I have already enough gray hairs without adding to them by fretting and repining at what can't be helped. I don't want you to infer from the above that I am exactly a beggar or a pauper though it may be a contented one. I have got town property -- that is shows on paper and [in] other towns enough to make one rich if they were worth half what their projectors prophesy they will be worth -- about enough to make a good sized farm if the lots all lay together -- Some of these are valuable, others worth at present about 10 cents per dozen. The nominal value of the whole at present is $3,000 or $4,000. This is the nominal value, but as there is hardly any money at all in the territory probably one half that would be all that could be realized. This has cost me nothing of any consequence directly. The shows, with one or two exceptions having been presented to me by the projectors of the original town, to gain my weighty influence, or obtain a notice in the papers. I hope with some of these to raise money to start the Free State this spring. Though I was almost discouraged last fall with the delinquency of the patrons. I had enough outstanding, to have continued it easily but I was determined to pay in advance as I went.
This is not a public letter and you need not show it to others than those at home.
R. G. Elliott
Lawrence, Feb. 20, 1858
It has been two or three months since I have received anything from home and it may be as much longer yet before I do. The Legislature adjourned a week ago today and I begin to have a little more leisure than I had. But for this I must thank Governor Denver. As he has refused me the privilege of doing what would have required my whole time for three or four months. As Superintendent of Public Printing it was my duty to copy for publication all the laws passed by the Legislature. The original copies are by law deposited with him as Secretary of the Territory -- and from these the copies for publication are to be made. By a forced interpretation of the Organic Act he has attempted to defeat a large number of the laws. He is required to return all bills which he does not approve, within three days; and if he does not they become laws without his approval, unless the Legislature adjourn within that time. Consequently all bills that had been in his 'hands three days at the adjournment became laws. Denver took the view that the Legislature was dissolved by limitation on Friday night at 12 o'clock and that all bills sent to him after Tuesday would not become laws without his signature. For the purpose of defeating bills he shut up his office and refused to receive a large number of bills on Tuesday night. The opinion of lawyers and men of experience is that all bills presented before Wednesday night would become laws without his signature[J But as he has them all in his possession he will not have them published -- and for the purpose of suppressing them has refused me the privilege of copying [them]. This act of his is a beautiful instance of the working of popular Sovereignty.
The weather has been delightful this winter. I have never seen a more pleasant season -- Yesterday and today have been as balmy as Spring. For about two weeks we had cold but calm weather, just enough to furnish a good supply of ice -- which has been stored in abundance for summer use.
We are all in high spirits about the probable settlement at an early day of our difficulties. We regard the Lecompton Constitution as verbally defeated, and even if it does pass Congress, it wont give us much trouble. It will only hasten from the world or from Kansas its powerful supporters, and in one month after it is attempted to be put in operation by its framers it will be scuttled and set adrift without captain, pilot, engineer or fireman.
The advance guard of next seasons emigration is beginning to arrive; and prices of property are beginning to look up. We have had rather hard times pecuniarily this winter -- still most of our business men have been able to hold up.
I do not know when I shall be able to visit home now. Had Denver not cut me off from the publication of the Laws I would have had an opportunity of stopping at home on my way to Cincinnati or some of the Eastern cities where I should have gone to have the work done. I will probably have the journals of both Houses to superintend -- but I do not yet know where this printing will be done. This alone would hardly pay to go to any of the cities with.
I suppose you have got into your new house. I should like to see how it looks when finished, and how you have furnished it -- Now that spring is coming you must not neglect to set out trees and shrubbery and have the garden arranged. You know my taste about Elm trees and Maples. Don't forget them. Osage Orange makes a pretty shade tree and is of quick growth. I saved last fall the seeds of several varieties of our wild flowers which I will send you if I have not lost them.
Enclosed you will find a few seed of the Prairie Rose. It grows to the height of one or two feet and has a very delicate and beautiful flower. The Persimmon seeds were grown on the town site of Delaware and have been carried in my pocket for the last three months. I might have saved a large variety of very fine flower seeds, but when the seeds are ripe it is almost impossible to distinguish them.
I do not yet know how soon I will be able to resume my paper, but shall do so as soon as possible in the spring.
Don't forget to write and give me all the minutiae about home makers.
