CLIFF M. WOOD. REMINISCENCES.
[The personal reminiscences of Cliff M. Wood were given by the Winfield Courier in a series of articles in the following issues: January 14, January 21, January 28, February 4, and February 11, 1886.]
Of the Early History of Cowley County and Winfield.
Thinking it would be an appropriate time in the beginning of the year to review the past, and get the personal experiences of our early settlers, we started out on an interviewing bout and first called on Cliff M. Wood, who answered our questions as follows.
The Story of C. M. Wood.
During the winter of 1868-1869, while counter jumping in the store of H. L. Hunt & Co., at Cottonwood Falls, Chase County, Kansas, I accidentally overheard a conversation between James Renfro and Frank Hunt concerning a beautiful country way down the walnut river in a wild Indian country near the Indian Territory, known on the map as Cowley County. My curiosity was somewhat excited and I at once determined to investigate and explore for myself. I went directly to a friend of mine, U. B. Warren, then a prosperous hardware merchant, doing business in the same town, and told him what I had heard. We both at once resolved to make the trip, and about the first day of April, joined team to a spring wagon and started up the south fork of the Cottonwood river, thence down the Walnut to El Dorado, then a small village, and the county seat of Butler County, where we stopped for the night. The next day we came on down the river as far as Muddy creek, at the north end of Cowley County, where we stayed all night with a cattle man by the name of Turner, the first habitation we came to in the county. Next morning we pulled out to explore the then forbidden ground we found below Turner’s ranch. First came Eli Sayles’, about two miles; next came John Jones’ cattle ranch near the mouth of Rock creek; below him John Watson; after him we found no habitation or sign of civilization except signs of claim taking, until we reached James Renfro’s claim, known now as the Gilleland or Taylor farm, where he had a neat little hewed log house erected with a good roof without doors, windows, or chinking. We stopped for information and something to eat. After dinner Mr. Renfro, Warren, and myself mounted our horses to explore the situation and condition of things at the mouth of Dutch creek (now Timber creek). About three-quarters of a mile below Renfro’s, we came to Judge T. B. Ross’ cabin, where his son John and mother now live. Mr. Ross had only a square pen of logs without a roof, doors, or windows. We then came on to Dutch creek and crossed at the ford just above where the bridge now stands. Upon reaching the top of the bank and coming out on the little prairie, I remarked, full of enthusiasm, “Gentlemen, there is my peach orchard and yonder on that elevated piece of ground is or will be the county seat of the county.” The other men agreed with me after examining the mill site where Bliss & Wood’s mill now stands. I proceeded to take a claim by blazing an oak tree yet standing on the ravine northwest of the depot, writing with lead pencil, “this claim taken by C. M. Wood.” We then went back to Mr. Renfro’s, from where we started back to Cottonwood Falls fully satisfied that we had found what we were looking for. Upon our return to Cottonwood, we told the people of this beautiful country, which to them seemed incredulous. I at once arranged my affairs and came down with goods for trade, such as flour, coffee, sugar, and in fact, quite a stock of general merchandise, with some building material, and commenced at once the erection of a house on the high ground about 25 rods southeast of where Bliss & Wood’s mill now stands. This building was 18 x 26 feet, 10 feet high, made by cutting logs of uniform size about 14 inches in diameter, splitting them in two, hewing the flat sides, and taking off the bark, as it would peel off smooth, then these slabs were set upright in the ground two feet deep, batted on the inside with shaved “stakes,” and made quite an imposing house with open front. When the house was not yet finished and when I was at work on it, a stranger came to me and introduced himself to me as E. C. Manning, from Manhattan, Kansas, who said he was looking up the country, and wanted to know if I wanted any help. “What kind of help?” (Noticing that he was not a laboring man.) He said, “With your town site.” I told him I did, and after some talk he went away very much undecided as to the venture; was doubtful about the land coming into market.
I disposed of the most of my goods to the Osage Indians, who were on the way to their annual spring hunt and were water bound, the streams all being full of water from the numerous heavy storms that spring. The Indians were in camp on the ground where now stands the cemetery, northeast of town; some 2,000 strong, where they remained for some days, giving no great amount of trouble to the few squatters, but with a threatening, gloomy look, would point with finger to the north and say: “You, pucachee.”
