Elwood, Kansas Territory
The sketch here presented is from the St. Joseph Gazette of date December 22, 1901. It presents matter that has not appeared in any of the histories of the County, and, as the Gazette always took
“Situated directly opposite St. Joseph, Elwood is placed by the Hannibal & St. Joseph railroad in direct communication with the most populous and wealthy cities of the East, and by the first of April will be within fifty hours’ travel of New York. It is the starting point of the railroad chartered to Palmetto, on the South Pass route to Salt Lake and California, and of the St. Joseph & Topeka railroad, which will command a great portion of the trade of New Mexico. It lies on the west bank of the Missouri, on the verge of extensive, elevated and thickly wooded bottoms, which require no grading; its streets are broad and rectangular and its
“The rapid growth of Elwood, the principal town in Northern Kansas, is due to its position on the Missouri river directly opposite St. Joseph — the second city in Missouri. Since 1849, when the overland emigration to California commenced, this point has been an important one. The largest overland emigration to Kansas, has been, and continues to go through St. Joseph and Elwood. The government trains and the Salt Lake wail have long made this their starting point. It is the only town in Kansas that can be reached by railroad.”
This is Elwood as it was looked upon forty years ago. The town did not progress as was expected, but, on the other hand, declined for years. The city directory for 1860-61 is owned by Charles M. Betts, a local real estate dealer. It contains 165 names, and among them are found those of persons who later figured prominently in the history of Kansas. The town was at one time known as Roseport, but the name was changed to Elwood a short time previous to the date that the directory was issued. The town was an active rival of St. Joseph in early days. The old directory seeks to advertise the town as an outfitting point in the following terms:
“All persons who have determined to undertake the journey over the plains are quite anxious to learn the best route and the best place for procuring teams and an outfit. An experience of 10 years has fixed upon the route beginning at Elwood, Kansas, (directly opposite St. Joseph, Mo.) and proceeding thence by Ft. Kearney and the valley of the Platte as the shortest, safest and best route from the Missouri river to the great West. Elwood, Kan., is connected with St. Joseph by the best ferry on the Missouri; it has first-class hotels and large business houses, where everything in the line of provisions and outfitting articles can be obtained at low prices. Oxen, wagons, mules, tents, blankets, and everything needed for a trip over the plains can be bought better at Elwood than at any other point on the frontier.
“Elwood is situated at the eastern terminus of the old California road, which has been the route taken by the overland travelers since 1849 and is now established as the best road to the gold mines of the Rocky Mountains. The road from Elwood to the prairie has been recently entirely repaired and is now a first-class road in all kinds of weather. Elwood is situated in a rich valley where grass shoots early and those who wish to spend a few days in getting ready for a trip to the mines will find excellent camping ground there, and plenty of wood to burn and grass for cattle. Elwood is the terminus of the Elwood & Marysville railroad, which is already graded for many miles. It is expected to be in running order to Troy, twelve miles west, in a few months. It is the first railroad built in Kansas.”
In the lowlands of eastern Kansas, Elwood has peacefully slumbered since the optimistic views expressed in the foregoing. The war put a quietus, for a time on the railroad prospects and the equipment of the one lone railroad of the state was returned to St. Joseph, whence it was first taken on a ferry.
It was in Elwood that men who made the long trip to the Eldorado of the Rocky Mountains purchased their
The historical town has put on new life during the last few weeks. When the announcement was made that the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad intended to build a bridge across the river to Elwood, the people of the hamlet awoke from their slumber of nearly half a century. Many of them had hoped, during all of those years, that the tide which had swept on to the great west would
The bill authorizing the construction of the Rock Island bridge has been introduced in the
From the appendix of the old directory of the town are gathered the names of men who were well known to the early settlers of St. Joseph. Some of them have since become famous in other parts of the state and country. The city government of Elwood in 1861 was represented by the following officials.
There was but one incorporated company in Elwood in 1861. It was the Elwood Building association, the office of which was located at the corner of Sixth and Douglas streets. The concern was incorporated in 1860 by D. W. Wilder, A. L. Lee, Charles H. Hatcher.
There was one regular church at Elwood. At St. Mark’s Episcopal church, located on Foreman street, between
The business directory of the town in 1861 shows the following number of persons engaged in different business enterprises at Elwood. Insurance agents, 1; real estate agents, 1; attorneys at law, 3; bankers, 2; bank note detector, 1; billiard balls, 2; blacksmiths, 2; breweries, 1; brickmaker, 1; butcher, 1; carpenters, 6; coffee house, 1; dentist, 1; draper and tailor, 1; druggist, 1; drygoods stores, 4; gardener, 1; grist mill, 1; groceries, 3; hotels 2; justices of the peace, 1; livery stable 1; meat market, 1;
John T. Warburton, justice of the peace of Washington township, is one of the men who remain to recall the early fortunes of those who settled Elwood. Mr. Warburton came to St. Joseph in the fall of 1850 and moved to Elwood in
Elwood at that time was almost as large as St. Joseph. A large hotel stood on the river bank on the Kansas side, and as the current of the river shifted, the ground began to crumble away from the foundation of the structure, which subsequently made necessary the tearing down of the building.
The hotel covered a block of ground. Mr. Warburton was well
Mr. Warburton was one of the men who pulled on the rope that brought the first
The engine was placed upon the track and ran back and forth over the rails, midst, the cheers of the throng of spectators, to most of whom the mass of iron and steel was a revelation. When the track had been completed to Wathena, a free excursion was run to that town. All day long the woods was crowded with an excited throng of people, who thought they saw
This was the beginning of the St. Joseph, Roseport & Topeka railroad and its equipment in the state of Kansas then amounted to the engine “Albany” and three flat cars. The road changed hands at different times and became a part of the St. Joseph & Denver City, now the St. Joseph & Grand Island.
Elwood, formerly “Roseport,” one of the principal towns of Doniphan county, is located on the Missouri river opposite St. Joseph, Mo., with which it is connected by bridges. It is at the extreme eastern point of the county, in Washington township, on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, and on the St. Joseph & Grand Island railroads, 14 miles east of Troy, the county seat. A trading post was established on the site of Elwood in 1852 by Henry Thompson, who in 1856 sold 160 acres to the “Roseport Town company” which had been organized by St. Joseph capitalists. The consideration paid Thompson was $10,000. The town grew rapidly in its early years and was a dangerous rival to St. Joseph. A hotel of 75 rooms was built and enjoyed liberal patronage. In 1858 there were ten stores, all lines of business were well represented. By 1859 the population was 2,000, and the town might have outstripped its neighbor had not the inroads of the Missouri river washing away acres of the best-improved property, discouraged capital and enterprise. The first store was opened by A. N. Campbell, in 1856, and the first sawmill by William High in the same year. The next year Daniel W. Wilder, author of Wilder’s Annals of Kansas, opened a real estate office, and James P. Brace was made postmaster of the newly established post office. In 1860 the town was incorporated as a “city of the first class.” The first company of the first regiment sent into the Civil war by Kansas was organized here. In 1876 the town was reorganized and an election held which resulted in the selection of J. W. Montgomery as mayor and the appointment of J. R. Stone as city clerk. The population in 1910 was 636. It has a money order postoffice, telegraph and express offices, telephone connections, graded public schools, and a good local trade. Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc.