History of Blue Rapids, Kansas
The manufacturing city of Blue Rapids, the second in size in Marshall County, is located two and one-half miles below the junction of Big and Little Blue Rivers, and ninety-five miles west of Atchison on the Central Branch Missouri Pacific Railroad. The town site is laid off on a beautiful level slope extending from the railroad to the river, which is skirted with heavy belts of timber, forming a background of exceptional beauty. It is acknowledged as being the most beautiful and possessing the finest water-power of any town in the State.
The Blue Valley from Prospect Hill Cemetary
In the fall of 1869, a preliminary meeting of those interested in Kansas was held at LeRoy, Genesee Co., N. Y. At a later meeting held in Batavia, N. Y., a colony was organized with the following officers: Rev. C. F. Mussey, President; T. Holbrook, Vice-president; S. H. Parmalee, Treasurer; C. J. Brown, Secretary.
A location committee, consisting of C. F. Mussey, H. J. Bovee and J. B. Brown came out and located the present town site of Blue Rapids. During the winter of 1869-70, the colony, numbering about fifty families, came out and immediately commenced improvements. A town site of 287 acres, embracing the water-power privilege, was purchased of R. S. Craft and others at a cost of $15,000, and 8,000 acres secured in farming lands.
Among the members of the original colony and a greater part of whom located here were: S. H. Parmalee, T. Holbrook, R. Robertson, M. T. Coe, D. Fairbanks, S. Smith, J. T. Smith, H. S. Hurlbert, J. B. Waynant, C. J. Brown, G. R. Brown, T. F. Hall, J. B. Brown, C. E. Olmstead, J. L. Freeland, J. V. Coon, R. S. Craft, John McPherson, J. E. Ball, Y. Douglass, H. A. Parmalee, J. Yurann, V. R. North, H. Woodard, E. L. Stone, J. S. Fisher, C. F. Roedel, C. F. Mussey and others.
Improvements were carried on on an extensive scale. The water-power was surveyed by a competent engineer and found to possess manufacturing facilities of over 1,500 horse-power. At a point where the rapids commence, the current of the river strikes an abrupt rock bluff on the right bank about forty feet high; the river then turns to the left and ripples over a solid rock bottom for a distance of 800 feet. At the above mentioned bluff the town company constructed the dam running over the lime rock bed to the opposite shore. Built of cut stone, sunk into and keyed to the underlying solid rock, it affords great strength. A King's tubular arch wrought iron bridge was completed in the spring of 1871.
The Bridge and Dam
Riverside Park in the early 1900s . The picture was taken from just north of one of the large barns on the fairgrounds. In later years this river bank became the city dump. The curve you see in the river is that described in the paragraph above.
Each town lot was sold or distributed on the fixed condition that it never was to hold the foundation for a grog shop or a gaming house of any kind.
One of the first enterprises set on foot in the spring of 1870, was the sinking of a public well on the Public Square. The work was carried on by several parties, but after the drill was put down over two hundred feet and no water found, it was given up. Subsequently, the people accepted a proposition submitted by C. E. Olmstead, one of the enterprising business men of the town, to supply the city with water from the Blue River, by the Holly system of water-works, which have been in successful operation up to a recent date.
H. A. Parmalee and Yates Douglass established the first general stores in 1870. W. W. Stevens followed with the first drug store. W. H. Goodwin was the first to represent the profession of law. Dr. R. A. Wells was the first disciple of Esculapius to locate permanently in the place. The manufacture of brick commenced in May, 1872, by Mr. Seip. A marriage ceremony was performed in Irving, in June, 1870, by the Rev. E. H. Chapen, the contracting parties, Miss Lottie Hoit and the Rev. J. Williams, being from Blue Rapids. The first birth was that of a child of a Mr. Van Dusen, -- a member of the Town Colony -- in August 1870. The first death on the town site was that of Mary, the wife of H. S. Halbert, in the summer of 1870.
On the arrival of the colony at Blue Rapids, as there were no buildings on the town site, with the exception of a small stone building erected years before, a large two-story frame structure was erected by the colonists and termed by them -- "Colonial Hall," but by the "natives" or the old settlers, as the "Ark." This building was used by the colonists until other structures could be erected, and in it were held the first religious services and the first school. All public meetings were held there, and at one time a portion of it was used as a hotel and the other part for school purposes. The building was finally moved down to the river and is now incorporated into a building used by the Buell Manufacturing Company.
Blue Rapids in 1888
In the early 1900s Blue Rapids hosted a well-attended Chautauqua annually in Riverside Park. The Chautauquas were well received and attendees came from far and wide to attend them.
The Second Annual Chautauqua - 1909
On October 24, 1913, the Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants, winner of the National League pennant, played an exhibition game in Blue Rapids as part of their post season world tour. The Omaho Bee carried the headline " The Only Town with the Nerve - Blue Rapids". Blue Rapids, a little town in Northern Kansas, was the only town on the Union Pacific Railroad that had the nerve to put up the guarantee for the Giants - White Sox game. It was the only place in the state that hosted the famous players. Blue Rapids was the smallest town in which the teams played during the entire 46 game world tour. It was a huge financial success for those who put up the guarantee.
