“The Best Evergreen Nursery West of Topeka”

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Archivist/Curator

Thanks to Jim Brower for sharing this advertisement card to start us on our search.

Many of us are happy to be able to get out into our gardens again after a long winter.  We have our favorite nursery or Garden Store to go to for supplies, seeds and plants. Just like now, 1880s Harvey County had several nurseries, including the Harvey County Nursery, Halstead, Ks owned by Joseph Cook.

Joseph Cook was born in Indiana in approximately 1825, he first appears in the Halstead paper in 1881 as an agent for Dr Ryder’s American Fruit Dryer or Pneumatic Evaporator which was advertised as being “equal to canned goods and is saving the cost of cans, jars etc.” He had one on his farm 3 1/2 miles north of Halstead in operation and “he would be pleased to have his brother farmers come and see work and test the fruit.” (Halstead Independent 5 August 1881) In the 1875, he is listed with his wife Mary and three children John Jay, 18, Emma, 14, Melona 3.


Edward Plat Map Harvey County, 1882, Halstead Township.

By 1882, Joseph Cook had an establish tree stand that included fruit trees. He had 160 acres in section 15 and 80 acres in section 14, Halstead Township, Harvey County, Kansas. In addition to the orchid, the plat indicates a residence and two other buildings. A one room school was also located at the corner of section 15. The map also shows the location of the Friends Church, of which he was a member, and the cemetery.

Harvey County Nursery

Halstead Independent, 17 October 1884.

In 1885 the Halstead Independent reported that they would be publishing a “treatise on “Growing an Orchard in the Arkansas Valley'” written by Joseph Cook. At that time the Harvey County Nursery were known for their Apple, Pear, Soft Maple, Hardy Catalpa and Russian Mulberry trees, grape vines and evergreens. In the spring of 1885 their goal was to be the “best evergreen nursery west of Topeka.” To meet that goal they had several thousand evergreens for sale. He also wrote advice columns on growing various plants occasionally for the Halstead Independent.

In the fall of 1885, Cook made the decision to move his business closer to Halstead. Business had increased over the summer and it was inconvenient to be a distance from town. They purchased 60 acres of land from Frank J. Brown.

By the end of 1886, Cook was advertising to sell the nursery. The editor of the Halstead Independent  noted, “while we should regret to see these parties retire from the business . . .it is a rare opportunity for some enterprising man . . . to invest in a profitable and pleasant business.

August 5 1887 in an advertisement for his farm Cook describes a two story house with seven bedrooms, close to 60 acres within a half mile of Halstead, and finally a sweet potato farm, 500 bearing apple trees, 300 bearing grape vines, pear, peach, plum and cherry in abundance.


Halstead Independent, 5 August 1887

From Halstead to Rialto, CA

October 14, 1887 make their homes not only in Southern California, but at the beautifully located projected town of Rialto.” Among those than made the mover M.V. Sweesy, former editor of the Independent, J.W. Tibbott, dry goods and stock raiser, Joseph Cook, farmer and “influential member of the Quaker church,” J.W. Sweesy,, farmer. Wm Tibbot, merchant, Frank Brown, farmer, and Leroy and Mr. McDonald, “two estimable young men.”

The Halstead Independent kept up with Cook for a few years in the November 11, 1887 issue a letter from Cook in California was published. Then in May 1888, there was a report that Joseph Cook and the Tibbot brothers “were on the outs.” Cook himself felt compelled to answer writing; “there is not the least bit of foundation for the slang about me and Tibbots . . . I look upon it simply as malicious lying, nothing less.”

One final mention of Joseph Cook in the Halstead Independent came from the Rialto Orange-Grower in California. “Mr. Cook and family have returned for Jennings, La to Rialto . . . Mr. Cook has not yet determined definitely as to his future movements. He may remain with us or may move to some point farther north on the coast. We trust he will find it to his advantage to remain and make his home in Rialto.”

“Two Prohibitionists Discussing Prohibition”

In addition to growing his business, Joseph Cook had a passion for temperance.  From 1883 to 1886, Cook’s name appears frequently advocating for temperance and supporting strict enforcement of Kansas’ Constitutional law. He wrote several lengthy articles published in the Newton Kansan and Halstead Independent. 

At the Prohibition Convention in September 1886, Cook was elected president and gave “a short but appropriate speech.”

On October 29, 1886, Cook engaged in a discussion at White’s school house with Hon. T.J. Matlock. The Halstead Independent editor noted that “it was, however, a rather queer discussion. Two prohibitionists discussing prohibition.” While both gentlemen acquitted themselves well, “it was conceded, we believe, that Matlock got the better of the argument and really out Ceasared Ceasar himself.” 

