Personal Recollections of Pardee Butler
Part 3 out of 6
Abolitionists. Like whipped dogs they sneaked up to
Clarkson and laid down their weapons to him.
The men thus robbed of their arms give the following version of the
matter: They say that at Lexington they were taken by surprise; that
their arms were not accessible to them, and that there was nothing to
do but to yield. But that a pledge was made to them, that if they
would give up their arms, they should be allowed to proceed peaceably
to Kansas. They furthermore state that at Kansas City Col. Buford came
aboard the boat, accompanied by a company of soldiers; that David R.
Atchison and Gen. B. F. Stringfellow came on board, and that after the
boat had left the landing these gentlemen informed them that they
would in no wise be allowed to enter the Territory; that after the
boat had stopped at Weston, they should be taken back to Alton; but
that if they would not accept this arrangement, "they should be hung,
every mother's son of them."
At various times the _Squatter Sovereign_ and _Leavenworth Herald_
report similar outrages. The latter paper reports, July 5th, the
sending back seventy-five emigrants that had come upon the steamer
Sultan. In reference to this occurrence, the _Squatter Sovereign_
makes the following remark:
We do not fully approve of sending these criminals back to
the East, to be reshipped to Kansas--if not through
Missouri, through Iowa and Nebraska. We think they should
meet a traitor's death; and the world could not censure us
if we, in self-protection, have to resort to such ultra
measures. We are of the opinion that if the citizens of
Leavenworth city, or Weston, would _hang_ one or two
boatloads of Abolitionists, it would do more towards
establishing peace in Kansas than all the speeches that
have been delivered in Congress during the present
session. _Let the experiment be tried_.
The Missouri River was thus blockaded against the incoming of
emigrants from the free States, and this created intense excitement
throughout the North. The result was, that the immigration to Kansas,
instead of being diminished, was largely increased; but it changed its
direction, and Iowa City became the _entrepôt_ for the incoming tide
of free State settlers, which now sought an overland route through
Iowa and Nebraska, and began to reach Kansas about the 1st of August.
The leaders of the Pro-slavery party made a pathetic appeal to the
people of the South to send a corresponding class of emigrants; but
the appeal was feebly responded to. Slave-holders would not come,
because their slaves would be insecure; and now slave-holders felt
that they had small cause to come to fight a battle that was not
Gov. Shannon held the scepter of power with a more and more feeble
hand. He was going to resign, and he was not going to resign. But
whether he did or did not resign, the substance of power had already
passed into the hands of his secretary, Mr. Woodson, who was hand and
glove with his fellows in this conspiracy to make Kansas a slave
Meantime Col. Sumner had been superseded in command at Fort
Leavenworth by Persifer F. Smith. Col. Sumner had obeyed orders like
the brave soldier that he was, but he had shown too much sympathy for
these victims of oppression in the discharge of his shameful duties. 
He did his appointed work, but he did not do it with an appetite, and
he had been succeeded by a man that felt no more pity toward the Free
State people than the wolf feels for the lamb out of which he makes
his breakfast. The consequences of this state of affairs began soon to
appear. The Missouri River had been blockaded. Trains sent to
Leavenworth from Lawrence and Topeka were robbed on the public highway
of the merchandise and provisions with which they were loaded, and
these interior Free State settlements began to feel the sharp pressure
of hard necessities, while they a third time saw companies of
so-called "Law and Order" militia occupying various points in the
Territory which these men proceeded to fortify, and from which they
could overawe the inhabitants and make raids on the citizens; and
thus the old business of robbery, murder, spoliation and oppression
was again begun.
And now this new immigration of a squatter soldiery, who came bearing
their muskets in one hand and their implements of husbandry in the
other, and were perfectly indifferent whether it should be work or
fight, came pouring over the Nebraska line and into Kansas Territory.
A feeble attempt was made to stop them, but it amounted to nothing.
They were not now on a Missouri River steamboat. Jim Lane came with
them. He remained _incognito_ a few days, and then threw off his
disguise, and Capt. Joe Cook was Jim Lane. And now the old, hard rule
of the law of Moses, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,"
was again the law of Kansas. It was, "You have robbed us, and we will
rob you; you have subsisted yourselves upon us, and we will subsist
ourselves on you; you have blockaded the Missouri River, and waylaid
our freighting trains, and pillaged them of their freight, with intent
to starve out the Free State people, and all that belongs to you and
yours shall be free plunder to us."
The places that had been fortified by this "Law and Order" militia
were one by one stormed and the garrisons driven off. Franklin was a
second time attacked and its occupants taken prisoners. Col. Titus had
fortified his residence in the suburbs of Lecompton, and here he kept
a company of men that made raids on the surrounding Free State
inhabitants. This fort was taken by assault, and Col. Titus and his
men were taken prisoners, while Major Sedjwick, with a company of
United States troops, was encamped only two miles away. The citizens
of Lecompton were frightened out of their wits, and Gov. Shannon was
found under the bank of the Kansas River, badly demoralized, and
trying to get across the river on an old scow, and thus escape the
danger. He came the next day to Lawrence, accompanied by Maj.
Sedjwick, to make peace and negotiate an exchange of prisoners, He
announced this as his last official act, and exhorted the people in a
speech he made to them, to live in peace with each other, while they
shouted in angry retort, "Give us back Barber and the men that have
been murdered under your rule."
But in spite of all these reverses that had come upon the "Law and
Order" party, they still had faith that Providence is on the side of
the heaviest battalions, and that they would yet succeed in driving
out these Free State rebels; and they proceeded to raise, along the
Missouri border, a larger army than it would be possible for the Free
State people to raise. Did they not have on their side the President
and his Cabinet? Was not Congress on their side? Was not Persifer F.
Smith, Commandant at Fort Leavenworth, at least indifferent to all
their deeds of violence? And more and better, Woodson had succeeded
Shannon as acting Governor, and it would be a bad day that should not
see the full fruition of their hopes.
But there was one thought to mar their otherwise perfect joy, just as
Providence always pours a drop of bitterness into every cup. A
Governor unfriendly to their purposes might be appointed, and it
became them, therefore, to make hay while the sun was shining. They,
therefore, addressed the following pathetic appeal to the people of
We have asked the appointment of a successor who was
acquainted with our condition; who, a citizen of our
Territory, identified with its interests, familiar with
its history, would not be prejudiced or misled by the
falsehoods which have been so systematically fabricated
In his stead we have one appointed who is ignorant of our
condition, a stranger to our people; who we have too much
cause to fear will, if no worse, prove no more efficient
to protect us than his predecessors.
With, then, a government which has proved imbecile, has
failed to enforce the laws for our protection, with our
army of lawless banditti overturning our country--what
shall we do?
Though we have full confidence in the integrity and
fidelity of Mr. Woodson, now acting as Governor, we know
not at what moment his authority will be suspended. We can
not await the convenience of the incoming of the newly
appointed Governor. We can not hazard a second edition of
imbecility or corruption.
We must act at once, and effectively. These traitors,
assassins, and robbers must be punished; must now be
taught a lesson they will remember.
It is, then, not only the right, but the duty of all good
citizens of Missouri and every other State to come to our
assistance, and enable us to expel these invaders.
Mr. Woodson, since the resignation of Governor Shannon,
has fearlessly met the responsibilities of the trust
forced upon him, has proclaimed the existence of the
rebellion, and called on the militia of the Territory to
assemble for its suppression.
We call on you to come, to furnish us assistance in men,
provisions, and munitions, that we may drive out the army
of the North, who would subvert our government and expel
us from our homes.
Gov. Shannon left the Territory a disgraced and ruined man. He had
proved himself, both to the Free State party and the Law and Order
party, a broken staff that pierces the hand of him that leans on it.
Mr. Woodson, who took his place as acting Governor, showed himself
hale fellow well met with such spirits as Sheriff Jones and Judge
Lecompte; and this faction made piteous appeals to the Great Father at
Washington to give them a man after their own heart, and this they
found in John Calhoun, Surveyor-General of Kansas and Nebraska, whose
official patronage made him a man of considerable influence, and whose
freighting outfit, kept for his peculiar business, would have made him
eminently useful to this party in the transportation of military
stores. But their appeal had been denied them, and instead of
Surveyor-General Calhoun, Mr. Geary, of Pennsylvania, had been
That great party, of which the President was the official head, was
convulsed with such internal feuds and contentions, consequent on
these very Kansas troubles, as threatened its existence. A
Presidential election was pending, and attention must be paid to this
fact, rather than to the desperate schemes of this Kansas faction.
John W. Geary was, therefore, announced as the appointee of the
President. Mr. G. came with high claims to public favor. He had passed
through the Mexican war with honor; he had discharged high public
trust in California with such fidelity and skill as won for him a
distinguished reputation. He was the friend, and almost the neighbor,
of the incoming President, James Buchanan, and he enjoyed the
confidence of the outgoing President, Franklin Pierce; and was
closeted with him and with his Secretary of State, Mr. Marcy, before
leaving Washington. That nothing might be wanting to his success, he
spent a day at Jefferson City, Mo., with Gov. Sterling Price, and with
him arranged to have the blockade removed from the Missouri River.
Mr. Geary met at Glasgow, Mo., the retiring ex-Governor, and Dr. Gihon
reports that he was fleeing in terror that his life would be taken by
the men for whom he had been such an abject tool.
While these parting ceremonies were being performed a
steamboat bound down the river, and directly from Kansas,
came along side the Keystone. Ex-Governor Shannon was a
passenger, who, upon learning the close proximity of Gov.
Geary, sought an immediate interview with him. The
ex-Governor was greatly agitated. He had fled in haste and
terror from the Territory, and still seemed laboring under
an apprehension for his personal safety. His description
of Kansas was suggestive of everything that is frightful
and horrible. Its condition was deplorable in the extreme.
The whole Territory was in a state of insurrection, and a
destructive civil war was devastating the country. Murder
ran rampant, and the roads were everywhere strewn with the
bodies of slaughtered men.
Dr. Gihon afterwards published a small volume of 348 pages, from which
the preceding extract has been taken. The work is entitled "Governor
Geary's Administration in Kansas." This work does not bear the sign
manual of Gov. Geary, but as it was written by the Governor's private
secretary, it must be taken as an authentic statement of what these
gentlemen saw with their own eyes, and heard with their own ears, as
touching the condition of things in the Territory. Dr. Gihon gives the
following testimony concerning the troubles in and around Leavenworth
and their cause:
After the removal of Shannon on the 21st of August, when
Secretary Woodson became acting Governor until the arrival
of Gov. Geary in September, the belligerents had matters
pretty much their own way, and the ruffians improved the
time, under pretense of authority from Woodson, to
perpetrate with impunity the most shocking barbarities.
