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possessed no more force than those of Anderson county.

36. "Papers" of the United States district court, K. S. H. S., Topeka; Malin, John Brown
and the Legend of Fifty-six, pp. 558, 559.




JUDGE SAMUEL DEXTER LECOMPTE

(1814-1888)

This photograph is an enlargement of a post-
age-size picture of Judge Lecompte. It ap-
peared on a panel of legislative photographs in
the collections of the Kansas State Historical
Society showing members of the Kansas House
of Representatives of 1868. Although a search
was made, no individual portrait of Judge Le-
compte has been found.



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THE DOUGLAS COUNTY GRAND JURY RECOMMENDATION, MAY, 1856

The two pages reproduced here represent two fragments of manuscripts
which, when pieced together, provide a complete text of the controversial rec-
ommendation of the Douglas county grand jury of May, 1856, relative to the
Emigrant Aid Company hotel and the two newspapers at Lawrence. In the first
fragment the final words "its destruction" were crossed out. Evidently, com-
position, or copying was interrupted at this point, reflecting divided counsels.
The amended wording was less extreme than that deleted. Of special interest
is the fact that the language of the substitute is in the handwriting of O. C.
Stewart, the foreman, and over his signature. The conclusion seems war-
ranted that Stewart sided with the advocates of moderation.




DANIEL READ ANTHONY, I

(1824-1904)

Col. Daniel Read Anthony, native of Massa-
chusetts, arrived in Kansas in July, 1854, with
the first official party sponsored by the Emigrant
Aid Company. He left Kansas in August, but
returned in 1857 to settle permanently in
Leaven worth. His was a colorful life in poli-
tics, military service and journalism. His fam-
ily, now in the third and fourth generations,
continue to publish the Leavenworth Times
which Colonel Anthony bought in 1871.



JUDGE LECOMPTE AND THE "SACK OF LAWRENCE" 593

CONCLUSION

What was the status of Sheriff Jones on May 21, 1856? That of
mob leader, nothing more, nor less. True, he held legally the office
of sheriff of Douglas county, but he had no authority in the premises
upon which he was alleged to have acted; either in relation to the
United States district court, to Lecompte as presiding judge, or to
the grand jury. The United States marshal and his deputies were
the only officers who could have acted even if the allegations rela-
tive to the court and to the nuisances had been true. They had
completed their legal duties and had dismissed the posse. That
terminated any proceedings emulating from the court. Jones, as
sheriff of Douglas county, had no legal status whatsoever in relation
to matters alleged. As an irresponsible mob leader, Jones disgraced
his office as sheriff.

Of all the statements in print about the incidents associated with
May 21, 1856, the story related by James Christian is the only one
that strikes bluntly at the truth of the matter. Of course, Christian
was writing from memory, 19 years after the event, but the core of
what he wrote rings true. Furthermore, it squares substantially
with the law, and with the documents so far as they go. Further-
more, absence of documentary proof of Lecompte's innocence can-
not be held as suspicion of guilt. Of course, documentary evidence
does not exist to disprove a thing that never happened. The burden
of proof is on the accuser, not the defendant. Anthony's charge of
mutilation of records and destruction of incriminating evidence must
be dismissed upon this ground as well as upon the fact that essen-
tial records of positive action by the United States district court,
in spite of the hazards of neglect over a century, prove remarkably
complete.

A large part of the difficulties of territorial Kansas, conflicts of
authority, were inherent in the situation. In accordance with Ameri-
can tradition, territorial government had been designed to protect
the citizen, through a system of checks and balances, against arbi-
trary authority. The governor, the legislature, and the judiciary
were predominantly equal and independent departments. Within
the judiciary, the judges, the prosecuting attorneys, the grand jury,
and the marshal were delegated independent action, each in its own
jurisdiction. President Pierce's orders to Governor Stanton not to
call out militia, did not apply to the marshal, who did so legally
although inadvisedly. As Lecompte pointed out in his Kansas Chief

40312



594 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

letter, he was not consulted during the preliminaries leading to the
"sack of Lawrence"; the negotiations being carried on between the
citizens of Lawrence and the marshal and the governor. Yet when
the situation had deteriorated to a state of civil disorder, Lecompte,
the man who had not even been consulted, and who was without
authority to intervene, was held responsible for the action of a mob.
Acting under instructions from Pierce, Governor Geary, in Septem-
ber, 1856, assumed virtually the powers of a dictator, leading to
conflict with the independent judiciary. And Washington was too
far away to understand. Pierce's attempt to remove Lecompte, and
thus make him the scapegoat, put the issue more directly.

The history of territorial government as an object of study has
never received the serious attention of historians. Until that task
is adequately executed, from the Ordinance of 1787 to the contro-
versies over the admission of Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, the
Kansas episode cannot be placed in its proper perspective. For
example, in many respects, the territorial legislature of Nebraska
was more disorderly than that of Kansas. There, in 1857, a mem-
ber of the legislature with a revolver, and the encouragement of the
galleries, held the speaker and the sergeant at arms at bay, until
someone had the presence of mind to move an adjournment. 37 The
issue at stake was the location of the capital.

Or the Mormon question in Utah presented more prolonged
difficulties, including the Mormon war, than did slavery in Kansas.
The safeguards against the abuse of power repeatedly led to the
breakdown of territorial government under stress of crisis, yet the
question of remodeling the system was never squarely faced, not
even when the temporary new departure of government by com-
mission was applied to Puerto Rico and to the Philippine Islands
after 1900.

As the territorial judiciary in applying local law operated under
the codes of legal procedure, civil and criminal, enacted by the
territorial legislature, and based upon Missouri's system, they be-
came the focus of intense hostility, especially the code of criminal
procedure. Yet it is important to point out that when the Free-
State men gained control of the territorial legislature of 1858,
pledged to repeal the whole of the "Bogus Laws/' the legislators
failed to do so. New codes of legal procedure were adopted, that
of civil procedure being based upon Ohio's code, and that of crimi-
nal procedure being based upon Missouri's code. The Free-State
legislature of 1859 made further modifications of the code of crimi-

37. New York Tribune, January 28, 1857.



JUDGE LECOMPTE AND THE "SACK OF LAWRENCE" 595

nal procedure but the Missouri code still remained the basis, and
continued so under statehood.

In this context, the repeal of the "Bogus Laws" needs a fuller ex-
planation. The Free-State legislature of 1858 drew down upon
itself the furious denunciation of the more radical wing of the
party, who charged, among other things that: "They occupied
three-fourths of their session in granting special privileges to specu-
lators." 38 Of course, that was just the charge that Free-State men
had made against the "Bogus Legislature" of 1855, and that of
1857. Colfax had given particular emphasis to this point in his
attack in congress upon Lecompte, in 1856. There is reason to
believe that resentment against monopoly over private legislation
was originally the major basis for Free-State denunciation of the
Proslavery capture of the legislature of 1855. The Free-State
aspect of the slavery issue was so largely organized afterward as to
suggest that in part at least it was really a rationalization of that
disappointment, and then came the presidential campaign of 1856.

The Free-State legislature of 1859 set out to redeem, in part, the
reputation of the party, chapter 89, section 1, asserting boldly: "All
laws of the Territorial Legislature, passed previous to the first day
of January, A. D. 1857, are hereby repealed." Section 2, declared:
"All laws of a general nature, passed at the regular session of the
Territorial Legislature, in the year A. D. 1857, except . . .
[those defining county boundaries] are hereby repealed." But sec-
tion 6 must not be overlooked: "This act shall not be construed to
affect or interfere with vested rights, but such rights shall be and
remain as secure as if this act had never been passed." And sec-
tion 7 emphasized the issue of private in contrast with public laws
by providing: "This act, except section six, shall take effect and be
in force from and after the first day of June next; section six
shall take effect immediately." Thus the assertion of the protec-
tion of vested rights became operative prior to any part of the act
relating to repeal, and asserted a continuity that overrode ex-
pressly the sections on repeal. The Free-State party held its book-
burning celebration on the basis of section 1, with a bonfire of the
Statutes of 1855. But the vested rights were protected from the
flames by section 6; Free-State men having bought out control of
such "Bogus" enterprises as the Atchison Town Company, and the
Leavenworth, Pawnee, and Western Railroad Company, etc. Fur-
thermore, as the old codes of public laws were repealed, and new

38. Kansas Crusader of Freedom, Doniphan City, March 6, 1858, from The Kanzaa
News, Emporia.



596 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

ones enacted, without any proviso for transfer of cases from one
regime to another, the Free-State legislature had, in effect, voted a
general amnesty for all crimes committed prior to June 1, 1859. 39
Among other things, if there was any possible manner in which
criminal or other responsibility could be attached to the act of de-
struction of the Free-State Hotel and the printing presses, the
amnesty enacted by the Free-State legislature covered that also.

