Homer Huffaker

Homer Huffaker was related to the Hackney family in this way. His parents, married May 6 1852 at Council Grove, were Thomas Sears Huffaker and Eliza Ann Baker. Eliza Ann, born in 1836, was daughter of Joshua Wells Baker and Agnes Miller Inghram. Joshua Baker was a blacksmith for the Sac and Fox in Iowa. He died in 1849, the same year that his son W. W. Baker married Isabel Frances “Fanny” Hackney, sister of my family’s ancestor William S. Hackney, they also being of Van Buren, Iowa. So, Homer’s mother was a sister-in-law of Isabel Hackney Baker, who was sister of William S. Hackney. These may sound like removed relationships, but they are families who lived in proximity of each other and had a shared history of being early Van Buren settlers.

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Homer Huffaker

One of the pioneer white men in the Osage country, identified with the thriving Town of Fairfax since its beginning, now the head of one of the largest mercantile concerns there, and also one of the present county commissioners of Osage County, Homer Huffaker is one of the men who have made their influence count for improvement and development in this section of the state.

He belongs to one of the oldest and most prominent pioneer families of the State of Kansas. Homer Huffaker was born at Council Grove, Kansas, March 1, 1875, a son of the late Thomas S. and Eliza A. (Baker) Huffaker. In addition to the many honorable distinctions associated with his father’s name in Kansas, Judge Huffaker’s activities also extend into what is now Oklahoma. About 1870 he established a trading store at Pond Creek, Oklahoma, and conducted it a number of years. It was an important supply point for the Indians of that vicinity, and also for both the white men and the Indians during the high tide of the industry of buffalo hunting on the plains.

When Judge Thomas Sears Huffaker died at his old home in Council Grove, July 10, 1910, that event closed the career of one of the most remarkable of early Kansans. He was born in Clay County, Missouri, March 30, 1825, of a pioneer family in Northwest Missouri, and moving to Kansas in 1849, five years before the organization of the territory, his subsequent career was such that he was called “the grand old man of Kansas” first in Indian affairs and then in politics and public matters. He went to Kansas as a missionary teacher at the Manual Training School in Johnson County, but about two years later, in 1850, moved to Council Grove, where he was given charge of the Kaw Indians, who had recently been transferred to their reservation in the Neosho Valley. At Council Grove he founded a mission school, and the building is still one of the picturesque landmarks on the banks of the Neosho. It was built under the supervision of Mr. Huffaker in 1850, and was largo enough to furnish quarters not only for school but also for the residence of the teacher and his family. The school was opened in 1851, but the enterprise was not successful, since few of the Indians would allow their children to attend, and after a few years the school was abandoned. However, Judge Huffaker remained and soon became a man of importance in the community. He was one of the three incorporators of the City of Council Grove in 1858, was appointed the first postmaster, and soon afterward Territorial Governor Reeder appointed him president of the county commissioners. He was next elected probate judge of Wise County, his jurisdiction extending over portions of several adjacent counties of the present time. He later served two terms in the Kansas Legislature. Judge Huffaker was a Missouri slaveholder, and took his slaves with him to Kansas, but after the Kansas troubles had eventuated in the Civil war he took the side of the Union, and during the last forty years of his life was a stanch republican. He had come into Kansas as a missionary under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and the old Kaw Mission School was founded jointly ‘by that church and the United States Government. He was also a member of the Masonic Order. At the time of his death Judge Morehouse of Topeka described his personality in these words: “He was stately of bearing—like a judge. The Indians regarded him as ‘ father,’ accepting his decrees without murmur. Called to settle the many difficulties of the early days, he always was careful to learn both sides, and so advised as to make no enemies. He was rewarded by the love of all.”

