Bertrand K. Macpherson, 67, is transcribing the writings of his great-uncle, Melville L. McPherson, who wrote an account of his life and that of his family's in the early 1930s when he was in his 80's. Bertrand (aka Randy) used his kin's notes to expand the genealogy of this family. Bertrand lives in Lima, OH. He is a retired newspaperman and has been doing genealogy for about 35 years. Here's a little history about my McPherson family who went to Kansas in 1878. David and Sarah McPherson had eight children, all born in Clinton County, Michigan, where David operated a timber farm and two other farms over 20 years. After the Civil War, they obtained government land in Missouri where they farmed. Having the desire to find something better for themselves and their children, they kept moving west. Their oldest child, Clotilda, died at age 19 of polio just before the move to Missouri. The oldest son was Wilton, b. in 1850; then the storyteller, Lafe, b. in 1853, Ellis, b. in 1855 (my grandfather), Clarence, b. in 1857, Mary, b. in 1859, Viola, b. in 1862 and Alice, b. in 1864. In 1889, Mary died in childbirth of her third child, Ralph. Her husband, Theodore Heniken or Heineken, died of typhoid fever a few months later. David and Sarah took their grandchildren, Pearl and Etta Heniken, to raise as their own children. Pearl was 16 and Etta 14 when their grandfather died in 1899. Their grandmother lived long enough to see the youngest child married. In later years, Pearl wrote her grandparents were "saintly people." David and Sarah's children were grown when the family moved to Kansas in 1878, but it was on the Plains where most of the McPherson brood found their mates and their fates. Lafe attempts a genealogical picture of his family with births, marriages, deaths and tracing of his father and mother's backgrounds. He also paints a picture of his own life on the prairie. He left home at an early age, performing many kinds of manual labor. Like many in his generation, he was handy with tools. He enjoyed raising animals, such as hogs, and bought and sold many farms in his lifetime. By M. L. McPherson
I am not sure just when Dad, Mother and the three girls went to Moberly, MO. But he rented his farm and bought two lots about two blocks south of the Hannibal and St. Joe machine shops. This was in the western part of town. Soon after this, perhaps five or six months, he traded his farm for a big 10-room house in the extreme eastern part of town. Not far from a big school where he was janitor for one term of the school. I believe he had mortgaged the farm to build a small house on these two lots he had first bought. And when he traded the farm for the big house, which was a good one, but he assumed a mortgage of $300, and when he traded this note was due, in about six months, and about this time the country was suffering the worse money panic it ever had, and perhaps until yet, and Dad was unable to renew the mortgage, or to borrow elsewhere, then he traded the big house for the Moberly Hotel. It was called the Moberly House. I am not sure Dad knew he was a poor trader or not, but it's my opinion he was just that. Ellis was living with the folks at this time, working in the shops. I went home on a visit and stayed about four days while they were running that place, as I did not answer Dad's letter as I should have done. I did not hear often from them. But in the fall of 1878, they all moved to Cowley County, Kansas. It's so long since these things happened and what I am writing was told me I will be guessing about some of the dates and what really did happen. It seems there was a small, rather hunchback man that was boarding with the folks and was a ticket agent for some railroad and he was going to western Kansas to take up government land. His name was Charley Knight. He had a good pair of mules and Clarence drove these mules out to Kingham County for him. I am not sure how the other folks got to Winfield, but Winfield is where they first landed, then they went 18 miles northeast of Winfield, and at first stopped at Sam Phoenix and John R. Thompson. Then Dad got a filing on a 160 acres, one mile north of the Phoenixes, where Ellis worked for about six months. This was all prairie land, only Richland Creek one mile south and Dutch Creek one mile north and also one mile west as this creek run around. This prairie was a rolling one, but while I lived there what I saw going was in the form of dust. There were numerous springs there on that prairie but they were usually out of sight until you were right at them for they were in sinkholes. There was one close to Dad's house that I built a well over. About six months after Dad moved to this farm, he got the Wilmot Post Office. Then after I went home in the fall of 1880, he and I bought a small house, and a small stock of goods, of J. V. Curd, and moved it and joined it his little room he used for his post office, then he added more goods, and he had a very good business for a country store. Then in 1885, the railroad was completed from Beaumont to Winfield, and as it missed old Wilmot by about three miles, Dad sold his farm and moved his post office and store to the railroad there he built a house and store building. One day after they got settled, about all of their children met there, and then the folks were really enjoying themselves, in my opinion, more than they had since they first went to housekeeping. Then after Mary and Theodore Heniken died there in 1887 and they had the two little girls to care for, I don't remember just when for I and my family was in Springfield, Colorado, but some things got going wrong, and the family all moved to Carthage, Missouri. Clarence and his wife Mattie were in Carthage then, Mattie working in a dry goods store and C. L. in a lunch house. Soon after the folks got to Carthage, Dad had some money left out of his wreck, they bought and run a eating and rooming house here while Mother was trying to help do some paper hanging, she fell off a chair and broke her right hip. Then soon after this happened, they lived awhile with Wilton and Mary, who had moved to Webb City in 1890. Then not long after that they went to live with Ellis and Louise down on the Salt Fork in OK. Then Ellis and Louise brought Dad and Mother and Pearl and Ettie down to our home near Carney, OK, I believe this was in May 1895, for I took them all to Winfield about the middle of August in Roasting Ear Time, then they rented a house and went to housekeeping. I sent Leland up there to attend school, I believe it was in 1898, but he played too much, and I got him back