OLD WINFIELD TOWNSHIP.
Source: THE WINFIELD COURIER SUPPLEMENTAL EDITION,
March 14, 1901.
Walnut township was organized July 1st, 1879, including all that part of Winfield township lying north and east of the Walnut river, except that which is in the corporate limits of the city of Winfield. That part of old Winfield township west of the Walnut river was attached to Vernon township and that part south of the Walnut river and east of the river in township 33 and range 4 was attached to Pleasant Valley township.
Winfield township was discontinued.
J. C. Roberts, trustee; T. A. Blanchard, clerk, and Joel O. Mack, treasurer, were the first officers in Walnut township.
Kansas Governor John P. St. John on February 27, 1879, made Winfield an incorporated city of the second class.
Making Winfield a city of the second class led to the demise of Winfield Township. Much activity on the part of the township trustees of Vernon, Pleasant Valley, Fairview, who felt snubbed by the city of Winfield, created the new township of “Walnut.” [By looking at the county map, it is easy to ascertain that the newly created township of “Walnut” surrounded the city of Winfield.]
I hope the following articles taken from the Winfield Courier will help explain the events which took place.
The main casualty: Bliss Bridge, the oldest bridge in Cowley County, which was built in 1872, was allowed to collapse in 1880 due to inattention!
Winfield Courier, March 27, 1879.
TOWNSHIP MEETING - WINFIELD NOW A CITY OF THE SECOND CLASS.
There will be a meeting of the citizens of Winfield Township at the courthouse on Saturday, the 29th day of March, at 2 o’clock p.m., for the purpose of selecting township officers to fill the vacancies caused by the city becoming a city of the second class.
Winfield Courier, July 10, 1879.
At the meeting of the commissioners on Monday some important changes were made in the boundaries of the townships of Vernon, Rock, and Pleasant Valley, and a new township called Walnut was created, composed of the eastern and northern portions of the old township of Winfield, and a slice off the southern portion of Rock. Pleasant Valley gets the south part of Winfield township, including the south bridge and the Tunnel Mills, and Vernon gets the western portion including both west bridges and Bliss’ mill. This leaves Winfield a municipality of itself. This new township of Walnut holds an election for officers on the 23rd of this month.
[WALNUT TOWNSHIP, COWLEY COUNTY.]
Winfield Courier, July 17, 1879.
Walnut Twp., Cowley Co., July 12, 1879.
Pursuant to call, the Republicans of Walnut twp. met at the courthouse in Winfield and organized by the election of J. H. Curfman, chairman, and T. A. Blanchard, secretary. The object of the meeting being the election of a Township Republican Committee. The following gentlemen were chosen: T. A. Blanchard, D. Robertson, and S. E. Burger.
J. H. CURFMAN, Chairman. T. A. BLANCHARD, Sec.
Walnut Twp., Cowley Co., July 12, 1879.
Pursuant to call, the citizens of Walnut twp. met at the courthouse in Winfield on the 12th day of July, 1879, and organized by the election of J. H. Curfman, chairman, and T. A. Blanchard, secretary. The object of the meeting being stated, the nomination of a township ticket to be voted upon at the coming township election on the 22nd day of July, inst.
Committee on nominations appointed as follows: Robert Weakly, John Mentch, and John Hoenscheidt, who, after due deliberation, made report, which was received and unanimously adopted as candidates at the approaching election: trustee, J. C. Roberts; treasurer, Joel Mack; clerk, T. A. Blanchard; Justice of the Peace, Jessey King and S. E. Burger; Constable, T. J. Johnson and Abe. Land. Messrs. Mentch and Hoenscheidt were appointed a committee to procure ballots.
Resolved, That Winfield papers be requested to publish.
J. H. CURFMAN, Chairman. T. A. BLANCHARD, Sec.
Winfield Courier, July 17, 1879.
The people of Vernon are in a peck of trouble about the new territory which they acquired by the dismemberment of old Winfield township. Some are satisfied with the township as it is now, while others are in favor of getting rid of the new territory as soon as possible.
[A BAD BUSINESS - CUTTING AND SLASHING UP TOWNSHIPS.]
Winfield Courier, July 24, 1879.
The foolish business of cutting and slashing up townships, which commenced in this place by making it a city of the second class, has been continued. While we were absent, the new township of Walnut was made and Winfield township was whittled to pieces. We are disgusted with the whole business. Nothing but harm will be the result. Winfield has lost much of the value of its schools by weakening them, has assumed a much more expensive city government, and cut itself off from its best helpers and supporters. The change of township lines has done no one any good, while it has complicated everything and will doubtless lead to much litigation and bad blood. If anyone expects that these changes will in any way release him from taxes on the bridge bonds, he will find himself mistaken.
