To the Close of 1865
by T. F. Robley
Fort Scott, Kansas 1894
Pages 61 - 64
BOURBON COUNTY OFFICALS
The county officers at the beginning of 1857 remained about as they had been in 1856. A Hornbeck was County Treasurer. The same Board of County Commissioners and B. F. Hill was still Sheriff. The full representation in the Legislature was: Blake Little in the Council, W. W. Spratt and B. Brantley in the House. Blake Little had been elected to succeed William Barbee, who died sometime before. Mr. Little was quite an old man and always regarded as a good citizen. He was Pro-slavery in politics. His son John H. and daughter Mary were living at Fort Scott with him. He here in 1859 and went to Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
The second session of the Territorial Legislature
was convened at Lecompton on the 12th of January. Among the laws passed was an act incorporating the town of Sprattsville
in Bourbon County, an act establishing a State road from Barnesville to Cofachique. Sprattsville was near where
Dayton now is. It never advanced in "growth and population" further than the survey stakes for corner
lots. It perished. It was located by W. W. Spratt, who was that year in the Legislature.
Mapleton was first located in May, 1857. The Town
Company were J. C. Burnett, E. P. Higby, Mr. Morton, B. B. Newton, S. W. Cheever and D. Scott. This Company soon
afterwards abandoned the town project and was dissolved.
Rayville, of which considerable will be said hereafter, was located by the two Ray brothers. It was on the Osage, about halfway between the points now known as Ft. Lincoln and Mapleton. Rayville never became a great manufacturing center, either; but they manufactured some Bourbon County history there. It had at one time a store and a postoffice. But it finally perished, also, and was laid "under the sod and the dew" by the side of Sprattsville. It was too near Mapleton.
MEANS OF COMMUNICATION
The means the people of Bourbon County then had
for mail facilities and communication with the outside world were decidedly limited. They had a stage line established
between Fort Scott and Jefferson Co., Mo., and the stage, an old bob-tailed "jerky," such as is now to
be seen only in "Wild West Shows," made the trip once a week; that is, when the creeks were not up and
there was no other preventing providence. This line brought in the Eastern mail, and its arrival and departure
were important events. Col. Arnett was the local agent, and he conducted the business with characteristic flourish.
Three times a week they had a horseback mail from Westpoint, Montevalo and Sarcoxie, Mo., Baxter Springs, Osage
Mission and Cofachique. These radiating lines indicated the importance already attached to Fort Scott as distributing
point. All freight came on ox-wagons from Kansas City, Mo., down the old military road.
The Territorial Legislature in February, 1857,
passed an act dividing the Territory into three judicial districts. The first step in the Lecompton Constitution
movement was taken February 19th by the Legislature passing an act providing for the election of delegates to a
convention to frame a State Constitution. The act provided for a census to be taken, on the basis of which the
Governor was to apportion among the precincts the sixty delegates to the Convention. The delegates were to be elected
on the second Monday in June, which was the 15th, and were to meet at Lecompton on the first Monday in September.
Governor Geary vetoed the bills, but the Legislature passed it over the veto, by a nearly unanimous vote.
SLAVES IN BOURBON COUNTY
At this time there were in Fort Scott and Bourbon
County about thirty negro slaves, owned by various families from the slave States. They were legally held as such
under the Dred Scott decision. Kansas was slave Territory.
GOV. GEARY RESIGNS - GOV. WALKER APPOINTED
Early in March 1857, Governor Geary sent his resignation
in a letter to St. Louis, the nearest telegraph station to be telegraphed from there to Washington. He followed
it himself soon after and left the Territory somewhat hastily.
Bourbon County had now began to attract more attention
and become better known to the people of the East and North. The few settlers who had found their way down here
"writ back." While their letters did not bear any very encouraging word about the state of political
affairs or the peaceful condition of the people, they did tell of a beautiful country, genial skies, a spring that
opened in March instead of May, and an opportunity for getting land enough so that "John" and "Mary"
could both have a farm when they "come of age."
FORT SCOTT TOWN COMPANY
About the 1st of June 1857, a party arrived at
Fort Scott which had been made up at Lawrence, Kansas, consisting of Norman Eddy of Indiana, Geo. A. Crawford of
Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, D. H. Weir of Indiana, and E. W. Holbrook of Michigan. Their purpose in coming to Fort
Scott was principally to organize a town company. The town had been incorporated by act of the Legislature of 1855,
as it has been stated. A "Town Company" had already done some wind work and formed a "curbstone"
organization, consisting of C. B. Wingfield, G. W. Jones, S. A. Williams and others. The Wingfield Company, as
it was called, had no title to any land described in the act of the Legislature incorporating the "Town of
Fort Scott," nor did anybody else. Claims had been filed on the different parts of sections by different parties
and the Wingfield company designed to acquire title to the townsite under the pre-emption laws.
