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.



Here is a paragraph that was of interest to the young man of fifty years ago: "At half past five o'clock on the morning of March 4, 1854, after a night session, the Kansas-Nebraska Bill passed the Senate by a vote of 37 to 14, The title of the Bill is "An Act to organize the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska.'

The winter of 1898-9 lacked only 15 days of being six months long. It began the 16th of October with a big snowstorm.

Forty years ago many of the farmers and their families went to church in carts drawn by oxen, and, strange to relate, they were seldom late for the opening of the services.

About the year 1882 the corn planter was put aside and the checkrower brought into use. A few years later, the lister and drill supplanted the checkrower.

The first steam threshing outfit appeared along about 1876, and the cumbersome horse power had to go to the iron pile. The engine of the outfit was drawn by horses. The traction engine soon drove it out of business.

Very often in the early days Indians were induced by the whites to steal horses for them. If caught, the Indians steadfastly refused to inform on their abettors, taking their punishment in silence. We find the following in the Chief, October, 1860:

"On Sunday, the 23d, three Iowa Indians crossed the river and proceeded to the vicinity of Sharp's grove, in Holt County, Mo., where they stole three fine horses, which they swam across the river and took to their village. Maj. Vanderslice, the Indian agent, getting wind of it took possession of the horses. On Wednesday a large body of men came over in pursuit of the horses and found them at the agency. The horses and three Indian thieves were given up and taken over to Holt. It is pretty well ascertained that some white men assisted or encouraged the Indians in this business, but the latter would make no revelations. The Indians were soundly thrashed and sent home the same night."

About March 12, 1862, a rebel named Fulton stopped at the house of a widow named Hays, near Troy, put his horses in the barn, fed them, and made himself at home generally. Mrs. Hays remonstrated, but Fulton paid no attention to her. She then sent word to Joe Nixon, who responded promptly. Calling Fulton out of the house, Nixon shot him, seriously wounding him.

Doniphan County apples beat all the world at the Centennial, in 1876.

In March, 1876, there was a big snow. In a cut a quarter of a mile long, above Norway, the snow was twenty-six feet deep, and trains were stopped for a week. Digging out the snow was as difficult as taking out the original dirt.

"Pole Pavey," mentioned in Twains book, was a resident of White Cloud in 1858, and piloted the "White Cloud" on the famous expedition up the Nemaha, July 4, 1858.

On Sunday night, August 16, there was an unusually gorgeous display of the aurora borealis.

T. J. Ingalls says that while making a trip up in Doniphan County, a few days ago, he heard a terrible rumbling near the Atchison and Doniphan County line. It sounded like a big eruption, or like cars crashing together. The sound travelled from east to west, and seemed to come from under the ground. Ingalls was so much interested in the phenomenon that he stopped at several houses to discuss it, and was told that the remarkable noise was common in that vicinity Ingalls has bored a great many wells and says his experience leads him to believe that there is an enormous cavern under the ground in that vicinity, and that the sound is probably caused by falling rock In boring the well at Forest Park, he says the drill went through a large cavern, and hundreds of barrels of water were pumped into it without filling it up. Casing finally had to be put down before the drilling could be continued, delaying the progress of drilling for a week.---Atchison Globe, 1905.

The three big earthquakes occurred on the following dates: September, 1865, April 27, 1867, and October 31, 1895.

A very large meteor appeared in the north eastern sky about 9 o'clock on the night of December 27, 1875. It was seen to burst into fragments, and about two minutes later a report like that of a cannon was heard over a wide area of country.

The spring of 1858 brought plenty of rain. Immense crops of corn were raised by Doniphan County farmers. Jake Bursk, near Syracuse, had more corn than he knew what to do with. He had a lot of it piled up on the prairie and sold it to the freighters out of the pile at ten cents a bushel. Mr. Bursk used to say "I'm going back to Ohio where I won't be bothered with such big crops of corn. A man will get rich too quickly out here in Kansas." The next year the crop was not so large, and the year after that, 1860, the great drouth came to burn up the country. Five years later Adam Brenner was paying $1 to $1.25 a bushel to Syracuse farmers for their corn and they did not have to deliver it, either. Immense freight wagons with four-inch tires, draw by half a dozen yoke of oxen, hauled the shelled corn from the farmer's cribs across the plains to the frontier towns. Some time later, in the early 70s corn took another tumble and was again selling at a discouragingly low price ---fifteen cents a bushel. Not until 1874-5, when the grasshoppers became the unwelcome guests of the country, did the price again advanced to a paying figure.