Cook spoke again November 5 1886 at a political meeting featuring the Hon T.J. Matlock, two other men spoke Charles Bucher, of Newton on November 5, 1886 and gave lectures at the Y.M.C.A. in Newton.

It is not known if he continued to be active in the Prohibition movement once in California.


  • Kansas State Census, 1875.
  • United States Census, 1880.
  • Halstead Independent: 5 June 1885,  30 October 1885, 20 November 1885,10 Sept 1886, 29 October 1886,   3 December 1886, 11 January 1889.


A Lamentable Affair

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Originally posted  November 8, 2013.
 The latest blog post features a dispute that almost led to a fatality in Sedgwick and a trial that caught the attention of the whole county for a few days in May 1897.
Thanks to Jim Brower for sending the initial idea and question for this post.
McClung’s Hotel, Main, Sedgwick, Ks
Later Frazier’s Hotel and then, the Commercial Hotel
Born in Indiana, Amos Frazier opened a hotel in Sedgwick, Kansas in the mid-1890s. The hotel was located “the first door east of Mathis’ Corner Grocery” and had formerly been known as the McClung Hotel.  The Frazier family consisted of Amos, his wife Mary J. and daughter, Bessie.
His ads in the Sedgwick Pantagraph boast of “Bright, Clean Rooms . . . The Only Hotel in Town, Good Meals . . . Special attention to the Transient Trade”.  Frazier had the habit of meeting the train when it stopped in Sedgwick and walk people to his hotel.
In early 1896, the Frazier’s Hotel became the Commercial Hotel with Charles Dickerson as the proprietor.
Dickerson was a well known businessman in Wichita.  He was well liked and arrived in Sedgwick with a wife and 16 year old son to operate the hotel.  At some point Frazier opened a second hotel “fifty feet away” from the Commercial Hotel on Sedgwick’s Main Street.  The two hotels were separated by a small barber shop.
Why Frazier sold his first hotel to Dickerson and then established another one a short distance away remains unanswered. Throughout 1896 and 1897 tensions continued to rise between the two men.

The Quarrel

One March morning, both men met the Gulf Train from Kansas City at 6:20 a.m.. According to the Sedgwick Pantagraph two passengers got off the train and both hotel owners met the passengers.**
The Newton Kansan recounts what happened next:

“After the usual boisterous soliciting by the two hotel men, the travelers went away with Frazer to his house.  A quarrel started with this, and on the way to the hotel the men exchanged words, with the final result of Frazer’s pulling a 38 and shooting Dickerson.”

Five shots were fired and Dickerson was hit twice – one striking him “two inches above the heart and the other in the arm.”  The reporters for all three papers expected Dickerson to die of the injury. Frazier, age 50, was unhurt and was taken to jail in Newton.
The Wichita Eagle summarized the events of the morning by noting that “Sedgwick City has not been so wrought up for years, and business there yesterday was suspended on account of the excitement following the conflict.”
Amos Frazier had something of a reputation in Sedgwick.  The Newton Kansan reported that “Frazier has the reputation of having an ungovernable temper – a ‘bad man when riled'”. The Kansan also reported that Frazier had actually chased Dickerson into his house that morning “determined to deliver a fatal shot, although Mrs. Dickerson was present and very heroically shielding her husband from danger.”  (Newton Kansan 11 March 1897, p. 1)
Frazier defended his actions telling Kansan reporters that “in the heat of the quarrel Dickerson felt around his hip pocket and he [Frazier] thinking his life was in danger, shot in self defense.” (Newton Kansan 11 March 1897, p. 1)
Charles Dickerson did not die. Once he was able to speak, Dickerson reported that the shooting was all done in front of his hotel (the Commercial) and that “two or three shots [were] fired in quick succession while he was attempting to pass through his hotel door.”

“Assault with the intent to kill”

As a result of the early morning shooting, Frazier faced charges of “assault with the intent to kill.” His trial was scheduled for May. The prosecution was led by County Attorney Allen and Hon. Ed Madison, “the famous young criminal lawyer of Dodge City”.  Defending Frazier were two well-known Harvey County attorneys, Hon. Harry Bowman and Hon. Charles Bucher, “the king of criminal lawyers of Kansas”.  
Charles Bucher***
Photo courtesy Bob Myers, Newton City Attorney
During the two day trial, witnesses for both men described a strained relationship which had started in June 1896.  Each had tried to discredit the other man’s establishment.  Dr. C.E. Johnson recalled a time when he was eating dinner at Frazier’s Hotel when Dickerson “had solicited him and accused Frazier’s place of being a dirty hole.”  One friend of Dickerson, Dr. Winn, was heard to say “that Frazier ought to be hung and he would like to be the man to tie the know.”
Frazier took the stand and the Newton Kansan dramatically reported his testimony.

