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.”
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.
Anna J. (Frazer) Winslow was born near Thorntown, Boone County, Indiana, on 5th day of 2nd month, 1848. The daughter of Alson and Hannah Frazer, Anna married Josiah W. Winslow on the 13th day of 10th month, 1864, in Henry County, Iowa. The Winslow family settled in Mount Ayr Township, Osborne County, in 1873. Anna was a lifelong Quaker minister who for nearly 40 years spread the gospel as an evangelist from North Carolina to Ohio to Kansas to Oregon, all while raising five children. She moved to El Modeno, California, on 7th month, 21st, 1907, and passed away at Huntington Park, California, on 2nd month, 21st, 1918. Anna wrote her autobiography, “Jewels From My Casket,” which details her life’s work, in 1910.
“I was born near Thorntown, Boone County, Indiana, on the 5th day of 2nd mouth, 1848. My father, Alson G. Frazer, son of Henry and Mary (Otwell) Frazer; and my mother, Hannah (Rees) Frazer, daughter of Zachariah and Mary (Davis) Rees of Westfield, Indiana, were members of Sugar Plain monthly meeting of the Society of Friends, near Thorntown, Indiana. My father was one who helped to build the meeting house at that place. When I was four years of age my darling little brother, Elwood, twenty-two months old, died; and in a few months my dear mother passed away. They were laid away in the ivy-covered cemetery by a spreading beech tree, near Sugar Plain meeting house.” –
“I was a mischievous school girl and usually of a lively disposition and enjoyed the pleasures of school life very much, notwithstanding my occasional loneliness. The hardest thing for me to give up was my school life, which occurred when, on the 13th day of 10th month, 1864, I was united in marriage with Josiah W. Winslow at Cedar Creek meeting in Henry County, Iowa, according to the order of the Society of Friends, my father having removed to Iowa when I was nearly six years old. About fourteen months after I was married, my loved father died; he had pneumonia which ended with brain fever. One evening I took him some crackers, and he put his arms around me and said: ‘O, Anna, thou hast always been so good to me, and always been an obedient child.’ O how glad I was that he could say that! These words were the last rational words he ever spoke to me, for in a few moments he was shrieking with pain and was delirious with fever. Although I had a home of my own, I felt I had lost a good friend and counselor by his death, for he had of then advised me in the right way. We had been married about one and a half years when our Orestes Alson was added to the family.” – The above two paragraphs were takenfrom Jewels From My Casket, pages 19-20.
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HIS PRESENCE IN OUR MIDST blog
The Life and Times of Glendora Friends Church
Monday, 10th month, 13th, 2008
Anna J. Winslow
The other day my mother sent an email inquiring about a book by Quaker minister Anna J. Winslow titled Jewels From My Casket, published in 1910 by the Nazarene Publishing Company of Los Angeles. The only information she gave was that the book “was given to W. C. Gindlesberger” (my Great Grandfather on my mother’s side) and that Anna was originally from Indiana and the book mentions El Modena, a Quaker colony in Orange County, California. Mom knew she was a Quaker minister but not much else. Great Grandfather Gindlesberger was a student at the Training School for Christian Workers in Huntington Park, California at the same time Anna J. Winslow lived there, around 1915-1916. It is quite possible he acquired the book then, perhaps given to him by the author herself.
UNOFFICIAL ANNA J. WINSLOW GENEALOGY
With this information and too much time on my hands I began my internet search. One source, Pioneer Memories of the Santa Ana Valley, Vol. VIII, by Maureen McClintock Richard (October 1988) notes that Anna was born to Alson G. Frazer (the family dropped the “i” some time before) and Hannah Rees near Thorntown, Boone County, Indiana. Anna married a Quaker named Josiah White Winslow at Cedar Creek Meeting in Henry County, Iowa. Josiah was born in Grant County, Indiana. Josiah’s father was Nathan Matthew Winslow, born 15th day of 9th month, 1804 in Randolph City, North Carolina.
From Pioneer Memories: Hannah Reese was the daughter of Zacharia and Mary (Davis) Rees of Westfield, Indiana. Alson was the son of Henry and Mary (Utwell) Frazer. Hannah Rees Frazer died when Anna was about five years old. Her father married, secondly, Mary M. Hockett.
