History of Agusta Township, Kansas
From: History of Butler County, Kansas
BY: Vol. P. Mooney
Standard Publishing Company
Lawrence, Kansas 1916

By N. A. Yeager.

Augusta township was organized April 4, 1870, by the board of county commissioners, on petition of C. N. James and others. It included the present territory of Augusta, Bruno, Spring and the north halves of Pleasant; Walnut and Bloomington townships. The following township officers were appointed until the regular election: Daniel Stine, trustee; A. Palmer, treasurer, and C. N. James, clerk. The first election was held at Augusta, May 14, 1870, which was a special election called to vote on the proposition to move the county seat from El Dorado to Chelsea. The vote was 119 for and 9 against. The next election was a special election on June 27, 1870, to vote $25,000 bonds for county buildings at El Dorado. The vote was 253 against and none for the proposition.

At the first general election the following officers were elected: Daniel Stine, trustee; E. R. Powell, treasurer; H. M. Winger, clerk; William Treweeke and W. D. Mead, justices of the peace. At this election the county herd law was also voted upon. The present boundaries of Augusta township were established by the county commissioners April 4, 1870. The town of Augusta was incorporated February 8, 1871, upon the petition of C. N. James and eighty other taxpayers of the town. C. N. James, Thomas H. Baker, W. A. Shannon, G. W. Brown and J. R. Nixon were appointed board of trustees. At the first regular election C. N. James was elected mayor. In 1868, Shamleffer and James opened the first store near the corner of Third and State streets, in a log building, which has since been weather boarded and is now used as a residence. It is now known as No. 309 State street.

On January 2, 1869, the postoffice was established with Mr. James as postmaster, and the postoffice and the town were given the name of Augusta, in honor of his wife, Augusta James. Immediately across the street from the postoffice the first hotel was built and operated by Mr. Mitchell, and is now known as No. 308 State street.

Prior to this time the adventurers and, explorers of this region recognized the commercial importance of this location for a city, and two town companies were formed and platted this location in 1857 and 1858, and its natural advantages were advertised and exploited by the respective promoters in the east. One of these towns was named Arizonia and the other Fontanelle. They were both located on the present townsite. About this time an investigation was had by some of the purchasers of lots, and a survey was made which started from a known boundary line stone on the Neosho river, near Humboldt, and was run due west through this county. It was discovered that the townsites were on the Osage Indian tract and were not subject to sale, and these towns died, as did also the hopes of their founders and the eastern investors to make fortunes. It is said that C. N. James, in 1868, purchased the relinquishment on which the original townsite is located for $40. Daniel Stine is recognized as being the oldest permanent white settler of this township. He came to Butler county in 1858. A man named Hilderbrand had preceded him to this county and took a claim east of El Dorado on what is now the county farm. A few years afterward it is said that Hilderbrand was suspected of conducting some dealings in horses at night which made him unpopular, and he received an urgent invitation to emigrate. There is no record of how or when he departed.

In 1868, the government concluded a treaty with the Indians whereby they relinquished their claim to a strip twenty miles wide on the north side of their reservation. This is known as the Osage Indian trust land, the northern boundary of which is about six miles north of Augusta. In 1869 A. Palmer brought in a saw mill which was located on the west banks of the Walnut river, immediately north of the present residence of Mrs. M. J. Loy. The first residence of the town was erected in 1869, on the corner of State street and Fourth avenue. This building is now occupied and owned by G. W. Obmart, and was built almost entirely of native lumber from the Palmer mill. October 1, 1870, the United States land office was located at Augusta. This was largely due to the influence and energy of Thomas H. Baker, who afterward served in the State legislature. Andrew Akin was registrar and W. A. Shannon, receiver. The land office brought with it a large influx of immigration to this county, and Augusta experienced its first boom. The county settled rapidly, and the flood of immigrants pouring down the valley were enraptured by the broad fertile valleys, the beautiful streams and abundance of walnut and other valuable timber fringing them.

Augusta was especially favored by being in the center from which these fertile valleys radiated. The Whitewater river from the north, the Walnut from the northeast, Indianola creek from the northwest, centered at this point; and Four Mile creek, a few miles to the southwest, and the Little Walnut river and Hickory creek, to the southeast, made an ideal location for the central point of a rich agricultural community. About this time the Santa Fe Railroad Company, recognizing the commercial importance of this point, made a survey from Emporia, with a view to extending its line from that place, but either from lack or grasp of the importance and advantage of this move by the citizens of Augusta, or from some reasons which are not now definitely ascertainable, the railroad company abandoned the project and extended its line west to Newton, and afterward to Wichita, and the land office was moved to the latter place. It is generally conceded by the old time residents that Augusta failed to avail itself of an opportunity which might have changed the map of this part of the state, and in which they were assisted by some of the old time residents of El Dorado.

