Friday, January 18, 2013

The Santa Fe Trail and Railroad Ran Through the W.D. Porteous Family Farm in Kansas

The Santa Fe Trail started in Franklin Missouri crossed into Kansas around Kansas City going southwest 
to where you see Garfield in red. You can still see some of the wagon ruts in various spots along today's historic trail.

Sometime after their 1875 immigration from Lincolnshire, England, my g-g-grandparents, William Dennis & Elizabeth PORTEOUS and family settled in Garfield, Kansas. The opportunity for land was greater around that time because some of the Indian Territories were opening to settlers. Since their son John and family immigrated five years earlier and were living in Lake County, Illinois, I'm sure W.D. and his family stopped there first after departing from the Port of New York.

My g-g-grandparents, their daughter Jane, and my g-grandfather John owned land in Kansas. John and his family remained in Illinois. William D. and Elizabeth had their farm (homestead) on land situated on the Santa Fe Trail; the trail was actually quite wide, and the homestead only sat on a small portion of it. The Arkansas River ran through the property also. This supports my belief the trail would have crossed through the property since pioneers traveling west would need water for their horses and human needs. There is a DAR plaque in town commemorating the trail.

The Santa Fe railroad crossed a corner of the property according to the plat map below. This might have been the mode of transportation the family used to Garfield from Illinois. I have no record of any other means of transportation for their move to Kansas. I can only speculate W.D. and son John went down there from Illinois to "look" at property sometime prior to 1878 since the early deed was filed later in that year. 

The Santa Fe railroad went through Garfield as early as 1872. During construction of the railroad, Garfield was called Camp Criley. According to an item written by Col. H.P. Wolcott, an early settler, (in the History of Garfield, Kansas, Second Edition, Compiled and Edited by Howard Losey) Camp Criley was a supply stop for the railroad workers and there were about 150 persons living there. By 1873, the railroad was completed to the Colorado state line; Camp Criley was "deserted and the big boarding house had but one occupant." In March of 1873 the first settlers arrived. The town's name was "immediately changed to Garfield, and had the honor of being the first town to bear the name of that illustrious statesman and revered patriot." James A. Garfield was a senator from Ohio where the first settlers were from, and later became a U.S. President. Upon hearing of this town's name, he gifted them with a bell which can be seen in a little building on the main road in the park.

The Porteous family settled the property just east of Garfield. The orange outlined box (upper right) shows land owned by Jane Porteous within the overall land owned by g-g-grandfather William D. Porteous (faded orange). Southwest and down river from Garfield is another box showing land owned by g-grandfather John Porteous (railroad runs through it) and later the lower half is owned by William M. Porteous (Jane's son). Also included in this plat map is Garfield cemetery where g-g-grandparents, Jane, William M. and his wife are buried.

I don't know exactly when the Porteous family settled in Garfield; at first I thought the year was 1878 taken from a 1926 news article about that deed. Upon further research into that deed, it turns out to actually be dated 1879. So I changed my thinking until I was given this Warranty Deed on a visit to the Pawnee County Court House in Larned, Kansas. The earliest known deed is a copy dated 1878 for 153 acres which cost $1600. This acreage coincides with the 1885 Kansas State census and is more than likely where the house and farm was located.

Below is the Warranty Deed which shows W.D. Porteous had purchased land in late 1878 from a Mr. and Mrs. E.W. Grover. Since this one, I have accumulated many deeds and transfers for later years, but of them, this is the earliest known to me. Daughter Jane also purchased land about that time for growing timber. This was unusual because women didn't normally have that freedom to purchase land in the 1870s. There are several conflicting dates on it, but that is for another time. 

I have no idea how to read the land specs in the second paragraph, but I know this is not the deed of 1878 the newspaper article has specified. This deed is from 5 Oct 1878; "Filed & Recorded Nov. 5, 1878." This is a Warranty Deed showing William D. Porteous purchasing 153 acres for $1600. (Third paragraph above and 1885 KS State Census below.) This deed is more than likely describing the land the house and barn sat on. Photocopy of Deed obtained at the Pawnee County Court House.

