Elizabeth N. 1884- Barr.

A souvenir history of Lincoln County, Kansas online

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3 1833 01103 1652

A Souvenir History


Lincoln County,

Elizabeth N. Barr,

(A native and an old settler)




t BcMcation:

4" u/ i's io the mn/cers of A/'s/ory t/iai tho wr/fers of I'i •!*

^ can most fi'Ht'nffij/ dedicate t/teir wor/c. tSo, here' s to the 4*

J^ .J ioneers of .£inco/Ti County. Some of them bui'ieieet •^

J* better than thej/ knetVj others ivorse than they intended,' 4*

4^ 6ut aii thinys have worJced toyether for yood to those 4*

^ who iove the rt'yht, 4*

t %




This book has been compiled from the written and verbal ac-
counts of those who ought to know the history of L,incoln Coun-
ty. Personally 1 knew nothing of this history when 1 began
gathering the material, and when stories conHicted 1 was not
prejudiced to either opinion but tried in all possible ways to as-
certain the actual facts in the case. 1 have interviewed mobt
of the early settlers and those to whom 1 am most indebted are:
.1. .J. Peate, Richard Clark, and Chalmer Smith of Beverly; John
S. Strange, N. B. Kees, Anna C. Wait, Fred E'rhardt, Adolph
Roenigk, E. 'SI. Harris, Martin Hendrickson, Daniel Day, Cris.
Bernhardt, C. M. Heaton, Tone Bishop, Ogden Green, Myron
Green of Lincoln; William Baird of Vesper; Mrs. Morgan and
A. R. Buzick of Sylvan Grove.

Those from a distance who have contributed letters a.nd arti-
cles are: F. A .Schemerhorn, Kli Ziegler, and A. T. Biggs. Oth-
ers have been kind enough to loan clippings. Among these clip-
pings were articles by .J. R. Mead, J. J. Peate, Thomas Strange,
\\ ashington Smith, Gen. Geo. A. Forsyth, also several important
articles by unknown parties. Besides getting the statements
of these people 1 have read the tiles of at least one newspapei-
from 73 down to date and searched the archives of the State His-
torical Society diligently and gleaned all 1 could from that

A special vote of thanks is due the newspapers and others who
have loaned cuts and pictures.

1 wish to make special mention of those who have advertised
ill this book. Tbey are the fellows who are up-to-date and pro-
s;ressive or they wouldn't be here. And it is the man who is
public spirited, liberal, and broad minded with whom you want
to deal, not simply because he will do the best for the com-
munity but because he will do the best by you. As you read this
iiook just notice who these men are.

I have done my best to give a true account of the happenings
of Lincoln County. 1 know there will be some mistakes, and 1
do not anticipate that everybody will agree with even that part
of my story which is correct. If you do not agree with me do
not ask mo to change it now. If there is anything left out vfhich
you think ought to have been put in you should have spoken of
i1 last summer. In case 'his book meets with your approval 1
shall be happy. In it does iioi I refuse to worry.


History of Lincoln County

Geology of Lincoln County

Lincoln County lies directly under the ancient coast line of
the Triassic age, along which were deposited enormous beds of
salt, ranging from seventy-five to two hundred fifty feet in thick-
ness, at depths ranging from four hundred fifty feet at Hutchin-
son, Kans., to nine hundred twenty-five feet at Anthony, these
depths being the least and greatest which have been found. So
much for the salt.

Stone was found in the neighborhood which when polished
made a very handsome marble surface. The Lincoln Board of
Trade then sent for Robert Hay, a geologist, who reported on the
geology of Lincoln County as follows:

"The Geology of Lincoln County, Kansas, is mainly connected
with two sub-divisions of the Cretacious group of formations.
These in descending order are Benton series and Dakota series.
There is some good building material in the Dakota, formed
during tho epoch. The marble found in some limited districts
may be looked for in other areas. It is quite likely that the
Dakota sandstone will yield gas under favorable conditions.
These conditions are most likely to be found under the high
land forming the divide from Lost Creek around the head of the
Prosser and Rattlesnake Creeks. It is possible that similar con-
ditions may be found in the southwest part of the county, and
on the west line between Wolf and Spillman. Gas must not be
sought near the outcrop of the strata, hence the localities indi-
cated here.

