Phoebe (Rogers) Gibson: The Early Days of Barber County, Kansas Barber County, Kansas.  

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The Barber County Index, Thursday, May 16, 1929.

Memoirs of Phoebe (Rogers) Gibson:
The Early Days of Barber County, Kansas

Phoebe Laura (Rogers) Gibson.

Photo courtesy of Patricia (Garten) Pass.
Phoebe Laura (Rogers) Gibson
Photo courtesy of Patricia (Garten) Pass.
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My recollection of Barber County covers nearly fifty-six years. My father, William Rogers, made a short trip out here in 1872 and located a homestead on Bitter Creek, then came back for the family. On the 23rd of October, 1873, we arrived here from Lee Summit, MO where we had lived several years since coming from our home in Virginia. There were my three sisters, one brother and my father, traveling in a covered wagon. We brought with us a cow, two pigs and a cat. We came by way of Hutchinson, which was only a little town, and arrived in Medicine Lodge in the early afternoon. That evening we went on up the river to where father had located. This was across the Medicine River south on Bitter Creek and is now known as the old Gant place.

Dick Woodward, H.H. Woodward's father, for whom Dick's Peak is named, was our near neighbor. He had been here several years hunting buffalo and had helped father select our homestead. He was well acquainted with the country and his word was law to the settlers.

That winter, we lived in a log house with dirt floors and a dirt roof. It had a fireplace made of red sandstone. It was just a one room house. It was much colder than it is now, but we did not suffer from the cold, for there was wood in abundance. There was plenty of buffalo, wild deer and turkey, so we had lots of meat. Next spring, father built a more comfortable house. It was made of logs and boards and had two rooms. The boards came from John Easley's mill.

We were living in this new house when in June, about the 10th or 15th, Dick Woodward came riding up and said "Mr. Rogers, we must get out of here. The Cheyennes are on the war path and have already killed some people near Medicine Lodge on Cedar Creek." Father knew that was no false alarm, coming from Mr. Woodward. While Mr. Woodward went on to his house to get his family, we loaded in what we needed and left in a hurry.

We went across the river north to the highest point southwest of where the Forest City Church now stands. There were about sixty people gathered there with their wagons and teams. They made a corral of their wagons and put the women and children inside this enclosure and here we camped that night. The men stood watch all night. During the night and several nights following, the hills south of us were lighted by the signal fires of the Indians.

The next day, the men divided up their work, some of them stayed there, made the ditch and watched the camp. And the others took their teams and went down to the river to cut down trees. They plowed a couple of furrows around a sixty foot square, made a ditch two feet deep and two feet wide. In this they stood the tree trunks that the men cut, on end close up like boards, then banked and about four feet high around this. We had one wagon gate, and there was another gate with a little hallway so that if the Indians attacked, they would have to come through this gate, one at a time, and this gate was guarded all the time.

Each family had a little booth to live in. There were about ten families that made their homes in that sixty-foot square. They built these booths with wagon sheets, tents, boards or just anything they could get hands on. The making of the stockade and booths took days. During this time, every morning, some of the men would go out and kill a buffalo and that suppled us with fresh meat, and the tallow was used for butter and to cook with. They hauled our water from the river in barrels and we got our groceries from Medicine Lodge and Lake City. We were there about a week before the United States Calvary troops came down. They were a wonderful sight to we children. They patrolled between Medicine Lodge and Lake City.

The Indians never attacked the stockade, but Doctor Bond, who lived between Lake City and us, would not come into the stockade, and had boasted that he could kill all the Indians there were around with his pegging awl. But one morning, he started to Lake City, and a band of the Indians saw him and attacked him. He threw himself on the side of his pony and started shooting at them. The troopers at Lake City heard the shooting and started to his rescue. The Indians heard them coming and got away into the hills. After that, Dr. Bond gladly stayed in the stockade.

These Indians who had been making these raids were camped on Sand Creek, northeast of Medicine Lodge, unknown to the settlers. About 10 days after the raid west of town, the militia ran into them and a fight ensued. I don't know how many were killed, but I remember that Frank McAllister had killed a chief and took all his trappings and had three fresh Indian scalps on his belt, and of course, childlike, I ran over and examined them.

Things settled down after that, but we were not allowed to leave the stockade, and there we lived until it was safe to return to our farm. During that summer, we children had to amuse ourselves the best we could, as long as we stayed in sight. We could find ant hills covered with Indian beads that the ants had carried in, and we could see the teepees along the river. We found lots of pottery, arrow heads and shells, and things that the Indians had left. We lived in this stockade until the winter of 1874.

About 400 Pawnee Indians came down that winter. They were a peaceable tribe. They camped about five miles from our house. They often came to our house and father would give them food.

