Kancoll: The Kansas Historical Quarterlies

Bypaths of Kansas History

November, 1937 (vol. 6, no. 4), pages 394 to 403.
Transcribed by lhn; digitized with permission of
the Kansas State Historical Society.


     From The Democratic Platform, Liberty, Mo., July 13, 1854.

     A. Guthrie, the individual that was so badly beaten for delegate to congress from Kansas, has been writing abolition letters east, encouraging his brethren to come to Kansas. Citizens of Kansas, we are opposed to the "lynch law." We would hate to see an American citizen hung without the "benefit of the clergy" or a jury. But is there not some way to punish this traitor? Is dooming too good for him? We merely ask the question!


     From the Rocky Mountain News, Cherry Creek, K. T., May 14, 1859.

     On Saturday evening last-7th inst: two coaches, the first of the "Leavenworth and Pike's Peak Express," arrived in our city, having made the trip in nineteen days, bringing news from the states down to the 18th ult.;_ also nine through passengers.

     This is the beginning of the stupendous enterprise undertaken by the above named express company-the making of a new road, over a comparatively unknown country, and immediately stocking it with a working force of men, animals and wagons, sufficient to forward with promptness and dispatch a daily mail and passenger coach from each end of the line. The coaches which we have seen are the very best of Concord coaches, finished in the best style, and perfectly new, having never turned a wheel until their departure from Leavenworth.

     We are indebted to B. D. Williams, Esq., the very able and efficient superintendent, who had sole charge of this pioneer company, and the location of the road and stations, for the following outline of the company's operations, and description of the route

     They started, March 28th and April 1st, a large train of wagons carrying material, camps and supplies for establishing stations on the route. These stations are established at intervals of twenty-five miles after passing Junction City, 135 miles out, to thin place. Each station is supplied with tents (soon to be replaced by houses) sufficient to accommodate all the employees and passengers, and occupied by a man and his family-a new feature, and a decided improvement over most stage stations on the plains.

     The road, after passing Fort Riley, follows an entirely new route, all the way, keeping along the divide between the Republican and Solomon's forks of Kansas river, crossing the heads of the tributaries of the latter named fork for some distance, then bearing a little northward, crossing the heads of Prairie Dog, Sappa and Crammer creeks, tributaries of the Republican, and striking that river near the mouth of Rock creek, between longitude 101 and 102 degrees; it then follows the south side of the Republican to a point near its source, thence striking due west it crosses the heads of Beaver, Bijou and



Kiowa creeks, tributaries of the Platte, passing through a beautiful pine country for sixty miles, and striking Cherry creek twenty miles above its mouth.

     The whole length of the road is 687 miles by odometer measurement, but it will probably be shortened 75 miles by cut-offs in various places-one very considerable one at thin end, terminating the road directly at the mouth of Cherry creek. The road throughout its whole length is good when broken and traveled, but the coaches that have just arrived made the first track over it. Water is found at convenient intervals throughout the whole distance; also abundance of wood, except for about 150 miles along the Republican, where it is somewhat scarce. The road throughout its whole length is between tat. 39 deg. 30 min. and 40 deg. north.

     The company have 52 coaches, one of which will leave each end of the route each day, except Sunday, at six a. m., and make the trip in ten to twelve days.

     They will also dispatch from Leavenworth every ten days a freight and provision train to distribute supplies to the several stations and keep a large stock on sale at this place.

     In addition to the passenger business, a money, package and letter express will be carried at reasonable rates, and after the first of June next a regular United States mail.

     John S. Jones, Esq., is the resident agent at Leavenworth, Dr. J. M. Fox, at Cherry Creek, and Nelson Sergeant, Esq., is route agent on the western division of 150 miles.

     By the energy of this company a new route is marked out for the emigrant across the plains, one that can be followed without the risk of starvation and lingering death which so many unfortunate victims have met on the Smokyhill route this spring.


From the White Cloud Kansas Chief, November 5, 1863. Sam Wood's paper comes to us generally directed: "White Cloud Thief." We must acknowledge that is exceedingly smart.


