Wednesday, December 26, 2012

1954 Mary Maria Miles

Mary Maria Miles
The year is perhaps 1954.

What was happening?

Dwight David Eisenhower was elected President the previous November and warned of becoming embroiled in a land war in Vietnam. The French who colonized both Vietnam and Algeria were in for a tough year.

Roger Bannister ran a mile in under 4 minutes.
Ten years later in 1964, Jim Ryan would be the first high schooler to break the 4 minute mile mark at East High in Wichita, Kansas.

The Supreme Court handed down the landmark Brown vs Topeka Board of Education decision. The Tonight Show starring Steve Allen debuted. And the comic strip Peanuts is first shown in print.

Somebody owned a 1949 - 1954 series Chevrolet truck, but the owner is unidentified. Studebaker was the leader in trucks. Unlike Chevy and Ford, the Studebaker 1949 2-R Series featured vent wings, dual windshield wipers, right and left sun visors and arm rests, a cab light that operated automatically with the door, along with dual foot-controlled ventilating air scoops.

Somebody (probably not Mary for she is not dressed for the occasion) caught a big catfish. The Kansas record is 123 pounds, but we don't know how much this one weighed.

The summer of 1954, Mary and her mother Maria made a trip to France on board the S.S. United States.  The two of them would first visit relatives in Paris, France before traveling on to Bone, Algeria to visit other relatives. Mary is rescued while swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. The Algerian revolt broke out in November of that year. Her relative who saved her from drowning is killed during the war.

Mary Miles married Robert G. Van Huss in December of 1954.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Maria and the Lapins

Lapins by Theodore de Banville

Lapins Rabbit
Les petits lapins, dans les bois,
Folâtrent sur l'herbe arrosée
Et, comme nous le vin d'Arbois,
Ils boivent la douce rosée.

Gris foncé, gris clair, soupe au lait,
Ces vagabonds, dont se dégage
Comme une odeur de serpolet,
Tiennent à peu près ce langage :

"Nous sommes les petits lapins,
Gens étrangers à l'écriture,
 Et chaussés des seuls escarpins
 Que nous a donné la nature.

Nous sommes les petits lapins.
C'est le poil qui forme nos bottes,
Et, n'ayant pas de calepins,
Nous ne prenons jamais de notes.

Et dans la bonne odeur des pins
Qu'on voit ombrageant ces clairières
Nous sommes les petits lapins
Assis sur leurs petits derrières."

Little bunnies in the woods,
Frolicking on the watered grass
And, as we the Arbois wine,
They drink the sweet dew.

Dark gray, light gray, milk soup,
These vagabonds, which emerge
Like a scent of thyme,
They take a little like this speech:

"We are the little bunnies,
Strangers to writing,
And like stockings to the shoes
That nature gave us.

We are small rabbits.
This is the hair that makes up our boots,
And, having no notebooks,
We never take notes.

And in the sweet smell of pine
Seen shading by these clearings
We are small bunnies
Sitting on their little behinds. "

The other day, Joan told the story that follows about her mother Maria and the rabbits. The poem has little to do with the story, but I thought it set the mood. But, before I tell the story of Maria and the rabbits, a little story about how Maria came to live in Kansas.

Joan and Mary's mother was Maria Llabres. She was born in 1895 in Sóller, Majorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands that lie off the southeastern coast of Spain. Maria's parents ran a small hotel whose name is lost to posterity. (A hotel, the Fonda Llabres can still be found in Sóller, but there is no known connection.)

Photos of Fonda Llabres, Alcudia

This photo of Fonda Llabres is courtesy of TripAdvisor,

Sóller is the real thing, a popular tourist destination and quaint Majorcan town near the sea, embraced by the Tramuntana mountains and surrounded by dense woods. Then, it was an out of the way seaport that exported wine, the island's main crop. The 1890's experienced a devastating disease that devastated the vineyards. Likely because of this, the family would move to Bone, French Algeria.  Maria grew up and in the early 1920's met a young oil worker from Kansas by the name of Frank Miles. They married, lived in Algeria for a couple of years. A son, Charlie, was born. But soon the young family returned to El Dorado, Kansas. Frank worked on the oil fields until he retired. In the meantime, Joan, then Mary, were born.

Joan's Story - Maria and the Rabbits.

The family of five lived on a small farm along Haverhill Road. It was four miles to Leon, the closest town. Joan and Mary grew up during the worst years of the Great Depression. Times were tough.

Living on a farm, Maria's English never became polished, and even 50 years later, when I met her for the first time she still spoke in broken English with a French word thrown in here and there.

The story that Joan told was about Maria and the rabbits, or in French lapins. Being French, Maria loved to hunt rabbits. Rabbits were a welcome addition to the dinner table. Lapin a La Cocotte - rabbit stew with a bit of bacon, some onions and parsley, bay leaves and thyme for seasoning is a tasty fair. Add a little red wine to the stew, which Maria loved and it was heavenly. To hunt rabbits Maria took her shotgun into the fields. One day Maria brought home a pair of rabbits, brown and grey, and plump, just right for a rabbit stew or a rabbit pie. Maria had brought the rabbits into the kitchen and she was preparing to skin them when there was a commotion in the front yard of the farm. An old Ford pickup truck screeched to a halt. A thick cloud of dust followed the farmer who got out of the truck and angrily went to speak with Frank. It seems that Maria in her rabbit hunt had accidentally shot through an open window of the farmer's house. The shotgun blast had come within a whisker of the crib where his infant child was peacefully sleeping.

