KanColl: The Kansas  Historical Quarterlies

Records of the
Squatter Association of Whitehead District,
Doniphan County

edited by Martha Caldwell

February, 1944(Vol. 13 No. 1), pages 16 to 35.
Transcribed by lhn;
digitized with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.


     KANSAS was a part of the region west of theMississippi river which in 1830 wasset aside by the government for the Indians and solemnly guaranteed to themforever. [1] All white persons except Indian agents, missionaries and licensedtraders were prohibited. Within a few years approximately the eastern one-thirdof the present state was specifically set aside and occupied by Indian tribes,But before the Indians were little more than well established upon their newreservations, and notwithstanding the sacred promise that the country shouldforever belong to them, politicians at Washington, incited by a demand for moreslave territory, started a movement to displace them. After two years ofagitation and debate the Kansas and Nebraska bill was passed by congress and onMay 30, 1854, was signed by Pres. Franklin Pierce. This act provided for theorganization of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska under the doctrine ofpopular sovereignty.

     In anticipation of the passage of the acttreaties with various Indian tribeswere hurried through, extinguishing their titles to the land. During the month ofMay previous to the passage of the bill Com. George W. Manypenny negotiatedtreaties with the Otoes, Delawares, Shawnees, Iowas, Sacs, Foxes, Kickapoos andthe confederated tribes of Kaskaskias, Peorias, Piankeshaws and Weas. On June 5,a treaty was made with the Miami tribe. By these treaties the Indiansrelinquished the greater part of their reservations. The lands ceded by theIowas, the confederated tribes, and the Delawares, with the exception of their"outlet," were to be sold at public auction for the benefit of the tribes, andwere not subject to the pre-emption law. [2]

     It had been the policy of congress to forbidwhite settlement upon public landuntil the Indian title had been extinguished and the land surveyed. As early as1785 an ordinance to that effect was passed. [3]



     In 1807 congress enacted a law prohibiting anyperson from taking possession of,settling in, marking off or surveying any such lands until authorized bycongress. The president was authorized to take measures even to employing "suchmilitary force as he may judge necessary" to remove the intruders. [4] Theprovisions of this act were extended as far as applicable to the lands ceded bythe Miami, Delaware, Iowa and Wea Indians in the treaties of 1854. The treaty ofthe same year with the Shawnees provided that no white person should be permittedto make a location or settle upon their reservation until the lands had beensurveyed and the Indians had made their selections. [5] If the above agreementshad been adhered to they would have precluded any white settlement until thetreaty stipulations had been complied with.

     The pre-emption law of 1841 made squatting uponsurveyed land legal, and gave thesettler a right to pre-empt his claim before the public sale. [6] The benefits ofthis law were extended to the territories of Kansas and Nebraska by an act ofJuly 22, 1854, with modification to permit settlement upon unsurveyed lands. [7]However, the phraseology of the law was confusing and it was interpreteddifferently by different officials. [8]

     The government had been rather unsuccessful in enforcing its laws to keepsettlers off the public domain and perhaps less successful in the opening ofKansas than at any other time previously. The settlement of the territory wasstimulated not only by the ordinary westward movement but also by political andsectional rivalry. The incorporation of the squatter sovereignty doctrine intothe act organizing the territory resulted in outside intervention and both theNorthern and Southern states urged their citizens to migrate to Kansas. Theorganization of societies to promote this emigration greatly intensified thefeeling between the two regions.

     The first rush of settlers, nevertheless, wassaid to resemble that


which had taken place in the opening of other territories. The emigrants wereinterested in land rather than in the "political complexion or social regime tobe established." [9]

     Emigrants began to arrive on the Kansas borderin March, 1854, [10] and on April 21, a squatter meeting was held at HenryThompson's [11] across the Missouri river from St. Joseph, Mo., by men who hadalready staked out their claims. This association met several times before theopening of the territory. At its meeting on May 5, D. M. Johnston, a lawyer ofSt. Joseph, Mo., was chosen register of claims. [12] Claim jumping, therefore,had also commenced at this early date. [13]

     By May 27 thousands were waiting to cross over. When the news reached the border that the president had signed the bill openingthe territory the emigrants swarmed across. Within ten days two thousand claimshad been made in the region around Fort Leavenworth. [14] A newspapercorrespondent wrote on June 13: "The excitement in border life is unparal[l]eled.The rush to California was nothing like it." He was confident that there were notless than thirty thousand emigrants scattered along the line. [15]

     In present Doniphan county all the land from tento twenty miles back, with but few exceptions, had been taken by June 26.16 AndC. C. Andrews wrote on June 27: "The immigration of settlers does not diminish. .. . I feel convinced . . . that the territory will be populated with a rapidityunparalleled in the rise of states." [17] The scene within the territory in Junewas described by the editor of the Parkville (Mo.) Luminary:

     Now is the time for Missourians to make claims. The country is swarming withemigrants. Men on horseback, with cup and skillet, and ham, flour, and coffee,tied on behind, and, with axe shouldered, are facing westward; while gentlemenand ladies are driving furiously to and fro in carriages, printers writing,lawyers speaking, doctors gallanting ladies, and selecting sites for residences,companies with flags waving, staking out the vast prairies, treesfalling,


tents stretching, cabins going up, everything alive, and everybody wide awake.Hurrah for Kansas ! "Westward the Star of Empire takes its way!" [18]

     The majority of these emigrants came fromMissouri, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana,Missouri sending the greatest number. Many home seekers who had had to competewith slave labor in the latter state were in favor of making Kansas a free state.[19] There were speculators who marked their claims and returned across theborder intending to watch and hold their new possessions. Legally all weretrespassers, for the land was unsurveyed and the time of Indian occupancy underthe treaties had not yet expired. The squatters, therefore, could expect noprotection from the general government in their imaginary rights. Furthermore,from the signing of the Kansas and Nebraska bill to the arrival of Gov. Andrew H.Reeder, a period of over four months, the territory was without formalgovernment. To meet these conditions and to protect themselves from "land sharks"and "claim jumpers" the settlers formed claim associations or squatterassociations as they were known in Kansas.