“The guest had gone into the hotel office and that he and Dickerson had remained outside, Frazier shutting the office door, the counsel asked dramatically, ‘Why didn’t you go in and take care of your guest, instead of remaining on the outside with the man you claim to be afraid of?’  Frazier was almost trapped and trembled perceptibly.  After a pause, he answered: ‘I had a right to be on the sidewalk.'”

Frazier continued and “admitted that he did not see Dickerson have a weapon, or aim a weapon at any point in the affair.”
The trial lasted two days and was given to the jury on Tuesday night.  Wednesday morning the verdict came back “guilty of assault with attempt to commit manslaughter.” Frazier faced up to 5 years of hard labor or more than six months in the County Jail.

Following the verdict

It could not be determined if Frazier served time for the shooting or not. The 1900 Census indicates that Amos Frazier was living in Newton; however, by 1910 he was back in Sedgwick.  His wife Mary, died in 1928 and soon after Frazier moved to Wichita to live with his daughter, Bessie Hobble. He died in 1934 at the age of 87.
Charles Dickerson apparently moved on, perhaps back to Wichita. A brief note in the personal section of the Sedgwick Pantagraph noted that “Charles Dickerson will sell his household goods a public auction at his residence on north Commercial today.”
Sedgwick Pantagraph, 20 May 1897, p.1
No further information could be found on Charles Dickerson.
Perhaps the Sedgwick Pantagraph said it best:

“And so ends the last chapter of this lamentable affair in which all parties have doubtless been at fault,  and all parties concerned have likewise suffered much. Let this case stand as a warning to all who may be concerned in annoying business complications or petty jealous rivalry.  When the hot blood of passion mounts . . . beware, for the end is not there and the wake of thoughtless action often come the deepest sorrow.”(Sedgwick Pantagraph, 13 May 1897, p. 1)

**The Wichita Eagle indicates that there was one passenger. Both the Sedgwick Pantagraph and the Newton Kansan indicated two.
***Charles Bucher practiced law with Cyrus Bowman, “the patriarch of the bar association” in Harvey County at the firm known as “Bowman & Bucher.” Bucher was a highly regarded attorney and involved in other high profile Harvey County cases in the 1890s, including the case featured by Bob Myers in his Speaker’s Bureau Program, “Harvey Counties Foulest Crime and Greatest Legal Battle”.  By 1904/05, Bucher had moved away from Newton and was practicing in Bartlesville, OK.  He then moved to Coffeyville, KS, where he spent the remainder of his life.
  • Sedgwick Pantagraph, July 11, 1895, November 28, 1895, April 23, 1896, April 30, 1896, March 11, 1897, March 25, 1897, April 1, 1897, April 22, 1897, May 13, 1897, May 20, 1897.
  • Newton Kansan: March 11, 1897, May 13, 1897
    • The May 13, 1897 issue contains the account of the entire trial.
  • Wichita Daily Eagle: March 10, 1897
  • United States Census 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930.
  • Kansas Census 1885, 1895
  • Find-a-Grave: Amos Frazier (1847-1934) Hillside Cemetery, Sedgwick, Harvey County, Kansas.
  • Bob Myers to Kristine Schmucker via e-mail 7 November 2013 regarding Attorney Charles Bucher.


  1. I really appreciate sharing this great post. I like this blog and have bookmarked it. Thumbs up

  2. Great,great, granddaughter of Amos. I just discovered Amos Frazier’s obituary. It stated that he was a man of kindly, jovial disposition a good neighbor and friend. In his later years he served as night marshal of Sedgwick. I enjoyed learning another side of his character.

Joe Rickman: Stone Mason, Businessman & Bootlegger

This is an updated article based on a previously published post on Friday, February 8, 2013 at Voices of Harvey County: Stone Mason – Joe Rickman (harveycountyvoices.blogspot.com)
by Kristine Schmucker, Curator
This is the second in our series featuring the Rickman/Anderson/Clark/McWorter families who settled in Harvey County in 1871. For the first installment which features Mary Rickman Anderson Grant see: An Ordinary, Amazing Woman: Mary Rickman Anderson Grant – Harvey County Historical Society (hchm.org)

Eldest Son

Joseph C. Rickman was Mary Rickman Anderson Grant’s oldest son. Joseph was born November 2, 1850 in White County, Tennessee. His mother, Mary, was about 15 years old when he was born.  It is uncertain who his father was; according to family genealogies David Anderson, Mary’s first husband, was not his father and Joseph always used his mother’s maiden name, Rickman. On his death certificate, however, David Anderson is listed as his father.
Joseph C. Rickman
Photo Courtesy Jullian Wall

Joseph Rickman was twenty-one years old when he came to Kansas in 1871 with his mother, Mary Rickman Anderson, to homestead alongside his stepfather, David, sisters; America, Lucy and Tennessee, and brothers; Wayman, Jefferson, and Nathaniel.

