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Kansas Collection Books

Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska
Produced by Diana Busing.

Part 7


A tract of about twelve acres in the northern part of Clark's eighty has been laid off and platted as "Clark's Square." School Creek makes a horseshoe bend in passing through this square, which is heavily timbered and deeply shaded with large rock elms.


The following are the names of those who have held offices connected with the town since its incorporation up to the present time, together with the dates of official service:

1874--Trustees, W. A. Way, F. M. Brown, J. J. Melvin, J. C. Merrill and M. V. B. Clark; Chairman, F. M. Brown; Clerk, R. G. Brown; Treasurer, F. M. Davis; Marshal, I. D. Emery.

1875--Trustees, W. A. Way, J. C. Merrill, Paul Braitsch, George Sewart and M. V. B. Clark; Chairman, J. C. Merrill; Clerk, J. S. Le Hew; Treasurer, F. M. Davis; Marshal, W. Wilkinson.

1876--Trustees, F. A. Pyle, E. P. Church, J. W. Shirley, James Sheppard and I. N. Clark; Chairman, E. P. Church; Clerk, J. S. Le Hew; Treasurer, F. M. Davis; Marshal, A. Brown. F. M. Davis resigned the office of Treasurer, and J. A. Tout was appointed, December 9, 1876, to fill the vacancy. During the early part of the year a petition, signed by R. G. Brown and twenty others, was presented to the Board of Trustees, asking that they incorporate Sutton as a city of the second class. In response to this request of the citizens, Ordinance No. 24 was passed by the board, whereby the town was incorporated as a city of the second class. An election was held and the following officers elected: Mayor, I. N. Clark; Police Judge, J. R. Maltby; Clerk, J. S. Le Hew; Treasurer, J. A. Tout; Marshal, C. F. Meyer; Councilmen for the First Ward, J. S. Sheppard and W. E. Bemis; Councilmen for the Second Ward, T. Weed and F. A. Pyle. This administration was characterized by general activity and improvement; being now a city, it was the great object to have the town fulfill in its appearance all that was indicated in the name.

Among the improvements were the revision and publication of the ordinances and the construction of sidewalks. During the previous year a sidewalk was built along Saunders avenue, the leading thoroughfare of the place, and was also the first walk built in the town. This, too, was the beginning of the era of planting shade trees. During the year a double walk iron bridge was built across School Creek by Raymond & Young, contractors. A spirit of public improvement was aroused, and which has since continued, making the town of Sutton the neat and attractive place it now is.

In compliance with the statutory enactment regulating such matters, the next election of city officers was held on the first Tuesday of April, 1878, at which time the following persons were chosen to the respective positions: Mayor, I. N. Clark; Clerk, J. S. Le Hew; Treasurer, L. R. Grimes; Police Judge, E. P. Burnett; Marshal, C. A. Melvin; City Engineer, Frank Conn; Councilmen for the First Ward, W. E. Bemis, elected for two years, and J. S. Sheppard, elected for one year; Councilmen for the Second Ward, F. A. Pyle, elected for two years, and James Thompson, elected for one year. J. S. Le Hew was appointed Police Judge, May 6, 1878, vice E. P. Burnett.

At the next regular election in 1879, R. G. Brown was chosen Mayor; Police Judge, J. Rowley; City Clerk, A. L. Lamont; City Treasurer, J. S. Le Hew; City Marshal, R. H. Stewart; City Engineer, F. A. Pyle; Councilman for the First Ward, F. J. Hoerger; Councilman for the Second Ward, James Thompson. A. L. Lamont resigned the office of City Clerk, and A. A. McCoy was appointed, August 30, 1879.

"How the mighty city of Sutton is fallen!" The winter of 1879, as in many other similar instances, proved a period of misfortune to the flourishing young city of Sutton. During that time the Legislature passed a law requiring all places to have a population of 1,500 before they could be incorporated as cities of the second class. But Sutton, by all known methods of computation, could not raise her numbers to that point by a few hundreds, and thus in the period of youth "was cropped the golden plumes of this proud young city."

