From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
"Aunt Julia" Boyington Has Lived on Same Farm Near Horton 72 Years
Sitting in her comfortable country living room, listening to the music of the air, toasting her toes by the fire, "Aunt Julia," as the neighborhood likes to call Mrs. Frank Boyington, watched the redbirds flash in and out of the snow-silvered branches. A song came sweet and clear from what she calls her "magic box."
"We cross the prairies as of old
Our fathers crossed the sea.
To make the West, as they the East,
The homestead of the free."
Mrs. Boyington smiled the turned-uppity smile that makes her 80-year-old face somehow like that of a jolly little girl.
"Would you like to see the shoe I crossed the prairies in?" se asked, and was briskly off to the attic. She returned with the small slim black patent leather slipper, and an armload of lovely old fashioned clothes. There was a story for each garment.
"Aunt Julia" lives on the farm which her parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Adams, of New York state, somesteaded[sic] when they came to the territory of Kansas with the Cayuga colony in 1858. Mrs. Boyington was just 9 years old then. She remembers vividly the trip across the country; and she still has Mary Ann, the doll who pioneered with her.
The 480 acres of land in Atchison county, eight miles south and east of Horton, a fine herd of Herefords, a large flock of Buff Orpingtons, an apple orchard, and her home are all under the direct supervision of this remarkable woman, who lives alone except for her elderly maid whom she calls "Grandma."
The coming of Kansas Day, 1930, took Mrs. Boyington's mind back over the trails which time is dimming. She spoke of green days when she was a child and herded sheep and cattle on the prairie; of horseback rides to Kennekuk, a government trading post, where mail was brought by pony express, of three mile walks to a stone school house; of the time a young Indian suddenly appeared over a hill-top while she was riding, and an impromptu race took place for several miles, "Aunt Julia" winning it, and reaching a neighbor's house in safety. She spoke of firelit evenings when knitting needles and candlemolds occupied the hands of the women of the household. she told of Christmas balls and dances at the Flower's hotel in Kennekuk, when young people came from far and near. (Others have told how gracefully "Aunt Julia" waltzed, and of the night she was chosen belle of the countryside.)
Political gatherings were great events in those times. When Governor Crawford, the father-in-law of Senator Capper, toured the state in his famous campaign, Mrs. Boyington heard him speak at Kennekuk. She was present when Jim Lane spoke at Valley Falls. Most thrilling of all, though, was the nigh when people had gathered at Doniphan to hear Lincoln. "Aunt Julia" was there with her mother. Word went around that early-comers had taken all the rooms at the Low hotel, and it began to appear that Abraham Lincoln would be without a bed for the night. "Aunt Julia" and her mother had the privilege of giving up their room for the accommodation of the great man.
Mrs. Boyington has traveled a great deal, and her means would permit her to live anywhere she might choose, but she prefers to spend her days, with her memories and her activities, in the place which has been home for over seventy years..