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The Founding of Osborne City by the Pennsylvania Dutch Colony

The Kansas Heritage server would like to thank Dave Leebrick for contributing this material.

From the "Osborne County Farmer" May 19, 1876.

The Pennsylvania, or "Dutch Colony"

The Pennsylvania colony, which received its local name of "Dutch Colony" in Osborne county, comprised individuals from Lancaster and Berks counties, Pennsylvania, those from the former, led by Col. W. L. Bear, and those of the latter by Maj. H. D. Markley. It is a fact which may be received with satisfaction, that this colony, which acted so prominent a part of the county's history, was organized and conducted upon purely republican principles, every member having a voice in all its actions and proceedings. The following persons composed the original number who took claims and settled in and around the sections located for the town-site. Isaac N. Bair, John A. Boring, Col W. L. Bear, Benj. Baker, James Davidson and son, Jacob Eaby, Emanuel Smith, Emanuel Elmer, Hiram E. Fraley, John Fuller, Alfred N. Fritchey, E. B. Fry, Jacob Getz, F. R. Gruger, J. F. Goodhart, Milton Haffeditz, Henry H. Harp, Geo. W. Kendig, William J. Kendig, Isaac L. Kendig, Geo. Krippner, Henry Landis, John P. Milley, Maj. H. D. Markley, Joseph N. Morrow, William S. Neff, Richard S. Ruth, William Rader, John Sherley, Joseph Sweigart, God. E. Spotz, Dr. J. P. Moore, David Tindal, James Tindal, Henry Waters and son, William Young, Mrs. Ruth and two children, and two minors. Of the above number, twenty-two had families, which did not join the colony, however, until September following. Nearly every member could speak the German language, hence their title "Dutch Colony," although but one was of foreign birth, and none spoke Dutch.

The colony reached Waterville, on Friday, April 14, 1871, in the midst of one of Kansas' noted waterfalls, which at once initiated it in that respect. On the following morning it organized, by the election of Col. Bear as president, Maj. Markley, treasurer, and Dr. J. P. Moore, secretary. Committees were appointed to purchase teams and provisions for the party. An assessment of twenty-five dollars upon each member was agreed upon. This proceeding developed the fact that a number of the company started with the colony only to see the country upon cheap railroad fare, and six of them withdrew. One four mule team, and two two mule teams were purchased, with provisions for three weeks. The principal part of the luggage was stored, and left in charge of Mr. Ruth. On Monday, April 17,the company took up its line of march westward over the prairies. They were all in high glee, and made quite a formidable array, with their train, and the number of armed men. Prairie chickens, and other winged game fared roughly during the eleven miles, their first day's march. On the next two days, they encountered the noted high winds, and were compelled to halt at Clyde for several days. On Monday, 24th, the colony reached Concordia, the location of the United States land office. Several of the party having preceded the colony, and through the courtesy of the officers, obtained all the information they wanted.

They were ready to move the following morning. Before starting, however, it was found that several of the number became frightened at the Indian stories they heard, and would go no further. Their case was speedily disposed of, and a proportion of the money they had contributed refunded to them, and they were left to return, which they did, as was ascertained from the doleful accounts they gave to their friends, of Kansas. J. Britt, Esq., then probate judge of Mitchell county, agreed to accompany the colony through several counties, to show them the best portion, as he was well acquainted throughout this region. He faithfully carried out his engagement, until the colony located, when he was voted a new saddle, as an appreciation for his services, he having refused pay therefore. On April 27, the colony reached Beloit. Here they were offered a town lot each, and good prairie claims if they would locate at that place. They, however, had their minds fixed upon having some timber claims,and continued their march until the next day, when they crossed the north fork, at Wagonda and halted on the south fork, on what is now Mr. Berger's claim, thus establishing their footing in Osborne county, on the 28th day of April, 1871.

The morning of the following day was spent in examining the beautiful claims on the south side of the river, our excellent citizen and old settler Mr. Collins giving his advice and services. In the afternoon, they proceeded up the river and encamped on Mr. Bennett's place. They remained encamped during Sunday. About four o'clock on Monday morning a heavy rain storm came up, and in a short time the ground was flooded to a depth of from four to six inches. A correspondent writing home said: "The water washed us out, and drenched us through. For two hours we had to hold up the tent poles, to prevent the tent from falling upon us, but it was of no avail, as having camped on the low prairie by the river, we found ourselves almost knee-deep in the middle of a lake, with everything floating around us. Wet to the skin and shivering with cold, as soon as a fire could be made of the material gathered, each began to rally the other upon the ludicrous figure he cut under the circumstances, until the mishap was forgotten, and after a cup of good coffee, we left camp as though nothing had happened".

