Kansas Historical Quarterly - The Kansas Prairie, Or, Eight Days on the Plains
by Isaac Moffat
May 1937 (vol. 6, no. 2, pages 147 to 174
Transcribed by lhn; digitized with permission of
the Kansas Historical Society.
ISAAC MOFFATT, whose record of a visit to Kansas in 1859 is here reproduced, was a resident of Philadelphia. He came to the territory to remove the body of a friend, named only as George in the account, who was a member of a surveying expedition and who died about a month before Moffatt's arrival. Moffatt wrote somewhat extravagantly and a few flights into the upper reaches of his fancy, quite irrelevant to the presentation of a picture of Kansas through the eyes of an Eastern traveler, have been omitted. In a preface he offered an apology for the deficiencies of a narrative written only for members of his family and close friends who might be interested in an account of travel in the newly opened territory. Spelling and punctuation for the most part are reproduced as in the original. The manuscript is a small bound volume of 105 leaves; the writing is heavily shaded in the fashion of the period. Philadelphia, 1860, appears on the title page.
II THE NARRATIVE
EIGHT DAYS IN KANSAS TERRITORY
The morning of the 19th September, 1859, dawned on the little town of Kansas City with a cheerless aspect, the rain which had fallen at intervals throughout the previous day had rendered the unpaved streets nearly impassable. The travel for the last fifteen hundred miles from Philadelphia to this place had been unmarked by any particular event to relieve the monotony and the tedium of a through passage by rail and steamboat,-and I now awaited the gearing up of the team that was to convey me to the interior with that anxiety that a man might be expected to entertain, who is about stepping out into the untried world for the first time; and I must confess that the continuance of my journey in the manner now intended,and over a new country of .entirely different complexion to any yet seen,had that charm for me, which the beautiful and romantic never fails to excite in the breast of any true lover of na-
148 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
ture. Breakfast over, and bills paid "I wait for the waggon" which in a short time makes its appearance at the door of the Hotel,-the baggage is duly stowed away, the Buffalo skins adjusted,-and we are off for the Plains.
Our team one of that class more for service than for show was admirably chosen,-a full size gray horse of the norman stock,-and his mate the black a sample of the perfect roadster,-one in whom a good judge would expect to find great endurance; a real wiry fellow!-the waggon,-one without springs,long, easily set on the wheels,-once of a bright blue colour is fitted with bows for a cover, -and by the arrangement of an old buggy seat jammed in between the additional side boards makes quite a comfortable voiture,-and one in which you might with confidence expect to reach your destination in safety; the driver my only companion is a young lad whose entire experience has been gathered in the neighbourhood of the stable,-and to whom the care of horses appeared to be a position of considerable importance in the world; in fact he thinks for them,-talks to them,-and I verily believe dreams of them;such is my coachman Dominique!-a simple child of nature, with as good a heart as was ever encased in a mortal frame,kind, cheerful and happy.
The road we are now traversing between Kansas City and Westport is in a dreadful state from mud, mostly uphill and through a considerable piece of oak and walnut timber,-the rain has washed the earth away from the huge stones which form the basis of the road, rendering our progress very slow and troublesome.
The heavy clouds which have been for some time gathering overhead, now break upon us in a copious shower of rain,-and we halt at the roadside, under the temporary shelter of the noble trees to arrange and put up our canvas cover, which the hurry of preparation for our departure had prevented us from doing sooner; this done we continue our westward course and pass through the village of Westport on the boundary line of Missouri,-and within two miles of the prairie; in a few minutes we overtake a number of waggons conveying emigrants for the interior, some of the waggons having hopelessly settled in the mud holes on the road; we pass on, and arrive at the Missouri line,-where we meet a large party of Santa Fe traders and their waggons encamped,-and getting ready for their long and tedious overland voyage; here also is the United States mail for Santa Fe, at a halt,-and are about taking down the small tent which they had pitched on the roadside; the conductor
MOFFATT: THE KANSAS PRAIRIE 149
a half Mexican looking individual with a slouched hat,-and a Blue Blanket shawl,-under which a large revolver, and a bowie knife are plainly visible, is keeping guard,-and paying no more attention to the drizzling rain which is steadily descending, than if it was part and parcel of his lot in life!-half a mile further and we are launched on the Grand Rolling Prairie! which under the misty canopy which now covers it,-is like an immense sea of land,-enveloped in fog; the grass on its great wavy surface, sparkling in moisture and resembling the heavy swell of the Ocean after a storm, -while the road from the peculiar nature of the soil, and the rain, looks like an enormous Black Snake! wending its tortuous course over a green velvet carpet.
Onward through the disagreeable and chilling
rain the team holds its course,-at the usual walking pace adopted by all travellers in crossing this territory, the continual up and down of the road, as you descend into a slough at the foot of every hill, and rise again to the summit of the next crest, forbidding a trot,-except at rare intervals where a level surface intervenes for a half mile or so. We now come in sight of an improvement in the shape of a large farm, or ranche, entirely surrounded with a durable stone fence, with a large yard partitioned off in like manner for cattle,-in which I can discern some two hundred head, or more; the other portion of the farm,-entirely covered with Indian corn; but the day is too gloomy to see anything to advantage, and I must notice this excellent farm again, on my return.
For some miles further on,-no sign of habitation is visible; this county (Johnson county) being mostly Indian Reservation, and few Indians having actually settled thereon makes this portion of the road particularly lonesome,-and the weather today renders it more so.
Shortly after passing the ranche we cross Indian Creek,  an insignificant stream of water, near which is a corn patch, and an Indian's but in the midst of it,-and after three or four miles of the same desolate road, I at length discern at the top of a fine crest a small log-cabin,-which Dominique says must be our Hotel for this time. As it is now getting late I make up my mind to give up further travelling for this day, the limited amount of light remaining being insufficient for us to reach the next station; dinner time has passed and gone, long since without a chance of obtaining that wel-
150 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
come meal, the wide expanse of country, over which we have passed, not presenting any other habitation than the one Indian hut; -so that cold, hungry, and with stiffened limbs, we gladly avail ourselves of the humble shelter and fare of this lonely cabin before us,-scramble out of our waggon as best we can, and enter Cook's mansion,-for such we find is the name of our host; the horses are put up for the night, and a hasty meal ordered of our active hostess. The log-cabin is an extremely well ventilated one of the most primitive style,-containing in all, two small rooms, Parlour, Dining room, and Kitchen in one,-and sleeping and store room the other, the entire house is only about eight feet high, and twenty feet long, with a rude chimney of prairie flag-stones on the outside of one gable,-a door on either side, and a small window about two feet square, adjoining the front door, the sleeping room has also a similar window, which completes the outside decoration of this prairie Home, it is not a regular house of entertainment, but being situated at cross roads, and being also the only house for miles, it is always sought by those who need refreshment or rest; the furniture of the interior is much on a par with the house itself, being of the rudest description, two beds, a tin meat safe, and a coffee mill, comprise the movables in the chamber, three old chairs, a cooking stove, two old and common tables, also furnish up the general department, a bucket, a wash basin, two or three pots, and a frying pan, are all the kitchen utensils I have been able to discover, while a few odd. cups and saucers, and some old plates comprise the dinner and tea service; on one of the tables,-a side table there is the paste-board, on which a small bag of flour holds a prominent position, a bowl of fat, and a hair comb are alongside, the skillet is on the stove, and the cook (Mrs. Cook) is about slicing up some cold boiled-beef which is destined for the skillet,-to reappear in the shape of beef steaks, she has also made from the flour and fat, some biscuits as they are called, which are deposited in the oven, and with the kettle now beginning to speak for itself, preparations on a large scale are going forward for the united dinner and supper of the City-man! The house now begins to wear the appearance of a genuine Hotel; as the darkness comes on-and the winds howl,-other benighted travellers make their appearance, and although on our arrival there was but one guest, a real specimen of the Missouri frontier-man, acquainted as I afterwards find, with every creek and every settlement on the Missouri line, or in Kansas territory,-we are soon favoured with two more arrivals from Leavenworth, who with the
MOFFATT: THE KANSAS PRAIRIE 151
usual plea of wearyness and hunger, wish to be allowed to remain over night,-so that our party now numbers five,-who have availed themselves of the friendly shelter of Cook's Prairie Hotel (as I have christened it), to escape from the cold and violent blast which is now sweeping over the prairie with a force and power unknown in any other portion of this continent.
