William Henry Mize certainly helped put Osborne County on the map in its early days. William was born March 28, 1846, in Proctor, Owlsley County, Kentucky, to William and Caroline (Jacobs) Mize. There he grew to manhood and in 1861 he enlisted in the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. Once he was captured by a unit of Confederate soldiers, which included some of his cousins. “It’s good to see you, Willie,” one of them told him, “but not in the company you keep.”
After being mustered out of service at the war’s end William moved to Kansas. At Junction City he met and married Louisa Ann Panton on January 3, 1872. They had five children, William, Walter, Granville, Mabel, and Ethel. In 1882 William relocated his family to Osborne, Kansas, where his parents had already settled. The Mizes first bought a farm southwest of town but soon moved into Osborne and rented out the farm.
Early in life William became a member of the Methodist Church and upon his arrival in Osborne he became a valuable layman in the church there. He is credited with rebuilding and thus saving the history of the church’s early years after the original records were lost in a fire. He worked as a farmer and later in Osborne he became an insurance agent and land speculator. One of his passions was writing. While many of his manuscripts never saw publication some did; the most notable was Gold, Grace, and Glory, which was published August 8, 1896, by G. W. Dillingham Publishers of New York, New York. The novel tells the tale of Methodist Church youth and their social lives as they traveled to various points in the Osborne County area.
From 1903 through 1906 William served two terms as Osborne County Clerk. His deputy was his daughter Mabel. But he achieved his greatest fame as a loyal and accomplished member of the Masonic fraternal organizations. At this point in time membership in the ancient Masonic movement was highly prized and essential for furthering any careers in business or politics. The local Masonic Lodge was often the catalyst for new ideas and needed improvements in the smaller towns and cities across America. William Mize joined the Masons in 1868 and remained a member for fifty-two years, carrying over his membership wherever he later moved to. He joined Saqui Lodge, Number 160, in Osborne in 1884 and rose to the highest positions available within the Masonic fraternity ever achieved by an Osborne County citizen. He advanced in all degrees except the Scottish Rite, and only failed there because in his time the rite could only be conferred upon a candidate in Scotland itself. William served every office and capacity and three times served as Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council of Kansas, the head of all Masonic activities in the state. The DeMolay Lodge for Masonic Youth in Osborne was founded by Mize and was later renamed for him. His influence in Masonic matters reached beyond Kansas across the Midwest and in doing so further enhanced Osborne County as a notable place to live and work.
William Mize died April 12, 1920, in Osborne. An elaborate Masonic ceremony accompanied this most distinguished Mason to his final resting place in the Osborne Cemetery.
A farmer, stockman, and businessman, Olan Charles “O.C.” McFadden had his roots in the Natoma, Kansas area, where he was born on December 23, 1908 to Charles and Elsie (Smith) McFadden. When a child his family moved to Graham County, Kansas, and as a young man he served as a page at the state legislature while his father was a member of the Kansas House of Representatives. Olan attended secondary school in Morland, Kansas and graduated high school there as school valedictorian in 1927. Though he received a football scholarship to Kearney State College in Nebraska, he returned to help his father farm because he didn’t care for the college social life.
Myra Beryl Crist was born August 17, 1911 southeast of Osborne and was the daughter of Jess and Mildred Crist. Beryl attended school in Hoxie, Kansas and married Olan Charles McFadden in Morland on April 20, 1930. Their children were Carl Paul and Sandra Kay. During the early 1930s Olan hauled furniture for those moving out of Graham County.
In 1935 O.C. moved his family to Osborne. They had only one truck at the time with which to start a trucking business and lived in very humble surroundings. But over time O.C. slowly built up the business and at one point he had three tractor-trailers and drivers working for him. A major source of income was buying and hauled hogs to packing plants in Topeka and Kansas City. This job ended with the 1959 flood that destroyed the packing houses. Farming then became McFadden’s main source of income, with land ownership in four counties. He usually had a herd of cattle on pasture being fattened for market. When his hired hands reached retirement age McFadden leased his land to younger farmers.
O.C. had memberships in the Osborne United Methodist Church, Rotary Club, Good Sam Club and the National Motor Coach Association. He served as city councilman and mayor of Osborne, and as a United Methodist Church trustee. Over the years O.C. and his wife Beryl gave large sums of money in the Osborne area for a new baseball complex, community golf course, airport runway, the Osborne Methodist Church, and more than $300,000 to the new Osborne Public Library in 1995. From all accounts he had more fun giving his wealth away than he did making it. O.C. had a great sense of humor and the story is told of how after the library was built he would come in daily and sit under his portrait just to see if people would recognize him.
