EL DORADO TOWNSHIP
The history of El Dorado township insofar as early settlements are concerned, is so nearly identical with the
city of El Dorado that the two will be considered under one heading. May 30, 1870, a petition signed by D. M. Bronson
and fifty others asking that the town of El Dorado, as described in said petition, be incorporated under the name
of El Dorado, was presented to the probate court of Butler county. The petition was granted, and J. C. Lambdin,
A. D. Knowlton, T. B. Murdock, T. G. Boswell and C. M. Foulks were appointed trustees. The 140 acre tract which
comprised the original townsite was entered on March 23, 1868, by B. Frank Gordy, and a plat of the townsite filed
for record in the succeeding month. Shortly after entering his claim, Gordy sold a fifth interest each to Henry
Martin, Samuel Langdon and Byron O. Carr, and with them formed the El Dorado Town Company. Town lots were laid
out and sold to all who would improve them, at the rate of $10 per lot.
The location of the town near the crossing of the old California trail, on the Walnut, and its other natural advantages
of position, did much to aid the new venture at this critical time, when it needed but a trifle to kill the embryo
city. Houses of a very modest description sprang up rapidly, and the town began soon to present a semblance of
substantiality. There had been some houses on the townsite prior to the entrance of the Gordy claim. As early as
1867 a log house was built in the east part of the town, and the same summer E. L. Lower put up a cabin where Mrs.
White's residence stood. The latter of these buildings had passed away, but the former stood until 1885, just west
of the present city building, on East Central avenue. It was burned in a fire which destroyed Skinner & Stinson's
livery stable, July 1, 1885. The, third building on the townsite was a frame store, erected by Henry Martin, on
the corner now occupied by the Haberlein clothing store. Just prior to the erection of this store, Elias Main put
up a saw mill on the Walnut near the present lower bridge.
The year 1868 brought many new industries to the town. In the spring D. M. Bronson opened a land office. Dr. Kellogg
divided his time between this office and the practice of his profession. A wagon shop was put up by a Mr. Handley,
a blacksmith shop by Mat. Strickland, and a harness shop by Mr. Gearhart. Mrs. M. J. Long (Mrs. E. H. Clark) opened
a millinery store, and some minor branches of business were carried on. This year was also signalized by the opening
of the first regular saloon. The institution, after being for some time a sore spot in the community, was closed
by the suit of Mrs. Thomas Tool, for damages to her husband and the ensuing litigation. To counteract the influence
of the saloon element thus early arrayed against the prohibition forces, the temperance people organized a lodge
of the "Sons and Daughters of Temperance." This order flourished for some time, but finally died out,
and its records have been lost. The year closed upon the town in a flattering state of growth and bidding fair
to become a large central trading point.
Thus far the reputation of El Dorado had spread little beyond its immediately associated towns in the northeast
- the places where it touched the line of the older settlement, and felt, though distantly, the pulsations of the
world's great heart. With 1869 came the publication of a paper of its own, the "Emigrant's Guide," gotten
up by Bronson and Sallee, who had entered extensively into real estate dealings, and printed by Jacob Stotler,
of the Emporia "News." The "Guide" was what would be called a "rustler," and crowed
for Butler county and El Dorado after a very lively fashion. This year saw the first social gathering of the people
in the new settlement, and also the first disaster, the drowning of the Johnson family, during the June flood,
in the West Branch, a short distance above town. With 1870 came a rush of settlers and a flood of events, which
deserve more specific description. With the rush of 1870 came the demand for more room within the town limits,
and the special suave and ready response to the demand by real estate men. Lower's addition of eighty acres, north
of Central avenue, was laid out this year, as were the blocks of land belonging to Finley and Gordon on Main street,
and that of Wilson on the west. These, together, made a little less than 320 acres. The following letter from Capt.
J. Cracklin, of Lawrence, one of the party who started the town, gives an account of the naming of El Dorado: Lawrence,
Kan., December 11, 1882: Dear Sir - In reply to yours of the seventh instant, I would say the name El Dorado is
two Spanish words and signifies "The Golden Land." The beautiful appearance of the country upon our arrival
at the Walnut suggested the name, and I exclaimed, "El Dorado !" and when the townsite was selected the
name was unanimously adopted. I proposed the name and Thomas Cordis seconded it. Yours truly, J. Cracklin.
William Hilderbrand is supposed to have been the first settler near El Dorado, probably in 1854, having taken a
claim near where the J. D. Connor farm now lies. In 1859 his place, which had become a sort of headquarters for
horse thieves, was raided, and Hilderbrand, after joining the order of the flagellents or anglice, and getting
a sound thrashing at the hands of the vigilantes, was given twenty four hours to effect his escape from the county,
and disappeared forever from El Dorado's horizon. In 1859 occurred the first wedding in El Dorado, as well as in
the county, the parties united being Miss Augusta Stewart and a Mr. Graham. Shortly after the wedding the groom
received serious injuries from the discharge of an overloaded gun and died. The first child born in El Dorado was
Mattie, daughter of P. R. Wilson. The first death was that of Mrs. H. D. Kellogg.
El Dorado postoffice, as originally located, stood a mile and a half south of the present town. The mails were,
however, handled at the residence of Henry Martin, on the present townsite, and the postmaster, Daniel Stine, lived
at Augusta. There was a little frame building at the site of El Dorado proper, but in 1867, when the county lines
had been moved to their present southern limits, the building had been stripped and stood alone and untenanted.
