Michael J. Malone
Douglas County Law Library

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


This Month in Legal History Archive

2013

This page contains archived entries from the "This Month in Legal History" column published in 2013 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 1858 - Lawrence replaces Lecompton as the county seat of Douglas County, Kansas Territory - Douglas County, Kansas Territory, was officially organized on September 24, 1855, by the Territorial Legislature. The members of the legislature had been chosen in a disputed election on the preceding March 30th, when thousands of men from Missouri had crossed the border into Kansas, took over the polls, and though they were not residents and so not eligible to vote, did so anyway. In addition to voting, they also prevented many of the legal residents of the Territory from voting. The men from Missouri were in favor of Kansas Territory being admitted to the Union as a slave state, and the men that they prevented from voting were in favor of it becoming a free state. This was an escalation in the troubles that had been caused by the passage and signing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act the previous year, which had opened up the possibility of Kansas becoming a slave state by a vote of the people of the Territory. When the balloting was over, most of the unauthorized voters went back home to Missouri. Although the number of ballots that were cast that day exceeded the number of legal residents by nearly three times, the Federal Government accepted the vote. The "Bogus Legislature," as it became known to Free State proponents, was formed and convened on July 2, 1855, in Pawnee, a small settlement near Fort Riley about 120 miles from the Missouri border. Territorial Governor Andrew Reeder had chosen the town to be the capital of the Territory, and work was begun on a capitol building there. The proslavery legislators felt that having the capital that far from Missouri gave an advantage to the Free State cause in Kansas, so they voted to move the capital to one of the buildings at the Shawnee Methodist Mission, which was just inside Kansas along the Missouri border. Governor Reeder 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 began enacting laws, many designed to promote the establishment of slavery in Kansas. The Legislators 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 was chosen to be the county seat. The town was originally named Bald Eagle, but was renamed in honor of Chief Justice of the Kansas Territorial Supreme Court Samuel D. Lecompte. Lecompte was known to be proslavery, and Lecompton became headquarters of the proslavery movement in Kansas. In addition to being made the county seat, the town was later made the capital of the Territory. The conflict between Free State and proslavery forces in Kansas erupted into violence, which grew steadily worse throughout the rest of 1855 and 1856. The blatantly proslavery actions of the legislature helped to inflame the violence, inspiring Free State supporters to form their own competing government, and the resulting struggle lasted well into 1857. On October 5-6, 1857, a new Territorial Election was held that resulted in a significant increase in representation by Free Staters in the legislature. They slowly were able to turn the direction of legislation around to their way of thinking, and as 1857 neared its end, the Free State cause was in the ascendancy. Late that year, the legislature voted to move the county seat of Douglas County from the proslavery stronghold of Lecompton to Lawrence, the headquarters of the Free State movement in Kansas. The town had been the object of much animosity and violence from proslavery forces, and moving the county seat from Lecompton to Lawrence was an obvious statement on how the political winds were blowing in Kansas. In anticipation of the move, competing interests in Lawrence were making plans on where a courthouse would be located after the change was made. In January 1858, the county seat physically moved to Lawrence. Since there was no courthouse there, county officials were obliged to rent space to house county offices. All the maneuvering over where to place the courthouse in Lawrence went for nothing, as none of the competing interests were successful in securing a location for the building and no courthouse was built. In addition to Lawrence becoming the county seat, Topeka supplanted Lecompton as the capital when Kansas entered the Union as a free state on January 29, 1861. Douglas County continued to rent office space from various businesses until 1869, when they were allotted space in the new Lawrence City Hall. In 1899, county voters approved a bond issue to build a courthouse in Douglas County. Construction began in early 1903, and county offices moved into the new building in January 1905.(From: Samuel J. Jones, Historic Lecompton website; Lecompton, Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc., Standard Publishing Co, Chicago, 1912, v. 2; William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, Douglas County, Part 3; Douglas County, Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc., Standard Publishing Co, Chicago, 1912, v. 1; Lecompton, Kansas, Wikipedia website; Lecompton - Capitol of Kansas Territory , Legends of Kansas website; Douglas County Courthouse History, Douglas County, Kansas, website; About Lecompton…, Historic Lecompton website; and, Douglas County, Kansas, on Kansas State Historical Society website. Published 1/13.)  Back to top of page

February 5, 1859 - A busy week for legal matters in Lawrence, Kansas Territory, comes to an end - An article titled The Excitement of the Past Week appeared in the February 5, 1859, edition of the Herald of Freedom that was published in Lawrence, Kansas Territory. In it, the author, likely George W. Brown, the newspaper's editor, wrote of the events in the town that first week of February. The Territorial Legislature was in session there, as was the Territorial Supreme Court, the Special Term of the District Court, and the Grand Jury for the Special Term. In response to such a concentration of sovereign authority, the article observed that, "As a matter of course the city is crowded with people from all parts of the Territory. Honest farmers, scheming speculators, windy politicians and the unfortunate or dishonest dupes of designing men mingle together, and according to their respective motives and interests, seek to form and direct public opinion for the Territory." It was noted that the District Court was in session for a trial of "jay-hawkers," men who purportedly supported the Free State cause in Kansas who had been carrying out raids in the Territory. The week previous to the one in question had had its excitement too, and that excitement lingered. On January 25th, Dr. John Doy and his son Charles were escorting thirteen black men, women, and children from Lawrence. They were fleeing to safety in Iowa when they were accosted by a party of men from Missouri, taken prisoner, and transported to Missouri for trial. A Free State supporter named Clough, who had been with the Doys, but had been released by the captors, returned to Lawrence with the story of what had happened. This caused much ill feeling in town over what seemed to be an illegal act, and there was much talk about doing something about it. On January 28th, three days after Doy and his son were captured, the abolitionist John Brown and a party of Free State men left Lawrence escorting twelve black men, women, and children. Brown had freed eleven slaves in a raid in Vernon County, Missouri, on December 20, 1858, and had eventually brought them to Lawrence. On the way, one of the women had given birth to a son, bringing the total of those escaping to freedom to twelve. In the newspaper article, it was reported that word had come that John Brown, his men, and the fleeing slaves had been set upon by a considerable body of men and were besieged in a log house near Holton, Kansas Territory. It was reported that a deputy marshal was leading a posse there to prevent any violence, and to arrest Brown and bring him back to Lawrence for trial. Bringing Brown to town for trial would not have been a popular decision, as he had many supporters there, and the prospect of this would undoubtedly have increased the ill feeling in Lawrence. The article went on to decry the violence in the Territory, and questioned the motives of men who committed such acts when it was obvious that the Free State cause in Kansas was going to be successful. This theme continued in a second article in the same edition of the paper titled Crime is Crime, presumably also authored by George W. Brown, which compared the acts of violence committed by both sides in the struggle over slavery in Kansas Territory as equal and abhorrent alike. As it turned out, both issues that were stirring up feelings in Lawrence the week that the articles were published in the newspaper were resolved. Early in the morning of July 24, 1859, John Doy was broken out of jail in St. Joseph, Missouri, by a group of Free State men from Lawrence that included his son Charles, who had been released by the Missouri authorities some time earlier, and was escorted back to safety in Lawrence. The report that John Brown was besieged near Holton proved to be an exaggeration. A group of proslavery men were in the area of a cabin where Brown and his party were resting, but were unwilling to attack the well know abolitionist until they received reinforcements. Brown got word to Topeka asking for reinforcements, and a party of Free State men came to support him. On January 31st, the proslavery men were entrenched along the north bank of Straight Creek, blocking Brown's way to the north. As Brown and his men approached the creek from the south, one or two proslavery men jumped up and ran to their horses, followed quickly by most of the rest of the forty-five men opposing Brown. Only four men remained on the north bank, and they quickly surrendered to the Topeka men. Not a shot had been fired on either side in what came to be known as "The Battle of the Spurs," so named because that was the only weapon employed by the men opposing Brown. Brown escorted the freed slaves out of Kansas, and so left the Territory for the last time. He eventually watched them cross the river from Detroit, Michigan, to freedom in Canada, before he left to meet his own destiny later that year in Harpers Ferry. (From: Herald of Freedom, v. 4, no. 27 (February 5, 1859), pg. 2, and Kansas Historical Collections - The Battle of the Spurs and John Brown's Exit from Kansas, Kansas Historical Society website. Published 2/13.)  Back to top of page

March 1, 1864 - Governor Carney signs the act chartering the University of Kansas in Lawrence - In 1855, the first Kansas Territorial Legislature, known as the "Bogus Legislature" because of the voting irregularities surrounding its election, made provision for a Kansas University to be built whenever some governmental or private entity provided sufficient funds to do so. In 1856, Amos A. Lawrence donated over $12,000 for the establishment of a "Free State College" in Lawrence. Because of problems with the deed to the property where it was to be built, his plans were put on hold. In 1858, the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America became involved and attempted to get a school established. The 1859 Territorial Legislature granted the Church a charter for an institution named "The Lawrence University." The plan was to construct a building on Mount Oread, a bluff overlooking Lawrence from the west, but the project had to be abandoned in 1860 due to a lack of funds. In the meantime, the Congregationalists devised a plan to build a "monumental college, commemorating the triumph of liberty over slavery in Kansas." The outbreak of the Civil War back east forced them to put their plans on hold. In 1861, the Episcopalians became interested, and established a board of trustees that took out incorporation papers for "The Lawrence University of Kansas." The Presbyterians gave up their claims to the Episcopalians, who eventually gave up theirs to the State. The State Constitution that went into effect with the admission of Kansas to the Union on January 29, 1861, included a section that read, "Provision shall be made by law for the establishment, at some eligible and central point, of a state university for the promotion of literature and the arts and sciences, including a normal and agricultural department." Lawrence, Emporia, and Manhattan were all vying to be the location of the university. It was decided that the agricultural function of the university would be separated from the others, and Manhattan was chosen to be the site for this department. In response, Manhattan withdrew from the race, leaving only Lawrence and Emporia in contention. In order to secure the university for Lawrence, the city promised to donate 40 acres of land and an endowment of $15,000. By only a one vote margin, the Legislature voted to locate the university in Lawrence. A provision of the bill was that if Lawrence did not fulfill the promises it had made within six months, the university would go to Emporia. By means of a land swap with Charles Robinson, Lawrence secured the 40 acres, on top of Mount Oread, that were needed to fulfill the promise, and through a donation of the money that Amos Lawrence had set aside for his "Free State College," the city raised the $15,000 just in time to prevent the university from going to Emporia. Lawrence became the permanent location for the university on November 2, 1863. The Kansas Legislature then passed an act granting a charter for the University of Kansas in Lawrence, and Governor Thomas Carney signed the bill into law on March 1, 1864. The University was to be formally founded upon the first meeting of the Board of Regents, which occurred on March 21, 1865. The first day of classes was on September 12, 1866. (From: University of Kansas, Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc., Standard Publishing Co, Chicago, 1912, v. 2; and, When was KU founded?, KU Info website. Published 3/13.)  Back to top of page

