Yesterday was the day fixed for the annual meeting of the "old settlers" of Greenwood County, and the number in attendance was quite large.The weather was all that could be desired--cool and pleasant. At 10:30 the meeting was called to order by President Tucker, in the opera house, the breeze being a little too strong for an out-door meeting.
The services were commenced with "Old Hundred," sung by a choir of ten voices, with Miss Lena Mullinax at the piano.
Judge Kenner being absent, much to the regret of all, Rev. S.F. Sellers read a chapter from the Bible and offered a feeling, fervent prayer.
The choir then, in an excellent manner, sang, "Auld Lang Syne," that old, but always new and nice, song.
J.M. Smyth then read the following short, but excellent address.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen:
I have been asked to make this address, and, being assured by the committee that they would not expect much of this speech, have concluded to try the experiment.
As an old settler, and finding the recollections of those early days and deeds always crowding in upon me, I naturally take great interest in these gatherings, together in the men and women who faithfully toiled and suffered that we might have a comfortable habitation.
Many of them have long since passed over the River, and I trust are enjoying the rest prepared for the faithful. They are not with us.A few of the ones I remember are James Osborn (commonly known as Uncle Jimmie Osborn), Robert Fletcher, Harvey Norton, James Hawkins, Thomas Hill, Mark Hatley, David T. Nichols, John P. Slough, David N. Mitchell, John P. Mitchell, William Saling, Philip Smethers, Ed Moseley, Ed. G. Duke, Jacob Holderman, Thomas Dalton, Robert Loveland, David Smyth, William E. Smyth, Samuel Hoover, Robert Brazel, Henry Osburn, Enoch Reeves, Samuel Blakely, Michael Ott, Jotham Keys, Robert Clark, W.C. Waybright, Josiah Kinnaman, Rev. Travis, Walter Burris, George H. Lillie, A.J.R. Williams, W.B. Godfrey, John Eston, L. Sears, Wesley Pearson, J.L. Rose, William Hallett, T.C. Boswell, Miroc Huntley, Conrelius Van Schoyck, father of our John Van, who seems to have dropped the latter part of the name.
There were others, too, but these came within the range of my personal recollection.Most of them were men of high character, some of them were prominent in politics and religion.
Among the first physicians of my recollection are Dr. Vernard and J.E. Grant.
The first preachers, Walter Burris, who performed most of the marriage ceremonies of that day, and Elder Mark Robinson of the M.E. Church; also, Elders C.R. Rice and James Kenner.
My first recollection of an officer was an attempt by Wm. Brazel (Bud, as we called him) to collect taxes, under the bogus constitution, from my father.The taxes were never paid.
The first post office, as I remember it, was Pleasant Grove, and was located on the bank from the Verdigris, about two miles northwest of Toronto. A man by the name of Brown was postmaster, and afterward Mr. Kellogg was appointed postmaster who moved the office three-fourths of a mile northeast into Woodson County. Virgil was probably next established, with Uncle Jimmie Osborn as postmaster.
I have given you this bit of reminiscence in order that I might be able to impress upon your minds the endless amount of pleasure, as well as profit, that may be obtained by our coming together to talk over these events of early settlement and enjoying a closer communication with each other as we follow on to our reward.
Shall we make these gatherings permanent and thereby perpetuate the memory of those interesting, by-gone days? Or shall we separate and, each going his own way, forget his neighbor, and permit the heroic deeds of endurance, the unfaltering trust and faith, and the magnificent achievements of those noble men and women, to go without recognition; until, finally, as we pass one by one off the stage of action and the last call has been made no one will be left to perpetuate them?
The old men and women should tell the stories, and the young men and women sing the songs, and we should all join around the campfire to make the jubilee complete.
It is to be hoped that these yearly meetings may grow in interest, and be a place where we can all meet, and forgetting all past differences, cultivate a common interest and perpetuate a common welfare. We should all bear in mind that though crops may fail, drought and grasshoppers devastate, yet these are but a drop in the bucket compared with the sufferings and hardships of the pioneers of 1856 to 1860.
