|KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS|
The first white settlers of the county were the farmers who cam in to cultivate the lands of the military reservation, and the missionaries who came in with immigrant Indians a few years later.
The actual settlers, who came in immediately after the passage of the Territorial bill of 1854, were the early settlers of Leavenworth County who planted civilization on the ground that had been sacred to the occupancy of Indians, by treaty, from the time of the purchase of the domain in 1803, till then. The Government had marked out a small reservation on which white soldiers and civilians in the employ of the Government might live under its protection, and the Indian missionaries and white farmers and mechanics had, under the protection of the Government, found a safe sojourn within the Territory; yet, up to the time of the passage of the act there was no white man in the county, nor Territory, who had a right, in fee simple, to a rod of ground. So, it seems fit to fix the time of the actual settlement of the county at the date from which titles to land and deeds of the same which are valid to-day can be traced.
The acquisition of a valid title to the lands by early settlers, was fraught with difficulties, and, to a full understanding, it is deemed necessary to diverge from historical narrative sufficiently to render the succeeding account of the early settlement clear.
The Delaware Trust Lands. - by treaty of September 24, 1829, the Delaware tribe of Indians relinquished their lands in Missouri and were assigned a large tract in Kansas, covering all of Leavenworth County, and much more.* December 14, 1843, the Delawares sold the Wyandots a tract comprising nearly the area of Wyandotte County. In the spring of 1854 treaties were made by the United States Indian Commissioner whereby, excepting small reserves, nearly the entire Indian title to the Indian lands of Eastern Kansas were put in the way of ultimate extinguishment, and thereby opened to the possession of white men at a more or less remote period, and under conditions and terms varying in accordance with the provisions of the treaties. Some tribes sold outright, reserving a part for occupation; others ceded to the Government, in trust, to be sold at some future time specified, for their benefit. The Delawares made a treaty May 6, 1854, whereby they ceded to the United States all their lands except a strip along the north bank of the Kansas River, commencing on the western line of the Wyandot lands, and extending up the north bank of the Kansas River forty miles, and being ten miles wide the entire length. This tract, under the name of the Delaware Reserve, remained in the possession of the tribe till May 30, 1860, at which time it was ceded to the Government and sold to the Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Railway Company, except an assignment, in severalty, of eighty acres to each member of the tribe. This reserve included the southern part of Leavenworth County, ten miles north from the bank of the Kansas River.
* See history of the Indians in general history.
The land ceded under the treaty of 1854, embraced the remaining part of Leavenworth County, as well as a part of Atchison County, and extended westward through the adjoining counties. the conditions were, that all the ceded lands, except the long, narrow strip known as "the outlet" (which was ceded unconditionally for the sum of $10,000), should be surveyed in the same manner as the public lands, and, so soon as the whole or any portion of said land was surveyed, that it should be offered at public sale to the highest bidder by the President, in such quantities as he might deem proper, the sales to be conducted in accordance with the laws of the United States in regard to the sale of public lands; such lands as were not sold at public sale, to be subject to private entry for three years at the minimum Government price, and if, at the expiration of that time any yet remained, they might, by act of Congress, be graduated and reduced in price until all were sold. All the money accruing from the sale, after the payment of expenses of survey and sale, were to be paid to, or held in trust by the Government for, the Delawares. These lands were known as the Delaware Trust Lands.
The inhabitants of Platte and the other Missouri border counties, all of whom, from education and interest, favored the establishment of slavery in the Territory, had long known the value of the land on the adjacent domain of the Delawares, and had only waited for the authority of the Government to occupy it. Indeed, the population of Missouri had accumulated to an unnatural degree along its whole western border, where it had been stopped by the Indian reservations, from further occupation. It is not strange that, when the Hon. D. R. Atchison notified his friends in Weston to "go over and take possession of the good land," that they went forthwith without delay, and in total ignorance of the provisions of the treaty.
