The Minney Family
George & Tabitha Minney
Early USA Pioneers
During the last year I have received several history essays on Minney families in the USA. This one was written in 1953, when one of the daughters, Lucinda was still alive. She died at the age of 100 in 1955. The author is Estella Garrett of McLouth, Kansas, the daughter of Lucinda. It looks as though the five-page manuscript was typed as an English assignment at the University of Kansas. One can assume that Lucinda supplied a lot of the information and as such this document is an important first hand'account of a fascinating time for this family of pioneers.
The essay was sent by Teresa Achey who has her own MinneyIMoffit web page at myfamily.com (invite access only). I'm sure that ifyou'll e-mail her on t_achey@yahoo. com she will send you an invitation.
George P and Tabitha Minney and their three children lived in the state of Ohio in the middle of the 19th century. George Minney was a cooper and tanner by trade, and also did some farming.
It was rumoured that the land to the West was cheaper and more productive, and that there were many opportunities for those willing to brave the dangers of pioneering. Horace Greeley and other leaders of the times encouraged people to go West and grow up with the country. George Minney was ambitious, better educated than the average man, and desired a higher standard of living for the members of his family than he could give them in Ohio.
Having decided to go westward the family was busy for several days preparing for the trip. It was important that the wagons be in good condition to make the trip over the poor roads and rough trails, so the axles and wheels were repaired and made strong. Covers were made for the wagons and fastened securely to the staves to protect the family and it's belongings from the weather. The harness for the horses which pulled the wagons needed repairing as the loads would be heavy and a weak place in a tug or line might cause an accident.
In the meantime, several other families who lived neighbours to the Minneys decided to migrate westward and were preparing for the trip. It was customary for a group of families to travel together so that they might aid and protect each other. This plan not only afforded them security from the hazards of the trip, but also furnished them companionship on the long and lonely journey. Sometimes the white men were attacked by Indians, and often were held up and robbed by marauders.
After days of preparation, the company started westward, some intending to go as far west as Colorado. The group journeyed westward for several days with no unusual happenings. The Minneys, tired of travelling, stopped in the state of Illinois, while other families continued on the journey. After living in Illinois for one year, George Minney decided he would have to go farther west to find the opportunities for which he was looking.
As they entered the (next) state of Iowa, George Minney thought the situation looked promising so he stopped and found a residence for his family in Washington County. It was during their sojourn in this state, in the year 1854 that my mother, Lucinda was born. The family now was composed of George & Tabitha Minney, children John, Tom, Eliza and Lucinda.
Favourable rumours concerning the land farther West came to George, and he again loaded his family and belongings into his wagons and resumed the trek westward. There were hundreds of families migrating West in those days so he always joined a group.
As the Minneys left the state of Iowa on their final trip westward they suffered the same hardships as before. There was always fear of attack by the Indians, anxiety for the members of the family who became ill, discomfort in riding over the bumpy wagon trails, and danger in fording creeks along the way.
When they reached the Missouri River they were ferried across and landed in Kansas territory in 1855. They travelled in their wagons some fifteen or twenty miles westward and settled on a farm now owned by the John Farrel Estate, one mile West of what is now Springdale. Two years later they moved to a farm which George purchased from the government, and which is now owned by the writer.
During the weeks spent travelling from Illinois to Kansas, the Minneys had endured unforeseen hardships but were undaunted in their search for a suitable location in which to establish a suitable home. They had dreamed of a country with plenty of room for the family to branch out and to enjoy a life of opportunities, liberty and freedom. They had experienced less trouble with the Indians on their journey than they had anticipated. The large number of men in the group had discouraged the hostile Indians from making an attack.
After settling in Kansas they found the Indians reasonably agreeable and fair in their dealings. The Indians of this community were civilised and not usually harmful. They made beautiful jewellery, woven baskets and rugs, and beaded articles, which they exchanged with the settlers for food and machinery. At that time there was no medium of exchange here and all transactions were by barter.
A condition arose in the territory of Kansas that these pioneers had not anticipated. The population of Kansas had reached the number that entitles it to admission to the Union as a state. Naturally, the southern states wanted it to come in as a slave state and the northerners wanted it admitted as a free state.
Finally it was decide to let the inhabitants say whether it should be free or slave. This resulted in warfare on the Missouri border and much bloodshed in Kansas before the matter was settled.
Some pro-slavery men of the southern states came over into Kansas stuffing the ballot boxes at election time,but worst of all, killing the anti-slavery men and those who were innocent.
8In the late 1850s Kansas was called 'Bleeding Kansas' because of the bloodshed, over 200 hundred killed and a state on the verge of civil war. According to one of my American history books, over 2,000 settlers were assisted to move into the state of Kansas as a political move at this time. One wonders if this is why George and his family moved to Kansas. Kansas joined the Union as a 'Free State' in 186 1.
9it is estimated that a third of the votes were rigged.
