|December 31, 1871||Daily Commercial||(Leavenworth, Kansas)|
Perhaps the most important public work now in progress in Leavenworth, is the Kansas and Missouri bridge, which is designed to afford direct communication with the east. The company who undertook the construction of this bridge was incorporated Nov. 12, 1867, and the necessary Congressional franchises obtained in September, 1868. Gen. Wright was appointed chief engineer, who immediately set to work making surveys for the location of the bridge, and preparing an estimate of the cost. These were presented to the board of directors Oct, 31st, and approved. The work of construction was awarded to L. B. Boomer &Co., of Chicago, but no commencement was made on the bridge until July, 1870. The work was prosecuted amid interruptions and delays, and by the July following the substructure and approaches were completed. The substructure consists of pneumatic piles, keyed to solid rock, with a solid masonry pier on the western river bank, and a trestle work approach on the eastern shore. The superstructure is to be built in three spans, and the first span is already laid. The iron for the two remaining spans is already prepared, and it is expected that the bridge will be ready for the passage of trains by the first of March next.
Before we proceed to speak of the manufacturing industry of Leavenworth, it would be well to devote a little space to the history of the Leavenworth coal mine, which may be regarded as the most essential element to industrial progress and development.
It is not certainly known who first suggested the probable existence of coal in this locality. Mr. Sam Denman, who recently died in Lawrence, father of Mr. H. B. Denman, claimed the credit of the suggestion, while Mr. F. Haun, of this city, declares that the credit is due to him, and that the first exploration for coal was begun under the impulse created by his developments. It is probable that the credit is due to Mr. Haun. But the point is not a material one, as it requires but a superficial knowledge of geology to discover that Leavenworth lies within the region of the coal measures.
The first attempt at procuring coal was made by Samuel Denman, Thomas Ewing, Jr., and Wm. H. Russell, who obtained, Nov. 13th, 1860, from the Secretary of War, what they supposed to be authority to mine for coal under the Reserve; but the lease afterward proved worthless. A boring was commenced under the supervision of Mr. Samuel Denman, and after delays of various kinds, a depth of 450 feet was reached by the drill, and Mr. Denman pronounced further effort useless. The project was hence abandoned. Mr. Haun hereupon obtained a transfer of the mining rights, and having unshaken confidence in the existence of coal, determined to make a second attempt. To this end a company was organized Dec. 21st, 1863, upon the basis of the Denman lease. Mr. Haun having a misgiving that some mistake had been made in the boring, and believing that a vein of coal existed within 300 feet of the surface, contracted with A. C. Ellithorpe to sink an oval shaft, eight feet in diameter. Mr. Ellithorpe sunk about ninety feet and abandoned the contract.
A new organization was made June 3d, 1865, by the following persons: F. Haun, John Kerr, J. C. Hemingray, Lucien Scott, Wilison &Estes, Ed. Russell, C. A. Logan, Tiffin Sinks and John McCarthy. This company resolved to carry a shaft down and contracted with Jno. McCarthy to do the work. After numerous disappointments the bore reached a depth of 294 feet, where the company had hoped to find a workable lead of coal. But the hope was not realized. They then resolved to bore from the bottom of the shaft, and in the prosecution of this work lost no less than three holes. The boring finally demonstrated, as the company believed, the existence of two and a half feet of coal at a depth of 540 feet, and the company resolved to raise means to carry the shaft down to it. But here a new trouble arose. It was discovered that the lease under which they were operating was invalid, and that they were subject to the danger of being put off the ground by a military force at any time the government might order it.
This discovery well nigh broke down the movement. Under the urgent appeals of some of the company, Dr. Logan and his brother, Thomas A. Logan, Esq., a prominent lawyer of Cincinnati, were sent to Washington as a forlorn hope, to procure the passage of an act of Congress, if possible guarantying the company's rights. Their mission proved successful, and Dr. Logan returned to Leavenworth with an act passed July 28th, 1868, granting to the company not only the exclusive and perpetual right to mine for all coal beneath the Fort Leavenworth reservation, but the privilege of purchasing in fee simple the twenty acres of ground upon which their shaft is located. Discovering also that the city ordinance giving them the right to mine the streets and alleys of the city was invalid, Dr. Logan and Mr. Ed. Russell went to Topeka in 1869, and had an act passed by which this right is also secured to them.
