A letter from Leander McCulloch to J. Melvin Hicks

Printed in the Newton Press
©Transcribed by Kim Torp

Wednesday, July 24, 1889


"A Former Jasperite"

Sioux City, IO., July 15th, 1889

J. MELVIN HICKS, Newton, Ill.,

DEAR SIR: Your kind letter of the 3rd. inst, was received on the 5th, and for which I shall ever hold you in grateful remembrance, as I have neither met nor corresponded with any of my relatives or acquaintances in that country since I left there in 1864, nearly twenty-five years ago. Yes, I do remember you very distinctly and also your father (submitter's note: Ellis Hicks was Mel's father). Well now for a series of interrogatories:

Where are uncle William and Thomas Eagleton and D.P. Smith? Also their families if living? Where are Mr. John Badger, Polk Smith, Capt. Lawrence Banta and Mr. Benjamin Kilburn? I came to Iowa in Sept., 1877, landing in Keokuk, thence going to the western part where I have remained ever since, now almost 22 years. I have been engaged in the pedagogic profession all the while with the exception of _______ (illegible) a commercial college in Des ____ (illegible). Consequently, I may hereafter be considered on the retired list, not however, from the amount of wealth accumulated in the business, but from declining health. My first visit to Sioux City was in the year of 1870, remaining about one week. I revisited the city again in 1883 and made it my home in the following year, 1884. Its phenomenal growth and rapid development has been mainly since the last national census when it contained a population of 7,200; the city now containing 45,000 inhabitants. A large steel bridge spans the Missouri at this point costing over $2,000,000; one pontoon is now in use for footmen and teams and also connecting the cities of Covington, South Sioux City and Stanton, in Nebraska with our great and growing city in Iowa. The city has 25 miles of street car lines, two Motor lines of railways their length respectively being 3 and 5 miles, one cable line of 3 1/2 miles, 3 large packing houses, one extensive foundry with several other manufacturing establishments now in process of erection in the new addition of Leeds. Sioux City has 35 churches, 25 public school buildings. The North Western Business College is located here, the Normal and Training School is in charge of Miss Eva D. Kellogg. Sioux City is finely located, its boundary on the west being the Missouri, on the north the Big Sioux river, on the south the Floyd river. The area of Sioux City is 64 square miles. I think our city is destined to become the new Chicago of the great north west. The productivity of our exceedingly fertile soil and healthful climate all tend to the development of this beautiful city as the great metropolis and commercial highway between the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards. Among the number of railroads centering or terminating here may be mentioned the Sioux City and Pacific R.R., Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha R.R., Chicago and North Western R.R., Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul R.R., Union Pacific R.R., and the Pacific Short Line R.R., now being built extending from Sioux City to Ogden, Utah Ter., 969 miles there connecting with the Central Pacific from San Francisco. Our 3rd Annual Corn Palace Festival begins Sept. 23rd and closes Oct. 5th, continuing two weeks and is to be on a more magnificent and grander scale than ever, more costly and built and operated upon a larger scale. After ____ (illegible) pay us a visit at that time if you can do so conveniently.

Write soon and give me the foregoing desired information.

Very Respectfully Yours,

Leander McCulloch

Newton Press Editor's Note: ["In the early part of the war McCulloch and Marion Kilburn, then boys not over 18, were sitting on a log in the woods of Grove township talking. One of them suggested that they enlist as soldiers and acting on the spur of the moment, they at once started for the residence of John Nichols, now of Kingman County, Kan., where before night they had enrolled their names in defense of the government. When the war was over, Kilburn returned to this county and afterwards moved to near Casey. Wm. Eagleton, John Badger, Benjamin Kilburn and Polk Smith have been dead for several years. D.P. Smith and Lawrence Banta live in Newton, and Thomas Eagleton on a farm in Grove township"]