Accordingly, with the beginning of the next year, in abject humiliation, she was compelled to resume the less elegant garments of a village. The officers elected in 1880 to take control of the village were as follows: Trustees, M. Wittenberg, C. W. Brown, James Thompson, George Honey and A. E. Meyer; Chairman, A. E. Meyer; Clerk, A. A. McCoy; Treasurer, J. S. Le Hew. A. A. McCoy resigned the office of Village Clerk, January 4, 1881, and William F. Stone was appointed.

1881--Trustees, R. G. Merrill, M. V. B. Clark, F. A. Pyle, J. E. Bagley and Henry Grosshaus; Chairman, J. E. Bagley; Clerk, W. F. Stone; Treasurer, J. B. Dinsmore.

1882--Trustees, R. G. Merrill, F. J. Hoerger, F. M. Brown, W. W. Wieden and T. R. Linton; Chairman, F. M. Brown; Treasurer, J. B. Dinsmore; Clerk, W. F. Stone.


The first school building in Sutton was a frame house, built by Owen Mines, which stood nearly between the residences of C. M. Turner and Mr. Rowe. It was sold at sheriff's sale to the Clark Brothers, to satisfy a lumber debt in favor of Mr. Weed; afterward it was rented for one year at what it cost, to Thompson & Young; then sold to J. M. Gray & Co., for an office, which they now occupy. William Weed taught the first school in the town and the second in the county, commencing about the 20th of January, 1872, with an average attendance of fourteen.

Another building was erected for school purposes in the fall of 1872, and stood on J. M. Gray's homestead, just outside of the town limits, on the east side. This building continued in use as a schoolhouse about two years, when it was sold to District No. 20, about six miles south of town, and is now occupied by that district as a schoolhouse. The present school building was erected in the spring of 1876. It is a handsomely constructed, two-story frame building, forty feet long by the same in width, with artistic and appropriate projections, and is surmounted with a neat and showy belfry and dome. The house contains three large rooms, two of these being in the lower story and a full size chapel in the upper, besides the necessary cloak apparatus and ante-rooms.

The building is tastefully finished and is situated on a picturesque elevation to the rear of the town, from which it presents a handsome appearance. Surrounding the house are beautiful grounds, embracing about two acres, tastefully ornamented with a profusion of shade trees, and neatly divided off with curving promenades and inclosed by a board fence. Besides this, the old court house is made use of to accommodate the schools, in which one of the primary departments is kept. The school was graded by Prof. J. W. Johnson in the fall of 1876, and was divided into the primary, intermediate and grammar school departments. A more thorough classification has since been made, and besides these grades a higher department was added.

There are two primary departments, each of which is further subdivided into Classes A, B, and C. The intermediate department comprises Classes A and B; the grammar school, A, B, C and D, and the higher department includes the advanced classes.

Besides the rudimentary and common branches, many of the more advanced branches are taught, including algebra, geometry, philosophy, physiology, botany, physical geography and rhetoric.

The school enrolls a total of 215 pupils, about 180 of these being in regular attendance, under the instruction of Prof. W. C. Picking, as Principal, Laura E. Sawyer, assistant, and Nellie Henderson, Mattie Torry and Katie Conn, teachers of the primary departments.


Christian Church.--The first sermon at Sutton was preached December 30, 1875, by Elder J. M. Yearnshaw, of Lincoln, three members being in attendance. The first sermon at Marshall was on the 3d day of January, 1876. Meetings continued until the 11th. January 9, a Sunday school and Church was organized, the result of Elder Yearnshaw's labors. The first sermon preached at Fairfield was by Elder Newcomb, February 13, 1876; members present were only three. April 18, 1876, a series of meetings were commenced by Elder R. C. Barrow, State Evangelist of Nebraska. A church of twenty-six members was organized at Sutton on the 16th, the meeting closing on the 19th. At the present time the church at Sutton numbers twenty, Total number of churches in the county, four; total number of members, 175. The first and only Christian Sunday school in the county was organized September 14, 1874, with four scholars, by Mrs. P. A. Halleck at her residence in Sutton; at the expiration of nine months, the school numbered thirty-five, when the place of meeting was changed to the court house, and continued at that place until the County Commissioners closed the court house to all church organizations.

