May 15, 1908


Ran Away When a Boy and Comes
Back to Find the Old Playfel-
lows -- "They Are All
Dead," Says He.

After the absence of fifty-five years Thomas Reynolds returned to Independence yesterday to refresh the memories of his youth. When 13 years of age he ran away, going West, and yesterday attempted to locate some of the old familiar spots, some of the old playgrounds.

"There was an old well here," said he, pointing to the southwest corner of the square, but some of the old inhabitants had even forgotten it. "I guess I am lost, or rather I am like the Indian when he came back to the old camping ground. 'Indian lost?' was asked of the brave. 'Indian not; wigwam lost,' was the answer of the Indian. That is my fix. Where is the Nebraska house?" No one knew until he ran up against James Peacock, a '49er, who told him that it, too, had changed and was now known as the Metropolitan hotel.

Mr. Reynolds is a son of Joseph Reynolds, long since dead and known only to a few of the older citizens of the old town. "I left Independence in 1853 and have never been back since. I just want to wander around the old town and see if it is possible after a half-century for a man to locate the old familiar places. There is no use talking, it gives me a strange feeling to come back to this place after having pictured in my mind for fifty years or more certain playgrounds. Then another thing -- nearly everybody I knew is dead, that is the worst of it. If I could come back and find them as they were there there would be some satisfaction, but they are gone.


"I suppose everybody who has been away from his old home for fifty years and goes back has the same experience. No doubt more than one man has gone up against just what I am doing today. There was old Mr. Beatty, who did business in jewelry away back there; how I remember he kicked a stovepipe hat with a brick in it and then sent for me to come and nurse him. I went over to see his son today -- the old man is dead, died many years ago, they told me. Judge Woodson, too, has passed away, and I met his son, a gray haired gentleman, today.

"I remember James Peacock. He left for the California gold fields before I, as a boy, left for Oregon. Nathaniel Landis is gone; in fact, they are all gone. Away over on that hill yonder," said Mr. Reynolds, "there used to be a house. A man named Wilson lived there; had a boy named Rufus. The old gentleman is gone, but his boy is older than I am. I remember Aubrey and his famous ride. Aubrey made two from Santa Fe. It was a great event. Then another fellow came through on a mule. Both of them went to sleep, the mule and the rider. That mule was the hardest thing to awaken I ever saw. No amount of kicking would bring him back to earth, and the man on top of him was sitting there astride and as fast asleep as the mule he rode. That was in front of the old Noland house. Place is all gone now.


"I tell you, this is a sad day for me. Shatters all of the old-time pictures I have been carrying about with me in memory for fifty-five years. Sometimes I wished I had stayed away. Does not pay for an old man to do this way. I went down to the jail. Used to have a jailer in there every day or two, but the jail they have there now was built in 1859 and the old one is torn down. William Head is dead; his son is with the Metropolitan now. Very little satisfaction in coming back except to shatter youthful pleasures; it will do that all right enough."

Mr. Reynolds passed the entire day trying to place himself, and occasionally met with some of the passing generation of old men and then they would fall to chatting over things which belong to another generation several times removed. He visited the old home place of his father, Joseph Reynolds, one of the early day settlers.

Mr. Reynolds lives at Salem, Ore., where he is connected with the Wells-Fargo Express Company, having been with that company in the overland express business and later in the mail service.