The Kansas Pioneer Falwell Family

The Falwell family were true pioneers of Kansas. Richard Falwell was born in the year 1788. He was of English ancestry. His wife, Margaret Rucker (Snyder) was a widow when he married her. She was nine years younger than he was. She was soon a widow again, because Richard died at age twenty-seven. Margaret lived to be eighty-four before she died. It is not known where they were born, or where they lived and died. It is known their son, Ephriam, was born in 1814. That was just a year before his father's death.

Ephriam Falwell married Mary Starr in 1836. She was eighteen at that time. She was born in Noble County, Ohio. Eighteen years after they were married, they took up a homestead near what is now Atchison, Kansas. That was in 1854, before Kansas was granted statehood, which occured in 1861. It must have been hard for Mary to cope with the hard pioneer life on the edge of civilization, since she was from a well-to-do family back east. Their only known issue were a son, William Upton, and daughters, Margaret, Elizabeth (Ella), Letha, Mandy (Mary) and George Emma (Emma).

Ella (Falwell) Wendall, William’s sister, was a wealthy widow when she died in 1930. William set about trying to prove that he was an heir. He was doomed to disappointment, because he could not find his mother's birth records. The records were burned in a courthouse fire. He never could prove he really was the old lady's heir. He never gave up hope though. He lived to be an old man, and he was sure that someday he would go to the mailbox and find his fortune there. The following poem was written by William's sister, Emma, while she was a student in school. It tells about all of the Falwell sisters, and William as the curly-haired boy.


The Children of A Pioneer

Margaret the eldest sweet and fair,
In her guileless heart was ever a song or prayer.
And in the depths of her hazel eyes,
Was a light from the hills of paradise.
Elizabeth came as a Valentine,
A while in the cottage home to shine.
Her eyes were as blue as the summer skies,
When sunlight over the landscape lies.
Letha bright Letha the household pet,
With soft dark eyes and curls of jet.
Her every thought was filled with love,
As pure as Angels in heaven above.
Mandy so queenly slim and tall,
Would grace with her presence cottage, palace
or hall.
Nature to her a charm had lent,
That gave her favor wherever she went.
William Upton, a curly-haired boy,
Of his parent's hearts the pride and joy.
A sturdy little fellow full of fun,
And guileless in heart as cloistered nun.
Half in earnest and half in fun,
George Emma, they named the youngest one.
Disappointed because she was not a boy,
A playmate for their pride and joy.
December the month of joy and cheer,
The wedding bells rang loud and clear.
When Margaret left the house so dear,
Another house a while to cheer.
Six years had passed, the bells tolled low,
The little house was filled with woe.
Beautiful Margaret with hazel eyes,
Joined the Angels in paradise.
They folded her white hands on her breast,
And laid her down in her grave to rest.
April the month with smile and tear,
The wedding bells again rang clear.
And solemn words were said,
As white robed Elizabeth was wed.
Letha bright Letha the household pet,
With soft dark eyes and curls of jet.
Fled one dark and stormy night,
And married the man of her hearts delight.

William Falwell had pitch black hair and blue eyes. His wife, Elizabeth Owens, was twenty years old when they were married in 1869. Her family were Welsh. She was a slim girl, with black hair and green eyes. She did not stay slim. She tended to get heavy as she grew older. One of her grandchildren said of her, "I remember my grandmother was so kindhearted that she really ate my mud pies, to make me think she liked them."

William and Elizabeth had three sons, William, John and Charles. Two daughters were born to them, Amanda, named after William's sister, and Mary. After his other sister, George Emma, heard about the new baby, she wanted it named after her. So they tacked her name on too, Mary Savannah George Emma. Her name was longer than she was when she was born. Amanda died when she was a small child, and Mary was raised as the only girl in the family

Mary was a tiny girl, barely five feet tall on her tiptoes. She never weighed over one hundred pounds in her life, unless she was pregnant. That is not surprising since she weighed less than two pounds when she was born, in a two room log cabin, on the banks of the Waukarusa River, near Richland, Kansas. The year was 1870, and the old country doctor said, "We will just lay this baby aside, because she is too little to survive." Her mother was not one to give up though, and she proved she was right. Mary lived a long life and had seven children.

Mary's father took her to Lawrence on her first outing after she was born. He saw a baby doll in the shop window and he told the shopkeeper that his baby was small enough to wear the doll's shoes. The man said, "If there is a baby alive that is tiny enough to wear the doll's shoes. I will give them to her." Mary was brought into the store and her little feet just fit into the doll shoes. Her daughter, Eva, has these tiny shoes sealed in a jar, to keep as a keepsake. They are scuffed at the toes with wear, proving they were worn by a real baby.

Ron Goodman Notes for Ephriam Falwell and Mary Starr:

1840 Census: Beaver Twp., Guernsey Co., OH, p. 408. Ephraim Folwell and family, immediately below Jno. Starr, Jr. and family.

1850 Census: Lake Twp., Buchanan Co., MO, p. 87/1210/1218. Ephriam Falwell and family. Ages of children from this census image. In this census, Ephriam says he was born in Virginia, which is our first indication of that.

Using Ephriam’s birth place as Virginia, and tracing the Falwells back in the 1790 to 1830 US census records, it seems that William Falwell, patriarch of this family, is first found in 1790 in the Water Street East Side District in Philadelphia, PA. In 1800, William is in High Street Ward, Philadelphia, PA, along with John, Nathan and Richard (too old to be father of Ephriam) Falwell, and another William Falwell. Many of the family then migrated first to Buckingham County VA, where they are found in 1810 and 1820. Some remained in Buckingham, while three brothers, John, William and Richard, went to Albemarle County, VA where Richard is found in the 1830 census with his family and 8 slaves.

1857 and 1859 Kansas Census, Shannon Twp., Atchison Co., KS. 1857 p. 5, Ephriam Falwell and family.

Ephriam Falwell’s Military Record:

Enlisted as a Private on 08 June 1863, Leavenworth, KS. Served in Company I, 2nd Cavalry Kansas.

Enlisted in Company H, 15th Cavalry Regiment Kansas on 02 October 1863.

Received a disability discharge Company H, 15th Cavalry Regiment Kansas on 10 January 1865 in Fort Leavenworth, KS


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