The fall that we came, father was near the divide south and found a place where the Indians buried their dead. They built platforms up in the trees and put the dead, bedecked in their trappings, on these platforms.

My oldest sister was married on New Year's Eve in 1873, to John Henry Garten. They were the first couple to be married in Barber County. They are now living in Sun City. This left me, a thirteen year old girl, to keep house. But we had such a good Christian father, that he cared for us the best he knew how, and that was very good. We lived with him on the farm until we were married.

"We had a school in a little log school house for several years. There was no school at all for about two years after we came out here. The desks were made out of cottonwood and cedar. The school houses were built the same way as our houses. They were built of logs and then filled with mud mortar. The roofs were made of logs and brush and dirt and whenever it rained, they dripped and dripped.

It was in the year 1875 that the grasshoppers came and ate up everything, even to the posts. There was no bark left on the trees and everything green was eaten up. They came in great clouds. They covered the ground. You couldn't even walk without crushing them. They stayed about three days, until everything was eaten up. The settlers freighted cedar posts and buffalo bones to Hutchinson and brought back the bulk of our supplies. They would pull up the cottonwood shoots that grew along the river, and in the spring they sold them to the settlers on the prairie north of here on the way to Hutchinson. That is where the groves of trees that are now up there came from. These trips meant that the men would be gone for at least a week at a time.

One of the dangers we constantly had to look out for were rattlers. We always tried to kill every one we saw. Another menace was the gray wolves. Of course there were many coyotes, but it was the wolf that would carry off the hogs and calves. And they were to be feared if one got caught out alone. One night in 1875 when I was staying with my sister while John was gone, her tiny baby cried, and in a few minutes we heard the wolves howling close, then they were scratching and sniffing at the door.

We pulled the table and whatever we could move against the door, for gray wolves are large and could have pushed the door in. The howling of the wolves as they ran around and around the dugout surely gave us a scare. Finally, after we got the baby quiet, they left.

Our mail came from Hutchinson by way of stage coach. Bill Horn drove from Hutchinson to Medicine Lodge. He came just about once a week.

Medicine Lodge was, of course, the county seat at that time, and it kept gradually building up. We didn't come to Medicine Lodge very often, about once a month. There were two or three brick kilns where the depot is now, and they turned brick there and some of the houses were built of them, and others were built of cottonwood lumber and filled in with bricks. The jail was made of logs and it stood somewhere near where Mr. Braggs' office is now. At that time, there were two saw mills here. The lumber was mostly cottonwood. There were only two or three houses in Medicine Lodge in 1973, a blacksmith shop, one store, a livery barn and a little eating house.

My husband and I were living in Medicine Lodge, running a restaurant, when the First National Bank was robbed. That day, Mr. Gibson happened to be at the ranch which he owned north of town. About nine o'clock, I heard someone running and shouting that the bank had been robbed, that the President and Cashier had been killed. But they did not get the money. There were four of them. They had their horses back of the bank. They started south.

Immediately, about a dozen cowboys took off after them and never lost sight of them. Unlike the vigilantes of today, they were already well armed. A few miles from town, the horse of one of the robbers was shot down, so he jumped on behind one of the others. They took to the hills and went up the canyons. It was a rainy morning and the robbers huddled up under a ledge in a sort of cave. The cowboys surrounded them, but the robbers used up all their ammunition on them. Finally they surrendered.

Each robber was tied on behind a cowboy and thus they came to town, cold and wet. It was about three o'clock when they got back. When they got back, they took them off the horses and the sheriff tried to find some place to get something to eat. Nobody would let them come in, so the sheriff came and wanted to know if I would let him bring them in and feed them. He said "Of course you won't have to do anything, the boys can wait on the table, if you will let us in." So I said "all right, you can bring them in." So they brought them in and set them down, two at a table. They were shackled with one hand and one foot to a cowboy. The room was lined around with armed men, as well as the street and alley. I went in and walked through the room that I might get a good look at them.

After they were fed, they were put in the jail and a guard placed near them. We could tell then that something was going to happen. Mr. Gibson came home before night. All was quiet except for a lot of shouts. A mob had gathered to take out the prisoners. When the door was opened, they made a dash for liberty.

Volleys of shots were fired. One of the robbers was wounded. They took them east toward Elm Creek on the flat and hung all four of them from an elm tree. The families of two of the men were notified, but they would not claim the bodies, so all four of them are buried in our cemetery here.

In a few weeks there was hardly any bark left on the tree from which the robbers were hung, as everyone got a piece for a souvenir. I still have the piece I got.

Other stirring times were the terrible blizzards in which people lost their lives, and the cattle froze to death, and what lived, their horns dropped off. And the flood that cost so many lives, but someone else can tell about them.

As I look back on these early days, I realize we have come a long way, and feel so thankful for the conveniences and pleasures I now enjoy."

