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History of Woodson County

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Woodson Co. History

Mrs. Jones


Topeka, Kansas 11/14/1877

Respectfully referred to the Kansas State Historical Society

Allen B. Lemmon


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Chapter 1

History of Woodson County,

Early in the spring of 1856 the first settlement was made in Woodson County, by John Woolman, who built a cabin some three miles west of Neosho Falls near the river.  This was soon followed by other settlements the same spring. This early settlement was precipitated by the strife between Slavery and Freedom, which was raging at the passage of the “Kansas Nebraska Bill.”

*The fourth “Agricultural Report of Kansas” says that Woodson County was organized in 1855 but was not fully organized until the spring of 1857.

The County was organized in the spring of 1857, and named in honor of Daniel Woodson, who was at the time acting Governor of the State of Kansas. The first County Board consisted of Jack Cavin, B.Y. Coss, and J.S. Dunn, with Charles Cameron as first Clerk of the Board.

Hiram McConnell, now deceased was elected the first Sheriff. D, W. Miller the first Justice of the Peace, and John Woolamn first Probate Judge.

We had no Superintendent of Public Instruction, for we had no Public Schools.  We had no District Clerk, for we had no District Court, and no County Surveyor, for the land then belonged to the New York Indians.


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Our first County Treasurer was W.J. Howawought of Neosho Falls.  We had no Assessor, and consequently  no taxes to collect.  Up to the year 1861, Woodson Greenwood, Hunter and Butler Counties, constituted as Representative District, of which P.L. D. Morton of Butler Co. was the first Representative.  These Counties Constituted the 24” Representative District.

Up to September 1st 1862, Woodson County was attached to Coffey County for Judicial purposes, at which time the first District Court was held. Woodson County then belonged to the 5” judicial District. George H. Lillie of Madison County being the first Prosecuting Attorney.

The Drouth.

Chapter II

The year 1860 was known as the year of the “faminine” From Sept 9”1859 for twelve consecutive months not a drop of rain fell, and the Neosho and Verdigris rivers were mere below running water for more than eight months.  July 1860 was ushered in, not with fields and gardens blooming with vegetation, but one vast stretch of almost burning sand.

The people were now upon the very brink of destitution, and began casting about for some means of relief.



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“The Aid Movement” about which so much has been said and written, was first inaugurated by L.C. Pomeroy, W. M. Y. Arney, and Thaddeus Wyatt.  The city of Atchison was made a great central Depot, being the termious of the St. Jo and Atchison R.R. and from there then people of Woodson County, that needed, obtained provisions for the winter, and grain and seeds for planting the ensueing spring.


Chapter III

The Enlistment for the War.

Scarcely had our people began to experience a feeling of relief from the effects of the Drouth, when there came the call “To Arms” and the loyal hearts of Woodson County leaped to the call for “Three Hundred Thousand. Three companies were principally organized in Woodson Co. under captains from Neosho Falls.

B.G. Coss was the first to organize and drill a company, which served to the close of the war.  H.J. Howawrought of Neosho Falls also took the command of a company.  Such was the anxiety to enlist, and the zeal of the Officers, that the old and young rich and poor infirm and defective were enlisted to answer at “Roll Call” and many of the brave hearts of Woodson Co. found rest in a soldier’s  grave,


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Chapter IV

Crimes and Casualties

The subject of this chapter is so closely connected with the history of our County that a few incidents will be almost a necessity to any thing that would savor of history.  On the night of Dec 15” 1859 one John Colman was dragged from his bed and from the presence and bozum of his wife and children, and murdered in cold blood in his own yard. No search was ever made, nor rewards offered for the assassins.

Again, on the 29” of Aug. 19860 near the northern border of the county,, one McKay was shot through the head and instantly killed.  No investigation was every made formal or otherwise.

Judge Keyce, who was for a number of years Probate Judge, of Woodson County, and a man if high standing, was deliberately shot while standing near his own home in Coyville.

On the 28” of Oct. 1868 a man was murdered on Buffalo Creek in the southern part of the County. The assassins in order to conceal his crime piled logs upon the corpse of the murdered man, and will nigh effected the cremation of his victim.

The murderer was arrested and lodged


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in jail in Anderson County but before Court convened he escaped, and was not been heard if since.  But little effort was made to arrest this “Reign of Terror” because of the sparsely settled Country, and

Lawlessnesss and Disorder reigned almost supreme. But now our county is thickly dotted with beautiful farmers and inviting looking farm houses. And as the years roll on and bring such time and harvest we find we have an abundance of the good things of our land, Peace, plenty, and morality prevail and we are a thriving and prosperous people.

Chapter V


The “Frontier Democrat” the first paper in Woodson Co. was published at Neosho Falls under the care and supervision of James Boyle as Editor and Publisher.  The Democrat was strongly conservative but was patronized by both Parties, but was mainly supported as a local advertizer.

In the year 1872 the Frontier Democrat was changed to Neosho Falls Advertizer, and the Press went into the hands of W.H. Stevens.  This paper was in politics strongly Republican, and continued its issues regularly until 1873 during which time it became


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 The official organ of the county.

