The Early Kansas Imprint Scanners workshop produced this selection.


(As told to Tommy Graham by Martha Jane Tedrow,
granddaughter of Cornelia Clementine Scribner Brown)

     Bennett Scribner and his brother William had moved from Maury County, Tennessee, in 1850, bringing their families to the fertile farm land of Morgan County, Illinois. The two brothers had been born and raised in the "South", but moved north with their wives and children following the promise of cheap land in Illinois. They settled down on farms in the Waverly area, in Morgan County, only a few miles apart.

     In mid 1855, Cholera struck the Morgan County area of Illinois. Among the victims was Marilla, the 3 yr. old daughter of Bennett and Millie Scribner. The disease hit even harder on William's family, with William and two of his three daughters all dying within a three week period of Marilla's death, that is from June 21 through July 6, 1855. Bennett and Millie sold their farm, packed their wagon with all their belongings, their two surviving children, 8 yr. old James, and 7 yr. old Cornelia Clementine, and headed west. To Kansas!!

     By the spring of 1856, Bennett and Milly had a cabin on the outskirts of Lawrence, Kansas. They had several head of stock, a new baby boy, and had again settled down to begin farming. Little Cornelia Clementine had now had her eighth birthday, and could well remember the times as "troubled." She could remember in May 1856 when she stood in the "yard" with her older brother, James, and could hear the distant gunfire and see the smoke of fires in Lawrence (see note 1). She could remember when several nights later, men came in the middle of the night and tore down their fences, running off the livestock, and making lots of noise, hollering and shooting (see note 2).

      She could remember that several weeks later, her father had taken his rifle, gathered some food, saddled his horse and rode off, joining a group of men who had ridden by the house (see note 3). She could remember her father's parting words, "I am a Johnny Reb, and I have to help my friends."

     She could remember how quiet the homestead was for the next several days. The three children stayed either in the house or just outside long enough to bring water from the well, feed the livestock, and do necessary chores. A week passed, with no word from her father. They didn't know where he had gone, what he was doing or when he would return.

     One evening, in the middle of the second week, just as it was getting "good and dark," a familiar voice hailed the cabin from outside, "Millie!". When her mother threw open the door, the voice continued hurriedly, "Don't come out! You and the kids stay inside, I have the Cholera!". "Just throw me some clean clothes, something to sleep on, and something warm to drink." They did as he asked.

     In the morning, they found her father huddled next to the porch, in the blanket her mother had tossed out the evening before. He was dead.

     Millie and the three children moved into Lawrence where Millie found work in a Boarding House, but difficulties followed. The three children came down with Cholera, all the "Boarders" but one, immediately moved out, and times were very tough. Two of the children, the oldest son, James aged 9 and the infant son both died of the dreaded disease. If it had not been for the one "boarder" who stayed, Cornelia and her mother would "surely have perished." The boarder was a wagon-maker from Indiania. He arranged for a team and wagon, and with his help, all three left Kansas and started back for Illinois. The trip was very difficult, the three of them sleeping in barns at times. They arrived after considerable hardships, back in Morgan County, Illinois, by late Fall/Winter of 1856.

     The Boarder was named William Tharp. He and Millie Scribner were married in Jacksonville, county seat of Morgan County, Ill, on 4 May 1857.

William Tharp and Millie were my great-great-grandparents.

Little Cornelia grew up in the Franklin area, married Samuel Newton Brown in Jacksonville, on 8 Jan. 1864. She and her family moved to California in about 1884, and in about 1927, she told her story about "the troubled times" in Kansas to her granddaughter, Martha Jane Brown, then aged 13. In February 1996, Martha Jane (Brown) Tedrow told the story to me.
                  Tommy E. Graham
                  21 February 1996


1.  From "The Civil War--Brother against brother" by William C. Davis and the editors of Time-Life books. pg. 76:
"--The newly appointed Governor, Wilson Shannon of Cincinnati, managed to pacify the hotheads and prevent any shooting. But the bloodshed was not postponed for long. In the spring of 1856 Sheriff Jones twice went to Lawrnece to enforce arrest warrants, and both times he was forcibly rebuffed. Shortly after the second attempt, he was shot and wounded in an ambush by Free State men. Soon thereafter, the Douglas County grand jury returned indictments against several Free Staters, two newspapers, and the Free State Hotel--all in Lawrence, and all charged with treason.

"A federal marshal made a few arrests, but the Border Ruffians were unsatisfied. Bent on bringing the whole settlement to heel, if not to justice, they rode into Lawrnece on May 21 and sacked the town. They wrecked the offending presses, bombarded the seemingly impregnable Free State Hotel with cannon and set it afire along with the Free State Governor's house. -----."
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2.  From "The Bicentennial Almanac" edited by Calvin D. Linton, Ph. D.:
"May 24-25 John Brown, an abolitionist who had come to Kansas to prevent it from becoming a slave state, leads a group that includes four of his sons to retaliate for the violence at Lawrence. The band slaughters five pro-slavery colonists living near Dutch Henry's Crossing at Pottawatomie Creek." The settlers (James Doyle with his two sons, William and Drury, Allen Wilkinson, and James Harris) were called from their cabins and hacked to death with sabers.
From "The Golden Book of the Civil War" pg 24:
Following the attack on Lawrence, ---"Confusion and hatred hung over Kansas like a blinding fog. Patrols of free-soil men clashed with patrols of pro-slavery men. There were barn-burnings, horse-stealing and occasional shootings."
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3.  From "The Civil War--Brother against brother" by William C. Davis and the editors of Time-Life books. pg. 79:
---"In the aftermath of the Pottawatomie Massacre, John Brown lay low in his camp in the Kansas brush. For weeks the antislavery forces and the Border Ruffians postured and threatened but managed to avoid a pitched battle. A few skirmishes did take place. The largest was an attack by 250 pro-slavery men on Osawatomie, near where Brown and his followers were camped. One of Brown's sons was killed in the clash."---
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