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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Wherever the habitations of men are pitched and communities are formed physicians, lawyers, teachers and ministers of religion enter into the make-up of the population as essential factors in the progress of the affairs of the people. Bodily infirmities, errors in conduct, ignorance in the fields of knowledge and thoughts and reflections on the spiritual import of the life which we now live, with the hopes and fears relating to the life which is to come, make places for, and give rise to, these classes of men.


So long as there are diseases and ailments in the physical organism of man, physicians will be sought and remedies prescribed, sometimes even to the wasting of one's substance, and that without relief; sometimes to the regaining of strength, at the cost of a simple drug. The considerations of food, raiment and shelter, which chiefly employ the genius and industry of man, and which enter into and make up the commerce of the world, are not the only matters upon which man bestows his attention; for next following these is the consideration of the health of his bodily frame.

In its early settling, Cherokee County, like all other new countries, had its course to run in the diseases among the people common where malarial conditions prevail. Chills, ague, intermittent and remittent fevers and the other forms of ailment which come from such conditions were generally prevalent. Then there were the extreme hardships through which the people had to pass and the deprivations which they underwent. Their houses were not comfortable, their clothing was sometimes not such as it should have been and their food was often not the best adapted for giving strength and hardihood. These conditions opened the way for the physician, and he was early on the ground, and it was well that he was, if he was wise in his counsel and cautious and intelligent in his practice. However, as a rule, the best physicians are not the first to go upon the frontier or into new settlements. Usually they are young men seeking an opening for the practice of that which they have recently learned in the schools, or older ones who have not succeeded in the earlier settled portions of the country, and are looking for places where they may begin anew in their more or less experimental operations.

Dr. C. C. McDowell, the father of S. O. McDowell and J. F. McDowell, was one of the very first physicians that settled in Cherokee County He came to Shawnee township in 1866 and took a claim just north of the present site of Crestline, where he lived the remaining part of his life, and where he attended to the practice of his profession He was an ardent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was an ordained preacher of the denomination.

Dr. Patty, father-in-law of Judge John N. Ritter, settled at Lowell in 1867 and practiced medicine there for several years He afterwards lived on a farm, and later moved to Columbus and still later to Wichita, where he died about the year 1898.

Dr. Warrington settled in Shawnee township in 1867; but of the extent of his practice, or as to what became of him, there is little information.

Dr. D. R. Martin, who became widely known over Cherokee County, settled at Hallowell, in Lola township, in 1866. He was elected county superintendent of schools very early in the history of the county. He had a general practice, which he continued for many years, dying at his home at Hallowell about the year 1902.

Doctors O'Connor, Street and Stewart all settled at Baxter Springs in 1867. Dr Stewart was from Mississippi He was once a candidate on the Republican ticket for the office of county superintendent of schools, but was defeated.

Dr. C. W. Hoag, now living at Weir City, and practicing his profession there came to Cherokee County in 187I. He settled first at Coalfield, a small station on the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, and he was the company's agent there for a while in 1877, when Hugh Lincoln, justice of the peace for Cherokee township died. Dr. Hoag was appointed to succeed him, by Governor George T. Anthony.

Dr. E. A. Scammon, now living in Columbus, came to Cherokee County in 1869. He had but recently graduated from Ann Arbor, and was seeking a location for the practice of his profession. He soon afterward became interested in coal lands, and he, with his brothers, S. F. Scammon and E. C. Scammon, opened the first coal mine in Kansas, south of the Leavenworth district. This was near where the city of Scammon now stands. Dr. Scammon did not continue long in the practice of medicine. He sold his interests in the coal mines and went into the drug business in Columbus. He continued in this business until 19022, when he retired from business.

Dr. J. H. Baxter came to Cherokee County in 1875. He is a native of Indiana, and is a graduate from Bellevue Medical School, of New York. Dr. Baxter, for some time after he came to Cherokee County and settled in Columbus, was the only medical graduate in the practice of medicine at this place. He has had an extensive practice, but more recently he has discontinued attending calls, except where he is called in consultation with other physicians. He does almost an exclusive office business, which takes about all his time.