Letter to the PRESS from George Burr

From Kansas
Elmwood, Barton Co., Kas.
May 29th 1874

EDITOR PRESS: I take great pleasure in writing to you to inform my friends of old Jasper that myself and family are all well, and I hope when they read these lines that they will all be enjoying the same good blessing. I am very well pleased with this country, and belive it is a healthy place. We have had good health so far at least. The neighbors inform us that they have no fever and ague here. The soil of this country is good. Corn, potatoes, garden stuff and other vegetables look well, considering it being on sod. I have corn eight inches high, and in four weeks from now I think I will have new patatoes, of the Early Rose kind. The fall and spring wheat, oats, barley and rye which was sown on ground of two years cultivation looks nice. This country is settling up very fast. When I came here I couldn't see but five houses, and now I can count 28. This looks like business. I would like to have you come and see the country. It will only cost you 20 dollars to come and go from St. Louis by taking an emigration ticket, which will be good for 30 days. It will be worth the 20 dollars to take the trip. You will see some nice country and plenty of buffaloes, antelopes and jack rabbits, and if you are a good shot you can kill a good supply of game. I haven't killed anything but a 2 year old Texas steer, which I paid 7 dollars for. This is the extent of my hunting in Kansas. As soon as wheat is threshed I will let you know about what it turned out per acre. Send me the press to Elmwood, Barton county, Kansas, and oblige. This is all I will say at present. I send my best respects to you, your father, George Walker, George Fithian and Fuller Nigh and all my friends in Jasper county.
George Burr.

A Letter to the PRESS from California
[from W.H. WADE]

Greenville, Cal, July 12, 1874
EDITOR PRESS - I perceive that you still continue to edit and publish the PRESS. I would not have known it however, had it not been for kindness of my young friend, Frank Kibler, who now holds forth at Fair View, Idaho. Frank and I are in full communication ---- [can't read] He sends me a number ---- [can't read] occasionally. I was ------ [can't read]
I suppose has lately been --- [can't read] called the Jasper County Clipper. It appears to be the organ and especial devotee to the interest of the Grange. I take great pleasure in reading the Press and Clipper. In the editorial mention is made of persons, places and things that sound familiar. I see, however, that some changes have taken place in Newton since my departure. That is, I see business cards and business men spoken of who were not there when I left. I suppose the dear old town is improving gradually. In reading the Clipper I noticed an article which wraps matters and things in mystery, and I shall have to await a letter from some kind of friend to explain. The article was written in reference to our old friend, Ogden Monell. It sets outs something like this or thusly: "The dead's alive; the lost is found. Who should appear, &c, but Ogden Monell, who immediately surrendered himself to the sheriff and entered into bonds for his appearance at the next term of Court, &c.
Please parden this diversion. a California preacher who in speaking was in the habit of interjecting the personal pronoun he where it was not necessary, began his discourse thusly: "The text will be found in 1st Epistol general of Peter, chapt. 5, v. 8. And the devil goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Now, my friends, the subject will be divided into four heads: 1st, we will enquire who the devil he was? 2d, where the devil he was? 3d, where the devil he was going and who the devil he was seeking? 4th, what the devil he was roaring about.

Now in regard to my friend Monell, I wish to know where the devil he had been and what the devil he had done that made it necessary for him to give himself up to the sheriff. Ogden was the incumbent of the circuit Clerk's office when I left home. I also noticed his re-election, and to all human appearances he was filling that office with honor and profit, and I am sorry to hear that anything has happened unto him, detrimental to his interests as a citizen and an officer. Other articles I noticed which would indicate that the citizens of the dear old town and county generally are prosperous and happy, and may God grant it, for I love to hear that my old friends are doing well.

The Fourth of July was celebrated at Taylorsville, a neighboring town some 12 miles distant from this place. It came into my mind that I would go and participated in the celebration of the old fourth, that day that brings rejoicing and thanksgiving to the hearts of the American people. So I went down, and rode an animal of the horse persuasion. I think he was a horse after the pattern of Mark Twains horse that he rode to the Holy Land. His tale had been cut off or stove up - I don't know which. At all events his tail was s[can't read] crossing a stream of water [can't read] sat down on his haunches. My comrade remarked to me that my horse had fallen. I told him he was under a mistake; that the horse was sitting for fish, for he looks like a setter of the pure blood. I think he was trained by Resey, for he is a rare specimen of the horse. The day was celebrated after the old style. Some festivities, however, were participated in that were not usual at home. Such as athletic games, foot racing, jumping, wrestling, jumping high, throwing a heavy sledge hammer and shoulder stone. The best man at any of the above games would draw a small prize from three to five dollars coin. We also had the regular routine on programme - procession, brass band, music, reading declaration, oration, dinner, &c, &c. The day passed off pleasantly and quietly. No disturbance of any kind and in the evening a grand ball was given at one of the hotels of the place. Eight quadrilles on the same floor of the youth and beauty of the county is a pretty sight. The orchestra music was first-class. All was quiet - no drunkeness; no rowdyism of any kind. It beats Newton; doesn't it?

