The History of the Early Settlement of Norton County, Kansas

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party veered their prairie sails for Norton, that night camped upon the top of Sugar Bowl mound, shot a salute for the nation's natal day, read the Declaration of Independence, listened to an oration and several toasts and went to sleep by a coffee fire on a mound that undoubtedly was utilized by the Indian for the signal lights of war. 

On July 5 the party arrived at Norton and underwent a series of crossquestions instituted by those masters of the art, John R. Hamilton and Louis K. Pratt.  

Pratt had just come in from the harvest field where he earned 60 cents, and discovering a miller among the tourists (he had no encouragement for the two lawyers) took the miller down to the present Close's mill site then owned by Elijah Collins.  The miller was smitten with the site, and contracted for it.  Texas was at once abandoned.  Back to Lansing went the miller for his money, but he never returned here. 

Hamilton's investigations were prompted by the sight of a checkerboard in one of the buggies. 

"Got any man that plays checkers?" 

"Yes, a world beater; beat every player between here and the Mississippi river." 

Peter McCrea and J. W. Conway were matched for a game.  Conway lost three straight games easily.  The latter has never played checkers since.  This party of twelve made Norton the terminus of their pleasure tour; all of them were bent on locating here, and, at the same time, took land, settling in the same locality the territory now known as Garfield township.  

Nine of them went back to Lansing at once, but never returned to their land; those who remained were Albert E. Hale, Homer E. Hale and John W. Conway.  Later in the fall the latter went back to Lansing, going overland with Nels Hansberry and wife to Brown county, and returned with his brother, Dan M. Conway, April 20, 1880. 

In searching for land in 1878, the Hale brothers and J. W. Conway ran across Jim Maggard herding cattle in what is known as Spring Draw.  Jim was the beau ideal of laziness and contentment.  The editor of The Champion charges Jim with deception for inducing him to get a farm upon the assertion that ten days' work a year will support any man in this country.  The editor undertook to verify it by homesteading for five years, liberally squandering the allotted ten days in labor each year, but a part of each year found him away to earn enough to live on. 

John's claim was the first land taken in Garfield township - at least in the western portion.  Andrew Maxwell of Leota township, was the nearest settler.  When he came back in 1880 the Dunkard colony had taken the northern portion of the township, Aaron and Lewis W. Covey had settled west of him, 

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