Early History of Rock Port and Atchison County [Missouri], part 3
from writings of John Dopf, founder of the Atchison County Journal (now the Atchison County Mail)
[part 1] [part 2] [part 4]
transcribed and compiled by: Sue Farmer - seb82148@yahoo.com




Jan. 6, 1916


            One day in July or August, 1865, Sheriff William M. Blake, stated that Alf Howard, a notorious outlaw, was supposed to be hiding in Atchison county and that $1,000 would be paid for his body, dead or alive. 

            Early the following morning Sheriff Blake, with a posse, of which this writer was one, started out with the purpose of getting Howard and the $1,000. 

            I was equipped with a compass and tripod and a navy revolver.  The surveyor’s instruments were much in evidence and the revolver concealed.  The others were armed with shot guns, rifles, and each carried a navy or two, all carefully concealed, the guns of large caliber under blankets in the bottom of a spring wagon, drawn by a span of mules, Wm. Thompson acting as driver.  At the rising of the sun the posse had reached the home of Richard Rupe, and while we engaged the Judge in conversation, Thompson went through the stables and the adjacent timber in search of strange horses.  The talk with Judge Rupe was mostly concerning the chances of crossing the Big Tarkio at the Gilkinson bridge, which had recently been washed out by high waters.  When Thompson returned we drove south half a mile and then eastward along a rail fence enclosing a field of small grain.  The fence corners were grown full of brush and wild grape vines, through which we saw five or six men binding the grain which had been cut the day before, and also a man in his shirt sleeves who was not at work, and we decided he was the man we wanted.  We drove forward until we reached a gap in the fence and drove out into the field to where a man was hitching four horses to a reaper.  Of him I inquired about our being able to cross the Gilkinson bridge.  He thought we could cross as men had worked on the bridge the day before and to a late hour in the day.  We drove out of the field where we went in and along the road until out of sight of the man at the machine.  The team was driven into the brush and hitched and I was sent to guard the road leading from the gap to a cabin two hundred and fifty rods distant from the gap.  We took notice while talking with the man at the reaper that the extra man had left the field.  When I came to the road I was within one hundred and fifty yards of the cabin and there stood the man talking to a woman standing in the door.  She saw me when I parted the hazel brush and looked out.  I dropped to the ground quickly and as quickly looked down the road.  The woman handed the man a coat and he quickly disappeared behind the cabin.  I joined the posse and we search the cabin and the stable and surrounding woods, but found not the man we wanted.  The team was driven farther from the road, fed and watered, and we spent the remainder of the day in watching the house, the road and the several paths through the forest.  To the south and west of the cabin, and within fifteen feet, was a thick growth of sumach, from one to eight feet in height, where we were in hiding as the sun sank in the western sky. 

            After supper eight or ten neighbors assembled in front of the cabin and discussed the event of the day.  We learned that “the man would have killed us all had he met us in battle,” and he might have killed one or more but not all.  The man was Jesse James alias Alf Howard. 

            Many years later I often met a traveling man on trains in different parts of the country, and he told me he also had a ranch in northern Kansas and was generally looking for cattle to feed.  We frequently were together several hours and he as a good talker and was well posted in politics as well as current events. 

            About sixteen years ago I was returning from Omaha and when I reached Phelps City he came to the smoking car in which I was seated near the front of the car, and took a seat beside me.  There was only one or two men in the car and they appeared to be asleep.  After formal greetings he said:  “I have been intending to tell you something for a long time.  I don’t think you will give me away.”  I reminded him of the fact that if was a bad man he had better not confide me with his story, as I was still deputy sheriff and might have to “take him in.”  He replied “I knew you about the close of the Civil War, and more intimately since, and will take the chances and risk it.  You gave me the closest call I ever had in my life.”  I told him I did not remember the occasion.  Said he:  “Do you remember the time when there was a reward for Alf Howard, dead or alive, and you and four others attempted to get him at a cabin in Rupe’s Grove near Ben Reynolds’ home!”  Of course I had not forgotten.  “But how did you get away?”  I asked. 

            “Why did you not shoot me when you saw me at the cabin door?”

            “I would not shoot a man in the back,” was my answer.   “But how did you get away so quickly, and where did you go?” I asked. 

            “I ran to a stable behind the cabin, where my horse was ready, mounted him and rode through the woods and came out on the prairie north of Judge Rupe’s stables, then to Rock Creek, crossing the Sutton bridge and then down the road until I came in sight of a mill (King’s) and then I crossed the bluffs and down into the Missouri valley.  I avoided the ferry across the Nishnabotna and swam my horse across that stream.  There were few houses between the point where I crossed the Nishnabotna and the point where I crossed the Missouri river at a point between Aspinwall and St. Deroin, where I swam that stream.  The river was at a very low stage and the place where I crossed was very narrow.  When I landed on the Kansas side I knew I had made my escape when I looked back and saw that no men were in pursuit.” 

            The train had stopped at Langdon as he ended his story, and we parted company.  That was the last time I saw Jesse James.  There is a man in St. Joseph who has seen him inside of three years just past, and perhaps others.  He located him in northern Kansas . 

            Two of the posse who went hunting for “Alf Howard” are dead:  Wm. M. Blake and Wm. Thompson, two are still living in Rock Port and this writers address is Box 1217 , St. Joseph , Mo.   Jesse James is the youngest man of the six characters who were parties to this “near tragedy” and is best known to the rising generation. 

            At the time that Bob Ford was reported to have shot Jesse James, there was more than $10,000 offered for the body of Jesse James, dead or alive, and he was aware of the fact that there were many people in St. Joseph who knew him and knew where he lived and he also knew that most of them would gladly give the authorities the needed information for his capture for a small percent of the reward offered. 

            Jesse James was not a fool.  He was a man of experience.  He was a rapid thinker and as quick in action.  He planned the shooting and his escape and it is doubtful if a half dozen of his best friends knew of his plans for leaving St. Joseph . 

