1878 History of Jewell County, Kansas


The following is a transcription of a history of Jewell County, Kansas published in 1878. It reflects the attitudes of the time. This is taken from a microfilmed copy. Some of the print was difficult to read and I have indicated with a question mark in brackets ([?]) when I was unsure of the spelling, particularly of names. Submitted by Patricia Seitas.

History of Jewell County, Kansas, with a Full Account of the Early Settlements and Indian Atrocities Committed Within Its Borders; Its final Settlement, Organization and Progress, Its Present Society, Churches and Schools, Its Towns, Streams; Topography; Soil and Products, Its Population; Township Organization and Officers, Its Industries; Business, Resources, Etc. by M. Winsor and James A. Scarbrough, Jewell City, Kansas, Diamond Printing Office, 1878


INDEX
TOWNSHIPS


Fourth Settlement
Another Innocent Life Sacrificed to the Save Moloch. --
"The Excelsior Colony." -- Hunters Attacked.
A Gallant Resistance, With Another Bloody Sequel. --
Indian Troubles all Along the Line.

Late in October 1868, a large colony of Scandinavians located on the Republican river, and laid out the town of Scandia, in Republic county, which was the headquarters of the colony. This settlement reached far up the river, and also up White Rock creek, into Jewell county. Several members of this colony contested claims that had been previously taken by parties heretofore mentioned. At this time there was a lively rivalry for these claims, and a number were homesteaded by Swedes, who lived in Junction City, and who would be first notified of their cancellation through the medium of a Swede clerk in the Land Office. Some of the Swedes who took claims at this time, continue to hold them, though none remained permanently in the county until the spring of 1870, and by far the largest number entirely deserted them. The names of those who took land this year, and held it, besides those heretofore mentioned, are Martin Dahl, G.R. Nelson, John Johnson and Peter Tanner. John Dahl settled with the rest, but was killed by Indians in the following spring, an account of which will follow.

In May 1869, what was known as the "Excelsior," or New York Colony, under the head of one Walker, came into the county and took claims along White Rock creek, as high up as Burr Oak, and as far down as John's creek. About 2 miles east of the present site of Holmwood, a block house was erected for protection, and surrounded by two lines of earth-works. Here the whole colony resided during the short stay in the county. Immediately after their arrival, they gave public notice that all claimants of land on the creek must be on their claims by a certain date, or they would be contested. This had the effect to bring to the creek a number of Swedes and Norwegians, who laid claim to nearly all the most valuable land. At this time, the latter part of May, 169, there were over 100 people in the county, all on White Rock Creek

The Beginning of Trouble

On the 20th day of May, three men came to White Rock and stated that they had started on a hunt from Rose creek, Neb., with a party of seven, but had been attacked by Indians and four of their number killed, and they asked for help to go back and bury their dead companions and recover their wagons. A force of 30 men were raised, and under the lead of Lovewell, proceeded to the scene of the massacre, which occurred partly in the Northwest corner of Jewell county, and partly on the Republican river in Nebraska, where the wagons were found, and two of the dead men, with every evidence of a desperate resistance. The two dead men at the wagons were buried, but the others were not found for some time after. They had fallen in this county, adding the blood of two more victims to its soil. During the return of the burial party, Indians were visible at a distance, they judging the whites too strong to be safely attacked. On the 23d, they got back as far as the "Excelsior Colony" fortifications, and on the morning of the 24th, those who did not belong to this colony, proceeded form the creek, dropping out as fast as they came to their claims. Upon arriving at Peter Tanner's place, that individual came out of the brush and informed them that on the previous day, the Indians had made a raid at this point, and shot Johnny Dahl, and burnt several cabins, destroying a large amount of property, and run off much stock. The smoking ruins of Pete's house attested the truth of his statement. At this moment, a party of horsemen were seen coming, and the little army, now numbering only 16, prepared for battle, but the horsemen proved to be whites, from Salt creek, out after some wagons that had been left hid in Upper Elm Grove, on the Republican river, now McCraken's Grove, while two hunters were run home by Indians. It was afterwards learned that these wagons and teams were found all right, the Indians not happening to go that way. As Lovewell and his party proceeded down the creek, they were continually seeing the heads of men peeping at them over some hill, or from some ravine in the distance, appearing for a moment, then disappearing, only to be seen again at some other point. Finally chase was made, and two of these mysterious persons caught, and the mystery was solved. Nearly the whole Swede settlement had taken flight, and in their fright saw Indians in this band of horsemen. It is not strange they were frightened, all unused as they were to scenes of blood. Johnny Dahl had been carried six miles down the creek, on a door, mortally wounded, and left at Al. Woodruff's house, where he died at 11 o'clock at night, the day previous to Lovewell's return. That night nearly all the Swedes and Norwegians left the creek and went back to Scandia.

