Kansas State Historical Society.

The Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 20) online

. (page 37 of 76)
Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 20) → online text (page 37 of 76)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

finished the census and sent it to the governor with this certification:
"I certify that the foregoing schedule of bona fide inhabitants of
Pawnee county is correct. Signed: Francis C. Hawkins, Census
taker for Pawnee county." 17 The census report showed 674 in-
habitants in Pawnee county 18 women, 48 children and 618 men
a rather strangely assorted population.

All this had been done in the absence of Dr. Rodgers, who ap-
parently was in Chicago drumming up settlers. When he returned
to Pawnee county on October 28, he was shocked and surprised at
what he saw and heard had been going on in his absence. He
wrote indignantly to W. H. Smallwood, secretary of state, at Topeka:

Oct. 28, 1872

Dear Sir

On my arrival here I found that the most dishonest means are being taken

17. Ibid.


to organize this county. Inhabitants of Hodgeman and other counties are
upon the list. Even persons who are merely travelling by rail have been taken.

And the names of; the workmen from the pay list the A.T. & S.F.R.R. have
been taken while many of them are discharged months since.

Also all the Soldiers names are taken contrary to law. Will you please
stay all proceeding in the matter till I return to Topeka on Wednesday or Thurs-
day first. I am now with two men taking the census.

It will be much to the interest of the state to do so as I am afraid our
Colony will not come if this proceeds as we want to have a Model Colony in
regard to Education, taxation and all else which will benefit them.

We will contest this matter if they persevere in their fraudulent attempts
to organize the county.

Most Respectfully
Your Obedient Servant

N. B. Hawkins says here in public that he takes the census by Governor Har-
vey's request in order to get two men to the legislature to vote for a certain
purpose this winter. SGR 18

Since the date of this letter is the same as that on the census re-
port, the letter must have reached the secretary of state at the
same time as the census report, furnishing to the governor, evi-
dence that his appointed officer, F. C. Hawkins, was guilty of fraud
and perjury in the census report that he had submitted. But fear-
ful perhaps that his letter would not arrive in time, Dr. Rodgers
sent a telegram to the secretary of state, which was received in To-
peka, October 29, at 11 A. M.:

Dated GREAT BEND Ks 28 1872
Received at Oct. 29 11 am


Great fraud in taking census please stop all proceedings till I reach Topeka


From this telegram it is certain that the governor in Topeka knew
that the census of Pawnee county was not above suspicion. Not-
withstanding this, Governor Harvey, on November 4, appointed the
commissioners for Pawnee county and proclaimed the county or-
ganized. Was there fraud in the census of F. C. Hawkins an offi-
cer of the governor? Of this there is no doubt. On May 8, 1873,
A. L. Williams, attorney general of the state of Kansas, filed a quo
warranto proceedings in the supreme court, to set aside the organi-
zation of Pawnee county and in .his petition alleged in detail that

18. Correspondence of the secretary of state, Archives division, Kansas State Historical
Society. As there is no address given in this letter to show from where it was written,
it has been carelessly attributed to Rodgers' Ness county adventure. The date and the
reference to Hawkins, place it without question as referring to the Pawnee county organi-

19. Ibid.


the organization "was procured by fraud and perjury and the census
taken of said county was false and fraudulent." The board of county
commissioners and the county clerk in their answer to the petition
admitted all the allegations of fraud. (State vs Commissioners,
Pawnee County, 12 Kan. 426.)

Why did the governor ignore this evidence of fraud? Here again
an honest courageous stand by the governor might have preserved
the intention of the organization law, rendered helpless the self-
seeking organizers and protected the future citizens of western Kan-
sas from the monstrous debts that were loaded onto them without
their consent and knowledge as a consequence. Timid, intimi-
dated, complaisant, or corrupt the governor ignored the evidence
and proceeded with the organization of Pawnee county.

