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.
In the Times of January 25 the writer gave an extended account of the flood of 1844 in the Missouri river, the greatest overflow in the history of that stream. He now will briefly narrate some other events of a century ago in the territory contiguous to Fort Leavenworth, the most important seat of human activity in this section of the country at that remote period. One can visualize from the character of these happenings and form a fair perspective of the aspect and condition of this region at that time and readily note the great changes that have taken place here.
In 1844--a century ago--the whold region now embraced in the states of Kansas and Nebraska, and west to the plateau of the Rocky Mountains, was known as "Nebraska Country." In that year the first movement for the organization of this vast area was started when a convention was held among the Wyandotte Indians, in what is now Wyandotte County. These Indians having been among th prime movrs in the project, with other tribes, or what was known as the "Northwestern Confederacy of Indian Tribes," taking an active part. This meeting was the nucleus of the movement which resulted in the first provisionsl constitution of Kansas and the ultimate formation of Kansas Territory. One of the most prominent of those who was active in this project was William Walker, a leader among the Wyandottes. He is known in history as "Governor" William Walker, because he was appointed provisional governor of Kansas and Nebraska Territories.
In 1844, Rev. John g. Pratt began the erection of buildings for his Baptist mission among the Stockbridge Indians, in the Delaware country, south of Fort Leavenworth.
Major Robert Wilson established a trading post in Salt Creek valley, in 1844. In 1852, he sold out to Major M. P. Rively and became sutler at Fort Riley.
In 1844, Major Clifton Wharton, with a detachment of Dragoons, left Fort Leavenworth on an expedition to the Pawnee and other Upper Missouri River Indians.
A century ago Hiram Rich was postmaster at Fort Leavenworth. For many years his home was at the south end of Fortification Hill, in Salt Creek Valley. At one time he was sutler at the post.
General Thomas A. Smith, one of the earliest commands of this western frontier department of the Army, died in 1844.
In 1844, the Wyandotte Indians were making improvements and getting settled on their new lands at the junction of the Missouri and Kansas rivers, which they had purchased from the Delawares, having arrived only a short time before from Ohio.
Parkville was laid off by Colonel George S. Park a century ago on the 18th of next April.
In 1844, Dr. Henry B. Callahan, later of Leavenworth, was practicing, medicine at Platte City. He moved to Leavenworth in 1857, and was aprominent physician and leading citizen for many years. He died in 1896.
A century ago Paschal Penscheau, a French trader and interpretor among the Kickapoo Indians, at Kickapoo, for many years, moved to Stranger creek, near the present site of Potter, where he opened a trading post. He married a Kickapoo Indian woman.
One hundred years ago there was quite a settlement at the Delaware crossing of the Kansas river on the Fort Leavenworth-Fort Scott military road. It consisted of trading houses, a blacksmith shop, ferry, etc.
In 1844, John B. Wells established the historic "Rialto Ferry," which operated between old Rialto, on the Platte County side of the river, to a point above Fort Leavenworth, from where it connected with the great emigration road. From that time to 1865, it was one of the main outlets on the Missouri river for the great tide of emigration to the west. John B. Wells was a Kentuckian, who became one of the sturdy and prominent pioneers of the Platte Purchase. He was born in 1800, settled at Weston in 1837, and died near there in 1890.
Abelard Guthrie, one of the most influential men of the Wyandotte tribe, married in 1844, Quindaro Nancy Brown, herself a member of a prominent Wyandotte family. the old town of Quindaro was named for her.
In 1844, the personnel of the Fort Leavenworth Indian Agency was as follows: Richard W. cummins, agent; Jonathan Phillips, subagent for Wyandotte; Joshua Carpenter, subagent; Clement Lessert, John M. Armstrong, Henry Tiblow, interpretors; Charles Graham, James B. Post, Charles Fish, Isaac Monday, Robert Wilson, J. Carpenter, blacksmiths; J. Pitman and Mab Frankler, assistant blacksmiths; W. H. Mitchell, farmer; William Donelson and J. M. Simpson, blacksmiths for Shawnees; Richard Simpson and Joseph Park, assistant blacksmiths for Shawnees.
The first church, built by the Wyandotte Indians in Kansas was completed in 1844 and the first services held therein in April of that year. It was of the Methodist denomination. Several missionaries who had previously been stationed at Kickapoo often preached there, among them Rev. J. C. Berryman, and Rev's E. T. and J. Thompson Perry.
