Aside from the Indian depredations there were comparatively few irregularities during the early days in matters pertaining to lawlessness, The Conklin affair has been dwelt upon to some extent.
On August 25, 1867, Richard Bump and Vincent Davis were assaulted on Upton creek, the former was killed, shot down by parties from the opposite side of the creek discharging a load of shot into the body of the man, whom it was supposed the assailants had taken for other parties who were peddling goods through the country. Davis was also wounded but not fatally, and taking the lines from his dead companion drove to the Elk creek settlement. The murderers were pursued, captured and brought back to Elk creek, where they were given a preliminary trial before J.N. Hagaman, the father of J.M. Hagaman, and were held for murder. But they were not permitted to live for further justice, but were taken from the custody of the sheriff and ere the night had been spent were dangling from the limb of a tree, dead.
The consensus of opinion was that these two Jewish peddlers, Edward Zachareas and Richard Kennup, had been lying In wait for two other parties who also had wares to sell, and mistook Bump and Davis, who were good citizens just returning from a buffalo hunt, for the men they had been lying in wait for, for two days. Money was their supposed object.
On July 11, 1868, J.N. Hagaman was murdered by William Harman, After some litigation over a calf they had agreed to settle the matter of ownership by turning the cow into the herd on the principal that the calf would find its mother. J.N. Hagaman, who was herding the cattle on the Thorp place, had received orders to not let any of them go as the deputy sheriff, Bowen, had come to take them, and had deputized Harmon to go with him to attach the cattle in accordance with the decision of the court. An eye witness related to the author that after skirmishing a few moments while on their ponies, he saw Harmon ride up to a fence and pick up a club that almost seemed made for the occasion. His assailant struck Mr. Hagaman over the head with this weapon, killing him almost instantly. After a number of trials and the lapse of a number of years the case was dropped.
Harmon with his wife lived at Manhattan and while he was supposed to be incarcerated had his freedom. The result of his crime going unpunished was a laxness of the law in those days, when people seemed a law of themselves.
The Carmichael murder case occurred at Glasco, Marsh 7, 1872. Carmichael was a cattle man who lived at Abilene, but had been wintering stock near Glasco. He with his herder, Lewis, became involved in a quarrel with David and Hamilton Dalrymple, over some feed, and met in Glasco to arbitrate the trouble, imbibed too freely and the result was a fight, with a deplorable sequel. David Dalrymple was shot through the heart and expired instantly and Hamilton Dalrymple received a wound in the knee.
Carmichael received wounds from which he died a week later. Lewis was shot through the neck, but recovered. A bystander by the name of Worden, received a gunshot wound in the shoulder
There have been few other crimes committed, but it is not the intention of the writer to go into details of those of more recent date, for the space is more beneficial as well as pleasing devoted to other subjects.
The beautiful valleys of the Solomon and the Republican, that are now teeming with a wealthy and prosperous people, during the early settlement of the country were the scenes of many distressing situations, particularly is this true in the event of accident, sickness and death. And that prosterity may know more of their suffering and the heroic courage and fortitude with which they endured these privations, the following incidents will be related: During the pioneer settlements the people were always on the alert for savages and devising plans of protection, and hence located claims in close proximity to each other. In the spring of 1866 the Howards, from Missouri, and the Higgins, from Nemaha county, Kansas, joined the new settlements on the Solomon river and to add strength to their forces built a dougout on the claim of M.D. Teasley, the other settlers all combining to assist in building a good sized home about 12X16 feet (large for that period) for the Howard family, the Higgins preferring their tent. Mr. Howard, a Canadian by birth, had lost an arm in the lumber mills of that country and remained where the excavating was in course of proceeding while the other men and boys were cutting poles and logs to cover the structure. They had taken especial pains to secure a strong log for the ridge pole, all unconscious as they labored for their new neighbor, they were preparing a death trap for the doomed family. The tree selected had every appearance of being sound and was from sixteen to eighteen inches in diameter The hearts of the new dwellers were swelled with pride and happiness as they were preparing their first evening meal in the new quarters and were seated around the spread made on the earth of their new abode, innocently exchanging pleasantries. Mr. Howard had just arose from eating his supper and was in the act of lighting his pipe - the other members of the family, the wife. seven children and one grand child, were seated around the table - when, without a note of warning, with a crash the roof fell in upon them. Mr. Howard's neck was broken and he was badly crushed otherwise, never speaking a word. Joseph, the third son, who was about sixteen years of age was mortally wounded, his chest and abdomen being crushed by the debris. Mrs. Howard was seriously but not fatally injured. A babe in her arms was badly stunned and for some time thought to be dead, but under the timely administrations of Mrs. Rhoda Teasley, the little one recovered from the shock. It seemed hours long drawn out to their terror-stricken neighbors before they could extricate the victims, but was probably the work of a few moments only.