At a meeting held before starting, it was agreed that the land just passed, was all they could wish for and they therefore retraced their steps, and located their camp on the river, one and a half miles east of the present town-site, with a view of selecting claims and locating permanently. At this time, the only claims known to have been taken in the immediate vicinity, were Mrs. Lever's, Messrs. King, Mannings, Crampton, Gates, Kaser,and one other south of the latter. On the same day, Monday, May 1, Judge Britt, Col. Bear, and several others, with two wagons laden with poles, proceeded over the land then vacant, and laid the foundation for the town-site, and about forty claims, occupying part of the following day, to complete the work. It was remarkable to see with what accuracy Mr. Britt could find the respective corner stones, by taking the proper direction, and counting the steps of his pony, with which he had done a great deal of work of that kind. After the claims were located, they were placed in groups of four upon a slip of paper, each group being in a square, or joining each other, and put into a hat. This done, the four drew among themselves, for the claim out of those they had drawn. This plan brought those who were associates together and proved satisfactory, as there were but few instances of change after the drawing, although there were many other vacant claims. It also enabled them to work together, and assist each other, and also for mutual protection, as there was then still some apprehensions from attack by the Indians. There was also an agreement that those having prairie claims should have the privilege of taking as much timber from timber claims located, as would be needed for a log house, and for fuel for one year. Those desiring stone to have the same privilege from others.

On Wednesday, May 3, Judge Britt took a memorandum of the claims to be filed upon and homesteaded, and took them to the land office, thus saving the trip and expense to the members. On the same day, Maj. Markley started to Waterville with the teams to bring the baggage,and to purchase farming implements, seed of corn and potatoes, and provisions. Col. Bear, writing to his friends about that time says: "This county is not yet organized, and our colony will about give them a sufficient number to do so. We had several emigrants traveling with us for a week past to locate in our vicinity. The men are already at work cutting timber, and preparing to build a stockade, as a general headquarters, and protection against the Indians if necessary. We have selected a town-site which cannot fail to give the county seat, as it commands the favor of most of the settlers of this section." In a letter dated May 6, he writes: "I had to go to Cawker City, to lay in some provisions. The distance is twelve miles, over open prairie, without a settlement between. I traveled alone on an Indian pony. When I reached the place I failed to find the person whom I expected, and who was to take my purchases to camp. Fortunately, a settler came along, who lived beyond our camp, with fresh and dried buffalo beef, which he had lately secured.

I bought 200 lbs fresh, and 50 lbs dried, and he agreed to take it back for me, and also the other things I bought. It was nearly six o'clock, p.m. when he was ready to start, and we put off together, to make the camp during the night. I had, therefore, the benefit of a prairie sunset and a prairie moon- rising--both grand sights. It was a long distance, and as Mr. G. C. Tilden had a loaded wagon, the progress was slow. We jogged along and as there are few landmarks on the prairie roads, we failed to find the point to turn in to camp, and were at sea on the prairie. My comrade being an old hand on the plains gave one of his peculiar western yells, which brought an answer, when the following dialog took place. "What do you want?" Our reply. "Where is the camp?" "What camp?" "Colony camp." "One mile and a half east." It proved to be Mr. King's voice across the river. Thus directed we turned, and about twelve o'clock midnight, tired,and glad to escape a longer tramp, reached camp" On the 12th of May, the stockade and log house erected inside, being nearly completed, and having found water in the well being dug, the colony left their camp on the river bank, and arranged their tents inside of the stockade. On the 16th, the part returned from Waterville with the teams and with plows, provisions, etc.

It was then agreed that each member should have the use of the teams and plows for two acres of breaking, and the turns secured by lot. This was carried out, and those who could afford it, engaged other parties to break for them in the mean time. Until this time, the provisions were used in common, but deeming it best, Mr. Gruger was appointed commissary, and dealt out the supplies upon the army plan. Every morning parties of three and four would start out to their claims for work, taking with them their fire-arms as a precaution against Indians and for use, if game should come in their way. Buffalo frequently approached the settlement in small numbers. At this time, also, in accordance with what they thought proper, to secure their rights to the town-site, they organized as a town company, and adopted a charter, naming their place "Osborne City," and forwarded it to the Secretary of State. The matter of the exact location of the town-site was withheld from those not connected with the colony, under the apprehension that it might be jumped by some professional in that line. This feeling was strengthened by several persons "interviewing" some of the members and pressing for the information. The site was originally secured by a filing in the name of W. L. Bear, as president of the town company, and in accordance with the advice given by Mr. Cutter of the land office. It was, however, afterwards changed and secured as a town-site by the probate judge, in accordance with ____. The colony was for a long time ___ the imputation of being ____ for the premature organization of the county. The historian, ____ Reasoner, will correct that error. ____colony knew nothing of the ____proceedings of its organization ___ the time was appointed to ____return of the canvassers, _____appointed,who were to report ___day, June 3rd, 1871,at a meeting held at Mr. Reasoner's store ___. On the appointed day, every member of the colony ___. It was nearly 7 o'clock p.m. ___the canvassers made their report ____exhibited a sufficient number of inhabitants (over 700) under the ___ justify further proceedings, ____colony had no other object than to secure the temporary county seat ___ was no opposition_____.

