WHERE ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND HORACE GREELEY STOPPED IN ATCHISON, IN 1859. Page 424.
RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY ATCHISON.
was in November, 1858--over four decades ago--that I first
set foot on the levee at Atchison. I stepped from the
steamer Omaha, remaining in the town not more than half an
hour, while the boat was discharging its cargo of freight at
the foot of Commercial street. At that time the place was a
small town when compared to the lively, bustling city of
to-day. I took up my residence in Atchison the following
spring, having this time come up the river, deck passage, on
a steamboat from Weston, Mo., where I had been employed as a
compositor a short time in the office of the Platte
Argus. In going up the river I took deck passage for the
reason that I did not have money enough to pay cabin fare.
On landing I had a solitary dime in my pocket, and with this
I bought a lunch--I had gone without my dinner--and then
started out in search of work. A sign over the office which
read "Freedom's Champion, John A. Martin, editor and
proprietor,"' attracted my attention. It hung above the door
of the only newspaper office in the city at that time, but
preparations were being made by Gideon 0. Chase, of Waverly,
N. Y., for starting a new paper--the Atchison Union
(democratic):, Before retiring to bed that night, through
the efforts of my friend Richard J.. Hinton, who had known
me in Lawrence and Quindaro a year or more, I succeeded in
getting a situation in the Champion office, beginning
work the following morning.
The road along Commercial street west of Sixth was quite crooked, for it had not been graded, and the street was full of stumps and remnants of a thick growth of underbrush that had previously been cut.* A narrow, rickety wooden bridge was spanning White Clay creek where that short but treacherous stream crosses Commercial, at Seventh street, over which stands the elegant office building erected by the late Senator John J. Ingalls, now in the heart of the city.
Between Sixth and Seventh streets, north of Commercial, was a frog pond, occupying most of the block, where the juveniles with poles, used to push dog rafts in high water, and where the boys and girls utilizing it as a skating-rink in winter used to have lots of fun. The Exchange hotel, on Atchison street, between Second and the levee, built of logs--subsequently changed to the National--was the pioneer hotel of Atchison, and for more than a quarter of a century stood as one of the old, familiar landmarks built in early territorial days.
Atchison was the first Kansas town visited by Horace Greeley. It was on Sunday morning May 15, 1859, a few days before beginning his overland journey across the continent by stage. He came through Missouri by the Hannibal & St. Joseph railroad; thence down the Missouri river from St. Joseph on the Platte Valley, a steamer running to Kansas City in connection with trains on the Hannibal & St. Joseph railroad. Here it was, at the old Massasoit House, that Greeley wrote, on Kansas soil, his first letter to the Tribune. During the latter part of the afternoon he was driven over the city in a carriage, the editor of the Champion being one of the party. The city was a favorite place of Albert D. Richardson, the noted correspondent of five Eastern newspapers, as I frequently heard him say, as early as the fall of 1857, when he resided at Quindaro, and before taking up his residence at Sumner.
It was at Atchison that Abraham Lincoln, on his first visit to Kansas, spoke to a crowded house on the "Issues of the Day," in
*Atchison was a dirty hole in the early '60's, before any macadamizing was done. John J. Ingalls, while doing editorial work on the Champion at that early period, frequently called the attention of the "city fathers" to the disgraceful condition of the streets. He characterized the city as a "hog-pen," and styled Commercial street as "a wallow for the vile brutes." The fact cannot be disputed that at times it was a fearfully muddy place. As late as the summer of 1865, the mud was so deep on the main thoroughfare of the city at the corner of Fifth street that a mule train going out of the city westward got stuck, and broke out the tongue of a wagon trying to get out of the mire.
the evening of December 2, 1859--the day that old John Brown was executed in Virginia. The noted "rail splitter" spoke in the Methodist church, which then stood on the hill at the corner of Fifth and Parallel streets. The little church was a frame building, dedicated in May, 1859, and overlooked a considerable portion of the city. The house afterwards became quite historic, for during the early part of the civil war the pastor, Rev. Milton Mahin, a staunch Union man, from Indiana, in a patriotic speech, soon after the civil war broke out, had the nerve and was the first minister of the Gospel in Atchison to raise the stars and stripes over his house of worship.
Atchison was the home of Samuel C. Pomeroy--one of the pioneers, its first free-state mayor, and when Kansas was admitted --January 29, 1861--he was chosen one of the first United States senators. He was chosen at the first session of the legislature, and, after holding the place twelve years, was then succeeded by another Atchison man, the brilliant John J. Ingalls. Mr. Ingalls lived three miles below, at Sumner, in the later '50's, but visited Atchison every two or three days, making his headquarters there in the spring of 1860. He practiced law for several years in Atchison, and held the important position of senator for eighteen years--from March 4, 1873, to March 4, 1891.
