The writer was acquainted with the family of this Charley Hayes. They were decent sort of people; but when a young boy Charley went on the plains, where he became a brutal ruffian. A good many years ago there was a story current in Atchison county, that when this Hayes was acting as wagon-boss on the plains, in a train owned by Russell, Majors & Waddell, that one of the teamsters having offended him he tied him up to a wheel of one of the train wagons, and, holding a pistol in one hand, he cowhided him with his black-snake whip with the other. And this teamster was a white man.
But there are avenging furies that follow a man, even though the law does not reach him. There is a man now living in Atchison county whose truthfulness has never been questioned, and he stated that he spent a winter in the Missouri River bottoms, sleeping in the same cabin with Charley Hayes, and that it seemed as if the devil had a mortgage on the ruffian's soul, and tormented him in his sleep with images of the horrors that awaited him in the future world. That it seemed as if he was wrestling in mortal struggle with the men he had maltreated and murdered, and that they were choking him to death. Hayes afterwards died of a consumption presumably brought on by his dissipated habits and by his debaucheries.
Meantime the writer had started for Illinois the preceding summer, had been prostrated for four weeks with a fever, and late in the autumn of 1856 had returned to Kansas, there to remain. The times were becoming quiet, the peaceful counsels of such leaders as Stringfellow and Abell were beginning to take effect, and it evidently would be safe for the writer to go to work on his claim. But he needed a supply of corn, and had to go over into the Missouri River bottoms to buy it. A heavy snow had fallen. I had a heavy, well-trained yoke of oxen, and my faithful riding horse was obedient in every place. Myself and brother-in-law had made a heavy Yankee sled that would hold all the load that was put on it. I borrowed from my neighbor, Caleb May, two additional yoke of oxen, but they only knew how to pull in a big freighting team, and were not leaders. But putting my own heavy oxen behind, my wild steers in the middle, and my horse in the lead, I made out a good freighting team. But I had to pass through Atchison. The business men of the place had already made this overture to me. They had said: "You can come to Atchison during the day time and we will guarantee that you shall not be molested, but we would rather you should not be here in the night. The South Carolinians are here, and there are other desperate characters here, and in the night we do not know what might happen." And so, on the strength of such an agreement, I had done business in Atchison, and to get my corn across the river had gone over one day and back the next.
I had yet one more load of corn to haul. There had been a thaw, and then the snow had frozen again, making it in many places slippery traveling. The river bank, from the top of the bank down to the ice of the river, was about twenty feet, and very steep; and this by much traveling had become a perfect glare of ice, so that teams could not hold their footing at all. I had gone over for my last load one day, intending to return the next day, but I had found unexpected hindrances, and when I got to the east bank of the river opposite Atchison, it was sometime after dark. I got down as best I could and crossed over on the ice to the Atchison side of the river, and I was now to get up that bank of glare ice.  I placed my sled load of corn at the bottom of the bank, and taking my team up in an unfrequented place, I stationed them on the top of the bank directly above my load of corn at the bottom. Before coming over I had cut a long, slender pole in the timbered bottoms, and in view of this contingency had also brought extra chains from home, and by means of the chains and this long pole I hitched my team on the top of the hill to my load of corn at the bottom. The thing worked well, and I had my load well on the top of the bank on the level ground; but here the road turned suddenly to the left close along the river bank, and my horse, too eager to get home, turned too soon, and this brought my sled with a sudden crash against a rock, and down went my load to the bottom of the bank again. A chain had broken, and now my load of corn was left in such a position that I evidently could not get it up again without help. In the hindrances to which I had been subjected it had come to be 9 o'clock. I looked about and saw no light save in a saloon that had been built under the bluff to catch custom, for this was the ferry landing. I do not usually visit saloons, but "necessity knows no law," and I walked in; and whom should I find but Grafton Thomassen, the man that made the raft on which they sent me down the river, sitting and playing cards with a number of South Carolinians! They were thunderstruck, and I have to confess that I was almost as much taken aback as they were. But I spoke to them and said, "Gentlemen, good evening." Then I explained, as well as I could, what had befallen me, and that I had come in for assistance. But they were dumb—they never spoke a word. I waited till my position became embarrassing, then said, "Well, gentlemen, you seem to be busy, and I don't want to interrupt; I will go somewhere else." I had already opened the door when Grafton Thomassen found his voice and said, "Boys, it is not right to leave Butler without help. Let us go and help him." "Yes! yes! yes!" they all cried at once, "we will go and help him." And, springing to their feet, and hastily putting on their overcoats, hats and gloves, they came rushing to the door, saying, "Yes! yes! We will help you. What is it we can do for you?"
I went with them to the river bank, pointed out my sled loaded with corn on the ice, and explained to them it had to be brought up the bank. They asked incredulously, "An' kin ye haul that thar slide up that slippery bank?"
I said, "Yes, I have done it once," then I explained how the chain had broken, and how my load of corn had gone down onto the ice again.
They exclaimed, "O! Well now! We have come all the way from South Carliny to see a Yankee trick an' haint we got it?"
They were eager to help, so as to see the fun. When everything was ready I gave my horse in charge of one of them, saying to him he must in nowise let the horse turn till the load of corn was well up and in the traveled road, then gave the word to start. My team was eager to pull, for they were getting impatient; and in fine style they brought the load up on the level ground, and then immediately were in front of the saloon, and I called a halt. When we got everything fixed I said to them, "Gentlemen, I thank you. You have done me a real kindness. But the night is cold."—and handing one of them a piece of silver, I said, "Please take that and get something to warm you."
He took it and with something of hesitation said, "Won't you come in and drink with us?"
I replied, "Please excuse me. You know me; you know I don't drink. But all the same I want you to take it."
He said rather proudly, "We did not work for you for pay. We did it to oblige you."
But I insisted. I said, "You did me a real kindness, and I want to do you a kindness in return. I want you to take it." Then they bade me good night and went into the saloon.
The wind had been rising, and the snow was drifting; and it was evident that in many places the road would be obliterated, and I had a long stretch of prairie to travel over on which there was not a human habitation. It was dangerous to undertake it, and I had to stay in Atchison. I found an empty corral, where my teams would be decently sheltered, and went to the only hotel in town. The sleeping room they assigned me was separated from the bar-room only by a thin board partition, and I could hear every word that was said. This hotel was the boarding-place of the South Carolinians, and they soon began to drop in from about town, and word was passed among them that Butler was in the house. Then one fellow, who was decidedly drunk, got turbulent, and protested, with terrible oaths, that such a man should not stay in the house, but that he would go in and drag him out of bed. Then another company came in and demanded: "What's all this fussing about?" These were my friends, the South Carolinians from under the bluff They heard what this fellow had to say, then said: "This thing has to be dried up." They then told what had happened down at the river, and concluded: "Butler is a gentleman. He talks like a gentleman; he treats like a gentleman; he came into this house like a gentleman, and we will show him that we are gentlemen." And when the drunken fellow became uproarious they hustled him off to bed.
I was evidently among friends, and slept soundly and without apprehension till morning. I never saw my South Carolina friends again. They returned home at an early day.
They had not made Kansas a slave state, but they had seen a Yankee trick.
Gov. Geary, sick in body and sick at heart, had left the Territory in fear of private assassination, his best friends at Lecompton being the treason prisoners. These, with something of bitterness, remarked that the Governor went away in such haste that he had forgotten to pardon them as he had promised; and thus while he got had out of prison, they still stayed in.
The party in power at Lecompton had said to the President at Washington: "We are sick of Northern Governors. They won't do to tie to. For pity's sake give us a man from the South." And so a Southern Governor was given them in the person of Robert J. Walker. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, said to the Jews: "My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins." So this Lecompton party found the little finger of this Southern Governor to be thicker than the loins of Gov. Geary.
Mr. W. stood so high in public position that no man stood higher than himself, save alone the President. He had been a Senator from Mississippi, and had been Secretary of the Treasury in Mr. Pierce's Cabinet. The complications of this Kansas question had become such as to call for a man of the highest rank and ability. The main object of Mr. Walker's mission to Kansas was to induce the Free State people to vote at the Territorial elections, which alone were appointed by the government at Washington, and recognized by it. Until he could accomplish this, nothing was done toward the pacification of the Territory. To induce them to do this, he pledged to the Free State men a fair election. But he found that he was speaking to ears that could not hear. He had said in his inaugural address with all apparent fairness:
I can not doubt that the Convention, after having framed a State constitution, will submit it for ratification or rejection by a majority of the actual bona fide resident settlers of Kansas.
With these views well known to the President and Cabinet, and approved by them, I accepted the appointment of Governor of Kansas; my instructions from the President, through the Secretary of State, under date of the 30th of March last, sustain the regular Legislature of the Territory in assembling a convention to form a constitution, and they express the opinion of the President that when such a constitution shall be submitted to the people of the Territory, they must be protected in their right of voting for or against that instrument; and the fair expression of the popular will must not be interrupted by fraud or violence.
