The following is in account of the first Old Settlers’ Picnic, written by E.W. Hoch, editor, as it appeared in the issue of the Marion Record for Oct. 14, 1912.
OLD SETTLERS MEET
Good Crowd, Good Time and a Permanent County Organization Formed.
I throw up my hands at the threshold of this reportorial job and frankly admit that I cannot do justice to the great gathering of old timers in Marion yesterday. Record space at this late hour is too limited to do it justice if my pen and notes equal to the emergency. It was a hummer. The old pioneers swarmed from every part of the county; from neighboring counties; and from afar. Peabody and Florence and Hillsboro and Lehigh and Lost Springs and Lincolnville and other county towns sent delegations. Sam T. Howe came down from Topeka; Mrs. Dan S. Lindsay from Wichita; James Corbett from Newton; Mrs. W.S. Moulton and Mrs. Lyonberger (nee Miss Lizzie Smith) from Kansas City, and even Billy Morgan, an old Chase County boy, was here from Hutchinson. John Madden sent a telegram of regrets from Parsons and William Moulton came from Kansas City.
The Svitak band furnished music which added a new mortgage to the debt of gratitude this town already owed these fine fellows. The Marion band also played — splendidly, as it always does.
Mr. H.S. Lincoln of Florence called the meeting to order and introduced Hon. T.M. Potter, the new president of the Marion County Old Settlers’ Association, who presided till his four o’clock train compelled him to turn the meeting over to Mr. A.E. Case. Mr. Potter made a splendid speech, reminiscent and patriotic, and called by name many old timers to the platform, including Phillip Mehl, James Corbett, R.S. Claney, Thomas Dickerson, Ed Baxter, Elisha Shreve, Jeff Terry, Sam Grimes, Geo. Moulton, R.T. Battey, J.W. Reid, W.D. Armstrong, Cy Locklin, George Morgan, Sam T. Howe, and others whose names slip my memory.
Judge Frank Doster made an eloquent and touching address. The Judge came here as he said, “a moneyless, brief less lawyer” in 1871 and lived among us for twenty-five years, until called up higher to be Chief of the Supreme Court of the State — a position I say he filled with distinguished honor.
Then E.W. Hoch also spoke.
The Misses Stanton sang a pretty and appropriate song.
A splendid historical paper written by Mrs. Ed Baxter was read, in her absence, by Miss Lucy Martin, and it was exceedingly well read.
Mrs. Dr. Rogers told an interesting story of her first experience as a teacher in a school five miles from town, to which she walked every day.
Mr. Alphonse Bichet of Florence told of his trip from France to Marion County in 1858 and related many interesting incidents of the early days when he harvested wheat with a sickle and threshed with the tread of oxen.
Ed Baxter read a wonderfully interesting historical paper.
Mrs. John Gilbert made an entertaining talk and kept the crowd in a good humor.
Mrs. Tom Matlock read a brief but interesting account of the Kentucky contributions to pioneer Marion.
A permanent organization was effected with the following officers: President, T.M. Potter, Peabody; Vice-Presidents, W.H. Roberts, Marion; Alphonse Bichet, Florence; Lewis Riggs, Grant; John Smith, Durham; Secretary, A.E. Case, Marion; Treasurer, George G. Shirk, Lost Springs.
I have not attempted to size the crowd that gathered in Central Park on this interesting occasion, but it was very large. And it will be larger next year for all who were here this time will spread the news of what a feast of reason and flow of soul it was.
The Record has secured the papers that were read and will publish them for the benefit of those who did not get to hear them and for the purpose of preserving them in print. They are valuable contributions to the history of the early times. Time is too short to get them in the paper this week but the first one will appear next week.
— E.W. Hoch