In the northeast part of Benton Township, in a comfortable farm home on section 11, range 18, there resides the oldest pioneer settler of that section of the county, the review of whose career takes one back to the days of the Civil War when he shouldered a musket in defense of the Union, and to the early days of Kansas history when the long freight trains hauled by oxen and mules were leaving Atchison for the far West. We are reminded of the Indian troubles which beset the hardy freighters as they convoyed their treasures across the wide reaches of prairie and mountain. In all these Orlando C. Scoville, Union veteran, old-time freighter, and pioneer farmer, participated, and it is meet that the story of his life and adventurous career be recorded for the entertainment of succeeding generations of men and women in order that they might know how a wilderness was redeemed and what manner of men their forefathers were and whence they came.

Orlando C. Scoville was born February 4, 1846, in Cook County, Illinois, on a farm located just twenty-two miles from the city of Chicago. His father was William Scoville, born in 1820, at Watertown, N.Y., a son of Abijah Scoville, a native of Connecticut, and a scion of an old New England family. Abijah Scoville was a carpenter by trade and his art was transmitted to his descendants. William Scoville, received a good education in his native state, and taught school in New York, when a young man seventeen years old. As early as 1842 he came west, to Cook County, Illinois, and owned a farm in that county which he cultivated until 1865 when he came to Atchison, Kan., where he first engaged in the handling of live stock. Later he was in the lumber business with a Mr. McCOY, who later sold out to Henry T. SMITH, and he and Smith conducted a wagon and lumber business on Utah Avenue, just east of the old Episcopal Church, between Fourth and Fifth Streets. William eventually sold out his business and moved to a farm in Benton township, south of where his son, O. C., lives and there died in December, 1891. Previous to removing to his farm he was foreman of the Hixon Lumber Company's interest in Atchison. The mother of Orlando C. was Lucinda LASHER, whom William Scoville married in New York, and who removed to Arrington after her husband's death, and there died in November, 1893, at the age of seventy-five years. William and Lucinda Scoville were the parents of seven children, two of whom died in infancy: Imogene, wife of A. W. MULLIGAN, of Blue Rapids, Kan. Orlando C.; Eulalie, died in Atchison in 1866, and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery; Freeman, a railroad engineer for many years, and who died at Arrington, in 1911; Giles, a successful law practitioner, located in Chicago, and who studied law under the late Senator John J. INGALLS.

O. C. Scoville was reared to young manhood on the farm in Cook County, Illinois, and when eighteen years of age enlisted (1864) in Company B, One Hundred and Thirty-second Regiment, Illinois Infantry. He served for six months in the Army of the Tennessee, under General Thomas, and took part in the several hard-fought battles, among them being the battle and siege of Atlanta. His command started on the march with Sherman, to the sea, but were turned back by department orders. After his war service expired he came to Atchison and joined the family. His first occupation in Atchison was the operating of a wagon shop, just across the street from the Blair Mill, and it is a matter of history that his shop was used as the first depot of the Central Branch Railroad, then building. He ran the wagon shop for two years and then made two trips across the continent in the capacity of freighters and convoying a herd of cattle. In 1867 he was one of the freighters in charge of the first train sent over the Smoky Hill route for Butterfield to Denver. The live stock was run off by the Indians during this trip, and Butterfield came out and found them after four weeks' search; his next trip was to Salt Lake City. In 1868, he with others, drove a herd of milch cows which had been sold by McCoy to a man named MURRAY and consigned to him in California. This trip required eighteen months to consummate, and they were forced to winter in the Antelope valley on Walker River. After taking the cattle to their destination he returned across the mountains to Reno, Nev., and there boarded the train for the rest of the journey home, Reno at that time being the western terminus of the railway. During 1869 he worked for one year in the engineering corps of the Santa Fe railroad, and in that winter his father bought his present farm in Benton township. In the fall of 1872 he moved to the farm where he has resided continuously for the past forty-three years. In 1893 he bought the farm formerly owned by the family and has increased his acreage until he and his son are the owners of 400 acres of land, the latter owning 180 acres, upon which formerly stood three sets of farm buildings, one of which was destroyed by fire in April, 1915. His present residence was erected in 1893.

Mr. Scoville was married in Atchison May 8, 1873, to Virginia WILLIAMS, born in Greenbrier County, Virginia, in 1854, and a daughter of Alexander Williams. Her father died when she was very young and she came with her mother and stepfather to Missouri in the early pioneer days when her mother died and she was adopted by Mrs. MILLER, a music teacher, of Atchison, Kan. Three children were born to this union, namely: Katie died in infancy; William C., born August 10, 1875, married Myrtle LOLLAR, and has two children, Earl, born December 13, 1911, and Alice, born May 16, 1914. William C. is the only living son of Orlando C. Scoville. Mrs. Scoville died in October, 1913.

This sturdy pioneer has been a Republican ever since he cast his first vote, and is one of the true blue variety who prides himself on being a "stand-patter," who believes thoroughly in the principles of his party and will never desert the standard of Republicanism. He has never held office and has never been a seeker after political preferment; has never been a party to a law suit, never served on a jury, and has been called only once in his lifetime to the witness stand. He has endeavored at all times to live a peace with all mankind and has succeeded t such an extent that at a ripe old age, this pioneer settler of Atchison County is living in peace and comfort in the home which he created out of a wilderness.

Mr. Scoville cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln in St. Louis, in 1964.

Taken From:

History of Atchison County, Kansas

by Sheffield Ingalls - 1916

Submitted by:

Clemi Higley Blackburn, September 2003