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


Hoisington Catholic Church


Shortly after the building of the M. P. R. R. Rev. Emmerich used to hold services at dirent houses in Hoisington. Later, Father Kelly of Hutchison attended and built the first church. It was afterwards supplied from Great Bend and has been visited by Fathers Podgorsek, Wirma, Schutz, Hermanns and O'Sullivan. The last named built a beautiful rectory and took up his residence in it six years ago. He has added to his great achievements by the erection of a $20,000 church, the grandest structure in the town.


EDWIN TYLER, one of the best known of Barton County's old timers, tells in his own way about the big blizzard that visited this section in 1871. "1 had been here but a short time and had but forty-five dollars in money, a second-class team, a ten dollar wagon, a good wife and three children. I had failed as a buffalo hunter and as that occupation offered about the only means of getting money, the outlook for me was anything but bright. However, I had come to Kansas for my health, and by the way was only one here for that purpose. I looked forward to better things. A few days after my arrival in Great Bend, Lute Morris said to me, 'you had better take a lot,' and he also stated that the terms would be one dollar down. He also added that I could build a house within sixty days. I selected a lot. About this time Judge Morton came with a pocket full of money and began to buy teams for buffalo hunting I sold him mine for $250.00. This money enabled me to build a little house and live until spring. Mr. Odell had a house on the Hess quarter 12 by 14 about a half mile east of the cemetery. The house had no floor and the walls were held together by bolts. He said to me that if I wanted to I could live in his house until spring as he was going back east. I moved what few things I had and myself and family took up our residence there. The weather had been fine up to that time, similar to other mild winters since. November 17, 1871, dawned bright and clear. Rube Frey went by the house that morning without his coat and asked me to go with him to Dry creek for a load or wood, but Mrs. Tyler was afraid of the Indians so I stayed at home. About nine o'clock the wind began to blow and I have never been in such a hazy atmosphere as that which surrounded us that morning. It grew colder and the wind grew worse, increasing every minute, and very soon I saw Rube Frey and team coming down the trail at a two-forty clip. He stopped at the house and came in to get warm. We began to crack jokes. He and I had served three years in the same regiment in the war and things had to look mighty blue if we could not joke a little. He soon departed for his house. Shortly after noon the sleet, snow, mist and hail struck us with great force. By three o'clock it became so dark that it was impossible to distinguish objects ten feet away. Myself and family huddled inside the house and looked at each other, being in no mood for conversation. We could not keep warm and


every minute expected the shanty to blow over, but the house had been securely fastened to posts sunk deep into the ground and had it not been for this fact I guess we would have been victims of the storm. Luckily my wife had brought along two feather beds and I had included in my pack a couple of tarpaulins such as are used in the army. With these we made a bed on the floor of the building and with all our clothes on prepared to retire. We were comfortable but frightened as the wind howled around the house and the storm grew in volume and violence. We ate very little that day and the next, spending most of the time in bed where we could keep warm. It grew mighty cold by the afternoon of the 18th, when the storm began to abate somewhat. On the morning of the 19th the sun rose bright and clear and the storm was over, but it was exceedingly cold. That storm is remembered by all who were here at that time as one of the worst in the history of this part of the state.


EDWIN TYLER tells about his experience in hunting the Monarchs of the Plains, during the early days of Barton County; "When I came to this part of the country buffalos and antelope roamed the prairies of Western Kansas in countless numbers. While coming through the central part of the state, nearly everybody we met this side of Emporia told us that tomorrow we would find buffaloes in plentiful numbers. At Atlanto in Rice County we were told that we would find them the next day on the Arkansas river. We were quite anxious to find them as we were hungry for some fresh meat. Our arms consisted of two double barrelled shot-guns, one of which had two hammers and the other but one. We had traded a dog for the one with a single hammer. We traveled late that night and camped in the sand hills. The next morning we got an early start. We soon encountered large numbers of antelope but we paid no attention to the mas it was buffaloes we were after. Soon after we had reached the Arkansas Valley we saw three old bulls crossing the trail a short distance ahead of us. Bill Hartshorn and I soon had our fastest horses unharnessed. We mounted them and with the reins in one hand and our guns in the other we charged on the game. As soon as we got within shooting distance we dismounted and prepared to fire. By this time the game was too far away for our arms. We made three charges on the animals and finally gave up in disgust and decided to postpone our feast of buffalo meat. A few days after our arrival at a point where Great Bend now stands, D. N. Heizer invited me to go with him and a party up Dry Creek where he was going to locate the party on a homestead. When we arrived where Tom Brandt lived. Heizer told me I could take my gun and go up the creek where I would find plnty of game. He told me to keep near the brush on the creek, and I could get near enough to the game to make my shots effective. He told me to shoot a buffalo just behind the fore leg to get the best results. I obeyed all his orders but saw no game until I arrived at a point that is now a part of Chas. Button's home place. Here I saw three buffalo bulls standing not twenty feet away, their heads partly hidden by the brush. I could make no attempt to raise my gun, nothing going up except my hair and heart. I ducked down low and sneaked back to where I could climb a tree on an instant's notice. My nerve finally rturned and I crept up close to the animals, aimed at the point designated by Mr. Heizer and pulled the trigger. Then, I ran for the tree I had selected to climb. When I was up about ten feet from the earth I looked back expetting to find a dead buffalo. However I finally located all three of them some mile and a half away. They were in behind some plum bushes. Made another stealthy advance but they were on the lookout and long before I got within shooting distance they ran towards the river as fast as they could go and I never saw them again.[sic]