On October 24th, a warm Kansas day, the roads were good and the autos came from miles around. The automobiles and trains brought ina crowd that made the town look like a city. More than 3000 fans sat on bleachers, hung on fences and watched from Model T's. Baseball legends Jim Thorpe, John McGraw, Sam Crawford, Bill Klein and Christy "Big Six" Mathewson were there that day. This baseball field , in this small town in Northern Kansas, is the only baseball field still in existence that any of these baseball players ever played on.
INCORPORATION AND LOCAL MATTERS.
In response to a petition signed by a majority of the legal voters in the village of Blue Rapids, A. S. Wilson, Judge of the District Court, in accordance with the laws of the State of Kansas, incorporated Blue Rapids as a city of the third class, on March 20, 1872. The first city election was held in Colonial Hall, April 2, 1872, with J. L. Freeland, J. S. Fisher and G. Fitzgerald, Judges of election. The following is the official roster of the town.
Mayor. -- 1872-3, C. E. Olmstead; 1874-5, John McPherson; 1876-7, A. E. Sweetland; 1878-9, W. A. Briggs; 1880, John McPherson; 1881-2, A. J. Loomis.
Councilmen. -- 1872, Mimium, H. Armstrong, J. E. Ball, John McPherson, J. B. Waynant; 1873, J. E. Ball, A. W. Stevens, J. McPherson, H. Armstrong, D. Mimium; 1874, J. Allerdice, W. Burr, G. Fitzgerald, D. W. Hinman, J. S. Wright; 1875, W. Burr, G. Fitzgerald, C. W. Farrington, C. J. Brown, W. D. Cook; 1876, C. W. Farrington, A. J. Brown, W. D. Cook, G. B. Stocks, D. Fairbanks; 1877, A. J. Brown, G. B. Stocks, D. Fairbanks, H. McGrew, A. E. Benedict; 1878, A. E. Benedict, J. A. Loban, H. McGrew, F. Cooley, G. Marshall; 1879, J. Brown, W. A. Smyth, F. Cooley, G. W. Marshall, John A. Loban; 1880, M. N. Shoecraft, E. M. Brice, F. Cooley, D. Mimium, I. D. Yarrick; 1881, J. Brown, I. D. Yarrick, W. A. Smyth, J. D. Price, James Allerdice; 1882, John Brown, J. V. Coon, J. G. Crawford, S. Hill, D. Fairbanks.
Police Judge. -- 1872-3, C. E. Olmstead; 1874-6, T. F. Hall; 1877-9, H. W. Chapman; 1880, E. J. Coon; 1881-2, J. L. Eldridge.
Clerk. -- 1872-5, C. J. Brown; 1876-7 W. H. H. Freeman; 1878-9, M. C. Holman; 1880, E. W. Waynant; 1881, A. J. Brown; 1882, H. G. Reynolds.
Treasurer. -- 1872-3, J. L. Freeland; 1874-6, F. C. Scott; 1877-9, W. Burr; 1880, C. W. Farrington; 1881-2, J. A. Loban.
Marshal -- 1872, E. Colmstock; 1873, L. B. Doten; 1874, J. Sargent; 1875, S. M. Swan; 1876-7, A. Sharp; 1878, W. J. McAtee; 1879-81, A. W. Kimball; 1882, W. W. Spencer.
Schools. -- The first school in the vicinity of Blue Rapids was taught by Lucy A. Palmer, in November, 1861. The school, numbering twenty-five scholars, was held in a private dwelling one-half mile west of the present town site. Up to 1871 the following teachers took charge of the school in the order mentioned: Miss Emma Thompson, Rev. P. Duncan, Harriet Whitmore, Emma Cooley, A. Smith and Rev. Charles Holmes. In the summer of 1870, the first school taught in town was held in Colonial Hall by Rev. Charles Holmes, who was succeeded the next year by Charles Palmer. A. Griffin and C. M. Brydges succeeded Palmer in the order mentioned. In 1873, a two-story brick building, 30x50 feet with stone trimmings, was erected at a cost of $8,000. Mr. Brydges, who was the first teacher in the new building, was succeeded by W. Philbrook, W. B. Dimon, H. N. Halle?? and Prof. J. W. Quay, the present incumbent, in the order mentioned, as principals. Owning to an increased number of scholars, a new building, 20z30 feet, was erected in the immediate vicinity.
Blue Rapids High School and Grade School prior to 1910 in center
Blue Rapids High School - 1910
Churches. -- The First Presbyterian Church was organized May 1, 1870, by Rev. C. F. Mussey, D. D., with twenty-three members. Services were held in the Colonial Hall for some time, and after moving from one public hall to another, a stone edifice, 32x56 feet, the latest and finest building of its kind in the county, was erected in the fall of 1874, at a cost of $4,000. Rev. Mr. Mussey remained in charge over the church until 1875, when he was succeeded by Rev. G. R. Hutchinson, who remained but six months, and was succeeded by Rev. W. N. McHarg, D. D., in March, 1876. The organization under its present pastor, Me. McHarg, numbers fifty members.
