HISTORY OF BOURBON COUNTY, KANSAS
To the Close of 1865
by T. F. Robley
Fort Scott, Kansas 1894
THE FIRST GOVERNOR
A. H. Reeder, the first Governor of Kansas Territory,
arrived at Fort Leavenworth, and assumed the executive office October 7th, 1854. Soon after, with a party of other
officials he h made a somewhat extended tour of observation through the eastern part of the Territory, and on his
return that portion was divided into "Election Districts."
The district which included Fort Scott was denominated the Sixth District, and the metes and bounds were described
"Commencing on the Missouri State Line, in Little Osage river; thence up the same to the line of the Reserve
for the New York Indians, or the nearest point thereto; thence to and by the north line of said Reserve to the
Neosho river, and up said river to and along the south branch thereof to the head; and thence by a due south line
to the southern line of the Territory; thence by the southern and eastern line of said Territory to the place of
On November 10th, Governor Reeder issued a proclamation for an election to be held in the Territory on the 29th
day of November for the election of a Delegate to Congress. Fort Scott was designated as the place for holding
the election for the Sixth District. The house of H. T. Wilson was named as the polling place and the judges appointed
were Thomas B. Arnett, H. T. Wilson and William Godfrey. J. W. Whitfield was the Pro-slavery candidate for Delegate,
R. P. Finnekin, Independent, and John A. Wakefield Free State. In this district Whitfied received the entire vote
case, 105. Whitfield resided in Missouri at this time and made no pretense of being a citizen of the Territory.
On March 8, 1855, a proclamation was issued by Gov. Reeder, ordering an election for members of the Territorial
Council and House of Representatives to be held on Friday the 30th day of March, 1855. There were to be thirteen
members of the Territorial Council and twenty-six Representatives, to constitute the "Legislative Assembly"
of the territory. The vote was to be by ballot. As there were yet no county or other municipal organizations, the
election districts were provided for in the proclamation. The Sixth District remained the same as in the election
of November 10, 1854. The place designated for holding the polls was the hospital building on the Plaza, and the
judges of election appointed were James Ray, William Painter and William Godfrey. The proclamation also provided:
"That the Sixth Election District, containing two hundred and fifty-three votes, will constitute the Fifth
Council District, and elect one member of the Council. Also, that the Sixth Election District shall be the Sixth
Representative District and elect two members."
The result of this election was as follows: Four Council Fifth District, William Barbee, 343 votes. For Representatives
Sixth District, Joseph C. Anderson, 315, S. A. Williams 313, John Hamilton 36, William Margrave 16. And the returns
being in due form and no protest filed, William Barbee for the Council and Joseph C. Anderson and S. A. Williams
for the House of Representatives, were by the Governor declared duly elected.
Nevertheless this election was grossly fraudulent, not only in this district, but in all others. It will be remembered
that the district was nearly 50 by 100 miles square. William Barbee, mentioned above, had been appointed the January
before to take the census of the district, and about March 1, thirty days before the election, filed his report
giving the number of legal voters as 253. Many of these voters would have had to travel forty and fifty miles to
the polling place. It is not reasonable to suppose that they took such a journey to vote. Most of the votes cast
came from covered wagons camped on the Marmaton bottom, "for one day only," which Judge Margrave said,
"just swarmed over from Missouri." But there was no protest in this district, and the men took their
seats in the Legislature.
Barbee had no opposition. He and Anderson and Williams were voted for by the Pro-slavery men. Hamilton and Margrave
received the feeble showing of the opposition.
William Barbee came here from Kentucky at the age of 29. He was a very fair man, and lived here several years.
Barbee street in Fort Scott was named for him.
Joseph C. Anderson was never a resident of the district from first to last. He was the author of the "Black
Laws" passed by this Legislature.
Samuel A. Williams was originally from Kentucky. He came here first in 1854, and afterwards brought his family,
about six months before election, from Polk County, Missouri, driving an ox cart, containing his family, his chickens
and two "cheers." He was no "voter." He had come to stay. He was a good man, a good citizen,
and held many important positions. He died at his home in Fort Scott, August 13, 1873.
John Hamilton was "left over" from the regular army. He lived here in the town and in the county until
after the war, as has been stated.
William Margrave was born in Missouri, February 17, 1818. He came here in the fall of 1854, and was appointed one
of the first Justices of the Peace in the Territory, and the very first one appointed in this district. His commission
bears date of December 5, 1854. He has lived here continuously ever since that time, and he is Justice of the Peace
"till yet." The Judge, in his quiet way, has always performed the duties of a good citizen, and always
stood in the highest estimation in this community. Margrave street in the city of Fort Scott was named for him.
The first Legislature convened by order of the
Governor at Pawnee, near Fort Riley, on the 2nd of July, 1855. Pawnee was 100 miles west of the Missouri State
line at Westport. Governor Reeder said he took it out there to get it out of the way of political influence and
to keep the legislators unspotted from the world. That was certainly the right idea and the right place if he could
have made them stay there, but he couldn't do it. The statesmen said it was too dry, and too far from their base
of supplies; and besides, as there were no houses in Pawnee, or in forty miles of it, they had to sleep in their
wagons, or under them; and then again they had nothing to eat but jerked buffalo and Pawnee macaroni. This latter
was a very succulent dish much sought after by the Pawnee Indians. It was made from the small entrails of antelope
and fish-worms. The origin of this war-like tribe arose from this dish. Most anybody would. The statesmen arose
from it. Said they liked the legislature business all right enough but this wasn't an adjourned session of the
Diet of Worms; they were not elected on that ticket. Said they didn't know what other Kansas legislatures might
do - no man in his right mind could tell, but as for their part they could not entertain such a diet, anyway, without
something to go with it, and they didn't even have Bourbon County corn bread. Besides, they wanted to be nearer
home where they could hear the honest coon-dog's deep mouthed bay. So next morning they hitched up and drove down
to Shawnee Mission, near Wesport. That was as near home as they could get without going "plum over" into
Missouri. Reeder could do nothing but set around and scratch his head and pawnee. He finally followed them down
to Shawnee Mission. He told them they could not legally move, and could pass no valid laws if they did. They told
him to be quiet or they would pass him down - the Missouri river on a raft. That made him madder than ever and
he called them a lot of Border Ruffians. Then Stringfellow smote him hip and thigh, and they wrote a letter unto
the king, saying what a bad man this Reeder was, and the king dismissedhim with contumely. But the name give to
them by Governor Reeder of Border Ruffian stuck to those fellows, and their kind, even to the third generation.
Ainsi soit il.
The Legislature then went to work to pass laws
for Kansas. It was now the 16th of July. By the 1st of September they had finished their labors which resulted
in the preparation of an immense code of "laws" which have always been called and known as the "Bogus
Statue of 1855." This Statute was called bogus principally because many of the members were not residents
of the Territory and they were themselves bogus; the elections were fraudulent in nearly every case, consequently
their office was bogus. The sessions were held at Shawnee Mission against the will, order and veto of the Governor
who had the only legal right to decide that point, as he claimed, consequently the whole business really had no
legal status or right to be. But it was the prologue of the opening drama. The Pro-slavery men here showed their
hand and the true spirit and intent of their party. They at once became blustering, arrogant, defiant and overbearing,
and continually sought to pick quarrels with, and embroil every man into difficulties who opposed them. The few
scattering and unorganized Free State men, in contemplation of such acts and such men, stood with raised and outstretched
hands as if warding off a blow.
The Legislature did more by its drastic, ill-tempered
and senseless legislation to destroy the prospect of making Kansas a slave State than did all the Emigrant Aid
Societies, John Brown and other Northern fanatics put together. As a sample of their legislation and to show the
spirit which controlled the Pro-slavery side on the threshold of the struggle, the following section of their laws
"Sec. 12. If any persons, by speaking or by writing, assert or maintain that persons have not the right to
hold slaves in the Territory, or shall introduce into Kansas, print, publish, write, circulate, or cause to be
introduced into the Territory, any book, paper, magazine, pamphlet or circular containing any denial of the rights
of persons to hold slaves in this Territory, such person shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and punished by imprisonment
at hard labor for a term not less than two years."
This made it a penitentiary offense for a person to take a Free-State paper, or to argue the question with a neighbor,
even at his own fireside. The present generation cannot conceive that a body of educated and intelligent American
men could have seriously placed such a law, and a hundred of similar tenor and import on the statute books of a
State. But the indescribable fanaticism on the question of human slavery had made them, as a people, just that
On the other hand the Northern people, as a people, said to the South exactly this: We have made a constant, consistent
and honest effort to restrict slavery to its present limits, and although the sacred compact which has stood for
a third of a century is broken down, let us peacefully abide the provisions of the squatter sovereign principle.
