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The old courthouse
The county seat of Neosho County, is situated in the valley of the Neosha (sic) River and about a mile northeast therefrom. The location is an excellent one for the building up of a town. Originally a town called Erie, now referred to as "Old Erie," was started two miles northwest of the present town site, and two miles southeast another town was started named Crawfordsville. The proprietors of the two towns made a compromise with each other, agreed to abandon both places and selected the present townsite for the new location. This was in 1866. In November of that year the Erie Town Company was formed consisting of D. W. Bray, Luther Packet, Peter Walters, and J. F. Hemilwright. Each member of this company donated forty acres of land in the center of Section 32, Township 28, Range 20 east. The following parties were then admitted to membership: A. H. Roe, J. A. Wells, John C. Carpenter, L. R. Nugent, A. F. Neeley, C. B. Kennedy, Stephen Beck, H. H. Roe, Joel Barnhart, J. L. Dennison, S. L. Coulter and T. T. Gilbert. The first house built on the town site was a log one by the widow Spivey, in 1866. The first store was built in 1867, by Drs. Kennedy & Neeley and John C. Carpenter. It is still standing where erected, on the corner of Fourth and Main Streets. The first family residence was erected this same year, by V. Stillwell, who also soon afterwards built the first livery stable. The first hotel was built by J. A. Wells. It was completed December 31, 1867, and is still occupied by its builder for its original purpose. The first blacksmith shop was built in 1868, by John Graham, and the same year a law office was opened by Carpenter & Porter. The first birth in the town was that of Byron C. Wells, son of J. A. and Matilda Wells, July 4, 1868. The first teacher in the town was John Broadbent, who in the winter of 1867-8, taught a school in the little loghouse built by the widow Spivey though a subscription school had been taught elsewhere in the township in the summer of 1866, by John A. Weston, and Miss Roe. The first Protestant sermon in Erie Township, was preached in September, 1865, by Elder Isaac Hoagland.
A postoffice was established six and one-half miles northwest of Osage Mission, April 6, 1866, with A. H. Roe as Postmaster. It was moved to Erie, August 20, 1867. On the first of January, 1868, Mr. Roe resigned and Charles Trenchard was appointed in his stead. On the first of July Isaac M. Fletcher was appointed, and on July 1, 1869 the postoffice was made a money order office. A flouring and saw mill was located on the town site by J. W. Stewart & Sons, in 1868. The machinery used in it was afterwards removed one mile south and became a part of the machinery of the present water mill, on the Neosho River. J. W. Stewart & Sons afterwards sold this mill to A. H. Bruner & Co., its present proprietors. It is a one and a half story building with three run of buhrs.
In the year 1867, a saw mill was located on-half mile southwest of town, by Barnhart Bros. & H. H. Roe. In 1869, this mill was improved to a two run flouring mill, and removed in 1873, by Barnhart Bros., to Thayer.
The town of Erie was organized by a decree of the probate Court December 25, 1869, with J. A. Wells, G. W. Dale, John McCullough, Isaac M. Fletcher and Douglas Putnam as trustees. On the 30th of the same month the trustees met, and declared the town a city of the third class. Thereupon J. A. Wells was elected Mayor of the city, and proceeded to appoint the officers necessary to put the city government into operation. At this time a census of the city was taken, and the population found to be, according to the returns, eight hundred and nine.
It is probable the city never contained a much larger number of inhabitants than this, but it has been estimated to have contained 1,200 within a year or two after this census was take. At all events, its progress was suddenly and effectually checked in 1872 by a fire, which swept away the best business blocks and business part of the town. The total loss by this conflagration was estimated at $15,000, and there was no insurance. In July, 1873, a destructive cyclone swept through the county. About fifteen houses were blown down in Erie, and a loss inflicted of $5,000. Eleven persons were severely wounded, but no one killed in Erie. One woman and two children were killed by this same cyclone in Shiloh Township, and two other persons were killed in the southeast part of the county near Trotter's Ford.
Besides having suffered from these two visitations of Providence, Erie has so far labored under the great disadvantage of having no railroad. An east and west railroad through the county, passing through Erie, would enhance her prosperity and her prospects very largely. Then it may be said that her success in the struggle for the county seat has militated very materially against her. School district No. 5, of which Erie forms a part, in the year 1870, bonded itself to the amount of $12,000 in order to build a fine, large schoolhouse, with the view of establishing there a school of highgrade. The schoolhouse, a three-story stone structure, with mansard roof, was erected, and during the contest for the county seat, the whole school district partaking of the enthusiasm of the town, donated the building to the county for a courthouse, and now has to pay principal and interest on the bonds, a sum which will amount to upwards of $40,000 in the aggregate before the debt is fully extinguished. The main consolations are that the debt was self-imposed, the consciousness of victory and the prestige of being the county seat; while the disadvantages are the debt itself, and the want of the high school, the establishment of which was prevented by the giving away of the building designed for its use.
