This story begins with the birth of Henry Groves Clem, on September 22, 1823, in Ohio. He was one of a family of eight children, four boys and four girls, who moved with their parents at an early age, to Adair County, Missouri.
My memory reaches back as far as my fourth year in life, at which time a company of Union soldiers stopped at our home and the sight of their blue suits and big brass buttons remains indelibly stored in memory's treasure box. The soldiers made much of sister Florence and I and gave us some wonderful candy shaped like men and women, pink, blue and different colors, and how proudly we placed them on the old walnut bureau in the living room (bureau is a chest of drawers similar to what is now known as a chiffonier). One soldier named Bill Dabney gave sister Florence a black, white and green plaid ribbon about four inches wide and about two yards long, she treasured this for many years.
I recall a visit made to our Grandmother Kelso's home one day. This visit impressed on my mind by a painful accident. The coffee pot was upset or boiled over on my arm. I remember mother laying me on the big fat bed consisting of a large straw-filled tick and over that a big feather bed and over all an old-fashioned hand-woven blue and white counterpane. The burn was so deep that I still carry the scar.
Peters, and William Harrison Peters, called Had. Also a daughter, Lottie by name, a young woman in her early twenties. This addition to our little band brought our number to thirteen, and although thirteen is often spoken of as an unlucky number, I feel that each individual of this thirteen was enriched and their lives made better by the presence of the others, and I shall try to trace the life story of each one through this little narrative.
My father was disappointed to find the claim which he had staked off, but failed to file the papers on, had been taken by another. There was a little log cabin in one corner of this one hundred sixty acres and as the man who filed the papers on the claim was not yet living on the land we decided to camp there temporarily, making use of the large fireplace to cook our meals and some of us sleeping in the cabin, others in the wagons.
acres. It was built of logs, of course, and was about eighteen by twenty feet. The roof was made of clapboards, hewn from logs and the floor was old mother earth. Before the following winter father added a stone fireplace at one end. We were fortunate enough to possess a cook stove. I remember we had no fruit or anything to make pies of until one day sister and I discovered that the woods were full of sheep sorrel, a little three-leaved plant with a pleasant sour taste not unlike pieplant, so we gathered sheep sorrel for mother to make pies; also we gathered for Mrs. Peters, who gave us each an egg, which mother marked and set. Florence's egg produced a big Shanghai rooster, while mine was a little black hen.
Social Life of the New Community.
The first wedding in the new settlement that I can recall was that of my brother Dan, then a young man of twenty-two years. He decided to leave the parental roof and make a home for himself and on July 25, 1867, he was married to Miss Hannah Lutes. He built for his bride, just across the road from our home, the usual one-room log mansion, which seemed to be the limit in those days.
The good fathers and mothers of the new community now faced another problem. That problem was religious training and education for their children. No churches, no schools, there was only one thing to do. The good people opened the doors of their homes and organized Sunday school and also had preaching services, first one place and then another. In the fall of 1867 a Mrs. Springer consented to teach school in her home. About nine o'clock each morning Mr. Springer would bring their baby, a child of a year and a half, to our home and leave it with my mother, while Mrs. Springer taught the children of the community. One thing of great importance in our young lives was a party given by our teacher for her pupils one afternoon. It was my first party and they were rare occasions in those days to all. She served peaches, cream and cake, and what a pleasant memory remains of this, the first social event of my life.
The members of the Christian church organized at the Clem school house and in 1885 built a church at Crestline at which place Sunday school and church are still carried on.
In the early pioneer days provisions were scarce and money was not plentiful. Father was forced to go over to Missouri and pay 50c. a pound for bacon and buy corn meal at $2.50 per hundred pounds. But God did not forsake we pioneers for as the Israelites were fed with quails and manna, so we were supplied with the prairie chicken and deer.
Another arduous task was the making of soap. This required much time and preparation. First the wood ashes from the big fireplace must be carefully preserved in the hopper built in the back yard for that purpose. When the time came to make soap, water was poured over these ashes and drained off into a big jar. This made a strong lye solution, and to it was added meat scraps, cracklings and any grease which mother had been able to accumulate. This mixture was boiled down in a huge iron kettle out doors until it was thick. This made a soft soap, which was used for all laundry and cleaning purposes.
