E. C. Manning


                        Article by Winfield (Kan.) Daily Courier, Friday, April 6, 1990.

                                             Winfield founded in a ‘new world’

(Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series of articles about Col. E. C. Manning, who is considered to be Winfield’s founder. Reference materials and photos were provided by the Cowley County Historical Society.)

                                               [PHOTO: Col. E. C. Manning]

                                        By JANE SANDBULTE, News Editor


Col. E. C. Manning constructed the first house on Winfield’s original town site in 1869 at the present location of Long Lumber Co., which was recently acquired by the city for a parking lot. It seems like a good time to take a look backward at Winfield’s earliest history.

Manning was born at Redford, N. Y., in 1838 and spent his early boyhood in Vermont before moving with his parents to Iowa. After teaching school for several years, Manning began traveling and settled in Marysville in 1859.

Besides going into the newspaper business, Manning fought with the Kansas Volunteer Cavalry in the Civil War and later helped organize a regiment at Marysville for frontier protection. He reached the rank of colonel and used that title long after the regiment disbanded in 1865.

Manning and his family moved to Manhattan in 1866, but Manning decided a few years later to establish a frontier store somewhere in the Walnut River valley in southern Kansas.

At the end of April 1869, Manning and two other men who were also looking for land left Topeka in a mule-drawn carriage. When they reached Augusta, the Walnut and White rivers were impassable because of heavy rain. The other men were discouraged by that time by the constant rain, mud and high waters so returned to Topeka, but Manning was determined to keep going.

Excerpts from a lengthy autobiography written later by Manning and published in Carter’s Monthly magazine in June 1897 tell us of his experiences:

“My first stop was at Douglass for the night. There were but five or six cabins in the valley along that twelve miles’ ride, and they were located in the timber. At Douglass a Mr. Douglass had a small store and there were two or three other buildings, but this place was civilization’s outpost, for only one and a half miles south lay the north line of the Osage Indian Reservation. . . .

“I obtained all possible information about the region beyond, and then set out alone to explore. By this time the month of May had arrived, and in my travels over Kansas and the west in the past ten years I had never seen so charming and inviting a country. It bore no scars of civilization. . . .

“I seemed entering upon a new world. Springs of pure water in abundance, beautiful streams, immense stretches of fine timber and a wonderful growth of grass everywhere upon the broad bottom lands gently sloping to the adjacent highlands, and plenty of rosin weeds everywhere, a sure indication of rich soil. I then and there resolved that somewhere in that beautiful valley I should find a home.

“About six miles south of the Butler county line I found a one-story log cabin occupied by a German and full of United States commissary stores. I was informed by the occupant that the goods belonged to one Peter Becker who with two men in his employ were located about seven or eight miles down the Walnut river valley, erecting claim houses. . . .

“Without trail or guide I crossed the river about one mile below the present town of Winfield, and turning eastward about one mile I came upon him. He had a good mule team and wagon, two men, and two log cabins under construction.

“He took his team and men and an axe and came with me over to the present town site of Winfield and assisted me in laying four small logs for a ‘foundation’ on a claim for myself. . . . This was early in June of 1869.”

In October Manning began erecting a log cabin on his “claim” and kept in it a small stock of goods for trade with the Indians and settlers.

Manning’s first “deed” was an agreement signed (with an “x”) on Jan. 18, 1870, by Chetopah, a chief of the Indian tribe which occupied the territory. It read: “Received of E. C. Manning six dollars, for which I, Chetopah, a chief of the Osage Indian tribe, guarantee a peaceful and unmolested occupancy of 160 acres of land on the Reservation for one year from date.”

That “160 acres of land” actually included only 40 acres as first platted and took in the land north of Ninth Avenue and west of Main Street. Earlier in January Manning had organized the Winfield Town Company at a meeting with several other settlers and was elected president and a director.

The town was to be located on a 40-acre plot on which Manning’s house stood. To pay for this land donated by Manning, the town company built him a two-story log cabin store with the top story to be used for public purposes. It was located on the northwest corner of Ninth Avenue and Main Street, and the town’s first school was held on the upper floor later in 1870.

According to Manning’s autobiography, the town got its name at the suggestion of W. W. Andrews: “Mr. Andrews, having just returned from a wagon trip to Leavenworth, Kansas, where Rev. Winfield Scott, a Baptist, said to him: ‘If you are going to start a town down there and will give it my name, Winfield, I will come down and build a house of worship for you.’ We adopted that name and he came here subsequently and, with some local aid, erected a house of worship, a stone structure. . . .”

In January and February 1870, Manning constructed what he called a “balloon framed residence” on what is now the southeast corner of the intersection of Eighth Avenue and Manning Street. He then moved his family from Manhattan to the “first dwelling house upon the original town site proper.”

                                -End of First Part of Two-part Series of Articles-


                                 Manning’s work made Winfield the county seat

(Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series of articles about Col. E. C. Manning, Winfield’s founder. Photos and reference materials were provided by the Cowley County Historical Society.)

                                   [PHOTOGRAPH: FIRST COURTHOUSE.]

                     Caption that went with photograph of first courthouse follows.)

Col. E. C. Manning persuaded Kansas’ governor in 1870 that Winfield should be the county seat. In 1873, the courthouse pictured above was built in the block where the two succeeding courthouses were also constructed. The original courthouse served the county for 36 years. (Photo courtesy of Cowley County Historical Society)

                                        By JANE SANDBULTE, News Editor

In early 1870, E. C. Manning sent a man on horseback at least three times a week to Douglass, the south end of the mail route, for the neighborhood mail. He received a paper that published the daily proceedings of the Kansas Legislature and in that way discovered that a bill had been introduced in the Senate to organize Cowley County and establish the county seat at Creswell (an early name for Arkansas City).

Manning hastily sent three men on horses with instructions to obtain names of all settlers in the valleys of the Arkansas, Walnut and Grouse rivers. He asked them to report to him in three days with at least 600 names.

On Feb. 23, 1870, the men met at Douglass and swore to the census and signed a petition to be presented to Gov. James Harvey, asking him to issue his proclamation organizing Cowley County, naming temporary county officers and designating Winfield as the county seat.