|Henry and Frank Root Letters Part One||Part Two||Part Three|
|Tioga County Agitator, 20 December 1865
Westward, Ho! – Our much esteemed foreman, Mr. John C. Root, who, boy and man, apprentice and foreman, has been in the “Agitator” Office for nine years, left for Kansas last Friday. He goes into the Daily Free Press Office, Atchison, Kansas, of which his brother [Harry C. Root], and our old friend and correspondent, is publisher. He takes with him what every young man, may, by equal fidelity and industry, command, the best wishes of all who know him, and the regrets of many, ourselves among the number. A tender hearted, more faithful and honest, and honorable man never breathed. Such a man must prosper wherever he goes. And may he prosper abundantly in his new home.
Tioga County Agitator, 28 March 1866 p4
Letter From Kansas
Atchison, Kan., March 3, 1866
A Severe Winter – High Prices – Fine Weather – Freighting – The A. & P. P. RR – Rents and Business Houses – The Market, etc.
Dear Agitator: - We have just passed through one of the severest winters ever before known in Kansas by “the oldest inhabitant.” The Missouri was bridged over by ice and navigation suspended early in winter, much to the inconvenience of wood and produce venders, as the people of Atchison depend in the main on getting fuel and a great deal of produce from Buchanan county, Mo., opposite to this city. Notwithstanding the free bridge over this mighty river, most everything has been exorbitantly high, and the demand has been fully equal to the supply. Wood has been selling readily for $9 to $12 per cord, apples for $3 per bushel, potatoes $1.25, and corn from $0.75 to $1 per bushel. – Butter [fresh] has been ranging from 60 to 75 cents, lard 35 to 45 cents, and eggs from $0.60 to $1.
The weather the past few days has been pleasant and delightful; nearly all the frost is out of the ground, the roads are fast drying up, and the farmers are making every preparation for putting in an early crop. Last year was an unusually wet season, though a pretty large crop of corn and potatoes was raised; but as one extreme generally follows another, many are calculating on a season equally as dry the present year, in which case only small crops will be raised on the high rolling prairie.
Professor Swallow, our State Geologist, has ascertained from observations that Kansas suffers no more from the drought than any other State, while she has advantages equal, and possesses many superior, to any other State. For stock-raising there is not another State in the Union as well adapted.
The freighting business from this city to the Rocky Mountains, Santa Fe, Salt Lake and Montana, will be carried on much longer this year than ever before. There are acres of mining machinery here now, ready to be transported to the gold and silver mines as soon as grass comes; and by the middle of April or first of May, trains will commence moving. Wagons can be counted by the hundreds, while ox yokes and bows are piled up like pyramids, and can be counted by thousands.
Good mules can now be purchased for $100 each, and oxen for $100 per yoke; though an advance on these prices may be looked for as soon as grass is plenty and the demand for stock increases.
The Atchison and Pike’s Peak RR, which was commenced the summer before the war, and suspended for four years, has recently been commenced again, and promises to be pushed ahead as rapidly as possible. The track is laid down some six or eight miles, and the cars will be running over thirty miles by the first of June or July. All kinds of property are advancing rapidly, and buildings are being rented at fabulous prices. A dwelling that would cost in Wellsboro less than $1,000, will rent readily here for $35 and $50 per month. – Good business houses are in demand at $150 per month; and although many of them are going up, yet I think many business men will be compelled to leave here for want of buildings to do business.
Our city contains a population of some six thousand souls, and the prospects are that it will nearly double the present year. Business of all kinds is good, and promises to be better as soon as spring emigration commences.
We hear very little excitement in regard to the new mines of the northwest, though it cannot be doubted that it is a good country, and that a man with capital can make money there but while ten men may go out there and get rich, one hundred will return without a dollar.
I have lately received calls from G.D. Sofield, Lazell Kimball and John
B. Emory, all from Wellsboro. Your quiet little place is well represented
here. – Bailey and Emory are selling goods, Kimball
is recruiting his health, and John C. and Henry C. Root are “sticking type”
in the Daily Free Press office. – All are well pleased with our ten-year-old
city and bright prospects before her.
Wellsboro Agitator 11 JULY 1866
On the Upper Kansas, [Col. T]
June 15, 1866
Friend Cobb: - The three principal points from which trains start with freight for the different Territories, are Atchison and Leavenworth, Kansas, and Omaha, Nebraska. The freighting is mostly done by mule and ox teams; the former generally reaching the mountains in thirty days, the latter requiring twice that length of time to make the same journey. Thirty-five to forth hundred is the average load for a four mule team; and fifty to sixty hundred will be drawn on one wagon by five or six yoke of oxen. When a train stops for the night, a corral is formed by placing the wagons in a circle, in which the animals can be secured if danger is apprehended; if not, they are allowed to graze on the prairie, in charge of herders.
Few persons in the East have a true idea of the amount of freight taken in this way from the States to the far West. Often three or four hundred wagons will pass a given point in a single day, loaded with heavy machinery; which, if destined for the mines in the northwest, has in this way to be transported more than two thousand miles, over mountains and plains, or carrying provisions to those3 who, down deep below the surface of the earth, are wresting from their rocky beds the ores from which the precious metal is procured.
The country from Atchison to Fort Kearney is a rolling prairie, with no settlements after leaving Kansas, except the dwellings of the ranchmen, which are twelve or fifteen miles apart, and who must lead a lonely life, thus isolated from each other, but who reap a golden harvest from the sale of hay and grain to the freighter and emigrant. - Cottonwood, honey locust, elm and willow grow along the main streams, but up the upland not a tree or bush is to be seen.
When we reached the Platte, we saw the first of the adobe or earthen houses, which are extensively used in all parts of the far West, where other building materials cannot be readily procured. – The prairie sod is cut in square blocks and laid up with sod mortar, to a height of ten and thickness of three feet. Posts support the horizontal beams, on which the tier of logs are laid, and on them, first, grass or bushes, and then a thick layer of earth is placed over all, which forms the roof. Large buildings are in this way made, with less than a hundred feet of lumber, and when completed are both comfortable and durable.
The river at the fort is more than a mile in width, though in dry weather is very low; but now the melting of the snow on the mountains filled its banks, and concealed the numerous sandbars.
The route lies along the main stream for about two hundred miles, and then divides – one branch leading up the South Fork to Denver and the Colorado mines, the other up the North Fork, through Bridger’s Pass, to Salt Lake and the Montana and Idaho mines.
When about half way across the plains, we came to the first of the prairie-dog villages, which often extend for miles along the line of travel. Their bodies are of a light brown color, about a foot in length, and four inches in height. When an object attracts their attention, they will sit upright on the mounds of earth around their holes, and look with apparently as much interest at the intruder as they are of interest to him. The naturalist disputes the oft-made statement, that the dog, owl and rattlesnake occupy the same burrow, or if so, only by using the greater power one may have over the other; using as proof the opposite nature of each, which would prevent their living together in peace or if he is right, many are wrong; for every person I have asked in regard to it, who has been much among them and given it his attention, says they do live together through inclination, and not by force of power. I have watched them closely, when they were not aware of my presence, and have seen the dog and owl sitting on the same mound, and seen the rattlesnake enter the hole by their side.
