Michael J. Malone
Douglas County Law Library

Judicial and Law Enforcement Center
111 East 11th Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044
Phone: (785) 838-2477
Fax: (785) 838-2455

This Month in Legal History Archive


This page contains archived entries from the "This Month in Legal History" column published in 2010 in the Michael J. Malone Douglas County Law Library E-Mail Newsletter and on the Home page of this website. Each month, the column features a different event from the history of law and jurisprudence of Douglas County, Kansas, that occurred during the month.

January 24-28, 1859 - Joel and Emily Grover violate the Fugitive Slave Act - On September 18, 1850, President Millard Fillmore signed into law a new Fugitive Slave Act. It was one of five bills Fillmore signed into law as part of the Compromise of 1850. Prior to the Act, laws in the United States covering the capture and return of slaves who had run away from bondage were weak. Once fugitive slaves had escaped to a state that did not allow slavery, they were relatively safe from being forcibly returned to bondage. There was always the possibility of being discovered and taken back by a slave catcher, but the majority of people in Free states left them alone. Most officials did nothing unless specific legal action was taken by slave owners attempting to reclaim their slaves. Thus, most fugitive slaves who did not continue on to security in Canada were able to settle in northern states and begin life as relatively free men and women. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 changed all that. It required that all fugitive slaves be returned to their masters. It further required that Federal marshals and other officials actively seek out, capture, and return any fugitive slave, from anywhere in the United States, regardless of the laws of the state in which the fugitive was found. Failure to do so made the official liable to a $1,000 fine. In addition, any person who aided a runaway slave in any manner was subject to six months Federal imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. In September 1854, Joel Grover, born August 5, 1825, in Springwater, New York, came to what was to become Lawrence, Kansas, in the second party of Free-State immigrants sponsored by the New England Emigrant Aid Company. They came to make certain that the Territory of Kansas would be admitted to the Union as a state that did not allow slavery. That November, Grover was appointed Constable for the First District, Territory of Kansas, and served as marshal of the newly established town of Lawrence. On November 27 of the following year, he was commissioned as Colonel of the 6th Regiment, First Brigade of Kansas Volunteers, by James Henry Lane, "to defend the City of Lawrence from threatened destruction by foreign invaders" during the Wakarusa War, the war without a battle, when the Free-State town was threatened by a large force of pro-slavery men. On October 13, 1857, Grover married Emily Jane Hunt. She had been born September 1, 1839, in Medway, Massachusetts, and was described as a passionate abolitionist. She had come to Kansas in 1855 in the care of Charles Robinson, future first Governor of the State of Kansas, and had worked for him and his wife as their housekeeper prior to her marriage to Grover. In 1858, Grover built a stone barn on the farm he and Emily had acquired about three miles southwest of Lawrence. On January 24, 1859, the abolitionist John Brown arrived on the doorstep of Joel and Emily Grover with twelve people escaping to freedom. The Grovers were conductors on the Underground Railroad, the nationwide network of clandestine safe houses run by abolitionists who assisted fugitive slaves to escape to freedom. Joel and Emily did this in spite of the risks it entailed to all they had built up over the past few years. Their participation was known by certain members of the abolitionist community, so when John Brown came to the area escorting twelve human beings fleeing slavery, he came to them. Five weeks earlier, on December 19, 1858, Brown had received a request from Jim Daniels, a slave who had come into Kansas from his home in Missouri, ostensibly to sell brooms, but in reality seeking help for his family. Daniels had asked the abolitionist to rescue his wife and children who were about to be sold and sent away south. The next day, December 20th, Brown and his men went into Vernon County, Missouri, and freed 11 slaves, including the family of Daniels, and brought them into Kansas. Near the town of Garnett, Kansas, a baby boy was born to Daniels' wife, who named her new freeborn son John Brown Daniels. When John Brown arrived on the doorstep of Joel and Emily Grover on January 24, 1859, with twelve tired, hungry souls, the Grovers took them in. They hid the fugitives in their barn, and by taking in and sheltering the runaway slaves, they violated the Fugitive Slave Act. If the fugitives were discovered on their property, Joel and Emily each risked receiving six months in Federal prison and a $1,000 fine for each of their twelve guests. The fugitives stayed in the Grover's barn until the 28th, when Brown moved them along on their road to freedom, eventually taking them all the way to Detroit, Michigan, where the fugitives crossed to safety in Canada. The presence of fugitives on their property did not diminish the Grover's standing in the community, as witnessed by Joel serving as Douglas County Commissioner later that year. His standing in the community was further illustrated by his being elected to represent the 36th District in the Kansas House for the 1868/69 term. The Grovers stayed on their farm the rest of their lives, eventually parenting seven children. Joel died July 28, 1879. Emily died in 1921. The farm passed through several hands until it was sold and subdivided into suburban lots as part of a growing Lawrence. In the 1980s, the City of Lawrence acquired the barn, by then surrounded by houses and lawns, and converted it into a fire station, preserving the majority of the structure. In 2006, the barn was deactivated as a fire station and the City began looking for how to utilize the building in the future. One proposal was to turn the barn into an Underground Railroad Interpretative Center/Abolition Museum. On February 14, 2006, the Lawrence City Commission passed an ordinance designating the barn a landmark on the Lawrence Register of Historic Place, and on January 20, 2009, Lawrence Mayor Michael Dever signed a proclamation commemorating the stay of the twelve "freedom-seekers" in the Grover Barn. At present, the barn is being used by the City for storage and its future remains uncertain. (From: Publications of the Kansas State Historical Society, embracing biographical sketches…at Topeka, January 29, 1886. Kansas Publishing House, Topeka, 1886, p. 40; Joel Grover, Kansas Legislators Past & Present, State Library of Kansas; A History of Lawrence from the earliest settlement to the close of the rebellion, by Richard Cordley, E. F. Caldwell, Lawrence, Kansas, 1895, Chapter 1; Militia Commission, issued by James H. Lane to Joel Grover, November 27, 1855; Emily Hunt Grover, by Diana Welsh, The Lecompton Reenactor, v. 3, issue 9 (September 2008), Lecompton, Kansas; Letter, William A. Phillips, State Marshall, to Joel Grover, June 24, 1859; The Grover Barn: A Proposal for Preservation, by Craig S. Crosswhite, Unpublished Manuscript, July 10, 1980; and, Proclamation, January 20, 2009. Published 1/10.)  Back to top of page

February 26, 1861 - Louis Carpenter records his first case as Probate Judge of Douglas County, Kansas - Louis Carpenter came to Kansas in the late 1850s, and by early 1859 was serving as a Deputy Clerk of the United States District Court of Kansas Territory, 2nd Judicial District for Douglas County. He had been born December 14, 1829, in New York State. When and how he studied law is not known, but by February 26, 1861, he had been appointed Probate Judge of Douglas County, and on that date recorded his first case. He continued as probate judge until early 1863, his last case being recorded on January 10th of that year. During his tenure as probate judge, many important events took place, both in his personal life and nationally. The American Civil War, having smoldered in Kansas for seven years, broke out across the entire nation in the Spring of 1861. In 1862, Carpenter bought, sold, traded, and bartered lots in Lawrence, Kansas, the results being two large adjoining lots and sufficient bricks and foundation stone for a large brick house, which he subsequently had built. Also in 1862, he married his fiancée, Mary E. Barber, and, in the election that fall, ran an unsuccessful campaign as the candidate of the Union Party for Attorney General of Kansas. Around the time he left the bench, he was appointed as Kansas Supreme Court Reporter, and through the spring and summer of 1863, he compiled and edited material intended to be published as the first report of the Kansas Supreme Court. He and his new wife were at home on the morning of August 21, 1863, when William Quantrill and his band of 400 Confederate guerillas attacked Lawrence, killing and burning as they went. Several of the raiders came to Carpenter's home, and when he replied "New York" to the question "Where are you from," they began shooting him. He collapsed and died in his back yard. He was eventually buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence, near the final resting place of many other victims of Quantrill's Raid. (From: Judge Louis Carpenter page, Douglas County Law Library website. Published 2/10.)  Back to top of page

March 16, 1857 - Henry F. Parker reports on the courthouse competition in Lawrence, Kansas - In 1855, the first act organizing Douglas County, Kansas Territory, designated Lecompton as the county seat. Lecompton was the headquarters of the pro-slavery movement in Kansas Territory, and that same year it became the permanent capital of the territory and the seat of the territorial legislature. The legislature had been elected by a large group of pro-slavery men who had come into the territory from Missouri, specifically to take over polling places, cast fraudulent votes, and so ensure a pro-slavery outcome in that spring's election. Because of this, it was known as the "bogus" legislature by Free-State men and women, many of whom lived in Lawrence, the headquarters of the Free-State movement in the territory. By 1857, there was movement on the part of Free-State men to have the county seat moved from Lecompton to Lawrence. In anticipation of this, plans were being made as to where county buildings would be located after the change was made. Apparently, different interests in town were competing for the location of a future courthouse. Henry F. Parker, a Free-State supporter originally from Reading, Massachusetts, wrote a letter dated March 16, 1857, to Hiram Hill, another Free-State supporter and businessman in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. Parker reported to Hill that an unnamed "they" were trying to find a location for a courthouse in Lawrence, and that a Mr. Whitman, presumably Edmund Burke Whitman, local agent of the National Kansas Committee, had offered a square of land containing five or six acres and $500 for a courthouse. A Mr. Mallery, a Mr. Ditzler, and one or two unnamed others had "offered the same," presumably referring to money to build a courthouse on the land Whitman was offering. Parker wrote that Whitman wanted to know if Hill would do likewise. This was apparently being done to counter the actions of a Mr. Babcock, presumably local attorney Carmi William Babcock, whom Parker indicated was trying to get the courthouse located on his own land, and who had offered up a large sum of money for that purpose. All this maneuvering went for nothing, for even though the territorial legislature moved the county seat of Douglas County from Lecompton to Lawrence in January 1858, none of the competing interests were successful in securing a location for the courthouse. In fact, no courthouse would be built in the county for many years. From 1858 to 1869, the county rented space to house county offices in various business buildings in Lawrence. In 1869, the City of Lawrence built a City Hall, and the county rented space there for the court and some other county offices. By 1899, the county still did not have a courthouse of its own, so that year the voters of Douglas County approved a levy for an additional real estate tax to pay for one. In 1902, local banker J.B. (Jabez Bunting) Watkins offered to donate four lots on the southeast corner of Massachusetts and Quincy (now 11th) Streets for the construction of a courthouse. The County Commission accepted the donation and construction began in early 1903, the cornerstone being laid on July 4th of that year. Construction was completed sometime in late 1904, and in January of 1905, county officers began to move in without fanfare. The building became a local landmark, and on April 14, 1975, the Douglas County Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places. (From: Historic Lecompton, About Lecompton…; William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, Douglas County, Part 3, County Organization and Official Roster; History of Lowell and its people, Volume 2, by Frederick W. Coburn, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York City, 1920, p. 675; Letter, Henry Parker to Hiram Hill, March 16, 1857; Hiram Hill Collection, Kansas State Historical Society; Expense Sheet, Edmond Burke Whitman to National Kansas Committee, February 28-August 14, 1857, Kansas Memory Project, Kansas State Historical Society; Photograph, Carmi William Babcock, Kansas Memory Project, Kansas State Historical Society; National Register of Historic Places, Inventory, Nomination Form, Douglas County Courthouse; Douglas County Courthouse History, Douglas County, Kansas, website; and, Douglas County Courthouse, Kansas State Historical Society. Published 3/10.)  Back to top of page

April 20, 1970 - The Kansas Union burns - After the end of World War I, there was interest at the University of Kansas to find a way to honor the school's students and alumni who had died in the War. William J. Baumgartner, professor of zoology at the University, proposed that a memorial student union be built to fill that role. In late 1920, a fund-raising effort called the "Million Dollar Drive" was begun to raise money to build a stadium and student union building at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The intention was that each would be a memorial to the dead of World War I. Building of the stadium began first, and by late 1921, the initial section was completed, with football games being played there that fall. A hillside site to the southeast of the stadium was chosen for the union building so that the two structures would be visible from each other. Irving K. Pond of the Chicago architectural firm Pond and Pond designed an 80 by 135 foot union building. Construction expenses for the stadium had used up most of the money that had been raised, which delayed groundbreaking for the union building until commencement in 1925. The exterior of the building, constructed of brick made at Lansing State Prison and trimmed with cut Indiana limestone, was finished in 1926, but because it was just a hollow shell, it became know as "Baumgartner's Folly." When it opened in September 1927, most of the interior of the Union was still unfinished. As funds permitted over the next decade, lounges, game rooms, a cafeteria, and a ballroom were completed. Major additions were completed in 1952, 1960, and 1969, the results being a building double its original size with north and south wings flanking a central core. By the spring of 1970, the racial and student unrest that had been affecting other parts of the country began boiling over in Lawrence. At about 9:13 in the evening of April 20, 1970, three firebombs were tossed through a window of the Unified School District 497 Administration Center located just south of the high school. Only one went off, and the resulting blaze was put out by someone using a fire extinguisher, with the fire causing only minor damage. A fire truck responding to the call reportedly had shots fired at it. No damage or injuries resulted, but the firefighters reported seeing muzzle flashes and an unidentified gunman. A little more than an hour later, at 10:25 p.m., an employee checking out the Pine Room on the 5th floor of the Kansas Union noticed nothing out of the ordinary. However, just five minutes later, someone smelled smoke, and by 10:40 p.m., the area was engulfed in flames. A fire call was made and nearly the entire Lawrence Fire Department responded, sending four pumper trucks, a hook and ladder truck, and a snorkel truck to the scene. The fire spread quickly and broke through the roof in the west part of the building around 11:00 p.m. The firefighters, augmented by more than a hundred student volunteers, fought the blaze from inside the building and on the roof. They were hampered by there being no source of water inside the building, which required fire hoses to be stretched from outside hydrants into the building and up the stairs to the top floors. Students helped firefighters haul the heavy fire hoses into the building and up the interior stairs to get water on the fire. They struggled against the weight of the hoses, and the dense, acrid smoke billowing down the stairwells. One firefighter told the young volunteers, "If the roof collapses, you're all dead," but they ignored his warning and continued to help. Other young people, university and high school students, carried furniture and artwork to the relative safety of the new north wing of the building. Some brought blankets to cover artwork that could not be moved, and others brought food and coffee for the men fighting the blaze. By 11:30 p.m., the worst part of the fire was in the area above the 5th floor ballroom. At about 12:30 a.m., flames burst through the roof over the ballroom, leaping more than forty feet in the air, the spectacular blaze being visible for miles. Despite the best efforts of the crews of the snorkel and hook and ladder trucks, a large portion of the flaming roof collapsed into the ballroom. The collapse of the roof marked the high point of the blaze, which was soon brought under control and put out. Except for one or two firefighters being overcome by smoke, there were no injuries to anyone in the building at the start of the fire, firefighters battling the blaze, or student volunteers helping the firefighters. Later in the day, Kansas Governor Robert Docking declared a three-day dusk to dawn curfew in Lawrence and sent in Kansas Highway Patrol troopers and members of the Kansas National Guard to assist the Lawrence Police maintain order. 40,000 square feet of the top two floors of the Union's central core, including the ballroom, were destroyed, and the other four floors in the central core and some areas of the south wing suffered severe water damage. Although $50,000 worth of art had been rescued from fire and water by students, water was standing in the Kansas Union Bookstore, and much of its $500,000 inventory of books was damaged or destroyed. Estimates for repair of the building ranged up to $2,000,000. Despite the destruction, some undamaged portions of the Union opened for limited services on April 24th. Given the turmoil going on in the City at the time, arson was immediately suspected. Both the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were brought in. The origin of the fire was traced to a petroleum-based fuel being ignited in a men's restroom on the 5th floor. There was much speculation as to who had started the fire, and why. Some thought it was done by local individuals. Others thought it was done by outside agitators. The FBI suspected three unidentified older black males who were supposedly seen exiting the restroom not long before the fire. A few days after the fire, a white KU student who had helped save furniture and artwork during the fire, and two black men were arrested by the Department of Public Safety, allegedly for carrying a Molotov cocktail. For a while, they were prime suspects in the arson, but were never charged. A massive clean-up effort was undertaken to get the Union ready for the Fall 1970 semester. By the beginning of classes on August 31, areas of the Union open to the public had been so restored that incoming freshmen could see little if any sign of the conflagration that had occurred in the building just four months before. Because the Union was operated by a private entity, the Memorial Union Corporation, instead of by the University or the State, the damage was almost entirely covered by insurance. Within two years, the Union had been completely repaired. Despite authorities having compiled a case file a foot thick, no one has ever been identified as being responsible for the Kansas Union fire. (From: Campus Buildings Directory - Kansas Union; Kansas Memorial Union; Memorial Stadium; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 112, no. 95 (April 21, 1970), pp. 1, 2, and 10; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 112, no. 96 (April 22, 1970), pp. 1 and 12; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 112, no. 98 (April 24, 1970), p. 2; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 132, no. 111 (April 20, 1990), p. 7A; "This is America?": the Sixties in Lawrence, Kansas, by Rusty Monhollon, Palgrave, 2002, p. 153; and personal recollections of the author. Published 4/10.)  Back to top of page

May 18, 1856 - John Jones shot in the back at Blanton's Bridge - John Jones was born and raised in Schuyler County, Illinois, and came to Douglas County, Kansas Territory, in September of 1855 in a party of men from that state. He was a supporter of Kansas being admitted to the Union as a state that did not allow slavery, eventually joining the Wakarusa Guards to protect the Free-State cause in the Territory. Jones was described as "a young man whose character was above reproach. Morally and physically he was excelled by few, always prompt to respond to all calls. A dangerous foe as well as a staunch friend." Being of legal age, 19 or 20 years old, he was able to stake a claim in Douglas County about a mile and a half southeast of a toll bridge over the Wakarusa River known as Blanton's Bridge. The bridge, located about four miles south of Lawrence, had been built in early1855 by Napoleon Bonaparte Blanton, known to some as "Bony" Blanton. Blanton had come to the area in October 1854 and settled where the old Fremont Trail crossed the Wakarusa. He was from Missouri, but unlike most others who had come to the Territory from that state, he was not proslavery, and did not support Kansas be admitted to the Union as a state that allowed slavery. In addition to the bridge, Blanton built a comfortable hewed-log house with stone chimneys that operated as a country hotel and another building that housed a grocery store. Being the only one over the river, Blanton's Bridge was widely known and heavily used. By late December 1855, tension between Free-State and proslavery partisans had cooled off somewhat for the winter, so John Jones was able to return to Illinois in January of 1856 for his widowed mother and his sister. They made the 620-mile trip back to Kansas in midwinter. When the weather warmed up that spring, the troubles between Free-State and proslavery partisans began warming up too. In mid-May, United States Marshall Israel B. Donaldson was assembling a force of proslavery supporters to assist him in serving bills of indictment on several Free-State leaders who were in Lawrence. He had previously tried to serve them and had met resistance in the town, which was the headquarters of the Free-State movement in Kansas. On Sunday, May 18(1), Jones went to Blanton's grocery to purchase a sack of meal. While he was there, a party of men under Donaldson's command arrived on the scene. Blanton saw the men coming and, fearing that they were there to capture or kill him, ran off and hid in the brush a short distance away, leaving Jones and another young man named Blain to face the intruders. Jones slung the sack of meal on the back of his horse and was preparing to leave when one of the proslavery men ordered him to stop. The man said they were going to search the two young men for "incendiary papers." Jones stopped and asked by what authority he was detained. The man replied, "My captain is my authority." Jones drew and cocked his revolver, saying that he did not have any papers of that kind and would resist being searched. By this time several other proslavery men had come up and surrounded Jones, who stood holding his cocked revolver down at his side. The proslavery men told him that Blanton was the man they wanted, so if he would give his revolver to Blair as a pledge of good faith, they would give their word and honor that he could go in peace. Jones said he would accept the terms, handed the revolver to Blair, and mounted his horse. He had just begun to ride off when one of the proslavery men shouted two or three times, "Damn him, Kill him!" Jones turned and supposedly said, "Shoot, I am your target!" No one did, so he turned his back on them and started off again. Jones had not gone thirty feet when someone called out to "shoot the damned Abolitionist." A shot rang out, followed closely by a second one. The first one missed, but the second one hit Jones in the back. He fell from his horse but was able to get up and lean against a tree. He told the men that they were a cowardly set of dogs to shoot a man in the back. Two women came out of Blanton's house and they and Blain were able to carry Jones into the building. Some of the men came in to see him, the captain of the group supposedly saying that he did not give orders to kill men, but only to take away their arms. Jones died there that night. When word of the murder reached Lawrence, two friends of Jones rode out to find him. They ran into two of the proslavery men encamped at Franklin, Kansas, which was located a few miles southeast of Lawrence. The proslavery men first insulted the two men from Lawrence, and then fired on them, killing one named Stewart. Stewart's body was brought back to Lawrence. In response to the killings, a group of men began forming to attack the camp at Franklin, but was prevented from doing so by Free-State authorities. Just two days later, on May 21, the large force of proslavery men that United States Marshall Donaldson had assembled, presumably including the men who had killed Jones and Stewart, attacked, sacked, and burned Lawrence under the command of the proslavery sheriff of Douglas County, Samuel Jones(2). The identity and fate of the man who killed Jones is unknown. No one was ever indicted or tried for the crime. When he died, John Jones left behind his grief-stricken mother and sister, and was buried in an unmarked grave at the foot of Blue Mound, southeast of Lawrence.

