Contributed by MERLE (BUS) CORNELIUS and produced by SUSAN STAFFORD.

Lee Boling, 20 Apr 1887 - 15 Nov 1962, Born Greenleaf, Kansas

     I will attempt to put in writing from the notes of Sarah Lee Boling (1862 - 1934), writings of Marie Boling Cornelius (1903 - 1988), mother and sister of subject, some history about Lee Boling, so it will not be lost in time.

Please click to read notes on Samuel Lee (Sarah's father)     Little is known of the early years except in generality, Lee was the first son of Otis and Sarah Lee Boling. Other sons were Harry, Bill and Earl -- Earl died when he was very young. The boys worked for their father either on the farm in Anderson Co. Ks. or in town where they learned their trades, plastering or stone mason; while they lived with Otis he would not pay them wages for their work, he did feed them well and furnished their clothes.

     In 1903 Lee was 16 years old and drove the second covered wagon when the family moved from Greeley Kansas to Oklahoma. In a short time the family moved back to Armourdale, near Kansas City. Otis the father, Lee (16) Harry (14) all went to work for the Armour Meat Packing Plant, this was early in 1904.

     Later in 1904, Lee teamed up with his father's younger brother, Omer Boling (b - 1874). They went west as cowboys, working from 1904 to 1908 through Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and finished in Nevada. On ranches in those days they would need a lot of help during the summer for rounding up the cattle, branding and getting them to market. These cowboys usually worked spring, summer and fall and were released during the winter. They were paid by the month and also received their “Keep”. In 1908 Lee and Omer worked through out the season in Nevada. Sometime late in the fall, the ranch foreman told them he could not keep them during the winter and he paid them off.

     We have various stories of what happened, at the end of their cowboy days. Lee and Omer were laid off from the ranch that they were working on, and being the ranch was a considerable distance from the railroad, they used some horses. (Borrowed? Stolen?) This is unknown. On the way to the railroad when they stopped for the night, they prepared their meal over a campfire, rolled up in their bedrolls for the night. When Lee awoke in the morning Omer his uncle was gone with all the food, water money and horses. Lee started walking towards the rail road and stated if he had not been picked up by another rancher in a buggy who took him to town he would of not survived. Lee reported this to the local sheriff, his uncle could not be found. The sheriff told Lee he had better get out of town and he caught the next freight train going east. Lee stated and I personal heard him “You know we could have been hung for taking those horses”. To the day Lee died in Santa Ana, Ca. where ever he was, he looked in telephone books and newspapers, to see if he could find his uncle whom he had spent the four years as a cowboy in the west. One time in California, he thought he found his uncle Omer. This old man he found was about the right age, but the old man would not talk to Lee at all when Lee went to his house.

     Lee was a plaster most of his life and what could be more boring than discussing that, but during the years from 1904 to 1908 Lee and his uncle Omer Boling were cowboys in Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and Nevada. The stories of the west will always linger on for all of us. Some criteria on being a cowboy. First his horse, it was simply a serviceable tool that greatly augmented the muscle power and mobility of the rider. The range was no place for a man on foot. The distances were too great, and without horses it would have been impossible to round up, brand and drive the cattle to market. Few cowboys actually owned a horse but they all rode the mounts, which usually were supplied by the ranch they worked for.

     The contractual bond of a man’s word was accepted, the noose for all horse thieves, the obligations of hospitably to a visiting cowboy, — these were among the cardinal principles of the code of the west. The reason I have mentioned these, in the statement made by Lee Boling “We could have been hung for taking those horses”.

     After Lee returned home, in the writings of Marie Boling Cornelius, it states “Sarah now had her son home and she could start to live again”. Lee again worked for his father until he married Ella May Sutton (1891 -1964) in 1909. He worked for many years in Kansas City as a plaster. Late in life he moved to Santa Ana, Ca.. He was very involved with the Union and overseen their apprentices program.

     Lee was a good storyteller, on a given Sunday afternoon; he would cross his spindly legs, handroll a cigarette and tell stories of his experiences. Much of Marie Boling's writings (on file) were from the information Lee had given her on the OK. Trip to his cow boy days.

     One time I was taken to visit him [1945] in Kansas City by Eileen Baker Phillips - my cousin - Lee stated one time about 1920, there was no work for a while, so he and Uncle Alphie Boling (brother to his father) decided to make moonshine and sell it. He took me to the basement and showed me how he boiled the mixture, ran the steam up a hose to the joist above and when it dripped down it was moonshine. Then he would water it down, add some tobacco juice to color it, some red pepper or lye to make it burn going down, and sell it on the street. The mob in Kansas City told them either stop selling or join them and sell their liquor. Lee stopped but Uncle Alphie continued. He was found in the Missouri River near Richmond Mo. There were many men found in the river from the mob.

     Lee Boling was a very kind and gentleman. The fore going is of my memory and my mother’s records.

-- Merl (Bus) Cornelius

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