The widow of Judge Huffaker and the mother of the Fairfax merchant is still living at her old home in Council Grove. She was born at Salem, Illinois, in 1836, and is one of the splendid pioneer women of Kansas. A year or so before the death of Judge Huffaker her career was chosen as the subject for a beautiful article by a Kansas writer, who wove her story into a collection of articles describing notable Kansas women. A few sentences are taken from that interesting sketch before introducing the career of the Fairfax business man, who has so many reasons to honor the memory and character of his noble mother: “On May 6, 1852, there was a wedding in the stone schoolhouse at Council Grove. The bride was a girl of sixteen. By her picture of the day she must have been a pretty girl, for her face is handsome at seventy. Her maiden name was Eliza A. Baker, and one of her brothers, Jesse Baker, was one of the victims of the border ruffian days in Morris County, Kansas. She was born in Illinois in 1836. She had lived in Iowa, where her father was blacksmith for the Sac and Fox Indians, and now at the age when our girls are beginning to talk of sophomore class parties, she became the wife of a frontiersman in the trackless Indian country. A missionary on his way to Mexico, a Rev. Mr. Nicholson, performed the ceremony. The duties of a home keeper, always strenuous on the frontier, were multiplied for Mrs. Huffaker. In the old stone house her children were born, and there a school for white children was soon opened. Council Grove, at first a mere trading point on the Santa Fe trail, had grown to be the trading point, then a village and later a city and county seat in the center of a rich productive valley. The old stone house began to serve other purposes. Travelers, explorers, missionaries and state officials slept under its roof when they came hither. The Civil war came and passed and then came fifteen years of fear of the plains Indians. The old schoolhouse became by turns council house, school building, church and fort. It was a refuge for the defenseless, where women and children fled to the stronghold for protection. Lost in the duties of wife and mother, housekeeper and teacher, friend and neighbor, Mrs. Huffaker’s years ran by. In all the stirring days of border strife and Civil war and the Indian peril, she bore her part. In the old stone house where she became a bride one May day, she lived through the scenes of territorial and state making. Children grew up in that home and went out to make homes for themselves. There are no great deeds to be set in bold faced type against Mrs. Iluffaker’s name. Her’s was the silent story that is written in good deeds and measureless influence, and yet her name was one of the very first to suggest itself to me when I conceived the idea of gathering together the names of the women of the State whose stories appealed to ine.”

At the death of Judge Huffaker six children survived him: Mrs. J. H. Simcock of St. Louis; Mrs. Louis Wismeyer of Fairfax, Oklahoma; Mrs. Fred B. Carpenter of Topeka; Homer Huffaker; and George and Carl Huffaker.

In Council Grove Homer Huffaker spent his youthful days until 1892, then a boy of seventeen, he came to the Osage Reservation with his brother-in-law, L. A. Wismeyer. He had attended the local schools and had grown up in a home which inspired in him the best qualities of manhood. He became an assistant at Gray Horse in the Osago Nation to L. A. Wismeyer in the trading store, and remained in that locality until 1903, when he joined in the business exodus from Gray Horse to the new railroad town founded by Mr. Wismeyer and named Fairfax. For two years Mr. Huffaker was assistant cashier in the Osage Bank of Fairfax. When the Wismeyer Mercantile Company was formed and incorporated he became its secretary and treasurer, and was identified with the concern in that capacity for ten years. In 1913 he organized the Big Hill Trading Company of Fairfax, and is now its president. This firm carries a large stock of general merchandise, and has extensive trade relations both with the white and Indian population around Fairfax. In many ways Mr. Huffaker has been identified with the business and civic upbuilding of Fairfax since it was founded. In 1907 he added to the improvement of the town by the erection of the fine home in winch he and his family now reside. He has also acquired farming and stock raising interests in that locality.

In politics he has been a republican voter for twenty years. In 1912 he was elected county commissioner of Osage county, served as chairman of the board during his first term, and was re-elected in 1914. He was also chairman of the first delegation which chose a representative for Congress from the Osage country, and assisted in nominating former Congressman Bird S. McGuire. Mr. Huffaker is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, belongs to the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, and is also a member of the Elks Lodge of Pawhuska.

In 1900 he married Miss Erma Robins Bates. She was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, September 29, 1879, was partly reared in Cairo, Illinois, and at the age of six years went with her parents to Council Grove, Kansas. Later her parents removed to Kansas City, Missouri, where she lived until her marriage. Her parents are W. T. and Mary (Hall} Bates, who are still residents of Kansas City. Her father is a railroad man. Mr. and Mrs. Huffaker are the parents of three sons: Thomas Bates, born June 23, 1906: Homer Hall, born October 22, 1908; and Darwin S., born August 10, 1912. Mr. Huffaker is a master of the Osage language, and readily acquired fluency in that tongue within a short time after coming to the Osage country.


Herman Jones and Junior Jones on the Wenas Valley Ranch

Herman Jones, b. 1906 in Arcola, Dade county, Missouri, was the son of Levy Jones and Jessie Brewer Jones, sister of Bettie Brewer Noyes. Herman is shown here with his son Junior Jones on the ranch in the Wenas Valley of Washington state that Junior used to manage in the early to mid 60s. The yellowed photo is wonderful as it is and needs no retouching.

The photo is courtesy of Jim and Dieanna Swearngin.

