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Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas University
Rare Books - Exhibits
Kansas: The Formative Years


The popular historical image of Kansas during this period centers largely on the "wild West", Prohibition, and Populist politics. Kansas towns such as Abilene and Dodge City are familiar to us because of the brief years of violence that occurred within their city limits. And a diminutive woman named Carrie Nation grabbed headlines across the nation as she "smashed" saloons in the name of Temperance.

But Kansas has a rich and varied history during this same period that is often overlooked. This exhibit was designed to showcase some overlooked Kansas history.

General James H. Lane title page cover of book John Speer (1817-1906), Life of Gen. James H. Lane, "The Liberator of Kansas": with Corroborative Incidents of Pioneer History (Garden City, KS: John Speer, Printer), 1896.

The author was an early Kansas pioneer. He settled in Lawrence where he established the Kansas Republican newspaper. When Quantrill attacked Lawrence in 1863, one of Speer's sons was killed. This book is a detailed first-hand account of James Lane's life and the defense of Kansas in 1856.

Destruction of Lawrence, 1863

title page cover of book Richard Cordley (1829-1904), The Quantrell Raid!: An Account of the Burning and Sacking of the City of Lawrence, Kansas, and the Murdering of One Hundred and Fifty of Her Citizens By a Band of Ruffians Under Quantrell, August 21, 1863 (Lawrence, KS: J. S. Boughton), 1884.

The memories of the deadly raid continued in the collective memory of Lawrence's citizens for many years after the event.

Kansas Land Office

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The Lawrence City Directory and Business Guide (Lawrence, KS: Boughton & McAllaster), 1866.

The August 1863 raid by Quantrill left much of Lawrence in ruin. This is the first city directory to be printed after the raid and clearly shows that the city was nearly fully recovered.

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Richard Josiah Hinton (1830-1901), Rebel Invasion of Missouri and Kansas: And the Campaign of the Army of the Border Against General Sterling Price in October and November, 1864 (Chicago: Church & Goodman), 1865.

Published in July, just weeks after the end of the Civil War. The author came to Kansas in 1856 as a correspondent for the Boston Traveller.

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John Alexander Martin (1839-1889), Military History of the Eighth Kansas Veteran Volunteer Infantry (Leavenworth: Daily Bulletin Steam Book and Job Printing House), 1869.

This early Kansas regimental history was penned by the colonel of the regiment. The 8th Kansas Volunteer Infantry was mustered into the service in August 1861 and fought in fifteen battles (including Perryville, Stones River, and Chickamauga) and eight skirmishes during the Civil War. During its service, the regiment traveled nearly 11,000 miles through twelve different states and was the only Kansas infantry regiment to serve beyond Missouri.

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Joseph B. McAffee (comp.), Official Military History of Kansas Regiments During the War for the Suppression of the Great Rebellion (Leavenworth: W. S. Burke), 1870.

Most of the copies of this book were destroyed in a fire at the printer's office in 1870. It is a full account of the services of the many infantry and cavalry regiments that served in the U.S. Army during the Civil War.

Indian War, 1867

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Sophie Rubeti (Highland, KS: s.n.), 1865.

This extremely rare religious tract tells the story of an orphaned Native American girl who came to live at the Indian mission in Highland. She died at a very young age and asked that her few possessions be sold to benefit the poor. The missionaries were so touched by her request that they published the tract as a memorial to her life.

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Indian Tribes in Kansas: Letter from the Secretary of the Interior, Relative to the Treaty of February 23, 1867, with Certain Indian Tribes in Kansas (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office), 1875.

The Medicine Lodge Creek treaty concluded and signed about seventy miles south of Fort Larned ended hostilities between the United States and the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Nations. Many Native American tribes ceded lands in Kansas in 1867 and moved to reservation lands in what is now Oklahoma.

Indian Council at Medicine Creek, 1867

Manhattan, KS, ca 1863 Manhattan, KS, ca 1864
Manhattan, Kansas, ca. 1863 (left) looking east toward the river shows many prairie schooners and mules on Poyntz Avenue. Unpublished photograph by George Burgoyne.