     From the Hays City Sentinel, January 12, 1877.

     The following interesting description of a wedding down in the Russian settlement on Big Timber was furnished us by one of our citizens who was present.

     "The wedding of Johannes Schaefer to Rosa Draher took place at 11 o'clock a. m., Tuesday last, in Liebenthal, Father Sommereisen officiating; and was celebrated in the real old country style, which is decidedly unique, and will be of interest to those who have never witnessed it.

     "After the ceremonies the bride returns to her parents and the groom to his; and then the preparations for the wedding festivities commence. During the afternoon the father of the groom selects two of his intimate friends, whose duty it is to visit each house and extend an invitation to the coming festivities. At each house they make a long speech, in rhyme, picturing in glowing colors the pleasures of the coming frolic, such as good edibles, consist


ing of meats, cakes, etc.; that they shall have plenty to drink and smoke, and the best of music. At each house fancy colored ribbons are tied to the walking sticks of the two visitors and they are treated to the best the house can afford.

     "In the evening all the young and unmarried folks collect and have a dance. The musicians always play free of charge for this dance; but are well supplied with wine, whisky, etc. This closes the first day.

     "The next morning the bridegroom, accompanied by the friends of the newly married pair, proceed to the house of the bride, when she comes forth, and from thence the procession, preceded by music and men and boys with muskets, etc., passes through the principal street to the house of the groom's father, and the couple receive the blessing of relatives. Thence the procession proceeds to the church where mass is read. It being now about 12 o'clock, the bridal party go to dinner-to a table laden with all the good things of the season. At the door each lady congratulates the couple; and the groom gives each guest a glass of liquor. As soon as dinner is over the room is cleared for the dance.

     "The invited guest not belonging to the village, is given the honor of dancing the first dance with the bride. As it is a custom to dance three dances in succession with the bride and three dances with the bridesmaid, to a person unacquainted with their manner of dancing this is rather too much of a good thing all at the start. The dance is kept up all night and during the next day.

     "One of the features of the dinner is the poor groom must stand shivering on the outside while the bride and guests are eating.

     "The band of music consisted of two violins, two clarionets and a trumpet, and their music was first class.

     "Schaefer, the groom, is the 17 year old son of the head man of the settlement, and is a promising boy. Rosa, the bride, is the 19 year old daughter of Schaefer's neighbor. The bride was dressed in a yellow-striped calico. I am not equal to the groom's costume. After the three days of frolic the young man takes his bride to his new home and they begin life in earnest."


     From the Dodge City Times, July 27, 1878.

     Yesterday morning about 3 o'clock this peaceful suburban city was thrown into unusual excitement, and the turmoil was all caused by a rantankerous cowboy who started the mischief by a too free use of his little revolver.

     In Dodge City, after dark, the report of a revolver generally means business and is an indication that somebody is on the war path, therefore when the noise of this shooting and the yells of excited voices rang out on the midnight breeze, the sleeping community awoke from their slumbers, listened a while to the click of the revolver, wondered who was shot this time, and then went to sleep again. But in the morning many dreaded to hear the result of the war lest it should be a story of bloodshed and carnage, or of death to some familiar friend. But in this instance there was an abundance of noise and smoke, with no very terrible results.

     It seems that three or four herders were paying their respects to the city and its institutions, and as is usually their custom, remained until about 3 o'clock in the morning, when they prepared to return to their camps. They


buckled on their revolvers, which they were not allowed to wear around town, and mounted their horses, when all at once one of them conceived the idea that to finish the night's revelry and give the natives due warning of his departure, he must do some shooting, and forthwith he commenced to bang away, one of the bullets whizzing into a dance hall near by, causing no little commotion among the participants in the "dreamy waltz" and quadrille. Policemen Earp and Masterson made a raid on the shootist who gave them two or three volleys, but fortunately without effect. The policemen returned the fire and followed the herders with the intention of arresting them. The firing then became general, and some rooster who did not exactly understand the situation, perched himself in a window of the dance hall and indulged in a promiscuous shoot all by himself. The herders rode across the bridge followed by the officers. A few yards from the bridge one of the herders fell from his horse from weakness caused by a wound in the arm which he had received during the fracas. The other herder made good his escape. The wounded man was properly cared for and his wound, which proved to be a bad one, was dressed by Dr. McCarty. His name is George Hoy, and he is rather an intelligent looking young man.


