|Early History of Rock Port and Atchison County [Missouri], part 1|
|from writings of John Dopf, founder of the Atchison County Journal (now the Atchison County Mail)|
|[part 2] [part 3] [part 4]|
|transcribed and compiled by: Sue Farmer - email@example.com|
BIRTH OF THE JOURNAL – ‘63
By John D. Dopf
Upon the occasion of The Journal’s 53rd anniversary the editor wrote to John D. Dopf, the founder of this paper,
requesting that he write a series of articles on the early history of the
Journal. The following is the first
chapter of what we believe will be the most interesting bit of history ever
Editor Atchison County Journal:
In response to your letter of recent date, will state that The Journal will not be 52 years old until September 19th next. The mistake occurs from the fact that for several months The Journal was issued twice each week.
On the 31st day of August, 1862, Col. P.A. Thompson came into the office of The Missouri
The following morning I went to Pennick & Loving’s drug store and purchased a bundle of rag paper from one of their salesmen, (Harry C. Carter, still living in St. Joseph) at 25 cents per pound and paid at the rate of $4 per hundred for its transportation to Rock Port, by express.
following morning I started on one of several of Fink & Walker’s overland
stage coaches and arrived at
After breakfast I made the acquaintance of Dr. J.Y. Bird. Dan Snyder was the agent of the stage company and was the first citizen to greet me and was one of my best friends for more than forty years. The same is also true of Dr. Bird as long as he lived.
no church in
During the day I made the acquaintance of about the entire population of the town and not a few from the country. Hon. A.E. Wyatt was then sheriff, and I wish I could give you a picture of him as he then appeared. The union between his cowhide boots and his homespun and woven blue jeans t4rousers was not perfect but I found that his heart was in the right place.
In the afternoon Jimmie McNickle came to the hotel, and his story of having killed a wild turkey, while engaged in digging a grave to bury the body of Dr. Ellis’ fourth wife, was told. McNickle was at once engaged as “devil” for The Journal, and Monday morning, Sept. 4th, began the task of moving the old Rock Port Herald office from Dr. Richard Buckham’s drug store where the Buckham block now stands, to a two-story frame building on the west side of Main street on lots now occupied by Christian Bros. store. The Journal had the second floor, Dr. John Dozier occupied the first floor. E. L. Clark, father of Clark McColl, was postmaster, and occupied the first floor, south of Dr. Dozier; John C. Hope was his assistant. North Star Lodge No. 157, A.F. & A.M., used the room over the post office for a lodge room.
Monday forenoon Wm. T. Buckham, clad in blue jeans and butternut wearing a
coonskin cap and armed with a double-barreled shot-gun, entered the office, and
all hands went up. He wanted to know if
we needed any help, and we thought we did. He laid aside his gun and coat, rolled up his sleeves and took hold like
a veteran. He had been “devil” on the
old Herald, and I’ll bet he’s still a “devil of a good fellow!” and everybody
knows it. Later in the day Wm. M.
Campbell, joined the gang and he was employed regularly. We worked days and nights as well in an
effort to get a paper out as soon as possible, but there was much to do. The office was “pied” and “dumped” into
boxes, kegs, barrels and bags, and there was also considerable job printing to
be done before the first form was put upon the old
If you can
get a copy of The Journal of
If this does not reach the waste basket, I will write another chapter.
EARLY HISTORY OF THE JOURNAL
By John D. Dopf
THE FOUNDER OF THE ATCHISON CO., JOURNAL
TELLS OF EARLY DAYS
work done in
“I’m hard up, I’m hard up,
But I never shall forget when I was better off,
But may be well off yet!”
The week following I changed my mind about the town and the people and especially about the people.
John W. Smith, Bennett Pike, John L. Shelters and L.H. Ruland were boarders at the hotel, and they made me fell somehow that I was the equal of the Prince of Wales or any other potentate, great or small.
