Transcribed from:
Gray's Doniphan County history: A record of the happenings of half a hundred years. By P. L. (Patrick Leopoldo) Gray. Bendena, Kan.: The Roycroft Press, 1905. 3p. l. [11]-84, 166, [2] p. front., plates, ports. 24 cm.



During the latter sixties, Dori Thornton, Alex Brown, and John Etherton were popular violin players at dances given in eastern Iowa township.

The population of the County in 1860 was 8,080, and for nearly five years during the war, there was no increase in the number of new settlers. But there were plenty of boys and girls born during that period.

Wm. V. Gordon, who for many years was a farmer near White Cloud, had some exciting experiences in the Indian Territory and the West, in the years 1867-8-9, when the Indians were so troublesome. He was with General Custer in the famous battle of the Washita, which took place on the morning of November 27, 1868, and in which 103 Indians, including the great chief Black Kettle, and 21 whites were killed. About the same time he was in a five days' fight with the Indians along the Cimarron river, and was one of the five men who fought 200 redskins in the Sand Hills south of the Canadian river in the Indian Territory.

Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling, inventor of the world famous Gatling Gun, was for some time a resident of White Cloud where, in 1857, he became president of the town company. D. W. Wilder in a speech made at the quarter-centennial at Topeka, in 1886, stated that Gatling matured his invention in Doniphan County. In the Scientific American, March 2, 1872, we find the following:

"The inventor of this wonderful arm is Dr. Richard J. Gatling, at the time of its discovery a resident of the city of Indianapolis, in the state of Indiana, but now of Hartford, Connecticut. He first conceived the idea of a machine gun in 1861, and is justly proud of the distinction of being the originator of the first successful weapon of the kind ever invented. His first "battery" or gun was completed in that city (Indianapolis) in the early part of the year 1862, and his first American patent bears date November 4th of the same year."

In the early days, peculiar but appropriate names were given to the forks of Murray's branch, a tributary to Independence creek having its source in the neighborhood of Prairie Grove, now the site of Bendena. The west fork of the branch was called "Girl's creek" on account of there having been born so many members of the female sex in that locality, while the west branch was aptly named "Boy's creek", because the place was fairly alive with lusty youngsters from the father's side of the house. There used to be some jolly, old time sport in the winter when the representatives of the two creeks met at the fork. In day time it was skating down the frozen tide; at night, heel and toe were merry with the dance which lasted until the fiddler fainted from exhaustion, or the bow was broken in desperation.

Although the winters of the sixties were rather cold, overcoats were not then in general use. Many of the pioneers wore blankets. One old man in particular attracted attention to his blanket by telling wonderful stories concerning it. The blanket was old and full of holes, and it was hinted at in the stories that the holes had been made by the arrows of the Indians; but the stories were not often credited. The owner of this wonderful wrap said and did many ridiculous things, but the most ridiculous thing he is said to have done was to trade his ox-team for a barrel of whiskey.

During the publication of the St. Joseph Democrat, when things were pretty hot (on account of the rescue from jail of Dr. Doy) Dr. E. H. Grant left the country for safety, leaving his wife to edit the paper. At the time there was a hot discussion of local politics going on between the "Democrat" and the "West," which was edited by E. Y. Shields. He acknowledged that he could not hold controversy with a woman, declaring that if any man would assume the responsibility of Mrs. Grant's editorials, he would attend to his case. Joseph Thompson, one of the three editors of the Geary City Era, of 1851, a brother of Mrs. Grant's, offered to meet Shields. Shields promptly challenged Thompson to fight a duel. They met at Elwood, but their difficulties were settled without bloodshed.

As late as 1873, deer were found on head waters of Wolf River.

During the winter of 1872-3 the epizootic plague attacked the horses.

On the afternoon of July 4, 1873, a terrible gale struck the Missouri River at St. Joseph, destroying the steamer "Mountaineer", driving it against one of the piers of the bridge which it demolished. Considerable damage was done on both sides.

