Sticking together and family. Those were the most important things to her. Sarah Alice Salmans (1866-1957), daughter of Levi Franklin Salmans (1841-1912) and Rosa Jane Brown (1843-1888), served as the oldest child in a family of five girls and five boys. Good deeds were likely plentiful when you had to help raise the youngsters.
She had moved from her birthplace in Ohio with her father, pregnant mother and little sister to Illinois in 1870. Once Levi Salmans saw the smoke from the neighbor’s fire, the itch to wander began working on him. Before they moved again to Kansas in 1885, the rest of the children had been born.
At age 19, Sarah, or Allie as the family called her, found a job for top wages of $3.00 a week and bought what she called “fussy” clothes with her own money – a black skirt and white shirtwaist. A straw hat with three yellow plumes served as the most important piece she had. When indians came through, she hid the hat so it wouldn’t be taken.
Her youngest sibling, a baby boy, died soon after childbirth in December of 1887. Her mother’s health began failing soon after and Rosa Jane wouldn’t see Christmas 1888. A severe crop failure in 1888 and now the death of her mother blew an ill wind through their homestead on the “Stroud Quarter Section”.
Sacrifices were going to have to be made and Allie stepped up to begin her latest good deed. Her sister, Mary Margaret, was 20 and Belle was 18 at the time of their mother’s death. Mary Margaret married Wes Kabler soon after to take another mouth from the table. Belle took in laundry and baking for the neighborhood bachelors and was married within another year. Allie, however, pledged to her father she would stay and help raise the other siblings, ages 4 to 14, until they were grown. The fortitude of this prairie woman, whose commitment to her family jeopardized her own happiness, was immeasurable.
Siblings grew, ventured off to marry and work and begin homesteads of their own. The century turned and in the fall of 1900, Sarah Alice Salmans married Joseph William Abbott. On their wedding day, October 8, Levi Salmans called his daughter and new son-in-law outside to the cow lot. “He had divided his cattle and gave Will and me half for me taking care of the other children all those years.”
Aunt Allie and Uncle Will never had children of their own, but Allie’s siblings provided many, many Salmans nieces and nephews on the prairie. The family prospered and at one time, a large part of Hodgeman County, Kansas was owned by a descendant of Levi Franklin and Rosa Jane Brown Salmans.
Commitment to family and love of family carried through in Allie’s good deed. Uncle Will lived another 19 years, but Aunt Allie lived near Jetmore, Kansas until her death in April of 1957 – a true daughter of a prairie pioneer.