Transcribed from:
Gray's Doniphan County history: A record of the happenings of half a hundred years. By P. L. (Patrick Leopoldo) Gray. Bendena, Kan.: The Roycroft Press, 1905. 3p. l. [11]-84, 166, [2] p. front., plates, ports. 24 cm.



Six carloads of hemp were recently shipped from Troy, raised principally by Norwegian farmers on the high prairie west of town. The price paid was $60 a ton. --- White Cloud Chief, June, 1812.

At the house of Benj. Harding, near where Wathena now stands was held the first county election, November 24, 1854. Election of delegates to Congress.

There are still living in the County a few men who remember Jim Lane's big, bony forefinger, his bear skin overcoat, and his calf skin vest. The old folks speaking of Lane always close their remarks with the signicant[sic] saying: "He was a queer Jim."

In the early sixties the county assessor found thirty or forty slaves to list as personal property. A slave was worth considerable money. A man named Davis who lived near Doniphan, traded forty acres of land for a good, healthy negro whom he took with him to Missouri. About the same time a negro slave was sold at auction in Iowa Point.

The originator of Decoration day, it is claimed was James Redpath, who was at one time a resident of this County. While here he was editor of the Crusader of Freedom at Doniphan. Some years ago he was killed by a street car in an eastern city. Redpath was the author of one or two books on Kansas, and also of a life of John Brown.

The first meeting of the newly elected County commissioners was held at Whitehead, in October, 1855.

An early pony express rider whose route lay through this County was John Fry. He rode from St. Joseph to Seneca

The Doniphan County Agricultural, Horticultural, and Mechanical Association completed its organization as an institution of public interest, in the month of January, 1868; since which time it has been growing in public favor very rapidly, and has given an impetus to all branches of agriculture in the County. This association has received so much encouragement, and has been so active in its effect upon the products of the county, that it is deemed advisable to hold a county fair this coming fall; and arrangements are now nearly completed for this enterprise. This is known to be a step in the right direction, and one that will place us much higher in the scale of improvement. --- From Smith & Vaughan's "History and Directory."

One of the first platform dances in the county was given at Ryan Station, in the fall of 1869, at which time the station was the western terminus of the St. Joseph & Denver City Railroad. Elsewhere in this work will be found a sketch of this big event, prepared from notes furnished by one of the fair sex who was present with her beau.

In 1852 Wathena's wigwam was built on the spot a few rods north of the place now occupied by the steam flouring mills. It was built with a frame work of poles tied together with hickory bark, and covered with elm bark, and after the removal of the chief, it was used for a church for some time. Old Wathena cultivated a small field near his wigwam, raising an abundance of corn and vegetables. In the very early days he had a few white neighbors who found him to be a pretty good Indian, not counting his "habit of theft."

A Grange lodge was organized in School District No. 8, early in the seventies, but the grasshoppers came soon afterwards, and chewed big, ragged holes in the initiating costumes; also the goat's bellyband and crupper were gnawed and destroyed, and the lodge was abandoned.

About 1880 a vein of coal nearly two feet in thickness was discovered on the McNulty farm, in the Saint Benedict's neighborhood. The coal, which was of fair quality, was used by many of the neighbors. Evidences of the existence of coal has been found in different part's of the County, but we never shall have coal barons for citizens, because ours is preeminently an agricultural County.

Going away frow[sic] Doniphan County is like leaving one's mother, wife, or sweetheart. This is the substance of the testimony of many men who went away but soon wanted to return.

The disturbances of three earthquakes have been felt here. The first shock was felt April 24, 1867, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. The second, almost as severe, came in September, 1871. The third, which did little more than arouse light sleepers, came one morning in October, 1896.

During the sixties ague was a common ailment. There was scarcely a farm that did not have its swampy places. Malarial poisons had their origin in those places, and until they were annihilated by cultivation and drainage, large quantities of quinine and boneset were required to preserve the health of the settlers.

About the year 1860, thousands of cattle that were being driven up from the South through the County were attacked by Texas fever and died, and for many years the prairies of the southern and western parts of Wolf River township were literally covered with their bones.

There have been two excessively dry years in the history of our County - 1860 and 1901.

The proprietors of Ayer's Ague Cure at one time owned land here. In the early days before the swamps and bogs had dried up, Dr. Ayer sold enough cure to purchase many good Doniphan County farms. There is not an old settler who will not tell you that ague was, at one time, more to be dreaded than the visits of Indians.

