On the arrival of Gov. Geary in Kansas, Gen. Lane determined to leave the
Territory by way of Nebraska. He started from Topeka with a few men, on the
11th of September, and on arriving at Osawkie learned that a large
Pro-slavery force was in the neighborhood. He sent to Topeka for
reinforcements, and was joined by about fifty men commanded by "Col.
Whipple."* This company left on the evening of the 11th, and joined Lane at
Osawkie the following morning.
* Aaron D. Stephens, alias Capt. or Col. Whipple, was, as heretofore
stated, an officer in Gen. Lane's Free-state force. He was born in Lisbon,
New London County, Conn., and lived in that State until the opening of the
Mexican war, when he entered the United States service, and was reported to
be a very brave soldier. After his return he was imprisoned at Fort
Leavenworth for chastising an officer who was abusing a private soldier. He
escaped from confinement and came to Topeka, where his fearlessness and
knowledge of military movements made him a leader of the rather inexperienced
military force. He assumed the name of Whipple when he escaped from
Leavenworth. When John Brown left Kansas, in January, 1859, he accompanied
him, and was one of the "nineteen men so few" that were with him at Harper's
Ferry. Mr. Stephens was executed at Charleston, Va., March 16, 1860.
On the morning of the 12th, the "Atchison Guards," Capt. Robertson,
then on the way to Lecompton, burned the store of Capt. Crosby at Grasshopper
Falls, and then returned to Hickory Point, where they joined the force of
Capt. Lowe, whose property was threatened by Lane, and fortifying themselves
in several small buildings, the best being a blacksmith shop, awaited an
Gen. Lane, with John Ritchie as Chief of Staff, arrived on the spot
about 11 o'clock, and finding he could not dislodge the enemy without
artillery, sent to Lawrence for reinforcements. He then returned to
Osawkie, and there received the Governor's proclamation ordering all armed
forces to disband. In accordance with the command, he instructed the Topeka
company to return home and avoid any collision with the United States troops,
which they did.
In the meantime, the Lawrence company, under Col. Harvey, and provided
with a cannon, proceeded directly to Hickory Point, and on the morning of
Sunday, the 14th, had an encounter with the force there assembled under Lowe
and Robertson, which resulted in no particular advantage to either party. On
their return to Lawrence, Col. Harvey's men were taken prisoners by United
States troops, and imprisoned at Lecompton. On the 18th of September, a few
days after the return of the Topeka company, Gov. Geary and United States
Marshal Donaldson visited Topeka for the purpose of making arrests. A squad
of cavalry was stationed near the corner of Fifth street and Kansas avenue,
and a line of infantry and several pieces of artillery farther east on Fifth.
The arrests were mainly confined to members of the company who had been
engaged in the late disturbances. Among the Topeka men arrested at and about
this time were Messrs. Mitchell, Ritchie, Kagi, Rastall and Sexton. They
were imprisoned at Lecompton.
The indictments were mainly on the ground of participation in the
fight at Hickory Point. Kagi and Ritchie being accused of being in the
affray on the 14th, when Newhall, of the Atchison company, was killed, were
with others indicted for "murder in the first degree." They were taken
before the Territorial Court, October 25, 1856, but their witnesses not being
ready, their cases were laid over.
Mr. Sexton, who was Quartermaster of the company, was, in addition to
the general charge, indicted for "appropriating oats for the use of the
cavalry horses." Mr. Ritchie, in addition to the general charge, was held to
answer to that preferred by Mr. Dyer, of Osawkie, according to his affidavit.
The prisoners were at first placed in the United States encampment
near Lecompton, the "Prisoners' Camp" being a square of open prairie, guarded
by three lines of sentinels. The members of Col. Harvey's company were in
this camp also.
After examination, the prisoners were recommitted for trial, and
imprisoned in an old house guarded by a company of militia under Col. Titus.
At the trial in October a few were acquitted, but the most were convicted of
various degrees of manslaughter, and placed in charge of Sheriff Jones being
afterwards transferred to the custody of Capt. Hampden, Warden of the
Territorial Prison, and a kind, considerate and humane gentleman, of whose
treatment none complained. A part of the prisoners, among whom was J. H.
