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African American woman tintype

African American woman tintype
Date: between 1860 and 1865
A tintype of an unidentified African American woman. This photo was passed down through generations of the Platt family. Jireh Platt was an active abolitionist in Mendon, Illinois. His sons Enoch and Luther, members of the Beecher Bible and Rifle Colony, settled in Wabaunsee County, Kansas Territory, where they operated a station on the Underground Railroad. The Platts may have helped this woman escape to freedom. The fact that she is wearing a wedding ring is significant, as slaves weren't legally allowed to marry.


Amos A. Lawrence to James B. Abbott

Amos A. Lawrence to James B. Abbott
Creator: Lawrence, Amos Adams
Date: August 11, 1855
Amos A. Lawrence wrote from Boston to James Abbott in Hartford, Conneticut, with shipping instructions for the 100 Sharps rifles he would procure. Lawrence requested that they be "packed in casks like hardware" and that Abbott bill him for expenses incurred.


Amos A. Lawrence to James B. Abbott

Amos A. Lawrence to James B. Abbott
Creator: Lawrence, Amos Adams
Date: August 24, 1855
Amos A. Lawrence wrote from Boston to James B. Abbott in Hartford, Connecticut, to confirm his receipt of a shipment of rifles. Lawrence advised Abbott that at least half of them would be required by free state forces in Topeka.


Amos A. Lawrence to James B. Abbott

Amos A. Lawrence to James B. Abbott
Creator: Lawrence, Amos Adams
Date: August 20, 1855
Amos A. Lawrence wrote from Boston to James Abbott in Hartford, Connecticut, referring to a recent shipment of carbine rifles he had sent, which was "far from being enough." Lawrence advised Abbott to take good care of them, as they might be used as reimbursement to those investors who had subscribed money to the free state cause once "it is settled that Kanzas shall not be a province of Missouri."


Bradford Robbins Grimes and Captain "Dick" Grimes, grandfather

Bradford Robbins Grimes and Captain "Dick" Grimes, grandfather
Creator: Grimes, Daisy Ferguson
Date: Unknown
This is a history of Bradford Robbins Grimes and his grandfather, Captain "Dick" Grimes. The history covers cattle and cattle drives and the Indian presence that both men encountered.


Bride's bowl

Bride's bowl
Creator: Wilcox Silver Plate Company
Date: between 1880 and 1910
Glass bowl on silverplate base. Exterior of bowl is turquoise with hand-painted decorations, interior is pink. Base is decorated with three cherubs working as blacksmiths to forge arrows. Maker's mark from the Wilcox Silver Plate Company of Meriden, Connecticut on underside. Also called an epergne, an ornate glass and silver fruit bowl often served as the center piece of a Victorian dinner table. They were also frequently given as wedding gifts to a new bride.


Carte du chemin de fer Athison, Topeka et Santa Fe, aves ses ramifications

Carte du chemin de fer Athison, Topeka et Santa Fe, aves ses ramifications
Creator: Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Company
Date: Between 1884 and 1894
This advertising circular and map published by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad is written in French. It promotes immigration and land development in the Arkansas River Valley in the State of Kansas. One side of the brochure describes the territory and the advantages of further development of three million acres of land. The reverse side has a map of the central portion of the United States, from New York City on the East coast to Colorado and New Mexico. An itinerary describes how to travel, by railroad, to the Arkansas River Valley, from twenty-seven cities in the East and Midwest. Etchings of the Cow Creek valley in Rice County, Kansas, and the Arkansas River valley at Great Bend, Kansas, accompany the map.


Charles Blair and John Brown, contract for fabrication of spears

Charles Blair and John Brown, contract for fabrication of spears
Creator: Blair, Charles
Date: March 30, 1857
Executed on March 30, 1857, with this agreement Blair promised to produce and deliver "One Thousand Spears; with handles fitted of equal quality to one doz already made and sent to Springfield, Mass." Specifications are briefly described, and then the contract reads: "In consideration whereof, John Brown late of Kansas" agreed to make a partial payment of $500 within ten days and another $450 as a final payment thirty days later.


Charles Blair to John Brown

Charles Blair to John Brown
Creator: Blair, Charles
Date: February 10, 1858
On February 10, 1858, Blair reported from Collinsville, Connecticut, on the status of the spear production; he had most of the material ready to assemble the entire lot, but "I do not feel quite willing to go on and spend any more money and then have them left on my hands." He seemed to be sincere in his efforts to work with John Brown on this, and Blair did "feel disposed to blame" Brown for the situation, Blair's generosity and commitment to the cause only went so far.


Charles Blair to John Brown

Charles Blair to John Brown
Creator: Blair, Charles
Date: April 29, 1857
Brown's blacksmith, Charles Blair, wrote from Collinsville that he had received a draft for $200 and would be pleased to proceed with the completion of the first half of Brown's spear order. Blair seems eager to accommodate Brown in any way possible in order to make this deal work for both of them and the cause.


Charles Blair to John Brown

Charles Blair to John Brown
Creator: Blair, Charles
Date: April 15, 1857
On April 15, 1857, Blair wrote Brown regarding the latter's report to him that the National Kansas Committee had turned down his request for funds to cover the first payment on the spears. Blair had stopped production, awaiting "further order from you," but said he was willing to make 500 instead of 1000 for the same rate.


Charles Blair to  John Brown

Charles Blair to John Brown
Creator: Blair, Charles
Date: March 20, 1857
During his 1857 fund raising tour, Brown made arrangements with a Connecticut blacksmith, Charles Blair, for the production of a number of spears or "pikes" for use in the Kansas territory. On March 20, Blair wrote from Collinsville that he had the first dozen "spears" ready to send and was eager to see Brown to work out the details for the production of more. (He wrote of production details and cost estimates--this first dozen would cost $12 if Brown decided he wanted no more.)


Charles Blair to John Brown?

Charles Blair to John Brown?
Creator: Blair, Charles
Date: August 27, 1857
Charles Blair once again wrote to John Brown regarding the spears, the production of which was on hold. Blair couldn't afford to proceed on his own account (even though he didn't expect much of a profit) and thought the situation in Kansas might have taken "such a turn" that the weapons might no longer be needed there.


Charles Boswell

Charles Boswell
Date: Between 1880 and 1884
This black and white illustration shows Charles Boswell, (1802-1884), benefactor for Washburn University. Boswell was born in 1802 in Norwich, Connecticut, where he made his fortune as a wholesale grocer and banker. In the latter part of his life he was also associated with the Hartford Fire Insurance Company. When Boswell moved to West Hartford, Connecticut, in 1860, his interest turned to education and helping struggling colleges in the west. One of the many colleges that benefited from his financial assistance was Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas. In 1884, Boswell gave the college ten thousand dollars toward the building of a library with the stipulation that five thousand additional dollars were to be raised. The challenge was meet and when the native limestone structure was completed, in 1886, the building was dedicated the Boswell Library. Boswell also established a $10,000.00 endowment at Washburn in memory of his only son who died during his junior year at Yale University. When Boswell passed away in October of 1884, he left provisions in his will that established a trust fund for Washburn and made the college a one-third residuary legatee of his estate.


Connecticut Kansas Colony record book, 1856-1857

Connecticut Kansas Colony record book, 1856-1857
Creator: Connecticut Kansas Colony. Secretary
Date: February 18, 1856 through June 26, 1857
The Connecticut Kansas Colony, sometimes referred to as the Beecher Bible and Rifle Colony, was formed in New Haven, Connecticut, with the intent that its members would migrate to Kansas Territory in the spring of 1856. This book identifies members of the colony. It also contains meeting minutes that record information about the activities of the colony (formation, the trip to Kansas, selecting a town site, etc.) through its decision to dissolve in favor of the Wabaunsee Company, which was charged with organizing the town of Wabaunsee, Kansas Territory. The record book's content, while not including information about the discussions of issues, contains a great deal of information about the formal actions of the colony. The early minutes contain mentions of the purchase of arms.


Eli Thayer to Dr. Thomas H. Webb

Eli Thayer to Dr. Thomas H. Webb
Creator: Thayer, Eli, 1819-1899
Date: March 3, 1855
Eli Thayer, writing from Worcester, Massachusetts to Thomas H. Webb, secretary of the New England Emigrant Aid Company, expressed his positive impression of the Emigrant Aid Company founded in Connecticut. He also expressed his distrust of the American Settlement Company and the New York League, two other emigrant aid organizations.


Francis M. Serenbetz to Edward Everett Hale

Francis M. Serenbetz to Edward Everett Hale
Creator: Serenbetz, Francis M.
Date: March 14, 1857
Francis M. Serenbetz, a German immigrant and minister, wrote from Hartford, Connecticut to Edward Everett Hale, a member of the New England Emigrant Aid Company's Executive Committee. Serenbetz informed Hale that he planned to lead a group of about a dozen families of fellow Germans to Kansas to establish a "christian community." Attached to the letter is an agreement, dated February 8, 1857, outlining the communal labor and property arrangements for the proposed Kansas settlement.


