1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 18

CHAPTER XVIII

FIRST SETTLEMENTS

Some settlers began to arrive in Kansas as early as April, 1854. They increased in numbers constantly from that date. We have already noted the staking out of claims in the Salt Creek Valley by settlers from Platte County, Missouri. While some of these squatters did not make a home in Kansas Territory, and had no intention of doing so, a good many of them, in fact, were acting in good faith; they erected dwellings on the claims they had taken.

Two of the early settlements of Kansas became most noted in the history of the Territory and the State. These were Lawrence and Atchison. Lawrence was founded in what was later made Douglas County, and Atchison was laid out in what became Atchison County. When the first settlements were made, however, no counties had been formed, and these towns had not been located.

Douglas County, containing the city of Lawrence, which was the head quarters of the Free-State men in Kansas, had the leading part in Kansas Territorial history. The capital of Kansas Territory, Lecompton, was also in Douglas County. The old Santa Fe trail passed through the south part of the county, and a number of ambitious towns were formed along that famous highway. Among them were Palmyra, Louisiana, and Brooklyn. Prairie City was only two miles south of it, and Baldwin City about one mile south. The post-office of Hickory Point had been fixed on the site of Louisiana before the town had been laid out. Hickory Point came to notice later as the place where some of the events leading to the Wakarusa War transpired.

The first arrivals, in what became Douglas County, were probably pro-slavery men, although Free-State men began to arrive early in June. The Oregon Trail, locally known as the California Road, passed through the northern part of the county. This trail crossed the Wakarusa at the house of Charles Blue-Jacket, a chief of the Shawnees. The pro-slavery settlers established the town of Franklin, on the California Road, about two miles west of the crossing. The trail passed up Mount Oread and followed the "back bone ridge" which divided the waters of the Kansas from those of the Wakarusa. Six miles west of Mount Oread, on a fine elevation, there was a noted spring. At that point Judge John A. Wakefield, who arrived in the Territory on the 8th of June, 1854, made his home. Another noted place on the trail was Big Springs, within a mile of the west line of the county. A settlement was made there.

Some of the names of those arriving in 1854 are set out: J. W. Lunkins, a South Carolinian, April 13th. A. R. Hopper, May 9th. Clark Sternes and William H. R. Lykins settled on the land upon which Lawrence was afterwards founded, May 26th. A. B. and N. E. Wade came on the 5th of June. Brice W. Miller, June 6th. Martin and Calvin Adams arrived June 10th. H. H. Eberhart, June 12th. J. H. Harrison arrived June 14th. H. S. and Paul Eberhart came on the 15th of June. S. N. Wood, later to become prominent in many of the affairs of the Territory and State, arrived on the 24th of June. James F. Legate came on the 5th of July. Joel K. Goodin, from Ohio, settled south of the California Road in May. Thomas W. Barber, later to become a martyr in the cause of freedom, settled on the Wakarusa, southwest of Lawrence, early in 1855.

There were no laws, no courts, and it was necessary for the settlers to make such regulations as would preserve order until a government could be set up. Two associations were formed in what is now Douglas County. One was the Wakarusa Association, the other the Actual Settlers' Association. The latter was composed of men who had actually staked out their claims and were then living on them. On the 12th of August a meeting of the Actual Settlers' Association was held at the house of Brice W. Miller. John A. Wakefield was its President, and S. N. Wood was the Recorder. The residence of Mr. Miller was known as Miller's Spring, or Millersburg, and was one mile from the site of the future Lawrence. The constitution of the Association provided that none but the actual settlers should vote, but there appeared at the meeting the members of the Wakarusa Association. They had not yet become residents in the Territory, but had staked out their claims. They desired to take part in the proceedings of the meeting. A Mr. Dunham was put forward to make the plea for the Wakarusa Association. A controversy arose and it seemed that bad feelings would be engendered. Mr. H. D. Woodworth, from New Orleans, of the Wakarusa Association, made a conciliatory speech and proposed the appointment of a committee of conference, to be composed of members of each association. The committee was to agree upon a plan of united action. The Wakarusa Association appointed Dunham, Lykins and Hayes. On the part of the actual settlers, John Doy, William Lyon and A. H. Mallory were the members. The meeting then adjourned to give the committee time to formulate a report. Within an hour the following report was brought in:

WHEREAS, The laws of the United States confer upon citizens the privilege of settling and holding lands by preemption rights; and, whereas, the Kansas Valley, in part, is now open for the location of such claims; and, whereas, we, the people of this convention, have, and are about to select homes in this valley, and in order to protect the public good, and to secure equal justice to all, we solemnly agree and bind ourselves to be governed by the following ordinances:

1. We recognize the right of every citizen of the United States, of lawful age, or who may be the head of a family, to select, mark and claim, 200 acres of land, viz.: 160 acres of prairie, and forty acres of timber land, and who shall within sixty days after the treaty is ratified, proceed to erect thereon a cabin, or such other improvements as he may deem best, and shall, within sixty days after the ratification of the treaties, enter thereon as a resident.

2. A claim thus marked and registered, shall be good sixty days from the ratification of the treaty, at which time the claimant, if the head of a family, shall move upon and make his home on either the prairie or timber claim, which shall make them both good, and shall be regarded so by the settlers. Single persons or females making claims shall be entitled to hold them by becoming residents of the Territory whether upon their claims or otherwise. Any person making a claim as above shall be entitled to a day additional for every five miles they have to travel to reach their families.

3. No person shall hold more than one claim, directly or indirectly.

4. No one shall be allowed to enter upon any previously made or marked claim.

5. All persons failing to commence improving or entering thereupon within the time specified, shall forfeit the same and it shall be lawful for any other citizen to enter thereon.

6. Each claimant shall, at all reasonable times, hold himself in readiness to point out the extent of his claim to any person who may wish to ascertain the fact.

7. It shall be the duty of the register to put every applicant upon proof, oath, or affirmation, that the claim offered for registry is free from the claim of any other person.

8. Every application for registry shall be made in the following form, viz.: "I apply for certificate of registry for claim selected and marked, on this........day of ........, 1854, lying and being in ........, containing 160 acres of prairie and forty acres of timber land and declare upon honor that said claim was selected and marked on the ........day of ........, and that I am claiming but the one in my own right, and that it was not claimed or selected by any other person." To be signed by the applicant. Any person failing to make this certificate shall not be entitled to register.

9. We agree, upon the survey of the Territory, to mutually deed and re-deed to each other, so as to leave as near as possible as claimed.

10. The officers of this association shall be, one Chief Justice, one Register, one Marshal and one Treasurer.

11. The duty of the Chief Justice shall be to try and decide all disputes between settlers in reference to claims or otherwise, and to try all criminals or persons guilty of the violation of the laws of the Territory. The said Chief Justice shall always take justice between man and man as his guide; and upon the demand of either party shall summon a jury of six persons to try all disputes or violations of law, the jury to be selected as follows, viz.: The Chief Justice to write down the names of eighteen persons, and each party to mark alternately until six names only are left, the defendant marking first. The Chief Justice shall also act as President of all meetings of the association, and in his absence a President pro tem shall be appointed.

12. The duty of the Register shall be to register all claims and other necessary matter, act as Secretary of all meetings of the association, and to act as Chief Justice in his absence, or where he may be a party interested.

13. The Marshal shall execute all decisions of the Chief Justice or Juries, and shall see that the laws of the association are executed, and shall have power, if necessary, to call upon all members of this association to assist in executing the same.

14. The limits of this association shall he the waters of the Wakarusa and Kansas Rivers, and the Territory between the same, from the mouth of the Wakarusa up to the Shawnee purchase.

15. It shall be the duty of the Marshal, on the complaint of any citizen, by himself or Deputy, to summons and bring before the Chief Justice the parties for trial.

16. The officers of this association shall receive a suitable compensation for their services, which sum shall be decided by the association.

17. A Treasurer shall be appointed by the association, who shall give approved security for the faithful disbursement of all moneys that shall be received into the treasury.

