Wilson County Kansas
Township Histories

Verdigris Township

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

Verdigris Township. - When this township was organized the records do not show. It was the home of the first settlers of the county and the scene of most of our early history. G. J. Caven, Wm. M. Caven and Henry H. Opdyke were the first persons to make actual settlement in what is now Wilson county. They entered the county April 28th, 1857, took claims on the Verdigris above Coyville, settled and built cabins at once. G. J. Caven still lives in the county. Early in May of the same year N. S. Pigg came from Iowa, took a claim on the west side of the Verdigris, and settled. Gaston Reeves and his son Max took claims in the spring of 1857 and did some breaking that summer, but did not move in until fall. John Ross took a claim in the summer and settled on it in the fall. He was a hunter and trapper and is well remembered by the few old settlers. In 1861, while on a trapping expedition on the Arkansas, he was killed by Indians in what is now Sedgwick county. W. W. Wolverton and Jacob Miller were among those who made claims in the summer and moved on in the fall. John Hancock, Sr. and John Hancock, Jr., settled in the summer or fall. John Hancock, Sr., has been a County Commissioner and is still a citizen of Verdigris tp. Rev. Wallace, a Presbyterian minister, took a claim (afterwards the Burrous place and site of Colfax) in the summer of '57 and moved on with his family in the fall. Frank S. Sellers, John Morgan, D. N. Caven, Joseph Bentley and his son N. P. Bentley, Mr. Foreman and three Germans, all moved in, in fall of 1857, took claims and located. Sellers' place was at the mouth of the Sandy. The Germans built houses near the mouth of the Sandy but did not remain long. P. B. Sweet settled two miles below Sandy in Dec. '57. Sweet taught the first school in the county, in 1859. Ella Reeves, daughter of Gaston Reeves, born in the fall of 1857, was the first white child born in the county. Rev. Wallace preached the first sermon delivered in the county, in the spring of 1858, at the house of M. H. Sprague. The first marriage in the county united Abijah Hampton and a Miss Cooper, in the spring of 1859, at the house of P. B. Sweet. Thos. Sylvester and Jas. and Wm. Ross took claims and settled in 1858. The latter's claim is now the Wiley Campbell farm. Anderson Jones took the claim where the town of Coyville stands, early in 1858, but afterwards relinquished it in favor of his son-in-law, Jas. Ross. George Burrous this year settled on a place abandoned by Rev. Wallace. The settlers began to go farther down the Verdigris, on both sides. In 1859, John Shaffer, Windsor Craig, Lawrence Clinesmith, Wm. Michaels, Warren Greathouse, Ned Williams, Jacob and Wm. Shoop, Daniel Bean and many others took claims, all settling below Coyville, Doubtless a few came in in 1857-8 who are not mentioned here. In 1859 the influx to this vicinity was so strong that most of the choice land in the bottoms was settled on or claimed. Albert Hagen, a Polish Jew, opened a store near the site of Coyville in 1859. It was the first store kept in the county. His principal trade was with the Osage Indians. He became wealthy, and was finally murdered for his money in the Cherokee Nation, Jan. 7th, 1860, T. B. Woodard organized the first M. E. Church in the county, at the house of Rachel Conner. The first blacksmith shop in the county was put up by F. S. Sellers and one of the Caven brothers on the former's place in 1860 or 1861. John Hancock, Sr., brought the first mowing machine into the county in 1861. In 1864 Oscar Coy moved into the county and he and P. P. Steel bought out Albert Hagen's store and increased the stock. It was then called Coy & Steel's store, but afterwards became Coyville. May 2d, 1866, a postoffice was established at Coyville and Oscar Coy appointed postmaster. Coyville Lodge, No. 57, A. F. & A. M., the first in the county, was started in 1867. In April, 1865, Robt. S. Futhey bought the George Burrous place about a mile below Coyville and settled thereon. In August he started a saw mill, the first one in the county or on the Osage Trust Lands. In December he began grinding corn, and in the fall of 1866 had a flouring mill in successful operation. Quite a village had sprung up at Futhey's mill, and the place was named Colfax. In Oct. 1868, Colfax was the most pretentious burg in the county, having, besides the mills, a blacksmith shop, wagon shop, hotel, drug store, two physicians and other residents. Various events and matters of historical interest that occurred in or appertain to Verdigris tp. are noted elsewhere.

Additional histories included are:

Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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Last updated 12/20/1998

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