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Letters, Memoirs & Family Stories
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Kansas Ancestors

As told in their own words

Bourbon County


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The following Family Memoir was provided by Michael Young, 22 July 2000.  This was written by his Great-Grandmother, Lora Minta Wasson.


The Following Story Written by LORA MINTA WASSON
For her nephew, Virgil Wasson.  In the summer of 1856, Dr. J. R. (James Riley) Wasson, then a young man left his native land (TN), near the city of Athens, bid goodbye to many friends, took his wife NANCY ELIZABETH (HARDWICK) WASSON and children, MARY FRANCIS, WILLIAM HAMILTON, and GARLAND HARDWICK WASSON, and started on a long journey to locate in what was then called the Far West, in what was known as the Territory of Kansas. 

Prior to 1854, Kansas was in the hands of various tribes of Indians. Some were natives, and others had been removed from other states. It was organized and opened for settlement as a Territory by an act of Congress in 1851.
Father, was much interested in this territory, and as it was opened for settlement, he wanted to build himself a home in Kansas.
His parents came with him, BENJAMIN WASSON AND LYDIA TALLANT, also his brothers and sisters, except one, his youngest sister, LYDIA WASSON, by name. (She Started) They were moving overland with teams and wagons.
They went one day's journey and pitched their tents to camp for the night, when they were overtaken by a young man by the name of ROBERT LOWERY.
It was he who bought the old home of my Grandfather BENJAMIN WASSON, where my father and his brothers and sisters were raised.
This Mr. Lowery moved into this home the day my Grandfather Wasson left. The house seemed so lonely without his sweetheart (LYDIA WASSON), to whom he was engaged and expected to go after in a year or so, when he moved into the house he thought he did not want to wait a year or so. 
He rigged up his team, got a preacher and was married in camp: and took her back the next day to her old house, where they lived until death parted them.
That Robert Lowery was one of the best husbands and fathers I ever saw. He was a brother to my Uncle ENOCH WASSON'S WIFE, 
When Lydia, started back, the rest of them moved on toward Kansas and came to the place where FORT SCOTT now stands.
They moved ( or Father did) 19 miles N.W. of Fort Scott, BOURBON COUNTY, and stopped for the winter on the bank of the Osage River, one mile S.E. of what is now known as the Old Wasson Place, which is 5 miles east of MAPELTON and 5 miles west of FULTON.
On the banks of this river is where I was born., November 24, 1856. There, now you will know how old I am, but I don't care. I'm really glad I've lived to be old. Life has always been precious to me, however rough the road sometimes. It would seem I was always glad I was alive. 
Brother CURTIS WASSON, was born on the Wasson Farm, January, 1870. This was your father's home (JASPER CURTIS WASSON) from the time he was 2 1/2 (two and one half) years old until he married and left, just as the rest of us did. Soon there none left.
Our parents died, so the house, which was so full of song and happiness, knows us no more, will know us no more forever. Though the place is still in the family, (Strangers Occupy It). 

