Michael J. Malone
Douglas County Law Library

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This Month in Legal History


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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This page contains the "This Month in Legal History" column as published in the current Michael J. Malone Douglas County Law Library E-Mail Newsletter. The column features a different event from the history of law and jurisprudence of Douglas County, Kansas, that occurred during the month. It is published monthly in the Michael J. Malone Douglas County Law Library E-Mail Newsletter and on the Home page of this website.

Archived entries from this and previous years can be accessed by visiting the This Month in Legal History Archive page on this website.


November 8, 1892 - Sherman Allen Harvey, son of ex-slaves, elected Clerk of the Douglas County, Kansas, District Court.

She was born sometime around 1832, probably in one of the Carolinas(1), to an enslaved mother she never knew. The unknown owner of her mother passed her on to another unknown man, presumably as payment for a debt. Her new owner put her into the care of one of his female slaves. She took the baby and gave her a name, her own name, Rebecca Brooks. When the younger Rebecca, who apparently sometimes was called Becky, was five or six years old, the master took her and the elder Rebecca on a journey through South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama to Mobile, where they boarded a ship bound for New Orleans. From there, he took them upriver, first to Little Rock, and then to Van Buren, Arkansas, where he sold the young Rebecca to a man named Foster(2). Rebecca was put to work, and grew up enslaved to Foster. Foster already owned slaves, one of whom was named Allen Harvey. Harvey served as overseer of Foster's property. He had a son, David Allen, who worked as a teamster for Foster(3). David would haul loads of produce to market in nearby Indian Territory and return with the proceeds from the sale. As Rebecca grew into womanhood, she and David began to grow closer to each other, and eventually became a couple. Slave marriages were not legally recognized, but some slave couples went through a ceremony anyway. Others just made commitments to each other without a formal ceremony. It is not clear which path David and Rebecca took, but the two considered themselves to be married. On Oct. 12, 1853, their first child, William W. Harvey, was born into slavery. On May 6, 1861, Arkansas declared its secession from the United States, and two weeks later, on May 18th, joined the newly formed Confederate States of America. On December 7, 1862, Union General James G. Blunt, an avowed abolitionist who had spent several years in Kansas Territory before the War working to make it a Free State when it joined the Union, led his Army of the Frontier in an attack on Confederate Major General Thomas C. Hindman's 1st Corps, Army of the Trans-Mississippi at Prairie Grove in Washington County, Arkansas. Following the hard-fought Union victory, General Blunt's men camped in the area of Prairie Grove. Later in the month, intelligence that eventually proved to be false came to Blunt that Hindeman was reinforcing and planned to attack northward. Blunt began moving his forces south across the Boston Mountains towards Van Buren on the morning of December 27th. Early in the morning of the 28th, they encountered a Confederate force around Dripping Springs, about seven miles north of Van Buren. A fight broke out, and eventually the Union cavalry charged, routing the defending Confederates, who fell back towards Van Buren. The cavalry pursued them, and a running fight developed. This went on all the way to Van Buren, and continued through the streets of the town. Union forces captured a train laden with supplies and three steamboats, in addition to other war materials. The fighting ended when the Union forces broke off the pursuit after a two-hour exchange of artillery fire that began around dark. The Van Buren area was then in the hands of the Union Army, an army led by a General who was a staunch abolitionist. The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect just four days later on January 1, 1863, and since Arkansas was still in a state of rebellion against the United States at that time(4), all the slaves there became free, including the Harvey Family. David, "in circumstances not now clear, … went with a federal force up to St. Louis and then on to Leavenworth," leaving Rebecca, William, and Allen in Arkansas. General Blunt made a decision to take some of the ex-slaves in the Van Buren area to Kansas. The reasons for him doing so are not known. Perhaps he was concerned that the Confederates might retake that part of northwest Arkansas and re-enslave the newly freed people, perhaps he was making a statement about abolitionism and Kansas, or perhaps he just felt it was the right thing to do, but whatever his reasons, he "gathered up a body of ex-slaves and had them conducted up to Kansas." Rebecca and William were among them, and so went to Kansas. The fate of Rebecca Brooks is unknown, but there is evidence that she had a daughter named Anna who was born around 1850 and who also made the trip to Kansas. After experiencing many hardships along the way, the group of refugees arrived in Douglas County, Kansas, on January 26, 1863, and stayed for a time at a place called Miller's Grove, located east of Lawrence, Kansas. It is not known if Anna came with the Harveys, with her mother, or by herself, but regardless of the circumstances, she was soon living with the Harveys(5). Life was not easy in their new location, as