Life Sketches of Comanche-co. Pioneers * Some of Their Struggles and Early-day Experiences.
At left: David Frankford Edmonds
Probably no other person in Comanche-co., and few in the state, can present better claims to the title of "pioneer" in the state than can David Frankford Edmonds of this city. If he lives until the 24th of next June, he will be 82 years of age. Nearly 70 of these years have been spent in Kansas, and over 39 years in Comanche-co. he knows Kansas as do very few people now living in the state, for he has seen almost every phase of the state's development. He came to the state, or rather to the territory of Kansas, when about the only towns of any consequences were Lawrence, Topeka, Fort Scott and Emporia, and even these towns had scarcely grown out of the "trading post" class. Wichita, Hutchinson, Great bend and Dodge City were not yet on the map. Mr. Edmonds knew that old Santa Fe Trail and other old landmarks in the state quite well, for he had several years of personal and intimate association therewith. His knowledge of Kansas history has been first hand knowledge for he learned out of the book of experience.
Mr. Edmonds was born near Albia, Monroe-co., Iowa, on June 24, 1842. Twelve years later his parents moved to near Leavenworth, Kans., but stayed there only a few months, when they went on to Livingston-co., Missouri, where they made their home for many years. Young Dave, however, showed a preference for Kansas, and he, although but 12 years of age at the time, decided to stay near Fort Leavenworth. He secured work as a farm hand and started out to "hoe his own row" in life.
At that time the only means the Government had of transporting provisions, war supplies, etc., from Fort Leavenworth in the forts of Colorado and New Mexico was by means of wagon trains, usually drawn by oxen. Travel across the plains was made over the old Santa Fe Trail. It was not unusual for a train of from 60 to 75 wagons to be seen winding its way across the state at the rate of from 20 to 25 miles per day.
Young Edmonds got acquainted with some of these freighters and was induced to enter the service of the government as an assistant freighter, and for three years, during the years 1856-57-58, he made three trips from Fort Leavenworth to Santa Fe, New Mexico by way of Fort Union, Colorado. The round trip nearly always required from six to eight months. Mr. Edmonds relates many interesting and exciting experiences which he and his fellow freighters had during those three years. On a good many occasions they were compelled to barricade themselves for protection against the Indians, who were then quite numerous and a great menace to travelers across the state. It was thus that young Dave Edmonds got some valuable lessons in perseverance and endurance as a pioneer before he was 20 years of age. The story of his experiences during those three years would fill an entire volume.
A few years following 1858 were spent by young Edmonds working as a farm hand near Topeka, Burlingame, Cottonwood Falls and other central Kansas towns which had just been started. For about nine months he lived in Butler-co. He says that Eldorado was then a mere trading post. As an index of the wildness of the country then, Mr. Edmonds relates that at one time he stood in the door of his cabin, northwest of where Eldorado now stands, and shot buffalo.
From Butler-co. Mr. Edmonds moved to near Valley Center in Sedgwick-co., where he secured a claim. Later he went to near Cottonwood Falls, and from there back to Missouri, where he made a visit with his parents. That was in the spring of 1861. The Civil War had broken out, and, quite naturally, young Edmonds was not content, until he had volunteered and got into the uniform of a Union soldier. He joined Co. E. 2d Missouri Cavalry, and spent about 18 months in the service, principally in the state of Missouri. His company took part in engagements near Springfield, Rose Hill, Cape Girardeau and Memphis, in that state. He was mustered out of the service at Mexico, Mo. He spent several months at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, while in training.
