Riley County History
"Riley County--Blue Ribbon County of Kansas," 1881
Grant township lies north and west
from Manhattan township, and contains about seventy-one square miles of
territory. The most of the valleys of
Mill creek and Wild Cat creek are within its limits, but the larger part of it is
what is known as bluff land. Some of
the earliest settlers in the county located on these creeks, among whom
may be mentioned Henry Condray , and
his sons, Mincher, Wm. and John, Jonas Kress, John Warner and his sons
George and John, Marcena Jesse and
D. R. White on Mill creek ; and S. D.
Houston, John Hardy, the Hairs, M.
Eubanks, Lemuel Knapp, and his numerous sons and daughters, L. Westover, Sam Kimble and Geo. Lyle, on
the Wild Cat.
The crops grown are the same as in
Manhattan, and here, too, the stock
STOCKDALE is located at the junction of Mill creek
with the Big Blue, and it will be a
station on the Blue Valley railway
when completed. It now has a store
and blacksmith shop, run by J. D.
Sweet, who is also post master. There
was, at one time, a saw mill at this
place, and it is probable that Mill
creek will again be utilized as a water
power. The fall in the Big Blue will
also justify a dam near there, which
will be built in the not distant future.
About eleven miles from Manhattan,
up Wild Cat creek, at the cheese factory, there is what is known as Wild
Cat post office, with J. W. Stephens,
one of the most influential men in that
section, as post master. Grant post
office, presided over by Mr. Kennedy,
is located a few miles up the creek,
W. F. Vance, of Grant post office, has
a fine sheep ranch on this creek, and
Geo. Lyle, whose post office is Riley
Centre, has raised sheep successfully
for many years.
The township contains one log, six
frame and four stone school houses ;
no debt, and the rate of taxation, except in a few school districts, is low.
To stock raisers, especially, we can
recommend this township.
There are a number of splendid
farms in this township that can be
purchased, at the present time, for
one-fourth what they will be worth a
few years hence, and now is the time
EX-GOVERNOR N. GREEN.
The ablest and most widely known
citizen of Grant township is Hon.
N. Green, whose home farm is in
the valley of Mill creek, about one
mile from Stockdale,
Mr. Green was born March 8th, 1837,
in Hardin county, Ohio, and finished
his education at the Ohio Wesleyan
University. He taught school for a
number of years in Logan and Champaign counties, and, in March, 1855,
came to Kansas and took a claim in
Douglas county. At that time Kansas was inhabited almost entirely by
Indians and coyotes, and was, in veritable truth, a "howling" wilderness.
The earliest white settlers had arrived
only a few months before, and the
only thing that could with certainty
be predicted of the future was, "there
is trouble ahead."
In 1857, Mr. Green was admitted to
the bar, and practiced law for a couple
of years, but lawyers were more numerous than clients in those days ;
and, finding that the Free State men
were no longer in danger of being out-voted or overpowered by the Border
Ruffians, he returned to Ohio, and entered the ministry.
In 1859, he joined the Cincinnati
Conference of the Methodist Episcopal
church, and was stationed at Aberdeen and Williamsburg,
until President Lincoln's call for troops drew
him into the army.
In 1862, he entered the Eighty-fifth
Ohio Infantry as Lieutenant of Company B, and served under General
Cox in West Virginia during the celebrated campaign which brought General
McClellan so prominently before
the Nation. It will be remembered
that General Cox's troops did a large
part of the fighting in this glorious
campaign ; and Lieutenant Green with
his company helped to win the day at
Charleston and Gully Bridge.
