Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Pondering the Holidays

Pension records are precious documents that offer up information that might not normally be obtained from the usual sources. Among all the facts offered, is also the opportunity to hear the "voice" of those giving statements in regards to the veteran in question. This became strikingly obvious when I was recently reading through the pension application for former veteran Frank Austin by his widow Lizzie. Frank had served in Company F of the 83rd United States Colored Troops (2nd Kansas Colored), and passed away in 1902. In her statements as a claimant for Frank's pension, Lizzie gave more than just the facts for the pension examiner, she gives us a glimpse into her personality. In relaying her connection personal history to the examiner, she relates time to the "Holidays".

While this is important in ascertaining that important dates for a family tree, the repetition of the statement also shows the importance of the season to Lizzie.

When looking at your pensions, don't forget to read between the lines, your people might be saying more than you think they are! 

We wish you your own historic holiday season! ;) 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Taking a Look at a Page

Recently I was conducting some research for a book I’m writing and was delving into the realm of the legislative panels at the Kansas Historical Society in order to find portraits of some key individuals for that project. Early panels are rather simple, became more complex through the years as the state grew and more features started appearing within them – pictures of anyone associated with legislative activities (doorkeepers, sergeant at arms, clerks, etc…). One feature that caught my eye was pictures of children like this one of the 1875 House of Representatives: 

Original photo on file at the Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, KS

Who are they? Was the answer as simple as the youth being legislative pages? If so, the African American boy may be easy to identify because he would be a rarity for this time societal views on people of color. I love tackling bunny trails like this because they present a challenge – it’s like a personal check on my research skills. Actually, I may need a twelve-step program for it, but we’ll go with the former because using it to continue my education sounds better right? ;) The short answer to my question is – yes! They are pages.

Becoming a page at this time was highly competitive, applicants would at times number more than a couple of dozen, with just a handful being selected for the honor. “There is a young army of little boys and girls seeking positions of page in both houses of the legislature, and some of them display remarkably fine judgment in electioneering and presenting their respective claims for the positions they are seeking.” (Holton Express 1875:2).

Narrowing down the number of applicants for the final selection of Senate pages in 1875 was so intense that the Senate took a 25-minute recess and then went directly into caucus to decide upon two page positions (Daily Commonwealth 1875:1). For the House of Representatives in 1875 (above picture), selection was finally made for Josie Bell, Charles Jones, Emma Duncan, Minnie A. Scrafford, Jennie Maxwell, and Thomas Taylor (Wyandotte Gazette 1875:2).  

The page’s residence like today was not limited to just the surrounding area, which begs the question of how the duties were worked around their school terms. Jennie Maxwell, however, of the House pages was from Topeka. A bright and responsible student, this was Jennie’s second time as a legislative page; she first served in 1871 at the age of 12. At the end of the 1875 session, she was named specifically by the legislature for her and “the other pages for the unvarying courtesy, thoughtful attention and marked promptitude and ability with which each and all have discharged their several duties” (Atchison Weekly Patriot 1875:2). Duties for the pages were much like they are today, carrying messages, bringing water to the representatives, etc… (Winfield Courier 1876:2).

Despite her age at the time of her first term of service in 1871, Jennie was accepted into a group of women who met at the Tefft House (owned by Charles Jennison of Kansas Civil War notoriety) that were active in various positions in the legislature, such as clerks (Kansas State Record 1871:4). The suffrage movement had started gaining momentum in the early 1870s and legislative positions were freeing for women and allowed them a chance to take part in the political process even before they were allowed to vote.

Allowances as clerks and pages were still disputed among some legislators that held anti-suffrage views. Such is the case in 1876 when Rosa Blanton was chosen as a page to the House of Representatives (Rosa was the niece of Napoleon Blanton who was well known in early Kansas for his crossing of the Wakarusa River in Douglas County): 

“There were twenty-seven candidates for pages, and the discussion on the claims of each was earnest, spirited and prolonged. Mr. Eskridge made an eloquent speech in favor of a young man named Blanton, stating that he was prompted in his efforts in favor of his candidate at the request of a brother member, Mr. Wood, who was now absent. After Mr. Eskridge had concluded his thrilling effort in favor of his candidate, the young man, and had taken his seat, he again rose and stated that he had been mistaken in the sex of his candidate – that it was a young lady – Rosa Blanton, whom he wished to have elected. This statement was received with shouts of laughter, the well-known opposition of Mr. Eskridge to female suffrage doubtless contributing to the amusement. Mr. Eskridge gracefully relieved himself from his embarrassment by explaining that it was the principle he was contending for, not personal preferences" (Kansas Daily Tribune 1876:5).

