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


stock-growers from these depredations were enormous. The good citizens organized to fight the evil, many prosecutions were commenced although few convictions were secured, but the activity of the organization and of the prosecuting officers eventually convinced the lawbreakers that Meade County was an unprofitable locality in which to pursue their nefarious vocation; the bands were broken up, some of the members reformed and quit stealing cattle, and others "stole away," so that for many, many years the owner of cattle has been able to sleep in peace, secure in the knowledge that his herds were safe.

During the decade from 1890 to 1900 the selling price of real estate in Meade County was nil; there was absolutely no demand for land; a good quarter-section of land could be bought for one hundred dollars, for fifty dollars, for twenty-five dollars, for any price one cared to offer, but there were practically no offers. The population decreased until but few more than a thousand souls found refuge within the bounds of the county. Most of the land was owned by the Government or by non-residents; few of these non-residents considered the land of sufficient value to warrant them in paying taxes, and they paid no tax. But finally the cattle industry had grown to such an extent that jealousy over the range sprang up, and in order to control certain range some enterprising stock-man would buy a quarter or two of land. Thus some slight market for real estate was created, but the price paid was usually from $50 to $100 per quarter-section. About the year 1900 a few adventurous persons, investors, "speculators" as they were called, commenced buying


land at the ridiculously low prices mentioned. Other investors followed, land gradually advanced in price to a dollar an acre, then came the real-estate agent, who assisted the speculator in disposing of his investments and in boosting the price, the price advanced to a dollar and a quarter, to two dollars an acre, and then came the actual settler. The Government land was homesteaded, the land was cultivated, the results were profitable, land continued to advance, until today the price of wheat land ranges from $15 to $40 per acre, and very little unimproved land can be bought at the lower price.

On August 5th, 1887, B. F. Cox, while drilling a well on the northeast quarter of Section 5, Township 31, Range 27, struck a flow of artesian water at a depth of 142 feet. These flowing wells were not considered of much value as a commercial proposition at that time, but the land underlaid by artesian water has since attained a commercial value of anywhere from $50 to $150 per acre, and the beginning of the end is not yet in sight; the possibi1itie of this particular portion of the county have not been appreciated. There is probably no more fertile, productive, desirable location in the whole world than the famous Artesian Valley of Meade County. Here Nature puts forth her noblest efforts to please, and the results are all that the most exacting could desire. Given the most fertile soil that Nature has provided, the most delightful climate that mankind enjoys, and Nature's most precious bestowal, pure water (more than 98 per cent pure by chemical analysis), cool and sparkling boiling up from the earth's pure fountains, with a strong continual flow, no wind-


mills to keep in repair, no gasoline engines to maintain, no creaking windlass, no moss-grown, microbe-covered bucket, no drouth to fear, no floods to destroy,—what more could a farmer desire? No one can go through this valley, so wonderfully endowed with Nature's blessings, without a desire to call a part of it his own. The orange groves of California, the apple orchards of Oregon, the pine woods of Maine, the magnolia blossoms of Dixie Land, may appeal to some, but give to me a spot 'neath Heaven's canopy that puts to shame the skies of Italy, where I can see the sunflowers growing by the roadside, with their golden faces turned toward their God, and catch the fragrance of alfalfa blossoms on every zephyr that floats o'er the Artesian Valley, and you may have all the world beside.

Deposits of iron ore and of peat have been discovered; salt is found in more or less abundance, and was at one time manufactured by evaporation, but owing to lack of transportation facilities at that time the enterprise proved unprofitable and was abandoned. Immense deposits of silica exist, which is just commencing to be of commercial importance.

Ira McSherry, from his farm about three miles south of Meade, is now filling a contract with James H. Rhodes & Co., Chicago, manufacturers of industrial chemicals, whereby he furnishes them a stated quantity of silica per year for five years. The price realized by Mr. McSherry is $2 per ton, delivered at Meade.

The Cudahy Packing Co. own large deposits of this mineral, and in the year 1915 built a railroad from their mines a few miles north of Meade, connecting with the


C. R. I. & P. at Fowler, for the purpose of transporting the product of these mines.

The Puck Soap Company own silica beds just west of Meade, and other deposits are found in various parts of the county.

A great deal has been written, and more told, concerning the Indian fight which occurred on Sand Creek, in Meade County, but it is of little importance in history. In September and October of 1878 a band of about two hundred Northern Cheyennes left their reservation near Fort Reno and started north, crossing Meade County, and in fact crossed the entire State of Kansas. An all-day's fight took place in the southeast part of the county between these Indians and 140 soldiers, the latter being assisted by about 60 civilians, mostly cowboys. One or two of the whites were slightly wounded, and while the damage to the Indians is not definitely known, the loss was small.



Soon after the settlement of the county commenced, and prior to its organization, cities and towns sprang up as if by magic, although many of them existed only on paper and in the promoter's vision. Various townsite companies were organized and incorporated. The first of these was The Meade Center Townsite Company, incorporated May 25th, 1885, with E. M. Mears, C. G. Allen, Henry H. Rogers, Alex. Bailey, I. N. Graves, James A Morris, and A. D. McDaniel, directors.

