From a series of articles detailing visits to Franklin County townships in the
Ottawa Republican, Aug. 16th, 1877
Fertile Farms, Intelligent Farming, Prosperous Farmers
The Lower Middle Creek Country
The Champion Stock Range of the County
A Rich Agricultural District
Graphic Description of the Country
A Grand Opening For Settlers
The Avant Couriers of Civilization
Explosion of a Popular Myth.
THE HOME OF OLD JOHN BROWN
His Sturdy Sons and Their Claims
How the Border Ruffians Burned Their Homes
A Baptist Minister as Scout and Guide
The Fruit Gardens of Eastern Franklin
RISE AND FALL OF MOUNT VERNON
The Granger Element in Detail
Cutler township is one of the four divisions which comprise the eastern tier of townships in the county. In point of natural advantages for diversified farming it is second to no portion of Franklin county. It presents a varied surface calculated to offer attractions to all classes of farmers. The “Hoosier” from the timber bound bottom lands of Posey county, can here find the same stump encumbered land, though of a far superior soil, for the cultivation of which he is fitted by long experience; along the creek ridges the sheep raiser from the land of “wooden nutmegs” will find the same cheap stone-ridden ranges with which he has been acquaint from boyhood days; the “Wolverine,” who graduated from the sand fields of Lake Michigan, may here make choice of a warm soil. Light as an ash-heap and fertile as “the promised land;” the “Sucker,” fond of broad, clean table-lands, with a horizon sweeping into eternity, may make his soul content here; the “Rover,” whose heart delights in wide ranges of rolling prairie with convenient dips to creek or river, may well exclaim “Eureka” as he views this country—in fact, be he from Maine or Texas, longeth he to shuck corn or thresh wheat, the Man of Agriculture can suit his most fastidious taste with a choice farm to his particular liking in this township. Its surface is that of a gently rolling prairie, traversed by several creeks, its northern and eastern boundaries being crossed and recrossed by the Marias (sic) des Cygne(s) river and Middle Creek. There is, along these streams, a bountiful supply of valuable timber, and there are but few farms which are not plentifully supplied therewith.
THE HAND OF SPECULATIVE GREED
has fastened its festering clutch on a very considerable portion of the township areas, and broad sections of unbroken land lie dormant under the curse of a non-resident ownership. Especially is this the case in the western and south-western portions of the township., Here are nearly eight thousand acres of wild lands lying in a body, over which the plow has never yet traced a furrow and additional lots of open land are scattered all through the township. This vacant land is as richly endowed with fertile soil and eligible farm situations as is the balance of the township—it was gobbled by speculators in an early day, and has been held above the reach of the average settler, ever since. But while a wall of greenbacks beat back the plow and corn-planter, the fair expanse of grassy luxuriance has been utilized as a stock range by surrounding farmers, and droves of cattle dot it everywhere.
THE ANNALS OF MOUNT VERNON
In the year 1856 and ’57 a very important highway ran through Cutler township, crossing Middle Creek near the north-west corner of the township. This road was known as the Fort Scott and Lawrence road or the old California route, and during the years mentioned there was an immense amount of travel over it. In the spring of ’57, there being no stopping place for travelers between the Toy (sic) Jones place and Dutch Henry’s (now Lane), a distance of twenty miles, Jno. W. Sanders who owned a claim in Cutler just south of the creek, concluded to start a tavern and did so. Shortly after opening the hotel, Sanders & Currier started a general store, and about these two establishments speedily grew a little town. It was at first named “Medosa,” but in 1859 changed to Mount Vernon. No very striking events ever occurred at Mount Vernon—in its height of prosperity it numbered a dozen houses—except that as children are exposed to the measles, so it was infected with the usual complaint threatening all frontier towns, and entered the county seat contests. In 1858 Currier moved the store to Greenwood county, another one being started in the fall but not continuing open very long. Sanders retired from the hotel in 1862, succeeded by R.E. Jenness, who occupied it about two years. The retrograde movement had set in, however, and the population began to dwindle, the buildings were gradually moved away, and a slow death ensued.
FIRST SETTLEMENT BY JOHN BROWN
It is very probable that the hero of the song that is now famous “wherever man is found” and his sons, were the first white men who squatted on the lands now contained in Cutler. If there were others, this recorder failed to hear of them. Late in the year 1854 old John and his family squatted in the region adjacent to the mouth of Middle Creek, on the south of the Marias des Cygne(sic). This family consisted of six stalwart sons—Owen, John, Jason, Frederick, Salmon and Oliver, and a son-in-law, Henry Thompson also accompanied them. John Brown Jr. first located on what is now known as “Day branch” of Middle Creek, a little south of the present H.H. Day claim. Here he built a cabin. Subsequently he claimed what is now the Cutler farm, and lived there for some little time in a walled tent. He sold the claim and cabin near Day’s to Orson Day for $550.
