July 29, 2014

Some old county settlements, now extinct

Compiled by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

Pioneer news publications, ancestral letters, and reminiscenses of "old timers" frequently mention lesser known towns and settlements in Jefferson County, many extinct.

Following is a partial list of those places and approximate locations although some locations are possibly inaccurate because of Jefferson County boundry changes. Locations were determined from an 1860 map:

Anderson, located on the west side of Grasshopper River in 1855; Ashcroft, located in Norton Township; a farmer's post office known as Nichols Station; Boones Settlement located 2 1/2 miles southeast of Williamstown on the north bank of the Kansas River; Buck Creek, a station on the Kansas Pacific Railroad near where Buck Creek enters the Kaw.

Butler or Butlers, a townsite on the farm of Wm. Butler six miles east of Oskaloosa on the Military Road, see Middletown, Midway, and Ole; Centerville, the site of a town laid out in 1865 about midway between Perry and Medina; Clement, a post office which changed to Williamstown in 1865; Coon's Point, see Marshall, Crooked Creek, located five miles southeast of Nortonville; Crow Hollow, located about
three miles southwest of Boyle.

Dayton, another name for Pleasant Hill on the west side of Grasshopper River about one mile from Ozawkie; Defiance, received three (or eight) votes in the 1859 election for county seat of Jefferson County; Dixon, located nine miles southeast of Oskaloosa, a rural post office in 1883 and 1884; Fairfield, located in Jefferson Township, received 10 votes for county seat in 1858.

Hardtville or Hardville, near the Hickory Point battle site in Delaware Trust Lands, one of the first voting places in the county; Indian Mill, founded in 1854 by Solomon Everett, a Kaw half-breed, same site as Mormon Village and Thompsonville; Jacksonville, laid out in spring of 1855, about one mile east of Oskaloosa; Jacksonville, a new site laid out south of Ozawkie. It appears on maps several miles southeast of Ozawkie and southwest of Oskaloosa.

Jefferson City in Delaware Township (Grasshopper Falls). A post office from 1864 to about 1870; Kaw City, located in Kaw Township on the east side of Muddy Creek, post office established in 1858. The railroad missed the town and the post office moved to Grantville in 1866; Kaw Station, a railroad station at Grantville. Both names appear on several maps.

Marshall, the Topeka Tribune of Feb. 20, 1858, reports that an institution of higher learning in Jefferson County to be called Mt. Hope was to be opened in the spring at Marshall, which old timers remember as Coon's Point; McIntosh, a railroad station between McLouth and Oskaloosa; Medina, a station of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, a post office from 1866 to about 1902.

Middletown or Midway, a rural post office in 1857 on the same site as Butlers and Ole; Monroe City, incorporated on June 10, 1865, the present site of Perry; Mormon Village, located three miles northwest of Perry, settled by Mormons from 1851 to 1853 or '54. The site later of Indian Mills and Thompsonville.

Newell's Mill, now present Oskaloosa; Nichols Station, a side track and stopping place for AT&SF Railroad; Norton, shown on some maps as present site of Nortonville; Pleasant Hill, also called Dayton; Plum Creek, a post office from June 22, 1869, to Sept. 4, 1871, located seven miles north of Williamstown.

Savannah, the name first chosen for Winchester; Tebbsville or Tibbsdale, located two miles north of Ozawkie; Thompsonville, about three miles northwest of Perry, a post office from June 17, 1878 to May 1901, same site as Mormon Village and Indian Mills.

Source: Yesteryears, October 1980.

The historical society's museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2.

July 21, 2014

1931 in Valley Falls - businesses opening and expanding

Compiled by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

Preserved in a large plastic envelope and stored among the files of the Valley Falls Historical Society, a collection of newpaper clippings dated 1931, revealed the following news items:

March 13, "A heavy snow accompanied by high winds completely blocked all highways out of Valley Falls last Friday night and not until Monday was it possible to get through to Topeka. The Saturday games of the baseball tournament were postponed until Monday. The out-of-town teams could not get here."

March 20, "Mrs. Maxwell of Kansas City wishes to announce to her patrons she will be in Valley Falls doing permanent waving beginning March 30th. Anyone wishing either the Edmond Spiral or the Realistic Croquignole Wind permanent, call Mrs. Clyde Brooks, telephone 88, for appointment.

