KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS

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


DOUGLAS COUNTY, Part 7

[TOC] [part 8] [part 6] [Cutler's History]

EVENTS OF 1855.

On the first day of the new year, steps were taken for founding a college, stakes being driven and stone hauled to the site of the Old University building by the agent and at the expense of the Emigrant Aid Society. Socially, the citizens celebrated the day by a banquet at the boarding house of Litchfield & Burleigh. Before the close of the month, this house was partially burned - the roof taking fire and the flames spreading to and burning a portion of the interior. Mr. Litchfield, wife and son and a daughter of Mr. Burleigh were lying very sick at the time in the house. On the 16th, Mr. Edward P. Fitch opened a free school - the first school in the city and county, in the rear end of Dr. Robinson's office, commencing his school with about twelve scholars. On the 18th, a meeting of the citizens was held in the school-room and Dr. Robinson, Dr. Doy and J. S. Emery appointed a School Committee for the ensuing year. Mr. S. F. Tappan was chosen Clerk and money was raised to carry on a school three and a half months. The office was entirely destroyed by fire on the 22nd - Dr. Robinson saving his books, however, and Mr. Fitch his school books and seat.

At the opening of the new year, the claim difficulties, which have been alluded to, were still unsettled; the citizens were divided into three parties - the Lawrence Association, in connection with the Emigrant Aid Society; the citizens who sympathized with the association, but were not members of it, and those opposed to the policy and operations of the society. The two former classes were called "insiders" and the latter "outsiders." All through the fall, the excitement was kept up by acts of aggression committed by irresponsible members of both parties. Before the New Englanders arrived, the timber claims were nearly all taken by the squatters, and doubtless, in their need, the former sometimes helped themselves to that which did not grow exactly within their own bounds. On the other hand, the emigrants who came in to actually settle and make a home, looked with longing eyes on the vacant claims set side in Lawrence for the use of the "Society" to be sold at some future time, as they believed, at prices perhaps beyond their means - and the longing sometimes developed into appropriating. Claims were "jumped" and rejumped until, in some respects, Lawrence became a sort of gymnasium, the prizes being secured by the most agile performers. In January, 1855, the troubles culminated in a call by the "outsiders" for a general mass meeting in which their grievances could be discussed.

At the opening of the Territory to settlement, people from Missouri rushed over the line and staked out nearly all the timber and other desirable claims, but did not occupy them, many being residents of Missouri even to this day; hence the claim difficulties chiefly arose in consequence of non-residents appearing after the land had been selected and occupied by Eastern settlers, and setting up claims, although no improvements had been made as contemplated by law. It was evidently the purpose of the Pro-slavery men to leave no room for an anti-slavery settler, and the doubtless hoped by means of squatter difficulties to harass and drive Eastern men from the Territory. It was really a political movement rather than honest claim disputes.

The following is a verbatim copy of hand bills announcing the meeting which were stuck up in every prominent place in the city and on the cabin doors of the squatters for miles around:

Territorial Indignation Meeting

We, these sovereign people of Kansas Territory, are requested to meet at Lawrence City on Thursday, January 11th, at 11 o'clock A. M. to adopt measures that will protect us from all moneyed associations or influences, also the tyrannical encroachments daily made by the Lawrence Association. On which occasion there will be speeches made to vindicate the squatter's right of pre-emption and the protection of his claim until entered.

Many
Citizens

The meeting was held according to call, John A. Wakefield being appointed President, and Clark Stearns and T. S. Gavin, Vice Presidents. It was attended by about 250 persons. It was a very stormy meeting and withal must have partaken somewhat of the ludicrous, as may be imagined when the effect of the following preamble and resolutions, as read by a person unfortunately afflicted with an impediment in his speech, is considered. The report is given as a literary curiosity worth of preservation in the annals of early Lawrence history:

Fellow Citizens; The assemblage of the sovereign people on this day by a spontaneous impulse, and for a common purpose, is a most glorious spectacle. And we too, friends and neighbors are together. The toils and cares of our daily avocations are laid aside; the disquietude and strifes that vex our poor humanity shall be lost in the mutual recognition of one grand settlement; and the turbulent, selfish interest here manifested for a period, under the overshadowing spell of sectional influences, which gloom pervades the hearts of men, whose actors, upon the grand rostrum of the future, chose as their talisman the sovereign ear whose compunction some slight affectionate caress of every victim of the oppressor triumph as the idol of their vain madness, and of their midnight orgies, which forever crush the rights of this people.

