All posts by Bonita Hanni

WELCOME

 

 

Present House and Hotel at Sycamore Springs-Kansas
Present House and Hotel at Sycamore Springs-Kansas

          Hello, So glad you stopped by!

                          Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort

                          Kansas Historical information

                          Sabetha, Kansas-Nemaha County

                          Morrill, Kansas-Brown County

  •        Natural Mineral Springs
  •        Trails
  •        Wooded Area
  •        Sycamore Trees
  •        Pony Creek
  •        Camping
  •        Old Hotel

AND

Other Stories Of Interest To Me…. Humorous Happenings

          

 

 

       

John Brown from Quindaro, Kansas City, KS to Albany, Nemaha County, Kansas

 

Slaves coming via The Missouri River to TopekaJohn Brown Holy War

Lane Trail Going North to Nebraska

Slaves were escorted by John Brown  from the Missouri River to Quindaro, Kansas City, Kansas to Topeka and elsewhere.

Quindero ruins1Quindaro Trail, Kansas City

Quindero ruins2-2Quindaro Ruins, Kanss City

Lane Freedom Trail from Topeka to Sabetha (60+ miles), Nemaha, Kansas stopping at Albany

Albany

In 1857 a colony of a dozen or more families, related by blood and affinity settled Albany, naming their town in honor of the New York capital of their native state. They settled at the head of Pony Creek, two miles north of present Sabetha on the east edge of Nemaha County, Kansas. Among these pioneers were the families of William and Samuel Slosson, (who both later (1873) bought the property land of Sycamore Springs), John and William Graham, Noble H. Rising, John Tyler, George Lyons, Edwin Miller and Elihu Whittenhall. Educated, cultured, and possessing good sound business sense, they were whole-hearted supporters of Free State principles.

JBrownJohn Brown

John Brown and his camp of men and slaves spent his last night in Kansas in the Elihu Whittenhall cabin located in Albany, north of Sabetha. (My book will include more details about Sabetha and Albany.)This was considered a prominent “safe” house. May Wines, a former resident of this home often spoke of the secret passage where the slaves were hiding. (I knew Ms. Wines many years ago, and she wrote many historical articles about Albany and Sabetha.)The following day William Graham escorted Brown’s party using the Lane Trail to the Missouri River in Nebraska Territory.

The Lane Trail served as part of the Underground Railroad as well as a route for Free-State Immigrants.

John Brown and the slaves stopped at Plymouth Springs before heading north into Nebraska.

James Lane had established Fort Plymouth in Sept. 1856 on Lane’s Trail southeast corner on Pony Creek, 6 miles northeast of present Sabetha, present day Sycamore Springs. Plymouth was well armed with rifles and bolstered by a small cannon.

This isolation made it an ideal route for the Underground, and the existence of free-state settlers along the trail guaranteed their safety.

(We are almost to the continuing story of Sycamore Springs)

 

John Brown and the Underground Railroad

Underground Railroad Map  James Lane Trail Coming Out of Western Missouri, into Northeast Kansas Territory, and Back East to Iowa

State of Kansas-Nemaha CountyNemaha County, Kansas.  Area with Underground Railroad traffic

In Washington, the James Buchanan Administration validated the election results and the territorial legislature was preparing to draft what would be known as the pro-slavery, Lecompton Constitution.

In 1855, Brown moved to Kansas near Osawatomie, leaving behind numerous lawsuits and business entanglements in Ohio. In Kansas, from 1855-1859, John Brown came to help with the slavery issue. He became a white American abolitionist who believed an armed uprising was the only way to overthrow the institution of slavery in the United States. He would murder for the cause. Brown was known as a “folk hero” in the North and a “terrorist” in the South (Was he like the terrorists we hear about today?  In his own way?) He thought he was chosen to fight this “holy war”. His radical ideas about racial equality set him apart from other abolitionists.

John Brown Mural Mural of John Brown in Kansas Capital Building-Topeka, KS

The Lane Trail was used by John Brown and others to transport slaves north to freedom.

Slaves were chattels (personal property), and those aiding in their escape could be prosecuted for receiving and concealing stolen property. In Netawaka, John Brown and the slaves spent the night. When no move was made to arrest them, Brown loaded the slaves into wagons and headed north.