After the war Mr. Edmonds returned to Kansas, settling in or near Cottonwood Falls in Chase-co. It was there on June 12, 1865, that he was united in marriage with Miss Lois Dunlap. His wife at once began to share with him in the many vicissitudes and sacrifices incident to building up a home in a new country. The family located near Valley Center and made their home there for several years. Lured by the prospects of securing some land in a good livestock country, Mr. Edmonds, his father-in-law and another companion made a trip to this part of the state in the fall of 1874 and Mr. Edmonds took a claim on Mule Creek in the eastern part of what is now Comanche-co, and there spent a portion of the winter. As they were on their return to Sedgwick-co. In January, 1875, they were overtaken near the Ninnescah river by a severe blizzard, and they narrowly escaped being frozen to death. A Mr. Clements and two other men from Lake City, who happened to be camping near them, each had his feet so badly frozen that amputation was necessary. Mr. Edmonds returned to his claim in this county and made some further improvements, and during the fall of that year his family came. They continued to live here, and thus became real pioneers in Comanche-co. When Mr. Edmonds came, there were very few settlers up and down Mule Creek and the Medicine River. Not long after the Edmonds came, R. H. Estill, D. T. McIntire, W. P. Holbert, Thos. Wilmore, Capt. Pepperd and others came and settled along Mule Creek.
It was thus that Dave Edmonds pioneered in Kansas. It is not difficult to understand that experiences such as he and his associates had to pass through would try one's metal. But Dave Edmonds was not willing to give up, as many of his neighbors did. He stayed with the country and he says that he is glad that he did so. He finally succeeded in getting a fine ranch built up - 1080 acres in all. This ranch was sold several years ago to Wm. Stout of Wichita. Rice Price is now owner of the ranch, which is located 12 miles east and 3 miles north of this city.
Since the death of Mrs. Edmonds on April 3, 1913, Mr. Edmonds has made his home with his children, principally with Mr. and Mrs. V. K. Blackard in this city. He is the father of nine children, six of whom are still living as follows: Mrs. Alice Wineburner of Mooreland, Okla.; Mrs. Lucy May Wicker of Delaware, Okla.; Mrs. Mary Letta Crites of Enid, Okla.; Mrs. Hattie J. Davis of Los Angeles, Calif.; Mrs. Grace M. Blackard of this city; William Henry Edmonds of this county. Mrs. Annetta Blair, another daughter, died in Kansas City about five years ago. One son, Frank J., died in northern Kansas about three years ago and another son, George Edward , died in Colorado a little over two years ago.
(Note from page 58 of the Diamond Jubilee booklet: "Mr. Edmonds died in Coldwater, May 21, 1930, and with his death passed the last Civil War veteran in this county."
The Western Star, May 23, 1930.D. F. Edmond's, who had been a resident of Comanche-co. most of the time for about 55 years, died at 2 o'clock a.m. on Wednesday of this week, May 21, at the home of his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. V. K. Blackard, in this city.
D. F. EDMONDS, CIVIL WAR VETERAN, PASSES AWAY
He had been in failing health for some time, and death was due to enfeebled vitality and complications incident to old age. He lacked but one month and four days of being eighty-eight years of age at the time of his death. He began, about a month ago, to grow weaker, but had rallied, and no special alarm was felt as to his condition.
On the day before his death, Mr. Edmonds came down town and got a shave and hair cut. Tuesday night, he was sitting in a rocking chair, when death came suddenly and unexpectedly, and without a struggle.
Funeral services were conducted from the M. E. church in this city at 3 p.m. on Thursday, the pastor, Rev. C. C. Brown, being in charge. Members of the American Legion served as active pall bearers and he was given a military burial. Six surviving pioneer settlers in the county were honorary pall bearers. Burial was made in Crown Hill cemetery.
David Frankford Edmonds was born near Albia in Monroe-co., Iowa, on June 24, 1842. When he was 11 years of age, the family moved to near Leavenworth, Kans., remaining there for less than a year, then going to Livingstone-co., Mo. Young Dave, however remained in Kansas.
As a young man he worked on farms near Topeka, Burlingame and other Kansas towns. There were very few settlers in Kansas then, and no large towns. Wichita and Hutchinson had not yet been started.
There was much traveling over the Santa Fe Trail from Leavenworth to Santa Fe, N. M., and it was not long until young Dave Edmonds was attracted to the life of a trail freighter. During the years 1856, '57 and '58, he was an assistant freighter for the Government. The round trip from Leavenworth to New Mexico then required six months.
