A big THANK YOU to Renee Archambo, a descendent of George Elmore, for submitting this wonderful story. George had a wonderful way with words and paints a perfect picture of what life was like in early Meade County.
Copyright: Renee Archambo
The Elmore Family
|Editors note: On page 26 of Frank Sullivan's "A History of Meade County Kansas" this entry can be found: "The Belle Meade Town Company followed, incorporating June 6th, 1885, with J. M. Brannon, Robert P. Cooper, John Schmoker, James H. Elmore and H. Chaney, directors."|
Chapter 10 - Meade County's First Cornfield
Well, these towns sprang up like mushrooms, although the building material had to be hauled over land from Dodge City over forty miles. Meade Center was started along in March or April and by the forth of July there was almost a solid block of business places around a square block which was left in the center of the town to build the courthouse on when they got the county seat. Bank, hotel, Opera House, grocery stores, dry goods store, general stores and drug stores galore lined the square and besides there were stores on some of the side streets. Belle Meade had a hotel, three general stores, a furniture store, lumber yard and implement house, black smith shop and one of the stores had a supply of drugs and medicine. It was such a good healthy country nobody ever got sick. The town board put down a deep well and got plenty of good water, put up a windmill and as we always had a good breeze, everybody came to the town pump with their water pails and jugs. There was an endless supply for the well never went dry. The settlers around who did not have wells of good water came to the town pump.
In the spring of 1885, Dad re-plowed the spot where Christopher Chilistofils (?) plowed up for us to get sod to build a stable and we worked it up and planted some garden. Where we had taken the sod off it was easily worked but the tough buffalo grass sod was hard to work. He plowed up eight or ten acres of new sod and planted it to corn. I planted it with an ax. I followed every third furrow and where it lapped on the other I chopped a hole with the ax and dropped in three grains of corn, hacked the sod a little and pressed it down with my foot. It was slow planting but I had lots of time and needed something to do.
I think I had the honor of planting the first field of corn in Meade County. Mr. Joe Brannon who had taken a claim a mile south of us had plowed up some sod the year before. He worked it over this year and got it in a shape to plant with a two horse planter. Mr. Brannon had been farming in Harper County a few years, had sold out at a good price and had come on farther west to try it again and had brought his farm tools with him. He perhaps had a larger field, but I had mine planted first. We had plenty of rain that year and the crops were fine. We had as good corn as any we had ever raised on the old clay knobs of old Morgan County Indiana, and we did not have to hoe and cultivate it either, the soil was too tough to cultivate. All that country needed was plenty of rain, and we got it that year. Kansas was on a boom and we could sing… “We’ve reached the land of corn and beans and every thing looks fresh and green.” The tide of immigration still kept coming. The government land was all being taken up. You cold see the sails of prairie schooners in any direction you might look. A few feet of lumber some nails and a roll of tar paper would build a claim shanty and you could soon live at home.
Chapter 11 - The Fourth of July Celebration of 1885
Belle Meade, like some of the other towns, was getting ready to put on a big celebration the Fourth. A committee was appointed to make plans and get up a program. The lumberyard furnished lumber to build a platform and also for seats and tables. The theme was an old-fashioned basket dinner. Every family in the neighborhood was to bring a well-filled basket of food. The coffee was furnished by the grocery stores, the hotel prepared it, and those who had cows furnished the cream. Peter Bowrs, the furniture man, furnished the flags. The stores had a good supply of firecrackers. A group of young folks had been practicing some patriotic songs. There was only one organ in the country and the lady that owned it said she would bring it and do the playing.
It was a beautiful day. The people began coming early, some on horseback, some in lumber wagons drawn by horses and mules. One family, I recall, drove an ox team. I helped Ed Blair drive his sheep that were feeding down toward the town site up the creek a little farther and also untangled some rams that had got their horns locked.
There was a nice steady Kansas wind and the wheel on the tower was turning so as to give an even stoke to the pump that was bringing from the bowels of the earth that precious of all beverages that men could not exist without. It made me think of that lesson in the old “McGuffey’s Fourth Reader” about the town pump talking through its nose. Some of the teachers would have us read it as talking through our nose… “Here I stand like a dram seller on a public day and cry to all here it is, here it is, better than cognac, Holland and Jamaica strong beer and wine and not a cent to pay.”
Toward noon there could be seen a large herd of cattle coming over the prairie, which the cowboys parked, as we would call it today, just outside the village and some of them came into town to help us celebrate. They bought firecrackers and gave some of them to us boys and watched us fire them. Someone laid one on the brim of my new cowboy hat to see me jump when it went off… it didn’t scare me much, but I did not like the scorch mark it made on my new hat.
