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One of the most interesting subjects for the local historian is the rise and fall of town companies and towns, within the confines of Atchison county. Perhaps no county in the State, or for that matter, no county in the United States, has been immune from the visitations of town boomers.

It is difficult in this enterprising age, with all the knowledge that we now have at hand, to understand how it was possible for anybody, though he was ever so enthusiastic, to conceive the idea that there was any future for many of the “towns” that were born in Atchison county in the early days. Yet, it is found that there was in the breasts of many promoters a feeling that Atchison county offered unlimited possibilities for the establishment and growth of towns and cities. One need only search the records on file in the office of the register of deeds in this county to discover numerous certified plats of towns which were born to blush unseen and waste their fragrance on the desert air. In some instances, the records are quite complete and authentic and contain much information with reference to the origin, growth, and final decay of these nascent municipalities. In other cases nothing has come down to posterity, save the merest fragmentary data, of which the plat, containing the name of the town and of its organizer, its location, and the number of blocks, streets, and alleys, constitute the major part.

Reference has heretofore been made to the founding and the organization of the city of Atchison, which became and now remains the county seat of Atchison county. The city played such an important part in the early history of the county that its story has been woven into the general fabric of this history, and therefore further reference to the city of Atchison will not be made in this chapter.



Perhaps the most important, although not the oldest, town established in Atchison county outside of the city of Atchison was Sumner. A peculiar aroma of legendary glory still clings to this old town, which was located three miles below Atchison, on the Missouri river.

Its founder was John P. Wheeler, a young man who came to the Territory when about twenty-one years of age, and who has been described as “a red-headed, blue-eyed, consumptive, slim, freckled enthusiast from Massachusetts.”

Atchison at this time was a strong pro-slavery town, and no abolitionist was a welcome settler in her midst. For this reason Sumner sprang into existence. It was a dream of its founder to make Sumner an important forwarding point, one of its claims being the fact that it was the most westerly of any of the Missouri river towns in Kansas.

In 1856 the site was surveyed and platted, and the name “Sumner” given the new town, in honor of George Sumner, one of the original stockholders, and not for his brother, the Hon. Charles Sumner, United States senator, of Massachusetts, as many people suppose.

To bring Sumner before the public Mr. Wheeler engaged an artist named Albert Conant to come out and make a drawing of it, and this was later taken to Cincinnati, and a colored lithograph made from it, which was widely circulated. From copies of this lithograph still extant it must be admitted that the artist did not slight the town in any particular.

In the fall of 1857 the Sumner Town Company began the erection of a large brick hotel. Samuel Hollister had the contract, his bid being $16,000. The brick used in the construction were made on the ground, and the lumber used in the construction work came by steamboat from Pittsburgh, Pa. The hotel was completed in the summer of 1858, and at last accounts the town company still owed Mr. Hollister $3,000. Some years later the brick used in the hotel were gathered and cleaned and hauled to Atchison and used for the construction of a building owned by the late John J. Ingalls, located at 108–110 South Fourth street.

In the fall of 1857 Cone Brothers (John P. and D. D.) brought a printing outfit to Kansas, and were induced to locate in Sumner, where they shortly begun the publication of _The Sumner Gazette_, the first issue of which appeared on September 12. During the political canvass that fall they also issued a daily. _The Gazette_ was issued until 1861 when it suspended, its publishers believing that it was the only paper in Kansas that outlived the town in which it started.

Among those engaged in business in Sumner on October 1, 1857, the _Daily Gazette_ shows the following:

John P. Wheeler, attorney and counsellor at law, commissioner of deeds, dealer in real estate, etc.

Kahn & Fassler, general store, on Front street, between Washington avenue and Chestnut street.

Mayer & Rohrmann, carpenters and builders.

Barnard & Wheeler, proprietors of the Sumner Brick Yard.

Wm. M. Reed, contractor, Atchison and Sumner.

John Armor, steam saw mill, in the city.

Butcher & Brothers, general store on Front street, between Washington avenue and Olive street.

Allen Green, painter and glazier.

S. J. Bennett, boot and shoe store, corner of Washington avenue and Fourth street.

Arthur M. Claflin, general land agent, forwarding and commission agent.

J. P. Wheeler and A. M. Claflin, lumber, office with the Sumner Company.

H. S. Baker, proprietor of Baker’s Hotel, corner of Front and Olive streets, near steamboat landing.

A. Barber, general merchandise, Front street, between Washington avenue and Olive street.

Lietzenburger & Co., blacksmiths, wagon makers, etc., Cedar street, between Third and Fourth streets.

D. Newcomb. M. D., office in postoffice building, corner of Third street and Washington avenue. Mr. Newcomb also dealt in lime, and on September 24, received a large and select stock of hardware, stoves, etc.

When the Territorial legislature of 1858 met, a bill was introduced, incorporating the Sumner Company, Cyrus F. Currier, Samuel F. Harsh, J. W. Morris, Isaac G. Losse and John P. Wheeler, their associates and successors, constituting the company. The act also provided that the corporation should have the power to purchase and hold, and enter by preëmption and otherwise, any quantity of land where the town of Sumner is now located, not to exceed one thousand acres, etc.

A ferry at Sumner was also incorporated by the legislature of 1858, J. W. Morris, Cyrus F. Currier and Samuel Harsh being the incorporators. This boat plied between Atchison and Sumner and the Missouri side.

In 1858 Samuel Hollister built a steam sawmill, adding a gristmill later.

By the end of 1858 Sumner had outstripped its rival, Atchison, in population, and steps were taken looking towards the incorporation of the town. Early in the beginning of the legislature of 1859, articles of incorporation were passed and received the approval of Governor Samuel Medary on February 9. These articles of incorporation were later amended by an act passed by the first State legislature, which was approved June 3, 1861.

The decline of Sumner began with the drought which started in the fall of 1859 and prevailed through the year 1860. In June, 1860, a cyclone struck the town and either blew down or damaged nearly every building, this calamity being followed in September by a visitation of grasshoppers, all of which were potent factors in wiping Sumner off the map. Some of the houses which could be moved were taken to Atchison, and some to farms in the immediate vicinity.

One of the most interesting accounts that appeared about Sumner was written by H. Clay Park, an old citizen of Atchison, who for many years was editor and part owner of the _Atchison Patriot_. It would not be just either to Mr. Park or to Sumner, were this account not perpetuated in this volume, and it, therefore, appears in full as follows:



“Three miles south of Atchison, Kansas, is the site of a dead city, whose streets once were filled with the clamor of busy traffic and echoed to the tread of thousands of oxen and mules that in the pioneer days of the Great West transported the products of the East across the Great American Desert to the Rocky mountains. It was a city in which for a few years twenty-five hundred men and women and children lived and labored and loved, in which many lofty aspirations were born, and in which several young men began careers that became historical.

“This city was located on what the early French voyagers called the ‘Grand Detour’ of the Missouri river. No more rugged and picturesque site for a city or one more inaccessible and with more unpropitious environments could have been selected. It was literally built in and on the everlasting hills, covered with a primeval forest so dense that the shadows chased the sunbeams away. It sprang into existence so suddenly and imperceptibly it might almost have been considered a creation of the magician’s wand. It was named Sumner in honor of the great Massachusetts senator. Its official motto was ‘Pro lege et grege’ (For the law and the people). This would, in the light of subsequent events, have been more suggestive: ‘I shall fall, like a bright exhalation in the evening.’

“Sumner’s first citizens came mostly from Massachusetts, and were imbued with the spirit of creed and cant, self-reliance and fanaticism that could have been born only on Plymouth Rock. They had come to the frontier to make Kansas a free State and to build a city, within whose walls all previous conditions of slavery should be disregarded and where all men born should be regarded equal. The time—1856—was auspicious. Kansas was both a great political and military battlefield, upon which the question of the institution of slavery was to be settled for all time.

“The growth of Sumner was phenomenal. A lithograph printed in 1857 shows streets of stately buildings, imposing seats of learning, church spires that pierced the clouds, elegant hotels and theaters, the river full of floating palaces, its levee lined with bales and barrels of merchandise, and the white smoke from numerous factories hanging over the city like a banner of peace and prosperity. To one who in that day approached Sumner from the east and saw it across the river, which like a burnished mirror, reflected its glories, it did indeed present an imposing aspect.

“One day the steamboat Duncan S. Carter landed at Sumner. On its hurricane deck was John J. Ingalls, then only twenty-four years old. As his eye swept the horizon his prophetic soul uttered these words: ‘Behold the home of the future senator from Kansas.’ Here the young college graduate, who since that day became the senator from Kansas, lived and dreamed until Sumner’s star had set and Atchison’s sun had risen, and then he moved to Atchison, bringing with him Sumner’s official seal and the key to his hotel.

“Here lived that afterwards brilliant author and journalist, Albert D. Richardson, whose tragic death some years ago in the counting room of the _New York Tribune_ is well remembered. His ‘Beyond the Mississippi’ is to this day the most fascinating account ever written of the boundless West.

“Here lived the nine-year-old Minnie Hauk, who was one day to become a renowned prima donna and charm two continents with her voice, and who was to wed the Count Wartegg. Minnie was born in poverty and cradled in adversity. Her mother was a poor washerwoman in Sumner.

“Here lived John E. Remsburg, the now noted author, lecturer and free-thinker. Mr. Remsburg has probably delivered more lectures in the last thirty years than any man in America. He is now the leader of the Free-Thought Federation of America.

“Here Walter A. Wood, the big manufacturer of agricultural implements, lived and made and mended wagons. Here Lovejoy, ‘the Yankee preacher,’ preached and prayed. Here lived ‘Brother’ and ‘Sister’ Newcomb, from whom has descended a long line of zealous and eminent Methodists. Here was born Paul Hull, the well known Chicago journalist.

“And Sumner was the city that the Rev. Pardee Butler lifted up his hands and blessed and prophesied would grow and wax fat when the ‘upper landing’ would sleep in a dishonored and forgotten grave, as he floated by it on his raft, clad in tar and feathers. The ‘upper landing’ was the opprobrious title conferred by Sumner upon Atchison. The two towns were bitter enemies. Sumner was ‘abolitionist;’ Atchison was ‘border ruffian.’ In Atchison the ‘nigger’ was a slave; in Sumner he was a fetich. It was in Atchison that the ‘abolition preacher,’ Pardee Butler, was tarred and feathered and set adrift on a raft in the river. He survived the tortures of his coat of degradation and the ‘chuck-holes’ of the Missouri river and lived to become a prohibition fanatic and a Democratic Presidential elector.