When Mrs. Howard was released, going to her son she asked: "Are you hurt, Joseph?" He turned his eyes upon her face and replied: "Oh, mother, mother, mother." Those were the last words he spoke and died in a few minutes. The other inmates were unhurt.
This event carried the deepest gloom into the midst of this little colony The father and son were consigned to the cold earth without a coffin, their bodies wrapped in a sheet, placed in a comfort and laid to rest. It would be impossible to describe the scene of desolation the horrowing details of this catastrophe made doubly so by the conditions surrounding the frontier settlers. This was the first burial in the old cemetery which is located about a half-mile south of the new one at Glasco.
The accident occurred from a Paw in the tree caused by a limb that had decayed and fallen off, leaving all aperture where water collected and had caused decay inside the log, which proved to be nearly a shell, but to all outside appearance was sound. A new dugout was built with extraordinary precaution and the unfortunate family continued to live in the settlement. The Howards brought with them the first sheep introduced into the Solomon valley.
In the autumn of 1867 the death of a little child occurred in the settlement, one of the first in the Solomon valley. The family lived on Chris creek. East of them lived Wilson Mitchell. After the body of the little five-year-old girl, the pride of her fond parents, was made ready for burial, the kind, sympathizing friends began to devise some means of obtaining a coffin. Mr. Mitchell proffered his services and said if lumber could he provided he would make one. Mrs. Phoebe Snyder was one of the good neighhors who was endeavoring to soften the grief of the mother by laying her offspring to rest as tenderly as the means at hand would allow, asked Mr. Mitchell if the boards could not he planed. He replied alas, it was impossible for the lack of tools to work with. Mrs. Snyder, true to the instinct of a sympathizing mother, utilized her black silk apron along with some black silk handkerchiefs she gathered from the settlers, and neatly covered the home-made casket on the outside, and the inside with white muslin. Nails were driven in the lid, and after the body was removed to the wagon that was to convey the remains to their last resting place, that the mother might not hear the doleful sound of the hammer, the nails were driven down while the sorrowing parents were yet in doors. This family were not so courageous as the Howards, but left the melancholy scene soon afterward for their former eastern home.
Beginning with the northeast corner of Nemaha county, there is a line to the western boundary of the state making one continuous line for nearly all of what is called the northern tier of counties. Republican county being the only exception, the question naturally arises: Why this deviation?
We give in substance Mr. Rupe's version of the matter. When the boundary lines of Saline county were established, it being the first one organized west of the sixth principal meridian, Col. Phillips was in the legislatture and being interested in making Saline the county seat of this new county, conformed the northern and southern lines so as to bring his town in the center. This left twelve townships of twelve tiers of townships between Saline county and Nebraska, which had to be divided between three other counties, afterward known as Ottawa, Shirley and Republic. The latter came in for an equal distribution which gave her only four tiers, which is one less than the other northern tier counties with the exception of Brown and Donovan.
The people of Republic county disliked the idea of being denied the territory. They demanded which justly belonged to them and consequently clamored for the extra tier. This could not be done without doing great injustice to Cloud county, (then Shirley,) or destroying a well established order of things. Mr. Rupe knew the people of Shirley county were dissatisfied with the relative position of the county lines, especially on Elk creek; so after his election he conceived the idea of dividing the county exactly in the middle, east and west, throwing the north half into Republic and the south half into Ottawa county, making two out of three counties.
Among the reasons he had for doing this was an imperfect idea of the future resources. He advanced the idea that the settlements would be mainly confined to the river bottom and creek valleys, the river running through but little over half the length of the county they were deprived of what he considered a great deal of the most valuable lands, and consequently thought they would always be a weak county. The plan of dividing the county would give about thirty miles more of the river bottom and do much in the way of addition to the taxable property.
While this would have made two rather large counties, he thought those townships situated on the divide would never amount to much, the land could never be utilized (and this opinion was shared by R.D. Mobley, of Ottawa); in his opinion these lands were a mere waste and the few settlers that were likely to attain, would be confined to the heads of the creeks and consequently these two counties would subsequently have but the five tiers of townships, after all, and would give to them that which they stood sorely in need of, more strength by way of taxable property, and their county would especially be one of the strongest in the west.