Kagi, of the Topeka company, were afterwards removed to Tecumseh, where
they received kind attentions and many favors from Mr. and Mrs. Osborn, of
the Free State Hotel, and from other Free-state citizens. In a letter
written to the Kansas Tribune, dated "Tecumseh, December 17, 1856,"
Mr. Kagi says:
"At Lecompton we were puzzled to keep from freezing; here there is still
greater difficulty in keeping from smothering to death. For some time we have
numbered sixteen men, in a brick-floored room twelve by sixteen, with one
window two feet square. We have one small box stove, with a single place for
cooking. In this hole, as I may truthfully call it, we cook, eat and
sleep, and pass away Kansas life. * * * * There are now but twelve of us here.
Old Mr. Davis, and Mr. Hazeltine of the Wakarusa, have lately been released by
giving bail to appear at the next term of Court at Lecompton, to answer to a
charge of murder at Fort Titus last August. Both proved by Pro-slavery
witnesses that they were at home, several miles from the fort at the time of
the fight. * * * * * C. A. Sexton, of your place (Topeka), was bailed out last
night on the same charge, by first proving an alibi. I may get out in
the same way to-day, but think it is uncertain. Cato has sworn he will not let
me go, he cares not what proof may be brought in my favor. I have already
established by three witnesses that I was at or near Topeka at the time of the
commission of the offense with which I am charged was perpetuated at
Lecompton. However, to-day I will introduce another witness, and if this will
not satisfy the court, I shall issue a draft upon my legs for bail bonds."
Mr. Kagi was released upon giving bail to appear at the next term of Court at
Lecompton. He was one of the most uncompromising opponents of the Pro-slavery
party, a warm friend of John Brown, and therefore particularly obnoxious to
the officers of the Territorial Government. Being a skillful phonographic
(sic) reporter, he employed himself after his release in reporting the
various public meetings and conventions, both Free-state and Pro-slavery, that
were held in the vicinity of Lawrence during the winter of 1857.
While reporting the proceedings of the "bogus legislature" at
Lecompton, January, 1857, he was again taken prisoner. The occurrence is
given in his own words, taken from his report of the proceedings:
I should be able to give you more particulars concerning the doings of
the Legislature and convention both, had I not lost some of my notes
yesterday. While correcting them, the Marshal entered the Council Chamber
where I was writing, and politely informed me that I was his prisoner. Being,
as the immortal Sam Salters would express it, "a law and abiding man," I
immediately accompanied him to the court-room, intending to apply for bail.
Finding the Supreme Court in session, however, I went before Dr. Wood, who
has been commissioned by Judge Lecompte to admit to bail, and gave bonds for
my appearance at the next term of court. I was arrested on the same charge
for which I had but three weeks ago given $5,000 bail. The object, as
afterwards avowed, was to prevent me from reporting; they supposing that being
from home, I could not give the requisite bond immediately. As I went from
the hall with the Marshal, I left my notes scattered upon my desk. A friend
gathered up a portion, but the others were lost. Last night a crowd followed
me to the platform of the stairs leading from the hall of the house to the
ground with the intention of throwing me off, but learning their purpose, I
escaped by hurrying forward and mingling with the crowd so as to prevent them
from distinguishing me. I learned this morning that a plan has been secretly
and deliberately laid to kill me to-day or to-night. I expect that I will
yet be compelled to leave town.
Mr. Kagi's forebodings in respect to being prevented from further
reporting proved correct. After the second day's session he left Lecompton
for Lawrence, at which place he gave mortal offense to Judge Elmore by a
statement in one of his letters published in a Topeka paper, accusing the
Judge of being concerned in an attempt to assassinate him. The affair
resulted in a personal encounter between the parties a short time after at
Tecumseh, both gentlemen being injured.
Mr. Kagi subsequently was interested in assisting and forwarding
emigration over the Nebraska route, and finally, joining fortunes with John
Brown, became his most trusted officer, followed him to Virginia, and there
lost his life, being shot while fighting at Harper's Ferry.
Col. S. S. Prouty, in his address before the Historical Society of
Kansas, January 27, 1881, says of him:
"One of the correspondents of Eastern papers was J. H. Kagi, a
native of a Southern State. He was an Abolitionist and a bitter opponent of
the institution of slavery. He ably wrote and valiantly fought for the
Free-state cause. There was not in the Territory a man of more generous
impulses, or of greater moral or physical courage. He, too, died a martyr
for human liberty with Old John Brown."
All the prisoners remaining in the custody of Capt. Hampton at Lecompton were
pardoned and liberated by Gov. Geary, in March, 1857, in compliance with
numerous petitions, and on the ground that "their continued punishment could
neither subserve the ends of justice nor the interests of the Territory."