The Congregational Church was organized January 1, 1872, with twenty members, Rev. S. A. Van Dyke being the first pastor. Services were held in different public halls for a number of year, when a church edifice 25x48 feet, was erected at a cost of $1,300, during the summer of 1882. The organization has been in charge of the following named pastors; Rev. S. A. Van Dyke, C. A. Richardson, D. C. McNair, and Edward Skinner, the present incumbent. The church is in a prosperous condition, and numbers sixty-five members.
Baptist Church. -- An organization of the Baptist persuasion was perfected December 1?, 1872 by Rev. G. Gates, with twenty-three members. In April, 1873, Rev. W. A. Briggs took pastoral charge of the congregation, and immediately commenced efforts towards the erection of a church edifice. In July, 1873, the corner-stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies, and the church was dedicated in October of the same year. The building, a brief structure, was erected at a cost of $1,800. The Rev. W. A. Briggs remained as pastor until July, 1880, when he was succeeded by Rev. George Brown, the present incumbent, in April, 1881.
Methodist Episcopal Church. -- A partial organization of the Methodist Church was perfected in the winter of 1870-71, by Rev. M. D. Tenney, with sixteen members. Occasional services were held during the year 1871 by Rev. Messrs. Tenney, Spencer and Smith, who held meetings in different public halls in the city. In 1873, Rev. W. H. Underwood took charge of the church, and remained two years; he was succeeded by Rev. E. W. Van Deventer, three years; Rev. J. G. Green, one year; Rev. G. W. Miller, two years; Rev. S. L. Hunter, one year; Rev. C. S. Freark, the present incumbent, taking charge of the church in 1882. A church edifice of limestone was erected in 1876, at a cost of $2,200.
The Press. -- In the latter part of June, 1871, W. P. Campbell, and C. E. Tibbetts, purchased the material of the Netawaka Herald and removed it to Blue Rapids, where, on the 4th of July, 1871, they issued the first number of the Blue Rapids Times. On the 8th of July, 1872, Campbell sold his interest to Frank Hall, who remained in the concern, but a few weeks, when he retired, leaving Mr. Tibbetts sole proprietor. The latter conducted the paper until October, 1877, when E. M. Brice, of Ohio, became a partner, and on the 3d of October, 1878, Mr. Tibbetts retired, leaving Mr. Brice alone in the office, which he still controls as the editor of the Times. The Times since the issuing of the first number has been Republican in politics and devoted to home interests. Under the management of its present editor, it has grown to be one of the leading papers in the county.
The Postoffice. -- A postoffice was established a short distance from what is now known as Blue Rapids, in 1859, with William Thompson as the first postmaster. Mr. Thompson remained in office three years, and was succeeded in 1862 by D. Palmer. In 1865, Miss Emma Lee received the appointment as postmistress, but remained in office but six months when she resigned in favor of S. Craft, who after a short period turned the office over to John Weber. During Weber's term, 1869, the office was discontinued. When the Genesee Colony came out and located a town site and commenced improvements, the postoffice was re-established in the spring of 1870, with S. H. Parmalee as postmaster. Mr. Parmalee was succeeded in 1875 by C. E. Tibbetts, then editor of the Times. In 1876, Mr. Tibbetts resigned. In December of that year A. J. Loomis was appointed, and has officiated as postmaster up to the present time. Under Parmalee's administration the office was made a Money-order office in July, 1882 -- Money Order No. 1 being remitted by W. H. Goodwin.
A Great Fire -- Blue Rapids, in its existence of twelve years, has singularly escaped serious conflagrations common to Western towns, with the exception of a few instances. The existence of Blue Rapids, as a town, was nearly wiped out, April 10, 1872, by one of those events that frequently occur in a newly settled country -- a prairie fire. About noon of the day mentioned a dense cloud of smoke was seen to rise back of the bluffs, south of town, and as a strong breeze was blowing from that direction, an apprehension was felt that the town was in danger, which was soon realized by the appearance of flames that came surging down the bluffs with great velocity. The citizens turned out en masse, and seizing everything that would stop the progress of the flames, rushed to the scene. The fire first passed over the railroad track and swept along the west side of town to the river, which alone could check it, leaving a lateral column approaching the town at right angles, which monopolized the exertions of one hundred men to keep it in check. The flames also crossed the track on the east side of town and passed on to the river. Here the same efforts were needed, and after all danger was over the gallant fire brigade returned to their homes, blackened, scorched and burnt, but satisfied with their endeavors to save their homes.
Societies. -- Blue Rapids Lodge, N. 169, A. F. & A. M. -- Was instituted under a charter dated October 18, 1872, with the following charter members: S. Hill, A. J. Brown, C. W. Farrington, W. N. Halstead, C. Holman, D. Minium, R. S. Craft, D. W. Hinman, W. Burr, I. A. Chandler, A. N. Taylor. The first officers were: A. J. Brown, M.; W. W. Farrington, S. W.; S. Hill, J. W.; W. Burr, Treas.; D. W. Hinman, Sec'y.