During this time Gen. Smith received much censure from the
Free State people. Emory, Wilkes, Stringfellow and others
were driving these from their homes in Leavenworth, and
many of them fled in terror for protection within the
enclosures of the fort; when the General caused hand-bills
to be posted over the grounds commanding them to leave
before a certain specified time, and gave orders to his
subordinates to enforce this command. These unfortunate
people, among whom were men of the highest respectability,
and even women and children, were compelled, some of them
without money or suitable clothing, to take to the
prairies, exposed at every step to the danger of being
murdered by scouting or marauding parties, or at the risk
of their lives effect their escape upon the downward-bound
boats. Some of these were shot in the attempt upon the
river banks, whilst others were seized at Kansas City and
other Missouri towns, brought back as prisoners, and
disposed of in such a manner as will only be made known at
that great day when all human mysteries will be revealed.
Captain Frederick Emory, a United States Mail Contractor,
rendered himself conspicuous in Leavenworth at the head of
a band of ruffians mostly from Western Missouri. They
entered houses, stores and dwellings of Free State people,
and in the name of "Law and Order" abused and robbed the
occupants, and drove them out into the roads, Irrespective
of age, sex or condition. Under pretense of searching for
arms, they approached the house of William Phillips, the
lawyer who had been previously tarred and feathered and
carried to Missouri. Phillips, supposing he was to be
subjected to a similar outrage, and resolved not to submit
to the indignity, stood upon his defense. In repelling the
assaults of the mob, he killed two of them, when the
others burst into the house, and poured a volley of balls
into his body, killing him instantly in the presence of
his wife and another lady. His brother, who was also
present, had an ana broken with bullets, and was compelled
to submit to an amputation. Fifty of the Free State
prisoners were then driven on board the Polar Star, bound
for St. Louis. On the next day a hundred more were
embarked by Emory and his men on the steamboat Emma.
At this time civil war raged in all the populous
districts. Womi n and children had fled from the
Territory. No man's life was safe, and every person, when
he lay down to rest at night, bolted and barred his doors,
and fell asleep grasping firmly his pistol, gun or knife.
Emory's company were all mounted on "pressed" horses, the
owners of some of which were present to point out and
claim them; but as there existed no courts or judges from
whom the necessary legal process could be obtained, and as
Gen. Smith would not listen to their complaints, they had
no means by which to recover their property.
Emory and his company held their headquarters at
Leavenworth City, whence they sallied into the surrounding
country to "press," _not steal,_ the horses, cattle,
wagons and other property of Free State men. It was during
these excursions that Major Sackett, of the United States
Army, found in the road near Leavenworth City a number of
the bodies of men who had been seized, robbed, murdered
and mutilated, and left unburied by the wayside.
On the 17th of August, 1856, a shocking affair occurred in
the neighborhood of Leavenworth. Two ruffians sat at a
table in a low groggery, imbibing potations of bad whisky.
One of them, named Fugert, bet his companion six dollars
against a pair of boots that he would go out and in less
than two hours bring in the scalp of an Abolitionist. He
went into the road, and, meeting a Mr. Hoppe, who was in
his carriage just returning to Leavenworth from a visit to
Lawrence, where he had conveyed his wife, Fugert
deliberately shot him; then, taking out his bowie knife,
whilst his victim was still alive, he cut and tore off his
scalp from his quivering head. Leaving the body of Hoppe
lying in the road, he elevated his bloody trophy upon a
pole, and paraded it through the streets of Leavenworth.
On the same day a teamster, who was approaching
Leavenworth, was murdered and scalped by another human
A poor German, when the scalp of Hoppe was brought into
Leavenworth, was impudent enough to express his horror of
the shocking deed, when he was ordered to run for his
life--in attempting which a number of bullets sped after
him, and he fell dead in the street.
In the month of August, 1856, a company of so-called Territorial
Militia established themselves at Hickory Point, Jefferson county,
about twenty miles north of Lawrence, and proceeded to make raids on
the Free State settlements. In one of these raids they pillaged the
village of Grasshopper Falls, robbing the stores of their contents.
Gen. Lane and Captains Harvey and Bickerton determined to attack and
dislodge these marauders. But on the 11th of September Gov. Geary,
having arrived at Lecompton, issued a proclamation ordering all armed
bands of men, whether known as Territorial Militia or Free State
Guerrillas, to disperse and retire to their homes. Gen. Lane
determined at once to leave the Territory, and sent a message to that
effect to Capt. Harvey, who had arranged to unite his command with
that of Gen. Lane in an attack on Hickory Point; but the messenger
failed to meet Harvey, who made the attack alone and captured these
robbers. But Harvey's men were in their turn taken prisoners by a
company of United States troops and were conveyed to Lecompton and
kept during the winter as treason prisoners. But while the Free State
forces were thus being scattered, disbanded and taken prisoners, by
virtue of Gov. Geary's proclamation, an army of 3,000 men had been
enlisted in Missouri and along the border towns, and were marching
to destroy Lawrence and wipe out the Free State settlements. Delilah
bound Samson with cords, then said, "The Philistines be upon thee,
Samson"; and so these "Law and Order" leaders saw the Free State
forces dispersed by the Governor's proclamation, and then thought to
bring on the helpless settlements the whole power of this Missouri
invasion. But we will let Mr. Geary's private secretary tell the story
in his own way:
But the most reprehensible character in the drama being
enacted was the Secretary of the Territory, then acting
Governor. More than three weeks after Gov. Geary had
received his commission and Secretary Woodson had every
reason to believe that he was on his way to the Territory,
that weak-minded, if not criminally defective, officer
issued the following proclamation:
WHEREAS, Satisfactory evidence exists that the Territory
of Kansas is infested with large bodies of armed men:
Now, therefore, I, Daniel Woodson, Acting Governor of the
Territory of Kansas, do issue my proclamation declaring
the said Territory to be in a state of open insurrection
and rebellion, and I do hereby call upon all law-abiding
citizens of the Territory to rally to the support of the
country and its laws.
Not satisfied with the proclamation, which of itself was
sufficiently mischievous, he wrote private letters to
parties in Missouri calling for men, money and munitions
of war. This proclamation and these letters called
together thousands of men, mostly from Missouri, with
passions inflamed to the highest degree, and whose only
thought was wholesale slaughter and destruction.
It was the fixed purpose of Secretary Woodson to keep Gov.
Geary in ignorance of the extensive preparations that were
being made to attack and destroy the Free State
settlements. As yet the Governor had not seen Woodson's
proclamation. Governor Geary issued the follow-orders:
ADJT. GEN. H. J. STRICKLER:--You will proceed without a
moment's delay to disarm and disband the present organized
militia of the Territory.
Notwithstanding the positive character of these orders
they were utterly disregarded. Suspecting that treachery
was somewhere at work he forthwith dispatched confidential
messengers on the road to Westport to ascertain, if
possible, what operations were going forward in that
Messengers were constantly arriving from Lawrence bringing
intelligence that a large army from Missouri was encamped
on the Wakarusa River and was hourly expected to attack
the town. As these men were styled Territorial Militia and
were called into service by the late acting Governor
Woodson, Gov. Geary commanded that officer to take with
him Adjutant-General Strickler with an escort of United
States troops and disband, in accordance with the
proclamation issued, the forces that had so unwisely been
assembled. Woodson and Strickler left Lecompton in the
afternoon, and reached the Missouri camp early in the
Here Woodson found it impossible to accomplish the object
of his mission. No attention or respect was paid to him by
those having command of the forces. The army he had
gathered refused to acknowledge his authority. He had
raised a storm, the elements of which he was powerless to
control; neither could the officers be assembled to
receive the Governor's orders from the Adjutant-General.
The militia had resolved not to disband, the officers
refused to listen to the reading of the proclamation--they
were determined upon accomplishing the bloody work they
had entered the Territory to perform. Nothing but the
destruction of Lawrence and the other Free State towns,
the massacre of the Free State residents, and the
appropriation of their lands and other property, could
Mr. Adams, who accompanied Secretary Woodson to the
Missouri camp, dispatched the following:
LAWRENCE, 12 o'clock Midnight, Sept. 14, 1856. To His
EXCELLENCY, GOV. GEARY:
SIR:--_Secretary Woodson thought you had better come to
the camp of the militia as soon as you can_. THEODORE
Before this dispatch reached Lecompton the Governor had
departed with three hundred United States mounted troops
and a battery of light artillery, and arrived in Lawrence
early in the morning, where he found matters precisely as
described. Skillfully stationing his troops outside the
town, in commanding positions, to prevent a collision
between the invading forces from Missouri and the
citizens, he entered Lawrence alone, and there he beheld a
sight which would have aroused the manhood of the most
stolid mortal. About three hundred persons Were found in
arms, determined to sell their lives at the dearest price
to their ruffian enemies. Among these were many women, and
children of both sexes, armed with guns and otherwise
accoutered for battle. They had been goaded to this by the
courage of despair.
Gov. Geary addressed the armed citizens of Lawrence, and
when he assured them of his and the law's protection they
offered to deposit their arms at his feet and return to
their respective habitations. He bade them go to their
homes in confidence, and to carry their arms with them, as
the constitution guarantees that right, but to use them
only in the last resort to protect their lives and
property and the chastity of their females.
Early in the morning of the 15th, having left the troops
to protect the town, the Governor proceeded alone to the
camp of the invading forces, then within three miles and
drawn up in line of battle. Before reaching Franklin, he
met the advance guard, and upon inquiring who they were
and what were their objects, received for answer that they
were the Territorial Militia, and called into service by
the Governor of Kansas, and that they were marching to
wipe out Lawrence and every Abolitionist in the country.
Mr. Geary informed them that he was now Governor of
Kansas, and Commander-in-chief of the Territorial Militia,
and ordered the officer in command to countermarch his
troops back to the main line, and conduct him to the
center, which order, after some hesitation, was
The red face of the rising sun was just peering over the
top of Blue Mound, as the Governor, with his strange
escort of three hundred mounted men, with red shirts and
odd-shaped hats, descended upon the Wakarusa plain, where
in battle array were ranged at least three thousand armed
and desperate men. They were not dressed in the usual
habiliments of soldiers, but in every imaginable costume
that could be obtained in the western region. Most of them
were mounted, and manifested an unmistakable disposition
to be at their bloody work. In the back-ground stood at
least three hundred army tents and as many wagons, while
here and there a cannon was planted ready to aid in the
anticipated destruction. Among the banners floated black
flags, to indicate the design that neither age, sex nor
condition would be spared in the slaughter that was to
In passing along the lines murmurs of discontent and
savage threats of assassination fell upon the Governor's
ears, but heedless of these and regardless, in fact, of
everything but a desire to avert the terrible calamity
that was impending, he fearlessly proceeded to the
quarters of their leader.
This threatening army was under the command of John W.
Reed, then and now a member of the Missouri Legislature,
assisted by ex-Senator Atchison, Gen. B. F. Stringfellow,
Gen. L. A. Maclean, Gen. J. W. Whitfield, Gen. George W.