We have been weak - now, in justice, we are strong; more imposing than that of forty centuries from the old pyramids - the intellectual and progressive years of self-government of a free people. The fraternal influences - what are they? and why are we here this day? A handful of men on the western bank of the remotest tributary, whose waters pay homage to the Father of Waters, and yet only in the center of this immense confederacy, whose shade is a refuge for all nations of the earth, and the free breezes that unceasingly sweep through its branches, over the silent sepulchers of those who fought the good fight, and proclaimed to the world to be a free, independent and sovereign people. The seeds which they planted with tremulous apprehension are here this day, commingling their patriotic rebukes against that mercenary morbidness which characterizes the Lawrence Association as stock-jobbers and money-getter men of exchanges, and coteries and self-interest-covered from head to foot with the leprosy of materialism, until it shall submerge all opposition, by secret and unjust invasions, which, from their first advent in Kansas Territory up to the present, is opulence, title and despotism, with civil feuds, disserving all fraternal affections. We, the sovereign squatters, proclaim the manifesto of our absolute authority, and an inexorable interdict to every despotic invader upon our right, secured, and sanctified by the Congress of the United States. "Thus far shalt thou go, and go no further." We, the sovereign squatters, stand forth boldly upon our commanding eminence - the highest law of the land.

Compromising the plighted faith of the Government, that the land we now occupy shall be our future homes, upon which eminence we this day invite, for the last time, the false Belshazzar, who, with restless gaze, views the dauntless energy, which guides us to this grand consummation.

After a recital of various causes of complaint, the occupancy of claim belonging to "sovereign squatters" by the association, the cutting of timber on their claims by members of the same, with the consent of the "talisman, C. Robinson, or in justice termed the false Belshazzer, "whose" fell spirit no human means can reach with those fraternal affections untarnished by former dishonorable acts, not obscure to us, the sovereign squatters who are here this day. With one united voice, now and forever, we spurn with indignation the course here taken by the Lawrence Association who disregard and trample upon the laws that give us the right of pre-emption, and secures to us our homes and those comforts which our industry many accumulate; nor do we believe the Congress of the United States will allow such lawless and tyrannical encroachments secured by a heterogeneous mob to invalidate the right of our pre-emption." a set of resolutions followed the above preamble, concurring in and sustaining the sentiments expressed, two of them reading as follows:

1. Resolved, That, we have in good faith settled upon Government lands belonging to the United States, in view of pre-empting said lands according to the Act of September 4, 1841. Further, we mutually pledge each other to defend by law, and by force, if required, each and every squatter from lawless intruders who cut timber without permission or build upon our claims."

2. Resolved, That while we condemn the encroachments and usurpations of all oligarchies and moneyed aristocracies, we regard alike the rights and extend hearty welcome to all desirous of settling in our beautiful Kansas, whether from the North, South, East, or West.

Many who attended this meeting were diametrically opposed to the proceedings and to the resolutions adopted, and to make sure that their position should not be misunderstood, a meeting of the citizens, not members of the Lawrence Association was held at the "Church" on the 16th which denounced the proceedings of that on the 11th as being "held and conducted in a one-sided, indecent, mob-like manner, and wholly opposition to justice, right and honor" and that as "the endeavor was made to make us responsible for those proceedings, we therefore disavow all complicity or assent thereto and denounce the originators as demagogues." The course pursued by the Lawrence Association was endorsed by the meeting of which S. J. Willis was President: Dr. J. F. Merriam, Vice President; Messrs. Stewart, Burgess, Ladd, Pillsbury, Hartwell and Lowe, Vice Presidents.

