Getting laid in Kinsley Kansas

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August Vol. Transcribed by lhn; digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society. HERE are occasional instances where an early historical sketch of the beginnings of a community are of sufficient importance to justify reprinting. The one offered here fits the test-J. In fact, few Kansas communities have had the good fortune to have such a history written within five years of the beginnings.

The years and offered a first false promise of prosperity to the Getting laid in Kinsley Kansas who had come just prior to the panic ofand whose cup of adversity had been filled to overflowing by drought and grasshoppers. Obviously Walker was writing for booming purposes and certain reticences were desirable concerning the starving period and local political frauds. For the modern reader it seems helpful therefore to provide some additional information by way of giving a setting for this pioneer.

Walker, the author of the first history of Edwards county, was forty-three years of age when he came to Kansas in the spring of Born in New Hampshire, he had married a Vermont-born woman, but had lived in Massachusetts, which was the birthplace of his five children. He entered a soldier's homestead on section 14, Township 24, Range 19, but supplemented his income by holding local office: Assessor of Kinsley township in and county clerk under the original county organization. On his farm he sowed seven and one-half acres of winter wheat in the fall of and twelve acres of corn in the spring of Two mules provided his farm power and two cows contributed to the support of the family.

The Kansas climate has ever been a subject of discussion, but Walker kept careful records of rainfall at Kinsley from May,to November, The rainfall of and was not as favorable, however, and much of the population migrated, among them Walker, Getting laid in Kinsley Kansas became an emigration agent of the Northern Pacific railroad, ased to his native New England. In describing the beginnings of Kinsley a conspicuous place was given by Walker to the Chicago workingmen's colony and particularly to the Massachusetts colony, of which he was a member, sent out by the Homestead and Colonization Bureau of Boston.

A more idealistic experiment was that of the Fraternal Home and Land Association of Philadelphia under the leadership of a Prof. Wentz, who arrived with his first contingent March 5,and established the seat of the colony, Freemansberg, southeast of Kinsley across the river and the main ridge of sand hills. Two other groups came in April and May, after which there were no further records of arrivals. Plans were announced later for the building of sod houses, plastered inside and outside with lime, a means of overcoming the absence of timber on the plains for building materials and of giving more permanence than the ordinary unprotected sod house of the short grass country.

The outcome is not known, as the press did not report further on this proposal. Wentz hoped to secure a steam plow for the use of his colony, but apparently failed. In fact, within a very short time the whole project collapsed, but here again the local press failed to report, and posterity is left without information on what became of the people who had been brought out from the Far East. It is even unknown whether there were any substantial of city workingmen. The most interesting aspect of the experiment was the recognition at the outset, even though unsuccessful in their solution, of three of the most important problems involved in the adaptation of agriculture to the plains: A device to make available the advantages of adequate capital to the small farmer, native building materials which would free the plains from economic vassalage to the humid, timbered country, and mechanical farm power.

Other projects mentioned in the local papers were a Baltimore workingmen's association, and a French Catholic colony, but there is no evidence that any settlers were ever brought out under their auspices. Louis, Cincinnati and western New York, and to the advertising activities of the German Emigration society of Edwards county.

The Kinsley Graphic Getting laid in Kinsley Kansas, May 4,discussed the colony question in an editorial, saying that "as a rule they are successful failures. That is, as failures they are a success. The organized-colony idea was a type of social idealism which was attractive to many people of that decade who were interested in social reform and the betterment of the condition of the poorer classes.

Many of these schemes were deed to facilitate the migration of industrial workingmen of the East to Western agricultural lands. The Chicago and Massachusetts enterprises were launched inprior to the panic and depression which began inbut neither transplanted industrial workers.

The Chicago association appears not to have sent any settlers except the location committee, and the Massachusetts colonists were mostly farmers. After the depression set in there is no record of additional colonists sent out by the Massachusetts organization and later census records show that very few came from that area. None of the projects originating in the depression period resulted in migration. Exceedingly few individual settlers came during the depression period proper.

