Submitted by Janene Tumlinson P.O. Box 800
Rancho Murieta, CA 95683
The following article appeared in the Atchison Globe, February 7, 1931.
The clipping was found in a scrapbook from the personal affects of Ruby Ennis Flachsbarth:
MR AND MRS. PETER ENNIS RECALL EARLY DAYS IN WEST
After 54 years of housekeeping Mr. and Mrs. Peter Ennis, pioneers of the middle west, are going to take a vacation. They will go to St. Joe tomorrow to make their home with a daughter, and will spend the rest of their lives visiting with their children.
It was just 70 years ago that Peter Ennis saw St. Joe for the first time. It was then the stepping off place for the great west and the wide open spaces. He arrived there with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel Ennis, from New York state in late summer of 1861. Now after 70 years Mr. Ennis is returning to the city where as a boy nine years of age, he began his life in the west.
During these 70 years that Mr. Ennis has spent in this section of the country he has stored experiences of early days in his mind that would make a good sized book. And although his health has been very poor for the last several months, Mr. Ennis can tell with interest many episodes of his early life in the middle west.
Emmanuel Ennis came west and upon arriving at St. Joe in 1861 took a steamboat to Brownsville, Nebraska, then the capital city of the Cornhusker state. From Brownsville, a covered wagon pulled by oxen carried the family to Cub Creek ranch, located near Beatrice, Nebr. There the Ennis family began the lives of pioneers of a great state.
They arrived at Cub Creek in late fall and wintered there. The next spring they moved to Hackney ranch, also located near Beatrice. The Hackney ranch is famous in Nebraska's early history and there is an oil painting of the historic spot in the historical room of the capital building at Lincoln. The owner of this ranch was killed by the wagon boss of a freighting party shortly before the Ennis family moved to their new home.
It was on the Hackney ranch during a severe winter a few years later an incident occurred that saved the lives of the Ennis family and the life of Peter Ennis's cousin, Laura Roper. The son of the chief of the Otoe tribe of Indians, encamped along Cub Creek near the Hackney ranch, became lost in a blizzard and was found nearly frozen in the vicinity of the Ennis home.The Indian lad was taken to the Ennis home at the Hackney ranch, and Mrs. Emmanuel Ennis drew the frost from the youthful redskin's legs and body and nursed him back to life and health. As soon as he was well the lad was taken back to his father, who was overwhelmingly happy at the return of his son by the whites. The chief of the Otoe tribe never forgot this great favor.
In 1864 the Otoe tribe started moving west, but before leaving the vicinity of Hackney ranch the chief stopped to visit the Ennis family. He wanted to speak with the "white squaw". Thanking Mrs. Ennis for her kindness again, the old chief warned the family that the Indians were soon to go on the warpath and that they should move away. Appreciating the chief's kindness in warning them, Mr. Ennis felt there was not enough trouble brewing or alarm to take a move seriously. So the Ennis family stayed at Hackney ranch when the Otoe tribe moved west.
But not for long as shortly after the Otoe chief had warned them, a stage coach from the west came bounding past the Ennis place laden with bullet holes and arrows. It was then learned that the Cheyennes, the Otoes, the Arapahoes and the Blacksnakes had donned their war paint and were rading all white settlements.
It was before this, however, that Laura Roper, 16-year-old daughter of Fred Roper, an overland freighter and relatives of the Ennis family, was captured by the Cheyene Indian tribe. She was held captive for four months, during which time her mother died of fright and worry from what might have happened to her child. Through the friendliness of the Otoe chief and the Ennis family, the return of the girl unharmed by the Cheyennes was brought about.
Like the painting of the Hackney ranch among the historical records of Nebraska, there is also a picture of Miss Laura Roper. done in oil hanging in a room at the captal building in Lincoln. Miss Roper died about a year ago in Oklahoma.
So with the Indians on the warpath and anything most likely to happen, Emmanuel Ennis decided to take his family and leave that country to the Indians for the time being. They returned to Cayuta, Schuyler county, N. Y. where Peter Ennis was born December 13, 1852 They remained there until 1866 when they again immigrated west.