At this juncture, D. M. Bronson, who had been appointed county attorney, proposed to Connor, representative from
the district, to refit the building and employ it as a county seat headquarters. After various conferences, in
which Connor refused to do anything, Bronson left this part of the country and went to a point below Augusta. On
his return the present El Dorado had been located and made the county seat. A postoffice had been opened across
the Walnut, opposite the present city, for four or five years before old El Dorado was surveyed, and D. L. McCabe
had been postmaster. Daniel Stine, of Augusta, was, as has already been stated, potmaster in the old town, though
never performing the duties of that office. The postoffice officials in the present city have been Henry Martin,
H. D. Kellogg, Mrs. M. J. Long, Frank Frazier, Alvah Shelden, T. P. Fulton, J. C. Rodgers, B. F. Meeks, A. J. Palmer,
W. H. Ellet, Mary Alice Murdock, and the present one is T. P. Mannion. The office has been, since 1879, a Presidential
The first hotel opened in the new town was a rough frame erected in 1869, and occupied by Thomas Brothers. This
very modest hostelry was later made the rear portion of the El Dorado House, of Samuel Langdon.
El Dorado has been fortunate in its exemption from disastrous fires, the only one of any great importance occurring
in December, 1880, and destroying the Walnut Valley elevator. This structure was built in 1878, at a cost of $10,000,
and had a capacity of 40,000 bushels. It was not only an elevator, but also a flouring mill. And the fire in 1900,
which destroyed the Central school building.
El Dorado had the usual uneventful and uncertain future of frontier towns. Its geographical location, and being
the county seat, were its only boast. A $10,000 stone school house was erected in 1875, which was destroyed by
fire in February, 1900. While it grew steadily in population and number of buildings, it had not an air of permanency.
Enterprising citizens, among the leading ones being T. B. Murdock, then editor of The Walnut Valley "Times,"
after much labor and persuasion, secured the building of the Florence, El Dorado & Walnut Valley railroad from
Florence to El Dorado. This was the potent factor, the first railway in the county. It reached El Dorado in July,
1877, and the town turned out en masse to welcome it. Immediately after its completion an excursion train was run
to the town, a grand ball and banquet were participated in, and a new era of prosperity welcomed with every evidence
of joy. The future of the town seemed then assured. Real estate advanced rapidly. New roofs sprang up in all directions.
The old and small business houses began to give way to larger and handsome brick and stone structures. A brick
building 104 feet long and two stories high was built by N. F. Frazier in 1878. But the town's tribulations were
not over. In 1879 overtures were made to the citizens to aid a line of railway to be known as the St. Louis, Wichita
& Western railroad. It was to be a branch from the Atlantic & Pacific at Pierce City, Mo. For years the
citizens, strangers crossing them, and surveyors and engineers declared that the flint hills, a range of semi-mountains
bounding the county's eastern line, presented an impassable barrier to railways in that direction, save at one
particular "pass" in what is now Glencoe township. The railway officials professed to be anxious to come
through this "pass" to El Dorado, although the line running in a northwest direction from Pierce City
would have to trend southward to reach Wichita. Our people rejected the demands of this company, and shortly after
propositions were submitted to townships, and carried, voting aid to this line, running nine miles south of El
Dorado, through the rival town of Augusta and cutting off at least 60 per cent of the trade which had previously
come to the town to reach rail communication with the outer world. This was a depressing period. Many, believing
that Augusta, by reason of the heavier population around her, and her "boom;" inaugurated by the building
of the new road, would be the county seat, moved away from El Dorado, building slackened and the town was at a
standstill. Again our business men took hold, and in 188o forced the F. E. & W. V. (the "Bobtail,"
as it was called), from El Dorado, through Augusta to Douglass; which became the terminus, thirteen miles south
of Augusta. Again the county seat was saved by cutting off the trade of Augusta from the region of Douglass and
stopping her growth. But El Dorado languished. Being in the geographical center of the county; the, county seat
and having a railroad was not enough. Her growth became slow and unsubstantial through 1880, 1881 and 1882. During
these three years an effort was being made by a local company at Fort Scott to build a road westward along the
fifth parallel - an old dream of the first settlers in El Dorado, thought to be impossible of realization on account
of the flint hills previously spoken of - but the company was poor and weak, and the work languished. It kept building
and bonding, building and bonding, however, until in 1882 preliminary surveys were run through the hills by General
Gleason, of St. Louis, an experienced engineer, who found a route of easy grade, but expensive to construct through
the hills. Propositions were submitted and aid voted the road, under the belief, afterward verified, that the road
would belong to the Missouri-Pacific system, and on January 1, 1883 our second railway, known as the St. Louis,
Fort Scott & Wichita, was completed to the borders of the town, amid the same scenes of rejoicing which had
characterized the coming of the first one. From the date of the completion of this (competing) line the permanent
growth and prosperity of El Dorado were assured. The town outstripped the most sanguine guessers of its progress.
The building and putting in operation, on July 1, 1885, of the Ellsworth, McPherson, Newton & Southeastern
railway, largely secured through the activity and influence of Gen. A. W. Ellet, of El Dorado, gave the city its
third railway, and accelerated and amplified the "boom" which characterized building operations after
the coming of the "Sunflower" railroad, as the St. Louis, Fort Scott & Wichita was called. This line
passes through a very fine agricultural country, and is a very important feeder to the main line of the St. Louis,
Fort Scott & Wichita railroad.