Many of the prisoners had previously made their escape, among others John E.
Rastall and John Ritchie, of Topeka. The latter liberated himself from the
prison at Lecompton, and after visiting Topeka, went to Indiana, where he
remained some little time. The former escaped soon after he was taken, and went
for a time to Iowa. An act was passed by the Legislature of 1859 (February 11),
granting amnesty for political offences, (sic) and under the protection
of that act, Mr. Ritchie again took up his residence in Topeka.
On Friday, April 20, 1860, Deputy U. S. Marshal L. Arms attempted to arrest Mr.
Ritchie for an offense (mail robbing) alleged to have been committed in 1856.
The arrest was in violation of the Amnesty Act, and was resisted by Mr. Ritchie.
The officer persisting, Mr. Ritchie shot him dead, Mr. R. standing in his own
door at the time. A preliminary examination was held before Justice Miller, of
Topeka, on the following day. Mr. Ritchie was defended by Lorenzo Dow, J. H.
Lane and A. L. Winans, Esq., and was discharged. The citizens of Topeka held a
meeting and passed resolutions approving his course.
With the winter of 1856-57, the hardest trials of the residents of
Topeka disappeared. The spring brought a large immigration, and affairs in
the Territory being comparatively quiet, if not settled, the city had a
chance to look more closely to its own special interests. After the
incorporation of the city the growth was so rapid that particular notice of
private improvements or enterprises would be tiresome.
Some account has already been given of the decisive measures taken by the
pioneer settlers of Topeka, to stamp out liquor-selling at the very outset of
their new enterprise. An organization called "The Temperance Union" was formed
at the opening of 1856, but the names of the officers are not published. At the
first annual meeting of the society, January, 1857, the following officers were
elected for the ensuing year: President, H. W. Farnsworth; Vice President, A.
F. Whiting; Secretary and Treasurer, J. F. Cummings. Meetings were to held the
first Wednesday evening in each month, Rev. L. Bodwell being announced as the
speaker at the next meeting, February 14, 1857.
Two days after the meeting, the following pledge was circulated,
and received the signatures below given:
"We, the undersigned, owners of hotel buildings, and proprietors
of hotels, and members of business firms, ready to do what we can to prevent
the introduction and sale of intoxicating liquors in our midst, do agree
with each other, and with the citizens of this community, that we will not
sell, or encourage, or consent to the sale or distribution of intoxicating
liquors to be used as a beverage.
(Signed.) Gordon & Bro., A. & L. W. Allen, Enoch Chase, Walter Oakley, E. C. K.
Garvey, J. Willets, J. Allen, D. M. Thurston, J. W. Farnsworth, C. Twitchell.
After several months' trial, the temperance people, finding that their
efforts in the line of "counsel, reproof, and exhortation," proved, in many
cases, unavailing, made up their minds that patience and moral suasion had
ceased to be the sort of weapons most needed for the kind of warfare in which
they were engaged. The measure resorted to is indicated in an article in the
Kansas Tribune, the local paper of Topeka. In the issue of July 18,
1857, the editor writes:
A case of this kind occurred in our place on Saturday, 11th inst. It
is said that about $1,500 worth of liquors were destroyed at the various
places where it had been kept for sale. What had induced the owners to
provide such a quantity for the use of a staunch temperance community like
Topeka, we are at a loss to conceive. The affair was participated in by a
large number of our most prominent and respectable citizens, and, what is
equally as important, with the entire approval of the ladies.
We sincerely deprecate the adoption of any measure which looks to
violence for the remedying of a public evil, but we regret still more deeply
the necessity for such a measure. It is a choice of evils. In the
absence of all municipal regulations for the suppression of the traffic, no
recourse was left our citizens but to take the matter in hand as they did, or
quietly submit to the still greater evil and imposition of the unrestricted
sale of liquor among us, with its concomitant evils of drunkenness and crime.
To those who have been the losers in this affair, we have no condolements or
sympathy to offer. Most of them had been duly warned of the consequences of
persisting in the traffic--some of them had given written pledges that they
would desist from it, and all were engaged in it with a full knowledge of the
fact that a very large majority of our people were strongly opposed to it.
Whether the action taken will have the desired effect, remains to be
seen. We hope, for the good of the community, as well as those who have
suffered in the destruction of the liquor, that they will consult the
feelings of those among whom they live, as well as their own reputation, and
allow themselves to be influenced accordingly.
