Scraps of Local History Picked Up Here and There

by George Remsburg

The current number of Chronicles of Oklahoma, official organ of the Oklahoma historical society, contains an interesting six-page sketch of Dr. Edward Palmer, a naturalist of considerable note, who spent much time around Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth in the early days.

It was written by Rogers McVaugh, who is a botanist connected with the US Department of Agriculture and contains a number of references to Dr. Palmer's activities in and around Leavenworth. He had studied medicine and practiced locally in Kansas before the Civil War. In 1862 he was and army surgeon under Col. Jesse H. Leavenworth and later served as an Indian agency doctor.

Dr. Palmer's chief interest, however, was in his natural history studies. He collected extensively along various lines of natural history and long was connected with the Smithsonian Institution, where much of the material he gathered is preserved. Others of his collections are in the United States National Herbarium, the New York Botanical Garden and elsewhere.


Passing of Pioneers

Mrs. Arrilda Ann Jones, 97, who died in Atchison recently, was one of the early white children born in Kansas, before it became a Territory. Her birth occurred near Fort Leavenworth, November 26, 1847. She was a daughter of Robert M. and Jane Prather, who settled Near the post soon after it was established and where they lived until Kansas was opened for settlement in 1854, when they moved to a claim between Leavenworth and Atchison, where both died many years ago.

They lived in the Platte purchase in the early days of its settlement. Mr. Prather was a carpenter and built many of the pioneer houses on both sides of the river. The daughter, Sarilda Ann, married Benjamin Jones about 1870.

Robert Ehret Johnson, 77, who died at Horton recently, was born in Leavenworth County January 20, 1868, a son of Lovell and Nancy Johnson, well known pioneers. He was a rural mail carrier for 31 years.

Mrs. Mary Emma Thorp, 96, widow of Tyree D. Thorp, died at Potter recently. She was a native of the Platte purchase and was born September 2, 1849. The Thorps settled in Leavenworth County a half a century ago and lived here for many years.

John P. Colman, who had lived between Bean and Sugar lakes, on the Missouri side of the river, all his life, or for a period of 77 years, died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Edith Lehman, at Parkville, Mo., august 1. He was a son of Isaac and Mary E. Colman, pioneers of the Missouri lakes neighborhood, where he was born Frbruary 7, 1868. Besides Mrs. Lehman, he leaves another daughter, Mrs. Dewey Richardson, of Weston, and a son, James M. Colman, of the home. He married Lucy Eastborne in 1894. She passed away eight years ago.


Kaw Navigation

Eighty years ago on August 16, the "E. Hensley," a Missouri river steamboat, built and maintained at Leavenworth, made its first trip up the Kansas river to Lawrence, loaded with freight for the Union Pacific railroad which was then being constructed. Capt. Samuel Burke was in charge.


Who Is Right?

The old village of Edwardsville, south of Leavenworth, in Wyandotte county, dates back to the days of the Indians, and Mrs. Della Price, who is considered an authority on the early history of the community, says it was named for Edward Half-Moon, a chief of the Delawares, whose father, the old Chief Half-Moon, once owned the townsite. the elder Chief Half-Moon, she says was stabbed to death in a drunken brawl in the village saloon, and his son, Edward Half-Moon, then became chief.

Andreas' "History of Kansas," published in 1882, says Edwardsville was named for Hon. John H. Edwards, then general passenger and ticket agent of the Union Pacific railroad, later a state senator from Ellis county, Kas.


Miles Point

Under the caption, "Off the Trail at Miles Point--Fort Leavenworth, 1840," the last number of Kansas Magazine prints the following bit of verse by Corporal R. Lynn Martin, of Fort Leavenworth:

"Turn, keen heart; turn to the plain.

Turn on the river; shoulder the star;

Face to the west where the dim trails are."

"Never the valley; never the stream;

Never the hill-locked timbered hollow;

Only the dear sun for to follow."

"Yours bright heart, shall be black thirst

And loneliness fever all the way.

Yours shall be rainbow's end at Santa Fe."


Golden Weddings

Two golden weddings observed in the Nortonville neighborhood lately, have a Leavenworth county interest. The two couples who were married 50 years ago, and who celebrated their anniversaries were Mr. and Mrs. Clarence S. Moyer and Mr. and Mrs. William Wehking, Sr.

Mr. and Mrs. Moyer were married in 1895 at the home of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Knapp, south of Lowemont. The Knapps lived near the Cody family, and Mrs. Moyer's father attended school with "Billy" Cody, afterwards famous as Buffalo Bill."

Mr. and Mrs. Wehking both were born in Minden, Germany, and came to this country at an early day. Mrs. Wehking's maiden name was Wilhemina Geiseking. The coupl was married here in 1895. There are the parents of 11 children, among whom are Mrs. Margaret Schott of Leavenworth, Mrs. Minnie Knollman and Mrs. Irene Kern of Easton, and Mrs. Martha Nolting, Mrs. Alma Nolting and William, Ernest, Henry and Fred Wehking of Nortonville.


"Father of Easton"

The first name of the founder of Easton is variously given as Armistead, Andrew, Andre, Andy, ets., Dawson. From what the writer has been able to learn from the most reliable authorities, it was Armistead Dawson. Dawson, about 1852, established a trading post at the Stranger creek crossing of the Fort Riley military road at that point, which was the nucleus of the present town of Easton. Although the other Armistead, they are probably corruptions of the same, and were used because they were easier to spell and pronounce. Or they may have been mere nicknames or handy, short-cut by-names.


Early Newspapers

The late Victor Murdock, of the Wichita Eagle, was "long" on local history, and published in his paper from time to time, much interesting old-time matter. A short time before his death, he printed a long article on Wichita newspaper history, from which the following extract is taken:

"In 1870 Joe Clarke of the Leavenworth Call was offered by the Wichita town company a bonus to start a paper here. He had a unit of printing equipment at Fort Harker. He took the bonus, turned the equipment over to A. A. Sowers, with whom he had been a printer on the Leavenworth Times. William Greiffenstein sent a team to Fort Harker for the equipment. Sowers took in as a partner William B. Hutchinson, a printer, and on August 15, 1870, the first paper here, the Vidette, appeared.

In Andreas' History of Kansas appears the following account of this newspaper deal of three-quarters of a century ago.

"In the summer of 1870, F. A. Sowers purchased of Joseph Clark, of Leavenworth, a printing office, then stored at Fort Harker, from which place he had it hauled to Wichita. On the 18th of August, 1870, the first number of the Wichita Vidette appeared, F. A. Sowers, editor and proprietor. Afterwards W. B. Hutchinsn became associated with Mr. Sowers, and the two continued the publication of the paper until the summer of 1871, when Mr. Sowers withdrew. Mr. Hutchinson published the paper alone late in the summer of 1872, when it passed into the hands of Rev. Mr. Perkins, who changed its politics from Republican to liberal Republican, supporting Horace Greeley for President. The paper died with the demise of liberalism, and the office was removed to Oxford, Sumner County. The Vidette was the first paper published in the Arkansas Valley during its entire length in Kansas."

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