Kansas Collection Books: The Abolitionist, by George W. Schiller

Chapter 11:
Bloodletting Continues

     With the Civil War in full swing, there was little or no law and order in the infant state of Kansas, especially along the Missouri border. Guerrilla bands from both the North and the South still roamed the countryside robbing, killing, and raiding the settlers. There was virtually no lawful protection in any area. No one was safe from violence. Northern guerilla bands raided several farm localities and arrested or captured several women and took them to be held as prisoners of war. Some of the women were wives or relatives of the Southern settlers. Others were prostitutes, girl friends, or relatives of the James brothers or the Younger brothers gang. Northern rabble-rouser Jim Lane, always in the foreground, gathered together a group of escaped Negroes and Cherokee Indians and ravaged several Missouri bushwacker campsites. The capture of the lady friends of the bushwackers ignited the flames of revenge, especially in William Quantrill. He was itching to destroy his sworn enemy, Jim Lane, and Jim’s followers. Quantrill had carried a plan in his head for some time to raid Lane's hometown, the city of Lawrence. The kidnapping of the Missouri women created support for Quantrill's plan. He gathered his forces, believing this was his opportunity to make his name famous. In late August 1863, Quantrill, in his bushwacker uniform of a buckskin shirt with two pistols stuck in his belt, gathered together over four hundred Border Ruffians and headed for Lawrence. He ordered a forced march across the Kansas border, crossing under the noses of the Federal garrison who dared not attack him with only one hundred troops. Scouts routed out sleepy farmers to guide them across the countryside during the night and then shot them to death when their usefulness ended. It was a bloodthirsty gang.

thin black divider line
Page 113

     At dawn Quantrill halted his raiders in a shady grove and gave them their last instructions. His final words were, “Kill every man and burn every house.” They entered Lawrence early that morning and the raiding and killing began. By nine o’clock, the raiders had completed their slaughter and destruction, leaving 183 men dead and a million dollars in looting and damage to the town of Lawrence. Jim Lane successfully hid in a cornfield during the raid. After the raiders left, Lane attempted to organize a pursuit party. There were not enough men left alive. The flames of war burned higher.

     The word of Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence spread across the countryside and aroused even more retaliation. Albert was especially distressed. Some of his friends and relatives lived either in or near Lawrence. He could only guess whether they had survived. Rumors were flying and truthful reports were difficult to obtain. The matter of slavery became enmeshed in the turmoil of bitter warfare hysteria, often pitting brother against brother on the battlefield. All efforts to effect a compromise between the Confederate states and the Northern states by Lincoln and Congress failed. Eleven Confederate states seceded from the Union. Early in the war, abolitionists and military leaders urged Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves.

     Lincoln felt that the North did not enter the war to free the slaves, but to reunite the nation after the secession of the Confederate states. Lincoln also felt that to declare the slaves free would tend to further divide the four border slave-owning states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri, although Missouri was the major source of Kansas’ problems. Congress finally passed a law freeing all Confederate slaves who came to the Union military lines. Later, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and it strengthened the Union cause as predicted. The Proclamation also aided the

thin black divider line
Page 114

North’s war efforts and, by the end of the war, many thousands of slaves had fled to freedom behind Northern lines and could now serve in the Northern military forces.

     Theoretically, the war ended in 1864 and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution became law in December 1865. The Amendment supposedly ended slavery in all parts of the nation but did not end the hostilities. In 1865, General Sherman issued an executive order authorizing ex-slaves to claim abandoned land in some Southern states. Also in 1865, Congress established the Freedman’s Bureau that promised to lease 40-acre tracts to ex-slaves and loyal white refugees. These acts did not set well with the defeated Southern slave owners. Efforts to rebuild the South were met with distrust and bitterness on all sides.

     Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865, and Andrew Johnson became President. Johnson offered amnesty to most Confederate plantation owners to reclaim their land from Freedmen in order to rebuild their plantations. “Colored Conventions” developed throughout the South and Negroes protested some of the restrictions and demanded full civil rights. Freed slaves began building schools and churches. In February 1866, Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights act and the extension of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Congress overrode both vetoes. In some respects the Reconstruction Period in the South was nearly as painful as the war itself.

