Early Pioneer of Eastern Kansas
[published in newspapers of the day]
Many have written of the past. The world today is full of their records. To those who are not too intensely engrossed with the present, there is some pleasure in reviewing things "quondam". And I may here say by way of introduction and apology for this writing, that for while it is something of a task to have to draw on ones memory for a space of over sixty years, yet it is not without some degree of pleasure that we take to detail certain things in days gone by. And while it may not be of interest to all the readers of this paper, I am persuaded that there is a class of "Old Timers" who will not only be interested in the recital, but will be able in many instances to verify and corroborate the narration. I also ask forbearance where any statement may refer to the writer personally as I desire no honor for the recital. So much by way of introduction to the worthy paper which I may bear this humble message to the folks who now live where I spent my boyhood days, North Bourbon county, and Southern Lynn county, have not lived in the county since 1887 or 36 years.
Oh! The little Osage, the little Osage,|
Where its waters foam and rage:
Where the wild winds blow and the flowers grow,
On the banks of the little Osage.
There are merry chimes for the happy times
Which were fraught for those earlier days,
But time moves on and so many are gone
And forgotten, -- as these earlier Angel
But the one thing we know and will try to allow
Tho we lived in that former age,
We all of us vow, we are glad it is now
That we're living, and not in that former age.
Original Osage Muse
You may doubt my authority, as [...] age that I was less than five years old when I left Illinois, and until yet I want to say and that, truthfully, that I remember many things there. The mill on the stream, the house on the hill, nearby a large sugar tree in the yard with a swing on the limb: of going with my father and mother and little sister to Pittsfield with horse and buggy and many other things. But to begin, I will not give my name at first, but am real sure that as I proceed with my story many will be able to guess the author.
I was born in Pike county Illinois, October 12th, 1850, on a stream called Honey Creek, four miles west of Pittsfield, the county seat. This county has the Mississippi river for its western border. In the spring of 1855 my father sold his mill and farm and immigrated to Kansas, which had just been placed on the map and opened for settlement. The family consisted of five sons and one daughter. We moved in the old time prairie schooner style drawn by oxen, to wagons, three yoke to one wagon and two to the other, but one yoke were cows. I shall not attempt to describe the events of that journey across the state of Missouri. I will only mention just what was presented to us at one camp. We stopped for the night near a large plantation where slaves were kept and we scarce had time to take our supper we saw a number of people gathering under some large trees where there were rustic benches and seats and we noticed that nearly all were colored folks. Well, we soon learned what they were gathering for, as soon as they began their music, old time banjos and fiddles. Well they hugged and played and they danced and sang. Oh! What wild hilarious joy, why they seemed to be running over with joy. We all went up from camp and looked on. These were the first blacks we children had ever seen, living as we did in a free state so to us it was a real show. There seemed to be the spirit of utmost harmony and good will, not only toward each other but also toward the master and overseer and all visitors. So judging from the appearance there that night, one would be led to conclude that for the blacks that were slaves there not utterly destitute of joy and we may say that no matter what conditions on bonds [......] It is still susceptible to happiness. Yes happiness is a latent God-given heritage and a requisite to human existence.
We must now move on to the "Sunflower" following on to the Big Osage to its confluence with the Marias des Cygne and from there west up the little Osage to where it crossed the eastern line of the State and from there several miles west to where an M. Swanson now lives about one mile north and one mile west of what is now Fulton. This was the end of a long trail for us, for it was there that we halted March 23, 1855 on the north bank of the Osage river and seven miles from the state line, almost due north of Fort Scott. What we found was virgin country awaiting the magic touch of civilization to awaken it from its primitive slumber undeveloped, untouched by the hand of man, save for a few marks of the "Aborigines", the valleys and hills covered with luxuriant grass, splendid timber along the streams, fine fertile soil all useless to the world other than as it served to nourish the herds of wild deer, buffalo, and other wild animals. Listen kind reader, it cost something to develop this fine country of ours, but he that looketh upon it now with all the advantages of wealth, luxury, education and sense will agree with me when I say that it was worth the price. Yes, when we look at the transition through which this, our loved land has passed we are constrained to say in the language of Napoleon, "We came, we saw, we conquered.". Now dear reader, you may call me an optimist, but look abroad to see will you at the wonderful rose hued outline of human opportunity which our fair land offers and you will agree with me that it has been a big work of big men and women endowed with big views and they expressed in their work, that exalted and redeeming feature, the good of their fellow men. Now this last attribute of men was true in a general sense. Of course there were many exceptions. We confess that the Work has some times extremely go slow, there have been differences to overcome, but yet those brave pioneers never flinched or side stepped, but kept on the job. Yes sir, they done "what they could" and we might say of them the same that was said of other folks who did great work, "they built better than they knew". But we are digressing again. What did we find? There were but three towns in the state. Leavenworth, founded in 1827; Fort Scott 1828; Westport, 1825. Very few roads running from Leavenworth to Fort Scott. One was called the Military road. No bridges, no postal services, except that carried on by the government where they had soldiers. Where we located not an acre of land in cultivation. I was the young man of the family and a "gentleman" you see and didn't work. And I well, I just never have gotten over it. Well we built a house used ridge poles (no rafters) and covered it with clap boards, Chinked and daubed it with clay, no windows, no floor, no lumber nearer than Westport; I don't know if there was any there. Now about the time the house was finished there came a good rain. After that the plowing went smooth and we soon had out forty acres of sod crops. Well how did we live the first year? The nearest store, Fort Scott, was thirteen miles away; our nearest neighbor, Pete Labardy, three miles and he just an old man. Well, we had two cows and the woods were full of game, rabbits, in all of north Bourbon county wild animals and Indians plentiful, as a rule the animals were dressed better than the Indians, but the Indians I may say, were not hostile in our locality, this was a great help. Well we went out to plow with a sod plow and four yoke of cattle. No go, the ground was to dry. So as we could not plow we must do something. We were living in a tent at first, so we cut logs in the timber and dragged them to where we wanted to build our house. The we cut a large oak tree, sawed it into three foot lengths, then split it into bolts, then used what we called a frow to rive the bolts into boards to cover the house. Now pardon me, I am saying we all the time, but it was not me but my father and brothers. My brothers killed game and caught fish. I might add also that wolves were numerous and there howling could be heard every night. But we survived and it was not out of a tine either. We dug a well (pardon me for saying we, its shorter), we broke and fenced forty acres of land and planted in corn, melons, and pumpkins. We had a fine crop, especially the melons they just couldn't have been beaten, and some other garden stuff such as beans, but alas! Just as we were straightening up and starting to take a long breath (so to speak) came the "Dispersion". All Free State settlers were ordered to pack up and decamp, leave, get out. This order was made by a pro-slaver leader by the name of Fox. This order extended to all settlers along the border from West Port (Kansas City, Missouri) to Fort Scott and even father south. This order was preemptory. It had truth in it. No excuse, just go or your houses will be burned and your men killed. Well, the old Fox made his word good. Those who did not go were many of them killed, but most settlers fled and my father and his family among them. Pardon me for introducing a little bit of history. I do so that you may understand why people were driven out. Many will remember and to those who are to young to remember, history will verify, the national troubles that were brought about by slavery. How the south had it and how the North opposed it. That is like Lincoln opposed its further extension into new territory so the strife waxed hot in congress and the line of demarcation was known as the "Mason Dixon Line" or the line between slavery and freedom. So when Kansas was proposed as a state, the strife grew so strong that something must be done, so about this time Stephen A. Douglas introduced in congress what is called "The Squatter Sovereignty Bill". The provisions of this bill left it up to the people of any new territory to decide for themselves the questions to whether it should be free or slave. And this bill, history tells us, carried the war from congress to Kansas and was the cause of the Border Ruffian War of 56 to 60. I shall make no comment on this war as it is a matter of history, other than to relate some incidents which occurred. So forced to abandon their homes and go whether they could, father and his family started back for Illinois, but he changed his mind and went to north Missouri, Grundy county where we stayed one winter but in the spring of 56, when the excitement had somewhat abated we returned to the Osage only to find it occupied my a man named Southwood, who with his family, was holding it down. My father raised no strife about the place, but settled temporarily on some land now known as the Wogahn place on Elm creek about three miles south, where we waited for the turn of the tide which came that fall. When a band of Free State men came one day and moved us to our old place and built us a house all in the same day, serving notice on the said Southwood to not molest us but to allow to live there peaceably by him until the Land Office should be opened at which time the matter could be adjusted, and to permit us to use water from the well. (The land was not even surveyed at the time.) Now we built the house and dug the well the year before where Southwood now lived and it came about one day when mother went there with two other neighbor women, a Mrs. Banks and a Mrs. Bain to draw water, they were refused water and my mother struck with a cane. Well, I don't know how it happened, but the next morning there came in about 25 or 30 men who gave to Mr. Southwood written notice to vacate the place within a week, but giving him permission to come back peaceably and get his corn, allowing my father one third as rent. So within the time mentioned in the notice he was gone and we moved back into our homestead where we remained until the war was over and many years after while the country was building.
There were many other settlers coming in. Space and time bids me to name but a few. There were Osborn's, Hacket's, Hinton's, Beason's, Denton's, Bain's, Dr. Alter and Tillery, who had but one arm, and a little later a man by the name of Barnes started a store in his house which start the town where Barnesville is now. So this was our nearest store for a long time and so far as I know Barnesville was the second oldest town in the county. Later Mr. John M. run a store for years: well you all know today of its larger growth and glory, but it was a great help to us to have a store within three miles of us. This continued until Fort Lincoln was founded in 1861. George Hopkins put in the first store, Wm. Groen the second. '56 to '61 marked an era of strife and violence, but through it all immigration kept pouring in. Each political party trying to gain strength to win to make the state free or slave. Of the many cases of terrible tragedies, I shall name only a few. I am not taking sides in that war. Thank God it is passed and may its like never be known again. There were two men one night called to there doors and shot down within one mile of what is now Fulton. Just across the river north of Fulton a Mr. Wm. Danfort lived with his family. One night he was called to his door and shot down. The same night a Mr. Hetrick living just north of the Osage country where the road drops over the bluff into the valley, was called to his door and shot down. Both these in less than one mile of Fulton. There were nine farmers rounded up just east of the site where Pleasanton now stands by some armed men under one Hamilton and shot down. One of them was a Mr. Hargrove, but forbear me to repeat these old tragedies, yet I could give names and places of many of them. Pardon me when I say that I take no credit nor pleasure either from reciting these old time scenes only to let the world of today know what has been done: but one more and then I shall change to more pleasant things.
This time the scene of the sketch is in Fort Scott just to show the rankling spirit of the times. There was a man by the name of Benjamin Rice who had been taken prisoner from our neighborhood and confined in a room in the old Government Plaza (they had no jail). A man by the name of John Little was City Marshal at the time. At day break one morning a band of men supposed to be led by James Montgomery, rode into town and up to the house where Rice was confined and Marshal Little from a house across the street with some men who were with him, opened fire on the band, which fire was returned and John Little was killed and several others wounded: Rice was released. Well there is another, but this is different - John Brown and the "underground railway". Yes, I have seen old John Brown and several of his men and knew personally one of his men for he lived by us and joined John Brown's band about this time and was one of the twenty men who suffered with him at Harper's Ferry. His name was Jerry Anderson. Well John Brown and his men went down into Missouri to a plantation, on the Osage just north of what is now Nevada whose owners name was Carter and he came away with eleven Negroes, some were men, some were women, besides some children. They came up the Osage to Labardy creek where they camped two days and two nights, about two miles north of what is now Fulton, then they went on. I saw this group of Negroes, they seemed happy. Yea!, even jolly on their way to freedom to Canada, "Caanan" as they put it. I don't know if they ever got there or not, but John went on with his work escorting blacks across the border into Canada until he resolved to seize the United States Arsenal at Harper's Ferry and to put arms in the colored races hands and thereby with one master stroke free them. All the world knows the result so I will refrain from comment, only will quote one verse as it seems "There was in insurrection down near Harper's Ferry Section. John Brown thought the Negroes would sustain him, but old Governor Wise took the specs from off his eyes and sent him to the happy land of Caanan."
Also John Brown had a fort on the south bank of the river where a ravine empties and makes a turn or a circle about seventy five yards across and almost perfectly round along the west side is a perpendicular ledge of rock. This place is about one and three fourths miles northwest of from what is now Fulton. Ye! young folks go out some day and visit "Old Fort Brown" . There were the two buildings; the branch that came down just before it emptied into the river, made a turn so that there was a large hollow seventy five yards across. After Marshal Little was killed in Fort Scott they pursued John Brown and his men to the place where Brown took his stand. They dug all around the circle at the top just so a man could stand so only his head and shoulders were exposed. I saw this for where Brown and his men were. There never was any battle but just across the river on what was later the Absolomn Miller place there was a real battle. There were two big houses about a hundred yards apart. Brown and O. P. Bain and their men were at one of these house with rails standing up around the open porch. The pro-slaves, about two hundred, were in the woods and at the other log house. Where we lived, just one half mile east, we heard the firing which lasted about thirty minutes when the invaders withdrew. They came to our place and one man was lying across his saddle. They wanted water for another man which was wounded. The house where Brown and Bain repelled the attack was called Fort Bain.