18. The Treasurer shall be authorized to pay all drafts for the expenses of the association when presented to him, signed by the President and Secretary.

19. The officers shall be elected by the association, and, by a majority vote of the same, removed.

20. Officers of the association shall be residents of Kansas Territory.

21. The Coon River, Wakarusa, and all other associations are dissolved from this date.

Dr. John Doy and Mr. William Lyon also made a minority report in favor of an additional article, confining voting to actual settlers. A motion was made and carried, that both reports be received, and the committee discharged. Mr. Wood then remarked that he was in favor of harmony and wanted to be on both sides, and moved the adoption of both reports, which motion was unanimously carried, and the reports adopted.

On motion of Mr. Dunham, the association then assumed the name of "The Mutual Settlers' Association of Kansas Territory." The association then proceeded to the election of permanent officers, with this result: Chief Justice, John A. Wakefield; Register, J. W. Hayes; Marshal, William H. R. Lykins; Treasurer, William Lyon.

On motion of Dr. Doy, the money in the treasury of the Actual Settlers' Association was ordered to be paid to S. N. Wood for his services as Register.

On motion of H. Cameron, Esq., the association adjourned sine die.

It will be seen that the Missourians and Free-State men were able to agree as to what should be done by the pioneers in marking out their course for the settlement of Kansas Territory. If they could have been left free from outside interference, much trouble would have been avoided.

At a meeting held at Westport, Missouri, on the 19th of August, 1854, Mr. Woodworth and Mr. Dunham were speakers. The object of the meeting was "to protect this frontier from threatened invasion of the pioneers that had arrived and were still arriving through the agency of this Emigrant Aid Association, organized by the Abolition fanatics." Mr. Wood, the Recorder of the Actual Settlers' Association, in a letter to Eastern newspapers a few days after the Westport meeting, had this to say:

Notwithstanding the threats and brow-beatings of the Missourians, the greatest proportion of the settlers here are Northern people. Nine-tenths of the balance are honest Southerners, who are coming, as they say, to get rid of slavery. I was mistaken in the character of the Missourians. A few fanatics who were resolved to extend slavery at all hazards, seemed for a time to give tone to the whole people; but a better acquaintance convinces me that many of the people condemned the violent resolutions passed at Westport and other places.

Mr. Wood had written a previous letter dated June 28th, 1854, in which he stated that "I have just made a trip over into the territory, and found on the Indian reserve, scores of families from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and other northern states, and still they come. Next week we have a general meeting up the Kansas River, where hundreds of free men will be rallied; a fiat will then go forth that will sound the death-knell of slavery in Kansas, at least."


FIRST HOUSE IN LAWRENCE
[Copy by Willard of Photograph in Library
of Kansas State Historical Society]
The site of the city of Lawrence was selected in July, 1854, by Charles H. Branscomb and Dr. Charles Robinson, of Massachusetts. They visited the Territory as agents of the New England Emigrant Aid Company. After making a survey of the country, they chose the site of Lawrence as the point where the Aid Company would make its first settlement.

The first colony sent out by the Emigrant Aid Company, left Boston, July 17, 1854, and arrived at Kansas City, July 28th. It consisted of twenty-nine men. They reached the site selected for their settlement on the first day of August. On that day, the hill on which the University now stands, was named Mount Oread, for Oread Seminary, of Worcester, Massachusetts, founded by Eli Thayer. Fifteen of this party remained on the selected site, while the others secured claims some distance away. Charles H. Branscomb was the leader of the first party.

The second party sent out by the Emigrant Aid Company left Worcester August 29, 1854, and consisted of sixty-seven persons. In this party there were ten women and a dozen children. This party was led by Dr. Charles Robinson and Samuel C. Pomeroy. There were four musicians: Joseph and F. Savage, and N. and A. Hazen. They brought their musical instruments with them. That of Mr. Joseph Savage had a part in the sacking of Lawrence, and is now in the Museum of the Kansas State Historical Society.

