Allison, Nathaniel Thompson. History of Cherokee County, Kansas, and Representative Citizens. Chicago, IL: Biographical Publishing Co., 1904. Online index created by Carolyn Ward, instructor at USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, and State Coordinator for The KSGenWeb Project.

1904 History of Cherokee County Kansas


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The history of a city is the narration of the events connected with its founding, the progress which it has made and the part it takes in the promotion of civilization. The primary motive which leads to all these is that which impels a community to seek higher and better social conditions; to gather about them the comforts of life, establish fixed homes and so to adjust themselves to their environments, mentally and morally, as to give strength and permanency to the tacitly accepted compact which binds them into a municipality. The history of Galena, if written fully and correctly, would embody the acts of many men of rugged characters and strong, unyielding purposes, in the pursuit of which the qualities of courage and constant determination have been prominent. The environment has every characteristic element for the development of such qualities; but if an individual, not possessing such qualities, has cast his lot in the community, and has essayed to lead a part in the direction of its affairs, his sojourn has been short, or if he has remained and grappled with the exacting conditions, under the shifting fortunes of the community, failure has marked his course and he has quietly withdrawn from the fray of the strenuous life required of those who would succeed. Galena affords many examples of "the survival of the fittest;" but if the history of every undertaking within the limits of its industrial operations were given in detail, there would be the record of many a one who came with the courage which hope inspires, but after a time quietly went away unobserved, leaving but a mere trace of the part which he took in the affairs of the community. Human nature is inclined to the liking of positives, and it has also the disposition to point to instances of successful achievement and almost a fondness for forgetting those who have failed and disappeared.

The name "Galena" would never attach to the place and community now bearing it, were it not for the fact that it designates the physical quality which makes it the greatest lead and zinc mining region in the world, it has no other natural resource that could possibly make it desirable as the habitation of an intelligent, earnest, prosperous people. Situate in a region of rocky hills and gravel-filled valleys, it had, in its primitive state, no attractiveness save to such as were moderate in their purposes, unpretentious in their manners and satisfied with a scant, uncertain livelihood. It had to be turned upside-down before its apparently inexhaustible stores of natural wealth could be revealed. It has been literally torn to pieces; and even now the earth-markings of the region are such that, if left to the moderate, slow-working processes of time, they would remain distinct for thousands of years, long after its resources have been exhausted and the people who are now making its history have been forgotten.

The stories of the discovery of lead and zinc on the land which became the site of the city of Galena differ in the narratives told by different people. The concrete of these narratives is such as embodies the history of the whole. Viewed from the stand-point of any one particular person who was early "on the groun d," and who has noted the shifting fortunes of the community, the aspect is always interesting to those who have come later and listened to the story. It is not intended here to give more than a general outline of the beginning and the progress of that which has been done; for to tell it all would be to fill a volume of greater size than those read by the people of this age of hurry and intense, business exertion.

Galena is "The City Which Jack Built." It is situate in Lowell township, in the southeast corner of Cherokee County, four miles north of the south line of the State of Kansas, and immediately west of the line separating the states of Kansas and Missouri. It is one and a half miles north of Shoal Creek and two miles east of Spring River. Short Creek separates Galena from Empire City, on the north. The site of the city is naturally hilly, while a general slope toward the northwest. It is on the Fort Scott and Joplin branch of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway system, and on the Parsons and Joplin branch of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway; and it is at present the western terminus of the Southwest Missouri Electric Railway which has its eastern terminus at Carthage, Missouri, 32 miles away.