My mother relates how her father had to hide out in the cornfield for weeks at a time, leaving his wife, Tabitha to care for the children. She not only had to provide for the needs of the children but also to deliver food to George, who was hiding out. His anxiety for his family, the howling of wolves as he tried to sleep upon the damp ground, and his constant fear of pro-slavery men, caused him great mental and physical suffering.
The pro-slavery marauders went about plundering and burning the settlers' houses, and sometimes came into the house where Tabitha Minney and the children lived, threatening them and taking food or anything which they desired. Once, they destroyed the garden and melon patch which she, with the help of the small children, had so carefully planted and tended. They tried to make her tell where her husband was hiding. Such acts of violence were irritating and aggravating, but of minor importance compared to the worry Tabitha experienced when one of the children became ill.
One day, their son John was very sick with a high fever, and Tabitha, knowing that he could not live if not given medical aid, went in search of George. When found, George Minney said, "They may shoot me if they wish. 1 shall not leave my family again."
The settlers were continually harassed by the pro-slavery men, the seasons were poor, the breaking of the sod difficult, and it was hard to make a living. For food the settlers depended greatly on wild game and wild fruit, berries being abundant. George Minney grew some sorghum cane and erected the first molasses mill ever seen in this community. Molasses was considered a luxury and was the chief source of sweetening at that time.
Having experienced so many hardships of early Kansas statehood, the Minney family became discouraged and homesick to go back to Ohio. Terrorism followed the sacking and burning of Lawrence,10 and in 1863 the Minney family decided to return to their native state in search of a more peaceable location. The return trip was made by steamboat from Leavenworth to St Louis, and then by railroad to Columbus, Ohio. They visited in Indiana and Ohio but found many of their relatives had died. Their friends had moved away, so after an absence of one year, they returned to their former home in Kansas. Their trip back East had been a little disappointing; things had quietened down somewhat in Kansas, and the Minney family came back to their old home with renewed determination to make a success of pioneering in the new state.
George Minney felt a need for the schooling of his children. There were a few subscription schools but he thought a district school supported by taxation should be organised. He met with considerable opposition in the promotion of this idea, especially from those having no children, who contended the cost would be too great. Finally, he succeeded in getting a school district laid out. A log schoolhouse with crude benches was built, and a teacher hired for a term of six months each year. My mother walked several miles across the prairies to this log schoolhouse. This was the only school she ever attended, but 1 am sure her education did not end there.
Two daughters were born11 to George and Tabitha Minney in Kansas, and the six children received their education at Brown School District. The family attended church services at Brown, Round Grove, and Wild Horse schoolhouses. The children walked several miles to Sunday school when the weather permitted.
'0According to my references, the 'sacking of Lawrence' occurred in 1856.
Someone has written a question mark in the text against this comment.
In early manhood John and Tom Minney went to Greenwood County and took claim of 160 acres of land from the government. It was required that they build a house and live on this tract of land in order to receive complete title to the same. John met the daughter of a Greenwood County farmer and they later became engaged to marry. Together they planned the new house to be built, but John had an accident that crippled him for life. While hauling logs to the sawmill to get lumber made for the house, his frightened team of horses knocked him down, dragged the loaded wagon over him, breaking his back. Little was known in those days by the doctors of Kansas about the treatment of broken vertebrae, and John never walked again without the aid of crutches. Later, John and Tom returned to Jefferson County.
In the meantime, the four daughters married farmers and established homes near McLouth. Later, Tom found employment with a railroad construction company building a road westward towards the Pacific. Returning to McLouth, he became overseer of the building of a stretch of railroad out of McLouth. The project required a great many men and scores of teams of horses and mules, as equipment for road building was not light.
John did not become discouraged or burdensome because of his handicap, but was kind, cheerful and useful citizen. He took a correspondence course in book keeping and was employed to do clerical work for others in the community. In the early days of McLouth he was one of the leading businessmen, going to and from his work in a wheelchair. He owned and operated a grocery store, and later, a coal and lumber business. 1 well remember as a child, seeing Uncle John in his wheelchair at the city scales, weighing coal, corn, hay or livestock for the inhabitants of the town and surrounding community. He gave liberally to the poor, and was loved and respected by everyone who knew him. At the time of his death he was worth several thousand dollars. While reminiscing, 1 have heard my mother say, "Brother John was the kindest man 1 ever knew".
This pioneer family suffered many hardships but were grateful for their blessings. They all lived more than "three score years and ten" except Tabitha Minney. Mrs Nancy Moffitt and my mother Mrs Lucinda Stout are still living. My mother, who has lived a very useful life, inspired the writing of this narrative. At the age of 98 she is enjoying good health and a sound mind.
Typed extracts from newspapers were attached celebrating Lucinda's 100 birthday on 15'h September 1954. She was born in Washington County, Iowa. She describes the trip her family made from Leavenworth County to a log cabin in Jefferson County when she was a small child,
"It was the first home I remember seeing" she said, "I still recall the beautiful prairie with its lovely flowers".
"This country wasn't settled at all. Of course we didn't have conveyances we have now, we just cut across the prairie"
Lucinda was married&h October 1869 and lived in Jefferson County ever since. She had six daughters.