December 22, 2011

Founding of Valley Falls

— Researched by the late historian Arthur Strawn
"Ten foot falls!" yelled pioneer James Frazier. His three companions came running and in a minute Grasshopper Falls was discovered. Traditionally, the story is repeated in December as "A Happy Birthday Grasshopper Falls (Valley Falls)" greeting.
Christmas Day, 1854
On the morning of Saturday, December 23, 1854, four men — James Frazier, Robert Riddle, Andrew J. Whitney, and Hozea B. Jolly — set out on foot from their camp on the west side of the Grasshopper River (Delaware). After traveling north about three or four miles, they crossed the present site of Valley Falls, at the corner of Sycamore and Sarah streets. A short distance farther up, they crossed the Grasshopper River and wandered up to about the mouth of Coal Creek before they started their return trip. A short distance above the present town site, at the mouth of Cedar Creek, they found an Indian village and tried to make them understand that the object of their search was a waterfall for a mill site, but did not get any intelligible directions. Continuing their return trip, they reached the point where they had crossed the river. Here James Frazier wandered down a trail along the river hoping to find a fjord. While still in the hazel brush, he heard water running over the rocks, and yelled, "ten foot falls!" (really only about three feet high), at the top of his voice. The others came running and in a minute more, Grasshopper Falls (Valley Falls) was discovered. They returned to the high prairie and moved their camp up to this point on the 24th, and drove stakes for their claim on Monday, December 25th, Christmas Day, then commenced the erection of a cabin. Thus Christmas Day, which has so many meanings for everyone, has a very special meaning for the people of Valley Falls.
The Valley Falls Historical Society Museum will be closed Saturday, Dec. 24, and open Saturday, Dec. 31, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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