Women were not the only ones that found empowerment though legislative positions. In 1875, John Carter who was a man of color from Topeka, was elected to the position of assistant doorkeeper (Winfield Courier 1876:2). Mr. Carter was the only individual in the legislature in that year, aside from the aforementioned young page, to be of African descent. The doorkeeper position was the only position allowed to speak during legislative proceedings, announcing the various members. An 1885 panel showed an African American man, Sam Lee of Lawrence, that held the assistant doorkeeper position. He was paid $3 a month for his service (CITE).

I finally had to tear myself away from all the bunny trails that arose from looking at these panels. It is something that would be fun to return to again. Many of the Kansas panels can be found on www.kansasmemory.org, search term “legislative panel.”

References Cited:
Atchison Weekly Patriot
1875    Atchison Weekly Patriot (newspaper), Atchison, KS. March 13, 1875, page 2.

Daily Commonwealth
1875     "Kansas Legislature". Daily Commonwealth (newspaper), Topeka, KS. January 13, 1875, page 1.

Holton Express
1875       Holton Express (newspaper), Holton, KS. January 15, 1875, page 2.

Kansas Daily Tribune
1875       “House”, Kansas Daily Tribune (newspaper), Lawrence, KS, January 15, 1876, page 5.

Kansas State Record
1875       “A Levee”, Kansas State Record (newspaper), Topeka, KS. January 10, 1871, page 4.

Winfield Courier
1876       “Conclusions Concerning Capital City Carpet Baggers”, Winfield Courier (newspaper), Winfield, KS. February 17, 1876, page 2.

Wyandotte Gazette
1875       “Legislature Organized”. Wyandotte Gazette (newspaper), Wyandotte, KS. January 15, 1875, page 2.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Ewing L. Moxley

The background research our company performs prior to archaeological investigations causes me to dig in for the earliest historical accounts of an area. I love digging in deep, finding information to make our reports more than just names and dates. Trying along the way to ferret out the whys behind the locations we investigate. One of my hobbies (I have many that I’ve picked up in my background research) is documenting trading posts and traders. The fascinating stories that follow these guys captivate me. My newest bunny trail caused me to follow Ewing L. Moxley, a trader among the tribes in Sedgwick County, Kansas.

Moxley grabbed my attention because in my quest to find out his importance to the area, I found actual descriptions of his physical appearance as well as his character. He is described as having a fair complexion, with “light hair and whiskers” (Oskaloosa Independent 1863: 3) and as being “a thorough frontiersman, born in the wilds, an unerring marksman, fearless, honest and simple and tender as a child” (Mooney 1916:105).

Moxley and his trading partner Edward H. Mosely were among the first Euro-Americans in Sedgwick County, Kansas. Moxley’s background is rather hazy. He is potentially born prior to 1837, the son of Judge Solomon R. Moxley of Lincoln County, Missouri, but that remains to be proven (Goodspeed Pub. Co. 1888: 583). His partner Mosely was an Indiana native (Medicine Lodge Cresset 1886).  The two were noted as first meeting in Coffey County, Kansas around present day LeRoy (Mead 1986: 139; Medicine Lodge Cresset 1886). Apparently, Mosely and Moxley attempted farming, but on account of the drought found a more profitable business in trading. It is highly probable that their early introduction to trading could have been by utilizing trade along an Osage trail at the nearby Burlington Crossing (Burns 2004:75)

In 1857, the two were among the first settlers in Sedgwick County and established a mercantile or trading post on the Little Arkansas River where an Osage trail crossed. The pair capitalized on the buffalo hunting in the area and would sell the surplus of their hunts as well as other trade goods to the inhabitants of the surrounding area (Medicine Lodge Cresset 1886). This was the first “ranch” in the county along with one established by Bob Duracken a few miles away, but it consisted of little more than a cabin on a claim but was profitable for the pair.

By 1858, Moxley was in Butler County in the Chelsea area. Chelsea, now defunct, was an up and coming town in this period and was at this early date the county seat of Butler County (Mooney 1916: 54). Butler was among the first 36 counties established with the organization of Kansas Territory.

