Wathena is situated near the mouth of the fertile valley of Peter's Creek, and is distant from St. Joseph, Mo., four miles west, and ten miles east of Troy, the county seat, and about seventy-five miles, northeast from Topeka, the State capital. The Missouri River here makes a great horseshoe bend, coming within about three-quarters of a mile of the town on the south, and one mile in a northeasterly direction, while it is about three miles and one-half to the river in a direct line.
The first occupant of the land on which the town site is now located, was Peter Cadue, with his Kickapoo (Indian) wife, who came at an early date, as interpreter for the Kickapoo tribe of Indians, He remained there until 1847, when he removed to what was known as the "Cadue Reserve," and afterward as Petersburg.
No one appeared on the scene until 1852, when "Wathena" -- chief of a small band of Kickapoos -- built a wigwam, which consisted of a frame-work of poles tied together with hickory bark, and covered with elm bark. It was at that time situated in close proximity to where the steam flouring mill now stands. The original town Site consisted of 160 acres, and was laid off in the spring of 1856, by M. E. Bryan, P. Morse and W. Ritenbaugh. They bought the land of a Mr. Cox, for $750 in gold.
The first dwelling erected on the town site was a log cabin, built some two years before the town was located, by M. E. Bryan.
The first general store was established by Thompson Kemper, early in 1856. The building stood on the present site of the brick store now occupied by F. Breising.
The post office -- first known as Bryan's Post Office -- was established in 1856, with M. E. Bryan, Postmaster.
A. Heed, now a lawyer in Boise City, Idaho, established the first "tavern" in 1856, in a frame building on the site of the present City Hotel.
Two years before the town was located (1856), August Mouirguies, a Frenchman, as his name indicates, built and operated a store in this vicinity.
F. Lebar, established a blacksmith shop early as 1854.
Dr. Smith, located as the first disciple of Esculapius (sic), shortly after the town was located. Dr. Crossfield came soon after.
Sidney Theriet located as the first lawyer in about 1857.
A grist-mill was established about 1864, by Mr. Furgesson and another man, on the site of the present mill owned by Snively & Hedges.
A Sunday school was established by the Baptist persuasion in 1858, Rev. E. Alward, Superintendent. Their first meetings were held in the schoolhouse.
The first railroad in the State, the St. Joseph & Denver City railroad, reached this place in 1860.
The post office at Wathena was made a money order office in October, 1866. Post office money order No. 1 was drawn by W. P. Craig, and issued by Aug. Miller, who was Postmaster at that time.
Prior to 1868, the following additions were made to the original town site: North Wathena, Constantinople, Wilson's Addition, Seaman's Addition, and Smallwood's Addition. The town at that time boasted of upward of 1,400 inhabitants.
Although Wathena has seen many vicissitudes, in common with other towns in the county, it still retains its proportion of trade, being as it is surrounded by a fine agricultural district. It is an undisputed fact that Washington Township has the oldest orchards in the county, and that Wathena ships its quota of fruit of all kinds every year.
There are at present in Wathena, six religious organizations, and two secret societies (a detailed account of which will be found elsewhere). There are also two school buildings, one of which is used by the colored people. The other building is a brick structure erected at a cost of several thousand dollars, and is a credit to a place of three times its size.
Below will be found the business enterprises, both professional and mechanical, established in the place at the present time:
Dry goods stores, four; grocery stores, six; hardware and tin- ware store, one; furniture store, one; billiard halls, three; hotel, one; feed stable, one; millinery and dressmaking establishments, four; tailor shop, one; meat market one; drug stores, two; restaurants, one; barber shop, one; boot and shoe shops, two; wagon and carriage shop, one; blacksmith shop, one; harness shop, one; grist mills, four; paint shop, one; carpenter shop, one; physicians, four; lawyers, two.
ELWOOD.This place, which at one time bid fair to become one of the leading cities of the State, was located in the summer of 1856, by the Roseport Town Company. The original town site consisted of 160 acres -- the northeast quarter of Section 24, Town 3, Range 23. The town was originally called Roseport, in honor of the principal member of the company. This company bought the land of a Mr. Thompson for about $10,000.
The first building on the town site was a log structure, erected by Mr. Thompson, which he used as a dwelling. In the fall of 1856, Mr. Rose erected a small frame building, which was used as a store, in which he kept a general stock. About the next business enterprise was that of A. Disque, who erected the third building on the town site. In the spring of 1857, work on the Great Western Hotel was commenced by the Roseport Town Company, and completed in the fall of the same year, by the Elwood Town Company. The hotel, when completd, was a fine, large three-story building, with seventy-five rooms, and was under the management of S. Webster. The first blacksmith was Henry Poor, who stayed but a short time. He afterwards went to Marysville, this State, and becoming involved in an amorous affair with an officer of the army, then encamped there, killed him. To save himself from the vengeance of the soldiers, he fled the country.
