Benjamin Franklin Matchett – 1997 Inductee

An Englishman who came to America via Canada and in turn was a Civil War spy, a Christian Church minister, and a member of the Kansas House of Representatives is an example of the diverse assemblage of Americans who came to Osborne County, Kansas, in the 1870s and 1880s seeking free land under the terms of various homestead and timber claim acts. Benjamin F. Matchett’s story reflects three major themes of American life in the latter half of the nineteenth century – war, politics, and westward expansion – and through his unpublished autobiography (completed in 1923) one is able to experience each of those events in Matchett’s own words and actions.

Benjamin Matchett was born December 3, 1839, in Rumford, Essex County, England. He was the eldest of four children born to Benjamin and Charlotte (Merrin) Matchett. His father was engaged in public works and the young Ben was able to attend private school on his father’s comfortable salary. He worked as a training clerk in the civil engineering department at Stratford, England, for his first job, and when he was fourteen years old Ben started at his second job as a clerk in the Ways and Means Department of the Eastern Counties Railway in London.

In the spring of 1855 the Matchett family emigrated from England to Canada. The seven-week voyage was made difficult by a series of storms, but they arrived safely in New York City and made their way to Montreal, Canada. Their journey ended at Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, where the father became an engineer for the Grand Trunk Railway. Ben served as his timekeeper and was given the additional responsibility of making out the payroll. He attended school for a while in Monlennette, Ontario, in 1856 before his father retired and moved the family again that July, this time to LaPorte, Indiana, where they bought a farm and settled down permanently. That fall Ben enrolled in the local schools and worked on the farm until the fall of 1859, when he studied for a year at a select school.

“The spring and summer of 1860 brought me to the parting of the ways, for I reached my majority December 3, 1860. My father, being somewhat in debt for the farm he had purchased, made me promise not to leave home but to help him the ensuing year. But when the news flashed over the country that a lot of Rebels had fired upon Fort Sumter and Major Anderson had been forced to lower the Stars and Stripes to armed treason it set the North on fire and it was the hardest thing I ever did to stay on the farm from morning till night. I wanted to be in town where I could get the latest news every hour mixed with outbursts of patriotism . . . I stayed with my father about five months; then with father’s and mother’s consent I enlisted in June 1861 in the 15th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, Company G. We rendezvoused at Lafayette [Indiana] and drilled some two weeks and were mustered into the United States service for three years and were ordered at once to Camp Chase, Ohio. We lay here only two or three days and were ordered to Parkersburg, Virginia.” — Benjamin Matchett.

In July 1861 Matchett was diagnosed with a hernia and discharged. He returned home to LaPorte where he was treated by Dr. Brewster Higley, who later achieved lasting fame as the lyricist to the song Home on the Range. Ben reenlisted in August in the 29th Indiana Volunteer Infantry as a corporal. His regiment marched to Munfordville, Kentucky, where Ben was asked to go and spy on the Confederate forces at Bowling Green, Kentucky. He and another soldier set out but were soon captured by Confederate pickets and taken into the main Confederate camp.

“Upon reaching headquarters we were taken before General Hindman and several of his staff or officers. Comrad Burch and I had agreed that I was to do most of the answering in the questions pounded to us. General Hindman said, ‘Gentlemen, where are you from?’ I answered, ‘From LaPorte County, Indiana.’ He asked if that was our native state [and] I answered, no, sir, I was born near Rumford, Essex County, England, and was born December 3, 1839 .  .  .  .” — Benjamin Matchett.

Matchett proceeded to truthfully tell the general his life story up to the start of the war, which fitted neatly into the international situation of the time, as England was in strong sympathy with the Confederacy. He then spun a tale of searching for a brother who had come south before the war commenced and soon convinced the general of his sincerity. They were then set free and were even given an official pass to cross freely through the Confederate lines “in search of brother Ezekiel.” The pair soon entered Bowling Green, liberally using their pass to go where they pleased, and at one point even ate dinner with several Confederate officers. They then returned north and successfully reached the Union lines with an astonishing amount of detailed information concerning the Confederate forces and their battle plans.

Ben then served in the Union signal corps. He went on one more spy mission before receiving medical discharge in February 1863, after which he returned to LaPorte and was appointed deputy provost marshal, under General William Wallace, which position he resigned in 1864. He married Alida Josephine Munn, a childhood sweetheart, in LaPorte on December 13, 1863. They were the parents of nine children: Ida; Katherine; Christine; Mabel; Vesta; Estall; Alta; Benjamin; and Andrew. In the following spring he went to Kankakee County, Illinois, where he commenced farming, and continued until the fall of 1865. In the spring of 1866 Ben moved his family to a farm near Gallatin, Missouri. There in October 1869 he joined with the Christian Church and the following summer he was ordained a minister. The Reverend Benjamin Matchett pastored in the Gallatin area and also at Pleasant Ridge, Missouri, before heeding the call of the West and at midnight on March 3, 1885, the Matchetts arrived at the village of Bloomington in Osborne County, Kansas. Benjamin filed on a homestead in Lawrence Township and started a Christian Church in Bloomington.