“Jonathan Lang, alias ‘Shang,’ the hero of Senator Ingalls’ ‘Catfish Aristocracy,’ and the ‘last mayor of Sumner,’ lived and died in Sumner. When all his lovely companions had faded and gone ‘Shang’ still pined on the stem. The senator’s description of this type of a vanished race is unique:

“‘To the most minute observer his age was a question of the gravest doubt. He might have been thirty; he might have been a century, with no violation of the probabilities. His hair was a sandy sorrel, something like a Rembrandt interior, and strayed around his freckled scalp like the top layer of a hayrick in a tornado. His eyes were two ulcers, half filled with pale blue starch. A thin, sharp nose projected above a lipless mouth that seemed always upon the point of breaking into the most grievous lamentations, and never opened save to take whiskey and tobacco in and let oaths and saliva out. A long, slender neck, yellow and wrinkled after the manner of a lizard’s belly, bore this dome of thought upon its summit, itself projecting from a miscellaneous assortment of gent’s furnishing goods, which covered a frame of unearthly longitude and unspeakable emaciation. Thorns and thongs supplied the place of buttons upon the costume of this Brummel of the bottom, coarsely patched beyond recognition of the original fabric. The coat had been constructed for a giant, the pants for a pigmy. They were too long in the waist and too short in the leg, and flapped loosely around his shrunk shanks high above the point where his fearful feet were partially concealed by mismated shoes that permitted his great toes to peer from their gaping integuments, like the heads of two snakes of a novel species and uncommon fetor. This princely phenomenon was topped with a hat which had neither band nor brim nor crown:

“‘If that could shape be called which shape has none.

“‘His voice was high, shrill and querulous, and his manner an odd mixture of fawning servility and apprehensive effrontery at the sight of a “damned Yankee abolitionist,” whom he hated and feared next to a negro who was not a slave.’

“The only error in the senator’s description of ‘Shang’ is that ‘Shang’ was ‘abolitionist’ himself, and ‘fit to free the nigger.’

‘Shang’ continued to live in Sumner until every house, save his miserable hut, had vanished like the baseless fabric of a vision. He claimed and was proud of the title, ‘the last mayor of Sumner.’ He died a few years ago, and a little later lightning struck his cabin and it was devoured by flames. And thus passed away the last relic of Sumner.

“In the flood tide of Sumner’s prosperity, 1856 to 1859—for before that it was nothing, after that nothing—it had ambition to become the county seat of the newly organized county of Atchison. J. P. Wheeler, president of the Sumner Town Company, was a member of the lower house of the Territorial legislature, and he ‘logrolled’ a bill through that body conferring upon Sumner the title of county seat, but the Atchison ‘gang’ finally succeeded in getting the bill killed in the senate. Subsequently, October, 1858, there was an election to settle the vexed question of a county seat. Atchison won; Sumner lost.

“About this time Atchison secured its first railroad. The smoke from the locomotive engines drifted to Sumner and enveloped it like a pall. The decadence was at hand, and Sumner’s race to extinction and oblivion was rapid. One day there was an exodus of citizens; the houses were torn down and the timbers thereof carted away, and foundation stones were dug up and carried hence. Successive summers’ rains and winters’ snows furrowed streets and alleys beyond recognition and filled foundation excavations to the level, and ere long a tangled mass of briers and brambles hid away the last vestige of the once busy, ambitious city. The forest, again unvexed by ax or saw, asserted his dominion once more, and today, beneath the shadow cast by mighty oaks and sighing cottonwoods, Sumner lies dead and forgotten.”

In the above article, reference is made by Mr. Park to Jonathan Lang, and it is important in this connection to print herewith an excerpt from the _Atchison Daily Globe_, December, 1915, relating to this interesting character, which follows:

“The reunion of the Thirteenth Kansas infantry at Hiawatha Tuesday recalls that the late Jonathan G. Lang, self-styled ‘Mayor of Old Sumner,’ and hero of John J. Ingalls’ ‘Catfish Aristocracy,’ was a soldier in this regiment, and was the butt of many jokes on the part of his comrades in camp as he was in the days of civil life at old Sumner. Thomas J. Payne, a sergeant in the Thirteenth, now living in California, relates an amusing story of ‘Old Shang,’ as Lang was generally called by his comrades: When the regiment was mustered into service on September 28, 1862, and the newly assigned officers were reviewing their troops at Camp Stanton, in Atchison, the tall, gaunt form of Lang (for he was nearly seven feet tall and very angular) towered above the rest of the men like the stately cottonwood above the hazel-brush. Riding up and down the lines, and scanning the troops with critical eye to see that there was no breech of ranks or decorum, the gaze of Colonel Bowen could not help but fall upon the lofty and lanky form of Lang, rising several heads above any of his comrades. The colonel paused, and pointing his finger at the grenadier form in the ranks, shouted in thunderous tones, ‘Get down off that stump.’ A ripple of suppressed laughter immediately passed along the lines, and when Colonel Bowen saw his mistake he promptly revoked his order with a hearty chuckle and rode on towards the end of the column. And not until twenty years later, when all that was mortal of old Lang—his nearly seven feet of skin and bones—was laid way to moulder with the ruins of old Sumner, did he finally ‘get down off of that stump.’ He rests at the entrance of the Sumner cemetery and his grave is marked with one of those small, regulation slabs such as are furnished by the Government for the graves of dead soldiers and bears this simple inscription: ‘J. G. Lang, Co. K. 13th Kansas Infantry.’ There are two other members of the Thirteenth Kansas buried at Sumner. They are, John Scott, of Company D, and Albred Brown, of Company F.”

Another article relating to Old Sumner, which is entertaining and instructive, was written by E. W. Howe, and is taken from the Historical Edition of the _Atchison Daily Globe_, issued July 16, 1894:

“The founder of Sumner was John P. Wheeler, a red-headed, blue-eyed, consumptive, slim, freckled enthusiast from Massachusetts. He was a surveyor by profession, and also founded the town of Hiawatha. He was one of the adventurers who came to Kansas as a result of the excitement of 1855–’56, and was only twenty-one years old when he came West. Most of the men who had much to do with early Kansas history were young.

“The town was not named for Charles Sumner, as is generally supposed, but for his brother, George Sumner, one of the original stockholders. At that time Atchison was controlled by Southern sympathizers—P. T. Abell, the Stringfellows, the McVeys, A. J. Westbrook and others—and abolitionists were not welcome in the town. It was believed that a city would be built within a few miles of this point, as it was favorable for overland freighting, being farther West than any other point on the Missouri river. On the old French maps Atchison was known as the ‘Grand Detour,’ meaning the great bend in the river to the westward.

“Being a violent abolitionist, John P. Wheeler determined to establish a town where abolitionists would be welcome, and Sumner was the result. The town was laid out in 1856, and the next year Wheeler had a lithograph made, which he took East for use in booming his town.

“Among others captured by means of this lithograph was John J. Ingalls. Wheeler and Ingalls were both acquainted with a Boston man of means named Samuel A. Walker. Wheeler wanted Walker to invest in Sumner, and as Walker knew that Ingalls was anxious to go West, he asked him to stop at Sumner and report upon it as a point for the investment of Boston money.

“Mr. Ingalls arrived in Sumner on the 4th of October, 1858, on the steamer Duncan S. Carter, which left St. Louis four days before. The town then contained about two thousand people, five hundred more than Atchison; but Sumner was already declining, and Mr. Ingalls did not advise his friend, Walker, to invest.

“A hotel building costing $16,000.00, had been built by Samuel Hollister. A famous steamboat cook had charge of the kitchen in the old days, and the stages running between Jefferson City and St. Joe stopped there every day for dinner. Jefferson City was then the end of the railroad—the Pacific Railroad of Missouri, now the Missouri Pacific— which runs through the deserted site of Sumner, and directly over the foundation of the wagon factory built by Levi A. Woods. This wagon factory was one of the results of Wheeler’s audacious lithograph, and few wagons were actually manufactured. The factory was heavily insured, and burned.

“Albert R. Richardson was a citizen of Sumner, when Mr. Ingalls arrived there; also James Hauk, the father of Minnie Hauk, who has since become famous as a singer in grand opera. James Hauk was a carpenter, whose wife operated a boarding house. Minnie Hauk waited on the table, and was noted among the boarders as a smart little girl with a long yellow braid down her back, who could play the piano pretty well. The next year Hauk made a house boat and floated down the river to New Orleans.

“When John J. Ingalls went to Sumner, a young man of twenty-four, he took great interest in such characters as Archie Boler and Jonathan Grander Lang. Lang was a jug fisherman in the river, melon raiser, truck patch farmer and town drunkard. Ingalls says that Lang was really a bright fellow. He had been a dragoon in the Mexican War, and his stories of experiences in the West were intensely interesting. Ingalls used to go out in Lang’s boat when he was jugging for catfish and spend hours listening to his talk. Finally Ingalls wrote his ‘Catfish Aristocracy,’ and Lang recognized himself as the hero. He was very indignant and threatened to sue Ingalls, having been advised by some jackleg lawyer that the article was libelous. Lang lived on a piece of land belonging to Ingalls at the time, and Ingalls told the writer of this the other day that it was actually true that he settled with Lang for a sack of flour and a side of bacon. Lang served in the Civil war, and long after its close, when his old friend was president of the United States Senate, he secured him a pension and a lot of back pay. But this he squandered in marrying. His pension money was a curse to him, for it only served to put a lot of wolves on his trail.

“When the war broke out the Atchison men who objected to abolitionists settling in their town were driven out of the country, and this attracted a good many of the citizens of Sumner. But its death blow came in June, 1860, when nearly every house in the place was either blown down or badly damaged by a tornado. This was the first and only tornado in the history of this immediate section.”

Reference is made in both of these articles to John J. Ingalls, who arrived in Sumner from Boston, Mass., October 4, 1858. Mr. Ingalls was a graduate of Williams College a short time before, and at the time he decided to go West he was a student in a law office in Boston, where his attention was first called to Sumner by an elaborate lithograph of the town displayed by Mr. Wheeler, the promoter. The impressions of Mr. Ingalls upon his arrival in Sumner are, therefore, pertinent and convey some idea of the shock he received when he landed at the Sumner levee. In a letter which he subsequently wrote describing the event, he said:

“That chromatic triumph of lithographed mendacity, supplemented by the loquacious embellishments of a lively adventurer who has been laying out town sites and staking off corner lots for some years past in Tophet, exhibited a scene in which the attractions of art, nature, science, commerce and religion were artistically blended. Innumerable drays were transporting from a fleet of gorgeous steamboats vast cargoes of foreign and domestic merchandise over Russ pavements to colossal warehouses of brick and stone. Dense, wide streets of elegant residences rose with gentle ascent from the stores of the tranquil stream. Numerous parks, decorated with rare trees, shrubbery and fountains were surrounded with the mansions of the great and the temples of their devotion. The adjacent eminences were crowned with costly piles which wealth, directed by intelligence and controlled by taste, had erected for the education of the rising generation of Sumnerites. The only shadow upon the enchanting landscape fell from the clouds of smoke that poured from the towering shafts of her acres of manufactories, while the whole circumference of the undulating prairie was white with endless, sinuous trains of wagons, slowly moving toward the mysterious region of the Farther West.”



Ocena was laid out in Atchison county in 1855, and for a time it gave promise of becoming an important place. Ocena was located on the northeast bank of Stranger creek, on what is known as the McBride farm, in the south half of the northeast quarter of section 22, township 6, range 19, about a mile north of the present site of Pardee. The first postoffice in Center township, and one of the first in Atchison county, was established at Ocena with William Crosby as postmaster in August, 1855. In 1856, T. C. McBride was appointed postmaster, and served until the office was removed to Pardee in 1858, when S. G. Moore was appointed postmaster.

