Kancoll: The Kansas Historical Quarterlies

History of the Sun-Gold Section

by Eugene F. Ware [1]

August, 1937 (vol. 6, no. 3, pages 295 to 314)
Transcribed by lhn; digitized with permission of
the Kansas State Historical Society.

I CAME out of the army in bad shape. I had a wound that never healed. I was tired and used up and had a persistent attack of malaria. This came about this way: I was held in the army long after the war closed, and, having had service in the Indian country, was detailed on a great Indian peace commission. The so-called civilized tribes of the Indian territory at the beginning of the war had seceded from the United States, and many Indians had joined the Confederacy. Others had declared for the Union and had gone into Indian Union regiments. When the war closed these soldiers had been hostilely opposed to each other. So, the administration determined to have a grand peace convention and pow-wow at Fort Smith, Ark., and a large number of commissioners were chosen and I was made one of the party.

     Most of the members of the party went up the Arkansas river in a small boat, but the party to which I was attached, went overland from Fort Leavenworth south to Fort Smith. We had cavalry horses and ambulances and an escort of a hundred regular cavalry. Of our party, there were Gen. W. S. Harney, Gen. J. G. Blunt, Gen. R. B. Mitchell, Gen. C. W. Blair and myself. There was another party that joined us en route, composed of General Du Bois and Grant's Indian staff officer (Col. Barker), who was said to be the chief of the Six Nations of New York. With them were several regular army officers whose names I have forgotten, and with the party was Ben McDonald, of Fort Scott, whose brother afterwards became senator from Arkansas. There was also Perry Fuller of



Kansas who was collector of the port at New Orleans and who had had much experience in trading with the Indians. In fact, the whole party was composed of those who had had Indian experience.

     We went down through the country. After passing Fort Scott going south, there were no more houses or habitations until we got down to Fort Gibson. The war had cleaned out about everything and there was nothing between Fort Gibson and Fort Smith. Ben McDonald and I, while en route through the Indian territory, went fishing one evening in Grand river and were fired on from the brush after dark, but neither was hit. When we got to Fort Smith, we camped down in the Arkansas river bottom and almost every person sooner or later was ill. This trip was in the fall of 1865. We afterwards returned by the same route to Fort Leavenworth. Generals Harney and Mitchell rode in my ambulance. The peace convention was a very great success and quite a number of Indians were gathered together; and the proceedings were very interesting.

     The Osage Indians at that time were uncivilized blanket Indians and had their delegates to the convention in true aboriginal style.

     My duties at Fort Leavenworth were very onerous, and after my return thereto a low malarial fever hung upon me, which, while it did not incapacitate me for serving, wore me down until I was very lean. In addition, an old army wound made matters still more unpleasant for me. Thus, when I was mustered out in the summer of 1866, I was about used up. I went to Doctor Nassau, the celebrated surgeon of the Ninth Iowa cavalry, who lived in Burlington, which was then my home; he started in to cure me with relays of quinine.

     In the meantime, I was offered a position upon the Burlington Hawk Eye, which was then perhaps the leading paper of Iowa. I worked along and doctored as I worked and thought that I was improving. The work became more burdensome and yet more attractive and I was soon overworking. The editor of the paper was arranging to get a government position and he piled on to me, from time to time, more and more work until I found myself doing most of it, and making considerable reputation at a great cost to my health. Finally, Doctor Nassau started in on arsenic, saying that my malarial symptoms were such that quinine would not control them, so for about two months he gave me arsenic and I kept hard at work and became about the whole thing on the paper. After a while Doctor Nassau said that he could not use arsenic any more, that its effects were cumulative and that he must try strychnine. This went on until I went to the doctor and told him that while I


was proud of the success I had made in the paper, I had gotten to that point of nervousness and emaciation where I was afraid I was going to collapse. He gave me a very careful examination and told me that I had brought out of the army a variety of malarial trouble that I would never get rid of, and which would take me into my grave unless I abandoned work and went to living in the open air and put in all my time at acquiring health.

     In the meantime the editor of the paper, Mr. Beardsley, had been detailed to a bureau in Washington at a fine salary and I was practically in control. The paper was being quoted a great deal and when I went to the manager, who ran the finances and took care of the stockholders, he thought I was trying to get a raise of salary and he asked me how much I wanted. When I told him that my salary was very satisfactory, for I was getting a good one, he appeared to be very much worried and asked me to stay a little while until he could make some arrangements. I agreed to stay a few days. Finally he came to me and told me he would pay me any sum I wanted, if it was anywhere within reason, and when I told him that my health was my only consideration he appeared to be very much worried over it. Doctor Nassau found fault with my remaining with the paper and told me that I must get right out, stop every kind of work, live in the open air and drink a compound which he said he would prepare for me. He advised me to wait no longer. Among other things he said, "Get on your horse and ride across the state to Council Bluffs and back. Go leisurely and do nothing but ride your horse."