“We had decided to open our new church the first of January 1886, and some of our friends from Missouri came down into Kansas to enjoy the occasion, but alas, it seemed that all the fates in the universe had turned against me and the country. The night before Brother and Sister Johnson of Winston, Missouri, arrived, the warm weather froze up so suddenly that the frogs were frozen up with their mouths open and in a few hours it was down to twenty degrees below zero and kept on going down. The gentle breezes of summer and fall had become furious and piled every ravine, orchard, yard and road full of snow. It thus raged about seventy-two hours and the lion had become a lamb and we were fixing for a period of rejoicing, but the storm had only stopped to rest and after twenty-four hours turned loose again and made the first storm respectable . .  . We were on the South Fork of the Solomon [River] and two hundred and thirty miles west of Atchison and only one through train in thirty days; luckily Brother and Sister Johnson got out on that train and they have never been much attached to Kansas.” — Benjamin Matchett.

The Antioch Church of Christ in Bloomington, Osborne County, Kansas, founded by Reverend Matchett. Later the building became home to the Bloomington School, District #10.

Matchett labored at and organized churches in Osborne County at Portis, Alton, Downs, and south of Osborne, and was twice in charge of the church in Osborne. But summer drought brought no crops and little money into the country, so in October 1890 he decided to rent out his homestead and moved his family to Mount Vernon, Washington. He held lengthy meetings there with the intention of starting a church. During these meetings, however, he received a telegram from Osborne informing him that the Farmers Alliance Party convention there had nominated him as their candidate for Osborne County Representative to the Kansas Legislature in the upcoming election. Matchett was taken by surprise, as he had never considered a political career and was not even a member of the Farmers Alliance Party (which later evolved into the Populist Party). After some consideration he wired back that he could not take part in the campaign but if he was elected he would return and “serve the people to the best of my ability.” A week after the election the Reverend Matchett received another telegram informing him that he had been elected by a seven hundred vote majority and asked that he “return to serve as promised.”

Reluctantly Benjamin did so and in January 1891 he took his seat in the Kansas House of Representatives. A stranger to everyone, he was nevertheless appointed the chairman of two committees and received 123 out of 125 votes to be Speaker of the House ProTem. The elected Speaker saw the political storm approaching the session and was regularly absent, and so Matchett filled the Speaker’s chair for much of his two-year term.

“Upon another occasion that proved to be the stormiest setting of the session, the Speaker, seeing the fight coming on over the state printing, called me to the chair and in a short time some twenty-five or thirty members were on their feet. The Speaker left the chamber with fists clenched and the House all in an uproar. I pounded and rapped for order, but all to no purpose. Then I ordered the sergeant-at-arms to clear the galleries and floor of all spectators, which was not complied with. The representative from Topeka was the Honorable Mr. Webb .  .  . He came down the aisle and took a position close to the chair and addressed the Speaker, wishing to know why he was not keeping order .  .  . I replied, ‘According to the rules laid down, it is recommended for the presiding officers to give them over to their folly and indiscretion and [so] I will recognize no member until the House becomes orderly!’  Whereupon he mounted a chair and in a shrill squeaking voice yelled for order and everything became quiet and he made a brief talk .  . . and in a short time we proceeded with matters at hand, and surely it was a calm after a storm without a cloud.” — Benjamin Matchett.

In the end Benjamin was voted a raise in salary by the legislature for a fair and prudent job under admittedly “difficult” circumstances. He served out his term and despite popular outcry from across the state he declined to serve again, and instead returned to Bloomington and the church there. He remained active in Populist affairs and preached at churches throughout Osborne County and at Seiling and Sheridan Flats in Oklahoma Territory. The summer of 1897 saw him return from a pastoral trip in Oklahoma to the Bloomington railroad depot, where he was met by his wife. She gave him this ultimatum: “I can’t stand it any longer. My turkeys have all roasted alive in the yard and our fat hog is just baked to death, and everything is dead and burnt up and I am going to leave.” They sold the homestead and that October they bought a home in Abilene, Kansas.