Herman Jones, Junior Jones, and an unrelated Jones

W.W. Baker Talks Interestingly of Fifty Years Ago Knew the Indian chief Wapello

William Baker, b. 1828, was the husband of Isabel Frances Hackney b. 1828, sister of our William S. Hackney who married Mary Jane Enlow. Baker was the son of Joshua Wells Baker, who worked as a blacksmith on the Sac and Fox Reserve.

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The Ottumwa Courier


W.W. Baker Talks Interestingly of Fifty Years Ago
Knew the Indian chief Wapello

Sax and Fox Indians were a Proud Race–Far Above the Average in Intelligence–Keokuk Was a Great Orator–Head Dress of Chieftains

W. W. Baker who has recently returned to Ottumwa for a short visit after an absence of over 50 years spent in the far west, talks entertainingly of pioneer times in the vicinity of Agency and Ottumwa. In 1838 his father came to Agency as one of the government officials. Mr. Baker was at that time a boy of about ten years of age.

This territory was at that time occupied by the Sac and Fox Indians. The Indian agency or council room as it was called, was a log hut which is still standing about one mile east of the present town of Agency. It was here that the elder Mr. Baker was located and here that the boy grew to be a personal friend of Blackhawk, Keokuk, Wapello and all the less famous chieftains of the Sax and Fox Indians. Mother Blackhawk, as the wife of the famous chieftain was called, was a frequent visitor at the Baker home. She was a great friend of the children and they played with her and sat upon her lap many a time.

Indians Very Proud

Mr. Baker met Blackhawk only a few times but with the two sons and Keokuk he was well-acquainted. With Wapello the chieftain for whom this county is named and whose grave is at the old agency council room, he was an intimate friend. Mr. Baker speaks very highly of the Sax and Fox Indians. They were far above the average, physically, mentally and morally of all the western tribes of Indians. They were a proud spirited race. You could not hire one of them to work for you or do chores. It was impossible to persuade one of the tribe to wear cast off clothing or to even put on a garment any one else had ever worn. The only condescension in this matter was when the chieftains occasionally wore military uniforms given them by the government officers, to the council chamber when they came to treat with the officials. When the council was over the uniforms were instantly removed.

The head dress which the chieftains wore when the sat in council with the officers was striking. The Indians were skilled taxidermists. A raven, head and body and tail was prepared,, its body split and used as the head covering; the tail feathers hanging down the back and the head extending to the front. Round headed, polished tacks were inserted for the eyes. At night in the old log council room when the swarthy chieftains squatted about in a circle, togged out in all their barbaric splendor with this raven black head dress, the brass eyes shining in the flickering candlelight, the scene was truly an uncanny one.

Sax and Fox Distinct tribes

The Sax and Fox Indians were two distinct nations, yet they lived together under one general government, or rather chieftain. The great chief was chosen sometimes from one sometimes from the other nation. In the two nations there were 2,200 individuals divided into eighty-two tribes each with its own chieftain who held definite rank. At the time the great warrior Blackhawk was chieftain, Keokuk became chief and Wapello second.

Mr. Baker remembers these three chieftains as magnificent specimens of physical manhood. Keokuk in general intelligence outranked the others. For an Indian he was a brilliant man. He was one of the most famous indian orators that ever lived. The indian orator spoke slowly, stoically. Not so with Keokuk. He was fiery and impassioned. He spoke with wonderful rapidity. When aroused and heated his Indian grunts and gutteral intonations sounded like the rattle of drum sticks. He was a hard proposition for the interpreter who found it impossible to keep pace with him.

Tribes Receive Annuity of $82,000

The territory about Agency and what is known as the Iowa prairie about Eldon was formerly the home of the Iowa Indians. But after the Blackhawk war an annuity of $82,000 was given to the Sax and Fox Indians. The manner of paying this money to the eighty-two tribes was unique. There were two traders dealing withthe Indians, J. P. Eddy, an independent trader, who founded the village of Eddyville, and Bill Phelps, who represented the American Fur Company. These traders gave credit to the Indians and when pay day approached placed their accounts against the Indians in the hands of the Indian agent, who at that time was General Street, the man who later founded and established the Courier. The money transaction took place in the council room. Upon a large rough table, arranged down the center of the room, were placed eighty-two boxes, designated one each for each of the chieftains. In each of the boxes was 1,000 silver dollars. Nothing but silver was acceptable to the IIndian. He would not receive either gold or paper. When a chieftain’s name was called he arose, came forward,reached out and placed his hand for an instant on the box indicated, and then returned to his place and squatted down in the circle. His touching the box was the official act by which he accepted the money for his tribe. After all had been accepted the agent paid to the traders what was coming to them from the various tribes. It was seldom that anything was left in the boxes, but when such a circumstance did occur the money was turned over to the chieftain to be distributed.

