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Kanzas: The Territorial Years

Isaac McCoy Isaac McCoy (1784-1846) was born in Pennsylvania and died in Kentucky. A Baptist minister, surveyor, and author, McCoy spent his adult life as a missionary among the Indians in what would become Kansas. His work with the Indians caused McCoy to sense the need of a permanent Indian country where tribes could be free from the "corrupting influences attending association with the frontier people of that early period." Consequently he was one of the first to suggest the removal of Eastern tribes to the unoccupied areas of the West. The mission he helped to establish in Kansas around 1830 is still standing and is open to the public.

Isaac McCoy's papers (1808-1874) are located in the Kansas State Historical Society.

pages title page The Annual Register of Indian Affairs within the Indian (or Western) Territory (Shawanoe Baptist Mission, Indian Territory: Isaac M'Coy), 1835.

Printed by Jotham Meeker at Shawnee Mission, this is the first book in English printed in the Indian Territory.

title page cover of book The Annual Register of Indian Affairs within the Indian (or Western) Territory (Shawanoe Baptist Mission, Indian Territory: Isaac M'Coy), 1836.

Second issue of the Annual Register publications.

cover of book The Annual Register of Indian Affairs within the Indian (or Western) Territory (Shawanoe Baptist Mission, Indian Territory: Isaac M'Coy), 1837.

Third issue of the Annual Register publications. A fourth and final issue appeared in 1838.

Jotham Meeker Jotham Meeker (1804-1855) was born in Ohio and died at the Ottawa mission. He learned the Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa languages and developed a phonetic system he used in writing and printing those languages. He became the first printer in what would become Kansas in the Indian Territory and printed Linapi'e Lrkvekun in 1834, the first book printed in the Indian Territory. Meeker continued to print until 1854, when his health began to fail.

Jotham Meeker's papers (1825-1864) are located in the Kansas State Historical Society.

pages cover of book Periodical Account of Baptist Missions within the Indian Territory: For the Year Ending December 31, 1836 (Shawanoe Baptist Mission, Indian Territory: Isaac M'Coy), 1837.

Printed by Jotham Meeker at his own cost on May 5th and 12th, 1837, it is the first and only issue of this periodical. It is also the only copy in a Kansas library. It was designed to inform Baptist churches in the east about the missionary work in the Indian Territory.

title page Theodore Frelinghuysen (1787-1862), Speech of Mr. Frelinghuysen, of New Jersey, Delivered in the Senate of the United States, April 6, 1830, on the Bill for an Exchange of Lands with the Indians Residing in Any of the States or Territories, and for Their Removal West of the Mississippi (Washington, DC: Office of the National Journal), 1830.

By Act of Congress, May 26, 1830, a vast territory west of the Mississippi River was designated Indian Territory and intended to be the permanent home of all Native American tribes. The forced removal of Native American tribes from east of the Mississippi River to the territories west of the Mississippi River in 1831 is one of the greatest crimes inflicted upon Native Americans. Although put into place during the administration of President Andrew Jackson, the idea is attributed to President Thomas Jefferson. Many eastern tribes were relocated to the Kanzas Territory, where the climate, game and land were as unfamiliar to them as the thousands of whites who would pour into the territory a few years later.

illustration from London News, 1857

Kansas-Nebraska Act

Under the provisions of the Missouri Compromise (1820), the lands in the Louisiana Purchase north of 36 30' north latitude were to be free of slavery, except for Missouri which was admitted with Maine as a free state. Senator Stephen Douglas satisfied his Southern colleagues by proposing a bill that would divide the Nebraska Territory into two parts: Kansas and Nebraska. The territorial legislatures of both parts would then allow "popular sovereignty" to determine whether or not slavery would be permitted within their borders.

A bitter and vitriolic debate seized Congress and the nation prior to the vote on the act in May 1854, which won by a narrow margin. President Franklin Pierce signed the bill immediately and the fate of the territory as "bloody Kansas" was sealed.

title page Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company, Organization, Objects, and Plan of Operations, of the Emigrant Aid Company (Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son), 1854.

This work went through four editions in 1854; this is a second edition, which contains a tipped-in slip announcing the departure on November 21, 1854 of the "Sixth and Last Regular Party for the Season." The Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company encouraged anti-slavery northerners to settle in Kansas.

map of kanzas and nebraska territory cover of book Moffette, Joseph F., The Territories of Kansas and Nebraska: Being an Account of Their Geography, Resources and Settlements, etc., etc., etc. (New York: J. H. Colton and Company), 1855.

Chapter on Kanzas title page cover of book Charles W. Dana, The Great West; or, The Garden of the World ... with Statistics and Facts, from Thomas H. Benton, Sam Houston, and John C. Fremont (Boston: Wentworth, Hewes & Co.), 1856.

Guide books such as this lured many Americans from the eastern states into the western states and territories with promises of abundances of timber, coal, limestone, and agricultural land. Upon their arrival to the Kanzas Territory, many early settlers realized that the claims were greatly exaggerated. As to the climate of Kanzas, this book states "The climate of Eastern Kanzas resembles that of Kentucky and Missouri. It is warm in summer, and in winter mild, with now and then a few severe frosty and stormy days and nights. ... Snow in winter seldom exceeds two or three inches in depth, and soon disappears."

title page cover of book Max Greene (fl. 1856), The Kanzas Region: Forest Prairie, Desert, Mountain, Vale, and River (New York: Fowler and Wells), 1856.

A great portion of this book is based on the author's experiences in the territory from 1850 to 1855.

Sara Tappan Lawrence Robinson

picture of plains life cover of book Sara Tappan Lawrence Robinson (1827-1911), Kansas, its Interior and Exterior Life: Including a Full View of its Settlement, Political History, Social Life, Climate, Soil, Productions, Scenery, etc. (Boston: Crosby, Nichols and Company), 1856. 3rd printing

Robinson was the wife of Charles R. Robinson, a New England Emigrant Aid Company agent, one of the founders of Lawrence and the first governor of Kansas in 1861. While her husband was in prison at Lecompton under arrest by pro-slavery forces, Sara joined him and wrote most of this book there.

U.S. troops guarding free-state prisoners near Lecompton, Kansas territory

title page Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823-1911), A Ride Through Kanzas (New York: American Anti-Slavery Society), 1856.

Letters originally published in the New York Tribune dated September 12 to October 20, 1856 detailing a trip to Nebraska City, Topeka, Lawrence, and Leavenworth. Higginson, a prominent abolitionist, was a general agent for a free- state train of 28 wagons that he helped to organize in Massachusetts and Maine. This account details his arrest and the first attack on Lawrence by pro-slavery forces. Higginson would later become colonel of the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry, one of the first black regiments, during the Civil War.

title page cover of book William Addison Phillips (1824-1893), The Conquest of Kansas by Missouri and Her Allies: A History of the Troubles in Kansas from the Passage of the Organic Act until the Close of July, 1856 (Boston: Phillips, Sampson and Company), 1856.

In 1855, the author was sent to the territory as a special correspondent to the New York Tribune. He was a radical abolitionist and his reports are filled with anti-slavery rhetoric.

title page cover of book George Douglas Brewerton (1820-1901), The War in Kansas: A Rough Trip to the Border, Among New Homes and a Strange People (New York: Derby & Jackson), 1856.

Brewerton served as a correspondent for the New York Herald and this book is an account of his time in the territory from December 1855 to January 1856. Brewerton remained neutral during his time in the territory and he provides a great deal of both pro-slavery and anti-slavery material.

title page The Kansas War; or, The Conquests of Chivalry in the Crusades of the Nineteenth Century: A Heroic Poem(New York: Mason Brothers), 1856.

Attributed to Theodore Dwight (1796-1866) who lived and worked in New York as a newspaper writer. He worked to send anti-slavery emigrants to Kansas between 1854 and 1858.

title page cover of book John McNamara (1821?-1885), Three Years on the Kansas Border (New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan), 1856.

After serving as a missionary and minister in Missouri, McNamara started a parish at Fort Leavenworth. A vehement abolitionist, he became involved in a heated argument with the post commander and was banned from the fort.

map cover of book The Border Ruffian Code in Kansas (New York: Tribune Office), 1856.

A Republican Party campaign document that exposes the "Code of pretended laws enacted by the bogus Territorial Legislature of Kansas."

title page Who Are the Kansas Ruffians! (St. Louis?: s.n.), 1856.

