Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901

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The Murphy temperance meetings which had been held during the fall of 1877 resulted in the organization of a society for the purpose of opening a reading-room. A donation of a few books and periodicals was secured, and a subscription was taken to raise money to pay the necessary expenses of opening the room. Nelson Case wrote an article which appeared in the Independent, in October, 1887, urging that steps be taken to make this reading-room, for which a start had been made, a permanent institution. His suggestion met with favor, and a committee was appointed to secure a charter. The charter having been prepared and properly signed and acknowledged, it was filed in the office of the Secretary of State on December 24, 1877. A board of 13 directors was appointed. On January 5, 1878, the directors met and organized, electing the following officers: President, C. O. Perkins; secretary, C. L. Wyman; treasurer, B. F. Hobart; executive committee, Nelson Case, chairman, Merrit Read, F. H. Atchinson. Mr. Perkins remained president as long as he lived. F. H. Atchinsin, before the close of the first year, succeeded Mr. Wyman as secretary and continued to fill that position during the next nine years. Mr. Case remained chairman of the executive committee during its first ten years. Upon the death of Mr. Perkins, on April 30, 1887, the duties of the president were performed by the chairman of the executive committee until the annual meeting in December of that year, when Nelson Case was elected president; J. R. Hill, secretary; C. M. Condon, treasurer; F. H. Atchinson, E. P. Sawyer and R. L. Sharp, executive committee. The following year Mr. Hill was made chairman of the executive committee in place of Mr. Atchinson, the other officers remaining as last announced, all of whom have held the same positions to the present. The association has maintained a free reading-room, kept open daily with very slight exceptions, from the time of its organization to the present. It has never invested very largely in books, but has acquired quite a fair library. Its tables have constantly been kept supplied with the best periodicals. For a number of years the association had its reading-room in the city building, but during later years it maintained its reading-rooms, in connection with the Y. M. C. A. rooms, in the center of the business part of town. The association has provided a course of literary entertainments, consisting of lectures and concerts, nearly every season since its organization. A number of the best lecturers on the platform have been secured, as well as first-class musical talent. In more recent years the policy of home lectures has been inaugurated, and some of the leading men of the State have been secured to give lectures in these courses. By this means the people have been furnished with a class of entertainments of high standard, and the association has reaped something of a revenue to assist in maintaining its reading-room. During the past few years the association has been partially disorganized, and has not done the aggressive work it did during its earlier history.


On February 8, 1870, a majority of the residents having petitioned therefor, the probate judge made an order incorporating Oswego as a town, and appointed R. W. Wright, J. F. Waskey, Merrit Read, John F. Newlon and W. M. Johnson trustees. The trustees met February 23d, and organized by electing W. M. Johnson chairman, and appointed John D. Coulter clerk. Nelson Case was employed by the trustees as counsel, and assisted them in preparing ordinances.

On March 21, 1870, a census as taken, which showed more than 1,000 inhabitants in the town. An ordinance was passed declaring Oswego organized as a city of the third class. The first election was held April 4th, at which the following officers were elected: Mayor, J. F. Newlon; councilmen, D. W. Clover, R. W. Wright, William Wells, J. T. Pierson, and E. R. Trask. On April 6th the mayor and councilmen organized and held their first meeting. J. D. Coulter was appointed clerk; James R. Morrison, marshal, and F. A. Bettis, attorney. On March 16, 1871, an ordinance was passed declaring Oswego a city of the second class by virtue of chapter 59 of the laws of 1871, permitting certain cities therein named to organize as cities of the second class. The city has continued to act as a city of the second class from that time to the present. However, in 1890, in a case wherein Oswego township was plaintiff and Joseph Anderson was defendant, the supreme court decided that the act above referred to was unconstitutional, and therefore the organization as a city of the second class thereunder was illegal. In fact, it was always considered doubtful whether or not this act had any validity, and in 1880 the necessary steps were taken to secure an organization as a city of the second class under the general laws. On June 18, 1880, the Government issued a proclamation declaring Oswego a city of the second class.