T. C. McBride was one of the early settlers of Center township, having arrived there in March, 1856, and settled on the land on which the town of Ocena was built. He was one of the early merchants of the place, having a small store, in which he kept the postoffice. The mail was carried from Atchison to Ocena by stage. McBride was a Tennesseean, born in 1826. In the fall of 1857, in a grove on the McBride farm, the first church service in that section was held. It was of the Methodist Episcopal denomination.

Ocena was the first important stopping place west of Atchison. The old _Squatter Sovereign_, of Atchison, in its issue of December 5, 1857, contained the following advertisement of the town: “The truth plainly told will show that Ocena is already a city. The surface of the earth was so moulded by the plastic hand of the Creator that a few points in the wide expanse of Nature were destined to eclipse all others. Ocena is one of those points. Located as it is, on the northeast bank of Stranger creek, in the county of Atchison, where roads leading from Doniphan and St. Joe to Lecompton are intersected by roads leading from Atchison to Grasshopper Falls and Osawkee; and also being upon the great thoroughfare running up and down the valley of the Stranger, it offers more inducements for a large and prosperous inland town than any other place in Kansas Territory. All persons anxious to thrive and desirous of obtaining a home on reasonable terms will do well to settle in Ocena. For further particulars in reference to the town apply to Isaac S. Hascall, president, or M. C. Finney, secretary.”

_Freedom’s Champion_, in its issue of July 3, 1858, says of the town: “Ocena, besides having the most musical name, is one of the most beautiful places in Kansas. A postoffice has been established there and several new buildings are being erected. It is destined to be a thriving little place.”

Ocena was killed by Pardee, a town which was started a short distance to the south of it, but neither amounted to much from a municipal and business standpoint. Pardee is now only a country village. It was first platted as a town by James Brewer, in the string of 1857, and was named in honor of Pardee Butler, of border warfare fame. In the winter of 1856 Mr. Butler preached his first sermon in Pardee, the services being held in the school house, which had been completed during the previous fall, and opened by James Brewer in December. Caleb May, the first settler in Center township, was the first president of the Pardee Town Company. Pardee Butler was afterwards president; Milo Carleton, secretary; Wm. J. May, treasurer; S. G. Moore, A. Elliott and W. Wakefield, trustees. Mr. Moore opened the first store in Pardee in 1858, and became the first postmaster as aforestated. Mr. Carleton put a wind gristmill in operation at Pardee at an early day, but it was destroyed by a storm.



Lancaster is one of the oldest towns in the county. In the issue of October 16, 1858, of _Freedom’s Champion_, the following advertisement with reference to Lancaster appears:


“Lancaster City is the name of a new town just springing into existence. It is located 10 miles direct west of our city (Atchison) Atchison county, K. T., on the east half of Section 32, Township 5, Range 19, the great military road to Fts. Kearney, Laramie, Bridge, and to Santa Fe, Utah, Washington Territory, Gadson Purchase, California, New Mexico, etc., passes through the town site. Also roads leading from Nebraska City, St. Joseph, Doniphan, and to Grasshopper Falls, Topeka, Lecompton and Lawrence.

“A more beautiful situation for a large and prosperous city could not be found in the Territory, or the Great West. Its site is rolling and dry, climate healthy and salubrious as heart could wish for. The surrounding country cannot be surpassed for its magnificent undulating prairies, being one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the whole country.

“Excellent coal, building stone and timber, within two, and two and a half miles. This town has been under way but little over two months, and notwithstanding the hard times, quite a number of buildings are already erected, among which will be found a large and commodious hotel, a good store, blacksmith and carpenter shops, post office, etc., etc. Arrangements are made for the erection of several more dwelling houses, also for the erection during this month, of a Union church, (the first in the county) and with liberty heretofore unequalled in Kansas, Mr. J. W. Smith, the President of the Company, authorizes us to say that he will give good lots gratis to mechanics, laborers, and others, who will apply for them soon, or who will erect improvements on them in six months, worth $200 or more. This, we think, a good chance for men who want a comfortable home in the best section of our country. The company now offer to sell lots or shares at reasonable rates, and are prepared to make warrantee deeds for the same, having purchased the site and obtained the title for the same of the Government of the United States on the 26th day of June, 1858. Persons wishing to live in an interior town, will do well to visit Lancaster before investing elsewhere.”

While this little town did not prove to be all that its promoters expected of it, it continued as a good trading point for many years, and in 1916 remains one of the prosperous communities of the county. In addition to the one bank which it supports, reference to which has already been made, Lancaster, in 1915, has seven stores, a two-room public school, three churches, one elevator, one lumber yard, a good hotel and a garage. In 1915 its enterprising citizens built an electric high tensioned line connecting with the Effingham line out of Atchison, to supply the town with electric lights, and its citizens are now enjoying all the benefits of electricity.

About 80,000 bushels of grain, and an average of seventy-five cars of live stock are shipped out of Lancaster annually. Its merchants are enterprising and prosperous, and many comfortable and commodious homes have been built in this little town. It is located in one of the finest agricultural sections of the county, and the surrounding country is in a state of high cultivation, and peopled by prosperous and thrifty farmers.



In the _Squatter Sovereign_ of March 11, 1856, published at Atchison, appeared the following advertisement of Port William:

“This new and beautiful town site is situated on the Missouri river, in Kansas Territory, three or four miles above the town of Iatan, in the heart of the most densely populated part of Kansas; surrounded by the finest soil and timber in that Territory, with a permanent landing, commanding a view of the river for several miles above and below. The principal part of said town is located on a bed of stone coal of the best quality. Arrangements are being made to have said stone coal bed opened and wrought by a joint stock company early in the spring, at which time there will be a sale of lots. There is now in course of erection a good steam saw mill, which will be in successful operation in a few weeks; also, a large and commodious tavern is in process of erection, which will be opened for the accommodation of the public in a short time. Persons wishing to procure lots immediately will have opportunity of so doing by calling on Henry Bradley or Jonathan Hartman, both of whom are authorized agents to sell and dispose of lots, and one or both may at all times be found on the premises ready to accommodate purchasers upon the most liberal terms. H. B. Wallace, Amos Rees, Henry Debard, H. C. Bradley, H. B. Herndon, James G. Spratt, W. C. Remington, James W. Bradley, P. J. Collins, trustees.”

Of the above named trustees Judge James G. Spratt, W. C. Remington and Henry Debard were prominent citizens of Platte county, Missouri, and members of the town company that incorporated Port William in 1855. James M. and Henry Bradley and H. B. Herndon were also members of this company. Henry Debard was a Kentuckian, born in Clark county, November 24, 1801, and came to Platte county at an early day, later removing to Kansas. He was a prominent Mason, and took an active part in Masonic work in Missouri for many years. He was a cabinet maker, but did not work much at his trade. He died in Platte City, October 5, 1875.

Amos Rees was born at Winchester, Va., December 2, 1800, and came to Missouri at an early age, locating in Platte county, March 1, 1845. For many years he was a prominent attorney of that county. He moved to Kansas in 1855, and died, December 29, 1885. Dr. H. B. Wallace, who was interested in Port William, was a physician at Platte City, and a member of the town board in 1858. He invested largely in St. Jose, and the war reduced him almost to poverty. He died, February 24, 1863. Judge Paxton, in his “Annals of Platte County,” simply mentions him as having married the “beautiful and accomplished Ann E. Owen.”

J. Butler Chapman arrived in Kansas in the spring of 1854, made a trip over the territory, and then published a small volume, entitled “History of Kansas and Emigrant’s Guide.” He refers to Port William as “Williamsport, a prospective town a short distance above Kickapoo.” “The bluffs,” he continues, “are high and precipitous, and the land broken until you reach the high rolling prairie back some three miles. The whole country is settled on with a view of preëmption.”

A company known as the Port William Sharp’s Rifles, numbering eighty-one, rank and file, was formed at Port William, in October, 1856. The commissioned officers elected were James Adkins, captain; Henry C. Bradley, first lieutenant; James M. Bradley, second lieutenant; S. Bowman, third lieutenant. The company was enrolled, or was intended to be enrolled, in the first regiment, first brigade, northern division of the Kansas militia, and applied for arms and commissions. The Port William Town Company was incorporated by an act of the Territorial legislature in 1855 and the town company was composed of William C. Remington, James G. Spratt, Henry Debard, James M. Bradley, Henry Bradley, Horace B. Herndon and William B. Almond.

General William B. Almond, one of the incorporators of Pt. William, was a noted man in the West in the early days. He was a Virginian, who came to Platte county, Missouri, when the Platte Purchase was opened, and settled near the Buchanan county line. At a very early period he had been connected with the American Fur Company, and as a mountaineer had many adventures. During the thirties he was a brigadier general of the State militia in Missouri. He was one of the foremost “Forty-niners” to California, leading a company to the land of gold, among whom was Ben Holladay, afterwards famous as the originator of the “pony express” and other Western enterprises. While in California General Almond distinguished himself as a Territorial judge in San Francisco. Returning to Platte county in 1851 he was elected circuit judge, was a candidate for lieutenant governor, and filled other offices and places of distinction and prominence. He was also connected with mercantile, milling and other enterprises. He lived for some time in Topeka and Leavenworth, and died at the latter place in 1860.

Judge James G. Spratt, another of the promoters of old Port William, was also a man of some prominence. He came to the West from Smith county, Virginia, where he was born, 1826, and, like General Almond, settled in Platte county at a very early day. In 1843 he was appointed a justice of the peace in Platte county, and was afterwards deputy county clerk, probate judge and held other positions. For some time he was engaged in the practice of law, and was in partnership with Hon. Joseph E. Merryman, in Platte City. In 1864 he went to Montana where he became a mine speculator. He died November 13, 1881, and his remains were brought back to Platte for burial. W. H. Spratt, a brother of Judge Spratt, was at one time sheriff of Platte county.

William C. Remington was another pioneer of Platte, like General Almond and Judge Spratt, a Virginian by birth, who came west at a very early day. He was one of the early assessors of Platte county, and subsequently was elected circuit clerk. He was one of the trustees of the Platte City Town Company when it was incorporated in 1843. He was also a member of the company that laid off the town of St. Mary’s at the mouth of Bee creek in 1857, but no lots were ever sold. Mr. Remington was one of the early merchants of Platte City, one of the proprietors of the _Platte City Weekly Atlas_, and was interested in various other enterprises. His handsome brick residence in Platte City was among those burned by federal orders in July, 1864. He died December 20, 1864, in Omaha, where he was operating a hotel.

Of Henry Debard, another member of the Port William Town Company, the writer has not yet found any record. The Bradleys lived in Platte county, opposite Port William for many years, moved over to the Kansas side early in 1854, and with Squire Horace B. Herndon started the old town. The Bradleys opened a general store and James M. Bradley was appointed postmaster when the postoffice was established in April, 1855. Squire Herndon was one of the earliest justices of the peace in Kansas, and had much business in his court in the early days, as Port William was one of the roughest of the border towns.