 

James Lane Trail and the Underground Railroad

As Background Material I have included the following:

In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson wanted to purchase the Louisiana port of New Orleans from France.  This was an important seaport for the farmers of America.  Napoleon needed money to fight war with Britain and agreed to the sale.  The area included 828,000,000 square miles at the price of 15 Million Dollars. The Louisiana Purchase was arranged between the United States and the Government of France, 1803.  Slavery was a legalized institution, and many of the residents held slaves.  Slave holding was a major issue in America.

The creation of trails for moving people across the frontier became a reality after the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803.   The Lane Trail (James Lane) was one with controversy.

Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.

Immigrants were going west on the Oregon and California Trails for new land to settle. The Territories of Kansas and Nebraska were being met by many. In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, during Franklin Pierce’s presidency.  The Territories of Kansas and Nebraska should have the right and privilege of making laws suitable to them, covering the issue of slavery.

James Lane (1814-1866), was a lawyer; US Senator, a Union General and a devotee of the American Civil War.  Being involved in the abolitionist movement and agent of the (New England) Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Society, he moved to Kansas (1855) during the Bleeding Kansas period.  It was important for them to help people move to Kansas to aid in abolishing slavery and more importantly able to vote against the slave issue.  He was called the leader of the “Jayhawkers”, known as the Kansas Brigade, a leading Free Soil militant group.

The Lane Trail not only moved slaves from southern captivity to eventual northern freedom in Canada, but was used by Union soldiers. Free-state settlers used the Trail to avoid intimidation tactics by those in pro-slavery Missouri.  The Under-ground Railroad, the Lane Trail, became the trail to move slaves.

The Trail began in Topeka leading north to Holton.  The Lane “Chimneys” or rock cairns (landmark stacks of rocks) guided the travelers.  From Holton going north to Netawaka and moved towards Powhattan. All of the wagon trains advanced with caution. Escaped slaves were sheltered in Old Powhattan until it was safe to move north. The trail went further north through Pleasant Spring (Granada) and Capioma to Lexington, south of Sabetha.

Lane had built a small fort of hewn logs at Lexington.  (This fort and trail isn’t too far from where the George Williams homestead existed.  This is probably how James Lane knew George and Alice Gray Williams.)

From Lexington, the trail went to Sabetha and Albany. (More will be written about these towns later). From Albany, the group would join nearby Pony Creek and venture on to Plymouth.

Fort Plymouth located on Pony Creek near present day Sycamore Springs was a well-known fortification. Lane and his men had built the Fort along the Lane Trail. (More about this in a later post)

The Trail moved on north across the Nemaha River into Nebraska to the towns of Salem and Falls City and then moved across the Missouri River east to Iowa City, Iowa. There was movement in both directions.

Pioneers stopped and settled near the posts. All of the posts along the Lane Trail eventually became towns. You can see how the Lane Trail became controversial and yet pivotal to the progression of the United States as a nation.

 

Anti-Slavery or Pro-Slavery, Danger Up Ahead!

In the 1850s white settlers were starting to travel to the West or settling in Kansas. They would often stop at the mineral springs for their water (word must have been passed on for many to know about the springs).The surrounding area has some added historical significance too and will be in a later post and also in my book.

Near the mineral springs, James Lane laid out the town of Plymouth giving the springs area its name of Plymouth Springs. (Not too much is known about this but by 1858 only one house remained.

James LaneJames Lane  

James Lane and his army established a fort nearby and was visible until 1883. (I plan to do more research about the fort and the town of Plymouth.  This will be included in the book I am writing.)

The family of George Williams (later the husband of Alice Gray) was also involved with the struggles of the New State of Kansas. The new State was being established and disagreements arose as to whether Kansas should be a Free State or a Slave State.

Can you imagine the vastness of the decisions that had to be made to govern the state?

George’s father, Eli Williams, was an elected member of the State legislature and had made plans to go to a meeting in Lecompton. Lecompton was chosen as the First Territorial Capital for Kansas.

Eli was a prominent figure in the early struggles of the new Kansas territory.  They had good horses saddled, with saddle bags and canteens for water.  A sack was thrown across the back of the saddles, which contained flour and bacon, and a frying pan, gun and hatchet.  They were ready to meet the danger that might lie ahead.