The men who first settled Leavenworth were of an entirely different stripe from the founders of Atchison, Kickapoo City and Delaware City. They were either moderate Pro-slavery men or pronounced Free-soilers, who intended, to the best of their ability, to forget politics and possess the country for their homes and their firesides. Many of them had been slave-holders, but were disgusted with the persecution which their party were everywhere dealing out to the Free-state party. Some of them, as H. Miles Moore, for example, were so disgusted that they went over the "ranks of the enemy" and incurred the bitter hostility of the Pro-slaveryites. Many of the men who came from Weston and Platte County, Mo., felt that the repeal of the Missouri compromise was a grievous wrong, but that the very repeal was a compromise which passed the Territory of Kansas over to the Slavery party. The Kansas-Nebraska bill was signed May 30, 1854, and the ultra members of the Pro-slavery party in Weston at once commenced to organize. Many of the moderate members also joined the Platte County Self Defensive Association, under really a misapprehension as to its real objects. But before proceeding further, several statements which should have previously been made, are necessary.
With the belief that the land had been opened for white settlers, and with a full knowledge of its value, the citizens of Platte County fairly swarmed onto the "Delaware Trust Lands." They could do little more than to stake their claims, but under the belief that the lands were, under the existing pre-emption laws of the United States, open for occupation, they took possession. At the close of June, 1854, there was scarcely an acre of what is now Leavenworth County that had not been claimed by some enterprising citizen just over the Missouri border.
A few who really desired to settle in the county, put up cabins and removed their families onto their claims. These, so far as can be ascertained, held their claims through all the changing vicissitudes of the succeeding years, and many of them with their descendants still hold the lands then claimed.
But, by far the largest part of the claims were speculative, made, as the claimants doubtless believed, in accordance with the letter, if not the spirit, of the law, by a class of men living conveniently near in Missouri, but having no intention of establishing a permanent home in Kansas. They, however, from the beginning, by virtue of their putative possessions in the county, assumed all the rights of citizenship, and entered into the Territory and possessed the ballot boxes at all the early elections with the same unanimity and disregard of law that had characterized the establishment of their premature and illegal claims upon the land.
By far the most important occupation, at that time, was on the present site of the city of Leavenworth. A history of the settlement, up to the time of the legal acquirement of proprietorship in the land on which the city now stands, by its founders, gives a clear and full history of the whole dispute pertaining to the settlers and squatters on the Delaware Trust Lands.
The first land occupied or claimed in Kansas by citizens of the United States, after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska act was within the present limits of Leavenworth City. On June 12, 1854, Gen. George W. Gist, Samuel Farnandis and John C. Gist, staked off and marked the claims where the present city of Leavenworth stands. It had been the opinion of many would-be settlers that the city was destined to be located at Fort Leavenworth. But it soon became evident that the Government had no intention of abandoning it as a military post, and accordingly, the next day after Gen. Gist and his friends had staked their claims, a meeting was called at Weston for the formation of a town association. The various squatters in Leavenworth and vicinity, who had taken claims near the coming city of Fort Leavenworth, held a meeting at Riveley's store, in Salt Creek Valley, on Saturday, June 10, 1854. This was the first squatter meeting ever held in the Territory, and it was there resolved to relinquish all rights and titles to the future town association; hence, when it was formed on the 13th of June, everything appeared harmonious. The original proprietors were mostly citizens of Missouri, residing at this time, at or near Weston. They were thirty-two in number. Following are the articles of association as originally drawn up and signed by the members:
We, the undersigned, being desirous of procuring a claim to a certain tract of land in the Delaware lands, adjoining the military reservation in the Territory of Kansas, with the ultimate view of perfecting a title to the same from the General Government, have caused the same to be regularly and properly laid out and staked off and marked out, with the name of each member, and a registry of the same made with _____ Grover, a person appointed by the squatters of the Territory for that purpose, to receive and make such entries or registry. For the speedy furtherance of this object, it is hereby mutually and sacredly agreed between the members of this association, each pledging himself to the other, that we will protect and defend each in all possible ways against all aggression whatsoever, until a title to the same is fully perfected; and it is further agreed by and between us that we will hold said tract jointly in common, until a final division of the same may be made by a majority of the members. We further pledge ourselves to furnish the sum of two dollars and fifty cents each for the survey and laying out of said tract, and all other sums that may be assessed by a majority of the members for the purposes of protecting and defending the same from all aggression whatsoever. And we also further pledge ourselves and solemnly promise that we will cordially obey all needful rules and regulations that may be hereafter passed by a majority of this society for the government and protection of its members, upon a no less penalty than that of expulsion from said society, together with the loss of all claims, interest or title in and to said tract above referred to, and all protection from said society, or either of its members, shall thereby be withdrawn. It is further agreed that it shall be optional with George B. Panton, one of our members, to retain and keep for his own use and benefit, the quarter section and the improvements now occupied by him, at the price at which the Government may sell the same, in which event he is to lose all interest in this joint stock company. It is further agreed by the members of this society that Major E. A. Ogden shall have full membership and interest in the society, although not signing these articles.