April 1932 - Clyde Barrow robs his first bank in Lawrence, Kansas - Or did he? - Clyde Chestnut Barrow, infamous as the male half of the "Bonnie and Clyde" outlaw partnership, was born on March 24, 1910(1), in Ellis County, Texas. Barrow had his first run-in with the law when he was arrested in late 1926 for failure to return a rented car on time. Following numerous arrests in 1928 and 1929 on suspicion of car theft, for which he was never prosecuted, he was finally convicted on five counts of theft in 1930, and sent to the notorious Eastham Prison Farm, located about 15 miles north of Huntsville, Texas. The conditions at Eastham were known to be brutal, and his time there had a life changing effect on Barrow. During his stay, he was reputed to have killed another prisoner who had been sexually assaulting him. Ralph Fults, a fellow inmate at Eastham, said he watched Barrow "change from a schoolboy to a rattlesnake." Barrow began to consider the possibility of conducting a raid on Eastham after he was released, freeing the prisoners and taking revenge on the prison guards and administration there. When Barrow was paroled in February 1932, he and Fults, who had been paroled the year before, joined up and began planning the raid on Eastham. Money was required to finance the raid, so they began planning various criminal activities to get the needed cash. Barrow had heard from a friend that the Simms Oil Refinery in West Dallas, Texas, would have a large amount of money in its safe on Friday, March 25th. Barrow and Fults decided to rob the refinery. To help with the job, they recruited Raymond Hamilton, who had known Barrow years earlier when they were neighbors in West Dallas. Hamilton had escaped from jail in late January 1932, using a hacksaw blade smuggled in to him by Fults. After dark on March 25th, the three men cut a hole in the fence surrounding the refinery, went in, and rounded up the four men working there that night. They located the safe, and after some effort, broke into it. The safe was empty. They released their captives and beat a hasty retreat. Dallas was becoming too hot for the trio to stay, and they needed cash to get out of town, so the three began a series of small safe burglaries. For a share in the loot, two local policeman stood guard for the trio while the burglaries were being committed. Realizing that they were not getting much money from these small jobs, Fults suggested that it was time that they begin robbing banks. Hamilton was initially against the idea, but Barrow and Fults explained about needing a lot of cash to carry out their plan to raid Eastham, so he reluctantly agreed to go along with them. They stole a car and left West Dallas, heading north to look for a bank to rob. 1932 was the height of the Great Depression, and thousands of banks across the country were closing. Supposedly, the would-be bank robbers came across one boarded up bank after another as they continued north in their search for one to rob. Their trek north took them through the town of Lawrence, Kansas. Eventually, they found what seemed to be a perfect bank in Okabena, Minnesota, over 850 road miles from where they had begun their trip. The bank was in the town square, and had plenty of roads leading away from it to use as escape routes. As they planned their escape, Clyde became worried that there was too much snow and ice on the roads around town to ensure that they could make a clean getaway. They decided to abandon the bank in Okabena and look for a more promising target further south. As they drove south, they remembered that as they had passed through Lawrence on their way north to Okabena, they had noticed a bank there, the First National, that might be worth investigating as their new target. Despite being over 350 miles to Lawrence, they determined to drive all night to get there. Having had little sleep since they left Texas, the men were exhausted, and after it got dark, that exhaustion began to take hold. Fults recounted that they took turns driving, but that each one in turn fell asleep at the wheel and ended up putting the car into a field along the road. After the third trip into a field, they decided that it was best to park in a clump of trees along the road and get some rest, which they did. After arriving in Lawrence, they checked into the Eldridge Hotel at 7th and Massachusetts Street. They spent the rest of the day observing the First National Bank, which was at 8th and Massachusetts Street on the opposite side of the street from the hotel. Barrow and Fults were bothered by how busy the bank was, their concern being that a large crowd might be hard to handle during the robbery. Fults decided to check out the bank from the inside, and took a ten-dollar bill to a teller's cage and asked for change. He observed that there was only one security guard, which would not be a problem for them, but that there were too many customers inside for the three of them to easily control. They spent the night in the hotel, planning to again observe the bank the next day. The following morning, they noticed a man enter the bank at 8:45. No other employees arrived for nearly ten minutes. The trio discovered that the man was the president of the bank, and this gave them an idea. They stayed another night in the hotel to observe the bank the next morning, and again noticed the president arriving at 8:45, ten minutes before other employees began arriving. The three decided to hit the bank before it opened the next day. At 8:45 the next morning, the gang was waiting in their car outside the bank. When the bank president came into view, Barrow and Fults got out of the car, sawed-off shotguns under their coats. Hamilton stayed to guard the car. As Barrow and Fults walked up to the bank president, they saw a man and a woman approaching from the opposite direction. The bandits realized they were employees of the bank, and Fults turned and walked over to confront them. Barrow walked up to the president, telling him that it was a stick-up and not to raise his hands. He said that all they were after was the money, and that no one would get hurt if everyone cooperated. The president opened the door and went inside, followed by Barrow, Fults, and the two bank employees that Fults had rounded up. While Fults stood guard, a .45 automatic in one hand and a shotgun in the other, Barrow accompanied the president into the main vault. He soon reappeared, minus the president, with two large bags of currency. As Barrow hustled the two bank employees into the vault to join the president, Fults stepped to the window and signaled for Hamilton to bring the car up. Barrow and Fults jumped in the car and they sped off to make their get-away. Before they had gone far, they switched to a different car that they had strategically placed for that purpose, and then headed east. They drove to East St. Louis, Illinois, over 300 miles from Lawrence, before stopping to count the money. In a small hotel room there, Fults counted the loot while Barrow and Hamilton watched. The total came to a little over $33,000. They did not expect to have received so much money from just one job, and the three were elated. Hamilton was for robbing another bank as soon as possible, while Barrow and Fults wanted to begin planning the Eastham raid. Hamilton indicated he had no interest in freeing a bunch of cons on a prison farm, so he took his share of the loot from Lawrence and left. Supposedly, Barrow eventually gave away most of the rest of the money from the Lawrence robbery to friends and family. Barrow and Fults went back to Texas. After arriving, they first made a short visit to Bonnie Parker's family in West Dallas, and then drove to Denton. They began organizing a gang to raid Eastham, and planned to rob a bank on April 11th in Denton. They called the robbery off when it appeared that lawmen had the bank staked out. Although he did not rob the bank in Okabena in 1932, there must have been something about it that attracted Barrow, as he returned there again, leading Bonnie and the rest of the Barrow Gang when they robbed the bank of around $2,500 on May 19, 1933(2), this time in warm weather and with clear roads. It was nearly a year later before they were finally able to stage the raid on Eastham. "The Barrow Gang," including Barrow, Bonnie Parker, and Fults, carried out the raid on January 16, 1934. After refusing to join Barrow and Fults in planning for the Eastham raid, and going off with his share of the Lawrence bank money, Raymond Hamilton had been involved in a number of criminal activities. They eventually landed him in Eastham, serving a sentence of 266 years in prison for auto theft, armed robbery, and murder. As such, he was one of the prisoners who was freed in the Barrow Gang's raid that day in January 1934. Barrow, who had been angry with Hamilton for leaving him and Fults in East St. Louis after the Lawrence robbery because "he had no interest in freeing a bunch of cons on a prison farm," was amused by this coincidence. Barrow, Fults, and Hamilton continued their lives of crime. Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were gunned down in an ambush by law enforcement officers near Gibsland, Louisiana, on May 23, 1934. Raymond Hamilton was eventually captured, escaped, and then captured again. He was executed in Huntsville, Texas, on May 10, 1935. Ralph Fults was arrested in March of 1934, but was pardoned by the Governor of Texas in January 1935. He committed several more robberies before being captured in April that year. He was extradited to Mississippi, where he was convicted and sentenced to fifty years in prison. He was pardoned in 1944, and "went straight," becoming a security guard at an orphanage. Fults died on March 16, 1993, in Dallas Texas. His account of the robbery of the First National Bank in Lawrence is the only record of any such event taking place. There is no evidence that the police were ever called, and there is no mention of it in the Lawrence newspapers of the time. That raises the question, did Clyde Barrow actually rob his first bank in Lawrence, or was Fults' account untrue, either because he was mistaken as to where the robbery took place, or because he made up the entire story? John Neal Phillips, an author who interviewed Fults for a book on his life with Bonnie and Clyde, published Running with Bonnie and Clyde: the ten fast years of Ralph Fults, in 1996. Phillips is quoted as saying of Fults' account of the Lawrence robbery, “I asked him several times if he could be confusing Lawrence with some other place because I hadn’t heard that either, and he always said no. Ralph was absolutely crystal clear it was Lawrence. Everything else Ralph ever told me about his time with Barrow checked out. Every stinking bit of it.” Is Fults' account plausible? Upon close examination, are there any glaring errors that would render it false? When mapping the possible routes that Fults, Barrow, and Hamilton could have taken from West Dallas to Okabena, and limiting them to highways that were in existence in 1932, Lawrence is on the shortest, most direct route between the two locations. Barrow was reputed to have planned his trips well, utilizing road maps that were available at every gas station at the time. When police recovered vehicles that had been stolen by the gang, they supposedly always found a supply of road maps. Given Barrow's penchant for closely planning road trips, it is plausible that the trio would have traveled the most direct route, and so would have gone through Lawrence and been able to observe the First National Bank on their way north, just as Fults reported. The Eldridge Hotel is only a block away from the bank, and on the opposite side of the street, so the gang would have been able to watch the front door of the bank from the hotel without too much difficulty, again rendering Fults' account plausible. Nothing in his account of the actual robbery and getaway is inconsistent with what could have happened in Lawrence in April 1932(3). Assuming that Phillip's assessment of Fults is correct, and that Fults' account of the robbery of the First National Bank is plausible, then a much larger question opens up. Why is there no record of it ever happening? A bank being robbed of $33,000 would be notable today. A bank being robbed of that amount in 1932 would have been staggering. $33,000 in 1932 dollars is the equivalent of over $500,000 in today's dollars. Since the police were not called, and there was no newspaper coverage of the event, then the conclusion would have to be that the people in the bank kept the robbery a secret. Why would they do that? Two potential reasons come to mind. One is that disclosing such a loss could have destroyed the bank. In 1932, banks across the country were closing at the rate of over ten per day. Public knowledge of such a loss by the First National Bank could have caused a run on the bank by depositors trying to get their savings out before all the money was gone. Such bank runs were common at the time, and bankers feared them as much as, if not more than, robbery. The bank president could have made a quick decision to not report the crime to the police, which would have made it public knowledge. He could have sworn the bank employees to secrecy, and then had the bank quietly take the loss. This would also explain why the bank did not file an insurance claim, assuming they would have had insurance to cover loss from theft. How likely would it have been to keep something like that secret? How likely would it have been for the bank to be able to take such a loss? Not very likely, but not beyond the realm of possibility either. An alternate reason for not reporting the robbery is that there may have been some problem with the money that was stolen. Perhaps, for whatever reason, the bank was not supposed to have the money in its possession, and so it would not have been prudent to allow knowledge of the robbery to become public. Questions could be asked about the origins of the money that was stolen. This scenario is less likely to be true, but again, not impossible. And who was the president of the bank that, if Fults was accurate, was forced at gunpoint to give Barrow the money? Given the date of the robbery, the likely candidate would be William Docking, father of George Docking, Governor of Kansas from 1957 to 1961, and grandfather of Robert Docking, Governor of Kansas from 1967 to 1975. William Docking came to Lawrence in 1914 and purchased an interest in the Merchants National Bank. He left Lawrence in the early 1920s to serve as receiver for a series of failed banks, first in locations across the nation and then in Kansas. He returned to Lawrence in 1931, purchased the dominant interest in the First National Bank, which had changed its name from Merchants National Bank in 1930, and became its president. Assuming that Fults was correct in identifying the man that had been accosted outside the bank as president of the bank, then William Docking would have been that man. Would he have had the resources to make up for the loss of the bank funds stolen to keep the robbery secret? Probably. Would he have done so? Not knowing the actual circumstances, it is hard to say. So what about Ralph Fults' account, at least that account recorded in the book by Phillips? There is nothing in it that precludes it from being true; however, aside from Fults' account(4), there is no evidence to indicate that Clyde Barrow was ever in Lawrence, let alone that he did his first bank robbery there. Could he have? Could the memories of a man recorded over fifty years after the events he remembered be accurate? Yes, without a doubt. Are they? Barring more evidence coming to light, it is up to the individual to decide the truth of this story.

(1) There is some confusion over what year Clyde Barrow was born. There are apparently no official records of his birth. His mother, perhaps confused when questioned by authorities during her son's crime spree, supposedly reported that he was born in 1909, but the entry she wrote in the family bible recording his birth gave March 24, 1910, as the date.

(2) If Barrow, Fults, and Hamilton recognized the First National Bank in Lawrence as a possible target during their trip north, why did they not rob it instead of continuing to travel over 350 miles more to Okabena in March of 1932? 850 miles is a long way to wander looking for a bank to rob, so perhaps Barrow choosing to rob the bank in Okabena then was not random, and it was actually his goal all along on that trip north. The robbery in 1933 could then have been him carrying out his original plan that had been thwarted the year earlier.

(3) The date when the robbery took place is not clear. Fults does not say when it was. All that one can tell from his account is that it happened sometime between the failed robbery of the Simms Refinery in West Dallas, Texas, on March 25th and the abortive bank robbery in Denton, Texas, on April 11th. A newspaper article in the September 18, 2011, edition of the Lawrence Journal-World reports that the robbery occurred in March 1932. Blanch Caldwell Barrow, widow of Clyde's brother Marvin "Buck" Barrow and a member of the Barrow Gang herself, wrote a memoir, which was edited and published by John Neal Phillips, the same man who authored the book on Ralph Fults' life. In it, she notes the bank robbery in Lawrence having been in April 1932. To determine which month is correct, one needs to look at the sequence of events recorded in Fults' account. The Simms Refinery job took place the night of Friday, March 25th, and lasted until nearly dawn. Fults indicates that because it failed, he, Barrow, and Hamilton needed cash to leave town, so they carried out a string of small safe breaking jobs. Since they would have needed time to locate safes to break into, and since safe breaking is best done at night, they could not have begun until the night of Saturday the 26th at the earliest. Assuming they did all the safe breaking jobs in that one night, they would not have been able to leave West Dallas on their journey north until early on Sunday the 27th. The Ford Motor Company introduced the V-8 engine on March 9, 1932, when the first car with that engine rolled of the assembly line. It was the first high performance engine that the average person could afford, and cars that were not equipped with that engine would have trouble achieving high sustained speeds, even if road conditions were good. The car that the trio had stolen for the trip north would likely not have had Ford's V-8 engine, so the speed at which they could travel would have been limited. The distance from West Dallas to Okabena is more than 850 miles, so even if they had driven straight through from West Dallas to Okabena, stopping only for gas, food, and to check out potential banks to rob, they could not have arrived in Okabena earlier than late on Sunday the 27th or early on Monday the 28th. They would have been able to case the bank, plan the robbery, abandon their plans, and begin the trip back south all on the 28th, but they would not have been able to arrive in Lawrence and check into the Eldridge Hotel before Tuesday the 29th. Fults indicated that they observed the activity at the First National Bank for three days straight prior to the day of the robbery, the day they arrived in Lawrence and the two days following. They could not have begun the three straight days of observation earlier in the week than on Monday, and, because banks generally did not have Saturday hours in 1932, the robbery could not have taken place on the weekend. This leaves only two days in the week when the robbery could have taken place, Thursday or Friday. The examination of their schedule indicates they could not have arrived in Lawrence before Tuesday the 29th. Assuming this was the day they arrived, they would have observed the activity at the bank that day, the day after, Wednesday the 30th, and the day after that, Thursday the 31st. The date of the robbery of the bank would then be Friday, April 1st. Because of the sequence and timing of the events, it could not have been earlier. If the robbery was not carried out on the 1st, then the next date that would allow for three days of observation prior to the robbery would be Thursday, April 7th. If the robbery occurred on that later date, there would have been only three days for the escape to East St. Louis, the counting of the loot, the breakup of the gang when Hamilton left, the trip back to Texas for Barrow and Fults, the visit to Bonnie Parker's family, the attempt to organize a new gang, the casing of the bank in Denton, and the planning of the aborted robbery there on the 11th, a tight schedule at best. Considering the timing, the best estimate for the date of the bank robbery in Lawrence is April 1, 1932. Regardless of which date it is correct, April 1st or April 7th, it appears that the newspaper article was wrong and that Blanch Barrow was correct that the robbery took place in April 1932.

(4) Although the account of the robbery of the First National Bank of Lawrence appears in three books, they are all based on the one account by Ralph Fults. Two of the books were either written or edited by the same man using material gained from his interviews with Fults, so are not independent sources from one another. The third book uses the book on Fults' life as a reference, and so is also not an independent source.

(From: Bonnie and Clyde, Wikipedia website; Go Down Together: the True Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde, by Jeff Guinn, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2009; Ralph Fults, Wikipedia website; Running With Bonnie and Clyde: the Ten Fast Years of Ralph Fults, by John Neal Phillips, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1996; Lawrence Journal-World, September 18, 2011; My Life With Bonnie and Clyde, by Blanche Caldwell Barrow, edited by John Neal Phillips, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman,The Life Cycle of the Ford Flathead V8: 1932 - 1953, 35pickup.com website; The Raid on Eastham: October '00 American History Feature, Historynet.com website; Okabena, Minnesota, Wikipedia website; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 85, no. 116 (May 15, 1941), p. 1; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 94, no. 16 (January 18, 1952), p. 1; and, Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 112, no. 224 (September 18, 1970), p. 7a. Published 4/13.)  Back to top of page

