I have written several articles about Dennis Stone and his family over the years but have recently received an envelope of gold from Kansas. Through a mutual friend, Gary Anderson, who just happens to be a Bryan family descendent, I have received an exciting document of newspaper articles and stories about Dennis’ son LeGrand who, with 200 New Haven citizens, founded Connecticut colonies in Kansas. Below are excerpts from the documents compiled by Steve Richardson and the Cawker City Hesperian Historical Society.
During the spring of 1870, the New Haven, CT colony for Kansas was fully organized. It extended into New York and Pennsylvania, advertising largely. More than 200 families entered into agreement to immigrate to Kansas, encouraged with cheap rated fare by N.Y. and Erie Railway Co. of about $32.50 from N.Y. City to Solomon City, Kansas, 1st class with 200 lbs. baggage each. Messrs. L. Grand Stone was President. The following are articles from various newspapers carrying the story of the colonization by CT into Kansas.
October 8 1870. The Hartford Courant: The New Haven Kansas Colony leaves for the West via the Erie Railway in two divisions, the first going October 25th and the second November 8th.
November 22, 1870. The Hartford Courant: From fifty to seventy-five persons of the New Haven Kansas Colony are now on the Solomon River. Game is very plentiful and things look hopeful for the winter. The location is spoken of as very beautiful.
March 18 1871. The Solomon Valley Pioneer: The Families Arrive. It was noticed that a most respectable class of people have arrived who will carry intelligence, refinement and education into the very wilderness as many of them were going up above the forks of the Solomon River to settle, being part of the New Haven colony from Connecticut.
June 10 1871. The Hartford Courant: William Clift, Jr. formerly of Mystic gives encouraging reports after a two-month residence denying the story recently circulated that a general return movement was about to begin. He says, “We all have fine farms of rolling prairie land with good running water and timber on them and have about twelve acres broken up and planted. Our gardens are looking finely and field corn just coming up promises a good crop. Everything bids fair for a good season for all kinds of crops.”
The following is another excerpt from an accounting of the settlement of Twelve Mile. The story of Twelve Mile Creek properly begins in far away New Haven, Conn. It was in the year of 1870 and early spring of ’71 that a number of men in and near New Haven organized a company to promote a colony in Kansas. One of the men prominent in the company and for a while secretary of it was Mr. Halstatt, another was L. G. Stone who still resides here. The company was composed largely of soldiers who had not become settled since the war and desired broader opportunities than the east could afford them. After a great deal of delay and correspondence, a company of representative men was organized and equipped for an expedition into what their friends called the Great American Desert.
The colony left New Haven early in April in ’71 and after an uneventful journey, arrived at Solomon City, Kansas that being the nearest point on the railroad to their final destination. Here their experience in frontier life began. Those who had sufficient means proceeded at once to purchase the necessary teams and equipment for the trip and for use in the settlement when it should be reached, while those who were not so fortunate organized a stock company of $25 shares each taking as many shares as he desired until enough was subscribed to purchase the teams and wagons necessary to carry the colonists and their effects to their new homes.
This done, they agreed to stay together until they should reach their destination, partly for mutual protection against the Indians and partly that all should have equal chance to secure desirable claims when they should come to settle, for none imagined they could possibly live unless they should secure a claim that furnished wood and water. They began to hear rumors of Indians and travelers returning from the west told the same story. “It’s all right here, but there’s nothing but Injuns further west. Some of the members grew impatient and the slow progress being made and two of them, an English captain and another man sped off into the distance and with a mule team outdrove the rest and before nightfall, were out of sight.
The next day while eating dinner, the captain retuned, driving hurriedly into camps from the west. Then they questioned him as to why he was retuning he declared that “E and’t lost no Injuns and e wasn’t going to unt hanny.” He told them that the country father west was full of Indians and that he had seen two Indians that morning and didn’t want to see anymore. With that explanation he hurried on once more and afterwards it was learned that he never stopped until he returned to Connecticut!
Arriving at Twelve Mile Creek was uneventful and they set out to lay out a settlement. Among the tasks was the cutting of the longest, straightest pole to be found which was put up for a flag and was observed with true military style – colors flying and the regulation sunrise and sunset guns. (It can be noted here that during the Civil War, it was customary to pay $300 to remain out of service, as money was as important as manpower. LeGrand’s father did indeed pay the customary amount since his son was needed on his farm which is now the Stone-Otis House). A suitable shelter was built and covered with a dirt roof and that night all slept indoors. During the work on the house, the weather had been fine and warm and sleeping outdoors was no hardship but the evening the house was completed, the weather became threatening and when they arose in the morning, a terrific storm was raging. This storm of snow and sleet lasted for three days and had they been obliged to camp out, they must have suffered greatly. It was afterward ascertained that several people less fortunate than themselves did perish in that storm.
As soon as the storm was over, all became interested in securing claims. When the shuffle for claims was over, the colonists were lined up with LeGrand Stone having the plot farthest south. There was some dissatisfaction, some claiming that things had been misrepresented and Mr. Halstatt, secretary, became discouraged and retuned to Connecticut. Most of them, however, had come to stay and when the snow melted and spring opened up, they took on fresh courage and determination. Most of the colonists had been used to street numbers and limited acres and when they got out here, the large stretches of prairie and jumble of bluffs and ravines with no pronounced landmarks confused them so that it was difficult for them to keep their bearings and the only way for them to be sure of getting from one cabin to another was to follow the creek and more than one of them was obliged to spend the night on the prairie not being able to make his way to his cabin.
The following is a partial list of members from New Haven: LeGrand Stone, president, wife Emily, children Edward, Ella and Caroline. Mr. Halstatt, secretary, H.P Hubbard, J.W. Judd, Robert Adams, wife Anne Jane, children George and Helen, William Shepherd Angell, wife Sarah, child Charles, Rev. George Balcom, wife and 3 children, John Burns, W.H. Churchill, Will Clift, Joseph Gledhill, wife Elizabeth, children Alfred and Amy, Arthur Gledhill, John Latham.
Stone-Otis House, Orange, CT
LeGrand Stone Emily Stone