Old Settlers' Tales by F.F. Crevecoeur

Among the earliest settlements made near here was that at America City. The 25th of May, 1856, there arrived at that place eight families, who drove through from Iowa with oxen. These families were as follows:

Sandford H. Eddy and his wife, Caroline, who were natives of New York, and who had gone to Iowa in 1855 with their children, Theodore I., Eugenia, and Julius.

Hiram Dean, his wife and three sons, John, Frank, and Oscar, and a daughter, Margaret.

Daniel Arnold, his wife and child, Willie.

Daniel Benthusen Benson, his wife and son, George, and daughter, Susan.

Hezekiah Scrutchfield, his wife and three daughters, Mary, Alice, and Martha and Mary.

Garrett Randall, his wife, Sarah, and two sons, James and Robert.

George Randall, son of Garrett, and his wife, who was a daughter of James Armstrong.

Harve Randall, his wife and son, Kimball, and daughter, Mary.

These all located in or near to America City. We now follow the fortunes of the eight families near as we can learn them:

Hiram Dean died near America City about 1876. His wife, who was a midwife and attended the few births that occurred there then, one of which was that of Mary Ann Day, of Vienna, has gone to Missouri. Of their sons, Frank is in Washington, Oscar in Oregon, and John in Missouri.

Daniel Arnold moved back to Iowa, with his family, after he had been here two or three years.

Daniel Benthusen's wife died on the Eph McKee farm, and he went to Missouri. His son, George, entered the Union Army, and is now living at Rich Hill, Mo. The daughter, Susan, went to Missouri and died.

Hezekiah Scrutchfield died and was buried on his farm, now Samuel Zimmerman's. His daughter, Mary, is Sam Zimmerman's wife, Alice is at Rocky Ford, Colo., and Martha is in Wabaunsee county. His son, Isaac, died quite suddenly in 1876.

James Armstrong is now dead, but his widow is still living in Havensville. She is the only member of that colony, a head of a family, who is still living in the vicinity of her early Kansas home. The others all moved away or have passed to the great beyond. Her daughter, Martha, is Mrs. Abe McKee. Mary married John McComas, a brother of Dave, of Westmoreland, and is living in Pennsylvania. Her son, Harve, is still a resident of this locality. Mrs. Armstrong had three daughters born to her after she came to America City-Ellen, Olive, and Sarah. One of these married Frank Dean, now of Seattle, Wash., while the youngest, Sarah, married a Mr. Davis, and is now in Topeka.

Garrett Randall and his wife, Sarah, both died near America City. Of their sons, Robert is living on the old home place, while James is living in the vicinity of his father's farm. George Randall's wife died the same summer she moved here. Harve Randall and his wife are now living at Osage City, this state. His son, Kimball, is foreman of a bridge gang at Atchison. Harve Randall had a son, Henry, born in 1857, who is claimed to be the first male child born of white parents in the state. In connection with this statement we offer the following clipping, taken from the Topeka Mail and Breeze of June 22, 1901:

"The death of Colonel Montgomery Bryant, of Wichita, Monday, June 17, revives the controversy as to the first-born white child in Kansas. The dispatches announcing his death say he was 'unquestionably the first white man born in Kansas.' The claim to this distinction has been made by four men, Captain Lewis Bissell Daugherty, of Liberty, Mo., Colonel Montgomery Bryant, of Wichita, Col. A. S. Johnson, of Topeka, and William Berth, of Fort Scott. Captain Daugherty has the best claim. He was born at Fort Leavenworth, December 7, 1828. Colonel Bryant was born at Leavenworth, December 28, 1831, according to old records, but in May, 1831, according to a Wichita dispatch, Colonel Johnson was born in Shawnee Mission, July 11, 1832. William Berth was born in the barracks at Fort Leavenworth in February, 1840. According to a statement by W. W. Cone, of Brandsville, Mo., formerly of Kansas, the first authentic record of the birth of a white person in what is now known as Kansas (then Indian territory) was that of Napoleon Boone, in the year 1828, at the Kansas (or Kaw) Indian mission, near the present site of Williamstown, Jefferson county. This Napoleon Boone went to California at the time of the gold excitement, and died there a few years afterwards. The above Daniel Morgan Boone, a son of the Kentucky pioneer, was for six years the 'farmer' for the Kansas Indians."

