Stephen Picton in a Historical Context
Local Information and Nearby Welsh Immigration Stories
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The Stephen Picton Family immigrated from Wales in 1870. This took a lot of courage considering that the Civil War had just ended 5 years before and all the other things that happen in the area. They immigrated into a Welsh community located a few miles south of the Nebraska - Kansas state line between Falls City, Richardson County, Nebraska and Hiawatha, Brown County, Kansas near a small town called Padonia, Kansas. The Missouri Pacific Railroad built a rail line passing through Hiawatha, Padonia and Falls City in 1881 and Padonia is still a railroad stop. The railroad was built 11 years after Stephen Picton settled there and Jesse James
the outlaw was shot at St. Joseph, Missouri 12 years after he settled there. The Stephen Picton Family settled on a farm a couple of miles Northeast of Padonia. The Padonia area is about 5 to 10 miles from the "Sac and Fox" and " Iowa" Indian Tribe reservations (
Chief White Cloud was their Chief). Chief White Cloud fought at the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War with his picture in the 75 year Gettysburg Anniversary book (he attended the 75 year anniversary celebration) and died when I was young). Padonia is about 7 miles from the Nemaha River, 8 miles from the mouth of the Pony Creek, about 10 miles to
Albany, Kansas- (a description of a town similar to Padonia),
about 10 miles from Falls City, Richardson County, Nebraska, about 10 to 15 miles from the Missouri River, about 10 to 15 miles to Rulo, Nebraska, about 25 miles to Stella, Richardson County, Nebraska, about 60 miles to St. Joesph, Missouri (where Jesse James had his outlaw hideout) and 60 miles to Nebraska City. I grew up along Pony Creek Road. The people who made up the Welsh Settlement are now all gone and other people have come into the area and they are now gone and again new people have come into the community and Padonia is now more of a Mennonite Community.
Traveling here was by train to St. Joesph, Missouri from the East. There was a train that ran from St. Joesph to Hiawatha. For Missouri River travel, Mark Twain in his "Roughing It", said: "We were six days in going from St. Louis to St. Joseph, Mo., a trip that was so dull and sleepy and eventless, that it has left no more impression on my memory than if its duration had been six minutes."
Life was not easy in America. Stephen and Eliza Picton had there son David Picton die in a hunting accident at age 6. In 1874 their was a grasshopper and locust invasion. Stephen farmed with oxen until 1876 and then he bought a horse. In 1882, the Picton family built a new and bigger house. Stephen and Eliza Picton had four more children after coming to America. In 1886 Stephen and Eliza went back to Wales for a visit. The trip cost $305. Stephen's favorite pastime was singing. Finally, near the end of there lives, they were able to have Bethel Baptist Church built about a mile from there farm.
History surrounding the area where the Stephen Picton Family settled had some adventure and violence. Could Coronado have come here in 1541 searching for the Land of Quivera? The Lewis and Clark Expedition came up the Missouri River in the 1804-1806 time frame. The
for smuggling slaves in "Bleeding Kansas" from 1857 to 1861, was a trail (marked with rock
piles known as Lane's chimneys) built by Gereral James H. Lane and called
Lane's Road followed several paths with one passing through Padonia to Falls City and another passing through Albany, Kansas to Salem, Nebraska. Lane's Road ran from Lawrence, Kansas through Padonia, Brown County, Kansas, then near or over Pony Creek, then through Falls City, Richardson County, Nebraska to Nebraska City. The name of the street that the highway takes through Falls City is now called Lane Street. "Bleeding Kansas" was a dangerous place. John Brown personally used this Underground Railroad to smuggle
slaves to freedom by taking them through the Brown County area to Falls
(Slavery in Nebraska)
where he hid slaves on the Underground Railroad (one then would go through Padonia to get to Falls City). John Brown sparked the American Civil War by his actions in other parts of the United States and was hung for this. He is considered by some to be a heroic martyr and one of the more important people in American history because he give his life for freedom of the slaves by actions which he intentionally took to free the slaves. Others consider John Brown a terrorist.
Abraham Lincoln gave a two hour campaign speech in 1859 at Troy, Kansas (about 25 miles away) when he was running for President of the United States. At this time, John Brown was executed while Abraham Lincoln was visiting Kansas.
Pony Express went through the area in 1860-1861. There was a Pony Express station every 10 miles from St. Joseph, Missouri and the route passing somewhere near Hiawatha toward the Pony Express Station of
Rock Creek Station near Fairbury, Nebraska (a distance of about 100 miles). Could Pony Creek between Padonia and Falls City have been given its name by its relationship to the Pony Express?
Wild Bill Hickok
(a famous character of the Wild West) at the Rock Creek Station was reported to have shot three men to death in 1861, just 9 years before Stephen Picton arrived.
Padonia was the site of a bloodless Civil War skirmish called the
Battle of Padonia.
