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Butler County's Eighty Years, Richland Township


Butler County's Eighty Years, Richland Township

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Richland Township, Butler County Kansas

Pleasant Township, Butler County Kansas


History of Richland and Pleasant Townships, Butler County Kansas


Clymer, Rolla


Butler County's Eighty Years by Rolla Clymer
Lois Mitchell (annotated)


Rose Hill Public Library, Rose Hill, Kansas


1870 - 1909


Mitchell, Lois







Clymer, Rolla, “Butler County's Eighty Years, Richland Township,” Digital Rose Hill, accessed July 28, 2021,

In March, 1873, Lewis B. Hull and family preempted a claim in section 10 of Richland Township, _ later moving to section 11, where he built a house, planted a blue grass lawn with a hundred rosebushes, and an orchard with every manner of fruits. After Mr. Hull’s death, in 1902, 'his son, 0. J. Hull, occupied the farm until it was sold in 1912.
L. B. Hull’s brother, John Hull, took the land just west of the Diamond School site; and Mrs. L. B. Hull’s brother, Tom Sinclair, built his home a mile farther west
Section 1 was occupied in 1874, by J. H. Hodge, who had come with his family and the Tate family from Tennessee.
Previous to 1874, Richland Township was a part of Douglass Township, but in January of that year it became a separate political unit. H. B. Furgeson seems to have been the man Who first suggested the name “Richland." The first township election was, held April 19, 1874, in a claim house owned, by Mrs. Snodgrass. The first election board was composed of Smith Goodspeed, F. Fleck, M. H. Lee, J. H. Lowery, and L. D. Himebaugh. The first township officers were as follows: L. B. Hull, trustee; B. M. Hodgin, clerk; A. J. Cramer, treasurer; Smith Goodspeed and J. Vanhouton, justices; and F. Fleck and John Oldham, constables. Several of these men served as township officers a number of times in the next decade. L. B. Hull was trustee for six or eight years, and L. D. Himebaugh also served several terms in that office, as did James McCluggage and B. M. Hodgin. The best known justice of the peace was Smith Goodspeed, who handed down several memorable decisions. Other justices were H. B. Furgieson, L. D. Himebaugh, James Walton, J. H. Price, H. G. Staley, John Oldham, L. B. Hull, and the Rev. Mr. Woodward. Three early county commissioners- were chosen from Richland Township—Lafe Stone, A. Master-son, and L. B. Hull. (John Davies, son of a Richland pioneer, is now serving as county commissioner.)
The year 1873 was a fairly productive one, and those who stored up grain were particularly fortunate, for in August of 1874, following a severe drouth, came the grasshopper plague, the theme of more jeremiads than any' other in Kansas, with the possible exception of the Border Warfare. How these pests swarmed in great clouds, darkening the sun like an eclipse, and then swooped down upon fields and gardens, devouring everything and leaving behind desolation and despair, is a matter of history.'
Not quite so well known, however, is the story of the aid that was sent to the devastated regions from the East, during the “aid winter" of 1874-1875. Augusta being the county supply headquarters, everything was sent there and was then apportioned to the different township committees, who distributed it to the respective townships. The aid distributing point for Richland Township was the home of Deacon Harris, one mile west of the center of the township: “Here," says Mr. Himebaugh, “nearly all the Richlanders met on the first and third Saturdays of each month, more to see each other than to receive aid . . . The style of wearing apparel placed on exhibition for distribution caused much amusement. They were the cast off garments of forty years ago, gathered from attics “way down East,” such as old Shaker and pasteboard bonnets, stovepipe hats with ventilators in the top, homespun dress skirts, striped threadbare shawls, and swallow-tailed, cutaway coats. There were many ludicrous misfits, when the garments were tried on. Women with dainty feet flapped about in huge brogans, and small boys looked like scarecrows in the long coats of grown-ups. The food sent for distribution was more appropriate, consisting of corn meal, flour, sugar, beans, coffee, bacon, and dried fruit.
One of the greatest blessings was the congressional donation of seeds, the best in the country, for planting in the spring of 1875. Within ten years Richland Township donated, in turn, a car load of corn to the Ohio Valley flood sufferers.