(1) An article in the May 16, 1857, issue of the Herald of Freedom gives the date of the shooting as May 4, 1856. The article indicates that the account had not been published when it was written, but had been discovered in the newspaper's safe in the autumn before publication. A letter from W. B. Kennedy to F. G. Adams, dated October 27, 1886, gives the date of the shooting as May 18. In his letter, Mr. Kennedy writes that he lived on a claim adjoining Blanton's, heard the shooting, and was on the scene within a few minutes. His is the only known account written by someone who was there. The majority of other sources give the date of the shooting as May 19. Having three separate dates reported for the shooting is problematic. The sources of those separate dates needs to be examined to determine the one most likely to be correct. Kennedy's letter was written thirty years after the event, and it could be argued that failing memory might have caused him to be mistaken about the date, but the fact that he was on the scene and witnessed the events gives credence to his date being accurate. Assuming it is, the reasons for the other dates being in circulation need to be examined. If the shooting happen on the 18th, why did the Herald of Freedom article have the date as the 4th? Depending on when the account was written, it may have been in the newspaper's safe during the fire that destroyed the newspaper office when Lawrence was sacked on May 21, 1856. Perhaps heat from the fire somehow rendered illegible the date recorded in the material found in the safe. The source of the original account could have been mistaken about the date. There is always the possibility that the account was simply misread when the newspaper article was written, or perhaps the typesetter made a mistake when the paper was composed. There are strong indications that Stewart was killed on the 19th. If Jones were killed on the 4th, as the Herald of Freedom article reports, two weeks would have elapsed between Jones' shooting and Stewart and his companion riding out of Lawrence and having their own fatal encounter with the proslavery men from Franklin on the 19th. Stewart's ride was supposedly in response to Jones' shooting. Such a long time between cause and effect is not likely, which casts doubt on the 4th being the correct date. Why do other sources record the date of Jones' shooting as being on the 19th, which contradicts Kennedy's account? A possible solution is that if Jones were shot on the 18th, as Kennedy wrote, but did not die until after midnight on the 19th, the date of his death and not the date of his shooting would be the one widely reported and remembered by the majority of people. Taking all this into consideration, the most likely date of Jones' shooting is the one recorded by Kennedy, May 18, 1856.

(2) No relation to John Jones.

(From: Letter, W. B. Kennedy to F. G. Adams, October 27, 1886 - Kansas State Historical Society Manuscript Collection; A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Chicago : Lewis, 1918, Chapter 28, p. 2, and Chapter 29, p. 4; A History of Missouri: 1820 To 1860 By William Earl Parrish, Perry McCandless; Herald of Freedom, May 16, 1857, vol. 2, no. 38, p. 1; How Bloody Was Bleeding Kansas? p. 126; John Brown, 1800-1859: a biography fifty years after, by Oswald Garrison Villard, p.141. Published 5/10.)  Back to top of page

June 10, 1882 - Three black men are lynched in Lawrence, Kansas - David Bausman was born in Brookville, Ohio, in 1840. He had served in the Union Army during the Civil War, having been wounded in the Battle of Stones River in 1862. His wife had died in 1881, and her death had so affected him that he sold his property and moved to Globe, Kansas, to live with his cousin and start a new life. Globe was a small settlement in the southwest corner of Douglas County, approximately fifteen miles southwest of Lawrence. On May 31, 1882, the 42 year-old Bausman was in a saloon in Lawrence when he looked out and saw Margaret "Sis" Vinegar walking by. Sis Vinegar was 14 years old, and was the daughter of Pete Vinegar. Mr. Vinegar was head of a family that included seven children ranging in age from 11 to 25. He had been born into slavery in Kentucky in 1830. In 1852, his owner moved him to Arkansas, where Vinegar met and married his wife Eliza. After they were freed from slavery at the end of the Civil War, Vinegar and his wife moved to Lawrence. Eliza Vinegar died of smallpox in 1873. The Vinegars never had much money, and were seen as outcasts by the majority of the citizens in town. That was the situation with the Vinegar family on that day in May when Bausman signaled Sis Vinegar outside the saloon. She stopped when she heard the signal and waited for him to come out. They began to discuss meeting later that day, where Bausman would exchange money for sexual favors. This was not the first time such an arrangement had taken place, and the two agreed to meet under the bridge down by the river after dark. The Kansas River, also known as the Kaw, formed the northern boundary of Lawrence, and was spanned by a bridge linking the town with the northern bank of the river. After leaving Bausman, Sis met with her boyfriend, a black man named George Robinson, and told him of her planned meeting. Robinson then met with his friend Isaac "Ike" King, also a black man. They devised a plan to rob Bausman while he was occupied with Sis Vinegar. They shared their plans with several friends including four neighborhood children. After dark that evening, Bausman and Sis Vinegar met under the bridge. He took his wallet out and laid it on the ground, and then proceeded with their liaison. Robinson and King snuck up on the couple. They were armed with a crowbar, a hickory stick, and a hammer they had taken from the Vinegar home. They intended to knock Bausman out, grab his wallet, and run off. One of the men hit Bausman, but instead of losing consciousness, he began to put up a struggle. The attackers began to beat him and he continued to fight back. Sis pleaded for them just to take the money and run, but the two did not listen. They continued to beat Bausman until he was dead. They took the money and threw the body into the river. The four children whom the killers had bragged to earlier were down by the riverbank and had seen everything. Five days later, on June 5th, three boys were going down to the river to fish. The boys were about to cast in their lines when one of them saw something in the water near the shore. It was a human hand sticking out of the water. The three ran to some nearby fishermen, one of whom stayed with the boys while the other went to the office of the Lawrence Journal, a local newspaper, to report the incident. The coroner was out of town, so Dr. Albert Fuller was called in his place. He supervised the removal of the body from the river, which was then taken to a local mortuary. The body was that of a white male, and it had numerous bruises and contusions and one finger nearly severed. He had suffered a severe blow to the back of the head and there were many gashes and cuts on his face and hands. It was assumed that he was the victim of murder. The body's clothing was searched for identification but none was found. Eventually, Amos Bausman, David Bausman's cousin, came to town, viewed the body, and identified it as his cousin, David Bausman. The town was soon in an uproar. An inquest was held the day after the body was recovered. A number of people testified, including several of the children who had witnessed the murder. Robinson and King were identified as the men who had committed the act, and Sis Vinegar was implicated in luring Bausman down to the river and trying to bribe some of the witnesses into silence. During the inquest, it was brought out that after the murder, the whole group including Sis, Robinson, King, and many of the witnesses had gone to Pete Vinegar's house, where Robinson and King had spent the night. The verdict of the inquest was that Sis had enticed David Bausman down to the river and that Robinson and King had murdered him there. Sis was put into jail. There was information that Robinson had fled to Independence, Missouri, so Sheriff Henry B. Asher and his two brothers left the next day to find him. They were able to locate and arrest him, bringing him back to town. When they arrived, they found a large crowd gathered around the jail. With Robinson locked up, the posse went in search of King. There was word that he was hiding in the Kaw Bottoms near Eudora, Kansas, a few miles east of Lawrence. An article appeared in the Lawrence Journal reporting that there was loud talk in the town of lynching all the people responsible for Bausman's death. Later that day, the posse found King, and he was arrested and brought back to the jail. He was hurried through a large angry crowd and put in a cell, joining Robinson, Sis Vinegar, and Pete Vinegar, who, although the coroner's jury had not indicted him, had also been arrested. A hearing was held on June 8th, presided over by the Honorable Justice Neill. The crammed courtroom heard testimony from all those involved, including the accused. Justice Neill ordered that Sis Vinegar, Robinson, and King be held in custody without bail on charges of robbery and first-degree murder. Pete Vinegar was not charged with the robbery and murder, but nevertheless remained in jail. By late in the evening of Friday, June 9th, trouble was brewing. Although there was a death penalty in Kansas, the Governor had recently been commuting all death sentences to life in prison. There was growing sentiment in town that because of this, a trial would not produce justice. Several reporters from the Lawrence Journal were on the street and heard talk of lynching. They met with the Sheriff and informed him of what they were hearing. They later reported that he did not think their concerns were valid. As time went on, the crowd in the street was becoming an angry mob. Many in the mob made efforts to hide their identity, wrapping scarves around their heads or smearing mud or ashes on their faces. The armed mob descended on the jail between 1:00 and 1:30 the morning of the 10th, bringing along four stout ropes. The Sheriff, his Undersheriff, and the jailer tried to defend the jail but were quickly overcome by the mob that broke into the jail. The mob decided not to take Sis Vinegar, leaving her crying in the cell, but took out Robinson, King, and Pete Vinegar. The three were dragged down to the Kaw River Bridge. As they went, each had a noose put around his neck. They were dragged to the center span of the bridge and the free ends of the ropes were tied to the bridge. Robinson was the first to be put over the railing, dropped to the end of the rope, and died instantly. Pete Vinegar protested that he was innocent, but was put over the railing anyway, also dropping to the end of his rope. When they came for King, he said, "Boys, let me down easy." In response, the mob slowly lowered him over the railing. Because he did not drop hard to the end of the rope as the other two men had, he did not die immediately, but instead strangled to death while hanging from the rope. The mob soon dispersed, leaving the men hanging there until the next day, when they were cut down and laid out in the jail yard. The morning after the lynchings, Richard Morris, the Douglas County coroner, convened an inquest. Twenty-six men testified at the inquest. Many of them identified men by name as having been in the lynch mob, but the inquest ended without anyone being indicted for the crimes. Time passed, and no one was ever brought to trial for the lynchings. The black citizens of Douglas County petitioned the legislature not to reappoint Sheriff Asher because he failed to protect Pete Vinegar, an innocent man, but Asher was reappointed anyway. Sis Vinegar was tried and convicted of the murder of Bausman. Her sentence was commuted to life in prison by the governor and she was sent to Lansing State Prison, where she contracted tuberculosis. John Waller, a black lawyer in Lawrence, worked to get her pardoned, arguing that she had begged Robinson and King not to kill Bausman. The prison warden responded to a letter from Waller that Sis was very bad off, and was being well cared for where she was. He wrote that unless she had friends on the outside that could and would care for her, she would be better off staying in prison. Waller reluctantly agreed, and so Sis Vinegar died in prison soon after at the age of 21. The irony of this whole incident is that Lawrence was founded in 1854 as a Free-State town, in opposition to Kansas being admitted to the Union as a slave state. It went through many trials in its early years because of its adherence to the anti-slavery cause. Because of this, to many during and after the war it was seen as a haven for black people seeking freedom and a better life. As the lynchings of 1882 show, that was not necessarily the truth. (From: Boys, Let Me Down Easy, by Cindy Schott and Kathy Schott Gates, 2005. Published 6/10.)  Back to top of page

