Saturday, October 28, 2017


Kansas State Historical Society
February 6, 1897

Toussaint La Hay settled in Douglas County before I came to Kansas and built a nicely finished pine house of three or four rooms, plastered, painted, and on a raised foundation.  His claim was half a mile east of what is now known as Sigil Bridge, a little post office at the crossing of the Wakarusa, eight miles from Lawrence.  Gabriel Markle, who married a daughter of La Hay, still lives on this place.  The house was one of the nicest ones in the country at that time, and was perhaps put up in 1855.  Mr. La Hay had a wife, two sons, and two or more daughters.  His boys were pro-slavery and rough and always ready to fight.  I think he owned one or two slaves.  His boys were both large enough to hold claims, and I think there must have been two or three quarter sections of land in the family, good bottomland.  La Hay was a man of wealth and influence among his people.

Sometime in 1856 a party of free-state men, supposed to have been residents of the vicinity, but whose identity I never learned, robbed his house of furniture, clothing, etc., and burned it to the ground.  La Hay was not intimidated by this outrage, but immediately put up a log-pole hut with dirt floor, when he lived for some time and until he built a better frame house than the first.  I think he left our neighborhood shortly before the war, going south.  I think his daughter married Mr. Markle about the time he left.

I felt indignant when I heard of the robbing and burning of La Hay’s house, although I was a free-state man and had come to Kansas with the intention of doing my part in the struggle.  I remember of calling on La Hay early in our acquaintance and expressing my desire that we should be neighborly.  I told him that it was only the circumstances of our bringing up that made me an abolitionist and him proslavery; had he been residing north and I south, our views would have accorded with our environments.  He seemed greatly pleased with my overtures of friendship, and we always got on well together.  My wife and I attended the marriage of one of his daughters during the time the family lived in the log house.  The young man whom she married worked in my saw mill.  (Claims, 1861, p. 1536).

I had another neighbor by the name of Geo. W. Ward, who had been a member of the first border ruffian legislature.  He had a comfortable double log house.  For reasons of personal safety he left home in the fall of 1856, leaving his wife, a woman of perhaps sixty years, in charge of the premises.  On the night of September 7th, some free-state men in our neighborhood, Alfred Curtis, A. E. Love, and one other man I did not know, went to Ward’s house, and not finding him at home proceeded to carry away bedding and clothing.  Then they piled the furniture together and set fire to it.  They had ordered his wife to leave, but she would not go until the fire drove her out.  They took some cattle, hogs, and chickens.  The cattle they killed and offered it for sale in the neighborhood.  Some time after the fire Mr. Ward returned and rebuilt the house, remaining a year or two until he could see it, going south before the war.

The men who committed these depredations were our free-state neighbors.  I told them that it was our duty to behave ourselves.  If we acted as badly as the Missourians, plundering and murdering, our friends in the east would have no sympathy for us, and would leave us to our fate. (Claims, 1861, p. 1735-1737.)

Permission to use this document courtesy of Archives Division, Kansas State Historical Society

Friday, October 20, 2017


February 25, 1931 - April 14, 2014 

            Meeting Major Chester "Chet" Danielson was my introduction to The Salvation Army.  The Salvation Army had a church in the little city of Ontario, California, and when my family moved to that town in 1965 and got our kids enrolled in school, we became acquainted with Chet, his wife Vicki and their five kids, who also went to the same school as mine.  So we really knew him through PTA before we learned anything about his "job" as the pastor of The Salvation Army Corps (Church.) 