I have found no evidence this house was the first one built on this land. The first could have been a sod house. There were many "soddies" or sod houses built there around that time. I can't remember hearing any family story about them living in a sod house. One can only wonder. I'm not sure if by 1878 more traditional materials weren't used. What with the railroad well established, I'm sure supplies were readily available.

William D. Porteous homestead just outside of Garfield, Kansas. The farm is no longer there. The land where the buildings were is a pasture and in November the American Legion would put on a Turkey Shoot and held it there at what they call "Porteous Park." I think this picture was taken on that little corner of land across the railroad tracks and main road. This picture was found in a box of old family pictures.

A close up of the house. You can't see detail well, but there are two people standing in the doorway of that little attachment on the right of the house.

Distant shot of the homestead. The image showing the Porteous farm (now called Porteous Park) and wide open spaces hasn't changed much. This shot was probably taken from Janes property. This picture was found in a box of old family pictures.
A picture Bill Porteous gave me of the barn on the property. This picture was the tool I needed to identify the "homestead" property. Until then, I had no idea where the other two picture were from or whose farm it was. What a thrill in getting a picture with writing on the back! There was no year this was taken.

On our first trip to Garfield, Bob and I drove out to the property to see if there was a foundation of the house or any remains showing of the barn. All we found were a few head of cattle. Well, I can tell you the telephone lines were a buzzing before we could cross the tracks to the main road... I'm sure there was talk of the strangers who were trespassing... we didn't see any signs. Less than a half hour later we stopped at the Santa Fe Trail Museum outside of Larned, one of the ladies there knew we had ventured out into the pasture and asked us our business out was her property! She didn't give us any trouble either. When I told her I was researching my POR-TE-OUS family, she said she grew up with a POR-TAS! When she pronounced my last name that way, I was sure of the correct pronunciation. It was clear way out here in the middle of nowheres, there weren't so many outside influences on the name and she pronounced it the way they did in England and still do!

"1926-Larned, Kansas newspaper Tiller-Toiler
A Deed of 1878 Filed.
The oldest deed which has been filed in the county in recent years was brought to J. J. Via, register of deeds, a few days ago. In clearing up the estate of W. D. Porteous, this deed, dated1878 was found. It conveyed a city lot in Garfield (lot 5, block C) for $10 [$19?] from the Garfield Town Company to William D. Porteous. The property had changed hands several times since, but this discovered deed serves to clear the title." (The actual date of the deed is 1879. This deed was filed long after W.D. Porteous passed away in 1902.)

Garfield city map showing Lot 5, Block C parcel, located on Grant St.

The empty lot with a broken sidewalk is all that's left on Lot 5, Block C parcel. 

In a January 15, 1886 newspaper article (Larned Chronoscope, Larned, Kansas), I found while searching rolls of microfilm for Elizabeth Porteous' death notice, it says the G.A.R. post was looking to secure the Porteus' building to hold their meetings in. I have asked several "old timers" numerous times over the years if they knew where that building could have been. No one knew. My Porteous family was the only family of that name in Garfield. There are none left now. Maybe the building was on Lot 5, Block C.

––James A. Garfield post G.A.R., are endeavoring to secure the Porteus' building opposite the Letter office for holding their meetings."

View of Third St. possibly looking East (early 1900s). I have seen this image many times and just today noticed the "X" above the center store front. Could that be the Porteus building?  This picture was found in a box of old family pictures. (One similar to it can be found in Howard Losey's History of Garfield, Kansas book.)


The 1880 US census was the first showing g-g-grandparents and family. (There is no 1890 census found, not even a fragment.)

