History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Greenwood County, Kansas

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Greenwood county, Kansas


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Greenwood County Slideshow



Greenwood County, 1899

Greenwood County map, 1889.





Nestled in the rolling Flint Hills of the Tallgrass Prairie in southeastern Kansas, Greenwood County was one of the original 36 counties created by the territorial legislature in 1855. The county was named for Alfred B. Greenwood, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and a United States Land Commissioner, under Presidents Pierce and Buchanan. When the county was initially created it very nearly a square tract of uniform size, similar to surrounding counties. However, in 1861, Madison County, which had also been created by the Territorial Legislature was divided between  Breckenridge  (now Lyon) and Greenwood Counties and Madison County was eliminated. For a number of years it was unorganized territory until 1862, when the county was officially organized.


As soon as the territory was opened, settlers began to arrive, taking advantage of the fertile land and abundant wildlife. From the beginning, the economy of the county was built around agriculture, particularly ranching and farming. The first settlement was created in 1856 by people from Mississippi who came with the intention of helping to make Kansas an ally of the Southern slave-holding States. Some of these early pioneers included Among them were D. Vinning, Austin and Fred Norton, Anderson Hill, Wesley Pearson, Mark Patty, Myrock Huntley, E. R. Holderman, William Martindale, E. G. Duke, James and W. F. Osborn, Issac Sharp and David Smith. Others soon followed including Archibald Johnson, Peter Ricker, Adam Glaze, John Baker, Wayne Summer and William Kinnaman.


In the next two or three years the growth of the county in population was rapid, but most of the settlers were poor people, who had come to the new country to better their condition. Money was an unknown quantity, and just as they began to realize a little income from their holdings, the drought of 1860 reduced them to the condition of starvation. Supplies could only be obtained in Atchison and had to be brought 160 miles by teams. Storms and exceedingly cold weather, together with the feeble condition of the wagon teams from scanty rations, made it well almost impossible to get food to the settlers and their animals. Most of the stock died and the next spring found the settlers without animals with which to put in their crops. However, those who were able to overcome this difficulty raised a good crop in 1861.


When the Civil War broke out, most of the pro-slavery people, who had not already left due to the drought of the prior year, soon drifted away, as Kansas had declared herself to be a Free State.


However, during the Civil War, Greenwood County would become the scene of violence as its residents, divided against themselves in their sentiments, sacked and burned villages. At the same, the residents were exposed to the attacks of hostile Indians and those who sought in the troubled times an excuse for indiscriminate pillage. As a result, a rough fort was built at Eureka in 1861, and named in honor of Colonel James Montgomery, of the Tenth Infantry. It was built by the home guard, under Captain L. Bemis, and was occupied by them during their entire term of service.


Though the county was in the midst of violence, it did not stop its residents from officially organizing in March, 1862. The first meeting was held at Janesville, the temporary county seat, and the county was divided into townships and county officers were appointed. After the appointment of county officers, the first regular election was held in November, 1862.


The end of the Civil War did not altogether end outlawry in the county as was evidenced by the assassination of William and Jacob Bledsoe, who had been arrested on a pretext of horse stealing in April, 1865. One dark night they were removed from one impromptu guard house to another, but en route were assassinated.


The story of their guards, John Taylor, William Brown and Thomas Craig was that an attack was made by Indians who had suffered the loss of ponies, and the prisoners let go. The authorities did not, however, take this view of the case and after a weary length of time Brown was convicted and Craig acquitted, the decision being reached in May, 1878. Taylor was never apprehended, and was later reported to be dead.


Greenwood County, Kansas

View of Greenwood County from Sugar Loaf Hill,  June, 2009, Kathy Weiser.

This image available for photo prints & commercial downloads HERE!


The following year, a man by the name of Robert Clark was also brutally murdered by a man named G.W. Petty in his cabin on the Verdigris River. G.W. Petty was a bushwhacker during the Civil War, though he was connected with neither side and worked for individual profit only. After the war, he was  reputed to have continued a lawless life. Some time prior to 1866, he had lost his wife, for whom he was very fond of and upon whose grave he placed a costly monument. This monument was discovered in May, 1866, so brutally defaced as to be totally ruined.




Continued Next Page


Neal, Kansas

Overgrown business building in Neal,  Kansas Kathy Weiser, June, 2009.

This image available for photo prints & commercial downloads HERE!


Quincy, Kansas

A kadzu and tree covered business building in Quincy,

 Kansas. Kathy Weiser, June, 2009.


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