following letter found upon his person, which was read aloud: "Messrs. Chick & Co., Kansas City, Mo.: I have sent you $200 to pay freight on goods. Please deliver to Mr. Stilwell what he can bring and I will send you the balance soon. J. W. GARRETT"
Three or four of Hamilton's men were next sent to bring in Asa Hairgrove, and another party was sent after Austin and Amos Hall, the main body marching on toward Hairgrove's house, about two miles from the Post. There Amos Hall, who was nearly blind, and Mr. Hairgrove were brought in, the latter from his corn field. At the same time, William Colpetzer was captured. They then went in a northwesterly direction and brought in M. Robinson and Asa Snyder, who had a short time previously arrived from Illinois. Capt. Hamilton with seven men then started out to arrest Capt. Eli Snyder, the blacksmith, and bring him in, the main body proceeding on about one-half mile to the top of a high mound (Priestly Mound), from which elevated position the whole country for miles around could be overlooked.
The latter party watched with considerable interest the attempt to arrest Capt. Snyder, which, on account of his courage and quickness in handling his musket, resulted in failure, and in some of Capt. Hamilton's men being severely wounded. Returning to the main body, Hamilton ordered a forward march, and the prisoners were led down to a canon or gulch by a by-path between rocks, single file, when the commands were given, "Halt," "Front face, " "Close up," to the prisoners; and his own men were formed in line in front of them on a shelf or rock about as wide as a good wagon road and somewhat higher than the prisoners' heads.
Deliberately the orders were given by Capt. Hamilton, "Make ready," "Take aim," but before the order "Fire" could be uttered, one of the worst of the border ruffians, Brockett by name, turned his horse away, whereupon Hamilton said to him, "Brockett, G---d d---n you, why don't you wheel into line?" Brockett said, "I'll be d---d if I'll have anything to do with such a G---d d---d piece of business as this. If it was in a fight I'd fire." At this, Hamilton took out his revolver and fired at the prisoners, giving the order to his men to fire at the same time. Alvin Hamilton's gun, which was aimed at L. B. Reed, missed fire the first time; Reed, not being hit, turned partly round to see his companions fall, and, Hamilton's gun being immediately re-cocked and fired, received the ball on one of his ribs and fell. Thus all these innocent, brave men were brought down. On their part, there was no flinching nor begging for quarter. Mr. Hairgrove, just before the order to fire was given, said: "Gentlemen, if you are going to shoot us, take good aim."
After waiting a few minutes, Hamilton gave the order to his men to go down and see who were dead, and to shoot those who were not. Two of the ruffians went down among the fallen and fired three shots at different ones who gave signs of life. Amos Hall was shot through the mouth. One said "Old Reed ain't dead yet," and a shot was fired, when the remark was repeated, "Old Reed ain't dead." "Which is him?" was asked. "Why, there the old devil is, looking at you." But Pat Ross got the balls and he was killed. Another ruffian said, "See that man humped up, he ain't dead." The man "humped up" was Austin Hall, and his body was perfectly rigid. One of those who were finishing the butchery, kicked Mr. Hall, rolled him over, and remarked, "He's as dead as the Devil," and so let him alone.
Mr. Hall was the only one not hit. One of the ruffians said, "There's a man that's got $200," meaning Stilwell; but they did not find the $200. It had been hid in the wagon by Mr. Stilwell at the time of his capture. Another said, "There's a fellow that's got a good watch," meaning J. F. Campbell. The watch was taken. Hamilton and his men then rode away in squads, six or seven at first, then twelve, and soon after the balance, leaving their victims all for dead. The result of the shooting was that five were killed, five wounded and one unharmed. The killed were, John F. Campbell, William Colpetzer, Patrick Ross, William Stilwell and M. Robinson; the wounded, Amos Hall, William Hairgrove, Asa Hairgrove, B. L. Reed and Asa Snyder.
The body of William Stilwell was taken to Mound City for burial, those of the others were all buried in one grave, some distance south of the scene of the massacre. The wounded all recovered.
