William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 10] [part 8] [Cutler's History]


L. J. McGOWEN, farmer, P. O. Seneca, was born in 1833, in Somerset, Ohio. He lived there until 1855, when he came west to St. Joseph, met John Rhine, City Engineer, and with him proceeded to Nemaha County, and surveyed the plat of Richmond. By trading a $7 shot-gun; be secured the 160 acres, now the farm of Hon. D. R. Magill. This he exchanged with William Berry for 160 acres, eighty of it now of his present farm. Berry and himself were at this time the only settlers north of Richmond. In 1860 and 1861, Mr. McGowen was in Colorado; returning he enlisted in the Second Missouri, Federal, and was wounded in the arm at the battle of Independence. After a year in the Kansas City hospital, he returned to Seneca and raised a company for the Kansas State Militia, and as its Captain took part against the rebel Price in the final operations of 1865, and in the Indian raid up the Republican Valley. In 1868 he began the mercantile business in Seneca; built his stone store in 1872, and quit business in 1880, and retired to his old farm just south of Seneca. Mr. McGowen is a Republican in politics, and one of the most respected of the pioneer settlers of Kansas. He married Miss Hattie Oliver, a native of Monmouth, Ill. They have two children - William and Bird.

D. B. McKAY, M. D., proprietor of the 'Post-office drug store.' Dr. McKay was born in Attica, Wyoming Co., N. Y., February 27, 1824. His father, Silas McKay, was a blacksmith, a native of Connecticut, and of Scotch descent. He married Sallie Galloway, a native of Newark, N. J., and a daughter of a Scotchman. D. B. McKay received a common school education, and began the study of medicine with Dr. L. Goldsborough, of Waverly N. Y. He graduated from the medical college in Buffalo, in 1853, and began practice in Greenbush, Ill. He removed to Wisconsin and practiced three and a half years. The Doctor then spent a year in Iowa, and he was in active practice for six years. He began the drug business in 1864. He was appointed postmaster of Seneca in 1865, and held the office ten years. In 1870 he formed a partnership with Edward Butt, and began business in his present store, well known throughout the county as the 'Post-office Drug Store.' The partnership was dissolved on the election of Butt as County Treasurer. The Doctor was married in Greenbush, Ill., July 21, 1853, to Rebecca A. Chambers, of Mason County, Ky. They have one living child - Ellen, now Mrs. Frank Greenwood, the manager of the drug store. The Doctor was prominent in founding the Universalist church of Seneca; is a Republican of the Free-soil antecedents. He is now enjoying the comforts of an elegant home erected in 1881; this home overshadowing the humbler one in which they spent twenty-three years of active life in Kansas.

HON. D. R. MAGILL, farmer, P. O. Seneca, is a son of D. P. Magill, who settled with a large family in Capioma Township in 1856, and died there in 1866. D. R. Magill was born September 11, 1843, in Platte County, Mo.; came to Nemaha County with his father, and in due time began farming on his own account; was elected County Sheriff in 1871, and again in 1873; was a member of the Legislature in 1876, and in 1880 sold his Capioma farm, and settled where he now is, one and a half miles south of Seneca. Has 160 acres with good improvements. Mr. Magill married in Seneca, Mary E., daughter of Capt. A. W. Williams. They have two sons - Elwin A. and Charles Guy, both born in Nemaha County, Kan.

JAMES MARTIN, retired farmer is a native of Columbiana County, Ohio, born in 1825. He was reared there a farmer and stock-grower, and from 1851-'55 was Sheriff of his native county. Was engaged for several years in the stock business in Henry County, Ill., and then came to Kansas, locating in Capioma Township, where he still owns a valuable farm of 160 acres. As a Democrat he was elected County Sheriff in 1877, and defeated by just twenty-seven votes by his Republican opponent in 1879. Since 1878, he has resided with his family in Seneca. Mr. Martin is well known in his county as an auctioneer, which business he began thirty years ago, and has sold at least nine-tenths of the live stock 'auctioned off' since he located in Nemaha County.

N. H. MARTIN, lumber dealer. was born July 16, 1848, in Calais, Me., and reared In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where his father, James Martin, still lives. At sixteen he enlisted in the Forty-sixth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and served during 1864-'65 in the Civil War. In 1807 be began railroad life as a brakeman on the B. C. R., & M. R. R.; ran a freight train as conductor for about five years, then a passenger train until 1879, when be resigned, married, and came West. Began at Seneca as a dealer in agricultural implements. In 1881 opened his present lumber business. His wife was Sarah McElwaine, a native of Wales, N. Y. Mr. Martin is a prominent Free Mason, presiding officer of the Fire Department, member of A. O. U. W., and with his wife, a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, having been superintendent of the Methodist Episcopal Sabbath-school since January, 1880; politics, Republican.

