To the Close of 1865

by T. F. Robley

Fort Scott, Kansas 1894

Louisiana Purchase - Missouri Territory, Missouri Compromise - Platte Purchase - Santa Fe Trail - Cherokee Neutral Lands - New York Indian Lands

Pages 8 - 16


One of the most important events in the history of the United States was the purchase of Louisiana Territory from the Republic of France. The treaty of cession was concluded at Paris on the 30th day of April, 1803, by and between the ministers of President Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon Bonaparte, then First Consul of France. The far-reaching effects of this cession on the future of the whole civilized world, and its immense advantages to the United States as a Nation, can scarcely be realized. By this acquisition the United States added to its territory 1,160,577 square miles to the 820,680 square miles of the original thirteen colonies, for which it paid a sum amounting to less than twenty million dollars. By this acquisition it added a grand interoceanic zone, reaching down from the rugged coast of the North Pacific to the crescent shore of the Gulf; down from the regions of eternal snows to the clime of eternal flowers.

The Republic moved at once into its place on the map of the world as a Power of the first class-a Nation with a big N. This was one of the few grand victories won by the pen instead of the sword.

Conceive, if you can, the consequences if President Jefferson, without the authority of Congress or of constitutional law, had failed at the supreme moment to say, in effect, to Bonaparte, "L' Etat c'est moi." "I will take it"

England would undoubtedly have taken it from France as she had successively taken Canada, Cape Breton, New Foundland, Nova Scotia and portions of Asia, and as she finally from Napoleon "wrenched the sceptre with an unlineal hand.'' The fear that this territory would ultimately fall into the hands of Eng-land, coupled with his great need of money at that time, induced Bonaparte to make the proposition to Jefferson to sell the entire province, just as he had acquired it only a short time previously by retrocession from Spain. And Jefferson, realizing its vital importance to his country, and also the danger of delays, at once closed the bargain on his own responsibility, as has been seen, without the authority of the constitution, which made no provision for incorporating foreign territory, without the authority of Congress, which was not then in session, but by an act as arbitrary and autocratic as could have been done by the Czar of Russia. On that subject Jefferson himself wrote:

"The less that is said about any constitutional difficulty the better. Congress should do what is necessary in silence. I find but one opinion about the necessity of shutting up the Constitution for some time.

Nevertheless, for that act alone, if for no others, future generations of his countrymen will place his statue the very next to Washington's in the line of historic marbles.

The territory was bounded on the east by the Mississippi river south to the 31st parallel-about one degree north of the city of New Orleans-thence east to the Pardido river, which is now the west boundary of Florida. The west country was the east and north boundaries of Texas to the 100th meridian; thence north to the Arkansas river; thence along the Arkan-sas river to the "divide" of the Rocky Mountains to and along the 106th meridian, to and along the 42nd parallel to the Pacific ocean. The north line being the present boundary between the British Possessions and the United States.


In 1812 the territory then known as the Territory of Orleans was admitted into the Union as the State of Louisiana, and by act of Congress in June, 1812, the balance of the Louisiana purchase became the Terri-tory of Missouri. In March, 1819, the Territory of Arkansas was created.


By act of Congress known as the Missouri Compro-mise, approved March 6th, 1820, the Territory of Missouri was erected with a view of admission as a State.

Section 8 of that act provided that in all territory north of 36 degrees and 30 minutes north latitude, not included within the limits of the contemplated State of Missouri, slavery should be forever prohibited.


The west boundary line of the State of Missouri, as designated by that law, was as it now exists, except that from the mouth of the Kaw river the line ran due north to the Iowa line, instead of the Missouri river forming the boundary as now. This territory between the due north line and the Missouri river was known as the uPlatte Purchase." In June, 1836, Congress passed a law adding the Platte Purchase to Missouri, and this tract of land became slave territory, in direct violation of the compromise of 1830.


By an act of Congress of June, 1825, Major Sibley, of the United States Army, was appointed to survey and establish a wagon road from Independence, Mis-souri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, known as the Santa Fe Trail. This was the first highway of civilization to penetrate this then unexplored and silent desert.


And this within the memory of our old men! But we will go into no retrospect here. Get on a Santa Fe train, which passes over subtantially the survey made by Major Sibley, and the retrospect will come to you much more forcibly than it can be written. Consider that, then the valleys of the Kaw, Marias des Cygnes, Neosho, Marmaton and Paint Creek were the favorite hunting grounds of the Osages, Cheyennes and Arapaoes. The wolves, deer, antelope and the migratory buffalo roamed the wild prairie unfettered by wire fence and unbalked by railroad crossing. And that only seventy-five years ago. Even thirty years ago they had not yet departed from the now confines of Wichita's additions.