-- by Mrs. Phoebe Rogers Gibson.


Phoebe Rogers was born in Braxton County, West Virginia, near the town of Sutton, June 20, 1860 and died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. S. A. Harrison, November 20, 1937 at the age of 77 years and 5 months.

Owing to the ill health of her brother, she was brought by her parents on a steamboat to Jackson County, Missouri, in 1866. Here the first deep sorrow came into her life. Her mother, no longer able to endure the hardships of a pioneer life, passed to her heavenly home.

Her uncles made a hunting trip through Kansas and brought back the news of a wonderful new land in Barber county. The father equipped a covered wagon and started with his family to this land of great promise, arriving south of the river near Forest City, October 23, 1873. The first winter was spent in an old log house built by some early buffalo hunters. The first summer was spent in the "stockade" due to some roving Indians who were plundering and killing in this section of the state. The next fall, the father made a home for his family in a dug-out close to the "stockade" as the Indians had not ceased in their raids. Mrs. Gibson often related wonderful tales of these trying days, and of the hardships of the early pioneers in Barber County.

She was united in marriage to Joseph Pinekney Gibson, April 18, 1881. To this union five girls were born: Cornelia Mabel, Ethel, Gladys, Edith Fern, and Helen Josephine. Her husband and the two oldest daughers preceded her in death.

She was reared in a Christian home. Her father was a very earnest Christian. For many years, he led the singing in Sunday School and church. He was superintendent of the Sunday School many times. She was converted early in life and lived faithfully as a Christian all through the years. She and her husband united with the Methodist Episcopal church in Medicine Lodge, October 29, 1884. She was always a lover of the church and freely gave of her talent and her time to her Christ and her church. She was a faithful member of the official board many years. She was a militant member of the W.C.T.U. all through the years. She joined Carrie Nation in her raid on the Day Drug Store here in Medicine Lodge years ago when the liquor laws were being violated openly.

When she became the wife of Mr. Gibson, she became the mother of his four children, Will and John, Mary and Carrie, from a former marriage. Her great mother heart opened to them and they loved her and honored her as did her own daughters. She was always ready to make any sacrifice for the welfare of her children. Her unwavering faith in each of them and her encouragement in their early years proved a never-failing source of inspiration.

She was a great lover of flowers and would find great delight among them and continued her care of them when her frail body would hardly respond to the strong will that was ever manifest in every trial of her life. She scattered her beloved flowers far and wide, in the church she loved so much, in the sick room of friends and strangers.

She was never of rugged health and when a few years ago, she was warned that her days were limited, she accepted this situation without a complaint. She determined that even in her affliction, she would make all happy that made their way to her fireside. So these years of weakness and suffering have been years of service to those whose lives she touched. She was tenderly care for by her loving daughters, and her devoted son-in-law, Mr. Harrison. She appreciated everything that was done for her by the loved ones, the doctor, and the friends. The morning before her departure, her pastor visited her and she said she put her trust in her Lord and He was taking care of her, but she was so tired.

She planted, she sowed, a beautiful Christian life and now her loved ones and friends rise up and call her blessed.

She leaves to mourn her death her three daughters, Miss Gladys Gibson, Mrs. E.G. Shell, and Mrs. S.A. Harrison, all of Medicine Lodge; her four step-children, W.F. Gibson of Garber, Okla., John Gibson of Oklahoma City; Mrs. Mary Luallen of Medicine Lodge, and Mrs. Carrie Patton of Wichita; two sisters, Mrs. Fred Nurse of Medicine Lodge and Mrs. Elizabeth Stuart of Walla Walla, Washington, 17 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren and many other relatives and friends.

Also see:

Joseph P. Gibson, husband of Phoebe (Rogers) Gibson.

Green Adams Describe Things As He Saw Them In Barber County In The Early 1870's
Barber County Index, October 6, 1927.

Barney O'Conner Tells of Indian Scraps Here:
Early Day Character Relates Incidents From Fund of Pioneer Knowledge

Barber County Index, March 27, 1930.

Indians Killed Her Father Here In 1874
Barber County Index, September 18, 1930.

Mrs. Jennie Osborn Writes Most Interesting Article Concerning Experiences In Barber County

Barber County Index, September 29, 1927.

Attempted Bank Robbery in Medicine Lodge,
The Hazelton Express, May 8, 1884.

Carry A. NATION (Carrie Amelia NATION)   (Photograph)
Author of The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation, Revised edition, 1905.

Lee Wynkoop: "Recalls Narrow Escape From Indians"
(Undated newspaper clippings.)

Thanks to Bonnie (Garten) Shaffer for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article and obituary to this web site and to Patricia (Garten) Pass for the photograph of Phoebe Laura (Rogers) Gibson!

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