To Tell the Story

On the 25th, only two days subsequent to the attack on the Swede settlement, a party of seven hunters from Irving, Kansas, were attacked just south of Wilson's Grove, on the Republican river, in the north part of the county, and slowly fought their way back to a block house, just in the edge of Republic county, and about 2 miles north of White Rock creek. The firing was distinctly heard on the creek during nearly the whole of the afternoon. This party remained safely at the block house during the night, and in the morning, no enemy being visible, started for home. Upon reaching the Republican river, the Indians again attacked them, and having expended all their ammunition in the fight of the previous day, the whole party broke for the water, and six were overtaken and shot in the stream, one only escaping, John McChesney, an uncle of the John W. McChesney so well known in the newspaper circles in Northwestern Kansas.

The firing was distinctly heard on White Rock, and a party would have went to the assistance of the hunters, but were prevented by a big rise in the creek, making a crossing impossible.

More Mischief

On the following day, (the 27th) about 80 Indians swam across the creek, about half a mile east of the county line, and skulking up a raving attempted to surprise three Swedes--Munson, Burchlam and Hageman--whose claims were in Jewell county, but who were then helping a friend to put in corn just over the line. They had become tired and had sat down to rest, unconscious of danger. Lovewell, who was at work close by, saw the Indians, and ran down to save the Swedes. Arriving without about 60 yards of them, he saw an Indian's head and gun cautiously raised up out of the head of the ravine, evidently bent on mischief. He instantly leveled his rifle at the Indian, who, as suddenly ducked down again. The next instant the 80 savages sprang from their cover in a body and began to circle, as is their mode. Lovewell held his rifle to his face, first bearing on one and then on another, and slowly backing until the Swedes had reached the other end of the field, where they had left their carbines and revolvers. After this the Indians kept a safer distance for both parties. When he first discovered the Indians, Lovewell ordered Burchlam to secure the horses he was driving. But he was so stupefied that when the other men had secured their weapons, he still stood looking on in a dazed way, not having made a move towards securing the team. He was again ordered to save the team, and striking them with the lines, they became frightened and ran away with the plow. In a few minutes the plow struck something and became detached, and the horses ran and mixed with the circling ponies of the Indians--just what the latter most desired. The raid was made about 3 p.m., and the Indians withdrew about dusk. But two or three shots were fired by the whites, the Indians, after the first rush, keeping at too great a distance. Lovewell, who at first was close enough, wisely held his fire, in strict accordance with the only true tactics in such trying emergencies. Had he fired, instead of simply covering the Indians with his rifle, in all human probability not a man of the whole party would have escaped. As it was, the only loss sustained was that of the team. In this place we will add that on the day Johnny Dahl was killed, the Indians took Al. Woodruff's team, leaving him afoot and without the means to buy another.

A Plucky woman

At this time, Mrs. Frazier, a widow woman who now lives in Jewell county, was living on a rented place about a mile east of the county line. While the Indians were skirmishing with Lovewell and the Swedes, a number of them paid her a visit. A man by the name of Robert Watson, was out in the field plowing with a span of horses, and the Indians had entirely cut him off from the house and was about to take him in, when Mrs. Frazier ran out with a double-barreled shot gun and fired several shots at them, and rove them back until Watson gained time to unhitch, and come in with the horses. The Indians gave her no further trouble, and soon took their departure.

