Kansas: Its Interior and Exterior Life by Sara Robinson



ON the 14th of May, about two o'clock in the morning, as Mr. Jenkins and G. W. Brown were returning to their homes in Lawrence, they were arrested by armed men, between Kansas city and Westport, and taken to the house of Milton McGee, a most bitter pro-slavery man. The same forenoon they were taken to the Harris house, in Westport, and placed under strong guard in rooms in the third story. Mrs. Jenkins, having received word from her husband, left Lawrence on Friday, p.m., the 16th, in a driving rain, and reached Westport, Saturday, p.m., about four or five o'clock. Mr. Jenkins' brother accompanied her. She found her husband quite ill from fatigue and excitement, his strength having been impaired before leaving home by the watching and anxiety attending the severe illness of one of his children, as well as by the ill-treatment he had since received. Mrs. Jenkins laid aside bonnet and shawl. Crowder, a man who pretended to be one of the deputy marshals, had just been in the room to say that the papers they were expecting from Kansas city, in reference to Mr. Jenkins' release, had not come, and they would stay at Westport another night. Scarcely had he gone out, when Mr. Jenkins, seeing his horse in the street, a valuable one, which they had taken from him the night he was taken prisoner, went down with his guard to see if he could not have it restored to him. Mrs. Jenkins seated herself in one of the deep window-seats, and looked out upon the motley group in the street. A hack drove around to the door, and the loud, harshly-spoken words, "Come along," attracted her attention. The moment she looked her husband was literally pushed into the carriage by several men. Sick as he was, no time was given to get his overcoat, for which he asked. Almost flying down the two stairways, Mrs. Jenkins arrived at the door only in time to see the carriage driving away. She ran to Mrs. Brown's room, who had arrived in Westport one day before her, and Mr. Brown too was gone. He had been called down stairs on some trivial pretence, and was also forced into the hack. Mrs. Jenkins inquired of Mr. Harris and others where they were going, and why they were taken away in such a hurried manner. To all of which questions they gave indefinite answers, or plead ignorance. Before this, however, another hack had driven to the door, with fine, large horses, and the gentleman promised Mrs. Brown he would take her to her husband. He said, "he would drive on until he overtook the other hack." Upon Mrs. Jenkins asking, "if he would take her too," he replied in the affirmative; when a loud dispute arose among the besotted crowd, and threats of "We will shoot you, if you attempt to carry these ladies, and we'll shoot you, if you get into that carriage," resounded on every side, with brutal imprecations mingled. The man, however, took his seat in the carriage, and asked Mrs. Brown to get in also; but, as he said at this time he would only take her, she declined going.

Mrs. Jenkins then found her brother. He harnessed the horses quickly, which had scarcely been put in the stable, and they started in pursuit of the party. By asking of persons whom they met, "if they had seen a hack," they found they were on the track, and, about two miles from Westport, they overtook the carriage, stopped by the way, and its escort of twenty men preparing supper. As they drove up by the side of the carriage, and the astonished posse saw who they were, loud and bitter were the curses. They were told they should not stay with their husbands; but Mrs. Jenkins, excited by fears for her husband's safety, by the strange movements of the mob, as well as by his haggard looks, induced by constant illness for the last few days, as soon as her carriage ceased moving, was in the other with her husband. She did not wait for the convenience of open doors, but made her entrance through the window. Mrs. Brown also soon entered it, while the posse continually declared the ladies "should not remain in the hack." They said "if the ladies would return to Westport, where they could have comfortable quarters for the night, they could reach them in the morning before they should leave." Or, if they would go on to "Donaldson's (a stopping-place for travellers), they would call for them in the morning."

But the reply of the ladies was the same: "We will remain by our husbands, and share their accommodations." The distress of the ladies, occasioned by the strange conduct of the men, at last softened somewhat their hearts. They brought them supper, and said "they would use their influence with Capt. Pate, when he should come from Westport, that they should not be separated from their husbands." The hack-driver declared, with feeling, "they should have the carriage to themselves."