Being thus secure in their franchise, the Company then received to make a fourth attempt at reaching coal, and a contract was concluded Nov. 20th, 1868, with S. H. Daddow, of Pennsylvania, to sink the shaft to a dept of 540 feet. This work was begun and progressed with until July, 1869, when the specified depth was attained, and an eight inch vein of coal was reached. These repeated failures shook all confidence in the coal enterprise and an entire abandonment of the search was threatened.
But there were a few resolute spirits, who would not let the work fail, and by their persistent labors a fifth attempt was made to find coal. This time boring from the bottom of the shaft was attempted with a diamond drill. Mr. Daddow again being entrusted with the work. The contract required him to bore 300 feet, but at a depth of 170 feet from the bottom of the shaft, or 710 feet from the surface of the ground, the present vein was reached. Shortly afterward the drill was lost.
The sixth attempt to reach coal proved the hardest task of all. No one had confidence in the enterprise; the people had been fooled too often. Everybody said there was no coal down that immense depth, and he always knew such to be the fact. But the same indomitable will that had ever urged forward this adventurous company, was still active and could not be repressed. The great trouble now, was to raise money enough to sink the shaft down to the coal, the existence of which had already been demonstrated. Capitalists would not take hold; nobody believed in the representations made. Appeal after appeal was put forth, effort after effort exhausted. Private lenders, banks, building associations, and lastly the City Council were importuned to loan money--but all with one accord failed to see it. At last when hope had almost died but, ex-Governor Thomas Carney was induced to endorse the company's note for $12,000, and the note was discounted by Messrs. Hines & Eaves, the bankers.
The expense of sinking the shaft this remaining distance was carefully estimated, and the sun furnished was found to be barely sufficient. But it was determined to make the attempt, and the work was re-commenced January, 1870. By the 22d of March the long sought treasure was reached, and a few fragments of the immense coal seam were brought to the surface to satisfy the minds of our citizens that the money and labor which had been expended in the search had not been altogether thrown away. Our readers will remember the large blocks of smooth, glossy mineral exhibited on the corner of Delaware and Second streets in the spring of '70, and the profound impression they produced. Nothing so successful as success. Everybody now said that coal was there, and he had always known it. There was no trouble after this development to raise money. The work was put into good shape, avenues driven, and all the necessary machinery supplied. By October of 1870, our citizens began to obtain their regular supply of coal from the Leavenworth mine, and the quality of the coal as the opening is extended from the shaft, is found constantly to improve. During the present winter, in consequence of the coal famine which has prevailed through the State, the mining force has been largely increased, (to 120 miners, we believe,) and the hoisting machinery has been kept running steadily day and night. Four thousand bushels per diem is the product of the mine, which large supply is consumed in the city, is used by the engines of the Kansas Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads, and is shipped to Lawrence, Atchison, and other neighboring cities. The immense value of the coal mine to Leavenworth is shown in the fact that while other cities have suffered the hardships of a coal famine this winter, and the supply of coal has been found quite inadequate to the demand, Leavenworth has had an abundant supply of the best fuel at ordinary rates, and this terrible privation has been spared them. The liberality and fairness of the Coal Mining Company are entitled to great credit for this moderation.
We may mention that this Company have resolved to make still another attempt to reach coal during the ensuing summer, there being good grounds for believing that at a further depth of seventy feet there exists a coal seam of four to five feet in thickness. The seam now being worked ranges from twenty to twenty-eight inches.