Clarke, Gens. William A. Heiskell, Wm. H. Richardson and
F. A. Marshal, Col. H. T. Titus, Capt. Frederick Emory and
Gov. Geary at once summoned the officers together, and
addressed them at length and with great feeling. He
depicted in a forcible manner the improper position they
occupied and the untold horrors that would result from a
consummation of their cruel designs; that if they
persisted in their mad career the entire Union would be
involved in a civil war, and thousands and tens of
thousands of innocent lives be sacrificed. To Atchison he
particularly addressed himself, telling him that when he
last saw him he was acting as Vice-President of the nation
and President of the most dignified body of men in the
world, the Senate of the United States, but now with
sorrow and pain he saw him leading on to a civil and
disastrous war an army of men with uncontrollable
passions, and determined upon wholesale slaughter and
destruction. He concluded his remarks by directing
attention to his proclamation, and ordered the army to be
disbanded and dispersed. Some of the more judicious of the
officers were not only willing but anxious to obey this
order, while others, resolved upon mischief, yielded a
It is now one-third of a century since Kansas began to be settled.
Great as has been the progress of the States of this Union within this
period, the progress of Kansas has been exceptionally and peculiarly
so. Its chief glory is not in its large agricultural and mineral
resources; it is not in its railroads and lines of telegraph; it is
not in the rapidly increasing population of educated men and women,
but it is in this, that it was not only the first State in the nation,
but the first Commonwealth in the world, to solve the problem of the
drink evil, the giant curse of Christendom, by incorporating
prohibition into its fundamental law.
In union there is strength. Jesus said so. He said, "Every kingdom
divided against itself is brought to desolation." And so evidently
does this principle commend itself to the common sense of men, that we
have engraved on our national ensign the motto, "_E Pluribus Unum_"
--one out of many.
How did such growth in Kansas come to be? Not in division, but in
union. We have thought it would do us good to look squarely in the
face that hard, cruel, and bloody period when it seemed the business
of the people to cut each other's throats. But cutting each other's
throats does not create such growth as we have had in Kansas.
Two peoples came together in Kansas, one from the South and one from
the North. They were of one original stock, but circumstances had
intervened and made them two peoples. For two years this bloody strife
had been going on. It is said that in revolutions men live fast. It
was two years, if we count the time by the revolutions of the earth
around the sun, but if we count by the experience men had gained, it
was many years.
Dr. Gihon tells that when Gov. Geary disbanded this Missouri army on
the Wakarusa, there grew up a marked antagonism of sentiment among its
leaders. He says: "Some of the more judicious of the officers were not
only willing but anxious to obey this order, whilst others, resolved
upon mischief, yielded a very reluctant assent." There was really a
large majority that accepted the result with hearty good will, but
there was also a small and malcontent minority determined on mischief.
Gen. B. F. Stringfellow, because of the vehement zeal with which he
had addicted himself to the enterprise of making Kansas a slave State,
had won for himself a national notoriety. He had staked life and good
fame and everything on the final issue of his work, yet himself and
his law partner, Peter T. Abell, went back from the Wakarusa never to
lift a finger again in that business. Mr. S. is a high-spirited,
hot-blooded, proud-spirited Virginian. His law partner, Col. Abell,
had a temper as unbending as Andrew Jackson, and did to the day of his
death hold a faith in the institution of slavery as abiding as John C.
Calhoun. But he was a wise and a just man, and both himself and Mr.
Stringfellow recognized the fact that, with such a population as had
come into Kansas, its becoming a free State was only a question of
time; and both these men were too sagacious to be found fighting
against fate. Mr. S. had always relished a joke, and, when rallied by
his friends on his sudden abandonment of this enterprise, he
facetiously replied: "Yes, I did try to make Kansas a slave State; but
I could not do it without slaves, and the South would not send slaves,
and so I had to give it up." From the time these gentlemen returned
from the Wakarusa there was a general softening of the asperities of
feeling of the people of Atchison and vicinity, and one year after
they were prepared to announce to the Free State people, "You deal
fairly with us, and we will deal fairly with you"--and they made their
words good by deeds, for they took Free State men into partnership
with themselves in the management of the Atchison Town Company.
But by this change Robert S. Kelley found "Othello's occupation
gone," and the control of the _Squatter Sovereign_ passed into the
hands of John A. Martin, now Governor of Kansas, and "Bob Kelley"
shook off the dust of his feet and walked away, respected for his
bravery and for his outspoken honesty and sincerity, even by those
that did not love him.
The writer will tell of his last interview with the South Carolinians
in a future chapter of these Recollections.
Peter T. Abell and Gen. B. F. Stringfellow were State's rights men in
their political opinions, and, therefore, according to the light that
was in them, owed their allegiance to the State of Kansas; and from
that allegiance they never swerved to the breadth of a hair. Still,
the people of the South were their brethren, and they gave to them
their profoundest sympathy during that bloody struggle that was to
decide whether the South should be an independent nation. Let us admit
that this did put these gentlemen in a strait betwixt two, like Paul,
the Apostle, but they never swerved to the right hand nor to the left.
We have, with some particularity, drawn out the history of the two
most distinguished of the Southern leaders, because that, with slight
change, it would be the biography of a great number of citizens of
Kansas that came from the South. Now, who does not see that here is
the basis of hearty co-operation, whether in the church or in the
world, of men from the South or from the North? provided always we can
take into our hearts the law of love: "All things whatsoever ye would
that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law
and the prophets."
In further illustration of this remark we will relate an incident
concerning a Disciple, who will come prominently before us in the
formation of our first missionary society. Spartan Rhea was from
Missouri, and belonged to a family intensely Southern in their
convictions. He was commissioned a justice of the peace by the
Territorial authorities. A horse had been stolen by the Kickapoo
Rangers from Gains Jenkins, of Lawrence. Gov. Geary requested Bro.
Rhea to recover the horse, and he did so with some peril to himself,
and made a journey to Lawrence to restore the animal to its proper
owner. He sought to make it evident that the men of his party wanted
But Dr. Gihon also tells us that there was at the Wakarusa a small
faction of irreconcilables, who, if they could do nothing else, could
at least curse.
"Gen. Clarke said he was for pitching into the United
States troops rather than abandon the objects of the expedition. Gen.
Maclean didn't see any use of going back until they had whipped the
Abolitionists. Sheriff Jones was in favor, now that they had
sufficient force, of wiping out Lawrence and all the Free State towns.
And these and others cursed Gov. Geary for his interference in their
"The broad ground assumed by these rabid leaders of the Pro-slavery
party in Kansas was, that an equilibrium of the slave power must be
maintained at any sacrifice in the American Union, and this could only
be effected by increasing the slave States in proportion with the
free. Whilst, therefore, the South was willing to give Nebraska to the
North, they demanded that Kansas should be ceded to the South. It was
of little consequence what number of Northern men located in
Kansas--they had no right to come unless with the intention to make it
a slave State."
This malcontent minority did, therefore, become a dangerous and
revolutionary faction, entertaining criminal purposes, which they were
ready to carry out by desperate methods. They were also in possession
of dangerous elements of power. They controlled the Territorial
Legislature, and all the Territorial judges were parties in this
conspiracy. Dr. Gihon testifies that "every federal officer in the
Territory, and every Territorial officer from the supreme judges to
the deputy marshals, sheriffs and clerks, were wedded to the slave
power, and pledged at all hazards to its extension."
But daylight had already begun to dawn. Some of the wisest Pro-slavery
men in the Territory were beginning to call a halt, and to say: "We
will travel no further in this road in which we are being led by these
desperate and scheming adventurers."
Gov. Geary had won ripe and rich honors from the people of this nation
in the official positions he had heretofore held, and which he had
discharged with such eminent ability. The position of the Governor of
Kansas, as seen from afar, and under the _glamour_ that surrounded it,
was a position of high honor.
Every child has heard the story of old "Blue Beard," how that, having
married a number of wives who had mysteriously disappeared, he courted
and married a beautiful young lady, possessing every accomplishment
that can give grace and attractiveness to a woman, and had carried her
to his castle, where she should have at her disposal an unlimited
amount of money and be served by obsequious servants, and stand on a
level with all the fine ladies and gentlemen in the land. Old Blue
Beard gave to her the keys unlocking all the rooms in his castle, but
said to her, "There is one key, unlocking one door, into one room, and
into that room you must in nowise enter." But, overcome by her woman's
curiosity, she did unlock that door and enter that room, and there she
beheld the horrid sight of all the murdered wives of the wicked old
Blue Beard, hanging and rotting on its walls, and now this was also to
be her sad fate.
Kansas was becoming the graveyard of Territorial Governors. Reeder
and Shannon had already lost their official heads. Within six months
Gov. Geary's head was also to drop into the basket. Three more
governors were to succeed him, each one of whom should in his turn
lose his official head. Gov. Geary's position was indeed very like
that of the wife of the wicked Blue Beard, only that she had certainly
some advantages over the Governor. She had a great and fine castle,
rich and costly dresses, many servants ready to come and go at her
beck and call, and the company of great lords and fine ladies; but
when Gov. Geary came to his castle, his private Secretary shall tell
us what he found:
Lecompton is situated on the south side of the Kansas
River, upon as inconvenient and inappropriate a site for a
town as any in the Territory. It was chosen simply for
speculative purposes. It contained, at the time of Gov.
Geary's arrival, some twenty or more houses, the majority
of which were employed as groggeries of the lowest
description. It was the residence of the celebrated
Sheriff Jones, who is one of the leading members of this
town association, and was the resort of horse-thieves and
ruffians of the most desperate character. Its drinking
saloons were infested by these characters, whose
drunkenness, gambling, fighting, and all sorts of crime,
were indulged in with impunity.
Here was congregated, and here was the headquarters of, that band of
desperate men, who were in a conspiracy to make Kansas a slave State
at whatever cost of blood, of fraud, or violence. Here the Territorial
Legislature met to enact their bloody code of laws, and here the
Territorial Judges held their courts, which were a burlesque on the
very name of a civilized and Christian jurisprudence; and here, also,
were kept the treason prisoners, while atrocious murderers were not
molested, because they were "sound on the goose question."
We have already told how Harvey's men, that had attacked and taken
prisoners the "Law and Order" robbers that pillaged the defenseless
village of Grasshopper Falls, were themselves taken prisoners by the
United States troops. These were tried for treason in the Pro-slavery
courts, and were condemned to various terms of imprisonment, varying
from six months to six years. They were kept in a wretched, old,
tumbledown house, without doors or windows, during the bitter cold of
a Kansas winter, guarded by "Law and Order" militia, exposed to every
insult, wallowing in filth, and eaten up with lice. But there was one
circumstance to mitigate their hapless condition--their jailer was a
good-hearted, honest Kentuckian, who had humanity enough to pity them,
and bravery enough to do what he could to mitigate the hardships of
their lot. Their hard-hearted judges had condemned them to wear a ball
and chain; but Gov. Geary refused to provide balls and chains for
them, and the honest Capt. Hampton refused to fasten these symbols of
degradation on the limbs of men he knew to be decent American
citizens; and thereat Sheriff Jones became furious. The facts of the
case were just these: All the people were, so to speak, fighting. The
Governor issued his proclamation. These Hickory Point "Law and Order"
militia were simply robber banditti, and Captain Harvey and his
company thought they ought to be "cleaned out," and proceeded to do
so, and this act, though intrinsically it was a righteous act, yet
technically, laid them open to the law. This happened on the 12th of
September, but up to the 14th of September 3,000 "Law and Order"
militia, coming into Kansas as outside invaders, refused to be
disbanded by the Governor's proclamation, and both before and after
continued the business of murder and robbery. Yet this was nothing,
because these were "Law and Order" men. The other was treason, for
these were Free State men fighting for their homes and firesides. But
Capt. Hampton saw the matter just as it was, and acted accordingly.
