Geary and Kansas by John H. Gihon, M.D.




    OCTOBER 17th.--Governor Geary left Lecompton early this morning on a tour of observation through the southern and western portions of the territory, escorted by a squadron of United States dragoons under command of Brevet-Major H. H. Sibley. After visiting a number of families on the way, and transacting considerable official business, he reached Lawrence in the afternoon, where he encamped for the night. He inspected Captain Walker's newly raised company of territorial troops, and was agreeably entertained by the citizens, who were in good spirits, and generally well contented at the better prospect that had been opened by the suppression of the late disturbances.

     18th.--The escort proceeded through the Wakarusa Valley, to Hickory Point, via Blanton's Bridge, a place made celebrated by its fortifications and rifle-pits, constructed during the war by the free-state men. The governor, with his secretary and an orderly, went round by Franklin, where he had disbanded, but a few weeks before, the army of General Reid, and where he had been informed a bad state of feeling still existed. Here the people were assembled and addressed with happy effect by the governor, who was cheered at the close of his remarks. Some of the houses in the town were riddled with balls, especially that of the postmaster, Crane. Leaving Franklin, the governor called upon the settlers on the way, instructing and encouraging them to keep the peace, visited all the points of peculiar interest; and joined the troops at Hickory Point early in the evening. Here he encamped for the night, and was visited by a large number of intelligent and respectable citizens, who expressed themselves highly gratified with the policy he had pursued, and their determination to support and assist him in his just and impartial administration.

     19th.--Whilst in camp at this place, information was received that recent depredations had been committed in this vicinity, and, upon complaint being duly made, the governor dispatched a deputy marshal with a posse of dragoons, who arrested the offenders and sent them as prisoners to Lecompton.

    On the march towards Prairie City, where they halted for some time, the governor's horse planted his foot upon and crushed the head of a large rattlesnake that lay coiled in the road. May not this have been a happy omen? Passing Prairie City, reached the house of John J. Jones, extensively known in Kansas by the name of "Ottawa Jones." He resides on Ottawa Creek, and is a half-breed Ottawa Indian, educated and civilized, and the interpreter of his tribe. His wife is an intelligent white woman from the state of Maine, who came to the territory some years since, as a missionary, and to whom he was married in 1845. They have no children. Jones formerly kept a hotel of considerable dimensions and excellent accommodations, which was burned on the night of the 27th of August last, by a Captain Hays, with a company of about forty men, because of his alleged free-state proclivities. Jones escaped unharmed, though he was pursued and fired at a number of times by Hays' party. Six hundred dollars in cash was taken from his wife whilst making her escape. Jones estimates his loss at $10,000, but the chiefs value it at $6000. He has three hundred acres of land under good fence, raises four thousand bushels of grain a year, has one hundred head of cattle, and fourteen horses. He was educated at Hamilton College, New York, and now preaches every Sunday, at the Baptist Mission. The farm of Jones is a part of the Ottawa reserve, which is ten by twelve miles square. The tribe consists of 325 souls. Ottawa Creek, which empties into the Osage River, runs through this reserve, in which, notwithstanding the lateness of the season, the governor and others of his party took a comfortable and refreshing bath.

    Four miles from the house of Ottawa Jones, stands the Baptist Mission, consisting of a church and several small houses. The mission, in which sixty Indian children are being educated, is under the care of John Early, a full-blooded Indian, who was educated at the Methodist Mission, and talks good English.

    Having passed this mission, crossed the Marais des Cygnes, sometimes called Osage River, and proceeding seven miles further, encamped in the valley of North Middle Creek.

     20th.--Struck tents, and marched through a beautiful country to Osawattomie, situated about one mile above the confluence of the Marais des Cygnes and Potawattomie rivers, upon an extensive plain of unsurpassed fertility. It formerly contained about two hundred inhabitants, many of whom were driven away at the time of the difficulties described in another place. Near this town the governor found one family, consisting of a man, his wife, and five children, all sick in bed, whilst their oldest son, who was their only support, had been forced to fly from the territory in consequence of threats against his life made by certain pro-slavery agitators.

    The people of Osawattomie were laboring under the apprehension of some undefined danger, and they welcomed the governor's arrival as the guarantee of security. He called the citizens together, irrespective of party; heard their individual complaints; gave them salutary advice; urged them, as far as possible, to bury the past, and cultivate kind relations for the future; to all of which they promised a cheerful compliance.