There was little timber on the prairies in the early days. The only groves planted during the sixties were of cottonwood transplanted from the river bottoms. A little later, locusts and box-elders were brought into use; but these were again supplanted by maple, walnut, and other shady trees. The great sleet storm of 1881 destroyed or retarded the growth of many fine groves on the high prairies.

Until about 1870, candles and tallowdips were in general use. All reading and night work was done by those miserable lights. For a long time there was a disinclination to use the kerosene lamp, because of its reputed liability to explode; besides oil was dear, and the pockets of the old fashioned jeans were not lined with gold. Sometimes a rude lantern of tin with perforations was used for out door work, and this with its myriad eyes of fire, was as ghostly thing as one would wish to see when alone.

At St. Joseph, the river originally flowed in front of First street. Later it ran along Fourth street, and the intervening land had disappeared. A non-resident who purchased lots soon after the city was laid out, returned in 1858, to look for them. He supposed them to be some where in the bed of the stream, but had the curiosity to ascertain by survey. They proved to be on the other side of the river in Elwood, Kansas.---Richardson's "Beyond the Mississippi."

The following brief war story we have from a fairly reliable source: In 1862, soldiers of the Doniphan County Militia on their way to meet Gen. Price on his northern march, camped at Atchison where, in the shade of night they charged, not "upon a flock of geese," but upon a ten dozen flock of chickens belonging to Mrs. Clem Rohr, putting all to death except one hoary rooster that no one would dare to tackle. Next day there was a big soup feast in the army, and the soldiers were put in good trim for the prospective fight with Price. Price having learned what our boys had done to the poultry, changed his march. No doubt had our boys met the famous raider, something would have happened; whereas, Price not appearing, there was nothing done, and those of the boys that did not visit the brewery returned to their homes with only chicken blood on their hands.

In the year of 1855, James H. Lane organized a "Daniet" lodge in Doniphan, for the furtherance of his political schemes. Pat Loughlin, James Redpath and others, who had been members became disgusted with the workings of the "order," and divulged some of the "secrets," and the thing went apart. The trouble which led to the killing of Collins in November of the same year, had its source in this lodge.

A prize fight in which two Doniphan County men - Jim Loucks and Marion Steele - were the principals, was fought on the Missouri side of the river opposite Doniphan, about the year 1867. The fight was to have taken place in Doniphan but the town authorities would not permit it, and a sand bar on the Missouri side of the river was chosen for the scene of the battle. It is said that five hundred men assembled to witness the event, which, however, proved a failure and a disappointment. For a moment there was a quick exchange of blows, which, according to accounts, were plainly heard across the river, a distance of half a mile. But the fight was lop-sided, and there was murmuring among the onlookers. The sledge-hammer blows of Steele were too much for the slack endurance of Loucks who quietly but quickly yielded up the belt.

A Vigilance committee for the detection and punishment of horsethieves was organized on Cedar creek, in 1862. The officers were: S. N. Nesbit, R.H.N., C. E. Fox, A.S.E., S. Plotner, W.R.S., H. M. Coburn, W.C., J. Chapson, R.K., B. V. Ransom, Secretary.

On Friday, February 11, 1881, a very heavy snow fell. Next day the wind rose and the snow drifted high, blocking the railroads for nearly a week.

Pat Barlow and wife received the premium at the Fair for the best collection of babies. - Chief, Oct. 4, 1877,

The first new silver change made its appearance in Troy, in May, 1876. Cy. Leland brought $50 of it from St. Joseph and gave it out as change.

In 1871, our County took the lead in the State, in barley raising. The harvest yielded 22,872 bushels.

The first telegraph line erected in the County was put up about 1861.

The earliest map of the County was made by Robert Tracy, in 1866. It showed congressional and municipal townships, sections, etc., but was incomplete.

Prom April 1, to June 15, 1849, 1,508 wagons crossed on the ferries at St. Joseph, bound for California.

A pair of couriers sent out by Dr. Say, of Major Long's expedition, made the record race of their lives on the 29th day of August, 1819, when they ran from Cow Island in the Missouri (near Atchison) to the mouth of Wolf River, a distance of about thirty miles, to intercept the expedition boat on its way up the stream, and hold it for the arrival of the Doctor and his men who, returning from their prairie journey in the West, reached the river a day or two after the boat had passed up. At that time the prairies were covered with a tall, thick grass, which made travelling extremely difficult, and we may be certain that when the Doctor and his little party finally reached the mouth of the Wolf, they were a glad but tired lot.

