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.


Newspaper Page Backing Old Picture Recalls Social Event

by Harry H. Seckler

A page of "The Home Record," in 1875, the official monthly publication of The Home For The Friendless, the predecessor of Cushing Memorial Hospital, pasted on the back of a pastel drawing of a beautiful young woman, has brought to the atttention of the writer what was without doubt the most colorful social function given in Leavenworth from the time of its founding in 1854 to the present time.

The affair, titled "The Centennial Party," was held in Laing's Hall, then on what was the third floor of the building at the northwest corner of Fourth and Delaware streets, on December 2, 1875.

Centennial parties, in observance of the 100th birthday of the United States, were held in many of the larger cities throughout the land during the fall of 1875. But the event which was referred to here as an imposing Pageant of the Republican Court, early day writers assert, was on a par with any like affair given elsewhere in the United States, so far as brilliancy, costuming, display of jewels and costly garments, were concerned.

For Benefit of Home

The party was held for the benefit of the Home For The Friendless, and might have padded into oblivion without the present generation having any knowledge of that grand celebration had it not been that Goodsell Nichols came into possession of the aforementioned portrait by one of the city's early artists.

It was in a frame 17x21 inches, and was once the property of R. B. Cleghorn, who in the late 70's or early 80's was proprietor of a book bindery on the second floor of the building at the southeast corner of Second and Delaware Streets.

On the back of the picture had been pasted a page from "The Home Record," then the official publication of The Home For The Friendless. It was dated January, 1876, and the printed sheet contained the story of the Pageant of the Republican Court in detail.

Citizens in Costume

The interesting postion of the item deals with the socially prominent citizens of the little city, then in its 21st year of existence, who portrayed prominent personages back in 1775, appearing in costumes that were facsimilies of the portraits of men and women of colonial times ranging from English and French nobility to the outstanding citizens of both sexes in George Washingson's time.

The writer is positive that very few of those who participated in the affair are living here today, other than E. S. "Burt" Catlin, Leavenworth's oldest living resident, and one other person.

But it would be telling tales out of school to mention her name because she is mentioned as "the child of four years _______________, wore a long, trained pink tarletan, hair in a high comb and white kids. The little lady was one of the prettiest objects in the room."

Would not Be Grateful

It should be obvious that to give the (then) little lady's name would also divulge her present age, for which she would not mail to our address a card of appreciation.

The music for the grand ball was furnished by the Fort Leavenworth band through the kindness of General Pope, then post commandant. The musicians played as the opening number an old-time Polonaise for the entry of the portrayers of the historic characters.

First came the vice-President and the cabinet, the Supreme Court juciciary of that time with their ladies "upon: their arms; living generals of those days and ladies in waiting, and lastly General Washington, represented by Judge D. J. Brewer. the characterization of Martha Washington was taken by one whose name is not legible in the old print.

William J. Farrell, later known as "The Apple King of Kansas" impersonated vice-President John Adams; Charles Stevens was Secretary of War William Know; Mrs. Horace Sanders, Mrs. Knox; D. M. Swan, an early-day attorney, Chief Justice John Hay; and Mrs. Thomas A. Osborn, wife of the then governor of Kansas, a Leavenworthian, was Mrs. John Hay.

A Local Bank Cashier

W. P. Borland, who in 1876 was cashier of the old Second National Bank, then located at 325 Delaware Street, was in the character of a justice of the United States Supreme Court. The family resided at the southwest corner of Sixth and Kickapoo Streets. It is assumed he was the father of Will P. Borland, who represented the Kansas City, Mo., district in the US House of Representatives when D. R. Anthony, Jr., represented the First Congressional district of Kansas.

Well-known to early Leavenworthians, was another who enacted the role of a Supreme Court justice, James H. Foster, who was proprietor of Leavenworth's first "racket" store, the predecessor of the present-day "5 and 10s."

E. S. Catlin and J. W. Higby were in character as the other two member of the court, and the reporter of that day mentioned that all were imposing characters in full robes and wighs.

Comes as John Hancock

George S. Spooner, for many years proprietor of a bok and stationery store, impersonated John Hancock, a Mr. Partridge was Marquis de Lafayette; Thomas Garrigues was in the character of Roger Sherman, who drafted the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Federal Constitution.

Capt. M. H. Insley, early day banker, was attired as an officer of the Colonial army. Sidney Smith, who at that time was in the school furniture business, was Benjamin Franklin, wearing "cocked hat, short clothes (knee pants) a wig and 100-year old "specs."

Mrs. J. H. Gillpatrick impersonated Mrs. Franklin. The writeup mentions her costumes as "garnet silk quilted skirt and elegant white embroidered Chinese burnous hair in high coils, with ostrich plumes."

Colonel Gillpatrick played the part of Commondore John Paul Jones, attired in a 1776 full Navy dress suit of blue with white velevet facings and Dr. M'Nary was General Nathaniel Greene in Continental army uniform. Mrs. Chancellor Livington (Mrs. J. W. Brock) wore white satin petticoat brown brocaded court train, point lace and diamonds.

Had a Glorious Time

Mrs. Hancock was impersonated by Miss Adams; Mrs. Charles Stevens was Mrs. Patrick Henry; Miss Emma Richards was Madame LaFayette; Mrs. Theodore Eggersdorf, wife of an early day druggist, was Mrs. Alexander Hamilton; Oliver Mason was Thomas Jefferson, secretary of state; Miss Lizzie Clark was Mrs. Roger Sherman; Miss Katie Brace was Miss Sophie Chew. Her costume was completed by a quaint embroidered scarf, an heirloom in the Hancock family, a century and a half old presented to the wearer by Mrs. E. O. Hastings, a descendent of the Hancock family.

Miss Syrenna Graham impersonated Mrs. Pinkney, Miss Mollie Delahay was Mrs. Chauncey Goodrich; Miss Rossie Mayo was Eleanor Custis; Miss Alice Mayo was Miss Abigail Adams; Mrs. W. P. Borland was Mrs. Thomas Jefferson; Mrs. J. G. Graham was Mrs. John Adams; Mrs. James Foster was Mrs. James Madison; Mrs. w. G. Matthias was Machioness Genet; and J. E. Brady, and early day newspaper man, was the grand chamberlain.

Many other names of participants, quite a few recalled by the writer, were in costume, but space will not permit furtuher description and detail. Suffice to say: "A glorious time was had by all."


Note: In an effort to establish the identity of the young woman who was the subject of the pastel portrait referred to in the above story the picture will be placed in the northeast window, Shawnee street side, of The Times business office. A reward of $5 will be given to the person who can make a bona fide identification of the subject. The portrait is a truly wonderful work of art and worth of being viewed.

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