CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY AND SEDAN, KANSAS
(The following article was done by Mary Shade October, 1969, Sedan, Ks.)
County was formerly, in common with Elk County, included in the county of Howard. By an act of the Legislature, Southern Kansas
known as Howard county, became divided into two equal parts, and called Elk and Chautauqua counties, the letter comprising
the south half of old Howard county.
Chautauqua county, therefore lines in the most southerly tier of counties
in the state, the north line of the Indian Territory forming its southern boundary, while on the east lines the county of
Montgomery, Elk on the north and Cowley county on the west. The county is 21 miles from north to south and 31 miles from east
to west; having an area of 651 square miles, or 416,640 acres.
The first settler that located
in what is now Chautauqua county was Richard Slater, who came in July 1868, and settled on a claim in Salt Creek Valley, in
Salt Creek Township, in the northeast corner of the county. The land, however was not open to settlement at the time, being
owned by the Big and Little Osage Indians, from whom it was obtained by the Government under treaty made with the Indians
while holding their grand council on the Verdigris River 1870.
In early July 1869, William Bowcher settled in Lafayette
Township, and in the fall of the same year settlement was first made in Harrison Township by O. Hanson; in the Sedan Township
by H. S. Halladay; Caneyville Township by Alexander Shawver; in Summit Township by George M. Ross; and in Belleville Township
by John W. Norris and John Sutton.
O. Hanson, the first settler to enter what is now Sedan Township, having limited
means and no vehicle, was compelled to transport his worldly goods to his place of settlement on a boat. The population of
the county, given for various periods shows more plainly the rate of increase and degrees of development of the county in
point of settlement.
In 1870 the population of Howard county numbered 2, 794, and in 1875, just prior to the division
of the county, it was 13, 632. Just following the creation of Chautauqua county in 1875, its population was 7, 417 and in
1878 it was 9, 246, or an increase in three years of 1, 291. In 1882 the population of the county numbered about 12,000.
The first term of the Eleventh Judicial District Court convened at Belleville, Howard county, May 15, 1871; W. P.
Campbell, judge and Daniel Carr acting as Clerk. The first case docketed for hearing was that of the State of Kansas ex rel,
against Daniel Carr and others. It was mandamus case to compel the county officers to remove from Elk Falls to Peru. On the
4th day of June 1870, M. Smith, probate judge of Howard County, issued the first marriage license to J. M. Cole and Margaret
J. Comer, and on the next day united them in legal bonds of matrimony.
The first marriage in Salt Creek Township
was that of Ebenezer Horton and Martha Sparks, February 14, 1869; in Caneyville, John C. Johnson and Helen Cooley, July 2
1871; in Harrison Township Hiram Walker and Mary Conklin March 1871; in Sedan Township J. M. Culver and C. Helms, February
The first birth in Harrison Township was thatof Grundy White, March 9, 1870; in Salt Creek Township,
Abigail Slater, February 20, 1869; in Lafayette Township, Robert Narrow, July 5, 1870.
The only democrats that
have been elected to office of importance on a square political fight were Col. Conaldson, county attorney; Eli Titus, sheriff
and E. S. Commings, representative.
L. F. Getmam established the first store in the county at Elgin, and John lee,
William Gamble and Beadle Welsh started the first saw mill at the same palce, and which they brought from Wisconsin in 1870.
It was at this place that the first preaching in the county was held by Rev. S. Records in the first schoolhouse
that was erected, and W. C. Watkins was the first class leader. Watkins, it is claimed by some, was the first settler of the
Organization and Other County Matters
The incorporation of Chautauqua county was provided for in the
act under which its formation took place, taking effect June 1, 1875.