Benjamin continued his pastoral work in Abilene and in Caldwell County, Missouri. In the spring of 1903 the Matchetts rented out their home in Abilene and left to organize several churches in Oklahoma Territory. A year later they moved to Kansas City, Kansas, and Benjamin became pastor of churches in both Kansas and Missouri. By 1907 he had added four more churches in Missouri to his pastoral work, which he officially retired from in September 1911. The Matchetts then moved to Oakland, California, and spent much of their retirement traveling and visiting with relatives and friends. Benjamin served his last pastorate at Fruita, Colorado, during 1913 and only gave sermons upon request in the years following.

The Reverend and Mrs. Matchett made their last move in 1919 back to Kansas City, Kansas, to be nearer their children. Benjamin died February 9, 1926, while visiting a son in Grand Junction, Colorado. His remains were returned to Kansas City and buried there with full military honors. The reluctant politician, the ardent minister, and the old soldier was able to lay aside his lifelong labors and rest at last.

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Inez Lucile Marshall – 1996 Inductee

Inez Lucile Marshall, one of six children of Philander and Mary (Moore) Marshall, was born May 18, 1907, in Burr Oak, Kansas. At the age of two her family moved to Northbranch, Kansas. Inez graduated from the local schools and then worked at various self-supporting jobs. Her first career was as a barber, but she had to give that up when she got hair in her lungs. Then she became a mechanic and a produce seller, driving her own truck over a multi-state region. Never marrying, Inez was an evangelist for many years in the Church of the Nazarene. She was also an accomplished musician and wrote poetry. But her best-known profession came about in 1937, when a trucking accident kept her bedridden in her parents’ home at Northbranch for a year and a half. In April of 1969 she wrote down the story of that accident and how it changed her life.

“As a result of a truck accident about thirty years ago, I became disabled [and was] later diagnosed as having a broken back. At that time my brother Ray and I each were hauling wheat to the Robin Hood Mill in Sioux City, Iowa, and returning to Glen Elder, Kansas, with loads of corn. On this trip, I had been driving day and night and was just two miles south of Lyons, Nebraska. I dozed off at the wheel for an instant, and aroused to find I had barely missed a bridge abutment and was driving on a very soft shoulder. As the truck was being pulled into the grader ditch, I quickly turned off the ignition switch to avoid a fire. The steering wheel struck me in the abdomen when the truck turned upside-down, and the last I remembered was dirt falling on me through the floorboards. How long I lay there, I don’t know. When I regained consciousness, I climbed through a window and walked to the edge of the road, unaware that I was hurt. Two men (wonderful people) stopped, quickly loaded me into their car and rushed me back toward Lyons. As we rode, I began to feel something hitting my hand. I looked down to discover I was literally drenched in blood from a head wound. These men hurried me to a doctor who gave me a pill, sewed up the two-inch gash in my head, advised me that the shock would be great, but that I would be okay.

I left the doctor’s office, walked one-half block to hire a wrecker to take me back to the truck, get it up upright and back on the road. A friendly farmer came by and offered to scoop the corn back into the truck for me. In payment for this kindness, I had him take the very dirty grain home for hog feed. From that day to this, I don’t remember driving that truck home to Northbranch–crossing a railroad track, passing through a small town, driving up in front of my parents’ house. However, when I stepped out of the truck, it was as if a curtain was lifted, and I fully realized where I was. My precious mother was hurrying toward me crying out, ‘Inez, did something happen?’ I told her there was a little wreck, but I was okay.

She led me to the house exclaiming, ‘You’re white as a sheet!’

My struggle began when, the next morning, I could not get out of bed and looked bruised from head to toe. For a year and a half, I lay in bed unable to gain my strength. One morning, I felt an urge to immediately get to the front door. Mother and Father managed to get me into a rocking chair and then on to the front door. My gaze fell upon a small rock, possibly 2 x 3 inches in size, laying in the yard. Where this came from, I know not, as there were no rocks around our place; and, I certainly wasn’t thinking of ‘rocks,’ as I was in constant pain. I asked my father to please bring that little rock to me. He did. After handling it for a moment, I said, ‘Dad, hand me your knife.’ As though she anticipated my need, my mother quickly brought her ‘dough board’ from the kitchen, covered with a newspaper, and laid it across the arms of my chair. It seemed that someone guided my hand as I began to carve, as I still didn’t have a plan in my mind. As my hands progressed, I soon was amazed to see this little rock turn into a sculptured squirrel with his tail over his back.

As the days rolled by, other things to carve from rock kept coming into my mind. My father arranged for my brother, Ray, to bring a truck load of rock from the farm of Ralph Sherman, a customer of my father’s blacksmith shop. I carved and chiseled that whole load up into small items. Then one night, I talked with my father about selling my carvings, possibly by placing a small advertisement in a magazine. He handed me a dollar, the cost of the ad. I mailed all of my carvings to people responding to this ad, bringing me a return of $167.00. The little squirrel was sold to a lady in Winona Lake, Indiana.