Methodist Episcopal Church.--About the last of June, 1871, William Whitten, a theological student from Toulon, Ill., preached at the house of P. Fitzgerald, in the northeast part of the county, and organized a class. The Harvard and Glenville classes were organized in May, 1872. In April, 1873, Rev. E. J. Willis was sent by the conference to the Harvard Circuit, which comprised all of Clay County. First Quarterly Conference of this church was held at Harvard June 21, 1873. Soon after this conference, the southern portion of the county was organized into the Little Sandy Circuit, Rev. Mr. Penny, supply. There are now twenty appointments in the county, with a membership of more than 500. The Sutton class was organized by Rev. A. J. Swarts in the fall of 1874. This society is now supplied with a fine brick church and parsonage, costing in all $3,600; Rev. H. A. Ewell is now pastor.

Congregational Church.--First services of this church were held in the grove at Sutton in July, 1871, by Rev. Mr. Jones. May 16, 1872, Rev. O. W. Merrill, then Superintendent of Home Missions for Nebraska, organized a church, with eight members. The first regular continuous services were conducted by Rev. D. B. Perry, now President of Doane College, Crete, Neb. The Sutton Congregational Society built the first church building in the county. The society numbers over 200 in the county. A union Sunday school was organized June 25, 1872, the first in the county, T. Weed, Superintendent. The Congregational school now averages fifty pupils. This church has organizations at Spring Ranch, Fairfield and Harvard. For the north half Clay, Rev. John Gray, pastor: south half Clay, Rev. Thomas Pugh, pastor. The Harvard society is building a church building and has over forty members.

Catholic Church.--The first mass was celebrated by Father Kelley at Clay Center in a tent, June 15, 1871, with eight members, most of whom were railroad men, building the road-bed of the Burlington & Missouri. Meetings were held south of Sutton at the house of M. McVey, in Sheridan Precinct. Work began upon the erection of a church in the fall of 1878, and was completed in the following spring. The building is a large frame, 30x60 feet in dimensions, and cost together with furniture, about $2,000. The building first used by the congregation was a small frame, which has since been removed and is now in use as a county schoolhouse. The congregation has a membership of fifty-five families, under charge of Father J. Jenette, of Exeter.

A congregation was started by the German Congregationalists in November, 1880. The work of organizing was under the special charge of Rev. W. Sess, of Crete, assisted by the Rev. E. Jose and others. The church began with sixteen members and the early services were held in the old court house, in which building they are still held, and conducted by Rev. Mr. Jose, who has since remained with the charge from its organization. There are at present twenty members. A Sunday school was organized at the same time with fifteen members, and which now has a membership of forty.

The German Reformed Church was established at Sutton in the fall of 1874 by emigrants from Russia. The preliminary meetings were held in Grosshaus Hall. The organization was effected by Rev. Mr. Dickeman, and the congregation had about twenty-five members. From Grosshaus Hall they removed to the Odd Fellows' Hall, where they remained till the regular church house was built, in the fall of 1878. The building is frame, and is 30x60 feet in size. There are at present about eight-three families in the congregation and about 300 members, with the Rev. William Bonekemper as pastor.


The Sutton Times, weekly, was established and issued its first number on Friday, June 20, 1873. It was at that time a five-column quarto, with "patent inside." It had nine columns of advertising and eleven columns of local reading matter. In the first issue was an article on the early settlement of Sutton. There were represented in its advertising matter twenty-three different branches of business and professions. It was afterward enlarged to an eight-column folio, "patent inside," and eight columns of advertising and forty-four advertisers. Excepting for a short time after starting, it was the official paper of the county. Republican in politics. Edited and published at commencement by Wellman & Brakeman, and successively by Wellman & White, Wellman Bros. and by Frank E. Wellman.

The Clay County Herald was started and issued its first number Saturday, June 21, 1873; edited and published by J. M. Sechler and William J. Cowan. Its last issue was published in the fall of 1873, when it failed. It was a seven-column folio, "patent inside," with a liberal amount of advertising. Independent in politics.

