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


[TOC] [part 44] [part 42] [Cutler's History]


[Image of J. Montgomery] The subject of this sketch was born in Ashtabula County, Ohio, December 22, 1814. His family was respectable, some of them distinguished. He was a cousin of Gen. Richard Montgomery, who fell at the storming of Quebec. Young James received an excellent academical education, and in 1837 migrated to Kentucky with his parents, where for some years he was engaged in the ennobling profession of teaching. He afterward became a preacher in the Campbellite or "Christian" Church. He was married twice in Kentucky, his first wife living but a few years. In 1852, he moved with his second wife to Pike County, Mo., living there one year. He then moved into Jackson County, Mo., to await the opening up of the Territory of Kansas to settlement. Here he made the acquaintance of Dr. Thornton, a prominent citizen of the county, who advised him not to go to Kansas, as he would certainly find trouble there, in case he should do so, for the Missourians did not intend that Free-State men should settle in Kansas. He was advised by the Doctor to go to Bates County, Mo., where he would find plenty of unoccupied land, equally as good as that in Kansas. Acting upon this kindly advice, he went to Bates County in the latter part of July, 1854, but remained only a few days, being dissatisfied with the land he found there. Besides this, he was dissatisfied with the motives which led him into Bates County. The thought that the Missourians proposed to prevent peaceable Free-State men from settling in Kansas Territory, flavored too strongly of injustice, was too much like a usurpation of popular rights, and he determined for himself to test the question as to whether the Missourians had the right or even the power to prevent such American citizens as desired to do so from settling upon the public domain in Kansas. Having once resolved upon his course, he marched immediately upon the forbidden ground.

He halted first near the present site of Mound City, finding many Pro-slavery Missourians dissatisfied with and leaving the territory. Of one of these, he purchased his right to a claim lying about five miles west of Mound City, near the head of Little Sugar Creek, paying therefor $5 down, and promising to pay the balance, $6, in the future. Having moved his family to his Kansas home, he himself returned to Missouri to fulfill a contract previously made with Dr. Thornton to build for him a barn, receiving therefor, upon the completion of the barn, $300.

At the time of moving into Kansas, he was forty years old. In person he was six feet tall, lightly built, with high forehead, very thin, prominent Roman nose, and a clear, penetrating blue eye. He wore his hair parted in the middle, which gave him a certain resemblance to Gen. Fremont. His voice was low and musical. His memory was retentive, his speech fluent, logical and persuasive, his convictions strong, and in the execution of his designs he was prompt and decisive; while he was cautious, yet he was in battle courageous, and generous in victory. Like Old John Brown, he was a praying fighter, and hence a dangerous enemy.

From the time of his settlement in Linn County, he was a leading Free-State man, and on account of the difficulties between Pro-slavery and Free-State men, he organized a company for self-defense, called the "Self-Protective Company." This was in 1857. He himself took command, and warned the Pro-slavery men to leave the Territory. This order they obeyed, peace followed, and Montgomery returned to his home. In December of this year, he again took to the field to assist the Free-State men to regain possession of their homes in Bourbon County on the Little Osage, from which the year previous they had been driven by George W. Clarke. After a fight with the Deputy Marshal, he warned the Pro-slavery settlers of the Little Osage, and the Marmaton, who occupied Free-State claims, and drove them off, then retired to Raysville.

About this time, Gov. Denver sent troops into Southeastern Kansas to quell the disturbances. The presence of the troops gave the Pro-slavery men fresh encouragement to again persecute the Free-State men. A raid was made on the Little Osage, March 27, 1858, in which Mr. Denton, a Free-State man, was assassinated, Mr. Davis seriously wounded, and Mr. Hedrick killed while standing in his own doorway. Mr. Denton lived two hours after being wounded - long enough to charge his two sons to avenge his death. This they did by killing four or five of the ruffians. These two young men were a part of Montgomery's forces, and all had suffered similar indignities and losses with themselves.

Montgomery's peculiarity in fighting was that he seldom, if ever, fought upon a plan. He developed and executed his plan simultaneously, at the moment of necessity. It was partly on this account that Old John Brown, who set out with Montgomery to liberate Rice, refused to accompany him any further after learning that he had laid no plan to attack upon the town. Montgomery proceeded alone and was successful, and afterward Brown praised the plan which Montgomery adopted.