Our combined kitchen, dining-room and parlour presents a strange and busy scene,-huddled together,-as near the fire as possible to avoid the winds whistling through the hundred and one chinks and cracks with which the room is ventilated,-not forgetting the ill fitting frame of the six-light window sash; the busy house wife bustling round in close proximity to the stove, and striving to make out a decent meal by the aid of the aforesaid biscuits,-steaks, coffee, and apple-sauce,-is a scene,-the novelty of which will not be easily forgotten.
At length,-we gather round the welcome board; where with the assistance of a solitary and dimly burning candle, (stuck in a bottle) we attend to the wants of the inner man, who has for some time been asserting his right to consideration; This interesting and satisfactory operation ended,-for "hunger is sweet sauce,"-we gather around the stove, turn up the collars of our overcoats,-to turn off the superfluous atmosphere, and for an hour or so before retiring, are edified by the tales of border broils; and other events in the early settlement of this Kansas territory; its future prospects, incidents of travel, and the usual amount of roadside news. Our two friends from Leavenworth had been cultivating the acquaintance of a friend whom they styled "Tanglefoot,"-better known as bad whiskey; the name is novel to me, though I must own not inappropriate,-seeing that they have much difficulty in walking straight. Our host,-and hostess fill their pipes, immediately after supper, and join in the conversation of the evening, . . . the number of bushels of corn they expect to raise, and such like topics forming the staple of their talk,-which they utter in that drawling, twanging voice acquired by a down-easter when he has become westernized, -for the Cooks are Yankees, who have lived for some time on the Ohio near Pittsburg, and have emigrated from thence to their Kansas home. In looking over my map by the dim light of the candle, I enquired of our hostess the name of the settlement, her farm (or claim as they call it) is located in, she replies,-by asking me, if I notice the name of Elizabethtown, on the map,-which I answered in the affirmative,-she states that I am now on that spot,-and
152 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
that. when the road commissioners were at her house a year ago,they applied themselves to the task of designating the place,-and after selecting various names,-all of which they found on looking over the list of towns and villages in the territory had been already monopolized, she mentioned her own (Elizabeth) and as that was then new in Kansas, it was henceforward set down as Elizabethtown, Johnson county. 
The dishes having been washed up by the good wife, while I am nursing the baby who has been for some time restless, (owing to an attack of chills and fever), she finds time to fix up the beds in the adjoining room,-the apartment of state, and one in an outhouse for our "Tanglefoot" friends, we take our line of march bedward,-I have the best bed offered me and my man, our hosts occupy the other bed,-and the frontier man turns in,-on the floor; -I choose the back part of the couch,-and having divested myself of overcoat, hat, and shoes, and placing my undercoat on the pillow, so as to have the pistol pocket at hand,-I retire to rest in my other clothes, having wrapped my handkerchief around my head, to keep off the excessive ventilation with which the chamber is favoured,-and after sweeping away two or three large spiders near my face,-and commending myself to the protection of my Heavenly Father, with a prayer for those I love,-in the far off regions of the East,-I sink into a profound slumber, as sweet as could be obtained in a Palace! -no frightful dreams marred the repose of that Prairie bed, and I awoke at daylight much refreshed in body and spirits;-and now for breakfast,-and the road again; Breakfast in this section is but a repetition of the same bill of fare as supper, and needs no further description.
Second day on the plains:-Twenty-two miles from Kansas City, cold bracing wind from the north, clear sky,-and sunshine,.-course southwest; make an early start,-the sun just peeping over the hills, the roads nearly dry from the effects of the high winds during the night,-and the weather giving tokens of a fine day;-after an hours drive we come to a fine spring,-and there meet the first living soul this day,-a team is leaving the spring, beside which the male and female occupants of the waggon, have just finished their camp breakfast, the rude fire of sticks among the stones, is still burning, -they have the usual prairie waggon,-with its close canvas cover, and have camped out all night,-as is the universal custom with
MOFFATT: THE KANSAS PRAIRIE 153
the inhabitants of the plains; their team consists of six oxen, and they seem prepared for a long journey. We pass onward and proceed to Spring Hill,  which we reach at ten o'clock,-make no stay here, but forward to Marysville where we intend to dine,-Spring Hill is a very nice little settlement, with three or four superior looking houses for this part of the country, and there are several large patches of splendid corn near them,-the first semblance of comfort I have seen since I came into the territory; we reach Marysville  about noon put up the horses and engage dinner. This place bids fair to make a thriving settlement, situated on a high ridge of land,-overlooking an immense tract of country;-boasts of two little stores,-some cabins and a good weather-boarded house at which we are stopping, and which has been intended for the village or roadside Tavern (though no sign of a bar or liquor is visible), and is surrounded with several fine farms,-its course is evidently upward and onward. While awaiting dinner I notice an Indian and squaw riding past, on a visit to some of their neighbours,-they are drest .off in their best and are mounted on two excellent horses,-their attire is a cross between the Indian garb and the white mans costume, the squaw is touched off with some gaudy red trappings,-but she sits her horse like a Queen!, but the whiskey bottle which is tied up in a red and white handkerchief, tells a tale of Indian ruin; their whole appearance however is highly picturesque and accords well with the scene around.
This portion of the county is also mostly Indian reservation, which accounts for the sparsely settled population,-and will remain so until it is sold back again to the government which will be at no distant date,-Indians at the best making but poor farmers.
After a better dinner than that of yesterday we resume our journey, the day has now become delightful, the clear sky,-the brilliant sunshine, and the bracing air of the Prairie filling the breast with rapture, as the magnificent scenery bursts on the view from the summit of one of the higher crests;-here on every side for miles,as far as the eye can reach is one continuous chain of hills arid valleys,-all green and fertile!-no barren spots, or frowning precipices;-undulating like the swell of the ocean,-and interspersed and laced in every direction with beautiful belts of timber,-the sure sign of some gently winding Creek or River! While around
154 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
you,-every here and there,-large patches of Prairie flowers! usurp the place of the native grass.
Such is the landscape through which we are now taking our after noon ride, a treat worth coming the entire distance from Philadelphia to enjoy!, while ever and anon,-startled by the rumbling of our waggon,-the beautiful Prairie Chicken rises from its covert in the long grass,-like pheasants in an English preserve; and after describing a semi-circle in the air,-disappears again, in its native sphere!-these birds are very curiously formed, and when dead as we see them at market, convey no idea as to their beauty when seen in this part, their handsome spotted plumage,-and fat, round forms, deficient in tail, render them easily recognizable among other birds.
After an hours drive we cross Big Bull creek,  -the most picturesque piece of water on the plain, about the width of the widest part of our Wissahickon,-with lofty trees growing to the water's edge,-and with a gentle serpentine course, it looks charmingly romantic!-while the water at the ford is as clear as crystal,-running over a bed of flag stones,-and now only about two feet deep.