Father always thought the negroes ought to be free, never believed in slavery; yet he took with him to Kansas a negro boy (10 years old) he bought from his Father ( my Grandfather BENJAMIN WASSON), because he did not want him sold out of the family.
On the route to Kansas, Father met a negro trader who thought Tom was such a fine looking negro, wanted to buy him, offered one thousand ($1,000.00) dollars for him.
He told father he had better sell him, the niggers would be freed. Then he'd get nothing for him. Father told him he knew they would, but Tom should not be sold. Father and Mother loved Tom. He saved sisters Mary's life once. 
Will and Mary were playing on the bank of a small creek near the house. Tom was watching them, Sister MARY FRANCIS WASSON, then 3 years old, thought she would make her Grandmother, who lived across the creek, a little visit. So she started to on the fool-log, when the dog took the same notion about that time, and in passing Mary, brushed Mary into the creek on the upper side of the foot-log, which (log) held her from washing downstream until Tom could reach the log, pull her out before her clothing got wet enough to sink her to the bottom of the creek.
Father brought Tom to Kansas, but the winter was too severe. Tom sickened and died. Father's sister, MINTA WASSON (Mrs. Roricker), brought a negro cook to Kansas, but she was induced to sell her cook. The sale of that negro woman, by whom and to whom, can be found on the dockets in the city of Fort Scott today, as the first negro woman sold on Kansas soil.
The winter we lived on the Osage was one fraught with hardship. I was an infant. Mother was sick all winter. The larder got low. Father went to Missouri for supplies. When he returned, there was a swollen river between him and his family. He had to wait until the river went down before he could cross.
In the Spring of 1857 my Father took a claim which has already been described. On this claim my parents had two prosperous years. Had fine crops, made lots of money: cattle, horses, hogs, and everything fat. Mother's brother, GEORGE HARDWICK, went to Kansas with my Parents. He did most of the farming. Mother had breakfast early and Uncle George was plowing just as soon as he could see the corn rows. Father was assessor of the County. He also kept the Post Office.
About this time there was great excitement among slaveholders and friends of freedom as to whether the territory should be controlled by one or the other party. In this great contest Kansas became the vanguard in the great struggle which resulted in the overthrow of slavery in the United States. This was before the formal beginning of the Great Civil War, known as the Kansas Struggle.
It was generally known Father was from the South, hense was considered a Southern sympathizer at least.
John Brown with his squad of men came by one day to capture him while he was preparing the mail to put it into the U.S.Mail bag. Father told Brown he would go with him just as soon as he got the mail started.
Father always had his presence of mind, so writes a note, slips in into an envelope, and put it into the mail bag with the rest of the mail. He goes off as prisoner with Brown.

In less than 4 days U.S. notified Brown to send Wasson home. After this, Father was in constant danger, but he would not believe it. His good Republican neighbors went to him, begged him to leave, told him he would get killed: still he stayed.
A few weeks later there came an old man to our house, whom the Jayhawkers had, had a prisoner for several days. He was tired and hungry. He sat down to rest. Mother was preparing his supper, (our supper was over), but before he got his supper eaten, the same men who had turned him loose to go home followed him to Father's house. One man came in, walked up to the old man, patted him on the shoulder, and asked Old Man Travis, if they had not treated him well? The old man answered "part of the time". The Jayhawker stepped back to the door, made aim, shot and killed the old man.
Father saw him falling, ran to him, took hold of him, and laid him on the floor.
Father saw he, himself, would be shot, so hurried to the door, closed it to gain time, stepped back to the bed, threw himself across a big fluffy new featherbed. This protected his body. One arm was exposed. Shooting now began in earnest. They shot through the door, tore it down, shot one of Father's cousins, thought they had killed him. Began shooting at Father, shot many times. Most of the balls went a little above him into the wall beyond. Two lodged in his arm. 
While the bullets were flying thick and fast, brother GARLAND HARDWICK WASSON, who was asleep, on the foot of the bed, wakened by the noise, raised up just in time for a bullet to make a dim line along the top of his head.
Mother was so frightened, she went to the door and begged them to leave, told them they had killed all of her menfolks, and one of the children. (she thought they had). Garland was scared so badly he stopped crying. Mother thought he too was killed. The Jayhawkers stayed a while: hearing no noise, they left. These were not the regular soldiers. (war had not yet been declared).
After they left, Mother went to Mr. Haverly's (Hattie Wasson's father's house.)
It was a bright moonlite night: told him her story. He came with her, and saw the condition we were in. He went away at once and notified some of our good neighbors. Some of them came the next morning, moved us into Missouri, or helped my Uncle to move us to Missouri. These were the good Republican neighbors who gave Father warning and begged him to leave sooner.
Father left several cribs of corn, lots of wheat, oats, potatos, etc. , and a new store building nearly finished.
In a day or so Mother's brother GEORGE HARDWICK, went back to our Kansas claim after $1,200.00, where Father had it buried. He was told afterward that had he had only gone out of sight when a posse of men surrounded the house and went searching for gold.
If they had met my Uncle, they would either killed him or taken him prisoner. At any rate, they would have gotten Father's money.
Father's arm was in a serious condition before Mother could get a physician. Finally she called in three doctors to hold council as to whether his arm had to be amputated. Two of the doctors wanted to cut if off. The other one said, "No!. The two who agreed stepped out of the room. The one stayed by Father's bedside, offered him a revolver, told him to 