However dissimilar their natures may be, when placed in different localities, the associations of a lifetime overcome their otherwise destructive habits, and they can thus live together in unity and peace. The same Power that placed them where they are, without a rock or tree under which to find shelter, would not leave them without some adequate protection – and only in the burrow of the dog can that protection be found.
Two years ago the Indians, to the number of about ten thousand swept down the plains, and, with the exception of two or three government posts, too strong to be captured, destroyed every building for nearly three hundred miles along the river. A few have been re-built, but the blackened walls of the ranchman’s home are often met, and three or four rude head boards near by point to the spot where the dwellers of that home, who had fallen beneath the tomahawk of the savages, had been laid by the hands of strangers. Several trains were captured; the men belonging to them in every instance being killed and scalped. In one place we came to where a large train had been taken and the mutilated bodies of the men afterwards buried by our troops. I never saw anything so lonely as was that single grave, where the bodies of more than thirty men reposed, who at one moment were full of health and hope, and the next were bleeding victims of savage warfare.
But however much we may condemn and deplore the spirit that causes the Indians to break the treaties so often made with our Government, we cannot blame them so much for violating their promises, when we remember the many injuries they have received at the hands of the whites. By the rough, self-willed class of men that always precedes true civilization, to cheat an Indian is believed to be a duty – and to kill one a meritorious act. And the troubles which led to the massacres on the plains, as well as those in Minnesota, were chiefly caused by the Government agents compelling the Indians to receive paper currency or nothing in place of the specie that they had been accustomed to receive as annuities from our Government.
Driven from their best hunting grounds, cheated by the trader, and defrauded by the agents of the Government that has promised to protect them in their rights – is it strange that their unforgiving nature is at times aroused, and that the freighter, ranchmen, or emigrant is the object on which they wreak their savage vengeance?
The Government is now trying to form a treaty with the Sioux, Arapahoes and Cheyennes, at Fort Laramie; but however often and solemn their treaties may be made, they will as often be broken, so long as the Indian is influenced by those whose cupidity and self-interest are greater than their sense of duty; and deeds of violence will at times be committed by them until their race becomes extinct, or is blended with that of the white.
Government posts, mostly garrisoned by regular troops, are stationed at different points on the road, to guard against incursions of the Indians. At Julesburg is one; but this is guarded by parts of two regiments, which were formed by prisoners taken during the war, and who, when enlisted in our army, were sent to the plains for duty. – And very unwillingly is that duty done. Until President Johnson came into power, they proved worthy of the uniform they wore, but since then have been growing worse, in proportion as his policy has been developed. Many have deserted, and others are following whenever an opportunity is offered. Several with whom I have conversed are as open rebels as were ever met marshaled under the stars and bars – are confident the South will yet get “her rights,” and exult in the belief that our President will in some way restore to the South her lost power. This his strange policy towards rebels and traitors has its influence with those who have renounced their allegiance to a cause which they are now trying to uphold.
After leaving Julesburg, we entered on the great sand plains, or American Desert, as it is called in the old maps. – For more than one hundred and fifty miles, we went westward without seeing a tree or bush. Along the river bottom, where the ground is moistened by water from the stream, the grass grows sufficient to support the teams; but away from that there is nothing to break the monotony of the plain, except the cactus and wild sage bush. At times the wind sweeps across these plains of yellow sand with the force of a ----, renders seeing impossible, and breathing a matter of secondary consideration.
|At last we reached Denver, which is situated on Cherry creek, at its
confluence with the Platte, twelve miles from the foot of the Rocky Mountains,
and six hundred and forty miles from the Missouri river.
It was on Cherry Creek, about two miles from the present town, that a few pioneers in 1859 found the precious metal, accounts of which sent thousands surging westward; many only to meet with disappointments, and few to realize the hopes of sudden wealth, which they here expected to meet. But others were ready to take their places; and even now, as then, the mountains are full of men trying to find the rich deposits of gold, which they ever believe to be within their reach.
Gold in great quantities is in the mountains but to procure it, a great
outlay or capital is necessary before any permanent profits can be received
in return. The old method of placer or gulch mining, which was done by
washing the sand in which particles of gold were deposited by mountain
torrents during past ages, is now but little followed; the best of such
deposits being exhausted, and the miner prefers to work for established
companies, where, if the pay is not as large at times, it is more sure
Nearly all the gold now produced is extracted from the quartz, which is found in veins lying at all angles, and varying in thickness from a few inches to three or four feet. The quartz is placed where cylindrical shaped weights of about 200 pounds weight rise and fall by means of a lever power, and reduce the stone to a powder; a stream of water carries it over an amalgam of quick-silver, which retains the pure particles of gold, and those having any foreign substance adhering to them are carried off in the tailings. The dust thus saved was formerly taken to the East as it was found, but is now smelted into bars at Denver, before being forwarded to the U.S. Mint. Colorado ores are proved to be the richest in the world, being three carats finer than any of the mines farther west. Two of the principal mines in Central City, the chief point of mining interest in the Territory, often yield from two to three hundred ounces of gold each week. A new process to reduce the ore is about being adopted, which is performed by heating the ores, and then submitted them to a chemical process, by which it is claimed all the gold can be saved, as well as enough of the silver, which is mingled more or less in all ores, to pay the expense of mining. If the process proves a success, and it is believed it will, sixty per cent of the gold, which under the crushing process is lost, will be saved, besides the expense of extracting the pure from the baser metals.
Denver, though of but six years’ growth, contains over seven thousand inhabitants, with a floating population nearly as large. It is a general rendezvous for all comers from the States, whether they stop only long enough to rest and refit before continuing on their journey to more distant mines, or whether they intend to remain there or in the vicinity.
The town is well laid out, has substantial brick blocks in its business portion, and contains many private residences that would be a credit to any eastern city.
Colorado has had her share of the troubles every State or Territory is subjected to when first settles. The war took three thousand men from home, many more went to Montana and Idaho, the Indians destroyed communication with the States, the locusts for two years in succession destroyed the crops, and the class of people that did come were mostly consumers, instead of producers. But these are things of the past; and the steady stream of emigrants arriving, and the increased activity in every department of business, give hopes of a better state in the future.
The present population of the Territory is about 50,000, and a careful estimate shows there are more than 60,000 acres of cereals growing, which if allowed to mature, the supply of bread stuffs will be nearly or quite equal to the demand; and need not be brought from the States, as it now is, nor command the exorbitant prices it now does. All that is now needed to insure continued prosperity, is to push up the railroad from the Missouri to the mountains. A third of the road will be laid this fall, and when completed the “City of the Plains” will become the Palmyra of the West. The higher mountain ranges intercept the storm clouds, and on the plains but little rain falls at any season of the year; and all land that is cultivated must be along some stream, from which an unfailing supply of water can be obtained to irrigate it. A large ditch, having a descent of three feet to the mile, leads from the stream beds around the cultivated fields, and from this small parallel ditches about one hundred feet apart carry the water over the surface.
