Thursday, March 14, 2013

G is for Asa C

Times were tough.
For G of my A to Z, I wanted to check out this tiny grave site on K7. I had seen it forever, but never took the time to investigate...till yesterday.
Later in the day, I found the image below of settlers in a field. Really triggered my imagination...
Those who have read some of my blogs know that I am prone to droning on and on about how brave the early settlers were, their hardships....
I had imagined the loss of Asa was early, during the first wave of settlers, but the dates on the stone didn't fit my scenario, so I did some research.
The Real Story
From K-7 S, it really doesn’t look like much—just four poles and some kind of stone.
‘Rest.’ The stone reads Asa C., Son of F.M. & E.F. Smith, Born Nov. 15 1856, Died August 30 1857. That means Asa was eight months old when he died.
Turns out, the story of Asa Smith and his family is very much a story of what was going on in Kansas at that time. Kansas territory was founded in 1854 and there was this slavery issue. Bleeding Kansas, when people from the North and South were rushing here to determine the territory’s future as either a free state or slave state.  In 1856, Fountain and Emily Smith, along with their newborn son Asa, moved from Alabama to Johnson County.
The government previously promised the Johnson County area to the Shawnee tribe. But, in 1854, the government decided to let others in to claim the land. Just a few years later, people were rushing here to get a piece of it. Johnson County was seen as a kind of paradise, with timber, wild fruits and prairie hay.
Of course, there were a lot of problems most settlers didn’t know about. Because there was no way to prove you had claimed land, there was a lot of stealing of deeds and fighting over property. Three people were murdered in 1858. This was partly because of the politics of the border war, but also because of disputes concerning land claims.
Smith bought his first 160 acres of Kansas land from his brother, Asa, for whom he probably named his son. Of course, less than a year after they settled, eight-month-old Asa died. There’s no way to know how, but it was likely pneumonia or another illness. The Smiths buried their only child on the property, but likely without any frills or excess ceremony.
They understood it was a hard life and that it was hard times. There probably had been deaths similar to that in their family before.  After Asa’s death, Fountain and Emily Smith went on to have more children.
By 1865, the 160 acres Smith originally purchased grew to 400. He sold all of it that year and moved to Leavenworth County, leaving behind Asa’s grave. Fountain spent the rest of his life in Leavenworth County. 
So, now, more than 150 years after Asa’s death, why do we still care about this grave? There are tons of unmarked graves in Johnson County from children who died on the trail west. Why is this one important enough to protect and even restore? It helped that there was a name on the grave.
 “It would be symbol maybe of all those who came early on.”


Manzanita said...

That is an interesting story. Wonder why they chose to move in 1865, just as the civil was was going on. Also, 1865 marked the beginning of Helena, Mt because gold was discovered here that year. What a division in the country..... the west was busy scrambling for gold and the civil war was being fought in the East. What next?

turquoisemoon said...

Manzanita, The land was open for the claiming (obviously broke another treaty with the Native Americans) Also, people from both the North & South were rushing to the newly opened Kansas territory to determine if Ks was going to be a free or slave state. Politics...!!!

One Fly said...

So his spirit lives as ours will if we are remembered. Nice of you to do so. Cemetery's in Colorado are full of very young children.

turquoisemoon said...

Fly, Ours are full of them too. The only difference is that this one is out in the middle of nowhere/just highways. Just triggered my imagination.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Thank you for telling us Asa C.'s story and helping us remember him today.

turquoisemoon said...

Debra...curiosity just got to me!

One Fly said...

I understand the Mormons have records of where people died and were buried on their way to Utah from Nauvoo,IL. I've seen one such place in SW Iowa. I enjoyed the history that came with your post.

Out on the prairie said...

Nice to find out all of this history.I had family homestead just west of there.

turquoisemoon said...

Fly, I've been reading up on some of the "ghost" towns of Kansas and thinking about looking for them. Some interesting stuff.

Steve, I found my dad's a couple of years ago. I took some pics of it yesterday too. You're originally from Kansas???

the yellow fringe said...

Off subject I guess, but a current struggle in Kansas.
3 weeks ago Kansas senate defeated an effort to weaken RPS. But this week it is expected to come back, GOP pressure appears they may have the votes this time.
Renewable Portfolio Standard was voluntarily agreed to by utilities to increase use of clean energy. Now out of state ALEC and fossil fuel interest are working to weaken the agreement, cliaming it raises rates. Filings of recent wind energy costs taken from the state KCC filings show the opposite, new wind is now cheaper in Kansas. I can direct you to the study if interested. Please tell your representatives to leave the RPS alone and support wind energy.

turquoisemoon said...

Yellow Fringe...yes!!! off the subject, however I agree!