July 19, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
One of the earliest Junction City settlers passed away in July of 1915. That was Mrs. Ruth Keys. She was born in Lima, New York in 1829, but when she married John Keys in 1854, they decided to move out west. They first lived in Iowa before coming to Kansas in the spring of 1860. They stopped in Junction City where they purchased a land warrant for $200, which entitled them to 160 acres of unclaimed land. They settled in the Chapman Creek area. All that summer there wasn’t a drop of rain. John and Ruth slept in their covered wagon with their nearest neighbor being three miles away. Indians roamed about the area.
One day John Keys went to Junction City to get supplies and did not return until the following day. Just before dark, a band of Indians came by and asked if the big chief, meaning Ruth’s husband, was in the wagon. She led the Indians to believe that he was and they didn’t bother her. However, they set up camp so close that she could hear them snoring as they slept.
As a result of the drought and the ill health of her husband, the family gave up the farm that fall and moved into Junction City where Ruth lived on the same block for nearly fifty years. She raised two sons, but both died within a month of each other in 1906. This left her with just one grandson. Her husband, John, had passed on many years before she died in 1915. Ruth was buried in Highland Cemetery in 1915. Her picture may be seen in display on the first floor of our Museum. It is among the many pictures we have displayed of early settlers in Geary County. Stop by and see them any Tuesday through Sunday between the hours of 1 and 4:00 PM.