KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS
William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas
was first published in 1883 by A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL.
The publisher presents this volume to the citizens of Kansas without misgivings as to its favorable reception. It is the most complete and exhaustive history of a single State ever published, and has involved the investment of more capital, and the expenditure of more intellectual and literary labor, than has ever before been employed on any work of its kind in this country.
Kansas is richer in historic lore than any other region of the Great West. Its traditions go back to the time of the Montezumas and the Spanish conquest of Mexico. In the Sixteenth Century the Spanish conquerors of that country extended their explorations through the hitherto unknown land now known as Kansas; then, the mythical kingdom of Quivera, and claimed it by right of conquest and discovery as a part of the domain of the Spanish crown. Nearly two centuries passed when the French, coming by way of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, again visited the mysterious land. A century later, American explorers traversed the country and designated it as the Great American Desert. From time immemorial it had been the home of nomadic tribes and the vast pastures of countless herds of buffalo; then, the place of sojourn of half-civilized and half-disheartened tribes from the east of the Great River, retiring or retreating before the ceaseless flow of the mysterious tide of civilization. They, in time, were swept from the field, to clear it for a momentous conflict between the two opposing systems of American civilization, then struggling for mastery and supremacy over the Republic. In Kansas the war was begun; and there the first victories, presaging the full triumph of Liberty, were won. The era of peace which followed witnessed within its borders a progress in the peaceful arts such as the world had never seen before in any State or country.
It is the task of the Kansas historians to tell the wonderful story. It is not assumed that in this single volume the history is complete. Absolute accuracy in every detail is not claimed. It is not within the scope of human endeavor to avoid error. It is only possible to seek truth, and, perchance, to find it in greater or less measure.
The plan of work, as set out in its prospectus, and has been fully carried out, embraced: (1) A general history of the territory now included within the limits of the State, from early traditionary times to now, covering a period of nearly three hundred and fifty years; (2) elaborate historical sketches of all counties organized up to the time of going to press; (3) biographies of the leading citizens of Kansas still living, or deceased.
In the compilation of the general history, the editors were not embarrassed from lack of material so much as overwhelmed by a super-abundance of conflicting and often untruthful accounts of deeds done and events transpired. More especially was this apparent during the territorial period of Kansas' history. During those exciting times it is doubtful whether a single unprejudiced person told the story. Although the press of the whole country teemed with accounts of what transpired, each tale, as now read through the perspective of retreating time, shows most plainly the tinge of that subtle yet mischievous form of falsehold which comes from an unconscious perversion of facts on the part of earnest writers. In addition to this, unscrupulous newspaper correspondents, instructed to write only for the northern or southern political markets, sent broadcast over the country, contradictory or false reports of every new phase of the exciting contest as it developed. Many books on Kansas affairs were published during the territorial troubles, some of great merit and of rare historic value, as furnishing corroborative testimony; but of the whole, it is not believed that a single volume is now acknowledged as authoritative, or even approximately accurate, in a historical sense.
As an offset to the peculiar difficulties which beset the Kansas historian, the advantages were not inconsiderable. A most exhaustive and thorough chronological index of events, embracing the history of Kansas from 1854 to 1875, had been published by Hon. D. W. Wilder - Wilder's Annals of Kansas - which will ever prove the inseparable and indispensable help of the student of Kansas history. Lacking its kindly and trustworthy directions, the labor on this work would have been increased in great measure.
The Kansas State Historical Society has gathered a more varied and more complete collection of rare books, newspapers, manuscripts, private correspondence, and other historic material pertaining to the history of the West and of Kansas, than can be found in the repository of any like society in the Great West. To this valuable collection the editors were granted free access by the Board of Directors. The cooperative assistance rendered by the Secretary Hon. F. G. Adams, is here gratefully acknowledged.
The Kansas State Library also contains many valuable and rare historic works, which through the uniform courtesy of H. J. Dennis, Esq., State Librarian, were placed at the disposal of the editors.
Kansas has adopted the most efficient and thorough methods of gathering and disseminating statistical information known in the country, and the Biennial Reports of the Kansas Board of Agriculture, and the State Superintendent of Schools, are the best issued from any of the State bureaus in the Union. As an example of their efficiency and value, it may be stated that the State census of population, and agricultural and school statistics for 1882, were published and distributed before the Federal census of 1880, containing like statistics, had been given to the public.
The publishers hereby acknowledge the many favors received at the hands of William Sims, Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture, and his assistant, J. McFarland. To them they are indebted for cuts, revised maps, and other favors, granted at all times when asked, since the work was begun.
The Military History was compiled largely from matter furnished by the State Adjutant-General from the archives of his department, who gave free assistance in the work.
Such defects as may be apparent in the work as presented, can in no wise be attributed to a lack of material, nor to any want of courtesy on the part of the many public officials and private citizens, on whom the exigencies of the work forced the editors to intrude in their efforts to obtain desired information.
The work done under these advantages and disadvantages is only so far complete as to point the way to future historians. It is hoped, however, that the unprejudiced reader will appreciate the immense labor bestowed upon it in eliminating errors which else might pass as true history, and in setting in order and so grouping events as to make the story intelligible.
The County histories are supplementary. They have been written by historians who have visited each county, and are made up more directly from the remembrance of old residents, and less from documentary sources than is the general State history. They have been written by different authors, each having his peculiar style, but all working under one general supervision. No attempt has been made to force a correspondence or agreement between the statements concerning the same occurrences as detailed in the general history and the sketches of the counties. The information contained in the separate departments was derived from diverse sources, and the agreement in essential points is so general as to be corroborative of the truth of the whole. Where differences appear they should be attributed to the different sources from which the information has been obtained, and treated as two honest versions of the same story, rather than viewed as a proof of the unreliability of the whole work. In all cases the proof-sheets or manuscripts of the County histories have been submitted for revision and correction to old and reliable citizens of the County before going to press.
The biographies of Kansans still living have been submitted for revision, as to errors in fact, to those most interested in their accuracy. The data from which they were written were gathered from personal interviews with the subjects of the sketches, or from their immediate relatives. They constitute an invaluable addition to the history of the State, as showing what manner of men make up the population, from whence they came, and what experiences or circumstances drove, drifted or lured them thither, and made them a component part of the great commonwealth. It matters little that many of them are poor, or that a few of them are rich. The lowly have ever found a refuge, and honor for true merit, in Kansas; its history, containing no record of their lives, would be incomplete indeed.
The order in which the County histories appear in the volume may be subject to the criticism of skillful book-makers, since there seems to be a disregard of all fitness, either in alphabetical order or historical precedence or importance. The necessity of issuing the work within a limited time compelled the publishers to employ several offices in printing the work, and thereby rendering the printing of consecutive line of counties, under any plan, a mechanical impossibility.
The index gives the historical sketches of the counties in alphabetical order. It also gives a general as well as an analytical statement of the contents of the general history, by no means complete, but sufficiently full to meet the practical wants of the general reader. Its defects arise from the redundance of incidents and names contained in the history, which rendered it impracticable to give an analytical index, absolutely complete, within any ordinary bounds. Its perusal is earnestly commended to such critics as have not had the leisure to read the work.
Except under the system adopted, which combined with the employment of ample capital the cooperative labor of many minds, the accomplishment of the present work would have been impossible. The compilation of the historic matter alone, has involved the work of more than an ordinary lifetime.
The captious critic, from the insignificant standpoint of his own experiences and prejudices, will doubtless discover many defects, and to his criticism every work is subject, regardless of its merits.
To the kindly care of the reader who seeks the truth and loves it, this work is given, with the full faith that he will defend it in full accord with its merits, against the attacks of all who would prostitute the truth of history to the ephemeral uses of individual interest or prejudice.
To the citizens of Kansas this volume is presented in the confident belief that its reception will be such as the great risk incurred, the immense labor expended, and the honesty of purpose evinced, should merit.