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1878 12 11.5 1893 9 8.2

1879 21 9.8 1894 10 8.3

1880 13 9 1895 2 10

1881 4 8.5 1896 1 10

1882 2 11 1897 1 8

1883 2 9 1898 2 10

1884 5 9.2 1899 4 8.4

1885 14 8.4 1900 9 6.9

1886 33 7.8 1901 18 6.9

1887 37 7.5 1902 10 6.5

1888 13 7.6 1903 21 7.3

1889 9 7.4 1904 17 7.2

1890 48. 1905 22 6.6

The mortgagees of Edwards county consistently wrote a higher
rate of interest into their contracts than did nonresident lenders.
Invariably the papers negotiated by the Western mortgage com-
panies called for the lowest average rate of interest. In 1887 for
example, six loans obtained in Edwards county averaged 9% interest,
the over-all average of the 37 first mortgage loans recorded from
the township stood at 7.5%, the 30 mortgages held by nonresidents
of Kansas averaged 7.3%, and the 22 loans negotiated by the mort-
gage agencies called for an average rate of 6.9%.

Comparison of the resident and nonresident rate is complicated
by the problem of the commission. The local resident who lent his
own funds or accepted a mortgage as part payment in a real estate
transaction probably did not take a commission from the mortgagor.
Both the mortgage companies and their local agents received com-
missions. Often these commissions were paid by the mortgagor
in addition to the rate of interest specified in the note and mort-
gage. But at times the companies wrote a flat or net rate into their
papers from which they subtracted both their own commission
and that of their local agents. A 9% loan negotiated by the J. B.
Watkins Company in August, 1887, was of this type. 32 The note
specified 9% and that was the actual cost to the borrower. Signifi-
cantly, the average rate on the six loans obtained locally in that
year was also 9%. The local and nonresident level tended to equate
at a common level. The local lender was neither more merciful
nor more obdurate than the nonresident when specifying the interest
which his debtor must pay.

32. See letters of D. M. Sprankle to L. W. Higgins, Kinsley, June-September, 1887, in
"J. B. Watkins Papers."


In general, the loans of local lenders were for a shorter period
of time than those of nonresidents. The early Western mortgage
companies almost invariably loaned for periods of three or five
years. Such companies avoided repayment by installments because
of the extra accounting involved. As competition among the com-
panies stiffened, however, an increasing number of them gave
"one year after the first interest payment the privilege of paying
$100, or multiples thereof, on the principal upon sixty days notice"
or some similar privilege. Such provisions became almost standard
with major lending companies after 1900. Payment of the principal
over a term of years also became very common after the turn of
the century.

Of the 343 first mortgages analyzed in this study, judgment was
rendered against the debtor on 52, or 15%. Only 46 sheriff's deeds
were issued, however, since a few mortgagors managed to buy
the judgment before the judicial sale or compromise the case in
some other way. One sheriff's deed represented the foreclosure of
three first mortgages obtained by the same mortgagor on different
portions of his property. Thirty-one first mortgages were termi-
nated by the mortgagor deeding over his property to the mortgagee,
his agent or the holder of a second mortgage. Undoubtedly such
deeding represented failure no less than did the issuance of a
sheriff's deed. Seventy-nine first mortgages, or 23% of those filed
in Kinsley township ended, therefore, with the mortgagor giving
up his land. Some half-dozen purchasers bought encumbered land
and assumed the payment of first mortgages while giving second
mortgages of their own as part of the purchase price. Foreclosure
of the first mortgage wiped out the title of these individuals as well
as that of the original mortgagors.

The mortgages negotiated in two groups of years were particu-
larly ill-fated. Of 36 first mortgages filed in 1879 and 1880, 18, or
50%, were closed out by foreclosure or deeding. Liquidation took
place during 1880, 1881 and 1882 for the most part. Of the 88 first
mortgages recorded in 1886, 1887 and 1888, 40, or 45%, were termi-
nated disastrously. These last contracts were liquidated between
1889 and 1893 the years when Populism was born and flourished
in its greatest vigor.