Upon the advise of my doctor, I had to quit work for a short time. My back condition was becoming worse and breathing the rock dust was bothering my chest. After too short a time, I couldn’t resist going right back to it, and Dr. Joe Poppen, formerly of Downs, Kansas, insisted that he would be sending me to Arizona if I didn’t get away from that dust. So, I did stop my carving for a short period of time again. However, plans for larger pieces of sculpturing kept coming into my mind. I felt compelled to find a way to continue my work. This is when I discovered that there was a vein of white limestone in Jewell County. For some time, two ladies and two boys from Burr Oak furnished the white limestone for me to carve.

Chiseling the rock by hand is very slow, and it wasn’t long until I found I could not fill the mail orders fast enough. I was becoming physically weaker, as the effort was too much. So, I had to discontinue the mail order business, and physically rest.

From this point on, I felt that nothing else mattered. My main objective was to chisel rock. Rock, to me, had a very special meaning–it denoted strength, determination, something to anchor to, something to hold steady when all else failed. The word ‘rock’ is used in the Bible so many times. It was just wonderful (and still is) to study rock. So, at night–yes, while it was quiet and people were sleeping–I continued my chiseling of rock. By now, I had so many large pieces completed, I could not find a building in either Northbranch or Burr Oak to house my work. Portis, Kansas, did have a building available to meet my needs; so, I moved to Portis [in 1955], and for a few years continued my sculpturing there.” — Inez Marshall.

The Continental Sculpture Hall, as she named it, displayed nearly 450 works by Inez. Among the more notable pieces: a large white church, complete with preacher, people, and pews; the bandit Pistol Pete holding up a covered wagon; a stone guitar that could be played; a tribute to President John F. Kennedy, which featured an intricately-carved memorial table; and a 1914 Model-T roadster. Carved from a single limestone block, the roadster had a motor, transmission, u-joints, driveshaft, working lights, a radiator that holds water with a screw-down-rock cap, and a steering wheel that actually turned the wheels. Except for a few years in Abilene, Kansas, the Hall remained in Portis as a popular tourist attraction. But eventually Inez’s age and poor health forced the sale of the Hall in 1984 to help defray the cost of her health care. By then Inez had slipped into a coma and so was unaware as her life’s work was broken up and dispersed at auction. She never awoke and quietly passed away October 17, 1984, in Osborne. She was buried in the Burr Oak Cemetery.

Inez Marshall’s fame as a sculptress had achieved national proportions during her last few years. After her death the Kansas Grassroots Association mounted a campaign to reassemble her collection in its Grassroots Art Center museum in Lucas, Kansas. Much of Inez Marshall’s most important work can currently be seen at the Center, which devotes an entire wing to this visionary, self-taught folk artist who is the latest inductee to the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

A view of the Continental Sculpture Hall when it was open in Portis, Kansas. Photo courtesy of the Grassroots Art Center.

The following photos are of the Inez Marshall Gallery inside the Grassroots Art Center in Lucas, Kansas,  All creations were carved by Inez Marshall:

Frank Miles Lundy – 1996 Inductee

It has been said of Elder Frank Lundy that life to him was not merely a matter of days but a sacred trust. In those many years he gave of himself to God and all those around him. Today we remember him as a pioneer minister of the cloth of the first magnitude.

Frank Miles Lundy was born to John and Rachel Lundy, October 24, 1858, in Lafayette, Illinois. He was one of a large family of children. Married to Julia Welch in Marshalltown, Iowa, on April 6, 1882, he and his wife moved to Round Mound Township, Osborne County, Kansas, in 1883. They homesteaded there, reared four children – Rawl, Paul, Dwight, and Goldie – and lived on the farm until 1919 when they moved into Natoma. While on the farm Frank served his township as trustee for a number of years. After coming to town he served on the city council and also as clerk. His wife, Julia, passed away in Natoma in 1929. He was ordained to preach in 1889 but had preached for some time before then. He, with others, established the North Central Kansas Camp Meeting. The first camp was held in 1895, and with the exception of one time he attended each year after that.

Elder Lundy, as he was affectionately called, held a position in the hearts of all who knew him. He lived his life for God and was always associated with church work in the sixty years he lived here. He was the enthusiastic force in building a church near his farm home (Victor Holiness Chapel) and later the Church of God in Natoma, serving as pastor in both churches. He also helped to establish a camp meeting grounds in Natoma where meetings were held each summer for many years. He served many congregations before retiring in 1938 after 40 years pastorate of the Church of God in the Natoma community. He married Belle Finch on October 21, 1937.

Mr. Lundy was chairman of the Foreign Missionary Board from its very beginning in 1917 and held that office for many years. He was also the presiding officer of the publishing board of the newspaper Church Herald for a number of years. This paper is still being published.