The cowboys ate dinner with us. We knew most of them for they worked on the ranches nearby. They were on the annual roundup and they had some cattle in the bunch that had Mr. Schmoker’s brand on them, and they told him if he would get a rope they would catch them and tie them up. He went in the store and got a long piece of rope from the coil and then we all went out and saw a real rodeo. Two of the boys rode into the herd and drove out the ones that had Mr. Schmoker’s brand on them, lassoed them, threw them and tied them to examine the brand more closely to be sure it was the right one and there was no other brand on them. There were no trees or fence posts to tie them to, so they drove down stakes to fasten them to. The boys then rounded up the herd and started them on their way towards the ranches where they belonged. It was quite a sight for those who had not seen that kind of work.
Chapter 12 – Independence Day in Meade Center
The crowd then gathered back around the platform for the afternoon program. They sang “America” and “Marching Through Georgia.” John Blair recited “Sheridan’s Ride,” Joe Brannon, who had been a soldier in the Civil War, made quite a speech and told stories about the war. Mr. Schmoker was on the program for a talk and I think he had a well-prepared speech, but when he got about halfway through his son, Ed Schmoker, who worked on a ranch quite a few miles away and had not been home for some time, rode up. His brothers and sisters and lots of other children and neighbors that knew Ed rushed out to meet him. Mr. Schmoker excused himself and went to meet him too. He had lost the greater part of his audience and the speech was never finished.
I believe the singers on the platform sang… or tried to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” and the celebration came to a close for there had been no provisions made for fireworks. Soon the families were loaded up and were wending their way home to their claim shanties, sod houses and dugouts, having done their duty as a citizen to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Meade Center had a celebration also, with races, athletic sports and other entertainments. The drugstores and “dram sellers” were also busy with their wares… some that were stronger than those of the “town pump.” There was big dance hall in full operation with it’s old time fiddlers and callers with their rhythmic and staccato voices mingling with the noise of firecrackers and other noises that make a Forth of July celebration.
Each business place was trying to outdo the other with its flags and streamers. There were boys and girls running up and down the newly laid streets, shouting and waving their little flags and shooting firecrackers. Ladies dressed in their eastern fashion of high hats and big bustles, red and green sashes around their slender waists tied in a big bow on the top of the bustle sent out streamers to flutter in the Kansas wind. Some of them carried parasols to protect their powdered faces from the hot Kansas sun. There were men with tailored suits and derby hats, to distinguish them from the rustic farmer and common laborer and also to brand them as an Eastern tenderfoot. There were also women and girls from Aunt Lou’s place down the street, for every profession and business was being represented in this little town that had sprung up like a mushroom.
There were a great many citizens that had been there only a few weeks. Some had not come to get a home and grow up with the country, but that they might get a bite of that land that flowed with milk and honey, and many were not very particular how they got it.
Well on that beautiful day in the afternoon another group thought they would show their patriotism and ride up to that booming town. Some of them had not had the opportunity to help in a Forth of July celebration for many years and it would give them a chance to see the faces of women and children which they seldom did. So cowboys from near and far come riding into town dressed in their ten-dollar hats and high boots riding on a forty-dollar saddle and a ten-dollar pony, their belts with six-shooters strapped around their waists and their spurs a jingling. It was quite a sight for some of those eastern newcomers. They rode up and down the streets and around the square exhibiting some of their western horsemanship.
Soon they were mingling with the populace of the town, playing with the children and walking up and down the street with the ladies. (The soldier or cowboy is always charming to a lady.) Some of these boys had lived the early part of their lives in the east, sons of well-to-do people and were well educated and knew how to behave themselves in cultured society. Some of them had come west for adventure. Some to try to forget disappointments, other to escape penalties and some had been sent or persuaded to go west by their parents to get them away from the environment or society they were in.
No patriotic program had been arranged so the celebration took on the more of an aspect of a carnival. The gambling places were running full away and the drinking places had a good business. The cowboys were doing their part, and some of them were beginning to feel the effect of this new life. One of them rode his horse into the dance hall and asked, or I might say… commanded, the musicians to play a lively piece so he could show them how his horse could step and kick it off. After the sun had gone down over the western horizon of Crooked Creek Valley and darkness settled down, the absence of street lights forced all activities to be carried on inside by kerosene lights.
