Kansas State Historical Society.

The Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) online

. (page 15 of 59)
Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) → online text (page 15 of 59)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

were some of the wealthy men of the state, retired from business,
living in affluence, and devoting their attention to beautifying and
enjoying their homes. It was one of the few towns in Missouri
where society was fixed and permanent, where retired merchant
princes would desire to pass their declining years. In the center
of the town stood the Court House in a park of five acres, well
ornamented with trees and surrounded by a low wall on the top
of which was a chain fence with iron posts. The streets of the
town run parallel with the sides of the park. Around the park
stood compact blocks of three story wood and brick business
buildings. All the streets for some distance from the park were
business streets. Farther back in the suburbs and outskirts of
the town were beautiful and costly residences surrounded by
tasty yards, with fruit in abundance and variety. But the war
commenced and Independence collapsed. There is not a stock


of goods in town. Every store around the park is closed, except
a few used as stables or rooms for soldiers to quarter in.

The large hotel which formerly rented for $2500 is kept by the
owner simply to prevent destruction by soldiers. He would be
glad to give the use of it to any man who would keep it from
destruction. Half the houses in town are entirely deserted, and
the remainder have only tenants enough to keep them in order.
I was introduced to General [Samuel D.] Lucas, who has for many
years held the office of Major General of Missouri Militia, and
has been twice in action since. From him I learned the history
of Independence since the rebellion commenced. At the begin-
ning he said the town was full of rebels; the moment a confederate
flag was invented it was hoisted in Independence. About the
first military move made on Missouri was the sending of Captain
[W. E.] Prince, of the U. S. Army, to Kansas City. The people
of Independence, not comprehending the necessity of having a
U. S. Captain stationed in their state, and so near them, raised a
force of 1500 men, under Col. [E. B.] Halloway, and commenced
a march towards Kansas City. Captain Prince hearing of the
movement sent one Capt. [David S.] Stanley with one hundred
men to inquire into the meaning. These forces met at Rock Creek.
Capt. Stanley under a flag of truce marched a long distance ahead
of his men to meet Colonel Halloway for consultation. While the
two officers were conversing, the undisciplined rebels in the rear
marched, some to the right and some to the left, designing to
flank our men and take them prisoners; but they wheeled into the
road before they reached our men, and each wing seeing the other
fired, supposing they were shooting Yankees; and some six or eight
rebels, including their colonel, were killed, and the rest took to
their heels. Thus settled the battle of Rock Creek, the first blood,
the general said, of the war.

February 22nd, 1862, the inevitable Quantrill and one Parker,
with sixty mounted bushwhackers, entered Independence for
plunder and destruction. They supposed the town comparatively
defenseless, but found Gen. [Charles] Doubleday with two hundred
men ready to receive them. There was a brisk helter skelter fight
around the square, lasting over an hour, when the rebels escaped
with a loss of five or six killed. There was another fight in town on
the llth of August 1862 between Captain [James T.] Buel with two
hundred Federals, and [Col.] John F. Hughes, author of the history
of the Mexican War, with 200 rebels. The fight was for the posses-


sion of the town, and was a desperate struggle for two hours, when
Buel was compelled to surrender. 11 Hie rebels lost their Colonel
in the engagement and occupied the town only a half day when they
retreated before Col. Burroughs of Leaven worth. 12 They suc-
ceeded, however, in taking with them large quantities of stores,
ammunition, &c. The general said the bullets whistled through the
streets "to kill/' The citizens were frightened half out of their wits,
hid themselves in mills, barrels, &c., &c., but no one was hurt.

To-day Independence is strongly guarded, pickets are kept out on
every road and cannon are stationed in the main streets. The Gen-
eral says there are just as good rebels in town as ever, men on good
terms with bushwhackers and who furnish them with information,
&c. Should the soldiers leave he thinks the loyal citizens would be
obliged to follow. It is hard for you, reader, living in a quiet un-
disturbed community, to realize the state of society, this insecurity
felt every moment by those living in towns where unionists and
rebels are mixed in together. Extermination of bushwhackers and
their aiders and abetters, is perhaps the only way to restore law and
order, and this business the citizens themselves will undertake after
a little more suffering. C. M. C.