O.C.’s trademarks were his hat and checkered shirt. He was involved in singing tenor in a barbershop quartet, taking ball teams to games, motor boating, traveling, hunting, skeet shooting, pool and cards. O.C. was also a well-known square dance caller and teacher throughout northcentral Kansas and Nebraska.
Beryl died April 15, 1999 and was buried in the Osborne Cemetery. O.C. lasted nearly three more years, passing away on January 6, 2002 in Osborne. He was laid to rest next to his beloved Beryl in the Osborne Cemetery. In September 2002 the majority of his money was used to found the McFadden Charitable Trust, designed to benefit all of Osborne County into the future. By 2010 the Trust’s assets amounted to more than $4,000,000, with annual contributions across the county of over $300,000, and is one of the largest trusts of its kind in the state of Kansas.
The lives of William Wallace (also known as “W. W.” or Mac”) and Nellie Mae (Wagner) McDaneld were deeply rooted in Osborne County. Wallace, the oldest of the three children of Ira and Anna (Eastman) McDaneld, was born August 3, 1907, near Bloomington in Tilden Township, Osborne County, Kansas. He was named after the great Scot, William Wallace. The family moved to Victor Township in 1908 and in 1909 moved to a dairy farm which Wallace’s father named “Lone Pine Dairy Farm;” however, the “pine” may have been a cedar.
The third of eight children in the Frank and Altena (Bradshaw) Wagner family, Nellie was born on a farm in Victor Township on September 7, 1906. Except for four years spent near Arriba, Colorado, where her father homesteaded, Nellie grew up in Victor Township.
The Victor School and Church of the Brethren were fundamental in their lives. Wallace and Nellie attended Victor Rural School District Number 64 and Covert High School, graduating in 1926 and 1925. Both families attended the Victor Church of the Brethren. Nellie’s father served as the minister and probably influenced Wallace’s decision to be a minister. Wallace’s mother taught Sunday School classes, and Wallace and Nellie were involved in youth programs.
Following graduation, Nellie worked for several area families and in Waldo, Kansas stores. Wallace worked on threshing crews and on the family dairy farm. They married August 15, 1928, in Victor Township. In 1929, they moved to McPherson, Kansas, where Wallace attended the Church of the Brethren college. Poor eye sight kept Nellie from furthering her education. The depression years interrupted Wallace’s education after two years, and Wallace and Nellie returned to Osborne County where Wallace pursued a teaching career which spanned thirty years. Except for a few years when he taught in Decatur and Smith Counties, Wallace taught in the Osborne County rural schools of Victor, Valley View, Potterville and Portis, teaching in Portis from 1939 until 1962.
In the early 1950s the state required upgraded teaching certificates and Wallace returned to McPherson College during summer sessions, receiving his education degree in 1956. It was a family joke that he had been a college junior for twenty-five years.
Wallace was licensed to preach by the Victor church in 1928, and in 1937 accepted a call to minister at the North Solomon Church of the Brethren in Portis. The family was living in Victor Township where Wallace was teaching and traveled to Portis for services. Wallace served the church until 1962. For the next ten years, Wallace served as a substitute pastor in many churches in Osborne and surrounding counties until 1972 when he returned to the Portis church and served there until his death. Nellie was involved in various church activities and played the piano for many years. Wallace and Nellie moved to Portis in 1938 and purchased a house on the hill (Goat Hill, as Wallace named it) in 1943. Their four children–Donald, Arthur, Shirley and Sharon–grew up there. The house was the forerunner of the “food bank”–who might be coming for dinner was anyone’s guess, as transients were sent or simply found their way up the hill. Nellie took great pleasure in preparing the house for private weddings and the guest room was often occupied with visiting church leaders. Wallace became Osborne County Superintendent of Schools in 1962, a position he held until the state abolished the office in 1969. Continuing in government, Wallace became Osborne County Register of Deeds in 1969 and retired from that office in 1981.
