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Ferries in Kansas, Part IV, Republican River

by George A. Root

August 1934 (Vol. 3, No. 3), pages 246 to 288

THE Republican river, first known to early cartographers as the Republican Fork, took its name from a branch of the Pawnee Confederacy known as the Kit-ke-hah-ki or Republican Pawnees, who lived along the stream up to about 1815. 1 The river had a name bestowed by the Indians, Wa-wa-bo-gay,2 but by what tribe has not been learned.

Zebulon M. Pike, the explorer, traveled up the stream a short distance in September, 1806, while on his way to the Pawnee village. An atlas published by M. Carey & Son in 1817 names the river the Republican Fork. So far as is known by the writer, the shortened form, the Republican, was first used on a map of the western portion of the United States, drawn by Anthony Finley and dated 1826. 3 John C. McCoy, who surveyed many of the Indian reservations embraced in present Kansas, has stated that the Kansas Indians called it the Pa-ne-ne-tah or Pawnee river. 4 Black's General Atlas, published in Edinburgh in 1841, calls it the Republican, as also does Fremont, the explorer. However, Capt. John W. Gunnison, who explored the West for a railroad route to the Pacific in 1853, in his report to the government designated the river as the Pawnee's river. 5 Capt. Charles S. Lovell, Sixth U. S. infantry, formed an encampment at the mouth of the Pawnee river in 1853, which he named Camp Center 6 (now Fort Riley).

The Republican is formed by three branches, all of which rise in eastern Colorado, the northern fork in Yuma county, and the Arickaree and southern forks in Lincoln county. These all flow in a slightly northeasterly direction. The south branch cuts across Cheyenne county, Kansas, from a point at about the line between townships four and five. About thirty-eight miles downstream it enters Nebraska in Range 28 West, uniting with the north fork near Benkelman, and forming the Republican river proper. From here the stream flows in an easterly direction, passing through the counties



of Dundy, Hitchcock, Red Willow, Furnas, Harlan, Franklin and Webster, across the corner of Nuckols county, entering Kansas the second time in Jewell county in the NW 1/4 S. 4, T. 1 S., R. 1 W. Within a mile of this point the river again leaves the state and enters Kansas for the third time in the same township and range. The river here, for somewhat less than a mile, flows directly west. After another turn to the southeast the river's course is slightly north of east, passing into Cloud county. The stream from here runs to the southeast, a little north of present Concordia, thence in an easterly direction into Clay, traversing that county in a southeasterly course, entering Geary and uniting with the Smoky Hill about one and one-fourth miles northeast of Junction City, near Fort Riley.

A manuscript map of Indian reservations included in northeastern Kansas, made by John C. McCoy in September and October, 1833, shows the junction of the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers, designating the point of land at the juncture as the "Grand Point." The fact that one can obtain a view of the different valleys and the surrounding landscape for miles around from the tops of the high hills in this vicinity may have been a contributing factor for the Indian name handed down.

The United States weather bureau is authority for the statement that the Republican is 461 miles long, about 150 of which are in Kansas. The river drains an area of 23,067 square miles. Disastrous floods have occurred from time to time, that of March, 1881, being the most serious of record up to that date. It was exceeded, however, by the big floods of 1903 and 1915. In order to get accurate measurements of the amount of water carried by this stream during the year, several gauging stations were established by the United States weather bureau along the course of the river. The first of these above the mouth was set up by Arthur P. Davis on the wagon bridge at Junction City, April 26, 1895. Daily readings kept since then have been published from time to time. Figures for 1899, which may be taken as a normal year, show that the high-water mark was reached on June 4, at which time the Republican had attained a depth of 10 feet, with a discharge of 1,224 cubic feet per second. The river on January 1 and December 1, that year, showed a depth of 3.40 feet, while the lowest stage for the same period was 2.4 feet on November 14 and 16. 7 A gauging station was also established at Clay Center on August 1, 1904. The width of the river at this point at average low water is 200 feet, and the drainage area above is


22,756 square miles. On May 29, 1903, the highest water of record on the river at this point reached a depth of 24.8 feet, a trifle over 18 feet being the danger point. 8

The legislature of 1864 declared the Republican river unnavigable, notwithstanding the fact that Financier No. 2, a side-wheel steamboat of 125 tons burden, ascended the stream in 1855 for a distance of forty miles, returning safely the following day to the Kansas river. This side trip is said to have taken the steamer to the vicinity of Clay Center. 9

The earliest ferry on the Republican, and probably the first above its confluence with the Smoky Hill, was located at the crossing of the road from Fort Riley to Junction City. This thoroughfare reached the river in the SE 1/4 S. 30, T. 11, R. 5 E. 10 The name of the man who inaugurated this service was, perhaps, Capt. Asaph Allen, 11 who, in 1858 and 1859, operated a ferry 12 between the fort and Junction City.

An early reference to the above ferry is found in the diary of Christian L. Long, who was accompanying a party of emigrants on their journey westward. Under date of April 28, 1859, he records having crossed on this ferry, stating that the river was about ninety feet wide at that point, and ferry charges $1 a team. Horace Greeley also mentions crossing on this ferry in May, 1859, when he reached Junction City on his journey westward. He described it as a rope ferry, and stated that a number of families and a large herd of cattle had been taken across. These pilgrims were on their way to California. They took the road up the right bank of the Republican to Fort Kearney and on to Fort Laramie. 13

George W. Martin, second secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, a resident of Davis county for a number of years and publisher of the Junction City Union, recalls crossing on this ferry during a return trip from Leavenworth in the winter of 1862-1863.

He said:

We changed mail at Riley without trouble and soon reached the ferry across the Republican. It was five o'clock in the morning; the river was full of slush ice, and the most difficult part of the night was to arouse Tom O'Day, the ferryman. We drove on the boat, happy in the thought that we were nearing home. The boat stranded about the middle of the stream, probably


fifteen feet from either shore. The driver looked around for the ferryman, and there he was standing on dry land. “What do you mean?" he inquired, accompanied by the most awful abuse that ever came from the mouth of man. "An' I knew it would stick; do you suppose I'd go out there?" He crawled into his warm bunk; the slush ice soon solidified; we took a few planks from the bottom of the boat, laid them across the ice, walked over and into town, and I crawled into bed at Sam Strickler's at six o'clock. Contrast that way of getting into town with the present Pullman service at forty miles an hour, and then growl.

But before we forget the ferry, which was often either rightly or wrongly the excuse for beating us out of our mail, when we were getting it but three times a week, contrast four bridges within a few hundred feet of its crossing, one bearing a transcontinental line, with a score of long trains daily, and another a trolley line between Junction City and the fort. . . 14

This ferry probably operated more or less regularly until late in the 1860's, but whether under more than one ownership the writer has been unable to discover, as early records of Davis county commissioners contain scant mention of ferry matters. Presumably there was some dissatisfaction at the manner in which the ferry was operated, for the Union, early in 1863, called attention to the matter in the following paragraph:

A NUISANCE.--The most intolerable nuisance with which this country has been afflicted, is the ferry across the Republican river at Fort Riley. For the past week or ten days the mail has been a half a day behind, for the reason that they would not cross that thing in the night. It has always been a wonder why the military authorities at Riley tolerate such a nuisance under their nose. We hope the day is not far distant when a substantial bridge will connect us with America.

Late in February, 1863, the Union said "we got but one eastern mail in eight days."

In the issue of January 31 it registered another "kick" at ferry conditions:

A SUGGESTION.--We would suggest, as a matter of great convenience to the traveling public, that a wooden man be substituted for the Irishman who attends to the ferry across the Republican. We have crossed a few times there lately, and have been unable to find where the fault rests. Whoever has charge of that ferry must get someone who will attend to it, as it is serious to the county to have travel so impeded.

The summer of 1863 was a wet one in the Republican valley, and that stream was a trifle too high to be safely forded a good portion of the time before midsummer. Yet there were those who willingly took a chance and forded the river in order to save ferry charges, as the following incident would prove:


DISCARDING FERRY BOATS.--One day last week a man from up the Republican came to town shopping. He started home with a few dollars' worth of dry goods, groceries, etc. Arriving at the Republican he resolved to save twenty-five cents, and accordingly resolved to ford. Riding up to the pier where the boat lands, he spurred his horse into about fifteen feet of water. Horse and rider went with the current--the horse passing completely under the boat, coming out at the lower side. The man clung to the boat with more tenacity than he did to the two bits. Both were finally rescued, but the sugar, etc., mingled with the sand. The ferryman enjoyed the sport hugely.--Junction City Union, July 25, 1863.

Apparently there was little or no complaint at the operation of the ferry during normal river conditions. In time of flood, however, there was considerable dissatisfaction. No doubt the narrowness of the channel made the operation of a ferry boat somewhat hazardous, which in turn made the ferryman overly cautious. The following items from the local paper are indicative of conditions during the next year or two:

Will those interested in the ferry across the Republican, for their own benefit and that of the country, please get some one who will run the boat? Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week, the stage started east but was compelled to return because the ferryman would not cross it. Sunday it started out again, and this time the driver, Jim Hall, swam the river and brought the boat over. A gentleman from the Solomon, who was going to mill at Manhattan, a few days ago, was compelled to do the same thing, while the man who has run the boat for a year declared he couldn't do it! It is to be hoped that the interests of the community is not longer to suffer by that ferryman being retained there. During all this high water there had been no earthly excuse, except the incompetence or laziness of that man, for keeping from us the mails for three or four days. Junction City Union, August 15, 1863.

TOMMY.--We allude to the ferryman across the Republican. He is a genius. Old settlers have become accustomed to him, and have pretty much quit growling. Tommy is a good fellow, but he is not fit to run a ferry boat. The other day some men from town went down to get the mail across, and after making all preparations asked him to take hold and pull. He replied, "Sure it'll get wet, and who can handle it when it's wet?" with his peculiar brogue. We will next hear that he is afraid the boat will get wet--Junction City Union, February 20, 1864.

During the past few weeks, the "navigation" of the Smoky Hill and Republican have been occasionally interrupted by high water. The ferry across the Republican is now managed with more efficiency, courtesy and decency than at any time during the past three years; yet notwithstanding the desire of the ferryman to oblige the traveling public, he was not able, every time, to make the "connection." We do trust that the time will come when both the Smoky Hill and the Republican will be bridged, and when the intercourse between the different portions of the state will be uninterrupted. Had our

Congressional Committee reached Fort Riley a few days before or the day


after they did, they would have been delayed from twelve to twenty-four hours in crossing the Republican. This ought not to occur on a reserve of which government claims the ownership of exclusive jurisdiction. The government either ought to bridge the stream or grant the privilege of bridging it to citizens, with reasonable aid in doing so.--Junction City Union, June 3, 1865.

Between pleasing the traveling public and combating the forces of nature the ferry operators had their hands full. Ice and high waters were the greatest hazards. An illustration of the inconvenience of those weather conditions to both operators and patrons will be found in the following paragraph:

The fords and ferries on the Republican and Smoky Hill the past week have been impassable for teams. The thaw last week raised the water, and the boat at the fort was carried off Saturday night, since which time the only communication with the fort and below has been by skiffs until Friday towards night, when a temporary structure was fixed, upon which trains, &c., have crossed since. It is feared that the garrisons of the government posts west will be nearly starving, from the long stoppage of trains. There are reported to be some eight trains of from 300 to 400 wagons, detained by inability to cross the Republican here and at the Big Blue at Manhattan. The mail has been got through every day but Monday. Teams have arrived from above by fording from two to three feet of water in Chapman's creek.--Junction City Union, January 20, 1866.

The last mention of ferry matters in the immediate vicinity of Fort Riley is the following from the Junction City Union of March 29, 1873: "A ferry is being established at the fort, evidently for the benefit of the wood contractors, as a large quantity of that article is corded up on the opposite side of the river."

