Far West

It has been a couple of years since we first discussed the subject of Far West and Latimer.  Having done my research, I am ready to give you the final and authoritative explanation on the two, so pay attention.

There have been a number of sources that have said the town site of Far West was northwest of Latimer; directly south of Latimer on the opposite side of the tracks; or as the writer of Clarks Creek Township assumed that Far West and Latimer were one and the same, platted on the same ground. My initial theory was that Far West was southwest of Latimer.  However, all of these assumptions are incorrect.  Careful examination of the plats and their descriptions will plainly show where the two town sites are/were located.

Both towns were platted in Section 23 of Township 15 Range 5 East, which accounts for much of the confusion on the subject.  It is evident from the start that the two towns are not one and the same as they were not platted on the same individual’s land.

Monroe D. Herington owned the northwest quarter of section 23.  And it was Herington who drew up a plat of Latimer on March 25th 1887.  That plat was then filed for record April 2nd the same.  Herington was largely responsible for the Chicago, Kansas & Nebraska railroad coming through the northern part of Morris County.  He owned land in both Dickenson and Morris counties and by making an offer to the railroad of some of his land, he was able to get them to lay track to his newly founded town of Herington.  Latimer was one of the incentives for the railroad as Herington provided it as a watering station.  And, as many accounts say, Latimer received its name from a railroad official who chose the location.

Apparently Herington was not the only one who had hopes of benefiting from the railroad and so David and Mary Korn, who owned the northeast quarter of section 23 just east of Herington’s, platted their own town.  However, they were just a few steps behind Herington.  They drew up their plat of Far West on July 11th 1887 and it was filed for record August 3rd the same.  According to the two plats there was just 350 feet between the two town sites.

Far West was the name of a post office located in Section 15, approximately a half mile northwest of Latimer.  It was established April 26th, 1864 and located in the home of William M. Walter who was the postmaster.  On March 23rd, 1869, the post office was moved to Aroma, Dickenson County where it was operated by Alexis Blanchett out of a corner cupboard in her 16 by 20 foot log cabin.  On October 3rd, 1872 the post office was reopened at Far West and remained in operation there until it moved to the town of Latimer on September 20, 1887.  For unknown reasons the post office closed June 20th 1888 then reopened February 5th 1889, and closed again April 15th 1895 reopening November 2nd 1895.  It closed permanently on January 6th 1961.

In the Clarks Creek Township history there is mention of a plat of Far West in which Railroad Street is labeled.  Also, the writer of that history (under the assumption that the two towns were one and the same) stated that a school (presumably Dist. 36) was marked on the Far West plat and stood in the same location as Dist. 36 in Latimer.  If such a plat of Far West ever existed, it is no more.  There is only one plat of Far West at the Register of Deeds office, and it has no streets or buildings labeled.  It is interesting to note that the alleys in Far West are shown to run north to south while the alleys in Latimer run east to west.

I have not come across any evidence as of yet that the town of Far West was ever developed.  The fact that a number of old timers in that area believed Latimer was first named Far West, leads me to believe that Far West never got further than being surveyed.  And so the absence of any remains of Far West led the locals to conclude that Far West and Latimer were synonymous.   So, to recap; Far West and Latimer are not one and the same.  The post office Far West preceded both the town sites of Far West and Latimer.  Latimer was platted before the town site of Far West, and Far West was later platted 350 feet east of Latimer.

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James Joseph McCann

Eleanor and James Joseph McCann.

James Joseph McCann was born in Dublin, Ireland June 24th 1826.  He was predestined to be closely associated with calamity.  Three weeks before he was born, his father fell into an open well and drowned while riding a horse through the country side.  His mother died about a week after he was born, leaving James and his older brothers John and Owen orphans in the world.  They were reared by their aunt Sarah, and according to the family history, John and Owen went and joined the British Army.  At the age of 13 James ran away to follow after his brothers and at some later time all three met in Calcutta, India while serving in the Army.

Also according to family history, on the 25th of October 1854 during the Battle of Balaclava these three brothers stood side by side.  With Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them they bore their arms and fought like men.  While the Light Brigade made their famous bloody charge into the maws of death, James saw his two brothers cut down at his side by saber, while he himself was seriously wounded.  But with the tender care of a young woman named Florence Nightingale, James was nursed back to health.

After James had served seven years in India, he was called back to England where Queen Victoria decorated him with three medals for his service to the crown.  Upon his return to England he met young Eleanor (Ellen) Collin.  After a ridiculously long courtship of three weeks the two were wed in the Church of England August 29th 1857.  Nine months later their first child Katherine was born in London.  Then later in the year of 1858 James was placed in the Guard of Honor to Prince Albert and sent to Quebec, Canada.

The one month voyage across the Atlantic discouraged Ellen from ever wanting to return to England, and James liked Canada well enough they were both persuaded to stay.  They had four more children born to them while at Quebec; namely Mary, Elizabeth, James Jr. and Eleanor.

Sometime around 1868 the McCanns left Canada and moved to Bloomington, Illinois.  There were more children born into the family; Anna and Theresa (Tressa) whose twin died in infancy.  There was also another set of twins which James named after his fallen brothers, Jonny and Patrick Owen. The two boys seemed quite healthy, but at nine months old both were teething and feverish.  It was suggested to the McCanns to take the boys to a doctor to have their gums lanced.  They did so, and both babies slept on the way home.  However, one little boy aroused from his sleep, smiled and then fell into an eternal slumber.  The other baby followed within a week.

The family left Illinois and settled in Missouri where the oldest daughter Katherine met and married Hudson Benson.  They had a little boy named Willie.  When Willie was about a year and a half old the family was once again preparing to migrate, this time to Kansas.  While at a friend’s house for a farewell dinner, Willie was missed at the table.  A black worker of the friend’s discovered that Willie had fallen in an open well, just as his great-grandfather, excepting the horse.

The McCanns moved to Concordia, Kansas where their last child was born in 1878.  From there they ended up moving to Denver, Colorado where James had a job with the railroad.  After living in Denver for a few years the family moved back to Kansas and bought a farm four miles southwest of White City.  It was always said that the McCanns moved there so that their daughters could marry Clarks Creek men, which they did.  But what is James Joseph McCann’s significance to Morris County you ask.  Well, James and Eleanor McCann were the first to live in the town of Latimer.  They did not remain at Latimer for long.  By 1892 all but two of the girls were married off and so the McCanns decided to sell the farm and move to Herington.

James McCann passed away December 14th 1909 at 83 years old.  His wife of 52 years followed him December 9th 1929 being 90 years old.  Although Eleanor was 13 years her husband’s junior, she outlived him by seven years.  Both died at the home of their daughter Anna four miles southwest of White City, where it appears they were being cared for during their advanced years.  The McCanns were both laid to rest at Sunset Hill Cemetery in Herington.