            The day before the “killing” a “floater” was taken from the Missouri river , taken to, and concealed at the James home, east of the Convent of the Sacred Heart.   A friend from the country was visiting at the James’ home, and James purchased from him a coop of chickens to be delivered before the break of day next morning, and they were delivered according to contract and paid for.  The friend stayed but a short time and started for home.  When he heard the report of two shots he returned to the house.  The news spread on rapid wings, and some mourned while others rejoiced.  If Ford had really shot James he would have never collected the reward and there would perhaps have been several other killings about the same jour. 

            The cadaver taken from the river had been clothed in a suit of James clothing, the chicken had been killed and their warm blood liberally used on the head and face of the man’s body which was to play the part of Jesse James at the funeral.  There were conflicting stories as to the number of shots fired.  Some thought James shot at Ford and missed him, but Jesse James was not that kind of a marksman.

            Of course there was a great rush to the house as soon as the news reached down town, and I have met since that day at least a dozen men who were the first to enter the house after the “killing”.  One of these men who was a reporter on the News-Press, was on the way to see James with a copy of the last issue of the paper and other dailies, and was there before the smoke had been blown from the room. 

            The farce of the Coroner’s jury was played, and before the ink was dry on the verdict rendered, Jesse James was safely sailing away to a port of safety, and if I had not seen Jesse James and talked with him since that April morning in 1882, I might agree with the great majority who were made to believe that Bob Ford killed Jesse James that morning. 

            I believe Jesse James was not killed in 1882 because no other man could tell what happened at the cabin door on the Ben Reynolds farm in 1866, not even any member of the posse who were in search of “Alf Howard!” 

            Ford was killed in a quarrel over a division of the reward money and not by the friends of Jesse James in revenge for the alleged killing. 

            Since the day of the alleged killing of Jesse James, no person has ever accused him of an unlawful act, but he has lived and toiled in peace with his friends and neighbors. 

            In the days when the James boys, the Youngers and their comrades were the terror of the land, great wrongs were committed by roving bands whose political creed was “plunder, from friend or foe, no plunder, no friendship!”  And all of those outlaws changed politics as was necessary to carry out their devilish purposes. 

            Notwithstanding the bad reputation given to Jesse and Frank James and their relatives, they have many good deeds to their credit.  Let us be charitable enough to hope the good in all is greater than all of the evil, for who is wise enough to say there were not in a measure justified in the life they led in those days of peril, terror and wrong-doing?  Not I. 

            After reading the following article which appeared no long since in the St. Joseph Observer, I wrote the foregoing story, and am asking a careful reading of both epistles: 

            William Reagan, of Sale Lake City , wrote to Recorder, Harry Yates, last week, saying that he had purchased from a Mrs. Connor, of Pocatella , Idaho , what purposed to be the original gun with which Bob Ford killed Jesse James on High School hill, April 3, 1882 , and asking for data to prove its authenticity.  It is not known what Recorder Yates replied, but if Reagan should desire any additions to his stock of “original guns” with which Ford killed James, he will have no trouble in getting them, as they are as numerous as “dead soldiers” in the allies of any Kansas prohibition town on any Monday morning. 

            Just as an illustration (this is not a paid ad), if Mr. Reagan will apply to Andy Sinclair, 1200 South Sixth Street, he could possible secure one, which by the way is conceded to be the best authenticated of the flock.  If he failed there he might apply to Chris L. Rutt, editor of the News-Press, as he owns a pair of them – all fully authenticated.  Likewise ex-Sheriff Otto Theisen has the “original”, and Dick Graves, who now resides in Oklahoma , has three “originals” which he picked up in his brief span of life. 

            Capt. Enos Craig, who arrested Bo band Charley Ford immediately after the killing of Jesse (which arrest was witnessed by the writer, standing beside the Samuel I. Smith, who had driven him to the scene of the “killing”) has another “original,” which he took from Ford at the time of the arrest.  In company with Capt. Sol Broyes, who was then deputy marshal under Marshal Craig, the two puffed up the hill that April day, to where Smith and the writer already were, and the gun was handed by Broyes to Craig, Ford saying it was the gun that killed Jesse.  It is now a prized relic of Captain Craig’s. 

            Gene Spratt is also the possessor of an “authentic”, and ex-Sheriff Joe Andriano and Bob Thomas each have or did have lately, choice samples of the “original”.  John Uhlman has another true-t-home, time-tried, fire-tested of the James “killers”, and down at Atchison , Ed. Post has the “true gun.” 

            If these do not suffice, Mr. Reagan can, on application, be furnished with a further list of “authentic guns” that killed Jesse James. 

            Twenty-five years ago the pawn shops here were full of the “original guns” and every tenderfoot who strayed in was mysteriously taken to the rear of the pawn shop, where with great secrecy he was shown “the gun that Ford killed James with,” and it was offered to the tenderfoot at a heavy advance in price – which he generally paid, and went home happy – until someone shoed him the gun was made five or six years after the death of James.  

            The Observer’s observations certainly proves how easily men may be part from their dollars, if not as well as their good judgment in ordinary business affairs. 

            In conclusion I wish to ask what became of Jesse James’ guns, and what became of the horse he rode away from Convent Hill?  Several hundred of each should have found a ready market.  I do not hope to live long enough to get an answer to my question, unless Jesse James answers it. 

J. D. Dopf




Jan. 13, 1916


            The death of General G. M. Dodge at his home in Council Bluffs , January 3rd, 1916 , brings to mind the fact that I had a speaking acquaintance with Gen. Dodge and Abraham Lincoln in 1859 and 1860, and that these two men met while each was in the employ of the Illinois Limited Railway, and talked over the project of building a railway to the Rocky Mountains and beyond.  The world had made sport of the undertaking, but Lincoln and Dodge considered it feasible, and later demonstrated to the world that no task to too great for men who dare to try.  Gen. Dodge was a civil engineer and had already made a preliminary survey westward from the Missouri river in 1860-61, but when the Civil war broke out he obtained a commission from President Lincoln and raised and equipped at his own expense the 4th Iowa infantry, and in two weeks time was en route for the battle-field, and at the battle of Pea Ridge, shortly afterwards, he was made a Brigadier General, and before the war closed was promoted to the rank of Major General. 

