W. SCOTT, M. D. Among the original settlers of Republic County who lived to share in the prosperity which had came [sic] to this fertile section of Kansas as a result of the labors of themselves and those who have followed them was Dr. W. Scott, who had the distinction of being one of the first settlers of the present site of Norway and the only one of his company to survive to a recent date. Among the pioneers he served as physician, surgeon and dentist, and at the same time took part in the development of the soil and shared in the hardships that were a part of the existence of the men who came forth from the East and Central West to reclaim a new section for their country. While he gave up his professional labors prior to his death he still carried on his agricultural operations and was the owner of a fine property in the vicinity of Norway. The death of this fine old pioneer occurred January 27, 1917.
Doctor Scott was born in Indiana, December 28, 1838, and was reared and educated in his native state. There he studied medicine in young manhood, and as soon as his knowledge of the profession would permit began its practice according to the tenets of the allopathic school. In 1862 he enlisted for nine months' service as a private in Company D, Seventy-fifth Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, with which he took part in four large engagements and a number of smaller skirmishes. He was honorably discharged, but almost immediately veteranized, becoming a private of Company C, One Hundred and Thirtieth Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, for three years or during the war. In this enlistment he took part in twenty-three fierce engagements, including some of the bloodiest and most important battles of the entire war, was promoted first sergeant for meritorious service, and was finally commissioned second lieutenant and as such received his honorable discharge after peace had been declared. His record as a soldier was one that reflected the greatest credit upon his bravery and fidelity, and he was admired by his comrades and respected by his superior officers.
On March 1, 1866, Doctor Scott was united in marriage with Miss Christine Smith, of North Carolina, and they became the parents of six children: Lenileoti, Alfaretta, Alexander, George, LeRoy S. and John L., of whom George is now deceased. In 1870, with his wife and two children, he migrated to Kansas, where he took up his present farm in Republic County as a homestead. Into the new community the doctor came as a godsend. The ills of the early settlers were many, for while they were as a rule a rugged people, conditions in the new country were such that disease bred rapidly and accidents were numerous. No weather was too inclement, no hour too late, no private business too pressing, to keep him from hastening to the bedside of some stricken settler, and he performed equally as well in curing their sicknesses, in setting their broken limbs and in extracting their troublesome teeth. The pioneer physician in the early days was called upon to be a man of many parts and many talents, and Doctor Scott lived up to his responsibilities and made his equipment conform with his needs.
Doctor Scott took his place among these hard-working, industrious people, and soon found them to be neighborly, generous and kind-hearted, sharing their work, each with the other, lending their possessions for the carrying on of this work and laboring in harmony and co-operation toward the general welfare. There were many hardships to be overcome. It was necessary to travel a distance of fifty miles to the nearest mill - located at Waterville - and it took a week to make such a journey and secure a sack of flour, for there were no roads and the traveler was compelled to depend upon his own sense of direction to guide him aright. During one of Doctor Scott's trips to Belleville for a sack of flour, another journey which took the best part of a week, he found the river risen to such a height that it could not be forded, and he was compelled to unharness his horses and swim them across the swollen stream, while he followed in his boat. Doctor Scott was fortunate in that during the entire time he was in Kansas he lost but two crops, a remarkable record for forty years. In 1874 he lost his grain by the grasshopper plague, and he did not suffer another loss until 1915, when the floods swept away his crops. In March, 1872, he encountered a blizzard which lasted for three days and three nights, during which a man could see only as far as he could feel and it was sure death to venture forth into the storm. In 1876 there was a cloudburst which caused much damage to the pioneers, the water falling to a depth of twelve inches, the greatest downpour for its length of time ever known in Kansas. One man in the vicinity of Doctor Scott's home lost his mill dam, the water backing up and taking the dam at its weakest point. Happily these accidents and occurrences did not affect Doctor Scott's property to any considerable extent.
Doctor Scott early gained the confidence of the people of his section as one in whom they could place absolute faith in times of sickness, and as the years passed his practice grew until it was the largest in Republic County. However, in 1912 he gave up active practice and turned his entire attention to his homestead, which until his death he continued to cultivate with the same ardor and interest that he did forty years before. In the line of public service he was always ready to give of his time or his talents, and at various times served as a member of the board of township trustees, as township treasurer and as a member of the school board, and in each office discharged his duties faithfully and well. He was fraternally connected with the Masons, and his old army comrades knew him as a valued and popular member of the local post of the Grand Army of the Republic.
