Early Transportation - Colonel Brown - Railway Connections - First Survey - Railway Projects - Pleasant Hill, Butler & Fort Scott Railroad - Lebo & Neosho - Railroad Meetings - Special Session Of County Court - Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston - Contracts Let - "Bob" Stevens - Personal Benefit Schemes - General Parsons - La Bette City - Colonel Williams - Kansas City & Memphis Company -Missouri, Kansas & Topeka - General Disgust - Failure Of Syndicate - Missouri Pacific - Rich Hill Branch - Other Railroad Projects - Colonel Pace And Colonel Nichols - Syndicate Represented -Walnut City Boom - Damage Suit - Boomlet - J. D. Scott -Sincere Promoters - "In The Land Of Beginning Again."
Except for about five miles of the line of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad constructed in 1870 cutting off about six sections of land in the extreme southeast corner of Rockville township, the southeast township of the county, Bates county was without the advantages of rail transportation until 1879 when the Lexington & Southern, a branch of the Missouri Pacific from Pleasant Hill to Joplin, was constructed through Cass, Bates, Vernon, Barton and Jasper counties, touching all the county seat towns - Harrisonville, Butler, Nevada, Lamar and Carthage, respectively; and a branch of the Kansas City, Ft. Scott & Gulf railroad from near Pleasanton, Kansas, east to and through Osage township to Carbon Center in the northern part of Vernon county. New towns sprang up on both these lines of railroad; Adrian and Rich Hill on the Missouri Pacific branch and Hume and Sprague on the Gulf branch. Previous to the construction of these lines of railroad, Butler hauled most of her freight from Pleasant Hill on the main line of the Missouri Pacific. The discovery, or rather, the development, of valuable bituminous coal deposits in Osage township was the cause of the construction of the branch road from Pleasanton ; and together with this coal development and the rapid increase of the zinc and lead mining industries in Jasper county, following the construction of the St. Louis & San Francisco railroad through Jasper county, aided in securing capital to invest in the Pleasant Hill and Joplin branch.
Col. E. H. Brown conceived the value and prospective business of a north and south road through this western tier of counties, connecting by a short line, Kansas City and Joplin, realizing that the passenger business of these county seat towns as well as the coal and zinc and lead ore traffic, would result in rich dividends on the cost of construction and when properly presented, the necessary financial aid could readily be secured. Colonel Brown had the "pep," push and railroad construction experience to accomplish results that theretofore had only been a failure. Perhaps no community in the history of railroad building in the West had worked harder, and followed up every broached railroad enterprise, than the early citizens of Butler and Bates counties, even to the most visionary schemes and wildcat enterprises. The detailed account of all these prospective schemes would be too cumbersome and at this time unnecessary in this condensed history of the county.
Even before the Civil War when the county was but sparsely settled and much of the farm lands was held by non-residents, slave holders and speculators, looking to the future development of the county for financial results, the business men of Butler realized the importance of railroad connection with the outer world, the great commercial centers of the West and East.
The first railroad survey was an east and west line through Clinton and Butler, to La Cygne, Kansas, with St. Louis the eastern terminus, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Pacific Coast the goal. The survey was all the glory of this enterprise. Immediately after the close of the Civil War, however, was sprung upon the railroad enthusiasts of Butler, a line known as the Lebo & Fort Scott railroad, the promoters asking $200,000 county bonds. This was in 1866; but no definite action was taken by county officials. The following year a company was organized somewhere under the high sounding name of the Osage Valley & Southern Kansas Railroad Company, proposing to construct a railroad from Boonville on the Missouri river to Fort Scott and $100,000 in bonds was asked of Bates county with a donation of the right of way. Chicago was to be the northern terminus, an "air line" to "just where you like it." The county officials did not seem to catch onto this scheme and no action of the bond question was taken. This year, also, the Lebo & Neosho enterprise was revived and the county court was actually convened and the proposition ably presented to the court urging an election for the issuing of $200,000 in bonds. The court flatly refused. The year of 1867 seems to have been pregnant with railroad schemes. The Sedalia & Fort Scott railroad was proposed through Butler, also a line from Chillicothe in north Missouri, crossing the Missouri river at Lexington, and through Johnson and Bates county to Fort Scott. This enterprise was enthusiastically endorsed by all the business men of Butler, and a grand mass meeting was held on August 27, 1867, and resolutions passed endorsing the enterprise including a proposition to vote $300,000 in bonds - to organize a company and secure the aid of other counties through which the road was proposed to run. Closely following this meeting on September 2nd, the county court made an order submitting to a vote of the people a bond issue of SI 50.000, the proceeds to be invested in the capital stock of this Lebo & Neosho railroad, on condition that the road was to be constructed and cars running through the southeastern part of the county. The record shows the proposition was defeated fifty-three for and two hundred thirty-one against.
