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People - Notable Kansans - Ritchie, John, 1817-1887

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Grand Mass Convention

Grand Mass Convention
Creator: Topeka Council of Safety
Date: June 9, 1856
This printed circular calls for a "grand mass convention" to be held by the Free State Party on July 3, 1856, to discuss the "perils of the times." It is signed by several Topekans and others involved in the free state cause.


Hale Ritchie home, Topeka, Kansas

Hale Ritchie home, Topeka, Kansas
Date: Between 1900 and 1910
A view of Hale Ritchie's children on the porch of their home. The John Ritchie home is visible in the background. The homes were located in the 1100 block of S.E. Madison Street in Topeka, Kansas.


John Brown supporters

John Brown supporters
Date: 1880-1889
This formal studio portrait of eight John Brown supporters was taken some years after Brown's execution for treason for his part in the raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia. On October 24, 1882, the Topeka Capital Journal ran an article titled "John Brown, A Reunion of his Surviving Associates-Recollections of the Battle of Blackjack - Bloody Scenes of Early Days in Kansas - Last Visit - The Preliminaries to Harper's Ferry - Several Very Interesting Narratives." This photograph may have been taken at this gathering. The portrait includes the notations "The group shown below were long supporters of the famous old champion of the colored race." and "John Brown Group." The men are identified at the bottom of the photograph: standing, from the left: Jacob Willets, John Armstrong, Col. Dan H. Horne; seated, from the left: Aug. H. Barnard, Col. John Ritchie, Charles W. Moffet, Edwin Bodwell, and F. G. Adams.


John Ritchey to A. D. Stevens

John Ritchey to A. D. Stevens
Creator: Ritchie, John, 1817-1887
Date: March 7, 1860
Topeka's "John Ritchey" [Ritchie] writes this letter dated March 7, 1860, to A. D. Stevens from Franklin, Indiana, where he had "been spending the winter with his family." Although Ritchey mentions John Brown and his own fervent views in opposition to "Slavery," the focus of his brief comments to his former Kansas comrade, who was scheduled to die on the Charlestown gallows on March 17, are an expression of concern for Steven's eternal soul: "I can see but one way left for me to be of any service to you and that is to direct your mind to the Savior. 'Ye must be born again.'"


John Ritchie

John Ritchie
This sepia colored carte-de-visite shows John Ritchie, (1817-1887), an abolitionist from Franklin, Indiana who moved, in 1855, to Topeka, Kansas. Actively involved in the Free State movement, Ritchie operated a way station along the underground railroad to help runway slaves. In 1858 and 1859 he respectively served as a delegate to the Leavenworth and Wyandotte Constitutional Conventions. Ritchie was also instrumental in donating a 160 acres of land for the future site of Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.


Mary Jane Shelledy Ritchie

Mary Jane Shelledy Ritchie
Date: Between 1875 and 1880
This is a photograph of Mary Jane Shelledy Ritchie, the first wife of John Ritchie. She was the youngest daughter of Caleb Shelledy of Shelby County, Kentucky. At the age of 10 years, Mary Jane went to live in Franklin County, Indiana. On January 16, 1838, she married General John Ritchie and came to Topeka in 1855. She is reported to be the fifth woman to settle in Topeka, Kansas. The photograph is copied from "John Ritchie, Portrait of an Uncommon Man" published by the Shawnee County Historical Society.


Public Meeting! Opposing John Ritchey in his recent act of killing of Leonard Arms

Public Meeting! Opposing John Ritchey in his recent act of killing of Leonard Arms
Creator: Lawrence Citizen
Date: April 28, 1860
This broadside calls for Lawrence citizens to attend a public meeting to express opposition to John Ritchey's killing of U.S. Marshal Leonard Arms. The broadside included a list of 140 citizens of Lawrence and vicinity who condemned Ritchey's actions.


Ritchie Lime Kiln, Topeka, Kansas

Ritchie Lime Kiln, Topeka, Kansas
Date: Between 1910 and 1920
A view of the ruins of the Ritchie Lime Kiln of Topeka, Kansas, which was located in the Ritchie Addition on the east side of the 10th Street railroad tracks. The Santa Fe railroad tracks are on the left, and the Missouri Pacific line on the right. At some time earlier than this photograph, the kiln had caved in and a man had been killed.


Robert L. Mitchell to Cyrus Kurtz Holliday

Robert L. Mitchell to Cyrus Kurtz Holliday
Creator: Mitchell, Robert L.
Date: October 12, 1856
Robert L. Mitchell wrote from Topeka, Kansas Territory to Cyrus K. Holliday, president of the Topeka Town Association, who was in Pennsylvania. Holliday had returned to his home state, nicknamed "Key stone," to speak on behalf of the free state cause and John C. Fremont. Mitchell requested Beecher Bibles and reported arrests of free state men, including [Carmi William] Babcock, the Lawrence postmaster. Mitchell withheld details since Holliday's name had gained notoriety in Missouri. A post script mentioned the October 6th election and discussed the upcoming trial of John Rich[ie] and Charles A. Sexton.


Walter Oakley et al to Charles Robinson

Walter Oakley et al to Charles Robinson
Creator: Oakley, Walter
Date: December 26, 1857
Walter Oakley, W. W. Ross, and John Richey write from Topeka, Kansas Territory, to invite Robinson to address the "Mass Meeting" to be held in their city on Monday, December 28, for the purpose of endorsing "the action of the Convention at Lawrence." These men and the community held Robinson in the highest "esteem," but they differed with him "upon the question of voting for state officers under the Lecompton Constitution."


Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas

Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas
Date: between 1895 and 1905
This sepia colored photograph shows Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. The campus is located on a 160 acres of land, donated by Kansas abolitionist John Ritchie, in the central portion of the capital city. Established in February of 1865 by the Congregational Church, the school was named Lincoln College in honor of President Abraham Lincoln. In 1868, the board of trustees changed the institution's name to Washburn College to honor Ichabod Washburn, a wealthy industrialist from Worcester, Massachusetts, who gave a $25,000 donation to the college's endowment program. The school was later renamed, in 1952, Washburn University of Topeka.


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