This seemed very fair, but what did it amount to? The people knew that the Governor must consent to be a mere cat's paw and convenience of these conspirators, or else be unceremoniously thrust aside; and that the authorities at Washington would sustain them and not him. This had been the fate of Reeder, of Shannon and of Geary, and this also would be the fate of the present Governor. Dr. Gihon, on behalf of Mr. Geary, had bitterly complained that there was not a single officer in the Territory responsible either to the people or to the Governor; that all were the appointees of the Legislature, and responsible to it alone. The Lecompton Legislature had passed a bill calling a convention to frame a State constitution; and Gov. Geary had vetoed the bill because it made no provision for submitting the constitution, when framed, to a vote of the people; and the Legislature had passed the bill over his veto, and now what power had Gov. Walker in the matter more that Gov. Geary?
An event happened at that time that was a nine days' wonder, and a nine days' talk among the people; and yet it does not seem to have been put on record in any extant history of the period. The Governor had sought the privilege of addressing the Free State people on this question of voting, which he made his hobby. It was at a meeting at Big Springs. Gen. Lane was present, as also were a large number of Free State men, and the Governor had pressed on them, as the only road out of their difficulties, the necessity of voting at those Territorial elections, which alone were recognized by the government at Washington.
Gen. Lane arose to reply, and in a speech of terrible energy and power he arraigned the Lecompton party for all their wrongs and outrages; then, when he had reached the climax of his argument, he leaned forward, and, looking at Mr. Walker from beneath his shaggy eyebrows with his deepset, piercing black eyes, and shaking at him his long bony finger, his whole frame quivering with passion, he said in his deep guttural tones, which seemed more like the growl of a savage wild beast than the voice of a human being: "Gov-er-nor Wal-ker, y-o-u c-a-n-'t con-t-r-ol your allies!"
The effect was prodigious; and the Free State men were swept away as with a whirlwind. Even Gov. Walker felt the force of the appeal. But he showed himself a brave man; and came back resolutely to the battle. He said: "I am your Governor! You must admit that I have at least a legal right to control my allies, so far as to give you a fair election; and I pledge you my word and honor that I will do it. Now try me! and see if I do not keep my word!"
The Free State men began to falter and to ask each other, "Is it not best to try the Governor, and see if he will be as good as his word?" And from this time forward there began to appear a division in the Free State ranks; which sometimes grew to be bitter and acrimonious. This division had indeed begun to appear one year before, when on the Fourth of July Col. Sumner had dispersed the Free State Legislature at Topeka. Gov. Robinson was at that time a prisoner, and was, therefore, not present; but he said in his next annual message as Free State Governor:
When your bodies met, pursuant to adjournment, in July last, your assembly was interfered with and broken up by a large force of United States troops in battle array, who drove you hence, in gross violation of those constitutional rights which it was your duty to have protected.
Wm. A. Phillips, correspondent of the New York Tribune, and afterwards a member of Congress, was a man terribly in earnest, and he did, on the above-named Fourth of July, in a speech, take the position that we ought to fight for our rights and defy Col. Sumner and his dragoons. The men that demanded that we should fight said: "We can take possession of the houses and fire out of the windows, and thus avoid the onset of Col. Sumner's cavalry." But the majority said: "We are loyal to the old flag, and in no case, and under no circumstances will be found fighting against it." It was this more conservative majority that began to demand that the Free State men should listen to Gov. Walker's overtures and vote at the coming election.
Gen. Lane had been uncompromising in defying the Territorial laws. He had said: "Gov. Walker has said, 'Vote next week.' What for? Have we not made our constitution? And do not the people of freedom like it? Can't we submit this to the people, and who wants another?" But now he had become at the first reticent, and finally said: "Vote." This singular man that constantly kept on exhibiting his desperate determination to resist the bogus laws, really kept in his heart the one supreme purpose to make himself the oracle of the prevailing sentiment among the Free State men. When, therefore, Gen. Lane said, "Let us vote," it was good evidence that this had become the prevailing sentiment among the Free State party.
A convention was held at Grasshopper Falls, August 26, 1857, at which this was the main question, and it was decided in favor of voting at the coming election of Territorial officers. The Hon. Henry Wilson had recently visited Kansas from Massachusetts, and he had earnestly entreated the Free State men to vote. Phillips, Conway and Redpath still protested against it. Gov. Robinson, however, gave his voice in favor of voting.
An election had already been-held June 15th to elect delegates to the Lecompton Constitutional Convention, at which the Free State men had taken no part. Fifteen Free State counties had in this election been disfranchished, no election having been ordered in them.
At the election of Territorial officers, held October 6, 1857, both parties turned out The Free State men cast 7,887 votes for the Territorial Legislature. The Lecompton party was reported to have cast 6,466 votes. But though the Free State men had a numerical majority of votes, yet the districts had been so arranged that the above returns gave a majority in the Legislature to the Lecompton party. Johnson county, bordering on Missouri, had been united in one district with Douglas county, in which Lawrence is situated, and this district had been given eight members. Oxford precinct, in Johnson county, was a place of not over a dozen houses, and polled 124 votes for township officers, yet it reported 1,628 votes for the Lecompton party. When, however, Gov. Walker and Mr. Stanton came to canvass the votes they threw out this Oxford vote. They also set aside 1,200 fraudulent votes in McGee county. The vote at Kickapoo, equally fraudulent, was also set aside. This gave a majority to the Free State party in the Lecompton Territorial Legislature, and thus Gov. Walker redeemed his pledge that the people should have a fair election.
Judge Cato felt that it was time to come to the rescue of his friends, and issued a writ directed to "Robert J. Walker, Governor of Kansas Territory, and Frederick P. Stanton, secretary of the same," commanding these gentlemen to issue certificates of election to the men who appeared to be elected according to the original returns. Gov. Walker good-naturedly refused to obey the order of the court, offering to submit to arrest for contempt of court, and tendering the judge a. posse of United States troops to aid in making the arrest. The judge began to see that he had been making a fool of himself, and dropped the subject. These Territorial judges had shown themselves capable of any excess of villainy, and had been a sure refuge in every time of trouble to this Lecompton party; but even the courts had now failed them, and these "border ruffian" judges were only laughed at by this Southern Governor. One year before, these conspirators had assembled an army to drive out the Free State settlers, and to give the Territory into the hands of the South; but Gov. Geary had interfered to thwart their purpose, and, what was worse, a majority of the leaders of that army, men of note along the Missouri border, had declared themselves in sympathy with Mr. Geary. Then they had asked for a Southern Governor, for would not he be true to the South? And now even this man had failed them, and had given the control of the Territorial Legislature into the hands of the Philistines! They were indeed in evil case. It seemed as if heaven and earth had combined against them, and that only hell was on their side. One last chance remained. If this was a desperate chance, it must be remembered they were playing a desperate game—they would make Kansas a slave State in spite of the Governor, in spite of the Territorial Legislature, and in spite of the people of Kansas.
The Convention that had been called to frame a State Constitution, and in which election the Free State men had taken no part, had met to do its work in September of 1857, and finished in November; but to the last it refused to make provision to submit the Constitution, when framed, to a vote of the people, for acceptance or rejection. But in place of this thing, had virtually said to them: "You must accept this Constitution whether you like it or not. We will allow you to vote for the Constitution with slavery; or, for the Constitution without slavery; but you must vote in every contingency for the Constitution."
But admitting the people had voted for the Constitution without slavery, still a trap was set for them in the following proviso, which would still remain an integral part of the Constitution.
"If, upon such examination of such poll-books it shall appear that a majority of the legal votes cast at said election be in favor of the 'Constitution with no slavery,' then the article providing for slavery shall be stricken from this Constitution, and slavery shall no longer exist in the State of Kansas; except that the right of property in slaves now in this Territory shall in no manner be interfered with."
Thus, which ever way they should vote, Kansas would still remain a slave State. Of course the Free State men did not walk into the trap, but staid away from the election, which was ordered for December 21, 1857; and the Constitution was adopted by a strictly one-sided vote. And now Gov. Walker began to realize in the bitterness of his heart that "uneasy lies the head of him that wears a crown." He had staked his manhood, his veracity, his honor, his everything, that this Constitution, when framed, should be submitted to a vote of the people for acceptance or rejection, and now he was to be put to shame in the eyes of the whole world; and Gen. Lane was proved a true prophet when he had said to the Governor with such withering power: "Gov. Walker, you can't control your allies." Mr. Walker was able to show a private letter from President Buchanan, assuring him in the most positive terms, that this Constitution, when framed, should be submitted to a vote of the people; but of what avail was such a promise? There was a power behind the throne at Washington stronger than the throne itself; and Gov. W. was able to see what a hollow mockery was that power which he supposed himself to possess.