The city contains two general stores, two blacksmith shops, one drug store, two hotels, one newspaper office, two churches, and a population of about 300.
SOCIETIES, CHURCHES AND THE PRESS.
Erie Lodge No. 76, A., F. & A. M. - Was instituted, January 1, 1869, with fourteen members. The first officers were: James L. Denison, W. M.; J. W. Stewart, S. W.; E. H. Marsh, J. W.; L. Stillwell, Sec.; John C. Carpenter, Treas.; and J. A. Wells, S. D. The present membership of the lodge is thirty.
Erie Lodge No. 44, I. O. O. F. - Was instituted, April 9, 1869, with nine members. Each member was an officer, as follows: John Smith, N. G.; Wm. H. Stewart, V. G.; S. M. French, Rec. S.; Irwin Smith, Treas.; J. W. Stewart, warden; A. P. McDonald, O. G.; W. T. Weeks, R. S. N. G.; M. A. Patterson, L. S. N. G.; J. W. Pittsford, R. S. V. G. The present membership of the order is twenty-two.
Erie Lodge No. 2017 K. of H. - Was instituted, January 31, 1880, with twelve members. The principal officers were the following: Henry Lodge, P. D.; M. Wallace, D.; John Berry, V. D.; W. P. Oliver, A. D., and J. W. Alfred, Medical Examiner. The present membership of the lodge is thirty-eight.
The Methodist Church - Was organized in the spring of 1868, with fifteen members, by Rev. T. Palmer, who was the first regular preacher. Previous to that time there had been occasional preaching by Revs. Jacob Davis ---, and J. W. Stewart. The first presiding elder of this circuit was Rev. J. D. Knox, appointed in the spring of 1868. The society held religious services in different private houses, until sometime during the summer, when, the schoolhouse being by this time completed, they occupied it until 1872, when they purchased the church building which was at that time in process of erection and nearly completed by the "Christians." The church property is now worth about $1,200, and the society has a membership of fifty. The present pastor is Rev. S. P. Cullison. A Sunday school was organized in 1869, which until 1878, held sessions during only about six months each year. Since that time the sessions have been held the year round.
The Christian Church - Was organized by C. F. Stauber at his house, in the spring of 1869. Occasional religious services had been conducted previously by George Booth, a farmer, and Dr. Jones, at first in the log house of the widow Spivey. At the time the regular organization was effected, it was upon the request of the widow Spivey and eight other women, who personally urged the matter upon Mr. Stauber, and prevailed upon him not only to organize the society, but also to preach for them. Thus Mr. Stauber was the first regular preacher, conducting the services in his own house until the fall, when the society, becoming stronger, engaged Elder M. J. Jenkins, and held services in the school house. Elder Jenkins continued with the church regularly about three years, when he moved to Missouri, preaching occasionally for the church at Erie, until 1875. The society commenced the erection of a church in the year 1872, but on account of the building of the railroads in the eastern and western parts of the county, the members mostly moved away to railroad towns, leaving Mr. Stauber practically alone, and to save the building from going to ruin, he sold it to the Methodists in 1874. They completed, seated and painted it, and now have a small, but very neat church. The Christian society was organized with fourteen members, increased to thirty, and finally decreased to none.
The Baptist Church - Was organized in 1869, with seven members, by Elder A. C. Bateman, who was chosen pastor. Previous to organization, a few sermons had been preached by Elder Bateman, at the house of E. F. Williams, who was made deacon at the time of organization. Elder Bateman has been succeeded by Elders Hitchcock, John Post, J. A. Trenchard, Reed and I. N. Niman. After organization the services were held at the Erie Schoolhouse, until the erection, in 1871, of the present frame church building, which cost $1,500.
The Neosho county Record - Was established in Erie, by George W. McMillin, April 21, 1876. The material used had formerly been a part of the office of the Thayer Headlight, the name Headlight being continued at Erie until May 5, 1876 when the name Record was substituted. At the time the paper was removed to Erie, it was a five column folio, but it was changed to a seven column folio, November 24, 1876, which size it still retains. Mr. McMillin sold it to its present proprietor, February 8, 1879. The paper is Republican in politics, and is devoted mainly to local news.
