FRANK V. HULL is one of the few surviving first settlers of Gray County. For almost forty years he has lived on the homestead which he entered in Cimarron Township in 1878. A complete review of his experiences would fill a much longer article than can be prepared at this time, but such of them as can be noted are an important contribution to history in this part of the state.
It was in June, 1878, that Mr. Hull became owner of the northeast quarter of section 2, township 26, range 27, the quarter section claim which is now only a small part of his extended ranch possessions. He joined a few settlers of this region as an emigrant from Pennsylvania. Among those he counted as neighbors, though some of them lived miles away, were Henry Reeves, Mr. Coon, A. S. Tracy, George Day, the section foreman, Marion Jack, L. W. V. Johnson, James Johnson, Donald Beathon, the pioneer liveryman, and A. M. Brown, who was the local landlord and with him Mr. Hull took his first meal in this county. Mr. Hull was served with a "special breakfast" and very different from the salt pork and dried apples which the section men boarding there had eaten just before him.
After reaching Topeka on his route from the East Mr. Hull had pursued a rather leisurely course into Western Kansas. He journeyed over the route of the Santa Fe and had prospected all the country west from Topeka. Within ten miles of the capital he could have bought land for less than it cost him to prove up his homestead, but Western Kansas was his goal and he was not satisfied to stop at any point further east.
The urgent reason which brought Mr. Hull out to this country was a somewhat precarious condition of health due to long and protracted bronchitis which he had suffered in Pennsylvania. Physicians had advised him to resort either to the high plains of Kansas or to the saltwater of the ocean. His decision favored the inland country. A short distance east of Dodge City he bought his first horse, and with that pony he spent the entire summer and fall out on the prairie, camping wherever night came, sleeping in his blanket upon the grass, and this vigorous outdoor experience practically cured him of his ailment.
In 1878 he put up his first shelter on his claim, a box shanty. In that he kept bachelor's hall until it was destroyed by the last raid made by the Cheyenne Indians through the country in the same year. While the Indians were burning his home Mr. Hull was in Cimarron helping load buffalo bones into a car. The bone hunters and pickers had begun to cover the region about that time and were rapidly gathering in their harvest. The next shanty, into which he received his family, served until the erection of the more recent home of today. That old structure is still doing duty as a general storehouse on the farm.
In the fall of 1878 Mr. Hull responded to the solicitations of the well known pioneer merchant Wettick and became a clerk in his store, remaining there a year. By this time, feeling that he was completely cured and realizing that it was possible to make dollars back East where he could earn only cents in Kansas, he returned home to Pennsylvania, but in thirty days was flat on his back with his old bronchial trouble. The case became so desperate that partial arrangements were made for his funeral. However, his determination brought him through and the next spring found him again in Kansas, where he soon recuperated. He then resumed his place in the Wettick store and remained there three years, his claim in the meantime being worked by his brother Horace, who also looked after his own homestead.
From the Wettick store Mr. Hull returned to his claim and began its improvement. He undertook the cultivation of the land, but had to wait a long time before he was rewarded with a crop. In the meantime he bought his first cow in the same locality where he secured his pony and thus acquired a stake in the cattle industry. His land could be depended upon only to raise some roughness for his cattle. He had a most unusual experience in this connection. One fall he sowed some land to wheat. The next spring it failed to come up and he planted kaffir corn. Then ensued another reasonable interval without results in sight, and he sowed the same ground to millet. A few days after this last sowing there came a soaking rain and in a short time the green sprigs came pushing through the ground from wheat, kaffir and millet seed and he subsequently harvested one of the finest crops of feed he ever saw on a similar acreage. Mr. Hull says that some of his early experiences were not unlike those of a distant neighbor, named Fay, a sheep man. When asked what he raised off his land the first year, Fay replied: "Hell, sir, and it's been my principal crop yearly ever since."
The questioner then sought some information as to how Fay had lived during the time, and apparently without being conscious of any contradiction in his theology Fay said: "We lived off of the buffalo grass that God Almighty put here."
During the '80s Mr. Hull was able to raise a little millet and sorghum and kept on increasing his herd of cattle as his means warranted. The cattle business was his chief industry for a long time. His wife and son had played the role of herdsmen. Mr. Hull had bought the "Head Spring" on Buckner, and in that locality Mrs. Hull and her son held the cattle until fall while the Texas cattle were passing across Kansas on the old Ogalalla trail. Mrs. Hull and her son also drank in the ozone of the prairie and it restored in these two other victims of disease to normal and sound health. Mr. Hull never completely abandoned the cattle business, although the stock required constant attention. The temptation to give up cattle became very strong when it was demonstrated that wheat would grow in this part of Kansas. After he was joined by his wife and son Mr. Hull never know a time when he cared to abandon Kansas. Mrs. Hull became as much devoted to the state as he was, partly due to the fact that she too had enjoyed a complete transformation of health here. Thus the Hull family became loyal friends of the Sunflower Commonwealth. Blizzards and drought never affected them adversely, though the famous blizzard of January, 1886, destroyed half of their cattle.
