Church work in the new settlement was somewhat sterile, a want that was sadly felt. Mr. Rupe says in his "Early Recollections," "We find even Hagaman, who considers himself the leading infidel in the country, judging from what he says in his own paper, deploring the fact that Mrs. Mentz in her burial had neither singing nor prayer." Even after religious services had been instigated its progress was slow. It was over three years before public worship was held and very near seven years before a church was established in the county, dating from the first settlement. It is doubtful if a parallel case can be found.
The late Reverend R.P. West enjoyed not only the distinction of establishing the first place of worship in the county, but delivered the first sermon, organized the first church and Sabbath school, and on down to a later date he preached the first sermon in Concordia. His work at one time embraced all of Cloud, Republic, Clay and a large part of Washington county., all of which are living witnesses of his early labors.
Toward the close of 1863, R.P. West settled in the Republican valley and immediately began his ministerial efforts, holding religious meetings wherever the most convenient. Clifton, Washington county, was among the first meeting places, that being a sort of mid-way station between the settlements on Petes and Elm creeks. He organized a church there, but though so well centralized he found it necessary to solicit the members of various denominations to unite with the Methodist Episcopal church in order to effect an organization, under the promise that as soon as other churches were established they could claim the privilege of withdrawing and unite with the church of their choice.
Reverend West being a Methodist, and probably a majority of the settlers were of that persuasion, they were united under that head. About the same time, he began holding services at the home of "Uncle" Heller, which was in reach of most of the people. So it will be seen 1863 was the year religious services were observed in the county but no church organized until in the spring time of 1866.
During 1864, a young lady from Ohio, attended one of these meetings and was somewhat anxious to have the frontier minister pointed out to her. There was a well dressed man present who bore a rather sanctimonious look, and she asked a friend if that were not he, but received an answer in the negative. PresentIy a man entered clothed in a pair of overalls, all old black coat with a rip in one of the back side seams and anything but a dignified appearance. The young lady was surprised to receive a hunch from her friend, which intimated "that is the preacher."
A Sabbath School was not organized until some time In 1864, at Clifton, and the following year in the Elk Creek settlement. The Baptist church was organized on January 10, 1867, under the ministration of the Reverend H.S. Cloud. The Reverend Cloud is deserving of more than passing mention. He lived on Fancy creek, Riley county. Although not a pretentious preacher, he was a man of education, possessed of a rich and cultivated mind. He was devoted and self-sacrificing in his work. Arduous in his labors on the frontier and well deserving though he was scarcely renumerated for his toll. He afterward moved to Iowa.
The Presbyterians had no organization until some time in May, 1870. The action taken at that time was of irregular order and it is doubtful whether that body dates its organization to this period, in which event the church in Concordia obtains precedence. This attempted organization was the work of the Reverend Mr. Chaplin, then a resident of Irving.
The following is clipped from Colonel E.T. Jenkins' admirable little volume, The Northern Tier. The author was a warm personal friend of Reverend West and characterizes him in a humorous, but fitting way, as the Reverend Romulus Pintus Westlake.
"It was announced that he would preach in the land office building a certain Sunday. He appeared at the appointed time and the settlers for miles around came to hear him. Upon inquiry it was ascertained that there was not a Bible in the village, and the preacher had failed to bring one, and likewise had forgotten his text, but intimated his ability to find it if he had a Bible. After reflecting a moment, he remembered detached portions of the passages, but had forgotten the exact language, or the order in which they appeared in Holy Writ. After the usual preliminary ceremonies, he proceeded as follows:
"'My friends and fellow-travelers in this wild frontier region - the land of our adoption - my Christian duty impels me to appear before you and present to you that brightest jewel among the gifts bestowed upon mankind (the gospel), as taught by those who have gone before me - "the latchets of whose shoes I am unworthy to unloose." The regard I have for the truth compels me to admit that 1 have forgotten the chapter and verse, as well as the exact language of my text; but as near as I remember, it is about as follows: "Disturb not the old landmarks, though you be hewers of wood and drawers of water;" from which I deduce and supply the following as the foundation of my remarks on this occasion: "Hew to the line, let the chips fall where they may." The text truly demonstrates that those who uttered it had an eye to business, temporal as well as spiritual. Whether Solomon was right in forbidding the removal of the old landmarks, or Joshua in imposing the duty of hewers of wood and drawers of water upon the conquered Canaanites, is a question too profound for a common preacher on the frontier, and I accept all Bible teaching as true, as I find it, without adding to or subtracting from it one jot or tittle.
