The Lewis and Riner families were among the
founders of the Burr Oak United Methodist Church,
which began in 1873.
[notice the symbolism of the twelve and the upper room]
on June 28, 1873. The first class met in the upper room
of a local log cabin on that date. Of “the twelve,” our family
members were Thomas Lewis, brother of our great-grandfather
Cal “CE” Lewis; Robert Richland Skeels [RR] and his wife
Susannah Riner Skeels. She was the sister of great-great
they were joined by Harve J and Mary Skeels Grubbs,
[grandparents of Homer Lewis]. CS Pangborn [married
[Mary’s brother] and his wife Jennie Lewis [Cal’s sister]. Cal
which paid the minister’s salary [annual renewal].
was great-great grandmother Mary Riner Clayton, our
to Burr Oak in 1886 to be near her Riner sisters and brother.
Her daughter Belle, a widow, came with her mother and
her two small daughters. Soon Belle she renewed her
1928. [saddened only by the deaths of two of their children,
In 1870, following the death of his wife and son, Cal Lewis,
our great-grandfather went to Burr Oak, Kansas and made
a claim. Soon after his older brother Thomas joined him.
Thomas had been taken prisoner during a raid by the 9th Illinois
Calvary in Tennessee and placed in the Libby Prison for a time
and then taken to the Andersonville Prison. He was kept in
the two prisons for nine months, but was liberated and received
an honorable discharge from the army at the close of the war.
Their brother William Lewis and his wife Phoebe along
with their sister Jennie and her husband Will Riner came
in September 1872 [some sources say 1871]. Cal, Tom, William,
and Will Riner, and their cousin Tom Miller had all served
together for three years with the 9th Illinois Calvary. Soon
Will Riner’s family began to join him: Susanah & R R Skeels
came in March 1872. Cyrus Pangbourn and Roseanna Riner
came in March 1882. Hannah Riner and Jesse Drake arrived
in 1888. After she was widowed, our gg-grandmother Mary
Riner Clayton also came to Burr Oak in 1886, along with her
daughter Belle Hunt Fry. Soon afterwards, on April 29, 1886, Cal
and Belle were married at her uncle’s home in New Bedford, Iowa.
Cal’s brother David stayed in Onarga, IL on the family claim. Cal’s
sister Sarah & Ben Brown also pioneered in Kansas, as did Jacob
Riner, Daniel’s oldest son. The Riner-Lewis-Miller-Pangbourn-
Skeels, Grubbs, and Drake family farms line two roads in Burr Oak
Township, out toward Otego and White Rock. All these siblings
and cousins came to Kansas together and lived [and prospered]
on a line of farms in north-central Kansas.