Up to the year 1876 it was not generally believed that the land of the present site of Galena was ore-bearing ground. An occasional "shine" had been found, when a tuft of shy grass was sometimes pulled up, or when an unfortunate black-jack had been fondled by a "Kansas Breeze" and gently torn out by the roots; but these had not excited any particular activity, and there had been no marked inrush of feverish prospectors. In fact, it was not until the early spring of 1877 that any well defined movement was made toward determining whether "good stuff" might be found. Egidius Moll, a German, owned 160 acres of land, now in the center of the town site of Galena. The land, for farming purposes, was worth about $3 an acre, if worth anything at all. It was the south-east quarter of section 14, township 34, range 25. Moll sat lightly upon the land, for he considered it of very light value. Even after lead and zinc had been discovered in largely paying quantities, he sold 40 acres of the land for $700. Much of the same land, in the matter of royalties paid on the ore taken out and sold, has yielded a thousand dollars an acre, and this without going down to what is now known as "deep ore."

On a Sunday afternoon in the spring of 1877 some young men, by the names of Moll, Evans, Fry and Moorland, chanced to get together and decided to go swimming in a "hole" at the north end of the Moll land. In arranging a spring-board it was necessary to fix one end in the bank of the creek, and in doing this they pulled out some looser stones, finding some of them very heavy. Upon examining them they proved to be boulders of lead. They took these up to the Moll home and showed them to the owner of the land. The "find" was quickly reported and in a few days some Joplin mine owners came over. Negotiations followed, under which Moll sold the 40 acres, as I have told in the preceding paragraph, to "Billy" Barnes, "Jake" Massmer and Joseph Hoy, it being the northwest quarter of Moll's quarter section, which is now known as the "Hoy Forty." Moll gave them a guarantee that, if they did not take out and sell $700 worth of ore within one year, he would buy the land back; at the same consideration. He did not have a chance to buy it back. It is perhaps not wide of the truth to say that the 40 acres have yielded $2,000,000 worth of ore, and it is not yet entirely exhausted. No deep mining has been done on it.

Many other rich deposits of ore were discovered that spring and summer, and as early as June 19, 1877, the place was incorporated as a city of the third class. May 11,1888, it was made a city of the second class. The following have been mayors in the order in which their names are given: George W. Webb, A. M. McPherson, G. W. Dansenburg, C. O. Stocksl ager, E. D. Vandergrift, John G. Schmereir, B. S. Moore, A. M. Thomas, Morgan Rush, L. K. Moeller, John Page, Val Richards, William Smith, J. P. McCann, O. E. Allen and Charles L. Sawyer, who is the present mayor.

At the time of the discovery of lead and zinc, Galena had no railroad. It was about the year 1879 that the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad was extended to Galena, from Baxter Springs. The St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad, some time afterward, was extended to Gelena[sic] from Joplin, thus giving the place the advantage of two roads, both of which were, in 1901, consolidated, and they are now owned and operated by the last named company. In the summer of 1902 the Parsons and Joplin branch of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway was built through Galena. The electric road was extended to Galena, from Joplin, the distance of seven miles, about the year 1896. It is expectd[sic] that this road will be continued on to Baxter Springs during the coming year. These roads have had an immense freight traffic here; and the prospect is that it will be vastly increased as more extensive and deeper mining operations shall be carried on. The electric road has done, and is now doing, a very profitable business in the transportation of passengers, and the demand is for improved facilities in this line.

Time would fail one in an attempt to tell of all the old settlers at Galena; for while many of them remain to this day, and are well-to-do citizens of the place, some have died and others have moved away. The population has been largely an unstable population, as is always the case in towns and cities which grow up and flourish through the shifting fortune of mining operations. Of the people who have come to Galena with the purpose of making it their home, not more than one out of twenty has remained, if all classes are included. Many have come, being led chiefly by the spirit of adventure common among many classes who drift westwardly in search of favorable turns in their more or less weak-purposed lives; and when fortune has refused to smile upon their ill-directed efforts, they have sought other regions, with the like purposes which led them hither, and others have come to take their places for a while. But through the siftings of population, the city has gradually built up a comparatively large number of permanent residents, most or whom have made their money here and have built comfortable, and in many instances fine, well-appointed, homes and are quietly following the ways which have led them along in their prosperous lives. Of those who have succeded[sic] at all, and have laid by a part of the profits from the various lines of business in which they have been engaged, there is a larger proportion of well-to-do people than are usually found in other cities of its size. Galena has been good to those who have been industrious economical and willing to endure hardships and waiting.