The Eighty-fifth Ohio was afterward transferred to the army of the
Cumberland, under General Tecumseh
W. Sherman, and Lieutenant Green
remained with him until 1864. During the Atlanta campaign, the young
soldier came near losing his life by
over-exertion. One day, on the march,
the weather was so hot that many of
his men gave out, and were absolutely
unable to carry their knapsacks ; and
the kind-hearted officer, who, though
small, was unusually strong, relieved
them of their loads until he finally
weighted himself down, and fell bleeding from the lungs a victim to his
generosity. For a long time he was
not expected to live ; and, on recovery,
was compeled, by the advice of his
physicians, to resign his position and
return home. He, however, was afterward appointed Major of the 153d
Ohio, and took part in what is known
as the Hundred Day Campaign in
In 1865, he came back to Kansas,
joined the Kansas Conference of the
Methodist Episcopal church, and was
stationed at Manhattan two years.
In 1866, he was elected Lieutenant
Governor of Kansas, and, upon the
resignation of Governor Crawford, November 4th, 1868, succeeded him as
Governor for the remainder of the
During 1870-1 he was Presiding Elder
of the Manhattan District, but, in consequence of his wife's ill-health, he "located" and retired to his farm, until
1873 when he again entered the Conference, and was stationed at Holton
during 1873-74, and at Waterville during 1875. After his hemorrhage in the
army, Mr. Green was never again as
strong as he had been, and was in such
danger of returning attacks that he
was finally compeled to locate permanently; but, nevertheless, he continues to preach occasionally, especially
when churches are to be dedicated and
debts paid off, as he is peculiarly fitted
for such work. His last dangerous
hemorrhage (which nearly ended his
earthly career) resulted from overwork
and heat at one of these meetings.
In November, 1880, Mr. Green was
prevailed upon by his neighbors to allow them to use his name as a candidate for the Legislature, and he is now
serving the State in that capacity.
Mr. Green owns one of the finest
farms on Mill creek. It contains three
hundred and twenty acres, the larger
part of which is splendid bottom land,
under a high state of cultivation. It
also has an abundance of timber, stone,
water, etc. He has some thorough-bred animals and a large herd of grade
cattle. He was among the first men
n the county to adopt the plan of
pushing his cattle from the start and
feeding them until they were ready for
the butcher; and his were the first
Riley county animals known to have
been bought in the Kansas City market for shipment to England.
As a minister, "the Governor," as
he is universally called, is very popular. His style in the pulpit is earnest
and clear, with an occasional mixture
of humor ; and, as he is unusually intelligent and a vigorous thinker, it
seems to be a pity that his health, will
not permit him to take a regular pastorate again.
On the stump, the Governor is inimitable. Thoroughly posted on political questions, with remarkably quick
perceptive faculties, he is able to bring
about the strong points of his own side
and make them stronger, and the
weak points of his opponent's side
and make them weaker ; and with it
all his irresistible wit is sure to keep
his auditors in a good humor with
themselves, himself and his cause. In
this respect, he certainly has no equal
in Kansas and but few in the Union.
A thoroughly upright man in his
private character, a zealous and conscientious Christian minister, and a
progressive, patriotic citizen and official, it is to be hoped that he will live
long to help the right and oppose the
In 1860, Mr. Green married Miss Ida
Leffingwell, of Williamsburg, Ohio,
who died in 1870, leaving three children Glenzen S., Effie and Alice.
In 1873, he married his present wife,
Miss Mary Sturdevant, of Rushville,
New York, by whom he has two children Burtis U. and Ned M. He has
two brothers in Kansas Lewis F.
Green, of Douglas county, who was
the coalition candidate for Congress in
the second district last fall, and Geo.
S. Green, of Manhattan, of the firm of
Green & Hessin, Attorneys at Law,
and who is now representing the
southern part of Riley county in the
J. D. SWEET.
BLACKSMITH AND GROCERY DEALER.
Mr. Sweet is a native of Ohio, where
he was born in 1847. He came to Kansas in 1878, and went to work for his
board on a farm in Linn county. He,
however, soon obtained employment
at good wages, until he sold out and
left Kansas. But he could not remain
away, and, on returning, located in
Stockdale in 1878, and bought out Mr.