Manhattan, Kansas, ca. 1864 (right) looking north toward Bluemont Hill was likely taken at 4th Street & Poyntz Avenue. Unpublished photograph by George Burgoyne.

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Andrew Stark (ed.), Kansas Annual Register for the Year 1864 (Leavenworth: State Agricultural Society), 1864.

Only thirty-two counties existed in Kansas at the time this was printed. Quantrill's raid on Lawrence delayed the publication of this book and a chapter on the raid was included. It is a very valuable account of early agricultural activities in the state. Judge L. D. Bailey, president of the Kansas State Agricultural Society is credited for much of the material in the book.

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Der Staat Kansas: Eine Heimath Für Einwanderer: Agricultur-, Mineral- u. Commerciellen Resourcen des Staates, Grosse Bortheile für Personen, Welche Sich in Einem Neuen Staate Eine Heimath Gründen Wollen (Leavenworth, KS: Gedruckt in der Office der Kansas Zeitung), 1866.

This guide was printed to attract emigrants from the United States' large German immigrant population. Like other guides in English, it served to instruct Kansas emigrants about the state's natural and commercial resources.

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Wilson Nicely, The Great Southwest, or, Plain Guide for Emigrants and Capitalists: Embracing a Description of the States of Missouri and Kansas ... (St. Louis: R. P. Studley & Co., Printers and Binders), 1867.

This emigrants' guide heavily promoted settlement in Kansas. Although it is well- written, many of the claims about resources in the state are exaggerated.

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Charles Godfrey Leland (1824-1903), The Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division; or, Three Thousand Miles in a Railway Car (Philadelphia: Ringwalt & Brown), 1867.

This is one of the earliest narratives from a traveler on the Union Pacific Railway. The author was working for the company to make studies of the lands along the rail route that might be advantageous to the company.

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The Union Pacific Railway Eastern Division, or (Kansas Pacific Railway): Importance of Its Route to All Sections of the Country (Washington: Joseph L. Pearson, Printer), 1868.

Even for the cavalry, travel across great expanses of Kansas required the assistance of railroads. This volume attempted to show the U.S. government that it would be financially beneficial if the railroad was expanded about 400 miles beyond the Missouri River.

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R. F. Smith, Doniphan County, Kansas, History and Directory for 1868-9: Containing the State Constitution (Wathena, KS: Smith, Vaughan & Co.), 1868.

This is one of many early county directories that demonstrate the prosperity of Kansas.

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Thomas Hawley Canfield (b. 1822), Business Directory of the City of Oswego, Labette County, Kansas, Containing a History of the Town from the Beginning, with the Present Business of the Place, Together with an Outline Map of the City and Its Surroundings, Its Population and Its Railroad Facilities, Present and Future (Oswego: Colver and M'Gill), 1870.

Until 1865, Oswego was known as White Hair's Village. It was renamed Little Town before becoming Oswego. The town was incorporated in February 1870 and this first history of the town clearly shows that it was booming. The population today in this southeastern Kansas town is a little less than 2,000.

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Wayne Griswold, Kansas, Her Resources and Developments, or, The Kansas Pilot: Giving a Direct Road to Homes for Everybody; Also the Effect of Latitudes on Life Locations, with Important Facts for All European Emigrants (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co.), 1871.

Another emigrant's guide that provided detailed descriptions of many Kansas cities and towns as well as the best routes throughout the state.

Kansas Land Office

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Clinton Carter Hutchinson (b. 1833-), Resources of Kansas. Fifteen Years Experience (Topeka, KS: C. C. Hutchinson), 1871.

According the preface, this book was "designed to anticipate and answer many of the questions which would be asked by persons contemplating a removal from some other region to Kansas." Although 10,000 copies were printed in 1871, the book is considered scarce today.

