The early settlers of Osawatomie and Miami County had emigrated to the wilderness, far away from any easy place to shop for the goods they needed to live every day. So they turned to family and friends back east to supply them with the goods they needed.

The goods would then be shipped to them via mail, shipped on river boats and then delivered via the postal service to the early citizens of Osawatomie and Miami County.

John Everett, an early settler of Osawatomie, sent a letter listing supplies they needed from back east.

In an Oct. 6, 1855, letter to his brother Robert, he wrote: “I wrote you one week ago to get me some things. If you have not sent the box off, I should like to make some additions. A handful of Uncle’s very early peas, if he can spare them, ½ dozen wooden combs, I long horn comb, I fine comb, I skein blue mixed stocking yarn, Ball of shoe thread (a little shoemakers wax, & a few bristles if convenient), Scraps of leather, calf & morocco for mending Sarah’s shoes (there is no shoemaker in this place), four awls, crooked and straight, 2 cheap tin candlesticks, (we got some at O’Neil’s for 6 cents apiece, 1 or 2 hoes without handles, if you can get them, They here ask 75c. For such hoes as they sell in Utica for 37 ½, a one bladed Jackknife worth about [MS illegible]. If you can you may get a yard of cotton plush, with trimming for a vest. I got some last fall at a clothing store an tailors’ shop about half way down Genesee St. — a cheap sodering iron and a little sodder.”

The settlers often relied on families from the communities from whence they had come from for supplies they could not easily find in Osawatomie and Miami County, and families sent boxes and shipping crates full of goods the pioneers needed to survive on the frontier.

Rarely did any early settler in Osawatomie ask for luxury items, as they were merely struggling to survive. They needed basic supplies for clothing and items that would allow them to do the work around their rudimentary homes to have the basics of life.

When supplies arrived at homes on the frontier in Osawatomie and Miami County, they were greeted with great joy.

John Everett stated in an Oct. 21, 1855, letter to friends in New York state: “That flour has just come from Saint Louis — most beautiful flour. Costs on the whole just what we would have to pay here. Thanks again to my brothers.”

Historical accounts of battles and flashing cannons make for great excitement and much interest, but we tend to forget that the primary battle the pioneers fought during the 1850s in Osawatomie and in Miami County was merely to survive and obtain the basic supplies needed to live.

It was a battle that took great courage and faith for those who stayed put and built the basic foundations of Osawatomie and Miami County.

Grady Atwater is site administrator of the John Brown Museum and State Historic Site.

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