When this fine old citizen passed to his final reward his life-long friend, Markel A. French delivered an address to friends and neighbors which in part is given here:
"Today we meet together at the grave of a long time friend and neighbor. In 1870, when Kansas was considered by most people as the Great American Desert, a young physician left the train at Waterville, the then western end of the railroad, and walked to a point on the Republic River just west of what is now known as Norway. There he located a homestead and walked to Junction City, the then nearest U.S. land office, where he filed on this newly located claim and again walked the weary miles back to his new home. That physician was Winfield Scott, then just past 31 years of age. When a young man at the beginning of the Civil war he joined the 75th Indiana Volunteers, he being the second volunteer from his county and would have been the first were it not for the fact that a chum of his went to the place of enlistment on a horse while Mr. Scott had to walk. After serving his time in the 75th Indiana he was mustered out and again enlisted in the 130th Indiana Volunteers, which company he served during the remainder of the war and mustered out as first lieutenant.
"After the war he decided to finish his education as a physician, but like most discharged soldiers he had not the means to support himself while studying for his profession. He went to work with a determination to win regardless of this handicap and made an arrangement with a physician to study under him, and while he was compelled to work in a ditch during the day to obtain money to buy clothes and pay board and lodging he studied at night until he was competent to obtain his permit to practice medicine. Thus we see the trials that he was, even in early manhood compelled to endure in order to gain an education. But this was but a small part of the privations that he was compelled to go through in his long life of 78 years. As a citizen he was very patriotic and upon his homestead where he has lived for so many years and where he died was a grove grown by his own labor and known as 'Scotts Grove' and I dare say there is not a person in the sound of my voice who has not attended one or more celebrations in this grove on a Fourth of July or other public holiday and we all know the enthusiasm and patriotism displayed by the deceased on such occasions.
"The deceased was perhaps as well read a man as there is to be found in this part of the state and many a time has he talked with me on varied subjects, in fact nearly every time he chanced to be in Concordia during recent years he would visit my office and pass away a friendly hour in social talk. His views on any subject were well defined and while he often expressed them he never was a man that believed in trying to convince others that his views were in all things correct. In fact he was a man with a broad view on all subjects believing that each person had the inalienable right to believe on any subject as he saw fit and to practice the precepts and live the life as he saw it, and that it was his duty to obey the dictate of his own conscience in his every day life so long as it did not in any way interfere with the rights of society and the liberties of his fellow men. Perhaps there was no man of my acquaintance who was as well read in the line of religion as was the deceased and on the last time he was in my office he talked at length on his religious views and told me to some extent of what he wanted done at the time he was taken to his last resting place.
"Knowing the deceased as I do I feel free to speak as I have. I know how vain it is to guide grief with words and yet I wish to take from every grave its fear. Here in this world where life and death are equal kings all should be brave enough to meet what all the dead have met. And he whose body lies before us was such a man. He was conscious up to nearly the last moments of his life. For some time before his death he realized that the end had come and calling his sons and daughters, his grandchildren and his friends around his bedside he bid them all a last goodbye and went to meet his death as calmly as one who wraps the mantel of his couch about him and lies down to peaceful dreams.' The future was not filled with fear strained and polluted by heartless past.' And as he expressed it to me the last time we met, 'why should we fear which comes to all that lives and breathes? I do not know whether the grave is the end of this life or the door of another or whether the night here is not somewhere else a dawn,' and thus we feel that while he could not believe in a future life yet he lived in hope of a future existence and let us all remember as we lay his mortal body away in its last long resting place that he lived this life as he saw the right, always ready to give all he had, that joy, peace and happiness might be the lot of all his fellowmen. It was his often expressed desire that when his end should come that those who gather round his bier should not sorrow and mourn for him. For eight years more than the three score years and ten that is the allotted time of man he lived and added to the sum of human joy, and were everyone for whom he did some loving service to bring a blossom to his grave he would sleep tonight beneath a wilderness of flowers. So let us today kind friends write his faults upen the ever shifting sand but record his virtues indelibly upon the pages of our memory."
A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Seth Godfrey and Zachary Levi Hall, students from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, October 21, 1999.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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