Contributed by JOHN RAGLE.

The Ragle Letters, contributed by John Ragle

Letters of Alonzo O. Ragle

Studio photograph of Alonzo, with clear eyes and a long dark beard     Alonzo O. Ragle was born on June 16, 1837 in the Village of Sanford (later given a U. S. Postal Service Office and renamed Raglesville), Daviess County, Indiana, and died on January 30, 1906 in Raglesville, Indiana. He was the sixth born of fourteen children of Peter Ragle and Margaret Ragle nee Wadsworth. Alonzo Ragle grew up in the settlement of Raglesville. His wife, Susan Ellen Toon, was born January 4, 1839 in Martin County, Indiana, and died in Toronto, Kansas on July 27, 1889 at the age of 51 yrs 6m, 23 days. She was the daughter of William Toon and Mary C. Toon, nee Edmonson. She and Alonzo were married on June 10, 1858.

     The couple had 10 children. Birth records for these children are not available, as the State of Indiana did not begin keeping such records until much later, but on later census records (e.g., in Colorado for 1910) the birthplace for all is shown as the Raglesville area in Indiana.

     In the early 1880's Alonzo Ragle and his family moved from Indiana to Woodson County, Kansas. On March 4, 1882, Alonzo and Susan bought the NE quarter and the west half of Section 21, Twp 24 Range 14 of Woodson County. On October 8, 1885, they purchased the remaining quartersection, the SE quarter of Section 21, Twp 24S of Range 14E of Woodson County. The farm was located just north of the centerpoint of a line drawn connecting Virgil and Yates Center.

     The farm is described in a 20 page "Handbook of Woodson County, Kansas," which urged people to settle in Woodson County, Kansas. Since this handbook includes a description of the 1882 purchase but not the 1885 purchase, we may conclude that it was written in that interval, and certainly before the farm's sale in 1888.

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Editorial Notes From the Beautiful Neosho and Verdigris Valleys.

Woodson County

A Country of Peerless Gasses, Splendid Grain Fields,
Fruitful Orchards, Noble Herds and Inviting Homes.
Two miles higher up the creek [the creek is "Turkey Creek," and the location is roughly ten miles northwest of Yates Center] is the 520 acre 'Longview' farm of Alonzo Ragle. It is mainly high, rolling prairie, with 200 acres in cultivation, and has buildings and fences worth $ 6000. Mr. Ragle purchased this handsome farm last year, in time to raise 6,000 bushels of corn and 600 bushels of oats, and to cut 50 tons of millet and 300 tons of hay. He keeps a herd of 500 graded sheep [Merino sheep, which produced a high-quality wool], 25 cattle and a good string of pigs; has a beautiful home, commanding extended and inspiring views of the surrounding country, hails from Indiana, is a number one man, and is greatly pleased with the country. Next on the south of Mr. Ragle is 'Fairview' the 240 acre prairie farm of Alfred A. Keck. He, too, is a newcomer from Indiana, and like his old friend and neighbor Ragle…"

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     On the same page (page 10), we read "Mr. James Trueblood, (c) an intelligent and liberal minded Hoosier, has an exceptionally rich bottom land farm of eighty acres, on the creek ["Duck Creek," a bit further to the west], …"

     One recalls the Indiana connections with the family of this name...e.g. Jacob Ragle, Alonzo's older brother, was married to Samantha Keck, Nancy Ragle, Alonzo's younger sister, was married to John Keck, Mary M. Ragle, another younger sister of Alonzo, was married to Henry Keck, etc.) Also, Susannah Ragle, Alonzo's younger sister, married a James Trueblood and the couple went to the 'Indian Territory' in 1873, where they lived for 12 years then moved to Iowa. It seems very likely that this is the same person.