            At the close of the Civil War the general government secured the services of Gen. Dodge to continue the survey for the railroad to the Rocky Mountains and beyond, which he completed, and the last spike was drive in 1867. 

            I think it was in 1864 that I was in St. Joseph, and there met George Francis Train and a German, Herr Van Derdick, an agent of the Rothchilds, bankers, of Berlin and London.  Both gentlemen were on business bent, and as the coach was occupied by only half a dozen passengers, Train and the German did about all the talking on the 80 miles drive.  The German would affirm and Train would deny.  Train would affirm and the German would doubt the accuracy of the statement.  I acted as referee and all questions were referred to me and my decision of an editor.  As a result of my many decisions rendered before arriving at Rock Port, Train had the Rothchilds’s agent’s agreement that Millions of the Rothchilds money would be used in building the Union Pacific railway and Train had agreed to present the German with many corner lots in the future Greatest City on the continent of North America. 

            It was sunrise when we reached Rock Port , and after breakfast Train decided to commence breaking ground for the road in front of the Rock Port Hotel.  The necessary pick and shovel and a gallon of whiskey was procured at Trains expense.  Train took a drink, made a speech and stuck the pick in the earth. The German took a drink and lifted a shovel of dirt, and everybody present responded to the best of their ability as long as the whiskey lasted.  The twin left town in the best of humor.  The drivers for the stage company reported that the Rock Prot program was repeated at all convenient stations between Rock Port and Omaha .  I few days later ground was broken at Omaha and the building of the great overland railway was started. 

            There are many men still living in Atchison county who cut cottonwood, elm and oak ties for use in the building of that great railroad, and several men who had contracts, are still living elsewhere. 

            James Wood had a contract in the Rocky Mountains , and when the road was completed he and his brother Horace came to Atchison county and settled on the Big Tarkio near Chicken Bristle, where he raised corn and fed great herds of cattle and hogs.  He was a frequent visitor at Rock Port , and although his ranch was twenty-five miles away, he would be in town for early breakfast, and would stay all day at 9 or 10 o’clock would start for home.  He was frequently joined in these visits by Riley Ramsay, who was a near neighbor.  It is stated that on one occasion they started for home just after eating dinner and were lost on the way and did not reach home in time for breakfast, and that was the last effort to travel by daylight. 

            Mr. Wood went to Chicago and he and his brothers there engaged in the live stock commission business and became very wealthy.  About fifteen years ago I visited his home in Chicago and he took me to a very imposing Presbyterian church, to the building of which he had contributed $100,000.  He told me where I would find him on the north side.  I went early but the church was filled to the doors and crowds on the outside stood near every opening to the building listening to the words of the eloquent Divine, whose name I have forgotten. 

            Frank Owen of Maryville , was also a contractor on the U.P.R.R. in the same section with Wood, and can tell many stories on Wood and himself. 

            It took men of courage, with brawn and brain to conceive and carry out this great undertaking.  The All-wise Father had them at hand.  Lincoln conceived, Dodge counseled and Wood and Owens and many others like them bossed the more than 20,000 stalwart laborers who built this great railway through desert and mountain wilderness, battling unfriendly Indians and ferocious wild beasts, and yet it is less than sixty years since Lincoln and Dodge were laughed at because they simply thought it could be done. 





Jan. 20, 1915


            The first ledger used in The Journal office, which became my personal book of accounts, was in use for more than twenty years, and bore on its pages the names of several hundred persons whom I have served.  Many of these accounts were worthless.  I bought a new ledger and transferred the good accounts.  I balanced the bad and they read: “Worthless to balance!”  Among those thus balanced was that of Joseph Moulton, and it had faced me for 18 or 19 years.  The account was for $20.50, and was for sub-dividing a section of land, of which Moulton owned 80 acres.  He had an invalid daughter and spent many hundreds of dollars trying to restore her to health and happiness, and finally succeeded.  He never came to see me without duning himself and I never spent a penny in sending statements. 

            One bright summer day I completed the new ledger and went to dinner rejoicing that I had done a good job.  After dinner I started down town and the first man I saw was Rev. Dodd, of the Presbyterian church, seated on a chair in the shade of the parsonage, his head bowed as if in meditation.  I had never passed him without speaking before that, but on I went until I came to the next street where I turned and looked back and saw that Brother Dodd had changed his attitude.  I walked back to the gate, stopped and asked what was troubling him.  He said: “I am hungry and have nothing to eat and no money to buy food.”  Both of my hands went into my trousers pockets in one of which I found a five dollar bill which I handed to him.  He thanked God and then thanked me. I bade him to come to me when in need and went to the office where Joseph Moulton was impatiently awaiting for me. 

            “Now, how much do I owe you?” said Moulton.  “I want to pay you, both principal and interest.” 

            I had to lie and did.  I showed him the new ledger and told him his name was not in it.  He remembers the amount of the bill exactly and insisted that I figure the interest at 10 percent.  I refused to work any example in interest, either simple or compound, and lied again by telling him I did not know how.  We finally compromised and pocketed $20.50, and was just $15.50 to the good, made in less than one hour after dinner, and did not earn it by the sweat of my face either. 

            I am inclined to be reminiscent today, and will tell another:

            There was a rich old farmer in the region of Big Tarkio who had a “grown up” son who was as tough as he was worthless.  He had been arrested for a crime just a bit worse than horse stealing; had been bound over to appear at the next session of the Atchison county circuit court and had run away.,  Forfeiture of bond had been made of record, and the old many must pay $2,000 and then some more attorney fees and costs.  It was Saturday forenoon and the court would convene on the following Monday and the money would have to be in the hands of the sheriff before court adjourned.  John D. Campbell, the old man’s attorney was circulating a petition which was being signed by many to whom it was presented, and they signed without reading it.  Finally he asked me to sign.  I took the paper and began to read it, and it was a long article giving many reasons why the Court should set aside the forfeiture of the bond, and among others, that it would work a great hardship on the rich old farmer.  I declined to sign, and told Campbell that most of the signers had not read the petition and did not know whether it was a road petition, a subscription to build a church in Jerusalem, or one to have (Campbell) hung. 

