ANDERSON- RICKMAN(WRITTEN ABOUT 1950)
50 years is but a span as time is measured as we view the events of history. The greater majority of settlers in and about Harvey County came for the purpose of carving out homes to build an environment in which families might be reared, sustenance provided, a religious liberty enjoyed and education of children made possible. Nothing could stand against their determinations.
A train of several covered wagons left Bethel Ohio in fall of 1871, seeking homes in the West. Among this group of homeseekers, were Owen White, Lewis White and family, Bill Turner and family, George Calander, David Anderson and Mr. Anderson and his two brothers Jeff and Waymon. They call him their boy. After days and weeks of weary travel, they reached the end of the Santa Fe Railroad at Emporia, then traveled on as far as what is now Florence. There, the Anderson family made and lived in a dugout. Mr. Anderson, being a cobbler by trade – his family was more fortunate than many at the time because they always had shoes to wear. With his family settled in Florence, Mr. Anderson ventured on west and homesteaded range 2, East-West half of west-half section 10 Pleasant Township, Harvey County in 1872, where preparation for a new home began. Unfortunately, one of the horses died, leaving them one old horse to break and sod what was to be used to build their new sod house of. Then Mr. Anderson traded their only horse for a pair, or what they called a yoke of oxen. The sod was plowed and the house started about that time in 1872. Old man Peachum, who’s sons operated a second hand store on N. Main and East Douglas Wichita, was the first man to operate a butcher shop. He sold buffalo meat under a tent located somewhere between 5th and 6th Street on is now main Street Newton, Kansas.
In 1872, Mr. Anderson passed in the dugout at Florence, was buried on the homestead, the sod house was completed by other members of the family and the family was moved to Harvey County. Mrs. Anderson lived there with her 9 children, 4 girls and 4 boys in their one room sod house. Later, they built a frame house 12 by 14 where the boys slept in the swinging beds, swung from the ceiling rafters, so they would be protected from snakes and insects. Blue stem grass grew 4 and 5 ft tall. Wolves and coyotes were plentiful and attracted by the smell of fresh meat, they would come up to the door and windows of the houses and howl to get in. Rattle snakes were fearfully plentiful as well. Buffalos would come within a short distance of the house. The only mill within miles was near what is now Peabody. The older boys would put a sack of corn on a house and take it to the mill and have it ground into corn meal, taking all day to make the trip.
One of the main Indian trails’ cross roads was at a spring at the foot of a large hill known to the Anderson and Rickman families as the Turner Hill. Newton became a stopping place for the cowboys when driving cattle through to Emporia home times 2 or 3 hundred in a bunch. Later a hotel was opened located about where Swartz Lumber yard is now. The town of Newton became quite rough. The sight of shooting up the town was common. One of the old land marks which has been destroyed is boot Hill where so many cowboys were killed and buried, their boots and remains were found many years afterwards.
In 1873, the Rail Road was extended to Dodge City.
In 1874, the year of the grasshopper plague marks the gloomiest period of Harvey County history. Those who witnessed and experienced the devastation they wrought upon the country cannot find words to describe it in what infinite numbers they came and the trail of blighted crops and hopes they left behind on the 7th day of August, 1984. these little enemies made their appearances in Harvey County, coming in such numbers as to literally blot out the sun, giving the impression of low-flying gray/black clouds being blown swiftly from the northwest. They came very suddenly and entirely unannounced. For 2 days, they continued coming in solid mass formation and they all seemed to find a place to light. Wholesale destruction commenced and continued for 2 or 3 days. At the end of that time, every stalk of corn and gardens and every vestige of vegetation was green enough for them to eat, simply as not. It did not exist. All paint and even the old black boards and log house were eaten until they looked like new rough lumber. One incident on the Anderson farm I’ve heard many times was a pitchfork left sticking in a pile of hay. The fork handle was eaten so badly, it was like a rough stick and the hay did not exist. The whole country and other Kansas counties was nothing but a bleak, barren plain with nothing to sustain the life of the people and stock that had striven…valiantly against many hardships to make it a habitable and prosperous country. All persons engaged in business became discouraged many losing faith….all business was practically suspended and want and suffering was brought to the door of our worthy pioneers. Many were compelled to leave their farms and seek work elsewhere to support their families.
A bit of reflection will picture the barren days of drought and grasshoppers…hardships and privations. It was considered a piece of rare luck if the sod shanty would afford a piece of salt pork and coffee made of parched wheat. Often it was miles to the nearest neighbor and 17 to the nearest tree. This catastrophe happened at the time when grocery and merchandise stores were few and hot very well stocked, so they were unable to meet the sudden demand of the destitute settlers that had once supplied their tables from their gardens.