Riggs. He rented the store for a year,
and worked at his trade as a blacksmith. Being an excellent workman,
he soon established a good paying
trade, which has continued to this day.
He erected a new and more convenient
shop, and made other improvements
which added greatly to the attractiveness of the place.
The store came back into his possession in the fall of 1879, and, although
he had never had any experience in
the grocery business, he resolved, contrary to the advice of friends, to put in
a stock of goods, and conduct it himself.
He has been very successful in his
new undertaking, and has given the
best of satisfaction to his patrons, by
furnishing them a
good quality of goods
at as low prices as they can be bought
for at any other place in this vicinity.
His stock is selected with the greatest
care, to meet the wants of the class of
customers that patronize his store. He
has an extensive assortment of goods
for a place of this size, consisting of a
choice line of groceries, dry goods,
boots and shoes and notions.
The store is much needed at this
point, and Mr. Sweet's efforts to make
his establishment a place where farmers can get all the necessaries of life,
without having to travel to Manhattan, is appreciated by the inhabitants
of Mill creek and the Blue valley in
that section, and they purchase the
larger proportion of their groceries of
His prices are as low as those at
Manhattan, and he pays as much for
butter and eggs as the merchants do
Mr. Sweet was appointed post master soon after he arrived at Stockdale,
which office he has filled ever since, to
the entire satisfaction of all. He is
courteous and obliging, and has the
entire confidence of the surrounding
community. His thorough and upright dealings have made him hosts
of warm friends, and his trade increases quite rapidly.
WALNUT GROVE STOCK FARM.
J. J. LOVETT AND E. A. RUTHERFORD, PROPRIETORS.
In the fall of 1856 more than twenty-four years ago the writer slept his
first sleep in Riley county in a log
building located on what is now known
as the "Walnut Grove Stock Farm."
Even in that early day, the valley of
Wild Cat creek was noted far and
wide as the granary of what was then
Western Kansas. The farmers among
the early settlers who came to Kansas
from Illinois and Indiana had eagle's
eyes for choice locations, and it is a
significant fact that the Wild Cat valley was settled by them long before
the bulk of the river bottom lands
The Wild Cat rises near the center
of the county, north and south, runs
in a south-easterly direction about
twenty miles, and empties into the
Kansas at Manhattan. From its
mouth to its source it is hemmed in by
ranges of hills with every conceivable
slope, from the most gradual to the almost perpendicular, but the ranges are
broken every mile or so by ravines or
streams, from one-half a mile to five
The creek itself and the streams that
flow into it are skirted with timber,
which also covers many of the hillsides, and springs abound throughout
the entire region.
The constantly changing scenery
along the road up the creek is entrancingly beautiful, and lovers of the
sublime can never pass over it without experiencing delightful emotions. With
its picturesque windings in and out
among the hills, the Wild Cat valley is
admitted to be one of the most delightful in Kansas, and we will add that
some of the most prosperous farmers
in the county live within its borders.
Situated six and one-half miles from
Manhattan, just where the Wild Cat
makes a large bend to the south, enclosing about four hundred acres of
the best bottom land in the valley,
Walnut Grove Stock Farm.
with Haskins creek coming in and
bounding it on the east, and North
Branch, a small but never failing brook
flowing from the north and bounding
it on the west, are located two farms of
two hundred acres each, which, as they
have been purchased and held and
worked together, by Messrs. Lovett
& Rutherford, have come to be jointly
known as "The Walnut Grove Stock
It is doubtful if there is another
tract of land in Kansas better adapted
in every way, for stock raising purposes, than this, either taken as a
whole or as two farms.
Before commencing to describe this
double farm, it may not be improper to
say that one of the objects of this
sketch book is to induce immigration
by describing everything as it is, including, of course, some of the farms
that are for sale ; and in doing this we
shall endeavor to simply state actual
facts, in an impartial spirit, without
the gross exaggeration that is so common in similar works.
