Monday, January 16, 2006


The Territorial Legislature, consisting of thirteen Councilmen and twenty-six Representatives, - of which Samuel D. Houston, registered as a farmer, a native of Ohio, thirty-six years of age, was the only Free-State member -- convened July 2, 1855, at Pawnee, a little town on the Military Reservation, about two miles east of Fort Riley, which had been started in the autumn of 1854, by Dr. William A. Hammond, Capt. Nathaniel Lyon, Robert Klotz, Robert Wilson and others of Fort Riley, most of them Free-State men. Its growth was rapid, scores of houses were erected, and hundreds of people settled on the town site. The Legislature, July 6, adjourned to meet at the Shawnee Manual Labor School in Johnson County on the 16th, and on the 23rd Representative Houston resigned his seat. John Donaldson, the Councilman who represented Election Districts Nos. 9, 10, 11, and 12 - Pawnee, Big Blue, Marsville, Rock Creek, St. Mary's and Silver Lake - July 6, gave notice that he would introduce a bill to incorporate Pawnee. Governor Reeder vetoed the Act to remove the seat of government from Pawnee and July 21, in a Message to the Legislature, said "it was in session, in contravention with the Act of Congress, where they have no right to sit, and can make no valid legislation". Pawnee, Lecompton, Lawrence, Leavenworth and Kickapoo were the incorporated cities of Kansas in August 1855.

By order of Governor Reeder, a two-story stone building, 33x6? feet, about 30 feet in height, had been erected for the accommodation of the Legislature. The Council occupied the upper part, the House the lower part. October 2, 1882, the walls of the building were standing in good condition, save where a cannon ball had gone through the west end. There had been a door on each side of the building; that on the south, the side near the Kansas River, was six feet wide and seven feet high. There had been no windows in the end of the building, but a good supply in each side. From July 2, 1855, to October 2, 1882, the roof had remained undisturbed, but on that day its demolition on the south side commenced. The roof was shingled with a long shaved oak shingle, the roof boards, rafters and cross timbers were cottonwood. The structure is within twenty-five feed of the Kansas division of the Union Pacific Railroad, on the south side thereof, and in close proximity to the river across which stood Riley City. This, and an unroofed store building built by Robert Wilson, are all that remains of what once promised to be the great metropolis of Kansas. Here Governor Reeder had his two-story log mansion of ten rooms, which was removed to Ogden, four miles east, and stood opposite the primitive court building of Riley County in the autumn of 1855. For the ostensible reason that the city had been built on the Military Reservation, Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of the War Department, ordered the town vacated, and in September 1855 its inhabitants removed, a few to Riley City, several to Ogden, and some returned East; several of them thereby were reduced to inconvenient want. Hon. Robert Klotz, now a member of the Forty-seventh Congress from Pennsylvania, was Pawnee's hotel-keeper and it is a tradition that his stock of fluids was usually more ample that that of his solids. Governor Reeder on his way to the capital city stopped with Mr. Seth J. Childs, whose place was at Juniata, on the west side of the Big Blue at the crossing on the Government roads. In the spring of 1855, Governor Reeder commissioned Mr. Childs as Sheriff of the region of country extending north to what is Marshall County, east to the Pottawatomie Reservation, south to Council Grove, west to the Rocky Mountains, as Kansas Territory then extended there. But the Legislature of 1855, on the 25th of August, elected John T. Price Sheriff of Riley County; Clay Thomson, Probate Judge; Thomas Reynolds and William Cuddy, County Commissioners. The county as organized took all the territory between Marshall County and the Kansas River.

At Ogden, Monday, September 17, 1855, the court convened, consisting of Messrs. Thomson and Reynolds. On the 18th, they made choice of Claiborne R. Mobley for Commissioner - Mr. Cuddy having never qualified - and John S. Reynolds was chosen Clerk of the Court.

The First Records. - The journal in which the proceedings of the court were recorded considering its character, has been very well preserved. Standing first on the record is the oath of office taken before Judge Thomson, September 5, 1855, by Commissioner Reynolds, who swears to support the Constitution of the United States, and "An Act entitled, an Act to organize the Territory of Nebraska and Kansas, and the provisions of the laws of the United States commonly known as the Fugitive Slave Act," and to be faithful and impartial as County Commissioner. This done, the official bonds of the Sheriff and the Clerk were each fixed at $1,000; the Treasurer's, Coroner's and Constable's at $500 each. Governor Shannon, October 15, 1855, commissioned C. R. Mobley as County Commissioner, Samuel Dean as County Treasurer, F. C. Sonnomaker as Coroner, and A. A. Garrett and L. B. Perry as Justices of the Peace, and this is made a matter of record. The first financial transaction recorded is as follows: "Ordered, that the account of R. D. Mobley, amounting to thirty-four dollars, for services rendered the county, be allowed, and issue a warrant therefor (sic)."

No comments: