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People - Notable Kansans - Reader, Samuel James, 1836-1914

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Battle of Hickory Point

Battle of Hickory Point
Creator: Reader, Samuel J.
Date: between 1856 and 1914
Painting by Samuel Reader depicting the Battle of Hickory Point. Reader, an early settler of Shawnee County, was a member of a volunteer Free State company. On September 13, 1856, General James Lane heard that proslavery men were committing outrages in the town of Grasshopper Falls (Valley Falls). Lane marched to Ozawkie and recruited Free State settlers. Shortly thereafter, he heard that the proslavery forces were at Hickory Point, north of Oskaloosa, and so redirected his men there. The proslavery forces, which included about 40 South Carolinians, were under the command of Captain H. A. Lowe. According to Reader's accounts, only one Free State man was injured, but between 5-6 proslavery men were killed when these forces collided. Reader was an amateur artist and kept diaries of his life in territorial Kansas. The exact date Reader produced this painting is unknown; many of his historical art works were painted from memory at the end of the 19th century.


Battle of Indianola

Battle of Indianola
Creator: Reader, Samuel James, 1836-1914
Date: 1906
This handwritten section of Samuel J. Reader's autobiography, which was based on Reader's diary from the same period, deals with the "Battle of Indianola," which occurred on August 30, 1856, near Indianola, in Shawnee County, Kansas Territory. Reader describes the day's events, in which no actual fighting occurred, when the local militia gathered to prevent theft and burning by proslavery supporters.


Battle of the Big Blue

Battle of the Big Blue
Creator: Reader, S. J.
Date: 1897
This painting depicts Union forces fighting Confederate soldiers at the Battle of the Big Blue River on October 22, 1864, the day before the defeat of Price at Westport. The artist, Samuel Reader, fought for the Union as part of the Second Kansas State Militia, whose members were was almost all from Shawnee County. Reader served as an officer in the "field and staff" of the militia with the rank of First Lieutenant, Assistant Quartermaster. In the Battle of the Big Blue he was captured by Confederates, who were on their way to Texas when Reader escaped and returned to his farm in southeast Kansas. In this painting, which is housed in a gilded wood frame (not shown), timber fences flank both sides of a tree-lined road. A stone building and horse-drawn caisson (ammunition chest) are visible to the right, and a mounted cannon is on the left. Armed men, wearing brown and blue coats, are scattered along the road. The Union infantry skirmish line, marked by a federal flag, recedes into the background. Confederate forces, with Confederate flag, are visible in the background to the left. Elizabeth Reader, the daughter of the artist, donated the painting in 1909.


Biographical circulars

Biographical circulars
Date: 1890-1899
This collection consists of biographical forms sent by F. G. Adams, secretary of the Kansas Historical Society, to individuals whose names appeared in historically significant materials in the collections of the Kansas Historical Society. The responses are arranged alphabetically by last name. Biographical information may include full name, place and date of birth, place and date of settlement, present residence, place and date of death, official positions, and/or addresses of family members.


Directing John Brown to the Free State Camp

Directing John Brown to the Free State Camp
Creator: Samuel J. Reader
Date: 1906
Abolitionist John Brown disguised himself as a surveyor to monitor the activities of proslavery forces in the Kansas Territory. This painting by Samuel J. Reader depicts Brown approaching a Free State camp on Pony Creek in Brown County, Kansas Territory, on August 3, 1856. Reader is the sentry approaching him.


It went against us, the Battle of Mine Creek

It went against us, the Battle of Mine Creek
Creator: Reader, Samuel James, 1836-1914
Date: October 25, 1864
This color illustration from volume three of Samuel Reader's autobiography depicts the Battle of Mine Creek, an engagement between Union and Confederate forces that took place in Kansas on October 25, 1864, during the Civil War. The Battle of Mine Creek was one of the largest cavalry engagements of the Civil War and contributed to a Confederate retreat. After the battle Union forces continued their pursuit of Price's Confederates through Missouri, Arkansas and into Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). The Confederates never again threatened Kansas. Following Price's retreat the Confederate effort west of the Mississippi River was minimal. The battle was one of the last significant engagements fought in the west. The Civil War ended in April 1865. The title "It went against us" quotes a Confederate summary of the battle. This original color illustration appears between pages 98-99 of volume three of Samuel Reader's autobiography (unit 206900).


