1894 Robley's History of Bourbon County, Kansas



34HISTORY OF BOURBON COUNTY.[1854

CHAPTER VI.

THE FIRST GOVERNOR.

A.H. REEDER, the first Governor of Kansas Territory, arrived at Fort Leavenworth, and assumed the executive office October 7th, 1854. Soon after, with a party of other officials, he made a somewhat extended tour of observation through the eastern part of the Territory, and on his return that portion was divided into "Election Districts."

The district which included Fort Scott was denominated the Sixth District, and the metes and bounds were described as follows:


"Commencing on the Missouri State line, in Little Osage river; thence up the same to the line of the Reserve for the New York Indians, or the nearest point thereto; thence to and by the north line of said Reserve to the Neosho river, and up said river to and along the south branch thereof to the head; and thence by due south line to the southern line of the Territory; thence by the southern and eastern line of said Territory to the place of beginning."

THE FIRST ELECTIONS.

On November 10th, Governor Reeder issued a proclamation for an election to be held in the Territory on


1854]THE FIRST ELECTIONS.35

the 29th day of November for the election of a Delegate to Congress. Fort Scott was designated as the place for holding the election for the Sixth District. The house of H. T. Wilson was named as the polling place, and the judges appointed were Thomas B. Arnett, H. T. Wilson and William Godfrey. J. W. Whitfield was the Pro-slavery candidate for Delegate, R. P. Finnekin, Independent, and John A. Wakefield Free State. In this district Whitfied received the entire vote cast, 105. Whitfield resided in Missouri at this time and made no pretense of being a citizen of the Territory.

On March 8, 1855, a proclamation was issued by Gov. Reeder, ordering an election for members of the Territorial Council and House of Representatives, to he held on Friday the 30th day of March, 1855. There were to be thirteen members of the Council and twenty-six Representatives, to constitute the "Legislative Assembly" of the Territory. The vote was to be by ballot. As there were yet no county or other municipal organizations, the election districts were provided for in the proclamation. The Sixth District remained the same as in the election of November 10, 1854. The place designated for holding the polls was the hospital building on the Plaza, and the judges of election appointed were James Ray, William Painter and William Godfrey. The proclamation also provided:


"That the Sixth Election District, containing two hundred and fifty-three votes, will constitute the Fifth Council District, and elect one member of the Council. Also, that the Sixth Election District shall be the Sixth Representative District and elect two members."


36HISTORY OF BOURBON COUNTY.[1854

The result of this election was as follows: For Council Fifth District, William Barbee, 343 votes. For Representatives Sixth District, Joseph C. Anderson, 315, S. A. Williams 313, John Hamilton 36, William Margrave 16. And the returns being in due form and no protest filed, William Barbee for the Council, and Joseph C. Anderson and S. A. Williams for the House of Representatives, were by the Governor declared duly elected.

Nevertheless this election was grossly fraudulent, not only in this district, but in all others. It will be remembered that the district was nearly 50 by 100 miles square. William Barbee, mentioned above, had been appointed the January before to take the census of the district, and about March 1, thirty days before the election, filed his report giving the number of legal voters as 253. Many of these voters would have had to travel forty and fifty miles to the polling place. It is not reasonable to suppose that they took such a journey to vote. Most of the votes cast came from covered wagons camped on the Marmaton bottom, "for one day only," which judge Margrave said, "just swarmed over from Missouri." But there was no protest in this district, and the men took their seats in the Legislature.

Barbee had no opposition. He and Anderson and Williams were voted for by the Pro-slavery men. Hamilton and Margrave received the feeble showing of the opposition.

William Barbee came here from Kentucky at the age of 29. He was a very fair man, and lived here several


1854]THE FIRST LEGISLATURE.37

years. Barbee street in Fort Scott was named for him.

Joseph C. Anderson was never a resident of the district from first to last. He was the author of the "Black Laws" passed by this Legislature.

Samuel A. Williams was originally from Kentucky. He came here first in 1854, and afterwards brought his family, about six months before election, from Polk County, Missouri, driving an ox cart, containing his family, his chickens and two "cheers." He was no "voter." He had come to stay. He was a good man, a good citizen, and held many important positions. He died at his home in Fort Scott, August 13, 1873.

John Hamilton was "left over" from the regular army. He lived here in the town and in the county until after the war, as has been stated.

William Margrave was born in Missouri, February 17, 1818. He came here in the fall of 1854, and was appointed one of the first Justices of the Peace in the Territory, and the very first one appointed in this district. His commission bears date of December 5, 1854. He has lived here continuously ever since that time, and he is Justice of the Peace "till yet." The Judge, in his quiet way, has always performed the duties of a good citizen, and always stood in the highest estimation in this community. Margrave street in the city of Fort Scott was named for him.

THE FIRST LEGISLATURE.