A few years after the grasshopper plague, another invasion occurred, which, so far as the writer knows, has never been recorded, yet it is unique and it belongs particularly to Richland Township. Mrs. L. B. Hull told the incident after this fashion: “One morning Bob Hodgin dropped in at our house with the surprising announcement, ‘The toads are coming!’ He led the way to the Diamond School section line road, and sure enough, there they came! Millions of toads swarmed down the road, covering it from hedge to hedge, filling the wagon tracks, pouring steadily eastward. My small son, Myron, filled a bucket with them, whirled them around,
. and then poured them out into the road again. 'Every toad righted himself, and facing the east, continued his steady march. For days the migration swept by. Nothing could turn them from their course. They popped and crunched under the wagon wheels, the ruts running with blood. Their invasion was harmless, for they always kept to the road. Whence they came and whither they went, nobody ever knew. But the toads knew!”
Richland Township during the pioneer days was swept by several destructive fires, usually caused by Indians firing the prairies along the southern border of the state. Mr. Himebaug.h relates that in October of 1871 one of these fires spread over the township, destroying much property and causing one death, that of George Cliue, who was fatally burned while trying to save his claim shanty from the. flames.
; But in spite of fire, drouth, grasshopper plagues, hog cholera epidemics, and mortgages, the people of Richland were, for the most part, prosperous and happy. Jake Van Buskirk, in answer to someone's question about the hardships of the pioneer period, once explained it thus: “Well, sir, it was just this way: Our garments
Richland. was part of Walnut Township according to Anreas- 1885
waxed not old in those days, and we subsisted principally on grasshoppers, buffalo meat, dead prairie chickens, jack rabbits, slippery elm bark, and catfish.”
In spite of hard times, these pioneers managed to enjoy life. Society knew no class distinctions, for all were alike poor. Some of the most popular young bachelors wore paper collars, because linen ones were too expensive. Parties and dances were frequent at the claim shanties, which were open alike to gay festivities and revival meetings. Literary societies also flourished. The first of these in the town-ship was the John Gardner home, December 14, 1872, the organizers being Miss Maria Walton (later Mrs. L. D. Himebaugh), Mrs, John Weston and her daughter, Jennie (Mrs. James McCluggages, Smith Goodspeed, and John Gardner.
This was principally a debating society, such questions as “female” suffrage, the credit system, and the herd law being discussed. The participants were Messrs.
Gardner, Goodspeed, Roberts, Berger, Tucker, Walker, Gayman, Stansberry, Carlton, and Furgeson, and Mrs. Weston. Meetings were held at Maple Creek School.
Soon after the completion of the Diamond School house, in 1878, a second literary society was organized “the leading lights being L. B-. Hull and sons, and Messrs.
Sinclair, Williams, Davis, Cox, Pickett, and Hodgin.” yocal and instrumental music was furnished by “Beech” Hull, the Hodgin brothers, Tom Sinclair, Clara Weston,
Mrs. L. B. Hull, and others.
The third literary society met at Providence, in 1883-1884, .participants being Messrs. Giesy, Bannon, McKay, Worlc, Furgeson, and Himebaugh. Spelling matches and singing schools also furnished enjoyable evenings.
The citizens of Richland have always been greatly interested in education, but the first schools were held under great difficulties. The state, law required that a newly formed district must maintain a school for three months, under a qualified teacher, before it was entitled to state school funds. The money for this term had, therefore, to be raised by subscription and some claim house donated for the school’s use. District 63 was the first to organize. The first school was taught in the spring of 1873, by Mrs. Freeman, at $15 a month, at the James Lee; house, a mile and a half west of the Holcomb place. The district was very large'; and as there were no roads of any kind, the patrons had a furrow run with a' breaking plow, from the northwest corner of the district to the school house, to aid the pupils in getting to school. j . :
In 18'74 District 8 was organized and was th'e first in the township to erect a school building through the aid of bonds. In 1878, District 81 erected a building, and in the same year the fine stone school building in District 78, known as the Diamond School, was erected, where it has stood as a landmark for fifty-six years.