In this series of articles on ferries mention has been made of the bridges which replaced them at some of the more important points, and this has necessitated brief consideration of the roads over which the early-day traffic passed. The problem of river crossings was not always solved with the construction of bridges. The digression which follows is illustrative of the difficulties many sections encountered in the era of bridge building, and shows the extent of travel over the roads which converged in the vicinity of Fort Riley and the junction of the rivers.

There had been some early travel up the Republican by emigrants on their way west, which increased after the establishment of Fort Riley in 1853. That year the government erected a truss bridge across the river to help care for this traffic. This bridge went out in 1856, during a freshet. The year following another bridge was built which was swept away during a flood in 1858. 15


In 1858 private interests sought a franchise for bridge purposes and obtained from the legislature that year a twenty-year charter for the Republican River Bridge Company, which granted exclusive bridge privileges and rights at or within five miles from Fort Riley, with right to charge toll at rates not to exceed the average rates charged by the several ferries across the Kansas river established by law. A provision of the act stipulated that unless the bridge was built within three years the act would be void. 16 No bridge was built within the time limits.

A "float" or pontoon bridge had been erected across the Republican between Fort Riley and Junction City in the late 1850's. This, according to the Manhattan Express of February 25, 1860, was destroyed by high water and floating ice on February 19. This structure, apparently, was replaced or rebuilt later that year, for on October 6, following, the board of county commissioners issued an "order that Charles F. Clarke 17 take out license for his bridge. License at thirty dollars per annum. Rates of tole are the same as those of John Wallace for bridge across the Kansas river at West Point." 18

During the session of the 1864 legislature, senate concurrent resolution No. 20 was passed, asking congress to improve the Fort Leavenworth-Fort Riley military road, the memorial contemplating the bridging of the Republican at Fort Riley as well as improving the highway westward, copies of this document were forwarded to the Kansas delegation at Washington to be brought before congress. 19

This action may have spurred the bridge company to life, for the company, or another of the same name, filed a certificate of incorporation with the secretary of state on November 11, 1864, 20 authorizing the company to construct a bridge over that stream. This company was formed after the passage of joint resolution No. 56, by the 39th congress, entitled "A joint resolution for the reduction of the military reservation of Fort Riley and to grant land for bridge purposes to the state of Kansas." The state accepted the terms and provisions of the resolution which guaranteed "that a bridge shall be constructed over the Republican river on the highway leading


through the present Fort Riley military reservation, and that said bridge should be kept up and maintained in good condition, and should be free to the use of the government of the United States for all transit purposes forever, without toll or charges," etc. 21

As late as the last of July, 1865, no actual construction work on a bridge at the fort had been started, though plans for a structure were being suggested. The first move evidently was started by the government, as the following item would indicate:

We learn that Captain Berthoud has arrived at Fort Riley with orders from department headquarters to construct a bridge across the Republican river at that point. The reputation of Captain Berthoud as an engineer insures a first-class structure. Work upon it will shortly be commenced. We learn that Butterfield has purchased a complete stock for a daily line of coaches from Atchison to Denver. We hope our Salina neighbors will be spurred up by these items and make a good road which will be without hindrance to this enterprise. Go to work, and by the time the bridge is completed, have substantial bridges across the Solomon and Saline. Junction City Union, July 29, 1865.

Apparently nothing was accomplished up to 1867. That year the bridge company got an act passed by the legislature granting the right to build a bridge, to be completed within one year from the passage of the act, which was approved by Governor Crawford February 26, 1867. 22 One of the provisions of the law stipulated that it was the duty of the bridge company to notify the governor when the bridge was completed, whereupon the governor in person, together with a competent engineer, should proceed to examine the bridge, and if the governor found that a good and substantial structure had been built across the Republican by the company, it was his duty to certify the same to the Secretary of the Interior and request that he issue patent for the lands mentioned and described in the joint resolution to congress, etc. The bridge company was also required to deposit with the governor satisfactory surety and guarantees, fully indemnifying the state of Kansas against any loss or losses by the guarantee given by the state of Kansas to the United States. The lands contemplated for the bridge embraced the portion of the military reservation lying between the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers—being the part lying between Junction City and the forks of the rivers. This bridge was started in the spring of 1867 and was completed by December following. 23 By 1873, however, the condition of this bridge had become so impaired as to be danger-


ous for traffic, and on March 15 the Davis county commissioners passed the following order, which was addressed to Gov. Thomas A. Osborn:

Ordered, that the county clerk be instructed to notify the governor of the state of Kansas that the bridge across the Republican river is now and has been impassable for the last week, and that the county commissioners of Davis county respectfully calls his attention to the same as the guardian of such public property. 24

Governor Osborn's reply was written March 18, and stated that the matter had been referred to the attorney-general for his opinion. That officer was of the opinion that it was the duty of the county attorney of Davis county to institute suit against the bridge company if the county commissioners deemed it necessary to do so to enforce a compliance by the bridge company with the terms of their charter under which it was organized. The county clerk was referred to section 136, chapter 25, General Statutes of 1868. 25 This answer brought a communication from the chairman of the board of county commissioners of Davis county, dated March 24, asking that a certified copy of the bond given the state by the bridge company be sent. He said the president of the bridge company claimed that his company was a private corporation, and that the county commissioners had no right to inquire into its affairs. The letter also stated that property had been sacrificed and life endangered, and business from a portion of the county suspended by the failure of the bridge company to fulfill their bond. 26

On the 29th of March the governor addressed a letter to the attorney-general, telling of the impassable condition of the bridge and stating that no action was being taken by the bridge company to repair it. His letter also gave a complete history of the company's charter, and also directed the attorney-general to start action. The last paragraph recited:

The Republican River Bridge Company having failed to comply with the act of the legislature and the terms of said bond, you are hereby requested to institute such proceedings in this case, and with the least possible delay, as will best protect the interests of the state, and enforce a full discharge of the obligations owing to the state by said bridge company. 27

In the meantime the governor had received complaints from the military, for on March 29 he wrote Maj. Gen. John Pope, at Fort Leavenworth, acknowledging receipt of his letter of the 26th, and


informing the general "that measures will be taken immediately to compel the Republican River Bridge Company to repair the break and place the bridge in a safe, passable condition." The same day he also answered the letter of the Davis county commissioners, inclosing a certified copy of the bond given by the bridge company which was on file with the secretary of state. He also asked to be notified in case the company refused to make repairs, and advised that the attorney-general would assist in prosecuting if it became necessary. 28

Evidently the bridge company got busy at once, for on April 1, following, the chairman of the board of county commissioners wrote the governor to the effect that "the bridge company are at work repairing the bridge with a force sufficient to do the work at once." A letter to the governor from the county chairman, written April 7, contained word that the bridge was temporarily repaired. The letter also stated that--

we have written the attorney-general requesting information in the event of the bridge company attempting to collect tolls, but got no answer. The county attorney is also awaiting information from the attorney-general previous to commencing suit against the company. We are of the opinion that suit commenced now would have a better effect than to let them do as they please. It seems the bondsmen are all stockholders and wish to call your attention to the fact that some of them are worthless—bankrupt--or left the state. 29

By the following May the bridge was again in an impassable condition, and on the 22d of that month Major General Pope again addressed a letter to the governor, calling attention to the matter, which letter was referred to the attorney-general two days later, the governor asking that he "take such action as was necessary to protect the interests of the state and compel the bridge company to live up to the terms of their contract with the state." The governor also wrote Major General Pope that he had referred the whole matter to the attorney-general with a request that proceedings be instituted against the bridge company to enforce a compliance on their part with the conditions of their contract with the state. 30

It would be interesting to note what the attorney-general had to say in regard to the matter, but unfortunately no correspondence of his office covering this episode is included in the Historical Society's archives, and the first printed report of that officer was not issued until 1875.

The Junction City Union, however, had kept informed on the


bridge situation, and had called the attention of its readers and the county authorities to its deplorable condition no less than six times in as many weeks. Beginning with the issue of March 8, and closing with that of April 5, 1873, it said:

The approach to the Republican river bridge was broken down on Thursday by a wagon loaded with wood. . . . Wednesday morning several wagon loads of emigrants crossed on the bridge. After waiting a couple of days for some one to fix it, they went to work and in a day and a half had it so that it could be crossed. A few days ago a blacksmith working for Meader, having occasion to cross over, could only cross on the railroad bridge. In doing so he fell through, but falling on some timbers had his shoulder broken. . . . A few days ago a man in attempting to cross had a horse killed. A party of emigrants crossed over the other day by unloading their wagons and packing the goods over. The bridge has been in this condition for about a month. . . . We passed the Republican bridge the other day, and of all the disgraceful, dilapidated concerns, it is the worst. We understand the company have sent to Chicago for lumber to fix it. In the meantime, we hope the U. S. military authorities will take charge of it, and put it in the shape government designed it should be when the land was donated. . . . The Republican bridge is actually being repaired, a large force of men being engaged on the work, and from present indications it will be a most substantial improvement on the old. . . . The Republican river bridge is finally repaired and rendered passable, being rebuilt on a more substantial basis than heretofore. No accident insurance will now be required in view of making an attempt to cross it.

The third bridge to span the Republican river at this point was that of the Kansas Pacific railway, which was completed in 1866. This bridge, like the first two wagon bridges, was a victim of the elements of nature in February, 1867, its fate being chronicled briefly, as follows:

The railroad bridge over the Republican, this side of Junction City, went out on Thursday morning. One-half of the superstructure was secured so as to prevent it from floating downstream, and the other half came down and lodged against an island just above Wamego. It will soon be put to rights again.-- Wyandotte Gazette, February 16, 1867.

Thursday morning a bridge supposed to be that of the Union Pacific railroad over the Republican river, came floating past Manhattan. Two men were upon it trying to steer the unmanageable bark ashore. We learn that a line was thrown to them from the shore a little below here, and thus at least, one span of the bridge was saved and safely moored.-- Manhattan Independent, February 16, 1867.

The Republican river bridge beyond Manhattan was swept away on February 14, during the highest water ever known up to that time.--Kansas Radical, Manhattan, February 16, 1867.

Bridges at Riley, Manhattan and Wyandotte have been swept away by the flood. Also a large portion of the pontoon at Topeka.--Leavenworth Conservative,February 15, 1867.


During 1867 another corporation known as the Junction City and Republican Bridge and Ferry Company filed a charter with the state. The incorporators were R. W. Hilliker, F. M. Ferguson, John Wayland, 0. J. Hopkins and Thomas D. Fitch. This company was capitalized for $300,000, with shares $300 each. It was the purpose of the company to operate a ferry and build bridges in Davis county at a point on the Republican in S. 17, T. 11, R. 5 E., and between points five miles above and five miles below. This company was organized July 27, 1867, and filed its charter with the secretary of state July 30, 1867. 31 No further history of this bridge and ferry project has been located.

From Junction City and vicinity roads led out in all directions. The military road passed through the town and led on to Salina and the military posts on the Smoky Hill and southwest to the Santa Fe trail. The Leavenworth and Pike's Peak express route ran through the town and went up the Smoky Hill for a distance. A Mormon road ran across the military reservation, and continued in a northerly direction close to the east line of Range 5. A road from Junction City crossed the Republican at the north line of the city at S. 1, T. 12, R. 5, and connected with a road running west from the fort. A letter to the author from Henry Thiele, of Junction City, indicates that there was an old Indian ford across the Republican at this place. A branch of this road ran up the east side of the river towards the Nebraska line. 32

In 1857 the legislature passed an act declaring "The road as now located and opened as a military road from Fort Riley northwest to the Nebraska line, is hereby made a territorial road." 33 The road leading from Fort Riley to Bent's Fort, as already established, 34 was likewise made a territorial road. In 1864 Congressman A. C. Wilder presented a concurrent resolution of the Kansas legislature to congress for the establishment of a military road from Fort Leavenworth via Fort Riley to Fort Larned. 35 Another road started from Fort Riley via Ogden, turned northwest, followed up the east bank of the Republican, touching the towns of Milford, Gatesville, Clay Center, Lima, Clifton, Clyde, Lawrenceburg, Lake Sibley, thence a little west of north to a point just across the Kansas-Nebraska line, where it joined the Fort Riley-Fort Kearney road.