July 25, 1859 - Dr. John Doy returns to Lawrence, Kansas, after having been broken out of jail in St. Joseph, Missouri - Dr. John Doy was born in England and educated as a homeopathic doctor there. He came to the United States in 1846 and settled in Rochester, New York. He arrived in Kansas Territory in the summer of 1854 as a member of the party that founded the town of Lawrence, Kansas. He had come to Kansas to work for the territory being admitted to the Union as a state that did not allow slavery. He staked a claim on 160 acres of land about a mile and a half northwest of the town site. By the time his wife Jane and nine children arrived in October, he had built a log house and was well on his way towards developing a fine farm. In 1855, a man who favored Kansas being admitted to the Union as a slave state tried to jump Doy's claim, and he had to mortgage his farm to raise the funds to fight for clear title to the land. His farm was well suited for livestock, and by the spring of 1856, he had a herd of breeding horses and a large number of cattle. On the night of May 21, 1856, after a large group of proslavery men had sacked and burned Lawrence, the headquarters of the Free-State movement in Kansas, men came to Doy's farm, stole all his livestock, and trampled his corn and wheat fields, destroying the crops. The next day twenty-eight men showed up and demanded to know if he was an abolitionist. He replied, "of course," so they broke into his house and cleaned it out. Many Free-State men, including Doy, formed into militias to defend themselves and their families against the proslavery men. He and his militia were among the forces led by the abolitionist John Brown when the severely outnumbered Free-State defenders were driven out of the town of Osawatomie on August 30, 1856, during the Battle of Osawatomie. Because of the constant pressure and raids from proslavery men, Doy was unable to provide his family with enough food to eat. Two of his sons died from disease brought on by poor diet. Despite all this, he and his family stayed, determined to make Kansas free. They survived, and relative peace resumed. Doy went about rebuilding what had been destroyed, going back to practicing medicine and trying to put his farm back in order. By the Fall of 1858, other trouble was brewing. A gang of men in the area made several attempts to kidnap black people living in and around Lawrence, with the intention of selling them into slavery in Missouri. By the first of the year, these attempts had increased, with several having been successful. A meeting was held in town to decide what to do about this. It was concluded that there was no way to insure the safety of black people in Lawrence, so the decision was made to transport them to safety in Iowa. Money was raised to accomplish this, and Doy was recruited to convey the people to Holton, Kansas, approximately 60 miles northwest of Lawrence, on the first leg of their journey to Iowa. Orginally, Doy and his party were to accompany a party of freed slaves being transported north by John Brown. John Brown had freed the slaves in a raid on Vernon County, Missouri, the previous month. At the last minute, Brown decided to proceed independently, and instead of leaving with Doy, hid the fugitives in the barn of Joel and Emily Grover near Lawrence. Early on January 25, 1859, Doy, Doy's son Charles, and another Free-State man named Clough set out alone with three wagons carrying eight men, three women, and two children. All but two of the adult passengers had shown Charles Doy papers proving they were free men and women, but having free papers would not matter if they were caught by proslavers. The party had gone about twelve miles when a group of at least twenty armed horsemen rode out from behind a bluff and ordered the wagons to halt. They forced Doy and the others to surrender, bound the black people, and took them all off towards Missouri. They first went to Leavenworth, Kansas, and early the next morning crossed the Missouri River on a ferry. They went on to Weston, Missouri, which was on the other side of the river. They were met in town by a howling mob, which pushed, mauled, struck, and insulted the helpless captives. Doy, Charles, and Clough were taken in front of the Justice of the Peace. He decided that Clough had been on the trip only as a hired hand and released him. Doy and his son were committed to the Platte County, Missouri, jail to stand trial on the charge of abducting slaves. Clough made it safely back to Lawrence and informed the citizens as to what had happened. Doy and his son were taken to Platte City, the county seat of Platte County, Missouri, and put into jail on January 28. Their cell was an eight foot by eight foot by seven foot high solid metal box, the only opening in it being a grated metal door. The cell was bare except for a Bible and an iron bucket with a broken lid, which, as it turned out, went for weeks without being emptied. All the black men and women who had been captured with the Doys were taken off and sold into slavery, after several had been viciously beaten within earshot of the two men. The Doys were frequently deprived of water and were given no change of clothing. On February 18, Doy's wife and daughter arrived, bringing them fresh clothing and some candles. On March 19, the two men were brought out of the cell for the first time since they were locked up on January 28, and taken to the Court House to meet the Grand Jury. Doy could hardly walk, his ankles painfully swollen due to forced inactivity. He was so dazzled by the sun, having been living in nearly complete darkness for two months, that he ran into a door post. Trial was set for the next day. Doy and his lawyer decided to try for a change of venue to St. Joseph, the county seat of Buchanan County, Missouri, which the judge granted, much to the chagrin of the local inhabitants. The Doys were transported to St. Joseph, a town on the east bank of the Missouri River about 30 miles north of Platte City, on March 24. Doy and his son were put on trial, but after much oratory from the two councils, the jury failed to convict the two. The prosecution decided not to retry Doy's son Charles, and he was released. Doy was held on a $5000 bond for trial during the next term of the court, which was scheduled to begin on June 20. No one in Missouri would put up his bail, so he was returned to jail. Thought he was treated much better in the Buchanan County jail than he had been in Platte City, Doy was very ill during most of his incarceration there. His second trial began on June 21, and he was found guilty on one count of slave stealing. He was sentenced to five years at hard labor in the penitentiary, but his lawyer asked for an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court, which was granted. Doy learned that the prosecution had twelve other indictments ready to file against him, one for each of the black men, women, and children captured with him. He was remanded to jail for thirty days, supposedly waiting on word of his appeal. Doy languished in jail waiting for word from the court, which never came. By Saturday, July 23, his time was getting short. He was scheduled to be put on a steamboat on July 25 to be taken to the state prison in Jefferson City. On that Saturday, he was looking out the window of his cell when he recognized three men out in the street. One of them looked up towards Doy and made a secret sign known to Free-Staters. He turned to his fellow prisoners and said that he had seen angles walking about, and began bundling up his clothes. On towards dark, a young man escorted by the jailer was allowed in the cell. The young man said that he had seen Doy's wife and daughter recently and that they were coming to see him soon. While the young man was distracting the jailer, he slipped Doy a note. After they had left and the cell had been relocked, he read the note. It read, "Be ready by midnight." Around 9:00 pm, a storm broke out, and rain poured down outside. Around midnight, with the rain still coming down in torrents, there was a loud knocking at the outside door. The jailer asked who was there, and a man answered, saying that he and his company were from out of town and had a horse thief they had captured that they wanted to put in the jail for safekeeping. After some discussion, the jailer let in four men, including the "horse thief." He brought them to Doy's cell and opened the cell door. When the door opened, one of the four pointed a revolver at the jailer and announced that they were there to free Doy. As they began to leave, the other prisoners in the cell moved towards the door, intending to escape. One of the rescuers told the jailer that they were there to right an injustice, not to interfere with justice, and helped him relock the door on them. Doy had been so weakened by his incarceration that he could hardly walk, so two men supported him as they made their way through the streets of St. Joseph, pelted by the driving rain. They were joined by six others, including Doy's son Charles, who had been on guard outside the jail, and headed towards the river. It was so dark that the party had trouble finding their boats, until two policemen, who did not know there had been a jailbreak, came over to investigate such a large crowd. By the light of the policemen's lanterns, they were able to see their boats. The policemen left them alone, and the men got in their boats and shoved off. They rowed across the river to Kansas, landed, and then moved off through the stormy night. They traveled twelve miles before taking time to stop for breakfast. About 3:00 pm, four of the rescuers fell back to see about a party of men who had been pursuing the group. The pursuers eventually gave up and did not trouble the group, who continued on until midnight before stopping. They started out again early the next morning, and arrived safely in Lawrence at 5:00 pm, after having been on the road for forty-four hours and traveling ninety miles. Doy, crippled and diseased from ill use and long imprisonment, was reunited with his family. A photograph was taken of Doy and his rescuers, who came to be know as the "Immortal Ten". Doy spent the next two months writing an account of his adventures. No legal action was made to return him or any of his rescuers to Missouri, however, his son Charles was killed in late 1859 or early 1860. Doy's account was published in 1860 under the title The Narrative of John Doy, of Lawrence, Kansas: a Plain, Unvarnished Tale, and he went on a book signing tour back east to promote it. He soon moved his family to Battle Creek, Michigan, where he began practicing homeopathic medicine again. In 1869, Doy was accused of procuring an abortion and was put on trial in Marshall, Michigan. He was reported to have said that if convicted, he would never be sent to prison. On June 5, 1869, he was found guilty. That evening he was found unconscious in his cell. Physicians were called and managed to revive him. It was discovered that he had taken a large dose of morphine. At 9:00 the next morning, he again managed to take a large dose of morphine. He remained unconscious for the next few days and died on Tuesday, June 8, 1869. How he managed to get the drug was unknown. Apparently, his experiences in the Missouri jails had made him determined not to go to prison. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek. His wife, Jane, died in 1888. (From: History of Homeopathy and Its Institutions in America, by William Harvey King, Lewis Publishing Co., New York, 1905, Chapter XXXIX; The Narrative of John Doy, of Lawrence, Kansas: a Plain, Unvarnished Tale, by John Doy, Thomas Holman, New York, 1860; and, The Attempted Suicide of Dr. John Doy, New York Times, June 10, 1869. Published 7/10.)  Back to top of page

