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Bypaths of Kansas History - February 1945

(Vol. 13 No. 5), pages 310 to 317.
Transcribed by lhn; digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society.


From the Kansas City (Mo.) Enterprise, May 9, 1857.

You can see the emigrant from every State east of the Mississippi, from Maine to Louisiana, and from the wild rice swamps of the frozen North to cultivated rice fields of the far South-their peculiar habits as distinctly marked as their geographical localities. The real Western man is there, self reliant and taciturn-he asks no questions, for he knows exactly what to do; he has no need of "Kansas Guides" or tickets to agents "who will tell him where to go, and where to settle"; he has been "through the mill," keeps his own counsel and goes his own road. He knows exactly what prairie is worth, and what timber will suffice, and if there is a good "claim" to be found the Western man has it before the Eastern man gets through asking questions of the "man that he was recommended to." Then you find the Southwestern man: he wants to know all about the winters, the grass, and the best portions for stock raising. The man from the Middle States, as they were once called, is on the look out for some point where he can raise wheat, put up a shop, and manufacture or run machinery. The man from the Eastern Slave States wants to know "how the law is," or what "chance for a physician." Over all these the Western man has the advantage, and secures the prize while others are inquiring where it is.

Side by side with this population pressing upon us from the East, are seen the men of the Far West, who come to Kansas City as their East. There is the Indian trader from the Rocky mountains, from the Yellowstone, the country beyond Laramie, and the pleasant valleys lying toward the Great Salt Lake-his almost Indian complexion and moccasins would deceive you into the belief that he was an aborigine. . . . He knows what life on the frontier is, and speaks as a prophet. [You will see him shake hands with the] "mountaineer," men who have made the vast country lying West of the Mississippi and stretching to the Pacific their home. . . . [The mountaineer] is the mail carrier of all that vast region and the minister plenipotentiary between all portions of that wild and secluded country. [You next see the trader of the Southwest] . . . from Santa Fe and the Mexican States beyond. He makes his semi-annual visits with the regularity of the seasons themselves. . . . It is a curious mixture of races that [carries on this trade]. Intermingled with all classes are . . . the pure and untainted Indian. . . . [When one reflects that] this tide is sweeping out through the valley of the Kansas, . . . some idea may be gained of the present and future commerce of this "city of the plains."




From the White Cloud Kansas Chief, November 4, 1858.

STARTLING NEW--ELOPEMENT!-Friday is supposed to be an unlucky day. Such it has proven for White Cloud. On Friday last, this community was startled by the announcement that the pride of the town, the gem of the Missouri, the cynosure of admiring eyes, had been abducted-the accomplished and peerless Julia Ann Pryor had eloped!

The circumstances were these: During the past summer, a young man from the land of steady nutmegs and wooden habits, was engaged in working on the grade, in this place. His sturdy industry, civil deportment, and economical disposition, came under the notice of the gentle Julia Ann, and were a sure passport to her affections. And he, carrying beneath a rough exterior, a soul that could appreciate the beautiful, the virtuous, and the good, soon yielded his heart to the charmer. They met, he proposed, and was accepted. The grade at length was finished, and he was compelled to look elsewhere for employment. But how could he leave his Julia Ann? He could not-and he determined that he would not. And now they made a false step, which, with due consideration, their high sense of honor would have revolted against. They did not ask the consent of the maiden's parents. But he was poor, and perhaps had misgivings-he could not bear to think of the dreadful consequences of a refusal from the aristocratic father and mother. So they determined, in the language of the immortal poet, Anonymous, to

"Slide, like the tail of a greased hog from the paws of a fat Dutchman!"

On Friday morning they took their flight, amid the chilling rain and howling wind. The robbed parents soon learned of their loss, and were forthwith plunged into

"That grief which knows no comfort."

But rage soon sought company with grief, in the father's breast-rage, because he had been robbed of that which would have been given for the asking. The lion of his nature was aroused-that lion nature which had made his name feared among the hills of Monroe County, Ohio. Seizing his fists, he started in pursuit of the fugitives, and hunted in every spot where they could not be found, until he was compelled to give up in despair. He says that what works him up the worst, is the fact that the fellow came to him, the evening before, and asked for some hay to feed his cattle, but took his daughter without asking for her.

In the meantime, the fugitives were wandering about town, seeking, not whom they might devour, but whom they might get to fasten them together. At length they entered Van Doren's store, where they ran afoul of Squire Briggs, whom they requested to unite them in the holy bonds of "ma-trim-ony." He consented, and the expectant bridegroom "shelled out" the lawful fee of $1.50, which the squire took. He then meditated upon the subject. He had misgivings as to whether the would-be bride was of legal age; and he also considered that the time might soon come, when some indiscreet youth would steal one of his daughters, and he would think very unkindly of any justice who should marry them. These considerations (especially the former) he could not get over nor creep under, so he handed back the fee, regardless of the entreaties of the young couple, and refused to perform upon that particular occasion.