            After dinner I drew up a petition stating that John D. Campbell was guilty of many crimes and misdemeanors and asking the court to have him hung at once.  I went on the street and presented the petition and I lied when I said it was a petition to open and improve a much needed road leading into Rock Port , and more than fifty men signed it without reading.  I then presented it to Campbell and lied to him just like I did to the others.  He was about to sign but I stopped him and told him he had better read it.  He did read it, but declined to sign.  I think the rich old farmer got off by paying $1,000 and costs and that $1,000 went into the common school fund of Atchison county and has helped in the education of many boys and girls of Atchison county. 

            Moral – Never sign a paper without reading it; never sign a note or bond for anybody; never sign a note to obtain money; never lie without your cause is a good one. 

            George Washington was a liar when he said:  “Dad, I can’t tell a lie”.  He could tell one just as easily as I did, and perhaps the man who wrote the story about little George, the hatchet and the cherry tree, was a bigger liar than John D. Dopf. 





Jan. 27, 1915


            Among the loafing places I visited in Rock Port on Sunday, Sept. 3rd, `863 , was Meek’s mill, no part of which remains at the original site.  There is no mill there by a dam site and no sight of a mill dam. 

            There were at that date eight mills in Atchison county, driven by water, and numerous steam saw mills and shingle machines.

            On the Big Tarkio, at Milton , was the Van Gundy mills (saw and grist mills), operated by John Van Gundy, Sr., who was also a friend of Education and a Met6hodist preacher, a most worthy and hospitable gentleman of the old Dutch school., his ancestors were from Holland, the land of windmills.  His son Samuel was postmaster at Milton .  The other sons were, John, Jr., James and William, all farmers as well as good millers.  He had also several daughters. 

            Charles Fanning had a mill near where Tarkio now stands, and his farm was at the east of the Home cemetery.  However, in those days Charley was more interested in putting down the Rebellion than in making flour, cracking corn and grinding buckwheat.  He held the rank of captain, and was a capital fellow, and was “born to command.”  He was death on horse thieves and deer, and preferred killing a horse thief or a rebel to killing a deer every day in the year. 

            William King owned and operated a flour mill on Rock Creek, south of Fox cut, on the farm now owned by Henry King, and made the best flour on Rock Creek.  Wm. King was his own worst enemy. 

            Meek’s mill at Rock Port, was operated by a man by the name of Amen (now, Jim, don’t spell it Amick, ‘cause Jake Amick never run any mill except a sorghum mill) and Amen had a lease on the mill and Meek was in California and had been for several years.  William Golden was a patron of the mill and brought many grists.  He was suspicious of Amen’s honesty and decided that he would bear watching, and he watched; he took five or six bags of shelled corn to the mill, as full as they could be tied, saw that it was properly tolled by Amen, and then went up town, where he waited until he thought the grist had been half ground, then slipped back into the mill and up to the second floor where the grain taken for toll had been stored.  Here he found an auger hole in the floor from which he could see the meal as it poured into his bags from the burrs. 

            Soon Amen came along with a large scoop with which he took a scoopful from the sack at the spout and transferred it to a chest of meal.  Golden took a peck of corn from the toll bin and poured it into the hopper that supplied the burrs below, and watched again.  Again, Amen came along with his scoop and took it full from Golden’s meal bag, and Golden threw another peck of corn into the hopper.  Amen kept scooping from Golden’s meal till all of the sacks were filled and the corn still came down.  Amen dropped his scoop and went up stairs and caught Golden in the act of pouring another peck of corn into the hopper.  Amen asked Golden to explain.  Golden told him he was trying to get even and wanted to know why he was tolling his meal. Amen promised if he would not tell on him he would do his grinding in the future free of toll, but before Golden visited and mill again Amen had left for parts unknown. 

            This mill was later purchased by Abraham Penny, then by John Grieve, and was much improved by the latter gentleman, and nobody ever accused either Penny or Grieve of being dishonest, and both were model citizens. 

            Jeremiah Barlow owned and operated a mill one and one-half miles north of Rock Port.   There is no sign at present that a mill ever stood there, and yet much history clusters around that spot.  There the late Milton Tootle sold goods.  Two years before he passed away he told me that he could purchase more goods for $50, wholesale, than his entire stock.  At the time of his demise his estate invoiced $10,000,000.  Jeremiah Barlow was eccentric and used profane language without provocation.  He liked to sue and be sued, and did not care whether he was plaintiff or defendant.  It was told of him that he was attending a revival in Rock Port , and it was being held in the office of the circuit clerk.  The small room was packed with men, women and children, and the stove was red hot.  The preacher preached a short sermon and under its soothing influence Barlow slept and dreamed.  Then the exhorter took the floor and warmed up and shouted:  “Sue for Salvation!  Sue for Salvation!” so loud that Jeremiah awoke and swore a great oath that he would do so at once, and the meeting closed at once with the doxology.  However, Barlow was a good citizen and always won his law suits. 

            East of Linden, on a small branch of Rock Creek, was a carding mill, run by William Moore.  The waters of Rock Creek in those days, turned many wheels on its way to the Gulf of Mexico , in addition to the good soil that it sent in that direction. 

            R.V. Muir and Gotleib Steiner owned the only mill on High Creek, near the Baptist church.  It was later sold to De Loss Patton but finally went down with high waters and was never re-built. 

            I think Mr. Muir is still alive and lives at Brownville , Neb. , and is more than ninety years old.  I shall have much to write about my old friend in the History of the Platte Purchase.  Mr. Muir was a pioneer of Nebraska and an old settler of Missouri . 

            It is strange that the business men of Rock Port and the wealthy farmers along Rock Creek allow the waters to loaf along down to the Nishnabotna river, with nothing to do.  There is enough power along that creek to furnish light, power and heat for Rock Port and a strip at least three miles along and on both sides of the creek as far north as the home of Judge Rolf.  And then think of the good fishing along at the many dams at your very door.  You certainly need more brain food in Atchison county. 

