Transcribed from Biographical history of Barton County, Kansas. ; Illustrated. Published by Great Bend Tribune, Great Bend, KS : 1912. 318 p. : ill. ; 28 cm. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward, July 2006.

1912 Biographical History of Barton County, Kansas



THE publication of this volume was made possible by the people of Barton county, who responded liberally when called upon for subscriptions to cover the cost of getting the data and printing the book. We undertook this work as the result of many requests that we publish a book of this kind. We realized the enormous amount of work that would be necessary before the book could be completed, and we also knew that it would require the outlay of considerable money. However, we began the work in the summer of 1911 and maintained solicitors on the road until the weather became such that the work had to be abandoned in the field until the month of March of this year—1912—when the work was again taken up and in so far as possible every land owner and old timer of the county was seen personally and given an opportunity to subscribe for a copy of the book. This work was continued until the first of August at which time we had a sufficient number of orders for the book to insure its publication, and while it has not been a profitable venture for us as far as the financial part is concerned, we have profited by the knowledge we have gained about the county's history, and have found that the people of the county appreciate the efforts of anybody when they are applied to the interest of progress and enterprise. If the reading of this volume gives pleasure to the old timers who helped to make the history contained herein, and the younger generation can get some inspiration and guidance from the stories of their fathers our efforts have not been in vain and we are satisfied with the work we have done.


We make grateful acknowledgement to the following for their aid in compiling these pages: B. B. Smyth, D. N. Heizer, "Inman's Tales of the Trail," the Newspapers of Barton County, and others who in any way contributed to the success of this work.








THE first white man who ever saw the New Kansas was the Spaniard, Coronado (Francisco Velasquez de Coronado) from Mexico, who passed through in the winter of 1541-2 in search of the famous and mythical "Seven Cities of Cibola" in the mythical and Unknown province of Quivera. He was accompanied by quite a small army of knights, common Spaniards, and Indians.

The object of the expedition, as was the main object of nearly all early expeditions, was the hope and expectation of finding gold in vast quantities.

Coronado's route lay, as well as can be learned from the most reliable accounts, in a general northeasterly direction, entering the territory near the Medicine Lodge river in Barber County, thence northeasterly across the Arkansas somewhere near Wichita, thence still northeasterly to the Missouri river near the northern line of the State, or the 40th parallel of latitude, between which and the 30th parallel, and between the 95th and 97th degrees of longitude the province of Quivera was supposed to be.

After reaching his most northeasterly point, and meeting with nothing but hardships and disappointment, he returned somewhat the same way he came, though more to the westward.

This expedition having taken place before the settlement of Massachusetts, New York, or any of the Eastern States, it thus appears that Kansas has an earlier history than any of the eastern or northern states, if we may except the incursions made by Norsemen and Icelanders into Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia about the year 1,000, accounts of which, however, are not generally accepted.

The following little poem nicely tells the story and the change in the territory between that early day and 1879:


1542      1879

Eugene F. Ware, in Ft. Scott Monitor

In the half forgotten era,
    With the avarice of old,
    Seeking cities that were told
    To be paved with solid gold,
In the Kingdom of Quivera—
  Came the restless Coronado
    To the open Kansas plain;
    With his knights from sunny Spain.
    In an effort that, though vain,
Thrilled with boldness and bravado.
League by league in aimless marching,
    Knowing scarcely where or why,
    Crossed they uplands drear and dry,
    That an unprotected sky
Had for centuries been parching.

But their expectations, eager,
    Found, instead cf fruitful lands,
    Shallow streams and shifting sands,
    Where the buffalo in bands
Roamed o'er deserts dry and meager.

Back to scenes more trite, yet tragic,
    Marched the knights with armored steeds;
    Not for them the quiet deeds;
    Not for them to sow the seeds
From which empires grow like magic.

Never land so hunger stricken
    Could a Latin race remould;
    They could conquer heat or cold—
    Die for glory or for gold—
But not make a desert quicken.

Thus Quivera was forsaken;
    And the world forgot the place
    Until centuries apace
    Came the blue-eyed Saxon race,
And it bade the desert waken.
  Sturdy are the Saxon faces,
    As they move along in line;
    Bright the rolling-cutters shine
    Charging up the State's incline,
As an army storms a glacis.

Into loam the sand is melted,
    And the blue grass takes the loam
    Round about the prairie home,
    And the locomotives roam
Over landscapes iron-belted.

Cities grow where stunted birches
    Hugged the shallow water line,
    And the deepening rivers twine,
    Past the factory and mine,
Orchard slopes and schools and churches.

            *    *    *    *    *

We have made the State of Kansas,
    And today she stands complete;
    First in freedom, first in wheat,
    And her future years will meet
Ripened hopes and richer stanzas.

But if Coronado failed to discover the "Seven Cities," it was only because he started too soon. Those "seven cities with houses five stories high, and shops in which the workmen work in gold and silver exclusively," are yet to be found on that same identical ground. Those cities are growing. They have not yet reached the wealthy condition pictured out by those early Spaniards, in 1530 to 1540; but it is only a question of time. It remains for some later explorer to discover those rich cities. All the difficulty with Coronado was that he slarted out several hundred years too early. How long yet will it be before they are discovered?


