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LAWRENCE, KANSAS MASSACRE OF AUGUST 21, 1863 BY QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS

Horrible Massacre At Lawrence, Kansas as told by the "Washington Reporter" Washington, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, September 2, 1863

An account of the guerilla chief Quantrill, upon the city of Lawrence, Kansas, on the 20th ult, which we had intended for last week's issue was crowded out, and even now we are compelled to content ourselves with a mere synopsis of the heart sickening details.

On the 20th, as above stated, this desparado with his band of cut-throats, consisting of about 300 crossed the river from Missouri and marched upon Lawrence, and set fire to the town, at the same time shooting many of its unarmed and defenceless citizens. In short, all the accounts of brutal outrages perpetrated since the commencement of this war appear to have been thrown utterly in the shade by this raid from Missouri upon Lawrence. By way of giving our readers an idea of the enormities perpetrated on this terrible occasion we copy the following special dispatch from Leavenworth to the Chicago Tribune, dated four days after the deed of murder and rapine took place:

LEAVENWORTH, KANSAS, August 24

The CONSERVATIVE publishes the following account of the Lawrence massacre from one of its editors, just returned from the ruins:

We arrived in Lawrence at seven o'clock. Flying rumors had painted a terrible picture, but the reality exceeded the report. We found Massachusetts Street one mass of smoldering ruins and crumbling walls, the light from which cast a sickening glare upon the crowds of excited men and distracted women gazing upon the ruins of their once happy homes and prosperous business.

Only two business houses were left upon this street, one known as the Armory, and the other the Old Mill block. About twenty-five houses in all were burned, and only one or two escaped being ransacked and everything of value carried away or destroyed.

Six or eight soldiers camped upon this side of the river, and who fired across at every rebel who appeared upon the bank, deterred the cowards from destroying some of the houses near the ferry, and from outting down the flag pole.

The force of the rebels is variously estimated at from two hundred and fifty to four hundred. Reliable parties place it at three hundred. Their every net during their stay in the city was characterised by the most cowardly barbarity. They entered the town on the gallop, firing into every house, and when the occupants appeared at the door they were shot down like dogs. Five bodies were burned to a crisp, and lay near the Eldridge House. They could not be recognized.

Eighteen out of twenty two unarmed colored recruits camped south of town, were murdered in their tents. Their bodies lay in the colored church when we arrived.

Messrs. Trask and Dr. Griswold, Baker and Thorp were shot down in the yard of Dr. G. before the eyes of their families. Judge Carpenter was wounded in his yard and fell, when his wife and sister threw themselves upon his body begging for mercy, but to no avail. The fiends dismounted, struck their pistols between the persons of his protectors and fired.

A Miss Stone, daughter of the proprietor of the City Hotel, had a diamond ring stolen from her finger. Quantrill obliged the man to restore it. (THIS WAS LARKIN SKAGGS) In revenge for this the ruffians afterward came back and shot her father before her mother's eyes. They also tried to kill Miss Stone.

General Collamore went into his well to hide, and the bad air killed him. His son and Patrick Knafe lost their lives trying to get the father out. The life of District Attorney Tiggs was saved by the heroism of his wife, who seized the bridle of the rebel's horse who attempted to shoot him as he ran.

Several cases of remarkable bravery of women were related to us.

The wife of Sheriff Brown, three successive times, put out the fire kindled to burn the house. Her husband was hidden under the floor. The house was saved by her heroism.

The offices of the JOURNAL, TRIBUNE, AND REPUBLICAN were of course leveled to the ground. JNO SPEER, JR, of the Tribune, started for his home from the office after the rebels came in. Mr. Murdock, a printer in the office, tried to induce him to accompany him into a well near by, for safety; but he would do nothing but go home to defend the house; which he did, and was killed. Murdock went into the well and was saved.