The cowboys concluded the rest of the celebration with fireworks of the western style. They rode up and down the streets yelling like wild Indians, shot all the lights out and left the place in darkness and beat it for their ranches and camps where they had left their cattle. It was a miracle that there was not a man for breakfast to start a new business and a new subdivision (cemetery.) One was started a short time afterward by a man dying with his boots on.
Chapter 13 - Organizing a County
The tide of immigration was still flowing and the county was getting settled up and plans to organize the county were being made. The fight was on for the county seat, and those that were political minded were campaigning for the various county offices.
At last Election Day came and the election was carried on in an orderly peaceful manner. More orderly than some the writer can remember as a boy back in the rural precincts of Indiana. When the vote was counted, Meade Center got the county seat by a good majority and the elected officers were sworn in without any contests. Old Chris Schmoker said, “No matter how it be ebery body newd it was gude ebon so as it vas.”
Now that the county seat was established, the other little towns began to move. Some of the buildings in Belle Meade went to Meade Center and some to Fowler City and all that remained were the windmill tower and the blacksmith shop, which was worked over into a schoolhouse. The wheel had been taken off the windmill tower, and to get water now we had to work the pump handle.
We school kids used to make forts out of the cellar holes and pile up tin cans and have fun knocking them down. An old greyhound that had got lost from his owners hung around the schoolhouse for a few days. He was nice to play with until he began staling the kid’s dinners. Then he was brought into court and proved guilty and the sentence was a tin can tied to his tail and he was told to leave the country. The last we saw of him was a streak of greyhound going across the prairie.
Mr. John Innis was again our teacher. Someone shipped us some new modern seats and desks and we discarded the old board benches. Our school district was divided up that year; part of the term was at Bell Meade, and part over across the creek. I did not have a pony to ride so I missed part of the term.
Bill sold his preemption near the Belle Meade town site.. or rather traded it for a span of old mules… and he took a homestead twenty miles south of us right along the side of a timber claim Dad had taken. Dad’s claim lay right along the creek one fourth of a mile wide and a mile long. Bill’s was the same but part of it ran up on the bluff…but he had quite a lot of good bottomland.
Chapter 14 - The Wedding
The seeds of love that were sewn at the Spelling School at old Mt. Olive in Morgan County Indiana had germinated. Although the field had widened from the Old Rock Hill to the broad prairie of Western Kansas, the growing plant had been cultivated and sprayed by many love letters carried by train and stagecoach. The plants being so far apart were exposed to many pests and need many sprayings, and sometime that invisible spray that is carried between the lines. Now that plant had budded into full flower and only needed the fertilization of pollen carried by that little bee called Cupid that knows no distance. The ripened fruit was now ready to be garnered into that Holy bond of wedlock.
Preparations were being made for the wedding. Mollie R. Elmore had completed her wedding dress and chosen her bridesmaid. R.D. (Doug) Brown had signed a contract for a school in Indiana, and now before the time for school to commence was a good time to go west and bring home his bride. He traveled by railroad train to Dodge City and them by stage to Belle Meade post office. When he got off the stage at Belle Meade, his dress and manners identified him as the Hosier schoolmaster that had come west to pluck one of the young ladies that made up their small social circle, and he was the subject of much inspection and comment by the young men and the young ladies of the community. As Meade County was only in the process of being organized a trip to Dodge City was necessary to get the legal papers to join two people as man and wife. So it was decided that while they were there they would have the nuptial knot tied by a minister.
Bill and I rode his mules over to Meade Center where there was a livery barn to see if we could get a light two seated rig to make the trip, for Bill was to go along as best man and the brides maid was to be picked up at Fowler City. We could not get a two-seated buggy so had to take a single seated top buggy. When we got back home the mules were replaced with old Nellie Gray and Moses, Dad’s team. The three of them loaded in and started for Dodge City. At Fowler City Bill hired another team and buggy. Amner Chenney, the bridesmaid, rode with him and they were soon on their way.
When they arrived at Dodge City the day was well spent and they procured lodging for the night. Early the next morning they got the license to get married and soon found a preacher to do the job. They took a short wedding trip to Old Fort Dodge and then headed for home. Amner Chenney was dropped off at Fowler, Bill returned the rig he had to the livery barn, got in the buggy with the newlyweds, and they were soon back home.
A few of the girls had planned a reception and a wedding gift for them. The boys, too, had planned a reception but of a different kind. Mrs. Schmoker, who had got some wind of the kind of reception the boys had planned, came along with the girls to give the family some warning. She told Dad and Mother that if the boys came and asked the newlyweds to step outside so they could get a good look at them, to not let them do it.