The following year, 1868, a more feasible proposition came from the Garrisons, St. Louis, who had built the Missouri Pacific from St. Louis to Kansas City, to build a branch line from Holden on the Missouri Pacific to Butler and on to Ft. Scott, if the counties would secure the right of way and grade the road ready for the ties. The proposition was accepted by representative men covering the entire route and a survey was made and an issue of $200,000 of county bonds was projected to cover the expense of Bates county's share of the necessary outlay. In the meantime Cass county became interested in this enterprise, and a bond issue of $250,000 was promised by the business men of Cass to have this road branch from Pleasant Hill, instead of Holden and run through Harrisonville to Butler. A survey to this end was made from Pleasant Hill to Nevada and while these surveys were acceptable to the Garrisons all excitement over the project appears to have subsided, the old Lebo & Neosho project bobbing up again, and November 28, 1868. a special election was held in Prairie City township to subscribe $50,000 to this road in pursuance of an order of the county court on petition of ninety-five tax payers of said township, proposition was defeated by a small majority. Later in the same year. December 15. a proposition to construct a road from Emporia. Kansas, via Mound City and Butler to Clinton, to be called the Sedalia. Butler & Emporia railroad. Following closely upon this proposition and to end the year's raih-oad projects, on December 30, 1868, the president and secretary of the Jefferson City, Osage & Neosho Valley Railroad Company, were present at a large public gathering in Butler in the interest of this new project for an east andwest line and by their addresses quite enthused the crowded meeting in the old frame court house building on the corner of the court house square.
Another railroad year was 1869, ushered in with the usual enthusiasm as early as January 13, when the Pleasant Hill, Butler & Fort Scott Railroad Company was organized in St. Louis with John R. Walker as the first director from Bates county.
In March, 1869, Prairie City township, by almost an unanimous vote, appropriated $25,000 to the Lebo & Neosho railroad, bonds to be issued when the cars were running through said township. Under this name a railroad was built through the extreme southeast corner of Rockville township. Litigation arose over the issue of these $25,000 bonds and a change of venue was taken to another county, and pending an appeal from the lower court's decision against Prairie township, the attorney for the railroad company proceeded to Butler and the county court for some reason, delivered to him these bonds, over which there were years of litigation.
