Old Settlers' Tales by F.F. Crevecoeur

Laurent Perro was a native of Italy. His wife was born in France. They came to this country in 1857, settling at Buffalo, New York. Victor, Mr. Perro's oldest son, was born across the sea, while Louisa (Mrs. Thomas Coffelt) and Henry were born at Buffalo. They came to Kansas in the spring of 1868 and lived on Irish creek during that summer. In the fall of the same year he homesteaded the farm of 80 acres which was until recently his home. He and his family lived with Mr. Peocheur [sic] during the winter of 1868-'69, and in the spring he moved to the farm, on which he had built a temporary shack for occupancy until he could build a better house. It was in this shack, afterward used as a stable, that Adeline (now Mrs. Robert Baird) was born and, referring to a Biblical incident, she made mention of the fact to the writer, but said nothing about angels hovering near nor of wise men bringing offerings to her.

After he had moved to Mound creek, Mr. Perro and his sons, Victor and Henry, worked for Tom Nolan on Irish creek, walking there and back, as they had no animals to ride or drive. He took his pay in flour and meat, and they had to carry it all the way home, some ten miles or so. Henry, who was quite young then, says that he would travel a ways, then place the sack of flour which he was carrying on the ground and use it for a pillow while lying down resting until he was able to resume his journey.

Mr. Perro died on the homestead last fall, while his wife died in Onaga in 1893. Henry is a resident of Salubria, Idaho, at present.

Fred Eiseman, his wife and three or more children, came from Ohio and located in 1869 the farm now owned by Mr. Atwater.

Mark L. Atwater came to Kansas from Lagrange, Indiana, in the fall of 1870. His wife, Sarah, Mrs. Atwater's mother (Mrs. Elizabeth Austin), and his oldest son (Harry) came with him. In the spring of 1871 he moved to his present home farm, which he bought of Fred Eiseman. Mrs. Stewart's father, Mr. L.D. Austin, came out here in the spring of 1872 and lived with Mr. Atwater a year or two, when he returned to Indiana. Mr. Atwater moved into the stone house which was on his place, and lived in it until he built his present frame house. Frank and Minnie (Mrs. S.A. McBride, of Atchison county,) were born here.

Mr. Atwater served during the civil war in Company C, 100th Indiana Volunteer infantry. He says that the year he moved onto his farm the hillsides were green with the young growing grass by the middle of February. We remember gathering wild onions about the same time that year.

John Reboul, his wife, Mary, and children, Jospehine, and her husband, August Peyrouse, Albert, Henry, Clemence (Mrs. Joseph Voye, of Pittsburg, Pa.), Valerie (Mrs. Reuben Kelly), Mary (wife of William Kelly, deceased), August and Paul, natives of France, came to the United States in 1865, and stopped near Pittsburg, Pa. The whole family, with the exception of Clemence, who in the meantime was married to Mr. Voye, came to Kansas in the spring of 1870. They, in company with Mr. Peyrouse and family, which consisted of his wife and daughters, Mary (Mrs. Merritt Hoover), Louisa (Mrs. Charles Hoover), and Clemence lived a while in an unused log house which stood on August Kolterman's farm, on Kelly creek, near where August has his feed yard. Meanwhile Mr. Reboul homesteaded the 80 acres now owned by Jacob Lefebure [sic], and Mr. Peyrouse the south half of his present farm, while Henry homesteaded the north half of the same place. Mr. Reboul built a temporary house of stone on his farm, to which he and his family and Mr. Peyrouse and his family removed, and in 1871 they built the stone house on the south side of Mr. Peyrouse's farm, and a little later Mr. Reboul built his home, also of stone.

Albert homesteaded the farm now owned by Charles Keuhl, and was married to Elizabeth Keeney in 1877. Henry married Josephine Gaume in 1873. Henry lived a year or so on his homestead, when he moved to Seneca.

Mr. Peyrouse and Albert and Henry Reboul returned to Pennsylvania in August, 1870, to work, and they did not return until the spring of 1871. They worked in mines and iron forges, as Mr. Peyrouse had worked in forges in France since he was eleven years of age. Mr. Peyrouse moved to Mitchell, where he rented land for four years after the year 1874, after which he returned to his farm. His son, John, and daughter, Josephine, were born on the homestead, while Martha was born after they moved to near Neuchatel.

