Old Settlers' Association

Speech by
J. M. Smyth
Printed in
The Eureka Herald
September 6, 1906

So much has been said in former addresses by former historians about the early settlement of this county that I have been at a loss to find material on that line for this address. This is a semi-centennial year for the early settlement of this county. Mr. Tucker, in an address delivered July 4, 1876, speaks of the Mississippi Colony, which settled in Lane township in 1856, but, I am sorry to say, gave no names or particulars.

This colony came from Tishmingo county, Mississippi, in 1856 and from Mr. Isaac T. Ozburn, who as a young man came with his father and family as one of this colony. I got the names of most if not all of them. They were Samuel McKeg and son, John, who was a man of family. John and Thomas McDaniel, who were sons-in-law of Samuel McKeg and their families, and Allen Thompson, who was well known in Salt Springs Township for several years later. Also Henry Ozburn and a large family of boys and girls, and Henry Allen and W.T. Yowe.

Henry Ozburn, who spelled his name different from the Indiana family, who came to the same locality in April, 1857, was a man of pleasing manner and hospitable disposition. He had, as I remember, six sons and four daughters, and in 1859, when my father located in the neighborhood, the Ozburn home was the center of society for the young people. His house was built in the edge of the timer, and a fine shell bark hickory grove near the house, was a fine place for camp meetings and gatherings of this kind, and I can well remember the ox teams and old-fashioned Pennsylvania wagon beds used to see in this beautiful grove at these camp meetings. Mark Robinson, a celebrated Methodist elder, used to conduct these meetings. He at one of these meetings scored the young people for attending the country dance, or Hoe Down, as they were called, and said to them in his Sunday sermon, "I have a daughter and I would rather see her step four feet and woddle like a bear than be caught in the ball room."

Another character of that Mississippi colony was Allen Thompson. He was a very bitter pro-slavery man and in the spring of 1857 two young men from Licking county, Ohio, David T. Nichols and John F. Slough, located in that neighborhood, greatly to the annoyance of Allen Thompson; and as Nichols was crossing the river one morning, Thompson went at him with a heavy hoe and Nichols barely escaped with his life. Nichols and Slough were what was then termed, black abolitionists. Slough died during the war in the army. Politics was at a fever heat among those times. The celebrated Clark murder case was an outgrowth of politics. Robert Clark was an Irishman and settled on the south bank of the Verdigris, south of this colony. Joseph W. Petty, a hot-headed southerner, settled with his brother-in-law, John Estep, on Walnut creek about five miles southwest of Clark's place (most writers give this man's name as G.W. or George Washington Petty; he is usually referred to as "Wash" Petty). In the fall of 1860 at the election Clark was a strong Lincoln man and Petty a Breckinridge Democrat. On election day, Clark raised a flag on or by the little school house at a place called Legoda, near Clark's place, and Petty and some others tried to tear it down, Clark's Irish blood was up in a minute and he objected in a very vigorous fashion to the flag being disturbed. Clark and Petty had some very vigorous and angry words over the matter, but as I remember it, the flag continued to float. This quarrel made these men bitter enemies. Shortly after this Clark joint a Kansas regiment and went to the front to fight for his country. Clark before going to the army had filed on his claim where he left his wife and small children in this log cabin; and when his filing ran out, Petty became aware of it and went to Humboldt and file on it himself. After a bitter fight, the Government gave the soldier the benefit and Petty lost, and Clark saved his home.

Petty soon after left the country, joined the Confederate army, and was seen no more in the country until he appeared on horseback on day in 1867, deliberately rode up to the door and shot Robert Clark dead, then as rapidly rode away and was seen no mote until he was arrested eleven years afterward by Sheriff Claycomb in Texas, brought back, convicted and sent to the penitentiary for life and pardoned by Governor Glick. I have always looked upon this dastardly murder as an illustration of the intense hatred and bitter feeling engendered in that horrible conflict of ideas and arms. Clark and his noble wife were kind-hearted and intensely patriotic people. Joseph W. Petty was and ultra pro-slavery southern sympathizer and permitted his intense prejudices to dwarf his judgment and better sensibilities. Otherwise, Petty was apparently a jovial, good-hearted fellow. His wife was a most estimable woman. She died during the war and was buried in the Kellogg cemetery on the east bank of the Verdigris river.