I would say to my old friends that I am well pleased with California as my adopted State. She is still young but might be said to be the wonder and admiration of the world. She sprang from primitive isolation only a few years ago. It may be that in the pursuit of wealth that the moral and mental forces have not kept pace with material developments, but if such is, or has been the case, it will not continue so long, for she has, after the pattern of the older Eastern States, inaugurated the free school system, and in fact everything that tends to the good order and well being of a commonwealth is being developed in California, and with her great area, the diversity of her climate, the fertility of her soil and her inexhaustible deposits of minerals, she is destined to become a great State. But, as is common, with all men, I have a peculiar love for old Illinois. My prejudices run in her favor, I suppose from the fact that she is my native State. I love the very name of Illinois, and as the thirsty doe panteth for the cooling water brook so panteth my soul for thee, O, Illinois and particularly for old Jasper. But [can't read] myself very low in the scale of humanity, and for fear of my inability to ever retrieve lost character and fortune, I thought best to seek an asylum in the wilds of the far west, for I have to agree with Josh Billings that the three most difficult things in life are: 1st carry an arm full of live eels up a steep hill without spilling an eel; 2d, acting as a refferee at a dog fight without getting mad; 3d, to stay in Newton without getting drunk.

I am aware that I have my friends in old Jasper, who at all times evinced a disposition to extend the helping hand, and give me good counsel; and at the same time I am aware that I had enemies that, at every step downward was ready to give me a kick, and glorified in my downfall. But I shall ever cherish feelings of love, and and due respect for my old friends and charity and good will toward those that hated me, for I am endeavoring to observe the golden rule "As ye would that others should do unto you, do ye also unto them."" I should be most happy to receive a line from any old friend who may think proper to write. Nearly four years have elapsed since I left home, but time does not seem to have the effect to eradicate the memory of those old Jasperites whom I love to hold in remembrance, and to conclude this letter, would say that I wish all a long and happy life, and that when the time shall come to lay aside this mortal coil and taken upon themselves immortality that their days may end peacefully as a summer eve, when the sun does down without a cloud. W.H. WADE.

Down on Oklahoma
by Oscar Burwell
Written for the Newton press, 1903
(Contributed by djk@acronet.net)

Oscar Burwell is my name,
From Hidalgo, Illinois, I came;
You will find me out west in a country of fame,
Starving to death on a goverment claim.

Harrah for Mills County, the land of the free,
The home of the grasshopper, bedbug and flea.
I'll sing of it's praises and tell of it's fame,
While starving to death on a goverment claim.

My house is built of the natural sod,
The walls are erected according to hod;
The roof has no pitch, but level and plain,
And always gets wet when it happens to rain.

My clothes they are ragged, my living is rough,
My bread is corn-doger, both solid and tough;
But still I am happy and live at my ease, On sorghum mollasses, bread and cow peas.

How happy I am when I tumble in bed,
A rattle-snake hisses a tune at my head,
A gay litle centipede, all above fear,
Crawls over my pillow and into my ear.

How happy I am on my goverment claim,
I've nothing to lose and nothing to gain;
I've nothing to eat and nothing to wear,
From nothing to nothing, I've harvested air.

Now, all you claim-holders, I hope you will stay,
And chaw hard-tack till you're old and grey;
But as for me, I'll no longer remain,
And starve like a dog on a goverment claim.

Farewell to Mills county, farewell to the west,
I'll go back east to the one I love best;
I'll go back to St. Charles, (MO) and work in the shop,
For since I've been here, I failed in a crop.

