John A. Dillon – 2014 Inductee

On this date, August 19, 2014, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world the third of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2014:


Dr. John A. DillonThe son of 1996 Osborne County Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Alfred C. Dillon and Mary (Shafer) Dillon, John A. Dillon was born December 24, 1872, on the family homestead in Corinth Township of Osborne County, Kansas.   He graduated Osborne, Kansas High School in 1889. After teaching rural school for a year he entered Kansas Medical College, from which he graduated in 1893.

That fall John decided to join the thousands of boomers who wanted to try for homesteads when the Cherokee Strip of northwest Oklahoma was opened to settlement.  The great land rush began at noon on September 16, 1893, with more than 100,000 participants dashing across the southern Kansas state line, hoping to claim land.

“Dr. John Dillon and Frank Leebrick leave today for the [Cherokee] Strip. They are unsettled in their minds as to whether they will stay there.” – Osborne County Farmer newspaper, September 7, 1893.

“Word comes back to Osborne that John Dillon succeeded in establishing his person on a fine quarter section of land in the Strip, Saturday last, and that Frank Leebrick made a good thing by taking a load of provisions into the new country. The rumor circulated on our streets the first of the week to the effect that John Dillon had both legs broken in the mad rush for new homes, was set afloat by some sensational crank. It was a canard.” – Osborne County Farmer newspaper, September 21, 1893.

“John Dillon and Frank Leebrick are on their way home from the Strip, and are expected to reach Osborne today.”  –  Osborne County Farmer newspaper, September 28, 1893.

After his adventure John then served a year as house physician in Christ Hospital at Topeka before becoming a practicing physician together with his father in Osborne.  After three years of this training he entered the Kansas City Dental College and 1900 became an accredited dentist.

In 1901 John moved to Washburn, North Dakota where he served as county health officer while he ran a medical practice.  On May 29, 1901 John returned to Osborne, where he married Margaret Ogden. Together they raised three sons, Ogden, John Jr., and David.

In 1905 John took the opportunity to travel to Europe, where he spent more than a year in post-graduate work in both the London Hospital at London, England, and in Berlin, Germany.  Two years later John returned to the United States and located at Larned, Pawnee County, Kansas, where he opened a medical practice.

In Larned John became a valued member of the community.  He served on the Pawnee County Board of Health, the Larned Library Board of Directors, the Larned City Council, and on committees for the Larned Commercial Club.  John was a stockholder in the First State Bank of Larned and served as a trustee for the Larned Presbyterian Church.  He was affiliated with the Lodge, Chapter, Knight Templar Commandery, and the Wichita Temple of the Mystic Shrine.  John was also a member of the Subordinate Lodge of Odd Fellows, the Great Bend Lodge of Elks, and the Knights of Pythias.

In 1912 John was elected to the first of two two-year terms as Pawnee County Coroner.  Then in 1927 he was appointed chief administrator for the Larned State Mental Hospital, a position that he held until 1944.  The Dillon Building at the hospital bears his name.

The Dillon Building at the Larned State Hospital near Larned, Kansas.
The Dillon Building at the Larned State Hospital near Larned, Kansas.

In 1934 John was given the prestigious honor of being elected a Fellow in the College of American Surgeons.

For years John had been submitting medical stories and anecdotes to the Kansas Medical Journal.  These were gathered together and published as two books, Foibles For the Kansas Doctor (1920) and Doc: Facts, Fables and Foibles (1926).

The following is from the Journal of the American Medical Association, July 30, 1927, Volume 89, No. 5, Page 396:  “Doc: Facts, Fables and Foibles.  By John A. Dillon, M.D. Cloth, Price, $2.  Pp. 168.  Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1926.

“Under the non de plume “RenigAde”, Dr. John A. Dillon for several years has published sketches in the Kansas Medical Journal.  These have been outstanding in their philosophy and in their humor.  Some of them have been republished in part in the Tonic and Sedatives column.  Any physician who wishes to while away a few hours in thorough enjoyment of a revelation of medical foibles will find his money for the purchase of this book exceedingly well spent.  Examples of the humor and epigram of this volume are the following:

“The American College of Surgeons has practically done away with fee-splitting, as it is called.  The result has been that most physicians have felt themselves  called upon to do their own operating and new surgeons are almost as common as filling stations.

“The swell girls you have met through the medium of your friend, the fizz mixer, are also fairly well known around the soft drink palaces and can usually be found running in droves about dish washing time.  They are mostly good girls who quit school in the seventh grade on account of headache.