It has been a query why any of those captured were released, and why Brockett at the moment of command to fire, refused to do so. From the best information obtainable it is believed that some were released on account of their youth, others because they were believed to be Pro-slavery, and still others because they gave the Masonic sign of distress, which all good Masons must recognize. It is also believed that Brockett refused to fire upon recognition of the same sign made by Mr. Stilwell, who was a Mason.
All the men who were captured were peaceable, conservative citizens, who had from design ever since they came into the Territory, held themselves aloof from participation in the troubles upon either side, hoping thereby to insure their safety by not incurring the displeasure of either party. The sequel proved the vanity of their hopes.
Capt. Hamilton had prepared a list of from sixty to seventy Free-State men whom he had proscribed, and this massacre was the first of a contemplated series of massacres which was to be continued until the whole list had been slain. Happily it chanced to be the last as well as the first. Montgomery was advised of the general plan, and had been furnished with a list of the proscribed men. He determined to kill Hamilton at the first opportunity. To this end, about the first of May he approached Hamilton's house, a log one, with a party of men for the purpose of capturing him; but finding he could effect nothing in the way of an attack with rifles alone, he sent a squad of men to bring the howitzer. But before its arrival a body of United States troops, on their way to Leavenworth, were called to Hamilton's relief, and Montgomery was obliged to disperse his men. Montgomery then went to the Sheriff of Linn County, acquainted him with Hamilton's designs, showed him the list of the proscribed Free-State men, and received assurances from that official that the men so proscribed should be protected from all harm.
The descent when made was made unexpectedly. Montgomery was away in Johnson County. He returned in the evening of the day of the massacre. The next evening a force of about two hundred citizens, under Sheriff McDaniel, Col. R. B. Mitchell and Montgomery, approached West Point, Mo., to which place it was believed the murderers had retired. Before entering the town a consultation was held, at which, against the remonstrance of Montgomery, it was decided to send forward a deputation and ask the leading citizens to come out to a conference. While this deputation was delayed, men were seen to leave the town from the opposite side, Montgomery and his men gave chase, captured one prisoner, against whom nothing could be proved, and so released him. The citizens when they finally came out to the conference, deplored the massacre, denied all knowledge of the whereabouts of the murderers and refused to aid in their apprehension.
The citizens retired discomfited, and separated into two divisions to watch for the re-approach of Hamilton in case he should further pursue his murderous designs against the Free-State men of the Territory. They remained on duty until superseded by Capt. Weaver in command of a body of regular militia. This body of troops so vigilantly guarded the border all summer that Capt. Hamilton never again made his appearance.
During the summer one of the murderers, Charles Matlock, was arrested, but while at Paris awaiting his trial, escaped from the guard and was never re-captured. Another of Hamilton's men, William Griffith, was arrested in Platte County, Mo., in 1863, and taken to Mound City, Linn County, Kan., for trial on an indictment against Charles A. Hamilton et al. for murder in the first degree. Griffith plead "not guilty," and set up as defense the "Amnesty act," approved February 11, 1859, alleging that the murder grew out of "political differences of opinion." The jury, "good and lawful men," not satisfied with the plea as a defense, brought in the following verdict: "We, the jury, do find the defendant, William Griffith, guilty."
A motion for a new trial was overruled, as was also a motion for arrest of judgment, and the Judge, Solon O. Thacher, pronounced the sentence that the said William Griffith, on the 30th day of October, A. D. 1863, between the hours of 9 A. M. and 2 P. M., be hung by the neck until he be dead." The sentence was duly carried into effect, and, with almost poetic justice, Mr. William Hairgrove, one of the survivors of the massacre, acting the part of executioner.
The following named gentlemen composed the jury: Jacob Holderman, John Burdue, Josiah Sykes, James Barrick, William Crozier, John P. Wheeler, N. T. Smith, W. Farris, Perry Bland, Ira Hale, Amos Durbin and Benjamin Bunch.