A younger son of JOHN SPEER, SR (WILLIAM WHO WAS 15 YEARS OLD), killed a rebel and left. (A DAUGHTER OF HARDIN SPEER, LILLIAN CLAIMS IT WAS WILLIAM WHO SHOT LARKIN SKAGGS WOUNDING HIM. SHE TELLS THAT WILLIAM SPEER MADE A STATEMENT TO HIS MOTHER ABOUT FINDING THE GUN LAYING ON THE GROUND AND SHOOTING A REBEL, AT WHICH TIME HIS MOTHER POINTED AT LARKIN SKAGGS. HE DID SHOOT LARKIN ONLY WOUNDING HIM AND THREW DOWN HIS GUN. LARKIN WAS SHOT AGAIN AND KILLED LATER BY AN INDIAN. HARDIN SPEER WAS ONLY 2 YEARS OLD WHEN THE RAID OCCURRED, AND WAS THE SON OF JOHN SPEER SR AND ELIZABETH DUPLESSIS MCMAHAN)

The guests at the Eldridge House were ordered out, their rooms pillaged, and some of the people shot. Two men from Ohio were wounded there and are now in this city. Only the presence and preremptory orders of Quantrill prevented the massacre of the occupants.

After they had been marched about on the streets, the rebels were told there was a negro baby in the house. They said: "We will burn the G-- d--d little brat up." And they did. We saw the charred remains, burned as black as the hearts of its murderers.

The books of the county and district clerks were burned, but those of the register of deeds were in the safe, and are supposed to have been saved. Every safe in the city but two were robbed. In the Eldridge store, James Eldridge and James Perrine gave the rebels all the money in the safe, and were immediately shot down. All the hotels were destroyed, except the City Hotel. The loss in cash is estimated at $250,000, and on property and all at two million dollars. This is a low enough estimate.

The number of bodies, up to the time we left, was 113, of which about twenty were so badly burnt as to render recognition impossible. (ONE OF WHICH WAS ROBERT SPEER WHOSE BODY WAS NEVER FOUND) There were a number of strangers in town, and when the entire loss is ascertained, we think it will reach 150 killed. Many were doubtless killed by the rebel pickets in the bush.

The people have not yet recovered from the terrible blow sufficiently to appreciate the full force of their devastation, and when they do recover from their shock, many more will be doubtless missing.

We have seen battle-fields and scenes of carnage and bloodshed, but have never witnessed a spectacle so horrifying as that scene among the smoldering ruins at Lawrence. No fighting, no resistance, but cold blooded murder was there.

The fiends finished their murderous work in nearly every case. A few negroes were killed, but did not ascertain their names.

Major Plumb was at Blue Mound, five miles east of Lawrence, when Quantrell left town. He failed to aid Lane. Report says Plumb's men denounced him for declining to attack Quantrell who offered him battle.

At one point near Ottawa, Lane headed off Quantrell. The rebels turned and charged on Plumb, and drove him for about a mile.

Ewing had a telegraph from his adjutant at Kansas City the night before the attack on Lawrence, but did not leave here until 2 o'clock p.m. the next day. He then went to De Soto Ferry, about twenty miles south of this place and twenty miles east of Lawrence. At noon of Saturday he was only ten miles south of De Soto. He ought to have taken the steamer Emelie, which was at our levee, and then leaving at the later hour he did, he could have overtaken Quantrell, and with 300 fresh men and horses he could have captured him.

This awful loss of life and property is universally attributed to the incompetency and inability of Schofield and Ewing.

We were promised security to our lives and property. Our people have been murdered and our property destroyed.

Will the Government protect us, or permit us to protect ourselves?

The telegraph dispatches to the Associated Press have been mutilated, and the military authorities dare not let the truth be told.

Our citizens have sent to Lawrence a long train, taking provisions and clothing. $20,000 has been subscribed by our people for the immediate relief of the sufferers who were left without clothing or food.