Anna J. Winslow became a Quaker minister. In her book, Jewels From My Casket, she tells about leaving her family of four children to preach in some distant place, like another state. Seemingly her absence was accepted by her husband and family. Besides daughter Geneva, the children were: Urestus Alson, Julius, Matthew, Philander, Zacharia and Lida Anna Winslow.
Anna J. Winslow came to do evangelical work in California in the summer of 1907 in the annual meeting [California Yearly Meeting]. She took up the pastoral work at El Modena on the 21st of 8th Month and resigned at the end of 1908. The family bought property in El Modena at the time. The little Quaker church still stands on Chapman Avenue near Hewes in El Modena. [El Modena Friends Church is a local city of Orange, CA historical landmark which was restored by a family and turned into a restaurant.]
The noted Quaker historian Thomas D. Hamm cites Anna J. Winslow’s book, Jewels From My Casket, as a source for his book The Transformation of American Quakerism: Orthodox Friends, 1800-1907. Hamm notes on page 102, under a section titled The Revivalists: “While the revivalists of the 1870s remained prominent, a number of younger ministers also came into prominence during the 1880s. Most having been born in the 1840s or 1850s, they came largely from solid Quaker backgrounds. Among the most important were . . . Anna J. Winslow in Iowa and Kansas.”
Anna J. and Josiah W. Winslow are listed in the 1880 census as residents of Mount Ayr, Osborne County, Kansas. Anna’s occupation was listed as “Keeping House.” In the Book of Meetings By Society of Friends (1884) Anna’s name is mentioned under “List of Ministers” (p. 206): “Mt. Ayr Quarter . . . Anna J. Winslow, Mt. Ayr, Osborn County, Kansas.”
“Anna J. Winslow from Kansas” is noted in the 1885 Friends Review as having attended North Carolina Yearly Meeting. The Review includes the following: “At this time Catherine Osborne and Anna Winslow paid a visit to men’s meeting. The burden of their exercise seemed to be, exhorting husbands to make a way for their companions to attend to all their religious duties, and to encourage them in every way to be faithful in attending to whatever service the Master may call them into. Many hearts were glad of this visit, and the stirring appeals of these faithful handmaidens will not soon be forgotten, or lightly passed by.”
Anna next appears in the 1910 California Yearly Meeting of Friends Church minutes as living in El Modena, Orange County, California. In the 1915 minute book she is listed as “Anna J. Winslow, Huntington Park [California, near downtown Los Angeles]. In the 1917 minutes she is listed as “Anna J. Winslow, 125 N. Templeton St., Huntington Park.”
Finally, in the 1918 Minutes of California Yearly Meeting of Friends Church (pages 119-121), Anna’s memorial is given: Anna Jane Winslow, daughter of Alson G. and Hanna Frazer, was born in Thorntown, Indiana on the 5th of 2nd month, 1848. Her mother died when Anna was nearly five years of age, and though Anna was provided for in her father’s home, she, for years afterward, felt her loneliness, and was often much depressed by it. Her mother had given her to Jesus, and to this fact Anna often attributed much of the tender Divine care and precious guidance to which she bore a feeling testimony in her later life.
In 10th month, 1864, she united in marriage with Josiah White Winslow of Henry County, Iowa. A few years later than this through the faithful ministry of Amos Kenworthy, she was led to seek and find pardon of sin through faith in Jesus Christ. Soon after her conversion she was quite clearly led to the belief that she should preach the Gospel. She shrank from this as being quite incapable of so important a service, and vacillated in her Christian experience for some time, but at length consented with her whole heart to what she was assured was God’s call. Her narrative of the influence of well known Friends toward her confirmation and establishment in the will of God, is full of interest.
Her subsequent life was marked to the close with an earnest and unceasing desire for the salvation of others. She answered many a loving call of her Heavenly Father to service quite remote from her home and under circumstances, many time, of peculiar difficulty. She traveled in the ministry quite extensively in Kansas, which for many years was her home, in Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon and elsewhere; and her ministry was marked with the Divine guidance which comes only to those who are walking closely with God in a life of prayer. The account which she gives of special providence is deeply interesting. When her means for traveling were exhausted, and she knew not how to proceed, the means often came through the persons who had no outward knowledge of her circumstances.
