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


birds lit down near us and I made a proposition to kill a dozen and have a stew for our suppers as we were out of fresh meat. Some of the boys laughed at the idea of killing a dozen at one shot. I fired one shot and we picked up sixty-two birds and many more were scattered over the prairie that we did not get. We had not finished picking up the birds when the cry of "Indians!" was heard. Everything was packed into the wagons and we started pel-mel for a rocky hill on which we intended to sell our lives as dearly as possible.

After getting in position, we discovered that the supposed Indians were a company of U. S. cavalry that had come down to the river to get water. We were very much relieved, palpitating hearts resumed their natural motion, and trembling nerves were steady as iron.

Our greatest loss was that of the birds which we had left in our haste to get to a place of safety.

16th. Arrived on the hunting ground south of the river and saw a sight new to most of us. As far as we could see, to the east, west, and south, was a vast herd of buffalo. We estimated that we could see over 500,000 at one sight. We pitched our camp and made preparations for work; cleaned our rifles; sharpened our knives; and prepared to stretch hides by the wholesale.

17th. Imagine my feelings as I approached the first herd of old bulls. I could not possibly get nearer than three hundred yards. A natural instinct of danger seemed to keep me at a sate distance. I had read of hair-breadth escapes and terrible encunters with these giants of the prairie and was not overly anxious to make a close acquaintance with them. The fact is they looked dangerous; and they would naturally impress a person that they meant business by shaking their heads at him and pawing up great clouds of dust. My first impression was that I had better try my hand at long-range shooting, so if they were inclined to be vicious I could take leg ball and have a good start. Shooting at long range did not pan out very well, as my nerves were a little unsettled, and every time I would fire some old fellow would look toward me, lick out his tongue, and shake his head, as if to say "Don't come any nearer; you might get into trouble." I tried several times to muster up courage and crawl nearer; but at last made up my mind to shoot at long range if it took all summer to get our wagons loaded with hides. The result was I fired about forty shots, killed seven buffalos, and crawled clear out of sight of the herd, leaving over one hundred buffalo standing looking at me as I crawled away. I suppose they imagined that I was a cowardly coyote.

We soon loaded our wagons with hides, recrossed the river, and camped on the site of Dodge City. "Now boys, we can take a good sound sleep tonight, no danger of Indians," was the general word.

I had an aching tooth that would not let me sleep. About midnight I heard a horse approaching. It was a dark night and I could just see the outlines of a man on the horse. I did not think strange of this as there were several railroaders camped near us and several loose horses had come to our camp. I took my gun and crawled out to the horses, without awakening the boys. The fellow rode up within 20 paces, took hold of a picket rope, and commenced drawing the horse toward him. I could not tell whether it was one of our boys or one of the strays. So to be on the safe side and not shoot an innocent man, I said "Look here, my friend!" He put spurs to his horse and was off like a shot. I sent a couple of caliber 50 after him but he made good his escape. All was confusion in camp, "Shoot him!" came from all sides. Several of our neighbor camps lost horses that night. The thieves made a general raid along the line of the road, and but for aching tooth we would have lost our horses.

We finally got home to Great Bend safe and sound. All but one of our party are still in Barton County.

A little incident happened to one of our Barton County boys which was laughable as well as serious. We were out killing buffalo about seventy miles south of Great Bend. I had purchased a new gun and expected to do wonders in the line of killing buffalo. It was a cold windy morning in November and I could not or did not do good execution. I do not blame the boys for finding fault with me. One of them said that he could do better himself. I gave him the gun and told him to try his hand. He crawled up to a herd of old bulls and knocked three of them down at three successive shots. "That's well done!" the boys said. "He's a rattler! He's after their pelts?" The herd suddenly stampeded. They did not like to see the heels of their companions flying up so rapidly. Our hero followed in rapid pursuit, passing the supposed dead bulls. He had passed them about one hundred paces when one of them rose to his feet and started straight toward our hero. Louy did not hear the approach of his pursuers until the bull was upon him. He turned his head just in time to find himself going one way and the gun the other. The bull paid no attention to him; but kept on his course, to the great relief of Louy and the rest of us. No damage done except a badly torn shirt and coat.

