Scraps of Local History Picked Up Here and There

by George J. Remsburg

This year marks the centennial anniversaries of the first incorporation (sic) of two of Leavenworths' good neighbors--Weston and Platte City. Weston was incorporated January 11, and Platte City, April 9, 1842, by the county court of Platte County. The trustees for Weston were George Beeler, Abel Gilbert, John Thornburg, T. F. Warner and Jerry Wood. For Platte City they were N. Burrows, W. E. Black, W. P. Dougherty, D. S. Irwin and Mark McCausland. In February of the next year, Weston was incorporated by statute. In 1851 it was granted a new charter by the legislature. In 1892 it became a city of the fourth class. Platte City was incorporated by the statute on September 7, 1843. It was incorporated by the legislature January 24, 1845, and granted a new charter February 3, 1853. It was organized as a city of the fourth class, February 1, 1882.

In 1837, Joseph Moore, a retired soldier from Fort Leavenworth settled on the site of Weston and laid off a townsite, but he proved to be a poor manager and the place made no progress, until Gen. Bela M. Hughes took hold of the project the next year and it soon grew into a lively town. Platte City was laid off in 1839, and the first sale of town lots occurred February 3, 1840.


"Prince of Landlords."

January 3 was the 129th anniversary of the birth of H. D. McMeekin, one of the most prominent of Leavenworth pioneers. He was a Kentuckian by birth and came to Kansas in 1850, four years before the Territory was opened for settlement, as a trader among the Pottawatomie Indians. In 1854, as soon as the Territory was opened, he settled on a claim in Leavenworth county. In 1855 he moved into the city of Leavenworth and built the fourth house on the townsite. In that year he became a member of the first Territorial Legislature. In 1856-57, while the Kansas-Missouri Border was at its height he was Deputy United States Marshal under Marshal I. B. Donalson. He also served four years as Deputy Sheriff of Leavenworth county. In 1864, in partnership with James M. Karr, he contracted with the government to furnish beef for Kansas and Colorado forts. From 1868 to 1873 he was employed as a clerk by Hensley, Russell & Co., wholesale grocers of Leavenworth, and later by M. Hageman & Co., of the same city. He operated hotels in Leavenworth, Topeka, Wamego and other places and was referred to as the "Prince of Kansas Landlords."


Two Round Prairies.

Round Prairie, a well-known rural community on the county line between Leavenworth and Atchison counties, is not the only one of that name in the state. According to Irene G. Stone, in her paper on the "Lead and Zinc Fields of Kansas," in volume VII of "Kansas Historical Collections," there is a Round Prairie in Cherokee County. It as a tract, she says, extending about a mile and a half north and south, and a mile and a quarter east and west, and was so named because of its peculiar situation, being surrounded on all sided by hills enclosing a round prairie.

The Leavenworth-Atchison County Round Prairie originally was approximately the same size as that of Cherokee County. The late "Uncle Joe" Potter, who was one of the first settlers in that vicinity, informed the writer that the original patch of prairie land was named Round Prairie from the fact that having been surrounded by a circuitous fringe of timber, it had the appearance of being round.


Kickapoo Post office.

Andreas' "History of Kansas," which was published 60 years ago, when pioneer historical data was still fresh in the minds of those who make and recorded history, says that the post office at Kickapoo was established in January, 1855, with T. D. Armondas postmaster. It further states that the mails were taken across the river from Weston, and Kickapoo city, as it was then called, was, for some time, quite a distributing point for the postal service. Everett Jerome Dallas, who for years, held high office in the postal service in Washington, in a paper entitled "Early Day Post offices in Kansas," written for the Kansas State Historical Society, says that the Kickapoo City post office was established January 24, 1855, with Thomas d. Armond as postmaster, thus corroborating Andreas. It is obvious that Dallas, in view of his long association with the Post office Department, secured his information from the official records in Washington. However, I have a letter from Arch Coleman, former first assistant postmaster general, in response to inquiries regarding early Leavenworth County post offices, in which he says that the Kickapoo City post office was established February 3, 1857, with John W. Solomon as postmaster, and that the office was discontinued August 31, 1920. There must be some mistake in this data, insofar as the date of establishment is concerned, for it does not stand to reason that Kickapoo, which was one of the earliest towns laid out in Kansas Territory, along with Leavenworth, Atchison, Lawrence, Topeka, Doniphan, and others, all of which were started in 1854, soon after the territory was opened for settlement, and which had post offices as early as 1855, should not have had a post office equally as early. It is possible that Coleman may have made a mistake in copying the data from the records. All other sources of information that I recall having seen, give the date of the establishment of the Kickapoo post office as 1855, and no other authority mentions John w. Solomon as the first postmaster.

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