This exceedingly rare pamphlet is the only known copy. The text is taken from the St. Louis Republican newspaper of September 19th and emphasizes the paramilitary activities of James Lane, who led anti-slavery forces against the "innocent" pro-slavery homesteaders in the Kansas Territory. It accuses the Republican Party of "disunion" and "treason" and denounces the leaders of the "Black Republican Abolition Convention" that nominated John C. Fremont for President. Of special interest is a very early mention of John Brown, who assaulted "a settlement, known by the name of 'the Georgia Colony,' which was composed of a number of families from the State of Georgia."

title page cover of book United States Congress, House Committee. Report of the Special Committee Appointed to Investigate the Troubles in Kansas, with the Views of the Minority of Said Committee(Washington, DC: C. Wendell, Printer), 1856.

Numbering over 1,300 pages, this special report No. 200, House of Representatives, 34th Congress is a collection of the history of the troubles as well as a list of nearly every voter in the territory.

title page cover of book Philo Tower, Slavery Unmasked: Being a Truthful Narrative of Three Years' Residence and Journeying in Eleven Southern States: To Which is Added the Invasion of Kansas, Including the Last Chapter of Her Wrongs (Rochester, NY: E. Darrow & Brother), 1856.

A chapter of this book is devoted to the struggles in the Kansas Territory; one historian has described the book as the "wildest flight of anti-slavery fantasy."

title page cover of book Western Border Life; or, What Fanny Hunter Saw and Heard in Kanzas and Missouri (New York: Derby & Jackson), 1856.

A novel dealing with the struggle to make Kansas a free state. It is believed to be the first novel that uses Kansas as the setting.

title page cover of book Hannah Anderson Chandler Ropes, Six Months in Kansas (Boston: J. P. Jewett), 1856.

A series of letters detailing a trip from Boston to the Kansas Territory in 1855-56. Most of the letters were written from Lawrence and provide a good first-hand account of the territorial struggles.

Governor's mansion at Lecompton

title page American Abolition Society. The Kansas Struggle, of 1856, in Congress, and in the Presidential Campaign with Suggestions for the Future (New York: American Abolition Society), 1857.

Another anti-slavery work devoted to a free Kansas. Although this is a very biased account of the events in the territory, it does have a very good account of the early tenure of Governor Geary.

title page cover of book Thomas H. Gladstone, Kansas; or, Squatter Life and Border Warfare in the Far West (London: G. Routledge & Co.), 1858. 2nd edition

A reprint of Gladstone's columns from the London Times (1856-57) detailing his travels in the Kansas Territory during the anti-slavery / pro-slavery troubles. Gladstone arrived in the territory on May 22, 1856, the day after the sacking of Lawrence. When Gladstone traveled to Leavenworth, Governor Charles Robinson under arrest for "treason" was a passenger on the same boat.

title page Martha Elizabeth Duncan Walker Cook (1806-1874), Affectionately Addressed to Robt. J. Walker, Governor of Kansas(New York: J. F. Trow, Printer), 1857.

A poem written by the sister of Territorial Governor Robert Walker. The Free-State Party refused to participate in the constitutional convention formed by the pro-slavery legislature. The Lecompton Constitution was framed, but never approved by the U.S. Congress. Walker resigned as territorial governor later in 1857.

letter E. H. Niles to "Friend Emery", Hamlin, Kansas Territory, December 21, 1857

This outstanding early letter from the Kansas Territory details the author's frustration at the current state of politics in the territory on the day a vote was to be taken on the Lecompton Constitution:

"To-day as you are aware the people of Kansas have an opportunity to vote for the Constitution framed at Lecompton. We the citizens of Hamlin & vicinity are deprived of that glorious privelege. You of course ask why & how? The judges of election appointed by Calhoun refuse to have anything to do with it. They refuse to act as judges, refuse to allow the election to be held, at their houses and refuse to vote."

He wrote prophetically about the nation's impending civil war:

"If Congress admits us under that instrument & the proslavery party gets the officers under a 'war is inevitable.'"