The setting is now prepared to bring the discussion back to the
New England Emigrant Aid Company and its hotel which was not
a vested right within the meaning of the repeal statute of 1859. The
problem is an aspect of that of "foreign" and domestic corporations
and conflict of legal jurisdictions, a preview of the issues being pre-
sented more and more insistently by a corporate business world.
The New England group interested in carrying on business in the
territory of Kansas had first applied for a charter in Massachusetts
prior to the enactment of the Kansas-Nebraska act. So far as Kansas
was concerned, it was a "foreign" corporation being operated not
only for profit, but also expressly for the purpose of contributing to
the determination of Kansas institutions in their more boastful
moments, the incorporators expressed the purpose of controlling
Kansas institutions and molding Kansas into the image of Massa-
chusetts. What means of control did the legislature of Kansas pos-
sess over a corporation chartered in another state? There were
others that occupied a less conspicuous position, but which were
more flagrant swindles. The Proslavery monopoly on domestic cor-
porations was one answer. In later years, the Kansas legislature
was aggressive in its efforts to apply controls over "foreign" cor-
porations: railroads, farm equipment, oil, and insurance companies,
and enacted a blue sky law. Even mob action, threatened or exe-
cuted, was not unknown in the later battles against out-of-state cor-
porations.

The major purpose of these concluding paragraphs is to afford
historical perspective that may place the particular events upon
which this study centers into a more comprehensive structure of
relationships. In this manner, possibly, the traditional mode of re-
acting emotionally to the mention of the slavery controversy may be
challenged effectively. Only upon release from captivity to such
emotion-conditioned traditions can people reason from facts at an
intellectual level.

In a way, Lecompte was his own worst enemy, and certainly he

39. Malin, John Brown and the Legend of Fifty-six, p. 712, 713.



JUDGE LECOMPTE AND THE "SACK OF LAWRENCE" 597

was not given any effective aid by his friends when it might have
been decisive. James Christian's analysis was remarkably accurate
in picturing Lecompte as caught between two fanatical and un-
scrupulous extremes, one as vindictive as the other. But Christian
did not come to his defense in 1856, although 1875 was better than
never. By saying that Lecompte was his own worst enemy is meant
that he seemed to have been so constructed as to be quite unable to
defend himself effectively even when the evidence on his side was
clear and unequivocal. Possibly, because the truth was all so ob-
vious, and the charges so outrageously unreasonable, both in fact
and in interpretation, Lecompte could not understand how other
people's minds could fail to see truth. In his letter to H. Miles
Moore during the summer of 1873, he took substantially this ground
in explaining why he had defaulted in his correction of the Herald
article on the McCrea case, and admitted his error. But still in
1873 and later in the Kansas Chief letter of 1875, he did not explain
himself adequately. He still failed totally to understand how cap-
tivity to an idea, no matter how absurd, can paralyze all critical
faculties and make unreason appear reasonable especially, when
identified, at least nominally, with a moral issue as a desired end.

Well may the historians of Kansas recall Madame Roland's ex-
clamation of disillusionment called out by the excesses of the French
Revolution: "Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!"
The celebrations of the quarter, the semi, and the three-quarter
centennial anniversaries of the organization of Kansas partook so
conspicuously of slanderfests. May the centennial anniversary be
different? To be sure, the historical story must be told in full, in
perspective, and without malice, but "Judge not, that ye be not
judged." Rather, it were better, in true humility, to recognize as
did Lecompte in his letter to Stewart, in 1856, as relates to the judi-
cial function, a feeling of "awe and apprehension of inadequacy [on
the part of] anyone not vain to rashness."