Persons just from Lawrence report that the number of dead will reach one hundred and seventy, perhaps two hundred, as bodies are constantly being found.

The excitement throughout the State is intense, and our citizens unamiously regard the Lawrence massacre as the legitimate result of the Schofield-Ewing policy in Missouri and Kansas.

When last heard from General Lane was at Heckman's Mills, in Missouri, with his half-clothed, half armed men in pursuit. He attacked Quantrell about ten miles south of Lawrence, and kept up a running fight with him to Missouri, killing up to his time nineteen of the rebels.

Robert Speer, 17 years of age, who was sleeping in the Republican office building, and not the slightest trace of him has ever been found. His poor mother would set the table in hopes that he would show up, but he never returned. A memorial stone is in the cemetery in his memory.

Find A Grave Memorial# 31649738

Reported by Speer family members that William Speer, son of John Speer, Sr and Elizabeth McMahan

During Quantrell's Raid, his two older brothers were killed. "Billy Speer, 15 years old, slept in a store. As he went out of the back door, he was met by one of the Quantrell men, who halted him and asked him his name. The boy replied that his name was Smith. The raiders looked over a list of names written on a slip of paper, and let him go. Afterwards, it was found out that the list contained the names of the male members of the Speer family, all marked for slaughter. After a series of adventures, twice escaping from raiders by offering to hold their horses, young Speer reached his home. He secured a rifle, and as the raiders were leaving, he shot and wounded the only member of Quantrill's band that was killed that day. He was again shot by a Delaware Indian who killed him. (AND THAT WAS LARKIN MILTON SKAGGS)

Larkin Milton SKAGGS was born 1831. He died 21 Aug 1863 in Lawrence, Kansas. Larkin married Emily Jane MITCHELL.

Larkin Skaggs served with Quantrill's Raiders during the Civil War. He came from Kentucky and settled in Cass County, MO. He was a Baptist minister, and quit his church when the border wars started around 1856.

He was a Confederate, and was killed at Lawrence, KS during a raid with Quantrill's Raiders. He was the only one killed during this raid. It is reputed that he was drunk during this raid, and this may have had something to do with his demise.

He had a brother named Willis. Willis was with Larkin in 1860 when the Presidential election was held at Pleasant Hill, MO. Larkin wanted to kill a man named D. P. Houghland who voted for Lincoln, and Willis held his arm and kept him from killing him.

--From book titled "Branded as Rebels

JOHN SPEER AND HIS WIFE ELIZABETH DUPLESSIS MCMAHAN

Find A Grave Memorial# 31649560

In 2010 my sister and I embarked on an adventure to research the history of an old home in Anchorage, Kentucky, whom one of her friends had recently purchased and was renovating. Much to my surprise I discovered we were related to the man, Maxwell Huston, who built the house that traced our ancestors back to Fauquier Co. Virginia, the Robinson's. It turned out that my 6th great grandmother, Anne Nancy Robinson, wife of Henry Rector, was the sister of Joseph Robinson. Henry Rector and Anne Robinson's daughter, Diannah Rector, my 5th great grandmother, married Jacob Faubion and had migrated to Cocke Co. Tennessee from Fauquier Co. Virginia. Their son, William Faubion and his wife, Rosannah Perthena Ayres, were my 4th great grandparents and parents of strong Confederates in Cocke Co. Tennessee, where there was a huge division and horrible acts going on at the same time. Visit Hamilton Yett's home, which has other links to my Tennessee Confederate relatives. Joseph Robinson's daughter, Nancy Robinson had married Revolutionary War Soldier, Benjamin Withers, who had migrated with his family from Virginia to Kentucky. On 13 Dec 1802 in Nelson Co. Kentucky Benjamin Wither's daughter, Martha "Patsy" married Richard McMahan, a soldier killed at the Battle of Tippecanoe, Indiana on 7 Nov 1811. Two years later on 7 June 1813 in Harrison Co. Indiana, Patsy Withers McMahan married her deceased husband's younger brother John McMahan. Patsy was the sister of William Carr Withers of New Orleans, who served with Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. William Withers used slave labor to build his mills and docks in New Orleans early on.

