Sylvia B. Johnson Reminiscences
From One of the Pioneers of Bristol Township
Published in the Kendall County Record, Nov 16, 1871
Compiled and edited by Elmer Dickson
Thirty-seven years ago the 13th of last month (1834) I arrived with my husband and two children in Illinois, from Chautauqua County, New York. We brought Mr. James Gillam's family with us in our wagon. We found everything new and wild. Deer and wolves were plenty. We ate our first meal at Mr. VanEmon's. The next day being Sunday, we attended meeting at Father Matlock's in Long Grove. Elder Ballard preached the funeral sermon of William Thurber's child at the morning service. In the afternoon Father Tolman preached an excellent sermon, although he was entirely blind with inflammation of the eyes at the time, and could not look upon one of his congregation. West Matlock was then a little boy.
The next day we went where Yorkville now stands, and moved into a small log cabin, owned by Lyman Bristol. It stood near the Courthouse yard. Mr. Duryea and James Cornell were around looking for land at this time, and stopped with us. After remaining there three weeks we found a claim, staked it out, and my husband and I put up our cabin as far as I could reach. We then had to wait until some lookers for land came around who finished it for us. Price Boyd now owns the place. I was the first white woman that lived on the Bristol side of the river. Where Bristol now stands there was nothing but an oak forest. The red men of the forest were yet there, but they were peaceable. Yet, I suffered much fear. I saw it all grow up, and there is no place on earth that seems so much like home to me. My husband went to California in 1849 and died there. My children grew up, and my only daughter (Laura Ann) was the first wife of Gideon Kennedy. My only son (David) is here in Kansas on a fine homestead of 160 acres. He came here before I did. When I came I had to go 12 miles further to get land. This is a most beautiful country. We have had fine crops here this season. No drought yet. The railroads are pushing through. I see nothing to hinder this country from becoming almost a paradise in time.
Providence permitting I expect to return to Bristol to spend the remainder of my days in about two years. Signed: Mrs. Sylvia B. Johnson, Republic County, Kansas.