At the same time of the election in Prairie township a vote was had in Pleasant Gap and Lone Oak townships for the issuing of bonds for $20,000 and $15,000 respectively, for the same project but were defeated. Li the months of April, May and June, 1869, in Cass and Bates counties meetings were held organizing for the construction of the Pleasant Hill, Butler & Ft. Scott road. In June of this year a new project bobbed up for the Missouri Pacific branch to start out from Warrensburg to Butler and Fort Scott, and meetings were had in Butler in the interest of this enterprise. On June 17, 1869, another meeting was held in Butler in the interest of the Chillicothe, Lexington & Gulf. Time was not allowed to lag - railroad construction on paper was in the air, the black smoke of the on-coming engines from all directions could be snuffed in the ozone of the atmosphere, and on June 24, 1869, a railroad promoter from Paola, Kansas, was in Butler to interest her citizens in the construction of a branch road to Butler and on east, of the Fort Scott «& Gulf and stated the management of the main line was anxious to tap the coal fields in western Bates. There was hardly a week passed that railroad meetings were not held at Butler ill the interest of some new or old project. July 10 and July 24, in the interest of the Holden branch of the Missouri Pacific and the Clinton branch of the Lebo & Neosho roads. At the latter meeting a resolution was adopted requesting the county court to subscribe $200,000 to the Butler branch of the Lebo & Neosho, and $100,000 to the main line. On August 17 a committee to interview Mr. Joy, the financial backer of the Kansas City, Ft. Scott & Gulf, was appointed and on the 25th of August another enthusiastic meeting was held in the interest of the Holden route which at that time seemed to be the favorite, several of the prominent citizens of Butler having come from Holden. September 25, 1869, the county court, then in session, was urged to order a special election on the proposition of subscribing $100,000 to the main line of the Lebo & Neosho, $100,000 to the Butler branch of the same, and $100,000 to the Lexington, Holden & Butler roads. One of the judges being absent, the court refused to make the order. On October 16th a meeting was held at the court house to promote the Kansas City, Springfield & Memphis line, and delegates were sent to a meeting held in Kansas City on October 19, when A. H. Humphrey was elected director for Bates county of this railroad company. The arrival in Butler, October 29th of the engineer corps, under Major Morris, surveying the Lexington, Holden & Butler route to Fort Scott, created quite a furor of handshaking, entertainment and general good feeling all around and with a view to harmonize different views and interests a general meeting was held to harmonize all these railroad enterprises and at this meeting it was resolved that the county court be requested to subscribe $100,000 to the Lebo & Neosho, running seventeen miles through the southeastern corner of Bates county and the same amount to the Chillicothe, Lexington & Gulf, the proposition to be submitted to a vote. Afterwards the court made one order, giving $75,000 to the former and $125,000 to the latter enterprise and election was called for the first Tuesday in January, 1870, but a week before the time for this election the order was rescinded and an election ordered in Mount Pleasant to vote $65,000 to the Chillicothe, Lexington & Gulf, and in Mingo township to vote v$40,000 to the same road, election to take place the last Tuesday in January, 1870. Both propositions were defeated. February 12, 1870, the county court ordered a special election in Hudson township to be held March 8, 1870 to vote for or against subscribing $20,000 to the Lebo & Neosho and was almost unanimously defeated.
So many enterprises and so many divergent views and interests, none of these schemes having any financial backing, were in fact, the dreams of promoters; "get-rich-quick" or bond-grabbing individuals, with blue prints and blue-sky oratory, knowing, however, the needs of the public-spirited citizens of these fastly growing towns and rapidly developing rich farming lands and ever ready to scalp them, but notwithstanding the dire need of railroad transportation it was difficult for these grafters to "pull the wool" over the eyes of the shrewd business men who had the energy and experience common to all the pioneers in the settlement of this Western country; yet so persistent were the promoters of some of these enterprises or schemes that the public were ever ready 'to give each and all a respectful hearing, hoping in the end to accomplish results. To this end in March, 1870, several railroad meetings were held at Butler to affect a compromise of the many different railroad interests and to bring concentration out of chaos. The result of these meetings was that petitions were circulated and signed asking the county court to subscribe $400,000 in bonds to this Memphis road, half to be issued when the road reached the northern line of the county, the other half when the engine tooted within the corporate limits of Butler; also the court was asked to call special elections in Mount Pleasant and Grand River townships, the former to appropriate $90,000 and the latter $40,000 to the Chillicothe, Lexington & Gulf. Both orders were made by the court complying with the request of the petitioners, notwithstanding the remonstrance of about one-third as many citizens as the petitioners, and $400,000 was ordered by the court to be appropriated to the Memphis road, and the election held the first Tuesday in May, resulted in the adoption of the proposition by over the necessary two-thirds vote.
