Reminiscences of the Early Settlement of Dragoon Creek, Wabaunsee County

I was born August 23, 1834, in the Quincy Point school district, town of Quincy, state of Massachusetts. In March, 1854, my father brought his family west, locating temporarily two and one-half miles west of Elgin, Ill. Our family at this time consisted of Nathaniel S. Spear, my father, Lois (Thayer) Spear, my mother, and four children – three boys and a girl – Daniel, Warren F., Stephen J. and Delia A.

On my mother’s side I have a double line of Thayer ancestry, one of which traces back to two Mayflower ancestors- John Alden and Priscilla Mullins.

In August, 1854, we moved to Buchanan county, Iowa, where father, during the month of September, settled on a quarter section of government land. The settlers who had located in this county a few years earlier had bought up all the larger tracts of timbered land, but there was still plenty of prairie land that could be purchased from the government at one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre in specie, or with land warrants, such as were issued to soldiers of the War of 1812, and which were transferable.

Other settlers soon came into our immediate neighborhood, including a Mr. Samuel Woods and family, and a Willard Blair with his own and his father’s family.

As was usual in all the newly settled farming sections of the Middle West, the “fever and ague” made its appearance, and in the fall many of the new settlers – including myself – were affected with it.

It was not until we were living in Iowa that we learned, through the New-York Tribune, published by Horace Greeley, of the passage by Congress of the Kansas-Nebraska act opening to settlement the territory of Kansas. The long debates between the anti-slavery and pro-slavery members of Congress had finally resulted in passing the bill, with a provision that the settlers of the new territory should themselves decide whether it should be admitted as a “free” or “slave” state. This act was signed by President Pierce on May 30, 1854. The President appointed Andrew H. Reeder, of Pennsylvania, as the first governor of Kansas, and selected Fort Leavenworth as the temporary capital.

A tide of immigration followed the opening of the territory, and our neighbor Samuel Woods, having a horse team, started with his family for Kansas in the fall of 1855. In the spring of 1857 Mr. Willard Blair and family, and an unmarried brother, Thompson Blair, left our neighborhood for Kansas, driving through with a horse team.

I was expecting to go with them, but was not ready when they started. They located in Shawnee county, Kansas, about four miles east of old Brownsville, later called Auburn.

Reminiscences of the Early Settlement of Dragoon Creek



Spear, Stephen Jackson. Reminiscences of the early settlement of Dragoon Creek, Wabaunsee County. Reprinted from Vol. XIII, Collections Kansas State Historical Society. 1915.

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