1865: Donation Visit Invitation, Lincoln, Nemaha Co., Kansas

The following invitation was among the papers of my great-great-grandfather, Rev. James Sayre Griffing who served as the appointed minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Lincoln, Nemaha County, Kansas from 1864-6. The “Donation Visit” was held on Thursday, 14 December 1865. The village of Lincoln in Nemaha County no longer exists. It was located a few miles south of Seneca, the Nemaha County seat. A parsonage was provided by the Methodist community for the Griffing family to reside in while serving this appointment. Letters written by Rev. Griffing during the winter of 1864-65 — a very cold one — mention Griffing’s attempts to renovate the parsonage.

I have attempted to identify the members of the Methodist Episcopal society serving on the committee mentioned in this invitation. See footnotes below.




Yourself and Friends are cordially invited to make a Donation Visit at the Methodist parsonage in Lincoln, on the afternoon or evening of December 14th. If unable to attend in person please make your donation through some member of the Committee.

O. C. Bruner and Lady.
A. K. Moore and Lady.
C. C. Coffinberry and Lady.
H. Grimes and Lady.
R. M. McNeil and Lady.
John Sly and Lady.
Hiram Burger and Lady.
Chalmers Chilson.
W. F. Wells.
Joseph Guffie.
Sawyer Avery.
Sarah Chilson.
Amanda Ford.
Sally Ann Wells.
Emma Coleman.


Owen Creasy Bruner (1818-1880), a native of Breckenridge, Kentucky, and his second wife, Elizabeth Jane Bronaugh (1830-1870) came to Kansas Territory prior to 1860 from Indiana. His occupation was given as “Merchant” in 1860 and as “Surveyor” in 1870. Sometime after his second wife’s death in 1870, he moved back to Indiana.

Charles Carroll Coffinberry (1827-1913), a native of Ohio and his wife Elizabeth Ann Morgan (1828-1916) came to Nemaha County, Kansas Territory in 1857 from Wisconsin. In 1859, Charles was elected to the Territorial Legislature, and during the dry year and famine of 1860, he acted as by proxy, one of the twelve Commissioners to distribute aid, sending some sixty-eight loads to his own county. In 1861, he was elected to the State Legislature; while in Nemaha, was continually in the political field. In 1866, he moved to Neosho County, Kansas. During the War of the Rebellion, he was in the State Militia, and was called out on the Little Blue, and was also on the first raid of Price. Source: William G. Cutler’s  History of the State of Kansas, Neosho County, Part 5.

Adam King Moore (1826-1884) and his wife Anna Pickup Moore (1828-1885) resided in Valley Township, Nemaha County, Kansas in 1865. Living in the same household in 1865 is her younger brother, Edmund Pickup, and the children of her deceased sister Malley (Mary) Pickup from her second marriage in 1853 to Jacob Neighbor (b. 1803, d. 1860 in Newcomerstown, Tuscarawas, Ohio). Their children’s names were Martha Phedora Neighbor, born 1857, and John Edmund Neighbor, born 1859. Mary Pickup was the eldest child of Aaron Pickup and Martha Crabtree of Newchurch-in-Rossendale, England, who came to America in 1827.

Hezekiah Grimes (1812-?), a native of Ohio, and his wife Nancy J. Wells (1833-?), a native of Vigo, County, Indiana, came to Home Township, Nemaha County, Kansas Territory prior to 1860. They would later move to Clay, Butler County, Kansas.

R. M. McNeil and Lady. This couple must not have put down roots in Nemaha County as I can find no couple matching this name.

John Sly (1826-1908), a native of Montgomery County, New York, and his wife Mary J. Hammond (1822-1906), a native of Hope, New York, came to Nemaha Township, Nehama County, Kansas Territory in the Spring of 1857 from Iowa. They built a cabin on Turkey Creek and lived on their 160 acre farm until moving to Seneca in 1878. Mary (Hammond) Sly was well educated, having attended Miss Willard’s Female Seminary in Troy, NY; she was one of the first school teachers in Nemaha County. John and Mary Sly were prominent and consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal church.