     The sentiments at Barrett’s Mill were divided to some degree. Several of the settlers had friends or relatives living Marysville, the hotbed of slavery proponents, and in many instances long time friends became so embittered by the war efforts that they became enemies. Albert often lay awake at night wishing that some of the long-standing Quaker philosophy of passive resistance could replace violence and bloodshed. Would Barrett’s Mill become embroiled in an extended shooting war at this late date? He just didn’t know!

thin black divider line
Page 115

Pony Express poster     Communications were slow and unreliable. Russell, Majors and Waddel, a large freighting company in Leavenworth, established a faster means of spreading the news across the nation. It was called the Pony Express. A series of youthful riders were recruited to carry the nation’s mail across the West from St. Joe, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, in seven days or less. These young riders would ride in relays to deliver packets of mail through all kinds of weather, hostile Indian Territory, and dangerous terrain. It was a rather glorious adventure and caught the attention of the new western states as a premiere of things yet to come. The mail service started April 3, 1860, and ran to deliver Lincoln’s inaugural address to Sacramento in March 1861, in seven days and eighteen hours.

     It was the development of the railroads with their miles and miles of telegraph wires that spelled the doom of the Pony Express service. It soon folded and left the parent company with huge debts and only memories for those who participated in the historic event. The building of the nation’s railroads began at the Missouri River and expanded westward. About the same time big money on the West Coast began building east from California. The two rail lines joined in Utah to complete the trans-continental rail link across the nation.

     The Civil War followed six long and wearisome years of border warfare in Kansas Territory, adding to the suffering of the new settlers. Border Ruffians from Missouri roamed the Kansas Territory spreading violence and terror to settlers and stuffing ballot boxes to steal elections to put slave-stators in public office. Many wondered how much longer they could endure the strife, adversities and bloodshed. Some turned back and went home. Those who stayed rejoiced at the news of the cease-fire edict.

thin black divider line
Page 116

     The great conflict wound down in the late 1860s and the nation not only breathed a huge sigh of relief, it began to slowly return to normal. In tracing down the major principals in the blood-letting in Kansas, one can find ex-Senator and self-styled Kickapoo Ranger, David Atchison, for whom the town was named, spending his declining years uneventfully in Texas. He had been a powerful leader in the U. S. Senate and was elected six terms as President Pro-Tem of that august body. In his later years he could be found hoeing in his garden. He would not discuss or participate in politics, nor would he discuss his role in bleeding Kansas. The most vivid of all the war characters, Jim Lane, survived the war better than the peace. He became aligned with the Reconstruction movement in the South. When he came back to Kansas, the radical machine turned against him. Lane could no longer command a crowd with his fluent oratory. He lost self-confidence and lapsed into despondency and finally shot himself in the head. He survived his wound for ten days but then died, on July 11, 1866.

     Mysterious old John Brown acquired a reputation for initiating raids into Missouri to rescue abolitionists or murder Missouri bushwhackers. Brown showed up in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, trying to foment a Negro insurrection and raid the Federal arsenal for weapons. He was struck down by swords and sabers and arrested by Marines. Dragged before the commanding officers, he was recognized as the infamous Osawatomie Brown and was questioned at great length. He insisted that he had done no wrong but that the Southern officers were wrong to support slavery. Questioning attempted to connect Brown with a shipment of Sharps rifles sent by the Emigrant Aid Society. Brown denied the charge but the word was out that would implicate Eli Thayer,

thin black divider line
Page 117

Gerritt Smith, and other northern humanitarians, along with Brown. Various pleas of insanity and incompetence failed to prevent the hanging of John Brown for insurrection. He maintained his personal dignity and decorum to the gallows.

     Southern General Price’s defeat ended organized Southern resistance west beyond Missouri. However, guerilla warfare and bushwhacking continued for some time yet. William Quantrill, still engaged in raiding the countryside, hatched a plan to top his Lawrence raid.

     He would ride to Washington and assassinate President Lincoln. Gathering a handful of fellow renegades, disguised in uniforms of the Missouri Mounted Cavalry and, with forged identification papers, they rode east. The news of Lincoln’s assassination ended their trek. The disappointed guerrillas celebrated with a week-long drinking spree. The band later encountered a skirmish with Federal troops and Quantrill was wounded and suffered for nearly three weeks before he passed on. Kansas was still bleeding even after the war had supposedly ended. Many of the greatest contributors to the era of Bleeding Kansas passed on to their death with much less attention than many of them hoped for. If there was a positive contribution to their infamous acts, it was that surviving the savagery required a strong breed of men and women. The survivors produced a hardy breed of people known as Kansans, or sometimes Jayhawkers. With the ending of the Civil War, the nation was preoccupied in binding up its wounds and resuming normal life.