The difficulty which had been suggested by the men, of there being a want of room for all the posse, should the ladies remain in the hack, was at once remedied by Mr. J.'s offer of their carriage and his brother to drive it. The matter was at last adjusted, and the cortege, forgetful of their declaration, made again and again, that this was to be their camping-ground for the night, moved on. Horsemen in front, at the sides, and in the rear, guarded the prisoners in the hack. Instead of passing Donaldson's, where they had desired the ladies to sleep, promising to call for them in the morning, they took the Santa Fe road. Not long after they started, two horsemen, who always rode some distance in front of the rest, as a kind of scout, turned suddenly, and upon full gallop returned to the party. They reported a large body of men advancing towards them, and they apprehended an attack. "Halt!" was the word of command, given by the gallant Capt. Pate; "form into line!" followed with other orders in quick succession. For the advantage of all other brave men in similar circumstances, let the facts be stated. The men were drawn up in readiness for battle behind the carriage in which were seated the prisoners. Thus, breastworks were formed against the approaching enemy. The courageous band waited. They lingered. No foe came. The two horsemen again went out a short distance. They wheeled and galloped in furiously. They reported no enemy in sight. Some fence stakes, in the distance, had probably looked to their excited imaginations like so many legions. They reached an Indian house about two o'clock, a.m., and, with oaths and curses which made the listener shudder, the posse attempted to sleep on the wet ground, while the occupants of the hack got some rest, although anxieties and suspense made sleep broken, and of little worth. Breakfast of fat bacon and corn bread could hardly be eaten. There was no way to wash their faces but in a brook near by, using handkerchiefs for towels. In the afternoon of that day they stopped a little time at a trading post on the Santa Fe road, and a pleasant house. Mrs. J. procured some medicine for her husband, and he felt somewhat recruited after an half hour's sleep on the lounge. They reached Blue Jacket's, at the crossing on the Wakarusa, towards night on Sunday the 18th, having been part of the night and nearly all the day reaching a point which might have easily been gained on the usually travelled road in five hours. They had supper there. From this place word was sent to the camp at Franklin of the arrival of the posse at Blue Jacket's, and thirty men came down to meet them. The heavy rain of the Friday preceding had completely flooded tho low grounds of the Wakarusa, and it is impossible to describe the ludicrous appearance of the newly-arrived escort, as they ploughed their way along, first knee-deep in water, then as deeply sinking in the heavy, deceitful mud. The party arrived at Franklin, and, as they halted before the log cabin, christened hotel, the gathered crowd, which the camp near by had emptied forth, was large and full of curiosity. Repeatedly the prisoners, still seated in the hack, heard their curiosity syllabled forth in "Which is Jenkins?" and "Is that Brown?" Their prying looks exceeded far the bounds of etiquette. The proposal was again made and urged that the ladies should sleep in the house; but their decisive reply, "Accommodations which are good enough for our husbands are good enough for us," settled the matter, and the hack, with its curtains lowered, again answered for a sleeping apartment.

The prisoners with their wives went to the house when breakfast was ready, with a strong guard of "guns" on all sides of them, themselves being the centre of a hollow square. A disturbance arose here among the guard, as to who should sit at the first table. The landlady's ire was a little aroused, but the difficulty was settled without an appeal to arms.

Monday morning, the 19th, the cavalcade, with a large additional guard, making in all about one hundred men, started for the main camp, some twelve miles distant. This group of men was made up of all kinds. There were a few young men of education, accustomed to the refinements of life, and others brutal and ignorant. Their dirty dress gave to them an elfish look, and many lookers on declared they had not supposed God's beautiful earth contained such desperate, brutal-looking men. They were obliged to pass along the prairie only a mile south of Lawrence, and, as they approached the long, steep hill on the California road, a quarter of a mile beyond Mt. Oread, they sent scouts all over the hills. They commenced whipping their horses at the base, and, as one of the prisoners expressed it, "they went kiting up the hill, and for nearly a mile after the summit had been gained."

Many of this posse had never been in the territory before, and, as they looked at Lawrence and its surroundings, of river flowing beneath the dim forests, the beautiful uplands and emerald slopes, and the distant highlands surging against the azure sky, like the deep blue ocean-wave, they broke forth in exclamations of rapture and delight. But Lawrence, with her large stone buildings, and little homes, made rich in experience of the past and hope for the future, was doomed -- yes, doomed to destruction! for the strong arm of the government so willed it, and the wail of its desolation has gone up to Heaven against its officials, who, by their base proclamations, had brought this infamous horde upon us.