Present officers: C. W. Farrington, M.; W. Barrett, S. W.; R. S. Craft, J. W.; S. C. Holbrook, Treas.; S. Hill, Sec'y. Present membership, eighteen. Regular meetings are held on the first Monday of each month, in Masonic Hall.
Blue Rapids Lodge, No. 2,793, K. of H. -- Was organized under dispensation, July 27, 1882, with nineteen members. Following were elected; J. B. Miller, Dic.; G. B. Stocks, V. Dic.; R. S. Craft, P. Dic.; C. Farrington, Rep.; C. G. Reed, Fin. R.; G. B. Vroom, G.; I. D. Yarrick, Treas.; O. A. Cole, Chap. The society, but recently organized, is in a flourishing condition.
Prospect Hill Cemetery Association -- Was incorporated June 17, 1879, with the following charter members, who also constituted a board of directors: R. S. Craft, T. F. Hall, Ed. W. Waynant, John Brown, William Coulter. At the first regular meeting R. S. Craft was elected President; T. F. Hall, Vice-President; E. W. Waynant, Secretary and Treasurer. A tract of land located one and one-half miles north of the city, on the southeast quarter of northeast quarter of Section 17, Township 4, Range 7, was purchased, and improvements made. Present Board of Directors; R. S. Craft, T. F. Hall, John Brown, E. W. Waynant, H. D. Calkins, A. Sharp, E. M. Brice, W. McGrew, G. B. Stocks. At the last annual meeting the following officers were elected: R. S. Craft, President, T. F. Hall, Vice-President; E. W. Waynant, Secretary; G. B. Stocks, Treasurer; H. D. Calkins, Superintendent.
Blue Rapids Cemetery Association -- Was incorporated under that name, with a capital stock of $1,000, July 4, 1879, with the following charter members: F. Cooley, C. A. Freeland, M. C. Holman, W. A. Barrett, J. D. Fields. F. Cooley was elected President; W. A. Barrett, Vice-President; C. A. Freeland, Treasurer; C. C. Holman, Secretary. A site of ten acres, located in the northeast part of the city, was purchased during the same year. At the last annual meeting the following officers were elected: John McPherson, President; S. Hill, Vice-President; J. A. Loban, Treasurer; C. E. Tibbetts Secretary.
Ladies' Library Association. -- In 1874, the ladies of Blue Rapids conceived and carried out the plan of establishing a circulating library. In May of the same year an incorporated association was perfected, with the following officers: Mrs. J. E. Ball, President; Mrs. J. S. Wright, Vice-President; Mrs. C. E. Tibbetts, Recording Secretary; Mrs. M. E. Reed, Corresponding Secretary; Mrs. C. F. Roedel, Treasurer; Miss Lizzie B. Hall and Miss Mary Wright, Librarians. Board of Directors: Mesdames Hall, Stocks, McPherson, Beach and Sweetland. Books were contributed and purchased, and in a few months a nucleus was formed for the library that gave gratifying results. The library was thrown open to the public for the first time, June 27, 1874, it then occupying a part of D. W. Hinman's store. During the same year efforts were inaugurated toward the erection of a library building. Through the liberality of C. E. Olmstead and others funds were raised and building operations commenced. In 1876, the building, a two story stone structure, 24x40 feet, was completed at a cost of $2,000, and now stands as a monument of the laborious but praiseworthy efforts of the association.
Present officers are: Mrs. A. B. Tibbetts, President; Mrs. C. Y. Reed, Vice-President; Corresponding Secretary; Mrs. John McPherson and Mrs. George Heathman, Librarians. The catalogue of the association shows nearly 2,000 volumes in the library, which list is rapidly increasing.
Hotels -- The Old Colonial Hall, the first building erected by the Blue Rapids Town Company, was occupied as a hotel for several months, when Messrs. McPherson & Reed erected the present building now occupied by them, in 1870. This building, known as LaBelle (beautiful) House, is a three-story frame, 38x40 feet, with an extension 24x26 feet. After being in successful operation for twelve years, the hotel was closed August 28, 1882, and the partnership between McPherson & Reed dissolved.
The Arlington House was opened in the Winter of 1882, by W. Coulter, Jr., who is the present manager. The building, a two-story brick, was erected in 1873, by W. Coulter, Sr., at a cost of $7,000. In 1881 it was fitted up and used as a hotel, under the name of the Fairchild House, managed by C. R. Fairchild, formerly proprietor of the Tremont House, Marysville. The "Arlington," though comparatively a new enterprise, is securing the reputation of a first-class hotel.
Bank. -- The banking house of Olmstead, Freeland & Co. was established in May, 1871. The building occupied by them was built in 1870, by D. Fairbanks and J. L. Freeland, who bought out Fairbanks' interest during the same year. The building is of limestone, two stories, 25x30 feet, erected at a cost of $3,500. In the fall of 1872, owing to the death of one of the firm (N. B. Olmstead), the two remaining partners, C. E. Olmstead and J. L. Freeland, conducted business under the firm name of Olmstead & Freeland until 1879, when C. E. Olmstead, having larger business interests in Burlington, Iowa, retired, leaving J. L. Freeland sole manager, who changed the name to the "Bank of Blue Rapids City." The bank is supplied with modern banking conveniences, including a Hall's safe in a fire-proof vault. A general banking business is transacted by its manager, J. L. Freeland.
