Pages 582-584, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.



Early Settlers

All of Woodson County and a small strip off the south side of Coffey County was included in the New York Indian Reserve. This strip began at the state line and ran westward beyond the surveys, while on the south it joined the Osage Reserve. The Woodson County part of the strip was never occupied by any of the New York tribes, their only settlement being a temporary one near Ft. Scott. Finding that the Indians would not settle on the Reserve, the Government, in 1860, had all of these lands offered for sale and opened to pre-emption at the land office at Ft. Scott. There were many squatter settlers scattered about over the county, people who had come into the county as early as 1855 and '56 and on down to 1860, and these settlers hastened to the land office, upon hearing of the Government's move in placing the land upon the market, and made entries of their choice of lands.

Just who the first settlers of the county actually were it is difficult at this date to determine. Many of the "first settlers" passed on, later, and those who remained are not certain as to whom the honor of the "first settler" in the county really belongs. On March 2, 1857 Jack Cavan, John Woolman, John Chapman and others reached Neosho Falls. Soon after this the Stockbrands, August Lauber and August Toedman settled in Center township and there were some early settlements made in Belmont township. Reuben Daniels settled in the latter place in 1856 and some of his children and many of his grandchildren, reside there still. The Gregorys went into Belmont as early as 1858 and James and Cortes Gregory, two sons of the pioneer, have resided almost continuously in the county for forty-three years. David Cooper settled on the Verdigris in 1856 and the same year John Coleman squatted upon a piece of land in Owl Creek township.

Many notable propositions have come before the voters of the county for their decision. They approved the Banking Law in 1861 by a vote of 62 to 7, and the same election gave Lawrence 71 votes for state capital and Topeka 5. In 1867 the question of elective franchise was submitted striking the word "white" from the constitution—and of women suffrage, striking the word "male" from the constitution, all of which propositions were defeated in the county by heavy majorities. February 27, 1875 the question of voting $5,000 in bonds in aid of the destitute of the state was voted on and lost by more than two to one. November 2, 1880, the Prohibitory Amendment was voted upon and carried by a vote of 748 to 530.


August 16, 1858, the Board of Supervisors met at Neosho Falls and proceeded to lay off the county into townships. Neosho Falls, Liberty, Owl Creek, Belmont and Verdigris townships were the result of this meeting of the board. May 22, 1858, the Board of Supervisors consisting of I. W. Dow, G. J. Cavan and William Phillips, with Charles Cameron, clerk of the board, met at Neosho Falls and passed an order establishing the seat of county government at that place. The same month N. G. Goss & Company donated to the county a building to be used as a county jail so long as the County Seat should remain at Neosho Falls. Dow's hall was eventually rented for court house purposes. In 1867 began an agitation over the question of County Seat location which continued nine years and was not settled until a half dozen elections were held and much bitterness of feeling engendered among the contesting sections of the county. The result of the election of November 5, 1867, gave Neosho Falls 129 votes, Center 2, Colma 2, and the Southwest quarter of section 11, township 25, range 15, (the present site of the County Seat) 118. Elections followed each other in rapid succession, the next one being held September 21, of the next year resulting in a vote of 313 for Neosho Falls and 199 for Chellis. The third election took place November 3, 1873, and gave Defiance 506, Kalida 530 and WaIdrip 1. Kalida, which thus became the County Seat, was three miles southeast of the center of the county, and Defiance was six miles east of the center. Both towns were at a later date transferred bodily to Yates Center. On February 23, 1874, the question came up for decision again and Defiance was chosen over Kalida by a vote of 643 to 491. A year later a new factor came up in the fight and another, and the fifth, election was called to locate the County Seat. The contestants were Neosho Falls, Defiance and Yates and resulted in Neosho Falls received 301, Defiance 235 and Yates Center 335. On the 12th of September, 1876, a second election was held to decide between Neosho Falls and Yates Center as to which should be the seat of government. At this election Yates Center received 488 votes and Neosho Falls 426, which was a final settlement of the vexed and vexing question.

From the first official act of the Board of Supervisors down to the selection of Yates Center as the County Seat the county had nothing but a temporary court house, or place for the transaction of its public business. Some hall or old store building was fitted up for the reception of the records, wherever the County Seat chanced to be and the nearest approach to a genuine court house, until its present structure was dedicated, was in the arrangement and preparation of the old wooden shack at the northeast corner of the square in Yates Center to become such building and to be used for public purposes. A number of elections were held to vote upon a proposition to bond the county for a court house but little enthusiasm was manifest for such a proposal outside of the County Seat and smaller towns. As time wore on it became more and more apparent that the old "Bee Hive" was fast becoming inadequate for the


public needs. Its hygienic conditions were almost intolerable, and its run-down dilapidated appearance all conspired to arouse the people to a true realization of their public needs. In 1899 a proposition to vote $30,000 in bonds for the erection of a new court house and jail met with a willing response, and on August 9, 1899, the corner stone of the new structure was laid with much ceremony, and an address by the District Judge, Hon. Leander Stillwell.

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