About two miles from Lawrence, a Mr. W., passing near his home, hunting for his cattle, was made to dismount by the posse and give up his horse to them. They reached Judge Wakefield's at two o'clock, p.m., and Capt. Donaldson, who seemed to have the command at this time, went into the house, then returned to the hack with a lady who was stopping there. She invited the ladies to remain with them over night; but, firm in their determination to stay by their husbands until forced from them, they declined the invitation, and went with the posse to the camp, one and a half miles distant. As the cavalcade approached the tents, hundreds of men, unwashed and unshorn, cursing and reeling in their inebriation, came around the carriage. Dr. Stringfellow was the officer of the day of this "law-and-order" crowd. He ordered the prisoners to alight, and immediately closed the doors upon their wives. Their tears fell like rain, and, distinctly above the cursing, that "all should be served alike," "men and women should be strung up together," were heard their sobs, which came from hearts near bursting. The suspense, the untold weight of bitterness crowded into these moments of separation from their husbands, having fearful reason to suppose it was the last earthly parting, cannot be measured in words. But Stringfellow was inexorable. He said "the northern press would say he had taken women prisoners, and it should not be said." When the hearts of some of the invaders had softened at their distress, and they promised to do all they could for the protection of the prisoners, Dr. Stringfellow said, "Mark my words; if any resistance is offered at Lawrence, or any attempt made to rescue the prisoners, the orders are to shoot them first of all."

Mrs. J. asked him, "could she be safe in driving a team to Lawrence and back again, to bring some bedding and clean clothes for Mr. J.?" Stringfellow said yes, but she soon learned that the span of large bay horses and the carriage she had already there, were "pressed" into the service, and could not be taken from camp. Mr. J. 's brother had been driven away at the point of the bayonet. She, with Mrs. B., then returned to Judge Wakefield's in the Westport hack, whose driver offered them seats. Taking his horses from the plough, Judge W. sent a son to carry the ladies to Lawrence. They returned as quickly as possible, and, before sundown, through the wet grass, with clean clothing on their arms, they went to the camp. The carriage-bed was carried into the tent to keep them from the wet ground, and, with some comfortables, a bed was made. The ladies then returned to Judge W.'s. About two o'clock a.m., Mr. Jenkins also arrived there, having been released. His horses had broken from the camp, and, during the night, Judge W.'s horses had been stolen. Mr. J. went to Lawrence on foot, and returned with another pair of horses for his wife. He recovered, on his second trip down, the bay horses. The fine horse first stolen he has never been able to recover, notwithstanding an order given him by those in authority, at the time it was taken.

This was Tuesday, the 20th. Mrs. Brown went over to the camp early; and her husband was already on horseback, surrounded by a guard of mounted men, to be taken to Lecompton.

On the afternoon of the 21st, after Judge Smith and G. W. Dietzler had been taken to the "head-quarters," the house on Mount Oread, Mr. Jenkins was again taken prisoner. He was taken from his bed, being wholly exhausted with his illness and fatigue, and with the rest carried to Lecompton. On the morning of the 22d of May they appeared before Judge Lecompte to answer to the charge of treason. The cases were continued until the second Monday in September. A request to be discharged on bail was made and denied. The crime was alleged to have been committed on the 1st, 17th, and 21st of May. G. W. Brown and Mr. Jenkins proved that nearly the whole time they were in the hands of the mob, who held them without warrant or law, and a part of the time in Missouri. G. W. Brown had been for weeks absent from the territory, and was returning to his home when arrested. Judge G. W. Smith had been only four days in the territory since the last of January. He had always recommended resistance to the laws through the legal tribunals. G. W. Dietzler also showed his position to be similar. Should bail have been allowed, the design for which they were taken prisoners would have been frustrated, viz., that of leaving the people without some of their leading and active men, that more easily the whole free-state movement might be crushed.

