Why I came to Kansas

by Waldo Hancock


"Waldo Hancock, Beverly, Still Recalls His First Indian"
(Taken from a 1933 newspaper article. Submitted by Joan Stevenson who got it from Kirk Painter - painterk@worldnet.att.net. Waldo was born 1/1/1848 in Milford, Mass. and died 4/13/1943 in Beverly, Kansas.)

Like many other pioneer settlers, Waldo HANCOCK, who lives at Beverly, was attracted to Kansas by the new lands available here and newer opportunities not found in the more settled east. It has been 64 years since he came to the Sunflower state, but Mr. HANCOCK still remembers his first Indian. He also remembers a 25-mile hike he made through Indian country, unarmed, at a time when he might have been classed as a "greenhorn" by the other pioneers.
Born in Milford, Mass., Mr. HANCOCK came to the Kansas prairies 69 years ago with another young man. They came by railroad to Salina, and finding there was no other way to get to the Colorado settlement, which was 25 miles west of there, the two young men disobeyed the advice of hard-bitten old-timers and started out to walk.
"We thought there would be places we could get food and so did not take anything to eat, not even a cracker," Mr. Hancock recalls. "We tramped in snow ankle deep and thawing fast. Our feet became soaked and there was no house in sight. Just before dark we came on FISHER's ranch and they put us up for the night.
"This was the first dug-out I had ever seen and I will never forget how FISHER laughed when he saw me looking it over. We got to the (??? could be E.C.) JOHNSON place the next day at noon. Finding several men gathered there we listened to them and learned they had killed 12 Indians in a fight the day before. That made us wonder how we had dared to come 25 miles without arms of any kind.
"I was only 21 years old at the time. There were two women living in a radius of three miles, in addition to the five Colorado boys who were discharged and came there as the first settlers in Lincoln County.
"Everyone went armed then at all times and they told me to do likewise. But while at work plowing with oxen I left my arms at home after dinner. It was a hot day and my revolvers hung heavy from my hips. That afternoon while I was watching the dirt roll up in the furrow, almost asleep, I heard a grunt behind me that brought me to life right now. There was an Indian within four feet of me. He told me by signs that he had not eaten in three days. I told him the settlers had nothing to give and that he had better leave quick or they would kill him on sight.
"Of course I expected he would end me right there. But he walked away. I ran to my dug-out and strapped my pistols back on. I did not leave them off again. This was my first Indian. I was scared plenty, but I got through it alive. I'll never forget it."
Mr. Hancock is now 85 years of age and retired, having contributed his part during the past 64 years of residence in Lincoln county to building up the country froma virgin prairie into a thriving farming community.


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