Kansas Collection Books:  Sod Jerusalems, by Lloyd David HarrisGo to Contents



CHAPTER IV
"HO, FOR KANSAS!"

Every man almost in this section carries his "shoot iron," as they call it, and many of them lay down to sleep at night on the þoor with all these "little trinkets" on their persons. Taking off clothing is out of the question and I understand they sleep as well and snore as loud as Eastern people. Altogether I am favorably impressed with the country.
-- Charles Davis, "A Colony in Kansas," 1882 [1]
Kansas was like no other place in the world in the 1870s, 1880s. Although the railroads had permeated Eastern Kansas and it was fairly well settled, it still remained a territory of rural sod houses, wagon trails, occasional stage coaches, little country churches, little country schools and dirt poor farmers barely hanging on. Central Kansas still had its cowtowns -- Abilene, Newton, Wichita, Caldwell and others. By the 1880s, they had been cleaned up, most of their saloons and brothels closed and their cattle trade had gone elsewhere. Yet they lacked the Eastern graces. They had become agricultural centers, plowboys replacing cowboys. [2]

Western Kansas was developing. Some called it a slice of the Great American Desert and a good part of the time that was true. Easterners saw another picture of Western Kansas, however. They saw brochures that pictured burgeoning new towns with picturesque names like Garden City, Sun City, Forest City and Diamond Springs, all with tree-lined streets along beautiful, full rivers, alive with boats, even steamboats. Easterners read newspapers from the little towns that gave the impression they were booming, bustling, growing communities with all the comforts and beneÞts of Eastern urban areas. [3]

None of it was true. Some of the towns were never built. The stores, if there were any, were often slapped together with false fronts, usually one-room affairs that could go up or down within a day, ready to be set up in another town if the one they were in failed to make county seat honors. People lived in sod houses -- one room structures made of chunks of sod; that is, matted grass, weeds, and if lucky, willows from a river somewhere, cut like bricks and stacked atop each other. The little houses were dark, they rarely had windows. Some were cut into the side of hills, almost like caves. Weeds and þowers grew out of their sides and roofs. If they were located on the side of a hill, cattle might graze on their roofs, and, all too often, the roofs would collapse and the cows would come crashing down on a bed, a table -- or the hapless settlers. [4]

The land was tough and dry. It nursed scrawny coyotes, mean bobcats and fat-bellied hawks, but stubbornly deÞed the prayers and plows of farmers. Most people thought it was only good for grazing cattle. Blue grama and buffalo grass dominated the land, but there were other grasses -- western wheatgrass, June grass, side-oats grama, needlegrasses, a great variety. The land could be beautiful in the spring, particularly after rains, laced with bright yellow sunþowers, blanket-white with wooly Indian wheatgrass, along with other reds and greens of assorted wildþowers. Prior to the 1880s, when thousands of buffalo roamed freely, the massive animals kept the grasses short, often overgrazing, chewing the grasses and vegetation down to the earth. It is possible that this close-cropped vegetation, when Þrst seen by explorers, was the reason they perceived it as something of a desert. [5]

It was short on water, short on trees, and long on wind and rough weather. It could be 110 in the summer and 10 below in the winter. Even in the 1880s, there were Indian scares, and cowboys -- Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Doc Holiday notwithstanding -- were a society unto themselves and did as they pleased when they were out of town and on the prairies. Western Kansas was no great haven for farmers.

None of Kansas had proved to be a paradise for religious communities or utopian societies. A Vegetarian community had collapsed near Humboldt in 1856. [6] Three Communist societies had failed -- Silkville (Prairie Home) near Williamsburg in 1874, [7] the Esperanza Colony near Urbana, [8] and the Progressive Colony near Cedar Vale, both in 1879. [9] A Danish socialist colony near Hays City had disbanded in 1877 after only a few months, [10] and the Socialist Freedom Colony near Fort Scott was organized in 1899, but soon failed. [11] The Reform Jewish congregation, B'nai Jehudah in Kansas City, Missouri, sponsored the Wyandotte Colony, an agricultural community of Russian refugees in 1881. It was located immediately across the Missouri River near the town of Wyandotte (now part of Kansas City, Kansas), but it failed and was drawing to a close about the same time Rabbi Wise's Russian refugees were arriving at Kansas City from Cincinnati on their way to Western Kansas. [12]

Of the utopian communities, the Progressive Colony had the longest duration. William Frey, a former Russian aristocrat, an ofÞcer in the czarist army, a mathematics professor -- in general, quite a charismatic man -- arrived just outside the village of Cedar Vale in 1871 and stayed there for eight years. His community collapsed when his followers became disenchanted with him. They considered him autocratic, authoritarian and cruel, particularly when they saw him pouring cold water over his little daughter's head, literally drenching her when she made small mistakes in her school recitations. [13]

In 1879, after he had no more settlers for his colony, Frey left Kansas and drifted in and out of other utopian communities. Three years later he was in Oregon, leading the New Odessa Colony, another Russian Jewish refugee agricultural community partially sponsored by the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society (HEAS) of New York.