Casimir Souleret, his wife, Rosine, and children, Marius, Charles, Ferdinand, Alexandrine, John, and Louis, came to Kansas from Pennsylvania in the spring of 1870. Most of the family were born in France. Mr. Souleret and his son, Charles, had come to Kansas the year before, and each homesteaded 80 acres of land, the eighty homesteaded by the old gentleman being now the farm owned by Ed. O'Donnell, while Charles' eighty is now the property of Eli Lefebvre. So as to hold their claims and yet live together, they had built a board house standing partly on one eighty and partly on the other. Mr. Souleret, his sons, Marius and Ferdinand, returned to Pennsylvania with Mr. Peyrouse and Albert and Henry Reboul, to work. Ferdinand was crushed to death soon after in a coal mine in which he was working by a huge piece of rock falling on him. It is said that only portions of his clothes were recovered when the rock was removed. Mr. Souleret returned to Kansas and in 1872 built the stone house which still stands on the place. A stone-arch cellar was built under the house, the work being done by Cisimir [sic] Stiennon and Alphonse Carlier, and though they were not experts, the arch still stands. The balance of the house was built by Mr. John Reboul. A daughter, Mary, was born to Mr. Souleret while he lived on his homestead. Charles Souleret married Mary Job in the winter of 1873, and Alexandrine married one Harry Minor soon after--in January, 1874. Her husband worked for awhile about a sawmill, which was located near where Mr. W.D. Robbins lives.

the writer recalls a rather amusing incident in which John Souleret, a boy of a dozen years or so, was the principal actor. He was suffering from the ague, when the writer had occasion to call at his home and found Johnnie crying. Upon being asked what he was crying about, he replied: "I have got the FEVERS," as is [sic] he had them all.

Mr. Souleret and his son Charles, sold out their interests in their claims to Jacob Coffelt in the early part of 1874 and returned to Pennsylvania. Mrs. Charles Souleret did not go with her husband.

Jacob Coffelt came here from Missouri in the early part of 1874 with his wife, Susannah, and children, Thomas, George, Anna, Abraham, Mary and, Minnie. He bought out Mr. Souleret, as mentioned above. The 80 acres Charles had was to be Thomas', but as he let it revert to the government, Victor Perro afterward homesteaded it. Mr. and Mrs. Coffelt both died in Butler county a few years ago, to where they removed from here, and their children are still living there. A son, Jeremy, was born to Mr. Coffelt while he was living here.

Charles Crevecoeur, a native of Belgium, came to the United States with his father and three brothers in the year 1856, and lived in Iriquois county, Illinois, until the fall of 1869, when he loaded his belongings in a wagon and came to Kansas. He drove to Waterville, where he learned that there was a French settlement at Neuchatel, so he retraced his steps and arrived here in September. He then homesteaded the 80 acres now occupied by his widow and the writer, and built a log house, which still stands and which is covered with walnut shingles made by Henry Hoover, and that are still doing good service after being in use thirty-two years.

In the spring of 1870 his brother's widow, who was a German by birth and who had come to the United States the same year as himself, arrived from Chicago, accompanied by her young son, the writer of this paper, and was married to her at Louisville soon after her arrival. His youngest brother, Florent, came out here the following winter and remained until spring, when Charles, in driving, lost one of his horses, and having nothing to live on, concluded to return with him to Illinois to work, where he followed railroading until fall, when he returned to his farm. After he returned he traded his remaining horse for a donkey, and though the animal could not do the work of a team, he was quite useful, and his gentle disposition made him a great favorite with the children, who would ride two and three at a time on him, beside doing considerable work when hitched alone.

The writer had occasion, in speaking of John Stiennon, to say how green some of the early settlers were in many respects. The writer was no exception, but his ignorance consisted more in not being acquainted with nature's doings. He used to like to play in running brooks, and it once entered his head to dam a small stream where stone was handy in the bank hard by. He proceeded to pull rock out of the bank for the work in hand, when, on moving a certain one, a buzzing sound greeted his ears from beneath it. He thought it was a rattlesnake, and proceeded to make himself scarce, but after going to what he thought was a safe distance, he stopped to look around, when he saw bumblebees coming out from under the stone. Bees were something he had been acquainted with in Illinois, and he was not afraid of them, so he returned to investigate, when some of them took after him. He tried to fight them back, when one of them got in his work, causing him to conclude that a retreat was the proper thing to do. But by this time a large portion of the swarm had taken after him and unmercifully stung him about the neck and legs. He thought they must have crawled inside his clothes to sting him, and so each time he felt a sting in that region he clapped his hand on the spot, trying to crush the bee so it would not sting him again. Of course, he didn't fail to make his voice heard, and as he was not far from home, he was soon met by his father and mother, who were coming to his rescue with a long pole, for there was an open, abandoned well between the house and the site of the tragedy, and their first fear was that he had fallen into it. Matters were soon explained, but it couldn't be understood how the bumblebees could crawl under his clothes and sting him and then escape in time to evade the blow at them, when it was explained to him that the bees could sting quite easily through his clothing, which was quite a revelation to him, and which he has had confirmed by experience several times since.

