Kansas Historical Quarterly - Bypaths of Kansas History - May 1947
May 1947 (Vol. 14 No. 2), pages 211 to 214.
Transcribed by lhn;
digitized with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.
THE CHICAGO COMPANY AND THE MISSOURI RIVER PIRATES
From the Freemen's Champion, Prairie City, August 27, 1857.
We have seen many accounts of the treatment a company of emigrants from Chicago, while coming up the Missouri on their way to the territory last season , received from Border Ruffians, but none so minute and accurate as the statement contained in a letter which was written by a member of the company to a friend, shortly after the occurrence, but which has never yet appeared in print. We have been permitted to make a few extracts:
"We left Chicago about the middle of June, via. the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis R. R. We numbered sixty-eight, including the women and children, and were composed of farmers, mechanics of every branch, three printers, one minister, one doctor and two lawyers. Our intention was to form a Free State colony, and were provided with all the necessaries for establishing one. Upon our arrival at Alton we proceeded to the steamer `Star of the West,' which had been engaged for the conveyance of our company up the river, and which we supposed had been chartered exclusively for us and other companies that were to join us there. By some misunderstanding that arrangement had failed to be effected, and we found ourselves on board of a Border Ruffian steamer, manned by a Border Ruffian crew from captain to deck-hands, and in company with a large number of Border Ruffian passengers. Everything passed off very quietly and nothing occurred worthy of note until we reached Waverly, a little town about twenty-five miles below Lexington, where a passenger, whom we subsequently learned was employed on the river as a spy, got ashore, with a horse which accompanied him, and put off at lightning speed for Lexington, to warn the citizens of our coming. In his haste to get there, it is said he rode his horse to death. At about eleven o'clock Sunday night, the boat was moored to the levee in Lexington by two iron cables and all the ropes belonging to the boat. The night being dark as pitch, it was impossible to distinguish anything on shore, and we were unable to conjecture what was to be our fortune. Presently a few men made their appearance and came on board, followed by others in small squads, until before we were hardly aware of it, the cabin was filled from one end to the other by many of the best citizens of Lexington, intermingled by a number of the most fiendish devils the infernal regions ewer puked up. Just at this juncture the steamer lit a torch-light, which enabled us plainly to distinguish on shore a large body of men, armed with U. S. muskets, and three brass field pieces loaded with grape-shot. A committee of seven were appointed by the Lexington people, to hold council with the officers of our company, and the captain of the steamer, after seeking them, took them, with the Lexington committee, into his cabin. The committee demanded, in the name of the people they represented, the arms furnished us by the Chicago people.- Have them they would, if it cost the entire annihilation of our party. If we quietly submitted to their demand, they would only take the arms furnished us by
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the Chicago people; would give us receipt for the same and return them when the difficulties in Kanzas were settled, and would leave our private arms unmolested.- Our officers at first stoutly refused to surrender a thing, and not until two hours had been consumed in parleying, with the advice, influence and persuasion of the steamer captain, did our company consent to yield to their demand. Many, rather than deliver up their guns, threw them overboard. Fifty-eight condemned United States breach-loading Hall's rifles, and seventy-five pounds of powder was the extent of their robbery. They assured us that we would meet. with no more obstacles on our journey, and would be able to enter the territory now without any difficulty whatever; whereas, if we had went in the condition we were previous to their interference, we would have conflicted with U. S. troops! Feeling grateful for the interest manifested in our behalf (!) at six o'clock next morning we were pursuing our journey again. At three o'clock the following morning we reached Kanzas City, where a detachment of Col. Buford's company, (South Carolina desperadoes) numbering upwards of fifty, armed with muskets, revolvers, and bowie knives with others, came on board. Matters passed on quietly until we had proceeded eight or ten miles further, when it was discovered that among the large augmentation to the passengers at the latter city, were Generals Atchison, Stringfellow, Jones, and other notorious ruffian leaders, who sought an interview with our president and told him that our company should not land in Kanzas Territory; that if we attempted it, every soul of us would be slaughtered! They advised us to return on the first steamer, and should be allowed to do so without molestation. As we had only about a dozen rifles, with as many revolvers, we saw that we were virtually prisoners, and deemed their advice wholesome, under the circumstances. A meeting of the company was held and we decided to go back. Upon arriving at Leavenworth City, we found another large armed body of ruffians waiting for us, drawn up in military order on the river banks. Arrangements were made for us to remain on board the boat and return on the same, and after searching all of our baggage, stripping us of our remaining arms, tents, camp-equippage and agricultural implements, a guard of thirty-five picked men, under command of Capt. Clarkson, was stationed over us to prevent our escaping. Weston, six miles further up the river, was the termination of the steamer's route. Here we remained for two days, in close confinement on the boat being allowed to go ashore only in small parties at a time, well guarded. "At Lexington, on our return, we were informed that a party of Massachusetts men were expected there that. day, on the steamer `Sultan,' and that they intended to meet them with a reception similar to the one we were honored with. When about fifty miles below, we met the said steamer, and word having been given our captain that we wished to communicate with them, a signal was made and the boats stopped. Our president endeavored to board their steamer, but was prevented by one of Col. Buford's lieutenants, who was stationed on the taff-rail of our boat, and who drew a revolver on him and ordered him back. Not relishing this assumed authority, our president was about to level him to the deck-he had no arms-when the lieutenant fired. A friend of the lieutenant-Capt. Bell, of South Carolina-knocked the revolver aside, and the ball just barely missed your humble correspondent, who
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was standing near. Had it not been for this timely interference, our president would soon have been weltering in his gore. We accomplished part of our object, however, for during this affray one of our men jumped at least a distance of fifteen feet and got aboard of the steamer, and soon informed the company of the hard usage we had been subjected to, of the fate that was lying in store for them, and entreated them to go back with us. They desired to do so, and while making preparations for their conveyance down, Col. Buford and several of his confederates surrounded the captain of the steamer and advised him not to take them aboard. Our boat shoved off, and the sons of the old Bay State were left to experience the same scenes we had just passed through. They numbered forty men, each armed with a revolver and bowie knife, and had also sixty Sharp's rifles-all of which were lost. They were headed by the celebrated Dr. CUTTER, Physiologist. "We arrived at the mouth of the Missouri, five miles below Alton, on Sunday morning, 29th ult., where we landed in the woods. The captain was afraid to risk his boat at Alton."