The record is silent, but considering his telegram, Dr. Rodgers
must have gone to Topeka. It would be interesting to know what
Governor Harvey and the secretary of state told him. Did they
tell him that it was important for counties to be organized now that
the railroad had come through? Did they tell him that settlers
would come more readily if organized law had already been estab-
lished for their protection? These were the arguments later used
by Rodgers when he was under attack for his organization of Ness
county. 20 Did they also tell him that as long as the legal formalities
were fulfilled, they had no power to refuse the organization? In
1875, Governor Osborn, in his message to the legislature asked for
a new county organization law claiming that the 1872 law was
defective in that the governor's "functions are ministerial only,"
and he had no power to deny an organization if the preliminaries
were observed in the counties and the proper papers presented to
him. This was the political alibi of gross neglect of duty on the
part of the governors, in the face of the scandal that broke late in
1874, which concerned the fraudulent organizations of Comanche,
Harper, and Barber counties with their $200,000 bonded indebted-
ness. However, the claim was a misstatement of the law. From
State vs Sillon, et al, 21 Kan. 207, we quote the following, with
respect to the fraudulent organization of Pratt county: "Fraud
and falsehood poison the proceedings throughout, and notwith-
standing the regularity of the records, ... all of these pro-
ceedings, being in violation of law, are void, and the pretended or-
ganization is consequently void."

True it was that Governor Harvey was merely a ministerial offi-

SO. House Journal 1874, pp. 445, 446.


cer of the legislature in the organization of Pawnee county, yet
when he obtained information that one of his appointees, F. C.
Hawkins, had committed fraud and perjury in the census, no law
required the governor to perform a void act. It was the duty of the
governor to investigate the matter and, if the evidence warranted it,
lay the matter before the attorney general for investigation and
prosecution of his guilty appointee. The intention of the legislature
of 1872 was plainly manifest by the act itself. It determined that
there should be 600 bona fide inhabitants before a county could be
organized and, in order to safeguard this requirement, it provided
that the governor should appoint a "bona fide, competent census
taker/' thus guarding at every step the 600 requirement, and
hedging it with a precaution that would have insured such a result
if the governor had diligently performed his duty. 21

While in the light of history, there seems to have been no excuse
for the governor's ready compliance with fraudulent procedures,
still at the time, Dr. Rodgers was apparently convinced of the
validity of the governor's action. He later stated before the legis-
lature of 1874, that he had found it impossible to do anything about
the Pawnee county organization. 22 It follows also that he was
persuaded that nothing could stop any other county organization
along similar lines.

Besides appointing temporary county commissioners and de-
claring the county of Pawnee organized on November 4, 1872, the
governor also designated Larned as the temporary county seat.
In this regard the law stated that the governor should "designate
such place as he may select, centrally located, as a temporary
county seat." Larned was located in the extreme northeast corner
of the county. Although the organization papers and official ap-
pointments could not possibly have arrived, the temporary county
commissioners acted immediately and on the very next day held
an election, 23 first dividing the county into two townships, a voting
precinct in each, in strict observation of the organization law. These
two precincts were located, one at Fort Larned and one at Larned,
within six miles of each other, in the northeast part of a county
30 miles long and 30 miles wide. This action practically excluded

21. The citations of the supreme court and their applications were furnished to the
writer by Judge Lorin T. Peters who, in 1948, was appointed by the supreme court to
try the Morton county-seat case probably the last county seat fight in the state. Dunn
vs Morton County, 165 Kan. 314.

22. The Commonwealth, Topeka, February 4, 1874.

23. November 5 was the regular general election day of 1872. In defending the
Pawnee county organization before the supreme court, 12 Kan. 426, the defendants claimed
mat a .30 day notice of the election was not necessary as everyone was bound to know the
general election date.


the bulk of the county from participation in the election. In the
first place there was no notice of the election and second, no polling
place, at which residents in the more remote parts of the county,
could vote.