The cause of the civil war which is well known, was the strife over the "Slave Question", which we shall not discuss but merely give indication of some incidents which occurred during that period form '60 to '65. The year 1860 marked and extreme draught in Kansas, known for years as the draught of '60. Many settlers left the Osage, some never to return, but '61 ushered in a fine season and a splendid crop; yet it also brought the civil war which, was also a blessing to Kansas. Oh of course you will be shocked to here me say it but facts are facts. For as has been stated when Douglas's Bill passed the war was carried to Kansas and she suffered needless years of carnage and bloodshed before the civil war began. After Fort Sumpter was fired upon, Kansas had a rest and suffered very little while the war was raging in the east. In fact it was a marvelous period of prosperity for Kansas. Why? Because there was no general fighting in the states and yet the government kept many soldiers quartered along the eastern border men and their horses had to be fed, it created a market for farm produces, it also gave confidence to the people, so Kansas never had it so well before as she did in the war period. Now this is true in the general sense but there were two exceptions, the raid on Lawrence and the Price raid. When Quantrell assaulted Lawrence, his glory and gain was of consideration. The power of the strong arm of Uncle Sam hurled him back and out of the state. Then October 24, 1864, Gen. Sterling Price and Gen. Marmaduke after planning to capture Kansas City and then march up to the capital, etc., but listen, Uncle Samie wasn't asleep, he was on the job: he met Price as he was coming and as the cowboy says, but the branding irons on him. Then Price fled south down our Kansas border, entered the state somewhere near the old trading post, October 24, 1964 and went out just east of Fort Scott. Was in the state less than twenty-four hours, a short visit, only a call you might say and then dragged his beaten and demoralized army into the Ozarks of S. W. Missouri, never to be reorganized. There are many incidents which might be related, but I will chronicle a few minor events which are not tabulated in history. I will review these scenes not for personal vanities sake, but for the sake of those who come on stage later and many who live in the locality where these events transpired. Price and McCollough's arm of 145,000 as before stated, were moving toward Kansas City, when they were met by the Union forces, in all over 200,000, and driven southward. So that when they crossed the Kansas State line they were already beaten and on the run so they really did not have time to destroy as much property as they doubtless would have destroyed if they had been permitted to tarry.
As they were continuously fired upon from the rear as they fled, sometimes they would make a short stand to check the ensigncy of the union forces. They did this to protect their baggage trains which were drawn by mules and horses. And ever and anon, something went bad with team or wagon and as they had no time to repair them their only recourse was to the animals loose, set the wagon on fire, and flee. Yet much damage was done to that part of the state which fell within their broad trail. The path overrun was 5 to 7 miles wide. I will tax the patience of ye readers with only a short account of some of the events which transpired. The world knows from history who were behind Price. I will name only a few: General Curtis, Col. Jennison, Co. Blair, Col. Moonlight on the west [........] to below Barnesville, say 5 to 6 miles wide. On the sight of what is now Pleasanton, they were overtaken and a fight issued, the rear guards of the rebs trying to trying to hold back the oncoming troops. The battle ground reached from where Pleasanton stands up north to Mine Creek where above 50 men were killed near [.....] besides the scattering [....] Pleasanton was name for this victory. On south to the Little Osage, many dead here, and there, one or two. Now I will relate where I first saw this confederate army.
My father was in the Militia: my three brothers in the U. S. army. One had lately been brought home sick. My father came by our home only to tell us that Price was coming and he and his company were ordered to Fort Scott to help defend it as it was thought that Price might try to capture it. He just stopped long enough to tell us and then had to go on. Well, I was in my 15th year, had had no experience with war, but with the advice of my mother and sister, I took a span of very fine mares which we had and went about one half mile across the river and into what we called the big thicket. This is on the north side of the Mike Devereant farm, next to the river. Well, I rode as far as I could , then got off and led until I got way back next to the bluff and at a place that no one could scarce get through unless they were frightened. Now just as I left home I could see the Rebs coming over the hill where Kelley's now live. Well I got just as far as could get and into just as thick a corpse of brush; how I wished it was thicker. Well I tied the horses and went on a little farther, perhaps a hundred yards. Well I didn't have to wait long for the show, for the screen was up though. I didn't object to that, not me. Well soon I could hear shouts of men. Men crossing the river and turning to the right and to the left of where I was and making there way through the woods to the open prairie to the south. Now there was no regular river crossing there, it was just a riffle where stock could cross, it was about three quarters of a mile east to where wagons could get across. I think it was about half past ten when the fighting began. Volley after volley, and then later, well just like corn popping. I just thought, Oh! my, there will be thousands killed. "Scared?", no I wasn't scared. I was just demoralized. Now what I thought was, if I had only a hole real good and deep that I could crawl into and then pull the hole in after me then there might be some chance. But, well, I lived through it and about sundown when the noise and shooting had all stopped I slipped out of my hiding place. Now I had nothing to eat since early morn and you know how a boy feels who has had no dinner and no supper, well that's the way I felt. Well I started back up to the river, left the horses tied where they were. Now when I waded across the river and up the bank I saw a dead man I thought, but didn't stop to see and went on home. But before I got to the house I saw several men about the place feeding their horses, but they wore blue coats so ventured to go on home. The man who was killed there was Wm. Miller, our nearest neighbor. He was killed a few rods east of the south west corner of our place, which is now the Swanson place. Billie Miller, one of his grandsons, lives near Fulton yet. Well I went on to the house and was shocked to my brother sitting out on the porch wrapped in a blanket. Now he had been brought home a short time before, sick, very sick., we all thought he was going to die. Well he was so sick and looked so bad that the rebs thought it was not worthwhile to kill him, which I suppose that they would have done if they had known he was a U. S. Soldier, but he got better after that time. Well the place was all torn to pieces, the house was still standing and that was about all, about sixty acres of corn which we had in the shock all torn down, scattered out and eaten. You see they were all cavalry and their horses were hungry. The things in the house literally all gone, nothing to eat. We had to go out after night and dig some potatoes and roast them, then the union soldiers gave us some "hardtack". The bees, well there are some things amusing. We had 15 stands of bees and being the last of October, they were just ripe. So the rebs rushed them at the start. Well there was a fight and they smashed one hive and took the tops off two more, but that mad them mad and the bees came out to fight and they put those Johnies to flight. Oh! but those bees were mad. Why you couldn't go into that little peach orchard where they were for a week afterward. They didn't seem to know the home folks from the rebs.