Mr. Baker tells many interesting stories illustrating the habits and the customs of the Indians as he knew them in and about Agency. A few of these will be given to the readers of the Courier in Saturday’s supplement.

J. B. Mitchell is Honored on Founders Day (Nov 26, 1931 news article on Missouri Valley College)


Portrait of James Bourne Mitchell

Thanks to Jim Mitchell for the scan of the news articles and the image of James Bourne Mitchell’s portrait. Below is my transcription.

J. B. Mitchell is Honored on Founders Day

M. V. C. Conducts an Impressive Program Yesterday

Founders Day at Missouri Valley College was observed yesterday, beginning in the morning at Stewart Chapel with an impressive program in honor of the Rev. James Bourne Mitchell D. D., who for many years was president of McGee College and then was very influential in the building of Missouri Valley.

Dr. L. N. Evrard of the faculty of the college paid high tribute to Dr. Mitchell as an educator, minister and gentleman. In accepting an oil portrait of Dr. Mitchell for the college, Dr. George P. Baity of Kansas City, president of the board of trustees added his praise from a personal knowledge of the entire Mitchell family.

President George H. Mack presided at the services. After an organ prelude by Dean Claude L. Fichthorn, of the school of music, the invocation was pronounced by Rev. B. P. Fullerton of St. Louis. Dr. Arthur E. Perry of Marshall read the scripture lesson. President Mack introduced Dr. Evrard, a former dean of M. V. C., and present head of the English department, who presented an interesting biographical sketch of Dr. Mitchell and a eulogy of his life.

Organized McGee College

Beginning his Christian experience in 1836, James Bourne Mitchell definitely decided to enter the ministry and in 1841 was received under the care of a Cumberland Presbyterian presbytery, thus affiliating himself with a group in which he was a powerful figure until his death. In 1845 he was ordained to the ministry and was pastor of the Bethel church in Monroe county for several years. Cumberland leaders completed arrangements for the organization of a college in McGee presbytery to be known as McGee college. This country preacher who was wonderfully educated in spite of the lack of college courses, was called to be first and only president of the institution, one of two institutions of higher learning in Missouri until 1874 when the college was closed due to adverse financial conditions over the nation as a whole. Very soon after he was made a member of the first committee of the Cumberland Presbyterian church to consider union with the U.S.A. branch, which was consummated five years after his death.

Worked Without Compensation

Still later he headed the church educational commission which laid the foundations for the present Missouri Valley College. Dr. Black once said, “Without the devoted spirit and unselfish work of Dr. Mitchell, Missouri Valley College would never have had an existence.” After intensive labor by the commission members, Dr. Mitchell alone traveling two-hundred days without compensation in behalf of the new college, M. V. C. was founded with an endowment of $104,381.08, a building fund of $60,000 and a deed to forty acres of land for the campus. The spirit of this work done by Dr. Mitchell has certainly been influential in the history of Missouri Valley and promises more victories for that institution in the future.

In paying tribute to this remarkable man yesterday, Dr. Evrard said, “He became a great scholar, though he never had a college course; a great religious thinker and preacher, though he never attended a theological seminary; and he became a great man because he had princely qualities of self command. He was all of these because he was an indefatiguable worker, never idle. He learned to be master of himself.” These words constitute a real tribute to a worthy man.

Presented Portrait

Mrs. Llewellyn Jones, ’02, presented to Missouri Valley College an oil portrait of her illustrious grandfather.

In the presentation speech Mrs. Jones gave a very personal and touching insight into the home and private life of Dr. Mitchell, giving intimate glimpses of old-fashioned family reunions, the old family home at Kirksville with its colonial architecture and large flower gardens, and the love this man had for all those surrounding him in the congenial hospitality of the old home. As Mrs. Jones formally presented the portrait the audience stood as two other grandchildren, Mrs. Charles Tooker and Miss Martha Mitchell, unveiled it. Miss Mildred Alice Mitchell, a great granddaughter of the honored man and a future student for Missouri Valley, placed a memorial wreath upon the portrait easel. The presentation was in the name of the three living children of Dr. Mitchell, Mrs. B. P. Fullerton of St. Louis, Mr. Lon S. Mitchell of Kansas City and Mr. Orlando M. Mitchell of St. Louis.

