(Taken from The Lincoln Republican, October 31, 1901 issue. Submitted by Richard Wiesner, Richard Biddle Clark's great grandson --- email: email@example.com)
In your report of the old settlers reunion, held in Lincoln October 18, you stated that James WILDE was the eldest settler of Lincoln county. I did not hear Mr.WILDE make any such statement, but thinking that your paper will be read by some who did not attend the reunion, I wish to correct the error.
The Lincoln Sentinel in its report of the reunion gives him credit as the second oldest settler. As the history of the early settlement of Lincoln county is now sought, and as those who took part in it are passing away, I think now a good time to state a few of the facts, as I saw them.
In company with E. E. JOHNSON, Isaac DeGRAFF, and several others, I visited the Saline valley in October, 1865, and at that time laid a foundation on my present farm, filing on the land in Junction City a few days later. When discharged from the government service, E. E. JOHNSON, Isaac DeGRAFF, J. J. AdAMS, D. C. SKINNER, W. E. THOMPSON and myself (we being the so called Colorado boys) returned to the Saline valley, arriving in Lincoln county during the holidays, or about December 27, 1865.
The day after our arrival, we hauled drift logs from the river and built a fire on the ground where we wished to build our dugout, getting the frost out of the ground so we could dig. This was the first permanent settlement in Lincoln county.
When the Indian war cloud settled over us we did not leave, as we might have done had we had families. In early days we did not call a man a settler unless he lived here all the time; we did not call him a settler from the date of their homestead or filing papers. There was no Indian war here in 1866 or 1867, and no Indian scare here that we ever heard of during those years, and why any person, at this late date, will tell of indian scares of those two years, is more than I can tell. They may have their dates mixed. It was in 1868 and 1869, that we had trouble with the Indians.
When the late Washington SMITH, in 1876, wrote a short history of Lincoln county we (the Colorado boys) talked some of correcting some of the errors he made. He said, after giving the names of the Colorado boys, "In the early springtime of 1866 came the following settlers with their families in the order mentioned: George GREEN, nativity Massachusetts, and his family; W. T. WILDE, nativity England, and his family; Washington SMITH nativity Kentucky, and his family; John DART, nativity Connecticut, and his family; and two youths from Ohio, J.J. PEATE and William GASKELL. These were the first settlers of Lincoln county." I do not agree with Mr. SMITH regarding the order in which they came.
Mr. WILDE admits that he left here and was gone for several months, and I know that he was not considered a settler here until about the latter part of 1867. In the history referred to, the name of Fletcher VIOLETT is omitted from the list of Lincoln county men who took part in the fight on the Arickaree river September 17, 1863. To that list, I think, should be added E. E JOHNSON, D. C SKINNER, J. J, PEATE and Thomas BOYLE, who, were members of that Company of scouts, but who were on other duty at the time of the battle. but were in position to go with others to the rescue. Thomas BOYLE was not a resident of Lincoln county at that time.
Now, Mr. Editor, had you been here in those days you would have a filing on l60 acres of land was no protection to the actual settlers against Indians, and you would not feel at this time like giving a person who held that filing, credit of being a settler here unless they were living here. If there is any honor in being the first, second, third or fourth settler, let us give this honor to whom it is due. With malice toward none.