Robert Brazel was another good-hearted Southerner who settled on the Verdigris at the mouth of Coal creek. His oldest son. W.W. Brazel, was the sheriff of the county in territorial days, and one son died in the army during the war.

I have referred especially to these persons because they constitute a small but almost forgotten niche in our early history, not so far as I know before referred to. I could dwell longer and give many more names of the pioneers but I must make this story too long. I will now devote a little space to what might term the Necrology of the Association. I have examined a list of old settlers prepared at the organization of the association, and find so far as my knowledge goes the following names of persons who died since that time. I give them by townships:

Bachelor Township - Harrison J. Willis

Eureka City - James Kenner, Henry T. Kenner, Samuel A. Martin and wife, Dr. C.A. Wakefield, Dr. J.B. Pierce, J.S. Stewart, Ben Smith and wife, Jeffrey B. Clogston, Mrs. Esther Nye, Mrs. Emily Phenis, and George E. Thrall

Fall River Township - C.A. Yates, Jenks Smethers, John Branham, and W.L. Richardson

Lane Township - Andrew Osborn, George Long, F.G. Allis, Asa Knowles and wife, W.E. Nixon and wife, Nancy Nixon, David Roche and son Thomas Roche, George Dame, T.J. McConneaughey, and Addison Klininsmith

Janesville Township - A.C. Jennings, J.E. Criswell, C.L. Worley, C.D. Bartlett, William J. Wiggins, Joel Klinginsmith, S.C. Levering, and Major A.W. Scott and wife

Madison Township - William Wasson, J.D. James, Stewart Martindale, W.S. Bitler, L.J. Cunkle, George O. Lovett, Harry Davis, Jerry Kelly, and W.R. Kelly

Otter Creek Township - V.S. Rader, Nelson Brigham, G.B. Crail, and M. Lynch

Pleasant Grove Township - Thomas Carlyle, Samuel Hayes, W.C. Wasson, and Nathan Baker

Quincy Township - J.Z.T. Watts, Levi Kinsel, E.N. Turney, J.H. Jones, T.H. Gilroy, Mrs. Margaret Gilmore, Jessie I. Carter, Orvilla Roberts, Tilghman Conner and wife

Salem Township - W.A. Spain, D.M. Turney and wife

South Salem Township - Henry Barrier, Mr. Swing, Mrs. A.W. Barrier, and James Stewart

Spring Creek Township - H.S. Shepard and wife, and Ozias Benedict

Salt Spring Township - Michael Sword, F.M. Wormington, B.F. Humphrey, Robert Morton, W.Q. Wickersham, and John D. Short

Twin Groves Township - Elling Ellingson

Most of these names are familiar to all of us. They have filled their places, and most of them, if not all, have been honored and respected citizens. It is sad to think that rapidly how rapidly they go, but humanity had been benefited by their living. The last to go was Mrs. Emily Phenis, whom we laid to rest the 10th day of August, 1906. She was endowed with superb intelligence, beautiful sublimity of character, and all the Christian graces; she was truly a noble woman.

The progress made in the last 50 years has been very marked. From the ox team and the wooden ox wagon to the palace car and automobile, from bull tongue and diamond plow to the gang and three-row cultivator. At that time a single country post office supplied the entire county, now every man's mail is delivered at his door every day by the rural free delivery system, and he can gossip with his neighbors all over the country be telephone. From the log cabin dirt of puncheon floor school house to the fine system of common schools, high schools, and academies; verily the old settler has enjoyed a transformation almost past comprehension, and year the end is not here. Let us rejoice and be glad for the work of the old settler has not been in vain.

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since 19 February 1997.

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