Here was a predicament. The fact is, the couple could not stand it much longer; and they feared, that if they remained in this suspense, soon "Disappointment, like a big green tobacco worm, would prey upon their damask cheeks," (Shakespeare,) and they therefore contracted their "puckering strings," and continued their "pursuit of matrimony under difficulties." Thus they wandered out to Padonia, where they hunted up Squire Winslow, who, being a kindhearted man, could not bear to behold their misery, and quickly tied them into a knot. . . .

Thus endeth this happy and melancholy story-happy, because two loving hearts have found the Eden of bliss; melancholy, because a home has been made desolate, by the loss of its hope and joy, and an entire community has been left, in the language of still another illustrious poet, to

"Weep for the Peril lost,
Mourn for the bed-bug's doom!"


From The Daily Times, Leavenworth, March 4,1859.

The Friday-Evening Coteries end to-night with a Fancy Dress-Ball. The series have been of an exceedingly agreeable nature. They have called out the beauty and grace of Leavenworth, and given to the Fridays of each week a particular charm. But to-night will eclipse them all-to-night Stockton's Hall will be crowded with an array which no language can paint: for the widest range and latitude in the matter of dress, will not only be allowed, but expected; and every conceivable style and costume may be anticipated. We may expect the amply-folding robe, with modest clasp, and zone on the bosom; the braided hair or veiled head; fashions alike of the wife of a Phocian, the mistress of an Alcibiades; or perhaps short skirts with hardened vest, and head buckled in gold or silver; or the iron bodice, stiff farthingale and spiral coiffure; or dresses more modern and modest-of Italian flower-girls, or French grisettes, or Circassian slaves, or the lassies of our own and our mother land. In fact, there's no end to the range; for,

"What thought, what various numbers, can express The inconstant equipage of woman's dress."

In fact, we don't know but what our goodly ladies propose "making up" so as to render themselves incog. The lean will probably fashion themselves after the proportions of Reuben's Graces, none of which could possibly have weighed less than 200 lbs. avoirdupois.

And as far as the gentlemen are concerned, what may we not expect? Highlanders, and knights, and kings and courtiers, and bandits, (of the genteel sort,) and warriors and buffoons and harlequins and minstrels, with togas, and plumes, and robes, and sashes, and gowns, and wigs, and swords, and daggers, and plumes, and feathers, and trunk hose, and scarlet coats,-a la Voltaire,-and bare throats,-a la Byron. . .

Well-on with the dance! We will not regret when evening comes and the strange company meet, arrayed in all their plumes, to dance to the merrie music. We shall be on hand in the garb of an editor-a disguise which needs no inquisitive eye to pierce, and which generally brings to mind an idea of


unappreciated merit and ungrateful Republics. And we shall watch those dainty extremities of which Herrick so daintily sings.

"Her pretty feet, Like smiles, did creep A little out, and then, As if they started at bo-peep, Did soon draw in again."

So-Ahoy! for the hall and the dance to-night! What matters mud or rain? Bright hearts, and dazzling robes, and lighted rooms, and stirring strains, will laugh the elements to scorn, and circle to-night with a halo of merriment and joy.

From the Times of March 7, 1859.

THE FANCY DRESSED BALL. Clothed in the same unassuming garb which is wont to envelop the outer man in our daily walk among men, we entered, on Friday evening last, the door leading to Stockton's Hall. We confess to have been somewhat exercised by the question whether or not we should assume a disguise. We passed in review before us all the possible and impossible characters in the range of attainability, from the ancient Grecian Sage to the modern Border Ruffian. . . . Finding it impossible to choose . . . we rejected all, and went, as before stated, in the undisguised yet dignified apparel of a knight of the quill. By a slight talismanic invocation known only to the fortunate brotherhood, of the scissors and the pen, we caused the door of the hall to open at our approach, and entered.

We were impressed with the weight of the responsibility resting on us. We knew we were to report the occasion to the public. We were to sing this New Olympiad, vice the Nine Muses-absent on leave-most of whom were supposed to be on the floor.

Hardly had we mounted to the hall before the breath was nearly knocked out of our editorial, and therefore sacred person, by a hideous nondescript which appeared to be "neither fish, flesh, nor good red herring," but which called us by name, and wrapped us in its embrace. Extricating ourself by a powerful effort, we gazed about.

