The Oregon Trail through Pottawatomie County -- part three
page 10Kansas State Historical Society.

No. 1. The famous Scott spring on the Oregon Trail at second great camping place in Pottawatomie county. Robert Scott in left foreground. (Jan., 1928.)

No. 2. Grave of T. S. Prather, died May 27, 1849. He and 45 or 60 others all died of cholera in May, 1849, buried in N. W. 1/4, sec. 24, at Vieux ford.

No. 3. From just above Scott spring. View of second camping spot. Right center, bridge across Rock Creek on state highway No. 11 at old ford. Looking northwest, the town of Westmoreland. (Photo taken January, 1928.)

No. 4. Oregon Trail, section 32, McProud place, looking northwest. Box Elder creek in distance. At right of where trail crosses creek, grave of Henry Rouschi of Ill. This portion of trail grown up with buck brush. (Photo taken January, 1928)

No. 5. Where Oregon Trail crossed Rock Creek just west of bridge on state highway No. 11, near Westmoreland.

No. 6. Oregon Trail, section 32, McProud place. Just after crossing Box Elder creek. Trail running northwest. (Photo taken January, 1928.)

No. 7. Oregon Trail in section 32, McProud place, looking northwest. This picture shows trail just rest of where men are standing in No. 4, 150 yards wide here. (1928.)

page 11The Oregon Trail.

  Thus we pass from another tragedy of the trail, but before passing it would seem proper that some tribute be paid to Henry Rouschi, who may have left a wife or sweetheart in the state of Illinois when he started out upon the long trail of gold.

  The following lines are dedicated to his memory by Whitelaw Saunders, of Wamego, who is a member of the Poetry Society of America. There are but four members of this society in the state of Kansas.

"HENRY ROUSHI OF ILL. died May 8th, 1849."
Buried near center of N. W.1/4 of Sec. 32, Union township, Pottawatomie county,
Kansas. Farm of Lawrence McProud.


 Where now the dust of this adventurer
 Whom black disease, in swift, unequal fight,
 Gave, as a spoil, to death?  It does not know
 The licking, black flames of an endless night!
 Moon after moon he slept upon this hill,
 His burial blanket fingered by the wheat,
 And all the prairie's gold scattered about
 To mock the lust of gold that brought defeat.
 The hungry years with paws of shining plows
 Have scratched with eagerness his bit of ground,
 And in the market place the curious see
 The fragment of his stone that chance has found.
 Nor may Time place a period to the tale 
 As long as singing winds are on the trail.

  The second great camping ground on the Oregon Trail in Pottawatomie county was in the northwest corner of the southwest quarter of section 3, also the southeast quarter of section 4. It was near the southwest corner of the

page 12Kansas State Historical Society.

northeast quarter of section 4, on Rock Creek, where the present bridge crosses the creek on the state highway No. 11, about three-quarters of a mile southeast of Westmoreland, near what is known as the Scott spring. This camping ground was about eighteen miles from the first camp at the Louis Vieux ford on the Vermillion. There is also another large spring west of the present courthouse in Westmoreland, which was used as a camping place. This spring is about three-quarters of a mile northwest of the Scott spring.

  Adam Scott, Sr., and his family moved from Scotland to the Scott farm which was in sections 3 and 4 in Pottawatomie township. This was in the

Wamego, Kansas.

summer of 1870. Robert Scott, of Wamego, one of the sons of Adam Scott, Sr., was a boy about fifteen years of age at that time and remembers the trail and camping places. At the time they lived on their farm there was a great deal of travel over the trail both ways. The trail coming down from the hills into Rock creek has been obliterated, but Mr. Scott remembers it well. He used to travel over this trail from his home on Rock creek part way to Louisville and Wamego. There was not much travel to the Far West at this time. But there mere no main roads and the trail was still in general use. The covered wagons of the homeseekers were still coming and going all the time. In the fall of 1871 three men camped at this camping ground with five hundred horses which they had driven from California. Missouri was their destination. The California travel was to a great extent eliminated by the railroads. But the trail was still used by those going west to take up land and make homes. Mr. Scott lived on the farm until nineteen years of age. Then he

page 13The Oregon Trail.

moved to Wamego and entered the banking business, in which business he remained for a period of about forty-four years. In 1919 he retired and still lives in Wamego.

  Mr. Scott remembers the grave at the entrance to the lane which leads to his old home. Also the child's grave mentioned by Chalmer Buffington. At the time the Scott family moved to Rock Creek there were very few houses in the vicinity of what is now the town of Westmoreland. A General store was run by a man named A. C. Cochran. It was located on the northwest corner of the McKimmens land, now included in the site of Westmoreland.

  The Grutzmacher and the Zabel families lived on Rock creek, near the present town of Westmoreland. There were very few settlers and all settlements were made along the creeks. Nobody lived on the uplands.

  The Oregon Trail crossed Rock creek near the northwest corner of the southwest quarter of section 3, in Pottawatomie township. It crossed immediately west of the wagon bridge over Rock creek on state highway No. 11. From there the trail passed across the present townsite of Westmoreland in the northeast quarter of section 4, Pottatwatomie township. From thence it ran in a general northwest direction.

  Chalmer Buffington came from Iowa via Marysville, to what is now Westmoreland, over the old trail, in 1865. Westmoreland at that time consisted of a farm house near the southeast corner of the townsite. In the house was a post office.