This is only another historical illustration of the fact that the frontier did not serve as a safety valve through which the problems of recurrent American depressions were solved. On the contrary, the evidence of population movement is conclusively in the opposite direction, and the locals in the Kinsley newspapers made frequent mention of the return to the East of those who turned their faces toward their old homes. The establishment of the neighboring town of Offerle near the western edge of the county was mentioned by Walker.

Lawrence Offerle and his sons were among the most influential, if not the dominant members in the early life of the community, operating a general store as well as agricultural enterprises. The post offIce called Belpre near the eastern edge of the county was established as early asbut the town was not laid out until the railroad was built south of the river in His house, intended for a hotel, was reported to have been 28 by 42 feet and three stories above a full basement, and illuminated by gas manufactured on the premises.

A three-story mill was built, with equipment for grinding flour, feed and for shelling corn. The plan was to use wind power, but the windmill was supplemented by a steam engine. In Fitch raised corn, barley, millet, sweet potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes and other products, and became postmaster and railroad station agent. There seemed to be no limit to his ambitions and energy.

Disaster pursued him, however, his wife dying in March and he being killed in an accident in July, His estate was liquidated the following Getting laid in Kinsley Kansas and Nettleton Fitchburg soon fell into obscurity. As most of the county lay south and east of the Arkansas river, the bridging of that stream was an essential public improvement.

The bonds were voted by the county July 29,and the structure was reported completed in March, The contractors had used timbers shorter than specified in the contract, and defective material, even after it had been condemned, had been built into the bridge. The county declined to accept the bridge until alterations had been made to increase its strength and efficiency, and until concessions had been made in the cost.

At first only two rooms were finished; the undivided second floor, 35 by 50 feet, was used as a public hall. On April 30, On April 1 a three months' spring term was scheduled to open. The editor of the Republican protested in June, and again in September,appealing to the parents for cooperation in terminating the practice and warned that in case of failure arrests would follow. City pride in the school building was soon dissipated when the walls cracked and crumbled. In it was torn down, the local. The tearing down of the old central school building discloses a rascally piece of work on the part of the contractor who built it.

Thousands of brick in the walls never were burned at all. They are simply mud bricks. Anyone who will put such brick in the walls of a public school building deserves a term in the legislature. Of the eighty-five families in Edwards county inseventy-five had taken land and, according to occupation, the landed families were distributed as follows: Fifty-two farmers; five carpenters; three painters; nine other trades represented by one each hotelkeeper, lawyer, mason, millwright, shoemaker, surveyor, clerk, chair-maker, railroad agent and six with no occupation deated.

In one case a man had filed on both a soldier's homestead and a timber claim. Conspicuously, these first settlers took government, not railroad land, and therefore it was the liberal land laws and particularly the soldiers' homestead law that served as the original attraction in this particular instance. The further indication of the drift of land occupation was announced from time to time by summaries of locations made by the local real-estate agents.

Thus, for the month of March,the record stood: Preemption, eleven; homestead declaratory, seventeen; homestead entries, eight; timber culture, thirteen. Near the end of April,the report was that more than one hundred persons had settled over the river and all government land was taken along the Comanche county road southward to within a few miles of the Rattlesnake. The state census data of show an average age for eighty farm operators of The age distributions are given in the table and show comparatively few in the twenties, the largest group being in the thirties, although twenty percent of the men were forty-five or above, or almost exactly the same proportion as were below thirty.

The eldest was sixty-five and the youngest man or woman was twenty-two. The separation of single from married men emphasizes that sixteen of the nineteen in the twenty-year-old group were single and that twenty-seven of the thirty-five of the thirty-year-old group were married. In other words, the permanent backbone of this frontier was not young married couples starting life and expecting to grow up with the country, but rather middle-aged people with families.

Getting laid in Kinsley Kansas families had sixty-two children of their own, or about two per family, besides a total of five other children being raised in these families. The sources of Edwards county population as of were somewhat unusual.

Of seventy men whose place of birth was recorded thirty-four were born in New England, mostly in upper New England, and nineteen of the forty women. The next largest groups were from the North Atlantic states, and foreign born from Germany, England and Ireland. Forty-eight of the seventy men came to Kansas from New England, particularly from Massachusetts as their place of last residence, and the next largest group, seventeen incame from the North Central states east of the Mississippi river.