El Dorado was made a city of the second class in July 1885. It is noted for the numerous shade trees along its
broad streets and about its houses. Everybody plants and cares for trees. Its houses are generally neat and substantial
structures. It is remarked that an unusual and very large amount of paint is used in painting and decorating dwellings.
outhouses, fences, etc. El Dorado is one of the neastest towns in the State.
El Dorado has a beautiful, well drained and healthful site. Its business buildings are substantial. It has many
handsome residences and beautiful grounds. The streets are board and shaded. Its schools are such that any intelligent
community would be proud of them. Its churches have large memberships, and their ministers are generously supported.
The secret orders are in a flourishing condition. The Masons and Odd Fellows have large and handsome halls. The
city has a square (but the town is not built about it), deeded to the public, artistically set out with trees,
which are flourishing and yield much pleasure from its shady foliage.
Finally, El Dorado's people are a social, intelligent, reading, church and school loving and saloon hating people,
with whom all order loving folk will find the warmest and most generous friendship and ample and inviting accommodations
and facilities for educating and rearing their sons and daughters and launching them into business.
The first issue of The Walnut Valley "Times" was on March 4, 1870. It was a seven column folio, exactly
the size of the present Daily Times. T. B. Murdock, afterward editor of The El Dorado "Republican," and
J. S. Danford were "editors and proprietors," to quote from the editorial subhead. The paper was started
by contributions of cash and El Dorado town lots. In a few weeks Danford retired from the paper and began a remarkable
career as a banker - rather as a bank wrecker. The Bank of El Dorado the Bank of Caldwell, Sumner county, and the
Bank of Osage City, Osage county, all went under; all were simply robbed by Danford. How he escaped hanging at
Caldwell at the hands of a mob was one of the remarkable episodes of early days. Murdock sold the Times to Alvah
Sheldon in 1881.
The "head" of The Walnut Valley "Times" has never been changed since the first issue, save
that some ten or fifteen years ago instead of small capitals the initial letters of the three words of the title
were changed to capitals and small capitals for the remainder of the words.
What would now be called an advertising rate card was in 1870 designated in the Times as a "price list,"
and the rates then were approximately what they are yet in the weekly. The subscription price was $2 per year,
subsequently reduced to $1.50 and in 1889 to $1, if paid in advance or during the year. Newspaper paper in 1870
was about seven cents a pound. The paper boasted in its first issue that it had a "circulation of Boo copies,"
by which the editors meant to say that they printed that many. They did not refer to the number of subscribers.
Under the head of physicians and surgeons were H. D. Kellogg, J. C. McGowan and Dr. Edwin Cowles. Attorneys at
law were D. M. Bronson, Ruggles, Plumb & Campbell, E. B. Peyton & J. V. Saunders, H. C. Cross & W.
T. McCarty and Almerin Gillett. How familiar are these names to the old pioneers. And Bronson and his wife were
kindly, generous and helpful. They slept on the floor of their small home one night that two orphan girls who had
ridden in the four horse stage from Topeka might enjoy a night's rest before continuing their journey on to Douglass.
They were Lida and May Lamb, the one buried in Belle Vista, the other Mrs. Alvah Shelden. Bronson died many years
ago; Mrs. Bronson remarried and lives in Wisconsin. They reared a fine family. Mrs. E. C. Thompson is their daughter.
R. M. Ruggles was an able lawyer. He died years ago. P. B. Plumb later served twelve years in the United States
Senate and died in 1892. He was one of Kansas' distinguished patriots, soldiers and statesmen. Plumb and Ruggles
were from Emporia. W. P. Campbell in after years served with honor as district judge.
In 1870, El Dorado, having about 400 inhabitants, advertised one hotel, the El Dorado House, corner of Main street
and Central avenue. The public is assured in the first "Times" that it "is receiving large additions
and is being refitted and refurnished throughout." J. B. Shough, deceased, advertised the Chelsea House as
having "ample accommodations for the traveling public," and many of its guests rolled up in blankets
and slept on the floor, anywhere they could find room. Meals were usually fifty cents. Mrs. Eliza White told the
public she had a boarding house "on Main street," in El Dorado. Eli Corliss was a stone mason and plasterer;
Crimble & DeLong were carpenters and builders; so were D. A. Rice & Company and Ward & Potts - W. G.
Ward and Thomas M. Potts. Henry Martin (settled on the old Teter farm, northeast of El Dorado, at an early day),
was a "licensed conveyancer and notary public;" S. P. Barnes - peace to his ashes - was the town's lumber
dealer; Henry Rohr shod the town and roundabout, making many pairs of boots at $8, $10 and $12 per pair; in millinery
and dressmaking, Mrs. M. J. Long (Mrs. E. H. Clark) and Miss M. E. Close "respectfully announce to the ladies
of El Dorado and vicinity that we expect to, within a few weeks, open a new and complete stock of millinery, consisting
in part of ribbons laces, flowers, feathers, silks, satins, velvets, etc. Bonnets and hats made to order. Dressmaking
a specialty." Thomas R. Pittock was heralded as proprietor of a saw and grist mill "adjoining town on
the southeast;" and "H. Martin & Company have permanently located their saw mill on the Walnut adjoining
town on the east, sawing over 6,000 feet of lumber per day." Sleeth Brothers announced their saw and grist
mill running "on West Branch, at the north end of Main street;" and Burdett & Wheeler advertised
their new saw mill "in operation on the L. B. Snow farm on the Walnut, south of town." "We publish
herewith the first number of The Walnut Valley "Times." We have no apologies to make. Our paper speaks
for itself. We make no promises, as we might not be able to fulfill them. To those who have aided us in establishing
our paper here, we wish to return thanks. If you, after carefully examining the 'Times,' conclude that it is worthy
of your support, make it known to us by sending us `two dollars in advance. Our political faith' is described -
It is scarcely worth while for us to state that we are Republican in political faith, as politics is so little
thought of or talked about in this country. We will not, however, support Republican nominees when they are known
to be dishonest or corrupt. We will not under any circumstances support men for office who have a reputation for
dishonesty. We are in favor of the fifteenth amendment, the present administration and the payment of the government
debt according to contract."
