Mitchell County,

Mitchell County is a county located in the State of Kansas. The official county code for Mitchell County is MC. As of 2000, the population is 6,932. The largest city and county seat is Beloit. Mitchell County is home to Waconda Lake, also known as Glen Elder Rervoir, the third largest in Kansas. Mitchell County is also home to the World's Biggest Ball of Twine, in Cawker City.


The Early History of Mitchell County
by William G, Cutler (1883)
Mitchell County is situated in the northern part of the State, and is bounded on the north by Jewell County; on the east by Cloud and Ottowa; on the south by Lincoln; and on the west by Osborne.

The Solomon River flows into the county from the northwest corner, and passes through it in an easterly direction, bearing enough south to leave the county at about the center of its east line. The river is quite a rapid stream in this county, and furnishes many mill privileges along its course. Its tributaries are long, well-timbered streams. Commencing in the northwest, Oak Creek comes first, then Granite, the Limestones, Brown's Creek, Mulberry, Plum and the Asher creeks on the north side of the river; while on the south the streams are not quite so long, but are all well timbered. In regular order, from west to east. comes the South Fork, Carr Creek, Hard Scrabble, Walnut Creek, Turkey Creek, Indian Creek, Laban Creek, Marshall Creek and Fourth Creek. Through the south part of the county runs Salt Creek, with its many large tributaries, making Mitchell one of the best watered counties in the state.

The soil is a rich loam, and in the valleys is very deep. Twenty-five per cent of the county is bottom land, and a little over two per cent is native forest. The surface of the country is undulating. Several varieties of wild grasses were growing here when the settlers first began to arrive. They have given place, however, to cultivated grasses, and now only two of the native varieties are common, viz.: Buffalo grass and blue stem. The first is a short, succulent sort of moss, which grows by being trampled upon and broken; hence the name of its former chief cultivator attaches to it.

At each point where broken by the hoof of the buffalo, it extends a runner like that of the strawberry vine, and immediately sets another root. Since the millions of buffalo have been driven from the plains, this grass is giving place to the tall blue stem. The buffalo grass is the first to appear in the spring, and grows rapidly until a thick mat of solid green coats the ground. It dies or cures before the 1st of July. The blue stem is the grass most available for hay, and often grows to a height of eight feet; but is ready for the stack at about twenty inches. Many acres of blue grass are now in good growing condition in the county, but it is quite difficult to make any tame grass take root in the wild ground.

The most general, and for all purposes the most profitable, crop in this county is corn. Wheat and rye are also a favorite with many, and in 1882 the yield of all these cereals was large. Spring wheat is not much in favor among the farmers of this county, although about 2,500 acres were harvested, which yielded 35,000 bushels. The number of acres of corn planted this season was 74,437, and the yield amounts to 2,223,110 bushels. The number of acres of rye in this county was 8,000, which averaged twenty bushels per acre. Over 200,000 bushels of oats were raised, and the average yield was forty bushels per acre; 602 acres of sorghum were planted, and the yield amounts to 54,180 gallons of syrup. The broom corn crop is one of the sure and profitable ones, and in 1882 this county planted 8,683 acres, which yielded 3,040 tons.

The wool clip of Mitchell for 1882 was 91,000 pounds, which will be greatly increased in 1883, as several thousand head of sheep have been brought into the county this fall. Over $18,000 worth of poultry and eggs were shipped from the county in 1882; 310,000 pounds of butter were manufactured during the year ending March 1, 1882. In the south part of the county many salt springs are found. The largest one, however, is the Great Spirit's Spring, in Cawker Township, section 35. This spring is being improved by a company of Eastern gentlemen, who intend to make it a resort for invalids. The water of this spring possesses medicinal properties which in time will make the property valuable.

Early Settlements and Indian Troubles
In the fall of 1867 a few settlers moved into the county, and in the spring of 1868 several log houses were built along the river, from the east line to a point where Solomon Rapids is now located. It is, perhaps, safe to state that the first actual white settler in Mitchell County was Joseph Decker, who early in 1866 located on the Charles Davis farm, north of the village of Glen Elder. Mr. Decker filed on this quarter section of land at the Junction City Land Office, and came on with quite a large herd of cattle and built a dug-out and broke a little spot for garden. Before fall the Indians drove off his cattle, and he abandoned the country.

