Old Settlers' Tales by F.F. Crevecoeur

Samuel Stockwell came to Grant township, from Indiana, in 1865, with his sons, Alva, Allen, and Samuel H. , and daughter, Lucinda E. He drove through with a team of horses. He settled on the farm now occupied by his son, Samuel H., on which he built a frame house of native lumber. Lucinda returned to Indiana the next year after coming here, where she got married and died the same year. Alva is now in Kansas City, while Allen is in Valley Falls.

Mrs. Elizabeth Proctor, who was a native of Kentucky, came to this locality, from Indiana, in 1868. She settled on the farm now owned by her son, Milton, buying the land of Nels Spears. Her children, who came with her and lived with her a while, are: John H., of Fort Scott; Howard O., of St. Clere; W. Milton. Howard married Miss Lida Farley, in 1877. Mrs. Proctor died at the home of one of her daughters, Mrs. Sarah Farley, in Jackson county, in 1898.

Amos Vance, a widower, came here, from Iowa, in 1870, with Martha (Mrs. John Hamar, of Oregon), Belle (Mrs. Lafayette, of Nebraska). Will (of Washington), George, and Rhoda ( Mrs. Jesse Shove). Mr. Vance married Mrs. A. Davis, in 1871, and made his home on the Davis farm. He is now living in Oregon.

Richard Bateman was a native of Ireland. When he came to America he settled in Canada. He was married to Maria Morehead, and was the owner of a fine farm there, which he traded sight-unseen for an Iowa farm; but he did not move to his farm, as his wife stood in dread of Indians, who lived not far from his new possessions. The farm he had traded for had been sold for taxes, but of this he was not informed by the party of whom he got it. He had moved to though, and in 1862 moved back to Canada. He stayed there but a short while, when he returned to Iowa, and from there moved with horse teams to near Centralia, in Nemaha county, in 1866. Soon after he moved to Grant township, where he located some school land, now occupied by his son, Charles. About 1868 he homesteaded the farm now owned by Ben White, but as he failed to fulfill the requirements of the law he lost it. About this time he located three eighties on the Blue river, near Marysville, and lost those, also. Because of fear of Indians, he did not live on the land as the law requires. About 1872 he built another log house on his farm, which was a better one than he first put up. Of his children, Thomas, Robert, Rachel (Mrs. Walace Groves, who died in Denver, Colo., in 1880), William, Richard, and John were born in Canada. Charles was born in Iowa. Wesley was born near Centralia, on the Doc Ewing farm. Bessie was born in Grant township, and died there in 1873, at the age of 2 years. Letitia, who died in 1898, was also born in Grant township. Mr. Bateman died on his farm, in 1874. His son, Thomas, died at the home place, in January, 1897. Robert died in Denver, Sept. 18,1884. William, also, died in Denver, in February, 1881. Richard died at Fairplay, Colo., the winter of 1879. Rachel was married to Mr. Groves in 1877.

Thomas O'Meara came to southern Kansas, from Minnesota, in November, 1858. He was simply looking around at the country at that time, but was favorably impressed with the looks of the new territory. He returned to Indiana, in which state he was raised, where he married in 1863, but could not succeed in inducing his wife to come to Kansas until 1866, when he came to Atchison. He went into the mercantile business at that place, and in 1868 moved to Effingham, where he carried on a mercantile business with his brother, P. J. O'Meara, who was the first business house opened at that place. In 1870 he came with his wife, E. S. O'Meara, who was a native of New York, and children, Carrie (Mrs. Frank Walker, of Moline, Ill.), and Charles A., to America City, where he settled on the Henderson farm a mile west of that place. He farmed a couple of years, when he moved to America City, where he went into the mercantile business again in 1872, having bought out George Gillett, and continued in business at that place until Onaga was started, when he moved to the latter town, where he put up the second building erected in the town, J. B. Hubbell having put up the first one. His daughter, Nellie (Mrs. Lynd), was born on the farm near America City, while Leon was born after they moved into that town. Mrs. O'Meara died in Onaga, in 1894. When he was living on the farm near America City he had a hired hand, who lived near Netawaka. He was to do some plowing for his hand, as the hand had no team; so one morning, early, they loaded the plow in the wagon and started for Netawaka. It happened Mr. O'Meara was not ready to start quite so soon as his hand, so it was agreed the man was to go ahead afoot, and Mr. O'Meara should catch up with him. After Mr. O'Meara had started and traveled quite a distance, he met a man on horseback, who from description he recognized as Harve Randall. He asked Mr. Randall if he had met anyone afoot. Thinking to have a little fun, he said the man was about his (Mr. O'Meara's) height, and, if possible, a meaner looking man than himself. Mr. Randall, seeing the point (which was hinting at his own looks), looked at Mr. O'Meara a while, and finally answered: No, and I hope to God I never shall."

