Thomas F Robley.

History of Bourbon County, Kansas. To the close of 1865 online

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


At this time there were in Fort Scott and Bourbon
County about thirty negro slaves, owned by various
families from the slave States. They were legally held
as such under the Dred Scott decision. Kansas was
slave Territory.

Slaves were bought and sold in this countv as late as


August, 1857. The records of the county show that
Wiley Patterson purchased a negro woman slave of
James M. Rucker for $500.00 at that date.


Early in March, 1857, Governor Geary sent his res-
ignation in a letter to St. Louis, the nearest telegraph
station, to be telegraphed from there to Washington.
He followed it himself soon after, and left the Terri-
tory somewhat hastily.

"He tuck his hat and lef ' very sudden
L,ike he gwine to run away,"

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

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



Bourbon County had now began to attract more
attention and become better known to the people of
the East and North. The few settlers who had found
their way down here "writ back." While their letters
did not bear any very encouraging word about the state
of political affairs or the peaceful condition of the
people, they did tell of a beautiful country, genial skies,
a spring that opened in March instead of May, and an
opportunity for getting land enough so that "John"
and "Mary" could both have a farm when they "come
of age. ' '

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


determined to "go with their States" and let Kansas go
Free Trade and Woman's Rights if it wanted to, or go
to any other place, they were going home where they
could get some of "mother's cooking."

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

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

Among those who came in this spring were the
following :

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

John G. Stuart came July 1. He was born in Halifax,


N. S., February 10, 1834. He established the first
wagon shop in Fort Scott.

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

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

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

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

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

The town at that time consisted entirely of the houses


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

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


About the ist of June, 1857, a party arrived at Fort
Scott, which had been made up at Lawrence, Kansas,
consisting of Norman Eddy of Indiana, Geo. A. Craw-
ford of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, D. H. Weir of In-
diana, and E. W. Holbrook of Michigan. Their purpose
in coming to Fort Scott was, principally, to organize a
town company. The town had been incorporated by
act of the Legislature of 1855, as has been stated. A
"Town Company" had already done some wind work
and formed a "curbstone 1 ' organization, consisting of
C. B. Wingfield, G. W.Jones, S. A. Williams and others.
The Wingfield Company, as it was called, had no title
to any land described in the act of the Legislature in-
corporating the "Town of Fort Scott, 1 ' nor did anybody
else. Claims had been filed on the different parts of
sections by different parties, and the Wingfield company


designed to acquire title to the townsite under the
pre-emption laws.

On the 8th day of June, 1857, according to the original
record, the Fort Scott Town Company "made condi-
tional purchase, and took possession of the 'claims'
known as the site of Fort Scott," and organized the
company with the following named members : D. H.
Weir, D. W. Holbrook, E. S. Lowman, W. R. Judsou,
G. W. Jones, H. T. Wilson, Norman Eddy, George A.
Crawford and T. R. Blackburn.

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

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

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

George A. Crawford was born in Pine Creek Township
Clinton County, Pennsylvania, on July 27, 1827. His
ancestors were well known and active in the Revolution.
He spent his boyhood in Clinton County, and received
his higher education at Clinton Academy. After he


had finished his education he went to Salem, Kentucky,
where he taught school, and in 1847 he taught in the
high schools of Canton, Mississippi. In 1848 he
returned to Pennsylvania and studied law.

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

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

Mr. Crawford had a more extended acquaintance and
close personal friendship with prominent men of the
Nation than any man in the West. He was familiar
with all sections and all men. Polished and peculiarly
social in his manner, he was as much at home in the
political and diplomatic circles of Washington as he
was in the squatter's cabin. Had his inclinations been


for a political career he could have easily attained great
prominence. But the bent of his disposition was to be
at the head of large commercial and manufacturing
enterprises. For this, he chose this State and
particularly Fort Scott as the basis of his operations.
He succeeded well for several years, considering the
disjointed period of civil war, and had laid the founda-
tion of his future hopes. But circumstances, which so
often attack the affairs of men, combined with the
elements for his overthrow. He saw his mills and
factories swept away by fire in an hour's time, leaving
him struggling and helpless in the quick-sand of
unrelentive fate. The divinity which shapes the affairs
of men could come to him no more. It had passed by
his door forever.

