Agnes City

Since we learned about the murder of Judge Baker by Bill Anderson, let’s talk about Agnes City some more.  Let’s start at the very beginning with the establishment of counties and their boundaries.  Wise County was established August 25th, 1855; named after Henry Wise a congressman and governor of Virginia who was pro slavery and a brigadier general in the Confederate Army.  At the time Wise County was formed the east boundary was two miles west of the present.  Breckinridge County (now Lyon) named for John C. the Kentucky congressman, later vice-president under Buchannan, later a Confederate general, was established at the same time.  When Chase County was established February 11th, 1859, Wise County was changed to Morris and lost some of its territory to Chase, but gained some of Davis County (now Geary).  February 5th, 1862 Breckinridge was changed to Lyon in honor of General Nathaniel Lyon who died at Wilson’s Creek Missouri the previous year.  In 1864 Morris gained the two mile strip on the east which contained Agnes City.

Records from the national archives state that the Agnes City post office was established in Wise County on November 1st, 1856.  According to the county boundaries this is impossible; it had to have been in Breckinridge County.  April 9th of 1857 Emanuel Mosier, postmaster of Agnes City, received a paper from the contract office to be filled out in order that the topographer could determine the relative positions of the post offices.  Mosier or somebody crossed out Breckinridge County and wrote in Morris above.  Morris was not the name of the county at the time the paper was dated.  Agnes City could not have been in present Morris County until the eastern two miles were acquired in 1864.  I leave it to a better scholar to reconcile the differences.

About 1972 an archaeological dig uncovered the foundation of Baker’s home.  One source I found said the dig site was on Ralph and Floyd Richards’ land in township 16, range 10, section 7; I assumed Lyon County as that section was very near the actual location.  I will also assume that this location is in accord with a pre-1864 map of Lyon County; a quick glance at a current plat map will show this to be incorrect as Rock Creek is nowhere near this section.  We know from historical accounts that Baker’s home and store were located on Rock Creek near the Santa Fe Trail.  Baker’s land is in township 16, range 9, section 12 of Morris County.  Patents of 1863 show this tract belonging to Baker.

Baker’s house was situated on the west side of Rock Creek and very near the Santa Fe Trail.  Over time flooding has caused the course of Rock Creek to change.  The creek now runs on the west side of the location of Baker’s house.  One source that I can neither prove nor disprove states that the store was located 100 feet southeast of the house.  During the dig performed on the premises the remains of a corset, bone handled toothbrush, pipe bowl, thimbles, spectacles, tintype and a woodwind instrument were found.  Parts of weapons were found around the doors and windows which would seem to confirm the old stories that Baker kept ammunition on his window sills in the event he needed them.  After they were done with the excavation they covered everything up again and left it as it was before, mainly to be forgotten, and prevent looting.  The artifacts that were recovered are in storage at the Kansas State Historical Society.

I must correct myself from last week as I said “So ended Arthur Baker and the first Agnes City.”  I knew this and don’t know why I said it, but that was not the end of the first Agnes City.  There were two more postmasters appointed at the first Agnes City after Baker was killed.  As I have said it is very difficult to recreate the community of the first Agnes City, but it is evident that there were a number of homes and a considerable number of people living in that area, being more or less concentrated.  The 1860 census shows that eleven persons were living in Baker’s home.  Maloy said that the Secors were living on Baker’s land.  Other foundations and ruins in the area are witness to the families who once lived there.

Possibly even greater evidence is in a little forgotten cemetery which lies just over the line in Lyon County.  This cemetery is located about three fourths to a mile east of the first Agnes City and very near the Santa Fe Trail.  Within this cemetery is a family burial plot enclosed with decorative wire fence, no stones to mark the graves, yet it has been passed down through family that a Gilbert with several children are buried there.  There are many other graves in this cemetery but only two stones; Albert and Willie Swenson.  I found the very same Willie Swenson listed on the Agnes City cemetery roll provided by the Lyon County Library in Allen.  Why is Willie listed on the Agnes City Cemetery roll when his stone and I would hope his remains are four miles away from said cemetery?  His brother Albert is not listed on the roll and I cannot figure why these two were buried at this little forgotten cemetery when the Agnes City Cemetery had been in use for nearly a decade.  It is my belief that this forgotten cemetery was the first Agnes City Cemetery.

The second Agnes City, which most readers would be familiar with today, was established in Lyon County on Bluff Creek on June 15th, 1871.  This is approximately four miles due east of the first or ‘Rock Creek’ location.  The post office at the second Agnes City operated until June 6th, 1891.  Now all that remains is a granite Santa Fe Trail marker erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution.  From 1906 to 1912 the D.A.R. placed these markers all along the Santa Fe Trail.  One was place at the location of the second Agnes City but, as I understand it, was moved to the Agnes City cemetery in 1972.

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