The accomplishments Wallace and Nellie enjoyed can be credited to teamwork. They were so attuned that it is impossible to write about one without the other. As Wallace ministered to those who were in need, ill, grieving or in distress, and Nellie was always there lending support. For the classes Wallace taught and Nellie was a self-proclaimed “room mother”. She would fix holiday desserts and treats, load them into a picnic basket and head for the school. With the family grown, Nellie became a “working girl” assisting Wallace in the County Superintendent office. Nellie retired when the office closed, but soon came out of retirement and joined Wallace in the Register of Deeds office. The time in the Register of Deeds office presented an opportunity for Nellie to research and document the history of Osborne County families, schools and churches in Covert and Portis, and helped to compile histories on the towns of Covert and Portis. Nellie was known as the “Bell Lady” for her bell collection. She acquired over four hundred bells and often presented programs for organizations. Wallace had a forty-year collection of sermons which were titled and categorized.
Nellie died December 30, 1985, in the family home at Portis. Wallace passed away a short time later on April 19 1986, in Salina, Kansas. Both are buried in the Osborne Cemetery. Wallace and Nellie were active participants in the school, community and church. Wallace served on the city council and various boards and committees, such as the State Textbook Committee and the local ministerial committee. Nellie was involved in YWCA, Ladies Aid, PTA, and the Portis Christian Women’s Association. They may not have made headlines, but they made an impact on those they met through their active involvement. They were considered trustworthy and they bestowed and received great respect.
After their deaths, the children and grandchildren kept the Portis home as a family gathering place. The family also acquired the North Solomon Church of the Brethren to be used for family gatherings and family church services.
One of the few Osborne County citizens to achieve state office in Kansas was William Henry McBride. A son of the Reverend Henry and Christina (Thrushy) McBride, William was born May 22, 1842, in Summit County, Ohio. He was educated at the Greensburg (Ohio) Seminary and with the beginning of the Civil War he enlisted in October 1861 in Company I of the 76th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served in the Army of the Tennessee and was wounded in the assault on Arkansas Post, Arkansas, on January 11, 1863, and received his discharge July 21, 1865, at Columbus, Ohio. On August 29, 1865, he married Aurelia L. Fisher at Georgetown, Ohio. They had two children, Frank and Minnie.
After the wedding the McBrides moved to Iowa. They first lived in Ottumwa, Iowa, and then after six years they settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa. During these years in Iowa William engaged in the mercantile business and spent much of his spare time studying law. On October 1, 1871, the family arrived in Kirwin, Phillips County, Kansas. William worked for two years as editor of the Kirwin Chief newspaper and continued in the mercantile business. In October 1877 he was admitted to the Phillips County bar and entered into the law firm of May and McBride in Kirwin. Six years later he gained the Republican nomination for the Phillips County Representative to the Kansas legislature. The ensuing campaign proved a lively and spirited contest.
“Last Thursday evening at the courthouse was the joint discussion upon the political issues of the day, between W. H. McBride, the Republican candidate, and G. M. Finch, the Greenback candidate, for Representative. A large audience was present. Mr. Finch no doubt did the best he could . . . he frothed a little as he pranced upon the bit for a few moments, and then settling back upon his haunches, he snorted forth the words f-r-a-u-d a-n-d c-o-r-r-u-p-t-i-o-n and then collapsed. Mr. McBride is a merciful man, and did not wish to chew him entirely up into mincemeat, yet, when he quit, his opponent was terribly mangled. It was easy for the audience to see who would best serve them in the legislature.
“McBride is well posted, is a fine speaker and has a strong vigorous nature. He will be heard, and don’t you forget it, in the legislature, while Finch, to say the least, is a weak sister, and his——-but as he will soon demise politically, we will draw the veil of charity.” — Phillipsburg Herald, November 1, 1883.
McBride was duly elected and served a two-year term in the Kansas House of Representatives. Afterwards he moved to Osborne, Kansas, and practiced law there. He also served as one of the directors of the state penitentiary and in January 1891 he was appointed Superintendent of Insurance of Kansas by Kansas Governor Lyman Humphrey. In January 1893 he left this office and returned to his law practice in Osborne. Seven years later the McBrides moved to Fergus Falls, Minnesota, where he engaged in a land and farm loan business. William was a longtime member of both the Masonic Lodge and the Grand Army of the Republic and was elected mayor of Fergus Falls.
In his later years William and his wife partitioned their time between their home in Fergus Falls and visiting their daughter in Sterling, Kansas. After Aurelia McBride’s death in 1920 William made his home in Sterling and died there on November 17, 1922. He was buried beside his wife in Sterling’s Cottonwood Cemetery.
