The Early History of Bourbon County
by William G. Cutler
Location and Natural Features
Bourbon County borders on Missouri, and is in the third tier of Counties from the Indian Territory. The northern boundary of the county is three miles north of the 38th parallel of north latitude. It is bounded as follows: On the north by Linn County; on the east by Missouri; on the South by Crawford County and on the West by Neosho and Allen Counties. By the "Bogus Laws," its limits were defined as follows: beginning at the southeast corner of Linn County, thence south thirty miles; thence west twenty-four miles; thence north thirty miles; thence east twenty-four miles to the place of beginning. Within these limits were contained 720 square miles or 460,800 acres.
On February 3, 1867, an act was approved which fixed the boundaries as follows: "Beginning at the southeast corner of Linn County; thence south on the east line of the State of Kansas to the southeast corner of Section 24, Township 27, Range 25; thence west to the southwest corner of Section 23, township 27, Range 21; thence North to the southwest corner of Linn County; thence east to the place of beginning." By this act the extent of the county from north to south was decreased to twenty-five miles, and increased from east to west to about twenty-five and a quarter miles north of the fifth parallel and to about twenty-five and three-quarters south of said parallel, and the area reduced to about 406,000 acres.
The county was named Bourbon, after Bourbon County, Ky. This latter county was organized, with eight others in 1785, by the Virginia Legislature, before Kentucky became a State, and named in honor of the Bourbon family of France, a prince of which family was at that time on the throne, and who had rendered valuable aid in men and money to the American colonies in their struggle for independence.
The general surface of the county is undulating, the highest hills being situated in the northwest part and being about 200 feet above the level of the Marmation. The bottom lands average about one mile in width, and comprise seventeen per cent of the area of the county, the upland comprising eighty-three per cent. The native forests comprise ten per cent of the area; open prairie ninety-per cent. The timber belts average one-half mile in width, and contain, as principal varieties, hackberry, hickory, oak, pecan, and walnut. But little attention has as yet been paid to forestry, but the disposition to plant trees is being manifested. The varieties planted are the ash, catalpa, cottonwood, elm, hickory, hard and soft maple, poplar, walnut, and willow, all of which do well. Bourbon is also an excellent county for the different varieties of grasses. The soil is deep and fertile, and is underlaid by limestone and sandstone at various depths all over the county. Fire clay abounds and pottery clay is occcasionally found, also hydraulic cement, yellow ocher and other mineral paints, which however exist only in limited quantities.
An extensive quarry of fine flagging stone is found about five miles west of Fort Scott. This stone exists in layers from two to five inches in thickness, is known as the Fort Scott stone, and is shipped in all directions and as far eastward as St. Louis. Two qualities of bituminous coal are found, a red quality and a black or gas coal. The most of the county is probably underlaid at depths varying from one to fifty feet, and in veins from one to five feet in thickness. One and a half miles up the Marmaton from Fort Scott is a natural gas well from which escapes about 2,000 cubic feet of gas per day. The well was bored in 1870, and a company formed with the view of supplying Fort Scott with gas from this well, but in reaming out the well, the reamer was broken in the well either by accident or design, and the larger portion of the flow cut off.
The principal streams are the Little Osage and the Marmation. The former flows from west to east near the northern boundary of the county, and has numerous small tributaries from either side, and the main one being Limestone Creek, in the northwestern part of the county, flowing northeasterly. The Marmation flows from the west to east through the central portions of the county, and has numerous tributaries--the main ones from the north being Turkey and Mill Creeks, and from the south Yellow Paint Creek. Pawnee Creek is a tributary of Yellow Paint and flows north. Dry Wood Creek is in the southeastern part of the county, flows eastward, and has as branches Walnut and Richland Creeks. Numerous springs are found and good well water at a depth of from ten to forty feet.
In the year 1837, a plan for the defense of the Western frontier was proposed by Charles Gratiot, and published by the Secretary of War. Fort Scott was recommended as a military post. In 1842, Capt. Benjamin Moore of the First Dragoons, and Dr. Mott, Assistant Surgeon U. S. A. were appointed a commission to select a military post to guard Missouri and the frontier, against the depredations of the Osage Indians. This commission was ordered West by Gen. Zachariah Taylor, from Fort Wayne, I. T., under escort of Lieut. John Hamilton and nineteen men, leaving there April 1, 1842.
They at first selected a suitable place at the mouth of Shoal Creek, on Spring River, fifty-five miles south of Fort Scott. The proprietor of the land, John Rogers, a Cherokee Indian--asked $4,000 for the site selected; but the officers had been instructed not to pay over $1,000, hence the Rogers' site had to be abandoned. Proceeding northwestward, they at length arrived at the Marmaton, in Missouri, and camped near the farm of Col. Douglas. The next morning in company with Col. Douglas and Squire Redfield, they visited the present site of Fort Scott. Being satisfied with the location, and the land belonging to the Government, they decided to locate there.
Lieut. John Hamilton with his party was left in charge, and immediately proceeded to erect temporary quarters for his command. This was on the 9th of April, 1842. These temporary quarters consisted of a one-story log building, daubed with mud, and without a floor. Capt. Moore returned on the 10th of June, with two companies of the First Dragoons, assumed and held command until the arrival of Maj. William M. Graham, who arrived with two companies of the Sixth United States Infantry, when the latter took command, with Capt. Swords for quartermaster, Rev. Mr. Clarkson, Chaplain, and John A. Bugg, sutler.
Mr. Bugg was also Postmaster, and so remained until 1849, when he was succeeded by Col. H. T. Wilson. Within a year from the establishment of the post, its name was changed from Camp Scott to Fort Scott. The first mill in the county was erected by the Government, on Mill Creek, about two and a half miles west of Fort Scott. The lumber for the construction of the Government buildings was sawed at this Mill. These buildings when completed were said to be the finest quarters in the army. They were erected at a cost of upward of $200,000. There was no other military post anywhere near Fort Scott. Fort Gibson was 160 miles southwest, on the Arkansas, and Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri, 140 miles north.
Col. H. T. Wilson who had been in the sutler's department at Fort Gibson for nine years, came to Fort Scott in September, 1843. He purchased of John A. Bugg an interest in the sutlership, and in 1849 purchased the remaining interest and became Postmaster as well as post sutler. Col. Wilson was the first white civilian settler in the county, and still lives in Fort Scott, an honored citizen.
No military reserve was secured here by the Government, hence when a few years later it was decided by the authorities at Washington to abandon the post, the buildings were offered for sale "without land." In 1853, all the movable property was sold, and in May, 1855, the buildings were advertised for sale. When Maj. Howe came down with his auctioneer to sell the buildings, Col. Wilson, by permission, read a protest to the sale; claiming the land upon which the buildings stood, as a preemption; but despite the protest the sale proceeded.
But as there were only a few persons who desired to buy such large buildings without the land, there were very few bidders, and but a small amount was realized from the sale. The improvements that had cost upward of $200,000, sold for less than $5,000. Col. Wilson bought the large, double, two story house, in which he still resides, for $300, selling one-half of it immediately for $150. During the residence of the military, but little was done toward building up a town, and but little military service was required of the soldiers. Social pleasures, trading with the Indians, fishing in the Marmation and its branches, and hunting turkey and deer comprised the round of duties and daily life from 1842 until 1854.
In this latter year, the Territory of Kansas was organized, and settlers began to enter what is now Bourbon County. Among the earliest of these, whose names are now ascertainable, were the following: In 1854, Nathan L. Arnett, in Marmaton Township, and Gideon Terrell, William and Philander Moore, in Pawnee Township; in 1855, Guy Hinton, in Walnut; Cowan Mitchell, James Guthrie, John and Robert Wells, and David T. Ralston, in Marion; in 1856, John Van Syckle, Samuel Stephenson, and Charles Anderson in Franklin; D. D. Roberts and Joseph Ray, in Freedom; H. R. Kelso, A. Ward and Col. Bullock, in Scott; Ephraim Kepley, the Stewarts, Bowers and Halls, in Mill Creek; Gabriel Endicott, David Claypool and others in Drywood. David Endicott assisted the Government in the survey of the neutral lands, and Edward Jones, one of the earliest settlers in Marmaton Township, built the first saw mill in the county, except the one built by the Government, already mentioned. Mr. Jones' mill was erected in 1856, on the Marmaton, near the present site of Marmaton Village. At first it was only a saw mill, but later a grist mill was attached. In Timber Hill Township, the earliest settlers were T. K. and T. B. Julian, father and son, June 4, 1854; F. D. Myrick, in November, 1854; and M. E. Hudson, in 1855.
The first marriage in Mill Creek Township was that of William R. Morgan to Miss Elizabeth Bollinger, June 15, 1856; in Marmaton Township, C. F. Rucker to Miss Ellen M. Chambers, October 16, 1856. The first birth in Marmaton Township was that of Henry C. Painter,
March 15, 1855.
After the invasion of March, 1855, by Missourians, to participate in the election of the 30th, Bourbon County enjoyed comparative peace until July, 1856. At that election, there were about three hundred armed men at the Fort Scott precinct from Missouri, who cast most of the votes that were cast for Joseph C. Anderson and S. A. Williams on that day. At the time, there were probably not more than thirty legal voters in the precinct.
In the early spring of 1856, a party of about thirty men from South Carolina came to Bourbon County under a leader named George W. Jones, all under the auspices of the Southern Emigrant Aid Society, and in furtherance of the scheme of making Kansas a Slave State. Upon their first appearance in the county, their manners were mild and conduct that of gentlemen. They visited most of the Free-State settlers, made inquiries as to where they came from, what their views were upon the pending issues of the day, how they were off for arms and ammunition, and what kind of land there was in this part of the Territory; and informed them that they were looking for a good location for a colony from South Carolina.
Some of the Free-State men were themselves from South Carolina, as was the case with Josiah Stewart, who had settled in what is now Mill Creek Township in 1855; and without suspecting the final ends these pretended forerunners of a colony had in view, gave them full information not only as to the country itself, but as to their own political opinions and means of defense. It thus became easy to make a complete list of the leading Free-State men, with full particulars regarding them, which was done; and then commencing in July, and continuing on through the fall, those on the list were taken prisoners, taken to Fort Scott, and, in some cases, while thus held, advised by some "friend" among their captors, that, if they had any regard for their personal safety it would be best to "skip out" and leave the Territory. In this and other ways nearly all Free-State men were driven out during the year, and a Pro-slavery man put upon each Free-State man's claim.
