This is an except of a chapter from "Story of The Old Home Town" Jewell City, Kansas by my grandfather, Everett Palmer. As published in the Jewell County Republican in 28 weekly installments beginning April 28, 1933
The new town of Ionia is at present attraction more attention than any other point in Jewell County. It is beautifully located on the east branch of Limestone Creek, 14 miles southwest of Jewell Centre, (later the name Jewell Centre was changed to Mankato) and 26 miles east of Smith Centre. Its location is one of the most delightful in the county, and being surrounded by one of the finest agricultural regions in the state of Kansas and the best grazing country west of the Missouri, Its success, as a town, is only a question of time.
Steam Saw Mill
It now has a stream saw mill capable of cutting 6,000 feet of lumber per day, which is owned by Messrs, Donald, Gould, Goram & Co. To this a grist mill is to be attached to be in running order by the coming harvest. The saw mill, commenced running July 3, 1875, and has been doing good business ever since. In this connection it may not be amiss to add that the entire surrounding country is well supplied with the finest lumber to be found in Northwestern Kansas.
The First House
The first house built on the new townsite, was erected Jan. 1, 1876. There are now five houses completed and ten more in course of construction., which will be completed with out delay.
The proprietors of he town are A.N. Cole, the first homesteader of Jewell County and the mill company above mentioned. The date of Mr Cole's homestead is May 19, 1869. The old town of Ionia was one half mile west of the present site, but the present site being more desirable on account of wood, water and beauty of location, it was changed last fall, and the entire business is now centering at the new town. Mr A. Reimenschneider, will lay out another 40 acres as soon as he makes final proof on his land. In addition to the new mill there is new a blacksmith shop conducted by John Moore, who is said to be one of the finest workmen in Jewell County. There is also a wagon shop run by Messrs. Shelden & Snyder, assisted by J. P. Skidmore, all of whom are first-class mechanics and thoroughly understand their business.
In addition to all these they have in prospect a broom factory, cheese factory and furniture shop. And although the country is distressingly healthy, there is a fine opening here for a physician, which want will soon be supplied. We don't like to say what business a physician would have here, but all those who remember Gov. Harvey's admonition to his constituents, to multiply and replenish the state and the fidelity with which the aforesaid constituents have followed his advice, will readily understand it.
The broom factory will be carried on by Wesley Whitehead and the furniture shop by Messrs. Shelden, Snyder & Cole. It is not yet decided who will conduct the cheese factory.
A shingle machine, owned an conducted by Messrs. Morse, Cole & Loomis is already in operation and is turning out some good work.
The morals of the town and vicinity are well cared for, and the society is most excellent. Sunday schools, district schools and churches are well patronized. The proprietors of the town are laboring with great zeal to make it a manufacturing point in which they are being cordially and ably assisted by the people of the surrounding county. Parties looking for desirable homes and a good business location would do well to give Ionia a call before location elsewhere. From the Jewell County Diamond April 8, 1876.
There were two sides to pioneer life in Kansas.
One picture might be truly drawn of the inconveniences, hardships, and strife with Indians. The pioneer had no railways, good roads, telegraph, telephone, rural mail service, or handy markets. A trip for mail or provisions had to be carefully planned. Storms often caught settlers out of necessities. Teams and farming implements were at a premium. Many a settler has been known to select a less desirable claim in order that he might be near some relatives who had a team or farming implements which he could use. A broken implement might cause days of delay and many miles of slow travel.
When the prairies were unbroken, making a perfect watershed, the Kansas streams ran much more swiftly than they do today. Creek crossings were dangerous. Bridges were scarce and inadequate. Many a load of valuable provisions has been lost at difficult fords. Teams and lives were also lost. There was considerable sickness in the pioneer homes. Fatal epidemics might take several children from a home. Snake bite was no trifling matter. Many women suffered all the terrible feelings of home sickness in the lonely, primitive prairie homes away from relatives and friends.
One pioneer Jewell County woman wrote her father in Pennsylvania. "If you want to see me again , please send money for railway fare. The don't trust for coffins into this country."
Another picture equally true might be painted of the pleasures of pioneer life.
Spelling schools, singing schools, parties, home dramatics, debating, political gatherings, school entertainments, church services, revival meetings, dances, traveling shows, hunting, and fishing parties, skating, quilting and husking bees, housewarmings, horse racing and camp meetings all had their appeal to various types of pioneers.
Everyone believed in the "future" of the country. In the little pioneer weeklies such phrases as "largest west of Chicago", "stupendous business", and "the Garden Spot of Kansas", were mild descriptive terms.
Pioneer times were days of real hospitality. Few travelers but were welcomed into the prairie homes. No food supply was too meager to share with the wayfarers. Ten to 15 people often slept under one small roof. The "buckboard" was the pleasure carriage of that day. It had four light wheels and was built like a greyhound, with seat over the front wheels and a long, slat-like floor reaching far behind. It was light and strong and required no paved or graveled roads. The rear part was for luggage. It was much used by mail carriers and was about the only light wagon of the pioneers.
If Kansas had stuck to her buckboard there would be fewer debts now. And no tourneying car ever brought more happiness than a new buckboard to those who could afford one. Pioneers felt themselves on an equality and society had not yet been cast into cliques, and clubs. As values of land and crops increased, the pleasures of pioneer life balanced the privations of the new country.
Rottlady's Note:This is the included in a series I'm posting. You can find the rest by clicking on the link "the story of the old home town".