Letters from Thaddeus Hyatt.
The Drouth in Kansas universal! The last crop gone!
No buckwheat! No vegetables! No corn! No seed of any kind!
No bread! No money! No Hope! What is to be done?
I have seen enough to say unhesitatingly that Kansas is utterly desolate! One by one even the corner=lot men are caving in: though with a growl at the men who are “spying out” and exposing “the nakedness of the land.” No case has ever had a more thorough sifting. We have called the people together, and the people tell us the exact truth. They care nothing for corner- lots or politicians. In a few weeks I shall have a map of statistics that will exhibit the condition of the reported Counties in detail. But we know enough already to speak confidently. I do not believe that the same number of acres in any county ever witnessed greater diligence or more remarkable perseverance. The people of Kansas show a splendid record of industry and manly determination. Strong as has always been my faith in them, I am free to say that their record is beyond even my expectations! Crop after crop has been put in: as one failed another was tried. Fall wheat: spring wheat: oats: corn: potatoes: Hungarian grass, buckwheat, turnips! in many instances all sown or planted upon the same piece of ground: and all have failed! And this is not the record of a township here and there in a county, or of one or two counties in the Territory: it is the universal record from the Kaw to the Marmaton on the Verdigris: the Walnuts, and the Whitewater: along the Cottonwood and the Neosho: on the bottoms and on the uplands: the one unvarying story of every simple hearted settler, and of
every man who has testified for them. No people have ever so earned success! Are not these undaunted hearts worthy of free homes? Friend! in trying these invincible people God is also trying us! Trying our worthiness to be the recipients of His good gifts, the almoner of His great bounties: let us prove true under the trial! These people must be sustained! It were a sin and a shame if they were not. It were an everlasting reproach to this age and to this generation should they not be aided to keep that soil beneath their feet which God has made for them, but which James Buchanan and the Democratic Slaveocracy have maliciously and fiendishly plotted to deprive them of! May this Golden-headed, brazen-bellied and iron-legged monster Democracy be smitten “by the stove without hands” and scattered by the drifting wind of Heaven to the most distant corner of the earth! Even so good Lord, and may the time be hastened; Amen!
I write here between the Cottonwood and Neosho at Emporia near the centre of
Breckenridge County on this 8th. of Sept. My last was written at “Hyatt”
near the centre of Anderson Co. on the 4th.inst. and gave some details of the
case in Anderson & Linn Counties. The “experiences”
narrated in that letter were “stated” at the meetings in Mound City held there on the 28th and 30th of August. At this place I had the good fortune to meet Mr. Stillwell, the gentleman whose letter in the N.Y. Tribune over the signature of C. H. S. and dated at Mound City, was the inciting cause of my present visit. I found him a man as well as a gentleman, and Kansas owes him an everlasting debt
of gratitude for his earnest and timely appeal: it was not made one moment too soon. As some impertinent scribbler has seen fit through the columns of the Tribune to call in question the qualities of a gentleman whom he will do well to improve his manner by, I incorporate the following Resolution which was adopted at the Mound City meeting of 30th. ult. by a vote of two to three hundred people; one voice alone being heard to squeak dissent from under a corner-lot!
“Resolved that the statement of the want and destitution in this vicinity, and the necessity of assistance, made by C. H. Stillwell Esqr. through the columns of the N. Y. Tribune is in the judgment of this meeting essentially correct!”
At this meeting I understand that there were present 5 physicians and 12 ministers of the gospel. Mrs. Stillwell was also there and offered to be qualified to the truth of her husbands statement of the sun-wasted eggs: several then neighbors were also present who witnessed the wasting and testified thereto. I have also heard from reliable sources of the same thing having been done on that same hot day at several other places in the Territory. The story is too well authenticated to be doubted. From my own experience of the thermometer at 103 and the sirocco winds, I can very easily credit it.
At this meeting the following statement from Dr. Winans a physician in the N.E. corner of Allen Co. was sent by Judge Arny who took it down as it was narrated. The statement is also confirmed by Elder Hobbs Baptist minister who is sustained by the American Baptist Home Missionary Board, and by the Rev. Mr. Robinson who is presiding Elder of the Methodist Church.
“From 2 miles west of Mapleton in Bourbon Co.” says Dr. W. “to Deer Creek in Allen Co, a distance of 20 miles; & from
three miles in Anderson Co. to the South line of Allen Co. 24 ½ miles
there is but 225 bushels of old corn. There are about 600 inhabitants, and about
2500 acres of ground under cultivation which this year will hardly average 3
bushels to the acre and of that there can be found scarcely any corn that has
not the worm at work in it. The people are generally poor, and have exhausted
their means in improvements: and now have not the means to live. Those who are
on the N. Y.
Indian Reserve will loose their claims if the lands are offered for sale! As a general thing this portion of the county has been settled within the last 18 months. There is no work to be obtained. Within the last 8 weeks about 160 persons have left this portion of the county. Many more would go if they had the means. The people in this region are compelled to abandon their claims, some which are valuable: which are immediately taken possession of by Missourians and this will change the character of the vote!”
Our first meeting was held at Mound City, the County Seat of Linn Co. on the
Our 2nd meeting on the 29th at Mapleton on the Little Osage near the Northern line of Bourbon Co. At this meeting delegates were present from nearly or quite every township in the Co. Our 3rd meeting at Mound City again on the 30th. Our 4th meeting at Hyatt Saturday on Sept. 1st.