"The high school sociology class, under Miss Wilson's instruction, just completed a very interesting study on Valley Falls and the surrounding community. It was found there are 76 places of business; every type of shop and station as well as stores, banks, cafes, etc. The Valley Falls Vindicator prints over 1,400 copies weekly and these papers are distributed all over the United States from coast to coast. Some are sent to Scotland and Canada. Only 45 families in Valley Falls do not take the Vindicator. The Valley Falls Post Office takes an average of 30 sacks of mail daily to the train. There are five rural routes out from this office and the longest route going eight miles from town. The Meyer Milk Company makes hundreds of pounds of butter each week and a large quantity of powdered milk."

April 3, "Antone Gettler is tearing down the remains of his residence damaged by fire and will use the material to build a service station, garage, and lunch room on south Sycamore Street at the junction with Hwy. 4. When completed, will be a 'city within itself ' except a rooming house. Antone expects to handle the Phillips oil and gas products."

May 8, "The Hatfield Penslar Store is to install a fine new soda fountain within the next week. LaVelle Walker has been employed and will be charge of the fountain."

May 15, " Mit Huber is now located in the Shuler Building — operating a cigar factory, pool and billiard room, and a lunch counter."

May 29, "This week Elvin Neiman began work on the excavation for the new building, which he is putting up, which will house the Rausch Chevrolet Motor Co."

June 12, " A deal was consummated whereby Walt McDaniels and wife will sell the City Cafe to Chas. Tinklen and wife of Atchison.
"A.N. (Nick) Gahm has leased the City Bakery to a Mr. Dial of Topeka who will come here next Monday to take charge.
"Piano lessons — 12 for $5. Pay in September. Nell K. Ferguson."

Aug. 31, "Last week some Valley Falls boys 'visited' the Wm. Baumgarten watermelon patch in anticipation of securing some choice specimens. They had failed to take into consideration the fact that the Baumgartens slept in the patch. One of the watchmen fired both barrels of a shotgun into the air. The would-be pilferers quickly surrendered and they were locked in the granary. After a few hours they were released upon promise to 'never again.' "

Bacon Squares lb. 8c
Coney's—2 lbs. for 21c
Brick Cheese—Pound 28c
American Cheese—Pound 28c
Mitchell Bros. Bacon—(home cured) whole or half—12 1-2c
Pork Chops—Pound 13 1-2c
Weiners—Pound 13 1.2c
Boiled Ham—Pound 30c
Fresh Ham—Pound 12 1-2c
Sausage-2 pounds 17c
Hamburger—Pound 10c
Lunch Ham—Pound 12 1-2c
Beef Roast 10c
Sliced Bacon—Pound 14c
Prices f. o. b.
Lucky Day started This Week.
C. F. HESS, Manager.

The historical society museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 19.

July 09, 2014

Breach of Promise: Evans says Crosby humiliated him, 1909

by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

A breach of promise suit highlights the news items reported by the 1909 Farmers' Vindicator. Included among the town's daily and weekly events were the following, by dates:

Jan. 29, "The Electric Theater is giving universal satisfaction. Fine pictures and good singing every night and an entire change of program three times each week. Continuous show Saturday afternoon from 2:30."

Partial list of professionals: G.W. Marks, D.D.S. and J.M. Marks, M.D.; Dr. A.D. Lowry, physician and surgeon, successsor to Dr. G.W. England; G.H. Hobson, physician and surgeon, office in the Dr. Marks' Corner Drug Store; Dr. A.H. Braden, dentist, office over Corner Drug Store; Dr. L.R. Walker, veterinary, surgeon, horse dentistry a specialty; and T.K. Aiken, D.D.S., Aiken Building, upstairs.

Feb. 19, "Around the Courthouse" — 'A license was issued to Perry W. Corkadel and Miss May Conser to wed.' 'A marriage license was issued to Max Boyer and Inez Falls.' "

"Notice: See the Bloomer Girls play ball Saturday, June 11."

"Shuler & Son are starting to build a workshop and hearse house in the rear of their furniture store, which will give them plenty of room. It does not take a long memory to recall when Shulers' got along on much less."

July 30, "Three cars are off the tracks and about 50 sheep are dead as a result of a wreck on the Union Pacific just east of Oak Hill Wednesday morning. About 100 hundred sheep got away and were rounded up by Chas. McAfee. No lives were lost."