            (A continuation of this article next week will include the old Rundle carding mill.) 





Feb. 3, 1916


            The most unique water power ever used in Atchison county or the state of Missouri was the John Rundle carding mill, near the bank of the Nishnabotna river, and about six miles southeast of Rock Port.  In the bluffs east of the river, and three or four hundred feet eastward and perhaps one hundred feet above the bed of the river, was a never-failing spring.  The waters of this spring were conducted in a ditch along the hillside and within ninety or a hundred feet of the mill building, where it was conducted in wooden troughs hewn from logs and supported by trestles until it reached the roof of the building at its highest peak, where it ended.  Directly under the end of the last trough was a wheel ten or twelve inches wide and perhaps two feet in diameter, on which hung an endless leather belt to which was riveted tin buckets which held perhaps half a gallon of water, and were so far apart that as soon as one would fill, its weight would bring another bucket in position to be filled.  On the first floor of the mill stood the carding machinery and a set of burrs for grinding corn, and at the bottom the end-less-chain or belt passed around a smaller wheel than the top wheel and the weight of the water in the buckets on the belt was transformed into power to drive the carding machine or the “corn crackers”. 

            In the years long before the ”unpleasantness,” John Rundle came to Atchison county and at about the same time came Dr. Lewis, and each built a large stone house.  Mr. Rundle added the mill and other “betterments”.  In those days nearly every farmer had a flock of sheep – some large, some small and every home had a spinning wheel, large or small, and looms were more plentiful than cooking or heating stoves.  The children (boys and girls) could knit and spin and the old ladies could weave. 

            The Rundle carding mill was known far east in Missouri, up north in Iowa and as far west in Kansas and Nebraska as there were flocks of sheep, and Rundle had become noted for good work and honest dealing. 

            The first time I visited the mill it was filled with uncarded wool, and Mr. Rundle said he could take no more wool unless he built a warehouse or sold his corn and used the cribs to store the loads of wool that came daily. 

            I cannot close this article without paying tribute to the character of my old friend, John Rundle.  He was a man to love, genial and good of heart; busy with hand and brain; capable to accomplish any good for his family, his neighbor or the stranger at his door.  He was a Republican in politics and believed in high tariff, and it is safe to say, no such fool idea free wool ever found lodgement ‘neath his scalp.  His religion was, “Love they neighbor as thyself,” and wife and children supremely.  He believed in Charity, Truth, Fortitude, Hope and Faith.  His legacy to his children and friends was an unsullied name. 





Feb. 10, 1916



                        William T. Buckham will always be my friend whether he wants to be or not.  He helped me the first work-day I spent in Rock Port , and occasionally for two weeks following.  He helped me to pay numerous notes to which we were joint securities.  I think I remember just how “Billy” looked the first time I saw him.  He was short and thick and fat, and he had eyes that twinkled with mischief after the act.  His head was covered with a cook-skin cap and it covered his head and hair, and the tail was still on the skin and hung down Billy’s back.  He wore butternut trowsers, which were at least six inches short of meeting his shoes, and the space between was clothed with sock knitted by his mother or sister.  His coat was blue jeans, his vest the same; his shirt hickory, and about his neck was a black silk necktie which was not an inch short of one yard in length.  Now, my memory serves me well when I am trying to tell the truth.  I hope Billy’s memory is as good as mine, and if I have forgotten just how he looked, I wish he would make proper correction.  Buckham was not bad looking then and never looked much better.  It has always been a wonder to me how we got such good-looking and competent wives, and why neither of our wives have tried to get a divorce, but the best of women get fooled occasionally. 

            When Hon. D.R. Francis was nominated for governor I was in Sedalia ; was there attending the Republican state convention, as a delegate.  I was at the home of my cousin, Mrs. Walmsly, who was visiting in Wisconsin .  Geo. Bain, who was a prominent man in state and national politics and a stalwart Republican, was also a guest at the Walmsly home.  Both were of Canadian birth. 

            The business of our convention was completed and I declared my intention of leaving on the first train.  Bain said I must stay and help nominate David R. Francis and the other St. Louis man was not big enough to fill the place and that he would spend a barrel of money on the country delegates and several barrels of whiskey and beer to secure the nomination.  Bain had gotten thirty or forty of the Republican delegates to remain and retain their rooms and had others register and retain rooms the two or three following days, which was the time set for holding the Democratic state convention.  The leading candidates for the various state offices came as the Republicans departed and at sundown the hotels were full.  Bain had secured the services of “A Little Dutch Band,” had numerous banners and transparencies painted and had secured the services of men and boys to carry them.  Between sundown and dark the crowd assembled at the depot just as a passenger train arrived and the passengers were escorted up town and along the principal streets, and then to a small hotel on a side street, where the coming governor was …


… Francis’s hotel, and that he refused to talk unless some one of his opponents were present.  I think the candidate’s name was John W. Glover.  He could do nothing but accept the invitation and went to the hotel, where he was greeted by Francis, and by him asked to make the opening speech, which he declined to do, but said he would follow.  Mr. Francis again appears and was greeted by the impatient crowd, with great applause.  He made a splendid speech, lasting perhaps three-fourths of an hour. 

            About the time we reached our abiding place it rained, and continued all night and most of the following forenoon.  All the trains coming in that night brought delegates.  There were no rooms to be had, and the delegates were thirsty and the saloons were open all night.  Sedalia had had no saloons in 1888.  Sedalia was built on a gumbo flat.  The street crossings were slippery, and the next morning you could recognize a Democrat by his “badge” – a patch of gumbo on the seat of his trowsers.  The delegates were out of humor.  They met at 10 o’clock and organized by electing permanent officers and selecting committees with instructions to report within one hour, which interim was taken up by speaking.  The committees reported promptly, except the committee on resolutions, and the roll was called for nominations for Governor, which occupied but little time.  I think Francis was nominated on the first ballot, and by three o’clock p.m. the convention went into history as the shortest on record. 