In less than a decade from the date of its organization, Richland .Township had seven public school buildings, where school was held from three to seven months a year. . .
The writer' regrets that she does not have a complete record of those pioneer teachers who laid so well the foundation Of the educational system of the township. Well-educated men and women they were, who gave their time and effort as freely as if they had received munificent salaries instead of a meager, uncertain stipend. Mrs. Freeman, previously mentioned, was one of these early teachers, as was also L, B. Hull, who numbered among his pupils K. M. Holcomb, later to become-county superintendent of public instruction.- His sister, Florence Holcomb Olmstead, also held this office'.”; She began teaching at the age of sixteen, and literally gave her life to the causes of education and reform. Many others were trained in. the. country schools of the-township to become-men and women of influence throughout the world. There was something in the' training of the dfstrict schools that made for moral character and stamina, for individual thinking and initiative. They were the most democratic institutions on earth, and we have lost something precious in their passing, inevitable and necessary' though the change to the consolidated schools was. i •
" On the completion of the Santa Fe railroad from Augusta to Mulvane, the town and post office of old Rose Hill were-moved a mile west, where the1 now thriving town of Rose Hill is located. The “new” Rose Hill district was organized in 1890.
Some years later, after much agitation and planning, a $10,000-building was erected for a consolidated high school, whose first term began September, 1909 with more than two hundred students. The school has continued to improve and; prosper until it is now one of the best schools of its size in the county.
Later the southern part of Richland Township formed a consolidated district,-with a modern, commodious building near the site of the old Pleasant Valley School house. This, like the Rose Hill building, is a community center, where athletic
** A new district was not organized. The old Rose Hill was split in the middle georgaphica ly. The new district was Excelsor # 169. The Rose Hill school moved one mile to the west and Excelsor stayed in the old building.
This was in 1900. Four or more districts consolidated in 1908,- 1st. term--Fall of 1908 146 pupils.
Information from County School records, El Dorado, Ks
* Rail road was built by Chicago, Kansas and Western —--------------------------------
Railroad Co. and sold to Santa Fe several years later information from Mitchell abstract.
events and literary programs are held. These two consolidated schools now accommodate all the pupils of Richland Township. !'
In the summer of 1872, a year before the first day schools were organized, the first Sunday School was established in the township, at the claim house of Miss Maria Walton, who, with her brothers," was the “prime mover” in the undertaking. The school was moved to the home of Mr. Hatch, and later to the Maple Creek school house. A little later a Union Sunday School was organized in northern Richland by Mr. and Mrs. John Haines, H. C. Staley, and others. Mr. Green of the Methodist Church held a series of meetings at the Stansberry home. The Adventist followers also conducted meetings at the claim home of B. M. Hodgin.
In 1884, the Methodists erected the Pleasant Hill Church building, the first in the township. Two other Methodist churches were later erected at Rose Hill and at Red Bud.
In the late seventies, the Church of Christ under the leadership of Elders Harvey, Barrett, and Yard, conducted several meetings. Later a building, Richland Chapel, was erected and the congregation grew under the leadership of Elders Wright, Cain, and Olmstead. Others who helped build up this church were the Stones, Lichlyters, Holcombs, McCluggages, and Chaunceys.
The people of these first churches held firm convictions as to the doctrines of their respective churches. Debates between those of different persuasions were common, and interest often ran high. Mr. Himebaugh writes of one of these debates, which has become a matter of history because of its dramatic conclusion. The debate was held on a sultry July afternoon, in 1879, but was unceremoniously broken up by the approach of a “twister” from the southwest, the first “cyclone”--Richland Township. It struck the house of John Nichols, demolishing it but hurting no one, as the family found safety in a storm cave. The tornado continued in a northwesterly direction, filling with terror another congregation assembled at the Diamond School. The storm cloud collapsed before it reached the school house, to the great relief of the writer's father, who from his home was watching it approach the stone school house, where his family was. From that time on, Richland Township seemed a favorite frolicing place for cyclones for many years.
