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Curriculum - 7th Grade Standards - Kansas History Standards - 1860s to 1870s (Benchmark 3) - Exodusters (Indicator 5) - Emigrant aid organizations

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1880 census of Farmer Township, Wabaunsee County, Kansas

1880 census of Farmer Township, Wabaunsee County, Kansas
Creator: United States. Census Office. 10th census, 1880
Date: June 1, 1880 through June 2, 1880
This excerpt of a census schedule provides details--including the name, age, race, and occupation--of settlers in Farmer Township in Wabaunsee County, Kansas. The county included a black population (B=Black) who had settled there in 1879 with the help of the Freedmen's Relief Association.


1880 census of Rock Creek Township, Wabaunsee County, Kansas

1880 census of Rock Creek Township, Wabaunsee County, Kansas
Creator: United States. Census Office. 10th census, 1880
Date: June 11, 1880
This excerpt of a census schedule provides details--including the name, age, race, and occupation--of settlers in Rock Creek Township in Wabaunsee County, Kansas. The county included a black population (B=Black) who had settled there in 1879 with the help of the Freedmen's Relief Association.


Action of Other Cities on the 'Exodus' Question

Action of Other Cities on the 'Exodus' Question
Creator: Wyandotte Gazette
Date: April 25, 1879
This article includes information about Exoduster relief efforts in both Topeka and Lawrence. In Topeka, the Kansas Freedmen's Aid Association had appealed to other counties, asking them to form local aid societies to assist refugees in their respective areas. Lawrence citizens held a meeting in Fraser Hall to discuss the Exodus; the attendees recognized the legitimacy of the Exodus and were willing to provide aid and support for the emigrants.


All colored people that want to go to Kansas

All colored people that want to go to Kansas
Creator: Nicodemus Town Company
Date: 1877
This broadside advertises the availability of land in Nicodemus, Graham County, Kansas encouraging African-American immigration to Kansas. As noted on the poster, some African-American residents of Lexington, Kentucky, were moving to Nicodemus and consolidating themselves with the Nicodemus Town Company. Nicodemus was settled in 1877, and is the only surviving all-black settlement west of the Mississippi that was settled by former slaves during the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. It is now a historic site administered by the National Parks Service.


An appeal for help in behalf of the colored refugees in Kansas

An appeal for help in behalf of the colored refugees in Kansas
Creator: Rust, Horatio Nelson, 1828-1906
Date: January 22, 1881
This flyer, distributed by the Southern Refugee Relief Association of Chicago, Illinois, describes the dire situation of the African-American refugees relocated in Kansas. The secretary of this association, Horatio N. Rust, had taken this opportunity to pass along information relayed to him by Elizabeth Comstock, an aid worker in Topeka. Comstock was thankful for the donations of food and other goods, but asked for more assistance in feeding, clothing, and sheltering these refugees. The flyer also includes short excerpts of letters by agents of the refugee association who had direct knowledge of the emigrants' situation.


Andrew Atchison to John P. St. John

Andrew Atchison to John P. St. John
Creator: Atchison, Andrew
Date: August 22, 1881
In this letter, Andrew Atchison updates Kansas governor St. John on the condition of the Exoduster settlement near Dunlap, Kansas. Benjamin Singleton had established this colony in May, 1878, and according to Atchison, the black refugees (numbering around 200 families) were thriving. Another goal of Atchison's letter was to investigate the "practicability" of establishing a Business and Literary Academy in addition to their free public school. Atchison and some other white residents of the area had formed the Dunlap Aid Association to assist the Exodusters' efforts to obtain land and employment.


Articles of Corporation and By-Laws of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association

Articles of Corporation and By-Laws of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association
Creator: Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association (Topeka, Kan.)
Date: 1879
This pocket-sized booklet contains the articles of incorporation and by-laws of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association that assisted Southern blacks emigrating to Kansas influencing the Exoduster Movement of 1879. In addition, the booklet includes a listing of the Board of Directors and officers where Governor John P. St. John served as its president.


Benjamin "Pap" Singleton

Benjamin "Pap" Singleton
Date: 1880
Benjamin "Pap" Singleton was born a slave in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1809. Singleton escaped to Canada to gain his freedom, returning to Tennessee after the end of the Civil War. Seeking a better life for himself and for his fellow emancipated African Americans, he began his efforts to buy land in Tennessee for blacks to farm. His plan failed due to unfair prices set by white landowners. Singleton then looked to Kansas as a potential site for black emigration, organizing the Tennessee Real Estate and Homestead Association with his business partner, Columbus Johnson. This company founded the Dunlap Colony in Morris County and a short-lived settlement in Cherokee County. Although his company did not create many successful colonies, through his advertisements he did help thousands of Exodusters relocate to Kansas, leading to his name as "Father of the Exodus." Singleton also organized a political group called the United Colored Links and later in life he promoted black colonization.


