The subject of this article came among the widely-scattered settlers of the Vashti neighborhood of Clay county in 1885, after having spent one year in the county on a rented farm north of the county seat. Casting his lot permanently with the community of which he is now a worthy member, he purchased a half section of the Peters colony land, then controlled by the Red River Cattle Company, and proceeded intelligently and industriously with the building of his future home.
The state of New Jersey is the mother of the Estlacks. The family was founded there many generations back, and just across the Delaware river from Philadelphia lies the ground sacred to their memories and dedicated to the scenes of their pioneer American activities. The paternal grandfather of our subject married a Miss Chew and among their nine sons and two daughters were the sons Bowman, Edmund, Joseph and Jesse. The last named was the father of Alfred Estlack, of this review, and came to maturity amid rural surroundings and married his first wife there. He migrated to Ohio in the —50s and there married a Miss Taggers. He made his way westward step by step, stopping near Peoria, Illinois, for a time, then at Council Bluffs, Iowa, where his second wife died, and finally at Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, his last home east of the Great American Desert, or the plains country of the west. About 1857 he crossed these plains to Colorado and took up his location on a farm, where he married a Mrs. Lutz, a widow lady, and he died in 1881, at sixty-four years of age.
The children of Jesse Estlack who came to maturity were those of his first wife, viz: Rosa, who died in Colorado as the wife of Alonzo Babcock; Alfred, of this notice; and Zebadee, who returned to New Jersey and resides in the county of his nativity.
Alfred Estlack—s birth occurred April 6, 1848. As already noted his childhood and youth were passed in frontier communities and he was only eleven years of age when he reached the principal city of the Rockies. His first trip over the plains was an uneventful one, except for the wearisome journey of weeks required to span the distance from Omaha to Denver. In 1864 he made another trip over this same hostile country and their train encountered the red man in all his savagery and fury, bent on the destruction of every white man who dared to venture across his domain. On the trip east the caravan consisted of three trains and at Julesburg, Nebraska, the Indians attacked at night and killed one man. They followed the progress of the caravan, recruiting their horde, until Alkali Station was reached, where they again attacked, several thousand strong, and all day the battle continued, the Indians capturing and burning one train of twelve wagons and killing fifteen men, but they were finally driven away with many dead warriors dangling from their ponies and many shields lying upon the battlefield. The Cheyennes, Arapahoes and Sioux had combined their strength in 1864 and 1865 and the bunch came upon and assailed and harassed trains again at O’Fallon’s Bluffs, but with no serious results to the whites. In 1865 Mr. Estlack made the return trip home and this train was also set upon by hostile bands and one-half the horses run off. When within a hundred miles of Denver he decided to make the trip on horseback, as the remaining distance was considered in the peaceful zone. He was warned that Indians had been ravaging that country and were then doing their worst among the settlers of the valley of the Platte river. Half way to Denver he rode a race with the red skins, with the river between them, for several miles and finally reached a cabin where the owner had, only a few hours before, barricaded himself against the wild man of the plains, who finally gave up the siege. He remained there for the night and finished his journey on the following day without further exciting incident.
As his permanent Colorado home Mr. Estlack chose a tract of land fourteen miles south of Denver, which he improved, his father having selected the site in 1862 and having passed his remaining years there, and he was engaged in farming and stock-raising till in the ’80s, when he disposed of his possessions and came southeast to Texas.
When he first saw Denver it was little more than a hamlet and he watched its growth to a metropolis of 60,000 people and witnessed the substantial development of the surrounding country into a populous and wealthy suburb of Denver. The old farm where he lived so long, now the property of ex-United States Senator E. O. Wolcott, is valued at a princely sum, as compared with the good round price paid our subject to induce him to part with it.
Mr. Estlack was married at Silver City, Colorado, in February, 1880, to Clisto Miller, a daughter of Daniel and Lucy (Campbell) Miller, who went to Colorado from Ohio, but who came to Clay county to spend their declining years. Here, near Vashti, Mrs. Miller died in 1896, while Mr. Miller makes his home with Mr. and Mrs. Estlack. Mrs. Estlack is one of six children, namely: Jesse, of Cape Girardo [Girardeau], Missouri; L. J. and Allen Dale, both with the parental home; Rosa, likewise with the family; Edwin, deceased; and Raymond, the youngest, a school-boy.
The political history of the Estlacks shows them to have been Democrats in the early time, and the political action of our subject was with that party up till 1892, wen he deserted Mr. Cleveland, and has since exercised a political action independent of party affiliation.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 683-684.