Family Heritage: Colman to Hird

 
 

Generations of family memories create a rich tapestry woven with colorful stories about good folks who worked incredibly hard to make this land their home. The mid 1850's was a time of civil war with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.

Ezekiel and Mary Colman were staunch abolitionists who supported the "Free-Staters"— those opposed to slavery. They uprooted their large family from Massachusetts and traveled with the Fourth Emigrant Aid Party to help Kansas enter the Union as a free state. The Colman family chose this property located in the Kanwaka Township.

Just one-half mile to the north, the tracks of the Oregon Trail carried thousands of westward-ho, California-bound pioneers. Enough food had to be grown, not only to feed Ezekiel and Mary Colman's many children, but weary travelers in search of fresh water that was available from the former Yankee's tank, a large cistern that collected rain water and perhaps from a nearby spring. Many settlers, lured by the promise of free land, were unfamiliar with Kansas' unpredictable and harsh climate. Freezing cold and hungry, those who needed a place to stay were sent to what then became known as Colman's Inn or Colman Retreat.

The Colman/Richardson/Hird families intersect when Ezekiel's son, Osgood Colman, married Flora Richardson a sister to Herman Richardson. Osgood and Flora lived next-door, which in the country, is one-half-to-a-mile—as the crow flies. In 1894, my maternal Great-Grandfather, Herman Orange Richardson, purchased this property from Olla Colman Bigsby, the daughter of Ezekiel and Mary. Herman and Ina Kate bore four children, including my Grandmother Ethel. This is their only family portrait, taken in front of the southwest corner of what had been the Old Colman Hotel.

Richardson family

Colman - Richardson - Hird family property circa 1894. The Richardson Family: Ina Kate, Ethel, Mabel, Herman, Arthur

Ethel married Arthur Hird and also raised her family in the Old Colman Hotel for a number of years before they moved to Baldwin. Herman continued to own the property until 1940.

In 1940, when he was 28 years old, my father, "Gene" Otis Eugene Hird, purchased the land from his Grandfather Herman. Two years later, Gene married Dorothy Tasker. Together, they built a new house to raise their family. "It's a good place to live," my father would declare.

 
     
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