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


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In November, 1845, there occurred an event in the Methodist Episcopal parsonage, which was of importance to the Wyandot Nation in more ways than one - it being no more nor less than the first marriage in the county, between Hiram N. Northrup and Margaret Clark, daughter of Thomas Clark, the Wyandot Chief. He became a trusted member of the nation, acting as their financial agent for many years. In 1858, he was selected to go to Washington and collect $53,000 - the balance of the $185,000 still due them from the Government; was not required to give bond or security of any kind; creditably transacted the business, and charged nothing for his services.

The Wyandot nation continued to improve their lands, so that they would be a credit to the most skillful of "white agriculturists." In fact, every missionary who came among them expressed his surprise at their skill in this direction. Matthew Mudeater, James Charloe and George I. Clark were especially distinguished for the energy manifested in making improvements, planting orchards, etc. Silas and John M. Armstrong planted the first fruit trees in March, 1845. Notwithstanding this encouraging feature of their settlement, a serious cause of dissention had been increasing for a number of years, since their departure from Ohio. The conflict between the Pro-slavery and the Free State parties raged in the Wyandot nation six years before it did in the Territory of Kansas. While the Rev. James Wheeler their beloved missionary was absent at his new appoiniment (from the fall of 1843 to the spring of 1844), the Rev. J. C. Berryman, Superintendent of the Shawnee Manual Labor School, and the Rev. E. T. Peery, missionary to the Delaware Indians, talked eloquently against slavery. That they emancipated their own slaves seemed to prove beyond a doubt the sincerity of their eloquence. It was some-what a surprise to the nation, four years later, after Mr. Peery had become their missionary, to observe him so active in the organization of a "Church South" in their midst - that church, supported by the most pronounced pro-slavery advocates.

In October, 1846, when the nation received the bulk of the money for the improvements made on their Ohio homes, Mr. Peery proposed that they build a larger and better church. James Big-Tree opposed it, expressing the fear that it would fall into the hands of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Mr. Peery said that the building would belong to the majority, and the majority would go with the Methodist Episcopal Church, should a split occur. The next year a brick church was built; the conference met and continued Mr. Peery in the Wyandot charge, and in October, 1848, the Methodist Episcopal Church South was organized by him. A majority did refuse to join the new organization, and were very bitter in their feelings toward Mr. Peery. Bishop Andrews, of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, had preached in the Methodist Episcopal Church building, but Mr. Peery refused to recognize Dr. Still, the Methodist Episcopal Presiding Elder of the District. Rev. James Gurleyy, of the Ohio Conference, was called to the mission by the Methodist Episcopal Church, but as the building was stoned (supposably with the full consent of the Church South), the building was vacated and services held in a private dwelling. He was finally ordered to leave the Territory by the United States Indian Agent, Dr. Richard Hewett, who was a strong Pro-slavery man. From June until October, 1849, the church held services in a grove, and the hostility between the two churches continued to be the hostility between the Free State and the Pro-slavery parties. A log church was erected about two miles from the brick structure; soon after Rev. T. B. Markham became missionary, in August, 1849, and both churches were burned by incendiaries during the excited times of the spring of 1856.

The following bears so forcibly upon these topics, the extract being from an address by Mrs. Armstrong, at Bismarck Grove, Kan., that it is herewith presented:

I think that I, of all who are assembled here this morning, have the most reason to be proud. When a discussion was held among the people of the Wyandot nation, during all of one night in 1848, in reference to the stand they should make on the slavery question, George I. Clark said: "Let us hold on in our opposition to the slave power, and in fifty years we will be proud of it." They did hold on, and this morning I am proud of it. The Wyandots brought themselves to the Territory; and as the United States government failed to furnish them lands they bought land and provisions for themselves, Silas Armstrong being their contractor. There were among them 200 church members, in a population of 700. Where else has been the colony in which there were so large a proportion of church members? They bought the land for their new home in October, 1843, and in April, 1844, they built and occupied their first church, the first church built by the people in the Territory. Brother Speer, in the Kansas City Times of September 7, says that the first Free-State school ever established in the Territory was established in Lawrence, in January, 1855. The first school established in the Territory was at Wyandotte, and my husband, J. M. Armstrong, was contractor for the school house, and taught the first school in it, commencing July 1, 1844. He was a lawyer, but could not practice law then, the Territory not being organized. The school was free - white children in the neighborhood were permitted to attend. The Wyandots were the first in the Territory, except a few of our Baptist brethren, to oppose slavery. In the winter of 1843-44, the Wyandot council enacted a law forbidding the introduction of slaves into their nation. We had our border ruffian war before you had yours. We were mobbed; and after my husband's death, the ruffians would sometimes shoot into my yard and call us Abolitionists. More than three-fourths of the Wyandots were anti-slavery. Those who were Pro-slavery were descendants of Virginians, who had been taken prisoners. The Wyandots sympathized with you in your struggle, and a Wyandot was the messenger that warned Lawrence of the invaders in December, 1855. In May, 1856, when Lawrence was besieged, the border ruffians in our neighborhood were elated and encouraged in their persecution of Free-State people. That day I started to Ohio, and the next day one of them came to my house and asked for that ------ Abolitionist. He was answered that I had started to Ohio. Doubting it, he searched the premises, but not finding me, returned to the house, and as he passed out of the door through which he had first entered, he stabbed the wall next the door three times, saying,, with an oath, that if that Abolitionist were there he "would run her through that way." God preserved my life by leading me to start to Ohio the day before.

In 1848, while the conflict between the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church South, or between slavery and freedom, was the hottest, disorder and especially drunkenness increased to a great extent among the Wyandots. A temperance society was organized as early as the winter of 1844-45, it having its origin substantially in this wise: During December, 1844, a prominent member of the nation moved his household goods over from Westport. There being no bridge, he loaded them onto a flat-boat at Kansas City, and engaged a number of the Wyandots to bring them up the river and land them at Wyandotte. It happened they were under the ifluence of liquor, and having propelled the boat to the mouth of Turkey Creek, left it there to float away and "dump" overboard all his goods. This misfortune suggested the formation of a temperance organization - the first in the Territory. But although the temperance society was strong and influential, a sterner remedy for increasing evil was found necessary, and a log jail was accordingly built, in the fall of 1846, across the way from the schoolhouse. True enough, its first occupant, a man, was locked up for being drunk. Afterward, a Wyandot man got hold of a Mormon Bible. and induced another woman to live with him when he already had a wife. For this both he and his "second wife" were locked up together.

In June 1851 the Wyandot nation held a national convention, composed of all men over eighteen years of age who were the legally qualified voters. The national convention, in turn, elected thirteen delegates who formed a constitutional convention to revise the laws of the nation.

This convention sat several weeks, and the constitution, as drafted by John M. Armstrong, Secretary, was unanimously adopted. Having received his legal education in Ohio, Mr. Armstrong had in his possession the laws of that State, and the principal features of the constitution were drawn from that source. By its provisions the Council was divided into one head chief, four councilmen, two Sheriffs and a Secretary, all the officers being elected by the people. The next important political movement made by the nation was the agitation of a territorial organization. Most of the influential members favored it, especially those whose ancestors were of white blood. This resulted in the final calling of an election for the selection of a delegate to Congress, October 12, 1852. Abelard Guthrie, the candidate, was connected by marriage with a noted chief of the Canadian Wyandots. His wife's mother was a Shawnee, and her uncle the last hereditary chief of the Shawnees. Mr. Guthrie was a man of ability and honesty, and popular both because of his inherent worth and his high family connections. He was, therefore, unanimously elected to the Thirty-second Congress by the following voters: Charles B. Garrett, Isaac Baker, Jose Antonio Pieto, Henry C. Norton, Abelard Guthrie (himself - not following the practice of modest modern politicians and voting for some body else), Henry C. Long, Cyrus Garrett, Francis Cotter, Edward B. Hand, Francis A. Hicks, Russell Garrett, Samuel Rankin, Nicholas Cotter, Joel W. Garrett, Isaac Long, Thomas Coon-Hawk, James Charloe, William Walker, George I. Clark, Benjamin N. C. Anderson, Matthew R. Walker, Samuel Priestley, Henry Garrett, William Gibson, Priestly Muir, Joel Walker, Isaac Brown, James Long, John Lynch. William Trowbridge, John W. Ladd, Daniel McNeal, Edward Fifer, Peter D. Clark and Henry W. Porter - thirty-five voters in all, who cast their ballots in the order named. Mr. Guthrie went to Washington, but it is not known that he returned the richer except in honor. The next step in the political progress of the Wyandot nation which appears on the face to be quite a stride. but is in reality of not much importance, is the holding of the convention on the spot where Dunning Hall now stands. A few people from Fort Leavenworth, officers and others, thought it would be a good thing to get together at some place where there were the most "heads" - the Wyandots were not yet citizens - and form a provincial government - choose officers who might call elections for deciding upon territorial organizations. Some careless historians speak of "delegates to this convention," but if there were any delegates, no notice was ever given for caucuses to select them. It was really an impromptu gathering, and the Wyandots who were most in favor of becoming citizens of the new Territory were most prominent in its deliberations. William Walker, a chief, was chosen Provisional Governor, and George I. Clark Secretary, and the elections were duly called. The statement often made that Matthew Walker was appointed Probate Judge by this so-called "convention" is a blunder. He became Probate Judge under the "bogus laws."