Even with his travels, Moxley’s home base was in Jefferson County, which further intrigued me because that is the home base of Buried Past! In 1857, with the sale of the Delaware lands in that county, Moxley purchased the northwest 1/4 of Section 19, Township 8 South, Range 20 East for farming purposes. He is noted as working with two other settlers of the area, George W. Crump and Joseph Hicks to establish a territorial road from Crump’s land in Section 9 of the same Township/Range to Osawkee (now near modern-day Ozawkie) (State of Kansas 1861:317).

When the war erupted Moxley ran what famed buffalo hunter James R. Mead called a “side show” to the Union army, picking Confederates off their horses with his Sharp’s rifle or Navy revolver and taking their horses for his pay (Mead 1986: 140; Moxley 1865). Moxley met his end while attempting to swim some of his contraband stock across the Kansas River at nearby Lawrence. His short but varied career gathered a sizeable estate valued at $1200.99 and no one around to claim it (Oskaloosa Independent 1863; Moxley 1865). He had limited contact with his family at the end of his life, and his final resting place is unknown (Moxley 1865).


Burns, Louis F.
2004    History of the Osage People. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, AL.

Goodspeed Publishing Company
1888    History of Lincoln County, Missouri, from the Earliest time to the Present. The Goodspeed Pub. Co. Chicago, IL.

Mead, James R.
1986    Hunting and Trading on the Great Plains, 1859-1875. Rowfant Press, Wichita, KS.

Medicine Lodge Cresset
1886    “Our Early Settlers” Medicine Lodge Cresset (newspaper), Medicine Lodge, KS. May 27, 1886, p. 1.

Mooney, Vol. P.
1916    History of Butler Co., Kansas. Standard Publishing Co., Lawrence, KS.

Moxley, Ewing L.
1865  Probate Case Files (Estates), ca. 1858 - 1917; Indexes, ca. 1860-1960; Author: Kansas. Probate Court (Jefferson County); Probate Place: Jefferson, Kansas, No. 416. Accessed on-line: Ancestry.com.

Oskaloosa Independent
1863    “Notice to Unknown Heirs”, Oskaloosa Independent (newspaper), Oskaloosa, KS.  August 8, 1863, p.3.

State of Kansas
1861    House Journal (Extra Session) of the Legislative Assembly of Kansas Territory for the Year 1857. Sam. A. Medary, Printer, Lawrence, KS.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Bleeding Kansas: Camp Sackett

Image of Camp Sackett taken from a daguerrotype
and published in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, October 4, 1856.
Author's Note: Bleeding Kansas and the complexity of what was going on leading up to the Civil War fascinates me. This is a little piece I had written up as a result of a research project, but felt that it needed more work in primary sources to make it to publication stage. I think it's a good description of Sackett though, and my table of the troop population is my absolute favorite part of this. My main question though after working on this is, "where are the original daguerrotypes used in Leslie's publication?!?!". :) ~wmb

As conditions deteriorated within the newly established Kansas Territory, the need for a neutral military force became apparent to keep the peace (Table 1).   The first Territorial legislature, also called the “Bogus Legislature” had established a pro-slavery government within Kansas Territory and was upheld by President Pierce. In February of 1856, Lt. Col. Philip St. George Cook received instructions from the Secretary of War that troops were to be used within the Territory.  On March 26, Colonel Edwin V. Sumner enlisted the government troops in the growing conflict between free-state and pro-slavery forces (Robinson 1892).