However, Captain Criley and his railroad workers, together with
members of the Chicago Workingmen's colony, did not accept this
action passively. Hawkins had listed the railroad workers and the
members of the colony as inhabitants of the county so they decided
they had a right to vote and they proceeded to do so. Unfortunately
we have no unbiased account of this action. Captain Booth recites
it in detail in his history and his supporters in the legislature pre-
sented virtually the same story when the election was later being
considered in the house:

That on the day of said general election, a large number of men were in the
employ of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Co., upon the line of its
road through said county of Pawnee; that the said persons were not legal resi-
dents of said county at the date of the general election, being there temporarily,
and with the intention of moving westward with said road; that no families
were with them, and they have since moved westward; that the said persons
had their headquarters at a place called Camp Criley, which place was situated
in Lamed City, 24 the township voting place being at Lamed City; that on the
day of said general election, about eleven o'clock A. M., certain of aforesaid per-
sons in the employ of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Co., pretended
to organize themselves into an election board . . . and received the votes
of others of said employes or railroad hands until about 4 o'clock P. M. of said
day, when the persons who were acting as judges and clerks of said pretended
election, got aboard of a railroad train without ballot boxes and poll books,
and proceeded west twelve miles to a locality called "Siding No. 2," at which
place they opened the ballot box and received votes of other railroad hands,
and did not return to Camp Criley until 9 P. M. . . . 25

The county commissioners proceedings concerning this election,
written up later, shows only that the county was divided into two
precincts for convenient townships with the Larned township poll-
ing place at Cox & Boyd Hotel in Larned and the Pawnee township
polling place at Booth's sutler store. While the votes were tabulated
by townships for state officers, only the total votes were recorded
for the county offices, indeed the votes for county officers seems
to have been an afterthought. F. C. Hawkins was elected sheriff,

24. There is some confusion as to the location of Camp Criley at this time. Booth
himself states that the camp was moved when the railroad reached a point about 12 miles
west of Larned, which would have been around the latter part of July or first of August.
But other sources seem to indicate that the camp was not moved until after the election
when Criley quarreled with Booth over his refusal to allow the county commissioners to
canvass the votes of the Criley faction.

While it is impossible to know how long these railroad men had been in the county,
it is reasonable to believe that some of them had been there since the railroad came into
the county. Hawkins himself came with this railroad gang. The Booth faction claimed that
only four of the electors who voted in this "outlaw" fashion were legal electors.

25. House Journal, 1873, pp. 417, 418.


but the election tally omitted any mention of Henry Booth's elec-
tion as representative. Thirty-eight votes were cast and no mention
was made of the voting of the other faction. Although Booth said,
"There was no clamoring for office there were more than enough
to go around . . . ," he does in the end become more factual
and names the parties voted for at Camp Criley and points west.
Among the county commissioners was Captain Criley. 26 Other can-
didates for office were A. D. Clute, F. V. Neye and Robert Mc-
Canse, all known to have been members of the Chicago working-
men's colony. Dr. Rodgers was entered as candidate for represen-
tative to the state legislature. It is easy to conjecture that the
Petersburg faction with help from the railroad camp, being excluded
or lacking a polling place out in the county, took matters into their
own hands, provided their own polls and did their own voting. It
was a blundering, straight forward action that would naturally
arouse the scorn of Booth who, ostensibly at least, appreciated the
legal niceties. He saw to it that the county commissioners refused
to canvass these spontaneous votes.

Later others were not so scornful of the effort of Criley, Rodgers,
and followers to cast their votes. The state board of canvassers
confronted by the two sets of election returns for representative
from Pawnee county, solicited the advice of the attorney general
of the state and was advised to canvass neither of them. 27 Hence
when the legislature of 1873 convened, the matter was turned over
to the house itself for a decision.

But when the house gathered in January, 1873, the contest for
representative of Pawnee county was overshadowed by a much
greater problem. The constitution of the state of Kansas provided
that the house should be composed of not more than one hundred
members and that each county should be represented by at least
one member. 28 As the representation had been apportioned earlier
and a number of the eastern counties had several representatives,
each according to population, 99 of the seats were already taken,
leaving only one seat open to the new counties that had been or-
ganized since the legislature met in 1872. 29 This seat was to go to
Norton county 30 as it had been the first of the four new counties

26. Captain Criley, construction boss of the Santa Fe, was a man of great resource
and no emergency daunted him. This election episode was undoubtedly of his planning al-
though there is now no evidence to prove it.

