Transcribed from History of Bourbon County, Kansas : to the close of 1865 by T. F. Robley. Fort Scott, Kan.: Press of the Monitor Book & Print. Co., 1894.

1894 Robley's History of Bourbon County, Kansas


Bourbon County, Kansas.




ONE of the most important events in the history of the United States was the purchase of Louisiana Territory from the Republic of France. The treaty of cession was concluded at Paris on the 30th day of April, 1803, by and between the ministers of President Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon Bonaparte, then First Consul of France. The far-reaching effects of this cession on the future of the whole civilized world, and its immense advantages to the United States as a Nation, can scarcely be realized. By this acquisition the United States added to its territory 1,160,577 square miles to the 820,680 square miles of the original thirteen colonies, for which it paid a sum amounting to less than twenty million dollars. By this acquisition it added a grand inter-oceanic zone,


reaching down from the rugged coast of the North Pacific to the crescent shore of the Gulf; down from the regions of eternal snows to the clime of eternal flowers.

The Republic moved at once into its place on the map of the world as a Power of the first class—a Nation with a big N. This was one of the few grand victories won by the pen instead of the sword.

Conceive, if you can, the consequences if President Jefferson, without the authority of Congress or of constitutional law, had failed at the supreme moment to say, in effect, to Bonaparte, "L'Etat c'est moi." "I will take it."

England would undoubtedly have taken it from France as she had successively taken Canada, Cape Breton, New Foundland, Nova Scotia and portions of Asia, and as she finally from Napoleon "wrenched the the sceptre with an unlineal hand." The fear that this territory would ultimately fall into the hands of England, coupled with his great need of money at that time, induced Bonaparte to make the proposition to Jefferson to sell the entire province, just as he had acquired it only a short time previously by retrocession from Spain. And Jefferson, realizing its vital importance to his country, and also the danger of delays, at once closed the bargain on his own responsibility, as has been seen, without the authority of the constitution, which made no provision for incorporating foreign territory, without the authority of Congress, which was not then in session, but by an act as arbitrary and auto-


cratic as could have been done by the Czar of Russia. On that subject Jefferson himself wrote:

"The less that is said about any constitutional difficulty the better. Congress should do what is necessary in silence. I find but one opinion about the necessity of shutting up the Constitution for some time."

Nevertheless, for that act alone, if for no others, future generations of his countrymen will place his statue the very next to Washington's in the line of historic marbles.

The territory was bounded on the east by the Mississippi river south to the 31st parallel—about one degree north of the city of New Orleans—thence east to the Pardido river, which is now the west boundary of Florida. The west country was the east and north boundaries of Texas to the 100th meridian; thence north to the Arkansas river; thence along the Arkansas river to the "divide" of the Rocky Mountains to and along the 106th meridian, to and along the 42nd parallel to the Pacific ocean. The north line being the present boundary between the British Possessions and the United States.


In 1812 the territory then known as the Territory of Orleans was admitted into the Union as the State of Louisiana, and by act of Congress in June, 1812, the balance of the Louisiana purchase became the Territory of Missouri. In March, 1819, the Territory of Arkansas was created.



By act of Congress known as the Missouri Compromise, approved March 6th, 1820, the Territory of Missouri was erected with a view of admission as a State.

Section 8 of that act provided that in all territory north of 36 degrees and 30 minutes north latitude, not included within the limits of the contemplated State of Missouri, slavery should be forever prohibited.


The west boundary line of the State of Missouri, as designated by that law, was as it now exists, except that from the mouth of the Kaw river the line ran due north to the Iowa line, instead of the Missouri river forming the boundary as now. This territory between the due north line and the Missouri river was known as the "Platte Purchase." In June, 1836, Congress passed a law adding the Platte Purchase to Missouri, and this tract of land became slave territory, in direct violation of the compromise of 1820.