To harmonize the two claims, we wish to suggest that perhaps Mr. Randall's son was the first male white child born on Kansas soil after the state was organized as a territory in 1850.

Sanford Eddy, his wife and three children, moved from America City to Savannah in 1866, where he bought out John Wilson. His daughter, Eugenia, was married the same year he moved to Savannah to (sic) Harve Armstrong, and died in 1876. His son, Julius, died here in May, 1873, aged 18 or 19 years. Mr. Eddy died in Havensville, in 1897. His wife had preceded him, having died in 1879, His son, T. I. married Martha Jacoby, of America City, in the Spring of 1866, and located on his father's farm and lived a number of years in a log house, as did his parents. He built the stone house which stands on his farm in 1874. Some Swedes by the name of Tureen did the mason work. His father built a frame house in 1877. T. I. Eddy is the father of twelve children, all living. We make room to mention the six oldest, who are: Ira, Delia (Mrs. Mel J. Thompson), Ernest, Hattie, Josie (Mrs. Lem Talbott), Julius, and Dora (Mrs. Ad Harris).

For several years after the pioneers located at America City they had to go to Missouri for provisions, as they had not yet raised any, and they also got their hogs there, for there was no one here of whom they could get any. Commencing with 1861, T. I. Eddy and others did freighting for a living from Atchison to Salt Lake City, and to a place 150 miles this side of the city. The trail they followed went by Marysville, Fort Kearney, and along the Platte river, and was known as the Mormon or Fremont trail. Two trips would be made a year, and it took them three weeks to make the trip one way. Oxen were used to do the hauling. Indians were thick in the country traversed by the freighters, and reports of murders and massacres were frequent, but the train that Mr. Eddy was in seemed to be a lucky one, as they were never molested, though rumors of killings either ahead of them or after they had passed were plentiful. The graves of those dying along the way, or who were killed, were marked by pieces of board, and these had the same effect on our freighters that the barrel of a revolver or a gun has on those into whose face it is thrust, when they seem to look as large as a stovepipe, for they appeared to be as numerous as the palings in a fence. On their first trip there would be stretches of country along the road traveled of 200 miles where not a house or ranch was seen. The boys, while freighting, made two trips to Denver. In 1866, in which year Mr. Eddy says we had the first grasshoppers, he made a trip in company with Harve Armstrong, William McKee (a brother of Eph), Pat Riley, and two others, one by the name of Cheatham and the other Runyan. In May, 1868, Mr. Eddy was out plowing when he saw the woman folks coming out of the house, which they stood and looked up at. He wondered what fancy they could have taken, and on making inquiries he was informed that the house had been shaking, which was so, as there had been a slight shock of earthquake, which made the dishes rattle and things generally move around. As Mr. Eddy was walking in loose dirt, he did not notice it as did those who stood on solid ground.

Charles Knox and wife, Jane, and children, John (who died soon after coming here), Robert, Matt S., and Margaret (who died in 1865), came from New York in 1856 and settled on the farm occupied by M. S. Knox. He died in 1866. Matt married Lovina Davis, in 1872. Robert married Charity Norris, in 1876. He died last year, in Nebraska. Charles Knox jr., was born here after his parents, Charles sr., and Jane, made Kansas their home.