In accepting the portrait in behalf of the college, Dr. George P. Baity who heads the board of trustees, spoke of his personal association with Dr. Mitchell and praised him for the way he invested his life so excellently in his home, family, school and church. It was Dr. Mitchell that helped Dr. Baity decide to devote his life to the ministry. Speaking of the work of Rev. Mitchell he said, “Some labor and others enter into their labors,” showing from this the absolute devotion of the man to his task.

Following the singing of a hymn and awarding of honors by Dean Clarence L. Miller the benediction was pronounced by Rev. Russell D. D.

At moon a luncheon for old McGee students, graduates and friends of Missouri Valley was held in the dining room of Young Hall, followed by a reception in the parlors of that dormitory.

Honor a College Founder

Missouri Valley Pays Tribute to the Late J. B. Mitchell

(By the Star’s own service.)

Marshall, Mo. Oct 16 — Missouri Valley college paused today to do honor to its founder, the Rev. J. B. Mitchell, and to accept an oil portrait of him from his children, O. M. Mitchell, Kansas City banker; Lon S. Mitchell, Osceola, Ark., and Mrs. B. P. Fullerton, St. Louis.

Mitchell founded McGee college near Macon, the predecessor of Valley, and guided it from its founding in 1853 through the Civil War period. His three children and three grandchildren took active parts in the program. J. Bourne Mitchell, Kansas City grain broker, and Miss Martha Mitchell of Kansas City and Mrs. Llewellyn Jones, Independence, Mo., unveiled the portrait.

It was received by Dr. G. P. Baity, Kansas City, president of the board of M. V. C. Also taking part in the founder’s day were Mrs. J. W. Lyman, 3312 Holmes street; Mr. and Mrs. William B. Young, 316 West Fifty-sixth street and Mr. and Mrs. R. T. Morrison, West Fifty-ninth street, all of Kansas City.

UPDATE: Mitchell Noll has contributed a picture of the family present at this event. He’s unable to identify all in the photo (is hoping others will be able to assist). He does note, “I do recognize Orlando MITCHELL (2nd man from left on back row). I also recognize three of the GUTHRIEs in the lower right corner (cousins).”

James Mitchell notes, “I recognize my great grandfather Orlando and his daughter Pat. Its on the Missouri Valley College campus. Guessing the guy in the uppermost left is Lon (Leonidas) and the young guy below him is James Bourne a grandson of James Bourne. These are guesses based on who was there.”

Thank you Mitchell and James!

Mitchell Family at Dedication

Mitchell Family at Founders Day

Mitchell Family at Founders Day

Mitchell Family at Founders Day

Photo of Dr. John Mitchell, son of James Bourne Mitchell


Dr. John Mitchell


Dr. John Mitchell (tinted)

Original photo courtesy of Jim Mitchell.

Dr. John Thompson Mitchell, born Oct 12, 1847 in Missouri, died Nov 4, 1912, settled in Kansas City. He was the eldest son of Rev. James Bourne Mitchell and Martha Cowden Dysart.

From the 1880 census:

MITCHELL John T. 32 b. MO physician father b. VA mother b. MO single
MAXWELL John L. 35 b. IL attorney father b. KY mother b. TN single

From the 1900 census:

1900 District 0021 Kansas City Ward 3, Jackson, Missouri
907/105/199 Mitchell John T. head w m Oct 1847 52 wd b. MO father b. VA mother b. MO physician
Glass, Lawrence A. Roomer w m Sept 1854 45 wd b. OH father b. MD mother b. MD bookkeeper
Felton Williamm T. Roomer w m Apr 1855 45 single NY father b. NY mother b. NY real estate agent

John married Ella May Moore on Feb 11, 1886. She died Oct 19 1887.

Photos of Orlando Mitchell, son of James Bourne, and wife, Clara


Orland Mitchell


Orland Mitchell (tint)


Clara Mitchell


Clara Mitchell (tint)

Original photos are courtesy of Jim Mitchell, a descendant.

Orlando McDavid “Lando” Mitchell, born May 5, 1865 in Randolph County, Missouri, died October 27, 1949 in Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri, was a son of Rev. James Bourne Mitchell and Martha Cowden Dysart. On Nov 20 1890 he married Clara Wilson, born Nov 25, 1864 in Pennsylvania, died June 20, 1910 in Kansas City. Their children were Horace Wilson Mitchell, born July 31st 1891 in Kansas City, Jackson Missouri, died January 11, 1984 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, and Martha Mitchell born June 1898.