     One of the first acts of the new Kansas state legislature was to establish 33 original counties in the new state. Marshall County was one of the original counties and was on the western side of the new state. The next county west was

thin black divider line
Page 118

named Arapahoe and it extended to the summit of the Rocky Mountains. This enormous county lasted only until the next legislature changed to the present boundaries of the state of Kansas.

     Partisan politics developed early in Marshall County. The first natural political differences occurred long before Kansas became a state in 1861. These political divisions were originally based on the slavery issues. However, as the war progressed, the slavery question became engulfed in bitter rivalry and hatred. Slavery became a secondary issue, submerged in hard feelings and strife. . After the state was formed, a running feud between Frankfort and Marysville developed over the location of the county seat.

     The settlement in the Vermillion Valley brought a wide variety of people together in the early settlement days. The settlers came from many countries such as England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, and even Switzerland. They banded together for companionship and protection from the elements, the Indians, the outlaws, and predators, but became widely separated in their political views. Names of some of the early families recorded were the Leavitts, Barretts, Wells, Aulds, Haskins, Smiths, Farrants, Parthermers, Rebs, Sages, Walkers, Trospers, Radcliffs, and many others. Schools, churches, and roads were built. A road from Barrett’s Mill on the Oregon Trail to Marysville on the Military Road out of Ft. Leavenworth, was built and arrangements were made to have it maintained properly to handle the heavy traffic. In due time the rivers were all bridged at the various fords to connect the various communities. The settlers agreed on the need for material improvements but remained divided on their political choices.

thin black divider line
Page 119

     Albert’s sawmill was kept busy with the demand for lumber to build houses, businesses, bridges, and barns. Several rock quarries were opened up to produce some very fine building stone. After several disastrous fires destroyed homes and businesses, limestone blocks became popular for construction. The old wooden mill building that served for many years was not adequate for both the sawmill and the gristmill. Albert had another building of cut limestone blocks built for the gristmill. He then added bolting silks purchased from Switzerland and other equipment to make wheat flour as well as corn meal. The newer limestone building had a Masonic emblem imbedded on the front of the building. Albert was active in the Masonic lodge and used the emblem as a pledge to the lodge. He became so involved in numerous activities; he found little time to properly attend to the milling operations. He finally sold the mill to G. W. Moffat to allow himself free time to pursue his many other interests.

     With the coming of the railroads came the telegraph, which opened up a whole new means of communications. Now the news could be spread across the nation daily. Not only did the railroads revolutionize transportation, they created new jobs and positions for the younger generations of the new West. The railroads required engineers, firemen, trainmen, telegraph operators, station agents, and maintenance personnel. Albert viewed the industrialization with a jaundiced eye. He was wise enough to recognize the potential of the movement and what it might mean to Barrett’s Mill.

     The settlers still depended on wild game to a certain extent. The younger men often went west beyond Concordia to hunt buffalo. Good Pillsbury, Jim Bradford, Will Smith, Will Barrett, and Jim Wilson went hunting along the Republican River to the west. There were still several Indian tribes living there that resented the white men hunting their buffalo. The hunters shot several buffalo and were headed home when the Indians

thin black divider line
Page 120

began to chase them. They successfully eluded the Indians, although one of the party jumped into the Republican River and hid until the danger was passed. The party had quite a scare but returned home safely.

     Albert loved to visit with many of his old friends of by-gone years. On one occasion he was visiting with some of the old-time settlers and they conceived the idea of forming an old-timers association. With the help of some friends, they formed the Marshall County Old Settler’s Association. It was customary to hold the countywide Fourth of July picnic in the Barrett grove. It was during one of these picnics that the Association was formed. Albert was elected President of the Association and served several years. Other friends from across the county such as D. C. Auld, William Thompson, William Paul, Thomas McCoy, Frederich Hamilton, Robert Smith, J. L. McHessy, and J. S. Mcgill were charter members. The Association held its first meeting at the grove in 1879. These meetings continued until 1916, many years after many of the original founders were gone from this earth.