MORTIMER MATHEWS, County Surveyor of Nemaha County, was born May 25, 1840, in Hardin County, Ohio; was educated in the Ohio Wesleyan University, taking a scientific course, which course included surveying. During 1864 he served with the One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, in the Shenandoah Valley. In the spring of 1866, he located in Story County, Iowa; removed thence in 1869, to Richardson County, Neb.; thence in 1870 to Nemaha County, Kan. In the fall of 1871 he was elected County Surveyor; was twice re-elected, and served two terms as Deputy Surveyor under 0. C. Bruner; was appointed to the office to fill a vacancy in the fall of 1881, by Gov. St. John. He married in Ames, Iowa, Miss Grace G. Scoville. They have one daughter - May Mathews, born in Seneca.

MILLER & KEITH, lumber merchants. This firm, founded in March, 1882, has made a decided revolution in the lumber business in Seneca, and caused a decline in prices very favorable to the interests of the Nemaha County farmers, and in consequence, to Seneca. Mr. Miller, a native of Dubuque, Iowa, has been almost a life-long lumberman in Wisconsin, Iowa and Kansas, having owned a yard at Leona, Kan., for about five years. S. B. Keith, born in Stark County, Ohio, was reared in Ohio; served three years in the Union army during the rebellion; came to White Cloud, Kan., in 1866, and was in the mercantile business there until the spring of 1882. A very complete stock of lumber of all kinds, and everything in the line of building material, make up the stock of this stirring young firm.

S. G. MOORE, farmer, P. O. Seneca, is a native of Guernsey County, Ohio; came to Kansas in 1869, and engaged in mercantile business until 1877, when he exchanged his stock of goods then in what is now the 'City Drug store,' for his present 333 acre farm, one of the best located and valuable in the county. Mr. Moore has 175 acres in cultivation; seventy-five acres of good timber, and keeps from fifty to seventy-five cows. There are four miles of fence wire, principally on the farm; twelve acres of orchard, and 1,000 Concord grape vines. On this farm is, also, the only 'California windmill' in Kansas. Mr. Moore has a wife and three children, and seems to enjoy life and its prospects. He is a member of both the Lodge and Chapter of Seneca Free Masons, and though only a farmer since 1877, is an eminently successful one.

JAS. L. NEWTON, farmer, P. 0. Seneca, a son of Rev. Thomas Newton, and was born in 1818, in Breckenridge County, Ky., where his father and grandfather settled in 1812. He removed in 1850 to Fayette County, Ill., and in 1859 left with his team for Kansas. When he arrived, his father sold him eighty acres on which he lived about five years. The failure of the crop in 1860, and the distress and privations, incidents thereto, fell heavily upon him and his. He began teaming to Kearney and other western points, and to Atchison; one trip made that fall occupied eleven days, he unloading his 3,200 pound load eleven times on the way. He was paid $60 per hundred for hauling supplies for the sufferers from Atchison, and thus made some money. since 1864 he has lived where we now find him; has owned a section of land here in all, but has given each of his sons and foster sons an eighty acre farm, now reserving 130 acres for himself and wife. He married in Hancock, Kentucky, Mary Rusher who died in 1851, leaving three sons - Festus M., John 0. and Thomas R. In 1852 he was married again to Mrs. Mary Wicker Johnson, by whom he has three sons - Jas. M., Millard F. and Theodoric B. Mrs. Newton has two sons - G. W. and Perry C. Johnson, by her deceased husband.

REV. THOMAS NEWTON, Sr., deceased, one of the first to locate in Nemaha County, Kas., was born in Culpepper County, Va., and came with a wife and two sons, Jacob and John, in March, 1854, settling on Section 1, Town 2, Range 12. Green Key and family came with them, locating near by (see early history of the county). Horace Newton came to Seneca in 1856, and so did Rev. Thomas Newton, whose manly fearlessness in preaching in the midst of a howling Burr Oak bottom mob, that had threatened him with death, from the text, 'The wicked flee when no man pursueth,' etc., will long be remembered and admired. Rev. Thomas Newton, Sr., died February 21, 1881, in Marshall County, and his distinguished son died in Seneca, January 25, 1867. Mr. Newton was the first preacher in Nemaha County, and married the first couple. His wife was the first woman, and his son, Jacob B., the first man, buried in the county.