     These extra-legal organizations were notpeculiar to Kansas territory. They werea frontier institution dating back, probably, to the self-governing communitiesof Wautauga, Cumberland and Transylvania, [20] and functioning where conditionsdemanded on each frontier as it moved westward. Squatter associations were nodoubt formed in all parts of Kansas wherever settlements were made, butunfortunately information on only a few is extant. Satisfactory manuscriptrecords of but one, the association at Whitehead, has as yet come to light.

     The constitutions adopted by these organizationswere usually in the form of aset of resolutions and differed only in minor details. The purpose as stated wasto protect the settler and to secure safety and fairness in the location andpreservation of claims. A few of the later ones included rules regarding fencingagainst stock. [21] They laid down the rules and regulations for making a validclaim, provided for a register for recording all claims made and their transfer,and also provided a body to enforce the rules and settle disputes. Someassociations more strongly Proslavery than others recognized the institution ofslavery and refused protection to Abolitionists. Few persons suffered from thelatter clause, however, for the designa-


tion Abolitionist was almost as distasteful to the early Free-State settlersas to the Proslavery adherents. These constitutions were freely amended atsubsequent meetings. Disputes were referred to a committee or court establishedby the association or were settled in mass meeting. The members bound themselves to abide by these decisions and each pledged himself to "do his duty" in case oftrouble.

     The decisions were enforced in different ways.There were penalties ranging from a warning to leave the country to theapplication of tar and feathers, [22] and even to threats of death. Claim jumperswho refused to leave upon notice were usually forcibly ejected. Orville C. Brown,of Osawatomie, gave the following account:

     Claim disputes were adjusted by the settlers, and all were obliged to yield totheir decision. In one case some western men forbid Mr. John Carr to erect hiscabin. Mr. Carr's claim was known to be original. The oposers came with theirshot guns, but seeing the structure being carried up by determined men retired inpeace. I allowed a man and family to occupy my house until he could build acabin. My family came, he refused to vacate. The squatters set, his effects outupon the prairies and his wife refusing to go, was carried in her rocking chairand added to the household things. [23]

     When the time approached for the completion ofthe survey and the sale of theland the associations were especially active. Settlers were urged to registertheir claims and commit themselves to the squatter laws. [24] Where the land wassold at public auction the squatter, surrounded by his fellows, bid in his claimat the minimum price, and no one dared bid against him. [25] Squatters on landssubject to the pre-emption laws were protected by the association from havingtheir claims entered by other persons.


     The association which met at Whitehead [26] wasa typical claim


association, and, as mentioned above, is the only one whose manuscript records are at all complete. The minutes of its meetings, beginning July 22, 1854, and aregistry of claims both appear in an old territorial record book (1855-1860) ofthe county commissioners of Doniphan county. A draft of the resolutions adoptedat the first meeting on June 24, 1854, and the proceedings of the vigilancecommittee were given to the Kansas State Historical Society by Benjamin Harding,of Wathena, secretary of the committee. The minutes of the first meeting alsoappeared in The Weekly Kansas Chief, of Troy, August 16, 1883. Themanuscript from which they were copied was picked up in the streets of Wathenabefore the Civil War. It seems certain from the editor's description that it wasthe first leaf in the record book mentioned above. [27]

     The association of the Whitehead district wasformed at a large gathering of squatters at Whitehead on June 24, 1854. Col. W.Broadus Thompson [28] was said to be the leading spirit in its organization. Maj.Daniel Vanderslice, [29] Indian agent at the Great Nemaha agency, and his son,Thomas J., were among the members. The jurisdiction of the organization, defined in the minutes of the second meeting, embraced the Iowa, Sac and Fox and thenorthern part of the Kickapoo reservations. The majority of the members wereProslavery in sentiment, as a clause in the constitution refusing protection toAbolitionists and welcoming slaveholders makes clear. Yet at least four of thesigners of the document became "red-hot Free-State champions," [30] and took anactive part in the various Free-State conventions. However, politics seemed toplay little part in the association, and the contests arising were for thepossession of claims rather than in defense of any peculiar institution.

     The speculators, or absentee claim-holders, werenot numerous, apparently, in this organization. A study of the census of1857,


taken three years after the opening of the territory, revealed that 43.2% ofthe forty-four signers of the constitution and 41.2% of the one hundred andthirty-six who registered their claims were still living in the district.Allowance must be made for the transfer of claims which was made possible byregistration in the claim association. These figures agree quite closely withstudies that have been made in the movement of population in Kansas. [31]The last entry in the record book was the meeting of November 22, 1854. Thebook was lent to the Kansas Historical Society by the commissioners of Doniphancounty for copying. The records here reproduced retain the spelling andpunctuation used in the originals.


     At a large and enthusiastic meeting of theSettlers of Kansas Territory, held on the 24th day of June, 1854, [32] atWhitehead, in accordance with notice previously given, the following proceedingswere had:

     Col. A. M. Mitchel was called to the Chair, and James R. Whitehead appointedSecretary.

     On motion of Col. W. Broadus Thompson, theChairman explained the object of themeeting, and appointed a committee to present resolutions for theirconsideration. The committee consisted of Col. W. Broadus Thompson, Capt. John H.Whitehead, Benjamin Wharton, and John R. Carter.

     During the absence of the committee, theChairman made an able address, shewingthe necessity of an immediate organization for mutual protection againstintruders, and for the promotion of the interest of the Territory. The committee,through their chairman, Col. W. Broadus Thompson, then reported the followingresolutions:

     WHEREAS, We, citizens of Kansas Territory,intending to fix our homes upon itsfertile soil, have this day met at Whitehead, for the purpose of taking measuresto secure safety, certainty and fairness in the location and preservation ofclaims.