In May or June of 1857, the Elwood Town Company bought out the right, title and interest of the Roseport Town Company, and added to the original town site a tract of 480 acres, which comprised the three remaining quarters of the section, paying for the whole tract of 640 acres $40,000. The name Roseport was changed to Elwood and a post office was established in the spring of 1858, James P. Brace being the first Postmaster.
J. E. Dryden located here in 1857, as the first carpenter. He built the Great Western Hotel and several other buildings, which were erected about that time.
Cook & Selover built the first livery stable, in 1857.
Below will be found some of the business enterprises, trades and prefessions (sic) that were represented in Elwood in 1858.
D. W. Wilder (author of Annals of Kansas) located as the first real estate agent; E. Russell, as an insurance agent; A. L. Lee located as the first lawyer; T. A. Osborn, who held the office of Governor from 1873 to 1879, also located as a lawyer, soon after. The first butcher was Abel Montgomery; Noyes & Smith erected a building and opened a drug store in the spring of 1858; the St. Charles Hotel, a two-story building, was erected in the spring of the same year; Dr. S. D. Smith, from New York State, located as the first physician.
In 1856, a steam saw-mill was built by William H. High, which was operated for a few years. In 1859, W. L. Lewis also built a mill of the same kind.
The St. Joseph and Elwood Ferry was operated by E. Blackiston, in 1855, and was run up to the time of the erection of the bridge.
The Elwood Building Association was incorporated in 1860, by D. W. Wilder, A. L. Lee, Charles H. Hatches.
In the spring of 1858, John Tracy and others organized School District No. 2.
St. Mark's Episcopal Church was built in 1860; Rev. J. E. Ryan officiating rector.
The Congregational denomination held irregular services in a public hall; Rev. Whitney, pastor.
Officers of the Elwood Public School Board, for 1860, were: Trustee, Edward Russell; Clerk, N. Smith; Treasurer, D. B. Jones.
Elwood was incorporated as a city of the third class in 1860. Owing to loss of records, etc., we have been unable to obtain a complete list of city officers from time of incorporation up to present date, but give below a complete list of city officers for the year 1860:
Mayor, George W. Barr; Clerk, Dr. J. W. Robinson; Recorder, Dr. J. W. Richardson; Assessor, William H. High; Attorney, T. A. Osborn; Treasurer, R. S. Sayward; Collector, Charles O. Smith; Councilmen -- William H. High, D. B. Joues, J. H. Hatchen, A. Disque, W. L. Lewis, L. C. Booth, William Luke, W. C. Croff, A. W. Tiel. Police Department -- The police force consisted of a chief or City Marshal and three policemen, the latter of whom were immediately responsible to the Mayor. Marshal, Charles O. Smith. Policemen -- Andrew Neal, Arthur Carroll, Richard Howell.
City officers of Elwood for 1882:
Mayor, A. Porter; Clerk, J. R. Stone; Police Judge, Robert White; Treasurer, A. Carroll; Marshal, Samuel Turner.
Councilmen -- C. R. Jones, E. March, N. Porter, Samuel Henderson, L. Hinman.
Elwood, in 1860, was at the height of its prosperity. We give below a few extracts from New York papers
In regard to the location of Elwood, the New York Daily Times, of December 18, 1860, says: "It lies on the west bank of the Missouri River, on the verge of an extensive, elevated and thickly wooded bottom, which requires no gradings; its streets are broad and rectangular and its levee can be approached with safety by the largest boats, and is sufficiently spacious for an immense commerce."
The New York Tribune, of January, 1859, says: "The rapid growth of Elwood, the principal town of Northern Kansas, is due to its position on the Missouri River, directly opposite St. Joseph, the second city in Missouri. Since 1849, when the overland emigration to California commenced, this point has been an important one, the largest overland emigration to Kansas has been, and still continues to go through St. Joseph and Elwood. The Government trains and the Salt Lake mails have long made this their starting point. It is the only town in Kansas that can be reached by railroad."
Although Elwood at one time claimed upward of two thousand inhabitants, the treacherous bottom land upon which it is situated has been so much washed away, together with its proximity to St. Joseph, that it has gone down to a great extent.
The machine shops of the St. Joseph & Western Railroad are located here.
The school interests are carefully looked after, two teachers being employed.