August 27, 1855 - Sam Jones appointed as the first sheriff of Douglas County, Kansas - Samuel J. Jones was born in Virginia in 1828(1). Along with his wife and two young children, he moved to Westport, Missouri, in the fall of 1854. He was soon appointed postmaster of the town, and became involved in local politics, which at that time was dominated by the issue of whether the newly created Kansas Territory would enter the Union as a state that allowed slavery. Jones was a strong supporter of slavery, and the struggle over the future of Kansas may have been the reason he brought his family west. During the election for the first Kansas territorial legislature on March 30, 1855, Jones led a party of proslavery Missourians into the territory and took over the polling station at Bloomington. He destroyed the ballot box to prevent the votes of Free-State men from being counted in the election. Thousands of Missourians had come into the territory specifically to influence the voting, and the result was the election of a proslavery legislature, know to Free-Staters as the "Bogus Legislature." Jones' raid into Kansas caught the eye of Acting Territorial Governor Daniel Woodson, a fellow Virginian and supporter of slavery, who appointed Jones as the first sheriff of Douglas County, Kansas Territory, on August 27, 1855. The Territorial Legislature intended for Lecompton to be the capital of Kansas when it was admitted to the Union, and set about having a capitol building constructed. The United States Congress authorized $50,000 for construction of the capital, and Sheriff Jones became one of the contractors on the project. On November 21, 1855, a proslavery man named Franklin Coleman shot and killed Charles Dow, his Free-State neighbor, over a land dispute. The killing took place at Hickory Point, a small settlement in Douglas County about ten miles south of Lawrence, Kansas. Coleman fled to Westport, Missouri, and Free-State friends of Dow complained that Sheriff Jones made no effort to capture the killer. Jacob Branson, a Free-State supporter and friend of the murdered man, made comments about Coleman that prompted a friend of Coleman to swear out a warrant against Branson. On the night of November 26, Sheriff Jones took some fifteen men and went to Branson’s house to arrest him, which they proceeded to do. Some of Branson's neighbors got word of this, banded together, and confronted Sheriff Jones and his posse at about 1:00 AM. After a tense standoff lasting over an hour, Sheriff Jones released Branson to the Free-State men. Branson was taken to Lawrence, the headquarters of the Free-State movement in the territory, for safekeeping. Sheriff Jones issued a call for help to recapture Branson, and a force totaling around 1,500 Missourians came into Kansas and besieged Lawrence. The townspeople mobilized for defense, erecting a number of crude forts to repel any attacks made by the proslavery men. Another standoff developed, which lasted for about a week. A peace treaty was negotiated and signed in early December, ending the incident that came to be known as the Wakarusa War. The Missourians disbanded and went home. On April 19 and again on April 20, 1856, Sheriff Jones tried to arrest Samuel N. Wood, an active Free-State supporter who had participated in both the rescue of Jacob Branson and in the defense of Lawrence during the Wakarusa War. On both occasions, he was prevented from doing so by Wood's friends in Lawrence. On the afternoon of the 23rd, Sheriff Jones returned to Lawrence, accompanied by ten soldiers, and took six men, not including Wood, into custody. That evening, Sheriff Jones retired to his tent, pitched near the building housing the prisoners. His shadow was cast on the tent by light from the lamp inside, so his form was plainly visible from the outside. Someone out in the dark took advantage of this and shot Sheriff Jones in the back, hitting him between the right shoulder and the spine. He fell, saying, "I am shot!" Although badly wounded, he received medical treatment and survived. A reward of $500 was offered for the arrest of the shooter, but no one was every identified. Jones was sufficiently recovered by May 21, 1856, to accompany a large force of proslavery men under the command of United States Marshal Israel B. Donaldson when they invaded Lawrence to serve warrants on several Free-State supporters. After Donaldson had completed his mission, Sheriff Jones took command of the proslavery men and proceeded to sack and burn the town. Under his orders, they burned the Free State Hotel, headquarters of the New England Emigrant Aid Company, an organization bringing Free-State settlers to Kansas. They also destroyed the offices and printing presses of the two Free-State newspapers in town. For the rest of 1856, Sheriff Jones enforced the laws of the Territorial Legislature, causing much hardship and anguish on Free-State settlers. At the end of the year, Sheriff Jones became involved in a dispute with then Territorial Governor John Geary. He wanted to be provided with balls and chains to restrain some Free-State prisoners he had jailed in Lecompton. Governor Geary refused to allow him to use the devices. In protest, Jones resigned as Sheriff of Douglas County on January 7, 1857. After his resignation, Jones left Kansas, moving to New Mexico Territory. In September 1858, he accepted an appointment as collector of customs at El Paso del Norte, and eventually purchased a ranch near La Mesilla, New Mexico Territory. William A. Phillips, an old Free-Stater who knew Jones from their time in Kansas, visited him there in the summer of 1879. Phillips reported that he found Jones to be suffering from the effects of a stroke that affected his speech. Jones died sometime after June 6, 1880(2), probably in New Mexico Territory.

(1) Contemporary accounts indicate that Samuel J. Jones was born around 1820, but newly discovered evidence points to this being incorrect and that he was a younger man than was thought at the time. The 1860 Unites States Census for Las Cruces, New Mexico Territory, enumerated on July 30, 1860, lists a Samuel J. Jones, 32, born in Virginia, whose occupation was listed as "Collector of Port" and whose wife was named Mary C. Jones. The 1870 US Census for La Mesilla, New Mexico Territory, enumerated on September 6, 1870, lists a Samuel J. Jones, 43, as a farmer whose wife was named Mary C. Jones. The 1880 US Census for La Mesilla, enumerated on June 6, 1880, lists a Samuel J. Jones, 52, as a retired merchant suffering from partial paralysis, whose wife was named Mary C. Jones. There is only one man named Samuel J. Jones listed in each of the 1860 and 1870 census for the area of the New Mexico Territory where he was reputed to have settled. The only other Samuel J. Jones listed in the 1880 census is 14 years old. Because the ages, state of birth, and wife's name all correspond exactly, it is apparent that all three of these census listings are for the same man. The Samuel J. Jones from Kansas was known to have been born in Virginia, as is the man in the census records. Jones was known to have been collector of customs at El Paso del Norte after he left Kansas. The Jones in the 1860 census was "Collector of Port," which is another name for collector of customs. Las Cruces is only about 40 miles from El Paso. William A. Phillips reported that the Jones he had known from Kansas was a victim of a stroke when he visited him in La Mesilla, New Mexico Territory, in 1879. The Jones in the 1880 New Mexico census lived in La Mesilla, and was suffering from partial paralysis, which can result from a stroke. Considering all this, the circumstantial evidence points to the man listed in the 1860, 1870, and 1880 New Mexico census records being the same Samuel J. Jones who was Sheriff of Douglas County from 1855 to 1857. By comparing the enumeration dates of the three census records with his recorded ages in the census records, it appears that Jones was born sometime after July 30 and on or before September 9, 1828, and not around 1820.

(2) The 1880 United States Census for La Mesilla, New Mexico Territory, that lists Samuel J. Jones, was enumerated on June 6, 1880. Since he had to be alive to be counted in the census, he did not die until after that date.