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Atchison Kansas Board of Trade, Atchison the Railroad Centre of Kansas. Its Advantages for Commerce and Manufactures (Atchison: Daily Champion Printing Establishment), 1874.

Eight railroads are listed in this volume and a great deal of the book promotes the Missouri River Bridge being built at the time the book was published. Atchison was attempting to promote itself as the city of opportunity in eastern Kansas for commercial activities.

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Davis County, Kansas, Bureau of Immigration, Kansas and Its County of Davis: Information for People Seeking Homes in the West (Junction City: The Bureau), 1878.

Self-described as "The land of milk and honey", Davis County's Bureau of Immigration like many other counties portrayed the county as the best land in the state to attract settlers.

Davis County was named before the Civil War to honor Jefferson Davis, who was then the Secretary of War. In 1889, the county was renamed Geary County in honor of John W. Geary, the third territorial governor.

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William S. Burke and J. L. Rock, The History of Leavenworth, the Metropolis of Kansas, and the Chief Commercial Center West of the Missouri River: The Superior Mercantile and Manufacturing Facilities of the City [and] the Agricultural Advantages of Leavenworth County Impartially Discussed (Leavenworth: The Leavenworth Times Book and Job Printing Establishment), 1880.

As the title suggests, Leavenworth was trying to position itself over Atchison as a leading commercial and industrial city. It is no surprise that this book was commissioned by the Leavenworth Board of Trade.

Political struggle in Kansas

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James Hulme Canfield (1847-1909), Local Government in Kansas (Philadelphia: Cowperthwait & Co.), 1885.

The author wrote in the preface that the book "is simply to report the present facts of local government." Given the outside views of some Kansas towns as lawless, one has to wonder if it was intended to assure emigrants that law and order prevailed in the state.

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Percy G. Ebbutt, Emigrant Life in Kansas (London: Swan Sonnenschein and Co.), 1886.

Ebbutt was a native of Britain who settled near Junction City in 1871. The work is well-written and often humorous. Ebbutt returned to England where he wrote and published this book.

Arkansas City scenes

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Kansas Bureau of Immigration. Kansas: Its History, Resources and Prospects (Wichita: Eagle Printing House), 1890.

According to one bibliographer, over 100,000 copies of this promotional booklet were published. It contains brief sketches of fifty-three counties and a lengthy description of natural and commercial resources in Kansas.

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Missouri Pacific Railway Company (1880-1909). Facts About Kansas: A Book for Home-Seekers and Home-Builders, Statistics from State and National Reports, Farm Lands, Grazing Lands, Fruit Lands (St. Louis: Woodward & Tiernan Printing Co.), 1899.

Fourteenth edition of a very biased view of the state's agricultural resources. It was designed to entice settlers to Kansas to buy lands owned by the railroad company that published the book. It was first printed in 1891.

Kansas Land Office

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John H. Tice, Over the Plains and On the Mountains; or, Kansas and Colorado Agriculturally, Mineralogically and Aesthetically Described (St. Louis: Industrial Age Printing Co.), 1872.

In the summer of 1871, Tice traveled across Kansas to Colorado as a member of the Missouri State Board of Agriculture. It is an interesting narrative with good descriptions of the towns he visited and the people he met.

page of book page of book title page William Edward Webb, Buffalo Land: An Authentic Narrative of the Adventures and Misadventures of a Late Scientific and Sporting Party Upon the Great Plains of the West (Cincinnati & Chicago: E. Hannaford & Company), 1872.

Webb's book is both fictional and historical. The scientific and sporting party he describes is purely fictitious, but many of the incidents described in the book actually happened during his many trips across Kansas starting in 1866.

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Joseph G. McCoy (1837-1915), Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest (Kansas City, MO: Ramsey, Millett & Hudson), 1874.

Considered by many historians as one of the "big four" cattle books. McCoy established Abilene as the first railhead that Texas cattle drovers could use on a reliable basis. It was the first book published on the cattle trade in Kansas and the West.