Gen. George W. Gist was elected president: H. Miles Moore, secretary; Jos. B. Evans, treasurer; Amos Rees, L. D. Bird and Major E. A. Ogden, trustees. Committee on By-laws: L. D. Bird, O. Diefendorf and H. Miles Moore.
Subsequent to the first meeting, James W. Hardesty and W. S. Yohe were admitted as original members of the association. Including the two last named gentlemen there were thirty-two original proprietors. Mr. Moore classified them as follows: Ministers, three; lawyers, four; doctors, five; printers, two; merchants, four; surveyors, one; army officers, two; army clerks, one; farmers, eight.
The land embraced in the joint company claim comprised 320 acres. It commenced at the south line of the military reservation, and extended south along the west bank of the Missouri River to Three-Mile Creek, and back from the river sufficiently to comprise the area before mentioned. It was surveyed and platted without delay, by Gen. Gist, and divided into 175 shares, containing twelve lots to each share. Five shares each were apportioned to the original proprietors, the remaining fifteen being reserved in the hands of the trustees, "to be disposed of as they may deem fit for the best interests of the town;" or, perhaps, in the expressive phrase which has since become so familiar to Americans, "to be put where they would do the most good."
A drawing of two lots to each share was had, so as to give each share a first and second-class lot on either the Levee, Main or Delaware, or Shawnee streets, below Second street. A large number of shares were sold to other parties, who signed the constitution and became members of the association. Among those who purchased shares were several army officers, then stationed at Fort Leavenworth, some of whom still own property here - Gen. F. E. Hunt, then Captain of the Fourth Artillery, Gen. Magruder, Gen. B. C. Card, then Lieut. Card, Gen. R. C. Drum, then Lieut. Drum, Lieut. Robertson, Dr. Samuel Phillips, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, and many others.
The name first selected by a majority of the committee - Bird and Diefendorf - was Douglas, in honor of Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois. It was reported to the proprietors for adoption, together with a minority report by Mr. Moore recommending Leavenworth. Influenced by the reasons advanced by him in favor of the name he had chosen, the shareholders adopted it. Thus Mr. H. Miles Moore came to be the godfather of the infant town he has lived to see grow to be the foremost city of the State. At that time it was covered with a dense growth of trees and underbrush - all save a narrow strip between what is now Choctaw street and Three-Mile Creek. To-day the site is as thickly covered with warehouses, churches, school-houses, shops, factories, and the homes of a happy and prosperous people, as then with the woods and brambles of twenty-eight years ago.
The naming of the streets after the various resident Kansas tribes of Indians was done in accordance with the suggestion of Major E. A. Ogden, a member of the first Board of Trustees.
So far the new town met no serious obstacle, but Gen. Atchison and his Pro-slavery friends who were striving to build up Pro-slavery towns, were evidently uneasy at the unpolitical attitude which Leavenworth was assuming. In July some slaves escaped from Weston and vicinity, and it is supposed went to Kansas. This fact caused the formation on the 15th, of the Platte County Self-Defensive Association, which organization extended eventually into many Southern States, and became a bitter opponent of the Free-soil doctrine. It was often made the instrument of inexcusable oppression, as in the case of the arrest of Thomas A. Minard, of Easton, who in the 21st of July went to Weston on business. There was an attempt made to connect him with the running off of the slaves, but the bottom fact and true explanation of his arrest was that he was a pronounced Free-soiler, though no Abolitionist. Other arrests followed, and the Self-Defensive Association became so aggressive as to attempt to dictate to Leavenworth merchants where and of whom they should buy their goods.
