Info About Zeke Painter

Started by Lewis Miller on Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Profiles Mentioned:

1/6/2010 at 4:27 PM

taken from, specifically the following page:

(thanks to William Painter, Jr. for passing along the link)

Stories of Zeke Painter, friends and family
by William Thomas Painter (1874-1956)

About 1850 a community in Franklin County, Indiana, were very much interested in stories of rich farm lands of Missouri and Kansas that could be acquired by homestead by families who would live on and improve them.

Men of adventure had traveled west to hunt and trap and trade with Indians, and returning would tell of the very productive lands out west. It so happened that a number of families from southeast Indiana prepared a wagon train, and in the spring of 1857 drove through to Kansas, and some wrote back to friends telling of rich lands and opportunities in Kansas.

So in the fall of 1857 another band of settlers decided to go west. They secured the necessary equipment, teams and wagons, and in September drove away from their native haunts, leaving friends and relatives. Included in this band were a number of people who were destined to take leading parts in many events in the development of the middle west - Ezekiel Painter, Wm. Nicholson, and others.

In 1857 steamboats carried a lot of freight on the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Many pioneers earned money by cutting wood and supplying the fuel for steamboats. Also by handling freight at the lands. In that early date railroads and highways were not often seen by the pioneers.

Travel was very slow - Zeke Painter had a son Bill. At that time Bill was 20 years of age and a giant, endowed with super strength. Zeke secured employment by a steamboat company, and worked on the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. He worked his way west to Westport Landing that is now Kansas City, MO. Zeke's plan was to work and earn some money while the wagon train was slowly moving west. They had decided to go to Kansas and would pass through Westport and meet other settlers there, hold a council as to just where they would locate and purchase necessary supplies. So off goes Zeke on a steamboat, trusting his family and property to his son Bill and other relatives and friends.

Zeke also had a daughter named Louise who was at that time 18 years of age, and married to Wm. Nicholson, and in her arms she carried a little son named George. Bill and Louise were Zeke's children by a first wife who died about 1843, and Zeke had married a second wife, Ollie McCafferty, and at the time of the westward move they had four children: David, the oldest, was about 10 years of age and a favorite of his half-sister Louise, and David was very fond of his half-sister Louise, and also very much attached to little George. Now Wm. Nicholson and brother John and a number of others had decided to go to Minnesota as some others had gone on before, and persuaded them to settle in that State.

All traveled in one wagon train to western Illinois, then the Nicholsons and others drove north, while Painters, McCaffertys, Learys, Raders, and others drove on west, crossing the Mississippi River above St. Louis on a ferry. But that parting was sad indeed for little David Painter as his loved his half-sister Louise who had always been like a mother to him.Yet he was comforted by his own dear Mother and big half-brother Bill just worshiped David. David and Louise never met again. There were others who parted there, never to meet again.

As travel was so slow and difficult, money and leisure time were not as they are in this modern age.

After crossing the Mississippi River, they noticed two dogs that had been with them were absent. They wrote back to southeast Indiana and asked about the doges, and sure enough the dogs made their way back to Indiana, well over 200 miles. At St. Charles they crossed the Missouri River by ferry, and there David was riding horseback and it so happened that a brass band struck up some music. David's horse wad frightened and so was David as that was the first brass band that many of the emigrants had every heard.

But Uncle Ben Rader was there and a real horseman he was. He dashed to David's rescue.

The leaders of this band of emigrants had made calculations as to how they would progress along the trail and just about where they would be at a given time, and kept up a correspondence with friends and relatives, both back in Indiana and out west and north, and advised them as where to write. To be sure mail traveled slowly in those days, but it traveled much faster than the emigrants did. Danville, MO, was a town of importance in those days, and as the northbound travelers were to pass through Danville, they had requested others to write to them and address letters to Danville. When they reached Danville, they received bad news. Some of the emigrants who had gone to Kansas in the spring had been killed by Indians - at least that was the report. But later, other reports came - some assumed that white men killed the McCubbins and driven off their stock. Later it was a well known fact that some wicked outlaws made their rendezvous near the Kansas-Missouri border, and settlers were murdered and their stock and other valuables carried off by outlaws who tried to camouflage their crimes by insisting that the marauding Indians were the guilty parties.

As our band plodded onward, the weather turned bad, and although it was October it snowed and travel was very difficult. So our band decided to halt and camp at or near old Williamsburg in Callaway County, MO. They wrote to Zeke Painter at Kansas City and told him to come to Williamsburg in Callaway County, MO. Well, Zeke was no scholar and he had a difficult time making sense out of that letter. But after a time he decided to return down the river to Jefferson City and join the band at Williamsburg. After receiving more letters from Kansas, they decided not to locate in Kansas. They could not travel far as weather was getting colder, funds were low and roads were very bad. Callaway County, Missouri, was not so bad. There was plenty of timber to build with and to keep fires going, good water, fertile lands, and friendly neighbors. So they settled near Williamsburg.

They cleared land and split rails, and in the growing season they cultivated the land and produced corn, wheat, oats, tobacco, and hops.They set out orchards and vineyards, and by faithfully toiling and saving, they secured the necessary food and clothing to live and make some progress.