As in any other profession, physicians come and go. Time sifts out the earlier ones, and their places are taken by others. Thus has it been in Cherokee County. Nearly all the first physicians that settled in the county are now gone. Here and there one may be found who was here in the early days, when the country was sparsely settled and the practice was but lightly remunerative. Dr. Scammon, in point of residence, is perhaps the oldest physician in the county. Dr. Hoag, of Weir City, is perhaps the next, with Dr. J. P. Scoles, of Galena, following. The last named has lived continuously at Galena since 1877, or the year of the "discovery" of lead and zinc at that place. But I have omitted to say that Dr. Baxter came to the county before Dr. Scoles came.

From conversation with the older physicians of the county some information is gathered concerning the particular diseases common among the people during the pioneer period. Like all other new sections, Cherokee County had its time with malarial fever, ague, chills and other maladies and ailments growing out of the peculiar climatic and local conditions. It is said that these were particularly stubborn, no doubt largely due to the circumstances of the people. Everything tended to give the odds against the settlers and in favor of the malady. Exposure to heat in the warmer seasons and to cold during the rigorous winters, and living in houses not the most suitably prepared for domicile and upon food not of a wide variety and wholesome quality; all these made up conditions not advantageous to the physical well being of the people. There was, however, a remarkable freedom from pneumonia and typhoid, and diphtheria and scarletina were practically unknown . Malaria was the chief dread, with rheumatism the next to be feared. There were no epidemics, and there never have been, except that smallpox, in a very light form, has three times run over the country. The physicians regard the climatic conditions of Cherokee County as now being exceedingly favorable to health and these, with the improved general conditions and a wider knowledge of the laws of health, are taken into the account in explaining why people live so long here and so enjoy life. In the city of Columbus, with a population of fewer than three thousand people, there are more than fifty persons over the age of seventy, and several of these are over the age of eighty.

The following is a list of the physicians now living in Cherokee County, according to information furnished me by Dr. D. Winter, the county health officer:

Baxter Springs,--C. M. Jones, R. B. English and R. C. Wear. Columbus,--E. A. Scammon, J. H. Baxter, W. N. Johnson, C. S. Huffman, P. J. Hendrickson, J. Dale Graham, J. S. Newton, Mary Kraft, J. W. Janes and D. Winter. Galena,--J. P. Scoles, Joh Allen, H. A. Brown, Clem H. Jones, E. B. Payne, W. Sam Jones, R. C. Lowdermilk, E. William Jones, E. L. Higginbotham, W. R. Hart, Margaret Hart, Fred C. Northrup, H. R. Savage, W. A. Walker and Dr. Von Mueller. Scammon,--A. H. Revell, H. H. Brookhart and R. M. Markham. Weir City,--C. W. Hoag, J. H. Boss, J. R. Adams, George B. McClelland and Dr. Crum. Mineral City,--J. H. Greene, J. W. Steever and L. L. Souders. East Mineral,--C. L. Russell, R. S. Mahan and George P. Bell. Empire City,--F. R. McGinnis. Melrose,--G. W. Walker. Sherwin Junction,--O. L. Young. Crestline,--J. L. Griswold. Hallowell,--W. A. Ward and Frank L. Ball.


The Eleventh Judicial District of the State of Kansas was formerly the Sixth Judicial District. It comprised Cherokee, Crawford, Bourbon and Linn counties. At a time of which I have no certain knowledge the counties of Cherokee, Labette and Montgomery were made to comprise the Eleventh District. In 1901 Cherokee County of itself became the Eleventh District. Labette and Montgomery counties being made the Fourteenth Judicial District. The necessity for the change grew out of the increase of population in this county. Here it was found that the litigation of this county alone was enough to take up the time of four terms of court of two months each, which is enough work for any judge.

