Mosquito creek is a small stream which flows directly into the Missouri river north of Troy in Doniphan county, Kansas. The area was claimed by the Pawnee Indians until the Platte Purchase Treaty of 1836 removed Iowa, Sac & Fox, Otoe and Kickapoos to the land west of the Missouri river in northeast Kansas. The Iowa and Sac & Fox tribes inititally occupied land on the Missouri river at the mouth of Wolf river, but in 1838 the U.S. government used twenty-eight hundred dollars of treaty funds to erect a water power grist mill on Mosquito creek (then called Mill creek). This mill survived only a few years before it was burned by the Indians themselves as a gesture of defiance. The mill was located in the NE1/4 of S30 T2S R21E, but its exact location was unknown to the white settlers until about fifty years later when a heavy rain unearthed the charred walnut logs and stone burrs. This millstone is now on display at the Iowa/Sac & Fox Presbyterian Mission located just east of Highland, Kansas.
According to the Bureau of Land Management surveys of 1855- 57, the emigrant road from St. Joseph to California crossed Mosquito creek in the NE1/4 of S31 T2S R21E. This route was pioneered in 1844 by the Cornelius Gilliam company which crossed the Missouri river near present day Amazonia, nine miles north of St. Joseph. Emigrant parties sometimes reported platforms of Indian dead in trees at Mosquito creek, but this practice was discouraged by the missionaries. By 1842, the Iowa Indians were established in a permanent village adjacent to the Mission, and a permanent brick and stone mission building was built nearby in 1845. The millwork for this building was manufactured in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and shipped to Kansas by steamboat. The materials made up an entire boat load, and were unloaded at Lafayette Landing east of the Mission and hauled to the construction site by ox teams.
When the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854 opened Kansas for settlement, a land rush of epic proportions resulted. The new law provided for a vote of the settlers themselves to decide whether Kansas would be admitted as a slave or free state. This was sarcastically dubbed "squatter sovereignity", since settlers were permitted to stake claims and vote prior to completion of the public land surveys. Intense political feelings caused both pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions to actively promote settlement in the new territory, and many of those from Missouri were pro-slavery in sentiment. Many pro-slavery Missourians faked settlement credentials and voted fraudulently in the elections. The bona fide settlers from Missouri who were sincere in their determination to establish homes in the new land have been largely ignored in Kansas Territorial history.
Seven of the first settlers on Mosquito creek were children or grandchildren of Solomon and Charity (Keck) Graves or of John and Susan (Stephens) Moser. These two families, plus the family of Anthony & Martha (Lower) Graves, came to the Platte Purchase in the 1840s from that part of Grainger county in East Tennessee which became Union county in 1856. They settled near DeKalb in Buchannan county, Missouri. DeKalb is about ten miles south of St. Joseph. Other related families who migrated to the Platte Purchase were Keck, Lower, Bledsoe, Landrum and Sharp families.
The related families from DeKalb who settled on Mosquito creek in the mid-1850s were:
Sampson & Elizabeth "Betsy" (Moser) Graves
Daniel & Eliza (Robertson) Graves
Isaac & Arabelle (Riley) Graves
Frederick & Catherine (Dittemore) Moser
John & ( ) Moser
George & Hester Ann (Sharp)(Finklea) Schauffler
Other early settlers: Meers, Collins, Taylor, Whetstine and Dittemore families.
These settlers were pro-Union in sympathy, but not necessarily abolitionists. None of them owned slaves, but some of them had been slave owners in Tennessee. In fact, Anthony Graves, brother of Solomon, sold the two slaves inherited from his father for eleven hundred dollars in silver to transport his family to the Platte Purchase in 1840. Those who participated in the Civil War did so on the Union side, with one exception. The exception was Houston "Hugh" Graves who served in the 1st Missouri Cavalry, Confederate Army, until his death near Van Buren, Arkansas in 1862. Hugh was a son of Anthony Graves and his first wife, Judie Bledsoe.
