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Was Once Quite a Town," by Ed Guilinger, February 21.

"The Abilene Promoter," an article on Joseph G. McCoy and
Abilene when it was a cowtown, by Joe Sanders, was printed in
The Cattleman, Fort Worth, Tex., February, 1960.

"It's Worth Repeating," Heinie Schmidt's historical column in the
High Plains Journal, Dodge City, included the following articles in
recent months: "Lewis History Identified With Edwards Physician
[Dr. Frank G. Meckfessel]," February 18, 25, 1960; a history of the
Kansas Cowboy of Dodge City, March 3; "Colorado Old Timers
[George Glenn, Howard Anderson, R. J. Lamborn] Tell About Open
Range Days," March 10; "Hardships, Dangers Recounted in Kansas
Blizzards," March 17; and "Biographies [of Alexander H. Swan, Wil-
liam "Bill" Tilghman, James Henry Cook] Show Panorama of Fron-
tier History," April 7.

With the issue of February 25, 1960, the Belleville Telescope
began printing a series of sketches of Republic county history from
A. O. Savage's History of Republic County, published in 1883.

Kansas Historical Notes

Perce Harvey was elected president of the Shawnee County
Historical Society at a meeting of the board of trustees in Topeka,
January 8, 1960. Horace Wilkie was chosen vice-president, Mrs.
Grace Menninger was re-elected secretary, and Mrs. Frank Kam-
bach, treasurer.

Officers of the recently organized Rush County Historical So-
ciety include: Fay O. Jennings, president; H. G. Ficken, Ted Appl,
Mrs. Milton Krug, and Jerry Bornholdt, vice-presidents; Robert
Hamilton, co-ordinator; W. Bryan Jefferies, secretary; Stanley T.
Merrill, treasurer; Mrs. Harry Grass, corresponding secretary; and
Dick Ramsey, publicity director.

Temporary officers elected by the newly organized Gray County
Historical Society at a meeting in Cimarron, March 7, 1960, were:
Francis Hamlin, chairman; Helen Riepl, cochairman; Alice Dill-
man, secretary; and Merle Dillman, treasurer. The following were
elected vice-chairmen from over the county: Helen Rennie, Faye
Ward, Lillibelle Egbert, and Edna Nance.

A Barton County Historical Society was formed at a meeting of
about 50 persons in Great Bend, March 11, 1960. Ray S. Schulz
was chosen temporary president of the society. Assisting in the
organization was I. N. "J&o" Hewitt, special representative of the
Kansas Centennial Commission.

Mrs. Walter Umbach was re-elected president of the Ford His-
torical Society at a meeting in Ford, March 16, 1960. Other officers
chosen were: Mrs. Harold Patterson, vice-president; Mrs. Addie
Plattner, secretary and treasurer; Mrs. Lyman Emrie, historian;
and Mrs. W. P. Warner, custodian.

Officers of the Fort Riley Historical Society, elected at a meeting
of the directors at Fort Riley, March 18, 1960, are: Maj. Gen.
Theodore W. Parker, honorary president; Robert K. Weary, presi-
dent; Col. A. E. Forsyth and Lt. Col. Orval Abel, vice-presidents;
Lt. Edward J. O'Connell, secretary; and Col. E. B. Skinner, treas-
urer. M/Sgt. L. E. Downer is curator of the society's museum.
Lee Rich was the retiring president.

The Augusta Historical Society met April 1, 1960, and elected
the following officers: W. M. Hedrick, president; Maymie Kibbey,



vice-president; Florence Hudson, secretary; and Mrs. Ethel Shriver,
treasurer. Stella B. Haines was the retiring president, having
served many years.

Leslie A. Powell, Marion, was named president; Al Riffel, Lin-
colnville, vice-president; and Mrs. O. J. Shields, Lost Springs,
secretary-treasurer, of the Marion County Historical Society at an
organizational meeting of the directors held in Marion, April 4,
1960. Directors of the society include: J. V. Friesen and Prof.
S. L. Loewen, Hillsboro; Mrs. Floyd Rice, Florence; Charles A.
Borton, Durham; Ben J. Klaassen, Goessel; F. G. Unruh, Lehigh;
Mrs. S. H. Bennett, Peabody; Mrs. Henry Shubert, Ramona; Mrs.
Leonard Bezdek, Tampa; Vladimir Urbanek, Pilsen; Charles Brun-
ner, Burns; and Ed Navrat, Marion.