Mrs J. and B. went to Lecompton on the 22d. They, with the four prisoners, had one small room in a frame house, the guard occupying the other room. Mrs. J. and Mrs. B. were allowed to take their meals at the public house, while those of the prisoners were sent to them. Thus, in a little room, in the intense heat, six persons were obliged to stay, night and day. The threats of mobbing them were also so great that Marshal Donaldson slept one night in the house, and another sat up on the outside. Mrs. J. went to Lawrence on the 23d, returning the next day with some articles to add to the comfort of the prisoners, such as bedding, luncheon, water-pails, wash-basins, soap, towels, etc. The few days they had been in Lecompton, notwithstanding their frequent request of the marshal, they had only a two-quart pail for water and, in making their toilet, they had had to pour water into their hands, and use handkerchiefs for towels. Mrs. J. says, "You never saw a more pleased set of fellows than they were when they saw the pails, soap, and towels." On the 26th the marshal proposed to Mrs. J. and Mrs. B. to board the prisoners, as the house they were in must be given up. They concluded to do it thinking to make them more comfortable; and the next day towards night, Mrs. J. returned from Lawrence with her span of white mules, which have been in her service ever since, going to Lawrence for provisions once or twice a week. She brought everything needed to commence housekeeping in a tent. The tent was already up; the stove soon was set; and, by all lending a helping hand, the supper was soon prepared. To shade the table, poles were set, and quilts and blankets thrown over them. To sit down once more at a table, and eat of food cooked in a home-like way, brought a ray of sunshine to the prisoners' hearts.

The military officer in command was of strong southern proclivities, and, one would judge from his words and manner, of unpleasant nature. The prisoners were not allowed to see their friends. When Mrs. B. returned, after an absence of a few days, he made loud complaints, saying "he wished they would either stay out or stay in."

Mrs. J. suggested the marshal's request, and that "if they boarded them, they must have provisions."

He replied, in a surly, insulting way, "We can find some one to get provisions, and you can stay away altogether."

A lady from Lawrence carried up the mail. While she was allowed to see the prisoners only at a distance, the officer carefully took from the papers the New York Tribune, allowing the rest to go in. Upon whose soul rests the sin of these indignities offered to peaceable, honorable men, and of the sufferings caused to innocent women?


My husband and myself left Lawrence, on his way to Washington, in the public hack for Kansas city. We reached that point about six o'clock. The Star of the West, Capt. Dix commanding, soon after came down the river; and the doctor immediately went on to the boat, entered his name on the clerk's book, and procured a state-room. We remained at the hotel over night and took passage on the boat the next morning about six and a half o'clock. There were very few passengers; everything was quiet; and we were making a quick trip. In the afternoon we procured some books, and went into our state-room. From reading we soon fell asleep. At Lexington I was awakened by a noise as of many coming on to the boat. It having subsided somewhat, I was drowsing again, when the captain came to our state-room door, opening upon the guard, with a red-faced, excitable-looking person, of short stature, whom he introduced to my husband as Gen. Shields. Whether this title of General was acquired by Mr. Shields' visit to the territory at the time of the "Shannon War," last December, or whether it arose from the necessity which western men seem to feel, that of bearing some title, I have been quite unable to learn. That he was prominent in inciting that invasion, as well as others in the territory, is true. Another person, of larger figure, and more quiet, dignified air, came soon, and was introduced as Mr. Bernard, of Westport. After stating "they had come upon an unpleasant errand," they proceeded to state its purport -- that of detaining my husband in Lexington, as he was fleeing from an indictment. He assured them such was not the case; that he had at all times been in Lawrence, or at places where he could have been arrested, had the authorities desired his arrest; but they had made no effort to serve any process upon him, and, so far as he knew, there was no indictment out against him.