JOSEPH M. BARNEY, farmer, Section 7, P. O. Erie, native of Rhode Island; born in 1832. He moved from there to Illinois in 1844, whither his father had preceded him in 1842; here he went into the mercantile business, and in 1853 he went to farming. In 1866 he came West to Kansas with Mr. Knox; selected their land, and in 1867 came on in an emigrant train, consisting of eight wagons, belonging to Finch J. White, Knox, Dr. Evans, Charles Green and himself. Br. Barney located on Section 7, buying his claim of Jesse Sink. He brought $2,000 with him; in two years this was gone; provisions were high, and in 1867 they had no crop; but in 1868 he raised a fine crop of wheat, supplying his family and having some to se.. He then did well until 1874, when his corn failed, leaving him with a large number of hogs and nothing to feed them on. 1875 looked bad, but he never lost his confidence in Kansas. This year he bought Wycoff Platt's crop of corn and potatoes, while the grass hoppers were eating them up; but that fall harvested 1,200 bushels of corn and fifty bushels of potatoes. He gave Mr. Platt a colt for the crop. In 1882 he raised fine crops of corn, wheat, oats and flax. He owns now 312 acres, and cultivates 150; the rest is in pasture and meadow. He has fine meadows of tame grasses. In 1856 Mr. Barney married Miss Farwell. They had seven children, two deceased. He has been Township Treasurer, this was in 1874, and has been a school official continually.
W. T. DUTTON, hardware, is a native of Marion County, Del., born in 1841. He afterwards moved to Ohio, but was raised in Wabash County, Ind., where the family had located afterward. Here he remained till the time of his moving West, engaged at different employments. On starting for Kansas they had some machinery, and on reaching Kansas City, sent their goods by wagon to Erie, Neosho County, arriving on the 30th of March, 1869, where he and his brother established a furniture factory, and carried on undertaking in connection with it. At this time Erie was the most prosperous, and as soon as it was incorporated, Mr. Dutton was made Marshal. In 1874 he sold out his furniture business and gave his attention to the public. He had been appointed Constable, and afterwards elected, serving three terms. He was also Justice of the Peace in 1874, serving as City Clerk, and January 8, 1876, was Police Judge; from 1872 to '80 he was Coroner. In 1878 he established his present business, dealing in hardware and implements, doing his best trade this year of 1882, his sales amounting to about ten thousand dollars. Mr. Dutton married in Indiana, and has four children, two boys and two girls. He describes the country, in 1869, as full of Indians and frontier incidents. He is a member of the I. O. O. F.
J. N. ELLIS, farmer, section 2, P. O. Chanute, is a native of Kentucky, born in 1813. He moved to Indiana in 1832, where he lived until 1864, then going to Illinois, and being a stone mason by trade, he worked at that and farmed. In 1865 he came to Kansas from Cumberland County, Ill., in an emigrant train that numbered fifty-one persons. He settled on Pecan Creek, where he now lives, taking 160 acres and built his cabin. This was before the land was surveyed, and there was a village of 900 Osage Indians encamped near by on the Canville Creek, who left in 1866. Mr. Ellis and sons then, with pioneer courage, proceeded to break up the prairie sod, that has since, through drouth or flood, yielded sufficient to feed them and their stock. Among the good crops was that of 1868, when he sold 500 bushels of wheat for $2 a bushel, and 1875 and 1882. In 1836 he married Miss Scott. They had four boys and four girls. These children are now doing for themselves, and Mr. and Mrs. Ellis live together with a granddaughter. His son, J. W., is now on a farm adjoining, in the stock business. They are members of the Christian Church, which is a strong organization, having forty-seven members.
JACOB HUNT, teacher; native of Indiana; born in 1859. He entered the profession as teacher in 1881, and is now teaching in School District No. 7. He married Miss Barney in 1882, who is also a teacher; commenced teaching in 1881, now holding a position in the town school of Erie. Her father is one of the early settlers of this section, locating on Canville Creek in 1868, where he has since resided.
J. J. HURT, Clerk of the District Court; elected in 1882, on the Republican ticket. He is a native of Clinton County, Ky., born in 1854. The family moved to Missouri first, and then to Kansas, locating in Chanute, December 20, 1869, going into commercial business. In 1882 he graduated at Baker's University and is now reading law.