The newspaper press of Leavenworth is devoted to the advancement of the city interests and advocates manufacturing and commercial progress with untiring spirit and intelligence. The following is a list of the newspapers and other serials published in the city:
The Daily Commercial, morning, (Democratic) daily, tri-weekly and weekly, George F. Prescott, proprietor.
The Daily Times, morning (Republican) daily and weekly, D. R. Anthony, proprietor.
The Daily Call, evening (Independent) daily only, Joseph Clarke &Co., proprietors.
German.--The Freie Press, (Republican) daily and weekly, J. M. Haberlein, proprietor.
The Telegraph, morning (Republican) daily and weekly, F. Braunhold &Co., proprietors.
The Kansas Farmer, (agricultural), semi-monthly, G. T. Anthony, proprietor.
The Medical Herald and Journal of Pharmacy, monthly, Drs. J. W. Brock and T. Sinks, proprietors.
Among the most important movements in our city of the present year has been the organization of the Citizens' Association of Leavenworth. Early in April a number of our most active citizens conceived the idea of forming an association of the merchants, manufacturers and business men of Leavenworth, with a view to extend the manufacturing enterprise of the city, enforce economy in our county and municipal government, and combine the energies of all in promoting the general interest. The idea being communicated to others, a wide-spread interest in its adoption was manifested. A well attended meeting was held in Woolf's hall on the evening of April 27th, to effect an organization. Temporary officers were elected a set of rules and regulations adopted.
A second meeting was held May 2d, when the following officers were elected: President, Hon. Ed. Russell; Vice President, R. N. Hershfield; Treasurer, James Crow; Secretary, Frederic Lockley. A membership book was then present signed their names. Committees in finance, on manufactures, on navigation, on advertising, on excursions, and our street railroads, were appointed, and the time for the holding of regular meetings determined upon. As the inception of the narrow gauge railroad, which promises such important results to Leavenworth, will be of interest to most of our readers, we will briefly narrate the part taken by the Citizens' Association in procuring its successful adoption. At a meeting held June 6th, Mr. James Crow mentioned that he had read an advertisement about a new railroad project, and as some of the gentlemen who had signed it were present, he asked that they be allowed to address the meeting. This called forth Gen. Stone, who said the proposition referred to was not his own, but for the information of the meeting he would mention that it was proposed to build a railroad of three feet gauge from Leavenworth to Denver, with branch roads connecting with every town lying within a given distance of the trunk line. The aid asked of the county was the $250,000 of Kansas Pacific stock. In view of the diminished cost of constructing and operating the narrow gauge road,the present evil of high freights and passage would be avoided. After considerable debate, a committee of seven was appointed to consider the proposition, with instructions to report at the next meeting. On June 17th the committee made their report, in which they favored the project, and expressed the belief that the proposed road, if properly managed and run in the interest of Leavenworth, would be worth more than all the railroads we have at present, from the fact that freights and passengers could be run over a road of that kind for a cost at least one-third less than can be done over a broad gauge road. The local retail trade that could be gained for Leavenworth from the adjoining fifty miles, if passengers could be carried for three cents a mile, would be of more benefit to our citizens than all the stock owned by the county in all the other railroads combined. The report was adopted, and the city papers all united in commending the project. This discussion being noised abroad, delegations from the counties west of here, through which the road was expected to pass, began to arrive in Leavenworth and guarantied upon behalf of the communities they represented liberal aid to the road.
The railroad excitement which then prevailed in our city, when three propositions were before the county board for adoption, and the district court room was daily thronged to hear the various claims presented by the projectors of the different roads, is too fresh in the minds of our readers to need recapitulation.