Mayors: 1870, J. F. Newlon; 1871, Merrit Read; 1872, J. F. Waskey; 1873-76, R. W. Wright; 1876-87, C. M. Condon; 1887-89, H. C. Cook; 1889-91, J. W. Marley; 1891-95, J. M. Grant; 1895-97, J. B. Montgomery; 1897-99, R. O. Deming; 1899-i901, George S. Liggett. Clerks: February 23d to August 15, 1870, J. D. Coulter; August 15, 1870, to February 6, 1871, J. B. Zeigler; E. E. Hastings was appointed, but did not qualify; March 10, 1871, to April 10, 1871, H. E. Porter; April 10, 1871, to May 16, 1872, C. F. Winton; May 16, 1872, to April 30, 1878, Nelson Case; May 6, 1878, to Janaury 3, 1890, Thomas Bulwer; January 3, 1890, to April 10, 1891, J. D. H. Reed; April 10, 1891, to April 8, 1895, W. K. Orr; April 8, 1895, to April 16, 1897, J. W. Minturn; April 16, 1897, to April 8, 1898, W. K. Orr; April 15, 1898, to February 27, 1899, Jesse Richcreek; February 27, 1899, to April 6, 1900, L. H. Kemper; April 6, 1900, Marion Parks.


POTTERY. - In 1868 Mr. Shanks operated a pottery, and turned out several kilns of stoneware. In the spring of 1870, D. and C. E. Watts established a pottery in the cast part of town, from which they sent out quite an amount of stone-ware that season.

PORK-PACKING. - Mr. Jennings was the first to start this enterprise. He erected a stone building in the southwest part of the town, in which, in 1878, he commenced the slaughter and packing of hogs. Edgar Leonard and George Schwartz succeeded Mr. Jennings in the business. The establishment having been mostly destroyed by fire, the business was discontinued after having been conducted with a fair degree of success for two or three years.

WAGON FACTORY.-In June, 1882, J. Shotliff commenced work on his wagon factory in the south part of town, which was, put in operation before the close of the year. Mr. Shofliff operated this until it was destroyed by fire in 1885. On account of the loss then sustained, he was unable to again commence business. During the time he was running his factory he turned out a large number of wagons, and did a good business.

While no one else has ever carried on the manufacture of wagons at this place on such an extensive scale as did Mr. Shotliff while he conducted the business, there have been others who have done a good business in a smaller way. During the lifetime of David Branson, he and Mr. Marsh made wagons. J. C. Patterson has been engaged in the business almost from the start of the town. Mr. Gordon and Mr. Peters have likewise been in the business, and W. K. Orr has conducted a carriage-trimming shop for many years.

TILE FACTORY. - In June, 1885, H. C. Draper moved his tile factory to Oswego from across the river, where he had operated it for several years.

COTTON GIN. - In November, 1888, D. S. and J. C. Romine and A. Chambers purchased machinery and commenced the operation of a cotton gin. On December 11, 1888, they shipped six bales of cotton over the "Frisco" to St. Louis, which was the first shipment from this point. The gin was run several years, but was finally moved to Chetopa. C. A. Wilkin was interested in its operation a part of the time.

A CHEESE FACTORY was started on the south side of Fourth avenue near the M. K. & T. Ry. depot, in 1892, which it is hoped will prove successful; still for two or three years past little or no use has been made of it.

CREAMERY. - In 1899, a company was formed for the purpose of establishing a creamery. Most of the capital was furnished by farmers in the vicinity, who were interested in the enterprise. It is said to have been a profitable venture, and a great accommodation to those having milk to dispose of. Several auxiliary skimming stations are maintained.

EVAPORATOR. - Two or three parties have for a time conducted the business of drying and evaporating fruit. In 1892 a small plant was put in with the expectation of enlarging it and adding a canning factory.


In September, 1870, Macon, Krell & Cowell commenced the operation of their steam mill, the erection of which had been in progress for about a year. This firm were not able to continue the operation of their mill a great length of time, owing to financial embarrassment, and it was for a while in 1871 in the hands of Mr. Ross as receiver. The mortgage on the property was foreclosed, and the sale had through court. In October, 1873, R. S. Mathews became the owner of this mill. Subsequently, Miller & Sons purchased and ran this mill until it burned, early in 1884.

