The Chariton Leader, Chariton, Iowa
Thursday, October 3, 1907
'IN THE PURE OLD DAYS'
Early Experiences on Ricker's Run When Everybody Was Good.
Russell, Iowa, Sept. 30, 1907.
My Dear Sir: Seeing an article in your paper last week entitled "Hoss
Trading and Crime", it interested the writer of this article very much as he
well remembers the circumstances and was acquainted with all the parties
concerned. This takes my mind back to my boyhood days -- back into the
early 50s and 60s -- and the story which I wish to relate happened, I think
about the year 1854 or maybe in 1856, it was in the night time, I would say
about 9:00 o'clock. Some miscreant willfully shot through the window of
XURY WEST's (the editor's grandfather) house, no doubt with full intent to
kill him. I happened to be there that evening and heard the shot and saw
the glass fall from the window and then the man disappeared on horseback in
the gloaming to the west, so I know of what I say.
But before I go any farther in this narrative, I will give a brief history
of some of the early settlers in this, the eastern part of the county, on
what is known as Honey Creek, and I think that some of the old timers, and
especially Uncle TOMMY HELLYER, MALISSA GILBERT, S.C. MCKINLEY, STEVE BENSON
(VAN BENTHUYSAN), and others will remember some of the characters which I
shall mention. In the year 1853, I think, there came a man from Indiana,
settled and built a habitation just at the north edge of the little bottom
on Honey Creek, north of where the bridge on the "Mormon Trace" road is now,
and his name was JOHN RICKER. In the course of about a year there came four
of his brothers from the Hoosier State -- named GEORGE, MIKE, PETE and AL --
and they all settled on the foothills of Honey Creek, in the brush lands,
close together, and in time this was called Ricker's Run. There came with
the RICKER brothers, JASPER NIDY, and a man (*can't read) of Rawlins. They
also (*can't read) so-called Ricker's Brand (*can't read) township. To say
that they were a tough lot would be putting it mildly. At that time the
writer of this article was in his "teens," but well does he remember the
depredations that were being carried on by this band of border ruffians and
especially by the original one -- JOHN RICKER himself. He kept whisky and
tobacco for sale.
I will now return to the night of the shooting. The alarm was given as soon
as possible, and the nearer neighbors and those who responded to the "call
to arms" were SAMUEL MCKINLEY, and his boys; ABBOTT KENDALL, ABNER MCKINLEY,
and a few others. After gathering at the WEST home there was held a council
of war, and to say that the excitement ran high would be a mild way of
expressing it. By this time it was growing late, perhaps near midnight, and
all present seemed to think it was JOHN RICKER, the desperado, who had done
the shooting. So it was put to a vote and carried unanimously to march down
to his stronghold and call him up and have a hearing. At that early day it
was all open prairie and the road at that time trailed down and across the
foothills, passing near where MRS. MARGARET ALDRICH's farm house now stands.
There was a ford on Honey Creek just east of the RICKER castle, and when we
got to this ford there was another council of war held and it was decided
that LEANDER (TIP) MCKINLEY and the writer be sent to the house and call
RICKER up, under the pretense of buying some tobacco. To say it took some
nerve for two young fellows to carry out this detail hardly conveys the idea
-- but we went forth with fear and trembling just the same. The agreement
was that when we called him up and the "reserve" saw the light, they were to
rush in, which they did in good order.
But to describe the actions of RICKER and the language used by those
infuriated men would be impossible at this late day. I well remember that
ISAAC WEST came near braining RICKER with a chair. I think he was the worst
desperado I ever saw. After we had kept him company about an hour, to his
great discomfort and giving him his orders for his future conduct, we all
went out, but we did not sing a song.
Hoping this will bring to mind other narratives by other "old timers."
-- I Remain Yours Truly,
Copied by Nancee(McMurtrey)Seifert
January 6, 2005