     Just at this juncture, a peculiar circumstance took place. A Mr. Campbell came to me and introduced himself. He said: "You served in the army with my two boys and they think a great deal of you, and I have been talking business with them and I have come to make you a proposition." Then he continued: "I have $18,000 lying idle over there" (pointing to the building of Coolbaugh and Brook's Bank. This Coolbaugh was afterwards the prominent Chicago banker who killed himself on the Douglas monument and whose daughter was the wife of the United States Chief Justice M. W. Fuller). Then he continued: "I want to go down into southwestern Missouri where you and my boys were soldiering part of the time in the army, and I will buy a lot of cattle for you and my two boys to take charge of. I will divide the profits, one fourth to me, one fourth to you, each of my boys one fourth. All you will have to do is to furnish your own horse and your own board, and you,


Mr. Ware, will have to keep the books and look after the finances. My boys want you in and are willing to go down there in this sort of a scheme if you will go along, and it won't cost you much of anything; and there is a whole lot of money in it and if you will say that you will go, I shall get up a fine traveling wagon and we will go right on down overland." (There were no railroads yet into that. country.) "We shall pick out some good places and then go over into Kansas and buy stock. The country down there has been so cleaned out by the war that you won't have many neighbors, but will have lots of cattle range."

     I made an appointment with Mr. Campbell for another talk and went to Doctor Nassau. He said: "It is just the thing for you; two or three years of that kind of life will bring you out all right and make a new man of you. Otherwise you are liable to slip into your grave at any time." I notified Mr. Campbell to get ready and I would go with him, but he was delayed.

     In the meantime I worked off and on about the Hawk Eye office as I could, until the first thing I knew I was not able to work any more and was laid up. My nerves had gone all to pieces. I was very weak, lean and irritable and had about made up my mind that I could not stand the trip, when Mr. Campbell, with his two boys, drove into town with a fine covered wagon and a fine pair of horses and a nice sleeping outfit in the wagon. I had brought out of the army my old cavalry horse that had been born on Andrew Jackson's hermitage farm in Tennessee. It was a magnificent large black animal with curly mane and tail; about the best and most intelligent horse I ever knew. I threw my leather trunk into the wagon, got on my horse, "Old Bill," and into my McClellan saddle, and off we started just as the grass was beginning to peep in the early spring. With me was a jug of Doctor Nassau's preparation. It was whisky with from fifteen to twenty different kind of bitters. He gave me the formula on a piece of paper which I retained for years. I can remember now only the Peruvian bark, cammomile flower, dandelion, quassia, gentian and boneset. There were a lot more of the ingredients, but I do not remember them. He told me to drink just as much of it as I could; the injunction was a joke. No man could drink over a tablespoonful at a time and no man could have nerve to drink a spoonful oftener than once in two hours. It was absolutely the worst decoction I ever saw or heard of and had no tendency to produce dissipation.

     We started southwest of Burlington, I riding ahead on my horse


and swapping to rest in the wagon, for I tired easily and was thoroughly used up. But I said nothing about my matters to my associates and made no complaint. I had along with me my military rubber poncho and I made it a point to stay on horseback as much as possible.

     We went overland to Memphis, Mo.; thence to Kirksville, thence started south, but rains set in and we were held up by high waters and bad roads. When we got well down into northern Missouri, we struck a new condition of things. The "Klu Klux Klan" was organizing. Returning Confederate soldiers were passing and repassing on the road. Little bunches of them were together and would come into our camp and want to know where we were going and why we did not stay home. One evening when we had gotten nearly to Keytesville a gang of armed fellows came into camp and one of them, raising up what appeared to be a military carbine, began pointing it at one after another of us and said "Just see how easy I could kill a Yankee." No remonstrance seemed to prevail and he kept this up for about half an hour. There were seven of them and old Mr. Campbell was frightened almost to death. We made very slow progress on the trip and this manner of visit and attempted intimidation kept up. The people told us to go back north and that they did not want us down there. They would not sell us horse feed and would not sell us butter or eggs. Things got in such a way that Mr. Campbell proposed to drive farther west and said that he would not cross the Missouri river east of Lexington. One of the Campbell boys in the wagon had a double-barrelled shotgun and I went out and shot some quail and prairie chickens and broiled them for the old gentleman, who was then about 65 years of age. The constant rains, our slow progress, the newness of the country, the fact that there was hardly any bridges and those that were had been destroyed by the war, caused Mr. Campbell to get melancholy.

     As we were going southwest we all at once crossed on a high prairie a north and south road that appeared very much traveled. All at once Mr. Campbell, who was sitting in the front seat with his son, directed his son to turn to the right and follow the main road to the right, going north. I spoke and asked what was the cause of it. He said: "I am not going to go any farther south." I began to remonstrate and told him that we had passed through the worst country of our trip, that when we got out towards southeastern Kansas, it would be better. But the old gentleman was


obdurate and said: "I am going back to Iowa; not a cent will I put into such a country as Missouri. I will not invest a dollar in such a state." The boys began to protest to their father against going back and a very angry controversy arose between them to which I was a silent spectator. When we had passed through Kirksville I had received a lot of letters from my sister, because we had made very slow progress, and among them were a great number of clippings which had been gathered from the state papers and published in the Hawk Eye, very complimentary to me and very much regretting that my failure in health had deprived the state press of my services, etc. The clipping spoke complimentary and told of my going down south for my health.