To April, 1874, Col. Ege had a happy day in his old age, enjoying a genuine wolf hunt. With his hounds he started up a huge gray wolf on the north fork of Independence creek, and gave pursuit, circling around an area of about six miles, passing near St, Benedict's church and then striking in toward the river. The bounds overhauled the game at the railroad not far from Doniphan, after a race of about twenty miles, and a fierce fight ensued, in which the dogs were considerably cut up. The colonel came up and took a hand, when the wolf turned the fight on him. He seized his stick of timber and dealt the wolf a blow, apparently killing him. Directing a man who accompanied him to take the wolf on his horse in front of him, the two started off with their prize; but after riding some distance, the beast returned to life, and commenced going for the man's legs, causing him to drop it; whereupon the colonel cut the wolf's throat with his pocket knife, killing him "for keeps."

From 1870 to 1875 scores of cattle and horses were killed on the St. Joseph & Denver road for which the road never paid a cent damages to the owners. A suit against the road for damages was almost certain to end in the farmer's losing the case. This state of affairs is what drove one man to take desperate measures to get revenge when it had become impossible to get justice. Following is a copy of a notice found posted upon the St. Joseph & Denver side of the depot at Troy Junction, in July, 1872:

Kansas, July 21st, 1872.

We hereby notify the St. Joseph & Denver City Railroad Company that if the stock killing damages heretofore done is not paid up before August 1st, and if not, all travelling community will travel at their own risk, also the future damages if not paid in ten days after such damage is done. We ask no boon, we crave no mercy; but justice we will have, from Wathena to St. Francis.

(Signed) General Cassander and Co.

Some time after this an attempt was made to burn the trestles of a bridge near Norway. The trestles had been burned at their foundation, but their dangerous condition was discovered before the cars came along.

In the spring of 1873, the first complete map of the County was made by Robert Tracy. Few men of the County did more for the people than "Bob" Tracy, during his residence here.

At a County Fair held in Atchison, in 1873, a Doniphan County baby won the prize offered the best baby. His name was Buster.

A company of Voluntary Malitia was organized at Syracuse, June 20, 1861.

In July, 1873, there was very high water in the Missouri - a belated "June rise.

John Parker, a Wathena man, killed a snake last Friday, on a sand bar in the river. It was of the kind known as blue racer and had no business out in the winter time - Chief, January 6, 1896.

From the same issue we copy the following. "Jim Brown, the section foreman, caught a grasshopper. This is an open winter."

In October, 1861, some Missouri rebels running short of lead for ammunition, crossed the river to Lafayette. Stealing some 75 feet of lead pipe from the Lyman saw mill they melted it into bullets and returned without being discovered.

Nelson Abbey, of Doniphan, County, has a choice ox which he has long been fattening for the entertainment of his friends in the event of Lincoln's election. Mr. Abbey was for many years a neighbor of Lincoln's. - St. Joseph Free Democrat, September, 1860.

In December, 1873, a cock fight between Kentucky and Missouri cooks was seen at Kansas City. The "Missouri" roosters, which belonged to Col. Ege, of our County, won all the victories.

In March, 1873, the sheriff sold two engines at Elwood, on execution for the personal taxes of the Denver road.

Xzovey Monteva was at one time a citizen of this County. We will give a copy of our History to the first person who shall pronounce this name without sneezing.

In 1860, a 24-page pamphlet, "The Western Tier," by D. M. Johnson, was published from the office of the Troy Reporter.

The Harroun elevator at Elwood costing $1,000,000.00, was completed in November, 1899.

On May 20, 1856, commissions were issued to officers of the Voluntary Company in Doniphan County called the "Tigers," as follows: Alex. H. Dunning, Captain; Wm. Sublett, First Lieutenant Chas. M. Thompson, Second Lieutenant; Sylvester Hudson, Third Lieutenant.

High upon the roll of writers for Kansas must ever remain the names of two editors and brave men who had no papers---William A. Phillips, correspondent of the New York Tribune, and James Redpath, of the St. Louis Democrat, and of the Boston press. Phillips a Scotchman, Redpath an Englishman, but both Kansas men in the heart, much abused as foreigners, they have made bright American names. ---D. W. Wilder.

Father Augustine Wirth, one of Doniphan's early priests, was one of the founders of the famous St. Benedict's Abbey at Atchison. Many times he made the journey from Doniphan to Atchison on foot to attend to the spiritual wants of a few Catholic families located there. In 1860, when the fire of drouth swept over the land, it will be gratefully remembered that this good man sent East and procured corn and provisions which were distributed to the poor at Atchison.