At another time we were camped on the headwaters of the Ninnescah. One morning I took my gun and started to a herd of buffalo that were grazing about a mile from camp. When about a quarter of a mile from camp the boys commenced hollowing at me and motioning for me to come back. Before I could get to camp they had the teams hitched up, and were going at a run dawn the creek to another camp. I finally came up to them, after a run of about half a mile, and wanted to know what was causing such a stir. The answer was we had better be making tracks if we did not want our hair lifted. The red devils were coming, and there was a host of them, with red blankets and banners flying. I just told my com-


panions that I would go back and meet the whole host and see if they were on the warpath. So I marched boldly back to meet the enemy, which proved to be an innocent buffalo herd marching quietly down toward our camp. The joke was, I had seen the buffalo coming and had an idea that the boys had seen them and taken them to be Indians, so I could afford to be brave while my companions ran away to reinforce another camp. We finally got things righted and had a good laugh over the affair. One of my companions declares to this day that he saw Indians and could plainly see their bows and arrows.


Life Story of One of the Bravest Men Who Ever Tramped Across the
Santa Fe Trail; an Early Barton County Pioneer

G. N. Moses

GEO. N. MOSES was the tenth of a family of 14 children, seven boys and seven girls. The oldest member of the family died when but a few years of age. George was the youngest of the four brothers who went to the defense of their country when the civil war broke out. The two youngest brothers, Charles of Chicago and E. R. of this city were too young though Charlie, the oldest of the two ran off twice to join the army but was returned home each time. George Moses was born in Olean, New York State April 15. 1844. He died in Great Bend, September 10, 1911. When he was eleven years of age the family moved to Illinois and later moved aga!n to the frontier state of Missouri, locating in Sedalia. The father was a mason and the older boys followed this trade in their younger days. George was just attaining manhood when the civil war broke out and he joined Company I, 15th Illinois Infantry though his older brothers tried to prevent this because of his youth and later with his brother, R. H, re-enlisted, both joining Company C, 146th Illinois infantry.

After the war he saw service in the border war in Missouri, against the bushwhackers. As member of what was known as the Jim Turley gang under command of Capt. Montgomery, hardly a day passed but what they had exciting adventures. This company was composed of about thirty men all expert horsemen and dead shots and their duties consisted principally of chasing down the guerillas of the rebel army who were raiding all parts of Missouri where northern sympathizers lived.

When the war was over he was still a young man, just entering manhood. A man with a reputation of being able to take care of himself under any circumstances and a man whose word could be depended upon. He was of a roving disposition at that time and Missouri was becoming too well settled. He wanted to get out into the world as his brothers had done before the war. Striking out for himself he came to Kansas, hunted buffalo all over this section of the state, wandering over the mountains through Colorado and down into New Mexico. Then he returned to Colorado


and met John Tilton of this city in the Gunnison country, stayed there awhile and they returned to Kansas and were working near Salina when a man came out from Salina to get G. N. to guide them to a fit place in this part of the country for the location of a townslte, it being known that he had hunted all over this section and down through the Medicine Lodge and Texas cattle country. A company of Quincy, Ill., citizens had determined to locate a town on the Santa Fe railroad which was building through Kansas and wanted to beat the railroad company to it. G. N. guided them to this section and they located the town as it stands. Fort Zarah at that time had two or three stores and a general colony and the railroad company resenting the efforts of outsiders to start a town instead of their obtaining the townsite attempted to break Great Bend but Great Bend outlasted them all.

He was the first sheriff of the county and did much to kep this a lawabiding community. The "gun men" of the West knew him and that there would be little chance of their intimidating him. For the average "gun man" is not a man who is a killer because he is quicker than others on the draw but because he is trlckier and because he intimidates officers of the law. G. N. had been in the camps of the pioneers all over the West. He had met the bad men of Dodge City, of Sargent and of the mining camps of Colorado and always he had been on the side of decency and right. He was never known to be afraid and the bad men were afraid of him because they knew he was not afraid of them.

None of the Moses boys have ever been apologetic or timid. They have been true to their convictions but they have done what they believed to be right regardless of the opinion of others.