The Governor made known to the people that he would be absent on business for three or four weeks; and he went away to Washington, never more to return. There was neither pity nor justice for him there; and in unspeakable disgust he resigned; and Mr. Stanton took the oath of office and reigned as Governor for one month. Then he also was removed, and Gov. Denver took his place. Thus, five Kansas Governors had each in their turn been officially decapitated. Stanton had been superseded by Denver because he had called a special session of the now Free State Legislature, and it had ordered an immediate election to vote for or against the Lecompton Constitution, and at this election 10,226 votes were polled against it.
It had been intended that under whip and spur Kansas should be admitted by Congress as a slave State before the time should arrive for the regular assembling of the Territorial Legislature, which had now passed into the hands of the Free State men; but by calling a special session of the Legislature, he had enabled that body to order an immediate election, that should give official evidence that an overwhelming majority of the people were opposed to the Lecompton Constitution.
And now Stephen A. Douglas, at Washington, came forward as State Senator from Illinois and made it impossible that Kansas should be admitted as a State unless that document should first be submitted to the people for acceptance or rejection. A bill to this effect was finally passed by Congress. It was called the English bill. It proffered a magnificent bribe if the people would accept the Lecompton Constitution—five million five hundred thousand acres of public land should be given to Kansas; besides other munificent donations. But the English bill also contained a menace as well as a bribe. It threatened that if the people rejected this offer they should be remanded back for an indefinite period, to all the miseries of a Territorial life.
In the face of such a menace, and tempted by such a bribe, the whole voting population of the Territory turned out at the election, which was ordered to be held August 2, 1858. At this election, 1,788 votes were cast for the Constitution, and 9,512 against it. From whence then came this overwhelming majority? The majority of the Free State party was about two to one. "Wilder's Annals," the best extant Free State authority, puts it at this. "The Free State or Republican party has carried every election in Kansas since this date (1857), usually by two to one." But here is a majority of six to one; and we must go outside of the Free State or Republican party to find it. Dr. John H. Stringfellow wrote at this time to the Washington Union against the admission of Kansas under the Lecompton Constitution. He says: "To do so will break down the Democratic party at the North, and seriously endanger the interests and peace of Missouri and Kansas, if not of the whole Union."
Judge Tutt, of St. Joseph, Mo., had said to the South Carolinians: "I was born in Virginia, and have lived forty years in Missouri. I am a slave-holder, and a Pro-slavery man; and I desire Kansas to be made a slave State, if it can be done by honorable means. But you will break down the cause you are seeking to build up." And Judge Tutt voiced the sentiments of a large number of Pro-slavery men and slave-holders in Kansas.
The city of Atchison gave a majority of votes against the Lecompton Constitution; and Atchison county gave a majority of almost three to one against it; and Leavenworth city, which two years before had been the theater of such murders, riots and robberies, gave a majority against the proposition of the English bill of more than ten to one, notwithstanding the huge bribe offered if the people would accept it.
We are writing these "Recollections" for posterity as well as for the present generation. It is only the verdict of posterity that will justly estimate the men and the influences that went to make up the final result of the early Kansas struggle. Up to the present time the writers that have written on this subject have been too near the battle, and themselves too much a party in it, to write with perfect impartiality. Southern and Pro-slavery writers and speakers have not been able to admit that Southern men were the original wrong-doers; while Northern and Free State writers have not been able to rise to the level of such fair dealing, as to admit that when the decisive vote was cast that determined the question of freedom and slavery in Kansas, as absolutely as it had already been determined in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, the Free State people were indebted to the nobility of heart and elevation of mind, displayed by Southern and Pro-slavery men in making the vote so overwhelming as to put the question beyond the possibility of controversy forever; yet this was done in the unprecedented vote of six to one, cast in condemnation of the Lecompton Constitution.
From this time forward the two parties that had been struggling with each other for four years in such fierce antagonism were dead; and in their place have appeared the two political parties that are found throughout the United States; and the lines of difference between the men of the South and the men of the North have been as completely obliterated in thirty years, as they were obliterated in Old England, between Saxon and Norman, after 500 years of savage strife and turmoil.
And now, if the superior races of the world have been formed by the amalgamation of the kindred stocks, may we not believe that Providence has been preparing in this central State a people that shall bear a distinguished part in that mighty battle that is so swiftly coming to the American nation, in which we will be called to fight against a Christian barbarism and a paganized Christianity, for all that is precious in our Christian civilization, and for all that is true and good in our American form of government?
Rome fell under an invasion by foreign barbarians; so an inundation of the barbarians of the world is pouring in on us, and threatens to swallow us up; it is like the flood the dragon poured out of his mouth. Of our duties growing out of this catastrophe we shall write hereafter.
The writer of these "Recollections" is a fallible man, like other fallible man. He has shown at least this, that he is ready to stand by his convictions, living and dying; and he holds this conviction fixed and immutable, that there is a crisis coming on us of overtopping and overwhelming magnitude, and demanding the American people should come together and look each other honestly in the face, that they may take into their hearts this weight and extent of the reasons that call that they should join in united effort for the salvation of the nation and the conversion of the world; and that this does not allow that there shall be anything of flimsy, shallow, or hypocritical concealment of the facts of our history.
The world has had abundant experience of these border feuds. Scotland had her feuds between her Highlands and Lowlands. In Ireland there has been unceasing enmity for 250 years between her Protestant and Catholic populations. The French and English peoples of Canada are never at peace with each other; and now there is a feud that can not be healed between England and Ireland. In some of the mountain regions of the Southern States, where the people yet retain the clannish temper of their Scotch and Irish ancestors, there are neighborhood enmities that go down from father to son, from generation to generation; and that issue in such fist fights, brawls, and mobs, as sometimes to tax the whole energy of the public authorities to suppress them. And now, with such foundation laid for the indefinite perpetuation of similar feuds in Kansas, we do argue that it has manifested on the part of our population no ordinary qualities of heart and soul, that they were so soon able to eliminate from among themselves their turbulent and dangerous elements.
The men that had settled in Kansas were generally poor, and few had any reserved fund from which to draw their support, but were literally dependent for their daily bread on their labor day by day; and to take away the horses of such a man was literally to take the bread out of the mouths of his children. Free State men and Pro-slavery men had each in turn been thus despoiled and compelled to flee the Territory; or if they remained they were paralyzed and unfitted for work.
But the spring and summer of 1857 had brought a new order of things. Gov. Geary had put an end to these disorders, and the presence of S. C. Pomeroy and other Free State men in Atchison was an additional guarantee of peace and security. As a result the Kansas squatters had gone to work with a will. Old things had passed away, and all things had become new. There did indeed remain a chronic state of disorder in Southeastern Kansas; but this was local and exceptional.
But religious and thoughtful men looked far beyond this question of what shall we eat and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed? Intemperate habits were growing fast on the people. Coarse profanity and ribald speech were becoming so common as to be the rule and not the exception. Fathers and mothers began to tremble when they thought what their boys were coming to; and this turned their thoughts to the question of schools and churches. Then all the denominations simultaneously began their work. A church was organized at Leavenworth by our brethren, in which S. A. Marshall and W. S. Yohe were the leading members. Dr. Marshall had formerly been a resident of Pennsylvania, and W. S. Yohe was from the South, a slave-holder, a man of considerable wealth, and of eminent personal excellence.
The church that had been built up in 1855 at Mt. Pleasant had fallen to pieces in the troublous times, and was now reorganized at what has come to be known as "The Old Union School House," a place that has been hallowed to precious memories, because of the great revival that took place under the labors of D. S. Burnett in the year 1858.
The brethren that lived along the valley of the Stranger Creek and its tributaries, and that had met to worship two years before under the spreading elms that lined its bottoms, now organized themselves into a church at a village called Pardee. This ambitious little town was located on the high prairie; but it shared the fate of many other Kansas towns, equally aspiring and equally ill-fated. When the railroads were built they followed the courses of the streams, and it was left out in the cold; but for a time it was the center of social, political and religious influence in the county outside of Atchison.
Among the brethren that had been in Kansas from its first settlement, and whom we have not mentioned, were John and Jacob Graves, brothers from Tennessee, who have since grown rich in worldly goods, and richer still in good works. There were also Brethren Landrum and Schell, and many others whom we can not name. In the fall of 1857 came Lewis Brockman, who loved the church more than he loved his own life. He was brother to that Col. Thomas Brockman conspicuous in the Mormon war in Illinois, which resulted in the exodus of the Mormons to Salt Lake, there to build up a kingdom that cherishes a deadly and undying hatred to the United States, its people, and its institutions. Norman Dunshee, now Professor in Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, also came to Kansas from the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute at Hiram, O., in the fall of 1859, and settled at Pardee. Dr. S. G. Moore, of Camp Point, 111., who came in the spring of 1857, was brother-in-law to Peter Garrett; and these two men were of one heart and one soul in their aspirations for a larger liberality on the part of Disciples and a better order of things in our churches; but they had to take up the sad refrain so oft repeated: "We have found the Old Adam too strong for the young Melancthon." Dr. Moore was a man that, when he knew he was in the right, pushed his enterprises with such a rigorous purpose as sometimes to alienate from himself men who might have been won by a more complaisant temper. His stay in Kansas was limited. The dwelling in which he lived was struck by lightning, and Bro. and Sister Moore were seriously injured. From these injuries Sister Moore has never fully recovered. With broken health she became homesick, and pined to be among her kindred. Moreover, a valuable farm that Dr. Moore had sold at Camp Point fell back into his hands, and he felt constrained to return to Illinois in 1861. With such elements of power the reader will not think it strange that we should go to work with a will to recover the ground we had lost in this social and political turmoil and religious inaction.
