NARRATIVE: EARLY WINFIELD.
December 1, 1883.
Good Lord Bill, I did not realize until I got your e-mail that December has arrived.
Have stopped everything I was working on to give you some ideas on possibly rewriting the dialogue you are using to go with photographs. Frankly, you are doing a good job and I commend you on your good work. Now perhaps you can see why at times it is so durned difficult for me.
Anyway, I had hoped to just mention a few things, but I finally gave up and revamped almost everything. If you don’t like it, don’t use it.
Here goes from the first page onward.
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.
Governor James M. Harvey of Kansas created the new county of Cowley on February 28, 1870, naming Winfield as the temporary county seat. On May 2, 1870, a special election was held in Cowley County to elect county and township officers and to elect a county seat. Winfield won this election.
August 15, 1870, is the date shown in a number of the Cowley County records as the date on which J. C. Fuller and D. A. Millington arrived at Winfield. I question this date because of the following article.
“Emporia News, September 2, 1870. New Town. A new town, called Sumner, has just been laid out in Sumner County. The proprietors are: J. M. Steele, C. S. Roe, and J. H. Liggett, of Wichita; J. Jay Buck and E. W. Cunningham, of Emporia; James C. Fuller, Addison Richards, and Mr. Millington, of Fort Scott; Col. J. C. McMullen, of Clarksville, Tennessee; and Maj. Woodsmall, of Gosport, Indiana. This town is situated in the geographical center of Sumner County, on Slate Creek, and about thirty miles south from Wichita. A stock of goods is already on the ground. A full and complete newspaper outfit is already secured, and it is the intention of the proprietors to have a hotel up and a saw mill in operation soon. This place is immediately on the Texas cattle trail, and may soon be a brisk town. The finest wood and water claims are there to be had. We look for the organization of Sumner County at the next session of the Legislature.”
Most of the records pertaining to Winfield indicate that J. C. Fuller and D. A. Millington arrived at Winfield on August 15, 1870, and bought the claim of A. A. Jackson on August 20, 1870.
Various versions about the formation of the “Winfield Town Company” appear in the early records.
Winfield Town Company organized January 13, 1870.
Cowley County Democrat, Winfield, Kansas, Thursday, July 13, 1876.
“HISTORY OF COWLEY COUNTY. Read at the Centennial Celebration, July 4, 1876, at Winfield, Kansas. By Wirt W. Walton. The Winfield Town Company was organized January 13, 1870, ‘with power to lay out a town site upon the open prairie, east of the Walnut River and south of Dutch Creek, in Cowley County, Kansas.’ E. C. Manning was its President; W. W. Andrews, Vice President; C. M. Wood, Treasurer; W. G. Graham, Secretary; and E. C. Manning, J. H. Land, A. A. Jackson, W. G. Graham, and J. C. Monforte, Directors.
Winfield Town Company organized January 13, 1872.
Winfield Courier, January 6, 1876. Centennial Edition.
“The Winfield Town Company was organized Jan. 13th, 1872, with E. C. Manning, president; W. W. Andrews, vice president; C. M. Wood, treasurer; W. G. Graham, secretary; E. C. Manning, J. H. Land, A. A. Jackson, W. G. Graham, and J. C. Monforte, directors, and the foregoing named persons with T. H. Baker, S. S. Prouty, Thos. Moonlight, and H. C. Loomis, corporators; and that 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.”
It is obvious that the Winfield Courier missed a very important date by two years!
Furthermore, the Courier lumped two different entities into one.
Fact: D. A. Millington and J. C. Fuller joined with E. C. Manning to create a second entity, the “Winfield Town Association,” which held a claim of forty acres in the northeast quarter of Manning’s claim. A town site wholly controlled by them made it a different ownership. This made it necessary to create 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, and D. A. Millington, who was then the only surveyor and engineer settled in the county, surveyed this town site off into blocks and lots, streets and alleys.
Note: The date or dates when the two Winfield town entities came into being has never been found.