The soil is very fertile; and where enough water can be procured, the yield is very large. Forty and even fifty bushels of wheat, and one hundred bushels of oats per acre, is not an unusual yield, and sometimes it is much larger. On the lower ranges of hills in the deep canons, and on the ridges between the larger creeks, grows a poor quality of yellow pine, which is cut and sawed where it grows, and furnishes the only building material here used where wood is requires. Timber for mending or making wagons is brought from the States. A tramp of one hundred and thirty miles to the south of Denver, brought us to the Mexican town of Puebla, on the Arkansas, and over a thousand miles above its junction with the Mississippi at Napoleon.
|On our way down we passed close to Pike’s Peak, seventy miles south
from Denver, and that, like Long’s Peak, forty miles to the north – the
former over 13,000, and the latter over 18,000 feet above the level of
the sea, and are covered with perpetual snow and ice. – Owing to the great
elevation of the country, and consequent rarity of the atmosphere, objects
can be discerned at a much greater distance than when nearer the ocean.
We first saw Pike’s and Long’s Peak, when on the plains one hundred and sixty miles from the base. The rising sun, shining on their snow-capped summits, made them look like two great domes of silver. The country here is much the same as it is farther north, only vegetation is more advanced; and many shrubs and plants are here met with, I never before saw.
Letter from Kansas
The A. & P.P.R.R. Excursion – Distinguished Visitors – Te-et-i-quauk and his papooses – Splendid Dinner – Speeches – Prairie on Fire – Kickapoos – Pensineau the Interpreter, etc.
Atchison, Kansas, Nov. 20, 1866
Dear Agitator: I have just returned from an excursion over the first forty miles of the Atchison & Pike’ Peak RR, and find the road one of the smoothest for a new road I have ever seen. A party from Boston, New York, Chicago and St. Joseph, numbering some two hundred, arrived here on Saturday night last, stayed over Sunday and were joined here yesterday by some two hundred invited guests and left at 11 o’clock a.m. for the west end which is now completed and in good running order for a distance of forty-five miles. Accompanying, the excursionists are Maj. Gen’l S.R. Curtis and Gen. J.H. Simpson, of Washington, and Dr. Wm. M White, of New Haven, commissioners appointed to inspect the second section of the road which commences on the Grasshopper, a fine stream on the Kickapoo Reservation twenty miles from this city.
The train consisted of six splendid passenger cars, two of which belonged to the Hannibal and St. Joseph and one to the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana RR. Every preparation was made by the Railroad Company for a pleasant trip, and no one went out on this occasion that did not enjoy themselves finely. It was a warm and beautiful day till three o’clock when the sky clouded and a cool breeze kept up the remainder of the day.
Nothing worthy of note transpired along the route until we reached Muscotah, a new laid-out town on the Kickapoo Reservation. Scores of the excursionists had never seen an Indian. – Here was a wigwam a few rods from the track and a regular stampede from the cars was the result. All were anxious to get a sight at Te-et-i-quauk and see his squaw and papooses. He was ushered from his wigwam to the front of the cars with his oldest son, a bright-eyed little chap of six or seven years and the lady passengers also had a view of them. A gentleman from Boston brought out in his arms one of the little papooses and carried it through the cars much to the enjoyment of the crowd.
We reached the end of the second section [40 miles] at half-past 1 o’clock, and at two camped and dined on the prairie. The pile of eatables spread out was a caution to hungry folks. The tables groaned with roast pig, beef, lamb, pork, boiled ham, turkey, chicken, wild goose, prairie chicken, quail, etc., and ample justice was done to it by the hungry crowd.
Speeches were made by Gen. Jas. Craig, of Missouri; Maj. Gen. Curtis, Gen. Simpson, Rev. Dr. Tyng of New York, Gov. Smyth, of New Hampshire, Col. Clapp, of Boston, Rev. Pardee Butler [well-known to the early friends of Kansas as the man who was tarred and feathered at Atchison eleven years ago for expressing his Free State sentiments] and others, winding up with a speech from Hon. S.C. Pomeroy, our distinguished U.S. Senator. All the speeches were received with applause.
At four o’clock we were again seated in the cars with our faces turned toward the east, stopping several times on the way in and meeting with a slight accident which detained us about half an hour. Between Monrovia and this place night overtook us and those who had never seen a prairie on fire at night had a fine view of one. It was a rich sight, the flames running high and the Bostonians and New Yorkers enjoyed it wonderfully.
A dozen Kickapoos presented themselves at Muscotah, wrapped up in bright red blankets, and were particularly delighted with the sight of a long passenger train and the large crowd. Mr. Pensineau, the interpreter, was there in a buggy with his huge squaw, and drove several times the length of the train and was much admired by all. –Mr. Pensineau has been on the frontier west of the Missouri river between thirty and forty years and knows the “Great American Desert” probably better than any other living man. He has traveled this county up and down the Missouri River and Mississippi for nearly two thousand miles and all the way to the Rocky Mountains and Pacific. He is a very intelligent man, has a splendid farm well stocked, and is much respected by all who reside in his vicinity.
The stockholders of the railroad will hold a meeting in this city tomorrow, at which it is proposed to change the name of the road to the "Central Branch Union Pacific.” The work is progressing rapidly and the contractors intend to have the cars running out sixty miles before the first of January.
A grand ball was given by the Imperial Quadrille Club last night in honor of the distinguished visitors, who will go east this evening via Leavenworth and St. Louis.
We are enjoying some beautiful weather; it is as warm and pleasant as September.
