Jesse Thomas Banister, 19th Century Wagon Master on the Kansas Plains

A little more about me on this lovely 5th day of April in the Year of Our Lord 2014:

(Note:  I’m not sure whether I’ve covered any of this in an earlier post or not and I don’t have the inclination nor the energy to back to see.  And for the same two reasons, I haven’t spent much time proofreading this post.  So if you come across something that seems familiar — or grammatically incorrect/misspelled — just move on.  No need to alert me.  I’m not going to correct or delete it anyway …)  ;>)

I’m an old guy who is determined to do all I can to get significantly older. When the clock tolled midnight on March 31st, 2014, I began the 76th year of my sojourn in the rotating ball.

75 years on the green side of the grass. My dad and my grandfather both made to just short of their 87th birthdays. One of my grandfather’s brothers made it to 98 and his sister gave up the ghost just short of the century mark.

I’m gonna shoot for triple digits and pray for good health.

It’s been an interesting life so far. My lovely and loving wife and I will celebrate 55 years of wedded bliss come October 31, 2014.

We have four kids, two of each gender. All married.

12 grandkids and 19 great grandkids.

I am the oldest of seven siblings — five sisters and a brother. My youngest sister is just ten months older than my oldest daughter.

It’s been an interesting life. I come from a rural background. My great grandfather, Jesse Thomas Banister was a wagon master for military wagon trains coming out of Fort Riley, Kansas during the Civil War.

In that capacity, he was lanced by a Pawnee Indian while traveling to one of the far western Kansas forts.

The story as was passed down through the family to my generation:

The wagon train was winding around one of the deep canyons that anyone who has wandered the countryside in the western part of Kansas can easily visualize.

It was late in the day. He needed to get to the front of the train to stop and camp for the night.

He had been shooting at prairie dogs, which back then were the bane of a horseman. The vast prairie dogs towns were filled with tunnels into which a horse could step and break a leg.

In a hurry, Jesse Thomas holstered his empty revolver and headed down the deep arroyo to take a shortcut to the lead wagon.

As he galloped out of sight of the train down the canyon, from out of a side ravine charged five Indians with bows and lances. The lead brave thrust his lance at Jesse, who simultaneously pulled his empty revolver and pointed it at the attackers.

Not being willing to face the firearm with bow and lance, the five Indians (who, of course, had no idea the pistol was empty) did and about face and headed back up the draw from which they had first appeared.

Jesse Thomas had sustained a flesh wound which, while bleeding profusely, was not fatal. Holding his forearm against his side to staunch the blood flow, he quickly made it back to the front of the train, where he was treated for his wound.

He made a full recovery and lived another half-century.

According to my grandfather, Claude Banister, who was still some 20 years from being born and heard the story much later, once the wagon train had reached its destination, his dad was sure that he recognized some of the loiters around the post as the perpetrators of the attack.

But being unable to prove it, since there were no other witnesses, he could do nothing about it.


Jesse went on to become a section gang foreman for a railroad, mailman/postmaster for Ogden, Kansas and Kansas farmer.

He died in 1910, 19 years before I was born. How I’d love to have been able to hear his stories firsthand.


Expect a longer post about Jesse Thomas on my Blog, as time permits.


About other miscellaneous subjects of no particular world importance:

I have eclectic tastes and that has been reflected in the vocations and avocations I’ve pursued.

I am the third generation of Banisters to pursue the carpentry trade. We’re pretty good at it, probably because we start working at it early in life.

From age ten on, my summers were spent going to work with my dad, who was a housing contractor.

I went on to become a carpenter, foreman, then commercial construction superintendent.

But having too much nervous energy, I tend to keep a full plate.

So while working days in construction, I went to school evenings for most of the period between age 21 and age 44.

I wound up earning a MA in Counselor Education with a minor in Business Administration. I earned Kansas certification as a high school teacher, counselor and administrator.

Ultimately, I would use all three sets of credentials.

My avocations are reading, writing (fiction, poetry and rambles such as this one), photography (mostly of nature and pets), gardening and spending time in God’s natural world.

We have a 110 acre farm near Rock Port in the Northwest corner of Missouri which is as close to heaven as I expect to get in this life. It’s been in my wife’s family since the first decade of the 20th century.

I fell in love with it the first time I saw in 1958.

And that love affair has become more passionate as the years have accumulated.


That’s enough for now.

Should you have an interest, I post on my blog once a week or so. Photos, happenings, and musings about the myriad subjects that pop into my head from time to time.

Some more interesting than others …

You can also visit my website (, which I update less frequently than this blog but still semi-regularly.

Maybe I’ll see you either here or there.

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