Hiram Burgar and his wife, Jane Metcalf

Hiram Burgar (1826-1897), a native of Niagara Falls, Canada, and his wife Jane Metcalf (1825-1887) were married in 1850 and came to Nemaha County, Kansas Territory in 1855, taking a claim on Turkey Creek. Hiram moved to Axtell, Kansas in 1890 after his wife died.

Erastus Chalmers Chilson (1840-1900), a native of Geauga County, Ohio, came to Kansas not long after the death of his first wife, Sarah Ann Neill (1838-1863).

Rev. Chalmers Chilson with his 2nd wife Caroline Fortney, and child Alfred

Chalmers Chilson was a widower at the time he served on this committee in 1865. His second marriage was to Caroline Fortney (1847-1923) on 1 November 1868 in Waterford, Kansas. The 1880 Census shows him living in Nemaha County. He became a Methodist minister sometime prior to 1870. He is buried in the Dennis Cemetery, southeast of Seneca.

William Frank Wells (1835-?), a native of Pennsylvania, came to Valley Township, Nemaha County, Kansas Territory with his parents in May 1856 when he was a young man. His parents, William Riley Wells and Betsy K. Skinner had previously settled in LaSalle County, Illinois in 1845. William served as the Nemaha County clerk in 1863.

Joseph Guffie [or Guffy] (1839-1920), a native of Putnam County, Ohio, came to Capioma Township, Nemaha County, Kansas Territory about 1860. He was a farmer in Kansas but served with Co. D, 57th Ohio Regiment during the Civil War. In 1869, he married Elizabeth Sheets (1841-1879). They are buried in Ford Cemetery southeast of Seneca.

Austin Sawyer Avery, ca. 1910

Austin Sawyer Avery (1841-1925), a native of Ohio, came to Rock Creek Township, Nemaha County, Kansas prior to the 1860 U.S. Census where he is enumerated in the household of his uncle, Joseph Coleman. In 1869, he married his first cousin, Esther Luella Coleman. They were divorced in 1876 and he took as his second wife, in 1879, Jeannett Osborne. They eventually moved to Woodston, Rooks County, Kansas. [Sawyer Avery is mentioned in Rev. James S. Griffing’s letter of 31 August 1864.]

Sarah A. Chilson (1842-1897) was the sister of Erastus Chalmers Chilson mentioned previously. In 1874, she married Frederick Kruger (1841-1900), a native of Hanover, Germany. She came to Nemaha County, Kansas prior to 1865 with her parents, Alfred Chilson (?-1895)and Mehitable Butts (1812-1892).

Amanda [Arminda] Ford (1849-1920), a native of Ohio, came to Capioma Township, Nemaha County, Kansas prior to the 1860 U.S. Census with her parents, John M. Ford (1829-1912) and Margaret Huffman (1829-1859). Arminda married John Wesley Culler (1847-1896) in October 1867. Arminda and John are buried in Ford Cemetery southeast of Seneca.

Sally Ann Wells (1842-1891) was a sister of William Frank Wells, mentioned above. She was a school teacher in Nemaha County and, in 1872, she married Samuel S. Campbell (b. 1843), a carpenter from Indiana. She is buried in Seneca Cemetery.

Emma Coleman (1850-1927) came to Nemaha County, Kansas from Summit County, Ohio prior in 1865 with her father, Joseph H. Coleman (1815-1878), a native of Connecticut, and her stepmother, Elizabeth [Rebecca] Shearer (1826-?), a native of Pennsylvania. By about 1875, she had married O. B. Robinson. By the time of her death in 1927, she was living in Sabetha.