The action of the Citizens' Association being regarded as almost a derisive in determining the fate of these rival propositions, a railroad committee consisting of G. T. Anthony, George Einstein, E. P. Willson and James A. McGonigle, was appointed by the President of the Citizens' Association to examine into them and report. At a meeting held July 1st, the committee brought in their report, in which they enunciated the following views: That routes chosen should open up, as far as possible, new and unoccupied territory. The longest line with the greatest number of natural feeding branches, should receive first attention. No encouragement should be given to connecting links, or branch roads, unless required to perfect a system centering in this city, or to complete continuous trunk lines passing through it. The greatest possible diversity of interests should be represented in the ownership and management, thereby securing completion and a consequent minimum of rates. As far as possible lines should be laid across the country radiating from a common centre and equidistant from each other. Judged by these rules, the Kansas Central narrow gauge proposition was shown by much urgent argument, to offer the greatest advantage to the city and county and its adoption was, upon these grounds, strongly recommended. Shortly after the other two propositions were withdrawn, and on the election held August 6th, the Kansas Central proposition was adopted by a large majority.
The prevailing influence of the Citizens' Association being thus demonstrated, it was deemed expedient by railroad corporators, as well as by the citizens generally, to have all railroad projects submitted to that organization for their approval, before taking any practical steps towards submitting them to the votes of the people. On Saturday evening, Aug. 19th, at a special meeting of the Association, Mr. A. M. Clark presented a proposition to build a railroad as follows: A three foot gauge, to run from Leavenworth to the Arkansas river, and thence southwest to the Atlantic & Pacific railroad on the Canadian river. The route of be an open question. The aid asked of the county was $300,000 of Cameron stock, and $150,000 of county bonds. The proposition was referred to the Railroad Committee. On the 20th Sept. the committee reported, urging as objections to the adoption of the proposition that the sum asked was too much, that it stipulated for the delivery of bonds before a sufficient length of road was built, and that the route was indeterminate, whereas a single proposed line should be defined. This report being adopted at a crowded meeting, an amended proposition was shortly after submitted, which was also referred to the same committee. The objections urged against this new proposition in the committee's report, were that it provided for the delivery of the bonds before the construction of the road, and that it gave no guaranty of the road being carried beyond Leavenworth county. The committee laid it down as "the clearly defined and determined purpose of this Association and the people to favor no scheme securing less than fifty miles of new and independent road, and the withholding of the subsidy until the completion, equipment and operation of such distance." To exact less than this, they declared, would be to repeat the blunders which had proved so disastrous in the past. The concessions asked of the corporators by the committee, were refused, and when the proposition was voted on, December 4th, it was defeated by an overwhelming vote.
Another important work taken in hand by the Citizens' Association, is the reduction of expenses in the city and county government. In order to take practical action in this matter. Dr. Morris, at a meeting of the Association, held December 6th, moved that a committee of five be appointed to look into our county affairs, with instructions to report at the next meeting what action is necessary to reduce expenses. The Secretary of the Association also moved that a committee of five be appointed to revise the City Charter, with a view to the reduction of the expenses of our city government. As both motions prevailed, the committees were appointed by the President, and on Wednesday, Dec. 20th, a special meeting was called to listen to the reports of these committees. The Committee on City Affairs, in their report recommended the extinguishment of sundry offices (the Police Judge, the Wharf-master, the Fire Marshal, the Street Commissioner, and the City Marshal), and the curtailment of the salaries of the remaining officials. They also recommended reforms in the School Board; payment of city expenses in cash instead of scrip, and the amendment of State-tax laws, so that taxpayers be taxed upon their average amount of personal property, held in their business during the year, and not as now, on what held on the first day of March. With these reforms adopted, the committee expressed the belief that our city taxes would be reduced below those of any neighboring city, and that "capital and industry, instead of being driven from us by reason of high taxes, would, of their own accord, come to dwell amongst us, and the city would start anew on the high road to prosperity." The report being adopted, with some trifling amendments, on motion a committee was appointed to reduce the recommendations into proper form, and when so prepared, our Representatives in the Legislature were to be requested to urge the passage of such recommendations into a law.
