Old Settlers' Tales by F.F. Crevecoeur

The following concerns Mill Creek township:

The earliest settler near the Onaga townsite was Francis McGuire. He was no relative of Adget McGuire. He came here with his wife and grown son, James, about 1856, and became owner of three-quarters of a section of as good land as there is in these parts. This consisted of one quarter of the John Selbach farm, and the same of the J. T. Smith and Lewis Fulton farms. A man by the name of Betton came with him, who had a sawmill, which he run near where the Lewis Fulton house stands. Mr. McGuire took his wife back to Indiana, where she is still living. He went on a buffalo hunt in company with a man by the name of Coleman, who lived on the DeGraw farm, and while gone Mr. Coleman was accidentally shot. Mr. McGuire married Mrs. Coleman afterward. When the war broke out he traded his farm to George Cockerel, as his sympathies were with the confederates, so he was not very popular here, while Mr. Cockerel, who owned a farm in Missouri which he traded to Mr. McGuire, had to leave there because he espoused the cause of the Union.

David Calloway, his wife, Jane, and two boys, William and Josephus, came here about 1858, and settled on the John Selbach farm. He lived east of where Selbach's house stands, and had a sawmill, which he run for several years. He sold his mill to some parties who moved it to between Holton and Valley Falls. In the early 60's he moved to Mound creek, east of O. W. Grover's house. In 1870 he fell heir to some property in Missouri, and went back there after having sold out to O. J. Grover.

Hiram Rosecrans came here from Iowa about 1856 or 1857, with his wife and children, Perry, David, Jesse, James, Emma (Mrs. Bob Woolley), Henry, and Benjamin. He settled on the place now owned by H. Tessendorf. In the fall of 1860 both parents died. The children scattered about after that, but F. J. Crawford was appointed guardian of the minor children. About 1868 Benjamin bought out his brother's and sister's shares and sold out to Michael Tessendorf. The young people have all returned to Iowa.

John Gibson, his wife, Elizabeth, and children, Fannie (Mrs. P. P. Grim), Isabel (who died in 1872), Joshua, Isaac, Joseph, and John Ford, came from Indiana in 1859, and lived that year on the John Zabel farm, which was then owned by a man named Reeder. The next year he moved to the Rosecrans place, where he lived a year, when he moved to the Biuk farm in 1862. He homesteaded his farm (Abe Myers) in 1865. Isaac married Ada Young (Shannon) in 1874, and Joe married Phebe Tryon on March 27 the same year. Joshua died several years ago in Butte City, Mon. Ford married Alice Thomas and has been dead several years. When Joe got married there happened a heavy snow storm, which filled up the sloughs and obliterated the roads. Charles Soulert, his wife, and George Coffelt started to go to the wedding, but got lost and had to return. They then stopped at the writer's home until after midnight, when the moon rose, so they could find their way home again. Soon after Mr. Gibson came here corn sold for $2 a bushel, and was bought by the government. Mr. Gibson hauled much of it, taking it to Ogden and to Fort Riley. Mrs. Gibson died seven or eight years ago, and Mr. Gibson passed away about three years ago.

George Cook, a blacksmith, and his wife came here about 1856 or 1857, and lived on part of John Moll's farm. His wife died about 1859, and he sold out to a man by the name of Flynn, who came here from Leavenworth. Flynn, who had a wife and a boy and girl, lived here two years, when he returned to Leavenworth. Flynn sold out to James and Cornelius Herrington, who lived here with their families two or three years, then moved to Clear fork, near Blaine.

A man by the name of Joe Hen lived near Mr. Rosecranz (sic) in the late 50's, but where he was from and where he went is not now known.

