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.
Who remembers the big Fourth of July picnic which was held in Van Winkle's gove, just east of the present site of the village of Lowemont, and about eight miles northwest of Leavenworth on the nation's birthday, in 1874--sixty-nine years ago?
This picnic was sponsored by the Agricultural and Horticultural Association ofthe 23rd representative district. In its issue of June 11, 1874, the Leavenworth Times printed the following announcement:
"the Agricultural and Horticultural Association of the 23rd representative district met, pursuant to call published in The Times. On taking the chair, Mr. H. C. Squires, president, explained the object of the meeting to be for the purpose of considering the propriety of celebrating the approaching national anniversary. It was decided to hold a picnic celegration at J. P. Van Winkle's grove, near Pleasant Ridge, on July 4th, 1874. On motion it was ordered that a committee consisting of one person from each club and grange in the 23rd district be appointed as a committee on arrangements. The following persons were appointed: H. C. Squires, chairman, Lance Woodward, A. T. Parrot, J. B. Crane, J. C. Baird, W. R. Anderson, William B. Bradshaw, H. M. Dubois, Fred Hoberg, Nat Henderson, and J. M. Faulconer."
Of those who composed this committee the most, if not all, have long since passed away. The writer knew several of them personally. They were all prominent in their respective communities. Henry C. Squires was one of the founders of Lowemont and resided there. He was an old plainsman and companion of "Buffalo Bill" Cody. He served Kansas in the legislature in the early days. He was a prominent rancher, cattleman and banker. Jackson B. Crane lived near No. 11 schoolhouse. He operated a pioneer threshing outfit in Leavenworth County. J. C. Baird was an extensive fruit grower and nurseryman near Easton. He was an old Indian fighter and took part in the Pike's Peak gold rush. Frederick Hoberg settled at Kickapoo in 1854, sold his claim to the town company and moved to a farm two miles west of that place, on Plum creek, where he lived until his death. Nat Henderson lived near Kickapoo, where he was among the most prominent pioneers. J. M. Faulconer was one of the best known and most influential pioneers of Round Prairie. Regarding the others who served on that picnic committee I have no readily available data.
The picnic was one of the largest that had ever been held in that community up to that time. People from all over this section of Kansas attended. A number of speakers "spread the eagle" to use a term common at that period. There were fireworks and other features, and a general good time was had.
John P. Van Winkle settled a short distance northwest of the famous old "Eight Mile House," in the '50s and the Van Winkle cemetery there bears his name. The writer gave a brief account of this pioneer cemetery in The Times of March 23. Van Winkle's grove was a favorite gathering place of that community in the early days.