The Clay County Globe, semi-weekly, was established and issued its first number July 14, 1875, F. M. Comstock, editor, J. S. LeHew, business manager. It was a four-column folio, all printed at home. Independent in politics. October 1, 1875, it was purchased by E. H. White, who edited and published it weekly. Republican in politics. October 29, 1875, it was enlarged to a six-column folio, "patent inside," and was the official paper of the town of Sutton. It contained six columns of local reading matter and six columns of advertising and forty-two advertisers. The paper again changed hands, and was purchased by I. D. Evans, editor and proprietor of the Sutton Register, into which the Globe was merged.

The Sutton Register was established February 12, 1880, by I. D. Evans, and is a six-column quarto in size, Republican in politics. The paper is alive to all matters of local interest, and has a circulation of 600 copies.


Luther French was the first Postmaster, and was appointed in the summer of 1871; at this period, the office was in French's dug-out, and he was in the habit of carrying the mail matter in his coat pocket. Afterward, as the mail receipts increased, he distributed the mail to the settlers form and 8x10 glass box. A. Burlingame, formerly a Methodist Episcopal clergyman, came in from Iowa and settled, August 18, 1871. He succeeded Mr. French as Postmaster, January 1, 1872, and has held the appointment continuously to the present time. His salary was increased from $12 to $400 per year, July 1, 1872, two years before a railroad station was built here. A money-order office was established July 1, 1873. Post Office Money Order, No. 1, was issued July 7, 1873, to Russell Merrill for $10.50, in favor of Samuel Burns, a crockery dealer in Omaha. During the contest with the railroad company, the post office department was a stanch friend of the town. The terms of the contract for carrying the mail between the railroad company and the department obliged the company to deliver all mails, not only at but literally into the post office, when the same was less than eighty rods from the station. To the credit of Postmaster General Creswell be it said, he always exacted the fulfillment of this provision. Stopping the cars to leave the mail, allowed passengers to get on and off, which, for convenience of travel, made Sutton a station. But this would not serve the purpose of the company, and, accordingly, trains were run by fast enough to prevent passengers getting on or off, and the mail-bag was thrown off and the outgoing mail was caught from the hands of the Postmaster. On the morning of August 19, Postmaster Burlingame refused to endanger his life any longer by holding the mail-bag out for the swiftly passing train, and left it in the office--as was his right to do. About this time, the mail agent threw out the mail-bag into the ditch. From this time forward, the attitude of the company was very hostile, and the war grew to be a bitter one. Our Postmaster reported the behavior of company to the department, and the Government ordered the mail to be carried to and from Grafton at the company's expense. T. R. Linton, who in those days was the freighter to and from that point, took the contract at $100 a quarter, and continued for some time until the company, tired of paying for the carrying from Grafton, sought of the department the privilege of again delivering it in Sutton. The company accordingly built a crane nearly opposite Gray's lumber yard, upon which they expected to catch the outgoing mail-bag as the train flew through the town. This was in the fall of 1872. Shortly afterward, some of "the boys" sawed the crane down, which was the only unlawful act committed by the citizens during the contest.

In those sober days of struggle, there were some incidents of a laughable nature that gave zest to the contest and served to smooth over its asperity and bitterness. One sifting, snowy morning, the Burlington & Missouri route agent was sure he espied the mail-sack hanging on the crane for the first time; he accordingly hung on the Sutton mail-sack and grabbed what he supposed was the Eastern mail; but it was so tightly fastened to the crane that he came near being jerked out of the car. The object proved to be a dead dog, which some one had hung to the crane for a joke.

The company then offered to stop at the water-tank, as the tank near Harvard was dry, and they could take water and mail at the same time. All this time the office was kept in the middle building in the wooden row opposite Gray's lumber yard, and was over eighty rods from the tank. By this means the company succeeded in obliging the department to furnish a carrier.

In this manner, the office was supplied with mail until the final solution of the difficulty by the establishment of a depot.

A second change of Postmaster was made in 1877, occasioned by the death of A. Burlingame, then holding that position. His death occurred February 17, 1877, and his son, A. C. Burlingame, was appointed to the vacancy on March 3 of that year.

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