Yes, it was about sixteen and a half years ago that I was trading with the Osage Indians in the house spoken of, from the 16th to 22nd of June, 1869. The first two days they seemed quite civil, but asked many questions. They wanted to know what we were going to do here; (there being with me at that time a Mr. Patterson and son, a lad of 12 or 14 years, William Stansbury, and two other young men, claim hunters—I do not recollect their names.)
Will or Bill Conner, a half breed French and Indian, and interpreter for the Indians came to me and said, “The Indians have held a council in camp and have decided to make you leave and will soon send you such orders.” I sent word to their chiefs, amongst which were White Hair, head chief; Hard Rope, war chief; Strike Ax, 2nd war chief; and Chetopa, chief counselor of the whole nation—that I wished to talk to them. They sent word back by Conner that they would come the next day and they would see me at two o’clock p.m. So I arranged my house for their reception by piling my goods in one corner and covering them up with a wagon sheet. The appointed time came and so did the Indians, with all the usual pomp and display of an Indian council. The four chiefs, with interpreter and about twelve or fifteen other braves and head men, arranged themselves in a circle in my house, placing me in the ring directly opposite White Hair, who spoke first, asking me what I wanted with them? A perfect silence ensued for some moments—then sitting down, I told them that on the eastern end of their lands were many white men and that there was quite a number above me on the river; that many more were coming, and that there were below me twenty-five or thirty men surveying a railroad which would, no doubt, be built in a short time; that the Great Father was going to buy this land for his children and that I desired to be friendly with them and keep such goods in store as they would need, etc.
White Hair rose to his feet with much solemnity—he was a very old man with white hair, full face and form, in fact, a perfect type of the best class of Indians. He said that he was friendly to the pale faces and had been for many years; that this land belonged to the Osages; that he was very much surprised to see such a man trying to take their land from them, and with much flattery asked me to go away. He said if I stayed their country would all be taken from them; that they had not yet sold it; that it would be time enough for me after they had sold. He was followed by the other chief, who spoke in much the same way until it came Chetopa’s turn. He being a spare, sharp featured, consumptive looking man, with a very penetrating, determined look, informed me that at 4 o’clock the next day, I must go or my house would be burned over my head, and asked me if I would go. I bluntly refused to go. They filed out of my house and went back to their wigwams followed by about 400 of their braves.
Bill Conner came to me next morning and told me that the Indians had a private council and in that they disagreed. Chetopa and the Little Osages wanted me to stay, but the Big Hills said I must go. Upon this I sent him back with some presents, such as tobacco, etc., telling him to report conditions soon to me; so about 3 o’clock came a message from Conner with written instructions from Chetopa, to leave, go up the river, and when they were gone to come back. This letter was signed “your friend, Chetopa.” So we put what remaining goods we had into a wagon, locked the house, drove down to the ford on Timber Creek and found the water too high to cross. I got on my horse, went up to the Indian camp and found White Hair. He would not listen, but sent me to Hard Rope, who listened to me but seemed very determined. I asked him to keep his people away from my camp until I could cross the creek. He said I should be protected; to go back and remain until I could cross the water with safety. I went back and in a few minutes an Indian came to me, who could talk English, and said he was one of Hard Rope’s warriors, that he had been sent to stay with me and protect me. While I was arranging for his comfort, as it was now about dusk, I heard a hoop and yell, and looking up I saw eight or ten Indians coming mounted, and on full run, evidently meaning mischief. My protector went out, met them, talked to them a few minutes, when they leisurely turned their ponies and went back. We had no more disturbance that night and the water having run down to some extent, I concluded to venture in the next morning. But when the team got nearly through, they mired down, and could not pull the wagon out. By the time the team was gotten out, there were some ten or twelve Indians, who stripped off what few clothes they had on, and with the white men and myself commenced carrying the goods to the top of the bank. When the wagon was unloaded, we all took hold and pulled it to the top of the bank, reloaded, gave the Indians a plug of tobacco apiece, then moved on up to my friend Renfro’s ranch, where we stayed all day and that night. The next morning the Indians were all on the move by daylight. Chetopa, with some of his warriors, came by Renfro’s, where I had a long talk with Chetopa, through Bill Conner. He told me that I should go back, get much goods, and be ready to trade with them when they returned from the hunt; said he was council chief and would protect me. I told him that his people had said that they would burn my house, but he said no, that they would not do it if I would promise to bring some goods, so I gave him some tobacco and medicine, he being sick.