(One of the most distinctive religious colonies in Kansas was, and is, the Society of Friends settlement at Rose Hill, in Richland and Pleasant townships.) (The first of these “Quakers” to come to Kansas was H. C. Staley, who came from Chat-, ham County, North Carolina, to Emporia in 1870 and to Richland Township in 1871. ) The next year came Jonathan Hodgin and Milton Woody. The wives of these three men were sisters, Mary Staley, Rebecca Hodgin, and Leanna Woody, all from North Carolina. The Staley and Hodgin families settled near Rose Hill, and the Woodys in section 2, on the Eight Mile farm still in the Woody family.
(The most important advent, however, was that of Michael and Rhoda Cox.] (The Quakers never used the titles, Mr. and Mrs.) (They too came from North Carolina and settled in 1872 a mile west of the; Woody place and opposite the first Hull house)
With this nucleus, the Quaker meeting was organized, but it was not granted its own “Monthly Meeting” until 1878. 1881 the Quaker Church was built two
miles east of Rose Hill. (Michael Cox was chosen as the head of the church, serving it devotedly until his death in 1892, when his son, Reuben, took his place, father and son thus guiding the congregation for more than fifty ye^-rsJ
(The first pastor was Jonathan Ballard whose daughter,,Mrs. Lou Colwell, still lives in Rose Hill, where her daughter, Mrs.'Mina Silknitter,’is postmistress. Others who were instrumental in upbuilding the church were Mr. and. Mrs. Nathan Davis, whose daughters Lavina, Essie, and Stella, have become community leaders; John P. Davis, a fine citizen and a faithful member; Jesse, Hannah, and Emma Stanley; the six sons of Elias Hinshaw, one of whom, Clark, became a well-known minister of the church; the’ Calvin Wells family; Joe Hodson and Robert Hodgin.
Perhaps, the* best known pastor of the church was Daniel Pickett, a man wise in counsel anti eloquent of speech, whose death in 1933 was universally lamented.
The influence of the Rose Hill Society of Friends has extended far. It has sent out many pastors and teachers, one of whom, Carson Cox, died on the mission fields in China', where his wife, Versa Pjtts Cox, still carries on the work. Rose Hill has been the mother church of the congregations established in Haviland, Argonia, and Wichita, and has given material support to Friends' University.
The Old Quaker meeting house has been replaced by a modern one, with musical instrument, choir, and paid pastor. Many of its quaint customs have disappeared, but the descendants Of Michael Cox, John P. Davis, and the other pioneer leaders are faithful to their teachings and have made the Rose Hill community a prosperous, law-abiding people, who do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God.
The Richland pioneers are nearly all gone. The recent deaths of James Mc-Cluggage and Robert Hodgin leave only one pioneer of Richland Township of the early seventies, Dick Reed, who still owns his claim farm on the Eight Mile. Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Hull, his neighbors in the eighties, recently celebrated their golden wedding at their home in Wichita.
One of the pioneer women of Ricbiand Township, Mrs. Mary Haines, mother of Stella, Roy, and Ephraim Haines of Augusta, has been honored as Butler County’s best known pioneer woman. The writer hopes that the time will come when there will be erected somewhere in the state, perhaps on Me. Oread, in Lawrence, Kansas, a memorial to all those pioneer men and women who aided materially in building our commonwealth, and in such a memorial should appear many names of Richland Township pioneers.
From Butler County’s Eighty Years I by Rolla Clymer
___________ BUTLER COUNTY’S EIGHTY YEARS_____________________________________
(My:a E. Hull)
Richland Township forms the southwest corner of Butler County, thus being the center of chat rich farm region now comprising Butler, Cowley, Sedgwick', and Sumner counties. The first ^vhite settlement in the township was made in the summer of 1868 by John Strock, James Olmstead, and Harve Hendeison. The following year Andrew Liddle, M. G. Jones, and H. Kellems added their cabins to the settlement on Eight Mile Creek. This stream, beautifully wooded with walnut, locust, sycamore, redbud, and sumac, winds diagonally across the township from northwest to southeast. Those first settlers, who had come through the bare Flint Hills region in eastern Butler County were delighted with the valleys of the Walnut River and Eight Mile Creek, although except for these streams, the unbroken-prairie stretched as far as the eye could see, without a sign of human habitation.