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

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


The United States Land Office for this District was
located at Fort Scott in the Spring of 1857. Epapliro-
ditus Ransom was appointed Receiver, and G. W.
Clark, under the name of Doak, was appointed

On the 10th of July, Hon. Joseph Williams took the
oath of office before Secretary Stanton, as Associate


Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court. He arrived
at Fort Scott soon after, bringing with him his wife
and four sons, Mason, Kennedy, Joseph and William,
and immediately entered upon the duties of his office.
He had lived many years in Muscatine and Burlington,
Iowa, where he had been on the bench "twenty-one
years a judge in Iowa" as he invariably instructed the
jury in his charge. He was a weak man, easily
influenced, and without personal dignity.


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

B. P. McDonald came to Fort Scott from Lock
Haven, Pennsylvania. He was then a boy of 17. He
took up a timber claim soon after his arrival here, and
after the sawmill started he employed men in cutting
and hauling logs to the mill where he worked as a
hand himself, and from the proceeds of his lumber he
made enough to start him in business with his brother,
Alexander McDonald. In 1861 the firm of A. Mc-
Donald & Brother turned their attention to freighting
in addition to their other mercantile business and
afterwards added a banking department. In 1867 he
purchased the entire business and continued it in his
own name until 1869. He then closed out the
business except the banking department, which he,
with C. F. Drake and others afterward organized into
the First National Bank. He was always foremost


in aiding all railroad enterprises looking towards Fort
Scott, and in 1874 he took hold individually of a
railway project for a road in a southeastern direction
from Fort Scott, and after completing a section of
several miles he finally transfered it to the Kansas City,
Fcrt Scott and Gulf Railroad Company, and his
conception and original labors resulted in the con-
struction of the great trunk line to Memphis, Tennes-

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

Joseph Ray came from Michigan. He was another
of the young men who came here to seek his fortune,
only he didn't want any fortune except to be able to
give to anybody and everybody in need. That was Joe.
He was the life of any party or company, and had a
smile and a joke for every one on every occasion.
There is no man in the long list of the early settlers
who have passed away whose memory is kept greener
than is his.

William Gallaher arrived on the 1st of August from
Illinois, originally from Pennsylvania. He was also
quite a young man. He was, however, more lucky
than some of the other boys, for he got a splendid
situation soon after his arrival. He was appointed
postmaster — the third one for Fort Scott — which posi-


tion paid him over twenty-four hundred — cents a year.
But he went into the army and lost it all.

Charles Dimon came from New York. Charley was
a good fellow, but he had one bad habit, that was corns
on his feet.

Ed. A. Smith, Burns Gordon, Albert H. Campbell
and A. R. Allison were also boys of the class of '57.
They all graduated with honor in that school the like
of which will never again be opened. School is out,
and the teacher is dead.


The boys who came in this year and the men who
had no families with them generally boarded at the
Fort Scott Hotel, or the "Free State Hotel," as it was
better known. It was under the management of
Charley Dimon, with Ben McDonald and Charley Bull,
and most any of the other boys, as clerks. Will Gallaher
kept his postoffice there. This hotel was the building
on the West corner of the Plaza, built by the Govern-
ment for officers quarters, and now owned and occupied
by Hon. William Margrave. It was first opened as a
hotel by Col. Arnett soon after the post was abandoned
in 1854, and was then the first and only hotel in the
county. In the Spring of 1857, it was run by the
Casey Bros. Later Charley Dimon took charge of it,
and continued in it until January, 1859.

This house is a historical landmark. In 1857 it
acquired the name of "The Free State Hotel," which
it retained for many years. If its walls could talk it
could beat this history all to pieces.




^TT was now the beginning of autumn. The spring
^or) season had opened favorably for the farmers, and
wherever they had been permitted to stay at home
and work, the prospect was good for abundant

\ crops. Everything seemed to be reasonably quiet in
' this part of the Territory, although it was a forced
quiet, and there was much feeling of unrest and appre-
hension among the people.

The political talk was about the approaching Pro-
slavery convention to frame a State Constitution, which
was to be held at Lecompton.

As has been noted, the Legislature had passed an act
providing for the election of delegates to this conven-
tion, on the 15th of June, 1857. The Free State men
had, with something like concert of action all over the
Territory, let the election of these delegates go by de-
fault. They felt that there was no chance for an ex-
pression of Free State opinions, and no guarantee that
it would be anything but a repetition of the villainous
frauds and outrages which had heretofore taken place
under the name of ''election."