Then Mr. Renfro’s boys, John and Firman, put me across the raging Walnut in a boat. I mounted my horse and went directly back to Cottonwood Falls, where I was several days buying goods and arranging to come back. This was about the 22nd to 25th of June, for on the 26th day of June, I was married to Miss Melinda Jones, from Springfield, Ohio, at the residence of Judge W. R. Brown, at Cottonwood Falls.
Here I again met Col. E. C. Manning; found him sitting on the door-sill of J. S. Doolittle’s store, said he had made up his mind to locate some place on the Walnut, not certain where, yet I tried to get him to come to Lagonda. He said he might do so. I then left him to his musings.
In two or three days I loaded several teams with goods and started them on ahead for my store, following in a few hours on horseback. When about 20 miles on my road, I met a stranger in a wagon, who stopped me and asked, “Is your name Wood?” Being answered in the affirmative, he continued: “Your store has been burned by the Indians.” I told him I could not think it was true, but he seemed confident, and said he got his information from Douglass. This gave me hopes, as there was some rivalry between Douglass and Lagonda, as this place was then called, a name given it by my wife before we were married, being an Indian name meaning “Clear Waters.”
So I pressed on until I came up with my teams when I told them to go on as far as Douglass and remain there until they heard from me, which I thought would be nearly as soon as they could get there. In haste, I came on to Lagonda, and when I turned around the corner of the timber in sight of my store, I beheld that there was nothing left of that, to me, once grand building but the blackened and charred stockade. Desolation reigned supreme. No Indians to be seen, no white men to be seen; all was gone except an indomitable will. I then and there determined to build again at once, but on my individual claim, the burnt house being built to hold the town site. So I returned to Douglass, stored my goods, paid my teamsters, and commenced to haul the logs, and on about the last of June had raised to the square the log cabin now standing on the banks of the ravine northwest of the north depot.
By this time I was found by W. W. Andrews, from Leavenworth, who camped on the ground with me by the side of my second house. We slept well that night and early in the morning, while getting breakfast, we heard that unearthly noise made by 2,000 Indians crossing the Walnut river at the Kickapoo ford west of the Tunnel mill. The neighing of ponies, yelping of Indian dogs, screaming of squaws, intermingled with rattling of pans and cooking utensils broke out on the air of that still June morning, making music for us not very desirable to listen to. In a few minutes came a lone Indian, much hungry. We fed him and were soon startled by the war whoops of twenty-five Indian braves—stripped to the waist, on bare back ponies, with lances in hand, coming down on us with the speed of the wind, holding aloft their spears, or lances. As they approached I walked toward them with navy pistol in hand, determined to do or die. When they arrived in pistol shot, I called a halt, which was obeyed, when they came filing up in single file with lance lowered, riding around, then raising their lances in the air with a threatening look.
I recognized a one-eyed Indian among them whom I knew could talk English. I said, “You talk English?” He shook his head. I told him that he was a liar, that I knew him. He said, “Talk little.” I said, “What you come here in this shape for?” He said, “To look around.” I said, “You have looked around, now pucachee!” After staying around a few minutes, they filed off and went over the hill toward the rising sun.
Mr. Andrews and I held a council of war and concluded to load up and cross the creek out of the track of the returning Indians, so we proceeded back to James Renfro’s, where we found Chetopa with about twenty-five braves. He had ordered Renfro and all other white men to go north beyond their lands; but when I came up, he at once said I should stay. I told him his men had burned my house, but I had built another, and I wished him to go back with me and protect me from a second fire. He said that he would, whereupon Mr. Patterson volunteered to accompany me on horseback. We marched in front of the Indians, and when about halfway back, discovered an immense cloud of smoke ascending up from the location of my new home. I turned in my saddle and remarked to Chetopa, “They have done it, come on and help put it out.” Then Patterson and myself put our horses under full speed until we reached the fire. Having no vessels for water, we at once stripped off our saddles and took the blankets and let them down into a well I had dug in the side of the bank close by, and then slapped the wet blankets on the logs until we got the fire under control, and about that time the Indians came up. They sat on their ponies a few minutes, when Chetopa ordered an old Indian to dismount and help put out the fire. I at once set a muley fork in the shallow well, sat down on the pins, and dipped up water with my hat, which they carried and threw on the fire until it was out. While leaning over the well, the Indian dropped a stone pipe out of his mouth into the well, the water being about three and a half feet deep. I went clean under the water, got his pipe, and he received it from me with the word, “Logany,” mounted his pony, and went away. Anyone desiring to see the charred logs at the southeast corner of the oldest house this side of Judge Ross, can take a walk to Island Park Place Addition and there he can see it for himself.