all were penniless and supplies were scarce. Word of the arrival near Lawrence of a group of ex-slaves from Arkansas made its way to Leavenworth, where David Harvey heard it and decided to go see if his family was among them. He traveled the approximately 30 miles from Leavenworth to Lawrence, found the place where the refugees were staying, and was reunited with his wife and child. David and Rebecca soon formalized their "slave marriage" with a legal wedding. They were able to find employment in the neighborhood, and in the spring of 1864, the Harveys were able to rent a few acres of land from Stephen A. Ogden, then sheriff of Douglas County. The crops that they harvested were used to pay the rent. On October 6th that year, a second son, Sherman Allen Harvey was born, named after Union Major General, William Tecumseh Sherman, and David's father, Allen. The family continued to share-crop, all the while working hard and saving every dime that they could. In the 1865 Kansas State Census, Blunt Parker, 2 years-old and born in Kansas, is recorded as living with David and Rebecca. His origins are unknown, but his family likely came to Kansas the same time as did Rebecca and William, evidenced by his full name, James Blunt Parker(6) undoubtedly named in honor of the man who had delivered all of them from bondage and brought them to Kansas. Who his parents were and why he was living with the Harvey Family is unknown, but he did eventually come to consider himself one of their sons. The Harvey Family was very generous and giving, witnessed by the fact that despite their own growing family and their desire to own land of their own, they took both Anna and Blunt into their family. In addition, later in 1865, David went back to Arkansas to get his parents. He found that his mother had died, but that his father was still living, so he brought him to Kansas and added him to his and Rebecca's growing household. In 1866, a third biological son, Frederick Douglass Grant Harvey was born. Grant, as he came to be known, was named after the famed abolitionist who had freed himself from bondage and who became one of the leading Black men of the 19th Century working for equal rights for ex-slaves, and Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant. In 1868, the family had finally saved enough money to be able to purchase 15 acres of their own in the area of Blue Mound, a prominent geographical feature southeast of Lawrence. Two years later on August 4, 1870, a forth son, Edward Sheridan Harvey was born, named after Union General Philip Sheridan. The Harvey Family became an integral part of their local community, getting involved with their schools, church, and other organizations. Rebecca was widely known as a midwife and nurse. In 1872, the University of Kansas in Lawrence began constriction on a second building, known at the time as the "New Building", which was later named Fraser Hall. David and Rebecca brought their family to the ceremony that marked the laying of the corner stone. They heard speeches about the importance of education, both for the individual and for the future of the state. Although being illiterate themselves, David and Rebecca Harvey went away that day determined to send their sons to KU. If it already had not been, education became a priority in the Harvey Family. William attended McCauly Business College in Lawrence. The 1875 Kansas Census records that an 18 year-old David Parker, presumably Blunt's brother or other close relative, who had been born in Arkansas, was living with the Harvey Family. William W. Harvey died on July 25, 1878, of unknown causes, and was buried in Vinland Cemetery near Vinland, Kansas. By 1880, David Parker was no longer living with the Harveys, and sometime after that, Blunt himself moved away. In 1884, Allen Harvey died and was buried in Vinland Cemetery. Sherman graduated high school and then attended KU, graduating from there with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1889. He later wrote of that commencement day, "After six years and a half of hard study, with misgivings at times, pleasures and some hardships - like poor clothing, keeping bachelor's hall much of the time, and riding from home to school, David and Rebecca Harvey, ex-slaves, proud with tears of joy, sat and saw thier [sic] boy, born in Kansas, receive the first diploma given by the University to a Kansas Negro, and receive the plaudits of the audience along with his white classmates." In the summer of 1890, he was approached by members of the Republican Party's local leadership to run on the Republican ticket for the office of Clerk of the Douglas County District Court, which was an elective office at the time. He consented, and was nominated in August. Benjamin Harrison had been elected President of the United States in1888, and 1890 was the midterm election. Harrison's policies were not particularly popular with the people, which led to a Democratic Party victory in many races nationwide. The Clerk of the District Court's race was one of these, and Sherman lost. He was offered a position teaching a class of "colored" children in a local school, and he accepted the position. Grant graduated KU in 1891, and because Kansas had no medical school at the time, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Mehary Medical School there. Sherman was again nominated for Clerk of the District Court for the 1892 election. Despite the fact the Democrat Grover Cleveland reclaimed the Presidency in the November election, Sherman Harvey won his race, and was sworn in as Clerk of the Douglas County District Court in January of 1893. In a county where fewer that forty years before, there