Kansas Land Office

Harper's Weekly, 1874

Selling town lots was one of the quickest ways to wealth in territorial Kansas. In Lecompton, at the top of its boom in 1857, the town company sold surburban lots for $100 each, and central city lots for between $500 and $1,000. After the territorial capital was lost, houses were moved to Lawrence and to the countryside, sidewalks broke up and weeds and brush grew in the streets. Abandoned town lots were easily picked up for $25 each. [Cutler, History, Douglas County]

Many cities were incorporated by the Bogus Legislature and many other town companies were chartered. Town companies with a legislative charter had assurance that their title to the town site and right to sell lots had legal sanction. Many town companies in Kansas, like the Topeka Association, had not waited for authority and were busily selling lots anyway. [Treadway, Holliday, 116]

Cities had no legal existence without legislative incorporation and therefore had no power to tax or enforce ordinances. Although the Bogus Legislature incorporated the town of Lawrence, [Council Journal, 197] its free-state citizens rejected the charter and continued as a voluntary association until the 1858 free-state legislature gave Lawrence a new charter. The free-state city fathers said of the proffered charter:

"Under ordinary circumstances, the more regular method of proceeding would be to obtain a charter from the territorial authorities. As the territorial government, however, in no sense represents the people of Kansas, was not elected by them, and can have no right to legislate for them, we cannot accept of a charter at its hands." [Blackmar, History Vol.2, 860]

During the interim, an early resident wrote, the town functioned well operating a free public school and:

"(confining) itself to suggestions without any pretense of power to enforce. Its suggestions, however, were quietly acquiesced in, the streets kept clean and the back ways clear. It effected all it was intended for, and yet did so unobtrusively." [ Cordley, Lawrence, 159]

As part of its plan for a future pro-slavery Kansas, the Bogus Legislature chartered town companies and incorporated cities the members thought would bolster the cause and neglected most free-state communities. Often the members and their friends were shareholders in the town companies and hoped to personally profit.

Incorporated Cities

Atchison [Council Journal, 103]
Legislator John Stringfellow was among the pro-slavery town fathers. The corporation was granted the privilege of holding land "not to exceed 640 acres" and the stock of the company was to be regarded as personal property. [Blackmar, History, Atchison]
Kickapoo [Council Journal, 90]
Settled in 1854 as a rival to Leavenworth by citizens of Weston, Missouri. In June 1854 the town had 1,500 people, many of whom worked as civilian laborers at Fort Leavenworth. [Fitzgerald, Ghost Towns, Vol. 3, 31]
Lecompton [House Journal, 309]
The town company was organized in the winter of 1854-1855 with pro-slavery presidential appointees Judge Lecompte, President; John Halderman, Secretary and Daniel Woodson, Treasurer. In the spring of 1855, six hundred acres were surveyed and streets and blocks laid out. With political connections in the Bogus Legislature, the terrritorial capital was secured and "Lecompton boomed like no other town in Kansas." [ Fitzgerald, Ghost Towns, Vol. 1, 3]
Paola [Council Journal, 228]
Legislator W. A. Heiskell proposed incorporation of his town, early regarded as a pro-slavery stronghold. [Craik, Southern Interest, 350]
Leavenworth [House Journal, 142]
The city was organized June 13, 1854 by 32 people from Weston, Missouri representing both free- state and pro-slavery positions. George W. Gist was the first president and H. Miles Moore, secretary. [Craik, Southern Interest, 350]
Benicia [Council Journal, 251]
In Douglas county on the south bank of the Kansas river about three miles southeast of Lecompton and five and one-half miles northwest of Lawrence. It once had a population of 20 persons. [11KHQ 45]
Iola [Council Journal 239]
A townsite in Doniphan County, not the later city in Allen County. Located near the Wolf River, across from the community of Fanning. [Gray, Doniphan, Ch.3]

