Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Front Row Seat to History

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

This post continues the story of Charles Schaefer of Sedgwick, Ks


This past Monday, we celebrated President's Day.  Most of us will  never have the chance to meet the President of the United States, but one Kansan did.  In later years, Schaefer  recalled his experiences as a  soldier in the capitol during which time he met President Lincoln.

In his handwritten notebook of remembrances, Schaefer related his impressions of President Abraham Lincoln.
"A very queer man. . . Personally there was much good about him which was alright in civil life, but in war was not good.*  I met him face to face between the White House and Treasurery Building, stood at attentions and saluted as was proper.  He certainly was the homeliest man I ever saw; stove pipe hat, big clothing that did not fit.  But I gave him a square good look in the eyes and I do not believe I ever saw a kinder and sympathetic [person].  I rather pity him, he looked so lonesome and sorrowful. . . Of course, I saw him several times at Grand Reviews."
In this faded clipping from an undated Wichita Eagle, Schaefer recalled an incident from the close of the Civil War related to the assassination of President Lincoln.
Newspaper clipping in the Schaefer Scrapbook
Sedgwick Historical Society
Sedgwick, Ks
Schaefer was regimental quartermaster sergeant of the Third United States Infantry and he had been ordered   to Washington D.C. at the close of the war.  He was given rooms in the federal penitentiary while he worked to return supplies.  It was during this time that he made the acquaintance of several sailors and they had a tale to tell him.  He was pledged to the utmost secrecy and was told of the mysterious activities that the sailors had completed under orders.  
"Eight sailors of the U.S. nave detailed to have charge of a boat kept in readiness for the governments use. . . . One night they had been called upon to take their boat and row upstream til they found a ship on the other side of the Potomac. . . . When the drew alongside the ship, they were stopped and a box, casket-shaped, was lowered into their boat and they were ordered to return to shore."
Schaefer continued to describe how the sailors were blindfolded and "marched around until they did not have the least idea where they were." The blindfolds were removed and they found themselves in a "large barren room with flagstone floor."  The sailors were then ordered to remove the flagstone and dig a specific sized hole. The specifications they "noticed were the size of a grave. . . . they were ordered to place the box" from their boat in the hole.  Next, they were to "replace the stone and remove all traces of the night's work."  Once returned to their boat they were "dismissed with the order to keep their mouths shut."
The men were sure that they recognized the room as one in the Old Penitentiary and they were convinced that the body was that of John Wilkes Booth.

Schaefer concluded his story by noting:
"I promised I would not repeat the information since they were under orders to keep still. I kept my word until this long distant date when telling can do no harm." 

When I first read this story in the Schaefer Scrapbook I thought it was a 'tall tale', but a bit of research supported much of what Schaefer described.  Booth was shot through the neck by Sergeant Boston Corbett on the porch of Richard Garrett's house near Port Royal, Virginia, where he died.  The body was sewn up in a horse blanket and taken to Belle Plain where it was hoisted upon the deck of steamer John S Ide.  

The body was delivered to the Montauk where an autopsy was performed April 27, 1865.  Booth was identified by several people who had known him well, including Dr. John Frederick May.  Dr. May had recently removed a large fibroid tumor from Booth's neck and the scar was still visible on the body. Booth's dentist also positively identified the body.

The Secretary of War Edwin Stanton ordered the body to be buried in the Old Penitentiary on the Washington Arsenal grounds - exactly where Shaefer was staying in 1865. This was accomplished. 


John Wilkes Booth's Autopsyhttp://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln83.html

In 1869, the body was exhumed and positively identified and returned to the Booth family.  Booth was buried in an unmarked grave in the family plot in Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore on June 26, 1869.

Sources


For information on the mystery and legend that surrounds Booth's body visit: http://www.historybuff.com/library/refbooth.html

*Schaefer had some very strong opinions about the dismissal of Union General McClellan.  He noted that the General, known as " 'Little Mac' . .  was too much the loyal soldier."

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

"A Good English Name"


By Kristine Schmucker, Curator

This is the third in our series featuring the Rickman/Anderson/Clark families who settled in Harvey County in 1871.

Mary Ruth Martinsdale Rickman
Photo Courtesy Jullian Wall
Englishwoman, Mary Martinsdale arrived in Newton  to answer an advertisement for a mail-order-bride placed by Patrick Rickman of Newton, Kansas.  Much to her surprise, her future husband was black. She had answered the ad because "Rickman was a good English name, but now that she was here he was stuck with her." 
("On Equal Ground"  by Judy Burks, Newton Kansan, 125th Anniversary, Section B)

They wasted no time. Mary and Patrick were married March 17, 1911. 

Mary was born on a farm near Liverpool, England on October 22, 1872.  She had come to the United States at the age of 14 "to work for a family." Not much else is known of her life prior to coming to Kansas. In the spring of 1911, at the age of 39 she traveled to Newton, Kansas to meet her future husband.

Patrick Rickman  was a well-known and respected craftsman in Harvey County.  Born in White County, Tennessee on July 31, 1857, Pat came to Harvey County in 1879.  Here, he joined his father, Joseph Rickman, and aunt, Mary Rickman Anderson Grant.  He learned the trade of brick mason.