            I happened to be at Jefferson City when Governor Francis was inaugurated.  I was not there to represent Atchison county, for the reason that it took a Democrat and a hayseed Prohibition Republican to defeat me by 81 majority, and I shall always feel grateful to the voters of Atchison county, of all parties, for my defeat. 

            I was pretty well known in Jefferson City in those days and some of my friends invited me to attend the inauguration ball.  I was not possessed of the regulation evening dress and had rather appear in my own clothes than to rent a “swallow tail”.  I went and was received by the Governor, who introduced me to his wife and they each welcomed me to the Executive Mansion and directed me to a room where punch was being served by a dozen beautiful girls.  I declined, notwithstanding the girls and the punch were very attractive. 

            “I want to see Sam Cook, before I drink”, said I. 

            The Governor replied: “You can’t miss Sam.  He and his will be down in a few moments; stop here.”  I asked Mrs. Francis about her children.  She called, and two or three bright boys answered the call, and I was introduced to each.  I engaged them in conversation until Sam …


… Cook and his wife came down the stairs.  As soon as he saw me, he said “Hello, John.  I’m glad to …


… the mill-pond at Rock Port when we were boys together, and while in the water our clothes were stolen. 

            I asked Mrs. Cook how old Sam claimed to be and she declared, “he must be less than ninety years old.” 

            I was compelled to expose Sam in the presence of his wife, the Governor and his wife and many senators and representatives; that I had never met Sam in Rock Port ; had never bathed in Rock Creek, and that I was old enough to be Sam’s father. 

            Capt. John C. Hope and Sam Cook’s father built the Rock Port Hotel about the year 1856.  James Buckham had something to do with the building of the big house.  Johnnie Hope, Sammy Cook and Billy Buckham were the boys who stirred the waters at Meek’s mill in 1856, and “Johnnie” D. Dopf was setting type in a printing office at Lancaster , Wisconsin , the day the boys had their “clothing stolen.”  





Feb. 17, 1916


            My first visit to Benton township was in 1864 and it was in January or February of that year.  I went on Saturday to dine at the home of James Buckham.  The sleighing was fine and the dinner was excellent.  The company was much better than either sleighing or dinner. 

            At that time there was only one house between Needles’ ferry and the Buckham home, which was then half a mile south and three-fourths of a mile west of the present site of Langdon.  The farm southeast was that of the late Harmon Cooper, and it is safe to say that between the Missouri and Nishnabotna rivers and south of Buckham’s south line there was 100,000 acres of land which had never been turned by plowshare, and this was mostly covered with bluestem grass, which when, ripe, stood as high as a man’s head, when on horseback. 

            Among my early friends in Atchison county was George Thompson, known as well by the pet name of the “Swamp Lily”.  He was a cousin of the Thompson brothers, and about as large as any two of them.  He was a non-commissioned officer in Captain Colvin’s company, 12th Missouri Cavalry.  In an engagement with Quantrill’s gang, in Jackson county, in the Blue Hills, the men fought at will and generally dismounted and took shelter behind the scattered trees.  George selected a white oak sapling about four inches in diameter, from which he loaded and fired his navy revolver until there was nothing to shoot at.  The side of the sapling opposite to his position was peeled of bark two or three feet above and below the height of his eyes and his uniform had numerous bullet-holes to show that he had been wise in selecting even so small a tree for shelter, and there were several holes in the rim of his hat.  Capt. Colvin had his horse killed but he captured Quantrill’s horse and later brought him home and rode him after he was elected sheriff, and a better horse never jumped an eight rail stake and ridered fence in Atchison county. 

            In the spring of 1866 Mr. Rodney Burnett rented the Cooper farm, then owned by Col. Durfee, and as I spent most of my time in surveying, Mrs. D. made her home with her father and family, and I visited there every two or three weeks on Sunday, or at least part of the day.  Rush of work was over early in September and I had more leisure and generally spent Saturday down on the farm.  I rode from Rock Port to the McMichael farm with George Thompson, where we parted company.  I had not been at home half an hour when Thompson appears, mounted on a very large mule.  He informed me that Mrs. D. and I were invited to supper at the Buckham home, and that he would call for us in half an hour, and he do so; with him he brought boys and girls of the Gray family, who lived on adjoining farms.  These were the children Lytle and Willis Gray, five or six in number, and all well mounted.  In those days everybody rode horses, mules and sometimes oxen, and the horseracing by w0omen and men was a very common, as well as exciting amusement.  Capt. Hope had recently made a fine saddle for Mrs. Dopf and I had presented her with a fine Comanche Indian pony and it was a beauty to look at, but retained many of its wild habits; and I had its mate, but I had had it longer in training.  Henry Coggins rode him the first time he was ever ridden with a smooth bit in his mouth, and he made the quickest trip ever made from court house hill, down Rock street and thence down Water street to the south, and where the pony was stopped by the fair ground fence, eight feet high, after he had jumped over a cord of wood in his flight.  Henry dismounted and led him back home.  He said he would have gotten off sooner, but saw no good place to stop. 

            George Thompson was leader of the cavalcade, and I am sure that no King of England ever looked as well as “Swamp Lily” did as we galloped after him.  At the school house he shouted:  “Follow me!  We’ll take Thompson’s cut-off!” which we soon discovered was nothing more than a narrow path, and which was as straight as the bees fly from the point where it left the wagon road to the Buckham home, and we had to follow in single file.  Thompson led, I followed and Mrs. D. followed and each couple came after in the same order, each gentleman followed by his lady.  Five or six hundred yards further on, a flock of prairie chickens flew up from the path, and their noise frightened “Swamp’s” mule and he “Bucked!”  I did not see where his rider lit.  My pony, “Ben” ran south, and I gave him free rein for a half minute, and then I returned by the way I came, where I found Thompson mounted and looking around in all directions.  I asked him which way Mrs. D. had gone.  He pointed north and I went north as rapidly as Ben could carry me, for one-fourth of a mile, where I found Mrs. D., holding her pony, Miss Lucy, by the bridle rein, in the road within ten feet of the Nishnabotna river, but she had lost her riding hat, which was a wonderful creation.  All the king’s retinue were called together and search was made for the lost “head-gear”, and in ten of fifteen minutes the lost was found and restored to its owner. 


