The Buckman Story

Submitted by Nan Wolf (, Great-Granddaughter of the Sarah Earsley Buckman mentioned in the story below.  She was born in KY, then lived in Bourbon Co., Kansas from 1857 to 1864 before emigrating with her family to Arizona in 1864.

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We are a family of Pioneer Blood and dauntless spirit, who in 1864, came west by covered wagon train.

Our mother, Josephine Buckman Teague, who was born Oct. 31, 1852, was proud of this heritage and felt the history should be preserved for future generations.

She sat down one day, and with her sister, Sarah Earsley Buckman Hinds, to assist her memory, she related the highlights of the trip as she remembered them.

The following is the story.  "Reminiscence of the Emigrant Trail" as it was told to me, Hazel Teague Woods (Longacre) in the year 1933.

The Josephine Buckman Teague Story

Going back to the time when my father, Clement Everman Buckman, was a boy, we find him living with his parents near the Ohio River in Kentucky.  I believe his father was a farmer.  I know he cut cord wood and sold it to the steam boats that went up and down the river.  I do not remember my grandparents.

When my father became of age he had the pioneering spirit that calls man to the big outdoors.  He took up farming for his livelihood.

Feeling it necessary to have a helpmate to successfully go forward on Life's broad way, he married Sevilla Ann Shanks.  While still on the farm in Kentucky, they were the proud parents of six children, (two of them, however died in infancy) leaving the four of us; Susan Elizabeth, Andrew Jasper, Sarah Earsley, and myself, Mary Josephine.

When I was two and a half years old, my father's feet began to itch and he felt the urge to make a Westward move.  He sold his farm in Kentucky and moved with his family to Bourbon County, Kansas, where he sought land, and again established a home.

Here the house was made of logs cut from a forest nearby of Hickory and Walnut.  It was built near the bank of the Marmaton River.  While this river did not run all the time, there was one deep place where there was always plenty of water.  Here we could always find fish to try our luck in fishing.  Those were the "good old days" when there was plenty of game; deer, wild turkeys, prairie chickens, quail, and gray squirrels.  My father and brother Andrew were very fond of hunting, so we were always well supplied.

We also had domestic animals, including a few sheep to furnish the wool my mother used to make our winter clothes; jeans for the men and linsey for the girls.  I often wonder how one little woman like my mother could accomplish all the work she did, in those days.  The cooking for the large family had to be done by the fireplace as we had no stove until I was eight years old.  We had no sewing machine so all the sewing for the family was done by hand.  Another handicap was the lighting system.  At this time we knew nothing of electric lights or lamps.  We made our own candles by dipping strings in tallow and letting it dry.

One day father went to Fort Scott and came home with a coal-oil lamp.  We were almost afraid to light it.  Finally father put it on the hearth and we all stood way back until he had it lighted!

On this ranch, my father raised corn, pumpkins, and melons.  After the first two years he raised wheat also.  After the corn was about as high as our heads, it was the children's task to take hoes and go through it, and plant the pumpkins.  Father would give us the seeds and we were to plant until all the seeds were gone.  Sometimes we grew tired.  One year we got so tired planting that my brother, Andrew (or Ab) said he knew we had enough planted to feed the hogs and cattle for the winter, so he dug a deep hole in the ground and put all the seeds there were left, in the hole.  He put some dirt in and tramped it in hard, then some more dirt and more tamping, until the hole was all covered up and the seed securely planted.  Crime will out--- but anyway we didn't tell father until years later, after we were grown up, and it was too late, then, to wield the rod.

Now there was to be a break in the family routine.  The "War of the Rebellion" was on and father joined a company of home guards and was away from home most of the time for two years until he was mustered out.

Looking out across the Western horizon, another soul longed for the freedom that was beckoning -- across the plains -- across the river -- across the mountains - to the land of wealth and happiness, so in 1864, father sold his farm, bought cattle and a few horses and in the Spring, all plans were made for the Westward Ho!

What excitement there was as the wagons began lining up for the journey.  The members of our family -- father and mother, Andrew, Josephine, Sarah, Margaret and Clem..  My married sister, Susan, and her husband, John Teague (with horse drawn wagon); my father's brother, John (or Cook) Buckman and his family; two families of our near neighbors and a lot of other emigrants who joined us for protection from the Indians and for company.