In all, 67 individuals and one corporation contributed to the total
of 79 mortgage contracts which ended in failure. They sacrificed
22 tracts which had been acquired under the provisions of the
homestead acts. Reduced to percentages, 33% of the homesteaders
who gained title in the township, and 58% of the homesteaders who


attempted to raise funds by mortgaging, failed to retain their home-
steads because they could not repay their loans. Four out of the
eight pre-empted tracts which were mortgaged were surrendered,
representing 25% of all pre-emptions and 50% of the pre-empted
tracts placed under mortgage by their first owners. The three
timber claims lost by mortgagors formed 25% of all timber claims,
and 60% of the timber claims which were mortgaged in Kinsley
township. Of two commuted homesteads which were encumbered
by their first owner, one was lost. Among the 61 individuals who
obtained railroad land deeds, ten lost all or part of their land by
foreclosure. This figure represented 16% of the successful pur-
chasers of railroad land and 53% of those who mortgaged their land
after obtaining title from the Santa Fe. Four of the ten were non-
residents. In total, 41 out of 79 securities were lost by the individu-
als who had obtained title to them from the federal government or
from the Santa Fe.

Thirty-eight securities, or 49% of those lost by foreclosure, be-
longed to secondary buyers who had obtained title from the grantees
of railroad and government. Since most of the mortgaging which
ended disastrously was done by 1890, this last percentage illustrates
the speed with which land in the township was transferred out
of the hands of its original owners.

Of the 67 unsuccessful mortgagors, a significant percentage of
individuals were not primarily farmers. Three mortgagors were
women, of whom two were not residents of the county. At least
five men were nonresidents at the time of mortgaging and so re-
mained during the life of their mortgages. Three of this group
were obviously speculators in railroad land. Two of the local
mortgagors were bankers connected with the banks which failed
in Kinsley. One local farmer died and the mortgage was foreclosed
after his death. Another mortgagor was a tavern keeper attempting
to make a living in a state bent on becoming dry. One had at-
tempted to run an ice business in Kinsley. The corporation which
negotiated an unsuccessful mortgage was the county fair associa-
tion. Thus 14, or 21%, of the unsuccessful mortgagors were not
full-time farmers in the community. At least five others had sold
out to a third party before suit was begun, but the assignees failed
to meet the payments on the mortgages which they had assumed.

Among the 67 noncorporate individuals who surrendered land
by foreclosure or deeding, 36 appear on the agricultural rolls of one
or more of the censuses taken in 1875, 1880, 1885 and 1895. The
acres reported in crop by these mortgagors were compared with


those of the other farmers in the administrative township of Kinsley.
The crop acres of all the operators at each census date were totaled
and the farmers divided into upper, middle and lower thirds. Hay
acreage was not counted, since it represented prairie hay for the
most part, while acreages in corn, wheat, sorghum, millet, flax,
barley and oats indicated that the settler had broken the prairie.
In some cases such a technique would deal unfairly with stock
farmers, but for the most part the farmers reporting large numbers
of stock from Kinsley township also reported large crop acreages.


Crop Acres Lower Middle Upper

Year Reported by Third Third Third

1875 33 operators 4-8 8-19 19-60

1880 134 operators 5-25 26-53 56-645

1885 60 operators 15-60 65-109 110-315

1895 81 operators 4-74 75-153 160-672

Of the 36 unfortunate mortgagors who are listed in the returns
of the agricultural censuses, 14 reported crop acreages in the upper
third at the time of the census, immediately prior to their failures.
Twelve fell in the middle third and ten in the lower third. It is
probably safe to assume that the crop acreages of most of the un-
successful operators, who were not caught by a census, would fall
in the middle or lower brackets, since their residence in the town-
ship was either of interrupted or short duration. But the 14 who
reported a crop acreage in the upper third represented 21% of all
the mortgagors who failed. It was evidently not enough to have
land broken and in crop. Misfortune could strike the large oper-
ator as well as the small one in an area where drought might bring
crop failure in two or three successive years.

That a settler lost land by foreclosure or deeding did not neces-
sarily mean that he failed as a farm operator in the community.
Of the 67 who lost land, eight, or 12%, survived the loss of their
security and remained as farm operators in the township. One
settler sacrificed 80 acres of railroad land but retained control of
240 acres which he obtained under the homestead and timber cul-
ture acts. In 1905 he reported a farm unit of 1,120 acres, of which
320 were in field crops.