… and his accomplished wife have been dead for many years, but are held in blessed memory by all who knew them. 

            When we arrived at the Buckham home we found not only the family, but a large number of other invited guests, and among them I remember George Baird, The Roise family, the Dorts (brother and sister) and perhaps Fanny Arnold and brothers, as well as Dr. Buckham and family. 

            The supper followed, and no such suppers are served in these degenerate days.  There was little silver and no finger bowls and no frills on the many good dishes served, and good old fashioned hospitality and culture surrounded the festal board.  There was no champagne, but the drinks were much better and nobody went home drunk.

            The hour of ten, struck by the old fashioned clock that set on the mantel warned us that we had better retire.  Horses, mules and ponies were saddled, the ladies donned their riding habits, we mounted, bade the host and hostess adieu, waved farewell to the remaining guests and were “homeward” bound in less time than it takes to pencil our departure. 

            Billy Buckham was there but he was garbed different than he was on the morning I first met him and was almost as handsome as he is today. 

            I fear that your readers may tire of the memories that crowd upon me in the pleasant task you have given me.  If there be sure a person among your readers, if he, she or it will drop me a postal card with the simple word “Amen!” thereon, and sign their full name and address, I will stop short never to run again.  My address is Box 1217 , St. Joseph , Missouri . 





Mar. 2, 1916


            I am satisfied that Journal readers will decide at once that I am certainly indolent if not lazy.  I have just received a letter from John Little, of Shawnee , Okla. , under date of February 21st, 1916 , which has interested me much more than any of my letters will interest your readers, and I shall therefore copy so much of it as will add to the early history of Atchison county:

            “It is with pleasure that I take my pencil in hand to answer your letter which I received some time ago.  I sure enjoy your letters in the grand old Journal. I like to read of the people who started to build up Northwest Missouri , ‘the garden spot of the world!’  There is but one drawback there, and that is the occasional blizzard that sweeps down from Nebraska and the Dakotahs, and which finish in Oklahoma about the last of April. 

            “It was about that date of the year 1859 that our family loaded our goods in two covered wagons and left Illinois for Atchison county, Missouri , and on the 9th day of May we drove through Rock Port and on down the bluff road to the home of John Rundle and camped near the woolen mills.  The day following we reached the home of John Van Gundy and stayed there one week, trying to find a house in which to live, but they were about as scarce as hen’s teeth.  We finally found an old cabin on Joseph Waits’ place, better known as the Tom Angel place, and the mosquitoes were so thick and presented their bills so rapidly for stinging and blood-letting that we had to spread wagon sheets over a pole, forming a tent under which we could sleep. 

            The following fall we moved to another old cabin on the top of the big hill south of Milton , or Schultshour’s place, where we lived until the spring of 1861.  Mother then bought forty acres from Levi Hitchcock, wit no improvements thereon.  Schultshour built a house for Hamilton Hitchcock; that is to say, he did the carpenter work and Hitchcock did not pay the bill, and the carpenter filed a mechanic’s lien on the building to secure his bill.  The house was sold and Schultshour bid it in and sold it to mother and she intended to move it to her 40 acres.  James Hunger, Sr., had a claim on the land, where the house stood, which he sold to mother, and we moved to it in the spring of 1861. 

            “The last Sunday in October or the first Sunday in November of that year a band of Kansas Jayhawkers crossed the Missouri river and took all of Ad. Sharp’s horses except one old mare.  Sharp was feeding and keeping horses for the stage company and feeding the passengers and drivers; thereupon Sharp swore a great oath that if the company did not take their horses away he would burn the barn – that if he could keep nothing but Abolition horses he would keep none.  Mr. William Scott, the road agent, came at once to see mother and asked her to take the abolition stage horses and feed them and feed the passengers.  Mother told him the grass was all dry and that she had no hay to feed.  Mr. Frost told her to have some of the big, tall grass down on the Tarkio bottom cut.  He said he would feed them on that.  He would take the horses away from Sharp, if he had to tie them to trees.  Brother Wesley and I cut and put up a lot of the grass.  There were eight horses to feed and the drivers did the feeding. 

            “If my memory is correct the U.S. let the contract for carrying the mail in 1864, and the Western Stage Company got the contract, and carried passengers as well as the mail, and they moved from our place.  They drove from Mound City (the Jackson ’s Point) to Rock Port , and the Frost Company moved to Harvey Williams’ place.  When the Western Stage Company moved from our place, the Frost Company returned from the Williams place and continued for some time.  The Western then bought the Frost Company and then moved back to our place and remained there until the K.C. St. Joe & C.B. railroad was about completed, and then took the bottom road. 

            “In 1867, and from the time we began keeping the stage station, those coaching days covered stirring days and nights as well, for the coach wheels turned all day and all night, and often there were two or three coaches, with mail, baggage and passengers, in one train.  This was the case when the Union Pacific was completed and the rich miners were “homeward bound”.  One of the south-bound coaches was ‘held up’ near the crossing of the Little Tarkio, near the present site of Craig. 

            “The following drivers were on the route between Oregon and Mound City : John Wells and Tom Laraday; between Mound City and our place, Andrew Jackson and Christopher Neaterhauser; between our place and Rock Port , James Gaffney and Ben Dappen.  Now, alas, there are no stage drivers of the old school who could drive four, six or eight horses, and could throw the silk to perfection.  Happy Jack, when driving four, could pick a fly off the ear of the leaders with his whip as easily as you could with your fingers. 

            “From the fact that my youngest brother lives in Nodaway county, Missouri , I cannot give you the dates you ask for, as he has  …”


(… dance, appears to cover a great stretch of the United States , as witnessed by the fact that the letter above comes from a friend in Oklahoma , while below we give a letter from Max Kreutz, of St. Anthony , Idaho , to Mr. Dopf.  Since it contains some early day history, Mr. Dopf passes it along to The Journal for publication and we give it to our readers below.  – Ed.)