     Alonzo and Susan were apparently prospering at the farm. However, on February 10, 1888 they sold all of Section 21 Twp 24 Range 14E, 640 acres, to E. B. Rall. One reason for the sale might be "The Great 4th of July Hailstorm" in which many of Alonzo's merino sheep were killed. Another cause may have been impending changes in the tariff laws which precipitously lowered the selling price of fine wool.

Susan sitting at a table covered with a cotton large-checked cloth, and a stack of books     The loss of sheep to a hailstorm was followed by another, most serious disaster. One of the children, Horace, came home with the measles, which swept through the entire family. Susan Ellen was a diabetic, and an infected foot stemming from the measles soon spread to gangrene in her leg. An attempt to save her life by amputation of the gangrenous limb was a failure, and she died on August 15, 1889. Her death is recorded as caused by blood poisoning, a "settling of the measles." Life was hard! Susan's sister died on the prairie as well, somewhat to the southeast of KS. Her death was apparently of cholera.

     After Susan's death, the youngest members of the family remained in the area until after Alonzo's death in 1906. The older boys stayed in the area or harvested, the young ones stayed with the older ones, and Alonzo returned to Martin County, Indiana, where he died at the end of January, 1906.

Notes are provided about each letter at the end of the
correspondence, and are marked within each letter as an alphabetic
character in parentheses, for example, (a).

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Letter dated 11th 29th 1897 (i.e. November 29, 1897)

James R. Peden & Co.
General Commission Merchants,
Game, Butter, Eggs, Poultry, Hides, Furs, Etc.
Kansas City, Mo.

Nathan dear son I am now at Nats in Elnory (a), Ind. I was so porley in KC. and I had no place to stay to have any comfort I thought I would visite hear this winter and maybe I would get stouter I have saw all the conection but Nancy (b) at Bloomington I will go their tomorrow[.] Brother Nate (c) is doing better than any of them Will Toon (d) next Mart Keller (e) is not doing much Pete (f) is hard upon is runing a Hotell I will visite a few days with Nancy at Bloomington will go back to Nats and stay with him this winter until Feb. then go south Write me at Montgomry (g) Ind

A Ragle


(a) Elnora was laid out September 25, 1885. There had been previously a postoffice and two or three stores on this site for some time. The postoffice was called Owl Prairie, but the hamlet was called Owltown. The PO name was officially changed on January 1, 1886. ("History of Knox and Daviess County, IN" by Goodspeed) Elnora is a few miles west-northwest of Raglesville. Apparently Alonzo was picking up his mail in Montgomery even though he was visiting Nat(e) in Elnora.

(b) Probably Nancy Keck nee Ragle, Alonzo's sister younger by about 2 years, who was married to John Keck.

(c) N. S. Ragle, b. 1847, d. Mar. 17, 1914. m. to Mary M. Carpenter. Buried in Raglesville Cemetery. I have not seen his middle name spelled out, but presume that it is also Shumate, as he refers to the Reverend Nathan as his "namesake." There are references to Nathan Shumate as a famous Methodist preacher.

(d) William Toon Sr. is the father of Susan Ellen Toon, born in 1783 in KY. His son William was born on March 29, 1844. Although some of the Toons lived past 100, this Will Toon is probably not Susan's father.

(e) There is no record of Kellers in the family tree, but a Mary Keller figures in the establishment of Depauw Chapel.

(f) Doubtless Alonzo's younger brother Peter, b. June 5, 1845, d. December 19, 1918, m. July 16, 1865 to Martha Trueblood. Martha is buried in Raglesville cemetery.

(g) Montgomery, IN is a small settlement about 10 miles south-southwest of Raglesville, not to be confused with the county of the same name 100 miles to the north-northwest.

