Cottonwood Crossing
Marion County, Kansas

Cottonwood Crossing Kiosk on the Santa Fe Trail
Cottonwood Crossing Kiosk

     George Smith's trading ranche at Cottonwood Creek Crossing, seventeen and a half miles southwest of Lost Spring, was well established by the time Major John Sedgwick's troops arrived at the crossing in May 1857. At that time Smith was conducting business from a lone log cabin. By 1858, a mail station was established at the ranche where Smith sold hay, corn, and provisions necessary to travelers of that day. In the fall or the same year, Smith sold the ranche to the Moore brothers, Abraham Atlantic and Ira E, and moved to Lost Spring where he established a similar enterprise subsequently operated by Costello and Wise. The Moores, born in Ohio, had migrated to Illinois and Wisconsin before moving to Missouri. At Independence, they were employed by Col. Collins, superintendent of Indian Affairs at Santa Fe, to drive an ambulance to Santa Fe. On the return trip, they stopped at Smith's Ranche. Impressed with the business opportunity at the crossing, the Moores purchased the ranche from Smith, taking immediate possession. At some later date, a second log house was added, and Abraham, commonly known as Lank, filed a claim of 160 acres at the crossing.

     In 1861, a post office named Moore's Ranche was established at the ranche with Ira Moore as postmaster. In the same year, Lank opened a store in Marion; and in the following year he married Nancy D. Waterman at Council Grove. Bringing his bride to live in Marion Centre, Lank left the operation of the ranche in the hands of William Shreve.

     In 1864, the single difficulty with Indians at the ranche occurred. Seeing some 100 Indians approaching the ranche, a Mrs. Griffin and Hannah Billings and baby secluded themselves in one of the log houses. Two hired men, Doc Roberts and Silas Locklin, climbed to the roof of the house intent on using the chimney as a shield. There they argued with the Indians over their demands until one of the men was hit by a spear. Subsequently, the Indians left the helpless men on the rooftop and drove off thirty head of cattle.

     In 1865, Shreve died, but his daughter stayed on at the ranche to operate a boarding house. In this connection, Charity Shreve was assessed a fee for a dram shop license by the Marion County Board of Commissioners. In 1865, the boundary lines or Marion County were changed to include all of Peketon County which extended westward to the Colorado line. To support the little school in Marion Centre, trading ranches located in the county were required to pay a dram Iicense fee. Such fees were collected during 1865-66 from as far west as Walnut Creek where Charles Rath paid for a six months' license in 1866.

     By this time, the area surrounding the ranche was attracting settlers and local farmers began supplying the ranche with hay, grain, and other farm products, the favorite being watermelons.

     In the same year, Marion County was separated from Chase County, each county being organized with a government of its own. Lank Moore was appointed to the county treasurer's position replacing Thomas Wise, proprietor of the Lost Spring Station, who resigned after being elected to both the positions of county treasurer and commissioner. In November 1865, Moore was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives. Voters returned him to that office in 1867 and 1871. In 1868, he served a single term in the Kansas Senate. A man of much influence in Marion Centre, Moore was largely responsible for the construction of a two-story stone school house and the Presbyterian Church.

     Stage service through Marion County was discontinued in 1866, but the ranche continued operation under new management following the death of William Shreve. However, with the arrival of the railroad in 1871, the Moore brothers ceased operation of the ranche, and directed their energies to cattle business. In the year of the railroad's arrival, Lank Moore was wintering 1,800 cattle at the crossing.

     Brother Ira, in 1872, joined Charles Fuller, proprietor of the Turkey Creek Ranche in the construction of a grist mill on Cottonwood creek two miles west of Marion Centre. Nine years later, Lank Moore left the county, moving to Prescott, Arizona.




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