     From the Cheyenne County Rustler, Wano, October 30, 1885.

     The frisky bachelor who punches up the phosphorescent fires of the kite tail labeled a newspaper, on the eastern line of the county, had better take a dose of paragoric as a palladium for the last game of "draw" he played in the blacksmith shop, or post up on the history of the county in which he resides. This gay, loquacious, looby, who wears a brass collar made by the northwestern cattle company, for his use, prints in pica that Wano is six years old. A glance at the last biennial report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture would enlighten this modern ajax. The post office of Wano was established in 1879, one mile west of the present site. The TOWN of Wano was established April 26, 1885, and now contains over forty houses, and more than one hundred people.


     C. E. Williams, of Alton, in 1932 wrote the following interesting account of a cyclone in western Kansas.

     The morning of May 20, 1918, was a nice typical spring morning. But as the sun began to climb upward, the wind began to blow from the south, and by noon it was something of a gale. There was a smoky, hazy appearance in the sky, and the atmosphere grew sultry as evening drew on.

     The day was the first and second anniversary of the cyclone that swooped down on the little village of Codel just over the line in Rooks Co.

     This strange coincidence caused the people near the village to look on May 20 as an unlucky day.

     On this particular day, we, myself and son Luther, were out on Red Cross work. We had worked the north part of the township and by evening had got to the south side. We drove up to the residence of Frank Erway and found that gentleman hoeing potatoes. As we drove up he greeted us with the


cheering remark that "this is cyclone day and it looks like we might have another one."

     Well, we went home and thought nothing more about it. About eleven o'clock that night it was brought to our minds more vividly than we cared to have it. Our babe, a little less than a year old, was fretful and kept us awake, and a little after ten o'clock we were up with him and heard a terrible roar to the south of us. I remarked to the wife that there must be hail about two miles south.

     Had we thought it a storm, we could have gotten the family into the cave, as we had plenty of time before it struck us, but we had never run from a storm yet and we didn't think it necessary now. All of a sudden the doors slammed shut (they were all open on account of it being so sultry) and the light was blown out. That was the first twister and it took the barn and granary and scattered the debris south. I arose and opened the doors and made a light but the roar increased in volume so that I didn't go to bed at once. Instead, wife and baby got up and came into the dining room where I was, and wife said we had better go to the cave as she thought the storm too severe to risk staying in the house. I told her that if it was a cyclone we were too late, and besides I didn't like the idea of going to the cave and leaving the children upstairs. Just then I felt the floor raise and in an instant everything was blank.

     Of course it was all over in a jiffy, and when I regained consciousness I was lying on the ground with the rain pelting me on the back, and it was so dark I could not see anything only as the lightning would flash and then I could only catch a glimpse of objects for a moment.

     As it happened I was in the yard about three rods from where the house stood, and headed east.

     As soon as the wind died down enough so I could stand up, I began to look for some of the family. During a flash of lightning I saw Luther walking around looking for the rest of the children. He looked like a ghost as he moved slowly around in his night clothes. As the cold rain would revive one he would begin to make an effort to get up and Luther would see him and help him from under the wreckage.

     There were twelve of us all piled up in a bunch in a fifteen-foot circle and we were easier found than if we had been scattered out more.

     We had a brooder house dug in the ground and were piled up by it and as each one was found he was placed in it as it was cold outside in the rain.

     One of the boys was pinned down in the midst of the broken lumber and he had his collar bone broken on one side and his wrist on the other side, rendering both arms useless. One little girl had her nightgown pulled up around her head and the rain had shut off the air so much that she could hardly breathe when found. After all were located and gotten in the dugout, and a few coats and quilts were found and used to wrap up in, we were quite comfortable, though wet. Soon some of the neighbors came to look for us, as they saw the house was gone, and were surprised to find no one killed. We were taken to the neighbors and the rest of the night was spent in cleaning up and picking slivers out of our scalps and getting in some dry clothing.