Some ten miles from Bull creek over a road much improved in condition as regards sloughs,-and lonely as the most devoted lover of solitude could desire (not an habitation being visible);-the timber of the Osage River is reached,-it extends in width on either side of the river some half mile, and the track through the woods is of the very worst description, the heavy rains having made great pools of soft mud, in which the wheels sink to the hub,-every minute,-but we are out on the open plain again,-and all is pleasant once more; this river is no wider than Bull creek,-and not quite so picturesque.
The sun is now declining, . . . the evening dews are now beginning to gather. The Prairie Chicken are trotting along the road in front of us, in parties, their custom at eventide,-the Plover are enjoying a walk also,-the grasshoppers are chirping their evening lay,-and all nature lies serene beneath the setting sun!
About a mile from the western bank of the Osage River, we come up with a new house,-not yet entirely finished, the appearance of which from its modern design, invites us to make it our hotel, for the night,-we ask leave to put up with the family,-our request is granted if we will be content with their fare,-our answer of course
MOFFATT: THE KANSAS PRAIRIE 155
is very happy to do so,-the team is installed in the barn, my carpet bag carried into the house and laid on the carpenter's bench, there are three carpenters at work here finishing the interior of the structure, the floor has for a carpet, a goodly coat of shavings about ankle deep,-and altogether the prospect for a comfortable night's lodging,-is anything but encouraging.
The stove in the center of the one large room, which comprises at present the entire lower part of the house, together with the carpenter's bench,-and a lot of lumber,-as also a bedstead in one corner, on which is reclining a very sick old man,-and the only table, now spread with plates,leave not a particle of room for locomotion,-and I therefore take a seat beside my bag on the bench; the women for there are two raw-boned, dark skinned specimens of female loveliness, (one of whom, by the by, the most forbidding looking individual I have met with in many a day)-are preparing supper, and enjoying their pipes!-but to my anxious eye there is nothing particularly attractive; however we are now seated at the table;
Will you take coffee Sir?-if you please,-coffee handed,-such stuff,-but for the cup, you would not know what to call it,-have you any sugar and milk?-we have milk,-but no sugar, take a Biscuit?-if you please,-I take a hot Biscuit, made from black ill looking flour,-seeing no butter, and fearing it is in the same place as the sugar, I do not ask for any; so I proceed to make my supper from the black Biscuit, and the sugarless coffee; will you take some more coffee Sir?-no, I thank you,-I will take a glass of milk; they hand me buttermilk,-which I do not touch,-there are some boiled potatoes of a black, watery complexion,-on the table, as also some bare-bones which they call beef,-I decline them both,-and with a supper little calculated to produce indigestion, I retire to my seat on the carpenter's bench,-to await the time for retiring. I cannot help thinking as I sit in communion with myself, how deceptive is outside appearance. This house from the tasty manner in which it is finished externally, promised to my sanguine nature comfort, and good fare!-but Oh! what a disappointment, the people are filthy,-and the food fit only for a savage!-they may be getting along well in their farming operations, as they have considerable land under cultivation; but Oh, how lost to everything that can make life desirable,--cleanliness, decency, and education; the coarse,-nonsensical conversation which they are indulging in, - proclaims them ignorant in a degree! . . . .
156 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
We are now informed that our bed is ready, when we wish it; and myself and Dominique gladly avail ourselves of the release from the jargon of this circle, and proceed up stairs;-one large room meets our view,-with four beds spread out at intervals on the floor; steady there!-in wending my way to the litter allotted to us, -I come near making a short descent into the kitchen below;as I find the floor is only loose boards laid on the joists, and I grasp the red hot stove pipe which comes up through the floor, in preference to scraping an acquaintance with the stove below.
Now if the theory of well ventilated sleeping apartments is correct,-then this is a remarkable healthy one, for it is minus one sash,-and as the chimney was not yet built, the stove pipe is allowed to pass out through a large hole in the roof,-which serves also to create a thorough draught; there is one thing in the economy of sleeping chambers in this territory calculated to save time, that is the trouble of taking off your clothing at night, and putting it on again in the morning!-in fact the slight cover on each bed, admonishes you that instead of undressing,-your overcoat will be better laid on your shoulders; profiting by last night's experience, -and the look of this garret, -I lie down just as I have been drest all day,-hat,boots,-overcoat and all,-and sleep until three in the morning, when the wind from the hole in the roof awakens me, -and I remain thinking of the future of my journey, till daylight. One feature has attracted my attention in this part, that is the total abscence of Pine-wood;-talk about Black Walnut Furniture on East as being a luxury, why the very house in which I am now domiciled is built of Black Walnut from the ground to the roof; in fact it is all hard wood you meet with in this section,-and I verily believe there is not a stick of Pine-wood growing in the territory.
Third day on the Plains:-Arise this morning shortly after daylight,-and scrawl a few lines before breakfast, Breakfast I said! -well, I'll not cavil about terms,-I'll call it so,--but it does not come up to the standard of the supper!, true we have some white butter, churned alongside the stove, while the kettle is boiling,but then we have no milk!-so the change is not for the better; I shall in future say little more on the score of food,-until some remarkable change for the better takes place,-I dislike this sameness in description,-as much as I do in actual practice, and as meals in general are not objects of primary importance with me,
MOFFATT: THE KANSAS PRAIRIE 157
I should not have devoted so much time in talking about them if I could have given an idea of the domestic habits of the settlers in this country in any other way. However here comes the team, all right!-we are on the road again; the same fine weather,-sun rising over the plain in magnificent style,-with a prospect of a very warm day; after a short ride we fall in with an encampment, some of whom are crawling out of their beds in the waggons, while others are seated before some burning logs, preparing break fast,-and close by a fine spring, they are evidently going far into the interior and are from one of the western states, it is a romantic sight to one unaccustomed to such scenes, but is a regular system of life on the plains; in fact few of the persons crossing the country ever think of staying at a house; they have their household furniture and utensils with them,-as also their stores,-and they in variably select some spring,-or creek, to locate their camp. In about two hours . . . we ford the Pottowattomie creek; Two miles south of Stanton,  --and proceed to Greely, --during this morning, and at times yesterday I have had occasion to consult my map and compass frequently, the many roads running into the one we are on,-at divers points, rendering it difficult at times to fix upon the right course, but the compass always settled the matter; we knew where we had to go by the map,-and the unerring magnet pointed the way!-
The scenery to day is growing richer,-and richer, the Prairie is more undulating than ever,-and is what may be called a wooded Prairie, that is, there are small belts of woodland at every three or four miles distance independent of that on either sides of the creeks,-and then again,-to add fresh beauty to the scene,-every now and then we come in sight of one or more of those beautiful natural mounds for which this part of Anderson county is remarkable.
These Mounds are very large, and high,-a half mile or so in length, and fashioned in the most artistic manner,-and when by some turn of the road we come in sight of five or six of these lovely creations,-as is now the case,description utterly fails.
158 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
We are now nearing Canton  which is visible on a high crest before us, there is a fine weather-boarded house of dazzling whiteness, near by are several smaller tenements, one of which has a tall Hickory pole beside it,-the unmistakable sign of the country store,- and the large white house must be the storekeeper's dwelling,-we shall look for dinner there. My poor Dominique has been in a dreadful way all this forenoon; after watering the horses at the creek, the white horse who is an awful glutton, having through the night devoured a quantity of new corn,-and not being used to it, took to swelling, to such a degree, that the faithful driver would frequently stop the waggon and exclaim,-he will die!-I know he will,-look how he is swelling!-he cannot stand it,-and I shall loose him!-I know I shall!-in vain I tried to sooth his fears; we had endeavoured to procure old corn on the way,-but to no purpose; -I now bid him be of good cheer, as we were approaching the finest settlement I have yet met with and felt certain that we should find the great desideratum in Canton,-old corn!
