At KanColl, we are very blessed with contributors who have shared so much with us. We wanted to highlight for you four recent additions to KanColl that are each in their own way extraordinary.
Mitzi Bateman volunteered a 63-page memoir written by her relative Watson Stewart, who along with Miriam Davis Colt (Went to Kansas), helped start the Vegetarian Settlement in Allen County. Mr. Stewart gives this account of a story included in the Andreas/Cutler's History of the State of Kansas:
Captain Newman’s company was placed down on Big Creek, to act as scouts in that direction. Major Haas, who was in command of the Volunteer force at the Post, was ordered to furnish rations for the Militia, which; for a time, he did; but finally refused to issue to Captain Newman's company, unless it was brought to Humboldt, in fact, he wanted to take command of the Militia, but this, the Militia resented as we were not ordered to report to him. We claimed to be under our own officers. The Commissary stores were kept in the Lutheran Church in the East part of town, in charge of a sergeant.
Gary Entz not only contributed a copy of a small book about Kansas that he'd found, Rosie Clem Maxton's The Last One -- he typed the book for us, since it was in too poor a condition to scan! As Gary describes the memoir, "this is the story of her life starting in 1861 as one of thirteen settlers heading for Cherokee County, Kansas, and ends in1932 as she lamented being the last surviving member of her pioneer band." The book is full of wonderful reminiscenses of beginning a new life in early-day Kansas:
About this time father became restless again and began talking and planning to go to the Neutral Country, now the state of Kansas, where he could secure government land by staking a claim and building a home. My mother was very much opposed to the move. She felt she could not bear to leave her old home and loved ones and friends, so dear, and go so far away into a new and unsettled country. However, my father was determined it was best to make the move. He made a hurried trip to the new country where he staked a claim on one hundred sixty acres of ground, cutting a few logs and piling them up to try to hold it, but failing to file papers. He rushed back home with enthusiastic and glowing accounts of the wonderful new land to be secured for the taking, induced mother to consent to the move. So the first of March, 1866, they loaded up their belongings, or that part of them they felt advisable to take with them and started on the trail to the neutral land. Our little caravan consisted of three or four covered wagons, part of which were drawn by oxen, and part by horse team. Those poor patient, slowly-creeping oxen, how well I remember them. They were Buck and Berry, Duck and Dime, Turk and Paddy; wonderful big fine animals. We had one horse team and about three horses which we led, tied to the back of the wagons. Our party consisted of my father and mother and we five children, Dan, John, Ray, Florence and myself, and a young man named Jeff Carback, also a young married man by the name of Walter Lane, known as Walt Lane, who, leaving his bride with her parents, decided to go with us and build a home to which he would bring her later. This made a party of nine from our Iowa community. A few days before we reached our destination we fell in company with a widow lady, Mrs. Saphrona Peters, with her two sons, Arelious V. Peters, known as A. V. 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.
Kerry Sipe offered us a copy of his father's memoirs, who grew up in Kansas during the Dust Bowl days. A gifted writer, Winton Slagle Sipe mixed humor and shap insight and Kansan practicality in his stories, such as this one about an early introduction to alcohol:
One time, the first summer we lived there, he was bottling a batch of beer. Willis and I were helping him. He had set the beer to work off in a canyon about a half mile from the house. He had a small rubber tube, which was used to siphon the beer out of the jar into the bottles. This prevented the beer from foaming up in the bottles. We had taken three cases of bottles with us when we went to the canyon. Upon arriving there, Charlie started the siphon hose and left Willis and I to fill the bottles while he went back to the house for more bottles and the bottle capper. When he got back to the house, someone was there, and he was detained. We finished filling the bottles and sat for a long time, holding the hose with our fingers to prevent it losing its prime. This soon became tiresome, so we lay down on our backs with our heads on each other's shoulders. One of us would hold the hose clamped shut with our teeth for awhile, then pass it to the other. Each time we passed it, we would get a mouthful of beer. After passing it a couple of times, we started taking a draw or two on it every little bit, just to make sure it was still working. When Chuck got back, he found two mighty happy boys. We finally got the beer bottled and carried it to the barn. Charlie wanted it hidden in the hay in the loft. Dad was working in the grain bins next to the barn and heard us and came to see what we were doing. When he saw the condition Willis and I were in, Will “talked to” all three of us! That afternoon, neither Willis nor I could stand up because of the size of our heads or sit down because of the condition of the other end. We decided then that, concerning drink, the fun while you was was not worth the misery while you wasn't.
John McDermid had been working on the transcription of the Andreas/Cutler's History of the State of Kansas and thought Robert Condon Stone's remembrances might be of interest to us. Robert Condon Stone, "the Osage Muse," told this story about the turmoil in Kansas just prior to and during the Civil War:
My father was in the Militia: my three brothers in the U. S. army. One had lately been brought home sick. My father came by our home only to tell us that Price was coming and he and his company were ordered to Fort Scott to help defend it as it was thought that Price might try to capture it. He just stopped long enough to tell us and then had to go on. Well, I was in my 15th year, had had no experience with war, but with the advice of my mother and sister, I took a span of very fine mares which we had and went about one half mile across the river and into what we called the big thicket. This is on the north side of the Mike Devereant farm, next to the river. Well, I rode as far as I could , then got off and led until I got way back next to the bluff and at a place that no one could scarce get through unless they were frightened. Now just as I left home I could see the Rebs coming over the hill where Kelley's now live. Well I got just as far as could get and into just as thick a corpse of brush; how I wished it was thicker. Well I tied the horses and went on a little farther, perhaps a hundred yards. Well I didn't have to wait long for the show, for the screen was up though. I didn't object to that, not me. Well soon I could hear shouts of men. Men crossing the river and turning to the right and to the left of where I was and making there way through the woods to the open prairie to the south. Now there was no regular river crossing there, it was just a riffle where stock could cross, it was about three quarters of a mile east to where wagons could get across. I think it was about half past ten when the fighting began. Volley after volley, and then later, well just like corn popping. I just thought, Oh! my, there will be thousands killed. "Scared?", no I wasn't scared. I was just demoralized. Now what I thought was, if I had only a hole real good and deep that I could crawl into and then pull the hole in after me then there might be some chance. But, well, I lived through it and about sundown when the noise and shooting had all stopped I slipped out of my hiding place.
We are so grateful to Mitzi, Gary, Kerry, and John for sharing these remembrances with us, and we hope you will enjoy reading about the lives of these four very different people as much as we did!