By an act of Congress of June, 1825, Major Sibley, of the United States Army, was appointed to survey and establish a wagon road from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, known as the Santa Fe Trail. This was the first highway of civilization to penetrate this then unexplored and silent desert.


And this within the memory of our old men! But we will go into no retrospect here. Get on a Santa Fe train, which passes over subtantially[sic] the survey made by Major Sibley, and the retrospect will come to you much more forcibly than it can be written. Consider that, then the valleys of the Kaw, Marias des Cygnes, Neosho, Marmaton and Paint Creek were the favorite hunting grounds of the Osages, Cheyennes and Arapahoes. The wolves, deer, antelope and the migratory buffalo roamed the wild prairie unfettered by wire fence and unbalked by railroad crossing. And that only seventy-five years ago. Even thirty years ago they had not yet departed from the now confines of Wichita's additions.


About 1825 the government began locating the various tribes of the more nearly civilized Indians from the East and South on reservations, by cessions, trades, treaties, removals and retrocessions, up to about the year 1852. In 1828 a treaty was made with the Cherokees, of Georgia, by which they were given the territory known as the Cherokee Nation, with a promise also of the payment of $450,000. But this money was never paid them, and in 1835 a supplementary treaty was made by which they were granted, in lieu of said sum of money, a tract of land bounded and described as follows:

"Beginning at the northeast corner of the Cherokee Nation; thence north along the Missouri state line fifty miles; thence west twenty-five miles; thence south fifty miles; thence east to the place of beginning."


This tract, twenty-five by fifty miles was intended to contain 800,000 acres.

This grant has always been known as the "Cherokee Neutral Lands." It is said that the reason it was so called was that the Cherokee Nation was slave territory and the Cherokees being slave holders, they preferred to have neutral ground between their nation and the free territory north of 36° 30', as provided for by the Missouri Compromise. Consequently, instead of the money due by the provisions of the treaty, they chose in lieu thereof this "Neutral Land" as a bulwark against freedom.

As these lands were partly contained in Bourbon County, occasion will be taken to refer to them further along in regular chronological order.


On January 15th, 1838, the government set apart to the various tribes of New York Indians a tract of country described as follows:

"Beginning at the west line of the State of Missouri, at the northeast corner of the Cherokee tract and running thence north along the west line of the State of Missouri twenty-seven miles to the southerly line of the Miami lands; thence west so far as shall be necessary by running a line at right angles and parallel to the west line aforesaid to the Osage lands, and thence easterly along the Osage and Cherokee lands to the place of beginning; to include 1,824,000 acres."

This land was intended as a future home for the Indians of New York. These various tribes of New


York Indians, consisting of the remnants of the Senecas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Tuscaroras, Oneidas, St. Regis, Stockbridges, Munsees and Brothertowns, were called the "Six Nations."

As will be seen the balance of what is now Bourbon County was contained within this tract of New York Indian lands.

But it was never occupied by the tribes mentioned, there having been but thirty-two allotments made to them of 320 acres each, which were all on the Osage river.

As this tract was not a grant in fee simple, like that to the Cherokees, but designed to be allotted in severalty to individual members of the tribes, and as only thirty-two of them came west to receive their share, the remainder of the tract finally reverted to the United States.

Lieutenant John C. Fremont in June, 1842, left Chouteau's trading post on the Marias des Cygnes river, in what is now Linn County, on his first expedition to the Rocky Mountains. He was accompanied by Kit Carson as guide.

We now have a clear idea of the condition of things in this country—physically and politically—as they existed in that early day. The United States had acquired a clear and unquestioned title to the domain; many of the tribes of Indians in the Eastern and Southern States, who were in the way of the rapidly increasing population, had been given, and located on, large tracts of land in this worthless, sterile desert, totally unfit for the habitation of the white man, as it


was believed, where they could quietly work out their own extinction.

The Nation was on a solid and enduring foundation; peace reigned supreme, and, better than all, the troublesome, vexatious and dangerous question of African slavery had, in the minds of all men, been settled peacefully, finally and forever.