(From: Samuel J. Jones (Sheriff), ca.1820-ca.1880, Territorial Kansas Online; Samuel J. Jones, The Civil War Muse; Samuel J. Jones (1820-1880), Legends of Kansas; Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc., Standard Publishing Co, Chicago, 1912, v. 1 and v. 2; Samuel N. Wood, Kansas Bogus Legislature; Letter, [unknown] to Hiram Hill, April 30, 1856, Kansas State Historical Society; Chapter 14, Kansas: Its Interior and Exterior Life, by Sara Robinson, Crosby, Nichols and Company, Boston, 1856; and, William A. Phillips, 1824-1893, Territorial Kansas Online. Published 8/10.)  Back to top of page

September 24, 1855 - Douglas County, Kansas Territory, is organized - With the signing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act by President Franklin Pearce on May 30, 1854, the Territory of Kansas was created and opened for white settlement. One of the provisions of the Act was Popular Sovereignty, in which residents of the territory would be able to vote on whether or not the territory would come into the Union as a state that allowed slavery. This had the effect of repealing the restriction on new slave states being formed north of the southern boundary of Missouri, which had been the law of the land since its inclusion as part of the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Kansas would be the first territory where the decision on slavery would be left up to a vote of the people in the territory. Many Free-State and proslavery partisans came to the territory, and their interaction quickly led to violent disputes in what became known as "Bleeding Kansas." March 30, 1855, was the date of the election to pick representatives for the first territorial legislature. On Election Day, thousands of proslavery Missourians came over the border into Kansas, took over polling stations, cast ballots for proslavery candidates, kept Free-State men from voting, and went home to Missouri after the ballots had been counted. The result was a territorial legislature comprised almost entirely of proslavery men. Because of the way it was elected, Free-Staters referred to the legislature as the "Bogus Legislature" and refused to acknowledge its authority. Territorial Governor Andrew Reeder had an economic interest in the town of Pawnee, a small settlement near Fort Riley about 120 miles from the Missouri border, and chose the town to be the capital of the Territory. Work was begun on a capitol building there, and on July 2, 1855, the legislature convened in Pawnee. The proslavery legislators felt that having the capital that far from Missouri gave an advantage to the Free-State cause in Kansas, so they proceeded to vote to move the capital to one of the buildings at the Shawnee Methodist Mission, which was just inside Kansas along the Missouri border. The Governor vetoed the bill, but the Legislature overrode his veto, adjourned the session on July 6, 1855, and abandoned Pawnee. They reconvened at the Shawnee Mission on July 16, 1855, and proceeded to enact laws favorable to the cause of slavery in Kansas. Among the laws they enacted were: Printing or publishing any book, pamphlet, etc. calculated to produce "dangerous disaffection" among slaves was punishable by five years at hard labor; Speaking or writing that "persons have not the right to hold slaves in this Territory" was punishable by two years at hard labor; Every officer, elected or appointed, and every attorney, was required to swear an oath to support the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Fugitive Slave Law; Any person opposed to slavery was disqualified from being a juror; Homicide when committed while correcting a slave was excusable; Cohabitation of a slave with a white woman was punishable by castration; Petit larceny and misdemeanors committed by slaves was punishable by whipping; Habeas corpus was disallowed for slaves charged with crimes; and, Wearing balls and chains was mandatory for all prisoners serving hard labor sentences. The Legislature also found time to begin the process of organizing 33 counties in the territory. One of the counties approved to be organized was Douglas County, named for Stephen A. Douglas, Senator from Illinois, and author of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Lecompton, the headquarters of the proslavery movement in the territory, was chosen to be county seat. Douglas County was officially organized on September 24, 1855, and, in accordance with a proclamation by Sam Jones, who had been appointed as Sheriff the previous month by Acting Territorial Governor Daniel Woodson in agreement with the Territorial Legislature, the first Commissioners Court was held in Lecompton that day. The Commissioners were Dr. John N. O. P. Wood, Chairman and ex officio Probate Judge, John M. Banks, and George W. Johnston. James Christian was Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners and Hugh Cameron was County Treasurer. The municipal townships of the county were named Lecompton, Lawrence, Franklin, Washington, and Louisiana. On January 27, 1856, the townships were restructured into Lecompton, Calhoun, Washington, and Wakarusa. In Late 1857, the Territorial Legislature moved the county seat from Lecompton to Lawrence, the headquarters of the Free-State movement in the Territory. In 1858, the townships were again restructured into Lecompton, Lawrence, Eudora, Palmyra, Willow Springs, Marion, and Clinton. By the time Kanawaka Township was added in 1859, the anti-slavery cause had won out in Kansas, all proslavery laws having been repealed, and the Territory was destined to enter the Union on January 29, 1861, as a Free-State. In 1867, the county achieved its modern configuration when Grant Township was formed out of part of Sarcoxie Township in Jefferson County and added to Douglas County. (From: Pawnee, Kansas, on Wikipedia.org; Slavery, on KansasBogusLegislature.org; Douglas County, Kansas, on Kansas State Historical Society website; and, William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, Douglas County, Part 3, County Organization and Official Roster. Published 9/10.)  Back to top of page

October 16, 1909 - Bank robber Earl Ross Bullock becomes a murderer - On the night of October 8, 1909, someone broke out the front window of Albert Noller's second-hand store and pawnshop on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, Kansas, and stole two revolvers. Several days later, police received information that Earl Ross Bullock, known as Ross to his intimates, had be seen showing off two revolvers that he said had been given to him. His age was variously reported as 17 or 18 years old, and he was described as "a rather good looking young man." Police became suspicious that Bullock was the culprit in the Noller theft and began looking for him. T. Wilson Pringle, a 41 year-old Lawrence police officer, visited the home of Ed Dockson at 1201 Haskell Avenue, where Bullock was known to have been rooming at the time, to see if he was there. Pringle was unsuccessful. Douglas County, Kansas, Deputy Sheriff E.F. Woods got word that Bullock might be going to Eudora, Kansas, a small town approximately seven miles southeast of Lawrence, and took a train there on the afternoon of October 11, 1909. Deputy Woods walked around town trying to pick up information on Bullock. About 4:00 pm, he stepped into the State Bank of Eudora to see a friend of his, the bank's Cashier, Edward A. Wilson. To Woods' surprise, Bullock was sitting in a chair in the bank. He told the young man that he was there to arrest him for robbing the store in Lawrence. Bullock said that there must have been some mistake, and that his boss, who was expected to be in the bank that afternoon, would be able to clear things up. Woods said that he would wait a while, and the three men, Woods, Wilson, and Bullock sat around and chatted. As the time for the train back to Lawrence approached, Woods decided not to wait any longer and moved to take Bullock into custody. He stood up, and when he looked at Bullock, the young man was pointing two revolvers at him. Bullock forced the Deputy and the Cashier into the bank vault at gunpoint and locked them in. He picked up all the loose cash he could find, at least $800 worth, and left, closing the front door behind him. He went to the station and took the train back to Lawrence. Woods and Wilson yelled for help for about two hours before they were heard and someone was summoned to open the vault door. Upon leaving the confines of the vault, the Deputy realized that Bullock had taken money, and telephoned to the Sheriff's Office in Lawrence with a report on the bank robbery. The news from Eudora was quickly followed by more serious news from Haskell Avenue. When Bullock had arrived back in Lawrence, he called a taxi, and had the driver take him to a local store to buy some clothes. He then had the driver take him to Ed Dockson's house. Officer Pringle, who had earlier come to the house at 1201 Haskell Avenue looking for Bullock, was visiting next door, accompanied by his wife and three grown children. Pringle, who was off duty at the time, saw the taxi pull up and Bullock get out. Bullock went inside the house and Pringle went up to the taxi driver and asked him if he knew who the boy was that had just gotten out of the cab When the driver said, "No," Pringle was quoted as saying "He is the fellow I have been looking for." Pringle, who had not heard of the bank robbery in Eudora and was intending to question Bullock about the store robbery, headed for the back door. Someone was heard to yell, "Run! Run!" Bullock started for the back door, saw Pringle, and ran back through the house towards the front. Pringle saw this and ran around to the front of the house. When Pringle rounded the corner, Bullock was on the front porch. He immediately fired a revolver at Pringle, hitting him in the neck, the bullet lodging near the spinal cord. He collapsed, being seriously wounded. Horrified neighbors ran over to the fallen officer. The taxi driver reported that Bullock stood and looked at the fallen man for nearly half a minute, and then walked over to the cab. He tossed the driver a dollar, saying, "Here's your pay cabby," and made his unhurried get-away through a nearby pasture. Officer Pringle was conscious and able to talk. He said, "I thought he was just a kid. He took a drop on me and fired before I knew what he was about. He was just a kid." Officer Pringle was eventually taken by ambulance in grave condition to the hospital that Dr. Charles J. Simmons ran at 805 Ohio Street in Lawrence. Police officers notified farmers in the area to be on the lookout for Bullock, to watch every road, and to shoot him on sight. The next day, October 12th, a man who said he knew Bullock from having worked with him, told police that he saw the fugitive come out of a cornfield and walk in the direction of the Santa Fe Railroad line that went to Ottawa, Kansas. On the morning of the 13th, a report came in that Willie McKay, a 15 year-old friend of Bullock's, had been seen carrying food into a cornfield. When questioned, McKay denied having done so. Numerous other possible sightings were reported. City Marshall Sidney E. Herd, Deputy Woods, and other officers were kept busy checking leads that went nowhere. There was speculation that Bullock saw himself as a desperado, and had been influenced to commit these crimes by reading too many "Diamond Dick" stories in dime novels, the popular genre that many at the time believed to be destroying the morals of the county's youth. It was discovered that Bullock had previously been arrested in Kansas City for a petty crime, and had walked away from his parole. People began talking about the possibility that Bullock had been responsible for the burglary of Weavers Dry Goods Store in Lawrence a month earlier. The October 14, 1909, issue of the Lawrence Daily World reported that a young man fitting the description of Earl Bullock had been arrested in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and that officers there believed they had the man being sought in Douglas County. Douglas County Sheriff William H. Banning was reported as awaiting more word with great interest, but did not think that they had the right man. News reported in the newspaper the following day confirmed the Sheriff's doubts, as the man arrested in Oklahoma was determined not to be Bullock. More reports of local sightings had come in, including one that morning. Bullocks' father visited Lawrence, and was "completely broken up over his son's deeds and said he could give no explanation whatever as to what sent him to the bad." After learning the details of the crimes, he left town brokenhearted and returned to Sedalia, Missouri, where he had work picking apples. Bullock's mother was reported to have trouble thinking that her boy was a murderer. She blamed his actions on a local girl named Amie Blankenship, who when questioned, admitted that she and Bullock had been sweethearts, and that she had turned down a marriage proposal from him in mid July, but that there was nothing in their relationship that would excite him to life as a bandit. Young men who had known him when he was a boy reported that Bullock would take an air rifle and shoot neighborhood children with it. Lawrence Mayor Sam Bishop visited Officer Pringle in the hospital, and found him worried about the future of his family. The Mayor promised that the City would see to it that his wife and children were "properly taken care of." On October 16th, Bullock became a murderer when Officer Pringle died of his wounds. The City Council voted to give the officer's family his full salary for the month, and to pay all the hospital and funeral expenses. A collection was being taken up in the community for the Pringle family. The newspaper reported that rewards were being set up for the capture of the fugitive. Officer Pringle was buried on Sunday the 17th. On the 18th, a corn knife was found in a field east of town bearing the inscription, "I am the desperado--Ross Bullock." By the 19th, a reward of $650 was being offered for the capture of the fugitive. The month of October ended with Bullock still at large and authorities having no solid information on his whereabouts. (From: Lawrence Daily World, v. 18, issue 200 (October 12, 1909), issue 201 (October 13, 1909), issue 202 (October 14, 1909), issue 203 (October 15, 1909), issue 204 (October 16, 1909), issue 205 (October 18, 1909), and issue 206 (October 19, 1909), Lawrence, Kansas; Lawrence Historic Resources Commission, Item No. 3: L-08-01-07, Staff Report; and, the United States Census, 1910, Douglas County, Kansas. Published 10/10.)  Back to top of page

