From Butternuts to the Rocky Mountains
Ottawa, Kans., Dec. 4th, 1884

by Francelia Celestia Young-Brown-Carr ©

 

EDITOR JOURNAL: -- (The material below has been copied from the August 13, 1942 issue of the Otsego Journal, Vol, LXVII, Gilbertsville, New York, Front Page, first two columns).

     "The following is a rather interesting letter clipped from the files of the musty old Journals of the 1880's. It tells the tale of Butternuts folks uprooting themselves from this lovely valley in the east and hieing themselves toward the setting sun to plant the family tree in the land of ten gallon hats and clinking spurs.

     After a lapse of 58 years, and all the while gathering dust shaking down from the cobwebby beams by the deep rumblings and hoarse growls of the old country Campbell press, this article was read with interest by me, I think perhaps you will enjoy it too."
  

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

     "If I understand aright some remarks from our editor, which I saw in the Journal some time ago, he expressed a wish that friends journeying from that place write something instructive or entertaining, or both, for the readers of the Journal. I can try to fulfill that request, with the pleasing assurance that if not readable it will in all kindness find the waste basket.

     Leaving Otego [not Otsego] on the night express for the West, Sept. 16th [1884], I recall nothing of special interest I saw or heard in [New] York State, unless it might be the fact that at Elmira I had the pleasure of quite a chat with our former citizen, Hobart Benedict, who stated that never before had there been such a crowd at that place as the week before at the State fair, with the prospect of hearing a speech from the Governor Cleveland, Mercury 96 in the shade. He looked hale and hearty in the early morning, and believed Cleveland would be the next President. Of course, those enormous oil tanks, scattered along for miles, and sometimes not so scattered either, in the western part of [New] York State and northern part of Pennsylvania, were quite a sight to people who had never seen them, and the interest increased when told that they connected with New York City by means of pipes, not always under ground for I saw them above the surface several times. In Indiana I think, perhaps Illinois, as we were nearing chicago, we noticed that the cars were just creeping along very carefully, and upon inquire learned that we were going over a spot where a short time before a freight train in passing gradually sank in the earth so that it was with difficulty they were extracted, indeed they were obliged to abandon the last car and let it sink entirely out of sight. 15,000 car loads of dirt were drawn and deposited to fill the depression, that with other repairs cost the company several million dollars. It was supposed a little lake was underneath which caused the trouble. We changed cars only once before reaching Chicago, thirty hours after leaving Otego. changing there for the Rock Island road we sped along on our journey, crossing the great Mississipi [sic] at Rock Island over a bridge more extensive that in often seen, through Iowa and Missouri as far as Kansas City, was a ride of nearly twenty hours, with no change. the long, beautiful bridge over the Missouri river gave us a fair view of Kansas City on the opposite bluffs. Kansas City lies mostly in Missouri, but partly in Kansas, containing 80,000 inhabitants, elevation 766 ft. Our arrival at Kansas City just at that time was inopportune. It was the last day of the State fair being held there, and such a throng and such confusion I never witnessed before at any station. It was estimated that 50,000 people were there from surrounding country. We could hardly find a train and certainly not our trunks, and were glad to have them rechecked to be sent when found, otherwise we should have failed to reach Le compton [Lecompton Ks] in season for our anticipated reunion at the house of my daughter, Carrie Keezel. After our arrival the next train from the west brought my son, Clayton Brown, who completed the expected number, nine of us, mostly from Butternuts, my children and grandchildren. How widely we had been separated, north, east, south, and west. Shall we ever meet again? After a stay of two weeks, Carrie and myself started for Ft. Collins, Colorado, reaching Denver by the Kansas Union Pacific in 20 hours, a distance of 600 miles. Oh, what a rich agricultural country we passed through he first ten hours. Large and beautiful cities passed in quick succession, great corn fields from ten to several hundred acres, stacks and stacks of wheat, and hay too plentiful to stack, put up in long ricks, fifty tons more or less in a rick, still haying all through October.

     Eastern people tell a great deal about the sham cities West. Let me say that from Laurence to Hays, a distance of two hundred and fifty miles, we passed through twelve cities from one to twenty-three thousand inhabitants, and Denver has 70,000. Manhattan has a large agricultural college.

