Old Settlers' Tales by F.F. Crevecoeur

During the latter part of April, 1856, there was a lone wagon wending west from Jefferson county, which contained Solomon Hicks and his family, consisting of his wife, Lucy, and a young child, John. A young man about 15 years of age accompanied them. This boy was Henry Hoover. The 20th day of April they arrived on French creek. They were the first settlers in this part of the state for miles around, the first settler locating anywhere near, in time and locality, being the colony of eight families which settled about America City, arriving there the 25th day of May of the same year. The territory had not been surveyed at this time. Mr. Hicks settled on a claim which is now the Henry Godlove farm. In 1858 he moved to what is now the W.F. Kolterman farm, where his wife died. He remarried, sold out his claim on French creek to Mr. Godlove, and returned to Indiana with his family in either 1859 or 1860.

As Henry Hoover is the only person who is still living in this locality who came here in April, 1856, so he is the oldest settler still living in this part of the county. He made his home with Mr. Hicks until the arrival of his parents, the next year.

Lewis Hoover, sr., came to Kansas, from Indiana, in the fall of 1854, and settled in Jefferson county. He stayed there till the following fall, when he moved to this locality, bringing his wife, Mary, and his children, John, Jacob, William, Lewis, jr., and Mary (Mrs. William Taylor). Mr. Hoover had an older daughter, Martha, who was married in Jefferson county Nov. 25, 1855, to Alfred Cory, this being the third white couple married on Kansas soil. It was supposed this was the first couple married in Kansas, but from records in the rooms of the Kansas State Historical Society we find that Charles Leachman and Mrs. Caroline Davenport were married in Nemaha county on Nov. 12, 1854, and J.T. Darnell and Miss E.A. Simmons were married in Atchinson county on Oct. 17, 1855.

His youngest daughter, Mary, was born in the evening of the day of the above wedding, she being the third white child born in Kansas territory; the first child born in Kansas being Cora S. Kyle, who was born in Leavenworth on Dec. 6, 1854, and the second was Ella Simmons, born in Jefferson township, in the county of that name, on June 19, 1855.

Mr. Hoover located on what is now Mrs. Cross' farm. His wife died here in December, 1865. He remarried in 1866, his second wife being a widow by the name of Booth. He then traded his farm to Dr. McKay, of America City, for a stock of store goods, and moved to that place about 1868, where he died in 1871.

Henry Hoover married Melinda Eytchison in January, 1859, and located on the George Schwarz farm. He enlisted in Co. K, of the 11th Kan. His brother, John, enlisted in the same company as himself, and died at Camp Solomon while in the service of his country. Henry had his wife in the service with for about a year, where she acted as company laundress, receiving the same emoluments and rations as her husband. After the war Mr. Hoover busied himself in preparing to make a living by following peaceful avocations. In the year 1866 he purchased a shingle machine, with which he made shingles of cottonwood and walnut trees. He boiled the wood and thinks that helped a great deal to make the shingles last longer and to keep them from warping. The writer's old house is covered with walnut shingles made by Mr. Hoover 32 years ago, and they are still in a fair state of preservation. He cut, altgether [sic], about 300,000 shingles with his machine while he run it. The same year he, his father, and Mr. Eytchison each made a cane mill of native timber, the rolls, gudgeons, and other parts of the mills all consisting of wood. They would have to grind the cane twice to extract anywhere near all the juice by having a man besides the feeder stand by the mill to catch the cane as it came through to put it through the mill again. Instead of grease to oil the gudgeons, they used soft soap, and on a quiet evening the groanings, squawkings and squealings of the mills could be heard for miles. The juice of the cane was boiled in old-fashioned, one-compartment pans. In 1870 Henry Hoover bought an iron cane mill and an American evaporator. He ran this mill for quite a number of years. For four or five years after he got it he had a great run of patronage, which necessitated his running it day and night during the season, makig thousands of gallons of sorghum each year. He sold much of it in Centralia, and one time, as he was taking a load of four or five barrels there, one of them burst, making quite a mess of it for him.