From a brief history of Cherokee County, published 21 years ago, in connection with the history of other counties in the State, the following are given as the names of some of the citizens of Galena, at that time: H. Andrews, of the firm of Aldrich, Fuller & Andrews, proprietors of the Excelsior Crushing & Separating Works; Capt. A. Arnold, superintendent of the Maggie Taylor Mining & Smelting Company; Ludwig Baum, dealer in dry goods; F. S. Boice, of the firm of Boice & Fallis, miners and crushers; J. H. Brown, of the firm of Brown & McMillen, mine operators; Dr. W. H. D. Brown; William H. Chew, superintendent of the Short Creek Lead & Zinc Company; John F. Cody, superintendent of The Cody Crushing Company; Spencer Cooper, proprietor of The Cooper Mining & Crushing Works; George W. Dansenburg, grocer; A. F. Davidson, superintendent of the Cornwall Mining & Smelting Company; H. S. Davis; Samuel Gates, of the firm of Gates & Lewis, mine operators; E. F. Guthrie, mine operator in the Stanley "diggings;" Daniel W. Hainer, druggist; G. W. Harper, su perintendent of the Sawyer lease; J. E. Leeper, mine operator; John Lewis, superintendent of the Galena Lead & Zinc Company; Wesley Lewis, of the firm of Gates & Lewis; Z. H. Lowdermilk, grocer; A. M. McPherson, superintendent and operator in the Galena Zinc Company; J. B. Martin, credit man of the Cheney Crushing & Separating Works; John G. Miller, civil engineer and surveyor; S. N. Montgomery and B. S. Moore, grocers; George E. Moran, superintendent of the Tousley tract; John C. Murdock, hardware merchant; E. St. George Noble, capitalist; John Page, superintendent of the Illinois Lead & Zinc Company; E. N. Perry, mine operator in the Stanley "diggings;" George H. Redell, mine operator; Val. Richards, of the firm of Milligan & Richards; Moses Robeson, of the firm of Williams & Robeson, lumber dealers; Charles O. Stockslager, attorney-at-law; Harry Tamblyn, secretary of the Cornwall Mining Company; R. A. Teeter, superintendent of the Teeter Crushing Company, on the Maggie Taylor tract; Robert A. Vaughn, mine operator; William O. Wiley, grocer; W. W. Williamson, mine operator; and J. B. Yeager, of the firm of Yeager, Brown & McMillen, mine operators. Many of these do not appear in the list of business men of Galena of today. A few of them are yet engaged in business here, and they are so fixed to Galena that they have no desire to reside elsewhere. Fortune has kindly favored them, and they show their appreciation by remaining in the community where their industry and good management have been duly rewarded. But this can not be said of many who came, made small fortunes and then went away to invest their savings elsewhere.

Of the mining companies and mine operators at Galena at the time of the writing of this chapter, the following list, taken from the Galena Times of July 28, 1904, is given, though it must not be taken as a full, complete list of all the companies and individuals engaged in the business. Cooley & Robeson, Murphy, Friel & Company, Hoosier Mining Company, Palmetto Mining Company, Battlefield Mining Company, Owl Mining Company, Southside Mining & Milling Company, Merger Mining Company, Index Mining Company, James Murphy, Clara & Shultz, John Page, Galena Lead & Zinc Company, F. Rohrbaugh, Palmer & Company, Wyandotte Mining Company, Maggie Taylor Mining & Smelting Company, New York Zinc Company, H. H. Beckwith, T. S. Hayton, Hacker Zinc & Lead Company, E. B. Schermerhorn, W. W. P. Clement, McNeal Mining & Milling Company, Pittsburg Lead & Zinc Company, Clara Louise Mining & Milling Company, Deborah Mining Company, G. C. Monlux, J. M. Pollard Mining Company, California-Buckeye Mining Company, and Northcut Brothers.