Frank was able to eventually soothe the anger of his neighbor and send him on his way. As for Maria, she would continue to hunt her lapins, only not so close to the neighbor's house.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

History of Anderson County

I believe that William L. Webster, his wife Julia, and two or three year old daughter Martha, arrived In Garnett, Kansas from California 1857. If so, this was just after the first sacking of  Lawrence Kansas in the Spring of 1856, and at a time in Kansas history known as Bleeding Kansas.

William Webster and his family settled on a large farm, just to the north of Garnett, on modern day Highway 169. The US Census of 1860 records that it was 4,000 acres, but county land records do not reflect as large a number.

William was a Free Stater and involved in the movement to establish a Free State Constitution. From a History of Anderson County, from Its First Settlement to July 1876, by W. A. Johnson

November 16, 1857 

M. T. Williams was appointed county clerk by the board of county commissioners.

A mass meeting of the citizens of Anderson county was held in the timber near the residence of A. Simons, on the 15th of August, 1857. Wm. Puett was elected chairman, and J. G. Reese, secretary. The meeting was addressed by Dr. J. G. Blunt, who stated the object of the meeting; also, W. F. M. Arny, Dr. Rufus Gilpatrick, D. B. Jackman and William Spriggs made addresses.

A committee of nine was appointed to report candidates for county offices; also, for representatives to the Territorial Legislature, on motion of Dr. Gilpatrick; and on the adoption of this motion, Judge Arny and others withdrew from the meeting a short distance, across a ravine, and organized another meeting. Arny and his friends were opposed to the meeting doing any act that would recognize the bogus laws, or yield obedience thereto.

The committee reported the names for candidates, as follows:

Samuel Anderson, for probate judge;
G. A. Cook, for sheriff:
James Fitten, for coroner;
A. Simons, for clerk;
 Isaac Hiner, for treasurer;
William Puett, for assessor;
B. F. Ridgeway, for surveyor;
for justices of the peace, James Sutton, Samuel Mack, William Smith and Rezin Porter;
for constables, John Anderson, Oliver Rand, William H. Ambrose and Benjamin Clark.

The following persons were chosen delegates to the district convention, to be held at the house of Mr. Grant:

James Hanway, James Snodgrass, W. O. Cloud, Samuel Anderson, Dr. Thos. Lindsay, Isaac Hiner, John B. Stitt, Darius Frankenberger and W. L. Webster.

John B. Stitt was nominated as a candidate for representative to the Territorial Legislature.

The following gentlemen were appointed to confer with other county delegations of this district, in regard to the nomination of candidates for representatives: Samuel Anderson, Dr. Lindsay, D. Frankenberger, John Pryor and G. A. Cook.

January 4, 1858

A second election was held, under the act of Congress of the 17th of December, 1857, on the adoption of the Lecompton constitution. The results in Anderson County, 177 votes against and none for.

March 9, 1858

Three delegates from Anderson County were elected to a constitutional convention to frame a State constitution and State government. The delegates elected were W. F. M. Arny, William Spriggs and W. L. Webster. The convention met, on the 13th of March, 1858, at Minneola, and elected James H. Lane as president, and then adjourned to Leavenworth to reassemble on the 25th of March.

(Id. chapter 61.)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Early Kansas History

Early Kansas history impacted both the Miles and Van Huss families. William L. Webster, and his wife Julia arrived in Anderson County, Kansas near Garnett in 1857. William was great grandfather to May Miles, my wife's mother. Valentine Worley Van Huss and several of his sons arrived in Butler County, Kansas near Beaumont after the Civil War. Valentine was great grandfather to Robert Van Huss. Bob married Mary in 1954.

Kansas Territory

Kansas Territory was officially established in 1854 with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The law repealed the Missouri Compromise which prohibited slavery in unorganized territories north of  the southern boundary of Missouri, excepting Missouri itself. It left the determination whether or not slavery would be allowed to expand into newly opened territories up to popular sovereignty. The result was that Pro-slavery settlers came to Kansas from neighboring Missouri, solely to influence territorial elections in favor of slavery. Free-State settlers, "Jayhawkers", were organized and moved from the East with express purpose of making Kansas a free state. William L. Webster, born in New York, but lately from California, was one of the Free-State settlers.

Image from Territorial Kansas online

Read more about Early Kansas History.

The Land Act of 1820

To foster emigration to the west, Congress passed the Land Act of 1820. For a down payment of $100 and at a reduced the price from $1.65 to $1.25 per acre, land located in Kansas territory, then part of the Missouri Territory (the Northwest Territories were also included), was opened to settlement.

Of course, opening up and organizing Kansas territory meant the displacement of the many Indian tribes who had lived in Kansas for millennia or who had been moved by the Federal Government to Kansas territory by treaty. Both the Shawnee Reserve and the Osage Reserve figured prominently in the histories of Anderson and Butler Kansas. At the time of early settlement in Anderson county, the Sac and Fox Indian Nation was located on a reservation in nearby Franklin and Osage counties. They were officially removed to Reserve, Kansas in 1869.