Occasionally, cowboys with herds of longhorn cattle passed through the region on their way to Abilene, through Wichita. L. D. Himebaugh speaks of having seen these herds almost daily as late as the summer of 1870, after which the increase of settlers interfered, forcing the trail west of the Arkansas River to Dodge City. K. M. Holcomb in his recent book, Pioneers, relates a. most interesting- account of the stampeding of a herd of longhorns by a group of children who had been menaced by them while returning home from school.
L. D. Himebaugh, who preempted a claim in southern Richland in 1870, and became one of its foremost citizens, writes in Money's History of Butler County:
“Deer, antelope, wild turkey, and raccoons were quite numerous, affording both sport and meat in their capture. Mr. Couch and his sons (later of Oklahoma fame) would often, indulge in that sport, between the Walnut and the Arkansas. The writer well remembers when at one time his newly made garden suffered a tramping up By two does and a buck, leading four hounds, followed by several broncos and riders who never so much as halted to- offer an apology for their intrusion.” '
Dick Reed, who also came to Richland in 1870, taking land on Eight Mile Creek, enjoyed several buffalo hunts in the valley of the Arkansas River.
Exports at this time consisted principally of hides from longhorn cattle that had failed to weather the winter, furs of mink, otter, wolf, and raccoon, an occasional deer pelt, and feathered game. These were wagoned to Emporia, the nearest railway-station, and exchanged for farm machinery, food supplies, and other necessities. Common hardships drew these early settlers together. Each man shared freely-his meager store with his neighbor. “The latch string was always out, and it was not considered trespassing for one neighbor to stop and get feed for his horse and himself, in the absence of the proprietor.”
The community, was, for the most part, a quiet, law abiding one, but eastern Richland and Douglass townships were for a number of years infested by a gang of horse thieves with accomplices just over the border in the Indian Territory. Growing tired of these depredations, a Vigilantes committee was organized, and in November of 1870, four of the suspected men were quietly spirited from their homes and hanged. Within a month four more were dispatched, and the work of the Vigilantes was over. ., , .
Before 1870, the region bordering Butler County on the south' was that part of the Indian Territory known as the “Thirty Mile Strip,” or diminished Osage Indian Reserve. Across the southern part of what is now Cowley County there also extended a three mile strip, reserved as a pathway for the Cherokees on their westward hunting trips. A great Osage trail spread across Cowley. County to the Flint Hills. Bands of begging Indians often rove across the border into Richland Township, and there were frequent rumors of Indians on the warpath, but they were all false. One such rumor spread by a couple of practical jokers caused all the men, women, and children to leave their homes and flee to the woods and hills in Douglass Township. But the Indians did no harm, except petty pilfering and begging. One of the earliest recollections of the writer is of the visit of an Indian, who came to her home begging for flour, “chicky,” and “hoggy meat.”
July 15, 1870 is one of the most important dates in the history of southern Butler, for on that day the government, having acquired the Osage lands through treaties, opened the region to settlement. A flood of immigration followed, chiefly from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and North Carolina, many of the newcomers stopping to make their homes in the rich valleys of the Walnut River and Eight Mile Creek.
One of the first of these settlers to arrive was E. Copeland, who settled in section 35, and became wealthy as a grower of Merino sheep. In the same year H. B. Ferguson took a claim in section 31 and Levi Williams in section 5.
