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Frank A. Kimple

The Western Star, July 4, 1924.

Some Early Day Experiences Recalled

by Frank A. Kimple
(Written for the Western Star)

Dedicating New Buildings

It was the custom during the early days of Comanche-co. to dedicate each large new building that was erected with a dance. In the spring of 1885 a large two story structure was built on the corner now occupied by the Golden Rule oil station in Coldwater. Geo. W. Vickers was the owner of the building, and it was used for many years as a banking house, in it being located the third bank in Coldwater.

On the completion of the building it was initiated in the usual way with a grand ball. A large crowd had assembled and everybody was having a fine time, when a shooting scrape occurred between the town marshal and some cowboys. The building was emptied in less than two minutes, both doors and windows being used as exits.

At the time I was asleep on the second floor of the building adjoining the Vickers building on the west, when a bullet, shot from a 45 caliber revolver, passed through my room, missing my body by about two inches, and striking a hinge on the closet door and shattering it.

I knew nothing of the affair until next morning, when I found a piece of flattened lead lying on the floor. Anxious to know what had happened, I picked up the bullet and went down to breakfast, where my folks were relating the big fight which had taken place while I was asleep. At that time Coldwater had five saloons.

Epidemic of Typhoid Malarial Fever

During the first year of the settlement of Coldwater, or in the fall of 1884 and the spring of 1885, the town had quite an epidemic of typhoid malarial fever. Many people lost their lives as a result. It was no uncommon thing to see people going to the cemetery, two miles south of town, from one to three times a week, with a corpse in a pine box, and with just enough men along to bury it.

Once I looked into an empty building, which had just been completed, and saw a man, all alone, and lying on a bed, very sick with fever. He called to me and asked if I would bring him a drink of cool water. There were but two wells in Coldwater at that time, and any one wishing a bucket of water quite often had to stand in line and wait his turn, which usually took from half an hour to an hour's time. After I procured the man a fresh drink of water he thanked me and seemed to appreciate it very much. I thought he was extremely polite and often wondered who he was. I found out 30 years later that it was John A. Lightner, now of Coldwater, and whom all the old timers know well.

The Hungriest I Ever Was

In the spring of 1891 a bunch of Coldwater men went down into what is now Oklahoma to the Cheyenne and Arapaho opening of lands for settlement. Among the crowd were Joe Bowers, Ike Mussett, Wash Mussett, Chas. Patterson, Frank Denniston, Johnnie Wilson, R. A. Callaway and myself. We took along a wagon load of provisions, so that we would have plenty to eat until such time as the race would be made for the land. After camping for two weeks on Rainy Mountain Creek, just south of the coveted land, we received the news that the land would open for settlement on a certain day at 12 o'clock noon.

This was good news to our bunch as we were becoming a little restless, low on food and supplies, and over a hundred miles from any railroad. After the race was finally made, and as none of the boys desired to remain there any longer, we set out for old Comanche-co., Kans., again, satisfied that we had just as good land at home.

Here is where the real hardship came in: Before we struck the state line again, we were out of everything except flour and bacon, and the last week we had flapjacks and bacon to eat three times a day and gyp water to drink. The more we washed our hands the dirtier they got. We also had a three days' rain on our return trip, with everything wet and cold. We were a sorry looking bunch when we struck the state line, near where Frank King and his wife owned and operated a large ranch at that time. We were all about starved. Mrs. King who is now a resident of Coldwater, at once got busy preparing a square meal to alleviate our torturous hunger. I know that Mrs. King is a fine cook. She soon had enough food prepared to feed the entire bunch. If I live to be 100 years old, I will never forget how good that meal tasted, and I think that all the rest of the boys enjoyed it as much as I did.

Built His Own Cage

The man who took the contract to build the first calaboose in Coldwater was the first person to be locked up in it.

The Western Star, January 2, 1925.

Reminiscences of Early days in Coldwater

By Frank A. Kimple

A Stolen Ride on a Freight Train

For three years after Coldwater was on the map, she had no railroad. The nearest railroad town was Kinsley, 60 miles distant. We were all so glad to see a train again that one Sunday afternoon in the early fall of 1887, just after the railroad was extended through Coldwater, a bunch of us boys decided we would board an east-bound freight train and take a little free ride to the next station, taking chances on getting back home some way even if we had to walk.

Those compromising the party were: Roy E. Stafford, Irvin H. Stafford, Howard Ray, Oscar Miller, J. D. Wallace and myself. The "brakey" didn't notice us until we were all on top of the cars and the train under good headway. After interviewing each one of us and finding out that the total finances of the crowd consisted of only 35 cents, he let us alone.

By this time the train was going at full speed and we were all lying down on the ridge board of three cars, hanging on for dear life. The wind was fierce and several times I thought I would be lifted off the top of the car and tossed to the ground. The cars were swaying back and forth as the track was new and very rough. At times the cars seemed to be from 4 to 6 feet out of line. Scared? Well, I guess we were. I don't know what the other boys thought, but I was sure the train was going to jump the track every minute.

When near Wilmore I managed to muster up courage enough to take a brief glance at the other boys and they were all as pale as ghosts. When the train whistled for Wilmore and our fright was fast receding in anticipation of landing on safe ground again, imagine our surprise when the train went right through Wilmore without slowing down. One of the boys yelled out, "We're on a through freight to Wichita," then we all turned pale again. We were in a terrible state of mind. What would our parents think? We managed to hold on to the ridge boards until we got to Belvidere, but the train thundered right on through the same as she did at Wilmore. This confirmed our belief that we were on a through freight to Wichita.