Benjamin "Pap" Singleton and S. A. McClure

Benjamin "Pap" Singleton and S. A. McClure
Date: 1876
This photograph depicts a steamboat containing freed people in Nashville, Tennessee, with Benjamin "Pap" Singleton and S. A. McClure superimposed in the foreground. Singleton, known as the "Father of the Exodus" for the Exoduster Movement in 1879, organized the Tennessee Real Estate and Homestead Association to facilitate black emigration from the South. His town company founded the Dunlap Colony in Morris County, and a short-lived settlement in Cherokee County, Kansas. His widespread use of advertisements encouraged thousands of former slaves to emigrate to Kansas. McClure was one of his associates and advocate for emigration.


Dunlap Academy and Mission School, Dunlap, Kansas

Dunlap Academy and Mission School, Dunlap, Kansas
Date: Between 1880 and 1899
This photograph portrays the students and teachers of the African American school in Dunlap, Morris County, Kansas. Dunlap was located in eastern Morris County and was established in May 1878. The colony was founded by Benjamin Singleton and the Tennessee Real Estate and Homestead Association. This was the last colony Singleton founded in Kansas.


Elizabeth Comstock to John P. St. John

Elizabeth Comstock to John P. St. John
Creator: Comstock, Elizabeth
Date: June 16, 1881
In this letter Elizabeth Comstock, a former agent of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association, relates her experiences during her visit to the East coast in 1881. Comstock and some of her New York colleagues had the opportunity to speak with President James Garfield, giving him four main points to consider regarding the Exodus movement. According to her letter, Garfield was devoted to aiding black refugees. She also wrote of other matters, including how some blacks in southern Kansas were displeased about the dissolution of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association; in contrast, Comstock believed the demise of this association had some positive repercussions.


Exodusters at Floral Hall, Topeka

Exodusters at Floral Hall, Topeka
Creator: Worrall, Henry, 1825-1902
Date: July 5, 1879
This drawing from Harper's Weekly depicts the African-American refugees, called Exodusters, who were housed in Floral Hall on the Topeka Fairgrounds, near what is today the Expocentre. Many of these refugees are listening to a sermon or lecture being delivered on the platform. It was drawn by Henry Worrall.


Exodusters in Floral Hall, Topeka

Exodusters in Floral Hall, Topeka
Creator: Worrall, Henry, 1825-1902
Date: July 5, 1879
This drawing from Harper's Weekly depicts the living quarters of the African-American Exodusters housed in Floral Hall on the Topeka Fairgrounds. These emigrants were crowded into this building while waiting for more permanent lodgings and employment. The drawing was created by Henry Worrall.


Governor John P. St. John to Horatio N. Rust

Governor John P. St. John to Horatio N. Rust
Creator: St. John, John Pierce, 1833-1916
Date: January 16, 1880
This informative twelve-page letter, written by John P. St. John, Governor of Kansas, details how the Freedman's Relief Association has been assisting the black refugees fleeing from the South. St. John was well acquainted with the workings of this association, being a board member himself, and therefore he gave specific details about how many emigrants have found employment. He also discusses the barracks in Topeka that housed around 200 emigrants in need of shelter. Many of these Exodusters were suffering during the cold winter, and St. John mentioned that the association needed lumber to build additional barracks and houses for some of the emigrants. Toward the end of the letter, St. John implored Rust to discover if Illinois (Rust's home state) would be able to accept any of these refugees.


Governor John P. St. John to Roseline Cunningham

Governor John P. St. John to Roseline Cunningham
Creator: St. John, John Pierce, 1833-1916
Date: June 24, 1879
In this letter, Governor St. John responded to Cunningham's inquiry (from June 18, 1879) about receiving financial assistance to cover the cost of emigration to Kansas. He informs her that there is no society to aid her travel costs, and that the promise of "40 acres and a mule" is a misrepresentation. While he states that he does sympathize with the Southern blacks' situation, he advises Cunningham that emigrants should not come to Kansas if they are destitute. He also provides her with information about Kansas, including the cost of farmland and the typical wage for laborers. Governor St. John, in addition to his official government duties, was also on the board of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association, This association was formed to provide aid to Exodusters such as Cunningham, but unfortunately the association did not have adequate funding to provide for all the Exodusters fleeing from the South.


Governor John Pierce St. John to Rev. Henry Smith

Governor John Pierce St. John to Rev. Henry Smith
Creator: St. John, John Pierce, 1833-1916
Date: May 13, 1879
Governor John P. St. John wrote this letter in response to Rev. Smith's letter dated May 7, 1879. St. John informed Smith that the only problem with Southern blacks' emigrating into Kansas stemmed from the fact that many emigrants were destitute and in need of financial support. According to St. John, black settlers enjoy the same rights and privileges of white settlers. However, he also warned Smith that, while Kansas has a great deal to offer, the benefits of emigration were sometimes exaggerated. He encouraged Smith to be aware of these misrepresentations. St. John, in addition to his duties as governor, served on the board of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association.


