Happy Kansas Day! Judge Muse Remembers

Today, January 29, the state of Kansas turns 158 years old!

In the History of Harvey County 1871-1881, Judge Muse  described his first visit to the area that would become Harvey County. The photos are the earliest Harvey County homes made of sod.

Judge Muse writes:

On the 25th day of August, 1870, we left the city of Topeka . . . and traveled westward via A.T. & S. F. R. R. to the city of Emporia.  . . . On the 26th procured teams and provisions  . . . and started westward.  On the night of the 26th, we stopped at Cottonwood Falls, with Mr. Doolittle, who kept a small hotel in that place. . . On the 27th we continued our journey through an almost uninhabited region, passing over the ground where Florence now stands, and encamped for the night at a ranch owned by Coble and Kelly, about 4 miles east of the present town of Peabody. 

On the 28th we passed over the ground now occupied by the town of Walton. . , We stopped for dinner at a point on Sand Creek just south of where the residence of D. Ainsworth is now situated , and upon the the present town site of Newton.

Here for the first time we struck the Chisholm, or the great Texas Cattle Trail and followed it down on the west side of Sand Creek as far as the mouth of the creek where we found the first settler we had seen in the county, Dr. T.S. Floyd, with who we staid all night.

During the day, and after travelling over thirty miles, we had seen no human habitation or sign of civilization, our way being through high prairie grass, often standing above the height of our wagon wheels and bed.  We varied the monotony of the journey by shooting at wolves, coyotes, antelope and prairie chickens.  After reaching the cattle trail, we were beset by swarms of buffalo gnats and mosquitoes, so ravenous that Mr. Lakin declared that they bit his head through is hat.

Identified as a sod home in Alta.

We found Dr. Floyd and family living in a log house covered with a sod roof, upon which corn was growing and situated on the west bank of Sand Creek a few rods due west from where his present residence stands. . . . After remaining over night with Dr. Floyd . . . we set out the following morning and drove through Park City, then considered a dangerous rival of Wichita and continued our journey as far as Wichita.

Judge R.W.P. Muse, History of Harvey County, 1871-1881 available at the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives. Muse’s history was included in the 1882 Harvey County Atlas.

Harvey County Home

The Mystery of Alta Muse

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Based on research notes from Brian Stucky’s Alta Mill research.

“Alta was named in memory of the deceased daughter of the writer, Alta O. Muse.” — Judge R.W.P. Muse, History of Harvey County: 1871-1881.

Historical Atlas of Harvey County – Alta Township indicated.

In his 1881 History of Harvey County Judge Muse, noted in the section on naming cities and townships:  “Alta was named in memory of the deceased daughter of the writer, Alta O. Muse.” Alta Muse was something of a mystery to Harvey County historians.  She does not show up on Harvey County census, nor was she buried in a Harvey County cemetery . . . until recently.

Brian Stucky was able to connect the name with story of Alta Muse.  While researching the Alta Mill located in the Alta township in Harvey County, Stucky stumbled on a clue that led to a sad story.

This is one of those moments in historical research that you just gasp and shake, when you say to yourself, “I found her. I finally found her.” –Brian Stucky, June 2018

Stucky noted: “I always thought for some reason that Alta was a young daughter, maybe 9 years old, but I don’t know where I got that.  No, she was older, age 23, and she was married to a Josiah Sinclair for almost 2 years.  So, we’re looking for someone named Alta Sinclair.”  Newpapers had been added to the site Newspapers.com and out of curiosity, he included a search on Alta Muse.

“What popped up was a newspaper from Woodsfield, Ohio, called “Spirit of Democracy.”  The date of the story was April 27, 1869. Wow. And, it was the WEDDING OF ALTA O. MUSE and Josiah Sinclair, in Zanesville, OH where they lived. She was married April 6, 1869.  I quit breathing for a minute or two.”

With the knowledge of her married name, Stucky searched Find-a-Grave for “Alta Sinclair.”

 “And there it is, a page on her grave, picture of the gravestone, name of her father, Judge R.W.P. Muse, to absolutely confirm it.”

Who was Alta Muse?