William L. Webster received such a grant from President Buchanan in 1860 on the NE 1/4 of NE 1/4 of Section 15, Township 20, Range 20. He was similarly assigned an additional grant to Private John Pigg, who had served in the War of 1812, on adjoining acreage. These records can be viewed in the county courthouse in Garnett, Kansas.

Many early settlers arrived and settled in Kansas without clear title. (The family of Laura Ingalls Wilder, which settled south of Independence on the Osage Reserve, was one of these.) Some purchased their titles from the Indians. In many cases, titles would only be cleared after years of legally wrangling.

The Homestead Act of 1862 was another way settlers acquired law in Kansas. It was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862, and, under its provisions, settlers could claim 160 acres of public land.

Both William Webster and Valentine Worley Van Huss recived patents from the federal government. Webster's patent, filed in 1860 in the county courthouse in Garnett, was from President Buchanan.  One of Valentine Worley's sons received a similar grant of federal land at a later date. And, of course, many purchases were made directly form other grantors.

Read about early Kansas settlers in Kansapedia.


There are multiple records of land transfers by and to William L. Webster or his wife Julia. I would need another visit to the courthouse to try and make sense of it all.

Interestingly, in 1860, William transferred to his wife Juliette K. Webster 400 acres comprising 400 acres from sections 14 and 15 of Monroe Township (20). Juliette sold the property to Belinda Masterson the following year.

There are earlier transfers, 1858, and transfers as late as 1865, but nothing later. Nor can I reconcile yet the census statement of 4,000 acres and the actual land records.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

William L. Webster

William L. Webster is my wife's great-great-grandfather on her mother's side. Neither my wife nor anyone else in her family had ever heard of him until I found the connection.

One of William Shakespeare's most quoted passages is uttered by the chronically melancholy Jacques De Bois in As You Like It,  Act II Scene VII.
 All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, ...

William L. Webster's time on the stage of Kansas history was brief, from 1857 until sometime shortly after 1860. During that time he participated in the Free State Movement, joined in the Constitutional Convention, farmed, fathered, and survived a violent time. Then, his trail goes cold. I can not find any records of William or his family, until his daughter Fannie marries Charles Miles many years later.

William L, Webster

William L. Webster was originally from New York. The 1860 census tells us that. (Page 27, entries 7 through 12.) He was 41 years of age at the time of the census and married to Julia, who was 13 years his junior. He must have lived in California at or near the time of the California Gold Rush, for a daughter Martha was born there. In all, there were three daughters living at the time of the census, Martha, Fannie, and Josephine, ages 5, 3, and 1. (Fannie is my wife's ancestor.) The census tells us that too.

From California, we can surmise, he and his young family moved to Kansas. For in 1857, he appears in Anderson County, Kansas near Garnett. Anderson county is undulating, farmland, divided into bottom land, timber and rolling upland, bordered by the branches of Pottawatomie Creek.

The census of 1860 records that he owned 4,000 acres, although the county records can confirm only 640 acres. The exact location of his homestead is just to the north of Garnett, along Highway 169 on the way to Osawatomee. (Between roads 1900 and 2000). In the Spring of 2012, the fields are green with new wheat. The corn crop has yet to be planted. Small gatherings of cattle graze the grass. The Pottawatomie Creek runs full, and along the banks walnut, cottonwood, oak, hickory, hack-berry, elm, sycamore, and maples trees are plentiful. The presence of deer is evident today and in 1857, game would have been bountiful.

William Webster figured prominently in the settlement of Anderson County. At one time or another he was a delegate to the Free-State Convention, County Treasurer, and Supervisor of Buildings.

In 1857 or 1859, a daughter, Fannie was born, and two years later another daughter Josephine. Fannie and her two sisters would survive the Indians, the Ruffians, the sickness and disease that took far too many lives. Fannie would later marry my wife's great grandfather, Charles Dallas Miles. This Charles Dallas Miles had a son named Frank Ottley Miles. He, in turn, had three children, one of whom was Mary Miles. She married Robert Van Huss, and from this union was born by wife, Robin.

Bill, if I may call him that, I suppose his wife Julia called him by that name, fought against the Border Ruffians from Missouri who terrorized the Free-Staters. He must have been an acquaintance of John Brown, who fought against the Missourians, with whom he shared the stage. He was steadfast in his views of a Free Kansas. He was County Treasurer, delegate to the Free State Convention, farmer, father of three young girls.

And then, after the U.S. Census of 1860, he again disappears from the stage of history. There is no record of him, either before or after.

Back to Shakespeare's As You Like It. There are seven stages to this life.

          [The seven parts are listed. Read it you wish to find your stage in life.]
Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
At one time or another, I suppose we have all felt like a bit player in a stage show . So, Bill was pretty much spot on in looking at life as a progression from mewling and suckling infant to doddering fool, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything, with a moment or two center stage. I am writing this as American Idol plays in the background. Somebody is saved, to go on another day. Somebody is singing to be saved, not knowing if his day in the sun is done. "One save", if it were only so easy to keep our hopes and dreams alive.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Departures and Arrivals

Remember 1954 - Hoop skirts, Sock Hops, and Hula Hoops. Many rock fans claim Rock Around The Clock (1954) by Bill Haley And The Comets as the first rock and roll song. Gas was 22 cents a gallon and a new car cost $1,700. The average cost of a new house, just over $10,000.

