NARRATIVE: EARLY WINFIELD.
Presented here are twelve early photographs that portray the first fifteen years of Winfield, Cowley County, Kansas, as a town. Photos such as this are difficult to find. Even harder are those that are identified with a time and location, or which depict people, families, and businesses.
Over the past ten years the author has gazed at the twelve photographs in this collection and attempted to see into the past and understand when and where they were taken as well as who the people depicted were and what they were doing.
The earliest photograph in this set was taken on July 4, 1871. From an early newspaper in Winfield, the Cowley County Censor, an agenda for the day was found. The last photograph was taken just after 1885.
I have prepared some text to illuminate the life and times of the first fifteen years of Winfield. Many friends have helped with this effort: their help will be needed again as we sort through the details of how that time was so different and yet so much like today. The early years of Winfield citizens, occurring when there was no social or economic safety net available, presented unique opportunities never to occur again. Many of the participants in the drama of creating a town in southern Kansas were young people, completely on their own, trying to build a new world distant from the trials and tribulations suffered by them and their parents due to the recent Civil War. Some of the men were given the honorary title of “Major,” “Colonel,” or “General” even though they had not earned it. Their main purpose was to seek a new life in a land bereft of many of the features from their native states: a land on which they had to grow trees, grass, crops, and primitive housing until they could get on their feet and start making homes and businesses. Winfield named their streets after some of the early citizens who had changed this prairie wilderness into a town and later a city.
Some Facts About Early Winfield and Cowley County.
[Note: Cresswell township in time became known as “Creswell,” which is shown to avoid confusion.]
The effort to become the county seat began in January 1870. A bill was introduced in the Senate of Kansas entitled “An Act to Organize the County of Cowley,” and making Creswell the county seat. As soon as the news arrived at Winfield, James H. Land, A. A. Jackson, and C. M. Wood traversed the county in three days and took the census of over six hundred population, and reported at Douglass, in Butler County (the nearest place where any officer could be found to administer an oath), on the 23rd of February. The necessary papers were made out and E. C. Manning took them to Topeka, Kansas, and presented them to Governor James M. Harvey. By the order of Governor Harvey, the new county of Cowley was created in Kansas on petition February 28, 1870, and Winfield was designated as the temporary county seat. Governor Harvey appointed County Commissioners on that date: W. W. Andrews, of Winfield, G. H. Norton, of Creswell, and S. F. Graham, of Dexter. Governor Harvey also appointed E. P. Hickok as the Cowley County Clerk at the same time. The first meeting of the Cowley County Board was held on March 23, 1870, at the residence of W. W. Andrews, who was chosen as the first chairman. The first official act of the Board was the division of Cowley County into three townships: Rock, Winfield, and Creswell. County Clerk Hickok proceeded to divide the county into three townships, numbered 1, 2, and 3.
Township No. 1 included all that part of Cowley County laying north of a line running through the county east and west, touching the mouth of Little Dutch Creek, all north of Little Dutch to be included in said township. The election was held at the house of Edward Phillips, at the mouth of Rock Creek.
Township No. 2 included all that part of Cowley County south of the mouth of Little Dutch Creek, extending south to include E. P. Hickok’s claim, and to within ten miles of the mouth of Grouse Creek. The election was held at Winfield.
Township No. 3 included all that part of Cowley County south of E. P. Hickok’s claim on the Walnut River and the lower ten miles of the Grouse and the Arkansas to the State line. The election was held at Creswell.
In May 1870 the Cowley County Commissioners established townships in Cowley County. This again led to controversy. The November 29, 1870, issue of The Commonwealth had an article written by a correspondent, “XXX,” from Cowley County, differing with comments made in the November 26, 1870, by correspondent, “XX,” writing from Winfield, which stated there were but three instead of six legally established townships in the county.