There were nearly one hundred wagons in all.  A few of these were horse-drawn, mostly ox teams.  Then, there were the loose cattle and horses to be driven.

Any group, in order to progress, must have a leader, so father was chosen Captain and the train was on its way.  A number of the neighbors accompanied us on horseback for several days -- helping get the stock used to beings driven on the trail, and to bid us goodby and "Good Luck."

Here we severed our last ties with our old home, starting forward with the undaunted courage of the Early Pioneers to that castle of dreams; never doubting but that all was waiting for us when we would reach our journey's end.

Father's aim was Arizona.  There, he could take up land and, with his cattle and horses, he could soon have the home he wished for.

For days we steadily moved Westward, traveling by day and when night came, we would make a circle of the wagons to form a corral for the cattle and horses, and also as a protection in case of an attack by the Indians.  A sentinel was left on duty to give the warning if there were any indications of danger; and the weary travelers were grateful that it was time to hunt their improvised cots for a night of peaceful slumber under the white canvas tops of the covered wagons, in the vastness of the desert country, roofed by the twinkling stars above.

My sister, Sarah, and I were two who always welcomed a stop.  We had to ride horseback and help drive the cattle all day.  At break of day, the caravan was well awake, breakfast made, horses and cattle tended to, and on schedule, the train was given the signal to again hit the trail.

Now we were nearing the Indian country.  We had heard how sometimes the Indians would rush in and cause a stampede of the cattle and horses.  We had five or six span of horses.  These we harnessed up and hooked them together with a long rope.  With Sarah at one end and me at the other, we led them all through that stretch of country where we were warned to be on the lookout.

There seemed to be little need for fear, however, as we had no trouble at all from Indians.  There were a few that came up in the distance but made no move to disturb us.

We traveled steadily a few days and then we would look  for a good camp with plenty of water and feed for the stock.  At these camps we would rest a few days and give the women time to do the washing and baking and get our covered wagon housekeeping done up.

One incident that stands out clearly in my mind, just one of those little things that happen.  I remember one woman became angry at something and sat down and refused to get in the wagon when we were ready to start.  She couldn't be left on the desert, so one of the men had to start after her in earnest with a horse whip.  she then decided it would be the better policy to change her mind, so she climbed in the wagon and was willing to proceed.

The desert is a lonely place to think of entering by one's self, and father was sorry to find it necessary, but one man traveling with the train who just had his own horse and saddle, proved to be a traitor, and, after trial and found guilty, he was turned from the train and headed out across the plains.  There was a trading post not many miles away and father felt sure he would be able to reach that and find shelter.

We now came to the Rio Grand River. This we must cross. It was a large river and deep in places and father had to be very careful of the crossing. Men went on horse-back, back and forth and up and down the river. We also took a wagon into the river with a man on either side to test for holes and quicksand and treacherous currents. Here father almost lost his life. He was Captain and where he said to cross, the train would follow. Lives were at stake in this venture into the stream, so he had to be sure. So to test the currents for himself, he started to swim across the river. He was a good swimmer but he went in, in his underwear and they became burdensome and he barely escaped being drowned.

The Ford was selected and the task of crossing was begun. The water was deep so we had to raise the wagon beds by lifting them up and putting the Ox yokes under them to make them high enough to clear the water. Several oxen were hooked to one wagon and, one by one, they were drawn safely across, although there was shrieking and screaming from some of the frightened women. I remember they had to hold Uncle Cook's girl in the wagon. She was nervous and tried to jump out. This was quite an incident in the trip, as it took three days just to cross the Rio Grande.

The days were beginning to be very long for Mother, and nights of rest, welcome. One day, the train was forced to make a hurried dry camp. Here, way out miles from nowhere, a new little emigrant joined our train in the wee, wee person of John Everman Buckman.

The next day, they carried Mother on a cot and put her in the wagon and we slowly made our way to a good camp with water where we stayed for some time until she was able to travel comfortably.