Farewell to Mills county, where brezzes arise,
Where the sun never sets and the flea never dies;
Where the wind never ceases, but always remain,
Til it blows us all off our government claim.

A song to my friends: Oscar Burwell.

A Supposed Horrible Murder
October 28, 1875

Report comes to our ears of a supposed cold-blooded and revolting double murder, alledged to have been committed in the Dark Bend, a small scope of sparsely settled and secluded territory lying in the southern part of Crawford and the southeastern part of Jasper counties respectively.
We are not in possession of any particulars whatever other than those communicated to us by John P. Harrah, present Prosecuting Attorney for this county, and which we hereby reproduce substantially as follows:

About one month ago Nelson Bogard, a resident of the Dark Bend and well known to many of our citizens, went to Indiana for some purpose unknown and after remaining in that state probably a week or ten days, returned home in company with his cousin who, by the way, rode a very fine horse. It appears that they arrived at Board's house a little after dark and proceeded to the stable to put up their horses, when Board put an end to the life of his comrade by a pistol shot.

There were two little boys (brothers) living with Bogard at the time, whom he had taken some time previous to raise. In five or six days after the disappearance of Bogard's cousin, the oldest of the two boys committed some trivial offense, for which Bogard gave him a terrible whipping. The boy, smarting from an unjust and overly severe chastisement at the hands of his unnatural protector, retaliated by saying that he would tell about him (Bogard) shooting that man in the stable; which threat led the younger brother to enquire, "What man?" when the punished boy replied, "Why, that Indiana man." The next morning the boy who made the threat was found dead in his bed - supposed by some to have been hanged -- and in due time was buried, Bogard claiming that he died of a sinking chill. The younger boy, in the mean time having fled the country in fear of losing his own life, has not been heard of. The horse, bridle and saddle of the supposed murdered man still remains at Bogard's house. Bogard reports that the man left his house about two weeks ago and that he has not heard of him since.

The particulars above are substantially as we obtained them from Mr. Harrah, and if there are any proofs that will in anywise warrant or establish the above charges, Bogard should be arrested at once and held to account for his misdeeds. However, we cannot believe that he would be guilty of such a crime.

A Horrible Outrage by a Mob
Newton Press
Friday, July 1, 1870

On or about the 19th ult. our pleasant village was thrown into quite an excitement by a report that one of our citizens living 8 or 9 miles southwest of town, had been taken, at midnight, from his bed by an infuriated mob and lynched. Drs. Cadwalader and Maxwell were called to dress the wounds of the almost dying man, and on their return fully confirmed the report.

Some of the midnight assassins have been apprehended and held to bail; and it is hoped by the diligence of the official authorities, that all who participated in this demon like act may be brought to the bar of justice and punished to the full extent of the law.

The facts as we gather them from the evidence at the examination before Esqires Melton and Shup, are about as follows:

On the night of the 18th ult., at about 12 o'clock, when Mr. H.H. Bailey and family (on whom the outrage was committed) were slumbering beneath the roof of his own domicile, these midnight raders burst in his door with a rail, entered his house, seized, hood-winked and conveyed him some distance to a neighboring grove and bound him to a tree with bark, then beat, bruised and kicked him until he was thought to be dead, in which condition they conveyed him near his residence and tumbled him over the fence. From which place Mrs. Bailey dragged him to the house and cared for his wounds as best she could.

But the act which most fully delineates the horrors of this miserable crime is yet to be told.

While a portion of the mob were lacerating Bailey others remained at the house and gave bent to their savage and deluded spirits by tarring and feathering Mrs. Bailey's head. And one god forsaken specimen of humanity played his part by using his foot on a little girl of eleven(?) years, because she got from her bed and attempted to escape from the premises.

Reader, when we inform you that this outrage was committed on a citizen whose character stand untarnished in the community where he resides, and unapproached by those demons themselves, upon their examination, you can better appreciate the atrocity of the crime perpetrated in your midst; and can see clearer the malignity of heart and depravity of soul of which those wretches must have been possessed.