Besides these operations, there was but one other important historic event that occurred during the year. That was the arrival at Fort Scott from Texas of a party of "Rangers," in August, who, in company with a like number of citizens of Fort Scott, under command of Capt. William Barnes, formed themselves into a company of upward of one hundred, all under the command of the Texas leader, and marched north toward Osawatomie, for the purpose of having "some fun." When camped on Middle Creek, in Linn County, about eight miles south of Osawatomie, they were attacked by Capts. Anderson, Shore and Cline, and most ingloriously defeated.
This battle of Middle Creek, although not very important in itself, has an interesting sequel. The parties engaged in it on the Pro-slavery side, who were not taken prisoners, made the best time possible--some to Missouri, others to Fort Scott, imagining themselves closely and hotly pursued the whole distance, by the "Abolitionists."
"Those who took to their heels arrived home about midnight yelling: 'The Free-State men are upon us; the Free-State men are upon us; the buildings will be burned;' etc. The surprise was so sudden that resistance on the part of those who had remained at home would have proved of little account, and their only salvation was to save what they could and make the best of it. A party consisting of five or six families, with Col. H. T. Wilson as pilot, started for Mr. Brantley's residence about one-half mile from the Fort. They found Mr. Brantley's family in bed fast asleep, but when awakened by the voice of Col. Wilson, asking for shelter, Mr. B. concluded that something of unusual importance was on foot, and so jumped up and opened the door, when a general inpouring took place, and the room was soon filled with frightened women and crying children. Confusion was no name for it.
"Mr. Brantley's sons were at the Fort, but when the Free-State men were announced, hastened home to alarm the household and to prepare for fight. They reached home shortly after the arrival of the Colonel's party and brought the report that everything was being destroyed, and that this was their next point of attack. What was to be done? Destruction and death stared them in the face. One of the ladies suggested a season of prayer. A circle was formed, and Mr. Brantley, who was a very devoted Baptist, commenced to pray. We will leave them on their knees, and return to the Fort, and see what became of the other people.
"Mrs. Dr. Hill who resided on the East Block, was in the act of retiring, when the news reached her that the Free-State men were going to burn the buildings. Her husband and son were away at the time, with the horses, and what to do she hardly knew. She called together the remaining portion of her household, informed them what was up, and after offering prayer, told them to take care of themselves as best they could. She then ordered her servants to bring her carriage around to the front door, and, seating herself in it, ordered the negroes to draw her away to some secluded spot. In the rear of her house was a deep ravine, and an almost impassable road, even in daylight, wended its way to the bottom.
"Down this road they went "a-flying" regardless of expenses, and not until they had reached the thick underbrush, did they stop for further orders. After remaining here for some time she involuntarily clasped her hands to her head, and discovered that in her haste she had forgotten to take her "night cap" off. The first impression that entered her mind after the discovery, was that the "cap" (being white) would attract the attention of the "Abolitionists," and they would shoot at it, so she took it off and put it in her pocket. She remained in the buggy all night, her servants acting as her body guard. The next morning the wanderers returned.
"We are unable to learn whether it was the prayer offered up at Mr. Brantley's that kept the Free-State men from making a raid into the place, or whether Mrs. Hill was drawn back home, but we do know that when Col. Wilson and wife returned, Mrs. Hill rushed over, and told Mrs. Wilson and several other ladies that had assembled at the Colonel's residence, of her exploits.
"After this scare it was thought best by those having families here to send them away. George W. Jones, who hailed from South Carolina, took an active part in this movement. He owned a large wagon (Noah's Ark, No. 2), with a capacity too numerous to mention. He 'took in' all the women and children in the country that he could hear of, who had no other means at their command, and started for the States, drawn by four yoke of oxen."
(This quotation is from a history of Fort Scott by C. Rollin Camp.)
In 1857, the Free-State men, driven from their homes the year before, began to return. A considerable number of new settlers entered the county this year, so that with increased strength they acquired increased confidence in their ability to maintain their rights. As a preliminary step to the regaining possession of their stolen stock and claims they organized themselves into a "wide awake" society, in opposition to the "dark lantern lodge" of the Pro-slavery men. Among the leaders of the "wide awakes" were such men as J. C. Burnett, Capt. Samuel Stevenson, Capt. Bain, Josiah Stewart and Benjamin Rice. This organization of "wide awakes," was accustomed to meet at different settlers' cabins at different times, as a precaution against surprise and attack by their "dark lantern" neighbors.
When everything was in readiness, the Pro-slavery usurpers were notified that they must relinquish the claims they had wrongfully seized. The greater part now realizing the fact that resistance on their part would result certainly in defeat, and possibly in bloodshed, left the appropriated claims on receipt of the notice, but other, more tenacious of these "rights," had to be driven out by force of arms. As an illustration of these difficulties, the case of Stone against Southwood will suffice. Southwood was a preacher of the Methodist Church South, who had taken possession of Mr. Stone's claim and cabin. Upon Mr. Stone's return he endeavored to assert his rights, but the Rev. Southwood refused to vacate.
The Free-State men thereupon built Stone a cabin near the one occupied by Southwood, into which Stone moved his family to await the opening of the land office. Soon a difficulty arose about a well of water, which led to an assault by Mrs. Southwood upon Mrs. Stone. This assault led the Free-State men to order the Rev. Southwood's family off the premises by a certain fixed time. On the day before this order was to be carried into effect, the Rev. Southwood's Pro-slavery friends, to the number of about 200 armed men, prepared to move Mr. Stone off the claim. The Free-State men thereupon collected in Mr. Stone's cabin and awaited the attack of the Rev. Southwood's friends.
The attack was made at night but failed, the attacking party retiring to Fort Scott, threatening to return with increased numbers, and to hang every Free-State man found on the premises. The Free-State men then increased their number to sixty, and awaited the second threatened attack which was made according to promise, but which resulted in failure as had the first. As the result of the whole movement, Rev. Southwood left the premises before his time expired and Mr. Stone was reinstated.
Similar difficulties were of frequent occurrence, and it is certain that the Free-State men did not in every instance have the law and the right upon their side, as a six months' abandonment of a claim worked a forfeiture of legal title to it under the pre-emption laws. At any rate they were frequently arrested on various kinds of charges, and harassed in every conceivable way. The District Court was presided over by Judge Joseph Williams. Claim questions were for a time referred to his court for decision, but the Judge being a Pro-slavery man very generally decided in favor of the Pro-slavery claimant, and the Free-State men indicted for the most part for imaginary offenses were either required to give excessive bail, or refused bail altogether.
The Free-State men were of course universally dissatisfied with such a state of things, and Montgomery determined if practicable to bring Judge Williams to his senses. To this end he arrested a certain Pro-slavery man, kept him in custody long enough, and treated him severely enough to make him think when released that he had been in great peril and was exceedingly fortunate in being released at all; incidentally mentioning in his hearing his own intention of marching to Fort Scott and forcibly releasing the prisoners held and refused bail. Montgomery's Pro-slavery prisoner, upon being set at liberty, immediately set out for Fort Scott, and lost no time in informing Judge Williams of Montgomery's programme; whereupon the Judge suddenly discovered that to refuse bail to prisoners under such circumstances was a thing unheard of in law and in itself absurd. The prisoners were at once released without bail, and upon their own recognizance.
On account of the dissatisfaction of the Free-State men with the decisions of Judge Williams' court, they organized a court of their own, calling it the "Squatters' Court." Dr. Gilpatrick, of Anderson County, was made Judge, and Henry Kilbourn, Sheriff. The proceedings of this court were regular and dignified, its decisions impartial and just, and rigidly executed, by its most efficient Sheriff.
The proceedings of this squatter's court were as distasteful to the Pro-slavery men, as were those of Judge Williams to the Free-State men, and in consequence, on the 12th of December, 1857, an expedition was organized, and started out under the command of Deputy United States Marshal Little, of Fort Scott, to capture the court. This attempt was a failure, and on the 16th of the month Marshal Little organized a posse of about fifty men, for a second attempt. As Little approached the "fort," Capt. Bain's house, in which the "court" was sitting, he was met by an embassy from the "court," consisting of D. B. Jackson, Maj. Abbott and Gen. Blunt. This embassy had been sent out, as Marshal Little was advancing, under a flag of truce.
At the close of the parley that ensued, Marshal Little informed the embassy that if the "court" did not surrender in thirty minutes he "would blow them all to hell." Thereupon the embassy returned to the "fort," which the "court" promptly placed in condition of defense by removing the chinking from between the logs for port holes. Those who had shotguns remained inside, while those who had rifles stationed themselves near the "fort" behind trees. Maj. Abbott then warned Little that if he advanced beyond a certain line he would be fired upon. Little advanced, notwithstanding, and received a volley from Maj. Abbott's rifles and muskets.
The Marshal's men returned the volley, and then wheeling beat as precipitate a retreat as possible to the distance of one-half a mile. Here they halted and learned that four of their number had received slight flesh wounds, and that B. F. Brantley's horse had been shot through the neck. Little re-formed his line, and asked all who were willing to make a second attack upon the "fort" to step aside with him. Ten men responded, and Little at their head made a second advance, with the same result as before, except this time none of his men were wounded. None of the Free-State men were wounded in either charge. Finding it impracticable to take "Fort Bain," the Marshal led his posse back to Fort Scott.
On the following day, as Marshal Little was approaching "Fort Bain," with forces increased to about 150 men, he was informed by William Hinton, "that his birds had flown." This upon reaching the fort he found to be true, the court having retired during the night to the Baptist Church at Danford's Mill. Here their numbers were increased to about 300. On the following Sunday they returned to "Fort Bain," and held a "jollification" over the victory of the previous Tuesday. They then returned to the Baptist Church, disbanded and went to their homes.
Prominent among the members of this "Squatter's Court" were Capt. Bain, Col. Phillips, P. B. Plumb, Gen. Lane, and Maj. Abbott, who was military commander. One of Marshal Little's posse, James Rhoades, who was at the time engineer at Ed. Jones saw mill, after returning to Fort Scott, started back to the mill, up the Marmaton. On the road he met a Mr. Weaver, a Free-State man, with whom he engaged in a controversy. Weaver was unarmed, Rhoades had a gun he had in some way obtained possession of which belonged to a Free-State man in Linn County, and besides being armed he was under the influence of intoxicants.
He attempted to shoot Weaver, but Weaver seized the gun, wrenched it from his grasp, and shot him through the head, killing him instantly. He was buried on the 20th, with Masonic ceremonies. Weaver retained possession of the gun, and thereby came near getting himself into serious difficulty. It had an individuality of its own, and was well known to many Free-State men of Linn County and when it was discovered by some of them in Weaver's possession, he was at once adjudged a Pro-slavery man, and had to prove himself innocent before his personal safety was re-assured.