During the Civil War, Confederate Soldiers were captured in the Padonia area and there were problems in the Falls City and Salem area. Lawrence, Kansas of the underground railroad was the site of the Civil War
in 1863 where about 200 men and boys were massacre.
Padonia is now just little more than a
and is on a list of Kansas Ghost Towns.
Other Welsh families in about 1867-1868 immigrated to nearby areas in Nebraska such as Rulo, Nebraska and Northeast of the Stella, Nebraska area. Additionally, the towns of
are on the Missouri River, were river towns and the nearest stopping points for steamboat traffic. River towns were often considered to be a place of a lot of fights, drunkenness and not a very safe place. Also, White Cloud had an Indian Reservation. I am sure from 1870 to the time of the death of Jesse James in 1882, that Jesse James would go through this area, traveling to do various bank robberies. Some stories on other nearby Welsh immigration and settlements are related below. The Stephen Picton family immigrated in 1870.
Aerial Map of Padonia area- Stephen Picton farm about 2 or 3 miles Northeast of Padonia
Stephen Picton Family Immigration from Wales to Kansas- by Mrs. Lewis Morgan, 1957 (revised by Owen Picton)
Newspaper article related to the 1870 Stephen Picton family departure to America- poor Google translated from Welsh
List of some Padonia neighbours- in 1883
Memories of Sam Picton- (my Father) by Owen Picton
Lewis and Clark Expedition 1804 Notes- as they explored the mouth of the Nemaha River
This is maybe 10 or 12 miles from where Stephen Picton settled when he came to America a little over 65 years later. I would guess that all the elk and buffalo had been killed off before Stephen Picton arrived. Roys Creek is a small creek on the lower (South) side referred to and where my Dad, Samuel Picton used to play when he grew up and where he learned to swim. The Padonia to White Cloud Road ran over Roys Creek at the time of Stephen Picton. There are still descendants of Stephen Picton farming near Roys Creek. Notice how Clark describes the land and vegetation in 1804. That describes the vegetation when Stephen Picton arrived and it is still the same now. At the mouth of the Nemaha River, there is Sand Stone cliff and that is the place where Clark says he carved his name and date (his name and date do not exist today). At that location on the Missouri River in 1804 the Lewis and Clark Expedition held a court martial for a soldier sleeping on sentry duty and sentenced him to one hundred lashes on his bare back at four different times starting in the evening for four evenings. How punishment has changed.
Lewis sailed the Missouri River with a Sextant just as one would sail the ocean. Clark has two writeup's for each day. The first are his notes and the second is his writeup for the book that was published. You can put in other dates by going to the web site above. July 10, 1804 brings up the a writeup for the day they arrived at what is now the Nebraska - Kansas state line. Other members of the Expedition also have notes. Floyd was the only member of the Expedition to die. He died at what is now Sioux City, Iowa of what is believed was appendicitis.
William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas - published in 1883- Coronado Exploration in 1541 and the search for the Land of Quivera (Mythical Cities of Gold)
Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska - published in 1882- Coronado Exploration in 1541 and the search for Quivera.
'Hail and Wind Storm'
Here is a description of such a 'Hail and Wind Storm' in 1541 by Coronado which could just as easily have happen today: 'One evening, there came up a terrible storm of wind and hail, which left in the camp hailstones so large as porringers and even larger. They fell thick as rain-drops, and in some spots the ground was covered with them to the depth of eight or ten inches. The storm caused, says one, many tears, weakness and vows. The horses broke their reins, some were even blown down the banks of the ravine, the tents were torn, and every dish in camp broken.' In this case, our environment has not changed much in almost 500 years. It is possible that the Stephen Picton family experienced such a storm, but maybe not as bad. My son in 2014 had such a 'Hail and Wind Storm' and the insurance company paid out to him large amount of money to repair the damage.
Could Padonia be located within a few miles of where Coronado visited in 1541 searching for the Land of Quivera? The description of the vegetation and land match, but no one knows
where it was? The Kansas Nebraska state line is on the fortieth
parallel of latitude. Coronado used a sextant and sailed the prairies
to what he says was the fortieth parallel of latitude. At another place
in Coronado's writeup, he said that he stood on a high hill top and
looked down on a very very very great river (Maybe this was looking down
from a high bluff on the Missouri River near White Cloud, and where our
Nebraska Kansas state line starts). Each person pushes for there own
favored location for the Land of Quivera. This search for such a
mythical land has been the inspiration for a number of movies and comic
books. Some of the farm ground that Stephen Picton paid $10 an acre for in 1870, now may be worth up to nearly $10,000 an acre. Maybe Stephen Picton really settled in the Land of Quivera.
Padonia Township, Brown County, Kansas at the present time- A Wikipedia Writeup
The founding of Padonia consisted of ten Welsh families.
Read Article on David Evans- He was founder of Padonia
Welsh History and Immigration Stories
Kansas and Nebraska
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