During the course of my research on the property, I decided to do more research on the Wither's and their descendants because there really hadn't been a great amount of documented research. It was when I was researching the children of Patsy that I made the discovery of a very enlightening history of one of her daughters, Elizabeth Duplessis McMahan, born 17 Dec 1820 Harrison Co. Indiana. On 14 July 1842 in Harrison Co. Indiana Elizabeth married newspaper editor, John Speer, Sr and the rest was "history." The newspapers were filled with zillions of articles which occurred in the settlement of Kansas as a free-state or a slave state, which was result of the huge migration from the eastern New England states financed by abolitionists which settled in what would become the town of Lawrence, Kansas. I was most intrigued by it since I was born and raised in Kansas. You always heard these stories when growing up and studying history, but the knowledge of your relatives being involved made it much more interesting. Especially due to the fact of Quantrill's raid on Lawrence, Kansas and that Elizabeth's own mother was born and came out of the heart of the Confederacy of Virginia.

A verbal interview taken by her son, Schuyler Hilts, with Elizabeth's granddaughter, Lillian Edna Speer, daughter of Hardin Speer, reveals that Elizabeth's father was very much opposed to her marriage of John Speer and had refused to let her marry John at his home. He apparently threw a newspaper down in disgust as John McMahan was a slaveowner. Lillian also mentions that Elizabeth did have a slave she took with her to Kansas and was supposed to have released her. Lillian remembers John Speer quite well as she was born in 1897 and John lived with them in Denver, Colorado before he died. As a child, she was appointed to watch after him as he would wander off from time to time. It appears that soon after their marriage they moved to Medina, Ohio for a while prior to their move to Lawrence in 1854. Whether Elizabeth had anymore contact with family is unknown, but her father lived through the war until 1865. John McMahan's mother was Rosannah Hardin and was related to John Larue Helm by marriage through his wife Lucinda Barbour Hardin, who was Governor of Kentucky. It was their son, Confederate General Benjamin Hardin Helm, who was killed on the battlefield of Chickamauga, Georgia who had married Emilie Todd, the 1/2 sister of Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln. Benjamin Hardin Helm was the organizer of the famous 1st Kentucky Cavalry "Orphan Brigade" and all of those families were Confederates. It was through these connections in Louisville, Kentucky that were associates with Maxwell Huston's family during the war and in later years gave connections to former mayor of Louisville in the 1920's of Charles Huston Quin, Maxwell Huston's grandson. Maxwell Huston was also supposed to have served with the Confederates of the Orphan Brigade. Lillian relates in her interview that many of the stories told to her were by her Aunt Eva, who also lived in Denver, where Lillian was born and raised. Eva was about 7 or 8 years old at the time of the raid and Lillian states that whenever Quantrill's name was brought up or the song "Dixie" was played and caught Eva off guard, she would turn pale as a ghost. The raid left a horrifying mark on Eva for the rest of her life. And her other cousins, the Faubions in Cocke Co. Tennessee were strong Confederates and my ancestors. After having scanty records on Elizabeth's descendants I went in search to find them and track all of her children down, which I did with great success. All of her children I have now managed to link to her and John on find a grave memorials, along with as many descendants burials that I can find. So we have yet another chapter in the history of our family of the trials and tribulations of the war which tore our country from limb to limb.