We will also add that Walnut Grove
Stock Farm is for sale, either as a whole
or in separate tracts, together with the
thoroughbreds, grade cattle, hogs and
other stock that is now on the place.
The property is to be sold, partly because the firm, for reasons of their own,
desire to dissolve partnership, and
partly because Mr. Lovett and Mr.
Rutherford each owns a large farm
seven miles west of Chicago, Illinois.
THE LOVETT TRACT, consisting of two hundred acres,
stretches entirely across the valley of
the Wild Cat, and both the northern
and southern lines lay among the foothills of the high prairie on the north
and south sides of the creek. The
Wild Cat runs through the southern
portion, east and west. There are
about twenty acres of heavy walnut
and hickory timber. With the exception of these twenty acres and about
ten acres in the point of the bluff, it
can all be cultivated.
The dwelling house, a conveniently
arranged frame building, with stables
and corrals are nestled under the bluffs
on the northeast corner of the farm,
on a plateau sloping down to Haskins'
creek, which, coming in from the
north, furnishes water for the stock,
and forms the eastern boundary the
whole distance to the Wild Cat.
The main road crosses Haskins'
creek a short distance south of the
house, and, passing on west, winds
around at the foot of the bluffs, and is
soon lost to view.
The ground surrounding the house
is the kind that is best adapted, here
in Kansas, to the raising of fruit, being
sheltered from the strong winds, with
slope enough to the south and east to
afford a perfect drainage.
There are cool springs gushing out
from the surrounding bluffs, and, with
a very little trouble or expense, water
can be brought with pipes into every
room in the house.
Mr. Lovett took possession of this
place late in the fall of 1878, but a little over two years ago, yet in that
short time he has made great improvements by building corrals and sheds
for sheltering stock, stables, cribs, etc.,
besides repairing the house and making other decided improvements.
THE RUTHERFORD TRACT.
Mr. Rutherford has spent his summers in Illinois, and, consequently,
his portion of this farm has generally
been under the care of renters, yet
it has been kept up in good shape, and,
as he has spent his winters here, improving the place, one would hardly
know it had ever been a rented farm.
This tract, also containing two hundred acres, is entirely bottom land.
About forty acres of it is heavily
timbered with oak, hickory, walnut,
The Wild Cat divides its southern
half, and the farm takes in both banks
of that stream, and, like Mr. Lovett's
piece, it adjoins an unlimited range,
both north and south.
The North branch puts into the
Wild Cat, and forms his west line a
part of the distance from the point
where it leaves the bluffs until it
reaches the Wild Cat. It . makes a
turn to the east when about one-half
the distance to the main creek is
reached, and Mr. Rutherford's line
crosses and takes in the whole of this
branch the rest of its distance.
The banks of the creek, in places,
slope gradually down to the bed of the
stream, while at other points they
make an abrupt ascent of twenty or
thirty feet. It is very crooked in its
course, and, let the wind come from
whatever quarter it may, a thousand
head of cattle can find the best of protection against it.
There is a good, substantial house,
with a large, stone barn, corrals, cribs,
and other out-buildings on this place.
About one mile in a northerly direction, Mr. Rutherford also owns one
hundred and sixty acres of high prairie land, upon which is located one of
the best springs in Riley county.
It is but a short drive to Manhattan,
which is another great advantage.
The roads with rare exceptions are
always good, and six or seven miles are
but a short distance to travel to reach
one of the best markets in the State.
It is also but five miles to the State
Agricultural College, and students
often attend from a greater distance.
Taking all things into consideration,
it is certainly a most desirable place.
The thoroughbred stock
was largely bred and raised by Messrs.
Lovett & Rutherford. When Mr.
Lovett came from Illinois in 1878, he
brought with him twenty head of
some of the choicest families of cattle
in the United States. He has now
twenty-five left, after selling twenty
head, which were bought by parties in
Colorado, Kentucky, Missouri and other States.