It was a Summer of lasts and firsts. The last time Mary Miles was single, the last time she would travel by ship across the Atlantic, the last time she would visit relatives in Algeria. But, the same could be said for firsts, for it was also the first time Mary had done any of these things. And years later, she would come to Europe again, this time by plane, to visit her daughter, and revisit some of those experiences. On this second occasion, I was in the Army, stationed in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Mary, my wife Robin and I would take a two week trip through France, Spain, and Italy. But this story is not about that time, it is about the first and last time Mary went away from Kansas, a trip with her mother to visit relatives in Paris, France and Bonne, Algeria.

Mary kept a diary of her experiences.

July 21, 1954.

Left Union Station at 9:15 p.m. Charlie, Eleanor & the kids, Joan & Delbert, Dad & Bonnie & Velma saw us off.

In this day of airplane travel everything is rushed. But travel in the 1950's was at a slower pace. It was one of train schedules and waiting rooms, of time to read, and time to sight-see along the way.

Union Station in Wichita is still there. It is an empty relic of another time, awaiting a new life and a new use. But then, it was the center of travel. Of course there was airplane travel, but this was still the early day of the airline industry. Travel by plane was new and expensive.

The railroad was the Atchinson, Topeka, and Santa Fe, more popularly known as the Santa Fe. This amalgam of names was what was left of a thousand start up railroads, of consolidations and bankruptcies. The railroads had opened up western America to homesteaders and made possible the transportation of goods back to the more populous east coast. The name Santa Fe was a misnomer, as the train never made it that far, the tracks ending at the Kansas Colorado border.

View the Passenger Train, 1954 on Youtube.

July 22, 1954.

Arrived in Chicago, 9:00 a.m.. Had to wait 'til 3:00 p.m. to catch the N. Y. Central. Visited Marshall Fields, slept on the train all the way to NYC.

Mary and her mother Maria were traveling to France and Algeria to visit Maria's French relatives. Maria was born Maria Llabres. She was born in 1895. She and her family lived in the small village of Soller, Majorca, where her parents ran a small hotel. Later, the family moved to French Algeria where they farmed. It was in 1920 in Algeria that Maria Llabres would meet a young oilman from El Dorado by the name of Frank Ottley Miles. They were married overseas. Mary's older brother Charlie was, in fact, born in Algeria.  In 1925 the family would return to El Dorado. A daughter Joan would be born nine years after Charlie, and, one year later, Mary.

July 23, 1954

Arrived in New York City at 9:00 a.m.. Had a big day, did lots of sight-seeing. Visited the Empire State Building, Radio City, Chinatown, Wall Street, Skid-row, Saw the Rockettes in a stage show. By evening we were quite tired. Stayed at the Hotel Commodore adjacent to Grand Central Station.
Grand Central Station was and is the largest train station in the world by number of platforms - 44 with 67 tracks alongside. In 1954, the nearby Commodore Hotel was the place to stay. Named for "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, the founder of the New York Central Railroad the hotel opened its doors in 1918 and contained 2000 rooms. Called the "Most Beautiful Lobby in The World", it was the single largest room of the day with modern low ceilings and a waterfall designed by John B. Smeraldi.

By 1976, the hotel was in decline. Donald Trump bought it for 10 million dollars, restored it, and began his climb to the top.

See what Mary and Maria saw on a Tour of NYC in 1954 via Youtube.

July 24, 1954

Sailed at noon. The ship is rally big. Looked ship over, went to the movies in the evening, then to bed. Really tired.

Mary does not mention the name of the ship, but it is likely that it was one of the sailing ships for the Cunard line which traveled the Atlantic between New York and LeHarve. Today, we know the Cunard Line by the name Carnival.

The unnamed ship could have been the Saxonia, which was launched that same year in February of 1954.

Saxonia, image from Wikipedia.

To be cont'd.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fannie Webster Miles

Fannie Webster Miles born 1857 in Bleeding Kansas. Fannie would eventually grow up and marry Charles Dallas Miles.

But, before that, ... Fannie was the second daughter of William and Julia Webster, who had lived in California long enough for Fannie's older sister Martha to be born. Fannie's parents, William and Julia farmed 4,000 acres near Garnett in Anderson County, Kansas. Fannie and Martha would be joined by another sister Josephine, who was born in 1859.

What was life like for these three little girls?

Kansas in 1857 was in the midst of the Border War between Pro-Slavery advocates from Missouri and Free-State settlers. In May of 1856, a group of Border Ruffians entered the Free-State stronghold of Lawrence, burned the Free State Hotel, destroyed newspaper offices, and ransacked homes and stores. That same month, John Brown attacked at a pro-slavery settlement on Pottawatomie Creek. Brown and his group, which included four of Brown's sons, led five pro-slavery men from their homes and hacked them to death with broadswords.

In August, thousands of pro-slavery men from Missouri marched into Kansas. That same month, Brown engaged 400 pro-slavery soldiers at the "Battle of Osawatomie." Hostilities raged for another two months until Brown departed Kansas Territory.

In 1857, differing Kansas constitutional conventions were convened, with the opposing sides sparring over which was legitimate. One last outbreak of violence was touched off by the Marais des Cygnes massacre in 1858, where Border Ruffians killed five Free State men.

If border ruffians weren't bad enough, in 1860 there was a terrible drought.  No appreciable rain fell the entire Spring and Summer. Pottawatomie Creek ran dry. One family of ten survived on wild plums and the milk from one cow. In July hot winds blew from the southwest, drying the earth and opening cracks that horses and cows would step into. Half the population of the territory left.