Thomas Ledington, sr., a widower, came here from Missouri in 1858 or 1859, with his children, Melvina (Mrs. Silas Henshaw, whose husband was killed by Indians in Wyoming), William, Thomas, jr., Daniel, Elijah, and Lettie, who died while still a younger girl. Melvina (Mrs. Henshaw) had three children when she came, Elihu, Daniel, and Martha (Mrs. Charles Points). Mrs. Henshaw stayed here but a short time, when she went back to Missouri, but she returned here in 1865, and made her home with her children, her father and brothers. Mr. Henshaw pre-empted George Regar's home place about 1873, and lived there several years in a small frame house she had put up. Frank Sweetland, from Sabetha, settled on the George Regar place in an early day, before Mrs. Henshaw lived on it. Mr. Ledington settled on the W. D. Robbins farm, and made his home across the creek from Robbins, in the timber on the hillside. His son, William, enlisted in Co. K, 11th Kan. He married a Miss Mendenhall, and went to Texas with his wife and her sister, Mary. His wife died down there, and he returned to Kansas with his sister- in-law, whom he afterward married. He took a homestead south of Eddy's in 1866. He had the following children born to him on the homestead: Lucy, Sadie, Melvina, Kate, Lettie, Daniel, and Thomas. His second wife died about 1876, when he moved, with his children, to the hill southeast of J. W. Garret's. Thomas, jr., and Daniel never married. Thomas had an impediment in his speech, which made it very difficult for those not accustomed to hearing him to understand. He went to Oregon with Sam Taylor in 1875, and returned with him. Elijah married Mary Garrett, a sister to J. W., in 1866. He settled on the L. P. Robbins place. Next he traded this farm to John E. Cary, an old soldier bachelor, for the bottom farm of John Regar's. The house on this place stood at the foot of the hill, south of where George Regar lives. He then moved from there to the Will Ledington place, southeast of Garrett's, about 1872. He stayed there two years, when he went back to the Regar farm. His children were: Julius, Nathan (who died when about a year old), Rosa (who lived about a year), Nora, and Luella. All the Ledingtons are now in Idaho or thereabouts.

John Freeman came here from Indiana in the late 50's, and settled on the Mrs. Gillett farm, now Phil Schwarz's. His family consisted of his wife and children, George (who was married and had two or three children), William, Lovilla, Milton, John, Eliza, and Laura. William married Sarah Monroe, a niece of Mrs. Joseph De Graw, and Lovilla married Ham Nelson. George Freeman owned the John Nelson farm, where George Thompson lives. John Freeman sold out to Mrs. Marion Gillett, in 1870, and went to Butler county, this state.

A Frenchman, by the name of Grabeer, a blacksmith, lived on the J. W. Garrett place in the early 60's. He had quite a family, consisting of his wife and several children, two of whom were Adam and Anthony. Adam enlisted in the 11th Kansas. He had a wife and some children, and moved to the Fulton farm, near Onaga, during the war. His parents moved to Washington county about 1861. Then a man by the name of Fizzel moved to the place. He had a wife and children, Cynthia, John and others, and moved to Washington county about 1864.

William C. Garrett came to Jefferson county, Kansas, in 1861. In 1863 he moved from there to this locality, with his wife, Millie, and children. William F. , Sarah J. (Mrs. John Winscott) . Mary A. (Mrs. Elijah Ledington, and a young daughter who died in 1866. He settled on the Henry Krouse place. In 1866 he moved to Nemaha county, five miles southeast of Seneca, to a place called Lincoln. The next year he went, with his wife and son, William F., to Jefferson county. In 1871 he came back here, with his wife and William, and lived on the east end of J. W. Garrett's farm. In 1874 all three went back to Missouri, where William F. Is now living. Mr. Garrett died in Jefferson county, Kansas, in 1894. Mrs. Garrett is still living, in Colorado, in her 81st year. Marion Garrett, William C.'s oldest son, came to this locality in 1864, and stayed two or three years. He is now in Sedalia, Mo. At the breaking out of the war, sentiment in Missouri was very bitter against those who sided with the Union. J. W. Garrett, another son of William C., was a grown man then, and it was feared he would join the Union Army; so preparations were made to compel him to enlist under the Confederate flag. He got wind of what was going on, and, jumping on a horse, made quick time for Kansas soil, not stopping all day until he thought he was safe from his pursuers, should there have been any who discovered he had flown and were following him. He came to Jefferson county. The next year, in 1862, he enlisted in the Missouri state militia, and served five months. In 1863 he came to this locality, and enlisted in Co. D, 11th Kansas, serving until the end of the war. He was wounded by an ounce ball passing through his left arm, which, though it did not strike any bones, has left it much weakened, and two ugly scars shows places of entrance and exist(sic). In November, 1865, he married Amanda Cockerel, and settled on his present home place. His oldest children, born here, are: Rachel (Mrs. John Bateman), Mary (Mrs. J. A. Taylor, J. A. who died in 1871), George, and Susan (who died last year). The first big Fourth of July celebration that Mr. Garrett attended after coming here was at Burgess grove, on Adams creek, in 1876. His trading in early days was done mostly at Wamego.