And we now say to you Southern people, and you may be fully assured that, although we shall not desist from those
open, honest efforts, which we have constantly made for restriction and which efforts will be vigorously continued
to make Kansas a Free State, we shall neither openly or secretly resort to any measures which can tend to disturb
the tranquility of the slave States, or thereby to affect the prosperity of the Nation. And thus at the commencement
of that most momentous era was the virgin Territory of Kansas handed over to those two contending sections who
had 'come to ope the purple testament of bleeding war."
It looked dark for the side of Freedom. Its enemies controlled the Administration; they controlled all the branches
of the Territorial Government and they controlled the front door through which emigration must enter.
GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS SOLD
The buildings erected and the improvements made
by the Government at Fort Scott were estimated to have cost $200,000. They were sold at public auction on the 16th
day of may, 1855, by Major Howe, Assistant Quartermaster of the U. S. Army, for less than $5,000 for the whole
business. The officers quarters - the four principal blocks of buildings, were disposed of as follows: A. Hornbeck
bought the first block on the west corner of the Plaza for $500. H. T. Wilson the next for $300, E. Greenwood the
next for $505, and J. Mitchell bought the next building on the east for $450. The other buildings were sold to
different parties for nominal sums. Of course, this not being a Government Reservation, the title to the land on
which these buildings stood did not pass by this transaction, and it was so understood by the purchasers. But they
concluded to "let the hide go with the tallow," and take their chances of acquiring title either from
the Government as pre-emptors or, that some time in the future when the town shall have been surveyed and platted,
and a legally incorporated town company organized, they could obtain deeds. This plan was agreed on and was afterwards
Pages 43 - 53
BOURBON COUNTY ORGANIZED
The County of Bourbon was organized, together with
thirty-two other counties by the act of the Bogus Legislature contained in chapter 30, of the Bogus Statutes. This
Act or Chapter of that code was acted on and passed by the Legislature at the session held at Shawnee Mission,
early in August 1855, to take effect from and after the date of passage, although the statutes were not compiled
or completed and published until, probably, October 25th of that year.
In Section 4 of said Chapter 30, the boundary lines of Bourbon County were fixed and described as follows:
"Beginning at the southeast corner of Linn County; thence south thirty miles; thence west twenty-four miles,
thence north thirty miles; thence east twenty-four miles to the place of beginning."
These descriptions are very nearly correct, except that the first sectional line is not quite parallel with the
Missouri Sate line, and the border sections along that line are fractional, and there is a jog in the range line
on the west side of the county.
The Legislature at the request of William Barbee and S. A. Williams, who were both originally from old Kentucky,
named this county "Bourbon" - especial brand not given. They thought, like the old boys used to say:
"Some is better than others, but it's all good." So they gave it a good send off by giving it a good
McGee county was named for old Milt McGee who was then a member of the Legislature, "from Westport, Missouri."
Everybody knew old Milt way up to the 60's.
Anderson county was named for one of our first Representatives, Joseph C. Anderson.
Wilson county was named for Col. H. T. Wilson of Fort Scott.
Bourbon County retained its original territory until by act of the Legislature, approved February 13, 1867, entitled,
"An Act to define the boundaries of Bourbon, Crawford and Cherokee counties," the boundaries of Bourbon
County were defined and described as follows:
"Sec. I. That the boundary of Bourbon County shall commence at the southeast corner of the county of Linn;
thence run south, on the east line of the State of Kansas to the southeast corner of section (24) twenty-four,
township (27) twenty-seven, range (25), twenty-five, thence west to the southwest corner of section (23) twenty-three,
township (27) twenty-seven, range (21) twenty-one; thence north to the southwest corner of Linn county; thence
east to the place of beginning."
By this act the county was cut down to about twenty five miles square.
In the Government survey of this State, the base line, or beginning line for townships of six miles each was made
the north line of the State, and townships were numbered from number one on down southward; and the range lines,
also six miles apart, were numbered east and west from the sixth principal meridian, or guide meridian, which is
near the city of Wichita.
Bourbon County contains 407,680 acres of land. The contour of the face of the country is high, rolling prairie,
with a general slope from west to east, the general direction of all the larger streams being from west to east,
in common with the entire State. The west line of the State has an altitude of between 2,000 and 3,000 feet. At
the sixth principal meridian the altitude is about 1,000 feet. At the east line of Bourbon County it is 650 feet.
