1901 History of Republic County Kansas

A history of Republic County, Kansas : embracing a full and complete account of all the leading events in its history, from its first settlement down to June 1, '01 ... Also the topography of the County ... and other valuable information never before published. by I. O. Savage.; Illustrated. Published by Jones & Chubbic, Beloit, KS : 1901. 321 p. ill., plates, ports., fold. map ; 23 cm. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward, July 2006.

History of Republic County. 41

the others in the south part of Richland. John Swan came in the fall of 1867, Joe Long and Ira McIntyre in the fall of 1868.

The nearest post-office at that time was Haddam, in Washington county, ten miles distant from this settlement. In the spring of 1868, an office was established at Cuba, and Z. P. Rowe appointed postmaster. This was the second post-office established in Republic county.

John Harris was the first reporter of agricultural statistics from the county, reporting to the Commissioner of Agriculture at Washington for the years 1868 and 1869. He was also one of the first board of county commissioners, being appointed by Gov. Crawford in September, 1868. The Indians were not troublesome in this neighborhood, but confined their operations to the settlements farther west.

On the 15th of May, 1867, Thomas Register and his two sons, Job and Robert, and one daughter, made a settlement on Rose creek, in what is now Rose Creek township. This was the first settlement attempted in the northeastern portion of the county. During the summer of 1867, serious apprehensions of an Indian raid were anticipated, so much so that Mr. Register and family, and a few other settlers, left their claims and went some miles down the creek into Nebraska, where, in company with the settlers of that region, they erected a stockade or fort, and where they remained for several weeks. Thomas and Robert are dead and Job has removed from the county.



It is an undisputed fact that during its early settlement no part of Kansas suffered more severely from Indian raids and depredations than the Solomon, Republi-

42 History of Republic County.

can and White Rock Valleys. The pioneer settlers were disturbed by them with more or less frequency for nearly ten years.

During the war, and even as far down as 1869 and 1870, the settlers were almost constantly harassed by the Indians, their crops destroyed, cattle and horses driven off, and occasionally a settler butchered.

We are indebted to A. B. Whiting, formerly of Clay county, but now living in Topeka for the following account of an Indian massacre committed in Republic county, near the present town site of Republic City, in the year 1857, nearly four years prior to the first settlement of the county.

The overland emigration to California and Oregon in 1857 was immense. During May and June in that year, the trails leading westward across Kansas were crowded with the trains and herds of the emigrants. So heavy was the travel on the old Mormon trail leading northwest from Fort Riley, that for many days it moved in three or four parallel columns. This rush of stock led some few trains to try the new route, barely marked by a government train in 1855, up the Republican valley, but soon to be opened and bridged between Forts Riley and Kearney, as the chance for grass was much better by this route.

A party of twenty-five men, women and children, from Arkansas, with eight wagons, four hundred head of stock, and some few saddle horses took this route; and early in June passed by the frontier settlements, and traveled leisurely up the Republican valley, now an ocean of grass, dotted with the bright spring flowers.

Ignorant of the dangers of the route, and reveling in the abundance of game and fish which this route afforded, and improving the opportunity to recruit stock and teams before they should reach the regions of scanty forage, they were loath to leave the beautiful, happy valley. The watchful eyes of the savages were upon them; and their neglect of setting guards and enforcing semi-military discipline soon revealed to the indians, who were dogging the train,

History of Republic County. 43

that it could be surprised and robbed with small danger to the attacking party.

The train camped for the last time in the valley at that point in Republic county where the old Military road left the Republican and struck across the prairie for the Little Blue, more than one hundred miles from Fort Riley. This point was at, or near, the present site of Republic City. Just as the train was hitching up to roll out of camp in the early morning, the Indians charged, shouting through the train and shooting in every direction, to stampede the stock and drive the owners from the train. All was disorder and confusion, and little resistance was made. They fled from the train, many of them just as they arose from their beds. Smith, the captain and largest owner, in attempting to escape on a horse, was shot, his body stripped of valuables, and mutilated in a shocking manner.