During his long life, he gave of himself to neighbors and friends, and perhaps conducted more funeral services in this section of the country than any other person. In the early days when travel was by horse and buggy, he made many trips through mud, rain or snowdrifts to help someone. At times the roads were so badly drifted that a crew of men went ahead to shovel out a path for him. Many times Elder Lundy left his own harvest field to go minister to the sick or bury the dead. He went without a murmur.

He was a preacher of righteousness and holiness. He was loyal to this cause throughout his lifetime, and was held in high esteem even by those who did not accept his doctrines. Though frail as he was, in the fall just prior to his death, he filled the pulpit for seven weeks during the absence of the regular minister. Mr. Lundy died as he had lived – honored, trusted and loved. At age 86 his life ended December 4, 1944, in Natoma. He was buried in the Natoma Cemetery. Later his widow gave land in south Natoma on which the Lundy Memorial Tabernacle was built in honor of Frank Lundy.

Isaac Kurtz – 1996 Inductee

   Isaac Kurtz was the sixth child of Abraham and Esther (Showalter) Kurtz.  He was born January 1, 1841, in Alexander, Huntington County, Pennsylvania.  Little is known concerning his early life, until his marriage to Sarah Foltz on March 26, 1863.  In the course of their lives five children were born to them – Charlotte, Ann, Amanda, Howard, and William.

Isaac and Sarah started west several times and had always gone back to Pennsylvania.  They moved to Illinois and then to Missouri, where in 1867 Isaac was issued an Exhorters license in the Methodist Episcopal Church of the Kansas City District.  By 1875 Isaac had been working for two and a half years in a coal mine in Coshocton, Ohio.  He was what was called the bank boss of the mine.

Isaac was in the milling trade in Massalon, Ohio, in 1877 when he decided to join other members of his family in Osborne County.  They arrived March 4, 1877, and Isaac took a homestead in Grant Township.  He was never a big farmer.  He would rather work around his garden, smoke house, and shop.  He apparently was more interested in living off his land than in making money.  He had an orchard and also cared for honey bees.

Isaac possessed skills in sharpening stone burrs for grist mills he had learned in working for mills in Ohio.  The owners of the Harlan mill would bring their stone burrs to Isaac for him to sharpen.  He also worked several years at the Bush mill south of Alton.

In 1882 Isaac had a local preacher’s license by the Methodist Episcopal Church.  He helped form the Northwest Kansas Methodist Conference and organized as many as fifteen Methodist Churches within a twenty-five-mile radius of his farm, including the Beulah Church in Hancock Township, Osborne County; Spring Branch Church in Ash Rock Township, Rooks County; and at Alton.  In 1886 he became a deacon and in 1890 he was ordained an elder.  From 1886 through 1914 he served the Woodston, Alton, and Bristow Methodist Church circuits.

One Sunday when preaching to the congregation at the Spring Branch Church, a rider came in with a body over his saddle.  He asked that Isaac bury the man.  Isaac and the congregation went out into the cemetery and had a service.  When Isaac asked the name, the gentleman replied, “It doesn’t matter.”  And so there is a stone commemorating the deceased as the “Traveler.”

The manner of Isaac’s death was touching and appropriate.  The Gospel Team from Woodston was holding an afternoon service in the Spring Branch Church on July 19, 1914.  While Isaac was using this opportunity to testify to the grace of God, his arms raised high, he was stricken with heart failure.  He was laid in the pew and in a few moments he was dead.

Isaac was buried in the Spring Branch Cemetery.  Isaac Kurtz was a dedicated man and did a lot to promote religion the area.  Several of the Kurtz family in each generation still carry on with his calling.

Richard Baxter Foster – 1997 Inductee

The man to whom it was once attributed the daunting fact that he laid the foundations of history and culture wherever he went was born October 25, 1826, in Hanover, New Hampshire. Richard Baxter Foster was the son of Richard and Irene (Burrough) Davis Foster and heir to a distinguished family legacy that enabled him to take advantage of the better schools in the area. He completed his education with graduation from Dartmouth College in 1851, after which he removed to Illinois, where he taught for three years. On October 23, 1851, he married Jemina (Ewing) Clelland. They were the parents of a son, Walter. Jemina died in 1853.

After this tragedy Foster moved to Clay County, Iowa, where he met and married Lucy Reed on May 8, 1855. The couple had ten children, eight of whom lived to adulthood: Festus, Richard, Frank, Lurad, Charles, Guy, Grace, and Eunice. Two children, Alice and Edwin, passed away at a young age and are buried in the cemetery at Osborne, Kansas. In 1856 Foster campaigned with abolitionist John Brown during the border war conflict between anti- and pro-slavery forces in Kansas and Missouri, and was present at the capture of Fort Titus from pro-slavery defenders near Lawrence, Kansas.