Our Kansas Letter
The New Senator – The Colony of Mennonites – An Atchison Fire – Leavenworth and Atchison Contrasted
Atchison, Feb. 17, 1874
The election of Ex-Governor James M. Harvey to the United States Senate to fill the unexpired term of Alexander Caldwell is a Republican triumph. He was born in Virginia, in 1833, and is now in his forty-first year. He came to Kansas in 1857. On the outbreak of the war he raised a company and was elected its captain, and at the expiration of his term of service he was mustered out, and returned to civil life in 1864. He was a member of the State House of Representatives for two years, and also a member of the State Senate for two terms. In 1868 he was nominated as the Republican candidate for Governor, and was elected, and in 1870 he was re-nominated and re-elected. It will be seen that Senator Harvey has been prominently connected with Kansas politics since the breaking out of the war. He is a poor man. He had no money to spend for his election to the Senate, and if he had had, he was too honest a man to use it for such a purpose. Nearly all the wealth he has is a farm, comprising 160 acres, which he pre-empted on his removal to Kansas. He is known throughout the State as “Honest” Harvey, and there is not a man in the whole State, though a Democrat or a dissatisfied Republican, who can even charge his election to bribery. Mr. Harvey is a practical farmer, and ---- full and hearty accord with all measures in which the agriculture classes are most concerned. Senator Harvey is not one of those political “reformers” who believe there has got to be a change in the Administration to save the country from ruin. On the contrary, he believes in the grand and good old principles of the Republican Party, and if there are any reforms to be made, he believes the Republican Party can make them. A rebel Democratic sheet published in an obscure town in Wisconsin in pretending to give an account of an interview with Senator Harvey, says he [Harvey] will be anti-Ingalls, also claiming that he was elected by the Democrats and “Reformers.” No such interview ever took place. He was elected by a majority of the Republican members. The “opposition” would not vote for Harvey until after they saw that they could not concentrate on one of their own aspirants. It was these “Reformers” who did more to prolong the Senatorial struggle than any one else. Many of them went to Topeka believing there would be money used in buying votes, for it was said there were three of them that agreed to sell out for $100 apiece before they would give their votes away for nothing. But so far there has not a single paper charged any of the candidates for the Senatorship with using bribe money. The entire press of Kansas, with the exception of some half a dozen, [three Democratic, and the others were Greeley organs at the last Presidential election,] speak of Senator Harvey with the highest praise, and all predict that a brighter day has at last dawned upon the prosperous and growing Commonwealth of Kansas. By Senators Ingalls and Harvey Kansas will now be represented as she should be, and on every measure tending to the advancement of any interest for the welfare of the State they will be a unit. It is to be hopes that the name “Rotten Commonwealth,” given this State throughout the East, will now be dropped, and some other name more appropriate to the Senators who are now representing Kansas in the national halls of Congress be applied instead.
|The Santa Fe's second No. 2 (1881), the William B. Strong, was also the second locomotive constructed in the Topeka shops. Courtesy Santa Fe railway.|
A large colony of Mennonites from southern Russia, joined by others
from Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois, have recently settled along
the line of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, in the Arkansas
valley. Their agent, Mr. H.D. Albright, formerly from York, Pa., was sent
out to select the best lands he could find for them, and after traversing
different parts of the West, he finally selected the Arkansas valley, believing
it to be the best farming land in the West. They have already laid out
a town, called Halstead, in Harvey County, and commenced building operations,
having built themselves a commodious hotel, a schoolhouse, and a flouring
mill. They intend to erect in the spring a woolen mill and a paper mill.
They are an industrious and wealthy class of farmers, and will be joined
in the month of May by a large addition of Russians, who will bring with
them a large amount of stock. – Mr. Albright was in this city yesterday
after materials with which to build a dam across the Arkansas river, so
as to secure a waterpower. Still they come, and there is plenty of room
left for more.
“Central Block,” one of the finest blocks of buildings in this city, was destroyed by fire on Wednesday night last. It was built at an expense of $75.000, and the loss on building and stock will be in the neighborhood of $100,000. The owners of the block will re-build immediately. It was the first fire that has visited our city since the purchase of the new Silsby fire engine. The engine did splendid service, but just as the fire was got under control the water gave out, and the destruction of the whole building was inevitable
|Silsby Fire Engines|
Letter from Kansas
Indian Depredations – The Whites Responsible for Them – The Quaker Agent – State Politics – The Harvest – Pomeroy’s Case – Other Matters
Atchison, July 25, 1874
The recent Indian depredations in south-western Kansas have been telegraphed all over the country as being a great deal worse than they really were, and will, perhaps, do hundreds and thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to that part of the State in the way of retarding settlement. This Indian trouble was all brought about by the thieving whites stealing their ponies and committing other depredations against them; and had it not been for these thieves the Indians would have kept on their reservations and remained at peace, as they have for years. Their agent, Friend Miles, represented the facts to Superintendent Hoag months ago, asserting that there would be trouble unless troops were sent there to punish the lawless and --- whites. But this Superintendent paid no attention to the agent’s suggestions; hence this Indian war on our frontier. As soon as the Indians returned to their reservation the Superintendent dispatched troops to the scene, but found the Indians on their reservation and as quiet as though nothing had happened.
Every life lost and every dollar’s worth of property destroyed by this Indian raid is chargeable to Superintendent Hoag. And now, because Mr. Miles did his duty in exposing these whites and asking for troops to drive them off, the Executive Committee of the Quakers ask him to resign; but the press of the State generally favor the resignation of Superintendent Hoag and the appointment of Agent Miles in his stead, because he certainly deserves promotion for doing his duty so bravely. Whether he will follow the instructions of the committee and resign is not known; but every intelligent citizen of the State hopes he will not.
Emigration to the southern tier of counties need not be backward on account of this Indian raid, for it is not likely to occur again, as troops have been stationed in the immediate vicinity to keep away the lawless and thieving whites.
Since the above was written I have learned that the Commissioner of Indian Affairs exonerates Agent Miles from any blame for the late Indian troubles, and regards him as one of the best agents the Friends have in the field. Mr. Miles has, therefore, concluded not to resign. Agent Miles, for a long time was in charge of the Kickapoo Indians, with his headquarters at Muscotok, 25 miles west of here. About two years ago the Indians were transferred to the southern border of Kansas, and he was sent there with them. He is a whole-souled gentleman, and his place would be hard to fill. – Mr. Miles passed through here a day or two ago for Washington to lay the exact facts before the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
The Kansas Republican State Convention meets in Topeka the 26th of August for the purpose of nominating a State ticket. – There are plenty of aspirants for every office, some of them having a dozen or more contestants. The indications are that the canvasses will be red-hot, as the dissatisfied ones are organizing in all parts of the State in opposition to the Republicans. It is of no use, for Kansas will do as she has done before – elect her Republican ticket by from 25,000 to 30,000 majority. Favorable mention has been made by most of the Republican journals of Col. John A. Martin, editor of the Atchison Champion, for the position of Governor or Lieut. Governor, but the Colonel declines any State office, preferring the labors of a daily newspaper editor. He has many warm friends in all parts of the State who would be glad to see him enter the convention. There is no doubt but that he would be triumphantly elected to any State office he might want. Atchison would give him a unanimous vote.
The farmers are most all through harvesting. The wheat in most parts of the State is excellent, though where the chinch bugs have been it will barely pay for the time used in cutting it. The farmers in Atchison County do not complain. The rains have been timely and all that were needed. Oats have done well. If the rains continue now and then for a couple of months longer, the corn crop will be simply immense and the farmers will have plenty for market. The fruit crop is the largest ever known in Kansas. Apples and peaches are already in market. All kinds of garden vegetables have been in market for a month or more.
The trial of ex-Senator Pomeroy for bribery in the Kansas Senatorial election two years ago comes up in the United States District Court on Monday, July 27th. What the result will be it is hard to predict; but the majority of the press and the best men in the State have signed petitions to have the prosecution of the case dismissed.
The District Court has just adjourned after a six weeks’ session. Many important cases have been disposed of, among which were three for murder, something that has never been known here before. Two of the convicts were sent to the penitentiary for two years, and the other got off by paying a fine of $125. The celebrated Hoke-Marbourg crime con case was continued until the December term. It is thought by many that this trial will never come off, but that Hoke and his wife will make up and live together again. Both parties have many friends here, and they are tying to compromise the matter without going to court.
