Tales and Trails of Wakarusa,  by A. M. Harvey

The Newcomers

     ONE November day in 1877 the Newcomers unloaded from a Santa Fe train just then arrived in the city of Topeka, the exact time being about four o'clock in the afternoon. There was Mother Newcomer and five boys, the oldest being less than five years older than the youngest. On the platform they met Father Newcomer, who, together with a country lad, was awaiting the arrival. They gathered their baggage together, and the country boy led the way across the street to where his team, hitched to a farm wagon, was tied. Each of the horses was fastened with a heavy rope about the neck, which was looped over his nose and tied fast to a post, and each of them jumped and snorted and pulled at every movement or noise made by the train, which was still upon the track.

     The train pulled out, the Newcomers loaded up, the boy managed to quiet down the horses, and untied one after the other, holding the lines in his hand all the time; and after he had tied up the last rope, he jumped into the front of the wagon bed, holding fast to the lines or reins, and up the street they went. After a brief stop at Cole's grocery, and again at Manspeaker's, they started out over the diagonal road leading to the southeast from the city. At the top of the Highland Park hill they looked back and saw Topeka in the valley, and it looked like a cluster of brick houses, with scarcely a tree in sight; and yet it was beautiful in the glancing rays of the setting sun, and all of them felt that it was to be the center of that country which was their new home and the place of their future activity.

     Before it was fully dark the farm wagon had covered the distance of some fourteen miles from the city, traveling nearly all the way in a diagonal, southeasterly direction, and had wound up at the home of William Matney, on Lynn Creek, a mile below Tevis. The ride was a wonderful experience for the little Newcomers. They soon learned that one of the horses was named Greeley and the other Banks; but it was some years before they understood that these names indicated that the owner was a Democrat who knew the names of the candidates upon his ticket some five years before, when the horses were colts. The autumn sky was beautiful, and the light frosts had given a brown tinge to the prairie, and it seemed to them that every breath of air was a draught of the elixir of life.

     That evening dozens of persons from ten miles around called at the Matney home to welcome and visit with the Newcomers. They were nearly all old-timers, and they represented former inhabitants of at least seven of the States of the United States and three foreign countries. There was a Yankee from Maine, a Digger from the hills of North Carolina, a Mudsucker from Illinois, and all kinds of Corncrackers from Kentucky, besides a fine old Englishman and a sturdy German; and they told the Newcomer boys that the school-teacher was a Scotchman who talked through his nose and said lots of funny things, and that further up the creek lived a Manxman by the name of Quayle. It seems that Kansas had gathered these people from many corners of the earth, to the end that they might be blended into a new people with a new spirit that should mark the character of a new State.

     The Newcomers did not know that they were newcomers for some days, nor until they heard people calling them by that name. One day one of the boys rode with John Oliver to Carbondale; and as Oliver pulled up to the sidewalk in front of a store, someone called out, "John, where did you get that kid?" And John answered, "He belongs to a newcomer just moved on the crick. He's got a whole passer of 'em. I seed this 'un in the road and fetched him along." John Oliver was from Tennessee, and he had his own peculiar way of expressing himself. He was a lot of fun for the Yankee neighbor.

     The Newcomers were soon settled in a house of their own near the present site of the stone bridge, and every day of that glorious fall and winter was a day of enjoyment to them; and over and over, as they gathered around the big fireplace of an evening, they rejoiced together because of the glorious welcome that Kansas had given them, and of the more glorious welcome, if possible, that had been given to them by the people Kansas and newcomers so many different lands, with so many different ideas and so many different ways and habits, yet all filled with that exaltation which came to them like a breath of freedom from the prairie, and has made them and others like them into a new race, filled with a new spirit. which we call Kansas.

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