When the 1860 U.S. Census was taken, it was recorded that 466 families and 2,398 souls remained in Anderson County. In Monroe Township, just outside the city of Garnett where the Websters farmed, approximately 240 individuals are listed.

From the 1860 U.S. Census for Anderson County, Monroe Township, Kansas, page 27.

Webster Wm. T. 41 M farmer 4,000 1,000 N.Y. REMARKS: middle initial could be "F."
(My note. Could it be William L. Webster? See a History of Anderson County, Kansas below.)
Webster Julia 28 F Mich
Webster Martha 5 F California
Webster Fanny 3 F Kansas
Webster Josephine 1 Kansas
*unkly Frank 24 M Servant 1,000 New Hamp.
Read the History of Anderson County, Kansas online.

From that history at page 72 is a description of a meeting held on the 15th of August, 1857 in the timber near the home of A. Simons. Nominated as delegates to the district convention include William L. Webster. This was part of the Free State Convention.

At page 87, it is noted that on March 9, 1858, William L. Webster and two others were nominated as delegates to the Free State Convention.

The 1870 U.S. Census for the state of Kansas, Monroe Township does not include William Webster or any Websters.


From William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas online.

February 27, 1860, was chartered the State Line, Osawatomie and Fort Union Railroad Company. The road was to commence at some point of Lykins County, and run southwesterly to the south boundary of the Territory, in the direction of Fort Union. Corporators: E. W. Robinson, John B. Schofield, A. Hunt, R. Gilpatrick, W. F. M. Arny, John T. Cox, O. E. Learnard, G. W. Nelson, J. C. Lambden, Dr. Ashmore, Thomas Lindsey, William L. Webster, Penrose Johnston and P. G. D. Morton.

From The History of Anderson County, by W. A. Johnson, online, page 81.

On the 22nd of December, 1857, W.L. Webster was appointed superintendent of public buildings in Anderson county.

The year 1859, County Treasurer, William Webster, page 149.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hattie Frances Hileman

On the sixth day of Spring, 2012, I visited, on a lark, the cemetery in Morrison, Oklahoma. There is little left of Morrison. The town has been reduced to a train stop and a bank. The farms surrounding Morrison use nearby Perry or Pawnee, Oklahoma for groceries and other needs.

Although I did not know it at the time, my wife's maternal great grandparents Charles Dallas Miles and Fannie Webster Miles are buried in the Morrison cemetery. Charles and Fannie were married in Sioux City, Iowa, homesteaded in Union County, South Dakota, and migrated to Stillwater, Oklahoma in 1900. A year later they moved to a farm near Morrison, Oklahoma.

Also buried in the Morrison cemetery is Hattie Frances (Miles) Hileman, daughter of Charles and Fannie, and sister to Frank Miles. I did find Hattie's marker, but I did not find those of Charles and Fannie.

Morrison Cemetery

From the records of Morrison Cemetery, Morrison, Oklahoma. See also, USGWARArchives.
Charles Dallas Miles, born 11 Jul 1854, died 21 Feb 1943, H. of Fannie Webster Miles Fannie, born May 1964 [sic, Note. the census records state that Fannie was one year younger than Charles, so, presumably, the date should be 1855 or 1856.], died 1935, W. of Charles
Hattie Frances Hileman, born 19 Jul 1878, died 12 Dec 1952 , wife of A. A. Hileman.

Morrison Cemetery, Noble County, Oklahoma

Hattie was the daughter of Charles and Fannie Miles. She was born in South Dakota. She appears in the Census of 1880, Union County, South Dakota. Her younger brother Frank O. Miles was born six years later in 1884.  By the time of the Census of 1900, Payne County, Oklahoma, Hattie was 22 and presumably married, as she was not living at home.

See article on Frank O. Miles.

Frank O. Miles migrated from Oklahoma to the oil fields near El Dorado around 1918. He then went off to Algeria before returning to El Dorado to raise his family. The family consisted of Charles (Charlie Jr.), who was born in Algeria, and later, two daughters Mary and Joan, who were both born in El Dorado. Mary would marry Robert Van Huss and they would have five children, the oldest of which, Robin, is my wife.

I happened to be traveling south this Spring (March 2012) and decided to take the short detour off of I-35 to Perry, Oklahoma. Perry is the county seat for Noble County and, so, is the depository for all land deeds in the county. I was hoping to get lucky and find the transfer of title to Charles Miles, father of Frank.

I didn't, but that wasn't the fault of the court records. From a History of Noble County, I found a reference to Hattie Frances Hileman, born South Dakota, daughter of Charles Miles. Her older brother was Frank O. Miles. She had married A. A. Hileman and their grandson Eugene Webb was deserving of a short bio in the History of Noble County. He was a farmer and rancher of note.

The bio quoted Hattie as relating that her grandfather lived on a ranch two miles east of Morrison, Oklahoma. The only other note was that her grandfather Charles had hand dug a well that was still in use in 1986.

I drove to Morrison. It is 15 miles due east of Perry and right off of the Tulsa Turnpike. Like so many small towns, its glory has long since faded. One mile to the east, just past the Long Branch Creek bridge is the turn off to the cemetery where Hattie is buried. I found the markers for Hattie, but did not see the markers for Charles and Fannie.

