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


[TOC] [part 7] [part 5] [Cutler's History]


During October, 1854, two Kansas Free-state newspapers were established. John and J. L. Speer, the pioneer editors and publishers of Lawrence, arrived in that place, September 29, 1854. Mr. John Speer prepared the copy for the first number of his paper, which was to be called the Kansas Pioneer and took it to the office of the Kansas City Enterprise (Judge Story) to have it printed, according to previous arrangement. On finding it a pronounced Free-state paper, Mr. Story refused to print it, and Mr. Speer then took his copy to the office of the Leavenworth Herald, where he met with a similar experience. He then returned to his old home at Medina, Ohio and issued his paper dated October 15, 1854, from that place, under the name he had selected. Following are a few extracts from the paper:

"LAND FOR THE LANDLESS-- The general interests of the pioneer - the industrious, frugal and honest emigrant who seeks here a home for his family - shall not be neglected. Our aim shall be to advocate and urge such treaties with the Indians as shall bring the lands of the Territory within the reach of the poor as well as the rich; laboring to create a public sentiment which shall demand of the General government such a disposition of the public domain as shall open it to the free occupation of actual settlers in preference to favoritism to speculators. the true interests of the Territory, its speedy settlement, its general intelligence, all demand that its soil shall be subject to occupancy by the now landless and homeless freemen of the entire Union.

"A Chief of the Delaware tribe presented the editors of the Pioneer with an ear of corn sixteen inches long. A gentleman from New Orleans says that judging from the appearance of the soil, it will produce cotton ten feet high.

"The City of Lawrence has now about 200 inhabitants.

"****We should act together as freemen, having a common interest and a common destiny, dropping all our local prejudices and identifying ourselves emphatically as Kansans - knowing no such distinctions as Missourians, Ohioans or Eastern or Western men. With Kansas our interest and our destiny are leagued, and it should be our pride to be identified also with her name, and be known only as Kansas men."

Mr. Speer then returned to Lawrence, and, finding Pro-slavery paper, called the Pioneer, had been established at Kickapoo, changed the name of his own to the Kansas Tribune, the first number of which was published at Lawrence January 5, 1855, an earlier issue being prevented by the delay of his material on the Missouri River. S. N. Wood was associated with Mr. Speer as editor of the Kansas Tribune.

The Herald of Freedom was established by G. W. Brown, the first number being dated Wakarusa, Kas. Ter., October 24, 1854. The following letter from Eli Thayer appeared in the first issue of the paper:

Worcester, Sept., 22, 1854
G. W. Brown, Esq.,

DEAR SIR- As our company have selected you as a suitable person to conduct a paper in Kansas territory which shall represent our interests there, I take the liberty of making a few suggestions in regard to the great work upon which you are now engage.

Your paper will not only be the "Herald of freedom" but the herald of new from Kansas to its numerous readers. We shall look to it for tidings from our pioneers in the territory, individually and collectively. We expect it to be the chronicle of important incidents, whether personal or public, of truthful and reliable information in regard to the resources of the Territory and the moral intellectual and physical progress of the people there.

Our agents there are reliable men, who will present to you their credentials, and will often furnish communications for the columns of your paper. They are all able writers, and devoted heart and soul to the interests of Kansas. They will explore the country minutely and give to you for publication the results of their labors. You may at all times rely upon their truth and fidelity.

Besides these aids in your enterprise, you will often be furnished with articles from gentlemen of our emigrant parties, many of whom are liberally educated and professional men. We hope, as far as your limits will allow, you will give them place in your columns, and thus give each subscriber the pleasure of occasionally reading an article over the signature of a well-known friend of Kansas.

We pledge to you our hearty good will and cheerful co-operation in the noble work which you have devoted yourself. Truly yours,

President of the Emigrant
Aid Company

The Herald Freedom was the first paper printed as a Kansas paper and the first paper printed at Lawrence, although the date of its second issue, the first printed on Kansas soil, was later than that of the Tribune as the latter was antedated.

The office of the Herald of Freedom, in Lawrence, was completed the 1st of January, 1855. it was a frame structure 18x30 feet on the ground and a story and a half in height. The boards were of green cottonwood fifteen to twenty inches in width. Mr. Brown delayed in issuing the second number of his paper in consequence of the non-arrival of his stock and material, which arrived on the last boat of the season. Even then his office was unfinished, and he commenced distributing type on Christmas evening, 1854, in a roofless building, but was happy in the knowledge that he had four tons of paper on hand a sufficient quantity of ink to work it up. A job office was connected with the establishment. The press was from the establishment of A. B. Taylor & Company, New York and is still in use in Jefferson County.

The first number of the Kansas free State was published at Lawrence, January 3, 1855, the first free-State paper actually issued from a press in the Territory. Josiah Miller and R. G. Elliott were the editors and proprietors. Mr. Mill was a South Carolinian, but he stated in his initial paper that the Free State was "uncompromisingly opposed to the introduction of slavery into Kansas, as tending to improvise the soil, to stifle all energy and enterprise, to paralyze the hand of industry and to weaken intellectual effort,"

He further defines his position thus: "there are thousands of genuine free-soilers at the South, men like ourselves, who hold opinion in common with the fathers of the Republic regarding slavery a great evil, and are in no wise desirous of having it extended beyond its original limits. But we say as regards this question, that we establish our press here, knowing no North, no South, no East, no West but the very best interests of the American people. ** We come not then as the peculiar advocate of any section. We disavow all connection with emigrant aid societies, have nothing to do with them and have no confidence in them. We stand here upon our own individual responsibility, claiming nothing more than to be considered two of the humble citizens of Kansas territory."

Mr. Miller visited the territory in the spring of 1854, and again in August, with the design of establishing a paper, Mr. Elliott remaining near Cincinnati, to purchase stock and material to bring to Kansas as soon as Mr. Miller decided on a location. Owing to the imperfection of mail communication, Mr. Miller finally went back to Cincinnati, bought a part of his office outfit and was again detained at St. Louis waiting for type. He finally arrived at Lawrence and started his paper in an office "having no floor, ceiling or window sash." Mr. Miller was afterward taken prisoner between Lawrence and Lecompton, taken to the latter place and tried by Buford on the charge of treason to South Carolina.

The Fourth Party left Boston October 17. It numbered 230 - mostly mechanics from the New England States and New York. Seventy of the party were women and children. They were accompanied as far as Detroit by Mr. John M. C. Williams, of Cambridge, Mass; were there met by Mr. Branscomb, and arrived at Lawrence October 30. Many of this party went to the Osage settlement, a party of fifty emigrants from Ohio arrived at Lawrence two days before - mostly very young men or mere boys - who came totally unprovided with any shelter, and utterly incapable of providing any for themselves. On finding they must actually build cabins and live in them to secure a claim, they became discouraged and nearly all left the Territory, some returning to Ohio, a few remaining in Missouri to be ready to return to Kansas in the spring, and a very few, more courageous than the rest, remaining in Lawrence. Among others who came to Lawrence with the Fourth New England Party, was Mrs. C. I. H. Nichols, of Brattleboro, Vt, well known as an eloquent speaker and writer in behalf of Kansas and reform. She came with her two sons and after they were settled at Lawrence, returned to Vermont to make preparations for a permanent removal in the spring. She wrote a graphic description of her experience in October and November, 1854, which was published in the Brattleboro paper, and from which extracts are given:

When I arrived here, like all the new-comers, I was taken to a lodging house, and supplied with plenty of prairie hay for a bed, and having come without bedding, in my ignorance of the customs of the country, it was kindly loaned me by a member of the city association. This lodging house is made of poles, or small timbers, and in form and size reminds one of the stray roof of a huge warehouse. This pole roof is thatched upon the outside with prairie hay and is all hay and poles to the view inside; cotton cloth covers the gable ends, which have doors of the same material nailed to pole frames. Since the weather has grown cooler, and the wind whistled uncomfortably through the hay roof, a laying of the dry tough prairie sod has been put over the whole building and windows introduced into one end as a substitute for the darkened cloth gables. There is a large "city dining hall" constructed in the same manner, where one hundred and more take their meals at $2.50 per week. The first three days I ate at the public table with my sons; then I commenced housekeeping like my sister emigrants, and now comes the rich humor of my experience in Kansas life - a specimen of pioneer life the country over.

The theater of our operations, or rather our cooking area was the city "Levee", on which these temporary shelters or lodging houses are built; and now fancy breakfast - getting for some twenty families and companies which have kindled as many fires, some with two or three stones to hold up the kettles and pans, and a very few with "stick cranes'. The cooks are prominent in the scene and about as many of them are men as women. Yonder is a grave middle aged man without a crane or stones, toiling manfully to boil his tea kettle or fry his Missouri-cured "side-pork" without upsetting the one or burning the other, both of which he accomplishes in spite of his efforts to the contrary, and swallows his breakfast and chagrin, muttering something to the purpose of woman's genius for cooking.