About this time began what may be called the Denton difficulty. In the year 1856, a Pro-Slavery man named Hardwicke settled on the Little Osage, and later in the same year, Isaac and James Denton, father and son, and also Pro-slavery men, came to Bourbon County from the South. Hardwicke permitted James Denton to settle on a claim of his, upon the condition that in the spring that he should look up a claim for himself. When the time arrived for Denton to vacate the claim, he refused to do so, and referred his case to the "Squatter Court," which sustained him. Hardwicke's cabin was fired into, and himself and family forced to leave the claim; but he himself lurked around the country for some months.
About the last of March, 1858, Isaac Denton and Hedrick were shot and killed. Davis' house was fired into and he was wounded in the hand. Hardwicke and some of his friends were suspected of the crime and fled the country. He was subsequently arrested in Missouri, placed in irons and delivered to John Denton, another son of Isaac's, to be brought to Kansas for trial; but on the way Denton shot Hardwicke dead. Denton in his turn was shot and killed October 25, 1860, at the State Line Grocery, near Barnesville, by William Marchbanks in retaliation for the killing of Hardwicke.
Toward the close of the year 1857, Montgomery's band, on account of their operations on the Little Osage, became known as the "Osages," and the pro-slavery element, as the "Pro-slaveries." The people of Fort Scott during this time were constantly subject to alarms, by reports that the "Osages" were coming to attack the place. The Fort Scott people were composed of three classes of persons--Free-State, Pro-slavery, and Border Ruffians of the worst class. Among the latter were such men as George W. Clarke, W. B. Brockett and the Hamiltons.
Against these men the "Osages" entertained an undying hatred, and it was because they were harbored in the city against the wishes of the Free-State and other peace-loving citizens that these annoyances and alarms were of such frequent occurrence. The Free-State men in the city did most of the guard duty, and from the peculiarity of their position were almost constantly between two fires; or at least they had to serve as a kind of bulwark, over which the "Osages" from without had to fire, or through which they had to break, in order to reach the Border Ruffians within.
On account of these constant alarms, a public meeting was held in Fort Scott, Sunday December 13. Gov. E. Ransom was Chairman, J. Kennedy Williams, Secretary. A committee on resolutions was appointed, consisting of Charles P. Bullock, H. T. Wilson, George W. Clarke, D. F. Greenwood, Dr. Hill, S. A. Williams, J. W. Head, John H. Little, J. Cummings, William Gallaher, Mr. Harlan and B. F. Brantley. Gov. Ransom was afterward added to the committee. At an adjourned meeting held in the afternoon, the following resolutions were reported and adopted:
Resolved, That the Sheriff and Deputy Marshal be requested to make affidavits to the facts touching the matter now under consideration, and that the same be conveyed by express, accompanied by a communication to the Governor of the Territory for military aid.
Resolved, That a committee be appointed, consisting of five persons, to be denominated a 'Committee of Vigilance,' under whose authority and directions a military organization shall be had, with a view to aid when necessary the civil authorities in the execution of warrants, and any other legal process, and in the due execution of the laws; and it shall be the further duty of the committee to organize a night patrol for the security of our town, and its citizens and their property.
The Vigilance Committee appointed consisted of H. T. Wilson, B. Little, T. B. Arnett, George A. Crawford and J. W. Head. The following resolution, offered by George W. Clarke, was also Adopted:
Resolved, That we recommend to the good citizens of the Territory to abstain from all retaliatory acts, and not to allow themselves to be drawn into illegal combinations or conduct by the acts of lawless men, but in all cases to maintain their rights under and by the laws of the land.
The following communication accompanied the affidavit of the Sheriff:
TO HIS EXCELLENCY F. P. STANTON, ACTING GOVERNOR OF KANSAS TERRITORY:
Sir: As Sheriff of Bourbon County, I feel it my duty to report to you that in consequence of an organized and armed resistance to the civil authorities by a body of armed men in this county aided and assisted by men equally lawless, I am unable to serve processes, make arrests, or otherwise perform my official duties; and I have the honor to ask that you have a body of United States troops sent to this point to aid me in enforcing the laws, and to give quiet to the disturbed state of things in this region. Herewith I send my affidavit and the concurrent statement of Marshal Little.
JOHN S. CUMMINGS
Sheriff of Bourbon County.
In response to this appeal, Secretary Stanton sent Companies E and F, First United States Cavalry, to Fort Scott, under command of Capt. Sturgis, they arriving there December 21. Their presence had the effect to restore and maintain quiet for several weeks. But on January 10 the troops were removed to Fort Leavenworth, and it was not long before the old troubles broke out afresh, and guard duty was resumed. At that time, "Old Ganter," as he was called, a German, was living on Mill Creek, on a claim which he had bought in that part of the county.
One night in February, 1858, he came into Fort Scott, and reported the enemy in his neighborhood, saying, he "vish der tam Abolitionists get frost bite mit der feet!" "Old Ganter" was somewhat of a character. He owned a slave of whom he took good care, and obliged his wife to do all the heavy work. At one time he was asked by Ed Jones if he thought it was right to drive the Free-State men off their claims as was then being done by Pro-slavery men. His reply was, "Oh, vell! By Tam, der vill pe so many less to vote." But when his time came to be driven out by the Free-State men, with characteristic inconsistency, he sought the protection of the very men of whose expulsion he had previously so emphatically approved. Ganter was afterward shot and killed by bushwhackers during the war.
At the time the forerunners, under George W. Jones of the South Carolina "colony," were making their selection of claims, Josiah Stewart was advised by Jones as a "friend" to leave the Territory. Mr. Stewart acted on this advice. In 1857, he returned and took possession of his claim. In June, 1860, Nathaniel Boylston returned from Texas to Kansas through Missouri. In passing through Fort Scott, some of his Pro-slavery friends told him they knew of a good claim they wanted occupied by a good Pro-slavery man, and acting on the advice of a lawyer, Boylston moved onto the claim then belonging to and occupied by Mr. Stewart. The next morning, which was Sunday, Mr. S. heard some one chopping in the timber, and with one of his boys, went out to learn who it was and why.
Upon approaching Mr. Boyston, whom he did not know, he inquired of him why he was there, and what he proposed to do. Mr. B. replied "You will see in time. I propose to pre-empt this claim." Mr. Stewart thereupon sent his son back to the house after a shot gun and revolver, and upon their arrival went down to Mr. Boylston, who had his ox-team and wagon and family with him, and some other man also for a witness to the fact of his having made his "improvement" on the claim. As Mr. Stewart came near the party, and demanded of Mr. B. what he meant by attempting to pre-empt a claim already taken by himself, Mr. Boylston stepped from the opposite side to the rear of the wagon, brought his gun to his shoulder, and attempted to fire on Mr. Stewart; but the gun failed to go off.
Stewart then raised his gun and fired upon Boylston, wounding him so that he died in about thirty days. Stewart gave himself up to await the result of the shooting. Upon the preliminary trial, the doctors testified that the wounds were not necessarily mortal. In the following fall, the grand jury failed to find an indictment against Mr. Stewart, and he was therefore never brought to trial. Mrs. Boylston contested Mr. Stewart's claim, but did not succeed in securing it.
On the night of the 10th of February, 1858, scouts reported that the "Osages" were coming to the city, and were certain there was now no mistake about it. Montgomery had been appealed to for assistance by a Mr. Johnson, who had suffered from the Border Ruffians of the city. He at once set out at the head of about forty men, to execute writs which had been procured against the offenders. He was met by a deputation of citizens at the outskirts of the town. Of this deputation he demanded the persons for whom writs were held, and received the reply that they should be surrendered upon condition of being tried in Fort Scott, but that otherwise they would not be surrendered without a fight.
Montgomery promptly decided to fight and put his command in motion for the town, preceded by the more rapid movements of the deputation among the members of which were Judge Williams and George A. Crawford. All the leading Pro-Slavery men suddenly discovered that important business interests in Missouri demanded their immediate attention, and when Montgomery arrived, the birds he sought were flown. The hospitalities of the city were extended to, and accepted by, the "Osages," after which they quietly took their departure.
On the 15th, the runaways returned, and a serious difficulty arose at the Fort Scott Hotel, on account of an attack by W. B. Brockett on Charles Dimon. Mr. Campbell, proprietor of the hotel, was, however, equal to the emergency, and by his determined bravery, prevented bloodshed. On this same day two companies of the First United States Cavalry were ordered to Fort Scott, to report to Judge Williams or Deputy Marshal John H. Little, They arrived on the 26th, under command of Capt. George T. Anderson and Lieut. Ned. Ingraham. Montgomery always desired to avoid a conflict with United States troops and now as Fort Scott was defended by them, he operated against the Pro-slavery men in the country, with the object of driving them into the city. Many families, some say as many three hundred, were thus broken up and ruined.
Capt. Anderson could afford them no security at their isolated homes, and the only recourse was to flock to the city, which they did. During these raids, much property and many horses were stolen. John Brown had a fine horse, which belonged to Mr. Poyner, and Montgomery had one belonging to J. J. Farley, which he offered, some time afterward, to permit Judge Wright to ride home to its owner, but on account of the horse being "too wild," the Judge declined. During these raids, on the 28th of February, a party of Montgomery's men, under command of Rev. John E. Stewart, alias Levi W. Plumb, approached the house of Van Zumalt, a Pro-slavery man living on the Little Osage, and in attempting to enter it shot and badly wounded him. He, however, recovered and left the Territory.
After the killing of Denton and Hedrick, Travis was arrested and tried for complicity in the murder. He was a harmless old man, about sixty years of age, and without marked political proclivities. The "squatter court" before which he was tried found him "not guilty." On his way home he stopped at Wasson's, where, on April 1, he was shot and killed, some say by James Denton and others of Montgomery's men.
On the 21st of April, Montgomery, with a small party of his men, were in the valley of the Marmaton. Word was brought to Capt. Anderson that a party of "Osages" were up the valley robbing and plundering. Capt. Anderson immediately started in pursuit. On his way, he passed Jones' saw-mill, where a meeting of Free-State men was being presided over by John Hamilton. Anderson invited Hamilton to accompany him in pursuit of Montgomery, but he was "too busy" just at that time to leave. Anderson soon came in sight of Montgomery, who, upon discovering the presence of United States troops, retreated at full speed up Paint Creek, closely pursued.