Cornelius Moyer came here from Pennsylvania in the spring of 1865, and settled on the place once owned by Tom Wilson, east of Tom's present day farm. He married Mrs. Sarah Winscott, J. W. Garrett's sister, that year or the next. He had three children, Esther, Millie, and Eddie. Mr. Moyer died in Wetmore a few years ago, while Mrs. Moyer is now living in Colorado.

Henry Piper settled on the place just west of Mrs. S. A. Regar's about 1870. His family consisted of his wife and several children, among whom were William, Lawrence, James, and others. He lost one child in the early 70's, and set apart the cemetery at the southwest corner of the farm for a burial place, where his child was buried. Other accounts disagree with this, but the above is the most rational one the writer has been able to learn of as to how, by whom, and when this cemetery was set aside.

John Taylor and his wife, Parthena, and children, James H., Fannie (Mrs. Henry Brown, of Pakardrie, Ok.), Martha (Mrs. Frank Townsend, of Seneca), Lincoln (of Berne, Kan.), Charles (of Oregon), and Laura (Mrs. Schuyler Irving, of Topeka), came here from Marshall county, this state, in 1872. He was originally from Missouri. He bought the Piper farm of Frank Giles, and lived on it a number of years. He had several children born here. These are: Rachel (Mrs. Alfred Johnson, of Soldier City), Emma (who died in Oregon six years ago), Harve and William (both of Oregon). Mr. Taylor died in Oregon in 1890, while Mrs. Taylor is still living in that state.

George Cockerel, his wife, Eliza, and children, Amanda (Mrs. J. W. Garrett) , Cornelius, John, Mary, (Mrs. Al Gillett) , and Sarah E. (Mrs. Warren Fulton), came here from Missouri in the early part of 1862. As has already been noted, under the sketch of Francis McGuire, he traded a farm in Missouri for the farm he used to own here. He built the large frame house in which he lived in 1969(sic). C. B. Huffman and S. E. Leinbach did the carpenter work on it. About this time he had quite a herd of cattle, and was reputed the wealthiest man in this section. His daughter, Mary, was married in 1873, and John married Hattie Meskimens, a daughter of Oliver Meskimens, in 1875. Sarah married the same year as her brother, John. Mr. Cockerel and his sons are now in Oklahoma.

Cornelius Reed, his wife and several children, among whom were Mary, Robert, Charity, George, and two younger ones, were living on the present Warren Fulton farm in the early 60's. His house stood at the base of the hill south of Warren Fulton's. Sometime about 1864 the parents were out one day shocking wheat. As they wished to get done, they continued working into the night, first having given orders to the older children to put the younger ones to bed and put out the light. Instead of doing so, they left the light burning. It was a grease dip, which in some manner communicated itself to some clothes, and soon the house was afire. The two older children, as is usual in such cases, inform their parents of the accident, while the third child, Charity, stayed home and started to save her brothers and sisters. The two babies she managed to carry out to a place of safety, but George, who was next to here in age, she was unable to carry, nor could she wake him up, and she had to leave him to his fate. The blow was a severe one to the parents, and they moved away to Cloud county the same year. Mr. Reed was accused of killing Mr. Blankley, who was found dead in the Vermillion near the Tom Points place, but as said before, under the sketch of Mr. Points, there was no proof of his guilt. Later Mr. Reed was bitten on the hand by a mad dog, but the sore healed up all right. About a year afterward he was on his way from Concordia to Atchison, and was riding a mule. In some way or other the mule bruised his hand which had been bit, hydrophobia symptoms set in, and he soon died. On his deathbed he still protested his entire innocence of killing Mr. Blankley.

A man by the name of Gitting lived on Warren Fulton's place at an early day.