D. LEATHERMAN, farmer, Section 2, P. O. Chanute; native of Indiana; born in 1823. When nine years of age his parents moved to Chicago, Ill., or near there, where they lived till 1849, when he moved to Iroquois County, and was there till 1867, when he was entirely broke up by securing a friend's note who was killed in the war. So he came to Kansas and took a claim of 160 acres. At that time nothing but an Indian trail led to his cabin. His family arrived on the 28th of June, and settled down to stay. With four boys, who soon were able to help, they took hold of the plow, and have carved from the wilderness a home. He commenced by trading his horses for two yoke of cattle. Having bought a breaking plow in Kansas City, he broke twenty-five acres, which, with ten acres of old ground, raised enough to feed them and their stock. In 1868 he sowed wheat in October that did not come up till December, yet in 1869 yielded thirty bushels to an acre. This was the best yield he has had. In 1882 his corn averaged on the bottom land seventy-five bushels to an acre. He raised also flax and millet. In 1847 Mr. Leatherman married Miss Gool. She died in 1864, leaving six children. He married Miss Moore in 1865; they have two children. Mr. L. belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church. He has under cultivation 100 acres, the rest is in pasture and meadow.
C. M. LIGHT, County Superintendent of Public Instruction; elected in 1880. Mr. Light is a native of Indiana, born in 1852, and came to Kansas in 1869.In 1875 he graduated from the Normal College of Emporia, and commenced teaching, following the profession until his election to office in 1880, filling the duties so well that he was re-elected in 1882.
HENRY LODGE, of the firm of Lodge, Bros., general merchants. Native of Ohio, but was raised in Indiana. He there finished his education in the Asbury College, taking the scientific course, graduating in the class of '56. He then engaged in different lines of business till he went into the Army of the Cumberland, enlisting in the Fourteenth Indiana Cavalry, where he was commissioned First Lieutenant of Company F. He served till the fall of Nashville, then leaving on account of his health, and in 1870 came to Kansas, establishing their business in the winter of 1871, commencing with a small stock, and now carrying $3,500, and doing a business of $20,000 a year. This year is the best they have had since starting in business. The grasshopper years of 1874 and '75 they lost over $1,800 in bad debts. Mr. Lodge has just retired from the office of County Commissioner, which he held for nine years, and by his management has placed the county credit in as good shape as is that of any county in the State. Mr. Lodge is a charter member of the Knights of Honor.
A. H. ROE, farmer, Pl O. Erie, native of Indiana, born in 1842. He was raised and educated in Michigan, and then moved to Iowa, where he served during the war of the Rebellion in the Thirteenth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, Company A. In 1865, he came Kansas (sic) locating in Neosho County. Here he built and opened the first business house in what is now known as Old Erie, and was appointed the first Postmaster, taking J. L. Dennison as partner. When the county seat was laid out, he moved his business there and Mr. Dennison having sold his interest, the firm name became Roe and Trenchard. February, 1868, Mr. Roe retired to his farm on Section 18, Erie Township, opening a farm of 160 acres, where he remained until 1871, selling for $3,000. He opened a mercantile enterprise in Erie. and was appointed Postmaster, in 1873, having a livery in the interim. He continued in the mercantile line until 1881, when he sold to Mr. Alexander, retiring on account of his health to the farm he now owns, giving his attention to raising fruit and grain. Mr. Roe married Miss Brownell, of Iowa. They have five children, one boy and four girls. He is a member of the Masonic Lodge, also of the K. of H.
G. W. SANSOM, Postmaster, native of Jersey County, Ill. He was raised on a farm, and in 1862, January 6, enlisted in the Sixty-first Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Company C, serving until October 19, 1863, when he returned home to Illinois, and from there, came to Kansas in 1865, locating on Canville Creek, where he farmed until 1872, when he went to Missouri, coming back in 1875, and went to farming again, raising good crops every year, until 1879, when he took the postoffice November 15, 1879, and opened in connection a store of general merchandise and notions, and is doing a good business. In 1866, he was the first Constable of the county and served as Assistant Assessor of Neosho and Labette counties. He held the office of Constable until 1878; being elected again he resigned the position in 1879 to take the postoffice. He was also one of the City Council. Mr. Sansom is a charter member of the K. of H.
BEN. J. SMITH, editor of the Record, was born in Philadelphia, Pa. March 28, 1854. During the same year his parents moved to Bloomington, Ind., where they lived until the spring of 1877. At this time Ben. J. started west, working in Vincennes Ind., St. Louis and Sedalia, Mo. In January, 1879, having moved to Erie, Neosho Co., Kan., he bought the Record, which he has since been (sic) and is now conducting. He learned the printer's trade in the office of the Bloomington, Ind., Democrat, and received his education at the Bloomington High School and Indiana State University.