     When daylight came we started out to see what the result of the storm was. We found the fences all down, our stock out in the fields, and our neighbors'


houses down the same as ours. Soon the reports began to come in of the damage to others. Here is a list of the ones that had their houses and all other buildings destroyed: D. W. Stull, S. E. Williams, Saul Stanfield, W. H. Bales, W. R. Gregory, Jesse Gregory, Mr. Mischler, R. A. Gregory.

     The following list had their barns and in some cases other buildings destroyed: D. C. Crutchfield, C. H. Stull, E. E. Gregory, J. M. Baker, B. D. Cooley, C. L. Tucker, Jesse Gregory, Elijah Smith, C. R. Bales, W. J. Hibbs, Ira Snyder, M. C. Lamm, Friends Church parsonage, Fairwest school house.

     C. H. Stull was lying a corpse in his home that night when his barn was taken. Crutchfield had a large barn and some granaries completely destroyed.

     None of the above persons had stock killed to amount to anything except C. E. Williams and Saul Stanfield. Stanfield's house was made into kindling. One of his matched roan horses was killed as well as two milk cows and some calves. The family escaped serious injury except a son who was bruised up quite a bit. He was in the graduating class of the Alton high school and his classmates brought his diploma and delivered it to him while he was still in bed recovering from his injuries. C. R. Bales' house was moved off the foundation about four or five rods and turned one-quarter way around. He tried to get out of the house while it was in motion and go to the cave but could not get the door open. A cement lid to his cistern filter was lifted and the cement cap of the cistern was dropped in the filter and the lid replaced without cracking it.

     The W. H. Bales' home was completely destroyed, outbuildings and all. Mr. and Mrs. Bales were getting along in years and lived alone. When they saw the storm approaching they went in the cellar under the house for safety, but might have been killed or seriously injured had they not crawled under a table used to'. put jars on. When the house was taken several large rocks of the foundation fell on the table they were under and all around it. W. H. had his car in the barn and it was untouched, while the barn was a total wreck. Mrs. Bales lost an eye in the storm and it was several weeks before it was found. Her son C. R. Bales was one day walking in the wheat field north of the Bales house and he accidentally stumbled on it. As he was walking along he happened to look down at his feet and there was that eye staring up at him. He picked it up and found the glass was as good as ever, so he gave it to his mother and now she can see as well as ever.

     The R. A. Gregory family saw the storm in time to get in the cave close by, and thus escaped injury, but their house and large new barn was a complete loss.

     W. R. Gregory and wife lived one-quarter mile west of R. A. Gregory. They attempted to go to the cave and while passing through the kitchen were hurled to the yard with the kitchen, and W. R. had both legs broken below the knees. One was a clean break while the other was crushed and as he was getting along in years it was a long time in knitting together. A sucking colt was more fortunate. It and its mother were running in the pasture close by and the next morning it was found in the cave W. R. tried to reach, and was unhurt.

     The cellar steps started west and then turned north. The colt made this turn and came out without a scratch.

     At Jesse Gregory's place a feather bed was sucked into a window and


lodged there and probably saved the house from going. The houses that were destroyed seemed to explode as all the sides were blown outward.

     After the storm had spent its force, Jesse and son stepped out in the yard to listen to the roar as it swept on its way, and while in that attitude they heard something fall to the ground with a thud, just a few feet away from them. On investigating they found the object to be a lamp off a Ford car. Our car was torn to pieces and one of the lamps was gone. If the lamp was off our car it was carried one and one-half miles west and one-half mile south to Jesse's place.

     The M. C. Lamm barn was blown away but left a team of horses tied to the manger unhurt. We have one of the horses now.