     Under these circumstances, I could not very well afford to go back to Iowa. So, at a certain point of the debate between the old gentleman and his boys, I chipped in and said: "I do not believe that I care to go back to Iowa and if you want to go back, you can just leave my trunk here at the cross roads." The old gentleman hesitated for a while and then said: "We are going back." So, I let down the end gate of the wagon, took out my trunk and jug and said: "I am not going back. If you want to go back, you go."

     I sat on my trunk, holding my saddle horse by the bridle rein, while the boys protested with their father. All at once the old gentleman turned to me and said, "If you leave me here, you have to pay for your board on the trip." Then he took a book out of his pocket and began to figure and the boys said: "Don't pay him a cent." Finally he figured up that I owed him $7.94 as my share of subsistence which I should now pay him because I had deserted him. I got ready to pay, but the boys would not permit it; both of them said: "Don't pay him a cent." The boys did not want to go back, but finally the old gentleman said, "This is my outfit and everything belongs to me and I order you to get into the wagon and take me back home." The boys and the old gentleman, still quarreling, got into the wagon, turned northward and soon disappeared over the prairie, and I have never heard of them or anything about them from that day to this. I only know that the boys told the old gentleman that they were ashamed of the way he was treating me and that they wanted me to understand that they did not approve of it. What I blamed them for, however, was that they did not get out and stay with me because if they had shown the right kind of grit, the occurrence would not have happened, but the


old gentleman had a great deal of money and was tyrannical and the boys were afraid to have a rupture with him. So, there I was sitting on my trunk on the prairie in a new country and only one house in sight and that far down south on the road.

     As I sat on my trunk holding my horse, I cogitated what to do. I could not carry the trunk with me and so had to stay with it, and I thought I would have to wait until some farm wagon drove by.

     After while a man came from a northern direction, driving a team of horses to a farm wagon without any bed on it. He was riding on the rear hounds of the wagon. I asked him if he could haul my trunk to the house, which I saw far to the south, in the direction in which he was going. I then told him I would pay him for it. He assented and we got the trunk and jug aboard. He was very inquisitive in knowing who I was and where I was going and how I happened to be out on the prairie all alone with a trunk and what I had in the jug. I told him briefly that we had started down from Iowa to southern Missouri and that my people had backed out and had gone back and that I wanted to go on. I asked him if there was any work that could be done in that part of the country or if anybody wanted any help. He said there was a man down in the timber who was trying to find somebody who could burn brick; that he had started a brick kiln and had gotten the brick all in ready to burn and the man who was to do it had left the country.

     Now it happened that I had seen brick burned often when I was a boy and was of the impression that all anybody had to do was to keep throwing in firewood, and I told the man that I would burn the kiln of brick and asked him to stop at the house when he came back and tell me if the man wanted me. So, when we got down to the house, he unloaded my trunk. I paid him a quarter in postal currency and he went on. I then went to the house to make arrangements for stopping and told them I was to have a job for burning brick, but to my surprise they refused to permit me to stop or even to let me store my trunk. They evidently thought I had been a soldier which was perhaps visible in my outfit, McClellan saddle and poncho. I was very much put out for I did not see another house in the neighborhood and to my questions as to where they thought I might get a place to stay they simply told me they did not know. So I went out and sat on my trunk on the road and it was getting along towards noon. I did not know exactly what course to pursue and thought I would wait until the man in the wagon came back. I had waited until I was worried and discouraged, when looking to


the north I saw a row of whitetopped emigrant wagons coming down the road. I tied my horse to a post and walked up the road. As they came more visibly into sight I saw three men walking at the head of the train, about two hundred yards in advance, and all three of them had guns over their shoulders. Two of them had on what were then called "McClellan" army caps of an official cut.

     The Grand Army of the Republic had been organized the fall before and I was one of five charter members for Iowa. Just before I had left Burlington we had succeeded in forming a strong post and as these people appeared in view, by the time I had gotten within a hundred yards of them, I gave the G. A. R. hailing signal and it was responded to by the middle one of the three men who were marching ahead. On arriving, we shook hands, went off and had a private talk and I told him that I had been captain of Company F of the Seventh Iowa cavalry and he told me he had been a captain in Birges sharp shooters, a regiment that I well knew. His name was Warren and the man to whom he introduced me on his right was a brother-in-law, Mr. Wesley Tibbetts, and the other was the latter's son-in-law. They said they were going down to southwestern Missouri to look at the country and pick up some cheap land. Without any trouble I entered into the following arrangement with them. They were to haul my trunk. I was to pay my share of mess board and my horse should pull in the team every third day, so my trunk was put in and off we went, the people at the house all standing and looking, two men and five women and several children in a large well built, two-story frame house, where I was so inhospitably received. I told the man whom we passed on the road that I could not stop to burn the brick and we went on a few miles and camped.