Now at this time in the years just previous to the Civil War there was no Public Domain, or what the settlers called Government Lands in Callaway County. One of my uncles showed me a brick house near Danville, MO, and said his Great-Grand-Father had built that in 1828. So we see the land in the surrounding country had been settled for about half a century before our band of emigrants arrived there.

They were still interested in free homes and were told that in the Ozark Mountains, one hundred miles or so to the south, there was yet to be found some Governments Land. The country was very rough and the settlers had selected the land that was more accessible and free from rocks. Yet as more people came in search of free lands, they gradually settled the rough rocky hills of the Ozarks.

But before we go farther into the Ozarks, we will follow some of our settlers who remained in old Callaway and Montgomery Counties. Big Bill Painter was soon known for miles around as the strongest man among the settlers. He could life a bigger log than any other; also out-run,out-swim, out-wrestle, out-jump, any other man that could be found. He was best with an ax or at most any manual labor.

At log rollings, house raising, clearings, and other gatherings and contests, no one could be found who could outdo Bill Painter,and he was quiet and modest, very kind and helpful to others. Very bashful among ladies, and often took his axe or gun and went into the forest when young ladies would come to the Painter home on visits. He had a very meager education, and never thought of trying to make money by exhibiting his great strength. He had no desire for publicity or professional honors.He enjoyed being with his folks and friends that he had known all his life. Thoughts of highly refined society, travel and wealth were not for him. He would gladly perform feats when those who were near and dear to him would request him to do so, as no man could be found who could throw him in a wrestle. They would gang up on him and yet he just laughed at them. He could lay flat on his back on the ground and outstretched arms and legs and just submit to their grasping any desired hold on him, and as many as could get close enough to hold on, and when they would announce they had him down and were sure they could hold him, he could roll them around as though they were just little children. He was ever careful to not seriously injure any one. But he would be up on his feet, laughing at them in a few seconds.

But our hero joined the Union Army and went south to fight for the Union. He was quiet and reserved among the soldiers and few of his comrades knew of his super strength. He was wounded once and went back home on a short furlough, and then returned to his regiment and gave his life for the Union cause, and was buried near Memphis, Tennessee.

Granny Leary was quite an old lady at the time, but was known far and near as the champion knitting woman. She could knit faster than she could talk, and she could talk faster than any of her friends. She had away that no others attempted to imitate. This was knitting two socks at the same time, one inside the other, and the young folks were anxious to see her toe-off her two socks at once and just keep her needles going so fast it was difficult for the eye to follow. She just started two more socks - and just kept talking. As newspapers, books and magazines were very scarce in those days, Granny Leary was the Information Bureau, and her advice and counsel were sought after by many younger women. She was a great walker and knit as she traveled. The neighbors were always glad to see her coming.

Her son Wilson Leary was a venturesome lad and one day he was told to go to a thicket and cut a long pole with a hook on it, as the old oaken bucket had fallen in the well and the hook was to get it out. So off went Wilson Leary to cut a pole. But he didn't come back that day, and it was ten years later than in-walked Wilson with his long pole with a hook. He had gone far west and been successful securing employment, and was well fixed, as the settlers called it. There was rejoicing when here turned. But soon after that he and others went out west to Oregon.

Dave McCafferty settled north of old Montgomery on a farm, but he was a good mechanic and built many buildings in the surrounding country and raised a large family. Many of his descendants are yet living. One son, John, went to Alaska in the Gold Rush of 1898 and never returned. It is generally believed that he perished in the awful cold at Chilcoot Pass.

Nellie Hudson, a fine hand with needle embroidery, weaving loom, making willow baskets and chair seats.

Some of the original band did go on out west to California, while others feared the Indians and decided to go south into the Ozarks milder climate. Few Indians, plenty of wood and water. In the early days,fence material, building material on the prairies there was none, and good water was a problem. So the Land of the Ozarks had plenty of good water, spring fed, clear streams and rivers, fish, timber for all purposes.

It is well known how the early settlers could build their houses and other buildings with just an auger and a chopping axe - they made their own furniture and wagons, with just a little metal for axles and bands. Among the early settlers who chose the Ozarks were Wm. Jacobs, Ben Barton, Dan Passer, John Bowers, Parson Kent, Nancy Kent, John Roby. They settled not far from the Gasconade River. But as thousands of acres of that land was just steep, rocky hillsides and real good soil for the production of crops was mostly in the valleys, very few homesteads were all good land. Mostly a few acres in the valley good and many acres lay on rocky hillsides. Yet in some instances the settlers secured as much as a quarter section of good land in one valley or partly on gently rolling land with few stones to bother in cultivation. Some stones were used for various purposes on the homesteads. With wagon and team with stones were gathered and used for foundations and even rock fences.

* * * * *

transcribed by Gordon Byers, Montgomery Co., MO 1883 Pensioners on the Roll, (noted 15 July 2005), Certificate No. 178,990, PAINTER, Ezekiel, Montgomery City, Cause for which pensioned: father, monthly rate: 8.00, Date of original allowance: Oct. 1877,

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