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Letter dated Montgomry Ind Dec 13th 1897

Nathan dear son your resived To day I took diner with Murphy Him and Nate is not good frinds[.] about as not to be allways quarling Their old church is all tore up I have been all around John Toon (a) is still geting drunk 2 of his boys married fine strongs girls[.] Mart Keller is not doing much good Lush Toon (b) is still on the old place a breathing Henry Keck (c) is about broke up has 8 children at home and 4 in Chickago Dick Trublood (d) is verry poore Nancy (e) and John Keck are runing a bording house doing farley well Brother Pete has lost (f) his farms and is in Elnoria keeping borders

Brother Robert (g) has a hard time lost all his children but Heth and Marry (h) Nancy (g) has been helpless for 3 year W L Sturm (i) just about the same as when we left hear Burns City is quiet a place the church (j) is not doing any good dont have preaching regular have no members to keep it up Raglesvill in the same condition The people have lost confidence in Tom Wadsworth (k) and he dont preach much He is going from place to place making Popolis [this is probably Populist] speeches

It is damp and raining hear and has been for a week I am all most tired of the mud

My health is verry poore can hardley get about I thought if it would clear up and I got to feeling better I would go to John [not completely legible -- looks like "Birchs"] and spend a week I think Will and Fread have about run the store out (l) by what they write Bob (m) is still at Burdett Ks[.] I am to go south in Feb if well I long for Feb to com as I have better health south May the Lord bless you

Your loving father



(a) Presumably John G. Toon, born April 22, 1836, son of William and Mary Edmondson Toon.

(b) Presumably Lucian Toon, born October 26, 1830, son of William and Mary Edmondson Toon.

(c) Presumably Henry Keck, genealogy unknown, married to Mary M. Ragle.

(d) Presumably Richard Trueblood, genealogy unknown, married to Margaret Ragle.

(e) Nancy Keck nee Ragle.

(f) I have no record telling why Peter Ragle may have lost his land.

(g) The reference is to Alonzo's older brother Robert Ragle, b. April 03, 1832, d. August 23, 1901, m. Nancy Richardson,b. November 14, 1834, d. April 18, 1898. The children to which Alonzo refers are: Hayden Hayes Ragle d. November 19, 1891; Nannie Ragle, d. August 02, 1891; Margaret Ragle, d. as a young unmarried woman, date unknown.

(h) Het and Marry: Hester and Mary M. Ragle, children of Robert Ragle and Nancy Ragle nee Richardson. Hester married a Trueblood, and Mary M. Ragle married George M. Stoy on July 4, 1888.

(i)This may refer to Lowrey Sturm, one of the participants in the establishment of Depauw chapel.

(j) According to records, Alonzo and Peter gave land to the church in Burns City, and the church was originally called DePauw Chapel.

(k) I don't imagine this refers to Thomas Wadsworth, father of Margaret (Peggy) Wadsworth, but rather to a son or grandson of this particular Tom Wadsworth.

(l) reference note (b) -- "Presumably Lucian Toon, born October 26, 1830, son of William and Mary Edmondson Toon."

(m) This is Robert Lucian Ragle, b. August 20, 1873, d. May 06, 1950, m. March 06, 1899 to Clara Viola Garrison, b. March 28, 1877, d. July 25, 1955. Both are buried in Colorado Springs, CO.

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Letter dated Elnora Ind 1st and 31st 1898 (i.e. January 31, 1898)

Nathan dear son yours received I am still at Elnora They have just closed their meeting 53 accessions They dont have meetings like they ust to have hear never heard a shout in the camps in the 4 weeks that they run They have a good preacher his name is Allan He read your sermon says you had good thought and had a bright future before you and I aught to be proud of you which I are My [prayer] is that you will suckseede.

Preach Christ and him crusifide I belive in the old time religion and want to see coverts able to tell what crist has done for them When a siner resives pardon he knows it and the preacher dont have to tell them He will tell it him self I not hear one of their 50 converts give god the praise I writen to Will (a) to get you a suite of close and to write you if he could do it He was to send me $25 this mounth has not don it yet and for him to give it to you if he could you write him and find out if he could do it and if sow you go up and get it I will try and help you son when I get my pension That is all I have got now

Will has about run through (b) with all the balents

I dont know when I will leave hear Have not heard from Peter (c) for some time

Write soon

Yours A Ragle


(a) This must refer to William Eugene Ragle, son of Alonzo and Susan, b. November 25, 1866, d. February 06, 1944, m. Etta Catherine Black. Both are buried in Los Angeles, CA. They are the parents of Harold Eugene Ragle, M.D. who wrote a pamphlet on the Ragle family.