With the outbreak of the Civil War Foster moved his family to Nebraska, where he enlisted as a private in the 1st Nebraska Regiment in 1862. When the first black infantry regiments were being formed in the Union army Foster volunteered for the 62nd U.S. Colored Infantry and was commissioned a first lieutenant. The members of the this regiment were not mustered out of service until January 1866 at Fort McIntosh, Texas. Lieutenant Foster later held that he ordered the last shot fired in the war.

During the war many black soldiers had attended classes around the campfires taught by their white officers. At its end Foster entered into a conversation with another officer over the lack of a school in Missouri where the soldiers could continue their education. Foster was then approached to raise money to establish such a school, and from among the men of the 62nd and 65th Colored Infantry Regiments over six thousand dollars was raised. He took the money and attempted to establish the school in St. Louis, but his efforts failed. He then moved to Jefferson City, Missouri, but difficulties continued to plague him. A white Methodist Church refused to house the school because the students were black; then a black Methodist Church turned down the idea because the teacher would be white. Finally Foster found an abandoned schoolhouse that could be used to house the school. His initial response to the structure was not encouraging. “The rains pour through the roof scarcely less than outside. I could throw a dog through the side in twenty places. There is no sign of a window, bench, desk, chair, or table.”
From these humble beginnings Lincoln Institute began in September 1866. Foster was the first administrator–known as the principal–and served until 1870 and then again in early 1872, when he was denied reappointment for not supporting the republican governor for re-election. The school continues into the present day as Lincoln University.

Foster then felt a calling to go into the ministry. He was ordained a minister in the Congregational Church and thought to do his work along the frontier in Kansas, where he also might claim a homestead for his family. On May 16, 1872, he arrived in Osborne and secured a homestead two miles north of the town, and that August he was ordained the pastor of the local Congregational Church. That first summer he also helped to establish churches in Bethany and Corinth Townships in Osborne County and at Smith Center in Smith County. Forging a true Congregational following proved a real challenge amid the constant stream of settlers passing through the region.

The Richard Baxter Foster home as it appeared in 1929. It was located on the divide north of Osborne.

“This county is not yet two years old as far as real settlement is concerned. There are probably 3000 people, most scattered on homesteads . . . There is a great diversity of religious sentiment. In my rounds I have met members of twenty-six denominations–Congregational, Presbyterians, United Presbyterians, Campbellites, Moravian, Methodist Episcopal, Protestant, Methodist, Protestant Episcopal, United Brethren, Lutheran, Dutch Reformed, Universalists, Hicksite Quaker, Jews, Second Advent or Soul Sleepers, Dunkards, Mennonites, Evangelical Association, Baptists, Free Will Baptists, Unitarian, Spiritist, Mormon, and Roman Catholic.” — Reverend Foster in the Home Missionary Magazine, June 1873.

In 1873 a large two-story stone house was erected on the Foster homestead. Standing on top of the divide between Osborne and Portis, the house could be seen for miles and was a local landmark for several decades. In 1874 Reverend Foster served on the five-county area committee that distributed relief aid to rural families devastated by the grasshopper invasion which occurred that summer. Over the next two years he helped to establish churches at Cedarville in Smith County, Stockton in Rooks County, and in Ross Township in Osborne County.

In November 1878 the Osborne Congregational Church dedicated its first frame building, the fourth church structure to be erected in the county. The building is now a private home. Foster remained pastor at Osborne until May 1882, when he left to become a minister in Red Cliff, Colorado, high in the Rocky Mountains. He later returned to Kansas and served at pastorates at Milford and in 1889 at Cheney.

In the spring of 1889 the Oklahoma Territory was organized and Reverend Foster joined the rush of homesteaders into the new region. He settled at Stillwater and there preached the first-ever sermon in the territory, a distinction he was afterwards proud of. He was elected the first Payne County Superintendent of Schools for one two-year term and he organized the first Congregational Church in Stillwater. “His sermons were pithy, epigrammatic, and never more than twenty-five minutes in time of delivery,” recalled one Stillwater church member.

While the shortness of his sermons would have made him a popular figure on its own merits, Foster also possessed the confidence and fortitude that made him a natural leader among his fellow citizens. A good example of this came in 1891 when the territorial governor was to deliver the address dedicating the state agricultural college (now Oklahoma State University) at Stillwater. At the last minute he could not come and the city officials turned to Reverend Foster, who stepped in and gave a fine address that was well received.