The writer did not travel much abroad this summer; he found too much to do at home. We had meetings every Lord's day, and had frequent additions by letter and by baptism. One day, as my manner was, I gave an invitation to sinners to obey the gospel. There had been no indication, however remote, that any would desire baptism; but my daughter, Rosetta, now thirteen years of age, came forward and demanded to be baptized. Two years before I had brought her, then eleven years of age, with her mother, to Kansas. Some part of this time we had spent in the very presence of death; and Rosetta and her mother would not have thought it strange if a company of men had come into the house at night with murderous intent. I have not told in these "Recollections" how many times I felt it expedient to be away from home; and then Rosetta was her mother's only companion. Of young company such as girls usually have at her age, she had almost none. We had talked of these daily occurring tragedies until they had lost both their terror and their novelty. These certainly were not fitting surroundings for a little girl, intelligent and thoughtful beyond her years, and of an unduly sensitive and nervous organization. But she was her mother's only girl, this was our only home, and, coming out of the furnace fires of such a life, we could not think it strange that she should feel the need of a Heavenly Father in whom she could trust, of $ Savior's arm on which she could lean, and of a home in the church where she could find help and sympathy.
One thought was ever present in my heart, how far could brethren co-operate together who had been on opposite sides? To learn what could be done I made the acquaintance of brethren everywhere. The brilliant and erratic Dr. Cox, of Missouri, had sent an appointment to "Old Union," and Oliver Steele came with him. I attended his meeting, and Bro. Steele, Cox and myself accepted the hospitality of Bro. Humber. Bro. Cox, being now in the presence of a man reported to be a live Abolitionist, opened a discussion on the question of slavery.
I had been brought up on the Western Reserve, Ohio, and inherited intense anti-slavery convictions. But I had learned from the writings of A. Campbell to judge slave-holders with a charitable judgment. They had inherited the institution of slavery from their fathers, and like the aristocratic institutions of the old world, it had come down to them without any fault of their own. My experiences in Kansas certainly had not made me love slavery any better; still, all this, how bitter soever it might be to me, had revealed so much of real nobility in the hearts of many slave-holders that it had not impaired my feeling of good will to them. If I were to grant that they had been associated sometimes with men of desperate morals, had I not also been associated with Jim Lane, and had I not been compelled to hide myself behind the old maxims, that "Politics, like poverty, makes us acquainted with strange bedfellows?"
And so I argued with Bro. Cox the views I held, stoutly asserting them, when, for a wonder to him, Bro. Steele and Bro. Humber expressed themselves as coinciding with my views much more than with the views of Bro. Cox, who held the ultra Southern, John C. Calhoun theory of slavery. It appeared that these brethren held that if Providence has given to the Caucasian descendants of Japheth, a fairer skin, a higher style of intellectual power, and greater force of will, that the same divine Providence has given to the sons of Ham a darker color to their skin; but that all are alike the children of the love of one common Father; that Jesus died for all, and that he will not suffer with impunity any indignity to be offered even to one of the least of these his brethren. To the inquiry why these brethren did not give that freedom to their colored servants which they asserted was their natural right, they made reply, alleging the unfriendly legislation not only of the slave States, but of the free States; and that had interposed grave difficulties in the way of such a step. The Big Springs Convention had framed the first Free State platform for Kansas, August 15, 1855, and this, with hard-hearted inhumanity, had avowed the purpose to drive out of Kansas the free blacks as well as the slaves. The same principle was also incorporated in the Topeka Free State Constitution.
It will throw additional light on this subject if I mention that, in 1858, one year after this conversation with Bro. Cox, when the Free State men had obtained control of the Territorial Legislature, Bro. Humber went to Lawrence and laid before Judge Crosier, a leading member of the Legislature, from Leavenworth, the following proposition. He said: "I will emancipate my slaves, and will sell them land. I want them to remain where I can look after their welfare. I do not want them to be driven out of Kansas." Judge Crosier, while greatly sympathizing with Bro. Humber, had to tell him the thing was impossible. It is comforting to know that "The world do move;" that colored people do freely enjoy in Kansas now the rights Bro. Humber in vain sought of a Free State Legislature then on behalf of his slaves.
The reader has already heard of Big Springs as a locality where Free State Conventions were wont to be held. Lawrence and Topeka were twenty-five miles apart, and both were on the south bank of the Kansas River. Big Springs is midway between these towns, and is situated on the high divide, lying between the Kansas River and the Wakarusa.
Here, at Big Springs, were located four brethren, L. R. Campbell, C. M. Mock, A. T. Byler and Jack Reeves. Bro. Campbell was a Disciple from Indiana, of much more than average attainments, and of great force of character. In his immediate neighborhood, and as he had opportunity, he was a preacher, and when a church was organized he naturally became its leader and elder. His early death seemed the greatest calamity that ever befell the church, though he raised a family of boys that in process of time have taken his place, and make his loss seem not irreparable.
C. M. Mock was not a preacher, yet there is many a preacher that might well be proud to make himself as widely and as favorable known as "Charley Mock," and to be remembered with as much affection. He only remained in Kansas a few years, and then returned to his original home in Rushville, Rush county, Indiana. We may truthfully say, "What was our loss was their gain."
Bro. Byler was simply a large-hearted and kind-natured farmer from Missouri, who was too full of brotherly love to have anything of sectional prejudice about him. George W. Hutchinson, whom we will hereafter introduce to our readers, used to call him his "Big Boiler." His death after a few years was sad and pathetic; he had been to Lecompton and driving a spirited horse; the horse took fright, and threw him from his buggy and killed him.
Jack Reeves was the son of B. F. Reeves, of Flat Rock, Ind., so long the venerated elder of that church, and a sort of patriarch over all the churches. And the above-named brethren, as well as a number of others, hearing that I was preaching near the Missouri River, sent for me to come and make them a visit. I accordingly did so, and now, for thirty-one years I have not forgotten to visit them, and they have not forgotten me. From this time forward I preached for them as I had opportunity, and thus began to make the acquaintance of brethren south of the Kansas River. The church grew apace. At their organization they had twenty-five members. Two years afterwards they were able to report a membership of seventy-two persons.
The year 1857 passed rapidly away. My time was divided between working on my claim on Stranger Creek, preaching for the churches that had been organized, and making the acquaintance of brethren wherever I was able to find them.
And now the year 1858 was upon us, predestinated to bring with it consequences far-reaching, as touching the future of Kansas. In this year should be settled the question that had filled the Territory with agitation, tumult, and war for four years; and it was in this year that our Kansas missionary work was begun, and in which was organized the first missionary society. The time was the early spring of 1858. The place was "Old Union," a little, log school-house situated in a ravine opening into Stranger Creek bottoms. The personnel were, first, Numeris Humber, with his tender heart and quenchless love for missionary work. Then there was his sister wife, that with saintly presence and sacred song made us feel that this was the very house of God and gate of heaven. Judge William Young was also present, who had neither song nor sentimentality about him, but in his unpoetic way looked at everything in the light of cold, hard fact. And yet Bro. Young is neither cold nor hard, only on the outside. There also was Spartan Rhea (these brethren were all from Missouri), whose fine sense of honor and upright conduct we have already had occasion to commend while acting as justice of the peace during our former troubles. Joseph Potter was also there, and so, also, was Joseph McBride, a notable preacher of Tennessee, that many years ago was one of the pioneers that planted the Christian cause in Oregon. All told, we had a crowd large enough to fill a little, log school-house. Brethren Yohe and Marshall, of Leavenworth City, also gave us assurances of their hearty help and sympathy. This Dr. S. A. Marshall was a brother-in-law to Isaac Errett, and always deeply interested himself in this work of building up the churches. The church at Pardee was also represented. And this constituted the make-up of our first missionary society. Three churches represented, and enough persons decently to fill a little seven-by-nine log school-house. Let us learn not to despise the day of small things. As for the amount of money pledged—well, it would not have frightened even one of those little ones, that are scared out of their wits at the thought of an over-paid, over-fed, proud, luxurious and domineering priesthood. As for the missionary chosen to go on this forlorn hope—to explore this Africa of spiritual darkness, it was Hobson's choice; it was this or none. Except myself, there was no man to be thought of that would or could go on this errand, and so there was no contest over the choice of a missionary.