Continued in the June 9,1876 issue of the "Osborne County Farmer".

Continuing the history of the colony from June 3rd, 1871, the day of election of temporary county officers, and voting Osborne City, as the temporary county seat, we would state that on that day the first house erected on the town-site was about finished. It was a small cottonwood structure, and used as a place of business by Maj. H. D. Markley and I. N. Bair. On June 4th, a petition was forwarded to the postmaster general, asking for the appointment of a post office, with Maj. Markley as postmaster, which was in due time returned and allowed, except as to the name of the office. There being a post office in the state named Osborne, the name of Penn was substituted, by which it was known, until sometime after, when the first named office was discontinued, and the name of Osborne, by application, was allowed.

On the 12th, the smithshop now occupied by Mr. Hatch was put up, with Jos. N. Morrow, as colony smith. It was resolved by the colony to have a celebration on the 4th of July. A correspondent writing on the day following, gives the following account of the event: "On the third of July, a year ago, the Indians made a raid through this section, and made an attach on Bullock"s ranch, but were repulsed by the Bullock brothers, and a few who had taken refuge in their stockade. On the day following they made their appearance along the north fork of the Solomon river, and in the vicinity of Cawker City, fifteen miles east of this place, running off a number of horses belonging to the settlers. One year ago, as was ascertained from a settler, who was among the first in this locality, not a female resided in the county, and not a dozen men could be collected for mutual protection against the Indians. By an assessment recently taken to ascertain whether a sufficient number of inhabitants resided in the county to justify its organization, it was found to contain a population of nearly nine hundred. Our colony alone will number over one hundred.

The colony a few weeks before the 4th of July, resolved to celebrate the national anniversary day, and placed the arrangements in the hands of Dr. J. P. Moore, A. N. Fritchey, and H. E. Frailich,as the committee, who did their best with the limited facilities at hand, to get up a creditable affair. Notice was sent, as opportunity offered, to the settlers in the valley, and as all the members are living as bachelors, they were compelled to state that it would partake of the nature of a basket picnic. Everything was duly prepared on the morning of the glorious fourth--platform for speakers and vocalists, (no brass band), and benches for the audience in a beautiful grove near the city. Between nine and ten o'clock a.m. four-horse wagons, two horse wagons, and ox teams, loaded with old and young pioneers, from the greyhaired sire to the infant, and horsemen and footmen, could be seen over the prairie, wending their way to the place of meeting. Mutual and agreeable surprise was evident upon the face of every one, to find so many assembled in that beautiful grove. One lady declared she had seen but two ladies since she came into the valley. Between sixty and seventy men, nineteen ladies, and thirty-one children were present on that happy occasion. Few of those had ever seen each other before, but it was not long until the heartiest cordiality prevailed; and when the contents of the baskets were displayed, it was plain that if Kansas is chargeable with drying out, it is not likely to be starved out. Every thing that could be though of at a picnic in the east, was placed before the sharpened appetites on this occasion, and no one was allowed to go unsatisfied. After full justice had been done, and the fragments taken up, the assembly was called to order by Dr. Moore, chairman of the committee of arrangements, and Mr. C. Cunningham was called upon to preside, with C. W. Crampton of Covert creek, as vice president, and Mr. F. Thompson, secretary. Addresses were made by Col W. L. Bear, Mr. Henry Jemison, Maj. H. D. Markley and Dr. Moore. Several national hymns were sung by gentlemen, principally members of the colony. Through the thoughtfulness of Mr. John Fuller, a member of the colony, Col. Bear was permitted to address the children in a short speech, and present to each one a subject, in the shape of a quantity of candy which they heartily accepted, and which he thought they understood better than questions of constitution, etc. Several hours were spent by the young, and not a few of the older folks, in dancing, when the assembly dispersed in time for all to get home before dark, every one giving the heartiest assurances of having enjoyed themselves, and expressing themselves determined, if they live, to be on hand on the return of another fourth. The occasion under the circumstances, was one of peculiar interest, and to be held in remembrance by those who participated. One year ago the savages held sway here. Yesterday, the white man held possession; and if it had been disputed by the red man, he would have found a stern resistance. It is yet to be added, that few assemblies anywhere exhibited more general intelligence than was found in the assembly which met yesterday to celebrate their first national holiday in this their new home".