Correspondent “XXX” stated: “I find on file in the office of the secretary of state, a record in the hand and also the signature of E. P. Hickok, clerk of Cowley County, describing the organization of Rock Creek, Winfield, Creswell, Cedar, Grouse, and Dexter townships, by the county commissioners last May; accompanied with a full map of the same! This record is not to be found in the office of the present (deputy) county clerk. What villain’s hand has abstracted and destroyed it? I have also on file the poll books from the rejected precincts. The informalities are very slight; the clerks and judges were as well known to the county commissioners as their own brothers; the case will not hold one moment against the legality of the returns in any court of justice. It is flatly false that Capt. G. H. Norton was the first to object to the returns. T. A. Blanchard did that, and Capt. Norton’s vote, in opposition to the entire iniquity, is on record. Capt. G. H. Norton’s name was put upon the ‘people’s ticket” without his knowledge or consent, and voted for against his protest.
Correspondent “XXX” continued: “XX” says ‘there are eight precincts established in the county.’ I find in the Censor, of Oct. 8th, over the signature of W. Q. Mansfield, deputy county clerk, and T. A. Blanchard, county commissioner, the following statement: ‘The precincts, as established by law, are as follows: Rock Creek precinct, Nenescah precinct, Floral precinct, Armstrong precinct, Dwyer precinct, Dexter precinct, Grouse precinct, South Bend precinct, Creswell precinct, Winfield precinct.’”
Correspondent “XXX” commented: “Just ten precincts in six townships; of which four townships, or two-thirds of the county, were rejected. Arkansas City cast 143 votes, almost every vote being challenged by Mr. Cook. Winfield cast 171 votes, not a vote being challenged, upon the ruling that no person not residing in the township had the right to challenge. Winfield village has about one fifth the buildings, business, and population of Arkansas City. Villainy somewhere; whose? The republican ticket has a legal majority of ninety votes, as will appear at the pending trial. Notwithstanding the frauds, a counting of all the votes would give H. B. Norton eight majority. XXX. Topeka, Nov. 27, 1870.”
The first political gathering in Cowley County took place at the raising of the “old log store” on the 1st day of April, 1870, at Winfield, Kansas. This was a citizen’s meeting and was held to nominate candidates to be voted for on at the election to be held on May 2, 1870, for the purpose of choosing a permanent county seat and to elect a complete set of county officers. The feud between Creswell (which later became Arkansas City) and Winfield started as a result of the May 2, 1870, election in which Winfield received 108 votes and Creswell 55 votes.
Professor H. B. Norton’s comments were printed in The Commonwealth, a Topeka newspaper widely read in the state of Kansas, on June 24, 1870.
“The buildings at Winfield are as follows: One log house, used as a store by Col. Manning and Dr. Mansfield; the upper story which is the ‘town hall’ and ‘Court House’ of which so much has been said; one small frame residence; one empty log house, intended to be used as a hardware store; one stable. That is positively all. There is no hotel, no sawmill nearer than Arkansas City, nor any other building of any sort on the town site, although it is some six months older than Arkansas City. The ‘water-mill’ proposed to be built on Dutch Creek is to be a sawmill. As to the election of May 2nd, it was notoriously a most illegal farce. The Winfield precinct reported more votes than all the rest of the county. J. E. Brown, who went up from Creswell to challenge illegal votes, was set upon by a lawless mob, who threatened his life and drove him into the woods, where he remained till the following morning. Large numbers of illegal votes were cast, his challenges being totally unheeded by the judges, during the time he was allowed to remain at the polls.
“The other precincts of the county cast a vote of nearly three to one for Creswell, but Winfield reported more votes than all the rest.”
Officers elected as a result of the May 2, 1870, election were the following: Commissioners T. A. Blanchard, Morgan Willett, and G. H. Norton; County Clerk H. C. Loomis; Treasurer John Devore; District Clerk E. P. Hickok; Probate Judge T. B. Ross; Register of Deeds W. E. Cook; Sheriff Frank Hunt; Coroner W. G. Graham; and surveyor, F. S. Graham. This ticket was elected without any opposition.