Among the earliest permanent settlers were Hon. John Reese, of Asherville, Thomas Howie and William Joiner, just below the forks of Asher Creek; Mathias Nelson, David Bogardus and B. Bell at the mouth of Plum Creek; Whit McConnell and Tunis Bulis, between Asher and Plum creeks, on the river; James Farrow and James Duff, just above Plum Creek, on the river; near where Beloit was afterwards located, H. A. Bell and John Whitehurst and his sons, Vinton and Abraham: and at Solomon Rapids, John Smith. Early in the spring of 1868 nearly all of these settlers were making primitive improvements, from the east line of the county west as far as Solomon Rapids.

At the mouth of Marshall Creek the family of Abram Marshall, consisting of himself, wife, two grown sons and two daughters, were living and building a dam for the future improvement of the Solomon. Two miles north, Charles Welch and B. F. Moody were building a dug-out and breaking prairie. Rumors of Indians in the neighborhood occasionally reached their ears, but the settlers paid little heed, except to picket their stock a little closer to camp and prepare to protect themselves and their property against these small bands of thieves, as they were then considered.

During the early part of the summer several teams were stolen along the valley, and in August the Cheyennes and Sioux, or roving bands of outlaws from each, came into the valley and called at the house of A. A. Bell, where the city of Beloit now stands. After a long parley, the Indians passed down the valley, and the settlers becoming alarmed, also started east to round up at Thomas Howie's, on Asher Creek. The Indians hung about the mouth of Plum and Asher Creeks for for several days, when they called at the house of B. Bell, and calling him and David Bogardus from the log house, shot them dead.

They then compelled Mrs. B. Bell to mount a pony and start down the river with them. Two children of A. A, Bell - Maggie, aged six years and Esther, aged eight - were also captured. Mrs. B. Bell rode only about 300 yards from the house where her husband had been killed, when she jumped from the pony and started back. The Indians not having the time to spare to recapture her, turned and fired a volley at her; one bullet struck her in the breast, and she fell, and this band of Indians left her. She was found by the settlers and taken to Thomas Howie's, where she lived in terrible agony, without the care of a physician, for three weeks.

On the 17th of August a young son, aged fourteen years, of Mr. Hewett, who had settled on Brown's Creek, came into the stockade in a most deplorable condition, and reported that the Indians had killed his father three days before and wounded him. He was properly cared for and recovered. His sister now lives in Osborne County, where his mother afterwards located. Company G of the Seventh Cavalry, then stationed at Fort Harker, received orders to make a reconnoissance in the direction of the Solomon Valley, with a view to the protection of the settlers, and on their way over, their scouts came across the party of Indians who had the Bell children prisoners. The soldiers pressed them so closely that they abandoned the children on the high prairie, where they were afterward found and returned to their parents at the Howie stockade. Miss Maggie Bell is now living with her parents in Decatur County; while her sister, Esther, is Mrs. J. B. Dunlap, who resides in Bloomfield Township, in Mitchell County.

While the settlers of the valley were being "rounded up" by the different bands of Indians at this time, the two sons of Abram Marshall, accompanied by a man named Thompson, left the stockade at Howie's and went over to their dug out, at the mouth of the creek which bears their name, to secure the provisions which had been left there. On their way they saw a lone Indian come out of the underbrush which skirts the river on the north side. They gave chase, and the Indian led them in a northeasterly direction, nearly toward the stockade, but, on reaching the bluffs, turned abruptly to the north, up a ravine, where they were confronted by a band of thirty-five Indians, who opened fire upon Thompson and the Marshall brothers, killing them instantly.

The company of soldiers, under Lieut. De Rudio, who had found the daughters of Aaron Bell, arrived on the banks of the Solomon, near the mouth of Asher Creek, and went into camp in the afternoon. About sunset two Indians rode out of the timber and boldly approached the horses of the company, tied to the picket rope, and, selecting De Rudio's horse, untied it and started across the broad river bottom in a northwesterly direction. One of the Indians who had taken the Lieutenant's horse was mounted on a fleet sorrel pony, and the other, who kept quite a distance ahead, rode a large and powerful mule, probably stolen from some of the settlers. Orderly Sergeant Harris was the first in the saddle, and the leader in the chase of four miles to the bluffs, where the schoolhouse now stands. Here the Indian on the pony dismounted, and, throwing a spear into the flank of his pony, mounted the Lieutenant's horse and easily escaped.