Conspicuous among these early churches were the churches that were formed in Doniphan county. This is the most northeastern county in the State, and is in a great bend of the Missouri River, having the river on three sides of it. It is a body of the best land in Kansas, and no county had at its first settlement as many Disciples. Their first beginning was unfortunate. A man named Winters, calling himself a preacher, came among them and made a great stir. But he brought with him a woman that was not his wife. With a character unblemished this man would have won an honorable fame; but when questioned he equivocated, but was finally compelled to confess the shameful truth, and in their grief and shame the newly-organized church seemed broken up. Jacob I. Scott was a man of spotless life and dauntless purpose, and feeling that it would be an unspeakable humiliation to allow everything to go to wreck because of the frailty of one unfortunate man, and learning that I had taken the field in the counties further south, he besought me to come over and help them. In no counties in this State have there been more churches than in Doniphan county, but in no county in the State have the churches been more evanescent and unstable, and yet it is not because these brethren have apostatized, but it is that the men that have settled in Doniphan county are men that keep on the borders of civilization, and the opening of a great empire for settlement to the west of them tempted them to move onward. Indeed, this has been the case in all the churches in Eastern Kansas. Just as soon as we would gather up a strong church it would straightway melt out of our hands, and its members would be scattered from Montana to Florida, and from the Missouri River to Oregon.
Some twenty-five miles to the northwest of my place of residence, in what is now Jackson county, on the waters of the Cedar Creek, was a settlement mainly from Platte county, Mo. The best known of these was Bro. John Gardiner, whose heart now for thirty years has held one single thought, the interest and prosperity of the Christian Church. He has sacrificed much, has labored much, and has done a great deal of preaching without fee or reward. Bro. J. W. Williams, from Southeastern Ohio, a man of saintly character and indefatigable purpose, was also of this settlement. There also we organized a church.
The places for holding meetings were of the most primitive kind. A log school-house was a luxury; the squatter cabins were too small; but we had to use them during the winter. The groves of timber along the streams were always waiting; but, we only could use them in fair and pleasant weather, and for six months in the year. As for hearers, we were never lacking an audience, we were never lacking for a crowd that were ready to listen with honest good-will to the message which we brought them.
It was an eventful summer. More rain fell than in any season I have known. The streams were always full, the bottoms were often flooded, and crossing was sometimes dangerous; but I had a good horse and was not afraid.
In religious matters everything was broken up, and men were drifting. But this good came of it, that they were ready to listen to this strange and new thing that was brought to their ears, in which so much was made of the Lord's authority, of apostolic teaching and apostolic example, and so little of traditions, theories, and time-honored observances, of which the Bible knows nothing, but which have been sanctified by universal acceptance.
As for myself, there had been romances enough about my life to make the people wish to see me, and I was proud to know that the boys could remember my sermons and repeat them. The men with whom I was immediately associated in this work, and who had sent me on this errand, were of inestimable advantage to me. They were well and favorably known as men of unblemished reputation in Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri. "Old Duke Young," as the father of Judge William Young had been affectionately called in Western Missouri, had been an eminently popular frontier and pioneer preacher, and Judge Young had inherited an honorable distinction as being the son of such a father; and when it was known that I was acting with the concurrence and under the approval of such men, the arrangement was generally accepted as satisfactory.
And now I had my heart's best desire. I was in the field as an evangelist; the harvest was abundant and the grain was already ripe and waiting for the sickle. But above all, and beyond all these, was peace in the land. We all had had a lover's quarrel, but we had made it up and were the better friends. Everywhere they had their joke with me, as to my method of navigating the Missouri River, and to the attire I sometimes put on; but I had come out the upper dog in the fight, and could afford to stand their bantering. There is a warmth, freshness, and enthusiasm in the friendships formed under such conditions that can never be transferred to associations of older and more orderly communities. As a result of this summer's work, here were seven churches full of zeal and rapidly growing, and occupying a field that had been almost absolutely fallow, for outside of the towns there was no religious movement except our own.
But at one point we were put at a very great disadvantage. Older and better established denominations were able to plant missionaries in such cities as Atchison, Topeka and Lawrence, while we were not; and yet in each of these cities there were from the first a small number of brethren, who might have served as the nucleus of a church. Speaking in general terms, monthly preaching never built up a church in any city, and the reader will see that in the very nature of things I could not set myself down to the care of a single congregation.
The same causes that have made me a preacher, have also made me an abundant contributor to our periodical literature. As I wish to present a living picture of these early days, I will, from time to time, furnish extracts from the contributions I have made to our religious journals:
[Written for the Christian Luminary.]
OCENA P. O., Atchison Co., Kansas Ter., May, 1858.
Having myself had a very full experience of the advantages and disadvantages, the trials, pleasures and perils of a pioneer life, I propose to write a series of essays on the matter of emigrating to the West.
While a grave necessity demands that many shall emigrate to the West, it is not to be denied that it is an enterprise fraught with many dangers to the moral and spiritual well-being of the emigrant. We have here men from the four quarters of the civilized world, and have thus congregated together all the vices found in Europe and America. The semi-barbarism of the Irish Catholicism of Tipperary and Clare is now fairly inaugurated in Leavenworth city. All the horses of the livery stables are hired to attend an Irish funeral, and as the mourners take a "wee bit of a dhrap" before starting, they are lucky if they get the corpse well under ground without a fight. By this time, having become over-joyful, they raise a shout, and with a whoop and hurrah they start for home, and the man that has the fastest horse gets into the city first. The unlucky traveler, whose horse gets mixed up with theirs in this stampede, and who thus involuntarily becomes one of the company at an Irish wake, has need to be a good rider.
German infidelity has been nurtured in Germany by a thousand years of priestly domination and oppression, and is now translated into our Kansas towns by Germans, who have no Lord's day in their week. Corresponding with our Lord's day, they have a holiday—a day to hunt, to fish, to do up odd jobs, to congregate together and listen to fine music, dance, sing, feast, drink lager beer, and have a good time generally. Under the best regimen it is hard for men to keep their hearts from evil; but here, it is a fearful thing for young men, released from all the restraints of their native land, to find the house of revelry and dancing so near the house of God, and the gates of hell, alluring by all the fascinating and seductive attractions of harmonious sounds, so near the gate of heaven.
I am appalled at the amount of drinking and gambling that has existed in Kansas, especially in the Missouri River towns, for the last three years, Under the shade of every green tree, on the streets, in every shop, store, grocery and hotel, it has seemed as if the chief business of the people was to gamble and drink.
There are other causes full of evil, and fearfully potent to work apostasy and ruin in the West. Men come here, not to plead the cause of a suffering and dying Saviour; not to give to the people a more pure and self-denying morality, and a higher civilization; but to get rich. They have had a dream, and are come to realize that dream. They have dreamed of one thousand acres of land, bought at one dollar and a quarter per acre, that by the magic growth of some Western town becomes worth fifty thousand dollars. They have dreamed of money invested in mythical towns, which towns are to rival in their growth Toledo, Chicago or St. Louis. The dream is to do nothing and get rich. Land sharks, speculators, usurers and politicians who aspire to a notoriety they will never win—a station they will never occupy—swarm over the West thicker than frogs in Egypt, and more intrusive than were these squatting, crawling, jumping pests, when evoked from the river's slime by the rod of Moses.
Some men are too old when they come to the West. They are like a vine whose tendrils are rudely torn from a branch around which they have wound themselves, and are so hardened by time that they can not entwine themselves around another support. Such men forever worship, looking to the East. They form no new friendships; engage in no new enterprises; they care for nobody, and nobody cares for them. They live and die alone.
But there are more sad and gentle notes of sorrow that fall upon our ears. The children mourn for the peach tree and the apple tree, with their luscious fruit. The mother-wife asks who will watch the little grave, or tend the rose tree growing at its head, or who will train the woodbine, or care for the pinks and violets? Then sadly she sings of home—"Home, sweet home!" The father, too, remembers his pasture for his pigs, his calves, and sheep, and cows. He remembers that on one poor forty acres of land he had a house, a barn, an orchard, woodland, maple trees for making maple sugar, a meadow, room for corn, wheat, oats and potatoes, besides pasture for one horse, two oxen, three cows, together with a number of sheep and pigs, Then there was the three months' school in winter, and four months in summer. There was the Sunday-school and the church, where serious and honest men uttered manly and religious counsel to sincere hearts, which nurtured good and holy purposes. All this he has bartered away for the privilege of being rich—of having more land than he knows what to do with; more corn than he can tend, and pigs till they are a pest to him.