Henry Hoover made himself a home-made wagon in 1859, of native timber, the wheels of which consisted of circles cut out of sycamore logs, trimmed and dressed until they were about three inches in thickness. It was also made altogether of wood, and was used to go to mill and to go visiting.

Mr. Hoover built his second house--the frame house on the George Schwarz farm, which burned down two years ago, and which was the second frame house on lower French creek--in the year 1871. It was partly built of native and partly of pine lumber. The house had caught fire once in the early 70's, but it was discovered in time to save it. It was not long after this that Mrs. Hoover, while making up the beds one morning in March, was bit by a rattlesnake which was in the straw. A couple of weeks before the children had taken the tick to the straw stack and filled it, and it is supposed the snake was hiding in the straw and was put in the tick unperceived. Mrs. Hoover had learned of a sovereign remedy for snake bites which the Indians were accustomed to using, consisting of the application of the chewed leaves of a common prairie weed with blue flowers, a species of aster (aster undulatus). A few applications of this plant soon got her out of danger.

Mr. Hoover had the following children born to him: Laura (Mrs. James H. Taylor), Ella (Mrs. Francis Teeter), Merritt, Charles, Seth (who died when 2 years of age at Santa Fe, Kan., his death being caused by accidentally running a knitting needle into his eye, and which occurred in the early 70's), James, Bessie (Mrs. Charles Fouch, of Goffs, Kan.), and Belle (Mrs. August A. Gaume).

Mr. Hoover says in 1856, on the 6th and 7th days of April, there was a heavy fall of snow, so that he was enabled to haul sawlogs on a sled to the mill at Savannah.

Jacob Hoover was married to Eliza Bellwood, a daughter of James Bellwood, in 1866 or 1867, and located on the place now owned by Otto E. Teske. His wife died in 1869. He is now in Oklahoma.

William Hoover is now in Oklahoma.

Lewis Hoover, jr., moved to Cloud county about the 1868.

Mary Hoover moved to Cloud county in 1872 or 1873, where she married William Taylor. She died in Onaga a few years ago.

Henry Hoover bought an organ in 1875, this being the first one brought to the territory covered y this article.

William P. Eytchison came to this state from Indiana, landing here on the 15th day of May, 11857. He drove through with a horse team, and for several years he was the only man on lower French creek owning horses. Mr Eytchison had 75 cents when he came. His wife, Elizabeth, and children, Melinda (Mrs. Henry Hoover), William, Elsberry, Henry, and Rhoda (Mrs. Charles Musick), came with him. Stephen was born here. He settled on the farm now occupied by his widow and Steve. William enlisted in Co. K, of the 12th Kan. Inf., and died of measles in Arkansas in 1863.

Elsberry enlisted in the 11th Kansas in 1863 or 1864, and married Miss Elizabeth Anstadt in 1868 or 1869. He lived for some time on his father's farm, just across the creek from Steve's. In 1875 and 1876 he ran a sawmill at Cedar Bluffs, with Henry Courreger. His two oldest children are: May (Mrs. Charles McKee, of America City) and Delbert. He is now in Idaho with several of his children. His wife died there some years ago.

Henry Eytchison married Lizzie McDevitt in the spring of 1877, and occupied the McDevitt farm a year.

Grandpa Eytchison built his frame house in the fall of 1877. The first two or three loads of lumber for it were hauled from Holton; the next was hauled from the end of the extension of the Kansas Central when it had reached the county line; the next was hauled from Havensville when the road reached there, and the last was hauled from Onaga.