August 15th, 1863.

ED. REPUBLICAN: Last night the General and I had a long and
desperate battle with about 100,000 bed-bugs. The conflict raged
without decisive tendency till about twelve o'clock when the enemy
was reinforced with 400,000 fresh recruits. The General sounded
a retreat, and we withdrew leaving the enemy in possession of the
sheets and a thousand or more of their own dead. We lost large
quantities of hard words and patience, but no life. I never was
loyal to the bed-bug supremacy. They can never make peace with
me until they exterminate or demoralize me.

We left Olathe this morning at half past seven, arriving at this
place, distant 25 miles, at noon. As we enter Miami (formerly
Lykins) county the prairie becomes less broken, though still more
rolling than DeKalb county, Illinois. As you go south or away from
the river, the prairie seems to expand or spread out into longer rolls,
and the prospects are more extended. Nine miles from Paola we

11. The battle actually lasted four hours. Robert M. Scott, ed., The War of the
Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies
(Washington, 1885), "Action at and Surrender of Independence, Mo.," Ser. I, v. 13,
p. 225.

12. Lt. Col. John T. Burris, Tenth Kansas infantry, left Fort Leavenworth on August
12, 1862, and arrived in Independence the next day. There was no action. The rebels
withdrew towards Lexington. Ibid., pp. 231, 232. The name Burroughs is incorrect.


passed Spring Hill, a little town standing on one of the highest rolls
of prairie; lonely enough in the distance, and still more lonely when
we reached it. A little store, a hotel, two or three small dwellings
and a public well, comprise all there is of the village, yet this little
isolated "Hill" had the presumption, three years ago, to ask $100
for town lots, which can now be bought for two bits. 13 Before
reaching Paola we passed along beside a branch of the Osage, 14 a
stream about three rods wide and from three to eight feet deep.
When we came to the crossing place, however, it was a little rivulet
about a foot wide and two inches deep. This, the General informed
me, was a peculiarity in the Kansas streams. Even in the smallest
branches there are every few miles, long channels of deep, still
water, abounding in fish and serving as reservoirs in dry times.
Miami county is better supplied with water and timber than John-
son. There are numerous little tributaries to the Osage meandering
through the prairie ravines, skirted on either side with timber, from
one rod to a mile in width. Wherever you see trees on the prairie,
there you may find water.

Paola numbers about 400 people, and is really one of the active,
thriving Kansas towns. It stands in a basin eight or ten miles in
diameter, on land somewhat higher than the country immediately
adjoining, and is surrounded by groves of the Osage tributaries
giving it a plentiful supply of wood and water. Stone is also in
great abundance. A good stratum of limestone easily obtained
and easily worked underlies the entire surface of eastern Kansas,
sometimes appearing many feet below the surface and often on the
top. A steep ledge of rock is very common in the roads, more
common in southern Kansas where the stone generally lies near
the surface.

Paola, like nearly all Kansas towns, is built around a square. There
is no Court House, but one soon to be built. Unimproved land
within a mile of the town can be bought for two or three dollars
per acre. Town lots are still held about as high as ever, showing

13. J. B. H., writing from Spring Hill in January, 1858, to the Lawrence Herald of
Freedom, described the town in these glowing terms: ". . . [It] is within one mile
of a large body of very superior timber, and convenient to three saw mills; has a never
failing supply of pure spring water; is distant half a mile from an extensive vein of stone
coal of the best quality, easily worked, and has an abundant supply of excellent lime-
stone for building and fencing, as well as pure sand of the best character for mixing mortar.
It has been universally healthy during the entire sickly season; has a good church, school
house, post-office, and a very commodious and well conducted hotel; two large stocks of
goods, and will shortly have a daily line of stages from Wyandott; is fast settling up
with an enterprising people. . . . The company are at work in earnest, and having
secured a liberal charter, are prepared to offer inducements to mechanics, citizens, and
actual settlers, that will insure a rapid increase in the value of its stock and an early
settlement of good conservative people of the right stamp."

