Research trip journal, day 7

2014.05.19 Monday

2014.05.20 Tuesday

2014.05.21 Wednesday

2014.05.22 Thursday

2014.05.23 Friday

2014.05.24 Saturday

2014.05.25 Sunday

With all offices closed, I used the day as a chance to sleep in and take a slow start to the day. On the road, I started to follow the route of the Solomon Valley Trail as well as possible. I believe that the actual trail has been obliterated by the building of the Union Pacific railway that serves the valley at least to Downs.

The Solomon Valley Trail

Kansas Territory, 1859
An 1859 map shows the trail's route along the north and east side of the river, never pulling very far from the stream. However, through plotting the mapped route over township sections displayed in Google Earth, I've come to the opinion that the mapped path and the river itself were approximations rather than a record of careful survey work.

The engineers who planned the railway path might have decided that the existing trail would form a proven, cleared path to lay track. Thus, while new roadways were developed along township and range lines, the railway could take the more diagonal path of the original Solomon Valley Trail.

My route today followed as much as possible the railway and the Solomon River. Starting from Beloit, I followed the railway beside U.S. Highway 24 to the turnoff for Asherville. From Asherville, I headed south and east to Simpson, where I visited my cousin Stan Deneke.

Solomon Valley Trail, 1859 map with future towns shown
(Click image to view larger format.) Only counties east of the start of the
trail had been formed by 1859. Clay county is magenta, Dickinson yellow.
After saying my goodbyes, I drove the rock roads toward Glasco, passing the land once owned by my great-grandfather Richard Butler. Driving south of Glasco, I passed through the corner once called Butlerville (no relationship to the Butler family in my lineage), and headed south and east in one-mile right angles to reach Delphos. I began using my Garmin only when I reached Delphos, so I have a record of my exact route for the last two thirds of the excursion, through Minneapolis, Bennington, and Solomon.

The route stays in the broad flood plain that stretches between .75 mile and 2 miles to the left and right of the river. I tried to imagine whether the land was open prairie or (more likely) overgrown with shrubs and trees. I crossed the railway often, almost every mile as I drove, alternating east and south along the country roads. If the trail has been taken over by the railway, likely no artifacts of the trail and its passing travelers remain. I came across these museums or historical societies that I hope to contact.

  • Delphos Museum—101 North Washington St., P.O.B. 338; 785-523-4540; Raymond Pachta (785.523.4673) or Roger Yager (785.523.4527) or Billye Yowell (785.407.7343, docby@twinvalley.net); http://skyways.lib.ks.us/museums/delphos/delphosmuseumnews.htm; hours irregular or by appointment.
  • Ottawa County Historical Museum—101 S Concord St, Minneapolis KS 67467; 785.392.3621; otcomu@networksplus.net; http://www.ottawacountyksmuseum.com; hours 10 to 12 and 1 to 5 on Tuesday through Saturday. 
  • Staff at the Ottawa museum spoke of a researcher-writer Ron Parks (620.767.3403; 300 Morning Glory Circle, Manhattan KS 66502; ronald6349att.net@att.net) who has published  The Darkest Period about the Kansa indians, and who may have unpublished research on the Solomon Valley.

Reaching Solomon late in the afternoon, I had to turn around without exploring and use the fastest routes available back to Jewell. Because in the evening, I was to meet Marla and Adrian Cordel to correct and update information for his family and his parents and siblings. I had planned to drive to the area of Clyde, Kansas and find the location of St. Joseph Catholic church, the home parish of Rev. Louis Mollier, a pioneer priest of 1874-1911 who had brought the sacraments to Catholic families as far as Tipton, some 80 miles by horse. The church is inactive today, and the sacramental registers may have been lost. [Note on 2014.06.04: I wrote to the Cloud County Historical Museum to find a local researcher who has information on the church.]

Descendants of Frank Ohnsat

Marla worked in the Longterm Care unit where my mother was last hospitalized after her debilitating stroke and before her death. Marla remembered her there, and also when she had worked as a nurse at Community Hospital. I had met Marla through Margaret Cordel Reinert. I had asked the Reinert family on Facebook for leads to the Nick Reinert descendants and Frank Ohnsat descendants in the Tipton area. Margaret fit the bill through her marriage to Don Reinert, a great-grandson of Nick Reinert. Adrian fit the bill through being a grandson to Frank Ohnsat.

At first, Adrian didn't want to talk much about his family. He was concerned that I would publish the information broadly on the internet. I explained that I've published my database once, about five years ago, and have left it without updates since then. The data "out there" is limited to people who were born before 1930, and anyone still living has their given name removed. This fits well, I think, with needs for privacy among all living contributors to the database and yet allows other researchers to see my areas of interest. And I think Adrian softened a bit in his willingness to talk about himself and his origins.

Marla, in contrast, was very helpful. She had printed and marked up some reports about the family. It turns out there are quite a few errors in what I have recorded. I hope to provide some background of how Marla and Adrian met, who her parents are, but my greatest interest is to find an accurate view of the families of Adrian's parents and grandparents. I recorded our conversation, and I hope that I reached my goal. One thing I failed to do, though: I had not snapped pictures of Adrian and Marla. And Marla's Facebook presence has no photos of the family either.

2014.05.26 Monday

2014.05.27 Tuesday

2014.05.28 Wednesday

2014.05.29 Thursday

2014.05.30 Friday

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