"The lignite at every place we visited was at the same geolog-
ical horizon, very nearly at the top of the Dakota. It is useless
to look for this bed low down in the Saline Valley. The best
guide to its position is the lowest layer of Benton limestones.
If the boring is begun at some twenty feet below that, the hori-
zon of the lignite will be reached at less than one hundred feet.
It will probably pay to test it on the slopes of Lost Creek,
Beaver, Rattlesnake, Upper Bullfoot, and West Elkhorn. The
Dakota may yet yield another li?nite horizon, and if so, it will
be better, being farther below the surface."

J. R. Mead gives an account of a legendary tin mine in the

m.-itorij of Lincoln County

History of Lincoln County

vacinity of Elkhorn or Elm Creek. So far it has never been dis-

Among tlie valuable materials which have been found and used
are coal, which was first discovered in wells; marble, red, brown,
and purple, streaked with white; salt and building lock, which
is still extensively quarried.

The above is a picture of Table Kock, for which Table Rock
Creek was named. For many years it was a great curio to trav-
elers who came through this section, but was destroyed by un-
known parties some years ago.

10 History of Lincoln County


Geographically speaking Lincoln County is in the central part
of Kansas, and Kansas is in the center of the Universe, hence
the importance of what shall follow. It is watered and drained
by the Saline River, and by its tributaries, the creeks. Wolf and
Spillinan, Lost, Beaver, Twelve Mile on the north and Twin, Bull-
foot, Spring, Elkhorn, Owl and Table Rock on the south, also
by Rattlesnake and Battle Creek, which flow into Salt Creek in
the northwestern part of the county. There are seven hundred
fifty sections of arable land, most of which is under cultivation.
The landscape is just rolling enough to be beautiful, but not to
interfere with tillage. The air is so clear that the eye may span
many miles, and looking from any high point one may see com-
fortable and thrifty farm-yards, shaded by beautiful trees and
surrounded by fertile well-kept fields. One can trace the streams
by their wooded banks, and perhaps see the spires of a village
in the distance.

Withdraw these evidences of civilization from the scene, peo-
ple it instead with occasional herds of buffalo, deer, elk, ante-
lope, towns of prairie-dogs, packs of gray wolves, flocks of wild
turkey and prairie-chiclcens, with perhaps a band of Indians
mounted or afoot, and you have the proper scene for the be-
ginning of these chronicles.

Some of these herds of buffalo and deer were surprisingly
large sometimes, containing t€ns of thousands. We have it on
good authority that a single herd of buffalo crossing the railroad
track some time in the sixties held up a train from nine o'clock
in the morning till five in the evening. Mr. Erhardt tells of
starting out from his home with a friend to get some tallow and
killing ninety-two buffalos in one afternoon. This must have
been before the year 1S70. In ten years from the time the first
settlers came, buffalo began to be very scarce in the county,
very few were seen after 1877.

Mr. J. R. Mead, in a letter to Miss Clara Green, speaks of
seeing a herd of elk between five hundred and a thousand, in
number, coming down the valley from Spillman Creek. They
crossed the Saline where the town of Lincoln now stands. A
hundred great bucks were in the herd, their immense horns

Histurij of Lincoln County 11

looking likf- a forest of dry cottonwood limbs, as they walked
through the sunflowers with their bodies partly hidden by the
grass and weeds.

Mr. Mead also tells of. a great herd of deer which he saw in
this county. He has given a complete description of this section
of the country in its natural state. We quote in brief:

"in the lowlands along the river the sunflowers grew a dense
thicket ten feet high. Along the bluff was a line of drift show-
ing the valley had been covered six feet with water, i'his line
of drift extended far up the river, and the valley above where
Lincoln now stands must have been covered, judging from the
drift ten to fifteen feet deep, occasioned by the bluffs on either
side and the thick timber forming a gorge."

In his letter he says further: "1 and my party were nearly
drowned on Wolf Creek in 1861. The water rose thirty feet in
an hour. Big logs and trees were left at the foot of the bluffs
a quarter of a mile from the creek."

Besides the animals above mentioned there were many beav-
ers, ravens, eagles, badgers, squirrels, porcupines, raccoons,
foxes, otter, and wildcats.

The famous Pawnee road which extended from Nebraska to
the Big Bend of the Arkansas, thence wherever opportunity af-
forded, came through what is now Lincoln County and crossed
the Spillman five or six miles above its mouth. This well-
watered, well-wooded country, full of big game, offered a happy
hunting-ground, and with its ridges and rocks was a bonanza
for primitive warfare.

