Archive for Sunday, September 26, 2004

Some heroes of the Quantrill raid unknown, unrecognized

September 26, 2004


Heroes and heroines are often given monuments as a testament to their courage. Not so with many of the heroes and heroines of the Lawrence raid by William Quantrill on Aug. 21, 1863.

One young Lawrence woman, in the early morning hours of that raid, thought more about the mother of a friend she was staying with than herself. Here is what she said in a letter to a friend:

"All was confusion in a moment. The husband of my friend was determined to go out and see where the enemy was and help defend the town, but my friend clung to him and pleaded piteously for him to stay with her and the baby.

"'Come, let us go,' my friend said to me.

"'Go? Go where?'

"'To the cornfield, of course,' she replied.

"Taking my baby in my arms, I started out in my thin lawn dress and thin-soled slippers. Catching up a small single blanket, my friend threw it over my shoulders and drew it around the sleeping child so that it helped me to carry her.

"My friend's husband took their child while my friend snatched up a few clothes for the children, and the old mother gathered some of her valuables, and we started for a place of safety. We had gone but a few steps when the old lady stopped, crying, 'I have forgotten my mother's teaspoons,' and started back. Her daughter said, 'Never mind the spoons, Mother. We have no time to get them.' But then the old lady replied in reproachful tones, 'Your Grandmother's spoons that I brought from Scotland with me must be saved.'"

This girl's letter goes on to explain that the old woman slipped and sprained her ankle. Her friend's husband tried to carry her, but he finally had to put her down and support her while she tried walking as best she could.

World War I (1917-1918)Mark Beach, Albert Birch, Max Brown, Wilford Charlton, Charles Cone, Everett Demeritt, Otto Dingelstedt, Ely F. Dorsey, Ralph Ellis, Herbert James, Thomas Kennedy Jr., Aretus McClure, Clark McColloch, Glen Otis, Theodore Rocklund, Ross Rummell, Cromwell Tucker, John Tupper and Harry Ziesnis.World War II (1941-1945)Merle D. Allison, Robert C. Alton, Gilbert L. Bailey, Lawrence C. Baldwin, Paul H. Baringer, William E. Barber, Chester Beerbower, Edward T. Bleakley, Calvin Brecheisen, Glenn Bremer, Malcom J. Bromwell, Samuel B. Bruner, Paul L. Canady, Andrew H. Chisholm, Oliver Cooley, Robert T. Crowder, George E. Davolt, Leslie A. Deane, Walter D. Deay, Samuel Deel, Grover Denlinger, Lyman Dickey, Ray S. Dissinger, James H. Dodderidge, Jack Dodds, Mary Doty, Raymond A. Eberhart, Gerald W. Elston, Allan R. Ewing, David H. Fowler, Grover C. Freeze, Jack R. Gibler, Leslie Gilliland, Roy Goff, Arthur D. Grant, James H. Hail, Fred S. Hall, Orin Harding, Timothy Hardy, Robert Haynes, Lloyd Henick, Roy A. Hill, Ralph S. Hogan, Alfred C. Houk, Walter Houk, Gaylord Gubbard, Harold Hudson, Bernice F. (Bud) Humphry, David Jolly, Jason Jones, Deane W. Kiefer, Lewis E. Knight, Vernon J. Landon, O.V. Langrell, Gerald Lindenberger, Alfred Linley, Paul Lobinger, Wayne E. Loid, James P. Loree, Max Louk, Claude B. Manion, Joe Mansfield, Charles McCoin, Lee Roy McGhee, James McKee, John J. Metz, Thomas E. Miller, Robert Mitchele, Roy Mull, Claire A. Mumaw, Albert J.P. Murphy, John L. Musselman, Frank H. Nagel Jr., Raymond T. Napier, J.B. Nixon, Ramon Noches, Rachel Lee Norwood, James F. O'Brien, James C. Ocamb, Raphael P. Osbourn, Virgil H. Owens, Charles Paxton, John E. Penner, Otis O. Perkins, Leon A. Peterson, Thomas D. Petrie, George O. Pettyjohn, John W. Popham, James C. Richardson, Leo Richardson, F. Lewis Riederer, Herbert J. Sanborn, George W. Schuler, Edward Seufert, Charles Shannon, Elmer W. Showalter, Wayne Sindt, Donald E. Siroky, Carl Spitzer, Norval Staples, Leo D. Steinmetz, Lawrence I. Stoland, Thomas W. Stone, Eugene B. Swimley, Orin E. Taylor, Orval D. Thomas, Edward L. Thomas, Henry F. Thorne, Glenn A. Thurneau, Robert Treece, Howard H. Trefz, Donald H. Trovillion, Lloyd M. Tubbs, Samuel L. Unfred, Edwin R. Warner, William E. Way, Ira E. Weidler, William G. Wiley, Earle F. Williams Jr., Robert J. Wilson, Merle Wingert, Charles E. Woolf and Leo Wulfkuhle.Korean War (1950-1953)Carl F. Barlow, John C. Flora, Oscar Hicks Jr., William S. Inloes, Amos E. Kizer, Gerald S. Lambert, Lavern Mueffels, Clifford Stalkfleet, Walter M. Whitman and William L. Widner.