KIDDING THE POLITICIANS IN 1860
From The Daily Times, Leavenworth, August 10, 1860.
To the Hon. Mayor and Board of Councilmen of Leavenworth City, K. T. The undersigned citizens being rather "hard up," pecuniarily, and our business not proving remunerative, and some having no visible means of support, would respectfully petition your honorable body to render us such assistance as may be in your power; we therefore pray you to pass the following acts, viz 1. Create as many new offices, and retain as many of the old ones, as the tax payers of the city can bear.
2. Let out some new jobs of public improvement in the city, or else "grub" and "liquor" will fail some of us.
3. Pass an act creating a Lunatic Asylum, a Blind Asylum, a Poor House, a City Jail, and a Hospital, and give the exclusive charge to some scientific association; and although the city may not need such institutions now, yet our Societies will be vastly benefited thereby, even if they receive no salary at the present; yet if you will give its the charge for not less than five years, you can thereby bolster up our waning business.
4. Appoint our agent to tell the members of your honorable body how to vote in all cases where our interests may be involved.
5. Pass an act requiring all candidates for city officers to treat at least twenty-five times a day to "lager beer" and "whiskey," for at least one month before the election.
6. Be careful to pass us no new law, nor to enforce any old law that may drive a large portion of voters from our ticket, and especially for one month before the election; let the people go unbridled.
7. Pass an act giving a reward for the scalps of all flies, bed bugs, mosquitoes, &c., that may be "found at large;" but we pray you not to repeal such act, nor to cease from enforcing it for at least one week.
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8. Pass a law requiring each "unfortunate Cyprian" to pay at least five dollars per month to the Police for the privileges of the city unrestrained, and in case of failure to pay them, they are to be arrested "for keeping houses of ill fame," and fined for the benefit of the City Government; provided that no charge shall be made against the city for advertising them or their houses; and provided further that no police court loafer shall ever enter one of their houses in the day time.
9. Pass a law giving our chartered company the exclusive right to build railroads through all the streets of the city corporation, and although we will not be able to build such roads for years, yet unless you pass such law some outside railroad company may want to enter the city with their road, and thereby the loss to our pockets may be very great.
10. Pass a law giving all chartered railroad companies the privilege of taxing the city not less, in any case, than $150,000 for each company, and fine any citizen who is "old fogy" enough to object to any tax, whether for a road in Japan or New Mexico.
11. Be sure and fill all the offices at least twelve months ahead, and make places for all good hard working members of our party, who are now out of employment, and must have a support in reward for party services.
12. Whatever you do, remember to pass no law that will injure our party with any of the voters of the city, whether it is for the interest of the city as a whole or not.
13. As the salary of some of our city officers is small and not sufficient for services rendered, therefore we ask you to give such extra allowance-especially to our very polite and efficient City Clerk. We pray you to give him five hundred dollars for extra services, as his family has to be supported, and he is, besides, such a faithful member of our party, that he will vote for a man nominated by the party; even if convicted of sheep stealing, before he would vote for the best man in the other party-therefore he deserves extra compensation.
14. Be careful not to forget the lining to your own pockets, in the way of extra services, and do not fail to tax up the costs of "City Dads" well.
and 160 others.
THE ORIGINAL "LADIES' DAY"?
From the Florence Herald, June 28, 1879.
Every Tuesday and Friday the ladies of Florence can have the use of the bath rooms, at the Clifton Hotel. This will be a luxury which will be duly appreciated. All other days the bath rooms are open to gentlemen.