In 1882, he married Amanda Burdine and they had four children; Angus and Guy, who died young, and Hazel and Lloyd who lived to adulthood.  Pat and Amanda divorced in the fall of 1899.
Patrick Rickman
Photo courtesy Jullian Wall
At the time of his death, Pat Rickman was "one of the best known workmen in this section, as well as one of the most dependable, respected workman.  Many a building  stands today as a monument to his skill and industry." (Evening Kansan Republican, 25 August 1926, p. 2.)

His daughter, Hazel, later recalled the times she brought lunch to her father (Pat) while he was working on the foundation of Bethel College Administration building.  According to family tradition, Patrick Rickman was the head of the construction company that employed several members of the larger Rickman/Anderson family.This company worked on the foundation of the building for the new Mennonite college.*

Ad Building
Bethel College Administration Building
1888-1893*
After the death of Patrick, his wife Mary, "worked as a private nurse having in her care, until their death, several of Newton's widely known and highly respected citizens."  In her obituary, Mary was described as "kind and loving, patriotic and charitable." She was survived by her step-children, Lloyd Rickman and Hazel Rickman Rossiter. Services for Mary were held at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Newton.  The pallbearers were  members of her adopted American family, the Rickmans, Andersons, and Rossiters. (Evening Kansan Republican, 12 Aug. 1943, p. 2.)

During the month of  February, in honor of  Black History Month, we will be featuring related stories from Harvey County. Much of the information on the Rickman/Anderson/Grant family is based on oral traditions preserved by Marguerite Rickman Huffman & June Rossiter Thaw and research by Karen Wall.  We are grateful for their willingness to share the stories of this Harvey County family. 


For the first installment which features Mary Rickman Anderson Grant see: http://harveycountyvoices.blogspot.com/2013/01/an-ordinary-amazing-woman-mary-rickman.html.  For the second installment that features her brother, Joseph Rickamn, see: http://harveycountyvoices.blogspot.com/2013/02/stone-mason-joe-rickman.html

*No records have been found that identify who constructed the first half or foundation of the Ad Building. "On Equal Ground"  by Judy Burks, Newton Kansan, 125th Anniversary, Section B
Sources: 
  • Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives Marriage Certificate - March 17, 1911
  • Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives City Directories 1885-1926
  • Evening Kansan Republican, 25 August 1926, p. 2.
  • Evening Kansan Republican, 28 August 1926, p. 2.
  • Evening Kansan Republican, 12 Aug. 1943, p. 2.
  • "On Equal Ground"  by Judy Burks, Newton Kansan, 125th Anniversary, Section B

To view the complete inventory of Marriage Certificates at the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives, visit http://hchm.org/ and click on the 'Research Library' tab.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Stone Mason - Joe Rickman

by Kristine Schmucker, Curator

This is the second in our series featuring the Rickman/Anderson/Clark/McWorter families who settled in Harvey County in 1871. For the first installment which features Mary Rickman Anderson Grant see: http://harveycountyvoices.blogspot.com/2013/01/an-ordinary-amazing-woman-mary-rickman.html

Not as much is known about Mary Rickman Anderson Grant's eldest son, Joseph C. Rickman.

Joseph C. Rickman
Photo Courtesy Jullian Wall
Joseph Rickman was twenty-one years old when he came to Kansas with his mother, Mary Rickman Anderson, to homestead alongside his stepfather, David, sisters; America, Lucy and Tennessee, and brothers; Wayman, Jefferson, and Nathaniel.

Rickman Anderson Brothers
A few years later, Joe returned to Tennessee for a brief time.  On October 26, 1874, he married Lucinda Paige.  The newlyweds returned to Harvey County and Joe farmed.  They had five children, the three girls Linnie, Estelle and Alta died very young and were buried on the Rickman homestead.  Only the two boys, Clarence (b. 1884) and Ocran (b. 1889) lived to adulthood.  

Lucinda Paige Rickman
Photo courtesy Jullian Wall
Joe and Lucinda had moved to Newton by 1885. The family was living at 424 w 5th and  Joe was working as a laborer.  Two years later, Joe is listed as a stone mason.  According to family tradition, he helped to build the Warkentin Mill (today known as the Old Mill), Newton and the Administration Building on the Bethel College Campus, North Newton. It is not known what other buildings Joe might have worked on over the span of his career.  He also could have been part of the crew, along with nephew Pat Rickman that  laid the bricks for Newton's streets. 

Warkentin Mill & Train Yards at Main & Third,
Newton, Ks, ca. 1915 
By 1905 the family had moved to 114 W 4th Newton. Joseph C. "Joe" Rickman died in May 1918 at the age of 68.  Lucinda lived at 114 W 4th until her death in 1931 at the age of 76.  

Clarence, son of Joe C. and Lucinda Rickman, owned and operated a "recreation parlor" located at 114 W 4th, Newton for a number of years, possibly from 1911 - 1913.  Clarence was married to Jessie J. Greenboam, a native of London, England, on June 13, 1917.  

Ocran,  served in World War I.  At the time of his death in 1955, he was living in Omaha, Nebraska.


During the month of  February, in honor of  Black History Month, we will be featuring related stories from Harvey County. Much of the information on the Rickman/Anderson/Grant family is based on oral traditions preserved by Marguerite Rickman Huffman & June Rossiter Thaw and research by Karen Wall.  We are grateful for their willingness to share the stories of this Harvey County family. 

Sources

  • Newton City Directories, 1885, 1887, 1902, 1905, 1911, 1913, 1918. Harvey county Historical Museum & Archives, Newton, Ks
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