The weather has been quite warm for the past week – the thermometer at 110 degrees yesterday. It has been over 100 several times this summer.
|Wellsboro Agitator, 1 September 1874, p1
Town & Country
The Capital City – A Substantial Town – The Long Drought – The Greatest Enemy of the State – The Grasshopper Plague – The Settlers Desponding – The Kansas Valley – A Rich Farming Country – Lawrence
[Correspondence of the Agitator]
Atchison, Kansas, August 15th, 1874
The Reform Convention has met, nominated their ticket, and gone home again. – The Convention was not very harmonious, and the State was probably about half represented. The two strongest men on the ticket have declined, the Convention using their names without authority. The nominee for Governor is a man named Cusey, who says he “don’t know much about this Governor business, but kin raise korn.” – Cusey is a man who has never been thought of in politics before, and outside of his own county is not known at all. He will be beaten by 40,000. The “Independents” might have nominated a ticket that would give the Republicans a race, but they would not. The leaders of the “Reform” movement, men that are known all over the State, were given the cold shoulder. The nominee for Secretary of State is Nelson Abbott, of this city, and is editor of the red-hot Democratic Patriot. He will be beaten in his own city, as the party is hopelessly in the minority. It seems to me that Abbott is in bad company with this reforming element, as he has always been, is now, and always will be a Democrat of the straightest sect. Personally, Mr. Abbott is a good-natured man, but he will be killed politically on the day of election. Their nominee for Congress in the First District is Marcus J. Parrott, of Leavenworth. He is scholar and a fine orator, but since he joined the Greeley ranks the Republicans will not trust him. He is a chronic office-seeker, and he, too, after the election will “even wish that he were dead.” There is not a man on the Reform ticket that has even a show of success. I venture to predict that this “great reform movement” will not be heard of again in Kansas after the election this fall. Democrats and Reformers alike all denounce it as the most incompetent ticket ever nominated, and assert that it will be beaten by 40,000 majority.
Great interest is being manifested in the Republican State Convention, which assembles in Topeka on the 26th of this month. Primary meetings were held in the city last night to send delegates to the State and Congressional Conventions. Much interest and enthusiasm were manifested, and it was resolved to present the name of our fellow townsman, Hon. W.W. Guthrie, for Congress from the First District.
There is a big fight between the aspirants for Congress and Governor. Gov. Osborn, the present incumbent, is meeting with considerable opposition. Hon. J.C. Horton, of Lawrence, is his opponent, and seems to be making a tight race. Both are popular men, and either one would serve the State faithfully. The principal fight, however, will be made in the Convention. The Republicans are determined to put their best men on the ticket, and men, too, who will be triumphantly elected in November. The weak, dishwater ticket the “Reformers” put in the field has encouraged the Republicans, who thought they might have cut a ticket in the field that would give them a race, but it is just the reverse; they nominated men who are wholly ignorant of the State’s affairs, and men, too, who are the worst political shysters in the State, and the majority of them are not known outside of their own community. The “Reform” leaders themselves are dissatisfied, and many of course, will support the regular Republican ticket.
In my last letter to the Agitator I spoke of the immense corn crop that was anticipated at that time; but since then the grasshoppers, coming from Nebraska on the north and Colorado on the west, have destroyed pretty much all of it. What one month ago promised to be the most abundant corn crop ever harvested in Kansas is today ruined, and where the grasshoppers have raided the corn fields look like bristled spears stuck in the ground, so thoroughly have they taken the leaves and left the stalks and stems of the leaves standing. – Not only have they stripped the corn fields, but they have eaten the potato tops, cabbages, etc. The fruit and cottonwood trees are perfectly covered with them. They even eat peaches off from the trees and leave the pits hanging to the limbs. The wheat crop, of course, is safe as well as all the other small grains. The wheat crop was never so abundant in Kansas before, and there is no reason why the farmers should get discouraged, although many out on the extreme western frontier had nothing but corn in the ground. It is some consolation to know that Kansas is not the only State where the grasshoppers have been, for they have traveled over a greater part of Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Colorado, and are now working in some parts of Missouri. They are unwelcome visitors. The were ----------, but the State being so thinly settled then, they did not begin to do the damage they have already done this time. – There is one thing clear, and that is this: Kansas will not be compelled to ask aid from other sources. The Governor has issued a card calling on all boards of County Commissioners in the afflicted counties to ascertain the exact situation of affairs in their respective counties, that they may receive all necessary aid.
The Superintendent of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad has made a proposition to all the settlers along the line of that road to furnish all those whose crops were destroyed by the grasshoppers – and who are unable to buy it themselves – seed wheat for next year’s sowing. The road also agrees to transport from place to place all articles free of charge. They also agree to extend the time of payments on land for one year. It is a first-class road in every respect, and is controlled by liberal men.
Kansas would also have suffered terribly from the drought, even if the grasshoppers and chinch bugs had not raided the State. – During the past two days an immense amount of rain has fallen, but up to that time we had had no rain for a month or six weeks, and everything was as dry as powder. The thermometer has ranged for the past two weeks all the way from 100 to 115 degrees, and one day it went up to 120. Such a summer has never been known here. Something I never experienced in the Eastern States was the hot wind two days last week. In fact, it was intolerable, for the wind was equal to the air from a hot furnace. All day last Sunday – the thermometer at 118 degrees – I sat with all the south windows down. It was actually cooler indoors than out in the burning and scorching winds. These winds were experienced here during the summer of 1866, but were not so hot as those of last Sunday. Many think that there is always a hard storm following the winds up. As yet we have has no such storm here, but a terrific wind and hail storm occurred 100 miles to the south of us a day or two after our hot winds. Quire a number are leaving the State in consequence of the drought, grasshoppers, etc.; but where one leaves two will come. The frontier counties are the heaviest losers. – Only yesterday a colony of 100 Mennonites passed through here on their way to the homestead country along the line of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe road, and their agent says more will be here in a few days.
Contrary to the general expectation, Judge Morton overruled the motion to quash the indictment in the Pomeroy case. A motion was then made by the ex-Senator’s counsel for a change of venue on account of the alleged prejudice of the judge and the absence of certain witnesses. In view of this demand the case was sent to Osage county for trial in November, which is considered by the ex-Senator’s friends a victory for him. Mr. Pomeroy is now in the State, and intends remaining there sometime visiting friends, for he has many in all parts of the State. It is acknowledged by his friends and enemies alike that he has done the State more good than all her other Senators and Representatives together, and a majority of the best citizens in the State would rejoice today to see the case dismissed. The people will not forget the great good the ex-Senator did them in the early history of the State.
Your strictures, therefore, Mr. Editor, concerning Mr. Pomeroy are not what the majority of the people demand, as you will see when his case is again called in the court of Osage county, of which proceedings you will be duly informed.