The 34th annual meeting of the Kansas Association of Teachers of
History and the Social Sciences was held in El Dorado, April 8, 9,
1960. Speakers and their subjects included: Dr. Preston W. Slos-
son, Kansas State University, "Dictatorships in Modern Fiction";
Vaclav Mudroch, University of Kansas, "Herbert Butterfield's View
of History"; C. Robert Haywood, Southwestern College, "Mer-
cantilism in the Southern Colonies"; Mark Plummer, University of
Kansas, "Governor Crawford and the Appointment of a U. S. Sen-
ator"; Robert W. Richmond, state archivist, Kansas State Historical
Society, "The Lighter Side of Kansas History"; and Rolla Clymer,
El Dorado publisher, discussed the work and plans of the Kansas
Centennial Commission. New officers elected were: W. Stitt Rob-
inson, University of Kansas, president; Sister Evangeline Thomas,
Marymount College, vice-president; and John Zimmerman, Kansas
State Teachers College, Emporia, secretary-treasurer. Edwin J.
Walbourn, El Dorado Junior College, was the retiring president.

In 1959 the University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, published a
374-page book entitled Issues and Conflicts Studies in Twentieth
Century American Diplomacy. Composed of a group of essays,
the volume was edited by Dr. George L. Anderson of the Uni-
versity of Kansas. Among the essays is "The Contriving Brain as
the Pivot of History . . .," by Dr. James C. Malin.

The Roguish World of Doctor Brinkley, by Gerald Carson, pub-
lished recently by Rinehard and Company, is a 280-page biography
of Dr. John R. Brinkley, Kansas' medical maverick and three-time
candidate for governor.



Autumn 1960


Published by

Kansas State Historical Society



Managing Editor Editor Associate Editor



OF 1879 Glen Schwendemann, 233


EUGENE WARE AND DR. S ANGER: The Code of Political Ethics,

1872-1892 James C. Malin, 255


Charles Monroe Chase Concluded Edited by Lela Barnes, 267

Continued Nyle H. Miller and Joseph W. Snell, 302




The Kansas Historical Quarterly is published four times a year by the Kansas
State Historical Society, 120 W. Tenth St., Topeka, Kan. It is distributed
without charge to members of the Society; nonmembers may purchase single
issues, when available, for 75 cents each. Membership dues are: annual, $3;
annual sustaining, $10; life, $20. Membership applications and dues should be
sent to Mrs. Lela Barnes, treasurer.

Correspondence concerning articles for the Quarterly should be addressed to
the managing editor. The Society assumes no responsibility for statements made
by contributors.

Second-class postage has been paid at Topeka, Kan.


Downtown Topeka as it appeared in the horse-and-buggy
days: looking south from Sixth and Kansas in 1873. The large
building in the center, slightly altered, still stands. It is currently
occupied by Parkview Drugs. For a description of Topeka in
1873 see pp. 294-297.


Volume XXVI Autumn, 1960 Number 3

Wyandotte and the First "Exodusters" of 1879


FROM the stage of the Topeka Opera House, Gov. John P. St.
John looked out upon the great crowd thronging the build-
ing. At 7:30, a half hour before the meeting was to commence, the
hall had been completely filled, some people even standing in
the aisles. The gathering, for which the churches of the city had
dismissed their evening congregations on this Sunday, April 20,
1879, had been called to consider the problem of providing relief
for the destitute freedmen from the South who were pouring into
the state. 1

The governor could have recalled the events responsible for this
meeting with little difficulty. Since early March, the Negroes from
the river parishes and counties of Louisiana and Mississippi had
been pushing up the Mississippi river aboard steamboats bound
for Kansas. Most of the migrants, however, became stalled in St.
Louis from lack of money, and were only able to resume their
journey to Kansas with the help of their colored brethren of that
city. 2 To those who had watched the northward progress of the
migration, it came as no surprise, therefore, when the first group
of 150 to 200 freedmen arrived at Wyandotte, Kan., during the
week of March 23 aboard the steamer Fannie Lewis. B

Wyandotte, which was conspicuously located at the junction
of the Missouri and Kansas rivers, a short distance from the state
line, was the first Kansas town of importance encountered en route
from St. Louis. 4 This feature, which had previously aided the

GLEN SCHWENDEMANN, native of Oklahoma and graduate of the University of Oklahoma,
Norman, is teaching in the Torrance, Calif., public schools.

1. For an account of the Opera House meeting see the Topeka Daily Capital, April
21, 1879, and the Topeka Commonwealth, April 22, 1879. Although the Commonwealth
announced the meeting for 7:00 P. M., the Daily Capital gave the opening time as 8:00.