Dr. Gihon testified of these treason prisoners, "These prisoners were
not all rough and desperate adventurers. Some of them were gentlemen
of polished education."
The sunlight may sparkle and shimmer on the surface of the foul and
putrid marsh, noxious with offensive and poisonous exhalations--so Dr.
Gihon throws a kind of grim and ghastly humor over his narrative of
the repulsive and brutal surroundings of himself and Governor Geary
during the winter they were imprisoned at Lecompton. The Doctor tells
the following story at the expense of a Southern gentleman:
A good anecdote is told by a gentleman from one of the
Southern States, in regard to these Free State prisoners,
when under the charge of Captain Hampton. Having expressed
a desire to see these robbers and murderers, as he styled
them, the Governor directed him to the prison.
He immediately started, and looking in vain for anything
that resembled a prison, he approached two men who were
enjoying themselves with a game of quoits.
"Can you tell me," he inquired, "where the prison is where
these robbers and murderers are confined?"
"That's it," said one of the men, pointing to a house near
"What! that old building, falling to pieces, without
either doors or windows?"
"That is the only prison we have here," replied the man,
deliberately pitching his quoit.
"Well," said the Southern gentleman, "I want to see these
"I am one of them," said the quoit-player, "and that is
another," pointing to his companion.
"What! you convicted felons? You the terrible murderers
about whom I have heard so much?"
"Yes, we are certainly two of them. The others are gone
over to the House of Representatives, to hear the members
abuse the Governor."
"But," says the old gentleman, "they don't allow convicted
murderers to go about in this way, without a guard to
"O! yes," says the man interrogated; "they used to send a
guard with us when we went over to the Legislative Halls,
to protect us against violence from the members, but they
found that too troublesome, so they gave each of us a
revolver and bowie-knife, and told us we should hereafter
be required to protect ourselves."
"But why don't you run away? There is nothing to prevent
"Why, to tell the truth, we have often been persuaded to
do that, but then these rascally legislators have been
threatening to assassinate the Governor, and we have
determined to remain here to watch them and protect him."
The old gentleman had no desire to see any more of these
thieves, murderers and assassins.
There are those who find a Spanish bull fight or a civilized American
boxing match very enjoyable events. Such men would have found great
enjoyment in one incident that served to enliven the monotony of the
winter's residence of the Governor at Lecompton. There was one
Sherrard who came from Virginia. He was of a good family, but strong
drink had been his ruin. He had been appointed by the Legislature
Sheriff of Douglas county in place of S. T. Jones, who for some reason
was to go out of office. The Governor refused to commission this
Sherrard because he was a drunkard, a brawler, and a cursing,
swearing, gambling ruffian and bully. This made Sherrard furious, and
Sheriff Zones and all his crowd of bullies were furious with him. Then
Sherrard tried to raise a row by insulting individuals in the personal
service of the Governor. This failing, Sherrard spit in the Governor's
face; but Mr. Geary, mindful of the dignity of his office, and that it
did not become the Governor of Kansas to get into a brawl with a
common blackguard, walked straight on. Afterwards Sherrard, who kept
himself crazy drunk, provoked a general affray in a large company of
men, in which pistols were fired in every direction; when John A, W.
Jones, the young man on Gov. Geary's staff whom Sherrard had assaulted
a few days before, shot him in the forehead.
One circumstance at last brought to a sudden close Gov. Geary's term
of office. When he had disbanded the three thousand "Law and Order"
militia that were to attack Lawrence, that part of them known as the
Kickapoo Rangers were returning home by way of Lecompton. One of this
number went into a field where "a poor, inoffensive, lame young man"
named David C. Buffum was plowing, and demanded his horses. Buffum
protested against this robbery, but the wretch shot Buffum and took
the horses. The unhappy man gave the following account of the matter:
"They asked me for my horses. I told them I was a
cripple--a poor lame man--that I had an aged father, a
deaf and dumb brother, and two sisters, all depending on
me for a living, and my horses were all I had. One of them
said I was a Abolitionist, and, taking me by the shoulder,
he shot me."
Gov. Geary was returning to Lecompton, and hearing of what had been
done, he called with Judge Cato at Buffum's house, and by the
Governor's direction Judge Cato took the dying man's deposition. Gov.
Geary was terribly shocked, and said to himself, "I never witnessed a
scene that filled me with so much horror." Mr. Geary sent a detective
on the track of the Kickapoo Rangers, and found that the murderer was
one Charley Hayes, living in Atchison county. He had the horses still
in his possession. The Governor ordered his arrest, and the Grand
Jury found a bill against him of murder in the first degree. Meantime
the Free State men came to the Governor making a bitter complaint of
the persecutions they were suffering. They said, "Our relatives and
friends are arrested and confined for weeks and months in a filthy
prison, not fit for dogs to live in, and are kept without proper food
or clothing, and are not allowed to give bail even for bailable
offenses; while murderers of the other party are allowed to go at
large and no attention is paid to them." They said, "The murderers of
Dow, Barber, Brown, Phillips, Hoppe and Buffum, have not even been
arrested or examined."
The Governor replied that he had already ordered the arrest of Hayes,
and that a grand jury of Pro-slavery men had found a true bill against
him, and that Hayes should be tried for his life. But while he was yet
speaking a messenger brought word that Judge Lecompte had released
Hayes on bail, and that Sheriff Jones had gone on his bail bond, a man
notoriously not worth a dollar; and this when the crime of murder in
the first degree, for which Hayes had been indicted, was not a
bailable offense. The Governor was terribly indignant, and ordered
Hayes to be re-arrested. But while he was absent at the land sales at
Fort Leavenworth, Judge Lecompte a second time set this wretch at
liberty. Mr. Geary was provoked beyond endurance, and wrote to the
President that he would not remain in office and allow such a
scoundrel to be kept in a position to pervert the ways of justice.
President Pierce nominated C. O. Harrison, of Kentucky, to take
Lecompte's place, but for some unexplained cause the appointment was
not confirmed in the Senate, and Judge Lecompte retained his place,
and in unspeakable disgust Gov. Geary resigned, making his resignation
take effect on March 20, 1857. Thus he had spent a winter in the
chamber of death of the wicked old Blue Beard, but did not lose his
official head till spring.
The writer was acquainted with the family of this Charley Hayes. They
were decent sort of people; but when a young boy Charley went on the
plains, where he became a brutal ruffian. A good many years ago there
was a story current in Atchison county, that when this Hayes was
acting as wagon-boss on the plains, in a train owned by Russell,
Majors & Waddell, that one of the teamsters having offended him he
tied him up to a wheel of one of the train wagons, and, holding a
pistol in one hand, he cowhided him with his black-snake whip with the
other. And this teamster was a white man.
But there are avenging furies that follow a man, even though the law
does not reach him. There is a man now living in Atchison county whose
truthfulness has never been questioned, and he stated that he spent a
winter in the Missouri River bottoms, sleeping in the same cabin with
Charley Hayes, and that it seemed as if the devil had a mortgage on
the ruffian's soul, and tormented him in his sleep with images of the
horrors that awaited him in the future world. That it seemed as if he
was wrestling in mortal struggle with the men he had maltreated and
murdered, and that they were choking him to death. Hayes afterwards
died of a consumption presumably brought on by his dissipated habits
and by his debaucheries.
Meantime the writer had started for Illinois the preceding summer,
had been prostrated for four weeks with a fever, and late in the
autumn of 1856 had returned to Kansas, there to remain. The times were
becoming quiet, the peaceful counsels of such leaders as Stringfellow
and Abell were beginning to take effect, and it evidently would be
safe for the writer to go to work on his claim. But he needed a supply
of corn, and had to go over into the Missouri River bottoms to buy it.
A heavy snow had fallen. I had a heavy, well-trained yoke of oxen, and
my faithful riding horse was obedient in every place. Myself and
brother-in-law had made a heavy Yankee sled that would hold all the
load that was put on it. I borrowed from my neighbor, Caleb May, two
additional yoke of oxen, but they only knew how to pull in a big
freighting team, and were not leaders. But putting my own heavy oxen
behind, my wild steers in the middle, and my horse in the lead, I made
out a good freighting team. But I had to pass through Atchison. The
business men of the place had already made this overture to me. They
had said: "You can come to Atchison during the day time and we will
guarantee that you shall not be molested, but we would rather you
should not be here in the night. The South Carolinians are here, and
there are other desperate characters here, and in the night we do not
know what might happen." And so, on the strength of such an agreement,
I had done business in Atchison, and to get my corn across the river
had gone over one day and back the next.
I had yet one more load of corn to haul. There had been a thaw, and
then the snow had frozen again, making it in many places slippery
traveling. The river bank, from the top of the bank down to the ice of
the river, was about twenty feet, and very steep; and this by much
traveling had become a perfect glare of ice, so that teams could not
hold their footing at all. I had gone over for my last load one day,
intending to return the next day, but I had found unexpected
hindrances, and when I got to the east bank of the river opposite
Atchison, it was sometime after dark. I got down as best I could and
crossed over on the ice to the Atchison side of the river, and I was
now to get up that bank of glare ice.  I placed my sled load of corn
at the bottom of the bank, and taking my team up in an unfrequented
place, I stationed them on the top of the bank directly above my load
of corn at the bottom. Before coming over I had cut a long, slender
pole in the timbered bottoms, and in view of this contingency had also
brought extra chains from home, and by means of the chains and this
long pole I hitched my team on the top of the hill to my load of corn
at the bottom. The thing worked well, and I had my load well on the
top of the bank on the level ground; but here the road turned suddenly
to the left close along the river bank, and my horse, too eager to get
home, turned too soon, and this brought my sled with a sudden crash
against a rock, and down went my load to the bottom of the bank again.
A chain had broken, and now my load of corn was left in such a
position that I evidently could not get it up again without help. In
the hindrances to which I had been subjected it had come to be 9
o'clock. I looked about and saw no light save in a saloon that had
been built under the bluff to catch custom, for this was the ferry
landing. I do not usually visit saloons, but "necessity knows no law,"
and I walked in; and whom should I find but Grafton Thomassen, the man
that made the raft on which they sent me down the river, sitting and
playing cards with a number of South Carolinians! They were
thunderstruck, and I have to confess that I was almost as much taken
aback as they were. But I spoke to them and said, "Gentlemen, good
evening." Then I explained, as well as I could, what had befallen me,
and that I had come in for assistance. But they were dumb--they never
spoke a word. I waited till my position became embarrassing, then
said, "Well, gentlemen, you seem to be busy, and I don't want to
interrupt; I will go somewhere else." I had already opened the door
when Grafton Thomassen found his voice and said, "Boys, it is not
right to leave Butler without help. Let us go and help him." "Yes!
yes! yes!" they all cried at once, "we will go and help him." And,
springing to their feet, and hastily putting on their overcoats, hats
and gloves, they came rushing to the door, saying, "Yes! yes! We will
help you. What is it we can do for you?"