  Buffington was a boy about eight years of age at this time, but he remembers that there was a great amount of travel both ways upon the old trail. He also remembers how the huge caravans camped around Scott's spring near the Rock creek bridge, a short distance from Westmoreland. These campers at times covered the whole town site of Westmoreland. Mr. Buffington has a keen knowledge of the old trail and the tragedies connected with it in the vicinity of Westmoreland. He assisted in locating the grave of Marshall as well as the trail itself. He stated that there were three graves on East Armer street in Westmoreland. He also located a grave on the northwest corner of the east half of the southeast quarter of section 4, on the old Scott farm which he says is the grave of a child. On the John McKimmens farm, near the southeast corner of the northeast quarter of section 4, in Pottawatomie township, there were at one time three graves. But years afterwards the remains were removed by relatives. Again, Mr. Buffington pointed out a grave at the entrance to the lane which leads into the old Scott farm, just inside the corner of the fence, in section 3, Pottawatomie township. None of the graves mentioned, except Marshall's, have any headstones with inscriptions on them. One can readily realize that Buffington, as a barefoot boy of eight or ten years of age, did not fail to observe and know all these facts. None of the last-mentioned graves can be photographed. One-half mile west and two miles north of the town of Westmoreland, in Rock creek township, Pottawatomie county, is found evidence of the old trail. It is on the C. E. Morris estate in section 21. The marks are plainly visible in the northwest quarter of this section and can be seen at a distance of a quarter of a mile. After a crossing a little creek called Baldwin, the trail ran in a northwesterly direction up a slope of virgin prairie. It was from 100

page 14Kansas State Historical Society.

to 150 yards wide and five distinct parallel roads can be noted in the trail at this point.

  As these trails approach Baldwin creek from the north they become deeply rutted -- washed out by rains. West of where the trail crosses Baldwin creek in this section, about seventy-five yards from the road running north and

of Wadesboro, Kentucky.
This stone is now in the possession of the Kansas State Historical Society.

south, near the center of the west side of this section, is a lone grave. It is upon a very high promontory, overlooking the trail, the town of Westmoreland and the surrounding country. The Westmoreland Recorder, published by W. F. Hill, in the issue of July 19, 1906, gives the following history of the grave :

  "A grave on the hill a mile and a half north and west of Westmoreland is a relic of the California travel in 1849. The first settlers, when they came to this part of the country, found this grave. An inscription cut on a lime-

page 15The Oregon Trail.

stone rock3 and laid at the grave reads: 'S. M. Marshall, Wadesboro, Ky., died May 27, 1849.' Through the efforts of Rev. W. H. Brown, it was learned that Marshall was one of a party of Kentucky and Tennessee gold seekers that left Wadesboro, Ky., early in the year 1849, under the leadership of Ripley E. Dunlap. Marshall took the cholera and died. When dying he requested to be buried facing his old Kentucky home, where he had left a young wife. His relatives learned that he had died on the plains of Kansas, a week's travel beyond Independence, Mo. The inscription was cut on the stone by R. H. Stevens, who died in California. In 1904 R. W. Pirtle, of Cleburne, Tex., a, nephew of Marshall, learned of the location of the grave through the publication of an account of the grave. He said that he and another nephew, James Marshall, of Lafayette, Tenn., were the only living relatives of the deceased gold seeker."

  It will be noted that Prather and Marshall died on the same day, May 27, 1849. As stated before, all deaths occurred in May, 1849, so far as can be ascertained. A letter from the Hennessy brothers, of Blaine, Ken., says that their father went to California from St. Louis during the gold rush. He went by way of Nicaragua and returned by the Panama route. He moved to Kansas in 1878 and located on a farm in the Clear creek township, Pottawatomie county. The old trail was still used as a highway. The Hennessy brothers state that there is a grave on the east side of the trail on the James Quigley farm, about fifty or sixty rods south of his house in section 4, Rock Creek township. A native stone that once stood at the head of the grave bore the inscription, "Here rests the unknown." Mr. Hennessy knows exactly where the trail ran through Rock Creek and Clear Creek townships, this county. He joins with the rest of the people in the idea that it should be marked while some vestige of it remains.

  Thus we close tragedies of the Oregon trail in Pottawatomie county. For more than three-quarters of a century Prather, Rouschi and Marshall, and the other and unknown victims of a cruel fate, have slumbered "in the narrow houses appointed for all living."

            A PRAIRIE GRAVE. 

He wore a pack in which he kept his dreams
  Safe from the greedy, clawing hands of scorn,
And bundled with them were his scribbled themes
  For songs . . . starved words and melody unborn.
Some gold he had, fine cold tilt moon had spilled
  And he had gathered it with laughing jest,
And with his poled and shouldered pack so filled
  He turned with flaming ardor to the West.
Out on the prairies where his trail unrolled
  A leaping arrow, like an adder's tongue,
Rifled his pack of dreams, of shimmering gold,
  And all the thin, sweet words of songs unsung.
But on his grave a wild plum thicket grows
  With songs and dreams and beauty in its snows.

            ---  Whitelaw Saunders

3 This tombstone was given to the Kansas State Historical Society February 28, 1928, by Mr. Billings, on whose land the grave was located.

page 15 continued in part four table of contents Kansas Collection