Pages 762-764, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




HARVEY SURPRISE, who is engaged in general farming in Eminence township, came to Woodson County in the spring of 1870 and purchased a claim on West Buffalo creek, where he has since made his home. His father, Peter Surprise, was born in Canada, in August, 1793, and after an active business career is still living at the remarkable age of one hundred and seven years. In 1819 he removed to the state of New York and the next year went westward to Chicago. In 1836 he removed to Lake County, Indiana, which was his place of abode for a long period. He married Rosanna Taylor, and fourteen children were born unto them, nine of whom reached years of maturity. Sarah, the oldest, is the deceased wife of Steward Stillson; Elizabeth, married a Mr. Coe and after his death, wedded a Mr. Harding; Harvey is the third of the family; Henry, Oliver and William, whose births occurred in the order mentioned, are all residents of Lake County, Ind., Lavina is the wife of Leander Vaudecai, of Woodson County; Melvina, twin sister to Lavina, is the deceased wife of William Wheeler; Armina is the wife of James Rosenbower, of Lake County, Indiana; the other members of the family died in childhood.


Harvey Surprise, was born December 25, 1835, in New York, and the following year the family removed to Lake County, Indiana, where he was reared and made his home until 1852, when he crossed the plains to California, where he engaged in prospecting, spending four years on the Pacific coast. In 1854, he started to return on the steamer "Yankee Blake" which ran on a rock off the coast about one hundred and eighty wiles south of San Francisco. With others, Mr. Surprise was picked up by a coast boat and taken back to San Francisco, after which he remained for two years longer in California in order to recuperate from his losses sustained in the wreck. Finally by ship he made his way to New York, crossing the Isthmus of Panama. After his return home he was employed as a farm hand by the month, but when he felt that the duty to his country was stronger than any other life, he put aside all business and personal considerations, enlisting August 10, 1862, as a member of Company I, Seventy-third Indiana Infantry, being mustered in at South Bend. The regiment was first ordered to Kentucky, where it received the guns and then went to Lexington. Mr. Surprise first met the enemy in this locality but the first regular engagement in which he participated was at Perryville, Kentucky and later he took part in the engagement at Murfreeboro, Tennessee. In tthe[sic] spring of 1863 his regiment started on a raid under Colonel Straight, going as far as Rome, Georgia, before captured by General Forest and his men. Mr. Surprise was parolled at Rome but was in the hands of the rebels until exchanged at City Point, Virginia. He then returned to Indiana and after a ten days' furlough aided in the capture of General Morgan in Ohio. Subsequently he guarded prisoners in Indianapolis until the fall election of 1863, when the regiment was sent to Nashville to do guard duty. The following spring they were ordered to Decatur, Alabama, where they were engaged in fighting bushwackers. On the 8th of July, 1865. Mr. Surprise received an honorable discharge at Indianapolis.

Through the summer he followed farming in Indiana and in the fall of that year came to Kansas, locating in Coffey county, where he resided until the spring of 1870, when he removed to Woodson County. He owns land in sections twenty-eight, twenty-six and thirty-five, Eminence township and a tract in Belmont township, the whole aggregating two hundred and eighty acres. His farming interests are well conducted and his labors bring to him a good financial return.

Mr. Surprise has been twice married. On the 6th of March, 1859, he was joined in wedlock to Miss Juliet Burch, who died in 1874, leaving the following children: Rose, now the wife of John Homan, of South Omaha, Nebraska; Henry, of Woodson County, and Peter, of Oklahoma. On the 3d of February, 1875, Mr. Surprise was again married, his second union being with Mary Chapell, a daughter of Miranda (Read) Chapell by her first marriage, who came to Kansas from Otsego County, New York, in the spring of 1870 and here spent her remaining


days. The children of Wm. Chapell were: George, of Neosho County, Kansas; Dwight, who is also living in that county; Charles, of Q, Oklahoma, and Nellie, wife of Joseph Rininger. The father of this family was born in Chenango County, New York, September 26, 1813, and his wife in Brookfield, that state, July 1, 1824. Both have now passed away. The children of the second marriage of Mr. Surprise are: Anna, wife of Osro Easley, of Rest, Kansas; Nellie, wife of George Reagon, of Woodson County; Moses N., Lovisa, Lillie P. and Juliet, who are with their parents.

Mr. Surprise was reared in the faith of the Whig party of which his father was a supporter and on attaining his majority he became a Republican and has never wavered in his allegiance to the party or to any cause which he believes to be right and just, displaying the same fidelity which he manifested when he fought in defense of the Union on the battle fields of the South. Woodson County gained a valuable citizen when he cast in his lot wth her residents and throughout the community his worth is indicated by the high regard in which he is held.

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