Marais des Cygnes, Massacre of.As early as 1856 trouble arose between the free-state and pro-slavery settlers in Linn county, when a large body of southerners marched through the county destroying the little property there was and capturing the free-state settlers who were not fortunate enough to get out of the way. One of the men who escaped, although vigorously pursued, was James Montogomery, who became the acknowledged leader of the free-state men in the county. Various outrages continued until 1857, when Gen. Lane assembled a company to intimidate the pro-slavery men of Linn county and the adjoining counties of Missouri. He established headquarters at Mound City and for a time quelled the forays, but after his force was disbanded trouble broke out afresh and it was then that James Montgomery (q. v.) took the field in defense of the frightened free-state settlers, and ordered the pronounced leaders of the pro-slavery party out of the county. Many of them obeyed the summons and moved with their families to Missouri.
Around Trading Post, on the Marais de Cygnes river in Linn county, a bitter pro-slavery settlement had grown up, the leader of which was Charles Hamelton. The post thus became the rendezvous of the abolition haters not only for the immediate vicinity but for the territory across the line. Montgomery determined to break up this gang. He began by emptying the contents of several barrels of whiskey on hand at the "doggery," and leaving a notice for the ruffians to quit Kansas Territory. Hamelton and some of his neighbors left the territory. Subsequently they called a meeting at Papinsville to incite the men to an invasion of Kansas. Hamelton addressed the meeting and with a unanimous vote it was decided to invade the territory at once. A band was organized to exterminate the free-state settlers in Linn county.
When the party arrived at the line between Missouri and Kansas a halt was ordered to make final arrangements. One of the men named Barlow, who had spoken against the invasion at the meeting, again did so, and this time with better effect. They were on the border of the hated but also dreaded Kansas, and Barlow assured them that the crack of the Sharpe's rifles might be expected from Montgomery's men at any minute. A panic seemed imminent, but at the summons of Hamelton about 30 of the most resolute rode after their leader and reached the post on the morning of May 19, 1858, where they captured one man and then proceeded on the road toward Westport, capturing three more on the way. The next capture was Austin Hall and his brother Amos. In all 11 men were taken prisoners, nearly all of whom were known to Hamelton or some member of his party. They were not known to have taken any active part in the disputes, and having been neighbors of Hamelton they had no suspicion that he meant to harm them, especially as they were guilty of no offense but that of being free-state men. The 11 victims were driven at a rapid pace into a deep gorge, where they were lined up facing east. Hamelton then ordered his men to form in front of them and fire. One of the men turned out of the line and refused to do so, but Hamelton brought the remainder into line and fired the first shot himself. Six of the victims were not killed and the men fired at them again. One man, Austin Hall, was not touched, but feigned death and thus escaped. The dead were carried to the Trading Post and the wounded cared for. The State of Kansas later appropriated $1,000 for a memorial monument, which has been erected at the Trading Post, beneath which rest the ashes of Colpetzer, Campbell, Ross and Robinson. The body of Stilwell was taken to Mound City for burial.Pages 221-223 from volume II 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 July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
J | K | L | Mc | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Background and KSGenWeb logo were designed and are copyrighted by
Tom & Carolyn Ward
for the limited use of the KSGenWeb Project.
Permission is granted for use only on an official KSGenWeb page.
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project