The colony at this time owned eight mules, three wagons, four ploughs, one full set of blacksmith tools, shovels, picks, spades, axes etc, and the assessments thus far made upon each for the purchase of the foregoing property, and for provisions, seed and feed, was as follows: 1st $25; 2nd $15, 3rd $10; 4th $20; 5th $2.50, 6th $3, making the total amount $75.50--adding through ticket from Philadelphia to Waterville, Kansas $17, amounted only to $92.50. More than thirty dollarswas returned to each member from the proceeds of the sale of the colony property, which took place on Saturday, July 15th, 1871, Jos. N. Morrow acting as auctioneer. Few who were present, will forget the first auction in the city of Osborne, with but one structure to mark its location. We recall the fact of meeting Mr. Charles Herzog, who is now one of our established business men, for the first time.

On the day before the sale Mr. William Rader went east, to transact some business, and arranged for the transportation of the members' families. They left Lancaster, Pa., on the 5th of September, 1871, some landing at Waterville, and others at Russel station. On the 14th most of the families reached Osborne. Mr. Rader and Col. Bear having the only private residences on the townsite, were therefore the first residents with their families. On the Sabbath after their arrival, the first Sunday school was started in Col. Bear's house. There were present nine adults, and eleven children. The school continued without interruption until the present day, Col. Bear acting superintendent until his departure from the county in July, 1875.

On Tuesday, September 26th, 1871,the temporary county commissioners met for the first time, to organize. On the following day ex-Senator Ross appeared before the board of commissioners, and presented the interests of the Lawrence and Solomon Valley rail road, and the commissioners agreed to put the question to the people, to vote bonds to the amount of $100,000. The commissioners were in session six days. On the last day of their meeting, the town company, made the county a formal offer of one square of the town-site for public buildings, and one lot in each square, to be sold at their option for the payment of the debt they should incur in the erection of said buildings. At a meeting of the town company. Oct 7, it was agreed to increase the number of shareholders, and to draw lots, for the lots on Penn street. The drawing was had, but the claim to the lots drawn, was never pressed. On the 14th of October, the charter for the town-site of Fritchey City, was executed, but it never enlarged its borders. Politics becoming active about this time, the first county convention was held in Osborne City, on Saturday, Oct 28, 1871, in the house built by J. Joy, Esq and now owned by Mr. Closson. About one hundred persons were present, with J. T. Saxton, as president and Dr. J. P. Moore, secretary. State and county officers were nominated. The convention was one of interest, showing a degree of intelligence hardly expected in such a new country. Not having the names of the nominees at hand, we will leave that to some one who has access to the records. Col. Bear, who was acting as president of the town company, finding some disaffection towards him among the members, resigned his position November 25th, and Dr. Moore was elected to fill the place, with Maj. Markley as treasurer. On the 5th of December 1871, the members of the colony were called upon for the first time to consign to its last resting place the remains of one of their number. Mr. Wm. Rader, brought with him several of his nephews from the east, one of them Johnny Mumma, aged eleven years, after a short illness gave up his young life. There being no clergyman at hand, the funeral services were conducted by Col. Bear, who used the Moravian burial service on the occasion. The colony, as such, ceased its existence when the sale of their property was effected in July, 1871, and their interested had by this time become so fully identified with those who settled around them, that their history afterwards belonged to, and is part of the history of the county.


Waterville, the site of the colony's organizing, is in Marshall county just about due north of Manhattan, Kansas. It is located on the Little Blue River. Perhaps that was the source of the waterfalls referred to.

Clyde, where they were delayed due to high winds, is in Cloud county, about 35 miles W-SW of Waterville.

Concordia, site of the land office, is also in Cloud county. It's about 15 miles on west of Clyde and required the colony to cross the Republican River.

Beloit is in Mitchell county, about 25 miles "as the crow flies" W-SW of Concordia. Beloit is on the northern shore of the Solomon River.

The Solomon forks within what is now Glen Elder Resevoir, and the colony corssed the north fork stopping at Wagonda. I can find no source which gives the location of Wagonda, although it can be estimated from the fact that is was onthe south fork of the Solomon just inside the Osborne county line. Records show that a Mr. Berges had homesteaded in Section 16 of that township (Corinth) about two miles north of the sourth fork and three miles into the county. Perhaps this was the site.

Mr. Bennet's claim, where the colony got flooded overnight, was most likely in Section23 of Range 13 in Penn township. This is about 1/2 mile north of the Solomon River.

Using Mildred Minear's book "Original Land Owners of Osborne County, Kansas", one can determine that most of the colony's land claims were in the East Central part of the county.

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