While many returned to the east, the Anderson’s were amongst those who stayed on. Many had neither money to remain here or leave on. Representatives were sent east to solicit help and many took active part. A.E. Towzelier land commissioner of Santa Fe railroad at once set about furnishing seed to the farmers freight free by careful advertising kept immigration gradually flowing into the country.
Prairie fires were to be dreaded. Often destroying everything within its path. About 1876, a prairie fire broke out south of whitewater, swept a path across the country about 10 miles wide, burning everything as it went. William Cole, living on the ajoining section, barn was burned and about 20 head of cattle lost. Jeff was at home, instead of plowing around the house to protect it, he turned the oxen loose and they ran to the creek. The pig pen was burned from around the pigs and the pigs got out and were scattered, the straw stable was burned by some act of ….the house was spared. Fuel was scarce so cow-chips and cornstalks were often used to heat and cook with. Only the smaller had the privilege of going to school and glad to walk 2 and a half miles. Few received more than a 5th grade education. As soon as the girls were large enough, they worked in town. On Saturday afternoons one of the children would ride a horse to town to bring back the weeks supply of groceries in a sack thrown across the horses back, while the sister would walk along beside the horse 8 miles and return in time for work Monday morning.
The first place of amusement was the Ragsdale Opera house, located at the corner of Broadway and Main. The main event looked forward to was the county fair once a year.
John Reese built the first drug store in which he plced his few drugs and jewels brought with him from Wisconsin, located in front of the one well which furnished Newton’s water supply.
Mr. Turner and wife, America Anderson homesteaded about 4 miles NE of David Anderson. T.A. Mayfield homesteaded 80 acres, 5 miles NW of what is now Peabody. He later married Lucy Anderson Owen and Lewis White and family went back east. George Calander worded in town and stayed at the Anderson home until he married and moved to Hutchinson, where they both passed leaving no children. When Mrs. Anderson’s youngest child was 11 years old, she married Orison Grant. To them, no children were born. Mr. Grant passed on the farm east of Newton several years later. Mrs. Grant later moved to Newton where she died August 1, 1923.
Joe Rickman, wife and family come to Kansas from the State of Ohio in 1877, they settled on a farm south east of Peabody, from there they came to Newton. Not much is known about their home life. During all the hardships both families held up their family honor, was and still are respected and appreciated by the community in which they live. I feel very proud to say our forefathers were not just ordinary men and women, but great builders. Most all of our forefathers had a trade, builders to be proud of. Among those builders were cobblers, masons plasters, brick layers, paper hangers, painters, laundry men, musicians, stage managers, cooks plumbers and farmers. Let this be an awakening to your younger generation and inspire in them be the good work of our forefathers and learn a trade.
Newton was named in honor of Newton, Mass., a suburb of Boston Mass. Wehre many of the original stockholder of the Santa Fe railway resided. Thomas J. Peter___ was the first president of original Newton. The government of the USA was 96 years old when Harvey County was organized and when the Newton Kansas began to record the events of history thus 90 years ago, January 29, Kansas was admitted to statehood.
The frontier is now gone and with he passing of the frontier, what about the pioneer? May the great God forbid that history shall cease new land to conquer maybe well nigh exhausted but new methods are every to be worked out the contest is never over. Then in fond memories of those who toiled here before us shall we to our new task rededicated to true man and woman hood with eyes to the future and welfare of our posterity. Yes it costs more to live, but it is worth it and is the work of redemption from forest and prairie in this blessed land performed by our pioneers. The last 50 years have been most…..in new things with modern equipment. When facing high taxes cost of keeping up motor cards, we often hear “Oh for the good old days” None would give up their modern equipped homes and accomplishments of the last ½ century for even think of giving up the telegraph or radio for the pony express, the tractor combine for the cradle. Imagine in 1941, driving a pair of oxen 20 miles to a land office or giving up the automobiles, airplanes and streamlined trains.
The first family picnic was gotten up by T.A Mayfield, son-in-law of Mrs. Mary Anderson Grant and husband of Lucy Anderson, and it was known as the Anderson Rickman picnic. The first family picnic was given 12 years ago, Aug. 4, 1929,. As a remembrance of that date and the picnic may I present Reed Rickman who was born on that day. Since that date, the Anderson and Rickman Picnic has becomes and annual affair. Labor day being the day set aside for our picnic, Mr. Nate Anderson , the oldest member of our family and the only one of the old timers left was born on May 18, 1868, making him 73 years to his credit.
There has not been a family reunion since 1983
The rest is just who begat whom for the most part.