KanColl: The Kansas  
Historical Quarterlies

Letters of Hugh M. Moore, 1856-1860

by Hugh H. Moore

May, 1941 (Vol. 10, No. 2), pages 115 to 123.
Transcribed by lhn;
digitized with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.


     HUGH M. MOORE and his brother, J. Frank Moore, of Juniata county, Pennsylvania, settled in Topeka in 1857. The brothers formed a partnership with a Mr. Hill and engaged in the sale of real estate. The Topeka city directory, published in the Topeka Tribune, October 6, 1860, listed Hugh as a speculator. He was one of the promoters of the first bridge over the Kansas river at Topeka. Although a Free-State adherent in principle, Moore apparently could not give whole-hearted support to the Republican party. He seemed unable to reconcile himself to prevailing party trends and yearned far the resurrection of the Whig party, the only one "that ever breathed true national patriotism." For this reason his political views may be considered less biased than those of the averageparticipant in the Kansas struggle.

     In May, 1861, Moore enlisted in the Second Kansas Volunteer infantry and was mustered out in August 28, 1863, His name appeared again as having enlisted in the Fourteenth Kansas Volunteen cavalry, serving this time until June 25, 1865. After thewar Moore probably left Topeka, for no other mention of him was found. This Hugh Moore is not to be confused with a Hugh M. Lawrence Moore who was a resident of Leavenworth during the same years. The Leavenworth Moore was active in Democratic affairs and was a delegate to the Lecompton constitutional convention in 1857.

     The following letters, except one by the brother, were written by Hugh M. Moore, of Topeka. Because of their interest to Kansans. Glenn D. Bradley of the University of Toledo, sent them to the Kansas State Historical Society for copying. The originals are in the possession of Moore relatives in New Bloomfield, Pa.


Nebraska City October 2nd 56

     Dear uncle

     I have never written to you since I left home I have now A moment of Leisure time & I will im Prove it By writing to you as I deem you one of my most cincere friends & I think I am not mistaken. I think of you dayly but have neglected to write so I hope you will excuse for the Past I will Promice better for the future. Let this Suffice for A Pology well uncle to give you A short history of my western Life I must commence at the Beginning we came on



the cars to Iowa City then bought A Pair of Match gray 4 year old Horses for 250 A Light wagon for 40 dollars A pair of harness for 30 dollars making in all 320 dollars thus being ready to start we stole A dog & started in 4 days Reached Ft des moin City Stayed there 4 days saw Mr Lease & dr Gustine who gave me all the instruction they could we then started South west Canvassed all the Vacant Land & found none to suit us So we stoped at Indianola warren co. 18 miles south of Fort des moines I then started to trade my team of [f] for Property I traded for 160 Akers of Land and have since been offered 6 dollars per Aker which would be 960 dollars thats what I got for my team. I then bought 80 akers of Land for 2.87 cts Per aker which I have refuse[d] 8 dollars per Aker for I bought A house & Lot in Indianola for 425 dollars and held it 4 days & Sold it for 700 dollars. I bought some 20 lots in different towns which is bringing me from 50 to 100 per cent I bought & Sold Several Horses & have done well on them. I have now A Pair of match Sorrel Horses that I have Refused 500 dollars for But I will keep them for my own use they are hard to beat I tell you.

     I started for Kansas About 5 weeks ago with 4 as good men as my Self we Crossed the Missouri River at Council Bluffs & went through nebraska which is A beautiful Country but Rather Cold. it was with great difficulty we got through at the Kansas Line we met general Lane & his company of 400 men [1] we camped with him that night he thought it was A great Risk to go through Alone so he gave us Each A Sharps Rifle & sent General Cutler with us to Escort us through to Lawrence we ha [d] not gone more than 10 miles when we was accosted by 10 georgians who came within A mile of us & fired but with out doing any hurt we returned the fire Killed one horse & shot A man in the Hip the ballance of the Ruffians Retreated at the Speed of the antelope So we went on ourway Regoice after travelling some 15 miles we was again stoppedby A party of 23 Missourians who sent A man to talk to us he en vited us to give up our arms which we of Course Refused to do we Showed him all our arms & told him we would give them 10 minutes to disperse or we would shoot every damd one of them they got together & Left. So we had no more trouble. we landed at Lorrence [Lawrence] saw all the Ruins, [2] went to Franklin [3] Saw the Ruins there we then went to Leavenworth City & to Lecompton Saw