Arrived there we make for the store,-as everybody else does who enters a village,-for the store is also the Postoffice; Mr. Tyler the gentlemanly proprietor will be taking dinner, in half an hour,-and will be pleased to accommodate us,-he is happy to say also,-that he is the only man in Anderson county who has old corn,-which we can have for one dollar per bushel, (price of new corn about thirty cents),-a bargain is struck for three bushels,-and the horses receive their first instalment; Oh! what a radiance there is on Dominique's visage!-Canton bathing in the sunbeams looks no brighter! Here I find in addition to the store of our host, a carpenter's and blacksmith's shop, while the large white house of the storekeeper, his ample barns and stable, and farm,-convey an impression of comfort and decency that I have not witnessed since leaving Westport.
At the table I am introduced to Mrs. Tyler who has been busy fixing up the dinner; -I find her of a different class altogether from any of the females so far,-having been accustomed to live like a Christian in her native (New York) state, she has endeavoured as far as may be to keep up to the mark in Kansas, but it is a hard task; the chills and fever, that curse of this western paradise,
MOFFATT: THE KANSAS PRAIRIE 159
have made sad havoc with her,-and she sighs for her Northern home!
After leaving Canton and pursuing our route, now nearly south; -in a short time we pass through Garnet, and Shannon9 which joins it,-leaving Ossawattomie  some two miles to the south east; Garnet is the largest village in this county;-and boasts a steam saw-mill, several small stores,carpenters and blacksmiths shops,--several dwellings, and withal is a thriving place,-a Prairie town situated in a valley; houses are going up in all directions,-and its success appears certain.
A little further on we cross the south fork of Pottowattomie Creek, an inconsiderable stream, being only a branch from the main trunk. At Canton we were advised to make for the house of Tyler (No. 2) no relation to our Canton friend and about twelve miles distant, towards sunset we arrive at the house mentioned, and congratulate ourselves on the appearance of the place,-although our last nights experience should have forbid us trusting again to outside show.
I alight and make enquiry; but alas!-our anticipations meet with a severe check, when we are informed that they cannot ac commodate us,-as Mr. Tyler has just died; "-here is a dilemma,- of slight consequence perhaps in a town, or in a thickly settled country, but here on the open Prairie!-the sun just going down,- and no other house for fourteen miles!-several sloughs to be passed, -also a creek (Deer Creek),-no moon!-the darkness so great that we can scarcely see the road,-and that only by occasionally getting out,-and reconnoitering!-however the horses eyesight is stronger than ours, and by dint of perseverance we thread our way through that most difficult part in a dark night, the timber, skirting a creek; arrive at the bank of the stream,-we examine the steep and crooked road as best we can, plunge forward into the ford; and mount the opposite bank!-the whole proceeding very much like a leap in the dark!-through the timber on the south bank with some trouble; then out on the plain once more and all is safe!
160 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
After calculating from the time we have been out in this "Night on the Prairie,"-that we could not be far from the house, we are gladdened by a flash of light, like a falling star, in the dark canopy of Heaven! -see there!-it flashes again!-it is the house!-but how distant; and so high!-it is far away yet,-and we are rising some very steep ground,-ah!-we are on the Ozark Mountain!  -and it is surely the house!-Flash, flash, again, the inmates are moving about with the light,-and it is right on our course, the horses too have seen it!-and although they have drawn their heavy load for forty miles to day,-they prick up their ears,-and self-impelled, trot through the darkness; nearer, still nearer-is the light,-and now smaller lights appear,-we are approaching the settlement of Elizabethtown, Allen county.  The open door of a house, through which our beacon light, has been sending its cheering ray far out into the darkness to guide us to a home is now before us, they are cooking a late supper,-and we are just in time. After our meal,-in casual conversation with Mr. Stubblefield our host; -I state that I am going onward to Humboldt, on business with Genl. McKee the surveyor; -I am well acquainted with McKee answers my host, and with all his party,-there was a fine young man from the East,-who died at the Camp about a month ago,-I was at his funeral,-and this young man Mr. Martin who boards with me attended him in his sickness at Mr. Flinn's house; and also helped to bury him!-did you know his name I enquired?-0 yes, very well,-everybody knew George!-and loved him too! Well then my dear Sir,-the calamity as I at first considered it,-in having to come on from Tyler's through the night,-has been the best thing for me after all,-in thus placing me among friends,-and facilitating my operations; for there, in that waggon, is the leaden coffin in which I must bear his remains to his sorrowing parents. These friends inform me that he is buried only three miles from here!-that the house where he died,-is also three miles,-in another direction,-that the Doctor,-and the minister who attended him live nearby,-and Mr. Martin promises that on the morrow he will go with me, to the Grave,-to Mr. Flinn's,-and to the camp of Genl. McKee at Humboldt, which kind offer I gladly accept. Here was good fortune awaiting me,-when and where I least expected
MOFFATT: THE KANSAS PRAIRIE 161
it!-and I shall retire to rest this night in a comfortable frame house, -with the conviction in my heart,-that "Whatever is; is best"
Fourth day on the plains--
Up and about shortly after daylight; amuse myself writing these few remarks till breakfast; that over; prepare for the road,-our new friend Mr. Martin in company as pilot and so forth; strike across the Prairie without reference to road, Indian fashion, our aim Mr. Flinn's,-arrive there about eight o'clock; find them a very worthy old couple,-their home small,-but very neat and clean, the family consists of five children; two of them men grown; here again chills and fever is at work,-and they have buried a son,-a fine lad,-about two weeks since,-who died only a few days after George's funeral; and of the same disease Typhoid fever; the mother is much cast down; they are all glad to see me; and speak of George in the highest terms; he had found true friends in that humble,-but worthy family, who had ministered to his wants with a care and attention only equalled by a parents unremitting watch fulness,-and undying love. After spending an hour with these deserving people,-we strike out over the plain for Iola,-on the road to which place we shall visit the Grave, the weather still continues delightful; about ten o'clock we pull up alongside a small low log cabin, encircled by a worm fence; heaps of logs and brushwood are lying about in every direction; -a small patch of corn extends from the rear of the cabin to the timber of Deer Creek,  -the cabin is very small,-but firmly built and close,-with two window frames about two feet square, the whole building being about the size of a moderate room; the noise of our waggon brought the "Monarch of a Shed" to the threshold, I am introduced by my friend Martin to Dr. Laeder, of Deer Creek, Allen Co., Kansas; this gentleman, (for he is a gentleman,-not withstanding his unshaven beard, his blue blanket coat, and his general hoosier like appearance) attended George in his short sickness and I feel certain did all that human skill could; the indications of a good and generous heart which shone out full in his honest manly face, giving a full warranty that he did his duty.