Michael Gordon, who is a German by birth, came to the United States in 1852. He came to Leavenworth, where he engaged in Government service. His wife, Kate, is a native of Ireland, and came to this country in 1864, with her son, Thomas Roberts, whose father was a Welshman, born in England. Mr. Gordon met her at Leavenworth, where he married, and they came to Coal creek in 1870, where Mr. Gordon homesteaded his present home.

Thomas Roberts recounts an affair which it would be difficult to duplicate at the present time. When he was still a boy (in the early 70's), he, in company with a young friend by the name of Flood, had made a sort of seine of old gunny sacks, and as the creek was low at the time, in August, it was an easy matter to catch all the fish they wanted. When they had enough to make a good meal they repaired to a nearby corn field, got some roasting ears, and, setting fire to a pile of brush, they soon had their corn and fish cooking to a finish. The ears of corn were thrown on the hot coals with their husks on and they cooked with all their juices and flavor retained. Such a dinner, he says, he has not eaten since, and many nimrods doubtless will envy our boys their repast when they read these lines.

Ellison Fields and his wife, Mary Ann, came to Kansas, from Wisconsin, in the fall of the year, driving through, and stopped at Holton for a while. He then went to Topeka, where he stayed about a year. He then moved to his homestead, in Grant township, lately occupied by Louis Jontra, about 1872. Mr. Fields was a native of Tennessee, and his wife is from Ohio. His children, who came here with him, were: Charles, who preceded the family by a couple of years and wrote for the rest to come; Eli, Ephraim, Hiram, John, Elizabeth, who married Archie Adams and moved to near Rossville, where she died; Leander (Lank), and Harriet, who married Taylor Bassinger and lived in the neighborhood for ten or twelve years, when she moved to Osage City, where she died. Lewis, another son, was married when he came, which was in 1872. He hailed from Indiana, with his wife, Martha Jane, and children, Frank, George (of Blaine), and Lizzie, who died when 13 years old. Erman and Charles were born here. After he came here he lived a year with his parents, then moved to the east end of the homestead, where he lived in a house built by Lewis Jontra, staying there a year. From there he moved to the Pecheur property, at Cedar Bluffs. Soon after the railroad and town were built he moved to the city. When he first came here he had an abscess on one of his legs, which came near killing him and which accounts for his living with his parents for a year, as he was unable to do anything. Mattie (Mrs. Charles Bateman) was born here. Charles married about 1870, at Blue Rapids, then came back and lived on the Henry Jontra place. He is now in Oklahoma, at Stillwater. He had several children born to him here¨Walter, Fred, and Stella. Eli married May Weireck, near Topeka. He had two children¨Eva and Anna¨one of whom died in infancy. He is now in Texas. Ephraim married Rebecca Clark, and lived a while east of Havensville. He is now near Guthrie, Okla. Hiram married Sarah Furman, and has since lived where he now resides.

Lewis Jontra, whose name, a German one, was originally spelled Tschantra, but which through a process of evolution was Americanized to its present form, came here with Ellison Fields. His wife, Minerva, is a daughter of Mr. Fields. His children, who came with him, are: Mollie (Mrs. Tiff Wright), Rose (Mrs. Abe Godlove), Ellen (Mrs. Fred Stevens), Charles, and Henry. He homesteaded the place now owned by Fred Stevens.

Alonzo Waters moved to Coal Creek, from near America City, in 1871. His family consisted of his wife and the following children: Charles, Mary Jane (Mrs. Anderson Reed), Ida (Mrs. Harve Lackey), Lute (Mrs. Reuben Tolliver), Josie (Mrs. John Norris), Hud (Mrs. Thomas Frederick), and Winnie (Mrs. Elmer Strosnider). A son, John, was born near America City. Charles married a Miss Metcalf, and lived in 1876 on the Frank Dean farm (Wes Bateman's place). Ida was married, in 1871, to John Parsons. Josie was married in 1875. Lute married in 1877. Mr. Waters moved to Oklahoma in the early 80's, where his children are all living. He died there a year ago. His wife died the year before he died. His daughter, Hud, is also dead.

