History of Walker Township, Anderson County, Kansas
From: The History of Anderson County, Kansas
From its first settlement to the fourth of July, 1876.
BY: W. A. Johnson Chairman of Historical Committee.
Published by: Kauffman & Iler, Garnett Plaindealer, 1877

WALKER TOWNSHIP was established by the board of county commissioners on the 7th day of October, 1857, with the following boundaries: Beginning at the northeast corner of the county, at the northeast corner of section 22, in township 19, of range 21; thence west along the north line of the county five miles, to the northwest corner of section 24, in township 19, of range 20; thence south nine miles, to the fourth standard parallel, at the southwest corner of section 36, in township 20, of range 20; thence east on said parallel five miles, to the east line of the county, at the southeast corner of section 34, in township 20, of range 21; thence north along said county line nine miles, to the place of beginning; containing an area of 45 square miles. The township was named in honor of Robert J. Walker, Governor of Kansas Territory. The first settlement of whites in the county was made in this township, at the present town of Greeley, in May, 1854. The settlers were Valentine Gerth, Francis Myer, Henry Harmon, Oliver P. Rand, Samuel Mack, J. S. Waitman and Henderson Rice; and, of these persons, Valentine Gerth and O. P. Rand, Mrs: Wm. Tull and Mrs. W. F. Priest, daughters of Henry Harmon, are still residents of the county; and they are the only persons who came to the county as early as 1854 who still reside in it. About the first of May, 1854, V. Gerth and F. Myer came to Kansas Territory with an ox team and a few horses and cattle. They were both unmarried at the time. They came from Missouri, and pitched their tent on the present townsite of Greeley, it being then an old Indian field, the Indians having left during the same spring. Gerth and Myer planted about five acres of corn, and in October following built them a log cabin on the bank of Pottowatomie creek, near where the bridge now spans the stream. At the time they came they found Dr. Lykins three miles east of Paola, and Henry Sherman, who had settled among the Pottowatomie Indians, at Dutch Henry crossing of Pottowatomie creek. These were the only white settlers west of Missouri on the line of travel of these bold immigrants.

Gerth afterwards selected a claim about one mile south of Greeley, and improved and pre-empted it, and resided thereon until 1868, when he sold it to Rev. Joseph Welsh, and bought unimproved land two miles northeast of Greeley, where he has made him one of the finest farms in the county. He is a native of Saxony, Germany, and has resided in the township ever since its organization, and is doubtless the first white settler in the county. He is a worthy citizen, an industrious farmer, and has passed manfully through the "time that tried men's souls" in this part of the country.

Francis Myer took a claim north of Greeley, and built a log cabin thereon, but, belonging to the Pro Slavery party, he fled the country in the summer of 1856, having taken part on the Border Ruffian side.

Henry Harmon came with his family in 1854, a short time after Gerth and Myer, and settled north of Greeley, near the junction of the Pottowatomies, where he lived with his family until the loth of August following, when his wife, Eliza Harmon, died, which was the first death in the county. She was buried near the present residence of Jacob Reese. Her funeral was preached by Rev. W. C. McDow. After the death of Mrs. Harmon, Mr. Harmon sold his claim to C. H. Price, and moved about ten miles west, on North Pottowatomie, and took and preempted another claim, built him a house, and resided there until the beginning of the rebellion, when he and his only son went into the army, served through the war and returned, but soon thereafter he died.

His daughter, Mary Ann. married William Tull, an old and respectable citizen, and now resides with her family near Greeley. The other daughter, Eliza, married Giles Sandlin, with whom she lived for several years on North Pottowatomie, until he died; and she afterwards married W. F. Priest, with whom she lives in Greeley.

Oliver P. Rand came to the Territory in May, 1854, a single man, and in 1856 married Patsy Sutton, daughter of James Sutton. This was the first marriage in the county. Rand is an industrious farmer and worthy citizen, now residing in Reeder township, in the western part of the county.

