Early settlers from Nodaway County, Missouri to Wray, Yuma County, Colorado
from Wray Rattler, Wray, Colorado, Nov 21, 1902
submitted by Leah Tourond ltourond@xplornet.com
"Reminiscences of Wray, Colorado"
Byron Condon, Father of this paper, now on the Nodaway county (Mo) Democrat writes of our "Airlier days" in the Democrat issue of Nov 11, 1902.

After a fight extending over a period of sixteen years, Wray, Colorado, has secured the county seat of Yuma county. The writer establised the "Wray Rattler" at that place in June 1886. At that time there were but four houses aside from the depot and water tank, which latter place served as town hall, underneath and in the shade of which all public meetings were held. There were no residences--the citizens of the town were all "holding down" claims. Business was conducted by Morehouse Sisson & Newell, real estate and locating agents, (Hon. A.P. Morehouse and Nat Sisson of Maryville), Maj Hays, formerly of Maryville, conducted a livery stable; George & Fisher, general store, Grigsby Bro's also conducted a general store, and Col Hitchings furnished the settler with lumber to build a shack which was necessary in order to "make final proof" on his preemption, which could be done only after a continuous residence of six months and and a certain amount of work done.

The country contiguous to Wray was settled mostly by Missourians, many of whom were from Nodaway county, among them we remember Dr McCluskey, Nat Sisson, Maj. W.R. Hays, Geo B. Vaughn, Enos Vaughn, Tom Loyd, Tom Hughes, Byron Groves, Rev Parker and his sons, Sam and John, Charley Ware and B.E. Condon. These were the Pioneers--others came later. All secured good claims, and with true Missouri grit, commenced making homes--many succeeded, others failed and came back to "wife's people."

At that time what is now called Yuma county, was the southeast corner of Weld county, of which Greeley was the county seat--distant from Wray by rail, about 240 miles. The county was 165 long, from east to west, by about 60 miles wide. It was later subdivided into five or six counties. Yuma, a town on the B. & M. railroad, west of Wray, was made the county seat, and has remained so until the recent election, when Wray captured the prize.

After the Pioneers had settled down fairly, among the first steps towards civilation [sic] was organization of schools. Accordingly Wray elected a school board. The Missouri members of which were Dr McClusky and Major Hays. The board was duly organized by electing Dr McClusky president, and we think, Mr Hays secretary. The next step was the erection of a school house a serious problem for it was discovered that there was no taxable property in Wray or the whole surrounding country aside from the railroad. A happy thought struck the worthy president. Why not let the railroad build the school house? The company would be beneficiaries by the settling of the country. The proposition was submitted to the board, and carried unanimously. A school district was formed, embracing a strip of land, if we remember correctly, one mile wide on each side of the rail road, and extending up and down the road twelve or fifteen miles, with Wray in the center. A tax levy sufficient to erect a $3,000 school house was talked of, but never submitted to a vote of the people, for the reason that the railroad officials learning of the proceedings sent representatives to Wray to prevent the levy. They looked the field over, and wanted to know "what in the thunder these web-footed Missourians wanted with a $3,000 school house at Wray?" President McClusky informed them that in a few years Wray would be the best town between the Missouri river and Denver, and that they "needed adequate school facilites, and by thunder must have them." The matter was compromised, as we remember it, by the railroad company contributing largely to the expense of a building which met the needs at that time and for several years thereafter. It was later used as a town hall.

Among those who went from Nodaway county to Wray later on, was John Tuomey, who with his brother was selling dry goods in the building now occupied by McCoy's. We shall never forget the day he arrived. The Rattler had published weekly a record of the weather, as indicated by a thermometer hung on the south side of the office, which was located at the base of a big sand dune--on the sunny side. Mr Tuomey, back here, had kept ????? on that particular item each week. "After freezing to death here for several winters," as he expressed it, he concluded the Wray climate, as indicated by our thermometer, was just the place for him--and he came. Think it was early in the spring, and one of the coldest and most disagreeable days of the season. He was thinly clad of course, as our sand-dune indicator had led him to believe that he was coming to a tropical clime. He alighted from the train and came straight to the Rattler office, and from between chattering teeth exclaimed, "If I had a gun I'd kill you for publishing such outrageous lies about this sunny (?) climate." We took him in thawed him out, wrapped him in a horse blanket, and took him out to our claim ten miles in the country. The beautiful landscape enroute and succeeding fine weather molified him somewhat, and he staid and prospered. He is a present, we believe, cashier of the Wray bank, and one of her best citizens, and down deep in his heart is no doubt thankful to the Rattler for steering him to that then apparently Godforsaken country.

All the Nodaway county people who went there, and "were too poor to get away," have prospered. Byron Groves, whose chief occupation was killing rattlesnakes while we were there has become quite rich in the lumber business. The Vaughns, Parkers, and Tom Loyd and other Pioneers, have flourished.

Wray is a beautiful little city nestled in between huge sand ??? on the north, and high rock bluffs on the south. Through the valley meaders the north fork of the Republican river. The scene is picturesque, and when viewed from the train, one is wont to liken it to some old country scenes which poets and fiction writers so much admire.

Wray at present contains about 600 inhabitants, has all business enterprises, large high school building, water works, flouring mill, telephone exchange, etc. It is 165 miles east of Denver, and its altitude is 3509 feet. Now that they have the county seat, we predict that Wray will double her population in a short time.

The writer will always have a tender spot in his heart for Wray and her generous hearted peopel.

(During five years residence in Wray, the present editor of the Rattler finds that our old settlers, to a man, have a peculiar warm spot in their hearts for Mr Condon.)