And now, after the second house had been fired by the Indians, who had ordered James Renfro to pack up and leave their reserve, and who had shown their hostility in other ways (stealing Judge T. B. Ross’ horses and ordering him to leave), a council was held by the squatters in which it was decided to move north to or near the Reserve line and await developments. Renfro moved up near Muddy creek with cattle, horses, and family. W. W. Andrews, Mr. Patterson, and myself formed a company for putting up prairie hay. I went to Cottonwood Falls, bought a mowing machine and other tools, laid in a quantity of provisions, and returned about the 10th of July to Douglass. Mr. Andrews and Mr. Patterson meanwhile had selected hay grounds about four miles southwest of Douglass, on what is known as Eight Mile creek, and between Eight Mile and the Walnut river, where lay a fine piece of bottom land and upon which grew as fine blue stem prairie grass as anyone could wish to see. The land is now owned by a Mr. Osborne and sons. We at once struck camp, made what the boys called a go-devil for dragging hay to the rick, started the machine, and started stacking as fast as the weather would permit, as 1869 was the wettest year that I have ever experienced since coming to this State. We continued work for about three weeks, getting up a large amount of hay, when I went back to Cottonwood Falls, bought a tent, some cooking utensils, and such articles as were necessary for the comfort of Mrs. Wood, who came back with me.
Upon our return we set up tent keeping. The weather had become more propitious for haying so we went at it again in full force. After getting up 325 tons for ourselves, we contracted and put up hay for one McFadden, also for Martindale and Cady—all of whom were squatters on this land—after which we sold our hay to a Mr. Moss, who wintered a large number of cattle the following winter.
After settling up our hay business, Mr. Andrews and myself hitched our four horses to our wagon, loaded in some goods, and with Mrs. Woods started down the Walnut river again, arriving at Judge Ross’ claim the same day. I forgot to mention that Judge Ross had not vacated or abandoned his claim on account of Indians, even temporarily as many others of us did. The noble old man used to make fun of us and say that we had not the right kind of grit for successful pioneers. He used to tell us how he was born in a fort, cradled in a fort, and knew what Indians and danger were.
After dinner Mr. Andrews, Mrs. Wood, and myself mounted on horseback, came on down the river to reconnoiter and decide our future course. We came back to our cabin, which had been spared by the Indians. It was surrounded by prairie grass standing from six to ten feet high, all headed out and ripe, representing as nearly an unlimited rye field as anyone could imagine. From the cabin we rode up Timber creek to the old Indian camp, where stood the remains of their tepees or wigwams, such as one will see wherever Indians camp for a few days at a time. After looking over the ground for some minutes, I called out to Mr. Andrews to hold my horse as I wanted to get a watermelon. Mr. Andrews at the same moment called out to me, “Hold my gun until I get this watermelon.” Then we both dismounted at once, holding our own horse and gun, picking each our own watermelon. Assisting Mrs. Wood to alight we sat down on the prairie and ate two as good melons as one would wish for. The seed, having been planted in the spring by the Indians during the succession of showers and sunshine, had grown to perfection. After eating our melons we remounted, returned to the cabin, and there held a council. Mrs. Wood said, “This will some day make a very good country; the soil must be good to grow such grass.” I asked her if she wanted to try to settle here, with me. “Yes,” she said. “I can stay wherever you can. Let us try it.” Mr. Andrews said, “I will take the claim due east of you,” and proceeded to do so. Then we went back to our old hay camp and moved our traps down to the cabin, where I set up a tent and went at once to work putting up some hay for my team, which came in very good play not only for my own horses but for many others who came later. However, the green grass was good in the timber during the entire winter, except now and then, but a few hours at a time when covered by light snow. Up to this time my house was only a pen of logs without a roof, floor, doors, or windows, and we were living in our tent. I proceeded to get some clap-boards split out of green timber, some rafters and studding for gables, and with the assistance of Mrs. Wood, erected the rafters and nailed on the boards. I next cut out the poles for the doors, hewed out a puncheon floor, laid it down, and moved in. This done, Mrs. Wood and I concluded to make a trip up the country to Cottonwood Falls for supplies such as a stove, lumber for doors, windows, etc.