Manufacturing Interests. -- Since Blue Rapids came into existence it has been noted throughout the State for its superior water-power privileges, and has been termed by some enthusiastic writers the "Lowell of Kansas." With it sixteen' hundred horse-power, it fine dam, its two span bridge, and its numerous building sites for mills and factories, it will in a few years be justly entitled to that appellation.
The dam on the Blue River in 1902
The bridge was still in use and the dam completely intact until the dike around Blue Rapids was built in the early 1960s.
Woolen Mills. -- In 1872, a four story woolen mill, 10x80 feet, was completed and supplied with necessary machinery at a cost of $50,000. On inducements offered by the Town Company, Messrs. Cook & Chandler, of the Wathena Woolen Mills, transferred their interests to this place and immediately commenced operations with a force numbering forty-five hands. In 1874, owing to financial difficulties, the firm was compelled to make an assignment. In the fall of 1877, the woolen mills were purchased by the Buell Manufacturing Company, of Saint Joseph, Mo., who started the mill and ran it to its full capacity until December, 1879, when it was destroyed by fire. It was immediately rebuilt and remodeled, and filled with the latest improved machinery, and is now employing one hundred hands. An addition was built, 20x60 feet, four stories high, and other improvements made at a recent date. The mill at present is a model institution, lighted by gas, run night and day, and uses 300,000 pounds of wool annually. Yarns, woolen cloths, flannels and blankets are manufactured in immense quantities.
Flouring Mill. -- Situated on the east bank of the river and adjoining the woolen mill on the south, is a four-story stone building, 54x83 feet, which was erected in 1871, by C. E. Olmstead, at a cost of $30,000. The mill was originally intended for seven run of burrs, but only five were used, which gave it a capacity of grinding 1,200 bushels per day. The mill was run for some time under the firm name of Olmstead Brothers, when J. S. Wright became a partner and the firm name was Olmstead & Co. Mr. Olmstead retiring in 1879, R. S. Craft purchased and interest, the firm name being then known as J. W. Wright & Co. until the spring of 1882, when Messrs. Upham & Son purchased J. S. Wright's interest, and remodeled the mill into the "Roller Process," at an expense of $50,000. A car load of wheat could be used each day, or three hundred barrels of flour manufactured. The Roller Mills of Upham, Son & Co. were totally consumed by fire November 26, 1882; loss, $60,000, insurance $40,000. The mills are to be rebuilt by the same firm in the spring of 1883, and restored to former capacity.
Paper Mill -- This mill is located on the west side of the river, and was completed in the early part of 1873. The building, a four-story stone structure, 40x60 feet, was erected by Messrs. F. & J. Green, at a cost of $20,000. The financial crash of 1873 caused the mill to be closed until Rix, Hale & Co. obtained it, and have run it under different managers, at different periods, up to the present time.
Gypsum Mill. -- The gypsum mill is located on the west side of the river, south of the paper mill, and is a three-story stone structure, 40x60 feet, erected by Messrs. J. V. Coon & Son, at a cost of $12,000. The mill was run with a capacity of eighty barrels of plaster of Paris per day until 1877, when the interior was destroyed by fire, which was rebuilt again put in operation for a short time, when it ceased running. The gypsum used is found in exhaustless quantities two miles up the river, from which point it is transported in flat-boats.
Two of the many early gypsum mills
Great Western Plaster in 1908
Blue Rapids Cement Mill No 2 - 1908
The Great Western Plaster Mill American Cement -1915
Later became Certainteed, then Bestwall and finally Georgia Pacific
This plant burned down in about 1960
Inside one of the early mines when cars were loaded by hand and towed out by mules
Foundry and Machine Shops -- Are located on the west side of the river, south of the gypsum mill, and were established by Messrs. Price Brothers, in 1877, since which time they have been in successful operation. The motive power in this foundry is supplied from the river by means of an iron shaft running across the street under ground.
1877 Map of Marshall County 1888 Topographical Map of Marshall County
W. COULTER, JR., proprietor of hotel, was born in Peterborough, Canada, in March, 1851. Moved to Ohio in 1866, and to Blue Rapids, Kan., in 1873. He embarked in the drug business, and in 1882 sold out and opened the Arlington Hotel, the only brick hotel in Blue Rapids. Building 40x80 feet, two stories high, and is a first-class house in every particular. In 1878, Mr. Coulter ran the office of Register of Deeds in Marshall County, and although a Democrat from principle, and running for office in a Republican county, he came within 300 votes of being elected. His friends if it had not been that another Democrat ran independent, he would have been elected. Is a member of the Odd Fellows' lodge and Knights of Pythias. Was married in Blue Rapids in November, 1881.