Aaron McKee, who was a native of Virginia, came here from Indiana in 1857. His wife, Elizabeth, was a native of Ohio. He brought with him the following children: Nancy, who married Thomas Mercer about 1859 and died in 1862; Sarah Elizabeth, Mrs. Ben White; Massy, who married William White in 1866, and is living on Cedar creek, in the west part of the county; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Bart. He pre- empted the farm now owned by his son, Isaac. Abe married Miss Martha Armstrong, in 1863. His children are: Nancy, Della, Henry (who died in infancy< in 1867 or 1868), and Ada. He lived north of America City until after Havensville was built, when he moved to that town. Mr. McKee's daughter, Nancy, married John Dennis. Della became Mrs. Mack Tucker, now of Clifton, Kan. Ada is Mrs. Marion Parsons. Isaac married Olive Howe, in 1865. His children are: Charles; Elizabeth, who died at the age of 3 months, in 1867; Romine; Nellie, Mrs. Orin Martin, of Olsburg; and William Henry, who lives on the old place (his grandfather's). Isaac went to Washington county in 1866, where all of his children were born. He returned to this locality in 1878. Jacob married Eliza Russell, in 1866. He went to Washington county, where he settled, returning here in 1870 and buying the place he is now living on. His children, born in Washington county, are: Carrie, Mrs. Lee Dennis; Nettie, Mrs. William Rinebarger, of Marion county, this state; Mary, Mrs. Harry McDowell; and Willard. Charles was born after he returned. Bart was married to Matilda Dost, in 1872. He made his home for a year after he was married on the Andrew Tureen place, then bought 80 acres of his father's farm, on which he has since lived. His children are: Perry; Ada, Mrs. William Massey; and Maggie, Mrs. Jesse Jones, who lives north of America City. Grandpa Aaron McKee built a frame house in 1864.

One afternoon, in the fall of 1876, Bart McKee was outdoors, cutting corn from the cob with which to feed ducks. The house and outbuildings are near a ford in the Vermillion, known as the McKee crossing. It happened that the stream was running high from a heavy rain. Bart heard an outcry towards the ford. He quickly ran to see what was the matter, when he met a boy running along the road towards him, who said, "The horses are drowning." Mr. McKee hurried to the ford, while the boy, whose name was Flood, continued running up the road. Arriving at the ford, he saw a team and buggy in the water, and also a woman floundering about in the current. He at once jumped in, as he is a good swimmer, and made for the drowning person. When he reached her a sunbonnet was floating on the water, held to the person by the strings. The first grab he made was for the sunbonnet, but the strings broke, so he had to make another grab, and this time got his hand in her dress collar at the back of the neck. As he was rescuing this woman, who proved to be Mrs. Tom O'Meara, he saw further down the stream, what looked to him like a person's hair floating in the water. When he got Mrs. O'Meara to the bank he asked her if she could hold to some bushes that were at the water's edge, as he said he thought he saw another person in the water. Mrs. O'Meara said: "Yes; Mrs. Swift (Mrs. William Swift) is in the water, too." As Mrs. O'Meara seemed to be safe, Mr. McKee started to swim down the stream after Mrs. Swift, but soon saw he would have trouble to catch up with her that way, so he made for the bank and ran down until he had passed her, when, on looking for her, he saw her among a pile of drift which was coming towards him. He waited until it got near, when he jumped into the water again and made for the pile of drift. When he reached the drift she had sunk out of sight, so he made a number of grabs among the debris in an effort to get hold of her. At last his fingers caught in her dress, but at the same time she got hold of his left arm above the elbow, which she held in a vise-like grip, while with her person she interfered with him using one of his legs, so that he could use but one arm and one leg to swim out again. He saw he would have a desperate struggle to make his way out again, especially as the creek was going down and drawing everything towards the middle of the stream. All this time they were floating down the stream, and as Mr. McKee was about played out, he looked for some way to save himself as well as Mrs. Swift. They were approaching an overhanging willow tree, whose limbs nearly touched the water. He made for the tree, and in passing succeeded in getting hold of a small limb, to which he held while he was catching his breath. He saw while holding on that he could not do so very long, especially as Mrs. Swift was weighing him down, so he looked again to see if he could make his escape. He saw to one side a place the water made an eddy, as it was not in full current, and by a desperate effort he succeeded in getting there, where by letting down he barely touched bottom. But the water was continually ebbing and flowing, and would throw him rather towards the middle than towards the bank, so he had all he could do to hold his footing. As his strength returned, he made a number of lunges towards the bank, each lunge bringing him into a little more shallow water, where his footing became more and more secure, until he got into water that came about to his knees. Here he stopped, and, putting his lose hand under Mrs. Swift's back, raised up her head. He thought she was dead, and to all appearances she was; great quantities of water ran out of her mouth and nose, a quantity so great that Mr. McKee thought it was impossible for a human being to hold. After a while she gave sort of a shudder and a weak, little-gasp. This was repeated after an interval, and in a short time the gasps became more frequent. In due time she regained consciousness, when she relaxed her grip on his leg and arm, and opened her eyes. Such a look she gave!-a wild, frightened, desperate looking glare, which, even at this late day, overcome Mr. McKee with emotion as he was recounting the affair. But she recognized her rescuer at once, and said: "Is that you, Bart?" When both recovered sufficiently to get out of the water, he helped her to dry land. He was now wondering what had become of Mrs. O'Meara, and if she were still in the water. He left Mrs. Swift to follow leisurely, while he hurried to find Mrs. O'Meara. Arriving where he had left her, he found her being taken care of by his mother, who, also, had heard the cry at the commencement of this affair, and had come down to see what was the matter. Seeing that Mrs. O'Meara was safe, he next turned his attention to the horses, which were swimming or floating in a circle, one of them apparently dead, while the other was valiantly battling with the water. He jumped into the water a third time, and easily got the team to shallow water. They were no harder to manage, in spite of their size, than if they had been human beings, so he said. He cut them apart and soon had them safe. The one that seemed dead, when brought to where his head could be lifted out of the water, very soon came to himself. While the horses were being rescued, and everyone was looking on rather excited, Mrs. O'Meara disappeared. Then a hurried hunt for her was instituted, but she was nowhere to be seen. Mr. McKee had a hound, which he called to his aid, and the dog started up the road, followed by his master. Upon arriving at the open, and after leaving the creek for some distance, Mrs. O'Meara was seen about a mile distant. She had started to go home, but had got disoriented and was going in the opposite direction. When she got on top of a hill that the road she was following led over, she discovered her mistake, and, facing about, she started in the other direction, but took across the prairie to save distance. Mr. McKee also turned about and tried to head her off, but she was going so fast that he could not overtake her. Mr. McKee has the lasting gratitude of these two woman, as it was a very narrow escape from what would have been certain death should Mr. McKee have been indoors, where he would not have heard the cry for help.

