Skip Redundent Navigation
Territorial Kansas Online 1854-1861 Explore Topics Territorial A-Z Map Lesson Plans  
Back to main document information

Untitled Document Sumner,

Kansas, 15. 3rd Mo. 1859

Dear Father,

I believe I have been Somewhat remiss in my correspondence of late, owing to the excitement of Electioneering and other incidents attending the organization of the City under the New Charter, together with sundry other items of business, including the preparation and delivery of a lecture and an Epidemic among the people which leads them to sue and be sued.

The election was held yesterday and resulted in the choice of a satisfactory board of officers, among which I have the honor to be numbered as “City Attorney,” an office of more honor than profit I presume. The Majority by which I was Elected was quite complimentary, as indicating the confidence the citizens have in my ability to serve them. I received all but fourteen votes, though it was only after repeated solicitations that I consented to have my name used in connexion with the office. The foreign Element is quite large, consisting chiefly of Germans and Norwegians, and they do not fraternize

[Page 2]

very cordially with the Americans.

I have also received from the Governor a commission as Notary Public, the functions of which are similar to those of Justices of the Peace in Massachusetts. They have power to take acknowledgements, depositions and affidavits, and receive much better fees than are allowed in Eastern states. Justices are not appointed by the Executive here, but Elected by the people, and they act almost exclusively in a judicial capacity.

Speaking of the Governor, you may have noticed in one of the N.Y. Evening Posts I sent home, a personal description of that dignitary. It was considered quite a hit here and extensively copied into the newspapers of the territory. If he saw it & was aware of its paternity, it is highly probable he would not have favored me with a commission.-

The amount and character of the Emigration to Pikes Peak is truly astonishing. Every boat is crowded with passengers bound for the mines, and a great many of them labor under the impression that the favored locality is but a few hours walk from the shores of the river. On landing at Leavenworth, which is the chief point

[Page 3]

of departure, they frequently decline stopping at hotels, supposing that they can reach Pikes Peak by an afternoons walk. As a class, the gold hunters are poor, of the Carpetbag description, and the military roads are already thronged with anxious hundreds, on foot, dragging handcarts, on mules and with ox teams. Fortunately the weather is exceedingly mild, and the grass already getting green under the influences of the genial climate. A few days of freezing weather such as frequently alternates with these days of treacherous mildness would kill them by the score. There must be several thousands already in route; I counted over an hundred this morning in the course of an hours ride, among whom was a large party from Michigan. It is reported by some drivers on one of the return government trains from Salt Lake, that several hundred miners who had wintered near Cherry Creek were on their way back to civilization again in a state of extreme destitution; no gold; no food, clothes or cattle. Whether this is true or not, the tide is gravitating so strongly westward that no successful attempts can be made to stem it. The excitement does not seem to rage so high in Massachusetts as on other states

[Page 4]

I hardly see a reference to it in the Boston papers. The only notice I have seen was so supremely absurd that I suppose it must be a hoax. A company had been organized at Springfield, it seemed, who proposed to build boats at some point on the Missouri and sail up the Kansas river to its junction with the Smoky Hill Fork and thence to Cherry Creek. It looks prettily on the map as you will see by referring to the Atlas hanging in the front hall at home, but unfortunately that stream is only navigable by catfish, & by them only at certain seasons of the year. Some town speculators wishing to build a town which should have the prestige of being at the head of navigation on the Kaw, purchased a steamboat of about one mule power and six inches draught and started one summer morning on their perilous journey. Toward night they ran aground on a sand bar, and there the craft remains to this day. The termination of its trip determined the location

[Page 5]

of the City of Topeka, celebrated for the Constitution which was there Elaborated. Some parties still more adventurous and ambitious pushed up a few miles beyond in a skiff and founded the City of Manhattan at the mouth of the Big Blue. So say those learned in the lore of the Early history of Kansas, with how much of truth I do not know.-

I observe by your letters that some schism has occurred in the old “Centre Congregational Church” in regard to the nature of which my only means of judging has been from a statement which I saw in a stray copy of the Gazette a few days ago. Noticing your name as “Collector,” I suppose you are identified with the separatists. The affair must be extremely unpleasant in many of its aspects, especially to the feelings of Mr Horford and his personal friends. It would gratify me to believe that one of the parties Enjoyed a monopoly of the night in the case, but my knowledge of human nature impels me to suppose that it is about Equally divided. If my impressions are correct, church property seldom pays a

[Page 6]

very large dividend.

Business in the territory continues perfectly prostrated, except some branches which are receiving a temporary stimulus from the gold excitement, such as groceries, outfittings and cattle. There is a little more money in circulation than during the winter, but the stock of corn and produce is large, and the prices consequently low. Shrewd operators do not look for a revival in property in any Event till fall. If there is gold in large amounts, it will be sent to the river for investment, there being no survey of that region, and of course no power to acquire any title to land. If the whole thing is a humbug, a great many of the dupes will be compelled to stay in the territory and go to work there increasing the productions of the country. In spite of the want of all title, some twenty towns have already been started on paper in Western Kansas and a furious gambling speculation will undoubtedly be carried on in corner lots and improved shares.

With regards to all at home,

Very truly , Your Son, J.J.I.

I got my book by paying the Express Co. $6.00 – Judge Lecompte has been removed & his place supplied by Pettit of Indiana.


The current URL is