14. The stream is called Marais des Cygnes in Kansas, Osage in Missouri.


that confidence is firm in the ultimate increase of the town. As the
General went to attend to his troops, he left me with a Mr. Wagstaff,
one of the town lawyers. Last year Mr. Wagstaff was candidate
for Governor of Kansas. 15 The General said he represented all the
soreheads in the state, that is, disappointed republicans, democrats,
&c. Of course, representing those elements in Kansas, he was most
tremendously "flailed out/' We supped with Mr. G. A. Colton,
formerly from Sycamore. Mr. Colton is at present Indian agent, has
represented his district in the state senate, is well known among
Kansas politicians, and is, I believe, regarded as one of the best wire
pullers in the state. I asked Mr. Colton if Kansas politicians were
generally honest and reliable. Mr. Colton looked up and smiled,
whereupon I looked down and blushed. The General, noticing
my confusion, remarked that I had not been long in the state, and
should be excused for asking so absurd a question. I inferred that
the political wires of Kansas were worked by men unacquainted
with "Baxter's Call to the Unconverted." 16

The evening I spent with G. W. Brown, former editor of the
Herald of Freedom, which was destroyed by the Border Ruffians.
In the early Kansas troubles Mr. Brown was one of the most con-
spicuous Free State men in the state, and by many was regarded
as insanely radical and rabid on that subject. He is a man about
forty years old, six feet high, with rather long contour of face, light
hair and whiskers, grey eyes, somewhat reserved and unapproach-
able in appearance, and by some regarded as phlegmatic and cold-
hearted. In conversation he is rather measured and precise, always
using a choice selection of words, stopping when he gets through,
and listening with most respectful attention to the one he is con-
versing with. The natural inclination of his mind is more towards
theory than practice; it is speculative and sometimes, perhaps,
visionary. He is liberal towards those with whom he differs, but
firmly fixed in his own opinions. At present Mr. Brown is out of
politics and engaged wholly in law. He has a library worth $2,000,
the second, if not the first library in the state.

It will be many years before Paola will see a railroad. 17 Her
situation is about half way between Kansas City and Fort Scott,
through which points roads running east and west will probably pass.

15. W. R. Wagstaff was a candidate for governor on the "Anti-Lane" ticket in 1862.
He was defeated by Thomas Carney. U". S. Biographical Dictionary (Chicago, S. Lewis
& Co., 1879).

16. A work by Richard Baxter, English divine, 1615-1691.

17. The Missouri River, Fort Scott and Gulf railroad opened its line to Paola in
February, 1869. J. L. Tracy, Guide to the Great West (St. Louis, Tracy & Eaton, 1871),
p. [171].



Paola may some time get a branch connecting with the road from
St. Louis to Kansas City, but it will be only when her section be-
comes settled and rich. For many years she must depend for growth
wholly upon the patronage of the agricultural community of which
she is the immediate center.

Paola was once the home of the notorious bushwhacker and
outlaw, Quantrill. Here he once lived in harmony with those he
would plunder and murder. Our landlord, Col. [Henry] Torrey,
brought him here from Ohio, when but a lad. He raised him, but
says he never taught him the art of bushwhacking. 18 The Col. told
me Quanta-ill's first experience in the business which led to his
present life. At the beginning of the rebellion Quantrill raised a
gang of rowdies and arranged a plan to go into the country, take
a certain man's horses and plunder his house. He then informed
the man that such a plan was formed and when it was to be exe-
cuted. At the appointed hour Quantrill led his men up to the rear
of the house, and then ordered them to go ahead. The consequence
was they were all killed. Quantrill escaped, and was of course,
handsomely rewarded for his valuable information. C. M. C.

August 16th, 1863.

ED. REPUBLICAN: This morning Mr. [William P.] Button, for-
merly of Sycamore, now sheriff of this county, invited me to ride
to his place, ten miles west of Paola. This is the town in which
our Sycamore emigration first settled. It is situated on the brow
of a prairie roll looking off into a long sweep of bottom land
skirted by timber. It was once the county seat, and is, I believe,
the oldest town in the county. When the county seat was moved
to Paola, Stanton collapsed, 19 her town lots depreciated from $75 to
zero, leading men moved away, taking, in some cases, their build-
ings with them, leaving in the town about half a dozen buildings
and a few huts. Twenty-five people comprise all the population
of the once proud Stanton. Two small stores and a postoffice
comprise the business street. The merchants manage to dispose
of ten or fifteen thousand dollars worth of goods every year, but
where they go to is not apparent, as there are but a few houses
in sight.

