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A Brief History
1855 Kansas Census - Index of Voters
Index of Testimony
Emigrant Aid Society Settler List
Further Reading
Bibliography and Credits
The KSGenWeb Page


In May 1854, treaties were made with the Delaware and Shawnee in eastern Kansas, opening the land up for settlement.  Furthermore, on May 30, 1854, the Douglas Bill was signed by President Franklin Pierce, repealing the Missouri Compromise and organizing the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska with the right to determine the question of slavery for themselves.  Towns and newspapers were established, each focusing on it's support or opposition to slavery.  Passionate supporters of both sides of the issue poured into Kansas hoping to tip the balance to their respective side.   On November 29, 1854, an election for a delegate to Congress was held.  On March 30, 1855, an election of the Territorial Legislature was held.  In both elections, abuses were flagrant and severe.  Thousands of pro-slavery Missourians crossed the border and posing as Kansans, demanded the right to vote at gun point.   They browbeat judges, stuffed ballot boxes, and otherwise transformed the election into a grim farce.  Violent scuffles were commonplace.  Abolitionist forces shipped guns and munitions to their supporters.  This was the beginning of what is termed "Bleeding Kansas."

These events led to such loud outcries of fraud that they reached even the ears of Washington, D. C. On March 19, 1856, The House of Representatives appointed a special committee to investigate the "Troubles In Kansas."  In July of 1856, the committee submitted it's report to the House of Representatives.  It is this report that is of interest to the genealogist.  In an effort to determine the truth of many incidents and elections, testimony was taken and analysis was made of the poll lists.  While the poll lists are included in this report, it is of little genealogical value because of the rampant fraud.  However, three items in this 1856 report are of value, as presented below.

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In an effort to determine who in fact was an eligible voter in the 1854 & 1855 elections, a comparison of poll lists was made to the 1855 Territory of Kansas Census.  The census takers were instructed that "A qualified voter must be free, of white blood, twenty-one years of age, an actual resident of the Territory, dwelling here with the bona fide intention of making it his home, and a native or naturalized citizen of the United States, or a declarant who has sworn to support the Constitution of the United States and the act organizing the Territory."  A list of eligible voters culled from this census is presented in the 1856 report, and is transcribed for you here:

 

District 1

Containing parts of current Wyandotte, Johnson and Douglas Counties

District 2

Containing parts of current Douglas, Osage and Shawnee Counties

District 3

Containing parts of current Shawnee, Wabaunsee and Pottawatomie Counties

District 4

Containing parts of current Johnson, Douglas and Osage Counties

District 5

Containing all or parts of current Osage, Coffey, Bourbon, Franklin, Anderson, Miami and Linn Counties

District 6

Containing all or parts of current Marion, Chase, Harvey, Sedgwick, Sumner, Lyon, Coffey, Butler, Cowley, Greenwood, Elk, Chautauqua, Woodson, Wilson, Montgomery, Allen, Neosho, Labette, Crawford, Cherokee, and Bourbon Counties

District 7

Containing parts of current Osage, Shawnee, Lyons and Waubaunsee Counties

District 8

Containing all or parts of current Wabaunsee, Riley, Geary, Clay, Saline, McPherson, Ellsworth, Russell, Ellis, Trego, Ness, Lyon, Chase, Marion, Hodgeman, Ford, Clark, Rush, Barton, Rice, Morris, Pawnee, Edwards, Kiowa, Camanche, Stafford, Pratt, Barber, Reno, Kingman, Harper, Harvey, Sedgwick, and Sumner Counties

District 9

Containing all or parts of current Trego, Graham, Norton, Ellis, Russell, Ellsworth, Saline, Clay, Geary, Riley, Washington, Republic, Cloud, Ottawa, Jewell, Mitchell, Lincoln, Smith, Osborne, Phillips and Rooks Counties

District 10

Containing parts of current Washington, Marshall, Riley, and Pottawatomie Counties

District 11

Containing parts of current Pottawatomie, and Marshall Counties

District 12

Containing parts of current Nemaha, Pottawatomie, Shawnee, and Jackson Counties

District 13

Containing parts of current Shawnee, Jackson, Jefferson, Leavenworth, Douglas, Atchison, and Nemaha Counties

District 14

Containing all or parts of current Doniphan, Brown, and Nemaha Counties

District 15

Containing parts of current Nemaha, Brown, Atchison, Jackson, Jefferson, and Leavenworth Counties

District 16

Containing parts of current Jefferson, Leavenworth, and Wyandotte Counties

District 17

Containing parts of current Johnson and Wyandotte Counties

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As part if their effort to ascertain the truth of these incidents, the committee heard much testimony from the people of Kansas.  The list of those giving testimony before the Committee is transcribed for you here.  After you get a page number, come back and click here to go to the University of Michigan's Making of America which has put images of this book on-line. A complete name index of the 1856 Report of the Special Committee Appointed to Investigate the Troubles in Kansas is available through the compiler, Robert A. Hodge.   You may also go to the University of Michigan's Making of America and click on " Search within this work".

 

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In the days of settling the vast lands of the west, companies were formed with the purpose of aiding settlers accomplish their journey.  A kind of old-time travel agent, if you will.  The New England Emigrant Aid Society was formed with the apparent goal of establishing free state proponents in the Territory of Kansas.   Three parties left Boston in March of 1855.  Some accused the settlers of staying in Kansas only temporarily so as to influence the voting, but this list is none the less a valuable genealogical source.  Transcribed for you is the list of settlers under the auspices of the Emigrant Aid Society:

First Spring Party

March 13, 1855

Second Party

March 20, 1855

Third Party

March 27, 1855

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Further reading for more historical and personal accounts of the "Troubles in Kansas" can be found in the following books scanned and placed on-line by the University of Michigan's Making of America Project:


 

This page and the transcriptions within it is made possible through the efforts of the volunteers of the KSGenWeb Project.  Special thanks to Carolyn Long,   Julie Schossow,  Marcia Philbrick,  Carole Sklenar,  Rosana Whitenight,  Jackie Masters and Leon Rogers.  Maureen Reed coordinated this effort and authored this page. 

The Brief History presented above was prepared from The Encyclopedia of Kansas, Somerset Publishing, Inc., 1994; Index to the 1856 Report by Robert A. Hodge; and the Report of the Special Committee Appointed to Investigate the Troubles in Kansas, 1856.

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Special thanks to Home page for Kansas State Library for donating space for many KSGenWeb pages.