Although Russian, Frey was not Jewish, and the other New Odessa residents were Jewish in name only. They called themselves "vegetarian positivists," or humanists "exalting humanity as the object of worship to the throne of God." Frey enjoyed great popularity at Þrst, and among the Jews everything he did was "a holy undertaking -- a mitzveh." But even as his personality and eccentricities had been his downfall in Kansas, they eventually brought conþict and division at New Odessa. The colony lasted a few years, then fragmented into divisions of leadership. [14]

Not many Jews shed tears when New Odessa died. In an article, "Jewish Colonies Which Are Not Jewish," the American Hebrew editorialized: "The Oregon Colony will certainly go to pieces if it adheres to its communistic platform: all such experiments must go to pieces; how much greater the wrong then, how much greater the reproach, of his wicked and unjustiÞable squandering of the means of the charitable. "[15]

The colony did go to pieces. "What began as an experiment ended as an experience," one disgruntled colonist said. In 1885, Frey went to England -- not back to Kansas. [16]

Prior to 1882, when the Russian refugees arrived in Western Kansas, the state had barely known Jews. Jews had not constituted a large part of its early frontier history, yet in the instances in which they had been a part they had been leaders and particularly active in their respective communities.

August Bondi, the Wiener brothers, Theodore and Herman, and Jacob Benjamin rode with the Þery old abolitionist, John Brown, taking the side of the North in the Civil War struggle that bloodied Kansas in the middle and late 1850s. They comprised a little community called Wienersville near Osawatomie. Bondi later became Salina's postmaster and was the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor during Ulysses S. Grant's presidential administration. [17]

There were Jewish communities in Leavenworth, Topeka, Wichita, Kansas City, Hutchinson, Atchison and Fort Scott with individual Jewish families in towns like Horton, Seneca, WinÞeld and Caldwell. Rosedale, Wichita and Dodge City had Jewish mayors, Samuel Classen, Solomon H. Kohn and Adolph Gluck, respectively. Gluck served as mayor of Dodge City Þve terms and before that he served on the city council. He won himself a place in popular Western history when, as a councilman, he appointed Wyatt Earp as marshal of Dodge City. [18]

In Kansas' earliest years, the Jewish community was strongest in Leavenworth. Religious services with a minyan, a quorum of 10 men, were conducted as early as 1855 in Leavenworth, and a B'nai B'rith Lodge was started there in 1866. At the congregation's beginning, there was a dispute between its German and Polish Jews as to how they would worship. As a compromise, Orthodox services were conducted on Sabbath mornings, and after a short recess, Reform services were held, similar to those advocated by Cincinnati's Rabbi Wise. [19]

But Kansas' real Jewish stronghold was across the Missouri River in Kansas City, Missouri. The city was growing and prosperous. The Reform Jewish congregation, B'nai Jehudah, was active and progressive. In the fall of 1881, at least 40 members of the congregation organized their "Progress Club" which soon became the hub of Jewish society. Yet, if some of the congregation were given to social airs, they were not without considerable compassion for those less fortunate. About the same time Russian refugees had been arriving in Cincinnati, others were arriving in Kansas City. "They were received with open arms," Elias Eppstein, the congregation's rabbi, reported. "We will gladly provide for them, hoping that in the spring we shall be able to get employment for them." [20]

But it was not that easy. The Hebrew Ladies' Relief Society was taxed beyond its capabilities, causing the formation of a Hebrew men's Relief Society which also took up the cause. Both were immediately overwhelmed. Rabbi Eppstein preached a sermon, encouraging the troops, but even he began to have second thoughts. He wrote to the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society in New York asking that no more refugees be sent to Kansas City "as we have enough with those we have." [21]

A. N. Sadler, "the Boston Clothier," gave yeoman leadership to the relief societies and they did their best to clothe and shelter the refugees and to Þnd jobs for them. Those who were skilled, particularly in construction work, easily found employment, but others were not so fortunate. [22]