     Therefore, be it resolved:

     1st. That we are in favor of bona fide SquatterSovereignty, and acknowledge the right of any citizen of the United States tomake a claim in Kansas Territory, with the ultimate view of occupying it.
2d. That such claim, when made, should be held inviolate so long as a bona fideintention of occupying it is apparent; and for the purpose of protecting anddefending such, we agree to act in concert, if necessary, to expel intruders.
3d. That any person of lawful age, or who may be the head of a family, who shallmark out his claim of 160 acres so that it may be apparent how the same lies,shall be deemed to have made a proper claim.
4th. That any person marking out his claim, shall be deemed to have forfeited itunless he commences his cabin or pitches his tent within (30)thirty


days thereafter, unless the same shall be on such land as prohibit it byMilitary or Indian reservation.
5th. That all persons now holding claims shall have thirty days from this day inwhich to make the improvement contemplated by the foregoing resolution.
6th. That no person shall be protected by the Squatter Association who holds inhis own right more than one claim.
7th. That any person building his cabin or tent within less than half a mile ofanother, shall be deemed an intruder.
8th. That a citizen of the Territory be appointed Register of Claims, who shallkeep a book in which he shall note the name and description of all Squatters andtheir claims, for which he shall be allowed the sum of fifty cents for eachclaim, to be paid by the claimant.
9th. That a bona fide purchaser of a claim located and registered be recognizedas entitled to the same under the laws of this Association, provided hisintention be to occupy the same as a citizen of this Territory.
10th. That we will afford protection to no abolitionist as settler of KansasTerritory.
11th. That we recognize the institution of Slavery as already existing in thisTerritory, and recommend to Slaveholders to introduce their property as early aspracticable.
12th. That a Vigilance Committee be appointed by the Chair, consisting of (13)thirteen members of this Association, whose duty it shall be to decide upon alldisputes in relation to claims; and to ensure the execution of their judgment inregard to rightful claimants, they shall have power to call together the entireSquatter Association.
13th. That all persons who wish to become members of the Squatter Association,shall subscribe to the foregoing preamble and resolutions.

     The foregoing preamble and resolutions,presented and supported by Col. W.Broadus Thompson in a forcible and eloquent speech, were unanimously adopted.By unanimous consent, the Chair appointed as Register of Claims, James R.Whitehead, and as Vigilance Committee, Capt. John H. Whitehead, Samuel P. Blair,Henderson Smallwood, James B. Otool [O'Toole?], Thomas W. Waterson, Cary B.Whitehead, Anderson Cox, John W. Smith, Sen., Samuel Montgomery, BenjaminHarding, John W. Smith, Jr., John [James J.?] Keaton, Joseph Siceliff.On motion it was resolved that the Chairman appoint five delegates to the General Territorial Convention, to be held at Salt Creek, on the 4th day of July,proximo. [33] Whereupon, Capt. John H. Whitehead, Benjamin Wharton, Albert Heed[or Head?], Samuel P. Blair and John R. Carter were appointed said delegation.It was further resolved that the papers of St. Louis, Independence, Weston, St.Joseph and Savannah be requested to publish these proceedings, for reference, and as notice to all interested.


     The meeting then adjourned, to meet again atthis place, on this day four weeks.

Nimrod Duncan,
Hezekiah Jackson,
Andrew J. Brans[t?]on,
William H. Butram,
J. B. Anderson,
Michael McGee,
Peter O'Rourk,
James R. Whitehead,
Henry Thompson,
Peter Huver,
Thomas Byrne,
John W. Smith,
Henderson Smallwood,
James J. Keaton,
James B. O'Toole,
B. Harding,
John H. Whitehead,
A. L. McChesney,
Frederick Trent,
Samuel Montgomery,
George W. King, M. D.,
James Muir,
 David C. Montgomery,
Nicholas Shookman,
Wm. Gore,
A. Larzelere,
Allen Wallis,
Thomas H. Baker,
Sam. Perin Blair,
Joseph H. Siceliff,
I. G. Rogers,
Charles H. Rogers,
George W. Breckenridge,
John Fee,
Wm. G. Fee,
H. H. Frazer,
Philip Manuel,
Eli Gabbert,
W. G. Cox,
Lester Deming,
John Mullolly,
James M. Teegarden,
J. M. Holt,
Joseph Crippen.

At a meeting of the members of the Squatter association of Kansas Territory heldat Whitehead on the 22nd of July, in accordance with a resolution passed by anadjourned meeting of the 24th of June, the following proceedings were had.[34]
Thomas W. Waterson was called to the chair, appointed Secretary of themeeting.
1. On motion of A. Lazalere the read and unanimously adopted.
2. On motion of Major D Vanderslice the 4th resolution of the previous meetingwas amended so as to read as follows
Resolved That any person marking out his claim shall be deemed to have forfeitedunless he commences his cabin or pitches his tent within (30) thirty daysthereafter, unless the same shall be on such lands as prohibit it by military orIndian reservations. Provided That any Indian agent, officer, or employee, of theGovernment of the United States who shall have marked out his claim, and has beendetered from commencing his cabin or otherwise improving his claim, on the groundthat it was a violation of the law, but have in all respects complyed with the3rd resolution then such claim shall be deemed good.
3. On motion of John H. Whitehead, it was resolved, that all persons havingmarked claims in Kansas Territory, within the following boundary, (To wit)Beginning at the mouth of Cadew Creek, [35] and running due west to theand James R. Whitehead, proceedings of the previous meeting were


western boundary of the Kickapoo Lands, thence north along said boundary tothe Iowa & Sack lands, thence north along the western boundary of said landsto the Nemahaw, thence down the Nemahaw and Missouri rivers to the place ofBeginning, shall be constituted members of, within the Limits, and under thejurisdiction, of this Squatter association. [36]
4. On motion of James M. Te[e?]garden, it was resolved that there be but oneregister of claims within the limits of this Squatter association.
5. On motion of Samuel Perin Blair, James R. Whitehead was appointed saidregister.
It was further resolved that all claims registered previous to this meeting by aregular appointed register be considered valid, but such as are registered afterthis date by any other than the register appointed by this meeting be consideredinvalid.
6. On motion it was resolved that all claims made and properly authenticatedsince the first day of January 1853 be considered valid. [37]
7. On motion the meeting adjourned to meet again at the same place on the 19thday of August next.