On the first of Jan. 1873 W. H. Sain purchased the office and established the “Woodson County Post”.  During the month of July last, the Press was bought by J. Mickle and Son, who still retain it as the “Woodson County Post”. In the fall of 18/73 the “Woodson County Advocate” was at Kalida, by W.H. Jones.  It was a strong advocate of the Republican principles.  This paper in the course of eighteen (18) months passed into the hands of R,F, Eagle, who continued the paper but a few months, when he removed with it out of the County, after which the leading Spirits of Kalida” became disheartened, and that once prosperous and ambitious little village, since deserted, may now, with Goldsmith be embalmed in song,  After repeated trials and failures, they have at length succeeded in establishing at Press Yates Center and we are now regaled each week with “The News” edited by Steinbarger & Barker.


Chapter VI

Our School Enterprise.

Up to the year 1859 there was not a school house in the County of Woodson, and the few schools we had were of the rudest sort.  The first was a “subscrip


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tion” school at Neosho Falls during the winter of 1857.  Our first Superindendent of Public Instruction was E.J. Brown of Liberty Township.  The first school district organized was in Liberty Township, and the first school was taught by Miss Emily Winn, now Mrs. H. Groesbeck of Neosho Falls.  Teachers were not then required to submit to a critical examination, in order to obtain certificates of qualification.

For up to 1802 we were working along without an effective organization under our school system.

The first School Board in Woodson Co. was in Liberty Township and consisted of Erneric Chase,,  Asa Whitney & W. Siria.

But since that time we have continued to map out new Districts until today we have 58 organized school Districts all of which contain comfortable school houses most of their supplied with Globes and out line maps.  In short our school system is kept under the care of Superintendents, who are themselves practical Teachers, and our school are in a healthy and flourishing condition.  For the year 1876 there were 1780 children enrolled within school ages, in these fifty eight organized Districts.  The School buildings, furniture apparatus, etc of Woodson Co. are valued at about forty thousand dollars.


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The Woodson County Normal school is now in session at Yates Center, and with every advantage of first class Instructors we hope to attain a high standard in our schools.  Every effort is being put forth and how can we fall much short of perfection, with such as Proff’s Sheaier, Richardson, Pickett and Shook as our leaders and instructors?

Neosho Falls,



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Bonds: Miscellaneous Items etc,

On the 2” tuesday of April 1800 an election was ordered to vote bridge bonds to the amount of $25000.  This vote was defeated by a large majority.  Prior to the time that Evert Township was erected, Neosho Falls Township voted $21.000 to build a bridge across Neosho river.

In the year 1869 a vote was ordered for $175,000 in R.R. Bonds, which was defeated by a large majority.

Not withstanding the defeat of these bonds this R.R. was built through the north east corner of the county, called “U.P. Southern Brand” since known as M.K.Y.R.R.

August 15” 1870 a proposition was submitted to vote Bonds by Township for the Humboldt and Arkansas Valley R.R. which resulted as follows,

Goriuto voted $20,000

Belmont   “      $30,000

Owl creel defeated $50,000 by 122 majority.

In 1872 Neosho Falls voted $50,000 for the  Ft. Scott, Iola and Neosho Falls R.R.

But the R.R. never appeared and the money was never called for.  Woodson County has never yet voted R.R. Bonds.

There are five hundred and four (504) square miles in Woodson County with a population of 8.88 to each square mile.

In the year 1860 the population was 1.488.  In the year 1870-3.827, and in 1875 the population was 4416, an increase of 2.988 in fifteen years.


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Yates Center the County seat is about eighty two (82) miles in an air line from Topeka in a southerly direction.

 No. of acres in the County.  322,560    

“          taxable acres   “       262.177

“     “   acres under cultivation  47,863.81

Increase of cultivated acres during the year 1875-5760.81

Principal streams.  The Neosho river enters the Co. near the north eastern corner and runs across the corner of the County in a south easterly direction.  The Verdigris river runs across the extreme south western corner of the county.

The principal creeks are Ord, Cherry, Turkey and Big Sandy.  These streams are all well timbered,-average width of timber belts one half mile. Varieties; best of hard wood, as oak, hickory, black walnut, hackberry, honey locust etc.  Horticulture: The are about twenty acres of nurseries, of orchards. 1,375.25: vineyards 981 acres.

Libraries four townships report five public and sixty one private libraries, containing 4,695 volumes.

Catholic: Organization 1 , membership 100

Univeralist: Organization 1, membership eleven

Churches;  Presbyterian: Organizations 1, memberships 75.  church edifices 1.  valuation $24.00

Congregational;  Organizations 2, membership 70.

Baptist: Organizations 3. Membership 110

United Presbyterian: Organizations 3, membership 40

Methodist: Organizations 6. Membership 200; church edifices 1 valuation $3000.


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History of Woodson County Kansas

By Mrs. S.E. Chase Jones








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