Four of the men in the train were killed, others wounded, one young woman very seriously. But plunder, not blood, was the object of the Indians; and, as soon as the whites left the train, they left them to their fate and ransacked the wagons. A keg of whiskey found among the loading, soon had the whole band engaged in a drunken revel; but, while the emigrants saw from the hills the Indians drunk to helplessness, they dared not attempt to recapture the train.

Their drunken orgies over, the Indians loaded their ponies from the train. The wagon covers were stripped off, sacks of flour, meal and dried fruit were poured on the ground that the bags might be carried away, the clothing packed on the ponies, and, driving the herd of stock, they started for their camp — wherever that might be.

The events of after years satisfied the settlers in the Republican valley that this robbery was committed by the Pawnees, nominally, friendly, but ever ready to rob and murder when they thought it would be charged up to the Siouxs, Cheyennes, and other hostile tribes on the plains.

44 History of Republic County.

Meanwhile, the emigrants turned away from the train without food, or means of procuring it; with half the men in the party killed, including the captain; with several children, the wounded woman to care for, and ninety miles from the settlement — were in danger of starvation.

Two men started for help. Without food or rest, and almost dead from exhaustion, they reached the settlement in three days, coming to the house of Moses Yonkin, in eastern Clay county. The settlement was very small, few horses were in the country, and a sack of flour was very hard to find; but as soon as a team could be got together, bullets run, and provisions found, Moses and Wm. Yonkins and A. B. Whiting started up the valley, while word was sent to Fort Riley asking for help, and the country was scoured to follow those on the way; but so scarce were horses, that in twenty miles only three could be found for the trip. And now the relief party began to meet the emigrants in bands of twos and more, the strongest first, as they straggled toward the settlement, but so scared, crazed and bewildered that they fled and hid away from the friends who were bringing them relief. The sixth day after the attack the relieving party found the last of the emigrants about thirty miles from the scene of the butchery. An old white-headed woman, her long hair streaming in the wind, almost borne on the shoulder of her son, he fainting from the wound of a poisoned arrow that afterwards caused his death, having on his other arm a couple of old muskets, and a fire brand in his hand, both haggard, dirty, bloody and wild — they presented a spectacle once seen never to be forgotten. And when the certainty of help and relief came to them, their utter prostration and helplessness told, as words could not, the sufferings they had endured.

It is a sufficient commentary on the administration of James Buchanan, that in a case like this, with six companies of cavalry at Fort Riley, not a man nor a gun, nor a ration, could be had for the relief of this unfortunate

History of Republic County. 45

party till after a handful of poor frontier settlers had gone out, gathered them up, and brought them to the Fort. And this is only one of many instances where frontier settlers in Kansas, and notably in Republic county, "stood picket" for the United States troops, who were placed near the frontier ostensibly for its protection.

The survivors of these emigrants mostly returned to Arkansas, a few, however, remaining in Kansas.

The first organized armed resistance to Indian depredations in Republic county was made in September, 1864, a company of militia having been formed, comprising about fifty men, all mounted, each man furnishing his own horse, saddle and bridle, made up of the early settlers of what is now the counties of Clay, Cloud, Washington and Republic, commanded by Captain I. M. Schooley, with headquarters at Elk Creek, now called Clyde. The arms and ammunition for this company were furnished by the General Government, drawing the same at Fort Riley, the nearest military post. The arms were old and condemned, and consisted of Enfield, Springfield, Harper's Ferry muskets, some smooth bore, some rough bore, and some with scarcely any bore at all; but all were considered good enough for the pioneers of Republic county to fight Indians with. At the time arms were drawn, thirty days' rations were furnished, consisting of bacon and hard tack; and so this little independent command was placed on a war footing.

Capt. Schooley held a commission from Gov. Robinson, and seems to have been chosen to this distinction on account of gallant services rendered in Missouri, or some other place, in the early part of the war. He also seems to have been an exceedingly prudent and careful commander, seldom, if ever, exceeding the authority vested in him by virtue of his commission.

These were troublesome days and many a feat of noble daring remains to be recorded by the historian, and to be graphically told in ballad and poem. Kansas has her tales

46 History of Republic County.

of border Indian warfare awaiting the pen of the novelist, and her chivalrous deeds awaiting the poet's rehearsal.