This one of the circumstances as existing then, will no doubt be amusing to the people of Colfax, Aurora, Nelson, Center, Arion and Summit townships, as well as the next tier south of them, as they reflect Mr. Rupe's ideas of their future growth. This bill failed for two reasons; first, the western delegation was strongly opposed to obliterating one of their counties; second, there was a petition from his own and Republic county against it, so he did not press it, but allowed it to die a natural death. The people of Republic county, however, admitted afterward they did not have a fair understanding of its nature.
The subject of the founder and first settler of Cloud county has occasioned much controversy and sonic discussion between these two old landmarks, J.B. Rupe and J.M. Hagaman, each of whom have contributed a series of history and early reminiscences through the columns of the Clyde Herald and Concordia Made.
Mr. J.B. Rupe has kindly submitted these "early recollections," and we will quote from them largely, as his statements are followed up with proofs and logic that are indisputable. It is conceded by his friends and the old settlers that his notes have been carefully gathered and are reliable to the best of his knowledge and that to be obtained.
During the year 1880, Mr. Rupe had personal interviews with Lew Fowler and J.M. Thorp and in accordance with the statements of Mr. Fowler, he and his brother and John and Harlow Seymore, came to what is now Cloud county, in July 1858. They were joined shortly afterward by a man named G.W. Brown, who was married and had his family with him. The Fowlers at this time were both single men. Shortly afterward they built the fatal "Conklin house," erected on their town site, Much they called Eaton city. Some sod was turned on this ground and a well was partly dug, which was filled by dirt thrown from the track during the building of the Kansas Pacific railroad.
After looking up all the available history, the palm must be yielded to the Fowler brothers, as the first settlers. It leaves no room for doubt that to them the honor belongs. They built the first house in the county, turned the first sod and made the first attempt at digging a well. David Sheets located on Elm creek in April, 1860, and left in July of the same year. To him has been given the credit of being the first settler. The Fowler brothers were here before and remained after Sheets left, and later enlisted in the United States service, made valiant soldiers and immediately after the war returned, but located different claims and both were nominated for office in the autumn of 1866.
Aside from this, they were Kansans, being in the state in 1854, and fought the border ruffians in the interest of the free state. Mr. Rupe after much research affirm, and we believe correctly, "The Fowlers were the first white settlers in what is now Cloud county, and from the time of their settlement there has always been white settlers and that there never was a time when the three families spoken of by J.M. Hagaman, viz: Hagaman, Thorp and Fenski, were the only settlers in the county, as he has stated at various times."
Mr. Rupe kindly concludes by saying he does not wish to pluck from Mr. Hagaman a single laurel that belongs to him, but history is history and nothing should go into it but facts.
The following testimony of Peter Eslinger and his wife, Magdeline Eslinger, establishes a claim of the Fowler brothers as the first settlers beyond a doubt:
"We settled on Parson's creek, in Washington county, July 17, 1859. Lew and John Fowler, C.W. Brown and Harley Seymore were the first white settlers west of Peach creek, and then settled on Elk creek and personally know of their raising what has since been termed the "Conklin" House, and that they were the orignators of the town site called Eaton city, where said house was built."
In a letter from N.E. Eslinger is established another well grounded claim. He writes:
"I came to Parsons creek July 17, 1859, and Peter Adams, who is now dead, with myself helped the Fowlers, Brown and Seymour to raise what is now known as the Conklin House. E. ESLINGER."
With the next settlers others followed but when the Fowlers came, not a single human habitation was to be found. They erected the first cabin, the first furrow of sod was turned by them and the first well was begun. They came in July, 1858, and through the summer months dwelt in a tent; winter came on and they were compelled to abandon their little canvas house and seek shelter in the warmer quarters of a dugout which they built on the banks of Elk creek. In the autumn of 1859, they erected their cabin and wintered there, making their second winter and still no other settlers.
As an evidence of their abiding faith in the country, they laid out and regularly platted a town site. Sylvanus Furrows and one Starr were the surveyors; but misfortune overtook these early settlers and they were compelled to seek other employment. They left with the intention of returning and finally joined a Kansas regiment, Lew Fowler enlisting as a veteran.