Port William was located eight miles below Atchison. It is one of the most interesting localities from a historical standpoint in Atchison county and northeastern Kansas. It is one of the oldest settlements in Kansas, and for a time in the early days was one of the promising villages of the territory. In fact, it was of enough importance, not in size, but as a prospective populace, to be mentioned by travelers of that time, as one of the principal towns of Kansas. Father Pierre Jean de Smet, the Jesuit missionary, in a letter written February 26, 1859, says: “A great number of towns and villages have sprung up as if by enchantment in the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska. The principal towns of Kansas are Wyandotte, Delaware, Douglas, Marysville, Iola, Atchison, Ft. Scott, Pawnee, Lecompton, Neosho, Richmond, Tecumseh, Lawrence, Port William, Doniphan, Paola, Alexandria, Indianola, Easton, Leavenworth and others.” The history of old Doniphan, Sumner and Kickapoo has long been well established, but that of Port William has been neglected and has remained obscure. Port William never was much of a town, as were its rivals, Doniphan, Sumner and Kickapoo, but it was proposedly in the race for municipal supremacy in the pioneer days, and though its star may never have attained the ascendency, its story is at least worthy of preservation in the archives of Atchison county history.

Port William was started in 1856 by Henry and James M. Bradley, John T. and Albred Bailey, and Jonathan Hartman. The two Bradleys and John T. Bailey composed the town company. The Bradleys conducted a general store, and a postoffice was established in April, 1855, with Henry Bradley as first postmaster. This was the first postoffice in Walnut township. Jonathan Hartman owned and operated a sawmill, the first in Atchison county, in 1854, and made the first lumber ever sawed in the county. There were several saloons, and later a blacksmith shop, a carpenter shop and other small industries were started. It has been surmised by someone that Port Williams, as it is sometimes called, was named for a Missouri river steamboat captain named Williams, as steamboats often tied up at the place in the early days. There are others who believe it was so-called for the late “Uncle Frank” Williams, one of the fathers of the colored settlement which was started in that vicinity at a later day. The correct name of the place, however, is Port William, instead of Port Williams, and it is known that it was so named more than fifty years ago, or nearly twenty years before “Uncle Frank” Williams settled there. The correct origin of the name is probably given by the late W. J. Bailey, of Atchison, who was one of the very first settlers of that vicinity. He said that in 1854 a man named William Johnson came across from the settlement about Iatan, Mo., and took up the claim on which Port William was afterwards built. It was a likely claim and Johnson soon had trouble on his hands in holding the property. Several men tried to chase him off with guns, but Johnson managed to make such a good defense as to repel them. He stayed in his cabin a week, not daring to come out for fear of being shot. He won out and held the claim. The other fellows then referred to his cabin as Fort William (that was his first name). Soon after Jake Yunt, from Missouri, established a hand ferryboat, and by and by steamboats began to land there. Then the name was changed to Port William, and this is the proper name of the place, although on the Missouri Pacific station board now standing there it is marked “Port Williams.”

There are but few men who came to Atchison county earlier than W. J. Bailey, of Atchison. He crossed the river from Platte county on June 12, 1854, and settled at Port William, and, with the exception of a few years’ residence in Colorado, has lived in this county ever since. Luther Dickerson, who was generally known as the “oldest inhabitant,” came here the same month that Mr. Bailey did. When Mr. Bailey first arrived at Port William he built a one room cabin on his claim near that place, and to do so was obliged to drag logs with one horse a distance of a mile and a half. In 1855 he brought his cattle over. He said the grass all over this county was ankle deep and afforded fine pasturage. There was no town at Atchison then, but Challiss Bros. conducted a store on the river bank, and George Million operated a hand ferryboat. Mr. Bailey worked for Million three years.

“Those were happy times,” said Mr. Bailey, “we met around among neighboring cabins and had parties. When we had a fiddle we danced.” For several years Mr. Bailey was with a freighting crew between Ft. Leavenworth and Ft. Kearney, most of the time as a wagon-master. They generally drove twenty-six wagons with six yoke of oxen to each wagon and hauled Government supplies. Once they were surrounded by Indians and were in imminent danger of being annihilated, when General Harney with a company of troops came to their rescue and chased the red-skins to Ash Hollow, near Ft. Kearney, where a bloody skirmish took place and the Indians were routed. Speaking of old Port William, Mr. Bailey said: “Although laid out as an investment, the town was a failure. The little creek flowed through the center of the town, dividing the stores and saloons from the sawmill, blacksmith shop and carpenter shop. No city government encased the stream with cement tiling, and the best bridge the town ever afforded was built by felling a cottonwood tree across the stream.” Port William had its “town bullies” and fights were of frequent occurrence. Mr. Bailey said that the “town bullies” were Dan McLoud, Bill Pates and Bob Gibson. “It was common,” he said, “for farmers to go to Port William every Saturday afternoon to witness the fights and drunks.” On one occasion a man was badly shot up and another jumped into the river and swam across. Mr. Bailey said the first election there contained 250 ballots, although only sixty people voted. There were two ballot boxes, one controlled by the pro-slavery and the other by the Free State people. Eight or ten men stood around the balloting places with guns, and people voted five or six times, though under different names.

The “village blacksmith” of old Port William, and one of the early justices of the peace of Walnut township, was Thomas J. Payne, later living at Canyon City, Colo. Mr. Payne settled at Port William, March 18, 1855, and was one of the pioneer blacksmiths of Kansas. He operated blacksmith shops at three of the old towns of Atchison county, Port William, Sumner and Mt. Pleasant. He was appointed a justice of the peace by Governor Shannon, in 1856. The office of “county squire” was of more importance in those stirring times than it is now. Mr. Payne’s son, Charles Sumner Payne, was the first child born at old Sumner. His birth occurred September 25, 1857. He was named by the town company, who made out and presented to him a deed for a lot in the once thriving city. Another son was born at Sumner on the day that John Brown was hanged, and was named for the great abolitionist. A third son was named for Jim Lane. Thomas J. Payne enlisted as a private in Company F, Thirteenth Kansas infantry, at Atchison, August 20, 1862, and was later promoted to orderly sergeant. He was discharged at Ft. Smith, Ark., October 29, 1864. Then he was immediately appointed by the secretary of war first lieutenant of Company B, First Regiment of Kansas infantry, colored. He took part in many engagements, and was mustered out in August, 1865. He was born in Georgetown, Ohio, the town in which General Grant was born. There are few men in Kansas who have served as a justice of the peace longer than Mr. Payne. He held the office in Atchison county for a number of years, at Robinson, Kan., for eighteen years, and later at Horton, Kan., for several years.

The old Horace B. Herndon farm at Port William, now owned and occupied by Frank Bluma, Sr., was known as the “Old Indian farm,” in the early days. According to W. J. Bailey it was so-called because an Indian known as “Kickapoo John” located on it previous to the settlement of Kansas by the whites and was still living there with numerous other Indians when Mr. Bailey first came to that locality. Mr. Bailey said that the butts of tepee poles could be seen sticking in the ground on the site of Port William for some time afterwards. In 1854 Horace B. Herndon preëmpted the “Old Indian farm,” built a cabin thereon at the southwest corner of the field near the creek, and put an old negro slave in it to hold the claim for him. The old darkey died and was buried in the family burying ground on the farm about 1855. He was probably the first colored man who ever lived and died in what afterwards became famous as the “Port William colored settlement.” This was about twenty years before this community became generally settled by colored people. The old Herndon family residence, one of the landmarks of this region, is still standing and is occupied by Frank Bluma and family. There is evidence that the “old Indian farm” was occupied by Indians long before “Kickapoo John’s” time for the old field is strewn with various fragments representing the stone age and prehistoric times. Mr. Herndon died a number of years ago. He was another of the early justices of the peace of Walnut township and was generally known as “Squire” Herndon. He was also a public administrator for Atchison county, and was one of the most prominent citizens of the southern part of the county for many years. He was the father of Mrs. Henry King and James Herndon, residents of Round Prairie. Mrs. King, then Miss Virginia Herndon, was the “belle” of the old town of Port William, and was a social favorite throughout this section of the county.

Another early settler of Port William was Henry Luth, the veteran carpenter, who moved from Atchison to Leavenworth. Mr. Luth lived in Port William for several years in the early fifties, removing to Atchison in 1857. He built many of the first houses in this section of the country. A large walnut cupboard and other furniture in Mr. Luth’s home he made from walnut timber cut at Port William and sawed into lumber at the old Hartman sawmill at that place. Mr. Luth had a little shop at Port William in which he made furniture. Henry Hausner, Atchison’s well known commission merchant, took a claim at Port William in 1855, but was cheated out of it. Andy Brown, for many years an Atchison flagman, was an early settler of Port William. With Thomas Taylor, now living at Perry, Kan., he crossed the river to Kansas on Jake Yunt’s ferry just above Port William in 1854. Mr. Brown’s father had taken a claim at Port William and Taylor one adjoining it. The latter helped Samuel Dickson build his cabin shanty on the site of Atchison in the fall of 1854.

Ex-Sheriff Fred Hartman, of this county, now deceased, lived at Port William in the early days. His father, Jonathan Hartman, in 1854, put into operation at that place one of the very first sawmills in the Territory. It furnished lumber for many of the first houses in this section. The lumber was sawed from the fine timber which grew along Little Walnut creek. Fred Hartman said that in 1856 Bob Gibson brought his famous “Kickapoo Rangers” to Port William for the purpose of lynching his father, Jonathan Hartman, on account of his most avowed Free Soil principles. They stayed around a while, and as Mr. Hartman did not seem to be the least bit intimidated, they finally left and never molested him again. It was during this time that Pardee Butler was placed on a raft at Atchison and set adrift in the river. He landed just above Port William, and went at once to Mr. Hartman’s for assistance. Not deeming it safe for Mr. Butler to remain in Port William, Mr. Hartman took him out to the home of Jasper Oliphant, about two miles west of the village, where he stayed at night and finally reached his home in safety. Jasper Oliphant was another of the earliest settlers of this locality. He was assassinated some years ago by Bob Scruggs, a desperate character, who at the same time shot and killed John Groff, another prominent Walnut township citizen, and Scruggs was captured and hanged to a tree near Oak Mills. The tragic deaths of two such substantial citizens as Mr. Oliphant and Mr. Groff produced a profound sensation throughout Walnut township. In the spring of 1857 Jonathan Hartman sold his sawmill and moved to a farm near the present site of Parnell, where he died. Fred Hartman served during the war in the Thirteenth Kansas with Thomas J. Payne, mentioned elsewhere.