The Marais des Cygnes Massacre
See Special page The Marais des Cygnes Massacre
In the war of the rebellion, Linn county performed her full share of duties and suffered her full share of hardships incident to that gigantic struggle. It would require laborious search to determine the exact number of volunteers that entered the service of the United States from this county, but his much may be safely said, that the following companies were raised mostly within it: Company E, Second Regiment Infantry; Companies D and E, in the Sixth Cavalry, and a part of Company L; some in Company H, Seventh Cavalry; most of Companies E, of the Tenth Infantry, G and K of the twelfth, and M of the Fifteenth Cavalry. Of the Kansas State Militia, which bore such an honorable part in the defense of the border, Linn county had of her citizens 556 enrolled.
The county furnished to the volunteer service three Colonels, Robert B. Mitchell, of Mansfield, of the Second Infantry, who was promoted Brigadier General; James Montgomery, of Mound City, of the Third Infantry (in the spring of 1862, when the partially organized Third was consolidated with other regiments, Col. Montgomery was transferred to the Second South Carolina Colored Volunteers, in command of which regiment he remained to the close of the war), and Charles R. Jennison, of Mound City, of the Seventh Cavalry, the original and famous "Jayhawker" regiment; one Major, John T. Snoddy, of Mound City, of the Seventh Cavalry; seven Captains and sixteen Lieutenants.
In the militia, James D. Snoddy, of Mound City, was Colonel of the Sixth Regiment, and D. P. Lowe, of Mound City, Lieutenant Colonel on the Governor's Staff. The regimental and nearly all of the company officers of the Sixth Regiment were from Linn County.
During the war, raids were of frequent occurrence from Missouri into Linn County, and from Linn County into Missouri. One was made in October into Linn by a party of Missourians under Sheriff Clem, of Bates County. At this time, early in the morning, William Upton and Richard Manning were killed, and later in the day Joseph Speakes. The latter, with a cousin, had seen Clem's posse coming before they reached Thomas Speakes' house, and had gone into the timber along the Marais des Cygnes, for the purpose of holding the posse in check as they were leaving the county until the citizens should have time to collect and fall upon them in the rear, and in the fight which occurred there in consequence was killed. Among the houses robbed on this raid were those of Thomas Speakes and a Mr. Storms.
In December, 1861, a raid was made by a party of about one hundred and twenty Missourians, composed of three smaller bodies, one of these being from Butler, one from Balltown and the third from Papinsville. J. E. Hill's store at Potosi was robbed, and a large number of private houses centered and pillaged of their contents. Among these was that of Josiah Sykes, about one-half mile north of Potosi. Mr. Sykes himself escaped from his house in time to save himself, or he, being a Union man, would undoubtedly have been killed, as was a Mr. Seright that night. This raiding party was also under command of Sheriff Clem.
Mr. Sykes, who had barely time to escape, secured of his clothes only his pants, and in these, without coat or vest, barefooted and bareheaded, made the best possible time over the frozen ground to Mound City, where Col. Montgomery, with his Third Regiment, was stationed. Montgomery promptly sent Maj. H. H. Williams in command of from three hundred to four hundred men into Missouri, whither the raiders had returned to reconnoiter, and punish as many of them as could be found, but they had dispersed. Maj. Williams thereupon visited Papinsville, at the time a town of about five hundred inhabitants, and burned to the ground every house it contained.
After this the Major's command was divided into two forces, one of which approached Butler, Mo., but being met by too strong a force they retired, a few shots having been exchanged with no casualties on the Union side. The entire command then returned to Kansas, bringing with them one prisoner, named Wells, a bushwhacker, who had some time previously shot a Union soldier, and publicly boasted of having pulled off the soldier's boots "before he had done kicking." Wells was treated with extraordinary leniency for those times, being kept in camp under guard all winter, and permitted finally to go away without trial or punishment. After this raid of Maj. Williams, Camp Defiance was established on Mine Creek, in Linn County, near the Missouri line, and Col. Montgomery, with his Third Regiment, stationed there until in the spring of 1862, when the Third was consolidated with other regiments.
The Price Raid
See Special Page The Price Raid
County Organization, Etc.
