My Present Past
A genealogical experience
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Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad
Due to health reasons, Mr. D. L. Lakin resigned his position as the acting Land Commissioner for the Atchison
Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad in 1872.. He was  replaced by Mr. A. E. Touzalin, a man with great energy and a
knowledge that there were future possibilities that lay in the accomplishment of his job. The Pottawatomie
land sale and the continued appraisal and survey of the lands was well under way before Mr. Touzalin had
secured the position. The sale of the grant land had been started  with the appointment of a few local agents at
the east end of the grant. The most noteworthy of these agents was the firm of Case and Billings at Marion,
Kansas. They were the agents who secured the first wave of Mennonite settlers to that area.

Mr. Touzalin first proceeded to organize a land and immigration department, finish the surveys and appraisals
that were about half way done, conclude the Pottawatomie land sales and finally to devise a plan of selling and
colonizing the land grant with the utmost efficiency.
In 1870 the first three land appraisers in Kansas
for the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe were:

Capt. R. M. Spivey, Col. A. S. Johnson and J. B. McAfee
Mr. Touzalin in 1873 appointed C. P. Bolmar to
supervise the office details,
D. N. Hizer to replace
J. B. McAfee as a land appraiser and hired
Mr. Armstrong as a civil engineer.
Had it not been for Cornelius Jansen, the Prussian Consul at Berdiansk, telling his Mennonite followers of the
agreement made during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, which would lead to the removal of the 100 year
protection granted by Empress Catherine II in 1783, the Mennonites probably would not have fled Russia to
come to the United States during the period of 1871-1883. The Russian Government having heard of what
Jansen had done immediately expelled he and his family, who then came to the United States in 1872.
Meanwhile, Mr. Touzalin having heard of the demise of the conditions in Russia realized that this would be an
ideal situation to bring these hard working and thrifty people to the Kansas prairies. He hired a young German
merchant,
Carl B. Schmidt from nearby Lawrence, Kansas to be the Immigration Commissioner. Mr. Schmidt
wrote and spoke the German language well and was at the time corresponding for several newspapers in
Germany. After hiring Mr. Schmidt he sent him directly to Russia to get in touch with the Mennonites.
Also around 1870 the Santa Fe land agents at Marion, Kansas had sold
Mr. M. W. Keim of Johnstown,
Pennsylvania about five thousand acres of land in Marion County. Mr. Keim was a devote Mennonite and his land
acquisition had proved to be very worthy to him. He and others who were living in Marion County soon wrote
back to Germany and Russia describing how favorable their land and prospects were in Kansas.
In 1873 Mr. Schmidt induced
Cornelius Jansen to visit the Santa Fe land grants. The two men spent about a
week travelling over the land and since
Jansen was very influential with the sect, the favorable impression that
he gained soon proved of much help to the Land Department in its attempts to secure Mennonite Colonists.
The Mennonites of Russia after hearing that their privileges were soon to be revoked, sent a delegation of five
to ascertain the reports  concerning America. The men visited Harvey, Sedgwick, Reno, Marion and McPherson
counties and were very pleased of the conditions and soon purchased land in these counties before returning to
Russia to pack up and move their families to Kansas.
Above:
1875 map of the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad

Right:
1875 Stocks and Securities periodical Pg 75

Below:
Land Grant Sales of the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad
Year
Total Acres
Average Price
Total Sales
1871
71,801.51
$5.81 per acre
472
1872
45,328.81
$5.81 per acre
277
1873
133,507.3
$5.81 per acre
830
1874
200,459.96
$5.81 per acre
1261
Of the 1261 sales for 1874, the purchases averaged about 160 acres each. Of the total purchases 461 came
from Illinois, 327 from foreign countries, 122 from Kansas, 89 from Iowa, 52 from Ohio 50 from Indiana and
30 from Massachusetts. The rest came from 20 other scattering states.
The severe drought and grasshopper plague of 1874 practically destroyed the Kansas corn crop in the Arkansas
Valley. A fair yield of wheat was secured in the older portions of the state but since there were now many
thousands of newly located  settlers depending almost wholly upon their first crop of sod corn for a start,much
suffering ensued during the fall and winter of 1874-75. Many substituted as long as they could on what little
livestock they had and then lived on public charity. Others left the State, the railroad giving them free
transportation back east. Organized relief work was immediately begun. People in the older states east of the
Missouri gave liberally to the sufferers, while railroads in many cases handled these famine supplies free of
charge. In Kansas a State Relief Committee was organized and with this Committee the Santa Fe warmly
cooperated. For the year ending December 31, 1875, the company transported free of charge large amounts of
freight of which the Mennonites, according to contract, received 1,798,000 pounds and on account of the
grasshopper plague the railroad hauled gratis 9,972,000 pounds of supplies- food, clothing and implements.
Bulky commodities like grain or coal were moved at the minimal cost. In addition, the Company gave the needy
farmers along its line thousands of bushels of seed wheat for the fall planting of 1874 and 1875.
Meanwhile, Mr. Touzalin, finding himself out of harmony with the President of the Santa Fe, Thomas Nickerson
had resigned in 1874.
Mr. Nickerson then appointed Col. A. S. Johnson, Acting Land Commissioner and in 1880,
Johnson was given the combined title of Land and Tax Commissioner.

Alexander S. Johnson was born in what is now Johnson County, Kansas, July 11, 1832. His father, Rev. Thomas Johnson, was a
Missionary to the Shawnee Indians. Alexander was educated in the Shawnee Mission School, completing his studies in a college in
Fayette, Missouri in 1851. He was then engaged for three years in the mercantile business in and about Kansas City. In 1854 he
left this business  to become
Deputy U. S. Surveyor, which work engaged him for several years. In 1855 he was elected to the
first Territorial Legislature of Kansas; in 1866 he served another term  as State Representative from Johnson County. Shortly
after the Civil War began, Johnson organized a military company  which was finally merged  into the Thirteenth Kansas Militia, of
which he was appointed a Lieutenant-Colonel by then Governor Carney. He was under arms nearly four years. From 1866 to 1870
Col. Johnson was Land Commissioner of the  Missouri River Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad. From 1870 to 1874, he was in the service
of the Santa Fe Land Department as a surveyor and appraiser; from 1874 to
1880 acting Land Commissioner; and from 1880 to
1890, Land and Tax Commissioner of the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. After retiring from the Atchison Topeka & Santa
Fe Railroad,
Alexander S. Johnson lived in Topeka, Kansas until his death in 1904.
In 1875 a large publicity campaign was
launched by Col. Johnson to spur interest
in the Land Grants of the railroad. Large
advertisements were placed in small and
large newspapers across the country.


The background of this page is one of
those advertisements.