The county is very well watered. The more considerable streams being the Osage river on the north and through the
northern tier of townships, Mill creek and Marmaton river through the central portion and Pawnee and Drywood creeks
in the southern part. There is the usual amount of bottom land along these streams, which are, of course, very
rich, but these lands are not especially desirable over those of the high prairie for farming purposes, for the
reason that they are colder and harder to get into to work during a wet spring and do not stand a dry time later
in the season much better than the high prairie, besides the high lands are, as far as the soil is concerned, rich
enough except on some quarter sections scattered throughout the county on which the stone is too near the surface.
The soil of the prairie lands is, generally speaking, of a limestone formation and richer of itself than a sandstone
formation. Under the black soil is about eighteen inches of a dark brown sub-soil, then a stratum of three to eight
feet of yellow clay, then two to four feet of shale or slate stone. Under that in a good portion of the county
is a layer of hard bituminous coal from eight to twenty inches. This is especially true of the east half of the
county. Under all this is a solid stratum of pure limestone from four to six feet in thickness, then comes a stratum
of from sixteen to thirty feet of soapstone. Under that, on a limestone bedrock, water is generally obtained. These
strata vary, however - and in fact the entire geological formation changes in certain sections of the country.
About the central part of the county there are sections which are pure sandstone formation, which contains an almost
inexhaustible supply of the very best quality of sandstone flagging. Limestone for the manufacture of lime, and
for building stone, is easily obtained in any part of the county. In Fort Scott, and the neighborhood, is found
extensive quarries of cement rock, which produce the best grade of hydraulic cement.
THE FIRST COUNTY OFFICERS
The Secretary of the Territory and Acting Governor
Daniel Woodson appointed a part of the first officers of Bourbon county, after its organization, on the 31st day
of August, 1855, as follows: Samual A. Williams, Probate Judge, H. T. Wilson and Charles B. Wingfield County Commissioners,
and B. F. Hill, Sheriff. And on the 22nd of September, Governor Wilson Shannon appointed J. J. Farley clerk of
the Board of County Commissioners or County Clerk as we call it now, and John F. Cottrell, Constable and Thomas
Watkins Justice of the Peace for Bourbon County.
On the 9th of November commissions were issued to Wiley Patterson, Cowan Mitchell, Henry Miller and D. Guthrie,
as Justices of the Peace. J. J. Farley, County Clerk, was appointed Register of Deeds.
Fort Scott was about this time designated as the County Seat.
In November 1855, the Board of County Commissioners met and divided the county into townships as follows: Little
Osage, Timberhill, Russell Scott, and Drywood. The townships as they now exist are, Osage, Freedom, Timberhill
and Franklin on the north, Scott, Marmaton, Mill Creek and Marion through the center, and Drywood, Pawnee and Walnut
on the south.
About the close of the year 1855, B. F. Thompson and Branham Hill were appointed Justices of the Peace, Alexander
Howard and William Moffatt, constables and H. R. Kelso, coroner, in and for Bourbon County.
THE NEUTRAL LANDS IN BOURBON COUNTY
The county of McGee, organized at the same time
as Bourbon, included what is now Crawford and Cherokee counties, and was all Cherokee Neutral Land. A six mile
strip off the south side of Bourbon county, between townships 26 and 27, and between ranges 21 and 25, was also
in the Cherokee Neutral land. This strip is more exactly described as follows:
The south 1/3 of Township 26, of Ranges 22, 23, 24, 25. The east part of south ½ Township 26 of Range 21.
The north 2/3 of Township 27 of Ranges 22, 23, 24, 25. The east part of 2/3 of Township 27 Range 21.
As will be seen hereinafter, a good part of these lands were squatted on by settlers in direct violation of treaty
stipulations with the Cherokee Indians. In many cases, however, the squatters were innocent of any intention to
FORT SCOTT INCORPORATED AS A TOWN
Fort Scott was incorporated as a town by Chapter
40 of the Bogus Statues, which chapter was acted on and passed by the Legislature on the 30th of August, 1855.
Section I of that chapter provides that the land set forth and defined in the plat of said town shall be incorporated
into a town by the name of Fort Scott.
Section 4, provides that the "first Board of Trustees of the town of Fort Scott shall consist of H. T. Wilson,
A. Hornbeck, Thomas Dodge, R. G. Roberts, F. Demint and Thomas B. Arnett."
Section 8 provides that the trustees shall have power to collect taxes, regulate dramshops, to restrain and prevent
the meeting of slaves, etc.