Again we took the trail, traveling on until we reached the Rocky Mountains. The weather was changing and dark clouds gathered quickly. It began to rain. We came to a little stream and started across. The water started to rise. One wagon was safely over, but by the time the second one was in mid-stream, it was running a torrent and we had great trouble trying to get it through.

Here again the water almost took one of our family. My brother, Andrew, came near being drowned, trying to help get the wagon out of the river. We spent that night with a divided train--two wagons on one side of the stream and the balance on the other. It cleared as quickly as it became stormy and by morning, the water had passed by and the rest were able to go on across.

Some of our train, having heard of the marvelous country in Oregon, had chosen that as their goal. Bidding us good-bye, there was a parting of the ways and they headed out the Northern trail to Oregon, leaving our train much smaller to continue on our journey.

Day after day, the cloud of dust raised and floated away. Day after day, the routine of riding horse-back and driving cattle, making camp, cooking, eating, and sleeping continues. And "Old Granny" continued to groan! "Old Granny" was my horse generally. And how I hated to ride her. When we would stop, she would put her right fore foot forward, stretch out her old frame, turn her head skyward and groan! But she would get there, just the same.

Four or five months in a group of this many would be a disappointment without a little romance. Traveling westward with their parents who had visions of a home and plenty ahead, the boy., Bill, and the girl, Susana, beneath the desert moon began to lay their plans for their own little nest. Why not begin now for themselves, take up their own land and grow in this new country independent of mother and dad? So at one of the trading posts there was a Clergyman and they were married, joining hands in the quest for home and happiness.

One place we stopped, there was a big hole. We called it "Jacob's Well". It was about half a mile wide and so deep that the men looked very small when they had gone down to the bottom where there was water. We learned afterwards that this well was made by a meteor as it struck earth.

On we moved again and all was well. And now we reached Prescott, Arizona. As we had planned to locate somewhere in this part of the country we tried to make somewhat comfortable camps. Sister Susan and her husband had a tent, and here in this little canvas home, the stork again made his appearance and Susan's first child, Anna was born.

One night the man on guard tied his horse to a tree and then sat down and leaned against the same tree and fell asleep. The Indians took advantage of this chance and stole his horse from right at his head and drove off several head of cattle.

These were later recovered with the exception of one they killed. I do not remember how long we stayed at Prescott, but it was until they located the camp at Fort Rock (two large rocks that had been named. "Fort Rock") where we expected to make our future home.

Not far from Fort Rock, the government had men stationed building roads The Indians didn't want these roads built and were rather hostile because of this progress being made by the White Man.

Father expected this to be our home and he wanted a good house, so he made it of rock. He built it with ---- holes way up near the ceiling so it would be a good fort in case of an attack by the Indians.

While the house was being built, we were camped between the two big rocks. One old Indian used to catch mice and bring them in to our camp fire and cook and eat them there. He like his mice, but we were so hungry for sweets! I remember while we were in camp, mother kept her sugar on a flat rock and we used to climb out of bed and go and steal some of it.

Here is where the Wallapi tribe of Indians hung around a lot. One big fellow, (I don't know if he was a chief or not), but he used to go out and talk and talk to the other Indians about the White Man taking their land and game.

We always had to be watching for there were some Indians that would steal the cattle and horses, but the Indian chief said they were "bad Indians" and if one of them was killed when stealing cattle, they were just left where they fell. He wouldn't claim them as his tribe.

Our source of supplies was at Prescott, but father would go to the Navaho camp sometimes for flour. One time he had trouble with the Indians and one old Indian saved his life. The Indians were making smoke signals and Old Indian, Snort, who was with father, knew from the signals that they intended to kill him. They were angry because he was the first white man to cross the new road. Snort went back and forth between the Indians, arguing with them until finally they agreed to let father go, if he would go back the way he came and not cross the new road.

I was always the nurse girl, and one day I went up where father was building our new house and was taking care of two of the babies. We were playing around the new house when the old Indian, who used to cook his mice at our camp, drew his bow and arrow at me. I remember how frightened I was. I took the littlest child in my arms and the other by the hand and ran back to camp!

I don't know if he meant any harm or was just trying to scare me, but after that he never came back to cook any more mice.