Mr. Andrews said he was looking for a Dr. W. G. Graham, wife, and child; and said he was coming prepared to stay. He asked if we would give him shelter until he could provide for himself. We told him certainly, he could move right into our cabin, and the next day I went up the country a few miles to some squatters’ cabins to prepare for our trip, and who should I meet but a man with a fine yoke of oxen drawing a wagon loaded with a woman and child, a little boy. This was about three miles north of my cabin. I asked him at once who he was and where he was going. He said he was Dr. Graham from Leavenworth, and that he was hunting for Wood’s ranch. I told him I was Wood. He asked me if Mr. Andrews had spoken to me about shelter. I told him that he had; that it was all right, and that as he was heavy loaded and his team was tired, he should let his wife and child get in my wagon; also put in part of his load. I would go on to our cabin and prepare to make them comfortable, after which I pointed out the timber where he would find a ford, and told him to follow me. I arrived in good time, when our wives set to work to cook something for the inner man, on a camp fire.
Supper prepared, dark came, and the Doctor did not come. We thought that there must be something wrong; and as I was about to start out to look after him, he came up to the cabin laughing and in the best of spirits, and said, “I am stuck fast in the creek.” I told him to take my double trees and chain and I would go down into the timber, get my horses, harness them up, and be down soon to pull him out. All this was carried out in good time and all were landed at our ranch. We ate a hearty supper, talked over the prospects, went to bed, and slept well. Next morning bright and early my wife and I started for Cottonwood Falls, leaving the Doctor and family in charge of our cabin. We made the trip as quickly as possible and while on our journey back, between El Dorado and Augusta, we met Mr. Andrews, who stopped us for my signature to a petition to the Governor asking for arms for protection against the Indians. I signed the petition, remarking to him that it would do us no good as the governor would not protect us for we were trespassers on Indian lands, and the less noise we made about it, the better for us; that we must take care of ourselves. Suffice to say the Governor did not send us arms. Mr. Andrews also showed me the constitution and by-laws of an organization made at my house named the “Cowley County Citizens Protective Union.” Dr. Graham was elected president and I think I was elected secretary. Then there was an executive committee and a safety committee. This, he said, he was going to have published in the state paper, which would bring emigrants and settlers down the Walnut in one solid column. He went on to Topeka and Leavenworth, got publication in a state paper, and sure enough, either that or something else covered the country with claim hunters.
Upon our return home (we began to call this home), I found Dr. Graham getting out logs for his claim cabin, which he was erecting north of the present cemetery and near the creek and timber. Well, I went on finishing my house by daubing it inside and out, putting in doors, windows, a floor overhead, stairs to get up in the loft, etc.
One evening about sundown one of the men came home from work on his house, saying one of the boys who was working for him had discovered a stray Texas cow and had tried to shoot her, but could not get near enough on foot to do so; at that same moment the boy came up and said the cow was lying down up near the bluff, due east. I told the man to run down in the timber and get my horses while I got my gun ready and I would see if I could not get some meat. When the horses were brought up, I mounted my fastest cow-horse, “Mose,” and the boy mounted the other; I with carbine and navy, he with an old Harper’s Ferry musket loaded with buckshot. We found the cow lying down for the night, and rode up close to her and both commenced firing at her at once. She jumped up and started at lightning speed for the creek just below where Manny’s brewery now stands. We ran with her, firing at her until she took a stand on a small island, or bar, in the creek, when we found that our ammunition was out. At this time other men came to us with a lantern, for it was now quite dark. From the light of the lantern we could see the cow standing where she stopped. A messenger was dispatched for a Spencer rifle, who returned soon, and the cow was downed and dressed. The boys hitched my horses to the wagon, hauled the beef to my cabin, and divided it, sending some to each squatter near us. By this time the moon was up, giving a bright, clear light, and as one of the men came up to the cabin bringing my team back, he said, “Where in the dickens did all these dogs come from?” I asked him, “What dogs?” He said that more than 200 of them had followed him nearly all the way back. “How large were they?” I asked. “Pretty good size and all looked alike.” “They must be wolves,” said I. “I guess there must be an almighty swarm of them,” he commented. We hung our portion of the beef upon the north side of the house, out of the wolves’ reach; but we might as well have fed it to them, as it was so tough we could not eat it.