Her life was often imperiled by exposure and fatigue. At many times she was prostrated by sickness; sometimes when on her journeys in the service of the Lord; but even then her firm faith in her Heavenly Father, and her composure, her freedom from anxiety, was in itself a ministry for good to many souls.
She was often engaged in holding meetings of her own appointment, or in conjunction with other ministers; and wherever she labored, she left behind her precious evidences of the Divine presence and guidance in her labors. Though not educated, in the popular sense of that word, Anna Winslow gave abundant evidence of church experience in the school of Christ. The will of God respecting the time, place and character of her service, was generally made very clear to her in advance, as she was not want to allow any reasonings of own or other minds, to turn her aside from what was to her a call of the Lord.
The last few years of life she was in very feeble health and a great sufferer, but even then her habitual cheerfulness, especially in the presence of God’s children, or of those whom she sought to bring to a knowledge of Him, was blest to those who called at her home. About twenty months before her decease she met a painful accident on her way to attend the Yearly Meeting at Whittier, California. She had then been for a few years a resident of this state and for a time pastor of the friends Meeting at El Modena. Her home was in Huntington Park. Though very feeble, she was brought to the Yearly Meeting House by private conveyance, and after alighting, made a misstep, fell, and received injuries from which she never recovered. During the long weary months that followed, she lay nearly the whole time in one position, suffering not only the greatest inconvenience, but nearly all of the time much pain. Numerous friends from various parts of the country, visited her during this long shut-in period; and rarely if ever did anyone come away without a sense of having been blest in spirit by her evident rest and joy in the Lord, the power of grace wonderfully triumphing over the suffering of the flesh. Those who knew her best have questioned whether the ministry of those last months may not have been the most fruitful of here entire life.
On the 21st of 2nd month, 1918, she fell asleep in Jesus. Of her it may be safely said that though she rests from her labors her works do follow her. The memory of her heaven-sent messages and her godly life will continue to bless not only her family, but hundreds, perhaps thousands of those who have come under her influence.
To her it was given to show the world that a faithful follower of Jesus, though with limited education, limited means, a feeble and ofttimes suffering body, may accomplish a fruitful ministry in the salvation of sinners and the sanctification of believers, the great object for which our Lord sends forth His own into the world.
Her funeral was held in the Friends place of worship, in Huntington Park, the services being conducted by Eli Reece, acting pastor of Friends Church of Huntington Park. The interment was in the Whittier Cemetery.
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In 2008 Anna’s autobiography Jewels From My Casket was reprinted by Ad Astra Publishing LLC as part of their Hall of Fame series.
Hilland Homer Stewart was born on a farm near Harlan in Smith County, Kansas, on March 17, 1906. At the age of two he moved with his parents, Lewis and Perle (Brumbaugh) Stewart, to Graham County, Kansas. He received his early schooling there and graduated from Palco High School in 1925. Hilland spent two years at Fort Hays State College before returning to Graham County, where he worked as a grocery clerk. In the 1930s Hilland entered the Denver [Colorado] Bible Institute, from which he graduated in 1937. He remained at the school as an instructor and was ordained a minister in 1940. From 1941 to 1945 he was managing editor and Sunday School Expositor for the Institute’s monthly magazine, Grace and Truth.
The Reverend Stewart married Myrtle Lewis on August 17, 1941, in Lakewood, Colorado. The couple raised three children–Constance, Samuel, and Sue. Hilland completed his education at Sterling College in Kansas and at Wheaton College in Illinois, and also spent a term teaching classes at Harlan High School. From 1947 through 1980 he served as pastor at churches in Cedar and Harlan in Smith County, Kansas; at the Bethany Baptist and Pleasant View Churches and in Hunter, all in Mitchell County; in Luray and at Amherst Church in Russell County; and at the Cheyenne, Rose Valley, and Grace Brethren Churches in Osborne County. When he was called to be pastor of the Grace Brethren Church in Portis, Kansas, in 1947 he reached a special goal–that of following in the footsteps of his grandfather, David Brumbaugh, a early-day circuit-riding minister from that church.