shoot the first doctor who tried to amputate his arm. Said it was worth a thousand dollars. It could be saved. His arm soon got well, but was a little shorter and weaker than the other one. Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord. I would not hurt a hair of their heads. I have no hatred in my heart for them. It's probably for my good in many ways. I was getting rich and neglecting my duty to God. I was getting careless in my Christian work. I wish them well, and I have it in my heart to pray for them.
Father had a College Education, and this is one of the times he made it serve him. He went back to teaching school and at the same time took a review in the study of medicine. After his school was out, he began to practice medicine.
After war was declared, he, having a crippled arm, could not join either army, so he was the physician for the sick among the Union and Rebel families for many miles around. with Mother's help, which was no small amount, he made a fairly good living.
My folks kept sheep, raised some cotten, besides grain, vegetables, etc. Mother carded, spun, wove both our and wollen everyday wear. (Calico was 50 cents a yard).
She had five feather beds, the TICKS OF WHICH SHE SPUN, wove and made with her own dear hands. Father was proud (too proud). Soon after we moved to Missouri a kind neighbor brought him a two bushel sack of potatos (we left ours in Kansas), and offered them to Father, but Father would not accept them. The man started off disappointed. He looked back at Mother and said, "Mrs Wasson, won't you take them"? "Yes, sir", Mother said, 
"and glad to get them". The man looked glad, too. After that, Mother never refused a gift, whether she wanted it or not. If a child would offer a drink of water, even though she did not want it, she would not disappoint the child, but would drink a part of it and be glad.
Mother was optimistic, always cheerful. Though her health was poor at thirty-five (35) years old. she, however was systematic in her work and accomplished a great deal with sister Mary's help, who was quite a small girl at this time. She (Mary) spun both woollen and cotton yarn when she had to have a scaffold in front of the spinning wheel on which to walk back and forth to draw out the thread from the spinnel with her left hand while she turned the wheel with her right hand to twist her thread.
When Brother Will (WILLIAM HAMILTON WASSON ) was eight years old, with Brother Garland's (GARLAND HARDWICK WASSON ) help he raised fifteen acres of corn. (Garland was seven). The boys were good to look after the sheep and other stock, a great help in many ways as boys always are, as well as girls. Father begun to have farming done on a larger scale, hired help (he, himself, kept to his practice ) , and raised wheat , oats, corn, potatos, etc. Had good crops.
About this time it was necessary for Father to return to Kansas to look after his homestead. He had lived on it two years but had never proved up on it, so he took a man with him (he had to have a witness that he slept on his claim lately ), and went back to Kansas. When he and his man went to his Kansas home, he found it occupied by strangers. Before these people found out who Father was, he managed to have them into one room with only two doors. Father's man guarded one door while Father made himself a pallet on which to sleep in front of the other door. You see, he had to sleep a 

little, and no one must leave the room, for they might let it be known the Wasson was in the neighborhood. These were war times now and Wasson would not likely get back to Missouri if the Jayhawkers found him. Several wanted his homestead and would be glad to report him. After he had a little nap, he and his witness left at once for Fort Scott. It was in the wee hours of bright moonlight night. They arrived at the courthouse just as the sun was peeping above the horizon, went in, met the conditions of the law and thereby made the first preemption in Bourbon County, Kansas. His preemption stands first on the dockets in Fort Scott and can be found there today.
It was soon known that Father had been back to Kansas and preempted his homestead. Then the report got out that he was in Price's Raid, and from that report was found excuse to confiscate his Kansas home, which a few years later gave Father much trouble and expense to get back. After he sued for his home and won his case in court, paid up his lawyer's fee and other costs, he had to pay the man who was living on it $300.00 for possession.
In 1863, the war was something fierce, as war always is. Father was in constant danger, hardly dared to sleep in his own house. No family ever went to bed at night with any feeling of assurance that they would have a roof over their heads at the dawn of another day, many houses were burned.
Soldiers would enter homes, pile up feather beds, rip them open, set fire to them, then stay around and not even let the women take anything out of the house. Not satisfied, they would drive off most of their stock, sometimes all. We were never burned out or lost any stock, but that constant fear and restless nights were trying on my Mother's health.
Father took his bed and slept in he orchard. One night Father came into the house bringing his bed with him. Mother asked him why he cam in? "Why, Nan," he replied, "I wake myself up every night singing. I'm safer in the house than I am out there". Father was a singing teacher and a religious man, always led singing in church and protracted meetings. He would often sing a song clear through and never wake up or know the next morning he sang it. By the way, that singing was most beautiful in the quiet of the night.
Mother was so worried about him, she persuaded him to go to Illinois, farther away from the seat of the war. He considered the matter, and thinking that was the best thing to do, having a sister living there ( she moved there previously ), he bought us children a new Testament apiece ( mine was a red-backed one ), bid us all goodbye, after making arrangements to have his family looked after for a short time, and left several stacks of wheat and oats, a good crop of corn in the field, potatos, etc. Yes, and I well remember a patch of cane. I went to the cornfield with Mother. She went to pick a mess of cornfield beans. I took one of her best knives with me: I wanted to cut me a stalk of cane which grew near the corn. While I was getting my cane. Mother went to the house. I lost my knife. Losing the knife and missing Mother frightened me ( I was seven years old ). I went to the house crying. 
When I got there, the house and yard was full of soldiers. When Mother got in sight of the house, she saw the soldiers but the loom house where she wove our clothing was 