When the boys arrived, Mary Schmoker went to the door and told them there was not room for them all in the house, but she would have Mr. And Mrs. Brown stand right by the door and she would hold the light so they could get a good look at them from the outside. They took their place by the door and when Mary held a kerosene lamp so that they could all see, Silas Schmoker, her brother, took his hat and fanned out the light. Dad, who was sitting on the steps that led outside from the kitchen was there quick as a flash and told the boys if they could not come there and act like gentlemen, they had better got out. Dad never did have very much diplomacy and when aroused could use some rough commanding language. Fred Schmoker, an older brother of Mary and Silas, was the spokesman for the gang. He and Dad exchanged quite a few words. Brother Dock never could keep still… he said, “Oh, Dad, can’t you let the boys have a little fun?” If he had known the boy’s plans he would probably have said more than Dad did.
The boys finally moved back toward the road and the last words I heard Fred say was, “I’ll never call you Mr. Elmore again!” and he didn’t, for after they got back on speaking terms he always called him Jim. The boy’s plan was to grab the bridegroom as soon as the bride and bridegroom stepped outside, bind him and load him into a light wagon that they had waiting at the gate and take him over across the creek to a swampy place and let him find his way back.
Those western boys had never participated in an old-time charivari that was sometimes used to initiate the bridegroom into the mysteries of married life. … or perhaps that was the western version of it. It was lucky it was stopped before someone was hurt. Thanks to Mrs. Schmoker, the Guardian Angel of the young people of Belle Meade.
The next day Mollie packed her trunk with her few belongings and Dad took hem to Dodge City where they took the train on the old Santa Fe for Indiana to start a new home.
Chapter 15 - The Bubble Burst
The year 1886 came in with a big blizzard, but brought not many changes. The tide of immigration still continued and the counties west of us were being settled up. The little towns that were left were expanding and the stores were doing a good business. Prices were high as all supplies had to be hauled from Dodge. The production on claims did not furnish much support. The finance of the new settlers that had come west to make them a home was beginning to run short and there were no large industries near to furnish work. The girls that were old enough in some of the families went to work in the hotels or as domestics. The young men got work in building or driving teams and freight hauling while Dad and Mother held the claim down.
The new banks and real estate firms financed by eastern capital were willing and eager to make loans at a high rate of interest. The preemption law gave the claimant the right to, after six months residents, pay one dollar and a quarter per acre for the land and get a deed for it. The High Hate in Washington thought it would be an act of kindness to extend that privilege to homesteaders. “Thank you,” said Capital, “we will now show our kindness, we will furnish money to these poor people to prove up and buy their land and take a mortgage on it.” (I suppose in this day it would be Uncle Sam that would make that loan.) Many got a loan on their home and tried to stick it out… others got all they could, then forgot about it interest and all. In a few years the bubble burst and a lot of that beautiful prairie land belonged to eastern capitalists, and the tide of immigration was drifting eastward and the banner on the old prairie schooner was changed. Some wrote on their wagon canvas “In God we trusted and by God we’re BUSTED.”
On Decoration (Memorial) Day, 1886, when I came out of the house after dinner Dad was sitting by the west kitchen door watching a dark cloud in the southwest. He said, “That looks like it might be a cyclone coming. We had better go to the cyclone cellar.” He called to the rest of the family in the house and we all made for the cellar. I was next to the last one to go down and I took a good look at the whirling funnel-shaped cloud and quite a lot of rumbling could be heard for it was getting close. Dad followed me down and fastened the door.
This was the fist time we had run from a cyclone. We could hear a lot of noise like freight trains running over a bridge, then the hailstones falling on the cellar door. When the noise and the hail and rain had slackened, Dad opened the cellar door and we all went out. The house and the stables were still standing and nothing had been disturbed. We looked around and the neighbor’s houses (all that we could see) seemed to be alright. There was a rise in the prairie south of us and we could not see very far in that direction.