The third of seven children, Charles Elliott Mann was born February 9, 1870, on a homestead near Blue Springs in Gage County, Nebraska. The son of the Reverend Henry and Maria (Minard) Mann, Charles was six years old when the family moved from Nebraska to Eastland, Texas. There his father took charge of the Methodist Church while Charles attended the local schools, graduating from Belle Plaine College. At the age of eighteen he went to work in the print shop of the Eastland Review. The next year the Mann family moved to Norton, Kansas, where Charles went to work for the local newspapers. He then worked for papers in Oberlin and Phillipsburg, Kansas, and at Gering, Nebraska. At Gering he met and married Ethel Lovell on April 24, 1901. They had three children, Janice, Stuart, and Charles.
In 1905 Mann came to Downs. In partnership with William Ransom he bought the Downs News. Eleven years later they acquired the rival Downs Times and merged the two weeklies. Man and Ransom’s partnership lasted a total of fifteen years, until Mann left in 1920 to become editor of the Osborne County Farmer.
A staunch Republican, Mann was elected Osborne County’s representative to the Kansas Legislature in 1918. Re-elected to a second term, Mann also served as Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives in 1923. Five years later he returned to the legislature as a state senator, serving two terms.
As editor of the Farmer Mann exerted influence across the state. He was a brilliant and talented writer whose column Down Near the Short Grass Roots was widely quoted. Mann was deeply interested in the history and traditions of Osborne County and did much to preserve the stories of the early days of the county. He was a member of the National Editorial Association and of the Rotary Club, Masonic Lodge, and Order of the Eastern Star in Osborne. In 1933 he was granted life membership in the Kansas Illustriana Society.
Mann’s first wife died in 1925. On September 28, 1927, Charles married again, this time to Laura (Booz) Smith, a widow with two children, Lola and Cyril. Mann continued as editor of the Farmer until 1942, when he stepped down after 23 years. In 1948 Mann moved to Topeka and served on the public relations staffs of Governors Frank Carlson and Edward Arn until his retirement.
“I remember him as a quiet, understated man, full of dignity, who was never happier than sitting back in a chair spinning stories for a small, appreciative audience . . . [He had] a keen sense of humor. He used to joke that he always voted for the best candidate – it wasn’t his fault if those were Republicans.” – Marilyn Mann, granddaughter.
Charles Elliott Mann passed away January 19, 1958, in Topeka and was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery. His death was marked and lamented far and wide across Kansas and Kansas House Resolution 15 was passed in his memory.
ORIGINAL MOTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS
House Resolution No. 15–Resolution Relating to the death of Charles E. Mann
“WHEREAS, Charles E. Mann, former member of the House of Representatives, and former Senator, departed this life January 19, 1958, in Topeka, Kansas, at the age of 87 years; and
“WHEREAS, Charles E. Mann was born February 9, 1870, in Blue Springs, Nebraska. He edited the Downs News from 1905 until 1920, and later was editor of the Osborne County Farmer for twenty-three years. He was a brilliant and talented writer and his column Down Near the Short Grass Roots was widely quoted in papers all over the state. Mr. Mann was vitally interested in the history and traditions of Osborne County. He moved to Topeka in 1948 to serve on the public relations staff of Gov. Frank Carlson and Gov. Ed Arn until he retired. Mr. Mann is survived by his widow, one daughter and one son, six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and one sister. He was a member of the Lowman Memorial Church of Topeka the Masonic Lodge, Order of the Eastern Star and the Rotary Club in Osborne. He served in the House of Representatives from the 84th district during the 1919 and 1921 regular sessions, and the 1919 and 1920 special sessions of the Legislature; and as Senator from the 34th district during the 1929 and 1931 regular sessions and the 1930 special session of the Legislature; and was speaker of the House in 1923; and
“WHEREAS, In the death of the said Charles E. Mann, his community and the state have suffered a great loss: Now, therefore
“Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Kansas: That we extend to the surviving relatives of said Charles E. Mann, our sincere sympathy; and
“Be it further resolved: That the chief clerk of the House of Representatives be directed to send an enrolled copy of this resolution to each of the following-named relatives: His widow, Mrs. Laura Mann, 1278 College Avenue, Topeka, Kansas; his daughter, Mrs. Janice Newhouse, c/o Mrs. Laura Mann, 1278 College Avenue, Topeka, Kansas; his son, Dick Mann, 1116 Washburn Avenue, Topeka, Kansas; and his sister, Mrs. Anna Ritter, Phillipsburg, Kansas.” — JOURNAL OF THE HOUSE, January 27, 1958.