The Methodist persuation (sic) has an an (sic) organization here. Services are presided over by the Rev. B. F. Bowman.
BELLEMONT.The first settlement of Bellemont (Whitehead) dates back to the spring of 1852, when a trading-post was established by J. and J. R. Whitehead, who erected a small building and used it both for dwelling and store purposes.
In the spring of 1855, a Town Company from Rochester, N. Y., consisting of W. K. Moon and the (three) Penny brothers, as the principal members, bought a tract of land -- 320 acres -- of James and J. R. Whitehead, which comprised the original town site,
Elwood and Wathena being located about this time, there was great rivalry between the "future cities" as to which should gain the ascendency. In order to induce emigration to Bellemont, the town company purchased a steam ferry, which they plied between Bellemont and St. Joseph, Mo., making two trips a day. After running the ferry for about two years, it was discontinued.
Bellemont was the first seat of justice in Doniphan County, appointed by the Legislature upon the organization of the Territory of Kansas in May, 1854. All county business was transacted at this place until 1856. About the middle of September, the Board of County Commissioners ordered their next meeting to be held at Troy, the present county seat, and during the month of October all the public books, records, etc., were removed to Troy. The meetings at Bellemont were held in the building used as a trading-post by Whitehead, James Whitehead acting as Clerk of the court. This building stood on a high, rocky bluff, overlooking the river, about a quarter of a mile above the ferry landing.
During the Pike's Peak emigration, there was not a town in the county which did more business than this, but in 1859 or 1860 it fell into that retrogressive movement, which is sure to follow places of rapid growth that have not the necessary business facilities, and now remains but a mere shadow of its former self.
As a last final effort to save the town from going down, the Bellemont Town Company tried to purchase the improvements of Wathena, which had made considerable progress, and bid fair to eclipse its rival, but all negotiations proved fruitless.
BURR OAK TOWNSHIP.This township received its name from the great quantity of burr- oak timber found within the confines of the township. It was one of the five original townships, and was organized September 1, 1855. Its boundaries were fixed as follows: "Bounded on the north and east by the meanderings of the Missouri River, on the south by the second section line south dividing Townships 2 and 3, and on the west by Iowa and Wolf River Townships."
T. W. Waterson and L. Pritchard were appointed Justices of the Peace, and James Waterson, Constable.
The first election in this township was held on the first Monday in October, 1855, at the house of John W. Smith, in Smithton.
On the 16th day of September, 1856, the County Board caused the boundary of this township to be changed so as to occupy all of the territory lying east of the range line between Ranges 21 and 22, except that part occupied by Wayne Township.
On the 21st day of October, 1856, the County Board redivided the county, forming two new townships -- Marion and Center. The boundaries of Burr Oak Township were changed and fixed as follows: "Commencing at a point one and a half miles south of the town line, dividing Towns 2 and 3 on range line between Ranges 21 and 22; thence north along said line until it strikes what is known as 'Burr Oak Bottoms,' at the foot of the bluff; thence along the foot of the bluff to the Missouri River; thence down the main channel of the river until it strikes the open line one and one-half miles south of the line dividing Towns 2 and 3; thence west to place of beginning."
On the 21st day of June, 1859, a change was made and the present boundary was fixed as follows : "Commencing at the southwest corner of Section 14, Town 2, Range 21, thence down the Missouri River to the southeast corner of Section 1, Town 3, Range 22; thence west to the southwest corner of Section 1, Town 3, Range 21; thence north to northeast corner of Section 23, Town 2, Range 21; thence west to place of beginning."
The surface of the township is very broken, ridges running in a northeast direction. At one time there was a great deal of bottom land, but the Missouri River has gradually cut away such a large portion that at the present time there is scarcely one-half the bottom land left on its west bank.
The township is watered by several small streams. Smith Creek, named in honor of the founder of Smithton, is the principal stream. It heads in the southwest corner of the township, on Section 36, flows in a northeast direction and empties into the Missouri River below where Smithton was formerly located. Well water is obtained at depths from twenty to sixty-five feet.
The first actual settler in the township was John Smith, who came in 1852, and settled near Smithton, before the country was opened for settlement. In 1855, he laid out the town of Smithton, and organized the first Masonic Lodge in the State. Among those who came shortly after were James Craft and A. McChesney.
After the country was opened for settlement in 1854, the following persons arrived and took up claims: B. H. Brock, C. H. Rodgers, the Tribble Brothers, T. Baker, S. Calvin, T. W. Watterson, McCullough and others. The people came in rapidly and settled mostly on the bottom lands.