The day before these township elections the court was petitioned by a very representative number of citizens to rescind the $400,000 order but no action theron is of record. With $530,000 in sight from the county and the two townships the Chillicothe. Lexington & Gulf was considered assured, and at the June session of the county court Mr. A. L, Betz, one of Butler's prominent citizens, was appointed, as the agent of the county, to subscribe the stock of the said two townships and a few days later a contract for the first twenty miles of this road was let.
A special term of the county court was called and met June 25th following, to consider again the propriety of subscribing $50,000 to secure the Lebo & Neosho through the town of Pludson and Pleasant Gap township, but the arguments of the promoters of this outlay were not sufficiently convincing and the court turned the proposition down. While the court was on this special session word came from Jefferson City that the Kansas City, Springfield & Memphis had no regular organization, and the order therefore made appropriating the $400,000 was promptly rescinded. It was learned afterwards that these representations were incorrect and were made in the interest of other railroad schemes.
It was bonds the promoters of all these lines of road were after enough money from their sale to grade the roads and leave a large rake-off to the incorporators. So when several townships in Johnson county through which the Chillicothe, Lexington & Gulf road had been surveyed, refused to vote the necessary bonds, a proposition was sprung to consolidate the Chillicothe, Lexington & Gulf with the Pleasant Hill proposed line of road and a consolidation was effected under the name of Lexington, Lake & Gulf. (We have never been able to learn where the "lake" was located, or why the name.) It was suggested that the bonds voted in Mount Pleasant and Grand River townships, $130,000 be issued to this new consolidated company but the people refused to so instruct, creating distrust, confusion and opposition to changing the line from Holden to Pleasant Hill. However the directors of the Lexington, Lake & Gulf made application to the court for these bonds and they were issued.
It was in October of this year that the five miles or so of railroad of the Lebo & Neosho - now the Missouri, Kansas & Texas - was constructed diagonally across the extreme southeast corner of the county. It was in this month, October, 1870, that a survey was made from Pleasant Hill to Butler by the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad Company, but nothing further was accomplished by this company for over a year. In the meantime contracts were let for grading between Lexington and Butler by the Lexington, Lake & Gulf Company by way of Pleasant Hill and during the very closing days of the year 1870 ground was broken on the farm then owned by D. S. Fairchild and all Butler had dreams of incoming trains, could actually see them silhouetted in the Aurora Borealis during the winter of 1870-71 but the actual trains never in fact found any track to approach this county. It was during this winter that the Mound City, Kansas branch road, came up again but nothing was accomplished.
In the spring of 1871, "Bob" Stevens, general manager of the construction of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad that had been completed via Ft. Scott, Parsons, and Chetopa into the Indian Territory, proposed to the citizens of Butler a branch of the M. K. & T. via Butler to Wichita, Kansas, from Montrose under the name of the St. Louis & New Mexico railroad.
R. R. ("Bob") Stevens was the general manager of construction of the M., K. & T. from Sedalia southwest to a junction with the Neosho Valley road, from Neosho Falls, Kansas, to the Indian Territory, and he and Major Gunn, chief engineer of the M., K. & T., has been building the line in a roundabout way, not only to make more track mileage, but also to get the usual graft from new townsites, free right of way and bonuses in the way of cash subscriptions and municipal bonds. Especially conspicuous was the selection of the junction point with the Neosho Valley road on the broad prairie in La Bette county, Kansas. At this proposed junction point a town company was organized, a section of land laid" off for townsite. Bob Stevens and Major Gunn holding one-half the company's stock. Getting wind of these personal benefit schemes, General Parsons, a Wall Street financier, who was putting up the money for construction of the road, came west to investigate the situation, and the result was that La Bette City which had reached a population of about 1,500 in nine months with all lines of business represented including a newspaper and job office, and in a county-seat contest had received the majority vote of the county of La Bette, soon went dead, when it became known that General Parsons had selected the junction to be made about nine miles north of La Bette City near the Neosho river, laid out a large townsite named Parsons and made it known that it would be made a division point and the location of th e machine shops and general headquarters of the system. The subsequent life of La Bette City was short and like Foster in Bates county, practically only a post office and railroad depot were left and the townsite reverted to farm lands. Being let out. Mr. Stevens turned up with his St. Louis & New Mexico enterprise and it was much talked of at Butler and several meetings were held in its interest but nothing of a definite understanding resulted and after the spring of 1871 the enthusiasm in regard to this scheme died out and the north and south road enterprises gained friends and while there was some interest taken in the new venture by one Col. J. D. Williams, who had severed his connection with the Kansas City & Memphis road, under the name of the Kansas City, Galveston & Gulf, nothing came of it and all interest seemed centered in the Kansas City & Memphis Company and on August 9th this company made formal application for the $400,000 subscription which had previously been ordered by the county court, and which they claimed was still valid and binding. This demand was taken up and considered by the court and proposed a compromise by subscribing $125,000, $65,000 to be issued when the cars were running to Butler and to be accomplished before the first of August, 1872, and the balance, $60,000, when the road was completed through the county.
