Sunday, October 20, 2013

Railroad Building, 1875

Old engraving

I found this image of railroad building in America, Our Country by Smith Burnham and Theodore H. Jack, published by the John C. Winston Company of Philadelphia in 1934. I searched but couldn't find any copyright renewal for this title, so I decided the image was in the public domain now (as well as already being in the public domain when included in this book.)

(Large image: 736 KB)

After doing all that research on the copyright, I drug the picture into a Google image search and learned that there's a zillion copies of it on the internet already. I should have googled it first!

Originally, the image was a wood engraving by Alfred Rudolph Waud (1828-1891,) printed in Harpers Weekly on July 17, 1875. Images like this helped eastern readers imagine the West and the challenge of railroad building.

The Library of Congress describes the scene as a "...large work crew laying tracks for railroad, several covered wagons and other carts and wagons, work camp in the distance, and some soldiers and Natives resting in the foreground." My husband says that if anyone lived in those house-cars, it was the bosses.

Beaumont, Kansas: Railroad Town

A ghost town full of history

Beaumont's wooden water tower held
50,000 gallons of water!
Trains don't pass through Beaumont, Kansas, anymore. After it lost the trains, the little town died, bit by bit, and today, it is a genuine ghost town.  But in the days of steam engines, Beaumont was an important stop on the St. Louis, Wichita & Western Railway. Every train clanked and chuffed to a stop in front of the water tower. The steam engines' boilers had to be refilled, and Beaumont was the place to do it.

Beaumont was created by and for the railroad. The tracks were installed as far as Beaumont in about 1879. The train depot was the first building in town, followed by a general store. In 1880, a post office was established and the Summit Hotel was built. The water tower was built in 1885 (supplying water to the hotel as well as the trains,) and a roundhouse was built in 1890.

 A spur of the railroad ran from Beaumont south to Arkansas City ("Ark City") and into Oklahoma, and the main rail line ran from St. Louis to Wichita and westward.

If a locomotive needed service, it was moved into the Beaumont roundhouse, and a fresh locomotive was moved out and attached to the train. Up to 90 men worked at the roundhouse, servicing train engines and cars. Inside the roundhouse, the locomotives were parked on a giant turntable. The turntable moved the locomotives aside for work or storage and returned them to the tracks when it was time for them to leave.

Across the tracks from the roundhouse and depot, the Summit Hotel welcomed any travelers who needed a hot meal or a room for the night. The trains brought a lot of traffic to and through Beaumont. Homesteaders came west on the trains to settle in the area, and cattle from the Flint Hills were driven to Beaumont, loaded onto the train, and sent east. And there were many other travelers and freight going in both directions. The rails were modern transportation at its best.

The Beaumont Hotel today. I am not sure if the structure
still contains elements of the original Summit Hotel.
The hotel would be at far left in this photo, across the road
from the old store buildings, if I had been able to include it all.

Steam engines were used on the St Louis, Wichita & Western Railway through the early 1950s. In a curious overlap of transportation technology, the hotel added a grass airstrip during that same decade. A customer of the hotel liked to fly from Wichita to Beaumont in his small plane. It was dangerous for local drivers when he dropped out of the sky onto the road, so the airstrip kept everyone safe and happy. After he landed, he taxied into Beaumont, just like any other vehicle. (Keep in mind that Wichita, just 50 miles away, has been a manufacturing center for small planes for many years.)

My sister and I stopped at Beaumont and looked around last summer when we went out to Kansas last summer to visit my brother. These pictures are from that visit. (I admit that I'm "one of those tourists" who is always taking photos of the historic markers.)

Welcome to Beaumont
Story of the landing strip

Historic info about the tower
Hotel renovation in the 1990s

The water tower is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places.
Maybe the pipe was hooked to a
big hose to put water in the boilers?

I haven't come across any information about when the roundhouse ceased operation, but as a casual explorer, I saw no remaining trace of it. A hundred yards of train tracks still lie in front of the water tower, but the rail line was discontinued around 30 years ago.

The airstrip is still there, and the Beaumont Hotel holds a monthly "Fly-In" for small planes. They also hold monthly bike-ins for motorcyclists. They have a  formal dining room as well as the 50s-style cafe pictured below. And they have the great outdoors as well, so they can host all sorts of events. But I think staying at the hotel would be a nice get-away anytime. And if I ever do stay there, I hope the biggest event while I'm in Beaumont will be the tremendous peace and quiet we saw, felt, and enjoyed during this visit.