Here is a paragraph from a Savannah, Mo., newspaper of date December 1857, concerning Charleston:

"This thriving village over the river has now a city government in full blast. The Board of Trustees is composed of Judge Byrd, Mayor; Chas. B. Hamilton, Josiah VanBuskirk, John B. Brady, and Charles B. Byrd, Trustees, and Rev. Alward, clerk. Business is opening widely for the winter, and coal banks in the neighborhood are being worked by Welch miners. We understand that coal can be delivered in this place from the Charleston mines when the river closes, for 25 cents a bushel. Who will not use grates then?

Corn was so cheap in 1873, that it was extremely used for fuel. "And the next year the grasshoppers came."

In August, 1872, an engine and four or five box cars were thrown from the track about a mile below Norway. Some malicious person had placed a spike on the track.

Agricultural statistics of the County for 1871:

Bushels of wheat, 259,764.
  "     "  rye, 4,666
  "     "  barley, 71,685.
  "     "  corn, 1,290,666.
  "     "  buck wh., 723.
  "     "  oats, 171,485.
Gallons wine, 26,296.
  "     sorghum, 13,185.
Pounds hemp, 921,222.

A woman named Goll living on Welsh's branch had an exciting battle with wolves one day early in the sixties. A pack of these hungry animals came up from Wolf River and attempted to get away with a green cow hide at the lady's door. They were making away with it when overtaken by Mrs. Goll, who caught hold of it and pulled it away from them, but not until there had been an exciting struggle.

This interesting advertisement is from the Chief, June 4, 1863:

WANTED - Two modest young "Jayhawkers" who have no dear ones at home to cheer them with a kindly word, earnestly desire to correspond with as many fair maidens; and to this end would respectfully petition to the pretty girls of Brown and Doniphan Counties, hoping to find some willing to cheer them with a friendly line. All communications to be strictly confidential. Address

Harry Walcome,
or Tom Channing, Co. C., 7th Kans. Vols., Corinth, Miss., June 4, 1863. via Memphis.

A correspondent of the St. Louis Republican, writing from Elwood, K. T., in August, 1857, says:

"A man who lives on his claim near the edge of this city is, perhaps, the oldest man in America. He is Mr. James O'Toole. He was born in the county of Donegal, in the north of Ireland somewhere about the year 1730. He was an old man in the Irish rebellion, in 1798, when, becoming implicated with Lord Fitzgerald, he fled his country to seek freedom in our young republic. He moved to St. Louis thirty years ago and established the first brewery there. He moved to the Platte Purchase in 1838, and lived in Buchanan County, near Bloomington, until two years ago, when he came to Kansas and made a pre-emption, and he can now walk eight or ten miles with ease. He says his age is about 125 years.

Queer paragraphs from the old papers of the East, about Kansas and the West:

Wanted. --One hundred able bodied lawyers are wanted to break prairie lands, split rails and chop wood in the new West. - Philadelphia Post, 1855.

Inscription found on the head board of a grave on the Oregon Trail;

Mr. J--- H--- was carried away
By the diarrhea and cholera.

A Mr. Thompson, of Kansas Territory, has, it is said, just completed a prairie ship, or wagon, to be propelled by the wind, in which he proposes, with thirty companions, to make a voyage to the Rocky Mountains next June. - Saturday Evening Post, September 22, 1855.

A letter addressed to "Bleeding Kansas" was received at the St. Louis post, office on September 11, 1857. It had been mailed at St. Joseph. The following endorsements had been written upon it:
"Lawrence refuses to receive it."
"Must be Lawrence."
"No sir, Kansas has pretty much stopped bleeding."
"Take the hide off and salt it well."
"Pass it around; we don't want it here send it where it bleeds."
"I don't see any place to direct,"
"Send it to Lawrence, for old Jim Lane will be there in a few days."
"Try it over at Iowa Point."
"Donipban's been bleeding."
"Doniphan: Keep this up there for God's sake, for there's more blood lost there than anywhere else."
"Doniphan don't bleed; try it at Utah."
"No such place in Kansas, for it has been all ever the Territory. Let it travel in Missouri awhile."

Up to about 1870 there existed a prejudice against the use of kerosene lamps, for many a warning against them had appeared in the newspapers. Gradually the candle and the tallow dip disappeared, and the lamp with its bowl interiorly decorated with strips of bright calico floating in the oil, began to reflect its warm smile over the household. A few years later all the old fireplaces were built in, boot-jacks were banished to the woodshed, carpets were laid on the floors and the people began to enjoy the risky delights of civilization.