The countryside is beautiful in the Spring. The grass has sprouted green, the cattle graze outside the cemetery, and a pond shimmers in the distance. It is a good place to rest.

And, by the way, two miles east of Morrison puts you in Pawnee County. So, that is why Noble County had no land records.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Robert "Bob" Van Huss

This is the story of Robert Gene Van Huss

Bob as he is known everyone, was born in Beaumont, Kansas on January 3rd, 1929 to Fred and Beulah Van Huss.

Beaumont Wooden Water Tower
Robert, a.k.a. Bob, Van Huss is Beaumont Bob, Bobcat to his four daughters, the Baron of Beaumont to his three sons-in-law, of which I am one, and, Colonel Bob to his friends. He is the Merry Prankster, owner of  Bob's Armadillo Ranch, which is located in the front yard of his two houses in Beaumont, Kansas.

In the early 1870's, Bob's great grand father Valentine Worley Van Huss, along with his four sons, including Bob's grandfather John Finley Van Huss, settled in Glencoe and Hickory Townships of Butler County, Kansas. In addition to John Finley were his brothers - James, Daniel, and Isaac and Robert. They had all left farming life in and around Elizabethton, Tennessee after the Civil War and joined the rush of homesteaders moving to Kansas.

Bob's mother was Beulah Phillips and her father was Beaumont's first doctor, Dr. William James Phillips.
The community of Beaumont, Kansas, esteems Dr. William J. Phillips as its pioneer physician and surgeon and as a man whose capable efforts have been directed through a long period of years largely to the service of his fellow men. Doctor Phillips has gained his best recognition in a comparatively limited community, and has been well satisfied to do his work there and to merit the esteem and respect of those closest to him.
One way of saying that Dr. Phillips delivered all of the children born in the area and healed and mended those who became ill or injured. From a Standard History of Kansas and Kansans,  William E. Connelley,  Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918.The women in Bob's family would serve the community also, teaching and acting as post master.


Bob's family began its American journey in 1639. Jan and Volkje Van Husum arrived on the ship Den Harinck and settled at Beverwyck, then part of New Netherlands and part of the Renssaleur estate. The family prospered and Jan bought his own sizable estate from the Indians around 1652. Later, family members followed William Penn to Tulpenhocken, Pennsylvania. Later still family members migrated south at the same time as Daniel Boone to Rowan County, North Carolina, and, from there across the Appalachian Mountains to Fort Watauga, Tennessee. Along the way family members and relatives battled the frontier and Indians, fought on both sides during the Revolutionary War, and went with General Andy Jackson in the War of 1812.

Bob can trace his family all the way back to 1609 when his earliest known ancestor was born. Jan Fransse Van Husum and his wife Volkje Juriens were either Dutch or North Frisiians, depending on who you ask. Either way, the two lived in North Friesland, an area bordering the North Sea to the east of Holland. At that time Protestants and Catholics were embroiled in a battle for the souls of men. Martin Luther might be fine for the German principalities, but it was the Dutch Reformed Church, a more tolerant form of Protestantism that won the hearts and minds of the commercially minded Hollanders. Holland and Spain were then in the middle of Holland's War of Independence which did not end until 1648. And minor states such as Denmark and the Duchy of Schleswig exchanged villages from time to time.

Jan lived in the village of Husum, then part of Schleswig. Volkje lived on the neighboring island of Nordtrand. But the area was full of Hollanders who were then attempting to hold back the sea from the marshland that formed the coast. In 1634 a terrible flood stuck both the city of Husum and the island of Nordstrand. Husum was devastated, Nordstrand destroyed. Sixteen year old Volkje lost both her parents in the flood. She then met Jan and in 1639 they wed in the Nieuw Kirk of the Dutch Reformed Church in Amsterdam, and sailed to New Netherlands where they settled in the little village of Beverwyck on the Hudson River.

Move this to its own page.

Beaumont, Kansas

Established in 1879, Beaumont is a former whistle stop for the Frisco Railroad which, in a more exciting once-upon-a-time, ran from St. Louis, Missouri to Wichita, Kansas. Beaumont was well-situated, up the steep climb from Fredonia into the Flint Hills and located between the beginnings of the Little Walnut and Otter Creeks.

Seven trains a day once ran through Beaumont, drinking up the 25,000 gallons of water held by the Beaumont wooden water tower. A roundhouse was built in 1890 and grocery stores, general stores and businesses thrived.  In its heyday, the Frisco employed 90 people to service the six engines maintained at the round house.

The tracks for the Frisco Railroad were laid down upon an earlier stagecoach line. Travelers stayed at the Beaumont Hotel. This route itself was the path of an even more ancient trail used by the Osage Indians on their biennial trip to buffalo hunting grounds. The railroad line and the tracks that served it are gone now, but there still stands in Beaumont the historic water tower that greeted the trains on their long uphill climb from Missouri into the Flint Hills of Kansas.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Josie Brewer Van Huss - Coming to Kansas

John Finley VanHuss and Josie Brewer VanHuss, Latham cemetery
Revise this article.

Josie (Josephine) Brewer and her family came to Kansas from Allentown, Missouri by wagon before the turn of the century. They would settle in Hickory Township, Butler County, south of Beaumont. Like most settlers, they farmed the prairie. The family farm was next to that of Valentine Worley Van Huss, who had come from Tennessee about the same time. Josie would marry Valentine's son, John Finley Van Huss.  John Finley Van Huss is the father of Fred and grandfather of Robert Van Huss.

