Charles Robert McCandless (1841-1915)
|Charles Robert McCandless|
|Born:||14 Nov 1841 Barron Co., Kentucky|
|Died:||10 Dec 1915 of South Haven, Kansas|
|Siblings:||Charles Robert McCandless|
|Married:||21 December 1868|
Frances Ann McCandless|
Magdala Margaret McCandless
Helen Forrest McCandless
Mary Elizabeth McCandless
Malinda Thomasina McCandless
Thomas M. McCandless
Nena Patsy McCandless
Charles Franklin McCandless
Catherine Berriman McCandless
|Spouse:||Martha M. Newberry|
By his daughter, Malinda Thomasina McCandless
With notes [in brackets] added by her Grandson, Gerald H Curtis
"My Father, Charles Robert McCandless was born 14 November 1841 in Barren County, Kentucky. He was the son of Alexander McCandless and Frances Brockman, daughter of Ambrose Brockman and Nancy Sims. He was the tenth child of a family of eleven children.
"His Grandfather, William McCandless, emigrated with six brothers from Scotland or Ireland. He lived on a large plantation in Barren County, Kentucky and owned many slaves. They also had a family burying ground, but no tombstones to mark the graves.
"At the age of twenty, [about 1861] he enlisted in the confederate army on September 1st, 1861, at Glasgow, Kentucky, in Company H, 6th regiment, as a private. He served under S. B. Buckner. He fought in many battles. He was taken prisoner in 1864, but escaped. He was in the battle of Shilo, Tennessee for two days. Badly wounded in the left arm, he was sent to a hospital in Holly Springs, Mississippi, for treatment. When he was released he rejoined his regiment at Vicksburg, Mississippi, but was then discharged on account of disability.
"He was 72 years old when he gave this information and could not remember the names of all the battles he fought in."
"He then hired out to Reverend Thomas Dodson, my Grandfather, who had moved from Russell County to Barren County, Kentucky. He worked for the Reverend Dodson for quite some time.
This was when he courted the Reverend’s daughter, Martha. They were married by him in his home on September 21st, 1868, in Barren County, Kentucky. Their first child, Frances A. McCandless was born 1 October 1869.
“About 1870, there were many who were talking of the wonderful opportunities to be had in Kansas. Both of my parents had several brothers and sisters that were married and anxious to try their fortunes in a new country. They all secured covered wagons and the tools they would need in the new country. Some rode horses ahead, to find the best roads and good water. They first stopped near Ottawa, Kansas. They all settled close to each other, to be safe from the Indians, except for one of Robert’s sisters and her husband, who went further west.
“But not being satisfied there, they moved on south, near the southern boundary line of Kansas and the northern boundary of the Indian Territory. Here he homesteaded a farm of 160 acres, which was about three miles southeast of the nearest town, South Haven. Mother and Father were the oldest settlers in that section and well known for miles around.”
[Note: This would place the farm approximately 1 1/2 miles from the southern border of Kansas. The “Indian Territory” she refers to would later become the state of Oklahoma. When they first settled on the farm, they lived in their covered wagon until her father carved out a dugout. They lived in that for well over ten years until he could build them a house.] She states:“There were seven girls in our family, and only one boy. All we children were born in the dugout except for Fannie, the oldest child, [actually Frances Ann, who was born in Glasgow, Kentucky in 1869, the year before they moved to Kansas] and Charles Franklin and Catherine Berriman, the two youngest children. By this time the house had been completed and our brother was the first to be born in the new home.
“Father had become very friendly with the Indians and they often came to visit him and stayed all day. Father tried to keep on the best of terms with them and whenever they came to visit him, he always gave them some corn. When Margaret [their second child] was born there, on 27 May 1871, the Indians came from far and near to see a white baby and to hold it, if only a few minutes. The Indians were delighted to see her and thought her something special. [Her real name was Magdala, but she didn’t like it and asked to be called Margaret]
“Father’s farm was the Southeast section, 160 acres, of a mile square section of 640 acres. Ours was the choice section, as a creek ran diagonally through the farm, and the trees grew large, supplying all the wood we needed for cooking and heating. One of father’s sisters was living with us until she married John R. Slane on 19 August 1883 in our home. We small children were sent to the barn to play instead of watching the marriage. We were told they jumped over the broomstick to be married. I often wondered about that and would think of many ways about how it could be done.