2. Glen Schwendemann, "Negro Exodus to Kansas: First Phase, March-July, 1879"
(unpublished master's thesis, Department of History, University of Oklahoma, 1957), pp.

3. Wyandotte Herald, April 3, 1879. See, also, the Kansas City (Mo.) Journal of
unknown date as quoted in the Topeka Commonwealth, April 2, 1879.

4. From its settlement in 1857 until after the Civil War Wyandotte was rivaled only
by the former "free-state" town of Quindaro, a few miles north on the Missouri river,
and Armstrong, a small settlement to the south. After 1865, however, Kansas City,
Kan. (1869), Rosedale (1872), and Argentine and Armourdale (1880) were laid out,
all of which form modern Kansas City, Kan. "Kansas City, Kansas," Encyclopaedia
Britannica, 15th ed., v. 13, pp. 263, 264.



growth of the settlement, had now become a liability, being mainly
responsible for the flood of destitute Negroes soon to descend upon
the city. For following the arrival of the Fannie Lewis, came the
steamer Joe Kinney on March 31 with 350 migrants on its deck,
while the largest group ever to arrive in Wyandotte, 450, came
aboard the E. H. Durfee on April 6. 5

The astonished residents of Wyandotte had witnessed the in-
vasion of close to 1,000 migrants in less than two weeks. Two
colored churches, the Methodist and Christian, opened their doors
to these travelers, and the church of the "Christian Brotherhood"
sheltered some even though it was unfinished. Many of the new-
comers naturally resided with the colored people of the city, 6 and
a large detachment had been sent to nearby Quindaro, where
they were housed on the Freedmen's University campus. 7 With
this sudden influx of dependent Negroes, numbering almost one-
fourth of the population of the community, 8 it was small wonder
that the whistle of every boat filled the residents of Wyandotte
with "anxious thoughts." 9

The seriousness of the situation was brought to the governor's
attention by a letter from A. N. Moyer, a real estate man of Wyan-
dotte. With the endorsement of the Rev. R. M. Tunnell of the
First Congregational church, Moyer urged the intervention of the
state government as a "war measure." Besides making it plain he
wanted the newcomers to "move on," he showed particular con-
cern regarding the possible outbreak of disease as a result of the
migrants, and the probability that an epidemic would spread into
other cities of the state. 10 "Many are sick," explained Moyer, "and
their dead are scattered along the way. The dead and dying you
could see at any time were you here to look about you." n

5. Wyandotte Herald, April 3 and 10, 1879, and Kansas Pilot, Kansas City, April

6. On April 24, 1879, the Wyandotte Herald remarked that "there is as much
difference between these Southern niggers and the colored people of Wyandott as there
is between day and night."

7. The Freedmen's University was founded by the Rev. Eben Batchley in 1857 in
the then flourishing Free-State town of Quindaro. Following the Civil War the com-
munity declined and the university passed into the hands of the colored men of the city.
They placed it in the hands of the African Methodist church of Quindaro when it was
chartered as Western University. The institution led a precarious existence until 1899
when the state began appropriating money for its operation. William E. Connelley, History
of Kansas State and People (Chicago, 1928), v. 2, p. 1076.

8. In 1879 the population of Wyandotte was 4,612, exclusive of the migrants then in
the city. This was an increase of 400 over the previous year. See an unofficial census
taken by a "Capt. Nelson" as reported in the Wyandotte Herald, April 17, 1879.

9. Letter, A. N. Moyer of Wyandotte to Gov. John P. St. John, April 7, 1879.
"Governor's Correspondence," Archives division, Kansas State Historical Society.

10. The spread of yellow fever was a constant danger. The arrival of the Negroes
and their filthy baggage was especially feared since they came from areas frequently
plagued by this disease.

11. Letter, A. N. Moyer to Gov. John P. St. John, April 7, 1879. "Governor's Cor-
respondence," loc. cit.


Meanwhile, these unfortunates had been provided with what-
ever the citizens of Wyandotte could supply. But as the numbers
grew and demands became greater, it was necessary to put relief
on a more organized basis. Accordingly, a public meeting was
held on the afternoon of April 8 in the city hall. It was agreed
that the newcomers "should be aided only to such extent as they
are unable to help themselves," and assistance was pledged to
the migrants "in continuing their search for homes/' A committee
of five persons was appointed to carry out the wishes of the meet-
ing. 12