May 21, 1856 - Marshal Donaldson orders Captain Donaldson to release Dr. Root and Captain Mitchell - In response to the signing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act by President Pearce on May 30, 1854, Congress began organizing the government of the newly designated Territory of Kansas. Government officials were appointed to serve in the Territory until such time as a local government was firmly established. One of those appointed positions was that of Auditor of Public Accounts. On August 30, 1854, John Donaldson was appointed to that position by Congress. Donaldson was from Kentucky, having been born there in 1830, and was a supporter of Kansas being admitted to the Union as a slave state. Upon his appointment as Auditor, he traveled out to Kansas. He apparently did not immediately settle in the Territory, as he is reported to have been living in Jackson County, Missouri, at the time of the election for the first Territorial Legislature, held March 30, 1855. Despite being a government official and not actually being a resident, Donaldson ran for a seat on the Kansas Territorial Council (Senate) for Riley County. On Election Day, thousands of proslavery Missouri residents crossed into Kansas, and took over polling stations. They voted, in many cases refused to let Free State men vote, and then went back home to Missouri. Only two Free State candidates won seats in the election, one of those being Martin F. Conway, who defeated Donaldson for the Riley County seat. Free State supporters protested about the way the election had been conducted, and Territorial Governor Andrew H. Reeder called for a new election, but only in those districts where formal complaints had been filed. Proslavery men boycotted the election that was held on May 22nd, and eight additional Free State men were elected to the legislature. A legislative committee was appointed to evaluate the credentials of those elected, and since it was dominated by proslavery men, it refused to accept any of the Free State men elected in May. It instead accepted all the proslavery men who had won the balloting in the election on March 30th. Martin Conway resigned from the legislature on July 3rd in protest of this blatant violation of a free election, and the next day, July 4th, John Donaldson was appointed to Conway's seat. In addition to become a member of the Territorial Legislature, Donaldson also became a captain in the Kansas Militia. The militia operated as the enforcement arm of the "Bogus Legislature," so called by Free State men because of the way it had been formed. In early fall 1855, several abolitionist in New Haven, Connecticut, began organizing a group of men to go to Kansas Territory to work for Kansas to be admitted to the Union as a state that did not allow slavery. The group came to be known as the Connecticut Kansas Colony. The group was sometimes also referred to as the Beecher Bible and Rifle Colony, because the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher(1) helped raise funds to buy 25 Bibles and 25 Sharp's rifles(2) for the men to take with them to Kansas. The members of the Colony left Connecticut on March 31, 1856, setting out for Kansas Territory to begin their Free State work. They traveled through St. Louis, Missouri, where they purchased tools and other supplies, and then up the Missouri River on the steamboat Clara to the City of Kansas, now known as Kansas City, Missouri. A party of five men pushed off ahead of the rest of the group to locate a good place to settle. After securing wagons and oxen, the remaining Colony members traveled to Lawrence, Kansas Territory, the headquarters of the Free State movement there. They stayed several days, until the men who had gone on ahead returned. They reported that they had found a suitable site in Wabaunsee County, so the Colony members left Lawrence, arriving at their destination on April 28, 1856. One of the members of the Colony was Dr. Joseph Pomeroy Root. Root was born in Greenwich, Massachusetts, on April 3, 1826. He attended medical school and became a practicing physician in New Hartford, Connecticut. Root married Frances Eveline Alden, a descendant of John Alden(3), in 1851, and would eventually father five children with her. In 1855, he was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives as a Whig. He joined the Connecticut Kansas Colony and came with them to the Territory. Another member of the Colony was William G. Mitchell, Jr. Mitchell was born in 1825 in Kilmarnock, Scotland, and immigrated to Middletown, Connecticut, with his parents while still an infant. In 1849, he went to the gold fields in California and then on to Australia in 1853. In 1855, he returned to Connecticut by way of Great Britain, and in early 1856, he joined the Connecticut Kansas Colony and came to Kansas Territory with them. Around the second week of May 1856, Root, Mitchell, and two other men, presumably also Colony members, traveled the 70 or so miles from the settlement in Wabaunsee County back to Lawrence. While in Lawrence, Mitchell went to the Post Office to pick up three letters that belonged to a member of the Colony who had not accompanied the four to Lawrence. The man had given Mitchell written authorization to pick them up, so he was given the letters that purportedly contained several hundred dollars. The four Colony members completed their business in Lawrence and left town on Thursday, May 15, 1856, heading west towards home. They had gone only a few miles when they passed near a cabin along the road. Suddenly a group of men rushed from the cabin and descended on the travelers, firing at them and commanding them to surrender. The Colony men were badly outnumbered, as their attackers numbered around sixteen. Root and Mitchell were riding mules, which are not known for their speed, while the two men accompanying them were on horses. The horsemen were able to ride off quickly and make their escape, while Root and Mitchell were not. Realizing that they could not escape, the two men reigned in their mules. The firing stopped, and they asked their attackers why they were fired upon without first being ordered to halt. The man commanding the group informed them that he was acting under instructions from the United States Marshal, presumably Israel B. Donaldson(4), not to be confused with Captain Donaldson of the Kansas Militia, which were to detain all persons passing over the road. He offered to show them his authority if they would go with him to their camp. After consulting together for a few moments, Root and Mitchell decided to surrender, and were taken to a small cabin about one and a half miles from where they had been taken prisoner. When the two arrived at the cabin, they were put under guard by about a dozen soldiers. They were eventually placed in the custody of Captain Donaldson, but whether that occurred on the day they were captured or on the following day is not certain. When asked, Donaldson refused to tell the two men why they had been detained. He also confiscated their supplies, their weapons, including three revolvers and a Bowie knife, and their papers, including the three letters Mitchell had picked up in Lawrence. Mitchell protested, showing Donaldson the authorization he had to be carrying the letters, but this did no good. The cabin where the men were being held was near the main camp of a large group of proslavery men that were assembling several miles from Lawrence. The proslavery men were part of a posse being formed by Marshal Donaldson ostensibly to assist the Marshal in serving warrants on several Free State supporters in Lawrence. The morning after their capture, Friday, May 16th, Root and Mitchell were taken from the cabin into the proslavery camp. There they were questioned by Dr. John H. Stringfellow, who was a noted proslavery advocate, member of the "Bogus Legislature," and Colonel in the Third Regiment of the Kansas Militia. He also refused to tell the two men why they were being held. Mitchell again protested the letters being taken from him, and again, it did no good. There were reports that Stringfellow had acquired possession of Mitchell's letters from Captain Donaldson. After being questioned by Stringfellow, the two prisoners were remanded to their cabin, where they were detained until Wednesday, May 20th. During that time, several other prisoners were brought in and also detained in the cabin. While they were imprisoned, Root and Mitchell were fed sporadically, sometimes receiving two meals a day, and other times going 24 hours or more without being fed. On one occasion, after having not eaten for a day, Mitchell was ordered to cook a meal for himself and Root. He declined, indicating that he did not know how to cook. He was immediately taken to Stringfellow's tent, where he was met with cries of "Kill the damned rascal! Hang him, hang him!" from the officers and men there. Someone threw a rope over his head, and several men tried to grab the other end. He managed to get out of the predicament, and was returned to the cabin. On the 20th, the proslavery camp was moved to a position about two miles west of Lawrence. A red flag with a white star and the words "Southern Rights" above it(5) was flying over the camp. That evening, all the prisoners in the cabin were marched the six or so miles to the new camp, reaching there around 9:00 p.m., and were put under guard in tents. They spent the night trying to sleep on the wet ground without blankets to lie on or to cover themselves with. The next morning, May 21, 1856, the proslavery posse ate breakfast, and then was drawn up into a hollow square formation. Marshal Donaldson was introduced, and gave his orders for the day to his men, to march into Lawrence and enforce his warrants. Next to speak was David Rice Atchison. Atchison was a United States Senator for Missouri. He had served as President pro tempore of the Senate for six years and had requested that Senator Stephen Douglas introduce the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 that had opened up Kansas to white settlement and sparked the struggle over slavery there. Atchison was strongly in favor of Kansas becoming as slave state, and bitterly opposed the Free State men in Lawrence. He made a fiery speech to the assembled proslavery posse that was overheard and remembered by Dr. Root. He excoriated the town of Lawrence, ending his speech with, "Yes, these God damned sons of damned puritan stock will learn their fate, and they may go home and tell their cowardly friends what I say! I care not for them! I defy and damn them all to Hell. Yes, that large red flag denotes our purpose to press the matter even to blood, the large lone white star in the center denotes the purity of our purpose, and the words "Southern Rights" above it clearly indicate the righteousness of our principles. I say under all these circumstances I am now enjoying the proudest moments of my life, but I will detain you no longer. No boys! I cannot stay your spirit of patriotism, I cannot even stay my own; our precious time is wasting. No, hasten to work, follow your worthy and immediate leader, Colonel Stringfellow! He will lead you on to a glorious victory, and I will be there to support all your acts and assist as best I may in all your acts, and assist completing the overthrow of that hellish party, and in crushing out the last sign of damned abolitionism in the territory of Kansas." The speech was met with loud approval. Shortly after the conclusion of Atchison's speech, a detachment of cavalry that had been reconnoitering Lawrence returned. It was reported that Lawrence was defenseless, and before noon, the posse moved out under overall command of Marshal Donaldson. About 25 men remained to guard the prisoners. After having served his warrants in Lawrence, the Marshall returned to the camp about 3:00 p.m. He located the sergeant of the guard and inquired as to what charges had been brought against Root, Mitchell, and the other men being held prisoner. He was informed that there were no charges against the men. They were being held in response to orders he, Marshal Donaldson, had made previously. In response, Marshal Donaldson issued a general order that, "Captain Donaldson and other captains will release all the within named prisoners immediately after the reception of this order, and all their property to be restored to them without delay." He also addressed an order directly to Captain Donaldson to, "Let Dr. J. P. Root pass unmolested. He is entitled to receive his mule, saddle, bridle, spurs, blanket, lariettes [sic], and two Whitney's revolvers." The prisoners were released. Their release was accompanied by the sound of cannon fire coming from Lawrence. After the Marshal had left Lawrence, Sam Jones, the proslavery Sheriff of Douglas County, had taken command of the forces occupying the town, and had proceeded to enforce what he said was a warrant to suppress the insurrection that the Free State town was conducting. His men began firing cannons at the Free State Hotel, eventually burning it down. They also proceeded to sack the town, which included destroying the two Free State newspapers there. While this was underway, the released prisoners were trying to make their way to Lawrence. The Marshal had advised them against doing so when he had released them, but they had ignored his advice. On their way, they ran into the man who had been in command of the men who had first arrested them, who also advised that they not go to Lawrence. When and if they made it there that day is uncertain. The following day, May 22nd, Root and Mitchell went to Lecompton, the Territorial Capitol, to recover the remainder of their property, including the letters that had been taken from Mitchell. They saw Marshal Donaldson, who refused to turn over the property. The two men returned to Wabaunsee County, and upon their arrival, a celebration was held. It included a parade of the local Free State militia known as the "Prairie Guard," who had elected Mitchell as their commander while he was imprisoned. There were also a series of speeches, including one from Dr. Root. Root and Mitchell then went back to their Free State activities. It was becoming hazardous for Free State men and supplies to come into Kansas through Missouri, so an alternate way bypassing the slave state through Iowa and Nebraska Territory was planned. A committee was formed to lay out the route, to which Root was appointed. By early fall, the route, known variously as Lane's Road or the Lane Trail in honor of Jim Lane, controversial leader in the Free State movement, was open. It would eventually become an important route in the Underground Railroad in Kansas. Mitchell led the Prairie Guards to Lawrence in late August 1856 to help protect the town from another threat from a force of proslavery men. When word came on August 30th that a large force of proslavery men had attacked the town of Osawatomie, Kansas Territory, Jim Lane led a forced march of Free State men to try to intercept them as they withdrew. Mitchell and his men joined the march. They caught up to the proslavery men and attacked them on September 1st at Bull Creek, an area near the junction of the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails in southwest Johnson County, Kansas Territory. After a brief skirmish, the proslavery men retreated towards Missouri, ending the Battle of Bull Creek. Mitchell and his men returned to Wabaunsee County. On November 7, 1856, Captain Donaldson led six armed men under his command into the courtroom of Justice of the Peace R.R. Nelson in Lecompton. He was there to rescue one of his men named Fisher who was undergoing a hearing on the charge of larceny. Donaldson took Fisher away, dismissing the court, "in a manner that would have done credit to Oliver Cromwell." An appeal was made to Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, commander of the United States Dragoons stationed near Lecompton, to put Donaldson under arrest, which he did. On November 16th, Lieutenant William Franklin delivered to Donaldson a copy of the charges and specifications against him. Donaldson called on the Governor, and, "upon his making the proper explanation and apology, the charge was dismissed, Captain Donaldson reinstated in his command, and the matter was left to the action of the civil authorities." The civil authorities apparently took no action. Instead of serving out his full four-year term as Auditor of Public Accounts, John Donaldson resigned from the office on February 20, 1857, apparently giving up on Kansas, and left the Territory. His fate after leaving Kansas is unknown. Root and Mitchell continued their work to make Kansas Territory a free state. Mitchell's farmstead in Wabaunsee County served as a station on the Underground Railroad. Root eventually became chair of the Free State Executive Committee. He moved to Wyandotte County, and following the negotiation of an exchange of prisoners with Territorial Governor Wilson Shannon, Root went back east to raise support for the Free State cause. He returned to Kansas, and was elected to the Kansas Territorial Council. After Kansas joined the Union as a Free State in 1861, Root was elected to be the first Lieutenant Governor of the new state. When the Civil War broke out across the country, he joined the 2nd Regiment of the Kansas Volunteer Cavalry as a surgeon. He eventually rose to become medical director of the Army of the Frontier. After the War, Root returned to medical practice in Kansas. Mitchell was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives for one term in 1868. That same year, he married Mary N. Chamberlain who was from Middletown, Connecticut, and eventually fathered four children with her. In 1870, Root was appointed United States Ambassador to Chile, serving in that post until 1873. He received honors from the Chilean government for his work during a smallpox epidemic there. Root returned to Wyandotte County and resumed his practice. He died in Kansas City, Kansas, on July 20, 1885. Mitchell lived the rest of his life in Wabaunsee County, dying there on March 31, 1903. In 1953, 50 acres of land three miles south of Wamego, Kansas, that were once part of Mitchell's farmstead in Wabaunsee County were bequeathed to the Kansas State Historical Society by his son, W.I Mitchell, "as a park to memorialize the famous Beecher Bible and Rifle Colony." The Historical Society agreed to develop a park and erect an historical marker there within five years. In 1956, a monument was erected on the Historical Society's land on the top of Mount Mitchell, a large hill named in honor of the Kansas pioneer and Free State advocate. The Historical Society failed to develop a park, and then in the early years of the Twenty-first Century, the organization decided to relinquish ownership of the land. The Kansas Attorney General determined that only a non-profit organization could take over ownership from the state. The Mount Mitchell Prairie Guards was formed to work for such an outcome. They partnered with Audubon of Kansas, and in April of 2006, ownership of the land was transferred to them by the State. The Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie was the result. The original Mitchell farmstead, located just north of Mount Mitchell, was also added to the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom Program as an authentic Underground Railroad Station.

(1) Henry Ward Beecher's sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, was the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, published in 1852, that became a sensation and did much to turn the opinions of the nation towards the abolitionist cause.

(2) Sharp's Rifles soon came to be known as "Beecher's Bibles."

(3) John Alden came to America on the Mayflower and was one of the founders of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. He was the object of the famous quote from his future wife, Priscilla Mullins, who, when Alden was attempting to help his friend Miles Standish woo the young woman, was reported to have said, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?"

(4) There is a question about the spelling of the Marshal's last name. The text of his commission as United States Marshal is printed in the third volume of the Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society. In that commission printed on page 228, his name is spelled "Donaldson". In the index of that volume, on page 482, his name is spelled "Donalson", without the second "d". The commission mentions that he is from Illinois, and a check of the Internet shows that in a history of Illinois published in 1889, an Israel B. "Donaldson" is noted as being a Major in the 5th Regiment (sometimes known as the 1st) of the Illinois Volunteers in the Mexican-American War, serving from June 8, 1847 to October 16, 1848. A search of Illinois Mexican-American War veterans on the Illinois State Archives website lists no Israel B. "Donaldson", but does list an Israel B. "Donalson" as first a Captain and then a Major in the 1st Illinois Regiment. In searching the online FamilySearch database that is supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, only one Israel "Donaldson" is found, appearing in the 1830 United States Census for Ohio. However, there are two entries for an Israel B. "Donalson", one appearing in the United States Census for 1830 in Kentucky, and the second appearing in the Index to Mexican War Pensioners Files as having served in the War in the 1st Illinois Infantry Regiment, and as living in Texas on May 24, 1887. The 1880 United States Census for San Marcos, Texas, enumerated on June 14, 1880, lists an "Isreal" B. "Donalson", 78 year old retired farmer born in Kentucky, as a father-in-law living in the household of Edward S. and Mary E. Northcraft, presumably his son-in-law and daughter. The Marshal's daughter Mary is listed as being 37 years old and born in Illinois, with her mother having been born in Virginia. The 1900 Census for San Marcos does not list the Marshal, so presumably he had died between 1880 and 1900. Mary is listed as having been born in July of 1841. Although most if not all secondary sources that discuss the Marshal's activities in Kansas spell his name as "Donaldson", there is strong evidence that he may have spelled it "Donalson". Not having access to any primary material that was signed by him limits the ability to determine which spelling is correct, so in effect, the two spellings of the Marshal's name are interchangeable. To sum up, the Marshall, whose last name was spelled either "Donalson" or "Donaldson", was born in Kentucky around 1802, moved to Illinois sometime after 1830 and before July 1841, fathered at least one child there in July 1841 with a woman born in Virginia, served in the Mexican-American War, came to Kansas Territory, was appointed United States Marshal there, left Kansas, and eventually settled in Texas sometime before June 1880.

(5) The flag is in the collection of the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka.