The first Legislature convened by order of the Governor at Pawnee, near Fort Riley, on the 2nd of July,


38HISTORY OF BOURBON COUNTY.[1854

1855. Pawnee was 100 miles west of the Missouri State line at Westport. Governor Reeder said he took it out there to get it out of the way of political influence and to keep the legislators unspotted from the world. That was certainly the right idea and the right place if he could have made them stay there, but he couldn't do it. The statesmen said it was too dry, and too far from their base of supplies; and besides, as there were no houses in Pawnee, or in forty miles of it, they had to sleep in their wagons, or under them; and then again they had nothing to eat but jerked buffalo and Pawnee macarroni. This latter was a very succulent dish much sought after by the Pawnee Indians. It was made from the small entrails of antelope and fish-worms. The origin of this war-like tribe arose from this dish. Most any body would. The statesmen arose from it. Said they liked the legislature business all right enough but this wasn't an adjourned session of the Diet of Worms; they were not elected on that ticket. Said they didn't know what other Kansas Legislatures might do—no man in his right mind could tell, but as for their part they could not entertain such a diet, anyway, without something to go with it, and they didn't even have Bourbon County corn bread. Besides, they wanted to be nearer home where they could hear the honest coon-dog's deep-mouthed bay. So next morning they hitched up and drove down to Shawnee Mission, near Westport. That was as near home as they could get without going "plum over" into Missouri. Reeder could do nothing but set around and scratch his head and pawnee. He finally followed


1854]THE BOGUS STATUTE.39

them down to Shawnee Mission. He told them they could not legally move, and could pass no valid laws if they did. They told him to be quiet or they would pass him—down the Missouri river on a raft. That made him madder than ever and he called them a lot of Border Ruffians. Then Stringfellow smote him hip and thigh, "and they wrote a letter unto the king," saying what a bad man this Reeder was, "and the king dismissed him with contumely." But the name give to them by Governor Reeder of Border Ruffian stuck to those fellows, and their kind, even to the third generation. Ainsi soit il.

THE BOGUS STATUTE.

The Legislature then went to work to pass laws for Kansas. It was now the 16th of July. By the 1st of September they had finished their labors which resulted in the preparation of an immense code of "laws," which have always been called and known as the "Bogus Statute of 1855." This Statute was called bogus principally because many of the members were not residents of the Territory, and they were themselves bogus; the elections were fraudulent in nearly every case, consequently their office was bogus. The sessions were held at Shawnee Mission against the will, order and veto of the Governor who had the only legal right to decide that point, as he claimed, consequently the whole business really had no legal status or right to be. But it was the prologue of the opening drama. The Pro-slavery men here showed their hand and the true


40HISTORY OF BOURBON COUNTY.[1854

spirit and intent of their party. They at once became blustering, arrogant, defiant and overbearing, and continually sought to pick quarrels with, and embroil every man into difficulties who opposed them. The few scattering and unorganized Free State men, in contemplation of such acts and such men, stood with raised and outstretched hands as if warding off a blow.

SAMPLE OF LEGISLATION.

The Legislature did more by its drastic, ill-tempered and senseless legislation to destroy the prospect of making Kansas a slave State than did all the Emigrant Aid Societies, John Brown and other Northern fanatics put together. As a sample of their legislation and to show the spirit which controlled the Pro-slavery side on the threshold of the struggle, the following section of their laws is quoted:


"SEC. 12. If any person, by speaking or by writing, assert or maintain that persons have not the right to hold slaves in the Territory, or shall introduce into Kansas, print, publish, write, circulate, or cause to be introduced into the Territory, any book, paper, magazine, pamphlet or circular containing any denial of the rights of persons to hold slaves in this Territory, such person shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and punished by imprisonment at hard labor for a term not less than two years."


This made it a penitentiary offense for a person to take a Free-State paper, or to argue the question with a neighbor, even at his own fireside. The present generation cannot conceive that a body of educated and intel-


1854]SAMPLE OF LEGISLATION.41

ligent American men could have seriously placed such a law, and a hundred of similar tenor and import on the statute books of a State. But the indescribable fanaticism on the question of human slavery had made them, as a people, just that intolerant.

On the other hand the Northern people, as a people, said to the South exactly this: We have made a constant, consistent and honest effort to restrict slavery to its present limits, and although the sacred compact which has stood for a third of a century is broken down, let us peacefully abide the provisions of the squatter sovereign principle. And we now say to you Southern people, and you may be fully assured that, although we shall not desist from those open, honest efforts which we have constantly made for restriction and which efforts will be vigorously continued to make Kansas a Free State, we shall neither openly or secretly resort to any measures which can tend to disturb the tranquillity of the slave States, or thereby to affect the prosperity of the Nation. And thus at the commencement of that most momentous era was the virgin Territory of Kansas handed over to those two contending sections, who had "come to ope the purple testament of bleeding war."

It looked dark for the side of Freedom. Its enemies controlled the Administration; they controlled all the branches of the Territorial Government and they controlled the front door through which emigration must enter.


42HISTORY OF BOURBON COUNTY.[1854

GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS SOLD.

The buildings erected and the improvements made by the Government at Fort Scott were estimated to have cost $200,000. They were sold at public auction on the 16th day of May, 1855, by Major Howe, Assistant Quartermaster of the U. S. Army, for less than $5,000 for the whole business. The officers quarters—the four principal blocks of buildings, were disposed of as follows: A. Hornbeck bought the first block, on the west corner of the Plaza for $500. H. T. Wilson the next for $300, E. Greenwood the next for $505, and J. Mitchell bought the next building on the east for $450. The other buildings were sold to different parties for nominal sums. Of course, this not being a Government Reservation, the title to the land on which these buildings stood did not pass by this transaction, and it was so understood by the purchasers. But they concluded to "let the hide go with the tallow," and take their chances of acquiring title either from the Government as pre-emptors, or, that some time in the future when the town shall have been surveyed and platted, and a legally incorporated town company organized, they could obtain deeds. This plan was agreed on and was afterwards carried out.

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Transcribed from History of Bourbon County, Kansas : to the close of 1865 by T. F. Robley. Fort Scott, Kan.: Press of the Monitor Book & Print. Co., 1894.


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