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


[TOC] [part 20] [part 18] [Cutler's History]


Charles Robinson, the first Governor of the State of Kansas, was born at Hardwick, Worcester Co., Mass., July 21, 1881. He was bred to habits of frugality and industry by parents who were themselves possessed of those New England cardinal virtues. His early educational advantages were such as the schools in the vicinity of his home afforded. He was an ambitious young scholar, and at the age of eighteen had acquired sufficient classical education to enter upon a collegiate course at Amherst College. There he remained two years, when a severe inflammation of the eyes, which threatened blindness, compelled him to relinquish his studies and leave college with his course partially completed. He did not return to college, but on his recovery commenced the study of medicine, which he pursued at Woodstock, Vt., and Pittsfield, Mass., graduating at the medical school at the latter place with honor. He first commenced the practice of his chosen profession in Belchertown, Hampshire Co., Mass. He removed to Springfield, Mass., in 1845, where he continued in the practice of his profession, winning a widespread reputation as a specialist in the treatment of chronic diseases. While a resident of Springfield, he became a partner of Dr. Holland (Timothy Titcomb), who had been his former friend and classmate in the medical school from which he had been graduated. In 1847, he removed to Fitchburg, where he continued successfully his medical practice for two years. In 1849, soon after the gold discoveries in California, he set out for the newly-discovered El Dorado, being surgeon of one of the early pioneer parties of California emigrants. The party traveled by the then long, weary and dangerous overland route, which led them across the unsettled Indian Territory of what is now Kansas, and the long stretches of arid plains beyond. On this journey he first saw the fertile bottoms of the Kaw, and encamping near the present site of Lawrence, climbed the hill afterward christened Mount Oread, and on which he built his first Kansas home, and from its height viewed the theater on which he was to play no subordinate part in the coming contest for free homes, free ballots, and free speech. On his arrival in California, after a short time spent in prospecting and mining, he settled, as much as the times and the surroundings would permit, at Sacramento, and there opened an eating-house. Trouble soon broke out between the squatters and a set of later speculative comers who coveted their claims. The former held their claims under the United States pre-emption laws then in force, and elsewhere in the country universally observed; the speculators claimed title to the entire site of the embryo city by virtue of purchase from Capt. Sutter, who held a Mexican-Spanish title to 99,000 square miles of California land, the boundaries or location of which had never been surveyed or defined. The contest for possession, after vain endeavors on the part of the squatters to await the decision of the courts, culminated in an open war for possession on the one side and ejectment on the other. Dr. Robinson became the adviser and acknowledged leader of the squatters in their contest for their rights. The "squatter riots," as they were termed, resulted in several serious encounters, in which many were wounded and a few lost their lives. The most serious conflict resulted in the death of the Mayor of Sacramento on the one side and the dangerous wounding of Robinson on the other. Robinson, while still suffering from his wounds, was indicted for murder, assault with intent to kill, and conspiracy, and held a prisoner, pending his trial, for ten weeks aboard a prison-ship. He was tried before the District Court at Sacramento and acquitted. During his imprisonment he was nominated and elected to the California Legislature from the Sacramento district. He took a leading part in the legislative proceedings of the succeeding session, and was one of the prominent supporters of John C. Fremont, who was elected as United States Senator during the session. On his return to Sacramento, he published a daily Free-soil paper a short time. July 1, 1851, he left California and set sail for "the States." On the voyage he suffered shipwreck on the Mexican coast. From Panama to Cuba he was employed as a surgeon on board a steamer filled with sick workmen, who had been engaged in the construction of the Panama Railroad, then being built. He was stopping at Havana at the time of the end of the ill-fated expedition of Lopez, which culminated in his death, and there learned, in witnessing his execution, the sure fate of all who fight against tyranny, and fail. The lesson sank deep into his heart, and taught him the full value of that caution, foresight, and cool moderation which alone can restrain enthusiastic impulse within the bounds of possible success. He reached his home in Fitchburg late in the fall of 1851, and there resumed the practice of medicine, which he continued until 1854 with great success. About the time of the organization of the Emigrant Aid Society, he published a series of letters concerning the Kansas country through which he had passed in 1849, which awakened a widespread interest in the unknown land, and drew the attention of the managers, of the organization to the writer as an indispensable agent for the practical execution of the proposed work of selecting homes for Free-state emigrants, and otherwise carrying out the openly-avowed object of the society to make Kansas a free State under the conditions which the Kansas-Nebraska bill had prescribed.