The Kansas City [Mo.] Times, in an article fifteen columns in length, which it terms the “Ingalls Expose,” tries to convince the people of Kansas that when they sent Mr. Ingalls to the United States Senate they sent the worst political shyster to represent the State that Kansas has ever had in Washington. The editor claims that he can prove that Ingalls has never made an appointment except by bribery, and prefers many other charges not heretofore hears of in Kansas. The Times is a sense loyal sheet, filled every day with all kinds of dirty slang, and never harping on anything else but Kansas politics and Kansas men. How it will turn out I cannot say, but several of the men mentioned in the Times article have denounced the author as a cowardly and dirty slanderer.
The union picnic, comprising the different Sunday schools of Atchison and those from the towns along the Atchison and Nebraska Railroad, held at the Nemaha Pleasure Grounds, in Nebraska, about 60 miles from here, on Saturday last, was one of the pleasantest gatherings of the kind ever held in the West. There were three trains, of fourteen and fifteen coaches each, all filled with people, and it was estimated that there were between 6,000 and 7,000 people on the grounds. This picnic was under the auspices of the M.E. Sunday School of Doniphan, a little town six miles north of Atchison, and containing a population of perhaps 800 or 1,000 people.
And while I am speaking of Doniphan it may not be uninteresting to state that in the early days of Kansas it was the most promising town in the State. Long before Atchison was ever thought of it contained a population of 2,000 people. It is pleasantly situated on the Missouri river, and it was here that James Redpath, of Boston, now of lecture fame, published the Crusader of Freedom, in the pro-slavery days of Kansas; and it is said that in those days there were two or three men shot down every day in the streets, and that now persons walking along the streets can pick bullets from the fences, which were shot at men in those days. – There are several gentlemen in Atchison now who will vouch for the above fact, some of whom narrowly escaped with their lives in those terrible days.
The market is full of garden vegetables every morning, the hucksters fearing the grasshoppers will devour all they have. – Wagon load after wagon load of water and muskmelons are being brought in every morning and sold for from three to ten cents apiece. For five cents I can get a melon as large as one I have had to pay 75 cents for in Wellsboro. Peaches and grapes are plenty. Everything is much earlier here than with you, although you don’t get the grasshoppers back there. It might make your eyes stick out to come here and see them. – As I write I can look from my window and see them swarming as thick as bees, though I am told they are leaving and going East, but they will hardly get as far as Wellsboro this fall.
Kansas is not as poor today as was generally anticipated a month or so ago. As the facts become known concerning the grasshopper scourge and drought, the people feel more encouraged rather than discouraged. It is now thought that Kansas will average half a corn crop, while the small grains of all kinds will be abundant. The new frontier settlers of western and southern Kansas suffer heavily, as they came here only in time to put in a crop of corn, and that was all destroyed. In the eastern and central parts of the State but very little of the crops were touched. As a general thing, the farmers have put up large quantities of hay where the corn has been destroyed, which they think will answer the purpose of corn to a great extent. Of course many of the extreme frontier settlers will suffer for want of necessary provisions, and in consequence the Governor has convened the Legislature in extra session on the 15th, to take such action as is necessary to relieve the wants and sufferings of those whose crops have been entirely destroyed.
The political tickets of both parties are in the field, and the people of Kansas will be called upon on the second Tuesday in November to decide which party shall represent the State during the next two years. The telegraph has already informed the readers of the Agitator of the result of the Convention. The ticket is admitted by the Republicans, Democrats, and Reformers alike to be the strongest one the Republican ever nominated; but the Reformers say they can’t support it because they have got such a ticket in the field; that they will have to give it their support; what little they have; nor will one half of the Democracy of Kansas abide by the decision of their remarkable Convention. Governor Osborn will defeat the Reform nominee for Governor by almost a unanimous vote. The canvass is already getting exciting, and the State promises to be more thoroughly canvassed by both parties than since the close of the war. Parrott, the Reform nominee for Congress in the First District, spoke here on Monday night, and termed it the opening of the congressional canvass. His speech, however, was but slang and abuse of Col. William A. Phillips, his opponent. The speaker was not even cheered, but was several times hissed at. The people of Atchison want to hear facts, not lies, misrepresentations, and abuse. Parrott is too capable a man to make such an opening campaign speech, and he will find out that on the day of election the people will not have anything to do with such a man. Nor is he the man Kansas would have representing her in Congress.
The Reformers have been trying to patch up their ticket for the past month, but have not yet accomplished their purpose. The two offices they are having so much trouble with are Treasurer and Superintendent of Public Instruction. They have already nominated four men for each office, three having declined. They are now waiting to see if the other two will accept before they put their names before the people.
The temperance people of the State, not liking the Republican or Reform nominations, met in convention last Thursday and nominated another full ticket. It is said by those who were in attendance that the Convention was very stormy, and it is believed that not half of the candidates nominated will accept. Some of them have already declined. Whether they will keep patching up their ticket, as the Reformers have been doing, is not known; but I predict there will not be a candidate on the Reform or Temperance tickets elected.
It was my pleasure, on Thursday last, to visit the St. Joseph [Mo.] Exposition. Many predicted that on account of the drought and grasshoppers the Fair would be a failure, but it was more successful than the one a year ago. By actual count there were over 15,000 people who visited the grounds that day. Trains from every direction came in loaded with sightseers, and very few returned dissatisfied. Floral Hall was a perfect beauty, and everything imaginable was to be seen inside its walls. The display of fruits was unusually large. The stock department was thoroughly represented, and no Fair has yet been held west of St. Louis that has made such a splendid showing in this particular department. The officers and directors of the Fair were all in good humor at the splendid success of their second annual Exposition. St. Joseph is a live city, and her citizens all work with a will to accomplish all they undertake. A sad accident occurred at the Fair on Friday, by which a conductor named Williams was instantly killed. It was about six o’clock, and he was making up the last train to go to the fair grounds and bring in the remaining people. As he was trying to couple two cars together in a careless manner he was smashed to a jelly. One hour before he took his wife to the grounds, telling her he would leave her there until the next train. – Little did she think when she parted with him just one short hour before that it was the last time she would ever see him alive. He was well known here, for he had made it his home in East Atchison for several years.
Returning from St. Joseph, the train was an hour late, and the Hannibal train being on time, both ran side by side into Atchison. The tracks are very close together, and in consequence both engineers commenced getting up steam for a lively race to Atchison, for neither one of them wanted the other to have anything to brag over. It was the fastest railroad traveling I ever had, both trains running, in places, at the rate of fifty miles per hour, and arriving in Atchison at the same time. It was the most exciting race I ever witnessed; and one that I shall never forget. This railroad racing is pretty dangerous; but all the people on either train wanted to get there first.
The Kansas State Fair, from all accounts, proved a failure. It was held at Leavenworth, this week, and it is said the total receipts amounted to only about $4,000. The receipts ought to have been $50,000. The Legislature last winter passed a law forbidding horse racing and the selling of intoxicating liquors, hence the failure. There is not one out of a hundred people that attend Western Fairs except to see the horse racing, and wherever that is excluded the people will not attend. If the people want to make their State Fairs a success the Legislature will have to repeal that law. The display of stock and fruit was said to be the largest and finest ever seen in the Missouri valley. The fruit especially was said to be larger and fairer than that which carried off the gold medal at the National Pomological Convention in Philadelphia in 1868.