About 1825 the government began locating the various tribes of the more nearly civilized Indians from the East and South on reservations, by cessions, trades, treaties, removals and retrocessions, up to about the year 1852. In 1828 a treaty was made with the Cherokees, of Georgia, by which they were given the territory known as the Cherokee Nation, with a promise also of the payment of $450,000. But this money was never paid them, and in 1835 a supplementary treaty was made by which they were granted, iu lieu of said sum of money, a tract of land bounded and described as follows:

"Beginning at the northeast corner of the Cherokee Nation; thence north along the Missouri state line fifty miles; thence west twenty-five miles; thence south fifty miles; thence east to the place of beginning."

This tract, twenty-five by fifty miles was intended to contain 800,000 acres.

This grant has always been known as the "Cherokee Neutral Lands. It is said that the reason it was so called was that the Cherokee Nation was slave territory and the Cherokees being slave holders, they preferred to have neutral ground between their nation and the free territory north of 360 30', as provided for by the Missouri Compromise. Consequently, instead of the money due by the provisions of the treaty, they chose in lieu thereof this "Neutral Land" as a bulwark against freedom.

As these lands were partly contained in Bourbon County, occasion will be taken to refer to them further along in regular chronological order.


On January 15th, 1838, the government set apart to the various tribes of New York Indians a tract of country described as follows :

"Beginning at the west line of the State of Missouri, at the northeast corner of the Cherokee tract and running thence north along the west line of the State of Missouri twenty-seven miles to the southerly line of the Miami lands; thence west so far as shall be nec-essary by running a line at right angles and parallel to the west line aforesaid to the Osage lands, and thence easterly along the Osage and Cherokee lands to the place of beginning; to include 1,824,000 acres."

This land was intended as a future home for the Indians of New York. These various tribes of New York Indians, consisting of the remnants of the Senecas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Tuscaroras, Oneidas, St. Regis, Stockbridges, Munsees and Brothertowns, were called the "Six Nations."

As will be seen the balance of what is now Bourbon County was contained within this tract of New York Indian lands.

But it was never occupied by the tribes mentioned, there having been but thirty-two allotments made to them of 320 acres each, which were all on the Osage river.

As this tract was not a grant in fee simple, like that to the Cherokees, but designed to be allotted in severalty to individual members of the tribes, and as only thirty-two of them came west to receive their share, the remainder of the tract finally reverted to the United States.

Lieutenant John C. Fremont in June, 1842, left Chouteau's trading post on the Marias des Cygnes river, in what is now Linn County, on his first expedition to the Rocky Mountains. He was accompanied by Kit Carson as guide.

We now have a clear idea of the condition of things in this country-physically and politically-as they existed in that early day. The United States had acquired a clear and unquestioned title to the domain; many of the tribes of Indians in the Eastern and Southern States, who were in the way of the rapidly increasing population, had been given, and located on, large tracts of land in this worthless, sterile desert, totally unfit for the habitation of the white man, as it was believed, where they could quietly work out their own extinction.

The Nation was on a solid and enduring foundation; peace reigned supreme, and, better than all, the troublesome, vexatious and dangerous question of African slavery had, in the minds of all men, been settled peacefully, finally and forever.

Fort Scott Located - Colonel H. T. Wilson - Sergeant John Hamilton - Military Road Completed - Barracks Erected - Relics of a Past Era

Pages 17 - 20


In the year 1837, by an order of Colonel Zachary Taylor, a military Board of Commissioners, consisting of Colonel S. W. Kearney and Captain A Nathan Boone, of the 1st U. S. Dragoons, was appointed to lay out a military road from Fort ' Coffey in the Cherokee Nation to Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri river, and to select a site for a new Post to be located somewhere nearly midway between those two points, for the accommodation of the garri-son at Fort Wayne, a post then existing near the Arkansas line, about fifty miles south of the northeast corner of the Cherokee Nation, which it had been decided to abandon.

In reference to the location of the new post, the commission reported much difficulty in fixing upon a site. Several points were examined along Spring river. Their first choice seems to have been at the place of Joseph Rogers, a Cherokee Indian, living near the present site of Baxter Springs. But Rogers thought he was in the midst of a "boom," and he asked them $1,000 an acre for what land they would need of his claim. They were not authorized to pay any such sum, and considering also that it was more desirable to locate the site on land not granted to Indians, they moved on further north.