Many articles have been written about John Speer and his family. What I find so intriguing is that John Speer was well acquainted with those who were behind putting Lincoln into power as President in 1860 as he was on the nominating committee at the national convention, and there is no doubt he knew the political climate in Kentucky of Elizabeth's relatives, that was his business as a newspaper man. During the war, Lincoln's own wife's family caused him much embarrassment and strife due to their Confederate connections, which had caused a big uproar in Washington, D.C. I found this article which relates of the brave and historic women of Lawrence which tells a small portion about Elizabeth Duplessis McMahan and her kinship to the Hardin's and Wickliffe's of Kentucky, who have all been written about extensively and served in the governorships of Kentucky and held many political offices:

Kansas Journalists. Practical Journalism Illustrated In Hon. John Speer. A Pennsylvania Man Carrier Turns Printer Sunday, October 3, 1886 Paper: Kansas City Times (Kansas City, MO) Page: 4 an excerpt of the article PERSONAL

Of Mr. Speer's family I should like to say much, for I knew them well. If I should ever write, as some one should, a series of sketches of the noble and patriotic pioneer women of Kansas, I should not fail to mention the names and of Mrs. Governor Robinson, Mrs. Colonel Sam Walker, Mrs JOHN SPEER and Mrs. Colonel Sam Wood.

Mr. Speer married in Indiana July 14, 1842, then Miss ELIZABETH DUPLISSES MCMAHON, daughter of a prominent citizen of Harrison county. She was related to the HARDIN and WICKLIFFES OF KENTUCKY. The scenes she passed through faithfully told would fill a volume more interesting than romance. She died in 1876. She bore eight children to Hon John Speer. Three died innocent victims of violence; two sons at the Quantrell raid were massacred. The body of one was burned at that slaughter and his ashes were never identified. Mary, the oldest daughter, married Wood Neff, promising young business man who was killed in a railroad accident in Texas. Mrs Neff for some years has held a prominent position in the secretary of state's office, but as ? write is on a hopeless mission to Colorado in a contest with that dread disease consumption. And while I write Mr. Moore, the husband of the second daughter, is dying in Colorado. Surely Mr Speer has been afflicted beyond measure. At the age of 6? he is proving up a claim on the American desert. With land at $1 an acre when he settled at Lawrence, now worth $100 an acre, he has not a title to an acre. May the heavens still smile propitiously over the old pioneer, and the clouds yet furnish him silver linings, and his acres on the desert of which he is to be possessed bloomin' in the rose and afford to him all manner and fruits in their season and joy and comfort in his last days. KICKING BIRD

Her daughter, Eva, is said to have been the first white child born in Lawrence, Kansas, whether that is true or not I don't know. Eva ended up dying in Denver, Colorado and had married for her 2nd husband, Bradford H. Dubois, one of the richest men in mining in Colorado who owned the Chrysollite and Maid of Erin Mines at Leadville. He also was a thoroughbred horse breeder, who were well known throughout the U.S. Read his history on

Find A Grave Memorial# 97066306

Friday, November 29, 1895 Paper: Denver Post (Denver, CO) Page: 2

Brad Dubois, the well-known horseman, was married the same evening as the Dale-Prowitt nuptials to Mrs C D Moore of 1360 Corona Street. The marriage was somewhat of a surprise, as it was not announced until two hours before the ceremony. Parson Uzzell spoke the solemn words, and, after congratulations, the bridal party and a few intimate friends sat down to an elegantly arranged banquet, after which the happy couple left for the Pacific coast. The floral decorations were extensive, Miss Edna, a daughter of the charming and accomplished bride, acted gracefully as bridesmaid. Among those present were Major DuBois, brother of the groom; Miss Edna Moore, daughter of the bride; Dr Charles Gresswell, J Speer of Garden City, Kan. D McKinstry, Mr and Mrs J A Hall, Mr and Mrs J T Hand, Miss Hand, Mr. and Mrs. McNamara. Elwood Neff, Mrs Augusta Brown, and Mrs H. A. Brown.

Lawrence Kansas Tribune September 15, 1855 Editor John Speer defied the Bogus Legislature by directly violating the "Gag Law" in its exact words.

