The Bogus Legislature granted charters for a number of enterprises and enacted general regulations for corporations. [House Journal 191] In the 1850's a corporate charter was not an open-ended grant of power but rather specific and limited authority to take on a particular task. The Supreme Court had ruled in 1819 in the Dartmouth College Case (The Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward. 17 US 518) that New Hampshire could not unilaterally amend Dartmouth's old royal charter. After that decision, legislators, wary of limited liability for shareholders and the power of corporations to raise money through stock sales, often required a reserve clause in charters, allowing the legislature to amend them at any time. And by the 1850's, the "police power" of the state to further the safety, health, morals, and welfare of the people had come to be accepted as a justification for regulation. [Keller, Making of the Modern Corporation, 58ff.]


The legislature chartered two mining companies, Kansas Mining Company [House Journal, 273] and Alexandria Coal Mining Company. [Council Journal, 152] The first deep shaft mining of coal in the state was in western Leavenworth County near Alexandria, where mining began by 1859. The promoters had faith, and kept digging until coal was reached, in 1865, at a depth of 713 feet. The vein of coal proved to be too thin to make mining profitable, however, and it was not until 1870 that a larger vein was reached, the shaft enlarged, and coal marketed. [Douglas, Manufactures in Kansas, 108]


Regulations for milling were passed. [House Journal, 299] One of the first needs of settlers was a grist mill to grind grain for home consumption, but milling started very slowly in Kansas. Early mills were often built in conjunction with sawmills, and located on small streams for power. These were simple operations with one or two runs of stone "buhrs" or wearing surfaces against a hexagonal reel. The early mills ground more corn than wheat and charged a toll between one-eighth to one-twelfth of the grain ground or between 25 cents to 35 cents per bushel. The first grist and sawmill in Kansas was built at Wyandotte by Mattias Splitlog in 1852. Patton and Yohe opened the second grist and sawmill in Leavenworth County in January 1855. The first "bolted" flour, passed through a cloth filter to commercial standards, was produced at Blue Mound in Douglas County in 1857. [Fitz, Milling in Kansas, 53ff.] The first census of Kansas territory in 1860 showed only thirty-six flour and grist mills in the state. The average capital invested was a little over $3,000, and the value of all milled products sold from Kansas mills was less than $300,000. Small as this amount was, milling was the largest industry in the territory. [Douglas, Manufactures in Kansas, 149]

Wathena Plank and Macademized Road Company

[Council Journal, 90] Legislator J. P. Blair joined eleven of his Doniphan county friends in forming this company, chartered to build a toll road that was never constructed. [Gray, Doniphan County, Ch.9] Plank roads were made of boards planed to a smooth traveling surface. Planks of pine or oak, eight to sixteen feet long and three to four inches thick, were laid across stringers placed parallel to the direction of the road. Ditches were dug on either side of the road to provide proper drainage. There were many plank toll roads built in New York State and the upper midwest in the 1840's and 1850's, including a number in Missouri. [Gentry, Plank Roads, 272ff.] The craze for plank roads faded, however, as severe maintenance problems developed.

Scots engineer John MacAdam introduced the use of angular aggregates in road pavement. Most surfaced roads in the United Kingdom in the early nineteenth century were made with rounded gravel. MacAdam believed that angular aggregate over a well-compacted subgrade would perform substantially better. He used a sloped subgrade surface to improve drainage on which he placed angular aggregate hand-broken with a maximum size of three inches in two layers for a total depth of eight inches. On top of this, a one inch wearing course was placed to provide a smooth ride for wagon wheels. MacAdam was quoted as saying "no stone larger than will enter a man's mouth should go into a road." The first macadam pavement in the United States was constructed in Maryland in 1823. [Washington State DOT Pavement Guide]

Leavenworth Insurance Company

[Council Journal, 184] Legislator Richard Rees was an incorporator of the first chartered insurance company in the territory along with freighting contractor William Russell and Territorial Attorney General Isaacs. The stated capital was $50,000. [Gates, Fragment, 234]

Telegraph Companies

Charles Stebbins, owner of the St. Louis & Missouri River Telegraph Company received charters for two Kansas companies, the Occidental Telegraph Company and the Kaw River Telegraph Company. [House Journal, 242] Stebbins planned that the new Kansas lines would tie into his existing line from St. Louis to St. Joseph, completed in 1851. His plan for the Kaw River company was a line to run along the Kaw from the mouth westward to the western boundary of Kansas territory. The Occidental line would run from the mouth of Kaw through Leavenworth to the northern boundary of territory. Disruption within Stebbins' Missouri system in the mid-1850's, however, prevented building of the two lines. In 1859 Western Union bought out Stebbins and, while the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention was sitting, a line along the west bank of the Missouri River reached Leavenworth. Later it was pushed on to Elwood and on masts across the Missouri River to St. Joseph. The 85 miles from Wyandotte to Elwood was complete in March 1860 at a cost of $65 per mile. [Sunder, Telegraph, 32ff.]

First Overland Daily Mail Coach Across the Plains 1861

From NeGenWeb

Kansas, Nebraska and Utah Stage Company

[House Journal, 372] The first overland mail stage service from Missouri to the Great Salt Lake was begun in July 1850 by lawyer Samuel H. Woodson, an Atchison faction member. Woodson contracted with the post office for once a month service at $19,500 per year. The route was about 1,200 miles long and Woodson's contract was continued for four years. Later others ran the route. Shorter routes from Kansas City north to Leavenworth and Atchison and from Kansas City west along the Kaw River were also running by 1855. [Blackmar, History, Vol. 2, 736] The Kansas Stage Company, with offices at Delaware and Levee Streets in Kansas City, Missouri, shared its space with the Missouri Stage Company in 1860. The fare from Kansas City to Junction City, a distance of 150 miles, was $10. From Kansas City to Boonville, Missouri, the fare was $6 for 136 miles of travel. [Tisdale, Travel by Stage, 460]

Missouri and Kansas Navigation Company

[Council Journal, 209] The decade between 1850 and 1860 was the "golden era of Missouri River steamboat navigation." A fully equipped steamboat on the Missouri River was about 250 feet long, with a 40 feet beam, and boasted cabin space for 300 to 400 people. Freight capacity on a typical boat was 500 to 700 tons. A two-engine boat cost $50,000 to $70,000 to build. A fast trip upstream was made at 10 miles an hour and downstream a boat could make 150 miles in a day. [Chappell, Missouri River, 284]

The Kansas River, on the other hand, was barely navigable at all. The first attempt to ascend the river by steam was made in 1854 when Captain C. K. Baker bought the "Excel", a 79 ton boat with a draft of only two feet, onto the river. In 1855 eight new steamboats attempted navigation of the Kansas. The "Hartford" made only one trip, running aground a short distance above the mouth of the Blue River, where she lay for a month waiting for high water. With a rise in the river she dropped down to Manhattan, unloaded her cargo, and with the next rise ran for Kansas City, but grounded again opposite St. Mary's mission, where she caught fire and burned. The bell of the "Hartford" was put in the steeple of the Methodist church at Manhattan. [Blackmar, History, Vol. 2, 557] One of the largest boats on the river was the "Financier 2" a side-wheeler rated at 125 tons, and carrying 50 passengers. She arrived safely at Lawrence on May 21, 1855 but then ran aground at Lecompton and again at Tecumseh. She took three days to travel the 40 river miles from Lawrence to Topeka. Later she went upstream to Fort Riley, and as an experiment, proceeded up the Republican River for 40 miles, nearly to Clay Center, the highest point in Kansas ever reached by steamboat. [Green, Kansas River, 330]

Charles Clark