Lecompton Constitution

After meeting for two days at Pawnee, near Fort Riley, the fraudulently-elected pro-slavery Territorial legislature moved to Lecompton. In 1857, a decidedly pro-slavery constitution was framed by the legislature that also contained a bill of rights that excluded free blacks. The Lecompton Constitution was rejected by a vote in January 1858, and more violence erupted in the Territory. More than 200 people died and many more were wounded in the years of territorial civil war before Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state under the Wyandotte constitution in 1861.

title page Frederick Perry Stanton (1814-1894), Great Meeting at Philadelphia ... (S.l.: s.n.), 1858.

Reprinted from Forney's Philadelphia Press, February 9, 1858.

title page Speech of Hon. D. C. Broderick, of California, Against the Admission of Kansas under the Lecompton Constitution (Washington, DC: Lemuel Towers), 1858.

This is only one of two known items authored by Broderick, a Democratic Senator from California. Because of disputes within the Democratic Party in California, Broderick allied himself with Stephen Douglas in the bitter intra-party battle over Kansas. After opposing the pro-slavery Lecompton constitution as a fraud, pro-Southern Buchanan Democrats shunned and threatened Broderick, and he was eventually marked for death. A year after this speech, David Terry, a political rival and a justice of the California Supreme Court, called Broderick a follower of Frederick Douglass, not of Stephen Douglas. Broderick responded intemperately and Terry challenged him to a duel. Terry resigned his seat on the court and being a crack shot, he killed Broderick. Terry was killed several years later when he tried to assault U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field.

map title page cover of book Nathan Howe Parker, The Kansas & Nebraska Hand Book for 1857-8 with a New and Accurate Map (Boston: J. P. Jewett and Co.), 1857.

Over half of this book covers the Kansas Territory, the costs of starting a farm, and the problems with Border Ruffians from Missouri.

image of land deed St. Ronan, Kansas Territorial Land Deed, April 22, 1857

Issued at Janesville, Wisconsin by a land company for a $10 lot in Franklin County, the owner was required to make an additional improvement to the lot to the value of $5. The town never incorporated.

image of record book Boston Association Records and Constitution, April 3 - June 29, 1855

Manhattan Town Association Records and Constitution, July 7, 1855 - January 7, 1856

Recorded by E. M. Thurston, this is the first public record of the town association that would create the city of Manhattan.

"The settlers of the junction of the Big blue and Kanzas rivers met April 3, 1855, for consultation in reference to a town site. A committee was appointed to examine the ground and report the amount of land desirable to be secured for the aforesaid purpose. And the meeting adjourned to meet at Mr. Wright's tent at 7 of the clock, the same evening. At the time appointed the citizens came together, the committee reported ten quarter section, and E. M. Thurston, Isaac T. Goodnow, H. A. Wilcox, N. E. Wright and G. N. Lockwood were appointed a committee to prepare a constitution.

image of log Bluemont Central College Association, Manhattan, Kansas Territory, 1858

This financial log, started by Isaac T. Goodnow on November 1, 1858 as agent for the college, contains a lengthy list of donations toward the $15,000 needed to start the college. Goodnow kept an accurate record of expenditures for the college, including lumber, nails, linseed oil, and various hardware. He also included many newspaper clippings about Bluemont Cental College from New England towns where he visited, presumably to raise funds.

title page cover of book William P. Tomlinson, Kansas in Eighteen Fifty-Eight: Being Chiefly a History of the Recent Troubles in the Territory (New York: H. Dayton), 1859.

Another newspaper man, Tomlinson rode in eastern Kansas in the summer of 1858. This work has a great deal of information on the Marais de Cygnes Massacre and the attack on Fort Scott.

title page picture of John Doy John Doy, The Narrative of John Doy, of Lawrence, Kansas (New York: T. Holman, Printer), 1860.

Doy was a member of the first emigrant aid group in Lawrence in 1854. On January 25, 1859, Doy was escorting several slaves north of Lawrence, when he and his party were captured by border ruffians from Missouri. Doy was later taken to a jail in St. Joseph, Missouri where he was later rescued by friends from Lawrence.

title page cover of book Lawrence City Directory, and Business Mirror for 1860-61 (Indianapolis: James Sutherland), 1860.

The sunny outlook of peace and a prosperous business community in Lawrence in this early city directory would be shattered on August 21,1863 following the bloody raid of Confederate guerrilla Charles Quantrill, in which many citizens were murdered, and all but three business burned and 120 homes burned.

title page Thaddeus Hyatt, The Prayer of Thaddeus Hyatt to James Buchanan, President of the United States, in Behalf of Kansas, Asking for a Postponement of All the Land Sales in that Territory, and for Other Relief (Washington, DC: Henry Polkinhorn, Printer), 1860.

