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Simple hand-carved maple walking stick with brass ferrule at tip. Carved lettering: S. J. READER. / MAY 29 / 1903. / NORTH TOPEKA KANS. / FLOOD AND FIELD / BIG BLUE. / OCT. 22d 1864. / GAR. This cane was carved and used by Samuel James Reader, who settled near Topeka in Kansas Territory in 1855. Staunchly antislavery, Reader mustered into the 2nd Kansas Infantry as Quartermaster during the Civil War. His only wartime experience came on Oct. 22, 1864, at the Battle of the Big Blue, where Union forces were routed and all survivors taken prisoner. Reader escaped by tricking his captors into believing he was a Confederate soldier. After the war, Reader married and lived with his family near Topeka. This cane was likely used at the end of Reader's life when he suffered from arthritis. The "GAR" carved on the head refers to the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans' organization. The date May 29, 1903, refers to the flooding of Soldier Creek during the massive 1903 floods. Reader was an avid diarist, and in volume 15 of his diaries describes his inability to escape the rising water due to rheumatism.
Item Number: 224286
KSHS Identifier: 1920.12.1
Collections - Museum
Community Life - Disasters and accidents - Floods
Date - 1900s - 1903
Environment - Weather - Floods
Military - Veterans
Military - Veterans - Organizations - Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)
Military - Wars - Civil War
Objects and Artifacts - Personal Artifacts - Personal Gear - Cane
People - Notable Kansans - Reader, Samuel James, 1836-1914
Places - Cities and towns - Topeka
Places - Counties - Shawnee
Type of Material - Objects and Artifacts