An interesting narrative is given by Mrs. Leslie Patterson, of Mineral City. In early childhood she was left an orphan, and she was reared by Jacob Galer, of Ohio, who had a fondness for adventure, in the following of which he often went contrary to his wife's judgment, as men so often do. Jacob Galer first moved from Ohio to Illinois; then to Kansas; then to Iowa, where he remained a while (of course only a short while), and then moved to Missouri, settling in one of the finest portions of the State, but his roving spirit would not let him alone, and he came back to Kansas. It was in Iowa that Mrs. Patterson, then Olive Carter, a little child, was taken into the family. Jacob Galer's moving outfit consisted of two wagons, one drawn by three yoke of oxen, and the other by two yoke of oxen, and a lighter wagon drawn by two horses. He brought along a number of cattle and sheep and a few extra horses, the family, with the outfit, making quite a caravan. The beginning of the journey was from Trenton, Missouri, in the summer of 1865; the destination was unknown, only that it must be somewhere on the frontier. Jacob Galer's family consisted of himself, his wife, a daughter nearly grown and Olive Carter, the little girl whom they had taken to raise. Two men were hired to drive the ox teams. Mrs. Galer drove the team of horses and Mr. Galer brought up the loose horses, cattle and sheep. At Cameron, Missouri, one of the men quit the company, and Mr. Galer had to take his place. From that point, on to Cherokee County, Kansas, the daughter and the little girl, then 11 years old, walked and drove the loose stock. They crossed the Missouri River at Kansas City and came south by the way of Fort Scott, from that point following the military road until they came to Shawnee Creek, just north of where Crestline now stands. They camped there one night, and the next day took a course westwardly, and the next night they camped on what is now known as the Johnson farm, about two miles northwest of Columbus. Far along in the night, after the howling of the prairie wolves had lulled the family to sleep, it chanced that Mr. Galer awoke and saw a glaring light toward the southeast. It increased rapidly in brightness, and he wisely concluded that a prairie fire was advancing from the direction of Baxter Springs. He awoke the family, hitched the teams to the wagons, rounded up the herd, and the whole caravan moved off as fast as possible toward the west. Very early the next morning they came to a log cabin on Lightning Creek, the home of a family by the name of Hale. After getting breakfast about a camp fire which they built on the bank of the creek, they started in a southwesterly direction and continued their way until they reached a point on the Neosho River about a mile south of the place where the Frisco railroad now crosses the river. Here Jacob Galer laid a claim and lived for many years. He then bought what is now known as the Blincoe place, a mile and a half northwest of Columbus, But even then he was not satisfied, although he had moved from place to place enough, it would seem, to bring about a desire for settling down, if roving ever brings such a desire. The next change was when he sold out and moved to Washington Territory, and this was his last, for he died there, going out "seeking a better country."
I deem it not i mproper here to speak of John McLaughlin, who, in the spring of 1867, settled on the northeast quarter of section 12, township 32, range 22, in Sheridan township, Cherokee County. He is mentioned here on account of his once being well known, a highly respected citizen of the county and a cultured gentleman, and on account of his tragic death. He was an Irish Presbyterian, a devout, earnest Christian, a man of probity and of the highest integrity. At the time of his death be was a member of the Board of County Commissioners, and in this position, as in all other relations of life, he displayed good judgment and constantly sought the best interests of the people. On an afternoon in the latter part of October, 1874, he and two sons, Willis and William, took a wagon and team and drove out to Lightning Creek, to get a load of wood. Prairie chickens were numerous then, and naturally they would take a gun, which they did. They were about three miles from home when they saw some chickens, and Willis, then 14 years old, got out of the wagon and then reached back for the gun. In taking it out the gun was discharged, the contents entering his father's body. The wound was not immediately fatal, but the flow of blood was so great that life could not long remain. Mr. McLaughlin, knowing that he was going to die, directed one of the sons to get on a horse and go for his wife. The boy did so, and Mrs. McLaughlin was brought as quickly as possible. The wounded man, first of all, charged his wife never in any way to blame the son for what he had done; that it was purely accidental, and that he must never be made to feel bad about it. He then directed her what to do in winding up the estate, talking calmly and unexcitedly to the very last, and when he had gone over such things as he deemed it proper to mention he quietly and peacefully closed his eyes and was dead. No man could be more missed than John McLaughlin, either by his family or by those among whom he lived in the community; for it is rare that one's acts and deeds are more disinterested and helpful than were his.
