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Sketches of Early History
Part 1
In the Settlement of
Humboldt and Allen County

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Transcribed by J. Richardson, 04-July-2000
Originally published in the Humboldt Union, Humboldt, Allen County, Kansas

Sketches of Early History - Part 1
In the Settlement of Humboldt and Allen County
By Watson Stewart

Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

Mr. Watson Stewart, one of the earlier pioneers of this region, who passed away a few years ago, read the following paper at the celebration in Humboldt July 4, 1876. The Union published the address on the 15th of July in the same year. Knowing that it will be read with much interest by many of the older residents of the community and that the boys and girls of this generation will find in it historical facts of value that are not recorded in their school books, we are publishing the address in full, as a continued story, which will run through several issues in this month:


The history of the settlement of Kansas possesses peculiar interest, not attaching to that of any other state in the union.

Congress in May, 1854, passed the "Kansas-Nebraska Bill," in which the principle of "Squatter Sovereignty" was adopted and the old Missouri compromise of 1820, restricting slavery to territory south of latitude 33-30 was repealed -- leaving the people of these territories free to establish or exclude slavery.

The field being thus open, the south determined to establish the "peculiar institution" on Kansas soil; the people of the northern states as persistently determined to dedicate Kansas to freedom.

And thus the "irrepressibile conflict" was INTENSIFIED on Kansas soil.

The slave power relied upon being able to settle Kansas from the contiguous slave states of Missouri and Arkansas. And in 1855 large numbers came into the territory from those states, and by carrying the elections, obtained possession of the government of the territory.

To counteract this movement measures were adopted in several of the New England state to organize companies for settlement in the new territory. Aid societies were formed, and those desiring to emigrate to Kansas were aided to reach their destination.

The stimulus thus given to northern emigration began to give the Free State party of the territory the ascendency in power. To prevent this emigration, efforts were made in Missouri, and along the Kansas border, to turn it back, or drive it from the territory; and this led to bloody conflicts in different parts of the territory.

Allen county, however, was settled without any of those armed collisions so common in some other parts of the territory.

Early Settlements.

The first white settlement was made in Allen county in the spring of 1855.

On the 24th of April of that years H.H. Hayward, with his family, reached the Neosho and camped that night near a spring, on the land where he now resides, some four miles north of Humboldt.

At that time there was not a house in the county. B.W. Cowden and H.D. Parsons were in camp a short distance above, and Barnett Owen and Gaston Reeves, with their families were below.

During that summer and fall other families settled in the county, among whom in the north part of the county were the Fuquas Anderson Wray, A.W.J. Brown, Henry and Giles Sator, Jas. S. Barbee, Jas. Johnson, Charles Passmore, Jas Gillraith, Dunban, Hurtston. In this part of the country cam Dr. Burgess, David Dotson, E.H. Young, Elias Copelin and Henry Bennet.

The only persons named who are now living in the county are H.D. Parsons, H.H. Hayward and family and E.H. Young. Mrs. Hayward has resided in Allen county longer than any other white woman in it.

The territorial legislature of 1855 designated the boundaries of the county, and provided for its organization by appointed B.M. Cowden and Barnett Owen as commissioners, who with Charles Passmoer, probate judge, constituted the board for the transaction of county business.

Wm. Godfrey was appointed sheriff. He was a trader with the Osage Indians near the mouth of Big creek, and had for a wife a full blood Osage Indian woman.

Cofachiqui was designated as the county seat; it was the first town laid out in the county. Its location was about two miles south of where Iola now is. It was authorized, under its charter, to lay out as a town site a tract of land not exceeding 900 acres. But it never had use for near so much land. Nothing now remains to show the location.


Vegetarian Settlement.

In 1855 a company of vegetarians was organized in several of the northern states, with the purpose of settling a colony at some point in Kansas. C.H. DeWolfe of Philadelphia was its president, Dr. McLauren, treasurer, and H.S. Clubb of New York, secretary.

