For about two months in the winter of 1899-1900, I visited with the family of my son Joseph, in Washington, D. C., and enjoyed the trip very much.
In 1901 and the summer of 1902, I did some work in an effort to secure persons for the "Homeseekers" Excursions, on the "Rock Island" to Southern Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. I made several trips which afforded me an opportunity of seeing these countries at very little expense, with no financial profit to me.
But it gave me something to do, the time was well spent.
In August, 1900, I went with Fred and family, and several others friends, to Colorado. We had a large tent, and camped out for nearly six weeks. We camped on the Ruxton Creek, about one-fourth mile up it from Iron Ute Springs, but there is a great change--the surroundings new, as compared with twenty years ago. The old peak is there much the same, also other mountains and canyons, but Manitou has made great changes, and Cog Railway is running to the top of the peak.
I visited all the places of interest, seen twenty years before, but I desired to walk to the top again, so one evening I started in company with my granddaughter, Mary, and Homer and Mabel Crawford friends from Washington, Iowa, all born since I had made the trip first 1880.
We started at eight P.M. with the purpose of reaching the summit before sunrise. On reaching a point about half way up, about two miles beyond which was known as "Half-Way House", we fell in with a gentleman and his wife, and two young ladies, with whom we kept in company for most part of the way to the top, which we reached just as the sun began to climb the eastern sky. During the night we had kept up a slow but steady gait, stopping about midnight to make a cup of coffee and to eat our lunch.
We had some rain on the way. On reaching the summit, my hat rim was frozen, as was also my beard icy. I sat quite exhausted, and exclaimed, "Glory Hallelujah."
I was congratulated by the man running the restaurant as the oldest man he had known to make the ascent on foot.
We went into the house, and had a cup of hot, strong coffee, and soon felt refreshed, when, after a couple of hours spent in looking at the wondrous views presented to our visions, we started on our return, reaching camp about 4:00 PM. We were camped close to the line of the Cog Road, and we walked upon its tracks on our trip.
The winters of 1901 and 1902, I spent at Washington, D. C., with my son Joe and his family. My business in Washington was an effort to induce Congress to provide for the payment of a claim made by former registrars and receivers of land offices in Kansas, for the sale of the Osage Indian Lands. My brother Samuel was with me part of both winters, and we finally succeeded in securing an act of Congress referring these claims for adjudication to the Court of Claims.
These claims arose from the sales made of these lands, from the time I was in office, 1869 to 1871, to the present time, and the amount of claim in the aggregate in about $150,000.00 dollars.
Suit for my own claim was filed in the court, March 20, 1903 and is now pending.
Again, in August 1903, with my son, Fred, family and others, numbering about twenty in all, including my brother Samuel, his wife and daughters, Hattie and Effie, I made a trip to Colorado. This time we pitched our tents in North Cheyenne Canyon, about nine miles up the route of the Shortline Railroad, from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek.
Location was ideal, within easy distance of all points of interest in and around Colorado Springs, and Manitou, all of which scenery had become familiar to me, but none the less interesting.
I made the trip over the Midland, as far as twin lakes, within eighteen miles to Leadville, and over the shortline to Cripple Creek.
The scenery along both routes must be seen to be appreciated. It is charming and picturesque beyond my ability to describe.
About a month was spent in a most enjoyable way when we returned home. On this trip, I did not essay to climb Pikes Peak, but nine of our party made the ascent one night.
And now I am drawing near the close of my sketch, possibly, near that of my life. I have endeavored to confine my narrative to my early life, and more especially, to my pioneer life and the frontier settlement of Kansas, passing lightly over my later life.
I am now passing my declining years at the quiet home of my son. Making frequent visits with the families of my sons and other friends in Washington, D. C. and St. Louis, South McAllister, and Kansas and Kansas City.
One son, Frank, is in California. Should 1 live, I hope to be with him ere long.
Sometimes, when in a reminiscent mood, I look back over the period of my life, contemplate all the improvements that have been made in all departments of life, within my own memory.
I wonder if it is possible that a like advance will be made during the present century.
I think that I never saw a railroad before I was twenty years old. We traveled by stagecoach, and in the part of Ohio where I lived, we had the canal built from Cincinnati to Toledo when I was about fourteen years of age. I rode on the first boat making a trip on that canal from Troy to Piqua, in 1840.
The steamboats were in use on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, but I never saw one before I was twenty years of age. There were no ocean steamers, and a trip from New York to Liverpool required about five or six weeks time.
It took a week or two to get mail from Eastern coast cities, and news from Europe was nearly two months in reaching us.
A letter coming five hundred miles or more cost twenty-five cents postage.
We had no telegraph. I was seventeen years old when the first telegraph message was sent, over a line from Washington to Baltimore in 1844.
The honor of formulating the message was accorded Miss Ellsworth daughter of the then commissioner of the patents, H. L. Ellsworth, of whom in after years, in Lafayette, Indiana, his home, I became well acquainted; also knew the daughter by sight. This was the message:
"What hath God wrought?"
Telephone communication, and all the present uses of electricity came in later.
Of course, we had no electric lights, and in only the larger cities were gas lights used.
During all my earlier years, we used tallow and lard lamps in our homes.
Churches, and public halls, were lighted with candles. The usual way of announcing a night meeting was to say: "Meeting at early candle lighting." Kerosene oil had not then been discovered, we had no matches with which to light the candles or with which to start fires. If we let the fire go out, we had to go to the neighbors for fire, or use the flint and steel to strike a spark.
In my early days, there were no cook stoves. Cooking was done over an open fire in an open fireplace. Our folks bought the first cook stove that I ever saw. When I was about ten years old, and it was the wonder and envy of the entire neighborhood.
There were but few manufacturers in the country, of any kind. We shipped to England our cotton and surplus wool, and brought back the manufactured goods. But our women for the most part, spun the wool and flax and wove it into cloth, from which the clothing for the family was made, as also were blankets and sheets.
The hides of our cattle were tanned in some nearby tannery, and our boots and shoes were made by the village shoemaker.
Very great improvement has been made during our lives, adding largely to the convenience, comfort and luxury of life.
I believe we have also made equal advances in religion, and spiritual life, as well as morals.
Now, after "looking backward" and seeing the wonderful progress made up to the present time, what may we expect as to the future?
Will the world make equally great advances during the next century? I think that we may reasonably expect even greater.
We have only made, advances in material things, as we have learned more of Natures laws, and have adjusted our lives in conformity to the same.
I think it not unreasonable to predict that in the future, as mankind becomes better informed as to the laws that govern the universe, of which we are citizens, they may be able to control the forces of Nature as to devastating floods, so far controlling the rainfall as to bring it within the requisites of the growth of vegetation.
In the understanding of Natures laws, we are able to transmit messages through space, and it is claimed by some scientists that thought may be communicated from one person to another, without reference to distance.
Aerial navigation is measurably a success, and will, I DOUBT not, soon be in general use.
Is it visionary to think it possible that, as man becomes better acquainted with the laws governing the universe, he may be able to converse with inhabitants, if any there are, of other worlds? May we not, at least hold communication with inhabitants of sister planets, revolving around a common center.
I think we can scarcely predict too much for the advancement of our race.
We have made great progress in material things, and are now entering upon a period of great spiritual advancement.
I feel sure that many of the inequalities now existing in society, will be remedied; and our entire competitive worldliness will be superceded by some equitable system of righteousness, and, sometime all will come to recognize the divinity of God and the brotherhood of men.