Arriving at a narrow defile, Montgomery dismounted his men and assumed the defensive. Capt. Anderson's troops were fired upon as they approached, one of their number mortally wounded, Capt. Anderson's horse killed, and the troops defeated. An armistice followed, to remove the Captain from under his fallen horse, and the "Osages" beat a timely retreat, having but one of their number slightly wounded. The wounded soldier, Alvin Satterwaite, a young man of good family, and exemplary habits, died on the 23d and was buried on the 24th, with military honors.
It is impossible to imagine, much less to appreciate and describe, the bitterness of feeling which existed in the hearts of the two classes of the people that then inhabited the Territory against each other. Insult and wrong provoke retaliation, and the retaliators seldom cease when they have merely dealt out justice. Revenge continues to spur them on, and it is natural to desire to put the enemy hors du combat, so that he shall no longer be dangerous or a disturber of the peace. It was in some such spirit as this that a portion of Montgomery's men, calling themselves "the committee of safety," met the next day after the encounter with the troops and passed the following resolutions, believing as they did that the Pro-slavery residents of Fort Scott had instigated the attack upon them by the troops.
WHEREAS, A body of Government soldiers and border ruffians did, on the 21st inst. fire upon some Free-State citizens, who were peacefully and inoffensively traveling on the common highway, and being incited to commit said outrageous and unlawful act by other ruffians living in Fort Scott;
Resolved, 1. That Judge Joseph Williams, the corrupt tool of slavocracy, be required to leave this Territory in six days; after that period he remains at the peril of his life.
2. That Dr. Blake Little, J. C. Sims and W. T. Campbell, the traitors who were elected by fraud and corruption to the bogus Legislature, be required to leave within six days--an infraction of this order at their peril.
3. That H. T. Wilson, G. P. Hamilton and D. F. Greenwood, the infamous swindlers of the Lecompton Convention, who forged an infamous constitution, be hung to death if they are caught in this Territory ten days from date.
4. That E. Ransom and G. W. Clarke, the holders of the two "wings" of the pretended National Democracy and the corrupt fuglemen of a corrupt President, have six days to leave this Territory, under penalty of death.
5. That J. H. Little, James Jones, Brockett, B. McDonald, A. Campbell, Harlan and the ruffians who accompanied the soldiers to assist and witness the massacre of Free-State citizens, be sentenced to death.
6. That Kennedy Williams and D. Sullivan, who stole by legal forms horses of Free-State citizens, be sentenced to whipping and branding and then be driven from the Territory.
7. That after the departure of the Judge and Marshal, no other official officers shall be allowed to administer the law but those elected under the Free-State constitution.
8. That Judge Griffith, Maj. Montgomery and Capt. Hamilton be directed to carry out the orders of this meeting.
9. That Capt. Anderson shall be hanged to the highest tree in Bourbon County, and every soldier put to death wherever he may be found.
10. That a copy of this notice be served on the people of Fort Scott.
No effort seems to have been made to carry out these resolutions.
As early as March of this year, a feud developed itself in the Fort Scott Town Company. George W. Clarke was continually concocting some scheme to its injury, and on several occasions in Trustee meetings an angry debate occurred, in which George W. Clarke and George A. Crawford were the principal opposing disputants. On the 27th of April the feud came to a head. Dr. G. P. Hamilton and Brockett notified by letter George A. Crawford, Charley Dimon and William Gallaher to leave town within twenty-four hours, under penalty of being shot on sight.
It was now plain that Crawford & Co. or Hamilton & Co. must go. Crawford & Co. decided to stay, let the consequences be what they might. It was not long before the new state of affairs was generally understood, and a force of about twenty-five well-armed men collected to prevent the execution of the Brockett-Hamilton programme. On account of the killing of young Satterwaite the week previous, it was feared the soldiers would take sides with Hamilton's crowd, but investigation proved that only three had been induced to do so. J. H. Little and B. F. Brantley arrayed themselves on the side of Mr. Crawford, as did also Capt. Anderson and all of his soldiers except these three.
Next morning, when they were found to be missing, a Sergeant with a guard was detailed to find them. The Sergeant proceeded to the Western Hotel, where he found Brockett and demanded of him the deserters. Brockett at first flatly refused to surrender them, but the Sergeant, who with his men was well armed, told Brockett he should have the deserters, even if he had to tear down the hotel to get them. Brockett yielded, the men were taken to camp, given their breakfast, and ordered by their comrades to leave town within one hour, under penalty of death. This order they promptly obeyed. The original parties to the feud remained mutually besieged until next day, when Brockett, Hamilton, and most of the other border ruffians left Fort Scott for good, and were not again heard of there until after the Marais des Cygnes massacre, in which they played the leading part.
The next event of importance was the arrival of troops under command of Major, subsequently Maj. Gen. Sedgwick. This was May 6, the troops consisting of one company of dragoons, one of heavy artillery and a section of T. W. Sherman's battery. On the 17th all the troops, except the heavy artillery and battery, left for Fort Leavenworth, those remaining being in command of Lieut. Shinn. Soon reports of the Marais des Cygnes massacre were circulated throughout the country, and of retaliatory robberies by Montgomery's men.
All was excitement and false alarms for a number of days, until on the 29th of May, Deputy U. S. Marshal Samuel Walker, of Douglas County, reached Raysville on his way to Fort Scott with writs for the arrest of Montgomery and others of his men. He had been sent down by Gov. Denver, who feared that bloodshed would result from the terrible state of excitement in Southeastern Kansas, and who thought it could be prevented by the arrest of a few of the Free-State leaders. Gov. Denver had offered Marshal Walker all the troops he might need for the execution of the writs, but the Marshal knowing that Montgomery would not arrest him if he went alone, and that if he went with a body of troops, Montgomery could not be found. He reached Raysville accompanied only by Maj. Williams.
Upon his arrival there he found assembled about 200 men, who were being addressed by Montgomery in favor of going to and burning Fort Scott. A Mr. Oakly, who was the only one of the crowd that knew the Marshal, asked him why he was there, to which he replied, "To arrest Montgomery." Mr. Oakly advised him not to attempt it, as it could not be done. Montgomery in his address told his friends that a Deputy U. S. Marshal was coming down to arrest him, that the authorities would arrest Free-State men, but that they would not arrest Pro-slavery men and advised the expedition to Fort Scott, which finally was the decision of the meeting. After the speaking concluded, Marshal Walker arose to address the meeting. He informed them that he was a U. S. Marshal, and that if they would get out warrants for Clarke and others who were believed to have been participants in the Marais des Cygnes Massacre, and furnish him with a posse he would go to Fort Scott and arrest them.
The reply to this proposition was that the Judges would not issue the warrants. The Marshal then told them to get warrants from Justice of the Peace, and that, although he, as a U. S. Marshal, had no right to serve a writ issued by a Justice of the Peace, yet in this case he would do it. So armed with his writs for the arrest of George W. Clarke and others, and escorted by a posse of seventy-five mounted men with Montgomery in command, the Marshal entered Fort Scott on Sunday morning May 30. Among the first in Fort Scott to discover the Marshal's presence was George W. Clarke. He seized his Sharpe's rifle, ran in his shirt sleeves and with face exceedingly pale to the hotel and gave the alarm, and then ran to his house.
The Marshal soon arrested a few that he wanted and proceeded to Clarke's house. Clarke closed his house and refused to surrender. Montgomery drew his men up in line in front of the house, Clarke's friends to the number of 300 quickly assembled and drew themselves up in line on the sidewalk in front of Montgomery, and not ten feet distant, every revolver and rifle on both sides on the cock. The Marshal seized a tongue belonging to a Government wagon, and was on the point of breaking down the door when Clarke put his head out of an upper window and said that if any one would assure him that Marshal Walker was in command of the posse he would surrender.
Mr. Oakly assured him of that fact, and in a moment Clarke opened the door and came out, his wife on one arm and daughter on the other and a carbine in his hand. He asked to see the Marshal's writ, which the Marshal refused to show, knowing that Clarke would refuse to surrender to him on such authority. Walker drew his pistol on Clarke, told Maj. Williams to hold his watch and count two minutes, and then told Clarke that if during the two minutes he did not surrender, he should fire upon him, whereupon Clarke dropped his carbine and gave up.
Immediately upon Clarke's surrender, Capt. Campbell, a Deputy United States Marshal, of Fort Scott, came forward with a warrant for the arrest of Montgomery, and said to Marshal Walker, "Montgomery is in command of your posse, here is a warrant for him, now arrest him!" Walker replied, "Arrest him yourself; if I had a warrant for him I would arrest him."
As soon as Montgomery heard Campbell speak, he ordered his men to "shoulder arms," "about face," and "double quick for their horses," leaving Marshal Walker and Maj. Williams alone with their prisoners. Matters now became pretty warm for the Marshal. He was in a tight place, in a "bad fix," and in order to get out of it he persuaded Marshal Campbell to furnish him with a horse that he might pursue and arrest Montgomery. Upon overtaking Montgomery, he induced him to surrender, and took him back to Fort Scott, when all the people turned out to see the unusual sight of Montgomery a prisoner.
Marshal Walker, then turned Clarke and his other prisoners over to Capt. Lyon, who was stationed there and was present when the arrest was made, on condition that Capt. Lyon should send them the next day to Lecompton for trial, and himself started for Lecompton with his prisoner, Montgomery. The next day, upon arriving at Raysville, he was overtaken by a courier from Capt. Lyon, bearing a dispatch stating that he had just released Clarke and the other prisoners on a writ of habeas corpus. This news vexed Marshal Walker so much that he promptly released Montgomery and told him "to stay and fight it out," and when he was through to report to Lecompton, all of which Montgomery promised to do.
Upon the authority of Capt. Lyon, it may be stated that had not Clarke surrendered, and had he been shot by Marshal Walker, as he undoubtedly would have been, Walker himself would have been immediately riddled by more than one hundred bullets.
On the morning of June 7, an attempt was made by some of Montgomery's men to burn the Western Hotel, Fort Scott, by piling a quantity of hay against it and igniting it, and a number of shots were fired into town from the southwest. No one was hurt, and the fire was extinguished before any harm was done. Capt. Nathaniel Lyon was stationed in the city on the 10th, for the purpose of protecting the place. On the 13th, Gov. Denver arrived, and on the 14th a public meeting was held with a view of arriving at a basis of peace. Speeches were made by Govs. Denver, Robinson and Ransom, Judges Wright and Griffith, and B. F. Brantley. Gov. Ransom, at the request of Gov. Denver, made a speech expressing his views as to the cause of the troubles, and as to the course the Territorial Government should pursue. He said that Montgomery, Jennison, Brown, and their men were guilty of robbery and murder, and should be brought to trial and punished. Judge Wright opposed Gov. Ransom's sentiments and plan; feeling ran high, and serious difficulty for a time was feared. But by the judicious and firm course of Gov. Denver, peace was restored, and the meeting adjourned until next day.