A man by the name of Heise lived on the present Onaga town site during the 60's. His house stood about where Lew Field's house stands. He had two sons, Jacob and Henry, and when he went away from here he went to Leavenworth, where he died. His farm was mortgaged and the boys came back and redeemed the place, and then sold one eighty to Al Gillett and the other to George De Graw about 1875.

James Lewis came here in 1864 and bought out Jake Minch (the present August Wegner place.) He went back to New York, where he was married to his wife, Elmira, in 1867. He then returned to Kansas, and lived here until the 80's, when he went to California, where he died Oct. 15, 1890. His wife is still living there. He was elected justice of the peace in 1866 and served several terms, for which he was known as "Squire" Lewis by the people living in the north part of the township. His children, who were born here, are: Carrie (Mrs. Frank Colwell, of Cincinnati, Ohio), Delia, of San Diego, and Nettie, of Los Angeles, Calif. He had a stepdaughter, Eva, who is now Mrs. F. B. Landon.

Hom [sic] Nelson came here from Pennsylvania, in 1865, and settled on the farm which John, his brother, lived on, in the south part of the township. He built a stone house on his farm, which is still standing.

John and James Nelson, brothers to Ham, came here, from Pennsylvania, in 1869. As mentioned above, John bought out his brother, Ham.

James returned to Pennsylvania soon after coming here, and returned to Kansas a few years later. He died in the south part of the county a few years ago.

Joseph De Graw was a native of New York. His wife, Jane, is from Canada, then came to Clayton county, Iowa, in 1847. In the fall of 1867 they came to this locality with their children, Reuben, Glendora, George, Byron, Gaurilla (Mrs. Gene Gillette). Sanford, Etta (Mrs. Ed Downer), Warren, and Walter, a twin brother to Warren, who died in 1868, at the age of two years.

Mr. De Graw settled on the farm now occupied by his widow. He lived there for a while after coming here in a house mounted on wheels, in which he came, until he had built him a log house. He lived in this two years, when he built the large frame house where Mrs. De Graw lives, which was erected in 1869 by Huffman and Leinbach. The lumber for the house was sawed on the place by Placedius Zimmerman, who had moved his mill to Mr. De Graw's timber that year.

Reuben bought the farm which he has since sold to Henry Krouse of the railroad company about 1868. He was married to Mary Williams in 1874, and is now living in Stafford county, this state. Glendora married Mary Wise, a sister to John, in 1870. George married Jane Thomas, in 1875. Byron married Anna Bothel, In 1875, and moved that year, with his brother, Glendora, to near Pendleton, Ore. He came back the next year, and is now a resident of Henderson, Ok. Reuben had gone to California in 1876. He stayed there four years, when he returned. Gaurilla was married to Mr. Gillett in 1873.

Joseph Stout, a bachelor, came here with the Gilletts, from Waterville, Kan., in 1870. He bought the farm where George DeGraw lives of John Freeman, and built a log house at the foot of the hill, east of George's house. In 1874 he went to Oregon, having sold his farm to Henry Wilson.

John W. Shannon came here from Jackson county, in 1868, bringing a sawmill with him. He was accompanied by his wife and Addie Young (Mrs. I. M. Gibson) . Miss Young's father, Harvey G. , was living in Topeka and was killed during the Price raid. Mr. Shannon was appointed her guardian at Holton. She has a brother who was also under Mr. Shannon's guardianship, but he did not come here and make his home with his sister, preferring to be independent. Mr. Shannon set up his sawmill on the John Nelson place, just east of Henry Hoover's. He also owned the land on which Mr. Wasson's house stands. After running the mill for about three years, he failed, and went to California, where he died. His widow is still living there.

Henry Courreger and wife, Mary, came to the United States, from France, in 1865. They stopped near Pittsburgh, Pa., until 1871, when they came to Mill creek and settled on the John Selbach place, living for quite a number of years east of the Vermillion in a stone house. He burned several kilns of lime soon after he came here, and about 1874 ran a sawmill with W. D. Robbins'. About 1875 he owned a sorghum mill in partnership with Levi McGuire. They had a man by the name of Myers to cook the sorghum. Mr. McGuire had the mill at his place at first, where he made 300 gallons of the sweet from two and a half acres of cane, when the mill was removed to Mr. Courreger's place. Mr. McGuire sold out his interest in the mill to his partner. Mr. Courreger's two oldest children are Mary and Julia. The family are now back in the old home, in France.