home. I saw the folks about once a year. In January 1899, I took them 20 pounds of butter and a dressed hog that weighed 200 pounds dressed. Dad would not allow me to cut it up for him, he wanted to do that job himself. Dad soon after this got sick, I went up to see him, he was able to get up by himself, and did not seem much sick. But the heel that he got hurt when he was 8 years old was then a running sore. Less than a month after I was there, he got much worse and died on June 28, 1899. He was buried in the Wilmot Cemetery where six years later we buried Mother by his side. I wanted to keep the folks with me for I could take care of them there much better than I could help them in Winfield, but the girls wanted to go to Winfield to school. Especially Pearl and what those girls wanted they got, if Mother could get it for them. Mother thought as much of those girls as she ever did of her own, and I knew Winfield was a good place for them to go to school. After Dad died, Mother, Pearl and Etta lived by themselves for some time as both girls were attending school in Winfield. In 1891 (sic), Mother and Ettie lived with us on the Hockenbary Farm, one winter, Ettie going to school, while Pearl was living with friends in Winfield, where she had many. I am not sure how long Mother lived with Allie. She went there from our place, which was near Baldwin, Kansas. In 1902, I was in K.C., at the livestock show and stayed two nights with Allie. Mother was there then. I saw her every year but not very often. Mother and the girls kept house until Ettie was married, on Jan. 5, 1904. I saw Mother not long before she died. She was able to sit up some then but was about all in. She died on April 17, 1905. I was then living in Tschumche, Kansas, on a small farm that was part of the town site. C. L. was living in Chicago, Allie sent us each a message and we met at Allie's and we paid the doctor for his services and the medicine he gave Mother. We also got her a suitable casket, but not expensive, yet it looked good. We shipped her body to Wilmot on the same train we went on, and we had wired the people there we would be there, and were met at the station by a lot of her and our friends, and her body was taken to the home of John and Emma Groom, where John Watt, Mother's Sunday School superintendent and teacher, held a short service, and then she was buried in Wilmot Cemetery, by the side of Dad who had been buried there six years before. Then we went to Winfield and among us that were collected money and gave Will Cayton and son an order for a suitable stone to be placed at their graves, and I after know it was done, and how despite all the ups and downs (and mostly downs) this couple lived happily together at all times. Dad took several mild scoldings from Mother, but he took them with plenty of salt, and was soon forgotten by both. (Second part deals with Lafe's own life after his marriage in 1882 in Arkansas City, KS) I have decided to cut my chapter short, for I have written 30,000 words of my lifes story, at Ted's request, and there will be few others that will care to read it, for I have been quite a rambler. I was too dumb to get much education, and to bashful to court the girls until I was 25 and discovered then that no young girl wanted a bachelor. So I married the first girl I ever loved. I first met her while she was teaching the Sumit School at the Sumit School House at old Wilmot which is about three miles northwest of the little town of Wilmot on the Frisco RR. Her name was Rachel E. Nawman. She had almost (not quite) red hair and lots of it, in fact I never saw any other woman with so much fine hair that was coarse, she was 5 ft 4, weighed 117 1/2 and I thought her the sweetest woman there was, this was in October 1880, and on Sept. 5, 1882, we went to Arkansas City with a hired buggy and a fine pair of my own mare colts just three years old. We were married by Reverend Broad head at his parsonage, just after dark, then went to the Leland Hotel and spent the night. The next day I took her back to her Dad's and left her there while Ellis and I went back to Emporia to finish up our washing machine, very unsatisfactory undertaking. This was a deal Ellis and I got into before I was married, the purpose was to add to my cash which was then just $300 and before we found out it was a bad deal most of that $300 was D Gone. Ray (his wife Rachel) had told me she thought it was a wild goose chase (her judgment was good). I had before this built a story and a half addition to Dad's house, expecting to take my wife there to live after we were married. But she did not approve of that idea, I had to change my plans. Rachel was born Nov. 7, 1854 in Clark County, Ohio, where her German parents were from. Rachel taught six or seven terms of school before we were married. After Ellis and I finished our business in Emporia, I took my wife to Dad's, shucked his corn, got him his winter and summer wood, and shucked some corn for Cal Sturms. Then in March we moved one mile south to J. W. Miller's farm, the same one Wilton had farmed two years before. After one year, we moved two miles west to a larger farm, but not to do much farming. I had a good team but could make more money at my trade of stone work and sheep shearing. Stayed one year there, then we moved to Winfield and bought two acres just east of the city limits with two small houses, chicken house, well and small barn. In 1885, we rented it out for six months for $25 a month. Had a hard time collecting the rent, but we succeeded. The next year, Gladys was born there, then we traded for a house and lot on East Fifth Street and I got a job of delivering of flour and feed, then one day I was taken down with sciatica, which cost me my job. This was about March 1, then with George Robinson I went to Springfield, Colorado, in April and in May I chartered a car and moved my possessions and some of Morris Cohen's out there where I went to work at once. First, I built a concrete house for Cohen, then did everything that came along that had an honest dollar in it. Built myself a nice little house in town, plastered and painted it white, filed on 160 acres of very good land, five miles southeast of town, built a two-room half dugout, a barn, had a well drilled that cost me just $100. Had five acres plowed, fenced it, planted all kinds of crop and garden truck and got nothing. Although my rheumatism bothered me lots, I worked every day when it was possible to work for the weather. (MORE TO COME) In the second part, I will transcribe Lafe's story about himself and some of his "adventures."