I went with them to the river bank, pointed out my sled loaded with
corn on the ice, and explained to them it had to be brought up the
bank. They asked incredulously, "An' kin ye haul that thar slide up
that slippery bank?"
I said, "Yes, I have done it once," then I explained how the chain had
broken, and how my load of corn had gone down onto the ice again.
They exclaimed, "O! Well now! We have come all the way from South
_Carliny_ to see a Yankee trick an' haint we got it?"
They were eager to help, so as to see the fun. When everything was
ready I gave my horse in charge of one of them, saying to him he must
in nowise let the horse turn till the load of corn was well up and in
the traveled road, then gave the word to start. My team was eager to
pull, for they were getting impatient; and in fine style they brought
the load up on the level ground, and then immediately were in front of
the saloon, and I called a halt. When we got everything fixed I said
to them, "Gentlemen, I thank you. You have done me a real kindness.
But the night is cold."--and handing one of them a piece of silver, I
said, "Please take that and get something to warm you."
He took it and with something of hesitation said, "Won't you come in
and drink with us?"
I replied, "Please excuse me. You know me; you know I don't drink. But
all the same I want you to take it."
He said rather proudly, "We did not work for you for pay. We did it to
But I insisted. I said, "You did me a real kindness, and I want to do
you a kindness in return. I want you to take it." Then they bade me
good night and went into the saloon.
The wind had been rising, and the snow was drifting; and it was
evident that in many places the road would be obliterated, and I had a
long stretch of prairie to travel over on which there was not a human
habitation. It was dangerous to undertake it, and I had to stay in
Atchison. I found an empty corral, where my teams would be decently
sheltered, and went to the only hotel in town. The sleeping room they
assigned me was separated from the bar-room only by a thin board
partition, and I could hear every word that was said. This hotel was
the boarding-place of the South Carolinians, and they soon began to
drop in from about town, and word was passed among them that Butler
was in the house. Then one fellow, who was decidedly drunk, got
turbulent, and protested, with terrible oaths, that such a man should
not stay in the house, but that he would go in and drag him out of
bed. Then another company came in and demanded: "What's all this
fussing about?" These were my friends, the South Carolinians from
under the bluff They heard what this fellow had to say, then said:
"This thing has to be dried up." They then told what had happened down
at the river, and concluded: "Butler is a gentleman. He talks like a
gentleman; _he treats like a gentleman_; he came into this house like
a gentleman, and we will show him that we are gentlemen." And when the
drunken fellow became uproarious they hustled him off to bed.
I was evidently among friends, and slept soundly and without
apprehension till morning. I never saw my South Carolina friends
again. They returned home at an early day.
They had not made Kansas a slave state, but they had seen a Yankee
Gov. Geary, sick in body and sick at heart, had left the Territory in
fear of private assassination, his best friends at Lecompton being the
treason prisoners. These, with something of bitterness, remarked that
the Governor went away in such haste that he had forgotten to pardon
them as he had promised; and thus while he got had out of prison, they
still stayed in.
The party in power at Lecompton had said to the President at
Washington: "We are sick of Northern Governors. They won't do to tie
to. For pity's sake give us a man from the South." And so a Southern
Governor was given them in the person of Robert J. Walker. Rehoboam,
the son of Solomon, said to the Jews: "My little finger shall be
thicker than my father's loins." So this Lecompton _party_ found the
little finger of this Southern Governor to be thicker than the loins
of Gov. Geary.
Mr. W. stood so high in public position that no man stood higher
than himself, save alone the President. He had been a Senator from
Mississippi, and had been Secretary of the Treasury in Mr. Pierce's
Cabinet. The complications of this Kansas question had become such as
to call for a man of the highest rank and ability. The main object of
Mr. Walker's mission to Kansas was to induce the Free State people to
vote at the Territorial elections, which alone were appointed by the
government at Washington, and recognized by it. Until he could
accomplish this, nothing was done toward the pacification of the
Territory. To induce them to do this, he pledged to the Free State men
a fair election. But he found that he was speaking to ears that could
not hear. He had said in his inaugural address with all apparent
I can not doubt that the Convention, after having framed a
State constitution, will submit it for ratification or
rejection by a majority of the actual _bona fide_ resident
settlers of Kansas.
With these views well known to the President and Cabinet, and
approved by them, I accepted the appointment of Governor of Kansas; my
instructions from the President, through the Secretary of State, under
date of the 30th of March last, sustain the regular Legislature of the
Territory in assembling a convention to form a constitution, and they
express the opinion of the President that when such a constitution
shall be submitted to the people of the Territory, they must be
protected in their right of voting for or against that instrument; and
the fair expression of the popular will must not be interrupted by
fraud or violence.
This seemed very fair, but what did it amount to? The people knew that
the Governor must consent to be a mere cat's paw and convenience of
these conspirators, or else be unceremoniously thrust aside; and that
the authorities at Washington would sustain them and not him. This had
been the fate of Reeder, of Shannon and of Geary, and this also would
be the fate of the present Governor. Dr. Gihon, on behalf of Mr.
Geary, had bitterly complained that there was not a single officer in
the Territory responsible either to the people or to the Governor;
that all were the appointees of the Legislature, and responsible to it
alone. The Lecompton Legislature had passed a bill calling a
convention to frame a State constitution; and Gov. Geary had vetoed
the bill because it made no provision for submitting the constitution,
when framed, to a vote of the people; and the Legislature had passed
the bill over his veto, and now what power had Gov. Walker in the
matter more that Gov. Geary?
An event happened at that time that was a nine days' wonder, and a
nine days' talk among the people; and yet it does not seem to have
been put on record in any extant history of the period. The Governor
had sought the privilege of addressing the Free State people on this
question of voting, which he made his hobby. It was at a meeting at
Big Springs. Gen. Lane was present, as also were a large number of
Free State men, and the Governor had pressed on them, as the only road
out of their difficulties, the necessity of voting at those
Territorial elections, which alone were recognized by the government
Gen. Lane arose to reply, and in a speech of terrible energy and power
he arraigned the Lecompton party for all their wrongs and outrages;
then, when he had reached the climax of his argument, he leaned
forward, and, looking at Mr. Walker from beneath his shaggy eyebrows
with his deepset, piercing black eyes, and shaking at him his long
bony finger, his whole frame quivering with passion, he said in his
deep guttural tones, which seemed more like the growl of a savage wild
beast than the voice of a human being: "_Gov-er-nor Wal-ker, y-o-u
c-a-n-'t con-t-r-ol your allies!_"
The effect was prodigious; and the Free State men were swept away as
with a whirlwind. Even Gov. Walker felt the force of the appeal. But
he showed himself a brave man; and came back resolutely to the battle.
He said: "_I am your Governor!_ You must admit that I have at least a
_legal_ right to control my allies, so far as to give you a fair
election; and I pledge you my word and honor that I will do it. Now
try me! and see if I do not keep my word!"
The Free State men began to falter and to ask each other, "Is it not
best to try the Governor, and see if he will be as good as his word?"
And from this time forward there began to appear a division in the
Free State ranks; which sometimes grew to be bitter and acrimonious.
This division had indeed begun to appear one year before, when on the
Fourth of July Col. Sumner had dispersed the Free State Legislature at
Topeka. Gov. Robinson was at that time a prisoner, and was, therefore,
not present; but he said in his next annual message as Free State
When your bodies met, pursuant to adjournment, in July
last, your assembly was interfered with and broken up by a
large force of United States troops in battle array, who
drove you hence, in gross violation of those
constitutional rights _which it was your duty to have
Wm. A. Phillips, correspondent of the _New York Tribune,_ and
afterwards a member of Congress, was a man terribly in earnest, and he
did, on the above-named Fourth of July, in a speech, take the position
that we ought to fight for our rights and defy Col. Sumner and his
dragoons. The men that demanded that we should fight said: "We can
take possession of the houses and fire out of the windows, and thus
avoid the onset of Col. Sumner's cavalry." But the majority said: "We
are loyal to the old flag, and in no case, and under no circumstances
will be found fighting against it." It was this more conservative
majority that began to demand that the Free State men should listen to
Gov. Walker's overtures and vote at the coming election.
Gen. Lane had been uncompromising in defying the Territorial laws. He
had said: "Gov. Walker has said, 'Vote next week.' What for? Have we
not made our constitution? And do not the people of freedom like it?
Can't we submit this to the people, and who wants another?" But now
he had become at the first reticent, and finally said: "Vote." This
singular man that constantly kept on exhibiting his desperate
determination to resist the bogus laws, really kept in his heart the
one supreme purpose to make himself the oracle of the prevailing
sentiment among the Free State men. When, therefore, Gen. Lane said,
"Let us vote," it was good evidence that this had become the
prevailing sentiment among the Free State party.
A convention was held at Grasshopper Falls, August 26, 1857, at which
this was the main question, and it was decided in favor of voting at
the coming election of Territorial officers. The Hon. Henry Wilson had
recently visited Kansas from Massachusetts, and he had earnestly
entreated the Free State men to vote. Phillips, Conway and Redpath
still protested against it. Gov. Robinson, however, gave his voice in
favor of voting.
An election had already been-held June 15th to elect delegates to the
Lecompton Constitutional Convention, at which the Free State men had
taken no part. Fifteen Free State counties had in this election been
disfranchished, no election having been ordered in them.
At the election of Territorial officers, held October 6, 1857, both
parties turned out The Free State men cast 7,887 votes for the
Territorial Legislature. The Lecompton party was reported to have cast
6,466 votes. But though the Free State men had a numerical majority of
votes, yet the districts had been so arranged that the above returns
gave a majority in the Legislature to the Lecompton party. Johnson
county, bordering on Missouri, had been united in one district with
Douglas county, in which Lawrence is situated, and this district had
been given eight members. Oxford precinct, in Johnson county, was a
place of not over a dozen houses, and polled 124 votes for township
officers, yet it reported 1,628 votes for the Lecompton party. When,
however, Gov. Walker and Mr. Stanton came to canvass the votes they
threw out this Oxford vote. They also set aside 1,200 fraudulent votes
in McGee county. The vote at Kickapoo, equally fraudulent, was also
set aside. This gave a majority to the Free State party in the
Lecompton Territorial Legislature, and thus Gov. Walker redeemed his
pledge that the people should have a fair election.
Judge Cato felt that it was time to come to the rescue of his friends,
and issued a writ directed to "Robert J. Walker, Governor of Kansas
Territory, and Frederick P. Stanton, secretary of the same,"
commanding these gentlemen to issue certificates of election to the
men who appeared to be elected according to the original returns. Gov.
