Location: Lawrence Kansas

Biographical Sketch of Mrs. E. C. Billings

(See Ward and Cordery)-Jessie Lee, daughter of James Lovely and Charlotte (Ward) Bumgarner, born July 2, 1884, educated at Female Seminary and Lawrence, Kansas. Married at Spavinaw March 30, 1902, K. C. Billings, son of John C. and America Billings, born Aug. 10, 1818 in Texas. They are the parents of Beatrice T., born April 16, 1906; Love, born August 17, 1908; Charlotte America, born August 31, 1910; Edith Belle, born April 22, 1912; Myrtle Ceaphine, born November 10, 1916 and Iva Dell Billings, born October 25,...

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Slave Narrative of Eliza Whitmire

Person Interviewed: Eliza Whitmire Location: Vinita, Oklahoma Date of Birth: 1833 Age: 102 My name is Eliza Whitmire. I live on a farm, near Estella, where I settled shortly after the Civil War and where I have lived ever since. I was born in slavery in the state of Georgia, my parents having belonged to a Cherokee Indian of the name of George Sanders, who owned a large plantation in the old Cherokee Nation, in Georgia. He also owned a large number of slaves but I was too young to remember how many he owned. I do not know the exact date of my birth, although my mother told me I was about five years old when President Andrew Jackson ordered General Scott to proceed to the Cherokee country, in Georgia, with two thousand troops and remove the Cherokees by force to the Indian Territory. This bunch of Indians were called the Eastern Emigrants. The Old Settler Cherokees had moved themselves in 1835 when the order was first given to the Cherokees to move out. The weeks that followed General Scott’s order to remove the Cherokees were filled with horror and suffering for the unfortunate Cherokees and their slaves. The women and children were driven from their homes, sometimes with blows and close on the heels of the retreating Indians came greedy whites to pillage the Indians’ homes, drive...

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Biography of Frank P. MacLennan

Frank P. MacLennan is a fortunate man. Kansas is fortunate in having him as a citizen. As a youth he took from this state the raw materials which by the alehemy of a resourceful and independent mind and a vigorous ambition he transmuted into a career which has been of even greater beneflt to the state than it has been to himself. First and last Mr. MacLennan is a newspaper man. He knows how to write, especially when the subject is something not directly counected with himself. In furnishing the data to the editor of this new History of Kansas self-respect and modesty kept the copy boy waiting longer than he ever does when called upon for editorials or column articles on the most diverse subjects and topics. What is said in the following paragraphs concerniug him is partly in his own words, and partly such comment as seems appropriate to a better understanding of the man and his work. He was born March 1, 1855, in Springfield, Ohio, and lived in that state until at the age of fifteen his parents, Kenneth and Adelia M. (Bliss) MacLennan, moved to Emporia, Kansas. Though the facts are simply told, there is a great deal of moral inspiration in the story of his early eareer. “When I was a boy at Springfield I hung around the printing offices, folded papers and...

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Biography of Preston B. Plumb

In the words of his biographer, Preston B. Plumb was a pioneer in Kansas. He was one of the founders of Emporia. He was in the Union army, and both major and lieutenant-colonel of the Eleventh Kansas. He was long United States senator from Kansas. In the Senate he was one of the men who accomplished things. He was the father of the ides of the conservation of the natural resources of America. It was his law that created the National Forest Reserve and extended aid to irrigation and the reclamation of arid lands. Many of the laws on the national statute books were put there by Preston B. Plumb. He was a great man and a great Kansan. No attempt can be made to cover fully the life of this great Kansan in a brief sketch. Here will be found only those details which are the frame work of biography and some reference to the larger work of which his life was an expression. Preston B. Plumb was born at Berkshire, Delaware County, Ohio, October 12, 1837. His parents, David Plumb and Hannah Maria (Bierce) Plumb, were of old New England families, their respective parents having come as pioneers into Ohio. David Plumb was a wagonmaker. As a boy young Plumb put in part of his time in his father’s shop. At the age of twelve, having made...