the Governor [Geary] had A chat with him he is A proslavery man we Likewise saw 15 hundred government troops all in uniform we then went to Topeka City which is but small but it is the best Location for A City I ever saw Topeka is on the South bank of the Kansas River here we found Governor Robinson the free state Governor in Constitutional Hall. 4 miles south of this city is Websters Peak [4] as beautiful a sight as I ever saw the bottom Covers some 4 Akers then running to a peak some 230 feet high on the shape of a sugar Loaf & what is more remarkable it is all covered with grass from 1 to 3 feet high & not A Stick of would About it. I bought an interest in topeka 2 weeks Ago for 300 dollars & refused 1,000 dollars this morning for it. if Kansas is A free state it will make me A fortune if not I wont Lose anything there is some 50 Lots in one share the Kansas Prarie is by far the best I ever saw the Prarie is gently Rolling with plenty of timber & A fine wattered Country there is Plenty of stone Principally Lime stone & grannet

I must now close. we are now on our way home to Iowa
Please write soon. give me all the news
Direct to Indianola, Warren Co. Iowa give my Love to all the friends
do write soon. yours in hast H. M. Moore

     I see dave Lukens often but have not saw him for over A month he is in Fort des moin George irvin is there too keeping hotell and doing well I occasionally see Miss Gustine who is at Fort des moines Nothing more of importance

     John & Bob why dont you write

[From J. Frank Moore to William Moore]
Topeka Kansas. May 22/57

Dear and most respected uncle

     I received your kind letter yesterday I was much pleased to know that you had not forgot that you had two nephews in the great West I was much pleased to hear that you were all well- -

     Hugh is not at home now He started to (Iowa) about three weeks ago. I have not heard from him since He is going to travel through part of Nebraska teritory before he returns he will probably be away til the 20th of June we are in the land Agency Business in company with Mr. Hill of Penna we are doin a very good


business charge five percent for selling matters are all quiet now in the teritory, but no telling how long they may remain so. the free state legislature meets here on the 9th of June and the Bogus governor says that he will have them Disbursed by bringing on his troops- now we want to see the lick he does it with we have got two 24 pounders besides three thousand Sharps rifles and we have got the boys that are ready to use them. so we think they had better not bother our legislature Speculation is raging in the free state towns while the pro-slavery towns are doing nothing in the way of improvement no person goes near them to buy property flower is selling here at $7.00 per hundred corn at $2.00 per bu potatoes $4.00 per bu. Pork from 18 to 20 cts per pound Oxen sell at $100 to 150 per yoke. horses from $150 to 300 a head. Indian Ponies 75 to 100 Boarding from five to seven per week the Spring has been Very backward and cold it is at least six weeks later than usual for this country My pen is so bad I will come to close and write in a few days again I will send you some newspapers in this male

Give my love to all
Aunt in Particular
Yours most affectionately
J. Frank Moore.

Wm. Moore

     there has been several of the Juniata Boys here this spring Latimer Wilson & Jim North of Patterson North has went home Wilson is in the teritory yet they bought property which has payed them well their property has ris fifty per cent since they bought Dave Myers is here now Sam Leonard was here but is gon to Iowa

     now one of the Shelenbargers was here he has gon to Nebraska excuse bad pen and hast.

A Mr. John Lytle after best respects

Topeka Kansas Ty
Sept 28th 1857

     Dear uncle A Long time has Elapsed Since I wrote to you or heard from you only by A Line that was dropped to me by Cousin Harriet while she was paying you A Visit

     Well uncle I am at A Loss to know what to write that would interest you. the Kansas Stories I presume you hear every day though I may profisy something


     Our election Comes of[f] the 5th of October Trouble is antisipated at that time by the most of the Free State men though I think we shall not be invaded any more the Free State men are all Regularly Organized in Military Companies throughout the Territory and there motto is Give me Free access to the ballot Box & its protection or Give me Death.

     this is the motto of the entire Free state Party and they mean it all. We have 4 military Companies in Topeka Numbering 60 men Each well drilled and well armed Standing Ready to move when Called on

     Business has been verry dull for the Last month the excitement had Kept out Emigration though we expect A heavy fall Emigration yet I just Returned from A trip to the South part of the territory was gone 2 weeks Found A Beautiful Country Layed out one Town & found another Location that we will attend too this Fall I had 9 shakes with the Ague while Away one Chill every day after I took the first untill I got home I feel pretty well now though very weak.