The next day I went and brought the horses home from the thicket where I had left them. They were all O.K. There was another one of our neighbors, Mr. Andrew Stephens killed at Fort Lincoln in front of Mr. Green's store, shot down by the rebels when they first entered town. This was all our home people that were killed in our neighborhood, but many were taken prisoners and carried on till they made their escape. But of the rebels, they were scattered all along the trail from Pleasanton on south to where they veered off east into Missouri, just before they turned southeast. There were several bodies lying just where they fell just along out south of Fulton. When the soldiers came along burying them, I rode out and saw three buried just south and west of Fulton just on the south bank of where the road crosses Fish Creek. I was curious to know how they buried men under such circumstances. They just dug by the bodies and rolled them in just as they were. Well this army surged on down southeast into southwest Missouri, the last battle of any import was at Newtonia, Missouri where there were about 200 rebels killed and 500 prisoners taken. After this battle the army just dissolved, scattered, disappeared in the Ozarks of southwest Missouri, never to be reorganized.
I fear you are tired folks, |
So let's have a rest.
I'll present three wishes
And you decide, which is best.
First Wish ---
Just to be a child again at mothers knee,
Just to hear her sing the same old melody.
Just to hear her speak in loving sympathy;
Just to kiss her dear sweet lips again.
Just to have her fondle me with tender care,
Just to feel her deer soft fingers through my hair
There is no wish in this world that can compare,
Just to be a child again at mothers knee.
Second Wish ---
Just enough gold to keep me all my days,
Just enough with which some poor soul to save.
Just enough I wish to help me on my way.
Just enough to know I will never be poor again,
Just enough to drive away all sorrows and pain.
You may wish for many a thing but all in vain;
Give me what precious gold can buy.
Third Wish ---
Just to open my little cottage door.
Just to see my baby rolling on the floor,
Just to feel that I have something to adore,
Just to be home again.
Just to hear a sweet voice calling papa dear;
Just to know my darling wife is standing near.
You may have your gold, your lonely heart to cheer,
But give me baby, wife and home.
Now as to "Northern Invasion" that is where the armies of the south crossed over the "Mason Dixon Line" into the northern or free territory. There never was but two instances. One was Quantrel's Raid on Lawrence, Kansas, and the other was "Lee's Raid" into Pennsylvania. Shall only just mention but describe Quantrel sacked Lawrence in the night, but by daylight next morning had to fly to hot foot it out of the state. Lee with 340,000 men invaded Pennsylvania. 400,000 U.S. Soldiers converged to repel him. The world knows the result. A three days battle "The crisis of the War" "Gettysburg" was "Lee's Waterloo". The so called "Prices Raid" was not a raid. In fact it was a "run" and on the run he crossed the Kansas line near the old Trading Post, which is about 5 miles north east of Pleasanton, on the Maris des Cygne river. He went out of the state just southeast of Fort Scott, October 24, 1864, was in the state less than 24 hours. Well I am digressing again so I will drop back to my old boyhood stamping ground and review some other things and if some of the things come into view again let us hope it will be from a different angle. The old military crossed the Osage river at what was afterward called Fort Lincoln Now I have already told you of Fort Brown and Fort Bain and I am now going to tell you of Fort Lincoln. Just about one and one-forth miles west of those other two, three forts in with in a radius of one and one half miles. Ah, you say that must have been a war like country. Well here at this old crossing of the river in 1859 a man by the name of Jewel built a dam just under where the bridge was later built and put in a water mill. My father helped him build this mill and start it. Now I was a boy you know and went almost everywhere that dad went. So I was there the day the started that mill. But the Mill was not destined to continue long, only for a year or two. It was here that Fort Lincoln was established to stop the marauders. In 1861 when the war came up there was a stage line established from Fort Scott to Fort Leavenworth, with relays every 10 or 12 miles, that is, stables where they kept horses and changed often so that they might drive fast, which they did, and never walked up unless just going up some steep short hill. Trot trot, all day and all the way to the end of the stage line. Oh, but we thought that was wonderful "speeding" and it was for that slow age. Now just one man drove the stage through and back for a long time and his name was Dan, Dan the stage driver. Some old timers will remember him. Now later on the line ran another by night, just the same as the day stage, four horses, and a little later the stretched