JAMES PARSONS, one of the early settlers and substantial men of Nemaha County, is a native of England, and came to the United States when fourteen years of age. Since 1849 he has lived west of the Mississippi. He came to this county in 1857, and bought of one Shafer a farm of 320 acres near Baker's Ford, paying $1,700 for it. The original pre-emptor was one Moore, a Pro-slavery man, at whose house so many illegal votes were cast by the Missouri 'border ruffians' at the election of 1856. On account of this Moore was 'bounced' by Jim Lane and his men. In 1858, Mr. Parsons was elected County Surveyor, being the first to hold that office in Nemaha County. In 1859 he associated himself with J. Blancett, and founded the town of Ash Point. During the rivalry between that point and Okeeta, Blancett killed a resident of Okeeta. Ash Point, during 1859, '60, and '61, contained three 'ranches' or stores, a hotel, and about thirty inhabitants. The construction of the St. J. & W. R. R. blasted the hopes of its projectors, and it relapsed into a farm. In 1860, Mr. Parsons went to Colorado, and in 1861 enlisted in the Denver Home Guards. Later he recruited a company for a New Mexican regiment, and finally took the field as Second Lieutenant in the Second Colorado Volunteer Infantry; served three years and came out a First Lieutenant. His was the regiment that pursued Quantrell and his horde of murderous thieves into Missouri after the sacking of Lawrence, they capturing a number of the guerrillas and much of the plunder. Gen. Ewing, Lieut. Col. Hays, himself and other Kansas officers, were the originators of the famous order 'No. 11,' and this far-western regiment did its full share in the desultory warfare in New Mexico, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. At the close of the war, Mr. Parsons located again on his farm, which he sold in 1870, taking up his residence in Seneca, where be engaged in buying, fattening and selling stock. In 1880-'81 he was with his brother-in-law, C. N. Smith, in the boot and shoe business. Mr. Parsons married in Kane County, Ill., (her native county) Miss Hattie Smith.

J. H. PECKHAM was born May 30, 1826, in Ballston Spa, N. Y., where his early life was spent as a mercantile clerk. From 1857-'59 he was in the hardware business in Nemaha, Wis. In the spring of 1860 he bought in Seneca, lots where the Felt lot now stands, and in a small frame building opened a stock of general merchandise. In the spring of 1861, he was appointed postmaster of Seneca, and held the office until the fall of 1864; was elected Register of Deeds in the fall of 1861; he served one term and was then elected County Treasurer, which office he held two terms and six months by appointment; he discontinued the mercantile business in the fall of 1861, but in the fall of 1863 opened a stock of tinware and hardware, that met with a ready sale, as it was the last chance for miners and prospectors going west from Atchison and St. Joe. In 1869 he built the present G. W. Williams' hardware store, and is two years sold out to Nelson and Williams. Buying out Mr. Nelson in 1874, the firm of Peckham & Williams flourished for three or four years, when Mr. Peckham retiring built the. store now occupied by Martin, Jacks & Co., and kept a general store until his final retirement to his pretty suburban farm and home west of town in 1880. Here Mr. Peckham has forty-five acres and an elegant modern house, overlooking the town and country, and surrounded by orchards and groves of his own planting. His wife was Miss M. C. Nelson, of Hudson, N. Y. They have three sons - Frank N., George K., and John G.

ANTONIO A. RAFFO, Proprietor Delmonico Restaurant, is the son of Michael Raffo, a native of Genoa, Italy who, in year 1819, settled near and at one time owned part of what is now the city of Pittsburgh Pa. He also fought two years under Napoleon, and took part in Waterloo. A. A. Raffo was born in 1837 in Baltimore, Md. Before he was a year old his family returned to Italy, and his father enlisted in the Italian army, taking part in the Crimean war. As a souvenir of the Malikoff, where half his regiment was lost, he has a silver medal presented by the English Government. Again, and finally, coming to this country he located at Baltimore, and as one of the Baltimore City Guards, helped to capture heroic old John Brown at Harper's Ferry. In 1861 he enlisted in the Sixth West Virginia Volunteer Infantry. In September, 1884, he re-enlisted in the Seventeenth West Virginia Volunteer Infantry, and was made Second Lieutenant of Company C. After the war he lived in Wheeling, Pittsburgh and St. Joseph until 1875, when he came to Seneca. Mrs. Raffo was Kate A. Brooks, of Maryland. She has one son by a deceased husband, Hansom Davis.

R. S. ROBBINS. deputy postmaster of Seneca, was born May 7, 1830, in Allentown Monmouth County, N. J. In 1840 his father, Chas. Robbins, removed to Highland County, Ohio. He was a stone mason and taught his son the trade. In April, 1861, R. S. Robbins enlisted in Company K, Twenty-second Ohio Volunteer Infantry, for three months; at expiration of term of service, re-enlisted as First Lieutenant of Company A, Forty-eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Col. R J. Sullivan; participated with his regiment in the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Young's Point and Sherman's demonstration on Haines' Bluff; on the return of the regiment to Young's Point, ill-health caused the resignation of Capt. Robbins. Returning north, he spent three years in Ohio, then removed to Iowa and engaged in the milling business at Cedar Falls about four years. In 1870, he came to Seneca almost without a dollar; by five years steady work at his trade, secured a pleasant home. In January, 1875, he was appointed to his present position, and has since retained it. He married in Ohio, Miss Elizabeth Beeson, a native of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. They have four children - Charles C., Maud, Edwin and Meads. The eldest was born in Cedar Falls; and the others in Seneca.

[TOC] [part 10] [part 8] [Cutler's History]