Archive for Thursday, May 1, 2008

Voting for the county seat

May 1, 2008

Voting for the County Seat

The city of Delaware started in 1854 and was on the bank of the Missouri River two miles east of the present site of Lansing. A majority of the people living in Delaware came over from Platte County in Missouri.

At that time Delaware was quite a big city with a 15 room-hotel with a large hall that was also used as a dance hall. It was run by Widow Hanson. There was a bakery operated by Fred Frye. Matt Boyle ran the leading saloon in the village. William Patterson was an early day contractor and builder, and he built himself a fine residence there. William Sprague was an early day stonemason and brick layer. The first mayor of the city was Thomas Yates. Henry Forebach was the shoemaker.

The story goes that in the early days when the steamboats on the river passed by, someone would yell, "Hear Ye Me, come to my town. It is the best located."

In 1855 there was an election in Leavenworth County for the purpose of selecting a county seat. Three cities were battling for this honor. Delaware had 929 votes, Kickapoo had 878 and Leavenworth had 726 votes. Two of the county commissioners voted to select Delaware as the permanent county seat. John Halderman, one of the commissioners, refused to claim Delaware as the winner for the reason that a number of illegal votes had been cast.

A county building was built in Delaware following this election, and the county offices were moved there Feb. 20, 1857.

The state Legislature in 1857 ordered another election for Leavenworth County. This time, Kickapoo received the largest number of votes of 892 and Delaware had 869. The following day Delaware, not to be outdone, threw the polls open and the vote grew from 869 to 928. It was obvious that the extra votes came from Platte County. Then the commissioners ordered all the records be transferred from Delaware to Kickapoo. After this, the matter of the county seat was thrown into litigation again, and eventually the city of Leavenworth won out.

This is the reason the cities of Delaware and Kickapoo began to decline. Most of the Delaware people moved to the Town of Progress, now Lansing, at that time to settle close to the newly established State Penitentiary next to Seven Mile Creek.

It is amazing to me that all of that took place and that there is now no trace of the city of Delaware.

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