"'But being without a Bible, I am compelled to use a figure of speech on which to base my sermon; hence my subject, "Hew to the line, let the chips fall where they may, but disturb not the old landmarks in doing so." Judging all the homestead settlers by myself, they are all more or less "hewers of wood and drawers of water," in a physical and moral point of view, differing from the hewers and drawers of old time in this: that the homestead settlers are free and independent in a free country. while the old-time hewers and drawers were bondmen, or slaves. That part of the text that commands, "Disturb not the old landmarks," might be applied to the monuments and cornerstones erected by the surveyors when this country was surveyed, but I apply it to the moral and religious landmarks established by the church in its early days.
"'A departure from the old landmarks thus established, leads to new and doubtful theories and doctrines, and little by little the first principles and original doctrines are lost sight of, and infidelity, spiritualism and kindred dogmas usurp the place of the grand apostolic doctrines in the mind, and the original truths are discarded by those who seek the seductive paths of science and embrace the "liberal" tenets of infidelity. Therefore disturb not the old doctrinal landmarks of faith, lest you meander too far from the true line - the original witness - trees or monumental corners of the true survey.
"'The hewers of wood and drawers of water produce more happiness in the world than the nobles and aristocrats who bask in the sunshine of idleness, and subsist on the products of the honest toil of the laborers. The blood of a king whose commands rack a nation from center to circumference, and whose sword awes a continent into submission is no better than that of the serf whom the king holds in bondage or in servile allegiance. He who was rocked in a sugar-trough for a cradle, and reared in the moss-grown log cabin, may be a better, happier and wiser man than the aristocrat, whose infant cries were smothered with gorgeous drapery in a magnificent cradle, and reared amid the frescoed halls of a palace.
"'The honest laborer and Christian who "hews to the line," makes society better and happier, and causes the light of civilization to penetrate the wilderness, thus dispelling the gloom of ignorance and barbarism, and causes Christianity to spread its genial rays wide over the world, may truly be classed as one of Nature's noblemen.
"'Many there are who, unhonored, have left in every footprint, from the cradle to the grave, brilliant examples of honesty and integrity; whose energy and enterprise have caused the rose to blossom upon the desert waste, beautified the forest wilds, and gathered the splendors of the valley into the storehouse of usefulness. They hewed to the line, and won their reward in the sweat of holiest toll. It has been written, "Whatsoever thou findest to do, do it with thy might:" and I add, when thou doest it, "Hew to the line."
"'Pope said, "An honest man is the noblest work of God." What kind of a job would the old poet have designated a "dead-beat," or a dishonest rascal, whose dally life is a routine of rascality, blasphemy and wickedness? Christianity, when professed and practiced sincerely, not onIy makes men better and happier, but also causes them to exhibit honesty and integrity of purpose in their intercourse with their fellow-men, thereby aiding to diffuse happiness throughout society. "Remove the beam from thine own eye before thou searchest for the mote in thy brother's eye," is as applicable west of the sixth principal meridian as it was nearly two thousand years ago on the shores of the Mediterranean.
"'There are many men, however, who bottle up their religion on week days and make a regular soda fountain of it on Sunday.'