[CARVING UP THE TOWNSHIP.]
Winfield Courier, July 31, 1879.
One of our friends, who was a mover in the matter of carving up the township, denies that the object was to escape liability on the bridge bonds, but admits that the plan to cut up the township was worked up by a few secretly, and that they were careful to keep the project dark until it was consummated, for they knew if it got out, it would be defeated.
Winfield Courier, July 31, 1879.
The county commissioners met last Monday to make the tax levy for the county and for a contingent fund for such townships as petitioned therefor. The trustee of Walnut township asked for a levy of two mills for contingent purposes, but the county clerk and attorney, not being able to determine as to the lawful manner of collecting the tax, the commissioners adjourned to meet on the first Monday of September without taking action in the matter. This is only one of the many questions that will undoubtedly arise from the general tearing up of the township lines.
[CONDITION OF THE TOWNSHIP.]
Winfield Courier, August 7, 1879.
From Mr. J. C. Roberts, who at present has charge of the old books of Winfield township, we have learned a few facts regarding the condition of the township. The floating indebtedness is $5,714.74. The bonded indebtedness is $19,000, of which the first bond of $2,000 was due Aug. 1, and $2,000 on the first days of February and August of each year until paid. The August installment has been paid and there is money enough in the treasury to pay the next semi-annual installment, which reduces it to fifteen thousand dollars. The question is now pending whether the commissioners can levy a bond tax on the territory comprising old Winfield township. The county attorney has the matter under consideration and the commissioners meet the first Monday in September to hear the opinion of the attorney and if possible make the levy. If the commissioners cannot levy the tax on the present assessment, the bonds coming due in 1880 cannot be paid, nor the interest accruing thereon. There should be no difficulty about levying this bond tax. It should be levied on all the property contained within the lines of old Winfield township and no other, and we deem it the duty of the commissioners to see it done disregarding any legal quirk that may be raised adversely.
The true story revealed: demise of Old Winfield Township due to the bad condition of the “Bliss Bridge”and failure of the City of Winfield to help rebuild it...
[WALNUT TOWNSHIP AND THE BOND TAX.]
Winfield Courier, August 14, 1879.
We interviewed J. C. Roberts, the trustee of Walnut township, in relation to these matters. He admits that he was one of the workers in getting the Walnut township scheme, and that he circulated petitions by the “pale light of the moon,” but denies that his acts or those of any other men, who were active in the scheme, were the result of a desire to escape from the liability to pay their just proportion of the old Winfield township debt. They desire to pay such proportion and no more.
He says they were compelled to this action in self defense by the action the city had taken; that so long as the city was a part of Winfield township, the township board could levy the tax to pay principal and interest of the bonds and incidental expenses on all the property of the township, but when the city by the acts of her citizens obtained an organization as a city of the second class, the township board could no longer levy a tax on the personal property in the city, and the city could not levy a township tax so that the city would escape its just proportion unless the city authorities should determine to levy the tax anyhow; that the bridge at Bliss’ Mill needs a considerable expense to secure it from danger and destruction, and that the city authorities refused to assist in that matter, claiming that they had no jurisdiction and showed a disposition to saddle the whole debt upon those outside the city, as in fact they seemed to believe they had done; that lawyers advised him and his associates to that effect. He says that the men left in Winfield township had but one of two things to do: either to pay the whole bonded debt amounting to some $16,000 and interest, which the city men had voted upon the township, and the $5,721.74 of floating debt, which city men had contracted; or to put the balance of the township in a way that it could not be compelled to pay more than its just proportion.
He says they studied the matter carefully and determined upon the latter. They worked secretly because they knew they would otherwise probably be defeated.
He says he made a demand of the county commissioners that they should levy a tax on Walnut township sufficient to pay its proportion of the floating debt and the maturing bonded debt and interest; also, a small tax for incidental expenses, that he did not name; a two mill tax as we stated last week.
We shall have to admit that the foolish move of organizing the city as second class evidently placed our Walnut friends in a bad predicament and that they had a show of justification for the course they took to get out of it.
The more we learn of its effects, the more we see that the second class move plunged us into a labyrinth of difficulties. There seems to us but one way out of this part of the scrape. The commissioners must make the tax levy on the whole property within the lines of the old Winfield township. We think it their duty and the only way to save our credit and cost of suits.
Winfield Courier, December 11, 1879.
WINFIELD, Dec. 9, 1879.
ED. COURIER: I have just been up to pay my taxes, and on comparing with last year’s receipts find that they are about one-fourth less than last year. This was gratifying, but on a cross-examination I find that the Bridge Bond township tax has disappeared although the bonds have not been paid off. It seems there was no levy made this year. Of course, they will have to be paid, and probably next year we will have to pay two years’ interest, with the addition of a good bill of United States court costs.
