Scraps of Local History Picked Up Here and There

by George Remsburg

published by Leavenworth Times March 23 (WWII)


Does anyone know who introduced the wheat drill in Leavenworth County? James C. Malin, in a paper entitled "The Soft Wheat Boom and the Agricultural Development of the Upper Kansas River Valley," which is appearing serially in the Kansas Historical Quarterly, says: "The Buckeye drill was advertised in Leavenworth in 1865, but the first drill advertised in the upper Kansas valley papers appeared in 1871 without the maker's name."



March Weather

The Times reports that March 6, of the present year, when the mercury fell to 11 above zero, at Leavenworth, was "one of the coldest March days to go on record" in that locality. I have records of a few cold March days in that part of the country. For several days, beginning March 15, 1897, the mercury hovered around zero. On March 14, 1895, there was a blizzard with a temperature of four above zero. On March 27, 1893, there was an eight-inch snow and the mercury close to zero. In 1891, on March 1, it was two below zero; on the 2nd, 20 above; on the 3rd, 14 above, and on the 4th, two below.



Early Society.

More than 60 years ago there was a lodge or society in Leavenworth called the "Union of Personal Liberty." It was organized in 1881, with F. Noll as president; Christian Schubert as secretary, and J. H. Rothenberger as director. At one time it had nearly 400 members and met once a month in the old Turner hall, at Shawnee and Broadway. The only available record of this organization does not reveal its nature or objects except what is manifest in its name. Possibly there are old-timers still living in Leavenworth or elsewhere, who were members of it or who have knowledge of it.


George B. Conklin, of Whiting, Kas., who died recently at the age of 81 years, was an early resident of Leavenworth, coming with his parents, when a young man, from his native state, Indiana. He attended the state college at Manhattan, choosing telegraphy as a profession, and was a telegrapher for the Missouri Pacific railroad 46 years. He was a member of the Masonic lodge more than half a century.


Old Cemetery.

One of the oldest cemeteries in Leavenworth County, outside of Fort Leavenworth and the Indian cemeteries, is what is known as the Van Winkle cemetery, in the Pleasant Ridge-Lowemont neighborhood. It dates back to 1855. It was named for John Van Winkle, on whose land it was laid out. The first person buried there was Mrs. Jesse Connell, who died March 27, 1855. Her husband was one of the most prominent pioneers of that locality. He was a Kentuckian and came to Kansas with the first settlers. He was a member of the senate of the first state legislature in 1861. He also was a member of the Lecompton constitutional convention in 1857. He died in the early '70s. Horace Keyes, another well known pioneer of that community, died March 23, 1895, and is buried in Van Winkle cemetery.


Big Snow Storm.

Who remembers the big snow storm in March, 1876, one of the heaviest in the history of northeastern Kansas, and was it as bad in Leavenworth and vicinity as in some other localities? The writer has several first-hand records of it from old-timers who were eye-witnesses, and while they agree in the main, there is a little confliction as to the exact date. It will be noted in the following that one says it was on March 26 and another on March 27. All reports that I have seen, however, agree as to the year--1876. One record in my possession says it was in the "winter of 1876." To give an idea of the severity of this blizzard, I will quote from two letters, both from conservative and reliable witnesses:

Mrs. John A. Martin, wife of the tenth governor of the state of Kansas, living in Atchison at the time of this storm, wrote: "Today, March 26, is the anniversary of the heaviest snow storm I ever saw in my life. It was in 1876. We had a latticed porch to the kitchen and the snow reached to the top. My brother, Paul Challiss, came and dug us out. Later, when I went over to my mother's a couple of blocks away, I walked between walls of snow that were taller than myself. Being so unusual at this time of the year, I have never forgotten the date."

Mrs. William Lovelace, of Muscotah, says she well remembers the big snow of the winter of 1876. She and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Roach, then lived on a farm near Muscotah, and were away from home at the time. When they reached home, Mrs. Lovelace says, the house, the well and the pig pens were almost lost to sight. The snow was level with the window sills in the second story of the same. The hogs were buried under the snow but were later dug out and were not harmed. Children walked with glee over the tops of the trees in a young peach orchard, and a cow was buried beneath the snow for 12 or more hours before she was located and rescued.

The late Aaron B. "Shockey" Evans, for many years a well known Atchison county auctioneer, gave the date of the storm as March 27, 1876. "I had just arrived in Atchison County," he said, "and came near freezing to death."

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