a wire from Leavenworth to Fort Scott and the people cried "Telegraph, well, well, what next.!" Now this was the first railroad in Kansas (minus the rails) and just think of it , it was a government railroad supported and maintained by the U. S, so the result was a line of towns every 10 or 12 miles and a there had to be stables and feed for the horses and a man hired to take care of the horses and [.....] didn't stop long) and as the traveling public had to be fed on their journeys, it gave rise to eating shacks etc., now this all helped to build up this line of towns. Of course many of them after real railroads came in were moved to a permanent railroad town as Fort Lincoln was moved to (Osage) afterward Fulton. Now I will name only a few who did business in the town before the war and after the war up to 1869. George B. Hopkins, I think was one of the first who conducted a general store, also a Chester Jewell, W. W. Green, and M. A. Stapleton. Most of these were there during the war and for some time afterward. These men I think, except George Hopkins removed to Fulton in 1869 where the Kansas City, Fort Scott and Smith And John Knowls, Joshia Gulf railroad was built through to Fort Scott, but I must go back and say something more about Fort Lincoln. Next time you pass through old Fort Lincoln in your "limousine" and cross the river (I am presupposing they have a bridge now) if not you can cross like we used to cross. Well, when your there look around and imagine what it would look like with 100,000 soldiers quartered there. Oh you will say he is wild, he's daffy. Nevertheless such is the fact and as many as two or three to five hundred ... prisoners. Well ask some old timers. I have been there when it was said there were that many and frequently they were up to 80,000. Yes they built a fort there, two large block houses about 40 by 120 feet, also a commissary. Those block houses were made of logs hewed square. The logs were about two feet square and just laid upon another. These block houses were after the war removed to Fort Scott. Then the regular fort enclosing 3 to 4 acres embankments of earth about 4 or 5 feet high with a great ditch just on the outside with heavy gates and draw-bridges. The soldiers camps extended out north to the old Campbell place, then west out to the old cemetery and that one time when so many were there, there camp extended all the way to Elk Creek and some south of the river. Now I was there and one time it was given out that there were a 100,000 camped in and around Fort Lincoln. Well like many forts it is passed away and it is to be hoped never rebuilt. Well about the close of the war there was a little bridge built across the river just on the site of the old Jewell mill, which had been torn away and just on the south bank of the river and perhaps 150 yards south of the bridge there was a school house built, the first in the north part of the country. Of course it was called the Fort Lincoln school house. It was there I attended my first school, except some subscription schools, and you will kindly pardon me if I name some of those early day teachers. I will name them in the order in which they taught: Mrs. Mary Metcalf, Mr. D. B. Jackman, Mrs. M. A. Stapleton, Mr. Deardorff, Mr. Cap. Bell, Miss Melinda Chaney, Mr. Wasson. Afterward the school house was moved one mile south where ye "Hon Pedigogue" taught the second school that was taught in it after being moved.
Well, Now I've started something. I did not intend to say much about myself, but as I have started I'll say a little more. Then I know some of ye Old Timers will know who it is that's been dishing up the hash. Yes, I taught "Garfield" school about one mile from our old home, four years straight along. Well I just don't see how they stood it, but they did, then I taught one year up by Mound City in 4 miles of Mound City. After this, I removed to Greenwood county Kansas, where I taught 7 years. The first Year as principle of Piedmont Schools. After this I taught in Independence Kansas, and my last year at Baxter Springs, Kansas. But the first school I ever taught was down on Yellow Point west of Fort Scott in the same vicinity where Eugene H. Ware "The Point Creek Poet" spent some of his boyhood days. It was in the McCallister neighborhood and I see Will McCallister's name frequently in the Fort Scott Tribune and I am led to wonder if he is the son of Jessie McCallister and the brother of "Louie". If so, how glad I should be to meet him again, Willie and Louie both came to school when I taught. Well now I have been talking to the people of Fort Lincoln and Fulton so long that I expect that they will be glad of a rest. So I may say a few things about some folks in Fort Scott and vicinity. As I have already named Eugene Ware, I will say a little more. I wish I could convey to your minds a little of the emotions of honor and respect which I have felt for the memory of that noble man, a character so lofty giving out to all about him, an inspiration of loyalty, encouragement and good will to all with whom he came in contact.