Having glanced at some of the evils attendant on Western life, I must hasten to indicate what class of men should come to the West. The poor of our cities, whose poverty becomes the more haggard by being placed in immediate proximity to measureless profusion, luxury and extravagance—respectable people, whose whole life is a lifelong struggle to keep up appearances, and in whom the securing of affluence is like putting on a corpse the frippery and finery of the ball-room; young men with brave hearts and willing hands—these are the classes that may come, and should come, to the West. And if Adam, realizing that the world is all before him, where to choose, looks to the West to find his Eden, I would respectfully suggest that he has an infirmity in his left side, and that his best security against the perils of a pioneer life is to take to himself the rib that is wanting.
The tenant, living on the farm of another man, should come to the West. He can not plant a tree and call it his own. God gave the whole world to Adam and his sons, and the true dignity of every son of Adam requires that he should be able to stand in the midst of his own Eden and say: "This, under God, is mine."
There is yet another class of men that may always go to the West, or to any other place. Whether young, or old, or middle-aged—whether rich or poor—they may go, and the blessings of God go with them. These are the men whose hearts are full of faith, and hope, and love—who sympathize with all, and who, consequently, will find friends among all—who are willing to be missionaries of the cross, and to be pillars in the churches they have helped to nurture into life.
Kansas is full of men who were once members of our churches, but who are stranded on the rocks of apostasy, on whom the storms of life will beat yet a little while, and then they will sink down into ever-lasting ruin. Strong drink, the love of money, or, perhaps, the inadequacy of their former teaching, is the occasion of their fall. Others, scattered over this great wilderness of sin, remain faithful amidst abounding wickedness, and stretch out their hands and utter the Macedonian cry, "Come over and help us."
The apostolic age was pre-eminently an age of missionary effort. What will the world say of us, and of our confident, and, as some would say, arrogant, pretense to have restored primitive and apostolic Christianity, when our Israel in so large a part of the great West is such a moral wreck—such a spectacle of scattered, abandoned, and, too often, ruined church members, unknown, untaught and uncared for.
The peerless glory of our Lord Jesus Christ—his measureless, boundless and quenchless love—this is the great center of attraction around which the affections of the Christian do continually gather. The Lord is the center of the moral universe, and all its light is but the emanation of his glory. He dwells in the human heart, and fills it with his love; he dwells in the family, and becomes its ornament as when he dwelt in the house of Lazarus; he dwells in the church, and makes it a fold in which he nurtures his lambs.
Christians wandering over the earth like sheep having no shepherd, isolated from their brethren, dwelling alone—however frequent this spectacle now—is not often witnessed in the New Testament. There they congregated in churches. But this experiment of isolation is most perilous to the individual, and a prodigal expenditure of the wealth of the church, which has souls for her hire. It is true that a few persons become centers of attraction to new churches that grow up around them; but very many are lost in the great whirlpool of this world's strife.
What, then, is the remedy? Evidently this: Jesus accepts no divided empire in the human heart. He will have all or nothing. The Church of Christ, the cause of Christ, the people of Christ—these must be the centers of attraction to which the heart of the Christian turns with all the enthusiasm with which an Eastern idolater bows before the shrine of his idol. In return for such devotion Jesus gives to his people every imaginable blessing. Wealth, power, dominion, science, civilization, genius, learning, power over the elements of nature, and insight into its magnitude, do now belong to the Lord's people in Europe and America as they never belonged to any people before. Yet all these must be laid at Jesus' feet before he will make the returning prodigal the recipient of his love. Everything must be subordinated to our religion.
Since the almighty dollar has become the touch-stone by which everything is to be decided, I assert that this is a good speculation: secure a neighborhood homogeneous and not heterogeneous. Let its tendencies be favorable to temperance, education and religion, and in doing so a man will have added fifty per cent, to the selling value of his property. The present thrift, wealth, genius, enterprise and intelligence of the people of the New England States is the legitimate outworking of the training bestowed on their sons by the stern, old Puritans that first peopled these inhospitable shores.
But all temporal and earthly considerations disappear, as fade the stars at the approach of day, when we consider that measureless ruin, that gulf of everlasting despair, that voiceless woe, into which the emigrant may sink himself and family by locating in a profligate, dissipated or irreligious neighborhood, or in a community wholly swallowed up in the love of money, or absorbed in the questions, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed? What home on the beautiful prairies, what treasures of fine water and good timber, what corner lots, what property in town or country, can equal in value the guardianship of our Lord, the indwelling of God's good Spirit, the approval of a good conscience, the smiles of angels and the inheritance of a home in heaven? Let no man, therefore, fall into the folly—the unspeakable folly—of subordinating his spiritual and eternal interests to his temporal welfare. "Seek ye God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added."
To teach, to discipline and perfect the churches we have already organized; to gather into churches the lost sheep of the house of our Israel, scattered over this great wilderness of sin; to try and help those who are still purposing to tempt its dangers; and to lay broad and deep the foundations of a future operation and co-operation that shall ultimate in spreading the gospel from pole to pole, and across the great sea to the farthest domicile of man—this is the purpose which we set before us, and which should be pursued with the zeal and enthusiasm displayed by the followers of the false prophet of Mecca; and with the patience of the coral workers, who build for ages and cycles of ages their marble battlements in the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
In 1859 I only spent part of the year preaching in Kansas. At the earnest solicitation of Ovid Butler, the founder and munificent patron of Butler University, I spent six months preaching in the State of Indiana. A missionary society had been organized in Indianapolis, in which Ovid Butler was the leading spirit, and such men as Joseph Bryant, and Matthew McKeever, brothers-in-law to Alexander Campbell, together with Jonas Hartzell, Cyrus McNeely, of Hopedale, Ohio, and Eld. John Boggs, of Cincinnati, and many others, were associated with him in the movement. By these brethren I was for some time partially sustained as a missionary in Kansas. The formation of this society had grown out of a difference existing between these brethren and the General Missionary Society, touching what had become the over-topping and absorbing question, both to the churches and the people of the United States. As this question has ceased to be of any practical interest to the American people, I shall spend no time in its discussion, only to narrate, briefly, what happened to us in Kansas, growing out of the existence of these two societies.
Ovid Butler had set his heart on this, that the brethren in Indiana should have personal knowledge of the man that himself and others were sustaining in Kansas. I found myself greatly misunderstood, and was often hurt at the slights that grew out of these misunderstandings; and I tried hard to make these brethren know just what was in my heart, and what were the objects I was seeking to accomplish.
In the early spring of 1860 I returned to Kansas and resumed my work. Geo. W. Hutchinson had been a preacher in what was known as the "Christian Connection" in the New England States, and had been eminently successful in winning converts. But these churches were poor, and he having married a wife, his compensation did not meet his necessities, and like many others he went to California with a hope of bettering his fortunes. Afterwards he came to Lawrence, in Kansas, under the auspices of the Emigrant Aid Society. But his freighting teams having been plundered of a stock of goods, which they were bringing for him from Leavenworth to Lawrence, he was left to fight his battle as best he might. It was at this conjuncture that he made the acquaintance of the brethren at Big Springs, and became impressed with the simplicity and scriptural authority of our plea. It is well known that there never was more than a paper wall between ourselves and "The Old Christian Order," and there seemed nothing in the way of Bro. Hutchison. He had in his heart no theory of a regeneration wrought by a miracle, and which gives to a convert a supernatural evidence of pardon before baptism, and that should, therefore, compel him to reject the words of Jesus: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved."
The Christian Brethren have been supposed to have some leaning to Unitarianism, but he betrayed no such leaning. But while he had no love for the barbarous language in which Trinitarians have sometimes spoken of the divine relation subsisting between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet he was willing to ascribe to our Lord all that is ascribed to him in the Holy Scriptures. Thus joyfully he accepted this new brotherhood he had found in Kansas, and our churches just as joyfully set him to preaching. We needed preachers, and here was one already made to our hand.
Early in the spring of 1860 the weather came off exquisitely fine. It was like a hectic flush—the deceptive seeming of health on the cheek of the consumptive. It was a spring without rain, in which the sun was shining beautiful and bright, in which the evenings were balmy and pleasant, and the road good; but to be followed by a summer of scorching heat, of hot winds that burned the vegetation like the breath of a furnace, leaving the people to starve. The inhabitants of Kansas will never forget the year 1860, the drought and the famine.
It was in the springtime, in the midst of this beautiful weather, we called Bro. Hutchinson to come to Pardee and help us. This protracted meeting resulted in a great ingathering. It was largely made up of young men, who, for the time being, were located on the eastern border of Kansas, but that in the stirring and stormy times that were to follow were to be scattered over every part of the Great West. And now Bro. Hutchinson's fame as a revivalist began to spread abroad, and many neighborhoods where there were a few Disciples, and who were anxious to build themselves into a congregation, sent for him to come and help them; and thus our churches rapidly grew in number, and our acquaintance with the brethren was greatly extended. As a result, there came to be a common feeling among them that we ought to come together in a State, or rather a Territorial, meeting. Pursuant to such a purpose, a general meeting was called at Big Springs, Aug. 9, 1860, C. M. Mock having been called to the chair, and W. O. Ferguson, of Emporia, having been made secretary.