between her and the dwelling, she stepped into it, went behind the door, took down some old clothing which was hanging there, dropped them down over a 5 gallon demi-john full of alcohol which Father had lately bought to use in the practice of medicine. The soldiers happened not to suspect those old clothes.
These Union soldiers had to have dinners there ( 300 of them ) Part of them went to a near neighbors. In the smokehouse hung many hams, shoulders and middling meat.
There was flour and meal in the house. Mary was twelve years old, a fast cook. She never knew when she learned to cook. She was always brave and dependable. Afraid of nothing, she would go, the darkest nights if it be necessary, alone to the bubbling spring a furlong away ( 1-1/8 mile ) for fresh cool water in case any of our family was sick.
I was always timid, afraid of soldiers and the dark. It makes my blood boil to this day when I hear of parents and teachers shutting up children in dark closets to punish them.
I taught ten terms of school and I never found it necessary. I think if my Mother had treated me that way, I would have died of fright: yet, even at seven years old, I was somewhat dependable. Mother thought me a good nurse, would often praise me for taking good care of baby Kisiah ( Lucy Kisiah Wasson ). Kissie, we called her ( she died in her second summer ). Then there were two other brothers later on for whom I was a nurse, by the names of ROBERT McTYRE WASSON and JASPER CURTIS WASSON. These I claimed for my very own, so Mother gave them to me one day.
Well, I see I've left my subject. I commenced to tell about getting dinner for those soldiers. One of the neighbors girls was at our house that day. She and two of the soldiers helped Mother and Mary cook their dinner, which was mostly of meat and bread and butter and other things we happened to have on hand.
Some of the soldiers were very respectful: others cursed the cook all the time. They cooked on the stove in the kitchen an on the fire place in the living room.
The Soldier's horses were hitched far up and down the lane and in the orchard near the wheat stacks. Wheat and oats were fed to those horses in the sheaf. The Officers hurried the soldiers so fast they did not all get enough to eat. Mother looked over the room, saw one man who looked hungry. She raised the lid to one of her Dutch Ovens, slipped out a cake half-done, tossed it to him. He looked his thanks and I would not be surprised if she and Father had not made his acquaintance in Heaven before this time.
Before all were through eating, the wagons were loaded with what sheaf wheat and oats they had not fed to their horses. In one wagon was put what was left of the meat from the smokehouse. A few of the soldiers who were loading the wagons did not get much to eat. The officers hurried them so ( afraid of the rebels not far away ). When Mother saw these soldiers coming down the road past the house, she poured her fresh buttermilk out of her churn into a larger water bucket, picked up some tin cups, took it out to the gate and gave it to the soldiers as they passed by: any yet she was a rebel. Father was more of a Union than she.
Neither of them believed in slavery: both thought the Government ought to have paid the slaveholders something for their negroes and freed them that way, not so much because they thought the slaveholder ought to have pay for them, but thought it would have saved so many precious lives, and they thought murder was murder whether it was in times of war or peace.
Of course secession would have necessarily cost many lives, but the two causes made it so many, many more. My parents knew secession was wrong, but they loved the South and the Southern people and had great sympathy for them; but they never wanted the Union divided.
Perhaps you think that Rebel woman fed these Union Soldiers because she was compelled to do so. That is true, but she was not compelled to do it with a Christian Spirit. She was not compelled to be glad she could feed even an enemy if she thought he was hungry. Then I think too she always had in mind her two youngest brothers, (MACK and EVANS Hardwick ) who were in the Rebel army and who later got shot an killed in the three day battle of Gettysburg. She probably thought some Union Mother might show them some kindness. After the soldiers left, we still had our horses, cows, sheep, corn, sorghum; after we worked up the cane, potatos, etc.
We went through the coming winter nicely with the exception of a great deal of anxiety and restlessness on Mother's part. Father by this time had built up a large practice in Illinois near Decatur, and the schools in Illinois were at that time the best in the Union, so Father rented a large farm near a schoolhouse, bought a big, fine team and wrote to us to come to him.
He did not dare come after us, so in the spring of 1864 Mother disposed of what she could that she could not take with her, loaded our bedding and wearing apparel into a big army wagon which scooped out at both ends, put a cover on to it.
The boys, who were small, hitched three yoke of oxen to it, hitched the horse to a covered spring wagon. Mother and us small children rode in the spring wagon. In this wagon we carried our cooking utensils, also churn in which Mother strained the mild. When we camped at night she could get take out butter and salt it for breakfast.
We had a saddle horse to drive the loose stock. When we got to the Mississippi River at St. Louis, one hefer refused to go into the boat, but plunged into the river instead, swan all around the boat came out onto the bank from which she started, then walked quietly into the boat. Mother drove 60 head of sheep, lost none of them, One lamb got crippled. Mother sold it for one dollar ($1.00).
It was a long, hard journey. Some of the road was very rough. Part of the way it was very muddy. It rained lots. We were six weeks and three days on the road. Mother would not travel on Sundays. One Saturday night we camped near a house to stay over Sunday. Monday morning one yoke of oxen was gone. The folks at the house near where we camped would not let us have any more water, so Mother moved a half-mile farther on where some very nice people lived in a large white house. They let us stay as long as we wanted to, and they helped the boys hunt the oxen. They hunted until the next Saturday night.
The next Monday morning after we had camped at this place a week the boys hitched the remaining two yoke of oxen to the wagon to start on and leave the missing yoke of oxen. 