He thus became one of the first heralds of free State emigration to Kansas, and designated to the society as the best objective point for a Free-State settlement in the Territory the land that lay along the bottoms of the Kansas River, at the foot of the hill he had climbed in 1849. There the first party pitched their tents, and there Robinson made his own home, September 6, 1854, at which time he with his family arrived; he being, with S. C. Pomeroy, the conductor of the second party of New England emigrants - it being the first made up of families who came for bona fide settlement. He chose his home on Mount Oread, west of the site of Lawrence, from which he had viewed the promised land five year before. The history of the Territory from the time of his arrival to the admission of Kansas as a free State, is fraught with more interest to the student of American history than that of any former period in the annals of the country, and through it all runs the quite life of Charles Robinson, who, himself the originator, organizer and leader of the free State movement, stood through evil and good repute as the bulwark against which the assaults of foes from without and within beat with unceasing but unavailing force until the final victory was won. The story is told, all too imperfectly, in the accompany pages, He was the first Governor chosen under the Topeka Constitution, and the first Commander-in-Chief of the Free-State Militia. He held the organization with a skill and wisdom peculiarly his own, as a final place of refuge for the Free-State men of Kansas, until, with growing strength, they could transform it into a valid form of government under the forms of law. The Wyandotte Constitution, under the forced recognition of Congress, having been adopted, he was, under its provisions, chosen the first governor of the free State of Kansas, and, in that position, organized under the laws the military forces upon a war basis, for the final struggle in which Kansas troops won fresh laurels and imperishable renown. For the cause of freedom in Kansas he suffered imprisonment, destruction of property, defamation of character, and all the minor annoyances which hatred of merit, political ambition, or internecine party strife could engender. He has outlive it all, and, a conqueror among the world's true heroes, lives the quiet and unassuming life befitting the station which, in the yet unwritten history of Kansas and his country, will be accorded him.

After the destruction of his home on Mount Oread, at the time of the sack of Lawrence in 1856, he did not rebuild. His present home is on a beautiful farm, some three miles north of the city of Lawrence. Since the close of his gubernatorial term in 1863, he has taken no leading part in the politics of the State or nation, and has ceased to be in accord or fellowship with either of the dominant political parties. He was never a party politician, and still holds sturdily to the course of independent thought and action which has characterized him through life, and which only men of the highest type have the courage or principle to consistently follow.

G. Douglass Brewerton, a correspondent of the New York Herald, gave the following sketch of Gov. Robinson in 1856: "He may be regarded as the read head - the thinking one we mean - and main-spring of the Free-State party; or, to speak more correctly, of all that party who are worth anything. We believe him to be a keen, shrewd, far-seeing man, who would permit nothing to stand in the way of the end he desired to gain. He is, moreover, cool and determined, and appears to be endowed with immense firmness; we should call him a conservative man now; but conservative rather from policy than from principle. He seems to have strong common sense and a good ordinary brain, but no brilliancy of talent. In fact, to sum Gov. Robinson up in a single sentence, we consider him the most dangerous enemy which the Pro-slavery party has to encounter in Kansas. In person, he is tall, well made, and more than ordinarily handsome; gentlemanly, but by no means winning in his manners, with one of those cold, keen blue eyes that seem to look you through." The above sketch was not overdrawn.

The following very just analysis of his character appears in an address delivered by Col. S. S. Prouty, before the Kansas State Historical Society, on January 27, 1881:

"One of the most conspicuous and influential leaders of the Free-State party was Charles Robinson, the first Governor of the State of Kansas. He was noted for his sterling common sense, firmness, courage and coolness. Though an uncompromising anti-slavery man, there was no sentiment or gush in his composition. He was regarded as a conservative man, and too business-like and practical by the idealists. He fancied fighting as well as any other man when it was absolutely necessary, or when it would benefit the Free-State cause. But he did not believe in sanguinary strife simply for the love of it, or for ends but remotely associated with the Kansas contest. Such men as Gov. Robinson were needed to hold in check the reckless and imprudent, to bring order out of chaos, and secure the fruits of victory."

"In latter days, Gov. Robinson has ably pleaded for the political rights of women, championed the cause of the working men, and, to-day, he joins hands with the Great Radical, Windell Phillips, in the advocacy of financial theories."

Mr. Robinson was married in November, 1843, to Miss Sarah Adams, daughter of William Adams, of West Brookfield, Mass. Two children were born to them, both of whom died in infancy. Mrs. Robinson died January 17, 1846. October 30, 1851, he married Miss Sara T. L. Lawrence, daughter of Hon. Myron Lawrence, an eminent lawyer and statesman of Massachusetts. Her mother was Clarissa (Dwight) Lawrence. She was of the New England family of Dwights, of Western Massachusetts, of which President Dwight of Yale College is a worthy scion. She is the author of "Kansas; its Interior and Exterior Life," a book which in its time, was a not unworthy rival of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and did scarcely less, in its sphere, to rouse the Northern heart in the early years of the Kansas struggle. Her history and character, so far as identified with the history of the commonwealth, appears elsewhere. Gov. Robinson has no living children.