The Committee on County affairs presented their report on the Wednesday following, December 27, the substance of which was a series of recommendations to prune down salaries, employ competent officers, appoint an auditor to strictly supervise the use of our public moneys, and thus stop innumerable leaks which our too great laxity has permitted to exist. While the adoption of this report was under discussion i was suggested to equalize our burdens capital should be made to bear its due proportion. That the returns of personal property made to the assessor were fraudulent, and this abuse should first be attended to. A resolution was thereupon adopted to appoint a committee of thirty-five virtuous citizens to thoroughly and exhaustively examine our city and county affairs, and report all irregularities to the Association was recommendations for their removal. It is now considered that the Association is upon a fair way to accomplish much good, and great confidence is placed in its spirit and honesty of purpose.
In concluding our hasty sketch of this very useful Association, we might mention that several excursion parties to the city have been hospitably entertained under its auspices, and that on the occasion of the great Chicago conflagration, munificent aid was promptly sent, by reason of its active efforts, to the sufferers. But its greatest usefulness has been shown in the creation of a concentrated effort to watch over and advance the general interests of the city, and in the substitution of union of sentiment for the former jealousy and dissension which have worked so much injury to the city. With our railroad situation so much improved, our manufacturing industry increased, and our commerce generally enlarged (notwithstanding a season of unusual depression), it is pleasureable to look forward to a future of healthy growth, and to regard the coming greatness of our city as beyond all peradventure.
Below we give a careful statement of the wholesale business of Leavenworth during the year just closing, obtained by diligent inquiry, at the counting rooms of our merchants. As no similar statement has been published in the city for several years, based upon reliable data, we are unable to show by comparative figures, whether the wholesale trade indicates any gain upon or falling off from last year's figures. Our merchants have had serious difficulties to contend with, and several of our safest houses show a reduced return, from the reason that they have made no effort to push business. The west is being rapidly depleted of money, notwithstanding abundant harvests. A protective tariff which arbitrarily enhances many staple articles fifty per cent in cost; high rates of transportation, which derange the standard of values; and that rapid extension of fixed capital, which is unavoidable, where farms have to be opened, railroads extended, streams bridged, and cities built up, necessarily absorb our money faster than we can accumulate it by our one staple industry--agriculture. This condition of things renders collections difficult, and a number of our best merchants, during the past year, have made less effort to do business, for the reason that they were unwilling to accumulate slow accounts upon their books. Then with the general shrinking in values, the margin of profits has a tendency to diminish. New avenues of communication are constantly being opened between our own commercial towns and the trading cities of the east, and to retain a fair proportion of the State trade, increased effort has been necessary. This tends to defeat itself, as the expense of keeping runners out, in many cases exceeds the profits upon the business they gain.
There has been a loss in the clothing trade during the past year, from the death of the late Adolph Cohen, who had long been at the head of an extensive clothing house; and from the withdrawal of the Messrs. Levy Bros, to their main establishment in New York. The business of the late Adolphe Cohen has been [pur-] purchased by Mr. M. Cohen, who is continuing it with great energy; and we understand that Leavenworth's ascendancy in this staple branch is to be maintained by the opening of an extensive clothing house with capital supplied by our own citizens. We also learn from a gentleman who has just returned from Cincinnati, that one the most extensive clothing houses in that city have it in contemplation to send one of their members to Leavenworth to open an establishment for the manufacture and sale of clothing. The operations in this branch show a falling off during the past year, for the reasons above cited, but the field if favorable for the indefinite extension of the business.
The dry goods trade has been active, and no changes have taken place. Messrs. Stettauer &Einstein announce their intention of closing out their extensive dry goods business in this city, and retiring to their main house in Chicago, this winter, a step imposed upon them by their serious losses in the late conflagration. Mr. Einstein had devoted his entire energies to the Leavenworth house, and under his judicious control the business has proved remunerative and progressive, but the serious destruction of goods, amounting to half a million dollars, has compelled them to take in sail, hence they are led to concentrate their operations in Chicago. We understand that negotiations are pending with one or more parties in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, to open branch establishments in this city, and the success which has attended this retiring firm may be accepted as a guaranty that a profitable opening awaits them.