There is a woman, her skirts burned full of holes by the model "fire-place" and what remains of them converted into a sort of fringe by the prairie stubble, her breakfast is a simple one - coffee or tea, and mush, which is eaten with molasses; but she has a tear in either eye, for the smoke loiters near the earth. Yonder breakfast left to itself a moment, for a crying baby has drawn the mother into the tent, as it is called - has tipped over, and the beef soup is flowing from the camp kettle into the spattering flame. But you have not time to linger here, so please follow me into the tents and see the eaters. Many of them, it is true, eat sitting on the ground outside; but there are men and boys who have no "woman cook." But as we are passing the various groups, we may as well stop at the cart near at hand. The emigrants are buying beef of men who bring it in almost daily from the prairies in the vicinity, it is the best beef I ever found outside a city stall and has the advantage of being fed in the open air, with a wide range and plenty of water. Five dollars the hundred pounds, the whole creature, or five cents the fore, and six cents the hind quarter is the common price.

But we are going to look in upon the eaters in this huge tent, where between fifty and one hundred are accommodated. Yonder is a man, his wife, three children and his father and mother - a venerable and excellent couple - eating from the top of a box. Two or three cups and saucers serve for the whole tea drinking, ditto plates, etc. The salt and the pepper are in papers, a tin cup is the teapot, and the little boxes and the ground their seats. There is a group of men standing round a frying pan, each with a piece of bread in hand, dipping in the gravy and eating with slices of bacon. There is a company of men around a plate of pancakes, which they raised with cream of tartar and soda, and spread with molasses as they laid them on the plate. There is no butter here, or only occasionally was a few pounds are brought from Missouri. I have not tasted any in three weeks.

As the cold weather came on, it was evident that Lawrence had all she could take care of and more; many of the cabins were still without a floor, and the cloth doors were little protection against the chilly nights. Urgent letters were written to the East, begging that no more emigrants be sent forward until the following spring, when they would be able to prepare for winter. Two more New England parties, however, arrived before 1855; the fifth, of 100 members, under Jerome B. Taft, on November 20, and the sixth and last, of fifty members, December 1.

A petition for a tri-weekly mail was forwarded to the Department at Washington in October and Mr. E. D. Ladd was appointed by the citizens to discharge the duties of Postmaster. Prior to this, the mail matter had been stopped at Kansas City or Westport, and brought to Lawrence by private individuals. Mr. C. W. Babcock was the first regularly appointed Postmaster, his commission being dated February 8, 1855. He held his office at first in the house of Mr. Lykins "over the ravine" and afterward at an office which he built on Massachusetts street. A two horse hack was then used to carry the mail to Westport.

On the 11th of November, the first snow-storm of the season occurred: about two inches fell, and remained on the ground a few days. It found some of the emigrants in poor condition for such a visitor, as the following letter, dated Lawrence, November 12, shows:

It is quite cold here for the 12th of November. Yesterday we were greeted by a pretty severe snow-storm, for which we were hardly prepared, our house being in no better condition to receive such a guest than an orchard with the bars down. This morning I crawled from under my buffalo skin, after having slept as soundly as any one could suppose, who could see the pile of snow I had for a bed. I kindled a fire in our rough stone fire place, but the smoke rolled in upon us at such a rate, that we were compelled to remove the fire, not to the middle of the floor, but the middle of the floor would be if we only had a floor. By doing this we would get to the windward off the fire and thus avoid the smoke. If you could only see a true picture of us now, as we are seated upon a trunk beside the fire, with our feet extended to keep them warm, and a large tool chest at our backs, with the lid raised to break the wind, and a Buffalo pelt drawn closely about us, each taking good care to get his share, you might be quite as good natured while looking at the pictures as we are enjoying the reality.
After this cold "snap" the weather was again warm and pleasant until January 21, when the second snow-storm occurred; about four inches fell, the weather was very cold, and the river froze over for the first time. On the 26th of December, the thermometer stood at 64 degrees in the shade and 86 degrees in the sun. January 19 at 55 degrees in a northern exposure, the mean temperature of the month being 36 degrees, a most fortunate circumstance for the emigrants, who were able to pursue their out of door avocations nearly all winter.

On November 11, Mr. T. A. Ladd writes to the Milwaukee Sentinel:

Before my window is a tent with poles set over it in the same form and thatched. In this place was the advent of the first little immortal to this world of sin and sorrow, which has been made in this city. A committee was appointed at a public meeting of the citizens to take the case into consideration, and propose to a subsequent meeting suitable action to be taken by the city or association, it was proposed to donate the little visitor a city lot, which will undoubtedly be done.