Rev. Erastus C. Chilson’s Gravestone in Dennis Cemetery

Joseph Guffy tombstone in Ford Cemetery

6 responses to “1865: Donation Visit Invitation, Lincoln, Nemaha Co., Kansas

  • Marc

    My gg grandfather, Joshua Pilcher Brown, lived on Turkey Creek, Nemaha County, the same time as your gg grandfather was a Methodist Episcopal minister. His sister married Henry Metcalf. My ancestors from this area were all part of the ME Church. Do you know much about your gg grandfather and his life in Nemaha County?

  • Griff

    The letters of my gg grandfather, Rev. James Sayre Griffing, and his wife, J. Augusta Goodrich, are published at http://www.griffingweb.com and there are several letters that were written during the period from 1864 to 1866 when he was appointed by the M.E. church to serve the community near Lincoln (now extinct), south of Seneca in Nemaha County, Kansas. He mentions services on Turkey Creek where your ancestor lived but I don’t recall his naming your ancestor in any of his letters. Please feel free to peruse these yourself on-line in the Civil War Years.

  • marc

    Where are those letters published?

    Other relatives that were there on Turkey Creek were : Blue, Woods, Metcalf, Beam, Hicks, Clampetts and Key families. I had ancestors in all those families. My gg grandfather was away fighting in Co D of the 8th Kansas Infantry during the time your gg grandfather served as pastor, so I not sure they would have known each other. Do you happen to know the name of the pastor that was there before your gg grandfather? Also, I have read that there was a woman who opened her home in the Turkey Creek area for services. The Methodist Church in Seneca, KS has the pastors log books from this period of time clear into the 1890’s. I have been trying to get a copy of it. I was able to look at it last summer when I was there. The pastor took it out of a glass case they had it in. It had old signs of being dropped in the mud which would have been easy to do the way those preachers traveled. I also visited the cemetery where my gg grandfather’s wife, sister and two brother in laws are buried. It was donated land by my gg grandfather’s sister, Sarah Hicks, and it was also for a church. I don’t know if there was ever a building there. The cemetery is in the middle of a field. It is on the Find A Grave site and known as Coal City Cemetery.

  • Griff

    The weblink to the letters is in my earlier reply.

    In a letter written to his wife on 21 September 1864, Rev. Griffing: “I expect to start for Topeka in the morning. I should have gone yesterday but was called upon to attend the funeral of Sister Metcalf who was living in Seneca but had the funeral at Turkey Creek Meeting house where she was buried. She was the daughter of Sister Blue, who lives near Bro. [John] Sly’s. She was a good woman. Experienced religion when only nine years of age and was 27 when she died. She was a widow and leaves a little orphan four years old.”

    I also see a letter he wrote on 13 February 1865: “The small pox is quite prevalent all through the country here – a great many on Turkey Creek and in Seneca. No cases [have been] fatal as yet but it makes the meetings thin. Several of Bro. [Hiram] Burgar’s and also Mr. Hicks’ [families have the small pox.] Mr. Hicks lives near Dr. Edwards & Mr. Keys who married Dr. Edward’s wife’s sister. Father [Cyrus] Beers’ house is quite comfortable [except] in a pelting storm when it leaks some. He & Mother [Mercy Beers] have both been quite sick but were some better before I left. Have not been to see them since I came back.”

    You may find more references by perusing the letters from this period of time, most of which were exchanged between James and August during the fall and spring of 1864-65 she was back East visiting relatives. Off the top o my head, I am not certain who the pastor on the Seneca Circuit was prior to Rev. Griffing. Hope this helps.

  • Doreen Harvey

    thank you for the pictures of Hiram Burgar and his wife Jane Metcalf. He was a brother to my great grandfather (Fred Burgar) and most of the info that I have was from censuses and “History of Nemaha County”. I had never seen a picture of him.
    Doreen Harvey, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

  • Laura Corogenes

    Thanks for sharing this document. I am attempting to prove my Great Grandfather was Samuel S. Campbell not Samuel Graham Campbell and this document and your footnote, serves as one more hint that I am on the right track. I really appreciate it.,

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