SAMUEL H. HUGHS. One of the interesting citizens and retired residents of Ashland is Samuel H. Hughs, a surviving veteran of the Union army and one of the pioneers who threw in his fortune with Clark County more than thirty years ago. All the older as well as the later residents of this section will appreciate the following review of Mr. Hughs' life and experiences.
He was born in Allen County, Kentucky, July 1, 1841. His father, Meredith Hughs, was born in North Carolina in 1802, grew up in his native state, and moved to Kentucky, where he was a farmer and slave holder. Nevertheless he was a man of Union sentiments when the division between the states occurred. He left his slaves in Kentucky when he moved to Arkansas, and his active career was spent in farming in these several states. He was assassinated in Carroll County, Arkansas, in 1871 while going to his duties as one of the county judges.
Meredith Hughs married Nancy Hunt. Her father, James Hunt, was also a North Carolina farmer. Mrs. Nancy Hughs died in Greene County, Missouri, during the Civil war. Her children were: Elizabeth, who married Reeves Whitlow and died in Kentucky; Joseph James, who died in Greene County, Missouri; Lucinda, who married Robert McReynolds and died in Kentucky; John L., who died in Greene County; and Samuel Harlan, youngest of the family.
In 1850, when Samuel H. Hughs was nine years old, his parents moved to Ohio, Kentucky, and from there, in 1859, went to Benton County, Arkansas. It was in that section of the southwest that Mr. Hughs came to his majority. He had very little opportunity to attend school, chiefly in Kentucky and Arkansas. He grew up as a farmer and his experiences for the most part throughout life have been in that vocation.
January 1, 1863, he enlisted in Company F of the First Arkansas Cavalry, under Captain Wimpy and Col. A. R. Harrison. He saw some of the strenuous fighting in the southwest, though the big campaigns of the war had been moved to the east side of the Mississippi when he entered the army. He was in service from Springfield, Missouri, to Fort Smith, Arkansas, participated in the fight at Prairie Grove and was at Fayetteville when a band of about 600 Federals were surrounded by General Price with 7,000 troops. The coming of re-enforcements scared away the Confederates and ended the siege of Fayetteville. Mr. Hughs and his comrades remained at Fayetteville and vicinity until the close of the war. He was given his honorable discharge with the rank of corporal in August, 1865. He went through his service without wounds.
After the war he engaged in business as a merchant at Cincinnati, Arkansas, with Captain Dienst, who had been his last company commander. He sold goods there for about a year, then sold out to his partner and moved to Greene County, Missouri, and was engaged in farming near Cave Springs until he came to Kansas.
It was in November, 1884, that Mr. Hughs entered his pre-emption on Bluff Creek in sections 32 and 33, township 31, range 21, in Clark County. He drove into this region in company with other settlers from Greene County, Missouri. Two of his companions were James Wilson and Henry Hubbard. His possessions on coming to Kansas were a team, household goods, and about $150 in cash. He at once built on his preemption a sod house of one room, plastered with gypsum and he tried unsuccessfully to stucco the outside. The roof was of boards, tar paper and sods. A little later he put a fence around the pasture and in the spring of 1885 paid $50 for a single cow at Kinsley. That year was a rather promising one. He made a fine crop of corn, sorghum and millet and the cornstalks served as fuel the following winter. The four years 1886-87-88-89 were memorable ones for all the old timers who remained in that section of Kansas. In those four years Mr. Hughs says that he "raised hardly his hat full of grain." If he had sold all his possessions at the end of that period he would still have been fully $1,000 in debt. But he was tied to the community by many bonds of interest. One source of encouragement was the confidence shown in him by his fellow citizens. In 1885 they elected him county treasurer, and the salary of that office did a great deal to tide him over and keep him in the country.