Thomas Giles came to Grant township from the state of Indiana, with his wife, Mary, and son, Frank, in 1856 or 1857. His daughter, Elizabeth, was born here. He settled on a farm just east of where John Davis lives. He and his family are now in California.

Alexander Davis, with his wife, Melinda, and children, Sarah Lovina (Mrs. Mat Knox, [sic] Julia (Mrs. Oscar Coledren), John, Ellen (Mrs. O. W. Grover), Dora (Mrs. John Pogue), and James, came from Black Hawk county, Iowa, in 1857, and settled on the farm now occupied by his son, John. During the hard-times year of 1860 he drove back to Indiana with his family, where he had lived before he went to Iowa. He stayed there two years, when he returned to his Kansas home. Mr. Davis died about 1866. His widow went to Oregon with her son, James, several years ago, where she died. She was Mrs. Vance when she left here.

Mrs. Jane White, an aunt of Ben and John White, came to America City, from Iowa, with her children, William, James, Andrew, and George, in 1858. She settled on a farm north of America City. Elizabeth (Mrs. Eph McKee), another daughter, joined her mother, brothers and sisters, from Iowa, in the spring of 1860. That fall Mrs. White, with her family, went back to Iowa to spend the winter. The next spring James enlisted in the army, and the rest of the family came back to Kansas. After they returned, William and John (another son) enlisted here, in 1862. After the war, James returned to Iowa, where he married Catherine Kepler, coming back to Kansas about 1866. He is now in Iowa. John was married when he first came to Kansas. William married Massey, a daughter of Aaron McKee, about 1868. He is now living near Manhattan. Andrew married a Miss Bogle, and lived near Laclede, where he died about 1874. George was married to a Miss Vance, of Myers Valley, this county. He is now in Oklahoma. Eliza was married to Ed Whistler, of Wetmore. She is now Mrs. James Logan, of Manhattan. About 1867, Mrs. White sold her farm near America City and bought one on Rock creek, near Myers Valley. She died there in 1891.

