Obrázky stránek


There is now being prepared a list of old settlers under the auspices of the association. One hundred and three names have already been enrolled; of these 25 are from Ohio, 17 from Pennsylvania, 16 from Indiana, 8 from Kentucky, 6 from Holland, 4 from New York, 3 from Virginia.



The Soul of John Brown-Sudden Death--Assassination of Josiah M. Woodruff-Two Persons Drowned-Fatal Runaway-Treasury Robbery-Death by Drowning-Fatal Accident-Murder and Suicide-Two Victims of Passion--Second Treasury Robbery-Another Murder at Red Rock-Drowned-Fratricide--Two Men Shot-Burned To Death-Early Crimes.


On the 10th of June, 1856 a public meeting was held in Iowa City for the purpose of firing the public heart on the subject of the Kansas difficulty. Several spirited speeches were made, and after the public meeting, which was held for general purposes, a private meeting was held for the purpose of devising definite measures in aid of those who were making their way to the contested ground in the interests of free soil. At this meeting the following address was prepared and placed in the hands of George D. Woodin, Esq., who was to visit all the counties to the south and west for the purpose of opening up a line of communication:

"To the friends of the Kansas Free State Cause in Iowa-The undersigned have been appointed a committee to act in connection with similar committees appointed in Chicago, and other States, and with committees of like character to be appointed in various counties of the State, and especially in those counties lying west and southwest of us.

"The plan of operations is the establishment of a direct route and speedy communication for eastern emigrants into Kansas. The committee have appointed Messrs. George D. Woodin, Esq., William Sanders and Capt. S. N. Hartwell to visit your place for the purpose of having a committee appointed there to facilitate the general plan of operations and carry out the details. They will explain to you the minutiae of this plan, at greater length than we are able to do in this communication.

"Capt. Hartwell is a member of the State Legislature in Kansas, and is recently from the scene of the ruffian atrocities which have been committed in that embryo State.

"We have here pledged our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honors to make Kansas a free State, and we shall expect our friends from this place westward will give us their hearty co-operation.

"Yours in the cause of freedom,

"Iowa City, June 10, 1856."

"W. P. CLARK, Chairman. "C. W. HOBART, Secretary.

"H. D. DOWNEY, Treasurer.


As before remarked, Mr. Woodin in particular was active and diligent in transacting the business delegated to him. He made a complete tour of the counties lying in the proposed route of the "emigrants" and established committees. He succeeded in enlisting in this enterprise the most active and reliable men in the various town which he visited who were in sympathy with the movement. Most of the men are still living and many of them have since achieved a national reputation. The following are the names of the individuals composing the committees at the various points along the route:

Wassonville-Isaac Farley, Myron Frisbee, N. G. Field.

Sigourney-N. H. Keath, A. T. Page, T. S. Byers, A. C. Price.

Oskaloosa William H. Seevers, A. M. Cassady, James A. Young, Louis Reinhart, S. A. Rice.

Knoxville J. M. Bayley, James Mathews, Hiram W. Curtis, William M. Stone, James Sample, Joseph Brobst.

Indianola-B. S. Noble, George W. Jones, Lewis Todhunter, J. T. Lacy, G. W. Clark, H. W. Maxwell.

Osceola-J. D. Howard, G. W. Thompson, A. F. Sprague, Jno. Butcher, J. G. Miller, G. L. Christie.

Quincy-R. B. Lockwood, T. W. Stanley, H. B. Clark, E. G. Bengen, D. Ritchey.

Winterset-H. J. B. Cummings, W. L. McPherson, D.. F. Arnold, W. W. McKnight, J. J. Hutchins.

Des Moines-A. J. Stevens, T. H. Sypher, W. W. Williamson, B. S. Chrystal.

Newton-H. Welker, William Skiff, William Springer, E. Hammer, H. J. Skiff.

It was necessary to observe great caution and secrecy, as the administration at that time was in sympathy with the pro-slavery party, and United States Marshals were on their way to Kansas from the North. The underground railroad having been put into good running order, Superintendent Woodin and his station agents did quite a business in forwarding "emigrants" during the fall, winter and following spring and summer.

One incident connected with the working of the underground railroad especially deserves mention, it was the first meeting of Gen. Jim Lane and John Brown.