When our future romancer shall come, one incident at least, connected with the early history of Republic county, will court his attention, and render the valley of the Republican as romantic as the highlands of Scotland. It was in the autumn of 1864, when Capt. Schooley and his command were preparing for a campaign up the Republican river, and when the little band of heroic souls was drawn up on the banks of the stream preparatory to starting. Yes, heroes! ye readers of tales of chivalry resonant with the clashing of swords against mailed armor, and bedecked with gaudy plumes! these hardy, rudely clad frontiersmen, mounted on their horses taken from the plow, were as great heroes as any you read of in your romances; and though no fine court ladies bade these brave men adieu, they saw around them wives, mothers, sisters and daughters, whose lives and homes were to be protected from ruthless savages. The time for departure had arrived. The gallant Captain seated on a noble charger, addressed his company from a little eminence in front; and, as the locklets from his finely formed forehead floated on the morning breeze, and the burning words fell from his determined lips, all felt that the leader was worthy of his trust, and that he was every inch a hero.

In that company stood every male inhabitant of lawful age, and in close proximity stood the women of their households. Good-bye came at last, and heart-rending cries and sobs rent the air. The sun looked down with a calm, autumnal smile upon the brown prairie, and the gentle Kansas zephyrs sighed, scarcely heard over the placid stream. Life seemed beautiful and good; but, alas! man ever mars the harmony established by the Creator, and here on this beautiful morning and on this lonely spot, stood a band of men in the very prime of life's enjoyment, preparing to rush into the jaws of a cruel death. Alas! with so intrepid a leader, much danger must be encount-

History of Republic County. 47

ered, many a brave one must fall, and many a fair face must be mutilated by savage hands. Shrieks and sobs rent the air, and wives and children and gray-haired mothers clung to the noble men with the grasp of despair. Only one woman among them all manifested no emotion. The captain's wife stood unmoved amid all this scene of sorrowing, and reminds us of one of Sparta's noble dames. She was a noble woman, and worthy to be the wife of the gallant leader of his fellows. No sign of grief, or fear, or sadness, did she betray. Not a word escaped her lips until the troops were about to start, and were already drawn up in line; then she waved her hand to the women to be silent. Every one obeyed, as though this strange creature held a magician's wand. All were silent and attentive, when, in clear, firm tones, she thus addressed them: "Ladies, be composed. Why all this demonstration? Why make such a racket? There is going to be no trouble, nobody hurt, nobody killed, unless through awkwardness some of them kill themselves. They are under the captain's command, and must obey his orders; and from a long and intimate acquaintance with him, I know he will not lead them where there is the least indication of danger. Dry your tears, and cease your wails. This is a picnic excursion, 'only this, and nothing more.'"

This memorable campaign was followed by a reign of comparative quiet, which lasted until April, 1867, when the Indians made another hostile incursion into the country. During the summer of 1868, the independent company of Salt Creek militia was organized, composed wholly of settlers of Republic county, and numbering about fifty men, with W. P. Peake as first lieutenant, to rank from August 24th, and captain from September 8th, and W. H. H. Reily as first lieutenant from the latter date.

The members of this company were:

John H. Frint, Joseph Meyers,
J. H. Smock, Wm. Hardaker,
Charles A. Campbell, B. F. Sayler,
48 History of Republic County.
Horace Beers, Geo. Shafer,
John W. Swan, Wm. Bonham,
Daniel Morland, John McFarlane,
Robert Swan, J. W. Cory,
Z. P. Rowe, John McIntire,
Wm. W. Newlon, J. K. Van Natta,
T. C. Reily, John G. Isaacs,
Conrad Meyers, Hubert Johnson,
Geo. McChesney, West Union Spillman,
Thos. J. Eckert, Michel Young,
Wm. T. Campbell, John C. Reily,
Jacob Shafer, Chas. W. Beebe,
Edmund Powell, David Cory,
Geo. J. Trowbridge, Adams E. Cooly,
William Shafer, Hiram Jackson,
Noah Kunkel, Geo. W. Wilcox,
Thos. Hedgecoke, Daniel Meyers,
Milton A. Daughertee, Hudson Cooly,
Philo P. Way, Samuel Elder,
Geo. S. Willoughby, Lanty Oliver,
William Oliver, Augustus Willoughby,
W. H. Willoughby, Henry Vining.