Of the tribes which frequented this country, the writer has
learned very little except that Pottawatomies, Cheyennes, Sioux,
Delawares, Kaws, Otoes, and Pawnees were all seen by early
hunters in the valleys of the Saline and Spillman. It seems
that these Indians were seldom dangerous if they knew a white
man was armed and had the will and ability to defend himself.
But J. R. Mead has well said: "The timid and weaklings had
no business in that country." The Pawnees in particular were
capable of being docilized, and the superior keenness which
ages of thieving had taught them, made them valuable govern-
ment scouts in the border warfares. They were excellent horse-
men, and had a thorough knowledge of the country over which
their raids extended, hundreds of miles in width and from Ne-
braska to Mexico.

The Pawnee road above mentioned was no defined path, but
just a route within a strip of country a mile or so in width.
They made semi-annual buffalo hunts with this road as a basis.
Next in importance, as a means to wealth and honor was their

12 History of Lincoln County

thieving expeditions. J. R. Mead describes the equipment of one
of these parties: "The Pawnees invariably went on these expe-
ditions afoot in parties of from two to thirty-five, composed
mostly of young men. They were lightly armed, all had a very
serviceable bow and quiver of arrows, and a knife. Each In-
dian carried from four to six extra pair of new moccasins, one
or more lariats, twenty pounds of dried meat, some pieces of
strap to repair their clothing also a pipe and tobacco, an occa-
sional light squaw axe and a few trifles. This was all that was
necessary for a thousand mile journey. Although they went
afoot they expected to come back mounted for when they raided
another tribe they depended on stealing enough horses to get
away on. A piece of tanned hide looped around the lower jaw
of the horse was bridle enough. They were so successful that
they were hated by all other plains tribes. Their hand was
against every man and every man's hand against them. All
tribes were united in their effort to exterminate the thieving

Mr. Mead says further: "Periodically the Cheyenne warriors
spread out like a net, swept over the rolling country of hills
and streams and valleys between the Solomon and Saline in
eager search of the detested raiding parties."

The Pawnees avoided conflict wherever possible as it inter-
fered with their business, they were out to steal ponies and not
to pick quarrels, but once drawn into battle they were among
the bravest and most skilled warriors of the plains.

The Pawnees followed the same program after the coming
of the whites. They had once occupied all the territjrity of
Kansas and still claimed it, and thought they had a right to gain
their living from it. This worked a great hardship on the set-
tlers, which, with other hardships of pioneer life, prompted
Wasshington Smith in his history to ask what motives "impelled
men to leave the scenes of childhood, the surrounding of youth,
the love of kindred and associations of home, the tender ties of
friendship and the graves of their ancestors to contend with the
inclement skies and inhospitable shores of an unknown coun-

Their motives were various, but in any case it was not
dangers, hardships, privations, calamity, war and death which
filled the minds of those who laid the foundations of our present
commonwealth. It was rather the opportunity of a new country,
a veritable new heaven and new earth, which attracted them.
Here was an opportunity to transfer the best of what existed
in older settled places and to build to that something more ad-
vanced and better, and economically an opportunity to gain

History of Lincoln County

new and richer estates for themselves, and better advantages
for their children.

Those who looked on the right and not the wrong side of the
picture had strength, and faith to endure all adversity and were
permitted to see with their own eyes all these things come to
pass. Such is the reward of the hope that "springs eternal in
the human breast."

History of Lincoln Coimi

Coming of the White Men

It is not possible to go very far back in the history of Lin-
coln County, although our introduction has shown thai prehis-
toric times in this section of the country must have bfsen full
of interesting events. We have seen that with its superior ad-
vantages for food, war and sport it was the favorite stomping
ground of several . tribes of Indians. It was claimed by more
than one tribe, even after it had become government lana by
treaty. The Pawnees, especially, still considered it theirs and
thought they had a right to gain their living from it by raids.

The first white man on record to visit what is now Lincoln
County was Bourgmont and his party in 1724. His line of march
has been traced through the county going from east to west.
Pike and his party came through in 1806. His line of march
extended from the north, and the two routes intersected about
the place where Lincoln Center now stands.

