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Nancy Porter Letter to Samina Maxwell

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 27 Jan 1927 [unknown]
Location: [unknown]
Surnames/tags: McMullen Porter Maxwell
This page has been accessed 21 times.

This was originally a letter written by Nancy (McMullen) Porter to her daughter Carrie Samina (Porter) Maxwell). Mina began transcribing it, but apparently never finished. A copy of that transcription was given to Emma (Porter) Coleman, who was Nancy's granddaughter. She then passed it on to Katrina, her granddaughter. The photocopy is difficult to read, in parts, and cuts off abruptly at the end. But it is full of interesting details, nevertheless. -KTL

Dear Mina:

Glad to get your letter, but now for a brief history of my life---

I was born in Gentry County, Missouri, November 18, 1854, on Grand River near Albany, the county seat of Gentry Co., where we lived until 7 years old. When the Civil War broke out then my brother Andrew, brother-in-law Frank Barkley & his brother John and my step-brother Charley Scavill and many of our neighbor boys were called to arms. There was an old field where they met to drill near us. We children used to go out and watch them drill. They were just preparing then in bunches to meet their regiment in Albany. We went 1 or 2 times to see a bunch leave when they were called for, though I was only 7 when first I remembered many transactions of the war days. Daddy rented our farm out and took charge of a steam flowering [sic] mill at Filander, a small town, for 2 years, then sold his farm on Grand River and moved 20 miles to Decalb Co., 4-miles form King City, where we lived until close of War, all at home. They were stationed at Lexington & Warrensburg and never left Mo. and along Kansas Border all through. Only home once in 4-years on furlow. Soon my sisters were all married off; all married to soldier boys. 1-step sister, one brother that had been at home now 20 married and that leaves me, 12-years old. Then we moved near King City, a new town just starting and no school. Frank Barkley was elected sheriff of Gentry Co, lived in Albany and I went to live with them and go to school as my school had been badly neglected thru war times and hard times. Frank sheriff 2 terms or 8 years.

I lived with them until they left Albany but while in Albany I had one particular friend, Volney Brown, a school pal and special chum until I was married. He was light complectioned and a good boy and of a nice family of eight, 1 boys and 4 girls as far as I know. Volney is still living in Gentry Co. near the old home where there are but few Albany friends left. Dan goes back 3 or 4 times. I never went back home but once in 10 years. When i went back I had 3 children. Did not see many old chums. It was winter them. Started home to Kansas Dec. 26, 1883.

[Text is broken and illegible in the first part of the following paragraph]

I was married at King City August 31, 1873 by [-] by the name of Phillips to J. G. Porter on Sunday. There were about 40 friends and guests. Manuel Tyler best [-] Sarah Dawes best Girl. Was shiveried at night. Were paid $5 or $10 and they went and got their treats. We started for Kansas 8-days afterwards in company with Porter, Jewell County. All stayed together that winter but J.G. went on a hunt and was gone 2 months. On his trip he bargained for the place we afterward took up; traded a silver watch worth 14 dollars to Lee [Leo?] Ives of Burroak for his relinquishment to his claim in Norton County. We moved on it March 7, 1874 where we indured [sic] with others the many hardships of the frontier life. Norton is the nearest town; kept nothing but food supplies. We had 3 horses and a spade and soon had a small dug-out to move in. Had bedding but no bedstead so he cut sticks forks on the creek and drove them in the ground like camp fire fashion. This answered the purpose for all summer, it being 40 miles to Fort Hays the nearest R. R. station where we traded, or Kerwin, Kansas. , about the same distance. We dug steps out of the house but had no door until fall; partly for fear of Indians. We rather climbed out with 3 steps cellar fashion. The first summer after we went there we had made the acquaintance of several hunters for several miles off up Prairie Dog Creek and all around cow boys frontiersman etc., as close neighbors were scarce. One particular friend Ed O'Bryant lived at Jennings Post Office, 20 miles above Prairie Creek. He was on the range most all the time. Helped Pa load up a wagon load of Buffalo meat to bring back to Jewell with him after his hunt as they were just killing them by the hundreds and selling the skins, eating what they wanted, Fort Hays and Fort Dodge were the principal stations from where they shipped the hides.

It was he that later caused me to get that scare. He came several times on his way to Jewell county were he had land and stopped over night. We were always glad to see him, but he came in one night about 8 or 9, I had gone to bed, Pa was gone. He said he had helped his friend John Fogal run off and steal a pair of mules; fine ones. They knew who he was and he would have to suffer the consequences. Said they stole them through spite for a well trained hunter poney [sic] of his friend, John Fogal. That was the last we ever saw of him. Never heard direct either but in some way heard he was in the Pen-. On the next night, after he left there came two men in the night after him. Gave us a scare. (Mother's writing confusing here) but thought these men posed of surgum makers and wanted to stay while they looked around the country for these thieves.

We were taken by grasshoppers in '74 and '75 the 1st and 2nd year we were on our place. We settled March 7th, built our dugout and in due time Pa began breaking Prairie and planting corn and I a garden. All went well and was doing fine until hoppers came. After two years the people had become so poor the government sent aid for the needy. Old clothing, food, meal, flour, meat salt, sorgum. Coffee we did not need as we had learned to brown meat, wheat, rye, & corn for coffee and it answered the purpose fine and I guess we were all the better off for drinking it. However the good old flavor of coffee would sometimes strike our imagination and make us think of home-sweet home. J.G. Porter, Jim Paxton, Newt Co[]e, Homer Grand and B. Adams went to Hays City for the aid with 5 teams. Got loaded and started for home. 40 miles pretty warm but by 10 o'clock had turned to a blizzard from the north. They had it to face and it grew worse and worse and they worried along as best they could until 3:00 in the evening when the horses refused to face the storm. They held council and some wanted to go into camp but Porter had a good team and one horse he had trained to follow him wherever he wanted him. So they concluded to pull out and J.G. lead. So they wrapped Addams up well, put him in the lead wagon and Porter walked in front of his team. The road was only a government trail still dimmed by the snow now. Hard to follow, but through good luck they struck timber and an old deserted shack where they took shelter just before dark. All partly frozen

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