I then went to look after my goods stored at Douglass, which had been turned over to a trader at Quimby’s ranch on the cattle trail this side of Douglass, on commission. I settled with him at a loss of $250, he having died broke a few days later, leaving me a damaged remnant comparatively worthless.
By that time we had got some ways into November. Dr. Graham had moved into his cabin, and the Indians were camped all the way from the mouth of the Walnut river up to this place. They seemed to be better reconciled to the situation. The squatters who left had come back and were fixing up for the winter, except Mr. Patterson, who gave up the venture and settled at Emporia. I have since lost sight of him.
The Indians asked me to get them a trader. I wrote to Baker and Manning (the same E. C. Manning), who had previously located a store at Augusta, as I understood that they had a permit to trade with the Indians on the Walnut river, stating facts in the case, and telling them that they could depend upon me for any help I was able to give them. A few days after this Mr. Baker came down with one wagon load of goods to see what he could do. I went with him on the next day down the Walnut river about four miles where we traded off nearly everything he brought for buffalo robes. We returned the same night to our cabin, when Baker arranged with me to build at once a log house for a trading post and claim house for Manning to hold the town site. I at once went to work, built a neat log house 14 x 22 feet, 30 rods due south of our own cabin, with the understanding that for convenience we would make a temporary line 10 rods south of Baker and Manning’s house. Manning at this time was at Manhattan. Baker wrote to him what he was doing, telling him that I was holding his claim for him and that he must come on at once. Manning arrived some time about the middle of December, and at once took charge of his claim and store, which was at once filled with goods. Up to this time all the trading was done from our cabin. Often our house would be filled with Indians trading furs and robes for goods, which made it very inconvenient for Mrs. Wood.
Let me say here that I hope no one will accuse those engaged in killing that cow spoken of, as guilty of intentionally wronging anyone. The fact of her being a Texas cow and that we were not far from the Texas cattle trail passing from Coffeyville to Abilene, over which thousands of cattle were driven that year, we were satisfied that she had no owner that would ever look after her, as the drive for the season was entirely over. We agreed amongst ourselves that if anyone did come to claim her, he should be paid her full value. Persons never having had the experience of settling in a wild country like this was at that time cannot fully realize the feelings of a pioneer, or know what he will undertake under the all inspiring hope for the future success of his venture. It is said that “necessity knows no law.” The fact is that we had no law here only unto ourselves, but each others rights were regarded, respected, and strictly protected as I may be able to show by the action of the “Citizens Protection Union,” which was organized for the protection of each other in our just rights, especially in taking and holding claims.
In June 1869 while I was trading in my store one morning, a large number of Indians came in, looking as if they meant mischief. A young buck came to me and said how much Wabusky (flour) one pony? showing me a pony at the door. I told him that I was not trading for ponies; that I had no use for them and if I had, that I could not take care of them now; but that at some other time I might be able to accommodate him; that if I should trade for one that he would steal it from me; at which he laughed and said: “No, me take care of it for you; me good Indian, me no steal.” Finding that he could not prevail upon me to trade, he became offended and in an excited manner said: “You came here to trade and you must trade or we will kill you and burn your house.” I told him that I was not afraid of their killing anybody, that I was running my own business, and should continue to do so as long as I could; whereupon he turned and went away, saying in a vehement manner, “pesha,” meaning bad. A few minutes after the above occurrence, while I was standing in the back end of the store, the house being pretty well filled with Indians, many of them sitting on the floor, two young bucks came rushing in at the front door. While a third buck rode close up to the same door on a pony, the first two, taking up a sack of flour (one at each end) started for the door. Discovering their intention I bounded across the house, reaching the door first, stopped them, and with all the authority of voice I could muster, ordered them to put that flour back where they got it, which was obeyed without the least hesitation. I then caught the nearest one by his scalp lock, slung him through the door, and with my foot landed him heels over head on the ground outside. Making after the other one, who was active enough to partially dodge me, I only got one kick in his breech-clout, which sent him also through the door. The two Indians broke and ran down across the prairie toward the encampment, occasionally looking back to see what was coming next. The Indians sitting down jumped to their feet, ran to the door, hollowing after the victims, saying, “Squaw! Squaw!” meaning coward. At this time a large, fine looking Indian came up to me and patted me on the shoulder, saying, “Heap brave white man.” I felt much flattered on my success in disposing of those fellows as I knew this to be the signal for a general onslaught upon my goods; and had I flinched in the least, it would have been “Good bye, John,” and no one could have told where they would have stopped.