The stockade at Asher Creek that winter was one of the liveliest places in the far West. Many of the settlers previously mentioned wintered there, and were joined by George Ealand, William Holton, John Cushing, and John Owen, who was a trapper then, now a substantial farmer of Osborne County. John Owen was elected commander of the stockade because of his frontier experience. He protested strongly against this promotion, but was unanimously chosen, and during the night packed his traps and fled from this forced civilization, and went to the head waters of the Cimaron, in the panhandle of Northern Texas, to hunt and trap alone.

The soldiers came west to a point two miles south of Cawker City that fall, and built a block house on the bank of the Solomon, which was abandoned shortly after, and early in 1869, Dr. Rose, of Junction City, filed on this tract of land and came to make settlement in the early spring. He remained on the claim but a short time, when he discovered roving bands of Indians in several different directions. He was expecting his family, who were then on the road. Writing a hasty history of the situation on the blockhouse door, he started down the valley in the darkness to meet his family and turn them back. His body was afterward found on the hill west of Glen Elder. A pile of stones marks the spot where he met his death.

Later in 1869 and during the winter of 1870, many settlers located claims, and the government established a post west of the Great Spirit's Springs, on the north bank of the river, to which Battery B of the Fourth United States Artillery was assigned, commanded by Capt. H. C. Hasbrouck. Later this company was relieved by G Troop of the Seventh United States Cavalry, under the command of Lieut. C. C. De Rudio, Second Lieut. McIntosh, a full- blooded Chippewa Indian, being second in command, April, 1870, and the raids of the Indians were not quite so frequent.

They were not wholly deterred at once from trips into the valley, for on May 9, a party of Cheyennes and Arapahoes came down Oak Creek, and near the county line came across a party composed of Lew J. Best, John Hatcher, R. G. F. Kshinka and John A. Seger, from the young settlement of Cawker City, who were looking up valuable tracts for settlers, and "rounded them up" in a buffalo wallow for several hours. The party of four were well armed, and by lying close to the ground and keeping up a continual firing at any advancing Indians, kept them at bay for four hours. Lew J. Best was wounded by a stray bullet in that portion of his anatomy most exposed while lying prone upon the ground.

The Indians, finding the party difficult of capture, abandoned them and passed east to the Limestone, and down that creek until they came upon the little settlement at Glen Elder, where they killed Solomon Meiser, John Geer and Mr. Kenyon. The bodies of these men were found in the river, a few yards below where the mill now stands. Mr. Geer was killed by a stroke in the forehead with a tomahawk, and was lying on a sand bar where the road crosses the stream; Kenyon was shot with a revolver, and Meiser was pierced by seven arrows which were still sticking in his body.

The settlers fled in different directions, but nearly all found shelter at the stockade erected on the farm of George W. Stinson. Among those who sought shelter at that time were Hon. D. C. Everson, John Neve, Milton Spencer, Scott Guffy and many others. The troops came down from Spirit's Springs, and the Indians fled, one party going north, and the other southwest, to the plains. Twenty days later they again appeared near Cawker City, and were reconnoitering the camp of troops on the river. Uncle John Seger was alone in the little town of Cawker, which then consisted of one house and a sod stable, and the Indians - some thirty in number - not knowing how many persons might be concealed in the stable, declined to attack it.

The whole force of settlers were then several miles down the valley hauling lumber and a saw-mill from the railroad. Uncle John clad himself in different suits of clothes belonging to the parties who were away at work, and appeared first in one suit and then another, personating different men, until he apparently convinced them that the sod stable was filled with brave whites, who desired a parley. That night ten horses were stolen from the ranch of Best & Hatcher, on Oak Creek, two miles west of Cawker, while nearly a dozen men were concealed in the house, silent but passive witnesses to their own robbery.

The final attempt to reclaim this beautiful valley for the buffalo and the Indian was made by a party of dusky raiders July 2d. It proved unsuccessful, and civilization triumphed. The buffalo made one more attempt July 5th, 1872, when a straggler from the main herd came through Cawker City, then a flourishing village of 250 inhabitants; and was killed on the main street, dying near the scales just in front of where Mead & Tandy's store now stands.