     Frank has been Pining Away all Summer untill he started home he reached home safely & is Rather Better I Learn I hope he will take Care of him self & get well so he can Return in the Spring I am Rather Lonesome without him I hope you are all Enjoying good health & all the Comforts of Life

     I must say that I am not Enjoying quite all the Comforts of Life for I have not had A Single meals Victuals for the Last month that was fit for Pa Dog to eat it seems hard but we have to grin & bear the Damd yankies dont know how to do any thing Right

     Well I suppose you will get tired Reading Before you get this far Give my Love to all who may upon it call that will be few I can assure you

     Write Soon & tell the Boys & girls to write often

Yours most Respectfully
H. M. Moore.



Topeka Kansas ty Dec 8th 1857

Dr uncle

     A Long time has Elapsed since I have had any Communication with you or your family though I occasionally heard from you By our folks at home the case of the decease of my Brother has been

     A great Bearing upon me and in fact all most more than I was able to stand we had been together all our Lives & Little did I think of his case being so desperate A one when he left topeka although he had been ill for some time before he Left I thought A change of Climate would be beneficial to him though it Proved not to be so.

     I am only Sorry now that I did not go home with him & stay with him untill he died But I did not get the word untill it was too Late to get home & see him A Live I intended to go home this winter But find now that it is all most impossible the journey is A Long one & it is an Expensive one But that would not stop me my time is worth money & more than money at this preasant time

     I am aspiring to something in the Course of time may Prove worth Considerable to me & that money wont buy.

     We are now Building A bridge Across the Kansas River the Contract is Let at 14,000 dollars & I have the Superintending & inspecting of all the work and material at A Salery of from 800 to 1,000 dollars [5] I devote about one hour of my time every day to the work the Bridge will be Completed the 1st of May next

     in Regard to the politics of Kansas the Free state men are carrying the day the Legislature meets tomorrow I think the great question that has so long agitated the Public mind is now settled & Kansas will come in A free state

     the Fall has been verry Pleasant the thermomiter stands at 60 and at no time has the ground been frozen over one inch the cattle are still Living on the Praries & are in fine case you will Excuse Bad writing &c

     Write soon for I am verry Lonesome tell the Boys to write give my Love to all

Yours most Respectfully
H. M. Moore

Write soon uncle


Topeka K. T. January 9th 60
Wm Moore Esq
Newbloomfield Perry Co. Pa.

Dear Uncle

     Your very kind letter of Dec 28th came to hand this morning I was truly glad to hear from you but Sorry to hear of your tenacious views in Regard to politics. There must be a new era in the political world in Pa

     1st you ask whether I have gone over to the Democracy I answer, no. I stand firm on the Stern principals Laid down by our forefathers Clay, Webster, & Adams &c

     the Republican party of the present day in my opinion is Equally as corrupt as the Democratic party So I take but Little Stock in either party but Look forward to the time when the old national Whig party shall be Reserected the only party that ever Breathed true national patriotism

     2nd you Refer to the Harper's Ferry insurection & May I understand by your Language that you approve of John Browns course in the invasion of Virginia. I hope not. I trust not While I am personally acquainted, with old John Brown & Caji [Kagi], Stevens, Coppy [Coppoc], & Cook. Knowing there Course in Kansas I of course am better able to judge of there motives than one who knew nothing of them Brown was a peculiar man & a blood thirsty villin he was the Cause of a great deal of Blood shead in Kansas he was a murderer & hanging was too good for him in my opinion He Mr Brown Boasted in Kansas that he had a deadly Enmity against all proslavery men & that he him self had killed 13 men in cool blood. was he the Leader of the Republican party or is that the class of men we Sons of Penna shall be led by