Mr. Crevecoeur died on his homestead nine years ago.

Charles McArthur and his wife, Diana, came to Kansas from Berrien county, Michigan, and settled at Circleville, where they lived a number of years. During the summer of 1870 they came to Mill creek with their four children, Charles, jr., Mary, Emma, and Joseph, and lived in the house of August Kolterman's land, in which Mr. Reboul had lived not long before. Mr. McArthur then homesteaded 80 acres of land now owned by Mrs. Colwell, and on which the improvements stand, and built a board shanty in the spring of 1871. About 1872 or 1873, Mr. McArthur's house was struck by lightning and Mary, who was standing before a mirror at the time, had a brass comb broken which she wore on her head. It was said a smell of sulphur was noticed in the house after the stroke. Mr. McArthur died in Oregon, where he had gone with his family in the 80's. His widow and son, Joseph, are still living there. Charles, jr., is living in Montanta. He was married to a daughter of John McFarland before going away from here. Emma married Obed Ewing in the spring of 1876, and is now in California, while Mary (Mrs. Charles Doolittle) died a few years ago.

In the fall of 1870 Baptist Robin, his wife, Genevieve, natives of Belgium, and three children, two girls and a boy, arrived from Chicago and stayed in the writer's house for about seven weeks. Mr. Robin then built a shed-roof shanty across the slough from our house, on what is now Mr. Honig's land, which then belonged to the railroad company and which he intended to buy; but finding the price too high, he, the next spring, removed to Cloud county. We lately saw an item in the Mail and Breeze saying that Mr. Robin, of Cloud county, was going back to Belgium on a visit, and late news from Illinois informs us that he is the same man as is the subject our our sketch.

Alphonse Carlier, another Belgian, his wife and three children, two girls and a boy, came from Chicago in the spring of 1872, accompanied by a young man named Eugene Dupont. They lived in the writer's house for about a week, when the youngest daughter, an infant, died and was buried in the Pleasant Valley cemetery. The oldest child, a girl, who was a regular tom-boy, was always in mischief, and on this account her parents were requested to seek a stopping place somewhere else. They then moved to Mr. Stiennon's, where there was children enough to watch her. Mr. Carlier then built a small stone house across the creek from Mr. Stiennon's, at the foot of the hill, just west of the schoolhouse, where his wife took sick and died. She was buried beside her child, and not long after Mr. Carlier and his two shildren [sic] returned to Chicago, where Mr. Dupont had preceded him. Mr. Carlier once had occasion to kill a chicken. He had someone hold the chicken while he held its head on the block with one hand and with the other he brought the axe down, when the chicken, to avoid the blow, drew its head back, pulling his hand with it, and his thumb, which received the blow, was nearly cut off. He roundly abused the chicken for playing him such a trick.

In the summer of 1874 the Rocky Scrabble school district was organized, and meetings to locate the site and for other matters, were held in Mr. Pecheur's house, as his was the largest one and nearly centrally located. The site chosen was the one nearest and most practicable to the center of the organized district, and a stone school house was decided upon, as Mr. Stiennon agreed to furnish the necessary rock. Mr. John Reboul did the stone work on the house, while Mr. Julian Gaume did the carpenter work. A three months' term of school was taught the following winter, Frank Giles being the teacher. The next spring Mrs. McArthur proceeded to organize a Sunday school, which was held in the new school house, Mr. Higgins, of Neuchatel, acting as superintendent for awhile, and Mrs. McArthur and Mrs. Sarah Simon as teachers. In August it was decided to have a Sunday school picnic in the school house, the Neuchatel Sunday school being invited to attend. All went well until the day of the picnic when, as it was during the hard times following the grasshopper years, and the Scrabblers not being any too well off, it was discovered by the Neuchatel people, who came with well-filled baskets, that if they should have a general dinner they would have to feed both schools, as the Scrabblers had brought but very little with them; so they decided that their school should eat separate from the Rocky Scrabble school. A plate of biscuits was passed around the Scrabble school and the writer helped himself to one, and though he had taken a pie and a quantity of cookies with him, the one biscuit was all he got for his dinner. A nearby companion, who had caught glimpses of pie and cake farther down the room, refused the biscuits when they were passed, and so he got nothing at all. After dinner there were a number of pieces recited, and so passed a very pleasant and enjoyable affair.

