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The Western Star, March 24, 1922.


A few Reminiscences of Pioneer Life in Comanche-co.

From Chas. V. Jones.

February 23, 1922.
Editor, Western Star,
Coldwater, Kansas.

Dear Sir:

I have received several copies of your paper in the past years from my brother Frank at Moscow, Idaho, and in many of them, under the heading "In older days" have noticed my name mentioned.

Every copy takes me back to the days when I attended the little two room school house south of the rail road, and made life a burden to several of the teachers there. I remember very distinctly a little incident that happened while attending this school, and which some of your readers may recall.

A party of us young fellows consisting, as near as I can remember of Dell Wallis, Irv and Roy Stafford, Hank Chapman, Clyde Harding, Bud Chandler and myself, and it is possible that there may have been others that I have forgotten, decided that a watermelon patch about a mile west of Coldwater was in just about the proper condition for us to pay it a visit. We had been keeping this patch under pretty close observation, and while we had never visited it, we had direct evidence that something must be done at once to keep the melons from spoiling, so we thought that night, (Friday) would be a good time to go out and look the melons over. We started out as soon as possible after supper, and when we called at J. W. Harding's hardware store, we found that Clyde, very much against his will, was obliged to stay there for about an hour to help his father unpack some goods, so after giving him our sympathy and instructions as to what kind of a signal to give when he came out there, so one of us could come and show him where to cross a small creek that was near the patch, we proceeded and in a very short time were doing justice to some of the finest watermelons ever grown in Comanche county. Just about the time we were dealing on our next move, we heard Clyde giving the prearranged whistle, so it fell to my lot to go and show him where to jump the creek. I found Clyde without trouble, but at about that time two men came along on horseback. One of them was Joe Bowers, the other John Patterson, the latter we suspicion as the owner of the melons, so when we found the place to jump the creek, I did the jumping instead of Clyde and we started for town. The two on horseback rode up to the patch and began to shoot. There was a corn field adjoining this melon patch, and say; did you ever hear cattle stampeding through a field of dry corn on a quiet moonlight night? Clyde and I were about a half mile away and going good, but we could hear the corn being tramped into the ground, so we decided to take a short cut through a pasture. We had gone perhaps 500 feet from the fence, when we heard, and then saw the two gentlemen on horseback who rode up to the fence and after commanding us to halt, began to fire. Clyde dropped at the first fire but I didn't till I ran into a barbed wire fence on the other side of the pasture. I never knew there were as many buffalo wallows in the State of Kansas as I ran through that night in crossing that 200 acre pasture, and all of them about half full of water. I finally reached town and stuck around until all the party except Clyde Harding came in and we held a council of war as to what we could do, for we all thought that Clyde had been shot, but about midnight he showed up uninjured. He told us that he fell from stumbling when we were shot at, and that Bowers and Patterson had made him walk back to the fence. They then got him to tell them all of our names, and told him that if we would pay them $3.00 each for the damage to the melons and corn they would forget it, otherwise they would have us all arrested, and that one of them would call for money Monday morning at the school house. We held several meetings Saturday and Sunday regarding the matter, but as most of us had nothing we could use as money, decided to let them do whatever they wanted to. Monday morning came all right, and while some of us were not anxious or crazy about school that day, we were all there when Prof. Rader called the roll. Along about the time the first calls in Arithmetic was at the blackboard, we heard a knock at the door, and when the Prof. opened it and then turned and said "Mr. Harding you are wanted at the door" it was all some of us could do to keep on our feet. I know that I dropped the piece of chalk I was holding and had an awful time trying to pick it up. Clyde told the gentlemen that we had decided not to pay them the money, so he left after telling him that he would get out a warrant for us, but that was the last we ever heard of it, although we were uneasy for several days.

I was rooming in a brick building in Coldwater. I think it was the Avery-Hungerford block, in the spring of 1891, when we had a gentle breeze that took part of the tin roof off of the building and chased it up and down Main street two or three times, causing my room mate, Ed Hutchinson, and myself to get up and hunt for a cyclone cellar. We found several but they were all filled to capacity, so we went back to bed. I left there about a week after this, but am coming back some day to visit again the places where I passed "The Days of Real Sport" and expect to find many of the old-timers, although I have met only one person, aside from members of my own family, since leaving there that I knew, that was Walter Crow. I have often wondered if Hank Chapman still owns the old, long barrel gun that he had when he and I hunted ducks around Coldwater. With best wishes for your success, and trusting that I may be able to come back there some time when you have a closed season on cyclones, I am,

Yours very truly,


The Western Star, 1950.

Makes First Visit Here In 57 Years

Mr. and Mrs. Charles V. Jones of Newberg, Ore., made Coldwater a visit recently while on a month's bus trip, which took them to Michigan, Illinois, Missouri and the Ozarks, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

Mr. Jones is a son of John J. Jones, who established the Comanche County Bank, the county's first banking institution. He is also a grandson of Capt. B.M. Veatch, one of Coldwaters earliest settlers.

Mr. Jones lived in a house located about a quarter of a mile east of the old Walter Meers farm adjoining Coldwater on the southeast and attended school here until May 1891, when the family left here. He went to school with Jay T. Botts and while here visited with Mr. Botts, Dick H. Rich and a few others whom he knew in Coldwater. This was his first visit in Coldwater in 57 years.

Mr. Jones was assistant postmaster in Moscow, Idaho for 11 years and spent 21 years in Portland, Oregon, moving in 1921 to Newberg, Oregon, where he has built up a good real estate business.

His brother, Frank C. Jones, left Coldwater in 1901, and for many years has retained his residence in Moscow, Idaho. He now makes his home in the Hotel Moscow.

Charley notes that there have been many changes in Coldwater since 1892. At that time there were three newspapers here -- The Coldwater Enterprise, edited by N.F. Mounts, The Coldwater Echo with Frank Hutchens at its helm, and The Western Star, with W.M. Cash as its guiding light.

Also see:

Leo Thornberry's Watermelon Patch by Wendel Ferrin.

Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the 1922 news article to this web site!

Thanks to Roberta (Bliss) Malone contributing the 1950 article to this web site, to Patricia Snyder for typing the text, and to Bobbi (Hackney) Huck for her help in arranging the contribution!

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