Kansas pioneers, Shawnee County, Kansas

Kansas pioneers, Shawnee County, Kansas
Date: September 25, 1904
A photograph taken in 1904 of five Shawnee County, Kansas, pioneers. Identified from left to right: J. H. McNown, 1855; John Armstrong, 1854; S. J.(Samuel James) Reader, 1855; H. K. Winans, 1855, and J. Orcutt, 1856.


Price Raid

Price Raid
Creator: Reader, Samuel James
Date: 1865
This watercolor with pencil shading was done by Samuel J. Reader of Indianola, Kansas. The painting depicts Confederate soldiers marching Union prisoners of war while a haystack burns in the background. The artist was an eyewitness to the scene, having been captured with other members of the Second Kansas Militia following General Sterling Price's Raid into Kansas. The Price Raid was a multi-day running battle that happened very near the Kansas-Missouri border in the fall of 1864. Samuel Reader was Quartermaster for the Second Kansas during the raid's Battle of the Big Blue on October 22, where Union forces were routed. The prisoners later were marched to Tyler, Texas. Reader escaped by tricking his captors into believing he was a Confederate soldier. A four-day walk brought him home to Indianola, just north of Topeka, where he recorded his adventures in a journal.


Salmon Brown

Salmon Brown
Creator: Moore
Date: March 11, 1907
This is a photograph of Salmon Brown, a son of John Brown. Salmon was wounded at the battle of Black Jack on June 2, 1856. He later moved to Oregon where he raised sheep on a 3,000-acre ranch.


Samuel James Reader

Samuel James Reader
Date: May 26, 1855
A portrait of Samuel J. Reader, who was a participant in some of the free state activities in Kansas Territory. He wrote about his efforts in his diary, including descriptions of the Battles of Indianola and Hickory Point. His diary accounts also describe his daily life and were used as the basis for an autobiography which he illustrated with drawings and water colors. He lived in Shawnee County, Kansas Territory.


Samuel J. Reader

Samuel J. Reader
Creator: Reader, Samuel James, 1836-1914
Date: 1898
This is a cabinet card showing Samuel J. Reader (1836-1914), who was born in Pennsylvania. He began a diary at the age of 13 and continued it until his death in 1914 at the age of 78. The diary--and the autobiography he wrote from it--describes his move to Kansas Territory in 1855, his claim near Topeka, his military experiences, farming, and his later service as Soldier Township trustee and school district clerk. He liberally illustrated his diary and recorded these events on canvas. His best known works are his drawings and paintings of territorial and Civil War experiences including the Battle of the Blue, which he is working on in this photograph. Although rather naïve in style, Reader's illustrations provide a valuable record of early Kansas history, its social and political events.


Samuel J. Reader

Samuel J. Reader
Samuel J. Reader lived in Shawnee County, Kansas Territory, and participated in some free state activities. He wrote about his daily life (including descriptions of the Battles of Indianola and Hickory Point) in his diary, which he used as the basis for an autobiography he illustrated with drawings and watercolor paintings. This photograph is a copy that Reader made from a daguerreotype taken of him in 1855 at age eighteen. The copy was produced on March 1, 1894, in La Harpe, Hancock County, Illinois.


Samuel J. Reader correspondence

Samuel J. Reader correspondence
Date: 1895-1914
These letters from numerous individuals were received by Samuel James Reader. Only two of the letters, dated September 24, 1898, and October 11, 1899, were written by Reader. Many of the letters refer to the Battle of the Blue, which was Reader's only war experience. The battle occurred on October 22, 1864, in Jackson County, Missouri. The authors of some letters wish to thank Reader for sending them photographs relating to the battle, and others are former comrades from the 2nd Kansas Regiment responding to Reader's letters. Reader received letters from Salmon Brown, the surviving son of John Brown, and Jesse R. Grant, son of Ulysses S. Grant. Six of the letters, dated 1908 and 1909, come from Reader's "boyhood acquaintance" Joseph Smith III, who lived in Independence, Missouri. In one letter, Smith reminisces on time spent in La Harpe, Illinois, where Reader once lived. Smith also acknowledges that he was an abolitionist, who "sympathized with Kansas and her Free State men who prevented the accomplishment of the wicked intent of the Missouri Compromise."