It is like the story of the Great Columbian Exposition, it can never be painted in words sufficiently clear that the youth of today can arrive at a just conception of it.
Greenwood county sent a large quota of her pioneers to fight for Uncle Sam during the dark days of the way. Some of these young men never came back.
Among those who died in the army, I remember Ezra Fletcher, Sherod Hatley, John Brazel, Marion Dame, Sol Osborn, John P. Slough, Enoch Maine, and William Sharp.
There are many things that could be said of those early struggles, and I trust that each one will feel called upon to add his chapter to the book of history; you are here for that purpose.
If you shall enjoy yourselves and feel satisfied that your time has been spent, then we shall be happy.
After singing "One Hundred Years to Come," the meeting adjourned until 1:30 o'clock p.m.
During the noon hour more than fifty persons picnicked in the opera house, and they had a happy, jolly time.
It was quite two o'clock when the President called the meeting to order, and all (a house full) joined in singing "America."
E. Mahan, the historian, read a most excellent address, which is here inserted:
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Very soon after the Territory of Kansas was opened up for settlement a struggle was inaugurated between the friends of slavery in the South and the friends of freedom in the North, for possession of this soil. Organizations were formed in both sections of our country for the purpose of encouraging immigration in the Territory; those in the South hoping to be able to secure thereby a population that would make it a slave State, and those of the North hoped to save it for freedom. In this struggle Greenwood county was destined to bear some humble part.
Late in the year 1856 a little colony of Southern people came from Alabama and Mississippi and settled along the Verdigris river, below where the town of Virgil now stands. The colony consisted of twenty to twenty-five souls, men women and children. They were the earliest settlers in Greenwood county. They were typical Southerns of the time in which they lived. They talked about "our niggers" and had not hesitancy in expressing their hatred for the friends of freedom, and were ever mindful that their great mission was to secure the future state of Kansas for their venerable institution and to more firmly extend the slave power in the councils of the nation.
The spirit that inspired their actions was very thoroughly demonstrated by an incident which occurred on the banks of the Verdigris River. A man by the name of Nichols, a free-state man, and one of the Southern colonists, by the name of Thompson, lived on adjoining claims. Nichols had been very sick with Typhoid Fever but was slowly recovering, and being just able to walk, walked to the river bank for a little recreation. While Nichols was taking a little rest, Thompson came along, carrying a hoe. During the meeting the conversation turned on subjects political, and Thompson, knowing the weak and emaciated condition of Nichols, and knowing him to be entirely unable of making any defense, proceeded to wreck [sic] vengeance on his free-state enemy by giving him an unmerciful beating with the hoe with which he was armed. Thompson went on his way, rejoicing in victory. Nichols, though severely injured, recovered, and afterwards elected the first sheriff of Greenwood county.
Most of this little band of emigrants belonged to the M.E. church-South, and formed a church organization. They possessed religion in unlimited quantities, but judged by the brighter light of civilization of later years, their christianity was of a very doubtful quality.
But their mission to Greenwood county was a flat failure. Kansas was made a free state and, disappointed and crestfallen, in 1861, all but a very few of them sought more congenial associations in the Sunny South.
The first settlers in Greenwood county found nothing inviting them to stay, except the face of the country, as it had been dropped from the hand of Him who created all things.
If they would have homes to shelter them, they must build them theirselves. If they would have roads to travel over, if they would have store houses and mills to furnish them with supplies their natures demanded, they must bring them out of the universal chaos which met their view. Their first houses were built of logs, covered with boards, called by some, "clapboards," by others, "shakes," and floored with puncheons hewn mostly from hackberry trees. Here and there one of them can be seen that has bravely withstood the ravages of "time's decaying fingers," can be seen standing boldly up, pointing the tenderfoot backward to primitive days in Greenwood county.
Oxen were used almost exclusively for breaking up the tough sod covering the prairie soil, for the transportation of freight, and in fact for every purpose for which they could be made available. If a man went to the mill, or took his family to church, or the Fourth of July, he generally went with an ox team, and it is said that in some instances young gentlemen visited their sweet-hearts riding in a wagon drawn by a pair of oxen.