    Leaving Osawattomie, crossed the Marais des Cygnes. This river empties into the Missouri about ten miles below Jefferson City, after receiving in its course the Potawattomie, Bull's Creek, Sugar Creek, and other respectable streams. After a brisk ride of about nine miles, over a rich and beautiful country, occasionally enlivened by the flight of immense numbers of prairie fowl, Bull's Creek was crossed, and an encampment formed at the town of Paoli, the government seat of Douglas County. The town consists of thirteen houses and a good hotel, recently built, and is located upon land belonging to an intelligent Indian of the Peoria tribe, named Baptiste. He resides at this place, and is interpreter for the Peorias, Kaskaskias, Peankeshaws and Weaws, recently united under treaty by name of the Weaws. These tribes number about three hundred souls, fifty of whom reside at Paoli. The land is apportioned among them by treaty, according to the number of each family, Baptiste having received two entire sections for special services. The Baptist Mission school, under the charge of Dr. Lykens, assisted by three white teachers, is about a mile and a half from Paoli. The school is for the education of Indian children, about thirty of whom are in daily attendance. General Maxwell McCaslin, formerly of Pennsylvania, is the agent for these tribes, and is very generally respected. Their lands possess great beauty, and are very fertile, and sufficiently well timbered.

    Henry Sherman, or Dutch Henry, as he was called, lived in this vicinity on the Potawattomie. He was a pro-slavery man, and disposed to be quarrelsome. A short time previous to the governor's visit, Henry was staying at the house of a Mrs. Totten, with the body of his brother who had just died, when he was called upon by three men, with blackened faces, and ordered to quit the country instantly. Upon soliciting time to bury his brother, he was given until the following night. They took away his horse and ordered him not to remove any of his cattle. Henry was waylaid and killed in March, 1857, by a party of men, simply for his money, of which he had collected a considerable amount.

     21st.--Previous to leaving Paoli, the governor delivered a speech at a public meeting, embracing a large number of citizens and neighbors, so effectually as to elicit repeated evidences of approbation, and upon concluding was greeted with enthusiastic cheers, and general and hearty pledges of co-operation and support. He then commissioned a justice of the peace and several other officers, thus affording the citizens the immediate means of settling their own disputes and difficulties.

    Leaving Paoli, returned via Osawattomie, and crossing the Potawattomie, proceeded up the valley of that creek about eight miles, to the scene of many past disturbances and of the Potawattomie murders. The route along the Potawattomie was through a fertile region well timbered. The woods abounded with wild turkeys, the creek with geese and ducks, and the prairies with grouse. The scenery was remarkably beautiful and picturesque.

     22d.--Travelled all day through a drenching rain. Crossed South Middle Creek, and Big Sugar Creek, and encamped at night on the south side of the last-named stream, near the house of Mr. Means.

     23d.--Early this morning the neighbors having assembled, they listened with evident satisfaction to a spirited address from Governor Geary. Travelled over a delightful country, ten miles to Sugar Mound. Deputations of citizens joined the party at various points on the road, and accompanied it to the place named. Here, in anticipation of the governor's coming, a large number of persons had already assembled. After addressing these, and receiving universal assurances of their approbation and concurrence, he proceeded on his journey, and encamped late in the evening on Little Sugar Creek, three miles south of Sugar Mound. Here, as elsewhere, the whole neighborhood thronged to see, hear, and converse with the governor--to state their grievances and their wishes, and receive instruction and encouragement. These interchanges of views and feelings between the executive and the people were evidently working a most beneficial effect. The settlers seemed universally satisfied that impartial justice would be done them, so far as the governor possessed any power.

    This region of country, which is pretty generally settled by free-state men, is equal in value to any in the territory. About Sugar Mound the land is high and open, and unsurpassed in regard to its fertility. Little Sugar Creek winds round the Mound in a sort of semicircle. There is an abundance of fine timber, consisting principally of oak, hickory, walnut, sugar-maple, &c., and the sides of the hills reveal large quarries of most excellent building stone. Beyond this, a rich undulating prairie stretches out as far as the eye can reach. The settlers in this section are prosperous and contented. They value their claims, (one hundred and sixty acres,) upon which the improvements are of little account, from eight to twelve hundred dollars. Maple sugar is manufactured to a considerable extent, and sells readily at twenty cents per pound. Mr. Temple Wayne, during the past year, produced six hundred pounds, which he sold at that price. The soil is capable of yielding as much and as good hemp, corn, rye, wheat, or any of the agricultural products, as any in the United States.

     24th.--The tents were struck at an early hour and the company about to move, when two messengers hastily arrived, announcing that a robbery and murder had been committed the night previous in the rear on Sugar Creek, and that the perpetrators, numbering seven or eight men, were still in the neighborhood threatening other outrages. A countermarch was instantly ordered, and at a brisk trot, the ten intervening miles were soon traversed. The scene of the outrage, which was less serious than had been represented, was the house of Judge Briscoe Davis, who was absent in Missouri. His sister, a Mrs. Cornet, and five daughters, four of them grown, were left in possession. Captain John E. Brown, Mrs. Brown, and her daughter, were on a visit to Mrs. Cornet. The robbers entered the house, and seizing Captain Brown and two of the young ladies, confined them in one room, under charge of a couple of sentinels. The remainder of the family were imprisoned together in another apartment. The house was then searched, and robbed of every article of value, consisting chiefly of one hundred and five dollars in gold, a watch, jewelry, revolver, &c. In the morning, the ruffians compelled the ladies to prepare them a breakfast, and then rode away, taking with them a valuable horse. Captain Brown made his escape during the night, and was the means of conveying information to the governor, who dispatched scouts in every direction in pursuit of the robbers, issuing, at the same time, a proclamation, offering a reward of two hundred dollars for their apprehension. Several of them were subsequently captured.

