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|
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.
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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.