But there were hardships in store for the early settlers of Greenwood County that were far worse than living in a log house or riding in wagons drawn by oxen. The great drought of 1860 will ever be remembered by the people that were living in Kansas at that time. No rain fell during the spring or summer except a few light showers, scarcely sufficient to dampen the suffocating dust. Hot winds prevailed during the summer and crops of every kind, upon which the people depended for sustenance during the year, perished from the lack of moisture and the withering effect of hot winds. Not a bushel of grain of any kind was raised in the county, and vegetables of every kind suffered the same fate. Streams dried up until it was difficult to find water for stock even in the largest streams in the county.It was a time that tried the souls of the people. Their faith in the future of the country, that had heretofore buoyed them up, dried out in their hearts. Homes that had begun to grow bright under the influence of the bright skies of Kansas, were enveloped in darkness. The gaunt wolf of want was scratching fiercely at some of their doors. Some of them turned their faces eastward and abandoned the county; others would have gone had their extreme poverty not prevented. Of those that remained, some were compelled to appeal for help to friends in other states, while a few managed to subsist upon their own resources. A good many people who lived in Kansas during the year 1860 remembered that, when they went to school, the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska were set down upon the map as the "Great American Desert," and they made up their minds that the geographer "knew just what he was talking about."
One curious circumstance connected with the drought of 1860 is the fact that some people who would have been glad to have left the country if they could, have been rejoicing ever since that they were too poor at the time to get away.
In the fall of 1857 the Rocky Mountain Grasshoppers, the species familiarly called the "Brute," visited Greenwood county. They came in the evening and stayed over night and, finding nothing better to eat than prairie grass, left next morning in disgust. They came again in 1866 and 67. The last time they visited Greenwood county was in 1874. At each of these visits they did serious damage to crops, more especially to wheat crops, which were in some instances entirely destroyed, and always more or less injured. Many farmers refused to sow wheat. Some people left the county on account of their persistent coming, and the general panic they sometimes created inflicted almost as serious damage to the country as the actual destruction of crops. The corn crops were generally injured by them, but never entirely destroyed in Greenwood county; some other counties in Kansas suffered worse from their depredations than Greenwood. Some fellow, possessing in his nature a little poetry, and a thorough knowledge of the character and peculiar habits of the grasshopper has given to the press such a graphic description of the "Brute" that I venture to insert here.
The "Brute" --The grasshopper; he cometh; he cometh numerously; he bringeth his family; also his relatives, and his friends; likewise his mother-in-law, and her friends, and all that hate her, and they are legion. The wisdom of men computeth them not. They spread over the land, and there is no place where they are not.
They nip the spring grass; they devour the fragrant onion sprout, and the savory celery. The wheat fields are left desolate, and no green thing remaineth where the hopper hath been. His pathway is the abomination of destruction; the ranch man mourneth for his green fields that were, but are not. Maybe he sweareth; possibly he sayeth audibly and crieth aloud--dameth.
What careth the hopper? It troubleth him not. Ask the prophet of Kansas; and the wise men of Nebraska--and they will answer likewise. But the relief committee agent lifteth up his voice and calleth the hopper blessed. The Patriarch Hopper cometh from the mystical Western land--the realm of Brigham--Whence cometh bad things, and some that were good. The hopper is one of them, several of them, and he is not good. He cometh in the later summer days, in the sun-darkening myriads; as the wind comes when the forests are rended; as the waves come when navies are stranded; like unto a democratic victory.
He alighteth on the potato vine, and the fragrant tomato tree; on the succulent roasting ear, whilst it is yet in the milk and the toothsome; and upon the fruits of the fields that cometh late to the market--and they all disappear and are seen after that evil day no more, forever. And the lady grasshopper maketh straightway her nest down in the corn field; and in the wheat stubbles; and upon the hill-side; and all over the sandy plain--and everywhere else under the sun; and filleth her nest with eggs.And then she continueth to make nests and fill them likewise with eggs, every day, until the winter days cometh and freezeth the ground hard, when no grasshopper can make nests.