    Sunday, 25th.--A very rainy and disagreeable day. Proceeded up the Potawattomie valley, recrossed the Marais des Cygnes, passed the Baptist Mission, traversed the California road, and reached Eight Mile Creek at Centropolis, where finding plenty of wood and water, an encampment was made. The day was occupied by the governor in conversing at various points with the citizens. The community was quiet, no disturbance having occurred for more than four weeks.

     26th.--Travelled rapidly twenty-seven miles over a monotonous rolling prairie, upon which there was not a tree or shrub to break the extensive prospect. The march, however, was enlightened, as on other occasions, by a spirited hunt. A prairie wolf was started up, when a cry was raised, the hounds were quickly in pursuit, and a half-dozen horsemen followed. Away they went, now in the hollow, now dashing across the hills. The wolf was a fine fellow, and made good time, but the dogs were too much for him, and soon had him down, and the horsemen were just in time to be in at the death. These wolves are very numerous in Kansas. They are not ferocious, and are never known to attack anything but the poultry. Even the sheep appear to be unmolested by them. They prowl about the houses of the settlers at night, not hesitating to come to the very doors in search of food. After sunset, their barking, which resembles that of a small dog, may constantly be heard. Reaching One Hundred and Ten, a celebrated stopping place on the California road, for emigrants to the far west, a number of citizens called upon and had a pleasant interview with the governor. Then proceeded in a north-westerly direction on the Fort Riley road, and going twelve miles further, encamped on the head waters of the Wakarusa.

     27th.--Travelled briskly all day, and encamped at night on the head waters of the Neosha. The road is over an uninhabited and rather an inferior prairie country, along a divide between the Neosha and Wakarusa, the banks of both streams being skirted with good timber. Had several wolf-chases on the route. Flocks of brant were seen, and myriads of wild geese on the wing to more southern latitudes.

     28th.--Proceeded briskly along the same divide, the country being barren and desolate, and covered with immense quarries of white limestone. The only settlements are a few families at the crossing of Clark's Creek. Crossed the Kansas River at Riley City to Pawnee City. This was accomplished with much difficulty and even danger in consequence of a freshet from Smoky Hill Fork. Pawnee City, which was Reeder's abortive seat of government, contains two houses, whilst Riley City can boast of eight. Upon the governor's arrival in the evening at Fort Riley, a salute of fifteen guns was fired, the band discoursed most eloquent music, and other honors of the most marked and gratifying character were rendered.

     29th, 30th, 31st.--Remained at Fort Riley to recruit the horses, equip the troops, and prepare them for a winter campaign. The governor, during this time, visited all the places of interest in and about the fort, saw nearly all the families in the neighborhood, and received conclusive assurances of universal satisfaction with his administration. On the 29th, he reviewed the troops at the fort, and in the evening attended a ball, at which all the officers, their ladies, and the prominent people of the neighborhood, were present. This was a brilliant affair, and although gotten up in a region almost beyond the bounds of civilization, would have done credit, for the education, intelligence, refinement, and it may be added, delicacy and beauty of its female participants, to any community in the world. Numerous other entertainments were given, and the stay at the fort was made as comfortable and happy as could have been desired.

    Fort Riley was constructed but lately, (in 1853), at an expense of over five hundred thousand dollars to the government. It is not located in so beautiful a country as Fort Leavenworth, but its buildings are even more spacious, imposing, and comfortable. It is in latitude 39° 03' 38" N., longitude 96° 24' 56" W., at an elevation of nine hundred and twenty-six feet above the Gulf of Mexico, and at the mouth of the Republican Fork on the Kansas River, one hundred and ten miles from its junction with the Missouri.

    November 1st.--Left Fort Riley en route for Lecompton. Crossed the river with great difficulty at Pawnee, and encamped at Riley City, where the governor was visited, as usual, by numerous citizens.