(From: John Donaldson, KansasBogusLegislature.org website; Connecticut Kansas Colony Record Book, Territorial Kansas On-Line website; The Connecticut Kansas Colony Letters Of Charles B. Lines To The New Haven (Conn.) Daily Palladium, Kansas Historical Society website; Joseph Pomeroy Root, Wikipedia website; Biographical Sketches, William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, Wabaunsee County, Part 7; Beecher Rifle Company, Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc., Standard Publishing Co, Chicago, 1912, v. I, pp. 168-169; Kansas: Its Interior and Exterior Life, by Sara T.L. Robinson, Crosby, Nichols and Company, Boston, 1856, pp. 252-255; Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society, Embracing the Third and Fourth Biennial Reports, 1883-1885: Together with …, Vol. III, Topeka, 1886, pp. 228, 482; Illinois, Historical and Statistical: Comprising … Events, Vol. 1, by John Moses, Chicago, Fergus Printing Company, 1889, p. 493; Illinois Mexican War Veterans, Illinois State Archive website; Israel Donaldson, FamilySearch website; Israel B. Donalson, FamilySearch website; 1880 U.S. Census, San Marcos, Hays County, Texas, 6/14/1880; 1900 U.S. Census, San Marcos, Hays County, Texas, 6/1/1900; David Rice Atchison, Wikipedia website; Speech, David R. Atchison to Pro-Slavery "Soldiers", May 21, 1856, Territorial Kansas On-Line website; Cool Things - Southern Rights Flag, Kansapedia, Kansas Historical Society website; J.H. Stringfellow, Speaker of the House, KansasBogusLegislature.org website; Lane's Road, Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc., Standard Publishing Co, Chicago, 1912, v. II, pp. 102-103; Bleeding Kansas, A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, Chapter XXXII, KsGenWeb website; Lanesfield, Johnson County Museum website; Early History, William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, Wyandotte County, Part 4; William Miller, Kansas Legislators Past and Present, Kansas State Library website; Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie, Wabaunsee County, Kansas, mountmitchellprairie.org website; and, The Wabaunsee County Signal-Enterprise, v. 121, no. 35 (May 11, 2006), p. 18. Published 5/13.)  Back to top of page

June 9, 1924 - "Uncle" Jimmy Green's statue unveiled - James Woods Green was born on April 4, 1842, in Cambridge, Washington County, New York. He graduated from Cambridge Washington Academy in his hometown, and then entered Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1862. He graduated from there in 1866, and then read law in Elmira, New York. He was admitted to the bar in 1869. In January of 1870, he left New York and came to Lawrence, Kansas, where he joined the law firm of Thacher and Banks. He was with the firm only a short time before moving to Olathe, Kansas, to set up practice. He was elected county attorney of Johnson County, Kansas, in 1874. In 1875, he married May Stephens, daughter of Judge Nelson T. Stephens. When Green's term as county attorney expired in 1877, he and May moved back to Lawrence. In 1878, he was elected county attorney for Douglas County. At that same time he joined the faculty of the Department of Law at the University of Kansas, and shortly became its head. While county attorney, Green began a long association with the Hillmon insurance case(1), which was eventually appealed twice to the United States Supreme Court. Prior to closing his private law office in 1885, he was a candidate for the Kansas Supreme Court, but was unsuccessful. Green was appointed as the first dean when the Department of Law became the School of Law in 1889. In 1905, the newly constructed home of the Law School was named Green Hall in honor of the man who had become known as "Uncle Jimmy" to hundreds of current and former law students. May Green died on April 16, 1916. Green's own health declined, requiring him to cut back on his activities, and he was down to teaching only one class when he died the morning of November 4, 1919, the 41st anniversary of his first day at KU. Upon hearing the news of Green's death, the Law School cancelled classes for the day. His funeral was at 2:00 p.m. on November 6th at Trinity Episcopal Church, and according to a newspaper article was "attended by all ranks and classes…". A special railroad car was chartered to bring sixty University alumni from Kansas City to Lawrence for the funeral. The University cancelled all classes for the afternoon as a sign of respect, and the Douglas County, Kansas, District Court adjourned for the funeral. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence. Green was not without detractors during his long tenure running the law program at KU. He had a number of run-ins with the University administration and the Kansas Board of Regents over how the Law School should be operated. He was accused of viewing the School “as his private fief” in which he made all the decisions on admission and curriculum standards. Green was also accused of "fostered an atmosphere of extreme clannishness among his law students", and he had declared that the Law Library and Green Hall were off limits to undergraduates. He insisted that admissions not be based on potential students "possessing a college degree, a high school diploma, or anything more than a solid understanding of the English language…." This led to frequent charges that the law program was inferior to other law schools in the country. In spite of, or perhaps because of this, in 1912, Green served on a five member committee of the National Bar Association which recommended raising the standards required of law schools and instituting reforms in admitting candidates to the Bar. But perhaps his greatest critic was Kate Stephens, sister of Green's late wife May, who apparently had little good to say about the man(2). Regardless of how others felt about Green, his "boys", as he referred to his law students, felt great affection for the man. He had " warmth, enthusiasm, wit, charm, and most important, the ability to perceive his students’ interests, problems, aspirations, and joys, in much the same way they did themselves." He championed their interests, and they responded to "Uncle Jimmy" with poems, songs, and annual banquets to celebrate his birthday. Their affection for Green became more evident soon after his death. While riding to Lawrence on the special railroad car for the funeral, a group of alumni discussed a memorial for Green. Porter Fones, who was president of the alumni association in Kansas City, suggested that a statue of Green be erected and placed outside Green Hall. His suggestion was met with great enthusiasm. When the train arrived in Lawrence, alumni members arranged for a death mask to be made of Green for use by the sculptor. A fundraising campaign calling itself the Jimmy Green Memorial Association began immediately to raise the estimated $15,000 that the project would cost. Alumni from outside the Law School joined in the campaign, showing that the popularity of "Uncle Jimmy" was not confined to law students. When his will was filed in probate court on November 10th, it was revealed that Green had left $5,000 to the University to establish the May Stephens Green Loan Fund in honor of his late wife to give loans to "…students of either sex, of the school of law and the college of the University of Kansas…." In May 1921, the University of Kansas Memorial Corporation was formed, and began the "Million Dollar Drive" to raise funds for various projects on campus to memorialize alumni who had died in the Great War, as World War I was known at the time. One of the projects chosen by the Corporation for funding was the Jimmy Green Memorial. With a funding source having been secured, members of the Jimmy Green Memorial Association looked to getting a sculptor to carry out the work. They decided that they should employ Daniel Chester French, the best American sculptor working at the time, to do the job. French was a famous sculptor with many well know works to his credit. His "Minute Man" statue installed in 1874 at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, had become an icon of the citizen soldier, appearing on the seal of the National Guard, and his marble statue of Abraham Lincoln had been installed in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1920. In January 1923, the Jimmy Green Memorial Association sent French a telegram that read, "We of the University of Kansas would like for you to create a fitting memorial for our late Dean of the Law School, James Woods Green. We have chosen you to do this statue because we believe that only the finest American sculptor would be capable of justly portraying our beloved ‘Uncle Jimmy.’" French turned down the commission. Refusing to take "no" for an answer, Green's "boys" mounted a campaign to get French to come to Kansas and see for himself the effects of Green's life on others. After being barraged for weeks by telephone calls, letters, and telegrams from all over Kansas urging him to come, French relented and agreed to make the journey to Lawrence. On his arrival, "He visited friends, former students, and neighbors of the late Dean. He heard fellow members of the faculty expound Green’s virtues. But he was most impressed by his interviews with people on the street. Everyone, without exception, expressed deep admiration for Jim Green." French was reported to have said that he had "never seen such love for a man, unless it be in the case of Abraham Lincoln." Impressed by what he had seen and heard, French accepted the commission. His fee for completing the statue was $40,000, $30,000 of which would come from proceeds of the Million Dollar Drive, and the rest from private sources. French began designing the statue. He was reported to have been so impressed by Green's relationship to his students that he included a figure of a student in the work. He purportedly used a photograph of Alfred C. Alford, the first KU graduate killed in the Spanish American War, to model the face of the student. When French was finished, the two 7 foot 7 inch tall figures of Green and the student stood side by side, the elder man's right hand on the younger man's back as if he were encouraging him. They were cast in bronze by Anton Kunst Foundry of New York. A marble pedestal for the statue was designed by French’s associate Henry Bacon and constructed by Piccirilli Brothers of New York, who had carved the Abraham Lincoln stature for French. The statue and pedestal were transported to Lawrence and installed on the KU campus along Jayhawk Boulevard in front of Green Hall. As part of the University's commencement ceremonies, the stature was unveiled and dedicated on June 9, 1924. An inscription on the pedestal read, "In Memory of James Woods Green, For Forty Years Dean of the School of Law, 1879-1919, The Students' Councilor and Friend, Erected by Those Who Love Him." Over the years, the statue would frequently be painted by pranksters, sometimes with green paint by students from the School of Engineering, rivals of the School of Law, and at other times with purple paint, by students from Kansas State University, and occasionally, a hat or scarf would appear on the head or around the neck of one the bronze men. In 1974, Green Hall was place on the National Register of Historic Places. The designation included the Jimmy Green statue. In 1977, KU dedicated a new Green Hall and moved the Law School into it. The old Green Hall was renamed Lippincott Hall. The proposal was made to move the statue to the site of new Green Hall, but after some controversy, the decision was made to leave Jimmy Green where he was. As far as is known, the Jimmy Green statue is the only life-sized, full-length statue of a faculty member on any American campus, and the only work by French in Kansas.

(1) In February 1879, John Wesley Hillmon left Lawrence, Kansas, with a companion named John H. Brown. Later, Brown appeared at a home outside Medicine Lodge, Kansas, saying that he had accidentally shot and killed Hillmon while unloading his gun. Insurance companies that had underwritten life insurance policies on Hillmon suspected fraud. They believed Hillmon and Brown had conspired together to kill a third man named Walters to collect on the insurance. Walters had reportedly sent his girlfriend a letter detailing his plans to travel with Hillmon. The insurance company suspected the body buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence that was supposedly Hillmon's was actually that of Walters, and that Hillmon was still alive. The case was tried six times and taken up by the United States Supreme Court twice. In considering Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Hillmon, 145 U.S. 285 (1892), the Court created an exception to the hearsay rule known as the Hillmon Doctrine or the "state-of-mind" exception. They ruled that statements of present state of mind are also admissible to prove that the declarant subsequently acted in accordance with that state of mind. The Court said the letter from Walters to his girlfriend should have been admitted as evidence in the case because it met this description. The legal issue was not settled until 1903. In 2006, a group of investigators, including an archeology professor from the University of Colorado, exhumed what were supposedly the remains of John Hillmon from a grave in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence, to try to determine who actually was buried there. The results were inconclusive

(2) Kate Stephens (February 27, 1853 - May 10, 1938) was the first woman to chair an academic department at the University of Kansas and the first women in the United States to chair a university department of Greek Language and Literature. She helped found the KU Alumni Association and was its first president. She was a strong supporter of Woman’s Suffrage and an associate of Susan B. Anthony. Ms. Stephens was editor for a number of publishers including Doubleday, Harpers, and Macmillan, and wrote hundreds of articles, reviews, essays, and a number of books. In response to a solicitation for a contribution to the Million Dollar Drive, which included funding for the Jimmy Green statue, Ms. Stephens wrote a long letter to the University in which she excoriated her late brother-in-law, among other things calling his lack of service in the Union Army during the Civil War into question. She had the letter published as a 31-page pamphlet which she disseminated. In 1924, she published Truths Back of the Uncle Jimmy Myth in a State University in the Middle West, in which she challenged the supposed greatness of Green.

(From: Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 63, no. 264 (November 4, 1919), p. 1; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 63, no. 265 (November 5, 1919), p. 2; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 63, no. 266 (November 6, 1919), pp. 1, 3; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 63, no. 267 (November 7, 1919), p. 1; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 63, no. 270 (November 11, 1919), p. 1; 1890 U.S. Census, Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, 6/9/1900; Dean James Woods Green Memorial "Uncle Jimmy" Green, University of Kansas Website; French’s Toast, June 9, 1924, KU History website; State of Mind: The Hillmon Case, the McGuffin, and the Supreme Court, thehillmoncase.com website; Sleuths continue digging into grave mystery, Lawrence Journal-World, May 19, 2006; Kate Stephens, The Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity website; Stephens, Kate, Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary, Edward T. James, Editor, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1971; pp. 362-363; A Letter to the University of Kansas Memorial Corporation, by Kate Stephens, Library of Congress website; Truths Back of the Uncle Jimmy Myth in a State University in the Middle West, by Kate Stephens, New York, 1924; Jimmy Green Statue, Historic Mount Oread Fund website; Daniel Chester French, Wikipedia website; North Bridge Questions, Minute Man National Historic Park, National Park Service website; Abraham Lincoln (French 1920), Wikipedia website; and, Piccirilli Brothers, Wikipedia website. Published 6/13.)  Back to top of page