Linn county was organized in 1855. The first Board of County Commissioners, called the "court," consisted of R. E. Elliott, President, and L. M. Love and Brisco Davis "assistants." By this court the following complement of county officers was appointed: Treasurer, James P. Fox; Clerk, Joseph D. Wilmot; Assessor, James Driskill; Surveyor, William Rogers; Sheriff, Joseph E. Brown; Coroner, Elisha Tucker. The above appointments were made January 8, 1856, with the exception of the surveyor, who was appointed March 18.
On the same day, January 8, that the above appointments were made, the court divided the county into three municipal townships, viz.: Scott, Johnson and Richland. This division was retained until July, 1857, when the county was divided into townships as follows: Paris, Tate, Centerville, Scott, Jackson, Breckenridge, Potosi, Mound City and Montgomery. September 20, 1858, a re-organization of the townships resulted in the dropping of Montgomery, and in changing the name of Jackson to Liberty. On the 11th of January, 1859, a portion of Tate Township was "fused" with that of Breckenridge and the "fused township" named Valley. Lincoln Township was organized April 9, 1866; blue Mound, April 16, 1867; Sheridan, December 3, 1867, and Stanton, January 3, 1870. The townships as thus organized and named are still retained.
The first election for county officers was held in October, 1857, with the following result, so far as can be ascertained, the records not showing: Probate Judge, D. W. Cannon; Clerk, Andrew Stark; Register of Deeds, Jesse Brown; Treasurer, C. H. Stilwill; Sheriff, C. M. McDaniel; Commissioners, Ebenezer Barnes and Samuel Nichols. On the 18th of January, 1856, the County Commissioners appointed a commission to locate the county seat, in accordance with the act of the Territorial Legislature relative thereto. On the 18th of March, James P. Fox and McD. Osborn, the two members of the commission that acted, made their report. They had started at the township corner on the parallel running through Linn county, a little more than ten and a half miles from the Missouri State Line, and had proceeded thence one and a half miles south - this point the had chosen as one corner of the county seat - thence east a half mile, thence south a half mile, thence west a half mile, and thence north a half mile to the place of beginning.
The town site thus contained one quarter section - the northwest quarter of Section 8, Township 21, Range 24. C. S. Fleming was appointed Commissioner to superintend its survey. This town was named Paris. On October 7, 1856, P. T. Glover, C. S. Fleming and Joseph D. Wilmot were appointed a commission to "value and appraise the house on the quarter section belonging to James P. Fox, and to make him such allowance as to them may hem proper and just." The allowance made for the house was $100. It was purchased for a court house. The townsite was platted by William Rogers, County Surveyor. The minimum price for which lots fifty feet square, fronting on the public square, might be sold, was $25; those in the second tier one hundred feet square, $25; those more remote, fifty by one hundred feet, $15. The Board of County Commissioners held their first meeting at Paris, August 7, 1856.
An election to re-locate the county seat was held November 8, 1859, at which election Paris received 471 votes, and Mound city 508. The first meeting of the Commissioners at Mound City was held December 15, 1859.
After an indecisive preliminary election to relocate the county seat, held May 22, 1865, an election was held May 30, at which election Linnville received 533 votes to Mound City 502, and Linnville was proclaimed to be the county seat. Linnville is located immediately south of the old town site of Paris.
An election then was held February, 20, 1866, to relocate the county seat, at which time Mound City received 635 votes, and Linnville 575, and Mound City again became the county capital. An election was then held May 29, 1866, on the same question, when Mound City received 617 votes, Linnville 301, and Mansfield 170, scattering 3, Mound City retaining the county seat. The question then remained in status quo until 1871. On February 14, of that year, after an indecisive vote in January, an election was held to relocate the county seat, at which Mound City received 1,226 votes, La Cygne, 1,589, and Pleasanton 1.
La Cygne was, therefore proclaimed the county seat, and so remained until, after an indecisive election held March 11, 1873, an election was held on the 27th of March, at which Pleasanton received 1,183 votes and Farmers' City, 1,252. Farmers' City was, therefore, proclaimed the county seat. This was a mere brush patch, located on Section 14, Township 21, Range 23. The county officers declined to accept the hospitable shade of its bushes and shrubs for offices, and thus La Cygne continued to be the county seat de facto until an election was held April 14, 1874, at which time Pleasanton received 1,692 votes to her 1,026, and thus Pleasanton became and was proclaimed the county seat.