"Here some of the audience at the rear end of the building began to laugh, which soon spread among the entire congregation. I expected to hear the preacher reprove them, but instead thereof, he smiled one of his peculiar smiles, and looking at the audience for a moment, exclaimed in an emphatic manner, 'Laugh and grow fat, but hew to the line!' This was too much for the audience, and they enjoyed a hearty laugh, in which the preacher joined. As soon as order was restored, he proceeded as follows:
"'There are other men who whittle their religion, like a boy whittling a stick, down to the fine point of nothing.'
"More merriment among the audience, in which Romulus joined, after which he again proceeded as follows:
"'Charity begins at home, and with many people remains at home. It has been written, "Love your enemies;" and I do try to love mine, even the Indians, according to divine command, if they will stay away from this country so far that "Distance lends enchantment to the view."
"'A philosopher may learn wisdom from a fool, and a Wall street broker may learn integrity from a homestead settler. The difference between a sea captain and a stage driver is not so great as most people imagine, as both are clothed with grave responsibility. The Ten Commandments are a wise collection of rules, and if strictly obeyed, the people would be better and happier - peace and good order would reign. But some strictly observe one of the commandments, and perhaps violate the others. A deacon may swap horses with a layman and get the best of the bargain, or a man of the world practice chicanery with an easy-going Christian, without any check of conscience. Others assume the voluntary responsibility of attending to the affairs of an entire community, by dictating their duty in detail, making telegraphic announcement of the shortcomings of their neighbors throughout the neighborhood. All persons have their friends, some more, some less, but everyone is the recipient of more or less censure from the gossip-heralds of the community. But those who "hew to the line," regardless of the fault-finding of others, sooner or later will brighten the pathway of Christianity.
"Human nature is the same in all ages of the world; cultivate it in the right direction, and It develops the beautiful and ornamental design of the Creator; debase it, and it becomes the opposite.
"While the pagan is worshipping his idol, the civilized Christian reading his Bible, the Indian is daubing his face with warpaint, counting his scalps, or reconnoitering a frontier settlement, to rob and murder - all done by the light of the same sun that illuminates the universe. Statesmen wrangle about the affairs of government, kings go to war for supremacy and power, while the homestead settler breaks prairie, plants his crops, and reads his Bible in his rude dugout, and is the happiest man.
"Though his dugout is rude in architecture, it shelters him and his family; and the wind may whistle through it, the wolves howl around it, but his little family gather closer about him as he reads his Bible and offers his devotions. He is in his castle, across the threshold of which no potentate dare venture without permission, and no sectarian scepter deters him from his Christian home in the East. There are many dugouts and such homes up and down this valley, and scattered over the frontier, before the doors of which my pony has often been hitched while I preached within.
"The line should be straight, not zig-zag. Every bee-hunter knows full well that when the bee leaves its field of labor and starts for its home - the hive, the course it pursues is in a straight line. Though it may have wandered into new floral fields hitherto unexplored, or threatened by the near approach of a storm-cloud, its instinct teaches it that its chosen straight line is the shortest route to its home, and no deviation lengthens its journey. A true man may learn wisdom from the Plight of the honey-bee.
"The zig-zag line is often followed in the journey of life, and in the scramble for the almighty dollar, and, like a cottonwood board fence, is alternately warped and straightened by the storms of misfortune, or the sunshine of pleasure and happiness.
"The straighter the line of conduct, the less the pressure on the conscience; and when the end is reached, the memory stretches backward to the paths of the past, lingering a moment at the guideposts that pointed the route of travel through the moral world.
"Many men during their evil days tear down the partition wall between their conscience and their dally practice, and fail or neglect to repair or rebuild It after they make profession of a change in their moral conduct, or dead-head their way into the church. The evil one erects false guide-posts all along the pathway of life, primed and painted with the allurements of vice, that sooner or later cause the traveler or hewer to deviate from the straight line, and he wanders into the wilderness of wickedness and despair.
"There are no proxies in religiion, and as every tub stands upon its own bottom, so verily, 'he that tooteth not his own horn, the same shall not be tooted.' If you are on the down grade, put on the brakes.
