Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

must have a welcome and the right hand of fellowship extended to them by our people. The hall was filled to its utmost capacity, and as our people briefly recounted the history of their stay here, their dangers and perils, they offered to the newly-arrived people the blessings of the civilization which a year and a half has wrought; while they offer, with the shield of an unwasted hope, and the buckler of unwearied energies, to stand by us in hours when evil shall threaten our liberties. Pleasantly thus the hours passed away, and the "Stubs" were loudly called for to close the assembly with their song.

CHAPTER XIV.

COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION

66

SHERIFF JONES"

SHOT.

THE second month of spring was quickly passing away, and quiet reigned a quiet which seemed almost fearful from the very stillness. Since the threats of arrest in the early part of March, the voice of Missouri had been mostly silent. Save the oaths and imprecations which still fall on the ear, on passing her citizens, and an occasional opening of boxes designed for the territory, at Kansas city, there has been no outrage, and the press is silent as to her plans. Notwithstanding the persevering efforts of Douglas, the champion of the slave power, and the no less zealous exertions of Missouri's representatives, who hesitated not to utter untruths, declaring that no one came from Missouri to vote, one of them, at least, being present at the election, committee has been appointed to investigate the wrongs of which Kansas has complained to Congress. We, as well as our eastern friends, anticipated that quiet would continue while the investigation was entered into; that, from motives of policy alone, the enemy would hide in their lair, and attempt to gain the favor of the committee by a present show of fairness. Emigration was again pouring into the territory; a company of one hundred, from Ohio, had just arrived, while the camp-fires at evening, and the white-covered wagons of the western emigrant, dotting the highways, told of a general desire to make one's self a home in Kan

sas.

a

About the 17th of April the commissioners arrived. The hotel, which we had long waited for, was nearly finished, and rooms for

their accommodation were put in order by our people, before the proprietor of the hotel could get his furniture up from Kansas city. The commissioners went to Lecompton, and spent two or three days in copying the records of the elections from official books kept there.

On the 19th, Sheriff Jones, who has from the first seemed to be the apple of discord among us, his presence at once making tumult of quiet, again appeared in our midst, and attempted to arrest S. N. Wood, just returned from Ohio, after a winter's sojourn. He said to Wood, "You are my prisoner."

"By what authority?" was the very natural reply. "As Sheriff of Douglas County."

"I do not recognize such authority," said Wood, adding, however, that he would go with him if he would allow him to go to his house, only a few steps distant, first.

This the sheriff refused, and Wood declared, "Then I'll not go with you at all!" and very coolly walked away.

Jones walked away also, minus a pistol, which had passed from his pocket. The whole affair only lasted two or three minutes. The next day Jones came in town again to disturb the Sabbath's quiet, and arrest somebody. He was accompanied by four men from Lecompton, and he called upon a number of our citizens standing by to act as a posse, in assisting in the arrest of Wood. These citizens were looking on, simply, and it was an established fact, whenever Jones was seen in the streets of Lawrence, that something rich would happen, and, involuntarily, almost, they gathered around to see.

Jones looked for Wood in his house; but he was not there. Seeing T., another of the Branson rescuers standing by, and who had made the attempt to carry his own case to the Supreme Court, but had never been able to get a hearing at Lecompton, Jones pounced upon him. He took hold of him so fiercely, T. thought it was his intention to knock him down; so, forgetting his nonresistance, he struck Jones, whereupon the bold sheriff, with his comrades, left for Lecompton, muttering, however, "he would bring in the troops, and the arrests should be made. He had now

some forty names on his paper, against whom warrants should be served."

The following letter, written by Jones to Marshal Donaldson, shows that the attempt to arrest Wood was made without a shadow even of territorial law:

"MAJOR I. B. DONALDSON,

"LECOMPTON, April 20, 1856.

My dear Sir: Samuel N. Wood is now in Lawrence, and I wish you to send me the writ against him. I arrested him on yesterday, and he was rescued from my hands by a mob. The governor has called upon Col. Sumner for a company to assist me in the execution of the laws. I will have writs gotten out against Robinson, and some twenty others. "In haste, Yr obs.

"S. J. JONES.”

The committee of investigation finished their work at Lecompton on Tuesday, the 22d, and returned to Lawrence the afternoon of that day. This first effort of theirs, showing clearly that the work of investigation would be carried on systematically, struck terror into the heart of the wrong-doers. That all their labors hitherto might not be foiled at one blow, they felt that a desperate effort must be made to break up the sittings of the committee, and the plan unfolded itself.

Also, on the afternoon of the 22d, word came into Lawrence that a band of men were encamped in the timber across the river. Two messengers immediately went out from Lawrence to see if there was truth in the statement, and returned, not only to verify it, but the bloody character of the gang. One of our messengers was fired upon, and only escaped falling into their hands by quickly plunging into a ravine until they, in their search, had passed by. They were men from Lecompton and vicinity, and were stationed there to intercept any persons who should attempt to escape from the bogus sheriff.

On Wednesday, 23d, the committee commenced examining witnesses in reference to the invasions. Dr. Stringfellow, Capt.

Martin, of the Kickapoo Rangers, and others of like character,

were in town. Some twelve came with Gen. Whitfield.

In the

afternoon of the 23d, the redoubtable sheriff, with authority vested in ten soldiers, under command of Lieut. McIntosh, following, again came into Lawrence. Without the least resistance on the

part of

any, six men, not implicated in the rescue of Branson, but having arrested no one to place in Mr. Jones' custody, were taken prisoners. They were lodged in a small building on the street, under the guard of the dragoons, and the sheriff occupied the tent of the officers, instead of going to the Cincinnati House, as usual. In the evening the choir met at our house for a rehearsal. At about nine and a half o'clock T. came in. As the rest were singing, and scarcely noticed his coming in, I said to him, Why, where did you come from? I thought you were in a safer place than Lawrence for rescuers.

وو

[ocr errors]

He replied, "I have been out of town to-day; but I thought I would come over the hills to-night, and write a letter."

So, quickly getting him stationery and a light, he went out into another room to write. There was laughing and jesting among the singers, as they left soon after; a doubt arising whether they would all get to their homes safely, they having been on the street the day of the attempted arrest, and, as Jones had forty names, there was little reason to hope theirs were not in the list.

Doctor carried two ladies to their homes, each two miles from ours, and a mile apart. Just after they had gone, two gentlemen came from town. One was a stranger to me, and the other was W. He too had been from town during the day, and had gone home for a night's rest, when he was aroused by the other gentleman. They said "Good-evening," and walked in. W., espying T., who had finished his letter, and was about leaving for a safer residence than ours, said, "Well, T., our best friend is shot.”

"Who?" was the question asked simultaneously by several voices; and W.'s reply, in the same solemn manner, "Sheriff Jones," startled us. Not because for him we had any esteem, any respect; but who was there in Lawrence that would take a brother's blood? Unlike the Missourians, who shot down inoffensive people with no more compunctions than they would a wild part

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »