Early settlers were driven to start new towns for speculation and making money in early Anderson County. This is why some thirty two towns were scattered over Anderson County. In looking across the county today you can only see evidence of the presence of eleven of these towns that held the hopes and dreams of the founders. Few of these newly planted towns became thriving cities and Mount Gilead was one of those dreams.
When Mount Gilead was platted Greeley was just a year old being established in the spring of 1856. Mt. Gilead was organized and established by the town company of Rufus Gilpatrick, J.G. Blunt, Henry Nugent, Willis Ayres, J.F. Wadsworth and others. Some references state the name of the town company was Pottawatomie Town Company and organized September 11, 1857. A plat of the town was presented to a notary public to be certified and July 21, 1858, the survey and plat was filed in the recorder’s office. One reference states at this time the name of the town was changed to Mount Gilead. The town was located approximately a mile west of Greeley on what now is a feedlot. Stores and a saw mill were erected in the fall of 1857. Somehow in 1858 they managed to get the post office at Greeley called Walker moved to Mount Gilead and most of Greeley’s stores moved from there to Mount Gilead. Mail started in Osawatomie, through Walker to Hyatt and on to Neosho City. The town grew rapidly.
The Congregational Church established a church in Mount Gilead/Walker and their first meeting was April 2, 1859, in the home of Wakeman Partridge. The last entry n the record for the Mount Gilead Congregational Church was in September, 1860.
It was soon discovered the location of Mount Gilead/Walker was not ideal and not a wise decision. The problem was water. They discovered the distance to dig to the water table was too far to be readily accessible for hand digging wells. Soon the post office and businesses started moving back to Greeley, which set on the banks of South Fork Pottawatomie Creek with a good source of water. By 1880 the town was abandoned and the land and one remaining building of Mount Gilead/Walker became a part of General James G. Blunt’s farm.
Two men are mentioned associated with Mount Gilead being important in eastern Kansas history and the Civil War, Dr. Rufus Gilpatrick and his nephew, General James G. Blunt. Both of these men were members of the Pottawatomie/Mount Gilead Town Company.
Rufus Gilpatrick was an active member of the Underground Railroad in Ohio. He helped move runaway slaves from Cincinnati north through Darke County to the Canadian Border. He was known to be an active worker and knew all the stations on the route north. Rufus moved with his family north of Greeley in the fall of 1855. Gilpatrick was a doctor. However, he soon joined John Brown, Junior’s, “Pottawatomie Rifle Company.”
Because of the strife along the Kansas Border between Free State and pro-slavery adversaries the state became known as “Bleeding Kansas”. Gilpatrick knew John Brown well and identified him as the leader of the Potawatomie Massacre at a meeting in Osawatomie after the massacre.
During the Battle of Osawatomie in 1856 he was leading a company of Anderson County men to help John Brown. In August of the same year Missouri pro-slavery raiders’ camp was attacked by Reid’s Army. A group of pro-slavery men were raiding Greeley looking for Gilpatrick to hand him, but retreated when they learned of the raid on their own camp.
A Free State squatter’s court was organized in November, 1858, to settle land disputes in Linn, Anderson and Bourbon Counties. Rufus Gilpatrick was elected judge. He would use his copy of “Gunn’s Domestic Medicine or A poor Man’s Friend in the Hours of Affliction, Pain and Sickness” to swear witnesses in because he didn’t have a copy of the Holy Bible. As a member of the Osawatomie Convention in 1859 he helped organize the Republican Party in Kansas Territory. He was elected county superintendent of public instruction in 1859 and in 1860 was elected to the Territorial Legislature and serving when Kansas admitted as a state.
Gilpatrick’s service during the Civil War started in 1861as an informal soldier for the Union Army, a “secret detective” along the border. He was at the Battle of Webber Falls in Cherokee Territory in April, 1863. His death occurred when he was killed by Confederates when he went outside the lines to treat Confederate casualties of Cherokee General State Watie. Gilpatrick exposed himself protecting the ladies of a Rebel Officer’s household at Webster Falls. He died 25 April, 1863, and is buried at Fort Gibson National Cemetery, Fort Gibson, Muskogee County Oklahoma.
James Gilpatrick Blunt, nephew of Rufus Gilpatrick was born in 1826 in Trenton, Maine. As a fifteen year old he ran away from home and went to sea serving on a merchant ship. He must have learned quickly and by the age of 20 years was a ship’s captain.
In 1845, he was attending Starling Medical College in Columbus, Ohio. After graduation he set up his practice in New Madison, Ohio, and was married to Nancy G. Putman. Blunt moved the family to Kansas in 1856 to join his uncle, Dr. Rufus Gilpatrick, in medical practice. Blunt was an adamant abolitionist and joined John Brown leading forces against the pro-slavery raiders. Blunt also helped in the framing of the Kansas Constitution and served as a militia committee chairman.
With the Civil War in 1861 Blunt received an appointment as the lieutenant colonel of the 2nd Kansas Volunteer Regiment. Following a year of service he was promoted to brigadier general and was commander of the Department of Kansas and established the Kansas Army. He fought in the First Battle of Newtonia in Missouri; the Battle of Old Ft. Wayne, Oklahoma; and the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas. In 1863 he was promoted to major general and in March, 1863, and established Ft. Baxter in Cherokee County, Kansas. July, 1963, found Blunt leading a Union victory at Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma. This battle was unusual as Native Americans and African Americans made up the forces on both sides of the engagement.
October, 1863, brought trouble to Blunt when he made a military blunder and let Quantrill’s Raiders, Confederate, kill over one hundred of Blunts escorts when transferring command from Ft. Scott, Kansas, to Ft. Smith, Arkansas. However, Blunt redeemed himself in 1864 when he won victories at the Battle of Westport and the Second Battle of Newtonia, both in Missouri.
After the war Blunt and family moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, and he established a medical practice in the city. However, Blunt decided to study law and was admitted to the Kansas Bar, 1869. He again moved in 1869 to Washington, D.C. He practiced law here until he died. Brigadier General James G. Blunt died 27 July, 1881, in Washington, D.C. He is buried at Mount Muncie Cemetery, Lansing, Leavenworth County, Kansas.
References to the town of Pierce can be found at the Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas. There is the only place this writer has found mention of it. Pierce was supposed to have been started near Greeley by pro-slavery sympathizers to help swing the election to make Kansas a pro-slavery state.
Brigadier James G. Blunt, Co-Founder of Mt. Gilead.