It would appear from the following that there was some danger incident to travel, even in the early day, through civilized lands, and that grandma and grandpa must have had considerable courage to have ventured on a trip "out West."

Summary of the steamboat disasters on the Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers during 1854:

Total steamboats sunk, 71
  "        "     burned, 23.
  "        "  destroyed by collis'n, 9.
  "        "  exploded, 10.
  "   loss of property, $2,570,000.00.
  "    "  life by these calamities, 355.

During the years 1861-2, a favorite crossing place for the Jayhawkers with stolen horses was at Bellemont, where a ferry was owned and operated by a man named O'Brien. While the Doniphan County soldiers were stationed at Elwood this boat was taken into their charge. Pat. Kirwan, who later became a lieutenant, was sent with sixteen men to take the boat down stream, that it might be in view of the camp. The boat was on the Missouri side when Kirwan and his men started, but before they had reached the Kansas landing, the boat was on its return trip to Bellemont. Kirwan and his men concealed themselves in the timber near the landing, and when the boat landed they leaped aboard and ordered the captain to "put 'er nose down stream."

The Secretary of the State Historical Society in answer to a request to prepare a historical paper has received a letter from Hon. J. P. Johnson, of Highland, in which he says that he is the person who ran the first Kansas survey line. That was the fortieth parallel line; the line separating Kansas and Nebraska surveyed in 1854, from the Missouri river to the sixth principal meridian. Associated with Mr. Johnson in making the astronomical calculations for this survey was Captain Robert E. Lee, then of the U. S. Army, afterwards of the Confederacy. Mr. Johnson has been a resident of Kansas since 1854. He is familiar with the facts of many stirring events of those early times, and it is to be hoped that he will put his recollections into writing a requested by the Historical Society.---Topeka Commonwealth, January, 1878.

On the afternoon of May 13, 1883, a small cyclone from the south west lifted the roof off the house of the old Jones nursery in Troy, then occupied by Frank Welton and did considerable damage to the trees, etc. This little twister first made its appearance in the eastern part of Wolf River township on the Lyons farm two miles south west of Moray, where it tore a door from the dwelling house, and destroyed some trees in the orchard. Passing on to the Gray farm immediately on the north, it broke the tops off some tall cottonwoods in the long row extending from the road into the field. A small willow tree some four or five inches in diameter, standing in the road was twisted around two or three times, but was not broken off. The tree is still stnding and still bears the marks of its wrestle with the wind.

The first time table on the Rock Island went into effect on Sunday, November 1, 1886.

In the fall of 1886, 27,000 barrels of apples were shipped out of the County.

Rev. James Shaw, a pioneer Methodist preacher, first located at Geary City. In 1886 he wrote an interesting book entitled "Reminiscences of a Pioneer Preacher."

One of the very first school teachers in the County was Charles Rapplye, who taught Columbus and Palermo, in 1857-8.

The first County Fair was held at the Troy Fair Grounds, in August, 1868.

The first men in the County to start in quest of a fortune to be made by threshing grain was Loyd and Sargent, about the year 1861. They did work for farmers in three townships---Wolf River, Center, and Wayne. They had a J. I. Case separator propelled by horsepower. The grain came from the machine in a small spout near one of the hind wheels, and was caught in a half bushel measure. A count of the number of bushels was kept by placing pegs in holes in the side of the machine. There was no straw-carrier for this first machine, the best natured of the "hands" being sent to carry away the straw and stack it.