    Sunday, 2d.--Weather cold and rainy. Passing down the Kansas, crossed Clark's Creek, about four miles from Riley, then over some high barren hills, into a valley of surprising richness and fertility, in which there are large quantities of fine timber. This valley is admirably adapted for the construction of a railroad, as no grading would be required for many miles; while stone, as well as timber, exists in great abundance. Wild turkeys were plenty, and in consequence, perhaps, of the rain and cold were so dull and stupid as to be shot with pistols. Encamped on the south side of the Kansas, opposite Manhattan. A congregation had assembled at that place to hear preaching by the Rev. Charles E. Blood, who learning of the approach of the governor, adjourned the meeting, and with other gentlemen, crossed the river in a small boat to invite him over to Manhattan to address the citizens in his stead. The reverend gentleman said that the obligations of religion could not be properly discharged unless peace and order were preserved, and he assured his excellency that a few words of advice and encouragement from him at that particular period would be of more service than any sermon he could utter. The governor complied with this request, and spoke for a long while to the people with much feeling and power; and the meeting, doubtless, resulted in doing great good. Manhattan is situated at the junction of the Big Blue with the Kansas river. The military road from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Riley and Laramie passes through this place. The Big Blue is a clear stream, differing in that respect very materially from the Kansas, and is one hundred and fifty yards wide and fifteen deep. Buffalo-fish and cat-fish, with other varieties, are found here. Deer, prairie-chickens, wild turkeys, &c., abound in the surrounding country. The town is located in a valley of great fertility, and contains about one hundred and fifty inhabitants, who are generally moral, intelligent, and industrious, and who took no part whatever in the recent disturbances. The town contains a steam saw and grist mill, three stores, and a hotel.

     4th.--A snow storm, the first of the season, which occurred on the 3d, kept the party in camp all that day, where they were visited by many of the settlers. The weather to-day was cold and windy. Travelled down the Kansas valley, the governor visiting the citizens on the route. The people were quietly pursuing their ordinary vocations, and everything indicated peace and increasing prosperity. Encamped for the night at an old Indian camping ground on Mulberry Creek, where was an abundance of wood, water, and grass.

     5th.--Entered the Potawattomie reserve, and tavelling rapidly, crossed Mill Creek, a beautiful clear stream, abounding in fish, and afterwards Mission Creek, and encamped for the night at the Baptist Mission. The Potawattomie reserve embraces a fertile district, on both sides of the Kansas River, thirty miles square. The tribe numbers about three thousand six hundred persons. They have a thriving town called Uniontown, and two missions; the St. Mary's, the Catholic, being on the north, and the Baptist on the south side of the river. This last is under the superintendence of Mr. Fox. About thirty Indian children are in daily attendance at the school, some of whom exhibit considerable aptness in learning.

     6th.--The governor issued the following proclamation:--
    "Having reached this point, after an extended tour of observation through this territory, and being now fully satisfied that the benign influences of peace reigns throughout all its borders, in consonance with general custom and my own feelings, I hereby specially set apart the 20th day of November, instant, to be observed by all the good citizens of the territory as a day of general thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God for the blessings vouchsafed to us a people."

    Proceeded to Topeka, where the people were quiet and the town prospering. Eighty new buildings were being erected. Business was in a healthy condition, and all the citizens were attending to their proper avocations. Passing through Tecumseh, Big Springs, Washington, and other smaller places, and calling at the encampment of United States troops stationed near that place, the governor reached his own residence at Lecompton late in the evening, having been absent just twenty days, during which time he visited hundreds of families, addressed many assemblies of citizens, conducted considerable official business, and laid the foundations of peace, contentment, good will and prosperity in the whole line of his travel. On the day after his return he addressed the following letter to the secretary of state:--

                    "Executive Department, K. T.,
                        "Lecompton, Nov. 7, 1856.
            "Secretary of State.
    "Sir: I have just returned to this place after an extended tour of observation through a large portion of this territory.
    "I left Lecompton on the 17th ult., via Lawrence, Franklin, Wakarusa Creek, Hickory Point, Ottawa Creek, Osawattomie, Marais des Cygnes, Bull Creek, Paoli, Potawattomie, North and South Middle Creeks, Big and Little Sugar Creeks, and Sugar Mound, passing westward along the California and Santa Fe road to Fort Riley; thence down the Kansas River via Pawnee, Riley City, Manhattan, Waubonsee, Baptist Mission, Topeka, Tecumseh, and other places. I also visited at their houses as many citizens as I conveniently could and addressed various bodies of people, as I have reason to believe with beneficial results.
    "During this tour I have obtained much valuable information relative to affairs in Kansas, and made myself familiar with the wants and grievances of the people, which will enable me to make such representations to the next legislature and the government at Washington, as will be most conducive to the public interests .
    "The general peace of the territory remains unimpaired; confidence is being gradually and surely restored; business is resuming its ordinary channels; citizens are preparing for winter; and there is a readiness among the good people of all parties to sustain my administration.
                    "Very respectfully, your obed't servt.,
                          "JNO. W. GEARY,
                      "Governor of Kansas Territory."


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