To the Close of 1865

by T. F. Robley

Fort Scott, Kansas 1894


Pages 61 - 64


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.

The dense population in this county at that time seemed to require the "building up" of more town. Already foundations for future cities were being laid, which in the near future were to become "busy marts of trade," "manufacturing and railroad center;" have the machine shops and vote bonds and have a macadam tax, and a cracker factory. The probable location of the depot was another question of vast moment. It must not be so located that it would draw business to one point of the town at the expense of another. That must be guarded against. Everyone with a piece of land suitable for an "addition" said he would guard against it if it took half the land he had.

All these things were within the vision of the founders, although the nearest railroad was yet two hundred miles away.


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.

Afterwards a new Company was organized by Wm. Baker, Dr. S. O. Himoe, A. Wilson, John Hawk, James Huffnagle and M. E. Hudson. This Company first called the town Eldora, but after a time the name was changed back to Mapleton. Dr. S. O. Himoe was appointed the first Postmaster on October 15th, 1857. E. P. Higby was appointed early in 1858 and continued the Postmaster for more than thirty years. E. Greenfield established the first store in 1858.

Mapleton has always been a prominent place in this county. It is located in the beautiful valley of the Osage, surrounded by an agricultural country unsurpassed and a thrifty intelligent people.


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.


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.

There were then but three saw mills in the county; one on the Little Osage, near the future site of Fort Lincoln; one on the same stream above Sprattsville, and one on the Marmaton six miles west of Fort Scott. There was an abundant growth of black walnut, sycamore, cottonwood, oak, coffee bean, linn, etc., along the Little Osage, Mill Creek, Marmaton and Drywood.


Pages 65 - 77


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.

On the 4th of March, 1857, James Buchanan became President.

In his Inaugural Address he said:

"Congress is neither to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to from and conduct their own domestic institutions in their own way. As a natural consequence, Congress has also prescribed, that when the Territory of Kansas shall be admitted as a State, it shall be received into the Union with or without slavery, as the Constitution may prescribe at the time of admission. A difference of opinion has arisen in regard to the time when the people of a Territory shall decide this question for themselves. This is happily a matter of but little importance, and besides it is a judicial question, which legitimately belongs to the Supreme Court of the United States, before whom it is now pending and will, it is understood, be speedily and finally settled."

Two days afterward the Supreme Court handed down the decision in the Dred Scott case. The gist of that decision is this: The Missouri Compromise, so far as it excluded slavery from the Louisiana Purchase, north of 36.30 degree was unconstitutional; that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery from any portion of the Federal territory, nor to authorize the inhabitants thereof to do so; that negroes are not citizens and have no rights as such. Or, in other words, that Kansas was de jure Slave Territory as it was de facto.

"Jeems" evidently knew on the 4th of March what that decision was to be as well as he did on the 6th.


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.

Slaves were bought and sold in this county as late as August 1857. The records of the county show that Wiley Patterson purchased a negro woman slave of James M. Rucker for $500.00 at that date.


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.

"He tuck his hate and lef' very sudden Like he gwine to run away."

Geary was a good man. He took office a Pro-slavery man, but he misunderstood what the Administration and the leading Pro-slavery men in Kansas wanted. He based his policy on the principles of justice and the protection of all persons in their rights. That was not what they wanted. They were also mistaken in their man, and by denying him of all means of self-protection in the matter of troops, etc., and by personal assault and attempts at assassination, they finally drove him from the Territory.

The Administration then concluded to put in a Southern man for Governor and Robert J. Walker was appointed on the 26th of March. Walker, it is true, was born in Pennsylvania, but he had spent the years of his manhood in Mississippi. F. P. Stanton was appointed Secretary and came first, in April and took charge as Acting Governor.