“Orlando McDavid Mitchell, born May 6, 1865, died Oct. 27, 1948, married Clara Wilson. His business was banking, safe deposit and investment work. I must not forget fishing. He had the power of relaxing and lived longer than any of his brothers. He kept an account that was the Lord’s. He helped greatly at Missouri Valley College, investing its money wisely and drawing on the Lord’s account for its help.”

From a bio of James. B. MITCHELL written by a descendant

Orlando in the 1920 and 1930 census:

MITCHELL Orando 54 widowed b. MO parents b. OM Manager of Safety Vaults
FRAZE Adelaide F. lodger 36 widowed b. MO father b. Maryland mother b. MO
Madeline lodger 17 b. MO parents b. MO
DAVIS Ruby lodger 26 b. MO father b. Maryland mother b. PA bookkeeper at jewelry store
Nadine lodger 23 b. MO father b. MO mother b. IL
MITCHELL Martha daughter 22 b. MO father b. Michigan mother b. OH

MITCHELL Orlando M. own $6000 64 widowed b. MO father b. VA mother b. MO Safety Deposits executive
Martha E. daughter 31 single b. MO father b. MO mother b. PA
FRAZE Adelaide lodger 49 widowed b. MO parents b. MO
DAVIS Ruby sister 40 divorced b. MO father b. MO mother b. Maryland saleswoman in wholesale jewelry

Memoriam for Martha Cowden Dysart Mitchell, wife of James Bourne Mitchell

This memoriam for Martha Cowden Dysart Mitchell comes to me via Jim Mitchell (descendant of Orlando), who gives it as having been written by one of her sons:

Mrs. Martha C. Mitchell died at the home of Rev. Dr. and Mrs. B. P. Fullerton, her daughter, St. Louis Mo., on the 19th of Feb. last, and was buried in Kirksville Mo. on the 21st. She lacked only a few days of reaching her eighty seventh milestone – the longest earthly pilgrimage of any of her generation, save one. Her maiden name was Martha Cowden Dysart, daughter of Col. John and Matilda Dysart, and niece of Rev. James Dysart, than whom, probably, no other man ever made a deeper or more lasting impression on the people of North East Mo. Her grandparents were among the earliest communicants of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and emigrated to Mo. from Maury Co. Tenn. in 1818.

She was the eldest of ten children, but one of whom, Hon. B. R. Dysart, of Macon, Mo. is now living. On account of her mother’s delicate health, it devolved on her, at an early age, to take charge of the household. While this gave her a rich experience for the duties of coming years, it deprived her of the coveted privilege of obtaining an education, but she made the most of limited opportunities. She was married to the late Rev. J. B. Mitchell D. D., in Nov. 1846, and they reared a family of ten children, two of whom, Bettie S. and Robert G. Mitchell of Macon Mo., preceded her into the beyond. She professed religion and united with the church after marriage, and few ministers have been blessed with a more loyal, helpful and devoted wife than was she. These traits in her character shone with undimmed lustre during Dr. Mitchell’s last pastorate of eighteen years at Kirksville, and his previous long presidency of McGee College. Many ministers who were educated at that institution, with scores of other students – sons and daughters of the church – together with her husband, children, relatives, parishoners and a host of friends will rise up at that last day and call her blessed.

She inherited keen mental vigor and a capacity for good judgment from her paternal grandmother, for whom she was named, and these were much improved by constant effort to acquire knowledge. But it was not till her children had gone out from the family home that she gave evidence, by papers read in the Ladie’s Missionary Societies and her correspondence, of possessing such rare ability, both in thought and expression. Here was a busy life, but she employed the few spare moments in gaining and assimilating useful information, which born rich fruit in her autumn years. One of her most cherished desires was to educate her children, and to her, no labor was too hard nor sacrifice too great to accomplish this end. She was a worthy companion of a beloved minister who was for many years a leader in the educational interests of the church, and who, for more than half a century took an active part in it’s councils.

She was a life long reader of the Bible, and during her declining years it was her daily companion and constant source of comfort. Her faith was not of the ecstatic type, but was calm, firm and practical. Even during the last years of her life, she was an active worker in the benevolent Societies of the church, until increasing infirmities confined her to the home. Her mind was active, and she was interested in the affairs of life up to her fatal illness. At times she suffered intensely, but often spoke her gratitude for the care and comfort her children gave her, especially her two eldest daughters. She was devoted to her children, and this mother’s devotion included their companions and the grandchildren. The funeral service was conducted at Kirksville by Rev. W. H. Johnson, of Callao Mo. who with his parents and grandparents were numbered among her friends. He truly said that the occasion was one for rejoicing rather than of grief, for she was a ripe sheaf ready for the harvest, and had been for years patiently awaiting the summons to join her many loved ones who had gone before. The casket was borne to the grave by her four sons and two sons-in-law, and laid to rest amid a profusion of flowers, of which she was always fond, by the side of him who was her loving and devoted companion for fifty-five eventful years. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yes, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.”