The historian has already told you of the terrible scourge or plague of grasshoppers which swarmed in upon us and devoured almost all green vegetables. Looking upward the sky was entirely covered from view by these vast hordes of grasshoppers. They were everywhere. It was impossible to take a step without tramping them. Wagons trying to cross the country on the wagon trails, which served as roads in those days, soon had their wheels covered with the insects. Not a blade of grass was left. These were discouraging days, but some way or other we pulled through only to meet another disaster.
Changes of Time.
The pioneers struggled on, endeavoring to make a living and improve their little homes, trying also to educate their children and give them a social and spiritual atmosphere that would be conducive to the best development of character and ability.
A loved one from our home has gone,|
A gentle voice, forever stilled.
Dear Mother, how we miss thee,
Thy place can ne'er be filled.
Oh! dear little pioneer mother, with toil-worn hands, now folded in peaceful rest, how could we bear to give you up; a great anguish was in our hearts and we felt that our mother's life of love and devotion to us would live in our hearts throughout all the years of our lives. She was laid to rest in the Lovelake cemetery in Macon county, Missouri,
near her three little daughters, who had died so many years before. Mother was the second one of our little band taken away by the Death Angel. Leaving us at the age of fifty years and I was now in my sixteenth year.
Romance, Sunshine and Rainy Days.
The friendship which had sprung up between our neighbors, the Wrens, young people and myself, was rapidly increased to a stronger
emotion, for the young stepson, George Maxton. George was a tall, slim young man with dark brown curly hair and generally known by his nickname "Pretty."
Shortly after his marriage on October 24, 1881, our first born, a little daughter, arrived to brighten our hearts and fill them with her sunny smile and winsome ways. We called her Lilly Mae.
Shifting Sands of Time.
We moved from the Peters place in January, 1884, to Lehi or Stringtown, near Carl Junction, Mo., and with brother Dan and his wife, Lou, we engaged in the dairy business.
In June, 1884, we sold our interest in the dairy business to brother Dan and moved to Crestline, Kansas, back again in Cherokee county. George worked at various things during the three years which we spent in Crestline at this time, receiving the magnificent wage of one-dollar and a half for his own labor and that of a team. So you see our financial status remained very poor.
The fifth of our little band of thirteen pioneers was now called to the other shore. Mrs. Lottie Peters Hubbard died November 4, 1900, and was greatly mourned by her husband and three children, Daisy, Lucy and Hubert, and her only remaining brother, Had Peters. She was a woman of gentle loving character and sterling worth, a helpful and inspiring friend to all. She, too, was laid to rest in the Messer cemetery by the side of her mother and brother.
Building a New Home.
We trudged along in the same old rut until 1900, when we came to a momentous decision. We had purchased a lot, and we now decided to erect a home. After much planning and scheming we completed four rooms of the new dwelling and on December 12, 1900, we moved into our new home. As the
years passed by the completion of an upstairs and a new kitchen gave us a nine-room house.
man who was widely known, loved and honored throughout the entire country, having served as county commissioner for three consecutive terms, from 1895 to 1904, nine years in all. He, too, was laid to rest in the Messer cemetery and thus this cemetery became the resting place of the entire pioneering Peters family.
Drifting From Home.
The years rolled on and our little family grew older. The boys completed the grade school and worked on neighboring farms, saving their slim earnings until they had accumulated about $200 each, which they planned to use in securing a business education. Accordingly Earl entered the business college at Sedalia, Mo., and Willie went to Webb City Business College. This was the fall of 1905. Earl finished his course in March, 1906, and returned home, but Willie was unable to finish his course because of the failure of the Webb City college, which went bankrupt in February. However, he was fortunate enough to secure a position with the Frisco railroad at Webb City the following week, remaining until the following September when he was transferred to Joplin, where he has remained ever since.
In the fall of 1908 another great convenience came to our community. Natural gas was piped in and Oh! how wonderful it was. It rapidly replaced the wood and coal stoves and the oil lights and everyone was delighted with the change.
Martha Sproul, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Stiles, Mr. Will Stiles, Miss Chloe Stiles, Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Reed, Mr. and Mrs. T. N. Chenoweth and Mrs. W. L. Haner.
raised him to manhood, at which time he married our Brother Ray's daughter, Nettie, so he is still a member of our family.
This letter resulted in hasty preparation for the visit which followed. Sylva and I left home October 15th. We were met at Pueblo by Brother John and his wife Kitty, whom I had never seen. They escorted us to their beautiful home in Salida where we spent a most pleasurable month's visit. They took us on many pleasure and sightseeing trips and endeavored in every way possible to make our visit a pleasant one. We returned home the middle of November, glad to again be with our own dear ones.
A rock slide covered the track with huge boulders. When the headlight showed the immense barrier on the track he turned on the reverse, although it is said he had ample opportunity to jump for his life, he stood gallantly at his post and worked until the last moment to reduce the shock as much as possible. Had it not been for his loyalty it is probable many lives would have been lost. I was not able to attend John's funeral, as I had not been well that summer, but our son, Earl, left immediately for Salida and attended the funeral services. He left his wife, Mrs. Kittie Clem; a son, Earl Henry, and daughter, Florence; my brother, Ray, and myself, now the only surviving members of our family. He was the tenth of our thirteen pioneers to be taken away by death's angel.
George and I were now left all alone but the old house was filled with memories of our children's laughter, their childish griefs and dis-
appointments and their early dreams and aspirations. Even our old black Carlo was sad and lonesome. He had been very fond of Sylva and used to go to meet her at the station every day and return home with her. Time after time he made the trip to the depot only to be disappointed and return home to look up at us with sad brown eyes.
completed in 1921, another wonderful improvement for our community.
On February 4, 1923, another little grandson arrived, Willard Lee. The fourth son of our boy, Willie. It had been eight years since the last grandson and the little stranger was gladly welcomed.
On April 10, 1926, just sixty years after my arrival as a pioneer in Kansas, my son, Earl, was married to Miss Olena Goss. They were married in their own home with only the bride's mother and sister and myself as witnesses of the ceremony, which was performed by Rev. Powell Smith of the South Joplin Christian church. After the ceremony at 7 o'clock in the evening, a wedding supper was served by the bride's mother and sister, Mrs. Leila Stevens. Although a great home lover, Earl had remained a bachelor for forty-two years before he found and married the lady of his heart's desire.
Facing Life Alone-Travel Days.
My new house was completed and I moved into it October, 1926. After having lived for so many years surrounded by family or boarders, the little house seemed very quiet and for a time my worn nerves appreciated the peace and transquility surrounding me. No hurry and bustle in the mornings to prepare a hearty breakfast and fill dinner pails, as was my custom in the boarding house days. Now I could lie abed as long as I wished, but I found that the habit of early rising was so firmly fixed with me that I could not lay abed. What a change; how could I who had been used to cooking for fifteen or twenty-five men, cook for only myself? I almost had to learn to cook all over again. It was difficult to have any variety, especially of vegetables which required a long time to prepare, as it seemed such a waste to cook such small amounts. I could not be content idle for long, so I soon got busy quilting or sewing for my children and grandchildren. Sylva and her dear little twin girls lived in the old home and what a comfort they were to me. Sylva was always finding excuses for eating a meal with her. I know she was afraid I was neglecting to prepare the right things or variety I should have. Quite often when I refused to eat so many times with them she would bring over food from her table. My other children had the same loving solicitude for me, doing all they could to cheer and comfort me.
My little granddaughter, Joyous, was not doing well. The Joplin doctors seemed unable to help her, or at least we felt she was not improving. So, at a family consultation, we decided that my daughter-in-law, Edna, should take little Joyous to Rochester to the Mayo clinic, and that I would keep house for Willie and the boys while she was away. Edna left with Joyous in April and was gone four weeks, as the doctors placed Joyous in the hospital for that length of time before consenting to her return to Joplin. After her return, Joyous grew stronger by following the line of treatment which had been outlined for her and is now as strong as the average child. I felt very glad that I was able to help at this time of need and am very happy over Joyous' recovery.