The second Governor of the State of Kansas, Thomas Carney, was born in Kenston Township, Delaware Co., Ohio, August 20, 1827. His father, James Carney, a farmer, died when Thomas was but four years of age, leaving his widow in straitened circumstances, and with a family of four little children. Thomas remained on the farm, attending the district school when farm work allowed, until he was nineteen years of age, when, with about $3.50 in his pocket, he left the old home and attended school six months in Berkshire, Ohio, working for his board. His desire was to prepare himself for the practice of law, but pecuniary circumstances forced him to abandon that purpose, and turn his attention to mercantile pursuits. In September, 1844, he obtained a situation in a dry goods house in Columbus, Ohio, on a salary of $50 per year and board, removing with the firm to Kenston, Ohio, and remaining in their employe two years - his salary doubled the second year. He then removed to Cincinnati, and remained in a mercantile house in that city five years as clerk, being admitted as partner in 1852, under the firm name of Carney, Swift & Co. In the spring of 1857, failing health forced him to sever his connection with the house and engage in more active pursuits. He accordingly purchased a farm in Illinois and engaged for a time in stock business, and a year later removed to Leavenworth, and with Thomas C. Stephens, Esq., opened the first exclusively wholesale house in the city, and one which for many years was of immense value to Leavenworth. In the fall of 1861, Mr. Carney was elected to the Legislature from Leavenworth county, and in the fall of 1862 was elected Governor of Kansas. A contemporary, writing of his official career, says: "Upon assuming the duties of his office, he withdrew his personal attention from the business of his house, for the purpose of devoting his entire time to his official duties. As Governor, his energy and financial skill have secured great advantages to the State. Entering upon the duties of the office at a time when the State was without credit, without means to carry on its government, or to protect its citizens from lawless guerrillas and the calamities incident to war, his labors have been great; but he has conquered all difficulties, however overwhelming they may have seemed; he has established the credit of the State on a firm foundation; he has advanced his private means to pay the interest on the public debt, and to support the troops called into service for the protection of the homes and lives of the people, and in all things has sacrificed private ease and personal considerations for the interest of the State."


Samuel J. Crawford, third Governor of the State of Kansas, was born in Lawrence County, Ind., April 15, 1835. His early life was spent on a farm, and his early education acquired in the district schools of the neighborhood. By application and unwearied industry, young Crawford had studied law sufficiently to gain an admission to the Indiana bar at the age of twenty-one years. Continuing his studies, he entered the Law School of Cincinnati College in 1858, and directly after graduating from institution, came to Kansas, and commenced practice at Garnett City, Anderson County, Mr. Crawford was elected a member of the first Kansas State Legislature, which convened at Topeka, March, 1861, but resigned his seat in May, and returned to Garnett to organize a company of volunteers for the pending war. He was chosen Captain of the company, and a few days later assigned to the Second Kansas Volunteer Infantry, Col. Robert B. Mitchell. In July, the Second went into active service in Missouri, participated in the campaign under Gen. Lyon, and won enviable distinction in the hard-fought battle of Wilson's Creek, August 10, 1816. The Second was mustered out in October, 1861, Capt. Crawford being retained in the service. On the re-organization of the Second, as cavalry, he was assigned to the command of a battalion, and took part in the battles fought by the "Army of the Frontier," in 1862-63, having command of the regiment from May, 1863, until November of the same year, when he took command of the Second Kansas Colored Regiment, and with his command participated in the Caniden expedition under Gen. Steele. He led the expedition from Fort Smith through the Indian country, in July, 1864, and in October of the same year took part in the campaign against Gen. Price in Missouri. He was elected Governor of Kansas, November, 1864, resigned his commission in December, and was inaugurated January 9, 1865. He was re-elected in the fall of 1866 and served until November 4, 1868, when he resigned to take command of the Nineteenth Kansas Cavalry Regiment, which was raised to fight the Indians on the plains. At the close of the campaign, Gov. Crawford resumed the practice of his profession, locating in Emporia, Lyon County. He was afterward State Claim Agent, with headquarters at Washington, D. C., where he attended to the interests of Kansas in the matter of the claims of the State for expenses, incurred in repelling invasion and Indian hostilities on its border.