Jason, Oliver and Salmon settled on “Brown Branch” of Middle Creek on the claim now owned by Mr. C.C. Cole, where they broke about 14 acres of ground and had a small lot enclosed.
Old John lived around with the boys, first at one cabin and then at another, frequently striking out to other sections of the country and electrifying the settlers by some daring or humane act, and then retiring before the Border Ruffians to these quiet retreats again. Stirring times were those, and Old John and his boys were in the midst. In April 1856, Jason and John Jr. were arrested by a bogus marshal and dragged to Paola, the headquarters of the Border Ruffian organization, on some trumped up charge or other, but after a short incarceration they were freed. In May of that year, a party of men from Georgia and Alabama, under command of Col. Coffee and Cap. Pate protected and guarded by U.S. troops, made a sudden descent on the Brown settlement, and burned the cabins and effects. What few effects were snatched from the flames were taken to the cabin of Wm Hastings for safe keeping.
The party of irregulars and regulars who raided this settlement were assisted to the successful completion of their honorable work by a certain notorious Baptist Minister, Martin White by name, who guided them to the Brown cabins. This same White also acted as guide to the Missourians at the battle of Osawatomie. He lived then in the vicinity of Stanton but is now (if alive) a resident of Bates County Missouri.
The Browns, unable to withstand the determined opposition of the proslaveryites, gave up the attempt to found a town at this place, and in June, 1858, took their departure.
Among the early settlers who had claims at the close of the year 1856, were H. Kincade, Mr. Carey, Robt. Reed, and sons; Wm. Hastings, D. Garrison, Orson Day, H.H. Day, M. Armstrong, and Mr. Yokum. These gentlemen, or most of them had their families, and came with the earnest intent to make homes. They were followed in 1857 by Jerry Wise, Joab Toney,—Toney, H.B. Beeson, Hiram Stanford, W. Kincade, Jas. Kincade, Benj. Seymour, Wm. Telloss, M. Campbell, Alex. Burney, Henry Shively, D.C. Cutler, Chars. Cutler, John Kisner, Geo. Hanford, and Sol. Reinhard. As was the fashion with the early settlers, these people sought timbered claims, or farms contiguous to streams. They were, as might be expected, hard, industrious and enterprising, and they formed the nucleus for a smart settlement.
H.B. Beeson was the first county surveyor. Hiram Stanford was one of the Territorial Representatives from Franklin County. Mr. Henry Shively was the first member of the Legislature under the State organization, from this county.
CUTLER’S FARMS AND FARMERS
Mr. Frank L. Furness, operates the Wilson place of 80 acres, near the N.E. corner of the township. It is all in crop, to corn and beans. Mr. F. is an energetic young man, and determined to succeed.
J.W. Gregg Esq., whose farm lies near the east line, has 40 acres of corn on his own place, and is cultivating 20 acres elsewhere. He has a fine 8 acre field of beans. He owns 9 horses, 13 head of cattle, and 21 hogs.
W.C. Walker crops 60 acres out of 140, in corn and beans principally. He has 12 head of cattle, 4 horses, and a number of hogs. His orchard comprises 200 apple and peach trees. He has a good stone house, and a very fine residence location.
Chas. Judson Esq., cultivates 65 acres of a 150 acre farm, to corn and millet principally. He has 22 cows, 50 head of young stock, 4 horses, and 11 hogs. To Mr. J. and his estimable wife we are indebted for those favors which a hungry man can best appreciate.
Chas. Judson and J.W. Judson operate the “Stanton Cheese Factory,” an institution we were favored with a look over. It has a capacity of about 800 cows, and has already acquired a gilt edge reputation for the excellent quality of cheeses it turns out. It does a commercial business—the patrons furnish the milk, and pay so much per pound for the manufacturing of the cheese.
Chas. E. Wilson, in the N. E. corner of the township, owns 200 acres of valuable land, 140 of which he cultivates, all in corn and beans this season. He has 12 head of cattle, 2 horses and about 40 hogs. He also owns a good peach orchard of 200 bearing trees.
Mr. S.A. Hester, who lives one and a half miles from the north line of the township, has a magnificent farm of 250 acres, 175 of which he cultivates—in corn principally. Mr. H. handles stock quite extensively, and has on hand 52 head of cattle, 10 horses, and about 70 hogs. He also has a fine apple and peach orchard, containing about 300 trees of each kind.
Amos Lingard, Esq. has a new place of 160 acres, not far from the west line, of which 70 acres are broken. He raised 12 acres of wheat this summer. He has built a new house this season, 16 by 26, with a wing 12 by 16.
