Biography of Philip Wing Hathaway

Philip Wing Hathaway, a pioneer of Iowa and the Cherokee Indian Neutral Lands, was born on a farm near Wareham, Massachusetts. His early life was little unlike that of most boys of his day–spent in farm work with few school advantages, intermingled with pleasures and griefs. He stayed at home until 1832, when his father died, which parent left surviving him a wife and six children–two daughters, Adline and Sophia; four boys, Albert, Andrew, Philip and Mathias.

Young Philip, tiring of the farm, sought other pursuits more in keeping with his endowed talent as a mechanic. At the age of nineteen he entered the machine shops and rolling mills at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, then followed his trade in the cities of Harrisburg and Philadelphia until soon his energies, natural and acquired abilities brought him in favor with the masters of his trade and promotions followed successively. Finally he became a partner in the ownership of one of Philadelphia’s rolling mills and machine shops which after a few years of successful operation burned down with sad disaster to its owners; and to satisfy their creditors Mr. Hathaway sacrificed his beautiful home and most of his other property, having barely money enough left from the sale to convey himself and family in 1849 to Allamakee County, Iowa, where he located a beautiful homestead twelve miles from Lansing. Here he met J. A. Wakefield, who afterward became famous in making Kansas early history. These men being near neighbors and each members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and strangers to a new country, their friendly relations were that of brother to brother. In 1856, through his friend Wakefield, who had sold out and gone to Kansas a year previous, Mr. Hathaway was induced to sell out and go to Kansas. He bought a squatter’s claim near Lawrence, but when he returned with his family he found another had possessed his claim, having later purchased it of the same settler. In May, 1857, in company with his old friend Judge Wakefield, a tour of southeast Kansas and the “Neutral Lands” was made and on their return they stopped at a place on the military road about three quarters of a mile north of the present City of Arcadia, Kansas, where lived a man by the name of Howell, who had married a Cherokee Indian woman, thus giving him a head right in the Indian lands, and who had begun the building of a double log house, which Hathaway finished and lived in until he erected a frame building in 1871, a half mile south on the Howell tract. Hathaway gave Howell $1,000 cash for his 320 acre claim, Howell agreeing to and did give his new purchaser a permit which was passed on by the tribal chief and the same permit was renewéd each year thereafter until said land became subject to Government entry. This is the first treaty recorded that a settler ever made with the Indians on the neutral lands for his head right or claim.

At the age of twenty-six in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, young Hathaway had met, wooed and wedded Elizabeth, the accomplished and college-educated daughter of a Mr. Gregg, an Englishman and a merchant of that city. Her father was so opposed to the wedding of his daughter to the machinist, thinking her too good for a tradesman, that when each of the lovers sought his consent by argument and persuasion, they only met with rebuke, until finally Cupid was bound no longer, and as lovers of today are, so they were of yore, and leaving the stern parent in his rage they stepped across the street to the home of a magistrate and were married.

Mr. Hathaway’s ancestry are those of English history, the American branch of which came with the Pilgrim fathers to the shores of the Atlantic. Mr. Hathaway followed farming and stockraising and erected a shop and followed his trade both in Iowa and Kansas and it is said that he was one of the best mechanics that ever came west and wrought in both wood and metal, and seemingly could manufacture anything from a common sewing needle to a locomotive. Here on his place he established the first post-office south of Fort Scott, named in honor of its founder, which he kept until after the war, in 1865, when it took the name of Arcadia. In April, 1858, fever took away his happy companion and wife, and interment of her body on the old homestead is that of the first who slept in the old Arcadia Cemetery. The death of this kind and affectionate mother and devoted wife left Mr. Hathaway to console and care for his five motherless children, two boys–M. Ellis and Albert S., who are now gold miners and ranchers in Northern California, and three girls, Adaline E., widow of E. J. McCoy and now living with her brothers in the West; Sophia N., the widow of the late Lewis R. Jewell and who resided on the old Hathaway homestead; and Harriet E., wife of James Nichols, who resided with her husband and family in Woodward County, Oklahoma.

In 1860 Mr. Hathaway married Jane Carroll, a lady of Cherokee Indian descent, who was of fair skin, tall, light hair and blue eyes. She was a good and loving mother and dutiful wife, but lived less than a year after her marriage.

Mr. Hathaway was a very pronounced anti-slavery advocate, and was refused enlistment in the Union army on account of physical disability. On the night of May 20, 1864, Henry Taylor, a sheriff of Vernon County, Missouri, before and after the war, at the head of a guerrilla band of eighty well armed and mounted men, entered the military road at the present City of Arcadia, Kansas, and took Mr. Hathaway prisoner, who, however, miraculously escaped, with other prisoners, at Wheeling, five miles northeast of his homestead on the state line, when this band of bushwhackers was fired upon by a party of Wisconsin Union soldiers headed by George Pond–an attack which occasioned Taylor’s great confusion and rapid retreat to his home in Missouri.

In November, 1874, Mr. Hathaway having been afflicted for years with the chronic disease of gravel which he contracted in the rolling mills of Pennsylvania, was conquered by the grim messenger of death. He had been a man of fine physique, broad shouldered and six feet tall, well informed in biblical, political and current topics; a man quick to anger and as soon to forget and forgive, and yet a man of deep convictions, and generous to a fault. No man ever turned away from his door hungry, be he a Federal or Confederate soldier.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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