Late in the summer of 1856 the people of Sigourney were considerably interested in an unusually large number of emigrants who came through the town late in the afternoon, and encamped for the night near by. Persons who had no connection with the "Emigration Society" noticed that Dr. Price and other members of the committee soon became very intimate with the leading men among the "emigrants." In fact so intimate were Price and his conferees with the chief emigrants that they held a conference in a back parlor of the Clinton House, then the leading hotel of Sigourney. After the conference had lasted some time the emigrants returned to their camp to look after some business while the committee remained in the room at the hotel awaiting their return. In the meantime there was a knock on the door, which being opened admitted a healthy, robust man, dressed in the garb of a frontiersman, who announced himself as Captain 'Moore, from Kansas, and desiring to see one Jim Lane, whom he expected to find at the place. He was informed by the committee that Jim Lane, for such one of the "emigrants" proved to be, had just retired, but would

return shortly. Upon the invitation of the committee the stranger took a seat, but upon being questioned by the committee with regard to Kansas affairs manifested considerable reticence, not caring apparently to discuss those matters. Presently Lane returned, and upon being introduced, the stranger looking him steadily in the face, and taking, as it were, an estimate of the man from head to foot, said: "You are Jim Lane, are you? Well, I am John Brown. I guess we have heard of one another before." John Brown, now satisfied that he was in the company of friends, and that his cause in Kansas would not suffer by a narration of events then transpiring in that Territory, threw off his former reserve and talked freely and passionately. It is said by persons who were in the room that they never heard such eloquent and impassioned words fall from the tongue of living man as those uttered by Brown when speaking of the Kansas troubles. He first spoke of the country; of the beautiful prairies, its rich soil, and its beautiful rivers, and while doing so his countenance lit up with an almost superhuman light and cheerfulness; pausing for a moment he seemed to be deeply moved, his countenance underwent an entire change, and from being an angel Brown now resembled a fiend. At length he broke forth in the most vehement language; he spoke of the blighting curse of slavery, and of the overbearing conduct of the pro-slavery men in their efforts to extend the accursed system; of the atrocities of the border ruffians from Missouri. When at length he contemplated the possibility of this fair land becoming blasted by the curse of slavery, its beautiful prairies turned into slave plantations, its fertile soil pressed by the foot of the bondman, and its beautiful streams flowing past slave-pene, he was unable to control himself; he strode through the room, he stamped on the floor, and tore his hair with his sunburnt hands. Jim Lane became inspired by the words of his new made acquaintance, and it was arranged that he should make a speech that night in Sigourney. The speech was made from a dry goods box in front of Page's stone block, which stood where now is McCauley's hardware store.

The "emigrants" had in their train a queer looking vehicle which they said was a prairie plow; it was covered with a tarpaulin and some of the curious citizens, after the "emigrants" had fallen asleep, became anxious to see what kind of an agricultural implement these tillers of the soil had, anyway; a slight investigation convinced these inquisitive ones that it would plow up the ground in spots if it once got to work on the soil of "bleeding Kansas," but that it would be too noisy and dangerous for the fallow ground of Iowa. That prairie plow proved to be an eight-pound cannon, and was heard from inside of thirty days thereafter. The emigrants, numbering some seventy-five, left the next morning accompanied by Jim Lane. In the course of a day or two the Kansas emigrants in charge of Lane arrived at Knoxville. Lane stopped at the hotel and the company passed on west of town and encamped on Whitebreast Creek. The following day there was a celebration in Knoxville and Lane was invited to deliver an address. Great excitement prevailed throughout the town and surrounding country and as there were many who opposed the colonization scheme of the friends of free Kansas serious trouble was apprehended should Lane attempt to speak. The celebration was held east of the present site of the Tremont House within the corporate limits of the city. Lane accepted the invitation to address the crowd and made a very impassioned speech; excitement ran high but there was no serious disturbance. Lane was never

daunted by threats of disturbance, in fact he was never so much in his element as when excitement ran high.

We are reminded of another event in the career of Jim Lane. It was during the late war when he, in command of a small force was guarding a town in Missouri. Some disloyal people threatened to tear down the flag. The threat was reported to the commander, when he turned to his informant and said:

"Tell those men who threaten the flag, that whenever that flag comes down this town goes up.'

[ocr errors]

It is unnecessary to state that the flag was not disturbed.

After making his speech at the celebration at Knoxville, Lane proceeded with his emigrants to Kansas, where they acted an active part in the bloody affrays then being perpetrated.

