JOHN M. DUNSMORE GRAVESTONE PHOTO
The Chanute Daily Tribune, Mar. 13, 1922
COL. J. M. DUNSMORE OF THAYER DEAD
FUNERAL SERVICES AT 3 TOMORROW
Grief Stricken, He Survives His Wife Only Eleven Days--
Helped Make Kansas History for More Than Half a Century.
Col. J. M. Dunsmore, one of the most picturesque characters in this part of the state, ticket agent and operator for the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad, now the Southern Kansas division of the Santa Fe Railroad in Thayer when Thayer was the line's southern terminal, speaker of the Populist house of representatives in the legislative war of 1893, a veteran of the Civil War and prominent in Kansas political affairs for half a century, died at his home in Thayer at three o'clock yesterday morning.
The funeral services will be held in his home at 3 o'clock tomorrow afternoon. The Masons will have charge and the address will be by County Attorney T. F. Morrison. The Thayer Masonic Hall will open at 2 o'clock as a meeting place for Masons from outside the city.
Wife Dead Eleven Days.
Colonel Dunsmore's death was caused by erysipelas. He was stricken down last Thursday, since when he was not only helpless but unconscious most of the time until the end came. His wife died March 1, last, and he survived her but eleven days, grief because of her death bringing about his fatal illness.
He is survived by his son, Oscar D. Dunsmore of this city, and four daughters, Mrs. Helen M. Tracy of Kansas City, Mo.; Mrs. Effie M. Bennett of Oxford, Kan.; Mrs. Blanche C. Hays of Arkansas City, Kan.; and Mrs. Marjorie G. Phillpott of Tulsa, Okla.
Almost 78 Years Old.
Colonel Dunsmore was almost 78 years old, having been born April 25, 1844, in Cincinnati, O. His father, Robert W. Dunsmore, was a soldier in two wars, the Florida Indian war and the Civil War. In the latter he was a bugler in Company K of the Seventh Pennsylvania cavalry and was with Buell on his retreat from Tennessee. He is among the missing of the war.
Colonel Dunsmore enlisted March 2, 1862, in Company F of the 110th Pennsylvania volunteer infantry. He served under General Shields in the valley of Virginia and afterward in the Third and Second Army Corps. At the time of his discharge he was serving in the Army of the Potomac.
His War Record.
He took part in the battle of Winchester March 23, 1862; Port Republic June 9, and Cedar Mountain August 9, when he was captured while on a detail reconnoitering the enemy's lines. He was also confined in Belle Isle, being exchanged in time to take part in the battle of Fredericksburg in December, 1862.
Following this came Chancellorsville May 2 and 3, 1863, and Gettysburg July 2 and 3, then the Campaign of the Wilderness with the third division, Hancock's corps, from May 5 to 7 1864, Spottsylvania May 12, Cold Harbor June 1, the siege of Petersburg from the night of June 15 to October 27 and the battle of Hatcher's Run, where he was wounded.
Learned Telegraphy While Wounded.
He was discharged May 3, 1865, eight days after his twenty-first birthday. In all his service covered a period of three years, two months and one day. In 1889, when his regiment dedicated its monument on the battlefield of Gettysburg, he was invited to deliver the oration, and did so, an honor rarely conferred upon a private soldier.
Following the war he attended the Quaker City College in Philadelphia and the Maryland Institute in Baltimore. He had learned telegraphy in the fall of 1864, while lying wounded in a hospital in Fairfax, VA. While he was lamenting the fact that he had no trade and that the prospects for him would be gloomy after his discharge from the army, a roommate, who was a military telegraph operator, suggested telegraphy. That night Mr. Dunsmore took his first lesson using a jackknife for a key. In about six months after his discharge the following May he had become a fair operator and during the following three years he worked in and about Baltimore, Md., mostly in connection with stock exchange business. He then worked a while for the Baltimore & Ohio railroad before coming to Kansas.
To Kansas in 1870.
In the summer of 1870 the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston, now the Southern Kansas division of the Santa Fe, was constructed from Lawrence to Garnett and was being rapidly built southward.
Mr. Dunsmore worked as operator at Garnett and Iola, then became operator for O. Chanute, superintendent, at Lawrence. In June, 1871, he became ticket agent and operator at Thayer, then the terminal point of the road, where he remained until his admission of the bar.
Admitted to Bar.
He read law as his duties to the company permitted and in August of 1872 was examined by a committee consisting of Col. C. J. Peckham of Sedan, Col. A. M. York of York Pomeroy fame and George R. Peck, afterward attorney general for the Santa Fe. Just ten years after his first day in Libby prison he began the practice of law.
He was a member of the Kansas state Republican convention in 1872 and served on its resolutions committee. In 1880 he was nominated as the Republican candidate for county attorney but was defeated by six votes. In 1882 he was elected to the state legislature, serving in the regular session of 1883 and the extra session in 1884. During these sessions the mine inspection law, the first railroad law, the cattle quarantine law, the first Australian ballot law, the coal miners' screen law and the law for the benefit of unfortunate debtors, giving eighteen months time for redeeming property sold under foreclosure were enacted.
His Political Career.
He was elected as a Republican and served part of the term on the Republican side of the house and the rest on the Democratic side. The passage of the Haskell tariff bill in 1883 was the cause of his change.
He at once became prominent as a leader in the Democratic party. He was sent as a delegate to the Third District congressional convention and was made its chairman. In 1888 he was nominated for state senator but resigned before election.
Two years later he was chairman on resolutions of the Democratic convention which endorsed the congressional candidacy of Ben Clover, Farmers' Alliance nominee, who was elected.
The Legislative War.