Another road started from Junction City and followed up the west side of the Republican, touching at McGeesburg, Five Creeks, Mulberry, and, crossing the river at Lawrenceburg, terminated at Salt Marsh on Salt creek, a few miles north of the river. 36

Prior to 1861 no mail was carried beyond Junction City. In April, that year, a contract was let for carrying it once a week from that point to Salina, a distance of about forty-five miles. 37

The Leavenworth & Pike's Peak express line, which went into operation in May, 1859, followed up the Smoky Hill after reaching Junction City, turning towards the northwest in present Ottawa county. Inside of a year this line was moved north to the Platte river. During the summer of 1862 the Kansas Stage Company< started running stages from Junction City to points on the Santa Fe trail. The first coach left Junction City August 22 for the far West, this being the formal opening of the Smoky Hill route to Santa Fe. Prior to this time all travel had passed over the Santa Fe trail through Morris county. Five days later the stage from the West arrived in Junction City. 38

With the organization of the Butterfield Overland Despatch in May, 1865, that company started construction work on a line to Denver. On June 30 their construction train reached Junction City, from which point it started west on July 3, opening up a road and reaching Denver on August 7, following. This company transported an immense amount of merchandise over the military road and over the ferry on the Republican. The first train sent out by the company--a small one--was on June 24, 1865. It was loaded with 150,000 pounds of freight for Denver and other Colorado points. On July 15, following, a train left Atchison for Colorado with seventeen large steam boilers. Steamboats discharged great quantities of freight on the Atchison levee for shipment by this line. In one day during July, 1865, nineteen car loads of freight were unloaded at Atchison consigned to the "B. 0. D." Early in August a train was loaded with 600,000 pounds of mechandise for Salt Lake City merchants. 39

The location of the next ferry upstream is a matter of conjecture. On November 1, 1865, a license was issued to Mary Clark to keep a ferry across the Republican. She filed the $500 bond required by


law. J. R. McClure was the security. 40 The location of this ferry does not appear on the records, nor has any further history been located. On February 5, 1867, a company was organized at Junction City known as the Republican River Bridge and Ferry Company. The incorporators were James Streeter, A. W. Callen, 0. J. Hopkins, James H. Brown, P. L. Taylor, S. M. Strickler, G. E. Beates, Daniel Mitchell, Wm. K. Bartlett and Robert McBratney. This company proposed to operate bridges or ferries from the mouth of the Republican river to the point where the west line of Davis county crossed that river. The principal office of the company was to be at Junction City. Capital stock was listed at $150,000, with shares $50 each. This charter was filed with the secretary of state February 6, 1867. No further mention of this enterprise has been located. 41

Another project, the Union Ferry Company, Davis county, was organized July 20, 1867, and proposed to maintain a ferry or bridge, or both, across the Republican river at a point (not specified) between the Fort Riley military reservation and where the river intersects the east line of Clay county. The incorporators were E. W. Rice, Will C. Rawalle, G. E. Beates and Bertrand Rockwell. The capital stock was to be $5,000, with shares $100 each. This charter was filed with the secretary of state July 24, 1867. 42 Aside from the charter no further record of this ferry has been located.

Bachelder, about nine miles northwest of Junction City by land, and about fifteen by the river, was the next ferry location. The legislature of 1859 granted to Abram Barry the right to keep a ferry at or within one mile of Bachelder for the period of ten years, with right to land on either bank of the river. Rates of ferriage were to be fixed by the county board. This act also granted to Barry and his associates the privilege of building a bridge at this same location and maintaining it for a period of twenty years, they to have all the rights of the Lawrence Bridge Company, authorized at this same session of the legislative assembly. This act was approved by Gov. S. Medary, February 11, 1859. 43

There must have been need of a ferry at this point and one may have been operated there more or less continuously for many years, although no confirming evidence has been found except the following from the Topeka Daily Capital, of March 19, 1881:


Mr. A. B. Whiting returned to-day from a visit to Davis county. At Milford, on the Republican river, the ferry boat had washed away leaving suspended in the air the wire cable which was utilized in an odd way by those desiring to cross. A crockery crate was slung under the cable or pulley, and passengers climbed in by ladder on each side. The crate being cut loose it would descend with great rapidity, just touching the water in the center of the river, and its impetus would carry it part way up the grade, and then the occupants of the crate, never more than four, would haul hand over hand until the terminal air station on the other side was reached. The return was made in the same way, and the appearance of the crate as it descended the curve was somewhat similar to that of a basket full of human beings shot out of a mortar. It was more novel than popular as a mode of transit, but it was the only way left to cross the high waters. Mr. Whiting crossed with a party of three and found his hair standing on end and moral reflections coming very naturally to his mind.

Wakefield, Clay county, was the next ferry location, being about seven miles by river and about one mile less by land. This town was started in 1869 by a colony of English settlers, and was named in honor of Rev. Richard Wake, who came to America in 1854 and united with the Methodist Episcopal church. He was one of the leading spirits in the new colony. On March 30, 1870, the Wakefield Bridge and Ferry Company was organized, the charter members being Alexander Maitland, A. B. Whiting, A. C. Jewett, Moses Younkin and Perry M. Cushing. The company had its offices at Wakefield, and the organization was capitalized for $1,000, with shares at $10 each. Their ferryboat was to ply the Republican river and have suitable piers on each side of the stream opposite the town. This charter was filed with the secretary of state, April 19, 1870. 44

William J. Chapman, in his account of the Wakefield colony, stated that James Eustace was president of the Wakefield Bridge and Ferry Company and William Guy the ferryman. 45

Just when this ferry actually went into operation has not been learned, but it must have been late in 1870 before it was ready to function. On January 3, 1871, a petition was presented to the county commissioners of Clay county, asking for a license to operate a ferry at this town. This petition was granted and the license fee fixed at $10 a year. Rates of ferriage were accepted in accordance with rates accompanying the petition, and were as follows:

Single passengers, 10 cents; single passengers who return same day, 15 cents. Family of three, 25 cents; return same day, 40 cents. One horse and rider, 15 cents; return same day, 25 cents. Two horses, 20 cents; and return, 30 cents. One team and wagon, laden or empty, 35 cents; return same day, 50 cents.


Live stock, single head, 15 cents; three head, 35 cents; five head, 50 cents. Sheep, 5 cents each; 50 or over, 3 cents a head. Family tickets to include the members of the family of the same name under 21 years of age, and one team and wagon, or one horse or single head of stock to pass once and back in one day, per month, $2.50; six months, $7.50; 12 months, $12. 46

The next mention of this ferry in county records was on October 5, 1874, the county board granting a ferry license to A. Maitland for one year, on condition that Maitland pay a license fee of $10, and file a bond for $1,000, "the board believing that such ferry was necessary for the accommodation of the public." The county board fixed the following rates, which Maitland was authorized to charge and collect for his services:

Foot passengers, single crossing, 5 cents; horse and rider, single crossing, 10 cents; horse and buggy, single crossing, 15 cents; one team and wagon, loaded or empty, 25 cents; threshing machine and all double loads, 35 cents; cattle--5 head or less, each, 10 cents; over 5 head, 5 cents; 5 head of sheep or hogs, 5 cents. One-trip tickets for foot passengers returning same day, twelve for 75 cents; one-trip tickets for wagon loaded or empty, returning same day, twelve for $2. 47

In the spring of 1875 the ferryboat at Wakefield was lost or destroyed, and need existing for such a convenience, Messrs. Thomas H. North and N. B. March presented their petition to the county board on April 12, asking for a license to run a ferryboat on the river at or near Wakefield, within one mile of the present ferry there. This firm proposed to charge the following rates of ferriage:

Two-horse team, 20 cents; one-horse team, 15 cents; horseman, 10 cents; footman, 5 cents; four-horse team, 30 cents; threshing machine, 30 cents; horse power, 25 cents. To return same day in each case, 5 cents additional. Cattle--2 head, each 10 cents; over 2 head, each 5 cents. Sheep--2 head, each 5 cents; all over 5 head, each 3 cents. Hogs--same as sheep.

The county board granted the license, contingent on the filing of a bond of $1,000, and the receipt of a sum of $10 as a license fee for one year. 48

With the loss of his ferryboat early in the year, Mr. Maitland must have neglected to file the necessary bond required of ferry owners. In the meantime North and March must have "stolen a march" on him by filing their bond and putting their ferry into operation. Later, learning that Maitland contemplated a resumption of business, North and March presented a petition to the county board June 6, 1875, reciting that Maitland had not filed the


necessary bond, and asked that the licenses to him be revoked, giving the following reasons therefor:

1st--That said Maitland has no ferryboat and is not using due diligence to build one, and has had no boat since the breaking up of ice last spring.
2d--That Mr. Maitland had not complied with the law in having, when his boat was running, a list of rates of fare at his ferry, and having charged more than the rates allowed by the county commissioners.
3d--That said A. Maitland claims that his license is in full force and effect, and that he has a right of way extending 1 1/2 miles above and the same distance below the former Wakefield ferry, to the damage and annoyance of the said North and March, who hold a license to run a ferry at Wakefield, and who have a good boat, and are complying with the law concerning ferries, and further, they are prepared to prove the above under oath and by other witnesses if necessary. 49

Under date of July 7, 1875, the “Commissioners' Journal” recites:

A. Maitland appeared before the board to ask permission for a certain length of time to rebuild a ferryboat to replace the one destroyed last spring. The board having no power could grant no permission. Other matters were presented by Mr. Maitland but the board having no jurisdiction could offer no relief. And it appears by the record that Mr. Maitland, by order of this board, was granted a license to run a ferryboat at or near Wakefield, on the 5th of October, 1874, and the said Maitland having failed to file the bond required by law, and as Mr. Maitland expressed himself as not caring whether the license continued or not, it is hereby ordered that said license be revoked and the clerk notify Mr. Maitland of the action of the board. 50

Another entry of July 7 says: "By reason of the revoking of Mr. Maitland's license no action on the above petition [of North and March] was necessary." 51

W. P. Gates, of Wakefield, may have operated the ferry in 1876, as the "Commissioners' Journal" of April 4, 1877, states that Mr. Gates presented a petition to renew the license for a ferry across the Republican at that place. He presented a bond approved by the board, and having paid the $10 fee required, the board ordered a license granted, toll rates to be as follows: "Foot passengers, 5 cents; horse and rider (return 10 cents extra), 10 cents; horse and buggy (return 10 cents extra), 15 cents; two-horse team loaded or empty (return 10 cents extra), 25 cents; threshing machine and four-horse teams, 35 cents." 52

Evidently Mr. Gates interested outside capital in his ferry business this year, for on July 3 the Wakefield Ferry Company was organized, the incorporators being William Preston Gates, D. H.


Myers, R. T. Bachelor, Joseph Christmas, William Alloway, David Hayden and Pharselia Marcellus Hocking. The company was capitalized at $300, with shares $5 each. The charter stated that the ferry was to be over the Republican river at the town of Wakefield, Clay county, between the townships of Republican and Grant, and the corporation was to exist for ten years. This charter was filed with the secretary of state July 26, 1877. 53

The last mention of a ferry at Wakefield found in county records is of date February 19, 1880, which states that an application was received from William Alloway, secretary of the Wakefield Ferry Company, asking that a license be granted the company to operate the ferry at or near Wakefield. The license was ordered granted on the payment of a $10 fee and the filing of a bond of $1,000, and was to be dated from February 28, 1880. Rates of ferriage were not mentioned in the commissioners' minutes. 54

Broughton, about midway between Wakefield and Clay Center, was the next ferry site upstream. The only reference to this ferry we have located is the following from The Times, Clay Center, of February 9, 1934:

Some weeks ago The Times stated that, as far as this paper had learned the only ferry across the Republican river between Clay Center and the Geary county line was the one at Wakefield. However, Harry Clark informs the paper that in the spring of 1882 a ferry was 200 feet up the river from where the present river bridge stands. It was maintained until 1887, and operated by two brothers named French.