The "little visitor" thus alluded to was Lawrence Carter, born October 26, 1854. He was presented a lot by the Association, which is now about in the center of the city of Lawrence. By a notice of the same Lawrence Carter which appeared in the Atchison Champion of June. 1875, headed "A Brave Lawrence Boy," it appears that he was at that time fireman on the yard engine of the A & M road and that he had just saved the life of a little son of D. G. Lett, formerly of Lawrence, by plunging into the swift current of the Missouri and rescuing him as was about sinking for the third time.

After the election of November 29, when the Missourians made their first raid on the ballot-box, many of the emigrants returned to the East to prepare to bring out their families in the spring, the city having passed an ordinance that all who left before the election should forfeit their city interests. The election was for Delegate to Congress. At Lawrence, Judge Wakefield received 188 votes; Flenniken, 51; Whitfield, 45; Chapman, 9; Dr. Robinson, 2; Pomeroy, 2; William L. Garrison, 1. At Douglas, where there were but 51 legal voters, but where the Missourians "most did congregate" 283 votes were returned for Whitfield and 36 for all others.

The day brought a great amount of drunkenness and violence. At Lawrence, a crowd of roughs collected around a barrel of whiskey, one of the most violent of the number, in threats and denunciations of the "Yankees" being ** Henry Davis, from "the Wakarusa" After voting, at 2 o'clock, he, in company with John Collins, Edward Blyth, Alexander Sebastian and Napoleon B. Blanton started on foot for home. About three miles from Lawrence, this party passed by a wagon containing Lucius Kibbey of Iowa, a Free-state man, N. D. Johnson and a Mr. Dailey. Mr. Kibbey believing that he discovered Collins in the act of setting fire to a cabin on the road, made some remark which offended him. The quarrel was taken up by Davis who became very violent and abusive, attacking Kibbey (who was still in the wagon) with his knife. The affair ended in Kibbey's shooting Davis, s he claimed, in self defense. He gave himself up to the authorities within a few days and after a hearing before Judge Elmore, was committed for murder in the first degree and brought before Chief Justice Lecompte on a writ of habeas corpus December 27. His trail took place at the Shawnee Mission. Messrs. H. A. Hutchinson and J. T. Brady were counsel for the prosecution, and Messrs. S. N. Wood, H. C. Safford, C. Albright and Haldeman for defense. The prisoner was acquited. This was the first trail for murder in Kansas. On the same day, John Lowery, of Ohio, was shot through the leg by Dr. Doy, of New York, in consequence of a claim difficulty.

At the close of 1854, the city of Lawrence contained about fifty dwelling houses, some of shakes, some grass-covered, some sod and log, some of tarred canvas and one or two covered with oak boards. There were two boarding houses, Messrs. Litchfield & Burleigh and Fry & Kennedy, a saw and planing mill which had been running about three weeks, a butcher's shop and two stores. Four religious societies had been formed - Congregationalist, Rev. S. Y. Lum; Methodist, Rev. Hall; United Brethren, Rev. G. W. Hutchison; and Swedenborgian, for whom Mr. E. D. Ladd officiated as reader. The census of this town was taken in the following February by C. W. Babcock, the returns being : Population, 400; foreigners, 41; females, 105. From Massachusetts, 90, New York, 59, Pennsylvania, 38, balance from the Western states.

The Kansas Athenoeum was established late in 1854, with the following officers: J. S. Emery, President; A. H. Mallory, S. C. Pratt, Vice President; John Hutchison, Corresponding Secretary; E. D. Ladd, Recording Secretary and Treasurer; S. N. Wood, Librarian; C. Robinson, S. C. Pomeroy, S. Y. Lum, John Mailey, S. J. Willis, Regents. The first donation of books from abroad was from Mr. Amos A, Lawrence and Mrs. Mary Webb of Boston. The introductory lecture of the course was delivered by the President, J. S. Emery, at the "St. Nicholas Hall" January 9, 1855. Subject, Eloquence and Oratory. The second address was by S. C. Pomeroy and the question for discussion at the meeting of January 30, was "Should the policy of non-intervention on the part of our Government be departed from in the present contest in Europe?" Disputants: Affirmative- J. Hutchison, J. Mailey; negative- J. Speer, E. Clarke.

**See State History for full account of political events of general interest

[TOC] [part 7] [part 5] [Cutler's History]