However, the train stopped for water three miles east of Belvidere. We weren't long in getting off that train and hot footing it back to Belvidere, as we figured that by hurrying we could reach that station before the passenger train would arrive from the east, and we might be lucky enough to bum our way back home again. The train whistled just as we got back to Belvidere and we all got on the blind baggage car, but the conductor saw us and stopped the train and kicked us all off. One of our bunch jumped on the second time, went into the coach, where he met a Coldwater man who paid his fare back to Coldwater.

What became of the rest of us? Why, we just had to walk home 22 miles on railroad ties - that's all. J. R. Stafford, father of Roy and Irvin Stafford, upon hearing of our experiences, hitched up to a surrey and drove east to meet us and bring us home, but missed us in a railroad cut and drove to Belvidere in the cold and wind, getting home late in the night. When he arrived home, Roy and Irv were were sound asleep in bed as though nothing had happened.

That was my first and last experience on free rides on a railroad train.


The Western Star, June 13, 1947.

Frank A. Kimple, Pioneer, Died Monday

Frank A. Kimple, a resident of Comanche county and Coldwater since early 80s (1880's), passed away in St. Joseph hospital in Wichita at 10:30 p.m. on Monday, June 9, at the age of 76 years. He suffered a stroke two weeks before and did not regain consciousness, in spite of all medical aid.

Funeral services were held in the Coldwater Presbyterian church at 2:30 Thursday afternoon with the pastor Dr. S. A. Fulton, in charge. Leroy and Raymond Cline sang Mr. Kimple's favorite hymn, "Jesus Savior, Pilot Me," Mrs. Frank Weber sang "The Lord's Prayer" and Miss Caroline Peterson played two selections on her clarinet, "This Is My Father's World" and "The Old Rugged Cross." Mr. Kimple was for many years a band member and loved instrumental music. Mrs. A. A. White was the organ accompanist.

Burial was made in the family lot in Crown Hill Cemetery by the side of his wife who passed away January 5, 1940. The active pallbearers were J. W. Atteberry, Wm. H. Avery, Warren P. Morton, M. G. Brown, Harvey W. Thompson and Harry B. Cloud. The honorary pallbearers were R. M. Kirk, E. E. Pounds, Frank Dodson, W. G. Nicholas, L. N. Daves, M. H. Wilson and B. F. Arnold.

An account of Mr. Kimple's interesting life will be published in the Star next week.

The Western Star, June 20, 1947.

Kimple Funeral Held June 12th

Had Been Resident of This County Since the Early 80s

Frank Albert Kimple, son of Wm. Henry and Jennie Rogers Kimple, was born at Corydon, Iowa, November 18, 1870, and passed away in St. Joseph's hospital in Wichita, Kans., at 10:30 a.m. June 9, 1947, at the age of 76 years, 6 months and 22 days, following a stroke 14 days before.

As a boy of 12 he came with his father over the hills from Medicine Lodge to Coldwater in a covered wagon. For pastime he used to pound out tin cans for the merchants for their roofs as that was the only kind of shingles they had for awhile.

After helping his father in a livery stable and at the same time going to school, he braved the hardships of teaching school in the old D. T. McIntire district in the southeast of the county. The snows were terrible in those years; not even a horse could get along at times. While teaching Frank slept in a granary where the snow would sometimes come in on his bed.

He decided he wanted more education so he went to the Iowa Business College in Des Moines, and upon his graduation, as the best penman in his class, became a bookkeeper for a life insurance company, which position he held for nine years.

When the opening of the Oklahoma Strip was held, he made the run which attracted settlers from all over the nation. But nothing looked as good as Comanche County, so he returned to Coldwater and taught penmanship in the schools here.

He was appointed Register of Deeds of this county and later was elected to that office, where he made an efficient officer. He also conducted a real estate and abstracting office, and later a lumber yard.

It was during this time that he purchased the Kimple farm southwest of Coldwater, where he made his home until his death except for two years which he spent operating The Southern Hay and Grain Co. in Muskogee, Okla.

Mr. Kimple was a born horticulturist and love trees. He planted all the trees at the Kimple orchard and thousands of other trees in the county. He was also a lover of flowers and grew them with ease.

Mr. Kimple was a member of the Coldwater Presbyterian church for nearly 50 years and his tenor voice was heard in it for 25 years. He was a member of the building board when the present office was constructed and the organ installed.

On September 27, 1900, Mr. Kimple was united in marriage with Miss Evah Halliday a talented musician of Coldwater. To this union were born four children - John William Kimple of Wichita, Frank A. Kimple Jr. of Conway Springs, Miss Genevieve Lisle Kimple of the home and Mrs. Mary Margaret Weldon of Wichita, all of whom survive. Other survivors are one sister, Miss Stella Kyle of Trivoli, Ill., a half-brother, Harry S. Kimple, of Wichita; a half-sister, Mrs. Winniefred Coles of Coldwater and seven grandchildren - Donald, Wanda, Stanley and Eldon Kimple of Conway Springs and John W. Kimple Jr. and Ronald Kimple of Wichita and Delores Weldon of Wichita, besides a host of friends. One brother, Warnie, preceded him in death; also his faithful wife who passed away January 5, 1940.

Mr. Kimple was a member of the Masonic Lodge for nearly 50 years and was its secretary for many years. He was also a member of the Eastern Star and was a booster for the early Farm Bureau. He was a kind and thoughtful husband and father and a good citizen in every respect and his word was as good as his bond. He had an exceptionally good memory of early day experience. All who knew him were his friends, and he spoke no ill of anyone.

Also see:

Coldwater Centennial Notebook, by Evelyn Reed.

(First Railroad Train Arrives in Coldwater, Kansas.)
The Western Star, August 27, 1887.

Comanche-co.'s Twelve Registers of Deeds
The Western Star, February 11, 1927.

Genevieve Kimple, locally known as "Apple Annie".

Comanche County Officers, 1885 - 2007

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

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