DR. R. S. CRAFT, was born in Winchester, Va., February 11, 1831. His parents moved to Lawrenceburg, Ind., when he was a small boy. Was a soldier during the Mexican war. Moved to Missouri and began the practice of medicine in 1852. Moved to Holton, Jackson Co., Kan., in 1860. Was a member of the State Legislature from said county in 1863, and Treasurer of the county in 1864 and '65; also held the office of County Commissioner. In 1865, he purchased the Blue Rapids Water Power, on the Big Blue River. The Doctor is a member of the mill firm of Upham, Son & Co., of Blue Rapids; is likewise proprietor of a drug store in town. It was he that induced the Genesee Colony to locate at this point in 1870. He is a member of the Masonic Order. He was married in Putnam County, Mo., in October, 1852, to Anna B. Bledsoe, formerly of Ghent, Ky. They have three children -- Ella B., Julia M., and George R.
J. G. CRAWFORD, M. D., Was bore in Newark, N. J., December 11, 1840. In 1861 he was commissioned in the Medical Department of the United States Navy, as Assistant Surgeon, and remained until the close of the war. Then the Doctor returned to New York City, and practiced his profession and ran a drug store nine years. Graduated in 1861; also attended lectures in Kansas City College of Physicians and Surgeons. From 1872 to 1878, he alternated between New York City and Blue Rapids, as he had a sheep ranch and large land interests in Marshall County. In 1878, he made Blue Rapids his home, and entered upon the practice of his profession. He is a member of the Masonic lodge. He was married in Jersey City, June 30, 1870, to Julia A. Buclin. The Doctor has gained great celebrity in the literary and theatrical world, being a play writer and actor of high order.
L. B. DOTEN, livery, was born in Virginia, October 11, 1837. With his parents moved to New York State in 1839, thence to Cook County, Ill., in 1844, and to Minnesota in 1858. Enlisted in the United States Army in 1861, in Company F, Eighth Illinois Volunteer Cavalry. After the close of the war, Mr. Doten settled near Chicago and engaged in the sale of real estate and buying and selling horses. In 1872, he emigrated to Blue Rapids, Marshall Co., Kan., and engaged in the livery business. He has been City Marshall of Blue Rapids, and has held the office of Constable. Is a member of the Union League and Knights of Pythias. Married in Northfield, Minn., October 1, 1868, to Miss Alice M. Dickenson, who was born at Racine, Wis., May 29, 1849, and has two children -- Oral L., born February 24, 1871; Lulu, November 9, 1881.
C. W. FARRINGTON, merchant, was born in Broome County, N. Y., February 12, 1841. He removed to Wisconsin when fourteen years of age. Was educated at Baraboo Collegiate Institute, Baraboo, Wis. He enlisted in Company A, Sixth Wisconsin Infantry, in May, 1861. He was sent immediately to the Army of the Potomac. The Sixth Wisconsin Regiment was in the "Iron Brigade," and Mr. Farrington took a part in all of the battles of that splendid brigade until he was wounded at the battle of South Mountain, receiving a rifle ball in the arm and another in the shoulder. He was discharged on account of these disabilities early in 1863. He returned to Wisconsin, and helped to organize another company in the Forty-ninth Regiment. He was made First Lieutenant of Company E, and served in Missouri until the close of the war. He came to Blue Rapids from Wisconsin in 1873, and began business as a merchant. He and his brother, partners, have a large stock of general merchandise, and are doing a good business. He was married, January 1, 1867, to Miss Mary Kiefer. They have four children -- Ivan W., aged twelve years; Fred E, eleven; Lillie, nine; Stella, eight. Mr. Farrington is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and Is W. M. of Blue Rapids Lodge, No. 169.
W. HENDERSHOTT, farmer, P. O. Blue Rapids was born in Livingston County, J. Y., August 31, 1835. Educated at Temple Hill, Geneseo, N. Y. Studied law in the office of Kelsey & Davis, in Geneseo. Enlisted as a private in One Hundred and Thirty-sixth New York Volunteer Infantry, Col. James Wood, Jr., commanding, August 14, 1862. Was promoted to First Lieutenant Company C., August 24, 1862. Promoted to Captain Company D, February, 1863. The regiment was attached to Second Brigade, Second Division, Eleventh Army Corps. A few days after the battle of Chancellorsville, was ordered to report to Gen. A. S. Diven, Elmira, N. Y., and was ordered from thence to report to Batavia, N. Y., on duty under the Conscription Act. Was at the entertainment given by Dean Richmond, when Mr. Richmond, by his after-dinner speech, came out as a "War Democrat," and opposed to the Seymour element -- changing the political aspect of the politics of the State of New York. He was discharged on the 8th of May, 1865, and in December, 1865, removed to St. Louis and commenced the practice of law. Suffering to a great extent by the panic of 1873, he removed to New York City in 1874, and practiced law there. Was one of the speakers of the National Democratic Convention in the Tilden campaign, and foretold the conflict between capital and labor, after the Electoral Commission had placed in his hands the written confession Gen. J. B. Dennis of the change of the electoral vote of South Carolina from Tilden to Hayes. Was with Hon. Scott Lord, of New York, at Tilden's house in Gramercy Park with this confession as one of the counsel at the time of the discussion of the writ of quo warranto to unseat Hayes and inaugurate Tilden. During his practice in New York was attorney for the stockholders of the H. & St. J. R. R. in their application for a receiver. In 1879, his father-in-law, W. S. Mallory, Batavia, N. Y., died, and as one of the executors in New York and administrator in Kansas, has been in the management of the estate since. These matters brought Me. Hendershott to Kansas. He now resides on a farm two miles northwest of Blue Rapids, Marshall Co., Kan. On this farm is one of the largest gypsum deposits in the United States, and very valuable. Mr. Hendershott was married, March 17, 1863, to Miss M. S. Mallory, of Batavia, N. Y. They have three children -- W. M., Wells, and H. G.