If times open up bright again I shall do very well pecuniarily -- but at present things are rather dull so far as I am concerned.
R. G. Elliott
Lawrence, Kansas, January 24th, 1860
Your "Stationery" came to hand in due time and I hasten to acknowledge its receipt. I own that I have been rather forgetful of you all of late, and the fact is that I cannot help it. I am a follower of the Quaker doctrine that nothing (at least in letterwriting) should be done unless the spirit moves us.
As for news I have little to give. The Legislature is now in Session in this place, though they had a good deal of trouble in getting away from Lecompton. The Republicans have not a two thirds majority in both houses, and the Gov. vetoed the bill adjourning to this place. By rather shrewd financiering however it was passed over his veto; but on account of a slight informality in the journal made by the Clerk, the Gov. and secretary refused to go with them, taking the ground that in adjourning from Lecompton they had adjourned sine die. They remained in session some ten days, and as a compromise with the Gov. and See. who refused to recognize them, they did adjourn sin die with the promise that they should be called together, and have the privilege of trying it over again. They again met on the call of the Gov. passed a resolution adjourning to this place, carried it over the veto, and have got here regularly and the Gov. and See. with them.
We are of course looking to Washington with a great deal of anxiety, and with some hopes of admission as a state provided Congress should be able to organize. We get the news here from Washington now as soon as you do viz on the following day early in the. afternoon. The Telegraph brings it to Leavenworth on the same day, an evening paper publishes it and reaches Lawrence about noon on the next day. This time four years ago we had heard nothing from the States for more than four weeks; quite a change. You would probably like to know what I have been doing the last six months. Well, I have been engaged in the Treasurer's office as deputy, and last fall I was nominated and elected as County Treasurer, and since New Years have been discharging the duties of the office as principal. I believe you wrote me that "Col. Elliott" or some such a person had been awarded $40,000 for his losses in '56. This certainly don't apply to me. As I am neither a "Col." nor did I get $40,000. The mistake probably grew out of the similarity of names. Col. Eldridge was awarded over $40,000 for his losses. I only got something over $4,000. -- What the award will be worth is a question that I cannot answer. It is now in the shape of Territorial warrants but of such a doubtful' nature that whether the Territory or State will ever pay them, and the prospect for their payment by the Gen. -- Government is at present rather uncertain.
I understand that I have a brother-in-law named Huge McQuisten, but as to his identity I am not positively certain. I believe there used to be two of that name; which is it? Pikes Peak is turning out all right after all every arrival from the gold regions brings now more encouraging accounts, and it is now admitted by all to be no humbug, though gold can be got only by working for it.
R. G. Elliott
Lawrence, Kansas, Aug. 3, 1863
Your letter of the 18th of June came to hand in due time and was read with pain as well as interest. It contained the first that I had heard of the death of Aunt Nelly. I am quite surprised to learn of Benjamins removal. I thought that Martha Jane and Mother could agree better than any of the rest of the family. And Benjamin and father also. I also supposed that he could make more on the farm than he would at his trade -- and certainly he had more comfortable arrangements there than in Richland -- But of course it is the mind and not outward circumstances that brings contentment.
As for news I have but little of interest to communicate. The season has been the most favorable so far that I ever experienced. Early in the Spring it was very dry -- which gave the farmers a chance to do their spring work before planting time since which time we have had a great abundance of rain -- though so dispensed that the ground has been only for a few days unfit to plow.
Wheat was a good crop, oats good, and I have never seen such a prospect for corn in any country as we have here. We can this year repay ten fold all the produce sent us in the year of the drouth out of what will probably be wasted. This part -- and I think the whole of the state is prosperous and fast becoming independent. We are looking for Fremont here in a few days. He is the President of the Pacific R. R. which will pass up the river by us. This Road is expected to be built as far as Lawrence within a year. You complain of Copperheads in your vicinity. If you could only send them out here we would make them keep quiet. That class of serpents have not dared to have a public meeting in the State that I have heard of since about the time of the Louisville Peace Convention. They held a preliminary meeting in Leavenworth to make arrangements to send delegates but their meeting was attended and controlled by a lot of Radicals that put through some resolutions that did not suit Copperheads. They adjourned to meet on another day but the people plainly signified that if they sent delegates to the Convention they would have to go there in their coffins -- The result was that the committee calling the meeting -- to prevent bloodshed -- indefinitely postponed it -- and so the State was not disgraced by any representation in that traitorous conclave. Recruiting both of darkies and white men still continues. We are raising our 14th white Reg and our 2nd Colored, though we have already enough to fill our quota of 500,000 more Soldiers. This relieves Kansas from a draft.