I attended the Centennial Celebration held at Fort Scott July 4, 1876. At this time and place it will be remembered Mr. Ware delivered his "Corn Poem" which I have ever since I heard it that day, regarded it as a masterpiece. Of course, it would be taking up too much space to recite the entire poem but I will give the opening prelude.
Our Presidents and governors have said|
In proclamations that we all have read,
That we, the record of the past hundred years
Should hear in public, wishing to obey.
We have met together on the present day
As local annals and such themes as those
Are more attractive when addressed in prose
And as the dense statistics of the times
Are somewhat irreducible to rhymes,
We leave those subjects to their charge
And take the liberty to roam at large.
Nat Price of Troy in K. C. last June,
Told of a backwoods Arkansas Saloon.
Two gay commercial tourists somewhat dry
Stepped in for drinks as they were passing by.
One said some lemon in my tumbler squeeze
The other said, some sugar in mine if you please.
You'll take her straight the bar keep said.
The commercial tourists bowed to their fate
Took their drinks and exists straight.
The humble poem that we begin
Has got no lemon and no sugar in
Its as it is and we beg to state
That we hope ladies and gentlemen
on this "auspicious occasion"
You'll take it straight.
There have been men who into verse complete
Could rhyme a township map or tax receipt
But no such man is here today
Must treat of subjects in a general way.
Dates, names, statistics and such themes as those
Must go remanded to the realms of prose.
So here our humble poem we commence
Equivalent to corn at twenty cents.
(20 cents was the price of a bushel of corn)
Well, that all I have space for, but I would be glad to give you the entire poem, it's good, so good that I suggest you get the book entitled "Poems by Eugene F. Ware". A few more words about Mr. Ware. I knew him when he first came from Point Creek to Fort Scott and took a position in the law office of H. C. McComas and McKeighan, as office boy where he remained several years, but took up the study of law and after while had an office of his own. It will be remembered by some that Judge McComas and his wife made a trip to Denver, Colorado, and from there started to go on down to New Mexico to see his brother who lived there and was Governor of the territory at that time and as there was no railroad farther than Denver he and his wife and little son, Charley, started to drive through to Santa Fe but were attacked by the "Apache Indians" and both killed, the little boy was never found, their bodies left on the prairie. Eugene Wares went down there and brought the bodies back to Fort Scott for burial. I was there when he returned and with many others viewed the sad cortege. Ware was a son-in-law of Judge McComas.
As before stated, Fort Scott was founded, some say in 1827, others say 1828, but all the same the city is nearly one hundred years old. Now pardon me folks for giving out the age of your city, but the first quarter of a century it stood merely as a government post, just a group of shacks and rude buildings on the point of a hill afterward called the government Plaza. I have been in Fort Scott in the fifties when there was no bridge over the Marmonton, not one square yard of brick or cement paving, and very few sidewalks in town. ('58-'59) The lumber of which the first houses were built was hauled on wagons, mostly from West Port, now Kansas City, some was obtained from other Missouri towns, but all by the same method, the ox wagon or mule team. Now Girard, at first called Crawfordsville, the next county seat was founded 45 years later than Fort Scott or in 1869, Pittsburg in 1872, but to return I lived in Fort Scott '80-'81, about the time the South [......] Normal was opened under Professors J. C. Scott and D. E. Sanders. My "Alma Mater" was "Lane University" Lecompton, Kansas. I could name many with who I was personally acquainted, but will restrict myself to just a few, B. P. McDonald, C. F. Drake, Chas Goodlander, Leon and Leipman, Dr. Miller of the Miller Block, C. F. Miller, his son is still there in business. By the way, I will just name one little trip which Dr. Miller and my father made together to Topeka in the old time stage coach. They were both representatives in the legislator of Kansas the year Carney was elected Governor. Carney and Jim Lane were candidates of Governor. I those territorial days the governor was elected by the Legislature. Carny was elected and Lane took his defeat so seriously that he killed himself shortly afterward. Yes, I knew Dr and Mrs. S. P Miller and son Charles, they owned a large farm north of town, also owned the Miller Block, and I may say that a more honorable, noble and upright family I have never known. Now just across the street from the Miller Block was the old "Wilder House" and just across north , the Davidson Opera House. Now I was there when it was being built, was present a short time after it was dedicated at a great occasion which was given there. I am sure many of the Fort Scott Folks will remember it. Such a noted and distinguished speaker who gave the Oration, "Henry Ward Beecher" his subject was "The Waste of Human Energy and the Remedy". I may say that I have now words to portray my conception of this wonderful message. Oh, that there were men in our world today like Beecher, men with brains and thoughts and a tongue to express those thoughts. His aged wife sat on the stage near him while he delivered the address. J. H. Lawhead and J. J. Peasly, both of these two last men filled the office, both of county superintendent and county surveyor. Lawhead taught the Fulton school when he first came to the state and was elected county superintendent while living in Fulton. For many years I knew the county officiary of Bourbon county but will only add one more name, your worthy and honorable Judge E. C. Gates. I knew him when he was just a grown up boy, taught his first school near Fulton and as far as I know, gave eminent satisfaction, but I must refrain from telling about all those I have known. Well its just as big a task for one thing and for another thing I might tell something that someone would rather was untold and then they might cast me out of the synagogue. I might name scores, , yea hundreds, but lest I should tax your patience too much, will name one more, your worthy Postmaster, Oscar Burcham, know him well. He attended Garfield School four years straight and I was his teacher. No he never was unsized, he didn't need it., he was always a noble boy and a good student, always up with his work. I don't know if he has his grades yet, if he has he may just tack this on. I want to say of the may folks I have known in Fort Scott that I have found them a true, noble and upright people, folks who entertain broad views who believe in giving aid and assistance to the greater uplift of humanity. They evidently believe in the Maxim "That he who doeth good to another hath done himself a favor". So now folks let me say goodbye with a few lines which the writing of these memories have suggested.
