Fremont County, Iowa

Moses Ulysses Payne
by Lona Lewis

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
June 17, 2013

Fremont County Historical Society Moses Ulysses Payne was born in Kentucky in 1826, and as an adult, migrated to Indiana to enter the cotton manufacturing business. Later he became a businessman in Missouri. In 1850, he went to New Orleans, where he purchased a number of slaves.

Foreseeing the Civil War, he made a trip north looking for land to purchase. He found what he was looking for in Fremont County, west of Hamburg, Iowa, for $1.25 an acre. He went to the land office in Sidney and pointed out the sections he wanted to buy. They finally stopped him saying, that they did not want to sell the entire county to one person. He acquired 14,000 acres on the Missouri River bottom and more in Kansas and Nebraska.

Mr. Payne returned to Missouri, (remember, it was a slave state) gathered his slaves around him and told them he was going north and they were welcome to come with him where they would become free citizens. He invited them to continue to work for him and he would continue to care for them as he had in Missouri. Three train cars bought up his farm equipment, the farm animals, the Moses Payne family, and over 100 of his former slaves.

When they arrived, they found the land was covered with tall prairie grass. Soon Moses had built a home for his family and two dormitory houses, one for his men workers and one for the women. With a depot and stop on the rail line that went through the land, Payne Junction became a reality.

Moses, a stanch Methodist, was a minister in that church for years. On the train he brought with him, from the south, a small chapel to establish in Payne Junction where he preached for years. He was very interested in education and gave liberally to several colleges including nearby Tabor College.

A number of the black community, who worked for him, took the name of Payne. Some of them have kept in touch with the Payne family through the years.

The town's Post office was established in June 1884 and discontinued in 1955. The last gasp of this once-prosperous town came when the train depot burned sometime in the late 1950s.

Moses had a home in Rockport, Missouri, above the Missouri River which is now a bed and breakfast. He died in 1895, and is buried in the Wyuka Cemetery in Nebraska City. Descendants still live in Fremont County and remember fondly when Payne Junction was a thriving part of Fremont County.

(Information for this "View From the Attic" was gathered from "Thumbprints in Time for Fremont County" and" Fremont County Pictorial History".

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