Monday, April 27, 2015


The Colorado Boys were a group of men who were mustered out of the US military service at the conclusion of the Civil War, migrated to Lincoln County, and filed for homesteads of 160 acres.  All had, at one time, served in the Colorado Infantry/Cavalry.  

The Colorado Boys included Edward E. Johnson, Isaac DeGraff, James Adams, D. C. Skinner, W. E. Thompson and Richard B. Clark. James Peate arrived shortly afterwards and lived with them.

They arrived in Lincoln County about Christmas 1865 and camped along the Saline River southeast of future town of Beverly.  Early interviews with the men indicated they hauled drift wood from the river to thaw the ground for the construction of a dugout.  No one has located the exact location of the dugout; however, after visiting with a then living relative of D.C. Skinner, I believe the dugout was built on the River on land later farmed by my maternal uncle---southeast of Beverly.

Several other families soon arrived in the Lincoln County and next door Ottawa Counties in 1866, 1867 and 1868.  In 1866 Mr. James Peate of settled in/near Beverly and in 1868 was asked by General Phil Sheridan (he of Civil War fame) to recruit local men to help form about 50 “Scouts” assigned to Col. George Forsyth.  This contingent of “frontiersmen” would be chasing Native Americans who had been raiding Caucasian settlers in the Lincoln-Ottawa County area.  The Scouts were to remain civilians employed by the U.S. Army. However, Forsyth’s second-in-command, Lt. Fred Beecher, was regular army but was killed in the Battle.  He was a nephew of Henry Ward Beecher (of Civil War fame).  

Peate immediately recruited locals Thomas Alderdice, Thomas Boyle, George Clark, George W. Culver, Andrew Eutsler, Hutson Farley, Lewis Farley, George Green, John Green, John Haley, Frank Herington, Edward E. Johnson (Colorado Boy), John Lyden, Howard Morton, D.C. Skinner (Colorado Boy), Chalmers Smith, William Stubbs, Edward Tozier, Richard Tozier, Henry Tucker, Fletcher Vilott and Eli Zigler.

James Peate, the recruiter, did not die until 1932 and was well known to my mother (born in 1913 and living in Beverly) as the local banker.
George W. Culver was farming near Tescott (my home town), about five miles east of Beverly.  I was able to locate his homesteading papers in the Ottawa County courthouse and noted his farm was at one of my favorite “fishing holes.”  Culver was killed in the battle at Beecher Island.

Andrew Eutsler was the grandfather of one of my maternal aunts (by marriage) and is buried in the local Tescott Cemetery. 

I grew up living in Morton Township---named after Howard Morton.

Edward E. Johnson was one of the original Colorado Boys.
Chalmers Smith was the grandfather of one of my maternal aunts (by marriage).

Not all of the people listed above as Scouts actually participated in the Battle of Beecher Island.  Peate, along with Boyle, John Green, Edward Johnson, D.C. Skinner, Stubbs, Edward Tozier, and Richard Tozier were later in getting to Fort Harker and then chased Forsyth and the other Scouts to Fort Hays and then to Fort Wallace but ended up missing the final march to follow the “hostiles.”  This group was then assigned to Col. Lewis Carpenter’s 10th Cavalry and participated in locating the battle-weary remnants of Col. Forsyth’s command trapped at Beecher Island.

The story could go on and on but I need to return to geology!  I have found this Beecher Island story fascinating due to its connection with the hometowns of my father (Tescott) and mother (Beverly).  Unfortunately my history classes in grades 1-12 sort of followed the textbook and neglected to mention any of the local history.  I also have tromped over the homesteads of several of these scouts and do not want local communities to forget the history associated with both the Scouts and the Native Americans.  

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