“On the Northeast corner of the farm was a very deep pond where we could fish. We had many a catfish for dinner from that pond. Then, just below the deep pond was our swimming hole, where we spent many happy hours in the water. We loved the water and when we were not working, we played in our swimming hole.
“I think it was the best farm in the area. A friend, Zelma Miller said, ‘Where the black walnuts grow, the soil is good.’ There were so many walnut trees growing along the creek that every fall the children would take the team and wagon and gather a wagon-load, which lasted the family all winter."The North Meridian line from pole to pole ran along the East of our farm. The two first schools were built on this Meridian, the North Meridian, where we attended school, and the South Meridian, about three miles apart.
"My Father built his house near the main highway from Texas to Kansas City, Missouri. On this road men from Texas drove their cattle, sheep, or hogs north to the nearest railroad, or on to the Kansas City Stock Yards. These cattle from Texas were the celebrated Long Horns. We children would stand at our gate and watch them pass by. Sometimes they would be hours passing. We had two good dogs and never an animal got into the yard. [Note: In later describing the "running" for claims, she again refers to this road as "the main highway."]
"When my father first went to southern Kansas, he raised cattle and herded them in the Indian Territory. Sometime before the territory was to become a state, men who kept cattle in the territory for grazing were ordered to take them out. Our pasture was too small to keep them in, so I herded them during the day and drove them into the pasture at night, until father could dispose of them. Father had good crops, too.
Our entertainment often came from neighbors gathering at our house. We had an organ. One neighbor had a banjo; one a violin and one had a guitar. We would sing and have music till we tired of it, and sometimes we would have a taffy-pull or pop corn.
[Note: For an interesting description of the typical settler’s life in Kansas in 1870, see: http://skyways.lib.ks.us/genweb/wilson/library/biography/auntpet.html ]
“We girls did not like the farm and the older girls were scattering. Margaret [the nickname for Magdala, her second oldest sister] had gone to Wichita, [about forty miles north of the farm] where she had been teaching school and learning Short Hand and Typewriting. She had secured an excellent job there and Helen and Doll followed her. [Note: Dolly was their nickname for Mary Elizabeth.] Father and Mother did not like it, so they bought a twenty-room hotel in South Haven to keep as many of us girls at home as they could, and we moved in.”
[Note: South Haven was the town nearest to the farm; about three miles northwest.]
She continues: "Fan [actually Francis], the eldest, did the cooking. I waited on the tables and Pauline [actually Nena Patsy] took care of the rooms. By the second day we were ready to serve meals. We did not have many customers at first, but Fan [her oldest sister, Frances] was a good cook and it soon got around. Within a few weeks we were doing a good business with boarders and transients. Nearly every evening someone would come in and would want to eat. Fan and Mother did all the cooking and buying. I waited on the tables and Pauline [actually Nena Patsy] took care of the rooms. I had a large dining room to care for besides waiting on customers. I had all I could do and do it well. It was not long till we all had all we could do.
"Many funny things would happen. For example, there were two Catholic drummers who came to Wellington once a month. [Wellington was the county seat, about fifteen to twenty miles north of South Haven] While there, they would always call ahead and order what they wanted to eat that night. The train always arrived in our town about 9:00 P.M., so we always had time to cook what they wanted. It was always roast pork, with potatoes and gravy. Our normal business was over by 8:00 P.M., so no one else saw what they ate. There were of the good Catholic ones, and how they ate their pork! If there was any left over, they asked to have it for breakfast. [I don’t understand why she thought this was funny, unless she was confusing them with Jews.]
“We had many political rallies in those days, when the congressmen or senators were out making speeches in their behalf. These people always came to South Haven to campaign. They had a large territory to draw from and everybody came from miles around. It was a big thing. The first one was Sockless Jerry, running for Congress. He always drew a large crowd and we had all we could do and more. We provided cold drinks and sandwiches galore. People ate and drank while the Congressmen made speeches and jokes. Everybody had a good time, eating, yelling and drinking. I kept a tub of ice water handy, for it was always in the summer when they came, and it took lots of water. We had lots of these rallies and everyone had a good time. We always had a good business, too.