John Speer was a close ally of the famous abolitionist, John Brown, who was involved in Osawatomie, Kansas and his raid on Harper's Ferry. Speer's home was a haven on the Underground Railroad for slaves on the run out of Missouri.

Research on another house in Flemingsburgh, Kentucky led me to another underground railroad connection, which resulted in the curious legacy of a double agent spy, James J. Andrews, who stole a train in Kennesaw, Georgia, known as the Great Locomotive Chase and resulted in his hanging in Atlanta, Georgia by the Confederacy. Andrews had actually stayed in the house I was researching prior to his departure for Louisville and Nashville. The path of the underground railroad in Maysville, Kentucky crossed them over the Ohio River to other connections in the State of Ohio. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote of the slave sales witnessed on the auction blocks in Maysville, Kentucky of which other relatives of ours were a part. Did John Speer know of these connections? Of course he did, this was a very close knit group nationwide. And it was a battle of who could outdo who in victory. Had the Confederacy had more funds available to them during the war, I believe our national history would have been much different. Has the mind-set changed?? I think not, as it is still very strong for many in the South even today. Some people still fuss when the Confederates want to honor their men for their part in our history as veterans.

Pages 727-728 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar.

Speer, John, one of the pioneer editors of Kansas, was born at Kittanning, Pa., Dec. 27, 1817. He was descended from Irish covenanters, was reared and educated in the country, and at the age of eighteen began learning the printer's trade in the office of the Register at Indiana, Pa. In 1839 he went to New Castle, Pa., where he started the Mercer and Beaver Democrat, a Whig paper that supported Harrison for president. In 1840 he went to Ohio, where he was connected with different papers, editing the Whig at Medina for eleven years. In Sept., 1854, accompanied by his brother Joseph, Mr. Speer located in Lawrence, Kan. In October he returned to Ohio and printed the first number of the Kansas Pioneer, dating it from Lawrence. Within a year it became the Tribune and was removed to Topeka. Mr. Speer was often in danger because of his fearless attacks upon the institution of slavery, but he remained undaunted and did much to make Kansas a free-state. In 1855 he sold his interest in the Tribune, and established the Republican at Lawrence. He was a member of the first free-state territorial legislature and introduced the first bill to establish a civil code in Kansas. At the time of the Quantrill raid in 1863, his office was sacked and his two sons were killed. In 1864 he was a delegate to the Grand Sovereign Union League of America, which nominated Lincoln for a second term as president. He was elected state printer in 1861, acted until 1864, held the same position in 1866 and again in 1868. While in this position he printed the early legislative journals and general statutes of 1868. On June 28, 1866, he was confirmed as United States revenue collector and at various times was a member of the Kansas house of representatives or state senate. Mr. Speer was one of the incorporators and treasurer of the Kansas Southern Railroad company. As an author his best known book is probably his "Life of Gen. James H. Lane," which was published in 1896. After leaving Kansas Mr. Speer lived in Denver, Col., where he died at the home of his daughter, Dec. 15, 1906.

A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918

JOHN SPEER. is best known as one of those able and brave editors and free-state men who made Lawrence his headquarters, and, after the times were fairly settled, his home. He was prominent as an editor, public printer and a legislator. Mr. Speer was a Pennsylvanian, born in 1817, learned the printer's trade in his native state, and in 1839 established a whig newspaper at New Castle that supported Harrison for president. He was also connected with various whig and free-soil newspapers in Ohio from 1840 to 1854. In September, 1854, accompanied by his brother Joseph, Mr. Speer located in Lawrence, Kansas. In October he returned to Ohio and printed the first number of the Kansas Pioneer dating it from Lawrence. Within a year it became the Tribune and was removed to Topeka. Mr. Speer was often in danger because of his fearless attacks upon slavery, but he remained undaunted and did much to make Kansas a free state. In 1855 he sold his interest in the Tribune, and established the Republican at Lawrence. He was a member of the first free-state Territorial Legislature and introduced the first bill to establish a civil code in Kansas. At the time of the Quantrill raid, in 1863, his office was sacked and his two sons were killed. In 1864 he was a delegate to the Grand Sovereign Union League of America, which nominated Lincoln for a second term as President. He served as state printer in 1861-64, in 1866 and 1868. In 1866 he was confirmed as United States revenue collector, and at various times was a member of both houses of the Legislature. He was also one of the incorporators and treasurer of the Kansas Southern Railroad Company. Mr. Speer moved from Kansas to Denver, Colorado, where he died December 15, 1906.