The wagon road leading from Port William westward to the “old military road,” bears the unique distinction of crossing the same creek fourteen times in a distance of less than three miles. It is not believed that there is another creek in Atchison county that is crossed an equal number of times by one road. Little Walnut creek, which empties into the Missouri river at Port William, has its source near the Leavenworth county line. It flows northward through a heavily timbered country, and is one of the prettiest little streams in Atchison county. It was formerly called Bragg’s creek, after “Jimmy” Braggs, an early-day Missouri Pacific section foreman, who lived on its banks. Braggs afterward moved to Holton, where he died and the name of the creek was changed to Little Walnut, after its neighbor, Walnut creek, which empties into the river at Dalby, about two miles above.



Arrington is located on the Union Pacific railroad in the southwest part of the county. This town was platted August 20, 1884, and its original promoters were R. A. Van Winkle, D. S. Henecke. John Ballinger, D. D. High, D. A. Benjamin, J. M. Roberson, Michael Baker, J. S. Hopkins, Ira Tabor and George W. Drake. Its streets are numbered one to four, and its cross streets are called Fountain avenue, Delaware street and Forest avenue. Arrington has three general stores, one elevator and a bank. During good crop years, as high as 125 cars of grain and live stock are shipped from its station, and its stores do a good business, rendering fine service to the surrounding territory.

At one time prior to 1890 medicinal springs were located at Arrington and it was quite a resort during the summer months for people living in northeastern Kansas. The town has a good hotel, and in addition to its merchandise establishments it supports a physician and several churches.

For many years a mill was conducted on the Delaware river upon which Arrington is located, operated by water power. This mill was built by John Reider in 1867, who also operated it both as a sawmill and as a grain mill. In 1874 W. H. Stockton joined Mr. Reider, and these two men built a two-story frame mill, but they operated it only one day, as it was mysteriously burned the following night. Shortly thereafter Mr. Reider, undismayed and undiscouraged, associated with himself Albert Ingler, and remembering his previous disastrous experience with fire, Mr. Reider built a stone mill. This firm conducted a successful business for a number of years, drawing patronage for a distance of sixty miles, but in 1879, Mr. Ingler met an untimely death, by drowning as he was crossing the river, a few feet below where the Arrington bridge stands. Mr. Reider sold his interest to D. S. Heneks, who ran the mill until 1906, when John W. Young became its owner. He subsequently turned it over to George W. Stone, since which time it has been in possession of various owners, and in 1916 is owned by Burt McCulley. It has not been operated since 1908, and stands in ruins.

A history of Arrington would be incomplete without the mention of the name of Ransom A. Van Winkle, who was the first settler in Kapioma township, and the founder of the town. Captain Van Winkle was born November 25, 1818, in Wayne county, Kentucky. He was a Hollander by descent, and at one time his great-grandfather, Michael Van Winkle, owned an interest in 13,000 acres of land within twelve miles of New York City, which was sold just prior to the Revolutionary war, for twenty-five cents an acre. Van Winkle received the rudiments of his education in a Kentucky log school house, but was for two years a cadet at West Point and received a good education. He was married twice and had a varied experience in business, at one time owning a large interest in coal lands in Kentucky. He removed to St. Joseph, Mo., in 1849, and in September, 1855, came to Kansas and built the first claim cabin on the Grasshopper, or what is now the Delaware river, above Valley Falls, in Kapioma township. He also built the first steam sawmill, sawed the first lumber, and built the first frame house, and taught the first school in Kapioma township, and was the first postmaster at Arrington. He always took an active part in politics in the county and was a stanch Republican. He was a prominent Free State man in the early struggle in Kansas and contributed liberally to the cause and worked hard in its behalf. He was a justice of the peace in Papioma township for fourteen years; postmaster five years; trustee of Kapioma township eight years; a member of the legislature in 1861 and 1862 and county commissioner of Atchison county for six years. He was patriarchal in appearance and was a conspicuous figure for many years in Republican conventions in Atchison county.



The name of “Muscotah” is of Indian origin, but when, why and by whom it was applied to a town, seems to be a question. “Andreas’ History of Kansas,” in a brief historical mention of the town of Muscotah, says: “The name Muscotah, written in Indian style, Musco-tah, signifies “Beautiful Prairie,” or “Prairie on Fire.” Andreas does not give any authority for this statement, but on page 1343 in a biographical sketch of William D. Barnett, one of the earliest settlers of Muscotah, he says that Mr. Barnett did not name the town, but that it was named by Paschal Pensoneau, the old Kickapoo trader and interpreter. Mr. Kessler was a blacksmith among the Kickapoos at early day.

Maj. C. B. Keith was one of the founders of Muscotah, and an early agent for the Kickapoo Indians. In a letter under date of December 8, 1908, Mrs. Keith, the widow of Major Keith, wrote that Muscotah was named by her husband and her two brothers, William P. and John C. Badger. She corroborates Andreas in his statement that the name signifies “Beautiful Prairie,” or “Prairie on Fire,” and says that Muscotah should be accented on the last syllable. She further says that Paschal Pensoneau may have suggested the name, and incidentally adds: “He was interpreter for my brother, William P. Badger, who was Indian agent under President Buchanan, and later for my husband under Lincoln. He was a good friend for both of my brothers and Major Keith, and accompanied my husband to Washington with the head chiefs when they made their treaty. The original Muscotah was on a fine site and justified the name.”

There is a town in the old Kickapoo country, in Illinois, named Mascoutah, and believing it to be synonymous with the Atchison county name, though slightly different in orthography and pronunciation, Milo Custer, of Heyworth, Ill., the well known authority on the Kickapoos, wrote: “As to the meaning of the names Muscotah and Mascoutah, they are synonymous with the old Algonquin word, Masko-teh, meaning ‘prairies.’ The Kickapoo word for prairies was one among others that I failed to get when I visited the tribe in Kansas in October, 1906. However, I am of the opinion that the word was originally derived from Ma-shi O-shkoo-teh, meaning ‘Big Fire,’ and that it referred to the great prairie fires which swept over the country. In fact I have seen the opinion advanced by some other authority, but cannot now recall the name.” When the Kickapoos lived in Illinois there was a band called the Mas-cou-tins, which Maj. H. W. Beckwith, the highest authority on the Illinois tribes, says was the Indian name for “Indians of the Prairie.” Hence it is evident that the name Muscotah is at least a derivation of the word “prairie,” whether a “beautiful prairie” or “prairie of fire.”

The plat of the Muscotah Town Company was filed by W. P. Badger, one of its proprietors, June 5, 1857, and the town is located in section 34, township 5, range 17, on the Central Branch railroad, near the western edge of the county. Its streets run from one to thirteen, and its cross streets are named Pawpaw, Elm, Vine, Walnut, Mulberry, Hickory and Oak. Following the construction of the Central Branch railroad William Osborn filed another plat of the town, and several amendments have since been made to it. Muscotah has always been an important trading point, and one of the prosperous towns of the county. In 1916 there were three general stores, one hardware store, two banks, two elevators, one lumber yard, two cream stations, two barber shops, one harness shop, two drug stores, two restaurants, a hotel, private boarding house, two garages and blacksmith shops. The town also has four practicing physicians, including an osteopath, and one dentist. The first general store was established by Nels Brown in 1868, and a year later Watson & Guy put in a general hardware store. Hagerman & Roach conducted a grain business in 1865, and the first elevator was built in 1874. Several serious fires have destroyed much property in Muscotah, the largest being known as the Watson fire, which occurred in 1883, destroying much property. The first mayor of the town was Dr. William P. Badger, who was elected in 1882. Albert Harrington was the first postmaster, in 1866. The first physician to locate in the present limits of Muscotah was Dr. L. N. Plummer, who came there in 1869. In 1868 a Dr. Heath located a few miles out from Muscotah, but never lived in the town. Dr. S. M. Riggs came in 1872 and he and Dr. Plummer are both active physicians in the practice in 1916, together with Dr. O. O. Barter and Dr. F. A. Bermen. Years before Muscotah was established there was a small settlement nearby where there were a few houses and a postoffice located about where the Robert Russell farm is. John Keeley, an enterprising early settler, built a flouring mill on the Grasshopper river, now known as the Delaware, in 1869. Mr. Keeley did considerable business with the farmers in the surrounding territory, but business finally fell off and the mill was washed away by high water in 1895.

Muscotah is an important shipping point, and the annual shipment of grain amounts to $150,000 to $200,000. Much live stock is also shipped from Muscotah, and during the year 1915 fifty-two cars of cattle, hogs and horses were shipped to the Kansas City and St. Joseph markets.

Muscotah is also a city of churches and schools. The Congregational church was established in 1866. The pastor of this church in 1916 is Rev. Fred Gray, who preaches to a congregation of about 150. When this church was organized its members worshiped in the home of Robert Russell, which was at that time in the depot, and the church edifice which is now occupied was built in 1914.

The Methodist Episcopal church was established about 1876; it now has a membership of 120, and its pastor is Rev. Rollo J. Fisher.

The Advent Christian church was organized in 1889, and its first pastor was Rev. Marshall McCollough.

Mission Hall is maintained by unattached and unorganized Christians. It holds meeting several times a week, including two services on Sunday.

The public school system of Muscotah includes an accredited high school, in which two four-year courses are offered, together with a general and college preparatory course. R. E. Devor is superintendent of schools, and the officers of the school board are: J. F. Thompson, president; W. D. Roach, treasurer; R. A. Allison, secretary. The first school house within the present limits of the town was built in 1870, but was subsequently destroyed by fire when another school was built in 1885. A six room school was erected, and it was also destroyed by fire in January, 1916. A movement is now under way to build a new, handsome, modern school building, to accommodate twelve grades, together with manual training, domestic science and a gymnasium.

Muscotah is supplied with electricity by high tension line from Atchison, and in 1916 it has forty-two street lamps and fifty-five private consumers.

In addition to being a town of churches and schools, Muscotah also has several active lodges. The Masonic lodge was organized December 20, 1871, by E. D. Hillyer, of Grasshopper Falls, on a dispensation issued by the grand lodge; the charter was issued October 17, 1872, and the officers installed November 16, 1872. The first officers were: Ben F. Freeland, William N. Kline, Thomas H. Phillips, B. G. Merrill, D. M. Stillman, W. Bullock and I. C. Archer.

Purity Council No. 293, Knights and Ladies of Security, was chartered July 6, 1895, with John Edward Lewis, president. It had ten charter members and in 1916 there was a membership of seventy, with George W. Rork, president, and Mrs. Carl Rork, secretary.

Modern Woodmen was chartered in August, 1898. The present officers are W. F. Murray, V. H. Little and G. W. Harris. There are also active lodges of the Mystic Workers, Eastern Star and Royal Neighbors.

Muscotah’s new combination grade and high school, which will take the place of the one destroyed by fire, will cost approximately $20,000, and will be a fire-proof structure of brick and concrete. When completed it will be one of the best school buildings of its kind in any town the size of Muscotah in the State. The present city officials of Muscotah are: William Buckles, mayor; R. A. Hillyer, J. G. Burbank, W. D. Roach, R. H. Trial and R. A. Allison, councilmen; H. M. Turner, city clerk; E. M. Hicks, police judge, and S. B. Liggatt, marshal.