The Free State men, however, began to realize that


immigration had in reality now placed their party in
the majority. Their confidence and courage were
strengthened, and hope renewed. But the delegates
were already elected.

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

The Convention met at Lecompton on the 7th of
September, 1857. Blake Little and H. T. Wilson were
the delegates chosen from this District. Little was
chosen President pro tern, of the Convention.

After several adjournments the Convention finally
completed their work on the 3rd of November, guarded
by 200 U. S. troops. It was provided that the election
on the adoption of this Constitution should be held on
the 21st of December; that the question should be
divided and that the ticket should read : "For the Con-
stitution and Slavery," and "For the Constitution
without Slavery."

The time for the regular meeting of the Territorial
Legislature was January 4, 1858, but Acting Governor
Stanton called an extra session which met on the 7th
day of December, 1857, and passed an act providing for
a vote on the entire constitution — a straight proposition


for or against — to be held January 4, 1858, and provid-
ing more thoroughly against fraud.

The elections were quite numerous this fall and
winter, and somewhat confusing unless attended to in
their regular order.


The election for members of the Territorial Legisla-
ture and for Delegate to Congress was held on the 5th
of October.

E. Ransom, of Fort Scott, ran against Mark Parrott,
the Free State candidate for delegate.

At this election there were again some indications of
fraud, especially at the Oxford and Kickapoo precincts,
and in McGee county. McGee county, for instance,
"cast" 1202 Pro-slavery votes against 24 votes for the
Free State ticket. Fraud was patent to every body.
There were not a hundred legal voters in the county,
all told. The original returns from McGee county were
seen by one or more of our Fort Scott men before they
were doctored and sent on to Lecompton. The lists
contained a total of exactly eighty-three names.

At this election Bourbon County voted as follows:
Dry wood precinct, Ransom 9, Parrott 3; Russell pre-
cinct, Ransom 12, Parrott 2; Fort Scott precinct, Ran-
som 99, Parrott 24; Sprattsville precinct, Ransom 33,
Parrott 47; Osage precinct, Ransom 22, Parrott 20.
Total, Ransom 175, Parrott 96.

The Governor issued a proclamation on the 22d of
October, rejecting the returns of the election precincts

1857] MORE TROUBLE. 81

where the most glaring frauds had occurred. This re-
duced the total vote for Ransom to 3,799, as against
7,888 for Parrott, and the certificate of election was
issued to Parrott, and he took his seat in Congress the
next December.

George A. Crawford was the Democratic candidate
for Territorial Council from this District, which con-
sisted of Bourbon and seventeen other counties, McGee
among them. Mr. Crawford went to Lecompton at
once, and in a conference with Governor Walker and
Secretary Stanton he advised the throwing out of the
fraudulent votes, although such action defeated his own


The wave of Free State immigration which had
rolled in over the northern part of the Territory now
began to reach down into Southern Kansas, and to be
felt in Bourbon County to a greater extent than ever
before. And the troubles which had prevailed in the
North for so long a time were to be also transferred to
the Southeastern border.

The Free State men who had been driven out in the
summer and fall of 1856, now began to return — many
of them coming back armed — and as they found that
their strength had been materially increased by the con-
siderable number of new settlers coming into the
county they had confidence that by organization they
could now maintain themselves and recover their claims
and much of their other property. Among their leaders


were J. C. Burnett, Samuel Stevenson, Captain Bain and
Josiah Stewart.

Notice was served on those who had wrongfully taken
possession of cabins and claims that they must leave.
Many did so at once, but others relying on aid and
assistance from the "Blue Lodges" of organized Pro-
slavery men which existed in Fort Scott and along the
border, refused to vacate.

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

The opposing forces, or factions, came near a col-


lisiou several times after that. Things looked ugly.
But for some reason the Pro-slavery men declined to
open the ball, and the Free State policy was to await an

Finally, a resort was had to the forms of "law."
A term of the U. S. District Court was commenced on
the 19th of October, 1857. I* was hdd in the south

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Online LibraryThomas F RobleyHistory of Bourbon County, Kansas. To the close of 1865 → online text (page 5 of 13)