GEORGE ANDREW DAY. A number of the "first things" in the history of Gray County can be recounted as incidents in the life and experience of George Andrew Day, who now lives retired at Garden City. When he went into Gray County in 1877 the district was known as "Foote" County. What led him there was his connection with the Santa Fe Railway as section foreman. He was a noted hand at railroad work, and spent the greater part of his career in that line in Kansas and elsewhere.
The only house on the site now covered by Cimarron was the section house. The date of the establishment of that town has usually been given as 1878, the year after Mr. Day went there. It was around the section house that a village gradually grew up. There was not a permanent settler located in "Foote" county when Mr. Day arrived. His wife joined him November 2, 1877, and from that time until February 11, 1878, she was the only woman in the county. The marriage of Nancy Emily Snell, daughter of Mrs. Day, was the first wedding in the county. The first white child born there was Henry Reeves' third daughter, Tonie. Fred Johnson was the first boy baby born in the county. As he recalls that early time Mr. Day declares there is not a man now in Gray County who was there when he entered the region. As it happened it was through him that the first sermon was preached in the county. The minister delivering the sermon was Rev. O. M. Wright, a Congregational preacher from Dodge City. This historic sermon was preached in the section house, the place designated by Mr. Day in correspondence with Mr. Wright.
George Andrew Day has been a splendid type of the hard working, faithful citizen and a valuable man in every relationship of a long life. He was born at Farmersville, Leeds County, Canada, February 4, 1840. His childhood was spent in the country district of Canada and he left there at the age of sixteen, coming to the United States and spending some time near Baraboo in Sauk County, Wisconsin. He had acquired a schooling before he left Canada. In Wisconsin he worked in saw mills and as a general laborer and finally entered railroad work.
At Burlington, Wisconsin, in 1862 he enlisted in Company H of the Twenty-Second Wisconsin Infantry under Captain Gustavus Goodrich and Colonel William L. Utley. This regiment was ordered to Kentucky, crossed the Ohio River at Cincinnati, went on to Lexington, then to Danville, and at Louisville took a steamer for Murfreesboro. Its first fighting was done at Spring Hill, Tennessee, where an overwhelming Confederate force captured the entire brigade. The prisoners were taken to Richmond and Mr. Day spent twenty-two days in the famous Libby prison until paroled on the first of April. He was sent to the parole camp at Benton Barracks in St. Louis, and was exchanged at Camp Jackson. With his regiment he re-entered service, going to Louisville, then to Franklin and on to Murfreesboro. At the latter point Mr. Day was stricken with the smallpox, was sent to hospital and never rejoined his regiment. He was in a hospital almost to the end of the war, being detailed as a nurse after his own recovery, then as a ward master and finally as hospital steward. He reached home after his army service on November 25, 1864.
For several years after the war Mr. Day continued his work as a general laborer and then became a section hand on the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul road. From Crawford County, Wisconsin, he moved to Iowa, and was track foreman for the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway from 1873 until he left West Union, Iowa, to come to Kansas about four years later.
In August, 1877, he arrived in Kansas at Newton. His first assignment to work by the Santa Fe was as section foreman at Burton. After one month he was transferred to Cimarron and that brought him his active associations with old Gray or Foote County, which covered a period of two years. While the Santa Fe Railroad had been only recently built, there was the most urgent need for track repair and Mr. Day found exceedingly little material furnished by the company to carry on repairs. In one case, where spikes were requisitioned for many weeks without showing up, Mr. Day chanced to find three kegs of them out on the prairie at the site of an old buffalo hunter's camping place. The hunters had stolen the spikes, using them to stretch and spike the hides to the sod. A day or so later the roadmaster chanced to come along and his first greeting was "Hello Day, where did you get your spikes?" He hardly waited for the explanation and at once ordered two kegs of them to another point.
As above stated, during his stay at Cimarron a little village grew up around the section house, and Mr. Day was appointed postmaster of the town April 3, 1878, by Postmaster General D. M. Key. He resigned that office when he left the county in 1879.
From Gray County Mr. Day continued his work with the Santa Fe Company in New Mexico. He was put in charge of the yard at Raton, then at Watrous, then at Wagon Mound and was finally given charge of the extensive yards at Las Vegas. Later at Lamy he was put in charge of the new track work being done and spent almost a year there. For the next two years he was in business for himself as a tie contractor at Cranes, New Mexico. On returning to the railroad company he went into the bridge and building department, operating over the lines in New Mexico. He was still in that branch of the work when he gave up service with the Santa Fe after an active experience of thirty-one years. He had charge of one of the bridge building gangs when he left the company in 1902.
At the time of the organization of old Foote County Mr. Day was one of the judges of election and had the responsibility of selecting a location for the temporary seat of government. Though the popular vote chose Cimarron as the county seat the judge in deciding the case upon appeal conferred the dignity upon Ingalls. The Ingalls people soon came down to Cimarron for the county records. They arrived in a covered wagon and armed men were underneath the wagon sheet, and when they got into the middle of the town they threw off the cover and began shooting wildly into the street. Mr. English was killed and another citizen wounded though not a single shot was fired in return by the Cimarron people. Ingalls kept possession of the county records for five years, and then the question of relocation was put to a vote and Cimarron was overwhelmingly elected. Ingalls again brought the matter before the court, but it was never settled by court decision and Cimarron remained quietly in possession of the records and has been the county seat to the present time.
While living in Gray County Mr. Day took up the first homestead there. It is the northeast quarter of section 10, township 26, range 28 and his patent is dated January 20, 1883, being signed by President Arthur. This ground is now part of the Fair grounds site. After giving up his railroad work Mr. Day returned to Cimarron as a place of residence but recently sold his interests and removed to Garden City. Mr. Day has never been active in politics though, as indicated by the above account, was keenly interested in local affairs. He has never failed to cast a ballot but has never electioneered for any particular candidate. For about twenty years he was a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and served as one of the trustees of the Grand Lodge of New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona.
In Crawford County, Wisconsin, November 15, 1869, Mr. Day married Mrs. Nancy Matilda Snell. Her father was Dr. Chester Pratt, who went to Wisconsin from Bradford County, Pennsylvania, where Mrs. Day was born, leaving there at the age of six years. Mrs. Day had a brother, Dr. Willard Pratt, now living in California, and another brother, Jesse Pratt, who spent his last years in Jewell City, Kansas. Mrs. Day died June 9, 1910, and there were no children of her union to Mr. Day. Her first husband lost his life in the lead mines of Missouri and left her two daughters. One is Mrs. Nancy E. Wettick, wife of A. D. Wettick, of Cimarron. The other is Mrs. Martha J. Noyes, of Emporia, Kansas. The children of Mrs. Wettick are John and Edith, the latter the wife of Wilber F. Squires, of Joplin, Missouri. The children of Mrs. Noyes now living are George F., Matilda and Henry. George F. is in the aviation service of the army at Arcadia, Florida. Henry is a member of Battery D, Sixty-Fourth C. O. C., American Expeditionary Forces, overseas.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project