The following churches reported themselves as having been organized in the Territory:
No. of Members.
Pardee, Atchison Co 92
Union Church, Atchison Co 60
Leavenworth City 70
Big Springs, Douglas Co 72
Prairie City, Douglas Co 44
Peoria City, Lykins Co 23
Leroy, Coffey Co 108
Stanton, Lykins Co 91
Iola, Allen Co 21
Humbolt, Allen Co. 12
Burlington, Coffey Co 9
Wolf Creek, Doniphan Co 70
Rock Creek, Doniphan Co 30
Independence Creek, Doniphan Co 12
Cedar Creek, Doniphan Co 16
Olathe, Johnson Co 10
McCarnish, Johnson Co 40
Oskaloosa, Jefferson Co 10
Cedar Creek, Jackson Co 30
Thus of organized churches there were reported 900 members, and of unorganized members it was ascertained there were enough to make the number more than one thousand.
We find on record, as having been adopted at this meeting, the following resolutions:
Resolved That the thanks of this Convention be tendered to the Christian Missionary Society, at Indianapolis, for the service of Bro. Butler as a missionary in Kansas, and that the Society be requested to sustain him until the churches in Kansas shall be able to sustain their preachers.
Resolved, That Brethren G. W. Hutchinson, Pardee Butler, Ephraim Philips, S. G. Brown, W. E. Evans, and N. Dunshee be recommended to the confidence and support of the brethren as able and faithful preachers of the gospel.
WHEREAS, The brethren of Southern Kansas are in destitute circumstances; and
WHEREAS, Bro. E. Philips, having spent much of his time preaching, without fee, or reward, needs pecuniary support; and
WHEREAS, Bro. Crocker is about to visit the East; therefore,
Resolved, That we commend Bro. Crocker as worthy to receive contributions made on behalf of Bro. Philips.
Resolved, That we will encourage and, so far as we have ability, sustain by our prayers and means those who labor for us in word and doctrine.
Resolved, That we are in favor of Sunday-schools and Bible classes, and that we will use our influence to sustain social meetings in all our churches.
Resolved, That when we adjourn, we adjourn to meet at Prairie City, on Wednesday before the second Lord's day in September, 1861.
Resolved, That the thanks of this Convention be tendered to the brethren of Big Springs for their kindness and liberality during the sessions of this Convention.
On motion, the Convention adjourned to the time and place appointed.
C. W. MOCK, Chairman.
W. O. FERGUSON, Secretary.
The convention in its results was full of encouragement and joy. Insignificant as had been our beginning two years before, here were twenty churches and more than one thousand members ready to cooperate together and plant the cause in this infant Territory. This meeting also introduced us to many new acquaintances. Eld. S. G. Brown, of Emporia, had been diligently employed planting churches along the Neosho River from Emporia to Leroy. Bro. Ephraim Philips, at Leroy, also at that time became known to us. Bro. Philips, after some years, returned to Pennsylvania, and there went into the oil business with his brother; the brothers were successful, and afterwards distinguished themselves by a generous and Christian liberality. Bro. Crocker also, before his death, had won a large place in the hearts of his brethren. Elder Wm, Gans, at that time of Lanesfield, but afterwards of Olathe, will long be remembered with earnest affection; and it was at this time that he became known to us.
For reasons that we have already mentioned, the General Missionary Society had done nothing for us, but seeing that we were fighting a brave battle, and that we were keeping the peace with each other, they felt themselves moved to help us. Eld. D. S. Burnett was at this time employed preaching in Western Missouri, and was deputed by the Missionary Board to visit G. W. Hutchinson at Lawrence, who was winning golden opinions as an eminently successful evangelist. Bro. H. was not at home, but was away holding a protracted meeting, and Bro. Burnett therefore called on his wife. Mrs. Hutchinson was a pious, refined, and educated New England woman, who had married her husband after he had become known as the most successful evangelist in the "Old Christian Order" in the New England States. She had with pain seen him turned aside from his chosen work by hard necessities, and was now greatly rejoiced to see him once more a preacher. Bro. B. was an accomplished gentleman, whose polished and cultivated manners sometimes laid him open to the charge of a proud and aristocratic exclusiveness; but this Yankee lady herself knew how to queen it, and stood before him with no sense of inferiority. She frankly said to him that herself and husband were abolitionists, but that they knew the value of peace, and would do what could be done, in good conscience, to make peace and keep it. Bro. Burnett evidently went away from Lawrence with a good opinion of this family of Yankee abolitionists, and Bro. H. was immediately accepted as a missionary of the General Missionary Society. He used quietly to indicate to me that, as touching this interview, his wife was a better general than himself, and that it was lucky for him that he was not at home.
And so we two became missionaries, sustained by two different, and, in one particular, antagonistic missionary societies. Of course we did not quarrel; why should we? If I was sometimes charged with abolitionism, was not this man blacker than myself? We often traveled together, and held protracted meetings under the same tent. I had for a lifetime studied this plea which we make for a return to primitive and apostolic Christianity, and it was, therefore, my business to press upon the people the duty to yield a loyal obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ as our only Lawgiver and King, and thus to renounce all human leadership and the authority of all human opinions; and it became the business of Bro. Hutchinson to win the people by his magnetic power, and fill them with his own enthusiasm, and thus induce them to act on the convictions that had been already formed in their hearts.
I take on myself to say there never have been two more diligent evangelists than were Bro. Hutchinson and myself in the year that followed the Big Springs Convention. Looking over the whole ground, I am able to see that in that year was laid the foundation for that abiding prosperity that has distinguished our effort down to the present time.
There had come to the Big Springs Convention two brethren—Father Gillespie and his son, William Gillespie, living at St. George, on the Kansas River, fifty miles above Topeka and about eight miles below Manhattan. These brethren came to tell us that here were two settlements of brethren waiting to be organized into churches; and Bro. Hutchinson and myself both visited them during the ensuing autumn. A military road ran up the Kansas River from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Riley, passing through the village of St. George, But if I were to go to St. George by this route, I would lose thirty miles of travel, and I therefore determined to start directly west from my place of residence. But, in doing so, I would have to cross the Pottawatomie Indian Reserve, on which for forty miles there was not the habitation of a white man. Stopping over night with Bro. J. W. Williams, on the eastern border of the Reserve, I started betimes to St. George, traveling to the west. But night came on, and I had not reached the line of white settlements. I picketed my horse on the prairie, made a pillow of my saddle, and slept until morning. The night was warm and pleasant, and I did not suffer with the cold, and in the morning I was ready betimes to ride on to the residence of Bro. Gillespie. He was so glad to see me. It was worth a journey of one hundred miles to get such a welcome. And then there was Sister Gillespie, and a house full of young Gillespies, and they were all so glad to see me.
"Have you had your breakfast?"
"Well, where did you lodge?"
This was a poser. I attempted to pass the question by; but nothing would do, and I had to confess I slept under the canopy of heaven.
"O, dear! O, dear!" And had it come to this that their preacher had to sleep on the prairie! This was a family of hospitable Kentuckians, who were born to a love of music, and the old gentleman was a fiddler, and next to his Bible he loved his fiddle. Of course, we had a grand, good time, and were all filled with joy; and this was the beginning of the churches on the upper waters of the Kansas River. Twelve miles above St. George was Ashland, where we found Bro. N. B. White, father to A. J. White, who has hitherto been pastor of the church at Leavenworth City; but since has been acting as district evangelist. Bro. N. B. White came from Carthage, Ky., and long remained a faithful and indefatigable preacher. In my experience as an evangelist, I have known many men of superior Christian excellence; but never one man of more singleness and integrity of heart; never one man that had a clearer conception of the ultimate purposes and results of Christianity; never a man whose life was more unselfish and self-sacrificing. Being of an intensely nervous and high-strung organization, and doing his work in a mixed population that would have taxed the patience of Job in its management, it is no wonder that Bro. White was sometimes misunderstood, and, like all reformers, was made to feel that he was living before his time.
Thus passed in abundant labors the year 1860, and the time drew on for our yearly meeting, which had been appointed to be held at Prairie City in September, 1861. The brethren came together with real enthusiasm. During the past year the number of Disciples had been multiplied, and the cause had been greatly strengthened. It had been a year of constant ingathering. New churches reported themselves at this meeting, and brethren whom we had never known before. As evidence of what was being accomplished I will copy a note which I find appended to the minutes of the Prairie City meeting:
The following letter was received from a church meeting in Monroe township, Anderson County, said church being of the "Old Christian Order":
To the Elders of the State Meeting at Prairie City:
We, the Church of God meeting at North Pottawatomie, do recommend to your honorable body, Bro. Samuel Anderson, as our pastor. We also represent our church as in good standing and in full fellowship, numbering twenty-eight members.
