City of Sabetha, Kansas

Other Early Enterprises


The first newspaper in Sabetha was the “Advance”, established May 7, 1874 by George W. Larzelere and James H. Wright.   Mr. Larzelere withdrew in November 6, 1874.  On February 4, 1875, William L. Palmer joined J.H. Wright in its publication, but remained only six weeks.  J.L. Peltier was connected with the paper for a few weeks, dating from August of the same year.   On July 28, 1876, Wright sold the paper to E.A. Davis, who continued its publication until January 18. 1878, when it was discontinued.   The “Advance” was republican in politics.  The Nemaha County “Republican” was established at Sabetha, on October 5, 1876 by James F. Clough.  On the first day of June during the following year, J.C. Hebbard, formerly of Seneca and later of Topeka, became Associate Editor, a position which he held for about one year.


It is rather difficult to determine what church organization deserves precedence in the religious history of Sabetha, because several of its societies are the direct outgrowth of those established at Albany in the early history of Nemaha County.  Of these, the Congregational denomination was undoubtedly the first of obtain a foothold in this vicinity, a Congregational church being organized at Albany, on September 26, 1858.  Its early history will be found in the proper place.

The Sabetha Congregational Church was organized in Sabetha in 1871.  In 1874, the society erected a frame church building, at a cost of $4,000 and with seating capacity for 600.  Rev. O.A. Thomas was pastor, and the membership in 1883 was 200.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in the old schoolhouse at Sabetha, in 1868, by Rev. F.W. Meyer.  In 1874, the society erected a church building at a cost of $3,000 and with a seating capacity for 300.  The number of members enrolled in 1883 was about 175.

The Sabetha Baptist Church was organized in 1871 with about eight members.  Its first minister was Rev. Granville Gates.   The society erected a church building in 1875 at a cost of $1,200.  Its seating capacity was 200.  The number of members was 100 in the year 1883.

The German Reformed Church was organized in the year 1880, with thirty charter members.  Its pastor was Rev. D.J. Greenewald.   The society worshiped in the Baptist Church.

A Catholic society, numbering about twenty members, received occasional ministrations for about two years from Rev. Father Timothy Luber.  In 1882 a frame church building was constructed, at a cost of $2,500.   It had a seating capacity for 400.


Central City Lodge, No. 125, I.O.O.F. — A charter was granted on October 16, 1875 to Theodore Pope, L.H. Wright, C.B. Richmond, J.C. Sherrard, J.F. Moon, J.W. Irwin, Samuel Ludwig, John Liver, W.J. Robbins, John Palmer, O.F. Manville, J.S. Elliott, W.B. Kurtz, and J.A. Fulton, as members of the organization.  The first meetings were held in what was then Miller’s Hall.   Later meetings of the Lodge were held in Richmond’s Hall, and finally in the Opera Hall.  In 1883, its roster showed 85 members.

Sabetha Lodge, No. 162, A. F. & A. M. — On October 21, 1875, a charter was granted to Willis Slosson, Master;  John E. Corwin, Sr. Warden; and Jeremiah E. Black, Jr. Warden, to establish and control the Lodge.   Its original membership was nineteen.  The officers in 1883 were:  J. Swearengen, D.D. Wickens, H.C. Haines, J.S. Love and G.H. Adams.  The Lodge by the year of 1883 had increased its membership to around eighty and met in Whittenhall’s Hall, in Opera block.

Excelsior Lodge, No. 2272, K. of H. — This Lodge of the Knights of Honor was instituted August 4, 1880.  The charter was granted on the 19th day of the same month to James F. Clough, D.D. Wickens, T.K. Masheter, G. C. McGuire, A.D. Hook, John Liver, W.H. Whelan and others.  Its original membership was twenty-four.  The membership in 1883 was twenty five.  The Lodge used the Opera Hall for its meetings.

Sabetha G.A.R., No. 175 — It was organized in 1883 with 45 members.  The Grand Army of the Republic Hall was built by popular subscription of $8,300.  The Hall had a seating capacity of 500.  The scenery, painted by a Chicago artist at a cost of $2,900, decorated the interior of the Hall.   The Hall was one of the largest and finest in northern Kansas, 124 feet long by 44 feet wide.  Its membership included some of the most prominent in business and enterprise.  In 1883 its officers were:  Commander, J.R. Price; Senior Vice Commander, J.F. Clough; Junior Vice Commander, T.K. Masheter; Adjutant, Edward Slosson;   Quartermaster, W.G. Sargent; and Sergeant, I.R. Collins.

