Early Days At Protection, Comanche County, Kansas Hosted by RootsWeb, the oldest & largest FREE genealogical site. Click here to visit RootsWeb.
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Early Days at Protection

By Mrs. Blanche Denney-Towner

From The Ruth Botts History Collection,
Copied from material gathered by E.G. Osmon of Protection, Kansas.

In the early summer of 1885 after the influx of settlers during the winter and spring, the cattle men realized their range or free range was fast disappearing, so one sunny pleasant afternoon the cowboys rode through the country, calling at every sod shanty and dugout, warning the settlers the Indians from the south were on the war path, burning and killing as they came, and would reach this community by night. The men of the community had foreseen such an occasion and had gathered at a bluff northwest of what is now Protection, and dug deep trenches for breastworks to fire from, and these trenches are still plainly discernible after sixty years, at what is known as the "old fort". With the exception of two families, W.I. Brown and D.B. Denney, everyone by horseback, ox team, and horse drawn wagons hurried to the "fort". The women, children and teams were put on the north side of the bluff, and the men set out scouts on horses to view and bring back the alarm if Indians were seen, while a goodly number remained at or near the breastworks. The creek was up, and the mosquitoes were indeed a menace but no fires could be lighted for smudge fires, because of the attracting smoke. With the returning light of day all returned to their homes and, it was later learned, that it was all a ruse by the cattlemen to run the settlers out. A store and post office called Red Bluff was located just south of the "fort" and Hiram Holderby was the postmaster and storekeeper.

In 1890 after a particularly dry summer, a man came to Protection declaring his ability to bring rain to the community. After a payment of $150.00 had been made to him, secured by passing the hat, he fired or caused explosives of powder to be set off, and then he too "set off" for parts unknown. The next day or soon, there was the most destructive hail storm, that Protection and vicinity have ever known. Just great slugs of ice fell. Jake Wuchter owned a livery barn or "stable" as it was known in those days. It was located about where the Critzer hardware is now, only instead of cement walks and guttering, there was a buffalo wallow in the front. During this hail and the terrible wind storm that accompanied it, the roof to the barn was so badly damaged that it had to be reroofed. Tobe Morris, a negro blacksmith, who kept his team in the barn, had just gone over to get them to drive out to his home, which was just southwest from where Orlie Edmonston now lives. He said a "kyard" game was in progress, but when those slugs of ice began coming through the roof, the "kyard" game broke up in a hurry.

In 1890 some of the owners of great herds of cattle turned them loose on the settlers' crops. The settlers shot many of the cattle and drove the rest to the four winds, so there has been no further trouble between the settlers and cattlemen, as the herd law, which had been enacted, was enforced. About 1890 there was a move to repeal the herd law. The day of the election, in Protection, one man was freely treated to the "drink that elects", and when his friends thought the zero hour was at hand, said, "Let's go vote for free range". He said, "I'm sorry, boys, but I voted for herd law this morning". No, I don't know what they did to the man.

There was a post office where Mrs. Creighton's house now stands or where the old house stood called the "Woodford" Post Office. A man by the name of Woodford took that claim. The mail was carried from Mullinville to Protection by a man by the name of Horn, whose son, John Horn, was a carpenter and lived in Coldwater for many years.

A spring wagon and a team of mules was the mode of locomotion. Oliver Jones lived just across the creek in the only frame house in the community. Fred says the Wuchter Hotel was among the first business houses erected in Protection. Also Aunt Jane Fish's Hotel was an early building.

Then there was the Manning Hotel that stood where Alex Cohlmias now live. Main Street, south of where Cohlmias live, was the main business part of town.

A.B. Cook conducted a store just across the street, where Leroy Smith lived, just south of their building.

There was a bank for a while where the Church of God now stands. Then Ed Foy ran a store there for some years. In the early years of 1900, Bill Baxter conducted a store there.

Thanks to Patricia Snyder for typing the above history for this web site and to Bobbi Huck for finding the information!

"Ernest George (E.G.) Osmon was the Protection depot agent for years. The Protection Post and The Western Star repeatedly misspelled his last name as Osman, but it was definitely Osmon. I'm still trying to figure out how he actually spelled his first name. He almost always went by E.G. The newspaper spelled it Ernest, but his tombstone is Earnest. I checked the courthouse and couldn't find any documents he signed with his full name. His son was George E. Osmon." -- Note from Dave Webb, 19 July 2005.

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