162 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
After bidding the doctor good day we pass on to the south west, and in a few minutes my attention is arrested by a small clump of elegant trees standing alone, and forming the extreme point of a belt of timber, which adorns the plain at this spot. At the foot of these five trees little square plots are fenced in with rails,-raised about five or six feet in height; little mounds of fresh earth may be seen inside of each inclosure,-and to the Eastward of these and opposite to one of the finest of the Trees,-and disconnected from the rest,- there is one lone Grave!-the fence is like the others,-the Earth too is fresh,-but there is a rude headstone standing in this en closure (and the only one upon the ground),-it bears the name of George ! With a feeling that such a scene as this is calculated to inspire,-I linger around this beautiful spot for some minutes, admiring the charming site which the inhabitants of Deer Creek have selected as a repository for their Hearts treasures! and then, with the said reflection, that on the morrow I must disturb the quiet repose of this Hallowed soil, I push forward for Iola,15-at which place we arrive for dinner. This little town which has sprung up within six months has now several neat frame houses,-ranged in perfect lines,-and carpenters are busy putting up others, there are two square buildings, each about sixteen feet in diameter, on opposite sides of the main street (that is to be) and dignified by a sign over the threshold "Store,"-one of these owned by the person at whose house we dine, is also the Post office,-the merchandise in this establishment might fill a waggon,-and comprises a small lot of groceries and some common dry goods, chiefly cotton fabrics; -the opposition store appeared pretty well used up,-for I could discern no other articles of commerce than six bags of coarse salt, half a barrel of the vilest whiskey,-six boxes of sardines, and a chunk of tobacco! Dinner dispatched we are again en route for Cofachicque and Humboldt, and are now crossing Rock Creek, on the south side of Iola; after descending the south side of the Ozark Mountain, immediately on leaving Elizabethtown,-we strike a level line of country, which has continued on ever since, and I am told by our friend Martin extends to Humboldt, and although more desirable for farming purposes,-looses considerable of the interest felt by the traveller in the more picturesque portions of the country.
MOFFATT: THE KANSAS PRAIRIE 163
After a drive of three miles, we are at Cofachique,  -a village, much older than extensive; there is but one house visible here, it is a large size frame building of a dingy brown colour,-and is as usual the store and Post office of the settlement; this house is not far from the timber of the Neosho River,-which lies on the western side of the road.
On our way from Cofachique to Humboldt a distance of six miles; -we have the rare pleasure of witnessing that sublime, and grand spectacle,
The Prairie on Fire!
Immediately on leaving Cofachique we are met by clouds of smoke,-which betoken an extensive fire in front of us, the wind is blowing from the south, and right in our faces, in a few minutes the clouds, of smoke become more dense, and roll closer, and closer to the ground, the roaring and crackling sound of the fire, may be distinguished; there is no escape!-but we are relieved from fear of actual danger from the fact that we are on the road-and the grass is all worn off the track,-so that there is nothing inflammable under the horses feet, the smoke now becomes suffocating like that from burning straw,-the warmth may be plainly felt, though no fire can be seen through the heavy rolling cloud of smoke which is wafted past us,-louder and plainer is heard the roaring and crack ling element!-the smoke is lifted from the Earth by the wind, and we behold the entire Prairie on fire from East to West,-in a line of more than a mile in width!-the flaming tide is now upon us!-we force the horses into a brisk trot,-and amidst a shower of cinders flying past us; and with our hands carefully covering our eyes, we pass through the scorching blaze,-in safety!
The danger over, we turn round to admire this great destroyer of the Prairie!-this devastating tide, which spares nothing within its reach! . . . The Prairie a few minutes before, so green, fertile, and velvetry in appearance,-is now a charred and blackened des-
164 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
ert; not a vestige of what it was,-is left to tell of its once lovely crests and slopes!-the Prairie flowers . . . are now no more!all is black! desolate, and dreary!-and must remain so, until the balmy breath of Spring!-and the warm rains again call forth . . . . the green blade, and the gay flowers . . .
We are now at Humboldt,  the Capital of Allen County, and about one hundred and thirty miles by the windings of our road from Kansas City; it is situated near the banks of the Neosho River, on a level plain, and overlooks towards the south, a consider able tract of country of a more undulating character than that over which we have passed for the last fourteen miles; it is decidedly the most stylish town of any on the route, with streets properly laid out, stores built in City Style,-and boasts a church!-and a creditable looking Court-house,-there are also two excellent steam saw mills on the Neosho,-at one of which, that of Mr. Thurston, I find Genl. McKee,  a fine looking gentleman, now suffering from chills and fever,-that old and constant scourge.-my business finished with the Genl., he introduces me to Mr. Mitchell, and the other gentlemen of the surveyors camp, now pitched on the Neosho, -near the mills.
They have just closed the labours of the day, the ox team has come in, and the oxen turned loose to graze, the compass man is returning with that invaluable instrument on his shoulder;-on an old bench, one is mixing up some of the everlasting Biscuit, while slices of salt pork are in the skillet ready for the fire!-another is washing out the underclothing,-samples of his work are hanging on lines between the trees,-and every thing looks romantic!-but stay!-we enter the Tent,-and there,-stretched on the ground, with a blanket and an India Rubber sheet beneath them,-are two robust framed men of some thirty years, lying as helpless as infants, -from chills!-a fate the whole party with the exception of one member, have equally shared;-pale,-haggard, and careworn, they look the picture of distress.
Sickness is not confined to the Human family, alone, in this section,-the cows are dying daily from what is here called the Spanish
MOFFATT: THE KANSAS PRAIRIE 165
fever,-said to have been contracted by the native cows, from a drove of Texas cattle that lately passed through Humboldt; the inhabitants are consequently deprived of milk. After taking leave of the Genl. and his camp, with a promise from him that he would be up at the grave, before noon tomorrow,-if he could possibly ride there; we turned again toward the north star! and commence the first stage on the way home,-but there is much to be done yet e'er I can say now for Home!-We return to Iola in time for supper; one of the surveying party, a young man from Norfolk, Virginia, is boarding at this house, for the recovery of his health,-having been laid up for more than a month; he was taken sick a few days before George, they had been running the compass together,-and were wading up to their breasts in Deer Creek, for about an hour;-the stagnant water brought on the sickness,-fatal to one,-and nearly so to the young man before me; there he was,-pale, emaciated,-without energy,-carr[y]ing about with him a bottle of mixture for the chills,-as hot as fire, and as bitter as gall! poor youth!-he had left his mother in Virginia,to sow his wild oats in Kansas!-and was reaping his crop!-poor fellow,-I tendered him a free passage in the waggon to Kansas City,-if he could get home from there,-but he could not make his arrangements.
Well this day has come at last!-the looked for day!-I rise early and breakfast,-Mr. Martin, myself and Dominique are soon on the road to Mr. Flinn's distant about ten miles,-where we had left the coffin and case yesterday; we get that in the waggon again,-but my hopes begin to sink when I discover no inclination on the part of any of the persons present to assist in the undertaking; am I to be defeated in my project,-and at the moment of seeming success?it must not be! I insinuate in the course of conversation, that I intend doing the Lion's share of the work myself, and that if any of my friends can spare time to assist, money will be no object! This is the Talisman!-when will it cease to be!-I now gradually obtain assurance of assistance from the party,-and soon the Flinns, -father and the two grown sons are in their saddles,-armed with spades and axes.-I take leave of the good lady, thanking her over, and over again, for her motherly kindness, and with a parting memento, I leave this comfortable cabin and turn our team towards the Prairie Grave! On our way we call again on our friend the doctor who is desirous of going to the ground as a looker on,-and by the time we arrive in
166 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
sight of the little clump of trees that mark the spot,-we find one or two horsemen already there,-attracted by the novelty of the affair,-which has already spread through the settlement; the sun is now near meridian, and we are now taking down the rails; the horses are driven under the shade of the trees,-the strangers have tied their horses,-and are reclining on the grass,-we have taken the case out of the waggon, and are waiting a few minutes in the hope of being joined by the Genl.-he comes not,-and we commence our work; -I strip off every article of superfluous clothing,- the case is near the grave,-my carpet bag is open, and the necessary tools laid out,-one has already cut up a quantity of the rails to make a fire for the soldering bolt,-and to melt the cement for the case,-another is cutting away the grass around the spot where the fire is to be kindled,-to prevent another conflagration of the Prairie; two of the young men are digging open the grave, while I am busy opening the case previous to cementing its joints,-now the massive leaden coffin is laid near the excavation on the wind ward side; -I have finished the cement, and am now scraping the joint around the coffin lid, preparatory to soldering the same,-the smoke of our fire ascends and travels over the plain,-and the visitors look on in astonishment and silence . . . .
