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Personal Reminiscences

By Mrs. Thyrza Reavis Roy Written ca 1891 for DAR

In March, 1865, my husband, George Roy, and I started from our home in Avon, Illinois, to Nebraska territory. The railroad extended to St. Joseph, Missouri. There they told us we would have to take a steamboat up the Missouri river to Rulo, forty miles from St. Joseph. We took passage on a small steamboat, but the ice was breaking up and the boat ran only four miles up the river. They said it was too dangerous to go farther so told us we would have to go back or land and get someone to drive us to Ruolo, or the Missouri side of the river across from Rulo. We decided to land, and hired a man to drive us across country in an old wagon. It was very cold when we reached the place where we would have to cross the Missouri, the ice was running in immense blocks. It was sunset, we were forty miles from a house on that side of the river. There was a man on the other side of the river in a small skiff. Mr. Ray waved to him and he crossed and took us in. Every moment it seemed those cakes of ice would crush the little skiff, but the man was an expert dodger and after a perilous ride he let us off at Rulo. By that time it was dark. We went to a roughly boarded up shanty they called a tavern. It snowed that night and the snow beat in on our bed. The next morning we hired a man to take us to Falls City, ten miles from Rulo. Falls City was a hamlet of scarcely three hundred souls. There was a log cabin on the square; one tiny schoolhouse, used for school, Sunday school, and church. As far as the ey could reach, it was virgin prairie.

There was very little rain for two years after we came. All provisions, grain, and lumber were shipped on boats to Rulo. There was only an Indian trail between Rulo and Falls City. Everything was hauled over that trail.

After the drouth came the garasshoppers, and for two years they took all we had. The cattle barely lived grazing in the Nemeha valley. All grain was shipped in from Missouri.

The people had no amusements in the winter. In the summer they had picnics and a Methodist camp-meeting, on the Muddy River north of Falls City.

Over the Nemaha river two and one-half miles southwest of Falls City, on a high hill above the falls from which the town was named, was an Indian village. The sac and Foxes and Iowa Indians occupied the village. Each spring and fall they went visiting other tribes, or other tribes visited them. They would march through the one street of Falls City with their ponies in single file. The tipi poles were strapped on each side of the ponies and their belongings and presents, for the tribe they were going to visit, piled on the poles. The men, women, and children walked beside the ponies, and the dogs brought up the rear. Sometimes, when the Indians had visitors, they would have a war-dance at night and the white people would go out to view it. Their bright fires, their scouts bringing in the news of hostile Indians in sight, and the hurried preparations to meet them, were quite exciting. The Indians were great beggars, and no very honest. We had to keep things under lock and key. They would walk right into the houses and say "Eat?" The women were all afraid of them and would give them provisions. If there was any food left after they had finished their eating, they would take it away with them.

Their burying-ground was very near the village. They buried their dead with all accoutrements, in a sitting posture in a grave about five feet deep, without covering.

The Indians cultivated small patches of land and raised corn, beans,pumpkins, etc. A man named Fisher now owns the land on which the Indians lived when I reached the country.

The people were very sociable. It was a healthy country, and we had health if very little else. We were young and the hardships did not seems so great as they do in looking backward fifty years.

Note-Thyrza Reavis Roy was born August 7, 1834, in Cass County, Illinois; the daughter is Isham Reavis and Mahala Beck Reavis. Her great-grandfather, Isham Reavis, fought in the war of the Revolution. Her grandfather Charles Reavis, and her own father, Isham Reavis, fought in the war of 1812. She is a real daughter of the war of 1812. She is a member of the U.S. Daughters of 1812, a member of the Deborah Avery Chapter D.A.R. of Lincoln, and a member of the Territorial Pioneers Association of Nebraska. Her husband, George Roy, died at Falls City, March 2, 1903.

Frm Blue Book of Nebraska Woman by Winona Reeves 1916* Annie Reavis d/o Isham Reavis and Annie Dorrington

Annie Reavis Gist was born in Falls City in 1865 and has lived there all her life. She is the daughter of Isham and Annie Darrington Reavis who were Nebraska pioneers. Se was educated in the College for Women at Jacksonville, Illinois, graduating with highest honors in the classical course. She took a course also in the musical conservatory in connection with the college. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, joining it when it was known as the I.S. sisterhood before it became a Greek Letter sorority. She was married in Falls City in 1888 to Thomsa J. Gist. They have four children:, Reavis, Frank, Annie Margaret and Elizabeth. Mrs. Gist is one of the most prominent club women in Nebraska. She has served the Nebraska Federation in many offices and was state president. She has been general federation state secretary and is Nebraska's reporter for the General Federation Magazine. She has represented Nebraska many times at the meetings of the General Federatino and has served on state and national committees. She is a frequent contributor to American Motherhood and to other periodicals. She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and of the Order of the Eastern Star. She is a member of Sorosis, of the Falls City woman's Club and of the Shakespeare Club. Her church affiliation is the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which she has an active interest.

