of Neosho County
One of the more interesting towns that existed at one time in Neosho County but no longer exists was the town of 'Rollin.' Rollin was started by a group of men for religious reasons and then died when they died. It was located on the Santa Fe Railroad in the northwestern part of Erie Township. An article in the June 20, 1902 edition of the Erie Record stated the following: "A number of people of the 'Restitution Faith' organized under the name 'Church of God,' met at Shaw last week to discuss the project of establishing a colony of that faith at Rollin." The following could be found in the March 5, 1903 issue of the St. Paul Journal: "Several members of the Church of God are establishing a colony at Rollin, somewhat on the socialist platform." The members of the Restitution group were familiarly known as 'Soul Sleepers.' They were of the belief that the soul and the body were not separated at death. The soul was buried with the body and would sleep there until resurrection.
A town company was formed and over $2,000 was subscribed by the members of the faith to purchase a town site. The colony was incorporated with the incorporators being Elder Fore of Parsons; A.W. Darby, of Ransom, Kansas; S.M. White, of Nevada, Iowa; Delos Johnson and A.D. Dewey, of Chanute. Capital stock of the company was placed at $5,000 to be divided into 100 shares of $50 each. The incorporators proposed to "make the colony a model of morality, and hoped to accomplish much good for humanity."
The object of the new town was to colonize the members of their religion, build churches and schools and better advance the cause of their faith and the social and financial interests of its members. A cooperative company was to furnish homes for the aged and work for the unemployed. The moral atmosphere was to be maintained pure by strict requirements concerning the sale of stimulants and intoxicants. If a person received a deed, it was stipulated that no intoxicants or tobacco in any form would be permitted to be sold on the town site. Any member who bartered or sold liquors or tobacco would forfeit his rights in the colony and would be expelled. His property would revert back to the colony along with all improvements.
One of the first oil refineries in Neosho County was established in Rollin. The Rollin Refinery was the only one in the county to attempt to make by-products out of the oils of the mid-continent field. The refinery equipped its plant for the extraction of paraffin. For some reason, this endeavor did not accomplish much.
According to Lewis "Tim" Taylor, who worked for Delos Johnson in 1896, the refinery was at one time involved with a "slicker from the big city" by the name of Harry S. Truman, who came to Rollin often. Taylor said he had talked to Truman many times in Rollin and it was the same man who later became president.
Elder Fore died March 29, 1915. He had been preaching in the vicinity for forty years and in the same building for 25 years. Delos Johnson died in 1921. These two men had been the prime movers of the town and when they passed on, the last vestige of the town also passed. The church was changed to a school house and eventually sold at auction. The store building disappeared and the refinery building was bought and the material used to build a house. Oil men bought the boilers. Thus was the demise of another of the 'towns of Neosho County' that no longer exist!
The Vegetarian Colony
In the spring of 1855, Henry S. Clubb, a correspondent of the New York Tribune, and Dr. John McLaurin, both of New York, came to southeastern Kansas territory and explored the Neosho valley, settling on land in northern Neosho and southern Allen Counties about three miles northeast of what is now the city of Chanute. They were seeking a location with the view of building a Utopia for vegetarians. They incorporated the Vegetarian Company under the laws of New York. Sixty families would eventually buy stock in and become members of the company.
Clubb sold $33,000 worth of stock at $5 a share. Each share was supposed to represent an acre of land. Clubb told members that he would go ahead of them and build houses, install saw mills and grist mills and have them operating by the time they reached the company's land in the spring of 1865.
The colony was to build a 'great octagonal house' in the center of four square miles of land divided into sixteen farms of equal size. These farms were to be triangular in shape. Four corner lots on each farm of the central 'octagon' were to be held in common. All streets were to lead to Octagon City.
In early May 1856, members of the company, from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio, and Wisconsin, arrived on the banks of the Neosho River. They were disappointed to find that houses did not await them. There was one log cabin 16 x 16 feet without a window and with only one opening for a door. This structure was to house sixty families.
Within two months, complaints against Clubb had grown so intense and unpleasant that he and his young bride engaged transportation to Westport (now Kansas City), so they could take a boat to St. Louis on their way back to New York.
