Joseph Larrick

JOSEPH LARRICK. No county in Kansas is richer in pioneer and early territorial history than Johnson County. Some of this history is reflected in the career of such a pioneer settler as Joseph Larrick, who arrived in Kansas in 1858, and spent more than half a century in Johnson County.

A native of Virginia, and a son of Jacob and Catherine (Spillman) Larrick of Frederick County, Virginia, Joseph Larrick was born February 15, 1817, and attained the remarkable age of ninety-two years, passing away at Paola March 8, 1909. He was one of a family of nine children.

When he was a youth he crossed the Allegheny Mountains and settled in Noble County, Ohio. There he married and there most of his children were born.

When he came to Kansas in 1858 he bought from the noted Indian chief, George Rogers, 400 acres of land in the Big Bull Creek Bottom of Johnson County. On the banks of that creek he put up the first grinding and saw mill in all that section of the country. It was an indispensable institution, and one of the first in the entire territory. People of modern times can hardly appreciate how much such a mill meant to the pioneers, and it is said that the patronage of the Larrick mill came from a country many miles around, even as far as from where Humboldt now stands.

Joseph Larrick and his family endured all the dangers and hardships of the border ruffian era, and of the subsequent Civil war. Soon after the outbreak of the war Joseph Larrick entered the Union army. He was willing to fight for his country, but his services were more in demand at home. The families of his neighbors petitioned that he should be discharged, since it was impossible for the community to get along without the operation of his mill. He was accordingly sent home, and throughout the remainder of the war he operated his mill to grind the grist that made the daily staff of life for hundreds of people in that section of Kansas. The old Larrick farm and mill were four miles southeast of Mocamish (later named Lanesfield) on the old Santa Fe trail. Mrs. Radcliffe, a daughter of the pioneer mill owner, narrates that the Larrick family saw almost daily for twelve or fourteen years those remarkable vehicles of commerce, the overland ox freight trains, often with fifty to a 100 yoke of oxen in a train, bound for Santa Fe, Chihuahua and Mexico City.

From the time that the Larricks settled in Johnson County until the close of the Civil war they were almost constantly exposed to danger. During the Quantrill raid they loaded their household goods and the family started for Baldwin. Before arriving there messengers with fagged horses passed them giving the alarm and the information that Quantrill and his gang had already perpetrated the massacre at Lawrence. To increase the terror and alarm of the family while on their journey to Baldwin the wagon broke down, and there were various other mishaps and adventures. Some of the incidents of that raid have been recalled by Mrs. Joseph Radcliffe, a daughter of Joseph Larrick. She heard the Rev. Dr. H. D. Fisher state that Mrs. Fisher saved his life at Lawrence by rolling him in a piece of carpet. A Mr. Jardon, of Prairie City, crawled into his well to save his life, and Quantrill passed right by the well and by good fortune did not stop to get a drink.

Mrs. Radcliffe has a distinct recollection of the first railroad ever built through Johnson County. She was a little girl at the time. She states that her father had many acres of beautiful timber on his land, and hundreds of laborers were engaged in cutting the trees to make ties and other timbers for the railroad. Her grandfather, Abraham Thompson, came to visit the family, and arrived on the first train that ever passed their station. Thus the visit of her grandfather, contemporaneous with the coming of the first train, is remembered as an epochal event of her life.

In Noble County, Ohio, November 18, 1841, Joseph Larrick married Miss Rebecca Thompson. She was the daughter of Abraham Thompson, a highly respected citizen of that county. To Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Larrick were born six sons and five daughters: Abraham, Katherine, Jennie, Jacob, James, Clarissa, Victoria, Belle, John, Albert and Mansell. Abraham died at Edgerton, Johnson County, Kansas, in 1906. Katherine is Mrs. Dr. Addie of Franklin, Montana. Jennie is Mrs. William Nicholson of Los Angeles. Jacob is in Denver, Colorado. James lives at Omaha, Nebraska. Clarissa is Mrs. W. T. Dickson of Overbrook, Osage County, Kansas. Belle is Mrs. MacCafferty of Chicago. John, who was a Santa Fe Railroad agent and representative at Quenemo, Kansas, died there August 21, 1890. Albert resides at Leon, Kansas, and Mansell was last heard from in Arkansas.

Victoria Larrick was married March 14, 1877, to Joseph Radcliffe. He was a son of Benjamin T. Radcliffe, a native of Indiana, and of Mary (Sipes) Radcliffe. Benjamin Radcliffe joined the Union army in 1861 from Iowa, and was a member of Company E, Twenty-second Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He served in many noted battles, including Gettysburg, Chickamauga, was with Sherman's army on the march to the sea, and was honorably discharged in 1865. He returned to his home in Iowa but in 1867 emigrated to Johnson County, Kansas, locating two miles northwest of Edgerton, where he bought a farm of eighty acres. In 1890 he moved to Overbrook, Osage County, Kansas, and became manager of the Co-operative Grange Store. He filled that position about five years. He died in 1897. Benjamin Radcliffe and wife were the parents of four sons and two daughters: Joseph, Belle, Henry, Ida, Albert and John. Belle, who died in 1910, married John F. Rankin of Gardner, Kansas. Henry lives in Polusa, Washington. Albert is a resident of Overbrook, Osage County. Ida, who died in 1907, married Mr. Frank Simmonds. John Radcliffe is a rancher living at Los Angeles, California.

Mr. Joseph Radcliffe, who was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1854, went to Iowa in 1856 and came to Kansas in 1867, moving with his parents in covered wagons from place to place. After his marriage to Miss Larrick he took up a raw prairie farm near Overbrook, Osage County, and for many years was a successful farmer. For the past eight years he has been employed by local bankers and money loaners to examine properties for loans.

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Radcliffe have one son and two daughters. Ira Addie, Josephine June and Myrtle Belle. The son Ira is a farmer at Overbrook. The daughter Josephine is Mrs. Dr. J. H. Rhoades of Newton, Kansas.

Miss Myrtle Belle Radcliffe is one of the distinguished musicians of Kansas and has long been well known in Topeka. About ten years ago she began specializing in piano music, first as a student at Bethany College under Miss Karolyn B. Whittelsy. Later when Miss Whittelsy opened a studio of her own Miss Radcliffe continued her training by a long and thorough course. She has been most successful as a coach in the training of the voice and teacher of the piano. For a number of years she coached for the noted voice trainer Prof. Herman Springer of Kansas City, Missouri. Topeka owes a great debt to her musical leadership. She has managed and conducted the concert series in that city and has thus brought to Topeka some of the most noted musicians of the world, including Madam Louise Homer, contralto; Alma Gluck, grand opera soprano; Madam Johanna Gadski, a grand opera star; Harold Bauer, pianist, and Frieda Hempel, a German coloratura soprano.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed by Samantha & Preston, students from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, November, 1997.
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