Effingham, the seat of Atchison county high school, is an incorporated town, located sixteen miles west of Atchison, on the Central Branch railroad, and was first platted by William Osborne April 4, 1868, who built the first hundred miles of the Central Branch railroad, and is located on a part of the southwest quarter of section 15 and the northwest quarter of section 22, township 6, range 18. The original plat contained only eight blocks and was subsequently cancelled. February 6, 1871, Major W. F. Downs, land commissioner of the Central Branch railroad, filed another plat in which one block was dedicated as a public park and the streets numbered from one to ten, with cross streets as follows: Elizabeth, Seabury, Howard, George, William, and John. At the opening of the Central Branch railroad Effingham enjoyed quite a boom and it has remained one of the finest towns in northeastern Kansas ever since.

There was a settlement around Effingham for a number of years prior to the location of the townsite, and it was quite a trading point. Effingham is located on a broad sweep of prairie land, but there is very little of romance or legend connected with the town. There is one thing, however, for which it has always been noted, and to this extent Effingham occupies an unique place in the towns, not only of Atchison county, but of Kansas, namely: It has never been without a good hotel. The original hotel was known far and wide throughout the country and was conducted by Aunt Betty Benton, a famous cook, who not only gave her guests good things to eat, but made of her hotel a favorite stopping place for the traveling public on account of the hospitable way in which she ran it. Uncle Jack Martin succeeded Aunt Betty and for many years thereafter kept up the high standard set by her. Then came Thomas F. Cook, whose kindly welcome made friends for him among the hundreds of visitors that came to Effingham from year to year, and who never left his hotel without a full meal. Mr. Cook was succeeded by Mrs. Frank Pitman, and she in turn was succeeded by Mrs. Davis, who, in 1915, is conducting the hotel at Effingham and maintains the high standard of excellence of food and hospitality set by her predecessors.

Among the early merchants of Effingham was Hon. Milton R. Benton, who was born in Madison county, Kentucky May 3, 1815. He immigrated to Kansas in 1857; located in Atchison, where he resided until 1867, during which year he moved to his farm in Atchison county, near Effingham. He was the first marshal of the city of Atchison, having been elected in 1858. In 1863 he was elected mayor of the city, and in 1864 was elected a member of the council. He served as a member of the senate in the Territorial council of 1859; in the State legislature in 1864, and for three years as trustee of Center township. Benton township, in which Effingham is located, was named for him. He was educated as a Democrat, but before he cast his first vote identified himself with the anti-slavery movement and became a Free State man in Kansas, but in after years he supported Horace Greeley and became identified with the Democratic party. In addition to farming he was in the real estate business in Effingham.

A. F. Achenbach was one of the early liverymen of Effingham, and also was George P. Allen, who was a dealer in hardware and grain; Ball & Herron, dealers in harness; Joel M. Ketch, hardware merchant; J. E. McCormick, butcher; Alonzo Spencer, grocer; James Nesbitt, lumber dealer, and Simeon Walters, contractor and carpenter.

P. J. O’Meara was a pioneer merchant of Effingham, and was a native of Ireland, having been born in the county of Tipperary March 27, 1829. He first settled in Miami county, where he received his education, and in 1865 he moved to Atchison and went into the grocery business on Commercial street, between Third and Fourth, later moving to Effingham when the townsite was located, and built one of the first store buildings. He did a large and paying business, and his popularity was shown by the people of Effingham in electing him their first mayor.

Effingham in 1915 had two hardware stores, one drug store, four general stores, two banks, two garages, two barber shops, one cream station, one clothing store, three restaurants, one hotel, one livery, and two elevators. Effingham is also a city of churches having one Catholic church, one Presbyterian church, Methodist church, Christian church and Lutheran church. Its citizens are enterprising and progressive, and in 1914 the city council secured a twenty-four hour electric light service over high tension line from Atchison. The elevators are owned by the Farmers’ Mercantile Association, and Snyder, Smith & Company. Tom Tucker and Beckman & Thomas are big live stock shippers, and they ship from ninety-five to one hundred cars of live stock out of Effingham every year, and the elevators ship over one hundred cars of grain every year.

The present city officials who have been so diligent and faithful in their services to Effingham are as follows:

J. W. Wallach, mayor; A. J. Sells, city clerk; G. M. Snyder, councilman; I. Ebert, councilman; D. Richter, councilman; James Farrell, councilman; E. J. Kelley, councilman; J. W. Atcheson, marshal; J. A. Harman, city treasurer.



Huron is located on the Omaha branch of the Missouri Pacific railway, in Lancaster township, seventeen miles northwest of Atchison. The townsite was originally the property of Col. D. R. Anthony, of Leavenworth. Mr. Anthony donated the railroad company twenty acres of land and the right of way for one mile. The surveys were made and the town named and platted on May 18, 1882. Within six weeks after completion of the surveys five dwellings were erected and the business interests of the town were well represented. W. D. Starr was the first postmaster, and by the end of the first year there were over fifty dwellings in the town, and among the first buildings to be erected were the Presbyterian and Baptist churches. Colonel Anthony donated lots upon which to build the churches. J. D. Carpenter opened the first hotel in Huron. Mr. Carpenter came to Kansas in 1874 and located on a farm near Huron, and when the town was organized he moved there and opened his hotel. W. G. Rucker was one of the early lumber dealers of Huron. He came from Corning, where he was engaged in the general merchandise business, and moved to Huron when the town was platted. Capt. George W. Stabler, for many years a resident of Huron, was one of the prominent politicians and characters of the county. He was born at Stablersville, Baltimore county, Maryland, in 1839, where his ancestors had lived for over 200 years. He moved to Kansas in 1858, settling in Lancaster township. He enlisted as a private in Company D, Second Kansas infantry, in 1861, for 100 days, and at the expiration of that time he re-enlisted in the Second Kansas cavalry; was made sergeant and was mustered out in 1865 and returned to his farm, subsequently moving to Huron. In 1866 he was elected to the legislature, and in 1871 and 1872 served as deputy United States marshal. He had been justice of the peace, at the time of his death, a few years ago, for over twenty years.

Old Huron was the original settlement near the present townsite of Huron, and was an important trading point for many years prior to the establishment of the new townsite following the laying of the railroad to Omaha. There were many early settlers of importance in and around Huron, among whom was Capt. Robert White. Captain White came to Kansas in 1857 and bought the squatter rights of Charles Morgan and preëmpted a quarter section of land in Lancaster township, near Huron.

The birth of the first white child in Atchison county, of which there is any record, occurred in Lancaster township. The child was Miss Frances Miller, who was born May 9, 1855. Her father was the late Daniel Miller, an Ohioan by birth, and lived near DeKalb, Mo., in 1841. In 1854 he looked over northeastern Kansas and settled on Independence creek, twelve miles north of Atchison, early in 1855, near the northeastern corner of Lancaster township. Mr. Miller sold his quarter section in 1858, after he had proven up on it, to Thomas Butcher, a new arrival in Kansas from Brownville, Pa., for $3,000. Mr. Butcher built a flouring mill on this land, which was run by water from Independence creek. Butcher subsequently sold the plant to A. J. Evans, who ran it as a “custom mill” until August, 1865, when it was destroyed by high water, caused by heavy rains.

Samuel Wymore, for whom Wymore, Nebraska was named, was a resident of Lancaster township, near Huron, in the fifties and early sixties, and ran a sawmill by horse power, about three miles north of Lancaster, in 1858. Mr. Wymore sold his first bill of lumber to Captain Robert White for $100 in gold, and at that time it was more money than Wymore had ever seen at one time, and he was so nervous during the following night that he could not sleep and continually stirred the fire in the stove so that he could count the money from the light that it made. Wymore was uneducated. He could neither read nor write, and he was said to have been worth over $150,000 before 1875.

Isaac E. Kelly, a young man from Pennsylvania, taught one of the first schools in Lancaster township, in one of the settlers’ preëmption cabin, near Eden postoffice in 1860. He went to war in 1861 and marched with Sherman to the Sea.

The first mowing machine in Atchison county was brought to Lancaster township, two miles west of where Huron now is, by Joel Hiatt, in 1859, who sold it to Capt. Robert White, who cut hay with it several seasons. The machine was a Ball, and a crude affair. The first reaper to harvest grain in the county was owned by the late M. J. Cloyes, who also lived in Lancaster township, not many miles from Huron. Mr. Cloyes bought the reaper in the early sixties. The grain was raked off by a man lashed to a post on a platform four or five feet to the rear of the cycle. This reaper was a Buckeye machine, and was sold by J. E. Wagner, the hardware merchant of Atchison.

The forty acre tract of land upon which the home of Edward Perdue stands, a few miles east of Huron, was traded for a mowing machine by the owner in 1865.

Bethel church, located southwest of Huron, is supposed to be the oldest church in the county, outside of Atchison. It was built by the Methodist Episcopal church (South), about 1870, and is still in use in 1915.

Thus it will be seen that Huron is located in the midst of a very interesting part of Atchison county, and while the town did not reach the proportions that its original promoters had hoped for it, it is one of the good towns of the county. The following are the business houses in Huron in 1915:

J. M. Delany—General merchandise.
E. P. Perry—General merchandise.
W. E. English—Hardware, implements and furniture.
H. T. Harrison—Grocer.
Dr. Wiley Jones—Drug store.
John L. Snavly—Restaurant and postmaster.
Mrs. Alta Wilson—Hotel.
C. E. Mathew—Lumber.
Loren Horton—Meat market.
A. F. Allen—Grain, coal, live stock and automobile supplies.
Baker-Corwell—Grain company.
A. Morehead—Barber.
W. Hildman—Blacksmith.
Riley & Son—Livery barn.

Over 200,000 bushels of grain are shipped from Huron annually and the average shipment of live stock amounts to about forty cars.