The first term of the District Court of Cherokee County was held in the house of William Little, at Pleasant View, the county seat, beginning May 4, 1867. The term covered three days. The case of the State of Kansas against Jefferson Davis, for grand larceny, was the first case tried. Davis was convicted. The records of this term of court can not be found; but William Little, at whose house the court was held, and who was then county clerk, elected at the preceding November election was appointed to keep the records of the term. F. M. Logan had been elected recorder of deeds and district clerk, at the election last referred to: but there is nothing to show for which of the offices he qualified. Mr. Little, who now lives in Columbus, says that he himself was clerk of this term of the District Court. Mr. Little says that the records of the court proceedings at that time were kept on scrolls, and not in bound books, the court officers not then being provided with bound books. I have made search for the scrolls, but they can not be found. In Trial Docket A, on the page next preceding that numbered "1," there is a pencil entrance, as follows: "No. 1. The State against Jefferson Davis--Grand Larceny." Case No. 2 has the same title. On the first regularly numbered page on the docket the numbers of the cases begin with No. 1, a civil case, in which Fletcher J. R. Williams is the plaintiff, against Martin J. Mann, defendant. Vess & Brother and W. M. Matheny were the attorneys for the plaintiff; the docket does not show that the defendant had any attorney. There is nothing to show where the term was held. In the chapter of this history, relating to the organization of the county, mention is made of the records of the proceedings of the county commissioners, at their July, 1867, session; at that time they allowed the account of J. A. Smith, county attorney, $75, for the prosecution of Jefferson Davis. William Matheny was allowed $25 for assisting the county attorney in the case. These accounts, being allowed by the commissioners, at their July, 1867, session, show that the prosecution of Jefferson Davis took place at a prior time. The first term of the District Court must have been held at Pleasant View, as told by William Little, for it was not until in April, 1868, that the county seat was moved to Baxter Springs; but if the Pleasant View term was held including three consecutive days, beginning May 4, 1867, as he says it was, the court must have done business on the Sabbath Day, for the 5th of May, 1867, came on Sunday. However, this does not affect the record of the proceedings of the county commissioners, at whose session, in July, 1867, was allowed the account for the prosecution of Jefferson Davis, at the last term of court.

D. P. Lowe was the first judge of the District Court of Cherokee County. He lived at Mound City, Linn County. He presided at the opening of the first term of the District Court held at Baxter Springs, beginning May 4, 1868. Lane Williams was the district clerk; but he was not present. William Little, his deputy, kept the records. William G. Seright was the sheriff, and James A. Smith was the county attorney. The last act that Judge Lowe did, as judge of the Cherokee County District Court, was to sign a journal entry, on page 79 of Journal A, awarding a judgment for $42 and costs in favor of Joseph Kitt, plaintiff, against Charles Westcott, defendant, and then to make the order, "that this court adjourn sine die." This was on October 8, 1869. Following that, and before another term of the District Court of Cherokee County was held, the county was put into the Eleventh Judicial District.

When the Eleventh Judicial District was formed, William C. Webb was appointed by the Governor as the judge of the district. On April 11, 1870, as shown on page 83 of Journal A, the first day of the first term, the court was opened. There were present: William C. Webb, District judge: J. S. Vincent, sheriff; J. H. Ludlow, under sheriff; W. B. Shockly, clerk; T. P. Anderson, deputy clerk; and John N. Ritter, county attorney. Judge William C. Webb presided at that term of court; but when the October term of that year came, October 3rd, the first day of the term, the Cherokee County Bar requested Judge Webb to adjourn the court to the 12th day of December. It seems that the order he made, adjourning the court "until Monday, December 12, 1870, at 10 o'clock, A. M.," was the last order he made as judge of the court for when the court opened, December 12, 1870, Henry G. Webb was the judge.

Judge Henry G. Webb served as judge of the Eleventh Judicial District about two years, when he resigned. B. W. Perkins was appointed to fill the unexpired term, and in 1874 he was elected, and again in 1878. He served two years under appointment and eight years under election. Judge Perkins was then elected to Congress, where he continued eight years. He was a man of high honor and strict integrity, and his superior ability was generally recognized. He was later appointed to the United States Senate, from Kansas, to take the place made vacant by the death of Senator Plumb.

