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Chautauqua County Historical and Genealogical Society

Looking Back To Yesteryear
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Ruins of Haunted House Were Once A Fine Home for Proud People.

(Transcribed by Freida Wells)

In the 1870s six families moved here from Michigan. When the people came they all built stone houses. Capp Binns, one of the six, built the Old Haunted House the name by
which it goes now. The house has four large rooms downstairs and four large rooms upstairs.

It had running water and the way the water ran was as follows: The house had a spring behind it and had pipes which pumped it into the kitchen and also into the garden which was on the east side of the raid. After Mr. Binns family had lived there for about four years, they moved out. Mr. Binns rented it to a man by the name of Davis. Mr. Davis had a wife and two daughters.

Mr. Davis was a very wealthy man. He owned a farm or two in Ohio, a power company in Montana and two large banks. They had only lived in the house for one year when a man by the name of Cal Floyd came to work for them. The work he would do was to feed the horses, milk the cows and drive Mrs. Davis and her two daughters into town or wherever they would want to go. He would also care for the lawn, garden and the house.

After Cal Floyd had been with the Davis for about four years, the Davis decided they would move to Montana. Cal Floyd had lived in the house for about one year,when he married a Sedan girl and they lived in the house,caring for the furniture and for Mr. Davis.

Then Cal Floyd tried to buy the house once or twice, but he couldnt get at that time. During that time one of his sons and one of his daughters were born. In 1890 Cal Floyd moved out and rented it to another family.

At that time the lease to the estate belonged to a large real estate company. The part the real estate had consisted of is the property which is now part of Cal Floyd's ranch. The estate also consisted of properties in Chicago and Europe. He saw in the paper an ad, that said the property was for sale, so he bought the house, but he did not live in it, but leased it. When that family moved out the house was pretty well ruined down. He then decided to deed it to his daughter who now lives in Emporia.

A couple of years a go Cal Floyd and some other men tore the roof off the house because they were afraid it would fall in one someone. Cal Floyd thinks now it would be wise to tear down the walls of the house because they were getting very weak. There has been no one living in the house for about fifty years.

Written May 12, 1955 by Karen Mills. ( Ed note: Karen Mills, a sophomore, claims the honor of being one of the last students to interview the late Cal Floyd, who died about two months ago. She talked with him about the history behind the ruins of the old stone house north to town. Though there seems to be nothing sinister in its history, the ruins are popularly referred to by the younger folks as The Haunted House. The haunts that are seen around it probably resemble high school students, also bent on nothing sinister.

Calvin Floyd ( 1872-1955)

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Ghost Town of Farmersburg Alive In Memories

(Transcribed by Freida Wells)

Farmersburg, Kansas, was established in 1870 or 71 on an old freight line connecting Independence and a little town of Boston, located on the Elk and Chautauqua line south
of Moline. The first store was a log and frame building owned by a Mr. Melvin. The backrooms of the store served as a home for his family. In a year or so a Dr. Lannen opened a drug store. At this time the town consisted of approximately seven homes, the store, and drug store.

A Post office was established within the next year, the mail being brought in on a Star route. In later years the route connected Farmersburg with Centre, located about six miles west, Grafton, to the southwest about six miles and then on into Sedan, about twelve miles southwest.

By this time there were ten buildings, houses, barns, a feed corral and an old camping yard located on the west side of Farmersburg. B. J Johnson built the second store and operated it until his death. After Johnson the store changed hands many times until a Mr. Burch became manager, operating it until it was destroyed by fire in 1910. The Post office had previously been removed in 1906 or 07 when the rural route was started in Longton, to serve this territory.

The removal of the store and Post office took the life from the little town and it soon fell into that long list of ghost-towns which was trailing its way through the western states.

The remains of the on-time active little community center may be seen today. Part of the first store and the stone walls which served as fences for the corrals may be seen on the Charley Dye farm. This farm is something called the old Charley Crews place.

