From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
The Anthony Letters
Anthony Letters Give Picture Of Pre-Statehood Period Here
Leavenworth Times Nov. 18, 1956
Almost 100 years ago, D. R. Anthony left his home in Rochester, N. Y., to settle in Kansas. Three years before, in July 1854, he had visited Leavenworth and Kansas with the first colony sent by the New England Emigrant Society under the leadership of Eli Thayer. During the visit he assisted in founding the city of Lawrence, which at that time consisted of one house. He returned to his insurance business in Rochester in the fall of 1854. If letters to his family were written by Colonel Anthony on his first Kansas visit, they were not preserved. Probably no letters were written because mail service had not been established. But from the time of his permanent establishment, in June 1857, Anthony letters were written frequently to his father, Daniel Anthony; to his sisters, Susan B. and Mary S. Anthony; and to his brother, Jacob Merritt Anthony -- all of Rochester. He was 33 years old in 1857. Fortunately these letters were preserved. While not literary gems they are typical of the times and gave clear insight into conditions and problems of Kansas Territory in the pre-state period, 1857 to 1861. If the letters overly stress chances of profit and speculation, such was typical. Kansas was newly opened to settlement and experienced the credit strain and scramble for land and property characteristic of all new country development. These letters will be published in The Times on Sundays and Thursdays. They vary in length, content, and interest, but taken as a whole they give an excellent picture of early Leavenworth and early Kansas. The first letter follows:
On Board Steamer "F. H. Aubry."
Jefferson City, Mo.
Friday 6 PM June 5, 1857.
I reached here this day at 3 PM, will leave at 8 1/2 PM by this boat for Leavenworth. Will reach there about Monday noon if we don't run on too many sand bars. It now looks as though the boat would be crowded; nearly full now and the St. Louis Express has not yet arrived. Most of the passengers are Kansas bound, very few are going to Nebraska. A Leavenworth man on board says Leavenworth now has a population of nearly 5,000--suppose he enlarges some upon the facts. He says there are already four or five banking offices there. The general opinion seems to be that it will be the largest town in Kansas. I have no doubt that I can make a good thing out of the money operation I talked of. Drafts were selling at one per cent discount only four weeks ago, but this cannot last long. My railroad pass was good to this point. It costs me $10 from here to Leavenworth. The baggage man at Chicago weighed my packing trunk, filled with stationery and insurance papers -- it weighed 215 pounds and he was going to charge me one dollar extra to St. Louis but concluded on my showing my tickets to let it pass without extra charge. I have this afternoon visited the capitol, penitentiary, and Jefferson City generally. It has only 3,000 people and looks like a very slow town. Tea is nearly ready.
D. R. Anthony