Scraps of Local History Picked Up Here and There

by George Remsburg

The current issue of the Kansas Historical Quarterly prints the following amusing item taken from the Weekly Herald, of Leavenworth, dated December 10, 1859:

"Dr. H---- tells a good story at the expense of our worthy ex-city marshal. While the latter was endeavoring to rescue the team which broke through the ice on election day, he broke through himself, and came near drowning. As the ice was giving way, and he was about going down, he exclaimed, at the top of his voice, 'I have not voted--I have not voted!' Of course he was rescued, as candidates could be found within the hearing of every man's voice."


George E. Fisher, a well-known retired police officer who died in Los Angeles recently, was born in Leavenworth 68 years ago, his parents having been pioneers there. He retired as a police sergeant of the California metropolis six years ago, after 34 years of service in the department.


Seventy-eight years ago this month, General Jim Lane, the "Grim Chieftain of the Border War" and first United States senator from Kansas, committed suicide in Leavenworth -- Generals Grant, Sherman and Sheridan met at a reception at Fort Leavenworth 76 years ago on the 16th of this month. -- The 13th Kansas Infantry was raised under President Lincoln's call of July, 1862.


Anthony Anniversary.

Ninety years ago this month Col. Daniel R. Anthony made his first visit to Kansas, as a member of the colony sent out by the New England Emigrant Aid Society, under the leadership of Eli Thayer which colony established the city of Lawrence. The following fall, Col. Anthony returned east, where he was engaged in business until June, 1857, when he again came to Kansas, this time to remain. He located permanently in Leavenworth, and few men did more for the advancement of his adopted city and state than he did during his almost half a century of residence here.


A Good Man Gone.

A wide circle of friends and relatives in Leavenworth County and throughout northeastern Kansas, is deeply concerned in the recent passing of Walter J. Griffiths at his home in Marysville, Kas., at the age of 75 years, all but about five years of this time having been spent in the region mentioned. He was born at Monee, Ill., August 19, 1868, and came with his parents to Kansas in 1871(?), settling on a farm near Baileyville, in Nemaha County, where they were close friends and neighbors of the late Governor Willis J. Bailey and family, for whom that town was named. Governor Bailey, like the Griffiths, came from Illinois. Walter J. Griffiths was married September 19, 1894, to Gertrude Oliphint, daughter of Dr. William J. and Matilda Oliphint, well known pioneers of the Oak Mills-Kickapoo neighborhood. The writer recalls attending the wedding at the Oliphint home, three days before his 23rd birthday, the bride being his cousin, and one he has always been proud of. Soon afterward, the couple settled on the Baileyville farm where they continued to reside until 1930, when they moved to Marysville where Mr. Griffiths was custodian of the golf links until forced to retire on account of failing health. He is survived by his widow: his sons, Lester, Portland, Oreg.; Bert, Chicago; Robert, Axtell, Kas.; Walter J., U. S. Army; Gordon, at home; his daughter, Mrs. Gertrude Herda, Marysville; his brothers, George B., Marysville; Ray, Wilsey, Kas.; his sister, Mrs. Anna Bronaugh, Chico, Calif. A daughter, Mrs. Helen Wiley, preceded him in death in 1941, and he was buried beside her at Seneca. His son, Lester, was a hero of World war I, suffered a shattered leg, and went through tortures in German prison camps.

Mr. and Mrs. Griffiths would have observed their fiftieth wedding anniversary this coming September. Although the name Walter is generally abbreviated into "Walt," Mr. Griffiths was affectionately known to his many friends and relatives as "Wall." In testimony of his character I will quote from a letter received from his sister-in-law, Mrs. Robert T. Bruner, of Topeka, former register of deeds of Nemaha County. Mrs. Bruner is a sister of Mrs. Griffiths, was reared in the Oak Mills-Kickapoo community, lived in Nemaha County many years, and knew Mr. Griffiths about as intimately as did his own immediate family. She says: "I am enclosing a clipping regarding the late Walter J. Griffiths, which, as an obituary, is correct; but the real life of 'Wall' was in his goodness and kindness to everyone. He was never too busy to stop and lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need or distress, any hour of the day or night, whether it was sickness in the home or a farm animal in distress, he would go and stay as long as he could help. His friends included everyone who knew him. He never harmed or spoke ill of anyone; when he could not speak well of a person, he said nothing. He was always cheerful and never complained in adversity or in his years of illness. He was a real man and friend to his fellowmen."

Return to Index