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Margaret Phillips (b.1812 NY .- d.1894 KS); widow of Joel Phillips

  • Mamie
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06 Jul 2019 13:59 #1833 by Mamie
Auntie Phillips, One of Abilene's Pioneers, Is Dead.

One by one the historic characters of Abilene are passing away and as those who were prominent in early days are called into the other world it makes the pioneer times of Abilene seem farther removed into the past.

Monday night, just before midnight, Margaret Phillips, better known as Auntie Phillips, died at the home of her niece, Mrs. G. W. C. Rohrer, after a week's illness. She had been feeble for some months but her marvelous will power kept alive the spark of life. She was born in Arcadia (now Newark), Wayne county, New York, Jan. 17, 1812, this being a little more than 82 years of age. In 1829 she married Joel Phillips who died in 1849. She had three children, Thomas K., Joel and Emily. The first died in 1876, Joel in 1875 and Emily at three years of age. Her nearest relatives are her niece, Mrs. Rohrer; her half brother, Major W .J. Winfield, of Kansas City; and her niece by marriage, Mrs. T. W. Hicks, of Palmyra, N. Y., now visiting here.

Auntie Phillips arrived in Abilene Oct. 2, 1868. She was one of the first members of the Presbyterian church and the only one who had brought her letter at that time. She has been a faithful member since. She gave the first tea party in Abilene and has long been respected and esteemed, not alone for her personal wealth and admirable qualities of head and heart, but because of her long identification with the city's history.

Mrs. Phillips, aside from having become well and most favorably known as one of the first and oldest citizens' of Abilene and one of its first and most consistant church workers, was more or less a historic character because of the part her son Thomas played in the early history of Kansas.

We have no detailed or accurate history of this son. In a general way however, it is know that when a lad, many years before Auntie Phillips came west, Thomas disappeared. He came west and became a stage driver on the plains of Kansas, and among the mountains of the west. He became noted among the men of his time and calling for courage and good judgment in the trials and dangers of frontier life and Indian troubles. Many of his doings and sayings are yet told and repeated by those who knew him in those days. It is said that on one occasion where he had a military escort for his stage, some of the soldiers and officers talked of having a chase after buffalo. Tom was a very small man, not above five feet four inches tall, but from the boot of the stage he called to them, "You fellows better stay with me or some of you may get hurt." His advice was not heeded and several of the soldiers lost their lives.

Shortly before and during the early months of the war, Thoms spent much of his time about Leavenworth and became known as "Captain Cricket," and by this name he will be remembered by the early settlers. In 1867 he settled at what is now Abilene and for the first time since leaving home communicated with this mother, then a widow, and she and his brother, Joel came to him here - where all have lived and died. The great kindness and marked affection of the members of this somewhat strange family for each other was always remarked by those who knew them.

For many years an annual gathering of the wives of the early settlers has been held on Jan. 17th, in honor of Mrs. Phillips' birthday anniversary and Auntie has always not only the chief guest, but the most cheery of them all on such occasions. Nor was this less true when the last of these birthday parties was held only a month ago at the home of Mrs. Rohrer. Sincere sorrow is felt in many homes of Abilene today over Auntie Phillips' death. It will be to many the passing of a neighbor and near friend.

Funeral services were held at the Presbyterian church Wednesday at 3 o'clock p.m., Rev. Dr. Blayney officiating. Short services were held previously at the residence of G. W. C. Rohrer. The interment was in the Abilene cemetery.

Source: The Abilene Weekly Reflector, Abilene, Kansas, Thursday, February 22, 1894; Pg. 7, Column 4

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