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


[TOC] [part 9] [part 7] [Cutler's History]


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 attack.

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 meeting.

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.


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 some time.

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.

[TOC] [part 9] [part 7] [Cutler's History]