Doy, John, Rescue of.In 1859 Dr. John Doy, a free-state man, was arrested near Lawrence, and carried to St. Joseph, Mo., where he was tried upon the charge of abducting slaves from that state. He was convicted and sentenced to the penitentiary for five years. Doy's friends all knew that the charges were false, as he had not been in Missouri for some time prior to the escape of the slaves, and Maj. James B. Abbott organized a party of ten men to rescue the doctor from the jail at St. Joseph. The rescuing party consisted of James B. Abbott, Silas Soule, Joseph Gardiner, Charles Doy, two men named Lennox and Hayes, Thomas Simmons, Joshua A. Pike, John F. Stewart and S. J. Willis. They assembled at Lawrence and from there by different routes, in order to avoid attention, went quietly to Elwood, a town opposite St. Joseph, where they arranged a plan of action. As all the men were total strangers in Elwood and St. Joseph they proceeded with great caution. The only man who knew of their mission was Dr. Grant, the editor of the free-state paper, who proved a valuable friend and rendered assistance. When mingling with the people of the two towns some of the men of the rescuing party represented themselves as miners, others as men from the east on their way to the mines and when meeting each other acted as strangers.
Several plans of rescue were discussed, and finally they determined to break into the jail by force. It was necessary to inform the prisoner of this plan and Silas Soule represented himself as coming from Doy's wife. He was admitted to the jail and delivered his message. With him Soule carried a note saying, "tonight at twelve o'clock," wrapped with a piece of twine and by diverting the attention of the jailer managed to throw this behind him upon the floor of Doy's cell. That night a small stone attached to the string hanging from Doy's window apprised the party that he was ready. Soule reported that it would take at least three hours to break into the jail, showing that such a plan was quite impractical; so the men decided to take a prisoner to jail upon the charge of horse stealing. The day was one of driving rain, but the men familiarized themselves with the streets and the different routes to the river where two boats had been secured, for the jail was in the heart of the town. At 10 o'clock p. m. Maj. Abbott assigned the men their positions and told each what he was to do. Simmons was chosen for the thief. His wrists were apparently bound by heavy thongs of buffalo hide, but in the hollow of his right hand, attached to the thong, he held a leaden egg, which was an excellent weapon in the hands of such a powerful man and under the desperate circumstances he would be placed during the rescue. Gardiner, a man six feet and four inches in height and proportionately powerful, and Willis, almost as strong, led the thief to the jail entrance, where they rapped. The jailer asked what was the matter and upon receiving a reply that the men had a horse thief whom they had pursued all day and captured, he said that he would be down. The jailer asked Gardiner and Willis if they had a warrant for the arrest of the thief, and upon learning that they did not, said he disliked putting Simmons in jail, but that Simmons looked like a thief and he would risk it.
The three men entered with the jailer, and Abbott slipped into the lower room to hear what followed as well as to be ready to render assistance. The jailer unlocked the door of the cell, but Simmons refused to enter, saying: "I won't go in there among niggers," a signal previously agreed upon. The jailer said the negroes were on the floor below and opened the door where Doy was confined. Gardiner inquired where the negro abductor was and the jailer replied, "Here he is." The three men then told the jailer they had come for the purpose of taking Doy with them. The jailer realized the situation but too late to close the door, being covered by the revolvers of Gardiner and Willis. He told the rescuers that if Doy was left in the jail he would get another trial, while if they carried him off he would he liable to seizure at any time. The decision was left to Doy, who said: "I will go with my friends."
Other prisoners attempted to avail themselves of the opportunity to get out, but were driven back by the Kansas men, who said that they had not come to release thieves and murderers but to free an innocent man. The rescuing party left the jail just as the theater let out. They mingled with the crowd on the street, in order to avoid attention from the police, and on reaching the river divided into two parties to reach their boats. Doy's party was even followed and watched by two policemen as they bailed out their boat. They shoved off into the stream, soon crossed the Missouri to the Kansas side, where friends met them with teams and a guide, and they were soon on their way to safety. The next night was spent at Grasshopper Falls, and on the afternoon of the second day they reached home, where friends had already learned of the success of the expedition in the St. Joseph newspapers, but the men of the party were not known. They had been followed by a posse from St. Joseph and one of the scouts overtook them, but on nearing Lawrence the Missourians turned back and the eleven men reached their destination without further pursuit. This was regarded as one of the bravest and most daring exploits of the free-state men of the territory.Pages 542-544 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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