UNITED STATES OFFICERS
The United States Land Office for this District
was located at Fort Scott in the Spring of 1857. Epaphroditus ransom was appointed Receiver, and G. W. Clark, under
the name of Doak, was appointed Register.
About the first of August, 1857, several more people
arrived who were afterwards active and prominent citizens.
Joseph Ray came from Michigan. He was another of the young men who came here to seek his fortune, only he didn't want any fortune except to be able to give to anybody and everybody in need. That was Joe. He was the life of any party or company, and had a smile and a joke for every one on every occasion. There is no man in the long list of the early settlers who have passed away whose memory is kept greener than is his.
William Gallaher arrived on the 1st of August from Illinois, originally from Pennsylvania. He was also quite a young man. He was, however, more lucky than some of the other boys, for he got a splendid situation soon after his arrival. He was appointed postmaster the third one for Fort Scott which position paid him over twenty-four hundred-cents a year. But he went into the army and lost it all.
Charles Dimon came from New York. Charley was a good fellow, but he had one bad habit, that was corns on his feet.
Ed. A. Smith, Burns Gordon, Albert H. Campbell and A. R. Allison were also boys of the class of ' 57. They all graduated with honor in that school the like of which will never again be opened. School is out, and the teacher is dead.
THE FREE STATE HOTEL
The boys who came in this year and the men who had no families with them generally boarded at the Fort Scott Hotel, or the "Free State Hotel," as it was better known. It was under the management of Charley Dimon, with Ben McDonald and Charley Bull, and most any of the other boys, as clerks. Will Gallaher kept his postoffice there. This hotel was the building on the West corner of the Plaza, built by the Government for officers quarters, and now owned and occupied by Hon. William Margrave. It was first opened as a hotel by Col. Arnett soon after the post was abandoned in 1854, and was then the first and only hotel in the county. In the Spring of 1857, it was run by the Casey Bros. Later Charley Dimon took charge of it, and continued in it until January, 1859.
This house is a historical landmark. In 1857 it acquired the name of "The Free State Hotel," which it retained for many years. If its walls could talk it could beat this history all to pieces.
It was now the beginning of autumn. The spring season had opened favorably for the farmers, and T wherever they had been permitted to stay at home fll and work, the prospect was good for abundant of crops. Everything seemed to be reasonably quiet in this part of the Territory, although it was a forced quiet, and there was much feeling of unrest and apprehension among the people.
The political talk was about the approaching Pro-slavery convention to frame a State Constitution, which was to be held at Lecompton.
As has been noted, the Legislature had passed an
act providing for the election of delegates to this convention, on the 15th of June, 1857. The Free State men had,
with something like concert of action all over the Territory, let the election of these delegates go by default.
They felt that there was no chance for an expression of Free State opinions, and no guarantee that it would be
anything but a repetition of the villainous frauds and outrages which had heretofore taken place under the name
of " election." The Free State men, however, began to realize that immigration had in reality now placed
their party in the majority. Their confidence and courage were strengthened, and hope renewed. But the delegates
were already elected.
The Convention met at Lecompton on the 7th of September, 1857. Blake Little and H. T. Wilson were the delegates chosen from this District. Little was chosen President pro tem of the Convention.
After several adjournments the Convention finally completed their work on the 3rd of November, guarded by 200 U. S. troops. It was provided that the election on the adoption of this Constitution should be held on the 21st of December; that the question should be divided and that the ticket should read : "For the Constitution and Slavery,*' and "For the Constitution without Slavery."
The time for the regular meeting of the Territorial Legislature was January 4, 1858, but Acting Governor Stanton called an extra session which met on the 7th day of December, 1857, and passed an act providing for a vote on the entire constitution a straight proposition for or against-to be held January 4, 1858, and providing more thoroughly against fraud.
The elections were quite numerous this fall and winter, and somewhat confusing unless attended to in their regular order.
THE ELECTION OF OCTOBER 5, 1857
The election for members of the Territorial Legisla-ture and for Delegate to Congress was held on the 5th of October.
E. Ransom, of Fort Scott, ran against Mark Parrott, the Free State candidate for delegate.
At this election there were again some indications of fraud, especially at the Oxford and Kickapoo precincts, and in McGee county. McGee county, for instance, "cast" 1202 Pro-slavery votes against 24 votes for the Free State ticket Fraud was patent to every body. There were not a hundred legal voters in the county, all told. The original returns from McGee county were seen by one or more of our Fort Scott men before they were doctored and sent on to Lecompton. The lists contained a total of exactly eighty-three names.