The Wyandotte Colony, the farming community on the Kansas side of the Missouri River, probably did not last more than a year. It was in operation while the Russian refugees from Cincinnati were in Kansas City, but it died a few months after that, before the winter of 1882-83 had ended. Rabbi Eppstein reported in the April 2, 1883 issue of the American Israelite:

Our Russians have left. The farming scheme near Wyandotte proved a failure. The Relief Society, assisted by the New Ladies' Society, provided the parties with sufÞcient means to start elsewhere. We gave them as tsayda laderech (provisions on the way) two hundred and Þfty dollars and wished them success elsewhere. [23]

It would have been an extraordinary few months for Kansas City Jews. They had refugees who had arrived in 1881 and early 1882 and they had done their best to accommodate them, even starting their own farming colony. Then, in August, 1882, Leo Wise, Charles Davis and the Cincinnati Russian refugees arrived. Davis and Wise were having second thoughts about going to their promised land in Western Kansas. The operation was in big trouble.

The plans had been well prepared. The group included a rabbi and was given a set of scriptures and a shofar, a ram's horn trumpet blown in connection with religious observances. They could worship as Orthodox Jews almost immediately upon arriving at their chosen site. Their group also included a blacksmith, carpenter, mason, midwife, and, as Rabbi Wise was sure to add, "quite a number of practical farmers." They were certain to succeed. "All of them can read and write," the rabbi told American Israelite readers in its July 28, 1882 issue, "and one of them is quite an intelligent scribe of the Hebrew and German-Hebrew. There is no lack of intelligence among them. Some of them rank above the common run of ordinary men." [24]

But not all was well, although the plans had looked good on paper. They left Cincinnati on July 26, 1882, taking the Big Four & Vandalia line from Cincinnati to St. Louis, the Chicago & Alton from St. Louis to Kansas City, and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe across the prairies to their new home on the Kansas range. It was the Great Migration back to the soil for Davis, Leo Wise and the refugees, "sixty souls in all of men, women and children." [25]

True, there was a small problem with a midnight derailment near Indianapolis, but Davis and Wise pulled the group through the experience with little difÞculty. The Þrst hints of a major crisis, however, had come at breakfast in the dining car somewhere between St. Louis and Kansas City when they were talking with George A. Knight, the Vandalia railroad agent. They asked Knight what he thought about their chosen Western Kansas lands, and he replied that the lands were no good, particularly no good for farming. "We took alarm," Davis later wrote in his diary. Arriving in Kansas City that evening, Davis and Wise sought out the local relief committee for opinions about the land. Their comments were equally gloomy. [26]

More troubles loomed when they discovered the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe did not care about having them as passengers. "Where was the welcoming committee?" Davis wondered. After all, he and Wise and their 60 souls of refugees constituted a considerable passenger load for any railroad. Usually, railroad representatives would be waiting at a station to welcome sizeable groups of passengers. But, he learned, the railroad had somehow acquired the idea that Cincinnati regarded the emigrants as beggars and paupers and wanted to get rid of them. Consequently, the railroad did not want them riding on their lines. As a consolation, they had been offered places on an emigrant train headed West, which, Davis related, "made me indignant, as this was contrary to our agreement. We (Davis and Wise) were promised Þrst class coaches with second class accommodations for all."

It looked bad. Beersheba might be more of a hell than a paradise and the railroad was balking. They decided Davis would stay in Kansas City with the refugees while Wise and Knight, the railroad agent, went ahead to Topeka to the Kansas agricultural department to Þnd out more about the land of their proposed Beersheba. Wise and Knight left that evening and Davis stayed with the refugees only to be confronted with more problems. The Leland Hotel did not want the group to stay there more than one night. Davis was tired, worried and anxious. The next morning, his Þrst in Kansas City, Davis wrote, "I awoke early and was feeling very blue."

The day did not get much better. A. N. Sadler, president of the Kansas City Relief Committee, arrived and helped make arrangements for the group to stay at the hotel. Then Sadler drove Davis to the Kansas City stockyards where they talked to cowboys who were familiar with Western Kansas and the Hodgeman County land where the refugees would be living. The cowboys were unanimous: The land was awful, not Þt for farming. Some cowboys predicted the Russians would starve there. Nobody in Kansas City had a good word for Western Kansas.

At Topeka, there had been some encouragement. Knight and Leo Wise returned later that evening with statistics showing that the area planned for Beersheba had some possibilities for farming, that nearby Cimarron was located on high ground and that rainfall had been steadily increasing throughout Kansas every year. Wise and Davis, however, still possessed some doubts about continuing.

