Harrison Township

Created 1868

From a series of articles detailing visits to Franklin County townships in the
Ottawa Republican, Sept. 6th, 1877



A Garden of Agricultural Wealth


A Goodly Array of Farm Establishments Well Conducted

The Orchard Treasury of Southern Franklin

Waving Corn Fields in their Matured Glory

The Leguminous Oil Wells of Kansas


Scenes and Incidents of Early Times

A General Topographical Description.

Fertile Prairies, Picturesque Views, Comfortable Homes

Bogus Claimants and Their Wicked Ways

A Collection of Experiences by Which All May Profit

If there is one thing more than another, in the way of external impressions, which may make a man regret his never having been a farmer it is, perhaps, to witness such busy, reward promising scenes as were viewed by the REPUBLICAN representative in his recent trip through Harrison township.  Memories of pleasant boyhood associations are quietened into vivid recollections at sight of the hurry and bustle of a harvest time, while the very air one breathes has a scent of independence.  To a townsman this freedom from the line making cares of a business life is a thing to be reveled in—possibly, however, it may be to him as it was to that certain aboriginal who, after gazing in calm dignity upon a party of mowers remarked: “Humph! Heap big easy thing to mow—for white man.”


There is not in the Union another Kansas; there is not in Kansas another county subdivision with more luxuriant prairies, and fertile fields, than Harrison.  We can imagine the delight of the early pioneer, as he viewed from under the flapping canvass of his “schooner” the fair expanse for the first time.  Before him stretched an undulating sea of tender green,  shimmering beneath a sky of resplendent light, the air laden with the intoxicating essence of a million wild flowers.  We wot that his eye never tired in looking and admiring—here a chain of gentle acclivities, sparkling with dewy diamonds, glorious in the sheen of noontide emerald, or rosy with the reflected colors of a Kansas sunset—according to the hour,–there a sea of living green expanding, all covered with a carpet of rich vegetation, and bearing on its blossomed bosom all the tints of the prism.  We fancy that his full heart poured forth a continuous canticle to the Creator for preparing so blessed a habitation.  No wonder that these lands, so preeminently graceful and beautiful, attracted the eye of the civilizer.  There they had smiled and bloomed and blossomed, for ages, in a loveliness seductive as maiden beauty, till the Allwise, in his own good time should bring the redeeming hand of the rustic of the soil.  Man came, he saw, and was conquered.  But in being conquered he was also conqueror.

The Change of Civilization

Go with us now, and see the crowded fields, jostling each other with their over fullness.  Here the tall maize bows gracefully to the balmy breeze; there a thousand kine feed on the hills, filling their tawny hides with the “roast beef of old England;” everywhere pleasant homes nestle down in pretty groves, or peep from fertile orchards that delight the eye with the red and gold harvest of their fruit.  Before, there was the excess of the originality of nature—now there is excess of cultivation in life.  Beautiful it was, most beautiful, but with all its fascinations man reduced and conquered it.  And it is beautiful yet, for there is an eternal harmony between the son of man and the universe which surrounds him, and humanity will always delight in lovely and luxuriant nature, and what can be more gratifying to the eye than these rich fields of agricultural treasure.  What more pleasing than the brightly contrasting yellow of the wheat, emerald of the corn, and purple of the castor plant between them woven daintily, thin edgings of graceful hedge plants.  Ah yes, a man may regret his never having been a farmer.

The Secret of It

In journeying through this county, the writer has found many wide stretches of unoccupied land, and is frequently asked to explain the reason of it.  He can do this no more concisely than by quoting from the writings of W.A. Johnson, Chairman of the Historical Committee of Anderson county:

“In the first settlement of the country came a class of men who had been reared on the frontier, and had kept in advance of civilization, and had generally made their living by speculating in claims on government lands.  These men would settle along the streams in the neighborhood of the finest bodies of timber and finest bottom lands, and the first thing after settling would go over the most desirable tracts of land and drive down a stake, and write the name of some person as having selected the land for a claim, and in this way take all the most desirable and valuable pieces of land, and when a stranger came in search of a tract of government land to settle upon, these speculators would inform him that all the claims worth settling upon were taken, but that here was the agent of a man who had selected a claim, and that claim was for sale.  The stranger, supposing that the claim had been honestly selected, and thinking it better to purchase than to go further in the territory, would thus be induced to pay from one hundred to a thousand dollars.  The purchaser would erect a cabin, and then start for his family, and on his return would often find that his claim had been sold again, and the second purchaser in occupancy.”  The inevitable disputes which followed such cases as above related, would result in suits at the U.SD. Land Office, and generally ended in some speculator getting the land on mortgage.  Speculators also hired agents to make bogus claims and in various other ways obtained possession of large tracts of choice land all over the country.

