Samuel J. Crawford

HON. SAMUEL J. CRAWFORD, ex-Governor of Kansas and a distinguished lawyer, whose portrait accompanies this sketch, has a beautiful country home in section 6, township 35, range 25, in Garden township. Cherokee County, Kansas. He was born in Lawrence County, Indiana, near Bedford, April 10, 1835, and is a son of William and Jane (Morrow) Crawford.

Mr. Crawford's ancestors were Scotch-Irish and came to America at an early period in the colonial days. His paternal grandfather served in the Revolution as a soldier from North Carolina, and his maternal grandfather was a planter in the same State. His father, William Crawford, migrated to Indiana in 1815, when it was a Territory, locating in Lawrence County, where he successfully farmed. Although he was born, reared and educated in a slave State, he had an unconquerable prejudice to the institution of slavery, and therefore sought a home in the territory northwest of the Ohio, where slavery and involuntary servitude had been forever prohibited.

Samuel J. Crawford as reared on his father's farm and attended the common schools and also an academy at Bedford. At the age of 21 years, he became a student-at-law in the office of Hon. S. W. Short of Bedford, Indiana, where he continued until the fall of 1857, when he entered the Law School of Cincinnati College, from which he was graduated in 1858. In March, 1859, he came to Kansas Territory and located at Garnett, the county seat of Anderson County, where he engaged in the practice of his profession. He was elected a member of the first State Legislature, convened at Topeka, March 27, 1861. The swiftly following events of secession thrilled loyal Kansas to the very core, and Mr. Crawford, responding to the call of President Lincoln in 1861 for 75,000 volunteers, resigned his seat in the Legislature, returned home and recruited a company, of which he was chosen captain. This company, designated as Company E, was assigned to the 2d Regiment, Kansas Vol. Inf., and mustered into the United States service. He participated under gallant General Lyon in the battle of Wilson's Creek and various other battles of the campaign in Missouri fought during the summer of 1861. As it had suffered severe losses, the regiment was ordered home to Kansas and reorganized in the winter of 1861-62 as the 2d Regiment, Kansas Vol. Cav. Captain Crawford was assigned to command of Company A and was soon thereafter given command of a battalion. He participated with the regiment in the battles of Newtonia, Old Fort Wayne, Cane Hill, Prairie Grove and other engagements fought by General Blunt during the Trans-Mississippi campaign of 1862. In these engagements he developed extraordinary ability as a cavalry leader and was complimented in general orders for his gallant services at Old Fort Wayne, Cane Hill and Prairie Grove. In, March, 1863, although holding the rank of captain, he was assigned to command of the 2d Regiment, Kansas Vol. Cav., and led the regiment in the campaign of that year through the Indian Territory and Western Arkansas, which resulted in the engagements at Perryville, Backbone Mountain and the capture of Fort Smith by the Federals. The 2d Regiment covered itself with glory in these memorable campaigns. In October, 1863, Captain Crawford was promoted colonel of the 83d United States Colored Infantry and with his regiment accompanied General Steele on the Shreveport (Louisiana) expedition, which moved southward in March, 1864, from Fort Smith and Little Rock and co-operated with General Banks in his Red River campaign, participating in the battles of Prairie D'Ane and Saline River. At the latter engagement Colonel Crawford charged and captured a battery, which his men brought off by hand, their horses having been killed or disabled. After this battle he returned with the 7th Army Corps to Little Rock, and thence, with the Kansas Division under the command of General Thayer, to Fort Smith, Arkansas. In July, 1864, Colonel Crawford commanded an expedition that was sent into the Choctaw Nation in pursuit of the Rebel general, Standwattie, whom he routed.