In 1859, Montgomery was a candidate for the Territorial House of Representatives, and received 838 votes to 847 cast for W. R. Wagstaff, who was elected. Previous to the execution at Charlestown, Va., of Aaron D. Stevens and Albert Hazlett, two of John Brown's men, Montgomery, with a few of his men, went from Kansas to rescue them from prison, but on account of a deep snow falling when he had reached Harrisburg, Penn., it was impossible to execute his plans without being discovered.

Montgomery was the delegate from Linn County to the Republican Convention at Lawrence, April 11, 1860, which elected delegates to the Chicago Convention which nominated Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency. When the war of the rebellion broke out, he answered the call of his country, and on July 24, 1861, entered the army of the Union as Colonel of the Third Regiment Kansas Volunteer Infantry. He was transferred to the Colonelcy of the Second South Carolina Negro Regiment, with which, in June, 1863, he made a raid in Georgia. On the 20th of February, 1864, occurred the battle of Olustee, Fla. Col. Montgomery with his regiment was in the battle. In reference to his part in it, "Greeley's Conflict" says:

"Our left column, Col. Montgomery, came last into the fight, just in time to stop a rebel charge. The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts went in first, followed by the First North Carolina. They were of course overpowered, but the latter left the Lieutenant, Colonel, Major and Adjutant dead on the field. It was admitted that these two regiments had saved our little army from being routed."

After the war was over, Col. Montgomery retired to his home in Linn County, and peacefully followed his occupation as farmer until December 6, 1871, when he died, and was buried upon his farm.

Montgomery's religious views have been matter of some speculation. Originally a Campbellite, or "Christian," after the war he became an Adventist, belonging to the "First-Day Adventists," not to the "Seventh-Day Adventists." He was known as a "Soul Sleeper," because he believed in and advocated the doctrine that from death to the Judgment Day the soul is unconscious or "sleeps." He spent much time in thought upon religious subjects, and held discussions and preached in Mound City, Fort Scott and elsewhere from the close of the war to the time of his death. It is at present impossible, and ever will be exceedingly difficult, for any writer to present an analysis of his character which shall satisfy all classes of people. By his friends he ever has been and is now regarded as a brave, just, truthful, generous, honorable, "square," manly man; by his enemies he was and is regarded as a thief and murderer. It seems clear that his friends come much the nearest to a correct estimate of the man. They had better opportunities for seeing him and reading him as he was. The truth seems to be that while he was the greatest leader of the Jayhawkers, yet he was not himself a Jayhawker. He did not himself believe in nor practice plundering from the Pro-slavery men, merely because they were Pro-slavery men, nor in plundering Missourians merely because they were Missourians; but when engaged in guerrilla warfare, a necessity of the times in which he lived, he believed in and practiced the doctrine of living upon the enemy. Given the necessity of guerrilla warfare, then despoiling the enemy of his provisions and property becomes the most humane because the shortest, sharpest and most effective way of carrying it on.

It can neither be denied nor doubted that many of Montgomery's men enjoyed the opportunities for plundering that the exigencies of the times threw in their way; but Montgomery found at least two obstacles in the way when he attempted to restrain them; first, he was not himself a great commander of men, and second, to forbid them to plunder would have been to deprive himself of their assistance in time of need, and thus to render himself unable to defend the rights of the Free-State men. Montgomery naturally chose the lesser evil, and hence the odium which rightfully should attach to those who were "Jayhawkers" in the odious sense of that term, wrongfully attaches to Montgomery's name. This is certainly the view held universally by those who were Free-State men in the times of the "Border Troubles," and for whose cause Montgomery fought, and it is also certain that Montgomery never enriched himself either by robbing other people or by his own labor. He was always poor. It is to be hoped that Gen. Leonhardt will succeed in his noble purpose of erecting a monument to the memory of Montgomery.


The subject of this sketch was born in Rodman, Jefferson Co., N. Y., on February 10, 1816. He was a son of Joseph and Azuba (Henry) Adams, natives of Cheshire County, N. H., who removed to the State of New York about the year 1815. The father afterward lived in Monroe County, and Henry J. was for a time a student under Prof. Dewey at the Rochester Academy. Subsequently, he was for a short time at Oberlin college, Ohio, but about 1840 went to Cincinnati and engaged as a teacher in the public schools, residing there nearly fifteen years, and being for most of that period Principal of one of the public schools. He read law as a student of Hon. Bellamy Storer, and graduated at the Cincinnati Law School.