Mr. Edmonds spent nearly a year in Butler-co., this state. He then went to Chase-co., going from there to Missouri on a visit with his parents. While in that state he volunteered his services in defense of the Union.
He became a member of Co. E., Second Missouri Calvary, and served in the army for 18 months, most of the time in the state of Missouri. He took part in battles which were fought near Springfield, Rose Hill, Cape Girardeau and Memphis.
After the war Mr. Edmonds returned to Kansas, and on June 12, 1865, in Chase-co., he was united in marriage with Miss Lois Dunlap, who preceded him in death on April 3, 1913.
In the fall of 1874, Mr. Edmonds, in the company with his father-in-law and another companion, came to this part of the state in search of some good ranch land. He took a claim on Mule Creek in the eastern part of this county, and there the three spent the winter. During the following year, he moved with his family to this county. They thus became real pioneers here. The land on which they settled is now owned by Rice Price, and is located 12 miles east and three miles north of this city. After the death of Mrs. Edmonds, Mr. Edmonds made his home most of the time with Mr. and Mrs. Blackard.
Mr. Edmonds is survived by four daughters and two sons, as follows: Alice Wineburner of Mooreland, Okla., Lucy May Wicker and Mary Letta Crites of Enid, Okla., Hattie J. Davis of Los Angeles, Calif, Grace M. Blackard of Coldwater, Wm. Henry Edmonds of Pomona, Mo., and Tom Edmonds of Attica, Kans. One daughter, Annetta Blair, died several years ago in Kansas City, and another son, George Edward, died in Colorado about eight years ago. All of the surviving children, except W. H. and Mrs. Davis, were present at the funeral.
In the passing of Mr. Edmonds, the last Civil War veteran in this county is gone. He had been a resident of this county for over a half century, and was one of our best known citizens.
A TRIBUTE TO D. F. EDMONDS
by Mrs. R. A. J. Shelley
The curtains of the past are drawn aside and thoughts of the great Civil War are brought on the scene for the last time when D. F. Edmonds, who was Comanche county's oldest Civil War veteran, passed over.
Mr. Edmonds had been slowly slipping toward death; sinking a little farther toward the chasm each day, but like a brave soldier who had been long under fire, he was determined to meet his death on his feet.
Mr. Edmonds has watched the historical pageant of the west unfold.
As one of the first scouts who went after the buffalo and Indians, he saw the little villages of shacks and sod houses grow into prosperous and thriving towns and cities.
He was a true friend, a kind and generous neighbor. He always had time to stop and chat a few minutes with the sick and shut ins. Like the Indian and the buffalo, he passed as the sunset's glow touches life's west window.
The Western Star, 4 April 1913.
MRS. D. F. EDMONDS, DEAD.
At 10:10 o'clock yesterday evening, April 3, 1913, Mrs. D. F. Edmonds, died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. G. W. Crites, in this city, after an illness which had extended through about six weeks. She had been a sufferer from a complication of liver and kidney trouble. All that loving hands and medical skill could do was not sufficient to stay the encroaches of the disease. Her suffering was borne with patience and she seemed to have no fear of death.
Deceased, whose maiden name was Lois Dunlap, was born in Princeton, Illinois, and was 54 years old on the 22nd day of last February. On June 12, 1865, in Chase county, she was married to David F. Edmonds. The family moved from Chase county to Sedgwick county, where they lived for a few years, coming from there to Comanche county in March 1876, and thus becoming among the very first settlers in this county. They continued almost uninterruptedly, to make the eastern part of this county their home. Mrs. Edmonds was a faithful and devoted wife and mother, kind to all and a good neighbor, and was much esteemed by all. For several years she had been a member of the U. B. church. The husband, four sons and five daughters survive, and to them the sympathy of all goes out in this their hour of sad bereavement. Funeral services will be conducted at the home this afternoon, Rev. A. A. Hankins of the M. E. church being in charge. Interment will be made in the Coldwater cemetery.
Obituary: George Edward EDMONDS
Son of D.F. & Lois (Dunlap) Edmonds.
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