The location of the first settlement had been known as Wakarusa. The first party had settled on the site of Lawrence near the river, on both sides of what was later Massachusetts Street. On the 9th of September, some of the second party arrived at Wakarusa. The women and children were with this party. The remainder of the company arrived on the 11th. The members of the first party having settled on the townsite, gaining thereby a prior right, it was necessary for the second party to come to some agreement with these first settlers as to the disposition to be made of the lots of the future town.

The third party of Aid Company emigrants came under the leadership of Mr. Branscomb, reaching Lawrence, October 8th and 9th. Most of these became disgusted with the outlook and immediately returned. They exhausted their vocabulary denouncing Mr. Thayer and his agents, claiming that they had been deceived. They were probably poor material for pioneers. Two other companies were sent out by the Emigrant Aid Company during the year.

Atchison was the stronghold and headquarters of the men determined to make Kansas a slave state. From that town many of the operations of the pro-slavery forces were directed. The town was laid out by residents of Platte County, Missouri, and named for Senator David R. Atchison, who spent a considerable part of his time there, but never made it his legal residence.

The first settlers began to arrive, in what is Atchison County, in June, 1854. They staked out claims near where Oak Mills was afterwards located. They did not erect dwellings at that time, the first houses built on claims being put up in July, 1854. Senator Atchison had decided that a city should be built in the Territory at the Big Bend of the Missouri, and on the 20th of July, Dr. J. H. Stringfellow, Ira Norris, Leonidas Oldham, James B. Martin and Neal Owens left Platte City, Missouri, to make the definite location. They selected the site. A company was formed and the town laid out. In a speech on the morning the sale of lots began, Senator Atchison made a review of the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. He also touched upon the future of Kansas Territory, saying that if he had his way, he would hang every abolitionist who dared show his face there. He qualified his words to prove to his hearers that he had no prejudice against the Northern settlers, saying that he knew there were sensible, honest, right-feeling men among them who would be as far from stealing a negro as a Southern man. Senator Atchison was known all over the South, and his connection with the town of Atchison caused the rabid slavery men, coming into the territory, to select that city for their residence. The settlement of the country about Atchison was made in the same manner and about the same time as other settlements of that day. Among them were many Free-State men. Many Missourians settled in the country who acted with the Pro-Slavery men through the fear that their lives and property would be in danger if they did otherwise. They were, in fact, opposed to slavery, and were pleased when Kansas was made a free state.

Leavenworth was the first town in Kansas. It also bore an important part in the history of the Territory. It was located on land adjoining the Fort Leavenworth reserve on the south. The location was one of the best in the Territory. It enjoyed communication by steam-boats on the Missouri River, and there was much business at the Fort, which gave it a great advantage. It was laid out by an association formed at Weston, Missouri, June 13, 1854. The first sale of lots was held October 9th and 10th. By the first of August there were a good many settlers on the town-site. The first settlers were Missourians, but at the time of the first sale of lots, settlers were arriving from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The city of Leavenworth became a rival to Atchison as a hot-bed of pro-slavery sentiment and operations. Some of the first disturbances in the Territory were at Leavenworth. There were among the Missouri settlers, many Free-State men, as in the settlements back of Atchison.

Topeka was founded December 5, 1854, by Cyrus K. Holliday, of Pennsylvania. It was designed by Mr. Holliday, to be the capital of Kansas. The Free-State men, when they set up an opposition government, made it their capital of Kansas Territory. Later it was made the capital of the State.

The settlers coming from free states did not, as a general thing, stop on the border. They moved up the Kansas River and other streams, forty to fifty miles, to stake out their claims. They hoped to avoid trouble by doing so. It was their intention to make their settlements where they would be unmolested by the Pro-Slavery settlers from Missouri, as far as possible.

The eastern border of Kansas, generally, was settled in about the same manner and near the same time that these settlements already noted were formed. The rules formed by the settlers in these first communities were to be found in substance in all the early settlements in the Territory. These squatter associations were compelled to make rules for the regulation of the conduct of the various communities, and it will be seen that there was little friction between the early settlers until after the enactment of laws by a regularly constituted legislature.