Alexander White, who was a native of Ohio, and his wife, Eliza A. , who was from Michigan, came to Kansas from Linn county, Iowa, in 1857. He settled about eight miles east of America City, Elk Creek. His children, who came with him are: Lydia, who married George Randall, in 1858; William, who died in the civil war; Isabell, who married Henry Renbarger, about 1875, now of St. Marys; Leroy Carson, of near Westmoreland; Benjamin A.; Ellen (Mrs. Nyman, of Bancroft); and John. Mr. White died in 1860, and his widow and unmarried children moved to the farm on Coal Creek, where John is now living, in 1874. Here Mrs. White died, in 1895. Ben A. married Mrs. Sarah Ellen McKee, in 1873, and late in that year moved to the Hall farm, on Mound creek, in Mill Creek township, where he lived over a year. His oldest daughter, Anna (Mrs. Ed Grindell, of north of Neuchatel), was born here. He moved to his present farm, on the Vermillion, in 1875, living for several years just over the hill east of where his home now is.

The Indians often camped on the high hill east of Ben's house when they were going or returning from their visiting excursions to one or the other tribe. They had created a stone monument, or tower, on Mr. White's farm, which was to guide them in finding their camping place. Each visit they made they would add a few rocks to the pile, making it a little higher. There is still such a tower, or monument, on a high hill southeast of Laclede, which it is supposed was built by Indians. Soon after Mr. White moved to his present farm it happened that a number of Indians came to his farm to camp while he happened to be gone, which gave his wife a severe scare.

Ben relates a joke on himself and a chum of his, George Curranby name, which illustrates a phase of the Indian character different from those already given in this paper. He and George were on their way to St. Marys from his home on Elk creek, when, as it was getting noon time, George suggested that they stop at an Indian's for dinner, to which Ben objected that he didn't think dinner could be got of them. George said he knew an old Indian, John Thomama, on Soldier creek, with whom he was on good terms, and where dinner could be procured without it costing them a cent. Ben thought, from what he knew of Indiana, that his friend must be mistaken, but as George insisted, he finally consented to try it. So they called at the house, but found the head of the house was gone. When they stated what they wanted to his squaw, she said, "All right," and got them some dinner. After dinner, as a matter of courtesy, George asked how much they owed for their dinner, to which she replied, "Two dollars." Ben thought she was just running a bluff on them, and he would meet her at her own game, so, pulling out a twenty-dollar bill, he presented it to her in payment. She took it, and, turning to a little boy of hers, she spoke a few words in Indian, when the lad, taking the bill, jumped on a horse and was soon gone. There was nothing to do but await developments. In a couple of hours the boy returned, having changed the bill, and handed the money to his mother, who counted out the change and handed Ben the $18. When they left the house Ben scolded his chum for making a fool of himself in trusting an Indian, but George said when he should see the old man he would get his money back. In St. Marys the boys each got a pint of whiskey, and in returning they met the old Indian, who had been to St. Marys, also, and who was somewhat the worse for the effect of firewater. So George, pulling out his bottle, says to the Indian: "John, will you take a drink?" To which the old Indian replied; "How, how; yes, of course." He tipped the bottle to his mouth and didn't withdraw it until all its contents had gone down his throat. George, thinking he had propitiated him sufficiently, then proceeded to broach the subject of the dinner. "John," said he, "we stopped at your house and had dinner, and your wife charged us $2 for it." "How, how," said the Indian; "that's all right; she should have charged you $4." That was all the satisfaction they could get out of him, and a pint of whisky was added to the loss of the $2.

E. D. Robinson came here, from Missouri, with his wife and children, Ella (Mrs. Sam House) , Horace, Georgiana (Mrs. George Strange), William, Charles, Ralph, and Elmer, in 1872 or thereabouts. He homesteaded the Henry Krouse farm, and then returned to Missouri, alone, to work at his trade, that of shoemaker. He stayed there a couple of years, when he returned to his farm and family. His three when he returned to his farm and family. His three youngest children, Hart, Fee, and Ida, were born here. He died in Havensville a few years ago. His family are mostly in Nebraska. Mr. Robinson's knee was so hardened from following his avocation that it was no trick for him to place a walnut upon it and crack it with his shoe hammer.