Very soon people and things began to assume some shape and form, and we were enabled to see all that anybody could see through the dust and by the dimly burning lamps. "Hands around!" and an infuriate fiend in horns seized a Spanish donna by one hand and a hypothetical Goddess of Liberty by the other and whirled them both away in a cloud of dust.

"Night" in black and spangles, "Morning" in white and crescent, young women in hats, men in bonnets, Indians, squaws and papooses, young women in shorts, and young women in longs; old women, Mother Hubbard and dog.

A supper came in good time, after which there was more whirling and dancing, and music, and dust, Masks were removed, disguises became more or less dilapidated, faces began to look weary, and at three o'clock, or thereabouts, the announcement was made that the coteries were at an end.

Some enthusiastic brigands, aided and abetted by a few flower girls, an Indian and The Devil, with others, concluded that they "wouldn't go home 'till morning," and kept up the, by this time, and considering the weariness of all parties, rather dubious amusement. We, thinking it was time for us at least,


to retire, having had our fill of fun, precipitably retired, and thus was then, or thereabouts, ended the coteries, and the Fancy Dress Ball. On the whole, although we must confess it was absurd in many features, the ball was as much of a success as such affairs usually are, and all parties and persons seemed to enjoy themselves quite as fully as they or anybody expected.

Sic transit gloria coteri.


Copied in The Daily Times, Leavenworth, June 10, 1859.

The Linn County Herald says that they want in Linn County "one hundred School Marms, who will pledge themselves not to get married within three years." We want one hundred in this county, between the ages of 18 and 21, who will pledge themselves to get married within one year, and who are willing to commence school on one scholar.-The Kansas Express, Manhattan.


From the Atchison Union, June 25,1859.

On Sunday night last a huge bear made his appearance in Our city. Whether he was driven in by the storm, or by a pack of dogs we are unable to say. He was attacked by some fifty dogs near the corner of 5th, on Commercial street, and finally succeeded in making his escape through the western part of the city. Probably bruin saw the elephant, and returned to the rural districts satisfied.


From the Marysville Enterprise, November 10, 1866.

An exchange says that the other day while a big Indian was calmly surveying a "white squaw" with large hoops on, he exclaimed: "Ugh! heap wigwam 1"


From the Kansas Daily Tribune, Lawrence, May 29, 1868.

ENTERPRISE.-Five Kaw Indians started from this city yesterday, with the avowed intention of walking to Washington City. The interpreter stated that President Johnson had promised, sometime since, to give one of the party a pony and some other presents, but having failed to redeem the promise they intended to learn the cause. He thought they could make the trip in sixteen days, and would be enabled to find the way by following the railroad and telegraph lines. They were making good railroad time down the Union Pacific road when last seen, and we may soon expect to hear of their arrival at the great impeachment center.



From the Leavenworth Daily Conservative, June 16, 1868.

We presume it is unnecessary to advise everybody to go to the slow mule race to-day. All who have seen one of those entertaining affairs will certainly go. There is more amusement in them than in all other kinds of turf sports combined. Upwards of twenty entries have already been made. The stock will all be ridden by officers of the army. The race commences at 4 o'clock p. m.

UNITED STATES OF COURSE, Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.

June Meeting,
Tuesday, June 16th, 1868--4 P. M.


Officers' Purse, $50.


1. General Custer enters Hyankedank, by Hifalutin, out of Snollygoster, second dam Buckjump, by Thunder, out of You Bet. Age, three score years and ten. Colors, ring-ed, streak-ed and strip-ed.
2. General McKeever enters Hard Tack, by Commissary, by Eaton, (eatin',) second dam Contractor, by Morgan, out of Missouri. Age, forty years. Colors, purple, tipped with orange.
3. Colonel Parsons enters Symmetry, (see me try,) by Considerably, out of Pocket, second dam Polly Tix, by Nasby, out of Office. Age, seventeen years. Colors, uncommonly blue.
4. Captain Yates enters William Tell, by Switzerland, by Apple Tree, second dam Gessler, by Hapsburg, out of Austria. Age, eighteen years. Colors, apple green.
5. Lieutenant Leary enters Trump, by Card, out of Contractor, second dam Leader, by Mule Teer, out of Wagon. Age, ten years. Colors, lemon. 6. Lieutenant Jackson enters Abyssinia, by Napier, out of Africa, dam Theodorus, by Solomon, out of Magdala. Age, thirty-nine years. Colors, scarlet, yellow spots.
7. Colonel Myers enters Pizzarro, by Peru, out of South America, second dam Cuzco, by Incas, out of Andes. Age, sixteen years. Colors, light brown.
8. Lieutenant Umbstaetter enters Skirmisher, by Picket, out of Camp, second dam Carbine, by Breech Loader, out of Magazine. Age, twenty-five years. Colors, dark blue, tipped with red.
9. Lieutenant Moylan enters Break Neck, by Runaway, out of Wouldn't Go, second dam Contusion, by Collision, out of Accident. Age, fifty-six. Colors, sky blue.