John Doms, who died on his farm midway between Wathena and Troy, in Sepember, 1885, was born at Brussels, Belgium. When a boy his playground was the field of the battle of Waterloo, where he picked many relics of the famous fight. He served in the Crimea and for a portion of the time was in the employ of Lord Raglan, the British commander. After the war he travelled in many European countries as interpreter to an English officer, he having been able to converse in four different languages. He was married at St. Peter's cathedral, London. In 1872, a cyclone destroyed his house, killing his wife and leaving him with a family of five little girls who proved themselves excellent little women by helping their father keep house. One of the girls---Elizabeth---became a writer of very good verse. Selections from her writings appear in their proper place in the Authors' Chapter in this work.

A few old trading posts on the Missouri are here named: Bellemont, or Whitehead, post was established in the spring of 1852; Wathena post, established April 1852; Elwood post, established in the fall of the same year, and Doniphan post in 1853.

A pair of brass galleys originally belonging to the outfit of the Doniphan Constitutionalist was for many years preserved in the office of the Chief by Sol. Miller. Perhaps the pair is still in the office.

John Brown left Chicago for Kansas Territory, August 23, 1855, a heavily loaded wagon and reached Ossawatomie, October 6. He walked beside his wagon and shot game for food.

One of the first, if not the very first, peddlers was Pat Barlow, an eccentric character who, though lame and homely, had the happy nack of getting married occasionally. There was not a house in all the country where Pat hadn't sold a table cloth or a red handkerchief. He died in St. Joseph late in the eighties.

During the years 1873-4 the County paid a bounty of five cents for gopher scalps. Some time later a bounty of a nickel was offered for rabbit ears and many a boy made pocket money until the bounties were withdrawn.

An immense amount of lumber was manufactured at White Cloud, Lafayette, Iowa Point, Geary City, Palermo, and Doniphan, during the sixties, and some of it is still doing service.

Richard J. Gatling, inventor of the world-famous Gatling Gun, once wrote to Sol. Miller asking him to retract some-[sic]

Earl Marble was a sentimental, poetical character, and wore his hair long, flowing down over his shoulders. In the summer of 1860, during the hot political campaign of that year, one night on the occasion of some Democratic blow out, some of the young southern Chivalry of St. Joseph gave a chase to Marble and Thompson, clipping off Marble's flowing locks, and beating Thompson like a carpet. Later, Marble went East and became editorially connected with the Wayerly Magazine, about 1872.

The town of Charleston on the Missouri flourished for a time, but soon lost its vigor and feII into rapid decay. It is said that when the population dwindled to two men, these two got into a quarrel, one killing the other.

In the spring of 1863, pneumonia was very prevalent in the County, and was singularly fatal, baffling medical skill.

A slight earthquake shock was felt at White Cloud, at 8:30 on the morning of August 13, 1865.

One night in the summer of 1863, Kit Williams and Tom Osborn slept in the court house yard at Troy. Next morning when they went to hunt up the sheriff to pay for their night's "lodging" they complained to him that the windows of their "hotel" had been left open and that they had caught cold.

In 1872, the "Bob-tail" railroad was built from Wathena to Doniphan. A few years later the track was removed.

At the Columbian Fair held in Chicago in 1893, the State prize for peaches was taken by Doniphan County.

A cable has been shipped from St. Louis by the Western Union Telegraph Company to sink in the Missouri river to connect St. Joseph with Kansas.---Wathena Reporter, May 30, 1867.

This from the Atchison Press of February 15, 1867, was discouraging reading for the struggling farmers of that trying period:

"A gentleman yesterday brought into the office a bottle of young grasshoppers which he picked up on his farm in this vicinity. It appears that the few warm days of last week brought these young insects to the surface, and that the extreme cold weather of Friday and Saturday last was not severe enough to kill them. Such being the case, we shall have a much larger crop of grasshoppers the coming season than we had last summer. When the warm weather of the spring has brought this grand army to the surface, we shall be eaten up alive, unless they take wings and fly away. Farmers are much alarmed in anticipation of the appearance of this plague.

A big camp meeting for the Troy, White Cloud and Hiawatha Circuits, was held on Wolf River, near Quick's bridge, April 3 and 5, 1866.