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 had also become one of the noted points in the new Territory, and many young men were attracted here to make this the starting point for their future. A few who came were unfitted for the life of pioneers. They generally came from the cities, and as much on what they called a tour of adventure as anything. But they found that even at the best hotel the bed consisted of a straw tick and a buffalo robe the bathroom was the Marmaton and the means of washing the face and hands were at the bottom of the back stairs in a tin basin with hard water and soft soap. They might have withstood all these luxuries, but when they came to the dinner table that jarred 'em loose. The "menu" consisted of cornbread, bacon, fried potatoes and corn coffee with "long sweetnin." After wrestling with those delicacies for a short time they would generally conclude they had seen enough of the "border troubles" and skip back home fully determined to "go with their States" and let Kansas go Free Trade and Woman's Rights if it wanted to, or go to any other place, they were going home where they could get some of "mother's cooking."

During the fall of 1856 and the winter and spring of 1857, there were also coming in from the slave States - aside from the followers of Buford - a large contingent of men, who were good citizens where they came from, and remained here to the end, good citizens and good men. The country knew none better.

Biographies and biographical sketches of the old settlers cannot be given in this volume. Their biographies would furnish material for a much larger book than this. It may some day be prepared. An attempt will be made in this book to give a slight sketch or mention only of the more prominent men who took hold of the throttle valve and helped turn on steam.

Among those who came in this spring were the following:

Dr. John H. Couch, with his family, arrived May 30, 1857. Dr. Couch was born in Lexington, Kentucky, April 8, 1827. He obtained a fine collegiate and medical education in that State, and went from there to Monroe, Wisconsin, where he married Miss Lillis Andrick. He was a strong Democrat and never hesitated to vigorously denounce what he thought wrong in his party, or any other. His heart was big. Many and many are the persons who have occasion to remember his kind professional services, given without hope of fee or reward.

John G. Stuart came July 1. he was born in Halifax, N. S., February 10, 1834. He established the first wagon shop in Fort Scott.

T. W. Tallman and family arrived on the 22d of April, 1857. Mr. Tallman was taken at once for his true worth as a man. He has held many positions of trust and honor, with trust and honor. He went out in the world at sixteen to shift for himself and after these long and busy years he feels that life has not been a failure.

Dr. A. G. Osbun came this year (1857). Governor Wilson Shannon married for his second wife Miss Sarah Osbun, sister of Dr. Osbun. Dr. Osbun took no active part in political affairs, but attended quietly to the duties of his profession. In the latter years of his life he was in partnership with Dr. Couch in the drug business.

Mrs. Osbun and the family of girls and boys came to the county the following year, after the doctor had located here.

The following named persons also came in to Fort Scott in 1857, most of whom came early in the year:

W. I. Linn, J. C. Sims, Dr. Bills and family, C. P. Bullock, S. B. Gordon, Joe Price, Governor E. Ransom, Receiver of the Land Office, his wife, son-in-law Geo. J. Clark and family; the notorious George W. Clark, Register of the Land Office, Tom Blackburn, Charley Bull, Charley Dimon, Orlando, Darling, Joe ray, W. B. Bentley, J. S. Calkins, J. E. Jones, A. R. Allison, J. N. Roach and family of girls, John Harris and family, H. R. Kelsoe and family.

The town at that time consisted entirely of the houses around the Plaza, which had been built by the Government. No new buildings had yet been erected. Imagine the city, buildings, trees, etc., all cleared away and the wild, unbroken prairie in their stead coming clear up to the Plaza on all sides, and there you have Fort Scott as it appeared at that day.

The business houses were not yet very numerous. Colonel H. T. Wilson had the old post-sutler store, southwest of the Plaza, Blake Little & Son occupied the old quartermaster building, northwest corner of the Plaza and Hill & Son were in the old guard house. There was one blacksmith shop and two saloons.


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.

On the 8th day of June, 1857, according to the original record, the Fort Scott Town Company "made conditional purchase, and took possession of the "claims" known as the site of Fort Scott," and organized the company with the following named members: D. H. Weir, D. W. Holbrook, E. S. Lowman, W. R. Judson, G. W. Jones, H. T. Wilson, Norman Eddy, George A. Crawford and T. R. Blackburn.

