photograph by D. Kanzeg
Deep Creek/Riley County,
||Central City, Colorado
||Cutchogue, New York
||Riley County, Kansas
||Baby Doe Restaurant
In April of 1855, Horace Tabor arrived
in the area of Deep Creek, which flows north from the heights of the
Kanza plain down into the lush Kansas River valley. Tabor had come
to the area from Boston, as a member of a party of anti-slavery "squatter
sovereignty" settlers sponsored by Eli Thayer's New England Emigrant
Aid Society. Tabor's brother John had preceded him to Kansas, settling
in Lawrence about 1854.
Horace constructed a lean-to next to a stream (now Tabor Creek) on
160 acres of land that he pre-empted, just up the hill from Pillsbury
Crossing, a broad natural ford; stable enough to allow wagons (and
today cars) to cross Deep Creek safely. Local lore associates it with
the Oregon Trail, which traversed the area. Horace purchased another
320 acres soon after arriving.
He spent that first summer clearing the land and planting corn. And
though he had an excellent crop, there was no market for corn in Kansas
at the time. In December of 1855 Tabor marched the 100 miles to Lawrence
to help defend the town against pro-slavery men. His courage got him
elected to the so-called "Free-Soil" territorial legislature,
which convened in Topeka in March of 1856.
During Tabor's second summer in Kansas, the lack of a market for a
second bumper crop forced him to take a job in his original trade,
as a stonecutter, at nearby Ft. Riley. (To this day, much of the original
"campus" of the military installation contains structures
made with the native stone from the surrounding countryside.)
In early January of 1857, Tabor was appointed to a three-man committee
of the "Free-Soil" Legislature to draft a memorial to Congress
asking for admission to the Union. By the end of the month, he was
back in Maine, ready to marry Augusta.
Augusta got her first look at the trackless landscape that was to
be her home in April of 1857. She was heartbroken by the desolation
and loneliness. As time went on, she added fear of Indian raids and
rattlesnakes. Tabor continued his work in the legislature, as well
as his work at Ft. Riley, walking the twenty plus one way miles each
week. It was just as well, since a lack of rain that third summer
had made farming especially tough. At one point starvation was a very
real possibility for the newlyweds.
son Maxcy was born in October of 1857. The winter of 1857/58
was mild, followed by another good summer and third abundant
harvest. Once again, though, the lack of a market for the fruits
of a farmer's hard labor left Augusta feeling strangely restless
and gloomy. The only way to prosper was to have railroads to
carry produce to markets back east. But the Panic of 1857 had
stopped railroad construction in its tracks (so to speak), leaving
no immediate hope for relief of any kind for the Deep Creek
Around about this time Horace
decided to build a new home; perhaps to placate Augusta's yearning
for more comfort. Constructed with stones Horace himself cut
from a hill on his land, that house
still exists (as of 1996), though just barely. Locals call the hill
The Kansas winter of 1858/59 was apparently too much for Augusta,
though. Bitter cold and snow had both Tabors paying close attention
to the fantastic stories from farther west. And by early April, Horace
had rented his land on Deep Creek, and was ready to set off for "Pikes
Peak Country" via the Republican River trail. It took six weeks
for the five of them--Horace, Augusta, their son Maxcy and their friends
Nathaniel Maxcy (after whom their son had been named) and Samuel B.
Kellogg, both of them also New England emigrants--to make the trip
from the Kansas River Valley to Cherry Creek (Denver).
Kansas continued to mean something to Horace long after having left
it far behind. By the end of 1860, the Tabors had made enough money
in the mining camps (reportedly about $5000) to send Augusta back
to Maine for a visit. Along the way she paid off the mortgage on the
Deep Creek property and purchased some more.
County tax receipts show assessment payments made by a Tabor into
the 1890s. In addition to the Deep Creek land, Horace's name shows
up on ownership records for various residential lots in the city of
Manhattan (the Riley County seat), despite his never having lived
there. Tabor's sister Emily became a resident, and carried on regular
correspondence with Horace throughout his life. Their father Cornelius
died there in 1888.
Today, just down the hill from the remnant of the house that Horace
built for Augusta, sits the only other Tabor site in Riley County.
Square at the corner of Tabor Valley Road and Tabor Lane (just down
the road from Tabor Creek Lane) is the Tabor Valley School, a one-room
stone building constructed in 1882, and used until the 1960s as a
school and community center.
A marble marker sits on the school house property and carries the
following unpunctuated description:
IN MEMORY OF AUGUSTA PIERCE TABOR
A PIONEER MOTHER WHO WITH HER HUSBAND H.A.W. TABOR SETTLED HERE IN
1856 AND GAVE THIS BEAUTIFUL VALLEY THE NAME "TABOR VALLEY"
IN 1859 THEY MOVED ON TO THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS AND FOUND THE RICHES
OF GOLCONDA AND THEIR HISTORY WILL BE LEGEND IN COLORADO FOREVER
THIS MONUMENT ERECTED TO HER MEMORY BY THE CENTENNIAL COMMITTEE OF
MANHATTAN KANSAS APRIL 1955
*This section of Riley County, was
originally attached to Davis County, which was named for Jefferson
Davis, U.S. Senator from Mississippi at the time of the settlement
of this part of Kansas, and later President of the Confederacy. In
1869 Davis County was renamed Geary County.