“The practice of medicine is a jealous mistress and will not tolerate intrigues with golf, baseball nor anything else that tends to divorce affection from the legally adopted spouse.

“No patient with a symptom complex sufficiently grave to call the doctor will accept the services of one whose breath smells like something the cat found under the granary.

“To ask a badly bow-legged man to point the knees toward each other and pivot on his metatarsal would, of course be useless instructions for the reason that we have never known a bow-legged man who knew what pivot was.

“The average golf player can make about the same score with a boat oar and a potato masher as he can with a gunny-sack full of niblicks and stances.”



After his retirement John lived quietly in Larned until his death on December 3, 1951.  A funeral attended by a large gathering followed as John A. Dillon was laid to rest in the Larned Cemetery.


John A. Dillon's tombstone in the Larned Cemetery.
John A. Dillon’s simple tombstone in the Larned Cemetery.


Upon his death the Larned paper had the following to say of John’s passing:

“In the passing of Dr. John A. Dillon Larned has lost one of its foremost citizens, a man who attained full measure of success in his profession, in public service as head of a great institution, and as a citizen or his community, county and state.

“Of Larned’s newer citizens and its younger generation, many were denied the privilege of knowing Dr. Dillon. Since his retirement from the state hospital post nearly six years ago, failing health prevented him from taking his accustomed place in community life.

“But although the youth of the community did not know Dr. Dillon, he never lost touch with the activities and achievements of youth on the athletic field, and in the school room. An ardent devotee of competitive athletics, he followed the progress of the high school teams long after he was unable to attend the games. He always spoke of the high school teams as ‘our boys.’

“The doctor’s associates remember him best for his sense of humor and. his talent for human relationships. He had other talents, which he shared liberally. He loved to sing, his favorite songs were those made famous by the late Harry Lauder. He wrote a book about his experiences as a country doctor that was published long before

Dr. [Arthur] Hertzler developed the same theme. He was a frequent contributor to medical journals, wrote a humorous column for his home town newspaper, and was an active member of church and club.

“A successful man himself, he derived vicarious pleasure and satisfaction in the successes and achievements of others after he was forced to give up active participation.”

SOURCES: Osborne County Farmer newspaper, September 7, 1893, September 21, 1893, September 28, 1893, & June 14, 1934; “Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. …”, Standard Publishing Company, Chicago (1912, pages 359-360); Kansas Department For Aging & Disability Services; Fort Larned Historical Society; Santa Fe Trail Center; Larned State Hospital.


Imri Ray Zumwalt – 2007 Inductee

Imri Ray Zumwalt was born in a sod farmhouse in Corinth Township.  He attended schools in Osborne and Decatur Counties and in 1897 Imri graduated from Clyde, Kansas, High School.  In 1906 he graduated with honors from Washburn College.  While in college Imri was ordained a minister in the Christian Church, serving charges in Arizona and later in Bonner Springs, Kansas.  Following graduation he worked as a news reporter and high school principal.

Following graduation Imri worked for the Topeka Daily Herald and then published the Herington Sun for a year. He then served a year as principal of Herington High School before buying the Bonner Springs Chieftain newspaper in 1909, which he operated for the rest of his life.  In 1916 Imri published a slim, 39-page book of poetry entitled “The Call of the Open Fields.”

The poem “A Thanksgiving Prayer”, from Page 25 of “The Call of the Open Fields.”

In 1919 Imri served as Kansas Assistant State Fire Marshal.  His major public office came that same year when he was appointed Kansas State Printer, the first of three Osborne County citizens to hold that public office in the 20th Century.  In 1920 Imri was elected to a full four-year term as State Printer, and that same year he was named to Who’s Who in America.

At the time of the 1920 general election Imri fell ill and never recovered his health.  He died on May 10, 1921.  Imri’s funeral in Bonner Springs, Kansas is still the largest such event ever held in that city’s history.

The editor of the Osborne County Farmer, Bert Walker, was then appointed by the governor to succeed Imri Zumwalt as Kansas State Printer.  Walker was previously named to the Osborne County Hall of Fame in 1996.


The simple headstone for Imri Zumwalt in the Bonner Springs Cemetery at Bonner Springs, Wyandotte County, Kansas.


