Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mr. and Mrs. Gillbert settled near Junction City in 1855

Located at the back of Gallery 1 is a collection of photographs. They are what remain of a collection of over 400 photographs gathered in the early 1900’s by Louis Teitzel. He reproduced the photographs of residents of the county who settled here between 1852 and 1870.

            The collection was originally displayed in the windows of the Rockwell Store, gathering quite a crowd from newspaper accounts.

            This collection eventually made its way to the county court house where it hung for many years. While on display at the courthouse people were allowed to take the photographs of their ancestors and the collection gradually shrunk.

            When the Geary County Historical Society opened its doors at the 7th Street location they accepted possession of the photographs to preserve them for future generations. It was brought along with the rest of the collection when the GCHS moved to our current location at 6th and Adams. This was the start for our photo collection that has grown considerably over the years.

            In the archives our curator found a letter from Nate Gilbert that accompanied a pair of photos that were donated to the museum. The letter really made the people in the photos come alive.

            “A glance at the “HOME COMING PROGRAM” today reminded me of something I intended to do long ago, but it had been overlooked until today, that was to send pictures of my father and mother for the collection… the photos are copies of a Daguerre taken about 1854. One year (about) before Father and Mother arrived where (or near where) Junction City now stands. The child in the mother’s arms is the shadow of myself. So you will see I was a very a very early settler.”

            “To be more explicit- we arrived in Pawnee City (near Fort Riley) in November 1855. My father at once bought the [quick] claim deed to the farm in the bend of the Smokey Hill [River] nearest town on the south side. Here we spent the winter in a log cabin 12 by 14 covered with a bark roof, with the curves of the bark turned downward. So we were obliged to sit under umbrellas when it rained. After six years spent on the farm my father moved to town and went into the grocery business.”

            “I have still a good recollection of many of the incidents of [those] early day[s], among them the visit of the first white woman to our farm home eight months after moving there. The visitor was Mrs. J.R. McClure who had not seen [another] white woman for fourteen months, though strangers [she and mother] met as sisters, and wept in each other’s arms.”

            “I also remember distinctly the Indian scares which were frequent, and sent people flying either to the Fort or to P.Z. Taylor’s store, which was the city fortress being then the only stone house in the place.”

            “Of the original old settlers I believe none are left with the possible exception of A.W. Callen. But there may be a few at the home coming that will remember such names as Davis Wilson who died recently in Cincinnati [or] Colonel John T. Price who was located in Ft. Riley in 1855, Capt. McClure who settled on Lyon’s creek in 1854, the Perry’s and Walter’s families who settled in Whisky Point about the same time, of Samuel and William Bartlett who came a little later, of Mr. & Mrs. Mitchell who were a social power in the early days, of Samuel & Mrs. Orr, Mr. & Mrs. McFarland and many others, all of them a part of Junction City’s early history…”

            Writings and memories like this are important because they give us interesting accounts of pioneer life. Don’t discount your memories or the stories your grandparents told you; write them down because one day those things will be history also.