Happy Kansas Day! Judge Muse Remembers

Today, January 29, the state of Kansas turns 158 years old!

In the History of Harvey County 1871-1881, Judge Muse  described his first visit to the area that would become Harvey County. The photos are the earliest Harvey County homes made of sod.

Judge Muse writes:

On the 25th day of August, 1870, we left the city of Topeka . . . and traveled westward via A.T. & S. F. R. R. to the city of Emporia.  . . . On the 26th procured teams and provisions  . . . and started westward.  On the night of the 26th, we stopped at Cottonwood Falls, with Mr. Doolittle, who kept a small hotel in that place. . . On the 27th we continued our journey through an almost uninhabited region, passing over the ground where Florence now stands, and encamped for the night at a ranch owned by Coble and Kelly, about 4 miles east of the present town of Peabody. 

On the 28th we passed over the ground now occupied by the town of Walton. . , We stopped for dinner at a point on Sand Creek just south of where the residence of D. Ainsworth is now situated , and upon the the present town site of Newton.

Here for the first time we struck the Chisholm, or the great Texas Cattle Trail and followed it down on the west side of Sand Creek as far as the mouth of the creek where we found the first settler we had seen in the county, Dr. T.S. Floyd, with who we staid all night.

During the day, and after travelling over thirty miles, we had seen no human habitation or sign of civilization, our way being through high prairie grass, often standing above the height of our wagon wheels and bed.  We varied the monotony of the journey by shooting at wolves, coyotes, antelope and prairie chickens.  After reaching the cattle trail, we were beset by swarms of buffalo gnats and mosquitoes, so ravenous that Mr. Lakin declared that they bit his head through is hat.

Identified as a sod home in Alta.

We found Dr. Floyd and family living in a log house covered with a sod roof, upon which corn was growing and situated on the west bank of Sand Creek a few rods due west from where his present residence stands. . . . After remaining over night with Dr. Floyd . . . we set out the following morning and drove through Park City, then considered a dangerous rival of Wichita and continued our journey as far as Wichita.

Judge R.W.P. Muse, History of Harvey County, 1871-1881 available at the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives. Muse’s history was included in the 1882 Harvey County Atlas.

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