In 1947 the Stewarts bought the equipment and shop of the defunct Portis Independent newspaper and established Stewart Publishers, a Christian publishing operation. Hilland had learned the printer’s trade while in college and ran the Linotype himself. In later years he performed the same task for the Osborne County Farmer. Stewart Publishers printed Bible studies and other religious material, including Hilland’s book Life in Full Color, which was widely distributed. But the principal product was the Mighty Mite Bible, a miniature-sized booklet designed for youngsters attending Christian Youth Camps. First published in 1967, thousands of copies of the Mighty Mite Bible were sold all across the United States over the next two decades. A fire in 1985 destroyed the print shop and Hilland had to take the printing business for the Mighty Mite Bible to other area printers.
Hilland was also interested in photography and prepared thousands of slides for use in illustrating Biblical teachings. He wrote many articles on religious topics, several of which appeared in The Christian Victory, a nationally-circulated journal. In the 1960s he was named to Who’s Who in the Midwest. Reverend Stewart passed away on February 2, 1995, and was laid to rest in the Hammond Cemetery near Harlan, Kansas.
The tombstone of Reverend Hilland Stewart in the Hammond Cemetery, Harlan Township, Smith County, Kansas.
The annals of Osborne County history cite many individuals of exceptional ability. Few, however, can match the versatile Calvin Reasoner. Clergyman, newspaper editor and reporter, attorney, author, judge and politician, Reasoner left his impression on the early history of Osborne County and rightfully takes his place in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.
Calvin was born May 13, 1837, in Adamsville, Muskingum County, Ohio. He was the sixth of eleven children born to Jacob and Nancy (Hill) Reasoner. Little is known of his early life, other than that he was a college graduate with several degrees of merit, including Doctor of Laws. On March 8, 1863, Calvin married Venetia Shearer in Jackson County, Ohio. Together they raised four daughters, May, Florence, Clara, and Elsie.
After their marriage the Reasoners moved west to Leavenworth, Kansas, where from 1864 to 1869 Reasoner was pastor of the First Christian Church. In 1870 he moved his family west again, this time settling in Tilden Township in Osborne County, Kansas. There Calvin joined with others and founded the town of Arlington. To insure the stability of the new town he and his partner Frank Thompson opened a general store, and in 1871 Calvin became the town’s first postmaster.
It was on the steps of Reasoner and Thompson’s general store that the organization of Osborne County took place on May 27, 1871. Much to Calvin’s consternation. however, Osborne City was selected the temporary county seat and not Arlington. To champion Arlington’s cause, the first newspaper in the county, the Osborne County Express, appeared with Calvin Reasoner as editor. The county seat contest was spirited, but in the third and final election held in November 1872 Osborne City garnered 267 votes to Arlington’s 214 and dashed its supporters’ hopes forever. The Arlington post office was discontinued and the town quickly faded away.
Calvin accepted defeat graciously and moved his family to Osborne City, where he opened a successful law practice and real estate business. He served as editor of the Osborne Times newspaper in 1873 and was elected mayor of Osborne in 1881. In 1873-74 he served both as the county representative to the Kansas Legislature and on the board of trustees of the Kansas Institute for Education of the Blind. In 1876 he compiled the newspaper series Historical Sketches of Osborne County in which was preserved much of the history of the county’s first five years.
In 1881 the Reasoners divorced. Calvin then married Ellen Jillson on December 16, 1882, in Massachusetts. This marriage also ended in divorce four years later. By 1888 Reasoner was working in Washington, D.C., as a special correspondent for the Topeka Daily Capital. The 1890s saw Calvin move to Utah, where he served as a probate judge in Ogden and wrote influential political articles urging less state government control by the Mormon Church. In 1896 his self-published book, Church and State: The Issue of Civil and Religious Liberty in Utah, influenced many Utah legislators in writing that state’s constitution.
Calvin Reasoner later lived in Warrensburg, New York, and in Sanford, Florida, where he lived with relatives. He died there December 6, 1911, and was laid to rest in Sanford’s Lakeview Cemetery. To date there is no known photograph of Calvin.
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Selections From “HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF OSBORNE COUNTY”
by Calvin Reasoner
“Introduction: Since the announcement a few weeks ago that an effort would be made to preserve a record of the historical details incident to the earliest settlement of our county there has been a commendable interest manifested in the mater by a number of our most intelligent citizens, and we can promise you a series of articles in which the most important historical matters can be preserved. Let it be noted, however that in this series we will endeavor to follow no particular method whereby a systematic presentation would be secured. Some articles will be furnished to us entire and will be published as presented and due credit be given to each contributor. When the whole is spread upon the record, however scattering, it will not be difficult to systematize and put in proper shape. – C. R.
