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




THE year 1856 opened in the northeastern part of the Territory and along the Kaw valley, in turmoil, violence and murder. Armed factions were almost daily coming into the conflict. The Free State men were being armed and drilled for defense. The Pro-slavery men were being reinforced from South Carolina, Alabama and the entire South, for the openly declared purpose of overawing the Free State men by violence and murder.

One sample of the tone of their newspapers at that time is here given. The Kickapoo Pioneer, in speaking of Free State immigrants, said:

"It is this class of men that have congregated at Lawrence, and it is this class of men that Kansas must get rid of. And we know of no better method * * * than to meet in Kansas and kill off this God-forsaken class of humanity as soon as they place their feet upon our soil."

Bourbon County had as yet but little of this disorder and violence. But the disturbing elements were to come in very soon, and peace bid farewell for many years.



The first political move of the year 1856 was the election of officers under the Topeka Constitution, which took place January 15. Charles Robinson was the leading candidate for Governor, and M. W. Delahay for Congress. W. R. Griffith of Bourbon County, was voted for as State Auditor, but received less votes than G. A. Cutler for that office. Griffith was also a member of this Constitutional Convention.

The Topeka Constitution was not recognized by Congress. The Legislature elected under it never had any practical existence, nor was it expected to have, or probably, intended to have. The conventions of August 14 and September 15; the elections of October 9, December 15 and January 15, the Constitutional Convention and the Topeka Constitution, were intended by the Free-State leaders to serve—like toys given to impatient children—to occupy the minds of our Free-State men; to solidify the growing "Anti-Pro-slavery" elements of all shades in the North, and by publishing to the world their platforms, resolutions and constitutions, to furnish educating exponents of the principles, policy and design of the Free-State party.

As was expected, some of the ultra Abolitionists were dissatisfied. The word "white" was not eliminated from the new Constitution; its tone was for peaceful solution, instead of for the aggravation of conflict as they desired. They kicked over the traces, but they were simply "cut out" and driven away.

The Free-State leaders at this time—among them


Charles Robinson, A. H. Reeder. M. J. Parrott, Joel K. Goodin, M. W. Delahay—were strong men. The Convention and the Legislature elected under it were composed of good and true men. They raised here the first signal light of Freedom, against which were already breaking the black, seething waves of disunion.


The first invasion into Bourbon County by the Pro-slavery men occurred in the spring of 1856. A party of about thirty South Carolinians, headed by G. W. Jones, came in and stopped temporarily in Fort Scott. Under pretense of looking for homes, these men visited most of the settlers in the county, ascertained where they were from and their politics, what property they had, and their means of defense, and made a complete list of all the Free-State men. Then, later in the season, about July, the Free-State men were again visited, and were told they must leave the Territory. A system of espionage, intimidation and arrest was commenced. Their stock was driven off; their cabins fired into in the dead of night, and they were often taken under pretended arrest to Fort Scott, where they would be advised that it was a much healthier country further north for their class. The object was to so harass and intimidate them that they would leave their claims and such property as could not be easily moved, and get out of the Territory, which the Pro-slavery people had decided was their own by right, not of discovery, but "non-intervention," and "Squatter


Sovereignty." The matter was actually presented to the masses of the South in the light that, as the restrictive compromise law had been wiped out, this was slave territory; Free-State men were interlopers, and had no more rights here than they had in South Carolina. A Free-State man would not be allowed to live in South Carolina; why should he be here?

Anyway, their plans worked well. The Free-State men were not strong enough then for resistance or defense, and most of them left. This was in execution of the concerted plans of Major Buford and his lieutenant, G. W. Jones, who had arrived on the 7th of April, at Westport, Missouri, with a large body of armed men, some three hundred in number, from Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Buford was a kind of brigadier general in the army of invasion, and had charge of the border, with the instructions, among others, to search all steamboats coming up the Missouri river, for Free-State passengers, and all emigrant wagons coming from the East and North.


Late in the summer of this year a squad of fellows came into Bourbon County from the south, who called themselves "Texas Rangers." They were all well armed and mounted, and wore spurs as big as a tin plate. Their saddles were of the regulation Texas pattern, with immense saddle blankets, with the "Lone Star" worked in the corner.

Altogether, they were a very "fierce and warlike


people," and wanted to go right into the business immediately. So, after laying around town two or three days whetting up their bowie knives and running bullets they got some of G. W. Jones' South Carolinians, added a few of the fellows who lived in Fort Scott, and away they went, headed for Osawatomie, to rout out John Brown. The company was under command of Wm. Barnes, G. W. Jones and Jesse Davis. They got up as far as Middle Creek in Linn County where, about August 25th, they were met by Captains Shore and Anderson with a company of Free State men of about the same number. After a lively skirmish, in which three or four volleys were exchanged, they let go and skedaddled back to Fort Scott, pushing on their bridle-reins and with saddle-blankets flying. They had such big stories to tell about being closely pursued by 2,000 yankees, who would soon be on them to burn and murder, that everybody in town, men, women and children, dogs and niggers, took to the woods and laid out all night. It is said the Texas Rangers never stopped till they got back to Red River. Geo. W. Jones buried himself in the wilds of Buck Run.

One of the recruits from Fort Scott on this expedition was a man named Kline, who had just started a newspaper which he called the "Southern Kansan." He had issued only two numbers of it when he felt a call to help "advance the banner of the holy crusade." He laid down the "shooting stick" to take up the shooting iron. But it was an unlucky exchange, for, at the first fire of "leads," the "devil" fired him into


the "hell-box," and he remained in "pi" forever.

This was the only report in the "remark" column of their muster-roll.


The Legislature elected under the Topeka Constitution met first on the 4th of March, and adjourned to meet at Topeka on the 4th of July, 1856. At that date they assembled and attempted to open a session, but they were met by Col. Sumner of the regular army, who ordered them to disperse.


Governor Wilson Shannon, who had now been in office several months, became distasteful to the Administration and the Pro-slavery party, and retired from office on the 21st of August, 1856.

Secretary Woodson, an implement of the Pro-slavery people, became acting Governor until John W. Geary of Pennsylvania, was appointed, and assumed the office in September following.


On October 6th, 1856, an election was held for members of the second Territorial Legislature, which was to meet the following January. In this county there were to be two members elected. There were three candidates in the field, who received votes as follows: B. Brantly, 176 votes; W. W. Spratt, 127 votes; R. G.


Roberts, 60 votes. Brantley and Spratt were declared elected.

These men were Pro-slavery. The Free State men had nearly all been driven out, as has been stated, and what few were left had neither disposition or opportunity to vote. The Pro-slavery people also voted at this election for J. W. Whitfield for Delegate to Congress, and voted for calling a Constitutional Convention.

The closing hour of 1856 was the darkest hour for freedom in Kansas. Its closing day marked the first year of the preliminary struggle of the civil war. The lines were being drawn and public sentiment solidified throughout the Nation by the co-efficients of intolerance, prejudice and hate.