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KANSAS.

CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION.

FAR away amid childhood's sunny vales, pleasant memories bring back to me a quiet New England village not far from the noble Connecticut's sparkling waters. Situated upon an elevation, commanding an extensive view of the surrounding country in all directions, the Mt. Holyoke range upon the north-west, and Wilbraham mountains on the south, and being finely diversified with hill and dale, as an inland town its beauty of location can scarcely be equalled. The taste of its inhabitants was visible in the broad, finely shaded streets, and the long, wide common, where the whispering breezes toyed and laughed among the trees. Upon the eastern side of this beautiful green were the churches and town-hall, the lower rooms of which, for many years, had been used for school rooms; and here, especially, memories of bygone days cluster, memories of teachers and school friends long since passed away, others still living, few of whom I shall ever meet again. But most vividly of all comes before me the brightcolored map, in green, red and yellow, upon which I daily learned my lessons, as to our whereabouts, and that of mankind generally, upon the face of the old earth. Very many were my speculations as to the appearance of one part of the country, laid down upon the map as the Great American Desert. There was mystery to me in its semi-circular lines in fine letters, "Great American Desert, inhabited only by savages and wild beasts," and much

childish curiosity was excited thereby.

Years came and went; and with them came the increase of wealth and power to the American people, and the progress of the age. As California became a portion of her dominions, gold was found in the bed of her rivers, and in the bosom of her soil. Thousands flocked thither from the whole country. The young and ardent from the Atlantic States, unused to toil and hardships, but eager in their search for gold, left all the comforts of home, and entered the lists. Men from the West, not quite so daintily raised, pressed onwards in the race, and together they sought this far-famed Eldorado. Some realized their anticipations, but many a loved and cherished one "fell and perished, weary with the march of life." Thousands reached the goal of their hopes, by a long passage around the Horn, some by a slow, vexatious crossing of the Isthmus; but thousands more took that route which promised most of health to the traveller, the one opened from Missouri overland to the Pacific shore, by the courageous, the enterprising, the adventurous Colonel Fremont. This, the finding of which through the mountains by unequalled energy, and endurance, and trials, and sufferings, which would have unnerved ordinary men, became now the general thoroughfare to Oregon and California. This newly opened highway led directly through the Indian Territory, known to childhood as the "Great American Desert; " and many a my one, looking upon its unrivalled and ever varying scenes of beauty, as his route for days lay over its beautiful rolling prairies, decked with the loveliest flowers in every shade of coloring, or camped under the noble trees by the bank of some swiftly flowing stream, felt strong desires for a home, where he could sit under his own vine and fig-tree, in a land like this. Many then resolved to find therein such home, when it should be thrown open to settlement. The face of this country is beautiful beyond all comparison. The prairies, though broad and expansive, stretching away miles in many places, seem never lonely or wearisome, being gently undulating, or more abruptly rolling; and, at the ascent of each new roll of land, the traveller finds himself in the midst of new loveliThere are also high bluffs, usually at some little distance from the rivers, running through the entire length of the country,

ness.

while ravines run from them to the rivers. These are, at some points, quite deep and difficult to cross, and, to a traveller unacquainted with the country, somewhat vexatious, especially where the prairie grass is as high as a person's head while seated in a carriage. There is little trouble, however, if travellers keep back from the water-courses, and near the high lands. These ravines are in many instances pictures of beauty, with tall, graceful trees, cotton-wood, black walnut, hickory, oak, elm and linwood, standing near, while springs of pure cold water gush from the rock. The bluffs are a formation unknown in form and appearance, in any other portion of the West. At a little distance, a person could scarcely realize that art had not added her finishing touches to a work, which nature had made singularly beautiful. Many of the bluffs appear like the cultivated grounds about fine old residences within the Eastern States, terrace rising above terrace, with great regularity; while others look like forts in the distance. In the eastern part of the territory, most of the timber is upon the rivers and creeks, though there are in some places most delightful spots; high hills crowned with a heavy growth of trees, and deep vales where rippling waters gush amid a dense shade of flowering shrubbery; all reminding me of dear New England homes, where art and taste had labored long. Higher than the bluffs are natural mounds, which also have about them the look of art. They rise to such a height as to be seen at a great distance, and add peculiar beauty to the whole appearance of the country. From the summit of these the prospect is almost unlimited in extent, and unrivalled in beauty. The prairie for miles, with its gently undulating rolls, lies before the eye. Rivers, glistening in the sunlight, flow on between banks crowned with tall trees; beyond these, other high points arise. Trees are scattered here and there like old orchards, and cattle in large numbers are grazing upon the hillside, and in the valleys, giving to all the look of cultivation and home life. It is, indeed, difficult to realize that for thousands of years this country has been a waste, uncultivated and solitary, and that months only have elapsed since the white settler has sought here a home.

SOIL.

The soil for richness can be surpassed in no country. It is of a black color, with a sub-soil of clay and limestone basis. Vegetation is most luxuriant. The soil and climate are most admirably adapted to the raising of grains of every known variety. The growth of melons, cantelopes, tomatoes, squashes, in fact, vegetables of all kinds, - is wonderful. Western Missouri bears most excellent fruit of all kinds, apples of the best varieties, peaches, plums, grapes, etc. The soil and climate in Kansas being similar, a very few years will see the perfection of the same fruits through

out the country.

Wild fruits are abundant. Pawpaws, a fruit resembling somewhat a banana, are very sweet and luscious, in the estimation of some, while others think them quite unpalatable. The mandrake, or custard-apple, is a pleasant fruit, ripe in August, of the size and appearance of an egg-plum, medicinal also in its nature. The wild plum, cherry and mulberry, grow in many places. The plum is very good of itself, and, as a tree to graft upon, valuable. Gooseberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries, grow spontaneously. With a very little pains, the settlers in Kansas can soon surround themselves with all the fruits which require several years in New England to cultivate to any degree of perfection. Meat here, especially beef, is much nicer than beef fattened elsewhere. It is owing, probably, to the rapidity with which it fattens in this country. Beef of a year old in many instances is unequalled. Venison, prairie chickens, wild turkeys, rabbits, and squirrels, furnish dainties for the most fastidious epicure.

CLIMATE.

The climate is exceedingly lovely. With a clear, dry atmosphere, and gentle, health-giving breezes, it cannot be otherwise. The peculiar clearness of the atmosphere cannot be imagined by a non-resident. For miles here a person can clearly distinguish objects, which, at the same distance in any other part of this country, he could not see at all. The summers are long, and winters short.

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