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Biographical Sketch of Amos Hinsdale Plumb

Amos Hinsdale Plumb is one of the children of the late Senator Preston B. Plumb and Caroline (Southwick) Plumb. He was born at Emporia, January 31, 1869, He was educated in the public schools of Emporia and the Kansas State University at Lawrence. Mr. Plumb’s chief business activities have been in real estate and mining. He organized and is president of the Mutual Building and Loan Association of Emporia, and during 1915-17 was president of the building and loan section of the Kansas Bankers’ Association. He was married at Omaha, Nebraska, January 1, 1897, to Elva Lawrence Gibson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. M. Gibson of Omaha. They have one daughter, Roxanna...

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Biographical Sketch of James F. Legate

James F. Legate was a leading citizen of Leavenworth for nearly forty years, and during the active period of his life few men in the state were better known in legislative affairs. He was a native of Massachusetts, born in Worcester County, November 23, 1829, in the house built by his paternal ancestor five generations preceding him, and on land deeded to that ancestry by the Engilsh government in the reign of George H. His father was a captain in command of a privateer in the War of 1812, and on both maternal and paternal sides were numerous representatives of the patriot cause. After a short course in law Mr. Legate went to Mississippi, where he taught school, entered politics and in 1852, as a member of the State Legislature, espoused the cause of Senator Foote against Jefferson Davis. In 1854, while in Washington, Mr. Legate met Mr. Davis, then secretary of war, who gave him a letter to Col. E. V. Sumner, stationed at Fort Leavenworth, but when he arrived in Kansas in July and “looked around” he decided to make Lawrence his home. He was active in his espousal of the freestate cause, and was elected to the First House of Representatives under the Wyandotte constitution. In the following year he was appointed United States assessor, and in November, 1863, he moved to Leavenworth, which remained his...

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Biographical Sketch of Otis B. Gunn

Otis B. Gunn was a native of Massachusetts, born at Montague, October 27, 1828, and before he came west as a railroad engineer, had served as rodman on the Hoosac Tunnel Railroad and superintendent of the construction work of the line between Rochester and Niagara Falls. In 1853 he was appointed division engineer in the building of the Toledo, Wabash and Western, and followed railroad construction westward until he settled at Wyandotte, Kansas, in 1857. He was a member of the 1861 State Senate, and while thus serving was appointed major of the Fourth Kansas, later the Tenth Kansas Infantry. Resigning in May, 1862, he resumed railroad work, being connected, at varions times, with the Kansas City and Cameron, Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Central Branch of the Union Pacific, and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas. Of the road last named he built 600 miles; also constructed the bridge across the Missouri River at Atehison, and in 1876 constructed the union depot in Kansas City. In view of these unadorned facts, it is perhaps needless to add that Mr. Gunn was one of the leading engineers of the West. He died in Kansas City, February 18, 1901, and was buried in Oak Grove,...

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Biography of Robert G. Elliott

Robert G. Elliott was one of the founders of Kansas as a free territory and state. He was born in Union County, Indiana, July 23, 1828, of South Carolina parentage, and was graduated from the University of the Hoosier State in 1850. Among his classmates were the son and three nephews of Henry A. Wise, governor of Virginia. After teaching four years in Indiana and Tennessee, and becoming thoroughly educated and aroused in his absorption of the prevailing issues of the ante-war days, he became associated with Josiah Miller in the establishment of the Kansas Free State newspaper at Lawrence. They were college mates, brave and in perfect accord. The first number of the paper was issued January 5, 1855, but the plant was destroyed at the sacking of Lawrence on May 21st of the succeeding year. Soon afterward Mr. Elliott was appointed one of the delegates to the Philadelphia convention that established the precedent of admitting the territories to equal representation with the states. His trip East to attend the convention was also to buy a new printing press, but the closing of Missouri to northern travel prevented the re-establishment of the paper until the spring of 1857. Only two numbers of the paper were issued thereafter, its place of publication being Delaware, just below Leavenworth, then the county seat. Mr. Elliott took a leading part in the...

