Kansas State Historical Society.

The Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) online

. (page 16 of 59)
Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) → online text (page 16 of 59)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the circumstances, said he would assume the responsibility of not
mustering them out if the soldiers, who had so far been paid out of
the Governor's private purse, would look to the Legislature for
their subsequent pay.

Here commenced a struggle between the soldiers and the Potosi
delegation. The soldiers were not going to "take any Kansas Legis-
lature for their pay, they had seen enough of the Kansas Legisla-
ture." With tears in their eyes the old men pleaded for the boys
to stay and protect them, but the boys "couldn't see it." Judge
Lowe then made a speech of some length, explaining the helpless-
ness of the Potosi people, and assuring the boys that as a senator
he would use his best endeavors to put their pay bill through the
Legislature, &c. Still the boys were determined not to serve. The
General then arose and made a flaming speech, appealing to their
patriotism, their strong arms, referring to the helplessness of the
old men, &c., closing up by drawing a ten dollar "green back" and
sending them down to the saloon. In ten minutes they all returned,
the most patriotic squad of militia I have ever seen. They sent up
cheer after cheer for the General and the Union, and expressed
themselves determined to see the last of the rebellion, pay or no pay.

C. M. C.

FORT SCOTT, BOURBON Co., KANSAS

August 19th, 1863.

EDITOR REPUBLICAN: At 11 o'clock this morning we arrived at
Fort Lincoln nine miles south of Mound City. This fort was estab-
lished by Lane in 1860, and is now abandoned, as a position com-
manding nothing and easy to be reduced. It consists of an enclosure



AN EDITOR LOOKS AT EARLY-DAY KANSAS 135

with one building about eighty feet long, a large well, &c. 27 The
city of Fort Lincoln consists of two families, one outside and one
inside the fort. Geo. Walrod, from Sycamore, Illinois, commands
the post, holding all the offices from high private to Brigadier. As
we entered the Fort, we were very cordially welcomed by the
Brigadier, and invited to remain and participate in the enjoyment
of the noon rations. At Paola I was informed that Walrod was
severely afflicted with "sorghum on the brain." Walrod denies this
on the grounds that a disordered brain conceives improbabilities
and impossibilities, and he conceives neither in his sorghum specula-
tions.

He said sorghum in Kansas will yield at least 200 gallons per acre,
that every gallon was worth, at least, fifty cents, that he expected
to manufacture this season 200 acres, getting for his pay half of
all he manufactures or the entire crop from a hundred acres,
making his figures of profit as follows: 100 acres of sorghum, at
200 gallons per acre, yields 20,000 gallons which at 50 cents per
gallon gives $10,000 from which he deducts expenses, $1,000, leaving
a net profit of $9,000. From this he is willing to deduct $4,000 more,
to cover possible accidents, which will make a "dead sure" profit
of $5,000 for the season.

Walrod thinks it passing strange that so many young men should
remain in the East, actually begging the privilege of ten per cent
investments when this country affords so many opportunities for
more profitable investments. He instanced one case, where he
believes 100 per cent, could be realized in a few months. One of
his neighbors owned a rich farm of a hundred sixty acres, with
house recently built, costing $500, and rail fence costing $300. There
were seventy acres of standing corn, and a few acres of other crops.
Circumstances compelled him to sell, and he offered the whole for
$800 in cash. Every day, he said, there were similar opportunities,
but few here with the ready money to take advantage of them.

Fort Scott is one hundred miles south of Kansas City and about
ten miles from Missouri State line. It was formerly one of the
frontier Indian forts, and until the rebellion broke out, contained
nothing but the buildings in the fort. But as the war broke out

27. William Ansel Mitchell, in his Linn County, Kansas (1928), quotes on p. 125
from the diary of John Howard Kitts of the 12th Kansas regiment, October 9, 1862: "We
at last arrived at Fort Lincoln, where we camped for the night. Fort Lincoln is con-
structed of logs, hewn out and put up, and is a pretty strong structure. It is used for
the purpose of confining prisoners."

C. W. Goodlander, Early Days of Fort Scott (Fort Scott, Kan., 1900), p. 66: "In
the summer of 1861, Jim Lane had built a fort on the north side of the Osage River, and
named it Fort Lincoln. It was built on low bottom land that was no more a fit place for
a fort than where Knapp's Park is now located. This fort consisted of a stockade and a
large blockhouse. In later years this stockade and blockhouse were moved to Fort Scott and
located about the junction of Lowman and First Streets."