(b) As nearly as I can figure out, this must refer to selling off the inventory of the Ragle store in Quincy. There is another allusion to this in this letter.

(c) This is a peculiar statement: according to the 1900 census, Peter lived in Elnora. He must have been away for an extended period.

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Letter dated [Rudy] Ark 5th and 8th 1898

Nathan S dear son

Since I heard from you I have saw lots of the country I staid som 3 weeks near the coast Taken a tripe on the water of the Gulf of Mexico to see if I could fight the Spanish on the Water I wish to be excused as it made me see sick Fread has enlisted in Co. C. 3. Reg. Mo. Vol. went to Jefferson Baracks yesterday Carrie write me that Horrace (a) has enlisted but she thinks he will be rejected I am afraide before it is ended we will have to fight prety near all urope My health is very poore am afraid I will have to give up my Job How are you geting along I have an old book that I got at Nats last winter one of old man Carpenters (b) 150 years old I aimed to send it to you It is a grand thing ] the writers metitations amoung the tombs would give you some ideas and [this is on a paper fold and is nearly illegible. It could be "son the Gospel Judgment"] is grand Write me soon


A Ragle


(a) It is possible that Horace Mann Ragle already had symptoms of the diabetes from which he suffered, although he was active in the Colorado National Guard somewhat later in life.

(b) This is probably the father of Mary M. Carpenter, the wife of Nathan S. Ragle the elder.

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Letter dated: at Lush Toons 9 & 16 1900

Dear Children I have saw most of the Relations They are all well They have a fine corn crop hear but no wheate it has been very hot hear scince I got hear thermometer 100 My health is much better than when I left Colo Springs

The Rebulicans are jubliert Say they will carriy Ind by 25000 to 50000 vots Their is a big yellow spider spining webbs in different parts of the stats and spelling McKinley and Rosefelts names planley Their is several of them in Washington and Montgomery I distrusted untill I saw and was converted I am going to Nats to day write me at Montgomry Ind

I said at start that all is well Lushes Magn is just able to be on her feete She will not live long Rhoda says send her love to you Says she allways loved you I supose Nate is gone home by this time Did he get any stouter Write soon I will go to see Peter some time this week yours

A Ragle

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Letter dated: Burns City Ind 12 and 4 1905 (i.e. December 4, 1905)

dear son N S your Thanksgiven leter resived I feel like it is the last thankgiven day that I will ever see in this life I am faling fast not able to be about Have hart trouble so bad that I cant scarsley be on my feete Molley (a) has to do the feeding and make fires My kidneys is hurting me moor than ever Pass moore than a quart of blood in 24 hours It has been cool hear for several day but warmer to day I would be glad to see you but we are far a part if we dont see each other any moore in this life I hoope to meete you whear we will never be sepprated in that sweete by and by I am trying to right The people hear are not like they ust to be most all for selfe The churches are not doing any good they are running a meeting at Raglesville but cant get a congeration have run fo 3 weeks and havent made a moave yet No members scarsley any moore write soon

A Ragle

PS I got a leter from Will He says they are well but he never hears from any of his bros

His adress is [Leo?ie, I T] (b)


(a) "Molley" is doubtless Anna Mary (aka Mollie) Ragle, b. March 29, 1876, d. June 21, 1931, m. December 18, 1922 to Rollo Beach.

(b) "Indian Territory" later becomes Oklahoma. I don't find any particularly good match for the letters in Alonzo's post-script amongst the modern town names in OK. There is, however, a town in western Kansas called Leote.

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Contents     Jacob's Letters [Next]

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