was armed conflict over the issue of whether Kansas would be a Free or slave state, in a town that only thirty years before had been burned to the ground by Confederate guerillas, intent on wiping out abolitionists, the son of ex-slaves was now serving as Clerk of the Douglas County District Court. Later that year, Grant graduated from medical school. The happiness the Harvey family experienced in 1893 was balanced with sadness, as David Harvey died that year. At the time of his death, the family's hand holdings had increased to 100 acres. Edward graduated from KU in 1894, and Sherman was reelected to another term that year, and served until January 1897. He went back to teaching for the 1897/98 school year. Sherman had been approved to teach for the following school year, but the war with Spain changed his plans. In response to the furor around the explosion and sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898, the United State declared war on Spain effective April 21, 1898. Sherman was against war with Spain, and spoke publically against it, but he eventually began to feel it was his duty to participate. When he made his intentions known, he was approached about being appointed a Captain in a new regiment being formed, the 23rd Kansas Volunteer Infantry. It was to be an all-black regiment, but in a radical departure from what had been the norm, this regiment would have black officers. In the past, all-black units were always commanded by white officers, but the 23rd Kansas would be different. Sherman Harvey volunteered to be a part of it, and was mustered into the 23rd Kansas as Captain of Company B. Grant Harvey was appointed as a 1st Lieutenant and assistant surgeon for the 23rd Kansas. The regiment was organized in July 1898, and on August 23th, it was ordered to Cuba. In the meantime, peace negotiations were underway, and both sides soon agreed to cease hostilities. This did not stop the deployment of the 23rd Kansas, and they arrived in Cuba on September 1, 1898. They served garrison duty there until they were withdrawn on March 1, 1899. After arriving back in the United States, they went to Fort Leavenworth, where the regiment was mustered out on April 10, 1899. The Harvey Brothers came back to Lawrence. Sherman enrolled in the KU Law School and Grant began practicing civilian medicine, eventually practicing in Nashville; Brownsville, Texas; Kansas City, Kansas; and Lawrence. Edward went to Washington, D.C., to work as secretary for Congressman J. D. Bowersock. He stayed for two years, coming home in 1901. He was offered a position teaching mathematics in North Carolina, but turned it down, preferring instead to live in Kansas and farm the family's land. Sherman graduated from law school, and in April 1902, left for the Philippines. He arrived there, "in the midst of a cholera epidemic, where I also was exposed to malaria, small-pox and bubonic plague." He opened a law practice and traded in tobacco. Keeping his origins in mind, Sherman always worked for the underdog and the oppressed, frequently defending native clients against large landowners and the government bureaucracy, and insisting that the justice system there be equal for all. Edward Harvey married Maud Henrie in 1912, and fathered five children who would carry on the Harvey Family name. Sherman came home from the Philippines in 1913 for a four-month visit. Blunt maintained contact with his adopted family, and visited them in 1916. Then in August 1918, the family's living link to their triumph over slavery passed into history when Rebecca Brooks Harvey died. Sherman came back to Lawrence in 1921 after having spent 19 years in the Philippines. Dr. Frederick Douglas Grant Harvey died on May 25, 1923, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence. Around this time, Sherman became a resident of the Western Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, a residence hospital for ex-soldiers in Leavenworth, Kansas. Just what his disability was is not known, but the fact that he spent nearly twenty years of his life, first in Cuba and then in the Philippines, in areas where tropical diseases were common, and by his own admission had been exposed to many of them, he likely had contracted one which debilitated him over time. He was later transferred to the Pacific Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Sawtelle, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. In July 1933, he wrote a short biography titled "The Story of My Life". Anna Brooks died on June 21, 1934, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery. Sherman Allen Harvey died in September 1934 at the Soldiers' Home in California. His body was brought back to Kansas and buried in Vinland Cemetery. James Blunt Harvey died on February 24, 1943, in Des Moines, Iowa, and was buried in Glendale Cemetery there. Edward Sheridan Harvey, last surviving child of David and Rebecca Brooks Harvey, died on October 14, 1953, and was buried in Vinland Cemetery. The direct connection to the Harvey Family's past was gone, but the family's legacy of courage, endurance, and service lived on. One of David and Rebecca's great-granddaughters was Debra "Debbie" Harvey Green(7), who was an outstanding teacher. She died on December 26, 2012, after a long struggle against illness, but despite that struggle, she taught at Lawrence High School for 34 years. To honor her, the Debbie Green Memorial Scholarship was created for graduating Lawrence High seniors "who have overcome a personal or family crisis and who recognize the value of a post high school education." This description can be applied to David and Rebecca Brooks Harvey, and the family they founded.