"Chalk your line with the best intentions and resolutions you have, then hew to it without disturbing the 'old landmarks,' all along the journey of life, through evil as well as good repute, on week days as well as Sundays, amid prosperity and adversity, with charity and Christian duty inscribed on your banner, and you will have a morality that will neither rip, ravel, nor rust.
"I do not preach for money, and I never ask for any contributions for my preaching: but if some kind friend will invite me home with him to a good dinner, and furnish some provender for my pony, he will receive his reward."
He usually sang all his hymns in the same tune - Old Hundred - and he closed his services by singing the words of the Doxology in that venerable tune, with his musical voice and original variations, while a few of his congregation sang the words in the proper air, and if the discord was detected by anyone present, due allowance was made for the privilege of having a sermon and time-honored hymn-singing on the frontier.
It would be unpardonable to omit giving some of the buffalo hunting episodes as recited by sportsmen of the plains, whose fires of animation run high as they recall the pursuit engaged in with such fondness. "A life on the ocean. wave" stirs the heart of the sailor; an existence on the plains delights the heart of the huntsman, to whom danger but adds zeal and spice. Even fear gives coloring to the canvas on which the story is painted. To be a hero of the plains is a joy forever, and the ability to narrate from actual experience of adventure attendant to fights with buffalo and "redskins" is a joy to the narrator as well as listener.
The traditions will be handed down from generation to generation and, although many moons will have waned since the events transpired, the same concern and inspiration will be awakened.
The last two buffalo slain in Cloud county were killed by Lewis Kiggins, of Grant township. The first of the two mentioned was shot In the spring of 1871 on the farm now owned by Samuel Clark. The other was captured in the summer of the same year on the farm of Patrick Murray. The event was made memorable by the assailants of the animal appearing in the chase with pitchforks, hoes, knives and other formidable weapons. There were three buffalo that had wandered away from the main herd - they pursued them, but the other two escaped. The party was comprised of William H. Ansdell, Lewis Carter, the late George Champlin and Lewis Kiggins. The latter was mounted on a horse, carried a gun and was entitled to the honor of slaying the last "hero of the plain" in Cloud county. The buffalo was run to earth and slain within a few rods of Mr. Murray's cabin on Cheyenne creek.
E.C. Davidson, one of the old-timers and well-to-do farmers (see sketch) of the Glasco country, J.L. Hostettler, who lived many years on the Solomon, and two settlers named Anderson and Bible, - all hardy men, inured to camp life and hardships, jovial fellows and "crack shots," - fitted themselves out with camping supplies and started westward, where hundreds of buffalo roamed the prairies. The proposed route took them across Asher creek and thence to Mulberry, where they encountered an unlookedfor difficulty, which was disastrous to their supply of food. The crossing had been rendered impassable by washouts, and as they attempted to drive through the creek the wagon, hunters, oats and provisions were overturned into the channel of the muddy stream. But undaunted by this - to them - trivial circumstance the indomitable sportsmen, true to the intrepidity of pioneers, assorted their provender - which they were not surfeited with - from that of their faithful horses, and full of assurance, pursued their journey to the hunting grounds where juicy buffalo steaks would substantiate their depleted eatables. While the entire party were excellent marksmen and hunters of smaller game, Mr. Bible stood alone in buffalo-shooting experience, and, accordingly, manifested considerable pride and self-esteem, as with a lordly air he remarked of his prowess, saying he would show them "how it was done."
Shortly after this display of egotism a monarch of the plain was sighted. Written in capital letters all over the countenances of the crew was the desire, "I want to kill him," but Bible put a quietus on the longings of his comrades by exclaiming in an imperative tone of voice, "No! I will give him the deadener and you fellows watch me." The mind of each excited hunter reverted to the diminished quantity of their mess-box and reluctantly assented to allow their superior and recognized leader to fire the first shot. While the missile sent out by the skillful marksman was not a fatal shot, the huge beast - that seemed in proportions a towering mountain to the "tenderfeet" of the crowd - ran a few rods and fell to the earth wounded. Then followed a scene that would baffle the most fertile brain or brush of an artist to reproduce. The remaining trio, quivering with suppressed action, instantly seized upon the situation and literally filled the body of the animal with ammunition, regardless of vital spots. It would not be. unreasonable to suppose each man with an inward delight said to himself, "We killed a buffalo."