Only three of the sixteen foreign born came direct from the. The agricultural schedules of the county for the census of recorded the crop program of seventy-two farms. Of these, sixty- four farmers planted corn that spring, averaging thirteen acres each; twenty-six farmers averaged eight acres each of winter wheat planted in the fall of and one farmer planted spring wheat in ; sixteen farmers planted barley and twelve planted oats; in each case an average of three acres.

Of other crops, three farmers planted rye and one farmer each planted sorghum, millet, potatoes and sweet potatoes. On ten farms orchards had been started. Unquestionably, corn was the predominant crop, and twenty-five farmers planted nothing else, the corn acreages on these farms ranging from three to ten acres. Even if the season had been favorable, which it was not, the county would not have produced enough grain to feed itself. The livestock equipment of these farms consisted of seventy-eight horses distributed among thirty-eight operators, supplemented by eight mules on five farms; sixty cows scattered among twenty-nine owners; seventy-two other cattle among twenty-six owners; and twenty-nine hogs among eleven owners.

Four farmers owned sheep, but most of the sheep and 1, pounds of wool were credited to two men. No livestock of any kind was listed on twenty-five farms.

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Three farmers reported poultry or eggs sold, and eight a total of pounds of butter made during the preceding year. Clearly, the meat supply was as deficient as the grain supply. Although the dollar figures for the value of machinery equipment of farms may not be reliable, yet their general ificance is inescapable. Twenty-one listed no personal property. In view of the deficiencies in other respects this item was more favorable than might be expected, as twenty-five of the whole reported worth or over. Appeals were made to the President of the United states for aid to be distributed from army stores at Fort, Larned, but requests were denied as congress had not pro.

Thomas A. Osborn wrote to one group of settlers under the date of December 20,saying that he understood that a local relief board was functioning at Petersburg under the direction of Capt. Niles, who would give aid in case of necessity. No further information has been forthcoming regarding this situation, but the reference to Niles suggests that possibly the source of funds was the Boston organization which had sponsored the Massachusetts colony.

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In the season of the drought, followed by the grasshopper scourge, added to the distress which would in all probability have been serious enough in this primitive plains settlement because the nation as a whole was in the depths of economic depression. A Getting laid in Kinsley Kansas relief committee as well as the federal government through the various army posts distributed food, clothing and coal.

On December 13,C. Hubbs, who had been appointed by Governor Osborn to act in Edwards county, reported to the governor that fifty-nine persons were in need. In view of the fact that there were only persons in the county, this would indicate that one-fourth of the population was on the list. The santa Fe railroad advanced seed wheat in the fall of to settlers along its line, allowing a maximum of fifteen bushels per farm. Not until did the county begin to show s of recovery, but by immigrants were coming into the region in large s.

It is evident that the organization of Edwards county was accomplished by means of a fraudulent census, and for some reason it was allowed to stand, although the legislature declined to seat the representative until Without rivers to afford natural facilities for transportation, the railroad had been the necessary preliminary to settlement as applying to the whole sub-humid West.

That fact has been rather generally recognized by historians, but an equally important one not clearly understood is that so small a population and so little property could not have maintained either the settlement it self or a local government had it not been for the railroad. In J. Walker called attention to the distribution of property holdings in the county. The railroad valuation constituted over eighty-six percent of the whole. Nonresident property was negligible and resident property was mostly personal rather than real estate and was mostly lost to taxation because of legal exemptions.

It was pointed out that homesteaders would avail themselves of the maximum time of seven years to prove up and take patents and only then would their land become taxable.

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Preemptors would take advantage of the grasshopper law which extended the time for making payments so that such land would not generally become taxable until The company pays about 95 percent of the taxes. The particular occasion for bringing this situation out into the open was the controversy over the voting of bonds for a courthouse and jail. An "Old settler" argued that there were not enough people; that the most of the county lay across the river and the settlers had not been there long enough to qualify for voting; and that later it might be desirable to remove the county seat to some point across the river nearer the center of the county.

Getting laid in Kinsley Kansas

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