Everybody was interested in the success of The Journal and every man, woman and child was a “booster”. Everybody solicited subscribers at $2.00 per annum, cash in advance, or $2.50 if not paid before the end of the year.”
was the first name entered on the subscription book. He was the father of Margaret Caudle,
grandfather of Theodore Caudle and numerous other Caudles. Then came Jacob Hughes, Enoch D. Scamman,
Thos. Holland, Geo. F. Smith, John ox, George Steck and everybody else who
could read. Two hundred copies were
printed. Over half of these were
delivered by carrier or taken from the
time there was a mail route from Halsie’s ferry, on the Nodaway river, near the
present site of Burlington Junction, known far and wide as “The Possum Walk
Route”. It was served by an old man who
walked across the trackless prairie most of the distance, about twenty-five
miles, arriving at Rock Port Friday night and returning the following day,
Providence permitting. I believe this
was the first R.F.D. in the
of the county court in 1863 were Franklin Merrill of Center Grove, Michael
Kime, Walden Grover and Elijah Needles, of Needles Ferry. Jas. M. Templeton was county clerk and lived
The probate court business was transacted by the county court and Mr. Templeton was clerk of the probate court, clerk of the circuit court and ex-officio recorder of deeds. A.E. Wyatt was also collector of revenue by virtue of his office as sheriff.
the many duties imposed on Mr. Templeton he found many days and hours which he
spent on the farm, never neglecting his official duties. If a better man than James M. Templeton ever
All of the public officials above named were men of sterling worth and performed their duties with marked ability and integrity.
Woodson was judge of the circuit court, composed of the counties composing the
Platte Purchase –
EARLY HISTORY OF THE JOURNAL ETC.
chapter I will lead your thought in recollections of the first settlers of
Henry Roberts was the first American pioneer in
It may be stated that the men whose names have been given were German noblemen, and their descendants were of like mould. They spent many days, weeks, months and years in labor of the hardest, and does not labor ennoble men! They were the builders of a new civilization in the wilderness, and laid well the foundations thereof, and as evidence of this I ask your attention to the schools and churches, the College, the County Home, the splendid roads and bridges and the grand men and women of intelligence and culture, the industrious and progressive farmers and promoters and the magnificent homes in town and country, to be seen on hill, valley and streets which surround the home of The Journal.
I omitted the names of Tom and Tony Mitchell, Phillip Reitz, Henry Warneke, Charles Renner, Jacob Mulhaupt, George Ebner, Harry Moses and the Sanders brothers (Leopold, Jacob and Simon), Richard Gaede, C.H. Imhoff, and Herman Zieke, the basket-maker, and also the Reiter family, which may be given more extended mention later in these reminiscences.
Away out on
the prairie, seven miles, there lived John McCrander, in 1863, and Oscar
Utvitts was his nearest German neighbor and he lived at Center Grove. The in and about
and there passed before me another crowd of German fellow citizens and I
recognized among them John Zulauf and his clerk. He was the keeper of a “guesthouse” and sold
beer and pretzels for more than forty years on
Now, I have
written so much that you will discover that I am not neutral, but am hoping to
see the Germans whip everything and everybody who wants to fight. If they triumph, the Irish and the other
JOHN D. DOPF
P.S. – I have rambled all over the county thinking and writing about the Germans. Next I will go for the Scotch, Canadian English, Irish and French and perhaps a few natives.
EARLY HISTORY OF THE JOURNAL ETC.
In April 1862, General Gray, in command of the Department of Missouri, issued General Order No. 24, enrolling the male inhabitants of the state of military duty. Those who were loyal were organized and sworn into service. Those who were in sympathy with the South paid a commutation tax of $20.00 and a levy of a certain per cent on their assessed valuation. I enrolled with the loyal or enrolled Missouri Militia, and was assigned to a company to run the Missouri Democrat, and was a sergeant in command of a patrol guard. Dan Jouser, the present manager of the Globe-Democrat, was then bookkeeper and was the orderly of the company. Fishback was the captain and the McKee Bros. were the two lieutenants.
When I left
Quantrill’s Guerillas had spent the previous 4th of July in Rupe’s Grove and there were rumors that members of his clan were still haunting Irish Grove and the hills along Mill Creek and the Nishnabotna bluffs.
and jayhawking bands rode across the country by night and had no respect for
the politics of the horse or mule that they found in the pasture o unlocked and
unguarded barn. Thirteen horses were
stolen from the hitchracks on
Notwithstanding the unsettled conditions, the paper increased its circulation and 25 or 30 new subscribers per week were often added to its circulation.
Thompson was an excellent editor, and his political articles were always
excellent reading, and he was as good a reporter of local events and matters of
person interest. He was a born leader
and his influence extended all over
Buckham performed the first marriage ceremony, preached the first funeral
sermon and officiate at the birth of the first white child born in the county,
and that boy was William Millsap, still a resident of the county. Dr. “Dick”, as he was best known, belonged to
the Thompsonian school of physicians and had great faith in lobelia No. 6 and
ginger tea. He was a Christian preacher
and a farmer and a stockraiser and also a Republican politician and represented
With the exception of one, the others were allopaths and believed in heroic doses of calomel, jollop, blue mass, quinine and whiskey. Dr. John Ellis believes in all kinds of remedies, any kind or no kind at all. If his patient survived he was cured; if he died he was buried.