In October, 1870, Howell & Rathburn commenced the foundation of a three-and-one-half story frame flouring mill on the bank of the river north of Oswego, which was run by water except when the river was low. H. C. Hall became the owner of Mr. Rathburn's interest in this mill; the firm of Howell & Hall operated it until its destruction by fire, in January, 1886.

In June, 1881, Mr. Eickerman arranged for the erection of the brick mill in the west part of town, the walls of which were put up during the summer, and at the close of the year it was ready for business. Mr. Eickerman and G. W. Bird were the original proprietors. There have been several different ownerships of the mill, For some years past a corporation, - the Pearl Roller Mills, - in which S. B. Miller and G. W. Burdick are the principal stockholders, has owned and operated this mill, which is one of the largest and best equipped mills in this part of the state.

In the summer of 1892, Kiddoo, Black & Co. erected a new mill south of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad, between Illinois and Michigan streets. This mill is now owned (principally or wholly) by C. M. Condon, and is known as the Oswego Roller Mill.


THE FIRST BANK. - The first bank in the county was started in Oswego, by W. M. Johnson, in October, 1868. During that year and the fore part of 1869 it was conducted on the north side of Fourth avenue. In the summer of 1869 he erected a small frame building on the northeast corner of block 38, in which he thereafter conducted the business. For a short time only A. L. Austin was associated with Mr. Johnson in the banking business. This bank continued to do business until the spring of 1870, when Mr. Johnson was forced to make an assignment. His failure was caused by attempting to build a town instead of confining himself to conducting a bank. He had great confidence in the outcome of the county and of the town, and expected to realize very large profits from the money he could invest in real estate. He secured two corners, viz., the southwest corner of block 32 and the northeast corner of block 38, and on these intended to erect, for the time, very fine buildings. He went far enough to get the walls completed for the building on the southwest corner of block 32, now owned by Mr. Perkins, in doing so he had used more money than he was able to control belonging to himself, and during the spring of 1870, when depositors were wanting their money, he found himself unable to cash their checks. Every dollar of his property was consumed, and still his creditors were far from being paid. What might have been a very profitable business proved his financial ruin, simply because he indulged in a spirit of speculation.

About the middle of July, 1870, B. F. Hobart and H. L. Taylor came to Oswego and opened the next bank that was started in the town. About July 1, 1871, Mr. Taylor retired from the business, and was succeeded by J. C. Longwell, Mr. Hobart's father-in-law. Mr. Longwell having died, the business came under the management of B. F. Hobart. On July 1, 1877, C. M. Condon became a partner of Mr. Hobart, and thereafter the firm of Hobart & Condon conducted the business until the summer of 1882, when Mr. Hobart sold his interest to Mr. Condon, who continued in sole control of the business until early in 1901, when he admitted his son, Wilbur F. Condon, as a member of the firm of Condon & Co, They have a very extensive business.

STATE BANK OF OSWEGO. - On August 18, 1870, the State Bank of Oswego, with a paid-up-capital of $25,000, M. S. Adams being president and J. H. Folks cashier, commenced business. It only continued in business a few months, however, not finding a sufficient amount of business for two banks.

The next bank to open its doors to the public was that conducted by George Brockway and H. C. Draper. It commenced business March 2, 1874. Mr. Draper desiring to retire, in 1876 C. F. Smith, upon the close of his official term as treasurer, became associated with Mr. Brockway in this bank, and afterwards, in March, 1877, the sole manager of the same. This bank discontinued business September 1, 1877.

In 1880 H. A. Marley and his son, J. W. Marley, Opened a bank and loan office, which business they conducted until April 11, 1887, when they were succeeded by the First State Bank, which in turn was succeeded by

THE OSWEGO STATE BANK, on May 5, 1888. This bank has a paid-up capital of $50,000, and has done a profitable business for a number of years. Its board of directors have been J. W. Marley, E. T. Reed, H. C. Cook, John M. Grant, Lee Williams, H. A. Marley, Fred Perkins; in 1891 Scott Taylor succeeded Mr. Cook.

THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK was chartered in July and opened its doors for business the last of August, 1883. Its first officers were R. P. Clement, president; J. B. Montgomery, vice-president; F. C. Wheeler, cashier; C. F. Winton, assistant cashier. In January, 1885, C. Abbey succeeded Mr. Clement as president The last of 1886 Mr. Wheeler resigned, and was succeeded by H. C. Cook as cashier. On April 1, 1887, F. W. Keller became cashier, and served until September 16, 1890, when he was succeeded by J. M. Berry. On October 26, 1888, R. O. Deming was elected president, in which position he continued until the bank went out of existence. The bank was capitalized at $60,000, and did a large and profitable business. It went into voluntary liquidation and dissolution in the fall of 1893, its stockholders preferring to organize under the state law. Its successor was

THE LABETTE COUNTY BANK. - This was incorporated with a capital stock of $25,000. R. O. Deming was president and J. M. Berry, cashier. In 1895, this bank went into voluntary liquidation, leaving two banks in the city.


THE OSWEGO BUILDING AND LOAN ASSOCIATION. - This institution was organized in June, 1884, with an authorized capital of $50,000. H. C. Draper was president, L. C. Howard, secretary and E. T. Reed, treasurer.

THE DEMING INVESTMENT Co. - On the last of December, 1887, the Deming Investment Company was organized, and opened business on the first of January, 1888, with a paidup capital of $50,000, since which time it has been increased, and is now $60,000. The firm of Winton & Deming had been in the loan business previous to this time for a number of years, and upon the organization of this company it succeeded to the business of said firm. Nelson Case has been president, and R. O. Deming treasurer and manager of this company from its organization.

THE EASTERN KANSAS INVESTMENT Co. - About the first of 1889, Fred Perkins, C. F. Winton, C. A. Wilkin, M. E. Williams, and a few other parties organized the Eastern Kansas Investment Co. for the purpose of conducting a loan business. The company has done a good business.


Upon laying out the town, the town company designated block 52 as the city park. For a number of years it remained entirely unimproved. A few years ago a number of the citizens undertook the work of its improvement, and set it out to trees. It now presents quite an attractive appearance.


On February 12, 1887, about 40 ladies of the city formed themselves into a ladies' entertainment society, with the following officers: Mrs. Mary E. Perkins, president; Mrs. Hettie C. Hall, vice-president; Mrs. Franc Wilkin, secretary; and Mrs. Anna Sharp, treasurer. The purpose of the organization was to secure a site for and to improve a park. A number of entertainments were held, by means of which some money was raised, and in addition to this quite a sum was raised by subscription. A tract of ground was selected and purchased lying on the bluff of the river north of the city and east of the water-works engine house. This is about as far as the society has ever gone in its work of providing a park. There are a number of locations near the city with sufficient natural advantages to make a delightful resort, were a reasonable amount of money expended upon the improvements,


For several years the only sidewalks in town consisted of platforms in front of the stores and public buildings. As the space between these buildings grew less by the erection of other new buildings, the platforms were connected and planks put down, so that there was a continuous sidewalk on the principal street so far as the stores extended.

As early as July 21, 1870, notice was given by direction of the council for the construction of certain sidewalks, but no further action was ever taken thereunder. The first sidewalk constructed outside the business part of town, and the first one built by direction of the city council, was on Illinois street, extending from block 9 in Johnson & Folks' addition, to the Methodist church. This was built in pursuance of an order made by the council on March 6, 1874, on the petition of the requisite number of property-holders along the line. From this time on, sidewalks began to be gradually petitioned for and to be built over the residence part of the town, and for several years past nearly all streets of the city that are thickly inhabited have been supplied with good sidewalks.

During the summer of 1878 Commercial street was graded from Fourth avenue to the Frisco depot, and put in good condition for travel. It was not until June, 1885, that a good plank sidewalk was laid on the south side of Fourth avenue from Commercial street to the M. K. & T. Ry. depot.

