Joel Haworth  of Kansas

Editor's Notes:  We have a huge amount of data on this family, compliments of  Virginia Baker Schneider, who helped compile the book, "Joel Haworth - Lyon County, Kansas Pioneer, Ancestors and Descendants 1699 to 1978",  and Patrick Hayworth.  Mrs. Schneider sent me the book, and Patrick Hayworth found a copy of it in the Emporia Kansas Library.  And we also received pictures of  Joel's house and cemetery from Deana Stevens/Beeman.  We appreciate their help.  Thank you.

Patrick writes:  The book was in an Emporia Kansas Library.  The museum there has quite a bit of information on Joel, as well as a nice photograph.  The house on the hill is still there, and privately owned.  The Haworth Cemetery has my great grandfather - Thomas Hayworth - buried there next to his first wife, Ellen Smith Haworth.  the name change ("y") for us apparently came when Thomas moved to Colorado, with his second wife.

Patrick Hayworth's family line is: (George & Sarah (Scarborough), - James & Sarah (Wood),  James & Mary (Reese), James & Phoebe (Thornburg), Joel (1819-1883) & Sarah (McKee), Thomas(1844-1918) & Ellen (Smith), Clark(1870-1953)  & Leila (White), Delbert(1912-1986) & Mary (Owens),  Patrick (1944 -). 

Ron Haworth, July 2008 



Joel's House


                                                 Pictures of the "Secrete Room                                           


Joel Haworth

Joel Haworth ( George - James - James - James - Joel)  of Emporia Kansas helped slaves escape. 

 Joel was about three when his family moved from Ohio to Indiana.  He met and married Sarah McKee there in 1841 when he was 23.  They lived in Marion County, Indiana until 1850 where three sons were born:  Thomas, John and James.  James died of diphtheria in 1850 when he was just two years old.  That same year, Joel moved his family to Washington County, Iowa, where Joel worked as a wagon maker.  In 1851 they had another son, Elias, who died two years later, also of diphtheria.
The family moved to Lyon County, Kansas in 1854 in a prairie schooner drawn by oxen.  They lived in the wagon until a log home could be built.  When the boys were old enough for school, Sarah lived with her parents in Tarkio, Atchison County, Missouri for a short time and placed the boys in school.  Joel purchased machinery to set up a sawmill and returned to Kansas to set up the first sawmill in the county.  In 1857, he secured machinery for a gristmill, and brought his family back to Kansas.  In 1858, Joel built a 12 x 12 foot slab school house in the corner of his yard.  This was known as the Haworth School until 1863 when a larger school was built.
In 1862 the sawmill owned by Joel and his partner, W.T. Soden, burned down.

 Joel built a large house on a hill on his farm that overlooked the Cottonwood Valley.  He used native lumber sawed at his sawmill.  The Haworth House on the Hill was a haven to escaping Negro slaves.  In an upstairs attic bedroom behind built-in cupboards were spaces with ample room for a person to hide.


 "An attempt was made about the last of December to kidnap a Negro named Charley, who lived with Joel Haworth, about seven miles west of Emporia, on the Cottonwood.  He was surprised by a loud mouthed fellow named Freeman, who lived near the junction, and a man who pretended to be his owner, but whose name is not given.  Soon the parties with whom Charley was hunting gave the alarm, and some neighbors came to the rescue.  After considerable parlaying the Negro hunters agreed to go to Mr. Haworth's house to allow Charley to exhibit his freedom papers.  While crossing the river In a canoe, Charley became invisible.  After storming around awhile in regular slave-hunting style, Freeman and his friends left, threatening all kinds of vengeance on Mr. Haworth, including the burning of his mill.  The next morning the Negro, dressed in a suit of women's clothes, was put in a wagon and started for Harvey's on Dragoon Creek, Osage County, the next underground station.  He had been brought to Mr. Haworth's by Sam Wood.  He was in charge of W.T. Soden, and when they reached the Neosho crossing who should they run onto but Freeman and his brother watering their horses.  The Negro was badly frightened, so much so that he shook the wagon.  If Mr. Soden could have had his choice just at that time he would have been anywhere else than at the ford, because the Freeman's were both heavily armed.  However, they did not molest the Negro or his friend, and they landed at their destination in safety, and some Missouri slave owner lost a valuable piece of property."

 Joel died on August 13, 1883,  at the age of 63.  His obituary read in part:
"...He was a man who loved a quiet life, and always, even during the stirring political times of the boarder strife, avoided anything like political prominence.  He was an ardent abolitionist, and even when that school of political faith was regarded with hate by a large majority of the people, Joel Haworth delighted in it.  ... Mr. Haworth was always esteemed as widely as he was known.  We might safely say that he was a good specimen of the "noblest work of God, an honest man."  Some years ago he embraced the Advent religion, and has spent some time in preaching the doctrines of that sect in different parts of the country.  Mr. Haworth, as far as we ever know, led a life "void of offense."

The children of Joel Haworth and wife Sarah McKee of Lyon Co., Kansas were: 

1. Thomas Elwood, b 1 January 1844 Indiana, d 31 December 1918 Colorado;

2. John Wesley born 19 April 1846 Indiana, died (Obit 30 Sept 1925 Calif.);

3. James Clarkson b 9 November 1848 Indiana, d 9 April 1850 Indiana;

4. Elias b 11 August 1851 Iowa; d August 1853 Iowa;

5. Phoebe Ann b 4 July 1855 Iowa, d 3 February 1937 Kansas;

6. Rachael Eliza b 20 October 1857 Kansas, d 4 April 1943 Kansas;

7. Elijah Franklin b 13 April 1860 Kansas, d 24 April 1943 Canada, on a visit;

8. Martin Luther b 11 July 1862 Kansas, d 26 April 1944 Kansas.


 Joel was buried in the Haworth Cemetery in Emporia which is on land he presented to the public for burial.

 Here is a link to further details about the cemetery: Haworth Cemetery  


Joel Haworth" book

                Click on the thumbnail to open the "Joel Haworth" book.




Source:  The book titled: Joel Haworth - Lyon County, Kansas Pioneer, Ancestors and Descendants 1699 to 1978", Compiled by Louise Rhodes Baker, Virginia Baker Schneider, and Aletha Pearl Thomas, dated May 1 1978.  Portions (10 pages) of this book are shown here.

Haworth School

Here are some pictures of the now abandoned Haworth School.

                 Click on the thumbnail to expand the picture.

     Views of the abandoned school.


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