SAMUEL HILL, hardware merchant, was born in Maine, February 13, 1837. Learned the tinsmith trade in Boston, 1855 to 1859. Lived in Maine until he came to Kansas. Lived for awhile at Frankfort, then came to Blue Rapids, in 1873. He was a hardware merchant in Maine, and has pursued the same business here. He deals in shelf and heavy hardware, stoves, tinware, and sundries. He is a member of the City Council, belongs to the Masonic Order, and has attained to the Royal Arch. He was married in Buxton, Me., to Miss Lucy Leavitt. They have one child, Pliny, aged seventeen years, and one child died in infancy.
ADONIRAM JUDSON LOOMIS, Postmaster, was born June 21, 1833, in Geneseo, Livingston Co., N. Y. In 1848, his parents moved to Livonia, Wayne Co., Mich. He graduated at the University of Michigan, in the classical course, in 1858, and received his second degree in 1861. First married in December, 1861, and engaged in literary and agricultural pursuits. In 1864 was the Republican candidate for State Senator in the Third Senatorial District of Michigan, but was defeated by his Democratic competitor. He removed to Lapeer, Lapeer Co., Mich., in 1867, where he buried his wife. Was admitted to the bar and engaged in the practice of law there. Served two years as Circuit Court Commissioner, and five years as Justice of the Peace. In 1869 he married Mrs. Louise E. Loring, and in 1873 moved to Kansas, making his home at Blue Rapids. Appointed Postmaster in December, 1876, and still holds that position. He is now serving his second term as Mayor of Blue Rapids. His family consists of his wife and son, Guy, six years of age; Herbert, Nineteen, son by a former marriage, and a step-son, George H. Loring, one of the employees of the Western Historical Company in the compilation of the History of Kansas.
JOHN McPHERSON, real estate agent. This gentleman is a native of Scotland, and was born November 24, 1835. He came to America when five years of age, and settled in Racine, Wis. Thence removed to Milwaukee, and thence to Oconomowoc. He enlisted August 15, 1861, as a private in Company A, of the First Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment. Served in Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee. On April 7, 1863, was promoted to First Lieutenant of the same company for gallant and meritorious service. He was commissioned Captain in December, 1864, and was mustered out January 8, 1865. Capt. McPherson took part in many of the great battles of the Army of the Tennessee and Ohio, among them Stone River, Chicamaugua, and the fierce and terrible battle of the cavalry corps against Wheeler in the Sequatchie Valley, and followed Sherman's victorious standard in his famous campaign from Atlanta to the sea and through the Carolinas. After the war he returned to Oconomowoc, and in 1870 removed to Blue Rapids, in Marshall County, Kansas. He is now in business as a real estate, loan, and insurance agent. In 1870 he and his father-in-law, Mr. Reed, built the La Belle House in Blue Rapids, of which famous hostelry they are now owners and proprietors. Mr. McPherson has held the office of Deputy United States Marshal for the past four years and was recently re-appointed for another term, under Maj. Ben Simpson. Has served three terms as Mayor of Blue Rapids. Mr. McP. was married October 19, 1861, to Miss Emma A. Reed. They have one child, Edward, aged ten years.
W. MEANS, farmer, P. O. Elm Creek, was born in Ray County, Missouri, December 6, 1835. Moved to Platte County. Thence to Marshall Co., Kan., in 1860, and located north of Blue Rapids, same county. Mr. M. has held the office of Township Trustee and County Assessor of Marshall County. Is a member of the Masonic Order. Ws married in Buchanan County, Missouri, December 16, 1856, to Miss L. F. Riley, and is the father of ten children.
DR. DAVID A. PEOPLES was born in Philadelphia November 8, 1854. Was educated in the public schools of his native city, and studied dentistry there. He came to Kansas, and first settled near Sterling, in 1877, removed to Topeka in April, 1889, and thence to Blue Rapids, in 1881. He has a very neat office on the east side of the Public Square, over the postoffice, and has a large and constantly increasing practice. He has won success and, what is better, deserves it, by his professional skill and honest dealing. He was married to Miss Katie Bell, of Philadelphia. They have two children. Dr. and Mrs. Peoples first united with the Nazareth Methodist Episcopal Church, Thirteenth and Vine streets, Philadelphia, in 1872, and are now members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Blue Rapids. The Doctor is J. W. of Blue Rapids Lodge, No. 169, is rapidly advancing in Masonry, and takes great interest in the progress of the Order. He pays visits to Irving semi-monthly and Waterville weekly on his professional business, in both of which places he is held in the highest esteem.