Grandson, Jack, had been sick all night and had a high fever, so we decided it was best to get him back home. We packed up and were soon home again. Jack's sickness did not prove serious and as the old saying goes, "All's well that ends well," and we had certainly enjoyed our little outing even if we didn't bring home any fish.
don't need a new cook stove, you can cook all you need on this one. Take your money and go on a visit." I said, "Where would I go?" Sylva replied, "Go to Mobile, Alabama, to visit cousin Dora." Dora you remember was George's brother's girl. She and her husband, Will Hainer, and family had moved from Crestline to Mobile several years before and often wrote how lonesome she was for the sight of someone from home, and begged me to make her a visit. Prompted by these family remarks I began to think of taking the suggested trip and in April, 1930, I started on my journey, going by way of Springfield, Memphis, Birmingham and Montgomery. I left Joplin Monday, 9 a.m., arriving at Mobile 4:10 p.m. Wednesday. Dora and her daughter, Louise, met me at the depot and we began a very wonderful visit. After a separation of twelve years, of course, the children had most of them grown and changed until I would not have recognized them. The youngest, Mary Jane, was just five months old when they left Crestline. We went to see many points of interest, each time we went I saw something new. It was interesting to watch them unload merchandise from the big steamers. They would unload 60,000 bunches of bananas a day.
A New Home.
After a few days' rest the little home in Crestline began to seem very lonely, for I was indeed alone since Sylva and Lee and the dear little twins were gone. There was no one of my own to keep me company. I began to worry for fear I might take sick there all alone. Then the children were not satisfied either to have me live alone so far from any of them. So after due consideration I announced my intention of renting my home and moving to Carl Junction, and began preparing for the move.
Mrs. Mae Bunch and myself left Carl Junction bright and early Monday morning, October 18, 1930, en route to the World's Convention of the Disciples of Christ, Washington, D.C., arriving at 6:00 p.m. Thursday, October 16th, in time to attend the evening session.
pew which he had occupied and also the pew of Robert E. Lee. From the tower of George Washington monument 555 feet high, we viewed the Potomac river and Abraham Lincoln's monument and had a wonderful view of the Capital City. We also enjoyed visiting the largest library in the world, the capital building, army and navy buildings and yards and many other places of interest.
Her son, Horace Ulrich, lives in Springfield, Mo., and her daughter, Mrs. W. A. Boys, lives on a farm near Linwood, Kansas.
It was decided to make the homecoming an annual affair and officers were elected for the following year. I was selected for president, Mrs. Carrie Walker, vice president, and Mrs. Jessie Buchanan, who acted as secretary for the day, was elected for the office next year.
Sixty-six long years have rolled by since our first arrival in the Neutral Land, now known as the State of Kansas, and what a change those years have wrought, not only in our own little community, but all over the state. Development and improvement has been in progress. The waving fields of prairie grass have been converted into towns, cities and communities. Broad fields of waving grain replace the wild prairie. The buffalo, wolf and deer have been driven from their haunts and replaced by herds of fine cattle, sheep and hogs. Big industrial centers have been established; transportation has developed from the lowly oxen teams to the powerful steam railroads, the swift motor busses and trucks and pleasure cars of today. Great manufacturing plants produce in a few hours the things we pioneers struggled months to supply our families. Electricity, gas, telephone, telegraph and radio brings us in closer touch with affairs hundreds of miles away than we were into the affairs of our nearest neighbors. Great institutions of education have been founded and developed. Modern schools, high schools and colleges replace the little log school houses. Beautiful churches tower skyward and men of culture and spiritual understanding lead our people upward. Community halls with vast auditoriums accommodate our people when they meet to discuss civic affairs; public parks and play grounds, theaters and ampitheaters for our pleasure and recreation. All these things have come to us during these years. We have gone forward by leaps and bounds and now take our place in this great nation as one of the leading states of the union.