The old lady, sprained foot and all, was taken to a place of safety. And the woman's spoons? The girl somehow managed to rescue those as well.

The unknown lady

There's another unknown heroine who deserves special mention. According to the Rev. Richard Cordley, a survivor of the Lawrence massacre, there was a woman who stationed herself near a hidden entrance to a cellar close to the center of town. The identity of the woman is unknown, as is the location of that cellar, but she directed every runaway man to the entrance of that cellar. Eventually, according to Cordley, the guerrillas noticed that their victims were always disappearing when they came to this spot. These men approached her, demanding that she show them the hiding place, but she refused.

One of them drew out his revolver and pointed it at her ear. "Tell us," he said, "or I will shoot you."

"You may shoot me," the lady replied, "but you will not find the men."

Frustrated and knowing they could not intimidate her, they left. Rumor has it that she may have saved as many as a dozen men and boys that morning.

John Speer

We certainly cannot forget John Speer as another hero of Lawrence. Speer was an abolitionist who came from Pennsylvania to the Kansas Territory in September 1854 and actually participated in the founding of Lawrence.

As a newspaper publisher, he played an important role in the drama of Bleeding Kansas. He established the Kansas Pioneer, the first anti-slavery paper in Kansas. He quickly established a reputation for his repudiation of the gag order that the first legislature enacted in the Kansas Territory and was outspoken against slavery and border ruffians who attempted to steal fugitive slaves from Kansas.

By August 1863, John Speer was publishing the Kansas Weekly Tribune and had two grown sons who worked as apprentices for the paper. Although his two sons were killed in Quantrill's Raid and his newspaper in Lawrence destroyed, Speer resumed printing his paper in Topeka.

Bishop John Baptiste Miege

Bishop Miege was the first Catholic bishop of the Kansas Territory, and on the morning of Aug. 21, he met William Quantrill face to face. According to one historian, out of the town's 2,000 residents, only about 100 were Catholic, and they probably were suspiciously regarded because Catholics at that time were perceived as Democrats who were friendly to the South.

According to the archivist at the Kansas City Archdiocese, who kept early Kansas records, Bishop Miege and Father Favre Sebastian, the pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church on Kentucky Street, woke early on the morning of Aug. 21 to an urgent pounding on the rectory door.

Favre recognized the Quaker minister and his wife, whose names are unknown. They insisted on taking sanctuary in the church because Quantrill and his horde of men were invading the town, murdering its citizens.

The priest roused Bishop Miege and the two other priests from their slumber. Miege and the three priests escorted the minister to the church basement and rolled him in a carpet to hide him.

The bishop, priests and minister's wife then retreated to the chapel for prayer, and when raiders pounded on the door, Miege answered it.

At this point, no one knows what the bishop might have told Quantrill. I came up with a possible explanation in my novel "Sissy!" but it's only my guess.

The point is, however, that Bishop Miege was a true hero, saving the Quaker minister and other priests from harm by whatever he told Quantrill.

There were many heroes and heroines that day, and I've only just scratched the surface. For example, there was an attorney named Sam Riggs, who, despite pleadings from his wife, Kate, decided to help his neighbors by removing furniture from their homes and dousing flames.

They say that tragedy often brings out the best in people. It certainly did here in Lawrence, 141 years ago. Even today, we have our heroes and heroines, such as those firefighters who risked their lives to save others in the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

Perhaps a monument of some sort honoring our Lawrence heroes and heroines is not a bad idea. They certainly deserve our attention.

-- Tom Mach is the author of "Sissy!," an award-winning novel about Kansas, particularly Lawrence, during 1862 and 1863. His Web site is

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