William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]


The early settlers, or "squatters" as they were called, that came into the Territory and selected claims, after the passage of the Nebraska bill, as far as possible, before the ratification of the treaties with the Indians throwing the land open to settlement, secured them by occupying or making improvements upon them. To further still protect themselves, associations were formed for mutual protection and support. In what was afterwards Douglas County, two of these associations were organized before the first New England party arrived in the Territory. A call was issued for a meeting of the settlers at Blue Jacket's store on the Wakarusa, on July 8, 1854. The Free State settlers, understanding this to be a meeting of those friendly to making Kansas a Free State, attended the meeting so far as possible, but found it to be a meeting of squatters and claimants to adopt rules and regulations in regard to claims. A number of those present were strong Pro-slavery men, and desired to introduce resolutions against emigrants opposed to this institution, but the Free-soil element was too strong, and the difficulty was smoothed over by a compromise resolution to the effect that any person had a right to bring his property into the territory, of whatever kind it might be; and that when the Territory should have a population sufficient to form a State, the question of slavery could be settled by the will of the majority. The author of the resolution, a young Pro-slavery lawyer, then made a speech welcoming men of all classes into the Territory and expressing his willingness to leave the future character of the State to the decision of the people. One of the more rabid Pro-slavery men present dissented from the resolution and speech, declaring his determination to fight to the last against Eastern men and the Massachusetts Emigrant Movement in particular. Richard Mendenall, the honored teacher at the Quaker Mission, was present at the meeting, and wrote the account from which these fact are taken. This was the formation of the Wakarusa Association, which was organized with a corps of officers and had its own rules and regulations. Anther association was formed called the "Actual Settlers' Association," composed, as the name indicates, of those who actually dwelt on their claims.

Of this John A. Wakefield, was President, and S. N. Wood, Register. As settlers came into the Territory, they joined either association, according to their preference. On the 12th of August, a meeting of the settlers was called, to meet at the house of Brice W. Miller, at "Miller's Spring," or Millersburg. This was an important meeting. The "Yankees" had now come into "Wakarusa" and it was necessary that rules and regulations should be made at once to suit the exigencies of the case. So, although the call was for a meeting of the "The Actual Settlers' Association," and although it was well known that a clause in the constitution of the society declared that "none but actual settlers should vote at its meeting" still, in spite of this, or, perhaps, because of this, the members of the other association were on the ground in full force. Settlers and claimants came in from all directions - some from a distance of forty or fifty miles - on mules, on horseback, in vehicles of all descriptions, bringing provisions and plenty of whiskey, and camping around in the vicinity of the house until the time appointed for the meeting. The following account of the meeting was written by one present and published in the Boston Commonwealth of August 28, 1854***.

*** W. H. T. Wakefield writes concerning this letter: "I was one of the secretaries and still have the original manuscripts. There are many errors in above, but none of great importance. The meeting held at Miller's Spring, one mile from Lawrence, was on August 26, 1854; the first and only one held except a small preliminary meeting one week previous, at which nothing was done but to call this meeting." Mr. Wakefield is a son of Judge Wakefield, and a witness entitled to full credence; yet his recollection renders the above account anachronistic. The letter appeared in the Boston Commonwealth August 28, and was dated, Kansas Territory, August 14. -ED

The letter is dated Kansas Territory, Monday, August 14, 1854 and is as follows:

According to previous notice, the Actual Settlers' Association of Kansas territory met at the house of Mr. Miller, at Millersburg, in said Territory, August 12, 1854. The meeting was called to order by John A. Wakefield, Esq., President of the Association, who also stated the object of the meeting to be a mutual conference of the actual settlers of Kansas Territory. Some confusion here ensued, as a majority of those present were from Missouri-not actual settlers in the Territory, but claimed a right to vote as members of another association, and as intended settlers of this Territory, having staked out claims.

Mr. Dunham, of Missouri, made a long speech in favor (as he said) of the right of Missourians to make laws for the government of Kansas, on the ground that it was their intention to settle here at some future time. Mr. William Lyon, of this Territory, replied, and much sparring here ensued between different parties. Suspicous-looking bottles occupied a conspicuous position before the meeting. The contents were freely imbibed by the gentlemen from Missouri seeming to produce on their side of the house a disposition to blow off a certain amount of bombast with the innocent intention, no doubt, of frightening this meeting into the belief that Kansas was, and actually is, within the boundaries of the State of Missouri. Failing this, they manifested a disposition to compromise the case, the bone of contention being a provision in the constitution or by-laws of the Actual Settlers' Association "that none but actual settlers should be allowed to vote at the meeting of the association".

H. D. Woodworth, Esq., of New Orleans, came forward and asked the privilege "as a stranger and looker-on in Venice" to throw in the "calumet of peace" he proposed the appointment of a Committee of Conference from each association, to retire and agree upon a plan of union. Mr. Cameron, of Kansas; here announced that the Wakarusa Association had appointed Messrs. Dunham, Lykins and Hayes, such a committee on the part of their association. the President appointed Dr. John Doy, Messrs. William Lyon and A. H. Mallory as a Committee for the Actual Settlers' Association and the committee were directed to retire and report forthwith. On motion of Mr. S. N. Wood, the meeting took a recess of half an hour. At the expiration of that time, the associations were again called to order by the President, both associations appearing and acting together. The Conference Committee then came forward and made a report (in which a majority agreed) which was adopted as follows:

WHEREAS, The laws of the United States confer upon citizens the privilege of settling and holding lands by preemption rights; and whereas, the Kansas Valley, in part, is now open for the location of such claims; and whereas, we , the people of the convention, have and are about to select homes in this valley, and in order to protect the public good, and to secure equal justice to all, we solemnly agree and bind ourselves to be governed by the following ordinances:

1. We recognize the right of every citizen of the United States, of lawful age, or who may be the head of a family, to select, mark and claim 200 acres of land, viz: 160 acres of prairie, and forty acres of timber land, and who shall within sixty days after the treaty is ratified, proceed to erect thereon a cabin, or such other improvements as he may deem best, and shall, within sixty days after the ratification of the treaties, enter thereon as a resident.

2. A claim thus marked and registered shall be good sixty days from the ratification of the treaty, at which time the claimant, if the head of a family, shall move upon and make his home on either the prairie or timber claims, which shall make them both good and shall be regarded so by the settlers. Single persons or females making claims shall be entitled to hold them by becoming residents of the Territory, whether upon their claims or otherwise. Any person making a claim as above shall be entitled to a day additional for every five miles they have to travel to reach their families.

3. No person shall hold more than one claim, directly or indirectly.

4. No one shall be allowed to enter upon any previously made or marked claim.

5. All persons failing to commence improving or entering thereupon within the time specified, shall forfeit the same, and it shall be lawful for any other citizen to enter thereupon.

6. Each claimant shall, at all reasonable times, hold himself in readiness to point out the extent of his claim to any person who may wish to ascertain the fact.

7. It shall be the duty of the register to put every applicant upon proof, oath, or affirmation, that the claim offered for registry is free from the claim of any other person.

8. Every application for registry shall be made in the following form, viz: "I apply for certificate of registry for claim selected and marked, on this _____day of ___, 1854, lying and being in ___, containing 160 acres of prairie and forty acres of timber land and declare upon honor that said claim was selected and marked, on the ___of ___, and that I am claiming but the one in my own right, and that it was not claimed or elected by any other person." To be signed by the applicant. Any person failing to make this certificate shall not be entitled to register.

9. We agree, upon the survey of the Territory, to mutually deed and re-deed to each other, so as to leave as near as possible as claimed.

10. The officers of this association shall be, one Chief Justice, on Register, one Marshall and one Treasurer.

11. The duty of the Chief Justice shall be to try and decide all disputed between settlers in reference to claims or otherwise, and to try all criminals or persons guilty of the violation of the laws of the Territory. The said Chief Justice shall always take justice between man and man as his guide; and upon the demand of either party shall summon a jury of six persons to try all disputes or violation of the law, the jury to be selected as follows, viz: The Chief Justice to write down the names of eighteen persons and each party to mark to mark alternately until six names only are left, the defendant marking first. The Chief Justice shall also act as President of all meetings of the association, and in his absence a President pro tem, shall be appointed.

12. The duty of the Register shall be to register all claims and other necessary matter, act as Secretary of all meeting of the association, and to act as Chief Justice in his absence or where he may be a party interested.

13. The Marshall shall execute all decisions of the Chief Justice or Juries, and shall see that the laws of the association are executed and shall have power, if necessary, to call upon all members of this association to assist in executing the same.

14. The limits of this association shall be the waters of the Wakarusa and Kansas Rivers, and the Territory between the same, from the mouth of the Wakarusa up to the Shawnee purchase.

15. It shall be the duty of the Marshall on the complaint of any citizen, by himself or Deputy, to summons and bring before the Chief Justice the parties for trial.

16. The officers of this association shall receive a suitable compensation for their services, which sum shall be decided by the association.

17. A Treasurer shall be appointed by the association, who shall give approved security for the faithful disbursement of all moneys that shall be received into the treasury.

18. The Treasurer shall be authorized to pay all drafts for the expenses of the association when presented to him, signed by the President and Secretary.

19. The officers shall be elected by the association, and, by a majority vote of the same, removed.

20. Officers of the association shall be residents of Kansas Territory.

21. The Coon River, Wakarusa and all other associations are dissolved from this date.

Dr. John Doy and Mr. William Lyon also made a minority report, in favor of an additional article, confining voting to actual settlers. A motion was made and carried, that both reports be received, and the committee discharged. Mr. Wood then remarked that he was in favor of harmony and wanted to be on both sides, and moved the adoption of both reports which motion was unanimously carried, and the reports adopted.

On motion of Mr. Dunham, the association then assumed the name of "The Mutual Settlers' Association of Kansas Territory." The association then proceeded to the election of permanent officers with this result: Chief Justice, John A. Wakefield; Register, J. W. Hayes; Marshall, William H. R. Lykins; Treasurer, William Lyon.

On motion of Dr. Doy, the money in the treasury of the Actual Settlers' Association, was ordered to be paid to S. N. Wood for his services as register.

On motion of H. Cameron, Esq., the association adjourned sine die.

The result of this meeting, as is seen, was a fusion of the two conflicting elements for purposes of mutual benefit. It broke up with the best possible feeling on both sides, each party asserting and half believing that they had gained a glorious victory, and yet, not quite sure but they might have been outwitted after all. That the Missourians were somewhat alarmed at the situation is evident from the fact that a meeting was called at Westport the following Saturday night (August 19), which was addressed by the same gentlemen who were the leaders at Millersburg (Messrs. Dunham and Woodworth). The object of this meeting was stated to be : "To protect this frontier from the threatened invasion of the "pioneers" that have arrived and are still arriving through the agency of this Emigrant Aid Association, organized by the Abolition fanatics," etc. Mssrs. Dunham and Woodworth both made speeches urging upon the citizens of Missouri and the necessity of immediate action for the protection of their homes and property and picturing in vivid colors the dangers that threatened their beloved "institution." Mr. Woodworth "trusted that the citizens of Missouri, true to their early zeal for the institutions they had inherited, and the love and sanctity of their homes, would not supinely rest as they saw these institutions threatened, and their homes, endangered by a society of members so brazen as to seek to shield their iniquity by a "higher law" than overshadows the endearments of that enchanting word, "Home". His flowery speech had the desired effect, as through the remarks at this meeting, a "sentiment was awakened" in Westport, and "the people aroused to a sense of their danger."


The first Eastern correspondent was S. N. Wood, who wrote to the National Era from Independence, Mo., June 20, 1854: "A dozen Free-soil families have commenced a settlement on Kansas River and a meeting of those friendly to making Kansas a Free State is called for July 8." On the 27th of June, he writes: "We arrived here about a week ago for the purpose of settling in Kansas, and contributing our mite to prevent slavery cursing the fairest part of creation. We have made one short trip to the Indian country, and satisfied ourselves that a man can get there most just such a farm as he pleases." In July, he says: "Emigrants are arriving in scores, tents are stretched all over the prairies, cabins are popping up in all directions. Labor is plenty. A man, though poor, is he can and will work, can do well here. A man with only a team is independent. But to those who have no means, who can't, or won't work, Kansas is no place for you."

When Capt. Harvey's men were taken prisoners after the battle of Hickory Point, September 13, 1856, they were indicted for various crimes and imprisoned at Lecompton. Capt. A. Cutler, of Lawrence, was made principal in the indictment for manslaughter, and eighty-eight from Lawrence were indicted for being present at Hickory Point, and under arms, on Sunday, the 13th of January. Among Harvey's men indicted for murder in the first degree was Thomas W. Porterfield, formerly of Preble County,. Ohio. He was charged as principal-others being accessory. Mr. Porterfield had once been a soldier under Gen, Jackson. In the spring of 1856, he left his home in Ohio, on hearing of outrages committed in the family of his daughter in Kansas, and, shouldering his musket, came on .... to the Territory, at the age of seventy-two years, to take his part in the struggle. At the time the trouble occurred at Lecompton, which resulted in the death of Sherrard, the old gentleman was present, and the by-?? had much difficulty in restraining his indignation within the bounds of prudence, when Sherrard fired the first shot at Shepard.