1880 US census / Garfield, Pawnee Co., Kansas / 7 & 8 day of June 1880
Porteus William D   head   60    Farmer  b. Eng
Elizabeth   60   wife   Keeping House   b. Eng
Jane   25   daughter   At home   b. Eng
William   18  Son    Farm Hand   b. Eng

I did find the 1885 Kansas State Census on The family was still in tact, but the following year g-g-grandmother Elizabeth would pass away. The only clue I have –– at this time –– the family stopped off in Illinois before they came to Kansas is this census which asks "Where from to Kansas" -- Illinois! I have yet to find evidence of them being in Illinois. That gives me something to do when I'm at a loss.
1885 Kansas State Census
WD Porteous   70   White   married    male   Farmer   born ENG   where from to KS: Illinois
E Porteous   73   white   married   female      born ENG   where from to KS: Illinois
Will Porteous   22   white   single   male   Farmer   born ENG   where from to KS: Illinois
Jennie Porteous  30  white  single  female    born ENG   where from to KS: Illinois
Early in my research, a contact in Kansas sent me a copy of the 1885 KS State Census and the attached "Agriculture Census" which shows how many acres of land W.D. farmed, what was grown, the livestock types and amounts, and value of the farm, etc. I was thrilled to say the least.

In 1885, W.D. Porteous owned the farm; 153 acres were not fenced; value of farm & improvements $1500.00; farm machinery $800.00

He planted 30 acres of winter wheat, 6 acres of rye, 10 acres of oats, 1/4 acre of Irish potatos [sic], 15 acres of sorghum; 10 tons home hay; 30 tons prairie hay.
He had 6 horses, 2 milk cows, 45 other cattle, 5 swine; #20 animals fathered for slaughter; 1 dog
The bottom line doesn't belong - disregard.

There is no 1890 census, so the next census I have is the 1895 Kansas State census which shows a change in the household. W.D., 74, came from England; Jennie (W.D.'s daughter Jane) 40, and came from England; Wm M. 35, and came from England. G-g-uncle John Rouse Vamplew (brother to g-grandmother Mary Ann) is living there now. There is a Bertie HAND who is 8 years old and came from Indiana. I believe he could be one of the children in a later wave of children of the "Orphan Train." I have no proof of this, but I haven't found a "family connection" of his to ours yet either.

1895 Kansas State census shows the W.D. Porteous household without Elizabeth who had passed away 1886.

Back of page above shows the family came from Illinois and Kansas. All are literate. Occupation of Wm. M. is probably "Wgn Laborer" but who can be sure?

Below is the household on the 1900 census where you can see the name is spelled PORTIUS. G-g-grandmother Elizabeth has passed away (1886) and now Bert is an "Ad Son" (adopted) along with boarder John Vampew (Vamplew).

1900 US Census.
John R. Vamplew originally came with W.D.'s family on the same ship in 1875. He bought a parcel of land a little northwest of Garfield in another township. Later he sold that land and lived with the Porteous family until he passed away in 1920s. Bert Hand was only with the family in Kansas until he came of age, and by 1910 census he was in Tulsa, Oklahoma as a handyman doing odd jobs. Have not been able to trace him any further and there has been no mention of him in any family papers, wills, probates, etc.

There isn't much trace of the Porteous family in Garfield today. The graves in a family plot about a mile outside of town are all that remain. They are marked with the names William & Elizabeth, Elsie, William M., and Jane Porteous (and John Vamplew). Just think... the family plot is probably the last parcel of Garfield, Kansas land with the PORTEOUS name on it.

In the distance Garfield Cemetery, Garfield, Kansas as you turn onto 6th Street leading to the cemetery. 

Garfield Cemetery, Garfield, Kansas. 

1882 Garfield Cemetery was established. There was no date on this picture of the earlier early cemetery. I don't know much about dating cars -- that might tell the age of the original picture. This picture was hanging in the little greenhouse on the cemetery grounds.

Porteous Family plot, Garfield Cemetery, Garfield, Kansas by Google Satellite.

Porteous Family plot, Garfield Cemetery, Garfield, Kansas. The large headstone is for g-g-grandparents William Dennis and Elizabeth; the back four from left: John R. Vamplew; Elsie (Wm. M.'s wife); William M.; Jane (Miss Jennie). The last parcel of property owned by the Porteous family in Garfield.
All pictures are mine, except where noted. Please ask permission to use or site my blog as where you got an image.

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