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By Luther Frost of Liberty

I CAME to Kansas early during the spring of 1872. Great Bend was then in its infancy, with only
a part of what is now the Southern Hotel and two other small houses built.
During the month of August, 1872, some of my neighbors and myself concluded to try our hand
at killing buffalo, as the grasshoppers had destroyed our little crops of sod corn, gardens, etc.
August. 13th, we fitted up and started for the present site of Dodge City. While eating dinner
near the lone tree on the Arkansas river 25 miles below Fort Dodge, a flock of black birds lit
down near us and I made a proposition to kill a dozen and have a stew for our suppers as we
were out of fresh meat. Some of the boys laughed at the idea of killing a dozen at one shot. I
fired one shot and we picked up sixty-two birds and many more were scattered over the prairie
that we did not get. We had not finished picking up the birds when the cry of "Indians!" was
heard. Everything was packed into the wagons and we started pel-mel for a rocky hill on which
we intended to sell our lives as dearly as possible.
After getting in position, we discovered that the supposed Indians were a company of U. S.
cavalry that had come down to the river to get water. We were very much relieved, palpitating
hearts resumed their natural motion, and trembling nerves were steady as iron.
Our greatest loss was that of the birds which we had left in our haste to get to a place of safety.
16th. Arrived on the hunting ground south of the river and saw a sight new to most of us. As far
as we could see, to the east, west, and south, was a vast herd of buffalo. We estimated that we
could see over 500,000 at one sight. We pitched our camp and made preparations for work;
cleaned our rifles; sharpened our knives; and prepared to stretch hides by the wholesale.
17th. Imagine my feelings as I approached the first herd of old bulls. I could not possibly get
nearer than three hundred yards. A natural instinct of danger seemed to keep me at a sate
distance. I had read of hair-breadth escapes and terrible encounters with these giants of the
prairie and was not overly anxious to make a close acquaintance with them. The fact is they
looked dangerous; and they would naturally impress a person that they meant business by
shaking their heads at him and pawing up great clouds of dust. My first impression was that I had
better try my hand at long-range shooting, so if they were inclined to be vicious I could take leg
ball and have a good start. Shooting at long range did not pan out very well, as my nerves were a
little unsettled, and every time I would fire some old fellow would look toward me, lick out his
tongue, and shake his head, as if to say "Don't come any nearer; you might get into trouble." I
tried several times to muster up courage and crawl nearer; but at last made up my mind to shoot
at long range if it took all summer to get our wagons loaded with hides. The result was I fired
about forty shots, killed seven buffalos, and crawled clear out of sight of the herd, leaving over

one hundred buffalo standing looking at me as I crawled away. I suppose they imagined that I
was a cowardly coyote.
We soon loaded our wagons with hides, recrossed the river, and camped on the site of Dodge
City. "Now boys, we can take a good sound sleep tonight, no danger of Indians," was the general
I had an aching tooth that would not let me sleep. About midnight I heard a horse approaching. It
was a dark night and I could just see the outlines of a man on the horse. I did not think strange of
this as there were several railroaders camped near us and several loose horses had come to our
camp. I took my gun and crawled out to the horses, without awakening the boys. The fellow rode
up within 20 paces, took hold of a picket rope, and commenced drawing the horse toward him. I
could not tell whether it was one of our boys or one of the strays. So to be on the safe side and
not shoot an innocent man, I said "Look here, my friend!" He put spurs to his horse and was off
like a shot. I sent a couple of caliber 50 after him but he made good his escape. All was
confusion in camp, "Shoot him!" came from all sides. Several of our neighbor camps lost horses
that night. The thieves made a general raid along the line of the road, and but for aching tooth we
would have lost our horses.
We finally got home to Great Bend safe and sound. All but one of our party are still in Barton
A little incident happened to one of our Barton County boys which was laughable as well as
serious. We were out killing buffalo about seventy miles south of Great Bend. I had purchased a
new gun and expected to do wonders in the line of killing buffalo. It was a cold windy morning
in November and I could not or did not do good execution. I do not blame the boys for finding
fault with me. One of them said that he could do better himself. I gave him the gun and told him
to try his hand. He crawled up to a herd of old bulls and knocked three of them down at three
successive shots. "That's well done!" the boys said. "He's a rattler! He's after their pelts?" The
herd suddenly stampeded. They did not like to see the heels of their companions flying up so
rapidly. Our hero followed in rapid pursuit, passing the supposed dead bulls. He had passed them
about one hundred paces when one of them rose to his feet and started straight toward our hero.
Louy did not hear the approach of his pursuers until the bull was upon him. He turned his head
just in time to find himself going one way and the gun the other. The bull paid no attention to
him; but kept on his course, to the great relief of Louy and the rest of us. No damage done except
a badly torn shirt and coat.
At another time we were camped on the headwaters of the Ninnescah. One morning I took my
gun and started to a herd of buffalo that were grazing about a mile from camp. When about a
quarter of a mile from camp the boys commenced hollowing at me and motioning for me to
come back. Before I could get to camp they had the teams hitched up, and were going at a run
dawn the creek to another camp. I finally came up to them, after a run of about half a mile, and
wanted to know what was causing such a stir. The answer was we had better be making tracks if
we did not want our hair lifted. The red devils were coming, and there was a host of them, with
red blankets and banners flying. I just told my companions that I would go back and meet the
whole host and see if they were on the warpath. So I marched boldly back to meet the enemy,