Bearing on the question of the selection of a site, a copy is given of a letter from the War Department, as follows:

Fort Scott, Kansas.


Replying to your inquiry of the 6th inst. as to who selected the site of the military post at Fort Scott, Kansas, I have the honor to inform you that the site was selected in 1837 by a Board of Commissioners, charged with the duty of laying out a military road from Fort Coffey to Fort Leavenworth, consisting of Col. S. W. Kearney and Captain Nathan Boone, 1st Dragoons. Their report will be found in H. R. Doc. No. 278, 25th Congress, 2d Session, which report is too lengthy to be copied.

There was some considerable difficulty in fixing the site for the Fort Wayne garrison. The first point selected was at Rogers' place on Spring river, but was abandoned on account of the exorbitant price demanded by its owner. Several other points in the immediate neighborhood, and up the Pomme de Terre or Spring River, to the State line were examined, but decided to be unhealthy. All the several points were examined by Captain Moore, and other sites in that vicinity had been previously examined by General Taylor; and it was only after these different sites had been determined as impracticable, that the position on the Marmaton, which had been previously recommended by the Board in 1837, was finally decided upon as a site for the new post.

I am, Madam, Very Respectfully,
Your Obedient Servant,
J. C. KELTON, Act'g Ass't Adj't General."

Considerable time was now consumed, presumably in the process of red tape and in construction of -the military road from Fort Leavenworth south, so that it was not until the 26th day of May, 1842, when the garrison of Fort Wayne abandoned that post and took up their march for the North. They arrived at the new site which had been selected on the Marmaton river on the evening of May 30th, 1842, where they pitched their tents and called it Fort Scott.

These troops consisted of Captain B. D. Moore, in command, Lieutenant William Eustis, Assistant Surgeon Dr. J. Simpson, and 120 enlisted men of companies A and C 1st U. S. Dragoons.

This command was soon after ordered on to Fort Leavenworth, and were replaced here by a part of the 1 st Infantry. The officers with the infantry command were Major Graham, Captain Swords and Assistant Surgeon Dr. Mott.

Concluding the subject of the location of Fort Scott, Adjutant General L. C. Drum of the War Department, writes as follows:

"In reply to your letter of the 27th ultimo, addressed to the Secretary of War, asking certain information regarding the early settlement of Fort Scott, I have the honor to inform you that Fort Wayne, in the Cherokee Nation, was abandoned on the 26th day of May, 1842, and companies A and C, 1st Dragoons, (which had formed its garrison) under the command of Captain B. D. Moore, 1st Dragoons, three officers and 120 enlisted men, marched to and occupied the new site which had been selected on the Marmaton river, twenty miles west of Little Osage Postoffice on the 30th of May, 1842, to which they gave the name of Camp Scott, changed later to Fort Scott. The only other officers present with the command on that day were Dr. J. Simpson, Assistant Surgeon and First Lieutenant William Eustis.

I have the honor to be Very Respectfully,

Your Ob't Serv't,

L. C. Drum,

Adjutant General."

An army sutler came with the 1st Infantry named John A. Bugg, who, by virtue of his position, acted as postmaster.

On the 13th of September, 1843, Hiero T. Wilson came up from Fort Gibson, where he had been located, and went into partnership with Mr. Bugg in the sutler business. They did business together until 1849, when Mr. Wilson bought out Mr. Bugg and he went to California. Mr. Wilson then became the sutler and U.S. Postmaster.

Col. Wilson, as he was always called, was born in Kentucky on the 6th day of September, 1806. He went to Fort Gibson as sutler of that post soon after it was established, and remained there about nine years, when he came to Fort Scott, as stated, in 1843. He lived here continuously from that time to the time of his death, August 6th, 1892. He was married to Elizabeth C. Hogan, on the 28th of September, 1847. They had three children, Virginia T., Elizabeth C., and Fannie W. Virginia, the eldest daughter, now Mrs. W. R. Robinson, was the first white child born in Fort Scott.

In Col. Wilson's residence in Fort Scott of nearly fifty years, he filled a prominent place in the political, social and commercial history of this part of the country. He saw the insignificant military station, and the wild and almost unknown surrounding country, with few bona fide white inhabitants nearer than a hundred miles, pass through all the panoramic changes from extreme frontier life to that of high civilization. For many years his only associates were the few army officers of the garrison; their days were passed with few incidents or recreations, and at night they went to sleep to the monotone howls of the prairie wolf.