But leaving the incidents and personalities of a full narrative of the early growth of the town, to be treated further on, it is deemed proper to follow the historical thread of the town company, through the trials and struggles of its early life, up to the point where a legal and valid title to the land was obtained, thus giving the reader a clearer understanding of the most vexatious, and, perhaps, least understood, land dispute that harassed the early settlers of Kansas, than would be possible if casually brought to notice in chronological order, in connection with contemporaneous events.
The Beginning of Another Trouble. - Scarcely had the town company completed their organization, before it was discovered that Atchison's advice to his friends to "go in and occupy the good land," was premature. It was discovered that the provisions of the treaty, unlike those with the Kickapoos, who ceded lands lying adjacent on the north, precluded the settlement of the Delaware lands, held in trust for the tribe, till they should be surveyed and sold, and when sold, they were to be sold to the highest bidder, regardless of any pre-emption rights of settlers or squatters. It was at first stoutly contended that the lands could be held under the pre-emption laws of the United States; but all hope in that direction was extinguished by a long and elaborate document issued by Attorney General Caleb Cushing, which ended in the expression of the following authoritative and positive opinion:
In fine, my opinion is, that the act of Congress gives pre-emption only in such of those lands ceded as are not required first to be offered at public sale; that the Delawares, Iowas, and Weas, under condition of being first offered at public sale, are no more opened to pre-emption by the act of Congress, than was the military reservation at Fort Leavenworth; that those lands can not be taken up by settlers under claim of pre-emption; and that all claims of pre-emptions there will be merely void in law, and will confer no right now or hereafter, on which to demand the issue of a patent from the Commissioner of Public Lands.
The Indian Commissioner, G. W. Manypenny, by whom the treaty was made with the Delawares, took substantially the same view of the case, and, from the beginning, exerted both his personal and official influence in opposition to the settling or encroachment of the white settlers on the "Delaware Lands." However exalted, or otherwise, might have been his motives, he certainly managed to win the thorough and lasting hatred of the settlers, and was the most unpopular and generally abused official whose name appears in the newspaper files of the day, in connection with the land troubles.
Technically, the squatters had no rights, and they knew it, but they were there, and, more especially in Leavenworth, where they had "founded a city," they were determined to remain. So they went doggedly to work, clearing up the brush, staking out the town, and selling shares, regardless of the Attorney General's decision, and the ravings of their opponents.
Early in September, about a month before the first sale of lots occurred, Rev. C. B. Boynton visited Leavenworth, and describes it as follows:
About thirty miles above the mouth of the Kansas, we came in sight of an entirely new object, unknown to all former experience - a squatter city - Leavenworth City - three and a half miles below Fort Leavenworth, on the west bank of the Missouri.
J. Butler Chapman, Esq., who had himself a paper city on hand, known at that time as Whitfield City, located some seventy-five miles up the Kansas River, published a pamphlet History of Kansas and Emigrants' Guide, in which he describes the natural beauty of the country round about Whitfield, and calls attention to the inevitable destiny that points to his town as the future metropolis of Kansas. He speaks quite disparagingly of Leavenworth. He says: "We make Fort Leavenworth a station and meridian, from whence to compute distance, as Leavenworth City, three miles below, can never be a commercial point, or a depot for the Territory, nor can we see how it can be a point conspicuous for any purpose whatever."
Whatever merit pertained to Mr. Chapman, as a historian or business manager, it is certain he had not the gift of prophecy. Leavenworth is, with possibly a single exception, the largest and most "conspicuous" city in the State; Whitfield City, like Troy, is known only in history. It is numbered with a hundred other paper cities of Kansas that had a name and bright hopes in 1855, a name in 1856, and since then neither.
The First Sale of Town Lots occurred Monday, October 9, 1854. The following account of it is copied from the Herald of Friday, October 13:
On Monday last, at 11 o'clock A. M., the sale of lots in this town was commenced. There was a large assemblage of people on the ground, many of whom had come from a distance for the purpose of attending this sale. The survey had been completed, and charts of the town drawn. The streets had been cleared of rubbish, and marked with their names. Those parallel with the river are number as far out as Seventh street; the cross streets are named for Indian tribes, and, commencing on the south, are as follows: Choctaw, Cherokee, Delaware, Shawnee, Seneca, Miami, Osage, Pottawatomie, Ottawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Dacotah, Pawnee, and Cheyenne. The streets parallel with the river are 60 feet wide, and the cross streets are 61 feet wide, except Delaware, which is 70 feet. The lots are 24 feet front by 125 feet deep, and there are 32 lots in each block. through the center of each block runs an alley 15 feet wide. Seven lots have been laid off next the river in warehouse lots, the fronts of which are about 150 feet from the water's edge. All the space between Main or First street and the river, except these several blocks, have been donated for a Levee and Esplanade.