EDWARD REAVIS, Jr gave this account of his father in material offered by Herman Newton Albert, son of Isaac and Tennesee Reavis Albert..provided by his g'dau Chris Martin

"My father was the first settler in Salt Pond Twp, Mo. His name was Edward Reavis He settled in the fall of 1817; he came in a flat boat from the mouth of the Lamine River, up Blackwater to this neighborhood. His family at that time consisted of fourteen members, about one-half the number being Negro slaves or servants. He settled at the salt springs, two miles east of Brownville, and made a business of making salt for some fifteen years. He probably made all the salt that was used in this part of the country. There was no timber then in this country, except strips on the wet places along the watercourses. The country was full of Indians; they were peaceful, however. There were plenty of game of all kinds; Black bear, Buffalo, Wolves,Panthers, Catamounts, Elk, Deeer, Wild Turkeys adn Prairie Chickens. I know of white bears having been killed here, but they were not natives of the country. (He probably had reference to grizzly bears.)There was an abundance of fish in the streams. The soil was more productive than now.

My older brother taught the first school that was ever taught in this township about the year 1820. His name was Warren P. Reavis. The first sermon was by Isham Reavis, an old school Baptist. The first Justice of the Peace was Warren P. Reavis, about the year 1823 or 1824. The school house was built of logs and used for a church a number of years. The first house was built on the site of Brownville was of logs, and put up by Asa B. Pennington about the year 1834. It was customary for the men to dress in buckskin suits, the ladies in homespun cotton dresses. The ladies would go barefooted until they got nearly to church when they would put on their shoes in order to save them. Shoes were hard to get. I have known persons to come to church with the fresh blood on their hunting shirts from a deer or some other game which had been killed on the way, and one, a minister got up and preached in that garb. It made no difference to the ministers that this was done on Sunday. The preachers allowed us to kill game whenever we could. One reason for this was that it was almost impossible for us to raise hogs on account of the bears, and we had to depend entirely on wild meat. If we could not get it on weekdays, we got it when we could. Wild honey was abundant. I have gone into the woods and cut and carried in a barrel in one day.

This country at this time, in a word, was a earthly paradise. Men stood upon their honor and women upon their virtue. In fact,no other classes of people were allowed to live with us. We made our meal and flour in hand mills,and with mortar and pestles. When we went to mill we had to go to Turley's Mill, near Boonville; that was a "horse Mill." At first, no coffee or sugar was used. Afterward we sent off our beeswax, tallow and furs to St. Louis, and bought little articles that we needed. We always paid our taxes with wolf scalps, and had no use for money. My father owned 1,280 acres of land, and at first there was not more than a $1.50 tax on the whole tract. There was no trouble among the Indians after I came here (1817), although my father built his house in the shape of a fort with portholes to shoot out of. His was the first house built in this township."


Mr. Prigmore landed in Booneville in 1818. There was only one store in the place at the time which was owned by Mr. Wyan, in a smll log house. Prigmore moved from there to Buffalo Prairie, at the mouth of the Blackwater, lived there two years, then moved to the mouth of the South Fort near Brownville. At that time there were two families of Mayes (John and Matt) living at McAlister Springs, as well as two families of Reavis(Ed and Isham). These four and Mr Prigmore's making five were the only white settlers in the neighborhood. The Mayes both moved in a short time, and the Messrs. John and Robert Owens moved on to their places. This was about the year 1824 or 1825. Some two or three years after this, on account of troubles with Indians on the north side of the Missouri River, all of the white settlers left, all going to Howard County, except Mr. Prigmore who went to Lafayette, then called Lillard. Before the summer was over Mr. Revis moved back. All the settlers moved back next spring, except for the Messrs. Owens who remained in Lafayette. Parsons, Pennill, and Hays moved in abuot that time also. The Osage, Kaws, Kickapoo, Sac, Delaware and a few Shawnee were the Indian tribes that frequented this part of the country at that time. They were perfectly friendly and honest. The settlers traded, hunted, ran horse and foot races and wrestled different tribes at that time. All of the settlers were farmers except Mr. Reavis who farmed and made salt. They were all from Kentucky except Parsons and Pennill who were from Virginia.

The nearest mill was a horse mill, owned by Mr. McFarland, about forty-five miles off southwest of Boonville. They would take a wagon load at a time, once or twice a year. That was so much trouble theat zPrigmore bought a small pair of mill stones and fixed them up for hand power. The bedstone was fixed on four posts; the runner was placed on the bedstone on a pivot. On a small piece of iron, raised by a lever as runners are now. It was fed a few grains of corn at a time, thrown in by hand. A free Negro man also owned one at this time. Edward Reavis had what they called a mortar, which was a log adzed out so as to make a basin that would hold about one half a bushel. The pestle was a timber four or five inches in diameter and six or seven feet long, with an iron in the head of it, similar to an iron wedge. A pole was then fastened by one end to the ground and then a post was put in the ground so that the pole would rest on it at the spring. The pole was then fastened to the post and on the end of the pole was attached the pestle, and a pin put through it to work it by. At every house there was a grater. Their clothing was made from cotton and flax that they raised, carded and spun.