I could not get any light on the subject at the courthouse, and on the supposition that an editor knows everything, or is generally supposed to, I ask you for light on the question. Who is to blame for the levy not being made: the county commissioners, county clerk, or attorney; or was it the brilliant minds who destroyed Winfield township? Believing that the answering of this question would be of interest to the general tax-payer, I respectfully await your reply.
We have already expressed our opinion on this subject. It has been a case where “one was afraid and the other durst not.” It all grew out of the stupid work of those who were not willing to let well enough alone, during the past year. The itching for a change has brought changes “with a vengeance.” Winfield township was in first-rate condition when it contained a city of the third class, but this “itching” raised this city to one of the second class, making it a township of itself.
This frightened some timid citizens of the balance of Winfield township with the idea that the change in the city would saddle all the bonds on the remainder of the township, who got up a secret petition, circulating it in the night, to cut up Winfield township, annexing a part of it to Vernon, another part to Pleasant Valley, and erecting the balance into a new township called Walnut. This was acted upon by the commissioners before the project was advertised, or even known outside a small coterie of persons.
After this it was assumed that the levy to pay the interest on these bonds could only be made by the trustee of Winfield township; and as there was no Winfield township, the levy could not be made.
We contended that in case the levy was not otherwise made, the commissioners should do it, disregarding legal technicalities which might arise.
We now claim that the authorities of Winfield City, of the townships of Walnut, Pleasant Valley, and Vernon, and of the County, have all been remiss in their duties, in not seeing to it that this tax was levied.
If each board was afraid it had no right to do it, all should have met together, and together should have made the levy. There was no question that somebody ought to make it. The only question was, who? Had all united to make it, we do not doubt that the tax would have been collected on all the property included within the lines of old Winfield township. As it is, the amount must be paid by the same persons together with a probable additional amount in costs.
[COMMUNICATION FROM “S. E. B.” RE BRIDGE BONDS, ETC.]
Winfield Courier, Thursday, December 25, 1879. Front Page.
WALNUT TWP., DEC. 20, 1879.
EDITOR COURIER: In your issue of the 11th inst., under the head of “Bridge Bonds,” you say things that are liable to mislead, and with your permission I will give all the facts in the case so far as I known them, and I was connected with the movement from first to last, and ought to know the motives which actuated those whom you are pleased to call “timid citizens.”
The reasons for our actions are as follows.
1. Winfield township had built four bridges, issuing bonds and scrip to the amount of $25,000: $5,000 of which was scrip or township orders. (This is not claimed to be the exact amounts, but near enough to illustrate.)
2. Winfield City became a city of the second class, and by the law none but the real estate within the corporate limits of the city could be directly held for the indebtedness of Winfield township, thus leaving all that class of indebtedness known as scrip to be raised by the remainder of the township—say about $5,000—and assuming that the real estate in the township and the real estate in the city were equal, then the taxpayer in the township would have to pay in addition a tax on his personal property which would make the taxes relatively about as follows.
A, being a citizen of the city, would pay on his real estate $1.00, and on his personal property, $0.00.
B, living in the township, would pay on his real estate $1.00, and on his personal property, $1.00. In addition thereto, B would pay 25 or 50 cents on his real property and 25 cents on his personal property for the purpose of liquidating the $5,000 of township orders.
Thus, they would stand:
A. bond tax: $1.00
B. bond tax: $2.00
B. order tax: $.50
These sums are only approximately correct and would vary only as the relative ratio of the different classes of property within the two corporations varied at the time the proper authorities apportioned the debt to each.
3. There were four bridges to maintain at an annual cost, taking 1878 as a criterion, of about $800, for the use of the whole county. It was useless to think of trying the county for assistance; the township had lost half or more of its taxable property, and was saddled with a heavy bonded debt and a large floating debt—what could we do but as we did? Here was Vernon township on the west, with a large area of the best agricultural land in the state, and filled with an intelligent, go-ahead class of people that were, per force of location, compelled to use two of these four bridges all the year round. The same remarks are applicable to Pleasant Valley on the south with reference to one of the bridges, except that Pleasant Valley accepted the present of a new bridge with the best possible grace, while Vernon did not seem to appreciate the munificence of the donors in allotting two and a large additional territory to her domain.
4. After having made up our minds, the “coterie” went to work, got up a petition in legal form, made copies, and gave them to friends of the project. The petitions were duly circulated, and at the next meeting of the County Commissioners they were presented, and after laying the situation before that honorable body, they saw fit to grant the petition, and created a new township, giving two of the bridges to Vernon, which township by virtue of use ought to by right be compelled to maintain them, one to Pleasant Valley, and leaving one to the new township; thus dividing the cost of maintaining the four bridges among the three townships most interested in their use.