The resolutions adopted were presented by Messrs. Ladd, Emery, Doy, Mailey, Hutchison, Mace, Searle, Simpson and Tappan, the third and fourth of which were as follows:

3. Resolved, That the organization of the Emigrant Aid Society has been of exceeding great benefit to the transmission of emigrants to this Territory; and their establishing an agency in this city, and their investment of capital therein, has been of a decided advantage to the place toward its rapid growth, providing for the wants and alleviating the trials of the settlers, and believe that their efforts thus far have been entirely disinterested; and we therefore most cordially invite them to remain and continue their operations among us, at the same time assuring them of our sincere approval of the past and of our co-operation in the future.

4. Resolved, That we, as citizens of Lawrence, particularly approve of the course pursued by the Lawrence Association toward the Emigrant Aid Society, in extending an invitation to that company to invest their capital here, and the basis upon which they are allowed to operate; and we shall duly respect their city rights, and support them in all lawful and liberal movements.

At the same meeting the Committee of the Lawrence Association, by their Chairman, Mr. J. Hutchison, reported the following resolutions which were accepted:

5. Resolved, That while believing there is no legal redress for trespasses committed upon unsurveyed lands, we have never as an association approved of cutting timber upon individual claims, made in good faith; but we fully discountenance such acts, believing them to be contrary to equity and good order.

6. Resolved, That as the law holds a man's domicile no less sacred and inviolate than his person, we regard all persons who shall molest or destroy houses erected, or in process of erection, as men guilty of a heinous offense and regardless of the law of the land..

7. Resolved, That while we uphold only justice and good order, we believe that neither the Lawrence Association nor their officers are accountable for individual acts, civilly or politically and that the late attempts to bring this association into bad repute and to cast upon us a stigma as undeserved as it is unjust, will bring down threefold odium upon the heads of the vile perpetrators.

Dr. Robinson, toward the close of the meeting, made a short and sensible speech, refuting some of the charges made against him, counseling his hearers of the damages of quarrels among themselves, and impressing upon them the duty and necessity of union; that they might, "with voice and hand and means combined, defend these hills and valleys, these rivers and broad prairies from the curse of human bondage, and the chains of slavery."

FIRST FREE STATE SOCIETY.

A preliminary meeting for the purpose of organizing a Free State Society, "which should use all its influence for the prohibition of slavery in Kansas," was held at the residence of Dr. Wood, in Lawrence, January 29, 1855. S. S. Snyder, Chairman; John Speer, Secretary. The committee appointed to prepare a constitution, etc., consisted of the following gentlemen: R. G. Elliot, W. Tacket, J. F. Wilson, S. Y. Lum, A. Fitch, S. C. Safford, S. C. Pomeroy, J. Speer, C. Stearns, E. D. Ladd, S. J. Willis, E. Chapman, S. F. Tappan., J. Garvin. The society was fully organized on the 1st of February, at the Lawrence House, the officers elected being R. G. Elliott, President; H. C. Safford, Vice President; John Speer, Corresponding Secretary; E. D. Ladd, Recording Secretary; S. N. Simpson, Treasurer; L. J. Ferril, Amos Finch, S. Y. Lum, S. N. Wood, Norman Allen, Executive Committee.

With the spring of 1855, the final settlement of the title to the land upon which the city was located, and the commencement of the spring immigration, came a new start in the growth of the place. On the 10th of March, there was a meeting of the members of Union School District when the committee previously appointed to select a site for a schoolhouse, reported that they had chosen one on Mr. Frye's claim, and that the material to build the body of the same would be on the ground before the 31st; also, that enough had been subscribed to build the body of the house. The Building Committee was Messrs. Adams, Yates and Waterman. This meeting was supplemented by one held on March 31. After the body of the building had been erected, when officers were elected, and rules adopted to govern school matters in the district during the succeeding year, Martin Adams, William Yates and Robert Allen were elected Trustees; Robert Hughes, Collector, and R. H. Waterman, Clerk. Among the regulations of this, the first School District, in Lawrence, was one making it the duty of the Trustees to "make out the rate bill of each individual and in case such rate bill was not paid, to sue for the same" The Trustees also to have possession and control of the schoolhouse, which was to be open for religious meetings and Sabbath schools, without regard to sects, except in school hours. One provisions reads: "It shall be the duty of the trustees to ascertain as near as may be, the amount of wood necessary for each scholar, and give notice to those intending to send to school; and in case any one neglects or refuses to furnish his appropriation of wood, the trustees shall furnish it and charge it in his rate bill." It was voted at this meeting that the roof, doors and windows of the schoolhouse should be completed on or before the 1st day of May."

