The History of the Early Settlement of Norton County, Kansas

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In 1870 a quartette of buffalo hunters and trappers came in; they camped near Logan that winter but went up the river in 1871 and took land near where Cheesman's mill now stands.  During the years 1871 and 1872 they were camped at different times between the Arickaree on the north and Arkansas on the south, but they at all times caled (sic) the dugouts on the North Solomon the home camp.  Their names were Daniel McLaren, James Forbes, Henry Gordon and William Darling; from the Norton County Advance, June 12, 1874, we clip the following article in regard to Dan McLarren:

"THE OLDEST INHABITANT,
We yesterday had the pleasure of meeting a man who is without doubt, probably the oldest inhabitant in Norton county, at least he is spoken of as such by old settlers, and how it is that history has it different we know not.  Daniel McLaren, or Uncle Dan as he is known came to Norton county in 1870, with two other men, and ever since that time he has made this county his home.  He was in this county for nearly one year before he ever saw a white man, except his own party, and after staying here three years selected a tract of land on the Solomon river that took his eye when he first viewed the land.  Uncle Dan is sixty or seventy years old now and he tells us that when his hat is on his head his whole family is under shelter.  For two or three years be hunted and trapped over this country from the South Solomon to the Republican and Arickaree rivers on the northwest.  The first winter he was here he caught over eighty otter, on what he named, and which name it still retains, Otter Creek, about ten miles south of this place.  Uncle Dan came here from Northwestern Iowa, and has seen "times" enough to fill a good sized book.  Let history record it that he was the first inhabitant of Norton county."

Uncle Dan settled on land now owned by Mr. Gilder, Sr.  He made his home the last year he remained here with Mr. Moffit and left this county with him in 1884; they moved to Nebraska near Grand Island and lived there at last reports.

James Forbes left here in 1874 and moved to Wyoming; he has since married and lives at this time at Hyannis, Nebraska.  He has become wealthy dealing in cattle.  He has several times been elected to public office and is at this time chairman of the board of county commissioners there.

Henry Gordon came from Lawrenceburg, Ind; he had been in the army, a man of polish and education.  The explanation of his frontier life lies in the rumor that after leaving the army he got into a scrape with a young lady in Indiana, a quarrel followed with the girl's brother whom he killed after which he escaped here.  When the buffalo left he tried to farm here, but without success. I n 1872 he received the entire vote of his district for county commissioner, as previously stated, but Hansen was declared elected.  In 1874 he quietly disappeared.  Jule Van Meter informs us he now resides at Mullen, Nebraska.  He is married and is engaged in the mercantile business.  He once represented his county in the Nebraska Legislature and is at present a member of the board of county commissioners.

William Darling left here for Texas in the spring of 1874; is now an orange grower in Florida.

John Kelly relates that Gordon and Darling brought to Newell's store in 1873 twelve otter hides; at that time two buyers, one from Lincoln the other from St. Louis, began bidding against each other for the hides until one paid $120 in gold for them, a phenomenal (sic) price and at that time a phenominal (sic) currency.  They were the most successful trappers and hunters that Norton records.

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