Henry and Clara Smith to John P. St. John

Henry and Clara Smith to John P. St. John
Creator: Smith, Henry and Clara
Date: May 7, 1879
Henry Smith and his daughter, Clara, wrote this letter to Kansas Governor John St. John requesting information about black emigration to Kansas. Smith wrote on behalf of his community in Marshall, Texas, saying that a number of people were hoping to emigrate because they were unable to make a living due to discriminatory practices. According to the letter, some of the Smith's white neighbors were threatening to follow black emigrants if they attempted to leave the area (to what end is unclear). In addition to his role as Kansas governor, St. John served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association.


Ho for Kansas!

Ho for Kansas!
Creator: Singleton, Benjamin, 1809-1900
Date: March 18, 1878
Benjamin "Pap" Singleton, a leader of the Exodus movement and president of the Tennessee Real Estate and Homestead Association, distributed this pamphlet in Nashville, Tennessee, to encourage emigration to Kansas. Singleton would organize transportation for any African Americans eager to escape the discriminatory black codes being instituted in various parts of the South. Singleton and other emigrants believed that former slaves would be able to lead happier lives in a northern state such as Kansas.


Isaiah T. Montgomery to Governor John P. St. John

Isaiah T. Montgomery to Governor John P. St. John
Creator: Montgomery, Isaiah T. (Isaiah Thorton), 1847-1924
Date: May 23, 1879
Isaiah T. Montgomery of Hurricane, Mississippi, wrote Governor John P. St. John of Topeka, Kansas, concerning the migration of twenty five families of black refugees from Mississippi to Kansas. Montgomery described the difficulties faced by the families and a visit he made to Kansas to assess their conditions. He also critiqued the relief programs in Kansas and made recommendations for assisting present and future migrants. In addition, the letter addresses Montgomery's broader effort to establish a community for black refugees in Kansas and the oppressive conditions under which blacks lived in Mississippi. Montgomery dictated a letter sent to him from William Nervis regarding the conditions of the refugees. During 1879 and 1880 a mass exodus of blacks from the deep South, known as the Negro Exodus, overwhelmed the state's ability to accommodate the refugees. These refugees were called Exodusters. Governor St. John established a Freedman's Relief Association to assist the migrants but its efforts were largely seen as a failure.


J. C. Black to Governor John P. St. John

J. C. Black to Governor John P. St. John
Creator: Black, J. C.
Date: April 28, 1881
This brief letter was written by J. C. Black, a former slave from Paris, Tennessee. According to Black, his white neighbors were saying that black refugees in Kansas were starving and out of work. Black wanted to know if this was true before he moved to Kansas. He asked for a speedy response. In addition to his service as Governor, St. John also served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association.


J. Lincoln to John P. St. John

J. Lincoln to John P. St. John
Creator: Lincoln, J.
Date: 1881
J. Lincoln, a resident of Belvidere, Illinois, wrote this letter to obtain more information about the condition of black refugees in Kansas. Apparently Lincoln had planned on sending clothing to Elizabeth Comstock (an agent of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association), but one of his neighbors said such a donation was unnecessary because there were no suffering emigrants in Kansas. Lincoln wanted to know the truth about this matter. Kansas governor St. John was on the board of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association.


Kansas Refugees

Kansas Refugees
Creator: Chicago Inter-Ocean
Date: Between 1880 and 1881
Horatio N. Rust, secretary of the Southern Refuge Relief Association, sent this letter to the editor of the Chicago Inter Ocean to pass along news from Elizabeth Comstock, agent of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association based in Topeka. Comstock feared for the health of 500 refugees, and so Rust asked for contributions of money, bedding, or clothing to send off immediately.


Mrs. P. Gillespie to John P. St. John

Mrs. P. Gillespie to John P. St. John
Creator: Gillespie, Mrs. P.
Date: January 17, 1881
In this brief letter, Mrs. P. Gillespie of Nevada, Iowa, enclosed five dollars as a contribution to the Exoduster relief effort in Kansas. In addition to his role as governor of Kansas, St. John also served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association.


Richard West to John P. St. John

Richard West to John P. St. John
Date: January 18, 1881
Richard West, a resident of Barton Station, Alabama, wrote this letter to Kansas governor St. John requesting information about available land in Kansas. West was a farmer who described in some detail many of the concerns facing emigrants, including transportation and other expenses. In addition to his role as governor of Kansas, St. John also served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association.


Roseline Cunningham to John P. St. John

Roseline Cunningham to John P. St. John
Creator: Cunningham, Roseline
Date: June 18, 1879
Roseline Cunningham, a black schoolteacher from Westpoint, Mississippi, wrote this letter to Kansas governor John St. John concerning emigration to Kansas. Cunningham, like many other Exodusters, was unable to make a living in the South and sought information about settling in Kansas. She also wanted to know if there was a governmental agency or society that would help her (and her neighbors) cover the cost of emigration. Governor St. John served on the board of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association.


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