In a short time Mr. Schmoker came driving by and called Dad out and asked him to go with him to see what the cyclone had done. He had been watching it from his place and one of his family had remarked that it was “headed straight for Elmores.” When they returned they said it had destroyed two houses about one and one half miles southwest of us. There was no one living in one of the houses and the people living in the other saw the cyclone coming and ran out of it’s path… everything was completely destroyed. The only whole things of the household goods they found were a teaspoon and a baby shoe. The building was all broke up into kindling wood. The little horse stable was near the edge of the storm. It was picked up and destroyed but the team was unhurt except a few scratches caused by splinters hitting them. A new wagon that had just been driven home from Dodge was standing in front of the house, and the biggest piece left of it was an axle with a hub and two spokes. The lady of the house, skeptical about running from a storm, was the last to leave. When she got to a deep ditch that was dug to change the road she dropped into it and a piece of the wagon tongue lay across the ditch above her. It was not a wide cyclone and as there were no other buildings in its path for a few miles it either blew out or rose back into the sky.
The cyclone just hit the edge of Meade Center and tore to pieces two sod houses that no one was living in. The citizens of that up-to-date town were just getting ready for a memorial service (they just had one grave in their cemetery… the one who died in his boots on) and were watching the course of the cyclone. Some of them run out of town. When the cyclone crossed the creek and went up the bluff it changed its course a little and that is the reason it missed Elmores one half or three fourths of a mile.
Chapter 16 - Don't Fence Me In
The country was getting so thickly settled that it made it difficult for the big ranchers to drive their cattle up the trails to the shipping point. In some places the trails were changed and grazing was getting destroyed. Sometimes the cattle would stampede and sometimes they were stampeded to get them through. They were opening up a trail farther west to intersect one railroad at a place they called Trail City. Then Dodge would no more be the gateway to the southwest and loose the trade of the big herds of cattle, and the big freight outfits that traveled over the Camp Supply, Jones and Plummer and Adobe Walls Trails.
Some of the new-comers came west to raise cattle on a small scale, get a few cows… 25 or 50… let them out on the prairie and increase and multiply and soon they would have a big herd. Bill Nye or Josh Billings or someone said he knew a man that bought an old steer and soon had a hundred head of cattle. Maverick was more plentiful those days.
Some came to go into sheep raising. Peter Blair and Chris Schmoker (John Schmoker’s brother who lived about 20 miles down the creek, were about the only sheep men in the county. Mr. Blair sold most of his flock to a young man from Illinois who was ambitious to go into the sheep business. Ed Clark was a well-educated young Irishman. He came from the rich farming land of Illinois where his brothers were sheep and cattle raisers. Ed thought he could come west where land was plentiful and grazing free and do a big business. My brother, Dock, worked for him awhile. Ed soon got tired of it and went back… Dock and Bill took the sheep to keep on shares but they could not make it pay.
There was a tribe of Indians down in the Indian Territory that was giving the soldier boys down at Camp Supply some trouble in keeping them on the reservation. They had broken out a few years before and came up through Meade County and played a little havoc. I think one man was killed before they surrounded them… there were still marks of the battle down on Sand Creek where they were captured.
It was strange how everybody had heard about the trouble with the Indians. There were no telephones or radios, but news travels fast by grapevine and it grows as it goes. Some of the new settlers were a little shaky. Some cowboys thought now would be a good time to give them a good scare, and they also thought it might be a good way to open the trail to the market for their cattle. They worked various schemes… one cowboy put on his slicker without any clothes on, jumped on his pony and rode pell mell into a new settlement… told everyone that the Indians had broke out and were coming this way and he did not have time to dress. Other tales got started and it spread like a prairie fire. One morning just as Dad and I turned the horses out in the pasture, Mr. Schmoker came riding along and stopped and told us he had heard that some Indians had got out of the reservation and were coming this way, he did not know how true it was, but it had happened once before. He said that two of his boys and some others had gone down toward the Neutral Strip (as No Man’s Land was called) to scout around and find out and it might be well to bring the family over to his place. He had a good bank house that would make a kind of a fort in case that they should have to get together to protect themselves until the Army from the camp got the Indians back to the reservation. He would go and ask some more of the neighbors to come over too.
Dad said, “George get up the horses,” and went and told Mother to get the kids and get something to eat to take along for we were running from the Indians. She was in the garden picking cucumbers and said, “Wait until I get the cucumbers picked.” I got the horses in the barn and Dad came to help me harness them. He got the harness a little tangled and I thought he acted a little nervous, but I did not dare to say so. Well, we loaded into the wagon and drove over to Mr. Schmokers. Some other neighbors were there and some more came.
Chapter 17 - Indian Scare
We kids had a good time playing and the women got us a good picnic dinner. In the afternoon Mr. Schmoker took his field glasses and climbed upon the house and looked all around… he could see for miles. He said he could not see any Indians nor even our scouts. We got in our wagon and went home to feed the chickens and milk the cows. Mother finished picking her cucumbers. After supper we went back to Mr. Schmokers. Night came and still no scouts nor Indians. They made beds for the women and children upstairs and the men were to sleep in the basement. The women said, “You brave men put us upstairs where the Indians can get us and then hide away in the basement!”