An instance of G. N.'s boyhood will show considerably the trend of his character. As a boy of 7 or 8 he was out getting nuts with a couple of his sisters when a woman who was a terror of the neighborhood when it came to demanding what she called her rights came upon them and attempted to frighten the children and did succeed in scaring the little girls pretty badly. G. N.'s anger blazed forth and he dared the woman to come any nearer to attempt to take the sack of nuts which she claimed. He drove her back and took the booty home for booty it was. And throughout his life the dominant trait has been to help others and to take the side of the oppressed. Hundreds of stories might be written about this side of the man't nature.

He was a born leader and though not seeking leadership was naturally selected for this in most enterprises in which he engaged. If he believed a cause was worthy he followed it strong in the assurance of its success sometimes to his financial disadvantage. Naturally he made opponents as all strong men do but never did opponent question his integrity or honesty.

With his marriage in 1873 to Miss Ida Mitchell, step-daughter of Squire Odell, one of the locaters of the town and member of the town company and went into business in Great Bend in the firm of Burton, Odell & Moses. When the Gunnison country in Colorado was opened up Burton withdrew from the firm and went to Gunnison where he opened a store in which G. N. was also interested. A few years later E. R. Moses, then only a young man came here and went to clerking in the Great Bend store and in a short time Mr. Odell retired, the firm becoming G. N. & E. R. Moses, which it remained until about ten years ago when G. N retired, E. R. buying his interest and naming the firm the E. R. Moses Mercantile Co., which it remains to this day. The firm saw many a bad year in the early days when settlers were few and crops were bad but it went ahead and carried many a man who is rich today but who would have been unable to have farmed at all but for this firm.

He served as mayor of the city three different times, in the 80's, and two terms in the nineties. During the Populists days he was the Republican nominee at one time for the legislature, but was defeated. He served as sheriff of the county several terms, principally in the early days and was the first sheriff of the county.

During the time the cattle trade was coming from Texas to Great Bend and before it shifted to Dodge City a Texas gun fighter became abusive and chased most of the citizens off the street while he ran the town. The marshal and assitant considered discretion the better part of valor and hid out to find G. N. while the gun fighter amused himself while sitting on his pony by shooting at the occasional citizen who showed in sight. G. N. was informed of the circumstance and telling the marshal to stay where he could come into the fight in case he was shot walked down the street and up to the Old Rome where the tough man was viewing the country. The man started swinging his gun hand towards G. N. when the latter spoke to him pleasantly enough and he stopped to see what was coming next. G. N. wasn't trying to pull a gun and still kept coming. It puzzled him. As the sheriff got near enough he reached up his hand as thought to shake hands and the next minute the gun man was off his pony and G. N.'s grip on his shoulder made him forget all his belligerency. G. N. turned him over to the marshal after a lecture on the matter of getting drunk and making a fool of himself and the gun man when turned loose made a bee line back to Texas where they didn't have sheriffs who were foolish enough to go around without drawing a gun on sight.

The town of Sargent, now Coolidge, was for a few months the toughest place in the west. It was when the Santa Fe construction camp was located there and the gamblers, painted women and thugs were robbing the several hundred


railroad laborers. One of the gamblers had some months before borrowed two hundred dollars from G. N. who pitied his condition and thought him a man of his word. G. N. while prospecting in the west heard of the town of Sargent and stopped there finding his man running a saloon. He broached the subject of being paid and the man who had joined the gang of ruffians running the town repudiated the debt and said he didn't intend to pay it. It made G. N. mad and he kicked him out of the place and took charge of the saloon himself. We believe that Jim Gainsford was with him at the time. The saloon man went out and gathered his gang and went back to fix G. N. The latter was ready and had Gainsford stationed behind the door. When the gang filed in G. N. trained two guns on them and invited them to get out and stay out. Gainsford was also there and they got. He ran the saloon for two days, took in $68 and then turned it back to the owner and said that he had collected the interest due at least. While in Sargeant he heard the story of an old man who had been robbed of his team by the gamblers. G. N.'s sympathy was aroused for the old man and going with the latter to the camp corral had the old man point out the team. They hitched it up and the old man started to drive out of the town. One of the gang saw the man on the front seat of the wagon and notified others of the gang and they started to take the team away from the old fellow. As they got up to the rig they found G. N. sitting on the back end of the wagon load, his needle gun across his knees and after expostulating a little gave up the claim to ownership of the rig and the old man drove out of town. G. N. accompanied him a little ways and then came back. They didn't care to tackle him. D. N. Heizer, then a surveyor for the Santa Fe related this story.