At this election Bourbon County voted as follows: Dry wood precinct, Ransom 9, Parrott 3; Russell precinct, Ransom 12, Parrott 2; Fort Scott precinct, Ransom 99, Parrott 24; Sprattsville precinct, Ransom 33, Parrott 47; Osage precinct, Ransom 22, Parrott 20. Total, Ransom 175, Parrott 96.
The Governor issued a proclamation on the 22d of October, rejecting the returns of the election precincts where the most glaring frauds had occurred. This reduced the total vote for Ransom to 3,799, as against 7,888 for Parrott, and the certificate of election was issued to Parrott, and he took his seat in Congress the next December.
George A. Crawford was the Democratic candidate for Territorial Council from this District, which consisted of Bourbon and seventeen other counties, McGee among them. Mr. Crawford went to Lecompton at once, and in a conference with Governor Walker and Secretary Stanton he advised the throwing out of the fraudulent votes, although such action defeated his own election.
The wave of Free State immigration which had rolled in over the northern part of the Territory now began to reach down into Southern Kansas, and to be felt in Bourbon County to a greater extent than ever before. And the troubles which had prevailed in the North for so long a time were to be also transferred to the Southeastern border.
The Free State men who had been driven out in the summer and fall of 1856, now began to return many of them coming back armed and as they found that their strength had been materially increased by the considerable number of new settlers coming into the county they had confidence that by organization they could now maintain themselves and recover their claims and much of their other property. Among their leaders were J. C. Burnett, Samuel Stevenson, Captain Bain and Josiah Stewart
Notice was served on those who had wrongfully taken
possession of cabins and claims that they must leave. Many did so at once, but others relying on aid and assistance
from the "Blue Lodges" of organized Pro-slavery men which existed in Fort Scott and along the border,
refused to vacate.
The opposing forces, or factions, came near a collision several times after that. Things looked ugly. But for some reason the Pro-slavery men declined to open the ball, and the Free State policy was to await an attack.
Finally, a resort was had to the forms of "law." A term of the U. S. District Court was commenced on the 19th of October, 1857. It was held in the south room of the land office building, Judge Joseph Williams presiding, S. A. Williams, Clerk, and J. H. Little, Deputy U. S. Marshal. This court was in full sympathy and control of the Pro-slavery party. Claimants throughout the District took their cases before this court, and Judge Williams in most of the "claim cases'' decided against the Free State man.
Free State men were often arrested on some trumped-up charge and were held for excessive bail or refused bail altogether. These arbitrary proceedings were very aggravating to them and they instituted a "court" of their own.
What they called a "Squatter's Court" was organ-ized for the District. A full complement of officers, Judge, Clerk, Sheriff, etc., was appointed. The first "court" was held at what was called "Bain's Fort," a large log house on the Osage river, a little northwest of the present town of Fulton. It was built by old John Brown and Captain Bain. Dr. Rufus Gilpatrick, of Anderson county, was Judge, and Henry Kilbourn, Sheriff. Here they tried causes in due form of law, and meted out justice according to their best light.
The only reasonable ground for uexceptionsn to be taken to the proceedings was, perhaps, that as there was no family Bible handy the witnesses were sworn on "Dr. Gunn's Family Physician." But as this was a court from which there was no appeal, exceptions, though often taken, were rarely noted.
The existence of this rival court was not to be toler-ated by Judge Williams and his friends, and on the 12th day of December, 1857, he ordered Deputy Marshal Little to organize a posse and dissolve it. Little went up there with a few men but the court failed to dissolve. On the 16th he again advanced on the works with a posse of about fifty men. When near the fort he was met by a party with a flag of truce headed by D. B. Jackman. They held a parley, and were finally informed by Little that if they did not surrender at once he would fire on them. The truce party warned Little that if he advanced it would be at his peril. They then returned to the fort, and Little advanced to the attack and opened fire. Several volleys were exchanged. The attack was repulsed. Some of Little's men and horses were slightly wounded. He then returned to Fort Scott. On the next day he increased his force to 100 men and returned again to the attack, but he found, on arriving at the fort, that the garrison had escaped during the night, and the court "adjourned."
One of the posse was named James Rhoades, who started
back to Marmaton, where he had been employed in Ed. Jones' saw-mill. On the road he met a Mr. Weaver, a Free State
man, and they got into a quarrel. Weaver was unarmed. Rhoades carried a loaded gun and was himself well loaded
with that same old Missouri whiskey. In the quarrel he attempted to shoot Weaver, but Weaver got the gun away from
him and killed him with it.