W. S. SYMMES, M. D., a native of Illinois, born in 1841.He began studying medicine with his father, Dr. H. Symmes. After serving in the First Illinois Cavalry, he was transferred to the Fifty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry; on returning in 1865; he then attended Ann Arbor Medical School of Michigan, graduating in 1865, he entered practice at home, then coming to Kansas in 1867, he located at Oswego, Labette County; here he was a witness of some of the early historic incidents of the Indian warfare; in 1870, he moved to Chautauqua County, where he practiced until 1881, when he moved to Erie, buying property and entering on a good practice. In 1875, he married Miss Armstrong. They have one son.
RACHEL TIBBY, general merchandise, is a native of Ireland, as was her husband; on coming to America, she located on Staten Island, and here in 1866, was married to Matthew Tibby. They then came to Kansas on account of his health in 1869, locating in Erie, and establishing the business now carried on by his widow. In 1879, as Mr. Tibby was riding on the stock train, on Twenty-third street, St. Louis, having gone there with stock for Mr. Letcher, of Osage Mission, he fell between the cars and was run over and killed instantly; his body was brought home for burial. Mr. Tibby had traveled almost around the world, having visited California, Australia, England and Ireland, and was overtaken finally by this sad accident. Mrs. Tibby is now carrying on the store a stock of about $800, and is doing a good business of $2,400. She is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church of which her husband was a local minister.
JOSEPH A. WELLS, born in Greene County, Ill., in March, 1838; received a limited education at the district schools of his county, the most of his early life being spent on the farm, but was always acknowledged as a very apt scholar. At the age of eighteen he received a first grade certificate as a school teacher, passing an examination before the State Commissoner (sic) At the age of twenty-one he was elected a Justice of the Peace of his township. Previous to this he was, on motion, admitted to practice law before the District Court of his county. At the age of twenty-two he was married to Matilda, youngest daughter of Pleasant and Lydia Wood of his county. At the age of twenty-four he entered the service of his country as a private of Company H., Ninety-first Illinois Infantry, and by his prompt attention to business, he was rapidly promoted to the office of Orderly Sergeant, First Lieutenant and Captain of his company, and for daring acts on the battle field in and around Mobile, Ala., in March and April, 1865, he was, by the president, in special order, breveted Major of Volunteers. At the close of the war, in 1865, he returned home to his family, and a short time afterward declined the offer of a Second Lieutenancy of Cavalry of the regular army. In August, 1865, he removed to Adair County, Mo., where he bought a farm and remained until the spring of 1866, when he sold out and started for Kansas, arriving in Neosho County on the 4th of April, 1866, and bought a claim three miles northwest of where Erie is now located. In the fall of 1866 he was elected Probate Judge of Neosho County, and served as such until January, 1869. In the summer of 1867 he sold his farm and went to the woods and cut, hauled, rafted and then sawed the logs of which the Erie House, in Erie, and other buildings were built. He then, as a member of the Erie Town Company, built the first hotel ever built in the town, and moved into and occupied the same on the last day of 1867. Here he has ever since had his family residence. He, together with S. W. Fastar, bought the first piece of land for town purposes where Chanute now stands, and here he built two houses in 1870. He also completed the first business house ever built in Coffeyville, Kansas in August, 1871. He has several times been appointed Justice of the Peace of the city and was the first Mayor of the city of Erie, at its organization in December, 1869. In 1871 he was editor of the Erie Ishmaelite, a red hot local organ. In 1872 he was appointed Deputy United States Marshal, which place he held until 1874. During his two years service he was instrumental in bringing a large number of offenders to justice; those acts, coupled with the fact that he was chairman of the Erie executive committee for county seat purposes, made him many enemies as well as a large number of warm friends. In 1873 he was arrested for violation of his duties, which caused him a great deal of trouble. After two years of law bickerings the case was finally nolle prosequied. June 19, 1874, he received his appointment as one of the force of the United States secret service, which place he now holds. Among the noted criminals that he has captured he mentions those of J. S. Wilson, at Shreveport, La., in 1875, and Martin Hixley, in Sumner County, Kansas, in 1877, both of those being arrested and delivered to the proper officers, the former at Memphis, Tenn., and the latter at St. Louis, Mo. In February, 1876, he was ordered to report at New Orleans to the United States Marshal and was detailed to go to Cuba in the interest of the United States, but owing to the revolutionary state of the country at that time, the business was not arranged to his satisfaction; nevertheless the government was pleased with the tact he displayed, and for his shrewdness in the matter he was highly complimented. He mentions many other arrests and incidents of his life which would be of interest, but space forbids. He has been a Notary Public of Kansas ever since May 1, 1868, and is now engaged in the real estate and loan business. In February, 1883, was elected Justice of the Peace and City Judge by an almost unanimous vote.
W. W. WORK, County Treasurer of Neosho County. He was elected on the Republican ticket in 1880, and re-elected in 1882
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