November 13, 1909 - Earl Ross Bullock's crime spree comes to an end - On October 11, 1909, Earl Ross Bullock robbed the State Bank of Eudora in Eudora, Kansas, of around $800, and later that evening shot and mortally wounded Lawrence, Kansas, Police officer T. Wilson Pringle, who was trying to apprehend Bullock for an earlier burglary of a second-hand store and pawnshop in Lawrence. At the time, authorities had no solid evidence on the activities and whereabouts of the bank robber and murderer, but were later able to piece together his subsequent movements. Bullock made his escape from the area, presumably by train, and began going by the alias of James Donaldson. He eventually worked his way down to Jacksonville, Florida. He was spending the loot he had stolen from the bank in Eudora, making a number of purchases including two expensive diamond rings. He was also making arrangements to buy a boat. Somewhere around November 1, 1909, he met and befriended a 14-year-old native of Jacksonville named William "Willie" McKay. Bullock, himself being barely 18 years of age, told Willie McKay that he was from New York and that his parents were both dead, all of which was untrue. He said that they had both died of grief because he had robbed a dry goods store when he was a little boy, which was also untrue, his crimes being much more recent than that. The two began to hang out with each other, on one occasion taking a boat up a river to an orange grove where Bullock practiced shooing pistols. One day, Bullock told McKay that his name was not really Donaldson, but that he would not tell the boy his real name because there was a reward out for him. He told McKay that he knew of a place near Kansas City where they could get some easy money, a bank where only one man worked. He asked McKay to go along with him, offering to pay his fare. Although Bullock refused to tell McKay exactly where they would be going, the boy agreed to accompany the fugitive. They first made their way to Montgomery, Alabama. On November 8, they took a train from Montgomery to Memphis, Tennessee, where Bullock pawned one of his rings. The next day, November 9, Willie McKay's 15th birthday, they left Memphis on a train bound for Kansas City, arriving there the morning of Wednesday, November 10. They spent the day hanging around the freight yards and then caught the evening Union Pacific train approximately twelve miles southwest to Bonner Spring, Kansas, where they spent the night in a hotel. They got up the next morning and walked to Linwood, Kansas, nine miles southwest of Bonner Springs, arriving there around 5:00pm. They got something to eat, and then took the evening train to Lenape, Kansas, about eight miles east of Linwood, again spending the night in a hotel. They got up the morning of Thursday, November 12, and took the train back to Linwood, arriving around 1:00pm. They ate, and then began walking towards Eudora, covering the seven-mile distance in around two hours. They arrived in Eudora around 3:00pm, and immediately went to the State Bank of Eudora, the same bank Bullock had robbed just a month earlier on October 11. McKay was carrying two .38 caliber revolvers. Bullock was armed with two more revolvers. When the two young men entered the bank, there were three men inside, Edward A. Wilson, the bank's cashier who, along with Deputy Sheriff E.F. Woods, had been locked in the vault during the previous month's robbery, Harry Wilson, the cashier's sixteen year-old son, who was working the teller window, and Fred Starr, a twenty year-old assistant cashier at the Kaw Valley State Bank in Eudora, who was there to clear the day's transactions between the two banks. As he entered the bank, Bullock shouted, "Throw up your hands!" The two Wilsons did not react. They thought it was just another jester making what by that time had become a tired old joke. Edward Wilson said later that "I had got so sick of having the old gag sprang[sp] on me after the robbery that I paid no attention to it." Starr saw Bullock and McKay's guns, and put his hands up immediately saying, "Why certainly I will." Without provocation, Bullock fired one of the revolvers, hitting Starr in the jaw. The wounded man staggered over against a wall and then fell to the floor, bleeding profusely. When the shot rang out, the two Wilsons realized that this was no joke and both raised their hands. McKay was shocked. They had earlier discussed just forcing whoever was in the bank into the vault, locking them in as Bullock had done the previous month, taking the money, and escaping. There was a passenger train due in town shortly, and they were to get on it and leave town before the alarm could be sounded. Bullock's shooting of Starr changed all that. After firing the shot, Bullock told McKay to guard the front door and to shoot anyone who tried to come in. With McKay standing by the front door, Bullock went into the open vault. He came out after several minutes and went over to the cash drawers, emptying their contents into his coat pockets. After he had cleaned out the drawers, he asked Harry Wilson where the back door key was. Wilson told him that the door was unlocked. Bullock opened the back door and broke through the screen door to get outside. McKay followed as Bullock ran towards the Wakarusa River at the north end of town. Avoiding the bridge, they initially tried to swim the river, but were unable to make it across. They fled on foot southwest from town along the south side of the river. As soon as the two bandits left through the bank's back door, Harry Wilson ran out the front and into Charles Pilla's dry goods store next door. In addition to being the owner of the store, Pilla was the president of the bank that had just been robbed for the second time in a month. Harry dashed in the front door, shouting "The bank's robbed! Ross Bullock has shot Fred Starr!" There was a sale going on and the store was crowded, and after a momentary pause, all the men in the store grabbed shotguns, revolvers, and whatever other weapons they could lay their hands on and went off in pursuit of the fleeing bandits. The two telephone companies in town connected to every phone on their lines asking townspeople and farmers to arm themselves and help hunt down the bank robbers. Men poured out of town to help in the pursuit. About three-quarters of a mile from town on the farm of Al Smith, a band of about ten or twelve men caught up to the fugitives. The men began shooting at Bullock and McKay. McKay was terrified and told Bullock that he was going to surrender. Bullock said "Give me the guns and stand right there." He took the two revolvers that McKay had been carrying and ran off, saying "I won't give up, I'll die first," as he left. McKay put his hands high up over his head and shouted "I surrender, I surrender, don't shoot, please don't shoot." The pursuing men took McKay into custody and continued after Bullock. Bullock turned and fired six shots at Clyde Hughes, who was at the head of the men, but missed every time. The gunfire momentarily stopped the pursuit, and Bullock ran on. He entered a small patch of woods near the river and the pursuers lost sight of him. Bullock saw John Miller on the opposite bank and fired twice at him. Miller had crossed the river and was trying to get downstream and head Bullock off when he was seen and fired upon by the gunman. Bullock's aim was poor, and Miller managed to dodge behind a tree and was not hit. Miller said that Bullock was standing beside a large log when the fugitive fired at him, and that after firing the two shots, Bullock had stepped behind the log. Miller heard a single shot. He thought that Bullock had shot himself. A minute later, the men pursuing the young desperado came up and discovered that Miller had guessed right. Bullock was lying on the ground in his shirtsleeves, breathing heavily. The whole right side of his head was blackened with gunpowder, and he was bleeding from a bullet hole in his right temple. His coat was found about 150 yards from where he lay, the pockets stuffed with money taken in the bank robbery that afternoon. One man was left to guard Bullock while the rest of the men dealt with McKay. The boy was extremely frightened as the angry men took him back to Eudora. The town was in an uproar, full of more angry armed men. At least forty farmers had ridden into town on horseback carrying their shotguns, adding their numbers to the aroused citizens of Eudora. As McKay was brought into town, someone shouted, "Lynch him, string him up, string him up!" A general cry to hang McKay went up, and the crowd moved towards the frightened boy. Three men, Steve Joy, Dug Smith, and Frank Williams took McKay and ran with him out of town on the road to Lawrence, seven long miles away. The angry crowd followed, but at some distance behind. As the four ran along the road, they saw a large car approaching them at a high rate of speed. The men blocked the road, waving and yelling for the car to stop. As it slowed to a stop, McKay broke away from his guards and ran up to the car, pleading "Let me in, for God's sake take me somewhere. They are going to kill me. They are going to lynch me. For God's sake do something." As it turned out, the car was coming from Lawrence where it had been hired by the Lawrence Daily World to get its reporters to Eudora to cover the bank robbery. When the car stopped, Steve Joy pulled the reporters out of the car bodily and threw McKay into the back seat. Joy and the other two guards jumped in next to him. The driver backed around and sped off toward Lawrence and safety. The pursuing crowd, cheated of its chance for vengeance on McKay, turned its attention to Bullock, who had been taken to the Eudora City Hall. He was lying on a cot in the building that was eventually surrounded by hundreds of people, eager to be allowed in to see the dying bandit. As the authorities were waiting for an ambulance to arrive from Lawrence to take Bullock back to the larger town, a line of people moved through the building to view the injured man. He was finally put in an open wagon, covered by an oil cloth, and driven in the pouring rain to the office of Doctor Edmund R. Keith in Lawrence, arriving about 10:00pm. Despite the rain, there was a large crowd surrounding the building where Doctor Keith's office was located. The Lawrence Daily World reported that while Bullock lay dying, a small boy was standing outside the newspaper's office, denying that he was in jail or had taken part in the Eudora bank robbery. In a strange coincidence, his name was also Willie McKay. Know as "Pug," he had been a friend of Bullock's before the first bank robbery, and had at one time been under suspicion of having brought food to the fugitive in the days following the shooting of Officer Pringle. At 2:25am on November 13, 1909, without ever gaining consciousness, Earl Ross Bullock was pronounced dead, thus ending his short but violent career as a desperado. Bullock's body was taken on the evening Santa Fe train to Kansas City, where there was a secret funeral and interment at a cemetery there. As his mother had done after the robbery and murder the month before, Bullock's father blamed his son's descent into crime on Amie Blankenship, a local woman. He said all the trouble had been caused by her having broken off her engagement to his son earlier in the year, and on her not having returned the deep love that his son had felt for her. It was reported that after Bullock had disappeared in October, Ms. Blankenship feared that Bullock would come back and harm her, and so had been working with local attorney Edward Riling and Lawrence Mayor Sam Bishop, trying to get information from Bullock's family on the fugitive's whereabouts. Riling had dictated a series of letters that Ms. Blankenship had sent to Bullock's mother and sister, saying that she still loved him and intimating that she wanted to know where he was. Several examples were published in the Lawrence Daily World. This subterfuge failed to gain any information on Bullock or his movements. On November 16, 1909, McKay was arraigned in Juvenile Court before Judge Hugh Means on charges of bank robbery and intent to kill. As reported in the November 17, 1909, issue of the Lawrence Daily Journal, Fred Starr sent word to Judge Means that McKay was obviously terrified during the robbery, and that he did not think that the boy would have shot him. He wanted leniency for McKay. On November 23, 1909, Starr was discharged from the hospital with the bullet from Bullock's revolver still lodged in his jaw. Doctors were not going to try to remove it unless it caused him trouble. On November 27, 1909, Judge Means paroled Willie McKay. He had received a number of favorable letters from people who knew the boy and the boy's family. The Judge assigned Marshall Gorrill, the boy's attorney, the responsibility for finding McKay a suitable place to work in good surroundings. Until such work was found, McKay would be free from confinement. If no suitable work were found, McKay would be sent to the State Industrial School for Boys in Topeka. The bank in Eudora eventually got back $579.65 of the money stolen by Bullock and McKay on November 12, only twenty cents shy of what the two had made off with. The men who had tracked down Bullock along the Wakarusa River were to be given the $650 reward that had been offered in response to the robbery and murder he had committed in October. (From: Lawrence Daily Journal, v. 53: issue 274 (November 16, 1909), and issue 275 (November 17, 1909), Lawrence, Kansas; Lawrence Daily World, v. 18: issue 22[8] (November 13, 1909), Special issue (November 13, 1909), issue 229 (November 15, 1909), issue 230 (November 16, 1909), issue 236 (November 23, 1909), and issue 240 (November 27, 1909), Lawrence, Kansas; and, the United States Census, 1910, Douglas County, Kansas. Published 11/10.)  Back to top of page

