Wednesday, April 8, 2020

1st & Humphrey


Along the northern banks of the Kansas River in Shawnee County, across from the area of Valencia and Auburn Road, is a dead end road. A cluster of buildings surround this dead end road and the county appraisers office list the property as farming and ranch. Initially part of the Pottawatomie Reservation, the first settlement on this land was Joseph and Louis Ogee who began operating a ferry on the site in 1853.

Louis Ogee was one of the earliest settlers of Shawnee County and Silver Lake. He helped write and approve the Pottawatomie Treaty and was very generous toward the Baptist church. He was an affectionate parent and husband and a good friend to the poor. Ogee died in 1880 of a cancerous tumor that he had on his neck. He is buried in Silver Lake Cemetery.

Nearby, on the other side of section, Sidney W. Smith started a ferry about 1852. Smith arrived in Uniontown, a small trading town a couple miles southeast of present-day Willard, in 1848. It was the first rope ferry across the Kansas River above Wyandotte. Smith ran this ferry for about eight years before it was abandoned. A road from the ferry led to the Pottawatomie Mission. According to newspaper reports, Smith's Ferry was the most used ferry by travelers heading to Santa Fe and California.
Notice for Smith's Ferry, Kansas Tribune, Dec. 13, 1858.
The land continued to be part of the Pottawatomie Reservation until 1859. The first landowner was a man named Raglin and Polk and Lasley in 1873 although it probably had owners before then. By the turn of the century, the land was divided more, having five owners splitting approximately 100 acres.
F(?) Stoher
? Ward
J(?) Ivers(?)
P(?) Stoher
Albert Henry Shafer (1846-1898)

In the 1913 plat book of Shawnee County, this section of land had new owners. John H. Ginter (1862-1936, buried in Dover Cemetery), Morrison Hewey, J.E. Kinnard, Clinton O. Shafer (1881-1950, buried in Prairie Home Cemetery), C.L. Mohler (1884-1977, buried in Prairie Home Cemetery), and Eri Hansford. In the 1880s, sorghum became a popular crop. In 1888, the Topeka Sugar Mill opened on the south bank of the Kansas River. Hansford built a pontoon bridge across the river for him and his fellow farmers to use to get to the mill. The bridge was destroyed the following year and Hansford installed three cable ferry boats. A year after it opened, the Topeka Sugar Mill burned down but was operating again in 1890. The endeavor was still shortlived as a succession of bad crops and economic depression closed the mill in 1893. In 1902, Hansford untied the cables from his ferry and the boats were lost in the 1903 flood.

Hansford continued farming sorghum, using his own mill, until 1917 when it was destroyed by a tornado. He attempted to reopen it years later but it failed, again, soon after. In 1920, Hansford began Riverside Camp, a summer resort with 50 cabins and a large dancing pavilion. Sadly, it was nearly destroyed in the 1935 flood and while some cabins were rebuilt, it was never as successful. In 1946, the pavilion was struck by lightening and burned down.
Cabins at Riverside Camp, 1925-1929. From Kansas State Historical Society.
In August 1905, Hansford's son, Allen, was accused of statutory rape by Minnie Worrell, who was 17-years-old to Allen's 25. Worrell was living and working at the Hansford's as a domestic. Hansford, being a wealthy man, fought tooth and nail for his son. Allen was sentenced to five to 21 years in the penitentiary, which was upheld by the state supreme court. Worrell then brought a $15,000 suit against Hansford and a doctor but she was only awarded $500. Allen Hansford was pardoned by Governor Walter Stubbs after only serving about eight months of his sentence. Allen died January 12, 1920 of neuritis, leaving a wife and child. Eri Hansford died in 1941 at the age of 92.

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