On September 8, 1864, Colonel Crawford was nominated as Republican candidate for Governor of Kansas. Obtaining leave of absence, he returned to Kansas, arriving at Fort Scott on October 9th. There he learned that a heavy body of Rebels under General Price was moving westward through Central Missouri with the design of devastating Kansas. He hastened to Kansas City, arriving there October 17th, reported to General Curtis, commanding the Federal forces there assembling to resist General Price, and was assigned to duty as a volunteer aide. A few days later the battle of the Blue, Westport and Mine creeks were fought, and at the last named engagement Colonel Crawford ordered and participated in a charge of two brigades of cavalry that resulted in capturing the Confederate generals, Marmaduke and Cabell, 500 prisoners and eight pieces of artillery. This battle closed his military career in the Civil War, having participated in all battles fought west of the Mississippi River, with the exception of Pea Ridge. On April 13, 1865, he was promoted by the President of the United States to the rank of brigadier-general, by brevet, for meritorious services in the field.

On November 7, 1864, General Crawford was elected Governor, and in 1866 was chosen for a second term. Governor Crawford and his friend, Governor Holbrook, of Vermont, are the only two of the war Governors that now survive. During his service as Governor, he reorganized and consolidated the volunteer regiments in Kansas and secured the enactment of new laws under which the State militia was placed on a sure footing for the protection of the people against Rebel invasions and Indian incursions. He devoted much of his time to the establishment and maintenance of the various State institutions and on his retirement from office left the Deaf, Mute, Blind and Insane asylums, the State University, the Agricultural College and the State Normal School in successful operation.

During 1867-68 hostile bands of Indians hovered on the borders of Kansas, driving back the incoming settlers, checking the construction of railroads and threatening to cut off communication between Kansas and the Western States and Territories. For two years an Indian war of savage barbarity was carried on. Many settlers were killed and scalped, property destroyed, women and children outraged and others carried into captivity to suffer a fate worse than a thousand deaths. The Federal forces stationed on the border and State troops furnished by Governor Crawford proved inadequate. The Indians followed their usual custom of making war during the summer months and then retreated to their homes in the Indian Territory to be clothed, fed and nurtured by the government in the winter. Finally, as a culmination of the Indian outrages, in August, 1868, the settlements of Northwestern Kansas were raided by Indians, who killed and wounded some forty persons, carried women into captivity and committed other atrocities. When the terrible details of this last massacre reached Governor Crawford's ears, he proceeded at once to the scene of disaster, saw that the dead were properly buried and the wounded cared for, then returned to Topeka, organized the 19th Regiment, Kansas Vol. Cav., resigned his office as Governor, and with his regiment accompanied Custer, then lieutenant-colonel of the 7th United States Cavalry, the whole force being under the command of General Philip H. Sheridan, on the historic campaign into the interior of the wild country bordering on Texas, where the hostile tribes had always felt secure from punishment during the winter seasons. These Indians were attacked and defeated in the Washitaw Valley, in what is now Oklahoma Territory, in December, 1868, and several of the chiefs held as hostages until the captive white women were delivered up.

Governor Crawford returned home after the campaign and practiced law in Topeka. For many years he has been attorney for the Indians, and many interesting notes may be found in the State Historical Library, in his briefs. Governor Crawford is of imposing presence, standing six feet two inches in height, of Herculean form, symmetrically proportioned, and has a pair of shoulders that Atlas might fairly envy. He has a handsome residence at Washington, and also one at Topeka. His summer home is a quarter section of land in Garden township, Cherokee County, intersected by Spring River. It is beautifully situated on a hill in the southwestern part of the township, one mile north of the Indian Territory, and from its elevation can be seen the Court House at Columbus and the beautiful fields between. He has his farm well stocked with standard animals, in which he takes a pride, and also has set out a good peach orchard.

On November 27, 1866, General Crawford was united in marriage with Isabel M. Chase, an estimable and accomplished lady of Topeka, daughter of Enoch and Mary Chase of Massachusetts, where she was born. Her father was a large ship-builder of Newburyport, Massachusetts, on the Merrimac, and when he came to Kansas was one of the original five men who laid out the town of Topeka, where both he and his wife died. Our subject and his wife became the parents of two children, as follows: Florence, wife of Arthur Capper, proprietor of the Topeka Capital; and George, a graduate of Yale and at the present time proprietor of a large printing house at Topeka, publishing the Mail and Breeze. He married Hortense Kelly, a daughter of Bernard Kelly, who was chaplain in the army, and to them were born two children: George Marshall and Isabel.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, instructor from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 11/19/96.


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