If the situation had formerly been considered serious, it now
began to assume the aspect of desperation. The governor recalled
having received a telegram from Mayor J. S. Stockton, asking
for the sake of "God and humanity/' for help in transporting 400
of the newcomers from the city. 13 More alarming, however, was
the news that on April 13, the steamer Joe Kinney had made its
second appearance in the city with around 200 more migrants,
while over 300 had left St. Louis April 14 on the E. H. Durfee. 1 *

With the continued arrival of the freedmen, a part of the local
citizenry, including some members of the relief committee, began
calling for force to prevent future landings. Criticism was also
directed at the relief group. In answer to a charge in the Kansas
City (Mo.) Journal, that Wyandotte would like to rid herself of
the Negroes, but that the committee was not "the most efficient
organization in the world," R. M. Tunnell, speaking for the group,
listed the following accomplishments: medical attention had been
provided, a daily supply of bread was furnished, and, although
meat was not available daily, the newcomers were receiving more
than they were accustomed to. Most important, however, was the
news that plans had been made to transport the migrants from the
city as soon as money was available. Up to April 15 the committee
had received only $6! This meant, of course, that the local resi-
dents had contributed practically no money, but rather had made
their donations in kind. Little could have been expected from
solicitations made in New York, Chicago, and Kansas newspapers,

12. Wyandotte Herald, April 10, 1879. The committee consisted of Mayor J. S.
Stockton, Councilman Dan Williams, O. C. Palmer, the Rev. Anthony Kuhls of the St.
Mary's Catholic church, and the Rev. R. M. Tunnell.

13. Telegram, J. S. Stockton to Gov. John P. St. John, April 12, 1879. "Governor*!
Correspondence," loc, cit.

14. Wyandotte Hertld, April 17, 1879, and the Atchison Daily Champion, April 16,


for scarcely a week had elapsed since these appeals had been
placed. 15

Nevertheless, the citizens of the community demanded a release
from the burden of caring for so many indigent persons, and
Mayor Stockton, as chairman of the relief committee, was forced
to take action. To expedite the matter, an executive committee
was appointed. The most pressing problem confronting the new
group was the lack of funds with which to work. It, therefore,
immediately appealed to "The Generous Citizens'* of the country
to help relieve the "1,70 [0] entirely destitute" and the "thousands
more in the same destitute condition" en route from the South. 16

With the conditions then prevailing in the community, the com-
mittee realized that the only proper course was to provide trans-
portation from the city as fast as possible while working to turn
the tide in other directions. Until then, however, the newcomers
had to be fed. If the members entertained hope of obtaining
provisions from Fort Leavenworth, this was soon abandoned when
Mayor George W. Shelley of Kansas City, Kan., telegraphed Sec-
retary of War George W. McCrary, asking for provisions from
the fort. The secretary replied that he lacked authority to comply
with such a request and advised the mayor to petition congress for
the desired aid. 17

As the hope for an adequate supply of relief material faded,
the migrants, the objects of so much solicitation, were promising
to increase. With the news of the approach of the steamer E. H.
Durfee, came also rumors that "Drought Rifles" might have to be
used to prevent the landing of the vessel. 18 Mayor Stockton had
taken the unprecedented action of proclaiming "most respectfully,
but emphatically/' that Wyandotte would hold everyone concerned
with transporting destitute persons into the city "to the strictest

15. Topeka Commonwealth, April 17, 1879. V. J. Lane testified that the relief
committee received some money but used it to build a barrack on Walker road instead of
transporting the Negroes away. See "Report and Testimony of the Select Committee of the
United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes From the
Southern States to the Northern States," Senate Report No. 693, 46th Cong., 2d Sess.,
1880, pt. 3, pp. 326, 327. N. C. McFarland, in his account of his trip to Wyandotte, re-
ported giving $100 to help move the building to a more convenient location. Topeka
Commonwealth, April 24, 1879, and the Topeka Daily Capital, April 24, 1879.

16. Atchison Daily Champion, April 17, 1879, and the St. Louis (Mo.) Post-Dispatch,
April 17, 1879. The executive committee consisted of V. J. Lane, G. W. Bishop, and
George H. Miller, superintendent of the Kansas Institution for Education of the Blind.

17. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1879.