E. R. Moses tells a story of the time he went to Gunnison to visit his brother George. The town was really two towns divided by a vacant area and in this section there was a large lumber yard. G. N. lived across on the other side from the store. The first night of E. R.'s visit he waited until late at night to accompany G. N. home. The latter was counting up the money and placing it in a sack in his pocket when E. R. noticed a man peering in the window. He spoke to G. N. about the matter but he said he guessed it didn't amount to much. They started home and as they got to the lumber yard G. N. started on through his accustomed way instead of going around. He had given E. R. a gun to carry from the store and as they got in the lumber yard they noticed the two men standing back in the shadows. G. N. walked straight towards them with his gun ready for action and E. R. following with some trepidation. The man backed to one side and they passed on and were not molested. But that was enough of the wild Gunnison Country for E. R. and he returned home in a day or two.

Early day sheriffs had their own conceptions of the forms of law and one of the returns made by G. N. as first sheriff of the county is held as a treasure by a prominent state official into whose possession it passed some years ago. A horse theif came to Barton county and committed some depredations which resulted in a warrant being sworn out for his arrest. G. N. took the warrant and started north after the thief. Seventy-two hours later he returned to Great Bend late at night, without any rest from the time he had started, making the whole trip in the saddle. Getting in late at night, tired and worn out from the trip and nearly dead for want of sleep he went into the justice of the peace office and left the warrant writing across the same, "Received this warrant blank date and served same by shooting the ........." The facts of the story were that G. N. went to Hays City where he induced a comrade of the man wanted to confess that the man was in that part of the country and then taking his deputy rode out to cow camp where he found the man. As they rode over the hill and down towards the wagons the man they were after jumped up and grabbing a gun commenced shooting at them. A minute later he died suddenly and the trip home was begun. The cowboys heard the firing and started to investigate and threatened to kill the sheriff and his deputy. Thoroughly aroused now the sheriff sent the deputy back a little way, rode up to the cowboys and invited them to start the proceedings at once if they felt it necessary. They decided that monkeying with the law would be unpopular and the sheriff and deputy rode home.

From the trend of these stories it might appear that G. N. was of a tough order but his history is different. Men were men in those days and had hard work to perform but the testimony of his old comrades has always been that G. N. stood for the moral things and was himself a moral man.

The first time Ed Tyler, W. W. Hartshorn, Louis and Jerry Frey ever met G. N. Moses was on October 16th, 1871. They drove from Quincy, Ill, to this point. G. N. Moses, Hy and Jim Bickerdyke and John Tilton were camped on the ground where the Fair Building now stands. They had hauled a load of lumber from Russell on the U. P. railroad and built a shack by putting up some posts and built the shack like a tight board fence there being a room about the size square of the length of the board and had been added to until there were several rooms about, four. The Moses party were glad to meet them and allowed them the use of half the shack until they could do better. At that time there was no railroad and little money. There were plenty of buffalo and other game for meat, but there was little else to eat. The Hubbard store on the Walnut was the only one for miles, the next nearest being on the U. P. north, 45 miles, and nothing south or west. When the Quincy crowd arrived here G. N. Moses wore an army hat, shirt and coat


and buckskin pants and the others were clad something like G. N.

