“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.


Lingering memories of the Clark Hotel

By Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Click on Clark Hotel for Parts 1 & 2

“There are many lingering memories clinging about the old Clark house. . . “

As the fate of the Clark Hotel hung in the balance in April 1913, the editor of the Evening Kansan Republican took some time to reflect on memories of one of the “finest hotels of the middle west.” In his musings, he highlighted a forgotten story from Harvey County history.

“The well-known door under the main staircase through which the thirsty traveler might follow the colored porter, or some well-posted friend, down along a long corridor, around the toilet rooms into a well-appointed bar, and there secure anything in the line of liquid refreshments – this door is still there.   . . no doubt hundreds of Kansans . . . can recall many a pilgrimage through the devious windings required to secure the morning eye-opener or the parting night-cap in the old building during the period when the prohibition was gaining a stronghold in Kansas.” (Evening Kansan Republican, 19 April 1913)

Most familiar with Kansas history have heard of Carrie Nation and her saloon smashing campaign for temperance, but the story of prohibition actually begins in the 1880s and 90s.  On January 1, 1881, a constitutional amendment that prohibited “the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors” went into effect in Kansas. For the next 36 years, Kansas worked to eliminate alcohol from the state.

Some tried to develop “temperance drinks.”

Newton Daily Republican, 30 July 1895.

Newton Daily Republican, 30 July 1895.

Others looked for ways to work around the new law, which was difficult to enforce.  In Newton, several businessmen took advantage of the lax enforcement of the “prohibitory laws” in the late 1890s.

In the 1890s, the Newton City Council adopted resolutions to “fine the jointists of the city.” However, enforcement continued to be a problem as the editor of the Newton Daily Republican noted, “only three arrests have been made” since the resolutions.  Exactly who should enforce the laws was unclear. Some blamed the county attorney for not enforcing the law and shutting down the ‘joints.’  The other side pointed out that the county attorney relied on information brought to his office for consideration.  The county attorney was not a detective.   Early in August 1897, Edward C. Willis complained that the “city authorities have been . . . a little slow in doing their sworn duty.” He quoted “the entire Sec. 2532, Statutes of 1889”  to make his point that it was the responsibility of the sheriffs, constables, mayors, marshals, police officers “having notice or knowledge of any violations of the provisions . . .  to notify the county attorney.” The tension between the two groups no doubt continued.

On August 26, 1897, events came to a head when Sheriff Dick Judkins, under the direction of County Attorney W.S. Allen, “moved down on the offenders, having a wagon outside to convey the spoils to the county jail for cold storage.”    The Newton Daily Republican reported that four men were arrested for “violation of the prohibitory law, temporary injunctions issued upon them, and goods confiscated.”

At the Clark Hotel and a restaurant known as “Gallup’s place,” the sheriff met with some resistance. The paper reported that “at the Hotel Clark, the negro cook flatly refused to allow the sheriff to make search or look into the ice box, sitting down on top of it to prevent ingress.”  The cook finally allowed the search “at the point of a revolver.”

The next place searched was Conrad’s Drugstore, where “no liquor of any kind could be found.”   The sheriff did however, confiscate “the icebox from the bottling works counter, with other paraphernalia.”

Bottle from Conrad Drugstore

Bottle from Conrad Drugstore

Judkins met with more resistance at Gallup’s when the cook again sat on the ice box, and again the sheriff’s “revolver was brought into play, with satisfactory results.”  The next day, the paper retracted the stories of resistance noting that he did not know “how the story that the two cooks at the two places were so obstinate and that the revolver . . . was necessary . . . is not known. . . . Sheriff Judkins says, however, that all was peaceful.”  The editor further notes that yesterday when he printed the story most people believed this to be true.

Regardless, five wagon loads of “goods” were hauled to the county jail and stored in the basement for “future disposal” as a result of the raids.  Two were sent to jail, George English and Henry Gallup. The other two, E. Horan and E.E. Conrad were able to post the bond of $500 each.

A day later, more injunctions were filed against two more “druggists” and two more restaurant owners. After prohibiting the various owners from selling liquor, Probate Judge J.W. Johnson personally “went to the drug stores of E.E. Conrad, O.W. Roff, and W.D. Pearson and took away their permits to sell intoxicating liquors.”  Judge Johnson noted that this was “in the best interests of the people . . . by taking away the privilege to sell liquors, which privilege had been abused grossly. . . . he meant to removed it for the good of the community.”

Sheriff Judkins was not finished, the paper reported that “immediately after arresting Mr. Porter and Mr. Roff, [Judkins] took the west bound Santa Fe No. 5 for Burrton and Halstead, where this evening he will arrest Ed Debrulier [Burrton] and . . . Charles Steininger and Carl Kaiser of Halstead.  These three men are keepers of restaurants and have been violating the prohibitory law.”

The Kansas City Gazette reported the next day that “Newton Has Gone Dry” noting that ‘the joints have been running wide open in Newton for many months and until now there has been no attempt to close them.”   The paper further noted that “Horan and Conrad are prominent citizens” and that “County Attorney Allen means to push the enforcement of the law and will close every place in the city.”


Newton Main, Newton Evening Kansan, 31 December 1887.

The Harvey County District Court convened on October 5, 1897. The docket included “the cases for the unlawful sale of intoxicating liquors.”  Several went to trial, but Conrad, Horan, Porter, Roff and Pearson plead guilty to one count – “the nuisance clause.”  The men paid the fines and left. County Attorney Allen cautioned that the cases were not entirely dismissed and that “the county attorney holds the whip hand and can keep the men from violating the law at any future time.”

Cases against violators of “prohibitory law” continued to appear in the newspapers throughout the early 1900s as officials sought to enforce the laws at the local level.  In 1917, the “bone dry” bill, which banned alcohol statewide, was signed by the Kansas governor.  Two years later in 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution made prohibition the law of the country.


  • Newton Daily Republican; 30 July 1895, 7 August 1897, 26 August 1897, 27 August 1897, 5 October 1897.
  • Kansas City Gazette; 27 August 1897.
  • Evening Kansan Republican; 19 April 1913.
  • “Prohibition” Kansapedia- Kansas State Historical Society. kshs.org/kansapedia/prohibition/14523