Alta Olivia Muse was born in McConnelsville August 17, 1847 to Judge RWP and Julia Hurd Muse. She would be one of four daughters born to the couple.  In 1852, Judge Muse moved his family to Zanesville, OH.  On August 24, 1860, Alta’s older sister, Ada, died at the age of 19.

Alta spent her growing up years in Zanesville community, graduating from high school in 1866. She “enjoyed, in an uncommon degree, the respect and esteem of her fellow pupils and teachers, who alike recognized her moral and intellectual excellence.”

For her obituary a former high school principal  praised her scholarship and character.

“Her manners and address were such as to engage in advance all opinions in her favor.  Her light- hearted gayety (sic) and energy in bearing her part in every school enterprise rendering her a pleasing companion and valued associate. . . . Her application to her studies . . . established her reputation as a successful student. By the side of her early grave the writer can only remember her unusual personal attractions and agreeable manners.”

She was baptized on February 7, 1869 and as a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church, she had a strong “desire for Christian usefulness.”  Many of her friends could “recall more than one incident  . . . which strikingly exemplified the thoroughly practical character of her religion.

She married married Josiah Sinclair “at the residence of the bride’s father, R.W.P. Muse” on April 6, 1869. Following the ceremony, the newlyweds lived in Pittsburgh.

Marriage Announcement, Spirit of Democracy. Woodsfield, OH, 27 April 1869.

Sadly, the couple did not have “long life and unalloyed happiness.”  After “a few months, her failing health  rendered it advisable that she should return to her father’s house.”

Alta died at her father’s home on February 15, 1871 at the age of 23 after a “long and tedious illness.”

A Father’s Grief

Shortly after her death in February, Judge Muse was traveling in Kansas to the new town of Newton.

Muse writes in The  Harvey County History:

“The first passenger train crossed the new bridge over the Cottonwood (river) and entered Florence on May 8th, 1871.  This was then the terminus of the railroad. The writer was on that train, en route for Newton, for the purpose of there erecting an office to be ready to put the railroad lands upon the market, as soon as the railroad reached that point, and was accepted by the governor.  

            ……We arrived on the town site on the afternoon of May 10th, 1871, and passed over it to the banks of the Sand Creek, where several railroad officials had camped for the night, being on their way west to kill buffalo.  We stayed that night with the late Capt. John Sebastian, who was living on a tent, on the west bank of the Sand Creek, near the end of the present Broadway bridge.

Brian notes:

“So, Alta died Feb. 15, and by May 10, her father was camping on the west bank of the Sand Creek. No wonder the memory of his daughter was fresh in his mind.  Of course it was natural for him to want to name something after Alta.  It was a township.”

Alta’s husband, Josiah Sinclair, according to information on  Find-a-Grave, went back  Wheeling, West Virginia. He married again in 1874 and served 7 terms in the West Virginia legislature. Sinclair died in 1914.

Thank you to Brian Stucky for sharing his research notes on Alta Muse Sinclair.

For more info  Lost Harvey County

Additional Sources:

  • Bowman, Mrs. C.S. “Organization of Harvey County” typed manuscript, October 7, 1907, HCHM Archives, Newton, Ks.
  • Muse, Judge RWP.  History of Harvey County: 1871-1881.
  • “Judge Muse Dead” Newton Daily Republican, 23 November 1896.
  • Julia Hurd Muse Obituary, Newton Kansan, 30 July 1890
  • Marriage Announcement, Spirit of Democracy. Woodsfield, OH, 27 April 1869.
  • “Alta O. Muse Sinclair Obituary” Spirit of Democracy 28 February 1871, Zanesville Courier.
  • Find-A-Grave, “Alta O. Muse Sinclair” Memorial Number 6292265.
  • Find-A-Grave, “Josiah Sinclair” Memorial Number 187771766.
  • Find-A-Grave, “Ada Burke Muse” Memorial Number 6292263.
  • U.S. Census, 1850, 1880.
  • Kansas State Census, 1895.



“The Murder of Deputy Sheriff King:” Carlos B. King

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

The whole town of Newton was on edge following the “General Massacre” in the early morning hours of August 20, 1871.   Five men were dead.  Hugh Anderson, one of the instigators had disappeared, as had the primary shooter, a man known only as Riley. The Texans and the townspeople both had an interest in restoring order or as the reporter Allegro noted;

“All parties, and particularly the Texans, who own at least a third of the town, are keen and unyielding in the determination to preserve peace and the majesty of law.” (Commonwealth, 27 August 1871.)