In the middle sixties there were nineteen postoffices in the County, as follows: Columbus, Charleston, Doniphan, Elwood, Geary City, Highland, Iowa Point, Lafayette, Normanville, Mt. Vernon, Palermo, Ridge Farm, Syracuse, Walnut Grove, Troy, Wathena, White Cloud, Whitehead, and Wolf River.

In April, 1867, the County Commissoners purchased 220 acres of land for a poor farm, of Charles Richter, "about three miles from Palermo, on the Pottawatomie road." Consideration, $4,500.

"Windy Friday," December 4, 1885. Twenty-four hours steady blow.

In September, 1854, Daniel Todd and his entire family consisting of six persons were kidnapped from their home near White Cloud, and taken to Missouri where they were sold into slavery. Making escape, Todd joined the Union army. After his discharge from the army, he gathered up all of his children that he could find and returned to White Cloud, where he lived for many years afterward.

Lewis V. Fleming purchased the St. Joseph and Elwood ferry of Ebenezer Blackiston, in August, 1866, paying him $50,000. During the first half of the following month he crossed to St. Joseph over 12,000 head of cattle, mostly Texan steers.

Along in the middle seventies engines on the St. Joseph & Denver road bore the names of the stations painted in beautiful letters just under the windows of the cabs, and so familiar with the engines were many of the boys living near the road, that they could give the name of an engine merely having heard its whistle. Many a nickel and dime changed hands on bets made between youngsters, and the loser lost no time in getting better acquainted with the engines. In those days to get a nodding acquaintance with the engineer or fireman was an honor much sought for by the small boy. Many a bunch of wild grapes, and more than one hatful of plums fell into the hands of the condescending trainmen who, in passing up the steep grades, dropped a gallant salute to the girls, or tossed a nod to the boys gathered beside the the track to see the train go by.

In a railroad wreck which occurred about two miles north of Doniphan, Dec. 3, 1875, two men from Lincoln, Nebraska, were crushed to death.

The Darwin post office was discontinued in April, 1888.

May 15, 1859, a hail storm and wind did great damage in Wayne township, especially at Doniphan, where many houses were unroofed or blown down.

June 4, 1860, Harriet Newman sold to Aaron P. Quick, for $700, a fifteen-year-old negro boy named George Washington Gater. The bill of sale was acknowledged before Samuel C. Benight, deputy clerk of the Territorial District Court.

Pat Barlow, famous as a local peddler, was killed at St. Joseph by an electric car, October 6, 1893.

Father DeSmet, S. J., passed through this country travelling on foot, in 1840. He was then on his way to the North West Territory to preach the Gospel to the Indians. As he journeyed across the country following the general direction of the St. Joseph and Oregon Trail, he collected plants and wildflowers, classing and catalogizing them, for he was a Naturalist as well as a preacher.

Miss Elizabeth Turkleson, who successfully filled the position of assistant principal of the Troy High School for four years, carried off the honors at a Teachers' examination held in June, 1904, in St. Joseph, for positions in the city schools. Her average was 91 per cent. There were fifty four other applicants, and but nine of them passed. Miss Turkleson is one of the best teachers in this part of the State. She is a daughter of C. O. Turkleson, one of the very early settlers in north eastern Wolf River township.

Votes were cast in three different townships in the County at time election held March 30, 1855. Returns as follows:

Doniphan---Pro-slavery votes, 313 Wolf River, 57; Burr-Oak, 256. Doniphan---Free Soil, 30; Wolf River, 15; Burr-Oak, 2. Doniphan---Scattering, 3 Wolf River, 6; Burr-Oak, 48. Total, Doniphan, 341; Wolf River, 78; Burr-Oak, 306. Total legal, 200; illegal, 530; Number voters, 334.

Miss Eva Ryan's "Literary Women of Brown County" appeared in October 1894. Miss Ryan was a Severance girl.

The post office at Orr Station was established in January, 1894, with Luke Clem as postmaster.

A good authority states that Mary Hempstead Keeney, the second wife of Manuel Liza, was the first white woman to ascend the Missouri river, passing the green shorelands of what is now Doniphan County.