M. E. Hetzel reported a farm of 160 acres in 1875, but not until
1878 did he enter 80 acres as a homestead and buy the other 80
acres under the terms of the pre-emption act. He mortgaged his


pre-empted land immediately for $500 and raised $300 locally
against his homestead, although he did not receive his final certifi-
cate until 1884. By 1885 he had acquired title to four quarter
sections near his original holding. One of these he mortgaged for
$360 in 1880. In 1884 the Kinsley Graphic reported that Hetzel
had lost $3,000 worth of stock from the plague presumably Texas
fever. 33 In the same year, his $500 mortgage went to judgment but
he succeeded in purchasing it. During 1885 and 1886, Hetzel raised
$4,500 on the security of first mortgages in the East and negotiated
another $4,000 worth of second mortgages with local parties, in-
cluding two of the banks. In 1886 and 1887, Hetzel deeded 640
acres of land to the Edwards County Bank. In 1892 Hetzel began
to buy back this acreage, using a $4,800 mortgage as partial pay-
ment for the first 320 acres. By 1905 Hetzel could report a farm
unit of 1,000 acres of which 440 were in field crops, as well as a
herd of 150 cattle.

Despite a significant number of exceptions, most of the mort-
gagors who lost their security disappeared from the records of the
county thereafter. Many of them had left long before suit was
brought against them. At least 80% of the foreclosure cases in the
township were extremely simple; the defendants neither demurred,
answered, nor appeared. One settler, however, enlivened the
court record with a show of patent bad faith when he mortgaged
a quarter section adjacent to his own and later asserted that the
indenture, was a forgery. 34

It is possible to exaggerate both the amount of land which was
under mortgage at any one time and the amount of land which
was foreclosed or deeded. On January 1, 1890, there was probably
more land under mortgage in the township than at any other time
during the 30 years of this study. Most of the mortgage debt of
1886 and 1887 which was to be liquidated in the early 1890's still
stood untouched. Yet at this date only some 12,000 acres, or be-
tween 40 and 45% of the agricultural land in Kinsley township, was
mortgaged. A veteran real estate agent of Kinsley estimated in
his biography that in ". . . 1893 and 1894, at least two thirds
of the land in the county . . . had been taken over and was
owned by the loan companies and private investors all over the
east." 35 The actual figures for Kinsley township are hardly so

33. Kinsley Graphic, November 21, 1884.

34. D. W. McConaugh vs. Frank C. Badger, filed in the district court of Edwards county,
September, 1890, "Journal D," p. 286.

35. G. E. Wilson, Autobiography (Kinsley, 1947), p. 27.



generous. In all, the security surrendered by the 67 individuals
and one corporation over 30 years, totaled some 11,200 acres, or
40%, of the agricultural land in the township.

Some attempt to correlate foreclosures and deeding with soil
fertility in Kinsley township may be made. North and west of the
Arkansas river, variations in soil and topography are not extreme
enough to check against the statistics of foreclosure and deeding.
The sand hills southeast of the Arkansas are infertile and the fact
was recognized locally at an early date. The editor of the Kinsley
Graphic wrote in 1887,

Occasionally some eastern sucker gets salted upon a slice off the juicy
side of the sand hills lying along the course of the Arkansas river. There are
two things those hills are especially adapted to; one is to raise goats upon and
the other is to be exchanged for eastern property belonging to parties who
have never saw them. 36

But mortgagees, or their local agents, paid too little attention to
such local wisdom. Four sheriff's deeds were issued on some 600
acres of land in the sand hills. In addition, one mortgagor deeded
a quarter section to his mortgagee, while the Interstate Galloway
Cattle Company deeded 960 acres of land in the area to one of its
creditors. Some 1,700 acres, therefore, out of 2,350, or 72% of the
sand hills area, changed hands by foreclosure or deeding in the
30-year period.

By no means all of the foreclosed and deeded land was in the
hands of the mortgagees at any one time, although the largest part
of it was in their custody during the early 1890's. Until the market
for real estate collapsed utterly in the early 1890's, the mortgage
agencies and Eastern investors sought to sell their foreclosed land
as rapidly as possible. The mortgage companies at least were
under considerable incentive to reconvert their operating capital
to liquid form. When the land market disappeared, the investors
and the receivers, or liquidating agencies of the mortgage com-
panies, held until there was a market and then resold. By 1897 the
local farmers were again interested in adding to their holdings.
Their purchases before 1905 significantly altered the size of farm
units in Kinsley township. Where 52% of the farmers reported a
farm unit of 160 acres or less in 1895, ten years later only 23% of the
farmers reported such a unit, while 64% listed farms of 241 acres or
more, as compared with 39% at the previous census date.