Mother thought she would send them out one more time to hunt the oxen. The boys were not gone long on this last hunt. Mother looked out and saw them driving the oxen in.
They found them just where they turned them loose the week before. The man who hid them got scared, thought Mother would not leave without them. Then he was afraid of his neighbors. 
Father had planned to meet us at Springfield, Illinois, but we took the wrong road and missed Springfield, so we got through before he got back to his home, but his sister, My Aunt Minta, after whom I was named, gave us a hearty welcome. We had a few prosperous years in Illinois.
Father's practice grew and grew. The people were wealthy, so his professional visits were cash. Father kept us in school when school was in session. He would help us in our school work at night. The boys got to be rather good farmers. We had good crops.
Still, Father longed for his Western home and decided to move back to Kansas.
When the people who lived near his Kansas home heard Wasson was coming back. Howard says, "Wasson had better not come back here."

Hill - "Why"?

Howard - "Because Wasson has enemies here".

Hill - "Jesus Christ has enemies".

Howard - "Yes, and they killed Him, too",

Hill - "Yes, but he arose again, and Wasson will rise again".

.......and he did, even in Howard's estimation. Howard sent for Father to come to his bedside to pray for him when he was sick to die. Father moved back to Kansas in 1869.

The preceding pages are a sketch of a part of my Father's History written by request of my dear nephew, Virgil Wasson. BY LORA MINTA WASSON YOUNG 

This story was RENAMED, “Ticks of Which She Spun”, by 
Michael D. Young, GGrandson, of Lora Minta Wasson Young.

Lora Minta Wasson married, Michael Thomas Young, they had four children, 3 sons, 
and one daughter, George Wasson Young, Edward McTyre Young, James Goodman Young, and Helen Lucille Young. They moved to Arkansas County, AR, in 1904. 
George Wasson Young, married Lola Marguerite Creecy, in Arkansas County, on July 4, 1920, they had 7 children,,,,Donald D. Young, was their 4th son, and is father to Michael D. Young, Contact for him at snail mail: P.O.Box 1667, Crosby, Tx 77532 or 281-456-9431 FAX, GENESEARCH@prodigy.net

Gold Bar

Last update: Tuesday, March 18, 2003 00:58:10

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