Times were hard in the spring of 1858. A saw mill was sold by a constable to pay a debt of forty dollars, and a house and lot were sold to satisfy a debt of thirty dollars. The owner of the last named property knew nothing of the legal transaction until it was over.

Wm. Kirby, of Doniphan, published his hook, "Mormonism Exposed" in July, 1893.

A Doniphan County man, Charles W. Stewart, suggested the name of St. Joseph. He also suggested naming the streets running east and west for Robidoux's children.

One of the first Fourth of July celebrations in the County was at a point on Rock Creek below the present site of Brenner, in 1859. Col. Ege was one of the speakers on the occasion; also some Mexican war soldiers made talks. Late in the day there came up a big hail. The stones were very large. They broke all the panes in the north windows, and left deep dents in the doors. Many a gay picnicer got his head thumped that evening.

In June, 1886, the Rock Island began securing abstracts of titles of land for the right of way of the road. This was the first sign of a "sure go."

April 3, 1885, lightning struck the powder magazine on Prospect Hill in St. Joseph, and exploded six thousand pounds of powder. The shock was plainly felt at Wathena and Troy, windows having been cracked at the former place, by the concussion.

The County has been visited by two very remarkable hail storms. The first came on the Fourth of July, 1857. The second came May 28, 1899, passing over the northern townships. The hail remained in heaps three to four feet deep for many days. While the first great storm was remarkable for the size of the stones that fell, the second was noted for the depth of the hail drifts.

January 13, 1899, the mercury stood at 30 degrees below zero, and there was a great deal of suffering. One year later, on the same day of the month, the mercury stood at 60 degrees above zero. There was no frost in the ground. Gophers were at work. After a few heavy rains the skies cleared up and there was a period of spring weather. There was not a particle of ice in the creeks.

The White Cloud Chief reported a plague of locusts in June, 1862. "They may be heard night and day, and are to be found on every bush. We have seen nothing like it since the days of Pharoah."

On May 17, 1857, School Districts Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 were organized.

The highest point in the County is said to be Mount Lookout, near Eagle Springs. Another elevated point is Schwab Hill, half of a mile east of Bendena.

It is now a rare sight to see a young lady working in the held with her brothers. The complexion of the girl of today would scarcely permit her to venture for any length of time beyond the barn, but it may truthfully be said of many of the old girls (of course they are married long ago) that they helped their brothers make the County out of doors, for there was no work on the farm that they would not cheerfully undertake. And what they undertook usually was done well. It was no unusual sight to see a young lady at work shocking wheat, raking hay, or even plowing corn. Of course those girls could not boast of having lily-white arms and hands, and peach blossom complexions, but they had brave hearts, healthy bodies, and clear minds; and time has proved that they had the virtues and qualities that go to make good wives, and mothers.

How many of our young men have read the old story of "Harry and the GuidePost"? How many know what a guidepost is? Thirty years ago the guidepost was the travelers' encyclopedia. It stood with its spreading arms at a cross-roads, indicating both distance and direction of the towns which, at that time, were "few and far between." "To Kennekuk, 20 miles," "To Troy, 9 miles," "To Syracuse, 3 miles," once familiar signs on the prairie, long ago have been torn down, and we venture to say that no young man of the present generation has ever seen even the remains of one of those old time friends.

Colonel Ege heard the famous debate between Webster and Hayne. He walked sixty miles to be present.

According to the following statement, our state was a lonely place half a century ago:

There is not, at this moment, August 1, 1854, a town or village in Kanzas or Nebraska---E. H. Hale in "Kanzas and Nebraska."

As late as 1857, Brown County people received their mail from the Iowa Point post office. There was an ox-team mail weekly, kept up by local contribution.

We will continue to tar and feather, drown, lynch, and hang every white-livered Abolitionist who dares to pollute our soil.---Squatters' Sovereign, August 28, 1855.

The famous "Squatters' Sovereign Association" was formed June 24, 1854, at J. B. Whitehead's, near Bellemont.