     Captain Warren and I went out to buy some provisions, but found the country pretty well desolated. We stopped at a house where a woman was baking some corn-bread in a Dutch oven on the coals on a hearth. The woman was about forty. She spoke about her husband who would soon be in. Finally she introduced us to a boy who was about eighteen, who she said was her husband. I asked if it were not her son instead of her husband and she said "No, I married him. What is a woman to do? My husband was killed during the war and there ain't any more men around. They've all been killed, and what is a woman to do? Why, she has to do the best she can. There was not any body for me to marry except him and he makes me a pretty good husband even if I am old enough to


be his mother." This is a true picture of the desolation of the country after the war, in its theater.

     We crossed the river near Brunswick and went on down south, turning to the southwest until we got south not far from Lamar in western Missouri. The country was practically deserted. The chimneys were standing lonesomely everywhere. Constant talk of murders were heard of, and fights between returning soldiers. It would appear from what was told us that great outlawry prevailed. At this point a man coming from the southwest stopped us and asked us where we were going. He told us that the grasshoppers in Kansas were knee deep and when I ridiculed the idea he stuck to it. This was the last straw for several of the party who composed the train. Some turned northward and only three wagons of us went on. Captain Warren and I stayed together.

     Bacon was fifty cents a pound. There was no flour in the country and corn-meal was five cents a pound, sixty pounds for three dollars.

     Mr. Tibbetts had a relative at Carthage, as he supposed, so we went to Carthage, Mo. It had been so thoroughly desolated by the war that there was hardly anything left of it. A man from the wreck of some old buildings was putting up a little wooden frame structure which he said was to be a harness shop. Here we held a council of war and determined that. we would quit Missouri. It was debated quite a while as to whether we should go to Springfield, Mo., or turn westward into Kansas. I think my voice turned the tide, for I advocated going into the Indian neutral lands south of Fort Scott, as I had heard that some settlers from Kansas had gone in and that there might be a prospect of the land being thrown open for settlement. So in we went, through what is now Cherokee county, Kansas, and went to the Neosho river and went into camp down near the mouth of Lightning creek, in what is now Cherokee county, about opposite Oswego. We just had to abandon Missouri. It looked to us then as an impossible country.

     At the place near where we camped another old soldier named Sidney S. Smith, afterwards a very prominent citizen of the county and for years county treasurer, had put up a log cabin and had started a farm. Captain Warren and I got on horse-back and leaving everything in camp started over the country to make a selection of land. There were but very few settlers in the county and those were along the water courses and were mostly union soldiers of the late war. They wanted us to take up claims near them.


We rode over the county week after week. I took up a claim at the head of Deer creek, as a temporary expedient, because there was a settler near there named Betzer who would break out some prairie for me and I employed him to break me twenty acres for $80.

     Captain Warren found a man who wanted to sell out his claim with log cabin on it and he made a deal with him for $200. We wanted material for a house and as a man by the name of Motter below the mouth of Lightning creek had put up a little temporary sawmill, we concluded to cut some lumber and have it sawed up. We went to the Neosho river bottom and found a man who claimed a bottom quarter and he told us to go in and haul away all of the down dead timber that we wanted; that it would save him the trouble of clearing. We went down to look at the timber. It was a perfect mass of ancient dead trees lapping over each other. There had apparently never been a fire and the big black walnuts were overlapping each other on the ground, and the bushes and young trees were so dense among them that we could hardly get through. There were black walnuts that had evidently fallen over a hundred years before.

     Captain Warren and I picked out some fallen trees near the bank so that we could roll the logs to the river and commenced sawing up with a cross-cut saw, dry, thoroughly seasoned, black walnut logs, four feet in diameter. We worked about a month, got the logs into the river and got them sawed up into two-inch planks. It was the most beautiful lot of lumber I ever saw, but the work was very hard. The weather was hot in July, almost suffocating down in the timber, and the mosquitoes were in a perfect cloud. We built smudges to keep off the mosquitoes and worked in the heat and smoke. I was not yet strong enough to keep up with Captain Warren and from time to time I hired a young man to assist me; but I was getting on my feet fast, and had drunk up my jug of bitters and had filled it at the Missouri river crossing.

     Our party had scattered. Captain Warren and I, while cutting the saw logs, slept up on the hay roof of the Smith stable above the range of the mosquitoes and we had a camp where we cooked fish, coffee and bacon, having our corn bread cooked in Mr. Smith's log cabin. Our camp was under a large water-oak tree. The weather was hot and the work was hard, but we got through. A team came along one day as we were getting low on bacon and we bought a pound for fifty cents, all the bacon the teamster would sell, and Warren hung it up on a tree out on the end of a limb. Coming


home from work one evening, we saw a long, ravenous greyhound jumping up in the air to get that bacon. We yelled at the dog, but he was too far off. He finally got the bacon and sat down to eat it. His master came riding along on horse-back; the dog had run ahead of him. Warren said to the man: "What do you want for that dog?" The man replied: "What will you give?" Warren said: "Fifty cents." The man said: "He is yours." Warren then turned to me and said, "Give me a quarter." I asked: "What do we want that dog for?" Warren replied: "To get our bacon back." So we bought the dog. The dog was a good one and Warren kept him. We caught lots of fine fish and almost lived on them.