In September, 187o, The Augusta "Crescent," the first newspaper, was established by A. A. Putnam and L. J. Perry. These editors were succeeded by J. B. Davis, who changed its name to The Augusta "Republican." He was succeeded by U. A. Albin, who in 1874 discontinued the publication with this short valedictory: "The patronage we have received will not justify us in risking a continuance. 'Since self preservation is the first law of nature,' we will endeavor to locate where we can do best." Afterward The Southern Kansas "Gazette" was established by the late Charles H. Kurtz, and in 1880 Mr. Albin repented. returned and established the "Republican."

In 1872 a county seat election was held, in which Augusta received a majority of 206 over El Dorado. The removal of the county seat was contested by El Dorado and the matter was taken into the courts and decided against Augusta on a technicality. This county seat agitation continued for a number of years, to the detriment of both places, and greatly retarded the development of the county. The same year the land office was moved to Wichita. With the loss of the land office and the county seat, the population of Augusta decreased and the speculators, who are the mainsprings in townsite promotion, lost heart and abandoned Augusta for more promising fields. In 1880 the Frisco railroad was completed and Augusta took on new life. In 1881, the Santa Fe extended its line through Augusta to Douglass. Within six months the population doubled and continued to increase steadily for several years. Stone quarries were opened up in this vicinity and good building stone was quarried for local use and for shipment. From 1888 to 1898 the financial stringency over the entire country retarded the progress of Augusta, as well as all the towns in the State, but Augusta still maintained its reputation of being one of the best towns of its size in Kansas because of its favored natural resources.

In 1906, the city (largely upon the advice and earnest solicitation of Mr. Yeager, the writer of this article-Editor), took up the development of gas for municipal purposes and commenced to furnish its citizens with gas at a low rate, and now has a gas plant which is estimated to be worth $100,000, paid for out of the proceeds of the gas. In 1908, the city put in a water system. In 1913, an electric light system was installed, largely paid for out of the gas receipts. In 1916 the city completed a sanitary sewer system. From the development of the oil field, the growth of Augusta has been very rapid; the census shows for 1915 a population of 1,400, and for 1916, 3,575, and is still increasing in the same ratio. Its future growth and importance will be determined largely by circumstances and the wisdom and energy of its citizens.

To the archaeologist Augusta presents an interesting field. Across the Walnut river from the present city are to be found ruins of an ancient city covering many times the territory now covered by Augusta. Here is to be found the evidences of very ancient races of people, and fragments of pottery as ancient as the pyramids of Egypt. Fragments of rock used in the manufacture of tools, which are not found this side of Lake Superior or the Rocky Mountains; hand mills for the grinding of grain, manufactured from stone not found in this vicinity; small mounds extending from section 4 in Walnut township to section 26, Augusta township, representing the accumulations, perhaps, of centuries. In these are the fragmentary evidence that delights the antiquarian and appeals to our imagination and fancy. Here is represented an age in which all implements and cutlery were manufactured of stone. The process of the manufacture of implements and knives and weapons is unknown today, and must have represented the highest skill, evidencing a civilization far above the American Indian.

This location was selected, doubtless, for its commercial advantages as well as from strategic reasons. The three sides of this - to the east, north and west, defines a wall almost perpendicular, ranging from twenty five to fifty feet high, at the foot of which runs the deep channel of the Walnut, making an attack from this direction, with ancient weapons, almost impossible. Here large springs furnish ample water supply of the best character. The Inidan has it that many bloody battles were fought to gain and hold this important point. Doubtless this was the best hunting ground in the mid continent. Here we find the first timbered protection and the first permanent water for the game and animal life which necessarily must have sought shelter from the blizzards and winter storms which swept the plains, and the drought which parched the great American desert. Here the rich valleys afforded game for the primeval inhabitants.

According to Indian tradition, the last great battle was fought in the low grounds between the present site of Augusta and the Whitewater and Walnut rivers. If Indian tradition can be relied upon, many thousand braves in hand encounter battled and perished in this last great struggle for this stronghold, and that several thousands of braves perished in this battle. Whatever may have transpired before the present civilization conquered this territory is largely a matter of conjecture. One civilization succeeding another of different type, one race of people succeeding another different in character, has been the history of all time, doubtless true of this locality. And the importance of this location was recognized and built upon in the histories of all these tribes and races.

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