One of the more nationally known and respected attorneys of his time was born July 23, 1876, in the log cabin post office at Bethany (Portis), Osborne County, Kansas. Fred Ephriam Lindley was the son of Joseph and Lavina (Laman) Lindley. He attended school in Bethany and helped with the work on the family farm. When he was seventeen Fred became a schoolteacher and farmer, teaching at area one-room rural schools and in larger towns over the next eleven years. He spent the 1896-97 school year as a student at Emporia (Kansas) State Normal School and from 1905 through 1909 he served as principal of the high school in Gove, Kansas.
On June 20, 1909, Fred married Alma Laura Ise in Lawrence, Kansas. The couple had four children, Laura, Edward, Mary, and Ruth. After their marriage Fred and Alma moved to Chicago, Illinois, where Fred enrolled in the University of Chicago Law School. He graduated in 1911 and opened a practice in Chicago. After a year there Fred moved his family to San Diego, California, where Fred formed a law partnership with a former law school classmate, Robert Hamilton, that lasted twenty-five years. They supplemented their income those first years by operating an evening law school adjacent to their own offices, which lasted until World War I and the depletion of their student body forced it to close.
Following World War I Fred helped organize the Law Institute of San Diego, one of the first incorporated bar associations in the United States. In 1919 he was elected to a two-year term in the California State Assembly, where he sponsored and supported legislation making formal legal training mandatory for practicing attorneys, a concept that was soon adopted across the country. He helped organize the State Bar of California, serving later on the Committee of Bar Examiners and as a member of the Bar’s board of governors. He became a member of the San Diego County Probation Committee and assisted in the development of new detention centers in the county. In 1939 Fred became president of the San Diego County Farm Bureau.
Fred maintained a citrus ranch near Escondido, California, and he soon became a specialist in agricultural law and marketing cooperatives. He served on several San Diego County Cooperative Sunkist associations and as a legal advisor to many agricultural cooperative corporations during the 1930s and 1940s. He became a director of the Security Trust and Savings Bank in San Diego and was board chairman after 1945. In the 1940s Fred held a membership on the San Diego Board of Education for ten years, and served as its president in 1948.
Fred celebrated his eightieth birthday in 1956 and officially retired from active practice after forty-five years as an attorney. He continued to be busy with memberships in the Elks Lodge, Masonic Lodge, the San Diego Farm Bureau, and the San Diego Athletic Club. He helped to form Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego during the 1950s and he remained a senior partner of the law firm of Lindley, Scales, and Patton until he stepped down in 1967. Two years later the American Bar Association honored him not only for his fifty years of membership but also for his lifelong efforts to improve professional standards in the legal field. His impact on California and San Diego County can be seen from the eleven books published between 1919 and 1955 that contain biographical sketches of this prominent citizen.
Fred Lindley died December 21, 1971, in San Diego, where his remains were cremated and placed in the Greenwood Mausoleum there. Osborne County can be proud of the accomplishments of this native son.
“There were three great types in the West: Buffalo Bill, hunter and scout; Wild Bill Hickock, gunman; and Buffalo Jones, the preserver, who brought living things wherever he went.” – Zane Grey.
Considered one of the most celebrated characters of his time, Charles Jesse “Buffalo” Jones was born January 31, 1844, in Money Township, McLean County, Illinois. He was the third of twelve children born to Noah and Jane (Munden) Jones on the family farm, where Abraham Lincoln was a frequent visitor and family friend. For the first seventeen years of his life Charles helped with the farm work. In 1862 he entered Illinois Wesleyan University, but typhoid fever forced him to give up his studies after two years. He thought to try his luck out West and so in 1866 he found himself in Troy, Kansas.
At Troy Charles started a nursery and built a stone house. On January 20, 1869, he was married at Troy to Martha J. Walton. Their union produced six children, four of whom are known: Charles, William, Jessie, and Olive. While living in Troy, Charles took his first trip out to the buffalo range to hunt the American bison. Intrigued by the great beasts and the money to be earned for their hides, he moved his family west in order to be closer to the range. On January 1, 1872, the Jones family arrived in Osborne County, Kansas, settling on a homestead in Section 19 of Tilden Township.
Anybody Know Him?
