Transcribed from A History of Meade County, Kansas by Frank S. Sullivan. ; [c1916] ; Crane & Company. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward, September 2006.

1916 A History of Meade County, Kansas


The old order changeth. Where a few years ago could be seen, like the patriarch's herd, cattle on a thousand hills, now appear homes and schoolhouses and churches, and where once the seared buffalo-grass alone turned its bronzed bosom to the sky, smiling fields of waving wheat fling their banners to the heavens, and acres of verdant alfalfa greet the delighted eye, and render odorous, as with sweet incense, the surrounding air.


Meade, Kansas, July, 1916.




IN the early days of discovery, exploration and settlement, three European nations, England, France, and Spain, claimed the territory out of which Meade County was finally carved. Basing its claims upon the explorations of the Cabots and others, in 1606 the English Crown granted to the London Company and to the Plymouth Company that vast area of land lying between the 34th and 45th parallels of latitude and extending from ocean to ocean. The English made no attempt to explore the country so far inland, and their claims upon this territory were early abandoned.

The claims of the French were more substantial. In 1673 Marquette explored a considerable portion of the Mississippi Valley; his explorations were continued and extended by LaSalle in 1682; in 1719 Dutisne explored a part of the interior, including a portion of the territory of the present State of Kansas; these explorations were continued in 1724 by DuBourgmont, who also entered and explored a part of Kansas. As a result of these various expeditions France claimed the territory which now comprises Meade County as a part of Louisiana.

The explorations of Spain were more thorough than those of France. In 1528 Narvaez explored a part of



the Mississippi Valley. These explorations were continued by Cabeça de Veca, who had been an officer under Narvaez in 1734-36. De Vaca entered Kansas, passed entirely across the State from east to west, and possibly crossed Meade County. In 1541 Coronado, in his search for the fabled Quivira, crossed Meade County, possibly on his outbound trip, certainly on his return.

In 1762 France ceded Louisiana to Spain, but by the treaty of 1800 it was re-ceded to France, and by France ceded to the United States in 1803. However, the boundaries were not fully determined at that time, and in 1819 the United States ceded to Spain that part of Louisiana lying west of the 23rd meridian and south of the Arkansas river; so that what is now Meade County became an undisputed possession of Spain.

Upon Mexico gaining her independence from Spain in 1821 this territory passed from Spain to Mexico, and when in 1836 Texas acquired her independence it became a part of Texas. With the annexation of Texas in 1845 it became a part of the United States, but ownership remained in Texas until under the Omnibus Bill of 1850 it was ceded by Texas to the General Government, and became a part of Kansas under the Organic Act of 1854.

The Legislature of 1865 fixed the boundaries of Marion County to include the present territory of Meade County. In June of the same year Marion County was organized and its boundaries changed, excluding this territory, which remained unorganized and unattached until, in 1873, the Legislature created Meade County, named in honor of Gen. George G. Meade, and fixed its boundaries as follows: "Com-



mencing at the intersection of the east line of range twenty-seven west with the north line of township twenty-nine south; thence south along range line to its intersection with the south boundary line of the State of Kansas; thence west along said boundary line of the State of Kansas to a point where it is intersected by the east line of range thirty-one west; thence along north range line to where it intersects the north boundary line of township twenty-nine south; thence east to the place of beginning."

In 1881 Meade County was attached to Ford County for judicial purposes, until Meade County should be organized.

In 1883 the Legislature dissolved Meade County, attaching that part lying east of the east line of range twenty-nine to Ford County, and that part lying west of the east line of range twenty-nine to Seward County.

The Legislature of 1885 again established Meade County, with slightly different boundaries, which boundaries it has ever since retained, and are as follows: Commencing at the intersection of the east line of range twenty-six west with the north line of township thirty; thence south along range line to its intersection with the south boundary line of the State of Kansas; thence west along said boundary line of the State of Kansas to a point where it is intersected by the east line of range thirty-one west; thence along range line to where it intersects the north boundary line of township thirty; thence east to place of beginning."