Mr. Lovett has spent a life-time as a
farmer and breeder of cattle. In the
latter business his judgment is good,
as the excellent herd, he has here, of
which the greater number are his own
breeding, goes to show. We shall be
sorry to lose such a promising young
farmer from among us, but if his duty
or inclination calls him to other fields
of labor, we will send him away with
our best wishes, and say God speed,
until he comes back, for the attraction must be very great if it enables
him long to resist the Kansas fever
which he admits has a strong hold
upon him. And when he returns to
Kansas, (as they all do who for any
length of time have tasted its delights
and enjoyed its salubrious climate,) we
will welcome him with open arms.
Mr. Rutherford is a farmer, and always will be a farmer, as he delights
in nothing else so much as this kind of
labor. He is in independent circumstances, and would like very much to
retain the property on the Wild Cat,
providing Mr. Lovett was to remain
JAMES B. STRONG.
DEALER IN GROCERIES, AND MANUFACTURER OF CHEESE.
Mr. Strong is a native of Ashland
county, Ohio, where he was born in
1849. His father was a farmer; and
James R. was brought up as farmers'
sons generally are working hard during the summer months on the farm,
and attending school winters.
At the age of eighteen, he graduated
at Amity Academy, and then commenced a course of teaching. His
health failing, he went to California,
where he had friends and relatives
residing, and spent two years there.
The summers were spent on a dairying ranch up in the mountains. He
obtained a thorough knowledge of this
business, which has assisted him
greatly in his undertakings of later
He married in Iowa, and came to
Kansas in 1877. After farming one
year, he commenced the manufacture
of cheese, at the Wild Cat Cheese Factory. During the winter mouths, he
taught the school at the Wild Cat
district, giving the best of satisfaction.
In 1880, he opened a grocery store
in one part of the cheese factory.
of which a more particular account
will be given hereafter. At present,
we have to do with the factory. This
factory was gotten up by a stock company, and the last few years before
Mr. Strong took charge, it had not
been a paying institution, owing partly to the false idea that a foreign market must be secured.
Mr. Strong revolutionized matters in every particular,
when the factory came under his
charge. He immediately proceeded to
establish a home market for his cheese,
and succeeded beyond the most sanguine expectations of all.
The cheese he manufactured proved
to be equal, and by many is pronounced far superior, to New York cheese;
and instances are known where dealers in Manhattan and Junction City
have bought cheese in Kansas City for
New York make that had Mr. Strong's
private brand on it. Wild Cat cheese
is now preferred by the majority of
the people in this vicinity to that of
any other manufactory, brings as high
a price in the market, and is kept for
sale by all the principal grocers and
dealers in Riley and Davis counties.
From the time Mr. Strong assumed
management up to the present, it has
been a paying institution, not only to
the stockholders, but to the farmers
who sold them their milk.
Mr. Strong purchased a third interest in the factory in the fall of 1880.
During the season of 1880, there were
taken in 230,000 pounds of milk, and
23,000 pounds of cheese were manufactured, which was sold on an average
for 8 1/4 cents per pound.
The grocery store,
which Mr. Strong has connected with
the factory, is an institution much needed by the residents of Wild Cat
and vicinity. There was no place
nearer than Manhattan ten miles
distant at which anything in the
grocery line could be obtained. He
has put in a choice line of these goods
which he is selling as cheap, if not
cheaper, than at Manhattan.
Then he makes it very convenient
for those in that vicinity who will
have milk to sell him next season.
They can obtain their groceries of him,
to be paid for with their milk. The
post office is located here, and Mr.
Strong is acting postmaster.
There is no man in Grant township
more highly respected than Mr. Strong,
He is a young man who is thoroughly
honest and upright in his dealings,
and is well worthy of the extensive
patronage he is receiving, not only
from the patrons of the factory, but
in the grocery store which he has lately opened.
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This website created June 9, 2004 by Sheryl McClure.
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