Zach Mooney and Melvin Baughn, horsethieves who operated in this and other counties in north eastern Kansas during the early sixties, shot and killed Jessie S. Dennis, and severely wounded another man while resisting arrest in Nemeha county, in 1866. A reward of $600 had been offered for their capture. Baughn was captured and imprisoned, but soon made his escape from jail. However, he was recaptured and was executed at Seneca, on the 18th of September 1868.

"General" V. P. Richardson and his army were in Doniphan County, in 1856. Three of the camping grounds are pointed out by old settlers. One is a short distance northwest of the present site of Severance; another, south and west of the farm on which the Oakland school house now stands, a few miles from the Atchison county line; a third at, or near, Cottonwood Springs, south east of Troy. It was while encamped in this County that the "general" received information that "a state of actual war exists in Douglas County, and that in other parts of the Territory, within this division, robberies and other flagrant violations of the law are daily occurring by armed bodies of men from the Northern states." The quotation is from the "general's" letter written from one of his Doniphan County camps, August 18, 1856.

The streets, alleys, parks and public grounds of Charleston, Petersburg, LePorte and Mt. Vernon, paper towns of the County, were vacated by the Legislature of 1863-4.

Seven horses were killed by one train on the St. Joseph & Denver road below Norway, in May, 1874.

Two fine County bridges---Bayne's and the Leona bridge---were built in 1873. Bayne's was 101 feet in length; Leona's 77 feet.

A lady who was visiting at the home of Joshua Rittenhouse at the time of the great Wolf River cyclone on June 16, 1865, had $800 in her trunk. The trunk was blown away with the house, and the lady never found a dollar of the money or a fragment of the trunk.

In March, 1855, there were in the Fourteenth District (this County), 655 males, 512 females, 301 natives of the United States, 46 foreigners, 1 free Negro and 35 slaves. The number of legal voters was 334. Total population, 1,167.

In March, 1867, a mail route was established from Topeka through Holton, Kennekuk and Troy. This gave the citizens of the western part of the County better mail services.

A train of fifty two wagons, six mules attached to each, passed through Wathena April 7, 1867, bound for Salt Lake City.

The macadamized road from Elwood to Wathena was completed in June, 1866.

In "An Act to incorporate the Wathena Plank and Macadamized Road Company" published in "The Statutes of the Territory of Kansas, 1855", the following are named as members of the Company:

Jno. Card, J. C. Hull, Preston F. Moss, Wm. Ridenbaugh, Silas Woodson, Ebenezer Blackiston, Win. Matthews, Milton Bryant, Dan. Vandersl ice, Carey B. Whitehead, J. P. Blair, and M. Rodgers.

In 1867 specimens of lead ore were found in the bluffs near Wathena. At that time it was believed that lead in paying quantities could be mined from the hills in the vicinity.

David W. Morse planted the first broom corn in Wolf River township, in 1857, on the farm now owned by Wm. Webb. He had a broom factory there until 1861, when he closed it and went into the army.

The Kansas Herald, July, 1855, relates the following of Governor Reeder: "On one occasion a gentleman approached Gov. H., and said he heard a friend at Weston, Mo., remark that if Gov. Reeder returned to the Territory he would gather up a company of men, ten thousand if necessary, and search every part of the Territory, if need be, to find and hang him. The governor very cordially thanked his informant for the intelligence, and remarked: 'Tell your friend that whether he comes at the head of ten hundred or ten thousand men, it will make no difference I shall never be mobbed; and your friend, if he makes demonstrations in that direction, may rest assured that his minutes are numbered, for I will put a ball through his head, though I know I shall be cut into inch pieces ten minutes afterwards. I shall pursue my legitimate business uninterrupted, else the invader of my rights shall pay the forfeit.'"

James H. Lane, very frequently refered to as the "grim chieftain" owned a preemption claim near Doniphan, in 1857. On this land he set up a saw mill and made other improvements which he soon afterwards sold, in order that he might take a more active part in the Border troubles. Jim would have done better to have held to his Doniphan County farm.

Item from a letter dated "Whitehead, June 1, 1854": There is a story abroad that at all the ferries over the Missouri river they have a cow tied, and a committee to watch emigrants. They ask, "What animal is that?" If the emigrant says "A cow," he goes over, but if he answers "A keow," he is turned back.