George Chandler, of Independence, Montgomery County, was elected to the bench of the Eleventh Judicial District at the November election in 1882, and again in 1886. In the spring or summer of 1889 President Harrison appointed Judge Chandler Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior; and upon his accepting the appointment, there was a vacancy in the judges hip of the district. Lyman U. Humphrey, then Governor, appointed John N. Ritter, of Columbus, to fill the unexpired term. Judge Ritter was a candidate for election at the November election, 1890, but he was defeated, and J. D. McCue was elected to the bench. Judge McCue was a candidate for re-election, in 1894, but the election was in favor of A. H. Skidmore, of Columbus. Judge Skidmore was reelected in 1898, and he served until January, 1903, when Judge W. B. Glasse, who had been elected at the previous November election, became judge of the district.

Judge Lowe, after he had served several years as district judge, was elected to Congress. He moved from Mound City to Fort Scott, and died there some years ago.

Judge William C. Webb, after leaving the bench, engaged in the practice of the law in Topeka, and later he compiled and published the laws of the State of Kansas. He was for a time the clerk of the Supreme Court. He died at Topeka about five years ago.

Judge Henry C. Webb, who is a brother of William C. Webb, lives now at Parsons, Kansas. When he resigned the judgeship of the Eleventh District, he engaged in the practice of the law, at Oswego. Labette County, where he was regarded one of the ablest of his profession. He possessed a wonderfully strong, analytical mind and a striking personality. He had the native endowments for great achievement, had it not been for a certain immobility which held him from the activities necessary for the accomplishment of things beyond the ordinary.

I have spoken of Judge Perkins; but it may be added here, that while in Congress he was one of the four chief leaders of the House; and it may be said to his credit that, while he was in a position for eight years where he had, no doubt, many great opportunities for financial gain he came home, at the end of the time, without any means and not long afterward died a poor man.

Judge Chandler, after serving his term as Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior, remained in Washington, where he now lives, and where he practices his profession.

Judge Ritter was a banker besides being a lawyer. He came to Cherokee County a young teacher, but he had graduated from the law school of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. After teaching one or two terms, at Lowell he removed to Columbus about the time the county seat was moved thither from Baxter Springs. He was for two terms the county attorney, and after that he had a lucrative practice. He was the senior member of the banking firm of Ritter & Doubleday, and was a prosperous man until 1893, when the bank failed on account of the panic of that year. With this misfortune others came, and these with declining health hastened his death which took place in January, 1897.

Judge McCue resumed the practice of the law, after his term on the bench; but in some way he lost his property at Independence, Montgomery County, and he then moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he now lives. Judge McCue was one of the readiest lawyers that ever occupied the bench of the Eleventh District.

Elsewhere in this volume mention is made of Judge Skidmore and of Judge Glasse, both of whom are widely known, not only in the Eleventh Judicial District, but throughout the State.

It may be said that the men who have occupied the bench of the Eleventh Judicial District have been chosen from among the best lawyers within its limits, and that in the disposition of the causes which have come before them for adjudication they have followed a course of fairness and impartiality toward every one concerned therein. Possessing a clear understanding of the law, and feeling the responsibility of dealing out equal and exact justice in all their official acts, they have, with few exceptions, been free from any damaging criticism among the people. They have had many seriously grave and important matters to pa ss under their judicial notice, requiring the most careful consideration of the intricate details of varying propositions of law and of fact; but in all these they have acquitted themselves as men of capability and fixed integrity.


In the early settling of Cherokee County there were a few lawyers, who came, as other classes, seeking openings for business. The first of these settled at Baxter Springs. Among the very first was James A. Smith, the first county attorney. John E. Tutton, president of the Columbus State Bank, lived at Baxter Springs and knew Mr. Smith, who, on account of his height, was sometimes called "Long Jim." At the time of the Graham raid, which is spoken of in the chapter concerning, Baxter Springs. Mr. Smith, it is said, took such a fright that he walked out of town, across the broad prairies, and never returned. I have been told that he now lives at Girard, Crawford County.