In the early '80s the Hulls saw this entire region taken up by emigrants and on nearly every quarter section some effort at farming was made. Not long afterward the entire country was abandoned, and then there followed another tide of emigration. All of these experiences convinced Mr. Hull that Southwestern Kansas was most dependable as a cattle country and he conducted his affairs accordingly. With increasing success he bought more land, chiefly for ranching purposes, and at the present time the Hull Ranch consists of more than 2,000 acres.
Not all of the experience that should be noted in Mr. Hull's career was in Kansas. He was born in Tioga County, New York, September 29, 1844, but grew up in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. He went to school, as he says, "when he got a chance," and his advantages were those of country schools. When he was about seventeen years of age, in 1861, he enlisted in the Twentieth New York Artillery, commanded by Major Willard. His battalion was quartered on Governor's Island, but was finally disbanded without being sent to the front. Somewhat later in the war Mr. Hull became a member of the Thirty-First Pennsylvania Militia and did some duty at the battle of Antietam and was also present at the battle of Gettysburg. His company was held on the left flank at Little Round Top in that three days' battle. As a militiaman he saw service about three months. During the last year of the war he experienced some of the hottest fighting of the entire rebellion. He enlisted in the Fiftieth New York Engineers under Lieutenant Colonel Spalding, spent the first winter at Rappahannock Station, and in the spring fought at the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Chapin's Farm, North Anna River, Deep Bottom, Petersburg, Weldon Station, Yellow Tavern, Southside Railroad, Dinwiddie Courthouse, Five Forks, Richmond and was one of the workers in the tunnel of the mine which blew up the rebel fort at Petersburg. After the evacuation of Richmond he was with Gen. G. K. Warren's Fifth Corps which headed Lee's army off at Appomattox. After the surrender of Lee Mr. Hull's regiment returned through Richmond on Review, then to Washington to the Grand Review, and he was mustered out at Arlington Heights. In front of Petersburg he was hit by a piece of shell between the shoulders and knocked down and badly bruised. Later he was knocked down by a spent ball, but neither of these incidents caused him to lose any time from his company. In Pennsylvania he joined Perkins Post No. 202, Grand Army of the Republic, and on coming to Kansas helped form Captain Hudson Post No. 366, Cimarron. He is one of the surviving members of this post, the others being John and James Brock and D. P. Tabb.
Mr. Hull is a son of Josiah and Mercy (Jones) Hull, both of whom are natives of Connecticut. His father was born at Sharon in that state and spent his active career as a wagonmaker and blacksmith. Both parents died in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Their children were: Charles T., Frank V., Horace J., Emeline S., who married A. W. Fox and died in California; Phoebe Ann, who married D. G. Phelps and lives at East Smithfield, Pennsylvania, and Miss Fannie M., who died at the old Pennsylvania home.
On February 9, 1864, while he was still in the army, Mr. Hull married in New York Valley of Tioga County, New York, Julia A. Stone. The ceremony was performed by Rev. S. S. Bacon, a Presbyterian minister. At their ranch home they celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary, inviting to the feast all the old settlers accessible and a social event was made of the occasion. Mrs. Hull's father, Aaron Stone, was the first veteran soldier buried in the cemetery at Cimarron, Kansas. He served in the Union Army in Company F of the Sixth Pennsylvania Reserve. His father, Orrin Stone, was killed in the War of 1812 and Mrs. Hull's great-grandfather Miller, on her mother's side, was killed while a soldier of the Revolution. Aaron Stone married Pamelia Cahill, whose grandfather was the Revolutionary soldier just mentioned. Aaron Stone came to Kansas in 1879, entered land, and his widow subsequently took a homestead here when she was past eighty-five years of age and lived to prove up on it. She was a remarkable woman for her vitality and vigor and lived to be within a few months of a hundred years of age. Mrs. Hull, who was born at Litchfield, New Pork,[sic] at the head of the Wyoming Valley, in November, 1845, has an older sister, Eliza C., who married R. H. Toles and lives in Everett, Washington. Mrs. Hull completed her education in an academic institution in New York. The son of Mr. and Mrs. Hull previously mentioned, their only child, is Walter H., born March 22, 1870, and is now the active manager of the Hull Ranch. He married Agnes Griffith and they have two children, Franklin G., born December 25, 1905; and Walter Victor, born in 1914.
In conclusion, something should be said of Mr. Hull's activities and experiences in public affairs in Kansas. His first public service here was as deputy postmaster of Cimarron. When Gray County was set off by itself he was chosen one of the first county commissioners, being appointed by Governor John A. Martin. While he was a county commissioner the contest began between Cimarron and Ingalls over the county seat. The chief sponsor for Ingalls was Mr. Soule, and Mr. Hull says that he was offered $5,000 by Mr. Soule if he would give his vote in favor of Ingalls as the county seat. He continued his work on the county board until the county seat was finally located and the first set of elective county officers were sworn in. He also served his township as assessor and his first assessment covered the whole of Gray County, which was then in one township. For several years he was a director of Prairie Grove School District No. 11. In politics Mr. Hull has been steadfastly a republican, and never became interested in the Farmers' Alliance or in its offspring, the populist party.
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.
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