Several years ago, as is the case now, several columnists had columns in the Leavenworth Times.
Several years ago, as is the case now, several columnists had columns in the Leavenworth Times. One such lady was Esther Norman who wrote "Folks in Our Town." Esther was an animal lover, and was opposed to fluoride in water. Never the less, she wrote an interesting column, and was a family friend.
One such column was recently loaned to me, by my classmate Henry "Bill" Johnson. The column is undated, but was probably around the 1960s. Esther writes about "Early History of Leavenworth City and County" was written by H. Miles Moore, and published in 1905 by the Samuel Dodsworth Book Company, Leavenworth, Kan.
H. Miles Moore, the author, was an attorney, and took much of the material from his daily diary, which he kept from 1852 to 1880, according to this article.
Some of the chapters are titled, "Kansas Immigration; Rapid Settlement of Leavenworth; The first church service; Governor Reeder's Arrival; First day sale of public lots; Highest prices that day; First convention to nominate delegates to Congress; First death of a resident; Great fire in Weston; First census in Kansasl Rapid increase in wealth and population, 1855; First election of city officers. Location of certain buildings."
Many chapters are devoted to banks, courts, churches, hotels and boarding houses, newspapers, drug stores, breweries, flour and other mills schools, theaters, public halls and beer gardens, coal mines, manufactures, railroads, early ministers and priests, and the Fort Leavenworth Military reservation.
"In the fall of 1857, the population of Leavenworth had reached 5,000. No other city in the world except San Francisco ever equaled the rapidy of its growth. In July 1858 the largest portion of the business district was destroyed by fire and in most instances, elegant brick flocks replaced the cottonwood frames."
The author related how on the 30th of May, 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska bill had passed and was signed by President Pierce. The honorable Davis R. Atchison, one of the U.S. senators from Missouri, telegraphed the news and said to friends in Weston: "Go over and take possession of the good land, it is yours." The news spread like wildfire, and people went on foot, on horseback, muleback and in wagons and soon overran the best land for 40 or 50 miles west of the Missouri River. In less than a week almost every section of land was claimed by squatters. The town of Leavenworth was laid out by a group of men, and the agreement was prepared by the author in his law office at Weston.
Described also were eight flour mills, the largest of which was the New Era Mills, owned by the Kelly and Lysle Milling Co. There was a woolen mill and a carpet mill. The author went into much detail to names and locations of stores, schools, and churches, He also gave names of persons who had to do with early life here. Moore's book has as one of the photographs and illustrations a drawing of a Majors, Russell and Wadell Oxen train of covered wagons in Salt Creek Valley in 1855. There are several chapters listing the first members of the first bar association here.
The census of 1858 showed during the fall of 1858 and spring of 1859 the principal business streets of the city were graded and sidewalks laid, streets curbed, guttered and macadamized. The city graded and paved the levee at a cost of $20,000. The gas works was constructed and in the spring of 1859, Jones, Russell and company started the Pikes Peak Express from Leavenworth.
Coaches left daily carrying mail to Colorado and Salt Lake. In 1859 the population was 15,000 and at the close of the war in 1865, Leavenworth had 20,000 and continued to grow until 1870.
The Leavenworth County Museum at 1128 5th Avenue has several copies of the reprint of this book for sale @$49.98 plus tax.
Annie Johnston is a Leavenworth resident and wife of the late J.H. Johnston III, former Times publisher.