Old Settlers' Tales by F.F. Crevecoeur

The following is concerning Neuchatel township, in Nemaha county:

The very first settlers on Coal creek, in Nemaha county, we are informed, were Thomas, Peter, Luke, and Michael McLaughlin, four brothers. They had come here from Iowa in 1860. Thomas had located the farm which he sold to Pat McNally about 1875. He had a wife and a son, Peter, who was born in Iowa. Others of his children are: Thomas, jr., John and Maggie (Mrs. John Ross, now dead). Mr. McLaughlin and two sons, Thomas and John, are in Ellis county, and Peter is in Montana. His wife died about 1870 and he has since remarried. Peter McLaughlin, sr., went back to Iowa shortly after coming here. He had located on the farm which Ed Flaherty, sr., bought of him. Michael was married when he came and his wife died before 1865. Luke was also married, Mrs. James Ross being one of his children. Mrs. Ross died three years ago. Luke and his wife are living near Seneca.

Edward Flaherty, sr., came to Coal creek from Wheeling, VA., during the war. He was a widower and was following the avocation of peddler. He wrote to his sons, Ed and George, to join him here. He bought out Peter McLaughlin. His son, Ed, married Mary Farrel, of Leavenworth, before 1865. Ed's children are: William, Allie (Mrs. Rogers, of Wild Cat, near Seneca), Ed, also of Wild Cat, Jack, Ellen, and George. The senior Ed Flaherty died about 1890, while younger Ed died about 10 years ago. Ed, jr.'s, wife died about 1893. George married Ann McTige, of Virginia. His children are: Frank, who died a couple of years ago, Joseph, George, jr., and two daughters. His wife died two years ago.

John O'Hara and his wife, Ann, are natives of Ireland. They came here from Weston, Mo., in 1865. Mr. O'Hara had two daughters when he came here-Mary Ann (Mrs. McLaughlin, of Beloit, Kan.), and Bridget (Mrs. Frank Gum, of Atchison.) He pre-empted the farm where he is now living. Other children, born here, are: John, Thomas, James, and Peter. In 1873 Mr. O'Hara built his present frame residence.

Patrick Kline and his wife, Bridget, who are natives of Ireland, came here from Illinois in the fall of 1865. He had three children when he came here, William, Annie (Mrs. Al. Schwarz, of Soldier creek), and Kate, now of California. Mr. Kline bought out John Caldwell, a bachelor, and lived five years in a log house 12x12 feet square. In 1871 he built a frame house. When he came here he drove through with nine head of horses and fifteen head of cattle. His other children, who were born here are: Jane (Mrs. William McNeill, of Corning), Rosa (Mrs. William McNally, of Colorado Springs), John, and Josephine (Mrs. Bryan McDonald).

Albert Becker, who is a native of Pennsylvania, came to Kansas from Indiana in 1870, and settled on 80 acres of land which was part of a section of railroad land that had been bought by his father. In 1872 he went to Michigan, where he married Laura Coyle. Of thirteen children that he has, all of whom are living, Emma and George are the oldest.

Pius Becker, a brother to the above, came out with Albert and lived with him part of the first summer, when he went back to Indiana, where he got married, returning to this locality with Mary, his wife, in 1874. He also settled on 80 acres of his father's farm. His oldest child is Carrie (Mrs. George Huchard).

Jerome, another brother to the above, came here in 1875 or 1876. He got 80 acres of land of his father, which he sold to Albert, while living here.

Ignatius Jacobs came here in 1874 with his wife, Anna, a sister to the Becker brothers. He lived on 80 acres of the old gentleman Becker's farm. He had three boys born to him here, of whom one was named Eddie. Albert and Pius Becker and Mr. Jacobs each built frame houses on their farms.

Simon Myers and his wife, Maggie, who were natives of Ohio, came here from Indiana in 1872. He settled on the farm where he is now living, having bought the farm of Mr. Pratt. He is the father of seventeen children, fifteen of whom are living. The oldest are: Joseph, of Cowley county; George, of Wyoming; John, Sarah (Mrs. William Fitzgerald, of Kansas City), and Frank. These are his children by a first wife, and came here with him from Indiana. Of those born here, Rene and Emma (Mrs. Saurageot, of Centralia), are the oldest.