     For a number of years the village of Barrett continued to grow and prosper. The constant traffic along the Oregon-California Trail was steady and continuous as the civilization migrated westward to settle. However, the coming of the railroads changed the expansion. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad followed the Santa Fe Trail to the Southwest and in a rather short time took over both the rail and passenger traffic. The Union Pacific railroad followed the wagon trails west to Salt Lake and on to California and absorbed the traffic in that direction. The north-south Union Pacific line followed the Oregon-California Trail from Topeka to Lincoln, a few miles to the east of Barrett through Frankfort and Marysville. The Central Branch railroad came through Barrett’s Mill but ended a few miles west at Waterville and never did

thin black divider line
Page 121

become a transcontinental railroad. As a result Frankfort and Marysville continued to show growth in population and industry while Barrett remained static.

     In 1871, there was a hotly contested county election involving stolen ballot boxes and rigged election figures. Marysville was declared the county seat, despite strong protest from both Frankfort and Blue Rapids. Although Marysville finally was declared the county seat, their problems were far from over. There was no regular courthouse for the county government. A building that belonged to the Southern Methodists and had been used as a horse stable was rented as temporary housing until 1874, when a contract was let to build a courthouse. The building was completed and used for the next sixteen years.

     In 1890, the courthouse mysteriously burned to the ground. Some of the county records were in a vault and saved, but many were lost. A $500 reward was posted but there was no response and no guilty parties were apprehended. Rumors floated freely that persons from Frankfort were seen the night of the fire. Officials from the Marysville city council presented the county commissioners with a proposal to raise $40,000 to build a new courthouse. The offer was accepted and the new courthouse was built, but raised much criticism from the public. It took the county commissioners of Marshall County 50 years to pay off the indebtedness on that courthouse.

     It was with considerable reluctance that Albert agreed to run for County Treasurer. The actions of those in the Marysville government left Albert dubious about entering the political fray. He finally arranged his affairs and agreed to run for the office in 1878. He was elected and served two terms until 1882.

     The position required him to be in Marysville a part of every week, which involved staying at the American Hotel that brother William had built. Albert appointed his youngest

thin black divider line
Page 122

son Cyrus as Assistant County Treasurer and later employed his daughter Phebe as a clerk in the office. Albert’s business sense became a valuable asset to the rapidly growing Marshall County. He initiated numerous bookkeeping innovations to assist in keeping accurate records of the county’s expenditures. His levelheaded approach to managing the county money matters won him respect from the citizens of the county, but often to the displeasure of the Marysville politicians. Cyrus, with his keen mind and mathematical knowledge, was a great asset in keeping accurate books. Daughter Phebe’s fair tresses and good looks attracted the attention of a number of young men who came into the Treasurer’s office to pay their taxes. One young farmer named George VanVliet from the village of Vliets came in to pay the taxes on his father’s farm. After transacting his business, he stayed around for some little time to chat with Phebe. Their relationship blossomed and grew into a romance. Phebe and George were married on July 30th in 1884.

     George and Phebe purchased a farm northeast of Frankfort and lived there for several years. In Albert and Mary’s declining years, George and Phebe moved back to Barrett to be near her parents. They lived in the old Barrett home for a number of years, always mindful of the flooding possibility. After both Albert and Mary passed away, and the disastrous flood of 1908, the decision was made to move the old home to higher ground. In 1910 this move was completed and the old home was completely remodeled. George and Phebe lived there until George passed away in 1926.

     Phebe, always mindful of her rich heritage, would take visitors several yards east of the old house and point out the ruts made by the Oregon Trail wagons moving from Westmoreland to Barrett’s Mill. In the 1930s, she established the Arthur Barrett chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), in honor of her illustrious ancestor.

thin black divider line
Page 123

     As matron of the newly established chapter, she arranged to have memorial monument erected at the point where the Pike’s Peak Trail intersected the Oregon Trail at Barrett’s Mill. Years later when the Tuttle Creek Reservoir was built, the monument was vandalized and the plaque stolen. Still later the red granite stone was moved to the city park in Frankfort where is still resides. Efforts to restore the monument have failed so far. Phebe spent her declining years living with her daughter Elizabeth and Frank Haskin. She passed away in 1951 and is buried in the Barrett cemetery near her parents.

light blue 3-D divider line

Go to the previous chapter     Go to the next chapter     Return to table of contents