There was a little draw on the south side of the river and a road ran down to the river bank. People drove down and were ferried across the river. When the bridge was built at Broughton the ferry was discontinued. So that makes another ferry for Clay county, but seems to establish the fact that there were but two from Clay Center to the Geary county line.

Clay Center, about six or seven miles upstream and a little less by wagon road, was the next ferry location. On July 3, 1867, a license was granted to N. Duncan to build a ferry across the Republican river at the crossing of the county road near Dexter's mill, at the southwest edge of Clay Center, with license fee to hold good for one year. 55 Neither the amount of the fee nor ferriage rates were given in this record. No further mention of this ferry has been located. Apparently no other license was issued for a ferry at this place until October 6, 1873, when the county board granted ferry privileges to Messrs. Wickham & Plant. Whether they started their


ferry at this time is a bit uncertain, for on January 7, 1874, the commissioners' minutes record that C. E. Linsley filed his application and bond, asking for a license. His application was filed for future action. 56 No further mention of this matter has been located.

On the same day that Mr. Linsley filed his application Messrs. James Plant and Asa Anderson also made application to the commissioners for a license to run a ferryboat at the crossing of the river on the route from Clay Center to Republican City, at Clay Center. The board believed that such a ferry was necessary for the accommodation of the public, and accordingly granted a license for the period of one year from that date. The board also ordered that they should have the exclusive privilege of building and operating a ferry at Clay Center, and authorized them to charge and collect the following ferriage rates:

For four-horse team, or two-horse team and threshing machine, one trip, 30 cents; two-horse team and threshing machine power, one trip, 20 cents; two-horse team and conveyance, one trip, 20 cents; single buggy or wagon, one trip, 15 cents; horse and rider, one trip, 10 cents; foot passenger, one trip, 5 cents; cattle, one head, one trip, 10 cents; over one head, each head, one trip, 5 cents; sheep or hogs, five head or less, one trip, each, 5 cents; each additional head, one trip, 2 cents.

One driver to be passed with each team. No person other than those belonging to family of person owning team or driving same to be allowed to cross with the same without charge. The ferry to be run at the above rates from 5 o'clock a.m. to 9 o'clock p.m. And from 9 o'clock p.m. to 5 o'clock a. m., double the above rates to be charged.

The above list of rates on the said ferry to apply to one crossing if the return is not made before 9 o'clock p. m. of the same day. And the word "trip" to be construed to mean "across the river and back again if made before 9 o'clock p. m. of the same day."

And it was further ordered by the board that the said Plant & Anderson should file a bond of two thousand dollars for a strict performance of their agreement with the board, and pay into the county treasury the sum of fifteen dollars as a license fee to run their ferry. 57

The Times,Clay Center, in its issue of January 4, 1934, has an interesting article on Clay county ferries, from which the following regarding the above-mentioned ferry is taken:

George Neill has about the best recollection of ferries around Clay Center. The first ferry here, he says, was operated by Plant & Anderson, just where the old Fourth street bridge has stood for so many years. That was around 1873. Mr. Neill was running a store at Republican City, southwest of town, of which city he was also postmaster. He states that he lost a load of merchandise, worth $200, in the river at that ferry, as he attempted to drive onto the


ferry. Mr. Neill states there was also a ferry just south of the mouth of Five Creeks, operated by George Small. Then there was a ferry at the present Airline bridge site, run by a man named DeMond, who lived at the place. Mr. Lippe (Rev. Lippe) operated the ferry at Rocky Ford which was just a mile up the river from the Airline river bridge.

Clay Center being off the main-traveled highways to the West, was not much of a road center in its early days. However, it was on the route of a road running from Fort Riley, up the east side of the Republican via Bachelder, Riley county, St. Julien, Mount Pleasant, Clay Center, Clifton and on to the Nebraska line. A state road was laid out from Clay Center to Waterville in 1870. Clay county accepted the road on November 12, that year, issuing warrants for her share of the expense. 58 At this time Waterville was the terminus of the Central Branch railroad, and the newly opened state road was a benefit to settlers living in the sparsely settled sections between these two points.

The next ferry location up the south side of the river was the Five Creeks ferry, and while not operated on the Republican, was located close to the mouth, and proved a great convenience to residents and travelers going up or down the river, or to and from Clay Center. For that reason its history is included at this point.

This ferry was started by Timothy Martell, who, on July 2, 1877, petitioned the county board to grant him a license. In his petition he stated that his ferry was so situated as to produce no revenue, and asked that his license be granted without payment of the usual fee. He furnished a bond, which was acceptable to the board, whereupon a license was granted. 59 He ran this ferry about two years. D. G. Brooks appeared to be in charge of this ferry in 1879, and on July 9 made application for the necessary license, which was granted without the payment of the $10 fee. He was allowed to charge the same rates as previous owners of the ferry. 60 F. B. Dodds, of Lawrence, states that this ferry was in operation as late as 1881, or till the bridge was built. The ferry was located in the NW 1/4 S. 13, T. 8, R. 2, and about one mile northeast of Republican City. 61

A ferry was in operation at the location now known as the Air Line bridge during the late 1860’s, according to F. B. Dodds, of Lawrence. This location is about four miles upstream from the Five Creeks ferry. While commissioners' records of Clay county contain no record of ferry licenses for this location under that name,


the ferry site is so named and located on the SE 1/4 of the SW 1/4 S. 2, T. 8, R. 2 E., on land owned in 1881 by T. G. Ryan. 62 No further history was located.

Rocky Ford ferry was next upstream from the Air Line location, and nearly two miles distant, being in the extreme northeast corner of S. 4, T. 8, R. 2 E. An atlas of 1881 shows this ferry located on land owned by J. L. Woodside. It is said a ferry was in operation here in the 1860's, notwithstanding county records prior to 1874 contain no mention of licenses issued. On June 8, that year, however, the county board ordered the clerk to issue a license to W. J. Woodside to operate a ferry near Rocky Ford, on condition that Woodside file a bond for $1,000 with the county clerk and pay into the county treasury the sum of $10 as a license fee for the period of one year, and otherwise comply with the law regarding ferries. Woodside was allowed to charge and collect the following rates of toll for his services:

For one threshing machine, 30 cents; four-horse team and wagon, 30 cents; one-horse vehicle, 15 cents; one man and horse, 10 cents; one footman, 5 cents.

The above prices are only extended from 7 o'clock a. m. till 9 o'clock p.m. of same day.

All of the members of any family under the age of 21 years are allowed with the wagon and team.

Each team crossing shall pay 20 cents, and if said team don't come back within ten days, it can have a return trip for 30 cents. [Probably meant if team returned inside of ten days.]

All care to be taken to prevent accidents, and all those who will not comply with the terms of the ferry rules shall be responsible for their damages should any occur. If the river is very high the teamster must loose the traces and put down the tongue if the ferryman thinks it unsafe. 63

This ferry must have passed into new hands the next year, for on July 7, 1875, Messrs. Williams and Bebout appeared before the county board and made application to operate the ferry at or near this place. They made it plain to the board that the ferry was to be run as a neighborhood convenience, would have very little to do, and that the fees collected would not amount to enough to pay for the license fee. The board was convinced it was necessary for the convenience and use of the neighborhood, and accordingly issued a license for one year without payment of the usual fee. Messrs. Williams and Bebout were required, however, to file a bond in the sum of $1,000, and charge the same rates of ferriage as were recorded


on page 187 of the "Commissioners' Journal," and to fulfill the requirements of the ferry law. 64 Mr. Williams seems to have operated his ferry about three months, for on October 5, following, he informed the county board that he had disposed of his ferry at Rocky Ford and wished his license canceled as he had sold out his interest and the buyer would continue the business. As no loss would result to the public, the board ordered the license canceled. 65

A. M. Marker was the new operator, and he presented his petition for a license to operate on the route heretofore occupied by L. M. Williams. Marker filed the required bond and the board granted him a license, ferriage rates to remain the same as before. 66

Timothy Martell was in charge at this point the next year. On June 5, 1876, his petition was presented to the county board, together with a bond signed by himself, J. M. Coffman and Edmond Desmond. His petition was accepted and a license granted for one year without payment of a license fee, ferriage rates to remain as heretofore allowed. 67 Martell operated this ferry about two years, after which time it passed into new hands. In 1878 Adolph Eberhard was granted the license. In 1879 it went to T. M. Wilson. From 1880 to 1883, when the last license was issued, Mr. Eberhard (or Ehrhardt) was proprietor. Ferriage charges allowed by the county board in 1880 were: “Round trip, two-horse team, 15 cents; round trip, one-horse team, 10 cents; round trip, footman, 10 cents.” 68

Morgan was the next ferry location, this being about twelve miles slightly northwest of the Rocky Ford ferry, as the crow flies, and approximately half as far again by the river. The first mention of ferry matters at this point is found in an item from The Nationalist,Manhattan, of September 1, 1871, which stated that it was "a good ferry point where a ferry is soon to be built by a company lately formed in the town." No specific location for this ferry has been located, but it probably was in the immediate neighborhood of the bridge later erected over the Republican almost directly west of the town.

E. W. Reed appears to have been the first to receive a license to engage in business at this point. His application, bearing date of July 8, 1873, and presented to the county board, was granted, the license being issued October 3, following, without charge, on condition that he file a bond with the county clerk in the amount of $1,000. 69 One year later Mr. Reed received another license, the


county board prescribing ferry charges as follows: "For two horses and wagon and driver, 20 cents; one horse, buggy and man, 15 cents; footman, each way, 5 cents; loose stock, per head, 5 cents; one man and horse, 10 cents." 70

Mr. Reed operated this ferry until March 11, 1875, when he petitioned the county board to release him from his bond as he had sold his ferry at Morgan City. The board granted his petition that he be released from any liability occurring after this date.

Charles Ehrhardt became the new owner, and this same day he presented his petition for a license to operate at this same location. He furnished the required bond, signed by himself, J. Stirling and Peter Young. 71 This ferry was operated regularly as late as 1881, being under the control of Timothy Martell on October 4, 1875; J. W. Luce, in 1876; Nathan Fowler and Thomas Truffly (?) in 1877, 1878 and 1879; 72 and A. Ehrhardt in 1880 and 1881. The license for 1880 fixed ferriage charges as follows: "Round trip, two-horse team, 20 cents; round trip, one-horse team, 15 cents; round trip, footmen, each, 10 cents." 73 The application for 1878 stated that the ferry was located on the section line dividing sections 6 and 7, T. 7, R. 2 E. This ferry site is shown in Bird & Mickle's Historical Plat Book of Clay County,1881, page 49, as located on the NE corner S. 7, T. 7, R. 2 E. It was probably discontinued when the Morganville bridge was built. This bridge went out during a flood in the 1920's, and for a time an emergency ferry was put into operation to care for traffic. 74

Eagle Bend, in the immediate vicinity of Morganville, also had a ferry that operated for several years. This location, as recorded in the Clay county courthouse, was in the extreme northeast corner of S. 7, T. 7, R. 2 E., practically identical with that of the Morganville ferry. It may have been a new name for the older ferry. On June 5, 1876, Timothy Martell presented a petition to the county commissioners for a license to operate a ferry at this location, paying a $10 fee for this privilege and receiving authority to charge ferriage rates as already established. In 1877 he presented his petition for similar privileges. 75 Martell at this time was also operating a ferry at Rocky Ford. These are the only licenses issued by Clay county for ferry privileges to the Eagle Bend ferry.