Among the early settlers of Cherokee County no one was better known than Capt. Sidney S. Smith, who was elected the first county superintendent, in 1866. He was born in Trumbull County, Ohio, July 26, 1821, and while yet a young man he moved to Des Moines County, Iowa, and later to Mahaska County, in that State. He was married to Clementine Frederick, in that county, November 24, 1847. Miss Frederick was born in Columbiana County, Ohio, January 13, 1828. Captain Smith came to Cherokee County in 1866; his family came the next year. They settled in the western part of Lola township, where they lived a short time, and then moved to Columbus. They had three daughters, who married, the oldest to W. R. Cowley, the second to Chester Branin, the youngest to R. C. Warren. Captain Smith died July 1, 1892. Mrs. Smith, now in her 77th year, lives in East Columbus, where she has an elegant home with her daughter, Mrs. Warren.
Captain Smith's death was a sad one. He was nearly 71 years old and somewhat hard of hearing; but he was so energetic as always to be at work. On the afternoon of July 1, 1892, he had taken a plow from the field to a blacksmith shop to have it sharpened, and he was on his way back to the field with the plow on his shoulder, and he on horseback, going east along the south part of Columbus. The wind blowing a gale from the south, and he being partially deaf, he did not hear a train which was going south. The engine killed both him and the horse instantly. He was so well known and so highly respected that his frightful death created wide-spread sorrow over the county. He had been very prominent in public affairs, very energetic and determined in all his purposes. It is said to be largely due to him that the county seat trouble, which so divided the people for many years, was finally settled to the satisfaction of a majority of the people.
Mrs. Smith has the original election certificate wh ich was issued to Captain Smith when he was elected county superintendent. It is as follows:
STATE OF KANSAS, CHEROKEE COUNTY, SS. I, William Little, County Clerk of Cherokee County, certify that, at an election held in the various townships of Cherokee County, on the 6th day of November, 1866, Sidney S. Smith was duly elected to the office of superintendent of public instruction. Witness my hand and seal, this the 17th day of July, 1867. (Private Seal.) WILLIAM LITTLE, Co. Clerk.
Dr. C. W. Hoag, of Weir, has handed me two comparatively old papers, which because of their association with men and things, it is thought proper to copy here. The first is a railroad pass; the other is a commission authorizing him to perform the official duties of a justice of the peace. The railroad pass is as follows:
MISSOURI RIVER, FORT SCOTT AND GULF RAILROAD. QUARTERLY PASS. THIRD QUARTER. June 27, 1877. Pass C. W. Hoag, Agent at Coalfield, from June 30, to September 30,1877. W. L. ANNETTE, Superintendent.
The certificate of appointment and commission, as justice of the peace, was issued by George T. Anthony, then Governor of the State. Governor Anthony, who died about three years ago, was a cousin of the well known Susan B. Anthony, who has done so much toward the enfranchisement of women. The certificate follows:
THE STATE OF KANSAS. To All to Whom These Presents Shall Come, Greeting: Know ye, that I, George T. Anthony, Governor of the State of Kansas, reposing special trust and confidence in the integrity, patriotism and abilities of C. W. Hoag, on behalf and in the name of the State, do hereby appoint and commission him Justice of the Peace of Cherokee Township, Cherokee County, vice Henry Lincoln, deceased, and do authorize and empower him to discharge the duties of said office according to law. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State. Done at Topeka, this 27th day of April, A. D. 1877. GEORGE T. ANTHONY. Attest: THOS. H. CAVANAUGH, Secretary of State.
Dr. Hoag says that Judge A. H. Skidmore, then just admitted to the bar, tried his first case in his court, at the old town of Stillson, soon after the foregoing certificate was issued.
Col. William March, of Baxter Springs, relates a little incident of his journey when he first came to Kansas. It was in September, 1869. At that time the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad had not reached Fort Scott. Pleasanton was its southern terminus. Colonel March traveled by stage from that place to Baxter Springs. Between Fort Scott and Baxter Springs there was what was then known as "The Halfway House," a mere cabin on the prairie, where the stage horses were changed, and where passengers might get dinner. There were several on the stage that day, and among them two or three ladies. The ride over the prairie gave all good appetites, and a number described what they would like to have for dinner. Colonel March said he would like to have fried chicken, brown gravy, hot biscuits and good, strong coffee. When they arrived at the cabin and went in to sit down at the table, there was just such a dinner as he had described, including every detail. Colonel March has never yet determined whether "the woman of the house" had a mental message from him or not; but he knows that he got what he wanted.