“The Kansas City Times of October 7th contained a three-column writeup of Charles J. Jones, known to the world as ‘Buffalo’ Jones. Jones died in Topeka some two weeks ago. The articles says . . . Jones came to Kansas in 1866, going first to Doniphan County, but four years later settled on a claim in Osborne County, his home standing on the South Fork of the Solomon River . . . If ‘Buffalo’ Jones ever lived in Osborne County the editor of the Farmer never heard of it . . . If any of the old-timers know anything about ‘Buffalo’ Jones ever having lived here they will help out on a historical question by speaking up right now. If Osborne County was ever the home of so famous a character as ‘Buffalo’ Jones the county is entitled to the honor and credit of it.” — Osborne County Farmer, October 16, 1919.
Yes, He Lived Here
“The Farmer’s article last week asking if anyone knew ‘Buffalo’ Jones when he lived in Osborne County soon brought forth conclusive proof that he was once a resident of Osborne County . . . C. A. Kalbfleisch, who now lives over at Harlan, writes us as follows regarding the Jones affair: ‘I noticed your article in the Farmer of even date in regards to ‘Buffalo’ Jones and can tell you exactly where his homestead was. It is located one mile south and one and a quarter west of Bloomington in TildenTownship. In 1900 I bought this place from D. A. Rowles and among the papers turned over to me was the original patent from the government, dated, I think, 1874, and signed by U. S. Grant, president, to Charles J. Jones. I talked at the time with Frank Stafford and he said this was ‘Buffalo’ Jones . . . .’
L. F. Storer of BethanyTownship tells us he knew ‘Buffalo’ Jones well. Jones taught a Sunday School class in Doniphan County and Mr. Storer was one of his pupils. He says Jones used to visit at the home of his father frequently and they were intimate friends. Jones was not much of a hunter here, but he did a lot of lassoing of buffalo. He trained several of them to work as oxen.
J. E. Hahn is another who remembers Jones well. Ed says his father often told him in later years of one of Jones’ hobbies. He claimed to have the plans and a marked map of the place where a great fortune was buried in one of the Sandwich Islands [Hawaii]. He wanted J. W. Hahn to go with him and secure the treasure. Jones, with all of his traveling in later years, evidently had forgotten all about that fortune, as history does not mention that he ever visited the Sandwich Islands.
John J. and Robert R. Hays knew ‘Buffalo’ Jones very well. John says Jones came here from Troy, Doniphan County, in 1872 and stayed here, he thinks, three or four years. His family was here that long, but after a year Jones used to be away a great deal on hunting trips or some other line of business. John says he was a good-natured fellow and very likable, but also very visionary.” — OsborneCounty Farmer, October 23, 1919.
In Osborne County Jones divided his time between hunting and farming. He started a nursery and served as Tilden Township’s justice of the peace. In 1874 Jones was appointed Osborne County Undersheriff. Often he was away on long hunting trips, where he learned by necessity the science and art of scouting. On the range they began to call him “Buffalo” Jones (though never to his face) to differentiate him from “Dirty-Face” Jones and “Wrong Wheel” Jones, who were both also on the range. In 1876 Jones had sold the homestead and settled his family in Sterling, Kansas. Three years later he became one of the four founders of Garden City, Kansas, where Jones started a ranch and proceeded to make his mark on the community. He was soon referred to as “Colonel” Jones, because, as he later put it in his autobiography, it was “the title awarded in the Old West when a man reached a certain level of popular esteem.” This may indeed be the case, as it was Jones who convinced the Santa Fe Railroad to establish a station at Garden City, and it was Jones who in 1885 completed a stone courthouse and presented it and the surrounding block to the county as a gift. He also served as the town’s first mayor and as Finney County’s first representative to the Kansas Legislature, where he worked alongside Hiram Bull, representative for Osborne County. Jones predicted Bull’s death by an angry tamed elk.
“A tame wild animal is the most dangerous of beasts. My old friend, Dick Rock, a great hunter and guide out of Idaho, laughed at my advice and got killed by one of his three-year-old bulls. I told him they knew him just well enough to kill him, and they did.
Same with General Hiram Bull, a member of the Kansas Legislature, and two cowboys who went into a corral to tie up a tame elk at the wrong time . . . They had not studied animals as I had. That tame elk killed all of them . . . You see, a wild animal must learn to respect a man.” — Buffalo Jones in his autobiography Buffalo Jones: Forty Years of Adventure (1899).