An article in The Times, Clay Center, January 4, 1934, described an interview with Tom Edmonds relative to the start of this ferry. It says:

. . . In 1873, he was herding cattle a little northwest of Clay Center for Tom Morgan. One day he saw men twisting wires to make a cable and within a short time they had a ferry in operation across the river. That was two miles west and one mile south of Morganville. That ferry is what is known as "The Eagle Bend Ferry." It was operated for some time. The ends of the old cable can still be seen twisted around the trees at Eagle Bend. Perry Peterson, mail carrier, confirms that statement, that the old cables are still visible. George Carl and Philip Girard own the land on each side of the river there now.

Another reader of The Times, writing to that paper from Clyde, said:

It was started there near 1878 by Timothy Martell from Clyde, and William McCaddon rented the boat near that time and ran it from April until October. It was situated north of the Snell farm on the west side of the river and between the Brazil farm, now occupied by Claude Stewart, and the Barrows farm, now owned by Carls on the east. We lived there in a little log cabin on the bank of the river.

The next ferry above Morganville was known as the Riverdale ferry, being between five and six miles by the river and about three miles downstream from Clifton. Riverdale post office was about two miles west of the Republican, and on a section road reaching the river between sections 13 and 24, T. 6, R. 1 E. The Times, Clay Center, in the issue of January 4, 1934, has an interesting article regarding ferries in this immediate neighborhood, as recalled by Frank Knapp, of Clay Center and formerly of Clifton. It says:

According to Mr. Knapp in 1871 there were two ferries across the Republican river northwest of Morganville. One was across the river directly west from the Crawford schoolhouse about 1 1/2 miles, connecting land now owned by Henry Mellies. The other was directly west from the Sherman schoolhouse, about two miles, connecting the present Bauer-Pederson land. It was approximately 3 miles down from Clifton. This was the ferry known as the Riverdale ferry. It was operated by a man named T. L. Tanney (or Tenney). Mr. Knapp says that the ferry west of the Crawford schoolhouse was not operated long. The Riverdale ferry was much the better known. Mr. Knapp is not sure whether these two ferries were operated at the same time or whether the Crawford school ferry was moved up the river to the Riverdale neighborhood. All he remembers is that there were in 1871 ferries at each of these places.

The Riverdale ferry apparently was nearer the town in 1876 than it was in 1871. A notice in the Concordia Empire, June 23, 1876, said: "Riverdale Ferry. One mile east of Riverdale, on the most


direct route to Clay Center. Cross the Republican at Tinney and Greenwood's Ferry. They will cross you day or night."

A Clifton reader of The Times, in its issue of January 11, 1934, adds the following to Clay county's ferry history: "The Riverdale ferry was on the Harrison land, and, I think, run by a man named Tenney, from Morganville, and there was still another one near Pete Young's, and in 1870 there was no way to cross the river except to ford, only at Clyde was a pontoon bridge."

The only license for a ferry in the Riverdale neighborhood was issued on April 3, 1876, to T. L. Tinney and William Greenwood. They filed the required bond, paid a $10 license fee and were allowed to charge the following rates of ferriage:

Two-horse team to cross and return same day, 20 cents; two-horse buggy to cross and return same day, 20 cents; one-horse buggy to cross and return same day, 15 cents; horseman to cross and return same day, 10 cents; footman, each way, 5 cents; loose stock and horses, per head, less than 5, 5 cents; loose stock and horses, 5 head or over, per head, 2 cents; hogs or sheep, per head, 2 cents; four-horse teams to cross one way, 30 cents; threshing machines to cross one way, 30 cents. 76

Clifton, three miles above the Riverdale ferry, was the next ferry location. A crossing known as the Sturtevant ferry was said to have been in operation during the late 1860's, according to F. B. Dodds, of Lawrence. This enterprise was running before the bridge was built. However, the first ferry license located for this town bears date of April 2, 1878, when G. E. Brooks was granted the right to operate a ferry at or near the line between sections 5 and 6, T. 6, R. 1 E. To Mr. Brooks' application a $1,000 bond was attached, signed by himself as principal and C. E. Doolittle, E. Dole and Wm. H. Rich as sureties. His license cost him $10 and he was authorized to make charges similar to neighboring ferries. 77

Apparently another ferry was in operation in this immediate vicinity the year before, for on November 9, 1878, an entry in the "Commissioners' Journal" recited: "The ferry license of H. A. Sutton and H. G. Reed for a ferry across the Republican river near W 1/2 S. 14, T. 6, R. 1 E., in Mulberry township, expires the 12th inst., and the said parties have made application for a renewal, and it is ordered that license be granted for one year November 12, 1878, free of license fee." 78

Mr. Reed must have approved of this location, for on December 20, 1878, the Clifton Ferry Company was organized, the incorpo-


rators being Leavitt Bartlett, C. C. Funnell, G. E. Reed, E. W. Snyder and Albert Lavy. The new company was capitalized at $200, in forty equal shares. The principal office of the company was at Clifton, and the ferry was south of town on the east line of S. 14, T. 6, R. 2. This charter was filed with the secretary of state January 4, 1879. 79

S. Bartlett applied for a license at this location on February 11, 1880, which was granted without fee upon his filing bond. His ferriage charges were uniform, costing patrons ten cents for each crossing for every kind of vehicle, or footman. 80 No record of licenses for 1881 and 1882 have been located. On April 15, 1883, A. Ehrhardt applied for and was granted the license for this location, this being the last date a license was granted. 81 This was the northernmost ferry site in Clay county.

The next ferry upstream was in Cloud county, and was located on the parallel about four miles above Clifton and three miles below Clyde. It was started in the spring of 1871 by A. J. Bradford. The Concordia Empire, of April 8, 1871, stated that it was to be running inside of a month, and the Atchison Champion of April 29, following, said: "There is a good rope ferry here and charges are reasonable." In November, that year, for reasons not stated, the ferry was not in working order, and stages to Concordia on the north side of the river were routed by way of Sibley. 82 Just how long this ferry was operated we have not learned.

Clyde was the next ferry location upstream. It was about six miles by the river, or four by wagon road from Clifton. The first ferry recorded at Clyde was in 1870, although it could not be classified as a permanent institution. Heavy rains occurred in Cloud county in September of that year, and Elk creek, which flows through the town, overflowed and caused considerable damage and inconvenience. Flood waters got into the pit of Kennedy's saw mill, at the east edge of town. While the water was up the boiler of the shingle mill was used as a ferry boat. Several bridges were washed away. The Republican river rose ten or twelve feet, but at Clyde did not greatly overflow its banks. It was falling by the latter week of September, and in the meantime people in the flooded district crossed in boats. 83


On April 24, 1871, the Clyde Bridge and Ferry Company was organized, the incorporators being A. W. Campbell, David Heller, Charles Davis and David Turner. The principal place of business of the company was at Clyde, and the charter secured from the state was for twenty years. Officers of the company included A. W. Campbell, president; David Heller, treasurer; David Turner, secretary, who were also directors, the other members being B. H. McEckron, A. J. Bradford, Charles Davis, Geo. W. Barnes, Ephraim Kennedy and William Hare. The company proposed to operate a toll bridge or ferry on or near the section line between sections 26 and 27, T. 5, R. 1 W., in Elk township, Cloud county, this being just north of the old Central Branch railway. This enterprise was capitalized at $15,000, in shares of $50 each. This charter was filed with the secretary of state April 26, 1871. 84

This ferry must have gone into operation shortly after the charter was obtained. The following year B. H. McEckron wrote the secretary of state, asking if their charter gave them control of the ferry rights for a distance of five miles each way from the ferry, no legislation having been had to that effect. 85 The secretary's reply, unfortunately, has not been preserved.

On March 14, 1872, the Clyde ferry was granted a license on payment of a $25 fee to the county treasury. The board of county commissioners prescribed the following rates: "Team and wagon, 25 cents; single animal and wagon, 15 cents; horse and rider, 10 cents; foot passengers, 5 cents; loose horses and neat cattle, each 5 cents; sheep and swine, each 5 cents. The ferry company was required to post rates of ferriage in conspicuous places on both sides of the river." 86

Ferrymen as well as those wishing to cross on the boats had their worries. Floods made their business hazardous; winter put an end to it, while drouth halted operations at times. This latter condition obtained early in the spring of 1872, as will be seen by the following:

The Waterville stage did not arrive until quite late on Saturday night, and many thought it singular, as the day was pleasant and roads good. From Superintendent Scott we learn that while crossing on the ferry at Clyde, the boat grounded and after working a long time to get it afloat the horses were taken off and used to haul the boat ashore. This detained the coach a couple of hours. We make this statement in justice to the company.--Concordia Empire, April 13, 1872.


This ferry operated as late as 1878, the last license record located being in the commissioners' proceedings for April 9, 1877, and granting a license in January 1, 1878. 87 On this date, however, the "ferry was not working. The river was full of running ice and the ferry boat was moored to the Clyde shore, unable to do duty. Consequently passengers on the stage, with their baggage and the mails, had to be crossed on the railway bridge--a procedure not so pleasant we apprehend, for the ladies and children, owing to the incomplete condition of the bridge." 88

On July 7, 1870, the Concordia land office was opened, and immediately the tide of immigration set in to the Republican valley. As there was no bridge on the river nearer than Junction City these settlers were obliged to make use of the ferries when not able to ford the river. Some idea of this rush of settlers is indicated by the fact that the office was besieged for weeks and months by hungry land seekers, who sometimes stood in lines 200 or 300 yards in length, remaining night and day awaiting their turns to secure the coveted homestead or preemption. 89 Awaiting their turn to cross the river at the ferries must have been irksome to these settlers, for as early as 1871 there was considerable talk in favor of bridges. These early attempts, however, came to naught, as some of the wiser heads in each county pointed out the heavy taxes such improvements would entail upon the settlers, and arguing that "Good ferries are being put in at every point where they are necessary." It was not until 1877 that an election to vote bonds for bridge purposes carried. 90

While but few roads centered there, Clyde was quite an important early-day point. Stages from the Republican valley routed for Concordia and other points westward all crossed the river here. The road from Atchison to Clifton, running west on or near the first standard parallel, by way of Lancaster, Muscotah, Eureka, America and Irving City, was made a state road by the legislature of 1861. 91

Capt. Nathaniel Fox, who purchased Seymour's ferryboat early in April, 1872, and moved it down the river to Bunton's ford, had the next ferry. He applied to the Cloud county commissioners for a license which the board considered at a meeting a few days later and refused, as being within the charter limits of the Clyde Ferry


Co. 92 The Concordia Empire at this time stated that Mr. Fox's ferryboat at Bunton's was operating and running successfully, and that he claimed the route to Clyde from Concordia was two miles nearer than by any other route, that the road was better and that there was one less creek to cross. Mr. Fox evidently started his ferry with the intention of catching the cream of the travel up the river. In the Empire of April 13 appeared the following advertisement:


I have established a ferry at Bunton's crossing of the Republican, and am prepared at all times of the day or night to cross teams or foot passengers. My boat is new and safe. The approaches are level and in good condition. The distance between Concordia and Clyde by this route is


than by any other, and there are not as many creeks to cross.

The following are the rates: Four-horse team, 40 cents; team and wagon, 25 cents; single animal and wagon, 15 cents; horse and rider, 10 cents; foot-man, 5 cents; sheep and swine, 3 cents each.