But little is now known about some of the trustees. A. Hornbeck was a merchant. He came in from Missouri, and went
back there after two or three years' residence here. Dodge was an Indian trader and had been all his life. Thomas
B. Arnett opened and kept the first hotel ever in Bourbon county. It was in the house on the west corner of the
Plaza, known afterwards as the Fort Scott of Free State Hotel. He fell dead on Sunday, sometime afterwards, while
attending religious services in the Government Hospital building, probably because, as town trustee, he had not
been strict enough in "regulating dramshops."
On the 1st of October 1855, an election was held
under provisions of the Legislature, for Delegate to Congress. J. W. Whitfield was again the Pro-slavery candidate,
and received 242 votes in this county.
There was no Free State candidate, and the Free State men took no part in this election.
A convention had been called at Topeka on the 19th day of September, to take measures to form a State Constitution.
An election was held for Delegates to the Topeka Constitutional Convention, on the 9th of October. A H. Reeder
was also voted for by the Free State men for Delegate to Congress. The town of Fort Scott cast 27 votes. There
appears to be no record of a county vote.
The Convention met at Topeka on the 23d day of October. A Free State Constitution was framed and an election for
its adoption held on the 15th day of December. Again there is no record from Bourbon County. The fact of the matter
is, there were but few Free State men in this county at that time. There were not enough of them to form anything
like an organization, or even a circulating chain of intelligence among themselves. Each one was isolated from
his kind and lived like a rabbit in a burrough. He kept his eyes and ears open, but he kept his mouth shut. There
were less than 300 legal votes in the entire county and not more than thirty of these were Free State men. The
first immigration into this county was largely from the Southern States. The territory lay adjacent to a slave
State, and it was natural that it should assimilate with the peculiar institution of the South. Further north,
where the parties were more nearly equal in number, the Free State men went to the polls, they protected, however
vainly, against the fraudulent elections; they took concerted action for self-defense. Here they could do neither.
As yet they were in too great a minority. They could only sit down and wait; wait to see how far and to what extent
the Northern people would go to meet the open defiance of the maddened and blinded partisans of ultra pro-slaveryism;
wait for immigration to reach down this far and give them help. It seemed now to them like a losing contest. The
migratory hordes of the Pro-slavery party had, under the faint pretense of "election," taken possession
of the Territory, driven out the first Governor - an able, fair and just man - and published to the world their
statute of "laws," which hung over the Territory for five years like the web of a mammoth spider.
Wilson Shannon of Ohio, was appointed to succeed
Governor Reeder. He arrived at Shawnee Mission and assumed the duties of his office on the 7th of September, 1855,
a few days after the adjournment of the Bogus Legislature.
Governor Shannon had nothing to do with the election of March 30th, 1855, and was, of course, in no way responsible
for the action of either faction; and although surrounded exclusively by Pro-slvary men, bravely endeavored during
his short administration to do his duty as he saw it.
POLITICAL ATMOSPHERE OF BOURBON COUNTY
The situation of Bourbon county during the years
1855, 1856 and 1857 was peculiar. It was different from that of any other county or portion of the Territory. The
county was away down in the southeast, isolated and as yet out of the line and track of immigration, and as yet
out of the way of the partisan troubles which held full sway in the country further north. There were some men
- their number could be counted on your fingers - drifted in during these years, who hung around here more or less
who were of the very worst class; border ruffians themselves and leaders above all others of that ultra, uncompromising
Pro-slavery element whose politics was simply extermination - extermination of Free State sentiment - extermination
of Free State men, if that were necessary. These were men like Dr. Hamilton, Captain G. A. Hamilton, Alvin Hamilton,
W. B. Brockett, G. W. Jones, G. W. Clark, E. Greenwood, Sheriff Ben Hill and others. But few of these made any
pretense to citizenship, but made Fort Scott one of their many stopping places or headquarters. Their followers
- their "men" - were of that class they, themselves, called "poor white trash." They were never
able to own a slave and never expected to be. They were that grade of men who saw everything through the diseased
perceptions of an incomplete nature and a smothered intelligence. The men from the South who came here as bona
fide settlers to make homes for themselves and families were of a different grade. They were Pro-slavery, and desired
as a political question, that Kansas should come into the Union as a slave State. They were thoroughly imbued with
the principles of Squatter Sovereignty, but had no more idea or design of a criminal crusade in order to accomplish
their political ends than did Stephen A. Douglas himself. They staid here law abiding men during the Union war,
and lived and died among us under the flag of Clay and Benton either the one or the other of whom had been their
household god since the days of their youth.