Galena has had few postmasters. The following is the list, in the order in which they served: L. C. Weldy, who is said to have held the office for about 12 years, Mrs. N. O. Wiley, A. M. McPherson, H. A. Bender, then A. M. McPherson again, and then William Smith, the incumbent at this time. The office is second-class, and mail is delivered throughout the city by carriers. There is but one rural route from the office.

The following are some of the denominations having church houses in the city of Galena: The Methodist Episcopal, which has a membership of 400, and of which Frank W. Otto is the pastor; the Presbyterian, which has a membership of 150 with Robert Liddell as pastor; the Baptist, membership not given, with Elder Moore as pastor; the Christian Church, membership and name of pastor not given; the Protestant Episcopal Church, membership and name of pastor not given.

The Galena Telephone Company was the first to move in the matter of establishing a system of telephones throughout Cherokee County. Williams & Robeson are the owners of the system, which reaches every village, town and city in the county, and which has connection, by long-distance lines, with the principal cities throughout the Middle-Western States.

One of the most important establishments in Ga lena is the plant of the Galena Light & Power Company, of which E. St. George Noble is the president. The company has the finest machinery, including a 400-horsepower engine, and another of 200-horsepower. The plant is said to be one of the very best in the State of Kansas.

The Galena Ice Works plant is another enterprise which reflects credit upon those who have brought it up to its present status. It has a capacity of 50 tons a day, and it is in operation nine months in the year. Besides supplying, the local demand, which is heavy, the company ships ice to many of the neighboring towns and cities. The water of which the ice is made is absolutely pure; made so through a process of filtration and distillation, before it enters the tanks where it is congealed.

Galena has a large number of the most energetic business men that can be found anywhere. It is due to their good judgment, perseverance and public spirited care for the interests of the city, that it has grown to be the leading business center in the county. The best business men have been called to the direction of public affairs, and, almost without exception, they have done their duties well and faithfully. In 1901 the Legislature made Cherokee County constitute the Eleventh Judicial District of the State of Kansas, giving Galena, annually, three out of the seven terms of court held in the county. The city, without any expense to the county, provided a fine Court House, on the principal street of the city, one of the most substantial and best furnished buildings in the city. This achievement was the result of a united well directed effort on the part of the business men of the place.

The public schools of Galena are of a high class, and they are the pride of the city. In addition to the four houses heretofore provided, a City High School is now being erected, one which would do credit to any city. The School Board always employs the very best of teachers and superintendents, and it makes every other provision for the full effectiveness of the educational facilities placed at their hands.

Among the many who have become wealthy or well-to-do at Galena, and have built themselves comfortable, well-appointed homes are: Val Richards, George Brown, E. B. Schermerhorn, William F. Sapp, W. B. Stone, J. C. Murdock, M. Pickett, Riley F. Robertson, Dr. J. P. Scoles, C. C. Moore, Lou Winter, M. Robeson, B. Cooley, B. S. Moore, John Murdock, J. Shoman, A. M. McPherson, Mrs. Ed. Stoice, John O'Riley, H. A. Bender, Morgan Rush, George W. Wheatley, George Rains, John Jarrett, John McCullough, B. S. Moore, George Immel, Harry Stough, T. J. Vest, E. W. McNeal, George Dansenburg, William Aach, William Smith, Peter Dansenburg, L. K. Moeller, J. C. Moore, George Puckett, John Chapman, Mr. Lanier, the Hunter sisters, S. C. Westcott, Albert Smith, Mrs. Abbott, Worth Allen, C. L. Sawyer and J. W. Tate.

Galena has many fine business buildings. which are an exponent of the thrift and public spiritedness of some of the people. Among these it is proper to mention those who have taken the lead in matters of the kind and have always worked for the interest of the city, as well as for themselves. J. Shoman, C. C. Moore, William F. Sapp, B. S. Moore, J. C. Murdock, Edward E. Sapp, J. C. Moore and Williams & Robeson are justly entitled to credit for the untiring energy with which they have worked for the upbuilding of the city; but this list does not include all that have helped to push things along.

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