The adjourned meeting was held at Raysville, of which Gov. Denver assumed control. He made a brief address to the assembled settlers, during which he said in substance that his purpose in visiting Southern Kansas, was to assist to removing difficulties then existing, that he should treat actual settlers without regard to past differences; that he believed both parties had been to blame; that his mission was to secure peace, and as a basis for an agreement, proposed the following conditions:
The withdrawal of the troops from Fort Scott.
The election of new officers in Bourbon County by the citizens thereof, without regard to party lines.
The stationing of troops along the Missouri frontier to guard against invasion from that State.
The suspension of the execution of old writs until their legitimacy could be properly authenticated.
The abandonment of the field by Montgomery and his men and all other bodies of armed men, on both sides.
As soon as the Governor had concluded his address, numerous calls were made for Montgomery. His appearance had the effect to reduce the assembly to breathless silence. The most intense interest was manifested in what he had to say, as he was universally recognized as the leading spirit of the party with whom the Governor was making a compromise. Montgomery said in substance, that he accepted the terms the Governor had proposed, and thanked him for the spirit of justice by which he appeared to be actuated; that justice, which for so long had been a stranger to the Free-State party, was what of all things it most desired; that he should with the sincerest pleasure, return to his home, and that when the Governor redeemed the pledges he had that day made, he would disband the three hundred men that followed his banner and his fortunes and retire to his cabin home, there to remain.
Tranquillity was thus restored, and both parties seemed to strive for some months to preserve the peace. Under date of June 25, Capt. Lyon wrote to Gov. Denver, that the agreement up to that time was fully observed; and on August 5, Gov. Denver wrote that the troops are no longer needed at Fort Scott. But notwithstanding this quietude the embers of turmoil were not extinguished, only temporarily smothered and liable to burst forth into flame at any moment on the least provocation. The Pro-slavery men and many who were Free-State men were much dissatisfied with Gov. Denver for making a compromise with Montgomery, believing with Gov. Ransom that he and his "banditti" ought to be brought to punishment; and a difference of opinion developed as to what were in fact the terms of the compromise.
Montgomery's men claimed that although it was not so stated in the treaty, yet it was the distinct understanding that no arrests should be made for any offenses committed prior to June 15, the day upon which the compromise was effected, that "by-gones should be by-gones," and that all would do their best to preserve the peace. The Pro-slavery party claimed on the other hand that the compromise did not mean that there should be entire immunity from punishment for all crimes committed prior to June 15, but only that private individuals should refrain from inflicting punishment according to their own code and pleasure; and that it was an article of that compromise that all such offenses should be referred to the Grand Juries of the proper counties; that that compromise only pledged immunity from punishment for political offenses; that it could not and did not condone crimes against the law. Thus the Denver compromise left room for wide differences of opinion, disputes and difficulties. What the Free-State men and Jayhawkers called a "by-gone" the Pro-Slavery men and sometimes officers of the law did not call a "by-gone." What the former called a "political offense," the latter called a "crime against the law."
In the meantime, however, George W. Clarke, who had been so long in the land office at Fort Scott, who was one of the worst, if not the worst of the evil geniuses of the border, and for whom there are even now few, if any, to speak well, had been got rid of, to the great joy of all the citizens. In August, the President had appointed him to the position of Purser in the Navy, and he left Fort Scott under an escort, which conducted him safely into Southwestern Missouri.
The following extract from a letter written by a Pro-slavery man November 10, 1858, shows the general estimate in which George W. Clarke was held:
I suppose the Governor (Denver) forgot to name George W. Clarke, a pet in the land office at Fort Scott, who was the real cause of all the troubles in that region and that a company of Dragoons had to be stationed there to protect him from the merited vengeance of an outraged people. He forgot to say that the Government "pet" had, in the summer of 1856, plundered, robbed and burned out of house and home nearly every Free-state family in Linn County, while his hands were steeped in innocent blood, and the light of burning buildings marked his course. This being the case, was it any wonder that the country arose in a flame of indignation, and clamored for revenge against the soulless wretch placed in their midst, and rewarded for his brutality?
I am no friend to Montgomery, nor to those who sustain him, for he caused many civil and unoffending families to abandon their homes. Had he, after having raised his forces, marched to Fort Scott, demanded the surrender of the murderer Clarke,* and then strung him up to the nearest tree, and gone home to his business, he would have deserved the gratitude of his country. But he showed himself a desperado and a plunderer, and his gang played a stronger game for their pockets than they did for the safety and security of the people.
*It is now conceded that Clarke was innocent of the murder of Barber--time has shown that he, in common with many others, was accused falsely in those troublous times.
It is not easy to state with certainty which party first broke the truce, but on the 16th of November, Ben Rice was arrested on a number of indictments by Charles Bull, Sheriff of Bourbon County; and on the same day, or about the same time, the houses of Poyner and Lemons, a short distance north of Fort Scott, were robbed by some of Montgomery's men. One of the indictments against Rice was for the murder of Travis, who had been shot February 28. Montgomery regarded this as a violation of the treaty of June 15, looking upon the act as a political offense, or "by-gone," while the other side regarded it as a crime against the law. Then followed a couple of weeks of horse-stealing, robbing and threats of personal violence, which led to a second meeting at Raysville, held December 1, with the view of again restoring peace.
Of this meeting, W. R. Griffith was President, J. C. Burnett and Rev. M. Brockman, Vice Presidents, and J. E. Jones, Secretary. The compromise of June 15, was discussed, and a new set of resolutions reported and adopted. A resolution that all offenses committed prior to June 15 last, be referred to the Grand Juries of the proper counties, was lost by a vote of 64 to 109. A motion was then made by Rev. M. Brockman, but subsequently withdrawn, "that we now go to Fort Scott and release Benjamin Rice." At this meeting, Montgomery made the statement that by finding indictments against Rice and others, the compromise had been broken. This brought out a letter from Judge Wright denying the truth of the statement, but saying that if all the Pro-slavery men were of the stamp of Dr. Little and son, neither Montgomery nor Brown would then be in the field "driven almost, if not entirely, to be maniacs." Ex-Gov. Denver also wrote a letter dated December 19, denying that Montgomery's was the true interpretation of the treaty of June 15. He wrote: "In that agreement it was never intended to compromise the laws of the Territory, by debarring the Grand Juries from the proper discharge of their duty. The agreement was substantially this: That for past offenses no arrests should be made, except upon indictment found by the Grand Juries."
But on this question it was impossible for the two parties to agree, and the release of Rice was fully determined upon by Montgomery. Accordingly, on the 15th of December, he organized a rescuing party of nearly 100 men, Old John Brown being one of the party. John Brown, however, did not enter Fort Scott with Montgomery, for the reason that the two differed as to what should be done with the city, upon entering it. Brown was in favor of its complete destruction, or, as Montgomery afterward said to parties still living: "If Brown had been in command of the party instead of myself, not one stone of Fort Scott would have been left upon another." Montgomery's main object was to release Rice. He therefore proceeded with his men without Brown, leaving him at what was called the "Wimset farm," about three miles from Fort Scott up the Marmaton and entering the city about daylight.
Upon approaching the house in which Rice was held prisoner, one of the large double houses built by the Government, then called the "Free-State Hotel," and kept by Col. William T. Campbell, now occupied as a residence by Judge Margrave, Montgomery divided his command into three divisions of twenty each. One of these divisions passed quietly around to the right of the hotel, another as quietly to the left, while the third division entered the house by the front door, which had been left unlocked for the convenience of George A. Crawford, who, upon Little's invitation, slept with him that night in the store. Thus the hotel fell an easy prey to the mob. This third division went up stairs into the third story, or attic, where they found Rice chained to the floor. A chopping axe was soon brought up, and with it the chain which was around Rice's leg was severed, and thus the prisoner released.
While this was going on a tragedy was being enacted just across the alley from the hotel. Here was the building or store in which Little and George A. Crawford had passed the night. The front end of this store faces southwest, and the side is next the alley toward the southeast. At both front and side is a door over which there is a transom. In this store Little and George A. Crawford were sleeping. The noise made by the rescuing party awoke them, and Little opening the front door fired upon the party with his shot gun, which he had used the day before in hunting ducks.
The duck-shot with which the gun was loaded lodged in the heavy overcoat worn by J. H. Kagi, doing but little injury to Mr. Kagi. Immediately after firing his gun, Little closed the front door and locked it, went to the side door, placed a dry goods box against it, and mounted the box to look out through the transom to see what was going on. The transom window being covered with dust, he proceeded to clean it with a handkerchief so that he might see out. The movement of the handkerchief was noticed by Montgomery's men in the alley, one of whom raised his Sharpe's rifle and fired at the handkerchief, not being able to see Little, but hitting him almost precisely in the center of the forehead, from which shot he of course instantly fell to the floor, and expired in about an hour.
The cannon was immediately brought to bear upon the store, and a demand made for its surrender. This demand was not complied with. But an entrance to the store was effected through the back door, which was opened by Dr. Blake Little to admit Miss Louisa Conway. Montgomery's men then robbed the store of about $7,000 worth of goods, consisting mostly of dry goods, but quite a number of ladies' saddles were taken.
Alexander McDonald, then living in the house now owned by Gen. C. W. Blair, opened his door, and stepped out upon the porch. Upon refusing to surrender, he was promptly fired upon by C. R. Jennison, the bullet passing through the door. Mr. McDonald immediately retreated into the house unharmed. From twelve to fifteen of the citizens of Fort Scott were made prisoners, among them Col. and Mrs. H. T. Wilson. It was the design of Montgomery's men to burn Col. Wilson's store, but Montgomery, discovering, as he thought in Mrs. Wilson a resemblance to Dr. Hogan, who had at a certain time befriended him, and upon learning from her that she and the doctor were brother and sister, gave the order that the store should not be burned, upon the condition, however, that the Colonel should furnish breakfast for fifty of his men. The Colonel ordered the breakfast at the "Western," or Pro-slavery" hotel; but not a mouthful of it was tasted for fear of poison.