"The Independent Company of Salt Creek Militia" was well officered, tolerably well armed and equipped, and rendered very efficient service in repelling Indian invasions. The arms and ammunition for this company were furnished by the State, while each man furnished his own horse, saddle and bridle.

In June, 1869, R. T. Stanfield was commissioned captain of militia by Governor Harvey. During the summer he recruited a company of 65, which included all the available men for miles around. Of this company, Peter Johnson was first lieutenant, he also being commissioned by Governor Harvey, and was a gallant officer. This company was furnished by the State with Spencer carbines, ammunition and rations, each man furnishing his own horse, saddle and bridle. Served a little more than six

History of Republic County. 49

months, the Indians soon learning to give this company a wide berth. It is quite probable that the settlements of White Rock would have been abandoned but for the protection afforded by this militia company.

Fearing trouble from the Indians, nearly all the settlers on Salt and Reily Creeks left their claims in May, 1869, and staid away until July, at which time a small body of militia, belonging to Captain Stanfield's command, was sent to their aid, with headquarters on the NE 1/4 of section 3, Belleville township, where a log fort had been erected.

This fort was on the north side of what is now the main road leading from Belleville to Scandia, and nearly opposite the present residence of John N. Snyder. The men comprising this garrison were Noah Thompson, Corporal in command; George Andrews, Wm. Little, Oliver Gross, Samuel Darling, William Hoover, Lew Hoover, William Robinson, Charles English and Ephraim H. Wilcox.

This force was a Godsend to many of the early settlers, as several of this command were expert marksmen, a dead shot on buffalo; and it has been reported that Texas cattle were sometimes mistaken for buffalo, as a large herd of them had been stampeded in this neighborhood about this time, and several head of stragglers remained in the vicinity for several days. At any rate, nearly all the settlers had a plenty of buffalo meat as long as any of the Texas cattle could be found.

These soldiers remained here from July until October 18th, when they joined the main company which went on a scouting expedition up the Solomon valley, going as far west as where Kirwin now stands.

The only actual settlers of Republic county known to have been killed by the Indians, within the limits of the county, were Gordon Windbigler, in Big Bend township, August 15th, 1868, and Malcolm Granstadt, a Swede boy, at Scandia, in the spring of 1869. The circumstances of the killing of Windbigler are about as follows: As before

50 History of Republic County.

stated, he was killed on the 15th day of August, 1869, and it occurred on section 36, about three-fourths of a mile southwest of where Republic City now stands. The settlers in this immediate neighborhood at that time consisted of fourteen men, four women and five or six children. Their fortress, or place of rendezvous in case of danger, was on the NW 1/4 of section 1, town 2 range 5, and consisted of eight log houses built around a square, and was considered secure against any ordinary Indian attack. Among the men were R. T. Stanfield, Daniel and David Davis, W. R. Charles, Chas. Johnson, Lewis Boggs, Alexander Lewis, W. P. Phillips, James Egans, Gordon Windbigler, and — Miller, a lame man, some of whom had taken claims in Jewell county. The women were Mrs. Charles, Mrs. Lewis, Mrs. Dan. Davis and Mrs. Thos. Lovewell. David Davis, Johnson, Lewis and Windbigler were making hay near the river, three miles above the fort, when they were suddenly surprised and attacked by about 75 Indians, mounted on ponies, and armed with revolvers and spears, or lances. Only one of the hay-making party, Lewis, was armed, he acting as sentry, and carrying a Spencer rifle. They had with them a team and wagon and one saddle horse. They immediately started for the fort, being hotly pursued by the Indians, Windbigler riding on horseback in advance of the wagon until when within about a mile from the fort, losing his hat, he stopped to recover it, which brought him in the rear of the wagon. Having recovered his hat, by rapid riding, he soon overtook the wagon and passed it. The Indians in the meantime were circling around in front of the party with evident intention of cutting them off from the fort and massacreing the entire party. The Indians, having discovered by this time that Windbigler was unarmed, rode up within pistol shot, fired on him, brought him to the ground, then speared him with their lances, one of which severed the juglar vein causing death in a few minutes. Lewis now displays great coolness and bravery.

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