Martin M. Mohler – 1996 Inductee / Jacob Christian Mohler – 1997 Inductee


Martin and His Son, Jacob Christian, Each a Secretary of Agriculture in Kansas

Martin M. Mohler.

“One of my prized possessions is a group picture of three young men.  Underneath is inscribed ‘The Second Graduating Class of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois–1861.’  One of these young men was my grandfather, Martin M. Mohler.  Martin was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, on March 20, 1830.  The founder of the Mohlers in this country was Ludwig Mohler, who come to America from Switzerland in August 1730, settling in Pennsylvania.

Martin moved with his parents to Lewistown, Pennsylvania, in 1840 and began teaching school at age seventeen.  After six years he entered the Mount Morris Rock River Seminary for a two-year course of instruction.

He then attended Northwestern University, after which he then returned to Pennsylvania and engaged in teaching at Lewistown High School.  On May 15, 1862, he married Lucinda C. Hoover and the couple had five children.  In 1864 he was appointed Mifflin County Superintendent of Schools to fill a vacancy.  He was reelected to two more terms before stepping down in 1869.  That same year he bought and assumed charge of the Kishacoquilla Seminary until 1871, when failing health induced him to move to Kansas.

Mr. Mohler was interested in politics.  A letter of his reports ‘I attended the National Convention at Chicago, which nominated Abraham Lincoln for President and had the honor of shaking his hand at a reception held in Evanston.’  In June 1871 Mr. Mohler, his wife, and their two-year old daughter, Margaret (my mother) came to Kansas, first stopping in Lawrence, then upon hearing of the Pennsylvania Colony’s settlement in Osborne County, moved west and settled on a half-section homestead in Corinth Township, Osborne County, Kansas.  He improved his land, planting trees, flowers, crops, and surrounding it with hedges.  I shall never forget the stories my grandmother told me about life on a farm in the 1870s.  One day an Indian walked into her home, stuck his hand into a bowl of what he thought was sugar, took a big mouthful, spit out the salt and tramped out muttering ‘Bad, bad squaw.’  Another time my grandfather took his daughter, Margaret, to see the Indians dancing around the campfire.  Suddenly one Indian began chasing her.  Her father called to her to drop her little red shawl.  She did–this is what the Indian wanted.  After this, my mother would always hide under the bed when Indians came to her house, because ‘I wanted to keep my long, black hair.’

This sod dugout in Corinth Township, Osborne County, Kansas, was the home to two future Kansas Agriculture Secretaries in the later 1870s/early 1880s. Father Martin Mohler stands at left while son Jacob Mohler can be seen at far right.

Mohler continued to farm and served as County Treasurer of Osborne County for two terms, from 1878 to l881.  Also during this time, four more children were born:  Laura, Jacob, Frank, and Reuben.  All the children received their early education in District 32, Fairview School, a one-room school built on the corner of the Mohler farm.

Martin Mohler was described as a successful farmer with progressive ideas.  In 1877 he joined the State Agricultural Society, which was later taken under the support of the state.  In 1888 he was chosen to be Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture of Kansas, the first from the western half of the state.  The family moved to a farm southwest of Topeka, Kansas, but later moved to 1611 Mulvane in the College Hill District.  Margaret (Mrs. W. A. Neiswanger) lived next door.  Laura soon married and moved to Califomia but Jacob and Frank attended Washburn University.  At graduation Frank received a Rhodes Scholarship and studied at OxfordUniversity in England.  Later he was in China for years with the Y.M.C.A.  Jacob played on the football, basketball, and tennis teams at Washburn.

During Mr. Mohler’s regime, he felt the methods of Kansas farming required many changes, so he applied himself to the study of soils, seeds, and seasons and suggested improved methods.  The Sixth Biennial Report of the Kansas Board of Agriculture, under Martin Mohler’s direction, was awarded a medal and diploma at the Paris Exposition in 1889 as the best of its kind in the world.

Martin Mohler was a Presbyterian, a Mason, and a member of the Kansas State Historical Society, and the Sons and Daughters of Justice fraternal society.  He retired from his position as Agriculture Secretary in 1894 and passed away March 20, 1903, in Topeka, and was buried in the TopekaCemetery.

Jacob “Jake” Christian Mohler.