And the eggs! Are they not fresh eggs? With double yolks? And warranted to hatch? Yea, verily! And the warrant is good. And the lady grasshopper's mate! What of him? Verily, I say unto you--he sitteth upon the sweet potato vine and singeth all the glad summer day. He climbeth upon the corn stalk and lappeth off its verdant branches. He taketh no heed of to-morros; nor of the groans and curses of the irate ranchman. And in the hottest summer days he leadeth the fisherman beside the babbling waters; and upon the steep mountain side; and over the prickly pear; and through soap week; and among thorny bushes. And when at last the fisherman falls upon his knees and puts his hands upon Mr. Hopper, where is he? Alas! He is not there, but soareth above, and cracketh his heals together, and laugheth out of his left optic at the fisherman, who is seated on the hillside picking cactus thorns from his hands and knees, and framing cuss words. Alas! He never will kneel any more.
And when in the fullness of time the wintry days have come and stilled his voice in death, he gathereth his friend about him and is contented with the fitting close of a well-spent life; and happy in the reflection that he will live again in his children--when gentle spring shall come again, and again, and again, forever.
'Tis spring! Winter has loosed his icy fetters! Robin red-breast carols in the cottonwood! The Beecher-Tilton trail is well on, and genial sunshine again bathes the earth.
Are those eggs spoiled? Not by a jugfull! In the earliest, warm, sunny day forth come a few million of the juvenile hoppers, tiny midgets--the pickets, the scouts, the advance guard of countless hosts that will soon follow.
The honest ranchman laugheth in his sleeve and sayeth: "The hoppers are hatching. Spring frosts and snows will fix them." Alas for the fallacy of man's faith! The little hopper relieth on Providence. It putteth the shoddy religion of man to shame. Drown him in floods that would have appalled Noah; bury him in Arctic snows; subject him to frosts that freezeth the ears off a brass monkey; encase him in the heart of an iceberg; let "Old Bireas" caress him with winds, of fondle him in his icy embrace; it makes no difference. The little martyr calmly foldeth his arms, gathereth up his limbs, and waiteth. Waiteth for the next sunshine, when he cometh forth to breakfast, gay as a school girl, and with an appetite that is a luxury. You can't kill him; neither can you scare him; nor can he be discouraged.
He dieth only of old age--
And very late in the fall.
The great boom which spread over Kansas, somewhat cyclonic in character, struck Greenwood county in about the year 1882. Every town within the county caught the infection. The spirit of speculation spread over the whole country. In towns and cities everything was life and animation. The price of town lots went up like a rocket. Real estate offices blossomed out in great numbers. Many strangers visited the country and some of them made investments. Old wooden buildings that had served their owners faithfully as storehouses, were shoved out of sight and magnificent blocks, Phoenix like in their places. Hotels, store-houses, and residences increased rapidly in numbers and splendor. Plenty of money could be borrowed at from six to ten per cent interest. Many people availed themselves of the opportunity and borrowed liberally. Eastern people seemed willing to loan their savings of years on Kansas property, and land agents did a thriving business. More business houses were built than the business of the country demanded, and the farmers of the country, seeing the great business activity of the towns, concluded to take a hand. Many of them mortgaged their farms for money to invest in livestock and to improve their farms by building better houses and barns.
Some bought more land and encumbered their homestead. Livestock of every kind brought good prices.Laborers received good wages and steady employment. Everything went swimmingly for a few years, but everything must have and end, and so must the boom; the boom exploded. Prices of real estate and country came down like a stick and absolutely refused to go up again. And the shrinkage of prices in real estate was a surprise to everybody. The boom greatly improved the looks of the cities and towns and farms in Greenwood County, but it caused some people to feel financially embarrassed.
It would be much more agreeable to the tastes of the historian if a true history of Greenwood county could be written without recording any capitol crimes, but unfortunately, it can not be done.
