Wilson County Kansas
Township Histories

Neodesha Township

The township history material was taken from the Historical Atlas of Wilson County Kansas published in 1881, and submitted by Bill Bentley.

Neodesha Township. - On the 5th of July, 1869, the County Commissioners, on petition of R. S. Futhey and others, created the township of Neodesha. It was made sixteen miles long and six miles wide. The first election (for tp. officers) was held July 20, 1869. Neodesha is said to be an Osage Indian term, used by them to designate the locality as the "meeting of the rivers." In the fall of 1865, a Mr. Baker and two sons took claims across Fall river from McGahey's mil, the old man putting up a cabin. In Feb., 1866, J. L. Kirkpatrick built a cabin on what is now the Nathan Hall place. The Indians soon after burned it. Kirkpatrick returned in the fall, built again, and moved in with his family. Wm. Bentley erected a house below Kirkpatrick the same spring, but did not settle permanently till fall. During that season (1866) N. P. Bentley, Jos. Bentley, G. J. Caven, Wm. White, Chas. Goff, A. Duff, Thos. Rhoades and J. Gilstrap, all laid foundations on Fall river, and in the fall some of them raised cabins. Others took claims also. On the Verdigris, the same year, H. Dejournette, Jerry Ridenour, R. F. Hampton, John Morgan, David Bertsch, Chris. Kemmerer, B. Briles, Ed. Broad and others took claims, most of them settling. John Smith settled on Chetopa creek. In the fall of 1866 men named Conner and Morrison settled at the junction of Verdigris and Fall rivers. In Dec., same year, E. K. Parris and A. Tucker opened a stock of goods in a cabin on Fall river just west of the present town of Neodesha, and continued in business, selling mostly to the Osages, until April, 1867. The territory to which we are referring was all Indian land (the Osage Diminished reserve) and settlers were trespassers. During 1867 about all the first-class claims were taken and a great many cabins put up. In Oct., 1867, A. McCartney and A. K. Phelon, from Neosho Falls, built a large-sized hewed log house at the base of Little Bear mound and established a trading post. The place became known as Neodesha after a while. The junction of the river was a popular rendezvous for the Little Osage tribe - more especially in summer - and the villages of various bands were in the vicinity. In Oct., 1868, R. S. Futhey appeared at the junction of the rivers, and in company with John B. Keys sought for a suitable place for a townsite. They selected the ground where Neodesha city now stands. They gave $500 for the claim. A few days before it had been exchanged for a pony worth probably ten dollars. Claims all around the proposed townsite at once rose in value from comparatively nothing to hundreds of dollars. Subsequently, McCartney and Phelon consented to join Futhey and Keys in the enterprise of starting a town, and it was named after the trading post - Neodesha. On the 12th and 13th days of July, 1869, the townsite was surveyed by Futhey, Keys, McCartney and Phelon, who constituted the town company. In November Futhey and Keys started a saw mill and shingle mill and soon afterward commenced grinding corn. The frame of the first building erected on the townsite was raised the day before Christmas, 1869, for McCartney & Phelon, who moved into it their stock at the trading post, thus opening the first store in town. This building still stands at the north-west corner of Fourth and Main streets. The erection of other buildings now began, soon developing into a rush which was limited only by the inability to obtain lumber. The town company gave lots to all who would build, and during 1870 Neodesha boomed, speedily outstripping every other town on the Osage Trust land or Diminished reserve. On Christmas, 1870, one year after the first building was raised, there were close on to 200 houses in the town, about fifty of which were stores and shops and the remainder dwellings and residences. Two newspapers were among the institutions of the place. The building spirit continued until the midsummer of 1871, when the town had about 1,000 inhabitants. In March, 1871, a charter was obtained for the incorporation of the town as a city of the third class, and April 3, the first city officers were elected, viz: Mayor, A. K. Phelon; Councilmen, T. Blakeslee, Jno. S. Gilmore, W. A. Hampton, S. L. McCuistion, C. W. Derry; Police Judge, E. D. Huntley. No. of votes polled, 167. Neodesha postoffice was established June 13, 1870, A. K. Phelon, P. M. Harmony Lodge, No. 94, A. F. & A. M., was founded Oct. 20, 1870. The Odd Fellows Lodge was instituted early in 1871. Futhey & Keys' flouring mill was completed in the spring of 1871. The city hall and brick school edifice were erected in 1872; also the Congregational church. In the fall of 1870 Jas. A. McHenry taught the first school in town. The first child born in the town was a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Derry, March 5, 1870. She was christened "Neodesha." In the fall of 1871 A. K. Phelon, as Mayor, entered the townsite for and in behalf of the town company. In Dec., 1871, the U. S. Land office was located at Neodesha and opened for business on the 15th, but was closed March 18, 1872, and moved to Independence. The first couple married in Neodesha tp. were Mr. J. B. Keys and Miss Bell John, Oct. 10, 1867. By the U. S. census of 1880 Neodesha city is given 924 inhabitants. About the 1st of Nov. 1879, the St. Louis & San Francisco railroad was completed to the town.

Additional histories included are:

Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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Last updated 12/20/1998

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