Of the Mosquito creek settlers, Sampson and Isaac Graves and Frederick Moser all served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Sampson was a corporal in Co. B, 13th Kansas Vol. Infantry, participating in the battles of Cane Hill and Prairie Grove in Arkansas. In 1846 he had served as a teamster with Gen. Stephen W. Kearny's conquest of New Mexico, freighting supplies as far as Bent's Fort on the Santa Fe Trail in southern Colorado. He joined the Gold Rush to California in 1850 without much success, and returned to Kansas in time to file [Bhis claim on Mosquito creek. After the war he owned a farm on Deer creek north of Atchison, and finally settled on a farm west of Rantoul, Kansas.
Isaac Graves also served in the 13th Kansas Vol. Infantry for a few months in 1864 during Gen. Sterling Price's invasion of Missouri. He served in the Lafayette Company, recruited by Capt. William Gurwell to reinforce the 13th Kansas during the emergency. After selling his first claim to the Mount Vernon Town Company, he purchased 190 acres of land about 1-1/2 miles north of Troy. He was a founder and deacon of the Troy Baptist Church organized in 1858, and is buried at Troy.
John and Frederick Moser and their mother came to Mosquito creek in 1856, crossing the Missouri river on a primitive flatboat ferry at Doniphan, which was only large enough to accommodate one yoke of oxen at a time. This ferry was chartered by John Landis in 1856. Crossing the townsite of Troy, which had been designated the county seat, the only sign of activity was survey stakes marking the building lots. Later in 1856 they hauled lumber with their ox teams from the Flickinger sawmill at Geary City for the first house and commercial building in Troy. Frederick Moser also was a soldier in the 13th Kansas Vol. Infantry.
The three Graves' brothers selected adjoining claims at the mouth of Mosquito creek in 1854-55. When the Mount Vernon Town Company was organized in 1856, they sold their claims to the town promoters for $200 each. The town plat was officially filed on 10 Mar. 1857 at the U.S. Land Office at Doniphan, KT. Daniel Graves then purchased the quarter section one mile south of his original claim. and farmed there until he removed to Washington county, Kansas, in 1887. This farm included the old California road crossing of Mosquito creek, and had a fine grove of walnut trees which provided excellent camping facilities for emigrants, and a popular site for religious camp meetings for the early settlers. Mosquito creek cemetery is also located near the crossing, and contains pioneer and emigrant graves. This land was originally the claim of E. VanB. Rogers, who was one of Doniphan county's first three commissioners, and was also postmaster of Rogersville in 1857-59 on the old California road east of Mosquito creek. This was one of the first post offices in Doniphan county.
Albert Robertson Graves, son of Daniel, was born on Mosquito creek in 1856, and in his later years remembered the long wagon trains of emigrants and freighters which passed their home in the early '60s, on their way to California and Colorado. He personally witnessed the ruins of the grist mill when it was unearthed by the flood waters. According to Bird's Plat Book of 1882, the Graves' house was on the NW1/4 of the NE1/4 of S31, and Albert Graves' recollection of watching the emigrant travel from the front steps of his father's home would indicate that their house was on the hilltop perhaps 400 yds. north of the trail. This home is believed to have been of frame construction, although their first home in section 30 was a log cabin. Sawmills were in operation by 1856 at both Charleston and Lafayette. The house no longer exists, but the land is now owned by Bill Whetstine, a great-grandson of Daniel and Eliza (Robertson) Graves.
The present section line road on the north side of S31 was probably established in the mid 1860s, when the BLM Surveys were complete, but it is not shown on Bird's 1882 Plat Book of Doniphan County. This road connects to an existing road 1/2 m. west of Mosquito Creek which meanders around to the northwest, crossing Coon Creek on a rock bottom ford and then follows the west side of Coon Creek to the top of Wolf River Ridge in S26 ;T2S R20E. This is probably the original emigrant trail from Mosquito Creek to the top of the ridge.
Mount Vernon never really took root. Several houses were built, and a general store and law office was opened by a man named Collins. Dr. Bowen established a medical practice, and a grain storage building was built, but never used for its intended purpose. The towns of Lafayette, about four miles upstream, and Charleston, about the same distance downstream, were much more successful, but they, too, declined after the construction of the railroads in the 1870s. Mount Vernon was unable to secure a post office, and eventually the townsite was vacated by the Kansas Legislature of 1863-64. Ghost towns die slowly, however, and it continued to be shown on maps as recent as Colton's 1886 Map of Kansas.