On September 5, 1870, W. R. Brown, Judge of the 9th judicial district (of which Cowley was a part), appointed T. H. Johnson county attorney. On July 6th Loomis appointed W. Q. Mansfield his deputy county clerk, and John Devore appointed J. P. Short deputy treasurer. At the fall election G. B. Green was elected treasurer, but failing to give bond, Devore held the office till 1872.
July 4, 1870, Celebration at Winfield.
The first celebration in Cowley County of the national birthday of the United States took place under a large bower in the rear of the Old Log Store. Prof. E. P. Hickok, who had been appointed by Governor Harvey as District Clerk in February 1870, and who faced an election in November 1870 for this position, was the orator of the occasion.
D. A. Millington and J. C. Fuller. In August 1870 Millington and Fuller became proprietors of a new town, called Sumner, laid out in Sumner County by them, Col. J. C. McMullen, of Clarksville, Tennessee, and other gentlemen. It appears that they left this venture within days as they were soon linked with E. C. Manning.
Winfield Town Company, August 1870.
On August 16, 1870, D. A. Millington and J. C. Fuller came to Winfield and associated themselves with E. C. Manning in forming a city. Millington and Fuller paid $1,000 in cash to Addison A. Jackson for his claim and under the name of “Winfield Town Company” held a claim of 40 acres in the northeast quarter of Manning’s claim in addition to the 160 acres purchased from Jackson. The company laid out the half of the two claims into a town site and invited settlers who would improve lots to settle on their site. Learning that a town site wholly controlled by them made it a different ownership, they created a new corporation.
Winfield Town Association.
E. C. Manning, J. C. Fuller, and D. A. Millington formed themselves with J. M. Alexander of Leavenworth, T. H. Johnson, the first attorney in Cowley County, T. H. Baker of Augusta, and some others into another company, called the “Winfield Town Association,” and joined another 40 acres in the southeast quarter of Manning’s claim with the west 80 acres (half of Fuller’s claim), as the property of the association. This land, added to the Winfield Town Company’s 40 acres, made a town site of 160 acres, in square form, which was surveyed by D. A. Millington into blocks and lots, streets and alleys.
Long after the crucial date of July 10, 1871, when the U. S. Land Office at Augusta, Kansas, opened for land claimants in Cowley County, E. C. Manning wrote the following.
“It took a long time to plat the surveys, send them to Washington for approval, and return the copies to the local land office at Augusta in Butler County, thirty-two miles distant. But the Winfield Town Company had long ears, and one of those ears was laying very close to the Land office building in Augusta on July 9, 1871, when the plats arrived.”
The “long ears” mentioned probably refers to Manning’s old partner, T. H. Baker, who became the duly-elected Representative from Butler County on February 9, 1871, after a contested case between Baker and L. S. Friend. This case was mentioned numerous times in the Walnut Valley Times, a newspaper printed at Eldorado, Kansas. On February 17, 1871, Editor T. B. Murdock wrote the following: “On last Thursday, February 9th, the House of Representatives declared that L. S. Friend, after having served as Representative from this County for thirty days, was not entitled to the seat on account of fraudulent voting and drunkenness of judges of the Eldorado precinct at the election on the 8th of November, and that T. H. Baker was the duly-elected Representative from this county. Our readers are all aware that this contest case was a one-sided affair throughout, and that no attempt was made to prove that illegal votes were cast at any but the Eldorado precinct. We do not object to the proceedings of the House with the testimony before it, but we claim that a committee should have been granted Mr. Friend, with power to investigate the whole affair and find out if any frauds and corruption were practiced at other voting precincts in the County.”
Millington, Fuller, and Manning informed Methodist minister Thomas Benton Ross, Probate Judge in Cowley County, that they wanted him to leave with them on Sunday afternoon in order to be in Augusta early Monday morning, July 10, 1871, when the land became subject to entry at the land office at Augusta. Judge Ross refused, but told them to drive to his claim three miles northwest of Winfield, where he would leave with them after midnight. They arrived at Augusta early Monday morning, ahead of the Arkansas City delegation, and had Winfield declared the temporary county seat. The Winfield town site was the first entry in Cowley County. They then entered the other 80 acres of their own claim and returned to Winfield.