Our 5th on Tuesday the 4th inst. at Humbolt on the Neosho in the Western part and the Co. Seat of Allen Co. Our 6th on Wednesday eve. the 5th inst. at LeRoy on the Neosho in the S. E. part of Coffey Co. At this place we met Mr. E. Q. Condict the Co assessor for Woodson Co. from whom we obtained valuable information & who will forward statistics to me. Our 7th meeting was at Burlington the Co. Seat of Coffey Co on Thursday at 2 p.m. on the 6th. inst. and on the
evening of the same day our 8th meeting was at Ottumwa on the Neosho in the North half of Coffey Co. N.W. from Burlington. Our 9th at Italic (formerly Florence) on the
Neosho in the S.E. corner of Breckenridgee Co. on Friday eve 7th. inst. and our 10th and last at Emporia between the Neosho & the Cottonwood on Saturday 8th inst. this day. We have reliable reports from Ottoe, Chase, Butler, Hunter, Greenwood, Woodson and Madison Counties. Time passes so rapidly that I shall be under the necessity of adopting agencies other than personal inspection of the North Western Counties. I pass now N. E. through Shawnee & Douglass Counties: & on up again through Jefferson & Atchison Counties back to Atchison & then East again. Reliable friends have already assured me of their cooperation in obtaining statistics from over a large area of county which I cannot now stop to visit. I have obtained enough information however to feel but too well assured of the universal ruin which this terrible Drouth has worked upon this beautiful land.
I pass the meeting between Linn County and this place to incorporate in this letter the following
Report of the Breckenridge Co. Meeting held at Emporia as taken down by I.
W. Randall, Sec.
and a T. H. Watson presiding. The County being very fully represented the attendance was large, the Christian meeting house being filled
beyond its capacity to seat the people. The meeting was held on Saturday 8th Sept. at 2 P.M. Judge Arny in a brief speech stated the purposes for which the people were called together alluding to the Stillwell letter published in the N. Y. Tribune and to its effect on the mind of Mr. Hyatt! to the valuable county statistics now being gathered by him and to the fact that the people in every county where these meetings have been held, have thus become better posted as to their own general condition and so enabled to adopt plans of immediate relief for the suffering among themselves. He set forth concisely the plan pursued in the Counties already visited, and recommended the same course to them which was adopted: A County Committee consisting of two from each township being elected and charged with the duty of an immediate investigation & to report to Mr. Hyatt, without delay. From the statements of gentlemen present the following facts were elecited, vis: that in Freemont Township, the amount of old corn on hand did not exceed 300 bushels: that the present crop will not average two bushels per acre: Wheat, oats, & potatoes a total failure and the buckwheat destroyed by grasshoppers.
Pike Township: But two men here have old corn to sell, although this is usually the most productive township of the County, having more bottom land than any other. The grasshoppers and worms have so injured the corn that its yield will be but from one to two bushels per acre. Wheat and other crops a total failure several families have left this township and others are preparing to depart.
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. . .wheat and other crops a total failure several families have left this Township and others are preparing to depart.
Jackson Township. Reported average about 10 bush of wormy corn to the acre on the bottom land – scarcely fodder on the upland. The old and new corn of that Township will not more than furnish bread for its population.
Americus Township (As reported by Thomas H. Stanley and Judge Baker), has not corn for its inhabitants. This joins “the Kaw reservation” and they stated that there are 300 whites and about 900 Indians in that section who will not have half corn enough to bread them till next spring. Judge Baker has lived in Kansas for sixteen years and for fourteen years has raised a crop of corn every season and never had a failure till this year. - He will not have a bushel to the acre, on land that last year produced 2500 bush of corn – on 10 acres of which he raised last season 80 bushels to the acre.
Emporia Township – General failure of crops, except corn – which will not produce more than a fourth of a crop and it will be generally wormy – men have already given two days work for a bushel of corn - It was stated that last year many farmers raised 75 bushels to the acre. And the universal testimony was that Kansas can withstand drougth better than any of the states from which the settlers came. The testimony from all was that the people of this county were generally industrious and persevering in their endeavors to raise crops. – Last fall they sowed wheat – this they plowed up and put in Spring wheat & oats that failed they planted corn and in some instances
replanted and latterly Buckwheat has been sown which bids fair to be unproductive.
In some Townships of this County the cattle disease has prevailed, in Emporia Township about 70 head of choice cattle have died within the last three weeks. It was stated that money was very scarce and that stock could not be sold for money, and that owing to the land sales, many had to use their last dollar to save their claims. A considerable number borrowed the money and mortgaged their land expecting to pay it out of this years crops.
Judge Graham of Madison County Myrock Huntley of the Verdigris – H. I. Barton of Butler Co. A E Rhodes of Ottoe & Hunter Counties & A Studebaker of Chase County gave statements of the crops in those Counties which represent the people in a worse condition than in Breckenridge County.
After the statements were concluded two persons from each Township was appointed to obtain additional statistics and to seek out the destitute and report to Mr. Hyatt as soon as possible.
After some discussion upon the cattle disease a Committee of Ten persons was appointed to confer with other Counties and to take measures for protection against the cattle disease.
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Draft letter No. 3
Mailed from Lawrence Friday Evening 9 o’clock Sept. 14th, 1860
Letter dated at Emporia 8th Sept.