During this month, Dr. Robinson replaced the sod and thatch office which was burned, with a two-story frame 25X35, on Massachusetts street. He also commenced about this time his house on Mount Oread, which S. N. Wood and G. W. Deitzler preserved from destruction before its completion by a party headed by Dr. Wood and which was burned by Jones' posse a year later, when Lawrence was sacked. Rev. G. B. W. Hutchison put up a concrete building for store and public hall, two stories high and fifty feet square. Messrs. Hornsby and Ferril built a one-story frame building on Massachusetts street and put in a stock of goods. Three mail routes were established connecting Lawrence - a route from Westport to Whitfield passing through Lawrence and Osawatomie to Ft. Scott, and a third from Kansas City to Lawrence. Blanton & Litchfield also established a semi-weekly line of hacks between Lawrence and Kansas City. The frame hotel on Main street, which was commenced in the fall was boarded and ready for customers; a clothing house was opened on Main street by Wright & Ballou, the "New Great Western Clothing House." a barber, Mr. Leis, came to town and saw a fine field for operations and concluded to stay; the first brick was made by Messrs. Hammon & Page; and to supplement the labors of the barber, the "Lawrence Hydropathic and Hygenic Society" was formed, E. D. Ladd, President; G. W. Brown, Vice President; S. N. Wood, Corresponding Secretary; Mrs. Johnson, Recording Secretary; Miss Gleason, Treasurer; Mrs. Wood, Librarian. It was proposed to found a water cure establishment in the vicinity, but the troubles that soon came thick and fast upon Lawrence, prevented the execution of this, with many other good designs.

On the 30th of March occurred the election of Councilmen and Representatives from the First District to the First Territorial Legislature. During this month, the first party of Eastern emigrants arrived in the midst of a bitter cold snow storm. The want of lumber ad saw mills was still a great drawback, but concrete houses were commencing to take the place of wood, and it was not long before two more saw mills were started - one by Deitzler & Shimmons and the other by Hunt & Hunt. A great number of houses were framed and waiting for boards to be sawed.

About sundown on the evening of the 20th of May, the citizens, who had congregated in great numbers on the Levee, were delighted to see the little steamer, "Emma Harmon," arrive at the Levee, bringing a number of passengers and considerable freight. The next day about noon, the "Financier" and "Hartford" arrived. All the boats were bound for Fort Riley. The "Emma Harmon" turned back at Topeka and the other two proceeded up the river. It was decided that the "Emma Harmon" should make regular trips between the mouth of the river and Lawrence, but on her second return trip she ran aground on a sand bar and was deserted by the captain and officers, leaving the owner, Mr. Knox, to dig her out. The boat was extricated by him and made regular trips between Kansas City and Lawrence during the summer of 1855.

During the year, Methodists made efforts to build a house of worship on Vermont street; Rev. Mr. Griffing working energetically for the purpose of raising subscriptions for the same, but the effort was not a success at that time. Rev. E. Nute was sent to Lawrence in the early spring by the American Unitarian Association and had been holding meetings in the open air, through the summer; mostly on Mount Oread, "in the shade of Dr. Robinson's house." The Unitarians made an effort to erect a church edifice in the fall; the building to be of composite, 40 x 60, with a basement and gallery. The excavation was made for the basement, and a portion of the building material put on the ground, but this enterprise also was delayed in consequence of the political troubles of the coming months. The structure which was erected by the Emigrant Aid Society in October, 1854, and which had served as eating-house and shelter for hundreds during the succeeding winter, also as the "church" for the settlement was destroyed by fire, September 13, 1855. It was used as a habitation up to the time of its destruction.

[TOC] [part 8] [part 6] [Cutler's History]