Jacob Christian Mohler, son of Martin, was born April 7, 1875, on the family homestead in Corinth Township.  He began working for his father’s successor, F. D. Coburn, in 1892 while attending Washburn.  In 1901 he was promoted to assistant secretary, and when Mr. Coburn retired in 1914, Jacob, always referred to as ‘Jake,’ became the second Mohler to be Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture of Kansas.  It was during Jacob’s early years that the phrase ‘Kansas Grows the Best Wheat in the World’ was coined.  He later was quoted, ‘It’s the wheat that makes us famous but it’s the corn that makes us rich,’ and he dug up statistics to prove it.  Jake, as his father before him, was never known as a desk farmer; he got out with the men of the soil, studied their problems and tried to find a solution.

Jake was married October 30, 1901, to Ruth Pearl McClintock (whose father was a noted surgeon in Kansas) at Topeka.  They had three children:  John, born December 13, l904; James, born November 4, 1907; and Marcia, born June 27, 1916.

Jake was chairman of the State Entomological Commission and editor and compiler of regular publications of the State Board of Agriculture.  During World War I he was secretary of the Kansas Council of Defense, chairman of the U.S. Food Administration, and president of the National Association of Secretaries and Commissioners of Agriculture.  He was director of the Central Trust Company of Topeka and was a member of the Topeka Chamber of Commerce, the Scottish Rite Masons, the Topeka Red Cross, and the Kansas State Historical Society.  In 1933 he was given life membership in the Kansas Illustriana Society.

On January 14, 1948, a tribute to Jake Mohler was presented at the 77th Annual Meeting of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture in Topeka.  An editorial written on the impending program had this to say concerning the Kansas Agriculture Secretary:

‘No artist on earth is capable of reducing the personality of Jake Mohler to a few square feet of canvas.  The imprint of Jake, stamped into the soil of 82,158 square miles of Kansas, is carried in the hearts and minds of several generations of her people.  During all of the long and useful years of his life he has sketched his own portrait, often gaily and always colorfully, and the brush strokes of his service to Kansas have been bold and clear and enduring. No doubt Jake himself would rather be boiled in oil than ‘done’ with it.  But in his heart will be pride and gratitude, and there will be a tear in his eye as Kansas reciprocates with this gesture of affection for the man who has loved this state and has labored for it during more than a half a century.’

W. Laird Dean, distinguished banker and director of the Santa Fe Railroad, said of Jacob Mohler at his tribute:  ‘I take off my hat to him as the man who has done more for the state of Kansas than any man now living and any man of who I know who has passed away.’

In 1950 Jacob Mohler retired after fifty-seven years with the Kansas State Board of Agriculture.  He died January 18, 1953, in Topeka and was laid to rest in the Topeka Cemetery.” — Written by Mary Neiswanger Ihinger in the Bulletin of the Shawnee County (KS) Historical Society (1951; with information added 1997).

Potter West Kenyon – 1996 Inductee

“Potter West Kenyon was born in Athol, Warren County, New York, April 3, 1835.  He was the son of Avery and Polly Kenyon.  His early life was spent in the wilds of northern New York.  He spent some years lumbering and river driving, often working with his clothes wet and frozen on him.  When quite young he wanted to come west, and started to come by way of Canada, but while crossing a big lake a terrible storm arose in which he lost his trunk and all his belongings.  He then went to work for Alvin Williams, who owned a boat on the Erie Canal.  It was there he met his first wife, Miss Martha E. Woodcock, to whom he was married October 15, 1856, in the city of Buffalo, New York.  To this union was born three children:  Miss Harriet Wiltse of Manhattan; Mrs. Anna Bancroft and Martin Kenyon, of Corinth Township [Osborne County, Kansas].  About a year after his marriage Potter was living in Greenfield, Saratoga County, New York, and his father, who had not seen or heard from him since he had left home, learned of his whereaboutsand came to see him.  He induced Potter to move to his home at Schroon Lake, Erie County, New York, where he and his family lived until the Civil War broke out, when Potter enlisted and served three years fighting for his country with Company E of the New York Volunteer Infantry, attaining the rank of sergeant.