In politics, he grew up there in the school which founded, the Republican party. As early as 1843, he was Secretary of the Cincinnati Liberty Club, and which Thomas Morris, Gamaliel Bailey, Salmon P. Chase and Samuel Lewis were leading members. He never knew any politics but that which went to build up a sentiment and a policy which should aim at the overthrow of human slavery and the rule of injustice in the land.

He came to Kansas in March, 1855, and took up his residence in Leavenworth in the summer of that year. The following winter he was elected a member of the Senate of the first Free-State Legislature, under the organization formed by the Free-State men, through which they sought to rid the Territory of Pro-slavery control and misrule.

From that time, Mr. Adams took a prominent part in public affairs. His devotion to the principles involved in the Free-State cause, and his wise counsel in respect to measures of policy, gained for him the confidence and esteem of all with whom he was associated. In the spring of 1857, he was elected the first Free-State Mayor of Leavenworth City, and was in the following spring elected to a second term. His administration was eminently successful. The period was an eventful one in Kansas political agitation, and popular tumult in Leavenworth more than once required a master hand to quell it. The executive ability displayed by Mr. Adams in his management of the Leavenworth municipal affairs, added to the discretion and zeal manifested by him in political matters, led to a wide popularity in his party throughout the State.

At the Free-State Convention at Topeka, in July, 1857, he received eighty votes for the nomination of Delegate to Congress, against eighty-three votes given Marcus J. Parrott, who was nominated. In the session of 1858, the Territorial Legislature made him Chairman of the committee to investigate the Oxford, Kickapoo and other election frauds, by which frauds it had been sought, by means of the Lecompton constitution, to perpetuate the Pro-slavery rule in the Territory. Power was given the committee to send for persons and papers, and that power was exercised with promptness and courage, and with entire success. L. A. MacLean, the agent of John Calhoun, the custodian of the fraudulent election returns, to avoid the summons of the committee, buried the papers at Lecompton. This committee procured an order from the Probate Judge of Douglas County for the search of the returns. The execution of the order by Col. Samuel Walker and his associates led to the celebrated candle-box discovery. The exposure of the frauds was complete, and the attempt to fasten slavery upon Kansas was never again tried.

In the spring of 1858, under an act of Legislature of the previous winter, a convention was assembled at Leavenworth to frame a State Constitution. Mr. Adams was a prominent member of that convention, and under the constitution framed by it he was elected Governor. But the constitution was not acted on by Congress. It met the fate which had attended the constitution previously formed at Topeka.

Under an act of the Legislature of 1859, Mr. Adams was appointed a member of a committee, with Judge S. A. Kingman and Ed. S. Hoogland, to audit the claims preferred against the Federal Government by citizens of the State, for losses sustained through the plunder and destruction of private property during the period of Pro-slavery misrule in the territory. The investigation was a work of great labor, and it was thoroughly and faithfully conducted.

Next to Gov. Robinson, Mr. Adams was most popular before the Republican convention, which nominated the candidate for first Governor of the State. Soon after the commencement of the war, Mr. Adams was appointed Paymaster in the army, an office which he filled faithfully till near the close of the rebellion.

Mr. Adams possessed talents of a very high order, and his learning was extensive and varied. He was gifted with rare conversational powers. Generous and confiding to a fault, no man, woman or child, in any condition of life, ever appealed to him for sympathy without receiving the kindest consideration and attention.

He died near Waterville, in Marshall County, on June 2, 1870. His name was never associated with an ungenerous or ignoble deed; and he will not soon be forgotten by any of the thousands who knew him well, as one of the purest and noblest of the men of Kansas.

Mr. Adams was married in 1841, at Cincinnati, to Miss Abby R. Gibson, who was a sister to Mrs. Elizabeth Powers, wife of Hiram Powers, the sculptor. By this marriage he had three daughters - Anna Gibson, wife of Capt. John Kingsbury, now residing at Yakima, W. T.; Elizabeth Powers, wife of Horatio W. Johnson, of Willis, Kan.; Louisa Powers, wife of M. T. Campbell, Esq., of Topeka. Mrs. Adams died at Leavenworth in December, 1855. In 1863, Mr. Adams was united in marriage with Miss Mary A. Ward, of Leavenworth, by whom he had a son and daughter - Frank Scott and Helen Ward - who reside with their mother at Waterville, Kan.