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Biographical Sketch of Owen A. Bassett

Owen A. Bassett was one of the ablest and most energetie actors in the Border troubles, the Civil war and the civil affairs of the Roconstruction period. A Pennsylvasian by birth, his father moved to Illinois in 1837 and two years later to Iowa. The family home was first in Lee County. The son’s original intention was to be a civil engineer, but he finally decided in favor of the law, although the stirring and compelling affairs which entered his life prevented him for many years from utilizing the legal training which he acquired. In 1855 he was employed in the United States land office at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, but in the spring of 1856 resigned to engage in business at Lecompton. Soon afterward he entered heartily into the free-state cause, joined the military company known as the Lawrence Stubbs, and was engaged both in the battle of Franklin and the capture of Fort Saunders. Subsequently he held the positions of engineer and quartermaster with the free-state army of Kansas, and in December, 1856, moved to Leavenworth. There he engaged as engineer for the Quindaro Town Company, and in 1857 and 1858 served in the Territorial Legislature. In the latter year he moved to Franklin County, published the Kansas Freeman a few months, returned to Lawrence and was admitted to the bar. At the outbreak of the Civil...

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Biography of William R. Smith

One of the fine buildings bordering the State Capitol grounds at Topeka is the Kansas State Printing plant. That is the official headquarters of William R. Smith, state printer, and also secretary of the State Printing Commission and chairman of the School Book Commission of the state. Doubtless any citizen, and particularly a printer, would deem it an honor to be at the head of an establishment which experts pronounce to be the equal in mechanical equipment and operating effieiency of any commercial printing establishment in the country. When Mr. Smith went into office on July 1, 1915, he brought with him a ripe experience, including an extensive service in all the grades of the printing business, years of editorial and newspaper publishing work, and perhaps best of all an inheritance and training in the progressive Kansas spirit. When the advancement of the welfare of the state is concerned, W. R. Smith can always be found in the ranks of the workers and usually among the leaders. The influence for good he has exercised as an editor in various sections of the state can hardly be overestimated. While his life has been distinctive in more than one particular, he is in every sense a typical Kansan. He was born at the old land office and capital, Lecompton, March 21, 1872. His grandparents, William L. and America C. (Barton) Smith...

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Biography of Marshall M. Murdock

Marshall M. Murdock, a pioneer journalist of Kansas, the founder of the Wichita Eagle and one of the marked men of the commonwealth, was born in the Pierpont settlement of what is now West Virginia, in 1837. He was of Scotch-Irish ancestry, and his father married into the Governor Pierpont family. Soon after his marriage the family moved to Ironton, Southern Ohio, and there Marshall Murdock attended the public schools and commenced to learn the printer’s trade. Thomas Murdock, the father, was unsuccessful in his business venture, and, as he had an abhorrence of slavery and Kansas was then the most pronounced champion of abolitionism in the West, he decided to try his fortune in that part of the country. The family and the household goods were therefore loaded into two covered wagons and a start was made for Topeka; the father drove one team and Marshall, the son, the other. After an overland journey of several weeks they reached their destination and Thomas Murdock settled on a farm near Topeka. When gold was discovered in the Pike’s Peak region, Marshall Murdock started for the excitement, and is said to have been the first to discover silver on the site of Leadville. While he was in the gold fields, the Civil war broke out, his father and two of his brothers enlisted, and he returned to Kansas to care...

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Biography of Fred Schuyle Jackson

Fred Schuyle Jackson, of Topeka, prominent lawyer, former congressman, ex-attorney-general of Kansas, is one of the many able men who have made Kansas notable as a commonwealth. His father was Martin Van Buren Jackson, who bore a conspicuous part in the border warfare of Kansas. Fred S. Jackson was born April 19, 1868, and his birth occurred in the block house at Stanton near Osawatomie. His early education came chiefly from the public schools of Miami and Greenwood counties, and of earlier experiences and service readered should be mentioned five years spent in the schoolroom as a teacher, In the meantime he read law, and in 1891 was admitted to the bar. In order to equip himself the better for his chosen profession he then became a student in the law department of the University of Kansas, where he was graduated with high credit. In the meantime he had begun practice at Eureka, and it required only a few years for a man of his excellent ability, his knowledge of men, and his high ambition to serve, to build up a large clientage and extend his reputation as a lawyer to many remote quarters of the state. After concluding his service in the office of county attorney, his abilities attracted the attention of C. C. Coleman, then attorney-general of Kansas, who induced Mr. Jackson to become first assistant in...