     One day the Tibbetts party came down to hunt us and said that somebody had to go out east for family supplies, that there was neither bacon nor corn-meal left in the country. Warren agreed that if I would go with Tibbetts and the wagon and get supplies, he would see that the logs were all put into lumber and piled up at the mill and I agreed to it. We started east and reached a store that had been opened on the route near the Missouri line. We stopped there to talk about food, and cornmeal was 6 cents a pound and bacon was 60, so we kept on east and we went east until we got. well up into Missouri nearly a hundred miles east of Kansas. We struck a little new water mill up north of Springfield and bought corn-meal for $2 a bushel and bacon at 50 cents. We bought a little more than we thought we might need and we sold a storekeeper, back in Kansas, some of the meal for $2.50 and some of the bacon for 75 cents.

     When I got back, my lumber was piled up-my share, Warren's share and the mill owner's share. Mine were two-inch broad boards and I had them hauled up to my temporary claim where breaking was going on. About that time Warren got news that his wife would be in Sedalia on a certain day and said he would go up in an ox team and bring her back. There being no corn-meal in the country, or oats or horse feed except green grass, an ox team was the best rig.

     Just as we got ready to start a prolonged rain set in. The roads became impassable and we had to go up to Fort Scott on the ridges and it was then that I first got a good view of "Sun-Gold Section." There was not a settler within miles of it and deer were very numerous and were playing around over the country plainly visible. I had determined to go up with Warren in his rig and ride my horse and get another supply of the doctor's medicine. We arrived at


Sedalia. Warren loaded up his wife and a quantity of trunks and furniture and was about to start back. I made up my mind that I would ride on up to Burlington, Iowa, to tell my father and mother what a beautiful country I had found, and get them to sell out and move down into Kansas. The place I had considered the best was Fort Scott, through which town Warren and I took our ox team. I was feeling much better. The weather was cheerful and after I left Sedalia I made 40 miles a day on horseback and soon arrived in Burlington, having been gone about four months.

     I was feeling better on my return but somehow when I got to sleeping indoors and neglecting active outdoor exercise my bad feelings quickly returned. I had a consultation with Doctor Nassau and he told me that if I would continue his treatment, he felt sure of my recovery. About this time I got a letter from Captain Warren which stated that some men had jumped my claim, which gave me considerable solicitude. In the meantime I had depicted the advantages of Fort Scott and southern Kansas to my parents and my father was inclined to consider a change.

     My father had been ill for some time and had discovered that his partner was getting away with him and my father desired some pretext for selling out the business and dissolving the partnership. I may say that he afterwards did that and moved to Fort Scott, but I started with my horse back to Kansas. I went down to the Mississippi river at Burlington, led my horse on to a steamboat bound for St. Louis and soon arrived there. All of the steamboats had horse stalls on the lower deck, together with feed, and there was much traffic of that kind. On arriving at St. Louis, the boat having made a quick trip, I led my horse on to a Kansas City boat and soon got up the river to Kansas City. From there I wrote Captain Warren that I was coming down to shoot both of them. In those days that was the way people talked, and down in the Indian country that was the way people did. I sent my letter to Oswego at which point, then only a village, Captain Warren got his mail, which ran every week. I then rode down on horse-back to Fort Scott and then I pushed on down to Captain Warren, making a ride of 145 miles. He had communicated my message and when I got to my place I found it deserted. The persons who had jumped it had moved off.

     I found my twenty acres broken out in good shape. I paid for the breaking, settled up with Captain Warren on our lumber deal, got my lumber and a lot of posts hauled up to my claim and then went


up to Fort Scott and worked at the harness business all winter until the first of March. Then, Kansas City being the nearest place, I hired a wagon to haul down from there to the claim a load of spring wheat and I hired a man to gut it in. I came down to my claim and put up my black walnut shanty, ten feet wide and sixteen feet long, with a lean-to roof. One end of the shanty was occupied by a large sod fire-place which being built on the outside formed one side of the shanty. The four corners were made of black walnut posts about six inches in diameter. I let them down into the ground in a hole, dug with a post auger which I had bought. A visitor watching the performance said that I was building a very nice house and was "mortising the corners into the earth." I bought a team of good horses, plows and other implements and started in sleeping, hatching, and holding the claim until I could select something in the shape of a square section which I wanted for the whole family. As soon as my wheat was in and my garden planted I started out to find what I wanted. In the meanwhile other settlers had come in but they mostly settled along the creeks and stream beds. I went out and made continuous explorations of the country on the upland, doing what work was necessary at the Deer creek claim, but I rode constantly all over the county. I found several places which I thought would do; one down in the southern part of the county; one on the stream east of where Columbus now stands; but finally I picked out the hill on "Sun-Gold Section" and concluded that I would take up a square mile; a one quarter for myself, one quarter for father and one for each of my two brothers. There were 100 square miles of vacant territory there and I had my choice.