We took dinner with a Mr. Strong, a hard fisted, hard sensed,

18. For details of Torrey's relationship with Quantrill see William E. Connelley,
op. cit.

19. Paola has always been the county seat. But one election was held on this question,
at which time, in 1858, Osawatomie was the principal competitor. A. T. Andreas-W. G.
Cutler, History of the State of Kansas (Chicago, 1883), p. 881.


practical man, and well to do farmer. Mr. Strong believes in the
future importance of his section of the country. He knows the
richness of the prairie soil, its facility for cultivation, its adaptabil-
ity for the growth of grain and stock, must eventually insure its
settlement and prosperity. Mr. Strong thinks if a man with a loose
$1000 would invest in cattle and "squat" anywhere on the prairie
in this section, giving his attention to stock raising only, he would
be a rich man in ten years. The only cost in raising stock would
be the trouble of cutting grass and feeding in the winter, adding
a few dollars each year for salt. To invest in sheep he thinks one
would double his money every year. I almost wonder that some
of our wealthy DeKalb county farmers, with a large surplus of
funds on hand, do not come out here and invest a portion of their
means in this business. There is no one here engaged in it as a
principal business. Mr. Strong, like all the other farmers, came
here to farm as they had learned to do in Indiana, Illinois, and
Missouri, investing all their means in land and farming apparatus.
Their money is consequently locked up, and they are compelled
to engage in general farming. Mr. Strong said he was working
into stock as fast as he could and would be glad, if his money
was loose, to engage in it wholly. The prairie here spreads out
into immensely wide fields, with here and there isolated mounds
and long ranges of prairies rolls. As far as the eye can reach
towards the west is rich, unoccupied prairie, some time to become
a thickly populated and wealthy country. Lucky he who settles
early and secures the rise in lands. C. M. C.

August 17th, 1863.

EDITOR REPUBLICAN: The distance from Paola to this place is
thirty two miles. During the whole ride we were not out of sight
of groves, and were frequently passing little streams. Miami and
Linn are among the best watered and wooded counties in the state.
Stone also appears in greater abundance, and steep pitches they
can hardly be called hills of lime rock are more numerous in the

The first village we passed was Twin Springs. So named from
two little springs of water twenty rods apart, gushing out on op-
posite sides of a prairie roll. The village consisting of a store, three
small houses and a barn, stands on the eminence between the
springs. The inhabitants are not without hopes of the future im-
portance of their burg, which according to the plat, recorded in the


register's office, already spreads her lots over the area of a half mile
square. We next come to Paris and then Moneca, about equal in
size, each larger than Twin Springs, but smaller than New York
City. Twenty houses would cover the boast of either village. 20
Mound City is not built around a square; the plat of the town
which occupies a half section of land contains a fine park but some
thoughtless fellow commenced to build on one side of the plat,
others built around him, what there is now of city, leaving the
square nearly a half mile out of town. The place contains a present
population of three hundred people. But in expectancy there are
ten thousand. The famous Jayhawkers, Jennison and Montgomery,
formerly honored this place with their residence, the former is now
keeping a livery stable in Leavenworth, 21 and the latter doing serv-
ice in his country, at the head of a North Carolina Colored regiment.
Montgomery was, by profession, a Baptist minister, 22 a very modest,
unassuming man, kind and generous in his impulses and much es-
teemed as a citizen. Such is his representation by his neighbors.
A Dr. Davis in justifying Montgomery's lawlessness in 1858, on
grounds of county defense, told the following incident: In 1858 one
Charles Hamilton 23 made threats that he was going to split the
Union, and was going to insert the wedge right between Linn and
Bates counties (adjoining counties in Kansas and Missouri). With
that intent, he had for a long time been plundering and robbing the
free state men in Linn county. On one occasion he raised a gang
of ruffians, entered the county early one morning, seized twelve
farmers as they were going into their fields, marched them onto the
bluffs of Bates [Linn] county, arranged them along in a row, shot
them down and left them for the buzzards to finish. Six or eight
were killed, and the others miraculously lived to tell the tale. 24 The
Doctor thought that was a "pesky mean trick/' and he didn't blame
Montgomery for opposing lawlessness with lawlessness, particularly
as long as it secured the safety of Kansas' border. Murder, robbery
and arson had been perpetrated by the Missouri border outlaws for

20. Twin Springs, Paris and Moneka are now extinct locations.

21. A Leavenworth city directory, 1863-1864, lists Charles R. Jennison and J. G.
Losee as operators of a livery stable on Shawnee between 3d and 4th Streets.