A writer, under a nom de plume, under date of February 14, 1870, says: "On Monday three of us started for
the lower country. We stopped at Augusta to take on a better supply of rations. Augusta is a lively little town,
having two stores, a blacksmith shop, saw mill and hotel. Messrs. Baker &Manning have a good stock of goods
and appear to be doing a good business. Our old friend, Dr. Thomas Stewart, is also selling goods there. The saw
mill is doing a good business, but cannot supple the demand. Another mill is expected soon. We passed the new townsite
of Walnut City, on a gradual slope of the upland, sloping toward the junction of the Little and the main Walnut.
One or two buildings have been constructed and we noticed about 100 logs piled up waiting for the mill from the
Neosho. We came to the flourishing town of Douglass, near the southern line of Butler county. There are three good
stores, good hotel, etc. Chester Lamb is proprietor of the hotel. Douglass has one of the finest locations of any
town in the State. Douglass and Walnut City will, in all probability, be rival towns, as they are only two or three
miles apart. Below Douglass the valleys grow in breadth and beauty and numerous squatter cabins are visible along
the valley from Douglass to the mouth of the Walnut. About eighteen miles below Douglass we came to Winfield, at
the mouth of Lagonda creek, formerly called Dutch creek. We counted several new houses. Just below the town we
crossed to the west side of the Walnut at what is known as Kickapoo corral. We ascended to the divide through a
defile with large rocks on either side, and from there south ten miles to Delphi (later Arkansas City). This is
the most beautiful stretch of land I have seen in Kansas. The Arkansas river, about six miles west of the road,
is visible all the way down to the mouth of the Walnut. About the middle of the afternoon of the second day we
reached Delphi, which is a new site laid out for a future town. It is a smooth, swelling ridge, sloping off toward
the Walnut on the east and toward the Arkansas on the south and west. The Arkansas is about the size of the Kaw
at Lawrence. Fish are very abundant We formed a fishing excursion on the evening of the first day after our arrival.
The evening was delightful, warm and clear. The moon being full made it as light as day. During the short time
we were fishing we secured some nice ones, upon which we feasted. Prior to our arrival Captain Norton caught a
catfish weighing seventy pounds, and a short time before one that weighed sixty. The second day, while surveying
claims, getting dry, we stopped to take a drink - not of the oh-be-joyful - but out of the pure and sparkling waters
of the Walnut, and while so doing our horses ran off, leaving the wagon a wreck and scattered through the woods.
After running a couple of miles the horses were caught by a friend, and returning to camp we went to work and before
night we had everything mended up and ready to start home the next day. On returning to El Dorado, absent only
four days, we noticed three new buildings that have sprung up during our short absence, which shows that the people
of El Dorado mean business."
Someone, writing from the Little Walnut river country, near where Leon was started in 1879, says that every claim
(homestead) is taken from the stream's head in the Flint Hills to its junction with the main Walnut, near Douglass.
Taking a claim meant settlement upon it, and at times four poles laid in a square testified to someone's settlement
until he (or she) could erect a cabin. The writer praises this section and declares that "stock can be grown
to the age of four years at an average price of $2; thus giving the owner a clear profit of at least $25 per head.
Companies from Michigan have already been formed and have taken claims on the head of the North Branch of Little
Walnut for the purpose of entering extensively into the dairy business." This was only a dream - there were
so many dreams, visions, illusions in those days. Nearly all the settlers were poor. They did not understand the
country, the soil and climate. Many had never owned land before and the prospect was so flattering that air castles
were readily constructed. W. R. Lambdin - he died in Denver several years ago - "has a claim at the junction
of the north and south branches of the stream. He has been here about two and a half years. He has eighty six domestic
cattle, nine horses, four hogs, a mowing machine, sulky rake, plows, etc., etc. He raised in 1869 300 bushels of
potatoes and an abundance of other vegetables. His 160 acre claim has seventy acres of timber. He has refused $3,500
for his claim and stock. The next claim, on the north branch, is J. T. Lambdin's, seventy five acres of timber,
balance mostly good valley land. He has a log house of one room, which serves as parlor, bedroom, dining room,
kitchen and nursery. He 'baches' and is making rails and will improve his claim as rapidly as possible. He values
his claim at $900." This was J. T. or Josh Lambdin, who died here many years ago. It will be seen that the
Lambdin brothers were considered quite wealthy. Think of 160 acres of the best bottom land and eighty six head
of cattle worth only $3,500 "Amos Richardson," the writer continues, "has a claim, a family, a frame
house and three acres broke; made several hundred rails this winter and smokes his pipe in leisure hours. He is
a number one man and ought to be a J. P. He would be insulted if one should offer him less than $1,200 for his
claim. His brother occupies the next ranch, has a frame house, three acres broke (this means the sod turned over
with a `breaking' plow) and that he is a son of a thief if he can be euchred out of his claim for less than $600.