The Missing Immigrant Ship

GLAD WIN A. READ

THIS year we celebrated one hundred years in America. Our
Swiss forebears sailed from Antwerp on the American ship
Roger Stewart, and landed at New York in 1853. They headed
straight for Illinois, beat the panic of 1857 by moving on to Iowa,
and in 1873 bought cheap railroad land from the Kansas Pacific
(now the Union Pacific) and took root in Dickinson county, Kansas.
On May 10, 1953, about 350 attended a reunion held in Junction
City. 1

Not being a particularly mobile family, many of those who at-
tended the reunion had never seen the ocean much less a square-
rigger. Perhaps that was why they were so anxious to locate a
picture of the Roger Stewart. Anyhow, they definitely wanted a
king-size reminder of that historic crossing to which they owed so
much and about which they knew so little.

It was like looking for that proverbial needle; only this one ante-
dated the Civil War. Neither the Essex Institute nor the Peabody
Museum at Salem, Mass., could furnish any clues. A search was
made among the records of the former Bureau of Marine Inspection
& Navigation, now in the custody of the National Archives. There
was no mention of a vessel by the name of Roger Stewart being
documented, either in New York or Philadelphia, between the years
1852-1854. And the U. S. Immigration Service reported no records
for arrivals at New York prior to 1897. All their papers had been
destroyed by fire.

The New York "Marine Register" for 1857 did carry this helpful
notation: "Roger Stewart Capt. Scolfield. Class AIM, 1066 tons,
draft 20, 2 checks, wood-oak & hackmatack, fastenings iron & copper,
built 1852 in Brunswick, metalled Jan. 1856. Owner, the captain,
full model." We seemed to be on the right trail as the ship's mani-
fest, on file in the National Archives, listed our Roger Stewart at
"1066 48/95 tons burthen."

Then in the Library of Congress this little item was discovered,
tucked away on the back page of the New York Daily Times for

GLADWIN A. READ, was born in Upland, Dickinson county, and was educated in the
Junction City schools and at Kansas State College, Manhattan. He is now a sales executive
with the International Minerals and Chemical Corporation, Chicago.

1. The Junction City Republic of May 14, 1953, began its story of the reunion as
follows :

"The largest crowd ever to attend the annual Gfeller reunion, assembled in the Junction
City Municipal Auditorium Sunday, May 10, when approximately 350 members and friends
of the family gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Gfeller
family in the United States.

"Peter Gfeller and his wife, Anna Marie, and their 11 children, ages ranging from 17
years to six months, came to this country on the ship 'Roper Stewart,' landing at the Port
of New York on Sunday, May 29, having sailed from Antwerp 38 days before. Peter
Gfeller and his wife had come from Switzerland, and first settled in the State of Illinois,
just west of Chicago. . . ."

(598)



THE MISSING IMMIGRANT SHIP 599

May 30, 1853: "Arrived Sunday, May 27 [May 29?] . . . Ship
Roger Stewart (of Brunswick) Skofield, Antwerp, 38 ds., mdse. and
41 passengers to Perkins & Delano."

Brunswick seemed to indicate the state of Maine, rather than
Georgia, and the search turned toward the customs house in Port-
land. Here again the desired records had been destroyed by fire.
They had no data on vessels built within that area prior to 1869.
But a near-by "marine detective," whose hobby included the exami-.
nation of old registers compiled by Lloyds of London, established
the fact that the Skolfield yard in Brunswick had produced the
"Mayflower" we were trying to locate. Though this hobbyist also
had an album of sailing ship pictures, not one of his 800 captions
made any reference to the Roger Stewart.

We couldn't understand why the name of our ship failed to ap-
pear in the records of the Union navy along with the Ino, Pampero,
Morning Light, Nightingale, and all the other vessels that had been
rushed into the blockading squadrons, to bottle up the South. That
is, until a yellowed clipping from the Brunswick Telegraph came to
light. It was printed on May 11, 1860. It seems that the Roger
Stewart had sailed from Mobile, with a load of cotton, bound for
Liverpool. All went well until she was a little south of Cape
Hatteras. A severe gale was encountered, a leak was discovered
and the ship went down, head foremost never to be recovered.