On November 14, 1864, William Murket, a German citizen living on Fall River, two or three miles below Twin Falls, his wife and his wife's sister, a Miss Barnes, were all foully murdered at their house. Two infant children, twins, sleeping in a bedroom were not disturbed. They were evidently not discovered by the murderers, or if discovered, their very innocence stayed their murderers' hands; but so long a time elapsed before they were found that one of them perished from want of nourishment, dying soon after found.
The details of the crime are too shocking to relate here, even if space permitted. Suspicion pointed to two negroes, one of whom was caught and, in an effort to escape, was shot to death. It was never certainly known whether he was the real criminal or not.
In the year 1865, two men known as the Bledsoe brothers were murdered in the southeastern part of the county near the old town of Charleston. Twelve years afterward a grand jury found a true bill against three men, who were believed to be leaders of a gang that committed the crime, named Brown, Taylor, and Craig, charging them with murder in the second degree. Brown was tried, and the investigation revealed the fact that the two men had been wantonly murdered and that great cruelty had been inflicted in the act of the killing. Brown was ably defended by counsel, but was found guilty of murder in the first degree by a jury of twelve men.
The supreme court found a technical error in the proceeding, holding that no person could be convicted of murder in the first degree when charged with murder in the second degree, and remanded the case for a new trial. At the next term of the District Court all three of the men charged with the commission of the crime were, on motion of the county attorney, discharged from custody. Quite a number of those who were present during the trial of Brown were inclined to criticize the action of the county attorney in discharging the prisoners, as the crime of murder was clearly proven. Whether the criticism was just or not, the fact remains that the authors of the cowardly crime were never brought to justice.
On the 27 of May, 1866, Robert Clark, a citizen living on the Verdigris River in the eastern part of the county, near the old town of Greenwood City, was cruelly and ruthlessly murdered by George W. Petty. Previous to the war of the rebellion, Clark and Petty both lived in the same neighborhood. Clark, who was an earnest free-state man and an enthusiastic unionist, possessing the courage of his convictions, was in the habit of speaking his mind unreservedly at all times. This habit of Clark's angered Petty, whose sympathies were on the other side of the rebellion, and his feelings toward Clark were very bitter. Clark enlisted in the Union army, served his country faithfully to the end of the war, and came home. Soon after Clark's enlistment Petty secured title from the government to the land on which Clark had built his home, and on which his family was living, and left the country to join the rebel army. He was seen no more in Greenwood county until 1866.
It was on Sunday and was said to be as beautiful a morning as ever dawned in Greenwood county. The people living in the neighborhood of Greenwood City had gathered at the home of a family named Fletcher for religious worship, and a spirit of quietude and peach brooded over the neighborhood. Petty, accompanied by an accomplice, a stranger, made his appearance, this time for the purpose of carrying out his long cherished design to take the life of Clark. The dark and bloody crime was well planned, and the plan but too well executed. The stranger, on horseback, approached Clark's door and asked to be directed to William Brazel's, who lived south of Clarks's. Petty had taken his position to the north of the house, entirely concealed from view. Clark came to the door with a child in his arms and, with his face turned to the south, was in the act of directing the stranger when Petty suddenly rode from his hiding place and fired the fatal shot. Clark turned, walked a few steps, and fell, dying in a few minutes in the presence of his family. Petty and the stranger rode to the open window on the south an, with drawn revolvers watched the dying man until life was extinct.
The murderer escaped, but a son of Clark, although only a boy at the time, resolved that, if he lived to become a man, he would hunt down his father's murderer. Thirteen years afterward the resolution was carried into effect. Young Clark located Petty in Texas, came home and laid the case before the county attorney, who soon had him arraigned for trial before a Greenwood county jury. The jury found him guilty of murder and he was sentenced to be hung. The case was appealed, the Supreme court remanded the case for a new trial on account of some irregularity. He was tried a second time with the same result. He served six years in the penitentiary, when the clemency of Governor George W. Glick was invoked in his behalf, and he obtained a pardon.