About two hours after the above occurred and while I was taking in buckskins, coon skins, etc., and putting out flour, sugar, coffee, salt, and other articles—everything seemingly going on as well as could be expected—all at once a flame of fire burst through the floor, next and at the middle of the north side of the house; but as luck would have it again, I happened to have about half a bucket of water and was able to put the fire out. I then ran out of the house with my navy in my hand and fully determined to use it, but the Indians committing the deed were too far away making lively tricks for camp.
While all of the above mentioned circumstances were taking place, Mr. Patterson, Mr. Stansbury, and the other two young men were standing ready to take a hand at any time should it become necessary; but I had instructed them to take no action until I called upon them as I was afraid that they might do something rash that might be the cause of much damage. I, myself, had some experience with Indians, and had consulted with some of the oldest and most successful Indian traders in the west as to what course to take in case I got in a tight place. Up to this time I found that my instructions had been correct and worked like a charm. About half an hour before we were to leave the store, large numbers of Indians came and wanted to trade. We accommodated them as far as we could, but found the trade not very agreeable, as many attempts at stealing were made. In one case, when Mr. Patterson was giving one of them some sugar, he at once commenced to help himself, whereupon Mr. Patterson caught him and threw him across the house and was about to strike him with his fist when I hallowed out, “Don’t strike; hold on, what’s the matter?” Then the Indian came running to me, saying, “Pesha white man strike me,” I said, “No, he shall not strike you if you will be good and not steal from us.” I should have let Mr. Patterson hit the Indian; but we had got along so well thus far that I considered our real safety consisted in holding our own without bringing on a collision in which no doubt the Indians would have done us up in “short meter.” The reader will remember that Indians were on the east of us, Indians on the south of us, and the raging Walnut on the west of us, also the rattling Dutch (now Timber) creek on the north of us, so you see we could not have run from the Indians had we desired to do so; therefore, we had to remain here and make the best of the “Pig in the Pen” condition.
After getting away and getting up the Walnut river, I found that it was reported that “Woods’ ranch had been cleaned out and he and several other men had been killed.” These reports were willingly circulated by some of the Douglass people, believing that such reports would build up their point and would ruin our enterprise. Imagine how one would feel upon meeting strangers after such an experience and hear them recount to you how you had been murdered and plundered by the noble red man, the stranger not knowing who you were. Such was our experience. Those whom I met who knew me, seemed certain that I was dead, and expressed much surprise upon meeting me alive and well, full of hope, not daunted in the least, as everything that seemed to happen to restore our undertaking made us more determined than ever. Such was the spirit manifested by all, or nearly all, of the first settlers of this beautiful valley.
While Mr. W. W. Andrews was off to Leavenworth after his family, he having overstayed his 30 days (the time given a man to be absent, after taking his claim), some party came to me and asked me to go with my team and haul some logs for him, as he was going to jump Mr. Andrews’ claim. I told him I would have nothing to do with jumping Mr. Andrews’ claim as I knew he was coming back, and told him that Mr. Andrews was a well-meaning man and that his time should be extended until we could hear from him. I then turned and went down into my timber to work; but when I returned in the evening, I found that the party had taken my team and had hauled some of Mr. Andrews’ logs a short distance from his proposed building site and had commenced putting up a house. This movement aroused the friends of Mr. Andrews, such as Dr. W. G. Graham, James H. Land, Prettyman Knowles, and many others (whose names I have forgotten or have not space to mention). The claim jumper was informed that such a procedure would not do, whereupon he abandoned his action, apologizing to the settlers, and laying the blame on me, a thing that I must say that I was entirely innocent of, and was able afterwards to convince Mr. Andrews of the fact.