Dr. C.V. Snow was a great politician and knew the whole story from 1774 to date, and would rather talk politics than to eat, sleep or saw off a leg. He was a Democrat and a Union Democrat, loyal to the flag. If he had any religion he was a Mormon, but was satisfied with one wife.
Dr. Arnold was of English origin, related to the Arnold who wrote “The Light of Asia,” and to Mrs. Ward, who was the author of “Robert Elsmere.” He was the representative in the Missouri legislature in the early days of the Civil War; a staunch Union man, a splendid physician, a genial gentleman, able as a write and for many years the leading physician of Omaha.
Dr. David Whitmire was successful in his practice and the best read and most studious of the lot. “Boss” Miles may be induced to tell how the doctor “practiced” on him when he was about to die of la grippe.
The roster of those who succeeded the old-time doctors is too long for this chapter but may be found in The History of the Platte Purchase which is being written.
personal effects was a guitar. It was a
good one and cheap at $30. I had taken
two lessons only, but could tune it and could play accompaniments in two or
three keys. A few evenings after the
first issue of The Journal had been printed, I sat in the twilight thumbing the
guitar, when footsteps on the stairs warned me that visitors were coming. It was Sheriff Wyatt and the “devil”. The sheriff demanded the cause of the “noise”,
and I had to tell him. I lit a lamp and
showed him the cause. He took it in
hand, looked over it, struck a few chords and said: “It’s a fine instrument, is
in tune and you play.” I denied the
charge. He continued: “If we had a violin we could have some
music.” McNickle said: “I can get a fiddle.” He disappeared double-quick and returned “on
time,” bringing with him the owner of the “Fiddle” and the “fiddle”. It was brown with age, greasy from use and
had only one string. The bow was short
of horse hair and was greasy, too. Prof.
E.L. Clark was a visitor while Jimmie was absent and the two went out in search
of rosin, and were successful. I had
plenty of new strings, and in a very short time we were practicing our first
piece. The “noise” attracted many
visitors, and among them Tom Mitchell, one of the village blacksmiths, who
listened to one number, and then asked permission to join us. Consent was granted and he went for his
“noise-maker”, and soon returned with the longest clarinette I ever saw. It was out of fix and had to be soaked in a
bucket of water. Reeds were adjusted,
and then the three-piece orchestra,
concerts were of frequent occurrence during the fall and winter, for the people
February, 1864, it demanded a brass band. The begging committee raised $450 n less than one hour, and the
instruments were ordered from Balmer & Webber,
So many memories come flocking to my thought as I write that I hardly know what to write, where to begin or where to stop, hence I shall have to stop now, without referring to the Canadians, Irish, Nova Scotians and English, as I promised in the last chapter.
William Dunbar was surveying for Wrice D. Schooler, son-in-law of S.F. Nuchols, one of those beautiful Indian Summer days in October, 1863. No Surveying party was well equipped unless it had at least one fallon of whiskey in the commissary department. The place was on the Schooler estate and the line a half-mile long, crossed steep hills and deep ravines. To establish the corner half-way on the line was the object, but the falling off at the government corner was more than four rods, owing to the fact that the surveyor did not know that the magnetic needle was about 11 degrees west of the North Star.
Mr. Schooler came to The Journal office the next day to tell the editor his troubles, just as everybody does today when trouble calls at their abode. The editor did not print it in The Journal, but the county court was made acquainted with the facts in the case, and after proper investigation, the resignation of Mr. Dunbar resulted, and the Court looked about for a successor and finally this write was appointed his successor. I had already been appointed deputy sheriff, and now I had nothing to do but run The Journal, survey roads, land and townsites and act as the sheriff’s deputy.
On a trip
to the northeastern part of the county, in a region where settlers were few and
far apart and roads and bridges were none, I discovered the Sellars Brothers
ranch, near the
Barber, who lived near the
James Hunter and their wives, the father and mother of Dr. McMichael and Duncan
McDonnell were from
Gaffney (“Irish Jim” as I first knew him) was a stage driver on the Fink &*
Walker Overland Stage Co.’s line from
Tim and Andy Whelan, who came with the builders of the
and C.B.R.R., and settled near Watson. Andy moved to the head of Cow Branch, where I
suppose he still keeps open house for the hungry, thirsty and friendless, like
all other Irishmen. James O’Riley was
also a builder of the same railway, and kept at it until he married an American
farmer’s daughter, but he got lonesome on the farm and moved to Rock Port,
where he spent the remainder of his days respected and trusted as long as he
lived there. He served in the British
army, in the Crimean war and also in a
There may be one or two of these foreigners whom I have forgotten, but who will be remembers when I write The History of the Platte Purchase.