THE first Americans to visit this region was Lieut. Zebulon M. Pike's exploring party on their way west to the Rocky Mountains in 1806, the same year that Aaron Burr was making such grand attempts to "make a settlement on the Washita" in the territory of Louisiana. They followed the trail of Spanish soldiers frcm the Pawnee village till they lost it among the "numerous buffalo paths between the Smoky and the Arkansaw."

Near midnight, on the 13th of October, 1806, the party reached the most northerly bend of the Arkansas river (section 32, 5 or 6 miles east of the city of Great Bend). The party arrived in a drenching rain, and remained two weeks to rest and recruit their animals and lay in a supply of meat. At 10 a.m., October 28th, Pike, with most of his party went west along the north bank of the river, and Lieut. Col. Wilkinson, Pike's superior officer, with a small party, went down the river by boat. However, finding the river unnavigable, they abandoned their boats after going down five or six miles, and landed on the southwest bank of the river, near where the southwestern end of the Ellinwood iron bridge now rests.—From Pike's Expedition.

In 1812 this trail was first traveled with pack mules by McKnight's party.

In 1818 Mr. Bringier came up the Arkansas, and speaks of finding a "large body of blind coal, (anthracite), equal in quality to the Kilkenny, and by far the best he had seen in the United States, immediately on the bank of the Arkansas in latitude 38 deg. and longitude 98 deg," (about the place where Hutchinson now is.)

—Marcy's Rep. p. 158, citing Am. Jour. Sci., vol. 3, p. 80.

In 1820 Maj. Long's expedition passed through toward the west, the object, similarly to that of Lieut. Pike, being to find, if possible, the scources of the Red river of Louisiana.

On August 9th the expedition reached "the narrowest part of the valley, at the great bend of the Arkansas," (the same place that Lieut. Pike stopped, five or six miles east of the city of Great Bend), and finding good feed for their


horses, staid over the 10th.—Long's Expedition.

In 1821, a pack-mule train, sent out by Cooper & Bucknell of Boonvilie, Mo., went through to Santa Fe. This was the commencement of the commerce of the plains.

In 1825, the Santa Fe Trail, a wagon road from Independence, Mo., to Santa Fe, was established by Major Sibley, under an act of congress.—Annals of Kansas.

The trail from the east strikes the Arkansas river half a mile west of Ellinwood. Gregg's Commerce of the Prairies, page 313, has the following:

Independence, Mo., to—
Round Grove 35 35
Narrows 30 65
110 Mile Creek 30 95
Bridge creek 8 103
Big John Spring 40 143
Council Grove 2 145
Diamond Spring 15 160
Lost Spring 15 175
Cottonwood Creek 12 187
Turkey Creek 25 212
Little Arkansas 17 229
Cow Creek 20 249
Arkansas River (Ellinwood) 16 265
Walnut Creek 8 273
Ash Creek 19 292
Pawnee Fork 6 298
Coon Creek 33 331
Caches 36 367
Ford of Arkansas 20 387
Sand Creek (leave Ark. R.) 50 437
Cimarron River 8 445
Middle Spring (upper Cimarron) 37 481
Willow Bar 26 507
Upper Spring 18 525
Cold Spring (l've Cim. R.) 5 530
McNee's Creek 25 555
Rabbit-Ear Creek 20 575
Round Mound 8 583
Rock Creek 8 591
Point of Rocks 19 610
Rio Colorado 20 630
Ocate 6 636
Santa Clara Spring 21 657
Rio Mosa 22 679
Rio Gallinas (Vegas) 20 699
Ojo de Bernal (spring) 17 716
San Miguel 6 722
Pecos Village 23 745
Santa Fe 25 770

In 1832, Washington Irving visited Kansas as a tourist, came to the Arkansas Valley, and gave this glowing account of its wilderness charms:

"After resuming our march we came in sight of the Arkansas. It presented a broad and rapid stream bordered by a beach of fine sand, overgrown with willows and cottonwood trees. Beyond the river the eye wandered over a beautiful campaign country of flowery plains and sloping uplands, diversified by groves and clumps of trees and long screens of woodland; the whole wearing the aspect of complete and even ornamental cultivation, instead of native wilderness. *   * "We were overshadowed by lofty trees, with straight, smooth trunks like stately columns; and as the glancing rays of the sun shone through the transparent leaves tinted with the many-colored hues of autumn, I was reminded of the effect of sunshine among the stained windows and clustering columns of a Gothic cathedral. Indeed, there is a grandeur in our spacious forests of the West that awaken in me the same feeling I experienced in those vast and venerable piles; and the sound of the wind sweeping through, supplies occasionally, the deep breathings of the organ.