Mr. Andrews returned from Leavenworth about the first of January, 1870, with his family and household goods. He proceeded to erect a little log cabin on his claim about 35 or 40 rods north and a little east of where his fine, commodious brick house now stands, and where Mrs. Andrews and the children now live, Mr. Andrews being now absent in California.
Some strange things occurred here that winter, one of which is that Mr. Andrews killed a snake on the 21st day of January, 1870. He said that his snakeship was as lively as a cricket.
The first child born in the county was, I think, a son born to Mr. and Mrs. Abe Land soon after they arrived here. The child was born in a hut opposite and across the river from where Bliss & Wood’s mill now stands. This was quite a circumstance and elicited much interest among the settlers. I recollect calling one day and taking a look at the little “new comer.”
Miss Minnie Andrews was the first child born on the town site; so short a time since, it seems to me, that she has grown to be a beautiful and accomplished young lady, which fact I suppose our society people well know.
Master Fred Manning, son of Col. E. C. and Mrs. Manning (his first wife) was the first child born on the original town site. Fred is at the present time in Washington, D. C., with his father, and I understand, is a promising young man.
Dr. W. G. Graham is the first physician that came to the county. He has succeeded admirably, holds his original claim yet, enjoys a lucrative practice, and is the present Mayor of the city.
Upon the arrival of Col. Manning in December 1869, Mr. A. A. Jackson, who came with him, proceeded at once to claim the piece of ground known as the Fuller addition. He built a foundation and then secured some lumber with which to build a frame house (the second frame house in the county). While at work on his material in front of Baker & Manning’s store, being employed by them to look after the store, sell goods, etc., and not being at work directly on the ground claimed by him, some parties hailing from Topeka took it into their heads to jump Mr. Jackson’s claim, and proceeded at once to haul logs on the claim and put them up for a house. The settlers were apprized of the fact and rallied as one man, called the “Protection Union” together, and notified the claim jumpers that they should appear and show cause for such a proceeding. A sufficient length of time was given them to appear; but they came not, when the meeting went into executive session, discussed the matter to its fullest extent, listened to Mr. Jackson, and decided that the claim jumpers’ case had gone by default. Talked some of arraigning them for contempt, but upon motion, a committee of five, of which I was chairman, was appointed to notify said defendants that they would be allowed until the next morning at 9 o’clock to vacate said claim. We proceeded to their camp by the side of the house they were building. Though it was very dark and quite late in the evening, we could see their camp-fire, so we had no trouble in finding them. They had not gone to bed yet but were sitting around the camp-fire. As we came up I said, “Good evening, gentlemen.” They responded by saying, “Yes, this is a good evening.” I said, “Gentlemen, we were appointed as a committee by the Protection Union to inform you that you must leave this claim by 9 o’clock tomorrow morning and not return again with the intent to hold and improve the same. This order you must obey or take such consequence as the Protection Union may deem best for the purpose of enforcing its mandates.
One of the party replied that he would go when he d d pleased, or not at all.
At this moment Em. Yeoman, one of the committee, whipped out his navy and said, “You will go now, and d quick too, if I hear any more of your insolence.”
I told Yeoman to put up his gun, that I hoped that nothing of that kind would be necessary to enforce our order, that these men had the appearance of gentlemen, and that I was sure that nothing further was necessary. They gave us assurance that they wished to do right and would give us no more trouble, so we bid them good night and retired.
Next morning the claim jumpers moved on down the river and took some good claims in what is known as South Bend. They never came here to make permanent homes, but finally sold out to pretty good advantage and since that time I have lost sight of them.
Mr. A. A. Jackson went on with his building and finally sold his claim to J. C. Fuller for $1,000 and thought, at that time, it was a big sale. Mr. Jackson and Miss Genera Kelsey were married sometime in the summer of 1870 and were the first to get married in the county. They came and boarded with me until Mr. Jackson could finish his house, which was the first frame house built in Winfield, and was on the northeast corner of 8th avenue and Andrews street. When finished they set up housekeeping in pretty good style for those days.
I will close this for the present, hoping to be able to say more of these prominent characters in the settling of this county, at some future time.