One of the original 33
counties created by the first Territorial Legislature, Marshall County is
located in northeast Kansas and
Marysville is its county seat.
Rich in history,
Marshall County was for years, a vast prairie covered
with a waving sea of wild grasses and large herds of
buffalo that for centuries
had wandered almost unmolested across them. Nothing disturbed the solitude, save
an occasional band of
Indians in search of prey or the hardy frontiersman who is
always found far in advance of the onward march of civilization. The first known
white men to visit the area were the
Expedition, who passed through the area in 1819 and 1820 on their way from
Pennsylvania to the
General John C. Fremont led a
similar expedition through what is now Marshall County in the early 1840’s, and
in 1847 John Smith, the
Mormon Apostle, with his band of followers from
Illinois, opened a permanent trail crossing the
Big Blue River six miles below
the present-day city of Marysville. The spot was afterwards called "Mormon" as
it it became a regular camping place for Mormon people who, in the next
two years, crossed the plains by the thousands. In 1849 this trail was used by
California gold hunters and the place was called "California Crossing." Later it
was known as Independence Crossing.
It was at this popular
crossing that the first settler, A.G. Woodward, made his home in 1848. The next
year, the Military Route from Fort Leavenworth to the Great Salt Lake was
surveyed, which located a more practical crossing of the Big Blue River, about
six miles above the old ford.
The same year, in the
midst of the California Gold Rush, Francis J. Marshall, from
Missouri established a ferry on the Big
Blue River at the original crossing, then called the Independence Crossing.
During the season of travel he remained there, but returned to Missouri every
winter. In the spring of 1851, he moved his ferry to the upper crossing, in what
is today, Marysville, Kansas.
Until 1854, Marshal continued to spend his winters in Missouri,
but each spring would return to operate his ferry. He also built a row of rude
log cabins, established a blacksmith shop, and opened a small general store,
that in addition to minimal supplies, also stocked low grade tobacco and
whiskey, which he traded with the Indians.
In the spring of 1854, James McCloskey,
a Scotchman by birth, who had been an Indian trader among the
Sioux on the Upper
Platte River since 1839, and who had adopted the Indian habits, "came in this country
with a half dozen other traders and their families, and decided to settle. The
party was invited by Francis J. Marshall to settle in Marysville. They also received an
urgent invitation from Louis Tremble, a
Potawatomie half-breed, who had located
a short time previously on the Vermillion River, at "Independence Crossing,"
where he maintained a toll bridge, to settle near him. McCloskey and family
located on the Big Blue River near Marysville, while the balance of the party
settled on the