History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Pioneers of Rush County, Kansas

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Rush County, Kansas CourthouseHenry L. Anderson - A veteran lawyer in La Crosse, Kansas, Anderson was born in Belmont County, Ohio on March 18, 1853. He spent his youth in eastern Ohio where he went to school and attended college at Hopedale, Ohio, putting his way through by teaching at area schools. When he decided to become a lawyer, he read law with his brother James F. Anderson and also with Lorenzo Danford, an ex-congressman. In February, 1886, he moved westward to Kansas, first settling in Hamilton County. there, he bought an interest in a real estate firm at Kendall, which had been made the county seat. However, Hamilton County became enmeshed in one of the hardest county seat fights known to Kansas, which Anderson became involved in. But, for Kendall, the fight was lost and Anderson soon abandoned the city, arriving in La Crosse, Kansas in June, 1886. In La Crosse he resumed his study of law as well as his real estate business.


He was admitted to the Kansas Bar in November, 1887 and the following year, formed a partnership with Judge J. E. Andrews, which they continued until 1893. At that time, Anderson became the County Attorney for Rush County, a position he would hold off and on for eight years. He then returned to private practice, as well as getting involved in farming. Anderson was also elected as the second mayor of La Crosse. Anderson was joined by a sister, Malvina L. Anderson, in 1893. In November, 1902, he married Clara M. Prestage of Jetmore, Kansas.

Dr. J. H. Baker  - One of the most well-known pioneer physicians in Rush County, Baker arrived in La Crosse in the summer of 1915, setting up practice until he left two years later to serve in World War I. When the war was over, he returned to La Crosse in 1919 and resumed his practice, while  remaining in the Reserve Corps. In 1924, Baker built a modern 28 patient hospital on the southeast corner of Main and Seventh Streets. Here, numerous La Crosse residents were treated from minor scrapes, to surgery, or were born in the facility. 


In 1942, he was called to duty again and served as a Chief Surgeon at a number of military hospitals until 1945. Upon his return, he once again resumed his practice and his hospital continued to serve the area until 1950, when the county constructed a new hospital on the west edge of town.


Dr. Baker is remembered for faithfully serving the community for over fifty years, sometimes responding to patient needs on horseback or walking. He was also known for a homemade concoction known simply as “Brown Salve.” The salve, which was sold in a small metal tin with a handwritten label, was, according to many residents, a virtual cure-all. The ingredients of the miracle medicine were never revealed by the doctor.


Augustine Joseph Bellport - A long time rancher and businessman in Rush County, Bellport lived in both Rush Center and La Crosse. He was born in Brown County, Ohio on January 3, 1845 and lived there until he relocated to Leavenworth, Kansas in February, 1866. He then became a freighter on the plains for several years before starting a livery business in Leavenworth. He quickly expanded into cattle and in 1876 bought a large herd in Texas and brought them to Dodge City. Cutting his own cattle from the herd, he wintered them at the head of Walnut Creek near the present town of Beeler, Kansas . A short time later, he returned to Ohio and while there, married Mary Bower in June, 1877 and the couple would eventually have three children --  Mary M., Augustine J. and Phillip B. The couple settled in Rush County, building a stone house on a ranch near Rush Center.


He was extremely involved in the county seat war that was waged between Rush Center and La Crosse, but once La Crosse won the "war," Bellport moved his family there and went into business as a retail meat dealer. It was his intention to leave Kansas and settle in Oklahoma and had taken part in the opening of the Cherokee Strip in September, 1893. For a time was an active factor among the pioneer citizens of Perry, Oklahoma. However, at this time there were no good schools in the area and he determined to remain in Kansas. For seventeen years he was engaged in business as a merchant at La Crosse. He expanded his small meat market by adding groceries and starting a bakery, and later,  building up a department for feed and flour. Each of these departments he made independently profitable, and finally sold out the entire business before retiring to his ranch and staying active in the livestock business. Besides his other connections in the county, he also served as township trustee and a director of schools at both at Rush Center and at La Crosse. Though he did much to organize and mold political sentiment among his fellow citizens, he never sought to hold county political positions.




