Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A few things on Saratoga, Kansas -a dead town in Pratt County

Source: Fort Hays State University


Saratoga, Kansas, once had aspirations to be the Pratt County seat.

Today, it is just a wheat field.

Here are a few things I've discovered while researching this story. I'll be heading to Saratoga Friday.

Click here for a link to whose buried in the little Saratoga Cemetery.

An excerpt from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / 

There were a few settlers (in Pratt County) in 1876, but in 1877 over 100 families came, many of them from Iowa. The county was attached to Reno that year as a municipal township. The bogus organization was set aside in the fall of 1878, and in the spring of 1879 the citizens petitioned the governor for organization. A census taker was appointed and upon receiving the returns Gov. St. John issued a proclamation organizing Pratt county, with Iuka as the temporary county seat and the following temporary officers: County clerk, L. C. Thompson; commissioners, John Sillin, Thomas Goodwin and L. H. Naron. The election was held on Sept. 2nd, when the following officers were elected: County clerk, L. C. Thompson; clerk of the district court, Samuel Brumsey; probate judge, James Neely; treasurer, R. T. Peak; sheriff, Samuel McAvoy; county attorney, M. G. Barney; superintendent of public instruction, A. H. Hubbs; register of deeds, Phillip Haines; surveyor, J. W. Ellis; coroner, P. Small; commissioners, John Sillin, L. H. Naron and Thomas Goodwin.

For county seat there were three candidates, Saratoga, Iuka and Anderson. In the count the commissioners threw out three townships on account of irregularities. This gave the election to Iuka, but caused so much dissatisfaction that a recount was taken, including the votes previously thrown out. No candidate then had the majority and a new election was ordered. Anderson withdrew. The election was held Aug. 19, 1880. An attempt on the part of Saratoga to buy votes became public before the election, Iuka received an overwhelming majority and was declared the permanent county seat.
The next year some of the county officials were found guilty of swindling the county by issuing scrip illegally, in the two years after the county was organized they had taken nearly $75,000 or about $40 for every man, woman and child in the county. They were prosecuted and new officers elected. In the fall of 1885 there was another county seat election. The candidates were Iuka, Saratoga and Pratt. It was one of the most bitterly contested county seat elections ever held in the state. Saratoga had 546 votes and Pratt 324.

As the total number of voters at Saratoga was but 200 fraud was charged, the commissioners sustained the charges and declared Pratt the county seat. The matter was taken into the courts, and pending the decision the feeling ran high. The Saratoga and Pratt partisans were all armed and trouble was hourly expected. The Pratt men went to Iuka and forcibly removed the county records. On the way back they were attacked by the Saratoga men, who succeeded in capturing the treasurer's safe, which they took to their town. The next day Saratoga made an attack on Pratt in a fruitless effort to get the other county property.

By this time the more peaceable citizens asked the governor to send militia to restore order. Gov. Martin sent Adjt.-Gen. Campbell and Col. W. F. Hutchinson to the county. They stationed guards at both towns and allowed no one to carry arms. Finally the supreme court handed down its decision and ordered the records taken back to Iuka. Matters quieted down, but the county seat contest was not yet forgotten, and in Feb., 1888, a petition was presented to the commissioners asking for a special election to relocate the county seat.

The election was held on Feb. 29 of that year, and Pratt was the winning candidate. The question was settled at last.

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