After his return from the war he lived on his farm in Greenfield for a while.   He then moved to Palmer Falls, New York, where he was employed in the big pulp and paper mills until the fall of 1870, when with his family he moved to Waterville, Kansas.  In 1871 he moved to Osborne County, homesteading his present place in Corinth Township, and moved on to it.  At that time all of the western half of Kansas was a trackless waste of prairie, covered with a coating of buffalo grass, and inhabited principally by roving herds of buffalo, and while Indians had been removed from the land by the government, the county was still subject to occasional visits by roving bands and for many years was in danger of raids from tribes on the war path.  A number of times after his arrival here the entire population was thrown into a panic by the announcement that the Indians were coming.  On one occasion as Mr. Kenyon with some neighbors were engaged in making sorghum, they noticed a number of wagons and horseback riders, coming at good speed from the west.  They soon discovered that they were settlers from the regions farther on who were fleeing with such of their belongings as they could hastily gather together before the approach of a marauding band of murdering Sioux, who were reported to be only a few miles behind, and it was said in all earnestness and with great excitement by those refugees that the Indians were killing the settlers and burning their belongings as fast as they came to them.  They urged Mr. Kenyon to get his family and a few necessities into a wagon and join in the retreat, but Mr. Kenyon was a man of unflinching courage and he decided at once that he would not budge an inch.  He  was fairly well armed, and made up his mind that if the Indians appeared he would give them the warmest reception they had met with on that trip, and he went quietly on about his work of making sorghum.  The Indians did not appear, and it was afterwards learned that the settlers had been threatened by a false alarm. [In reality the Indians were a small band of Cheyenne, who in October 1878 were passing over a hundred miles to the west and were headed north to their former home in the Dakota Territory after fleeing their reservation to the south in present-day Oklahoma].

A few years ago when Mr. Kenyon’s mind was active and his hand steady enough to write he indited numerous interesting articles for The Downs News, telling many of his experiences in detail.  Some of the articles were copied by the Topeka Capital and the Kansas City Star, and gained wide publicity.  The articles told in a very interesting way of his dealings with Indians and on the buffalo hunts and freighting expeditions that occupied the time of the early pioneers.  He was possessed of rare descriptive powers, and could, had he so desired, have written a book that would have been full of interest to the present generation.

During his long residence in Corinth Township Mr. Kenyon was always active in the politics of his township and the county and state, and was a man of powerful influence.  He never seemed to care for office holding himself, but he was aways vitally interested in pushing the claims of men who were clean and capable for office.  He was outspoken and uncompromising in his beliefs and preferences, and if a man failed to come up to his standard of right living and capability, Mr. Kenyon did not fear nor fail to tell him so in unmistakable terms.  He loved the right with all the force of his being, and hated the wrong with equal intenseness.  No man of questionable character and no measure of doubtful purport could enlist his support for an instant.  He was straightforward, honest, conscientious and fearless in his daily life, and his influence was always on the side of what he believed to be the right.  These characteristics naturally placed him in a position of prominence in political affairs, not only in his own immediate community, but in the entire county.

In religious and social affairs he was always a leader, and no movement for the betterment of his community ever lagged because of his inactivity and lack of support.  If it was to accomplish good he gave his influence and his money freely toward it, and his support was never half hearted, but earnest and whole souled.  Mr. Kenyon was a great lover of music, and in his younger days was a fine singer.  For many years he led the singing at all the religious gatherings of his community.  Of late years he had not taken such an active part, leaving that to the younger generation, but the Sunday just prior to his death he attended services at the Corinth schoolhouse, and it was remarked by many of his relatives and friends that he joined in singing all of the hymns with more of his old time spirit than he had done in many years.  Several times after returning to his home he mentioned to his wife the services of the afternoon and how he had enjoyed them.  He was taken with his final illness that same night, and that Sunday proved to be  his last on earth.  He died early the following Wednesday morning, September 2, 1914.

Mr. Kenyon’s wife died April 5, 1902, and on October 31st of that year he was united in marriage to Mrs. Sarah J. Earls, of Erie, New York, the latter being a sister of his first wife.  Besides his wife and three children, Mr. Kenyon leaves one brother, N. W. Kenyon, of Tonganoxie, Kansas, who is now the sole survivor of the family.  He formerly lived in Corinth Township, being a resident there for twenty-three years before moving to Tonganoxie.  He arrived last Wednesday too late to see his brother alive, but was privileged to attend the funeral services.   With these Mr. Kenyon leaves three stepchildren, J. H. Earls, Mrs. A. W. Murphy and Mrs. F. E. Heath.