While part of the men set about building cabins, others, with oxen, broke the prairie with the only plow in the colony. They ran the plow day and night so a sufficient amount of ground could be readied for the colonists to grow crops. Corn, beans, potatoes and melons yielded in abundance, but Osage Indians living across the river helped themselves to the green corn and melons, exhausting the crop.
Information taken from an article written by T.F. Morrison and read at a meeting of the Neosho County Historical Society.
Scarcity of food caused great suffering among the colonists. Reduced by hunger, they were forced to buy dried buffalo meat from the Indians. Without food, doctor, or medicine, twenty-seven died from disease and starvation. Octagon City, in the height of its glory, could only boast of seven log cabins scattered over a wide area. At the end of two years all sixty families had succumbed to starvation and fever or returned to their former homes. Only two of the colonists, Watson Stewart and his brother Capt. Samuel J. Stewart, remained to become permanent settlers and influential citizens.
Jacksonville, once the second largest town in Neosho County, had its beginning in 1866 when M.L. McCaslin began a business with a covered wagon for his store. Located near the four corners of Neosho, Labette, Cherokee and Crawford counties, Jacksonville seemed to grow rapidly. The Neosho Valley Eagle, the first newspaper in Neosho County, was started May 2, 1868. In its May 9 issue, the Eagle described Jacksonville in the following manner:
"the town is but a little over a year old and is improving rapidly, having a little less than 600 population. There are six stores, a cabinet shop, carpenter and blacksmith shops, and boot and shoe shops, all of which give the place a lively appearance. We have a hotel which would do credit to larger towns, besides a good postoffice."
There was no report of a church ever being built, but a letter in the same May 9 issue said,
"In Jacksonville, there are three organized churches, the Methodist, United Brethren, and O.S. Presbyterian; we have one sermon every Sabbath, and often two."
The coming of the first railroad in the eastern part of Neosho County with a station at Osage Mission stopped the growth of Jacksonville. When the Frisco built west from Arcadia in 1878-79, it passed three miles south of Jacksonville, and McCune and Strauss were started. Most of the businesses moved to McCune and in a few months little was left of Jacksonville, except the schoolhouse and the old cemetery. On December 17, 1881, the school building was destroyed by fire. The Journal reported, "This about finishes that once prosperous town."
Jacksonville had its "moments." In December 1874, members of the Settlers League undertook the task of ejecting N.F. Garlinghouse from a disputed claim six miles south of Osage Mission. Thirteen members of the League were involved. When they knocked down the door of the Garlinghouse residence, Garlinghouse shot three of the men with a shotgun, but did not kill anyone.
Several days later, about 100 men on horseback called on Justice of the Peace, M.A. Patterson, at Jacksonville, and gave him 30 minutes to rescind a fine assessed against Andrew Olsen. Olsen had been arrested and convicted of participating in the attempt to eject Garlinghouse from his claim. The fine was rescinded.
No history of Jacksonville would be complete without the story of the March, 1874 lynching of John Pierce. Pierce was a teacher who taught in district schools over the country. He was known to have a quarrelsome disposition and carried a gun all the time, even in the schoolroom. Pierce was involved in a quarrel with his father-in-law, Anthony Amend, and shot him in cold blood. A vigilance committee, known as the "Wigglers" heard about the shooting. Pierce tried to escape. The "Wigglers" chased him up and down the river until they captured him. He was taken to the schoolhouse where he was put under guard.
Late on Saturday night, March 24, 1874, the lights suddenly went out in the building and "many" men appeared. A rope was put around Pierce's neck. The wagon in which Pierce was transported was driven under a burr oak tree with a projecting limb about twelve feet off the ground. They threw the rope over the limb and drove the wagon from under him The next day, Pierce
s father cut him down and he was buried in the Jacksonville cemetery.
Several weeks later, a trial was held in Osage Mission but when about one hundred men hitched their horses outside the courthouse, the lawyers and judge disappeared. The trial was over. It is the general suspicion that several prominent men of Jacksonville went broke buying silence in the case.
Information taken from History of Neosho County, Vol. II, the Osage Mission Journal and the St. Paul Journal.