Opposition to Manning, Fuller, Millington, and Others.
Opposition to the formation of the city of Winfield began before Manning, Millington, and Fuller made their land entries at Augusta on July 10, 1871. During the spring of 1871 as new buildings continued to be built on the town site, stores and shops were filled, and dwellings became occupied. Many occupants of the town site became restless, and demanded that the companies should give them more lots free. Some insisted that the companies had no more right to the town site than anyone else, and that all the unimproved lots legally belonged to the owners of the improved lots, and should be divided pro rata. These disaffected parties embraced a great portion of the seventy-two owners of buildings on the town site. They collected money to carry out their measures and pay for the services of Amos Sanford, an attorney who specialized in land controversies, and organized into a “Citizens Association.” They held meetings in which exciting speeches were made against the two corporations, and were prepared, at a moment’s notice, when the land office was open, to rush in and enter the town site, through the Probate Judge, who should distribute the lots to the inhabitants, according to their theory. They arrived at the Augusta Land Office too late, not privy to the advance information given to members of the two Winfield town companies.
Citizens Association Versus Town Companies.
In August 1871 the Cowley County Censor was purchased by Messrs. Webb & Doud and the “Citizens Association”met in Winfield, adopting the following resolution.
“Resolved, That the little clique of land speculators and political shysters that have brooded over the destinies of the town since its organization, shall no longer control its affairs, so far as the influence of a great majority of the substantial citizens can prevent it. That one of the pleasurable pursuits of the members of this association will be the combing, curbing, and pinching on the lowest back seats, in all town and public affairs, the speculating sharks and members of the ‘town ring’ who have of late been ruling in our midst; as well as to place in positions of honor and trust, within our gift and influence, the good and honest citizens of our town and County; and that we will sustain the good people of Winfield in improving and building up and controlling the town, and in their future endeavors to make it a place worthy of the patronage and support of the citizens of the surrounding community and the County at large.”
Town Companies Set off Lots.
After the land entry was made on July 10, 1871, by the Winfield Town Company and the Winfield Town Association, Judge Ross appointed W. W. Andrews, H. C. Loomis and L. M. Kennedy as Commissioners, under the law, to set off to the occupants of the Winfield town site the lots to which they were entitled, according to their respective interests.
A meeting took place on September 20, 1871, at which the two town companies presented to the three commissioners a list of the lots, showing what lots were improved, and who were entitled to them, and showing that the vacant lots were the property of the two companies. The Citizens Association spoke only through their lawyer, Amos Sanford, and demanded that the vacant lots should be divided up among the occupants in proportion to the value of their buildings. After a full hearing, the three Commissioners decided according to the schedule of the two town companies, and Judge Ross immediately executed deeds accordingly.
This decision was accepted by a large part of the citizens, who, to prevent further trouble, executed quit claim deeds of all the vacant lots to the two town companies.
Enoch Maris joined with A. A. Jackson and others in a suit in the district court of Cowley County in October 1871 through their lawyer, Amos Sanford, to set aside the deeds from Probate Judge Ross to the Winfield Town Company and the Winfield Town Association.
On January 13, 1872, another “Winfield Town Company” was organized. Officers were E. C. Manning, president; W. W. Andrews, vice president; C. M. Wood, treasurer; W. G. Graham, secretary. The directors were E. C. Manning, J. H. Land, A. A. Jackson, W. G. Graham, and J. C. Monforte; and the foregoing named persons together with T. H. Baker, S. S. Prouty, Thos. Moonlight, and H. C. Loomis were the corporators. The object of this corporation was “to lay out a town site on the rolling prairie east of the Walnut River and south of Dutch Creek, the same being in Cowley County and embracing the particular forty acres of land on which the residence of E. C. Manning is situated, with the privilege of increasing the area of the town site as soon as practicable.”