Franklin G. Adams, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, is a brother of the subject of this sketch.


Hon. Marcus J. Parrott, the second delegate to Congress from Kansas Territory, was born at Hamburg, S. C., October 27, 1828. He received a classical education; graduated at Dickinson College, Pennsylvania, in 1849. He studied law at Cambridge, and after admission commenced practice at Dayton, Ohio. He was a member of the Ohio House of Representatives in 1853 and 1854, as a Democrat. He came to Kansas in 1855, and located at Leavenworth. At the first session of the Supreme Court of the Territory, held at the Shawnee Manual Labor School, in Johnson County, commencing July 30, 1855, he was appointed Reporter of the decisions of the court, Judges Samuel D. Lecompte, Saunders W. Johnston and Rush Elmore, being present. He soon identified himself with the Free-State party, and at the election held October 9, 185, was elected a delegate to the Constitutional Convention which met at Topeka on the 23d of October. In that body, he classed himself as a Democrat, as did a majority of its members. He was active on the Free-State side during the troubles of the following year. On the 9th of September, 1856, at the trial of Gov. Robinson and the other Free-State prisoners who had been kept in custody at Lecompton during the summer, Mr. Parrott, with C. H. Branscome, appeared for the defense, demanding an immediate trial on the merits. The cases were, however, continued, and the prisoners were released on bail. In the Free-State Convention held at Topeka, July 15 and 16, 1857, he was nominated as a candidate for Congress, under the Topeka Constitution, by eighty-three votes against eighty votes for Henry J. Adams. In a Convention held at Grasshopper Falls, August 26 following, he was unanimously nominated as a candidate for Delegate to Congress. At the election, October 5, he was elected, receiving 7,888 votes against 3,799 votes for Epaphroditus Ransom, the National Democratic candidate. At the election held December 21, 1857, under the Lecompton Constitution, he was elected to Congress by a vote of 7,260, against 6,574 votes for Joseph P. Carr, the Pro-slavery candidate. At the Republican convention held at Lawrence, August 3, 1859, he was a second time nominated as a Delegate to Congress, and at the election, November 8, was elected, receiving 9,708 votes to 7,232 votes cast for Saunders W. Johnston, the Democratic candidate. He served as a Delegate in Congress from December 7, 1857 to March 3, 1861.

On the assembling of the first State Legislature, March 26, 1864, Mr. Parrott was a prominent candidate for United States Senator. At the election, April 4, he received 49 votes. James H. Lane received 55 votes, and Samuel C. Pomeroy 52 votes, the tow last named being declared elected, and but one ballot being taken. At the Union State Convention held at Lawrence, September 29, 1862, Mr. Parrott was nominated as a candidate for Congress. At the election, November 4, he received 4,666 votes; A. C. Wilder, the Republican candidate receiving 9,676, and William C. Mathias, Democrat, receiving 930 votes. In 1874, he was the Democratic candidate for Member of Congress in the First Congressional District, receiving 11,223 votes; William A. Phillips, the Republican candidate, receiving 20,087 votes, and being elected.

Mr. Parrott possessed great ability, and rare power to eloquence. In the early days of Kansas, his appeals in behalf of the Free-State cause earned for him the praise and admiration of all.

During his later years, he gave much attention to farming, with no little interest and success. His farm was near Leavenworth City, where he resided with his family. His health failing, he spent some months at Dayton, Ohio, where a brother resided, and died there October 4, 1879.


George Graham, of Seneca, Nemaha County, who died February 21, 1880, was born in the town of Shawangunk, Ulster County, N. Y., on the 6th of February, 1819. It will be seen that his earth-life reached the period of sixty-one years and fifteen days. The oldest child of John S. and Hannah Gee Graham, who were the parents of several sons and daughters, he descended from a stock regarded as models for sturdiness of character and fidelity to principle. Therefore, receiving an excellent early training, "as a boy he was the father of the man;" and all through his early life he developed solidity of character and innate integrity, which caused him to be honored and respected wherever known. The family removing to Cortland County, he became a student at Virgil Institute and Cortlandville Academy, where he prepared himself to become a teacher, in which avocation his labors were marked by his accustomed energy and enthusiasm, and in which he became eminently successful. Later, entering upon active business life, after four years' experience, he decided that the condition of his health required out-of-door employment, and so he engaged in the lumber business at Jasper, Steuben County, where he became acquainted with Ann Eliza Andrews, to whom he was joined in marriage. To them was born a daughter, Helen, but mother and child were soon removed by the hand of death.