The two gentlemen were reinforced, as the moments passed, by eight or ten of the "first citizens in Lexington." "They had heard there was disturbance at the wharf, and had come down to see the cause of it." Gen. Shields stated that "they had been talking to the mob fifteen minutes, endeavoring to persuade them to leave the boat; but none would be satisfied unless the governor was retained in Lexington," while others said, "Drag him out." His own manner was sufficient to show that, had the mob acted upon the advice as reported, there would have been at least one of "the first citizens" wofully disappointed. He said, moreover, "Had it not been reported that your lady was on board, violence would at once have been offered; and no restraint could have been held over the crowd." The Yankee spirit of the lady rose at this, and a mental review was made upon such chivalry, such gallantry, of men who hesitate not to steal and invade the rights of others on the public thoroughfares. Such gallantry is the index, in all nations where it prevails, of the real want of morality and principle -- a false glitter, where the whole under-current of the body politic is corrupt. The various propositions of sending a committee to St. Louis, that my husband might there transact as much of his business, which was urgent, as he could, and then return, if they should find, by their proposed express to Gov. Shannon, there was an indictment, did not meet with favor from this gallant band. His request to talk to the crowd, whom Gen. Shields declared to be in numbers "a cabin full," and "infuriated by the liquors on the boat, of which they were drinking freely," was also refused, with a look of utter disdain. My husband told them "he would never think to escape from an indictment for a political offense, and, had he been doing so, of all places he would have avoided the Missouri river and Lexington." By way of suggestion he added, "that even in such a case he saw no reason for another state to interfere," at which the excitable elements in Gen. Shields' character became yet more aroused, and he said, "he did not wish to get into an argument, but," he continued, "I warn you, not as a friend, for I am not your friend," -- (to which my husband laughingly said, "I do not wish any one to claim to be my friend who is not,") -- "but I warn you that this delay in consenting to leave the boat is only making the matter worse."

They said the carriage was ready to take us to the town; that in two or three days, or perhaps by the next boat, they would learn if there was an indictment, and, as soon as the messenger to Gov. Shannon should return, if they did not learn sooner there was none, they would leave him to pursue his journey. My husband, desiring to do that which was right in the matter, although his feelings prompted him to a forcible maintenance of his rights, let the consequences be what they might, asked me "what he should do." My counsels were to decline going with them. This was an unexpected phase of the matter; but the clerk of the boat stepped into our state-room at this juncture of affairs, and advised me, for the sake of my husband's safety, to consent to his going with them. The gentlemen gathered about the door pledged themselves to protect him from all violence. The exact value of such pledges I was unable to estimate, not knowing why men who would invade all the rights of American citizens on the public thoroughfares, would not as easily, without compunction of conscience, break their plighted word, if policy whispered a different course. My only hope at that moment was in this matter of policy, and I at last consented to go off the boat at Lexington.

Having accepted the hospitalities of Mr. Sawyer, by far the most gentlemanly man present, and whose face betokened kindliness of heart, we made preparations to leave the boat, which Gen. S. observed must be done without the knowledge of the "cabin full" of "drunken men." We passed out on the guard of the boat. The ruffianly horde were standing all around the gangways, and on the levee. One captain, so drunk he could not talk plain, was ordering his men. Another boat soon came, and the crowd rushed on it to search for Gov. Reeder, who was still in Lawrence. At night four men stood guard near Mr. Sawyer's. The next morning, having decided to continue my own journey, Mr. S. kindly took me to the boat. The following day my husband went with Mr. S. to his office, and was there introduced to several of the principal citizens, with whom he had familiar conversation. During the day, two men, known for their boasting and cowardice, came into Lexington from the country, and tried to excite tho people to some violence against him. At last, some one, who knew them well, proposed to let them meet him, equally well armed as themselves. This proposal at once produced quiet. The week passed away without any word being brought back from Gov. Shannon. Whether it required all this time to make out the necessary papers, after finding the indictment, we have no means of knowing. It was rumored that Gov. Shannon had sent a requisition upon the Governor of Missouri for the return of my husband to the territory. A few evenings after his detention at Lexington, a Dr. McDonald, of California, who tended upon him when he was shot in Sacramento, and who was temporarily in Lexington, called to see him. The people imagined he was some person from Lawrence, and that a rescue was in contemplation. In a very short time several hundred men had gathered around Mr. Sawyer's house. Mr. S. disliked such a state of things, and my husband preferred to go the hotel; so, with a large guard, he went down to the hotel between eight and nine o'clock in the evening. The steps were full of men, and he passed in through them. After sitting a while in the parlor, conversing with the landlady and other ladies, he was attended to his room by a guard of three men. After a day or two, he took his meals in the public dining-hall. Many of the citizens called to see him, and were acquainted with all the plans of the new invasion. They said, "There would be a fight."

He told them "he did not think so; there would be no occasion for a fight. No one intended to resist the arrests of the United States Marshal."