On the opening of the new year, 1872, the Butler branch of the M., K. & T. was again sprung upon the people of the county along the proposed line and the county court at the January term subscribed $250,000 to secure the success of this enterprise and the people of the entire county were very much aroused at this action of the court. Excitement ran high and the court at a subsequent session rescinded the order.
So many railroad schemes had gone glimmering that the general public of the county had become quite disgusted and had declared tx veto on any further talk of bond issues. The question of any more bond issues entered into campaigns for county officers and several years passed by in comparative quietude so far as railroad projects were concerned and the citizens of Butler got back to checkers, cards and village gossip with an occasional railroad meeting as a diversion and in the endeavor to have utilized the old roadbeds that had been partially constructed to Harrisonville and on south to Bates county. To promote this enterprise a syndicate was organized in 1876 and an option on these roadbeds was secured and $75,000 in private subscriptions was pledged through the earnest endeavor of several of Butler's leading citizens, but the necessary financial backing failed and this project failed as all previous ones had. Butler, a flourishing town, the county seat of one of the largest and best agricultural counties in the state, remained without rail connection until came Col. Ed H. Brown, a true representative of Western enterprise, with a past successful career in railroad construction, having made good in numerous construction contracts on the line of the Union Pacific railway, almost the entire distance from Omaha to Cheyenne. Those were days when men on the line greeted the stranger with the question
"Hast ever been to Omaha, Where rolls the dark Missouri down, And four strong horses scarce can draw An empty wagon through the town?"
Following his Union Pacific experience. Colonel Brown projected the construction of a railroad from Memphis northwest through Carthage, county seat of Jasper county. The panic of 1873 put a damper on this enterprise but he kept his indomitable sledge-hammer determination to succeed on foot, never allowing it to lag, until 1875, when the St. Louis & San Francisco road purchased his franchise, right of way, etc., from Carthage on west, and changed the name for construction purposes to the Missouri & Western railway, and he contracted to build the roadbed from Carthage to Oswego, Kansas. This accomplished, he then organized a company to construct a road from Joplin to Girard, Kansas, which continued operations for three years, when the St. Louis & San Francisco purchased it as a branch of its main trunk line from St. Louis to Wichita. Thus let free, he was the genuine road builder with the necessary enterprise, experience and an intimate knowledge of what the agricultural demands, industrial enterprises and necessities of the citizens of the county seat towns in the border tier of counties between Kansas City and the Joplin lead and zinc mines; he was indeed the man Butler was reaching out for, and in the spring of 1869 he visited these county seats, made known his project, was met with open arms, and $20,000 was easily raised to aid in the preliminary requirements of the company which was organized, chartered under the name of the Lexington & Southern. This accomplished, the Colonel turned up in New York City, presented his project to Jay Gould, who had previously purchased the line from Commodore Garrison of St. Louis, the builder thereof, and with all the necessary blue prints, statistics, etc., including the rich deposits of coal in Osage township, and the northern part of Vernon county, the zinc and lead mining interests of Jasper county, he easily with his engaging manner, gentlemanly demeanor and fine and vigorous physique, and an intimate knowledge of the entire detail of the advantages that would accrue to the Missouri Pacific system to own this line of road, the great railroad wizard was easily convinced and when Colonel Brown had settled his bill at the Waldorff and left New York for home he .carried with him the authority to go ahead and construct this road from Pleasant Hill to Joplin, with the necessary funds forthcoming to back him, and before the end of the year Missouri Pacific trains were running from the junction at Pleasant Hill to Butler and the road completed to Joplin the following year.