     The shades of evening kindly shut out our view of the surrounding country ere we passed into that portion of the Great American Desert, not yet reclaimed from its wildness. But the first dawn of morning awoke us to the consciousness that we were to see the sun rise upon a vast prairie, so entirely void of tree or water, and consequently of inhabitants, that the prospect seemed drear enough, but soon every other thought was forgotten in the fact that looming up in the distance was the Rocky Mountains. Yes, Pike's Peak covered with snow was plainly discernible. Although perhaps a hundred miles away, so deceiving was the distance, some of the passengers remarked several times, "We must be near Denver, don't you see the city?" when it was only the broken mountain peaks reflecting the sun's rays through he fog. It was beautiful to look upon. Denver has an elevation of 5,203 ft. It is an old city, but has increased in size and population rapidly with ten years, and seems to contain every thing modern that can be produced or procured anywhere. A long ride in the street cars gave us a glimpse of large, costly buildings, and from the glass fronts of the stores we saw a fine display of goods of all descriptions. It seemed were were in some large eastern city instead of so far west. but for freshness and beauty give us Greeley, 14 years old, population 3,000. when the celebrated Greeley colony encamped there in 1870 not a house was to be seen, nor a tree, except on the bank of the La Poudra. Now the city is embowered in trees with irrigating ditches in every street, but best of all, it is every inch temperance. Not one drop of liquor sold in the city except for medical purposes. Twenty-five miles northwest of Greeley is the older and much larger city of Ft. Collins. There met us Mr. and Mrs. Abram Washburn, formerly of Butternuts, and a ride of three miles into the country brought us to their home, where lives my aged father, Arnold Young, who left Butternuts twelve years ago for Colorado. He is 90 years old, still able to take quite a walk every day, but too blind to read or write and too deaf to hear much. A ride of thirty-five miles into the foot hills of the Ricky Mountains over the old overland road to California, was the most interesting part of our journey. The little prairie dogs by the hundred, a little larger than a rat, running back and forth and dodging in and out of their holes, with a short, sudden bark, was truly amusing. We rose so gradually, passing from one valley through a canyon to another valley and so on, that an altitude of 8,000 feet, we could hardly realize an perceptible elevation. We passed the old state tavern, 12 miles from Sherman in Wyoming territory, not turning our horses heads until we had passed the boundary of that Territory. The main range so grand in its height and beauty, partially covered with eternal snow dazzling in the sun, still seemed but a few miles away, but we had received too sad a warning in the death of a young lady who sank exhausted in attempting to return after climbing Long's Peak, and froze to death before the guide could procure help, to attempt to gain the summit so late in the season. We passed several unique mountains, Table, Steamboat, Lover's Leap, and others that were wonderful. No two alike, and so varied and uncouth were the rocks piled together that the eye never tired, nor did the scenery ever fail to gratify us. We rode over a large irrigating ditch, blasted through solid rock 40 feet, costing one hundred dollars a foot. This ditch was a great many miles long, with many branch ditches, irrigating a large tract of country east of the mountains, where was raised an abundance of wheat that all day long for several weeks great loads were passing my father's on their way to Ft. Collins' Mills to be ground, sacked in cloth and sent away. Ere I close I must say, I did see some wild antelopes on the plains east of Denver.
F.C.C. -- Francelia C. Carr (Francelia Celestia Young-Brown-Carr)

Note: Otego is a town in Otsego Co., NY

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Facts ascertained from the article:
Arnold Young at age 90 in 1884 was born in 1794.
Arnold Young moved from Butternuts, Otsego, NY.
Arnold Young moved to CO in 1772 at age 78.
Arnold Young lived 3 mi. from Ft. Collins, CO. in 1884.
Arnold Young lived with Mr. & Mrs. Washburn.
Arnold Young was not a part of the original Union Colony
    established by Nathan C. Meeker, but was influenced
    to go west through Horace Greeley's slogan
    "Go west young man, go west!"
It is not known where Arnold Young moved first
    when he arrived in CO - possibly Greeley, CO.
Arnold Young's health at age 90:
    "He is 90 years old, still able to take quite a walk every day,
    but too blind to read or write and too deaf to hear much."
Arnold Young probably died ca. 1885/1888 in Ft. Collins, Larimer Co., CO.

Francelia C. Young-Brown-Carr lived in Butternuts, Otsego Co., NY in 1884,
   and returned there following her trip to CO.
Francelia C. Young-Brown-Carr was 52 years old in 1884 (born 1832-1895).
Francelia C. Young-Brown-Carr was educated.

Carrie Brown-Keezel was 29 years old (born 1855-1941).
Carrie Brown-Keezel was not yet married to P. Sherman Young.

Clayton Brown, Carrie's brother, lived west of Colorado.
Clayton Brown was 26 years old (born 1858).

Facts known, but NOT gleaned from article:
Francelia C. Young married Charles Preston Brown
    on 23 Aug 1853 Bolton, Warren, NY.
Charles P. Preston died 28 Nov 1864 in Civil War.
Francelia C. Young married Samuel R. Carr in April 1866.
Carrie Brown-Keezel was widowed on 2 May 1884.