Martha Cowden Dysart Mitchell – Tribute and Obituary

Courtesy of Jim Mitchell who sent me the scans of an obituary and tribute published in a newspaper (name not preserved) on her death. Below is my transcript of the two pages.

A Loving Tribute to Mrs. Martha C. Mitchell

A writer has truly said: —

Each day some pearl drops from the jewel of friendship; — some lyre to which we have been wont to listen, is hushed forever.” This is confirmed today as we mourn the passing away of Mrs. Martha C. Mitchell. But why mourn.

“Call it not death, ti’s life begun,
The warfare is o’er, the victory is won.”

Surely the character of the “worthy woman” so beautifully portrayed by the pen of the inspired Kingly writer, is as a royal robe fitted to be worn by Mrs. Martha C. Mitchell. The christian traits of kindness, charity, wisdom and dignity constituting the warp and woof of this heavenly garment were hers. As a wife she possessed the loyalty of Sarah. “The heart of her husband safely trusted in her.” Miriam–like she was ever ready to acclaim the praises of Jehovah. Emulating Hannah she early brought her children to Jesus. Like Martha and Dorcas she labored industriously for the advancement of the christian faith, thus “Doing with dilligence whatsoever thy hand findeth to do:” While the crowning glories and graces of the Marys sweetly adorned her brow. Well may her chldren “rise up and call her blessed.”

Doubtless the fruits of her life met her at the gates of pearl, and now in heaven in the presence of unveiled Deity in celestial light she sees and knows the love and power that led her safely home.

(Illegible) G. W. Sharp, Mrs. W. C. Templeton, Mrs. H. L. Harris, Mrs. Minnie Willow, Mrs. W. A. Dodson, Mrs. Sam Guthrie, Mrs. F. L. Link, Mrs. H. J. Bailey, Mrs. D. C. Pierce, Mrs. Maud Allen, Mrs. W. T. Baird, Miss Althea Ringo, Mrs. P. J. Rieger, Mrs. S. F. Stahl, Mrs. J. D. Forsythe, Mr. Robert Lorenze.

This tribute written by Mrs. G. W. Sharp accompanied the flowers presented by members of the old Missionary Society of which Mrs. M. C. Mitchell of precious memory was a member.


Martha Cowden Mitchell (illegible) in Howard county, Missouri, March 5, 1825, and passed from this life to that beyond at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Dr. B. P. Fullerton, in St. Louis, Mo. Feb. 19, 1912. She was the oldest of ten children of family of John and Matilda Dysart. Her father came to Missouri in his early manhood in the year 1818, having been born in Tennessee in 1799. His parents affiliated themselves with the Cumberland Presbyterian church in his early history.

Mrs. Mitchell was an extraordinary woman, she possessed fine natural abilities; her opportunities to secure an education were very meager indeed in her youth, but she made the most of her advantages. She was united in marriage to Rev. J. B. Mitchell in November, 1846, professing religion and joining the Cumberland Presbyterian with her husband after their marriage.

Here has been a life of loving labor and sacrifice for her husband and her children, ten of whom they reared to manhood and womanhood. Her husband was called to his reward nearly eleven years ago, after they had traveled life’s journey together for nearly fifty-five years. To of her children, a son and a (illegible) preceded her to (illegible) more than a quarter (illegible) were spent in this city of Kirksville as the wife and co helper of one of its most devoted and beloved pastors. She was a noble helpmeet and her life and character was a living epistle to all who come into the spirit and acquaintance of her influence. As the wife and co-laborer of a pioneer missionary and minister, the influence of her life was far reaching, and many who have become useful (illegible) have rejoiced (illegible) over their lives. As (illegible) Israel, truly beloved and (illegible) esteemed, many rise up and call her blessed. A source of strength and support to her husband, an indefatigible worker in the church, yet probably the greatest work of her life was giving to the world a large family of industrious, useful sons and daughters. They are as follows:

Rev. B. P. Fullerton, D. D. son-in-law, Mrs. B. P. Fullerton, Lon S. Mitchell, of St. Louis, Mo.: Judge Henry Johnson, son-in-law, Mrs. Henry Johnson of Purdin, Mo.: Rev. J. W. Mitchell, of Marshall, Mo.; Henry Banister son-in-law and Mrs. Mary Banister, of Memphis, Mo.; Dr. J. T. Mitchell and O. M. Mitchell, of Kansas City, Mo.; Mrs. Susan McDavid of Coffeen, Ill. Mrs. McDavid and Mrs. Banister, the oldest and youngest daughters of Mrs. Mitchell, were unable to be present. The two sons from Kansas City did not reach Kirksville in time for the service, but were present at the interment.