By the treaty of January 31, 1855, the majority of the Wyandot nation received the rights of citizenship. It was signed by George W. Manypenny, United States Indian Commissioner, and on the part of the nation by Silas Armstrong, George I. Clark, Tan-roo-mee, Matthew Mud-eater, John Hicks and Joel Walker.

After the Wyandots obtained their rights of citizenship, the next "important event" which occurred, was the landing of Gen. Calhoun and the Surveyor General's office, on the 10th of September, 1855. It was opened in the double log house, opposite where Dunning's Hall now stands, and was engineered here until the following spring, when it was removed to Leavenworth by Robert Ream, father of Vinnie Ream, the sculptress, Chief Clerk, Samuel Parsons, Chief Clerk of the Indian Department. Edwin T. Vedder, Robert Ream, Jr., and Pennymaker, Clerks. Across the way was Isaac Brown's hotel, subsequently dubbed the "Cat-fish Hotel."

The leading chiefs from the time the Wyandots settled here until they became citiznea in 1855 were: Francis A. Hicks, Gau-roome, James Bigtree, James Washington, Sarrahass, the father of John Sarrahass, George Armstrong, John Gibson, John W. Gray-Eyes, Henry Jaques, William Walker and Silas Armstrong, George I. Clark, Matthew Mudeater and James G. Clarke.

The first United States Agent to the Wyandots in Kansas was Maj. Phillips, of Columbus, Ohio; interpreters, John M. Armstrong and George I. Clark. The second United States agent was Dr. Richard M. Hewitt; the third, and last exclusively for Wyandots, Maj. Moseley. William Walker and Silas Armstrong were interpreters from 1849 to the close of the agency,