The Old Log Store. The “Old Log Store” was built by C. M. Wood for E. C. Manning’s partner, T. H. Baker, who made arrangements to pay him for his work. The 14 by 22 ft. log house was thirty rods south of Wood’s cabin. Manning at that time was with his family at Manhattan, Kansas. He arrived in mid-December 1869 and at once took charge of his claim and store. According to D. A. Millington, the Winfield Town Company agreed to build for E. C. Manning a two-story log building for a store, the upper story to be used for public purposes, in order to pay for the 40 acres of Manning’s claim. It was occupied by E. C. Manning as a store and post office. This structure was situated on the ground where the Odd Fellows hall later stood. Max Shoeb built a log blacksmith shop on the lot south of where the Winfield National Bank became located. W. Q. Mansfield commenced building a small drug store just north of the log store; Frank Hunt commenced building a hardware store adjoining the drug store. The structures, with Manning’s claim house, were all of the buildings existing in Winfield in 1870.
Cowley County Democrat, Winfield, Kansas, Thursday, July 13, 1876.
Raising of the “Old Log Store.” The Thursday, July 13, 1876, issue of the Cowley County Democrat covered this event. The first political gathering in the county took place at the raising of the “old log store” (now the Winfield Courier and Post Office) on the 1st day of April, 1870. This was a citizen’s meeting and was held to nominate candidates to be voted for on the 2nd day of May.”
Photograph No. 1: July 4, 1871. Celebration on Main Street.
On July 4, 1871, a celebration took place on Main Street. The schedule for the 4th of July celebration called for a military salute to be fired at sunrise, a procession to be formed on Main Street at 10:00 a.m., and a march to the grove (location unknown) at 11:00 a.m., accompanied by a band under the management of Prof. Minor L. Palmer. Exercises started at 11:00 a.m. with a song by the Winfield Quartette Club, the “Star Spangled Banner,” followed by a prayer given by Rev. Mr. S. B. Johnson, pastor of the Congregational denomination, who was chaplain of the day. This was followed by the reading of the “Declaration of Independence” by Mr. Leland J. Webb, an attorney who arrived in May 1871 and became editor of the Cowley County Censor in June 1871.
During the course of events on July 1, 1871, the featured speakers (Rev. A. W. Tousey, Judge T. B. Ross, Rev. Mr. Inman, Col. J. M. Alexander, Rev. E. P. Hickok, D. A. Millington, and A. B. Lemmon) gave responses to toasts made, interspersed with songs and music. The program was concluded with a doxology.
Prof. Minor L. Palmer. On October 28, 1871, Prof. Palmer was the superintendent in charge of Fine Arts at the exposition held in Rodocker’s Hall in Winfield by the Cowley County Agricultural Society, which was unable to exhibit them at the late fair due to the unfavorable state of the weather. In August 1872 M. L. Palmer was paid $6.00 for jury duty. In October 1872 he was engaged by the Cornet Band as their teacher during the winter.
