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.
Porterville, Cal., May 27--(Special to The Times)--This spring marks the centenary of the birth of the late Rev. George Washington Harrison Ross, one of the most interesting men who ever lived in this area.
He was long a resident of the famous Port William Negro settlement, south of Atchison, and pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church of that community.
He was born in slavery in Virginia March 29, 1850, and was taken from there to Alabama in 1862.
He was a driver on a stage line between Lynchburg and Danville when quite young, and afterwards followed the raced. He then went to work for the Memphis and Meridian Railroad in Alabama.
Next he was with the John Robinson circus for three years, working up from cook to ring rider, acrobat and minstrel.
He was at Weston in 1869. The late Peter Lee, a Port William Negro noted for his remarkable memory, saw him there, and remembered him when Ross settled at Port William many years later.
He toured with the circus through Leavenworth.
When he quit the circus in Arkansas he became a steamship roustabout on the Arkansas River and the White Rive in Mississippi.
He worked a while in a Nashville, Tenn., grocery, then enlisted in the 24th Infantry and spent three years at Columbus, O. He took part later in the Indian campaigns on the Mexican border.
Serving at every fort along the Rio Grande, he was a member of the Texas Department rifle team for two years, and became a sergeant in 1879.
He served also as a member of the Army's Missouri rifle team, entering in competition at Fort Leavenworth.
After leaving the Army he went to Texas for Ryan Brothers of Leavenworth and for two years drove cattle from Texas to Montana.
Returning, he helped build the old Leavenworth cigar factory. He also worked in the coal mines here.
Licensed and ordained in the ministry, he served pastorates for several years, and was an official of the Ministers and Deacons Institution of Northeast Kansas, and state chaplin of the American Protective Association.
Not the last among Ross' records was his family--he married Sarah Allen of Leavenworth, and they had 32 children, including three pairs of twins and one set of triplets.