The first marriage in the township was in the spring of 1854, the contracting parties being a Mr. Viles and a daughter of William Clenons. The ceremony was performed in what was then known as Boston, by the Rev. Dr. Landers, from St. Joseph, Mo.
The population increased so rapidly that it has been impossible to obtain facts regarding the first birth in the township, but among the first was Mary, a daughter of Henry Moore, some time in 1855.
In the spring of 1854, Joseph G. Rodgers located in the township and built a cabin, preparatory to making his home there. In June of the same year, he was taken sick with a fever, and not getting better, was removed to Boston, where he died in a few weeks. This was about the first death of which any record can be found.
The first religious services in the township were held in the spring of 1855, by Rev. Davis, of Andrew County, Mo., who represented the Southern Methodist Church. He preached at various places throughout the township, in open air, there being no buildings large enough in which to hold services at that time. In the fall of the same year, he held an old-fashioned camp meeting in a grove on the "Boston Bottoms." Rev. Birch, of the Northern Methodist Episcopal Church, held services in Columbus and other points about that time.
In the spring of 1857, Dr. John Lewis taught a subscription school at what was then known as Columbus, in a small frame building erected by the Methodist denomination. Another school was taught about the same time by Mrs. John Lewis, one-half mile below Smithton.
The first school district was organized under the administration of C. C. Camp, County Superintendent, at Columbus, and was taught by M. T. Kincaid, who drew the first public money for school purposes in the township.
Dr. Wm. B. Sharp located as the first physician, in the spring of 1855, at Columbus.
A steam saw-mill was built in the "Burr Oak Bottoms," three miles northwest of Columbus, in the fall of 1856, by Chas. B. Hamilton. In the fall of 1857, he bought a new mill and located it at Charleston, in Center Township. The mill continued to be operated for several years.
Robert Hayes built the first steam grist-mill in June, 1856, at Columbus. The capacity of the mill was small -- one set of burrs -- but sufficient for all the work necessary at that time. He also operated a saw-mill in connection with it. The mills were operated until the close of the war, when they were moved to Missouri.
Probably the first sorghum manufactured in this township, or in the county, was made in the fall of 1858, by B. H. Brock and J. B. Weihman.
In 1855, a post office was established at Smithton, ---- Barnett as Postmaster. Previous to that time the settlers obtained their mail at Boston, Mo.
In April, 1867, occurred the first overflow of the Missouri River, it causing a great amount of damage.
The principal products of the township are corn and wheat; fruit of all kinds is also largely raised. This is considered the best timbered township in the county, without any exception, the principal varieties being burr oak, walnut and cottonwood.
COLUMBUS.Columbus, long since defunct, was located by a town company, H. Hays, President, May, 1857. The company purchased the land for the town site, of H. Wilson, there being about 320 acres. The town received its name at the instance of T. H. McCullough, who named it after his son, Columbus.
H. Wilson erected the flrst building on the town site, before the town was laid off -- 1855. Soon after, he built a wagon shop, and after the town was located, used it as a warehouse.
In the spring of 1857, P. Burke established the first general store.
In the spring of 1858, a post office was established at this point, with H. Wilson as first Postmaster.
In 1858, a comparatively large cabipnet shop was built. D. Barnam located the first blacksmith shop.
Dr. J. T. Lewis, of the eclectic school, located in 1857, as the first physician.
In 1858, the place had a population of about 200 souls, and had attained the height of its prosperity, but at the beginning of the late rebellion the place gradually began to go down until there is nothing to mark the spot where there was once a thriving town.
MARION TOWNSHIP.This township received its name from Gen. Francis Marion, of Revolutionary fame. It was organized on the 21st day of October, 1856, and its boundaries fixed as follows : Commencing at the southwest corner of Washington Township, as then established, thence south on range line, between Ranges 21 and 22, to the Missouri River; thence up the said river to the south line of Washington Township; thence west along said line to place of beginning.
E. King was the first Constable and F. M. Mahan the first Justice of the Peace appointed.
The first election in this township was held on the third Monday in June, 1857, at the Palermo Hotel, in the city of Palermo.
On the 21st of June, 1859, a change was made and the present boundaries fixed as follows: Commencing at the northwest corner of Section 36, Town 3, Range 21; thence east three miles, thence south to the Missouri River; thence south with said river to the southwest corner of Section 24, Town 4, Range 21; thence north one mile; thence west one mile; thence north to place of beginning.
Marion Township is the smallest township in the county, and contains about sixteen square miles (fractional), or 10,240 acres (fractional).
