From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.

Chiselers Attempted Early To Corrupt Townsite Company

By Harry H. Seckler

The bald statement that there were grafters who sought to get in on "the take" if there was to be such, when it was proposed to stake out a pioneer town--now known as Leavenworth--was made by H. Miles Moore, one of the original townsite promoters.

Early in the planning that preceded the signing of the Articles of Association there was fierce opposition to the enterprise by outside parties who wanted to get in and "certain government officials" who pretended such sincere devotion to the poor indian.

In their vivid imagination the red man was being robbed by the avarice of the squatters, when in truth and in fact had the town company succumbed to their gentle pressure, for a liberal divide, they might have bought in their townsite at $2.50 per acre instead of $24,000 for the 320 acres city proper.

The foregoing paragraph doubtless referes to Gen. John Calhoun, a pro-slavery man who had ingratiated himself into the good graces of Abraham Lincoln, and was made surveyor-general of Kansas and Nebraska territories.

He opened offices first at Fort Leavenworth in 1855. Early history relates that he "worked" the local townsite company for som shares by promising to open his office here, and then got some shares from some other town companies by making the same promise to lacete in their communities.

It was charged that he, as president of Lecompton constitutional convention, forged election returns in an effort to make Kansas a slave state.

He died in St. Joseph, Mo., from the effects of an overdose of strychnine.

"thus it will be seen," Historians Burke and Rock, wrote in their 1880 history from which the above is quoted, "that Leavenworth commenced her existence as a cityby being made thevictim of extortion.

"Proper respect for the truth of history compels us to admit that a very large share of her subsequent experiences has been strikingly consistent with the manner in which she started."

Of the original 30 members who signed the articles of agreement, only eight were living in 1880 when the history that chronicled the foregoing paragraph was written.

They were Oliver Diefendorf, Amos Reese, H. Miles Moore, Joseph Murphy, John g. Gist, Joseph B. Evans, A. T. Kyle and Samuel F. Few. Of the original members three were ministers, four lawyers, five were doctors, two were printers, eight were farmers, one surveyor, four merchants, two army officers and an army clerk.

Two others, James W. Hardesty and W. S. Yohe, were afterwards admitted as original members.

Among those who purchased shares were several army officers stationed at Fort Leavenworth, and relatives of some of these still own property here.

The officers were General F. E. Hunt, then a captain, Fourth artillery; General Mcgruder, General B. C. Card, (then Lieutenant Card); General R. O. Drum, (then Lieutenant Drum); Lieutenant Robertson, Dr. Samuel Phillips and General Joseph E. Johnston, who resigned his commission and became a famous major general in the Confederate Army.

The credit for naming the streets of the original townsite, from Three Mile Creek, the southern boundary, to Sioux Street (now known as Metropolitan Avenue) is given to Maj. E. A. Ogden, one of the first trustees of the town association.

He suggested to the company as eminently proper that the Indian names should be preserved, that they were out of the ususal style and especially euphonious.

As evidence of the great amount of grading that was done in the vicinity of Main and Delaware Streets it is said that, when "Uncle George" Keller and his son-in-law, A. T. Kyle, built the first hotel, The Leavenworth, on that corner the first well in the town was dug there.

Afterwards when Delaware Street was graded down some thirty feet the well was actually dug up.

The first church to be erected in the town was built on the hill at the northwest corner of Third and Miami, on which the writer's home now stands.

The structure was a narrow one-story frame, bordering on the alley, facing the east, and about 48 feet in depth. It was demolished in the early 80s. There is no record indicating its denomination, but history relates that a Colonel H. P. Johnson was the builder.

The first religious services held here were conducted by Elder W. G. Cables on the bank of the Missouri River near the reserve line under the shade of a grove of trees.

Of the first day election there are no printed records.

After Leavenworth was incorporated and a special charter was granted by the First Territorial legislature sitting at Shawnee Mission in 1855, an act providing for the election of a mayor and councilmen and the choosing of election judges was passed by the city's governing body.

The judges were to set a time for the election and required to give at least three days' notice of the time and polling places by "ten printed or written hand bills put up at ten public places in the city."

The election was doubtless held, but there are no official records of that fact nor who were the candidates, and up to 1880 no one was found who could fix the precise time.

H. Miles Moore, who kept a diary of early day events, was sure it was on Monday, September 3, 1855.

After that first election in which city officials were chosen, one was held yearly each September, but since April, 1868, a period of two years has elapsed between such contests.

During the several terms of Messsrs. Denman, Lattin, Anthony and Carney nearly all the first public improvements in the city were made. During the period covered by the time these men occupied the mayor's office public buildings were erected, streets graded and paved, sidewalks constructed, several railroads completed to the town and Leavenworth was known as the busiest, most prosperous and most rapidly growing city in the west.

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