In the fifties hunting parties going up the Saline and Solomon
Rivers operated in the territority which is now Lincoln County.
Few of them left any record of their findings or their exper-

Some of Mr. Mead's adventures appeared in Vol. IX of the
State Historical collections from which the following quotations
are taken:

"There was a battle fought on the plains north of the Spillman
Creek in June, 1861. The Otoe tribe from the north, with their
families and a letter from their agent, came down for a big
hunt. They camped in the valley along the creek. The Chey-
ennes found them and sent three or four hundred warriors to
drive them out. The Cheyennes were afraid to charge the
camp as the Otoes had guns. Both sides fought on horseback
with bows and arrows and after the battle arrows could be
picked up everywhere. In one instance two young men rushed
together at full speed, seized each other with their left hands,
stabbing with their right till both fell dead without releasing
their hold. The Otoes finally retreated down the river to my
ranch with scalps, ears, fingers and toes of their enemies,
trophies of the fight, tied on poles.

"Once I left a young fellow at a camp I had established while

History of Lincoln County 15

I went over to Wolf Creek to hunt a few days. On returning
I found my man hidden out in the brush nearly frozen, with
nothing to wear but his under clothes. Two Indians came
along with some stolen horses, saw he was scared, made him
cook all they could eat then took off his clothes or whatever
else they wanted and leisurely packed their ponies, Back
of the camp shelter was my young man with two loaded guns
hid under some skins. He was too badly scared to use them.
He could easily have gotten away with both Indians, but he
lacked grit.

"On another occasion (December, 1861), I established a
camp on Spillman Creek and after collecting a quantity of furs
left one man in the camp and went to hunt with my other man
and team. It was very cold and snow deep. In a day or two
the man I had left came to my camp; said he heard shooting
around, was scared and skipped in the night. I drove back and
found my camp plundered and a big trail in the snow leading
down to the river. Directing my men to follow I started after
them on my pony. In a few miles I saw them ahead on foot. Each
one had a big wolf skin of mine hanging down his back, a slit
in the neck going over his head. There were thirty-three of
the party. I followed thera unseen for some distance and saw
1 could not possibly get around them as my pony could hardly
stand, her feet were so smooth; but I had to get to my ranch
ahead of them, so I rode into them and was surrounded and
captured. I found they were a party of Sioux on marauding
expedition, some of them, the most villinanous-looking beings
I ever saw. I gave them a good talk, let on I was glad to see
them, proposed we all travel together to which they agreed,
had a jolly time for half a day, by which time I had so in-
gratiated myself with the chief who was a fine fellow, that I was
allowed to go on alone. Our conversation was carried on in
sign language. I had two men at the ranch and my men with
the team got in that night. The Indians came to my place the
next morning and built a fortified camp in the timber back of
the house. I treated them nicely, gave them tobacco and got
all my furs back except an otter skin."

"Uncle Mike" Sterns, as he is familiarly known here, used to
hunt in this country with Uncle Tom Boyle, Ade Spahn, and a
man by the name of Dean, in fifty-eight and fifty-nine. He
says that the Moffit ranch house was located about 150 yards
down ihe Saline River from Rocky Hill bridge on the north
bank. The evacuation may be seen there at this time.

On one of these hunting trips the party camped near the
mouth of Beaver Creek under a large oak tree that is familiar

History of Lincoln County

1o all of the old settlers and on going to the creek for water
found it dry. Spahn, being an old hunter, led the party up the
creek very cautiously and when near where the Dan Day's barn
now stands, they came upon a beaver dam where several
hundred beavers were busily engaged in enlarging it. Uncle
IMike says that it was one of the most beautiful sights he has
ever seen.

On another of these hunting expeditions they pitched their
camp on the Elkhorn bottom south of Rocky Hill. One of them
carelessly threw a quarter of buffalo meat on the picket pins.
That night when they staked the horses out with the pins the
wolves were so ravenous that they gnawed the pins to pieces,
the horses escaped and they never recovered them. One of
the ntimber walked to tUeir home in Salina and brougni tip a
team of oxen v/ith which they continued the hunt. On this
trip they saw some wolves surrotmd a cast off buffalo and make
a circle around him with relays and after chasing him till he
was exhausted they hamstringed him and devoured him. This
took place around the bluff near where Sam Weigert now lives,
southeast of Lincoln.