From the Hon. H. Miles Moore's account of the sale, published in the Leavenworth Daily Commercial, June 14, 1873, the following additional facts concerning it are gleaned:
Mr. Moore now has the original list of purchasers, and the map used at the sale, in his possession. The highest price paid on the first day's sale was $350. It was purchased by Capt. James A. Grant, being lot 3, block 3, where afterward was the wholesale grocery store of Messrs. C. R. Morehead & Co. The lowest price realized on the first day was $50 each for lots 20 and 21, block 14, on the north side of Osage street, next to the alley, between Main and Second streets. The purchaser was Charles Mundee. On the second day, C. A. Williams paid the highest price of the day - $200 each - for lots 15 and 16, block 25. The lowest lots were bid off to C. Mundee, lots 13 and 14, block 31, at $50 each; to Clint. Cockrill, lots 19 and 20, block 31, $50; and to Peter Hanreons, lots 19 and 20, block 32, at $51 each. The aggregate of the two days' sales was $12,609.
Mr. Moore proceeds, in the article from which the above facts are drawn, to pay his respects to Gov. Reeder, who evidently did not stand high in his favor, in the following terms:
Gov. Reeder was present at the sale, and bought, or caused to be bought for him. The morning of the second day, before the sale, I went up with the trustees of the town company to Fort Leavenworth, where Gov. Reeder was stopping, and they directed me to transfer, on the town books, to him, five shares of the town, of the number of shares which were held by the trustees for the benefit of the town company calling for twelve lots each share (60 lots), for the sum of $1,000, worth at least $4,000 then, now worth from $75,000 to $100,000, to be paid for soon. I may add, he also agreed, sub rosa, to put the capital of the Territory at Leavenworth, which latter part of the contract he afterward, when he got the shares all safe and his lots drawn, forgot to fulfill, but started another little capital town speculation, as the history of Kansas will now show, at Pawnee, near Fort Riley. Reeder was the first of the immaculate Governors with which Kansas was so bountifully supplied in her Territorial tutelage. He always had an eye to the main chance. I will pay him particular attention in the future, as he was a gem of the first water. I do not think our books show that he ever paid the $1,000. If he did, he forgot the little capital matter. The boys often laughed about the trick - that Reeder had Yankeed the trustees out of those town shares.
More than two weeks previous to this time, the first sale of lots had occurred at Atchison, which was, from the first, an acknowledged political and commercial rival of Leavenworth. That energetic and wide-awake man, "Uncle George" Keller, had just completed his contract of clearing the Leavenworth town site of its thick growth of timber and underbrush. In this work he employed eighty men, from the middle of June until the middle of September. The Kansas Herald was issuing from its own building, and the Leavenworth Hotel had just been opened two days previous to the sale of lots, by Messrs. Keller & Kyle. Leavenworth was growing rapidly, and Atchison, Kickapoo, and the like Pro-slavery towns, looked on with a jealous eye.
Before recording further the history of the town association, it is necessary to state a sad fact, viz.: that Gen. Gist, its President, and a man of marked ability and unassuming Christianity, died at Weston, on the 21st of November. He was in his sixtieth year, a Mason, high in the order, and a man placed high in public estimation. Gen. Gist, however, was never a resident of Kansas. As previously stated, it was he who surveyed and platted the town site - the original 320 acres. It is called to this day, "The Gist Survey." It was filed in the Surveyor General's office, at Fort Leavenworth, on December 20, 1854. The members of the association, through their trustees, Major E. A. Ogden, William S. Yohe, and O. Diefendorf, donated to the public all streets laid down on the plat, except Water street and Esplanade. That ground was donated down to the water's edge, "but all privileges, easements and franchises attaching to said land, including ferry right, with the full and entire fee simple to Water street and Esplanade," were reserved to the proprietors.