Around the camp fire that night in interesting picture can be imagined. After feasting on choice cuts of tenderloin and an hour or more spent in puffing wreaths of smoke from their pipes or spinning, the traditional hunting yarns, they wrapped themselves in their blankets and the scenes of the day were soon obliterated by the suspension of the powers that control body and mind. Upon the following morning they arose at dawn, invigorated and ready for special action. Nor did they journey far ere they found the prairies dotted with vast herds of magnificent beasts, affording ample practice for the amateur buffalo hunters, who very soon became adepts in the vocation and champion marksmen, securing in a brief time all they could carry home from the field. While they were dressing their game scores of hungry coyotes gathered thickly around and about them - dozens of the half-starved creatures everywhere. On this trip the party passed a recently deserted Indian camp which apparently had been vacated but a few hours as the fires were still smoldering. Mingled with the fear, apprehension, and cheerless sensation that the dangerously close proximity of the savages produced was doubtless a sort of jubilant feeling that their scalps were exactly on the spot where they belonged instead of dangling at the belt of some murderous Indian warrior.
In the summer of 1870 a buffalo hunting party comprised of William H. Ansdell, Jack Robinnet, James Kiggins, Mr. Friend, Gus. Thomas and Lewis Carter, accompanied by an old hunter of the plains from Jewell City, who acted as guide, and in accordance with a proposal to make the Solomon Valley, where the main herd grazed, their destination, the company turned in that direction; but before they arrived in that region they were fortunate enough to kill a wild cow and calf, which supplied them with meat until they could reach camp and make preparations for the hunt. Everything being in readiness for the occasion the hunters started out In various directions. Mr. Friend and Mr. Carter pursued a course up the river and had not gone far when they discovered a buffalo grazing on a hillside about two miles distant. The hunters who were novices in the matter of such gigantic game were overjoyed at their good fortune in immediately sighting a victim, and such a shining mark he appeared while leisurely feeding on the grass and growing herbage on the declivity of the hill. So fearful were the unschooled sportsmen that their appearance would frighten the animals, when a mile and a half away, they crawled upon their hands and knees until they had sneaked up within gun-shot range, and when they arrived at length with aching knees and skinned shins, produced by drawing their bodies along the ground, the excited pair were seized by what was known in pioneer parlance "buffalo fever," but what would be termed in modern times nervous excitement. When they attempted to level a bead on the buffalo that continued to leisurely feed on the hillside, the rifles swayed in their trembling hands like reeds in a stiff Kansas breeze.
After repeated efforts to steady their shattered nerves, they hit upon a plan for devising a rest by rearing a sort of wall made from the innumerable "buffalo chips" that covered the prairie, placed their guns on the improvised support and when the signal was given, both weapons were fired simultaneously, but it was an extra volley from Mr. Carter's gun that brought the buffalo toppling forward; that irrevocably fixed his fate. Anxious moments followed, for they recalled the experiences of sensational story tellers who always dwelt with emphasis upon the dangers encountered with the wounded buffalo, hence they whetted and sharpened their knives and implements of war for a skirmish with the injured monarch, and cautiously creeping up to their victim found it barely alive, and also discovered it had been in that condition for many, many days. The hide was almost devoid of hair, the animal was blind as a bat. and Mr. Carter declares the bullet which passed through its body did not extract enough blood to wet the end of his little finger. The disappointed huntsmen left their blind, hairless and toothless trophy on the field, after having put the old residenter out of his misery, and continued on their way up the river, where they were rewarded by better success and with less drain upon their nervous systems. After spending several days most delightfully and securing all the meat they could use, returned to their homes, where they told how by "their prowess they had conquered all."