During 1897 and 1898 especially, and to a certain extent since then, a great improvement has been made in the sidewalks of the city. A large amount of brick sidewalk has been laid. In addition to this improvement in sidewalks, Fourth avenue has been macadamized from Commercial street to the M. K. & T. Ry. depot; this work was done in 1898.


Few cities are better supplied with shade trees than is Oswego. All of the principal streets were at an early day set out with lines of trees, which have made a good growth, and now furnish abundant shade. The yards are also supplied with beautiful shade and ornamental trees, and in the summer the place presents almost the appearance of a city built in a forest.


Early in 1882 a telephone plant was put in, operation, connecting many of the business and dwelling houses, and was quite extensively used. During the summer a line was put in connecting Oswego with Parsons, which was completed July 20th. This plant was only used for a few months to any great extent, and after a time all of the instruments were taken out.

In 1896, and since then, telephonic communication between the various towns in the county, and with distant cities was resumed, and has been maintained and extended, so that at this time one can send messages over these lines to almost any point in the country.


During 1887 a system of water-works was constructed, supplying the city with Water from the Neosho river north of town. They were put in operation in the fall, and were accepted by the city about the last of November.


An electric light plant was put in during the spring and summer of 1888. On July 12th of that year the lights were first turned on. After being run a few months, its operation was for a time suspended. A change of ownership, however, was had, and the lights were soon again turned on, and have been in operation ever since. At the time the electric light plant was put into operation, the city contracted for the lighting of its streets by are lights, but street lighting by electricity proved to be too expensive for the revenues of the city, and so was discontinued after a trial of two or three years. The incandescent lights in dwellings and business houses are maintained.


Has been found but not in sufficient quantities to be utilized.


For a great many years Oswego was greatly burdened with its bonded indebtedness. When the M. K. & T. Ry. was constructed in 1870, Oswego township, including the city, gave the company $100,000 in bonds to secure the road. A few years later the township and city united voted bonds to the amount of $80,000 to secure an east and west road, now known as the St. L. & S. F. R. R. All of the $80,000 issue of bonds were executed and part of them were delivered to the contractors who had done grading; the rest were put in escrow, and subsequently a few of them were returned to the officers, but the most of them became outstanding liabilities against the township. The construction of the road was suspended for several years. To secure the completion of the road, besides a large contribution in cash by individuals, Oswego city issued $30,000 in bonds and Oswego township, $15,000 in bonds. For the purpose of bridging the Neosho, the township and city issued $20,000. In addition to all this, the city issued $18,000 for the construction of the two school-houses we are now using.

Most of these bonds were bearing a high rate of interest, and none a rate less than 6 per cent. To pay this indebtedness was beyond the power of the people residing in these municipalities. For many years no payment whatever was made on principal or interest of the railroad and bridge bonds. Litigation ensued which greatly increased the burden. The interest was all the time accumulating, and before anything was done toward solving the difficulty the indebtedness was, perhaps, much more than double what it had been originally.

Finally, in 1885, efforts to effect a compromise of the principal part of this indebtedness were successful. The last issue of bonds to the east and west road and the school bonds were not included in the compromise and were to be paid in full. But the $100,000 M. K. & T., $80,000 M. Q. & N. W., $20,000 bridge bonds, making $200,000 principal, and probably as much more in accumulated interest, were taken up, and in their place $154,000 funding bonds of the city and township were issued.

On these funding bonds the interest was paid somewhat regularly; still there was more litigation and costs were incurred, and quite an amount of interest was allowed to accumulate. In 1897 these municipalities started in to relieve themselves of indebtedness. A small amount had been paid prior thereto, but nearly all of the indebtedness above recited was then outstanding. The people heroically imposed on themselves a rate of taxation which, to name, would seem impossible to endure. For four years this extraordinary rate of debt paying has been going on, and now the people have the satisfaction of knowing the debt is reduced to $85,000, which on the basis they have been giving will in four more years be entirely extinguished.