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Bypaths of Kansas History - February 1941

(Vol. 10, No. 1), pages 102 to 104.
Transcribed by lhn;
digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society.


From the New York Daily Tribune, January 24, 1856. Mormon Grove, Friday, January 11, 1856.

The road which leads from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Laramie, runs through the prairies to the back of Atchison and Doniphan, at a distance of some six or eight miles. Along this road the attention of the traveler is often arrested by the graves on the wayside. The frequent occurrence of these is sad evidence of many a painful story, long deferred perhaps, but sure and sorrowful, conveyed to the relatives of those who thus sleep beneath the prairie sod. The rumbling of the emigrant wagons or the Government train makes their resting-place a busy thoroughfare. A few of these graves have a fence around them, but most of them are marked only by the mound and broken sod. Some of them had been torn up, and the prairie wolf had made a banquet on the poor relics of mortality.

There is a road leading from Atchison into this military road. This is now the route for the Mormon emigration on its way to Salt Lake; and here, at the distance of some six or seven miles from Atchison, they have a starting station. I was on my way from Doniphan to Ocena, when I came in sight of Mormon Grove. It stands on high ground in the prairie, and is of young hickory trees, which can be seen at a great distance, their feathery outlines giving the scene a picturesque effect. I had no intention of stopping, but something in the appearance of the place arrested me. There was a large farm, some 160 acres, neatly fenced with sod. I had often seen sod fence before, but never had occasion to admire it, as the hogs and cattle always seemed to honor it "more in the breach than in the observance;" but this appeared to be constructed on a more scientific plan, and is, I think, worthy of imitation in a prairie country. On the outside there is a ditch some three feet deep by four feet wide, sloping to a point at the bottom; from this the materials of the dyke have been taken. The sods from the surface form the face of the wall, which is only two-and-a-half feet high. The earth from the trench is thrown behind these and slopes away very gradually. When well built this will, I think, be very durable. The hogs and cattle are prevented from knocking it down by the trench, and cannot jump the trench for the wall. I was told that a man could put up from three to four rods of this fence per day.

There are one or two Mormons living at the Grove and its vicinity, but as I have stated, this is merely an outfitting station for the Salt Lake trains. Whether the polygamy feature of domestic bliss flourishes here, is a problem which my observation had not enabled me to solve. The people appear to be very quiet, and seem to possess some little intelligence. One elderly lady had quite a matronly and dignified appearance, and one girl was rather pretty-in fact, decidedly good-looking. For the first time in some weeks I have heard a "blessing" asked at table, and in the quaint and semi-religious conversation of my host I almost forgot the few peculiarities that startled me at Mormon Grove. [From Our Special Correspondent.)




From the Walnut Valley Times, El Dorado, July 1, 1870.

The bulls selected for sentry duty take up their position on all the prominences of the divide, leaving unoccupied, as we discovered on the day referred to, and always afterwards, not a single point from which an approaching enemy may be commanded. The buffalo, widely different from the antelope, depends scarcely at all on his scent; but those great round eyes of his, glowing in their earnestness or anger, like balls of fiery asphaltum, possess a length of range, and an inevitability of keenness, scarcely surpassed by those of any quadruped running wild on our continent. Crouch and crawl where you may, you cannot enter the main herd without half a dozen pair of them successively, or at a time, focussing full upon you. Instant retreat of their owners follows; at first no faster than a majestic walk, but, if your pursuit be hot, with increasing graduations of speed up to the heavy cow gallop; and then comes the stampede of the late quietly feeding herd, in a cloud of dust, and with a noise of thunder like a general engagement.

I have said it is impossible to get by the sentries: but there is an exception for the case of a hunter, who, disguised in a wolf or antelope skin, is willing to crawl slowly, dragging a rifle, for two or three miles; or the still rarer case of one who, lying down completely out of sight in the grass, wriggles himself painfully along, like a snake, till he gets within range.


From the Wichita Vidette, November 24, 1870.

We have seen printing offices used for almost everything, but never knew of one being used for a jail until last night. On said night our office was made a place for the safe keeping of three prisoners. As the county is too poor to build a jail, and we are wealthy, we shall not present a bill for jail fees.


From the Kinsley Reporter, November 23, 1876.

The Lyceum, last night, was except the paper, a stupid affair. A part of the disputants stayed at home and the others didn't have anything to say; one of the singers had a cold, and consequently there was no music. The meetings will hereafter be held on Friday nights instead of Wednesdays.


From the Kirwin Chief, July 17, 1878.

Two hogs fell into the well on the Public Square Tuesday evening, but were recovered in the morning after a long-suffering community had listened to their melody all night.



From The Republican, Fordham, Hodgeman county, July 9, 1879.

A. A. Lord says that going for buffalo chips with a pair of wild steers is not as much fun as one might think.


From the Inland Tribune, Great Bend, September 27, 1879.

The Arkansas river is tetotally dry; not a drop of water in it; it would make a splendid race course. The question is, what has become of the water? The Baptist brothers can't turn a wheel while this thing lasts.


From the Lane County Gazette, California, Kan., June 17, 1880.

The cheapest church in the United States was recently built in Kansas, at a cost of $10. Its walls and roof are of sod and the floor of earth. No mortgages.


From the Sherman Center News, March 17, 1887.

One morning last week F. W. Flowerdew was out on his claim stepping off a portion to plow when he noticed a range steer about half a mile distant. He went on with the measurement, but presently heard something approach, turned and saw the steer coming at him at full speed, head down and about 20 yards away. Mr. Flowerdew was not armed and his only way to avoid being struck by the first charge was to dodge it, which he did. The steer turned and came again but with not so much force, and Flowerdew succeeded in getting hold of a horn and his right hand into his nostrils. Here the battle began between man and beast. To one it meant life or death, to the other it made no difference. For an arena they had 200 miles square of level plain in the center of which the sky dropped to the earth to form the boundary of the scene of action. No Caesar was there to crown the hero and no amphitheater as in ye Roman grandeur, to applaud the victor. It was the best place Flowerdew could have got hold of the maddened brute and backward and forward they struggled. The steer was three years old and as Flowerdew is a tall and powerful man it made a good fight. For over a half an hour the struggle continued, all the while Flowerdew was working his way to the house where there was some 2 x 4 pieces of lumber. When he got hold of these he had a little better show, and commenced to pound the steer over the nose, which he stood and suffered, but the minute the pounding stopped his steership charged, and had to be beaten off. After two or three pieces had been broken up the animal was so weak from loss of blood that he turned tail and left, with his nostrils torn almost out. Flowerdew is not hurt, only his feet which were trampled, and being sore in the body and muscles.