On the 19th of October, 1874, O.C. Crookham, a wealthy farmer and a large landowner, living seven miles east of Eureka, was shot by a German named Harmon in the presence of his two sons while gathering corn on his farm. He died the next day. Harmon claimed that Crookham had wronged him in a suit at law, but his grievance was wholly imaginary and evidently conceived in and unbalanced mind, as Crookham had never wronged him in the least. Harmon was convicted of murder and sentenced to be hung. He was confined to the penitentiary for a time, after which he was sent to the insane asylum at Osawatomie.
Sometime during the year 1878 or '79, a man by the name of Paul, whose home was in Butler County, was found dead in Bachelor Creek, northeast of Eureka. He had evidently been murdered and his body had been thrown in the water. Search was made but no trace of the murderer was ever discovered.
On the evening of the 9th of January, 1892, William Coulter, a farmer living on the middle branch of Fall River, in the western part of the county, was foully murdered in his own house. Two persons were arrested, charged with the crime, but were discharged for lack of evidence, and the murderer has never been detected.
The first cabin built within the present grounds of Greenwood county was built in the year 1856, by some of the Southern colonists who settled on the Verdigris river, in that year.
The first blushing bride, a Greenwood county girl, led to the Hymenial alter was Miss R.J. McCombs.On the first day of March, 1860, she was united in marriage to Mr. H.C. Prather. Mrs. Prather is still a resident of Greenwood county.
The first child born in the county, of which any reliable record obtained as yet, is now a stalwart man of thirty-four years, and about 190 pounds avoirdupois. His name is Otho Sumner. He was born in 1860, and is still a resident of Greenwood county.
The first school-house erected within the county was built of poles stuck in the ground and roofed with shakes, or clapboards. It was built in Eureka, in 1857. In the year 1869 or '70 three church congregations, the Congregational Church, the Christian Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, erected church buildings.
The first town surveyed and named was Eureka, in 1857. The first post office established was Pleasant Grove, in 1857 or '58.
The first store in the county was established by our venerable friend, who I am sorry to say is not with us today, Judge Kenner, in 1868.
In the summer of 1870 a man by the name of Quackenbush established a bank in Eureka. It was a moonshine institution, and lived but a few months. In the month of November, following, the Eureka Bank was established by William Martindale, Edwin Tucker, H.S. Jones, and A.F. Nicholas.
The first newspaper published was the "Eureka Herald." The first sheet came fresh from the press on the 4th day of July, 1868, with S.G. Mead as editor.
The first railroad in the county was built in 1879-80--the Kansas City, Emporia, and Southern.
Certainly, no task could be allotted to a man more difficult to perform that to give such a description of the growth of a Kansas county, during the 37 years of its infancy, as would enable an audience to comprehend the real magnitude.
I would be glad if I could paint the picture, but I cannot. I will ask you to go with me in thought and imagination to the highest eminence in Greenwood county. Turn your faces in retrospect over thirty-seven years, and look over Greenwood county in 1857. And what do you see? You see a few log cabins scattered along the principal streams. Here and there an ox team turning up small patches of the virgin soil, or patiently following the trails that led to Humboldt, Burlington, or Emporia, and bringing back supplies for the settler and his family. During the summer, a few patches of sod corn rising above the prairie grass filling the heart of the settler, who planted, with bright hopes and visions of great wealth in the future. One village, Eureka, containing two cabins, one little school-house, built of split boards, nailed on boards stuck in the ground, and roofed over with clapboards; a few straggling bands of Indians trailing over the prairies, and a vast expanse of country rich in Nature's gifts, waiting patiently for the hand of man to develop it.
The sight may convey to your minds the idea of small beginnings, but they contain the germs of civilization from which great things have grown.
But now be kind enough to turn your faces forward and look at Greenwood County in 1894. And what do you see?
The little cabins are gone, and you see the whole country dotted over with neat cottages, or substantial and roomy farm houses. The patient oxen have passed over the meat block, and are seen no more. Their places are filled by the graceful Percheron, the lumbering Clyde, and the ambitions road horse. Look over the fields and you will see 110,000 acres of growing corn, 15,000 acres of oats, and 4,000 acres of wheat. Look in the pastures, and see the 48,000 head of cattle, and the 1200 sheep grazing. Look in corrals and pens and see 31,000 swine.