The lands of Harrison township did not


until 1865.  They were formerly and until that time comprised in the Ottawa Indian Reservation, and of course squatters were kept off them.  In the above year, however, the Indians were removed, and the lands placed on sale.  They were sold by bids, to the highest bidder.  All bills were posted for one month; if in that time no higher offers were received the sale was completed.  Very fortunately speculators found it impracticable to make very extensive investments, and the township is not so cursed in this respect as are some others adjoining.


The first claimant was Enoch Pyle, who settled in the township in the fall of 1865.  During this year, John Howell, Mr. Hood, James Hill, J.R. Daley, Mr. Spencer, Michael Hornbeck settled.  His was in the spring, later settlements were made by Mr. W.L. Harrison, Henry Fouts, Jacob Fouts, E. Walker, Mr. Smith, Charles Howell, John and Thomas Harrison.  Daley settled on the claim now occupied by Messrs. Parsons and Lawrence.  He also built the first stone house erected in the Ottawa reserve outside of Ottawa.

Mr. Harrison still resides on the claim first made by him, as does Mr. Fouts, Mr. Spencer holds the title to his original claim, but resides in Illinois.  Mr. Pyle has recently sold his claim.

The claim originally made by M. Hornbeck is now owned by the Widow Alford.  Smith’s claim is occupied by his sons.  E. Walker still resides on his old claim.

In 1867, the following settlers located: Messrs N. Latimer and G.W. Cartzdafner, Jos. Guy, Mr. Greeves, Mr. Skeeles, Dr. VanSchoick, and Messrs. Payne and Curtis.  Greeves purchased the James Daley claim.

The heaviest emigration was in 1868, in which year the township organization was completed.  It was made up of the southern part of the Ottawa reservation and a portion of Ohio.  It then included that portion of territory which was since been set off into Lincoln township.

First Things

Enoch Pyle was the first settler.  Jas. Daley built the first stone house.

The official business of the township was transacted at Ottawa, for the first few years, as it was included in the Ottawa voting precinct.

M. Hornbeck was the first Justice of the Peace, and report has it that law and justice were twin sisters in his court.

The first school house was of wood, a frame and was built in what is known as the Fouts neighborhood.  This was in 1868—it has since been replaced by a fine stone structure.

The first breaking and fencing was done by Messrs. Pyle, and the Harrisons.


Physically, Harrison has mainly a prairie surface, sufficiently undulating to afford excellent drainage.  Its soil is as good as that in any portion of Franklin county.  The township is consequently better adapted to general agricultural purposes than are some other portions of the county.  But as no part of Kansas is unfitted for stock purposes, the enterprising citizens of this locality are engaged in cattle and swine raising to a considerable extent—although contiguous to a superior railroad market, they aim to turn their corn off in the shape of fatted cattle and hogs.

Another noticeable feature in Harrison is the extent to which orchards have been planted.  Many of them are eight and nine years old, and all of them bear evidence of close care and intelligent culture.


Out of the institutions of this township is the county poor farm, which lies not far from the northeast corner of the township, south of the Marais des Cygnes.  This farm, which was known as the “Tower farm,” comprises 160 acres of land of a very excellent quality, neat, commodious, comfortable buildings, and a fine orchard.  It is in charge of W.J.R. Medarias, under whose superintendency the farm has reached a degree very creditable to both county and superintendent.  He has this year threshed about 300 bushels of wheat, and has sowed 20 acres this fall.  There are upwards of 100 hogs and a dozen head of stock, on the farm now.

Special Farm Notices

Sanford Lawrence’s farm bears evidences of the most careful attention.  He has about 40 acres into corn this year, and 12 in beans.  He also raised 4 acres of millet.  His orchard which covers 12 acres of ground, is seven years old, and comprises 485 apple and 600 peach trees.  He also has large quantities of small fruit.  His stock comprises 10 head of cattle, 4 horses, and 14 hogs.