Table 1: Timeline for troops at Camp Sackett within
Kansas Territory events in 1856.
Troops in Kansas Territory were stationed near military roads at Westport, Franklin, Baldwin City, Lecompton (Lowe 1906:226) and other strategic communities and planned as headquarters from which troops could move quickly when necessary, with food and supplies arriving every ten days (Lowe 1906). In the spring of 1856, the territorial capital was moved to Lecompton from Shawnee Mission. This area was then chosen for a primary camp for the government troops with easy access to the capital. Access to the camp would primarily have been the Lecompton to Big Springs Road or the California Road (Stuck 1857, Connelly n.d.).
1857 Douglas County map by J. Cooper Stuck
which shows the location of Camp Sackett
in relation to Lecompton and roadways.
First deployment to the camp was a group of troops under Lt. James McIntosh around April 23rd, followed by two squadrons under Col. Sumner (Ewy 1966: 389).  The camp was named for Lt. Col. Delos B. Sackett, the commanding officer early in its establishment.  This camp seems to be commonly called “Camp Sackett” primarily by those stationed at the camp. Within the newspaper reports, the camp was known as “the treason camp, near Lecompton”, “the camp near Lecompton”, or “the U.S. military camp near Lecompton”. Charles Robinson in his book, The Kansas Conflict calls it the “Treason Camp” (Robinson 1892).  Any designations, however, referring just to the “camp near Lecompton” should be analyzed and not be confused with the Titus’ pro-slavery camp near Lecompton.  Titus’ camp is primarily designated as “the pro-slavery camp” but on occasion is also only called the “camp near Lecompton”.  
United States military troops again deployed to the Lecompton area around May 23rd when Governor Wilson Shannon requested one company of the 1st Cavalry was to be posted near Lecompton and another company near Topeka (Mullis 2004). Later, in early June, Lt. Col. Philip St. George Cooke would arrive from Fort Riley with a compliment of 2nd Dragoons consisting of 134 men, 124 horses, and one artillery piece (Coakley 2011: 157).
Beginning on and around May 20 (Brown 1880), political prisoners charged with high treason were delivered to the military camp: Charles Robinson, George W. Brown, George W. Smith, George W. Deitzler, John Brown, Jr., and Henry H. Williams.  The charge of treason was imposed on these individuals for supporting a free-state government and enforced because the pro-slavery government established in 1855 along with the Topeka Constitution had been federally recognized. Sara Robinson, in her book Kansas: Interior and Exterior Life gives Camp Sackett the nickname “Uncle Sam’s Bastille on the Prairie” because of the imprisonment of her husband and the other men accused of treason.
Left to Right: George W. Brown, John Brown, Jr.,
George W. Smith, Charles Robinson, Gaius Jenkins,
Henry H. Williams, George W. Dietzler.
From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, October 4, 1856.
Five political prisoners held on “Traitor Avenue” at Camp Sackett are as follows:
George W. Smith.
A Pennsylvania native.  Occupation - Judge. Elected by the free-state legislature to serve as the second territorial governor. 
George W. Brown.
A New York native. Occupation - Editor of the Kansas Herald of Freedom published in Lawrence.  He and Gaius Jenkins were arrested at Westport, MO.  Brown reached the Lecompton camp on May 20 (Brown 1880).
Gaius Jenkins.
A New York native. Occupation - Tailor.  Moved to Kansas in the fall of 1854 (Connelly 1925).  Brought to Camp Sackett after May 21 (Brown 1880). 
John Brown, Jr.
An Ohio native. Son of John Brown. He and Henry H. Williams were brought to Camp Sackett in mid-June. 
Henry H. Williams.
A New York native.  Came to Kansas in Spring 1855.  3rd settler on Pottawatomie Creek in Anderson County.  A commander in the Pottawatomie Guards, a group which worked with John Brown to secure the Pottawatomie Creek area in Anderson County.  Williams was a delegate to Big Springs Convention in 1855.  He was also a member of House of Representatives under Topeka Constitution.  (KSHS 2018).
Charles Robinson.
A Massachussetts native.  He arrived in Kansas in 1854 with the New England Emigrant Aid Company’s first colony in Kansas Territory.  Elected governor under Topeka Constitution.  Arrived at Camp Sackett after May 24th (Brown 1880).
George W. Dietzler.
A Pennsylvania native. Dietzler moved to Lawrence in Spring 1855. He was involved in the Wakarusa War in November 1855, as an aide as well as commanding officer.

Capt. John W. Martin who was given care of the prisoners for a time, was a member of the Kickapoo Rangers a pro-slavery contingent, but was partial to Charles Robinson, and provided the prisoners limited freedoms.  The prisoners were allowed visitors, primarily their wives, but also extended to certain members of the free state alliance.  Sara Robinson is known to have visited the camp (Robinson 1856), and Lois Gleason Brown wife of George W. Brown and her sister Annis Gleason also visited (Freeport Daily Journal 1856). 

The prisoners were held at Camp Sackett with a promise of a hearing in early June, but their release was not to happen until early fall.  By the fall, when conditions improved the prisoners posted their own bond and were released. 