The next day they visited a representative of the Union PaciÞc Railroad, the chief rival of the Santa Fe, and convinced the Union PaciÞc agent that the emigrants were not a lot of beggars and paupers. In turn, the agent was friendly and suggested they might investigate land in Ellsworth and Rice counties in North Central Kansas. The Union PaciÞc would furnish transportation to survey the area. That evening, Leo Wise was on his way to Ellsworth, accompanied by Julius Cohn, one of the two refugees who had originally picked the land near Cimarron for Beersheba. Even though he was going with Wise to check on the lands, Cohn remained convinced that he had made the correct selection the Þrst time. "Cohn told me before leaving that the lands he and Goldfarb had selected were good lands," Davis wrote, "and he is satisÞed that no better lands can be found any place."

Davis and Leo Wise, 29 and 33, respectively, were sincere men of integrity, genuinely concerned for the refugees, yet also concerned as to the appearance the refugees made in Kansas City. Left in charge, Davis did his best. "This morning," he wrote in his diary, "as I usually do every morning and evening, [I] went to the rooms for the different people and made them clean up. This is a regular thing twice a day, as I don't want the landlords to make any remarks about their habits."

Davis was dismayed to Þnd himself something of a father Þgure. The refugees were depending on him in ways he never would have imagined. He wrote: "Today, Chole Gedanski's wife complained of her breasts aching and I sent Lieberson's wife to attend her, and she reported to me that it was nothing serious. They come to me each one with his or her troubles and in this act like a lot of children, and at such times I feel as though the responsibility is too great for a young man." Yet far more bewildering and vexing were his problems with six mischiefmakers, Skwerski, Roseman, Braselawski, Sasewitz, Boxer and Sussman, "the latter two developing into Þrst class rascals." The six gave Davis no end of trouble, stealing from the group's supplies, particularly wine and cans of sardines. "They almost worry me to death," Davis confessed to his diary. "I want to hide their conduct from the people of Kansas City, especially the Gentiles, who have never seen Russians before, because I don't want them to form a poor opinion of our people."

Davis found work for a couple of them, keeping them out of trouble, but he could not Þnd work for all six. Within a week, money was missing -- $12 from a heartbroken emigrant who had saved it "expecting to make a start in the stock business by buying a calf." Davis suspected Sussman, "knowing him to be a rascal," and asked another emigrant, Goldman, to keep an eye on him. If Sussman started spending anything like $12, Davis wrote, "I will take his case in hand and if he is proven guilty, he will be invited to depart, as I think we can dispense with his valuable services under such circumstances."

The next morning, August 3, Davis received a telegram from Leo Wise saying he had been to Cimarron and that he had found the land much better than he had expected and that the emigrants should head west, as originally planned, as soon as possible. Davis still had his doubts, but another telegram from the Cincinnati Relief Committee ordered him on to Cimarron.

"I went around with Mr. Sadler and paid all lodging and meal bills," Davis wrote. "I used all the money I had -- took considerable money of Mr. A. Sadler, for which I gave him a draft.... Our expense at Kansas City was enormous. Every hotel keeper seemed to want all the money we had and overcharged us in every instance, and we had no alternative but to pay."

Davis also telegraphed Cincinnati asking the Relief Committee to contact the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad to make certain the group had a special car on an express train (to Cimarron) as it would be a run of about 400 miles. Cincinnati wired back that everything had been arranged. But when Davis talked with Santa Fe Agent H. E. Moss, the agent maintained that no express train was available despite the fact they had express tickets. The best Moss could do, as he had said about a week before, was to offer them space on an emigrant train. Discouraged, that night Davis described such a train as "nothing more or less than a freight traveling from nine to 12 miles an hour."

The agent had "acted rascally," Davis wrote. Later, after the refugees were on the emigrant train, Davis learned that there had, in fact, been an express train at the station but the agent had been determined the emigrants would not ride on it. "The last thing Moss, the agent, said to me was that he was sorry for us, that the people would starve there," Davis wrote. "I told (him) that our people would never starve. They were always willing to work and could make a living any place."