Little was buried next day in the west part of town, and subsequently removed to Evergreen Cemetery. The following resolution, passed with others on the day of his burial, shows the estimation in which he was held by his brother Masons: "That our brother living, was an ornament to society, a worthy representative of the genial spirit and kindly virtues of our order, and in every sense a noble, generous, brave and upright man."
After the occurrence of this affair, the citizens of Fort Scott made application to Gov. Medary for protection. The Governor having no troops to send, advised the organization of home militia to act as a Marshal's posse in arresting criminals and enforcing law. The first company was organized December 24, with John Hamilton, Captain; C. F. Drake, First Lieutenant, and E. W. Finch, Second Lieutenant. Two other companies were organized. Of one of these, Alexander McDonald was Captain, A. R. Allison First Lieutenant, and W. C. Dennison, Second Lieutenant. Of the other, J. G. Parks was Captain, and Hugh Glen and E. W. Black, Lieutenants. Daily drilling continued for some time, the ranks of the companies being readily filled by a promise of pay at the rate of $3 a day.
The promise was never redeemed. Gov. Medary having made a requisition on the Government for a quantity of smooth bore muskets, said muskets were forwarded to Sedalia, Mo., the end of the Pacific Railroad, in January, 1858, whence they were taken to Paris, Linn County. On January 30, a party of fifty Bourbon County Militia started on a four days' trip to procure the new arms. Upon their return, preparations were at once made to make a raid in pursuit of "Jayhawkers," and after a three days' scout all along the Little Osage, about a dozen prisoners were brought to Fort Scott.
After a needed rest of a few days, a guard started for Lawrence with the prisoners for trial, camping near Black Jack on the night of the 14th. Next morning at the Wakarusa, they were met by the news of the passage of the "Amnesty act," which rendered all their labor vain. The captives were set at liberty, and about twenty of the captors continued on to visit Lawrence, where on account of their leader being named "Hamilton," he was supposed by the citizens of that city to be Capt. Charles A. Hamilton of Marais des Cygnes Massacre fame, and a reception very much more earnest than kind was accorded them. (See history of Lawrence.)
After the passage of the "Amnesty act," there was but little more trouble in Bourbon County on account of border feuds. Peace had apparently come to stay, and when the Fourth of July approached the people decided to hold on that day a grand celebration, as an evidence, not only of their patriotism, but of their desire for peace as well. The people of Fort Scott prepared and gave the dinner, and a most memorable dinner it was. There were wagon loads of beef, mutton and pork, and immense quantities of bread, cake and pie. A four-horse wagon load of ice was brought from the Marais des Cygnes, for the purpose of making lemonade. Everybody participated in the ceremonies. Gov. Ransom was President of the day; Judge Joseph Williams, Col. Judson, Judge Farwell, M. E. Hudson, Thomas Helm, S. W. Campbell and Col. Moran, Vice Presidents; Rev. Mr. Thompson, Chaplain; Mason Williams read the Declaration of Independence, and L. A. McCord was Orator of the Day. In the evening there was a grand ball at the Free-State Hotel.
During the remainder of the year, immigration poured into the county, and material progress was visible on all sides. The principal occupation of the District Court was the punishment of horse-thieves. In May, 1860, the arch horse-thief of the border was brought to trial in Fort Scott. This was "Pickles," whom everybody knew. The indictment upon which he was to be tried was for robbing Indian Seth the fall before. Some members of "Pickles'" gang came to the Little Osage, and endeavored to raise a rescuing party; and in order to forestall any such attempt, members of the Vigilance Committee armed themselves and poured into town, to the number of nearly two hundred. Having assembled their object changed from that of preventing a rescue by Pickles' friends, to making a rescue themselves, and executing summary vengeance upon one who had committed more crimes than any other two of the border thieves.
The officers of the law who had Pickles in charge were too wary and adroit to permit this programme of the Vigilance Committee being carried out, and Pickles was too sharp to voluntarily place himself in their hands by pleading "not guilty," which would have been the result of so pleading, because he could not have been convicted on the evidence. He, therefore, in order to save his life, plead guilty, was immediately sentenced to one year in the penitentiary, and to pay a fine of $500, and escorted to Washington. Pickles fared much better than did Hugh Carlin, who, having given the settlers on Little Osage a great deal of trouble, was taken from the house of F. A. Monroe, and hanged by a party of mounted men belonging to the Vigilance Committee, about the 10th of July. This was followed about November 16, 1860, by the killing of L. D. Moore by C. R. Jennison, in retaliation for the killing of Carlin. Jennison's party consisted of about twenty-five picked men.
Upon reaching Moore's house, Jennison rapped on the door and demanded admittance. This was refused. Jennison immediately kicked the door down, and shot Moore while he was sitting on the side of his bed. Jennison then passed into the house, and took Moore by the wrist, holding it until the pulse ceased to beat, when he exclaimed: "Boys, he's dead." Jennison and his party then went to the house of M. E. Hudson, whose wife was a relative of L. D. Moore. Mr. Hudson was away from home. Jennison informed Mrs. Hudson of what he had done, and, while she was weeping, ordered her to provide breakfast for his party, which order she obeyed.
L. D. Moore settled in Kansas in 1857, on a claim near Mapleton. He was a Pro-slavery man, was a member of the "anti-horse thief" or "dark lantern association," and had taken an active part in the lynching of Guthrie and Carlin, his office having been that of hangman.
About the 1st of December, Gen. Harney, in command of about 200 United States soldiers, arrived in Fort Scott for the purpose of attending the land sales, which came off on the 3d of that month. The attendance was very large; everything passed off quietly, but only fourteen eighty-acre tracts were sold--the prices ranging from $1.25 to $5.50 per acre.
On the 8th of the month, Gen. D. M. Frost's brigade of Missouri militia reached and camped at the State Line; and Gen. Frost and staff rode into Fort Scott to confer with Gov. Medary and Gen. Harney with reference to raids into Missouri from Kansas.
Bourbon County in the Civil War
The first meeting in Bourbon County which had for its object the discussion of questions likely to grow out of the gigantic war which was then impending was held March 13, 1861. Upon the invitation of many leading citizens of Fort Scott, Gen. J. H. Lane was present and delivered an address. He advocated the cultivation of friendly relations between Missouri and Kansas. A large number of citizens of the former State were present.
The next meeting of the kind was held at Barnesville March 20. A series of resolutions was reported to the meeting, which were conservative and in favor of States Rights. Gen. Lane addressed this meeting, expressing similar sentiments to those delivered by him the week previous at Fort Scott.
These meetings occurred before the firing on Fort Sumter, and were comparatively but moderate affairs. After war had once begun by the bombardment of a United States fortress, the thrill of fiery indignation was felt as keenly in Kansas as anywhere in the Union. On Thursday night, April 24, a Union demonstration occurred in Fort Scott, which was the largest that up to that time the city had ever seen and which was unsurpassable in enthusiasm and unanimity. Past party difficulties were forgotten, patriotic songs were sung, patriotic addresses delivered, and the wildest and heartiest applause greeted every expression and person that was in favor of the Union. It was a demonstration in which Fort Scott and Bourbon County, and every true and loyal Kansan and American may always feel the deepest pride.
In the latter part of April, two companies of volunteers were formed on Drywood, under Capts. Boring and Brown, and on the 1st of May, two companies were formed in Fort Scott. The officers of one company were: Captain, C. W. Blair; Lieutenants, A. R. Allison, R. L. Phillips and Charles Bull. Of the other company--Captain, A. McDonald; Lieutenants, Charles Dimon, William Gallaher and A. F. Bicking. These two companies were a few weeks afterward consolidated under C. W. Blair, Captain, and W. C. Ranson, C. O. Judson and A. R. Allison, Lieutenants. The total number of members in this company, after consolidation, was sixty-three.
It left for Lawrence soon afterward, where it was to be armed, uniformed and mustered into the service of the Government. But after marching to Lawrence--where Capt. Blair was promoted to the Lieutenant Colonelcy of the Second Kansas Regiment, and Lieut. Ransom elected Captain--and then to Wyandotte, preparatory to crossing to Kansas City to be mustered in, the patriotic fervor of three-fourths of the members of the company had so far subsided, that this number backed squarely out and counter-marched for home May 19, 1861, so that the company as such was never mustered in.
Early in this month, a company was organized on Lightning Creek, with John T. McWhirt, Captain, and Roswell Seeley, John Tully and John F. Gates, Lieutenants. The company was named originally the "Lightning Guards." Some members of the company preferred the name "Lightning Blues," but the majority fearing this name might be mistaken for "Blue Lightning," chose the former name.
Capt. Blair's company, whose first term of service was so brief, was named "Frontier Guard No. 1." Frontier Guard No. 2 was organized with A. McDonald, Captain. Upon his resignation, W. T. Campbell was elected Captain, the Lieutenants being S. B. Gordon, C. O. Judson and John F. White. These two companies had a parade on July 4, inviting all the other companies to participate that had been organized in the county. The Drywood Company under Capt. Boring, and the Mill Creek Company under Capt. Hall, responded.
On the 5th a battle was fought at Carthage, Mo., which had the effect to greatly alarm and disturb the citizens in the southeastern part of the county. Many families left their homes, apprehensive of an attack from the rebel forces. Shortly after this alarm, Gen. Lyon authorized Capts. W. C. Ransom and W. T. Campbell, each to raise a company of one hundred men, to act as Home Guards. Afterward another company was authorized, and thus there were three companies of Bourbon County Home Guards, all of which went into camp at Fort Scott. These three companies were infantry; afterward a cavalry company was raised, and the four companies were the origin of the Sixth Kansas, with the following officers: Major, W. R. Judson; Captains, W. C. Ransom, W. T. Campbell, Z. Gower and L. R. Jewell, of Companies A, B, C and D, respectively.
The activity and proximity of the war in Missouri led Gen. Lane to order a considerable number of troops to Fort Scott toward and latter part of August. Five companies of the Third Regiment under Col. Montgomery, arrived on the 20th from Mound City, and other troops arrived until the aggregate number was about 2,000. A large number of Osage Indians also arrived about this time and offered their services to the Government. This was now headquarters for Gen. Lane's Division, which rapidly increased in size, and as rapidly improved in discipline and appointments. Two companies of Col. Johnson's Fifth Kansas were also stationed at Barnesville.