Sept. 10, "Breach of Promise Suit — The breach of promise petition filed last week by Eli Evans' attorneys, is the former's suit for Breach of Promise against Mrs. Rufus Crosby of Valley Falls. Mr. Evans alleges that he and Mrs. Crosby became engaged Dec. 26, 1908, and they agreed on an early marriage. Mrs. Crosby suggested May of the coming year and it was mutually agreed upon.

"Upon the approach of May, Mrs. Crosby asked for a postponement of 30 days for her to get her residence 'fixed up and repaired.' During the 30 days both Evans and Mrs. Crosby procured elaborate and expensive wedding clothes. When the 30 days were up, Mrs. Crosby asked for delay until about Aug. 15.

"Aug. 15 rolled around and this time the defendant's request for delay was construed as a refusal to carry out her part of the contract and at that time she refused to marry the defendant.

"The petition alleges that Mrs. Crosby is worth $250,000 and the defendant is worth $20,000. According to the defendent, at the time of the marriage agreement, Mrs. Crosby requested to him that she needed him to manage her property and agreed to divide equally between the two. The chief grounds for the $25,000 damages requested by Evans was, that after the marriage arrangement, he made business changes to his damage, was humiliated, mortified, and injured in feelings and reputation. The case will be docketed for the coming term of court — unless a settlement should be made before."

Friday, March 18, 1910, "The Evans-Crosby Breach of Promise case will never be heard, as the stipulations ending the suit were filed in the clerk's office Monday. By the terms of the agreement, Mrs. Crosby is to pay Mr. Evans the sum of $1,500 in full satisfaction for all claims he has or might have had against her and she to pay the court costs, but Mr. Evans to pay the cost of the depositions taken heretofore in the case, and each side to pay their own attorney fees." (Source: "Around the Courthouse")

The society museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 12.

July 02, 2014

Early Independence Day Celebrations

by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

Heralded, soon after the year of its founding, Grasshopper Falls (now Valley Falls) was renowned for its great celebrations of the Fourth of July.

The first reported by local newspaper was 1857, the same year the McCarger Bros. commenced building a new hotel in the new settlement.

The materials were on the ground and the frame raised when W.C. Butts and David Fradenburg from NewYork concluded the hotel business in the "wild and wooly west" was theirs to engage in and bought out the McCargers.

The new buyers pushed the work to completion by the Fourth of July, 1857, except for partitions and plastering upstairs. The new hotel was opened to the public on the national holiday, was named the Cataract honoring the Falls on the Grasshopper River, and a great ball was planned.

Great preparations were made for the ball. Invitations were sent, expert cooks from Leavenworth were engaged weeks in advance to prepare a grand supper. The ball was a great success. It was the windup of a gala celebration of the 4th, for which the town has ever since been noted.

The next great celebration of the Fourth, that is recorded, occurred in 1861. In April 1861, the Civil War had started. The feeling of patriotism was running high. A local militia company, the Jefferson Rifles, under Lt. Lewis Stafford, had been formed and had been enrolled on May 29th, 1861, in Company E., 1st Kansas volunteer infantry, at Leavenworth. About 1,100 people attended the event.

By eight o'clock in the morning they began to arrive. They came on foot, horseback, in lumber wagons, market wagons, carriages, buggies drawn by men, plowing teams, ponies, and thoroughbreds.

The delegation from Oskaloosa and McClenny Ridge, numbering 34 wagons, headed by Oskaloosa Guards, were met at the border of town by Jefferson Rifles and three assistant marshals for escort.

Records for 1864 report the celebration was not very enjoyable. Weather was hot, dry, and few seats and little water was available. The event was ill prepared.

There was no celebration in 1875. The state and the community were deep in financial depression caused by drought and by the plague of clouds of grasshoppers.

In 1876, the one hundreth anniversary of our national independence, Valley Falls once again prepared for a great celebration.

A bright, breezy day was ushered in with the ringing of bells and firing of guns. People from different parts of the country arrived with displays of banners and mottoes and by 10:30 a.m. the parade had started down Broadway headed by the Valley Falls coronet band. Blue Mound sent a large delegation with mottoes and banners appropriate for the occasion. All along the route, buildings were beautifully decorated with flags. A stand for speakers and singers was erected and seats provided for a great number of people.