Walker good-naturedly refused to obey the order of the court, offering
to submit to arrest for contempt of court, and tendering the judge _a.
posse_ of United States troops to aid in making the arrest. The judge
began to see that he had been making a fool of himself, and dropped
the subject. These Territorial judges had shown themselves capable of
any excess of villainy, and had been a sure refuge in every time of
trouble to this Lecompton party; but even the courts had now failed
them, and these "border ruffian" judges were only laughed at by this
Southern Governor. One year before, these conspirators had assembled
an army to drive out the Free State settlers, and to give the
Territory into the hands of the South; but Gov. Geary had interfered
to thwart their purpose, and, what was worse, a majority of the
leaders of that army, men of note along the Missouri border, had
declared themselves in sympathy with Mr. Geary. Then they had asked
for a Southern Governor, for would not he be true to the South? And
now even this man had failed them, and had given the control of the
Territorial Legislature into the hands of the Philistines! They were
indeed in evil case. It seemed as if heaven and earth had combined
against them, and that only hell was on their side. One last chance
remained. If this was a desperate chance, it must be remembered they
were playing a desperate game--they would make Kansas a slave State in
spite of the Governor, in spite of the Territorial Legislature, and in
spite of the people of Kansas.
The Convention that had been called to frame a State Constitution, and
in which election the Free State men had taken no part, had met to do
its work in September of 1857, and finished in November; but to the
last it refused to make provision to submit the Constitution, when
framed, to a vote of the people, for acceptance or rejection. But in
place of this thing, had virtually said to them: "You must accept
this Constitution whether you like it or not. We will allow you to
vote _for_ the Constitution with slavery; or, _for_ the Constitution
without slavery; but you must vote in every contingency _for_ the
But admitting the people had voted for the Constitution _without_
slavery, still a trap was set for them in the following proviso, which
would still remain an integral part of the Constitution.
"If, upon such examination of such poll-books it shall appear that a
majority of the legal votes cast at said election be in favor of the
'Constitution with no slavery,' then the article providing for slavery
shall be stricken from this Constitution, and slavery shall no longer
exist in the State of Kansas; _except that the right of property in
slaves now in this Territory shall in no manner be interfered with_."
Thus, which ever way they should vote, Kansas would still remain a
slave State. Of course the Free State men did not walk into the trap,
but staid away from the election, which was ordered for December 21,
1857; and the Constitution was adopted by a strictly one-sided vote.
And now Gov. Walker began to realize in the bitterness of his heart
that "uneasy lies the head of him that wears a crown." He had staked
his manhood, his veracity, his honor, his everything, that this
Constitution, when framed, should be submitted to a vote of the people
for acceptance or rejection, and now he was to be put to shame in the
eyes of the whole world; and Gen. Lane was proved a true prophet when
he had said to the Governor with such withering power: "Gov. Walker,
you can't control your allies." Mr. Walker was able to show a private
letter from President Buchanan, assuring him in the most positive
terms, that this Constitution, when framed, should be submitted to a
vote of the people; but of what avail was such a promise? There was a
power behind the throne at Washington stronger than the throne itself;
and Gov. W. was able to see what a hollow mockery was that power which
he supposed himself to possess.
The Governor made known to the people that he would be absent on
business for three or four weeks; and he went away to Washington,
never more to return. There was neither pity nor justice for him
there; and in unspeakable disgust he resigned; and Mr. Stanton took
the oath of office and reigned as Governor _for one month_. Then he
also was removed, and Gov. Denver took his place. Thus, five Kansas
Governors had each in their turn been officially decapitated. Stanton
had been superseded by Denver because he had called a special session
of the now Free State Legislature, and it had ordered an immediate
election to vote for or against the Lecompton Constitution, and at
this election 10,226 votes were polled against it.
It had been intended that under whip and spur Kansas should be
admitted by Congress as a slave State before the time should arrive
for the regular assembling of the Territorial Legislature, which had
now passed into the hands of the Free State men; but by calling a
special session of the Legislature, he had enabled that body to order
an immediate election, that should give official evidence that an
overwhelming majority of the people were opposed to the Lecompton
And now Stephen A. Douglas, at Washington, came forward as State
Senator from Illinois and made it impossible that Kansas should be
admitted as a State unless that document should first be submitted to
the people for acceptance or rejection. A bill to this effect was
finally passed by Congress. It was called the English bill. It
proffered a magnificent bribe if the people would accept the Lecompton
Constitution--five million five hundred thousand acres of public land
should be given to Kansas; besides other munificent donations. But the
English bill also contained a menace as well as a bribe. It threatened
that if the people rejected this offer they should be remanded back
for an indefinite period, to all the miseries of a Territorial life.
In the face of such a menace, and tempted by such a bribe, the whole
voting population of the Territory turned out at the election, which
was ordered to be held August 2, 1858. At this election, 1,788 votes
were cast for the Constitution, and 9,512 against it. From whence then
came this overwhelming majority? The majority of the Free State party
was about two to one. "Wilder's Annals," the best extant Free State
authority, puts it at this. "The Free State or Republican party has
carried every election in Kansas since this date (1857), usually by
two to one." But here is a majority of six to one; and we must go
outside of the Free State or Republican party to find it. Dr. John H.
Stringfellow wrote at this time to the Washington Union against the
admission of Kansas under the Lecompton Constitution. He says: "To do
so will break down the Democratic party at the North, and seriously
endanger the interests and peace of Missouri and Kansas, if not of the
Judge Tutt, of St. Joseph, Mo., had said to the South Carolinians: "I
was born in Virginia, and have lived forty years in Missouri. I am a
slave-holder, and a Pro-slavery man; and I desire Kansas to be made a
slave State, _if it can be done by honorable means_. But you will
break down the cause you are seeking to build up." And Judge Tutt
voiced the sentiments of a large number of Pro-slavery men and
slave-holders in Kansas.
The city of Atchison gave a majority of votes against the Lecompton
Constitution; and Atchison county gave a majority of almost three to
one against it; and Leavenworth city, which two years before had been
the theater of such murders, riots and robberies, gave a majority
against the proposition of the English bill of more than ten to one,
notwithstanding the huge bribe offered if the people would accept it.
We are writing these "Recollections" for posterity as well as for
the present generation. It is only the verdict of posterity that will
justly estimate the men and the influences that went to make up the
final result of the early Kansas struggle. Up to the present time the
writers that have written on this subject have been too near the
battle, and themselves too much a party in it, to write with perfect
impartiality. Southern and Pro-slavery writers and speakers have not
been able to admit that Southern men were the original wrong-doers;
while Northern and Free State writers have not been able to rise to
the level of such fair dealing, as to admit that when the decisive
vote was cast that determined the question of freedom and slavery in
Kansas, as absolutely as it had already been determined in Ohio,
Indiana and Illinois, the Free State people were indebted to the
nobility of heart and elevation of mind, displayed by Southern and
Pro-slavery men in making the vote so overwhelming as to put the
question beyond the possibility of controversy forever; yet this was
done in the unprecedented vote of six to one, cast in condemnation of
the Lecompton Constitution.
From this time forward the two parties that had been struggling with
each other for four years in such fierce antagonism were dead; and in
their place have appeared the two political parties that are found
throughout the United States; and the lines of difference between the
men of the South and the men of the North have been as completely
obliterated in thirty years, as they were obliterated in Old England,
between Saxon and Norman, after 500 years of savage strife and
And now, if the superior races of the world have been formed by the
amalgamation of the kindred stocks, may we not believe that Providence
has been preparing in this central State a people that shall bear a
distinguished part in that mighty battle that is so swiftly coming to
the American nation, in which we will be called to fight against a
Christian barbarism and a paganized Christianity, for all that is
precious in our Christian civilization, and for all that is true and
good in our American form of government?
Rome fell under an invasion by foreign barbarians; so an inundation of
the barbarians of the world is pouring in on us, and threatens to
swallow us up; it is like the flood the dragon poured out of his
mouth. Of our duties growing out of this catastrophe we shall write
The writer of these "Recollections" is a fallible man, like other
fallible man. He has shown at least this, that he is ready to stand by
his convictions, living and dying; and he holds this conviction fixed
and immutable, that there is a crisis coming on us of overtopping and
overwhelming magnitude, and demanding the American people should come
together and look each other honestly in the face, that they may take
into their hearts this weight and extent of the reasons that call that
they should join in united effort for the salvation of the nation and
the conversion of the world; and that this does not allow that there
shall be anything of flimsy, shallow, or hypocritical concealment of
the facts of our history.
The world has had abundant experience of these border feuds. Scotland
had her feuds between her Highlands and Lowlands. In Ireland there has
been unceasing enmity for 250 years between her Protestant and
Catholic populations. The French and English peoples of Canada are
never at peace with each other; and now there is a feud that can not
be healed between England and Ireland. In some of the mountain regions
of the Southern States, where the people yet retain the clannish
temper of their Scotch and Irish ancestors, there are neighborhood
enmities that go down from father to son, from generation to
generation; and that issue in such fist fights, brawls, and mobs, as
sometimes to tax the whole energy of the public authorities to
suppress them. And now, with such foundation laid for the indefinite
perpetuation of similar feuds in Kansas, we do argue that it has
manifested on the part of our population no ordinary qualities of
heart and soul, that they were so soon able to eliminate from among
themselves their turbulent and dangerous elements.
The men that had settled in Kansas were generally poor, and few had
any reserved fund from which to draw their support, but were literally
dependent for their daily bread on their labor day by day; and to take
away the horses of such a man was literally to take the bread out of
the mouths of his children. Free State men and Pro-slavery men had
each in turn been thus despoiled and compelled to flee the Territory;
or if they remained they were paralyzed and unfitted for work.
But the spring and summer of 1857 had brought a new order of things.
Gov. Geary had put an end to these disorders, and the presence of S.
C. Pomeroy and other Free State men in Atchison was an additional
guarantee of peace and security. As a result the Kansas squatters had
gone to work with a will. Old things had passed away, and all things
had become new. There did indeed remain a chronic state of disorder in
Southeastern Kansas; but this was local and exceptional.
But religious and thoughtful men looked far beyond this question of
what shall we eat and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be
clothed? Intemperate habits were growing fast on the people. Coarse
profanity and ribald speech were becoming so common as to be the rule
and not the exception. Fathers and mothers began to tremble when they
thought what their boys were coming to; and this turned their thoughts
to the question of schools and churches. Then all the denominations
simultaneously began their work. A church was organized at Leavenworth
by our brethren, in which S. A. Marshall and W. S. Yohe were the
leading members. Dr. Marshall had formerly been a resident of
Pennsylvania, and W. S. Yohe was from the South, a slave-holder, a man
of considerable wealth, and of eminent personal excellence.
The church that had been built up in 1855 at Mt. Pleasant had fallen
to pieces in the troublous times, and was now reorganized at what has
come to be known as "The Old Union School House," a place that has
been hallowed to precious memories, because of the great revival that
took place under the labors of D. S. Burnett in the year 1858.
The brethren that lived along the valley of the Stranger Creek and its
tributaries, and that had met to worship two years before under the
spreading elms that lined its bottoms, now organized themselves into a
church at a village called Pardee. This ambitious little town was
located on the high prairie; but it shared the fate of many other
Kansas towns, equally aspiring and equally ill-fated. When the
railroads were built they followed the courses of the streams, and it
was left out in the cold; but for a time it was the center of social,
political and religious influence in the county outside of Atchison.