22. Montgomery was mustered into the Union army as colonel of the Third Kansas
infantry, but was transferred to the command of the Second South Carolina Colored
regiment. He had been a minister of the Christian church. Kansas Historical Collections,
v. 7, pp. 395, 396, footnote.

23. Charles Hamelton.

24. Hamelton, who had been driven from the territory by Free-State men, retaliated
by invading Linn county with about 30 Missourians. Capturing 11 Free-State men he
marched them to a ravine and lined them up before a firing squad. Five were killed, five
were wounded and one escaped by feigning death. This incident has become known as the
Marias des Cygne massacre. A monument bearing lines from Whittier's tribute to the
victims stands in Trading Post cemetery.


years, and he was in favor of wiping them out the speediest way.

The General introduced me here to a Judge Lowe, as the promi-
nent man of southern Kansas. 25 He is a man forty years old, for-
merly practiced law in Cincinnati, was Judge of the city court one
or two terms, removed to Kansas in 1858, and opened a law office
in this great town. He is now state senator for this district, and is
perhaps the ablest man in the Kansas Legislature. He and his
friends expect he will be made Chief Justice of the state the ensuing
fall. I asked the judge what induced him to exchange a good prac-
tice in one of the first cities on the continent, for an uncertain prac-
tice in an uncertain country. It was the principle that he would
rather be first here than second there. I remarked too that there
was an uncontrollable thirst in the human for change, men are never
fully satisfied with any condition; they want something new, some-
thing beyond their immediate range of vision, as if what is unseen,
unexperienced, sparkled with diamonds. Rasselas was discontented
while in the enjoyment of every pleasure the world afforded, and
men today and everywhere, are wishing to exchange a good position
for uncertainties of a new one. Love of locality and family ties
fasten many, but do not destroy the insatiate desire to change.
Many break away from good anchorage to try their fortune in un-
fathomed water; while some improve their conditions others cap-
size. The Judge admitted the truth of these remarks, but thought
that most of those who came to Kansas improved their condition.
It was a new state, enterprising, and destined to become thickly
populated. Men of merit find more opportunities for the exercise
of their industry and talent than in older states where occupation
is crowded, where the channels of business are already cut, and all
kinds of property well secured. Here nothing is fixed, property is
floating, people are not permanently settled, vacancies are occurring,
&c., &c. Honesty, industry and talent are in demand in new and
fast-growing communities, and he who brings with him those ele-
ments of success, cannot fail to rise.

While we were conversing a dozen men from Potosi, 26 five miles
east on the very border of Kansas, having heard that the General
was about to muster out a squad of soldiers who had been pro-
tecting them during the past month, entered the office in a great

25. David P. Lowe served as judge of the fourth judicial district from 1864 until 1867
when he was appointed judge of the sixth judicial district. He held this office until his
election as Congressman in 1870. He was re-elected in 1872. Following the expiration
of his term, he was appointed chief justice of the supreme court of Utah Territory, but
subsequently returned to Kansas and served as judge of the sixth district, remaining in that
office until his death in 1882.

26. The settlement is now extinct.


state of alarm. They said if the troops were mustered out they
would be compelled to leave their neighborhood, and neglect the
harvest of their crops. They knew Quantrill was in Bates county
opposite, with a large force of bushwhackers, preparing for a raid
into the state, and they were to be the first ones to suffer, if left un-
protected. They had positive information that within a week Quan-
trill was going to make a descent somewhere, and they had already
suffered enough, having been stripped for two or three successive
years of their entire earnings. The General was without authority
to continue in service a single squad of the state militia, but, under

Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) → online text (page 15 of 59)