And now, as this article is already too long, I will close with a word as to the manner of circulating those petitions, as that seems to be a great “eye sore.” Those who had charge of the project acted upon the principle that you only receive help from friends, and that enemies are at liberty to get all the information they can. This is a world in which all work for their own interests as they understand them, and neither do they publish all their projects broadcast, but having made up their minds that a certain action is just and would result in bettering their condition, they set about to accomplish it in a legal (if you please) way, and he who says least does most. S. E. B.
[CORRESPONDENT “VERNON” REPLIES TO S. E. B. COMMUNICATION.]
Winfield Courier, January 1, 1880.
VERNON TOWNSHIP, Dec. 27, 1879.
ED. COURIER: A communication signed S. E. B. in your issue of Dec. 25th, seems, under the circumstances, to require a few words of comment from someone. The writer sets out with the assertion that “in your issue of Dec. 11th, under the head of “Bridge Bonds,” you say things liable to mislead.”
He may have proved this charge to his own satisfaction, but no one reading his article would be able to perceive how. On the contrary, his statement of “facts” (already patent to everyone who has examined the subject), and the complications growing out of the action taken on these facts, more than justify your editorial in every essential particular.
The argument he makes to justify the course pursued, amounts to simply this: That himself, and a few others, becoming restive under a burden they had voluntarily assumed in the past, with full knowledge of the contingencies that might arise in the future, resolved to shift the same to other shoulders, by any means, fair or foul, so that it might be “legal,” (if you please.)” In doing this, he has but used the means that have done “Yeoman’s service” in plastering over the acts, and soothing the conscience, of every wrong doer since the days of Cain. Selfish interest, caprice, and passion are potent influences, and have swayed the minds and warped the judgment of greater men than those engaged in the “Gift” concern of which we complain.
The light in which the people of Vernon regard this matter is about this: If Winfield city and township, first settled, and possessing superior advantages, think that it will best serve and advance their interests to vote bonds and build bridges, thus attracting trade and travel; well, it is their undoubted right to do so, and displays commendable enterprise in their own behalf and public spirit as well.
And if the people of Vernon township, exercising their own judgment and from motives of prudence, prefer to suffer some inconvenience for a time rather than add to present embarrassments by building bridges, decline to do so, who shall say that it is not their undoubted right to so decide?
And if the people of Vernon object to accepting such responsibilities, on what rule of law or equity does S. E. B. base the right to “compel” such acceptance.
The people of Vernon township are not deficient in public spirit, nor do they lack enterprise, governed by prudence; but the remarks of S. E. B. on that point must be slightly ironical. There is a manifest lack of intelligence somewhere “there anent,” and a disclaimer on his part at once convicts him of insincerity. Had this matter been gotten up in an open, manly manner, and on the principle that “it takes two to make a bargain,” and after a fair hearing had been decided against us, whatever we might have thought, there would have been no opposition made.
But done as it was, by a few parties in the furtherance of their own selfish interests, and utterly regardless of the means employed to effect their purpose, we think we have good reason to object and shall not very soon cease to do so. VERNON.
ANOTHER WALNUT BRIDGE.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, September 17, 1885.
A meeting of Vernon and Winfield citizens was held in this city Monday to arrange for a new bridge on the old piers on the Walnut at Bliss & Wood’s mill. Chas. C. Black was president of the meeting and G. H. Crippen secretary. It was determined to erect a six thousand bridge. Senator Jennings, J. B. Lynn, S. H. Myton, J. W. Millspaugh, Billy Moore, S. W. Schwantes, B. F. Wood, and J. F. Martin were appointed as committeemen to boost the matter through. It is proposed to erect a $6,000 bridge on private subscription. Twenty-two hundred dollars were subscribed in this meeting, the largest amount, $800, by Bliss & Wood. The road, as condemned and paid for years ago, leading from Vernon to this bridge, runs along the north bank of the river until it strikes the bluff, where it comes out on the section line. Another meeting will be held on the 28th to perfect matters.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, October 1, 1885.
A meeting was held at the Brettun house on Monday to contract for the erection of the new Walnut river bridge at Bliss & Wood’s mill. A dozen or more of those most interested were present. A. McLoath represented the Leavenworth bridge company in the meeting, and contracted to erect a $5,000 bridge, as soon as the funds are guaranteed. The finance committee of this bridge association will proceed at once to raise the amount, most of which is subscribed, and the bridge will go in by January 1st.
[Note: I have just begun working on the month of October 1885. At this point in time I do not know if the bridge they contemplated in 1885 was built or not. MAW]
May 21, 2001