I prided myself, although stripling that I was, on the number of girls I had kept company with during the winter, which amounted to 14 or 15, but this a poor recompense for the schooling I missed, and the only blame I can not attach to my father is that he did not serve objection and cause me to attend school and obey him [I am assuming he meant "the only blame I CAN attach to my father"?]. Of course, I would have disliked it then, but I could now have cause to rejoice.
|Atchison, Kansas City and Mirabile. Closeup from Colton's Kansas and Nebraska (1855).|
During the winter I attended debating society some and made my first attempt at public speaking. In the spring I commenced farming for father [John Nosler]. He promised everything, boarded me and give me half. Will [James' brother William Nosler] went back to Indiana on a wild goose chase. He soon came back and I sold him my prospect for a crop and started to Kansas, but was only gone two or three days when I came back, stayed a little while, and Will and I another fellow started to Kansas, intending to drive a government team across the plains. We had but little money, but got to Kansas City--by laying out every night--here we soon hired to a train, but instead of lending us on out, they put us to work quarrying rock until their freight could arrive by steamer. We soon got tired of this and quit them. We went out of town in the woods and camped out. Morning we were hungry and no money. Finally we killed Jay (nock it down) and roasted it, then went back to town and hired to another train that was going to start from Atchison soon. They put us on a boat and sent us up. We spent that 4th of July, yoking and breaking wild Texas cattle, finally, we got started and was three days getting fifteen miles. The wagon master was so mean to us and so overbearing that Will and I concluded we would quit him and go home. We then was[sic] about seventy miles from home.
Accordingly we started just after dark one night as we knew the wagon boss would not let us go if he knew it; we secured a lot of bread and meat before we left. We got to Atchison, but it took hard coaxing to get the capt. of the boat to take us over the river as we had no money, but at last we got over and then come, I think, the hardest trip I ever made. We stretched out our grub as far as it would go, but before we got home, we were entirely out and too proud to beg. The last night we ??? until four o'clock in the morning, and oh how hungry and tired, and sleepy. I think I stood it better than Will, for every time we would set down he would go to sleep and oftimes it required great effort to rally him, but at four in the morning we got to Johns. Fool must learn in the school of experience, although she is a dear teacher. Well, I think this was a good lesson and I have not forgotten it yet.
When we got home [I am assuming Mirabile, Missouri, where his father John Nosler was] we found that a new difficulty had arose some time before. Will and I were trading with a negro and in the trade we sold him a little one barrel pistol, this was against the laws of the state, but we did not know it and there would perhaps have been nothing said about it, but for the established fact that we were all republicans. It was now the fall of 1860. The presidential campaign was coming on and we could all see that by the split in the Democratic at Charleston, Mr. Lincoln would surely be elected. The South had openly avowed that should such be the case, they would secede from the Union. Cecession[sp] would inevitably be followed by war. So have a chance to go to Iowa, I concluded that I would have to do so soon. So I started with Jerry [Jeremiah "Jerry" Lawson who was married to ]ames' sister Caroline Nosler], but I told Caroline then that when I returned to the State it would be in company of armed men. These words were prophetic.
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