There was a
Frenchman by the name of Bilieveax who was a stage driver at the time Irish Jim
was driving. He was great on “hoss talk”
and vivid in telling startling adventures in which he was an actor. “Happy Jack” was another stage driver and
stuck to the box and the bottle as long as there was anything in either. Then there was Doc. Small, the
gentleman-driver, always well dressed and courteous, king hearted and generous. I must not forget Frank Farmer, who quit
driving to run the “2 Curious” saloon at
Near the end of my first year I had given the company notice that I would quit with No. 52 of Vol. 1 and wished a settlement. The settlement showed that I had paid the stockholders the amount they had invested, had bought and paid for $250 worth of new materials, that all bills were paid and there was less than $100 in uncollected bills.
stockholders decided that I must stay and Col. Durfee was authorized to fix the
terms. He offered to give me the office. This I refused, as well as an increase of
salary. I finally agreed to buy the
office, provided the company would give me time to pay for it. The price was fixed at $750, $250 cash and
the balance in two annual payments at ten per cent per annum. No security was to be given, either personal
or by chattel mortgage. However, Col.
Thompson was to continue to write the political articles until I learned more
about politics, and I always thought this was the best part of the
bargain. Col. Thompson believed in
honest politics and practiced it as well. It has been said that “the good a man does lives after him,” and this is
true in the case of Col. P.A. Thompson. His life in
the National Republican convention of 1864, there was much opposition to the
re-election of Abraham Lincoln. Salmon
P. Chase, Old Greenbacks as he was called, was the only man who stood any show
of being the candidate, although there were a host of men who were then great
statesmen. The Journal declared for
Chase, and the flag staff on The Journal office carried the Stars and Strips at
the top and beneath it a Greenback six feet in length and under that a streamer
with the “Salmon Chase for President.” The opposition to Mr. Lincoln was because he was too slow in freeing the
slaves and arming them. The wisdom of
his action was made apparent in the year that followed his reelection. Following his nomination The Journal placed
his name, with that of Andy Johnson and
time, a qualified voter could vote at any precinct in the county by making oath
that he had not voted that day at any other voting place. The Democratic party had no organization, and
although there were quite a large number of votes cast for county and state
officers, there was not a legal vote cast for the National Democratic
ticket. I was a candidate for the office
of county surveyor and received over 700 votes, with three votes for
days county newspapers had no chance for success and were generally run at a
loss or starved to death. Delinquent tax
lists of all the counties in the state were printed by the State Printer at
As soon as
the General Assembly met at Jefferson City, I had prepared bills providing that
delinquent tax lists should be printed in a newspaper in the county, and if
there was no paper, then in the nearest paper published, the price to be ten
cents per tract; also a bill providing that notice of sheriff sales be printed
in some newspaper printed in the county, and another relating to court notices
and fixing the price. Co. Thompson took
the bills to
In July or
August of 1864 an orderly rode swiftly up Main street, Rock Port, bearing a
message to Col. Bennett Pike to report to Gen. James Craig, with all the
available men under his command in Atchison and Holt counties, who were of the
enrolled Missouri Militia, to mount as many as possible and to report without
delay. Gen. Sterling Price was reported
to be advancing on
we stopped at the home of Judge David Bertram. He gave a fat steer and it was butchered for supper. The wagons contained coffee and sugar and
various kinds of bread and cake and several sacks of flour. The Judge had many stands of bees, and that
night he robbed several stands and we had bread, honey and milk for breakfast
and broke camp at break of day. We had
been re-enforced by a half dozen mounted men, and several were to come on the
stage line. About
we came to the home of Judge Ish, of
Holt county, near Hackberry Ridge. I
asked him if he had any horses. He said
all he had left was a span or two of mules that nobody could ride. The mule team was just what we needed to
carry the troop to
Arrangements was made with the Judge for Tom, the negro to drive, provided he would be permitted to return next day, and he would make no charge for team or driver. He also wanted Tom to be treated well, but the mules, he said, could take care of themselves, but no white man should be allowed to drive them, and there was not a man in the company who could be hired to make the attempt.
that night near
and guard mountain, Orderly Sergeant A.F. Tiffany and I went to Gen. Craig’s
headquarters in the Patee House to report. We found him in no good humor, as a crowd of “butternut” residents of
Holt and Andrew had just reported that “the thieving
The “butternuts” were recalled and asked to produce the receipts which had been given them for the “stolen property,” which they did, and they later had the horses returned and the provisions paid for. The General used some profanity before he told them to go home.