Davis left Kansas City the next day on an express train which overtook the emigrants' train at Halstead in Central Kansas. Davis' train had covered in seven hours the distance the emigrants' train had taken 17 hours to cover. Finally, that evening, they all arrived in Larned, Kansas, where they were met by Leo Wise. Wise then told Davis he had Þgured out why the railroads and railroad agents had been less than helpful and had continually discouraged emigration to the Cimarron area, contending it was "only a sandy desert." Davis wrote:

In the Þrst place these western counties are new, have no settlers and also are not organized, and as long as a county is not organized, and as long as a county is not organized the R.R. pays no taxes on its lands, and they own, for twenty miles on either side of the road, every alternate section. It is to their interest then, to keep the emigration East where the counties are organized and paying taxes.... Secondly, it is to protect the interests of the stock men. Cattle are run up in droves of from one to ten thousand (or even more) head from Texas and elsewhere and are run up what is called the trail.... These cattle graze on all lands they travel over and spread out for great distances, and wherever a farmer settles in this country, it, of course, takes away so much free grazing ground, and furthermore, the owners of herds are responsible for all damages that they may do any farmer, and as people don't have fences out here, it is no easy job to keep the cattle from running over and destroying crops....

The federal land ofÞce was at Larned, thus necessitating the stop there. The Jews would be sworn in, declaring their intentions to become citizens, and then they would sign for the government lands that would comprise their Beersheba. But they refused to sign -- it was Saturday, Shabbas; to sign, to transact business, would be a violation of their Sabbath day. Davis then implored them to reconsider, explaining it would be too expensive to keep them at Larned an extra day. Finally, they relented -- all but one. Moses Edelhertz, the schochet (ritual slaughterer), þatly refused saying he would rather not have the land than compromise his conscience. But later that night when it was no longer the Sabbath, "Capt. Morris, the U.S. Land Registrar, was kind enough to swear Edelhertz," Davis reported. "I told him Edelhertz was a rabbi."

The real trial at Larned came when it was time to purchase supplies and implements. "Leo, as well as myself, (we) were green," Davis wrote. "The merchants knew it and we were at their mercy." They had to have wagons to haul the supplies, but there also was the matter of mules to haul the wagons. They bought a pair of mules, six and eight years old, at "the enormous price of $200 -- the cheapest pair we could get." After the mules and wagons, Davis realized they had spent most of their money for food, lodging and travel and "not bought near what we actually needed: sheep, milk cows and other cattle besides implements, lumber and a thousand and one (other) things...."

One particular purchase, however, that caught the emigrants' fancy was their new Buckeye mower, and "they were like children playing with it," Davis reported. "The whole affair looked to me like a little girl enjoying herself when handling her Þrst large doll, and they had to be cautioned many times to be careful or they might lose their Þngers or get cut in some way."

They left Larned Sunday, August 6. Leo Wise, Þve of the men and a local teamster, left with two wagons, determined to travel overland to Beersheba with the implements and mules they were not able to get on the train. The Beersheba site was about 100 miles to the west of Larned. Davis and the other refugees remained on the Santa Fe and journeyed by rail the remaining distance to Cimarron.

Arriving at Cimarron later that day, Davis reported they were warmly welcomed by area farmers who encouraged and offered to help them. Area cattlemen, however, seemed less enthusiastic. Davis reported they were offering as much as $200 to anyone who could talk the Jews out of staying. "They're even sowing discord among our young men by telling them that they're wasting their lives by going into that section," Davis wrote, "that it never rains there, that the ground will produce nothing." The railroad, too, remained a source of difÞculty. Davis stood at the railroad station waiting for their provisions to arrive, but train after train pulled through Cimarron with nothing for them.

It was Davis' Þrst time in the wild west. Cimarron was a genuine cattle town. "I can see for miles on all sides," he reported, "and within sight there are great herds of Texas cattle grazing...."

These are attended by cowboys who are principally men of nerve and daring and will be crossed by no one. Every one carries a belt with a couple of .44 caliber long range revolvers, and the cartridges -- probably a hundred -- are encased separately in a little belt of leather and all attached to the large belt in full view and easily handled, but they must weigh several pounds, no doubt. They came in here for dinner today and seem to be all right. Every man almost in this section carries his shoot iron, as they call it, and many of them lay down to sleep at night on the þoor with all these little trinkets on their persons. Taking off clothing is out of the question and I understand they sleep as well and snore as loud as Eastern people. Altogether I am favorably impressed with the country.

Davis was so impressed with the country that he was determined to know more about it. He had days to kill, time on his hands, waiting for the remainder of the colony's supplies to arrive from Kansas City and Larned. He took trips into the countryside, met more farmers and cowboys, saw his Þrst prairie dogs, and, in general, got his Þll of good food and fresh air. The writing in his diary took on a positive exuberance -- the people were friendly, the air was Þne; it was a good, healthy climate Þlled with a "good, healthy looking set of men." Burdens seemed lighter. He was equal to them. "I have already become infected with the Kansas fever (as Leo calls it) in the shape of a ravenous appetite," he gleefully reported. "of course, you can't get what you want, but I don't mind a little thing like that...."