Meetings were held “to appoint a police force composed of both Texas men and Newtonians.” Allegro further noted that “an ordinance is published and rigidly carried out which disarms any and all persons who may be found carrying dangerous weapons within the township of Newton.”

At an informal  meeting of the citizens, two men were nominated as deputy sheriffs, Tom Carson and Carlos B. King. The first jail, a modified caboose, was ready to go.  Judge R.W.P. Muse declared “that the history of Newton is now to begin afresh.”

The peace was short lived.  The Texans were not happy with the appointment of Tom Carson and tensions continued to simmer.  In late September, the worst happened. Reporter for the Daily Commonwealth, Allegro again described the “details of the murder of Deputy Sheriff King.”

Around 10:00 pm, on the evening of September 23, 1871, Officers King and Carson,  disarmed Thomas Edwards, a Texas cowboy, outside of a Hide Park establishment “in accordance with the requirements of  the law.” Edwards was released after he gave up is pistol.  King remained in Hide Park, while Carson returned to Newton.

About two hours later, Edwards returned to the Hide Park dance hall with a derringer. He approached Marshall King and pushed the weapon against King’s chest and fired.

“King staggered into the house, exclaiming ‘Who shot me?’ and immediately fell over . . .and a moment later he died.”

Edwards “fled” town.”  In his account Allegro put forth the idea that Edwards had not acted alone, but that “it was a premeditated act – plotted by others and accomplished by Edwards.”

He concluded with words of praise for Carlos B.King.

“Thus perished Officer King, than whom there was no better gentleman nor truer friend, and no more respected man in Newton.” –Allegro, Commonwealth Reporter.

King’s funeral was well attended and many of Newton’s businesses closed during the ceremony. Carlos B. King was only 29 years old at the time of his death.

King was born on March 19, 1842 in Pennsylvania or New York to Senaca and Maryette King.  In 1850, Senaca and Carlos were living in the household of Gilbert King in Orleans, Ionia County Michigan. Carlos was 18 when the Civil War broke out.  He served as a Union soldier during the Civil War with two Michigan units; 3rd Inf (2nd Org.) Co. C, Capt., and 16th Inf. Co. B, 1st Sgt.  He married Amanda Arnold on January 23, 1864 in Ionia County, Michigan.  They had two daughters, Nina born in 1864, and Edith in 1868.  Two years after the birth of Edith, Carlos was living in Wichita, Kansas while Amanda and the girls stayed with Amanda’s parents in Ionia County.

After Carlos was killed in Newton, Amanda applied for a Civil War pension, but was denied.  In 1885, Amanda married Daniel P. Chapman and they had one son, Arthur. Carlos’ two daughters also died early, Nina in 1887 and Edith in 1891.

Carlos B. King Marker, Greenwood Cemetery, Newton, Ks.

Carlos B. King Marker, Greenwood Cemetery, Newton, Ks.

In 1872,  King’s body was moved from the ‘Boot Hill’ cemetery to Greenwood Cemetery. He was one of the first to be buried there.

Because the shooting occurred before the official organization of Harvey County and Newton was part of Sedgwick County, King is also the first law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty for Sedgwick County. His name is listed at the Law Enforcement Memorial in front of the City Building at Central and Main in Wichita, Ks.


  • Kansas Daily Commonwealth, 25 August 1871, 27 August 1871, 27 September 1871.
  • Muse, Judge RWP, “History of Harvey County 1871-1881.”
  • U.S. Census, Ionia County, Michigan, 1850, 1860, 1870.
  • U.S. Civil War Soldiers Index, 1861-1865.
  • Marriage Record of Carlos B. King and Amanda Arnold, Ionia, Michigan.
  • Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897.
  • Ionia Standard 12 February 1915, Obituary for Amanda Arnold Chapman.” Ionia County, MI Archives Obituaries.
  • Find A Grave: “Amanda E. Arnold Chapman” Memorial #65086284.