Ephraim Pratt and his wife, Betsy, came here from Lagrange, Ind., in 1869. He homesteaded the farm now owned by Simon Myers, to whom he sold out in 1872, when he moved to near Centralia. While living here, about 1873, he had his cattle, hogs, and all his feed burned by a prairie fire that swooped down from Nebraska. It was this same fire that burned out Mr. Fitzpatrick, of Grant township, in Pottawatomie county. Mr. Pratt then went to preaching and moved to the place now owned by Dave Labbe. From there he moved to near Blaine, about 1875, and is now supposed to be living McPherson county. When he came here he drove through with horses, and brought two children along, Ephraim and Ida. Ephraim married a daughter of Samuel Major soon after he came here. He followed his father's fortune while living about here. Artemus, another son of the old gentleman Pratt, came here with the rest of the family. He was married, his wife's name being Virtue, and had five or six children, among which were Fred and Mary. Fourth of July was celebrated at the old gentleman Pratt's home in 1871.

Mr. Dunning and wife came here from the same place and at the same time as Mr. Pratt. He homesteaded the place now owned by Henry Cattin. Both Dunning and his wife are dead. Mr. Dunning drove through with horses when he came here from Indiana.

William Carter, a son-in-law of Mr. Dunning, came here from Indiana, with his wife and several children, in 1871.

Peter Major came here with his sister Rachel, in 1868, from Indiana. He located the farm on which the Catholic church stands. He put up a blacksmith shop, at which trade he worked as well as farming. He is now in Andrew county, Missouri. John and Samuel Major, brothers to the above, came here about 1870. John lived on the Henry Miller farm.

Mr. Miller was a brother-in-law to Bruce Tryon, and owned and lived on the place now Moses McCray's, where Mr. Kauts is living. John Major sold out to Mr. Carter.

Samuel Major had no house for his home while living here. He is at Sulphur Springs, Ark.

James and William Colyer each owned a half of the Peter Burke farm in the late 60's.

Jacob Abramson, a widower, came here from Lagrange, Ind., with his two sons, John and Calvin, in the spring of 1870. He homesteaded the farm now owned by James Clay. He and his sons went to the southwestern part of the state, near Great Bend, where he died.

Mrs. Philura Tyron came here from Indiana in the fall of 1868, with her children, Bruce, Isaac, Frank, and Phebe (Mrs. Joe Gibson). She settled on the farm now owned by David Labbe. She went back to Indiana in the early 70's, where she died in 1892. Isaac homesteaded the Barret farm, which he sold to Joel Job.

James Summerville is a native of Ireland. His wife, Hannah, was from New York. They came to Kansas from Indiana, in 1866, and Mr. Summerville homesteaded the place that he is living on. His two sons, Isaac and William, came with their parents from Indiana. Mr. Summerville drove through with a team of horses when he came here. The fall he came he worked on the Central Branch railroad, which was being extended to Centralia. With him were Gustave Bonjour, F. Theys, and Casimir Stiennon. When winter came there came a heavy fall of snow, making it necessary to quit work on the railroad; so he and his three companions started home on foot through the deep snow. When still several miles from Mr. Summerville's home, Mr. Stiennon gave out and had to be partly dragged, partly carried, until they reached Mr. Summerville's house. As Mr. Summerville and Mr. Theys were newcomers, they were not well acquainted with the country, and the snow effaced all signs of roads, so Gustave Bonjour went ahead to show the way, while the other two helped Mr. Stiennon along. The same year (1866) Mr. Summerville attended his first fourth of July celebration in Kansas, at old Centralia, which was a mile north of the present site of the city. The fall of 1867 and 1868 Mr. Summerville worked at Zimmerman's sawmill at Neuchatel. He at first lived across the creek from where he is now living. The same fall he came here there was a swarm of grasshoppers that came from the west, but they only stayed a few days. Another swarm came in 1868. He built his present house and barn about 1874. Mrs. Summerville died in 1897.