July 19, 1896 - Judge Owen Abbott Bassett dies - Owen(1) Abbott Bassett was born on July 16, 1834, in Troy, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, to Samuel Kellogg and Jane Augusta (nee Bradford) Bassett. In 1837, the family moved to Hancock County, Illinois, and then two years later, moved to Lee County, Iowa Territory, eventually settling in the small community of Denmark, near Fort Madison. He received his elementary education in a school taught by his mother, and then attended Denmark Academy, a private, coeducational institution that prepared students for higher education. After leaving the Academy, Bassett studied to be a civil engineer, but soon changed to the study of law. He began working for the United States Land Office in Fort Des Moines, Iowa, in 1855, but owing to the fact that he was a Whig and didn't support the administration of President Franklin Pierce, who was a Democrat, he soon left. He formed a partnership with Stillman H. Blood and George C. Brackett to do business in the new Territory of Kansas. They did not want Kansas to allow slavery when it was admitted to the Union, and so allied themselves with the Free State cause. In the spring of 1856, Bassett and Brackett left Iowa, traveling with a party of Free State supporters. These Free State men were supposedly bringing a cannon with them, and when warned that the authorities were aware of this and would attempt to stop them, the cannon was buried near Nemaha Falls, Nebraska, to be retrieved later. Bassett and Brackett entered Kansas Territory, arriving in Leavenworth on April 5, 1856. Bassett was accosted by a mob of proslavery supporters who were intent on determining why he had come to Kansas. He spoke to the mob, and was able to talk himself out of the potentially dangerous situation. Bassett then went to Lecompton, the capitol of the Territory and the headquarters of the proslavery movement in Kansas. He attempted to secure the release of some Free State prisoners being held there, and while walking down a street, was recognized and surrounded by a proslavery mob. He had to be rescued by Joseph Campbell Anderson, a member of the Kansas Territorial Legislature, known to Free State men as the "Bogus Legislature" because of the countless irregularities surrounding its election. After getting Bassett to safety, Anderson advised him to get out of town. Bassett heeded his advice, and left for Lawrence, headquarters of the Free State movement in Kansas Territory, and began working for the Free State cause in earnest. A committee from the United States Congress was in Leavenworth, engaged in an investigation of the political troubles that were occurring in Kansas Territory, and Bassett went there to attend its sessions as a reporter for the Free State press. While there, he heard that an attack was soon going to be made on Lawrence, so he left Leavenworth and traveled back there to help defend the town. Despite his and other men's warnings, the town put up no resistance, and was sacked and burned on May 21st by a large force of proslavery men. After the sack of Lawrence, Bassett went back to Leavenworth, accompanied by Brackett, and took on the responsibility of escorting ex-Governor Andrew Reeder out of the Territory. Reeder feared reprisal from proslavery factions for things he had done as Governor. Bassett and Brackett escorted the disguised Reeder on a steamboat all the way to St. Louis, where he crossed into safety in Illinois. They returned to Kansas by way of the overland route through Iowa and Nebraska Territory, arriving in Topeka on July 4th, just in time to see the Topeka Legislature, a Free State body formed to counteract the proslavery "Bogus Legislature", forcibly dispersed by Federal troops. Back in Lawrence again on August 12, 1856, Bassett joined a Free State militia there named the "Stubbs"(2), and participated in the Second Battle of Franklin that same night. He was also with the Stubbs in an attack on Fort Saunders, a proslavery stronghold on August 15th. For a period of time he also served as Engineer and Quartermaster for the Free State army. Bassett moved to Leavenworth County, and then in December 1856, he surveyed the town site and laid out the streets for the new town of Quindaro. Quindaro was on the west bank of the Missouri River, and was known as a location where Free State men, supplies, and fugitive slaves crossed over from Missouri into Kansas Territory. Bassett apparently stayed in Quindaro at least some of the time during 1857. That summer, he was purported to have participated in the retrieval of the cannon that had earlier been buried in Nebraska for safekeeping. After it was brought to Quindaro, it was frequently fired during celebrations and on other special occasions. The cannon became known as "Lazarus," because it was buried and retrieved more than once to protect it from proslavery men and government agents. In the fall of 1857, Bassett was elected to the Territorial Legislature, and served in the special session of 1857. He took time out of his legislative duties to return to Iowa and marry Josephine Eliza Butland in New London, Iowa, on November 19, 1857. Bassett came back to Kansas and served during the regular 1858 session of the Kansas Territorial Legislature. He then relocated to Franklin County, and joined in with other Free State men in a town company to establish the town of Mineola. Bassett became secretary and surveyor for the company. For a time, he edited and published the Mineola Statesman, a newspaper originally named the Kansas Leader, which had its name changed when it was moved from Centropolis to Mineola in 1858. After a few months, the newspaper ceased publication, and Bassett moved to Lawrence in July, where two months later, Owen and Josephine became parents with the birth of Anna Gertrude Bassett on September 4, 1858. A month later, Bassett was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in Lawrence. On January 10, 1860, Anna died. Later that year, Bassett was engaged as council by the heirs of Gaius Jenkins in a rehearing of a case over disputed ownership of 160 acres of land. The other party in the case was James Henry Lane, a general in the Kansas Free State militia who was known as "The Grim Chieftain" because of his fiery temper. Lane had shot and killed Jenkins with a blast from a shotgun on June 3, 1858, when Jenkins tried to take water from a well whose ownership was the object of a long-going dispute between the two men. After the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, Bassett offed his services to the Kansas Governor, Charles Robinson. Bassett assisted in organizing the 1st Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and later was appointed bearer of dispatches from Colonel William Weer at Fort Scott, Kansas, to General Nathaniel Lyon at Springfield, Missouri. Before reaching his destination, he heard of the defeat of the Union forces in the Battle of Wilson's Creek on August 10, 1861, and the death of General Lyon during the engagement. He caught up with the retreating Union forces at Rolla, Missouri, where he delivered the dispatches he was carrying to Major Samuel Davis Sturgis, who had assumed command upon the death of Lyon. Bassett returned to Kansas by way of St. Louis, and soon afterward was appointed as first lieutenant under Dr. Joseph Pomeroy Root, who was authorized to raise a regiment of volunteer cavalry. Colonel Alson C. Davis had also received authorization to raise a regiment of volunteer cavalry, which he began doing on November 8, 1861. Organization of the unit was completed on December 26th, and it was named the 9th Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Bassett was mustered into the Regiment on January 4, 1862, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and assumed command. Command of the Regiment went to Colonel Davis when he was mustered in on January 9th, but sometime around February 20th, Colonel Davis resigned, and Bassett again assumed command. On March 15th, the Governor changed the name of the Regiment to the 2nd Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Then on March 27th, the Governor again changed the name to the 2nd Kansas Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, which it retained throughout the rest of the War. For brevity's sake, the Regiment was usually referred to as the 2nd Kansas Cavalry, or just the 2nd Kansas. Dr. Root, who had previously been appointed as Regimental Surgeon of the 2nd Kansas, claimed that the Kansas Governor had commissioned him as a colonel, and the Brigade Headquarters recognized him as such, so on May 15th, he assumed command of the Regiment from Bassett. On May 21st, it was ascertained that Dr. Root was incorrect in his assertion that he had been made a colonel, and had taken command of the 2nd Kansas without proper authority. Bassett resumed command of the Regiment, and Dr. Root resumed his duties as Regimental Surgeon. Bassett also assumed command at Fort Riley, Kansas, where the Regiment's headquarters were at the time, for as long as they were stationed there. On May 27th, Bassett received word that the Kansas Governor had sent him a commission as colonel, and the following day he made a formal request to be mustered in as such. His request was refused, with the reason that Brigadier General James Gillpatrick Blunt, commanding office of the Department of Kansas, had given instructions to the mustering officer to not muster any officer into the 2nd Kansas unless the applicant presented written permission from Department Headquarters. Bassett then made his request to Department Headquarters, but instead of promoting Bassett, Blunt assigned Colonel William F. Cloud to take command of the 2nd Kansas on June 1st, thereby replacing Bassett as commander. However, on July, 26th, Cloud was reassigned to command the First Brigade of the Indian Expedition, a force trying to reestablish pro-Union Indian refugees in Indian Territory, and Bassett again reassumed command of the Regiment. He commanded the 2nd Kansas in the Battle of Old Fort Wayne in Indian Territory on October 22nd, and led his men in an unsupported effort that captured a four-gun battery in the face of a vastly superior enemy force. He also led the Regiment in four other battles in Arkansas in 1862, the Battle of Cane Hill on November 28th, the Battle of Reed's Mountain on December 6th, the Battle of Prairie Grove on December 7th, and the Battle of Van Buren on December 28th. On May 4, 1863, Bassett was put under arrest on charges preferred by Captain Samuel Johnson Crawford, future governor of Kansas. He was relieved of command and Crawford was placed in command of the 2nd Kansas. Trial began on June 10th before a General Court Martial. Bassett was charged with misbehaving in the face of the enemy, conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline, and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Specifically, it was alleged that he had countermarched the main body of his men away from the Confederate Army while a detachment of his men was out on a reconnaissance mission to gauge the Confederate Army’s strength and position. Exactly when this was alleged to have occurred is unclear, but presumably it would have been sometime during the Regiment's most recent actions in Arkansas. The trial continued until May 20th, when the Judge Advocate asked for a continuance of 30 days. On July 26th, the General Court Martial resumed. Brigadier General John McNeil, who had recently assumed command of the District of Southwest Missouri, directed the Judge Advocate to send all the proceedings to him for examination. After examining the testimony for the prosecution, General McNeil decided that there was no evidence presented that could sustain the charges against Bassett and dissolved the General Court Martial. Bassett was released from arrest on August 6th. He was then detailed to Springfield, Missouri, to assist in a General Court Martial being held there. On November 2nd, Bassett rejoined the 2nd Kansas and resumed command. On December 5th, 1863, Bassett was moved up to command of the Third Cavalry Brigade in the Army of Arkansas, and Major Julius G. Fisk assumed command of the 2nd Kansas under him. Bassett commanded the Third Brigade in the Battle of Prairie D'Ane, fought April 9th through the 13th, and the Battle of Poison Spring, April 18th. Both were part of the April 1864 Camden Expedition in Arkansas. Upon Brigadier General John Milton Thayer resuming command of the District of the Frontier on May 16, 1864, Bassett was reassigned to duty at District Headquarters in Fort Smith, Arkansas, as Chief of Staff. While stationed in Fort Smith, he became a Freemason in December 1864. On January 17, 1865, Bassett was relieved of his duties as Chief of Staff and instructed to round up all the enlisted men who were on detached service in the various staff departments in Fort Smith, and take them to Regimental Headquarters in Clarksville, Arkansas. He did as he was instructed, and he and the men, who numbered around twenty, joined around thirty other officers and enlisted men on board the Steamboat Annie Jacobs for the trip to Clarksville. In addition to the fifty or so soldiers, there were around 200 "refugee negroes" on board. The Annie Jacobs was part of a four-boat fleet that set off together down the Arkansas River. Between the four steamboats, there were over 600 refugees and over 150 soldiers on the trip, including "about 100 colored troops". A few miles above Roseville, Arkansas, a steamboat landing on the river, the Annie Jacobs stopped to take on a fresh supply of wood. Two of the other boats stopped to do the same, but one boat went on ahead without stopping. Having replenished its supply of fuel, the Annie Jacobs set off again alone, and as she passed Roseville, the boat that had gone on ahead was seen lying along the south bank of the river some distance ahead. It quickly became apparent that it was on fire, but whether as the result of an accident or military action was at first not obvious. A large group of people could be seen on the shore, but that was not unexpected, as there had been more than 100 refugees on board the boat. The Annie Jacobs picked up speed, and when it was within a half mile of the burning boat, a large force of rebels came into view who were in possession of two pieces of artillery, which opened fire on the Annie Jacobs. Following the channel of the river would have forced the steamboat to pass directly in front of the battery of artillery firing at it, and the odds of making it past the battery without being sunk were not good. Turning the steamboat around and attempting to make the north bank would give the passengers a good chance to escape destruction or capture. The Annie Jacobs was a stern-wheel boat, which was less maneuverable than side-wheel steamboats, so by the time they had managed to turn her around, she had drifted to less than a quarter mile from the artillery battery. Despite one shell exploding in the furnace and two in the engine room, the Annie Jacobs continued to steam toward the north bank. A third shell in the engine room disable the boat, but she had gained sufficient headway to run aground on the sand along the north bank. When she struck, a cable was thrown out and tied to a tree on the shore, and a few moments later everyone on board had made it to dry land. Over forty shots were fired at the Annie Jacobs, twenty-three passing into or through her and seven exploding on board. With all that, only one person sustained any injuries, "although many were very much terrified." That man was Vincent Osborne, a private in company A, of the 2nd Kansas Cavalry, who had helped carry the cable to tie the boat to the tree on the bank. A volley of musketry from the rebels on the south bank caused all the other men to duck for cover, but Osborne continued to make the cable fast to the tree, and as he was completing the job of securing it, a musket ball passed through his right thigh, breaking the bone, which resulted in the amputation of his leg. Just as all the passengers on the Annie Jacobs had disembarked, one of the two remaining steamboats in the fleet came around the bend upriver under a full head of steam. The rebels abandoned the shelling of the Annie Jacobs and concentrated all their efforts on the new target. One of the pieces of artillery became disabled, and the steamboat was able to run her prow into a sand bar just above where the Annie Jacobs was tied. In contrast to the Annie Jacobs, the third boat was hit by only five shots with one exploding on her, but seven people were killed and a number wounded. Just when the rebels ceased fire and withdrew is not recorded, but with only one piece of artillery still operational, and a lack of knowledge of how many Union troops they were up against or how many more boats there were in the fleet, they likely withdrew soon after the third boat landed. The fourth boat in the fleet had run aground on a sandbar several miles upriver, and so did not get down to the scene of the action until the next morning. The three intact boats stayed at the scene of the attack for two days before proceeding down the river, eventually stopping at Little Rock. Bassett reported to Department Headquarters, and as his term of service had expired, he was mustered out of the service on January 26, 1865. He returned to Lawrence, and took up his law practice again. He mainly prosecuted claims against the Government that resulted from the War. Bassett also became very active in Freemason activities. On August 2, 1866, Josephine gave birth to Mary Viele Bassett. In 1868, Bassett was nominated by the Republican Party for district judge in Douglas County, and won in the November election, taking office in January 1869. On October 21, 1870, Thomas Butland Bassett was born. Judge Bassett stood for reelection in 1872, and won with little opposition. Frederick Leonard Bassett was born on May 19, 1873, and Josephine Edson Bassett was born on September 28, 1875, thereby completing the Bassett Family. Judge Bassett participated in the organization of the Kansas State Judicial Association, and in January 1876, he was chosen as its first presiding officer. In spite of strong urgings for him to do so, Judge Bassett declined to run again in 1876, and left office in January 1877. He continued his association with the Freemasons, and held almost every office available to him. Judge Bassett died in Ellsworth, Kansas, on July 19, 1896, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence. Today his portrait adorns the wall outside of the Division V Courtroom in the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center in Lawrence.

(1) The record of Bassett's family in the 1850 U.S. Census for Lee County, Iowa, notes an Oliver Bassett who is 16 years old, the correct age for someone born in 1834, but no Owen Bassett. Either the person enumerating the census misunderstood Owen's name as Oliver and recorded it incorrectly, or Owen was originally named Oliver and changed his name later.

(2) The militia had been formed on April 16, 1855, in the wake of the "Bogus" territorial election, to defend the rights of those in Kansas Territory who opposed slavery. The organization had originally been called the "Kansas Rifles no. 1," but had changed its name to the "Stubbs" because so many of its members were short in stature.

(From: Owen Abbott Bassett, 1834 - 1896, Bassett Family Association website; 1850 U.S. Census, Lee County, Iowa, 9/12/1850; William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, Douglas County, Part 15, Biographical Sketches (Abdelal - Bayless); The Stubbs, by Martha B. Caldwell, Kansas Historical Quarterly, v. 6, no. 2 (May 1937), pp. 124-131; Annals of Quindaro: A Kansas Ghost Town, by Alan W. Farley, Kansas Historical Quarterly, v. 22, n. 4 (Winter 1956), pp. 305-320; Quindaro and Western University, Kansas City Kansas Community College website; Centropolis Township Created 1855, Franklin County, Kansas, Historical Portal website; Battle of Wilson's Creek, Wikipedia website; The 2nd Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, Museum of the Kansas National Guard website; 2nd Regiment Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, Wikipedia website; 0683 File #48 Bassett, Owen A., Lieut. Col. [July 1862 and May–June 1863], A Guide to the Microfilm Edition of Civil War Research Collections, Military Discipline during the Civil War, Courts-Martial Case Files from the Records of the Judge Advocate General, by Daniel Lewis, Bethesda, Maryland, LexisNexis, pp. 16, 17; and, LTC Owen Abbott Bassett, Find a Grave website. Published 7/13.)  Back to top of page

August 21, 1863 - William Clarke Quantrill leads an attack on Lawrence, Kansas - In the aftermath of the Confederate victory in the Battle of Wilson's Creek, fought near Springfield, Missouri, on August 10, 1861, General Sterling Price of the Missouri State Guard began an initiative to clean out Union opposition in Kansas and Missouri. To counteract this, James Henry Lane led an irregular military unit of pro-Union men into Missouri. Lane had been a general in the Free State militia during the conflict along the Kansas-Missouri boarder prior to the general outbreak of civil war. He had a fiery temper, and had become known as "The Grim Chieftain" because of this. The men he led into Missouri were known as "Jayhawkers." Lane's campaign culminated with a raid on Osceola, Missouri, on September 23, 1861. In Osceola, "Lane's forces drove off a small Southern force and then looted and burned the town. An artillery battery … shelled the St. Clair County courthouse. According to reports, many of the Kansans got so drunk that when it came time to leave they were unable to march and had to ride in wagons and carriages. They carried off with them a tremendous load of plunder, including … 350 horses and 200 slaves, 400 cattle, 3,000 bags of flour, and quantities of supplies from all the town shops and stores…." "…Lane's personal share [was reported to include] a piano and a quantity of silk dresses." In addition to the plunder, nine local men were rounded up and brought before Lane. He gave them a quick drumhead trial, and then had them executed. All but three of the 800 buildings in town were burned before Lane and his men left. Lane received severe criticism for his actions in Osceola. The harshest criticism came from General Henry Halleck, Commander of the Department of Missouri, who stated that, "The course pursued by those under Lane and Jennison [another Jayhawker commander] has turned against us many thousands who were formerly Union men. A few more such raids will make this State unanimous against us." By 1863, raids in Kansas and Missouri by Confederate guerillas were becoming more and more of a problem for Union commanders in the area. After a raid, the guerillas would seem to vanish into the Missouri countryside, making it nearly impossible for the pursuing troops to catch and destroy them. It was widely known that many in the local population in Missouri, frequently members of the raiders' families, were aiding the guerillas. To attempt to curb this, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, Commander of the District of the Boarder, ordered the rounding up of family members of some of the men in the guerilla band led by William Clarke Quantrill. Quantrill was the best known and most feared of the Confederate guerilla leaders, and so was at the top of Ewing's list. A number of the women relatives rounded up on the General's orders were imprisoned in a makeshift jail in Kansas City, Missouri. The jail was on the second floor of a three-story structure known as the Thomas Building. The first floor was occupied by a Jewish grocer and the third floor was vacant. The adjoining building was being used as a guard house, and for some reason, Union soldiers began to open up a passageway between the two buildings. The work was apparently undermining the structural integrity of the Thomas Building, and large cracks began appearing in the walls and ceilings. The grocers noticed this and moved out of the building. Cracks were also forming in the jail on the second floor, and loud groaning noises could be heard coming from the wood beams. The provost marshal, the captain of the guards, and a military surgeon all notified Ewing that the Thomas Building was unsafe, but two inspectors that the General sent in to check on it reported that the structure was safe. On the morning of August 13, 1863, the Thomas Building collapsed. There were 10(1) women between the ages of 13 and 20 in the building at the time, and four died immediately. Most of the rest were severely injured, and one of them soon died as a result of her injuries. One of the dead was the fourteen-year-old sister of Bill Anderson, now known as "Bloody Bill," who rode with Quantrill. Anderson's thirteen-year-old sister also sustained severe injuries. Word went out through the ranks of the guerillas that the building was undermined on purpose so it would collapse and kill their women relatives. Quantrill had long wanted to raid Lawrence, Kansas. He had lived in Lawrence for a time before the outbreak of the War, and had ill feelings for the town. There was also the desire to punish Lawrence for its role as the headquarters of the Free State movement that had led to Kansas becoming a Free State when it was admitted to the Union on January 29, 1861. Lane lived in Lawrence, and the belief among the Confederate guerillas was that all the plunder from his raids into Missouri, including the one on Osceola, had been brought back there. The deaths of the women relatives of Quantrill's men in the collapse of the jail on the 13th turned that desire for punishment into a desire for bloody revenge. Around first light on August 21, 1863, Quantrill led over 400 men in an attack on Lawrence. Not all the men riding with Quantrill were out for revenge, but the majority of them were, and they proceeded to kill, pillage, and burn. The cry of "Remember Osceola" was heard. Before the raiders finally left town around 9:00 a.m., nearly 200 unarmed men and boys were dead, 80 women had been made widows, and 250 children had lost their fathers. Among the dead were three attorneys, Louis Carpenter, Simeon M. Thorp, and Samuel A. Young. Thorpe was serving as State Senator at the time, and Carpenter was serving as Reporter for the Kansas Supreme Court after having been Probate Judge for Douglas County, Kansas. The man the raiders most wanted to get, James Lane, managed to hide in a cornfield and escape detection. After the raiders left, Lane mounted a pursuit, and joined by a number of civilians and military units, chased Quantrill and his men back to Missouri, killing a number of them during several engagements. In retaliation for the "Lawrence Massacre," Ewing determined to make it impossible for Confederate guerillas to take advantage of their family connections and hiding places in Missouri. Just four days after the raid, on August 25, 1863, he issued General Order No. 11 that commanded the expulsion of all residents from Bates, Cass, Jackson, and part of Vernon Counties in Missouri. The only residents spared from expulsion were those who would sign a loyalty oath to the Union, and they still had to leave their homes and move to one of the urban areas controlled by Union forces. This all had to be carried out by September 9th. Anything left behind, including crops and buildings, was to be destroyed. For a long time after, the only thing a traveler would see in the four county area was scorched stone chimneys standing where the homesteads of departed residents used to be. Forever after this area became known as "The Burnt District." After the raid, there was a question whether Lawrence would be able to recover from the severe blow it had received from Quantrill and his men, but within a few years after the end of the War, it developed a thriving economy. The future success of Lawrence was secured when the University of Kansas was founded there in 1865. It took many years after the War for the Burnt District to begin to come back from the utter devastation that was wrought upon it, and Osceola never recovered from Lane's visit, remaining a small town to this day.