Rickman Anderson Brothers
A few years later, Joe returned to Tennessee for a brief time.  On October 26, 1874, he married Lucinda Paige.  The newlyweds returned to Harvey County and Joe farmed.  They had five children, the three girls Linnie, Estelle and Alta died very young and were buried on the Rickman homestead.  Only the two boys, Clarence (b. 1884) and Ocran (b. 1889) lived to adulthood.
Lucinda Paige Rickman
Photo courtesy Jullian Wall
Joe and Lucinda had moved to Newton by 1885. The family was living at 424 w 5th and Joe was working as a laborer.  Two years later, Joe is listed as a stone mason.  According to family tradition, he helped to build the Warkentin Mill (today known as the Old Mill), and the Administration Building on the Bethel College Campus, North Newton. It is not known what other buildings Joe might have worked on over the span of his career.  He also could have been part of the crew, along with nephew Pat Rickman, that laid the bricks for Newton’s streets.
Warkentin Mill & Train Yards at Main & Third,
Newton, Ks, ca. 1915

Constantly Increasing Business

By 1905 the family had moved to 114 W 4th Newton. While in Newton, Joe was also a businessman. In April 1900, he built a two story, seven room house on west 5th street.  Joe also operated a restaurant and rooming house on west 4th street.  In 1908, he needed to enlarge the building. The addition, located on the west side of the existing structure, was two stories high, 12 feet by 40 feet with a brick front. It was noted in the Newton Kansan that “Mr. Rickman finds the addition room needed because of his constantly increasing business.”

Bootlegging and Gambling

In March 1913, Joe was arrested, charged with “bootlegging and running a nuisance.”  On the evening of May 15, 1913, authorities again raided Joe’s place. While he was not arrested this time, two “vagrants” J.E. Hill, white, and Katy Robbins, colored, were charged with vagrancy. They each had a bond of $15.00. Another patron of the establishment, “Big Boy” Taylor, paid the bond for Katie Robbins. Both Hill and Robbins failed to show up the next morning and forfeited the bond. The editor of the Newton Kansan noted that the new county attorney Hart was “going after the rough element” to “put a stop to the all the bootlegging and gambling” in Newton.
This was not the first time Joe Rickman had run afoul of Newton’s law enforcement. The area of W 4th and W 5th was the target of many police raids over the years. Rickman’s place was no exception.
In October 1903, the Newton police raided the “sporty colored population” on W 4th & W 5th. Joe Rickman was one among several brought in. He was “convicted of running an immoral resort and fined $50 and costs amounting in all to $61.50 which was paid.”
The most serious offense took place in 1909, when Rickman was put on trial for stabbing Arthur Childs in Harry Lum’s place. According to the Newton Kansan around 2:00 am “Joe Rickman stuck his stiletto into Arthur Childs” at Harry Lum’s place on W 4th. When witnesses along with Rickman and Childs were questioned, “they shut up like clams.” 
The Kansan suggested that the altercation could have been over some money Rickman owed Childs. After Childs struck Rickman, Rickman “drew a knife and stabbed Childs in the right breast.” The knife hit a rib which resulted in a flesh wound and not a fatality. The reporter express frustration over the lack of cooperation of witness and even the victim Childs who treats the matter lightly and seems not disposed to sign a complaint.” Ultimately, his father, Frank Childs, signed a complaint against Rickman. After a trial at the end of March, Rickman was found guilty and sentenced by Judge Mears a fine of fifty dollars and sixty days in jail. Rickman appealed the case to the district court.
Joseph C. “Joe” Rickman died in May 1918 at the age of 68.  Lucinda lived at 114 W 4th until her death in 1931 at the age of 76.
Clarence, son of Joe C. and Lucinda Rickman, owned and operated a “recreation parlor” locatedat 114 W 4th, Newton for a number of years, possibly from 1911 – 1913.  Clarence was married to Jessie J. Greenboam, a native of London, England, on June 13, 1917. Their other son, Ocran, served in World War I.  At the time of his death in 1955, he was living in Omaha, Nebraska.
During the month of February, in honor of Black History Month, we will be featuring related stories from Harvey County. Much of the information on the Rickman/Anderson/Grant family is based on oral traditions preserved by Marguerite Rickman Huffman & June Rossiter Thaw and research by Karen Wall.  We are grateful for their willingness to share the stories of this Harvey County family. 


  • Newton City Directories, 1885, 1887, 1902, 1905, 1911, 1913, 1918. Harvey county Historical Museum & Archives, Newton, Ks
  • Evening Kansan Republican: 10 January 1900,27 April 1900, 9 August 1900, 1 April 190217 October 1903, 3 June 1910, 15 October 1910, 13 March 1913, 21 March 1913, 7 May 1913, 16 May 1913, 6 May 1914