Among the brethren that had been in Kansas from its first settlement,
and whom we have not mentioned, were John and Jacob Graves, brothers
from Tennessee, who have since grown rich in worldly goods, and richer
still in good works. There were also Brethren Landrum and Schell, and
many others whom we can not name. In the fall of 1857 came Lewis
Brockman, who loved the church more than he loved his own life. He was
brother to that Col. Thomas Brockman conspicuous in the Mormon war in
Illinois, which resulted in the exodus of the Mormons to Salt Lake,
there to build up a kingdom that cherishes a deadly and undying hatred
to the United States, its people, and its institutions. Norman
Dunshee, now Professor in Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, also
came to Kansas from the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute at Hiram,
O., in the fall of 1859, and settled at Pardee. Dr. S. G. Moore, of
Camp Point, 111., who came in the spring of 1857, was brother-in-law
to Peter Garrett; and these two men were of one heart and one soul in
their aspirations for a larger liberality on the part of Disciples and
a better order of things in our churches; but they had to take up the
sad refrain so oft repeated: "We have found the Old Adam too strong
for the young Melancthon." Dr. Moore was a man that, when he knew he
was in the right, pushed his enterprises with such a rigorous purpose
as sometimes to alienate from himself men who might have been won by a
more complaisant temper. His stay in Kansas was limited. The dwelling
in which he lived was struck by lightning, and Bro. and Sister Moore
were seriously injured. From these injuries Sister Moore has never
fully recovered. With broken health she became homesick, and pined to
be among her kindred. Moreover, a valuable farm that Dr. Moore had
sold at Camp Point fell back into his hands, and he felt constrained
to return to Illinois in 1861. With such elements of power the reader
will not think it strange that we should go to work with a will to
recover the ground we had lost in this social and political turmoil
and religious inaction.
The writer did not travel much abroad this summer; he found too much
to do at home. We had meetings every Lord's day, and had frequent
additions by letter and by baptism. One day, as my manner was, I gave
an invitation to sinners to obey the gospel. There had been no
indication, however remote, that any would desire baptism; but my
daughter, Rosetta, now thirteen years of age, came forward and
demanded to be baptized. Two years before I had brought her, then
eleven years of age, with her mother, to Kansas. Some part of this
time we had spent in the very presence of death; and Rosetta and her
mother would not have thought it strange if a company of men had come
into the house at night with murderous intent. I have not told in
these "Recollections" how many times I felt it expedient to be away
from home; and then Rosetta was her mother's only companion. Of young
company such as girls usually have at her age, she had almost none. We
had talked of these daily occurring tragedies until they had lost both
their terror and their novelty. These certainly were not fitting
surroundings for a little girl, intelligent and thoughtful beyond her
years, and of an unduly sensitive and nervous organization. But she
was her mother's only girl, this was our only home, and, coming out of
the furnace fires of such a life, we could not think it strange that
she should feel the need of a Heavenly Father in whom she could trust,
of $ Savior's arm on which she could lean, and of a home in the church
where she could find help and sympathy.
One thought was ever present in my heart, how far could brethren
co-operate together who had been on opposite sides? To learn what
could be done I made the acquaintance of brethren everywhere. The
brilliant and erratic Dr. Cox, of Missouri, had sent an appointment to
"Old Union," and Oliver Steele came with him. I attended his meeting,
and Bro. Steele, Cox and myself accepted the hospitality of Bro.
Humber. Bro. Cox, being now in the presence of a man reported to be a
live Abolitionist, opened a discussion on the question of slavery.
I had been brought up on the Western Reserve, Ohio, and inherited
intense anti-slavery convictions. But I had learned from the writings
of A. Campbell to judge slave-holders with a charitable judgment. They
had inherited the institution of slavery from their fathers, and like
the aristocratic institutions of the old world, it had come down to
them without any fault of their own. My experiences in Kansas
certainly had not made me love slavery any better; still, all this,
how bitter soever it might be to me, had revealed so much of real
nobility in the hearts of many slave-holders that it had not impaired
my feeling of good will to them. If I were to grant that they had been
associated sometimes with men of desperate morals, had I not also been
associated with Jim Lane, and had I not been compelled to hide myself
behind the old maxims, that "Politics, like poverty, makes us
acquainted with strange bedfellows?"
And so I argued with Bro. Cox the views I held, stoutly asserting
them, when, for a wonder to him, Bro. Steele and Bro. Humber expressed
themselves as coinciding with my views much more than with the views
of Bro. Cox, who held the ultra Southern, John C. Calhoun theory of
slavery. It appeared that these brethren held that if Providence has
given to the Caucasian descendants of Japheth, a fairer skin, a higher
style of intellectual power, and greater force of will, that the same
divine Providence has given to the sons of Ham a darker color to their
skin; but that all are alike the children of the love of one common
Father; that Jesus died for all, and that he will not suffer with
impunity any indignity to be offered even to one of the least of these
his brethren. To the inquiry why these brethren did not give that
freedom to their colored servants which they asserted was their
natural right, they made reply, alleging the unfriendly legislation
not only of the slave States, but of the free States; and that had
interposed grave difficulties in the way of such a step. The Big
Springs Convention had framed the first Free State platform for
Kansas, August 15, 1855, and this, with hard-hearted inhumanity, had
avowed the purpose to drive out of Kansas the free blacks as well as
the slaves. The same principle was also incorporated in the Topeka
Free State Constitution.
It will throw additional light on this subject if I mention that, in
1858, one year after this conversation with Bro. Cox, when the Free
State men had obtained control of the Territorial Legislature, Bro.
Humber went to Lawrence and laid before Judge Crosier, a leading
member of the Legislature, from Leavenworth, the following
proposition. He said: "I will emancipate my slaves, and will sell them
land. I want them to remain where I can look after their welfare. I do
not want them to be driven out of Kansas." Judge Crosier, while
greatly sympathizing with Bro. Humber, had to tell him the thing was
impossible. It is comforting to know that "The world do move;" that
colored people do freely enjoy in Kansas now the rights Bro. Humber in
vain sought of a Free State Legislature then on behalf of his slaves.
The reader has already heard of Big Springs as a locality where Free
State Conventions were wont to be held. Lawrence and Topeka were
twenty-five miles apart, and both were on the south bank of the Kansas
River. Big Springs is midway between these towns, and is situated on
the high divide, lying between the Kansas River and the Wakarusa.
Here, at Big Springs, were located four brethren, L. R. Campbell, C.
M. Mock, A. T. Byler and Jack Reeves. Bro. Campbell was a Disciple
from Indiana, of much more than average attainments, and of great
force of character. In his immediate neighborhood, and as he had
opportunity, he was a preacher, and when a church was organized he
naturally became its leader and elder. His early death seemed the
greatest calamity that ever befell the church, though he raised a
family of boys that in process of time have taken his place, and make
his loss seem not irreparable.
C. M. Mock was not a preacher, yet there is many a preacher that might
well be proud to make himself as widely and as favorable known as
"Charley Mock," and to be remembered with as much affection. He only
remained in Kansas a few years, and then returned to his original home
in Rushville, Rush county, Indiana. We may truthfully say, "What was
our loss was their gain."
Bro. Byler was simply a large-hearted and kind-natured farmer from
Missouri, who was too full of brotherly love to have anything of
sectional prejudice about him. George W. Hutchinson, whom we will
hereafter introduce to our readers, used to call him his
"Big _Boiler_." His death after a few years was sad and pathetic; he
had been to Lecompton and driving a spirited horse; the horse took
fright, and threw him from his buggy and killed him.
Jack Reeves was the son of B. F. Reeves, of Flat Rock, Ind., so long
the venerated elder of that church, and a sort of patriarch over all
the churches. And the above-named brethren, as well as a number of
others, hearing that I was preaching near the Missouri River, sent for
me to come and make them a visit. I accordingly did so, and now, for
thirty-one years I have not forgotten to visit them, and they have not
forgotten me. From this time forward I preached for them as I had
opportunity, and thus began to make the acquaintance of brethren south
of the Kansas River. The church grew apace. At their organization they
had twenty-five members. Two years afterwards they were able to report
a membership of seventy-two persons.
The year 1857 passed rapidly away. My time was divided between working
on my claim on Stranger Creek, preaching for the churches that had
been organized, and making the acquaintance of brethren wherever I was
able to find them.
And now the year 1858 was upon us, predestinated to bring with it
consequences far-reaching, as touching the future of Kansas. In this
year should be settled the question that had filled the Territory with
agitation, tumult, and war for four years; and it was in this year
that our Kansas missionary work was begun, and in which was organized
the first missionary society. The time was the early spring of 1858.
The place was "Old Union," a little, log school-house situated in a
ravine opening into Stranger Creek bottoms. The _personnel_ were,
first, Numeris Humber, with his tender heart and quenchless love for
missionary work. Then there was his sister wife, that with saintly
presence and sacred song made us feel that this was the very house of
God and gate of heaven. Judge William Young was also present, who had
neither song nor sentimentality about him, but in his unpoetic way
looked at everything in the light of cold, hard fact. And yet Bro.
Young is neither cold nor hard, only on the outside. There also was
Spartan Rhea (these brethren were all from Missouri), whose fine sense
of honor and upright conduct we have already had occasion to commend
while acting as justice of the peace during our former troubles.
Joseph Potter was also there, and so, also, was Joseph McBride, a
notable preacher of Tennessee, that many years ago was one of the
pioneers that planted the Christian cause in Oregon. All told, we had
a crowd large enough to fill a little, log school-house. Brethren Yohe
and Marshall, of Leavenworth City, also gave us assurances of their
hearty help and sympathy. This Dr. S. A. Marshall was a brother-in-law
to Isaac Errett, and always deeply interested himself in this work of
building up the churches. The church at Pardee was also represented.
And this constituted the make-up of our first missionary society.
Three churches represented, and enough persons decently to fill a
little seven-by-nine log school-house. Let us learn not to despise the
day of small things. As for the amount of money pledged--well, it
would not have frightened even one of those little ones, that are
scared out of their wits at the thought of an over-paid, over-fed,
proud, luxurious and domineering priesthood. As for the missionary
chosen to go on this forlorn hope--to explore this Africa of spiritual
darkness, it was Hobson's choice; it was this or none. Except myself,
there was no man to be thought of that would or could go on this
errand, and so there was no contest over the choice of a missionary.
Conspicuous among these early churches were the churches that were
formed in Doniphan county. This is the most northeastern county in the
State, and is in a great bend of the Missouri River, having the river
on three sides of it. It is a body of the best land in Kansas, and no
county had at its first settlement as many Disciples. Their first
beginning was unfortunate. A man named Winters, calling himself a
preacher, came among them and made a great stir. But he brought with
him a woman that was not his wife. With a character unblemished this
man would have won an honorable fame; but when questioned he
equivocated, but was finally compelled to confess the shameful truth,
and in their grief and shame the newly-organized church seemed broken
up. Jacob I. Scott was a man of spotless life and dauntless purpose,
and feeling that it would be an unspeakable humiliation to allow
everything to go to wreck because of the frailty of one unfortunate
man, and learning that I had taken the field in the counties further
south, he besought me to come over and help them. In no counties in
this State have there been more churches than in Doniphan county, but
in no county in the State have the churches been more evanescent and
unstable, and yet it is not because these brethren have apostatized,
but it is that the men that have settled in Doniphan county are men
that keep on the borders of civilization, and the opening of a great
empire for settlement to the west of them tempted them to move onward.