A.D. Bell owns 120 acres, of which he cultivates 80, to corn and castor beans.  He has 21 head of cattle, 8 horses, and 30 hogs of the Berkshire and Poland China breeds.  In his orchard are 110 standard apple trees, and a number of peach, plum and cherry trees.  He is located one half mile east of the poor farm.

Dan’l Martin, Esq., has 60 acres in corn, and 10 in beans, this season.  In his orchard are 200 peach and 130 apple trees.  He owns 16 head of cattle, and 3 horses.  Has a good house and barn.

James Lindsey, has an 80 acre farm, 45 under cultivation—all in crops this year, to corn and beans.  His stock comprises 30 head of cattle, 6 horses and 16 hogs.  Has also a good orchard of 190 trees.  Mr. L. is one of the representative energetic young men of the county.

Chas. Howell, Esq., owns 160 acres, and cultivates 80, all in corn this year. His orchards include 300 trees of various kinds.  Has 17 head of cattle, 61 hogs, and 4 horses.  His farm is number one, and he has it all hedged and cross-fenced.

We found E. Perkins trimming hedge on his 80 acre farm, but not too busy to subscribe for the REPUBLICAN. His farm is all under cultivation, with 60 acres in corn, and quite a variety of other crops.  Of stock he has 15 head of cattle, and 6 horses.  He has a fine orchard of 100 magnificent trees.

Mr. N. Tawney was at home when we called, attending to his regular knitting.  He has a fine farm of 80 acres, all in cultivation.  He raised nice crops of both oats and wheat, and has 45 acres in corn.  One feature of Mr. T.’s farm is its water supply, it has a never failing spring.

John Howell, Esq., we found as jolly as ever.  Said he had a comfortably sized family, and of course they ought to be supplied with a good family paper—he took stock in the REPUBLICAN.  He has 80 acres, all in use, 70 to corn.  Owns 50 head of cattle, 22 hogs, 106 sheep, and 6 horses.  His orchard includes 500 trees.  Farm all hedged.

C.E. Donehoe, Esq., owns 80 acres, 45 cultivated.  His principle crop is corn.  Mr. D. moved into the township last spring, and as a matter of course is delighted with the country.

N. Latimer owns 80 acres, all in cultivation—55 acres to corn.  He also raised a good crop of flax.  Has 200 fruit trees.  His farm is enclosed with as nice a hedge as can be found anywhere.

Our old friend, L.A. Barney, has a 40 acre fruit farm.  His stock in this line comprises 2,500 trees of all varieties, and the farm thereof is well circulated.  He raised this year, 275 bushels of wheat off of 13 acres. He has small fruits of all kinds.  Mr. B. is an industrious, enterprising man.

H. Fouts, Esq., has 80 acres, 60 of which are in cultivation, and well fenced.  He has 40 acres in corn, and has raised a variety of other crops this year.  He has also a nice lot of stock.

A.S. Blackstone has 80 acres.  Of this, 65 acres are in corn.  He owns 50 head of cattle, 6 horses, and 20 hogs.  His farm is well improved, and provided with a good house and barn.  We like Mr. Blackstone’s style.

D.B. Troutman owns 80 acres, 50 in cultivation.  He raised this last season, 371 bushels of wheat.  Has now, in crops, 50 acres of corn, and 16 in beans.  Owns 10 head of cattle, 10 hogs and 7 horses.

S.B. Bodley has this season worked 30 acres in corn, 10 in beans, 8 acres in flax and 8 in oats—this latter went 40 bushels to the acre.

F.J. Bodley has 20 acres in corn and 12 in beans.  Raised 8 acres of oats.

R.P. Edney owns 280 acres, 113 in crops.  Of this, 80 acres are in corn, and 45 in beans.  Had 12 acres in flax, and has 3 in potatoes.  Owns 250 fruit trees, 15 head of cattle, 5 horses, and a good lot of hogs.

M.P. Nelson, Esq., has 80 acres all under cultivation.  Of this 30 acres are in corn, and 11 in beans.  Raised 40 acres of wheat, and 8 of flax.  Owns 14 head of cttle, 3 horses, and a number of hogs.  His farm is very conveniently divided for both agricultural and stock purposes.

