Frank Elwood Stafford was born April 24, 1845, in Greensboro, North Carolina. At the age of seven he moved with his parents, Milton and Tempa (Cain) Stafford, to Indiana. Prior to the outbreak of the Civil War the Stafford family moved again, this time to Kansas. In 1863 Frank went to Leavenworth and worked for a while as a teamster and then enlisted in Company B of the 16th Kansas Calvary. He was officially discharged in December 1865.
After the war Stafford returned to Indiana and farmed for a while, but then returned to Kansas and on October 4, 1867, he enlisted in Battery B of the Fourth United States Artillery. He served four years with the Fourth Artillery, stationed at Forts Riley and Hays, where he was an orderly sergeant. At times he was attached to the famed Seventh Calvary and often rode patrols through what would later become Osborne County, Kansas, before being discharged at the end of his term of service on October 4, 1870.
In 1870 Frank brought his mother and the rest of the family to a homestead near the mouth of Little Medicine Creek in Tilden Township, Osborne County, just west of the village of Bloomington. A respected war veteran, he was one of the three special commissioners appointed by Governor James Harvey in 1871 to organize Osborne County. In the county’s first general election the next year Stafford was elected one of the first three county commissioners. At Bloomington on November 28, 1878, he married LaNette Hart. The couple had three children, Frank, Nettie, and an infant son who died in 1886.
Stafford did not serve in public office again until 1882, when he was elected Osborne County Clerk. He served three terms and then retired to his homestead. The farm was prosperous for many years and Stafford retained a wide popularity among his peers. He passed away March 30, 1919, in Osborne and was buried in the Osborne Cemetery.
The following article was written in 1898 and revised in 1905 by Frank Stafford, being reprinted in the Osborne County Farmer of August 21, 1930, Page 6:
” On the 12th of May 1870 four men were killed near where Glen Elder now stands, by the Indians. A few days later Battery “B” of the 4th Artillery came on the Solomon to protect the settlers from the Indians and camped near the fork of the river. I was a member of that company and did scout duty south as far as Fort Harker up and down the south and north forks of the Solomon River and as far north as the mouth of the White Rock on the Republican River. Settlers on the Solomon from Minneapolis west were few. Where Beloit now is was called Willow Springs, If there was anything there by way of a settlement I did not see it. There was a little store building made of logs, on the east side of the Limestone, kept by the “Simpson boys” who were there doing business. There was a stockade near the forks of the Solomon where one or two families were living. No settlement on the South Fork except Bullocks’ ranch, located in March  about two miles west of where Osborne now is by William and Charles Bullock, two as brave frontiersmen as ever came to the West.
On the North fork a log house covered with shingles built by Pennington Ray (the first shingle-roofed house in Osborne County) south of where Downs now is. The old building was still standing the last time I was at Downs; Mr. Ray was not there. He had gone away and did not return until a year or two later. The next settlement was where Portis now is, made by Walrond, Wiltrout, Wills and Willis, who built a stockade and lived there during the summer of 1870 (Walrond lived here many years afterward one of our most respected citizens. Wiltrout now lives at Logan, Wills is dead; I do not know of the whereabouts of Willis).
There was no settlement in Smith County, no settlement south on the way to Fort Harker except a ranch south of the Saline on the Elk Horn. No settlement north except in and around Jewell City, which later consisted of a stockade made of sod in which the settlers camped at night. I rode into Jewell City during the summer on my way to Scandia with a sick horse which died in half an hour. I found the settlers, who had seen me at a distance and thought I might be Indians, waiting to receive me. No other settlement north until Scandia – which was mostly a name – on the Republican was reached.
The first settlers to arrive during the summer were Col. Cawker and others who went up on the hill and started Cawker City. The Indians made a raid down the south fork and up the north on the second of July, killed a colt was the only damage done. Bill Harris, myself and John Neve (who built the first mill at Glen Elder and afterwards was County Commissioner of Mitchell County) were sent to follow those Indians and see where they went. We followed them to Bow Creek in Phillips County, where we concluded they were leaving the country. We went back and reported accordingly.
The next settlers to arrive were the New York colony – William Manning and family, James Manning and family, C. W. Crampton and family and others whose names I do not remember. They were just from the east, clothed in garments of civilization and looked good to us as it was the first mark of civilization we had seen on the Solomon. I was talking to one of the ladies afterward and she told me that they were very dirty, they had made a long journey and from her standpoint her statement was probably true but they were so different from anything we had seen for months that they looked fine to us. The New York Colony settled at the mouth ofCovert Creek. The only one left of the colony in Osborne County is S. Palmer Crampton.
The next settlers were Jeff Durfey, Chauncey Bliss and family, John Kaser and family, Mrs. Leaver and family and others who are all gone. The next to come were the Tildens who settled around Bloomington, the only one left now is Mrs. Adaline Tilden. The next were Joe Hart and Calvin Reasoner, L. T. Earl and General Bull and family. Those who came and stayed in Osborne County during the winter of 1870-71 and are here now are S. Palmer Crampton, Jeff Durfey, Willard, Silas, and Merrick Bliss, John Kaser, Sr. and family, John Kaser, Jr., and wife, Dave Kaser, August Kaser, John Leaver, Joe Hart, Mrs. Tilden, Mrs. Reasoner and myself. Nobody wintered on the North fork during the winter of 1870-71.”
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.
“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.