County Organization and Elections
Early in 1870 the county, as described in the beginning of this sub-division, was decided to have sufficient population to demand an organization. The county had been named in honor of Capt. William D. Mitchell, who enlisted in the Union army during the late rebellion as a private soldier in the Second Kansas Cavalry, and after promotion to captain, was killed in the battle at Monroe's Cross Roads in North Carolina, on the 10th of March, 1865.

A meeting of the special board of County Commissioners appointed by the Governor, was held October 4, 1870. These commissioners were, J. M. Myers, William E. Schooley and Charles L. Brown; Don A. Peaslee clerk. At that meeting the county was divided into voting precincts as follows:

Asherville, No. 1, to be composed of Townships 6-7-8. in Range 6, with voting place at the dwelling of John Reese.

Beloit, No. 2, to be composed of Townships 6-7-8 in Range 7, and the voting place to be at the stone house in Beloit.

Solomon Rapids, No. 3, to be composed of Townships 6-7-8, in Range 8, and the voting place to be at the house of R. C. Clark.

Glen Elder, No. 4, to be composed of Townships 6-7-8, in Range 9, with the voting place at the house of George W. Stinson.

Cawker, No. 5, to be composed of Townships 6-7-8, in Range 10, with voting place at Cawker City.

Salt Creek, No. 6, to be composed of Township 9. Ranges 6-7-8-9-10, with the voting place at the house of J. A. Markley on Fourth Creek.

No. 1 was afterwards divided as per Congressional Townships, Township 6 being called Lulu; Township 7, Asherville; Township 8, Logan; Township 9, Eureka. Beloit precinct was divided, and Township 6, named Plum Creek; 7, Beloit: 8, Bloomfield, and 9, Salt Creek. Solomon Rapids was cut up, and Turkey Creek, Center and Round Springs made from that range of townships. Glen Elder, made Walnut Creek, Hayes and Blue Hills; Cawker precinct furnished Carr Creek and Pittsburg, with Custer in the extreme southwest.

The first election resulted in the choice of the following County Officers: Commissioners, C. L. Brown, William E. Schooley, Lew J. Best; Clerk, Laf. C. Smith; Probate Judge, James Britt; Sheriff, W. B. Smith; County Attorney, Don A. Peaslee; Treasurer, H. J. Messenger; Superintendent of Public Instruction, J. W. Elliott; Coroner, J. W. Clark; Representative, E. Harrison, Cawker.

Since this first election, the representatives in the State Legislature have been in regular order. John Reese of Asherville, John Curtain of Beloit, D. C. Everson of Glen Elder, Harry Babcock of Walnut Creek, W. L. Warning of Center, Horace Cooper, Charles J. Brown, Capt. F. Charlesworth of Beloit, and John M. Kyle, of Carr Creek.

In the winter of 1880, the county was divided into two representative districts, the western district being composed of Solomon Rapids and all of the territory west of the west line of that township. Mitchell County managed to get along without the usual unpleasant county-seat contest, or at least without the unpleasantness commonly engendered. Beloit was selected by a vote of nearly two to one over all other competitors (see history of Beloit).

A court house building was needed at once, and T. F. Hersey built one in 1871 and presented it to the county. The building cost Mr. Hersey about $4,000, and was amply sufficient for the county at that time. The county built a jail shortly after, at an expense of $800; although it cost its builders as much in proportion as the court house, it has as yet never proved of much avail. About the only prisoners ever confined therein, were a couple of alleged horse thieves, who stole the extra blankets provided by kind hearted Sheriff Hatcher, took out the horrid grates which obscured the window, and passed through the orifice out into a purer sphere. They have never been heard from and the frugal janitor of the court house appropriated the hole to toss coal through for winter consumption in the various county offices.

The county business at present (1882), is in charge of the following officers: Commissioners, W. L. Record, First District; J. S. McGrath, Second District; Samuel Depoy, Third District; Treasurer, James L. Buchanan; Clerk, George W. Clark; Sheriff, W. H. Langford; County Attorney, A. H. Ellis; Register of Deeds, W. T. Yates; Clerk of District Court, W. S. Search; Probate Judge, John Mehl; Superintendent of Public Instruction, M. J. Wilcox; Coroner, Joseph Riley.

