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COMANCHE COUNTY, KANSAS: HISTORY & GENEALOGY
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George Nelson & Emma Sophia (Dewees) Sherman


Surnames in this history: Baker, Dewees, Freels, Sherman, Smith & Wing.

George Nelson Sherman, son of Joel and Harriet Sherman, was born near Charleston, Illinois, July 3, 1869. He came to this county in 1891 and went into the cattle business with his uncle Joe Sherman, south of Protection. He was living with them that spring, when a flash flood on Cavalry Creek swept away their sod house. He, and the ten other people living there, escaped drowning by riding all night on their wooden roof, nearly to the Cimarron River, until S.S. Smith and his young son, Frank, rescued them.

He married Emma Sophia Dewees. She was one of the county's earliest settlers, coming to Collier Flats in 1884 with her family by covered wagon. She was born in Grayson County, Kentucky, January 16, 1870, being the third child of Wm. S. and Valinda Wing Dewees. When she was two years of age her mother died and she was reared in a happy home by her father and kindly step-mother, Rebecca Freels Dewees.

Emma attended the first school in Collier Flats, a three month subscription school, taught in the Jarnagin dugout by her aunt, Lou Dewees. In 1889 Emma taught her first of nine terms of school, seven in Comanche County and two in Oklahoma.

George loved high spirited horses. Throughout their four year courtship, and in later married life on the farm, there were innumerable incidents of runaways, with and without riders or drivers, or high-speed rides in the cart, hitched to an uncontrollable race horse, or having to get into the wagon from behind, while it was in motion, because he couldn't make his team of 'broncos' stand still, and then the horses would take out whichever direction they were headed, perhaps circling in a field before getting them onto the road. One night at a box supper and dance at the Heart School, the team became entangled in the harness, the barbed wire fence and the wagon tongue. In getting them freed, he ripped his NEW suit pants from waistband to hem.

George's fast horses enabled him and Uncle Joe to lead the race when the gun was fired September 16, 1893, to open the Cherokee Strip. Emma and her father also made the race, but none of them kept their claims. George and Joe went back to Joe's farm and Emma went back to teach at Comanche City.

The Dewees family had moved to Oklahoma, so the following summer, Emma stayed at Baker's. Her best friend Ella Baker, and Alice helped her make her wedding dress of grey wool cashmere. George and Emma were married September 26, 1894 in Coldwater, and moved to Uncle Charley's place, four miles south of Protection. George tended the livestock and Emma taught school at Pleasant View, south of Coldwater, and stayed there during the week.

In the fall of 1895, after topping the Kaffir corn, they moved to the Blackjack country, south of Waynoka, Oklahoma, where they homesteaded a claim. They lived in a tent while they were building their cedar-lined dugout. Once, while she was milking, the cedar ceiling caught fire around the stovepipe and she extinguished it by throwing her bucket of milk on it.

Their two children were born there: Otto Raymond on September 3, 1898 and Edyth Belle on May 30, 1901.

In 1911 they moved to Kansas City, Kansas, where they established the Sherman-Brooks Furniture Company.

In 1923 they moved to Long Beach, California, and later to North Hollywood, California. George was engaged in several business enterprises until 1933 when his health began to fail, and he was forced to retire. After his retirement, they lived most of the time with their son, Otto, north of Coldwater, until George's death, January 4, 1940, and Emma's death, October 7, 1952.

Emma left a wealth of writings, vividly depicting the trials and hardships of pioneer life on this virgin prairie.


By Phyliss Sherman, Comanche County History, page 683, published by the Comanche County Historical Society, Coldwater, Kansas, 1981.

Kaffir corn: (Sorghum bicolor) is a tropical African variety of sorghum used for human and animal food; bread and coffee for humans and grain and forage for animals. It is grown in dry regions in Africa and was imported for use in the American Great Plains. In appearance and growth habit it is similar to Indian corn except that the leaf edges are saw-toothed.


Another on-site reference to growing Kaffir corn:

Jess White: A few Reminiscences of Pioneer Life in Comanche-co.; Life on a Ranch in Comanche-co.
The Western Star, March 4, 1922.


Also see:

Obituary: Otto Raymond SHERMAN, The Western Star, June 2, 1966.

COMANCHE COUNTY'S GREATEST FLOOD   The Western Star, May 23, 1891.

James Frank Smith "In the spring of 1891, a neighbor stopped by the Smith's around noon and mentioned that another neighbor, the Shermans, had been seen around midnite on Bluff Creek, floating downstream on their roof of their house. The Smith's found the Shermans caught on some debris where the Bluff Creek empties into the Cimarron River. J. Frank was sent into the water with a rope around his waist and leading a horse in order to help the Joe Shermans from their raft in the water. It took several entries into the murky and swirling water to rescue this cold and very uncomfortable family of eleven. Six were children, all under the age of 6, and a grandmother over eighty. The family was taken to the Stephen Smith and A. H. Baker homes for food and dry clothing. The community was so enraged at this man named Jeffreys, who didn't get help for the Shermans sooner, he finally left the country."


Comanche County, Kansas, United States of America


This page added to the site by Jerry Ferrin on 06 Sept 2002; it was last updated 10 April 2005; thanks to Bobbi (Hackney) Huck for her help with this page.