During the 60's the Pottawatomie Indians, from their reservation in Center township, and the Otoes, from near Marysville, would pay each other yearly visits, the whole population of each tribe doing the honor of guests in a body. They always timed their travels so that one of their camping places would be in the bend of the creek near Mr. Eytchison's, and just south of where Fred Bonjour now lives. As there was from three to five hundred of them, they would about completely cover the bend with camps and fires. They were great on the borrow, and it was many a visit Mr. Eytchison received from them to borrow knives and sundry cooking utensils; but, though they always returned the borrowed articles next morning (for they were scrupulously honest about it), they invariably returned them just as they had ceased to use them, for they never thought to wash them.

One evening Mr. Eytchison went to their camp to spend the evening with them. One of the Indians, who seemed to be a person of importance, possibly a leader or chief, proceeded to fill his pipe, which was four or five inches deep with tobacco which he fished out of his pocket. After smoking a while, he shoved his hand into his pocket to get some money out, when he discovered he was out a five-dollar bill. He concluded he had taken it out with his tobacco and stuffed it into his pipe and smoked it. He took the matter quite coolly, though, and grinned, never uttering a growl nor execration over his loss.

Just east of his orchard Steve has often plowed up arrow heads, which makes him think that either the Indians had a battle there or that they were carried there by wounded animals coming there to drink, as there are springs along the creek near, and that they subsequently died after drinking. Steve has in his possession the broken remains of what appears to be a war club. He also has another relic, which he thinks may be either a portion of another war club or else a part of a battle axe.

Alfred Cory came to Kansas from Indiana in 1855, landing at Osawkie, Jefferson county. He was married at Osawkie to Martha Hoover, in 1855, as has been mentioned before. He came to this locality in 1857, with his wife, and located what is now the F. E. Brunkow farm. He built a log house on the place, of which the shingles, like all used in those days, consisted of what were called clapboards. There were about six inches wide and four feet long, and were split out of oak usually. These Mr. Cory had nailed on with iron nails, but the hinges to his door were wooden affairs, consisting of a long stick, like a broom handle, driven through auger holes at each end where the door was fastened to the wall of the house. Leason, his son, who died last year, was born on this place the 21st of December, 1858. He was the first white child born in what is now Mill Creek township.

Mr. Cory sold out to O.J. Grover, and traded a yoke of oxen to James Hamar for forty acres of land on Coal creek, just south of the Sam Stockwell place. About 1860 he traded this farm to Joseph Berry for forty acres of land now forming the south part of the Crum farm. He then enlisted in the 11th Kan. Vol. Inf., in 1862, and served until the war was over. Mary (Mrs. Ira Smith) was born on the above farm in 1866. He sold this farm to John Bellwood in 1867, and moved to near Louisville, this county, where he cut shingles one summer, and the next year (1868) he moved to Cloud county. His wife took sick while he was in Cloud county, and he returned to this locality, where his wife died soon after, in the summer of 1871. She left a daughter ten days old, which was taken to rear by Thornton Kelly, but only lived a few years. When his wife died he was living on what is called the Callaway place, just across the creek east of O.W. Grover's. After his wife died he moved to the Eytchison farm, living just across the creek from Steve's, until 1874. That year he hitched up and drove through to Indiana, where he was married to Sarah Ann Miles, and the next year he returned to Kansas with his wife, and lived that year on the Lige Ledington place, just south of George Regar's. The year after he moved to the Armstrong farm, now John Nelson's, on French creek. He then bought ten acres of what is part of John Nelson's upland farm, where George Thompson lives.

In 1858 Mr. Cory went, with Lewis and Henry Hoover, William Davis, and some other parties from near America City to a place about twelve miles north and a little west of Clay Center, on a buffalo hunt. They killed enough buffalo to fill six of their old linch-pin wagons with meat--the clear stuff, without any bones in it. They had yoked from one to three yoke of oxen to each wagon, so their loads must have been pretty good sized ones. One buffalo they had shot wasn't killed outright, and it went into the middle of the Republican river; so, to get it out, they took one of their wagons apart, and taking the hind axle with its wheels, they substituted a long cottonwood pole for the reach, and driving this near the animal, which had died after it got in the river, fastened a rope around its horns, which they tied to the axle of the wagon. They soon had it hauled out. Mr. Cory was on several other hunting expeditions, in 1859 and 1860. The last time he went out hunting buffalo was in 1869. The men would take a large camp kettle along, in which they would render out the tallow, as on some of their hunts in the summer time the meat would not keep and the tallow was all they cared about.