Indeed, this has been the case in all the churches in Eastern Kansas.
Just as soon as we would gather up a strong church it would
straightway melt out of our hands, and its members would be scattered
from Montana to Florida, and from the Missouri River to Oregon.
Some twenty-five miles to the northwest of my place of residence, in
what is now Jackson county, on the waters of the Cedar Creek, was a
settlement mainly from Platte county, Mo. The best known of these was
Bro. John Gardiner, whose heart now for thirty years has held one
single thought, the interest and prosperity of the Christian Church.
He has sacrificed much, has labored much, and has done a great deal of
preaching without fee or reward. Bro. J. W. Williams, from
Southeastern Ohio, a man of saintly character and indefatigable
purpose, was also of this settlement. There also we organized a
The places for holding meetings were of the most primitive kind. A log
school-house was a luxury; the squatter cabins were too small; but we
had to use them during the winter. The groves of timber along the
streams were always waiting; but, we only could use them in fair and
pleasant weather, and for six months in the year. As for hearers, we
were never lacking an audience, we were never lacking for a crowd that
were ready to listen with honest good-will to the message which we
It was an eventful summer. More rain fell than in any season I have
known. The streams were always full, the bottoms were often flooded,
and crossing was sometimes dangerous; but I had a good horse and was
In religious matters everything was broken up, and men were drifting.
But this good came of it, that they were ready to listen to this
strange and new thing that was brought to their ears, in which so much
was made of the Lord's authority, of apostolic teaching and apostolic
example, and so little of traditions, theories, and time-honored
observances, of which the Bible knows nothing, but which have been
sanctified by universal acceptance.
As for myself, there had been romances enough about my life to make
the people wish to see me, and I was proud to know that the boys could
remember my sermons and repeat them. The men with whom I was
immediately associated in this work, and who had sent me on this
errand, were of inestimable advantage to me. They were well and
favorably known as men of unblemished reputation in Eastern Kansas and
Western Missouri. "Old Duke Young," as the father of Judge William
Young had been affectionately called in Western Missouri, had been an
eminently popular frontier and pioneer preacher, and Judge Young had
inherited an honorable distinction as being the son of such a father;
and when it was known that I was acting with the concurrence and under
the approval of such men, the arrangement was generally accepted as
And now I had my heart's best desire. I was in the field as an
evangelist; the harvest was abundant and the grain was already ripe
and waiting for the sickle. But above all, and beyond all these, was
peace in the land. We all had had a lover's quarrel, but we had made
it up and were the better friends. Everywhere they had their joke with
me, as to my method of navigating the Missouri River, and to the
attire I sometimes put on; but I had come out the upper dog in the
fight, and could afford to stand their bantering. There is a warmth,
freshness, and enthusiasm in the friendships formed under such
conditions that can never be transferred to associations of older and
more orderly communities. As a result of this summer's work, here were
seven churches full of zeal and rapidly growing, and occupying a field
that had been almost absolutely fallow, for outside of the towns there
was no religious movement except our own.
But at one point we were put at a very great disadvantage. Older and
better established denominations were able to plant missionaries in
such cities as Atchison, Topeka and Lawrence, while we were not; and
yet in each of these cities there were from the first a small number
of brethren, who might have served as the nucleus of a church.
Speaking in general terms, monthly preaching never built up a church
in any city, and the reader will see that in the very nature of things
I could not set myself down to the care of a single congregation.
The same causes that have made me a preacher, have also made me an
abundant contributor to our periodical literature. As I wish to
present a living picture of these early days, I will, from time to
time, furnish extracts from the contributions I have made to our
[Written for the Christian Luminary.]
OCENA P. O., Atchison Co.,
Kansas Ter., May, 1858.
Having myself had a very full experience of the advantages
and disadvantages, the trials, pleasures and perils of a
pioneer life, I propose to write a series of essays on the
matter of emigrating to the West.
While a grave necessity demands that many shall emigrate
to the West, it is not to be denied that it is an
enterprise fraught with many dangers to the moral and
spiritual well-being of the emigrant. We have here men
from the four quarters of the civilized world, and have
thus congregated together all the vices found in Europe
and America. The semi-barbarism of the Irish Catholicism
of Tipperary and Clare is now fairly inaugurated in
Leavenworth city. All the horses of the livery stables are
hired to attend an Irish funeral, and as the mourners take
a "_wee bit of a dhrap_" before starting, they are lucky
if they get the corpse well under ground without a fight.
By this time, having become over-joyful, they raise a
shout, and with a whoop and hurrah they start for home,
and the man that has the fastest horse gets into the city
first. The unlucky traveler, whose horse gets mixed up
with theirs in this stampede, and who thus involuntarily
becomes one of the company at an Irish wake, has need to
be a good rider.
German infidelity has been nurtured in Germany by a
thousand years of priestly domination and oppression, and
is now translated into our Kansas towns by Germans, who
have no Lord's day in their week. Corresponding with our
Lord's day, they have a holiday--a day to hunt, to fish,
to do up odd jobs, to congregate together and listen to
fine music, dance, sing, feast, drink lager beer, and have
a good time generally. Under the best _regimen_ it is hard
for men to keep their hearts from evil; but here, it is a
fearful thing for young men, released from all the
restraints of their native land, to find the house of
revelry and dancing so near the house of God, and the
gates of hell, alluring by all the fascinating and
seductive attractions of harmonious sounds, so near the
gate of heaven.
I am appalled at the amount of drinking and gambling that
has existed in Kansas, especially in the Missouri River
towns, for the last three years, Under the shade of every
green tree, on the streets, in every shop, store, grocery
and hotel, it has seemed as if the chief business of the
people was to gamble and drink.
There are other causes full of evil, and fearfully potent
to work apostasy and ruin in the West. Men come here, not
to plead the cause of a suffering and dying Saviour; not
to give to the people a more pure and self-denying
morality, and a higher civilization; but to get rich. They
have had a dream, and are come to realize that dream. They
have dreamed of one thousand acres of land, bought at one
dollar and a quarter per acre, that by the magic growth of
some Western town becomes worth fifty thousand dollars.
They have dreamed of money invested in mythical towns,
which towns are to rival in their growth Toledo, Chicago
or St. Louis. The dream is to do nothing and get rich.
Land sharks, speculators, usurers and politicians who
aspire to a notoriety they will never win--a station they
will never occupy--swarm over the West thicker than frogs
in Egypt, and more intrusive than were these squatting,
crawling, jumping pests, when evoked from the river's
slime by the rod of Moses.
Some men are too old when they come to the West. They are
like a vine whose tendrils are rudely torn from a branch
around which they have wound themselves, and are so
hardened by time that they can not entwine themselves
around another support. Such men forever worship, looking
to the East. They form no new friendships; engage in no
new enterprises; they care for nobody, and nobody cares
for them. They live and die alone.
But there are more sad and gentle notes of sorrow that
fall upon our ears. The children mourn for the peach tree
and the apple tree, with their luscious fruit. The
mother-wife asks who will watch the little grave, or tend
the rose tree growing at its head, or who will train the
woodbine, or care for the pinks and violets? Then sadly
she sings of home--"Home, sweet home!" The father, too,
remembers his pasture for his pigs, his calves, and sheep,
and cows. He remembers that on one poor forty acres of
land he had a house, a barn, an orchard, woodland, maple
trees for making maple sugar, a meadow, room for corn,
wheat, oats and potatoes, besides pasture for one horse,
two oxen, three cows, together with a number of sheep and
pigs, Then there was the three months' school in winter,
and four months in summer. There was the Sunday-school and
the church, where serious and honest men uttered manly and
religious counsel to sincere hearts, which nurtured good
and holy purposes. All this he has bartered away for the
privilege of being rich--of having more land than he knows
what to do with; more corn than he can tend, and pigs till
they are a pest to him.
Having glanced at some of the evils attendant on Western
life, I must hasten to indicate what class of men should
come to the West. The poor of our cities, whose poverty
becomes the more haggard by being placed in immediate
proximity to measureless profusion, luxury and
extravagance--respectable people, whose whole life is a
lifelong struggle to keep up appearances, and in whom the
securing of affluence is like putting on a corpse the
frippery and finery of the ball-room; young men with brave
hearts and willing hands--these are the classes that may
come, and should come, to the West. And if Adam, realizing
that the world is all before him, where to choose, looks
to the West to find his Eden, I would respectfully suggest
that he has an infirmity in his left side, and that his
best security against the perils of a pioneer life is to
take to himself the rib that is wanting.
The tenant, living on the farm of another man, should come
to the West. He can not plant a tree and call it his own.
God gave the whole world to Adam and his sons, and the
true dignity of every son of Adam requires that he should
be able to stand in the midst of his own Eden and say:
"This, under God, is mine."
There is yet another class of men that may always go to
the West, or to any other place. Whether young, or old, or
middle-aged--whether rich or poor--they may go, and the
blessings of God go with them. These are the men whose
hearts are full of faith, and hope, and love--who
sympathize with all, and who, consequently, will find
friends among all--who are willing to be missionaries of
the cross, and to be pillars in the churches they have
helped to nurture into life.
Kansas is full of men who were once members of our
churches, but who are stranded on the rocks of apostasy,
on whom the storms of life will beat yet a little while,
and then they will sink down into ever-lasting ruin.
Strong drink, the love of money, or, perhaps, the
inadequacy of their former teaching, is the occasion of
their fall. Others, scattered over this great wilderness
of sin, remain faithful amidst abounding wickedness, and
stretch out their hands and utter the Macedonian cry,
"Come over and help us."
The apostolic age was pre-eminently an age of missionary
effort. What will the world say of us, and of our
confident, and, as some would say, arrogant, pretense to
have restored primitive and apostolic Christianity, when
our Israel in so large a part of the great West is such a
moral wreck--such a spectacle of scattered, abandoned,
and, too often, ruined church members, unknown, untaught
and uncared for.
The peerless glory of our Lord Jesus Christ--his
measureless, boundless and quenchless love--this is the
great center of attraction around which the affections of
the Christian do continually gather. The Lord is the
center of the moral universe, and all its light is but the
emanation of his glory. He dwells in the human heart, and
fills it with his love; he dwells in the family, and
becomes its ornament as when he dwelt in the house of
Lazarus; he dwells in the church, and makes it a fold in
which he nurtures his lambs.
Christians wandering over the earth like sheep having no
shepherd, isolated from their brethren, dwelling
alone--however frequent this spectacle now--is not often
witnessed in the New Testament. There they congregated in
churches. But this experiment of isolation is most
perilous to the individual, and a prodigal expenditure of
the wealth of the church, which has souls for her hire. It
is true that a few persons become centers of attraction to
Back to Full Books