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.
Mrs. Marie Jane Voaden, 304 1/2 South Fifth street, who will be 89 years old February 5, selected by Mrs. William Thornton Beck, Holton, Kas., as the woman who has lived the greatest number of continuous years within Leavenworth county, yesterday attended the annual Kansas Day luncheon-meeting of the Woman's Kansas Day club at Topeka.
Mrs. Beck, first congressional district director of the club, named Mrs. Voaden as winner in the first district. Because of her selection, Mrs. Voaden was invited to be a guest of the club at luncheon. She was accompanied to Topeka by Mrs. John Cassella, 113 North Fifth street, a close friend.
At Topeka there was a group of more than 525 women in attendance at the meeting. Besides Mrs. Voaden, only two other districts were represented by winners. The other district winners sent representatives, Mrs. Voaden made a brief talk to the group, telling of her early day experiences in the territory that was to be Kansas.
With a period of more than 84 consecutive years' residence in Kansas, Mrs. Voaden is believed to be the woman who has lived the longest continuously in the state of Kansas.
She was a daughter of Thomas Cade, of Kentucky, and Margaret Hardin, of Virginia, a pioneer man and wife, who brought their family into this county before it existed as a government. The Thomas Cade family crossed the Missouri river, leaving their home at Weston, Mo., by ferry at Kickapoo, January 1, 1852.
Mrs. Voaden, born Marie Jane Cade near Toledo, Ohio, February 5, 1849, was the tenth of eleven children in the family. When she was but a baby, the Cades came west by steamboat to St. Louis, Mo., where the family was stricken with scarlet fever and was put off the boat to recover; then on to Weston by another boat.
At Weston the Cades lived on a small farm, the boys tilling the soil and the father working as a butcher. Here they stayed for slightly more than two years, until Mrs. Voaden was two years and ten months old. then, on New Year's Day, 1852, they crossed the river and homesteaded a wilderness farm within three miles of Kickapoo.
There Mrs. Voaden lived until she was of school age, when her parents sent her to Leavenworth, then only a small town. Here she attended classes and commuted often between the city and Kickapoo.
On July 21, 1865, when she was slightly more than 16 years old, Marie Jane Cade was married to William Henry Maultby, a cooper, a barrel manufacturer, who was a Kickapoo resident. Through this union there were four children, only one of whom, a son, now is alive.
In 1872, the Maultbys came to Leavenworth for permanent residence, living together until 1886, when Marie Jane Cade separated from her husband. After Maultby's death, she married Stephen Voaden, with whom she lived until his death more than ten years ago.
Since that time she lived on a small farm near the northeast gate of the Veterans Administration Home until July, 1936. She then broke her continuous residence in Leavenworth county by moving to Kansas City, Kas., to reside with her son, Thomas Robert Maultby. When she left Leavenworth she had completed a continuous residence period of 84 years, 6 months, and 14 days.
Shortly before last Thanksgiving, she returned to Leavenworth and established a home at 304 1/2 South Fifth street, where she does all her own house work. In the apartment house there, she is a friend to all and is familiarly known to all as--Grandma.
One of the first things she remembers at Weston is the "Polar Star," one of the most modern and largest steamboats on the river at that time. Each trip the boat made on the river, Mrs. Voaden explains, she heard the low moan of its whistle miles away and recognized it. Then she would run to her mother and ask:
"Mama, my boat's comin'; Polar Star's comin'; may I go out on the bank?"
And frequently, after a caution--"do not stand too near the bluff"--Mrs. Cade told her two-year-old she might go to the bank and watch the sidewheeler steam past.
Mrs. Voaden's adventures include dances with the Indians. Of one special dance she has this to tell: The Indians were at Weston for a treaty powwow with the white people. That night they started to dance and the whites were invited to watch the celebration. As the dance progressed, first the braves, then the squaws, and finally the children took part.
When the children began to dance, Mrs. Voaden ran out and began to shout and jump with the Indian children. Instead of halting the dance, as the whites feared, the children danced harder, the older Indians joining in a shout for the little white papoose.
This adventure led to another with the Indians. While Mrs. Voaden was playing on her farm lot one morning, an Indian squaw came by, stopped, and picked up the cild. The Indian told Mrs. Cade she was taking the child to visit the papooses across the river. Riding away by horse the Indian woman disappeared.
Quickly Mrs. Cade sent a message to her husband in town, who took his horse, finally catching the squaw at the ferry. A brief argument ended in Cade's promise to bring all the children to Kansas the following Sunday for a day with the Indians.
"We never had trouble wit the Kickapoos, the Indians of this area," Mrs. Voaden explained, "Our promises to them always were fulfilled and consequently they treated us as friends. Their word to us was true; never did they back out on a statement they made to my family.
"This land was a wilderness when we first came here," Mrs. Voaden said. "Wild hogs, panthers, bears, bison, deer, wolves, coyotes, animals of all species were here. Timber and brush covered the earth. Pioneers were forced to clear sites to build cabins and to plant crops."
Little of Leavenworth city existed when the Cades first came to this land, but several years later it began to build up, Mrs. Voaden pointed out. Of course, Fort Leaven wroth was here, she added.
Many times Mrs. Voaden watched long wagon trains head westward. Often the trains could be seen from the Cade farm winding down the west side of Government hill into Salt Creek valley. A strenuous day's journey, for the first day out, generally put the westbound train near Lowemont for the night.
Mrs. Voaden's father attended the initial Kansas Day celebration at Kickapoo, January 29, 1861. He also saw Abraham Lincoln when he visited in Leavenworth. Mrs. Voaden has a picture card of Lincoln, which is a souvenir of the Lincoln visit. She was too small to attend, she said.
The card, showing a picture of Lincoln and a Statue of Liberty, bears these words: "Liberty, Crowning Her Martyr." At Lincoln's feet are the chains, supposedly of slavery.
Another adventure well remains in Mrs. Voaden's memory. It was the first legalized hanging for murder in Leavenworth. The case was of Carl Horn, hanged for murder of an Easton resident.
Mrs. Voaden was allowed to attend the hanging at the Leavenworth city jail. At the time General U. s. Grant was a visitor here and happened to be a close friend of a family friend of the Cades. Mrs. Voaden, then about 11 years old, went to the hanging with the family friend. There General Grant was asked for look after her.
Shortly before the appointed hour, General Grant left Mrs. Voaden for several minutes. However, the man dropped from the scaffold before the appointed time, and Mrs. Voaden fainted. Grant hurried back, took her into his arms and revived her, and to quiet her cries presented a picture of himself, which Mrs. Voaden shill has in her collection of early day souvenirs.
Mrs. Beck selected the following additional winners for Leavenworth county: Second, Mrs. Mary Olive, 84, who came here in 1853, Thomas building, Fifth and Cherokee streets; and third, Mrs. Julia Murphy, who came here in 1855, a resident of High Prairie township.
Two candidates' names were submitted to The Times too late to be included in the communications sent to Mrs. Beck. However, the two women are not old enough to have been the winner in the contest. They are the following: Mrs. Helen v. Tuttle, 82, 924 Shawnee street, a resident of Leavenworth county more than 77 continuous years, and Mrs. Amelia Eisenring Armitt, 80, 300 Pawnee street, a resident of Leavenworth county 64 years.