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Vanatta, Thomas


Posted By: JCGS Volunteer
Date: 9/15/2014 at 15:34:41

Various newspaper articles about his life

A Just Tribute – Newton Record says
Uncle Tommy Vanatta last week packaged up all his goods and accompanied his son Charlie to Montezuma where he will make his home. Newton will miss Uncle Tommy and we feel quite sure that his old heart will turn longingly toward Newton very often. Why not? He came to Jasper county in 1855, from near Pittsburg, Penn., when there was scarcely anything at all of Newton and the settlements around were few and far between; he made his first home on the broad prairie north of town, near the old “College Farm” and endured all the privations of pioneer life, until about twenty-one years ago when he and his aged companion-now dead- moved to Newton to find a quiet home in which to end their days. We have all learned to love him; and why shouldn’t we, after the pleasant associations of so many years, feel a mutual sorrow at saying goodbye? He has now passed his 85th birthday, and we trust he may be spared for many years more. He says that while he lives he will make visits to his friends here, and that when the end comes he will find a sweet resting place beside his wife and children and hundreds of old friends in Newton’s beautiful “church yard.”
Source: Montezuma (IA) Weekly Republican; August 27, 1902

Thomas Vanatta talks interestingly of the early days in this part of Iowa. He located in Jasper county in 1854. That was nearly a half century ago. He describes an encounter he had with a wolf in a most interesting way. In that day there was a species of large, gray wolves and they were somewhat vicious when cornered. He says that a wolf will never look back when running from you. If it wants to ascertain where you are it will stop, turn around and face you in an effort to get you properly located. He spied a large fellow one day and gathered his rifle and started in pursuit. He had to load the gun as he walked along and he was doing this with all dispatch. When the wolf would turn to take a view of the situation Mr. Vanatta would turn his course a little to one side in order to make it appear that he was not following the animal. Finally he had his gun loaded and the wolf turned around to take another look. Here was the opportunity. He realized that the shot would be a long one and he was in some doubt as to whether his gun would carry the distance. Just as he was ready to shoot the wolf turned his side toward him and he fired. The bullet struck its spine, uncoupled the backbone near the loins and disabled the fellow so that he only had use of his front limbs. However, with these he was bale to make considerable progress by dragging his hind parts. Imagine Mr. Vanatta’s surprise when the wolf made a sudden turn and started directly toward him. The gun was unloaded and a retreat was in order pending the loading of the rifle. As he moved as rapidly as possible while loading, the wolf kept gaining on him and finally came so near that he was forced to turn on the infuriated beast and defend himself with his gun barrel. He struck at the animal and it caught the barrel with its tusks and he says to this day the imprint of the teeth of that wolf are still visible on that gun. He had a couple of dogs at home and these he called and it was not long until they came to the rescue and the wolf was dispatched. Many of the early settlers in this locality can recall the times when wolves would be howling around their homes the greater part of the night at certain seasons of the year. The wolves that were here then were quite different from the coyotes that we have now. They meant business, especially when roaming over the country in packs.
Source: Montezuma (IA) Weekly Republican; March 18, 1903

Uncle Tommy Vanatta Celebrated Natal Day in Kansas
C. F. Vanatta has handed us a copy of the Daily News, published at Lyons, Kansas and dated April 11, 1907, in which is given an account of the celebration that day of the 90th birthday of his father and our friend, Thomas Vanatta, who has been spending the winter with his daughter, Mrs. Abe Young, in Lyons. The editor of the paper is E. H. Young, a grandson of father Vanatta. The article will be of great interest to many readers of the Republican, so we give it in full:
“A reunion of the Vanatta-Young clan was held today at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Abe Young. Nearly all of the members of the family were present and enjoyed a glorious feast. With all of the family assembled it was discovered that the sum of the ages of the oldest of the four generations present amounted to 194 years.
“Mr. Thomas Vanatta, Mrs. Young’s father, and the oldest member present, is 90 years of age. He was born in Beaver county, Penn. In 1837, he married Miss Martha Shearer and made his home in Pennsylvania until 1846 when he moved to Iowa, living in Muscatine county until 1854 when he moved to Jasper county, same state, which has since been his home. Mr. Vanatta has had the interesting experience of watching the development of the west, having made a trip to Pike’s Peak in 1859 and 1860 with an ox team, and an extensive visit to Kansas in 1876. Since the death of his wife several years ago, Mr. Vanatta has made his home with his children, and has spent the winter months with his daughter, Mrs. Abe Young, in Lyons, where he has a host of friends.
“Mrs. Hanna Young, of the second generation is one of four surviving children of a family of twelve. She was born in Iowa in 1850, and came to Kansas in 1873 with her husband, Abe Young, to locate on a homestead six miles west of Lyons.
“The third generation was represented by “we” the editor of the News with 36 summers to our credit and a history which modesty withholds.”
Source: Montezuma (IA) Weekly Republican; May 1, 1907


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