As for the Northern men, a few of whom were now finding their way into this county, they also, were in some sense
different from their brethren further north. They came without "aid" or other influence, except the desire
to build up a home. They came very generally from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. They were Free State
men and finally voted for a Free-State Constitution. But they were not anti-slavery in the sense of being Abolitionists.
They did not want slavery; they did not want free negroes; they simply did not want any "nigger" at all.
Many of them were Democrats; many were Republicans; but they had no desire to interfere with the "peculiar
institution" of the South further than to keep it out of Kansas. They came here to make Kansas a State and
to make it free.
It is not within the scope and design of this work to detail the historical incidents and the public acts of historical
men or notorious characters outside of Bourbon county, except insofar as they concern or affect, directly or indirectly
our own local history. So far, an attempt has been made to keep in touch with the prominent men of those times,
the animus of political parties and the social bias of the contending forces.
It may be possible that the accurate and complete history of our State can only be thus prepared, block by block
and the checquered and mosaic tablet be handed down to the future as the "History of Kansas."
Pages 54 - 60
TONE OF THE PRO-SLAVERY PAPERS
The year 1856 opened in the northeastern part of
the Territory and along the Kaw valley, in turmoil, violence and murder. Armed fractions were almost daily coming
into the conflict. The Free State men were being armed and drilled for defense. The Pro-slavery men were being
reinforced from South Carolina, Alabama and the entire South for the openly declared purpose of overawing the Free
State men by violence and murder.
One sample of the tone of their newspapers at that time is here given. The Kickapoo Pioneer, in speaking of Free
State immigrants, said:
"It is this class of men that have congregated at Lawrence, and it is this class of men that Kansas must get
rid of. And we know of no better method than to meet in Kansas and kill off this God-forsaken class of humanity
as soon as they place their feet upon our soil."
Bourbon County had as yet but little of this disorder and violence. But the disturbing elements were to come in
very soon, and peace bid farewell for many years.
The first political move of the year 1856 was the
election of officers under the Topeka Constitution, which took place, January 15. Charles Robinson was the leading
candidate for Governor and M. W. Delahay for Congress. W. R. Griffith of Bourbon county was voted for as State
Auditor, but received less votes than G. A. Cutler for that office. Griffith was also a member of this Constitutional
The Topeka Constitution was not recognized by Congress. The Legislature elected under it never had any pratical
existence, nor was it expected to have, or probably intended to have. The conventions of August 14 and September
15, the elections of October 9, December 15 and January 15, the Constitutional Convention and the Topeka Constitution,
were intended by the Free State leaders to serve - like toys given to impatient children - to occupy the minds
of our Free State men; to solidify the growing "Anti Pro-slavery" elements of all shades in the North
and by publishing to the world their platforms, resolutions and constitutions, to furnish educating exponents of
the principles, policy and design of the Free-State party.
As was expected, some of the ultra Abolitionists were dissatisfied. The word "white" was not eliminated
from the new Constitution; its tone was for peaceful solution, instead of for the aggravation of conflict as they
desired. They kicked over the traces, but they were simply "cut out" and driven away.
The Free-State leaders at this time - among them Charles Robinson, A. H. Reeder, M. J. Parrott, Joel K. Goodin,
M. W. Delahay - were strong men. The Convention and the Legislature elected under it were composed of good and
true men. They raised here the first signal light of Freedom, against which were already breaking the black, seething
waves of disunion.
The first invasion into Bourbon County by the Pro-slavery
men occurred in the spring of 1856. A party of about thirty South Carolinians headed by G. W. Jones, came in and
stopped temporarily in Fort Scott. Under pretense of looking for homes, these men visited most of the settlers
in the county, ascertained where they were from and the politics, what property they had, and their means of defense,
and made a complete list of all the Free-State men. Then, later in the season, about July, the Free-State men were
again visited, and were told they must leave the Territory. A system of espionage, intimidation and arrest was
commenced. Their stock was driven off; their cabins fired into in the dead of night and they were often taken under
pretended arrest to Fort Scott, where they would be advised that it was a much healthier country further north
for their class. The object was to so harass and intimidate them that they would leave their claims and such property
as could not be easily moved, and get out of the Territory, which the Pro-slavery people had decided was their
own by right, not of discovery, but "non-intervention," and "Squatter Sovereignty." The matter
was actually presented to the masses of the South in the light that, as the restrictive compromise law had been
wiped out, this was slave territory; Free-State men were interlopers and had no more rights here than they had
in South Carolina. A Free-State man would not be allowed to live in South Carolina; why should he be here?