The Longton-Sedan road follows about the same trail as the old freight route from Independence to Boston and points west. The road now passes between the remaining structures of the ghost-town and Mr. Dyes house. What can be seen of the remains is on the south side of the road.

A grandson of Mr. Melvin, who helped to found Farmersburg, still lives in Chautauqua County. He is known by most of the county, his name being Brother Woodworth. Several
old timers in and around the locality of Township 32, Range 12, Northwest quarter of Section 18, helped to recall the facts in connection with the town, which is alive only in
their memories. The exact spot where the place that was home to some early pioneers is twelve miles northeast of Sedan.

(By -Barbara Dye, Sedan Times Star March 11, 1954)

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ROME HANKS

(Transcribed by Freida Wells)

ELGIN- Tucked between the rolling hills of far south central Chautauqua County, this small community of 139 once rattled with the sound of cowboys herding cattle into a
bustling town and of trains taking those cattle to far-off markets.

Among the cowboys, businessman and railroad men living in town, one resident had a claim to fame above all others- Rome Hanks, a cousin to Abraham Lincoln.

While Abraham Lincoln was said to belong to the ages, Rome Hanks belongs to Elgin. Margo Boulanger, a freelance writer from Sedan who has researched Hanks life, said.
He left his mark on the town and Chautauqua County.

Romulus Lysurges (or Rome, as he was called) Hanks was born in Kentucky in 1821 and was related to Nancy Hanks, who was Lincolns mother. His family later moved to Indiana, where he married Lorna. the couple moved to Knoxville, Iowa where Rome owned a livery stable.

Rome received his first taste of combat during he Mexican War from 1846 to 1848. With the outbreak of the civil War in 1861, he joined the 117th Iowa Infantry as a captain. the
first major battle he fought in April 1862 at Shiloh, where his brother, Remus, a lieutenant in the regiment, was mortally wounded.

Before Remus died, it was said that he called for Rome and told him about their mothers death and news of another brother Lucious, a Confederate soldier fighting in a Tennessee regiment.

After the fighting at Shiloh was over, Rome net a friend he had made during the Mexican War. Greeting him as Lt. Grant, Rome suddenly realized he was addressing Gen. Ulysses
S. Grant.

Rome later was seriously wounded and captured. He was sent to the infamous Confederate prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville, Ga., where, malnourished and surrounded by filth, his health became further broken.

After the war, he returned to Iowa. He then confronted financial difficulties resulting from poor livery stable finances and a loan he gave someone that was never repaid.

His old friend Grant, who had been elected president in 1858, came to Romes rescue, however, Grant offered Rome the position of postmaster in the new town of Elgin, which
Rome accepted. He arrived in Elgin in 1868 and built a log cabin on top of a hill north of the town.

Lorna and their five children- four daughters and a son - joined him the next year, but they reportedly broke out crying when the saw the primitive dwelling.

Despite the humble beginnings, Rome, eventually became a major citizen of Elgin. Not only did he serve for a short time as postmaster, he also opened a trading post and
engaged in sheep ranching and in the time became a municipal judge and a justice of the peace.

His oldest daughter, Myrna, married Tom Beckham, who was hired to help at the trading post. They later moved to Sedan, where they operated a hotel.

On one cold night in December of 1876, Rome was tending to his lambs when he caught pneumonia. A doctor was summoned from Independence, but it was no use. Rome was buried in the Elgin Cemetery over looking the once-bustling city where he spent his last years.

After Romes death. Lorna moved to Independence and opened a millenary shop. She died at the age of 96. Now, Elgin residents report a trickle of visitors to the cemetery to see the marker of Rome Hanks, the cousin of Abraham Lincoln.

(Taken from the Independence Daily Reporter, August 20, 1995)

We are always looking for stories about Chautauqua County. If you have one and would like to share, please send to:
  
 
  Chautauqua County Kansas
Historical and Genealogical Society 
 115 West Main
Sedan, Kansas 67361