Henry Cary came here with his wife and five or six children, from Iowa, in the spring of 1866. They were originally from New York. He homesteaded the place now owned by John Parker, to whom he sold it. One of his children's name was Charity. It is supposed he went to Arkansas from here in about 1870. Mr. Cary had a stepson by the name of McNary, who, it is thought, went with his stepfather when the latter left here. McNary worked for Mr. Grover and for Mr. Colwell while living here.

Nathan Dressey, with his wife and one child, moved from near Centralia to the place just west of Mr. Summerville's in April, 1866. He had only one arm. About 1868 he traded his farm to George Thomas, who was also from near Centralia, and moved to Kansas City. He now lives in the southern part of the state.

George Thomas had a wife and several children when they moved to this locality. One daughter, Keziah, became the wife of a man by the name of Chapin, a nephew of the Chapin who was in the broom business at Neuchatel. His other children were: John, James, and two other boys. Mr. Thomas moved to Pleasant Hill, Mo., in the early 70's.

A man by the name of Bishop was living on the place now owned by Mrs. Pauline Bonjour. He must have come as early as 1856 or 1857. He had a wife and a daughter. He moved to Atchisonin the early 60's.

Elias Hawk came from Iowa with his wife and settled on a part of what is the George Grover ranch. His children are: Mary (Mrs. Jennings), Emma (Mrs. Douglas Skinner, of Washington county), Sam, also of Washington county, Grace (Mrs. James Parker, of St. Louis). Mrs. Hawk died here and is buried in the King cemetery. Mr. Hawk is living in Washington county.

A man by the name of Utzy came here from the southern part of the state, with his wife, in the early 60's. He located the John E. King place, and made his home with Louis Simon. His wife was a school teacher, and also an arduous worker in the church. Mr. Utzy lost his mind, and he and his wife went back to the southern part of the state.

Jere Miller came here, from Michigan with his wife, Fannie, and daughter, Jessie (Mrs. Sam Meek), in 1868. He lived on a farm north of Fred Vautraver (the Ami Bonjour farm) until about 1890, when he died. His widow is now living in Centralia.

John Small came from Michigan, in 1868, with his wife and several children. He lived on the Gurtler farm.

Charles Keppert came to Mulberry in the spring of 1866, with his wife and one child. He lived in the Thomas house two years, and stayed here about five years altogether, when he went away.

Albert Tooker came here from Indiana in the early 70's, with his wife and children, Jay, Minnie (Mrs. Robert Lowery), Harry, and another boy. Mr. Tooker is now in Wabaunsee county.

George Skinner came here from Indiana about the same time as Mr. Tooker, and homesteaded a place north of Gurtler's. He had two children, Emma and George, and is now in Wabaunsee county.

John Somers lived just east of the Mulberry Schoolhouse in the early 70's. He had a wife and children, Ellsworth, Willie, and two daughters. His wife died in the soldiers' home at Leavenworth in 1897.

John E. King came here, with his wife and mother, in 1866. His children are: Ella (Mrs. Robert Hill, of Morris county), Lizzie (Mrs. Charles Tripp, of America City), and Jennie (Mrs. Sheridan Fanning, of near Centralia). His mother died two years ago.

Mr. Carmichael was living near Mr. King's in the early '70's. He and his wife moved to the southern part of the state, and a son, Jacob, followed him some time after.

Benjamin L. Benton, a brother of Mrs. August Simon, was a native of Ohio. He came here from Indiana, with his wife, Sarah, who was also from Ohio, in 1868. He settled just across the road from the Mulberry school house on a homestead. His children who came, with him are: Norman, Mary, Emma, Harry, and Charles. Norman is at Swan Lake, in northwestern Iowa. Mary died at Ottawa, Ill. Henry died here the year of the spring they came here, at the age of eight or nine years. Emma and Charles are living at Ottawa, Ill. Mr. Benton left here on the 15th of September, 1874, with his family, intending to go to Michigan, but stopped at Ottawa, Ill., where he afterwards made his home. He died about 1888, at Marseilles, Ill., and his wife died about two years ago, at Ottawa.

