Scraps of Local History Picked Up Here and There

by George J. Remsburg.

The Kansas Historical Quarterly, published by the Kansas State Historical society, in its last issue began a series of articles on the "Pike's Peak Express Company, organized by William H. Russell, John S. Jones and others, in 1859-60, during the Pike's Peak gold rush, and which is described as "one of the most noted transportation companies ever to serve the Rocky Mountains." The authors of these articles are George A. Root and Russell K. Hickman of the staff of the Historical society.


The act to organize Platte and Buchanan Counties, Mo., was approved 106 years ago on December 31. The Falls of Platte, opposite Fort Leavenworth, was designated as the temporary seat of Justice for the forthcoming organization.


Recalls Rabies Case.

Some time ago the Times made a poll of 16 Leavenworth physicians and surgeons regarding cases of rabies or hydrophobia in the city, and published an article on the subject. It showed that from the experience and observation of these doctors the majority of them had no record of an actual case of the dreaded malady here. That was before the passing of the late Elmer E. "Chick" Jordon from the affliction. I have a record of the case of Green Todd, the first sheriff of Leavenworth county, who died in this city from rabies. Todd was appointed to the office of sheriff in 1855. He was a Kentuckian, born in 1820, came to Platte county with the noted Todd family, at the opening of the Platte Purchase and to Kansas with the opening of the Territory in 1854. He resigned as sheriff after about a year because of his inability to collect taxes on account of disturbed conditions.


Passing of a Pioneer.

Mrs. Della Iles, of Everest, Brown county, who died recently at the age of 85 years was born in Leavenworth, March 11, 1859, a daughter of George and Virginia Pierce, pioneers of this city. The family later moved to Brown County, where Mr. Pierce engaged in farming. The railroad station of Pierce Junction, where the Missouri Pacific and Rock Island railroads cross each other, was established on his farm and was named for him. Mr. Pierce was born in 1829 in Sangamon County, Ill., the old home of Abraham Lincoln. He came to Kansas in 1857, and settled in Leavenworth, where the daughter alluded to above was born two years later. In 1877, she mrried Robert Iles, who passed away several years ago. Mrs. Iles was a member of the Methodist church. Her father, George Pierce, almost neglected to state, was a veteran of both the Mexican and Civil Wars.


First White School.

In looking through my effects recently I came across an old clipping pertaining to what was claimed to be the first school for white children in Kansas. The name of the paper in which it appeared and date are not given, but evidently, from other material with which it was associated in my files, it dates back to the '90s or early 1900s. It reads as follows:

"A painting of the oldest country school house in Kansas was on exhibition at the recent State Teachers' association. It represented a log structure, appearing to be about 20x30 feet in size, situated near where Fort Leavenworth now stands. The school was taught by V. K. Stanley in the spring of 1856. There was a building in Wyandotte county in 1847, but it was for Indian children; but this is the first building for white children in the state. Mr. Stanley is now a member of the school board and a real estate dealer in Wichita. The picture was painted by his wife."

This school house was located near Springdale and in reality was an abandoned settler's cabin. It was a regularly organized school, and was opened with Vierling K. Stanley as teacher, in Mary, 1856. While it may have been the first country school for white children in Leavenworth county it was not the first white school in Kansas. Lawrence has such a school in January, 1855, taught by Edward P. Fitch, in the back office of Dr. Charles Robinson, in the Emigrant Aid building. Fitch was afterwards killed in the Quantrill raid.


San Pasqual Massacre.

December 6 was the 98th anniversary of the battle of San Pasqual, Calif., during the Mexican War. In some respects, this engagement was similar to Custer's "last stand," except not on so large a scale. A troop of the First United States Dragoons, commanded by Capt. Benjamin D. Moore and his lieutenant, Thomas C. Hammond, was surprised by the Mexicans d massacred almost to a man. Prior to the Mexican War, Capt. Moore and Lt. Hammond who were stationed with the First Dragoons at Fort Leavenworth, and both of them married daughters of Judge Matthew M. Hughes, of Platte county, Mo. Their bodies were never recovered by their Platte county relatives, but a monument to their memory stands in the Platte City cemetery. A monument also marks Capt. Moore and Lt. Hammond died heroically. Capt. Moore fought a hand-to-hand duel with Gen. Pico, commander of the Mexican troops, but his sword snapped at the hilt, and as he was about to draw his revolver, a near-by Mexican plunged a lance into his heart. The historic Fort Moore, now known as Fort Moore Hill, in Los Angeles was named for him.


December Events.

The first Missouri river bridge at Leavenworth, was completed December 2, 1871, and in December, 1892, ground was broken for the new steel bridge.

--On Dec. 16, 1870, Simon P. Yocom, early ferry operator at Leavenworth, died.

--In December, 1854, Gen. Lucien J. Eastin having acquired the Kansas Herald, of Leavenworth, continued to issue it as a Pro-slavery paper. The next spring Judge Mark W. Delahay purchased the equipment and started the Free State Register.

--Dec. 18, 1856, Capt. W. S. Murphy, who with Simeon Scruggs, established the pioneer saw mill in Leavenworth that sawed the lumber from which the town was built, died at Weston.

--In December, 1857, Leavenworth had 4,000 inhabitants. Lots sold at fabulous prices.

--The Planters House was open for business.

--Dec. 1, 1856, the town of Quindaro was founded by Governor Charles Robinson and others.

--In December, 1856, the Missouri river had been frozen for a month and it was extremely cold.

--Dec. 2, 1859, the mercury was 31 degrees below zero.

--William H. Hunt, a former sheriff and collector of Platte county, Mo., moved to Leavenworth, Dec. 1, 1884.

--In December, 1891, a Keeley Institute was established in Leavenworth and many people, some of them prominent, took the "cure."

--Dec. 16, 1861, Platte City was burned by Federal troops.

--In December, 1858, several men, believing that a part of the Fort Leavenworth reserve on the Missouri side of the river was open for settlement, commenced to erect cabins thereon, but the quartermaster at the Post ejected them and confiscated their lumber.

--Dec. 6, 1854, the first birth occurred in Leavenworth, when Cora Leavenworth Kyle, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. T. Kyle, and granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Keller, was born at the Leavenworth Hotel. The first death of a resident occurred on the same day, when Stephen T. Noble was drowned in the river.

--Ivanhoe Lodge, No. 14, K of P of Leavenwroth, was instituted Dec. 1, 1873.

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