Funeral services were held at the home in Corinth Township, Friday morning at 10:00 o’clock; conducted by Reverend Charles M. Good of the Congregational Church, who spoke touchingly of the useful life and powerful influence for good of the deceased.  The body was laid to rest in the Corinth Cemetery, which he helped to plot and lay out, and which through his influence and that of other progressive citizens of that community, has been improved and beautified from year to year.  The services at the grave were in charge of the Grand Army of the Republic, the beautiful ritualistic service being read by Commander Jackson and Captain Robert Maxwell.  The pall bearers were from the ranks of the G.A.R. and were as follows:  H. C. Lockridge, Robert Maxwell,  A. Jackson, R. A. Henderson, John A. Garey and Harlow Judson.  The services were attended by an immense throng of old neighbors and friends, people coming from Osborne, Downs, Cawker City, and from all parts of the surrounding country to pay their last tribute of respect to their departed friend.  The remains were laid to rest in the family lot in Corinth Cemetery.” — The Downs (KS) News, September 10, 1914.

Pioneer Stories of Indians and Buffalo

The year before I came to my present home there were many roving bands of the blood thirsty Cheyenne Indians here.  A party of eight neighbors of my father, who lived near Waterville in Marshall County, went on a buffalo hunt west of White Rock.  My father was to make one of the party, but was taken suddenly very sick with a bilious attack.  The party waited over one day for him, out as he got no better they left him.  The game was very plentiful and they soon loaded their wagons with meat and started for home.  The party camped the first night on White Rock Creek, eight miles above Scandia.  Some of the party were in favor of driving on to Scandia that night, but their teams being well fagged out it was decided to camp out at the mouth of the creek until morning.  They had observed during the day at different times, horsemen away off on the hills; some of the party thought they were Indians, but as they only saw one at a time and they themselves being armed and fearless, they felt no uneasiness in going into camp so near a considerable town.  They were careless and didn’t have a guard to give alarm in case of an attack.  Just as daylight began to dawn they were awakened by a bloodcurdling yell of a large band of the red devils on ponies and firing at everyone t hat showed his head.  One of the party, a Mr. McChesney, had wakened just before the dash was made and being thirsty had gone to a little spring of water to get a drink, and when the dash was made dropped down in a little bunch of weeds and was not observed by the redskins, but could see from where he lay the murder of his party by the blood thirsty devils, and Mr. McChesney was the only one of the party that escaped.  The horses and things that the redskins wanted were taken away and the wagons were burned with their contents.  Mr. McChesney states that one of the Indians came to the spring to drink and was so near him that he could have laid his hand on him, and he thought his time had come, but to his surprise be went away without noticing him.  Mr. McChesney had no signs of gray about his hair when he left home, and when he returned his hair was as white as the snow.  He died two years ago where he was residing at Waldo, Russell County.

Now this was the kind of civilization that existed when we cast our lot in the midst of the great American desert.  We had many hair raising scares, but we managed to hold our hair all almost by a miracle.  In the summer of 1871 my brother and his wife and daughter lived in a little shack about 40 rods west of us.  One evening about 5 o’clock one of those black storms that were so frequent that summer, were so frequent that summer, came up suddenly from the northwest and became so dark that we could hardly distinguish objects ten rods away.  My brother had gone about five miles away to get a load of rock, and had not returned yet.  In looking out at the storm I saw an object coming toward me.  It was his wife half stooping forward with a gun in each hand and the little girl in front of her and coming as fast as she could get the little girl along, and she was crying.  She said there were more than 300 Indians just west of her house in the ravine and some of them were on horses and some on foot coming as fast as they could run and that Dr. Dillon had seen them and had hid in the tall grass.  I took the guns and told her and my wife to run to the river as fast as they could and hide, and I would stay and fight.  I got my guns out by the corner of the house and took my stand with a resolve that some of the red devils were very near death’s door.  I only had to wait two or three minutes, when I saw some object coming on a run and I drew a bead on the foremost one with my seven shooter and was only waiting until he was near enough to make a sure death hit, when I discovered the object wore a boiled shirt and that caused me to hesitate a little, when I discovered it was a white man and there were two others with him.  When they saw my stack of guns out there they wanted to ‘know what it meant.  I asked them where the Indians were.  They said that they had not seen any Indians.  I asked them what they were running for.  They said to find a place of shelter from the storm.  I gave a loud whistle as a signal to the folks to come back; so you see how fear will transform three white men that were out land hunting into 300 Indians.