In this connection, we can not omit a word in regard to the position
of the Town Association in reference to the sale of liquor in the town. A
provision exists in the constitution of the association, whereby the owner of
property under it forfeits the same by permitting the sale of intoxicating
liquor on it, and every man who has purchased property of the association, has
done so with a full knowledge of that fact, thereby making the interdiction
and forfeiture perfectly valid and binding. This being the case, the
association has the power to prevent the sale of ardent spirits within its
jurisdiction, and the public will hold its members amenable to the charge of
culpable neglect of duty and the public good, if they do not use every means
at their disposal for the suppression of the nefarious traffic among us.
Soon after the demonstration of the 11th of July, a mass meeting
of the citizens of Topeka and vicinity was called for consultation "on the
present position, aspect, and prospect of the liquor traffic in this place,"
and to ascertain somewhat definitely the sentiments of the people on the
subject. H. P. Burgess was chairman, and S. N. Frazier, secretary, of the
By the following report, which was offered and adopted, it will be
seen that the participants in this meeting were in favor of deciding the
temperance issue, so far as Topeka was concerned, at the polls. The report
was offered by the following committee: S. P. Thompson, Walter Oakley, M. L.
Gaylord, J. C. Miller, and M. C. Dickey. It read as follows:
1st. The sale and use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage in Topeka,
is a nuisance and a plague, and all who regard the reputation and prosperity
of the place, and the morals and safety of its inhabitants, should unite to
banish this scourge from our town.
2d. In the absence of law for our protection, the people are
justified in using force to drive this traffic from our community--petition,
persuasion, remonstrance, and the ordinances of the Town Association having
utterly failed to accomplish this work.
3d. That this convention call an election of the citizens of Topeka
and vicinity, on Saturday, the 18th inst., the polls to be opened at two
o'clock p.m., and to remain open till sunset, to determine by ballot whether
or not they are in favor of the sale of intoxicating liquors in their midst.
4th. If a majority shall be found opposed to such sale, then a
committee shall be elected by ballot, whose duties shall be: 1st, to notify
liquor dealers of the fact, and to request them to desist from the traffic;
and, 2d, if they refuse to comply with this request, to proceed to search
for, and, with the help of such citizens as they may call to their aid, to
destroy all liquors kept for the purpose heretofore designated.
Dr. Ritchie, H. P. Waters, and C. C. Tuttle, were constituted a
committee to give notice, and act as judges of said election.
As no notice of an election of the kind proposed, appears in the local
paper, it is presumed it did not occur; but the early temperance people
fought heroically to prevent the evil from gaining a secure foothold in the
young town, and it should ever be remembered and recorded to their credit.
AULD LANG SYNE.
Dr. F. L. Crane, one of the early Topeka pioneers, celebrated his seventy-fifth
birthday January 10, 1883, by a reunion of the old settlers. An account of the
gathering, which appeared in the Topeka Capital, is given below:
Our venerable and long-time friend, Dr. F. L. Crane, was seventy-five
years old on the 10th inst. He took advantage of the occasion to invite to
dinner at the Copeland all of the members of the old Topeka Town Association
who could be reached. The Doctor was vice-president of that association.
Some other gentlemen were also invited. The following is a complete list of
those who sat down to a well-spread table at 10 o'clock P. M. Those marked
* were members of the Topeka Town Association.
Daniel H. Horne*, H. W. Farnsworth*, G. G. Gage, Dr. Hogeboom, S. S.
Prouty, F. R. Foster*, A. J. Huntoon, F. W. Giles*, Col. Holliday*, Enoch
Chase*, P. I. Bonebrake*, W. P. Douthitt, J. R. Mulvane, F. P. Baker, W. H.
Jenkins, James Steele, G. W. Veale, Jacob Smith, John Ritchie*, W. W.
Weymouth*, O. T. Welch, Timothy McIntire*, G. A. Cutler*, Silas Rain, Judge
Greer*, John T. Morton, D. Auter, J. A. Hickey*, Cope Gordon*, Kirk Rowley,
A. B. Quinton, two sons of the doctor, George and Jesse, and Frank, a
grandson, George's boy; F. G. Adams, H. F. Gee, H. Kline, S. E. Martin*,
Jacob Willets*, and Walter Oakley*.
Of these, all but nine came into what is now the State of Kansas while
it was yet a Territory. Dr. Crane and F. P. Baker sat at the head of one
table, and Col. Holliday and Judge Morton at the other. Col. Holliday acted
as master of ceremonies. The dinner was equal to the many good dinners that
Cope Gordon has in the past given on such occasions, and that is all that is
necessary to say about it.