While Weston was started several yers before, the townsite was not "entered" according to Federal law until 1844, and the first plat was filed in that year. The law granting towns a preemption and authorizing the sale of town lots was not passed until 1843, and prior to that no reliable titles could be obtained. Thus, as a legal municiplity. Weston is 100 years old this year. As early as 1837, Joseph Moore, a retired soldier from Fort Leavenworth, took the claim on which the town is situated, laid off several streets and sold a few lots, but he had no business qualifications and the placemade little or no advancement until General Bela M. Hughes took hold of the project. Through his enterprise by 1839, it wasa lively town of 300 inhabitants, althrough the premption law, mentioned above, had not yet been passed. In 1850, the population had reached 1,915. A century ago Weston had many prominent business and professional men among whom were Ben Holladay, later of Overland Stage fame, Elijah Cody, uncle of "Buffalo Bill" Cody, General George P. Doriss, Captain W. S. Murphy, who became a noted trader on the plins, General Bela M. Hughes, afterwards one of Colorado's most distinguished attorneys, Thodore Warner, who furnished supplies for the army during the Mexican war for 20 years a trader on the plains and at one time associated with Ben Holladay, D. P. Wallin--, Ben Wood, Railey Brothers, --- Cockrill and others.
Among the steamboats on the Missouri river in 1844, wer the following: Iatan (No. 1) Haidee, Lexington, Lewis F. Linn, John Aull, Big Hatchie, Hannibal, Mary Blane, Anawan, Nodaway, Tobacco Plant, Gloster, Omega, Colonel Woods, Amaranth (No. 1), Wapello, Mary Tompkins, Geneva (No. 1), Columbiana, Nimrod, Warsaw, Bertrand, St. Croix (No. 2).
John Gardiner, in 1844, established a ferry between Weston and Fort Leavenworth. (John Gardiner was a brother to James Gardiner, the father of J. E. Gardiner, a member of The Times staff).
In 1884 the Rev. N. M. Talbott was in charge of the Methodist Mission, at Kickapoo, succeeding Rev. J. C. Berryman who was transferred to the Shawnee Manual Training school.
The Platte Argus, at Platte City, began publication in Mary, 1844. Allen McLane was the editor. He had previously been associated with E. Sangston Wilkinson in the publication of the Eagle, at Weston, the first newspaper in Platte county. In 1844 he bought the press and type from Wilkinson and removed it to Plate City where he started the Argus. McLane died on his way to the California gold fields in 1849, at the age of 31. He was a brillian young man.
The first ferry on the Kansas river, above its mouth, was established a century ago by the Wyandotte Indians and was called the Wyandotte National Ferry.
In the spring of 1844 a band of desperadoes, mostly from Clay county, Mo., with several from Platte county, held up a wagon train belonging to a man named Jarvis on the Santa Fe Trail. They murdered Parvis and plundered the train, taking a large amount of money with which Jarvis intended to buy goods at Independence. They also took other valuable loot. Two of the men, one of them a saloonkeeper named Brown, of Hell-town, later Ridgely, in Platte county, the other named McDaniel, son of a respectable farmer of Clay county, were apprehended, tried in Federal court, convicted and hung. A number of others disappeared.
In 1844 the postage on letters going at a distance was 25 cents. In 1845 the rate was reduced to 12 1/2 cents and in 1846, to 10 cents.
General William B. Almond, later a noted lawyer of Leavenworth and who died here in 1880, ran for lieutennt governor of Missouri in 1844, but was defeated. He then lived in Platte county. He was a distinguished figure in the early history of the west.
A century ago Major Benjamin Bean was living on the lake that bears his name in the Missouri bottoms, East of Fort Leavenworth, and was operating a tavern there.
In 1844, Theodore F. Warner bought land at old Rialto opposite Fort Leavenworth and opened a store.
Prices in 1844: Judge Paxton, in his "Annals of Platte County" tells about the sale of thepersonal property of William Gordon, deceased on December 4, 1844, at which the following prices were obtained: Large hogs, $2.60; sheep, $1.10; mares, $20, $40; horses, $25; oxen, $9.10; cows, $8.55; heifers, $4; steers, $4.30; calves $1; small hogs, 60 cents. "These prices," says Judge Paxton "ruled until the Mexican war.: Wm. Gordon was the father of Si Gordon, the noted guerilla of Civil war days, and lived two miles west of Platte City.
On January 29, 1844, Eneas, known as "the converted Indian," died at Kickapoo. He was a prominent figure among the Kickapoos in the '30s and '40s. He served as interpreter for Rev. J. C. Berryman, the missionary, and accompanied him to Pittsburg, Pa., and other points in the East making quite an impression on the Eastern people with whom he came in contact.
Major Wm. F. Dyer was granted a commission as trader among the Kickapoo Indians in 1844, and in 1845, was located at Kickapoo in that capacity.
In 1844, some prominent men among the Delaware Indians in what is now Leavenworth county, were Po-na-kah-ko-wha, or Fall Leaf; Ton-ga-nox-wha, or Little man; Sa-gun-dal; Ne-quon-he-quon, chief of the Wolf Clan; Sar-cox-ie, chief of the Turtle Band; Qua-cor-now-ha, or James Segondyne, of Secondine; Ne-she-pa-na-cumin, or Charles Journeycake; Que-sh-to-wha, or John Ketchem; Al-lah-a-chick, or James Conner; Nah-koo-mer; Rock-a-to-wah, chief of the Turkey Band.