     I answer for one, no, it is truly disgusting to me & as for the administration party I take no part at all in it, there must be a 3rd party organised for the union Loveing conservatives, for the honest part of the community who can Calmly look at both sides of the question dispassionately & who are not so likely to A Rive at hasty conclusions and has the good of our common Country at hart--the North is allways harping about Slavery and adjutating the South, interfering with there Rights, and they in Return are Crying dissolution of the union & thus we are kept in a perfect uproar all the time


     You in the states do not feel it as we do in Kansas our people have got tired of the question of Slavery That question has been happily settled in our Territory & to the satisfaction of the majority Enough on that subject for the present Our Legislature convened the 2nd at Lecompton but as yet have done but Little the House stands Rep 26 to Dem 13 Council or Senate 9 to 5 Dem A motion before the house to adjourn to Lawrence to hold the session was entertained & past both houses sent to the governor & was Vetoed taken up again & past by a 2/3 majority so the Republicans went to Lawrence and the Democrats Remained at Lecompton there will be no good done in our Legislature this winter.

     Our great hope now is to get in to the union this winter if we are not admitted this winter it will be a death blow to us Every effort is being made for a state organising with the Expectation of being admitted The President in his message never speaks of Kansas at all but treats us with silent Contempt My own opinion is that Congress will not admit us this winter & if that be the case we shall have to dance to the tune of old hundred for another year.

     There is nothing to pay on your Topeka Tribune I had to take a certain number of copies to keep the paper up so I had one copy sent to you it was not intended as an insult at all but the most kindly feeling but for fear of future difficulty I will have it discontinued that all of importance Write often & give me the news I am most happy to hear from you at all times & will answer punctually

Give my Love to all
H. M. Moore


     the general health of the neighborhood has been verry good for the Last year.

     I took a trip this last fall to the indian ty & Texas was away some 6 weeks had a verry pleasant time, past through the buffalo country saw millions of Buffalo and killed a great many Texas is a fine Country if I ever Leave this place I shall go to Texas or California but the probability is that I shall Live & die here

     I expected to have been home before now, but on account of the hardness of the times I may not go East this winter you speak of not Receiving any letter from me this summer at all I wrote to you the same time I wrote to Wm Mcmeen but presume you did not get it I should be glad to Corrispond with you all the time, there is no harm in Exchanging views I presume you will be put too to Read this Letter for I have written it in ahurry You will Excuse it you will please give my Love to all the friends

H. M. Moore

P. S.

     I am Single yet but dont know- how soon I may adopt Southern blood in my family [6]


1. Lane's "Army of the North" reached the northern border of Kansas territory early in August. It opened what was known as the Iowa route.-Andreas, A. T., History of the State of Kansas (Chicago, 1883), p. 141.
2. The first sacking of Lawrence occurred May 21, 1856.
3. Free-State men attacked Franklin August 12, 1856.
4. Now called Burnett's mound.-See Topeka Daily Capital, August 14, 1927. 5. The Topeka Bridge Company was organized September 3, 1857, with the following officers: President--John Ritchie; Secretary--F. W. Giles; Directors--K. Holliday, H. M. Moore, F. L. Crane, S. E. Martin, J. F. Hill, W. W. Ross, H. B Burgess, and S. T. Walkley, -Kansas Tribune Topeka, September 5, 1857. On March 13, 1858, the Tribune noted: "Our bridge is progressing steadily. The middle pier, on which the turn table is to be placed, is nearly completed, and as the frame work is all ready to be put together a very few days will make a great difference in the appearance of the work."
The bridge was opened for travel May 1, 1858, but a flood swept it away the
following July .-Root, George A., Ferries in Kansas," The Kansas Historical Quarterly, v. II, p. 369.
6. On May 5, 1860, the Topeka Tribune reported that Mr. Moore had commenced the erection of a first-class dwelling on Monroe street.
     The work was again mentioned by the Tribune July 14: "we have been anxiously looking for that immense quantity of stone and brick which has so long been accumulating at a point below Monroe, on sixth street, to come to some kind of a head. It belongs to Hugh Moore, Esq., and according to rumor is soon to be transformed into a large and costly residence. Here's to the health of its mistress."

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