They said, 'it would make no difference whether they resisted the marshal or not, -- they were determined to have a fight. They would attack and destroy Lawrence, then the other towns generally, and drive the free-state men from the territory." A few of them said, "they did not care for Kansas particularly, or the laws, but were determined to get up a fight; then the North would be aroused, a general war ensue, and the dissolution of the Union would be the result." Others said, "it was to be a war of extermination; if the free-state men could sustain themselves against the pro-slavery men, they would acquiesce and give it up."

Col. Preston returned from his interview with Gov. Price on Sunday, the 18th. He had orders from the governor, to the sheriff of that county, to deliver my husband into Col. Preston's hands. A boat being at the wharf, it was decided to go on board; but just as he was retiring for the night to his state-room, Col. Preston altered his mind, and they returned to town. Col. Preston and Wm. Donaldson, with the prisoner in the carriage, left Lexington on the 19th, and reached Independence the same night. The next day they went to Westport, and remained there until the 22d, they declaring, without any hesitancy, that "Lawrence would be attacked, and they wanted him to remain in Westport until after it was done." On the night of the 22d, having had the additional guard of Capt. Long's party of Wyandot Indians, they arrived at Franklin. They told him repeatedly that in case his friends attempted to rescue him, they should kill him the first thing. About midnight, all having retired for the night, at Franklin, word came from Gov. Shannon, to Col. Preston, to return to Leavenworth by way of Kansas city, as there was danger of a rescue; that "he should hold him responsible for Gov. Robinson's safety, and if any harm befell him it would bring on civil war." (At Leavenworth he was informed that Gov. Shannon feared a rescue from his own men.)

So, the long way to Westport and Kansas city, through the swollen creeks and deep ravines, and in the darkness of the night, was to be retraced. They reached Kansas city the next evening, having taken a longer route to avoid the Westport and Kansas city road. Whether this was done through fear of attacks from the bands of South Carolina foot-pads infesting the usually travelled way, was not stated. After a little rest, a boat-whistle sounded on the night air. The officers, with their prisoner, were again astir, and the morning of the 24th found them at Leavenworth. The prisoner was delivered into the hands of the deputy sheriff of Leavenworth, who appointed Capt. Martin, of the Kickapoo Rangers, and three others, his guard. On the 28th, when the general reign of terror commenced at Leavenworth, those who had constituted themselves a committee of vigilance were determined to drive from the country every free-state man, and they made many threats of taking my husband from the hands of his keepers, and hanging him. Capt. Martin, learning of this intention, and determined no ill should come to him while in his charge, sent for more of his men. The marshal and Judge Lecompte came into Lawrence in the afternoon, and the threats of the mob became less loud. But the most bitter feeling was prevalent among the pro-slavery men.

Mr. S., of the investigating committee, called upon Gov. R. soon after his arrival in Lawrence, and, while talking with him, a pro-slavery man present interrupted him with, "You had better not talk so much."

Mr. S. looked at him in astonishment, and the man continued " G--d d--n you, I'd as soon put a bullet through your abolition head as not!" The fierceness of the man's character was prevented from further development by the interposition of the marshal. Judge Lecompte also made a formal call upon the prisoner, when he took the opportunity to ask of him the nature of his indictment, and if there was more than one against him.

The "Little Territorial Court," the red-faced, chubby man, making an effort towards dignity, replied, "There are two; one for usurping office, and one for high treason."

"Does the bill for usurping office include all my connection with the free-state movement, or is the indictment for treason founded upon this also?"

Judge Lecompte replied, substantially, "The indictment for usurping office relates to the state movement, and the office you have assumed under it. You are indicted for treason because you have organized and counselled forces to set against authorities recognized and appointed under the Kansas-Nebraska bill. You have assisted in arming men, thus resisting the movements of a legal body, and thus waging war against the United States."

"Does that relate to the occurrences in Lawrence in last November and December?"

"Well, such things, of course, cannot be plainly stated; but that is its chief basis, I suppose."

Let it be sounded in the ears of the American people, that high treason against the United States consists in arming one's self and friends, in defence of homes and property, in face of a mob, who threaten innocent men with death, and timid women with a fate in comparison with which death were infinitely preferable.

On the first of June, my husband, under the charge of his guard, arrived at Lecompton, and was placed in a tent with the other prisoners; thus making seven persons crowded into one tent.

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