Sam & Mary Jane (Cliff) Helton Family, Barber County, Kansas Barber County, Kansas.  

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The Sam & Mary Jane (Cliff) Helton Family

The Sam and Mary Helton family of Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.

Photo courtesy of Beth Larkin Davis.
The Sam and Mary Helton family of Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.
They were among the earliest settlers in the Sun City area.
Photo courtesy of Beth Larkin Davis.

The Sam and Mary Helton family of Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.

Photo courtesy of Beth Larkin Davis.
The Sam and Mary Helton family of Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.
Photo courtesy of Beth Larkin Davis.


Samuel Helton died January 3, ____. He was 82 years old at time of death. He was born in Floyd County, Kentucky, on March 19, 1866. He was married to Mary Jane Cliff at Sun City by Rev. Owens. They were married 56 years.

There were 12 children born to them: five died in infancy and a daughter, Cora Edmonds, died in July of 1925. Those surviving at his death were: William Helton, Anderson Helton, Arthur Helton, Della Larkin, Laura Scott and Fern_____. I am not sure which of these children are in the photo.

His wife, Mary Jane Cliff Helton, died April 15, 1951.

Beth (Larkin) Davis is his great-granddaughter.

Apparently there is a story in When Kansas Was Young about Sam Helton. I haven't read the entire book yet, but will let you know if I find it.

-- Email from Kim Fowles to Jerry Ferrin, 9 Oct 2005.


Excerpt from
"History of Sun City"
The Chosen Land: Barber County, Kansas

Among the earliest settlers were the Rev. and Mrs. J.M. Adams and sons, Green and William. They arrived from Kentucky April 3rd, 1873.

Others were Minerva Adams, C.H. Douglas, Mrs. Molly Saunders, Mr. and Mrs. John Bullock, Sam Helton, Mr. and Mrs. C.W. Owens, Mr. and Mrs. Milton Clements, Estelle Whitaker, George Walker, Jim Carl, Thomas and Henry Walker, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Whitaker, Mr. and Mrs. John Montgomery, Frank Whitaker, Mr. and Mrs. S. Flemings, Bob Adams, Ed Coon, Charlie Walker, Major Bowlus, Mr. and Mrs. VanderPool, Frank Saunders, Henry Van Trees, and Mr. and Mrs. Lee Adams.


There is an interesting story about Sam Helton, I don't know if it was ever put in writing or not about him being caught up on the prairies coming from Hutchinson and being chased by a group of Indians on horse back and he outrun them for 2 days before making it to safety, the number of miles used to be repeated when I was a kid but I can't remember what they were, whatever it was it was phenomenal, like 50 to 60 miles.

-- Email from Nate Massey (who's first wife was a granddaughter of Sam Helton) to Kim Fowles, 9 Oct 2005.


Left to right: Ora, Sam and Anderson Helton of Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.

Photo courtesy of Beth Larkin Davis.
Left to right: Ora, Sam and Anderson Helton of Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.
Ora and Anderson are holding steel-jawed traps and Sam has a double-barrelled shotgun.
Photo courtesy of Beth Larkin Davis.


A Real Old Timer Gone

Samuel Helton, 82, Came to Barber County
When Buffalo and Indians Were Still Around.

Sun City - The last surviving member of a company that came to Barber county in 1876 is gone with the death last week of Samuel Helton. He was 82 years of age at the time of his death on January 3. He had been bedfast since suffering a broken hip eight months ago.

Mr. Helton was one of the few remaining Barber county old timers. He knew this county when buffalo and Indians were still to be found within its borders and late Tom McNeal, Kansas writer, wrote of him in his book, When Kansas Was Young.

Mr. Helton was born in Floy county, Ky., March 19, 1860. He came to Douglas county, Kas., in 1868 with his invalid mother who soon afterward passed away. He then returned to Kentucky until 1876 when he came again to Kansas. In 1886 he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Jane Cliff at Sun City by Rev. Owens. They had celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary on Dec. 31. All except four years of their married life was spent in Barber county.

To this union 12 children were born. Five died in infancy and a daughter, Mrs. Cora Edmonds, died in July 1925. Those who survive are: his wife, three sons, William and Anderson of Medicine Lodge, Arthur of Sun City; three daughters, Mrs. Della Larkin of Sun City, Mrs. Laura Scott of Laramie, Wyo., and Mrs. Fern ______ of Seattle, Wash., 12 grand children and four great-grandchildren, one brother in Kentucky and a number of nieces and nephews.

Interment was made in the Sun City cemetery. Rev. J.P. Woods, pastor of the Sun City Baptist church conducted the services, assisted by Rev. Paul Oxley, pastor of the Pentecostal church. Music was furnished by Mesdames Ralph Massey, Homer Hoagland, Messrs. Hoss and White accompanied by Miss Lucille Humston. Pallbearers were: Roy Bissantz, Montie Ward, Bob Rose, Joe Sooter, Bud Garten and Dan Winnop.

(Sam Helton's name was incorrectly spelled "Hilton" in the above obituary, which is from the collection of Beth Larkin Davis. The name of the newspaper from which this undated clipping was taken is unknown. Kim Fowles, who sent this obituary for this web page, commented: "Marriage license was applied for on December 30, 1886 between Samuel Helton, of Sun City, age 24 and Mary Cliff, of Sun City, age 18. I also noted a license for on March 6, 1885 between George W. Montgomery, Sun City, age 20, and Elizabeth Cliff, of Sun City, age 20. I wonder if Elizabeth was a sister to Mary." )


The Barber County Index, April 26, 1951.