27. House Journal, 1873, p. 416.

28. Kansas Constitution, Article 2, Section 2. Also, Article 10, Section 1. Also, The
Laws of the State of Kansas, 1871, p. 32.

29. At that time, an election was held every year and the legislature met every year.

30. Norton county, organized on August 22, 1872, with presumably 600 inhabitants,
cast 32 votes for representative on November 5, 1872. Another fraudulent organization?


now coming and asking seats. If the others were to be admitted,
then some of the larger counties would have to give up some of their
representatives, as they were not disposed to do. This dilemma
was gotten around by refusing seats to either of the contestants
from Pawnee county, the Rooks county representative and the
Ford county representative, this last having been adjudged illegally
elected anyhow. Therefore, Henry Booth was correct when he
stated in his history, "The constitutional limit having been reached
as to number of representatives, the member from Pawnee, after
eleven days, was voted out together with members from two other

The committee on elections did, however, make some investiga-
tion and a report in the matter of the Pawnee county election. 81
Their report of February 13, stated:

The organization of the county of Pawnee was made and completed in the
city of Topeka on the fourth day of November, 1872, and the pretended elec-
tion held in said county . . . shows that the will of the people could not
have been fully and properly expressed at the said election, occurring the day
after the organization.

And hence your Committee reports that neither of the persons claiming
seats, under said pretended election are entitled to be admitted as members or
delegates in this Legislature. But should this House decide to respect the will
of the people 32 as so expressed in said election, then your Committee would
recommend that Mr. Rodgers be entitled to the seat for the reason that he,
( Mr. Rodgers, ) received 108 votes, and Mr. Booth but 35 votes.

The minority report of the committee was presented by Simeon
Motz of Ellis county and as previously stated, retold the Booth ver-
sion of the election. 33 There was some support in the house for this
minority report but as related above both the majority and minority
reports were more or less ignored, due to the preoccupation of the
house with the problem of keeping the size of the house to its con-
stitutional limit. It is perhaps indicative of the character of that
house, that they respected the 100 member limit set by the constitu-
tion and maintained the status quo, preferring to ignore that other
provision of the constitution that no organized county should be
without representation. In this case, the will of the people desiring

31. House Journal, 1873, p. 416.

32. There was no consistency in the decisions of the house as to the admission of mem-
bers. In the report here quoted, the statement is made that the will of the people could
not possibly have been expressed in so sudden an election and yet goes on to say that if
the house decided to respect the will of the people. These reports so often started out with
expressions concerning the purity of election laws and ended up with a recommendation
of admitting or rejecting members on entirely different grounds. Reno county was organ-
ized January 6, 1871, and the election held January 8, and yet the representative was
allowed to sit.

33. This alignment of the Ellis county representative against Dr. Rodgers marks the
beginning of the Ellis county animosity that was to harrass the doctor later.


expression received scant consideration. Both Rodgers and Booth
were sent home.

Meantime, down in Petersburg, progress had been made:
Undismayed, Dr. Rodgers proceeded with his improvements and on the 5th
day of December 1872 the corner stone of the Buffalo House, (the structure
now known as the Kinsley Hotel,) was laid in ample form by Dr. Rodgers and
Robt. McCanse, 34 between where now is Parker's blacksmith shop and the
railroad track, and the building approached completion as rapidly as the Dr.
could get trusted for material** About this time the railroad company estab-
lished a telegraph office at the tank three miles west of Petersburg . . .,
also A. D. Clute was prospecting about Petersburg, having become a member
of the "Worldngmen's Colony." 86