The Rebel Gen. Rains, with 14,000 men, was operating in Missouri, and contemplated an attack on Southern Kansas. September 1, he approached within ten miles of Fort Scott, drove in Lane's pickets, and stole a number of mules. Until this was done, his presence was not suspected. Col. Johnson made immediate pursuit, but inflicted upon them only the small loss of two or three killed. All the troops in the vicinity were then concentrated at Fort Scott preparatory to its defense against an expected attack, and a force of 500 cavalry with one mounted howitzer sent out to reconnoiter. This force met the enemy's pickets five miles west of Drywood, and drove them back across Drywood Creek to camp. Quite a severe battle was fought, until the Union troops exhausted their ammunition, and retreated in good order toward Fort Scott.
The infantry was stationed on the heights east of the city, to receive the rebels in case the anticipated attacks were made, maintaining their position until the darkness of the night and the raging of a heavy thunder storm rendered it highly improbable that an attack would be made. Gen. Rains' force was much superior to that of Gen. Lane, which made Gen. Lane apprehensive of the results of a general engagement. He therefore led the infantry back to Fort Lincoln, on the Little Osage, thirty miles to the northward, leaving the cavalry in Fort Scott with orders to defend the city to the last, and then burn it rather than let it fall into the enemy's hands. Fort Scott was thus left practically without defense. It was almost entirely deserted by the citizens. Only four women had the courage to remain. These ladies were Mrs. H. T. Wilson, Mrs. William Smith, Mrs. J. S. and Miss Sallie Miller. They determined to remain until their feet should be guided in their flight by the light from their burning homes.
A few days thereafter, the rebel forces beat a precipitate retreat toward Independence, pursued from Fort Lincoln to Pappinsville, by Cols. Johnson and Jennison, who returned with two hundred cattle and a number of "contrabands."
The removal of the greater part of the troops from Fort Scott, at a time when that city was menaced by a rebel force considerably larger than Gen. Lane's whole command, was a most remarkable piece of strategy on the part of that most remarkable of men, and is explained by his enemies on the ground that he had more solicitude for his own safety than for the safety of the town.
Notwithstanding numerous efforts were made to have the base of supplies removed from Fort Scott to Fort Lincoln, Mound City and Humboldt, none of them were successful, and when the troops were paid off, business was lively in the former place; and when about, March 1, 1862, on account of the advance of the rebel armies into Northwest Arkansas, a considerable military force, under Col. Deitzler, consisting of the First, Fifth and Sixth Kansas, the Ninth, Twelfth and Thirteenth Wisconsin, the Second Ohio Cavalry, and the Second Indiana Battery, was stationed there, money was still more plenty (sic) and times still more improved. During March, Lieut. Strong, of the Second Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, built a strong and handsome bridge across the Marmaton, for the convenience of Government trains. This bridge was swept away about April 20, by a tremendous flood, the waters rising fifteen feet above the bridge.
Lieut. Col. Jewell, Sixth Kansas, was appointed Post Commander at Fort Scott, June 1, 1862. Lieut. Col. Blair, of the Second Kansas, raised in Bourbon County a battery of artillery in August. This was the Second Kansas Battery, and when completed was officered as follows: C. W. Blair, Commanding Officer; First Lieutenants, E. A. Smith and D. C. Knowles; Second Lieutenants, A. G. Clark and A. Wilson. Soon afterward, Lieut. Col. Blair was commissioned Brigadier General, and in 1863 succeeded to the command of the post and remained in command until the close of the war.
A number of forts were erected in the city of Fort Scott during the war; Fort Henning, on Birch street, between Jones and Judson; Fort Blair, on Locust street, between Main street and Scott avenue, and Fort Insley, north of the Plaza.
The most exciting incident of the war in Bourbon County after the battle of Drywood and the retreat of Gen. Lane to Fort Lincoln, was the passage of Price's army through the eastern part of it, in October, 1864. Before the result of the battle of Mine Creek was known, the people of Fort Scott were hourly expecting Price's forces to march into their city and raze it to the ground. Any speculative individual with a few dollars in his pocket could just then have bought and paid for the whole town. It was the darkest hour its people had ever seen. But just at evening of that day, Col. Moonlight, who had kept on Price's right flank from Mound City, arrived with the most welcome news that Price had been defeated, and that Gen. Blair, with his command would enter the city within an hour. Everybody was overjoyed and a feast was soon begun for the tired and hungry soldiers. The next day saw the entrance into the city of a part of Price's army, as prisoners--Maj. Gen. Marmaduke, Brig. Gen. Cabell, Col. Slemmens and about one thousand private soldiers. Had Price entered the city he could easily have destroyed it. This was the last actual danger Fort Scott was ever in from rebel soldiers.
As Price's army crossed the valley of the Little Osage it committed numerous murders and robberies. At Fort Lincoln they killed Andrew Stevens, and further down the river Mr. Goodall and Mr. Miller. They burned the houses of Richard Spafford and Mr. Hopkins; robbed many families of all their money, provisions, clothing and bed-clothing, and stole what horses they could find.
Bourbon County made an honorable record in the war. It furnished its full proportion of soldiers and was fifth in rank in regard to the number of her citizens that entered the militia, the number enrolled being 676, while the number organized was 550. The county furnished one Brigadier General--C. W. Blair; one Colonel--W. R. Judson; one Lieutenant Colonel--Lewis R. Jewell, in the volunteer service, and in the militia, two Colonels--J. Stadden and George P. Eaves.
Since the war steady progress has been made, as will be seen by an examination of the various paragraphs on railroads, public schools, etc., and on the city of Fort Scott.
The county was organized September 12, 1855. S. A. Williams, as Probate Judge, administered the oath of office as Commissioners to Col. H. T. Wilson and Charles B. Wingfield. B. F. Hill was appointed Sheriff and William Margrave, Deputy Sheriff of the County. On the 17th of September, the following officers were appointed: Clerk, James J. Farley; Constable, John F. Cottrell; Justice, Thomas Watkins. William Margrave had been appointed a Justice of the Peace in December, 1854, by Gov. Reeder and was the first Justice in the county. On the 15th of October four additional Justices and three Constables were appointed, and as Treasurer, A. Hornbeck; Assessor, W. W. Spratt; Coroner, H. R. Kelso.
In November the county was divided into the following townships: Little Osage, Timberhill, Scott, Drywood and Russell. In 1858, the name of Russell Township was changed to Marion, and Freedom Township was organized. In 1859, Franklin and Marmaton were organized; in 1866, Walnut and Pawnee, and in 1870, Mill Creek, making eleven townships in the county.
From the organization of the county to January, 1858, its affairs were in charge of the Probate Judge, assisted by two Commissioners, this body being styled the County Court, at which time a Board of Supervisors took the place of the court. This Board consisting of one Supervisor from each township. In 1860, this form of government was changed to the present--that of three Commissioners. Under this arrangement the first Commissioners were Isaac Ford, Lester Ray and G. W. Miller.
The first election for county officers held in the fall of 1856, resulted as follows: Clerk, James J. Farley; Treasurer, A. Hornbeck; Sheriff, B. F. Hill; Probate Judge, S. A. Williams; Register of Deeds, James J. Farley.
In 1855, the county seat was located at Fort Scott, that being then as now the most important town in the county. In 1858, on account of the border troubles it was moved to Marmaton by a special law of the Legislature, enacted for that purpose. An election was held on the 11th of May, 1863, for the purpose of re-locating the county seat, which resulted as follows: For Fort Scott, 700 votes; Centerville, 279; Mapleton, 14; and for Fort Lincoln, 1 vote. Fort Scott therefore having received a majority of all the votes cast was proclaimed the county seat; no attempt has since been made to remove it.
Schools and Other Statistics
The first school district organized in the county was what is now District No. 10, December 10, 1859. This was the only one organized that year. In 1860, four districts were organized; in 1861, none; in 1862, eight; in 1863, twenty-three, and in 1864, eight. In 1867, the organization of new school districts again commenced, and from that time to 1881, with the exception of 1878, from one to nine school districts were organized each year. There are now ninety-eight school districts in the county, including Fort Scott. In 1862, the number of scholars in the county was 722; in 1865, 3,261; in 1870, 5,312; in 1880, 7,015, and in 1882, 7,866--males, 3995; females, 3,871. The number of pupils enrolled was--males, 2,921; females, 3,089. The number of different teachers employed during the year was 150; average wages of males, $34.27; females, $30.86. There are 100 schoolhouses in the county--two of brick, three of stone and ninety-five frame. In the district school libraries there are 350 volumes. The value of school property in the county is estimated at $89,672, and the total value of all school property in the county is $100,000.
The personal property of the county is valued as follows: Horses, 6,374, value $193,285; cattle, 29,250, value $327,736; mules, 907, value $32,182; sheep, 6,102, value $6,953; swine, 9,225, value $24,892; farming implements, value $65,928; carriages, 403, value, $4,977; stocks, $7,499; national bank shares $25,000; money, $39,027; credits, $71,095; merchandise, $211,176; manufacturers' stock, $12,280; notes, $6,817; mortgages, $1,300; wagons, $15,070; other property, $141,682; total, $1,186,899; constitutional exemption, $311,400; net amount on the tax list, $875,499.
Real Estate.--Taxable acres under cultivation 194,127; not under cultivation, 192,508; value of all lands, $1,938,345; number of town lots, 5,995, value $837,767; value of all railroad property, $673,309.60; total taxable value of all property in the county, $4,324,926.60.
In 1882, of the 267,920 acres of farms in the county, the following was the acreage of the principal crops: Winter wheat, 6,826; rye, 466; corn, 71,948; oats, 10,241; Irish potatoes, 878; sweet potatoes, 19; sorghum, 395; castor beans, 1,221; flax, 7,300; millet and Hungarian, 6,268; timothy meadow, 782; clover, 373; prairie, 36,758; timothy pasture, 77; prairie pasture, 41,153; other pastures, 174.
In nurseries, 216 acres; apple trees--bearing, 158,766; not bearing, 63,994; pear trees--bearing, 4,559; not bearing, 4,835; plum trees--bearing, 3,129; not bearing, 3,005; peach trees--bearing, 103,040; not bearing, 22,061; cherry trees--bearing, 33,370; not bearing, 11,080; vineyards, 88 acres, with 215 gallons of wine made in 1882.
But little attention has been paid to the cultivation of timber, the following being the number of acres of each variety of trees reported as planted up to 1882: cottonwood, 4; honey locust, 2; maple, 58; walnut, 41; other varieties, 54; total, 159. The planting of Osage orange trees in double rows on either side of railroads, for railroad ties, and by farmers for fence posts and similar purposes is earnestly recommended.
Of board fence there are 20,035 rods; rail, 212,596; stone, 98,268; hedge, 435,144; wire, 114,160; total, 870,203 rods, or 2,719.4 miles.