Josie is buried in the Latham cemetery alongside her husband John Finley VanHuss.

Josie's parents, James Madison Brewer and Margaret Faubion Brewer are buried in nearby Brownlow cemetery. Brewer family history.

[The Brewer name and their descendents can still be found in and around Beaumont and the city of Leon, Kansas.]

There are no records to tell us about the trip from Allentown to Butler County. Then, the trip was by covered wagon drawn by a team of horses.

Move the following section to the article on Valentine Worley Van Huss.

Valentine Worley Van Huss

The three US Censuses taken between 1870 and 1900 document the migration of Valentine Worley Van Huss and his five sons from Tennessee to Kansas.

I am looking for the 1870 US Census. Adam found the 1880 Johnson County, Kansas census record and the later 1900 Census for Rockford Township, Sedgwick County, Kansas. What is missing is the 1890 US Census which was destroyed in a fire. Also missing are the 1900 census records recording brothers James, Daniel, Isaac, and Robert, who all lived on farms around the city of Beaumont in Butler County.


In 1880, Republican James A. Garfield of Ohio was elected President of the United States, defeating the Democrat, William Scott Hancock of Pennsylvania. Garfield captured a whopping 214 of the 369 electoral votes cast, despite winning the popular vote by the slimmest of margins - 2000 votes.

The population of the United States tops 50,000,000 of whom 6.6 million are foreign born. Kansas was experiencing the last year of an 8-year-long drought that began in 1873. Kansas Dust Storms. The city of Wichita had been founded 10 years earlier, and it was still a destination for cattle driven up the Chisholm Trail. Most homesteads in eastern Kansas have been staked out and claimed and Oklahoma is next.

Sometime prior to 1880, Valentine Worley Van Huss and his youngest son John Finley had left Tennessee and arrived in Aubrey Township in Johnson County, Kansas. Johnson County, today, is the richest county in Kansas and site to modern day Overland Park. The two Van Husses were then working on separate farms as laborers.

If you are trying to keep track of who is who, Valentine Worley Van Huss is great grandfather to Bob Van Huss, John Finley Van Huss is Bob's grandfather, John's son Fred was father to Bob. Bob's second daughter Robin is my wife. Valentine Worley Van Huss was 63 years old when he arrived in Kansas. He, like all of his children, had been born in Tennessee in Carter County, near Elizabethton, in the approach to the eastern hills of the Appalachian Mountains. John Finley Van Huss, when he arrived in Kansas, was 20 and single.

1880 US Census, Aubrey Township Johnson County, Kansas 

The year 1880 finds 63 year-old Valentine Worley Van Huss, living on the farm of Samuel Slusher. His daughter Susan has married Samuel, and there are two grandchildren, John H. and Della May, ages 5 and 3. Valentine's occupation is listed as a carpenter.

On the adjacent farm of James W. Shouce lives 20 year-old John Finley Van Huss, working as a hired man. If you look on the map of Aubrey Township along the border with Cass County, Missouri, little more than half way down, you will find the farms of J. M Shuse and Samuel Slusher, where Valentine and his son John Finley were then living.

To get to both farms today, head south from Overland Park along Metcalf Avenue and onto Highway 169. Go south of Stilwell and you are in the area.


In the year 1900 William McKinley would be elected President, but he would be assasinated the following year and succeeded by Theodore Roosevelt. In the first census of the 20th century, it was revealed that the population of the United States rose to 76,212,168, a 21% increase since 1890, an increase by half since 1880. Wichita days as a cattle town had died, and Carrie Nation was on the warpath, demolishing 25 saloons in the town of Medicine Lodge, near Wichita, a part of the national Temperance Movement to forbid the consumption of alcohol. There were 8000 automobiles for the 10 miles of paved roads. The average worker could expect to earn $13 a week, up from the dollar-a-day of cattle driving days.

1900 US Census, Hickory Township, Butler County, Kansas

By 1900, both father and son had left Johnson County. The father Valentine followed his other sons James, Isaac, Daniel and Robert who settled in Butler County on different farms. I am still working on the land records and hope to have them up soon.

By the 1900 Census, John Finley Van Huss appears on a  Kansas census, but this is another story I am still writing.


What follows is information for me.

An Abbreviated History of Johnson County, Kansas

With few exception, Kansas was not open to settlement by whites prior to 1854. Kansas was Indian Territory, home to the Pawnee, Sioux, Osage, and Commanche, and the many eastern tribes forceably resettled to Kansas including the Shawnee and Wyandott.

Weather in Kansas has always been a hit or miss proposition. Ask any farmer. It is a cycle of rain and drought, mixed with extreme and mild temperatures. Early settlers often found in the early years heavy snowfalls and plunging temperatures that froze the Kansas (Kaw) River. The wooly Buffalo was dressed well for the icy cold. The summers were hot and dry with little rain from spring until fall. The extremes of temperature and rain made grass the dominant vegetation except along the creek beds where forests took root. Along the creek beds where the light shone through were fields of painfully stinging and nettle. Heading west from the Missouri border and away form the river valleys, the dense forests are replaced with isolated Cottonwood trees whose deep roots and thick bark allowed them to survive when the gulleys and creeks run dry in the summer or the prairie fires rage.