The next decisive and last election on county seat matters was held March 9, 1875, at which time Pleasanton received 1,201 votes and Mound City 1,311, thus regaining the county seat for the third time.
Railroads and County Societies
Linn County has had comparatively little trouble with the railroad problem. An election was held November 3, 1868, at which the people, by a vote of 1040 for to 588 against, adopted the proposition of the Kansas & Neosho Valley Railroad Company to subscribe for $150,000 of its stock, and pay for the same with a like amount of thirty-year seven percent bonds, said road to be built via Olathe and Paola, and in a southern direction through Linn county. Subsequently numerous propositions were made by the railroad company to the county, and by the county to the company looking to a modification of the terms upon which the railroad should be built, but all having in view the surrender by the county of its right to the $150,000 in the stocks of the company for a nominal consideration.
No agreement on this point could be reached, and consequently no exchange of bonds for stock was ever made. The railroad was built nevertheless, and the county has no outstanding indebtedness on its account. But as an offset to this advantage, the people of the central and western portions of the county labor under the disadvantage of the road having been located near the eastern boundary. This is expected to be remedied in the near future by the construction from west to east, through Blue Mound, Mound City and Potosi Townships, of the St. Louis & Emporia Railroad, and from southeast to northwest, through Blue Mound Township, of the Fort Scott, Topeka & Lincoln Railroad.
The latter road is to be completed through the township by January 1, 1883, and the former through the three townships in three years from the delivery of the bonds to the trustee. Each township subscribes to the capital stock of the road, agreeing to pay therefor with bonds in the following amounts: To the stock of the St. Louis & Emporia Railroad, Blue Mound subscribes $25,500, Mound City, $29,000, and Potosi Township, $35,000; to that of the Fort Scott, Topeka & Lincoln Railroad, Blue Mound Township subscribes $18,000.
Linn County Agricultural Society. - On the 4th of March, 1871, the citizens of the neighborhood of Elm Grove, in Scott Township, met at their schoolhouse and organized a Farmers' Club. On the 28th of October, this club held a fair at Elm Grove. The second fair was held October 3 and 4, 1872. On the 2d of November, its name was changed to the Linn County Agricultural Society. This society held its first fair at Farlinville, October, 1873, and its second at La Cygne October, 1874, since which time its fairs have been held annually at La Cygne. The society purchased in 1875, thirty-three and one-third acres of land adjoining La Cygne for a fair ground, since when they have built a fine floral hall in the form of a Greek cross, sixty feet long each way by twenty-four feet wide.
Linn County Agricultural and Mechanical Association. - This association was organized in 1875, with a capital of $50,000, divided into shares of $25 each. J. F. Broadhead was the first President, and to him belongs a great deal of credit for the untiring efforts which have built up and made the association a success. The first Secretary was J. H. Stearns. The association owns sixty acres of land which they have fenced and upon which they have erected good buildings. They have one of the finest amphitheaters in Kansas. Their fairs are held annually at mound City, and their premiums have been always paid in cash in full.
Schools and Other Statistics
The number of teachers required is 109; average monthly salary - males, $36.25, females, $28.26. The total value of all school property is $94,500.
The first normal institute was held in 1877, and there has been one held each year since that time. Since 1879, the institute has been self-sustaining. The average annual attendance of teachers has been about one hundred and thirty-five. In 1860, Linn County had a population of 6,336; in 1870, 12,174; in 1875, 11,974; in 1880, 15,326, and in 1882, according to the Assessor's returns, which are, however, not regarded as having been prepared with sufficient care, 15,838, divided among the townships as follows: Blue Mound, 996; Centerville, 1,550; Liberty, 1049; Lincoln, 2,267; Mound City, 1,515; Paris, 1,048; Potosi, 2,832; Scott, 1,114; Sheridan, 1,823; Stanton, 709; and Valley, 935.