On March 13, 1873, “W. H. S.,” a correspondent from Floral, wrote the following letter to the Winfield Courier. “Last October the undersigned landed in Cowley County, and took a claim in Richland township, twelve miles northeast of Winfield. Before coming here I had been induced to believe that this part of Kansas had been settled, to a very great extent, with a rough class of western pioneers, such as generally follow in the wake of the retreating Red man and buffalo. But never was a man possessed of a more erroneous idea. I have had unusual facilities this winter of observing the character and habits of the citizens of a good portion of the county, and I am compelled to say that I have never met with a more agreeable, honest, sober, and intelligent class of people in any country, old or new. And considering the length of time that the country has been open for settlement, progress made in improvements is entirely beyond precedent. Why, in many places, especially in the valleys, it begins to look like an old country—good houses, barns, and farms. But the most commendable feature in the line of improvements is the splendid schoolhouses being erected, or already completed, all over the country. Old Fogy may dwell among such an enterprising people, but he must of necessity occupy a back seat. I had the pleasure of being present at two exhibitions given at the Darien schoolhouse on the Walnut Valley, Feb. 28th and March 5th—at the close of the first term taught in the house—C. L. Rood, teacher. The house although an unusually large one, was crowded early the first evening to overflowing, and quite a number came who were unable to gain admittance. The exhibition was an entire success in every particular. The selections were good and well performed. The essays, and a newspaper gotten up by the students, were such as would do credit to any community. We could not help noticing throughout the performance a tendency among the young lady performers to give the old bachelors a thrust at every available opportunity; that’s a commendable spirit. In fact, I think it would be a good thing for the community to put all the old bachelors up at auction and sell them to the highest maiden bidder, such a proceeding might be a benefit to your humble servant. But to resume my narrative. Perhaps the most noticeable feature in the entertainment was the music which consisted of both vocal and instrumental—the instruments were an organ, and one tenor and one bass viol. The violin was played by a musician from the vicinity of Dutch Creek, the bass by Mr. Palmer of Winfield. The accompaniment was played by Miss Emma Leffingwell, a member of the school. Miss Leffingwell certainly possesses rare musical talents, and is in a fair way of becoming a great organist. The second exhibition was given in aid of the school, 20 cents admission, and consisted of almost an entirely new programme. The house was well filled but not so badly crowded as at the first, if not more so. Instrumental music same except that Mr. Palmer was not present. Had some excellent songs sung by Mrs. C. L. Rood, Miss E. Leffingwell, Miss Ida Davis, and Miss Mary Akers. But the feature of the last exhibition was the “String-bean-Band”—we think that Barnum would do well to employ that set of minstrels to travel with his new show next summer. Mr. C. L. Rood is certainly entitled to great praise for the able manner in which he conducted the exhibitions. I cannot help expressing here my sincere thanks for the kind and hospitable manner in which your correspondent, though a total stranger, was entertained during the exhibitions by Mr. Wm. Grow and his amiable mother, who live in the vicinity of the schoolhouse. Mr. Grow possesses a fine farm and residence, and how he can live a bachelor life among all those blooming maidens that abound in the Walnut Valley, is entirely beyond our comprehension. W. H. S.”
In August 1873 a civil case occurred between D. M. Osburn et al vs. M. L. Palmer, which resulted in a sale being set aside. In the same month Mrs. M. L. Palmer was a member of the Methodist Church committee planning to hold a picnic Mr. W. W. Andrews’ grove
On December 10, 1874, the Winfield Courier printed an item written at Medicine Lodge on November 25, 1874.
“EDITOR COURIER: Please announce through the columns of your paper the death of J. W. Palmer (familiarly known as Chubbie), son of Minor L. and Eula Palmer, early settlers and for a long time residents of Winfield. The deceased came to his death on the 28th day of October, 1874, by the accidental discharge of a shot gun while he was duck hunting.
“He was seventeen years of age, was a member of Co. A, Barbour County Militia, and took part in the engagements had between the Osage Indians and Company A at Red mounds in Harper County, August 7th, 1874, where he distinguished himself for his bravery in his efforts to overtake the fleeing savages. Though the youngest, yet the foremost in the pursuit. His remains were escorted to their last resting place by Company A and many citizen friends. His death was a severe blow not only to his parents, but to his many friends and associates, as he was loved and esteemed by all who knew him.
“M. W. SUTTON, Co. Atty., Medicine Lodge, Barbour Co., Kansas.”