136 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

it was still filled with soldiers and all the southwestern government
business was transacted here. Business men began to move in
and build adjoining the Fort, until now it is the largest town in
southern Kansas, numbering between one and two thousand per-
manent, and as many more transient residents. 28 Good buildings
are going up in every part of town, the streets are constantly crowded
with people, and everything presents an air of life, enterprise and
progress. The Fort buildings are situated around a large square,
while the new town is built on adjoining the Fort.

Like all towns springing up in a day and containing a large tem-
porary population, Fort Scott is a "fast town." It would require no
effort to get up a race, a bet, a drunk, a fight, or any other little
amusement common among men. The town contains many well
stocked stores, a good hotel, a countless number of beer saloons,
a couple dozen of billiard tables, two or three ten pin alleys, &c.,
&c. The theater goers are accommodated with a barn fixed up
with temporary conveniences, supplied with two or three changes
of scenery, one or two tolerable performers for stars, and a half
dozen very scurvy stock performers. Running in a ravine is a small
stream of water, bordered as usual, with a thick growth of timber.
This timber is, at present, crammed with refugees and contrabands
from Missouri and Arkansas. . . .

Contrabands are increasing beyond the most extravagant aboli-
tion expectation throughout the entire Kansas border. Some esti-
mates place the daily emigration from Missouri at from fifty to one
hundred. They emigrate during the night, in squads or families,
accompanied generally by a span of good mules and a lumber wagon
with whatever portables they can seize upon. Some are glad to
get work and prove their manhood and usefulness; others lounge
in idleness, refusing good offers, preferring to live on the hospitality
of those who have erected little shanties and are earning a living.
Kansas men are pleased with every escape. . . .

I was introduced today to a Mr. Crawford, who came here in
1857, and, under the impression that this must sometime be a point,
bought a farm adjoining the Fort. 29 Until '60 he did but very little,

28. The city of Fort Scott grew up around the Western frontier outpost established by
U. S. dragoons in 1842 and named for Gen. Winfield Scott. The Fort was on a military
road at a point about midway between Fort Leavenworth and Fort Gibson. Troops were
withdrawn hi 1853 and the buildings sold to settlers two years later. The town was
incorporated in 1860. During the Civil War the Fort was re-established and it became
Union headquarters and supply depot for southeast Kansas.

29. George Addison Crawford was a native of Pennsylvania. On his arrival in Kansas
in 1857, he organized the Fort Scott Town Company and, with his associates, purchased
520 acres of land on which the city now stands. He built a sawmill, flour mill, woolen fac-
tory, foundry, machine shop, and in 1869 re-established the Fort Scott Daily Monitor. In
1861 he was given about two-thirds of the vote for governor, but his election was declared
illegal, and he was subsequently twice defeated as candidate for the Republican nomination
for that office. He was a founder of the towns of Osage Mission, now St. Paul, and Grand
Junction, Colo.



AN EDITOR LOOKS AT EARLY-DAY KANSAS 137

he said, except watch the prospects. In 1858 and 59 he was "blue
enough" his money all locked up in a large prairie farm with no
prospect of realizing anything or of seeing any more society. But
the rebellion came, and with it the soldiers and the business men.
He immediately laid off his farm into lots, and sold them as fast
as he could make out his deeds. I remarked to him that good fortune
had followed his three years of blues. "Yes," said he, "I'm in town
now." Today he is selling his lots at from $50 to $500 each. His
farm is yielding untold profit, and he is in the very midst of the
fastest society. . . .

Wood is worth here from $1.50 to $2.00 a cord, delivered, coal
$3.00 per ton. There is an excellent coal mine nine miles south
of town. Farming land, unimproved, can be bought for $1.50 per
acre, a mile or two from town. A good residence lot in town can
be bought for $50. Bourbon county is more level than any county
I have seen in the state. It is subject to drouth, and, although this
has been a remarkably good year, the crops and grass are decidedly
inferior to those of northern Kansas.

I met my old friend Capt. Tuft here, and Capt. J. Finn Hill, both
somewhat notorious in Kansas warfare. Finn Hill carries a very
important and brave look, but I am told, is of little account in the
service. Tuft is affable, good natured, very polite, and knows no
fear. He still adheres to his determination to "jayhawk no more,"
but desires to render himself useful in the service. He is enroute
for the army of Gen. Blunt. 30 C. M. C.