James R. Whitehead Secretary

     Aug 19 Pursuant to previous appointment ameeting of the Squatter Association of Kansas Territory was held at Whitehead onthe 19th day of august 1854 James B Otool[e?] being called to the chair made anappropriate address explaining the object of the meeting whereupon the followingresolutions were unanimously adopted:
1st Resolved That from and after this date all disputes in relation to claimsshall be refered to a committee of three to be appointed by the VigilanceCommittee who shall be authorized to settle all disputes so refered. Providedhowever that any person feeling themselves aggrieved have the right of appeal tothe Committee of Vigilance previously appointed which shall hold its meetings onthe first Monday in each month at Whitehead
2nd Resolved That said Committee of three shall receive fifty cents ascompensation for their services in deciding each claim to be paid by the personagainst whom judgment is rendered
3rd Resolved That the secretary of the Committee be allowed twenty five centseach for issuing notices and that the Marshall be allowed fifty cents each forserving such notices and 10 cts pr mile for travelling any distance over fourmiles
4th Resolved that each party having a dispute to be settled by the Committeeshall deposit with said Committee five dollars to cover the cost arising underthe foregoing resolutions said cost to be paid out of the money so deposited bythe person against whom judgment is rendered and the ballance to be refunded tothe proper owners
5th Resolved That any person failing to deposit the amount required by theforegoing resolution with the Committee after he shall have been duly cited totrial judgment shall be rendered against him by default.
6th Resolved That every person having a claim which is not recordedshall


be required to record the same within thirty days from this date and if thereis no house upon the same to erect one or a flag staff or put 4 posts in theground and lay a foundation of 4 logs thereon or plough at least one acre ofground somewhere on said claim or erect some other evidence of his claim on thesame which in the judgement of the Vigilance Committee of this association is asufficient notice to those who may wish to make claims that these claims aretaken
On motion the meeting then adjourned to meet again at the same place on the 16thday of September 1854

James R Whitehead Sec

September 15th 1854,
On this day the association met according to adjournment. On motion of J. H.Whitehead Maj W. P. Richardson was called to the chair.
On motion of D. Vanderslice the secretary read a communication from T. J.Vanderslice, addressed to the Squatter Association in regard to the conflictingclaims of said Vanderslice and Judge A. Lewis. Whereupon Maj. D. Vandersliceintroduced various witnesses whose testimony was reduced to wri[t]ing by a memberof the association & filed with the records of the secretary, going to showthe nature of the claims of T. J. Vanderslice, & D. Vanderslice, as well asthe fact that Judge Lewis' claim conflicted with the same-and also going to showthat said Lewis refused posatively to submit to and abide by any decision whichthis association might render in the premises.
Whereupon, Upon motion of A. Larzelere, Resolved That it is the deliberateopinion of this association that D. & T. J. Vanderslice are the rightfulowners of the claim occupied by Judge Lewis, and we will sustain them in holdingthe same.
Resolved, That a copy of the above resolution officially signed by the chairmanof this association be furnished to Judge Lewis.
On motion of J. R. Whitehead the association adjourned until its next regularmeeting.

J. R. Whitehead Sec

October 15th Pursuant to previous appointment the association met on this daywhereupon the following proceedings were had
On motion of John H. Whitehead-Thomas Wildbahn was called to the chair and SilasWoodson appointed Secretary.
Capt J. H. Whitehead in a few brief remarks explained the object of the meetingwhereupon on motion of S Woodson the chair apointed a committee of (5) five todraft resolution's expressive of the sense of the meeting
The committee consisted of the following gentlemen Silas Woodson D. B. WeldenJohn H. Whitehead
The committee after a few minutes absence reported the following preamble andresolutions which were unanimously adopted
Whereas it appears from the records of this association that George Jameson onthe day of 1854 took possession of a claim owned by W. K. Richardson near Was.Se. Na's38 in Kansas Territory within the jurisdiction of this association, andthat on the [22] day of [August] 1854 said Jameson at the instance of saidRichardson, was duly notified to appear


before the vigilance committee of this association for the purpose ofcontesting the validity of his claim if he had any, and whereas-he failed toappear before said committee and judgment was in consequence thereof renderedagainst him by default, and the marshal of this association was required tonotify said Jameson of said judgment and to require him to leave said claimbefore the 5th inst. and whereas-he refuses to leave said claim and is stillthereon in defiance of the Judgement of the Vigilance Committee and the notice toleave, Therefore resolved by this association that the members of the associationthis day present, being determined to enforce their rules & Judgements willforthwith proceed to the claim in controversy, and require said Jamison to leavethe same and surrender the possession to said Richardson, and if upon suchrequest he refuses to leave said claim we will remove him therefrom peacefully ifwe can & forcibly if we must, and put said richardson in possession of saidclaim.
The committee farther state that the records of this association show thatHamilton J. Johnson on the [261 day of [August] 1854 recovered a judgement beforethe Vigilance committee of this association against M'ashan for a claim of 160acres in Kansas Territory lying within the jurisdiction of this association andwhereas it appears from satisfactory evidence before the committee that after therendition of the Judgement aforesaid Meashan abandoned said claim and has putJameson in possession of the same as his agent or otherwise, & that saidJameson is now residing on the same and refuses to deliver the same to saidJohnson according to the Judgement of said Vigilance Committee, We thereforerecommend the same proceedings to be adopted against said Jameson, as is providedin the foregoing resolutions, for the purpose of putting W. '. K. Richardson inpossession of his claim