Thomas Cross and his wife, Rebecca J. , who was a daughter of Mrs. Jane White. came to America City, from Iowa, in the fall of 1858. He pre-empted a farm cornering on the northeast corner of town site. About 1867 he traded for some property in that city. That year he again traded his property, consisting of his farm and city possessions, for the present Cross farm, on French creek (Pleasant Valley). About this time he became interested in a sawmill, which he and Eph McKee leased of John Wilson, and which he run for a while at Savannah.

Then he moved, with his family and mill, to St. Marys, then to Laclede. Mr. Cross had two children when he came to Iowa, Helen and Henry. Helen is Mrs. William Franklin, of St. Clere, while Henry is in Idaho. While living near America City two daughters were born to him-Alta J. (Mrs. Sam Jones, of Topeka), and Belle (Mrs. Zehner, of Onaga). Hattie (Mrs. Sage, of Topeka,) was born while he was living at Laclede. Mr. Cross died in Oklahoma, Sept. 2, 1884.

Ephraim McKee came to America City, from Iowa, in 1858, with his two brothers, William and Thomas. Thomas died at that place the next year. Eph had brought a large sawmill with him to Atchison, which he next moved to America City. He sold his mill to T. J. Roosa, in 1865. The mill had a burr attachment, with which cornmeal was ground. This was undoubtedly the first grist and sawmill brought to this neighborhood. Mr. Roosa sold the mill afterwards to --- Jackson, who run a grist mill at Cedar Bluffs, near W. D. Robbins' place. Eph married Elizabeth White, in 1862. His children are Rosa (Mrs. Ralph Colwell) and Thomas. Mr. McKee bought his farm of Daniel Benthusen. William McKee pre-empted a quarter section of land, which is now owned by Harry Whistler. He went back to Stark county, Ohio, in 1866.

George Grover and his wife, Martha, who were natives of New York, came here from Michigan, in June, 1859. He was accompanied by several married children and their families, who will be mentioned in their proper places, and two unmarried daughters, Amanda (who married Charles Pearson) and Hattie (Mrs. Steele, of Waterville, Kan.) He settled on the farm on Coal creek now owned by his son, Charles. He sent to St. Louis in 1862 or 1863 for a two-seated carriage, which was the first one brought to this locality. When he received it he was rather disappointed in his purchase, as he had been sent a wide- track vehicle instead of a narrow one. Mr. Grover died in 1877, and was buried in Regar cemetery. His remains have since been removed to the Onaga cemetery. His widow died a few years ago, and his daughter, Mrs. Pearson, is also dead.

Mrs. Marium Gillette , a daughter of George Grover, came with her husband and four sons, George, Albert, Eugene, and Charles, from Michigan, in October, 1859, and settled east of the Charles Grover farm, where they lived a while, then moved to Irving, in 1861 or 1862, and from there came and bought the Freeman farm, near Onaga, about 1870. Mrs. Gillette died in Onaga a couple of years ago. Her son, Ed, married Mary Cockerel about 1872 or 1873. George married Corinne Perrive, of Waterville, about the same time. Eugene married Gaurilla DeGraw about 1875. George is in Boise City, Idaho. Charles is in Lincoln county, Oregon. Eugene is in Jewell county this state.

Joseph Colwell and his wife, Merelda, who is another daughter of George Grover, came to Kansas in October, 1859, from Indiana, bringing his oldest son, William, now of Marshall county, with him. He settled on the Parallel, east of Charles Grover's place, and stayed there some time. He was a blacksmith by trade, and brought a forge and tools with him. One of the duties of his profession was to shoe oxen used in freighting across the plains. The animals were thrown on their backs, and the shoes were applied to them a half shoe for each toe. He afterwards bought the James Points place (the McBride farm), to which he moved and where he carried on his trade. Here he died in 1880. His other children, born here, are: Frank, of California; Ralph, of Havensville; Florence (Mrs. Johnston), of Soldier, Kan. Charles Grover, son of George, his wife, Mary, and son, C. M., came with his father, in June, 1859, and made his home with his parents.

