Thoughts from Bill:
Indians for many years had a structured government. Prior to 1500 Indians carried on their social activities with a hierarchy in place that passed knowledge down that was not coercive. For fifteen generations Indians experienced total freedom under this system of anarchy—and when they came in contact with rebel Irish outcasts, fur trappers, mountain men, and other white men seeking a different life in the unexplored regions of America, the Indians succeeded in corrupting many. They soon learned the value system of Indians and rejoiced in their simplistic life-style and freedom. It is thought that the “cowboy” patterned himself after the Indian once he came into contact with their way of life.
Conversely some Indians took to the “white man’s” way when they became part of some of the shows put on by such individuals as Buffalo Bill Cody. Gordon W. Lillie from Oklahoma, known as Pawnee Bill, joined Buffalo Bill prior to World War I. They put on a show rivaled only by Ponca City’s Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Circus and Wild West Show. These shows were formed to not only entertain audiences but to educate them about the ways of the West. Indians who participated in such shows became known as “Show Indians,” and soon departed from their Indian ways after traveling with the shows.
Other Indians, seeing the passing of their freedom, determined to become like the white man, quickly adopting his manner of dress. Some moved into the white man’s realm and soon assimilated themselves into their culture, desirous in many cases of sending their children to the white man’s schools. With the passage of years, it is hard to determine sometimes that one’s neighbor has Indian ancestry.
History Viewed Through a Telescope—Old Newspapers.
Reading old newspapers is like looking at history through a telescope. It brings events to light not covered in most books. History books tell us that the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad came to Cowley County, Kansas, in the fall of 1879. They, as a rule, do not go into the machinations of politicians, railroad executives, greedy businessmen, and others who, motivated by self-interest, dictated whether or not a community would get a railroad.
From scouring old newspapers the reader learns that in 1870 “The West” was the newly opened Osage Diminished Reserve known as the pre-empted lands. Reference to the “Southwest” means the country southwest of St. Louis and southwest of Emporia. The “West” refers to Dodge City by 1880. At that time Dodge City was on the far side of the settled counties in Kansas. By 1890 the Santa Fe railroad has stretched the “Southwest” to include New Mexico and Arizona, which is considered the “Southwest” of today.
Old newspapers go into details, telling us about exciting events. Exhibited in Pleasant Valley Township, in its early days, were the boots of Mr. D. B. Wells. He was hit by lightning during a storm after electricity went down the chimney, through the stove pipe, into the stove, out the stove door, and passed down his boots into the floor. The boots were completely demolished, and it appeared that Mr. Wells had expired. After two or three hours he arose and walked about. The reporter considered this a miraculous escape and challenged anyone to “trot out a better one [story].”
Instead of brief, and sometimes inaccurate summaries, early newspaper writers detailed every local election; remarked on the rise or fall of the rivers; eulogized the passing of old-timers; stated how many bricks were being manufactured in town that week; listed the menu at the church social as well as amount collected for church purposes; and editorials analyzed everything from the state of temperance of local citizens and Indians to the condition of local orchards one by one.
The reader learns that in Arkansas City on October 22, 1879, flour was selling at $3.00 for a hundred pound bag; hemp rope cost 12½ cents per pound; 10 cents could buy a pound of salt fish; and bacon was being sold for 8 cents per pound.
Names begin to become individuals rather than ancestors. Political fights, of which there were many, become Greek dramas.
Every murder becomes a mystery, to be solved with clues in subsequent weekly newspapers. Like a telescope and a time machine, several weeks can go by in an hour—the mystery unfolds and the crime is solved. Sometimes the reader finds months or years later that the conclusion as to “who did it,” is wrong—the guilty party was another man.
Indians become not “good guys” or “bad guys”—they become good or bad people. There is news concerning people who try and fail; others who try and succeed; and stories about citizens helping others; conversely, citizens who hurt others. The old newspapers covered many human-interest stories and developed them week by week. The reader learns much about his fellow man. Most importantly, he learns that man essentially never changes.