In 1872 Jarqes McCluggage preempted the land a mile south of the site of Rose Hill, where he built a house that is still the McCluggage place. The same year the Turner Holcomb 'family arrived from Indiana and settled in the south-central part of the township, their home becoming one of the most hospitable ones in the township.- In the same year, also, B, M. Hodgin built his bachelor claim house west of the site of the Friends Church. His house became a center for all community gatherings, political meetings, revival meetings, or old-fashioned country dances. After his marriage, to Leota Hodgin, he built an attractive cottage, which is now the home of their 'daughter,'Mrs. Rudolph • Nelson, arid her family. R. L. Hodgin, B. M. Hodgin’s brother, took land just south of the Friends Church, of whose congregation he was a devoted member until his death, in 1933. !
Pleasant Township was organized March 11, 1873, out of the territory known as township 28, range three. These officers were elected at the home of Thomas McKnight: A. H. Dunlap, trustee; J. E. Milton, treasurer; E. J. Pyle, clerk; N. W. Runnells and H. G. Russell, justices of the peace; James Stroup and Sam Allen, constables.
In July 1871, J. F. Glendenning and Byron McKinney traveled over several counties, including Butler, Sedgwick, Summer, Cowley, Wilson, Howard and Greenwood in a prairie schooner. Not finding any place as enchanting as Butler County, they located in Pleasant Township.
Glendenning wrote: The first man wo met in Pleasant was Henry Freeman. We camped for dinner on a creek adjoining Mr. Freeman’s corn field, and bought a bushel of corn from him for 25 cents. (Mr. Freeman was a Union soldier during the Civil War. He reared ten children. Miss Lizzie Freeman married Byron McKinney. She was a splendid wife and he was one of the best men I ever knew. We lived on adjoining farms 20 years.)
We camped the first night at Mr. Lane’s, father of George Banc, ex-clerk of the district court of Butler County.
The next man we met was Ephraim Yeager, who had just built a frame bouse to shelter his wife and two baby girls. However,, in October, a prairie fire burned his house with all its contents and about .$300 in money. The fire devastated the country, burning houses, stables, cows, horses, wagons and hay. Mr. Yeager, was an Indian fighter in Oregon and California and also a veteran of the Union army. If was in this fire that.Mr. Herod, a school teacher, lost his life. His clothes were almost burned off but he managed to reach Eight Mile Creek, near where Liie father of Marion Jones, lived. They took care of him the best they could but he died four days later.
One day, as we approached the little creek of Eight Mile, wo discovered an open shed. We walked inside and found a young bachelor by the name of Osborn with a broken leg, but not complaining. He said that Dr. Hill had been there and reduced the fracture and some of his near neighbors were caring for him.
Among pioneers was the family of Rev. A. H. Dunlap. The family organized an orchestra and gave splendid music at our literary society at Old Harmony school house, which was destroyed by a tornado, March 31, 1892. L. S. Dunlap was a trustee of the township.
On the banks of the beautiful stream of Four Mile Creek resided the families of Nathan Hide and the Russells. The Russell girls were some of Butler County’s best teachers. There also lived John Q. Chase, a trustee several years, and John Kibby, the cattle king of the township.
A name that will live long in the minds and hearts of the good people of Pleasant Township is Theodore McKnight, noted for his good words and works. He lived with his daughter, Mrs. Nathan Chance, one of the strong characters for purity and uprightness of Augusta. One of his sons, Thomas McKnight, of Pleasant Township, was a veteran soldier of the Union army. With energy and indomitable will, he succeeded in building a fine home. W. A. McKnight, another son, was one of the strong men of the township. His daughter Ola, married Will Commings, Jr., who made a success in life.
Another substantial citizen was Joe Hall. Mrs. Hall was his equal in stability of character. Joe was wounded in the Civil War, T. F. Hall was another of the substantial citizens. His wife was the daughter of Captain Webb, and sister of U. S. Webb, later attorney general of California.
There was the Webb Reynolds family, always helpful in improving the community. They really enjoyed frontier life, and were happy at all times. The Matt Skinner family helped make Pleasant Township. Mrs. Skinner was one of Butler's best school teachers. The William Cummingses reared two girls and seven boys. And there was another man true to the principles of democracy, that dear old boy, Cale John. The Billowes, Prays, Pyles, Dinnets, Johnstons and Marion Franklin located-in what is now Pleasant Township in 1869.
From Butler County's Eighty Years by Rolla Clymer

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