The History of the Early Settlement of Norton County, Kansas

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Peak of Lenora and J. J. Vanmeter of Oronoque. 

In the early winter of 1870 in the little village of Butternuts, in Otsego county, New York, several young men appointed a secret meeting for the purpose of making arrangements to take Horace Greely's [sic] advice "Go west and grow up with the country," this meeting led to another, etc., until finally they met by appointment every Saturday night; this organization grew in numbers until about 25 men young and old became interested; these meetings were held in an upper room over the shop of Henry Oliver, the village wagon-maker; about mid-winter the wagon-maker joined the organization and agreed to emigrate with them the following spring.  About February one Henry Alsop a young man who had been in the west for two years returned to his old home in Butternuts; on the following Saturday night he was invited to attend the meeting and give his western experience; the entire organization had by this time become thoroughly inoculated [sic] with the western fever.  Alsop had been located in Fremont Co., Nebr., but had been out on the Prairie Dog on a buffalo hunt.  He gave the boys a glowing description of the Prairie Dog valley and they at once determined by a unanimous vote to come to Norton county, Kansas, Alsop agreeing to accompany them but when the time for starting came all but seven, Sol Marsh, Henry Foster, Chas. Hillsinger, Mott Wood, Henry Oliver, Thos. Brown and Henry Alsop backed out.  Just on the eve of starting an unfortunate circumstance occurred; one of their neighbors broke his wagon; he insisted that Henry Oliver remain long enough to repair it.  Henry Foster who was Sol Marsh's partner became afflicted with a disease and was under a physician's care so it was impossible for him to come.  The other boys decided not to wait so an agreement was reached that the others should come and one of them should return one month later to Lincoln, Nebraska and meet Oliver and Foster.  On Alsop's advice they had agreed to come by rail to Lincoln and from there by team overland to Norton county; the party arrived at Lincoln without incident worthy of special mention; near there Alsop had one horse left there the fall before; the balance of the party purchased another horse, harness and wagon, loaded the wagon with provisions and started for the Prairie Dog valley. Everything went along smoothly until they reached Beatrice, here their wagon broke down, an incident which came near breaking the expedition up in a row.  Hillsinger, who had more money than the rest swore he would not put in another cent and declared his intentions of selling out his interest in the outfit and going straight back to Butternuts.  Mott Wood felt about the same way.  Tom Brown allowed they could ship the wagon back to Butternut and let Hanky Oliver repair it, but Sol Marsh whose capital at that time was nearly all invested in watches and revolvers came to the rescue by trading the wagon to a homesteader for another and giving a watch to boot.  The party then proceeded without further incident.  They pitched their tent on the Prairie Dog where Sol Marsh now lives, April 10th, 1872.  After looking around a few days and locating their claims, Alsop returned to Lincoln to meet Oliver and Henry Foster as per agreement. The land office at that time was located at Concordia.  Alsop went via land office and put papers on the claims of the four boys who came with him.  He met Oliver and Foster and loaded the wagon with provisions and started back to Norton.  About this time he traded the horses for a yoke of cattle. 

About fifty miles west of Lincoln he left Oliver and Foster in an abandoned


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