Post Civil War Times at Dragoon Creek

The settlers along Dragoon creek received their mail at the post office of Wilmington until the fall of 1869, when a new mail route was established from Burlingame, running up Dragoon creek, to Alma, the county seat of Wabaunsee county, a distance of about thirty-eight miles. A post office was located on the northeast quarter of section 28, township 14 south, range 13 east. The Post-office Department at Washington, D. C, requested the settlers to designate a name for the post office and nominate a postmaster. At a called meeting of the settlers the name New Lexington was selected for the post office and John Shaw named for postmaster as he was then living on the quarter section designated as the site for the post office. The nominations were sent to the Post-office Department for approval, and .John Shaw was commissioned postmaster, but a new name was requested for the post office. The reason the name New Lexington was selected was that John McCoy had settled on the quarter section now designated for the post office in the spring of 1857, and as he had previously preempted a hundred-and-sixty-acre tract of land he was debarred from preempting a second tract as a farm. One of the provisions of the preemption act was that a company of five or more persons could preempt two quarter sections, or three hundred and twenty acres of land, for a town site. Mr. McCoy had therefore organized a town company and selected the northeast quarter of section 28 and the southeast quarter of section 21, preempting it in behalf of the town company and naming it New Lexington. He had the town site surveyed and platted, but no improvements were ever made and no lots were ever sold. The site was never put to any use other than for farm purposes. It was a town site only in name, and in 1871 the streets and alleys were vacated by an act of the legislature. 1

After the Post-office Department rejected the name of New Lexington for the post office, a public meeting of the settlers was again called to meet at the schoolhouse for the purpose of selecting a new name. At this meeting Isaiah Harris proposed the name of Harveyville, in honor of Henry Harvey and his sons, George M. and Samuel B., who were the first settlers. This motion voiced the sentiments of those present and was unanimously adopted, and the name Harveyville was forwarded to the Post-office Department and accepted as the name of the post office. In the spring of 1870 John Shaw-resigned as postmaster, whereupon the post office was moved about a mile west to Caleb J. Harvey’s home, and he was commissioned postmaster. He held the office until 1880, when a railroad from Burlingame to Manhattan, running through the Harveyville settlement, was built. As the railroad crossed the farm of the Walton brothers, they laid out a town, and the railroad company built a depot there. Caleb J. Harvey having resigned as postmaster, the post office was moved to the new town site, and Alpheus

Glasscock appointed postmaster. He served until his death in 1881, when Alonzo Walton was commissioned.

On the mail route first established between Burlingame and Alma the mail was carried horseback. J. H. Stubbs had the contract, and during the period between November, 1870, and July, 1871, Stephen J. Spear carried the mail, making weekly round trips between the two towns. On July 1, 1871, Volney Love received the contract, and a two-horse team was found necessary to handle the increasing mail and to accommodate passenger traffic. Love secured permission to reverse the route, making it from Alma to Burlingame, leaving Alma on Fridays and returning from Burlingame on Saturdays. This weekly service continued until August, 1880, when, the Manhattan, Alma & Burlingame railroad being built, a daily service was established. Mr. Love also had the contract for carrying the mail from Alma to Council Grove, and in 1873 Mr. Spear carried over this route.

In August, 1868, George Wood and family were living in a log cabin on James L. Thomson’s farm, section 24, township 14, range 12. Wood was a colored man and was working at Burlingame, some thirteen miles from his home. He used a pony to ride back and forth, usually going to Burlingame Monday morning and returning home Saturday night.

Late one Saturday afternoon, August 15, several men, driving wagons, arrived in the neighborhood, claiming to be Kentuckians in search of government land. Deciding to go into camp, they placed one of their wagons almost directly in front of the slip bars to the Thomson pasture used by Wood, and tied the horses to the wagon. About 11 o’clock that night Wood returned from Burlingame, rode up to the entrance of the pasture, let down the bars, and while leading his pony inside was fired on by the men under the wagon. As soon as they saw him fall, they notified Mr. Thomson that they had wounded a colored man. Wood was immediately taken to his home and family, where he died the next afternoon. William Harvey and the writer were with him at the time of his death. Before he died he told how he was shot, stating that the men under the wagon never spoke to him – but shot him without warning. Two of the men were arrested on a charge of murder, their preliminary trial being held before James M. Johnson, justice of the peace, Morris Walton being prosecuting witness. County attorney Whittemore conducted the prosecution, while James M. Rodgers was attorney for the defendants. At the trial the defendants claimed that they believed the man was trying to steal their horses. They were held under a three thousand dollar bond for their appearance at the next term of district court to face a charge of murder. Being unable to furnish bond they were taken to Topeka and placed in the Shawnee county jail. Some time later they were released on a writ of habeas corpus and left the state.

By an act of the legislature of 1855 the boundaries of Richardson county were established. 2 In 1859 the legislature changed the name to Wabaunsee, and under the provisions of the same act the first county officers were elected. The superintendent of public instruction organized and established the boundaries and numbered the school districts, the Dragoon creek district being numbered twelve. In 1862 the newly elected district officers procured a site for a schoolhouse on the south side of the northeast quarter of section 28, and Joseph Johnson built the first school building, which was of frame. Miss Susan Andree was the first teacher after the district was organized, and Mrs. E. C. D. Cowee was also one of the early teachers in the district.

In 1877 a two-acre tract on the southwest corner of the northwest quarter of section 27 was purchased of Samuel Woods, and a stone school building eighteen by thirty-two feet in size was built.

The first school building was used on Sundays for Sunday-school and preaching. In February, 1878, the Friends bought the old schoolhouse in district number 12, and moved it to the northwest quarter of section 21, using it as a meetinghouse until they erected a new building about the year 1881.

In 1891 a site was bought in the Garinger addition to Harveyville, by the members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and a church building erected thereon. Rev. J. H. Zabriska preached in this locality from March, 1888, to March, 1893, and besides had the distinction of being one of the carpenters employed in the construction of the new church building.


Spear, Stephen Jackson. Reminiscences of the early settlement of Dragoon Creek, Wabaunsee County. Reprinted from Vol. XIII, Collections Kansas State Historical Society. 1915.

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  1. New Lexington was partly vacated by act of legislature approved March 3, 1871. – See Session Laws 1871, p. 341. And finally vacated by act approved March 8, 1905. – See Session Laws 1905, p. 880.[]
  2. Richardson county was named for William P. Richardson, a native of Kentucky, and a senator from the Eighth council district in the territorial legislatures of 1855 and 1857. See also Kansas State Historical Collections, vol. 8, p. 451.[]

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