We accomplished our work in about three hours, the outer case now rendered air tight,-is placed in the waggon, the scattered implements are gathered up, the grave filled in again and smoothed over, and each one of the party,-after an affectionate farewell, turns homeward,-the Prairie resumes its accustomed Silence!-and our team is on its way to our old friend Stubblefield's at Elizabeth town where we shall pass the night.-5 o'clock, we have finished our journey for the day, and are awaiting dinner; -I feel much fatigued, partly with anxiety, as also the incessant labour of the last few hours,-dinner over I sit at the door looking out at the wide expanse of country to the south,-but the heart will turn its affections homeward, as the magnet to the pole!-my thoughts are centered there that word is uppermost.
Sixth day on the plains,-
The task is finished!-Breakfast over, and an early start,-Ho!--for our own loved Philadelphia!-To where the sun is rising in his majesty-gilding the tops of the timber,-as with burnished gold!we direct our course; here,-on the summit of the Ozark Mountain! -looking over miles of receding hills, woodlands and valleys;
MOFFATT: THE KANSAS PRAIRIE 167
we commence our homeward march. I long to get over the sixteen hundred miles which separate me from my loved ones, and for the next three days shall vote this team traveling a slow coach; but patience, patience!-the steamer and the dashing cars will soon convey me there once more . . . . I resign myself to the three days snails pace on the plains; the whole country is more than beautiful,-but I have no interest in it!-and there is no health here!-I have not visited a single house in which sickness is not,. or was not,-chills and fever,-chills and fever is the Universal Cry! -and the doctors make the best of it; ague pills and mixtures out sell everything else,-and are a sure card in the storekeepers hands. There is no doubt, however, that a great portion of the sickness in this Territory is brought about by incautious exposure,-the want of proper habitations,-and by the general practice of locating farms on the borders of the Creeks,-in order to secure a portion of Timber land, but then again the chills are also felt on the highest points of the Prairie, though not so generally as on the Creeks; the conclusion therefore we must arrive at is this; that the primary cause of all this disease is owing to the immense amount of vegetable matter constantly decomposing. And again there is another striking peculiarity about this country; during the latter part of summer, and the Autumn, the winds are from the south,-and those located on the south side of the creeks are comparatively healthy; while others on the north side, receive all the malaria arising from the stagnant water, wafted upon them by the southern breeze,-and are consequently more frequently sick;-there is no doubt however that as the country becomes more settled and cultivation takes the place of rank vegetation,-most of these evils will be abated, and the territory will then perhaps as an agricultural region of vast extent,-be unequalled on the continent;-almost everything usual on a farm may be grown to perfection and in immense quantities; and as to Beauty,-there is none to compare with it!
We have retraced to day about forty miles of our outward trip, and have now halted for the night on the northern side of Pottowattomie Creek; As I repassed those wonderful mounds near Greely, I could not but take one long, lingering gaze . . . and turned away reluctantly from the most lovely landscape my eyes ever beheld; or expect again to see . . . . About noon we dined with our old friend Tyler at Canton, and obtained a further supply of Dominique's coveted old corn. On our way to this creek we fall in with a large family making their entre into the interior; as they descend a gentle slope we notice three teams of six oxen each, the
168 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
large covered waggons are filled with every article necessary to furnish their new home; before,-alongside,-and in rear of the teams, -are Horses,Cows, and Calves; in one of the waggons are the good old mother and her cheerful daughters,-in another the boys are frolicking,-while in front,-the weather- beaten, gray haired old sire, mounted on the strongest horse, is leading the van!-care on his brow, and anxiety in his eye, seeking an independent home for his offspring,-a Grave!-for himself and the partner of his youth! -indeed I could not help picturing to my mind the numerous hardships this little community must endure e'er they can call themselves settled in their new Home in Kansas Territory.
The house at which we are now staying is the largest we have met with since leaving Westport; it is two stories in height, with a superfluity of windows, and is a strong frame tenement; there is a large farm attached to it,-and the first garden we have met in the territory;-the family are in comfortable circumstances,-have only resided here a year or two, and are from Indiana; their name is Butler; Our host has passed the meridian of life and is suffering from the everlasting chills; his wife (a second wife) is a very pretty and respectable person,-and their habits are those of well to do farmers who have been raised in good Society.
I feel more at home here than I have done since I came on the plains. They are preparing supper in a large and cleanly kitchen while our host is shooting some chickens for the morning's breakfast.
The first table for a week where decency and decorum has presided;-the board well provided with everything that can be desired in a farm house,coffee, milk, sugar, good Biscuits, and preserves, with cleanliness for a relish!-I need not say I enjoyed myself; Happy indeed for Kansas the day,when she can count such homes as this is by the thousand.
In conversation with Butler who by the way is a very intelligent man,-he informs me that although accustomed to large crops of corn &c in Indiana, his last year's crop surprised him,-it was beyond his most sanguine expectations.
Seventh day on the plains:----
Early breakfast off the aforesaid chickens, and we are on our way again,sky clear with the prospect of a hot day, must make Cook's tonight.-This place was the scene of a terrible massacre in the early settlement of Kansas,-here was the residence of the Doyle
MOFFATT: THE KANSAS PRAIRIE 169
family, --this house is situated in the extreme northwest corner of Lykens County which our road intersects.  . . .
The drive through the timber of the Osage, this early in the morning is particularly pleasant; the varied hues of the foliage,-from the delicate green, the orange tinge,-to the glowing carmine which adorns the smaller brushwood,-is beyond the painters art to depict,-or the pen to describe!and I cannot resist the temptation of cutting a cane from one of the small sapling oaks, here growing in profusion,-as a memento of this charming spot!
On our way to Marysville I am amused by a practical demonstration of the wonderful intelligence of that valuable animal the shepherd dog!-on the gently rolling land over which we are passing there are a number of oxen grazing,-a man on horseback is instructing the dog to collect such of them as belong to his master, which feat he proceeds to accomplish with wonderful precision; singling out from the number only those desired, gathering them into groups and as each one is brought to a certain point,the quick eye of the dog is directed to his master for approval, and for further orders; and when all are collected, a wave of the master's hand,and the dog is marching them in the direction indicated for the village,-ever watchful that none of the drove stray away from the main party,-and continually turning his intelligent eye on his master,--to read his wishes; thus the apparently difficult task is accomplished with precision and diligence,-without one particle of trouble on the part of the owner,-who never leaves his seat in the saddle.
We are again at Marysville,-for our Sunday's dinner,-and the team rests for an hour.
This settlement as I remarked previously is on high ground overlooking a large extent of country,-and the settlers experience great difficulty in getting water, the person with whom we are stopping, has already sunk two wells, without the desired result and is now sinking a third one very deep; at present he has to haul water from a well, nearly a quarter of a mile distant from his house, water is not plentiful on any part of the Prairie, and often very scarce on the higher localities,-which will be found a great inconvenience and drawback as the country becomes more thickly settled, the scarcity of water, and the total absence of pine wood, together with the
170 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
scantness of fuel, will operate disastrously on the future prospects of Kansas.