After the Territory was organized Col. Wilson occupied many political positions, and although he was not what may be called active in politics, he was always consulted, and had great influence in the councils of his party. He was originally a Whig, and had great admiration for Clay and Webster, but after their day he associated himself with the Democratic party, and during the war was a strong Union Democrat. During the 60's he was very active in promoting the organization of the various railway companies forming to build roads into Southern Kansas, and active in his efforts to secure their construction to Fort Scott, which town was always his pet and especial hobby. He was also actively engaged in large mercantile affairs until 1868, when he quit business. His life work was done. He passed the remaining days of his ripe old age in the peaceful calm of the home he had established so many years ago.


Sergeant John Hamilton of the Ordnance Department of the army, came with the first troops, served his term of enlistment and remained a resident of the town and country until after the war. He superintended the construction of a good portion of the military barracks, stables, etc., erected at Fort Scott in 1843 and 1844.

The military road from Fort Leavenworth was completed about 1843. The pike, or grade, like a railroad grade, was constructed across all river and creek bottoms, and can still be seen across the Marias des Cygnes bottoms south of the Trading Post, and also across the Marmaton bottom at the Osbun farm northeast of Fort Scott.


In the year 1843 preparations were made for the construction of quarters for the officers and men, and the necessary buildings for the quartermasters and commissary stores, ordnance supplies, etc. A saw mill was erected about a mile up Mill Creek to be run by water power. This mill gave the creek its name. A brick yard was made near the mill. Then a detail of men from the infantry was kept busy making brick, and sawing lumber from the walnut, oak an ash logs cut from the surrounding timber on Mill Creek and Marmaton, which was very fine. Large trees, from one to four feet in diameter were plentiful. A square called the Parade Ground, now called the Plaza, was laid off, containing about two acres of ground. It was evidently intended that the points of this square should be due north and south, and east and west, but they miscalculated by a few degrees.

Around the northeast side of the Plaza the buildings for the officer's quarters were erected. These consisted of four large double houses, 2-1/2 stories high, with frame-timbers of oak twelve inches square, walnut siding and oak floors. The doors, door frames, lintels, windows, mantel-pieces, etc., were of two inch walnut. The four blocks built for the officer's quarters are still standing, as good as ever. They were built in the uniform style of architecture which prevailed at all military posts at that time, and are very superior in construction. The most striking feature of these buildings is the broad porches extending along the entire front and also the rear of each, between the second and third floors, reached by broad flights of stairs at either end. The main roof projects and continues down over them from the attic story, and is supported by seven large doric columns fourteen feet in height. These columns were made of solid walnut lugs turned down into perfect shape and then bored through the center lengthwise to prevent checking or cracking when the columns seasoned.

On the other sides of the Plaza, were the buildings for quarters for the men, hospital, guard house, stables, etc., and in the center of the Plaza was an octagonal brick building for powder magazine. A well 90 or 100 feet deep was blasted down on the Plaza, which furnished a fair supply of water.

After all this work was completed the soldiers had but little to do, except an occasional scout, the guarding of supply trains, and their daily drill which took place sure, without fail, on all occasions and under all circumstances. The rest of the time until taps, they could play seven up, or perhaps straight poker. You may not quite understand what that extinct species of the game was. Well, they didn't draw. That was the Mississippi steam boat game you have heard so much about. It has been humed and will never, never be exhumed. But it was part of western life at that time, in the army, in the cabin on the prairie and in the "cabin" on the river.


Those Government buildings erected fifty years ago stand to-day, and will stand indefinitely, as the relics and emblems of a past era. The mind can hardly conceive the vast changes which have taken place in this country during the half-century since they were erected. At this line of latitude the western limit of the United States was the Arkansas river instead of the Pacific ocean. The boundary line of the Nation was almost exactly 150 miles west of Fort Scott. California, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas had not then been acquired. The country towards the setting sun west of the Missouri State line was called, in a general way, the "Indian Country." It was wild, desolate, silent, unknown. The people, even those living the nearest to it believed it to be a worthless barren plain, incapable of supporting a white population and fitted only for the home of Indians and wild animals. These had possession then, and it was presumed they would never be disturbed. An occasional pioneer might "low it was gitten too much crowded" in his neighborhood, and move on a little further up the creek, but the idea of a general settlement of the country had not been considered. They concluded that the limit was about reached, and that the country was fringed with a frontier that would remain longer years than they took the trouble to think about.

But war was soon to send the volunteer soldiers trailing across it, enlightening them by actual contact, and through them the people, as the to great possibilities of this region as a habitable country. The boundary lines were to be adjusted and this country, instead of being on the very outer rim, was to become the geographical center of the Nation.

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