|In the fall of 1853, the family moved to the
Lewis area and lived in a log cabin west of town. The land on which the
stone house was built in 1856 had been deeded by the U.S. Government to
Henry Bunn and the deed was recorded on Feb. 25, 1854. Mr. Bunn sold 120
acres (W 112 of SE 1/4 and SE 1/4 of See. 9) to George B. Hitchcock,
recorded on June 21, 1854. The house was built in 1856 using sandstone
quarried at Jester's quarry about a mile east of the Nishnabotna River. Ox
teams hauled the rock to the river where it was floated across on a raft and
then hauled up the steep hill to the high, level site of the house.
Rev. Hitchcock organized the Congregational Church
in his cabin on April 11, 1855. There were eleven charter members including
his wife and eldest daughter, Mary Tucker.
The joy of moving into the new home was dampened by a
tragedy in that same year. The Hitchcock's son, 19 year old Leang, was shot
by a friend who thought that his gun was not loaded. The young men were part
of a group that had volunteered to escort a group of settlers going to
Kansas during the time of turmoil about whether Kansas should be a slave or
a free state. The Rev. John Todd, abolitionist minister of the Tabor
Congregational Church, wrote that Mrs. Hitchcock never seemed to recover
from the shock of the death.
Rev. Hitchcock frequently wrote to the Society
Office, begging them to send out more ministers. In 1856, he pleaded with
them again "not for missionary ministers, but for missionary families to
come and settle and illustrate the Gospel in their lives, and to establish
customs in these new communities."
In 1860, in another letter to the Society, he complained
that many of the men of his church were following the lure of the mines in
Colorado. He resigned his commission in 1861 but remained at the Stone
House. In May of 1863, he received a commission for Olmstead and Exira and
at Big Grove and in Adams County. And, in May of 1864, he was given a
commission for Exira and the people in Cass, Shelby, Pottawattamie, and
Adams Counties; a vast area.
It was during his twelve years at Lewis that Rev.
Hitchcock was involved in the Underground Railroad movement, the house
having been built with the care and protection of travelers in mind. The
Civil War ended in 1865 and the Hitchcock's moved to Kingston, Missouri,
where he would have an opportunity to minister to blacks as well as whites.
He organized churches in Kingston, Brookfield, and Laclede. He wrote again
to the Society imploring them to send more ministers.
In 1869, Rev. Hitchcock was given a commission for Lowell
and Petersville, Kansas, preaching also at Baxter Springs and Tennessee
Prairie in extreme southeast Kansas.
In 1872, Rev. Hitchcock applied for an appointment to some
frontier field and was asked by the Society to explore Howard County. He
left home on the 30th of May, traveled on horseback from 250 to 300 miles,
finding places favorable for organizing churches that could be supplied by
one man. After 6 weeks absence, he returned home to make arrangements for
the move. He was not quite well, and after 2 weeks, a doctor was called who
found no reason for concern. On the morning of August 4th, he began to fail
rapidly and expired at two in the afternoon. His widow was left with four
young grandchildren largely dependent on her care. Rev. Hitchcock is buried
in Baxter Springs, Kansas.