A final letter of inquiry, this time to the Pejepscot Historical So-
ciety at Brunswick, brought a beautifully written letter in longhand
from its treasurer, to prove how friendly those Easterners can really
be. In part she said:

The old Skolfield shipyard is in North Harpswell, about five miles from here.
Nothing is left of it but the old blacksmith shop. Mr. George Skolfield, a great
grandson of Master George Skolfield lives on the old farm, across the road from
the shipyard. His wife tells me that Master George was the builder of ships
and not a sea captain. She said that they had papers telling about the building
of the ROGER STEWART and the material that went into the building of it.
She said Master George owned % of the ship and his son Alfred made early
voyages in it as Captain. So he was Captain probably when your ancestors
came to this country. In his home here in town is an oil painting of the ship
ROGER STEWART. Our photographer Mr. Stephen Merrill, in 1949 made a
photographic copy of this ship ROGER STEWART, the old shipyard, and of
Master George and of Captain Alfred. He says he has the plates and could
furnish you with copies 6 x 10 at $1.00 each.

And that was how we cracked the case of the missing immigrant
ship, measuring 180 by 36 by 18, that housed 421 passengers for 38
days, including the family of 13 Gfellers, their two maid servants,
and a man back in 1853.



Bypaths of Kansas History

A LIFE INSURANCE AD OF 1854

The' following is an advertisement which appeared in the Daily
Commonwealth, Boston, Mass., August 16, 1854:

Emigrants
TO KANSAS AND NEBRASKA

CAN EFFECT LIFE INSURANCE IN THE

HARTFORD LIFE INSURANCE CO.

WITHOUT EXTRA CHARGE
Especially if they go for Freedom.

Apply at Boston Agency,

HARRIS, COWLES & CO.,

9 and 1 Kilby Street.



WHEN HIGHWAY BUILDING BEGAN AT HOME

From the Newton Kansan, October 28, 1875.

OUR ROADS The finest natural roads in the world are to be found on the
prairies of Southern and Western Kansas. No stumps, no great rocks, no
swamps, and no tolls to pay. Only at the creek and river crossings is there
ever any work to be done, and all of these will eventually be bridged. Notwith-
standing this almost absolute immunity from labor and expense, it is not ap-
preciated, and from the most gross carelessness, our creek and river crossings
are neglected year after year, until they become little more than treacherous
holes, whose function is only to break wagons and harness, and are made the
fruitful source of more profanity than a hornet up a man's trousers leg. That
there should be any cause for complaint in this direction is a disgrace to the
country, and particularly to every man who travels over our roads in his own
wagon. How simple the remedy for all the evils complained of? How easily
our crossings could always be kept in perfect order, if every man when he
started from home would put a shovel or spade into his wagon, and when he
reaches a spot that looks as if a moments work would fix it, let him stop, get
out and do it. We hope this practice is not ignored here because people are
afraid of doing their neighbors some benefit. In the Eastern States this method
is the rule invariably, we know of farmers who would no more have thought of
neglecting their shovel when they started for town, than they would of for-
getting their hat. Now we contend that it is clearly the duty of those who use
the roads most to keep them in order, and no one will deny it is the farmers who
should do it.

(600)



Kansas History as Published in the Press

A brief history of the Evangelical and Reformed church of Ellin-
wood was printed in the Ellinwood Leader, June 11, 1953. The
church was started in the fall of 1892 when the Reverend Kottich
of Hudson, began to hold services. It was organized April 9, 1893,
and the first church building was dedicated in December, 1893.

On June 13, 1953, the Hutchinson News-Herald printed a history
of the First Baptist church of Lorraine. The church was organized
in June, 1878, as the First German Baptist church. The first pastor
was the Rev. David Zwink.

An article on the history of Mullinville newspapers appeared in
the Mullinville News, June 18, 1953. The first paper was the Mullin-
ville Mallet, started on April 9, 1886, with J. M. Diven as editor.
John G. Connor founded the News called the Tribune then in
1904, the first issue appearing August 4, according to the article.

A brief biographical sketch of James B. 'Wild Bill" Hickok ap-
peared in the editorial column of the Hays Daily News, June 24,
1953. Other articles appearing lately in the Daily News included
one on the disastrous fires of early Hays and the city fire depart-
ment, July 5, and another on the entertainment and social life of
early Hays by Catherine K. Cavender, July 26. The Ellis County
News, Hays, printed a story on the cholera epidemic of 1867, June
25, and Mrs. Cavender's article on July 30.

Don Smith's recent talk before the Kiwanis and Lions clubs of
Dodge City on Dodge City in 1878 was published in the Dodge
City Daily Globe, June 27, 1953. Smith said that in 1878 the town
probably reached its zenith as the cowboy capital of the world.



Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 20) → online text (page 69 of 76)