In this year, 1880, was also constructed the Rich Hill branch from the main line of the Kansas City, Ft. Scott & Memphis through Howard and Osage townships to Carbon Center coal fields in Vernon county.
Several other enterprises in the way of railroad projects from time to time were sprung upon the citizens of Bates county after this. In 1881, the Chicago, St. Louis & Ft. Scott Company was organized with the project of building a branch of the Chicago & Alton road from some point north to Butler, Rich Hill and Fort Scott and citizens of the county, Butler and Rich Hill had actually subscribed $60,000 for the branch line from Odessa. It proved a fake; the Chicago & Alton repudiated the claim that Col. B. J. Waters, of Ft. Scott, had represented that the C. & A. was back of his enterprise.
It was in 1883, however, that the citizens of Butler experienced a season of extreme happiness over a new railroad enterprise that had every evidence of success, only to be sadly disappointed in the outcome. Col. James L. Pace, in what interest he failed to make known at the time, took options on or contracts of purchase for several thousand acres of land in Walnut township and soon afterward Col. Tom Nichols, of Washington, D. C, put in an appearance in Butler and was introduced as a millionaire and represented a syndicate of prominent capitalists who proposed to construct a line of railroad from Chicago to El Paso, Texas, and on to Old Mexico via Butler and Fort Scott and developed the coal treasures of Walnut township, taking over the lands that Colonel Pace had optioned. The gentlemen backing Col. Nichols soon were made known, and they were so prominent in the political and financial world that there was hardly a question of doubt as to the success of their undertaking. This syndicate consisted, besides Colonel Nicholas, the general manager, and who, it appears, originated the enterprise, of Governor Foster of Ohio, Congressman Keifer, Speaker of the House of Representatives, New York; General Townsend, of Ohio; United States Senator Plum, of Kansas and of St. Louis.
A large tract of the Pace land was surveyed into town lots in Walnut township, platted after the city of Washington, besides the regular, square, forty-five-degree streets. The grading of a railroad was commenced through the town named Walnut, northeast and southwest, a system of waterworks started and a prospectus of the coming city was issued and otherwise extensively advertised in all the daily papers of the West with a day named when a public sale of lots would take place. In the meantime syndicates organized at Fort Scott, Sedalia, Butler and some other towns had purchased lots, and erected blocks of buildings and started business. In fact everything indicated great success and the first public sale of lots on the installment plan proved a great success. While everything was thus moving forward so smoothly and successfully, Col. Tom Irish, of the "Rich Hill Mining Review," probably with a spirit of jealousy as well as distrust from his general knowledge of the coal measures of southern Bates, began a thorough investigation of this Walnut City boom on account of its surrounding of black diamonds, its railroad project and also ''who was Col. Tom Nichols, the millionaire." He first interviewed General Nettleton, of Kansas City, president of the Kansas City, Ft. Scott & Gulf railroad, and was allowed to examine the reports of expert mining engineers who had prospected all the coal measures of Bates county and learned while there was a large amount of coal underlying the farm lands of Walnut township, there was none susceptible of being mined profitably on any large scale, and any intention previously had of tapping these coal measures by the said railroad company had been abandoned. He learned also that Colonel Nichols had also several years previous, been a citizen of Ft. Scott, was a man of no means, had delivered lectures on the existence of the orthodox hell and located it beneath the crust of the earth to its center, denying Professor Sym's theory that the crust of the earth was like a shell and was inhabited by human beings far in advance of those of us on the surface - and further, that he had left Ft. Scott leaving many creditors. He also looked up the officers of the C. & A., the C. B. & Q., and the Wabash railroads and learned that neither road was interested or back of any such enterprise and that no sane financier would foster any such railroad proposition at that time.