After a short rest we resume our course; the day for this season is intensely hot; towards evening we recross the beautiful stream of water which is threading its way over the plain like a vein of liquid silver and known as Bull Creek -the gem of the Prairie! The air is now becoming sultry and oppressive in the extreme,-the sky is undergoing a marked change,-fitful puffs of a cooling breeze are wafted over the Prairie,-and there are unmistakeable signs of a severe storm abroad; we quicken our pace somewhat to recross Blue River  before dusk, and just succeed in so doing; two miles yet to Cook's; the sun has gone down some time since, setting with a fearful glare! . . . the lightning is now visible around the horizon, and the distant thunder is heard with a dull roll; near a spring we pass a small party camping for the night,-they are at supper round a small fire, apparently at ease,-and perfectly unconcerned about the weather.-One mile more,-Cook's house visible in every flash!-but what strange sight is this?-through the darkness, each flash reveals to us a number of covered waggons,-the house is literally surrounded by them,-and see there are tents pitched on the ground!-it is a large train of emigrants for the interior,-the waggons are arranged in a circle, with their fronts to the center; their fires are burning brightly, they are cooking; their cattle are grazing near the tents, in great numbers,-and they are placing old quilts and other rags over the canvas covers, to ward off the heavy rain which has now commenced,but we are at the House!
This is a large party of emigrants,-they have made all their preparations for the dreadful night before them,-they have evidently travelled a long distance and are used to this mode of life,moving around quite contented and happy,-and look like wandering Arabs!
The rain is descending in torrents, the thunder rolling in fearful peals, the lightning for rapidity and grandeur exceeding any I ever beheld; it is not the sheet lightning,-nor the forked or zigzag, such as I have been accustomed to see; it is as though an immense ball of molten Silver burst in the high heavens,-scattering its contents in every direction, and in the most fantastic windings,
170 MOFFATT: THE KANSAS PRAIRIE
like nothing I can name but one of those splendid rockets, which exploding high in air,-discharge a hundred fiery serpents to wriggle out their brief existence for the gratification of sight seers on the Glorious Fourth!
The storm has now lasted for several hours, the thunder roaring louder and louder, and the lightning becoming more frightful, while the heavy gusts of wind, sweeping over the Prairie, threaten the removal of our shanty every moment!-I can only add that to behold a thunder storm in perfection you must come to the Prairie! We have for fellow lodgers, a middle aged man and woman belonging to the train,-with their sick child; they are a hard featured,-weather-beaten couple,-with skins as dark as Arabs,-and as withered and dry as parchment!-in conversation they inform me that they are enroute for the Verdigris River,-which is beyond the Neosho some twenty miles; they have some friends there,-but the man says if he does not like the appearance of the country when he gets there,-he will travel further on!-such is Western life!-Onward!-Onward!-Westward Ho!
Eighth day on the plains;----
Early start,--Storm all over,-and the sky serene again,-On the road for the last time,-eighteen miles more and we will be at Westport Missouri,-and off the plains!-and four miles further Kansas City will finish our waggon voyage.
The roads are somewhat muddy but not sufficiently so to make them heavy; recross Indian Creek, the last stream on our road; day becoming delightful,-the grass looking all the better for the thunder storm,-and the Prairie-flowers of a deeper and richer hue, are waving their graceful heads in the gentle breeze.
We are now in sight of the Stone fenced Ranche, the plains round about it are moderately sloping, and are admirably adapted for grazing; all the cattle we noticed in the enclosure, on our out ward trip are now scattered over the prairie and what a sight! they are; their sleek spotted hides, and fat round limbs, would furnish a grand subject for the pencil of a Bonheur, as seen on their native lawns.
This is really a model farm of large extent,-the well-built wall of flag stone (set up without mortar and with as much regularity as a brick wall) which surrounds the entire farm, will endure for ages; and the crop of tall corn which is peeping over the fence is remark ably heavy; this farm may be taken as a sample of what Kansas
172 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
will present as the country fills up,-and men of means emigrate there and devote themselves to stock-raising,-for which the country is admirably adapted.-the grazing is excellent on the prairies from April to November,and the native grass, when made into hay,with the corn fodder affords excellent forage for the winter months; -in a word their keep costs next to nothing,-with the exception of the fattening off.
The habit of smoking is here supreme male and female addicting themselves to it alike, in nearly every house I have visited the women smoked, indeed I have watched them making the biscuits and frying the meat, at the same time filling up a dirty smoke blackened pipe,-lighting it,-pushing down the coarse tobacco with their fingers,-and then sucking away at the short stem with all their might, while their clothing appeared to have had no connexion with the wash tub for at least two weeks; there is only one excuse I can make for these men and women, the prevalence of the chills among them makes them careless as to everything about personal appearance,-and the effect of the complaint on the system is to deprive them of energy and ambition, and causes them to consider everything they have to do, a trouble.-Daylight dawns, and the grass (some two or three feet high) is so wet that it is unfit to go through except on horseback, then the cattle have to be hunted up,-work about the farm is carried on in a slow,-slovenly way;-dinner time comes,-again work is resumed till the sun begins to set,-and then the darkness and the chilling dews of evening drive every body to their dwellings and their beds,-and thus at present proceeds the monotonous life of a Prairie farm!-no churches! no schools!-no social circle!-no enlivening and instructive conversation!-no friendly visitings!-the damp air and the distance from other habitations forbid that pleasure.-Kansas lovely in Nature! in the interior must long continue a place of Self exile!
We are now nearing the Missouri line, the heavy timber forming a natural barrier to the plain, in a straight line from North to South,-we enter the splendid woodlands and take our last gaze at Kansas and her verdant lawns!-through the straggling outskirts and extensive orchards we re-enter Westport and make for its excellent Hotel; gazing on the beauties of nature in their pristine purity is delightful food for the mind!-but in a charming little town, and at the door of a comfortable house of entertainment I must be pardoned when I say that for the moment the animal propensity prevailed over the romantic! and I went through the neces-
MOFFATT: THE KANSAS PRAIRIE 173
sary ablution to fit me for the dining room with alacrity.-Dinner was just over when I made my appearance, but towards the head of the table was gathered an abundance of good things, to which my man Dominique and myself had for a week been strangers,-and we sat down with a feeling of evident satisfaction,-the good old sable daughter of Africa, the major-domo of the Establishment being our attendant; after all the courses usual at Hotel dinners, we came to the pastry (which I never saw excelled not even at the St. Nicholas!),-we pay our respects to the dainties, thoughts of the leaden biscuits of the Osage!-occasionally intruding themselves,-and after satisfying ourselves that we had in nowise slighted the good dames preparations and were thinking of retiring,-the good old lady would insist on us making a fresh attack on the preserves and cake,-alledging dat as Massa hab to pay for wot he eat,-dar was no use of leabin de table, hungry! so we had to patronize the preserves and cake, and top off with a glass of milk to please her, as she allowed dat when Massa was at de Hotel he should make hisself at home!
After strolling along the main street a few minutes while Dominique is looking after the horses,-we resume our seats and are off for Kansas City.
Westport is indeed a very neat little village having a large Hotel, two or three churches, several good stores,-and is well laid out,and derives great support from the Santa Fe merchants who purchase nearly all their waggons here;-one wheelwright informs me that there were nearly eight hundred waggons sold in the village this season,-as this is the starting point of the Santa Fe traders; the trade holds good from April to September.