As evidenice of their intention to return, John Fowler and James Williamson, a brother-in-law, came back immediately after the war, in the autumn of 1865, and located, but their claims had been taken by other parties. Lew Fowler was detained in the service. Soon as necessary preparations could be made they settled in Cloud county again in the spring of 1866.
Others who followed these bold adventurers early in the spring of 1860, were Parks, Kearney, Thomas Heffington, who subsequently moved to Elk creek, Philip A. Kizer, Joseph Finney, John Allen, and John Sheets. Allen and Kizer were located near Lake Silbey, John Sheets on Elm creek and the others on Elk creek. Heffington died some time during the year 1862 or '63 and his remains lie buried in the cemetery near Clyde.
They had been in the country six months and were voters - a voter is undoubtedly a settler. Parks sold his claim to Moses Heller and his son David for a yoke of steers. This claim is the old Heller farm, the one on which the Pomeroy house was built. Parks was living on this claim at the time, consequently he exercised one of the rights that belonged to a settler. This transaction took place in April, 1860. Parks then moved on to a claim on the farm now owned by the Turners. Although his reputation was bad, Parks must have had intentions of becoming a regular settler.
When Parks left this vicinity he went to Manhatten.[sic] During the summer of 1861, while trying to cross the Republican river enroute to Elk creek, he was drowned. His body was found just across the river where Fred Herman's barn was located, and buried near there, by David Heller and one of the Scribner boys. When discovered his body was so nearly devoured by birds and wolves as to be scarcely recognizable. No lumber being obtainable, they were obliged to bury the body in an old tool chest.
Jacob Heller settled on Elk creek, June 20, 1860, on the claim afterward taken by his brother, Israel Heller, preceding his father and brothers, Israel and David, from June until August of the same year. Jacob was accidentally killed while pulling a loaded gun from a wagon. He had just returned from Salt creek with "shakes" intended for his new house. His is the first death recorded in the county.
When the Fowlers and Browns settled west of the 6th principal meridan, they were the only white settlers in this part of Kansas, marked by that line. It was then thought by the people of the eastern part of the state, scarcely necessary to give these counties boundary lines, much less organization; the country being thought desirable for no other purpose than grazing of the buffalo and the hunting grounds of the red man - a part of the great American desert.
While the Elm creek settlement could not date its birth back so far at this time it was in a more prosperous condition. The people seemed to be favored with better opportunities for improvement, generally were men with families, more determined in the purpose of making their final homes. The settlers with their families who established their homes on Elm creek, July 15, 1860, were J.M. Hagaman, wife and one child; J.M. Thorp, wife and six children; August Fenskie, wife and one child.
The result was they immediately went to work and within a short time made more substantial improvements and were soon hauling their surplus farm products to market. Among the settlers of this locality who followed the ensuing year were William and Fred Czapanski, with their families, a Mr. Webber and George Wilson. In 1862 Zachariah Swearingen, Richard Coughlen, John David Robertson, Joseph Berry and their families joined the frontier settlement. From among this number the ranks of the Union army were swelled by the enlistment of Fred Czapanski, Jacob and Caleb (sons of J.M. Thorp), David Robertson and Joseph Berry.
Some of these settlers had farms under a fair state of cultivation. These people are entitled to great credit for building a school house as early as 1864 or 1865, and a term of school was taught the same year. Miss Rosella Honey, a daughter of Randal Honey and now the wife of Matt Wilcox, was the teacher. To her fell the honor of having taught the first school in Cloud county, and one among the very first in the Republican valley, and this settlement may claim the honor of building the first school house; not of the most approved style, perhaps, being built of round cottonwood logs about fourteen by sixteen feet in dimensions, dirt roof and terra frima floor, yet it was an acquisition in those days to the frontier. Rude as it was J.M. Thorpe is said to have declared he would not take $500 for what his children had learned in this humble seat of learning - a compliment to Miss Honey.
It was in this community the first voting precinct was established which then consisted of the whole county. These enterprises were indicative of thrift and determination well worthy of compliment. The dividing line between these two settlements was the Republican river, hence we have "North side of the river" and "South side of the river." There were advantages enjoyed by the north side over the south as they had the military road leading from Fort Riley to Fort Kearney. The government had built bridges over the principal streams and creeks which confined the public travel mainly to the north side.
The mail route, the mills and the postoffices being on the north side, country stores would naturally follow in their wake. To avail themselves of these advantages the people of the south side were often put to the inconvenience and at times great annoyance of crossing, and recrossing the river, which had to be done by fording. As an illustration, J.M. Thorpe and J.M. Hagaman were enroute to mill and with their loaded teams had the misfortune to get one of them "stuck" in the mud. With water up to their waists and large cakes of ice floating down the river they unloaded their sacks of grain and carried them to land on their shoulders.