HUMBOLDT, ALLEN Co., KANSAS,
August 19th, 1863.

EDITOR SENTINEL: Fort Scott is the last southern settlement in
Kansas. A few miles further south and you enter the Indian
country, and see no more of the pale faces, except an occasional
man, well known and trusted by the red faces, who has located
in a little hut and engaged in stock raising. Then you are in the
"Sunny South," where winter is a stranger, and seldom visits, where
cattle graze the year around, requiring no harvest for their sup-
port, where the only cost of raising stock is the herding and mark-
ing.

From Fort Scott we turn west. Eight miles traveled, and we
are at Marmaton, formerly county seat of Bourbon county, a little
village containing a dozen houses, half of which are tenantless.
Here we stopped an hour and conversed with Mr. Representative

30. Tough served as chief of scouts with Brig. Gen. James Blunt of the Army of the
Frontier.



138 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

Jones, the man of this section. 31 Jones is more sensible than some
men. He is satisfied that his own town never will make a large
city. He would have been a rich man, though, if Fort Scott had
not "played a nasty trick on Marmaton, and stole the county seat." 32
His farm was all laid off into lots, and the lots were selling well,
when this "nasty trick" killed his expectations. His farm is now
worth about $3.00 per acre. . . . Jones had soliloquized after
this manner: "I own 160 acres of land. This land is all laid out
in village lots, each acre making four lots. I own 640 village lots.
This town is the county seat bound to grow can't help it
splendid country rich land no town near here everything is
all right. These lots will bring me from $25 to $500 each they
will average at least $100. I'm a rich man right in town
$64,000 on a two hundred dollar investment; that will do me."
Butthat "nasty trick."

From Marmaton we drove seventeen miles through uncultivated
prairie, passing but five or six small farms, to Chaffin's a little log
house which sometimes accommodates the hungry traveler. 83 Here
we took dinner and asked questions. Chaffin moved in here, from
Indiana, in 1855, entered his land and has been traveling up hill
ever since. Certain crops, he said, could not be raised in southern
Kansas. He had tried five successive years to raise oats, and each
year something had spoiled his crop. The drouth was common
every year, and in 1860 destroyed everything. Stock, he thought
the most profitable business for this section. I observed that
prairie grass was much thinner here than in the northern counties,
which he admitted, but said that stock never failed to do well in all
seasons on the prairie. "Here," said he, alluding to a pair of twins
on his knee, is the best strike I have made since I left "Injianny."
If he was to select another point, it would be on the Missouri or
Kansas river, where there was plenty of water, richer land, more
hills and less drouth.

Between Chaffin's and Humboldt we passed over an open,
slightly undulating prairie, a distance of eighteen miles without
seeing a house a charming ride for meditative men, who dislike
to have their thoughts diverted by surrounding objects. Humboldt,
a little burg of 200 inhabitants, and county seat of Allen county,

31. Probably William T. Jones, representative from Bourbon county in 1862.

32. Because of border troubles, the county seat of Bourbon county was moved tem-
porarily from Fort Scott to Marmaton by a legislative act of 1859. An election for the
purpose of relocating the county seat was held in May, 1863, and Fort Scott received
a majority of the votes cast.

33. Anthony and Elijah Chaffin are both shown in the 1860 census as settlers at
Turkey Creek, Bourbon county. This location, now Uniontown, was between Marmaton and
Humboldt.



AN EDITOR LOOKS AT EARLY-DAY KANSAS 139

was laid out in 1858. 34 It is called the key to the Neosho valley
one of the finest valleys in the state. If the rebels should incline
to devastate this valley they would have to pass through Humboldt.
In 1861 the rebel Cols. Williams and Mathews visited the town
with a small force and sacked nearly every house and store. The
next year immediately after Lane burned Osceola, Gen. Price sent
Col. Talbot to retaliate on Humboldt, which he did effectually,
leaving but one or two houses standing around the square. The
citizens of Humboldt have had their share of the evils of rebellion.
Col. Talbot not only sacked and burned, but killed some four or
five of the citizens who attempted to defend their property. 35