     It was the country that I had seen the year before, 1867, when Warren and I went up to Fort Scott. During the time, and I think it was during the winter, the government had surveyed the township lines of the Neutral land, but had not yet sectionized it. So in order to locate my land I hunted up a township corner, and by measuring a mile west I could get the section line. I first stepped it off and came quite close to it and made my plans in accordance with it. Afterwards a lone darkey, who lived down in the Indian territory, passed through. He was about twenty years of age and I hired him to help me. I went to Cherry creek about five miles below "Sun-Gold Section," where there was some vacant timber and I cut foundation logs and hauled four of them up onto the N. E. quarter and afterwards went back and cut four more and put them on the rising ground of the S. W. quarter.


     I also joined the Deer creek club and will briefly explain the pioneer law of the times. There being no civil organization of any kind, that is to say, no counties, townships or local officers, the people formed into clubs and by a majority vote made such local laws as they cared to have, based upon other laws of the state.

     The club ordered that for a person to take up a claim he must go on it personally with a witness and say he took it as his homestead. In order to mark the place, a stake was driven down with the date and the man's name on a piece of paper attached to the stake. It was very often that a simple envelope covering a letter that had been received slipped down over the stake. Within ten days a claimant must put on what was called the foundation of his house. He was supposed to build a log cabin on the land not less than 12 feet square. The foundation was four logs, not less than 12 feet each in length, put in square form on the land. Sometimes these were merely poles, but the rule was that they should be at least six inches in diameter. At the time of the laying of the foundation a stake was driven with the new date of the laying of the foundation. If the land which was taken was not a square quarter, but consisted of forty-acre tracts, arranged otherwise than as a square, the claim stake must specify the 40's. From the time of the laying of the foundation six months was given within which, in contemplation of club law, the man had an opportunity to go back to the states and get his family. If he did not come back within six months, or caused nothing further to be done on the land, anybody could jump the claim. Every person who joined the Club signed a book with the statement written out that he agreed to abide by the club rules and assist any worthy neighbor whose claim should be jumped or should be mistreated by anybody. As stated, I put up two foundations on "Sun-Gold Section" and finally put up two more near the center. Afterwards the land was surveyed and sectionized by the government. Shortly thereafter, finding the definite boundaries, I relocated the foundations and afterwards, in the fall of 1868, I again relocated the foundations and put up new claim stakes so as to carry my right through the winter until next spring and I offered my Deer creek claim for sale.

     The year 1868 was a very dry year and there came in but very few people and the land was reported to have been sold in a body to a railroad company which kept out very many immigrants.

     In the meantime my father and two brothers had come to Fort Scott and I took my two brothers down to the farm and introduced


them around and told everybody where their claims were. I also got my father and mother to come down from Fort Scott where they had located, to make me a brief visit on the claim, which they did, driving in a double buggy, coming down one day, staying one day and going back in a day.

     I went up and worked all of the winter at the harness business again, and in the spring came down and put my twenty acres into corn. This was in 1869. That summer's work was a very profitable year. I cleared $1,400 in cash from what I raised. The immigration which came paid about $1.25 a bushel for corn and fifteen cents a shock for fodder. I had cut up all of my twenty acres into fourteen hill squares. This was on the Deer creek claim. My brother and I then went over to "Sun-Gold Section." Under the law the building should begin on "Sun-Gold Section," and I went down to the mill, hauled up some lumber and measured the exact center of the section. I sowed a whole lot of blue grass seed among the prairie grass in the swales. I broke, around the house, about five acres of ground to be used as a garden. One fourth of it being on each quarter section and for each member of the family. I set up stakes around the section so that we could plow a hedge row, hedges being at that time in great favor. Certain farmers near Fort Scott made a specialty of planting hedge seed and selling hedge plants in great numbers for hedges. I had set out on Deer creek claim along side of my cornfield enough seed to make hedge plants to go around the section.

     I forgot to say that during the summer of 1868 my brother Robert came down to see me and I took him over to show him "SunGold Section." We rode over in a farm wagon, took blankets and horse feed and determined to stay all night and carefully inspect the land. As we got to the hill on the section, it began to rain. We took off our wagon box, inverted it upon the ground and, tying our horses to the wheels of our wagon, we got under our wagon bed to keep out of the rain and we ate our lunch lying down while it was raining. It was only a passing shower, but before it was over we became aware that we were down over several nests of big, fierce, black ants. It got so we could not stand it any longer so we peeled off our clothes threw them under the wagon bed and danced around in the rain and got rid of the ants. When the rain was over, the ground being soaking wet, we concluded to go back home and come again.