After the prolonged drought crop conditions improved and remained encouraging for several years. That period helped him regain some of his original standing and in that time he turned his attention to wheat growing. Yields ranged from eight to fifteen bushels per acre, and while this crop helped it was not an altogether reliable resource. Mr. Hughs had already realized that cattle was the main standby of the settler who would succeed in this region. He invested accordingly $300 in calves and after the first year their income served to provide the family with a living. About that time his neighbors were abandoning their claims, and the area for pasture was thus enlarged. It was one of the severe trials of the period when Mr. Hughs was compelled to sit on his porch (he had already provided himself with a frame house and a small porch) and shed tears when he saw his friends all leaving him behind, encumbered with debt. He told these friends that he would like to leave too, but could not do so until he had paid his obligations and it was impossible to tell when that would be.
The abandoning of this region by his neighbors worked to his advantage, since it enabled him to accumulate land at a very low price. For one quarter he paid as low as $125. The highest price he ever gave for a quarter section, and it was the poorest of all his purchases, was $3,100. In that way he acquired a tract of 1,740 acres, practically in one body, and put about 1,200 acres under the plow. Mr. Hughs remained a resident of that locality until July, 1913, when he moved to Ashland. In the meantime he had added improvements including five different homes, and his own posterity are the occupants and tenants of the farm.
His community work has also been notable. He helped build two schoolhouses in his locality and also the Methodist Episcopal Church at Lexington, a village he helped found. This village was laid out on the same section in which part of the Hughs farm is located. Mr. Hughs served as one of the, trustees of his district union school.
As already noted, Mr. Hughs was elected treasurer of Clark County in 1885 and was the first to fill that office in the county. In the election he received every vote cast in the county. He began voting as a republican and cast his first presidential ballot in Benton County, Arkansas, in 1864, for Abraham Lincoln. A number of his friends voted in the same way, since there were a number of Union soldiers at that time stationed at Fayetteville. Mr. and Mrs. Hughs are active Methodists and for many years he served as church stewart. He is affiliated with Ashland Post of the Grand Army, attended the National Encampment at Washington, and is also a member of the Masonic Lodge.
On October 7, 1868, in Greene County, Missouri, only a few years after the war, Mr. Hughs married Ann Eliza Bryant. This is one of the oldest couples of Ashland and it will soon be half a century since they were wedded. Mrs. Hughs is a daughter of Dr. David William Bryant, and she was born August 15, 1851. Her father was born in Virginia but went as a youth to Kentucky and married there Rosilla Still. Her father, Thomas H. Still, was an Englishman and served as a captain in the War of 1812. David W. Bryant went to Missouri in 1844, taking up Government land in Greene County, and spent the rest of his active career there as a country physician. He was a victim of "white swelling" and was so crippled that he was unable to farm. He died May 29, 1887, at the advanced age of eighty-four, while his wife passed away in 1890. Of their eleven children, ten married; Abigail, who became Mrs. Henry Fulbright and died in Greene County, Missouri; Timblick, who became a physician and died in Dade County, Missouri; Martha E., who married David Clayman and died in Oklahoma City; Nancy C., who married John Watson and died in Greene County; James B., who died in Polk County, Missouri; Mary, who first married Benjamin Watson, and for her second husband Monroe Ross, is now living in Greene County; Zacharia, who died at Spavinaugh, Oklahoma; Mrs. Hughs; Warren P., of Ashland, Kansas; and Jennie, who married John Burrell and died in Northern Missouri.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. Hughs in order of birth are Ottawa L., Timothy McC., Gay A., and Annie. Ottawa L., a farmer of Clark County, married Ona Snell, and their children are Carl, Agnes and Mildred; Timothy McC., also a farmer on the Hughs' ranch married Ethel Pike, and their three children are Mamie, Harlan and Ruby, the latter deceased; Gay, also a farmer in Clark County, married Gertrude Morrison, and has Leona, Lottie, Lillian and Gay A., Jr. Annie is the wife of Era Rhoades of Clark County, and their children are Russell, George, Sylvia and Virgil.
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