The grocery business fully holds its own. One or two firms report a slight diminution in cash operations, notwithstanding the fact that they have handled more goods. The downward range of values accounts for this apparent anomaly. This trade has received the accession of the extensive house of M. S. Hall &Co., (now P. P. Hall &Co.,) whose large supply business to the gangs employed in building the Kansas Central Railroad, in addition to their regular jobbing business, render this house an important addition to the grocery trade of Leavenworth.
The lumber business has been seriously deranged by the Chicago fire and the immense destruction of timber in the Wisconsin and Michigan forest lands. So immense a wiping out of this staple, with the increased demand occasioned by the necessity of rebuilding, caused an agitation in prices, and Chicago holders for a time became quite impracticable in their demands. But owing to the fact that two of our best lumber houses had ample stocks on hand to meet the business of the season, they determined to take no advantage of the excitement, and hence our local market has been undisturbed by the disaster. Our lumber trade has been reinforced by the addition of Messrs. Chambers Bros. &Co., from Muscatine, Iowa, the product of whose saw mills is made available to our citizens by the recent opening of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad.
The provision business this winter has been irregular. The supply of cattle has been abundant, but dealers have handled them with extreme caution, in consequence of the low prices prevailing in the east. The extensive fired in the western portion of the State, which desolated the finest pasture lands, rendered the support of the immense herds gathered in that country a matter of extreme difficulty. Hence, when the cooler weather arrived, these cattle were hurried into market, and packing operations were crowded into a few weeks.
The pork business is also in an unsettled condition. Operators last year lost heavily, and a considerable stock of mess pork is left over. The supply of hogs this year is unusually large, and hog products corresponding low. These circumstances combine to render the business extremely risky, and operators have been feeling their way along with great caution. A recent advance in prices has induced a better feeling, and all hogs offered in this market are meeting with a ready demand. The year's operations in provisions will probably show a full average.
The grain and milling business has shown great activity this year. The Leavenworth mills have increased their capacity; Messrs. Plummer & North having built one of the finest flouring mills in the west, are running their burrs constantly; and Messrs. Dilworth &Co. and James McGonigle are making cornmeal and hominy with great activity. The Perry Bros. of Weston, whose warehouse on the levee, are also doing an unusually heavy business. These heavy establishments create a large demand for grain, and not only afford a market for all raised in this county, but make extensive purchases of wheat along the lines of the various railroads centering in this city. Hensley, Shelton &Co. have been shipping heavily of their best grades to Boston, and Messrs. Plummer & North have sent numerous consignments to St. Louis. This branch of industry has been largely increased during the year.
There has been a great extension in the fruit business this year owning to the immense apple crop in the Western States. Two enterprising fruit establishments, Messrs. Farrell Bros. and Archie Cribbs, have gone heavily into the packing business, and for three months last fall a daily average of two car loads was sent west to Denver, whence this choice and wholesome fruit was distributed all through the Territories by wagon trains. Messrs. Farrell carried on their packing operations in Weston and Platte City, disbursing thousands of dollars to the Platte county farmers, and Arch. Cribbs bought of the farmers of this county, and packed at his extensive warehouse in Fifth street.
In closing this hasty resume of the business of Leavenworth during the year, we are pleased to find a healthy condition prevailing, notwithstanding the difficulties that beset commerce. Our merchants have preferred to do a safe business, notwithstanding that competition from without was dogging their steps, and in making out their trial balances this year we believe they will find as favorable a showing in proportion to the amount of business transacted as will anywhere be made.
The following table gives the aggregate wholesale operations of the year as furnished by the books of our city merchants:
|Flour and corn meal||$ 900,000|
|Boots and shoes||(no returns)|
|Hats and caps||75,000|
|Wines and liquors||720,000|
|Tobacco and cigars||550,000|
|China and glass||125,000|
|Hides and wool, leather and peltries||810,000|
|Watches and jewelry||570,000|
|Books and stationery||125,000|
|Harness and saddlery||70,000|