The surface of the township is exceedingly rough, after leaving the Missouri River "Bottom. " This bottom land along the river is very rich and is from one-half to one mile in width.
The township is well watered by the following streams: Walnut Creek, heads in the center of the township, flows east and empties into the Missouri River at Palermo; Cadue's Creek heads from numerous springs, flows south, and empties into the Missouri River, on George Sanders' place; Buffalo Creek heads in the northwestern part of the township, flows southwest and empties into the Missouri River; Brush Creek heads in the northwestern part of the township, flows south and empties into the Missouri River in Wayne Township.
The early history of this township is very meager. Peter Cadue was probably the first white man that located in the township, or in this part of the county. He came as an Indian interpreter to the Kickapoo tribe some time in 1848-49, and settled a few miles north of Geary City. In a treaty with the Indians, among other considerations, Cadue was given a tract of land not exceeding 640 acres, to be located at any point on the "reserve." He located his grant as follows : The northwest quarter of the northwest quarter and the south half of the northwest quarter and the south half of Section 19, Town 4, Range 22, and the north half of the northeast and the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 30, Town 4, Range 22; also the east half of the northwest quarter of Section 29, Town 4, Range 22; also a part of the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 30, Town 4, Range 22. Mr. Cadue, after trying to establish a town on his land, which he called Petersburg, left for Brown County, where he met his death by falling from his horse, a few years later.
The following are those who settled and took up claims in 1854- 55: Joseph Randolph, D. White, I. Fay, S. Anderson, William Fagg, Robert Myers, John Hays, D. Smith, William Chaplin, N. Homes, W. Mowery and others.
Neither records nor tradition show anything in regard to the first marriage in the township.
About the first birth in the township was that of Emma, a daughter of William Chapman, in the fall of 1855. Mr. Chapman was then living on the southeast quarter of Section 17, Town 4, Range 22, but said quarter has since been claimed and gathered in as its own, by the Missouri River.
One of the first deaths in the township was that of a Mr. Gains, who died some time in 1854, in a little log house located on W. Deckard's place. His remains were taken to Missouri for interment.
In the spring of 1857, an inquest was held over the body of a German -- name unknown -- by Robert Krinber, then a Justice of the Peace. The body was found on Mr. Leaver's place. Not being able to find any serious indications as to how the man came to his death, the jury rendered the verdict, "Death from exposure, brought on by disease of the throat."
The first school taught was at the residence of S. Anderson, in the spring of 1855, by Frank Kean. The school was continued but a short time -- only about six weeks.
A subscription school was taught by Miss Sarah White, in 1856, in a little log schoolhouse 16x18 feet, built by the neighborhood.
Religious services were held shortly afterward at the same place by Rev. B. F. Bowman, of the Methodist denomination.
The principal products of the township are wheat, corn, oats and other small grains. It is said that the soil is too rich to raise fruit to any great extent. The average yield of wheat on the Missouri River bottoms is from twenty to twenty-five bushels per acre. High as thirty-six and one-half bushels per acre have been raised.
PALERMOPalermo is one of those many towns that were located on the Missouri River in the early days. In 1856, a town company was organized, with William Palmer, President, and J. Stiarwalt, Secretary. The company was incorporated under the laws of the Territory during the same year. The town received its name from the capital of a small province in Sicily.
Messrs. Mahon & Kimber established the first store, but did not continue long in the business. They also had a steam grist-mill on Main street, built at a cost of about $7,000. The mill was operated until 1865, when it was torn down and the machinery sent to St. Joseph.
The first residence was built by William J. Palmer, a son of the President of the town company, the building now being occupied by N. Harrington.
A steam saw-mill was put in operation at an early day by P. P. Livermore, but was run only a short time.
Miller & Setzler opened the first drug store in 1856.
Charles White erected a building in 1857, and put in a stock of hardware.
A blacksmith shop was started in the fall of 1856.
The post office was established in 1856, with Frank Mahan as Postmaster.
Dr. Beaumont came in 1856, with the town company, and located as the first physician. Dr. Hastings located in Palermo in March, 1857.
The profession of law was first represented by Rush Martin in 1856.
Like many other river towns, Palermo depended on the steamboat traffic, which at that time was enormous, for its maintenance. But as the country became settled up, the locomotive took the place of the river boat, and soon Palermo realized the fact that it was going down. The St. Joseph & Topeka Railroad, built from Doniphan to Wathena, reached the place in 1870, and revived the hopes of those interested in the place. The road was run but about two years, and the place commenced again its retrogressive movement, but still retains its proportion of trade. One grist-mill, one general store and a black-smith shop constitute the business enterprises of the place at present.