One-Way Ticket to Kansas, the autobiography of Frank M. Stahl, as told and illustrated by Margaret Whittemore. University of Kansas Press, 1959. Transcribed by John D. Meredith
[Introductory comments by the transcriber
Frank Stahl's autobiography has always had a special interest for me since he was my great grandfather. His documented exploits have made him a minor celebrity in our family, although he died in 1937 and few of us had the chance to know him first-hand. The book was published more than 20 years after his death and, as Margaret Whittemore notes, was based in part on existing notes. It is not certain when those notes were first prepared, but Connelley's Standard History of Kansas and Kansans has an entry for Frank Stahl that recapitulates in an abbreviated form many of these same events, so Frank probably already had much written down by about 1916. Other primary and secondary sources that I have seen seem to confirm almost everything he recounts. It would appear that Frank was not one to exaggerate, so it is probably reasonably safe to take most of what he wrote as accurate, always allowing for the possible vagaries of memory.
I have not included footnotes or links for other documentary or web resources since the purpose of this transcription is to recreate the appearance of the original publication. (The only things added are these introductory comments and some additional entries in the index, with the new material enclosed in brackets.) There are other printed or digital sources, though, that can be explored if one is interested. State and federal censuses confirm the existence of most of the people Frank refers to. The website for the Kansas City Public Library has some excellent resources on Kansas City in the 1850s, including photos of the Gillis Hotel. The Interactive Santa Fe Trail on the web documents many of the places mentioned in the text and provides a virtual visit to the trail. In addition, there are many printed and web sources for Civil War units and battles, as well as western military history, that confirm Frank's accounts. Territorial Kansas On-Line has letters, photographs, and documents that bring the state's early years to life. On-line and archival resources for the Kansas State Historical Society also help to complement the information provided here. I have not included links to these and other resources since URLs are liable to change over time, but supplementary material is easily located by searching the Internet.
A special word of thanks goes to my wife, Patti, and my daughter, Erika, for their eagle eyes and patience in proofreading this manuscript. It would not look as good as it does without their invaluable help.
I have always found Frank's autobiography to be a fascinating window into the nineteenth and early twentieth century, especially from the standpoint of the things he experienced and the ways he chooses to narrate them. I hope other readers find it equally informative and enjoyable.