Easton Expedition.In the fall of 1855 a free-state mayor was elected in Leavenworth. He became intimidated by the demonstrations at the December elections, and fearing the dissatisfaction of the people because of the hopelessness of performing his duty, resigned on Jan. 13, 1856, two days before the date fixed for the election of state officers under the Topeka constitution. The president of the council forbade the election to be held, and although no polls were opened, the election was held in an informal way by carrying the ballot box around. Some of the free-state men determined that an election should be held in the Leavenworth district free from the pro-slavery influence.
At Easton, 11 miles northwest of Leavenworth, the election had been postponed to the 17th because of the threats to break it up as had been done at Leavenworth. The election was held at the house of T. A. Minard, about a half mile from the village, and a number of Leavenworth men attended to see that the election was fair, one of them being Capt. Reese P. Brown, member-elect of the legislature. About 6 o'clock p. m. an attack was made upon the polls, which were defended by the free-state men under command of Stephen Sparks. A message was sent to Minard by the pro-slavery men, demanding the ballot box, and informing him that unless it was given up they would come for it. No disturbance occurred, however, until the next morning, when news was brought that Sparks and his son had been taken prisoners. Capt. Brown and a party started out to rescue them. On reaching the village they found Sparks and his son standing at bay in a fence corner. Sparks and his son were released, but threats were made that they would soon be recaptured. The parties had not separated before guns were fired, a pro-slavery man named Cook being killed and two free-state men slightly wounded. Brown and seven others then started for Leavenworth, but when about half way there they were met by a company of Kickapoo rangers under command of Capt. Martin and a company from Leavenworth under Capt. Dunn on their way to Easton to avenge the death of Cook. Upon being assured that they would be treated kindly, the free-state men, seeing the odds against them, gave up their arms and were taken back to Easton, where a mock trial was attempted. The soldiers became unruly, and Capt. Martin said that nothing could save Brown. All the other prisoners were released, but Brown was kept locked in a room to prevent the mob from interfering. Upon being told that the men holding the trial had decided to take Brown to Leavenworth to await his trial according to law, the mob said that he too would escape. They broke open the door where he was confined, and a man named Gilbert struck him on the head with a hatchet. He was dragged out of doors, stabbed and hacked from head to foot, and finally thrown in a wagon, in which he was jolted over the frozen ground to his home, where he died. Brown was a prominent free-state man, he had previously taken part in the defense of Lawrence and was feared by the pro-slavery men.Pages 559-560 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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