It was at Atchison that a party of "border ruffians" on the 6th of August, 1855, sent Rev. Pardee Butler, an earnest, outspoken free-state man and an abolitionist, adrift on a raft down the Missouri river.
It was also at Atchison that a party of pro-slavery men--hoping to receive a handsome reward--organized a posse and went into Calhoun (now Jackson) county, in December, 1858, to intercept old John Brown, who was camped there with a dozen or more negro slaves from western Missouri. The slaves had recently been liberated by Brown, who was going north with them by the "underground railroad," through Kansas and Nebraska, his destination being Canada.
In the early '60's Atchison was several times visited by a noted "jayhawker" named Cleveland. He was a fine looking, powerfully built man, standing over six feet in his stockings, and as straight as an Indian. He claimed to be a Union man, operating for the Government. While it was generally supposed that in his raids through the country he took property from the enemies
of the Government only--avowed secessionists--in reality he finally became so bold and hardened in the work he was doing that he took property. indiscriminately from friend and foe. He was, more than anything else, a genteel highway robber and desperado. It was not long until he became one of the most despised beings that ever set foot in the old town.
I remember well, during the fall of 1861, when he was supposed to be doing a valuable service for the Union cause, that the secessionists in Atchison were camping on his trail. He received his mail there when "jayhawking" in that part of Kansas. The post-office was located in a little one-story frame building on the south side of Commercial street, between Fifth and Sixth. The post-office building stood up on piles, several feet above the ground, where now stands a prominent building erected by Geo. W. Glick. I was employed in the office between two and three years as assistant postmaster and chief clerk, and slept there, while Colonel Martin, the postmaster, was off to the war. A number of times during that fall and the following winter I was aroused from my slumbers by Cleveland, who at that late hour of night always came around quietly to the side door to get his mail. He thanked me kindly always for getting up and accommodating him at such an unreasonable hour, and I became somewhat personally acquainted with him. Several times he offered to pay me for my trouble in crawling out of bed and giving him his mail, but I never made any charge for it or received a penny from him in return.
Some time later he appeared one morning on the street, when it was said that he dare not show his face in Atchison. The "home guards" heard of his presence and a squad from the "All Hazard" company quickly gathered and began drilling on Commercial street, at the corner of Fourth. Chas. Holbert was city marshal, and had charge of the squad. They were armed with guns of various descriptions which they had hurriedly picked up. The guards were composed largely of all classes of law-abiding citizens--numbering business and professional men--probably one-third of whom were, at heart, sympathizers of the Confederacy. It was known that Cleveland was in the city, and that in all probability there would be trouble in getting him out. While the guards were marching back and forth and going through the manual of arms, and while some other warlike demonstrations
were being indulged in, the excitement began to grow more intense. Cleveland at the time was on his horse at the foot of Commercial street, near the Missouri river, but was watching and saw every move that was going on, and no doubt realized what it all meant. He at once galloped up the street where the squad was drilling and, with a long six-shooter in his right hand, he marched Holbert in front of him up the street for a few rods; then, seeing a big crowd gathering on all sides preparing to rescue the marshal, he struck the latter on the head with his revolver; then, putting the spurs to his charger, he made the quickest ride out of town ever before made by any living man.
A few talked of mounting their steeds and pursuing the desperado, but by this time he was out of sight. He had one of the fastest horses in the country--a large, beautiful bay--and there was nothing in town that could get in gunshot of him. This all passed quicker than it takes to tell it. That was the last time the noted "jayhawker" and highway robber ever visited Atchison.
The first railroad built between the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers was the Hannibal & St. Joseph. It was completed across the State of Missouri to its destination and celebrated in St. Joseph on Monday, the 23d of February, 1859. While living at Quindaro, I saw the first two locomotives that came up the Missouri river on a steamboat. The names of the iron steeds were the Buchanan and St. Joseph. The name of the boat carrying the engines was the Delaware; it passed Quindaro about ten o'clock on Saturday, June 27, 1857. From the date of the opening of the Hannibal & St. Joseph road St. Joseph began to grow, and for a long time it was the liveliest and best city on the Missouri river. It was the farthest western point east of the Rockies then reached by the iron horse. Down the river it was a long distance to the western terminus of the Missouri Pacific, which was a little west of Jefferson City when I first came up the Missouri, on the steamer New Lucy, to Kansas, in April, 1857.
