The History of the Early Settlement of Norton County, Kansas

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he left the republican party in the early 80's and became a greenbacker; was a union labor man in 1t`88; is now a populist.  Although he has never aspired to public office he has several times been the nominee of his party.  

Jule J. VanMeter, Baker A. VanMeter and Wallace Spencer came to Norton county on a buffalo hunt in the fall of 1871.  November of that year found them camped on Bow Creek southwest of Logan engaged in trapping beaver, the buffalo having left.  A party of three came along from some of the eastern counties looking for game expecting to get their winter's meat; they employed Jule to go with them and kill some buffalo, they drove in west of Twin Mounds in the southwest corner of the county and there found buffalo.  Jule describes them as one moving mass, the prairie being black with them; this was about 2 o'clock p.m. November 17, 1871.  He killed four fat cows which they at once set in to skin and dress the meat.  The day was warm as summer, but while they were skinning the third cow they noticed a change in the weather.  Before they got the fourth one dressed they saw the storm coming and at once pulled out for the timber.  They had hardly got started when the wolves began to howl which was a sure sign of a storm; before they reached the North Solomon, near where Almelo postofflce is now located, the air got thick and heavy and snow began to fall.  The party had two wagons and four horses; by the time they got their teams taken care of and supper over it was pitch dark and snowing hard, with the wind from the northwest.  But one wagon contained bows and cover, so all four men got into it to sleep which made a close fit considering that they had to remain in there four days with nothing to eat but raw meat; they were completely drifted under the first morning; on the evening of the third day they dug out but could find no wood; on the fourth day they got out and made a fire and cooked something to eat.  There was great rejoicing in camp that they were all alive.  Some of the men had frozen feet and hands, while the teams had nearly perished, but all were alive.  On the sixth day they broke camp and started south in search of warmer climate.  On the first night out they camped about 18 miles south west of Twin Mounds; they were completely lost on that high, bleak prairie with out wood or water and probably would never have known where they spent that miserable night except for the fact that in the following summer Jule found the bones of one of their horses that was frozen stiff.  The next morning they started more dead than alive for the timber on South Solomon; it was still cloudy the wind blowing and snow drifting.  When they had gone about one mile Jule left the wagon to hunt the road; he had not gone far when he discovered how useless it was and attempted to retrace his steps but the wind had blown his foot prints and the wagon tracks completely full.  You can imagine that here was a scared boy, for Jule, at that time was in his teens and practically without experience on the plains.  This according to his own story, was the worst time he ever experienced with no food or arms except his skinning knife.  He spent two nights on the prairie and on the third evening found a camp, good fire and supper.  On the next day he found his own camp on Bow Creek where he left Baker and Spencer; they were all right, or to put it in his language, "were fat and hearty."  Jule never saw the buffalo hunters afterward and has completely forgotten their names; he heard they got into the timber all right as they afterward sent him his gun.  Jule found and picked out his claim on Elk Creek during this winter, and also killed a large buck elk from which incident the creek took its name;

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