FROM A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE WRITTEN, PROBABLY IN 1889 AND PROBABLY BY MARTIN VAUGHT. (NEWSPAPER UNKNOWN)
Transcribed and submitted by Linc Wolverton as written)
George T. Donaldson (husband of Eleanor Vaught) was Chelsea's (Kansas) first postmaster. Many early pioneers recall him. He was a natural leader, keen, quiet, soft-spoken with a dash and daring when there was a call for action that made him the admiration of the settlers. He had good judgment and was never "rattled" by emergencies. He had accumulated some 800 acres of land, was in the very prime and vigor of manhood when in hauling logs, on November 4th, 1869, one of them rolled off the wagon, crushing him upon a wheel as it went.
The awful drouth of 1860 was most dishearting and hundreds of settlers left their claims. Agents went to the states and solicited relief which was most genously (sic) granted. S.C. Pomroy, afterward U.S. senator, was relief agent at Atchison and all supplies were shipped to him. The human hogs came to the front as usual on such occasions but generally relief was fairly distributed. Grain, flour and beans were shipped in heavy grain bags which were afterwards utilized for clothing on which the lettering would show. Sometimes it would be "S.C. Pomroy" on one leg "Kansas Relief" on the other and "Atchison" some where else. A pair of pants worn by _____Bixler took the cake. He was broad and tall and on the broadest part of his pants in black letters was, "Kansas Relief, S.C. Pomroy, Atchison, Kansas".
I went to my old home in Edgar county, Illinois, in the fall of 1860 and did what I could soliciting aid for "Bleeding Kansas", a name given in derision by pro slavery people. When I returned in the spring of '61 I did not come alone. I had induced a brave-hearted girl to cast her lot with mine. To my wife is due in great measure the credit of our staying through the dangers and privations which followed. The "Border War" in Kansas and the issues leading thereto had become national and the Civil War came on. The Indians were restless and threatening. Many settlers abandoned their homes. A majority of able bodied men enlisted in the Union cause. A more patriotic and heroic people never lived than the Kansans of '61-65. Enlistments from our section were discouraged, Col. P.B. Pumb declared that one of us was worth more to the country here than ten of us in the army because of the rebel and Indian raids which we could repel. We kept up a military organization in readiness most of the time for quick action.
Butler county's first organization was in '59, when J.R. Lamdin (Joshua?) was chosen county clerk; C.S. Lambdin, county treasure, L.C. Lambdin, probate judge; Doctor Lewellyn, sheriff and Geo. T. Donaldson, Dr. P.G. Barrett and Jacob Landis, county commissioners. This organization failed, most of the officers moving away.
In '62 more grief came to us. Nevin A. Vaught and Ole Branson gave their young lives to their country and were buried in an unknown grave near Springfield, Mo. Soon after followed Moses Thomas and Burge Atwood. I cannot recall all but I know that few who enlisted returned.
In those days buffalo and wolf hunting was a source of revenue, wolf pelts were worth $1.25 to $2.00 each and buffalo skins brought from $3.00 to $6.00. These furs had to be taken in the winter and danger from storms and Indians made hunting no pleasant work.
Hearing that a number of Indians were coming up the Walnut in February '62, Donaldson, myself and others met them at Sutton Branch. They were Cherokees, but because they were loyal to the Union were driven from their homes in the dead of winter by the rebels. They suffered terribly from exposure and hunger, the weather being severely cold and a foot of snow lay on the ground. We did all we could to relieve them. They camped on the Gaskins, now the James Teter farm, two miles from El Dorado. While awaiting relief and supples from their agent at Lawrence we turned over to them 600 bushels of corn and some oxen for beef. A more grateful people I never saw. Some of the children were so starved they could not wait for food to be cooked but ate raw corn and beef. Many had their hands and limbs frozen. The Cherokees, even then, were semicivilized and this band had some persons as intelligent as ordinary white people. Many of them afterwards enlisted and made good soldiers for the Union. Several families remained on the Walnut until the close of the war.
In '63, Rev. I.C. Morse of Emporia, Congregationalist, preached to us occasionally. Elder Rice, presiding elder of the Emporia M.E. Church preached each quarter at Donaldson's (log) house that stood a short distance south and west of where the stone dwelling is on the Holderman farm. Father Stanbury, an itenerant Methodist and unique character, also came occasionally.
Society as now defined was unknown, yet the people were bound by social ties that do not now exist. One neighbor could not do too much for another. None thought of locking doors or graneries. Strangers were welcomed with genuine hospitality, and entertainment for man and beast was free.
Miss Sarah C. Satchell taught the first school in Butler county in the summer of 1860. Miss Maggie Vaught, now Mrs. H.O. Chittenden of Marlon, taught the next two years. Oliver C. Link, now a leading physician of Lincoln, Nebraska, taught a term.
In '62 I enlisted in the Union army expecting to help fight Gen. Price in Missouri, but instead was sent to the plains to watch for.....Indians.
A petition was circulated, April '63 (?) signed by twenty-eight persons to locate the county seat and (old) El Dorado was chosen. The county officers were however allowed to hold their offices at their homes and the county seat was moved to suit their convenience.
I shall never forget one beautiful Sunday morning in April '65, when I saw a horseman flying down the road toward the present Chelsea, waving a newspaper over his head. It was Henry Donald and he was shouting "Richmond is took! Richmond is took!" We could readily forgive his bad grammer for his news was very good and we rejoiced.
In '77 (?, probably should be '67), J.S. McWhorter, Henry Bell and J.K. Skinner put in a saw mill and shingle machine at Chelsea. A Mr. Watson opened a store. Dr. Sparks stuck out his professional shingle. J.B. Shough, now of Prospect, built a hotel which still stands: is the Chelsea store. J.B. Parsons, J.C. Rayburn, J.M. Rayburn, Dr. Zimmerman and some others built dwellings and business houses. The next year, '69, O.E. Sadler and J.C. Becker built the first good dwelling in Chelsea and put a stock of goods in it.
A big frame school house was erected, the first in the county and the first bell ever in the county was hung in the belfry and is there yet. Mrs. J.E. Buchanan, Mrs. George Ellis and Miss Alma Henderson, (now Mrs. Neil Wilkie of Douglass) were the teachers in those early days.
In looking back nearly 38 years, I recall many sad and sorrowful scenes and many ludicrous events. The remembrance of friends who like myself were then young, now old and gray; the recollection of many who have gone to the "undiscovered country" is a solemn retrospect. Among the true-hearted friends of that time who have passed away are Mrs. Dr. Barrett, Archibald Ellis and his wife, George T. Donaldson and wife (my sister), J.C. Lambdin and his son Joshua, Henderson Thomas and wife, P.P. Johnson and wife, drowned on West Branch in the flood of '69, Mrs. Lizzie Goodall, T.W. Satchell, J.M. Rayburn, Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Taylor, and Matthew Cowley and the other boys in blue who gave their lives a sacrifice for the country. Peace be to their ashes.