He is recommended for P. M. at Quito and will soon open an extensive stock of dry goods and groceries in that city.
By the way, fearing people may not find the city, it is located on the N. E. 1/4 of the S. E. 1/4 of section 11-27-6.
The next claim belongs to a Mr. Hart, formerly of Ohio, and was settled upon in August, 1869. He has built a one
and one half story house, hewed logs and made no other improvements. Mr. Hart has a No. 1 claim with forty acres
of timber and 100 acres of the best bottom land. He offers his claim now for $500, and it is the cheapest on the
Little Walnut." It will be noted how frequently timber is referred as a valuable feature of land. The marvelous
building of railways and distribution of lumber could not then be foreseen and timber was considered to be precious.
With the coming of railways twelve years after this time, timber land lost much of its value, save for fuel and
cattle shelter. "George Miller," says the chronicler, "owns a claim with a log house, stables, etc.
His claim cost him a horse, and he would be badly scared if offered $600 for it. Mr. Miller's daughter has taken
an adjoining claim, 160 - no improvements. This is an example for other young ladies, and darn the man who dares
to jump that claim. B. R. Boarce has a claim with hewed log house; he can take $400 for it any time." His
record goes to show the small and humble beginnings of the pioneers, many of whom became homesick, were disheartened
by drouth that would now be unnoticed because of better farming and better understanding of the time of planting,
of crops to plant and their cultivation."
The editors of the "Times" left a record of incipient El Dorado, not full and complete, but giving
a fair idea of its small beginnings: "Our town is beautifully located on a rolling prairie in the Walnut valley,
and about the center of Butler county. Main, the principal business street, runs parallel with the Walnut river
and is level enough to be called a table land, vet with sufficient slope to drain the surface water. By the original
survey, the townsite contained but 140 acres, lacking twenty acres in the southeast corner to make it a square
quarter section. But the enterprise of our citizens, encouraged and stimulated by an unprecedented flow of immigration
developing the resources of our county, soon demanded an enlargement of our borders. E. L. Lower, one of our first
settlers, and Judge J. C. Lambdin, who are ever exercising a disposition to advance the interests of the town and
community, concluded to make a personal sacrifice for the public good and prepared for the market Lower's addition,
comprising eighty acres lying adjacent to the original townsite, which being rapidly covered with all kinds of
business and dwelling houses. Twenty two business lots on Main street and a large number of residence lots have
been duly surveyed, the plot recorded as Finley's addition, and lots are now on the market at reasonable prices.
While these lots are recorded as an addition, they properly belonged to and should have been surveyed as part of
the original townsite; they are a portion of the twenty acres required to make the site square. All owners of property
in El Dorado will be pleased to learn that Main street has been continued southward parallel with the streets on
the west, not only bettering so essentially the shape of the town, but bringing into market some of the most choice
business locations on Main street. Much gratitude is due Mr. Finley's liberality in removing the blockade to allow
a large share of our improvement and business to take its natural course southward and we hope our citizens will
not hesitate in using the means to the end intended. We are just informed that our fellow townsman, Dr. J. P. Gordon,
has laid out a row of lots south of Finley's addition, continuing Main street the full extent of those on the west,
thus perfecting the shape of that corner of the townsite. Let us all appreciate the doctor's public spiritedness.
Comes last in order, but greatest in point of importance, Wilson's addition. It is eminently more essential to
have a location of health and beauty, with salubrious air and water and fertile soil on which to build your residence,
grow your orchard and make your home, than to own a whole bulk of business lots on Main street. Wilson's addition
offers all these attractions and inducements. It joins the old townsite on the west and contains eighty six acres
of good undulating prairie, affording natural building sites and is especially adapted to parks, gardens and vineyards.
Prof. T. R. Wilson has for this purpose very generously disposed of this land to the following company: Drs. H.
D. Kellogg, A. White, J. S. Danford, J. K. Finley and Mr. (A. D?) Knowlton, who have had it surveyed into blocks
of two acres each, sub divided into lots of one fourth acre, and now offer it in lots of any size to suit customers,
and at prices so reasonable that the poorest man may buy a home, while the rich and noble will have all the aid
of nature to enrich, magnify and display their improvements. Were they to traverse famous Italy they could not
find a building site more surpassing in beauty, loveliness and healthfulness than now offered in Wilson's addition.
With all this array of additions the townsite of El Dorado contains less than 320 acres — not quite one half section
of land, not yet half as large as the original townsite of Emporia, and needs forty acres to make a square corner
on the northwest; there is room for another addition, and we will look to our chief clerk in the State senate for
a slice off his homestead when he returns."
Under the head of business men of El Dorado, the first "Times" says: "Henry Martin came to the Walnut
valley in 1857, before there was a house in Butler county. His means of transportation was a yoke of oxen to a
wagon, his entire stock in trade, his home being wherever he said so. Mr. Martin could then see in the resources
of this country its immense riches, and, being a plucky Englishman of 28 years, began work for his share. He built
the first store in El Dorado, which he now occupies, with everything in the line of general merchandise. It is
22x46 feet, two stories, with a good cellar; three rooms on the second floor and well finished throughout."
