• Last modified 816 days ago (Jan. 27, 2022)


Florida man looks for happy hunting ground here

Staff writer

Where do you go to find a good place to hunt deer? The heart of Kansas may be the place.

Marcus Heatwole of Fernandina Beach, Florida, has placed an ad in the Peabody Gazette-Bulletin looking for hunting grounds.

“I’m just trying to find a place to take my son,” Heatwole said. “Here in Florida, we don’t have many or big deer. It’s so hard to find a place anywhere in the country. I’ve mailed hundreds of letters with no luck. So I was just trying something different.”

Heatwole has a 13-year-old son and a 3-month-old baby boy. He is grieving over the death of his wife, who died in childbirth. Heatwole’s mother is helping to care for the baby.

Heatwole wants to lease land from an independent landowner who will give him the right to hunt on the land throughout the deer-hunting season. Contracting with an outfitter is expensive and restricts him to just five or six days, he said.

He hopes for a response to his ad.

In researching the Heatwole name, this newspaper found an ancestry listing: “John and Elizabeth Heatwole moved to Peabody in 1874 and she died one month after the move. He was a Mennonite pastor at the Catlin Mennonite Church, Peabody, Kansas.”

Heatwole said there’s a good chance they were related to his family. His great-grandparents lived in Virginia and were Mennonites. His great-grandmother had a Mennonite cookbook.

The John Heatwoles probably were among families of the Swiss Mennonite immigrants who arrived in Peabody in 1874. The men went to scout and buy land in Mound and Turkey Creek townships, but when they returned three weeks later, they discovered that almost all of the children were sick. Some died.

As the town had no cemetery, the women and one elderly man carried bodies three miles north of town, dug graves, and buried the children without coffins or funerals.

The plot later was purchased by Catlin Church Society from landowner Henry Hornberger. A church was built in 1886. The congregation disbanded in 1962, and the building was torn down. The graves’ location was lost until, largely through efforts by Brian Stucky of Goessel, 14 unmarked graves were located in 2012.

Last modified Jan. 27, 2022