May we never again be called upon to realize the fact that men so totally void of all respect for themselves, their God and their country, dwell among us.

Bert Jourdan Killed by Falling Slate -
Life Crushed Out in an Instant.

[The Newton Press, Tuesday, March 3, 1903]

KINSEL COAL MINE, Southeast of Newton, 1 1/2 miles. 12:30 P.M. Feb 27. Bert Jourdan was crushed to death at 11:45 a.m. today by the caving in of the roof of the Kinsel coal mine. He is a young married man and leaves a wife and two children, and is a Modern Woodman....

The foregoing, telephoned to the PRESS at noon Friday and placed in type for the last half of our edition of that day, told as briefly as words could the central facts of a lamentable tragedy.

Mr. Jourdan was one of several men who were working in the Kinsel mine, digging coal, his companions being Andy Kinika, Will McQuillen, James Lytle, Charles Ward and Wm. Dodson, below and Doug McCullough and Gabe Peelman above ground.

Those mining occupy separate rooms, each of which are 20 or more feet in width, from 2 to 3 feet high and fashioned according to the "drift" to be followed; the roof is held up by coal pillars left near the center, and is also supported by props or posts set where needed. Jourdan was warned that his apartment was getting to be dangerous and needed propping, but not realizing the actual condition neglected to heed the admonition; a few minutes before 12 o'clock some of the workmen went to him and asked if he was ready to make a "shot"; he replied in the negative, saying he'd wait until evening; four of the miners thereupon fired their powder blasts and went to dinner, expecting him to join them; they had started to eat their meal, when McQuillen remarked that Bert hadn't come up, and that maybe something had happened to him; at that McQuillen and Kinika started down to see and discovered Jourdan's body under the weight of a section of slate. In a moment or so it was found that he was dead, an alarm was given accordingly.

Deceased was probably in a sitting posture at work when struck, a "bell pot" mineral, about 4x6x2 feet, shaped somewhat like a cone, and weighing a ton or more falling on his shoulders, crushing him down so that the life was smothered out instantly.

Elbert Jourdan was in his 26th year. He served in Co. B during the Spanish-American war in Cuba, and was an excellent citizen. Surviving him are his widow, formerly Mis Maud Musgrove; two daughters, both small, Irene and Opal; a father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. William L. Jourdan; and numerous other relatives.

The remains were laid to rest, Saturday, Rev. C.M. Chamblin conducting the religious services, and the Modern Woodmen, in which order he was a social member, officiating at the interment. [Original article sent in by
Russ Bickers who adds that he has visited Elbert's marked grave in the Vanderhoof Cemetery just southeast of Newton.]

An Open Letter to the Newton Press from John W. Richards

Elliott's Town, Jan. 8th, 1870
Publisher of Newton Press

SIR: I have noticed in your paper, for some weeks past, a small advertisment,headed "Caution" - wherein S.B. Buntain advertises his wife, Mrs. S.J. Buntain, and in order to put a stop to the lies that Buntain has been circulating, in regard to his wife and myself, I wish you to publish the following:

This is to certify that I, John W. Richards, never did have anything, in no manner whatever, to do with Mrs. S.J. Buntain, which would in the least way be detrimental to her good character; and further, that I never had a thought of anything of the kind, as has been currently reported throughout their neighborhood, and in all probability, by this time, throughout the County. I have went with Mrs. Buntain to different places -- for instance I went with her to Newton, in S.B. Buntain's carriage. The first place I went with her was to Newton, and the last place I went with her was to the funeral of Geo. A. Lane, and this was by the request of Buntain himself. But now he tells the people, since I left there, that I caused all of his trouble. But I can say, for myself, that he is a g-d d--n liar, and he knows it. They had hell when I first went there to live, and they kept it up as long as I stayed with them. All that I have ever done was with the purest of motives, and I never thought of doing anything that would injure her character; and further, I believe Mrs. Buntain to be a lady in every respect, and I would have been as far from doing anything that would injure her good name as I would my own mother, from the fact that she has been as a mother to me.

I wish the foregoing published in order that Buntain may not any longer blind the eyes of the people with his g-d d--n lies.

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