The main road in the 70's, between Holton and Manhattan, passed near George Cockerel's house and crossed the Vermillion near Mr. Courreger's. A German by the name of Steger, who lived in the west part of the county, had been to Leavenworth, about 1873 or 1874, and was on his way home, when, on coming to the Vermillion, he found the stream running high. Mr. Courreger, who knew it would be dangerous to attempt to cross, offered to keep him all night until the stream should have fallen so he could cross in safety, but he said he was anxious to get home and had swam several streams already, so he guessed he could cross this also. His team and wagon were washed down the creek and he and team drowned.

Jacob Steiner and his wife, Madelaine, were from Switzerland. They lived a while at Mansfield, near Pittsburgh, Pa., when they came to Kansas in 1871. Mr. Steiner homesteaded the farm northwest of town where he made his home until recently.

Levi Cox lived on the J. B. Chambers farm about 1871 or 1872. He had a wife and several children, among whom were Monroe and Melinda.

William W. Allen and his wife, Charlotte, came to Kansas, from Illinois, in 1872. They are natives of New Brunswick, Canada, coming to Illinois in 1848. Mr. Allen bought his claim, which he homesteaded, of Sox, which is the farm on which he lived until recently. His children, who came here with him, are: Martin Luther, Josephine (Mrs. George Bennett, of Wheaton, who was married when she came here), Eugene, and Lotta. He also brought a grandchild (Sarah) with him, who is now Mrs. John C. Blakely, of Westmoreland. Martin Luther is living northwest of Elsworth, Kan., where he is running a blacksmith shop. Eugene lives northwest of Westmoreland. Lotta is Mrs. Thomas Bennett, of Wheaton. Mr. Allen is now a resident of Wheaton. He was in Co. D, 11th Ill. Vol. Inf., during the war. It would be a rather difficult matter to say what nationality Mr. Allen is, as he is of English, Irish, Scotch and Dutch extraction, being one-fourth of each.

John Thomas, who is a native of Indiana, came here from that state in 1875. His wife, Eliza, was a native of Delaware. His children, whom he brought with him, are: Alice (Mrs. Ford Gibson), Jane (Mrs. George DeGraw), Charles, David (now of Colorado), John, William (of St. George), Clarance (of Fostoria), and a daughterwho died in 1881, at the age of 12 years. A son, James, was born to him after coming here, who died when ten months old. Mr. Thomas bought his present home place of Glendora DeGraw. Mrs. Thomas died at her home four years ago last May.

The first building used for a school house in district No. 14 ( the Mill Creek or Onaga district) was the house (a frame one) that Calloway lived in on the Selbach place, which was boughht of him when he moved away from there, early in 1863. The house was moved to near George Cockerel's. After a while the building was again moved, this time to the August Wegner farm (James Louis'), where it stood north of Mr. Wegner's house. In 1869 the stone school building was built south of Mrs. Joseph DeGraw's, near the railroad. Tom Bowers, of Wabaunsee, took the contract for building it, and it was put up by some Swedes. The old school building is still in existance, on Antoine Fischer's farm, where it was moved when the stone school was built. P. P. Grim was the first clerk the district had. The first teacher they had in this district of whom we could learn was J. Hugh Wilson, who taught in 1864 or 1865. Mrs. Fannie Grim taught it, also, the same year (1864). The next teacher was Horace Jones. He was followed by Adget McGuire, who taught two or three winter terms about 1865, 1867, and 1868. Miss Lemira Lewis taught it in the winter of 1866. Prof. J. J. Hostutler taught the school the winters of 1870-1 and 1871-2. The winter of 1871-2 Prof. Hostutler gave a term of lessons in vocal music in the district school house, and the same winter he also taught a term of singing in the Pleasant Valley district. Before they had a school building the people met in private houses, such as Cockerel's and others, and had spelling schools. Unlike the spelling schools of today, where only smaller children take part, everyone took an interest in the spelling schools then, from the children to the grown-up folks, married people and the older members of the family, and they were enjoyed accordingly, too.

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