The total number of acres in the county is 407,680; taxable acres, 364,865; taxable cultivated acres, 143,944; total number of town lots, 4,867; value of personal property upon which taxes are paid, $799,086; value of railroad property, $287,485.61; total assessed value of property, $2,999,363.11.
Personal Property. - Horses, 7,543, value, $249,542; cattle, 29,993, value, $359,365; mules, 1,024, value, $45,465; sheep, 10,799, value, $15,004; swine, 13,971, value, $34,501; value of farm implements, $42,293; vehicles, 2,178, value, $47,087; stocks, $7,400; moneys, $47,553; credits, $9,089; merchandise, $112,263; manufacturers' stock, $1,840; notes, $56,331; mortgages, $20,092; shares in national banks, $510 other personal property, $122,529; total assessed value, $1,170,875; conditional exemption, $371,788; net assessed personal property, $799,086. Acreage of some of the principal crops for 1882. The winter wheat crop of Linn county was 2.425 acres; rye, 137 acres; corn, 87,673 acres; buckwheat, 41 acres; oats, 5,860 acres; Irish potatoes, 682 acres; sweet potatoes, 25 acres; sorghum, 361 acres; cotton, 6 acres; flax, 7,568 acres; timothy pasture, 307 acres; clover, 70 acres; other pasture, 1,540 acres; prairie, 44,913 acres; millet and Hungarian meadow, 8,305 acres; timothy, 1,978 acres; clover, 624 acres; and prairie meadow, 33,850 acres.
Owing to the plentifulness of native timber, but little has as yet been done in the cultivation of forest trees. The number of acres of the different kinds reported in 1882 was as follows: Cottonwood, 12 honey locust, 5; maple, 75; walnut, 45; and of other varieties, 1,186. Of fruit trees the following numbers were reported: Apple - bearing, 114,752;, not bearing, 61,353; pear - bearing, 2,318, not bearing, 2,040; peach -bearing, 74,631, not bearing, 27,638; plum - bearing, 2,793, not bearing, 1,523; cherry - bearing, 27,759, not bearing, 8,266; grape vines, 39 acres; number of gallons of wine made in 1881, 126.
The following are the number of rods of the different kinds of fence in the county: Board, 33,786; rail, 260,954; stone, 62,301; hedge, 368,365; wire, 167,942.
Public Schools. - The records of the county do not show when the first school districts were organized. At present there are 100 school districts, and 99 schoolhouses - two of brick, three log, four stone and ninety frame. The number of school children in the county, is - males, 3,151, females, 1,030.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,570 km² (606 mi²), of which 1,551 km² (599 mi²) is land and 20 km² (8 mi²), or 1.26%, is water.
Linn County's population was estimated to be 9,962 in the year 2006, an increase of 358, or +3.7%, over the previous six years.
As of the U.S. Census in 2000, there were 9,570 people, 3,807 households, and 2,748 families residing in the county. The population density was 6/km² (16/mi²). There were 4,720 housing units at an average density of 3/km² (8/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.50% White, 0.63% Black or African American, 0.48% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.16% from other races, and 1.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.91% of the population.
There were 3,807 households out of which 28.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.70% were married couples living together, 6.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.80% were non-families. 24.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the county the population was spread out with 25.00% under the age of 18, 6.70% from 18 to 24, 24.30% from 25 to 44, 25.70% from 45 to 64, and 18.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 100.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.60 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $35,906, and the median income for a family was $42,571. Males had a median income of $31,720 versus $22,287 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,009. About 7.80% of families and 11.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.20% of those under age 18 and 9.60% of those age 65 or over.
Cities and towns
Name and population (2004 estimate):
La Cygne, 1,123
Mound City, 815 (county seat)
Linn Valley, 579
Blue Mound, 284
There are several lake communities in the county (Linn Valley Lakes, Lake Chaparral...), which are quick getaways for city dwellers who spend their weekends or holidays there.
Unified school districts
Pleasanton USD 344
Jayhawk USD 346
Prairie View USD 362