Davis had gone native. He had discarded his coat and vest in favor of an old blue suit, a blue þannel shirt and a broadbrimmed straw hat. "Together with the fact that I have not shaved since last Wednesday," he declared, "I think I compare favorably with the natives excepting that I am afraid I can't get used to carrying my pistol around all the time. It's too heavy, and besides, I am afraid they might criticize it, as it is only a .38 caliber, while a .44 is regulation out here."

All that remained was for him to visit the þeshpots of nearby Dodge City, and since the colony's supplies had yet to arrive, Davis elected for a few days in Dodge. He had friends in Dodge City, he wanted to visit some farmers near there, and, of course, there was the little city's Front Street and its wild reputation. He found a veritable catalogue of sins in Dodge -- open, blatant gambling of all kinds, "where in many cases women preside," dance halls, at least a dozen saloons where cowboys might be entertained by lively piano and violin music, and, on occasion, be "regaled with a vile song by an abandoned woman." In amazement, he reported, "This is a regular frontier town and sights are seen here that would shock the nerves of many timid persons from the East."

Davis was in Dodge City, August 8-10, and on Wednesday, August 8, Leo Wise and his group arrived at the Beersheba site, having successfully traveled overland from Larned. Since Davis and Julius Cohn were in Cimarron waiting for the supplies, the camp had lacked leadership, and, Wise said, he had found it in "a state of anarchy and inactivity." [27]

The women, children and most of the men had found shelter in abandoned houses and dugouts and the remaining men were living in the outdoors, on the prairie. None had the slightest idea as to what was going on or what had to be done. W. P. Peter, a land surveyor who had come from Larned with Leo Wise to help the colonists stake their claims, and Semer Mason, their nearest neighbor, tried to explain to them how to set up campsites and living arrangements, but were unsuccessful. Finally, however, with Wise's help, some kind of order was brought to the chaos.

But revolt was in the air. The married couples seemed fairly hopeful and cheerful, but the unmarried men were ready to leave. Several of the most discontent were among the six who had made life particularly miserable for Davis back in Kansas City. They approached Leo Wise requesting that he get them tickets back to Kansas City. He refused, saying that if they did not like the colony, they could leave on their own.

"On my arrival, I found on the ground 23 men, 14 women and 25 children -- 62 souls in all," Leo Wise reported. "Baruch Breslowski, Moses Boxer and Meyer Skwerske, after giving us a great deal of trouble, Þnally left the camp because they could not be convinced of the ultimate beneÞts that would accrue to them." [28]

The day after Leo Wise arrived at Beersheba, Davis, who was visiting in Dodge City, received a telegram saying the colony's supplies had Þnally arrived. He hurried back to Cimarron, and he and Julius Cohn were on their way north to Beersheba before daylight the next day (Friday). A number of the colony's Gentile neighbors, hearing the supplies had arrived, had come to Cimarron from the countryside around Beersheba to help get the supplies back to the camp site, "an act of good will toward the Russians." [29]

When Davis arrived, he and Peter, the surveyor, assisted by several of the Russians, selected and located their lands, putting up corner stones. The colony had taken 2,720 acres, and, if, in time, more refugees arrived or they wanted to expand the community, at least another 5,000 acres would be available.

But it had not been that easy. The Þrst day they were surveying, Davis, Leo Wise, and several of the others had worked until they were exhausted, and they had been told of a house a few miles away where they could get food and water. They arrived at the house and found it abandoned with its well in ruins.

"Imagine our feelings," Davis wrote, "tired, hungry and thirsty, and eight miles across the prairie to our camp, with the thermometer about 110. While (we were) studying our situation, a cowboy rode up and told us his camp was two miles away and there we could get some chuck, as he called it.

"I was almost fagged out before we got to his camp, but we Þnally got there, almost worn out after tramping ten miles or more in the hot sun. The camp consisted of a tent, adjoining a corral, into which the stock was driven at night. We found a man in charge, who got us up a dinner of coffee, antelope steak, onions and bread. Although the dust and grass was [sic] þying over what we ate, I never enjoyed a meal so much in my life." [30]


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NOTE: Numbers in brackets refer to footnotes for this text; footnotes
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