We spent the evening at Humboldt with a Mr. Thurston and
family. Mr. Thurston is a lawyer by profession owns a thriving
saw mill, and is state senator. 36 His house stands a half mile from
the stores on the bank of a stream, in the edge of the woods.
His law office is in his house, and his mill but a few rods off. He
has fine buildings, with all necessary appendages, including an
agreeable and accomplished wife. Mr. Thurston is a man of most
excellent moral principles an anomaly among Kansas politicians
a pure minded Douglas democrat, whose "higher law" is the Con-
stitution of the United States. He is in favor of fighting rebels until
the seed of that kind of evil is entirely rooted out of the soil. His
hate of rebels is intense. Of the enemies or traitors to the govern-
ment, he calls rebels rebels Vallandigham 37 democrats, eunuchs
Abolitionists, revolutionists. Either class, he thinks, would destroy
the government if it could, and bullets, he thinks, they all deserve.
Mrs. Thurston gave her experiences among rebels. The first time
they visited the town they ransacked her house from cellar to
garret, taking everything in the shape of clothing they could carry.
Mr. Thurston was absent and she determined to defend his prop-
erty as best she could. When they got through searching they set
the bed on fire; this she extinguished. Then they set the curtains
afire and various other places in the house were on fire at the

34. The townsite of Humboldt was located in March, 1857, by J. A. Coffey.

35. On September 8, 1861, Humboldt was raided by a band of Missouri guerrillas,
Cherokee and Osage half-breed Indians under the command of Captains Matthews and
Livingstone. Stores and dwellings were sacked. On October 14 of the same year, rebel
forces under Colonel Talbott invaded the town setting fire to buildings and homes. One
man was killed.

36. Olin Thurstin came from Ohio about 1857. He served as colonel of a regiment
of state militia during the Civil War.

37. Clement L. Vallandigham, lawyer and politician of Dayton, Ohio, opposed the
Civil War as unnecessary and unconstitutional and his bitter denunciation of the govern-
ment and the war policy led to his arrest in May, 1863. A military commission found him
guilty of disloyal utterances and conduct and he was sentenced to confinement during the
war, but Lincoln commuted the sentence to banishment beyond the Union lines. He fled
to Canada but returned to his home in 1864 without interference and again became active
in the Democratic party.



140 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

same time. All, however, were put out by the indefatigable efforts
of Mrs. Thurston, who was alone in the house. The rebels, admir-
ing her activity and bravery, gave up the job. The second time she
played "possum" by feigning sickness. She heard the command
given, to fire the house, but when the captain entered her room,
he had compassion on her, and countermanded the order. He
would search for arms, he said, and withdraw his men, hoping his
intrusion would not distress her. C. M. C.

SAC & Fox AGENCY, FRANKLIN [OSAGE?] Co., KANSAS
August 21st, 1863.

EDITOR SENTINEL: We left Humboldt yesterday morning, turning
northwest up the Neosho Valley, passing through the northeast
corner of Woodson, into Coffey, and stopped for the night in Frank-
lin county, at Irishman Drum's, said Drum being a farmer located
beside a pretty grove, and miles from any other living man. Drum
did not set himself up as a hotel keeper, but was willing to give us
the best he had, which, as we had traveled fifty miles since breakfast,
and there being no other house for fifteen miles beyond, we con-
cluded to accept. Drum's log house contained but one room, and
was hardly sufficient to accommodate his own family, consisting of a
wife and six tenor Drums little drums, I mean young ones. There
were two travellers besides the General and myself, making twelve
in all to sleep in Drum's kitchen. The General and I took the floor
with the little Drums scattered all around us in promiscuous confu-
sion. The other two travellers took the spare bed. We all determined
to make the best of it, and get all the sleep we could; but the room
was too densely populated to admit the possibility of realizing any
great expectation in that direction.

The lights had scarcely been extinguished, when the whooping
cough, or something else, set one of the little Drums to drumming.
He rattled away for an hour incessantly, except when spelled by
some other little Drum on a different key. Once or twice all the
little Drums were going together, making the most awful calli-
thumpian band I ever heard. The Drums had but fairly ceased
when one of the travellers, in the spare bed, suddenly bounded into
the middle of the floor, and swore several large mouthfuls, without
stopping. Unfortunately he and his companion had gotten into a
bed-bug highway, where there was too much travel for sleep.
During the whole night one or the other of them was constantly
in the middle of the floor scratching and "harking for bugs." Sweet
sleep ne'er came to our eyelids; all night long we were constantly



AN EDITOR LOOKS AT EARLY-DAY KANSAS 141

scratching, turning and yawning, and yawning, turning and scratch-
ing. Morning came and we were out early, if not bright. Bed-bugs
are the curse of new countries.