We quote a few paragraphs from a chapter in Redpath's book, on "What to take to Kansas," published in 1859:

"The Missouri water is muddy, and has a laxative effect. It almost invariably produces diarrhea. A bottle of claret wine, or a small flask of good brandy is recommended for "medical purposes" to persons who have never previously travelled on this river. Notwithstanding its filthy and dusty appearance, however there is not in the Union, it is claimed, more healthy water than that of Missouri. - Advice VII.

Before leaving St. Louis, as the voyage is apt to be somewhat tedious, especially if the steamer runs aground, you had better buy one or two pleasant books to peruse on the way. - Advice VIII.

Children under fourteen are charged. half price; under four, free. - Advice XI.

Colt's eight-inch and six-inch pistols are the only side arms worth carrying. Sharpe's carbine is not of much use, but his target rifle is a splendid weapon. Bowie knives are for ruffians only. Each squatter should own a shot gun. - Advice XV.

Let your trunk, if you have one to buy, be of a moderate size, and of the strongest make. Test it by throwing it from the top of a three story building; if picked up uninjured, it will do to take to Kansas. Not otherwise. - Advice XVI.

There are in Leavenworth 114 lawyers and judges. - Churchman, April 5, 1860.

Balls of ice weighing over one pound each, fell in a recent storm in the Kenosha valley, Kansas. --- Churchman, May 24, 1860.

In August 1860, a short time after the closing performance of a show at Troy, it was discovered that, three or four good horses that had been hitched to the rack at the public square had been stolen. Half a dozen citizens of the town and country went immediately in pursuit of the thieves. One of the horses was recovered, but the thieves were not discovered for some time. At last, however, they were found hiding in the south western corner of Missouri. They were brought back to Troy fastened together with chains. The men had their trial, were found guilty and sent to the penitentiary for ten years.

The widow of Osawatomie Brown has received $30,000 from her colored sympathizers, in Hayti. ---Churchman, June 14, 1800.

Here is a brief ghost story for your consideration. It happened near Troy, in March, 1881:

"A man was on his death bed when suddenly a strange looking animal appeared in the room, having some what the appearance of a dog, with long, black hair all over it. Four or five persons were in the room and saw it. Then it suddenly disappeared, no one could tell how or where, as the door was closed, and it could not be found anywhere."

There are 164 bridges in the County as follows: 117 iron, 33 trestles, 13 combination, and one built on stone abutments. Seven iron bridges rest on iron tubes, 16 on iron columns and the remainder on oak and red cedar piling. These bridges with their approaches average about 60 feet of flooring which would make about one and three fourth miles of floor. There are seven county bridges on the Brown county line; four are iron and three are trestle. There are four bridges on the Atchison county line, one iron and three combinations.

During the winter of 1865-6, cholera claimed about 14,000 hogs.

The good, old fashioned turkey shooting match has become a thing of the past. In the early days all the towns were enlivened about Thanksgiving and Christmas by the holding of shooting matches in which great and universal interest was taken. Some way or other the old fashioned man with the long hair and the red whiskers used to win the lion's share of the turkeys with his Kentucky squirrel rifle, while owners of modern arms used often return home empty handed and discouraged. In later years resort to the use of cards and dice robbed these meetings of all fun and romance, for the imp of luck usurped the place of the god of skill.

In the Lewis and Clark's journal of the Missouri exploration in 1804, there is evidence that this section of the country was inhabited by white men at least ninety five years ago. Their journal states that two miles after pasing Monter's creek, they passed "some cabins" on the south side of the river. This place is about where the old town of Lafayette was located, and where Levi Kunkle now lives. Paul Allen, the writer of Lewis and Clark's reports, says that one of the party had wintered at one of these cabins two years before, which would be ninety-five years ago. But these cabins had been occupied by traders and trappers, some time before, no one knows how long, but probably 160 years ago. The number of cabins is not given in Allen's reports. The white people who made their homes along the Missouri river in those days were hunters and traders and were usually French. They dealt in the things that were most in demand among the Indians, including always a plentiful supply of whiskey which they obtained in exchange for robes and furs, which were sent down the river to St. Louis. - Scrap Book