Ed L. Horth and his wife, Delia, came to Neuchatel from New York, about 1870, and lived on the Fred Bonjour place, now owned by Mr. Theys. He lived there about three years, when he homesteaded the place belonging afterwards to Mr. Rossier, and now Mrs. Chatelam's. His children, born in this locality, are: Tressie, Frank, Effie, Elmer, and Lincoln. Mr. Horth is living at Centralia.

John Eggins, his wife, and a daughter, Cora came here from Illinois, about 1869 or 1870, and lived on the Fred Bonjour place with Mr. Horth, one family in one end and the other in the other end. Mr. Eggins had a boy , Pearl, born here. He removed to Centralia a year or two after coming here.

A man by the name of Chapin, who lived at Centralia, had bought 80 acres of land of Fred Bonjour, the west half of Mr. They's farm, and leased a half a section of land across the road, which he broke out and planted to broom corn. This was about 1869 or 1870. His brother, Charles, was associated with him, and they built a shed about 100 feet long, to store the crop in. Ed Horth and John Eggins worked for them, raising and caring for broom corn. After they had been in the business a couple of years the shed and its contents were burned, and they then quit business and went away.

A man by the name of Joyce came here from Centralia, and located the Hitchner farm.

Fidele G. Hitchner name here from New Jersey, his native state, the 13th day of April, 1877. He bought 80 acres of the land of John Parker, on which he built a frame shanty and lived on the place five years, when he moved to his present farm, which he bought of Mr. Joyce.

Peter Gurtler and family, the only German speaking family that we know of that settled in Neuchatel township, came from Wisconsin, in 1873, and settled on the farm he lately lived on. He was a brother of John Gurtler, of Mill creek, the father of Wesley and Peter Gurtler, of Onaga.

He had come to Wisconsin from the old country in 1855. His wife, Mary, and children, Mat, Anna, Veit, Peter, Mary (Mrs. John Sampey, of Concordia), John, and Joseph came with him from Wisconsin. Anna married Charles Dreyer in 1874 or 1875, and is living in Topeka. Veit married Alice Londale, and is now in Wabaunsee county. Peter, jr., is in Marshall county. Mr. Gurtler comes from a family who were remarkable for their longevity. His mother's father lived to be 110 years old, and his mother was 99 when she died. Mr. Gurtler's wife passed away last fall, and he died July 7 of this year.

Jules Leroux, who was a member of the chamber of deputies in France, was exiled to England when Napoleon III became emperor and came from the island of Jersey, whither he had gone, came to Kansas in 1866. He lived a while in the Louis C. Simon house, which stood on what is now Paul Junod's farm, then moved to the Fred Bonjour farm, now Mrs. Theys'. He homesteaded the farm now belonging to James Meek, and built a frame house, into which he soon after moved. His wife was a German lady, and she and the following children came with him to this locality: Peter, Gabrielle (Mrs. Ami Zurcher), Lizette (Mrs. Etienne Pepies) [sic], Paul, Jules, jr., and Mary (Mrs. Armand Dehay), After Mr. Leroux came here he established a French political paper called "L' Etoile de Kansas" (The Star of Kansas), which he printed in his home on the farm. It was a Republican paper, in which Mr. Leroux worked for the political emancipation of the French people. He had a lot of feed burned by a prairie fire two or three years after he moved onto his farm. Mr. Leroux's son, Peter, homesteaded the north half of the present Tom McLaughlin farm and lived in a log house east of where Ike Summerville lives. Paul homesteaded the south half of the Baptist Dulac farm and had a house on the northwest corner of it. He married Mrs. Mary Souleret about the year 1874.

Mr. Leroux's son-in-law, Alexander Petit, came from London to Topeka, and came here with his wife, Frantz, and a boy, Jules, several years after Mr. Leroux came here. He was a barber by trade. He bought a farm, which afterwards became Mr. Rossier's. He could not get a good title to it, so he next bought the farm belonging to Mrs. C. Surdez, and lived on it a couple of years, after which he went back to Topeka. Finally he went to Arizona, where he died a few years ago, but his wife is still living there. As Europe has the hedgehog, which is typical to the soil of Europe, so have we one that is typically American. Not long after Mr. Petit came back here he ran across a pretty , little, black and white animal, and the thought struck him that it would be quite desirable as a pet for the children. So he thought he would see if he could capture it and take it home. As the rose has its thorns, so did the animal have its faults, and when a grab was made for it, it resented the gentleman's familiarity in a forceful way, and Mr. Petit swore that then, there, and forever, he would quit trying to make pets of any and all wild creatures that he might afterwards meet in the wilds of America.

