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.

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