Peter Ennis recalls that they came as far as East Atchison by train and then took a ferry across the Missouri river to Atchison. It was Thanksgiving morning when the Ennis family arrived in Atchison and Mr. Ennis says he remembers the first meal he had here was breakfast at the Fifth Street hotel. He says the hotel at that time was operated by a Mr. Barnes.They then went to the home of Lawyer John Gray in the Deer Creek neighborhood north of Atchison. (Old time notes in The Globe often mention the name of Lawyer Gray who now resides in Montrose, Col.) Through the help of Lawyer Gray, Mr Ennis' father purchased a farm in the Deer Creek neighborhood. The farm in now known as the Ashton Hundley place.
Peter Ennis still had the call of Nebraska in his blood so he returned to Beatrice. He found the Hackney ranch undistrubed and was told that the ranch was not harmed by the Indians on their rampage because of the fact that the life of the son of the Otoe chief was saved there. Practically every other farm home and outbuildings in the path of the redskins were set afire and destroyed.
He took a job herding cattle on ranges near Beatrice in 1867. He rode range until 1868 when he got a job hauling rock for the construction of the new capital building at Lincoln. Due to the fact that the country at Brownsville was hilly and poorly located for a state house, it was decided to move Nebraska's capital to Lincoln.
During 1868 and '69 Mr. Ennis drove six yoke of oxen hauling the large stone for construction of the building from Blue Springs to Lincoln. Since then the capital building at Lincoln has been rebuilt, but there is stone in the new structure that was hauled by Mr. Ennis. Mr. Ennis was a guest of honor at the dedication of the new capital a few years ago. It was said at that time that he was the only surviving man known to have been active at the time of the Indian raids near Beatrice and Brownsville.
As soon as he completed his work in Nebraska Mr. Ennis returned to Atchison. He remembers that he hauled stone for the construction of the school house at Good Intent. This rock structure is still standing The stone was hauled from the William Dean farm which is now the W.D. Chalfant place north of town. It was shortly after this that praire was broken extensively in Atchison county. Mr. Ennis broke prairie land in the Good Intent neighborhood and for Colonel Brown, who owned the place now known as Sunnyside Farm and which is occupied by Mr. Ennis' daughter and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. A. M. Andrews near Bellevue Country Club. Prairie was broken thoughout all this section in 1872 and 1873.
In the winter months when outdoor work was at a standstill, Mr. Ennis clerked in Pete Wolter's grocery store which was located at Third and Commercial streets where the Troy laundry now stands. Mr. Wolters is now a farmer of the Good Intent neighborhood. Mr. Ennis remembers when there wasn't a brick building west of Fifth street in Atchison. Everything was concentrated in the neighborhood of the river.
In September 1875, Miss Minnie Hani daughter of Benedict Hani of Rulo, Nebr., came to Atchison with her father for the celebration of the opening of the Missouri river bridge here. Mr. Ennis and Miss Hani met on this occasion and their acquaintance led to their marriage in Rulo, Nebraska in 1877. The Hani family came to this country from Switzerland. Mrs. Ennis was born near Bern, Switzerland. Following their marriage they came to Atchison to make their home.
In 1883 Mr. Ennis' father died, and he moved back to the Ennis place in the Deer Creek neighborhood. His mother returned to New York state to visit and live with relatives for awhile. At that time Mr. Ennis was Justice of the Peace in Atchison and court used to be held in the Ennis home. He recalls that among the judges and lawyers attending court at the Ennis place during his term were: Judge Webb A.F. Martin, J.F. Tuft, W. T. Bland, George Graves and Charles Conlon who died in Atchison just last year. All the foregoing men were lawyers in Atchison at that time. He also served as squire and township clerk of Atchison.
