Early Settlers – Morton Town Company – Hodgeman County, Kansas
One hundred and seven African-American settlers from Kentucky arrived in Hodgeman county on March 24, 1878. Leadership for the migration and settlement was given to Thomas P. Moore. His wife, Mattie, his father, Henry, and a brother, Benjamin, with his own family of three small children, were also members of the colony.
The group of eight arrived in Kinsley, Edwards County with little cash and few supplies. Provisions for shelter and transportation had not been made. They spent a few nights in Kinsley before walking on a 30-mile journey to the agreed upon site.
The early hardships were too many and a town failed to develop. Some of the settlers worked for neighboring farmers, others moved into Dodge City and worked as domestics, and the railroad always needed workers. Many of the men were educated and were skilled in such trades as stone masonry or bricklayers.
Thomas P. was born January 11, 1848 in Kentucky to Henry (b. 1823) and Mary Moore. In 1878, he married Mattie F. Harrel. She was also born in Kentucky in the year 1862. They were the parents of two girls and one son. Mr. Moore was well-respected in the community for his level of education and skilled masonry. The Moore block in Jetmore was named in his honor as he and his fellow workers erected the stone buildings in that block.
Thomas’ father, Henry died in April of 1904. Thomas died in November. Mattie died in 1934 and all are buried in Fairmount Cemetery in Hodgeman County.
Note: Thomas, his sister, and his brother were able to attend a secret night school (which was illegal) where he obtained a level of education many did not.