General Service Button from the Village on Pawnee Fork, 14NS403

General Service Button from the Village on Pawnee Fork, 14NS403
Date: 1867
This General Service button was recovered from the Village on the Pawnee Fork (also called Hancock's Village) in Ness County during excavations in 1977. The button, manufactured by the Scoville Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, Connecticut, measures to 3/4" or ligne 30, which is the size for a military coat. It is decorated with an eagle and shield design with a branch in one eagle claw and arrows in the other. It has a loop shank attachment on the back. The button was cleaned by electrolysis, which passes an electrical current through a liquid solution to separate the rust from the artifact. The Village on Pawnee Fork, home to several hundred Southern Cheyenne and Southern Teton Oglala was destroyed by order of Major General Winifred S. Hancock in 1867. The site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


Henry repeating rifle

Henry repeating rifle
Date: 1864
Henry repeating rifle by the New Haven Arms Company. Multiple historic repairs. Used by L.A. McLoughlin, one of George A. Forsythe's men, at the Battle of Beecher Island. His initials are scratched into the right side of the stock. The serial number 6913 indicates the gun was manufactured in 1864. The Henry was the forerunner of the famous Winchester repeating rifle.


J. Augusta Goodrich Griffing to James Griffing

J. Augusta Goodrich Griffing to James Griffing
Creator: Griffing, Jemima August (Goodrich)
Date: September 17, 1859
J. Augusta (Goodrich) Griffing wrote from Hartford, Connecticut, to her husband, James Griffing, in Topeka, Kansas Territory. Mrs. Griffing was visiting family and friends in the East for the first time since her arrival in Kansas Territory in 1855. She reported on her trip from Owego, New York, to Hartford, and her decision to leave their young son, Johnny, in the care of Mr. Griffing's family in Owego. She described Johnny's behavior in some detail, and informed Mr. Griffing that she planned to start her trip back to Kansas Territory in October, 1859.


J. C. Palmer to Amos A. Lawrence; forwarded with Lawrence's comments to James B. Abbott

J. C. Palmer to Amos A. Lawrence; forwarded with Lawrence's comments to James B. Abbott
Creator: Palmer, J.C.
Date: February 1856
Amos A. Lawrence "forwarded" a message he had received from J. C. Palmer of Sharps' Rifle Manufacturing Company to James B. Abbott in Lawrence, Kansas Territory. Palmer's note to Lawrence assured the correct quantity and quality of merchandise would be sent to Kansas Territory. Lawrence displays an interesting criticism of Palmer and the Sharps' Company in the letter forwarded to Abbott: he added a tag to Palmer's own signature "J. C. Palmer Pres[ident]", which read, "of a corporation that has no soul." Lawrence went on to implore to Abbott to work cooperatively with Colonel E. V. Sumner against all disturbances of the peace, not just those originating with proslavery men. He cautioned that "no circumstances can authorize opposition to the U. S. Gov't even to the meanest of its representations."


J. L. Witinger to Governor John St. John

J. L. Witinger to Governor John St. John
Creator: Witinger, J. L.
Date: November 17, 1880
A letter to Kansas Governor John St. John from J. L. Witinger, a Connecticut newspaper man and temperance worker. In the letter, Witinger requests details of the prohibition amendment vote; specifically, how it played out along party lines and when it will be implemented.


James B. Abbott, account of obtaining Sharp's rifles for Free State militia

James B. Abbott, account of obtaining Sharp's rifles for Free State militia
Creator: Abbott, James B., 1818-1897
Date: Around 1856
James Abbott recalled his experiences as a free state activist who participated in several Kansas Territory conflicts. In this account, he related a brief history of the Kansas Territory's political conflicts between free state and proslavery men, and recounted the events of his own trip back East to secure funds and rifles for the free state cause. His purchases included a mountain howitzer and 117 Sharp's rifles, all of which were smuggled under cover of disguise back to Kansas Territory and into the arms of free state militia. [This transcribed version of the events is either a copy of an original handwritten manuscript, or a compilation based on a personal oral interview.]


James B. Abbott to James H. Lane

James B. Abbott to James H. Lane
Creator: Abbott, James Burnett
Date: September 7, 1857
James Abbott wrote from his travels in Hartford, Connecticut, to James Lane, General of the Kansas free state militia. Abbott was attempting to raise money and supplies for the free state cause by soliciting donations from supporters in the East. However, he reported that "this season of the year is always unfavorable for all benevolent enterprises" and that the "bank and brokers panic" was making matters even more difficult. Abbott longed for "one more big fight in Kansas" even if it should cost him his life or the lives of others as "the object is worth all it will cost."


John Brown Speech

John Brown Speech
Creator: Brown, John, 1800-1859
Date: Around March, 1857
During the spring of 1857, John Brown traveled to several Northeastern cities (specifically, in Brown's home state of Connecticut) to solicit financial support for the Kansas crusade. In the speech delivered from these handwritten notes, Brown outlined some of the many sacrifices he and others had made to give his audience a sense of what was needed and discussed the unfolding situation in Kansas Territory.


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