Scraps of Local History Picked Up Here and There

by George W. Remsburg

(from the Leavenworth Times August 16, 1943)

It is not generally known that a daughter of James G. Blaine, famous American statesman, once lived at Fort Leavenworth. She was then Mrs. Alice Coppinger, wife of Colonel John J. Coppinger, afterward Brigadier General Coppinger, a distinguished soldier in the United States Army. Colonel Coppinger was then attached to the Eighteenth Infantry. He had previously been stationed at Fort Leavenworth as a major in the Tenth Infantry, and was acting assistant inspector general at this post, which was then the headquarters of the Department of Missouri. It was while stationed there that he was married to Blaine's oldest daughter, February 6, 1883. The wedding took place at the family mansion in Washington, a cabinet meeting having been postponed so that President Chester A. Arthur and his cabinet might attend. A number of other notables were present, including General and Mrs. William T. Sherman, Hon. J. Warren Keifer, speaker of the House of Representatives, Colonel Robert G. Ingrsol, and others. After a wedding trip north the bride and groom repaired to his station at Fort Leavenworth. Colonel Coppinger was promoted to brigadier general April 25, 1895, and died November 4, 1909. Mrs. Coppinger passed away in 1890.

The foregoing facts were brought out by Carolyn Thomas Foreman, in a very interesting paper on the life of General Coppinger, published in "the Chronicles of Oklahoma" recently.


Ben Holladay, of Overland Stage fame, promoter of many great western enterprises, and at one time a millionaire, died poor in Portland, Ore., 66 years ago this month. He got his start as a dram-shop and tavern keeper at Weston, Mo. He was variously known as the "Great Western," the "Overland King," the "Napoleon of the Plains," and the "Croesus of the Coast."


Notes Visitors.

Eighty-five years ago on August 27, Louis Agassiz, one of the world's great naturalists, Roscoe Conkling, distinguished American lawyer, orator and statesman, and Ward Hunt, visited Leavenworth. Agassiz said he had never seen such wonderful soil as in Kansas and Missouri and that the peaches, apples, pears and grapes he considered the equal of any he had ever tasted.


David R. Atchison.

August 11th was the 136th anniversary of the birth of David R. Atchison, pro-slavery leader in the Kansas-Missouri border war, United States senator from Missouri, and who had the unique distinction of having served as president of the United States for one day. During his activities in the border struggle, General Atchison lived in Platte City and was in Leavenworth frequently. His headquarters were at the Green House, a famous hostelry of that period, operated by Elisha Green (Atchison lived in Platte City from 1841 to 1856 and was judge of the circuit court of Platte County in 1841. He served as United States senator from 1843 to 1855. He was president of the senate when Zachary Taylor, president -elect of the United States, refused to be sworn in on the Sabbeth, so Atchison was legally president for 24 hours, from noon of March 4, 1849.

Atchison was a native of Kentucky and came to Clay County, Mo., in 1830. He was soon admitted to the Missouri bar and became a brilliant lawyer. He died at his home in Clinton county, Mo., in 1886, at the age of 69 years. His name is commemorated today in the city of Atchison, Kas., and in Atchison County, Mo.


Shooting in 1860.

Alfred D. Richardson, noted newspaper correspondent, in his letters written from Denver during the Pike's Peak gold rush in 1860, recounts the many "shooting scrapes" that occurred there during that exciting period. Some of these are of local interest, for instance: In the Louisiana Saloon, James Gordon, who had a few days previous shot a bartender, "wantonly attacked" John Ganta, "a peaceable and unoffending man" from Leavenworth, and "after throwing him upon the floor and kicking him, shot him, the ball entering the top of his head, and passing through the brain, killing him instantly." "Charles H. Eads, an insane man from Lexington, Mo., was fatally shot by John Merk, from Leavenworth, whom he had assaulted, and who was not aware of his lunacy." "In camp, four miles below the city, two teamsters belonging to the train of John Farrier, of Platte City, Mo., became involved in a quarrel. One of them--J. B. Cord--was fatally stabbed in the abdomen by the other, named W. F. Hawley."

Richardson, in one of his letters, written from Denver, August 7, 1860, writes: "Leavenworth is very largely represented, both in the towns and in the diggings." Louise Barry, of the staff of the Kansas State Historical Society, has very creditably edited and presented the Richardson correspondence in volume 12, number 1, of the "Kansas Quarterly." It abounds in interest.

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