The men built a good corral to keep the cattle in at night. There was timber close by and they cut down small trees and dug a trench and stood the trees up endways close together to make the corral.

The men never went outdoors without a pistol on them. Father used to say the last thing he took off at night was his pistol and the first thing he put on in the morning was his pistol. It was always by his bed during the night.

Father seemed to be a natural leader. He had no arguments or trouble with the crowd and everyone liked him.

We had a man to herd the cattle during the day time. He saw some of the Indians try to steal the cattle and he shot one of them. They slipped in among the cattle and then all raised up at once and tried to stampede them. It was then he began to shoot. They drove the cattle off. He came to the camp all excited after he shot this Indian. He said he knew he had another bullet and he couldn't find it. The Indians were driving the cattle away before his very eyes and he couldn't find the bullet and he got so mad that he opened his mouth to swear and the bullet dropped out.

There were only two men at the camp at the time as the others were out trying to find horses the Indians had stolen. Ab and Thad, a cousin, and the Irish cattle herder were trying to follow the cattle. They could still hear the bells. Finally they found them. The Indians had evidently been frightened away as our men kept firing their guns as they followed. The cattle were very tired. They had been driven hard. The three drove them back to camp with no further interference.

A little later a very unfortunate thing happened. The Indians had stolen John Teague's stallion. He was very valuable horse. The men were out at the government soldier's camp and the Indian Chief was there and the men were talking about the horse and trying to get him to have them bring him back. The soldiers were drinking and got into a row and killed old Snort, who was very friendly and who had saved Father's life. The Chief was also fatally wounded at this time by the drunken soldiers, and while he was dying he raised up on his elbows and shot the soldier who had killed some of the Indians in this row, seriously wounding him. We took the wounded man to the house and he finally died and we buried him there.

This made the Indians mad because their Chief had been killed and they went on the war-path. Before the soldiers had killed these Indians, the Old Chief would not bury any of the Indians that were killed for stealing cattle. After the Chief was killed, the Indians then said that was too much and they would not stand any more, so they buried all their dead Indians and were immediately very unfriendly.

After this trouble, Father said that this was no place to raise a family so he sold the cattle. Father's brother, Uncle Cook, didn't leave with us so he took our house. We packed up and again took to the road on our way to California. I don't remember just how long we were on the road making this trip. I know we ferried across the Colorado River and crossed the desert and landed in San Bernardino where we stayed for some time. My brother-in-law found work there and stayed for quite a while after we left for Tulare County.

While we were in San Bernardino, we found a fellow who had some land near what was known as Venice, Tulare County. We had a few horses and father traded a span of horses for this place.

When we got there we had just enough cash to buy one hundred pounds of flour, and father gave half of that to Jim Guthrie because they had none at all. The men immediately started out to hunt a job. This was in the Spring. They found a fellow who had some grain to be harvested. They took the job of cutting it with scythes. After all that work they were unable to collect their money. We stayed on this place a while and finally father bought the place that proved to be our "Little Old Home in the West."

---------------------------. The girls were all married now, Sarah to Arch Y. Hinds, Margaret to Jasper Harlow; Josephine to Logan Teague, and brother Andrew was married to Andrewella McCutcheon.

Then father died, leaving mother with three boys to raise and take care of. Everman and Enoch had finished grammar school and were farming on the ranch, driving a team of horses. All at once Ene stopped and turned to Ev. "I am going to throw this thing down. I am going to strike for the educational line. I am going to study and go to teaching."

Ev. said, "If you are, I am going to, too!". They unhitched the team right there and went in and talked it over with mother. They figured it out how they could make arrangements to study. That was the last of their farming. They secured their education and turned to teaching, which proved to be their life's work. Being very popular, Everman was elected superintendent of Schools for Tulare County and Enoch was chosen later as his assistant. Thus for years they worked together hand in hand, until Ene was called from the ranks of earthly toilers.

The last three boys were married while still young men--Clement to Irene Combs; Everman to Nellie Vorhees, and Enoch to Adda Van Loan.

From this one family that made its way across the plains, enduring hardships that we would think unbearable, there were seventy descendants represented at our annual family picnic, the third Sunday in May, May 21st, 1933, the year this was written.


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