In late 1892 Foster organized a Congregational Church at Perkins, Oklahoma. A year later he resigned his pastorate in Stillwater and moved to Perkins. He was granted a degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1893 by Howard University and published three works of literature: Sketch of the History of Lincoln Institute; What is Congregationalism?; and What Do Congregationalists Believe? In 1895 he became the minister at the Congregational Church in Okarche, Oklahoma, and lectured on “Bible and Ecclesiastical History” once a week at nearby Kingfisher College in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

Reverend Foster’s active life finally succumbed to ill health and in 1898 he was forced to retire. He passed away March 30, 1901, and was laid to rest in the Okarche Cemetery.

“He was, in every sense, a pioneer, strong in body, firm in character, and aggressive in spirit. He was capable of enduring hardships and carrying to success anything he undertook, willing to give his time and talent and his life, if need be, for any cause he would espouse. It may be truthfully said that no man who ever lived in this county had more to do with laying the foundation of all that he has made of our history. He was not an orator, but a man of profound scholarship, logical and practical, his earnestness always impressing his hearers with sincerity.” — Robert R. Hays in the Osborne County Farmer, April 18, 1901.

Richard Foster was a soldier, teacher, and pastor. His spirit embodied the vigor prevalent in the early years of Osborne County and he is an admirable selection to the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Tasso Oliver Felix – 1997 Inductee

One of the eminent early physicians of Osborne County was Tasso Oliver Felix.  The son of Henry and Mary (Hanna) Felix, Tasso was bornMarch 21, 1861, in Tippecanoe County, Indiana.  He received his early education in the northwestern part of Missouriand taught rural school there for a time.  He attended both the University of Missouri and Drake University in Iowa before entering theological school in Chicago, Illinois, where he was ordained in the Congregational Church.

Felix served as a pastor in Chicago, then returned to teaching. He taught history at a college in Iowa before becoming superintendent of schools at Kirwin, Kansas.  Felix then entered Marion-Simms College of Medicine (later St. Louis University Medical School) in St. Louis, Missouri, graduating as a general practitioner in 1898.  The next year he spent as an assistant professor of surgery at the school.  In the fall of 1899 Felix moved to Downs and opened a medical practice.  He was one of the famed “horse and buggy” doctors of the era, making house calls in all manner of weather.

While in Kirwin Tasso had met an intriguing lady by the name of Neva Lee Trusdle, the daughter of a local physician.  The couple was married April 14, 1903, in Atchison, Kansas, and made their home inDowns.  They had three children:  Robert, Tasso, and Mary.  The Felix family was an important fixture in the Downs community, and the doings of the children was followed in later years with great pride by the local citizens.

Tasso was a member of the Downs Masonic Lodge, Rotary Club, and the Isis Temple Shrine.  He was a great student of history, particularly religious history, and wrote several newspaper and magazine articles of historical note.  He served his community for forty-two years in his chosen profession before succumbing to asthma December 12, 1941, while visiting his daughter in Denver, Colorado.  He was brought back to Downs for burial in the Downs Cemetery.  The funeral was largely attended and the service conducted with full Masonic honors.

Tasso Oliver Felix, MD

 “Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of T.O. Felix was the breadth of his intellect.  From what I have learned of him from conversations with my father [Robert Felix] and from reading some of his journals he was a renaissance man, a man with deep interests in many areas.  As one can tell from reading his obituary, he was a schoolteacher, a college professor, an ordained minister, and finally a physician.  He did not enter the medical profession until he was in his late thirties.  His contributions as an early ‘horse and buggy’ doctor earned him recognition in his community, and his place in Osborne County history.

My father related to me that T. O. spent many a Kansas blizzard on his medical rounds.  It seemed that babies in particular, picked the most horrendous circumstances in which to arrive.  My father accompanied his father on many of these rural calls as early as the age of five, and learned first hand the skills and sacrifice it took to practice medicine on the prairie ofKansasat the turn of the century.  I have been told that more often than not T. O. was paid in ‘watermelon and cordwood,’ a practice common at the time.  One did not enter medicine in those days to become wealthy.  I have been told that Dr. Felix had quite a large library, somewhat of a rarity in those days.  Though he treasured his books, he would readily lend them out as he highly valued learning, an obvious holdover from his days as a schoolteacher.

It seems that Dr. Felix took his stewardship toward his patients as an almost sacred calling.  But I suppose that was to be expected from a man who had been an ordained minister.  My father related to me that when he was to graduate from the University of Colorado Medical School in 1930 his father was unable to attend.  The senior Dr. Felix, it seemed, had an obstetrical patient who was having a very difficult pregnancy and was near term.  T.O. was unwilling to leave his patient, even for a few days.  As it turned out the patient did deliver during the time that Dr. Felix would have been away, and as was anticipated the delivery was very difficult.  Many years later my father received a phone call from a man who had read an article about him in a local paper.  The man inquired if Dad was the son of T.O. Felix from Downs, Kansas; he then went on to say that he was the baby that had been delivered back in the spring of 1930.  The family never forgot the sacrifice that T.O. had made, and the caller said he felt that he would not have been alive if Dr. Felix had not been in attendance.

