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




ALL through these border troubles there was naturally and necessarily what may be called a conservative resident element in Fort Scott and throughout the county, of both the Pro-slavery and Free State parties; men trying to attend to business, improve their claims, make homes, and carry on their daily avocations. These men were, as they well expressed it, between two fires. And the alarms, incursions, excursions and the retaliatory acts, back and forth between the two parties were carried on over the heads of these law-abiding men. It was a difficult position, much harder to maintain in the country than in town. These men were not conservative in the sense of being non-committal or even non-partisan but as being "nonactive" in the political difficulties which did not concern their private affairs.

It is of no avail to speculate now whether or not this factious, partisan border trouble was necessary or could have been prevented. It was simply a matter of fact; it existed, and that is all there is to be said about it. The Free State men were, in a large measure, on the defensive. They either had to hold their ground or be


driven out. Get out or fight. It was a "condition and not a theory that confronted them," although it was a theory which, in some sense, had brought them to this country in the first place; the theory that they had a right to go into United States territory, take a claim, make a home and speak and vote as they pleased. And they proceeded at once on the theory that the condition they found was a theory, and that their original theory should become the condition.


The constant alarms occurring in the latter part of this year resulted in the calling of a public meeting at Fort Scott on the 13th day of December. E. Ransom was made chairman. Resolutions were reported that a vigilance committee of five should be appointed to take measures to assist in the better execution of the law, either by the organization of a militia company or an appeal to the Governor and having United States troops stationed here. The committee appointed was H. T. Wilson, Blake Little, T. B. Arnett, G. A. Crawford and J. W. Head. The committee rightly concluded that it would be injudicious to try to organize a military company at that time, and decided to ask for troops, who were supposed to have no politics. At their instance John S. Cummings, the sheriff of the county, reported to Acting Governor Stanton that he required the aid of U. S. troops in the execution of the law, and sent the concurrent statement of Marshal Little to the same effect. In response to this request


Captain Sturgis, afterwards a Union General, was sent here on the 21st of December with Companies E. and F. 1st U. S. Cavalry, and order was restored and maintained for the short time they were here.


Governor Walker, finding that his idea of fairness and justice ran counter to that of the propaganda, resigned his office on the 17th of December.

He had been absent from the Territory for sometime and Secretary Stanton had been Acting Governor, and while so acting had called the special session of the Territorial Legislature to change the date and manner of voting on the Lecompton Constitution, and for that act, and others not in the programme, he was removed.

J. W. Denver was appointed to succeed him as Secretary, and took the oath of office on the 21st of December, and became Acting Governor.

On December 21, the first election was held on the Lecompton Constitution. At this election the Free State men again abstained from voting, or giving it any attention.

The vote in Bourbon County, as returned, was as follows:

        For the Constitution, with slavery, . . . . . .  366
        For the Constitution, without slavery,. . . . .   78

There were only nine votes cast against the constitution in the entire Territory. These were voted at Leavenworth and the tickets read "To hell with the Lecompton Constitution."


This election, besides being otherwise a farce, was more or less fraudulent in every precinct in the Territory, Bourbon County not excepted.

Bourbon County elected members of the State Legislature under the Lecompton Constitution as follows: Blake Little for Senator, D. W. Campbell and J. C. Sims for the House.

Efforts were now being made at different points, notably at Leavenworth, to organize a Free State Democratic party, as Free State Democrats everywhere repudiated the Lecompton Constitution, but no organization was effected in 1857.

Among the arrivals about the close of the year were Alex McDonald, brother of B. P. McDonald, and E. S. Bowen, who had purchased and shipped a sawmill, which was on the road and would arrive in due time. The mill machinery began to arrive about the middle of the next month, and was to be erected at a site chosen for it near the corner of what is now First Street and Ransom Street, or maybe a little further West towards Scott Avenue.

Lumber was going to be in demand, for building would begin in the Spring, although the year 1857 was closing in turmoil, excitement and uncertainty.