The Wingfield organization was kept alive however with the view of holding good the pre-emption rights of the individual members, until on the 5th day of January 1858 at a meeting of the Fort Scott Town Company the following action was taken:

"Ordered, That the idea of attempting to pre-empt the property of the company under the two organizations of the Wingfield Company and the Fort Scott Town Company be formally abandoned. And that the members and interests of the Wingfield Company be in form, as they are in fact received into and merged in the Fort Scott Town Company."

An outline of the early life of Mr. Crawford is given at this point. From the day of his arrival in Fort Scott his life is interwoven with the history of the town and Bourbon County.

George A. Crawford was born in Pine Creek Township Clinton County, Pennsylvania on July 27, 1827. His ancestors were well known and active in the Revolution. He spent his boyhood in Clinton County and received his higher education at Clinton Academy. After he had finished his education he went to Salem, Kentucky, where he taught school and in 1847 he taught in the high schools of Canton, Mississippi. In 1848 he returned to Pennsylvania and studied law.

Mr. Crawford was active and quite prominent in the State politics of Pennsylvania, taking James Buchanan as his political guide and later, his personal friend Stephen A. Douglas. And finally, in the latter days of the life of Douglas, joining with him in the hearty support of the Administration of President Lincoln.

As we have seen, in the spring of 1857, he came to Fort Scott, where he at once identified himself with the large Free-State immigration just then beginning to come in from the North. He was soon recognized and accepted as the head of the combined political sentiment of men from all sections of the country - North and South who may be denominated in the political shading of that time, as the conservative "Anti Pro-slavery party. He had, however, no better personal friends than he found among such men as Col. Wilson, A. Hornbeck, S. A. Williams, Blake Little, John H. Little, Col. Arnett, W. L. Linn and others then here, whose political prejudices were at that time in harmony with the great leaders of the South.

Mr. Crawford had a more extended acquaintance and close personal friendship with prominent men of the Nation than any man in the West. He was familiar with all sections and all men. Polished and peculiarly social in his manner he was as much at home in the political and diplomatic circles of Washington as he was in the squatter's cabin. Had his inclinations been for a political career he could have easily attained great prominence. But the bent of his disposition was to be at the head of large commercial and manufacturing enterprises. For this, he chose this State and particularly Fort Scott as the basis of his operations. He succeeded well for several years, considering the disjointed period of civil war, and had laid the foundation of his future hopes. But circumstances which so often attack the affairs of men, combined with the elements for his overthrow. He saw his mills and factories swept away by fire in an hour's time, leaving him struggling and helpless in the quick-sand of unrelentive fate. The divinity which shapes the affairs of men could come to him no more. It had passed by his door forever.

The lives of all men "are of few days and full of trouble." They pass like the shadow of a summer cloud. One falls, the ranks close up and move on and only memory glances back. So with him.

His last resting place is in the Grand Canyons of the Colorado. His monument is the memory of those not yet fallen.


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.

On the 10th of July, Hon. Joseph Williams took the oath of office before Secretary Stanton as Associate Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court. He arrived at Fort Scott soon after, bringing with him his wife and four sons, Mason, Kennedy, Joseph and William, and immediately entered upon the duties of his office. He had lived many years in Muscatine and Burlington, Iowa, where he had been on the beach "twenty-one years a judge in Iowa" as he invariable instructed the jury in his charge. He was a weak man, easily influenced, and without personal dignity.


About the first of August, 1857, several more people arrived who were afterwards active and prominent citizens.