W.C.T.U. — In April, 1878, a temperance movement was inaugurated in Sabetha, by Rev. H.W. Shaw, Rev. W.H. Underwood, L. R. Wheeler, O. Fountain, S. Slosson and G.H. Adams.  Much good was done within a short time.  The encouragement of the citizens of Sabetha was sufficient to induce the permanent organization of a branch of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.   The list of charter members included:  Mrs. T.W. Wickens, Mrs. H.W. Shaw, Mrs. W.H. Underwood, Mrs. O. Fountain, Mrs. Dr. Slosson and Mrs. W.B. Slosson, assisted by twenty-six others who were equally devoted.  In September, 1878, with the help of the Union, a Band of Hope was organized.  The membership of the Union in 1883 was sixty.

Sabetha Library Association — In 1871, this association was organized, with S.W. Brooke, President; Emma Brady, Secretary.   Its membership included, among others, J.T. Brady, G.M. Edson, Mr. and Mrs. Prof. Philbrook, H. Tarr, Samuel Slosson and D.L. Gebhart.  About twenty books were donated and purchased as the nucleus to a library.  Until 1879, no changes were made regarding the method of conducting the association.  Its only income was the yearly fees and fines imposed.  On January 1 of that year, the society was incorporated under the laws of the State, with a capital stock of $1,000, divided into shares of $10 each.  The Board of Directors in 1883 were:  I.F. Collins, G.C. McGuire, C.L. Sherwood, J. F. Clough, and H. Tarr.  Its executive officers were:  R.C. Bassett, President:  H. Tarr, Secretary:  and C.L. Sherwood, Librarian and Treasurer.  The library, which occupied a part of Sherwood & Marshall’s drug store, consisted of 650 volumes in all departments of literature.  Their use was free to its stockholders, but a yearly fee of $2.00 was charged to all others.

Sabetha Cornet Band — The band was organized in February 1882.  Its members included:  J.R. McKee, John Muxworthy, G.J. Adams, C.R. Gardner, G.E. Palmer, N.L. Mitchell, J.W. Cunnick, G.W. Myers and M. Turner.

Public Buildings

The Sabetha Opera House, an attractive two-story brick building, was built in 1877, by W.S. White, W.M. Walker and the Sabetha State Bank, the latter owning a corner room of the first floor.  Its entire cost was $8,000.  Its upper floor was divided into two large halls, known as the Opera Hall and the Odd Fellows’ Hall.  The latter was occupied by the Odd Fellows’ Lodge and also used as a public hall.  The Opera Hall was used for miscellaneous purposes.

The first post office at Sabetha was established on March 18, 1858, with Captain A.W. Williams serving as postmaster.   Jesse D. Waddill became the incumbent on April 23, 1864.  The post office was discontinued for a short period on February 3, 1865.  It was re-established on November 26, 1866, with Harvey Seburn as postmaster.  The next commission was issued to John C. Perry on February 7, 1868, who gave way to David L. Gebhart on January 5, 1871.   Samuel Slosson was appointed postmaster on March 19, 1873, the next incumbent being Thomas K. Masheter on January 4, 1875.  Mr. Masheter served for less than a year, being replaced by Samuel Slosson on December 2, 1875.  J.F. Clough, proprietor of the Nemaha County “Republican” was appointed on August 3, 1877.  For many years the mails were received and delivered at and from various store buildings, the office being frequently moved.  Records show that one of the first post offices in Sabetha was located at 409 Main.  John C. Perry was the postmaster who served at that post office.  In 1877, it was situated in a brick building which was later occupied by G.H. Adams, and was moved in September 1881, to the east end of the Sabetha House.

Sabetha received daily mail from the east and west, via the St. Joseph & Western Railroad, and also a daily mail by stage, from the Central Branch of the Union Pacific, which operated in the southern section of Nemaha County.


For years as early as 1858, travelers were entertained by Arthur W. Williams, who would deserve the title of Sabetha’s first hotel keeper.  His frame structure, which he devoted exclusively to hotel purposes, was subsequently purchased by the town company in 1870, and leased by Albert West, who managed it as leasee until 1874, when he bought the title.  Mr. West kept the West’s Hotel for five years, and “fed ‘em well if I did have mean accommodations,” as he said.  The hotel was a patchwork affair, comprising seven additions or stories on the ground as they were then known.  In later years, Mr. West devoted himself to the practice of veterinary surgery.

The Sabetha House was build by the town company in 1871.  It was managed by W.I. Robbins for a time.  Finally, in 1879, it was purchased by Jackson Swearengen.  The Sabetha House was a handsome, three story brick building.

Hook’s House was built in 1870.   It burned down on February 7, 1873 and was later rebuilt.  W.H. Hook was the proprietor of the large frame structure, conveniently situated to the depot.  His good management made the hotel the headquarters of commercial men in Sabetha.