At a grave selected by the organizers, prayers were offered, a centennial hymn was sung by the glee club, speeches by selected speakers, and after an intermission for dinner, and series of toasts and patriotic speeches continued, followed by contests, wheelbarrow and potato races. All in all a gala day for celebrating the centennial anniversary of our nation's declaration of independence.

The Fourth of July celebrations have continued through the years, changing with the times and with the whims of generations, sometimes more extravagant than others.

Transportation and communication advances influenced changes in locale and availability of more materials and equipment for greater extravangance and more sophisticated displays with patriotism, liberty, and freedom the core of each celebration.

Oratory and mock battles became less frequent and family outings, weekend trips, and simple "extra day off" gained popularity, with fireworks climaxing the day.

Happy Holiday!

The historical society museum will close at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 5.

June 25, 2014

July window displays

by Betty Jane Wilson

The Valley Falls Historical Society window displays honor the celebrations of our nation's Independence Day, July 4, with symbols of freedom and liberty.

The seasonal window is dominated by a giant replica of the Declaration of Independence surrounded by placards naming signers of the document, many of whom also signed the Constitution of the United States.

An enlarged photo of the 1911 Valley Falls Fourth of July parade accompanies the declaration. A fife and drum corp painting, by local artist Susan Phillips, overlooks the patriotic scene.

Military service flags, displayed before a background of red, white, and blue banners and framed by miniature United States of America flags, pay homage to the revered holiday.

The society museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 28.

NOTE: Two oversized scrapbooks, dated 1916 and 1926-'27 respectively, presently of unknown origin, containing hundreds of newspaper clippings of local and historic events are currently on display at the museum. Visitor browsing in encouraged.

June 18, 2014

Remembering the Railroads

Compiled by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

From the Valley Falls Historical Society files, excerpts from a collection of railroad tales and quotes composed by the late Lorene Catron for the historial society — 1981.

"The first railroads built in the USA were started about 1829. It was 1859 before the railroad system reached this area, which was St. Joseph, Mo.

"Trains ran on wood — coal — water — and mutton tallow until 1859 when a conductor on the New Haven Railroad dug a 60-foot oil well at Titusville, Pa. This was a breakthrough.

"Another great advancement was the use of windmills, which were introduced by the railroads. Union Pacific had 70 large windmills they used for pumping water for use on the locomotives. One of the largest towers was 72 ft. high with a wheel 25 ft. across.

"The railroads were not welcomed by the boat people, especially in the south. They fought them all, going so far as to sabotage the bridges across riverways. Besides boat and bridge shippers, rival railroad crews would sabotage each other in order to hold their territory . . .

"Americans were enchanted with the Iron Horse! In 10 years, railroad promoters had taken 33 million acres across the peoples' land. In planning the railroads, Indian rights were ignored and 31 million buffalo were slaughtered in Kansas alone . . . The railroads west and south intercepting thousands of cattle grazing grounds . . . Even with free land, it took capital to build a railroad. Counties voted money, towns voted land and cash for terminals, individuals invested $400 and $500 each.

"Business would boom, real estate prices soared, farms started, and everybody won.

"The Santa Fe was late getting started, but in 1871 work started from both ends — Topeka to Atchison. It was completed in 1872.

"At that time, trains ran by smoke and headlights. The crews kept Winchester rifles handy. Drunken cowboys shot out the headlights, raided lonely depots, and Indians and prairie fire plagued the new railroads.

"The trains had no vestibule on their passenger cars. Conductors and brakemen leaped from car to car. There were no lavatories. Coal stoves heated the cars in winter.

"Before the railroad moved in, only a few thousand people were in the territory. In a few short weeks, with a railroad, the population doubled and tripled.

"The 'work train,' which laid out the railroad, was a 'town on wheels.' Laying of the rails was like a military operation. There were surveyors, locaters, graders, bridge builders, men placing ties, laying track, spiking down the rails, ballasting and completing the road.

"Work camps looked like a town. Another camp would be established 140 miles or so west. Then a new camp would follow on wagons with the the knocked down buildings, tents, wooden siding, and entire roofs. The vilest of men and women, gamblers, and desperadoes made up these settlements. Herds of cattle were driven each day alongside the work train to have fresh beef to eat. It cost $20 to $30 thousand to build a mile of railroad. Even then much of the work was shoddy and had to be replaced.