Bleeding Kansas, after bleeding for some four years, boasting for part of the time in two rival Territorial governments, was admitted into the Union as a free State in 1861. Jim Lane's pathetic end, falling a victim to his own vices and his own hands, and Brown's misguided but noble and heroic campaign at Harper's Ferry are subjects of fireside conversation in almost every household in the land, and it is hoped that the narration of the foregoing incidents, trifling in themselves, but momentous as passing circumstances attending great national events, will not arouse any slumbering animosities nor engender any new strifes.


Major H. D. Gibson for many years a highly respected citizen of Marion county, but at the time Indian agent for the Puyallup, Nisqually and Chehalis Reservations, Washington Territory, died very suddenly on Thursday, August 12, 1875, between the hours of 9 and 10 o'clock A. M., in his buggy, while returning from a hunting excursion. The following account of his death is given by a man who was with him at the time:


"I left home in the morning in company with Mr. Gibson, about 8 o'clock, in a buggy, on a hunting tour. On our way we stopped at Mr. Rundell's and asked Mr. Rundell about some papers concerning some government property. Just at the edge of a prairie, a pheasant flew up and Mr. Gibson got out of the buggy with his gun to shoot the bird. Mr. Gibson shortly returned to the buggy and took off his coat, remarking that he was very warm. He got into the buggy and said 'drive on.' While I was turning the buggy I heard a noise-a gasp and a choking sound. I said 'what is the matter Mr. Gibson? No answer. I then shook him and found that he was dying. I laid his head on my shoulder and drove home as fast as I could. In the morning before starting he ate a very hearty breakfast, after which he said he felt very unwell; he never complained before." Mr. Gibson doubtless died of heart disease.


In the draft of 1864, certain men drafted from Sugar Creek township, Poweshiek county, failed to report themselves in obedience to orders and under the law they became deserters. On Saturday, October 1st, the Provost Marshal of the Fourth district of Iowa, with headquarters at Grinnell, sent out two officers with orders for the arrest of these deserters.

These officers were Capt. John L. Bashore, of Appanoose county, and Josiah M. Woodruff, of Knoxville.

These men entered Sugar Creek township before noon, and meeting with a certain Mike Gleason made some inquiries as to the men of whom they were in search. After leaving Gleason they went to the house of one Craver, where they took dinner. After dinner they proceeded in the prosecution of their business and soon met three men, one of whom was the man Gleason, whom they had previously met, and two brothers named Fleenor. The conduct of these men convinced the officers that they meant mischief and Bashore sprang froin the buggy, and with revolver in hand began to remonstrate with the inen, telling them to go about their business as they were not the persons whom they were after. Woodruff remained in the buggy. It was not long until the men commenced to fire upon the officers. Woodruff was shot through the head and killed instantly. Bashore was also shot and mortally wounded. Gleason was shot in the hip and so seriously wounded that he could not escape. The Fleenors escaped. Upon hearing of the tragedy, Provost Marshal Mathews, of Grinnell, ordered out two companies of militia to assist in making arrests, and on Sunday evening Gleason and seven others were sent to Oskaloosa under guard. As there was no evidence to convict the seven they were afterward released.

On Monday following the bodies of the dead officers were taken to Oskaloosa, and at the sight of them the people were roused to such frenzy that nothing but the strong walls of the jail saved Gleason from vengeance. The following day the body of Bashore was sent to Centerville and that of Woodruff was brought to Knoxville. The funeral of the latter, which occurred soon after, was one of the most imposing affairs which ever took place in Knoxville.

All efforts to find the Fleenors were unavailing. They immediately left the country and have never been publicly seen in these parts.

Gleason lay in jail at Oskaloosa for a number of months waiting for his wounds to heal. He was finally arraigned before the United States District Court at Des Moines, found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged. This sentence was afterward commuted to imprisonment in the penitentiary for life.

The father of Josiah M. Woodruff, who at the time of his son's death lived just north of Knoxville, afterward removed to Kansas, where he still resides. A short time since he brought suit against the estate of Joseph Fleenor, five years absence of the latter raising the presumption of his death, claiming damages in the sum of twenty thousand dollars for the killing of his son. This suit is now pending in the District Court of Poweshiek county.


On Saturday, June 8, 1872, Byron Whitehead and his wife left their home near Gosport, in a two-horse wagon to go to Wheeling, expecting to be gone till the Thursday following. Hugh Thompson saw them passing along the road and this is the last that was seen of them alive.

Nothing further was seen or heard of them till the Thursday following when two boys who were fishing along Whitebreast Creek saw the horses in the stream, and upon further search the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Whitehead were found lodged in the creek some distance below the ford.

« PředchozíPokračovat »