In honor of Welt Smith and John Clark, young men who were visiting friends in Sibley township, and to render their western trip devoid of deficiences, a buffalo-hunting tour was planned in December, 1870.
Steve Chapman, Charles Taggart, Ed. Kenyon, Wesley Kenyon, Judson M. Dutton and Henry L. Dutton, delighted to thus entertain their friends and guests, entered into the spirit of the proposition with the greatest complaisance, and perhaps jollier fellows never spent three weeks on the plains in the festive hunt than the eight individuals who comprised this company. The conditions of the atmosphere or the disturbances of the elements did not agitate them very seriously, although a storm was ragging ere they were out forty-eight hours. The second night they camped on Oak creek, west of where the present city of Downs is located, and when they arose next morning and pulled aside the door of their little canvas house they found the earth draped in a mantle of white; the tent weighted with the fall of snow, which, as it melted, flowed in from all sides; but no expressions of regret were heard even though their camp was in a deplorable condition and their supply of salt dissolved. Breakfast dispatched, they pursued their way along the Solomon river until they came to the buffalo grounds, where from the vast herds that roamed the hills in every direction they filled the four wagons with the rear quarters of the magnificent animals; and of all the splendid beasts they slayed, not a hide was saved.
During this expedition these hunters encountered a terrific blizzard and almost perished in the cold and storm. They were quartered in a twelve foot tent, with the frozen buffalo meat piled high around on the outside. While sheltered there a strange and serious incident occurred. Welt Smith whose clear conscience must have deepened his slumbers, pillowed his head on the bosom of the damp and cold mother earth, where he slept soundly, undisturbed by reminiscences of the hunt; but when morning dawned and he attempted to arise from his peaceful bunk, something was seemingly clutching him by the hair - suggestive of the scalping knife - and held him tight and fast. In response to his cries of distress his comrades rushed to his rescue and found Mr. Smith pinioned to the earth by the long locks which he had been cultivating until they rivalled those of "Buffalo Bill." They had congealed with the earth nad were frozen fast to the ground. There were but two alternatives. They must be chopped out or the hunter must continue in that position until the gentle springtime released him. He chose the former and parted with his flowing tresses.
While the snow was on, the sportsmen found wild turkeys in innumberable numbers, from three to four hundred in one drove. the snow retarded their progress and the hunters could have captured them all, but only killed what they could use for food. The other "tenderfoot," John Clark, from Michigan, furnished his quota of amusement for the party. His feet were clad in moccasins manufactured from a buffalo skin. These coverings, which bore some resemblance to shoes, were dried and turned up like sled runners. Mr. Clark ran up a steep bank to fire a fatal shot in a buffalo he had wounded. Just as his gun was discharged he stumped the protruding toe of his shoe and fell headlong down the embankment, but as he scrambled to his feet and witnessed the object of his pursuit in the throes of death, the sportsman's wounds were quickly healed.
On the return trip the hunters offered a quarter of meat to Mrs. McCracken, of Mitchell county, in return for supper and breakfast, as their breadstuffs were running low. Their landlady smiled significantly and thought she had struck a "bonanza," but ere the hungry campers had finished their first meal, any bargain she had anticipated in the agreement was disillusionized.
H.L. Dutton, to whom the author is indebted for the substance of this narrative, says: In the spring of 1869, from a point between the Solomon and Saline rivers, he has witnessed from one of the hills of that territory, where a view is gained for twenty-five miles or more toward either point of the compass, thousands and thousands more, of these great shaggy coated beasts. When in Chicago in 1884 Mr. Dutton visited Lincoln Park, which then contained two buffalo. As he looked upon them these inferior specimens appealed to him as a fragment, a remnant, as it were, of the noble beast - the "monarch of the plain" - that once in droves of countless numbers ranged over the Kansas prairies. "Through wood, through waste, o'er hill, o'er dale, his roam," and infused a miraculous inspiration in the heart of every huntsman.
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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