(1) Some sources say 11.

(From: Sacking of Osceola, Wikipedia website; James Henry Lane (Union general), Wikipedia website; The Un-Civil War in Missouri: The Plan For Vengeance, Southern Heritage 411.Com website; 1808 - 1908, Centennial History of the Town of Nunda: With … Our Revolutionary Forefathers, Edited by H. Wells Hand, Rochester Herald Press, [Rochester, N.Y.], 1908, p. 386; A History of Lawrence from the earliest settlement to the close of the rebellion, by Richard Cordley, E. F. Caldwell, Lawrence, Kansas, 1895, p. 30; and, General Order No. 11 (1863), Wikipedia website. Published 8/13.)  Back to top of page

September 5, 1871 - Dr. March precipitates "A Horrible Tragedy" - Edwin E. March was born on August 27, 1836, in Alabama, probably near Tuscaloosa, to Thomas C. and Anna(1) D. March. By 1850, the family was living in Panola County, Mississippi, and had grown to include Thomas, his wife Anna, his older son Edwin, his daughter Augusta, and his younger son Edward. The elder March was listed in the Slave Schedule of the 1850 United States Census as owning 33 slaves. With his having been born in Maine, the fact that Thomas was living in the South and owing slaves might seem odd, but his wife Anna was from South Carolina, so it is entirely possible that slave ownership had come with her from her family. The family did not remain in Mississippi, and moved to Ohio in the latter part of the 1850s. Edwin had relocated to Ohio sometime before September 15, 1857, when on that day he married Adelia Louisa Chesnut, or Chestnut, who apparently went by Louisa, in Pike County, Ohio. Sometime in 1858, Louisa gave birth to a son, who the couple named William. During this time, Edwin(2) was working as a bookseller. The 1860 US Census shows that Thomas, Anna, and their other two children, Augusta and Edward, had taken up residence in Ross County, Ohio, a neighboring county to Pike County, where Edwin and his family were living. It is not known if Edwin had come to Ohio with his father and the rest of the family, or if they had come at different times, but it would not have been uncommon that as eldest child in the family, Edwin would have been the first to strike out on his own. The only thing that is known is that by 1860, they were all living in Ohio. Thomas, Anna, and the two children apparently did not have a place of their own after arriving in Ohio, as they were residing in what appears to have been a large boarding house in Ross County. There is also an indication that Anna and her daughter Augusta were living separately from Thomas and Edward for part of the year. Edwin, Louisa, and William were living separately in neighboring Pike County. Something significant must have happened between 1850, when Thomas owned 33 slaves in Mississippi, and 1860, when the family was living in boarding houses in Ohio, to change the family's fortunes. There is no indication of what that might have been. Perhaps they had lost everything in the Panic of 1857, or perhaps the growing animosity to "Yankees" in the South prior to the Civil War had compelled Thomas to sell out and move the family. The latter may be more likely, as the 1860 Census noted that Thomas' younger son Edward had $10,000 of personal property. Whatever it was that caused them to leave Mississippi, the reason that they came to Ohio likely rests in the fact that Thomas' brother Daniel had been living there for at least 20 years, and was well established with a wife and eleven children. How Thomas and the rest of his family fared during the 1860s is not known, but what is known is that Edwin suffered from what was later described by his mother as "spells of despondency," and was an inmate in the Pennsylvania Asylum for the Insane in Philadelphia on two separate occasions. Despite all his problems, Edwin had become a dentist, and on February 27, 1864, Edwin and Louisa had a second child, a girl named Annie(3). Sometime prior to July 1870, the extended March family, including Thomas, Anna, Edwin, Louisa, their two children, and David's son Marcus relocated to Kansas. The 1870 United States Census for Douglas County, Kansas, records them all living together in Eudora Township, along the main road between Eudora and Lawrence. Apparently, Augusta and her younger brother Edward had not accompanied the family to Kansas, likely having struck out on their own when they came of age. If the family had been on hard times in 1860, their financial situation had improved significantly, as the 1870 US Census indicates that Thomas owned real estate worth $33,400, and personal property worth $5,000. The combined total of $38,400 in 1870 dollars is equivalent to almost $700,000 in today's money. Edwin practiced his dentistry in Lawrence at several different times, but his emotional problems apparently interfered with him being successful. It was observed that, "He has long been known to be partially insane, but nothing dangerous was ever manifested during his insane spells." It was later revealed that he had frequently told his mother that he was afraid he would have to drown himself, and that he was afraid he could commit a murder. Sometime in 1871, Louisa, Annie, and William had become ill, and by the end of August, they had "all been sick for some time, and the Doctor [Edwin](4) has appeared much depressed in spirits in consequence of it." Then on Wednesday, August 30th, Edwin's father, Thomas March, died, "and the Doctor took his death very much to heart." On the following Monday, September 4th, Anna tried to get her son Edwin to do something for her but could not get him to do it. Later that day, he came to her bed, took her by the hand, and, after looking at her for some time, said, "Mother, I have to try and not be quick about doing anything, to keep a spell off of me." The next afternoon, Tuesday, September 5th, Mary Watkins, a friend of the family, had stopped by for a visit. She was in all likelihood there to assist the family in its time of bereavement. At around 5:00 p.m., Anna was sitting in the front room of the house and Marcus was out working in the barn. William was feeling better that day and had gone out for a walk. Mary was helping get supper. At about 5:30, she entered a room adjoining the kitchen that was being used as a bedroom by Edwin and Louisa. She observed Edwin sitting beside Louisa and Annie, who were apparently fast asleep, fanning them. Mary then went into the kitchen and began setting the table for supper. She had not been in the kitchen more than five minutes when she heard what she later reported as a gurgling sound, as if someone were choking in the room she had just recently left. She went back into the room and saw blood all over the bed, and Edwin lying on the floor with his head over a pan. She ran out of the house towards the barn, where Marcus was working. When she reached him, she said "in a very excited state of mind" that "the Doctor was bleeding to death." Marcus dropped everything and went immediately to the house. Anna had also heard a noise from where she was sitting in the front room, which she took for the sound of someone vomiting in Edwin and Louisa's bedroom, and thinking that someone was sick, she went in and saw Edwin on the floor with his head partially under the bed and over a pan. She went over to where he lay, presumably from behind him, and placed her hand on his forehead to support him. She looked on the bed and saw Annie lying near the foot and covered with blood. She was so frightened that she dropped Edwin's head and left the room, also in search of Marcus.(5) When Marcus entered the house after being alerted by Mary, he went straight to the bedroom and found Edwin bleeding from a wound in the neck, and Louisa and Annie lying on the bed. He reported that he was so shocked that he could not enter the room, and went into the front room instead. Dr. James M. Still was summoned from his home in Eudora. He later reported that Edwin, Louisa, and Annie had all died of cuts to the throat with a sharp implement, probably a blood covered razor which was found near Edwin in the room. Word quickly spread, and neighbors came in from all around. One of them, William Hughes, went to Lawrence, and alerted the coroner and the newspaper. A reported for the Lawrence Republican Daily Journal arrived at the March's about 10:00 p.m. The newspaper later reported that, "His neighbors all unite in the statement that he was universally kind and affectionate toward his wife and children, and that he was apparently much loved by them. No quarrel of any kind had taken place in the house, to their knowledge. … We have rarely been called upon to chronicle such a terribly shocking occurrence. It is one of the most fearful tragedies that has ever befallen our community." The coroner was contacted, and a coroner's jury was impaneled at 8:00 a.m. the following morning, September 6th. After hearing testimony from Marcus, Anna, Mary Watkins, and Dr. Still, the jury found that Louisa and Annie had had their throats cut by Edwin, who then cut his own throat. The three were buried that same afternoon alongside Thomas in the family plot in Oak Hill Cemetery(6) in Lawrence. The story was notorious enough to make national news, with an article on it appearing in the September 10, 1871, edition of the New York Times.

(1) Some census records have her name as Anna, while others have it as Ann.

(2) The 1860 census record has his name as Edward and that he was from New York. Why these discrepancies? It appears that Edwin, Louisa, and William were residing in a boarding house. The census taker may have received the information that is recorded in the census from the owner of the house, who may not have known his tenants very well, and had made an error in supplying Edwin's name. Why is his birthplace recorded as New York when he was born in Alabama? Perhaps another error on the part of the owner of the house, or perhaps, in the year before the outbreak of the Civil War, southerners, especially those from the deep South, were not looked upon with favor by the residents of the free state of Ohio, and Edwin did not want his origins in a slave state to be known to them.

(3) Annie was sometimes referred to as Anna.

(4) Edwin was frequently referred to as "The Doctor."

(5) Mary Watkins and Anna must have just missed running into each other in the bedroom. The bedroom must have had two doors, one accessible from the kitchen, which Mary used, and one accessible from the front room, which Anna used. If there had been only one door into the bedroom that both women would have needed to use, then it would have been nearly impossible for them to have not encountered each other. It is not reported as to which one of the two women was the first to discover the tragedy, but whichever one was first, she did not cry out, as neither woman mentioned hearing anything like a cry coming from the bedroom. The likely scenario is that Mary, a younger woman who was already on her feet in the kitchen setting the table for supper, would have been able to quickly go into the bedroom upon hearing what she described as a gurgling sound, and so be the first to find the bodies. She must have been able to see the bleeding wound in Edwin's neck from her vantage point in the doorway to the kitchen, as Marcus reported that she had said that Edwin was bleeding to death when she located Marcus in the barn. After discovering the bodies, Mary would have left the bedroom and gone back into the kitchen by the same door she came in, and would have then exited the house by the nearest door, in this case the outside kitchen door, in search of Marcus. Anna, a woman in her sixties, was seated in the front room, possibly half asleep in the late afternoon heat of an early September day, or thinking about the husband she had lost less than a week before. She would have been much slower to react to the sounds coming from the bedroom, which she thought were caused by someone vomiting, and would have taken enough time getting to her feet and walking to the bedroom to have allowed Mary time to discover the bodies and exit the bedroom. Anna would have come into the bedroom by the door closest to the front room. She must have been behind Edwin, and not been able to see the front of his neck from her vantage point in the doorway to the front room. She would then have been able to put her hand on his forehead from behind without seeing the wound in his neck. When she saw Annie's body on the bed and dropped Edwin's head, she would have left the bedroom and gone back into the front room by the door she had come in. She would have then exited the house by the nearest door, in this case the front door, in search of Marcus.

(6) The graves are marked by a monument in Oak Hill Cemetery on which are inscribed the names and dates of Thomas, Edwin, Louisa, and Annie. The monument has Louisa's name inscribed as "Lydia L. March." No record of a Lydia has been found anywhere in the history of Thomas March's family, so this must be a case of the stone mason who carved the monument somehow confusing her actual first name, Adelia, with Lydia. In addition, the monument records Edwin, Louisa, and Annie's death dates as September 6th. The September 6th edition of the Lawrence Republican Daily Journal clearly states that the murder/suicide occurred late the previous evening, so the three definitely died on the 5th. The 6th was the date of the coroner's inquest, so one possible reason for the discrepancy may be that the date of the coroner's verdict was considered to be the official day that they died, and so the monument records this instead of the actual one. There is also the possibility that the stonemason made another error. The cemetery records show a Mary March, whose death date is also noted as September 5, 1871, was buried alongside the others in the March family plot. She has a separate headstone whose inscription reads "Mary 1845-1900," with no last name given. The inscription shows that the cemetery record showing her death date being in 1871 is wrong, and so must be an error in recordkeeping by the cemetery. Who is this Mary who is buried alongside the March family? There is no record of anyone named Mary in Thomas March's family, so who could she be? Could this actually be Mary Watkins, who was a good friend of the March family and was in the house at the time of the tragedy, and who afterwards became like a daughter to Anna and was buried in the family plot? Given the fact that the cemetery records are wrong on her death date by nearly thirty years, it is not inconceivable that they are also wrong on her last name. Regardless, her true identity is unknown.

