At the request of Judge Ruppenthal to secure the history of the early settlement of Twin Creek, we have presented the matter to C. Bernhardt who took it up with C.M. Heaton, the only survivor of the original settlers of this section of the county. We are presenting the story in Mr. Heaton’s own words, as we think it would more be appreciated by the Judge than if you should try to re-write it in our own language.
"On March 5th, 1871, at Pomeroy, Ohio, A.T. Biggs, Thomas Smales, John Riley, H.G. White and C.M. Heaton met by agreement and boarded a steamboat for Cincinnati, Ohio, at which place Dr. Combs, of Ohio, was organizing a colony for location in an unsettled county in Kansas. We arrived in Cincinnati on the morning of March 7th, where we met the doctor with nearly 400 others.
"I think on the following day we chartered a train of eight or ten coaches and two or three baggage cars, arriving at Kansas City March 9th. At this small town – at that date – we met land agents for Kansas, who were interesting in locating people in the organized counties of Kansas. After listening to them for a good part of the day, often conferring together for several hours as to what point in the state we would charter a train for, we decided we would go to Ellsworth, Ellsworth County, Kansas. We made a deal with the Kansas Pacific Road – which is now the Union Pacific – for the sum of $5.00 per head, the fare at that time being 6 cents per mile.
"On March 11th we arrived at six a.m. at Ellsworth, and to say we thought it a dry looking country would be putting it mildly.
"On March 11th and 12th we consulted together, as to what new county we would organize. The majority voted to go south into Rice County but the five including the writer left the colony and decided we would go to Paradise Creek, in Russell County. I think the name attracted us rather than the creek, as we knew nothing of it except what we learned from Buffalo hunters.
"On the afternoon of the 13th we five secured about three days provisions and started in a northwest direction, on foot, for the Paradise country. Think of it, five ex-soldiers of the Civl War, which had ended but a few years before, starting on a 60 or 70 mile trip in an unsettled country, except two or three families living in Twin Grove, near the present site of Sylvan Grove. The first night out we camped somewhere on the Wilson flats. On the following day we arrived at the Grove above mentioned. The little house in the grove was occupied by three families – Hutch Farley, the owner, Mr. Phelps and and family, and Mat Bliss and family. We made some inquiries of them as to where we could find claims with timber and water. They mentioned a place on East Wolf Creek near where the town of Lucas is now; we made a trip up there but found the Hubbard Boys and Dr. Cronin had taken the choice claims. We returned to the Grove, and had another conversation with Mr. Phelps, and he told us that there were some good claims on West Twin Creek. We went and looked at the claims and decided they were good enough.
"Riley and Heaton took the north half and Thos. Smales the southeast quarter of Section 26, Township 12, Range 10 West; White taking the northwest quarter of Section 2, Township 13, Range 10; Biggs took the southeast quarter of Section 34, Township 12, Range 10.
"Riley remained upon his claim until the fall of 1874 (grasshopper year). Smales upon his until 1876, White until 1879. Riley located in Ellsworth County. Smales went out west and was accidentally killed in a coal mine by falling slate. White located in the city of Ellsworth for a number of years, then moved to Topeka, Kansas, where he died seven or eight years ago. Riley died near Wilson, Kansas, about 18 years ago.
"Mr. Biggs remained upon his homestead until about seven years ago, removing to Lane County, Kansas, where he died less than a year ago. He filled the office of County Superintendent of this county for, I believe, 14 years.
"We endured all the hardships that fell to the lot of the very early settlers of this county. We had some very exciting and enjoyable times during the first two or three years hunting buffalo, elk, deer and wild turkeys. On one occasion Mr. Biggs met with an accident which came near being fatal – by being run down by a large buffalo bull, on the river bottom near where Mr. Prescott’s house stood, and near the mouth of Main Wolf Creek. Mr. Biggs was unable to walk after the encounter and I let him ride my horse home.
"The first post office in the west part of this county was established at the home of C.M. Heaton, in Feburary 1873, and in order to retain the office we were required to carry the mail to Wilson and return for the period of one year, before the government would put service on the route. The office remained at this place until sometime in 1876 when it was removed to a store near Meriman’s Mill, a short distance southwest of the city of Sylvan Grove.
"C.M. Heaton is the only one of the five now living, and he and his wife are residing in Lincoln, Kansas, where they have resided since the month of March 1885."