Tuesday, January 17, 2006


February 18, 1856, the Commissioners made the following order: "That until the court house be erected in the county-seat of Riley County, the courts of said county are to be held in the town of Ogden, and we will rent a house belonging to C. R. and R. D. Mobley at a stated sum per month." This building stood on the south side of Riley Street, in Block 19, the cellar over which it stood being visible in 1882, the walls of which remain, and west of which stands a large cottonwood that will mark its site. The house was a small, cheap wooden one, illy contrasting with the Reeder mansion across the street.

Some business for the county seems to have been transacted at the hamlet of Riley City, a place south of the Kansas River, not far from Fort Riley, for in the following journal entry for March 25, 1857, stands recorded: "The County Commissioners went to Riley City this day and brought from there the secretary, table, seals and what records they could find, and deposited them in the Clerk's Office."

The Probate Court had been held in a log-house at Ogden, owned by Lemuel Knapp. It was fourteen feet square and nearly minus windows. But June 1, 1857, an agreement was made with J. U. Parsons to lease his most easterly house, on Riley Street, for the purpose of holding Probate and County Courts, at $12 per month, payable every three months.

Preparatory to a vote on the permanent establishment of the county-seat, four Election Precincts were established September 21, 1857, viz: - Randolph Manhattan, Ogden and Montague. At the election on October 5, the vote for Ogden was Randolph, 9; Manhattan, 8; Ogden, 158; Montague, 23; total, 193. For Manhattan, Randolph, 11; Manhattan, 127; Ogden, 3; Montague, 21; total, 162. Majority for Ogden, 31. A belief that fraud had been practiced at Ogden existed so strongly in the minds of the citizens of Manhattan, that they delegated John Pipher and W. M. Snow to go to Lecompton and obtain some remedy at the hands of the Territorial Governor, but he refused to do anything in the matter. Then the examination of the tally-sheet was the next thing attempted, but the officers in charge of it refused to have it examined. But Esquire Pipher summoned Lemuel Knappp before him at his court in Manhattan, to give testimony concerning the names of minors and soldiers at Fort Riley on the list, and through him mainly it was established that there had been over fifty illegal votes cast, which established Manhattan as the shire town for Riley County.

Daniel Mitchell, who had been County Clerk for nine months, a most efficient officer, resigned his office, December 12, 1857, and was succeeded by Dr. J. W. Robinson, of Manhattan. December 10, Judge Westover ordered that the books, papers, stationery, furniture and all chattels belonging to the county, be delivered into the hands of the Sheriff, subject to the order of the Probate Court. On the 11th, the Sheriff made the following return:

"The within has been duly served. Did not get the books on account of the Clerk being under bonds not to give them up. He came to see the Judge.
D. A. Butterfield, Sheriff of Riley County."
Dr. Amory Hunting, one of the County Commissioners, on December 14, deposed and said that on December 12, he as one of the Commissioners received the resignation of Daniel Mitchell, Clerk of Riley County, and recovered from him sundry books and papers, and things belonging to the county. Six or more men assaulted him and Judge Westover, and they thereby embezzled the said county property. The Sheriff having a search-warrant for said property, made this return:

"The within has been duly served by bringing county-seals, desk, table, three blank books, two small blank books and inkstand. Papers and documents on file not found.
D. A. Butterfield, Sheriff of Riley County." December 14, 1857.
The following preamble and order was adopted, December 21, 1857, at the first Commissioners' meeting held at Manhattan: "WHEREAS the Commissioners in and for the County of Riley, in the Territory of Kansas, have neglected and refused to cause to be erected or otherwise procure suitable court house for the holding of the courts in and for the said county, THEREFORE be it ordered that the Probate Court be holden in the Hoar Building, in the city of Manhattan, during the remainder of the December term of said court, and until other suitable rooms can be erected or otherwise be procured for the holding of said court and for the office of the Clerk of said court."