            About a year later the position of Secretary at The Salvation Army Corps became available and Vicki suggested that I apply for it.  I did, and this really was my learning time about the wonderful organization and its founding.  The Salvation Army's International Headquarters says this: "The Salvation Army began in 1865 when William Booth, a London minister, gave up the comfort of his pulpit and decided to take his message into the streets where it would reach the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the destitute.
            His original aim was to send converts to established churches of the day, but soon he realized that the poor did not feel comfortable or welcome in the pews of most of the churches and chapels of Victorian England. Regular churchgoers were appalled when these shabbily dressed, unwashed people came to join them in worship. Booth decided to found a church especially for them."
            Working in the church office with Chet and Vicki was to see Booth's mission in practice.  Chet was a pastor who loved his flock.  Each Sunday morning he drove the Church bus in a wide sweep of the poorer sections of town and brought in every child and every adult who wanted to be in Sunday School and Church that day.  He took them back home at the conclusion of the services.  He did that for evening service too.  He did that again for Wednesday night prayer meeting.  He provided musical instruments and taught willing children how to play them, so they could provide music for the church services.  Clothing was available for those in need; food was furnished for those who needed it.  Children often came without shoes, but they went home with them.  Sometimes the police brought people to The Salvation Army for help – and Chet and Vicki, with the money that was donated by the Community - used that money to help people in our local community.  The Danielsons were ministers of love.
            Just as in the regular Military Service, officers are moved from place to place, and after 5 or so years, the Danielsons were moved to a new town, and they ended up their career teaching at The Salvation Army's Officer's Training School in Palos Verdes, CA.  I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at their retirement service, and I was proud to do so.  We kept in touch.
            I was sad to learn of his passing.  I hold so many good thoughts of him and Vicki.  Really good people they were.  In my opinion (and I told him this), his only foible was that when it was time for his sermon, he looked out at all those people in the pews that most of society didn't want in their churches – many unkempt, some unemployed or unemployable and mostly uneducated – and solemnly pronounced:  "Let us commence." 
            The congregation may not have understood what "commence" meant, but they all knew what was next:  Our Major was going to preach!

Monday, October 16, 2017


Charles M. Cowan, MD

     I was diagnosed with a heart problem when I was 4 years old.  That was in 1939 and there wasn't much in the way of diagnostic tests at that time.  The cardiologist my parents took me to said don't play any running games, don't go above 4,000 feet altitude, sit on the sidelines during recess, and come back in a year.  I did what they said.  I had a different kind of childhood and my schooling was always different from all the other kids.  It made me an odd child.  But I always carried with me the idea that I could cause my heart to kill me if I was didn't do what the doctor said.   

     When I married, the doctor, not a cardiologist,  said childbirth will give us a good idea of what your heart will do.  Although I eventually had 4 children, I had no heart problems, but I still always had doctors who focused on my heart.  And I always had a cardiologist.

     In 2000, doctors began saying no, I didn't have a heart problem.  I didn't believe them.  After all, I almost lost my childhood over my bad heart, and something had to justify that. 

     When I turned 65 and retired  I chose a Senior Advantage medical plan and selected my Primary Care doctor.  I also found a new cardiologist, Dr. Charles M. Cowan, and made an appointment to see him.  I had all my records sent to him.

     At the first appointment I told him my woeful heart story.  He said he wanted to review my records, ordered an echocardiogram (my first) and told me to come back in a month.  He did, and I did.  When I saw Dr. Cowan again, he took my hand and in a kind, sweet voice he said, "Honey, your heart is perfect except for 3 very tiny little holes that just never grew together as you grew up.  They are so tiny that together they make a funny noise, but that isn't a heart problem.  You don't need me.  You need to go home and live a normal life.

I was stunned.  I finally got him to agree to let me come once a year so he could listen to my heart -- just to make sure.  He laughed and told me to book an appointment for a year.  There was something about him so reassuring that I finally believed what I was told.  Yes, I saw him the next year, and he again assured me my heart was fine.  It was his kindness and the fact that he listened to me that made me so fond of him.

     But after that second appointment, I never saw him again.   In 2008, he and his wife, along with a friend, were killed in a plane crash.  He was the pilot, it was his plane, and it malfunctioned on takeoff from the airport at Catalina Island off the Southern California Coast.  I also learned from the newspaper article of the crash that his first wife had been shot and killed in a car-jacking some years prior to my initial visit to him.  She had stopped to pick up donuts for his office staff when this happened. 

     I think of Dr. Cowan often when I'm getting my aging body refilled and restored by my "now" doctors.  I have yet to find another doctor who is as friendly, encouraging, comforting and genuinely interested not only in my health but my feelings about my health as he was.  I was lucky to have him for a doctor, even for such a short time.