Kansas History and Heritage Project-Wabaunsee County History

Wabaunsee County History


From "A New Centennial History of Kansas," Charles Tuttle, 1876:

Wabaunsee County was organized in 1859, and named after a war chief of the Pottawatomies. The population, in 1875, was 4,648, of which number, males register 2,494. Farming employs 82 per cent, of the settlers, and mines and manufactures, 7 per cent. Alma, the county seat, is 83 miles west from Topeka and Qo miles west of Lawrence, at the crossing of the Manhattan, Alma and Burlingame, and the Mill Creek Yalley and Council Grove railroads. The town has several stores, wagon and other factories, a flouring mill and a saw mill with water power. The town is well situated for water power, being at the junction of four creeks. Geological experts say that coal will be found at this point at a depth of from 350 to 400 feet, and borings are being made in that interest. The town increases very rapidly and is prosperous. One excellent weekly paper, the News, is published at Alma; and many important mail routes converge at that point. The borings for coal have descended 500 feet, but no paying veins were found, possibly from some fault in the earth's crust, not in the geological prospects. There is coal under about one-fourth of the area of the county at an average of fifteen feet deep, cropping out in the ravines at many places ; but the quality is inferior, and the seams about fourteen inches thick. Some of the veins have been mined and abandoned because the quantity and quality would not pay for labor and outlay. Blue and white limestone of excellent quality are found in every township, and fire clay has been found in many places at various depths, from the surface or near it to 870 feet below. An artesian well bore was made at Alma, and at a depth of 174 feet very strong salt brine was discovered; the bore was continued, and at 378 feet the brine was much stronger; when the bore ceased, at 585 feet, the water was impregnated with chloride of sodium almost equal in strength to that of the Syracuse salt works, and there were hardly any impurities to be removed. The product of the well is now being prepared for the market by natural evaporation as well as by artificial heat. The face of the country gives only 4 per cent, of forest, 15 per cent, of bottom land, and is very fertile. The principal streams are Mission, Dragoon, Rock and Mill creeks; the last named creek is 36 miles long, draining into the Kansas river. Springs are rare, but excellent when they occur, and good wells range from 20 to 50 feet. There are no railroads in the county. Water powers are good, but not utilized for want of capital. The manufactures of the county include, besides the works at Alma, a water power saw mill at Maple Hill; a cheese factoiy at Wabaunsee; two cheese factories and a knitted goods factory at Mission Creek; and steam saw mills at Washington and Berlina townships. There are two banks at Alma. There are 43 school houses valued at $41,279, and 53 school districts. Three church edifices have been erected at a cost of $4,800. Two townships report libraries to the number of 1,730 volumes. One thousand persons were in want of food, and 575 had not sufficient clothing for winter in consequence of the locust visitation of 1874-5; but the crops of the latter year came near making good all deficiencies.





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This website created July 10, 2011 by Sheryl McClure.
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