"It was a bright, sunny morning with a pure, transparent atmosphere that seemed to bathe the very heart with gladness. Our march continued parallel with the Arkansas through a rich and varied country; sometimes we had to break our way through alluvial bottoms and matted with redundant vegetation, where the gigantic trees were entangled with grape vines hanging like cordage from their branches; sometimes we coasted along sluggish brooks, whose feebly trickling currents just served to link together a successsion of glassy pools imbedded like mirrors in the quiet bosom of the forest, reflecting its autumnal foliage and patches of clear blue sky. Sometimes we scrambled up broken and rocky hills from the summit of which we had wide views, on one side over distant prairies, diversified by groves and forests, and on the other, ranging along a line of blue and shadowy hills, beyond the waters of the Arkansas."

In 1846, during the Mexican war, Gen. Kearney and Col. Doniphan crossed to Santa Fe and stopped at the "Great Bend," August 18th. A Mormon battalion also went west with their families, and having their ox yokes tied across the bases of the oxen's horns after the primitive style pictured out as having been followed in the east 5,000 years ago. Francis Parkman, Jr., historian, met this "the first army to pass through the Valley" on his return from the Oregon Trail.—Parkman's Oregon Trail.

In 1849, during the California hegira, and subsequently, "the Great Bend" became a noted point on this most noted of highways. For a century, the Great Bend of the Arkansas has been known as the grand feeding ground of the buffalo, and favorite hunting and bloody battle ground of the Indian.



By James M. Fugate of Barton County


IN April, 1853, young, vigorous, and never having seen as much of the world as generally fills the ambition of fellows in their early days of manhood, I engaged as teamster to drive through with a train of ox-wagons loaded with merchandise for the Santa Fe trade. We left La Fayette County, Missouri, the 24th day of April; our company comprised 45 men, armed with the old-fashioned long-range rifles, each, a Colt's navy revolver and bowie knife. Our teams numbered 210 head of cattle in all.

Kansas was then one vast wild plain, over which roving bands of hostile Indians were constantly cutting off emigrant and freight trains on their way to New Mexico and the Californias.

After leaving the settlement some distance, we overtook twelve men with three wagons, who had discovered there was danger ahead and were awaiting reinforcements before venturing farther. This increased our fighting force to 57 robust, well-armed men.

Our first serious trouble began after reaching the Arkansas Valley, at a point near where Hutchinson now stands, and where we had gone into camp about noon of May 21st. While at dinner we were suddenly startled by the alarm cry "Indians!"

Before we had got our teams and wagons fairly in corral, they were charging around us on their horses, yelling and firing like demons. Taken at such a dangerous disadvantage and surprise, we were just in that position which makes men fight with desperation, and instantaneously our rifles were pealing forth their notes of defiance and death to the dusky murderous foe.

We were completely encircled by the savages, who proved to be Comanches, swinging upon the opposite side of their ponies exposing but little of themselves to our aim by firing under their horses' necks. Their deadly missiles were soon playing havoc among our cattle. The creatures were madly surging and bellowing around, endangering us to a death beneath their feet, worse to be feared within the enclosure than the foe without. This new danger soon drove us outside the enclosure of wagons in full view of the Indians.

We had now fairly got our hands in and were tumbling their ponies at a rapid rate. Few Indians after their ponies fell, escaped a rifle bullet. The Indians were narrowing their circle until twenty-five yards scarcely intervened between us. But the motion of their steeds unsteadied their aim until it was but random, while the closer they pressed us the more destructive became every shot we fired.

Such fighting could not last long. After the first few rounds the savages mostly substituted the gun with the bow and arrows. Finding themselves getting most terribly worsted in the combat, they made a dash to ride down and tomahawk us all in one death struggle. I tell you, then, we had no child's play. Outnumbering, four or five to one in a hand-to-hand fight to the death, is a serious thing. We were soon mingling together, but driven against the wagons, we could dodge or parry their blows with the tomahawk, while the rapid flashes from the celebrated "navy" in each man's hand, was not so easily avoided by the savage warriors. We made the ground too hot for them, and with yells of baffled rage, they broke and fled, carrying off all their killed and wounded but three, which they had to leave.

Now for the first time since the fight began we had time to take in our situation. One of the bravest and best of our comrades, young Gilbert, was shot through the heart while fighting the savages back with clubbed rifle, his revolver having missed fire. He lay as he fell, with his hand clenched around the stock of his gun as though he would take the weapon with his departed spirit to the other world where he might avenge his death upon the savages who had paid such a dear penalty for their last work. Many others of our company were wounded, two of them severely. The dead and dying ponies were scattered about on the prairie with the arms and accoutrements of their savage owners about them; while several of our cattle were also dead and dying from wounds made by missiles aimed far us.

The remainder of the day was spent in burying our poor comrade on the spot made sacred by his life's blood (which we did as well as we could under the circumstances,) caring for our wounded, and gathering up the spoils of the fight. We destroyed everything belonging to the Indians that we could not carry away, and along towards night-fall moved a mile up the river, where we went into camp.

After the excitement consequent upon the fight began to subside, we had much to talk over about our chances of fighting our way with such a small force through the entire boundless plains before us to New Mexico. The future looked hopeless indeed, but J. W. Jones who commanded the outfit, swore he would go to Santa Fe or go to —. We dare not show the white feather, then.

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