Mr. Isham Reavis was an old regular Baptist preacher who preached once a month regularly, and sometimes every Sunday as long as he lived. He also taught school in the winter months at from ten to twelve dollars a month. Messrs. Trapp and young of the old Christian church came once a month and preached and preached during the summer months. In a short time a Methodist minister came and preached once a month at Mr. Parson's. Occasionally a traveling preacher would come along and let it be know that he would preach. They would put a boy on a horse and have him a good congregation.

At this time on the headwaters of the Blackwater, there were plenty of buffalo, bears, elk, deer, panther, wolves, wild cats of catamounts, turkeys and bees. The bears, panthers, and wolvere were very destructive to stock, especially hogs. Bears were hunted with dogs when the snow was on the grouns; deer and such game with rifles, without dogs; wolves with steel traps principally. If anyone was fortunate as to get a new gun, the rest had a sort os spite at him until they beat the gun shooting at a target. At a houseraising all of the neighbors from eight to ten miles would go with their guns. If a deer was not wanted, they would shoot at a mark some 60 or 100 yards adn then go home. If any of them wanted a deer, they would go after it and get it. Rifles were used all together.

A camp meeting was held once a year where Dover now stands, and everybody went. They were held by the Cumberland Christians. As the country settled a little, once a year they would select two captains and two companies would see which could capture the most wolf scalps in a year. They would meet a few days before the Fourth of July. The captain that got beaten would give a barbeque on the Fourth of July. If there were any politicians on the grounds they would have some speeches and the Declaration of Independence read. The Declaration would be read anyway. The Militia had to company musters each year, one battalion, one regimental and one drill muster.

The timber was such as we have now; no undergrowth, burnt out every fall. Soil same as now. Streams and springs the same as now. Salt was made until steamboats commenced to bring it up. That made it so cheap that they stopped making it. In 1824 or 1825, the first steamboat came up the river with supplied and $150,000 in silver. It struck a snag just above the mouth of the Lamine and sunk. It raised a big commotion among the settlers. Before this supplies were brought up in keel boats and wagons from St. Louis. It was a long time after the sinking of this boat before any others came up."

The Star Shower of 1833

In Saline County, Missouri, the celestial phenomenon was fully as brilliant as welsewhere. Hundreds of people witnessed it, and it was an occasion of much excitement. Very many of the poorly informed people concluded tht the judgement had come. The Negroes especially were much frightened. A dance was in progrss on a farm in Arrow Rock Townshhip, attended exculisvely by slaves from the neighborhood. When the shower began the dusky revelers were fire made aware of the fact by a messenger who ran frantically into the cabin and shouted, "If y'all wants to git to Heavenyou better gin to say you pra'rs might sudden, case de Lawd is a comin' wi' de fire and de glory, and de wud'll be burnt up like acracklin' 'fore mornin'." The dancers ran out, and scarcely had they seen the terrifying spectable when they fell upon their knees and howeled for mercy. Not for some days did they recover from their fright, or live without fear of some sudden and awful supernatural visitations. One old darkey declared that is the world and his life were spared he would guarantee to break eighty pounds of hemp every day, instead of fifty, as had been his wont. "Old Uncle Jimmy" Reavis (grandson of Isham-3) and some other parties were engaged in a lawsuit for the possession of a Negro named Ben. By the advice of their attorneys, the Reavis party had captured the darkey and kept him under guard. On the night of the star shower, the guards were on duty, but when the Shower began they fell on their knees to pray, and while the prayer meeting was in progress, Ben very irreverently and at the risk of being arrested for disturbing religious worship, got up and lit out for his friends on the other side of the case, making good his escape.

EMIGRATION FRM WARRENSBURG MO TO PRESCOTT WA MAR 1889 (frm handwritten account of the journey by Frances Marr,d/o Seth Marr and Mary J. Reavis-7, Woodson-6)

The Hays, Mars, Reavises, Bowles, McSherrys and Fisks, and a handful of unmarried men, comprising 12-15 families, total of 60 people; rented a tourist coach with a large pot-bellied stove, with a double oven in the middle of the special tourist coach. Six coffee pots steamed and an array of frying pans sizzled on top of the wood-burner. It was equipped with sleepers and they rented a freight car for their wagons, harness and household goods. The trip took them 5 days, and they arrived in Prescott,Washington on Mar 16, 1889.