Samuel J. Reader's autobiography, volume 1

Samuel J. Reader's autobiography, volume 1
Creator: Reader, Samuel James, 1836-1914
Date: 1901-1908
"Autobiography of an old Jayhawker" gives an early account of Samuel James Reader's childhood and family (1849-1856) written when Reader was in his sixties. This autobiography is of particular interest because the first volume of Reader's diary, which covered a similar time period, was destroyed by a fire. It also includes a number of illustrations drawn by Reader. It describes his life in Virginia and Illinois, before he came to Kansas. In the early pages, Reader writes about a cousin Sydney Rigdon who was a Mormon and lived in Nauvoo, Illinois.


Samuel J. Reader's autobiography, volume 2

Samuel J. Reader's autobiography, volume 2
Creator: Reader, Samuel James, 1836-1914
Date: 1896
This autobiography consists of two sections titled "Border War, Kansas Territory, 1856" and "Hickory Point." Sketches and watercolors by Reader accompany portions of the text. The Border War section describes events in which Reader participated as part of a free state militia. This section provides detail about Reader's militia activities, as well as his contact with John Brown and Aaron Stevens (Captain Whipple). The second section describes the Battle of Hickory Point, which occurred on September 13, 1856. The accounts in the autobiography are based on Reader's diaries.


Samuel J. Reader's autobiography, volume 3

Samuel J. Reader's autobiography, volume 3
Creator: Reader, Samuel James, 1836-1914
Date: October 12-30, 1864
This autobiography is based on entries from Samuel Reader's 1864 diary. The diary entries and personal recollections of the Battle of the Big Blue, Price's Raid, and the Battle of Mine Creek were used to compile the autobiography. The autobiography also includes a number of water color and pen illustrations drawn by Reader.


Samuel Reader lanternslide

Samuel Reader lanternslide
Creator: Reader, Samuel J.
Date: between 1866 and 1913
Two hand painted lanternslides depicting landscapes, inside a handmade wooden frame. This slide is part of a collection made by Samuel Reader between 1866 and 1913. Reader was a Kansas farmer who was active in the early Topeka community. He built two homes, served in the Civil War, and wrote in a diary nearly every day for 64 years. Reader began painting slides in 1866 and continued throughout much of his life. He held magic lantern shows for the local community in his house and at church.


Samuel Reader lanternslide

Samuel Reader lanternslide
Creator: Reader, Samuel J.
Date: between 1866 and 1913
Pair of hand painted lanternslides depicting a skull and a ghost, inside handmade wood frame. This slide is part of a collection made by Samuel Reader between 1866 and 1913. Reader was a Kansas farmer who was active in the early Topeka community. He built two homes, served in the Civil War, and wrote in a diary nearly every day for 64 years. Reader began painting slides in 1866 and continued throughout much of his life, holding magic lantern shows for the local community in his house and at church.


Samuel Reader lanternslide

Samuel Reader lanternslide
Creator: Reader, Samuel J.
Date: between 1866 and 1913
Hand painted glass lanternslide titled "Witches – Ancient and Modern," inside handmade wooden frame. This slide is part of a collection made by Samuel Reader between 1866 and 1913. Reader was a Kansas farmer who was active in the early Topeka community. He built two homes, served in the Civil War, and wrote in a diary nearly every day for 64 years. Reader began painting slides in 1866 and continued throughout much of his life, holding magic lantern shows for the local community in his house and at church.


