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The Western Star, June 17, 1955.

Another Pioneer Taken in Death

Mrs. Mary Smith Had Settled on Claim Here in 1885

Mary Josephine Sunderland was born in Macoupin county, Illinois, on March 9, 1864, near the village of Bunker Hill, a short time before the close of the Civil War, and departed this life in Powell township on June 7, 1955, at the home of her son, Fay Smith. She was the second child of Charles and Leah Sunderland and lived on the farm of her parents and 10 other brothers and sisters until she became the age of 21. During her girlhood days she was very popular among her associates, always cheerful and friendly.

At the age of 21 she came by covered wagon to Comanche county, Kansas, and filed a claim on 100 acres near the town of Evansville, which was then the headquarters for the cattlemen who belonged to the Comanche Cattle Pool. This claim was located on what is now known as a part of the Biddle ranch and about 20 miles southeast of Wilmore when everything was then open range. After living the required time on her claim she moved to the home of her parents, who later had also come from Illinois to the town of Nescatunga, where her father was the proprietor of a hotel. This was a prosperous and flourishing little town and there was at that time a contest as to whether it or Coldwater would be the county seat.

It was at Nescatunga that she met Stephen L. Smith, who with his brother, Allen Smith, had come from Medicine Lodge to manage the Yomen Mercantile Co. on November 30, 1887, they were united in marriage and moved to their farm four miles east of Wilmore. Some of their neighbors were the Ferrins, Wrights, Fringers, Woods, Powells, Nielsens and Pyles.

To this union eight children were born; Lawson A., Wheaton, Kans.; Leslie F.; Lewis R. and Stephen F. of Comanche county, and Clarence E., Mead, Wash.; and Mrs. Maudice Ray, Wichita, Kans.; Mrs. Edna Hayes, Hillsdale, Okla.; and Mrs. Keren Bogar, Twin Falls, Idaho. Her husband preceded her in death on February 23, 1909.

Also surviving are two brothers, W. H. Sunderland, Coldwater; and Lloyd Sunderland, Satanta, Kans.; and one sister, Mrs. Maude Sailor, Coldwater, Kans.; with 32 grandchildren and 47 great-grandchildren, besides other relatives and friends.

At an early age she became a member of the Methodist church in Illinois, later affiliating with the Wilmore Christian church, of which she was a charter member.

She was active and loyal in the faith she held and was a devoted mother and neighbor, extending effort and sacrifice in rearing and educating her family. In 1922 she moved from the farm to Wilmore with her two daughters, Edna and Keren, until 1929. Since then she made her home with her daughter, Keren at Belpre, Kans., and later in Twin Falls, Idaho, where she resided until recently, returning to Comanche county on account of failing health.

Thus concludes the life account of another pioneer citizen who faced the elements in developing the community and county for the comfort and welfare of those who follow.


S. Fay Smith, son of Stephen L. & Mary (Sunderland) Smith.

Marriage of Stephen & Mary (Sunderland) Smith

Jessie Evans of Evansville, Comanche County, Kansas     Notes from the research of Phyllis Scherich.

The History of Evansville, Comanche County, Kansas     Headquarters of the Comanche Pool.

Perils of the Plains     An account of pioneer life as experienced by Will and Hattie Wimmer, how they met, married, and lived within the boundaries of the vast Comanche Cattle Pool of South Central Kansas in the late nineteenth century. Written by Hattie Pierce Wimmer in 1929.

Bill Hill, The Comanche Pool's Bronc Buster

John and Lizzie Platt     John Platt and his Uncle came to Comanche County in 1884, buying shares in the old Comanche Pool.

John W. Platt and the Platt Ranch     A history by Mike Platt and Joyce Reed, Chosen Land: Barber County, Kansas, p. 368..

Obituary of John W. Platt     Published in The Western Star, 6 August 1920. Transcribed by Shirley Brier.

Obituary of Colonel Dick Phillips, an organizer of The Comanche Pool     From The Western Star, published Coldwater, Comanche County, Kansas, 30 June 1916. Transcribed by Shirley Brier

Frank & Almada (Parker) King     Frank King was the last foreman of the Comanche Pool.

Almada (Parker) King     "Mrs. Frank King Is Another Pioneer"

Christopher Carson "Cap" PEPPERD    Born in Ireland. Confederate Civil War veteran, cowboy, bronc buster, cattle trail driver & early (1874) Comanche County rancher. His ranch foreman, Tommy Wilmore, was a Union veteran of the Civil War.

Charles F. Colcord     One of the organizers of the Comanche Pool.

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

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