The commissioners evidently reconsidered Mr. Fox's application within the next week, for on April 20 their minutes recite that "License was granted to Nathaniel Fox to run a ferry at Bunton's ford on the Republican river, provided that he do not run the ferry within the limits of the Clyde ferry, measured by the channel of the river, and subject to the same conditions as the Clyde and Concordia ferries." 93

Presumably Mr. Fox had not been worried by the action of the county board, for he kept ahead with his ferry, apparently running it free in the meantime, as the following might indicate: "The Bull Run Ferry (at Bunton's Crossing) is crossing over free all the good looking men in the country. Mr. E. A. Wannemaker availed himself of the privilege and reports the ferry in good order, and insists that it is the nearest way down the valley." 94

In May, 1872, Captain Fox was not depending entirely upon the revenue derived from his ferry for a living, for his ferry advertisement also carried information to the effect that plenty of grain and hay could be obtained at the ferry for teams waiting to be crossed, and that meals could be had for 25 cents. 95

Late that fall the editor of the Empire had occasion to cross the river on this ferry and mentioned the incident:


The other day we passed over the river on the boat run by Captain Fox, and must say that it was just no trouble at all. The boat is a very safe one, and large. The approaches are easy, enabling loaded teams to cross easily. The Captain has made arrangements for high or low water. As this route is nearest to Clyde and Waterville, and the road the levelest, the ferry is kept running a large portion of the time. Captain Fox is an enterprising boatman, and worthy of patronage. 96

There has been no opportunity to consult Cloud county records for the years 1873 to 1875, inclusive, nor the newspapers covering those years, and it is barely possible that Mr. Fox did not operate his boat for that full period. On October 1, 1876, Burkdall & Ashlock filed a petition with the county board asking permission to run the Bull Run ferry for one year from that date. Their request was granted on payment of $15. 97 Apparently there was a change in the management of the ferry in the spring of 1877, for commissioners' proceedings of date April 9, 1877, state that the application of Messrs. Venne & Gamper for a license to run the Bull Run ferry over the Republican on S. 29, T. 5, R. 1 W., until January 1, 1878, was granted, the license fee being fixed at $15. 98 No further history has been located.

Lawrenceburg, seven or eight miles upstream from Clyde, and about six and one-half by land, had the next ferry, which must have been started in the spring of 1871. Although no record of a county license has been found for this ferry that year, the Waterville Telegraph,of May 17, 1871, states that "a ferry has been established across the Republican at Lawrenceburg, Cloud county." This ferry was operated for a short time in the spring of 1872, under the control of D. C. Seymour, before it went out of business. The following is an account of its "wind-up":

The Lawrenceburg ferry was sold quickly the other day. The proprietor, Mr. Seymour, was coming over to town when he met Mr. Fox, who bantered him for the boat. The price was given and accepted, and in a very short time Mr. Fox was on board the boat, cable hauled down, and on the way down the river to Bunton's, where it will be used hereafter. A new boat will probably be put in at Lawrenceburg. Mr. Seymour informs us that when he sold the boat, he supposed it would remain where it was."

That an attempt to establish a new ferry at this point was made a few days after the sale is indicated by the following item in the commissioners' proceedings of April 10, 1872: "The proposition of Frank Lawrence to build a free ferry on the Republican river near


Lawrenceburg, and equip the same, and present it to the county, if the county would agree to maintain the same and run it forever, was rejected after due consideration." 100

Another item from the above source, for August 10, 1872, stated that the Lawrenceburg ferry was nearly ready for operation. No further mention of this enterprise has been found.

The Concordia and Lawrenceburg Ferry Company had the next crossing above Lawrenceburg. This company was organized January 31, 1871, the incorporators being W. S. Symonds, Albert Neally, Hugh 0. Regan, Patrick O'Brien and Timothy O'Brien. The new company was capitalized for $300, with shares $10 each. The company proposed to operate a ferry across the Republican at a point on sections 19, 20 or 29, T. 5, R. 2 W. Business offices were to be maintained at both Concordia and Lawrenceburg. This charter was filed with the secretary of state March 24, 1871. 101 No further mention of this enterprise has been found.

On December 20, 1871, the Concordia and Clyde Ferry Association was organized, the incorporators being Calvin H. Sanders, D. C. Seymour, David Lilly, A. B. Seymour and F. Saunders. Its charter stated that the ferry was to be located in S. 20, T. 5, R. 2 W, in Cloud county, Kansas, with the place of business at the ferry. The incorporators were the first board of directors, and were to serve the first year. This charter was filed with the secretary of state December 23, 1871. 102

D. C. Seymour appears to have obtained control of this ferry,< which was about two miles slightly southwest of Lawrenceburg by land, and between seven and eight miles by the river. He was operating it in the spring of 1872, when he sold his boat and equipment to Capt. Nathaniel Fox, who floated it about twelve miles down stream to start the Bull Run ferry at Bunton's ford. Within ninety days Mr. Seymour built another boat and applied to the county board early in June for a license to operate a ferry on S. 20, T. 5, R. 2 W., which was granted free for one year, ferry charges being as follows: "One span of horses, or mules, or yoke of oxen, 25 cents; each additional animal, 10 cents; one horse and vehicle, 20 cents; each horseman, 10 cents; each footman, 5 cents." 103

Concordia, about eight or nine miles by the river and a trifle over four miles by land, had the next ferry. In 1859 or 1860 a profitable


ferryboat is said to have been in operation on the Republican just north of present Concordia. As there were comparatively few settlers in Cloud county at that time, it is more than likely this ferry picked up some patronage during the time of the gold rush to Pike's Peak. Concordia was located in 1869, and not until 1870 was there enough travel to justify a ferry at this point, though none was in operation that year. Early in 1871, however, it was announced that this want was to be supplied. In the Concordia Empire of February 11 the following item appeared: "It is expected that the ferry opposite this town will be in running order in three weeks. A good ferry anywhere between here and Clyde would surely have paid for itself and $500 more than expenses since last fall, and been of great benefit to the traveling community."

The new ferry evidently was put into operation according to schedule, for the Empire of March 11, following, stated: "The new ferryboat was launched last Saturday [March 4] and is now in good running condition. Mr. Lanoue is fixing up the landing, and when completed will be all that the traveling public could wish."

Mr. Lanoue at this time also operated a saw mill, and had a blacksmith shop near his mill, and as soon as his ferry was gotten into running order, he advertised that parties who lived on the north side of the river who needed blacksmithing and had their work done by him, would be ferried free. He was spoken of as one of the most enterprising men in the valley and deserved success. 104

An incident occurred at this ferry during midsummer, 1871, which furnished thrills for the principals. A Mr. Bogue, who lived on the north side of the river near Lake Sibley, had been at Concordia, and on his return drove on the ferryboat at Lanoue's crossing. The boat for some reason had not been properly secured, and when the fore wheels of the wagon struck the boat it was pushed into the stream, and the wagon, team, women and all were precipitated into the river, which was quite deep at that place. Mr. Henry Newman and James Hall plunged into the stream and rescued the women, who were badly frightened and very wet, and narrowly escaped drowning. 105

Not always did this ferry work to the satisfaction of every patron. A resident of Clyde voiced his complaint to his home paper, which in turn was answered by the Empire of April 29, 1871, as follows:

A correspondent of the Watchman pitches onto our ferry because he was delayed a few hours, the boat being out of order. Of the hundreds who have


crossed, no complaint has been made. The enterprise is new, and as a matter of course it takes some time to get everything in first-class shape. The proprietor, Mr. Lanoue, has spared no expense in putting in a first-class ferry. He has dug down a steep bank and put probably two hundred loads of rock on the bar and in the river to make the approaches safe and convenient. The boat is strongly made of oak, and the wire rope is strong enough to stand the swiftest current. The charter for a ferry at Clyde was granted at the same time as the one for this place. How's your boat?

By September this year the river had reached such a low stage that it was no trouble to ford it any place. Fall rains, however, again made ferrying necessary, and Mr. Lanoue, just before cold weather set in, was allowing the teams loaded with coal to cross for one-half the regular rate, which generosity was duly appreciated by citizens who were obliged to make use of the ferry. 106 By November 28 teams were crossing on the ice, and early in December zero weather set in and put a stop to ferrying. However, Mr. Lanoue started advertising to keep his ferry before the traveling public. Beginning with the December 23, 1871, issue of the Empire, he carried the following advertisement of his enterprise:


A new ferryboat at Concordia has just been completed by the undersigned, and is in splendid running order. A substantial wire rope is used. The traveling public may rest assured that they will be properly attended to. We can ferry loads of any size. H. LANOUE.

The winter of 1871-1872 was a cold one, and in January, 1872, ice men were putting up river ice twenty-two inches thick, and clean. Late in February this ice broke and went out. Four hours after it had broken the river rose some seven feet. For several days the river was in an impassable condition. Stages containing the mail from Waterville, then the end of the Central Branch railroad, were unable to cross the Republican for a day or two. Mr. Lanoue was ready and within four days after the river opened had his ferry-running and was crossing teams and passengers safely. 107 Besides his ferry, saw mill and blacksmith shop, he was embarking in other lines. In March, following, he was completing a grist mill, and had formed a copartnership in the brewery business with a Mr. Geis of Concordia. He was also making preparations for the manufacture of 200,000 brick, and had contracted to erect a fine brick building on Main street for the Larocque Bros. 108 Lanoue's petition for a license for his ferry in 1872 was granted by the county board on


March 14. License fee was fixed at $25, and ferriage rates established as follows:

Team and wagon, 25 cents; single animal and wagon, 15 cents; horse and rider, 10 cents; foot passenger, 5 cents; loose horses and neat cattle, each 5 cents; sheep and swine, each 3 cents.

Said ferry company to have this list of rates of ferriage posted on each side of the river near the ferry. 109

Lanoue must have found that it paid to stand in with the county officials, for Deputy Sheriff Votaw informed the editor of the local paper "that Mr. Lanoue crosses all county officers at his ferry free, when traveling on county business." 110

An unfortunate accident occurred at this ferry late in 1872, which was recorded in the Empire of November 23, as follows:

The community was surprised and saddened, on Tuesday morning last, by the finding of the dead body of the ferryman at this place--a Swede, familiarly known as "Capt." Hohlenberg. The facts, as we learned them, seems to be, that after midnight the boat crossed over to the north shore with Mr. C. M. Albinson as a passenger--the ferryman being aboard, but unable, from intoxication, to work the boat, and obliging his passenger to work himself across. It seems that after landing Mr. H. must have gone to the edge of the boat, near the shore end, for some purpose, fallen overboard, and alone and helpless, miserably perished. He was found in the morning lying close to the boat; his feet touching it, and his head under the ice that had formed about him. The body was removed, and the coroner's jury, which met and examined it, returned a verdict of "Death by accidental drowning."

The "Captain," we understand, was at one time a Swedish soldier, and a member of the bodyguard of a Swedish king, and had seen a great deal of active service. He had four children, now in Sweden, to whom the news of his death in this far away land, will be a sad, sad message.

Lacking opportunity to consult county records or newspaper files< for 1873, 1874 and 1875, the history of the ferry for those years is not known, but it is probable it changed hands during this time.