When John died in 1906, his obituary flooded newspapers across the nation. Everyone had their version to tell of his plight in life. This is only the tip of the iceberg of the stories.

Sunday, December 16, 1906 Location: Maryland Paper: Sunday OLD EDITOR DEAD IN DENVER

John Speer Hunted by Quantrell's Men During the War Denver, Dec 15

John Speer, who was prominent in Kansas Free State troubles and founded the Lawrence Tribune, died today, aged 89 years.

The office of the Tribune was sacked by Quantrell's men in 1863 and Speer's two sons were murdered. The guerrillas sought Mr Speer on account of his uncompromising anti-slavery views, but he escaped by hiding in a cornfield.

He was United States Internal revenue collector for Kansas and served several terms in the State legislature.

Thursday, December 27, 1906 Location: Massachusetts Paper: Springfield Republican

A VETERAN EDITOR OF KANSAS, JOHN SPEER died in Denver, Col., Saturday Mr Speer was Indiana born (NOTE: INCORRECT), and appears to have gone to Kansas with the deliberate purpose of fighting against the introduction of slavery there. He got into trouble back in 1855 when the territorial legislature passed a law making it a penitentiary offense "to deny the legal existence 'of slavery in Kansas." The law was to take effect September 15 of that year, and on that day, just a year after his arrival in Leavenworth, John Speer came out in his newspaper announcing that "slavery does not legally exist in Kansas." The type used was so large that the editorial occupied nearly a side of Mr. Speer's paper. He was indicted for treason, but when his arrest was sought, with the aid of the United States troops, he fled. Mr. Speer returned to Ohio, where he stumped his state in the Fremont campaign, and later went back to Kansas, where he again engaged in the fight of the antislavery and proslavery forces. For a time he published a paper at Topeka and later at Lawrence, which had become the storm center. During the Quantrell massacre his newspaper office was destroyed, and two of Mr. Speer's sons were killed. Their fate so affected Mrs. Speer that she soon died. Mr. Speer went East, bought another newspaper outfit, and established a daily, which he continued for some time. He was a warm friend of "Jim" Lane, and made common cause with him, and so came in conflict with Gov Charles Robinson. A friend of the late Mr. Speer tells how near he came to being senator of the United States, as follows:

He came within an ace of being United States senator one time in the early days. It happened this way: He was a close friend and ardent admirer of Jim Lane, and when he (Lane) died, Gov Crawford picked upon Mr Speer as a fitting man to fill the vacancy. The governor called him into the executive office one day and said to him, "John, you may have the United States senatorship if you want it. Just sit down and write up a sketch of your life for the newspapers and I will fill out your commission." Mr. Speer sat down to do so, but not remembering some important dates he asked the governor to withhold the announcement for a day and he would run down to Lawrence and get the dates he needed. When he returned the next day he found that some influence had been brought to bear upon Gov Crawford and he appointed E. G. Ross, who was at that time foreman in Mr. Speer's printing office. It seems that about this time began the fatal succession in the senatorship, the influence of which is being felt even now.

Lillian also revealed in her interview that she once overheard her grandfather say that he would rather his son be dead than serve in politics as it was "a dirty business." That's a pretty profound statement made by a man who was in the know of the early politics of his day and the corruption that was involved. Gee does that sound familiar???

16 Sept 2012 Copyright Carolyn Whitaker