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.  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. 
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. 
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.  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.  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.  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. However, the phraseology of the law was confusing and it was interpreteddifferently by different officials. 
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." 
Emigrants began to arrive on the Kansas borderin March, 1854,  and on April 21, a squatter meeting was held at HenryThompson's  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.  Claim jumping, therefore,had also commenced at this early date. 
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.  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. 
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."  The scene within the territory in Junewas described by the editor of the Parkville (Mo.) Luminary:
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. 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,  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.  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,  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:
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.  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.  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  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. 
The association of the Whitehead district wasformed at a large gathering of squatters at Whitehead on June 24, 1854. Col. W.Broadus Thompson  was said to be the leading spirit in its organization. Maj.Daniel Vanderslice,  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,"  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. 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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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
[On reverse side]
H Thompsons Complaint
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
Sec. Vig. Com.
[On reverse side]
July 18th 1854
Served this notice by reading the same to the defendant
Jas. R Wbitehead38. 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