"WENT TO KANSAS" by Miriam D. Colt



Here is an Eden garden land,
Where nature, with a profuse hand
Has clustered beauties rich and fair,
That will with fairy land compare.

Shall free-men stand upon her soil
And elevate the true man's toil?
Or chains that clank, and fetters dark
Crush down that pure and noble spark?

The clash of arms is on the air --
The soil is wet with bloody gore --
O God, behold in power and might!
Defend the true -- protect the right!

       JUNE 14TH. -- The disappointment in the company, the unsettled state of the Territory, the distance from my own native land, and premonitions of greater trouble, all combine to make me sad and sorrowful in this far-off land. My Willie saw me weeping today; he asked, "What ails mamma?" I told him, "Mamma wants to go back to her old home." He then said, "Mamma, ain't the flowers pretty?" Sweet child! he is happy among the flowers, and thinks his mamma need not feel bad where there are so many pretty flowers.

       My two precious children have not made the least complaint about hard fare, or even asked why they do not have the comforts they have been used to having. They have their tin cups filled with bouquets of fresh flowers every day. Innocent and trusting childhood; sipping enjoyment like bees, wherever it can be found.

       Mr. Buxton has returned from Kansas City, where he went after Mr. Stewart's household goods. While passing Westport, the northern invaders came upon him, took his horses from his wagon, and were proceeding to examine his boxes of goods, expecting to find Sharp's rifles. He was obliged to flee for his life, leaving wagon and goods to the mercy of Border Ruffianism. He had letters for members of the community, which he dared not keep about his person -- tore them up and threw them away -- putting the money into his boots which had been sent by different members to purchase articles that could not be found in Kansas City -- took a round-about way, and has now arrived safely in the Settlement.

       No papers are allowed to come into the Territory. We hear that the merciless mob have sacked the new city of Lawrence, and destroyed the fast growing town of Osawatomie -- entering houses, taking and destroying everything that came in their way, demanding rings from women's fingers, and jewels from their ears! They are threatning destruction to this small Settlement. We keep our trunks packed and locked, and I am made treasurer of funds and valuables, which I keep secreted about my person. We lie down in fear at night, and rise in the morning expecting to see the mob approaching.

       May Heaven grant that after all the trials and fears of a pioneer life which we are striving to live above, we may not fall into the hands of a Border Ruffian, drunken, ruthless mob.

       Mr. V. has mown some prairie grass, and we have filled our straw ticks with it; find it an improvement in our dormitory. I am obliged to make my bed up crosswise of the tick, to give four of us a chance. It makes the bed plenty long enough for the children, but my husband and I have some difficulty in lodging our extremities. Mrs. V. and myself have the arrangement of the loft all to ourselves, now that Dr. House and Mr. Sober are gone. The two wagon boards are given to sister L. to improve her lodgings. Her boards are supported by trunks, leaving them free in the middle for quite a spring.

       JUNE 15TH. -- Church at Mr. Clubb's. This is a bright, lovely, quiet Sabbath day; surely, a Sabbath serenity is diffused over all. All nature is silently praising the Divine Upholder; and shall we not praise Him too? though with a saddened tone. The air is sweet and pure now, and a mild breeze is blowing from the southwest. Others have written of a vitality in the atmosphere of Kansas that is truly wonderful, "it breathes new life around, and vigor and buoyancy is felt coming back to old limbs." My health has not been so good for years, as since I have been in the Territory; my headaches have lost the greater share of their severity, and I feel equal for any task. I never was so thin in flesh, and never felt such agility.

       The fever and ague has been called by some, the "emigrant's bug-bear," by others, the "real bear." But no bears of that kind come growling around us yet. May we be spared, also, from it's fever and ague shaking powers.

       We have sunsets now that will do to look upon. The large, crimsoned, wheel-like sun approaches the horizon leaving not a cloud to be goldened; but the whole western sky is enriched with his hue, until he is swallowed up without twilight in the depths beyond where the tall grass keeps waving, and night shuts out the splendid view.

       Kansas moons have been described as equaling Italy's moons in loveliness. What Italy's moons are I know not by experience, but the moons here are lovely far beyond describing words. The "pale Empress of night" floats up into the blue sky studded with golden gems, with her milky drapery on, bending the zenith almost down with her pure robes. The gentle acclivity, the slowly declining prairie swell, the deep ravine, the white arms of the Sycamore, the drooping willow, the dry oak, the rich flowers and pearly dew, all reflect with angel purity her soft, mellow, and fleecy light. Who can look on scenes like these, without being bathed to the pririts ???? care with a feeling of holy adoration and ardent prayer to God?

"In the walks of life, wherever
They may lead, tho' dark or fair --
In the forest, on the highway,
Ever keep a heart of prayer;
Thou wilt find it a consoling,
All-sustaining guardian here --
'Tis the master-key of Heaven!
Pure, confiding, ardent prayer."

       JUNE 16TH. -- What are we to look for, and what feat next? the mosquitoes have come upon us all of a sudden. They troubled us very much at the creek to-day while washing. After washing, Mrs. V and myself went down the creek into the embowered bottom lands to refresh ourselves with a bathe, and the mosquitos came in such swarms upon us that we thought they would carry us off by tit-bits before we could protect ourselves with our clothing. I don't see for my part where Max Green kept himself in this country, when he says, (speaking of mosquitoes,) "And away from Kansas river there are none -- none, at all events, that ever presented their bills to me." From the high idea I have formed of him, I certainly can't think him wanting in favor. Our bed being short, in the night they have a good chance to nibble away at our protruding entremities. I lie awake -- I can't sleep for their music and the pain and inflammation caused by their bites. I try to keep my children covered, so they won't eat them all up before morning. As for my self, I get so infuriated that I get up, descend the ladder, make my way out into the wet grass upon the run, not minding what reptiles may be under my bare feet; I then return from my dewy bath, lie down and try to sleep, but it is almost in vain.