In the spring of 1855 a large immigration came from the border counties of Missouri, and the struggle soon commenced between the Free State men and Border Ruffians. Prominent among the Free State men that settled in Walker township that spring were Rufus Gilpatrick, W. C. McDow, James Sutton, Hardy Warren, Richard Robinson, Jacob Benjamin, P. D. Maness, Frederick Weimer, A. Bondi, J. F. Wadsworth and many others. Among the most active of the Pro Slavery men were John S. Waitman, C. H. Price, David McCammon, Henderson Rice and J. P. Barnaby. When the Pro Slavery men found they were out numbered and that Kansas was to be free, many of them took an early departure for Missouri and other slave States.

W. C. McDow was commissioned justice of the peace in 1856, and was afterward elected by the people and served as such for several years.

In the spring of 1857 a postoffice was established at Greeley, and named Walker, and was the first postoffice in the county. Jacob Benjamin was appointed postmaster. A mail route was established in 1857 from Osawatomie, via Walker and Hyatt, to Neosho City. In 1858 the postoffice was removed to Mount Gilead, one mile west of Greeley, and George S. Holt appointed postmaster. The office remained there for several years, but has since been removed to Greeley, and the name changed to "Greeley" postoffice.

The townsite of Greeley was selected in the spring of 1856; surveyed and laid out April 7, 1857. On the 21st day of November, 1857, Jacob Benjamin, August Bondi and Fred. Weimer, associates of the town company of Greeley, filed their plat of said town and a petition in the probate court claiming the right to preempt the townsite; and on the 4th day of October following it was pre-empted by George Wilson, probate judge, for the benefit of the occupants of the townsite. In the spring of 1857 building and business commenced lively; but for want of better material, most of the houses were constructed of logs. In 1857 saw mills were erected and good lumber could be obtained for more substantial buildings. The first store opened in Greeley was by B. F. Smith, in 1857. He kept such articles as were generally needed by the settlers. They were sold at high prices, because of the freight and risk in getting them by wagons and teams from the Missouri river.

In the years 1857-8-9 a heavy immigration settled on the Pottowatomie, and in 1859 the population of the township was as large as it has ever been since.

During the war improvements were almost entirely suspended; but with the return of peace the patriotic soldiers that survived the war returned to enjoy the blessings of a free country, which in its fullness could only be appreciated by them. Then prosperity blessed the country, and Greeley shared its growth, until it now contains three wagon shops, three blacksmith shops, one cabinet shop, one hotel, one general store, one dry goods store, one tin shop, one saw mill, one flouring mill, a commodious school house, and a good church edifice, belonging to the United Brethren denomination.

The general desire for making money and speculation caused the early settlers to lay out townsites in various portions of the Territory; and many townsites failed to become the cities anticipated, and are now known only in the history of the country. One of these towns was organized about the first of September, 1857, and was known by the name of "Pottowatomie," afterwards called "Mount Gilead." The town company was composed of Rufus Gilpatrick, J. G. Blunt, Henry Nugent, Willis Ayres, J. F. Wadsworth and others. September 11, 1857, Dr. Rufus Gilpatrick, president of the Pottowatomie town company, presented a plat of the town of Pottowatomie to John Shannon, a notary public, who made a certificate to the same, setting forth that the lands covered by the plat were claimed as a townsite. On the 21st day of July, 1860, J. G. Blunt, secretary of the Pottowatomie town company, presented for filing in the recorder's office of the county a plat and a survey, made by N. J. Roscoe, surveyor, of the townsite. It was laid out as a rival town to Greeley, being only one half mile west of that town. The proprietors of Mount Gilead were men of energy, and soon succeeded in getting the postoffice and most of the business removed from Greeley to Mount Gilead; but time proved that the new town was not well located for a prosperous city, on account of the great depth to water; so the enterprise was abandoned, and the townsite has since been inclosed, in connection with several other adjacent tracts, by Gen. Blunt, and is now one of the finest farms in the county.