In January, 1859, Dr. John Doy, his son Charles, and Mr. Clough, all of Lawrence, started from that city to conduct thirteen negroes by way of the Underground Railroad, through Nebraska, and taken refuge in Lawrence. The party was intercepted on the north bank of the Kaw, a few miles from Lawrence, and fifty miles from the eastern boundary of the Territory, by a treaty of Missourians and Pro-slavery Kansans and taken across the Missouri to St. Joseph, where, after a pretended examination before a Justice of the Peace, in default of $5,000 bail, Doy and his son were committed to prison in the Platte County Jail on a charge of stealing negroes from Missouri- a crime punishable with death, according to the statues of that State. On Doy's first trial, the jury failed to agree; on the second trial, which took place at St. Joseph, June, 1859, the jury brought in verdict of guilty and Doy and his son were sentenced to the penitentiary for five years. Gov. Shannon and Gen A. C. Davis, of Kansas Territory, and Judge Spratt, of Platte County, Mo, had been employed as prisoners' counsel, and in accordance with a motion made by the defense, judgment in the case was arrested sixty days, and the prisoners remanded to the St. Joseph jail, from whence Charles Doy effected his escape. Doy's friends in Lawrence saw that the time had now arrived for them to attempt his rescue-before he should be removed from the jail at St. Joseph. A party for that purpose was accordingly formed, led by Maj. James B. Abbott, now of DeSoto, Johnson Co., Kan., and consisting, besides himself, of Silas Soule, Joshua A. Pike, S. J. Willis, Joseph Gardner, John E. Steward, Thomas Simmons, Charles Doy, Lenox and George W. Hays. The party organized at Lawrence, and then dispersed to meet and arrange their plan of operations at Elwood, opposite St. Joseph. The party crossed the Missouri during the night of Saturday, July 23, a little below the St. Joseph ferry, and after remaining some little time in the city, under assumed characters, familiarizing themselves with the streets and localities, and establishing communication with the prisoner, they finally made their way to the jail on a dark night, and in the midst of a driving storm, and on pretense of securing a horse thief whom they had caught, and who could not well be examined before morning, induced the jailer to give them access to the interior of the building. As soon as they had accomplished this purpose, they made their way to the cell of Dr. Doy, and prevailed upon the jailer, by the unanswerable argument of a loaded revolver at his heart, to offer no resistance to the consummation of their design. The prisoner was released, and the party proceeded, unmolested to the street, and by mingling with the crowds just leaving the theaters, and aided by the alarm and confusion occasioned by a fire alarm, succeeded in gaining the opposite shore in safety, where they were met by friends and conducted to Lawrence.

During the second week of February, 1859, a very exciting scene occurred in Lawrence. A general amnesty act had just been passed by the Legislature, and approved by Gov. Medary, exempting from prosecution all criminal offenses heretofore committed in the southeastern counties of Kansas, and dismissing all criminal actions already commenced. Prior to the passage of this act, the jurisdiction of the District Court of Douglas County had been extended over the counties of Linn, Bourbon and Lykins, for criminal purposes, and when the amnesty took effect, the grand jury then in session at Lawrence had issued a large number of subpoenas to the citizens of those counties, while the Marshals of the respective counties were instructed to bring all criminals held or arrested to Lawrence, for trial before the Grand Jury.

In accordance with orders, Deputy Marshal Campbell, of Bourbon County, started for Lawrence with sixteen prisoners and thirty-two witnesses. When he arrived at the Wakarusa he was met by a messenger from Lawrence informing him of the passage of the amnesty act, and with a copy of the same for him to read, but giving him no specific instructions in regard to the prisoners in his charge. The Marshal accordingly halted his posse and rode on to Lawrence to consult his superior, Marshal Colby, but, finding he had left town, he visited Gov. Medary, and, in accordance with his advice, returned to the Wakarusa, ordered the chains from his prisoners, and dismissed his posse and witnesses. Some of the prisoners refused to be thus treated; they had worn the chains so far, and they chose to be taken into Lawrence with them on, and create as much sympathy as was possible. In the meantime, the element in Lawrence that always delighted in a sensation, and an excitement, had been busy at work, and before the Marshal reached the city, the "boys" were fully convinced that a "posse of Missourians" under the command of the notorious C. H. Hamilton, of Marais des Cygnes notoriety, was bringing to Lawrence a party of Free-state prisoners in chains. The inflammable portion of the populace was soon at fever heat, and, as the rumor spreads, crowds gathered on the streets, boiling and almost hissing with indignation. The innocent posses of the Deputy Marshall, headed by Capt. John Hamilton, of Bourbon County, a stanch Free-state man, had decided that they would go on to Lawrence as they were so near, and not having any convenient place to store their arms on the Wakarusa rode up Massachusetts Street in a body, well armed and well mounted. The cry of "Hamilton, the murderer of Choteau's Trading Post," was raised, and the excited throng rushed pell-mell through the streets, down Massachusetts to Pinkey, down Pinkey to New Hampshire, and along New Hampshire to the outskirts of the town. Several shots were fired but no one hurt. The citizens disarmed the posse, and the parties returned to town, where, the mistake being made evident, the citizens, including "the boys" quieted down and listened to speeches from Gov. Medary and Jim Lane. All of the posse except two were Free-state men, and they were generally opposed to the jayhawking movements in Southern Kansas.

[TOC] [part 3] [part 1] [Cutler's History]