The tall grass for which the Kansas prairies are famous was thick and high. The story is often told of an Indian standing on the back of his pony to make his way through the endless stretches of grass. The grass then abounded with the green headed fly and deer tick which made horse back travel uncomfortable if not impossible.

One can still experience a taste of this unpleasantry by heading to the Shawnee Mission Park and to the Arboretum, both of which are in Johnson County. In the park there is a stand of thick grass below and to the north of the lake that the deer roam freely through. After my walk with the dogs, I and the dogs were covered in ticks. I could remove them, the deer were not so lucky and I imagine suffer greatly from these pests. Another time on a walk with my ten-year-old son through the Arboretum, we took a short cut through a field that turned out to be nettles. I hoisted him on my shoulders and walked painfully, clad only in shorts.

Johnson County was named for the Reverend Thomas Johnson, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, came out to Kansas Territory in 1829 to teach and proselytize among the Shawnee and Wyandott. In 1839 he secured a grant of 2239 acres south of Westport and opened a manual labor school for Indian boys and girls. The buildings he erected are still there today along Shawnee Mission Parkway, just before arriving at the famous Kansas City Plaza.

The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 opened Kansas territory to a floodgate of settlers, even though the land was still owned, at least in legal title, by the Shawnee tribe in common in the north and the Osage tribe in the south. Claims were marked by building a rough shanty, or if time did not allow, by laying down four hewn tree poles and defending the claim against all comers.

The succeeding decade concerned the struggle between pro and anti slavery factions and the Civil War which settled the issue. Characters like John Brown and William Quantrel, organized and disorganized groups such as the Jayhawkers, Bushwhackers, and Border Ruffians would color the history of Kansas during this time.

Eventually peace was restored and Kansans went about building their farms, schools, and towns, along with the political structure to bring law and order to the state. By 1872, the US Congress saw fit to open other lands in Kansas to homesteaders. Economically, Kansas faired relatively well. The yield of corn increased, but it was accompanied by a dramatic drop in price that caused many farmers to loose their farms when they could not make the mortgage payments. Cheaper lands newly vacated by the Osage in southeastern Kansas became available.

See the entire 1874 Atlas map of Johnson County, online, along with a history of Johnson County.

Valentine Worley and John Finley Van Huss

What happens 20 years later?


Before Kansas - Tennessee and Before

Sometime after the end of the Civil War, Valentine and John, father and son, sold their farms in Carter County, Tennessee and headed west to Kansas. The pieces to the puzzle showing the date and the route are missing from the puzzle.**

Valentine Worley Van Huss' father Mathias was born in Virginia, but grew up in Tennessee. He joined General Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812 and then married Elizabeth Worley. Valentine's mother died soon after his birth and father Mathias remarried to Lovina Dugger, who raised him as her own son. Mathias' father Valentine Felty Vanhooser, Jr. came to Tennessee from Virginia and North Carolina in 1795. Valentine Felty Vanhooser and his father, who both had the same name, followed the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail, first to North Carolina, then up into western Virginia, and then over the Appalachian Mountains following the Watauga River to Fort Watauga, present day Elizaberthton, Carter County, Tennessee. The elder Valentine Felty Vanhooser chose the British side during the Revolutionary War, possibly because he had joined Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of North Carolina, in battling Shawnee and Mingo Indian tribes across the Appalachian Mountains in the 1774.

(Note. I am trying to keep the spelling of the names as each family member used it at the time. Spellings were not always consistent.)

The Van Hoesen family had earlier come from the Quaker communities of Tulpenhocken, Pennsylvania and before that from the Hudson River village of Beverwyck, New Amsterdam, where the first Van Huss - Jan Fransse Van Husum arrived in 1639 along with his wife Volkje Juriens.

Dutch or Frisiian - North Friesland

Jan and Volkje were either Dutch or North Frisians depending on how one looks at it. The couple, almost ten years apart in age, were thrown together by the terrible flood of 1634.  The flood struck the islands of North Friesland and the peninsula of Jutland. It cme during the night of October 11 and 12th, destroyed the island of Nordstrand where Volkje lived with her parents and sister, and devastated the city of Husum, just inland, where Jan Frans lived. Jan was then 25 and she was 16.

A Little Background

Generally, I spell the last name Van Huss, but it wasn't always so. Often the name was spelled in records as Van Hoesen, Vanhooser, Van Husum, and a host of other minor variations. Today, family genealogies continue this variation in spelling, but with the common ancestor always going back to Jan Fransse Van Husum from the city of Husum in Schleswig, now a part of northern Germany.

* There are earlier records showing land purchases in Butler County by Van Huss family members. The earliest dates to 1868, recording J. W. Van Hoesen's purchase of 320 acres just north of Beaumont, Glencoe Township, Kansas from Adam Hageman and his wife for the sum of $1,000. (Revise this.) Additionally, there are several brothers James, Isaac and Daniel who all settled in Butler County. But, we will come back to this later.

** I imagine they traveled through Tennessee along the route which is now known as the Trail of Tears Highway, Route 60. This route also crosses southern Missouri before going south to Oklahoma. I travel this route when going to Highpoint, North Carolina. My trip is, of course, with the comfort of car and along paved roads. The Cherokee who traveled this route in 1838 did it in winter with few provisions and at the cost of thousands of lives. The story of the trail as told by the Cherokee.

See an overview of the Trail of Tears and other historic trails by the National Park Service.