       JUNE 17TH. -- The soil of rich layers of vegetable mould, is throwing up the rows of dark green blades of corn. Or cornfield of six acres looks promising, as do all the cornfields around. Pumpkins, squashes, melons, cucumbers, beans, pease, potatoes, and tomatoes are thriving finely. The next work our settlers will find to do, will be fencing cornfields, splitting rails, cutting poles, and drawing them from the bottom lands to do it with. Mr. Clubb intends to commence his house soon, which is to be built of the soft stone, that is found here, that can be cut in any shape, and hardens on exposure to the air. He has a fine site for his house on one of the prairie billows, a little out from the timber, where dame nature has lined his avenues with spreading oaks, arched his gateways with hickory and vines, and clumped around his (airy) dwelling, the sweet walnut, wild rose, and many a floral gem.

       There are endless beds of coal in this region, underlying the soil, cropping out here and there, assuring the squater sovereign that he need not go cold in winter, if he will just dig for coal.

       The lime-stone too, heaves out into ledges on the ridges, speaking in a natural language, that though there is a scarcity of timber in this beautiful country, nature has provided many a substitute -- and that with the soft building stone, and plenty of mortar, nice and comfortable houses can be built.

       JUNE 21ST. -- Baking day, and hominy pudding day come here every day, so that a great share of my time is spent in the large kitchen. I tended the boiling hominy, and baked a good Johnny-cake this forenoon. Now one of my white loaves is out of the Dutch over, and the other is baking; it will soon be done. The old people think the fare here is hard, and so it is, for them -- they don't want to eat anything made of corn; and where we shall get the next flour, I know not; it will be very high, wherever we find it.

       I live entirely on food made of corn -- hominy and milk and Johnny-cake and milk -- and try to persuade the children to, leaving the wheat bread for grand-ma and grand-pa. To-day, at dinner, I told Willie mamma had got some good Johnny-cake, and asked him to have some in his milk. He said, "Willie rather have white bread;" and the little fellow will eat it clear, ???? and relish it much better than children with pampered appetites do their round of goodies. O! come all you children who have partaken of your good things, until they are lying in waste around you -- come and behold my darling boy, sitting on his little round log, for want of a chair, smacking his lips over a piece of white bread, and learn the real value there is in a piece of white bread!

       As far as diet is concerned, the simple diet I get here agrees with my system well, and what shall I eat? is the least of all that troubles me; but to see the old people wanting for comforts they have been accustomed to, and fear that I may see them all doing with still less comforts, touches a chord in my heart of feeling.

       JUNE 22D. -- My husband and self have been spending some of the hours of this Sabbath-day in writing to our good friends away in the northern land. We have given them a description of this "fairy land;" though we would not trouble them with any disclosures of disappointments, etc; for we mean to live above and outgrow them, make us a home in this sunny south, garlanded with vines, embossed around with many flowers, and wearing the halo of true and loving hearts. Have received a letter from St. Louis, stating that our household goods have arrived in that place; my husband feels very anxious now to get his cabin built, so as to go to Kansas City for them, when they shall have arrived there. We are wanting, now, the bushel of dried apple our boxes contain, and the children are wishing they had some of "mamma's dried berries." Have been to the spring with my husband for water; our spring is getting ! ???? dry, as are all the springs near here; we must then go to the creek for water. While returning from the spring, we set down our pails, and amused ourselves with the grasshoppers. I thought of the riddle I used to read in my little primer,

"Long legs laughless,
Come up to the door staffless,
More afraid of cock and hen,
Than of dog and twenty men."

       I never saw so many kinds and sizes of grasshoppers as I see in this land, from hopping to flying; some small, some two or three inches in length, and looking more like pieces of the stalk of prairie grass, with their green thread-like legs hopping about, than anything else; and so they are from that size up to the size of a decent frog; I can easily understand now, how it is that the Indians are said to live sometimes on grasshoppers, for one would make a good mouthful, after being skinned and hung up.

       It is rumored this evening that one of the Ohio men has had a fit of the fever and ague to-day. Hope it may not be so.

       The children ask permission to go a little way from the cabin, to get what they call pieces of yellow paper; upon reaching them, find they are large yellow evening primroses, just bursting at this evening hour into bloom. They grow on a stalk much lower than those we cultivate at home, but the flower is as large as a hollyhock.

When once the sun sinks in the west,
And dew-drops pearl the evening's breast;
Almost as pale as moonbeams are,
Or its companionable star,
The evening primrose opes anew
Its delicate blossoms to the dew;
And, hermit-like, shunning the light,
Wastes its fair bloom upon the night."

       June 23D. -- Father and my husband have been off east upon Big Creek, looking claims. No one about here knows of the untaken claims there. They say that when settlers come in this fall, they will sell their land here, and take claims there. My husband says, "The scenery is lovely, far surpassing the scenery here on the Neosho. It is higher, and the prospect more beautiful -- the water is clear, and the creek never dry" -- and that he will write to some of our northern friends to come and settle beside up.

       We have been giving attention to the description of Big Creek -- but now, at the commencement of this lovely eve, we are sitting about our cabin door -- grand-pa and grand-ma seated on the high threshhold, the rest of us on stones -- Willie climbing on to his papa's lap -- Mema stands by my side -- all listening to the song of one lone whippowil, ???? which comes up from some shady dell by the river's side. The thousands of frogs now break in with their melodies, from the soprano peeper, up to the bass "grout" -- and here, too, come swarms of mosquitoes about our ears, with their "cousining" chorus, which we are trying to drive away with smoke.

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