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Reginald Aldridge, Ranch Notes in Kansas, Colorado, the Indian Territory and Northern Texas (London: Longmans, Green and Co.), 1884.

Aldridge was a partner of Benjamin S. Miller. The book details his life of cattle ranching in Kansas. It is considered to be one of the best books on early cattle ranching by many historians.

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Benjamin S. Miller, Ranch Life in Southern Kansas and the Indian Territory, as Told by a Novice; or, How a Fortune was Made in Cattle (New York: Fless & Ridge Printing Company), 1896.

This signed presentation copy from the author is a personal recollection of his life as a cattle rancher in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma. Miller was also president of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association for three years.

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Henry Inman (1837-1899), Tales of the Trail: Short Stories of Western Life(Topeka: Crane & Company), 1898.

Inman settled in Kansas after serving in the U.S. Army during the Civil War. He became friends with both William F. Cody ("Buffalo Bill") and Kit Carson. He retired in 1874 and began to write about the West. The stories are a blend of history and folklore, and became very popular. The city of Inman, Kansas is named for him.

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Charles Jesse Jones (1844-1919), Buffalo Jones' Forty Years of Adventure: A Volume of Facts Gathered from Experience (Topeka: Crane & Company, Publishers), 1899.

Compiled by Henry Inman (1837-1899), this book profiles the life of "Buffalo" Jones, who devoted his life to the preservation of the American bison from extinction.

Prairie-chicken shooting

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Evander Chalane Kennedy, Osseo, the Spectre Chieftain: A Poem (Leavenworth: E. C. Kennedy), 1867.

This volume of poetry believed to be the first printed in Kansas is a lengthy piece about the author's experience at the battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, in 1863. The frontispiece is a rare salt print photograph of the author, which is signed.

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Eugene Fitch Ware (1841-1911), Rhymes of Ironquill (Topeka: Kellam Book and Stationary Co.), 1889.

First printed in 1885, Ware's poetry was compiled by T. J. Kellam, a Topeka book dealer, who clipped Ware's poems from newspapers. Ware was a Civil War veteran from Iowa who settled in Fort Scott and worked as a printer, lawyer, and harness maker.

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Hattie Horner, Collection of Kansas Poetry (Topeka: Saturday Evening Lance), 1891.

This early collection of Kansas poets was printed as a premium for subscribers to The Saturday Evening Lance, a Topeka newspaper that billed itself as "the Kansas journal of literature, politics, society and art."

From the Zana Knight Henderson Collection

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Mary E. Jackson, The Spy of Osawatomie; or, The Mysterious Companions of Old John Brown (St. Louis: W. S. Bryan), 1881.

This early novel about Bloody Kansas romanticizes one of the most violent times in Kansas history.

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Alexander Robertson, Madcap Nellie: A Novel in Real Life, Founded Upon Incidents in the Strange and Romantic History of the Famous Kansas Girl, Nellie C. Bailey (Chicago: Donohue & Henneberry, Printers and Binders), 1888.

Nellie C. Benthusen Bailey (b. 1862) was reportedly "won by fraud, sold for gold, bought with a price." The author, a doctor, fictionalized her story only slightly. Some bibliographers believe that this is the first novel about a native Kansan.

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Kansas Home for the Friendless (Leavenworth), The Kansas Home Cook- Book: Consisting of Recipes Contributed by Ladies of Leavenworth and Other Cities and Towns (Leavenworth: John C. Ketcheson), 1874.

One of the few hardbound charity cookbooks of the times, The Kansas Home Cook-Book is believed to be the first cookbook published in Kansas.

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David Stewart Elliott, Last Raid of the Daltons: A Reliable Recital of the Battle with the Bandits at Coffeyville, Kansas, October 5, 1892 (Coffeyville: Coffeyville Journal Print), 1892.

When the Dalton Gang tried to rob two Coffeyville banks simultaneously, the citizens took great exception. The hail of bullets that met the Daltons in the streets of Coffeyville left four of the five gang members dead (Emmett Dalton was seriously wounded) and four citizens dead.