The funeral service was conducted from the former Cumberland Presbyterian church of Kirksville, by the Revs. W. C. Templeton and William H. Johnston. The latter spoke sympathetically and tenderly from a long and intimate acquaintance with Mrs. Mitchell. Deprived so far as circumstances permitted she had been a mother devoted and beloved to him. A beautiful live has been lived; a pure and wholesome example has been given to the world. Her work has been completed and she has heard the call to come up higher and hear the plandit from the Master. “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

The interment was in the Forest Park cemetery, where beside the remains of her husband and daughter all that was mortal to this good woman was laid to rest until the coming of the resurrection.

Transcribed by J. M. Kearns

Letter from Robert Gwyn Mitchell to James Thompson Mitchell, June 2d 1903

Thanks to Jim Mitchell who sent me a scan of R. G. Mitchell’s typewritten letter with his signature. Below is my transcription.

Macon, Missouri, June 2d, 1903

Dr. J. T. Mitchell, Kansas City, Mo.

Dear Brother: —

You will find enclosed a card and a letter which I have just received from mother. You will notice she suggests that I send the same to you and that you, after you have read them, send them to William.

I have just written her and also Callie. Callie wants Mother to spend the winter with her. I have not talked with Mother about it, but I want her to have her own wish about the matter. She is welcome at my house and I am arranging to have it more comfortable for her than it was last winter.

The floods that you are having must be very distressing from the paper reports.

We are all well. I have written Mother and Callie too, in very strong language against her going to Kirksville. There is no necessity for her going there to take care of an old house.

I think that it is best for you also to write her and suggest that she had better not try to go back to take care of that house. There is no reason why she should not have an easy time living around among the children just as she would desire, for any of them would be glad to have her at any time or all the time. Love to you from all of us and to Orlando’s family.

Come to see us. Your brother,

R. G. Mitchell

Robert Gwyn, the third son of Martha Cowden Dysart Mitchell, is writing his eldest brother concerning their mother, Martha Cowden Dysart Mitchell, who was about 78 at the time. William would have been the Revd. James William Mitchell, the second eldest brother. Callie would be Louisiana Caroline Mitchell Fullerton, the second eldest daughter. She was in St. Louis, Missouri. Robert Gwyn Mitchell was then living in Macon, Missouri with wife Lena Bell Carhart and children Margaret and Robert.


Robert Gwyn Mitchell, letter 1903

Letter from Martha Cowden Dysart Mitchell to her Son, Robert Gwyn Mitchell, June 1 1903

Coffeen June 1, 1903

Dear Robert,

I don’t want you to loose sight of me entirely. I came over here May 21. Have written to Callie to meet me in St. Louis Thursday June the fourth. Aunt Mary McDavid is here since saturday. Will remain while I am here. She is cheerful as you could expect, so soon after Willies death. Talks very freely to me about her business and prospects. She is two months younger than me. Not one black hair. Her head as white as cotton. Says she will stay in the hotel with Mat, as long as she treats her right but would rather live to herself if she had someone to live with her. I don’t blame her for that. I find all the land she has any claim on is morgaged even to her home in Hillsborough. She thinks not too near its full value. Says Mr. McDavid had 900 acres, but she only has a claim on three forty’s. All morgaged. Wants to sell part to secure the rest, especially the home in Hillsborough. With that and her pension she could live. Mattie still expects to run the hotel. Pays $50 per month for the first year $75 per month after the first year. Without any furnishing. Five years lease. Aunt Mary furnished the hotel carpets and everything she thinks with little over $2000. Jimmie says $2500. That is what became of all the morgage money she could raise. Says she had to do it so Willie and Mattie could have some way to make a living.

M. C. M.

Enclosed you will find a card so you will see it is necessary for me to go to Kirksville soon. When you read this send it to John. John send it to Willie so you will all know where to find me if you wish to write.

M. C. Mitchell

Thanks to Jim Mitchell for the typewritten transcription of the original letter. My transcription of the typewritten letter is above and is exact.