June 1, 1858, the following journal entry was made: "Ordered that the Clerk be authorized to purchase of West, James & Strouse, of Kansas City, Mo., the building and lot in the First Ward of the city of Manhattan, known as the Scammon Building, for county purposes, provided a good and sufficient title can be obtained, at an amount not to exceed $600, payable in county bonds in twelve months, with or without interest, as said Clerk may elect." August 16, 1858, the Clerk was authorized to issue specifications and call for proposals for building a county jail of stone, 14x20 feet, with walls eight feet in height, and to rent of Robert Wilson four rooms in the east end of the Barnes' Building on Poyntz Avenue for the use of the county officers, at a rent not to exceed $60 per annum. November 8, 1858, Andrew J. Mead received $45 for four and one-half months' rent of a stone building for District Court purposes. The Scammon Building was destroyed by fire, August 23, 1859. The Barnes' Building in 1882 stood at the foot of the north side of Poyntz Avenue, by the railroad track, was occupied as a dwelling, and the lettering on it "Cheap Cash Store, Groceries, Rope, etc.", indicated the purposes for which it had been used, and it remains as an "ancient land mark" of Riley County.

The following was an order of May 31, 1859: "That a county jail be erected immediately, 18x24 feet, of stone, and that the Chairman and Clerk be appointed a committee to receive proposals for building the same on the court house lots, provided the same can be done for county bonds, payable in six months, bearing ten per cent interest." July 5, 1860, in noticing some complaints emanating from sundry tax-payers, the County Board declared: "That the purchase of the court house and lot, and the building of the jail are legal and legitimate transactions; that the laws of the Territory make it obligatory upon the county to pay its court expenses in criminal cases as well as in others; therefore we recommend the tax-payers of the county, as law-abiding citizens to bear the burdens for the present year." January 12, 1861, it was ordered: "That the Chairman of the Board and the County Clerk be a committee to sell the wood building standing near the jail, provided the same can be sold for not less than $300; if it cannot be sold, to receive proposals for repairing said building in a suitable manner for county offices." July 2, 1861, the "Old Court House" was sold to Lewis Kurtz for $300.

April 9, 1862, the following order was passed: "Ordered that the building now occupied for county offices be vacated on or previous to the first day of May next, and that the Chairman and County Clerk be authorized to lease from J. E. Hibbard for the use of the county the stone building now occupied by him, on Poyntz Avenue, for one year, at a rent not exceeding $75 per annum." November 10, 1865, on a vote to loan $15,000, for the purpose of erecting county buildings, the vote was 150 for the loan, and 140 against the loan. Douglas County boarded Riley County prisoners in 1866 and 1867, and received about $750 therefor. (sic)

At an election held April 20, 1867, on Jail Bonds, the vote was 262 for, and 46 against. Jacob Winnie had the contract for building the jail for $10,441.33. The jail was located near the southeast corner of the Public Square, 40 feet from the east side and 50 feet from the south side of the Square. The area of the Square is about three acres. The building is 40x50 feet. It contains eight cells, which are detached from the outer walls with hall extending around the cells. The cells are 6x7 feet, and seven and one-half feet high. The jail-yard in the rear is 20x23 feet. The County Board voted bonds to the amount of $8,000 for these cells and appurtenances, and they were sold to George W. Higinbotham & Co. for sixty-seven cents on the dollar. In front of the cells is an open hall, on each side of which are two good sized rooms, which are occupied by the Sheriff as the home of his family. In the upper story are two jury rooms, one on each side of the hallway. The hall enters a fair sized court room, furnished in a manner not at all extravagant.

At the southeast corner of Third Street and Poyntz Avenue, the County Clerk and County Treasurer occupy a commodious room, rented for $2?0 per year. Lower down on the same side of the avenue, the County Attorney's office is that of Spilman & Brown, rented for $60 per year. In the block east, the County Superintendent has an office at the same rent. The Register of Deeds and Judge of Probate occupy a frame building belonging to the county, on lot 197, Poyntz Avenue, and the Clerk of the District Court has an office in a brick building on lot 193, Poyntz Avenue, for which the county pays a rent of $60 per year. The Coroner has his physician's office nearly opposite. The offices are supplied with necessary safes. The county jail is one of the best in the State.

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