Martinsburg was laid out near the present site of Potter in the early days. It is not generally known, even among the old settlers, that there was such a place. George Remsburg said that this was due probably to the fact that Martinsburg was born dead. It was conceived in the town craze of early territorial times, but it came a still-born infant and its promoters succeeded in viewing it only long enough for it to give a feeble gasp and fall back dead again. Though this proposed municipal enterprise of pioneer days did not materialize, it was, nevertheless, an interesting and important fact of local history, hitherto unrecorded, that such a town was actually staked off and laid out in Atchison county at a very early period. The only old-timers who remembered it were James B. Low, of Colorado Springs, formerly of Mount Pleasant, “Uncle Joe” Potter, and W. J. (Jack) Bailey. All three settled in the southern part of Atchison county in 1854. Mr. Low settled with his parents in Walnut township in the fall of that year, and says that Martinsburg was laid out that fall. It was situated in what is known as the Mercer bottom, on land belonging to Felix Corpstein and Fred Poss, in the west half of section 24, a little northeast of the present site of Potter, or immediately adjoining it. What is known as the Mercer spring, one of the finest in this section, was included in the town site. Mr. Low and his brother went out to look at the place in the fall of 1854 and decided to spend the winter there. It consisted at that time of a few huts and a small store, and never amounted to any more than a village, if it could be called that, although Mr. Low says the town site originally comprised about 100 acres, and a few lots were actually sold. The store was a small frame building, erected by one Alex Hayes, who had previously taken a claim on Plum creek, near Kickapoo. Mr. Low thinks this was the first frame building in Atchison county. Hayes carried a small stock of goods. This was long before the town of Mt. Pleasant, in the same vicinity, was ever dreamed of, and even before Tom Fortune opened a store there. It seems that the chief promoters of Martinsburg were two brothers named Martin; hence the name. Not much is known concerning them, or what became of them. “Uncle Joe” Potter says that one of them came to his house on one occasion when he and his brother, Marion Potter, were making rails. Martin stood around a while and finally insinuated that they were foolish for working so hard, and in a confidential way, “just the same as told them,” as Mr. Potter expressed it, that they could make lots of money and make it easy stealing horses, whereupon Marion Potter promptly ordered him off of the place, and told him never to return. James Low’s father bought the town site of Martinsburg in the fall of 1855 and moved onto it in the spring of 1856, converting it into a farm. Thus perished Martinsburg. Even the name did not survive in the memory of the settlers, and it was only by accident that it was recently recalled after a lapse of fifty-four years. At an early day the locality became known as Mercer’s Bottom, after Joe Mercer, one of the earliest settlers, and it is known by that name today. It is not known what became of Mercer. James Low says the last time he saw him was in Denver, in 1859. Mercer was a queer character. It is told of him that he lived in a little cabin and subsisted principally on mussels, which he found in Stranger creek. Alex Hayes, the Martinsburg storekeeper, has also been lost trace of, but Dick King says there was an oldtimer named Alexander Hayes, who died many years ago and was buried in the Sapp graveyard at Oak Mills. The town site of Martinsburg was a favorite camping place for soldiers and emigrants passing over the old Military road in the early days on account of the fine spring, the large meadows and the protection of the hills around it. To catch this tide of emigration was, in all probability, the object of those pioneer town projectors in selecting this site.



There appears to be no data available which enables the historian to determine exactly where this town was located, but a prospectus publication March 18, 1858, in _Freedom’s Champion_, states that it was on Independence creek, within ten miles of Atchison and twenty-five miles of St. Joseph. Its chief promoter was Dr. Charles F. Kob, of Atchison. Dr. Kob was a German physician and surgeon, who located in Atchison at an early date. He had been a surgeon in the army, and a member of the Massachusetts and Connecticut medical societies. He lived and practiced medicine in Boston for some time. About the only advantage for Bunker Hill, set forth in the prospectus, was that coal was found around the place, but Bunker Hill never seemed to have any coal in her bunkers. She failed to flourish and no Bunker Hill monument perpetuates her memory.



Locust Grove was never laid out as a town site. It was a stopping place on the old stage route to Topeka, and the postoffice from Mount Pleasant was moved there in 1862.



Helena was located and named in this county, and the plat thereof was filed March 18, 1857, by James L. Byers, one of the proprietors of the town company, and was located on the north half of section 28, township 5, range 18, on the Little Grasshopper river, in Grasshopper township, at the crossing of the old Military road, five miles north of the present site of Effingham. The town appears on an old township map of eastern Kansas, published by Whitman & Searl, of Lawrence, in 1856. It shows it to have been on the east branch of Grasshopper river, about fifteen miles west of Atchison, and north of the Ft. Laramie and California roads.



Cayuga was laid out by a New York colony in 1856, and was named for Cayuga, N. Y. It was also in Grasshopper township, on the old Military road, one and one-half miles from Lancaster township line on part of the east half of section 18, township 5, range 18. It was surveyed by Dr. A. C. Tabor, and the plat was filed October 9, 1857, by George L. Willson. Provision was made in the town site for a public park and a young ladies’ seminary. It was claimed that it had at one time 400 inhabitants. Among the members of the town company were Messrs. Smooks, Fuller, Higby, Atherton, Ontis, Meeker, William Adams, Chase and Dr. Taylor. The land on which the town was located was “junked” as a claim by a Mrs. Place, and thereafter the town gradually went out of existence. It is said to have had a good two-story hotel and a number of business houses.



In the plat which Royal Baldwin, president of the town company, filed April 6, 1859, the name of this town is given as Kennekuck. It was located on the southeast quarter and the southwest fractional quarter of section 3, township 5, range 17. Its streets were sixty feet wide, except Broadway, which was 100 feet wide, and Market street, which was eighty feet wide. One block was donated for a market house, and another block for a park, for religious and educational purposes. The streets were numbered from 1 to 10 and the cross streets were named as follows: Elm, Linn, Cedar, Poplar, Broadway, Market, Walnut, Weld, Perry and Baldwin. The town site was vacated by the board of county commissioners December 15, 1871. Kennekuk was a station on the Overland stage route, twenty-four miles west and north of Atchison. During the overland stage days Thomas Perry ran an eating station there, and Mrs. Perry, who was a grand cook, always had a smoking hot dinner ready with the best of coffee, for the occupants of the stage coaches. In the early days dances were held in the Perry home, and Hon. D. W. Wilder, the author of the celebrated “_Annals of Kansas_,” used to trip the light fantastic toe there, and it is said that he courted the girl who afterwards became his wife, in the Perry home.

Frank A. Root, who was an express messenger on the overland stage, says, in his book, that Kennekuk was the first “home” station out from Atchison, and the drivers were changed there. In 1863 it was a little town of perhaps a dozen houses with one store and a blacksmith shop. The Kickapoo Indian Agency was one of the most prominent buildings there, and was located near the old road in the northwestern part of the town. The town was laid out by William H. Wheeler, a surveyor and speculator, and was named for the Kickapoo chieftain, John Kennekuk. George Remsburg says that the town was platted in June, 1854, but the dedication on the original plat in the court house would indicate that it was platted on the date first mentioned in this sketch.

Hon. A. J. White, the son of Capt. Robert White, and at one time a member of the legislature from this county, and one of the leading farmers of the county, claims that Royal Baldwin was the first white settler in Kennekuk, and that he was appointed Indian agent for the Kickapoos there by President Pierce before Kansas was opened for settlement. Mr. Remsburg also says that many noted travelers stopped at Kennekuk, including Mark Twain.



According to Captain Elberhant, of Golden, Colo., the Kickapoo Indians once had a village on the Grasshopper river in Atchison county, called Kapioma, after the chief of the band, and it is from this source that Kapioma township took its name. Captain Berthoud says that Father Duerinck, a native of Belgium, who was probably the first Jesuit priest in Atchison county, gave the pronunciation of the name of his Atchison county station as Kah-pi-oma, accent on the syllable “Kah.”

In an affidavit of H. H. Skiles, volume 69, page 63, in the records of the office of the register of deeds of Atchison county, Kansas, the following appears:

“This affiant further states that there was in 1857 and 1858 a company formed, called and known as the Kapioma City Company, and the individuals composing that company were B. Gray, S. C. Russell, W. W. Weston, H. H. Skiles and W. Y. Roberts, who united themselves together for the purpose of laying out, locating and establishing a town called Kapioma, on what was then known as Grasshopper creek, just north of its confluence with Straight creek, in the western borders of Atchison county, Kansas. The entire purpose and scheme in laying out and establishing a town fell through and was wholly and totally abandoned by all and every person connected with it without prejudice to any one, and the title to the land intended by the company to become town property reverted to the original owner. The law required to establish a town was never complied with.”



Mashenah, apparently, was to be a rival town of Kennekuk. The cold and quiet records now on file in the court house would convey the idea that Royal Baldwin must have fallen out with the original promoters of Kennekuk and decided to establish a town of his own, so, accordingly, he filed a plat of this town September 21, 1857, showing it to be located in the northeast quarter and the northwest quarter of section 2, township 5, range 17. One block was set aside for a college and another for a park. Its streets were numbered 1 to 21, and the cross streets were named as follows: Oak, Pine, Plum, Vine, Elm, Linn and Cedar.



The only record that can be found of this town is that Thomas Poteet filed a plat thereof April 20. 1858, showing it to be located in the southwest corner of section 6, township 7, range 20.



This is another town about which there is little information available. The plat was filed June 20, 1857, by James R. Whitehead and shows it to have been located in the west half of section 1, township 5, range 17. The streets were numbered from 1 to 18, and the cross streets were named Buchanan, Emily, Mary, Carolina, Jefferson, St. Joseph, Ellwood, Able, Alexander, and there were two public squares, called North and South.



The plat of Parnell was filed December 24, 1883, by J. C. Hotham, and shows the town site to be located in the southwest corner of the southeast quarter of section 20, township 6, range 20. It is located on both the Santa Fe and the Missouri Pacific railroads. The station was named for a hero of the Civil war, James L. Parnell, a private soldier in Company F, Thirteenth Kansas volunteer infantry, who was killed during the skirmish at Haare Head, Ark., August 4, 1864. Parnell was the original settler on the site of Parnell and was one of the first citizens of Atchison county to respond under President Lincoln’s call of July, 1862. He enlisted in the Thirteenth Kansas. Ex-Sheriff Frank Hartin was a comrade of Parnell in Company F and married into the Parnell family.



Shannon was platted by G. W. Sutliff February 22, 1883. and is located in the northwest corner of the northeast quarter of section 1. township 6, range 19, about eight miles west of Atchison, on the Parallel road. The town consists of one store building, in which the postoffice is located, and a few residences, together with railroad station and a small elevator.



Elmwood was platted by Anna Hoke and J. S. Hoke April 12, 1873, and was located on the south half of the northeast quarter of section 2, township 6, range 20. This was a “paper” town, and the only record now available of it is the plat on file in the court house at Atchison.



Cummingsville was platted by William Cummings December 16, 1872, and was located on the north half of the southwest quarter of section 1, township 7, range 19, on the line of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railway, southwest of Atchison, in Center township, and took its name from the founder of the town. The original plat provided for two streets, Market and Main, but on September 21, 1883, Samuel C. King filed a plat, creating an addition to Cummingsville, composed of four blocks. The first settler on the townsite was Robert Kennish, who located there in November, 1872, and was appointed postmaster when the postoffice was established the following fall. Mr. Kennish opened the first store in Cummingsville in December, 1872, and he for many years was station agent there, one of the oldest in the service of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railway. He was a much beloved character. He died a few years ago at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Nelson W. Cox, who lives in Cummingsville with her invalid husband, Nels Cox, who for eight years served Atchison county in the capacity of clerk of the court. In April, 1873, C. D. Harrison and family located in Cummingsville, and their child, Lorenzo, was the first child born on the townsite, and his was also the first death, Lorenzo having died March 25, 1875. In the winter of 1880–81, R. C. Ripple taught the first school, and the Methodist church (South) was built in 1880. Cummingsville now is a town of over 100 residences, and in addition to its bank, it has several good stores, a cream station and an elevator. Much grain and live stock is shipped out of Cummingsville annually.