Town Companies

Tecumseh Town Association [Council Journal, 239]
The site on which the village was built was selected by Indian Trader T. N. Stinson for a home in 1852. A large number of Missourians and other southerners joined the community in 1854, and 320 acre town site was surveyed. During the winter of 1854, a saw mill and store were opened and the first sermon was preached in a tent. Stinson established a ferry large enough for three wagons and a good road was built to the ferry. The Bogus Legislature made the town the county seat of Shawnee County and some effort was made to make it the territorial capital, as well. District and Probate Court was held in Tecumseh during the spring and fall of 1856, and the village "became headquarters for the most distinguished Pro-slavery legal talent in the district." [Cutler, History, Shawnee County]
Douglas Town Company [House Journal, 300]
Located ten miles above Lawrence on the Kansas River, opposite the Delaware River. The land was owned by slave owner Paris Ellison who was joined by a group including legislator M. W. McGee in forming the company. The site was too close to Lecompton and by May 1857 had dwindled to one house, probably Ellison's. [Fitzgerald, Ghost Towns, Vol. 2, 219]
Mount Vernon Town Company [House Journal, 335]
Doniphan County townsite, incorporated by Patrick Cooper, William Christison and William Fox, all pro-slavery men. The townsite was vacated in 1864 [12 KHC 483]
Calhoun Town Company [House Journal, 302]
A pro-slavery settlement in Shawnee County named for Government Surveyor John Calhoun. Located on the north bank of the Kansas River, just west of Jefferson county line. The county seat moved to Holton in 1858 and the town faded. [Fitzgerald, Ghost Towns, Vol. 1, 137]
Fort Scott Town Company [House Journal, 311]
Although the Bogus Legislature chartered a town company whose members included legislator S. A. Williams, nothing further was done until January 1857, when a new group of men came to Fort Scott to purchase the claims of Williams and his friends and lay out the town. The city was incorporated in 1860. [Blackmar, History, Fort Scott]
Delaware Town Company [Council Journal 239]
The town site was six miles south of Leavenworth and was platted in July 1854 on the Fort Leavenworth to Kansas City wagon road near the junction of roads to Grinter's ferry and Lawrence. Founded by Platte County, Missouri residents, it contested the county seat, receiving 1,000 more votes than it had voters in the election in autumn 1855. The town was divided between pro-slavery and free-state citizens. [Fitzgerald, Ghost Towns, Vol. 3, 277]
Osawkee Town Company [House Journal 317]
The first settlement was made in the spring of 1854, by Missourians W. F. and G. M. Dyer, who erected a store and started a trading ranch on the old military freight road. The Dyers were soon joined by the Tebbs family. Legislator William Tebbs proposed the town charter and obtained the county seat for the town. [Cutler, History, Jefferson County, Part 19]
Richmond Town Company [Council Journal, 212]
A town site in Nemaha County laid out on a claim by Cyrus Dolman of St. Jospeh in 1855. Located at the crossing of South Fork of Nemaha River and the Ft. Leavenworth-Ft. Kearney military road. The Bogus Legislature incorporated Dolman's town because of his pro-slavery beliefs, and made him the first Probate Judge. The town died when the 1858 legislature moved the county seat and the post office was discontinued. [Fitzgerald, Ghost Towns, Vol. 1, 136]
Port William Town Company [Council Journal, 206]
Founded by pro-slavery men William Henry and James M. Bradley, the town furnished 81 members of the "Port William Sharpe's Rifles" to the Kansas Militia in October 1856. Located half way between Atchison and Leavenworth on the Missouri River, it faded as its competitors grew. [Fitzgerald, Ghost Towns, Vol. 1, 201]
Louisiana Town Company [House Journal, 300]
Legislator J. M. Banks was a member of this town company. The Douglas County town site was laid out north of Baldwin City, where the Hickory Point post-office had been built. Hickory Point was a pro-slavery stronghold and a battle ground in the "Wakarusa War" in December 1855. [Connelley, History, Ch.27]
Columbia Town Company [Council Journal, 258]
A townsite in Lyon (Breckinridge) County, incorporated 1855 by three pro-slavery men from Council Grove, T.S. Huffaker, C.H. Withington, and Williamm D. Harris, on the Cottonwood river three miles below Emporia. [KHC 12,476] The town was named for Charles Columbia from Council Grove, another member of the company. [KHC 16, 457]
Washington Town Company [House Journal, 312]
Legislator M.W. McGee, his brother Fry McGee and George M. Redman were the incorporators of this Douglas County townsite near Big Springs on the California Road.
Marysville Town Company [Council Journal 211]
Legislator Frank Marshall's town named for his wife and in the county named for Marshall.
Cofachique Town Association [House Journal, 224]
The Allen County seat from 1855 to 1860, the town was laid out by pro-slavery men, including legislator William Barbee. Barbee's brother, James, was the president of the town company and first resident. [Fitzgerald, Ghost Towns, Vol. 2, 160]