A short time after the above episode, along about noon a nice herd of buffalo came close by our shack, but we were not prepared to take any of them in as they were on a stampede, and got out of reach before we could get our gun.  My brother and Simon Heath got their guns and followed after them on foot thinking the herd would slow up or stop to feed when they got over their fright, but I hitched the team to the lumber wagon and took my gun and followed the trail.  I soon ran into a pair of old bulls and they charged me before I got near enough to shoot, so I was compelled to beat a hasty retreat as I could not bring one down when his head was toward me; I must get at the side to have any show of bringing one down, and then I didn’t dare stop to shoot when the two of them were chasing me, for if I should be fortunate enough to get one the other would get me, for it was all the team could do to keep clear of them when the brutes would turn and charge us.  I finally got them separated and soon after brought one of them down.  Simon Heath heard shooting and came to me and we had a time trying to cut the old fellow’s throat, as we had only our pocket knives and we could not cut a hole through the thick skin with them, so we shot a ball into his throat, and in that way could get a pocket knife into the hole and cut a big vein.  I had a stone rack on the wagon and as the buffalo lay on a steep hillside with his back downward we ran the wagon up on the other side and took the wheels off and thought we could roll him over into the rack.  We got hold of his legs and lifted until we could see stars and could not turn the old fellow off his back so we had to go find help and before we could get back it had got dark, and as there were no roads it was hard to tell where you were at, but we found the game and proceeded with our hunting knives to cut the meat off the bones.  The skins were worthless at that time of the year (July) so we did not care to save the hide. We had lanterns.  The place where we were did not look to me like the spot where my animal was so I told the others to stay where they were while I looked around to satisfy myself that we were all right.  I had not gone far until I found another buffalo – the one that I had killed – but a few rods from where we had dissected one, so we stripped the meat from that one which gave us a pretty good load of meat.  The next day I was in Cawker City when some men came in from the west where they had gone to cut the meat from a buffalo that one of them had killed the day before, but the meat was gone.

While we were out on that hunt our families had an exciting time.  Shortly after we had gone, a large herd of about 500 buffaloes appeared coming over the hills south directly toward our settlement and were mistaken for Indians, and there was but one man left in the settlement and no guns but a shot gun that this old man owned. He lived in a dugout about a mile away, so the folks took the children and ran for the old man’s dugout as fast as they could go, but as the buffalo came nearer so they could discern what they were they all breathed easier.  The worst scare was in September 1876, when the Indians broke from the reservation in the Indian Territory and came through Kansas on their raid north.  A messenger was sent over this way to warn the people to be on their guard as they were murdering and destroying everything in their track.  I had a half dozen hired hands engaged in making molasses at that time and the first we heard of the raid, a woman living seven miles west of us came down the road on a run, her clothes dripping with perspiration, covered with dust and was crying. When she came into the house she dropped down from exhaustion and for a time unable to speak, but soon told a hair lifting story.  She said there were three million Indians just west of Osborne and they were murdering everybody that they could find and burning everything, that all the men in Osborne had gone out with their guns to try and keep them back until the women and children could get away and they were all making for Beloit.  She wanted the folks to have us hitch up our teams and get out for there was not one minute to spare.

My wife came out to where I was at work to tell me about it and wanted to know what I thought about it, I told her that I had two or three dozen barrels of molasses and I would stay and fight for it, and if they came around me I would douse them with hot molasses.  She told the woman that I didn’t seem to be much scared.

“Well,” she said, “you had better go, and if he is fool enough to stay and get scalped let him go.”  She said it was time enough for her to go when her husband got ready.  At that the woman struck out on the run again for safety.

In a few minutes we saw up the road a cloud of dust rising in the air and soon heard the rumble of wagons that sounded like bedlam let loose and soon they began to come in sight, all kinds of vehicles filled with frightened humanity covered with dirt and dust, their horses on a run, covered with foam and dirt.  Some were nearly ready to drop from exhaustion.  The road was full of them all of that day and night.  I confess that I did feel a little shaky at times, but kept right on making sorghum.  It gives me the creeps now to think about it.  I could tell more about buffalo and Indians, but I guess I had better stop. – P. W. Kenyon, Osborne County Farmer, March 22, 1906.

Selah Burlingame Farwell – 1996 Inductee

One of the most respected men in early Osborne County history was Selah Burlingame Farwell.  Farwell was born in Denmark, Lewis County, New York, on August 26, 1841.  The son of Selah andNancy(Plank) Farwell, he moved with his parents in April 1857 to Whiteside, Illinois, where he was the schoolteacher during the winter of 1860-61.  During the Civil War Farwell enlisted as a private in Company A of the 33rd Illinois Infantry.  He was captured and held in a Confederate prison in Mississippi until February 1864, when he was paroled and sent home.