Tracks that go nowhere
Inside the hotel's restaurant

The Beaumont Hotel lobby has rustic wood furniture and accents.

Hotel boardwalk
The only ghost I saw.
Big shady lawn north of the hotel
Old store buildings
across from the hotel
I always hate to see
an abandoned church.
This handsome little building
may have been the post office.
More about Beaumont:

5 Feb 2014
Scott Shogren of Wichita, Kansas, shared this link to a 1905 map that shows the location of the Beaumont roundhouse. Thanks, Scott!

The map also shows the location of the hotel and the water tank so I'm able to orient myself from those. The roundhouse was located a couple of blocks east of the hotel, on the north side of the tracks. Livestock pens were located just west of the hotel also on the north side of the tracks.

Scott added, "I remember the Frisco trains. They really sped through that part tracks line."

Monday, October 07, 2013

Two Ordinary Patriots

Samuel Mapes (1735-1820) and Smith Mapes (1756-1830)

In 1775, just a few weeks after the Battle of Lexington and Concord,  Samuel Mapes and his 19-year-old son Smith Mapes signed the Revolutionary Pledge* in Ulster County, New York. Shortly thereafter, Smith and Samuel and dozens of their neighbors joined McClaughry's Regiment (the Second or "South-end" Regiment of the Ulster County militia.) As their signing of the Pledge expressed, they were "greatly alarmed at the avowed design of the Ministry to raise a revenue in America, and shocked by the bloody scene now acting in Massachusetts Bay..."

Militia Men

Ulster County, today. Photo by Doug Kerr.
Samuel Mapes was a farmer, and it is likely that Smith, his oldest son assisted in the farm work. Joining the local militia probably seemed more practical than joining the newly-formed Continental Army. Samuel had a large family to provide for.

But even militia men were called into the army as needed. "The militia was virtually State troops. They could be called upon for service in the army by the proper authorities at any time, and in such cases the colonel of a regiment was ordered to furnish a certain number of troops for a certain purpose, and the men were drafted from the whole number, and they in fact became as regular troops or the line of the army, after they were so drafted, for the time being." (History of the Town of Marlborough, Ulster County, New York, by C. M. Woolsey, page 107. Published 1908) And so various elements of the Ulster County Militia fought at Long Island, Saratoga, and other battles outside their home county.

Defending the County

The defense of the small frontier settlements in the western part of Ulster county was a huge problem. "The mountains in the west of Ulster pierced by the two branches of the Delaware, the Esopus and the Rondout, were peculiarly open to attack by such a foe as an Indian with the knowledge of a woodman and the cunning of a savage." (Olde Ulster : an historical and genealogical magazine. Vol 3, No.1, page 18, published 1907.) The Indian attacks were orchestrated by Torries and British, who sometimes disguised themselves as Indians and joined in the destruction.

In early 1777, a detachment from the Ulster County militia marched "under alarm" with Lt. Col. Newkirk to the frontier settlement of Peanpack in western Ulster County to combat an attack of this sort. Samuel Mapes was in the group of men. Another detachment, also in 1777 and also under alarm, was led by Major Phillips. Smith Mapes was in that group. (Revolutionary War Rolls of New York, viewed at

Meanwhile, the Patriots struggled with the British for control of rivers. Ulster County, a large region with the Hudson River forming its entire eastern border, saw a great deal of military action during the Revolution. Many militia men enlisted multiple times, serving when called, going to battle in their everyday work clothes, carrying whatever provisions, ammunition, and weaponry they possessed.

Kingston in Ulster County, at that time the state capital, was burned by the British during the war. And a British general justified his burning of Esopus, an Ulster County town along the Hudson's west banks, as entirely necessary because of the rebellious rascals who lived there.
On the 17th of October, 1777, General John Vaughan of the British Army, thus reported to his commanding officer upon his vandal deed of the preceding day: "I have the honor to inform you that on the Evening of the 15th instant I arrived off Esopus: finding that the Rebels had thrown up Works and had made every Disposition to annoy us, and cut off our Communication, I judged it necessary to attack them, the Wind being at that Time so much against us that we could make no Way. I accordingly landed the Troops, attacked their Batteries, drove them from their Works, spiked and destroyed their Guns. Esopus being a Nursery for almost every Villain in the Country, I judged it necessary to proceed to that Town. On our approach they were drawn up with Cannon which we took and drove them out of the Place. On our entering the Town they fired from their Houses, which induced me to reduce the Place to Ashes, which I accordingly did, not leaving a House. We found a considerable Quanity of Stores of all kinds, which shared the same Fate. (Olde Ulster: an historical and genealogical magazine, Vol. 1, No. 2, page 33, published in 1905)

These are just a few examples of the sort of fighting that took place in Ulster County. A third of all battles of the Revolution were fought in New York (New York Military Records at FamilySearch.) The regiments of the Ulster County militia did their part at home and away. I am confident that those militia men fought with a keen sense of vengeance for the outrages committed in their homeland and the losses suffered by their families and friends.

British cannon above the Hudson River.
Photo by Michael Francis Studios

After the War

Sources do not agree about the date that Samuel and his family moved to Blooming Grove (then in Ulster County, but now in Orange), but it seems clear that around the time that the Revolution ended, he moved to Howell's Depot.
He had more sons than land, and in order to provide a farm for as many of them as were content to remain in Orange County, he removed from Blooming Grove to the locality now known as Howell's Depot, then chiefly an unbroken wilderness, and purchased a mile square, or 640 acres of land, upon which he settled, and with the aid of his sons brought under cultivation.

He was a man of vigorous constitution, untiring industry, and a cheerful and jovial temperament. His land was rough and hard to cultivate, but he made the best of it, and it is related of him that when one of his old Blooming Grove neighbors once asked him what on earth he did with some of his roughest land, he replied that that which was too stony for the sheep and cattle to pasture in, he mowed to furnish hay for their winter keeping. (The Family Record: Devoted for 1897 to the SACKETT, the WEYGANT and the MAPES Families by C. H. Weygant, published by C. H. Weygant, 1897, page 46.
Samuel Mapes set aside a plot of land on his farm for a family burying ground, and he was laid to rest there in 1820, having completed a life of nearly 85 years. His wife Mary and many other Mapes descendants are buried there as well.

Smith and Rachel

New York's Revolutionary War Rolls show that Smith Mapes became a corporal, but nonetheless, he found enough time to court Rachel McKnight. They were married on February 10, 1779.

Smith and Rachel made the move to Howells with the Samuel Mapes family. By 1792, five of their children had been baptized at the Old School Baptist Church in Howell's, New York. One of the children baptized there was William Warren Mapes (William Warrington Mapes), my 3rd-great grandfather.

Sometime in the next few years, Smith and Rachel Mapes left Howells and moved about 200 miles west to the Finger Lakes area of New York where they were admitted by baptism to the First Baptist Church at Benton Center, Yates County in 1800. (Early Settlers of New York State: Their Ancestors and Descendants, Volumes I-VI, by Janet Wethy Foley. Pages 6 and 148. Originally published in 1934-1940 by Thomas J. Foley, Akron, NY.)  

Smith and Rachel spent the rest of their lives in western New York. Smith died  in 1830 at the age of 72, and Rachel died five years later. I do not know the location of their graves.
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* The Revolutionary Pledge: "Persuaded that the salvation of the rights and liberties of America depend, under God, on the firm union of its inhabitants in a vigorous prosecution of the measures necessary for its safety, and convinced of the necessity of preventing anarchy and confusion which attend a dissolution of the powers of government, We, the Freeman, Freeholders, and Inhabitants of ---, being greatly alarmed at the avowed design of the Ministry to raise a revenue in America, and shocked by the bloody scene now acting in Massachusetts Bay, do in the most solemn manner resolve never to become slaves, and do associate, under all the ties of religion, honor, and love to our country, to adopt and endeavor to carry into execution whatsoever measures may be recommended by the Continental Congress, or resolved upon by our Provincial Convention, for the purpose of preserving our constitution and of opposing the several arbitrary acts of the British Parliament, until a reconciliation beween Great Britain and America, on constitutional principles (which we most ardently desire) can be obtained, and that we will in all things follow the advice of our General Committee respecting the purposes aforesaid, the preservation of peace and good order and the safety of individuals and property."  (The History of Dutchess County, New York by S. A. Matthieu. Published in Poughkeepsie, NY, 1909. Page 95.)
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This article was written by Genevieve L. Netz and originally published as a blog post at . Copyright 2013 Genevieve L. Netz. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for attaching this article to Mapes family trees as long as this entire notice is included. Any other use requires written permission.

Download a copy of this article for your family tree.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.