John and William Sands, two bachelor brothers, came here from Maryland, in 1859 or 1860, and settled just north of the Stockwell farm. They went to Washington state in 1870.

John Shawver, a German, came here with his wife and four sons about 1860, and located the Charles Allen place. He was a blacksmith and set up a shop, where he worked at his trade all the time he lived here. When Savannah was a village he moved his shop there, where he kept it two years, moving back to his farm when the town died. He finally went to Montana, where he may still be living. One day Mr. Shawver had the occasion to do something about a reaper-a dropper-and in some manner the sickle bar fell, catching his hand and holding him fast. Charles Pitcher was working for him at the time, and happened to be not far off. Mr. Shawver cried at the top of his voice for Charlie to hurry and come and help him, and he was soon released. But for Charlie's timely help he would have been badly hurt.

John Wilson came to Savannah, from Indiana, in 1861 or 1862, and settled on what is now the T. I. Eddy farm. The house where he lived stood west of the present Eddy house, near the creek. He was accompanied by his wife and several children, two of whom were boys (Marion, who is now dead, and Lafayette, at present living in Soldier). He also had a daughter, Savannah, after whom the postoffice (sic) at that place was named, and two other children, who died while he was living here and who were buried where Mr. Eddy's garden now is. A Peter Prow brought a sawmill to that place, and had Mr. Eddy secure a payment on it. The mill eventually became Mr. Wilson's property, and he leased it one year to Eph McKee and Thomas Cross. He afterwards sold the mill to Heath & McComas, who moved it to Missouri. Mr. Wilson went from here to Circleville, Jackson County, in 1866, where he died.

Henry Pitcher, who was from Saxe Weimar, and his wife, Louisa, from Hesse Darnestadt, Germany, came to the United States in 1843, and settled in New York. They came to Kansas in 1865, with four sons. Charles, Adam, John, and William. Mr. Pitcher came on the cars as far as Atchison, driving through from there in a wagon. He bought the farm on which he lived of William Sillix. His other children, born here, are: Fred, Carrie (Mrs. Frank E. Heath), Matilda (Mrs. B. F. Thompson), Rosetta (Mrs. C. R. Patch), and Henry, jr. Mr. Pitcher died on his farm, in 1888.

Henry Regar, who was a native of Pennsylvania, and his wife, Isilla, who was born in New Jersey, came to Kansas, from Indiana, in the spring of 1865. He bought out James Points and lived about a year in the old Points house, near where the Savannah school house stands. His wife died while living there, when he built another house on the site of the house where Mrs. S. A. Regar is living, and moved to it with his children, Carrie (Mrs. John Nelson), Henry, jr. Amos, George, and Henrietta (Mrs. D. F. Ingalsbe). Henry, jr., and Carrie were the children of Mr. Regar's first wife, who died in Indiana, while the others are children of the Mrs. Regar who came here with him from Indiana. Henry, jr. had been in the service, and came here with his father when the war was over. He went away about 1871, and has never been heard of since. It is supposed he met with foul play. Carrie was married to Mr. Nelson in 1871. Her oldest child is Hattie (Mrs. C. B. Ingalsbe). Amos married Mary Ellen Sutherland in 1876, and died a year ago. After Mr. Regar moved from the Points house to his new home, the grasshoppers arrived and devoured nearly everything. It was not long after when the earthquake occurred which was mentioned in connection with the sketch about Mr. Eddy. Carrie was setting on the doorstep, when she heard the dishes in the house rattle, and jumped to her feet to see what was the matter, when she felt the earth under her move. Her first thought was that the ground would open up and swallow her; as it did not, her next thought what had become of Amos and Henrietta, who were playing near the hen house, and running to see, she felt quite relieved to find that they were uninjured. Mr. Regar passed away a number of years ago.

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