While the town had thus been passing through the first stages of its development, the Delawares began to view with a jealous and, perhaps, somewhat speculative eye, the occupation of their lands in violation of the terms of the treaty. Their discontent was no doubt intensified by interested whites who, from personal designs, or jealousy of the Leavenworth company, desired to cripple and impede the growth of the new town, or destroy it altogether. It was generally believed by the squatters that Commissioner Manypenny, in his extreme desire to vindicate the merits of the treaty he had made, took extra-official pains to enlighten the Indians as to the encroachments, to render them opposed to any modification of the treaty whereby the lands could be pre-empted, and to otherwise get them into an irascible frame of mind that boded anything but peace and quietude to the squatters. Whatever the influences may have been, the result was a very earnest remonstrance and petition for relief, sent to the Government, signed by the most influential members of the tribe, including many of those whose names were appended to the treaty of 1854. In response, military orders were sent the commandant at Fort Leavenworth to drive off all trespassers on the Delaware Lands. The story of the trouble was told by H. Miles Moore, Esq., in one of a series of historical sketches which appeared in the Leavenworth Daily Commercial - 1873, as follows:
A very strong prejudice existed at Weston against our town among the more violent Pro-slavery men, and also a jealousy of Atchison and Kickapoo, who were our rivals; they being situated on the Kickapoo lands, which were subject to private entry, while Leavenworth was located on the Delaware Trust Lands, which were not subject to the same provisions, but by the terms of the treaty were to be sold to the highest bidder for the sole benefit of the Indians. Some of these Atchison and Weston friends had taken the trouble to inform the Indians that we were all thieves and rascals, and that we had squatted on their lands without any authority, and would soon have their lands all gobbled up, etc., etc. This so excited the Indians that they commenced making complaints to the Indian Department at Washington through their agent. In the mean time Major Ogden, quartermaster; Major Maclin, paymaster; Col. Hunt, now (1873), paymaster, then captain of artillery; Dr. Samuel Phillips, surgeon, and a number of other officers of Fort Leavenworth, had become interested in the town by the purchase of shares of the town company. An order came from Washington to the military at the fort to drive us off; thus we were placed in an unfortunate predicament between two fires. We got the order delayed until we could make a showing. A committee from the town company was sent down to talk with the Delaware chiefs and get them to understand our position. After they became fully satisfied that the town company as well as the settlers on their lands, which comprised, at that time, by far the largest portion of the then county of Leavenworth open to settlement, were disposed to respect their rights and would pay the price fixed by the Government, or for which it might sell at public auction, they became reconciled. An attempt was afterwards made, however, as I may have occasion to show, by Indian Commissioner Manypenny, by maligning the character of certain officers at Fort Leavenworth, and, as was charged, attempting to blackmail the town company to bring the settlers on the Delaware Trust Lands and town company into trouble with the Indians, and also the Government at Washington. At the time first above referred to a petition and statement of our situation and grievances was gotten up with great care, and Judge L. D. Bird was dispatched to Washington to lay the same before the President and Departments. Suffice it to say that at this time we were successful, and were not removed.
It is unnecessary, in this connection, to follow, step by step, the company through all its stages of hope and fear, till its title to the town site was assured by actual purchase. The period of uncertainty, to them, in common with all the squatters on the trust lands, lasted nearly two years, during which time the only laws which protected settlers in the occupation of their claims, were those of their own making, subject to the decision of judges of their own choosing, and enforced by officers appointed by themselves. They were co-operative mutual protective associations, outside any legal authority, whereby rude justice was administered, and protection assured. The people lived under organized Lynch law, which, under the circumstances, was the only law applicable to their surroundings. During this period occurred innumerable quarrels as to claims and titles to claims. Many of them were settled by judges in the squatters' courts, while other contestants fought it out single-handed, sometimes to the bloody issue of death. Much of the violence, many of the outrages, and not a few of the murders, with which the so-called histories of early Kansas abound, had no political significance whatever. The individual contests of those times were oftener for the possession of a squatter's claim than for the love of liberty, or in the defense of the peculiar institution.
Relief came slowly, but it came at last, through the Government sale of the lands, whereby the cloud of uncertainty was dispelled, and, for the first time in the history of Leavenworth, a citizen was enabled to attain a valid and certain tenure to the land he had occupied and improved.