     Late in 1869 1 went back to Fort Scott and went to work at the


harness business. I was by this time made over. I had long since stopped drinking Doctor Nassau's prescription. I was a new man. I had none of the thoughts or ideas which I formerly had. I did not feel the same way, think the same way, nor act as if I were the same person. I had lived one life and was now living an entirely different one, as much so as if I were an entirely different individual. I had different view of things, different aspirations, different taste for reading, society and work. We arranged to be down on the farm, my two brothers and I, on the first of March in 1870. My brother, Charlie, went to school during the winters. My brother Robert was a skillful saddle hand and worked off and on as he pleased and kept a separate business account of his own. His claim was the northwest quarter. We started in the spring of 1870, two or three days late, from Fort Scott, came down to Bone creek to camp, intending to reach the farm by supper time. We were a little delayed and did not get to "Sun-Gold Section" until about the third or fourth of March and it was about 8 o'clock at night. Coming on to the land at night, we found a hedge row twenty feet wide broken around the section and we heard a crowd of men driving off in a team laughing and shouting. We did not understand it until morning. We found our house opened and some cooking utensils and bedding there in the house which somebody had left. In the morning we found a little box shanty about ten feet square had been erected on my brother Robert's quarter, near the northwest corner, and about five acres of land broken on it. On the southwest quarter was another little house. We were armed with my Colt cavalry revolvers and a shot gun. In the morning I had my father and two brothers get into the wagon and we went over to the shanty on the southwest quarter and found a man in there with a trunk, Dutch bake oven, food supplies and a horse tied to a knothole in the shanty. A pile of straw was in front of it. Upon inquiry as to what he was doing there, he said he had taken the quarter section and that he and his crowd, which he said consisted of ten men, had taken charge of the section. When I told him that it was our section, he said that our rights had lapsed; that we had not been on it long enough and had been away too long. I told him that he could not come and take our property in that way and that he would have to get off from the place. He said that he did not propose to get off from it and would stay by his claim. Thereupon, I covered him with a revolver; ordered my brothers and father to untie the horse; push the house over and load it up into the wagon.


This they did. The house came apart in a very convenient way. I turned the halter strap of his horse over to him and told him to pack his things upon it and move. He was very mad and declined to do anything and then I told him that I would march him off from the section and this I did and I turned his horse loose and off it started on the run down Cherry creek, and was soon out of sight and the fellow was on foot. I then let him go and told him that if I saw him on the claim again he would have a shooting match.

     Having unloaded his shanty at the center of the section, we then started over to see the man at the northwest corner. As we got near the house he stepped out of the door of the shanty with a double barrelled shotgun loaded and cocked, and he covered us. I told my brother Robert to get around on the other side of him and I told the man that he could get one of us, but could not get both of us. He backed into the door and we got on both sides of the house. We determined that we would stay with him and not let him get out of the house. So two of us constantly watched the house each with a revolver and he stayed in it. Two or three persons came up to see him, but we told them that they could not see him. We expected that if there were ten men, they would rally and make us trouble. So we kept the shot-gun in readiness at our own house and two constantly stayed around the claim jumper's shanty. We did not of course walk around close to the shanty but we walked around outside of effective range of his shotgun and he knew that if he fired we would begin throwing bullets through his shanty. Several persons came by and we told them all how things were and they all sided with us; and being an old soldier I had the full sympathy of the old soldiers, and finally one of them said he would go and raise some men to help me. After three days of siege, the occupant must have felt a little bit as if he were on the wrong side. I hailed him; went to the door at evening and told him that I would have a posse up there in the morning and that he might have a great deal of trouble. I told him that the old soldiers of the club would not permit me to fail in getting him.

     The man was perhaps hungry and thirsty but he was still defiant. We were pretty well used up ourselves and when darkness came we slipped off home to get a square meal and some sleep. I concluded that night that the thing to do was to go and make him get right out of the house and make him get off of the land. So in the morning we drove on over and he saw us coming, and shouldering his shotgun he left the house and walked off a distance from it. We had an axe.


We loosened up his house; then we took all of his household stuff, loaded it in the wagon and hauled it across the freshly plowed furrow line to the adjoining section and dumped it there for him. Then we went back and loaded up his house and took it to the center and made a hencoop of it. Off and on, that summer, owing to the breaking of the hedge row and the garden spot and the house, the claim became an object of envy and we kept finding claim stakes stuck up on the land from time to time all summer. It would appear that they came at night and stuck them up so as to have a talking point in case they could get sufficient strength to take the claim by force.

     During the summer of 1870 I broke out with two spans of mules about forty acres around the center of the section, hauled a lot of posts from down on the Lightning and Neosho and made a grazing corral and built a stable partly of sod, corn stalks and poles. My brothers, Charley, Robert and I kept alternating from Deer creek place and trying to sell it out. We claimed that Deer creek place belonged to our mother, and that "Sun-Gold Section" belonged to myself, father and two brothers. Women, under the club law, could hold claims.