(This building stood on what is now the site of A. G. Haberlein's clothing house — known as the Sunderland block,
and built by N. F. Frazier in 1878. Mr. Martin lost his life by having his limbs severely frozen while on a buffalo
hunt in 1870 near Medicine Lodge). "Mr. Martin," says the "Times," "has, of course, seen
some hard times, and while he has paid strict attention to business and accumulated his own fortune he has never
forgotten or neglected the interests of the citizens of Butler county; has served one year as probate judge, as
justice of the peace five years, and county treasurer four years, to the entire satisfaction of his constituents.
He now owns within two miles of town 200 acres of all first-class bottom land in a high state of cultivation; a
good saw mill in town, and one-fifth of the original townsite of El Dorado. We mention these things to show what
the Walnut valley can do for a poor man in a short time if he is possessed of the energy, endurance and integrity
that has made Henry Martin the man he really is.
"Judge J. C. Lambdin also came to Butler county in 1857, and in the fall of 1859 was elected to the Territorial
council, where he served with much honor for two years. The judge and his two sons entered the war in 1862 and
valiantly served in the cause of the Union to its close, when they located in Emporia, Lyon county. Knowing by
experience the advantages of the Walnut over the Neosho valley and by the earnest request of their old neighbors
they all returned to El Dorado and in April, 1869, they built the large two-story frame house on the northwest
corner of Main street and Central avenue (the site of the old Boston store — later Haines Brothers' store, now
Hough's cash store) where they are extensively engaged in general merchandising in the firm name of J. C. Lambdin
& Sons. Their store is 22x40 feet with four rooms upstairs and contains a stock of about $6,000. Their goods
are purchased at the fountain of eastern markets and in quantities so large that they can not be undersold. Since
the judge's return he has done much for the interests of El Dorado; his influence being always extended in the
cause of churches, schools and the cause of temperance, and should ever be remembered by the good people of Butler
"Next came Messrs. Betts and Frazier from the city of Leavenworth and opened a first class grocery, provision
store in their (frame) building 26x38 feet on Central avenue. Their business has increased so rapidly that they
are preparing to build a large store building on Main street. These gentlemen have a full stock of goods and are
quite gentlemanly and accommodating in their dealings.
"On lot one, block one, on Central avenue (the house now owned by Mrs. Vincent Brown), is located the only
drug store in the Walnut valley. It is 40x40 feet, with a proprietor about five feet by 240 pounds, which is to
say, Doc White. When gathering the notes from which to prepare this article the doctor said: 'I make no pretensions
financially but physically I am as big as any of 'em.' The doctor has been a long time in Southwestern Kansas,
having succesfully practiced medicine in Lyon county nine years before coming to Butler. He commenced business
here in the fall of 1868 by opening as fine a stock of dry goods and groceries as has ever been offered in this
market, which, together with the doctor's plain, honest and outspoken manner of dealing, soon won a full share
of the people's patronage, and his trade went on swimmingly until last July, when, actuated by the want of the
people, he concluded to sacrifice his flourishing trade in dry goods and groceries and put in his extensive stock
of drugs. This is the first drug store in El Dorado, and to judge from the amount of its trade, we conclude our
citizens fully appreciate it is for the public good and will not allow its generous proprietor to be sacrificed.
His trade is increasing rapidly and the doctor is compelled to enlarge or rather build a new store room, which
he proposes to do at an early date. He is also dealing in real estate considerably. Besides his Emporia property
he owns 15o acres of Wilson's addition and quite a number of lots in the old town site. Our citizens are all pleased
at the doctor's success in business, for to "do unto others as he would have others do unto him," has
ever been the motto of Dr. Allen White.
"Mr. (Thomas G.) Boswell, who owns the beautiful farm connected with the original townsite on the northeast,
has laid out an addition of ten acres, making fifty lots adjoining Lower's addition on the east. The grocery store
of J. B. King, 16x36 feet is situated on the west side of Main street. Mr. King came here in '63 and except the
time he served in the Union army army has been engaged in general merchandise. J. C. Fraker & Company began
business here about the first of last December. Their store is built of first class pine with latest style of glass
front, is located on the northeast corner of Main street and Central avenue. April 1, they will increase their
stock to $10,000 which will necessitate the enlarging of their store house to the size of 23x50 feet. Chas. M.
Foulks (Mr. Fraker's partner) has charge of the store. Mr. Foulks has had a great deal of experience in this line
of business, having clerked for Governor (C. V.) Eskridge of Emporia for a number of years. Messrs. A. D. Knowlton
and Ed C. Ellet, formerly of Bunker Hill, Illinois, located here in the hardware business in the latter part of
December. They built one of the best buildings in town on lot one in block two. It is 16x44 feet with glass front.
They have everything from a needle to an anchor.
Messrs. H. H. Gardner and John Gilmor, late of Chicago, have located in El Dorado and are preparing to wholesale
and retail dry goods, groceries and hardware on a larger scale than any house in southern Kansas. These gentlemen
bring with them Chicago ideas of improvement and are building tbeir store house accordingly. It will cost about
$3200, is two stories, made of good pine timber, with latest style glass front, heavily corniced windows, etc.