Samuel Reader lanternslide

Samuel Reader lanternslide
Creator: Reader, Samuel J.
Date: 1873
Hand painted lanternslide in a handmade wood frame. Painted slide depicts U.S. Senator Samuel Pomeroy reaching into "The Public Crib" (treasury) for Kansas Senator Alexander York. Just prior to the 1873 election, York charged Pomeroy with bribing him for his vote. Pomeroy claimed the money was for a business investment. While never confirmed, the accusation ended Pomeroy's political career. This slide is part of a collection made by Samuel Reader between 1866 and 1913. Reader was a Kansas farmer who was active in the early Topeka community. He built two homes, served in the Civil War, and wrote in a diary nearly every day for 64 years. Reader began painting slides in 1866 and continued throughout much of his life, holding magic lantern shows for the local community in his house and at church.


Samuel Reader lanternslide

Samuel Reader lanternslide
Creator: Reader, Samuel J.
Date: between 1866 and 1913
Hand painted lanternslide depicting a woman lighting a candle, in a handmade wooden frame. The slide can be manipulated so the woman's arm moves to light the candle. Part of a collection made by Samuel Reader between 1866 and 1913. Reader was a Kansas farmer who was active in the early Topeka community. He built two homes, served in the Civil War, and wrote in a diary nearly every day for 64 years. Reader began painting slides in 1866 and continued throughout much of his life, holding magic lantern shows for the local community in his house and at church.


Samuel Reader lanternslide

Samuel Reader lanternslide
Creator: Reader, Samuel J.
Date: 1866
Hand painted glass lanternslide in a handmade wood frame. This slide has two images, one of a man cooking at a stove, and the other of a wife threatening her husband with a broom. The slide can be manipulated so the broom hits the man. Part of a collection made by Samuel Reader between 1866 and 1913. Reader was a Kansas farmer who was active in the early Topeka community. He built two homes, served in the Civil War, and wrote in a diary nearly every day for 64 years. Reader began painting slides in 1866 and continued throughout much of his life, holding magic lantern shows for the local community in his house and at church. He recorded making this slide, which he titled "Bachelor," in a diary entry on December 18, 1866. Reader married Elizabeth Smith the following year at the age of 31.


Samuel Reader lanternslide

Samuel Reader lanternslide
Creator: Reader, Samuel J.
Date: between 1866 and 1913
Hand painted lanternslide of a man wearing a Freemasons sash and apron, in a handmade wood frame. The slide can be manipulated so the man's arm moves up and down as if he is taking an oath. Part of a collection made by Samuel Reader between 1866 and 1913. Reader was a Kansas farmer who was active in the early Topeka community. He built two homes, served in the Civil War, and wrote in a diary nearly every day for 64 years. Reader began painting slides in 1866 and continued throughout much of his life, holding magic lantern shows for the local community in his house and at church.


Samuel Reader lanternslide

Samuel Reader lanternslide
Creator: Reader, Samuel J.
Date: between 1866 and 1913
Hand painted lanternslide depicting Santa Claus, inside a handmade wood frame. The image is created by two slides sandwiched together in the frame; one containing the image of Santa in a fireplace, the other containing a black spot which masks out the inner part of the fireplace (and Santa). As the slide is moved, Santa appears to emerge from the fireplace. This slide is part of a collection made by Samuel Reader between 1866 and 1913. Reader was a Kansas farmer who was active in the early Topeka community. He built two homes, served in the Civil War, and wrote in a diary nearly every day for 64 years. Reader began painting slides in 1866 and continued throughout much of his life, holding magic lantern shows for the local community in his house and at church.


Samuel Reader lanternslide

Samuel Reader lanternslide
Creator: Reader, Samuel J.
Date: between 1866 and 1913
Hand painted lanternslide depicting a dentist's office, inside a handmade wood frame. Slide depicts a man having a tooth pulled by a dentist. The slide can be manipulated so the dentist appears to yank the tooth with a forceps. Part of a collection made by Samuel Reader between 1866 and 1913. Reader was a Kansas farmer who was active in the early Topeka community. He built two homes, served in the Civil War, and wrote in a diary nearly every day for 64 years. Reader began painting slides in 1866 and continued throughout much of his life, holding magic lantern shows for the local community in his house and at church.


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