Winfield Incorporated Into a City of the Third Class on February 22, 1873.
In the matter of the application of the majority of the electors of the unincorporated town of Winfield, in the county of Cowley, and state of Kansas, to be incorporated into a city of the third class, under the laws in such case made and provided.
Whereas, a petition to me presented, duly signed by a majority of the electors of said town of Winfield, setting forth:
1. The metes and bounds of said town to be as follows, to-wit: Beginning at a point 80 rods east of the n w corner of the n w qr of sec 23 t 32, south of r 4 east, thence s to the n line of the s w qr of said sec, thence s 1 deg, e 1900 feet, thence e 1309 ft. to the centre line, thence n on said center line 1884 feet to the n e corner of the s w qr of said section, thence e 80 rods, thence n to the n line of said qr, to a point 1 chain and 10˝ links e of the n w cor of said qr, thence n 1 deg w 19 chains, thence w 1 chain and 21 links, thence s along the line between s e and s w qr sections of 21, 19 chains to the s e corner of the s e qr of sec 21, thence w 80 rods to the place of beginning.
2. That said town contains a population of about six hundred inhabitants.
3. That said petition contains a prayer to be incorporated as a city of the third class. And, if appearing to my satisfaction that a majority of the taxable inhabitants of said town are in favor of such incorporation, and that the number of the inhabitants of said town exceeds two hundred and fifty, and does not exceed two thousand, therefore:—
I, W. P. Campbell, Judge of the 13th Judicial District of the State of Kansas, being further satisfied that the prayer of the petitioners, in said petition, is reasonable, do hereby order and declare said town incorporated as a City of the Third Class, by the name and style of THE CITY OF WINFIELD, according to the metes and bounds aforesaid, and according to the law in such case made and provided:
And it is by me further ordered that, the first election in said City, for City officers, shall be held at the LAW OFFICE OF SUITS & WOOD, in said City, on the 7th day of March, A. D., 1873. And I hereby designate W. M. Boyer, D. A. Millington, and J. P. Short, to act as judges of said election, and J. W. Curns and J. M. Dever to act as Clerks of said election, and also, A. A. Jackson, A. T. Stewart, and O. F. Boyle to act as a Board of Canvassers.
It is further by me ordered, that the Clerk of the District Court in the county of Cowley, in said Judicial District, shall forthwith enter this order at length on the journal of proceedings of the District Court of said county of Cowley, and shall make publication of the same in some newspaper published in said City, at least one week before the said City election.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand at Eldorado, Kansas, in chambers this 22nd day of February, A. D. 1873. S/ W. P. CAMPBELL, Judge.
Settlement of Case of Enoch Maris et al.
The civil action brought by Enoch Maris and others, Plaintiffs, against the Winfield Town Company, Defendants, was at first thrown out of court on demurrer by Judge Webb. It was tried again on demurrer before Judge W. P. Campbell of the 13th Judicial Court, who overruled the demurrer, and promptly rendered judgment for the plaintiffs. The case was carried to the Supreme Court of Kansas and was heard at the January term in 1873. On April 9, 1873, the Supreme Court of Kansas ruled that the judgment of the court below should be reversed with cost, and commanded that the judgment of the Supreme Court should be executed according to law the said petition in error to the contrary notwithstanding.
Many newspapers misunderstood this ruling. The Saturday, May 14, 1873, issue of the Topeka Commonwealth said, “The decision of the supreme court in the Cowley County case reached here last night, and threw the whole town into consternation, as this decision makes the deed of the mayor to the town company illegal and void, and of course all deeds of the town company are also void. This will, however, be an advantage to the town, as the people here will take it into their own hands, and people will get lots much cheaper, and those here will quit paying money to a town company that never had any title to the lots or town.”
On August 7, 1873, a suit by Enoch Maris et al versus the Winfield Town Company was dismissed. Another case was commenced by ten of those who had quit-claimed, ran the course of the courts, and failed in the end.