For beauty and durability they can safely challenge comparison with any building in the southwest. Our citizens
can justly feel proud of this grand structure and we hope they will reciprocate by giving a liberal patronage to
the new firm. Mrs. M. J. Long (Mrs. E. H. Clark) and Miss Close are preparing to open a complete stock of millinery
in their new building in Lower's addition.
Jacob Gerhart, Esq. who has been here about a year, is doing a successful business. He keeps on hand a large stock
of saddlers' hardware and is an energetic and industrious worker. . . . Here too, we find the shoe shop of Henry
Rohrs. He is a good mechanic and is always busily engaged at his bench. Messrs. Holt and Wagner (butchers) buy
nothing but fat stock and keep the market constantly supplied with the best fresh meats. Messrs. Strickand &
Son are doing an extensive business ironing wagons, shoeing horses, etc. R. Hallett is just completing large livery
stable which he will soon have open for business.
Messrs. Bronson & Kellogg are doing a thriving real estate business. They are among the first settlers and
are of course thoroughly acquainted with the real estate of the Walnut valley. Dr. H. D. Kellogg came here when
an isolated log cabin marked (if he could have seen it through the sunflowers) the present site of our more than
flourishing town. She was young and feeble and of course needed a physician.
. . . D. M. Bronson has served the citizens of Butler county as register of deeds, which has given him a thorough
knowledge of all the titles in the county. He is now county attorney, besides serving the State of Kansas as journal
clerk of the senate. Our citizens all agree that whatever greatness in point of progress and improvements El Dorado
may claim today is in a large degree owing to the energetic efforts of Dr. H. D. Kellogg and D. M. Bronson. Salee,
Gordon & Company are also doing a lively real estate business. W. A. Salee is the present register of deeds.
The law firm of (William) Galligher & Moulton have connected with their practice, a real estate agency. W.
P. Campbell, attorney at law, came here from Kentucky last fall and is gaining a large share in the practice of
his profession. Mr. Campbell has taken a homestead, 160 acres, two miles west of town. Dr. J. C. McGowan came here
a short time since and could get a good practice if this climate was not so unfavorable for his profession. Dr.
E. Cowles, homeopathic physician, has a fair practice. He is principal of our high school. Messrs. Sleeth Bros.
have located their saw mill on West Branch at the north end of Main street. Their machinery is all new. Burdett
& Sheeler are putting in a saw mill five miles south of town. John Wayne & Company, who are doing such
an extensive lumber business all over southern Kansas, have established a branch yard at El Dorado under the supervision
of their accommodating agents, M. B. Raymond. S. P. Barnes is building a neat little office at his lumber yard
on lot No. 1, on North Main street. The following are architects and builders: McFeely & Gordon, Ward &
Potts; and Crimble & DeLong. Each of these firms is prepared to take contracts. D. A. Rice & Company and
Eli Corliss carry on masonry and plastering. John Cook, Esq., is an old settler in Butler county. He opened the
first hotel in El Dorado, has handled considerable real estate property and made lots of money. Mr. S. Langdon
(Sam) came here in an early day and has devoted his exclusive energy to the interest of El Dorado, having among
other things built the El Dorado House, the largest stone structure in Butler county. . . . He is a sharp and shrewd
trader and while keeping an eye to his own business is ever seeking to benefit the community.
T. R. Pittock is truly one of the leading spirits of El Dorado. He is making money rapidly but is keeping it invested
in such a manner as to benefit the public as well as himself. His new mill compares favorably with any in the state.
He has recently purchased the El Dorado House and proposes to enlarge it by an east and west ell 24x30 feet, two
stories, with twelve rooms, which together with the large stone building and the old house repaired will make a
first class hotel. William Jewell, who owns so much land in Butler county, located here in about a year ago. He
purchased one-fifth of the original townsite of El Dorado. Many of the lots he has disposed of at a sacrifice to
induce immigrants to locate and build our town. He very generously donated one of the best lots on the west side
of Main street to the newspaper enterprise, for which he will accept our thanks." And these were the business
men of little El Dorado. The population in 1870 could not have exceeded 400 people. There were about fifty business
and professional men.
The county officers at this time were: W. R Brown of Cottonwood, district judge; H. D. Kellogg, county clerk; Henry
Martin, county treasurer; W. A. Salee, register of deeds; W. E. Harrison, probate judge; James Thomas, sheriff;
J. W. Strickland, coroner; Daniel M. Bronson, county attorney; T. R. Wilson, county surveyor; S. C. Fulton, M.
A. Palmer and Martin Vaught, county commissioners. A. G. Bailey notified that his wife had left his bed and board
and he disclaimed all responsibility for her; and L. A. Phillips gave notice that he had sued Mrs. Phillips for
The lumber price list was: First and second clear, one to two inch, $65 per 1,000 feet; select, $55; common, $45;
flooring, $72; common, $40; ceiling, $55; siding, $27.50 to $32.50; fencing, $40; dimension lumber, 2x4, 2x0, 2x8
and 2x10, $40 to $42.50; "A" sawed shingles, 6.25; No. 1 warranted, $5 to $5.50, mouldings, battens,
etc., manufacturers' prices — freight added. Kellogg & Bronson and other agents advertised land and lots thus:
Dwelling, on lot 2, block 15, North Main street; one story, four rooms, $700. One hundred sixty acres adjoining
El Dorado on the north, all bottom or second bottom timber and water, $3,000; eighty acres, a mile northeast of
town, half bottom, on Emporia State road, $10 per acre; eighty acres on Whitewasher' adjoining town of Towanda,
fine bottom, $8 per acre; the southwest of 21-24-6, all choice bottom near Chelsea, price $1,200; 240 acres, thirty
five cultivated, forty-seven fenced, hewed log house, No. 1 spring, good timber and water, in section 3-25-5, $3,150;
1,440 acres, part of section 7-8 and 9-25-6, forty acres broken and hedged, thirty acres of timber, $6 an acre;
eighty acres in 2-25-5 on West Branch, forty acres broken and under fence, $1,000; 320 acres, the north half of
22-25-5, $5 per acre; southwest of 3-23-7, $3 an acre; west half of 10-23-7, $3 an acre.