The first item we shall mention is the pecuniary condition of the early settlers in general. It is no disgrace to those who came first into our county to say that the majority of them were very poor in this world’s goods, however blessed they might feel to be in their hopes of another and better life. At the present, after half a dozen years of settlement, but few are well circumstanced. Few have more than the barest necessities of life. A very limited number have the comforts of life and scarcely any are able to afford the luxuries.
It must be expected that a majority of the settlers in a new country, and especially in a homestead country, will be poor. Before the homestead law was enacted lands were often sold to the highest bidder and men of capital as well as those of moderate means would purchase lands. The wealthy would buy large tracts and hold them for a rise in prices through settlement and the poor would buy each a farm for a home. It was consequently by the improvements of the poor that speculators would get an advance on their lands. But in a homestead country no man can get more that a small amount of land and in order to hold that he must live upon it. Thus a man of wealth can scarcely invest his means until lands begin to change hands. Some capital may be invested in the purchase and sale of goods, but even this kind of business is very much limited by the general destitution.
The markets . . . so far as there were any, were very remote from the settlers of our county–as they are still–but in 1870 and 1871 there was very little produced for sale, even if there had been a good market. The principal staple was buffalo meat, and this was carried down the Solomon [River] valley as far as Solomon City [110 miles away] or sometimes to Junction City [160 miles], both places being trading points. Buffalo meat was carried in wagons, sometimes in the raw state, and frequently it would be dried. The latter would sell at from six to ten cents per pound and the former at from three to six. Occasionally prices would vary from these figures but these were about the average. The employment was therefore better than nothing and it was all that was available at the time. Hence a great many of the settlers in 1870, 1871, and 1872 became of necessity buffalo hunters.
Let us draw a picture which has often been verified in our past history. Here comes a covered wagon slowly moving up the road which was recently merely a buffalo hunters’ trail. There are two persons walking and a boy driving. Inside you notice, as the team approaches, that there are women and children; also bedding, boxes, tools and traps of various kinds; a shovel and a broom stick out behind and a small chicken coop hangs on at the rear. The little cavalcade halts in our presence and inquires for vacant lands. They want to get ‘timber and water.’ You tell them that there is plenty of vacant land with timber and water at a certain point and then inquire how far they have come. Well they have driven some two or three hundred miles in search of a home and now they have got to their destination and they feel like laying the foundations of a new home. They don’t feel discouraged by the entire newness of the country but indicate a determination to make the best of it. They drive on to the place indicated and soon take hold on the surroundings and show they are able to take advantage of everything that offers in the building up of a new home.
You visit them in few weeks and find that they have used timber enough to build them a comfortable house capable of withstanding the winds, the heat and the rains. They are breaking some ground and planting corn in the sod. If the season is favorable they will get some ten or fifteen bushels per acre of sod corn and this will suffice to feed the team and perhaps a cow; and if it be not far to mill some of it will be ground for bread. If there are no mills the corn can be parched or boiled. I have known families to live all winter on little else than boiled corn and thankful to get even that meager supply. If the season should fail to be one that would produce corn our settler will have hard times. They have no money, perhaps. Probably they did not bring five dollars into the country with them. Some brought considerable money and soon consumed it in living expenses and then were quite destitute.
What then must our poor family do? There is no work that will bring any remuneration. How many poor settlers a few years ago contemplated life from this unhappy standpoint. If the settler could get to haul a load of goods or freight of any king for a merchant or anybody else this would be of help; anything he could turn his hand to. In this state of things it was very convenient to turn buffalo hunter, and for two purposes–one to supply the family with food, the other to have something for market to supply other things.