Within a few days we have had some excitement about a guerilla invasion of Kansas and an attack on Lawrence -- Guerillas become active every year in the season of green corn and potatoes and such vegetables as they are enabled to subsist themselves more easily than at any other season of the year. They have recently become unusually active on the borders recently and would like I know to strike a blow at Lawrence. We have been out every night since last Thursday prepared to receive them, but they don't come -- and I do not fear that the[y] will at present nor till they find us off our guard --
I had hoped to pay you a visit this fall -- but as the time approaches it seems that I have less time to spare. But if I can find time without too great a neglect of my business you may expect to see me this year.
R. G. Elliott
Lawrence, Kansas, Aug. 24th, 1863
Since I wrote you last we have passed through the most appalling Scene I ever witnessed. On last Friday morning (the 21st inst.) at 5 o'clock in the morning, we were attacked by Quantrill and his gang, some 300 or 400 in number. We had not a moment's warning. The people were awakened from their slumbers by the cracking of revolvers and the tramping of horses, and as they ran out either to form in companies or to find a place of security they were shot down as so many wolves. Some were murdered in their beds -- others after they had given up all they had and surrendered themselves as prisoners were shot down in cold blood -- Every man who was seen on the streets was pursued and shot -- even prisoners that were wounded and saved by some of the more humane were butchered by others while under guard. But few of the wounded were left alive -- only those whose wounds were very slight and who were able to escape -- and those who were to all appearances dead -- some 12 or 15 in number. The number of those massacred we have not yet exactly ascertained -- as many remains of charred bodies are found in the ruins of the burnt buildings. We have been engaged ever since in burying the dead. I believe there have [been] over 120 buried. All the business part of town is in ashes, except 3 stores -- and probably 30 to 50 dwellings have been burnt. I would have written you sooner but as I was burnt out and very much engaged with looking after the wounded and dead -- and attending to other pressing matters, I had not time.
I was taken prisoner with the others in the Eldridge House where I boarded, put under guard in the house, and after it had been fired, conducted to another house. -- On the way some reckless villains commenced firing into the crowd but did no harm. After being kept this way some 4 hours just as they were leaving town we were marshalled in front of the house and four of our number shot down -- only hope however was killed -- Of course we broke and ran and being near the river bank -- where on the opposite side there were collected a few sharp shooters they did not attempt to follow us. They left about 9 o'clock. -- All who could get arms and horses (both of which were scarce after the raid) organized and started in pursuit. About 12 miles out we came up with them and stopped their burning and plundering in the country. The troops from Kansas City had also been apprised and were after them -- but they had such a start that I fear they will not be overtaken. There were 4 or 5 only of their number killed in town and some 5 or 6 since they left -- from the last reports from them it is possible that they may be captured yet but I think that their chances of escape are good.
Such an appalling sight I hope never again to witness -- to see maimed people who had surrendered and given up every dollar they had and treated them with every civility in hopes of saving their lives, shot down and killed after they were wounded -- to hear the shrieks and piteous entreaties of women and children to see wounded men lying helpless and dying -- their wives throwing themselves upon them to save them, shot again through the folds of their wives dress -- burns out every feeling of humanity for the demons.
But no more at present.
R. G. Elliott
Near Lawrence, Kansas, Jan. 26th, 1865
Your note of the 13th inst. with $800 Draft came to hand in due season. I also received $200 Draft from Lou, and thought I had acknowledged receipt but suppose I forgot it. I am sorry to hear of Brother's health being worse than when I last saw him. It seemed then as if it could be but little worse.
We are having a winter more severe than usual, and commencing earlier than it usually does. Since the 7th of Nov. we have had little else than winter weather. For five mornings we have had zero or below. I cut out a good deal of work for the winter on the presumption that we would have our usual amount of mild weather, but have been able to do but little except attend to my stock so far.