A. W. Tousey. Topic: “President of the United States.” A. W. Tousey became pastor of the Baptist congregation in October 1870, at which time there were only about eight charter members. Rev. Winfield Scott, the Baptist pastor at Leavenworth, was present and preached the first Baptist sermon delivered in Cowley County. Meetings were held wherever an empty shanty could be found, but often in the store of Bliss, Tousey & Co., started earlier that year when Tousey and his brother-in-law, C. A. Bliss, purchased the only stock of general merchandise in Winfield from T. H. Baker and E. C. Manning, partners. Rev. Tousey married Jennie S. Bliss prior to coming to Winfield. In May 1871 Bliss, Tousey & Co. became agents for a lumber yard started by Maj. Beebee of Thayer. A. W. Tousey died some months later. By October 1871 the store name had changed to C. A. Bliss & Co., which handled dry goods, stoneware, syrup, salt, and dried buffalo meat for 12½ to 15 cents. Mrs. Jennie Bliss Tousey was a partner with her brother in maintaining the store, and was involved as executrix of the estate of A. W. Tousey in a civil suit with Wm. Bartlow in October 1871. In 1872 a stone building was built and occupied by the Baptist congregation on a lot previously held by the Old Lagonda block, which later became a boarding house.
Unknown: Who was the second postmaster of Winfield, Kansas.
Note: E. C. Manning was the first postmaster of Winfield, Kansas, being elected to that position in May 1870.
The Cowley County Democrat, July 13, 1876, relating the history of Cowley County from a speech given by Wirt Walton, stated that Rev. A. W. Tousey was the second postmaster. This is refuted by the following.
“Walnut Valley Times, May 26, 1871.
“Report from D. D. M., correspondent of the State Record.
“Winfield is the County seat of Cowley County. Last October the site was an unbroken prairie, now it contains half a hundred houses.
“C. A. Bliss, formerly of the firm of Bliss & Lee of Topeka, is the postmaster and stage agent, and has besides a large stock of goods, and is getting rich, I think. He says anybody that can’t make money in that country, should have a guardian appointed to take care of him. He is a generous and true hearted man, and is well deserving of success. As evidence of the public spirit of the citizens, I will relate an incident.
“The Baptist Society had a festival recently to raise a little money towards building a church. A cake to be given to the prettiest girl, brought to the treasury $158, and the total contributions of the evening reached upwards of $300.
“Among the principal men of the town are Col. Manning, Col. Alexander of Leavenworth, D. A. Millington, and J. C. Fuller, of Fort Scott, who are all members of the town company.
“The town site of Winfield is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. From an eminence on Col. Alexander’s claim, adjoining the town, the view is perfectly enchanting. Wells and springs abound, one of the latter flowing from a hillside into a deep rocky basin, in volume sufficient if carried into pipes, to supply the town.
“But enough for the present. If the readers wish to see the land of promise, the country that in a few years will be conceded to be the Egypt of Kansas, let him visit the Walnut Valley, running through the counties of Butler and Cowley. The route is by cars to Florence, on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, thence by stage. D. D. M.”
T. K. Johnston was appointed postmaster at Winfield in September 1871.
Judge T. B. Ross. Topic: “The Day We Celebrate.” Thomas Benton Ross was born October 2, 1794, in Georgia, 25 miles from Atlanta. He was of Scotch-Irish extraction. He enlisted in the war of 1812 with Col. Richard M. Johnson’s Kentucky riflemen, a force picked by Johnson of 100 crack riflemen, who fought the British and Indians in Canada. He became a Major in the Black Hawk War in 1832. In November 1868 T. B. Ross, accompanied by his sons, came south to view the country that in time became Cowley County. In January 1869 the Ross family settled on a claim located three miles northwest of the future city of Winfield on section 17, located on the Walnut river. A Methodist minister, Ross was the first preacher in Cowley County. The Osage Indians drove out the settlers in the fall of 1869. When they told him to go, Ross refused unless they returned the team of horses they had stolen. They did not return the horses, but allowed Ross ad his family to remain unscathed. Thomas Benton Ross was the first Probate Judge of Cowley County; in fact, the only judge on all laws in 1870. His name is on all deeds issued from the government to individuals on the original town site of Winfield. On December 31, 1879, Judge T. B. Ross died at home. The Winfield Courier reported that the immediate cause of his death was a violent cold.
Rev. Mr. Inman. Topic: “Cowley County.” Information about this minister was not found.