November 22nd 1854 At a special meeting of the Squatter Association held atthe house of Milton Bryan this day the following proceedings were had James B.Otool[e?] was unanimously appointed chairman and J. R. Whitehead requested to actas secretary.
The secretary then in a brief manner announced to the meeting that the regularchairman of the Vigilance Committee Capt. Jno. H. Whitehead was then lying verysick with fever so much so as to render him unable to attend to any of the dutiesof his office and that the said J. H. Whitehead had requested him the said J. R.Whitehead to announce the same to this meeting and tender it his resignation ofsaid office-which was accepted
Whereupon James B. O'Tool[e?] was appointed chairman of the Vigilance Committee vs John H. Whitehead resigned
On motion of Benjamin Harding the following resolution was adopted Resolved thatthe Vigilance Committee shall not take Cognizance of any complaint made by anyperson who is not a resident of this Territory unless he shall rendersatisfactory evidence by oath or otherwise that he intends to become such withinsix months from this date
The meeting then adjourned to meet at Whitehead on the 15th day of Decemberproximo December 15th 1854



     One hundred and thirty six claims were recordedin the association between July 1and December 2, 1854. The time of making the claims varied, the earliest datebeing that of James R. Whitehead, who claimed the land "by right of actualsettlement thereon and peacable possession of the same from the 1st day ofNovember 1851 to the present time." The land had not yet been surveyed and theclaims were identified by giving the names of adjoining claimants, by listingbordering roads or streams, and in a few cases by giving descriptions of land inMissouri opposite.

     The following are representative of the recordof land claims:

July 1st
James R. Whitehead's claim is bounded as follows on the north by JohnMontgomery on the East by the Missouri river on the South by John H. Whiteheadand on the west by James Oconnel and Mary Burnets claims. This claim is composed of two fractional Quarter Sections supposed to contain 160 acres and lies on thewest bank of the Missouri river opposite the following described Lands inMissouri (To wit) The south west quarter of section (34) thirty four Township(58) fifty eight Range (36) Thirty Six and of the north half of Section (3) threeof Township (57) fifty seven of Range (36) Thirty Six.
J. R. Whitehead claims the above described parcel of Land by right of actualsettlement thereon and peacable possession of the same from the 1st day ofNovember 1851 to the present time.
Witnesses (Samuel Montgomery

(James R. Whitehead Recorder of claims

John H. Whitehead

July 1st
Thomas L. Lease records his claim as follows bounded on the Mo River onthe east by Tobias S. Lease on the south by a claim marked VIE on a black oaktree and on the west by a vacant claim. This claim is situated near the head ofthe prarie bottom on the Mo river above banks'es ferry This claim includes avalley which is part timber and part prarie with a small branch running throughit which usually sinks before reaching the river and was made on the 2nd day ofJune 1854
Witness Tobias S. Lease

James R. Whitehead Recorder

July 15
Thomas W. Waterson's claim is bounded as follows on thenorth by a vacant quarter on the east by a vacant quarter on the south by avacant quarter and on the west by James Waterson This claim has a small grove onit with a tree near


by known by the name of the Loan Oak and was made by Thomas W. Waterson on the13th day of June 1854
Witness: James Waterson

James R. Whitehead Recorder

Thomas J. Vanderslice made a claim on a quarter section of land on the 15th dayof March 1854 which claim is situated on the east side of wolf river where theIndian tole bridge was, on the road leading from St Joseph Mo to the GreatNemahaw Agency embracing said road which runs near its northern boundary and isbounded as follows on the north by a vacant claim on the east by a vacant claimon the south by W. T. B. Vanderslice and on the west by D. Vanderslice
Witnesses (H. C. Clifford Saml McClasky)

James R. Whitehead Recorder

John B. Roy

July 17
D. Vanderslice has a claim on wolf river embracing the road from StJoseph to Great Nemehaw Agency which is para[l]el or nearly so to its northernboundary supposed to be 150 yds within said boundary and is bounded on the northby a vacant prarie claim on the east by Thomas J. Vanderslice on the south by theclaim of James J. Vanderslice and on the west by a vacant claim D. Vanderslicemade this claim on the 26th day of May 1853 in the presence of Major Wm P.Richardson and reiterated the same in the presence of Mr McMeeken George W.Manypenny and others in the following September (This claim lies on the west sideof Wolf River)

James R. Whitehead Recorder

July 18
Charles Estes records his claim as having the following boundaries on thenorth by Paten W. Estes Jr on the east by a fraction & Mo River on the southby Mr. Acord's fraction on the west by Peter Monroe this claim is all timber andwas made by Charles Estes on the day of 1854 Witnesses Paten W. Estes JrGeorge Estes James R. Whitehead Recorder The above claim was transferred to E. F.Wells by C Estes on the 17th day of Oct 1854 for the sum of $25.00

J. R. Whitehead

July 22nd
Paten W. Estes Sen records his claim as bounded as follows on the northby the Missouri river on the east by a vacant claim on the south by a vacantfractional Quarter and on the west by Paten W. Estes Jr this claim is mostlyTimber and was made by P. W. Estes Sen on the day of 1854


Witnesses (Charles Estes
(George Estes)

James R. Whitehead Recorder

The above claim was awarded to Francis Bosaier by the Vigilence Committee on the19th day of August 1854 by his establishing to their satisfaction priority ofsettlement
J. R. Whitehead Recorder

August 26th
William K. Richardson records his claim as being situated on Peterscreek and embracing said creek and is bounded as follows on the north by Anderson Cox on the east by J. W Crane on the south by Sidney Tennent and on the west byclaimant unknown This claim is all Timber and was made by Mr Richardson on the19th day of April 1854
Witness Anderson Cox

J. R. Whitehead Recorder

(Registered in Johnson's office on the 19th day of May)

Sept 16
Johnston D. Carson's claim of 160 acres in Kansas Territory on the cottonwood prarie commencing on the S W corner of H. H. Woodson's claim and runningsouth 160 poles to said Carson's .S W corner thence east 160 poles to saidCarsons S E corner thence north 160 poles to said Carsons N E corner thence westto place of beginning This claim was made on the 27th day of July 1854 by putting4 post in the ground and laying 4 logs thereon within said boundary
Witnesses: Wm Carson, Silas Woodson

James R. Whitehead Recorder

Sept 16
Mary Dysart's claim of 160 acres made in Kansas Territory on the 28th dayof July 1854 by setting 4 post in the ground and laying 4 logs on them for afoundation said claim lies on the cotton wood prarie and the foundation is madenear the top of the ridge about 3/4 of a mile S east of the cotton wood springsaid foundation is near the south line of said claim and the said claim is toextend 80 rods east &. 80 rods west of the foundation
Witness Silas Woodson

James R. Whitehead Recorder


     The association provided that disputes were tobe settled by a vigilance committee composed of thirteen members appointed by thechairman. Possibly distances and difficulty of travel made it hard to secure aquorum, for at its meeting of August 19, 1854, the association ruled that alldisputes in relation to claims should be referred to a committee of three chosenby the vigilance committee. Any


person feeling aggrieved at a decision, however, had the right of appeal tothe whole committee, which was to meet on the first Monday of each month.