We have a train of cars running from Wyandott to Lawrence on the Pacific R.R. The people of Wyandott, Kansas City, and Lawrence last week had a grand celebration & Reunion over the opening of the Road. The Legislature now in session at Topeka, the State officers, and the Generals commanding in this Department were all present, made speeches and ate free Dinners at each of the above places. Early next season the road will be complete east of Kansas City and we will be then in direct communication with St. Louis and the East.
My health still continues excellent and every body congratulates me on my improved appearance since coming to my farm. You have probably noticed by the papers that our State has reelected Gen. Lane to the U. S. Senate -- he received 82 out of 98 votes. We, that is I and other Lane men -- are feeling rather good over this -- as we were in a sad minority in the Legislature last Winter when the Carney fraud was sprung on us -- The issue was made squarely before the people at the election last fall and we have won by a large majority against Conservatives and Democrats combined.
Enclosed you will find Photographs and lock of somebody's gray hair (either mine or my grandfather's).
Give one of the pictures to Mary Jane, one to Benjamin, and one to Lou.
I received the Returns [Pictures?] Rosa sent, but the artist that I wished to copy them was absent for 3 or 4 months after I returned and this winter the weather has been so bad that he cannot keep up with his orders. I will however get copies if he can make them, though he thinks that some of them will not give fair pictures. Give my love to all.
R. G. Elliott
Near Lawrence, Kansas, July 31st, 1865
I received your last note with my last mail, and hasten to reply. After Samuel's death Louisa wrote me two letters, one from home and one from cousin Hughs, which I received both by the same mail. She stated that she was going to start very soon to Iowa, that if I intended coming home soon I must telegraph and she would defer her trip. I did not receive her letters till after the time she indicated she would start, and so I did not write to her till I received a note from Rosa stating that she was at Keokuck, and expected to be out at her place on a visit, and suggesting that I enclose a letter to her, and she should deliver it to her or forward it. I immediately wrote to Rosa and enclosed a letter to Louisa as she suggested. It is true I might have written to her at home and had it forwarded, at once; but as she had not exactly made up her mind where she would go, I looked of course for a note from her as soon as she should determine where she would stop. This was my only cause for not writing to her before I did. I presume I shall not be able to get home this season, as I have a great deal to do and no one to manage for me when I am gone. We are having a very fine season here for crops, though rather too much rain to allow of crops being worked as they should be. I have 150 acres of corn on old ground and 25 on sod. That on the old ground is fine but the sod has grown badly, as it has been so wet, it being broke too early in the season. Though the spring was late and I did not hurry to get my garden planted as soon as I might, still I had green peas the 9th of June, potatoes the 24th and roasting ears the 9th of July. I shall need to cut up all my corn and make 400 or 500 tons of hay, as I have a good deal more stock than I had last year. I would have been at haymaking two weeks ago but the weather has been so unsettled that I could not commence, but I shall begin in a day or two, and shall have to work till after frost.
I promised Samuel and Louise to settle up his debts. I expected to be able to do so in June or July. I have however not sold all my marketable stock. Horses and mules have been rather dull sale since the close of the war, and I have some eight or ten of them that I intended disposing of this season. I have sold $2700.00 worth of stock this spring but bought more young cattle, and have taken a lot of sheep to keep on the shares, so that I shall have to wait till I sell something more before I can get the money. If father could settle up the debts I will pay him interest, and settle the matter as soon as he wishes after I sell my mules and horses. The amount according to Samuels estimate is some $500 or $600. But whatever it is I will see it paid. When you write let me know what it is and what father can do. I shall have to get some one at any rate to ascertain the amounts and settle them when I send the money on, if I should not be able to make a visit home this fall, which I think is very doubtful.
Give my love to all.
R. G. Elliott
Sunny Side, Kansas, February 28/66 (12]
My Dear Hattie,
I received your letter on the evening before you had appointed to start on your journey, and was greatly surprised to learn that you had decided to go so soon -- I at once made preparation to see you off next day, but a constant night's rain raised the creek bank full, and made the road next to impassable. So finding that it would be impracticable to get to Lawrence before the cars would start, I had to resign myself to my bad luck and resolve to atone for my unintentional neglect, by extra punctuality in writing. But two weeks have passed and my letters are very much like my visits, -- far between and somewhat uncertain.