After all had eaten their fill, Col. Holliday rapped on the table, and
proposed the health of the host, Dr. F. L. Crane. Those who have know the
Colonel in the past, know how happy he is on such occasions. He spoke of his
first meeting with Dr. Crane on a steamer on the Missouri River, a stranger,
and how he was attracted to him by his evident guileless disposition and
honesty. He followed the course of the Doctor from that time to this,
reciting many thing (sic) exemplifying the men and the times. He said
that it could be said of Dr. Crane what Abe Lincoln said on an occasion, that
his life had been passed "with charity for all, malice towards none," and his
old friends concurred with this view.
The Doctor was very much affected, and it was some time before he could
control his voice to reply to the toast to him, which, by the way, was drank
in cold water, standing. We shall not attempt to report the Doctor's speech,
only giving a few points. He said he remembered circumstances which happened
in 1811, and recited them, and that he was then but three years old. He
described the manners of the times when he was young. The spinning on the
old-fashioned spinning wheels, the reaping of grain with sickles, the weaving
of cloth on old looms, the threshing of grain with flails, the glass windows
in vogue, only six by eight inches, the wooden latches on the front doors,
with strings hanging out, the great open fire-places, with logs for firewood,
etc. After much of this kind which was interesting, he related his first
experience in Kansas, and closed as follows:
"I beg leave to propose for the gentlemen who accompanied me in 1854 up the
Missouri River in the steamboat F. X. Aubrey, whose valuable traits of character
I then commenced to learn and appreciate during our seven days from St. Louis.
For him, the president of the association, I pray for long life and continued
prosperity, with every comfort which he knows so well how to appreciate."
This called out Col. Holliday, who said that Dr. Crane, as
vice-president of the Town Association, had more to do than he did with the
allotments, and that his services to the association had been great. The
first settlers started out with the intention of making Topeka the capital of
the State and succeeded, with the intention of making it the largest place
in the State, and have succeeded. The Colonel predicted that Topeka would
in the next five to eight years have as many thousand population as Dr. Crane
had lived years. The Colonel was very eloquent and very much in earnest.
Dr. G. A. Cutler, Mr. T. McIntire, Col. Ritchie and James Steele
were called out and made short and appropriate speeches.
Col. Holliday then read letters of regret from G. F. Crowe, Guilford
Dudley, J. Lee Knight, S. T. Walkley, now of Springfield, Mo., William
Stevens, of Kansas City, Robert Klotz, formerly of this city, but now a
member of Congress from Pennsylvania, and ex-Gov. Charles Robinson.
The last two letters are worthy of publication, and we shall try to
soon find room for at least a portion of them.
At this stage of the proceedings Jacob Smith and G. G. Gage went to
the door, and threw it open, and wheeled in an elegant easy chair for the
Doctor, which some of the friends present had purchased, and now presented to
him with another neat little speech from Col. Holliday. The Doctor was too
much affected to respond, although he tried to do so.
This closed one of the most happy events which has transpired in Topeka for
Speaking of the dinner, a lady, over the signature of "Katherine," wrote to the
Kansas City Journal as follows:
A remarkable number of our earliest citizens were present, and
reminiscence was the occupation of the happy hours, and that reminds me of
the old Topeka, and gives me an opportunity to say that this city was
blessed in its earliest days by the presence of real ladies and gentlemen,
whose shaping influence has continued to this day. The population has been
remarkably permanent; a great flood of people have come in, but the families
your correspondent knew in her girlhood are still here. What nice people
they were. There were the Wards, whose beautiful daughters were known all
over Kansas. I doubt if any modern Kansas belle has ever eclipsed Mary Ward;
and there was the sweet singer, Mollie Campbell, and the Hollidays, and the
Gordons, and the Farnsworths, the Stewarts, the Kellams, the Chases, the
Giles, the Steeles, the Whitneys, and many others whose names are still
among us. The earliest ordinary and social gatherings here were marked by
taste and refinement. The second generation of families now lead the young
society here, and it is pleasant to see the faces of the pretty young matrons
of the "60s" repeated in the girls of 1883. I doubt if any city has ever
maintained a purer or healthier social life than ours. All this has been
suggested by the mention of the gathering at the good Dr. Crane's. It is all
true, and the truth must be spoken even though it may sound like self-praise.