Obituary: Mary Jane (Cliff) Helton

Mary Jane, daughter of Henry and Sarah Cliff, was born near Springfield, Ill., July 13, 1868, and passed away April 15, 1951, at the Medicine Lodge Hospital at the age of 82 years, nine months and two days.

She came from Illinois to Kansas with her family when but a small child, first settling near Eureka, after moving to Mitchell county, near Glen Elder, where she lived for several years, then coming to Barber county where her father bought a farm near Sun City which is now the Frank Hoagland estate.

She married Samuel Helton on December 31, 1886. To this union were born 12 children, five of whom died in infancy. She was preceded in death by her husband; a daughter, Cora; and a son, Anderson.

She is survived by three daughters and two sons; Mrs. Laura Scott of Laramie, Wyo., Mrs. Fern Walker of Tacoma, Wash., Mrs. Della Larkin of Sun City, William Helton of Medicine Lodge and Arthur Helton of the home; also 13 grandchildren, four great grandchildren, and a host of other relatives and friends.

Mrs. Helton was united with the Baptist church at Sun City at an early age and remained firm in her belief and was faithful to her church and happiest when she was able to attend. She was a very kind and loving mother and will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Card of Thanks

We desire to thank our relatives and friends who so kindly assisted us during the illness and death of our mother and grandmother. Also for the beautiful flowers and food which was brought in. We especially want to thank Dr. Treger and the nurses for their consideration of mother.

Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Helton and family,
Mr. and Mrs. Nick Larkin and family,
Mr. and Mrs. K. H. Walker and daughter.


Left to right: Grave stone for Samuel and Mary Jane (Cliff) Helton, Sunnyside Cemetery, Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.

Photo courtesy of Kim Fowles.
Grave stone for Samuel and Mary Jane (Cliff) Helton
Mary Jane: 1868 - 1951.     Samuel: 1860-1943.
Sunnyside Cemetery, Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.
Photo courtesy of Kim Fowles.


Gravestone for Anderson Helton, Sunnyside Cemetery, Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.

Photo courtesy of Kim Fowles.
Gravestone for Anderson Helton
Sunnyside Cemetery, Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.
Photo courtesy of Kim Fowles.


Exchange of emails, Kim Fowles & David Massey, 27 Oct 2005:

Kim Fowles: This page has photos of the Natural Bridge. Did you guys ever go there?

David Massey: Yes, we sure did, Kim. It was one of those places that you visited so regularly that you don't remember the first time. After you got to be high school age I think the Natural Bridge and Hell's Half-Acre were some of the more favored places to go to take snap-shots with your Kodaks (Brownies).

One other place the high school boys would oft times go was to Havard's cave. It was no place for girls 'cause you had to be real brave to go into them (because after you got inside it was more like a series of caves.) The tough part was the entrance as you had to lower yourself down into a sink-hole finally get yourself flat on your stomach and wiggle yourself in for several feet, then it would open up and finally you could stand up. It was fairly spacious and don't remember how big it was now, but I'm sure it was a lot less than I remember it. The first fellow that entered it had to have had nerves of steel as there is very little wiggle room at the beginning and its not easy to wiggle backwards if you met something that did not welcome you.

Sam Helton.  Photo courtesy of Beth Larkin Davis.


At left: Sam Helton. Photo courtesy of Beth Larkin Davis.

One of the oft told stories of the older guys was the story of Sam Helton, Louie Bissantz and the Cougar.

Irl Shutts told it to me last and he was a good story teller. Although Louie was a merchant, his heart's desire was to be a cowboy, or a hunter, trapper or most anything romantic. Sam hunted and trapped and Louie ever bothered Sam to take him with him to hunt coyotes, bob-cats and sometimes wolves or cougars.

There had been a cougar in the area and Sam had been hunting him, finally allowing Louie to accompany him. Sam tracked the Cougar to Havard's cave and determined to go in and check it out (that was a fellow with more than his share of nerve). Louie posted himself on the surface at the top of the sink-hole to shoot the critter if he got by Sam.

Sure enough that sucker was in there and Sam shot him right at the bottom of the hole and in his death throes the cat lept straight up Louie was so startled he fell over on his back and shot straight up in the air (this was the story according to Sam). The story according to Louie was that Sam went in, spooked him, took a shot at him, missed, the critter jumped out and Louie said "Pie Chinks, I shot the sonofapitch".


Ora K. Helton, June 12, 1916 - October 3, 1975.

The Story of Mr. Shmidl's Cattle, Bulldog and New Steer
as told to David Massey by Irl Shutts

"Nick Larkin married Della Helton, daughter of Sam and Mary Helton. The Heltons came to Kansas in a wagon train from Kentucky. Nick and Della lived in the Deerhead community where Nick farmed. In 1964 they sold the farm to Kelly and Rod Swayden and moved to Sun City. Their son Ernest married Mary Ellen Shepler and lives in Sun City. Don, who married LaVonia Gregory, lives in Wichita. Don works for the Coleman Company. Evah Mary is dead, as is her son, Mike." -- John Larkin, The Chosen Land: Barber County, Kansas, page 272.


Thanks to Beth Larkin Davis for contributing the above photo and obituary for Sam Helton to this web site and to Kim Fowles for arranging the contribution!

Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above obituary for Mary Jane Helton to this web site!

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