It is obvious that the liquidation of the 1890's was a painful one
in Kinsley township, although proportionately a smaller group of

36. Kinsley Graphic, April 22, 1887.


mortgagors failed than was the case in the early 1880's. The statis-
tics of deeding and foreclosure cannot show the instances where
proceedings were begun and dropped before a journal entry was
made. Nor do they show the number of mortgagors whom one
more poor crop would have placed in like case with their less
fortunate fellows. On the other hand, the bald totals of mortgages
and encumbered acres do not differentiate between the genuine
settler who mortgaged to equip his farm or to tide himself over
a poor year and the petty speculator who mortgaged merely to
support himself until he could sell his holdings. When the schemes
of the latter type went astray, he was quite willing to pull out and
leave his creditor to realize upon the security.

Although willing enough to accept the services of the money
lender, the farmers of Edwards county were also willing to criticize
him. By 1884 the leading capitalist of Kinsley had been dubbed
"old three percent a month." 37 When L. G. Boies ran as Republi-
can candidate for the state legislature in 1888 he was opposed be-
cause he was a banker. 38 In 1892 a local paper reprinted the ac-
cusation of the Mankato Advocate that the mortgage companies
were foreclosing in an effort to obtain the land of the farmers of
Kansas, although actually the foreclosures were to ruin the com-
panies no less than the farmers. 39 Popular feeling against the
money lender contributed no little to the unrest which saw the
local Farmers' Alliance men take over the county offices and news-
paper during the early 1890's, and help to send Jerry Simpson to
congress from the seventh electoral district. 40

37. Ibid., December 5, 1884.

38. Kinsley Banner-Graphic, October 12, 1888; Kinsley Mercury, November 15, 1888.

39. Kinsley Graphic, April 29, 1892.

40. See James C. Malin, "The Kinsley Boom of the Late Eighties," loc. cit., pp. 173-178.

Vincent B. Osborne's Civil War Experiences


A LTHOUGH nearly a third of Kansas' counties bear the names
** of men who were Civil War officers, only two privates have
been thus honored. One of them was Vincent B. Osborne, who
served as a Kansas volunteer soldier for three and a half years, was
twice wounded, and had a leg amputated in 1865. 1

Nothing is known of Osborne's early life, except that he was born
March 4, 1839, in Hampden county, Massachusetts. He was 22
years old when he enlisted in July, 1861, in the Second Kansas in-
fantry, at Clinton, Mo. He must then have lived in Missouri, for
he suggests (see p. 122) that his life would have been in jeopardy
had he been captured by Missouri rebels.

One month after joining the army, Private Osborne was wounded
in the thigh during the battle of Wilson's Creek (August 10, 1861),
and was hospitalized for almost six months in St. Louis. Before he
recovered, the Second Kansas infantry had been mustered out of
service. Osborne re-enlisted, along with other veterans of this
short-lived regiment, in the Second Kansas cavalry which was be-
ing organized in the early part of 1862. He was mustered in at
Leavenworth on February 19, and assigned to Company A, com-
manded by his former captain, Samuel J. Crawford.

Between March and September, 1862, Osborne's, company rode
more than 1,500 miles on escort duty, traveling from Fort Riley,
over the military and Santa Fe roads, to Fort Union, N. M., and

Returning to the regiment in the fall, Company A fought in a
number of skirmishes and several important engagements, as the
Second Kansas took part in a campaign against the rebel forces of
Generals Marmaduke and Hindman, in Missouri and Arkansas.
Osborne describes, at some length, the battles of Old Fort Wayne
(October 22), Cane Hill (November 28) and Prairie Grove (De-
cember 7).

In the early part of 1863 Osborne was a hospital attendant at
Fayetteville, Ark., and at Fort Scott. During the rest of the year,

JOYCE FARLOW, a graduate of Alabama College, Montevallo, Ala., was a senior student
when this editorial work was done. LOUISE BARRY, now on leave, is in charge of the manu-
scripts division of the Kansas State Historical Society.

1. The other county named for a private is Rooks for Pvt. John C. Rooks. Two
counties have been named for noncommissioned officers: Ness, for Cpl. Noah V. Ness, and
Harper, for Sgt. Marion Harper.



and in 1864, he was on detached duty much of the time, serving
as messenger at district headquarters, Fort Smith, Ark., in the lat-
ter year.