--- Chambers, who was an old soldier, came to the Piper farm, about 1873, with his wife and children, Amanda, Wesley, John, and Thorton. He then moved to the Jacques place. He had three children born here¨Jack, Bruce, and Josie.

George and Susan Case came to Grant township, from JoDavis county, Illinois, in 1876. He settled on the farm opposite Hugh Rawlings, in March, 1877. where he lived a number of years. His children, who were brought here, are: Julia (Mrs. Carson White, of near Westmorland), and Nellie (Mrs. Charles Rollins). A little girl was born on the farm, who died in infancy. Mr. Case was a member of XE "Company E, 15th Illinois Volunteer Infantry 15th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Company E, 15th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

William Fitzpatrick and his wife, Mary, are natives of Ireland. They came to the United States about the year 1859, and stopped in Chicago until the spring of 1870, when they came to Kansas, bringing their three oldest children, Michael, Edward, and Mary Ann, with them. Mr. Fitzpatrick homesteaded his present home, and moved into a shanty which had been built by some predecessor. He went back to Chicago in the fall of 1874, to work, as drouth, grasshoppers, and hard times struck him the same as the rest of the early settlers. He did not return to Kansas until the spring of 1876, when fire swept down from the north, said to have been started by Indians. The grass was very tall, a high wind was blowing, and it was next to impossible to save anything that stood in its path. When it reached Mr. Fitzpatrick it burned up a lot of hay and corn, a wagon, plow, and other implements, and some hogs and ducks. Even the dog did not escape, as he had his eyes burned so that he did not return to the house for a week or so afterward.

John McDevitt and his wife, Lucy, were natives of Ireland. They settled in New York after coming to this country, and moved to Illinois in 1863. Mr. McDevitt was a sailor by profession. He and his wife and son, Thomas, and daughter, Lizzie (Mrs. Henry Eytchison, of Idaho), came to Kansas in the fall of 1871, and homesteaded the place now owned by his oldest son, James. He built a log house upon his farm. James came out with his parents, leaving his family in Illinois, and gave his father $100 to help him along, when he returned to Illinois to his family. Thomas was married in 1877 to Laura Hoover.

In 1865 the Coal creek school house was built, just across the creek west of Charles Grover's farm. Charles Grover and Joseph Colwell did the carpenter work, as the building was a frame one. Mrs. Tillman Meyers, of America City, was the first teacher, so far as we could learn. Other teachers who taught in this school at an early day were: William Moulton, T. G. Bates, Mrs. Henry Smith, Nina Buckles, who taught several terms, and Ellen Davis.

The following, concerning Thomas R. Points, was overlooked where it should have appeared in this paper, so is now given here:

He came from Indiana, in 1856, with his wife, Talitha, and children, John, Charles, Maggie, and Adeline. Caroline Josephine (Finie, who died about twelve years ago), May (who died about 1880), and Juliet (Etta, who is now Mrs. John Pohl, of near Netawaka), were born here. John married a lady from Manhattan, in 1876, and is now an attorney in Omaha, Neb. Charles, who served in the legislature some ten or twelve years ago, married Josie Solomon, of Omaha, in 1877. He is now manager of a railroad in Oklahoma. Maggie married John Matthews, in 1872 or 1873, and is living near Seneca. Caroline is Mrs. Robert Fulton, of near Havensville. Feb. 21, 1858, Mr. Points was appointed county commissioner of this county. From the Havensville Torchlight of June 21, 1900, we extract the following: "Mr. Points was an admirer of John Brown, who used to stop at his place for rest and recreation, his last visit being as he was passing through from the north on his memorable mission to Harper's Ferry." Mr. Points' house was the first brick structure erected in the county. It is said that Poyntz avenue, in Manhattan, was named in honor of Mr. Points. He died , at Havensville, in 1896.

Jacob Sillix and his wife, Mary, came here from Iowa with their children, William and Ellen, about 1860, and settled on the Pitcher farm, near Havensville, where a daughter, Lucy, was born. In 1865, when he sold out to Mr. Pitcher, he moved to Atchison; then he came back and moved to the Moses Day farm, and occupied the old house that Mr. Day built when he first came here. Here he lived two years, when he moved to the Dick Guffy place. Another daughter, Emma, was born on the Day farm. In the early 70's he moved to the Jennison farm. He had three boys born to him in this county, Robert, Edward, and Frank. Mr. Sillix is living in Topeka. He is a wagon maker by trade. His wife and daughter, Ellen, are living near Wichita, Emma lives near Topeka, while Lucy and Frank are in Topeka, and Robert in Kansas City.