Kansas in 1900

As the 20th century neared, many Kansans began to look back at the preceding years to marvel at how far the state had come in less than 50 years. The bloody violence that marred the state over the slavery question during the territorial years was more than a lifetime behind for many Kansans.

The state's citizens witnessed a great land rush following the Civil War, the ending of hostilities with Native Americans, the cattle boom, gunfights in the streets between lawmen and outlaws, severe droughts, Prohibition, a revolution in Populist politics, and the closing the American frontier.

At the same time, Kansans collectively learned about who they were and where they were headed: 1861-1900 were truly the formative years for Kansas.

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Mary A. Humphrey, The Squatter Sovereign; or, Kansas in the '50s: A Life Picture of the Early Settlement of the Debatable Ground (Chicago: Coburn & Newman Publishing Co.), 1883.

The author summarized this fictional account of early Kansas history as: "A story, founded upon memorable, and historical events, whose characters have been carefully chosen to represent the various types of men, and women who met upon Kansas plains intent on settling the vexed question as to whether the territory should come into the Union as a free, or slave state."

From the Zana Knight Henderson Collection.

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Charles Richard Tuttle (b. 1848), A New Centennial History of the State of Kansas: Being a Full and Complete Civil, Political and Military History of the State, from its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time (Madison, WI: Inter-State Book Company), 1876.

Although billed as a history of the state, this book was the first vanity history of Kansas. "Subscribers" to the book paid to have their biographies included; only 49 people chose to do so.

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Charles Sumner Gleed (1856-1920), The Kansas Memorial: A Report of the Old Settlers' Meeting Held at Bismark Grove, Kansas, Sept. 15th and 16th, 1879 (Kansas City, MO: Press of Ramsey, Millett & Huson), 1880.

Approximately 3,000 people attended this gathering near Lawrence to record their names, occupations, and dates of settling in Kansas.

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Benjamin Weaver (1835-1904), The First Settling of Kansas in the Year 1854 (St. Joseph, MO: Eugene B. Weaver), 1898.

Believed to have been printed by the author at his home, this little book includes the author's early days in Atchison.

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Edmund Gibson Ross (1826-1907), A Reminiscence of the Kansas Conflict (Albuquerque, NM: Albright & Anderson), 1898.

Like many other early Kansas settlers, Ross wanted to tell his story of the "bloody Kansas" period.

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F. H. Barrington, Kansas Day: Containing a Brief History of Kansas, and a Collection by Kansas Authors, with Other Miscellaneous Matter Pertaining to Kansas (Topeka: George W. Crane & Company), 1892.

According to the author, this book was compiled because of the "scarcity of Kansas books in the average Kansas home and in the schools." It is a collection of Kansas history as well as literature and poetry.

From the Zana Knight Henderson Collection.

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Hugh Dunn Fisher (1824-1905), The Gun and the Gospel: Early Kansas and Chaplain Fisher (Chicago & New York: Medical Century Company), 1897.

Fisher came to Kansas in 1858 where he settled in Leavenworth as a minister. In 1861 he moved to Lawrence and became chaplain for the 5th Kansas Cavalry. Fisher was in Lawrence during Quantrill's raid and later served as a minister in Atchison and Manhattan.

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Charles W. Goodlander, Memoirs and Recollections of C. W. Goodlander of the Early Days of Fort Scott, from April 29, 1858, to January 1, 1870 (Fort Scott, KS: Monitor Printing Co.), 1900.

First printed in 1899, this local history centers on the author's experiences in early Fort Scott. This particular edition was largely a promotional piece for the author's hotel in Fort Scott.

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Noble Lovely Prentis (1839-1900), A History of Kansas (Topeka: Caroline E. Prentis), 1904.

First printed in 1899, this Kansas history was one of the most popularly read at the turn of the 20th century. It was used as a school textbook throughout the state.

Kanzas: The Territorial Years.