            St. Anthony , Id. , Feb. 16, ‘16

John D. Dopf, St. Joseph , Mo.

            Dear Sir:  Your welcome letter received some time ago but have been too busy to answer it as I should have done.  You are the last man in the world I ever expected to get a letter from and when I write to you I know I am writing to an old friend who hearts was always right. 

            You asked me when we had first met.  It was sometime during the summer of 1876, north of Tarkio, near the old Red schoolhouse.  You had some one with you, showing them some land, and I had been sent after a pail of water for the school.  You asked me for a drink and tossed me a nickel after you had drunk. And I’ve never forgotten the incident as it was the first nickel anyone had ever given me. 

            You also asked about the old Dutch nine.  It was a baseball club, organized some time in the later part of the seventies and re-organized in 1884, with myself, four of the Deel Boys, my brother Edward, Perry Moger, Ed Shipman, John Thomas, George Silence and some others I cannot remember at this date.  In a year or so we added such men as Reub. Filson, James A. and D.S. Kime and Chris. Shelby and we stuck together for five or six years without any changes and always got along fine, without any dissentions or wrangling of any kind.  We are all scattered out over this wide country and I would give anything to see the old boys once again. 

            You also asked me about my parents.  My father was a native of East Prussia and was born near Koenigsberg, in the year 1815; served nine years with the colors in the Prussian army and was wounded three times during the uprising of some of the South German states in 1848.  He emigrated to this country in 1855 and was naturalized in Minnesota in 1857; came to Atchison county in 1863 and lived on a farm near what is now the town of Westboro .  We lived just west three miles on West Tarkio river, near the old Deel place.  Philip Clouse and John Deel were our nearest neighbors and were also pioneers of that neighborhood.  Father passed away in October, 1878, and is buried in Walden Grove cemetery, near Walden’s Grove.  There is still plenty of snow here, about 1½  feet, but the weather has moderated and the sun has come out warm and the snow is leaving us fast.  Now, Mr. Dopf, if there is any thing I can tell you in regard to anyone that used to live near me in old Atchison , I will gladly do so. 

                                    Your old friend,

                                    MAX KREUTZ





Mar. 9, 1916


            While the chief comment which we hear about the interesting things told in the John D. Dopf memoirs, now being published in The Journal, is that by local readers of the paper, it appears our readers away from this county are equally as much interested. 

            Frequent letters make mention of this fact, the latest of these being one which has just come from Richard Gillet, now living in Omaha.  A portion of his letter says:

            “I like to hear from Atchison county, as I went there on April 25th, 1866 .  We lived neighbor to Dr. Lewis and I remember that the first funeral I ever attended in Atchison county was that of John Reynolds.  I moved to Holt county in 1874 and lived neighbor to John A. Little, east of Corning for ten years.  I am as familiar with the details of that write-up in last week’s paper as you are with today’s events.  I lived on a small farm east of Corning , since belonging to the Walter family.” 




Mar. 23, 1916


            Strange how a newspaper hunts out almost forgotten persons, who at one time or another were well known in a community, but who have moved away from the old home locality and gone out into the world, only to come to notice again, perhaps years afterward, through some little coincidence. 

            Such is the case with the writer of the letter below.  Years ago a resident of the Linden neighborhood, it has been a long time since he saw Atchison county.  But through the receipt of a recent copy of The Journal he is reminded of the old scenes and his letter is the result.  In this case it is J. Howard Moore, and from the letterhead he uses we note that he is in the Department of Ethics of the Crane Technical High School, Oadley Avenue and Van Buren street, Chicago. 

            This letter should interest all of our readers.


            Chicago , Ill. , March 15, ‘16

Dear Editor:

            It has been a long time since I saw a copy of your paper – till today a copy came, containing an account of the death of my old friend and teacher, D. A. Quick. 

            How full of changes are the years!  Time brings everything around.  How strange and far off seem the years of boyhood.  I knew Mr. Quick well.  I have known him since I was in my early ‘teens.  More than anyone else he induced me to go to college.  And I shall always feel grateful for this, for it changed my life.  Mr. Quick was one of the noblest, truest men that ever lived. 

            I suppose very few persons in Atchison county remember me now.  But it was just seven miles northeast of Rock Port , on the banks of Rock Creek, that I lived boyhood’s fadeless years.  I was a student in the Rock Port College and Normal School, which lived for one year in a rickety old rooming house on lower Main street , some thirty odd years ago.  Mr. Quick was one of the teachers and the life of the school during its brief but immortal career.  It was during this year that D.A. Quick wooed and won the beautiful Fannie Templeton.  I knew a good deal about it, for I rang the “college” bell for my room rent.  I shall never forget that bell.  Every time I rang it it turned over, and every time it turned over I had to climb up on the house and turn it back again. 

            I wonder where they all are now – those beings I used to know there in the blessed years gone by?  I notice the name of Henry Boettner in your paper.  I wonder if that is the Henry Boettner who used to live back of Linden by the edge of the great wood where we went along on the way to the “timber”, years and years ago.   If it is tell him I forgive him, for the years have given me understanding.  He was a little older than I was, and used to nearly scare me to death when I first started to school by starting toward me and telling me he was “going to eat me up.”  I shall never believe anything more sincerely than I did that awful declaration of his.

            Who lives at Linden now, I wonder?  Are the Klauses all gone?  And the Carpenters?  Where is John Hopkins, my cousin, who used to pick hazelnuts with me on his father’s farm on High Creek?  Does the little old church still stand in the village square, with the hitching posts around it, as it did in the barefoot days away back there?  Does the fennel scent the roadside airs as it did forty years ago when we drove to church on Sunday mornings in our farm wagon? 

            I sit here tonight in this great city and think back along the years.  Life is so full and so different now – full of teaching, writing and problem solving.  But, oh, those precious memories away back there in the morning!  The prairies are gone, where we used to gather wild strawberries and tiger lilies, but the old school house still stands, I am told, where the High Bank lifts its formidableness above the singing stream. 

            Phantoms of the past!  Friends and companions of boyhood’s dreamy days!  Greetings! across the sands of the fast-flying years.