They were a hardy people and endeavored to build up their locality, making it inviting with those conveniences necessary to permanent growth. This made them to a certain extent competitors to the north side of the river, which gave rise to jealousy between the two settlements, and the race between the two in the acquisition of political power was the cause of considerable crookedness in the affairs of the county during its organization.
While the people of Elk Creek had the conveniences on their side, those on Elm had the largest population and the most wealth. From the condition of the county lines the prospective future county seat was bound to be located on their side of the river. These petty jealousies have long since died out, but these matters are referred to as a part of the history of the county.
It will probably be of interest to all the old settlers to know that John D. Robertson, once the pioneer merchant of Sibley, is now president of the Interstate Bank of Kansas City, the only banking house in the locality of the stockyards.
Some time in the latter part of June, 1865, after having been discharged, from the service of "Uncle Sam," Mr. Rupe visited this somewhat historic country and expressed surprise at the apparent simplicity of its inhabitants. It had the appearance of beginning the world anew. Old and stiff formalities and fashionable society had not yet crept in. Strangers and everybody seemed welcome with that familiarity that made people feel their lot was cast in pleasant places. That state of feeling grew partially out of the fact that "Uncle Sam" had the kindness to make the proposition that by merely paying a stipend and living on a quarter section for five years, we should receive a title in fee simple for the same and thus become one of the freeholders to these magnificent lands, had much to do with buoying new hopes that here one might settle down and grow up with the country.
The people were intelligent and those who came from the east expecting to build themselves up in public life on account of their superior intelligence, found themselves much mistaken and left in the background. When Mr. Rupe arrived in Clay Center, his first trip up the Republican valley, he heard some talk about celebrating the coming fourth of July. He was astonished that a country so thinly populated should observe that day, and secondly that a man among them capable of making a speech could be found, Considering it an impossibility, he resolved to see the result.
He learned that Mr. Huntress, of Clay Center, was to be the orator of the day. Mr. Huntress was not an orator and Mr. Rupe wondered to himself why he should undertake to deliver in address. The celebration took place near the residence of J.C. Chester, on Petes creek. A crowd to the number of two hundred or more were gathered and after the usual exchange of pleasantries common to such occasions, the meeting was called to order, and Mr. Huntress proceeded with his address, which was read from a carefully prepared manuscript. The production, manner, style, and delivery would have done honor to more pretentious lecturers. The crowd was orderly and well behaved, and all listened with marked attention. Mr. Huntress demonstrated the fact that talent was to be found even among frontiersmen.
After this address a sumptious feast was prepared. A long table had been previously arranged and all partook of the refreshments that were palatable enough to satisfy the most epicurean taste. After the inner man had been faithfully served and order again restored, one Mr. Bosman, was introduced by Mr. Huntress, who then addressed the people. It was not an eloquent speech, neither was it fluent, but his happy style of illustration made it exceedingly interesting. His speech was rembered[sic] for years afterward and its illustrations and hints commented upon, which tell of its impression.
Lastly, though far from being the least, the Reverend R.P. West delivered an oration. This affair must have a final, and none could render it more effectually: the cap sheaf was laid on by this somewhat eccentric man. This anniversary, following closely after the war, his theme was more on its causes and results. After paying a glowing tribute to our heroes and administering a severe rebuke to those who rebelled against the "dear old flag," he showed the tyranny of the Jeff Davis crew, by reading a poem purporting to have been written by one of our starving soldlers in a rebel prison to his mother.
Being all of one political faith, much of these speeches were given to hurling anathemas at what was then called "copper heads." A Democrat at this time among them would have fared badly, so in this matter they had no feelings to save.
After this very enjoyable fete, enroute back to Clay Center, Mr. Rupe spent the night at the home of Mr. Huntress, who expressed himself as being much elated over the success felt, congratulating upon the size of the crowd and boasted of how well the valley was beginning to be settled, incidentally remarking, "neither were they all out." With this he began counting the families who remained at home, beginning with Republic and Shirley counties, then including Clay and a large part of Washington counties. The impression received was that it was a large neighborhood, and yet he talked of these families just as if they all lived around and about him. This was not the first celebration held in the valley, for there had been one the year before on Salt creek, in which R.P. West held forth as the orator of the day.
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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