     The original records of the vigilance committee,as previously mentioned, were given to the Historical Society by Benjamin Hardingof Wathena, who served as secretary of the committee. They are written on loosesheets of paper and apparently are not complete. The minutes of the meetings,which do not go beyond August 19, 1854, are as follows:

     At a meeting of the committee of vigilanceappointed at a previous meeting of the squatter association held at James R.Whitehead's in accordance to previous notice on the 15th day of July 1854, thefollowing proceedings were had The meeting was called to order by the Chairman,Capt. John H. Whitehead and the roll called by James R Whitehead when thefollowing members answered to their names
Capt J H Whitehead, chairman, H Smallwood, James B O'Toole, John W Smith Sen.Sam'l Montgomery Beni Harding, John W Smith Jr & James J Keaton
-Absent- Sam'l P Blair Thomas W Waterson Carey B Whitehead, Anderson Cox &Joseph Siceliff
On motion, Benj Harding was appointed secretary and James R Whitehead MarshalResolved that all complaints be made in writing to the chairman of the vigilancecommittee and that the person complained of be notified to appear at the nextmeeting of the committee to answer such complaint, also that said notice beissued in writing by the secretary and served by the marshal, at least three daysprevious to the time appointed for said meeting [39]


Resolved. That the Secretary and marshal be allowed the usual fee for issuingand serving such notice Henderson Smallwood complained of Daniel O'Toole havingmade a claim within a half mile of his house
Ordered that said O'Toole be notified to appear at said meeting to answer saidcomplain
Henry Thompson complained of E. Blackston building a house within a half mile ofhis own
Ordered. That said Blackston be notified to appear at next meeting of thecommittee to answer said complaint
Disputed claim, Muir vs. Branston. Referred to committee and decided in Muir'sfavor-Branston submitted like a philosopher
On motion. The meeting adjourned until the 22nd instant
B Harding

John H Whitehead


At an adjourned meeting of the committee of vigilance held at James RWhiteheads on the 22nd day of July 1854 the following members answered to theirnames
Capt J H Whitehead, H Smallwood, J. B O'Toole John W Smith Sen. Sam'l MontgomeryB Harding S. P. Blair, T. W. Waterson, A Cox & J. Siceliff
     Absent J W Smith Jun. J. J. Keaton and Carey BWhitehead
     Case of Smallwood vs O'Toole, continued for want ofwitness
     Case of Thompson vs Blackston discharged on theunderstanding that Blackston shall, on condition that Thompsons quarter includeshis house or improvement when the government survey is made, relinquish all landof which he may be possessed, belonging to said quarter, but reserving theprivilege of removing his improvements provided said Thompson refuses to make areasonable compensation for the same
Adjourned to meet again in two weeks (Aug 5th) at twelve o'clock atWa-the-nas
B Harding

At an adjourned meeting of the Squatter association vigilance committee heldat Wa-the-na's on the 5th day of August 1854 a quorum being present the followingproceedings were had
The case of McChesney against Trent & Muir was called, but continued at theinstance of the plaintiff for want of evidence.
Smallwood vs O'Toole.- Plaintiff unable to sustain his case- Dismissed Duncan vsO'Rourk- Continued
Adjourned to meet at Thomas W Watersons on Saturday the 12th inst at eleveno'clock A- M.
B Harding
Sec. Vig. Com.


     August 19th 1854- Vigilance committee met
Thomas W Waterson was appointed chairman pro tem.
The case of McChesney against Trent was continued for want of evidence Duncan vs O Rourke- Continued
Francis vs Estes decided in Francis's favor McChesney vs Muir, Judgment renderedagainst Muir
In accordance with a resolution passed by the mass meeting on the same day John HWhitehead- John W Smith Sen and Thomas W Waterson were appointed a committee tosettle disputes
B Harding
Sec Vig Com

     Trials in claim disputes followed courtprocedure. In some cases the vigilance committee, when appealed to, reversed the decision of the committee of three. An example of such a decision appearsbelow:


Whitehead KansasTerritory
Sept 4th 1854

A. L McChesney
Frederick Trent
To the Marshall of the Squatter association for the district of Whitehead You arehereby Commanded to notify F Trent that at a meeting of the Vigilance Committee held at Whitehead on the 25th day of August 1854 a verdict by default wasrendered against said Trent and in favour of A L McChesney in relation to therightful ownership of a Certain Claim lying and being in the Walnut Grove andbounded as follows on the north by Joseph Rakenger & Philip Shirer on theeast by N Duncan on the south by A J Hawkins and on the west by Vacant Land 40You are therefore Commanded to notify Said Trent to remove from and off of saidQuarter Section of Land and leave the Same in peaceable possession of the abovenamed A L McChesney within ten days from the serving of this notice
John H Whitehead
Chairman of Vigilent Comittee

     At an adjourned meeting held at watersons on Sat12th July [August] 1854 a quorum was not present and no business was transactedexcept settling a dispute between Hawkins & Acord which was decided inHawkins favor Adjourned to meet at Whiteheads on Sat Aug 19th1854


[On reverse side] A L McChesney VS
Frederick Trent Notice to remove Served by reading the Same to Defendant Sept 4th1854