After they had departed, he appointed me on his staff, with the rank of captain. I took a quarter of an hour to think about it, and then very respectfully declined. The General complimented me on my good judgement and we retired.
The third morning at guard mount there was mutiny in the ranks. The muster-roll was in alphabetical order and the Brazeales, father and George, served 48 hours on guard duty, and when their names were called for the third time they “stacked arms”. George Brazeale said: “I’ll be dad-swizzled! I’m willing to stand two days at a time, but danged if I do all the time!” and the mutiny was put to sleep by mounting four men who had not served.
Q. of the 52nd
of this expedition was made to the Adjutant General of the state at
fall or winter of 1863 Dr. Cunningham and family located in
John Lynn were the first arrivals from
McKillop came to
Archie Cook, Peter and John Sillers, Murdire, David and John Alliston were
among the Canadians who came to
Joseph Waugh, of Dunbar Castle, Scotland, who came and settled east of Walkup’s Grove before there was more than one county bridge between Rock Port and his ranch. He was a bachelor and bred race horses.
John Tyson, I think, was also a Scotchman and came to Atchison county about the same date was Waugh did and bought 1280 acres of prairie land and some timber land near the Holt county line and two miles west of the Nodaway county line, improved it and a few years later grew more sheep and produced more wool than any other breeder in the state.
David Alliston settled adjoining Robert Lynn, near the head of Cow Branch about
the same time that Lynn and Thomson began to improve their holdings. John Alliston and Zeke Colvin were killed in
a railroad wreck near
In closing this rambling epistle I wish to say concerning these foreigners referred to herein: They were all good men and true --- men of brawn and brain, and no disgrace to the land of their birth.
was scarce six weeks old, when there came to
Campbell, my journey printer, spent all his spare time in Bachelors gallery at
the court house in learning to catch the shadows by day, and studying chemistry
and reading works on art by night, for two weeks or more, and then he bought
the camera, chemicals and stock, excepting the snakes, paid all the cash he had
and a note for $75 to balance, to which I subscribed my name. This was my first trouble and then they came
“thick and fast.” He moved the outfit
into the back end of The Journal office and informed the public that he would
make pictures Saturday afternoon of each week thereafter. All kinds of people came to get their
pictures took. They came from
December 1863, a good man with an ox team appears on the street in front of The
Journal office with a big load of dry wood which he wanted to trade for The
Journal, and we took him up without giving anybody a chance to raise the
price. A wood sawer and his son were
quickly employed to saw it in two, and all hands and the devil helped to split
it and carry it into the office. As the
last armful was being loaded the devil called our attention to what appeared to
be a large which wall, a thousand feet high, moving down Rock Creek, a mile
away, and before the last stick was housed it enveloped the dawn like a
The Journal kept jogging along with winter of 1863 and was doing its best to fulfill its mission, just as it has done for the past half century, and I believe it has had much to do with the unanimous Union sentiment that prevails, and today I believe there is not a man, woman or child of mature age, who could be induced to take up arms except in defense of the Star Spangled Banner.
December, 1864, a journeyman printer came from the office of the Glenwood (
in going by way of
It was almost four years since I had seen the little girl who was to become the future cook at Hillcrest. When I arrived I found Miss “Pokie” under the doctor’s care, and he said I had better move on, and I did, going to my boyhood home, and there I spent eighteen or twenty days and most of the nights in holiday frolics with many of my old schoolmates. Three, however, were not there. They had fallen in defense of the flag and the National Capital.
I may be writing too much about private affairs, but this being the only time I was ever married and the best wedding I ever attended, I hope your readers will pardon me. The bride had an interview with the parson before the ceremony, and told him she objected to the word “obey” in the ritual and he changed it so that it read: “Love honor and be gay”, and I was so excited that I did not not3 the change, but the first time I ordered the little cook to do something she did not wish to do, she gave me to understand that she never promised to obey me, and I can truthfully say that I am glad that she never did, only when my commands were reasonable.