Anyway, their plans worked well. The Free-State men were not strong enough then for resistance or defense, and
most of them left. This was in execution of the concerted plans of Major Buford and his lieutenant, G. W. Jones,
who had arrived on the 7th of April at Westport, Missouri, with a large body of armed men, some three hundred in
number from Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Buford was a kind of brigadier general in the army of invasion,
and had charge of the border, with the instructions, among others, to search all steamboats coming up the Missouri
river, for Free-State passengers and all emigrant wagons coming from the East and North.
TEXAS RANGERS - EXPEDITION TO MIDDLE CREEK
Late in the summer of this year a squad of fellows
came into Bourbon County from the south, who called themselves "Texas Rangers." They were all well armed
and mounted and wore spurs as big as a tin plate. Their saddles were of the regulation Texas pattern, with immense
saddle blankets, with the "Lone Star" worked in the corner.
Altogether, they were a very "fierce and warlike people," and wanted to go right into the business immediately.
So, after laying around town two or three days whetting up their bowie knives and running bullets they got some
of the G. W. Jones' South Carolinians, added a few of the fellows who lived in Fort Scott, and away they went,
headed for Osawatomie, to rout out John Brown. The company was under command of Wm. Barnes, G. W. Jones and Jesse
Davis. They got up as far as Middle Creek in Linn County where, about August 25th they were met by Captains Shore
and Anderson with a company of Free State men of about the same number. After a lively skirmish, in which three
or four volleys were exchanged they let go and skedaddled back to Fort Scott, pushing on their bridle-reins and
with saddle-blankets flying. They had such big stories to tell about being closely pursued by 2,000 yankees, who
would soon be on them to burn and murder, that everybody in town, men, women and children, dogs and niggers, took
to the woods and laid out all night. It is said that the Texas Rangers never stopped till they got back to Red
River. Geo. W. Jones buried himself in the wilds of Buck Run.
One of the recruits from Fort Scott on this expedition was a man named Kline, who had just started a newspaper
which he called the "Southern Kansan." He had issued only two numbers of it when he felt a call to help
"advance the banner of the holy crusade." He laid down the "shooting stick" to take up the
shooting iron. But it was an unlucky exchange, for, at the first fire of "leads," the "devil"
fired him into the "hell-box," and he remained in "pi" forever.
This was the only report in the "remark" column of their muster roll.
The Legislature elected under the Topeka Constitution
met first on the 4th of March and adjourned to meet at Topeka on the 4th of July 1856. At that date, they assembled
and attempted to open a session but they were met by Col. Sumner of the regular army, who ordered them to disperse.
SHANNON RESIGNS - GEARY APPOINTED
Governor Wilson Shannon who had now been in office
several months, became distasteful to the Administration and the Pro-slavery party, and retired from office on
the 21st of August 1856.
Secretary Woodson an implement of the Pro-slavery people, became acting Governor until John W. Geary of Pennsylvania,
was appointed, and assumed the office in September following.
TERRITORIAL LEGISLATORS FOR BOURBON COUNTY
On October 6th, 1856, an election was held for
members of the second Territorial Legislature, which was to meet the following January. In this county there were
to be two members elected. There were three candidates in the field, who received votes as follows: B. Brantly,
176 votes; W. W. Spratt, 127 votes, R. G. Roberts, 60 votes. Brantley and Spratt were declared elected.
These men were Pro-slavery. The Free-state men had nearly all been driven out, as has been stated, and what few
were left had neither disposition or opportunity to vote. The Pro-slavery people also voted at this election for
J. W. Whitfield for Delegate to Congress, and voted for calling a Constitutional Convention.
The closing hour of 1856 was the darkest hour for freedom in Kansas. Its closing day marked the first year of the
preliminary struggle of the civil war. The lines were being drawn and public sentiment solidified throughout the
Nation by the co-efficients of intolerance, prejudice and hate.