December 3, 1908


Men Who Helped Him Lay Founda-
tion of This City 50 Years and
More Ago, Gather to
Wish Them Well.

Feasting upon memories of the many years gone by, scores of "during the war" pioneers of Kansas City enjoyed the gathering at the home of Colonel R. T. Van Horn in honor of his sixtieth wedding anniversary, yesterday afternoon.

The large home at Honeywood, Evanston station, was crowded throughout the day and many groups of gray haired men selected quiet corners to pass the gossip of years, and to count grandchildren. stories of the distant past were recounted as if they happened but yesterday. Everybody was so many years young. Nobody was old.

Colonel Van Horn, 84 years young, was the leader in all the reminiscences.

"Don't you remember, George, that little incident on the steamboat Perry, when my wife paid me such a high compliment? he asked of George L. Andrews, one of the old-timers.

"Of course I do," replied Mr. Andrews, and his eyes twinkled merrily at the recollection. "That was forty years ago. You and I were standing on the deck when John Conover called up and held out a knife to us, saying it was for the best looking man."

"And you tried to take it the first thing," put in the colonel. "But that wouldn't do. So we called my wife up to let her decide the matter, and you got the knife."

Then there was a laugh from all, and one story led to another. Things long forgotten were discussed once more and little stories brought long unrecollected incidents to mind, and the gray heads would nod enthusiastically as familiar names were called.


"It was in J. Q. Watkins's little brick bank down on First and Main streets that I saw my first gold brick," said C. N. Brooks. "A tall, thin and hungry looking man brought it up to the bank one day and got off the black and white mule he was and handed the gold over to J. Q. It was real gold, too, and how we fellows did stare. The whole street was lined with people who wanted just a glimpse of that brick."

From the little red brick bank the old men turned their attention to the afternoons spent in the rear part of Mike Dively's grocery store at Third and Main streets, and Mr. Diveley was one of them who brought back the happy memories.

Interest in the afternoon's impromptu entertainment was just at its height when the front door opened and Thomas McNabb entered. With McNabb came visions of the prayer meeting night long ago, in the Baptist church, which was located at Missouri avenue and Walnut street. It was in that little church that McNabb was wont to sing hymns every night, and it was the gathering place of all the young couples at that time.

"One night just after prayer meeting was over," began McNabb after he had gone the rounds of handshaking and congratulations, and had joined the group of old-timers. "I remember that a fire broke out in a little store owned by Alex Holland here. I had just got through singing a solo about meeting again, and Frank Foster, the chief of the fire department -- that hand-cart, volunteer brigade; you remember it boys --had been to church. He leapt up and ran to the old fire house at Second and Walnut streets singing 'God Be With You Till We Meet Again.' And so we all joined in and helped to save Alex a few dollars."


Stories of that one fire brought to the mind other conflagrations in which Mr. Foster, now dead, played a prominent part. Some of the old volunteers were present at the reception yesterday afternoon, and many a hearty laugh was had over some amusing adventures. Frank and Walter Withers figured largely in some of the amusing stories.

And so the afternoon was spent by the old men -- once more as boys. Gray hair and wrinkles were forgotten, and no one noticed an occasional trembling of hands or the thinness of voice which had come over many of those present. It was seldom that so many of the old pioneers could get together that they might live over more of the pleasant days when they were young, and the gathering yesterday was immensely enjoyed.

The Old Men's Club went out to Honeywood, as did some of the McPherson post of the G. A. R. And Colonel Van Horn and his wife were the recipients of scores of hearty congratulations. E. S. Jewett and wife have had the pleasure of attending the twenty-fifth, fiftieth and sixtieth anniversaries of Colonel and Mrs. Van Horn, and they said that never before has such a gathering been held upon such an occasion in Kansas City.

Light refreshments were served at the informal reception, consisting of coffee and sandwiches. Colonel Van Horn and his wife were exuberant in their good, old-fashioned hospitality.