After discharge from the army Selah went to Ames, Story County, Iowa, and engaged in the mercantile business.  On June 11, 1867, he married Nancy L. Ware.  They had nine children: Lena, Gue, Roy, Mable, Grace, Clay, Edwin, Nancy, and Selah.  On November 15, 1869, Selah closed his business and the Farwells moved to Waterville, Kansas, and the next year they moved again, this time to a homestead in Corinth Township of Osborne County.  Selah divided his time between farming and serving in public office.  In 1872 he was elected Osborne County’s first coroner.  He served two terms as county probate judge in 1873 and 1874, and was the county’s representative in the Kansas Legislature in 1875-76 for two terms.

In 1874 Farwell started the first Masonic organization in the county.  Saqui Lodge, Number 160, was begun in Osborne with Farwell serving as the first Worshipful Master.  He remained a member for sixty years.  Selah was also a member of the Knights of Pythias and the G.A.R.  In 1881 he moved his family into Osborne to further his children’s schooling, and in 1884 he was elected to the first of two terms as Osborne County Register of Deeds.  For years he owned and operated the oldest lumberyard in Osborne before he sold it to the Hardman Lumber Company in 1903.  He held the position of president of the bank in Lucas, Kansas, for five years.  By 1914 he was in the loan business, specializing in farm loans, and owned some eighteen hundred acres of land scattered across Osborne County.  A deeply religious man, Selah was an active member of the Congregational Church for over fifty years.

Selah’s wife died in 1905.  OnMay 28, 1907, he married Mattie (Ludlow) Smith of Downs.  She died in June of 1910.  On October 15th of that year he married Lucy (Ware) Hullinger, a half-sister of his first wife.  The couple lived comfortably in their home in Osborne until Selah’s death on May 11, 1934, after which he was buried with honors in the Osborne Cemetery.

Alfred C. Dillon – 1996 Inductee

Osborne County through the years has been blessed with a large number of doctors who gave long years of dedicated service to their communities and throughout the county.  One of the earliest to practice his profession was Alfred C. Dillon.  Alfred was born October 11, 1844, in Warren, Trumball County, Ohio.  He was a Civil War veteran having served in Company G of the 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  He married Mary Shafer at Austinburg, Ohio, on June 6, 1866, and soon after entered medical college.  The Dillons had five children: Alberta, Nellie, John, Emma, and Harry.

The Dillon family arrived in Osborne, County,Kansas, the same day that the town of Osborne was founded, May 1, 1871.  They settled on a homestead in Corinth Township.  Dillon supplemented his professional income over the next thirty years working his farm, which he reluctantly gave up in 1901.  Part of the farm land was donated in 1875 to become the Corinth Cemetery, much to the detriment of son John, whose school mates often kidded him about his father being a country doctor with a private cemetery on his farm.

Dillon attended to patients over a radius of fifty miles for over fifty years.  He was always ready and willing to go, no matter what the distance or the weather.  The trip in those days was made astride a sturdy horse or in an open buckboard, and more times without pay as with.  He had a well-known driving horse, named “Old Dec” that accompanied the good doctor on his rounds for nearly twenty-four years until the animal’s death in 1912.

“[Dr. Dillon] has called upon his patients living in the dugout, the old sod shanty, the frame house and the modern home of today.  His patients came to him in pony-drawn carts, then [in] the road wagon, and as those who stayed and developed the country were blessed with prosperity, now come in carriages drawn by splendid teams or the modern car.

Dr. Dillon has always been interested in the growth and development and showed his faith in the future of Osborne by erecting a two-story building; 30 X 100 feet, the first building of cement construction in the city.  The first floor of this building is used by a clothing store, the second story being used for the offices of Dr. Dillon and his son, Dr. [Harry] Dillon, each using one-half.  Dr. Dillon has nicely appointed rooms; his consultation room is equipped with an X-ray machine and other modern devices found in a well-equipped office of a general practitioner.” — Osborne County News, February 10, 1916.

Between 1874 and 1891 Dr. Alfred Dillon served five terms as Osborne County Coroner.  He moved his family into Osborne in 1887 and was a respected voice in civic affairs.  In 1905 he was featured in the book Men of Kansas.  He died June 2, 1923, at his home in Osborne and was buried in the Osborne Cemetery.