As a family, Endsleys had the yen for adventure

By Linda Emley

After researching Nimrod Hunter Endsley’s adventure, I think I bragged on him too soon. His experience in Louisiana in 1891 was not enough to keep him in Ray County. After following his trail for a few years, I found him living in Colorado and that is where he stayed.
Nimrod was born in Indiana on Feb. 18, 1842, the only child of Hugh and his third wife, Marie. His mother died when he was young and he was raised by his aunt, Jane Endsley Hunt. They were living in Harrison County in Missouri in 1850. In 1858, Nimrod returned to Indiana and married his wife Amanda in 1866. Their first child was born in Illinois in 1867 and their last child was born in Kansas in 1885.
Nimrod’s half brother, Robert Parker Endsley, moved to Ray County in 1858, the same year that Nimrod moved back to Indiana. During the Civil War, Robert was in company F and was captured by guerrillas at the battle of Shaw’s Shop at Morton, just north of present-day Hardin, on Sept. 18, 1864. After being detained for some time, he was released.
Robert lived on the same farm in Orrick for 44 years before moving to Richmond, where he died in 1921.
Nimrod and Robert were both living in the Orrick area in 1891, but by 1900 Nimrod had moved to Colorado He died there on Oct. 17, 1922. His Colorado neighbors were the Rice and Maupin men, both of which were local family names.
The earliest Endsley in Ray County was Sarah Vance Endsley, who moved here around 1819. She died in 1837 and was buried at the Happy Cemetery in Camden. She is considered to be the grandmother of the Missouri Endsleys.
Sarah Vance Endsley’s son John moved with her to Ray County in 1819. John died here in 1874 at the age of 78, followed by his wife Hannah in 1880 at the age of 72. Two of their sons are listed in the 1881 Ray County History book and like their kinsman, Nimrod Hunter Endsley, they did not let grass grow under their feet.
Ethbert M. Endsley was born in 1834. In 1852, he went to California for the gold rush and returned in 1857. His trip to California was by land, but he came back by sailing from San Francisco through the Isthmus of Panama. He then crossed the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi River to the Missouri River.
After his return in 1857, he married Miss Eliza Vance and they had nine children. In 1864, he went to Salt Lake City and then to the Montana Territory, where he was engaged for about a year in the freight business before returning to Ray County. In June of 1873, his wife died and he remarried in 1875 to Mariah Owens. Ethbert farmed a 483-acre spread in Ray County and died in 1908. He is buried at the Brasher Cemetery in Orrick.
Ethbert’s brother, Samuel V. Endsley, was born in 1836. He farmed until 1859 and then went to California for the gold rush.
In 1865, he went to Nevada for 11 months and then back to California for a short time before he started to the Frazer River country in the north. He made it to Victoria, Canada before turning around and heading back to Oregon. Then it was off to the Blackfoot country in Montana, and after mining there for a time, he returned to Missouri in 1868. After a few months, he returned to Montana, via New York and San Francisco, working in mining until the fall of 1869.
Samuel then returned to Ray County and never moved again. The 1881 history tells the rest of his story: “Early in the spring of 1870, he removed to the place upon which he now resides, section 15, township 53, range 26. He married Miss Jennie Brown of Carrollton. Here he owns 551 acres of good farming pasture and timber lands, well watered and under good fencing. He has a handsome and comfortable residence, erected in 1876, at a cost of more than $2,500, a good barn and other buildings, and also a fine thrifty bearing orchard. He is devoting much attention to raising cattle and mules, and is also engaged in feeding stock for market.”
Samuel died in 1915 and is buried at the Richmond City Cemetery with his wife Jennie.
The Endsley men liked to travel and look for adventure, but they were not the only Orrick men that thought about looking for greener pastures.
I found a book at the Ray County Museum that William Paulson wrote in 1975. It’s titled, Orrick as I Remember It. Here is one of his stories. ”In 1901, the railroads had excursions to the land drawings in Oklahoma. It was the last big land disposal of Indian Territory, 18,000 160-acre tracts were up for grab in the Lawton district and a like number in El Reno. The men from Orrick took off for Lawton. They were Dr. Arch Kirkham, Charles Sandusky, Charles Mikeswell, Charles Tarwater, James Bogart, Lee Clevenger, Sam Hackett, John Artman, C.E. Duell, the railroad agent, and Elmer Paulson. Paulson was the only lucky one to draw a homestead. After the drawing was over, each person winning a homestead had six months to prove their intentions of making their home on the claim. Many that drew claims never did file. Dad had no intention of making his home in Oklahoma, so he sold his relinquishment to a railroad man of Kansas City. He in turn sold it to a widow lady. Oil was discovered later on this property.
“While on the subject of adventuresome men, several from this area went to California in search of gold. Mr. Rhodes names them, ‘James Riffe, Robert Ralph, Frank and Harvey Ross, Sam, E.M. and William Endsley. Some returned in sailing vessels, crossing the Isthmus at Panama.’ Mr. Rhodes also mentions that several local men drove wagon trains to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Also a Mr. Stokes went to Oklahoma for a year to hunt buffalo.”
He also told the story of an elderly couple who claimed that in their younger years they had driven cows by wagon train to Denver and milked them all the way. They stayed in Colorado for one year and then made the return trip, milking the cows all the way home.
So now we’ve heard Mr. Rhodes’s version of Samuel, Ethbert and William Endsley going to California during the gold rush. William Endsley is not on my list of Endsley men, so we have another one wandering around in our history just waiting to be found. They always say “home is where the heart is”, so R.I.P. William Endsley, wherever you are.

You can contact Linda at or see her during business hours at Ray County Museum at the fairgrounds.

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