In the spring of 1860 four miles of track were laid opposite St. Joseph, between Elwood and Wathena. It was the first railroad built in Kansas; the initial rail being spiked down on the 20th of March. The first neigh of the iron steed in Kansas was from a train pulled over this line on the 19th of July, 1860, and the event was followed by a grand jollification.* The track, how-
* See note at bottom of page 414.
ever, was soon taken up, and a railroad due west from St. Joseph was not a reality until 1870. The first train to run into Marysville from St. Joseph was in January, 1871 (now the Grand Island road), and from that date Marysville continued to grow until it has become one of the leading towns in northern Kansas.
Atchison had become quite a point for stage routes as early as 1859. A line of hacks ran daily from there to Leavenworth; another ran to Lawrence; and still another, via Oskaloosa and Grasshopper Falls, over the prairies and down across the Kaw river (to Lecompton, Big Springs, and Tecumseh) to Topeka--distance, seventy-two miles. This was a rather circuitous route, but was the nearest and easiest way to reach Topeka at that time. To get from Atchison to Lawrence in pioneer days, passengers were obliged to go around via Leavenworth, a distance of sixty miles, until a "short line" was opened via Mount Pleasant and Oskaloosa, reducing the distance to forty-five miles and the fare to only $4.50. There was a line north via Doniphan, Troy and Highland to Iowa Point. A line was also operated via Doniphan, Geary City and Troy to St. Joseph. Another line ran via Hiawatha to Falls City, Neb. A little later the old town had blossomed into the biggest staging center in Kansas. The most important route having its headquarters in Atchison was a four-mule line--the Central Overland California and Pike's Peak Express--which ran its elegant Concord stages across the plains twice a week. The Kansas Stage Company operated the line to Leavenworth, which passed through the rapidly decaying towns of Sumner and Kickapoo. A daily line, also operated by the Kansas Stage Company, ran to Junction City via Mount Pleasant, Winchester, Osawkee, Mount Florence, Indianola, Topeka, Silver Lake, St. Mary's Mission, Louisville, Manhattan, Ogden, and Fort Riley. The distance by this route was 120 miles; fare, ten dollars.
On this route a change of teams was made on the site of the old historic Hickory Point battlefield, and here passengers for Topeka and points up the Kaw Valley dined at "Old Man Lowe's." Lowe was one of the early Southern pro-slavery men in Kansas, and naturally took a prominent part in the noted "battle," fight-
NOTE.- Nehemiah Green of Kansas, was a guest at the jollification held on the 19th of July. While waiting at the hotel in St. Joseph, Governor Brown, of Missouri, was momentarily expected as the city's guest. A number of people went into the hotel and shook hands with Green, calling him Governor Brown. Finally it became necessary for the gentleman from Kansas to rise and explain himself. He did so as follows: "Gentlemen, will admit that Brown is green and that I am not Brown."
FIRST TRACE-LAYING ON THE ATCHISON & PIKE'S PEAK RAILROAD. Page 413.
ing with the border ruffians against the free-state men in 1866. His eating station was a plain one-story log building, and overlooked a large scope of country with much picturesque scenery. Guests were hospitably entertained here during the days of staging between Atchison and Topeka, and the old log house became a favorite stopping place. Mrs. Lowe used to get up some splendid meals, making most delicious coffee, frying prairie-chicken, bacon, and doughnuts, and baking corn dodgers in a style that could not be excelled by the most experienced Yankee cook. While the stage passengers for several years dined at the house, it was always a pleasure to listen to Lowe; when asked to "tell all about it," he would relate some of the more important incidents connected with the siege of the old town, in 1856. In the engagement it became necessary for the free-state men to bring up their old historic cannon and drop a few shots; finally to push a load of hay against the building and set fire to it, as a last resort, in their efforts to dislodge the "ruffians."
There was a two-horse stage line in operation in the early '60's, carrying the mail from Atchison to Louisville. At that time--years before the railroad was built up the Kaw valley--Louisville was one of the most prominent towns in Pottawatomie county, having, in the spring of 1859, been an important station on the route of the Leavenworth & Pike's Peak Express. J. H. Thompson, a man well along in years, was the contractor for carrying the mail, and he was one of the jolliest and best-natured old men I ever knew. He was very popular, and every one liked him. Almost every man, woman and child on the route knew him, but they simply knew him as "Uncle Johnny" Thompson.