The little village, with the two cabins, has grown into a city of more than 2,000 inhabitants. The little store has gone, but in its stead you see blocks of buildings, substantially built of brick and stone, and finished in modern style of architecture.No less than twenty-nine stores, filled with merchandise of every kind used by the people of the county, now occupy the site of the little village, with two cabins, in 1857. Ten other towns have grown up in different parts of the county, all of them containing stores filled with supplies to suit the needs of the people. You will see five banks in the county, all of them trusted institutions, holding in trust more than a third of a million dollars belonging to the people of the county. Eight newspapers are published, disseminating general intelligence, discussing public questions, and carrying the news of the county into the homes of the people every week.
The one little school house, of 1857, the only representative of educational interests in the county at the time, fulfilled its mission and passed away, but in its stead you will see 122 public school buildings, and in addition thereto, the Southern Kansas Academy, an excellent institution of learning, the aggregate value of which is not less than $125,000.
The school population of the county is 5,571, and more than $33,000 was paid to teach this army of children last year.
Twenty-six church spires can be seen standing bravely up, proclaiming the gospel of peace and goodwill to man.
You can see five lines of railroads traveling over the county from north to south and from east to west--the Kansas City, Emporia, and Southern, the Frisco, the Missouri Pacific, the Interstate, and the C.K. and E. division of the Sante Fe. Aggregation of 164 miles of main tract, the assessed value of which is $882,000.
Greenwood County is now the home of 15,000 people.
The value of real and personal property is not less than $9,000,000.
What remarkable force, for forces, have been brought to bear to bring about such rapid development of the country? I answer "faith and Kansas pluck." Faith in the future of the country, and a determination to overcome adverse surroundings.
A few incidents in the lives of the early settlers will bring into clearer view these peculiar characteristics:--
An election was to be held and nothing could be found to serve the purpose of a ballot box. A woman's wit solved the problem by bringing out the coffee mill. It filled the niche admirably.
The Fourth of July was to be celebrated and the ladies assembled to prepare a flag to the occasion. The material for the red and white was found, but no blue, and the blue they must have. One suggested that they take a strip off the blue sky, but the scheme was abandoned, but a bonnet was found containing the blue. It was a "love of a bonnet," poised gracefully on a womanly head, and it was a sore trial to the feminine heart to see it torn into strips; but it was done, and the flag was a success.
A procession was formed and there were but a few people. But the procession must be formed. Long strings of oxen were sandwiched between short sections of people, and the procession moved gracefully off.
One of the most prominent business men of the county today was called upon to act in the capacity of dentist. He had no experience as a dentist, nor implements for extracting teeth; but the tooth must be extracted. A jack knife and old fashioned pair of pincers were found. The sight of such implements would have appalled Dr. Smith, Tetrick, or Huntington, but the jack knife severed the gums from the tooth, and the pincers removed the offending molar. The operation was a success, but the amateur dentist declared that he suffered greater pain in the operation than the fellow who lost the tooth.
During the year 1873, an Old Settlers Association was formed in the county, and a fairly successful meeting was held in September of that year. The historical address was very interesting, and will be of great value for reference in the future.
The summer of 1874 was phenomenal on account of climatic conditions. The local character of the rainfall, the extreme drought in some sections of the county during the months of July and August, followed by a greater extreme of rainfall and flood in September, is certainly without a precedent in the history of the county.
The most artful soothsayer could not have foretold, nor could the most thoroughly trained imagination comprehend, the wonderful growth and development of Greenwood county during the thirty-two years of its organized existence. The universal reign of Freedom has forever dispelled the dark cloud of slavery which overhung our bright horizon, and threatened to engraft its spirit of blight and desolation upon our body politic. Climatic conditions, the Gibraltar of the forces opposing the march of empire westward has been effectually stormed; the great Desert has been conquered and is not one vast oasis, inviting weary house-seekers to rest. The grasshopper, crestfallen on account of his failure to stay, the mighty floodtide of civilization pouring westward, has long since retreated to his mountain home in the "mystic western land."