"Stock in Butler county is doing exceedingly well, has required a little feed this winter. There are about
sixty boarders at the El Dorado House. The building is crowded to its utmost capacity all the time. A. M. Burdett
is putting up a beauty of a residence at 39 Central avenue. It is 16x28 feet with an addition on the north — cost
$3,000. School district No. 2 built the first stone school house in Butler county. It has a sightly location, six
miles north of town, is 20x30 feet and ten feet between floor and ceiling. E. L. Lower has just moved into his
new residence in block three, Settler street. Mr. Lower has surely grown up with the town, at least he vacates
the oldest house in El Dorado. Having built it before the town was surveyed, it happened to be located in the middle
of Main street and last week he moved the relic to his new home for a. stable. (This cabin stood in front of and
a little north of the Farmers and Merchants National Bank.)
"Our office is located in the second story of Martin's building (southwest), corner of Main street and Central
avenue. We issue 2,000 of the "Times," dating the paper for several days in advance of our issue to give
us time to get out our next issue. Our paper is printed in brevier and nonpareil. We have about forty fonts of
display and job type. Our double medium Washington hand press is entirely new and of the most approved pattern.
We will have a new job press soon. Are prepared to do all kinds of job work cheaply and expeditiously. Our entire
office cost $2,000.
"Persons have asked us how far we were from Indians and buffalo. We will state that we are on the verge of
civilization. About three hours ago the last Indian might have been gathering his blanket around him and silently
departing for more genial climes. He was closely followed by his squaw and faithful dog. The last buffalo, of the
male persuasion, after gazing for a few moments at The Walnut Valley "Times" office, silently dropped
a chip or 'two, or perhaps three, and departed thence, not, however, until we had securely fastened too copies
of the "Times" to his tail. We will say to Eastern readers that the civilizing and enlightening influences
of the papers thus scattered will prevent any more shedding of blood on the border.
"Chelsea, a beautiful town on the Walnut, about nine miles north of El Dorado, was laid out a year ago. There
are eleven houses on the townsite. A new school house, 26x38 feet, one story high, of pine lumber, has been put
up this winter and will be ready for occupancy in a short time. Saddler & Becker (O. E. Saddler and John C.
Becker) are engaged in the merchandizing business. J. B. Shough owns and runs the hotel. The building is a two
story frame of sufficient dimensions to accommodate the traveling public. We understand Mr. Shough is making arrangements
to start a county seat here soon.
"Knowlton and Ellet in connection with their hardware have a tinshop . . . and have secured the service of
Wm. M. Rinehart, with an experience of thirty-five years and cannot be excelled by any firmer in the West. J. B.
Parsons, painter, glazier and paper hanger, has permanently located in El Dorado. Presbyterian Church: Rev. J.
Gordon, pastor; M. E. Church, Rev. Garrison (S. F. C. Garrison?) pastor. Services alternate twice every Sabbath
at the new stone school house." This school house was about 22x30 feet — one story, and stood on the southwest
corner of the block corner First avenue and Washington street.
Murdock & Danford, the editors, advertised themselves as also in the real estate business.
"The first settlement in Butler county," says a description that was run for months and months in the
paper, "appears to have been made in 1857 and '58 on Walnut river, but owing to the drouth of 1860 and the
unsettled and exposed condition during the four years of war succeeding there was no substantial growth until about
1864, when Butler county was organized. The county as at present constituted is forty two miles long and thirty
four and one half east and west. Since 1864 the country has been filling up rapidly, by hardy, industrious people,
representing almost every state and nationality. Butler is the last organized county in southeastern Kansas, is
about 100 miles south of Topeka and 125 west of Fort Scott. There is very little waste. The county lies entirely
west of a chain of semi-mountains known as the Flint Hills. There are no swamps or other accumulation or stagnant
water in the county, hence no malaria. Coal has been found in various places, but is yet undeveloped. The county
seat is permanently established at El Dorado, a young but flourishing town, located very near the geographical
centre of the county and scarcely two years elapsed since the organization of El Dorado and she now numbers about
forty-five houses with as many more contracted for building this spring; but a number are now in process of erection.
Several business houses are going up. We now have three stores of dry goods and general assortment, one drug store,
a hardware store, two grocery stores, a large stone hotel, a fine stone school house' just completed, livery stable,
harness shop, meat shop, four saw and grist mills, two lumber yards, two real estate offices, three law offices,
two practicing physicians, a blacksmith shop, etc. It is possible to become quite excited over the marvelous rapidity
with which our young town is growing into a city; but you need not deem us extravagant when we predict that at
least 125 good buildings will go up here within the present year."