The early trial dockets show the names of W. H. Hornor, W. M. Matheny, J. T. Voss, M. F. Edgington, William C. Webb, Henry T. Sumner, William Teal, John N. Ritter, McKeighan & Waterman, Blair & Martin, Amos Sanford, Henry G. Webb, W. P. Lamb, J. W. Davis, Addison Rucker, Thomas Rucker, J. R. Hallowell, Bishop & Perkins, R. J. Hill, M. V. B. Bennett, Danford & McComas, M. V. Voss, L. J. Webb, Brown, Case & Wright, J. R. Edwards, McCue, Bettis & Kelso. Many of these attorneys came from other counties, to attend court here, where they often had cases for trial. Hornor, Matheny, the Voss brothers, Ritter, McKeighan, Sanford, Hallowell and the Rucker brothers, and also James A. Smith, were resident lawyers. Later came T. P. Anderson, C. O. Stockslager, W. R. Cowley and W. H. Whiteman, whose names appear frequently on the trial dockets, following the year 1872. T. P. Anderson was associated with John N. Ritter, under the firm name of Ritter & Anderson, and they were often in court. Mr. Ritter had been county attorney; and after that he was much sought by those entering litigation. E. A. Perry and C. W. Blair, of Fort Scott, were often in the court of Cherokee County. General Blair, who was for a long time an attorney for the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad Company is kindly remembered by every Cherokee County lawyer that ever had anything to do with him. The same may be said of many other lawyers who lived in other counties and frequently practiced in this court. The firm name of Webb & Glasse appears on the trial docket along in the years after 1875. Afterward A. H. Skidmore, D. M. McKenney and J. D. Lewis come on. C. D. Ashley's name appears in 1882, and J. P. Perkins, E. M. Tracewell, R. M. Cheshire, W. J. Moore, William F. Sapp, John Wiswell and E. E. Sapp all had cases in court following the year 1883.

The following are the members of the Cherokee County Bar at this time: C. D. Ashley, N. T. Allison, R. W. Blue, James Bulger, R. M. Cheshire, W. R. Cowley, E. H. Cullison, Guy Cooter, A. S. Dennison, J. N. Dunbar, R. W. Emerson, H. C. Finch, W. B. Glasse, Jesse Forkner, H. A. Forkner, Ira Heaton, J. H. Hamilton, W. H. Lucas, A. L. Major, A. Macdonald, C. S. Macdonald, C. A. McNeill, E. V. McNeill, W. H. Millstead, W. J. Moore, W. S. Norton, William F. Sapp, Edward E. Sapp, A. E. Schreiner, A. H. Skidmore, C. B. Skidmore, Samuel H. Smith. Will E. Spiva, Charles Stephens, J. R. Strother, E. M. Tracewell, S. L. Walker, F. A. Walker, George W. Wheatley, L. H. Winter, George H. Wilson, A. S. Wilson, S. C. Westcott, Al. F. Williams and John Wiswell. The following are now practicing as firms: Blue & Bulger, Sapp (William F.) & Wilson (A. S.), the two Macdonalds, the two McNeills, Skidmore & Walker, Tracewell & Moore and Wiswell & Lucas. Ashley, Allison, Blue, Bulger, Cheshire, Cowley, Cooter, Dennison, Dunbar, Glasse, the two Forkners, Heaton, Hamilton, Lucas, the two McNeills, Moore, Norton, A. H. Skidmore, Stephens, Tracewell. S. L. Walker, George H. Wilson, Williams and Wiswell live at Columbus. Cu llison, Major, Finch, the two Macdonalds, the two Sapps, Spiva, Strother, Wheatley, Winter, A. S. Wilson and Westcott live at Galena. Emerson, Millstead and F. A. Walker live at Weir City. Samuel H. Smith lives at Baxter Springs, and C. B. Skidmore lives at West Mineral.

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