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 Territorial Legislature in February, 1857, passed an act dividing the Territory into three judicial districts. The first step in the Lecompton Constitution movement was taken February 19th by the Legislature passing an act providing for the election of delegates to a convention to frame a State Constitution. The act provided for a census to be taken, on the basis of which the Governor was to apportion among the precincts the sixty delegates to the Convention. The delegates were to be elected on the second Monday in June, which was the 15th, and were to meet at Lecompton on the first Monday in September. Governor Geary vetoed the bill, but the Legislature passed it over the veto, by a nearly unanimous vote.

On the 4th of March, 1857, James Buchanan became President.

In his Inaugural Address he said:

"Congress is neither to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and conduct their own domestic institutions in their own


way. As a natural consequence, Congress has also prescribed, that when the Territory of Kansas shall be admitted as a State, it shall be received into the Union with or without slavery, as the Constitution may prescribe at the time of admission. A difference of opinion has arisen in regard to the time when the people of a Territory shall decide this question for themselves. This is happily a matter of but little importance, and besides it is a judicial question, which legitimately belongs to the Supreme Court of the United States, before whom it is now pending and will, it is understood, be speedily and finally settled."

Two days afterward the Supreme Court handed down the decision in the Dred Scott case. The gist of that decision is this: The Missouri Compromise, so far as it excluded slavery from the Louisiana Purchase, north of 36.30° was unconstitutional; that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery from any portion of the Federal territory, nor to authorize the inhabitants thereof to do so; that negroes are not citizens, and have no rights as such. Or, in other words, that Kansas was de jure Slave Territory, as it was de facto.

"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 county 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 resignation 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 Territory somewhat hastily.

"He tuck his hat and lef' very sudden
 Like 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 biographies 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 medcal[sic] education in that State, and went from there to Monroe, Wisconsin, where he married Miss Lillis Andrick. He was a strong Democrat and never hesitated 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 failure.

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 business.

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 Dimon, 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 Government. 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 1st 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. Crawford of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, D. H. Weir of Indiana, 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" 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 incorporating the "Town of Fort Scott," 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 conditional 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. Judson, G. W. Jones, H. P. Wilson, Norman Eddy, George A. Crawford and T. R. Blackburn.

The Wingfield 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 organizations of the Wingfield Company and the Fort Scott Town Company be formally abandoned. And that the members and interests of the Wingfie]d 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 foundation 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. Epaphroditus Ransom was appointed Receiver, and G. W. Clark, under the name of Doak, was appointed Register.

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 citizens.

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. McDonald & 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, Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad Company, and his conception and original labors resulted in the construction of the great trunk line to Memphis, Tennessee.

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 Ray.

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 Government 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.