The Belle Meade Town Company followed, incorporating June 6th, 1885, with J. M. Brannon, Robt. P. Cooper, John Schmoker, James H. Elmore, and H. Chaney, directors.

The next to incorporate was the Spring Lake Town Company, receiving its charter July 6th, 1885. The directors of this company were D. G. Stratton, L. K. McIntyre, J. C. Marts, J. F. Shore, O. Norman, J. W. Hotz, Frank Sourbeer, Geo. W. Winder, Al Wirt, Geo. B. Allen, and N. B. Clark.

Then followed the Meade Center Town Association, incorporating July 10th, 1885, with W. P. Hackney, W. S. Mendenhall, R. L. Walker, F. E. Gillett and Ledru Guthrie as directors, none of whom were residents of Meade County.

The Meade County Town Company incorporated next, and on Aug. 22nd, 1885, with John Werth, L.



B. Ostrander, Thomas H. Campbell, John Schmoker, and John B. Innis, directors.

After this came the Atwater Townsite Company, incorporated Oct. 18th, 1887, with James E. McCall, John J. Mohler, John I. Jones, Wm. B. Long, H. L. Markley, John E. Maxwell, and Lewis Maston, directors.

The Denver, New Orleans and Rock Island Town Company, incorporated Dec. 7th, 1887, with John Worth, John W. Taylor, N B. Potter, A. McNulty, and T. McNulty, directors.

The Massachusetts Town Site Company, incorporated Jan. 6th, 1888, with Frank R. Gammon, B. B. Brown, Willis G. Emerson, Geo. L. Stevens, and Hugo Lundborg, directors.

The Title Land and Town Lot Company, incorporated Jan. 30th, 1888, with A. H. Heber, Willis G. Emerson, Geo. L. Stevens, Edward Doll, B. B. Brown, D. W. Higbee, and Selah A. Hull, directors.

First Oklahoma Town Company was incorporated April 13th, 1889, with A. H. Heber, W. F. Schell, M. W. Sutton, Willis G. Emerson, G. W. McMillen, L. E. Steele, Geo. Theis, Jr., H. B. Stone, and E. M. Mears, directors.

The West Plains Townsite Company was incorporated Dec. 2nd, 1884, with Charles W. Mosher, Edward M. Mears, William Leighton, William Randall, and Morris T. Roberts, directors.

Besides these incorporated companies there were several copartnerships and numerous individuals interested in promoting towns and towitsites.

On July 9th, 1885, the Meade Center Townsite Com-

  CITIES. 29

pany purchased from the United States Government the south half of the southwest quarter of Section 2, the south half of the northeast quarter of Section 10, the west half and the northwest quarter of Section 11, all in Township 32, Range 28, containing 520 acres, for $650, and surveyed and platted a portion of the same. On Oct. 21st, 1885, an order for the incorporation of the city of Meade Center was issued by Hon. James A. Ray, Judge of the District Court of Comanche County, to which Meade County was at that time attached for judicial purposes. The organization was completed on Nov. 3rd, 1885, and at the same time the following officers were elected: Mayor, Peter E. Hart; Police Judge, William C. Osgood; Councilmen, Nelson Button, E. A. Twist, George M. Roberts, David Truax, and Wm. H. Stewart. The organization of Meade Center, and the election of the first officers, were legalized by act of the Legislature of 1886, and the name was changed to Meade by act of Legislature of 1889.

On March 24th, 1886, the Townsite Company quit-claimed the land theretofore purchased to the United States, and it was conveyed by the Government to Peter E. Hart, Mayor, in trust for occupants, on April 2nd, 1886. On March 31st, 1886, the official plat of the original survey, Block "A," First and Second Additions, and out-lots Nos. I and 2, was filed. Several additions were afterwards surveyed and platted.

Meade has always been the county seat, and has always grown apace with the country in general. At the present time it has two banks, two newspapers, three elevators, good telephone and electric-light service, one of the best systems of waterworks in the State,


and all lines of general business, as well as the professions, are ably represented.

The 1916 census gave Meade a population of 886.

The town of Touzalin was promoted by the Meade Center Town Association. It was located on the northwest quarter of Section 36, Township 32, Range 28, and was surveyed in August and September of 1884. The first building was erected in March, 1885. It enjoyed a slight boom for a time, supported, or sported, three stores, a hotel, livery barn, blacksmith shop, etc.; but within three years after the first building was erected there remained nothing to mark the spot where the hoped-for city once stood. One handicap under which the promoters worked was the difficulty in securing water on the townsite. The buildings were moved away, and one of them was the building occupied by The First National Bank of Meade until it was torn down to make room for the present bank building.

The Mertilla Town Company, Joseph E. Sherrill, President; Henry C. Shuey, Secretary, was a copartnership. They filed the original plat of Mertilla Nov. 6, 1886, which included about fifty acres, described as follows: "Beginning at a point 730 feet east of the southwest corner of the northeast quarter of Section 30, Township 30, Range 29; thence north 730 feet; thence west 1460 feet; thence south 1460 feet; thence east 1460 feet; thence north 730 feet, to place of beginning." Two additions were platted later.

Mertilla early became a town of considerable promise. "Red" Jim High was proprietor of the first store. In addition to this there were two other stores, a hotel, de-

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