Monday, July 11, 2011

Harvey Lewis Woodruff

Below is the obituary of my Great Grandfather, Harvey Lewis Woodruff. I hope you can click on the image and read it. It's a pretty nice obit. Harvey led a pretty exciting life and I sure would enjoy visiting with him. I'd ask lots of questions about the things he did and the choices he made.

Harvey was born in Ohio to Henry Madison Woodruff and Adaline Law Woodruff. He was the oldest child of three. One of the stories Harvey shared with his children that's been passed down to the rest of us is that of seeing President Abraham Lincoln's body as it was returned to Illinois for burial. Since Harvey was only 9, his mother lifted him up so he could view the body. Harvey remembered one of the guards telling his mother to move along, as they had many who wanted to view the body. (My Dad can tell you exactly what the soldier said, because Harvey remembered it and quoted it for his children. I need to get that written down someday.)

Harvey's mother died a couple of years later. Her obituary is rather flowery and very "Victorian" in nature. But her death affected Harvey greatly. In fact, he saved a piece of her shroud, veil and lace that she was buried with. I have them all including the deed to her burial plot. Now, Harvey remembered that his mother died with a baby--I'm assuming a newborn. However, the obit doesn't mention a baby. All it says is that she died of consumption.

After the death of his Mother, Harvey's father migrated to Kansas arriving in 1868 and settling in LaCygne, KS. With the small family was a new mother. According to family legend, Harvey didn't appreciate his new mother, and ran away in 1870; going to Texas to live with his Mother's brother, Homer C. Law. Over the next 20 years, Harvey did a lot of living.

Harvey became a Cowboy, and drove cattle from Texas into Kansas and eventually up to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Supposedly, after one cattle drive to Wyoming, Harvey was traveling back south on a stage. The stage was also providing transportation for a black man, who was relegated to riding in the boot--the luggage area of the stagecoach. They happened to pass a group of Indians who had just killed a buffalo (or beef) and were butchering it near the road. Apparently, the women were cleaning out the intestines with their teeth. After viewing this, the black man said, "You white folks don't like us black folk, but you'll never see us do anything like that." At that point, the stage driver stopped the stage, kicked the black man off and drove off, leaving him behind.

Harvey was a gambler, gambling in Dodge City during it's rough and rowdy days. Apparently while gambling, he boarded with a local Mexican family who had a daughter named Juanita. Harvey liked the name so well that he eventually named his youngest daughter, Juanita. I've been told that Harvey stopped gambling because he felt guilty--taking away the Cowboys hard earned cash.

Being a gambler, he and his little brother, Homer, left for the Colorado mines. They mined for gold and silver both and failed. Well, that's not true...we still have a couple pieces of silver ore that he brought home. Fist sized rocks with little sparkles of silver in them--nothing to brag about, except they are pretty rocks! Harvey came back to Kansas, leaving Homer in Colorado.

Actually, Harvey didn't come to Kansas...he "homesteaded" a little "soon" in the Oklahoma panhandle before it was open to settlement. He was in Beaver County, Oklahoma in 1891 when he went back to LaCygne to marry. Even getting to the wedding was an event! Harvey had to cross the Cimarron River to catch the train in Englewood for the ride back to Eastern Kansas. Unfortunately, it had rained and the river was flooded. Not letting a little water hold him back, Harvey disrobed and carried his clothes over his head, and swam across the river, arriving in time to catch the train and get home in time for the wedding.
He and Mary, his bride, then came back to Oklahoma, moved back east to Illinois for a short time, and then came back to Meade County, Kansas where he finally stayed and raised his family. Harvey was 35 at the time of his marriage. While life settled down--somewhat, he still had his share of adventures.

For example, there was a fencing dispute between Harvey and some of his neighbors. Harvey would build fence, and the neighbors (who herded their cattle on the open range) would cut the wire. It got so bad, that Mary was afraid the neighbors would shoot and kill Harvey. However, she had gumption (she had to, look at who she married!) Mary stated that if the neighbors killed Harvey, they'd find her out there, building fence, carrying a pistol.

Harvey lived until 1937. He truly saw the development of the west and played a part in much of it...just an ordinary man living life to the fullest. Yes, I would very much like to sit on the porch with him, ask questions, and listen to his stories. He must have been quite a guy.

(In the photo above...back row, left to right, Horace Dale Woodruff (my Grandad), Hurley Henry Harvey, and Harry Eugene. Front row, left to right, Harvey Lewis, Juanita, and Mary Armstrong Woodruff.)


Dirt Road Quilter said...

I am so behind on my bog reading this summer. Loved this! I think people's real lives are much more fascinating than fiction. Your great grandfather sounds like a pistol! Isn't it wonderful to have that history and know that you are connected to him? I love reading memoirs and biographies of people like your great grandfather. His spunk is what this country was built upon. Makes me sad to see what we have become. Oye! I will spare you from getting on my soapbox.

agent713 said...

Wow! That's quite a story/life! I'm doing some of my own genealogy research right now but I'm still figuring out who these people are. I don't have the stories yet. This is awesome.