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Biographical Sketches

Harmon and Jacob Gregg

Harmon and Jacob Gregg, 2 brothers with families, cleaned their long muzzle-loading rifles, loaded their wares into prairie schooners, and moved to the frontier land.

Harmon Gregg later related: "It has been a long, long time since I first came to the county of Jackson in 1825, but I have not forgotten the lives that we lived in the backwoods - those woods in which the tracks of the Indians could still be seen and the warwhoop had scarcely died away." He spoke of the days of hog and hominy, especially hominy, which his own hands many times, had made; of the hunting excursions for wild game and wild bees and their honey.(1)

The Greggs were of Quaker stock, Jacob made no pretension to religion, but he was a man of high moral character. He was public spirited, and for many years identified with the affairs of the new county. He held the office of constable in 1826 and was sheriff from 1833 to 1837. He was the father of two of Quantrill's band, WILL & FRANK GREGG. Harmon Gregg was the father of DR. JOSIAH GREGG, author of Commerce of the Prairies, an authority on the Santa Fe Trail. From 1831 to 1840 Josiah made eight expeditions to Santa Fe. His voluminous notes and journals enabled him to write a book.

The first printing of his journal was published in the New Orleans Weekly Picayune, beginning in June of 1844. The paper stated: "So rich and varied are the contents should be in the possession of every one who feels any interest in the destinies of this country, as connected with the ultimate occupation and settlement of the prairies." The book became a classic guide for the Santa Fe Trail trade. Josiah Gregg later went with GENERAL ALEXANDER DONIPHAN as an interpreter during the Mexican war and might have been the Army's official biographer except that CAPTAIN JOHN T. HUGHES had already received the assignment. (2) Gregg left the practice of medicine to become an author, explorer, trader and traveler of the trail.

When he heard of the California gold discovery, he was among the miners of 1849 on the Trinity River in northern California. When high waters threatened their camp, Gregg and 23 others left for Trinidid Bay. Most of his companions deserted him when he showed more interest in the great redwood forest than gold. Starvation beset this group. Gregg grew weak after days of subsisting only on acorns, fell from his horse, and died several hours later, on February 25, 1950 (3)

(1) Rural Rhymes and Olden Times p. 59
(2) Kansas City Post, August 3, 1907
(3) Kansas City Star, January 22, 1967; article by Lew Larkin


This page was last updated August 2, 2006.