On January 16, 1865, he left Fort Smith, on board the Annie
Jacobs, to rejoin his regiment. Next day, at Joy's Ford, rebels
shelled the steamboat and forced it aground. During the firing
Osborne was severely wounded in the leg while helping to tie up
the boat. Two days later, at Clarksville, Ark., his leg was ampu-
tated. When he left the hospital six months later, the war was over.
In 1866 he came to Kansas, having been appointed sutler at Fort
Marker by Secretary of War Stanton, upon the recommendation of
Gov. Samuel J. Crawford, who had been Osborne's company com-
mander. In 1867 he settled in the near-by frontier town of Ells-
worth. On June 22 of that year Governor Crawford appointed him
a special commissioner (along wth Ira S. Clark and John H. Ed-
wards ) to organize Ellsworth county.

Four years later, when another county to the north and west was
being organized, it was named for Vincent B. Osborne. It was also
in 1871 that Osborne was elected to the state legislature from Ells-
worth county, serving during the session of 1872.

He married Nellie V. (Henry) Whitney, widow of Sheriff C. B.
Whitney who was killed in 1873. Their daughter Katie, born in
1877, died the same year.

Osborne was highly regarded by the people of his county. When
he was admitted to the bar (by the district court) in October, 1875,
the Ellsworth Reporter recalled his fine war record, noted that a
county and city had been named for him, and stated that he
". . . is today probably one of the most popular men in the

During the 1870's he held several local offices, being a justice of
the peace in 1872-1873, probate judge from 1873-1879, and town-
ship trustee for several years. At the time of his death he was city
clerk, probate judge, and president of the newly-organized Ells-
worth County Agricultural and Mechanical Association.

He died, after a short illness, on December 1, 1879, at the age of
40. One of his Civil War comrades later said of him: "Osborne
was one of the bravest soldiers that I ever knew, and a gentle-
man/' 2

nf l;nc S % C I7 f ^ in fe rma ^ 0n ,o 1 ?, 9 sborne: Report f the Adjutant General of the State
42S 2$^' ^ 861 - 65 ,/ T Pka, 1896) pp. 72, 81; Kansas Historical Collections, v. 10, pp.
Fllfv ? ; P Com JP end ^ ous H^ory of Ellsworth County, Kansas (Ellsworth, 1879), p. 52-
Ellsworth Reporter, July 1 October 28, 1875, December 4, 1879; Osborne County Farmer'
9^ December 13, 1934; Cemetery Records of Ellsworth County, Kansas, compiled I by
Smoky Hill chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, 1938-1939 v 1


Osborne wrote his Civil War experiences in four manuscripts.
They are now owned by Mrs. Murray C. Flynn, granddaughter of
Mrs. Osborne by a third marriage. The variations in paper, ink,
size of handwriting, etc., make it evident that the narratives were
written at different times, but all of them appear to have been
written in the 1860's. Osborne's journal style in parts of the nar-
ratives indicates that he probably kept a diary, or notes, while in
the army.

The first narrative (for 1861), and the second (for 1862-1865),
have no titles. The third, headed "Southwest Expedition No. 1,"
is an expanded account of the campaign into Missouri and Arkansas
in the fall of 1862. The fourth, entitled "History of My Last
Wound," deals with the action on January 16, 1865, and his hos-
pitalization. All the manuscripts have been brought together into
one narrative (which will be published in two parts) by substi-
tuting the more extensive accounts of the third and fourth manu-
scripts for the briefer (and less interesting) ones within the second
narrative. This has seemed necessary in order to utilize the best
of Osborne's writing, and also practicable because of missing sec-
tions in the second narrative.

[In Missouri, with the Second Kansas Infantry]

On Thursday the llth day of July 1861 I first enlisted in the
army I enlisted in the 2nd regiment Kansas Vol. a part of Sturgis
brigade on the Osage river a few miles from Oseola in the western
part of the state of Missouri This division of the army was under
the command of Gen. [Nathaniel] Lyon a brave and gallant officer 8
The whole command consisted of a few companies of regulars the
Iowa 1st Vol. the First and 2nd Kansas and the First Mo. the
whole army did not consist of more than 4000 men This army was
marching to join Col Seigel who was at Springfield with 1500
men We were also in pursuit of the rebel Gen Price McCulloch

3. Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, U. S. volunteers, assumed command of the Army of the
West on May 31, 1861. His forces, in four brigades, totaled about 5,800 men. The first
brigade (under Maj. Samuel D. Sturgis) included four companies of cavalry, four First
U. S. infantry companies, two Second Missouri companies and Capt. James Totten's Second

Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 20) → online text (page 13 of 76)