I stayed with the men in the basement. It got real dark and cloudy and misted a little rain. Someone said this would be an ideal night for the Indians to sneak up. After awhile the back door opened and Fred Schmoker walked in. He said, “You are dandy watchers… here I rode in and put my horse away and fed him and none of you saw me.” He told of the time they had.
Mr. Joe Brannon was with them and as he had been a soldier in the Civil War, he took command and organized his scouts, sent some of them one direction and some the other, so as to cover a wide area… and told them where they would meet. Most of the boys knew the country real well. Fred said as he was riding down a ridge in quite a rugged part of the country he heard a yell or an imitation war whoop. He looked across the little valley and there was Joe Brannon and another man waving their hats and a coming toward him. As they rode around a little bend in the valley, they saw a man going over a rise as fast as he could go. They soon came to his claim shanty. It looked as if he had dropped everything and run, some of his dinner was on his little table and a watch was hanging on a nail driven in the wall, but sign of no one could be found. He must have heard Mr. Brannon’s war whoop and thought the Indians were coming for sure. He was not the only one that left their claim shanties and hid out. Ed Clark, the sheep man, said he and his man left his little camp and the sheep in the corral one night and hid out. Dock was not working for Clark then, but was working down in the country where the scare originated and perhaps did his little part toward it. In a few days everything quieted down and everyone began getting back to their claims and droves of cattle could be seen moving up the trail toward the shipping point.
Chapter 18 - Final Chapter in Meade County
A Mr. Childs and his wife came to Belle Meade. He was a preacher and his wife a well-educated lady and an active part in the church and Sunday school. Mr. Childs preached once and awhile. Sometimes he would go to the other little towns to preach I suppose. They did not take a claim, but he seemed to be quite interested in real estate. One day he heard Dad say he might prove up his claim and sell out if he had the money to pay the required $200.00.
Soon Mr. Childs was over to see him. He offered to furnish him the $200.00 and then buy the place when Dad got the deed. They finally made a bargain and Dad began making the legal procedure to prove up the claim and get the deed from the government. Whey they got ready for Dad to deed the land to Mr. Childs he wanted Dad to throw in a lot of things that was not in the contract. One word brought on another until Dad lost his temper and accused him of going around under the cloak of a preacher and trying to rob the poor people. When Dad got ruffled up he did not care what he said and who he said it to.
I thought they were going to get in a fight and wondering what chance Dad would have in a fight with a big strong athlete like Mr. Childs. I knew he was a good shot too, for I had seen his practicing. He could throw up a tin can and shoot two or three holes in it with his revolver before it hit the ground. When it had gone about far enough Mother asked them to stop and think what they were saying. They calmed down and Mr. Childs apologized for the things he said, for he did not realize that Mr. Elmore was not in very good health. I think some of the things Dad said was hitting close to the spot. Mr. Childs was as much interested in the financial gain he could make in buying and selling real estate as he was in preaching the Gospel. We should all remember that: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger” Prov. 15-1. Well the deal was made and Dad got his one thousand dollars and now what? Dad had a sister living at or near Topeka, Kansas, he had not seen for a long time. He had been writing to her and now said we will go to Topeka.
Soon we were getting ready to move again. We did not have a sale but sold and gave away what we could not take with us. Some of the things Dad sold on time he never did collect for. The wagon was well loaded; our old tent was worn out or torn up, so the wagon was home for Dad, Mother and three kids. Old Nellie Gray was hitched to the wagon but she had a new partner this time… the black horse we called Moses. We headed northeast but the trails had been changed some since we drove in on the Forth of July, 1884. As we passed over the divide between Crooked Creek and Sand Creek we looked back and took a farewell look at our beautiful Crooked Creek Valley. We passed many places where the settlers were sticking it out in their sod houses or board shanties and proving up their claims. We had beautiful weather… Mother, Jen and Ben slept in the wagon and Dad and I slept under it. Some times we had beautiful camping places in some grove by a creek and the piping of the locust would soon put us to sleep.
If you enjoyed George Elmore's story about the Belle Meade area I would like to recommend the book, "Cimarron Chronicles" by Carrie Schmoker Anshutz and the book, "Trails South" by C. Robert Haywood. Both of these titles can be found on-line at www.prairiebooks.com.
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