In 1892 he was nominated by the Democrats and Populists for representative and was elected, and as a result of which became one of the most prominent participants in the legislative war of 1893. The Republicans had a majority of the house, but the Populists claimed it had been obtained by fraud. Both parties claimed the right to organize the house. Colonel Dunsmore was elected speaker by the Populists. The Republicans elected George L. Douglas.
Both speakers occupied the same desk and during the first night they slept under the same blanket on the floor in the rear of the speaker's desk, each one with a gavel in his hand.
Governor Lewelling recognized the Dunsmore house as legal on the third day. The Republicans protested and both houses continued to sit. An arrangement was made by which one house met in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
Stormed the House.
Attempts to settle the difficulty were in vain. L. C. Gunn, a business man of Parsons, was summoned to testify in a case in the Douglas house. He refused to appear, saying the Republican house was illegal, and was arrested by a Republican sergeant-at-arms. The matter was taken before the supreme court.
Pending the decision the officers of the Populist party barricaded themselves in the Hall of Representatives. The next morning the door was smashed in by members of the Republican house who entered and took possession.
Militia Called Out.
The situation looking serious Governor Lewelling called out several companies of state militia. Guns were brought up and artillerists ordered from Wichita.
Sheriff Williamson of Shawnee county announced himself to be the only regular guardian of the peace and swore in a large force of deputies, acting in the interests of the Republicans.
There was much excitement and Topeka was filled with well armed men. The Republicans were in a state of siege, food being passed up to the representatives in baskets lowered from the windows.
On the third day a decision was reached that the Republican house should hold the hall and the Populists meet elsewhere. This ended the war. February 23 the supreme court affirmed the constitutionality of the Republican house, and the two houses united.
Beaten by Woman Suffrage.
In 1897 Colonel Dunsmore was chosen, by the Populist house of representatives as its sergeant at arms. He was chairman of the Populist state convention which nominated Governor Lewelling and his associate state officers. This convention pledged the party to the support of the woman suffrage amendment to the constitution, resulting in the defeat of the ticket. Mr. Dunsmore was a candidate for re-election and went down with the rest, being held responsible for the action of the convention in recommending the proposed amendment.
Back to the G. O. P.
During the Spanish-American war Colonel Dunsmore supported the government and candidacy of President McKinley for re-election in 1900, since when he had made more than a hundred public addresses in behalf of the policies of McKinley, Roosevelt and Taft.
He was a candidate for the Republican nomination as probate judge two years ago, being defeated by C. P. Swank, who won in the election.
Colonel Dunsmore dedicated, politically, the new auditorium in Topeka in 1900, delivering the first address therein.
City Clerk of Thayer.
He has served Thayer as mayor, police judge, city attorney and for twenty-two consecutive years as city clerk, and when the woman administration was elected in Thayer last spring, Mrs. Abbie Forest, the mayor, reappointed him city clerk.
Colonel Dunsmore was prominent in Grand Army circles, having served on the department staff as mustering officer, been aide-de-camp on the staff of Commander-in-Chief General Van Sandt, and commander of the Southeastern Kansas Old Soldiers' Association.
The Iola Daily Register, Tuesday, Mar. 21, 1922
The old soldiers of Iola, and some others who knew him have learned with regret of the death of J. M. Dunsmore, of Thayer, which occurred on Sunday, March 12, following by only a few days the death of his wife which occurred on March 1. Mr. Dunsmore known in the days of his political activity as "The Bald Hornet of the Neosho" because of the stinging tongue with which he assailed his political enemies, was the first agent in Iola of the Santa Fe railroad and thus became acquainted with all the old timers here. He was a Republican until the Populist party came along when he joined it and became speaker of "The Dunsmore House" in the exciting days of the "Lewelling War." When the Populist party passed on he returned to his first political love (as a Pennsylvanian who had served in the Union army could not help doing) and died in the faith. For many years he has lived at Thayer, a practicing lawyer, and one of the elder statesmen of the town, where he will be sadly missed.
The Iola Register, Saturday, Mar. 25, 1922, Pg. 1.
WAS THAYER'S CITY CLERK
As Such The Late Col. J. M. Duns-
more Was One of Two Male Officials.
(By the Associated Press)
Thayer, Kans., Mar. 25--Aside from the distinction he acquired during the Populist reign in Kansas in the early 90's, when he was nic-named "The Bald Hornet of Neosho," Col. J. M. Dunsmore, who died at his home here on March 12, came back into the limelight a year ago when he was a candidate for mayor in the famous city election here in which a complete ticket of women headed by Mrs. Abby Howe Forest, swept all before them. Dunsmore, a veteran of many fierce political struggles saw the "handwriting on the wall" however, and before the ballots were cast withdrew as a candidate. Mrs. Forest had the field to herself in the mayoralty contest. Subsequently, Colonel Dunsmore was appointed city attorney by Mayor Forest. He was the only man, aside from the marshal, and the Thayer official municipal staff at the time of his death.
Colonel Dunsmore was the Populist speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives, during the historic siege of 1893, when both Republican and Populists claimed a majority of members and each party elected a speaker. George L. Douglas, was chosen as speaker by the Republicans and for days this chaotic condition prevailed. Finally on February 15, 1893, after Gov. L. D. Lowellyn had attempted to call out the militia to oust the Republicans, war broke out. The Populists attempted to lock the Republicans out of the hall, and bar them from the state house. En masse the Republican members marched through the guards, battered the heavy oak doors down with a sledge hammer, took possession, the Populists retiring to the basement. After a two day siege in which the Republicans obtained food by hauling it up to the windows with ropes, an armistice was declared. On February 26, the supreme court decided the Republican speaker duly elected and the warfare ended. On February 15, 1921, a reunion of the "Douglas house" was held in Topeka.