There were several towns in Pawnee county by early 1873; a gov-
ernment supply point on the railroad southwest of Larned; Garfield,
established near Camp Criley by a colony from Ohio; and Fitchburg
farther down the line. Dr. Rodgers' town continued to improve. In
February the telegraph office and operator had been moved into
Petersburg, the Buffalo House had been sided, by March 10 it was
occupied as a hotel and the railroad trains stopped at the town for
meals. A colony from Illinois and one from Boston, Mass., had
come into the community. 37 This Massachusetts colony was also a
co-operative and since it had much the same ideals and objectives,
seems soon to have merged itself with the workingmen's colony.
There had been bad luck too. A party of Germans, who had come
to Chicago bound for Kansas, had been persuaded to settle in
Petersburg. In the end though, they stopped in Barton county and
settled on the Walnut and Cheyenne bottoms, about six miles from
Great Bend. 38 There were 16 families in this party and it would
have been a sizable addition to the Petersburg community. The
report of the settlement of this group contains the terms offered by
the Chicago colony a town lot 50 x 140 for $50 and a quarter sec-
tion of land for $218.

Another statement of the ambitions of Dr. Rodgers and his colony
is given in the Kansas Daily Commonwealth of March 13, 1873:

34. According to his own account in the Kinsley Graphic, June 14, 1901, Robert Mc-
Canse was a member of the Chicago workingmen's colony. He paid $25 for this mem-

Robert McCanse was appointed census taker in Edwards county in 1874, as a preliminary
to that county's organization. However, he could find but 301 inhabitants and standing
firm on his census, the organization was stalled, until the governor appointed another census
taker. The second census taker was able to find one month later, 611 inhabitants in
Edwards county, which goes to show what the governors might have accomplished had
they been more discriminating in their appointments of census takers.

35. The italics are not those of the original writer but of this copyist. They emphasize
the fact that Dr. Rodgers had little money with which to back his plans.

36. Edwards County Leader, Kinsley, March 14, 1878, a history by J. A. Walker.
Walker, himself, was a member of the Massachusetts colony.

37. Ibid.

38. Kansas Daily Commonwealth, Topeka, February 25, 1873, correspondence from
Great Bend.


Dr. S. G. Rodgers, of Chicago, who had returned from a trip over Atchison,
Topeka & Santa Fe road to the southwest for the purpose of selecting a location
for a colony of six hundred families, says that he has traveled over Europe and
America and testifies that Kansas, and especially the Arkansas valley, is the
most beautiful country he ever saw. He and Messrs. Nye and Redsell had
received from the directors of the A. T. & S. F. railroad, passes to carry them
from Chicago and back in order to select the location for six hundred families
colonist; and he says he never dreamed of such a garden of Eden as that valley
presents to the settler. He says the vegetable mould is from four to ten feet
deep; is inexhaustible, and would, if cultivated, raise food for all Europe. He
thought the people of Kansas were selfish or they would have told the world of
the great beauty and fertility of the state, but he said it would be a secret no
longer, as he and Capt. Nye had begun and would not stop until the valley is
filled with families from Europe and all parts of America.

He said that from the governor to the railroad constructors at the end of the
road, every one had vied with each other as to who would show them the
most kindness, and he would go home to tell the people of Chicago that not
only is Kansas the most beautiful and healthy and fertile state in the union, but
her people are the kindest he ever met.

He said they would bring a steam plow and brick machine, and dig an
artesian well, and make their colony a model for America. Atchison Guide

Despite the discouragements suffered in his contest with Booth
on the county organization and the diversion of his colonists to
Barton county, Rodgers here still seems brimming with enthusiasm.
His words, read today, seem astonishingly prophetic. The steam
plow or its gasoline counterpart did come to western Kansas, the
Arkansas valley presently did help abundantly to feed Europe and
truly the inexhaustibility of the soil became the wonder of scientists

But at the time Rodgers was making his glowing appraisal of
Kansas and her kind people, Booth and his associates had already
counted another coup on the doctor and his supporters. A bill re-
arranging the boundaries of a number of counties, among them
several along the Santa Fe railroad, was quietly passed by the Kansas
legislature on March 5, the day before adjournment. 39 As new

Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 20) → online text (page 37 of 76)