The story of the technologies which drove the development of the old “Southwest” were told in the early newspapers. Steam sawmills came in immediately. Steam powered shingle machines quickly followed. Steam threshing machines were used as soon as they were available. Coal deposits were pursued and developed. Oil and gas were seen to be possible fuels of more convenience than coal. Techniques had to be developed to handle and burn these fuels. Many problems were encountered and solved by early settlers. Necessity created the need for many inventions that developed during this era—often covered in intricate detail by early newspapers.
Lots of Problems Confronted Early Settlers.
l Wheat dies in the dry summer. Solution: get winter wheat from the Mennonites.
l Too much man power wasted pumping water. Solution: use the wind; build a windmill.
l Wood buildings easily burn. Solution: replace with stone and brick.
l Water needed to fight fires. Solution: build water works.
l Ground water for wells becomes contaminated. Solution: put in a sewer system; get rid of cesspools.
l Wheat and corn in Wichita sell for less than current shipping costs. Solution: build a mill, sell to the Indians.
l Vegetables spoil on the way to market. Solution: build an ice house.
l A scarcity of trees prevails. Solution: involve citizens in planting trees; create Arbor Day.
l Stage coaches and wagons are slow and expensive. Solution: Issue bonds; get a railroad.
l Ice melts in the summer. Solution: use steam power to refrigerate ice house(s).
l Shoveling coal to operate steam engine very arduous in the Kansas summer time.
Solution: learn how to burn gas and oil; and begin to design burners.
l Travel is slow (even by rail). Solution: design an airplane and learn how to fly it.
l Teaching children to read becomes essential. Solution: build lots of schools; train lots of teachers.
l Excess drinking by citizens and Indians leads to murders. Solution: cut off liquor supply.
l Opera house becomes too hot in the summer. Solution: blow fans across ice in basement.
[Note: The List of Problems Encountered and Solutions could go on and on.]
Bill, Took your lovely words and changed them considerably. Chopped out some items as I feel it pertains to events that took place elsewhere or before Cowley County started. Am sure you want to change.
PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVE CHANGED MY ARTICLE ONCE MORE.
Gave my name/address after asking for “comments.”
DO YOU WANT TO GIVE YOUR NAME/ADDRESS IN YOUR ARTICLE ALSO?
Kay and I did not give any addressing in Volume I. I questioned him about it at the time and he did not want to give any. Thought he was wrong! Believe it would be nice to get input from readers. Gather the Cherokee Land Rush Museum is getting orders for books from out of state little by little. A man from Virginia had just purchased one on the day I last visited Tom Junkens.
DO I NEED TO ADD/DELETE TO MY ITEM.
Brought in Grandfather O’Loughlin (a very colorful character) to bring out the fact that many history books do not give proper attention to development of early settlers in the hope that it might interest people in submitting items.
DID I EVER TELL YOU THAT I HAVE A PHOTOGRAPH (POSTCARD) OF MY AUNT KATHRYN ON THE REAR END OF A TRAIN WITH PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT. OF THE MANY ITEMS I HAVE PERTAINING TO HER, I TREASURE IT MOST. JARRED MY TREE LATER TO REALIZE HE WAS PROPPED UP. A NEWS ITEM I HAVE TELLS THAT THEY WERE AT PUEBLO, COLORADO, WHEN THE PICTURE WAS TAKEN.
I like your ideas for article in book...and for CD ROM. Would love to play up the CD ROM in book...BUT DO WE DARE UNTIL WE GET A DECENT LOOKING CD ROM?
THAT IS WHY YOURS TRULY IS TRYING DURING EVERY SPARE MINUTE TO WORK ON NEWSPAPER FILES. I WANT YOU TO HAVE A DECENT CD ROM AND I WANT TO LEARN YOU ARE MAKING SOME MONEY ON IT. MAY TAKE ME A YEAR, THOUGH, TO GET ALL FILES IN SHAPE.
THINK IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO GET GOOD CD THAN TO ADVANCE ANOTHER BOOK BY GETTING WITH IT ON MICROFILM AGAIN.
AM I WRONG IN THINKING THIS WAY?