The One and Only

While researching one man’s life, I’ve been introduced to an assortment of fascinating characters he bumped into.  One of these was an unfortunate settler whose first name eluded me for a long time.  He is known in Jewell County history as “Arch” Bump, although other sources call him Richard or Andrew.  A few took the safest route, referring to him only as “Mr. Bump.”  A few years ago I found a land record where he had written his name as Ark Bump, and I was finally on the right track.  Logging on to I combed through family trees until I ran across an entry for an Arktiles Bump who had been killed in Jewell County in 1867. 

Bump actually died at Upton Creek in Cloud County as he was driving a wagon from his farm in Jewell County.  After the White Rock Massacre, most refugees from Jewell County stayed with friends at Clyde in Cloud County or Clifton in Washington County.  Arktiles must have bunked with the Vinson Davis family, because Vinson went with him to check on the condition of his crops.  It had been a cold spring, the growing season got off to a slow start, and Bump’s grain was not yet ripe.  The two men were on the final leg of their return trip when they were ambushed by peddlers who mistook them for rivals and hoped to rub out the competition.  Vinson took a load of shot in his chest, but survived.  Arktiles Bump was killed instantly.  The peddlers fled to Washington County, but were dragged back, given two days to “prove their innocence,” and then were lynched.

Parents were sometimes whimsical when it came to naming their offspring.  Thomas Lovewell’s Uncle Lyman gave all of his children, except one, a name starting with “L.”  Perhaps Philander and Phoebe Bump wanted something distinctive for their boys, for after naming their firstborn “Arktiles,” they named his brother “Arktuly.”  Since Arktiles was usually called “Ark,” the brother’s name may have been intended as a pun.

Arktiles Bump lived a brief life and had no children, yet he managed to leave behind a memorable fragment of himself, a pair of letters written to his sister in California.  He suggests that he and various family members should get likenesses made so they could all exchange them.  He complains about a lingering malady he had picked up from his time as a California Volunteer, and gives details of daily life such as exchanging coins for spendable greenbacks and trudging sixteen miles through the mud instead of paying a livery stable eight dollars to rent a horse.

The frontier had few champion spellers, but besides being the only Arktiles I have ever heard of, Ark Bump also distinguished himself with his eccentric misspellings, as when he tells his sister that he had gone to Port Colburn and “found a lot of soalgiers thire.”

© Dale Switzer 2023