Later Mr. Ennis was desk sergeant at the local police station and a member of the fire department. At that time the police and fire departments were composed of the same force. Whenever there was a fire Mr. Ennis changed from desk sergeant to fireman. He worked at this position for six years and then was appointed street commissioner during the time of B.P. Waggener. His next job was that of foreman in the J.W. and W. P. Wagener rock quarry south of town. The quarry is now owned and operated by the Kerford Bros.
Following this work he farmed again and in 1896 he took a job at the Missouri Pacific shops in Atchison. Mr. Ennis was employed in the shops here until 1911 when he was transferred to the railroad shops at Falls City. In 1913 he was transferred again, going to the shops at Hoisington, Kas., where he worked until he was retired by the Missouri Pacific on a pension in 1927. Mr. Ennis worked continuously for the railroad for 29 years and has a very enviable record. He was always known as a tireless worker. He was 75 years of age at the time of his retirement. Mr. and Mrs. Ennis immediately moved back to Atchison when he was retired and have resided here for the last four years with the exception of a few months they spent at the Misssouri Pacific hospital in St. Louis where Mr. Ennis underwent an operation last June.When Peter Ennis was a member of the police in Atchison he wore an exceedingly heavy black beard. He was known as a fearless officer and was highly respected by the toughs of that day. Despite the recklessness of gunmen and criminals in the early days, Mr. Ennis seldom had to use his gun and never killed a man during his police work.
He recalls the hanging of a colored man on Sixth Street. The negro had shot and killed a man by the name of Cox in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. A mob of men traced the negro and captured him. A rope was obtained and the man was hanged from a wooden bridge that crossed White Clay Creek at Sixth Street. Mr. Ennis recalls many other violent happenings of the early days in Atchison, but declines to have them printed because of relatives of the victims and others concerned in the occurences of those days who are living in Atchison.
Mr. Ennis could relate for days the many and wonderful experiences of his life. It has been full of activity and although he has been near death several times during the last few months he is now able to be up and around. When a reporter called to interview him recently he found Mr. Ennis sitting up in a chair and able to smile. There was a twinkle and cheerful glint to his eyes as he recounted experiences of his life to the reporter.
Not alone has Mr. Ennis carried on all these years. Mrs. Ennis has been with him through "thick and thin". They have fought life's battle together for the last 54 years and find great happiness in being with one another now that the greater part of their lives has been lived. Mr. Ennis was lying in bed when the reporter called. She has been quite ill, too, but is now much improved. Despite her illness and the strain on her during that of her husband. She also smiled and had a bright look in her eyes as she helped Mr. Ennis recall the episodes of their lives. Holding up her hands to indicate size, Mrs. Ennis told the reporter: "We have taken The Globe ever since it was so big and first printed by Ed Howe. It has been a part of our lives and we can't get along without it". Mr. Howe founded The Globe in Atchison 53 years ago last December.
Mr. and Mrs. Ennis have reared a wonderful family. Ten children were born to them, seven are living. They are: Mrs. A. M. (Mary) Andrews of Sunnyside, Mrs. R.B. (Vesta) Baker of Omaha, Mrs. E. J. (Mayme) Venard of Kansas City, Mrs. H. P. (Ruby Jeanette) Flachsbarth of Shubert, Nebraska, Howard R. Ennis, foreman at the Missouri Pacific shops at Hoisington, Kansas, Frank E. Ennis, city commissioner at Hoisington, and Mrs. A. J. (Adelia) Boos of St. Joe whom Mr. and Mrs Ennis will visit for the next few months. A daughter, Benedictina, died 26 years ago. Another daughter, Henryetta, died in infancy, and Mrs. E. J. Wagner (Anna Pauline) died at her home in Butte, Montana 14 years ago. Mr. and Mrs. Ennis also have 16 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
It is those such as Mr. and Mrs. Ennis that have built up the middle west to be the garden spot of the country, and the greatest section of the United States. (End of Article)
Notation: Further research in the articles of Ruby Flachsbarth reflect that Anna Pauline died in Delta, Utah of appendicitis, not in Butte, Montana.
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