Manna and Gerard were granted a ferry license by the county board on January 3, 1876, upon paying a license fee of $25. 111 As this license mentions no specific location, it may apply to Clyde, Concordia, Lake Sibley or any other locality on the river having a ferry. Late in June that year the Empire published the following:

On Sunday last, Esq. Eaves, who was at his ferry station, discovered a large black object moving in shallow water near the ferry. He went at once to reconnoiter and found a huge catfish, which had "foundered" and was unable to reach deep water again. He soon dispatched the fish with a pike pole, and had a 48-pounder for his pains. 112


Eighteen seventy-six was not overly damp the first half of the year and for a month or more Eaves' ferryboat had been obliged to "lay-up." However, there was easy crossing at the ford, a few rods below the ferry. 113 The month of August, following, more than made up for the lack of water. For some days Concordia received no mail from any river towns on account of the bridges being put out of commission. 114

While an attempt had been made to secure a wagon bridge in 1871, it was not until September 22, 1876, that the Concordia bridge was completed. 115 A celebration was held in honor of the event, and some speeches were made, the Concordia band being on hand to furnish music for the occasion. The home paper records that the celebration was not much of a success, for several reasons, one of which was a difficulty pending between the county boards and the contractors over the acceptance of the bridge and the final settlement. 116 A flood in the Republican in January, 1902, swept away the wagon bridge. The river at some points in the county was four miles wide. During the period of the flood the river cut a new channel about one-fourth of a mile north of the old one, rejoining the old course about one and one-half miles to the northeast. This left the Concordia electric light plant and mills without water power, and necessitated the building of a new bridge. 117

Prior to 1870 there were few roads in Cloud county, but with the tide of home seekers coming on during the next few years, the county commissioners were kept busy acting on petitions of homesteaders and others who asked for new roads to be opened up. In 1871 the legislature established a state road from Concordia to Cawker City. 118 This road late that year became the route for a stage line operated by the Southwestern Stage Company between Concordia and Beloit. 119

The town of Lake Sibley, located about two miles northwest of Concordia and about one-fourth of a mile north of the "lake," was the next ferry site upstream. The earliest mention of this crossing we have located is an item in the Concordia Empire of March 21, 1871, which stated that "A new ferry is being put across the Re-


publican two miles west of Lake Sibley, and will soon be in operation." Another item from the Empire of May 27, following, says: "Jenning's Ferry, two miles west of Sibley is now in good running condition. The boat is well made and competent men run it. Teams are charged 35 cents--other rates in proportion." The exact locations of Jenning's ferry and ford have not been found, but Edwards' Atlas of Cloud Countyshows a road leading west to the Republican from the vicinity of the town of Sibley, striking the stream at about two miles distant, either on sections 13 or 24, T. 5, R. 4W. The only other mention of this ferry we have located is the following from the Empire of July 8:

Rev. M. P. Jones, pastor of the First Presbyterian church of this place, was out in all the severe storm of Sunday, on an open ferry boat in the river. He had been to preach at Sibley, but got caught on his return. Being wet to the skin, three miles from home, and church about to commence, he was in a somewhat unpleasant predicament. But he was equal to the occasion. Proceeding to the house of a friend he procured a suit of clothes though many times too large, and preached as usual. Mr. Jones is from Philadelphia, and though unused to frontier life, makes a capital pioneer minister.

About the time this ferry was started another was projected, its backers apparently having an eye on the same location. This organization styled itself the Lake Sibley Ferry Company, was organized March 28, 1871, and was to be located at or near "Jenning's Ford." The principal place of business was at Lake Sibley. The incorporators included A. R. White, C. M. Alberson, S. R. Miller, J. D. Robertson and W. G. Hay, who were also selected as the first board of directors for three months. The organization was capitalized at $400, with shares of $5 each, and was chartered for 100 years, their charter being filed with the secretary of state April 7, 1871. 120

Andreas' History of Kansas, p. 1055, has the following reference to a ferry supposedly in this locality: "Messrs. E. B. Cook and W. Way had been with William Hemphill on the Republican river near the bend, assisting Judge Adams to build a ferry boat so as to make a more direct route between Atchison and Denver." The "bend" of the river mentioned must have been somewhere between Concordia and the south line of Republic county, as the parallel road ran westward close to the line of the first parallel. This road was laid out in 1859 under the supervision of Judge Franklin G. Adams, who served the Kansas State Historical Society for many years as its first secretary.


The earliest mention of a ferry in this vicinity appeared in the Freedom's Champion,Atchison, February 17, 1859, and stated that one was "to be started at the town of Courtland, 79 miles west of Atchison, on the Great Parallel Route to the Gold Mines." There was no town of Courtland in Republic county at that time. The present town, six miles west of the river, was not established until 1885.

Scandia, 16 miles above the Sibley ferry, was the next crossing place on the river. Late in the year 1870 arrangements were being made to establish a ferry at what was then called Scandinavia. The first mention we have found of this enterprise appeared in the Waterville Telegraph, of December 16, 1870, which stated:

The citizens of Scandinavia have closed a contract with A. B. Whiting for the construction of a ferry across the Republican there. The ferry will cost some $700, and is to be a substantial affair. The approaches are to be of stone and brush. N. O. Wilkie is superintending the construction of the ferry.

Another mention of this enterprise appeared in the Concordia Empireof March 25, 1871, and stated that "A first-class ferryboat is to be put in the Republican at New Scandinavia soon. A strong wire rope will be used."

Mr. P. T. Strom, of Republic, in a letter to the author, gives the following first-hand information regarding this ferry:

The first ferry was put in operation in the spring of 1871. I can't recall who was the first ferryman, or who took out the charter, but I suppose you will be able to find the names of the charter members on file at Topeka, for I believe anyone operating a ferry was required by law to take out a charter. After an ex-government scout by the name of Charlie Hogan took possession of the ferry, there were many free rides across the Republican for little me and some of the other boys who made their playground around the landing place of the ferry. There were several others who ran the ferry, among whom I think was N. 0. Wilkie and a Mr. Holmstrom. The ferry came to an untimely end in a heavy windstorm that filled her with water and sank her, and I suppose she is still there, buried in the sand. This ferry was located about on the section line on the north part of Scandia, directly west from the Swedish Methodist church. The banks of the river were low there and made a good crossing. If my memory serves me right, the ferry was followed by a pontoon bridge that served until a bridge was built. To operate the ferry a heavy steel cable was stretched tight from shore to shore. On the east bank of the river the cable was fastened to heavy anchor posts, well braced, while on the west side of the Republican was a grove of cottonwoods, one large tree of which answered the purpose of an anchor post. On this cable a pulley was slipped and a rope went from this pulley to each end of the ferry, and as the boat moved forward the pulley slipped along on the cable. Another rope was stretched from bank to bank, which was used to pull the ferryboat across the river. Sometimes, when the load was heavy, poles or what were called


hand spikes were used to push the old boat along. I do not remember how many years the ferryboat was in use, but I think it must have been about five or six years.

The Empire of March 2, 1872, contains a little additional information regarding this ferry, and says "The ferryboat . . . went down the river during the last rise, and the ferryboats at Sibley and Lawrenceburg shared the same fate. Mr. Lanoue hauled his boat a long way on land and managed to save it."

The Scandia ferryboat must have been recovered and again put in operation, for the Empire of April 20, following, stated that the boat stuck on a sand bar in the middle of the river during the time when ice was going out. In 1872 some of the residents of the community started agitation for a wagon bridge to span the river at this point. An election was held to vote on the proposition of issuing bonds for the purpose of bridge building, at which time the proposition was voted down by a majority of over 800. In some precincts every vote cast was against the bonds. 121 Late in the 1870's, however, a wagon bridge was built to replace the ferry, and served the needs of the community for several years. This structure was swept away on March 4, 1881, by high water, caused by the breaking of an ice gorge in the river. Two young men, M. C. Van Slyke and Tom Donahan, had occasion to cross the river at Scandia at this time, and set out in a row boat. They succeeded in getting within a short distance of the opposite shore when their boat sank. Tom being the best swimmer of the two reached the shore first, stripped off his coat and boots and plunged in and assisted Van Slyke to shore. It was a close call for both of them.

There was now a need for either bridge or ferry. Accordingly a public meeting was held at Scandia on March 4, 1881, and a fund of $300 was raised to build a free ferry to be used until a new bridge could be built, active steps having been taken for that purpose at this time.

In the meantime T. P. Smith applied to the county board for a ferry license at this point, and was granted the right to operate his ferry at the quarter section line running east and west through the center of S. 17, T. 3, R. 4 W., with exclusive privilege for a distance of two miles north and two miles south. His license was dated March 9, 1881, and was for one year, the county board granting this monopoly for a $10 fee, at the same time establishing the following rates of ferriage:


Crossing span of horses and wagon, with or without family, 50 cents; second crossing same day, free; man and horse, each crossing, 15 cents; footman, 10 cents, horses and cattle (corraled on boat) per head, 5 cents; sheep and hogs, per head, 2 1/2 cents; double rates of ferriage being allowed between the hours of 7 o'clock p.m., and 6 a.m., of next day. 122

This move on the part of Mr. Smith to thwart the free ferry project is best told in an account taken from the local paper of the week following:


On Friday last, immediately after the bridge was swept away, a meeting was called and steps taken towards making some arrangements for crossing the river. Finance and building committee were selected, a subscription raised to the amount of $235. On Saturday the subscription raised and the cash paid down to the amount of $350. Lumber was purchased, and the cable was ordered by telegraph and the building committee went to work and were straining every nerve to complete the same.

On Monday, while all this was going on, one of our worthy attorneys knowing what the citizens were doing, was secretly getting the commissioners together for the purpose of securing a license for one Thomas Smith, of Beaver township, also who had been in town for several days, and knew all the proceedings of our citizens, and who knowingly, in direct opposition to that which the citizens of this place were doing for a free ferry, went and succeeded by misrepresentations to the county commissioners, in procuring a license for Smith to run a toll ferry.

Another meeting was held Monday night when further steps were taken in the direction of a new bridge.

All passed along smoothly until Tuesday evening, when Mr. Smith returned from Belleville, went to our committee and proposed to give them but a few minutes to sell out to him all the material for which they had contracted and informed them that he had procured his license giving him control of the river for two miles north and two miles south of this place, and that no free ferry could run at this place. He then produced his license much to the surprise of our committee. This bold move on the part of Smith created considerable excitement on our streets.

Wednesday morning a number of our leading citizens repaired to Belleville, called a meeting of the board of county commissioners, laid down the true facts of the case, whereupon the board at once, seeing that they had been imposed upon, rescinded the action of their licensing a toll ferry, and pronounced it null and void.

The committee returned from Belleville, Wednesday evening, and gave in their report at the city hall during the evening, and read the rescinding order from the board of county commissioners, which was loudly applauded by all present.

The following resolution was passed by the assembly:

"Resolved, That we, as citizens of Scandia, extend to the people of Belleville our heartfelt thanks for their sympathies in the sad calamity that has


befallen us in the loss of our bridge, and for their assistance in unearthing and correcting a base wrong that had been perpetrated upon us."

During Wednesday afternoon Mr. Smith crossed the river and returned to his home, likely not desiring to hear that his little game of bluff had so suddenly met its death.

The free ferry is almost completed, and will be in running order in a few days. Those from the west side of the river need not be uneasy about getting across to town as a free skift will be run until the ferry is completed. 123

On the completion of the boat there were busy times for the next few days. There were not a few emigrants who struck the place after the bridge had gone out and before the ferry was completed. They had to wait until the boat was ready. 124 Shortly after the new enterprise began operations, it suffered a mishap which is described in the following:

Some little excitement was caused Wednesday evening [March 7] at the landing of the ferry. The two men who have been running it had been hurried so much by parties desiring to cross from each side that they had not taken time to pail the water out of the boat, and as it had been leaking some little, and in the second place, the landing had been constantly falling in and washing out until it was badly in need of repair. A team from White Rock had just been driven onto the ferry and being somewhat excited were very restless and kept running from one end of the boat to the other, and at last to the extreme west end when it began to sink, the wagon being empty left the full weight on that end. The boat had just been started from this shore but was drawn back, the team unhitched, but the neck yoke could not be loosened from the pole of the wagon which caused some little delay. By this time the boat

tipped and the horses were almost covered with water. The driver who was assisting in saving the team was compelled to leave them and swim out for shore; but the current was so swift as to make it almost impossible. He called for help and the skiff was sent to his assistance, but he reached the shore just as the boat got to him. Ed Dennison and Tom Denehy deserve great credit for the cool manner they displayed in the rescue of the man and team. 125

A few weeks later two young men from the west side of the river undertook to take charge of the ferry. Just what they did is not recorded in the local paper, which briefly chronicles that they found somebody to take charge of them, for they looked through calaboose windows for some time. 126

On March 22, 1881, a stock company was organized at Scandia for the purpose of building a bridge to span the river. They received their charter late in March or early in April. The corporation was capitalized for $10,000, with shares at $50 each. G. L. White was president; Isaac McClure, treasurer, and Ben F. Hershe, secre-


tary. One of the provisions of the charter was to sell to the county as soon as it saw fit to buy, by paying the cost of the property. 127

During this time the free ferry was operating, but evidently had not proved to be a very satisfactory solution of the problem. The Journalof April 16 said the people were becoming tired of spending from five to ten dollars a day to keep it in operation, and it was decided to turn it into a toll ferry. Tom Smith, who previously had secured the ferry charter, was notified to this effect, it being supposed he had the first right on a licensed ferry. Mr. Smith very shortly made his way to Belleville, where the county commissioners were in session and insisted on having his old license renewed, stating to them he did not wish a new license. This request was refused and Smith stepped out to get legal advice, during which time a committee from Scandia appeared in the county board's office, presented a petition signed by A. D. Wilson and thirty-one others, asking that a license be granted to the Scandia Toll Bridge Company to operate a bridge over the Republican river at the foot of Fourth street, in Scandia, and that a ferry license be granted to said company in connection with the bridge license to enable the company to maintain and operate a toll ferry at this point until the company could complete its bridge. The license also asked exclusive control for a distance of two miles up and a like distance downstream on either or both sides of the river from this point. The petition was granted and a license issued for one year upon payment of a $10 fee. Ferriage charges were the same as allowed in Smith's license. 128

Work on a new bridge was commenced early in the fall, but was not pushed very vigorously. Early in September the Journal stated that it would "be done before election, but in the meantime candidates have to pay toll or ford it." An item in the issue of December 3, following, stated that "the pile driver doing work on the bridge at this place, fell into the river last Sunday, the false work underneath giving away." The bridge was completed early the following year.