By 1886 Jones had realized that the wholesale slaughter of the buffalo would lead to their eventual extinction and regretted his role in it. Between 1886 and 1889 he made four trips to the Texas panhandle to capture buffalo calves and turn them loose on his ranch. Within three years he had assembled a herd of over one hundred and fifty animals; at the time the only other herd left in the continental United States was sheltered in Yellowstone National Park – a herd of only two hundred and fifty head. In 1901 the two herds were merged, and from this new herd are descended most of the American bison in existence today. Jones also purchased other private herds, including one from Canada that caused considerable controversy. His exploits earned him a world-wide reputation and he was hailed everywhere as the Preserver of the American Bison. In 1890 he started a second ranch near McCook, Nebraska, on which part of his enlarged herd were protected. While some critics denounced his capturing buffalo as hastening their end forever as wild animals, he always defended himself by pointing out that if he did not do it, then the buffalo hunters would – and they would do all they could not to keep them alive. In 1891 Jones made a trip to England with ten full grown buffalo. The animals were not entirely sure about the idea of traveling on ship, but in the end they were delivered to the London Zoological Gardens and Jones became the talk of Europe after he presented the Prince of Wales with a magnificent buffalo robe.
But with all this activity Jones had overextended his dwindling finances and he lost everything in the end, including both ranches. His family went back to Troy to live with his in-laws while he sought to reestablish himself. In 1893 Jones made the Cherokee Strip run to Oklahoma Territory and secured land near Perry. He then became sergeant-at-arms of the Oklahoma Legislature. After a while he was reported to be on the Gulf Coast of Texas, promoting a railroad from Beaumont to Fort Bolivar on Galveston Bay. Then he hit on a new scheme that once again brought him national attention – he would lead an expedition into the Arctic Circle that would lasso and capture musk oxen and bring them back alive; something that had never been achieved before.
On June 12, 1897, he set out. At Fort Smith on the Slave River in Alberta, Canada, he took on a partner, John Shea, a Scotch trapper and trader, and attempted to locate and snare the wild oxen. But blizzards and other rough weather thwarted his plans; in the end they did manage to capture five calves, but the local Indians slit their throats for a native ritual. The discouraged partners gave up the whole venture and Jones started on the way back home. The following year he briefly joined the Alaska Gold Rush. His partner Shea went on to Dawson in the Yukon Territory while Jones thought it was high time to get back to his family and boarding a steamer set sail for Seattle and the United States.
Jones reunited with his family back in Troy on October 8, 1898, after five years of separation. With Colonel Henry Inman he penned his autobiography, Buffalo Jones: Forty Years of Adventure, which appeared in print in 1899. In July 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him game warden of Yellowstone National Park, a position he held until September 1905 when he resigned in a dispute with the U.S. Army, who were then in charge of the Park. The next year he established a ranch along the northern rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona Territory. He had once before tried to cross domestic cattle with the buffalo, which he dubbed “the cattalo,” and had failed, and here he tried again. But the cattalo never became popular. It was also here that a dentist from New York City, Zane Grey, visited Jones in the spring of 1907 in hopes that his health would improve. Together they roped and relocated mountain lions and Grey wrote his first book, Last of the Plainsmen, with Jones as the hero.
“Buffalo Jones was great in all those remarkable qualities common to the men who opened up the West. Courage, endurance, determination, hardihood, were developed in him to the highest degree. No doubt something of Buffalo Jones crept unconsciously into all the great fiction characters I have created.” — Zane Grey.
In 1910 Jones made his first trip to Africa to rope wild animals. A silent film and lecture tour on the trip were national sensations and his previous exploits were also given much publicity. Four years later, at the age of seventy, Jones made a second trip to Africa, this time to rope and capture gorillas. On this trip Jones contracted jungle fever and suffered a severe heart attack. His health never recovered and he spent his last years in Topeka, Kansas, where he died October 2, 1919.
Charles “Buffalo” Jones was buried in the family plot in the Valley View Cemetery at Garden City. He never fitted in with the stereotype of the westerner found in dime novels or in movies and television – he did not gamble or use coffee, tea, tobacco, or liquor – and so his legendary life has faded from the American consciousness. In 1982 his successful preservation efforts to save the American bison earned him a posthumous induction into the National Buffalo Association’s Buffalo Hall of Fame. His character, courage, and indomitable spirit as a child of the American West has also earned him a permanent place in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.