(1) There is no known record of her birth, but later census records variously note both North and South Carolina as the location.

(2) Presumably Josiah "Si" Foster, who had come with his first wife and several children to Crawford County, Arkansas, from Howard County, Missouri, in 1835, bought land, and settled near Van Buren. "Later he added other lands until at the beginning of the War Between the States he owned many slaves and was one of the largest land owners in the County."

(3) It is likely that Foster had brought Allen and David Harvey with him when he moved his family from Missouri. Although Allen was born in Kentucky, David had been born in Missouri, and would have been around nine years old in 1835 when the Foster's moved to Arkansas.

(4) The Emancipation Proclamation did not free all slaves. It freed only slaves who were in areas currently in rebellion against the United States. Slaves who were in areas that had remained loyal to the Union remained enslaved until the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was declared as ratified on December 18, 1865.

(5) U.S. and Kansas Census records indicate that Anna Brooks lived with the Harvey Family at the time of the 1865 and 1870 Censuses, was missing from the 1875 Census, and appeared again with them in the 1880 and 1885 Census, sometimes being recorded as a Harvey and sometimes not. The 1880 Census indicates her relationship in the family as "Step Daughter". When she died, she was buried in a plot owned by Grant Harvey.

(6) It appears that Blunt was born on March 17, 1864. He was recorded as living with the Harvey Family in the 1865, 1870, 1875, and 1880 U.S. and Kansas Censuses. He is recorded as Blunt Parker in the 1865 and 1875 Censuses, and as Blunt Harvey in the 1870 and 1880 Censuses. His feelings about the family and his full name can be determined by piecing together census and other records. It appears that he was living under the name James Harvey with a wife named Emma in Kansas City, Missouri, at the time the 1900 U.S. Census was taken on June 4th of that year. It appears he was living under the name James Harvey with Emma in Montana Township, Labette County, Kansas, at the time the 1910 U.S. Census was taken on April 28th. An article in the June 27, 1916, Lawrence Daily Journal-World notes that Blunt Harvey and his unnamed wife were visiting the Harvey Family homestead from their home in Des Moines, Iowa. He was recorded in the 1920 U.S. Census as living under the name James B. Harvey with a wife named Harriet in Des Moines at the time the census was taken in January 4th, and the 1940 U.S. Census shows him living with under the name James B. Harvey a wife named Lucile in Des Moines on April 15th. As to his name, going by both James B. and Blunt makes it a logical conclusion that his name was James Blunt. Him using Harvey as his last name indicates his feelings about his connection to the family.

(7) The author has a personal connection to the Harvey Family. In the 1960s, he attended school with Debra "Debbie" Harvey and her cousin, Elizabeth Harvey, first at Kaw Valley Grade School, and then Lawrence High School. Debbie was the daughter of Dean and Dorothy Harvey. Dean was one of Edward Harvey's children, so David and Rebecca Harvey were Debbie's great-grandparents. Debbie Harvey was always a good student and was well respected by everyone. The value her family placed on education can be illustrated by an incident that occurred during the racially troubled times in Lawrence during the late 1960s. The Black Student Union staged a walkout one day to protest the conditions of Blacks in the school system and Lawrence in general. Despite extreme pressure from her Black friends, Debbie refused to walk out. She said later that knowing the value that her family placed on education, she could not do so no matter what. That took courage.

From: Rebecca Brooks Harvey, Lawrence/Douglas County, Kansas, African American Oral History Interviews website; Becky Harvey, 1865 Kansas State Census, Wakarusa Township, Douglas County, 5/8/1865; Josiah Foster, History of Crawford County, Arkansas, by Clara B. Eno, Van Buren, AR, The Press-Argus, 1951?; p. 490; William W. Harvey, Find A Grave website; General James G. Blunt: Tarnished Glory, by Robert Collins, Gretna, LA, Pelican Publishing Company, 2005, pp. 91-101; Battle of Dripping Springs, Arkansas, ExploreSouthernHistory.com website; Battle of Van Buren, Wikipedia website; Harvey Family Papers, 1913-1977, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas; Harvey, David, 1870 U.S. Census, Wakarusa Township, Douglas County, Kansas, 6/2/1870; Harvey, David, 1880 U.S. Census, Wakarusa Township, Douglas County, Kansas, 6/1/1880; James B. Harvey, Find a Grave website; Harvey, James, 1900 U.S. Census, Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, 6/4/1900; Harvey, James B., 1910 U.S. Census, Montana Township, Labette County, Kansas, 4/28/1910; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 60, no. 153 (June 27, 1916), p. 7; Harvey, James B., 1920 U.S. Census, Des Moines City, Polk County, Iowa, 1/4/1920; Harvey, James B., 1940 U.S. Census, Des Moines City, Polk County, Iowa, 4/15/1940; Search of "Harvey" in Vinland Cemetery, Find A Grave website; The Story of My Life, by Sherman Allen Harvey, 1933, typescript, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas; and, The 23rd Regiment Kansas Volunteer Infantry, Museum of the Kansas National Guard website.

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