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Biographical Sketch of Josiah Miller

Josiah Miller, a pioneer newspaper man of Lawrence and Kansas, an ardent free-soiler and public official in the formative periods of the territory and the state, was born in Chester District, South Carolina, November 12, 1828. He gradnated from the Indiana University in 1851, and from the law school at Poughkeepsie, New York, and in August, 1854, came to Kansas. As his father had been waylaid and mobbed because of his anti-slavery views, it was but natural that Josiah should be an ardent opponent of slavery, and on January 5, 1855, he began the publication of the Kansas Free State at Lawrence. A pro-slavery jury found an indictment against him for maintaining a nuisance in its publication, and on May 21, 1856, his printing office was destroyed by the territorial anthorities. In that year he made speeches in several states for John C. Fremont, the republican candidate for president, and in 1857 was elected probate judge of Douglas County. In 1861 he was a member of the first State Senate, but resigned his seat in that body to become postmaster at Lawrence. In 1863 he was appointed a paymaster in the army, with the rank of major, and in 1866 was elected a member of the Legislature. His death occurred at Lawrence on July 7, 1870, after having a leg amputated. The inscription on the monument erected to his...

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Biographical Sketch of Jacob Branson

Jacob Branson was one of the early settlers of Douglas County and a leader of the free-soilers. His home was at Hickory Point, about ten miles south of Lawrence on the old Santa Fe road. Many of the early settlers in that region were Hoosiers, some of whom temporarily returned to the East. Their claims were at once jumped by Missourians and other pro-slavery men, and the quarrels over these land contestants were especially fierce. Franklin Coleman, a pro-slavery man, and Charles W. Dow, who lived with Branson and was a free-state man, quarreled over their claims and on November 21, 1855, Coleman shot and murdered Dow on the road. The assassin gave himself up to Samuel J. Jones, the sheriff of Douglas County, and a friend of the pro-slavery party, but after Dow’s funeral, the settlers of Hickory Point, under the leadership of Branson, organized a committee to see that justice was done. A warrant for his arrest was sworn out by one of Coleman’s friends, and Sheriff Jones, with his posse, attempted to serve it on Branson. But the sheriff and his force withdrew when he found the extent and quality of the opposition. Branson offered to leave Lawrence to prevent the enemy from sacking the town, but that misfortune was not to be until the following...

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Biographical Sketch of Col. John Fraser

Col. John Fraser, second chancellor of the University of Kansas and state superintendent of public instruction, earned his military title and became widely known as an educator, while a citizen of Pennsylvania. He was born in Cromarty, Scotland, about 1823; graduated with high mathematical honors from the University of Aberdeen and thereafter spent several years in the Bermudas as a teacher. Coming to the States he conducted several private schools in New York and Pennsylvania, and then held the chair of mathematies at Jefferson College for seven years from 1855, during which period he raised money for the first telescope used in a Western Pennsylvania institution and superintended the erection of an observatory. In 1862 he enlisted as a private at Canonsburg and fought for the North throughout the Civil war. He won the rank of captain of the One Hundred and Fortieth Pennsylvania volunteers in August, 1862; became lieutenant colonel in September, and in July of the next year was made colonel. “During the charge of Hancock at Spottsylvania he was wounded by a shell, and in September, 1864, he was captured and held at Libby Prison, Richmond, Va., Roper’s Hospital, Charlestown, S. C., and finally at Camp Sorghum, Columbia, S. C.” He was finally exchanged, and returning to his regiment was made brevet brigadier general and was mustered out in May, 1865. He then became president of...

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