A private institution, known as the Sabetha Exchange Bank, was established in 1873, by M.E. Mather; J.S. Lemon, and I.T. Hosea, of St. Joseph, becoming partners in 1875.  On January 1, 1877, the bank closed.  The failure of this enterprise was attributed to poor crops and the grasshopper panic, as well as the fear of creditors.

The Sabetha State Bank, organized early in 1876, was opened for business on March 6, of that year.  Its incorporators were J.S. Lemon, I.T. Hosea, Edwin Knowles, Willis Brown, and J.E. Black, these men comprising its first Board of Directors.  The officers were:  Willis Brown, President; J.E. Black, Vice-President; Edwin Knowles, Cashier.  The bank occupied the corner of Opera block.  It was built and elegantly fitted up by the company in 1877.  It contained a Hall burglar proof safe, with improved Yale time lock.


In 1871, the first warehouse was built by two firms, Slosson Brothers and Brady & Collins.  The latter firm sold its interest in the business shortly after the completion of the building to L.R. Wheeler.   Mr. Wheeler with the Slossons managed it until 1881, when it was sold to J.E. Price.  Mr. Price immediately converted the warehouse into an elevator, at an expense of several thousand dollars.  A twenty-five horse power engine and the newest and best machinery known to grain dealers were installed.  These improvements enabled him to elevate, clean, weigh and load for shipment 800 bushels of grain per hour, a capacity which was frequently tested.

The Sabetha Flouring Mills were built in 1872 by L.J. Sprinkle, who sold it to Smith & Kurtz.  The latter sold his interest to Willis M. Slosson, who later bought Smith’s interest also.  Other owners in direct succession were:  W.E. Stitt, L.B. Brinson, I.N. Speer & Co. and finally Speer and Hubburd in May, 1882.  The mill during the year of 1882 was remodeled, new and improved machinery added, together with an additional run of burrs, making three in all.  An elevator was also constructed in connection with the mill, with a capacity of 18,000 bushels.  All of the machinery included in the mill and elevator was operated by a forty-horse power engine.  In 1883, the Superintendent in charge was George C. Maguire;  the head miller was J.C. Hendrie.

The Gregg Brothers & Co., a grain company of St. Joseph, Mo., owned and operated at Sabetha, was the largest grain elevator on the St. Joseph & Western Railroad southeast of Hastings, and west of St. Joseph.   It was built in 1875 by William Gatton and subsequently sold in 1876 to M.E. Mather.  Three years later, the ownership was transferred to H. Gregg.  The elevator was solidly built, and it had a capacity of 30,000 bushels of corn and small grain.  E.P. Neal was in charge of the elevator.  Thirteen car loads of grain could be cleaned, weighed and shipped from here in one day.

Civil War History

In August of 1861, Captain A.W. Williams of Sabetha, succeeded in securing 150 volunteers from the counties of Marshall, Nemaha, and Brown.  These men went into camp near Sabetha where they remained for about a month at Captain Williams’ expense making use of improvised barracks.  The following month, they proceeded to Leavenworth where they were sworn in, 100 of them as members of Company D, of the Eighth Kansas Volunteers, and fifty of them in other companies.  The other commissioned officers of Company D were R. Todd, First Lieutenant and John L. Graham of Albany, Second Lieutenant.  Of the 150 men, Nemaha County contributed about one-third of the roster.

Later, Hon. George Graham enlisted about thirty men from Nemaha County, the squad dividing when it reached Leavenworth.  The members connected themselves with various regiments, notably the Ninth and Thirteenth Kansas.  The county had about forty men in the Seventh, and seventy men in the Thirteenth Regiments.  Company D,. Eighth Kansas, was detached for service along the border, being stationed at Fort Kearney for a while, and later in Atchison.  At the end of the war, it was in Texas when ordered home for discharge.  The Thirteenth Regiment was mustered out at Little Rock, Ark., in June, 1865, the Nemaha County men arriving home in July.

In addition to the 200 volunteers from Nemaha County who enlisted early in the action, there was a call in July, 1864 for a regiment of 100 days’ men, known as the Seventeenth Kansas.  The quota demanded from Nemaha County numbered eighteen.  Eight men enlisted and ten were drafted, the only draft made in the county.  Nearly all of the able-bodied citizens of the county were in service, Sabetha having but one man left.  These men were taken to Leavenworth and discharged the same month.

November 3, 1865, a reception was held for the returning soldiers in Seneca.  The welcoming address was delivered by Gen. Sherry and the response by Hon. George Graham.  These opening exercises were concluded with a banquet and merry-making.

Nemaha County did her duty, and more than her duty in the Civil War.  Brown and Nemaha Counties sent more volunteers to the war than they had voters.

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