"Our business grew until we had to have help. Especially me. After working about three or four years at the hotel, my health gave out. I was getting stooped and coughing all the time. We had a doctor boarding with us and he said I was going into ‘consumption,’ [tuberculosis] and would have to quit waiting tables. Father and Mother tried for a long time to hire a good person to take my place waiting tables for us. They had several applicants, but they were no good. It made Father, Mother and Fan discouraged. Then they had a good chance to sell the hotel and so they did.
"Fan then went to Wichita where the other girls were, and I stayed with Mother and Father. It was not long till I longed to be in Wichita with the rest of the girls.
“About 1905 or 1906, we girls tired of the farm and joined Margaret (Magdala) in Wichita, Kansas, who was working for the Van Zant Implement company as a stenographer. Our parents stayed on the farm. My oldest sister, Fanny and I kept private boarders and we had a very good business.
“After Mother’s death, Father’s sister lived with him for some time. She was getting very feeble and he took her into his home. They lived together for two or three years until she passed away. Father became very restless. [She didn’t name which of his five sisters this was, but three years later, in the 1910 census, his widowed sister, Mary Ann Slane was living there with him on the farm.] He did not want to stay home alone, but he was too restless to stay with us. [At Francis’s boarding house in Wichita.] We tried to get him to stay with us, but he was never satisfied. He would come to Wichita and stay with us a few days and then go home. He would come and go, not knowing what to do. He was not content anywhere. He would not stay with us and he would not stay alone. He kept this up for some time – perhaps a year or more. Margaret and I had planned to go to Colorado Springs on a vacation and we decided to take Father with us, thinking that would take his mind off the plantation. It worked for a while, but he was about as restless as before we went.
“One day in 1911 he came up with a solution. He said he had been talking with some men about the banana plantations in Central America and the southern part of Mexico. The plantation [he wanted to visit] was in the most southern part of Old Mexico. He wanted to go and see it and that part of the world. He wanted to come back home by way of Cuba, then to Florida and the southern states. We laughed at that kind of a trip and thought that if that did not cure him of being restless, nothing would. I thought it would be a wonderful trip and help him to forget losing Mother. Fan thought it would be good for him to get away and see a little of the world. I thought it was all the world by the time we got home.
“We thought it was too much of a trip for him, [he was now about 70] but he decided to go whether anyone went with him or not. We all talked it over and they all gave him the permission to go – but not alone. I did not want to go, but there was no one else that could go with him. He offered to pay half of my expenses if I would go with him, and I agreed. Fannie and I got maps and studied them, which was of no use to us, because even though it was much farther than he had expected, he was determined to go. We talked it over with him and planned what was best to do and how long it would take. We made out an itinerary and got all the information we could. In a few days we were ready to go. We took as little as possible so we would not be burdened with luggage. We each had one suitcase apiece.
“We got on a train at Wichita, Kansas, to go to El Paso to get a train to Mexico City. We arrived in El Paso in the early afternoon. We took in all the sights in El Paso while waiting for a train to Mexico City. There was not much to see in El Paso so we crossed the river into a little Mexican village. [Most likely this would have been Ciudad Juárez.] The first thing I saw was the old people, wrapped in blankets and lying on the streets. We went all through the little cathedral. All of the posts or pillars were hand carved. They were beautiful and worth seeing. They also had some nice pictures. [She probably means religious paintings.] The shops were not interesting, so we did not stay very long.
“The next morning we boarded our train for Mexico City. Father was like a child – thrilled to the nth degree. Father had never had a trip since coming to Kansas from Kentucky. [That would have been about forty years before.] I was glad to see him happy and have his mind off his worries.
“Our trip was uneventful except for the peons. Our train stopped at every little watering place. As soon as the peons from the ranches would see a train coming, they would come running, just swarming around the train, begging for anything they could get. I can hardly believe one thing I saw. It was a little girl about twelve, who stopped at my window. She had nothing on but a gunnysack with a hole in the middle for her head to go through. I thought she was holding a monkey in her arms, but as the wind blew the shawl away from it, I saw it was a baby. It had nothing on. It was a pitiful sight. I was told they live just as animals do. We had peons meet the train every time it stopped. I hope that by this time the peons can live as human beings.
“We arrived in Mexico City in the early afternoon. When our luggage was taken off the train, two twelve year-olds boys grabbed them and ran away. Father called for them to come back, and then he ran after them, waving his arms. Father was tall, with long arms and legs. He looked like a Dutch windmill. He looked so funny that I had to laugh. But I was not the only one laughing. Everyone seemed to be laughing at the picture Father was making. The commotion brought the police and when the boys saw them, they dropped the two suitcases. How they did run!
“With the help of an interpreter, everything was all straightened out. They called a cab for us, with an American driver and told him to take us to an American hotel, where we received excellent service. We could talk with him and learn what were the best things to see. We had a good supper and a good night’s rest. Then the cab driver took us to all the interesting places. I wanted to see the President’s Palace, Chapultepec. He said it was always closed on Wednesdays, but he took us all over the Palace grounds and would tell us all about the different things. I never saw such a beautiful place as the grounds were, including the different and gorgeous kinds of birds. He took us about every place of interest to us.
“We spent two days sightseeing in Mexico City. We walked from the hotel to the big cathedral; I will say TEMPLE! It was very interesting, with beautiful pictures like I saw at the world’s fair in St. Louis. Shortly after we got home, I saw in the papers of an earthquake they had in Mexico City and the temple (Catholic cathedral) was almost destroyed. I enjoyed our stroll along the streets to see the stores and the women that did handiwork. It was so interesting. The food was very good and we enjoyed everything.
“With a good night’s rest, we were ready to be off. The scenery was wonderful – nothing like America. No farms with stacks of hay. No farmhouses. And the men were plowing with oxen and wooden plows. That is the first time I had seen oxen take the place of horses. Along about noon we passed some pyramids that looked like those in Egypt. About the middle of the afternoon, we passed close to that big mountain, Pecatepet. [She was most likely referring to the Popocatépet volcano.] When we came to the base of the mountain, Popocatépet, we had to lay overnight to get our next train. The mountain was 40 miles south from Mexico City and is 17,883 feet high. It was covered with snow, but where we were the climate was balmy and delightful. The orange trees were full of ripe oranges and flowers were blooming everywhere.
“Our next stop was Cordoba, where we stayed the night. When we went into the office we were surprised. A large rattlesnake skin was draped over the doors and windows, across one side and one end of the room. It was an awfully big snake, and frightening to all of us. The man told us it was the biggest snake ever killed in that country. We finally calmed down after we looked at if for a while. But we had another fear. We were very close to the base of the Popocatépet volcanic mountain. All we women were uneasy; afraid it would erupt. I believe it did erupt about two weeks after we were there.
“Next morning we got on our train to go to the plantations. It was not long until we arrived at a large river called Rio Tonto where a motorboat was waiting for us. There were about eight passengers. The river was beautiful. On both sides were trees in bloom. There were also many vines in bloom, hanging down like veils. It was a beautiful sight to see. There were many at the docks to see the new passengers arrive. The place was beautiful, with new grass, weeds and brush all around, with just paths to walk in. We all ate together. There was one big drawback: the mosquitoes were terrible. Everyone else smoked to keep them away. Neither Father nor I smoked and it was hard for us to endure it. Our cabin wall was screened in and that was our salvation.
“We spent one day there. Father went out with a group of men to cut bananas. I wanted to see more of the plantation so I took a walk, following a road along the river. I loved it. It is a beautiful country. The banana plantation was very large. I could not see the end of it. Not far from where I was I saw a very large house. It looked like it was made of brick and three or four stories high. I did not want to get lost, so I turned and walked back along the river. I would have loved to stay and fish. I love to fish and I would have had all the fishing I wanted.
“The next day, when Father came back, he said the mosquitoes were eating him up and he was ready to leave. If the mosquitoes had not been so bad, we would have stayed longer, but we decided to be on our way.
“This was the first trip Father had ever had and he wanted to see the world. Since he had never been away from home, he asked me how I would like to go home by way of Cuba and Florida and have an ocean trip! That meant crossing the Gulf of Mexico! But since he was footing the bill, I was in favor of going back that way. I really hated to leave that country, but I thought that would be just fine.
“The train we were waiting for took us to Vera Cruz. We arrived in time to eat our lunch and get on our boat. She was a beautiful sight to see. It was the first ship I had ever seen. We had passage for New York, stopping over in Havana, Cuba. We got on and were taken to our rooms and they were as clean as a new pin. I did not see Father’s room, as he seemed to be in the section for men. He came to see me several times. I shared a lovely room with a young lady. She was busy reading and paid no attention to me and I never spoke to her.
“There were some books in my room, but they did not interest me. I wanted to see all I could of the boat. I put my time in looking at everything I could see, and there was a lot to see. My room was close to the door that led to the dining room. In fact, I could see a good portion of it. I could stand in my doorway and see all of the ocean, it seemed like. I could stand on the deck and look at the country we were just leaving. Yucatan was the closest and I could see it very good. I learned that they had several passengers to pick up there, but they could not go in on account of the high waves. The men seemed to be working on the ship, getting it ready to cross the Gulf of Mexico.
“The boat set sail about 1:00 P.M. Everything was going fine and we had smooth sailing till about 3:00 or 4:00 P.M., when the wind began blowing quite hard. Just then a waiter came to our room, announcing that dinner was being served, and asking what we wanted to eat. The young lady who shared my room ordered a potato salad, with plenty of onions and oil on it. He looked at me and I told him that I wasn’t hungry yet and I would eat in the dining room later.
“He soon came back with the potato salad. It smelled so good that I got hungry right away. By the time she was half done, I decided to go and eat. I only got as far as the door when a terrible blast of wind struck the boat with tornado force. I ran back to my bed as the boat was blown high in the air and turned over on its side, with passengers, food, and dishes following. Every time the boat turned [over], all that was on the floor followed. From my bed I could see into the dining room, where all the food and the men at the tables had fallen to the floor. Some of the waiters were on the floor too. No one could stand up or get up. They were making the most horrible cries and groans I had ever heard. Then another blast came and the boat went the other way. So did all that was on the floor.
“The woman in my room was so sick that she threw up all she had eaten and was still trying to throw up more. She was screaming as loud as she could. Two men rushed in and caught her in mid air as she fell from the upper bed. Boy, was she sick! It took two men to hold her on her bed. I heard one man say, ‘I am glad this is the only one,’ and then he looked away. The smell from the dining room almost made me sick.
“There was a doctor on the upper deck, but he could not come down till he had his passengers cared for. He did come down and gave the woman in my room something to quiet her but the medicine would not stay down. When he was through with those in the dining room, he came to see me. I was laughing, it all seemed so funny. He sat down beside me and asked me why I did not get sick. I told him I did not eat anything. ‘You were lucky, and wise too!’ he said. He told me all those on the upper deck were worse than those on this deck, because they had all eaten first. I did not eat and I was not sick. But I did get deathly sick when I tried to stand. I asked the doctor what the storm was. He said it was a typhoon, and a big one at that. He said he had been with this line for twelve years and had never seen anything like this one.
“Father was still in the mens section, but he came to my room to see how I was. We talked for a while and then he left. We knew each other were okay and would be all right. The storm continued until late the next afternoon. What an experience! I never want to see anything like that again. The next day, about seven or eight passengers from Yucatan were brought out on a tugboat. Two men stood at each end of the boards, holding onto ropes. They held the hands of the passengers until they could take the hand of the man on the big boat. As the big boat went downward, the tugboat went up, then the passenger would run across to the man on the big boat, who would reach out and grab their hand. I do not see how they could cross; it was so dangerous. To me it looked like a boiling hell. The next morning the boat started on its way. I was so glad. I was tired of being bounced around and I was getting so weary. In about twenty-four hours we got to Cuba.
“Yellow Fever had broken out in Mexico, so all who got on the boat from Mexico were put in quarantine until the officials were sure we did not have it. We were put on that high island that almost surrounds the bay – the island the Moro Castle is on. We were taken upon a high hill, overlooking Havana Bay, in back of the Moro Castle, a fort defending the bay. We could sit there, above the harbor and watch men working to raise the battleship Main. They did raise it two weeks after we were there. They took it out in the ocean and sank it again. . [Due to is hazard to navigation, Congress authorized the raising of this ship on 5 August 1910. It was actually raised on 2 February 1912.]
“There was a long table in the dining room where we ate. They served us delicious food. Father and I, being Americans, were treated royally. We were seated on one side of the table and all the rest on the opposite side, with the man in charge. No Mexican was served till Father and I were served first.
“A group of tourists passed our cabins going to see the Moro Castle and other things. I stepped in line as the last passed our cabins. I was so glad I did, as I wanted to see the castle and the view from the top of that big hill. I walked all around and through the castle and I saw all over Cuba and miles and miles east from Cuba. It was a wonderful view. I had thought that Cuba was one lone little Island, but looking east as far as one can see, there were islands and more islands. It was a wonderful sight to see. It was worth being in quarantine to get to see it.
“I think we were there for three days when they took us to Havana. There was a boat leaving for Key West, Florida and as we were growing weary, we decided to go on and not stay to see Havana. On the way to Key West the water was so clear in places we could see the bottom and all kinds of fishes, some of them very large. At Key West, we took a train for Fort Lauderdale. The town was not very large and there was nothing to see but the Everglades. We joined a group that was going out to see them in a motorboat. All I could see was alligators sliding from the banks as we rode along. Everything else was brush and high grass.
“The next morning we started for home on the train. It was in November and nature had put on all her beautiful colors that the south is noted for. [There is a serious discrepancy in time and chronology here, as the raising of the Main occurred in February 1912. Since their trip was concluding at the end of 1911, perhaps she meant to say that it was raised two or three months after they were there, rather than two weeks.] As we came over the hills in the south, the conductor told us to look out of the window. All the leaves had turned to their colors. It was a beautiful sight. It looked like the whole world was in bloom. We were glad when we got home. Neither of us wanted to take another trip!”
"Father came to Wichita and stayed with us girls for awhile. Then he went back to South Haven, Kansas. In a short time he married a Mrs. Martha Newberry Johnson, a lady he had gone with in Kentucky before he met my mother. They were married at South Haven, Kansas on 5 June 1913 and lived together a little more than two years before he passed away on December 10th 1915.”
She concludes her story with this testimonial to her father’s character:
"My father was converted to the Baptist faith at the age of 18 years. He was a charter member of the Baptist church of South Haven, Kansas. He read his Bible faithfully. I never heard my father say an obscene word or tell an obscene story."
THE OBITUARY OF CHARLES ROBERT MCCANDLESS
Charles Robert McCandless was born November 14, 1841, died Friday, December 10, 1915: age 74 years, 26 days.
He was married December 25th, 1868 to Mattie [Martha] Dodson, and to the union was born 8 children – seven girls and one boy, all of whom are living.
His first wife died July 6, 1906, and he was married again June 5, 1913 to Martha Johnson.
He was converted at about 18 years of age, joining the Baptist church at Pleasant Ridge, Kentucky.
He came west in 1869, living in northern part of the state two years, then moving to South Haven where he has resided ever since.
He was a charter member of the Baptist church in this city.
The last few years of his life he was much devoted to the study of the Bible. He was earnest in wishing to do the Lord’s will at all times.
There are left to mourn his loss, his [second] wife, Martha [Newberry] McCandless, Fannie and Maggie McCandless, and Mrs. D. M. Dickson, of Wichita. Ella and Pauline McCandless and Mrs. D. H. Somers of Chicago, Illinois, Mrs R. E. Baird of LaGrande, Oregon, and C.F. McCandless of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Funeral services were held Sunday afternoon at the Baptist church at 2 o’clock, conducted by Reverend Plumb, of Blackwell [Oklahoma].
Interment in Rose Hill Cemetery.
Those attending the funeral from a distance were: Mrs. D. M. Dickson, Fannie and Maggie McCandless of Wichita, Mr. And Mrs. H. E. Horne, Mr. and Mrs. Wells of Braman [Oklahoma], and Mrs. Childress, of Wellington [Kansas].
- 1880 Federal Census, South Haven, Sumner, Kansas:
- McCandless, Charles, head, married, male, white, 38, KY, Farmer, KY, VA
- , Martha, wife, married, female, white, 34, KY, Keeping House, NC, NC
- , Francis A., son, single, male, white, 10, KY, At Home
- , Magdala, daughter, single, female, white, 8, KS
- , Hellen F., daughter, single, female, white, 6, KS
- , Dolly, daughter, single, female, white, 4, KS
- , Thomas M., son, single, male, white, 1, KS
- Lots of others not family but carpenters