A severe drought struck Kansas in 1859-60. Hyatt visited the territory and was alarmed by the sufferings he witnessed among the citizens. He returned to Washington where he had 5,000 copies of this book printed to help raise funds for relief efforts.

title page Journal of the Preliminary Convention of the Diocese of Kansas: Held at Wyandott, August 11th-12th A.D., 1859 (Leavenworth: Fritz Braunhold's Book, Job and Poster Printing Establishment), 1859.

This rare territorial pamphlet is only one of two known copies.

title page Minutes of the Third Annual Meeting of the Kansas River Baptist Association held with the Baptist Church, McCamish, K. T., Sept. 9th & 10th, 1859 (Topeka: "State Record" Book and Job Printing Office), 1859.

A rare Topeka territorial imprint, recording the conference minutes, participants' names, constitution and rules of order, statistical data, and committee reports. An abstract of letters is included and the one from Osawatomie advises that, "This little band has suffered much interruption from the early Kansas wars and during the later troubles in Southern Kansas. Their pastor is the Rev. [Benjamin] Reed, who ... was one of those prisoners who were drawn up in line by their invading captors, and shot in cold blood, during the spring of 1858. Bro. Reed was left for dead, but still lives to praise God."

title page Minutes of the Kansas and Nebraska Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church held in Leavenworth City, K. T. (Leavenworth: The Herald Book and Job Office), 1860.

Early printed records such as these provide a great deal of information about religious activities in the early territorial years.


In 1858, a small amount of gold was found in Ralston Creek near present-day Arvada (Colorado) and at Dry Creek near what would be the site of Denver City. Within a few months, word of the discoveries quickly spread east and the great Kansas gold rush was on. In 1859 three large lode claims were made near Pike's Pike and an estimated 100,000 people headed to the Kanzas Territory.

At least 20 guide books to the Kansas gold fields were printed in 1858-59. Today, these guide books are very rare. All of the books on display in this case are facsimile reprints which were published in 1959 by Nolie Mumey and LeRoy Hafen.

cover of book J. W. Reed, Reed's Guide to the Kansas Gold Region (New York: J. H. Colton), 1859.

title page cover of book James Redpath (1833-1891), Hand-Book to Kansas Territory and the Rocky Mountains' Gold Region (New York: J. H. Colton), 1859.

cover of book Otis Berthoude Gunn (1828-1901), New Map and Hand-Book fo Kansas & the Gold Mines (Pittsburgh: W. S. Haven), 1859.

ads cover of book William Bostwick Parsons (1833-1885), The New Gold Mines of Western Kansas: Being a Complete Description of the Newly Discovered Gold Mines, the Difficult Routes, Camping Places, Tools and Outfit, and Containing Everything Important for the Emigrant and Miner to Know (Cincinnati: Geo. S. Blanchard), 1859.

timetable cover of book Pacific Railroad Company. Pacific Railroad of Missouri: The Old Established and Most Reliable Route to Kansas, Nebraska, and All Points on the Missouri River (St. Louis: s.n.), 1859.

title page cover of book Guide to the Kansas Gold Mines at Pike's Peak, Describing the Routes, Camping Places, Tools, Outfits, &c.(Cincinnati: E. Mendenhall), 1859.

illustrations cover of book Randolph Barnes Marcy (1812-1887), The Prairie Traveler: A Hand-Book for Overland Expeditions (New York: Harper & Brothers), 1859.

cover of book William B. Horner, The Gold Regions of Kansas and Nebraska: Being a Complete History of the First Year's Mining Operations (Chicago: W. H. Tobey & Co.), 1859.

text cover of book Obridge Allen, Guide Book and Map to the Gold Fields of Kansas & Nebraska and Great Salt Lake City (Washington, DC: R. A. Waters), 1859.

page 39 page 40 cover of book The Illustrated Miners' Hand-Book and Guide to Pike's Peak, with a New and Reliable Map, Showing all the Routes, and the Gold Regions of Western Kansas and Nebraska (St. Louis: Parker & Huyett), 1859.

Kansas: The Formative Years.