James R Whitehead Marshall

Whitehead Sept 4th 1854

To the Chairman of the Vigilance Committee of thirteen for the district ofKickapoo in Kansas Territory
having been informed that there has been a verdict by default ren- dered againstme by the Committee of three of this association in the Case in which A LMcChesney was plaintiff and I was defendant and believing thatI have the best right to the property in dispute and that it will appear so tothe Satisfaction of your honorable body upon a full investigation of the case andknowing that I have the right to appeal from the decission of Said Committee ofthree to that of your honorable body I take this method of doing so and herebyrequest that you will have Said McChesney notified of the fact and that he be andappear before your Committee to defend Said Suit on the 16th day of Sept 1854
Frederick Trent
A. L. McChesney Appeal

Whitehead Kansas Territory
Sept 11th 1854

To the Marshall of the Squatter association for the district of Kickapoo
By authority vested in me by the Vigilance Committee of the Squatter associationfor the district of Kickapoo you are hereby commanded to notify A L McChesney to be and appear before Said Committee at Whitehead in Kansas Territory on the 16thday of Sept 1854 at 1 o'clock to answer the Complaint of Frederick Trent inregard to the equity of a verdict rendered by the Com. of three against Saidtrent and in favour of A L McChesney on the 26th day of August last
B Harding
Sec. Vig. Com.

Kansas Territory,
15th Septr. 1854.

Frederick Trent
Appellant Appeal to Vigilance Committee ofthe

Whitehead, Kansas Association

A. L. McChesney Appellee
This day the parties appeared before the Committee in proper person and afterhearing all the evidence, the Committee are of the opinion that the appellant isentitled to the possession of the claim in dispute the appellee having in theopinion of the committee forfeited his claim in consequenceof


making an improvement on another and different claim after appellant settledupon and commenced improving the claim in dispute, thereby recognising the actsof appellant as being legal. It is therefore adjud[g]ed & ordered by thecommittee that the appellant recover & judgment is hereby awarded in hisfavor for the claim of 160 acres upon which appellant is living in the walnutgrove in Kansas Territory and the Marshal of this association is required to seethat this judg'et is enforced. It is further ordered & adjudged thatappellant recover of appellee his costs expended in this behalf to be taxed bythe Secretary of this association.

John H Whitehead
Chairman of Committee

     The last date in the records is December 2,1854, for the registration of a claim. After the territorial government wasestablished, and the land was surveyed and pre-empted, the squatter associationsgradually disappeared.