A PROTECTIVE SOCIETY
Geo. H. B. Hopkins settled on the Osage in September, 1856. He lived neighbor to Hedrick when the latter was called from the bed-side of his sick wife and shot down in his own door. The Dentons also lived in the same neighborhood. The killing of Hedrick and Denton on account of the threats of the Pro-slavery men that no Free State man should be allowed to raise a crop or stay on his claim, caused Mr. Hopkins and his neighbor, Mr. Denison, to start out and organize a u Protective Society." A large meeting was collected. Squire Jewell was made chairman. Hopkins, Jewell and Denison were chosen a committee to draft by-laws. At a second meeting, three days later, James Montgomery of Linn County was present, but took no part until the men present at the meeting showed their hands by passing the following resolution:
Resolved, That we, the members of this organization, pledge ourselves to protect all good citizens in their rights of life and property irrespective of politics.
Montgomery then arose and in a speech said : I am now with you and will be to the end. Some men must be active in defense while others work. We have a hydra-headed monster to fight, and I for one will fight him and with his own weapons, if necessary." And from that time dated the activity of Montgomery as a partisan leader of the Free State men. He now proposed to take the saddle.
After Isaac Denton and Hedrick were killed, old
man Travis, also a settler on the Osage, was arrested charged with having something to do with their murder. He
was taken before the Squatter's Court at Mapleton and there found not guilty. On his way home he stopped at Dr.
Wasson's, and that night the house was attacked and he was killed. Dr. Wasson was also shot in the arm and crippled
for life. This was done or instigated by Jim Denton.
All through these border troubles there was naturally and necessarily what may be called a conservative resident element in Fort Scott and throughout the county, of both the Pro-slavery and Free State parties; men trying to attend to business, improve their claims, make homes, and carry on their daily avocations. These men were, as they well expressed it, between two fires. And the alarms, incursions, excursions and the retaliatory acts, back and forth between the two parties were carried on over the heads of these law-abiding men. It was a difficult position, much harder to maintain in the country than in town. These men were not conserva-tive in the sense of being non-committal or even non-partisan but as being " non-active " in the political difficulties which did not concern their private affairs.
It is of no avail to speculate now whether or not this factious, partisan border trouble was necessary or could have been prevented. It was simply a matter of fact; it existed, and that is all there is to be said about it. The Free State men were, in a large measure, on the defensive. They either had to hold their ground or be driven out. Get out or fight. It was a "condition and not a theory that confronted them," although it was a theory which, in some sense, had brought them to this country in the first place; the theory that they had a right to go into United States territory, take a claim, make a home and speak and vote as they pleased. And they proceeded at once on the theory that the condition they found was a theory, and that their original theory should become the condition.
U. S. TROOPS AT FORT SCOTT
The constant alarms occurring in the latter part of this year resulted in the calling of a public meeting at Fort Scott on the 13th day of December. E. Ransom was made chairman. Resolutions were reported that a vigilance committee of five should be appointed to take measures to assist in the better execution of the law, either by the organization of a militia company or an appeal to the Governor and having United States troops stationed here. The committee appointed was H. T. Wilson, Blake Little, T. B. Arnett, G. A. Crawford and J. W. Head. The committee rightly concluded that it would be injudicious to try to organize a military company at that time, and decided to ask for troops, who were supposed to have no politics. At their instance John S. Cummings, the sheriff of the county, reported to Acting Governor Stanton that he required the aid of U. S. troops in the execution of the law, and sent the concurrent statement of Marshal Little to the same effect. In response to this request Captain Sturgis, afterwards a Union General, was sent here on the a 1st of December with Companies E. and F. 1st U. S. Cavalry, and order was restored and maintained for the short time they were here.
FIRST VOTE ON THE LECOMPTON CONSTITUTION
Governor Walker, finding that his idea of fairness
and justice ran counter to that of the propaganda, resigned his office on the 17 th of December.
J. W. Denver was appointed to succeed him as Secretary,
and took the oath of office on the 21st of December, and became Acting Governor.
The vote in Bourbon County, as returned, was as follows:
For the Constitution, with slavery, ..... 366
For the Constitution, without slavery, ... 78
There were only nine votes cast against the constitution
in the entire Territory. These were voted at Leavenworth and the tickets read "To hell with the Lecompton
Bourbon County elected members of the State Legislature under the Lecompton Constitution as follows: Blake Little for Senator, D. W. Campbell and J. C. Sims for the House.
Efforts were now being made at different points, notably at Leavenworth, to organize a Free State Democratic party, as Free State Democrats everywhere repudiated the Lecompton Constitution, but no organization was effected in 1857.
Among the arrivals about the close of the year
were Alex McDonald, brother of B. P. McDonald, and E. S. Bowen, who had purchased and shipped a sawmill, which
was on the road and would arrive in due time. The mill machinery began to arrive about the middle of the next month,
and was to be erected at a site chosen for it near the corner of what is now First Street and Ransom Street, or
maybe a little further West towards Scott Avenue.
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