Entre Nous College, McCracken, KansasHoward R. Barnard (1863-1948) - Born in New York City, New York on September 14, 1863, Barnard came west at the age of 20, where he first worked in a sugar mill and herded cattle in Rush County. Later, he became a teacher and became known as one of the great educators in rural America. The nephew of Henry Barnard, first U.S. Commissioner of Education, and of Frederick Barnard, founder of Barnard College (now part of Columbia University,) Barnard followed in their foot stops in 1906 by founding an innovative and experimental school called Entre Nous College near McCracken, Kansas. He built a 2-story building, hired teachers, and provided "school buses," which were really wagons pulled by horses, using for funds a sizable inheritance which he received from eastern relatives.


Entre Nous College was one of the first schools to offer visual education, free transportation, and physical training. However, by 1913 his funds were depleted and the school was closed. He then taught in the public schools of Rush County, often going hungry to buy more books, and in 1923 became Librarian in the La Crosse Rural High School. At his death on December 9, 1948, his large collection of books was left to "the school children of Rush County." Today, the Barnard Library in La Crosse is named in his honor. Of the school, which was located northeast of McCracken, all that is left is the school bell and a stone memorial


P.C. Dixon - A general merchandise dealer, Dixon opened his business in La Crosse on September 1, 1882, succeeding the business of Friend & Dixon, which began business in March, 1881. He first came to Rush County in March, 1871 and was one of the first settlers in the county. He followed agricultural pursuits and stock-raising until 1878 before engaging in merchandising in Rush Center before moving to La Crosse. He was born in New Berlin, Chenango County, New York on May 29, 1844, and was raised in Detroit, Michigan. After completing school, he enlisted on board the U. S. steamer Michigan, before he began recruiting for the naval service. He also served on board New Ironsides for a year, and was honorably discharged at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


He then drifted into various places, and finally went to Chicago, Illinois, where he engaged as a book-keeper on South Water Street, where he worked before he came to Kansas. He married, in 1869, Miss Helen Dammers, of Chicago, Illinois and the couple had four children -- William E., Leroy E., Lavina C. and Ida. He served as County Commissioner, Clerk of District Court, and several township offices, and helped to organize Rush County.


Frank E. Garner - A stock-raiser in Brookdale, he settled there in March, 1872, where he eventually owned 400 acres of fine grazing land, fifty of which were cultivated. He kept an average of 225 head of cattle. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut on October 7, 1843 and moved with his family to Kane County, Illinois in 1850. He was raised on a farm and continued to follow agricultural pursuits before enlisting in Company K, Fifty-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry in August, 1861. He was seriously injured in combat, but survived and was mustered out on July 5, 1865. In 1877, he married  Laura L. Graves, of Burlington, Illinois and the couple would have three children -- Medea E., Myrtle B. and May L. He served as County Clerk Clerk of Court in Rush County.


H.L. Guldin - The proprietor of Pennsylvania House, a large hotel in Rush Center, Guldin originally came from Pennsylvania, where he was born in Montgomery County, in 1820. There he was raised and when he grew up traveled extensively over the United States before settling down in Philadelphia,  and later in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he operated a wholesale grocery for four years. He then kept operated a hotel at Beer Gap, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania for four years before turning to farming in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. In 1852 he married to Sarah Mengel, of Berks County, Pennsylvania and the couple had six children - Elvina S., George B., James L., Susan C., Alice L. and Penrose W. By 1877 he and his family were living in Rush Center, where he erected the Pennsylvania House, an impressive two-story hotel and restaurant. The hotel initially contained 36 rooms, a large windmill for fresh water, two fireplaces, and a wide “covered entry porch.” In 1887, ten rooms were added and it became a passenger depot for the "city bus line."



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