History of Sycamore Township, Kansas
From: History of Butler County, Kansas
BY: Vol. P. Mooney
Standard Publishing Company
Lawrence, Kansas 1916

By Mrs. Lizzie Bishop Harsh.

I esteem it quite an honor to be asked to add a little to the history of the great county of Butler. It was some time in February, 1860, that my father and mother, Elias and Nancy Jane Bishop, with my two sisters, Permelia and Emma, and myself landed in Butler county on the west branch of the Walnut river at the home of Uncle John Bishop, who, with his family, had moved there the year before. It was only a few days before we bought our farm north of Chelsea, moved and lived in a sheet shed belonging to G. T. Donaldson.

The doctors in our old home in Iowa advised my father to move and settle somewhere in the West on account of mother's health, which was very bad at that time. The following summer my father and cousin, Will Bishop, built our new home out of logs out of our own timber, puncheon floor, clapboard roof, and it was here that one more was added to the family, a baby brother, J. E. Bishop. Our house was one room and a shed kitchen. It was to us a mansion. My father was a carpenter; soon the country began to settle up and father had plenty of work. He helped to build the school building at Chelsea. Mother was a mid-wife and so had work out of the home, as the nearest doctor to be had was at Emporia. Just think of going to Emporia for all groceries, lumber and everything that we used. We brought one load of supplies with us, so did not have to go to town soon. We were homesick many times, but there were two classes of people, "goers and stayers," and we belonged to the latter class, as we were not able to go. We never wanted for meat, as my father was a hunter and brought in great many deer, chickens and a few turkeys. I remember we had fine wild plums, raised sorghum and good gardens, but we had some things that were far from pleasant, grasshoppers, drought, prairie fires, hot and cold winds; Indians were plenty. I will always remember the first Indians that called at our home. We yet lived in the shed. Three very large fellows, real blanket and painted Indians came in without being asked, warmed by the fire, talked and then went out and looked at cousin's ponies, came in and warmed more, talked and looked around. Well, we girls stayed close toe mother, who was so frightened that she was pale. The Indians said, "Squaw `afraid, big `afraid." They did not ask for anything. We learned afterwards that they were looking for stolen ponies.

Chelsea had the first school in the county, a little log hut on the bank of the Walnut, just east of the Donaldson home. Sister Permelia and I were pupils under three teachers (Mrs. Bates, Lizzie Shriver, now Mrs. Lizzie Ellis, and Mrs. J. E. Buchanan) in the little old cabin. By that time we had our new school house, No. 10, and it got that number by dividing the district and giving No. 1 to the northern district. By this time we had many neighbors and a saw mill on the Donaldson farm, very near our old log school house, and here I must say that my father made many, if not all, of the caskets to bury our dead, and one was our dear neighbor, G. T. Donaldson, who met his death by a saw log rolling off the wagon and onto him, crushing him. If people who complain of hard times and think they have so little could go back and go through one month of the early days they would be thankful and would not complain. Well, we lived through it all and enjoyed life, too. The whole neighborhood was one family. When the Ellises or Donald-sons killed a sheep, calf or pig, the Bishops had some, too; no strife or selfishness then. Soon people wanted some kind of amusement. The first was dancing, then parties: I think it was the second or third summer before we ever heard a sermon, and that was at a camp meeting at El Dorado under a big tree. Don't remember the preacher's name or denomination; only remember that El Dorado had a prisoner there with a. big ball of iron chained to his feet and he was converted and the minister helped carry the ball into the river and immersed him. We had a little Sunday school in the log school house.. We had no Sunday school literature, just the Bible, learned verses and received cards; sometimes we committed whole chapters to memory. Miss Maggie Vaught conducted the Sunday school and later Mrs. Lizzie Shriver.

It must have been about 1879 that father sold the home, and we moved to El Dorado for a short time; bought and moved to Turkey Creek in 1881; sold and moved to Sycamore Springs, and now will tell a little about Sycamore. I taught the first school in Sycamore. Before we moved here I taught in a room in J. B. Parson's house. Before the term was out the new school house was finished, and that was almost in Mr. Parson's yard. The first postoff ice was at Mr. Hubbard's, two miles south of us. J. B. Parson built the house at the springs in 1870. Frank Donaldson at the same time built a little store just across from the Parsons house and sold it soon to William Shriver, of El Dorado, who sold eats and drinks to the travel. This was the old stage route. Mr. Slover, an old bachelor, built the first log but on our farm, the first that was built in the township, and before this he built a stone stable on the farm now owned by Mrs. William Hoy. In 1870, George Snively and family, Sylvester Myers and family, came from Ohio, and Mrs. Snively told me that they left one load of household goods at Emporia and brought one load of lumber instead. They came to this stone stable, which had a manger, and it served both families until they came down to the springs and bought. Mr. Myers took eighty acres of school land and Mr. Snively bought one hundred and sixty acres of Mr. Stover. He began to build and sent teams back to Emporia after lumber and goods. In 1871, Philip Harsh and sons came from Ohio and bought out Parsons and Snively. Mr. Snively went west three miles and bought land, and now owns a dry oil well and Boo acres of land.

The old historic sycamore tree which gave name to the township, the first postoffice and church and school, has been blown down. The old house, which has had in time new roof, siding, floor and kitchen addition, is still standing, filled with grain, plows, etc. The old shop or store, whose foundation was not on a rock, has fallen. The Harshes were here only a short time when the postoffice was moved to their house and remained for years, and it was in this house that so many weary travelers were housed and fed. Father Harsh sat and slept in his chair many night to let the stranger have his bed and many times the doors would have to be closed so that the beds made from door to door. The upper story was already full. The man without means to pay was cared for as well as the one with money. It was in this house that the first sermon was preached. Preachers of all denominations were invited to preach. When a preacher came the boys on horses went and told the neighbors and all came. It was hard for Father Harsh to to come out here and do without his church, the German Reform.

As I write this and try to think of old times passed, the hard things we had to endure, the awful prairie fires and one terror to all was the chills and fever. We could stand the fever better than we could the chills, because often we were unconscious and did not realize the suffering, but oh the chill! How we did shake, and everybody had them the first, second or sometimes the third year, and now people come and go and we have forgotten the awful ordeal that we used to have to pass through, but we lived through and now in our old age, we are trying to enjoy our homes, telephones, automobiles and just waiting for the old ship to take us on.

Sycamore township was organized July 7, 1871. Its first officers were: J. K. Skinner, trustee; C. H. Hegwine, treasurer; J. Canfield, clerk. There are no railroads in the township, but we have one graded and are patiently waiting and watching for the arrival of the "Orient." There are many thousands of acres of grazing land and thousands of cattle are pastured thereon during each pasture season. Cattle are shipped from Texas to the Eastern markets in the spring, unloaded here and pastured during the summer, when they are reloaded and sent on to market.

Cassoday is the capital of this township and consists of all the accessories that are needed to make up a good, thriving country villlage, including a bank, blacksmith shop, stores of various kinds, hotel, churches and schools. The township is in the northeast corner of the county, and is eight miles north and south and fourteen miles east and west.

Return to [ Kansas History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ] [ Illinois Biographies ]

Kansas Counties at this web site - Anderson - Atchison - Butler - Leavenworth - Lyon - Sedgwick - Shawnee

Also see the local histories for [ CT ] [ IA ] [ IL ] [ IN ] [ KS ] [ ME ] [ MO ] [ MI ] [ NE ] [ NJ ] [ NY ] [ OH ] [ PA ] [ WI ]

All pages copyright 2003-2013. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy