Bill, The following appeared in Major Sleeth file...I just added this to different Newman files inasmuch as I did not have it earlier. MAW October 11, 2000.
[From Arkansas City Traveler, September 23, 1920.]
The following letter was written by Maj. W. M. Sleeth to his brother, David Sleeth.
Emporia, Kans., October 20, 1869.
Brother Dave: We arrived here on the next Tuesday after we left Mr. Hastings, being one week on the way. Had to stop at Nashville and then got a ticket to St. Louis and our baggage checked to that place but when we got there our baggage had not come with us. I then got tickets to Topeka and ordered the baggage to be sent to that place as soon as it came up and it did not come to Topeka till Saturday, and then we had to remain there till Monday. We have had quite a winter since we came here. Monday night it snowed—about two inches on the ground, last Tuesday morning and the weather has been very cold ever since. Last night it froze pretty smart. It is much warmer today. It has been the coldest weather that I ever felt in any country in the middle of October. The citizens here make great apologies about the cold. They say they never saw the like before. They hold out the idea that this is a very mild climate, especially to persons coming from the north.
I found Newman, Houghton and company here. They are in the dry goods and grocery business, have two houses, and are doing a very heavy trade. Newman told me that Houghton and himself had cleared about $4,000 apiece in the last year. I also found Jim Harris at Topeka. He used to work for Bill Johnson and was in the 78th O. V. I. during the war. He said he had been here about a month. He came out to look at the country and was so well pleased he was going to stay. Since the war he has been foreman in Blandy’s machine shop at Zanesville. He is going down to Wichita on the Arkansas river next week and I expect to go with him.
I like the appearance of the country very much but timber is very scarce, none at all only on the streams; many places you might look as far as you could see in every direction and not discover a stick or twig of any kind. But the land is the richest and prettiest I ever saw and they have the finest crops of corn I ever saw grow in any country. Don’t think I saw any (unless it was sod corn) that would yield less than 50 bushels per acre and much of it 75 or 100, and they claim to make from 20 to 45 bushels of wheat per acre and other productions in proportion.
There is a great immigration here and the country is just full of land buyers and speculators and land is going up rapidly. We had to travel 15 miles by stage and the country we passed over I don’t think one acre in every two hundred had ever been cultivated, but it was all taken up and held by speculators and they ask from $2 to $10 per acre for it according to quality, etc. Many are going farther south and west.
I think this a very good point even better than Topeka, the capital of the state. Two railroads will soon be built to this place and both very important ones. And others are in contemplation. I have no doubt but this will be the railroad center of the state. Property, land, etc., is advancing very rapidly here.
Yesterday in conversation with a real estate agent, he advised me to go into the stock business. Men can follow it and not own a foot of land. Pasture and hay is free to everybody, but when he found out that I was a mill man he had a chance by which I could make $10,000 in one year. He had a farm of 284 acres of which 100 acres had the finest timber in the country. He asked $35 per acre for it and claimed that timber land would make 35,000 feet of lumber and 60 cords of wood per acre. Lumber if worth from $3 to $5 per hundred feet, and wood is about $6 per cord. He would engage it all at $5 per cord.
Everybody is busy here and all appear satisfied and say they are doing well. All with whom I have talked say the milling business is the best of the country—they buy wheat at from eighty cents to one dollar and grind it and sell the flour at $5 and $6 per hundred pounds.
I wish you were here. I think we would do much better here now than any place else I have been. Harris has been talking to me about milling. I did not give him much satisfaction. McLaughlin is here and is going to stay. I presume we will stay in Kansas too for a while at least, and I am very anxious to get at some business. Maybe I am too anxious.
NOTES BY RKW ABOUT MAJOR SLEETH.
Major Sleeth’s claim of 160 acres would now be bounded by Birch Avenue on the north, F Street on the west, Chestnut Avenue on the south, and Green Farm Road on the east.
His first residence was at 325 South Summit, Arkansas City, Kansas.
RKW found that the following story (which came from an oral source) was not true.
Albert A. Newman, like Major Sleeth, was an early settler. After coming to Arkansas City, Mr. Newman ordered a grist mill and a saw mill to be delivered from the east. When they were delivered to Arkansas City, they were to be placed at the Walnut River on East Kansas Avenue. The saw mill became mired on the crude dirt road and Newman tried to extract it for two weeks. Newman became so disgusted that he sold it to William Sleeth who extracted it.