On the 19th of August, 1848, he was again married, to Miss Mary Jane Robinson, of Virgil, Cortland County, who was a most faithful companion through all his subsequent life in the State of New York and in the Territory and State of Kansas.

Engaging in the mercantile business at Addison, Steuben County, he suffered severe losses by fire, and partly because of this, with his enthusiastic love for freedom and the rights of man, he ardently looked toward the setting sun, and determined to emigrate to Kansas and help make her soil free. So, in 1857, he settled upon a quarter-section of land in Township 1, Range 14, Rock Creek Township, Nemaha County.

From the first he was accorded honor by his fellow-pioneers. In the neighborhood meetings, of whatever name and nature, he was called upon to take an active part, either as president, speaker or worker.

Located just west of the head of Pony Creek, in Brown County, he stood intimately related to the old settlers of both Nemaha and Brown Counties, and that influence broadened and strengthened to the day of his death.

In township affairs, he was Justice of the Peace and Supervisor, and in 1858 was Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors of Nemaha County, and in that position exerted a very potent influence in the somewhat protracted struggle of county-seat contest, in securing the shire-town of the county at Seneca, to the final satisfaction of a large majority of the people of the county.

In 1858, he was chosen Member of the Territorial House of Representatives, from the counties of Brown and Nemaha. The Legislative session, opening at Lecompton, adjourned to Lawrence, in January, 1859. A reference to the House journals of that session will show how conspicuous a worker Mr. Graham was in that body. Without detailing his labor, reference is made to his forecast in promoting legislation that secured the amnesty act, and that overthrew a projected wild-cat banking system, that if enacted would have been a serious public calamity.

This, with his work consummated on the 2d of August previous, on which day the Lecompton Constitution and human slavery on the soil of Kansas were consigned to a death that could know no resurrection, put him in the front rank in Northern Kansas, and made his counsels valuable in forming the Republican party of Kansas in 1859.

In the autumn of 1858, he was quite prominent in the formation of one of the first Congregational Churches in Northern Kansas, that at Albany, and his house for a long time was the most general place for the assembling of the congregation.

Through his efforts the organization of the first school districts was made in that section; and here it may be said that he regarded the polling-place, the church and schoolhouse a trinity, each to supplement and perfect the other, in our early as well as later civilization.

Early in 1861, he volunteered his services to his country, and enlisted in the Kansas Seventh Cavalry, where his varied martial efforts at Fort Leavenworth, far South, and elsewhere, attest his fidelity to the cause and country he loved so well.

In 1865, he removed to Seneca, and prepared himself to engage in the mercantile business, and in that autumn was elected to the State Legislature from the Northern District of Nemaha County, and a year later was elected to the Senate from Brown and Nemaha Counties. In 1868, he was elected State Treasurer, and after his term of offices expired he served the last being that of Probate Judge of Nemaha County, in November, 1879.

In 1866, he was one of the principal founders of the Congregational Church, at Seneca, and on through the remainder of his life he stood by and worked for it through all its days of darkness, as well as through its periods of prosperity. Where duty called he knew no shrinking, whether considered in relation to his political party, his church organization, the public school, the social circle, his neighbor or friend.

On the last day of the winter of 1882-83, in the beautiful Nemaha County Court House, public services were performed, and the court room was densely crowded with neighbors and friends who came to pay tribute to the worth of him who, ten days previous, was performing the functions of the office of Probate Judge in the same structure. Following the public services, appropriate resolutions were offered and unanimously adopted, referring to his great worth as an officer and citizen, a Christian and a friend. The Congregational Association, at their meeting at Sterling, Rice County, in June, passed highly appropriate resolutions embalming his memory, and expressing the warmest sympathy toward the bereaved wife, who had so zealously supplemented his valuable work and faithfully co-operated with him through all the struggling years, emulating his life in manifesting a like fidelity to principle, and devotion to the right. It may be left for the builders in our and succeeding generations to so shape their acts that his example shall prove a blessing for all time.

[TOC] [part 44] [part 42] [Cutler's History]