When Mr. Cory lived in Cloud county, in the winter of 1868, wild turkeys were quite numerous there and surprisingly tame. They would come up close to the house, so that they were often shot from the door. The would often mingle with Mr. Cory's chickens. Of about forty shot that winter, none were killed more than a quarter of a mile of his home. One time Mr. Cory had been to the store, and returned at night. When he came home, his wife told him that a flock of turkeys had alighted in a cottonwood tree that stood near the stable, and that they were roosting there, so he took his gun and shot amongst them, and thought he heard one drop some distance away. The next morning he went to look for it and found it near a large fallen tree. He had no sooner seen it, when another jumped from some place near by, and it jumped on the trunk of a tree, where Mr. Cory shot it. He next saw another one, which he crippled, and it flew towards his house. As he was making his way towards home he saw a fourth one, which he also shot. This made him three to carry home before breakfast. After breakfast he went to feed his cows some turnips that he had in a cave. The opening to the cave was partly closed with a piece of tarpaulin, and on raising it he saw a turkey in the cave. He called his wife to come and see it, but she thought he was joking with her, so she did not come out of the house. Mr. Cory's little boy, Leason, had more curiosity than his mother and could not resist the temptation of looking into the cave, and when he saw the turkey he was rather surprised. He then added his efforts with those of his father for his mother to come and view the bird. Mrs. Cory could not resist the two of them, and reluctantly came out to see for herself the bird she wouldn't believe was there. The three of them captured the bird, which proved to be the one that Mr. Cory had crippled before breakfast, and which had flown towards the house.

When Mr. Cory first came to Mill Creek, he, with his neighbors, did his trading at Leavenworth. They also got their mail there for about a year; then they got their mail at St. Marys, when each neighbor would take turn about to go after the mail for the whole community, the mail being gotten once a week. About 1858 or 1859 a postoffice was established at America City, and this seemed to the pioneers as if they were getting their mail right at home. Then, during the war, a postoffice at Vienna was established on the August Wegner place, Jake Minch being the postmaster.

John Cameron, who was a native of Indiana, came here from Iowa in the fall of 1857, with his wife, Ellen, and children, Rebecca, Amanda, and David. Mr. Cameron settled on a part of Henry Crum's farm, where Mr. McDaniels lived some thirty years ago, while his son, David, settled on a part of the same farm where Mr.Hull used to live. Dave was married when he came, having two children. In 1859 there were reports floating around that Indians were on the war path to the west of the Blue river, and Mr. Cameron and his family and Jacob Mohler, a son-in-law of John Cameron, and his family went to Iowa and stayed there until the supposed danger from the Indians was past, in the spring of 1860, when they returned here. They stayed here but a year or two, when they went back to Iowa.

William Davis was traveling around for his wife's health, in 1858, when he came to Pleasant Valley. He stayed at Eytchison's until he got a house built on his claim--the Tom Wilson farm. His wife died soon after coming here, and he set aside part of his farm for a cemetery, where his wife was buried. This is the Pleasant Valley, or, as sometimes called, the "Sutherland Cemetery." It is supposed that he then went to Iowa, where his home was before coming here.

Jacob Mohler, a brother of Mrs. Eytchison, came to here from Iowa in 1858. He had a son, Lewsi, who came with him. He bought out William Davis, but stayed here only a few years. As his predecessor did not go through any formality in setting aside the plot for the cemetery on his farm, Mr. Mohler gave a deed for the land, and N.P. Eytchison and Henry Hoover were appointed trustees.

previous  names index   next

KanColl  Books