B. P. McDonald came to Fort Scott from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. He was then a boy of 17. he took up a timber claim soon after his arrival here and after the sawmill started he employed men in cutting and hauling logs to the mill where he worked as a hand himself, and from the proceeds of his lumber he made enough to start him in business with his brother, Alexander McDonald. In 1861 the firm of A. McDonald & Brother turned their attention to freighting in addition to their other mercantile business and afterwards added a banking department. In 1867 he purchased the entire business and continued it in his own name until 1869. He then closed out the business except the banking department, which he with C. F. Drake and others afterward organized into the First National Bank. He was always foremost in aiding all railroad enterprises looking towards Fort Scott, and in 1874, he took hold individually of a railway project for a road in a southeastern direction from Fort Scott and after completing a section of several miles he finally transferred it to the Kansas City, Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad Company and his conception and original labors resulted in the construction of the great trunk line to Memphis, Tennessee.

Charles Bull had arrived sometime before. He was a youngish looking man then and has maintained the same personal appearance for the past thirty years. He is now with the Zuna Indians. He was the most even tempered man in the Territory, always excepting Joe Ray.

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 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.


Pages 78 - 90


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.
If the Free State men had taken prompt and vigorous measures to contest the election of June 15, attended to the registration and seen to it that the lists were corrected, and then mustered their forces at the polls with a determined front, it is possible that they might have elected a majority of the delegates, obtained control of the Lecompton Convention, presented a Free State Constitution to the people, who would have sustained it, and the State have quietly passed into the Union, and the pages of Kansas history been altogether changed.

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 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.
As an illustration of those difficulties, the case of Stone and Southwood is given. William Stone had been driven off of his claim on the Osage, and his claim and cabin were taken possession of by a man named Southwood, a Southern preacher. When Stone returned to assert his rights Southwood refused to vacate. The Free State men, after considering the case, built Stone another cabin, near Southwood, and moved his family into it. The women of the two families, of course, got into a small border war over the well of water. This helped to aggravate matters and the Free State men finally ordered Southwood to leave by a certain time. Just before the time fixed to leave, Southwood gathered a large number of his friends from Fort Scott and along the border with the purpose of driving Stone off. But the Free State men were right on hand, and gathered at Stone's to resist the expected attack. It was a first-rate opening for a good fight, but the Pro-slavery party, after a feint of an attack that night, drew off. They made much big talk, but they found the Free State party too strong and determined, and Southwood left.

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 little before this time a difficulty began between two of the Osage settlers. It was a claim fight. In 1856 a man named Hardwick came in there and took a claim. Isaac Denton and his sons, James and John Denton, came in about the same time. Hardwick permitted James Denton to occupy a cabin on his claim with the understanding that he was to vacate at a certain time. When the time came around Denton refused to vacate. Hardwick was threatened, his cabin was fired into, and he was forced to give up his claim and get out Soon after this Isaac Denton and a friend and neighbor named Hedrick, were killed. Hardwick was suspected of the crime and he fled the country. A year ©r two afterwards he was arrested in Missouri for this crime and delivered to John Denton to be brought to Kansas for trial. On the way Denton shot Hardwick dead. Denton, in his turn, was killed at Barnesville, by Bill Marchbanks, for the killing of Hardwick.


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.


Pages 87 - 90


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.


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.


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.
He had been absent from the Territory for some time and Secretary Stan ton had been Acting Governor, and while so acting had called the special session of the Territorial Legislature to change the date and manner of voting on the Lecompton Constitution, and for that act, and others not in the programme, he was removed.

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.
On December 21, the first election was held on the Lecompton Constitution. At this election the Free State men again abstained from voting, or giving it any attention.

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 Constitution."

This election, besides being otherwise a farce, was more or less fraudulent in every precinct in the Territory, Bourbon County not excepted.

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.
Lumber was going to be in demand, for building would begin in the Spring, although the year 1857 was closing in turmoil, excitement and uncertainty.

Genealogy Trails' Kansas

  back to Index Page
Copyright © 2008 to Kansas Genealogy Trails' Bourbon County host & all Contributors
  All rights reserved