Schools, Railroads, and Other Matters
The rapid settlement and growth of the county led to a rapid formation of school districts and erection of school houses. The county is now sub-divided into 106 districts, with suitable buildings in each for school purposes; there are 4,574 pupils of school age; 3,733 of which are enrolled, and the average yearly attendance for the year ending August 1, 1???, amounted to 2,461 pupils. One hundred and thirty-two teachers were employed and the amount expended for school purposes during that year reached the sum of $23,519.33. Rev. O. N. Fletcher, a Baptist minister, taught the first school in the county, in the little settlement of Beloit. Although this was the first school in the county, before the term closed, not less than a dozen others were in progress in different parts of the county.

The Central Branch Railroad was built through the county in the summer of 1879, and received the bonds of the county in the sum of $50,000 in aid thereof. The Solomon Valley Railway, a branch of the Kansas Pacific division of the Union Pacific, also extended its line from Solomon City on the Kansas Pacific to the county-seat of Mitchell. Both roads then passing into the hands of one management, further extension through the county became unnecessary, and the work on the Solomon Valley line was stopped at Beloit.

Mitchell, like many other of the western counties of Kansas, suffered from the ravages of the grasshoppers in 1874, and many settlers left the county in order to provide food for themselves during the winter. Much assistance was rendered the needy settlers through the organized State and county societies, for the distribution of Eastern charity. Good crops in 1875 and 1876, however, brought back the population which the county had lost, and Mitchell again commenced to prosper. This county is well settled, nearly every quarter section being under a degree of improvement. The abundance of good building rock has led to the erection of a class of buildings, both farm and business houses, which are both beautiful and substantial.

The milling interest is perhaps the most important manufacturing industry in the county, and the Solomon River affords an abundance of water and plenty of fall. Beginning at the east line of the county, and in fact on the county line, at the little village of Simpson is located Simpson's mill, with two run of stones and a strong power. This is one of the oldest mills in the county. Five miles west of the line is the stone-grist mill of B. W. Tanquary, with four run of stones, built in 1874, by Williams & Finnegan, of Beloit. This mill has a large business, running night and day. The property is valued at $18,000. The next mill on the river is grown from the one started by T. F. Hersey at Beloit, in 1869; further reference will be made to this property in the history of Beloit.

Six miles west of Beloit is another custom-mill, known as the Jamison Bros.' Mill, it has two run of burrs and plenty of custom work. The property is valued at $6,000. At Glen Elder, Kaull & Nash have a flouring-mill, with three run of stone, doing a large business. This mill was built in 1871, by Neve & Spencer, and is now one of the most valuable establishments of the kind in the west part of the State.

Three miles south of Cawker City, T. F. Hersey located his homestead, and commenced building a mill in 1872, in company with Hon. John Curtin. They labored under many difficulties on account of frequent floods, but in 1873 the dam was completed, and the mill has been in operation ever since. The mill operates four run of stone, and is valued at $15,000. On the west line of the county the Jackson Bros. have a splendid milling property built in 1875, and doing a vast business. The property is valued at $15,000.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,861 km² (719 mi²). 1,813 km² (700 mi²) of it is land and 49 km² (19 mi²) of it (2.62%) is water.

As of the census of 2000, there were 6,932 people, 2,850 households, and 1,863 families residing in the county. The population density was 4/km² (10/mi²). There were 3,340 housing units at an average density of 2/km² (5/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.61% White, 0.52% Black or African American, 0.40% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.23% from other races, and 0.91% from two or more races. 0.88% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 2,850 households out of which 27.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.30% were married couples living together, 5.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.60% were non-families. 31.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.50% under the age of 18, 8.50% from 18 to 24, 22.50% from 25 to 44, 23.10% from 45 to 64, and 21.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 97.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $33,385, and the median income for a family was $41,899. Males had a median income of $26,478 versus $20,220 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,653. About 6.50% of families and 9.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.50% of those under age 18 and 7.20% of those age 65 or over.

Cities and towns
Incorporated cities
Name and population (2004 estimate):

Beloit, 3,781
Cawker City, 488
Glen Elder, 411
Tipton, 235
Simpson, 106
Hunter, 74
Scottsville, 20

Unified school districts
Waconda USD 272
Beloit USD 273

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