It seems that the life of a country doctor was far from easy or profitable, but I do not think any of the individuals practicing medicine at that time in rural areas expected an easy life.  They did the best they could with very little by today’s standards.  My father told me that when he was a teenager he came down with typhoid fever and almost died.  Apparently my grandfather would spend hours by his bed praying and ruing the fact that although he was a doctor he could do little more to save his own son.  Obviously my father survived, but before the advent of modern medicines his survival was credited more to prayer than anything else.  The heartbreak and frustration those early physicians must have felt on a regular basis make them all heroes in my eyes.

I have been told that my grandfather was devoted to his family.  When his wifeNevadied in 1936, he attempted to fight off loneliness by devoting his time to his medical practice and his hobby of writing.  He attempted an extensive theological work he hoped to have published.  He had a deep interest in history as well and one of his early journals talks of the need for a canal to link the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans; this, decades before the Panama Canal.  He was a renaissance man to the end.

The man I never knew who was my grandfather it seems had a truly remarkable life.  Born in a log cabin on Wildcat Creek.  Highly educated, even by today’s standards.  Devoted to his God, his family and his professions of teaching, theology and medicine, he must have been a fascinating man; I wish I could have known him.  As his obituary states:  ‘his standards of morality and manhood were very high.  He gave his life and strength to pursue these to the best of his ability.’  What a fitting summation to the life of a remarkable man who lived in remarkable times.” — Katherine Hoenigman, granddaughter, June 1997.

Scott Thomas Clark – 2001 Inductee

Scott Thomas Clark, son of James Albert and Armelda Vass Clark, was born near Concordia, Kansas, on December 9, 1883, and passed away in Newberg, Oregon, on August 27, 1977, at age 93 years and nine months.

He was the ninth child in a family of 15 children, growing up in the Cherokee Strip area of Oklahoma. He earned a degree at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, and also a Master’s degree at Winona Lake School of Theology in Winona Lake, Indiana. His dedication to the Friends Church and a deep concern for enlarging the Kingdom of God resulted in more than 75 years of service as a Quaker minister, theologian, and educator.

Shortly after receiving the B.A. degree at Friends University, he was invited to Ingersoll, Oklahoma, to teach at Stella Friends Academy, where he met his future wife, Elsie Grace Coppock. They were married on September 10, 1910, and moved to Wichita.  They then accepted the call to pastor the Mt. Ayr Friends Church near Alton, Kansas, from 1914 to 1916.

The Clark family then moved to Haviland, Kansas, where Scott was invited to be president of the extended two-year program at Friends Academy which would focus on training Christian workers and pastors for Kansas Yearly Meeting.

In 1923 the Academy was listed as an accredited secondary school, and in 1930 the name of Kansas Central Bible Training School was changed to Friends Bible College and a four-year course in Bible training was offered.  In 1936 Scott resigned after serving for 18 years as founder and president. He had faithfully guided the young institution through the uncertain beginning years, through the depression years without indebtedness, and had spear-headed the training of pastors, missionaries, and church leaders serving Christ around the world.  During his lifetime Scott taught Theology and Bible at the Colorado Springs Bible Training School; God’s Bible School in Cincinnati, Ohio; returning to Friends Bible College in Haviland, Kansas; and George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon.

Scott’s overall pastoral ministry was remarkable. He pastored at the following Friends Churches: Mt. Ayr near Alton, Kansas (1914-1915); Prairie Flower and Maple near Haviland, Kansas; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Portsmouth, Virginia; Montebello, California; Caldwell, Idaho; and Chehalem Center, Oregon.

Scott was a writer as well as a minister and teacher. During his retirement years he wrote and edited Sunday School materials for the George Fox Press, besides contributing articles to many religious periodicals. His book, The Dynamics of the Gospel, was published in 1972 by Barclay Press.  In his prime years Scott was much in demand across the nation as a revival and camp meeting evangelist and Bible Conference speaker.

During the last months of Scott’s life, he lived in Newberg, Oregon. He died peacefully while in his sleep at the Newberg Care Home on August 27, 1977.  Both Scott and Grace are buried at the Greenleaf Friends Cemetery in Idaho.

Scott Clark will long be remembered as one who excelled in Bible preaching, a man of prayer, one having principles and strong convictions, a man consistent in Christian conduct, frugal in personal habits yet generous in support of the Church which he loved and served during his lifetime.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints.” (Psalm 116:15)