JOSIAH MILLER, FOUNDER
OF THE Kansas Free State,
LAWRENCE, 1855
[Copy by King, Topeka,
of Daguerreotype owned by

William Miller, Lawrence, Kansas]


JOHN SPEER, LAWRENCE
PIONEER, EDITOR AND AUTHOR
[Copy by Willard of Portrait
in Library of Kansas
State Historical Society]

The first newspaper to he published in the Territory was the Kansas Weekly Herald, the first number of which appeared September 15, 1854. Wilder says of this paper: "It was printed under an elm tree on the Levee, near the corner of Cherokee Street. It was a pro-slavery paper. H. Rives Pollard of Virginia was at one time its editor."

The first Free-State paper in the Territory was the Kansas Free State. The first issue was dated January 3, 1855. It was owned and edited by Josiah Miller and R. G. Elliott. Mr. Miller was a native of South Carolina, but was a Free-State man. The first number of the paper had this to say: "We are uncompromisingly opposed to the introduction of slavery into Kansas, as tending to impoverish the soil, to stifle all energy and enterprise, to paralyze the hand of industry and to weaken intellectual effort." Having been reared in a slave state, he was in position to state the objections to slavery in this succint form. He also said: "There are thousands of genuine free-soilers at the South, men like ourselves, who hold opinions in common with the fathers of the Republic regarding slavery a great evil, and are in no wise desirous of having it extended beyond its original limits. But we say as regards this question, that we establish our press here, knowing no North, no South, no East, no West, but the very best interests of the American people. We come not then as the peculiar advocate of any section. We disavow all connection with emigrant aid societies, have nothing to do with them, and have no confidence in them. We stand here upon our own individual responsibility, claiming nothing more than to be considered two of the humble citizens of Kansas Territory."

The Kansas Tribune was established at Lawrence by John Speer, who arrived September 21, 1854. The first issue of the paper was January 5, 1855. Mr. Speer came to Kansas from Medina, Ohio. He did not have a printing office at the time of the issue of his first number. The Kansas City Enterprise and the Leavenworth Herald both refused to print his paper because of its Free-State sentiments. Mr. Speer became one of the foremost editors of Kansas, and one of the prominent men of the State. He lived to a ripe old age and died only a few years ago in Denver.

The Herald of Freedom, the organ of the Emigrant Aid Company, issued a paper dated at Wakarusa, Kansas Territory, October 22, 1854, but this issue was printed in Pennsylvania. The second issue was dated Lawrence, January 6, 1855. A dispute arose later between The Free State and The Herald of Freedom as to which was in fact published first in Kansas.

Mr. Thayer wrote Brown the following letter for the government of his actions and as a guide for his policy in Kansas:

WORCESTER, SEPT. 22, 1854.

G. W. Brown, Esq.

Dear Sir - As our company have selected you as a suitable person to conduct a paper in Kansas Territory which shall represent our interests there, I take the liberty of making a few suggestions in regard to the great work upon which you are now engaged.

Your paper will not only be the "Herald of Freedom," but the herald of news from Kansas to its numerous readers. We shall look to it for tidings from our pioneers in the Territory, individually and collectively. We expect it to be the chronicle of important incidents, whether personal or public, of truthful and reliable information in regard to the resources of the Territory and the moral, intellectual and physical progress of the people there.

Our agents there are reliable men, who will present to you their credentials, and will often furnish communications for the columns of your paper. They are all able writers, and devoted heart and soul to the interests of Kansas. They will explore the country minutely and give to you for publication the results of their labors. You may at all times rely upon their truth and fidelity.

Besides these aids in your enterprise, you will often be furnished with articles from gentlemen of our emigrant parties, many of whom are liberally educated and professional men. We hope, as far as your limits will allow, you will give them place in your columns, and thus give each subscriber the pleasure of occasionally reading an article over the signature of a well-known friend of Kansas.

We pledge to you our hearty good will and cheerful co-operation in the noble work to which you have devoted yourself. Truly Yours,

ELI THAYER,
President of the Emigrant Aid Company.

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A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans , written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 1998.

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