     In the fall of 1870 I thought that I had arranged to sell the Deer creek land, but we kept cultivating it all of the time. It finally got to the point that unless somebody came down and stayed on the land and represented the quarters that it would be lost. So my father and mother and two brothers determined to come down. There had been a great deal of litigation over the land as to whether the railroad was entitled to it or not. The railroad offered to sell it and give titles. We did not care to make an out and out purchase of the land from the railroad for two reasons; one was that the litigation was not yet settled, and second that ugly feuds had grown up regarding what the settlers should do. So we compromised the matter by giving a secured note for $300 payable to litigation committee in case they should win. That made them feel all right. I made application to the railroad company for an assignment of land to us providing they should win. I have forgotten the railroad price. It is shown in the deed. When it was noised about that I had arranged with a railroad company to take the land if they won, a great deal of trouble arose. I was at a political convention at Columbus in the fall of 1870, Columbus being then a mere hamlet. My seat was challenged in the convention because I had agreed to recognize the railroad company if it won; the idea being that the people on the


land should have an armed fight if they did not win. Shortly before that time, when I was down at Deer creek, I had gone to see Captain Warren, and going back, at a long distance I noticed a long file of men on horseback. They disappeared and I did not understand what was the matter until I arrived at my shanty and found a card up on my door telling me that they had come to hang me, but had not found me in and that if I did not get out of the country and never come back, they would return and carry out their purpose. In the meantime the railroad was building down through the country and I had a very fine market for everything. I made money and put in improvements in the shape of fencing; barbed wire fencing had not then been developed but telegraph wire was used instead. I had hired a man to haul me down a wagon load of telegraph wire from Kansas City.

     Late in 1870, having corresponded considerably in the columns with the Fort Scott Monitor, Gov. Samuel J. Crawford asked me to come up and go on the paper and assist in the editing of it, having heard of my Hawk Eye experience. At this time I was in the most perfect health. I was around helping at thrashing and stacking and found that I could throw down almost any man in the whole neighborhood. One week I was engaged in stacking prairie hay and stacked eighty tons, so that when I left the farm I had absolutely recovered and was absolutely a new man.

     My father sold the Deer creek farm claim for $1,500 with the crop on it and the black walnut house that was "mortised into the earth." The little claim house at the center of "Sun-Gold Section" was moved up on the hill. My father and two brothers moved into it and put on an addition. Money came in right along and the section was claimed by my father, mother and two boys.

     Father became very popular and they wanted to run him for the legislature, and although I had no title at that time we were never disturbed. I afterwards bought out my brother Robert's interest and mother's interest which in fact belonged to me, which made me one-half owner. I afterwards bought out Charlie's interest and afterwards father's interest. I was making money all of the time in Fort Scott and father was constantly losing money in speculation. But afterwards, he having to move to Fort Scott in 1885, where mother could receive good care and treatment, and the title being finally adjusted, the renting of the farm began.

     While I was down in Cherokee county during 1867, '68, '69 and '70, 1 had read law and practiced law. The first will on record in


the county I drew. When I went to Fort Scott I took some additional studies and was admitted there to the bar in 1871. 1 had a gun and a pointer dog and whenever I wanted a quail or prairie chicken, all I had to do was to step out and get one. Hunting and fishing were good.

     I was soon well established in the law business in Fort Scott, and in the fall of 1874 was married in Rochester, N. Y., and my new wife and I went down to the farm about November 1 of that year with my sister, Mrs. McComas, and her children, and the whole family had a royal time for about a week.


     1. This paper, giving an account of Mr. Ware's early experiences in Kansas, was written some years before his death. Through the courtesy of his children it is here published for the first time.

     Eugene Fitch Ware was born at Hartford, Conn., May 29, 1841. While still a boy his parents moved to Burlington, Iowa. He enlisted in the First Iowa infantry at the beginning of the war and subsequently served successively in the Fourth Iowa cavalry and the Seventh Iowa cavalry, being mustered out as captain. In 1867 he came to Kansas and took land in Cherokee county, where, in addition to farming, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1871. He edited the Fort Scott Monitor in 1872 and the next year opened a law office in Fort Scott. It was also at this time that he began writing poetry under the name "Ironquill." He was married to Miss Jeanette S. Huntington, of Rochester, N. Y., in 1874. He was active in politics, being twice elected to the state senate, and in 1888 he was presidential elector-at-large for Kansas. In 1893 Mr. Ware moved to Topeka, joining the firm of Gleed & Gleed, and in 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him United States commissioner of pensions. On retiring from this position in 1905 he returned to Topeka, resuming the practice of law. In 1907 he moved to Kansas City, and formed a law partnership with his son. In the spring of 1911 he retired to his farm and on July 1 of that year he died at Cascade, Colo.

     See "Eugene Fitch Ware," by C. S. Gleed, Kansas Historical Collections, v. 13, pp. 19-41; "Acceptance [of Bronze Bust of Mr. Ware] on Behalf of the Historical Society," by William E. Connelley, ibid., pp. 42-51; "Eugene Fitch Ware as a Literary Man," by C. E. Cory, ibid., pp. 52-64; "Eugene Ware," by Judge J. S. West, ibid., pp. 65-71.

Go to previous article     Go to next article     Go to cover page for this issue     Go to KHQ main page