The famous James Lane had sent word to Eli Williams that he was not to come, as they could be killed during an outbreak of the anti-slavery and pro-slavery issues that were being discussed. The Williams family lived near Oneida which is about 15 miles from Plymouth Springs (or Sycamore Springs as we now know it).

James Lane and Eli Williams were to meet at another designated place. Back home, George and his sister, Fanny, stood guard that night at their cabin door with axe and knife handy, ready to sell their lives in defense of what might happen.

Taken From Nemaha County History

Coming soon: The James Lane Trail and the Underground Railroad

Kansas Frontier Justice

The early immigrants to all western territories found life hard and rough, and often violent.  After the creation of the state of Kansas in 1854, rival governments arose, pro-slavery or anti-slavery; and sectional rivalries, conflict with Missouri escalated, it is no wonder a civil war wouldn’t erupt.

Among the immigrant shared experiences were Indian wars resulting from white encroachments on lands that were part of Indian reserves; lawlessness and the eccentricities of frontier justice; political battles over the location of territorial capitals (Lecompton-pro-slavery or Topeka-free state); corruption at the government land offices; bitter conflicts over land claims and the planting of town sites; as well as transportation lines, and banking facilities. (America in 1857-Kenneth M. Stampp)

In Massachusetts, after a story of a runaway slave incident in Boston, the New England Emigrant Aid Company was  recruiting abolitionists to move to Kansas and the new territories.  Among the first agents chosen were Dr. Charles Robinson, who became the first Governor of Kansas; and James Lane, from Indiana, who was an ambitious leader with a military background. In 1855 the two men were influential in framing the Topeka free-state constitution and its governing forces.

Kansas became a Free State. (Much more history that I could include but will save that for my book.)  I love to see what motivates people to do what they do, namely Charles Robinson and James Lane.

There is also Amos A. Lawrence, philanthropist, from Boston who gave financially to the abolitionist cause and to making Kansas a free state; and who the city of Lawrence, KS was named after.  He also helped in the funding of a college at the University of KansasRock Chalk Jayhawks (my emphasis) information taken from an article in Aug 2013-L JWorld)

So I am wondering how James Lane made it 90 miles north to the Sycamore Springs area.  Also John Brown is included in this mix too. And what about what was happening with the North American Indians.  More next time…

 

The Beginning Of The Civil War

At the outbreak of the Civil war, John Gray enrolled in the Union militia but was rejected at Leavenworth, Kans.  Still desirous and anxious to serve his country, he joined the Brown County Kansas Home Guards.

While Mr. Gray was away, his wife, Annie Maria, cribbed 1,000 bushels of corn and cut and hauled the winter’s fuel from the woods, a distance of seven miles. Alice and her mother and siblings lived all alone and unprotected.

John Gray was possessed of a roving disposition. He was one of the original “Forty-Niners” who crossed the plains to the gold fields of California during the great rush of 1849. He returned home via Cape Horn (using the Drake Passage, South America. The Passageway was a major milestone by which sailing ships carried trade around the world. It was used before the Panama Canal was built in 1914. ) He also went on many freighting expeditions to Pike’s Peak and was an old Indian fighter.

After the memorable trip on horseback to Sycamore Springs, Alice Gray became friends with Chief Chawkeekee of the Kickapoo Tribe.  She was often asked to sit in on the Tribal Council. White men were never allowed to attend the Council. Women were rarely allowed to have this honor.

Alice taught school during the greater part of her mature life, and later years was engaged in the Indian service. Her first appointment in the Indian service was at Tuba, Ariz., as a teacher among the Western Navajos.

At her own request she was transferred to the Great Nemaha School of Iowa Indians and worked for several years on the reservation in Horton, Brown County, Kansas.

Miss Alice Mabel Gray married George W. Williams in 1881.

George Williams was seventeen years old when his father died, and he was left to help an invalid mother rear a family of boys and girls in a new and barren country. With ox teams he helped break up the virgin sod. With four yoke of oxen he hauled all the family supplies from the Missouri river. This was one of the first homesteads in Nemaha County, KS.

The Overland Trail to the Far West passed through Nemaha County near Oneida and Seneca KS at this time, and great wagon trains of gold seekers were constantly passing through on their way to the mountains of California. Many of the Pony Express riders and the old United States Rangers were well known to him.