In 1866 Savannah was enjoying quite a boom. There were two stores, then, at that place, one owned by George Kane and the other by George Freeman, the latter also having a photograph gallery. Nels McCoy kept one of these stores for a while. A blacksmith shop was run by John Shawver. The sawmill, run by Cross & McKee, was established here at the time. When this was removed custom was drawn to other places, and as the stores couldn't continue in business without patronage, they were gradually closed out and removed. The blacksmith shop was continued a year or two longer. Savannah finally became a memory to those who knew it during its flush times.

Newcomb Ireland and Samuel Dickson laid out the site of America City early in 1856, and falling in with the eight families who later located there, who were coming into the state with rather indefinite ideas of where they would settle, they induced them to come to their new townsite, as an inducement they gave the timber to Ephraim McKee to get him to bring the sawmill there, so as to develop the natural advantages of the place.

George Randall, one of the first comers there, opened a store the same year the colony came, in which he kept a line of general merchandise.

Dave Dickson, a brother of Samuel, put in a stock of goods in the fall of 1858. That year Ireland and Dickson secured the establishment of a postoffice, which was held by George Randall. Silas Vail carried the mail, his route reaching from Atchison to Irving.

About 1857 a log schoolhouse was built. In 1864 or 1865 bonds were voted to the amount of $1,100 for building a new school building. Eph McKee took the contract for putting it up, but Charles Grover and Orrin Foote did the work. It was built of native lumber, except the doors and windows, which were procured in Leavenworth. The siding was made of walnut. The bonds, which were turned over to Mr. McKee, were sold by him to John Wilson.

The first religious services were held at this place in the school house, in 1858 or 1859, by members of the United Brethren church. About 1860 a Presbyterian minister, Parker by name, agreed to furnish the funds for the erection of a church building if the people of the community would donate the work required. Rock was hauled and the foundation started, but as Rev. Parker did not fulfill his share of the agreement, the edifice never was put up. Rev. Parker left here in the late 60's.

The first physician to locate at this place was Dr. Purcell, who is supposed to have come from Iowa, in 1858. As he was a poor man and drugs were high (especially quinine, which sold for seven or eight dollars an ounce), he was unable to do much towards alleviating sickness among the pioneers. This is why Tom McKee, who had an attack of ague, died of the disease for the very lack of medicine.

Dr. McKay came from New York, in 1859, to the co-operative colony that settled south of Centralia in that year. As the plans of the colonists failed, he moved to America City the next year. He came there with his wife and children-Chippy (a daughter, who died in 1866 or 1867), May (Mrs. Ed Keppler), Frank and Carley (who are now living in Phillipsburg, this state, where the doctor also removed and is now running a newspaper). Mrs. McKay died at America City three years ago.

The following, concerning the Points school, was partly collected by the writer and partly taken from the Havensville Torchlight of June 21, 1900: The district was organized as No. 2, in 1861, with David Donahue as chairman, John Shawver as treasurer, and Thomas R. Points as clerk. The first school was held in the district in 1863, and the teacher received $13 per month. A frame building was put up this year, made of native lumber, Henry Shove securing the contract for erecting it. It was located on the northwest corner of the John Shawver farm, and when it was discarded, in the early 80's, to make place for the new school house it was purchased by Charles Allen, the present owner of the farm on which it stood, and he built it in with the rest of his house, where it is used as a dining room. The first teachers who taught in the district were: Mr. Roidion, Henry Regar, jr., Minnie Lyons, Sarah Kimble, John Points, William Coldren, Mr. Worley, Addie Points, Maggie Huffman, John Toler, Dr. Telfer, Mrs. Henry Smith, and Ellen Davis.

Mr. Freeman went to Butler county about 1867, while John Shawver is now in Boise, Idaho. In 1867 S. H. Eddy had a postoffice established at that place, which was continued, with Mr. Eddy as postmaster, for ten years. As has already been stated, it was named after a daughter of John Wilson, Savannah. In 1877 Lorenzo Beach opened up a store there, and became postmaster, which office he held until the railroad went through, when the postoffice was discontinued. Mr. Beach is now at Hennessy, Ok., keeping store. In 1868 P. Zimmerman moved his sawmill to near Savannah, to the Points place. Robert Wooley ran a sawmill to near at this place for several years. Harve Lines, of Louisville, also helped to run a sawmill here.

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