'Tis true, there may yet be mountains to climb, and streams of adversity for Greenwood county's people to cross, but if so, their faith and courage will be sufficient for the task, and they will ever contribute their fair share toward placing the commonwealth of Kansas along side the brightest star in the Constellation of states forming our glorious union.
Ladies and gentlemen: A year had passed away since our organization was formed, and during that time three old settlers crossed over the Dark River, and will meet with us no more. Their names are William Wiggins, F.G. Allis, and W.E.J. Nixon. All of them were thoroughly identified with, and took prominent part in making the history of Greenwood county.
Two of them, Allis and Nixon, filled the office of county superintendent of public instruction. All of them lived in the same neighborhood, and near the town of Virgil.
But my task is done. The duty of a historian is to chronicle facts. I have done so to the best of my knowledge. I may have made mistakes. If any have been noticed by anyone, I will gladly correct them.
The following persons favored the people present with interesting talks concerning their personal recollections and experiences during the early years of the settlement of Greenwood county:
Arthur Gleason told of his teaching the first school in Eureka, in a little log house situated near where Ike Wilson's blacksmith shop now stands. Among his pupils were: Henry T. Kenner, Ellen A. Errickson (now Mrs. H.T. Kenner), Jay Kenner, John Willis, and others.
N.D. Durham gave a graphic description of his landing in the county in 1866.
R.L. Barrier read a poem entitled, "The Old Settlers." The author is unknown; the envelope containing the manuscript bears the post office stamp of Neal, Kansas, and is dated September 19, 1893. This nice little effusion was intended for the meeting last year, but was received by the secretary after the meeting had adjourned.
Edwin Tucker gave an interesting account of the first political convention ever held in the county.
J.B. Clogston gave an amusing account of the first trial by jury, he being the judge advocate.
A.P. Loveland told how near he came to not being a citizen of the county. He induced his wife to come to Kansas under a promise to return if it didn't rain within five years.It rained and they stayed.
Chris Hoover gave a humorous, yet pathetic account of his early experiences in Greenwood, dating back to 1859. The family consisted of the mother and several children. They landed on the Verdigris with three yolk of oxen and $15--they were rich. The boys, Chris and Will, worked for the settlers and took their pay in pork and corn.In the spring of 1860 they did some breaking and planted corn. The corn perished because of the drought and hot winds.In July they sowed the ground to buckwheat and it perished. There was no grass on the Verdigris and the boys went east several miles where there was grass, and put up hay. While thus engaged the mother, and little ones at home, left the house after water, and while absent the cabin caught on fire and destroyed everything they had save what they were wearing. Better times came, and, though Chris didn't say so, they prospered greatly, and prosperity still abides with them.
James Mills, Jr., told of his first school, and of other experiences. He told of seeing Edwin Tucker, then a big boy, coming out of a corn field with his pants rolled up, and of staying all night with William Martindale, at the latter's home near Madison. Bill, he said, lived in a log cabin, and it was so low he could lie in bed and kick the clapboard roof. And in those days, as now, Bill Martindale gave the hired man the same treatment he gave the richest.All were welcome in his home, and all were made to feel that they were welcome.
Henry Jones told of going to Ft. Scott in September, 1861, to aid in defending that place against the threatened approach of Price's army.
The following officers were elected for the coming year:
President, Edwin Tucker; General Secretary W.W. Morris; Recording Secretary, R.L. Barrier; Treasurer, Dr. C.A. Wakefield.
The following vice presidents, one from each township, were then chosen: James Kenner, J.B. Clogston, E.N. Turney, James Spain, William Hawthorne, Robert Hart, N.D. Durham, I.T. Garrison, Robert Morton, William Klein, John Willis, Stewart Martindale, V.S. Rader, W.F. Osburn, C.H. Shoemaker, William Focht. The meeting then decided to have a bigger time next year; two days and a night of it.
All were so well pleased with the music and singing they had been favored with that they voted the choir and pianist an unanimous vote of thanks.
The second annual meeting of the "Old Settlers' Association" thereupon adjourned, each member feeling that the day had been well, happily, and profitably spent.
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