Thursday, October 4, 2012

Settling Kansas 1875

The period from 1860 - 1870 is a little cloudy. In 1860, Valentine Worley Van Huss and his wife Lucinda (nee Carter) were living in eastern Tennessee near Elizabethton.

[The middle name "Worley" comes from Catherine Worley, born 1769 in Rowan County, North Carolina, died 1796, Wythe County, Virginia. She married Valentine Felty VanHuss in Wythe Co. Va.. He was born February 14, 1768 in Rowan Co. North Carolina, and died March 1, 1858 in Johnson County, Tennessee. They had several children, including Matthias, father of Valentine Worley VanHuss.]

Valentine Worley and Lucinda had at least five sons, including, James M., Daniel S. Robert E., Isaac, and John Finley.

By 1870, Valentine and his wife  Lucinda were to be found in Johnson County, Kansas near Stillwell, Kansas. Lucinda died and is buried in the Aubry cemetery.

In 1875, James M. Van Huss took out a claim on land in Butler County. The land was part of the Osage Reserve for which he paid $1.25 an acre. He purchased 160 acres.

In 1881, brother Daniel arrived and took out a similar claim on land in Glencoe Township.

Redo the following section.

[Read more about the Osage Indians. Read the Kansas Historical Quarterly about the Osage Removal. One last article, Kansas Settlers on the Osage Reserve (and Laura Ingalls Wilder)]

The title records are kept in the Butler County Courthouse in El Dorado, Kansas. See the Registrar of Deeds on the ground floor.

[Note.  What is Range Township Section on a Plat?

Property in deeds are identified by Range, Township & Section. For instance, the 1875 title to James M. VanHuss is described as 160 acres of the southwest quarter of 33 26 6. The three numbers 33 26 and 6 signify the section, township, and range, going from smallest to largest. A full section is 640 acres. James received title to the southwest corner.
Butler County 1905 map, showing range, township, and section
Read across the top line to find the range, then down the left side to identify the township. Converge the two lines and you end up on Little Walnut Township; then go to section 33.

Read the Wikipedia definition of a section.]


The year 1874 was known as the Grasshopper Year when billions of grasshoppers descended from the skies and ate every plant in sight.

The insects arrived in swarms so large they blocked out the sun and sounded like a rainstorm. Crops were eaten out of the ground, as well as the wool from live sheep and clothing off people's backs. Paper, tree bark and even wooden tool handles were devoured.
KSHS, Grasshopper Plague of 1874

That anyone would come to Kansas after a plague of biblical proportions is a testament of the spirit of man.


The cursory title search that I have done starts with the period 1875 when James M. VanHuss first received a US Patent to land. The deed identifies 160 acres consisting of the southwest 1/4 of 33 26 6. You can see from the map above that the quarter section of 160 acres is just east of the town of Leon, Kansas.

1881 - 1882

Daniel arrived in 1881 and received a US Patent to land in 29 27 8. Robert E. and his wife Lizzie came the following year in September of 1882, and received title (husband and wife received separate titles) to land in the same section. This land is located in Hickory Township, just to the north and west of Beaumont, Kansas. As you approach Beaumont on Highway 54, the land will be just to the north off the highway. If you get out and look, you will find the ancient stone foundation to a house and a metal water pump.

1885 - 1887

In the following years, 1885 and 1887, the brothers transfer titles to other brothers, specifically E.L. VanHuss (wife?) and Isaac.


John Finley VanHuss does not appear until 1898. John Finley VanHuss is my wife's great grandfather. John Finley buys in section 30 27 8, which is south and west of Beaumont, Kansas. He also buys lots in Beaumont and Latham, Kansas. The town physician in Beaumont is Dr. William Phillips. His daughter will marry John's son Fred. Their son Robert (Bob) is my wife's father.

Butler County 1905 showing land of John Finley VanHuss and his wife Josie.

The father, Valentine VanHuss did not acquire land until 1902, when he received a US Patent from President Theodore Roosevelt. The land was in section 29 27 8, like that of sons Daniel and Isaac.


In 1902, John Finley purchased several lots in Latham and Beaumont, Kansas. Thus, he might appear in this 1905 photo taken of the main street of Latham, Kansas at the "J. L. McFall Buys and Sells Everything" store. It is two days before Christmas in 1905, J. L. McFall the gentleman standing in the left half of the image, is giving away prizes for cash purchases.

Latham, Kansas 1905 looking east

As images become available, I will come back and insert them into this post. Keep in mind that it will need updating.