which proved to be an innocent buffalo herd marching quietly down toward our camp. The joke
was, I had seen the buffalo coming and had an idea that the boys had seen them and taken them
to be Indians, so I could afford to be brave while my companions ran away to reinforce another
camp. We finally got things righted and had a good laugh over the affair. One of my companions
declares to this day that he saw Indians and could plainly see their bows and arrows.

The Wichita daily eagle., September 04, 1891

County Courthouse Grounds, Great Bend, Kansas

Submitted by:

A.D. 1915
Civil War Veterans of Illinois Units
Bardwell, S. W. - E 26 Inf.
Bloss, Wm. R. - E 74 Inf.
Barrow, D. C. - B 22 Inf.
Bean, Robt. R. - K 7 Cav.
Button, Ambros - G 146 Inf
Curl, Wm. - B 96 Inf.
Conkle, Wm. - B 126 Inf.
Cossman, Nick - A 8 Cav.
Chase, Lemuel - I 8 Cav.
Dunnekak, Henry - D 8 Cav.
Deighton, Sam'l - E 78 Inf.
Duchesne, H. C. - C 77 Inf.
Everitt, John - H 104 Inf.
Everitt, Henry S. - H 104 Inf.

Frost, Luther - A 119 Inf.

Fitts, ZMorton B. - C 135 Inf.
Frey, Reuben - D 50 Inf.
Gervey, Martin - D 10 Cav.
Gourley, Alex - D 9 Cav.




Pages 121-122
The family of Thomas and Mary Malia Keenan, who located a homestead six miles
southwest of Great Bend, are probably as well and favorably known as any in Barton
County. They were the first to show their confidence in the soil by building the best
country residence in the county - a two story frame with ten rooms - and otherwise
improving a farm of five hundred and forty acres. This was built by Luther Frost, one of
the first builders to locate in Great Bend, and stands today as a monument to his skill.
Thomas Keenan, sr., was born in Ireland on February 1, 1834, and came to the United
States in 1861, marrying Miss Mary Malia, of Lowell, Mass., in March, 1871. They first
made their home in Massachusetts, but later moved to Utica, Mo. While in the last
named state Mr. Keenan found work in the construction department of a railway and
became proficient as a builder; and when he came to Barton County, Kansas, in the fall
of 1872, he soon found employment with the Santa Fe system, which was then building
westward through the state. He first held the position of conductor of a construction train
running between Newton, Kansas, and the Colorado line; but later, in order to be near
his family, took charge of a section between Great Bend and Dundee. He served this
company for five years and then retired to his farm. He died on June 11, 1900, and Mrs.
Mary Malia Keenan also died on April 30, 1910. They were the parents of ten children:
John Keenan, who died July 23, 1888; James Keenan, of Grove, Arizona; Mrs. Ellen
Nally, San Francisco, Calif.; Frank Keenan, Kansas City; Martin Keenan, near Heizer;
Thomas B. Keenan, who died April 7, 1906; Miss Mary Keenan, Michael James
Keenan, Miss Kathleen C. Keenan and William Patrick Keenan.

Since the death of the parents the estate has been divided and the home farm reduced
to two hundred and forty acres. This has been named "Keenancroft," and is owned by
Miss Mary, Miss Kathleen C., and William P. Keenan; the latter being in charge of the
farm. The residence and surroundings have grown more beautiful with the years, and
the grove of forest trees is very inviting. A new barn 32x36 has just taken the place of
one destroyed by fire, and some granaries, machine sheds, etc., built, which adds to the
conveniences of the place. It is provided with all late day implements and the better
grades of stock, and continues to hold its place among the best tilled farms of Barton

Barton County Beacon newspaper clippings:

Luther Frost


Jun. 16, 1842

Adams County
Illinois, USA
Aug. 16, 1895
Barton County
Kansas, USA

Family links:
Julia Lydia Ella Hammer Frost (1850 - 1882)*

Julia Florence Frost Van Pelt (1874 - 1920)*
Ira Frost (1880 - 1880)*
Lydia Elodia Frost (1882 - 1882)*

*Calculated relationship

Great Bend Cemetery
Great Bend
Barton County
Kansas, USA

Julia Lydia Ella Hammer Frost


Nov. 20, 1850

Dallas County
Iowa, USA


Jun. 25, 1882

Great Bend
Barton County
Kansas, USA

Family links:
Luther Frost (1842 - 1895)

Julia Florence Frost Van Pelt (1874 - 1920)*
Ira Frost (1880 - 1880)*
Lydia Elodia Frost (1882 - 1882)*
*Calculated relationship

Great Bend Cemetery
Great Bend
Barton County
Kansas, USA

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