This mail line, as then operated, ran via Monrovia, Arrington, Holton, James Crossing and Vienna to its destination. Holton was really the only prominent place on the route between its initial and terminal points. Uncle Johnny's stage left Atchison every Saturday at eight A. M., and arrived from Louisville on Fridays at six P. M. Although the fare from Atchison to Louisville by the stage was eight dollars, really it proved to be not much of a bonanza for the proprietor. The building of the Atchison & Pike's Peak railroad to a point a few miles west of Atchison, in the later '60's, knocked out the stage line so many years operated by the genial Uncle Johnny.
The St. Joseph & Atchison railroad was finished to Winthrop
(opposite Atchison) and opened for traffic about February 22, 1860. Richard B. Morris was passenger conductor on the first train. Shortly following the completion of the road from St. Joseph to Winthrop (East Atchison), a great celebration over the event was planned to take place in Atchison, and later the day was fixed for June 13, 1860. The noted event took place according to program, the occasion for celebrating being the completion of the road from St. Joseph to Atchison and the breaking of ground on the Atchison & Pike's Peak (Central Branch Union Pacific) and the Atchison & Fort Union (now the Santa Fe) roads. From the preparations that had for weeks been going on, it was evident some days before the time set that an immense crowd would be present at the celebration, and that they must in some manner be entertained by the citizens of Atchison.
Promptly following the hour of twelve, beginning on the morning of the 13th of June, 1860, the work of firing 100 guns at intervals began. Those tired and wanting rest did n't like the noise, but there was little sleep for any one during the firing, which was slowly kept up the balance of the night. The last gun belched forth as the king of day was making his appearance on the eastern horizon. The weather was lovely; not a cloud to be seen. A gentle breeze kept the atmosphere cool. During the day over 3000 flags of different sizes floated in the breeze from poles, housetops and windows throughout the city.
The special train bearing invited guests from the East came on the newly completed road from St. Joseph at half-past ten A. M., with flags flying and a brass band playing.
The passenger steamer Black Hawk about the same hour came up from Kansas City, loaded to the guards with representatives from that place; while leading citizens also came from Wyandotte, Leavenworth, Lawrence, Topeka, and other towns of less importance. Kansas City then did not have 10,000 population, and there was little more than half that number of people in Leavenworth. The latter place, then by far the largest and best town in Kansas, sent a brass band along, and choice music, at frequent intervals, was discoursed throughout the day by the various bands present.
The authorities had cleaned up the city, and everything was in splendid holiday attire. There was a profuse display of bunting from nearly every business house on Commercial street, and that
conspicuous thoroughfare never before presented such a gay and attractive appearance. Second street, which had already assumed a business aspect from Main to Commercial, was also gorgeously decorated, and had never before looked so inviting. The Massasoit House, then the leading hotel in the city, three stories high, was decked with several hundred flags, and, all together, perhaps no other Western town of its size and importance at that early day ever presented a grander or more imposing spectacle.
In the procession that formed along Second street on that special occasion, one of the unique and attractive features was a mammoth Government wagon trimmed with evergreens, and loaded with thirty-four girls dressed in white, representing every state in the Union and the Territory of Kansas. Besides, there were three other wagons filled with little girls, similarly dressed, representing all of the forty-one counties of Kansas in its last year of territorial existence.
One of the contractors for Government freighting had a huge prairie-schooner drawn by twenty-nine yoke of oxen, the head of each animal ornamented with a small flag, while he himself was mounted upon a mule. The contractor was quite an attraction, dressed in the peculiar Western prairie and plains frontier cowboy costume, with buckskin pants, red flannel shirt, boots nearly knee high, with revolver and bowie-knife buckled around his waist dangling by his sides. The procession in line marched west along Commercial street to near Tenth. It was a long one, and it was estimated that there were 7000 people in it, and at least 10,000 in the city witnessing the festivities.
The ceremony of breaking ground for these two roads took place about noon, but there was nothing particularly imposing about it. The most important part of the exercises was the turning over of a few spadefuls of earth by Col. Peter T. Abell, president of the road, and Capt. Eph. Butcher, a railroad contractor. The event was witnessed by fully 5000 people, after which the monster procession reformed, and, headed by a brass band with other bands at different places in the line, marched across White Clay creek to the grove in the southwest part of the city, where the oration--one of the best on railroads ever made in Atchison--was delivered by Gen. Benjamin F. Stringfellow. Following the oration several speeches were made by the most prominent of the invited guests; one of them by Col. C. K. Holli-
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