Up to that time there had been no buffalos killed about here for the hides only, as it would not pay to haul them to the U. P. for the price offered and there were very few horses to do the hauling. Later a good many cattle were used. However, buffalo hides were used for partitions in the shack and many other places for which they had no lumber. One day in the fall of 1871 G. N. Moses and Ed Tyler were sitting in a window of the old Southern hotel, situated where the Brinkman Bank is now situated. The hotel had not been finished at that time and even the frames in. They were looking down the trail toward Fort Zarah and they noticed something coming west. It was decided that it was not a man, a buffalo or a horse, but finally it developed that it was a man carrying an umbrella and when he arrived they found that it was Judge Tom Morton of Illinois. He was dressed in broadcloth, white shirt, collar and cuffs, blackened boots, in fact was in regular town style. He had come to Fort Zarah with a bunch of soldiers from the east. He stopped here with the camp and in a few days he had bought Ed Tyler's team, also another team for one of the Quincy party and suggested to G. N. Moses that they go out on a regular buffalo hunt. They left this point in December, 1871 and went to the southwest where the buffalo were plentiful and they got as far as the Medicine Lodge country before returning. From that time they made buffalo hunting a regular business and hundreds of hides were ready to ship from here when the Santa Fe railroad arrived. The first hunting party was composed of G. N. Moses, John Tilton, Hy Bickerdyke and Judge Morton. Messrs. Moses and Tilton continued it for a few days. Bickerdyke went west after a year or two and Judge Morton was a resident of Great Bend until the late seventies.

Moses and Tilton in those days had traveled over many miles of the west and before coming here they had first met in Colorado and traveled a foot over most of the country that has developed so well. From Colorado they came to about where Salina is and from there here. From the time they met in Colorado they have been bosom friends at all times. Prior to the time of the meeting of Moses and Tilton in Colorado Mr. Moses had gone from Sedalla, Mo., where he had been a peace officer after the war part of the time and was also a deputy United States marshal to Arizona and New Mexico where he spent some years looking over that country.


The names included in this list are those of people who resided in this county in the spring of 1872. The work of securing this information was done by D. N. Heizer who now resides at. Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was compulsory to get these names before the county could be organized. The following gives the name, age and a description of the land owned by each individual settler. Some of the names in this list are of people who have long since left this part of the county, but will be remembered by those who were here when the county was organized:

John Hartley, 38.
Henry Cogle, 20.
John W. Meltor, 27.
Myron S. VanPelt, 25.
David E. Benedict, 23.
Elvin R. Benedict, 22.
Arsula M. Benedict, 1.
Jul. P. Bissel, 24, sec. 10, se qr 19-13w.
Ella M. Bissel, 24.
Minnie Bissel, 4.
Anna Bissel, 2.
Cora Bissel, 1.
David A. Greever, 23. sec 34, nw qr 19 sr, 12w.
Samuel Davis, 21.
E. J. Dodge, 50, sec. 10, w. hf sw qr 19, sr 15w.
Elizabeth Dodge, 43.
W. Dodge, 24, se qr s 4.
Don Dodge, 22, sec. 10, e hf sw qr w hf se qr.
Jennie Dodge 17.
Lizzie Dodge, 15.
John Dodge, 13.
Maggie Dodge, 8.
Mary Dodge, 2.
Dave Dobson, 22.
Charles E. Dodge, 26, sec. 9, s qr (the writing at
this point in the list is obliterated.)
T. Scherzmyer, 22.
Ira Lake, 47.
A. C. Moses, 45, sec. 10 nw qr 19, sr 13 w.
Naomi A. Moses, 32, sec. 9, ne. qr 19 sr. 13 w.
Arthur Moses, 21, sec. 10, ne qr 19, sr. 13 w.
Clayton L. Moses, 19, sec. 9, nw qr 19 sr. 13 w.
Edward W. Moses, 16.
William A. Moses, 14.
Lincoln E. Moses, 11.
Cassius M. Moses, 7.
Seward E. Moses, 4.
Edward W. Dewey, 22 sec. 4, sw qr.
Hattie A. Dewey, 20.
Frank H. Dewey, 2.
William Dewey, 74.
Evan Thornburg, 44, sec. 4, 20-14 w.
Julia A. Thornburg, 32.
John S. Thornburg, 10.
William Thornburg, 1.
John McMullen, 35.
Lizzie McMullen, 32.
John McMullen, Jr., 13.
James McMullen, 4.
Benjamin McMullen, 3.

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