"My next experience was with a genuine old buffalo hunter, John W. Tilton. One day he proposed to me that we go to the Five Mile Timber to get a load of wood. He took a 22 calibre revolver and I took an ax. We had no thought of finding any buffal; but as my reputation had suffered in the hunting line I was rather in hopes that something would happen so that I could distinguish myself. As we were driving around a sand hill where Clayt and Ed Moses have their cattle sheds we spied a buffalo cow. John stopped the team and sneaked up behind the hill until he was within twenty feet of the animals. He then began firing the pistol. The cow dropped and we found on examination that she had been shot through the lungs and shoulders. The animal had no more than touched the ground when John was on top of her and was holding her down by the horns, while he called to me to bring the ax. I had lost the ax in the excitement and was looking for a tree. I found one but after John had coaxed and pleaded with me for some time, I took the ax to him, and then returned to my tree. It took John but a short time to kill and skin the buffalo. I then remarked to him that we had done very well. And you should have seen the look on his face when 1 said 'We.' I often wanted to go with the hunters after that but none of them seemed to want my company.

"A short time after 'we' had killed that buffalo cow, Mr. and Mrs. Hartshorn and my wife and I started out to visit the neighbors in our


vicinity. I took my gun and two Shepherd dogs with us. I had forgotten that my wife had trained those dogs so that they would drive cattle, sheep, etc., in any direction that might be indicated by a wave of the hand. We had driven but a short way when we saw a buffalo lying in the grass. I crawled up to within about a hundred yards of it when all of a sudden my wife motioned to the dogs, and they ran by me like shot out of a gun. They ran around the buffalo and it started for me with the dogs in pursuit. I beat it back to the wagon slightly in the lead. After running around the wagon twice I got together enough courage to turn and shoot at the animal. I sent about a dozen buck shot into it and at last I could say i had killed a buffalo. It has always been a wonder to me that I did not shoot the dogs instead of the buffalo.


By A. J. Hoisington

ONE of the best known old timers tells of an Indian battle that was fought by the Pawnees and Arapahoes on ground that is now included within the borders of Barton County, long before it was organlzed. The story as told by Mr. Hoisington is as follows:

"One of the numerous battles between bands of Plains tribes, within the memory of and known to white men occurring within the limits of Barton County was one fought in July, 1849, on sections eleven, one and two, in northeast Buffalo township and on sections thirty-four, thirty-five and thirty-six in southeast Eureka township, between a band of Arapahoes and Pawnees.

"As related by a writer of the old Santa Fe Trail the story or the battle as told to him by the Arapahoes was substantially as follows:

"The Arapahoes had traveled down the Walnut from the far west on a hunting expedition and were in camp on the south or west side of the creek, opposite Shaw's house on section eleven over night. The next morning a part of the bucks were left to guard the squaws and pappooses, and the remainder started in a northeasterly direction for the Cheyenne Bottoms. Gaining the highlands, a band of Pawnees suddenly came into view. The Arapahoes dispatched a messenger to their camp for re-enforcements and to have the camp prepared for attack. In the meantime the Pawnees dashed forward while the Arapahoes made for the high point on section twelve. The former evidently supposed the latter's force was all in sight and hastened onward. In the meantime the Arapahoes re-enforced were rapidly coming into view from the creek timber. The Pawnees apparently hoped to attack their enemy and route those who had retreated behind the hill before the others could arrive. The Pawnees divided their band and deployed around the hill to attack the enemy from both east and west. The first onset was terrific. Several warriors on both sides were killed or disabled. The re-enforcing party soon arrived and the Pawnees retreated to the north side of the hill where they hoped to make a stand and allow the Arapahces to attack them in turn as they had done the former a few minutes before. But the Pawnees were so closely pursued that with great difficulty they placed themselves in a position for the attack. Each band maneuvered for position, but the Pawnees were outclassed and sorely pushed. Thinking they had the fleetest ponies they attempted—knowing where their enemies' camp was located—to turn their western flank and make a dash for the camp. In this way they were partly successful but were crowded so far north and west they were not able to make a bee line for the camp. Besides the Arapahoes knowirg their design crowded towards their own camp attacking all the while. The Pawnees were getting very much the worst of the deal and were forced to scatter and make for the timber in the upper bend of the creek. So hard pushed were they that no two of them reached the timber at the same time. The ones nearest the camp were a mile or more west. At a safe distance from the timber the pursuing Arapohoes made for their camp which of course by this time was in motion down the creek on the south side. Fearing a renewal of the attack, and probably with re-enforcements besides the Arapahoes moved southward to the Arkansas river where they camped unmolested for several days. Evidently the Pawnees had no other force of warriors in reach or the desire for revenge would have caused another attack. The Arapahoes claimed afterwards that they took the scalps of the Pawnees and that the Pawnees got 'heap little scalp.' The Arapahoes claimed their own band had altogether about 100 warriors besides squaws and pappooses and the Pawnees had about sixty. Many other engagements of this kind some of them having hundreds engaged occurred in what is now Barton County. Scarcely an acre of ground in the county but that has at some time been the scene of battle between warring tribes of Indians.



WM. SOWARDS tells of early days in Union township when water was a most valuable possession. Mr. Sowards in telling the story said:

"I located a soldier claim in what is now Union township in September, 1877. Thtre were but four settlers there at that time. There were tree claims taken in most of the sections and in July, 1878 the township was organized out of territory taken from Homestead township. There were fifty-eight voters at that time, a large majority of whom were ex-soldiers. This fact was the cause of name 'Union' being selected. All the settlers except three or four were natives of America and came from Iowa and Illinois. The township is located on what is known as the Smoky River Divide. The lack of water in this was its greatest drawback. Shallow wells could not be gotten only in the creek beds, at other places one would have to go several hundred feet into the ground and as a result of this it was necessary to haul water in wagons.

"On one occasion Fred Prindle had four barrels of water slide out of his wagon when going up a small hill and the thermometer was twenty below zero thus making the conditions anything but favorable for prayer. Another time when the value of water was brought forcibly to the notice of another settler, a man by the name of Williams, when be spilled three barrels of water when his wagon upset, after bringing the liquid five miles with oxen. Another time Jay Verbeck fell into a well while bailing water for cattle. The mercury stood at zero when this cccurred. Very few of the old settlers who suffered these hardships are now living in the township, most of them having gone to places where there is more water. Those were great days in the history of Barton County."


HENRY FRUIT, an old timer of this section of the state recalls his arrival here and tells of a trip to Dodge City in the early days. Mr. Fruit says:

"I landed in Great Bend on the 12th day of March, 1872, and found here some old friends from my native state, Illinois. I was well pleased with the appearance of the country, and on the 13th, my brother-in-law, W. W. Hartshorn and I started out to locate a claim. We had no trouble in finding a good location, and after I had made the necessary improvements to hold it, I began to look for a job and let it be known that if anybody wanted a carpenter I was their huckleberry. I did not wait long for there was one Harry Lovett, then living in Zarah, about four miles east of Great Bend, who wanted a frame work put inside his big wall tent, so he was sent to me. To tell the truth I did not fancy the job a great deal. I had heard of Mr. Lovett and did not fancy his style, for a short time before he had pumped a cowboy full of lead and then finished him by beating his brains out with a revolver. Knowing all of this I began to make excuses, but he would not hear them: "D—n it," he said, "I want the work done," he said it as though he meant it too. Remembering the fate of the cowboy I concluded to go. I got through with the desperado in two days and got seven fifty for my work, and got back to Great Bend O. K. By the middle of May the cattle trade began to blossom, buildings began to loom up, houses, stores, barns, saloons, and dance halls were to be seen at frequent intervals and carpenters were in good demand, so i had plenty of work at my trade until about the middle of August. The word soon went out that Great Bend was a haven for carpenters and by the first of August there were more carpenters here than there are fiddlers in Helena or anywhere else. There being more carpenters than jobs I concluded to try my hand at buffalo hunting. Mr. Frost, W. H. Quincy, or "Tough" as he is better known and myself, started for the buffalo range about twenty miles south of Dodge City, where we heard there were thousands of buffaloes. We had no adventure to speak of until the second day out, when we stopped to feed and get our dinners. Just after dinner there was a big flock of buffalo birds lit in some weeds along the trail, and Frost said to Quincy, "if you will let me have your shotgun I'll bet you a quarter I can kill fifty of them birds at one shot." The bet was made. Frost fired into the bunch and such a slaughter I never saw. He picked up and counted 136 and was not through when we happened to look southward and there we saw something that caused us to pause and our hair to stand up. It was about 150 men on horseback coming straight for our camp. We at once jumped to the conclusion that it was a bunch of hostile Indians for we heard they were on the warpath. The party was too far off for us to tell exactly what they were but we imagined we could see the paint on their faces and the feathers on their heads, so what were we to do? We were too far from Fort Dodge to think of making there, they would overtake us before we had covered half the distance, so we concluded to drive about a half mile north of a hill covered with loose stone and build a fort, and then sell our lives as dearly as possidle. We had two needle guns. By this time the front of the line had reached the river and the horses were drinking leisurely. By this time we were ready to