On the road from Westport to Kansas City,-which is beautiful in dry weather, I notice many very fine residences surrounded by handsome grounds, and as we proceed we are met by a long train of Santa Fe traders who have been to Kansas City for their goods; and are now outward bound,-the drivers are rather a hard looking set of fellows; and the long Bowie Knives dangling from their girdles do not add anything to their beauty.
We are now overtaken by a party of Indians mounted on fine wiry ponies,-who are coming in from the plains, they pass on in their usual sullen mood; They are drest out in a fanciful manner, and each one has his Rifle slung over his shoulder, and is otherwise decorated with ornaments.
174 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
The road is now one scene of animation and bustle,-heavily loaded Ox teams are leaving for the interior,-neighbouring settlers are passing home with supplies,-residents taking their afternoon drive,-Farmers and their wives on horseback are carrying home some light articles of dry-goods or clothing,-and all is Life!-The houses touch one another,-Stores may be counted by the dozen,- carpenters are busy in all directions, the Farriers are busy at work shoeing the horses of the traders,-the road is filled with all classes of vehicles, meat shops, and Lager-beer Saloons meet you on either side,-a party of Germans are dancing on the green to the music of an Excellent Band!-in short,-I am in the World again!-and in Kansas City!>
1. Indian creek rises in Olathe township, Johnson county, and flows in a northeasterly direction joining Tomahawk creek in Oxford township about a mile west of the state line.
2. Elizabethtown, Johnson county, was situated four miles southeast of present Olathe. Now an extinct location. Shown on Robert L. Ream's Sectional Map of the Territory of Kansas, 1858.
3. Spring Hill, situated in the township of the same name Johnson county, was surveyed in 1867 and the first building was erected in the same year. It is ten miles south of Olathe, on the southern boundary line of the county.
4. Marysville, or St. Marysville as it was also known, was about seven miles north of present Paola, Miami county. In 1881 the name was changed to Lyons. It is now an extinct town.
5. Big Bull creek rises near the southern boundary of Johnson county and flows south, joining the Marais des Cygnes about four miles south of Paola, Miami county.
6. Stanton is in Stanton township, Miami county, about one half mile from the western boundary of the county.
7. Greeley townsite, Anderson county, was selected in the spring of 1858 and was surveyed in April, 1857. In as much as the territorial administration was unfriendly to Horace Greeley for whom the town was named, the post office established at that point was called walker, as was also the township, in honor of Gov. Robert J. Walker.
8. "The town of Canton was located and laid out in 1857, by B. Tyler, on S. 23, T. 20, R. 20. It was laid out as a rival to Garnett. Some improvements were made on its site in 1858-1859; but, when the question of the county seat was settled in favor of Garnett, Canton was soon abandoned and left to the roaming herds, but has since been reduced to fine farms by the husbandman. Such was the fate of the once noted rendezvous of intemperance and wickedness."-W. A. Johnson, History of Anderson County (Garnett, 1877), p 258 Canton is shown on Robert L. Reams Sectional Map of the Territory of Kansas, 1858. The U. S. Official Register, 1881, lists Brockholst Tyler as postmaster at Canton.
9. Garnett is the county seat and largest town in Anderson county. The townsite was selected in 1856 and by March, 1857, had been surveyed and platted. Early settlers included a colony from Kentucky. Shannon, also laid out in 1867, a mile south of Garnett, was the county seat until its removal to Garnett in 1859. Shannon was named in honor of Wilson Shannon second governor of Kansas territory. The town was abandoned soon after the removal of the county seat.
10. This, obviously, is an error. The author undoubtedly revised the record of his trip through Kansas territory after his return to Philadelphia and it may be assumed that in this instance his notes were incorrect or that he misinterpreted them. The south fork of Pottawatomie creek ran about two miles to the south and east of Shannon and it is possible that he intended to note this fact.
11. W. A. Johnson, op. cit., states that Patrick Tyler was the first white settler in Monroe township, Anderson county, arriving in the spring of 1855. He also notes a Patrick Tyler as s settler in Washington township in the summer of 1856. The "U. S. Census of 1860" records the death of Patrick Tyler of Anderson county in August, 1859.
12. An elevation of land running across Ozark township, Anderson county, is known as Ozark ridge. It divides the waters of the Arkansas and Missouri rivers.13. Elizabethtown was on S. 16, T. 23 R. 19 in Anderson county. The fact that it was within a mile of the northern boundary of Allen county accounts for the authors error. The town was located and laid out in 1859 and soon thereafter a small store was opened by W. Stubblefield & Co. Elizabethtown is listed in Polk's Kansas Gazetteer as late as 1888-1889.
14. Deer creek flows from the northeast across Deer Creek and Carlyle townships, Allen county, emptying into the Neosho river at the northern boundary of Iola township. Settlers located near the mouth of the stream as early as the spring of 1856.
15. Iola, present county seat of Allen county, was founded in 1859 by a group of settlers who were dissatisfied with the location of the county seat at Humboldt, The removal to Iola was not accomplished until 1886.
16. The town of Cofachique, Allen county, was founded in 1855 by a group of Proslavery men from Fort Scott. It was laid out on the east bank of the Neosho river about one and one half miles southwest of present Iola and the town association was authorized to hold any quantity of land, not exceeding 900 acres, where the town was located. Cofachique was the only town in Alen county for nearly two years and was the county seat until 1858. The town lasted but a short time after the removal of the county seat to Humboldt. The natural disadvantages of the townsite-it was not easily accessible and there was no water supply together with the sympathies of the founders contributed to the ultimata death of the community. Writers of the state's history are not agreed on the origin of the name Cofachique. Duncan and Scott in their History of Allen and Woodson Counties (Iola, 1901) state that the name was that of an Indian chief. C. E. Cory in his article "Slavery in Kansas," The Kansas Historical Collections, v. 7, p. 238, states that the town was named for an Indian princess who met De Soto on the Savannah river. Accounts of the De Soto expedition of 1540 contain references to a pause at the Indian town of Cofitachique (the name is given various spellings) where friendship and entertainment were offered by the woman governor. That she was later made a prisoner is interesting if not pertinent. The similarity of the names suggests that the town of Cofachique, Allen county, may have been named for the sixteenth century village on the Savannah river, but there is a lack of evidence.
17. Humboldt, named for Baron Von Humboldt by its German founders, was located in the spring of 1857 and the first houses were built in the summer of that year. It was the county seat from 1858-1865 losing then to Iola. A U. S. land office was located here, except for s period of a few months, from 18611890. The town was burned by rebel raiders in 1861 but was later rebuilt. he first church of the community was that of the United Brethren in Christ begun in 1859 and finished the following year. It was used as a union church for several years, also for a schoolhouse. Orlin Thurston came to Humboldt during the summer of 1857 and erected a steam sawmill. In the following spring another sawmill, also grist mill, was opened by W. C. O'Brien.18. The name Hugh McKee in the capacity of deputy and survey examiner appears in the reports of ward B. Burnett, surveyor general for Kansas and Nebraska, for the years 1858, 1859.-See Reports of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, 1859, 1860. The name David T. Mitchell occurs in the report for the year ending September 30, 1801.
19. The author was here confused in his statements. The distance traveled, and his mention of the scene of the Pottawatomie massacre and the home of the Doyle family would place him at this time in Pottawatomie township of Franklin county, near Lane. His route of travel did not take him across the northwest corner of Lykens (present Miami) county at any time.
20. Since the route of travel was north from Marysville, the creek here crossed must have been Little Bull creek, Bull creek or Big Bull creek, as it was also called, passing to the west of Marysville.
21. The Blue river of Johnson county flows northeast across the county emptying into the Missouri river about 6 miles east of the state line.