Hester Ann Sharp was the daughter of Anderson and Martha (Moser) Sharp. Hester Ann's mother was a daugter of John and Susan Moser, and her father was a great-grandson of Henry and Barbara (Graves) Sharp of Union county, Tennessee. The Sharp family were the first settlers at Sharp's Station about 1792. This station or fort was attacked by Cherokee Indians in 1794, and Peter Graves, brother of Barbara (Graves) Sharp, was killed. He was the first person buried in the cemetery located between the fort and Clinch river. This cemetery was relocated when Norris Dam was constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s. Hester Ann's first husband, Hugh Finklea, was drowned in the Missouri river in August, 1856, and his widow then married George Schauffler, who owned the quarter-section on Mosquito creek adjoining Daniel Graves on the south. In 1916, Hugh Finklea, Jr., lived at Cottonwood Springs on the old Pottawatomie Road southeast of Troy.
One other Graves-Moser marriage should be mentioned. This was between Michael and Sarah "Sallie" (Graves) Moser and occured in 1840 in East Tennessee before the migration to the Platte Purchase. This couple came to DeKalb in 1842 with the Solomon Graves family, Sallie's parents. Michael probably convinced the rest of the Moser family to move to DeKalb in 1847. The Michael Moser family remained in Missouri, and did not move to Mosquito creek.
In Missouri, the Graves and Moser families were members of the Bethel Christian Church, located about three miles north of DeKalb. The church building no longer exists, but the cemetery is well maintained and continues to receive interrments of family and community members. It contains the graves of Solomon and Charity (Keck) Graves as well as that of John Moser, who died Sept 26, 1850. Susan (Stephens) Moser died Dec. 6, 1869. Her burial place is unknown.
Charity Keck was a granddaughter of Henry Keck (or Koch) who served in a Pennsylvania regiment during the American Revolution. Solomon and Anthony Graves were grandsons of Jacob Graves who was impressed into the British Army at Hillsborough, North Carolina, in 1783. After deserting from the British forces, Jacob was labeled a Tory, and his life and property were threatened by local "patriots." When he shot and nearly killed one of his tormentors, he was condemned to death, but was eventually pardoned by Gov. Alexander Martin in early 1784. This incident was cited by Theodore Roosevelt in his "Winning of the West" to illustrate the bitter persecution of suspected Tories at the end of the Revolution. Many Loyalists had their property confiscated by such illegal activities, and were forced to flee for their lives.
Two of Anthony Graves' sons were also pioneer settlers in Kansas, taking adjoining claims on Stranger creek in Atchison county. John Graves selected his claim in 1854 and moved to his land in early 1855. "J. Graves" (John or Jacob?) was a member of the Salt Creek Claims Association in 1854. Jacob came to Kansas in 1858, and was a founder and proprietor of the town of Monrovia, located on Stranger creek some ten miles west of Atchison, Kansas. Both brothers were active members of the Pleasant Grove Christian church south of Effingham, Kansas, and both served in the 12th Kansas Militia during Price's raid in October 1864. Gen. Price was defeated by the Union army under Gen. Curtis at the Battle of Westport on the south edge of Kansas City, while the Kansas governor kept the Militia at Shawnee Mission within the state boundary. The Rev. Pardee Butler, a noted abolitionist, eulogized the Graves brothers at the twenty- fifth anniversary of the Pleasant Grove church, recognizing their contribution in making Kansas a free state.
Genevieve E. Peters, Know Your Relatives: The Sharps, 1972
Roy Stockwell, John Graves & His Descendants, 1954
Walter B. Montgomery, ed., Illustrated Doniphan County, 1916
P.L. Gray, Gray's Doniphan County History, 1905
Andreas/Cutler History of Kansas, 1883
J. S. Bird, Historical Plat Book of Doniphan County, 1882
Smith Vaughn & Co., Doniphan County Kansas History and Directory, 1868.