Following the St. Joseph and Kansas State Fairs, the Kansas City [Mo.] Exposition commences on Monday next and will continue during the week. It promises to be as successful as the one at St. Joseph. – The amount of premiums offered is $25,000. Kansas City and St. Joseph are striving hard to surpass each other in commercial supremacy. The population of each city is about the same, though the former has better railroad facilities. Kansas City is working energetically for her Fair, and will surpass her sister city if she can.
Your correspondent expects to visit the Fair this week, as doubtless he will see several Wellsboro boys there.
It has been raining almost continually for the past three days, and
the ground is now thoroughly soaked. Everything seems to take a new start.
Many fruit trees are leaving out and blossoming again. The farmers are
happy, as they are making preparations for sowing their fall wheat.
The Atchison Bridge Celebration
Atchison in Ecstasies – Crowds of Happy People – The City Profusely Decorated – An Accident – A Great Procession – The Speeches – An Unwelcome Rain – Agricultural Fairs
Atchison, September 3, 1875
The completion of the bridge has been celebrated, and Atchison is now content. – St. Joseph, Leavenworth, and Kansas City had their celebrations on the completion of their respective bridges, and as Atchison was the last one to get a bridge she started out to have the grandest celebration and the largest throng of people ever assembled west of St. Louis, and her success, beyond the expectations of everybody, cannot be contradicted. No bridge celebration has ever occurred in the Missouri valley with a larger crowd of people, or a finer display in the procession, than the Atchison bridge celebration on the 2nd of September. The procession was four miles long, and was two hours passing a given point. No one estimates the number of people here yesterday at less than 30,000, and Gov. Osborn, while referring to the crowd in attendance, said it was the largest assemblage of people that was ever known in Kansas since its organization as a State or its earliest territorial days.
The decoration of all the principal streets and business houses was one of the most interesting features of the day. The streets looked like living forests, and had it not been for this many people would have suffered from the intense heat; and there was not a building, either private or public, along the route of the procession that was not decorated in same shape. Many of the business houses were decorated with products from the farm, such as corn, potatoes, pumpkins, squashes, and everything imaginable in the shape of farm produce to greet the eye of the Eastern visitor. While many of them would exclaim, “Oh, what corn! Why, can’t we raise such big corn ‘Down East?’” “What pumpkins, melons, potatoes, and squashes!” “I never saw the beat! Many would remark that they thought Kansas had all been eaten up by the grasshoppers. But the hoppers left us early in the spring, and have not called on us again. Our farmers wanted to show the Eastern visitors what Kansas could raise any season when the grasshoppers kept away.
The day opened beautifully, with a stiff breeze from the south, and had every appearance of being a fair one. By 9 o’clock the wagons from the country, loaded with people, began to arrive. Every highway leading to the city was crowded with teams of all descriptions. At half-past the o’clock the first regular train that had crossed the Atchison bridge – the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific – passed over, consisting of eight coaches, all loaded with passengers. Your correspondent, getting the idea in his head that he wanted to cross on the first train, repaired to East Atchison and got aboard the train as it arrived from the east, and came across the bridge amid the cheering and the waving of handkerchiefs of the multitude of people on the bridge and on both sides of the river who had come to see the first train cross. I consider it quite a compliment and honor to have been one of the first to cross the bridge. A test of the bridge was made some three weeks ago, but no trains crossed until Thursday.
Half an hour later the Burlington and Missouri River train came in with six coaches jammed full of people, and close behind it the Hannibal and St. Joseph with ten coaches all full. The above trains were all from the east side of the river, and all crossed the bridge. It was now time for the trains from the west to begin coming in. – At 11:30 the Central Branch train, with 21 coaches with passengers from along its line and from the Republican and Solomon valleys, arrived, and immediately crossed the bridge and returned to the depot and unloaded its passengers. By this time the two trains on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe road arrived, containing 23 coaches, and so densely packed that it was impossible to find standing room for another person. – After they were run across the bridge and returned they were unloaded.
At this hour the streets were nothing but a perfect jam of human beings, with two more trains to arrive, and the question was what was to be done with the people. At noon the Missouri Pacific train, with ten coaches filled with people, arrived; and one hour later the Atchison and Nebraska train from the north, with 18 loaded cars, came in. This train was detained some two hours by an accident in which two of the passengers killed. The rails had spread apart, throwing two cars from the track and these two gentlemen in jumping out were thrown under the cars and crushed to death. It was a sad accident, for it was but a few hours before that they left Lincoln in good health, with bright anticipations of enjoying the day in Atchison.
At two o’clock the procession began to move. This of course brought all the people out. For miles on both sides of the streets through which the procession passed every inch of the ground was taken up, and it was with difficulty that the people could be kept back. Every point of view on the housetops and in the second, third, and fourth-story windows was taken. It would consume too much of your space to describe all that was in the procession, but there was not an Atchison industry that was not represented. There were many comical displays made in the procession about “droughty Kansas” and “grasshopper Kansas” which brought forth cheers all along the route. – They must have been seen to be appreciated, and I will not burden your columns in describing them.
After the procession got through marching it disbanded, and those who chose assembled at the western approach to the bridge to hear the speeches made by gentlemen from Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri. The bridge was handsomely decorated with flags, wreaths, and evergreens, and on both ends were printed in large letters, “Kansas and Missouri” and the name of every railroad running into our city. The speeches were all, of course, in high praise of Atchison and her bridge; but no one can deny that the completion of the bridge will forever bind together the greatest system of railroads in the Missouri valley, and no one can contradict the fact that Atchison has the greatest railroad facilities of any city west of St. Louis.
The speech making concluded the day’s entertainment, and every one was looking for something to eat, for there were 30,000 people to feed. At eight o’clock in the evening it commenced raining and continued incessantly for four hours. The fireworks and the torchlight procession had to be postponed, for the streets were all running rivers. This rainstorm, with the exception of several dances, brought the celebration to a close.
The Atchison bridge is now thrown open to travel. Today teams commenced crossing, and next week the cars will run over it regularly. The old ferryboat which has been running between this city and East Atchison for twenty years is now tied up, having made its last trip on the evening of September 2nd. On that day, however, it was decorated with flags and evergreens. – The flags were at half-mast and turned upside down. After plying between Atchison and East Atchison, unobstructed, for over twenty years, and ferrying thousands of people annually, it is today conquered for the first time by the completion of the iron bridge. Many times have I crossed the turbid waters of the Missouri in the “Pomeroy,” [for it was named in honor of Senator Pomeroy.] It is perhaps needless for me to say that its owners have made a fair fortune out of it. It had a worldwide reputation.