J.N. Harrison, the genial, and a young man of the “go ahead”kind, has 120 acres, 90 being under cultivation.  Of this 70 acres are in corn.  He owns 3 horses and in company with Mr. Gault, 180 head of cattle.

D.E. Gault has a good farm of 80 acres.  He deals extensively in stock, in co-partnership with J.N. Harrison.  Mr. Gault has a very excellent orchard on his place.

A. Reed has 120 acres, 35 in cultivation.  He raises considerable corn, and has a fine timothy meadow.  He has also a 40 acre pasture, and about the same quantity of timbered land.

J.D. McDuffy owns 120 acres of land, of which he cultivates 45 acres.  His is devoted to corn 30 acres, and to beans 3 acres.  Mr. M. is a carpenter by trade, and is now building a house for J.W. Smith.

G.V. Bartlett has a 40 acre farm under cultivation, and has a very fine show of corn and castor beans.  He believes in raising a variety of crops. Has 4 head of cattle, 4 horses, and 12 hogs.

J.W. Smith owns a nice farm of 80 acres, and has it well impr9oved.  He is building a new house.  Owns 12 head of cattle, and 12 hogs.  His orchard comprises 500 very fine fruit trees.

O. Parsons has his farm of 40 acres, all in cultivation, in corn and beans.  This farm was opened by Jas. R. Daley.  It has a fine orchard of 250 fruit trees.  He owns 9 head of cattle, and 45 as promising hogs as can be found.

J. Waterman, Esq., has 35 acres in corn, and 36 in beans, this year, as well as a variety of other crops.  Owns 8 head of cattle, 5 horses and 20 hogs.

Mr. W. Hayes owns 80 acres, all of which are in prime cultivation, to corn mostly.  He has 530 apple, and 150 peach trees.  He owns 14 head of cattle, 6 horses an 7 hogs.  He also has small fruit in abundance.

S. Westfall has his 80 acres in nice shape, it being all in cultivation—60 in corn and 20 in beans.  He went on the place last year, and has built a house and stable.

A.D. Alderman owns 80 acres, 40 under cultivation.  Of this, 25 are in corn and 10 in beans.  He has 125 apple trees and 100 peaches.  Mr. A. expresses himself as well pleased with the country.

Friend N.M. Chandler cultivates 30 acres out of 80, to corn principally.  Mr. C. is paying considerable attention to fruit culture, and has nearly 400 apple and peach trees, of the very finest varieties.  He also devotes considerable care to the raising of the finer qualities of onions, and has this year produced three very excellent varieties—the “White Silver Skin,” the “Yellow Donver,” and the “Red Wethers field.”  Friend C. has been very successful in getting a number one quality of seed of these varieties.

R.S. Hood has 100 acres under cultivation, 60 being under fence.  He raised 10 acres of winter wheat, and has 50 acres in corn, and the same quantity in castor beans.  He also had 10 acres in flax.  Owns  4 horses, 16 head of cattle, and 14 hogs.

Jos. Guy has 65 acres well cultivated, 15 under fence.  He raised 10 acres of winter wheat, and has 50 acres in corn, and the same quantity in castor beans.  He also had 10 acres in flax.  Owns 4 horses, 27 cattle, and 8 hogs.

E. Keezle has 60 acres in cultivation, and the same quantity fenced.  Of this, are 25 acres in corn, and about 30 in beans.  He owns 3 horses, 9 head of cattle, and 32 hogs.

J.D. Bodley, Esq., cultivates 130 acres.  He raised 15 acres of winter wheat this past season.  Has in 58 acres of corn, and 25 acres of beans.  Had 14 acres of oats.  Owns 6 horses, 23 head of cattle, and 17 hogs.

Chas. Jones, Esq., cultivates 65 acres of land, 60 to corn.  He raised 4 acres of oats.  Owns 5 head of horses, 7 head of cattle, and 7 hogs.  Has 100 bearing apple trees, and 200 bearing peach trees.

Mr. W.H. Harrison, one of the old settlers, and in whose honor the township was named, has 60 acres under cultivation, 55 of which are in corn.  He owns about 23 head of cattle.  In his orchard there are 60 bearing apple trees, 200 peach trees, and about 40 apple trees just started.  There are also 45 cherry trees.

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