"The telegraph lines replaced the Pony Express. Each train carried a telegrapher as a member of the crew. He also served as a baggage man. Engineers and firemen were paid $60 a month. The brakeman had the most dangerous job of all and was paid $40 a month. He had to stand between the cars to couple them together. Many had missing fingers and hands. He also had to ride on top of cars in all kinds of weather to use the hand brakes. It took 15 or 20 years before railroads put in automatic couplers and air brakes."

Passenger rail service in Valley Falls ended in 1958.

The society's museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 21.

June 10, 2014

Tragic death of Pearl Ferguson, 1904

Compiled by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

Born October 20, 1880 — Died October 16, 1904, Miss Pearl Ferguson

The news headlines and story reflecting the shock and grief of the community follows:

"Terrible tragedy. The flower of womanhood withered by suicide's bitter blight. Mind impaired by sickness. The beautiful and popular Miss Pearl Ferguson runs from her palatial home, plunges from a bridge into the Delaware and drowns in the night. Dark clouds have hovered over the skies during most of the week and cold rain has dampened and chilled the earth; but the clouds are as sunbeams compared with the shroud of gloom that appalls the hearts of Jefferson County and the moisture from the dreary skies perhaps does not compare with the flood of tears shed by a multitude of sorrowing people over the pitfall, tragic death of Miss Pearl Ferguson, the only daughter of Mr. Walter Ferguson, ex-county treasurer of this county.

"The sad story begins with March 1904 when Miss Pearl and her mother were afflicted with the measels, her mind has been affected ever since.

"During this time she was under the constant surveillance of a competent medical advisor and her condition was thought to be rapidly improving. Last Sunday evening Walter Ferguson was writing a letter to his brother, Mrs. Ferguson was reading to her two youngest sons, and Miss Pearl played awhile on the piano and then went upstairs saying she would write a letter to her uncle also.

"Soon Mr. Ferguson went to her room to get her letter, but he could not find his daughter. After calling outside, they searched her room. Miss Pearl's rings, watch, combs, pins and hat were there and in a drawer were found two letters, one to her parents and one to her brother, Ross, and his wife.

"The former letter lamented over mental condition since her sickness and expressed the fear that she would become worse. She said she had deliberated long over what she should do and decided that for the sake of herself and loved ones she best end it all.

"The letter told her parents that it would be no use to try to find her, that she was the same as dead. But if they did, to give her a Christian burial. A tender farewell was signed, 'Your dead Pearl.'

"The letter to Ross and his wife begged them to be kind to her parents as they would have no daughter now and bade them farewell.

"Mr. Ferguson called Dr. M.F. Marks, who had the case in charge and said he feared they were in trouble and asked the doctor if there was any danger of the girl doing anything desperate; to which the doctor responded positively and started a search immediately with C. Smith and J. Huber and others.

"At the bridge they saw a lantern below. It was the girl's brother, Ross, and F. Harmon looking out into the water. Strangely within only a dozen feet was the girl's body, but the cold silent waters in the blackness of night told no secret.

"All night long lanterns as thick as stars glimmered through the woods, fields and byways. Monday and Monday night hundreds continued the search. Many gave up the search. Tuesday afternoon Dr. Marks, Lou Hauck and J.E. Tutt were in a boat dragging the river.

"Lou Hauck said, 'We might as well cross here, leave the boat and give up, but I will always believe she is right between the bridges.'

"Tutt said, 'My mind was raking through this hole and I dreamed I found her.'

"Dr. Marks, who had the oars, said, 'If she is near here, I will take you across the place she is most likely to be.'

"Just then about seven feet above the wagon bridge at Legler Hill near the east side of the river, Tutt's hook caught something heavy and the poor young woman's dresses were pulled to the top of the water.

"Perhaps 500 people in 150 carriages attended the funeral Wednesday. Cold rain fell in dreary mist as if nature was weeping over 'Poor Dead Pearl!' Rev. Braden preached the sermon — short, impressive, paying glowing just tribute to the fair dead — attributing no blame to man or God.

"The deceased, born in Valley Falls, was buried one day before her 24th birthday . . . a beautiful useful life ended . . . a thousand hearts now ache with sorrow. Our priceless Pearl is gone."

The society's museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 14.