Etienne Pepin is a stone cutter by trade, and a Canadian by birth. He came here in the late 60's and married Lizette Leroux in 1867, at Topeka. He homesteaded the place where John Meyers lives. His children, born there, are: George and Helen. He is now living in Topeka.

Armand Dehay, a Frenchman, came here at an early day and for a while was interested in the French store. He followed the barber's profession, and in 1872 he married Mary Leroux. He lived for a while with Mr. Leroux, then went to Wamego, where he worked at his trade. After a few years he returned to this locality. Of eight children, born to him, the oldest are: Paul, Emile, Van Philip and Armand jr.

Mr. Leroux and his sons and sons-in-law went to Iowa, 1878, where they were all interested in the society of Icaria, a socialistic affair. Mr. Petit had previously visited Mr. Bossiere, of Franklin county, and was, to a certain extent, interested in Mr. Bossiere's scheme, but not being satisfied with it, he returned here. The family did not find the society of Icaria altogether to their taste, and soon left there, to go to California, where they still followed their socialistic ideas. This did not last long, however, as some found, what many others had, and are still doing, that nothing uplifts a man so much as to be thrown on his own resources and to live as his own boss.

Mr. Leroux and most of his children and grandchildren are living now at Cloverdale, Sonoma county, California.

Alfred Frezieres came to Canada with his wife, Ernestine, from the Isle of Jersey, England. He lived in Canada but eight months, when he went to Ohio, where he stayed two years, and then came here the 6th of August, 1866. He had first come to Topeka to look the country over. Making Mr. Vautraver's acquaintance, he was induced to make this his future home, so he went back for his family and made his home with the Vautravers that winter. Of his children , Cecilia (Mrs. Wallace Felt, of Santa Rosa, Cal.), Ernest, Aglae (Ada), who died in 1881, and Kate (Mrs. George Kleffert, of Chihuahua, Mexico), were born in England. Stella (Mrs. Frank Wise, of Leavenworth,) was born here. Mr. Frezieres homesteaded 80 acres across the road from where his son, Ernest, is living. The first house he built was made of poles set in the ground, to which small rails were nailed, and the space between was filled up with red clay, mixed with hay.

The roof was thatched with coarse grass. He had a yoke of oxen, and, being short of feed, he turned them loose to rustle for themselves and to get exercise. They soon discovered the hay on the roof of the house, and started to pull out mouthfuls of it, for which it was said of them that they were drawing straws. To the above house, or rather shack, a lean-to was built of sod covered with brush. It was while playing about this lean-to that one of his girls was snake bitten. She soon recovered under the treatment of Dr. Dockler. After living two years in this house, it was burned down, and Mr. Frezieres moved into the house on Fred Bonjour's place (Mrs. Theys'). While living there he had his crop, consisting of hay and grain, burned by a prairie fire. There was about twenty tons of the hay and a hundred bushels of wheat, which was stored in a granary made of hazel brush and hay. It was supposed the fire had been intentionally started by a neighbor who had a grudge against him, and all for no fault of his. Mr. Frezieres had a few head of cattle, cows, etc., which in the late fall he had allowed to run loose in the timber, so they might choose their own shelter. Among them was a cow that had a calf which came home in the evening to feed its milk. In the morning Mr. Frezieres turned her loose and followed her, expecting her to lead him to where the rest of the cattle where, as he wished to see how they were faring. He had not gone far from home when he was met by his neighbor and a relative of the neighbor who had come for a visit, who, it seems, had a cow that resembled the Frezieres cow and which he, also, was seeking. Seeing Mr. Frezieres driving the cow along, he thought he was trying to drive her to his home, and he and his friend fell in to help drive her. Frezieres, not knowing a word of English, couldn't learn their object for helping drive his cow, but accepted their help as neighborly goodwill and said nothing. Arriving at the neighbor's house, there stood the counterpart of his cow. The neighbor's friend, seeing the mistake, broke out into a hearty laugh, and then, for the first time, Mr. Frezieres began to realize the situation and joined in the laughing. Not so with his neighbor, who thought fun had been intended to be made of him, and took the matter as an insult, and only scowled at his supposed enemy.