December 30, 1872 - Thomas Clark shoots William Adams on a Eudora, Kansas, street - Thomas Clark was born into slavery in Virginia, probably in 1834. In 1862, he left Jackson County, Missouri, and came to Eudora, Kansas. Slavery was not abolished in Missouri until January of 1865, so if he was still a slave when he was in Missouri, and if his owner had not freed him, Clark would have been a fugitive slave when he came to Kansas. Because of all the troubles that had preceded Kansas being admitted to the Union on January 29, 1861, as a Free State, many Kansas had actively worked against slavery and slave owners, so few would have given any support to returning fugitive slaves to their slave masters. Eudora had been founded and settled by German immigrants, most of whom were hostile to slavery, so the citizens of the town would have been more likely to protect Clark than to try to return him to bondage. In addition, in March of 1862, President Lincoln had forbidden Union Army officers from returning fugitive slaves to their masters, so if Clark were a fugitive slave, he would have had no trouble from the authorities either. Clark settled in and began working as a day laborer in the Eudora area. After the Civil War ended and slavery was abolished in the United States, many ex-slaves left their old homes and moved to Kansas, searching for freedom and opportunity. Know as Exodusters, a good number of them settled in Eudora. At some time, Clark's sister Eliza came to Eudora. Whether she came with Clark in 1862, at some other time during the War, or after the War as part of the Exoduster movement, is unknown. Sometime after Eliza Clark arrived, she married a Eudora man named William Adams. Adams, whose experience with slavery is unknown, was probably born in 1845 in Missouri. When and how he came to Eudora is not known. Clark married a woman named Matilda, who was probably born in 1849 in Virginia. She was fifteen years his junior, which may have contributed to what happened later. Thomas and Matilda Clark had a son in early 1870. The Adams' marriage produced two daughters before Eliza Adams, Clark's sister, died in August of 1870. Two or three weeks after his sister's death, the 36-year-old Clark, his 21-year-old wife Matilda, and their infant son moved in with the 25-year-old Adams and his two children in the newly widowed man's house. A year or so later, Clark discovered that he been had replaced in his young wife's affection by Adams, and in response, took her away from his brother-in-law's house. Clark was reported to have believed that Adams had given Clark's wife something that gave Adams power over her, and had pleaded with him to leave his wife alone, but that he would not. In November of 1872, Matilda Clark left her husband, and taking their child with her, went to Olathe, Kansas. Although she did not move in with Adams, reports were that he visited her. Around Christmas, she came back to Eudora, though it is unclear where she was staying after she did. Clark then tried to get Adams to bring her back to him, with no success. Somewhere around eight o'clock on the morning of December 30, 1872, Clark confronted Adams on a street in Eudora. Words were exchanged before the two parted company. At around 11:00 that same morning, a reporter for the Daily Kansas Tribune, a Lawrence, Kansas, newspaper, was standing at the west end of the platform of the Missouri Pacific depot in Eudora, when he observed "two men, both colored, one driving a team and the other walking near him carrying a gun." The driver, later identified as William Adams, drove the wagon up to a house some distance from the depot, followed by the man with the gun, who later turned out to be Thomas Clark. The reporter's attention was distracted for a moment, but quickly went back to the wagon when he heard a shot. He saw a cloud of gun smoke around the wagon and observed the driver fall to the ground. Clark was seen moving away from the scene, sometimes walking, sometimes running. A group of people, including the reporter, slowly walked to where the wagon driver was laying. By the time they got there, Clark had reappeared without the gun. Someone asked who the man he had killed was, and he replied, "Bill Adams." He was asked why he had done it, and he reportedly said, "Because he separated me and my wife, but he won't separate any other man and wife." Someone called out "Catch Tom Clark, he has killed a man." Clark replied, speaking of himself, "You let Tom Clark alone. He is going to the Squire's to give himself up." The newspaper reported that Clark then went to "Esquire Richards", presumably Oscar Richards, a local attorney, and turned himself in to the authorities. He was handcuffed and "put in the dungeon under City Hall." A coroner's inquest was held in front of Justice Phenicie, presumably Erastus Phenicie, a local landowner who was probably serving as Justice of the Peace. It was found that Adams had died of a gunshot to the back of the neck, and that the deed had been done by Thomas Clark. It was reported that when questioned, Clark said that when he and Adams had spoken earlier that morning, he had repeated his demands that Adams bring his woman back. Adams said that he did not have her, had told Clark to shut up, and then had threatened him. Clark said that Adams was stronger than he was, and could have whipped him. Besides, he understood that Adams was "packing something," meaning that he carried some kind of weapon. He also said that "another man had stole[sp] another wife from him once in Missouri," and that it was "time the traffic in his wives was stopped." Clark said he had loaded a musket with eight pistol balls, and then took "a small dram of whisky" before he went off after Adams. Clark freely admitted that he had intended to shoot and kill Adams. After the inquest, Clark was put "in the calaboose," but the authorities determined that it was too cold there, and he was moved to a saloon. He was kept there under guard until the 6:00 pm train came to take him the seven miles west to jail in Lawrence, Kansas. It was reported that many of the women in Eudora's Black community were hostile to Clark's wife, and "…were anxious to see Mrs. Clark dangling from the end of a rope…" At the beginning of the New Year, Matilda Clarke was taking care of her and Clark's son, the two orphaned Adam's children were staying with a man reported to be their 80-year-old grandfather, and Thomas Clark was in jail in Lawrence, awaiting trial for murder. No record of the trial, its outcome, or Clark's fate has been located. It is interesting that despite the widespread racism that existed in the nation at the time, the available information shows that Clark was not treated differently by the citizenry and authorities than would a white man have been in similar circumstances. Whether that would have been the case if Adams had been a white man instead of a black man is open to speculation. (From: Daily Kansas Tribune, v. 9: issue 306 (December 31, 1872), p. 1, Lawrence, Kansas; Western Home Journal, v. 4: issue 45 (January 2, 1873), p. 3, Lawrence, Kansas; Town Growth: 1860-1880, in Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw: The History of Eudora, Kansas, by Cindy Higgins, Author, Eudora, Kansas, 2010; and, the United States Census, 1870, Douglas County, Kansas. Published 12/10.)  Back to top of page

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