start and the horsemen were at the river. We looked again, and oh; joy, our hearts gave a great bound and our hair began to settle down for we saw coming out from the sand hills a covered wagon drawn by four mules, and just behind it two men on horses, one of them carrying an American flag. We knew at once no band of Indians would be carrying Old Glory nor would they have a covered wagon. I never was so glad in my life to see the American flag, for I knew no harm could come to us from that source. Now to explain why Uncle Sam's cavlary was out. It was not for the purpose of scaring the life out of three hunters."

"Two or three nights before a gang of horse thieves mostly white men, stampeded about fifty horses and mules, belonging to a railroad contractor, then working about five miles west of Dodge City. The commander at Fort Dodge had sent out two companies of cavalry after the thieves. They caught them in the brakes of Medicine Lodge river, re-captured the stock and killed some of the bandits. When we saw them they were on their way back with the stolen stock. We started on our journey mighty glad that we had escaped alive, having forgotten about the bet Frost won. We got to the old government crossing about one mile west of Dodge City, and found old Bob Robinson, a buffalo hunter of great fame. We found a great deal of water in the river at this point. Robinson and a man from Ellsworth doubled their teams and got across the river. We tried it alone and got across O. K. We found the buffalo by the thousands at the heads of Mulberry and Indian creeks. We succeeded in killing about 200 in ten days, after which we started on the return trip. When we got to the river it was much lower but we had to make several trips in order to get our loads across. At Dodge we traded our green hides for dry ones and camped for the night about a mile east of the city. About three o'clock in the morning we were awakened by somebody galloping across the prairie, the moon was about two hours high and we could see quite plainly. Frost raised to see what it was. I asked him "what do you see?" He replied, "two men on horseback." They stopped near our horses and one of them dismounted, and I heard Frost say, "Halt, hold on there, what do you want?" and in the same breath he whispered, "Bob, they have your horses." Bob said, "shoot the son-of-a-gun," and the crack of Frost's rifle broke the stillness of the midnight air. This was followed by several shots in quick succession. By this time the would-be horse thieves began to think it was getting mighty hot, for they mounted their ponies, and ran for their lives. They had cut the rope tied to Bob's horses, and were making off with them when we called a halt. They made a water haul that time. We got to Great Bend without any more adventures and sold our hides for $1.15 each and that was the end of my first buffalo hunt, but it was not the last one."


By John F. Lewis

BARTON COUNTY, KANSAS, is a moderate undulating landscape affording more high class tillable land in proportion to its acreage than any county in the state, except possibly two or three counties.

The slight swells and valleys afford excellent natural drainage, and a view over the country that is delightful. Commencing in the north part of the county the entire distance east and west, and north and south is typical vheat land, out of the vast plains of buffalo grass once traversed by buffalo, but now dotted with beautiful groves of trees, elegant farm huses and barns, with good natural roads for vehicles and the honk honk of the farmers' automobile may be heard any hour of the day. The soil is a dark chocolate loam, enriched by the silts deposited by thousands of years of water overflow in the glacial period and from the Rocky Mountains. As we go south we encounter the breaks leading into the valleys of Blood and Deception creeks, where appears the croppings of lime and sandstone in sufficient quantities to afford the people with building material, which are in evidence in the many stone houses, barns and corrals.

The earth has not been penetrated to sufficient depth or of such frequency to venture upon much of a geological showing of its formation, however one well sunk within four miles of Great Bend discovered a bed of merchantable rock salt 163 feet in thickness.

The lime stone disappears south of Blood creek, some five miles north of the center of the county, and now comes the various hues of sand-stone that exists in sufficient quantity to supply the demand, which continues until the Walnut creek is reached running from east to west, a little south of the center of the county, where is found a rich deep black soil equal to the richest prairie soil of Illinois or Iowa, where alfalfa is successfully grown without irrigation, and where sheet water abounds at a depth from the surface of the ground that no drouth or heat diminishes the supply for man or beast, nor has the time ever been in this county that

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