The following story is told by Cyrus W. Harvey, concerning the manner in which the Varck post office got its name:
The people of Quaker Valley wanted a post office established in their neighborhood. There was an old, somewhat influential man living at Baxter Springs. He was known as "Da d Varrick." Through him a petition was sent on to Washington and placed in the hands of Dudley C. Haskell, a Member of Congress from this State. Haskell took the petition to the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General. The two talked over the matter, and in looking over the papers found that the people had recommended that the office be called Varrick; but it seems that, even then, the Department was in favor of making names of post offices as short as possible; names having but one syllable being preferred to longer ones. In this instance it was agreed that Varrick should be cut down to Varck, and so it remains to this day.
In a way, or for good reasons, Cherokee County lays some claim to Eugene F. Ware, at present the United States Commissioner of Pensions. Mr. Ware, when a very young man, settled in what is now Ross township. Various stories are related of his early struggles. He took claim, and it is certain that he lived much as other people lived here in those days. It is said that he broke prairie with a large plow drawn by ox teams, and that he often came to town in an ox wagon, and that he sometimes came barefooted. Others say that he did not go barefooted, in public; but it is admitted that he was a sturdy plowman, and that he never shunned hard work. Mr. Ware was a close student while he was working on his farm, and it was not long until he quit tilling the soil, studied law and was admitted to the bar. But he liked other things also. He had a vivid imagination, loved literature and sometimes wrote poetry, some of which is unexcelled. Here is his poem,--"The Washerwoman's Song,"--which, with other poems, was published in a little book, "The Iron Quill," which has given the author more than local fame:
In a very humble cot, In a rather quiet spot, In the suds and in the soap, Worked a woman, full of hope; Working, singing, all alone In a sort of undertone, "With a Savior for a friend, He will keep me to the end." Sometimes happening along, I had heard the semi-song, And I often used to smile, More in sympathy than guile; But I never said a word In regard to what I heard, As she sang about her Friend Who would keep her to the end. Not in sorrow nor in glee Working all day long was she, As her children, three or four, Played around her on the floor; But in monotones the song She was humming all day long, "With the Savior for a friend, He will keep me to the end." It's a song I do not sing, For I scarce believe a thing Of the stories that are told Of the miracles of old; But I know that her belief Is the anodyne of grief, And will always be a friend That will keep her to the end. Just a trifle lonesome she, Just as poor as poor could be, But her spirit always rose, Like the bubbles in the clothes., And though widowed and alone, Cheered her with the monotone, Of "a Savior and a friend" Who would keep her to the end. I have seen her rub and scrub, On the washboard, in the tub, While the baby soaped in suds, Rolled and tumbled in the duds; Or was paddling in the pools, With old scissors stuck in spools; She still humming of her Friend Who would keep her to the end. Human hopes and human creeds Have their roots in human needs; And I would not wish to strip From this washerwoman's lip Any song that she can sing, Any hope that songs can bring; For the woman has a Friend Who will keep her to the end.
It has been said that this poem, when read by Theodore Roosevelt, some years before he became President of the United States, touched a tender spot in his "strenuous" nature, and that through it he was led to seek Mr. Ware's acquaintace. The acquaintance ripened into a close friendship, and afterward, when there was a vacancy, and the appointing power had come to him, he made Mr. Ware his commissioner of pensions. The appointment, though it may have been made through the following of a sentiment, was prompted by good business judgment, and the people, particularly those of Kansas, have given it thorough approval.
I think that here should be given a fitting tribute to the memory of an unpretentious old man who recently departed this life, at the city of Columbus, at a very advanced age. George C. Bailey was born in Fort McHenry, near the city of Baltimore, Maryland, June 17, 1811, and he died at Columbus, Kansas, August 9, 1904. He was an old-time gentleman, quiet of manner, rugged, of industrious habits and courteous in his demeanor toward others. He did not possess much of this world's goods, but he had a proud spirit, and an ambition never to be in any way dependent. Toward midnight, August 9, 1904, an old clock, which had been keeping him time for 73 years, was ticking away the seconds in the quiet room, when he turned his face to his daughter-in-law and said: "Mary, what time is it?" She told him that it was 10 minutes to 12. Then he said: "I guess I shall be going soon, for I think I have stayed long enough." Then he was quiet for a while, but breathing and yet in his mind, until the faithful old clock chimed the hour of "low twelve," and then all was over and the more than 93 years of the spirit's lingering here was at an end, and it was free to go elsewhere, into the beauties and glories of the higher life.
Go to representative citizens index
Go to table of contents
Go to 1904 index