In 1856, the Reverend Cyrus R. Rice wrote, "(The town was) the largest and most impressive city in the great Neosho valley. It consisted of the hotel, two-hewned log store rooms with rooms overhead, one log dwelling, a small cabin saloon, and a number of beautiful vacant lots." [Rice, Experiences,308]

Doniphan Town Company [Council Journal, 137]
The Missouri River town founder was James F. Forman, brother of legislator John W. Forman. James owned the town site and erected a home there in 1852, built from the wreckage of the steamer "Pontiac." James H. Lane and free-state friends moved to town in 1857 when there were 1,000 residents, more than its rivals Atchison and St. Joseph. [Fitzgerald, Ghost Towns, Vol.1, 12ff.]
Alexandria Town Company [Council Journal, 200]
A pro-slavery town on Stranger Creek, thirteen miles west of Leavenworth. In 1856, when it was attacked by James Lane's "army," it consisted of two houses, used as post-office and store. Governor Geary's party found these buildings robbed and several broken whiskey barrels laying in the road. Lane attacked with about 150 men, all mounted, who came with two wagons, to carry the mail and store goods away. [Gihon, Geary, Ch. 19]
Whitehead Town Company [Council Journal, 259]
The town was about two miles from Wathena and named for trader James R. Whitehead. Whitehead was also granted a license to operate a ferry with exclusive rights a mile above and a mile below. In 1859, the name of the town was changed to Bellemont, but later ceased to exist. [Root, Missouri Ferries, 132]
Indianola Town Company [Council Journal, 197]
Indianola was situated at the crossing of Soldier Creek of the road from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Riley. The land for the town site was purchased by legislator H. D. McMeekin, and laid out in November 1854. A public sale of lots was held in June 1855, before the town company had been chartered. A good frame hotel and other buildings were erected, and the town achieved a degree of prosperity, but was soon overshadowed by Topeka. [Cutler, History, Shawnee County]
Centreville Seminary and Town [Council, 239]
Now Centerville (Township) in western Linn County. Squatters from Missouri followed Big Sugar Creek west in the winter of 1853-1854 to the site. Pro-slavery sentiments prevailed. [Cutler, History, Linn County]
Town of Neosho Association [Council Journal, 257]
The community of Neosho was located just inside the Neosho County line, and south of Petrolia in Allen County. [Historical Directory of Kansas Towns]
Mount Aurora Cemetary and Town Association [Council Journal, 41]
A burial place named Mount Aurora was laid out in Leavenworth County and was used for a time. Later, the Leavenworth City Waterworks used the space. [Cutler, History, Leavenworth County]

Other Towns

Bills to incorporate several towns were introduced in one house of the legislature, but were not enacted.

Town of Lavinia Association [Council Journal, 257]
Town of Eujatah Company [Council Journal, 100]
On the Arkansas River at the end of the Government road to Ft. Atkinson.
Town of Venecia Company [House Journal, 299]
Larama Town Company [House Journal, 354]
Town of Pawnee Company [House Journal, 205]
The proposal for incorporation of the town company in the Geary County town where the Bogus Legislature first met was carefully circumscribed with a requirement that officers take the "Bogus oath" of allegiance.

Charles Clark