Scraps of Local History Picked Up Here and There

by George Remsburg


Rev. John Dunbar, pioneer Presbyterian missionary to the Western Indians, spent considerable time at Cantonment Leavenworth and Kickapoo during the '30s, and his journal abounds in interesting accounts of these historic places as they appeared more than a century ago. On his first arrival at the Caontonment from Ithaca, N. Y., in June, 1834, among other things, he recorded: "This is truly a beautiful place," and in subsequent recordings he gave glowing descriptions of this frontier army post and the surrounding country.


The Easton post office was established 90 years on December 21 with Armisted Dawson as postmaster. He had previously operated a trading post at the Stranger Creek crossing of the Fort Riley military road at that point.


Music Convention

Is there anyone living in Leavenworth who remembers when a state musical convention was held here more than three quarters of a century ago? Clifford Nowlin, in an account of the first great music festival held in Kansas--The Kansas State Musical Jubilee--which took place at the Bismark Grove Fair Grounds, just east of North Lawrence, August 18-19, 1881, and which appears in the current number of the Kansas Magazine, incidentally says: "Even from earlier days Kansas had been music-minded. In 'Music and Musicians in Kansas,' compiled by Edna Reinbach for the Kansas Historical Society, 1920, we find that a State Musical Convention was held in Leavenworth, September 15 to 20, 1869."


California Trail

A most interesting and important addition to the literature pertaining to the early West is a volume entitled, "The Old California Trail: Traces in Folklore and Furrow," the author being Julia Cooley Altrocchi. It was recently issued from the press of The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho. It contains much about Leavenworth and this section of Kansas. It is illustrated from photographs by the author, who followed the historic old trail seven times in gathering material for her book. It is written in astyle that holds the reader's attention.

Among other things this fascinating book tells about the great Russell, Majors and Waddell overland freighting outfit, which had its headquarters in Leavenworth. It relates an incident in which "Wild Bill" Hickok astonishes spectators with his uncanny pistol shooting at Fort Leavenworth. It prints verbatim a railroad announcement of the big excursion from Leavenworth to Gen. Phil Sheridan's buffalo hunt on the plains in 1868. There is an account of the Leavenworth and Pike's Peas Stage and Express Company, besides many incidents of the early days in and about Leavenworth and accounts of noted figures so closely associated therewith, such as "Buffalo fill" Cody, Ben Holladay, Col. Wm. H. Russell, Gen. Jim Lane and others.

Noted Indians

Keannakuk, the celebrated Kickapoo Prophet, died of smallpox at Kickapoo in 1852, and was buried there. He had taught that on the third day after his death he would arise. So strong was the belief of his followers in his teachings and prophesies that upon his death a large number of them stayed with his body until after the third day. Most of them contracted the disease and died. He had a peculiar form of religion which he claimed to have originated himself, and his adherents were known as the "Prophet's Band." They were also sometimes called the "Praying Indians." The Prophet has been prominently mentioned by many noted writers and travelers of his period, such as Washington Irving, Charles Augustus Murray, George Catlin and others.

Nequonhequon, the last chief by blood of the Delaware Indians, died of diphtheria, at an advanced age, at his home at the mouth of the creek that bears his name, about two miles north of Bonner Springs, in 1855. The name of this stream has been corrupted to Ne-con-o-con-ne Creek, but William Elsey Connelly, well known authority on the Delaware and Wyandotte Indians, informed me that it should be spelled exactly like the chief's name. This creek empties into Wolf creek. Though not definitely known it is generally believed that this creek received its name from the wild animal of the canis or lupus family. However, the writer is of the opinion that it derived its name from the Wolf clan of the Delawares of which Nequonhequon was the chief, besides being head chief of the Delawares. "He was a good man," says Donnelley, "and greatly beloved by the Delawares. He held to the ancient customs of the tribe and persistently refused to adopt any portion of the dress of the white people. He was a great hunter."




"Just Married"

Under the above head the Kansas Historical Quarterly reprints the following from the Leavenworth Herald of April 21, 1860: The following amusing incident took place upon one of the Missouri river steamboats, and was reported to us by an eye-witness. While the boat was lying at Kansas City, just ready to start for Leavenworth, a young man came on board leading a blushing damsel by the hand, and approaching the polite clerk, in a suppressed voice, said: "I say," he exclaimed, "me and my wife have just got married over at Westport, and I'm looking for accommodations." "Looking for a berth?" hastily inquired the clerk--passing tickets on to another passenger. "A birth! thunder and lightning, no!" gasped the astonished man, "we haven't but just got married; we want a place to stay all night, you know, and--a bed.




January Events

Col. D. R. Anthony established the Leavenworth Conservative, January 28, 1861.--

The Pemberton Mills, in Leavenworth, fell with a sudden crash, Jan. 18, 1858, and more than 200 of the 700 employees were killed.--

A Free State mob took possession of Leavenworth Jan. 4, 1857, and General Calhoun and other pro-slavery men fled to Weston.--

A postoffice was established at Kickapoo, with Thomas D. Armond as postmaster, Jan. 24, 1855.--

The Kickapoo cannon was captures by Leavenworth Free State Men, Jan. 5, 1858.--

The contract for Leavenworth's first river bridge was let Jan. 4, 1869, to Boomer & Co. of Chicago, for $700,000.--

Leavenworth Lodge No. 2 AF&AM was organized Jan. 18, 1855.--

Capt. R. P. Brown, member-elect of the Free State legislature was brutally murdered by ruffians in Salt Creek Valley, Jan. 18, 1856.--

Guards froze to death at Fort Leavenworth Jan. 1, 1864.--

Chief Justice Samuel D. Lecompte arrived in Leavenworth, Jan. 1, 1855, and subsequently organized th US District Court here.--

Charley Fisher, an alleged fugitive slave from Louisiana, was kidnaped from the Planters House in Leavenworth where he was employed and taken to Missouri Jan. 13, 1859. He later escaped.--

Jan. 29, 1873, it was 36 below zero in this section.--

Jan. 4, 1866, Henry J., John W. and B. F. Freeland, brothers of Platte county, started from Leavenworth by hack for St. Louis. Near Quindaro they were attacked by robbers and Henry J. was killed.--

Platte City was incorporated Jan. 24, 1845.--

Coal was first encountered in the State Prison coal mine at Lansing Jan. 18, 1881.

In January, 1857, the Leavenworth, Pawnee & Weston railroad was organized.

In January, 1858, the telegraph was extended from St. Louis to Leavenworth.

In January, 1861, the first grist mill in the vicinity of Leavenworth, was put in operation at East Leavenworth.

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