The first saw mill erected in the township was located by the Mount Gilead town company, on the townsite, in the fall of 1857. The Greeley town company erected a saw and grist mill on their townsite in the spring of 1858, which did a good business for six or eight years, and then gave place to a better and larger one. John Robinson and ____ McLaughlin in 1867 built a mill in Greeley that is still in successful operation. In the spring of 1874 Chris. Bouck, of Newel, Iowa, a practical miller and mill wright, who had been engaged in that business in Iowa for several years, being desirous of locating in a better wheat country, came to Greeley, where the leading business men gave him some inducements, which he accepted, and immediately commenced the construction of a first class merchant mill; but meeting unexpected reverses in financial matters, was delayed in the completion of the same until in the fall of 1875, when he enlisted J. K. Gardner and John Weaver, of Albany, N. Y., men of capital, to assist him in the enterprise, as partners, and Greeley can now boast of a fine merchant mill in full operation.

The first school taught in the township was by T. Wadsworth, in a cabin on the claim of M. E. Mitchell, for three months, commencing November, 1856. His wages were $30 per month, and board among the pupils, twelve in number, some of them living a distance of five miles from the school house. This was the first school in the county. The next fall and winter Allen Jaqua taught a term of four months in the same cabin, with an average attendance of twenty pupils.

In the spring of 1857 a Methodist Sabbath school was organized by W. C. McDow, near his claim, where he acted as superintendent of the school, which was well attended. This was the first Sabbath school in the county.

In the summer of the same year another Sabbath school was organized, with Richard Robinson as superintendent, in Sutton valley.

In 1859 W. H. McClure, Bishop D. Edwards, Henry Hamler and others Commenced solicitations for means to build a house of worship at Greeley, for the United Brethren in Christ. The building was commenced and inclosed during the summer of 1860, but was not finished for several years. This was the first church building in the county. A union Sabbath school was organized at the same place during the same spring, with W. H. McClure as superintendent. The number of pupils in this school was about thirty; and the school thus organized, with some degree of success, was kept up for fourteen years, when a denominational school took its place, under the auspices of the United Brethren. in Christ, with L. Champe as its superintendent.

TOWNSHIP OFFICERS.

At the March election, 1853, for supervisors, J. E. White was elected chairman, and Wesley Spindler and C. W. Culten, members of the board; John T. Lanter, clerk, and J. F. Wadsworth, treasurer.

In March, 1859, J. F. Wadsworth was erected chairman, and C. W. Culten and Isco Sutton, members of the board.

JUSTICES OF THE PEACE.

In March, 1859, the justices of the peace elected were Samuel Mack, W. C. McDow, James Sutton and James D. Ridgeway.

At the election in December, 1859, under the Wyandotte constitution, Jacob Benjamin and James Sutton were elected justices of the peace; and their term of office commenced in 1861. 1863, D. W. Smith and John Macklin were elected; 1865, W. H. H. Lowry and James Sutton were elected. Lowry resigned in June, 1866, and A. R. Mumaw was appointed to fill the vacancy. 1867, A. R. Mumaw and John Wilson elected; 1869, J. W. Lyon and Henry Wilson elected; 1871, J. W. Lyon and Henry Wilson elected. Lyon left the county in 1872, and D. W. Smith was appointed to fill the vacancy; 1873, William Tull and J. T. Weeden elected; 1875, D. W. Smith and Henry Wilson elected.

TOWNSHIP TRUSTEES.

1860-1-2, Isco Sutton; 1863, William Beeler; 1864, Webster Brown; 1865-6, Isco Sutton; 1867-8, Jesse N. Sutton; 1869, John Fox; 1870-1-2, D. W. Smith; 1873, S. A. Springston; 1874, J. W. Vaughn; 1875, John Poplin.

TOWNSHIP TREASURERS.

1868-9-70, M. A. Mitchell; 1871-2-3. W. F. Priest; 1874, W. H. McClure; 1875, John Fox.

TOWNSHIP CLERKS.

1868-9-70-1, M. W. Latham; 1872, J. J. Montgomery; 1873, J. W. Lyon; 1874, E. W. White; 1875, J. W. Vaughn.


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