The same Legislature attached Meade County to Comanche County for judicial purposes, to which


county it remained attached until the formal organization of Meade County.

In 1885 a petition for organization was presented to Gov. John A. Martin. I. N. Graves was appointed census-taker. His return showed a population of 3507, of whom 1165 were householders.

Proclamation of organization was issued Nov. 4th, 1885; Meade Center was designated the temporary county seat, A. D McDaniel temporary County Clerk, and L. S. Sears, H. L. Mullen and E. M. Mears as the temporary Board of County Commissioners. The election to choose a permanent county seat, and permanent officers for the first term, was held on January 5th, 1886.

During the campaign the question of the location of the county seat overshadowed everything else, and much enmity was created, especially between the partisans of Meade Center and of Carthage. The vote, which chose Meade Center as the permanent county seat, was as follows:

Meade Center 486   Mertilla 3
Fowler 231 Pearlette 3
Carthage 188 Odee 2
Byers 1  

The election, which was non-partisan, resulted in choice of the following officers: Representative, R. M. Painter; County Commissioners, Chris Schmoker, Hugh L. Mullen, J. D. Wick; County Clerk, M. B. Peed; Probate Judge, N. K. McCall; Sheriff. T. J. McKibben; Treasurer, W. F. Foster; Clerk of the District Court, W. H. Willis; Register of Deeds, C. W. Adams; County Superintendent, K. B. Clark; County Attorney, Sam Lawrence; Surveyor, Price Moody; Coroner, E. E. Buehecker.



Long prior to permanent settlement the territory now comprising Meade County was frequently visited by hunters, traders and adventurers. Prominent among these was Jedediah Strong Smith, a great-uncle of our esteemed fellow-citizen E. D. Smith, who visited this territory as early as the year 1818. Just who the first permanent settler was, and the date of settlement, are matters of much conjecture, but it is generally conceded that the first permanent settlement was at Meade City, about twelve miles north of the present town of Meade, and was in the year 1878. In 1879 a colony consisting of sixteen families from Zanesville, Ohio, settled at Pearlette. The original Pearlette was near the site of the town afterwards surveyed and platted, but not the identical location. John Jobling was president of the company responsible for this settlement, and his son, William Jobling, still a resident of Meade County, is perhaps the oldest citizen, considered from a standpoint of continuous residence. Andor Eliason, who resided in this county up to the time of his death about two years ago, settled in 1879, as did also Frank Sourbeer, who is at present an efficient magistrate of Meade Center Township. Perhaps the oldest unaltered building in the county is one now on the farm of Frank Marrs, built by Mr. Sourbeer.

The first newspaper published in Meade County was the Pearlette Call, the first number being issued in April, 1879, by Addison Bennett.



The early settlers endured all the hardships incident to pioneer life. For years all provisions were freighted from Dodge City, then a notorious "border town."

The railroad penetrated Meade County in the year 1887, which gave business a new impetus and practically abolished the "freighter."

The early settlers were buoyant with hope, and were quick to indorse and accept any plan calculated to develop the country's resources, and for this reason were rendered an easy prey to designing schemers with "blue sky" to sell. A scheme that appealed strongly was a proposition to establish sugar mills for the manufacture of cane sugar. Great encouragement was given these enterprises, township bonds were voted and issued in their aid, and at least two mills—one at Meade, the other at West Plains—were built. The one at Plains never attempted to operate, but the one at Meade encouraged and induced the farmers to plant large acreages of cane, and contracted for the cane at fair prices. But, unfortunately, while the cane grew and thrived, sugar could not be produced from it or at least it could not be produced in sufficient volume to make the enterprise a success financially, and so the sugar-mill went the usual way of wildcat schemes. Underhand methods and fraud were alleged, graft and corruption were openly charged, but it was never proved that anyone ever made any money, honestly or dishonestly, out of the sugar-mill venture.

In the late 80's and early 90's, the country at that time being largely devoted to stock-raising, the county was sorely infested with cattle thieves more or less organized, and the aggregate losses to the legitimate

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