D.C. Cutler, an old resident of the township, has between 700 and 800 acres of land, 125 being under the plow. He raises corn principally, and has considerable stock—40 head of cattle, 5 horses, and 11 hogs. His fourteen acre orchard is one of the finest in the county, and one of the oldest. Quite a number of the trees were set out in the Spring of ’58. Of peach trees he has simply an immense number—away up in the thousands. To Mr. and Mrs. Cutler, and also to Mr. Chas. Cutler, the Republican returns thanks for favors rendered.
We had the pleasure of forming the acquaintance of Elder Jno. W. Shively, a pioneer preacher, who continues his good work on a laborious circuit. Elder Shively preaches as follows, each month: Chestnut Grove, Franklin county; French School House, Anderson county, Deer Creek, Lee Mound, Twin Springs, Fountainia, New Lancaster and Beverly Missouri. He has a farm which is operated by his son of 80 acres, located in the timber bottoms of Cutler, of which 35 acres are in corn, and 9 in beans. He owns 4 horses, 6 head of cattle and 10 hogs.
Silas Allison, one of the principal stock raisers of the county, has 960 acres mostly located in the extreme south western corner of the township. Of this farm 640 acres are enclosed for stock purposes, and all but 40 acres are broken. He has on hand 112 head of steers, and has recently shipped 88 head. He has also 200 hogs, and about 10,000 bushels of old corn on hand.
Quincy A. Seymour, Esq., is another extensive stock farmer. He has 480 acres, 140 in cultivation—about 120 being in corn. He owns 115 head of very fine cattle, 5 horses and 125 hogs. His orchard is one of the very best in this section of country, and he also has a nice stone residence.
Still another gentleman, L.D. Cole, Esq., handles stock to a considerable extent. He owns 320 acres, 170 being under the plow; and grows corn principally. He has on hand, 60 head of cattle, 9 horses and 70 hogs. His residence will compare favorably with any in the township. His barn and yard are convenient and commodious.
T.G. Stewart, near the north-west corner of the township, has 200 acres, 120 of which are fenced, and 90 cultivated. He raises 5 acres of productive oats this season. Owns 35 cows and about 20 head of young stock. Also has 11 horses and 40 hogs.
Mr. E.C. Perkins owns 120 acres of land, with 100 in blooming cultivation, 70 of it being in corn. He has 70 head of cattle, 4 horses and 17 hogs. His orchard comprises about 400 apple and peach trees.
B. Bloomer, Esq., has a very fine farm, of which he devotes 22 to corn, 12 to beans, and a small field to potatoes this year. He has 8 head of cattle, 2 horses and a few hogs.
John Bartram is one of the industrious farmers of the township. He has an 80 acre farm, with 30 in cultivation—mainly to corn. He owns 27 head of cattle, 3 horses, and 15 hogs.
R.C. Bacon farms 60 acres, 36 of which are in a fine state of cultivation, 24 being in corn. We also noticed a fine field of beans, than which we have seen a better in the county.
John Devore, Esq. has a farm of 100 acres, 45 in cultivation, 35 in corn and 7 or 8 in beans. He owns 12 head of cattle, 4 horses, and 17 hogs. We found Mr. D. in a very happy frame of mind, his good wife having just presented him with an heir.
Mr. Isaac Brewer has 35 acres in corn and other crops of the usual variety, all in fine condition. He also owns quite a number of cattle, horses, and hogs.
C. Kirkham has 120 acres, 50 in prime cultivation—12 in corn, 12 in beans and quite an area in onions. He has 2 cows and 4 horses.
E.M. Kirkham Esq. owns 120 acres of which 80 acres are cultivated. Of this 55 acres are in corn, 20 in beans, and a good sized field in potatoes. He owns 2 cows, 3 horses and 4 hogs.
Mr. Jno. C. Hoag has this year, 40 acres of corn, which the same is very nice. Mr. H. is a representative farmer, and his field give evidence of the best attention.
A.A. Hoag farms 150 acres—40 in corn, the rest have been devoted to wheat, of which he raised 45 acres. He also had 20 of flax, 10 of oats, 6 of rye, and 12 of Hungarian grass. It will be observed that Mr. H. believes in diversified farming. He owns 30 head of cattle, 6 horses and mules and 13 hogs.
R.B. McCurdy has crops this year, as follows: 28 in corn and 4 in beans. He also had 5 acres of “grasshoppered” wheat. He owns 8 head of cattle, 4 horses, and 17 hogs.
C. Curtis is on the “Lawrence” farm. He has 45 acres of corn, 13 of beans, and one of potatoes. He also owns a nice lot of stock.
O.A. Furness farms 120 acres of which 72 are in cultivation—50 to corn. He raised a fine crop of oats this season. He owns 16 head of cattle, 5 horses and 12 hogs. He has, also, 200 bearing apple and 300 peach trees.
A.A. Reed owns 80 acres, 33 of which are in cultivation to corn and beans principally. His stock comprises 8 head of cattle, 2 horses and 10 hogs.