The year 1870 was tolerably good for wheat in the lower part of the Solomon valley, where it had begun to settle up and be cultivated, but it was dry through June and July. In the vicinity probably corn would not have made more than half a crop. Rains began early in August and continued through the fall. All through the early part of the summer hot winds prevailed. Some of the rains in the latter part of the season were exceeding heavy, so that the ground in many places was flooded with water. During the latter part of this year 1870 Mr. [Frank] Stafford settled with his mother and her family on Little Medicine Creek near the mouth. About the same time Baronet Gow, Will Garrison and Joseph Hart settled there, and these were the pioneers on Little Medicine. They were soon joined by Wiley Wilson and others. The winter was remarkably mild and pleasant and very favorable for the maintenance of stock without grain. Gow had two yoke of oxen and had no grain to feed them, but they lived through and came out in the spring in good order, having had nothing but buffalo grass to subsist on.
Gow was a great devotee of the ‘weed.’ He had been out about a month and was severely punished for want of it when he succeeded in getting half a dollar and came out post haste down the valley to the writer’s store to get tobacco–I should have said ‘tobaker.’ His chagrin can scarcely be imagined when he got to the store and found that he had lost his money. His words fell thick and fast and most of them indicated that he had been brought up under some of the numerous forms of orthodox religion. A caddy of bright navy seemed to intensify his disappointment. On being handed an immense plug his dental outfit set to work in good earnest as though the making of ‘amber’ was the chief end of man and to expectorate it around the height of human happiness. It was not expected at the time that the plug would ever be paid for but it was and hundreds of dollars more within the next two years by this same honest, hardy, good-natured Baronet Gow. Mr. Frank Stafford was one of the first three commissioners appointed by the governor and was subsequently elected to the same office by the popular vote. He still resides in single blessedness on Little Medicine.” — Osborne County Farmer, March 3, 1876, and July 7, 1876.
Combmaker, book canvasser, lumberman, brickmaker, military veteran, Congregational minister, stonemason, politician. All these were the trades of Russell Scott Osborn, born July 3, 1833, at Margaretville, Delaware County, New York. As a young man Osborn moved to Harvey County, Illinois. There he met and married Sabrina Letitia McKinley, a cousin of President William McKinley, on February 14, 1857. Russell and Sabrina had eight children – Nettie, Ella, Nathan, Catherine, Oscar, Carl, Charles and Katie.
With the start of the Civil War, Osborn enlisted in Company C of the 17th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He then re-enlisted in Company F of the 140th Illinois Infantry, being discharged in December 1864 with the rank of captain. In 1865 he moved his family to Story County, Iowa, where Osborn engaged in the nursery business. During their stay here he was ordained a minister in the Congregational Church.
On August 7, 1872, the Osborn family came to Kansas and settled on a homestead located four miles west of Bull City in Sumner Township, Osborne County. They lived on the homestead for the next twenty years. Osborn supplemented his farming income by working as a stonemason. He built the Ash Rock Church in northwest RooksCounty, the First Congregational Church in Stockton, the Alton stone mill, and several stone houses in the vicinity, including his own.
As a Congregational minister, Osborn helped organize churches at Ash Rock in Rooks County, New Harmony in southern Smith County, and at Mount Ayr in Osborne County. He was appointed Assistant Superintendent of Congregational Churches in Western Kansas. Osborn preached wherever he went, and from 1890 to 1892 he served as minister of the First Congregational Church in Stockton.
Osborn had considered himself a Republican in political matters, but when he was about 60 years old he became involved in the Farmers’ Alliance Movement in an attempt to help the plight of farmers during a financially depressed era. With the rise of the Populist Party in 1890 Osborn and many other Kansans switched sides. In 1892 Captain Osborn became Kansas Secretary of State on the Populist Party ticket. His career as a politician found him involved in the infamous Legislative War of 1893. The Republican and Populist Party members of the Kansas House of Representatives battled over who would gain control of the House. The discord escalated to the point of physical violence with the Republicans breaking down the doors to Representative Hall with a sledge hammer and the two factions taking up arms against each other. The governor finally called in the state militia to restore the peace, and the Kansas Supreme Court determined that the Republican Party had the legal majority in the Kansas
Osborn served only one term as Secretary of State. He retired from politics and continued to live in Topeka. In 1898 his wife died and Osborn moved back to the old homestead in Osborne County, where he lived for six more years before moving to Stockton. He died there May 20, 1912, and was buried in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Sumner Township, Osborne County.
In 2011 Osborn’s great-great granddaughter Patsy Redden compiled a biography on his life entitled “Captain Osborn’s Legacy.”
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.
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.
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.