The distinctive features of this organization were abstinence from the use of a flesh diet, intoxicating drink and tobacco. It was co-operative to a certain extent -- yet each member held his own property in severalty.

In the fall of 1855, this company sent out its agent (Dr. McLauren) who selected a location in Allen county about six miles south from the present site of Humboldt.

In the spring of 1856, the secretary with a considerable number of the company came on, arriving on the ground during the months of April, May and June.

The writer with his family and brother, S.J. Stewart, were members of this company, and reached the Neosho on the 19th of May, 1856, camping that night on the edge of the timber, near where Col. Smith now lives, and on land now owned by Capt. O.S. Coffin. On the next day we joined our company, finding them mostly in tents.

There were probably nearly one hundred persons upon the ground, representing many nationalities and occupations. The greater part of them were from the eastern cities and manufactories, and but few had any conception of frontier life. We were not pleased with the prospects of the colony, and in a few days bought a claim outside their settlement and moved upon it. It is the place now occupied by S.J. Stewart.

The summer and fall of 1856 was very sickly -- the streams had all overflowed the bottom lands, and fevers and ague prevailed, sickness was the rule, health the exception. The new settlers were not acclimated, and badly housed, so that many died, and many more became discouraged and left the country; by fall but few of the company remained, and all the remain in the country now are Z.J. Wisner on Deer creek, Charles Baland, S.J. Stewart, myself and family.


Other Settlements.

In this year, also, considerable settlement was made in the north part of the county. Along down the river came Z.F.l DeMoss, S.F. Hubbard, Isaac Tibbetts, Wm. Mayberry, Thos. J. Bashaw and son, James, with Wm. Campbell, and a Mr. McElroy, James Brady and sons, G.A. Winborn and the Morris boys.

In April of this year a company of Georgians, twenty-sever in number, came and went into camp near Cofachiqui. They were said to be a company of Buford's men; they had no families and were well armed.

During the trouble about Lawrence that spring, word came that these men were called upon to join the pro-slavery friends about Lawrence.

A meeting of the Free State men of the county was called and after consultation these men were waited upon and informed that if they wished to take claims and become citizens, they would be welcome, but that if they proposed to join their armed friends north, they would not be permitted to do so. They remained for a time, but during the summer quietly left the country, not one of them becoming a settler.

On the 7th of May, 1856, B.W. Cowden and Barnett Owen, county commissioners, met at Cofachiqui. The probate judge, Passmore, had left the county and was reported dead.

They made the following record: Know all men by these presents. That in pursuance of an Act passed by the Legislature of the Territory of Kansas, B.W. Cowden and Barnett Owen, two members of the Board of County Commissioners appointed by the said Legislature in and for the County of Allen, in said Territory, met and after having been duly sworn proceeded to organize and open court.

They appoint Jas. S. Barbee clerk. At a meeting in June, Jas. Johnston was appointed sheriff, H.D. Parsons, corner; H.H. Hayward, treasurer, and A.W.J. Brown probate judge. Hayward was a Free State man and would not qualify. Brown was also a Free State man, and would not accept the position until after consultation with the leading Free State men in the county. It was though advisable to do so, from the fact that the probate court under the law was clothed with about the same judicial powers as our district courts now are in civil cases; and it was believed better to have that power vested in a friend. Brown was appointed to fill the vacancy of Charles Passmore, deceased. But one of our oldest citizens has seen Mr. Passmore alive and well in southern Illinois within the past three years.

At the commissioners meeting in August it was ordered "that there be a court house erected in the town of Cofachique, 18 feet wide, 20 feet long, 11 feet high, 7 feet between the floor and joists for lower room, etc., etc." Two hundred and ten dollars were appropriated for the building.

But as Cofachiqui was intensely pro-slavery, the Free State element of the county was getting to strong to permit such an expenditure from the public funds for the benefit of Cofachiqui; the order for the building was revoged (sic) by the board at their session in January, 1857.


Last Updated:  Monday, December 26, 2005 17:33:23

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