     It is an ill wind that blows no one some good. Ira Snyder had his barn blown away but the house was not hurt. He was away at the time but hurried home when he heard of the storm. There was an unused room to the house and the cyclone opened the door and threw a new work shirt in and closed the door. Ira never found out whose shirt it was and as it fit him he wore it.

     One of our boys found, when changing clothes, that a shingle nail had been driven through the skin of his shin just as you would stick a pin through a fold of cloth. He pulled it out with no bad effect.

     Those who saw the storm said it looked like a man's hand with the fingers all pointing down. We know there were at least two at our place although one was enough. The first one took the barn south and the next one took the house north. The near neighbors said after the first twister went through they could see our house standing, but after the second one passed they could see the house was gone and they began to investigate.

     The trend of the storm was from the southwest to the northeast, and when it left our neighborhood it seemed to raise and the next place it struck was on the river bottom where it unroofed a barn on the old Storer place. From there it raised and next came down on the north river bottom where it did some damage, but just to what extent we never knew.

     Well, this is a sort of rambling account of the storm, but if I remember right I was sort of rambling at the same time the storm was.

     As a destroying element it was a howling success, and I am satisfied with it and don't care for a repetition soon; if never it will be soon enough to suit yours truly. So far as I know it was the first and only real cyclone to ever strike our neighborhood and there may never be another one, but even now when the wind gets to howling we begin to get creepy and see that the way to the cave is clear. Many a time we have gone to the cave when it was unnecessary, and been laughed at for it, but we neglected to go once when we missed it by not going. We are like the Irishman who said "he would rather be a coward for five minutes than a corpse for the rest of his life."


     The following is a condensation of an article by Dr. E. E. Morrison published in the Great Bend Tribune, August 12, 1936. For the most part it is Doctor Morrison's own words, although in a few paragraphs his statements have been paraphrased for the sake of brevity.


     The history of medicine in Barton county begins with the history of the county. Doctors came with the first pioneers in sufficient numbers to care for the physical ailments of those who made up the first settlements. However, on account of distance, lack of roads, and poor methods of travel, many of the early settlers did not have the benefits of medical aid. Then, too, the claim holders who were subduing the raw prairies with scarcely means of sustenance, were inured to hardship. They did not seek medical aid as readily as the people of a more prosperous era.

     The first doctors were men of varied attainments. There had been little done to establish legal qualifications for the practice of medicine, and what little had been done, was not observed. Several of the individuals who practiced medicine learned something of the art while caring for the sick during epidemics, or while working in drugstores, or while assisting regular physicians. Others were attracted to medicine through the reading of medical literature. There were still others who were graduates of well established and recognized medical schools. By force of circumstances a few who knew even a little medicine were impressed into service in neighborhoods where medical attention was needed, and such service once begun, often expanded until a fairly large practice was established.

     Many times the circuit riders of yesteryear were called upon to prescribe and in other ways to assist in caring for the sick. The activities of these men were first observed during the settlement of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. They continued their work in the advancing frontier and to some extent into this section of Kansas. The rider had several communities in his circuit and preached in each at stated intervals-usually once in every two to six weeks. On Sunday he sometimes preached in three separate communities, covering considerable territory in his travels. Some of these riders carried medicine cases with them, usually well stocked with homeopathic medicines. Barton county, to the writer's knowledge, had one such practitioner.

     When medical legislation began to assume something of the form in which it now stands, a provision was made that anyone who had been in the actual practice of medicine for a period of seven years, whether he had had the benefit of medical education or not, might continue to practice his profession without challenge. At that time there were also some lax provisions concerning the registration of graduates in medicine.

     The first practitioners had a hard task. Some of them did not have the benefit of such medical training as was then available. However, they did their best and gave considerable aid to the sick. Among the early practitioners were some keen observers, and men of considerable intelligence.

     One of these was a man who came to the county from New England. He had been captain of a sailing vessel. It was said that one time a tropical disease reached epidemic proportions on his ship and the physician died. With the doctor's medical literature and medicines at hand the captain did what he could in caring for the stricken crew.