(From: 1850 U.S. Census, District 13, Panola County, Mississippi, 10/24/1850; 1840 U.S. Census, Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama; Thomas C. March, "United States Census (Slave Schedule), 1850", District 13, Panola County, Mississippi, 9/26/1850; Edwin E March, "Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994", FamilySearch website; 1860 U.S. Census, Chillicothe, Ross County, Ohio, 6/26/1860; Panic of 1857, Wikipedia website; Lawrence Republican Daily Journal, v. 3, no. 159 (September 6, 1871), p. 3; Lawrence Republican Daily Journal, v. 3, no. 160 (September 7, 1871), p. 3; 1860 U.S. Census, Town of Piketon, Seal Township, Pike County, Ohio, 6/11/1860; 1860 U.S. Census, Town of Piketon, Seal Township, Pike County, Ohio, 6/14/1860; 1860 U.S. Census, Town of Piketon, Seal Township, Pike County, Ohio, 6/16/1860; 1870 U.S. Census, Eudora Township, Douglas County, Kansas, 7/20/1870; March Thomas, Lawrence Cemetery Interactive Map, City of Lawrence website; and, New York Times, September 10, 1871. Published 9/13.)  Back to top of page

October 24, 1957 - Johnnie Rae Washington shoots her new husband nine times - George Washington was born in Virginia in 1840. He married a woman whose name is unknown, who was born in Missouri no later than the early 1850s. Given the time and location of their births, there is all likelihood that they were both born as slaves. They were parents of at least four children, Henry, born August 1870, Lewis, born July 1874, Albert, born January 1879, and Mary, born September 1885, and who, according to census records, were all born in Kansas. Exactly when Washington and his wife came to Kansas, and whether they were married before coming there or met after their arrival is not known. Since their eldest son was born there in August 1870, it is obvious that they were together in Kansas prior to that. Kansas itself had been born out of the struggle over slavery that had culminated in the Civil War, and because it had been a hotbed of antislavery sentiment prior to and during the War, many ex-slaves moved there after the War ended with the hope of finding freedom. Washington and his wife were likely two such migrants. Washington's wife apparently died not too long after their daughter Mary was born, as census records indicate that sometime in 1889, Washington married a woman named Julia, who was born in Kentucky in September 1861. Census records also show that by 1900, the Washingtons were farmers living in Clinton Township in Douglas County, in an area where a number of other Black families farmed, many of whom were likely also ex-slaves. George's son Albert married a woman named Lavetta(1), last name unknown, sometime before 1908, the year their first child was born. Albert and Lavetta eventually had a large family of at least ten children. Their third child was a boy born in 1913 who they named George Howard Washington. He lived with his parent's family on their farm until 1930, when things began to go wrong in the young Washington's life. He had dropped out of high school after two years, and on December 8, 1930, he passed a forged check for $6.75. He was arrested and charged with second degree forgery. On February 2, 1931, Washington pled guilty, and four days later was sentenced to an unspecified term in the Kansas State Industrial Reformatory in Hutchinson, Kansas. He must have been released from the Reformatory sometime after his 18th birthday, as he was arrested again in 1933 on charges of violating the liquor control act. If he was convicted on this charge, he must not have spent much time in prison, as he was free to be arrested twice for vagrancy, once in 1935 and once in 1937. Sometime during this period, his name was linked to two separate assault and battery cases. In one, he was reported to have "cut up a girl in Lawrence, Kansas,…by the name of Marie Hampton, and after this act left the State so that he was never tried for this cutting." Washington eventually returned to Lawrence, where he was reported to be a "pretty bad…boy," and that "the colored people around Lawrence are afraid of him." At some time he acquired a wife, Ernestine Elsie Washington, with whom he fathered three children. The local Welfare Office was reported to have had trouble with Washington, "because he wouldn't work," and partly through their efforts he was induced to join the military. On April 8, 1944, Washington enlisted in the United States Army at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. On his enlistment papers, his civilian occupation was categorized as unskilled construction occupations. After training, he was sent overseas and served in the European Theater during the remainder of World War II. He was mustered out of the Army around February 1946, and returned to Lawrence. Early in the morning of April 14 that year, Washington's wife Ernestine was driven to the office of the Wright Brothers Taxicab Company at 735 New Hampshire Street by William "Bill" Nelson, a cab driver who worked for the company. Washington went looking for his wife, and brought along a large butcher knife. He arrived at the cab company office around 2:30 a.m., and although the door was locked, he was admitted. Washington's wife Ernestine, Nelson, another driver, and a woman telephone operator were inside the office. Washington attacked Nelson, stabbing him in the chest with the butcher knife. The wounded Nelson ran from the building. Ernestine came at her husband with a small paring knife. Washington stabbed her in the center of the chest with the butcher knife, killing her instantly. He then left the building, walked to the police station, and turned himself in, telling the desk attendant what had happened. Nelson was found at the home of a friend soon after the incident and was taken to the hospital for emergency treatment. He left, but returned later for further treatment. He had suffered a collapsed lung, but recovered from the wound. Washington was held in jail without bond on the charge of first degree murder of his wife, and on $2,500 bond on the charge of assault with intent to kill in the attack on Nelson. Trial began in Douglas County, Kansas, District Court at 9:50 a.m. on May 14, 1946, in front of Judge Hugh Means. The State argued that the killing was premeditated, and the defense argued that it was done in self-defense. The case went to the jury at 2:40 p.m. that same day. Deliberation was recessed at 6:00 p.m., and recommenced at 9:00 a.m. on the 15th. At 11:00 a.m., the jury came back with a verdict of guilty of second-degree murder. The defense immediately filed for a new trial. On May 18th, Judge Means found that there were no grounds for a new trial for Washington, and then sentenced him to 27 years at hard labor in the Kansas State Penitentiary. Two days later, Robert Oyler, the county attorney, sent the Warden of the State Penitentiary his impressions of Washington, advising him of Washington's history of run-ins with the law. Washington was not tried for the assault on Nelson, but Oyler decided not to dismiss the charges in case future events warranted prosecution. On November 23, 1954, Washington's sentence was commuted from 27 years to 14 to 27 years. On June 5, 1956, Washington was granted parole, and after his release, he returned to Lawrence. He was hired by Gomez Hamilton to repair the roof on 1331 New York Street in Lawrence. As he worked, he noticed the residents of the neighboring house to the south, 1333 New York Street. That house was owned by Johnnie Rae(2) Hamilton, who lived there with her son Bruce Starks, Bruce's wife Kellma, and their baby daughter Stacey. Johnnie was born on July 15, 1917, in Kerns, Texas, to John and Lula Fields Starks. She moved to Lawrence in 1950, and found work as a cook in a fraternity at the University of Kansas. She married Theodore "Ham" Hamilton, Gomez's eldest brother, and lived with him in his house at 1333 New York Street until he died in 1955. Hamilton owned a number of properties in the 1300 block of New York Street, and Johnnie inherited all of them. Many of them were rentals, and she did not want to be responsible for all the trouble that managing rentals would entail, so she sold all of them except 1333 New York to Gomez, including the house that Washington was later hired to work on. Johnnie was an attractive young woman in her late 30s with a good job, money in the bank from the sale of the properties to Gomez, and owner of a fine house on a big lot. Washington was apparently attracted to this, and he soon began trying to establish a relationship with Johnnie. Having a relationship with Washington may not have been welcomed by her, and his pursuit was definitely not pleasant for her, as he was abusive. She later reported that when he came to visit her he would "beat me." He began pressuring her to marry him, eventually threating to kill her if she did not. He had told Johnnie of his criminal record, so she said that she believed him capable of carrying out his threats. They married on September 7, 1957, and Washington moved in with Johnnie and her family. The marriage did not stop Washington's abuse, and he continued to beat and threaten her. She later recounted that, "I told him let's stay apart if we can't get along. He said nobody run out on him, and if I tried it he'd kill me. And had told me if a woman ever turns me into the police, she might as well dig her own grave first." Around the first of October, Johnnie bought a nine-shot .22-caliber Harrington and Richardson revolver and two boxes of ammunition, "to protect myself." She went out into the country and practiced firing the weapon. One area of contention between the newlyweds was Johnnie's son and his family. Washington did not want her son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter living with them, and tried to get her to have them move out. On Thursday afternoon, October 24, 1957, Johnnie and her daughter-in-law Kellma went downtown. When they returned, Washington demanded to know where they had been. He pulled a switchblade knife out of his pocket and began pushing and choking Johnnie, all the while cursing her. He reportedly told her that he would kill her. Washington paused in his assault for a short time, and then began again, first by slapping her three times, and then resuming his choking of her. This apparently was occurring in the second floor bedroom that Johnnie shared with Washington. He eventually stopped chocking her, and when he did, she asked if she could leave the room. He consented, and she quickly went to her daughter-in-law's room where she retrieved the .22 revolver from a drawer. She immediately went back into the bedroom where she found Washington lying on the bed. Johnnie aimed and fired at him, the bullet striking him in the chest. He fell off the side of the bed, and said "Johnnie, you've killed me." She continued to fire at Washington, emptying all nine chambers into him. He died almost immediately. The authorities were called and the police arrived. County Coroner Byron W. Walters examined Washington and reported that all nine bullets had entered his body. Johnnie recounted to police all the abuse and threats that Washington had inflicted upon her, and how she had feared for her life. She said that he had never pulled a knife on her before that day, and she believed that Washington would kill her if she didn't kill him first. She was arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder and jailed without bond. Johnnie's trial in Douglas County District Court began on December 2, 1957, presided over by Judge Frank R. Gray. Johnnie plead self-defense, and her attorney pointed out the continued abuse and threats that she had received from Washington. The case went to the jury on the 3rd, with deliberation continuing past 5:00 p.m. The jury returned a verdict later that evening. They had considered first-degree murder with the death penalty, first-degree murder with life in prison, second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter, and third-degree manslaughter, but they found Johnnie not guilty on all charges. The testimony by the witnesses for the defense must have been compelling to have had a Black woman be acquitted on all charges after having shot her husband nine times, in an era of significant racism and decades before the Battered Woman Defense became widely accepted. In spite of all the notoriety surrounding the killing of Washington, Johnnie was able to go back to a more normal life after her acquittal. She married Calvin "Jack" Gillum in 1961, and continued to work as a cook at the University until she retired in 1970. Gillum died on April 21, 1972, and Johnnie never remarried. She lived the rest of her life in her house at 1333 New York Street. She died on September 7, 1991, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence.

(1) One source has the name as Cavetta, but this is the result of misinterpreting the first letter in her name as a "C" instead of as the correct letter "L."

(2) Some sources spell it "Ray."

(From: 1900 U.S. Census, Clinton Township, Douglas County, Kansas, 6/20/1900; 1920 U.S. Census, Clinton Township, Douglas County, Kansas, 1/12/1920; State of Kansas vs. Johnnie Rae Washington, Case no. 4576, Douglas County, Kansas, District Court Records; 1930 U.S. Census, Clinton Township, Douglas County, Kansas; Official Statement by the County Attorney to the Warden of the Kansas State Penitentiary, May 26, 1946, by Robert B. Oyler; George H Washington, "United States World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946", FamilySearch website; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 90, no. 90 (April 15, 1946), p. 1; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 90, no. 115 (May 14, 1946), p. 1; State of Kansas vs. George H. Washington, Case no. 3962, Douglas County, Kansas, District Court Records; Unpublished research by Shannon Hodges; Lawrence Journal-World, v. 133 no. 252 (September 9, 1991), p. 11A; Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 99, no. 256 (October 25, 1957), pp. 1 and 2; State of Kansas vs. Johnnie Rae Washington, Case no. 4576, Douglas County, Kansas, District Court Records; and, Lawrence Daily Journal-World, v. 99, no. 290 (December 4, 1957), p. 1. Published 10/13.)  Back to top of page

November 10, 1892 - Thirty-four Baker University students are arrested for giving the college yell in the streets of Baldwin City, Kansas - In January 1854, a bill was introduced in the United States Senate to create and open up to white settlement the new Territory of Kansas in the previously unorganized land west of Missouri. By late spring, it appeared that the Kansas-Nebraska Act, as the bill was called, would likely pass. This prompted Lucius Kibbee to move his wife and four children from their home in Iowa to settle in the new territory. They arrived in May, some days prior to Kansas Territory being officially opened to white settlement. He staked out a claim in what would eventually be southeastern Douglas County, approximately a half mile west of the western boundary of the Shawnee Indian Reserve lands and five miles north of the northern boundary of the Ottawa Indian lands. Kibbee began building a cabin to house himself and his family. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was signed into law by President Franklin Pierce on May 30, 1854, opening up the newly established Territory of Kansas to legal white settlement. Soon, other settlers joined the Kibbees, and they began to organize a town. Kibbee was involved in a shooting on November 29, 1854, in which a man was killed. Kibbee was arrested, and released on bond. He appeared for trial but the judge did not, so Kibbee took his family and left Kansas. Despite losing the first settler in the area, a town site was surveyed and platted. A number of buildings were constructed and businesses opened in the new town that was named Palmyra. A post office was established there in 1856. In the fall of that year, the first Kansas and Nebraska Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was held in a tent approximately 15 miles north of Palmyra in Lawrence, Kansas Territory. The conference was presided over by Bishop Osmon Cleander Baker, who besides being a member of the church hierarchy, was a distinguished scholar. The conference ended with a clear understanding that the church would work towards establishing educational institutions in the Territory of Kansas. In March 1857, an educational convention of the Methodist Episcopal Church was held at Palmyra. It was decided to establish a school at Palmyra to be named Baker University in honor of Bishop Baker. The convention delegates formed the Kansas Educational Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church to begin working towards that end. The original plans were to build the university on a hill north of Palmyra, and finance the building by purchasing land south of town that would then be subdivided into lots and sold to raise money to fund construction. On February 3, 1858, the Kansas Educational Association obtained a charter from the Kansas Territorial Legislature to locate and establish an institution of learning. The Association met on February 12, 1858, in the cabin that Lucius Kibbee had built at Palmyra, and officially chartered Baker University. The plans to have the university built north of Palmyra were changed, and it was decided that the university would instead be built on the land that had been purchased south of town. There were not sufficient funds available to build the type of permanent structure that the members of the Association desired, so it was decided to construct a temporary building to house the University until sufficient funds could be raised to build a more imposing structure. The Association did not want to erect a temporary structure on the campus, so construction was begun on a site east of where the campus would be. Lots surrounding the campus area were sold, and a number of houses were built on them. John Baldwin, a businessman from Berea, Ohio, purchased one of the lots and built a grist mill. Baldwin's neighbors in the rapidly developing area surrounding the future site of Baker University decided to organize a town separate from Palmyra. John Baldwin had become the primary benefactor of the new school, and because of this, the new town was named Baldwin City in his honor. Construction on the temporary university building known as The College Building(1), located between Elm and Fremont on 5th Street, was completed in the fall, and classes for the first university in Kansas began there on November 22, 1858. Baldwin City continued to grow, and much of that growth was at the expense of Palmyra. Businesses began relocating from there to its neighbor to the south. This exodus continued until eventually the post office was relocated from Palmyra to Baldwin City. The town of Palmyra ceased to exist. A drought in 1860, followed the next year by the outbreak of the Civil War back east, retarded the progress of Baker University. The 1863/1864 enrollment was large enough to convince university officials of the need for a larger building to be built on campus. An agent was sent back east to raise funds. One of the donors to the fundraising drive was President Abraham Lincoln, who contributed $100 to the building fund. The foundation for a new university building, to be named Parmenter Hall(2), was laid in 1865. Because of all the problems Baker University had experienced during the War, the first students did not graduate until 1866. Funding problems continued to delay work on the new building. Construction had advanced sufficiently for students to begin attending classes in Parmenter Hall in March of 1871, but the building would not be completed for ten more years. By the late 1880s, Baker University had become well established with a good sized, co-ed student body. In 1888, Grover Cleveland was completing his first term as President of the United States, and was nominated by the Democratic Party for a second term. Benjamin Harrison was nominated by the Republican Party to oppose him. In the general election, Cleveland won the popular vote by a small margin, but lost by a significant margin in the Electoral College vote, so Harrison won the election and was sworn in as President in 1889. Because of its early history in the struggle over the slavery issue, and its subsequent history as a Free State supporting the Union in the Civil War, Kansas was known as a Republican state. A significant majority of Kansans had voted for Republicans in previous elections, so there was strong support in the State for Harrison in 1888, however, that support was tempered by a growing unrest in some parts of the electorate. There was a strong national movement developing that opposed many of the perceived anti-farmer, anti-labor policies of the Republican Party. This opposition coalesced in 1891 with the formation of the People's Party by groups from The Grange, the Farmers' Alliances, and the Knights of Labor. Supporters of the People's Party became known to everyone as "Populists." A significant number of Kansans supported the Populist ideals, and so began to threaten the Republican dominance in the State. 1892 was a presidential election year, and as the year progressed, it looked as if it would be a rematch of the previous election. At the 1892 Republican Convention, Harrison was nominated for a second term, Cleveland was again nominated by the Democrats at their convention, and for the first time, the Populists nominated a candidate for President, James B. Weaver. In addition to Weaver, there were also many Populists running for State and local offices in Kansas. Many Republicans came to view the Populists as being in cahoots with the Democrats. As such, the campaigning that year was very lively. On the evening of Monday, November 7, 1892, the night before the election, there was a meeting scheduled between local Democrats and Populists in Baldwin City, presumably to discuss strategy for the following day. Two male Baker University students showed up outside the building where the meeting was being held and "yelled [twice] for Harrison," and as reported in an article dripping with sarcasm in the Baldwin Ledger, they also "…made other noises discordant with the populist sentiments…" They were arrested, and apparently charged with willfully disturbing the political meeting. They pled not guilty, but the judge thought the yelling was not accidental, and fined each one $2.70. An article in the Baker Beacon, the student newspaper at the school, took offense at the fine, stating that it was, "repulsive to the public opinion of our best citizens." Perhaps that indignation was fueled by the fact that Cleveland had won the presidential election, and there was significant disappointment among the ranks of the Republicans. Not only had Kansas gone for Weaver and the Populists in the national election, Populists were elected to many offices in the State, including the governorship. In the aftermath of the yelling for Harrison incident on the evening of the 7th, another incident occurred three days later on the evening of the 10th. That evening, a large group of Baker students went out on the streets of Baldwin City and repeatedly gave the Baker college yell(3). After attempting to quite them, Town Marshal Sherwin arrested thirty-four of the students. The two newspapers in town reacted differently to the arrests. An article in the student newspaper, referring back to the earlier arrests on the 7th, printed that the authorities were "Yet not satisfied with such tyrannical proceedings…", that, "…the city officers know very little concerning law," and that, "the marshal tried to find an ordinance to cover the charge, but has utterly failed…". The Baldwin Ledger published an article reporting that, "A company of students went forth giving unearthly yells last night[,] trying to see if they could be arrested. They soon found out. After attempting to quiet the howling Comanches[,] our efficient marshal put them all under arrest." The article went on to observe that, "Some are indignant that the city authorities should try to stop the ˋboys' fun.ˊ We fail to see the fun in yelling like heathens[,] especially when there was no victory in athletics or other cause to excite such demonstration." An article in the November 12, 1892, edition of the Kansas City Star expressed sympathy with Baldwin City and other college towns when it observed that, "The arrest of three dozen college students at Baldwin City, Kas., for giving their college yell on the main streets of the town, is certainly a bold step on the part of the civilian officers of that quiet hamlet. Heretofore it has been accepted as a precept of common law, that citizens in a college town have no rights which students living therein are bound to respect. If the young men are convicted, a precedent will be established which will be gratefully received into full standing at Heidelberg, Cambridge, Eton, Ithaca, Bonn and Lecompton(4)." Whether that precedent was set is unknown, as there is no record of the outcome of the case of Baldwin City v. the thirty-four Baker students.