Nehemiah Green, fourth Governor of the State of Kansas, was born in Hardin County, Ohio, March 8, 1837. He was educated at the Ohio Wesleyan University, and, after his graduation, taught school in Logan and Champaign Counties, Ohio. In March, 1855, he first came to Kansas, and took a claim in Douglas County. There he remained two or three years, being, during the time, admitted to the bar. He returned to Ohio, and, in 1859, having entered the Methodist ministry, joined the Cincinnati Conference, and preached the Gospel at Aberdeen and Williamsburg until the breaking-out of the rebellion.

In 1862, he enlisted in the Eighty-fifty Ohio Infantry, as Lieutenant of Company B, and served honorably with his regiment in West Virginia and in the Army of the Cumberland. Over-exertion in the Atlanta campaign brought on hemorrhage of the lungs, and he was compelled to resign. Subsequently he was appointed Major of the One Hundred and Fifty-third Ohio, and took part in what was known as the hundred-day campaign in West Virginia.

In 1865, he returned to Kansas, joined the Kansas Conference, and was stationed at Manhattan, Riley County, for two years. In 1866, he was elected Lieutenant Governor, and by the resignation of Gov. Crawford, became Governor of the State of Kansas, November 4, 1868, and served until the expiration of the term, January 11, 1869.

During 1870-71, he was Presiding Elder of the Manhattan District, but, in consequence of his wife's ill health, he "located" and retired to his farm, until 1873, when he again entered the conference, and was stationed at Holton during 1873-74, and at Waterville during 1875. After his hemorrhage in the army, Mr. Green was never again as strong as he had been, and was in such danger of returning attacks that he was finally compelled to locate permanently; but, nevertheless, he continues to preach occasionally, especially when churches are to be dedicated and debts paid off, as he is peculiarly fitted for such work. His last dangerous hemorrhage (which nearly ended his earthly career) resulted from overwork and heat at one of these meetings.

In November 1880, Mr. Green was prevailed upon by his neighbors to allow them to use his name as a candidate for the Legislature. He was elected and served faithfully his term.

Mr. Green owns one of the finest farms on Mill Creek. It contains 320 acres, the larger part of which is splendid bottom land, under a high state of cultivation. It also has an abundance of timber, stone, water, etc. He has some thoroughbred animals and a large herd of grade cattle. He was among the first men in the county to adopt the plan of pushing his cattle from the start and feeding them until they were ready for the butcher; and his were the first Riley County animals known to have been bought in the Kansas City market for shipment to England.

In 1860, Mr. Green married Miss Ida Leffingwell, of Williamsburg, Ohio, who died in 1870, leaving three children - Glenzen S., Effie and Alice. In 1873, he married Miss Mary Sturdevant, of Rushville, N. Y., by whom he has two children - Burtis U. and Ned M.


James M. Harvey, fifth Governor of the State of Kansas, was born September 21, 1833, in Monroe County, Va. His father, Thomas Harvey, and his mother, Margaret Walker, were both natives of Virginia, but removed from that State when the subject of this sketch was young. His education was received in the public and select schools of Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. On leaving school, he became a practical surveyor and civil engineer, both his tastes and talents inclining him to that profession.

In 1859, just before Kansas was freed from Territorial enthrallment, and when she was struggling to become one of the sisterhood of States, Mr. Harvey removed thither, settling in Riley County, and soon became widely known for his ability, intelligence, and enthusiastic support of the measure which was to make the Territory a member in full fellowship of the American Union. He at once engaged in agriculture, in which he has ever since been employed; but the seclusion of the farm did not conceal his eminent ability and cultivated talents from the public.

In 1861, he enlisted as a soldier under the Union banner, and became Captain of a company in the Fourth and Tenth (consolidated) Regiments. He served with honor in the campaign his command took part in, and was mustered out in 1864. In 1865, and again in 1866, he was a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, where he displayed such power as to attract the attention of the leading men of the commonwealth, and to give earnest to that distinction he was so soon to achieve. In 1867-68, he served as State Senator. In 1869-70, and again in 1870-71, he was Governor of Kansas. The duties of these various offices he discharged with such fidelity and ability as justly to entitle him to still higher distinction. Accordingly, on the assembling of the State Legislature in 1874, he was elected to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Alexander Caldwell, as United States Senator. This vacancy had been temporarily filled by the appointment of Robert Crozier, but the Legislature promptly recognized Mr. Harvey's claims and gave him the merited compliment of an election to that position. He took his seat February 12, 1874, and filled the place with credit to himself and honor to his State until March 4, 1877, when his term expired.

On retiring from public life, Gov. Harvey returned to his farm at Vinton, Riley County, where he has continued to reside.

He was married October 4, 1854, to Miss Charlotte Cutter, of Adams County, Ill. They have six children - Clara, Emma, Lillian, Martha, James N. and John A.

[TOC] [part 20] [part 18] [Cutler's History]