18. See the Leavenworth Times, April 19, 1879, as quoted in the Topeka Common-
wealth, April 20, 1879. The Wyandotte Herald, as quoted in the Topeka Commonwealth,
April 27, 1879, referred to the stories concerning "Drought Bifles" as "sheer fabrications,"
and stated that while the people would be "inclined to do all they can to discourage"
the migrants from coming, they would not place themselves "in an attitude of hostility
to the laws of th country."


legal consequences and penalties of the law attaching to such of-
fense." 19

While the prevention of more migrants entering the city would
have been a rewarding accomplishment, the members of the relief
committee realized that the problem confronting Wyandotte would
thereby be only partially solved. A new appeal for funds must
be made. Now, however, the committee apparently decided to
so phrase their plea that success would be more likely. Either
this motive, or extreme emotion would have caused the members
to declare, quite erroneously, that there were "still 1,000 [Negroes]
in our midst perishing daily for want of proper food and shelter" 20
The appeal continued:

Surrounded by the present horde of sick, dying and destitute men, women
and children that must starve unless the generous-hearted people of the United
States will respond to our call for aid; . . . with our city to-day almost
a general hospital, business largely suspended, we ask in the name of our
common humanity, donations of money to provide for and forward these
suffering and destitute . . . [migrants]. 21

Such a petition, of course, could not fail to produce results, and
money began coming in, at least enough to send a group of 100
of the Negro families to Lawrence, which had previously agreed
to receive some of the newcomers. The executive committee made
arrangements for the transportation of the group on Saturday,
April 19. 22 With the great number of migrants then in the city,
it was, of course, no problem to find the 300 Negroes finally sent
to Lawrence. This was only the first of several shipments made to
neighboring towns. At a later date 28 migrants were sent to
Tonganoxie, 140 to Leavenworth, 200 to Manhattan, and 250 to
Ottawa, in addition to 150, who left Wyandotte on their own re-
sources. 23

Wyandotte's neighbors were not the only ones who had finally
taken an interest. The New York Daily Tribune, appealing for aid
for the Negroes, compared the exodus to the flight of the Israelites
of old, but unlike their predecessors, the freedmen from the South
had "no pillar of fire and cloud to lead them; no bread from Heaven

19. As quoted in the Topeka Commonwealth, April 20, 1879.

20. The italics are mine. There were closer to 1,300 migrants in the city at this time.

21. Topeka Commonwealth, April 20, 1879.

22. Wyandotte Herald, April 24, 1879. See, also, a letter, from a "D. Shelton" to
Gov. John P. St. John, April 21, 1879. "Governor's Correspondence," loc. cit. Shelton was
in the Kansas Pacific railroad offices when arrangements for the shipment were made by

8 1 ^S^oo* 66 o A?" 1 18 - n See > als > V. J. Lane's account of the shipment in Senate
Report 693, pt. 3, pp. 326, 327.

XT 23> Wy a ndotte Herald, April 24, 1879. For other reports on the distribution of
?oln es c by Wyandotte, see ibid., May 1, 1879, and the Topeka Daily Capital, April 25,
1879. Some of the migrants remained behind and erected a little village on some public
land near the levee. See the testimony of W. J. Buchan of Wyandotte in Senate Report
oyo, pt. o, p. 4oo.


to feed them." While there were those able to extend a hand of
relief, pleaded the Tribune, let it not be said that "God's help has
failed for them out of the world!" 24

Of more immediate satisfaction to the residents of Wyandotte,
however, was the action of the capital city. The Topeka Com-
monwealth, taking its cue from the Tribune, asked if it would not
be wise for Kansas to organize a state relief group to properly
distribute the money that would soon be pouring into the state.
Not only that, but "advice as to where those people should go/'
individuals to "select lands, make arrangements for transportation,
and the thousand details of such a movement/' would be needed.
*We trust/' concluded the Commonwealth, "that the Mayor, or per-
haps what might be better, the Governor, will take such steps as
may be deemed the best to devise a plan which will best effect
the object desired." 25

The governor was not averse to such humanitarian labors, 26 and
undoubtedly quickly assented to lend his time and influence for
the relief of the migrants. As a result, a call for the meeting,
signed by Governor St. John and over 60 of the leading personal-
ities of Topeka and the state, appeared in the Sunday morning,
April 20, edition of the Commonwealth. This journal viewed the
proposed meeting with such concern that it recommended "every
citizen having interest in the welfare of our city and State" to at-
tend. To remain silent, warned the article, "may now be a crime." 27

With these events as a background for this momentous meet-
ing, Governor St. John rose to speak to a hushed and serious
audience. To speculate upon the causes of the exodus, began
the governor, would now be idle and untimely. The inescapable
question was simply what Kansas was going to do with those al-
ready arrived and the thousands more en route from the South.
Gould Kansas reject her glorious history on behalf of the down-
trodden Negro? No! That was precisely the reason the freed-
men were now pouring into the state. Could Kansas turn her
back upon a people whose blood had mingled with that of the

Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) → online text (page 27 of 59)