As a fitting close to this chapter on the Wyandot Nation, the following interesting information is given of some of the best known members, from notes furnished by D. B. Hadley, of Wyandotte: "The Wyandots were much more advanced in civilization than either the Delawares or Shawnees. They cultivated farms, built houses and barns, planted orchards and opened roads. They owned and worked a ferry over the Kansas River, near its mouth. Several of the more advanced in civilization and learning engaged in mercantile business in Kansas City and Wyandotte. Among these were Joel Walker, Isaiah Walker and Henry Garrett. One of their number, John M. Armstrong, was a lawyer, having studied and practiced in Ohio before coming here. Silas Armstrong, his brother, was more than half white, well educated, intelligent and wealthy. William Walker, among strangers, would be taken for a full white man. He was educated, had been Postmaster in Ohio, and wrote interestingly for newspapers, and frequently delivered lectures of much interest. He was Provisional Governor, and a member of the Territorial Legislature after it was organized. Besides the Indian language, he spoke English and French. A perfect gentleman in bearing, he lived here until 1875, when he died at the home of a friend in Kansas City. Matthew Walker, his brother, lived on his farm in the northern part of Wyandotte City. His brick residence stood upon an eminence north of Jersey Creek, corresponding to Splitlog's Hill, south of Jersey Creek. He died in 1860. Joel Walker, another brother, died in the fall of 1857. George I. Clark lived in Quindaro Township, and died in 1857. Francis Hicks lived about a mile northwest of the mouth of the Kaw, and died in 1855. His father; John Hicks, lived one mile further west, and died in 1852. Half a mile west of John Hicks was Jacob Whitecrow, who lived there until he emigrated to the Indian Territory in 1871. A little southeast of Whitecrow lived Robert Robitaille, who went to the Indian Territory with the tribe. He was at one time County Treasurer. Noah E. Zane lived about seven miles west of the mouth of the Kaw, and was chiefly noted for the excellent fruit which he raised. He died in 1867. Charles B. Garrett lived just north of Jersey Creek, and half a mile west of the Missouri River. He died in 1868. Esquire Gray-Eyes, the unschooled but learned and eloquent exhorter of the Wyandots, lived between George I. Clark's and Francis Hicks. His son John was well educated, and often acted as interpreter, going to the Indian Territory with his tribe. Abelard Guthrie, the delegate to the Thirty-second Congress, was a white man, but married Quindaro Brown, was adopted into the tribe, and lived with her until 1868, when he went to Washington, where he died about the year 1873. Matthew Mudeater lived two miles west of the mouth of the Kaw, and had an excellent orchard. Of the Delaware Indians who still live in the county, may be mentioned Lewis Ketchum, about ten miles west of Wyandotte; Isaac Journeycakes, lived ten miles west of Wyandotte, till he moved to the Indian Territory with his tribe in 1867. He was employed by Gen. Fremont, with twelve others, to pilot the party of explorers over the Rocky Mountains. Being a very warm friend of the 'Pathflnder,'when the war began, he raised a company of thirty Delaware braves, and joined Gen. Fremont. But when his friend was removed, Journeycakes refused to follow his successor, disbanded his troops and went home. From that time, he took no part in the war. He was assassinated in the Indian Territory in 1875. Charles Journeycakes, his brother, lived at the edge of the timber, where the prairie begins, fifteen miles west of Wyandotte. His place was a stage station on the route between Wyandotte and Leavenworth in 1858."

Since the above was written, Mrs. Zelinda Armstrong. one of the mothers of the Wyandot nation, has passed away. She had been ill for a number of months, but her great vitality had sustained her to such a degree that her most intimate friends did not suspect her end to be so near. Much of her early life has already been given in the history of the Indian nation into which, by marriage, she was adopted, and many members of which she so justly admired. The funeral services of the beloved and beautiful woman were held at her house, February 14, 1883, and her remains now rest by the side of her husband in the Wyandot Indian Cemetery in Huron Place. The salient facts in her life history are thus presented in a home print:

Zelinda M. Hunter was born December 7, 1820, In Fairfield County, Ohio. Her father moved his family to the western part of Crawford County, now Wyandotte County, while she was very young. There she was deprived of the advantages for education, very much to her regret in after life. She was naturally very intelligent, and in her youth exceedingly bright and beautiful. October, 1842, she was married to Silas Armstrong in Little Sandusky, Ohio. They removed to Westport, Mo., in the spring of 1843, where they remained one year, when they came to this city, where she has lived ever since.

A protracted meeting was held In the Methodist Episcopal Church formerly west of the city, on the site of Mrs. Greenrod's present residence, February, 1848. She attended, was converted and joined the church. In October, 1848, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was organized, and she went with her husband into that organization, in which she remained until her death, with the exception of a few months during the late war, when she and her husband united with the Presbyterian Church. Her mother was a Presbyterian, and an excellent woman.

Her husband was prominent in the Wyandot nation, was elected Head Chief, and went to the great Indian Council at Fort Gibson September 1865, was prostrated with severe fever there, and, though he recovered so as to get home, never regained his usual health. Her husband was prominent in the Wyandot nation, was elected Head Cbief, and died December 14, 1865, leaving her a good property, which she has carefully preserved, though she always provided well for her family and aided some of her step-children, for by her marriage to Mr. Armstrong she took upon herself the care of his five motherless children. She became the mother of seven children, two of whom preceded her to the spirit land.

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