(1) The building served as Baker University classroom space until the completion of Parmenter Hall. Sometime after the construction, people began referring to it as "The Old Castle." It eventually became a museum housing artifacts from the history of Kansas, the Methodist Church, and Baker University. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February, 24, 1971. Today the building is known as the "Old Castle Museum."

(2) Parmenter Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 15, 1977.

(3) A college yell is a cheer unique to an institute of higher education that is performed in unison by students and/or alumni to encourage an athletic team or to instill or express school spirit. According to The World Almanac and Encyclopedia, 1908, the Baker University college yell was, "B.U.! Rah, Rah! B.U.! Rah, Rah! Hoorah! Hoorah! Baker! Taker! Rah! Rah! Rah!"

(4) Heidelberg, Germany, home of Heidelberg University; Cambridge, England, home of Cambridge University; Eton College, England; Ithaca, New York, home of Ithaca College; Bonn, Germany, home of the University of Bonn, and Lecompton, Kansas, home of Lane University from 1865 to 1902.

(From: Baldwin, Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc., by Frank W. Blackmar, Standard Publishing Co, Chicago, 1912, v. 1, pp.132-133; Baldwin City, William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, Douglas County, Part 34; Baker University, Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc., by Frank W. Blackmar, Standard Publishing Co, Chicago, 1912, v. 1, pp. 129-132; Palmyra, Kansas, Kansas Memory website; Old Castle Museum, Council of Independent Colleges, Historic Campus Architecture Project website; A History of Excellence & Support, Baker University website; Parmenter Hall, Baldwin city Chamber of commerce website; Parmenter Hall, Council of Independent Colleges, Historic Campus Architecture Project website; United States presidential election, 1892, Wikipedia website; People's Party (United States), Wikipedia website; Baldwin Ledger, v. 9, no. 50 (November 11, 1892), p.3; Baker Beacon, v. 4, no. 10 (November 15, 1892), p.4; The World Almanac and Encyclopedia, 1908, The Press Publishing Co., New York World, New York, 1907, p. 560; List of Governors of Kansas, Wikipedia website; [College Yell], Kansas Trails website; and, Lane University, Wikipedia website. Published 11/13.)  Back to top of page

December 17, 1896 - Carl August Beuermann is shot by his wife - Carl August Beuermann(1) was born September 20, 1858. The location of his birth is unknown. He married Anna Paulina Klussmeyer, born around 1862, on June 30, 1886, in Douglas County, Kansas. After the marriage, the couple lived together with Anna's mother and father on Beuermann's farm at Lake View, a community approximately four miles northwest of Lawrence, Kansas, that surrounded an oxbow lake(2) known as Lake View Lake. Apparently, the Klussmeyers were newly arrived immigrants, as it was later reported that Anna did not speak English at the time of her marriage to Beuermann, and attended school over the next three years to learn the language. They seemed to be a relatively happy couple with no disagreements evident to their neighbors. At around six o'clock on the evening of December 17, 1896, Anna was setting the table for supper. Beuermann went to the window to watch the Santa Fe Plug(3) pass by, perhaps to set his watch by it. As such, he was standing with his back to the supper table where Anna was. She quickly left the room, retrieved a .38 revolver, came back into the room, and shot her husband once in the back, killing him instantly with a bullet through his heart. She then went out into the yard, pointed the pistol at her own heart, and pulled the trigger. The trigger was hard to pull in that awkward position, so the shot missed her heart and she was only wounded. A doctor named Anderson was called. He determined that Beuermann was beyond help, and then treated Anna. He left her at home after determining that her injuries were so severe that recovery was beyond hope. The next day "Coroner Leonard", presumably Dr. Wellington Leonard, empaneled a jury and went out to the Beuermann farm. The jury examined Beuermann's body. Anna told them that she had been trying for six months to get her husband to divorce her, but he would not do so. She said that he had ceased to love her, and she decided that it was time for them both to die. She had intended to shoot her husband three days earlier, but her courage had failed her. Then the night before the shooting, she determined to kill Beuermann the next day. She put poison in the biscuits she made for supper, but became concerned that it might not kill him, so when the opportunity presented itself, she retrieved the pistol and shot him. The jury adjourned to wait to see whether Anna would die from her wound. The bullet had gone clear through her body near the heart, and the doctors expected she would not survive. She had expressed no regret for her actions, except that the bullet had not killed her. She was also feeling better, and was concerned that she might not die after all. Beuermann was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence. Despite the dire prognosis from the doctors, as the days passed, Anna began to recover from the bullet wound. She was soon put under close guard. She engaged Judge(4) John Quincy Adams Norton as her attorney, and waited for whatever developed. The Coroner scheduled an inquest that was held on January 6, 1897, where the jury examined the evidence. Anna related more of the story behind her desire to kill Beuermann. As reported in the Lawrence Daily World, after she learned English, "All went well for some time until she fell in with a company of free thinkers, or liberals, as they call themselves. She went to their meetings and had considerable correspondence with them. At the last meeting, which was held in Ottawa[, Kansas](5), spiritualism was introduced. This disgusted Mrs. Beierman. One of the letters read at the inquest was from a married woman who said she was in love with a married man, and she expressed a horror of the laws that would not allow them to live together." The article continued, "The upshot of all this religious agitation was that Mrs. Beiermann lost her belief in a Supreme Being and felt that there was no hope anywhere for her. Her mental position was agonizing. She had ceased to love her husband and knew that they could never have any children. She asked for a divorce but he only laughed at her. She wanted to become the mother of children but saw no hopes. Feeling that life ended all she concluded to kill both herself and her husband." After deliberating, the coroner's jury found that Anna was "mentally irresponsible at the time of the commission of the crime." Because of this, there was speculation that she might not be prosecuted for the crime, but this proved too optimistic. Five days later, on January 11th, "One of the brothers of August Beiermann this morning swore out a warrant against Mrs. Anna Beiermann, charging her with murder." She was arrested and brought in to court that evening to appear before Judge Charlton, who allowed her to go back home under guard for the night. At 10:00 a.m. the next day she again appeared before Judge Charlton, who set her bail at $5,000. He continued her hearing until January 19th, because of the illness of her attorney. Anna was able to make bail and was released. The newspaper commented on her appearance, noting that, "She is somewhat pale but walks with a steady step. One would think she was a third party to the proceedings." The case was called on the 19th, but Judge Charlton again continued it to January 28th. The reason for the continuance is explained by another article in the same newspaper reporting the court action. The article read in part, "Judge Norton is still a very sick man. His attending physician thinks he is improving but he is in a very precarious condition." He must have recovered sufficiently to appear in court with his client on the 28th, because that morning Anna had her preliminary hearing and was bound over to the district court with the same $5,000 bond that she had previously met. The case was scheduled for the next session of the Douglas County District Court, but because Norton was still too ill to participate in a trial, she did not go to trial until November 8, 1897. The case was called that day in front of Judge Samuel A, Riggs, and a jury was empaneled. The charge was first degree murder, and Anna pled not guilty by reason of insanity. The prosecutor was county attorney A.C. Mitchell, and Norton served as Anna's defense council. There was testimony given that Anna, "was very desirous of having children." And that, "her husband [Beuermann] was lacking in physical power, amounting to sexual disability, and that he had not informed her of his condition before marriage, that the lack of virility and the impotency of her husband preyed upon her mind, and that by constant brooding over the situation her mind was finally unbalanced." The case went to the jury the afternoon of the 10th. They deliberated three hours and then returned with a verdict of guilty of second degree murder. Anna was sentenced to ten years at hard labor in the Kansas State Penitentiary. She was taken into custody. An article in the November 11, 1897, edition of the Lawrence Daily World gloated at her conviction. The article, titled Justice Done, stated that, "Justice is vindicated…", and that, "The verdict meets with universal favor." The article continued to make the point over and over again how the local citizenry wanted her tried and convicted of murder. It reported that in her testimony, Anna had not loved Beuerman from the day they were married, and that she had loved another man for two years. It complimented Mitchell on his handling of the trial and that, "The case was ably tried." It then made a curious statement, which read, "Although put in a delicate position on account of previous personal relations with the family[,] County Attorney A.C. Mitchell did not flinch in his officiall (sp.) duty." The article ended with, "There will be the usual effort for a new trial and possibly the case will be taken up. Mrs. Buerman is quite well off and it is not likely that she will go to the penitentiary without exhausting every effort to keep out." The newspaper was correct, in that Norton moved for a new trial on November 12th. The motion must have been denied, as Norton filed a notice of appeal with the district court on December 17th. He filed a second notice of appeal on March 2, 1898. Anna's appeal had been made to the Kansas Supreme Court, and she was released from the penitentiary on bond pending the Court's decision. On July 8, 1898, the court found four errors(6) in the original trial, and made a unanimous decision to reverse Anna's conviction and remand her case for a new trial. A new trial was scheduled for February 6, 1899, the first day of the District Court's February session. On that date, a jury was empaneled and the new trial began. The case went to the jury on the 8th, and they returned that same day with a verdict of not guilty. Anna was set free. The feelings of the Lawrence Daily World editor over the verdict were evident by the length of the article in the paper that day. The previous article celebrating her conviction published in the November 11, 1897, edition ran for two-thirds of a column, while the one announcing the not guilty verdict on February 8th read in its entirety, "Mrs. Anna Buerman was acquitted in district court today on the charge of murdering her husband. The jury had the case for six hours." Short, but from the editor's viewpoint, definitely not sweet. Where Anna went after her release, what she did, and what subsequently happened to her is unknown.

(1) Depending on the source, his first and middle names are recorded as either August Charles or Carl August. The spelling of his last name varies, again depending on the source, as Beiermann, Beirman, Beirmann, Beuerman, Beuermann, Beurman, Beurmann, and Buerman. His tombstone reads Carl August Beuermann, so that is the spelling used in this article.

(2) An oxbow lake is the remnant of an old meander in a river channel, in this case the Kansas or Kaw River, that had at some time in the past been cut off and bypassed by the river and then been partially silted up, resulting in a U-shaped lake.

(3) The Plug was a local train on the Santa Fe line that operated between Kansas City and Topeka, Kansas, from 1881 to 1931. It plied the tracks that crossed just north of Lake View Lake and near the Beuermann farmhouse. The train held the longest continuous on-time service record of any train in the entire Santa Fe system, and was so reliable that people who lived along the tracks could set their watches by it.

(4) Norton had at one time been Probate Judge in Douglas County, Kansas, and was thereafter known as Judge Norton.

(5) It was a meeting of the Kansas Freethinkers Association, and was held at Forest Park, Ottawa, Kansas, in August of 1896, four months before the shooting.

(6) The syllabus of the decision of the Supreme Court noting the four areas where the District Court erred in its handling of the case reads:

"1. A person who has read a newspaper account of a homicide, and has also learned the facts pertaining to the same from one who assumed to know and state them, and, based thereon, has formed and expressed an opinion as to the guilt of the accused, which would require evidence to remove, is not a qualified juror, although he may state that he believes he could give the accused a fair and impartial trial.

2. A nonprofessional witness, acquainted with one whose sanity is in question, may, after stating the facts, words, and conduct of such person which have come under his personal observation,-and based upon these,-express his opinion as to the sane or insane state of such a person's mind.

3. If the witness' knowledge of the acts, words, and conduct of the person claimed to be insane is meager, his opinion will not be as valuable as that of one who has had better opportunities of knowing, and who is thoroughly informed in that respect; but what weight the opinion shall receive is a question of fact for the jury.

4. It is the duty of the presiding judge to be present throughout the trial; to supervise the proceedings, and see and hear all that transpires during the trial, and especially during a criminal trial where the highest penalty of the law may be inflicted. If the presiding judge leaves the court room, goes out of the sight and hearing of the jury and counsel, and temporarily relinquishes control over the trial, the accused has good cause to complain."

(From: Carl August Beuermann, Find A Grave website; Carl August Beuermann, BillionGraves website; Beirmann, August Charles - Anna Paulina Klussmeyer - 30 Jun 1886, Douglas County, Kansas Marriages, 1886, KsGenWeb website; Beirman August (or Beurmann), Lawrence Cemetery Interactive Map, City of Lawrence website; Carl August Beuermann, "BillionGraves Index", FamilySearch website; Shot dead by his wife, Kansas Trails website; August Charles Beiermann, "Kansas, Marriages, 1840-1935", FamilySearch website; Lawrence Daily World, v. 5, no. 270 (January 7, 1897), p.3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 5, no. 264 (December 31, 1896), p.3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 5, no. 253 (December 18, 1896), p.3; State of Kansas vs. Anna Beurman, Case no. 1443, Douglas County, Kansas, District Court Records; John Q.A. Norton papers, 1868-1869, Archivegrid website; The Lawrence Gazette, v. 17, no. 747 (December 24, 1896), p.3; Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, My Present Past website; Lawrence Daily World, v. 5, no. 273 (January 11, 1897), p.3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 5, no. 274 (January 12, 1897), p.3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 5, no. 280 (January 19, 1897), p.3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 5, no. 288 (January 28, 1897), p.3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 6, no. 219 (November 10, 1897), p.3; Lawrence Daily World, v. 6, no. 220 (November 11, 1897), p.3; State v. Beuerman, 59 Kan. 586; Lawrence Daily World, v. 7, no. 293 (February 6, 1899), p.3; and, Lawrence Daily World, v. 7, no. 295 (February 8, 1899), p.3. Published 12/13.)  Back to top of page

2013, by the Michael J. Malone Douglas County Law Library. All rights reserved.


For more information, contact the Law Library at: info@douglascolawlibrary.org.



Comments to: Webmaster: Kerry Altenbernd, Law Librarian, Michael J. Malone Douglas County Law Library, Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 East 11th Street, Lawrence, KS  66044.

Valid HTML 4.01!

Created: February 6, 2014; Revised: September 2. 2014