Archive for Monday, September 10, 2012

100 years ago: Skeleton unearthed in park believed to be one of Quantrill’s raiders

September 10, 2012


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Sept. 10, 1912:

"Workmen digging sewer ditches in Central Park this morning unearthed the human bones of a man believed by some of the old settlers to be those of one of Quantrell's guerrilla band who was killed here in Lawrence at the time of that horrible event in Kansas history -- Quantrell's raid on Lawrence. After almost fifty years of quiet in this secluded spot these bones were brought to the surface this morning. What a contrast and how singular that this relic of almost ancient times should be discovered in connection with the building of the biggest public improvement that has been made in Lawrence. When these bones were laid in that grave Lawrence was a heap of smoldering embers. What had been a prosperous little village had been wiped out. From this wreckage grew the present city of Lawrence.... The workmen were engaged in digging a ditch in the middle of the 600 block when one of them struck some hard substance with his spade; believing it to be a root or rock he pried it loose and discovered that it was a bone from a human body. He had broken it in trying to pry it loose from its grave. Further excavation disclosed additional bones and soon a complete set of human bones had been unearthed.... Old timers are of the opinion that these are the bones of the only one of Quantrell's men who fell on that awful day of slaughter and carnage. Quantrell and his gang took the town so by surprise that there was little resistance shown.... They had finished that terrible day's work and the main body had moved on out of town when one of the number was lost. This man remained behind, evidently not satisfied with the slaughter already done. But he remained too long and realizing his dangerous position sought to save himself by hiding in a cornfield east of town. He was seen by a number of the men who had come up from the surrounding country and had reached the east limits when the invaders retreated from the city. They gave chase to this lone guerrilla and after a long hunt they found him several miles east of town. His ammunition had been wasted long before and had thrown away his gun so that it might not hinder his flight. Cowering in that cornfield he begged for his life, but the men, their minds filled with the horrible atrocities that this man's gang had committed at Lawrence, spared him not.... They brought him into Lawrence. A rope was quickly produced, the noose slipped about his neck and the other end tied to a loose horse. The animal was driven about the streets dragging the victim behind it. It was stated that later this man was buried in Central Park and it is quite probable that the bones unearthed this morning were those of the lone murderer upon whom the citizens wreaked vengeance on that fateful day nearly fifty years ago."


Tyson Travis 5 years, 9 months ago

I recall the man's name was Larkin Skaggs, per my "Bloody Dawn" book. Wonder what happened to the bones? Buried somewhere in Lawrence?

RoeDapple 5 years, 9 months ago

"C.M. CHASE, in the letter to his paper, from which quotations have already been made, says: So We rode into town. The first sight attracting my attention was a Negro rushing through the streets on horseback, dragging the dead body of a dead rebel, with a rope around his neck hitched to his saddle. No part of the body was ever given burial. (this was LARKIN SKAGGS) "

"They left his body by the river and let the town dogs have it. Story goes LARKIN had an American flag tied to his horse's tail and he was drunker than a skunk."

Sarah St. John 5 years, 9 months ago

It's a mystery so far! It's interesting that different "old-timers" still in Lawrence 49 years after the raid has very different ideas of what had happened to this Larkin fellow. As I move ahead in this timeline, I will certainly make a point of mentioning any further news about this person.

We may never know if it really was Larkin S. (too bad we didn't have DNA testing back then!) but it would be nice to know what they did with the skeleton.

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