At one tim.e when camped on the J. \V. McReynolds farm in
what is now Franklin township, the others of the party went
away for the day, as was their usual custom, and left Mr.
Sterns in charge of the camp. A party of Indians came up
and asked for coffee. He refused to get it for them and after
repeatedly asking for it they grew angry and one of them
picked up a loaded musket, cocked it and placed the muzzle
at his breast. He then pointed to the bucket and to the spring
up (lie hill and told them to go. He did so, and upon returning
found the Indians gone and all of the camp supplies stolen.

The accompanying illustration is the scene of a battle-ground
of the Pottawatomie and Pawnee Indians, on Bullfoot. Indian
bones were found in the cave shown in the picture and vari-
ous opinions have been advanced as to how they came there.
Mr. F. A. Schemerhorn says in a letter: "As to the battle be-
tween two Indian tribes on Bullfoot, I went over there in 1867
and gathered up a sack full of skulls and gave them to Dr. T. B.
Fryer then post surgeon at Fort Harker, and nearly every
skull had a bullet hole in it, showing that they were killed by
bullets and not with arrows. It was generally believed then
that those Indians were killed in a tight with some buffalo-hunt-
ers in ISGo, I think on Beaver Creek. I think Dan Day now
owns the place where the fisht occurred. As it was the custom
of the Indians to bury their dead by placing them upon scaf-
folds in some out-of-the-way place and on some high point gen-

History of Lincoln County

erally, we supposed they carried their dead from the fight on
Beaver Creek over to the point of the rocks on Bullfoot, which
was at that time an out-of-the-way place, as the hunters and
trappers going up the river generally traveled up the north

Indian Battleground.

side of the sUeam. There was no travel to amount to any-
thing on the south side of the river when I went there In 1867."

Mr. Ferdinand Erhardt, who came to live on Bullfoot in 1867,
found a number of skeletons in the cave before mentioned
but gives a different explanation.

One day in 186S Mr. Jilrhardt was walking along the ridge on
the south side of Bullfoot when his dog, prowling among the
locks, came up with a skull. Mr. Erhardt followed the dog
back and found an open cave filled with Indian skeletons. He
reported his find to Fort Marker, and the soldiers sent a con-
veyance to remove the skeletons to that place. There were
sixteen whole skeletons in the cave, and they were sufficiently
preserved to be moved without going to pieces. Mr. Erhardt at
that time shared the belief spoken of by Mr. Schemerhorn,
namely, that these were the remains of Indians killed by the
Moffit boys on Beaver Creek.

But about the year 1880 a band of Pottawatomie Indians
camped on Bullfoot and laid out the battle-ground for Mr. Er-
hardt, and also left the story of the affray in characters on the
wall of the cave. It seems that the Pottawatomies and Pawnees
liad been quarreling about their hunting-ground. The Pot-

18 Histoyy of Lincoln County

lawatomies drove this band of Pawnees in from the west, wlio,
being hard pressed, took refuge in this cave and were massa-
creed by the Pottawatomies. A Pottawatomie was killed by a
Pawnee who shot up from the cave. Those who do not believe
that such a battle occurred, and that this was a burying-ground
instead of a battle-ground, base their opinion on three things.

First, that the Indians were killed by bullets and not by ar-

Second, that there were no remains of horses found near the
place, and that Pawnee ingenuity would scarcely pern it them
to take refuge in such a death-trap as this cave proved to be.

Third, that both the Pottawatomie and the Pawnee Indians
were peaceful and never had any tights.

The writer is inclined to credit the story of the battle. It
was learned by Mr. Erhardt direct from the Pottawatomie In-
dians themselves. Mr. J. R. Mead is authority for the state-
ment that in the year 1861 a large band of Otoes who camped
on the Spillman were armed with guns. So the Pawnees and
Pottawatomies might have had them two years later.

Indians were often, but by no means always, mounted on
horses. According to the I'ecord left on the rocks the pursuing
party was mounted. Mr. Sol. Hambarger says the Pawnees
were likely on one of their thieving expeditions on foot. They
were driven in to the rocks from the north or northwest.

The fact that their enemies were mounted and they were not
will probably account for the Pawnees taking refuge in the first
stronghold which presented itself instead of choosing a better
place to defend.

The Pottawatomies that camped near the battle-ground in
1880 had an interpreter with them, who talked with Mr. Erhardt.

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Online LibraryElizabeth N. 1884- BarrA souvenir history of Lincoln County, Kansas → online text (page 1 of 8)