From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.

Interesting Reminiscences

by Lyda Ann Dickson.

Widow of Captain James M. Dickson


The following interesting story from The Kansas Woman's Journal is of particular interest in Leavenworth as it concerns the city, garrison and prominent people here.

Having been asked to write something for The Kansas Woman's Journal, will set my mind to work to try and remember some of the things that happened in the early days of Kansas.

Our family--my mother, father and four daughters--came west from Pennsylvania in 1885, to settle in Kansas, where my four brothers had come the year before, and taken up a section of land.

We started from Waynesburg and came to Rice's Landing by steamboat, all the way to Cincinnati, then to St. Louis and then to Kansas, landing at Leavenworth. We stopped with a Mrs. Grace Garno, and early settler, where my brother and Hiram Hook, cousin of the late Judge Hook, cousin of the late Judge Hook, gave up their room for us to use. We stayed there only a few days, going to the farm, about eight miles west of Leavenworth. There being no automobiles, flying machines, nor railroads for us to use, we drove by wagon, and it was a fine ride. The grass had never been cut, and was waving in the wind, and a wonderful sight. The boys had come out the year before, and had thrown up a log cabin, which was a crude affair, but shortly after, they put up another one, which was larger, and more comfortable. The farm was in Stranger township, Leavenworth county, and was called "Lone Tree Prairie." There was about one tree on it, hence the name.

Our family were all "Free State." The pro-slavery people were greatly opposed to Free State settling in Kansas. We were on the highway between Ft. Leavenworth and Lawrence, and everyone going west, had to pass our place. Some pro-slavery people who had land near us, tried to run us out, and when anyone who knew us came by, and inquired of our neighbors, where to find us, they were told that there was no use in their coming out, as they would not let them settle there.

My eldest brother, Wm. Pennock, was a member of the first legislature in Kansas, which met at Shawnee Mission, now a dairy farm.

So many people we knew, came by our place, and stopped that we had read good times, and suffered few hardships, for those days.

One day a bunch of pro-slavery men came riding up to our fence,and said they understood there were some Free State soldiers there, and they wanted them. They found there were none there, so wanted my brother, who was then a member of the legislature, to hang him. He had seen them coming, and he crawled out the back way, and got off to Lawrence. When they found there was nothing there they wanted, they left without disturbing the women folks.



The famous "Kickapoo Cannon," a relic taken in the Mexican War by General Kearney, was abandoned, where the Santa Fe Trail crossed the Arkansas River. A party of travelers brought the cannon to Weston, Mo., and it was turned over to the military authorities, at Fort Leavenworth, who refused to accept it, and it was returned to Weston, then stolen and taken to Kickapoo and used in sacking Lawrence in 1856. After the raid it was taken back to Kickapoo. In 1858, it was used to cover the polls at an election, in Kickapoo, where many men were armed to guard the ballot from stuffing. Capt. Geo. P. Buell, Capt. H. G. Hass, my husband, Capt James M. Dickson, my brother, Isaac Pennock, and three or four hundred leading Free State men, marched to Kickapoo the morning after the election, captured the cannon and took it to Leavenworth. Later it was taken to Lawrence during the night and is now in the Kansas State Historical Society at Topeka. It figured very prominently in the border troubles of Kansas.

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