ROBERT ROBERTSON, farmer, P. O. Blue Rapids, was born in 1826, in the State of New York, and emigrated to Marshall County, Kansas, in 1869, locating two miles north of Blue Rapids, and is the owner of over 200 acres of choice land. His wife, Mary A., cooked the first meal ever cooked on the land where the town of Blue Rapids is situated. Mr. R. is a member of the Grange and Masonic Order. He was married in Madison County, N. Y., in 1849, to Mary A. Draper. They have three children -- George, Irene, and Lafayette. He has a nice orchard, consisting of peach, pear, and apple trees.
E. W. WAYNANT, Blue Rapids, was born at Shady Grove, Pa., April 9, 1855. In 1858, he moved with his parents to Epworth, Dubuque Co., Iowa, and from there moved to Jackson County, Kan. He became a resident of Blue Rapids, Marshall Co., Kan., in 1870. Attended college at Highland University in 1873-'4-'5, and was a member of the senior class when he left college. After leaving school he studied law with Guthrie Brothers, of Topeka, Kan., and was admitted to practice in the District Court before Judge Morton, in April, 1877, when he returned to Blue Rapids and engaged in the practice of his profession. In 1877, he was elected Assistant Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives, and was re-elected to the same position in 1879. In 1881, he was elected Assistant Secretary of the Senate, which position he now holds. Mr. Waynant was one of the delegates to the Republican State Congressional Convention, held June 28, 1882, and was one of the secretaries of the convention.
Photo taken about 1908. The native limestone building in the forefront is still in use
South Main Street in foreground with the grade school on the horizon. Photo taken in 1908
The 7th US Cavalry passing through Blue Rapids about 1908. Cavalry is moving north on South Main Street
Fountain Park About 1906
Photo taken in 1939. That looks like the Library in the background
The Wagon Bridge in the foreground was at the north end of Main Street and, until about 1952, was the US 77 bridge. The bridge in the background was the Union Pacific RR bridge which was in use until the early 1960s
Blue Rapids was hit by several major floods of the Little and Big Blue Rivers. The Big Blue cut a completely new channel in the 1903 flood which straightened the river and left the power dam in a backwater.
The 1908 Flood
A large concrete sea wall or dam was built across the main channel to redivert the river back into its old channel and over the power dam. This diversion lasted for 38 years until the great flood of 1941 when the sea wall was breached. The power plant and all other buildings along the river were also inundated in this flood and were subsequently abandoned. Another major flood occurred in 1947 but it was not as devastating as the 1903 and 1941 floods. The area suffered the ravages of another major flood in 1951. As a result of this flood, which devastated cities downstream - Manhattan, Topeka and Kansas City , Tuttle Creek Dam was constructed as a flood control dam. Except in times of high water Tuttle Creek Lake is kept at a low pool. Large areas of the Blue Valley in Marshall County to several miles north of Blue Rapids are in the full pool level and are now, for the most part, closed to anything but recreation by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Marshes in Flood Plain of Tuttle Creek Lake
Several towns were abandoned or moved when the dam was built. A large dike was built around the north side of Blue Rapids, hiding the river and its valley from view from the town except on the northeast side.
STThe "New Bridge"
A new bridge was built across the Blue on the northeast side of town in 1952 and US 77 and K 9 were rerouted from the old bridge directly north of the town. The construction of this bridge made for a significant change in the accessibility of the community and the towns to the west. Prior to the construction of the new bridge US 77 wound its way up through the hills north of town on a narrow dirt road and K 9 followed the river on a twisting narrow dirt road for about a mile and half. Both routes meant that to go north to Marysville or east to Frankfort was a major endeavor. Construction of the new bridge cut off 15 to 20 minutes of travel time to each of those towns.
US 77 Entering Blue Rapids From the East
US 77 on the West Side of Blue Rapids
Between Blue Rapids and Waterville on US 77\
Improved transportation and communication has done the same thing to Blue Rapids as has happened to many similar towns. The major businesses have closed, the school system has now consolidated with Irving and Waterville, and the population has decreased.
Irving Main Street in the early 1900s
New manufacturing businesses have located in the town and there is a flourishing nursery industry located there. Farmers have been blessed with good weather for many years and, although fewer, those who have stayed and grown have flourished. The magnificent old homes and many of the old native stone buildings are being restored as many who were raised in Blue Rapids and moved away to follow their careers have retired and moved back. The circle in the square remains the center piece of the town, The monument which contained the names of the local residents who died in WW1 now includes the names of those who paid the ultimate price in WW11, Korea and Vietnam. Blue Rapids is located at the head of the spectacular Blue Valley and remains the prettiest town in Kansas. I would not have wanted to grow up any place else on earth.
If I were to do this correctly, this history would be filled with footnotes from all of the various sources I used . Very little of what is compiled above are my words. Most of it has been lifted from any source I could find on the internet. By the time I realized how much information I had compiled, I had pretty much forgotten where I got what. If I have offended anyone, I apologize. If you can tell me what is your original text I will be more than happy to footnote it and give you the proper credit.
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