1. Laws of the United States of America, From the 4th of March, 1827, to the3d of March, 1833 . . . (Washington, 1835), v. VIII, pp. 342, 343.
2. Revision of Indian Treaties; A Compilation of All the Treaties Between theUnited States and the Indian Tribes . . . (Washington, 1873), pp. 341, 404,426, 427, 512; The Kansas Herald of Freedom, Lawrence, January 13,1855.
3. Journals of the Continental Congress . . . (Washington, 1933), v.XXVIII, pp. 460-462.
4. Laws of the United States of America, From the 4th of March, 1789, to the4th of March, 1815 . . . (1816), v. IV, p. 118.
5. Revision of Indian Treaties, p. 797, Art. 5.
6. The Homestead Guide, Describing the Great Homestead Region in Kansas andNebraska . . . (Waterville, F. G. Adams, 1873), pp. 91-93.
7. The Statutes at Large and Treaties of the United States of America(Boston, 1854), p. 808.
8. Chief Justice Samuel D. Lecompte when asked by a settler to issue aninjunction against a trespasser, answered on December 20, 1854, that he did nothave the authority, that while the act extending the pre-emption law to Kansashad a proviso in relation to unsurveyed lands, yet it "requires notice, &c.,amounting to conditions precedent to the investment of any right."-The EveningNews, St. Louis, Mo., February 2, 1855, "Webb Scrapbooks," v. II, pp. 222,223. (The scrapbooks of Thomas H. Webb are in the Library of the Kansas StateHistorical Society.)
Eight days later Gov. A. H. Reeder gave as his opinion that a man had the rightto make a pre-emption on unsurveyed lands in Kansas, and if he complied with allthe requirements he could not be prevented from obtaining his title.-Ibid.
9. Harlow, Ralph Volney, The Growth of the United States (New York, Henry Holt & Co., 1932), p. 445.
10. St. Joseph (Mo.) Gazette, March 29, 1854.
11. Henry Thompson operated a Missouri river ferry at St. Joseph, Mo. In 1853 hebuilt a house on the west side of the river and moved his familythere.-"Illustrated Doniphan County," supplement to The Weekly KansasChief, Troy, 1916, p. 226.
12. St. Joseph Gazette, May 3, 10, 1854. 13. Ibid., May 3.
14. Baltimore (Md.) Sun, June 28, 1854, in "Webb Scrapbooks," v. I, p.43.
15. Chapman, D. M., in the Boston Evening Transcript, July 6, 1854.Ibid., p. 41.
16. Letter dated June 26, 1854, in The Missouri Republican, St.Louis.-Ibid., p. 46.
17. Andrews, C. C., to John A. Halderman, June 27, 1854.-Halderman Collection,MSS. division, Kansas State Historical Society.
18. Arkansas State Gazette and Democrat, Little Rock, July 7, 1854.
19. Connelley, William E., A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans(Chicago, Lewis Publishing Company, 1918), v. I, p. 337.
20. Benjamin F. Shambaugh, "Frontier Land Clubs or Claim Associations," AnnualReport of the American Historical Association, 1900, v. I, p. 69.
21. The Kanzas News, Emporia, July 4, 1857.
22. William Phillips, a young lawyer of Leavenworth, suffered this penalty at thehands of the Leavenworth squatters' association when be refused to leave theterritory.-Andreas, A. T., and Cutler, W. G., History of the State ofKansas (Chicago, 1883), p. 425.
23. Brown, O. C., "Pioneer Life in Kansas," in O. C. Brown Papers, MSS. division,Kansas State Historical Society.
24. Brown, O. C., to Charles Foster, November 28, 1855, in Charles FosterPapers.-Ibid.
25. Herald of Freedom, Lawrence, November 29, 1856. One resolution adoptedby the citizens of Chase county read: "Fourth, that the citizens of Chase countyattend the sales en masse, and forbid any person bidding on any lands that may bedeclared occupied by the township secretaries, and any person bidding in defianceof such warning shall then and there forfeit his life."-Emporia News,August 11, 1860.
26. Whitehead began as a trading post established in 1852 by J. R. Whitehead, anIndian trader. A correspondent to the Missouri Republican wrote of it inJune, 1854: This city is as yet, of course, a prospective one. There are onlyseveral houses built, but they are well constructed and permanent. The site isabout five miles from St. Joseph, at the termination of the ridge which boundsthe plains on the East, and is adapted to the improvements and the constructionof a large city. . Thousands have already come in, and thousands are stillcoming.-Letter dated June 26, 1854, in Missouri Republican, St. Louis,Webb Scrapbooks," v. I, p. 46.
The town was platted in the spring of 1855. Later its name was changed toBellemont. It is now extinct.-"Illustrated Doniphan County," loc. cit., p.226.
27. "It is written on a large sheet of heavy, bluish flat paper, such as is usedin public record books, is 12% by 18 inches in size, with top and marginalruling, like flatcap, the blue lines for writing on being almost faded out. Thepages are numbered 1 and 2, in printed figures, and it was doubtless the firstleaf out of some Missouri record book."-The Weekly Kansas Chief, Troy,August 16, 1883.
28. W. Broadus Thompson was an attorney from St. Joseph, Mo. He was said to havebeen prominent in early Doniphan county politics. In 1857, he and his brother, M.Jeff Thompson, were associated with Cyrus K. Holliday, of Topeka, and others inthe promotion of the St. Joseph and Topeka railroad.-Ibid.; see, also, lettersfrom the Thompsons in the "F. L. Crane Scrapbook," MSS. division, Kansas StateHistorical Society.
29. Maj. Daniel Vanderslice, a native of Pennsylvania, was agent at the GreatNemaha agency from 1853 to 1861. He had previously lived in Kentucky where heedited a newspaper. At the expiration of his term as Indian agent, he decided tospend the remainder of his life in Doniphan county and settled on his farm nearHighland. He was a leader in the political and industrial affairs of the countyuntil his death in February, 1889. Three generations of the Vanderslice familyhave been prominent in Doniphan county history.-"Illustrated Doniphan County,"loc. cit., pp. 369-373.
30. The Weekly Kansas Chief, Troy, August 16, 1883. The names of John Fee,Benjamin Harding, A. Larzelere and Henderson Smallwood appear in the Free-Statecounty and state conventions.-The Kansas Herald of Freedom, Lawrence,September 1, 8, 1855.
31. See Malin, James C., "The Turnover of Farm Population in Kansas," in TheKansas Historical Quarterly, v. IV, pp. 339-372.
32. Taken from The Weekly Kansas Chief, Troy, August 15, ]883. This is theonly copy containing the signatures. It agrees in text with the rough originaldraft and also with the copy in House Report No. 200 (Ser. No. 869), 34Cong., 1 Sess., p. 956.
33. An excerpt from the Platte Argus in The Democratic Platform,Liberty, Mo., of June 22, 1854, reads: "We are authorized to state that thecitizens of Kansas territory, will celebrate the approaching Anniversary ofAmerican Independence at Salt Creek Valley near the trading post of Mr. Kivaly[Riveley?]. Ample preparations will be made, and a public Dinner will befurnished. The citizens of Missouri, generally, are invited to be present.Charles Grover, Esq., has been requested-and has consented-to deliver theAddress.
34. This is the first of the entries copied from the county commissioners' recordbook.
35. This creek was possibly present Peter creek. It was named for Peter Cadue, aFrenchman, who came to this region about 1840, and became an interpreter for the Kickapoo Indians. -Gray, P. L., Gray's Doniphan County History (Bendena,1905), p. 25.
36. The area embraced parts of Doniphan and Brown counties, and probably a partof eastern Nemaha county.
37. A number of the claims registered in the Whitehead association had beenpreviously registered in the office of D. M. Johnston in St. Joseph, Mo. Johnstonwas register of claims in an earlier association. See p. 18.
39. The following are illustrative notices:
Whitehead July 15th 1854

Capt J H Whitehead
Sir as you are Chairman of the Vigilance Committe organized and appointed by theSquatter association at Whitehead on the 24th June 1854 I address this note toyou informing you that Mr E Blackston has in violation of the laws passed by thatassociation intruded upon my claim and I have to request that you give himnotice to answer this complaint before your Committee on the 22nd day of Julyinst at Whiteheads place in Kansas Territory
Henry Thompson

[On reverse side]
Jacob Sharp
H Thompsons Complaint

Wm Gains
James Workman

Spring Hill Farm Kansas Ter
July 17th 1854

Mr E Blackston
You are hereby notified in accordance to a resolution passed by the committee ofvigilance, appointed by the Squatter association at a meeting held at James RWhiteheads on the 24th ult. to be and appear, at James R Whiteheads, at the next meeting of said committee to be held on the 22nd inst. to answer the complaint ofHenry Thompson as intruder on his claim
B Harding
Sec. Vig. Com.

[On reverse side]
July 18th 1854
Served this notice by reading the same to the defendant
Jas. R Wbitehead

38. Wa-the-nah, Kickapoo chief, for whom the town of Wathena was named.
40. The claim in dispute was originally made jointly by Roland Shannon and A. L.McChesney. On April 10, 1854, Shannon relinquished his right to McChesney. Therelinquishment read

"Know all men By these Presents that I Roland Shannon have this day Deliveredunto A. L. McChesney My Right Title & interest in a certain Claim that I hadin Connexion with the said McChesney in the Territory of Kansas Being Located inwhat is call[e]d the walnut Grove this Claim was Made by Me & McChesney inJune 1853 & on this day I have Relinquished all My Right to said McChesneyGiven under My hand this the 10th day of April 1854
P: S. Roberts Roland Shannon

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