The next ferry upstream was about ten miles by the river and twelve by road, and was located about one-half mile northwest of the present Pawnee Park bridge. This was popularly known as the Dan Davis crossing. For the early history of this enterprise we are indebted to P. T. Strom, of Republic. He says that the ferry was built in the spring of 1873, three of the charter members being R. T.


Stanfield, Dan Davis and William Polley. There may have been other members, but he could not learn their names. As none of the company had any money to buy a cable, they wove their own by twisting thirteen strands of No. 9 smooth wire together, accomplishing this by the following method: A short oak plank, through which thirteen holes had been bored, was fastened to the rear wheel of a< wagon. The thirteen wires were securely fastened together at one end and the opposite ends were thrust through the holes in the oak plank and were fastened to the wheel. This gave them a crude gauge to get a uniform twist on the wire. A pan with a good fire in it was moved a little ahead of the twist so as to heat the wires, making a better cable, they thought. Ralph W. Polley, son of William Polley, operated the ferry at the Dan Davis crossing during 1873 and 1874, after which it was sold to a Mr. John Trimmer. Mr. Strom secured these details from Ralph Polley, who, so far as< he knows, is the only ex-ferryboat man alive in that section of the country. Mr. Polley said there were crooks even among those early-day prairie-schooner tourists. One of their favorite tricks was to present currency of large denomination in payment. Most of the time he could not make change, so had to let them go with the promise that they would be back this way next week. One day a traveler pulled a one hundred dollar bill on him, but Ralph happened to be prepared. When the traveler saw that the ferryman was going to change it, he said: "Wait a minute. I will see if my wife has any change." Ralph said, "No, I have so much in small bills I was hoping a man like you would come along." In passing over the big bill, the traveler said, "I've paid my way from Illinois with that bill."

Ferriage rates at this crossing were: "Team and wagon, 40 cents; horse and rider, 15 cents; cattle, 10 cents; footman, 10 cents." The bulkiest fare collected was two armfuls of jerked dried buffalo meat.

This ferry was operating as late as 1877, when R. Daniels and D. N. Davis presented a petition to the county board for a license at or near the mouth of White Rock creek. The petition was granted. 129

A bridge built in the late 1870's put an end to the ferries. This bridge was destroyed early in March, 1881, when an ice gorge eight miles long above Republic City broke. At this time there was another and larger ice gorge reported at Superior, Neb., said to be


worse than any other on the river. A new bridge was completed about the last of August, that year. 130

There was another ferry about six miles upstream from the Davis-Polley ferry. In a conversation with Mr. Strom, C. C. Hobson, an old settler of Big Bend township, stated that his father, John Hobson, and J. C. Price constructed and operated a ferryboat one-half mile south of the Kansas-Nebraska line in 1874 and 1875, after which it was moved two miles west into Jewell county where it was used until a bridge was built across the Republican at Hardy, Neb. This is the last and most northern ferrying place on the Republican river in Kansas.


1. Blackmar, History of Kansas, v. 2, p. 377.
2. Junction City Union, May 6, 1876.
3. Hulbert, Where Rolls the Oregon, map facing p. 7.
4. Kansas Historical Collections, v. 4, p. 405.
5. House Executive Document No. 29, 32d Cong., 1st sess., s. n. 737.
6. Kansas State Board of Agriculture, Biennial Report, 1877-1878, p. 171.
7. Water Supply and Irrigation Papers, No. 37, pp. 248, 249; Daily River Stages, v. 13, p. 33.
8. Daily River Stages, v. 9, pp. 33, 34.
9. Kansas Historical Collections, v. 9, p. 333.
10. Bird & Mickle, Map of Davis County, n. d.
11. Asaph Allen was a delegate to the Philadelphia convention in 1856, and in 1857 was chief clerk and secretary of the senate during the session of the Topeka legislature.
12. Junction City Union, June 19, 1866.
13. Greeley, An Overland Journey, p. 72.
14. Kansas Historical Collections, v. 7, pp. 381, 382.
15. Andreas, History of Kansas, pp. 1001, 1007.
16. Private Laws, Kansas, 1858, p. 47.
17. Charles F. Clarke is listed in the 1860 census of Davis county, p. 80, as a native of Ireland, 32 years of age, owner of real estate valued at $4,000, and personal property, $4,000. His wife, Bridget, was born in Ireland. The three children, minors, were born in Kansas and Nebraska.
18. Davis county, "Commissioners' Journal," Book 1, p. 79.
19. Senate Journal, 1864, pp. 378, 379, 394.
20. Corporations, v. 1, p. 14, in the Kansas State Historical Society's archives.
21. U. S. Stat. at Large, 39th Cong., 2d sess., pp. 573, 574.
22. Laws, Kansas, 1867, pp. 58, 59.
23. Andreas, History of Kansas, p. 1007.
24. Governor's correspondence, 1873, "Letters Received," in Archives division, Historical Society.
25. Ibid., "Impression Book No. 2," p. 11.
26. Ibid., 1873, "Letters Received."
27. Ibid., "Impression Book No. 2," pp. 15-18.
28. Ibid., pp. 19, 20.
29. Ibid., "Letters Received," 1873, Archives division.
30. Ibid., 1873, 1874, "Impression Book No. 2," pp. 178, 179.
31. Corporations, v. 1, p. 370.
32. Road shown on original land surveys, state auditor's office, Topeka; Bird & Mickle, Map of Davis County, Kansas, issued during the 1880's.
33. Laws, Kansas, 1857, p. 170.
34. Ibid.
35. Junction City Union, April 2, 1864.
36. "Map of Kansas," ordered by Maj. Gen. J. M. Schofield, and drawn by Ado Hunnius, 1870.
37. Andreas, History of Kansas, p. 1007.
38. Ibid., p. 1002; Junction City Union, 1862, advertisements of Stage Co.
39. Root and Connelley, Overland Stage to California, p. 379; Andreas, History of Kansas, p. 1002.
40. Davis county, "Commissioners' Journal," v. 2, p. 148.
41. Corporations, v. 1, p. 284.
42. Ibid., v. 1, p. 366.
43. Private Laws, Kansas, 1859, p. 117.
44. Corporations, v. 2, p. 345.
45. Kansas Historical Collections, v. 10, p. 496.
46. Clay County, "Commissioners' Journal," Book A, pp. 162, 163.
47. Ibid., Book 1, pp. 212, 213.
48. Ibid., Book 1, p. 262; Book 2, p. 49.
49. Ibid., Book 2, p. 71.
50. Ibid., Book 2, pp. 70, 71.
51. Ibid., Book 2, p. 71.
52. Ibid., Book 2, p. 243.
53. Corporations, v. 8, p. 52.
54. Clay county, "Commissioners' Journal," Book 2, p. 373.
55. Ibid., Book A, p. 15; The Dispatch, Clay Center, January 29, 1914.
56. Clay county, "Commissioners' Journal," Book 1, p. 163.
57. Ibid., Book 1, pp. 161, 162.
58. Ibid., Book A, p. 158.
59. Ibid., Book 2, p. 271; Book 3, p. 31.
60. Ibid., Book 2, p. 251.
61. Bird & Mickle, Historical Plat Book of Clay County, p. 51.
62. Ibid., p. 51.
63. Clay county, "Commissioners' Journal," Book 1, p. 187.
64. Ibid., Book 1, p. 278.
65. Ibid., Book 2, p. 102.
66. Ibid., Book 2, p. 102.
67. Ibid., Book 2, p. 266.
68. Ibid., Book 3, pp. 46, 74.
69. Ibid., Book 1, p. 115.
70. Ibid., Book 1, p. 190.
71. Ibid., Book 2, p. 47.
72. Ibid., Book 2, pp. 101, 173, 239, 363; Book 3, p. 74.
73. Ibid., Book 3, p. 354.
74. Statement of George P. Lawson, Clay Center, to author.
75. Clay County, “Commissioners' Journal,” Book 2, pp. 169, 266.
76. Ibid., Book 2, p. 155.
77. Ibid., Book 2, p. 362.
78. Ibid., Book 2, p. 441.
79. Corporations, v. 9, pp. 272, 273.
80. Clay county, "Commissioners' Journal," Book 2, p. 355.
81. Ibid., Book 3, p. 74.
82. Concordia Empire, November 25, 1871.
83. Republican Valley Empire, Clyde, September 20, 1870.
84. Corporations, v. 3, p. 264.
85. Secretary of State, "Letters Received," 1872, in Archives division, Kansas State Historical Society.
86. Cloud county, commissioners' proceedings, in the Concordia Empire, March 23, 1872.
87. Concordia Empire, April 27, 1877.
88. Ibid., January 4, 1878.
89. Edwards' Atlas of Cloud County, Kansas, p. 9.
90. Concordia Empire, March 25, 1871, October 19, 1877.
91. Laws, Kansas, 1861, p. 252.
92. Cloud county, commissioners' proceedings, in the Concordia Empire, April 13, 1872.
93. Concordia Empire, April 27, 1872.
94. Ibid.
95. Ibid., May 25, 1872.
96. Ibid., October 26, 1872.
97. Ibid., October 13, 1876.
98. Ibid., April 27, 1877.
99. Ibid., April 6, 1872.
100. Ibid., April 20, 1872.
101. Corporations, v. 3, p. 220.
102. Ibid., v. 4, p. 56.
103. Cloud county, commissioners' proceedings, in the Concordia Empire, June 13, 1872.
104. Concordia Empire, March 18, 1871.
105. Ibid., August 18, 1871.
106. Ibid., September 23, November 21, 1871.
107. Ibid., January 13, February 24, 1872.
108. Ibid., March 23, 1872.
109. Ibid., March 23, 1872.
110. Ibid., May 11, 1872.
111. Ibid., January 7, 1876.
112. Ibid., June 30, 1876.
113. Ibid., June 30, 1876.
114. Ibid., August 25, 1876.
115. Ibid., September 22, 1876.
116. Ibid., October 6, 1876.
117. Hollibaugh, History of Cloud County, pp. 146, 177.
118. Laws, Kansas, 1871, p. 298. Original plat of this road is in the Archives division of the Kansas 'State Historical Society.
119. Concordia Empire, December 16, 1871.
120. Corporations, v. 1, p. 238.
121. Concordia Empire, July 27, 1872.
122. Republic county, commissioners' proceedings of March 8, 1881, in The Journal, Scandia, March 26, 1881.
123. Scandia Journal, March 12, 1881.
124. Ibid., March 12, 1881.
125. Ibid., March 26, 1881.
126. Ibid., April 16, 1881.
127. Ibid., April 2, 1881.
128. Ibid., April 16, 30, 1881.
129. Republic county, commissioners' proceedings, July 2, 1877, in the Belleville Telescope July 12, 1877.
130. Scandia Journal, March 5, September 3, 1881.