Mary Higgs taught this school the spring of 1876, a term of four months, and rode, nearly every day, from her home west of Neuchatel. March 27, there occurred the worst snow storm it has been our experience to see. Besides the teacher, there were at school, that day, Michael Fitzpatrick, Joseph McArthur, Edward Paulin, who was staying with Mr. Pecheur, Henry Perro, and the writer. The teacher, Edward Paulin, and Joseph McArthur braved the storm and managed to get to Pecheur's, where they stayed over night. Michael Fitzpatrick, Henry Perro, and the writer thought it safer to stay all night in the school house. Plenty of wood was carried in and a roaring fire was kept up all night, but on account of snow drifting in through the roof there was harldy a dry place on the floor for the three to lie down on, so one slept on a bench, which was of an old-fashioned kind, large and heavy, being made of oak lumber, and which had been discarded by a school in Nemaha county.

The first spelling school held in this school house was during Miss Higg's term, and much interest was taken in it. There were five teachers present besides Miss Higgs, who all took part in the spelling, and, though modesty should forbid us recording the fact, the writer had the honor of spelling down all opponents, but in justice to the teachers who took part, we wish to say it was noticed that they did not try to spell their host's school down. Miss Higgs closed her school, on the last day of April, with a picnic dinner in Mr. Doolittle's timber.

August Colin and wife and family of three children come here and stayed about a year, during 1875, with Mr. Pecheur. They then went to Leavenworth county, and now are living in Cloud county.

Charles Doolittle, who was born in New York, moved to Illinois while yet a young man. He worked in Chicago a number of years, and came to Kansas in the spring of 1875, buying out Casimir Steinnon [sic]. He was married in November of the same year to Mary McArthur. His son, Nahum, was born early in 1877.

A. Jared Noble, Martha, his wife, and three children, Mollie (Mrs. S.A. Eytchison), Nancy, who died a few years ago, soon after marrying Harve Jacques, and Albert, now in Oregon, came to Kansas from Summers county, W. Va., in January, 1876. Mr. Noble bought out Jacob Young and lived a number of years in a frame house which had a basement under it which was built by Mr. Young. A girl was born to him in 1877, who only lived to be a week old. Mr. Noble used to follow the occupation of coal digging at odd times in West Virginia, and still carries a memento in his forehead in the shape of a grain of coal, which lodged there from a chunk which struck him while wielding the pick. Mrs. Noble died a few years ago at her home during the summer of 1865.

Mort Grover happened to be riding along the creek on what is now a part of Mr. Noble's farm, southwest of Mr. Beiler's, when he discovered some clothes floating in one of the deep water holes. Like most boys, he had the curiosity to know more about them, so procuring a long pole he soon got the clothes out, and what was his horror to discover some bones in them. He dropped the clothes, bones, and all, and jumping on his horse, made for home as hard as his horse could run, for a more scared lad it would have been difficult to find. His father and Mr. Colwell were at work on the school house at the time and they were informed of his find. They went to investigate and found human bones in the clothes but nothing to identify the dead man by, only there were some scraps of German papers in the pockets. The skull was carried home and thrown under the school house and remained there for years, but when the school house was moved away, years afterward, the skull was gone. The writer once roamed over the spot where the dead man was found, in company with John Steinnon [sic], and a bone was found which John claimed was that of the dead man, but the writer doubted that human bones would be allowed to lie on top of the ground, when John, placing the bone beside his leg, showed how it agreed in length and shape with his own.

There had been a party of Germans, who had camped near there for several days in the spring, and it is supposed they got to quarreling, when one was killed and thrown into the water hole. Some time afterwards a man came along inquiring of Charles Grover for stray oxen, when he was asked if he belonged to the party who had camped along the creek in the spring near where the remains were found, and he suddenly lost command of the English language, saying he didn't understand what was meant.

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