I cannot write you any news as I have hardly been from home since I last saw you, as for the last three weeks we have been mud and water-bound -- such times for mud and weather I don't remember ever seeing in Kansas. But the absence of Somebody that diffuses sunshine may have something to do in causing the gloomy feelings which I have been attributing to the mud and weather -- This week I have been unusually lonesome, as Mrs. E is spending the week in town. Ed and I are alone -- We get our own Supper and breakfast, and Louise comes over and gets dinner and fixes things up so that we can run the machine till the next day. This is not quite as bad as "baching." But this mode of living has but few charms for me, and they are fast fading. If I had no alternative I should want the coming year to roll around rapidly.
I hope that you are having a real pleasant visit among your old friends and relatives and only wish that could every evening look in upon you and share a little of your happiness. You must write to me as soon as you receive this, and do not be afraid to say anything that your heart may prompt. Don't be afraid of appearing too familiar, but fill your "blanks" just as if no one but yourself was ever to see them, and be assured that I shall like them all the better.
But I must bid you good night, hoping that in the pleasures and excitements of your visit, you can give a thought now and then to one who never for an hour ceases to think of you: and praying that you may have a safe return, when I can communicate with you better than with a slow and clumsy pen.
Ripley, March 13  
My Dear Friend, 
I received your dear good letter several days ago and you cannot imagine the enjoyment I realized off of that sheet of paper more so because it was rather unexpected. I had almost feared to look for one from you.
The weather has been very unpleasant ever since we left home so that our visiting is almost all with the one family and the river is very high and rising. They say that the railroads are overflowed so that if we come home soon we must come by river and being at home, or my present home, as much I have not so much excitement but that I can cast a thought now and then upon you. But if I think of you once a day I do fifty times and if you are satisfied with a thought now and then as you spoke of I am not, for no excitement is so great as to turn my thoughts from you for a single hour.
I do really sympathize with you in your lonely way of living and almost wish it were this coming May instead of a year from that time that I am to come and try my hand at making you happy, and then I never will leave you for a week to keep house alone.
I hear that they are going to have a U.P. [United Presbyterian] church in Lawrence soon perhaps it is there now, and I suppose that you will unite with them won't you? And if you do what can I do? Can I leave my church? For you know my attachments are very strong and my church is especially dear to me. But I can do anything for you and I will so we will drop that subject for the present.
Now I am ready to listen to you for a while and will give you a chance. Give my respects to Mrs. E and my love to yourself and hoping that you will write again and soon I am
Mrs. C. L. (Carolyn) Berneking of Kansas City, Mo., attended the University of Kansas at Lawrence, and earned her master's degree in library science at Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia. She is presently librarian at Central Junior High school, Lawrence.
1. Richard Cordley, A History of Lawrence, Kansas (Lawrence Journal Press, 1895), p. 24.
2. A. T. Andreas and William G. Cutler, History of the State of Kansas (Chicago, 1883), v. 1, p. 316.
3. William E. Connelley, A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans (Chicago, Lewis Publishing Company, 1918), v. 3, p. 1209.
6. Original circular in possession of Maude Elliott and Mrs. Jeanne Aldrich: "The Lawrence Landing, Delaware City, is situated on the Missouri River five miles nearer Lawrence than Leavenworth, and twelve miles nearer than Quindara or Wyandott. Freight from this point to Lawrence will be fifteen cents lower than from any other point on the Missouri River. Delaware has recently been purchased by a company of Free State men of Lawrence, who are earnestly at work improving the town. Hotels are already open for the accommodation of travelers. Daily stages will run from this town to Lawrence. A title in free simple will be given for land in and around the town. The above facts the Kansas Emigrant will do well to consider." S. B. Prentiss, S. C. Harington, J. S. Emery, J. Hutchinson.
7. Connelley, A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, v. 3, p. 1209.
8. Kansas Historical Collections, v. 7 (1901-1902), p. 203.
9. Ibid., v. 16 (l923-1925), p. 677.
10. Ibid., p. 659.
11. Interview with Maude Elliott and Mrs. Jeanne Aldrich, January 5, 1976.
12. Sunny Side was the name of Elliott's farm north of Lawrence. These last two "love" letters are from Hattie Anderson and Robert who were married in 1869.
13. Robert Elliott.
14. Community near Cottage Grove, Ind.