The Missouri valley fairs commence next week; that at St. Joseph beginning on Monday and lasting the whole week, and the week following the Kansas City Fair commences and continues a week. Jeff Davis will made the opening address at the latter place.
A Republican Victory – The New Mayor’s First Work – State Politics – Ex-Senator Pomeroy – A Great Land Case – Popular Rejoicing – The Black Hills Humbug – A Heavy April Snow Storm – Also Rain and Hail – A Forward Spring
Atchison, April 16, 1876
Our city election passed off quietly, the Republicans having their own way and electing the whole ticket, beating their opponents by majorities ranging from 50 to 150. A year ago – by money and illegal voting – the Democrats managed to run our city affairs as they thought best; this year the Republicans control the whole city government. – The Atchison Democracy claim that the drift of the local elections held here and elsewhere throughout the State and country this spring will have no bearing upon the Presidential election next November; but the Republicans say there “straws” show which way the country is going.
The first official act our new Mayor did after being qualified for the position was to order the police to enforce the ordinance in relation to closing up the gambling halls and houses of prostitution that have so long been a disgrace to the city. And he will enforce this ordinance if it is all he does during his term of office. Tomorrow the police will see that this law is carried out. In this respect the Mayor will receive the hearty support of all citizens of Atchison.
The Republican State Convention to nominate State officers and elect delegates to the Cincinnati Convention will be held in Topeka on the 24th of May. Every office has its numerous seekers, and it is evident that the Convention will be one of the most exciting ones ever held in the State. There are several of the best men in the State out for the Governorship, the present incumbent, Thos. Jabom, not being in the race. He will, in all probability, be a strong candidate for Senator Harvey’s position. There seems to be no doubt that D.W. Wilder will be his own successor to the office of Auditor. The fact is, no one dare run against him. He handled the office for two terms, and with such satisfaction that the people want him for a third term, although they do not approve of the President running for a third term.
It is rumored that Ex-Senator Pomeroy will stump the State this summer for the Republican ticket. The ex-Senator would wield a powerful influence in the State, and I do not believe there is a city, town, or hamlet in all Kansas but that would turn out to greet him. I do not believe there is a man who ever resided her who has the warm, earnest, and sincere friends he has. – It is claimed by the Democrats that he will be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate; but this is all nonsense, although, I think he is a better man for the position than many in that body now. Had the ex-Senator remained in the State after his defeat four years ago, he would in all probability make a live race next winter. He is at present with his family in Washington.
There is great rejoicing in all parts of the State over the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court of the Osage land case in favor of the settlers and against the railroads. The Osage lands comprise about 960,000 acres, on which there are situated the homes of over 40,000 people. It is a case that has long been pending in the State and United States courts, and was decided by the State courts several years ago in favor of the settlers; but the railroad companies, not satisfied with the decision, appealed it to the United States Supreme Court, and have been beaten there. The railroads are now powerless to do anything more, for the highest court in the lend has decided against them and in favor of the settlers, who have made their homes on these lands for years. No decision has ever been rendered by any court that has given so much joy and satisfaction to so large a number of people, and no land case involving so many acres was ever before decided by any tribunal in the land. The settlers on these lands have there fore a right to rejoice over their success, and the people from all parts of the State rejoice with them.
Jollification meetings have been held in all the cities and towns situated on these lands by the settlers in honor of their triumph, and it is estimated that at one of the meetings at least 10,000 farmers were in attendance, coming from miles and miles around. It is said the railroad companies have spent many thousands of dollars in prosecuting the suits, and are now satisfied to let the settlers have the homes they are so justly entitles to, and allow others the same right and privilege in settling them up.
|The Black Hills fever seems to be dying out here in the West, and there is but little travel that way, so far as I can learn. I have already conversed with people from there who returned almost naked and glad to get back. They all claim that gold is there; but the snow is so deep that it will be two or three months yet before mining can be commenced, and but three or four months of the year can mining operations be carried on. Who wants to go to such a country as that? I don’t; and I would advise all your Tioga county people who have got the Black Hills “fever” to keep away from there. I recently saw a letter from an old Atchison citizen who is now in the Black Hills. The gentleman reports times dull and all kinds of food at ruinously high figures. Potatoes are worth 10 cents per pound, beans 12 ½ cents, bacon 30 cents, and so on. He says the poorest kind of whisky sells for $12 per gallon. It had snowed every day since the 11th of March, the day he arrived there. He says one miner had dug $41 in gold, and thawed out the dirt in his cabin. So much for the Black Hills.|
I cannot see anything very encouraging in the above to justify anyone
going there just at the present time, especially those that have got anything
to do at home. The people who are just now reaping the benefits of this
gold excitement are in those towns that are bidding for the starting point,
and who have outfitting supplies they are selling for more than triple
the prices they could purchase them for at points not interested in the
scheme. Your correspondent has not got the “fever” as much as formerly.
He prefers to stay where he is for the present.
The severest snowstorm I have ever seen occurred last Monday. It has been raining a port of two days, and the ground was thoroughly saturated with water. On Monday it began to snow and kept it up steadily for almost fifteen hours; and the flakes were the largest I had ever seen, not excepting your hardest snowstorms in Northern Pennsylvania. The oldest inhabitants say there must have been twenty inches of snow. On several of the railroads in the State no trains arrived or departed for a week, the snow having drifted and filled all the cuts back full. For a week Atchison had no telegraphic communications with outside cities. Samuel King, formerly of Wellsboro, but now of Seneca, Kansas, was a victim of this snowstorm. He came to Atchison on business the day before the storm, and was compelled to stop here a whole week before either of the railroads running to Seneca were opened. A bluer man I have never met with. He couldn’t get a letter or telegram through to inform his folks of his whereabouts. He says he will never come to Atchison again at this season of the year. – Sam seldom curses, but he thinks he was justified in using pretty severe language on this occasion.
One thing about this storm: it did incalculable good to the growing crops. It did not freeze a particle, and under the deep snow it was so slushy and disagreeable that people could hardly navigate. Three days afterward there was not a particle of snow to be seen except where it had drifted. – Farmers say it was preferable to a good rainstorm, for it did them more good.
On Thursday night last occurred one of the hardest rain and hailstorms this city has been visited with for a long time. The rain came down in torrents, and the streets looked like rivers. The hailstorm accompanied the rain and the hailstones were the largest I have ever seen. Had there been a wind blowing at the time there would have been but few whole windows left in the city. As it was, a great many suffered. The storm did considerable damage to railroad tracks and bridges, not a train being in on time for two days after.
The Missouri is rising rapidly, and the prospect is that this rise will be much greater than the May rise generally is, on account of so much snow and rain falling of late all along the river. The June rise will be the time for people to look out.
The boating season has begun nearly a month earlier this spring than usual. Already three boats have passed up the river, two for Fort Benton, and the other with passengers and teams for the Black Hills.
The weather is warm and mild, and the farmers are happy. Wheat never looked better. Garden truck has begun to come into market, and if the weather keeps warm for two or three weeks longer the market will be well supplied.
|Henry Root Letters Part One||Part Two|