Of men and times in all the climes,|
Of our world as she moves today,
We are looking on as she jogs along,
And we can think of but little to say.
But sometimes we feel the glad appeal,
As it comes to our hearts o'er and o'er
And we're constrained to cry out
With a prayer and a shout
God hasten an end of all wars.
I named "West Port" as a Kansas town which really it never was, but a Missouri port. Now after it had grown very much it's name was changed to Kansas City, Missouri. Now this wasn't fair to have Kansas City in Missouri so Kansas just pulled a such a large piece of it over into Kansas. Indeed such a large piece that it now forms the Metropolis of Kansas.
Merrimac and the Monitor|
Was down at Fort Monroe,
There the rebels struck a blow,
Which caused a grand commotion
Thru the land you know.
But they wished they'd stayed at home,
And left their Yankee friends alone
Are the dandy oh.
Now the rebel Merrimac,
With others at her back,
Commanded by Buchanan,
The old Grannie Oh,
From Norfolk started out,
To try to put to route
And capture little
Yankee doodle dandy oh.
The rebel shot flew hot
But the Yankees answered not
Till they got within the distance
They called handy oh.
Then said Ward unto his crew,
Now boys try what you can do.
If we take that Iron rebel,
We're the dandy oh.
So the little Monitor
O'er Iron hail did pour,
Which made the Merrimac
Squeal like a gander oh.
Then cried the rebels were undone.
Boys I guess we'll have to run
For they've got and iron Yankee
Doodle Doodle there.
Now the rebel Merrimac
Has been blown to falahack,
So we'll give three rousing cheers,
So neat and handy oh,
And then we'll give three more
For the gallant Monitor,
And three we'll give for
Yankee doodle dandy oh.
Oh that some Silvan Sonnet of praise,
Might issue from my anxious heart,
A celestus beaming through all my days,
Like Aeolian music from golden harp.
The truth - the wonderful truth to tell,
To all who might harken and heed,
Of him who doeth all things well,
And hath so much for the world's great need.
To help some poor needy soul,
Walking this shadowy vale of tears,
To take courage, look up and behold,
The work that is moving through all these years.
Yes, I would shed one the ..ing,
Of hope for the needy ones cast down
That might help their troubled souls to say,
Give me strength and grace to fight for a crown,
Oh for a vision of radiant glory,
To shine in earth's darkest domain
That those in trouble might hear the glad story,
The triumphs of him to Bethlehem came.
Yes true to the idea of man's weakness and failure,
To rise to the summit of holy desire,
To be what we should be in worthy behavior,
And all to great tasks of life to aspire.
Of something within us to prompt and guide us,
And lead us to deed of virtue and praise,
And good will and good ways should go together,
And triumph through life to the end of our days.
Oh that our lives might reflect something sacred,
Some uplifting unction both useful and true,
That into life's book we might trace its pages,
Mans greatest renown "That we have been true"
True to ourselves, and true to our brother,
Nothing outshines or outlives our good will,
Giving and granting and helping each other
To meet the conditions that all must fulfill.
This poem as well as the others appearing in former reading are all original.
To thine ownself be true and it doth follow as the night the day; thou canst not then be false to any man.
R. C. Stone the Osage Muse
In closing this reminiscence I wish to add a word of gratitude and appreciation to the editors and managers of the "Observer Enterprise"; also to the "Fulton News" for their kindness and liberality which have rendered this publication possible. I wish further to express my most ardent hopes, that all persons whose names have been used may kindly excercise a fair degree of tolerance toward the writer for the liberties he has taken. Assuring each and all that without prejudice, but with good will to all, I have tried to lift the veil of the past and bring a little light on some forgotten events. May it be received in the spirit which it was given out is the most sincere desire of your humble correspondent.
R. C. Stone