The Valley of Neosho is said to be one of the finest and most
beautiful portions of Kansas. The Neosho is a small, but pretty
stream, supplied with numerous little tributaries, all of which are
well timbered.

The first village we passed was Neosho Falls. Here we stopped
for dinner, and I made the acquaintance of one Mr. Phillips, the
first settler in these parts. 38 He came from Iowa in 1857, hunted
the state all over, and finally concluding that the Neosho Falls must
sometime make a point, he entered his land and blocked out his
town. The county grew fast until it numbered about a thousand
inhabitants, when the troubles came on and progress of all kind
stopped. Mr. Phillips' farm which promised so much, is worth now
not to exceed five dollars per acre. The village will always be a
little inland center, but can never aspire to anything more. It now
contains a hotel, a store, a Doctor's office, a mill and about twenty
dwellings.

Mr. Phillips conducted me down to the mill dam, and said if I
liked fishing, and would stay over a day, he would show me some
sport. Mr. Phillips, with five other men, had on several occasions
"caught, in three hours, 400 pounds of fish out of that very dam"
a good fish story, I thought. He said they caught catfish there
every season weighing over a hundred pounds. These statements
were more than corroborated by the people in town.

On the rocks below the dam, we crossed the river and visited the
camps of the Seminole Indians. All there is left of that once power-
ful tribe, which gave Uncle Sam so long a struggle in Florida, and
put him to so many million dollars cost, is now encamped at Neosho
Falls. They number only about 3,000. Their warriors are all in the
Union army. By treaty the Government provides their necessary
wants. All they do is to draw their rations and cook them, occasion-
ally catching fish or picking a few berries, which they sell in the
village for rum money. Their time is spent lounging in the shade
or tents supplied by the Government. I visited nearly all the tents,
and spoke a few words to the inmates; but the Indian "umprT was
the only notice I could command. The little "injuns" at our ap-

38. N. S. Goss and I. W. Dow are generally credited with the founding of Neosho Falls
in 1857. After selecting the site and calculating the potential water power, they built a mill
which subsequently produced lumber for the homes of settlers. The names of John Phillips,
farmer, and William Phillips, wheelwright, appear in the census of 1860 as residents of
Neosho Falls.



142 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

proach would disappear in the brush and peep out from behind the
leaves. The Seminoles have always been slave holders. They have
several families of their slaves with them in this tremendously free
state of Kansas. We visited the slaves' camp a few rods away from
the camp of the Indians. . . .

From Neosho Falls to Leroy, six or eight miles, we passed no set-
tlements, but one continued stretch of uncultivated, slightly rolling
prairie. The prairie all through this section is covered with a large
yellow flower; it resembles the sunflower, but is much smaller. In
some places near the towns they were ten feet high, and so thick as
to be almost impenetrable. Further out on the prairie they dwindle
down to one foot or less. Some say the presence of these flowers
indicates a poor quality of prairie soil, others that they usually grow
where the prairie is stocked. The former is the more probable rea-
son. In northern Kansas I noticed on the prairies which were
well stocked nothing but pure prairie grass, while in southern
Kansas, in places where stock has never been over, I noticed a large
mixture of flowers and weeds. The truth is northern Kansas is the
best farming country.

Leroy is the largest place I have seen since leaving Fort Scott.
It really seemed quite lively there. Everything, however, seemed
dirty and neglected. There are several stores, a mill, a tavern, two
or three law offices, &c., and about 500 people in the village.

From Leroy to this place a distance of 35 miles there are no white
settlements except Drum's. As we approach the Agency we enter
the settlements of the Sacs and Foxes. The government by treaty
built a large number of good and strong buildings on their lands,
most of which are now occupied by the Indians who partially culti-
vate the land and behave themselves very much like white folks.
Among them is occasionally a good farmer but most of them are
lazy and their lands are neglected. This tribe all dress as we do and
some of them speak the English language. At the Agency is a store,
a hotel, a large mission school and twenty or thirty houses. 39 There
are but few whites in town. The store, I am told, clears nearly
$50,000 per year. Only this one merchant is allowed to trade with
this tribe.

The mission school generally contains about sixty scholars. Today
Commissioner [W. P.] Dole is expected from Washington to treat



Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) → online text (page 16 of 59)