The population of the county in 1860 was 6,102; in 1865, 7,961, of which 787 were colored; in 1870, 15,102; 1875, 16,879; in 1880, 19,565; in 1882, 20,159, distributed among the several townships as follows: Osage, 1,159; Freedom, 1,216; Timberhill, 1,235; Franklin, 1,560; Marion, 1,980; Mill Creek, 890; Marmaton, 1,134; Scott, 2,245; Drywood, 1,324; Pawnee, 918; Walnut, 809; the city of Fort Scott, 5,689.
The first action taken by the Commissioners of Bourbon County looking to the building of a railroad through the county was upon a petition for the privilege of voting $150,000 in bonds to the Kansas & Neosho Valley Railroad Company, and of subscribing to the capital stock of said road a like amount. This was November 18, 1865, when an election was ordered to be held December 16th. At this election the proposition was adopted by the electors by a vote of 705 for the bonds to 220 against them.
On the 22nd of December the Commissioners of Bourbon County sent an address to Thomas Carney, Mayor of Leavenworth, asking that Leavenworth County be given an opportunity to vote $200,000 or $250,000 in bonds in aid of the project, before the election of new officers of the railroad company should be held, and before the change of the name of the road should be made, which had been promised Bourbon and Linn Counties if they would vote bonds. Individual subscriptions to the stock were also solicited and as an inducement to private parties to subscribe, this new election had been promised in order that the people so subscribing might be represented in the company by directors of their own choosing.
On September 10, 1866, it was resolved by the Commissioners that as the K. & W. V. R. R. Company had failed to change the name of its road, that the tender of the subscription of $150,000 unless the name were changed within thirty days, and the County Clerk was forbidden to issue the bonds without instructions from the Commissioners.
On June 29, 1868, Col. K. Coates, President of the K. & W. V. R. R. Company, asked that the bonds voted to the road be issued and placed in the hands of the trustee, but not to be delivered to the company until the road should be completed to Fort Scott, and on the same day the Commissioners entered into an agreement with the railroad company, whereby the county agreed to sell its $150,000 of stock in the road for the nominal consideration of $5, and on the conditions that the company shall build, and operate the road from Kansas City to Fort Scott within two years from that date; and also agree that when the road is built and in operation to Fort Scott, then the bonds shall be issued, provided that in the meantime the name of the road shall have been changed to the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad. The name of the road was changed previous to
April 29, 1869, on which day the company, by its attorney, B. F. Simpson, made application for the laying off of a route through Bourbon County for said road, and on the 1st of June, the route was laid off by the Commissioners to the southern boundary of the county of Bourbon.
On July 22, Col. A. S. Johnson, Land Commissioner for the road, submitted an application to the Board, asking that a day be set for appraising damages and locating the route through the Neutral Lands in Bourbon County, and in response to the application, August 31 was chosen.
The M. R. Ft. S. & G. R. R. was completed to Fort Scott in December, 1869, and on January 7, 1870, the bonds for $150,000 were delivered to Col. Coates, President, the company having fulfilled its part of the contract of June 29, 1868; and the stock for $150,000 was at the same time delivered to the company, the county receiving its $5 in cash, promised on the day of sale to be paid for the same. The name of this road was changed to the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad.
The first step in the Tebo & Neosho Railroad movement in Bourbon County was taken May 7, 1867, on which day the people voted on the question of subscribing $150,000 to the stock of the company, and issuing a like amount of county bonds. The election resulted in the casting of 468 votes for the proposition, and 442 votes against it, and there were no returns from Franklin and Walnut Townships.
On July 23, 1869, the Commissioners decided that it was not advisable to subscribe, at that time, to the capital stock of the Tebo & Neosho Railroad Company; but it was ordered that $150,000 be subscribed to the capital stock of any railroad company that would build a road, starting at Fort Scott and running north of the Marmaton in the general direction of Humboldt, and that bonds be issued in payment therefor, provided that at a general election held for the purpose, the people of the county should approve of the order, and that said election should be held August 24, 1869; and it was also understood that a vote in favor of this proposition would be a vote re-affirming the election of May 7, 1867.
The proposition was approved of, August 24, 1869, by the casting of 1,428 votes for it to 703 votes against it. On the 10th of November, 1869, the Board of Commissioners, convinced of the propriety and necessity of being represented in the directory of the Tebo & Neosho Railroad Company, appointed Dr. J. S. Redfield as agent of Bourbon County to attend the meetings of the company's directors, with authority to cancel the county's subscription to the stock of the company, departed from its promises. (sic)
On the 19th of December, 1873, the Tebo & Neosho Railroad bonds having been declared void by the Supreme Court of Kansas, it was ordered that the $4,400 collected to be applied to the payment of interest thereon be transferred to the county fund, and the balance was ordered to be expended in the purchase of outstanding county internal improvement bonds.
On the 13th of October, 1870, the Clerk of the county was authorized to subscribe $150,000 to the capital stock of Fort Scott & Allen County Railroad Company, under the provisions of the election held August 24, 1869, on the condition that the railroad should be completed from Fort Scott to the west line of the county by July 1, 1872. On February 13, 1872, the Fort Scott, Humboldt & Western Railroad, as successors to the Fort Scott & Allen County Company, made application for the issuance of the bonds promised on conditions to the latter; but as the conditions had not been complied with, the application was refused and denied. But the Chairman and Clerk of the Board were authorized to sign, issue and deliver to the Fort Scott, Humboldt & Western Railroad Company, bonds for $150,000, upon the conditions that after the road should be built and operated for five miles, then bonds to the amount of $7,500 should be issued, and similarly for each succeeding five miles built, until the whole amount of $150,000 should be issued.
On the 12th of August, 1873, the latter company made application for the issuing of the bonds, but the Commissioners, having no evidence that the company had secured the right of way, or that it filed a copy of the map or profile of its road in the office of the County Clerk, as required to do by law, refused the application, and the Clerk was ordered to deliver to the Board the lithographed bonds, which had not been signed, and the Board themselves then proceeded to burn and destroy the bonds.
On Tuesday, February 13, 1872, an election was held on the question of subscribing $150,000 to the capital stock of the Topeka, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad Company, and $25,000 of that to the Lexington, Lake & Gulf Company, on the conditions with respect to the former company, that it should build its road through Mapleton, and locate its general office and machine and work shops at Fort Scott, the road to be in operation, and office and shops to be erected by May 1, 1873. As the result of the election, there were cast 2,185 votes for the proposition, 820 against it, and 8 scattering--total vote, 3,013. But as this company failed to build its road, and to erect its general office and machine and work shops by May 1, 1873, the bonds, which had not yet been signed, were likewise burned and destroyed, August 12, 1873, and on the same day the proposition to subscribe $25,000 to the Lexington, Lake & Gulf Company's stock was declared void, the company having taken no steps toward building the road.
On July 11, 1874, the Fort Scott, Southeastern & Memphis Railroad Company, asked that Commissioners proceed to assess damages for right of way of said road from Fort Scott to the Missouri State line. This road was built from its junction with the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, four miles south of Fort Scott, to Springfield, Mo., in 1880 and 1881.
On July 26, 1881, an election was held in Scott, Timberhill and Mill Creek Townships on the question of voting in each township $10,000 in bonds to Fort Scott, Topeka & Lincoln Railroad Company, on the condition that the road should be built by January 1, 1883. In Scott and Timberhill Townships the bonds were voted by majorities of 114 and 116, respectively, but in Mill Creek Township the vote was a tie. At a second election held in this township October 17, 1881, the bonds were voted down by a vote of 58 to 81 against them. This company was merged into or re-organized as the Kansas & Nebraska Central Railroad Company, in 1882, and a new election held in the same three townships on the question of subscribing in each of them $10,000, and in Franklin Township, $15,000, to the capital stock of this latter company, the limit of time given in which to complete the building of the road from Fort Scott through each township to the north or west side of Franklin Township being January 1, 1885. The election was held on November 21 and 22, with the following results: Scott Township cast 116 votes for the subscription, and 70 against it; Mill Creek 63 for, and 86 against; Timberhill, 137 for, 36 against; and Franklin, 156 for, and 118 against it.
Marion Township aided the building of the St. Louis, Fort Scott & Wichita Railroad to the extent of $10,000, and these are the only township railroad bonds outstanding.
The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad was built in 1870, and as the successor of the Tebo & Neosho Railroad Company, inherited the $150,000 issued to that company, and which were twice declared void by the United States Circuit Court for the district of Kansas, on the ground that at the original election, held May 7, 1867, the returns from Franklin Township, although in on the same day prescribed for the counting of the vote, were not counted by the Commissioners, while had these returns been counted the majority against the bonds would have been 100, instead of, as reported, 26, in favor of them; and also because at the election of August 24, 1869, there was no opportunity given to vote for or against one proposition without voting for or against both.
But as there was danger of the case going before the Supreme Court of the United States, which has always held that such bonds are valid in the hands of innocent holders, and in this event the county would have both principal to pay, the Commissioners on November, 1882, compromised the matter by issuing bonds to the amount of $30,000, due in thirty years, bearing six percent interest; thus making the total bonded indebtedness of the county $219,200. The county now has eighty miles of railroad.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,655 km² (639 mi²), of which 1,650 km² (637 mi²) is land and 4 km² (2 mi²), or 0.27%, is water.
Bourbon County's population was estimated to be 14,950 in the year 2006, a decrease of 438, or -2.8%, over the previous six years.
As of the U.S. Census in 2000, there were 15,379 people, 6,161 households, and 4,127 families residing in the county. The population density was 9/km² (24/mi²). There were 7,135 housing units at an average density of 4/km² (11/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 94.06% White, 3.08% Black or African American, 0.84% Native American, 0.36% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.28% from other races, and 1.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.29% of the population.
There were 6,161 households out of which 30.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.50% were married couples living together, 9.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.00% were non-families. 29.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.01.
In the county the population was spread out with 25.80% under the age of 18, 9.50% from 18 to 24, 24.20% from 25 to 44, 22.30% from 45 to 64, and 18.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 93.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $31,199, and the median income for a family was $39,239. Males had a median income of $27,043 versus $20,983 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,393. About 9.50% of families and 13.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.00% of those under age 18 and 13.40% of those age 65 or over.
Cities and towns
Name and population (2004 estimate):
Fort Scott, 8,048 (county seat)
Unified school districts
Fort Scott USD 234
Uniontown USD 235
Fort Scott Community College
Places of Interest
National Cemetary #1
Fort Scott National Historic Site