     At one time three or four men, near the present station of Millard, were playing cards in a kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. A thunder storm came up, lightning struck the stove pipe, followed it down to the stove, and struck the foot of one of the men who was sitting near it. The foot was torn open. The pious women of the neighborhood said that the event was a providential pun-


ishment for playing cards on Sunday. The members of the family dressed the foot for a long time, and then heard of the sea-faring man who knew something of medicine. They sent for him. His attention was called to the fact that the wound was filled with maggots. He said, "Let them alone. They are only carrying out the dead flesh and dead bone. They never attack anything that is living. They are the best scavengers that you can have. Let them alone." The family was astounded at the advice.

     During the World War, a well trained physician in the medical department of the United States army observed in France that the boys wounded by shell fire, who had lain in the trenches for a long time before aid could reach them, had wounds filled with maggots. He further observed that these wounds did better and that the patient made a more prompt recovery than one whose wounds had been kept clean and in which there had been no maggots.

     Today some of our manufacturers of surgical dressings provide maggots that are sterilized for the purpose of cleaning out old wounds in which there is necrotic bone tissue. We do not know whether the sea captain of pioneer days evolved the idea in his own mind or whether he had observed somewhere the same thing that fifty years later was observed by the unusual product of an eastern university.

     In Barton county, among the early settlers was a father, mother, and two or three children. At a confinement the mother developed puerperal eclampsia. She had no medical attendants. A few women of the neighborhood who were taking care of her were terrified, and helpless. They sent some distance for a man who had been a "horse doctor" in Kentucky. He came and, with an instrument which at that time was known to veterinarians as a fleam removed about a pint and a half of blood from the woman's veins, and terminated her convulsive attacks. The woman had been infected during delivery, and after several weeks died. Her coin was made of pine boards lined with cloth obtained by tearing up two black dresses that had been brought by a woman of the neighborhood from her home "back east"

     In the late 1870's or 1880's, a father living in what is now the Olmitz country, had a boy who had been bitten by a rattlesnake. It appeared that the boy was about to die. Medical aid could not be obtained. The father amputated the boy's arm, with a knife and saw. The boy recovered, grew to manhood, was engaged in business in one of our towns for a long time, and then moved to another part of the country.

     One of the early practitioners was an "army surgeon" who had served his country during the Civil War. This man when he was doing surgical work, held his knife, when not in use, by its back between his teeth. Another "army surgeon" of a nearby county used the same technique. Carl Schurz once described a visit to an army hospital after one of the great Civil War battles. He wrote of the piles of amputated arms and legs and mentioned the surgeon's practice of holding his knife between his teeth. Some of this technique was left over for Barton county. At that time a full beard was the usual adornment of the surgeon.

     In 1879, diphtheria occurred in three families living near the line between Barton and Rush counties. In one family two children died within a few days. In another three children died within six or seven days. In the other there were four deaths in one week. This was long before the days of antitoxin.


While medical aid was available only to a limited extent, there was little to be done for the disease at that time.

     In the early days it was the custom when anyone was seriously ill, for the neighbors to take up the work of caring for the sick person and to render what aid they could. Neighbors volunteered to "sit up" with the sick person during the long hours of the night. About all that they did was to give medicine at regular intervals. They had little knowledge of the many things that a trained nurse does today.

     In contagious diseases the management was the same. A number of people often came during the day and at night. And in the winter time they would sit around the stove in a closed room and visit. Usually a rapid spread of the contagion resulted. Householders having in mind only their own convenience, and not thinking of the spread of the disease, resented quarantine.

     A recent issue of the Great Bend Tribune in its items of "Fifty Years Ago," mentioned the organization of the Barton County Medical Society in Great Bend. This organization was effected by the physicians of Barton county. There were in attendance a number of physicians from surrounding counties. The official records of the medical society of this early date have vanished. However, it is probable that this organization which was perfected in 1886, was the first appearance of organized medicine in Barton county. Since that time an organization, subject to periods of little attention by the practitioners of the county, has been maintained.

     During the last thirty years it has been active and has been the cause of considerable progress. The doctors of the county have met in its sessions and have discussed mutual problems.

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