Lt. Col. Philip St. George Cooke reported that by mid-June the “Kansas dispute had changed in nature as the emotional situation had attracted lawless men who regularly resorted to banditry and murder” (Ewy 1966: 392).  During this time troops stationed at Sackett included both the 1st Cavalry, 2nd Dragoons, and 6th Infantry (Ewy 1966).

There was an increase in U. S. military troops in direct relationship to the hostilities in the area (Table 1).  In mid-September after the battle of Hickory Point, the troops brought Free-State forces, about 100 prisoners, who had been under command of J. A. Harvey in that skirmish to Lecompton (Ewy 1966)*.  The increase in hostilities in August and September (at Osawatomie, Fort Titus, Hickory Point, etc…) increased the number of troops at Sackett’s location with 500 men in August, and 700 men in September (Coakley 2011).  Another influx of prisoners arrived in October when Lt. Col. Philip St. G. Cooke and U. S. Deputy Marshal William J. Preston captured 240 free-staters which included Shalor Eldridge and Samuel Pomeroy (Coakley 2011).   

As conditions settled in the territory troops were dispersed to other duties.  In early November the troops at Lecompton had been reduced to two companies of the 1st Cavalry and one company of the 6th Infantry and by the end of November only the one company of 6th Infantry remained (Coakley 2011:170).

1856 was the most turbulent year in the era of Bleeding Kansas, which prompted the need for this military installation. Wilson Shannon, who was Territorial Governor during this time, illustrated this with my favorite Bleeding Kansas quote, “Governing Kansas during 1856 was like trying to govern the Devil in Hell.”

References Cited
Brown, G. W.
1880   Reminiscences of Old John Brown: Thrilling Incidences of Border Life in Kansas.  Abraham E. Smith, Rockford, IL.
Coakley, Robert W.
2011   The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders, 1789-1878. Center of Military History, United States Army, Washington, D.C.
Connelly, William E.
n.d.    Douglas County, Kansas Territory in the Era of Bleeding Kansas. Map on file at the Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, KS.
1925   “The Lane-Jenkins Claim Contest.” Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society, 1923-25, Vol. 16, pp.25-27.
Ewy, Marvin
1966   “The United States Army in the Kansas Border Troubles”. In Kansas Historical Quarterly.  Vol. 32, pp. 385-400.
Freeport Daily Journal
1856   “Kansas Correspondence” Freeport Daily Journal (newspaper), Freeport, Illinois.  July 7, 1856.
Kansas Historical Society
2018   “Henry Hudson Williams”.  Biography found on-line at: http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/439582
Lowe, Percival G.
1906   Five Years a Dragoon. The Franklin Hudson Publishing Co., Kansas City, MO.
Mullis, Tony R.
2004   Peacekeeping on the Plains: Army Operations in Bleeding Kansas.  University of Missouri Press, Columbia, MO.
Robinson Charles
1892   The Kansas Conflict.  Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square, New York, NY.
Stuck, J. Cooper
      1857    Map of Douglas County, Kansas Territory.
*this formerly read that J. A. Harvey brought the men to Lecompton. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Buried Bunny Trails

This blog has been a long time coming. CRM archaeology doesn't allow much time for blogging, so we'll see how this goes....

Why this blog? Well, we find a ton of interesting tidbits in our many projects across the Plains, and one of the side goals we’ve always had for our business is to be able to educate the public on history that is unseen. That goal is actually two-fold:  
1)  We want to share about what we do and why we do it (because if you don’t know why cultural resources are important, why would you want to protect them?)
2) We don’t like to keep the past buried, we want people to get as excited about what we uncover as we are!

As the historian of this outfit, I am always finding fascinating stories that I want to flesh out more than time allows when we’re on our projects. My bunny trails. My research buddies know I’m a sucker for them ;) Some bunny trails just become interesting bits of trivia that I can spout off in general conversation and some I make my “pet projects”.  I have a few that I’ve been gathering information on for months upon months but don’t yet have an outlet for them. Other things I pick up are are tricks of the trade as a researcher. I would love to share these with fellow archival diggers of the past – something to aid in getting around some brick walls. And other things will be general historical randomness ;) If you follow our Facebook page you'll know that we're kind of random - either by jumping from project to project, or even just something cool historical that catches our eye! So to you, dear reader, I’m extending an invitation to follow me down some of my random bunny trails.

Maybe by writing my bunny trails down in this blog, it will help me not to bury the knowledge gained once again, but help someone else discover some cool buried past!

Thanks for joining in!