Buckskin Takes a Bath

Just as the Indians crossed the creek an Irishman, who went by the name of "Buckskin," and who had come out with Mrs. Frazier, had been up to Lovewell's, and had started home, but had proceeded but a short distance when he discovered the Indians. When he saw them he ran down to the creek, and plunging into the water he got under a large drift, where he remained all night in the water, only venturing out at daylight, nearly chilled to death. The joke was on "Buckskin," for the Indians had not seen him at all.

The Excelsior Colony Leaves

Mrs. Frazier had two sons--Frank and William--who had been employed to go up to the "Excelsior Colony" and move one of the families out of the country. Contrary to advice the boys started up the creek that morning and arrived safe enough at the colony fort; got the family--husband and wife and their effects into the wagon, making a big load. They were city bred and in fair circumstances, having several trunks of fine clothing, rich dresses and millinery. On their return they had reached John's Creek, when lo! a hundred Indians made their appearance on the bluffs above them. Seeing no chance of escape the Frazier boys cut the horses loose from the wagon, and mounting them started back for the fort, pursued by the Indians. After a short run, seeing that they were about to be overtaken they jumped from their horses and taking to the timber on foot, made their escape. The husband and wife at the wagon, with two Englishmen who belonged to the Colony, ran down John's Creek, and assisting the woman, crossed the swollen White Rock, and escaped, reaching Lovewell's at 3 a.m., the next morning. In their flight they followed every tortuous bend of the stream, not daring to cross the open spaces for fear of being seen and butchered by the Indians. The woman was a sad sight to look upon when she arrived. Having had to cross the stream several times, in order to facilitated her flight, she had taken off all her clothing but one dress, her petticoats being so heavy with water that she could not walk with them on.

The Indians broke open all the trunks and boxes at the wagon and rigged themselves out in gorgeous array with the contents. As the party appeared at the fort later in the day one old Indian had on a silk dress and a fancy trimmed lady's hat. They gathered on the bluffs about half a mile south of the fort and treated the terrified inmates to some original dramatic attitudes, which, however, it must be admitted, were not appreciated at the time.

The President of the colony, Mr. Walker, being down at Junction City at the time, heard of this raid on his way back, hired a lot of men and teams, came up and took the colony away, leaving about the first of June. It will be remembered that nearly all the Swedes had left only a few days previous, and when the Colony left these few went also, leaving not a white man or woman in Jewell county. From this time, (June 1st, 1869) the Indians held undisputed possession of Jewell county until August following, but few whites remaining even in Republic county. But among them was Mrs. Frazier, who did not leave for a month or more. She came back with her two sons in 1870 and still remains a permanent resident of the county.

Another New Settler

In August 1869 Peter Kearns ventured into the county and took the Nicholas Ward claim and remained working on it all the following winter, the sole occupant of Jewell county. However, in December of that year Robert Clellan picked out a claim, but did not settle on it until the spring of 1870. So to Peter Kearns alone belongs the honor of spending the winter of 1869-1870 in Jewell county. He has spent several winters since but with each succeeding winter the number of his fellow citizens has increased until now he can count them by the thousands. The Indians have entirely disappeared, not only from Jewell county, but from the entire State, not a hostile red man being nearer our borders than five hundred miles.

From the preceding pages it would appear that nearly all the blood shed in Jewell county was on the part of the Indians. But such is not the cae, in evidence of which we have given an account of a

Desperate Battle with Indians

In the fall of 1861, a desperate battle took place between a scouting party of soldiers and citizens from Fort Kearney, and a band of Indians, at the forks of East Buffalo creek, on the farm now owned by Joseph Collar. Thirty Indians were killed and one white man--John Collins. The remainder of the Indians were taken prisoners. The Indians were buried in two trenches, and Collins was buried in a grave on the bank of the creek, with head and foot stones to make the spot. This incident was related to us by William R. Whitney, to whom it was told by one of the participants, who now resides at Fairbury, Nebraska.


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