Bro. Anderson, the bearer of the above letter, came before the Convention and said: "It does yet appear to me that a man's sins are forgiven as soon as he believes; but I do not think that for this cause there ought to be a schism between us. I am willing to unite with you in exhorting men to obey all the commands of the gospel, and in seeking to unite all Christians on the one foundation."
But there appeared one cloud in our horizon, one cause to hinder the perfect success of this, our second yearly meeting. The country was full of rumors of war, and there seemed impending a great national conflict. Bro. Hutchinson had been for one year an eminently successful evangelist; but now he went into the Union army as an army chaplain, and thus his work among us ceased. And now the war was upon us; we were predestined to see dark days, and the hearts of the people were full of forebodings of evil. Many of our young men went into the army, and for two years the produce raised by the farmers brought almost nothing, and many of our preachers retired from their work. And then there appeared in the land wolves in sheep's clothing—thieves wearing the disguise of loyalty to the "old flag," and who held themselves self-elected to punish "rebel sympathizers," and in the estimation of this gentry the best evidence that could be had that a man was a rebel sympathizer was, that he owned a good span of horses. It is said, "There is no great loss without some small gain," and these evil days gave opportunity to some of us who owed a debt of gratitude for kindness rendered to us when we were in sore straits, to pay back this debt by demanding justice on behalf of loyal citizens of Kansas, whose only offense was that they had been born in the South.
It is the purpose of this series of articles to tell how two peoples, the one from the South and the other from the North—the one the sons of the Puritans, and the other the children of the younger sons of the old English cavaliers—came together and settled in one Territory; how they were divided by the question of American slavery, and how they strove in an antagonism as fierce as that which once subsisted between the Saxon and Norman in Old England; how they peacefully settled their controversy, and in one-third of a century have grown into an eminently peaceful, prosperous, enterprising and well-ordered commonwealth, that stands conspicuous as an illustration and proof of the excellence of our national institutions. We are also to tell how that, out of the furnace fires of such a strife, a community of churches grew up that have for their purpose a restoration of primitive and apostolic Christianity, and the unity of all Christians under a supreme loyalty, to the Lord Jesus Christ as our only Leader and Lawgiver, and as the great Author of our American civilization. We are also to tell how the discipline of such a strife has created a people of such heroic temper, that this has been the first government among the nations to grapple with the saloon power in a final and decisive battle, which has banished it beyond the boundaries of the State, and has branded it as an enemy to Christian homes, an enemy to our Christian civilization, and an enemy to the welfare of the whole human race. Other States have paltered with the evil by means of feeble and frivolous legislation, but Kansas has grappled the monster by the throat by incorporating Prohibition into its fundamental law.
But, above all, we are to press upon the attention of the people the imminence of that danger that is threatening us, and that embodies within itself all other perils that hang over the nation. We are threatened to be overwhelmed by a foreign and alien emigration that brings with it the anarchy of atheism and the unAmerican and the anti-American traditions of a paganized Christianity. We have now fifteen millions of foreign-born citizens and of their children of the first generation in the United States. The Rev. Josiah Strong estimates that in twelve years their number will be forty-three millions; and a great part of this population is now, and shall hereafter be, under the control of Jesuit priests, that seek to maintain in the hearts of these millions loyalty to a foreign prince, resident in Rome, as superior to and more binding on their consciences than is that allegiance which they owe to the United States.
The city of New York has eighty persons in every one hundred of its population that are either foreign born or else the children of foreign born parents. Boston has sixty-three; Chicago has eighty-seven; St. Louis has seventy-eight; Cincinnati, sixty; San Francisco, seventy-eight, and Detroit and Milwaukee have each eighty-four citizens in every one hundred of their population that are either foreign born or else the children of foreign born parents. A nation is dominated by its cities, as England is dominated by London; as France is dominated by Paris, and Germany by Berlin; and our great cities have already become foreign cities, controlled by a foreign vote, and dominated by a foreign public opinion. Here in Kansas, in cities where there is a dominant element of foreign born citizens, we have to invoke the power of the State to compel obedience to our temperance laws on the part of this alien and un-American population; otherwise they overawe the city government and rebel against the laws. Self-evident it is that the presence of such a population is a threat against our social and domestic life, against our government, and against the Christian religion. But the presence of such an evil calls for union among ourselves. Poland was dismembered and ceased to exist among the nations, because of intestine strifes and divisions among its nobility, who were its governing class; and in the presence of such a danger menacing the American people it would be a madness unspeakable in us to keep up among ourselves either our religious feuds and bickerings, or the animosities heretofore existing between the North and South.
We must be one people, or this nation will surely perish. And this oneness is not to be brought about by the utterance of feeble platitudes, nor by the hypocritical profession of a good-will we do not feel; we must follow the guidance of that Book of all books that God has given us, by exhibiting that robust and manly courage that looks the truth and the whole truth squarely in the face. After making all necessary discount and rebate because of faults and infirmities, there is enough yet remaining of solid and essential excellence in the citizens of every State in this nation that they can afford to have the honest truth told about themselves. Is the sun less glorious because there are spots on the sun? Is the moon less beautiful because the man in the moon does not wear a handsome face?
On the late Fourth of July there was a rallying of the clans of the veterans—the men in blue and the men in gray—on the field of Gettysburg, to commemorate the battle they fought twenty-five years before, and to do honor to the bravery displayed by each man in fighting for what he honestly thought to be the right. This was as it should be. But there ought to be the celebration of another battle—it ought to be, even though it may never occur—that should never be forgotten. In that battle there was no dreadful carnage as on the battlefield of Gettysburg; there were no desperate charges made by cavalry and infantry; there was no heroic courage displayed under the pitiless peltings of a deadly hail of shot and shell; there were no great generals of national reputation in command, but humble men unknown to fame, in the final result came together, and with honest speech said, "We will shake hands and be friends. We will let bygones be by gones, and see what can be done by a united effort to promote the welfare of all."
Now we insist that Kansas is worthy of more honor than Gettysburg. But as in this wicked world the best men do not get the highest honor, nor the best deeds the highest praise, we will be content to bide our time, knowing that the Lord does not forget, and that he will speak a good word for us at the great judgment day.
Kansas led the nation in the abolition of American slavery; Kansas ought a second time to lead the nation in a universal amnesty, so that there shall be nothing to hinder that we shall preach the gospel to the devotees of the mother of Babylon, and to the millions of godless, Christless heathen that are thrown upon our hands, thus making them good Christians that they may be good American citizens.
In 1862 our yearly meeting was held at Emporia, and in 1863 at Ottumwa. These meetings were little better than failures. Yearly district meetings were kept up in Northeastern Kansas, in which more vigor was manifested.
And now the writer began to feel the pressure of hard necessities. For five years I had kept myself in the field on a salary utterly inadequate to my needs, and had been gradually running into debt, and these debts had to be paid. In anticipation of the future wants of my children, I had invested my available means in land; but as this land was not improved, it yielded me no return. In the distress that came on the people in those days, one means of making money presented itself, and many availed themselves of it. Gold had been discovered at Pike's Peak, and thitherward had flocked a great multitude of people. There were no railroads, and all supplies had to be carried across the plains in freighting wagons. This business was carried on by the roughest class of a rough and frontier population; still, it was an honest business, and honest men might lawfully engage in it, provided they had the hardihood to face the dangers and exposures of such a life.
During the years 1862, 1863 and 1864, I went into this business with a small freighting outfit. This certainly was not just the thing for a preacher to do, but necessity knows no law. In the spring of 1862, Bro. James Butcher was going to Denver with a freighting train, and he with myself agreed to go in the same train for mutual convenience.
The President, Abraham Lincoln, had ordered a draft, and many young men in Missouri had found themselves in a sore strait. In the South were their kindred, and they felt that they could not and would not fight against their own flesh and blood; and to avoid this they determined to flee to the gold mines in the mountains, where every man did what was right in his own eyes—and so they came to Atchison or Leavenworth and engaged to drive these freighting teams to Denver. Many of them were sons of rich fathers, well educated, and had never engaged in manual labor, much less in such menial work as this, and when these proud and high-spirited fellows felt what an ignoble life they had been reduced to, the reader may well believe they did not feel good-natured over it. And now, when these young gentlemen came to understand that they were to be associated with a man that was reported to be the representative of the hated Yankees, who had made war on the people of the South, and set free their slaves, they bitterly attacked me in wordy warfare. Of course I defended myself. And so day after day, in the intervals while our cattle were grazing, we debated every question relative to slavery that has been debated within the last fifty years. Their hearts were bitter; they were passionately excited, and would often end the talk, which they themselves had begun, With noisy profanity. They seemed to think they had this advantage of me, that they could swear and I could not.