With this and other data, he published a leading article in the "Review" puncturing this full-bloom bubble while it was floating high in the air. This expose was copied in the dailies of Kansas City, St. Louis, Ft. Scott, Sedalia and in other papers. A suit for $100,000 damages was immediately instituted in our circuit court against Colonel Irish and also action for criminal libel. The syndicate of distinguished financiers, mostly politicians, soon put in an appearance in Bates county to investigate the situation and learn what had been done with the $10,000 each member had put up and the amount realized from the sale of lots. They had hardly crossed the Bates county line before Sheriff Hanks served all of them with notices to have their depositions taken in Rich Hill the next day in the above damage suit, and they all appeared in that city in the evening after a visit to Walnut, and were highly entertained at the Talmage House and speeches were made from the south balcony. No depositions were taken but the following day both suits were dismissed. The name of Foster was substituted for Walnut, and as was predicted in the "Review" article, the lumber and brick in the buildings at Walnut gradually were used in the constructing of sheep corrals and chimney flues on the surrounding farms and a year or two ago many of the lots, blocks and streets were sold to farmers for farm purposes.
The following year Colonel Irish had a boomlet in his hands. The Emporia to St. Louis railroad project came to the front and a charter secured backed by wealthy men of Kansas. Mound City, Pleasanton, Rich Hill, Deepwater and Warsaw were points, on the line. Some of the roadbed was constructed in Kansas and J. D. Scott, of Rich Hill, an old railroad contractor of Union Pacific and Santa Fe experience, had a contract for grading the roadbed from the eastern limits of Rich Hill across the bottoms to the Marais des Cygnes river. He did some $8,000 or $10,000 worth of grading and no funds were forthcoming and the work was abandoned. The enterprise was a complete failure.
Most of the gentlemen of Butler, bankers, lawyers, merchants, and business men of all the industries who were prominent and did "their bit" in all these railroad enterprises have taken passage to that station to which no tickets are required, no return passage ever is issued, no baggage accepted, no personal fare exacted and no railroad transportation required for this final trip to the unknown Beyond; they are at rest, the shriek of the locomotive and the rumbling of the cars, that they so earnestly longed to hear, disturbs not their peaceful sleep. They all acted their part in life in the interest of the communities in which they lived and passed over the river with the sublime consciousness that they had performed what seemed to them their individual duty in the interest of progress and of future generations who would so soon follow them. If any of them made mistakes or erred in judgment, there are none now to criticize. The acts and deeds of past generations is history, of them we are able from the record to familiarize ourselves and learn lessons of value, but of the future we can only conjecture. To realize what life has in store for us we have to live that life. It is a personal individual conscious soul, controlled by that Spirit that carries safely through to the end, and there is no one but Self, the Ego, to shoulder the responsibility of the life lived. If we were to write in detail the local press reports of all these railroad meetings and of the amount of brain and nerve energy used and actual work accomplished, it would fill this volume. If the men all were living and had it to do over again perhaps different methods would be pursued and less energy exhausted in "Beginning Again." To use the language of the poet, Tarkington:
"It wouldn't be possible not to be kind
In the land of Beginning Again;
And the ones we misjudged and the ones wisdom we grudged
Their moments of victory here Would find in the grasp of our loving handclasp
More than penitent lips could explain."
"For what had been hardest we'd know had been best,
And what had seemed loss would be gain;
For there isn't a sting that will not take wing
When we've faced it and laughed it away;
And I think that the laughter is most what we're after In the Land of Beginning Again. "
So wish there were some wonderful place Called the Land of Beginning Again
History of Bates County Missouri by W.O. Atkeson 1918
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