10. Captain Buntington enters Spavin, by Quartermaster, out of ,Government, second dam (not worth one.)
11. Lieutenant Howe enters Slow, by Tardy, out of Late, second dam Lazy, by Inactive. Age, three times six, four times seven, twenty-eight and eleven. Colors, queer.
12. Lieutenant Dunwoody enters Horatio, by Dexterity, by Taunt, second dam Estop. Age, fourteen years. Colors, tawny.
13. Captain Weir enters Revolutionist, by Hard Luck, out of Rib Smasher, second dam Blood Blister, by Can't Stand It, out of Let's Quit.

NOTE.-The money accruing from this race is to be devoted to the support of the widows and orphans made so thereby.

From the Daily Conservative, June 17, 1868.

THE RACES YESTERDAY-Whew! wasn't it warm, and didn't the people turn out in gorgeous array-some in coaches, some in buggies, some on horseback, and some in six-mule chariots. Everybody and his wife was there. On the road it was hot and dusty; in the track enclosure the immense elms spread their welcome arms, and the heated thousands cooled themselves on the green grass. All were on the tip-toe of expectation. Critical judges of ani-mules were examining the good points of their favorite mules, and betting their bottom twenty-five cents on No. 9, or the painted mule. No. 9 was a gothic structure, with an expressive (of pain) countenance, and was wearing his first coat of paint-white in spots. He was ridden with much dexterity, and was twelve minutes making his mile.

The ladies were out in full force, and enlivened the scene. The Fort Band discoursed some excellent music, and every arrangement was carried out promptly. Eleven mules were entered for the race. Each mule was ridden one hundred yards by his owner, to the judges' stand, and numbered, with red paint, on the flank. The judges then had the riders change mules, so that no man rode his own animal. They were started from the score at the tap of the triangle. Some went in one direction, and some took to the brush. Only two or three kept the track, and on they went, cutting and slashing, each man urging the mule he was riding.

Occasionally a rider was seen coming through the grass and taking the track. All pointed the same direction, at last, and after three anxious moments, Lieutenant Jackson hove in sight, and rounded into the home stretch away ahead, landing his mule (No. 5) at the judges' stand in four minutes. As they came stringing along, time was taken of each, and that mule's record passed down to posterity and Wilkes' Spirit. After fifteen long and anxious minutes, (the crowd all the time holding their breath) Lieutenant Huntington reached the score, completely exhausted, the anxiety, labor, and length of time since his departure having turned his hair nearly gray. The band immediately struck up, "See, the Conquering Hero Comes."

The second race was a single dash of a quarter mile, four entries, and was won by Captain Weir's beautiful thoroughbred horse, in 23 seconds. The crowd then started home, pleased with the half holiday and the entertainment given by the gentlemanly officers of Fort Leavenworth.



From the Daily Kansas State Record, Topeka, December 28, 1869.

An Indian in Montgomery county set fire to the prairie because one of the settlers would not give him some pork.


From the Kansas Daily Commonwealth, Topeka, February 8, 1870.

Wild Bill [Hickok] was up before Judge Holmes yesterday, and fined five dollars for striking straight out from the shoulder and consequently hitting a man.


From The Sumner County Press, Wellington, July 16, 1874.

Thousands of bushels of wild plums are ripening on the Arkansas, Ninnescah and Chikaskia rivers. These plums grow on dwarf trees, in some instances covering the entire shrub with a mass of pink and yellow fruit. So abundant are they that a small party can gather a wagon load in a few hours. They are nearly equal to the best cultivated varieties.


From the Marion County Record, Marion, August 8, 1874.

Owing to the destruction of the shade by grasshoppers, the 2d quarterly meeting of the Marion Centre charge will be held in the Presbyterian church in connection with a basket meeting, commencing Friday, Aug. 14. Ministerial aid from abroad. Both saint and sinner are cordially invited to attend. First service, Friday, at 11 A. M. Jno. HAMS.


From the Jetmore Reveille, September 9, 1885.

Dr. Eckert reports having seen a very novel sign posted on an abandoned dugout in the vicinity of Sunset City, a new town springing up and intended for the future county seat of the southwest corner county [Morton]. It was as follows.

"Two hundred feet to water,
Seventy-five miles to wood,
and Six inches to Hell;
God bless our home."