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BY WAGON TRAIN FROM
TENNESSEE TO KANSAS - 1878




Anne (Jent) Yenne, daughter of Sam Jent, compiled this story from her father's recollections. She has graciously permitted me to post it to the Chautauqua County, Kansas web site. I find this an interesting bit of history of travels from one state to another in the early years of Chautauqua County settlement.

Early History Of The Jent Family As Narriated By Sam Jent.

This story is confined to the branch of the Jent family that sprang from four Jent brothers who came from England during Colonial times and settled in the aristrocratic south end of Virginia. One family moved to the north county of North Carolina. In their permanent settlement the community was known as Jent Creek and the Jent Community. Another branch of the Jent family came through the gap and settled in Tennessee. The dates of these moves I do not have.

My grandfather Jent was born in the North Tier of counties of Tennessee in 1810. His father evidently was born in Virginia (ca 1785). My father, Amos Jent, was born in Northern Tennessee on Sept. 9, 1842 His father moved north into Kentucky and settled on the Barren River just north of the Tennessee line when my father was one year old. My father grew to manhood in that neighborhood. His school advantages were badly neglected, but being a youth of brilliant mind, he schooled himself by mastering an education far above the average at that time. The day he was 19 years old (in 1861) he joined the army of the Union and served the most of three years in the Ninth Ky. Co. I, 4th Reg. On entering the army he immediately contracted the measles. As soon as he was able to exercise on the outside he was placed on guard on a drizzly October night. The exposure brought on a severe setback. He was thereupon confined to a hospital for nine months. As soon as he was physically able to take his place in the ranks he served the remaining three years. He was engaged in seven active battles. He was wounded once but not severely.

He came home at the expiration of his army service, and, with his education, he taught what was then known as a "blab" school. (They all studied out loud).

On Dec. 25th, 1866 he married Sarah Jackson. They lived in the Franklin community during the next eleven years, by which time they had four children, Henry, Rebecca, Sam and Ruth.

In 1871 Hiram Blankinship, his second cousin, emigrated with his family to Kansas and settled on what was known as Moore Prairie in Chautauqua County. In 1878 Hiram returned to Kentucky to wind up some unfinished business, and to move some furniture that he had left behind. He propositioned my father to go to Kansas with him. My father replied that he had one horse, but no wagon. Hiram suggested that father and mother's brother, George Jackson, go to father's wood shop and blacksmith shop combined, and build a wagon, and have it ready by the time he was ready to take off for his home in Kansas. The wagon was completed -- a three-inch.

The news was going around that Amos and Hiram were soon taking off for the Kansas fronteer. Several neighbors whom I remember were interested and decided to join the wagon train. As I remember them. they were Wilse Jent and family, Harve Roark, single, both cousins to father joined. Dick Hargis and John Tilley with two wagons and a large family joined the train. John's wife (Emily) was my mother's sister. Two of the families I have forgotten. There were nine wagons in the train.

The train took off the first week in August, 1878. They were well organized with Dick Hargis serving as wagon master. He was very judicious, and for a man of 40 he used excellent judgment throughout the trip. We crossed the Ohio River at Alconda on a horse powered paddle wheel ferry boat. I remember that the boat was powered by two teams of small mules, and was large enough to take out entire train of wagons on one load. One incident occurred that clung to the memory of the children aboard. We left home with Fritz, a pint-size black feist dog about five years old that was an excellent ratter. He jumped from the wagon and was accidentally left on that side of the river. We did not return to pick him up.

As we had one minister in the company we rested on Sundays and had religious services. The journey with very few exceptions was without incident. Of course, we made time with the slowest team. Roads were very rough and unkept. We came to the Hills of the Ozarks and at that time brakes were practically unknown on wagons. On steep hills the wheels had to be locked by a chain to hold the wagon back. Many of those hills were so steep that small trees were tied to the wagon to hold it back in making the descent.

I remember that we camped one night in the Ozarks in an unsettled district. Three men came to the camp after dark. They wanted to trade guns. Stories had leaked out that many horses had been stolen in that area from travelers. The boys concluded that they were after information. We concluded to give it to them by spreading out around the camp and firing our rifles about 20 times. Those visitors immediately took leave but two of our men stood guard all night.

Another incident I remember was -- we stopped for water at a farm house
and there was a pond about 100 yards across near the well from which we
drank. A didaber or heldiver duck was on the lake and our boys were allowed to shoot at it. After several shots someone succeeded in ringing the bell and the duck was no more.

Another incident of interest to us young folks who were going through an old neighborhood heavily timbered. The trees had been deadened in opening a field for cultivation and one large dead tree stood near the center of the field. A large wild turkey was sitting near the stump of the tree. Uncle Wiltse succeeded in slipping near enough to shoot the turkey. His wing was broken and when he came down the little dog gave chase. The dog weighed 20 and the turkey 32. The dog wearied the turkey until the hunters succeeded in capturing it. That was the largest turkey we had ever seen.

John Tilley with his family was headed for Hickory Creek, Butler County.
He parted company with the train 75 miles before we reached our destination in Chautauqua County. At the end of a six-weeks journey we landed in Chautauqua County and spent our first year on Limestone Prairie one mile from Blankinship's farm. Nothing unusual the first year happened, except my sister contacted a serious case of fever (it was polio). Since we landed with $13 it was quite a battle to maintain our existence. Dr. Hopper, a neighborhood M.D. brought her through her illness (she walked on a built-up shoe).

My father worked for 50 cents a day for the farmers and on one job he took a 500-lb hog for pay at 2 cents a pound. My brother, 11 years old, did much to help maintain our existence. He was a good student in school, but he had some peculiar habits. When he was in a crowd he wrestled until every button was pulled from his clothes and they were soiled in the dirt. He was a marble player and in the game he was continually on his kneys. Mother sewed grains of corn and wheat in his pants to protect the wear, but to very little avail. In his 11th year he read seven medical books belonging to Dr. Hopper.


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