(Reproduced by the Author
from an old photograph
kindly submitted by
John Randolph of Clyde.
The nearest postoffice was Manhattan, but Mr. Huntress, who was living in Clay Center was interested with a business firm at Manhattan which took him there every week; on his return he would bring all the mail for the settlers as far as his house. Uncle Heller would go there after it, performing the trip most of the time on foot, a distance of twenty-five miles. He deposited the mail in his hat placed it on his head and started homeward, where the settlers were anxiously awaiting his arrival. Considering these were war times his coming must have been watched for with great eagerness. When asked if he received any compensation for his trouble he remarked in the negative, adding, he was glad to go for nothing. This service he performed for over two years. Having a son in the army from whom he was always anxious to hear no doubt made the task much lighter.
Mr. Heller was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, September 2, 1800; emigrated to the state of Kansas in 1856, and to Cloud county in August, 1860. He was among the three who were appointed county commissioners by the governor at the organization of the county and was elected to the same office by the people of the county at the next general election, and was made chairman of the first board of county commissioners. Although not a member of the church he had a high appreciation of Christain religion. His house was the first in the county thrown open for public worship and also the first in which a Sabbath school was established; in fact his house seemed to be the radiating center for everything and everybody. Mr. Heller's house was a sort of gateway to all the old settlers west of him and many a new comer has partaken of his hospitality. No one entertained more strangers or fed more of the hungry than he. He was also a man of great courage, which at one time was put to a severe test.
A company of soldiers coming through on horse back planned to frighten him. They took their places in single file, rushed toward the house on a run giving vent to a war whoop. Mr. Heller thought of course they were Indians, seized his two six shooters which he constantly kept ready for use, placed himself at the window ready to pick off the redskins one by one, as they made their appearance over the rise at the Elk creek bridge. When the first one put in an appearance Uncle Heller saw his mistake and was so overjoyed that he met them with both weapons cocked, forgetting to lay them down. The soldiers laughed and made merry, but concluded that such indulgences might terminate seriously when dealing with such characters as Uncle Heller. Mr. Heller is destined to live long in the memory of all old settlers. His frank and genial countenance left an impression that time can not easily efface.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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