In our rounds we discovered an old barley fork that saw service thirty years ago. It is quite a curiosity now in this country where little or no barley is sown. During the early seventies barley was extensively raised in this County, and although there was much work with it, its raising paid the farmer well. Rain on it spoiled its color and decreased its market value. Good, bright barley brought from seventy-five cents to a dollar and a quarter a bushel until late in the seventies. The older men of the County need no description of the barley fork; neither will it be necessary to remind them that the work of harvesting, stacking and threshing the barley was laborions and disagreeable, for no man who has ever had a barley beard down the back of his neck, or in his eye, will ever forget what the barley harvest meant. But the young folks may be interested in a description of the fork. It was made almost entirely of wood. There were four prongs three feet in length, bent slightly upward. There was also a brace of wire just above the place where the handle was joined to the head, to hold the loose straws when the fork was raised to the wagon, for the prongs, instead of entering the straw after the manner of the pitch fork, passed under it, as a shovel passes under the loose dirt. It was scarcely any heavier than an ordinary pitch fork, but was very awkward in the hands of one unused to it.

A few of the early settlers on the high prairies surrounded their first forty acres by ditches dug five feet deep, and from six to seven feet wide. It required aun immense amount of labor, but the pioneer was poor and lumber very dear.

We believe that the grasshoppers have actually commenced their flight. Every day for a week past; especially in the afternoons, by taking a survey of the air, in the direction of the sun, myriads of grasshoppers could he seen, making their way steadily toward the north east. They flew so high, that they could not be seen by the naked eye, except on a range between the eye and the sun; and they could be seen, as high as sight could penetrate, appearing like silver particles in the atmosphere, as thickly as flakes in the heaviest snow-storm. By going so high they must travel all day without resting. Judging from the speed with which they move, the six miles a day theory is thrown far in the background. They could make 50 or 75 miles a day easily. Persons have seen them leave this neighborhood in immense numbers.

The grasshoppers have totally destroyed many fields of oats and spring wheat in this part of the country, while others they have hardly touched. Corn will not suffer so disastrously, if the destroyers leave speedily; however there are very many that are not yet able to fly. We pity the country where the pests next make a halt. - Chief, July 4, 1867.

The Shreve family at White Cloud at one time owned a letter written to Grandfather Israel Shreve by President George Washington, 1794. A formerly of Troy man, W. D, Webb, owned a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, and there is now in the private papers of Major Daniel Vanderslice, a letter written to the Major by Charles Carroll, of Carrollton.

Early in the days of the war of the Rebellion the citizens of this County lived in perpetual dread lest the Missouri "Bushwhackers" should come over the river and murder them, while the people of Buchanan county slept with one eye open to watch the Kansas "Jayhawkers" who were expected every night to kill and rob them of their goods. Time has proved that, there were good and bad men on both sides of the river.

Mr. E. D McClellan, who visited us yesterday, says there is now at Miller's farm, four miles this side of Troy, a boy who claims his name is Miller, and that he was taken from St. Joseph when about three years of age, or at least he was told so by the chief of the Commanches, with whom he had been staying, and who is a white man named Scott. Scott says he robbed a bank in this city at an early day - probably refrring[sic] to the roobbery[sic] of Joseph Robidoux Sr., twenty-eight years ago by three men named Scott, Brown, and Davis. The boy is apparently twenty years old. He says he left the Indians in New Mexico about eight weeks ago, and made his way to New Orleans, and then came to this place to hunt his relatives, whom, he was told by Scott, he would find here. He is about six feet tall; appears intelligent; speaks the language distinctly but imperfectly; seems to know little of the white man's ways; and has a limited vocabulary. He has peculiar marks on his hands and feet, that would enable his parents to recognize him. His relatives have not yet been found. He says three girls were taken by the Indians at the same time he was taken, and returned with him to St. Joseph. They are nearly his own age and speak only the Indian language. He thinks they are now at the home of their uncle in this city. He says he has been all over the West, and that Scott is an influential Indian chief. - St. Joseph Gazette, October, 1870.

Early hay story: Along in the sixties, the grass in the Wolf River bottoms often grew to a great height. Old timers say that it grew "tall as willow trees," and again, "tall as a man's head on horse back."