In the spring of 1869 Frezieres built a log house on his pace, to which he moved. this house is still standing. He was a member of the state militia, and edited a paper in Centralia at one time. He died on his farm in 1897.

Mrs. Frezieres was daughter of Pierre (Peter) Leroux, a brother of Jules Leroux, who had come here. Pierre Leroux, like his brother, was a member of the chamber of deputies, in France, and an Author of note. When Napoleon III made his famous coup d'etat on the 2nd of December, 1852, he exiled his political opponents. Through the influence of powerful friends, Mr. Leroux and brother were allowed to seek an asylum in England, otherwise they would have been banished to Africa. Mrs. Frezieres was a young girl then, and was followed in exile by her future husband, to whom she was soon afterwards married. Her father was an intimate friend of Victor Hugo, who was also exiled. The authoress, George Sand, was also a friend of the family, and Mrs. Frezieres remembers going, when a little girl, to picnic with George Sand and other lights, to a place where there were monuments erected for worship by Druids. Mr. Leroux was also acquainted with Ernest Renan, and an admirer of his writings. It was through the latter's books that Mr. Leroux became a liberal in his religious views. Mr. Leroux had for his contributors to the "Globe," the following men: Broglie, Guizot, and Cousin. In conjunction with George Sand and Viardot, he established the "Revue Independante." Of a number of books he wrote, his best known and most popular one is "De l' Humanite."

Julian Gaume came to Louisville, Ohio, from France, in 1841. His wife, Nictorine, came to the same locality, where they were married, the year after. In April, 1867, they came to this locality, where they were married, with their children, Joseph, Mary, Frank, Louis, and Peter. A daughter, Jennie, entered a convent in Pennsylvania, so did not come with the rest of the family. They rode by rail to the end of the extension of the Central Branch railroad, which was then between Goffs and Corning. Julian settled on the Bishop farm, now owned by Mrs. Pauline Bonjour. He was a carpenter by trade, and built a frame house on his farm, the second one n the township. He died in 1880, at the age of 70 years.

His wife died about fifteen years ago. Of Mr. Gaume's children, Joseph married Mary Malone in the spring of 1868, and settled on a homestead, southwest of Fostoria. After staying there a while he moved to Seneca, and remained there a few years. He is now at Myers Valley, Pottawatomie county. Mary married Charlie Aziers in September, 1867, and has since made her home at St. Benedict, near Seneca. Louis was married to Margaret Steele, of Seneca, in 1873. After he was married he went to Dunlap, Iowa, and in two years he came back to Seneca. He is now in Peoria, Ill. When he was last here he had two children, Albert and Percy, who were born in Iowa. Frank married Mary Steele in Seneca, in 1871, and lived there until 1877, when he went out west. The last he was heard of was about 1880 or 1881, when he was in a hospital at San Francisco, where, it is supposed, he died.

Louis Sauvageot and his wife, Arminie, a daughter of Julian Gaume, came from Louisville, O., when Mr. Gaume did. He had two daughters, Josephene (Mrs. Henry Reboul), and Louisa, who died at three years of age, and one boy, John, when he came here. He homesteaded the John Gurtler farm. Other children born here, are: Jane (Mrs. Gray, of Seneca), a boy, who died in infancy, Emma (Mrs. Frank Cline), Charles, and Edward.

Baptist Dulac came here from Peoria, Ill. He had come from France before the war, and did considerable freighting across the plains for the government during that time. His wife, Anna, was from Kentucky. He homesteaded the farm north of his brother , Xavier's. He was a cooper by trade. Mrs. Dulac died in 1896, and her husband died two years later.

previous  names index  next

KanColl  Books