Biography of Joseph F. Savage
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Joseph F. Savage. There are many things of interest connected with the career of Joseph F. Savage, of Coffeyville, particularly in the line of achievements and success and position gained through individual efforts and with honor. Perhaps the most interesting, however, as well as the most important in regard to the history of Kansas, is the fact that this retired banker made what was really the first treaty here with the Osage Indians, this being in 1868, when Mr. Savage was a “sooner.” Since that time his fortunes have grown and developed and he has watched what was once the Indian country develop into a center of civilization, and has done his full share in bringing about the progress that has been made.
Mr. Savage was born in Wayne County, Kentucky, February 2, 1839, and is a son of E. S. and Martha (Minges) Savage. He belongs to a family that originated in England and emigrated to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia during colonial times, and his grandfather was John Savage, who was born in Virginia in 1765 and became a pioneer of Wayne County, Kentucky. He was a farmer by vocation, fought under General Jackson in the War of 1812, and was wounded at the Battle of New Orleans, and finally passed away, honored and respected at his Kentucky home, in 1855. E. S. Savage was born in Wayne County, Kentucky, in 1795, was educated in his native locality and followed the vocation of farming throughout his life there, dying in 1863. He was a man of sterling qualities of character, and through straightforward dealing and good citizenship won the respect and esteem of his fellowmen. He was a democrat in politics. Mr. Savage married Martha Minges, who was born in 1810, in Virginia, and died in Wayne County, Kentucky, in 1855, and they became the parents of eight children, namely: John, who died young; Peggy, who married R. L. Davis, a mechanic of Louisville, Kentucky, both now being deceased; Rebecca, who died in Wayne County, Kentucky, as the wife of the late John S. Ragon, who was a farmer; Melissa, who also died in Wayne County, Kentucky, unmarried; Sallie, who died in that county as Mrs. Davis; George, who resides at Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and is a retired mechanic; Joseph F., of this review; and Selby, who is a retired educator and lives at Coffeyville.
Joseph F. Savage received his education in the district schools of Wayne County, Kentucky, and was reared on his father’s farm, on which he remained until he was seventeen years of age. At that time he came to the West, locating at Springfield, Missouri, in the vicinity of which place he worked on different farms until the outbreak of the Civil war. In 1862 he enlisted in the Eighth Regiment, Missouri Volunteer Cavalry, and with that command saw much hard fighting, being among others, in the battles of Pea Ridge, Little Rock and Shiloh, the Siege of Vicksburg, and the engagements at Tupelo, Mississippi, Prairie Grove, Arkansas, and Nashville, Tennessee. At Jenkins Ferry, on the Saline River, he was wounded through the arm, but soon rejoined his regiment and continued to fight valiantly until receiving his honorable discharge in October, 1865.
With an excellent war record, the young soldier returned to the duties of peace, and in 1867 settled in Cedar County, Southwest Missouri, where he engaged in farming until 1868. In that year Mr. Savage first came to Montgomery County, Kansas. As a sooner, he settled in the Osage country, building a log cabin two miles north of the present site of Coffeyville, his claim being one-half mile west of Talley Springs. After building his cabin, he returned to Missouri for supplies, bacon, plows, etc., and upon his return found that every bit of his improvements had been removed by the Indians. Nothing daunted, Mr. Savage rebuilt his log cabin, and on the morning after his return he was visited by Chief Claymore, of the Osage Nation, who requested him and his companions, James Phillips and William Sain, to leave the Osage country. In spite of this these pioneers continued in their building, and while so engaged received a well-written communication from Chief Claymore the gist of which was that unless they removed from the reservation within ten days, he would come with his braves and drive them out. Mr. Savage, acting as spokesman for the whites, asked Henry, the chief’s interpreter, what would be the result if the chief’s wishes were not complied with and the braves came. Henry replied that he did not know, and went away. Thus matters stood for a few days, when Mr. Savage met the chief on the prairie and invited him and one of his council, Big Elk, together with Henry, to come the next day to his cabin “when the sun was straight up,” and eat with him. The invitation was accepted, and after dinner the pipe was passed around, and, seeing that the chief was in a good humor, Mr. Savage decided upon a plan of action. From his pocket he took two silver half-dollars, and, clinking them together, attracted the attention of Claymore. Silver was then very scarce, the Government paying the Indians in greenbacks, a form of currency which they did not like. The Chief eyed the shining silver with greedy eyes, and finally Mr. Savage made the following proposition: “Claymore,” he said, “I have given you your dinner, and now I will give you this dollar, that we three be permitted to remain here with the understanding that we steal nothing from you and you steal nothing from us, and we be not disturbed while the Osages live here.” The proposition was accepted, the pipe was smoked, and thus was enacted the first kept treaty for the privilege of living in the Diminished Reserve. Later, Chief Claymore gave the three white settlers permission to plow twelve acres of land apiece for raising wheat. This interesting incident was just about a month before Colonel Coffey, the founder of Coffeyville, made his appearance.
For a period of twenty-two years Mr. Savage continued to engage in farming in that locality. His original farm consisted of 160 acres, and he still owns 320 acres about two miles north of Coffeyville, although this is not exactly his original place, as he has bought and sold on several occasions. In 1890 he became one of the organizers and original stockholders of the First National Bank of Coffeyville, and later assisted in the organization of the Caney Valley National Bank, of which he was made president, a position which he retained for twelve years. With others, he founded and put upon a paying basis the State Bank of Coffeyville, and at one time was one of the best known figures in banking circles in this part of the state, but in 1908 disposed of all his banking interests and retired. He is now living in his comfortable modern home at No. 1012 Maple Street, Coffeyville, where he also owns two modern store buildings and other real estate properties. He has various other interests, both agricultural and commercial, and during his active career showed a great interest in civic affairs, particularly when he was serving in the capacity of chairman of the Commercial Club of Coffeyville.
Mr. Savage is a democrat, but has never aspired to public office. His religious connection is with the Baptist Church. In fraternal circles, he is well and favorably known, being a thirty-second degree Mason and a member of Keystone Lodge No. 102, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons, Coffeyville, of which he is past master; Coffeyville Chapter No. 89, Royal Arch Masons; Lochinvar Commandery No. 52, Knights Templar; Wichita Consistory No. 2, Royal and Select Masters and Ararat Temple Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of Leavenworth.
In 1867, Mr. Savage was married at Osceola, Missouri, to Miss Matilda Fain, who died at Coffeyville in 1870, leaving two sons: Isaac W., who resides on his farm three miles north of Coffeyville; and Abram F., a retired farm owner living at Winfield, Kansas. In 1873, in Cedar County, Missouri, Mr. Savage was again married, being united with Miss Mary Roberson, who died in 1889 at Coffeyville. In 1900 Mr. Savage was married the third time, his bride being Miss Hettie Hobbs, of Winfield, Kansas, daughter of the late Jacob Hobbs.