Eden was located about eight miles northwest of Atchison, and Charles Servoss was appointed the first postmaster there in 1858. The postoffice was located on a farm adjoining the Johnson Wymore farm on the south. Servoss resigned as postmaster in 1863 and removed to Detroit, Mich. He was succeeded by H. C. Lee, who kept the office on a farm adjoining the Wymore farm on the west. Mr. Lee was a grandfather of Miss Kate Platt and Mrs. S. F. Harburger, formerly of Atchison, and the father of Mrs. Flora B. Hiatt. Mr. Lee held the office until 1872, when Francis Schletzbaum, Sr., was named as postmaster, and removed the office to his farm, which adjoined the old Wymore farm on the north. The postoffice remained there until it was discontinued upon the establishment of free rural delivery service in 1900.



Potter is pleasantly situated on a slight rise or knoll in the beautiful valley of Stranger creek, and near the southeast corner of Mt. Pleasant township. From the first it has been the principal station on the Santa Fe railroad, between Atchison and Leavenworth, being situated about midway between the two cities. It is an attractive little town, with well graded streets and good cement sidewalks, and a number of attractive residences. While it is one of the younger towns of the county, it has made strides that make it compare favorably with some of its older sisters, in volume of business at least, if not in population.

Potter, as the home of the white man, dates back further than any community in the county. Elsewhere in this history will be found an account of Paschal Pensoneau, the old French trader, who established himself on Stranger creek, near the present townsite, during the early forties.

The building of Potter is the third and the most successful attempt to establish a town in that vicinity. The first attempt was at Mount Pleasant. This was one of the first towns started in Kansas, and here was located the first postoffice in Atchison county. It prospered for a time and was a candidate for the county seat. It gradually declined, and since the establishment of Potter, has been little more than a memory. In the early days, some say before Mt. Pleasant was started, a town was laid out near the big Mercer spring, just northeast of the present site of Potter, and called Martinsburg. It was extensively boomed, but outside of a small store and a few huts, it never advanced beyond the paper stage.

Early in 1886 the Leavenworth, Northern & Southern railway, now a branch of the Santa Fe, and known as the “Pollywog,” was built and a station located where Potter now stands. A town was platted and called Bennett Springs, after James Gordon Bennett, the well known eastern journalist. The mineral springs on the Masterson farm near the townsite were attracting considerable attention at the time, and it was thought that a popular resort could be built up there. The medicinal properties of the water were discovered by Dr. Rice, a local physician, and subsequently analyzed by experts, who confirmed Dr. Rice’s conclusions, and a number of people claimed to have used the waters in liver, kidney and other complaints with good results. Henry C. Squires, afterwards a Potter banker, conceived the idea of establishing a health resort here, and named it in honor of James Gordon Bennett, who, it was thought, would use his influence towards getting eastern capital interested in the project. The expected financial backing was not forthcoming, however, and the proposed development of the springs was never made.

In the meantime the railroad people had christened the town Potter, in honor of Hon. Joseph Potter, owner of the quarter section on which the town was laid out, and, while the name of the town still appears on the tax rolls as Bennett Springs, the original name having never been legally changed, the town is now generally known as Potter. Joseph Potter was the original settler, having preëmpted the land on which the town stands, in 1854, and the first sales of lots in Potter were deeded to their purchaser thirty-two years later direct from the Government preëmption owner. The taking up of the land, filing, etc., cost Mr. Potter about $220 for 160 acres, and when it was divided up into town lots it brought him $200 an acre. Mr. Potter entered part of this land with a land warrant given him for services in the Mexican war.

The first lots in the town were sold to the late James Stalons, for many years a justice of the peace, preacher of the Gospel and prominent citizen of the county. The first house on the townsite was built by Thomas J. Potter in 1882, four years before the town was laid out. The house is still standing. The first business house in the town was erected by Charles Klein, who operated a store there until his death. A year or two after Potter was started the postoffice was removed from Mt. Pleasant to the place, and James B. Weir was the first postmaster. The first hotel was operated by Mrs. Elvira Pierce. Dr. Barnes had the first drug store, and was also the first physician; Frank Blodgett, the first hardware store, and B. F. Shaw & Company, the first furniture store. The first barber was Thomas Seever; the first blacksmith, Lou Chilson; the first butcher, John Yost; the first carpenter, P. H. Fleer; the first painters, George Brown and Grant Cass; the first stone masons, S. B. Morrow and Frank Maxwell; the first shoemaker, Patrick Murphy; the first stock buyer, Henry Show; the first school teacher, Albert Limbaugh; the first railroad agent, C. L. Cherrie; the first lumber dealer, David Hudson; the first harness maker, Harry Rickets; the first rural mail carrier, Frank White. Frank Mayfield operated the first livery stable; the first elevator was built by James Hawley; the first church building was that of the Methodists. The first Methodist preacher was Rev. John W. Faubian, and the first Christian preacher, Rev. T. W. Cottingham. The first telephone exchange was operated by Charles and George Sprong. The first lodge was Echo Lodge, No. 103, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The first bank was the Potter State Bank. Potter has had three newspapers, the first, the _Potter Press_, was established by E. E. Campbell, in 1898. In 1900 Mr. and Mrs. Eppie Barber started the _Potter Leaf_. Three years later Charles B. Remsburg bought the _Leaf’s_ circulation and launched the _Potter Kansan_, which is now owned and published by his father, J. E. Remsburg.

Potter is one of the most flourishing towns of its size in Kansas. Though its population is less than 200, it boasts of two banks, the aggregate resources of which amount to nearly a quarter million dollars. There probably is not another town of its size in the State that has two banks. The town has two good elevators which during the years 1912, 1913 and 1914 handled on an average of 140,000 bushels of grain a year. These elevators are operated by Fred Ode & Sons and James Robinson. The railroad station at Potter does a business that amounts to something like $40,000 annually. The shipping of live stock is an important industry here. The principal buyers are Tinsley, Potter, and Timple Bros. Much fruit is grown around Potter, and as high as $20,000 has been paid out for apples during one shipping season.

Potter has a rural high school, the first of its kind established in the State, and an $8,000 school building.

The town has two general stores, those of W. A. Hodge and P. P. Knoch; a hardware store, operated by B. F. Shaw; a grocery store, by Thomas J. Potter; a furniture store, by Frank Beard; a drug store, by G. E. Coulter; a hotel, by Mrs. G. F. Pope; two blacksmith shops, by R. E. Brown and G. F. Pope; a livery stable, by H. G. Hawley; two barber shops, by George Brown and Frank Blankenship; a cement tile factory, by Grisham & Maxwell; a millinery store, by Mrs. T. J. Maxwell; a telephone exchange, by E. C. Yoakum; a newspaper, _The Potter Weekly Kansan_, by J. E. Remsburg; two physicians, Dr. G. W. Redmon and Dr. S. M. Myers. Dr. A. E. Ricks, of Atchison, has a branch dental office here; the Lambert Lumber Company, of Leavenworth, has a commodious and well stocked yard here, with Samuel Parker as manager. There are two churches, Methodist and Christian, two public halls, and one lodge hall. L. M. Jewell conducts an insurance, real estate and loan business. There is also a garage, and other business enterprises in the town.



In 1854 Thomas L. Fortune, Jr., a Virginian, settled on the “old Military road” and opened one of the very earliest stores in Atchison county, around this store springing up the village of Mount Pleasant. A postoffice was established here in 1855, and Mr. Fortune was appointed postmaster. Being an inventive genius, he finally gave up his store business and devoted his energies towards perfecting and building a road-wagon, to which reference has heretofore been made, and which he thought would revolutionize the freighting business across the plains.

The townsite of Mount Pleasant was surveyed in 1857 by John P. Wheeler, agent for the Town Company.

Michael Wilkins and James Laird were the very first settlers in the township, being followed shortly afterwards by Levi Bowles, Jacob Grindstaff, Andrew J. Peebler, Martin Jones, Chris Horn, P. R. King, W. C. Findley, A. S. Speck and Amos Hamon.

The first hotel in the town was opened by Henry Payne, who operated it many years.

T. J. Payne and Philo W. Hull were the next parties to engage in business, Mr. Payne leaving when the new town of Sumner was started, and locating there.

The next to engage in business was P. R. King, who established a general store about 1858. He remained at Mount Pleasant until after the county seat question had been settled, when he removed to Atchison.

In the fall of 1858 a district school was opened. In 1860 the Cumberland Presbyterians erected a church building, having held religious services at the homes of the members prior to this time. Rev. A. A. Moore was their first pastor.

On May 1, 1862, the Church of Christ was organized by Elder W. S. Jackson, with seventeen members, services being held in the school house.

Mount Pleasant Lodge, No. 158, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of Mount Pleasant, was organized in the fall of 1868 by the following charter members: William J. Young, X. Klein, M. R. Benton, John Hawley. S. K. McCreary, Joseph Howell and Albert Hawley. Their first meeting was held October 20, 1868, with the following as first officers: William Young, worshipful master; X. Klein, senior warden; A. Hawley, junior warden; S. K. McCreary, secretary; M. R. Benton, treasurer.

In August, 1862, the name of the postoffice was changed to Locust Grove.



In pre-territorial times and in the steamboat days, Kansas had many geographical names that are not now to be found on the map. Some of them, where permanent settlements have sprung up, have been perpetuated, but the majority of them do not live even in the memory of the oldest inhabitants. One of the latter is “Lewis’ Point,” near the present site of Oak Mills. Old “Cap.” Lewis is long since dead, his name almost forgotten, and the rapacious Missouri river and “Mansell’s Slide” are now about to devour the “Point.” with which his name was coupled in our early geography. While “Lewis’ Point” was never a place of any prominence, and not even the site of a village or settlement, yet it was a geographical name that was known to every steamboat man running on this section of the river, and is worthy of preservation in our local history. “Lewis’ Point” was at the projection of land lying immediately above Oak Mills, on the Missouri river. It took its name from the fact that Calvin Lewis, an old riverman, settled at this point at an early day, and it became a frequent stopping place for steamboats to take on wood. In those days there was a splendid wood supply in that vicinity. Lewis’ house stood near the site of the old Champton, or William Moody, house, which was destroyed by fire about a year ago.

It is not generally known that a steamboat was ever built on Atchison county soil, much less that Oak Mills was ever the scene of the ship builder’s craft, outside of the construction of Indian canoes and the modern skiffs built by Dick King or some other later-day river man. Yet, it is a fact that Calvin Lewis once built and launched at “Lewis’ Point” a small stern-wheel steamboat, and operated it on the river for several years. In 1855 the first territorial legislature of Kansas passed an act authorizing Lewis to operate a ferry at “Lewis’ Point.”



The same legislature that gave permission to Lewis to operate a ferry at “Lewis’ Point,” granted the same privilege to Nimrod Farley, to maintain a ferry across the Missouri river, opposite Iatan, Mo. Farley was a well known character in the Missouri bottoms in the vicinity of Iatan, Cow Island, and Oak Mills, in the early days. He lived near Iatan, but it seems that he owned land on the Kansas side, near Oak Mills, which offered a landing for his ferry. He was a brother of Josiah Farley, who laid out the town of Farley, in Platte county, in 1850. George McAdow later became proprietor of Farley’s Ferry and operated it until it was destroyed by Jayhawkers, shortly before the war.