Mr. Williams had often seen large herds of deer on the land where Oneida is located. He had many times seen hostile bands of Indians decked out with paint and war regalia and looking for trouble, but no depredations were committed by the Indians near the Williams’ home.

 

When the Oneida post office was placed under the civil service, Alice Williams was appointed the postmistress, The First Woman Postmistress.

Alice has direct descendants who came to America on the Mayflower and also family members who fought in the American Revolutionary War.

Connected to “Sacking and Burning” of Lawrence KS-1856

At this point, I want to give some background information on who was John Gray and his daughter, Alice.

Much of this information is summarized from various “Nemaha County (Kansas) Historical Records and Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, KS.

John Gray was married in Illinois in 1857 to Annie Maria McCune, who was born in New York, left an orphan at the age of twelve years, and then made her home with a cousin.

The cousin was the editor, George Washington Brown, who came to Kansas in 1854 to be the editor of the “Herald of Freedom.” – The first free-state newspaper in the Territory.

Mrs. Gray (Annie Maria McCune) was in Lawrence, Kansas in 1856, when the town was sacked and burned by pro-slavery ruffians, and she lost all earthly belongings.

Lawrence 3Lawrence 2Scenes of Lawrence

She then went to Illinois with a pro-slavery family named McVeigh, and later was married to John Gray. Six sons and a daughter (Alice) were born to this marriage.

John Gray and his family settled at Hiawatha, Brown County, Kansas, in May of 1857. There was just one house in Hiawatha at the time. Mr. Gray came there to make his in the new state of Kansas. He located a homestead one mile north of Hiawatha. (It was from here that John and his daughter, Alice, later made the trip to the “healing waters” of Sycamore Springs.)

Alice Mabel Gray was born in 1860 at Hiawatha, Kans., the daughter of John and Annie Maria McCune.

Later….more on John Gray and Alice

Sweatbaths and Healing Water

Sycamore TreeOne of the Sycamore Trees along the Creek

Chief Chawkeekee invited Alice and her father to “drink and grow strong”.  They did so and found the water to be a pleasant tasting mineral water clear as crystal.  They then watched the Indians using the water.  Many of them drank a gallon of water or more a day while others took “sweat baths” in it.  Early Indians were taking sweat baths in airtight wigwams where mineral water was poured over hot rocks. This gave them the effect of the modern steambath.

 

Excerpts from” Visions of a Vanishing Race” Written by Victor Boesen and Florence Curtis Graybill,

daughter of Edward Sheriff Curtis      Page 38

The sweat lodge was a small dome-shaped framework of willow wands covered with blankets.  Close by, the fire was heating the rocks.  The Indians set with their backs to the blanket wall on their haunches.  The attendant dropped hot rocks into the small pit.  The blanket opening was slightly closed and the singing began.  At certain words of the song, water was thrown on the rocks.  This steam filled the place.  The Indians advised only if necessary, that if the heat became too hot, you could lower your head and lift a corner of the blanket to release the steam.  This was a test to see the perseverance of the person and was not considered in good form.

At the end of four songs and the final series, the blanket was lifted slightly to let in a little air.  Then a new supply of hot boulders were thrown into the pit, with new steam rising up for the next round of songs.  The heat that went with the fourth and final round of songs brought the supreme test of endurance. 

The frigid air was a relief after being in the sweat lodge for any length of time.

 

They were using the blue mud by the springs to draw the poisons out of their bodies.  The Indians attributed the amazing results they were getting to super-natural powers, little realizing that the day would come when modern science would verify their discoveries.

(I remember playing with the mud; it was a blue-gray color and seemed to have a slippery oil coating of some sort. We would spread it on our arms and legs and let it dry. It would form a hard crust.)

 

NATIVE AMERICAN LEGENDS   Native American Medicine

Legends of America.com

With so many tribes, there were no exact standards of healing.  Most of the tribes believed that health was an expression of the spirit and was a continuous process.  The strength of staying strong spiritually, mentally, and physically, as well as keeping in harmony with themselves, kept their health reestablished. The natural environment, and Creator, would keep away illness and harm. Each person was responsible for his or her own health and all thoughts and actions had consequences, including sickness, disability, bad luck, or psychological injury.

Alice and her father returned home from this visit and the impression made that day never left her. Alice was convinced of its healing qualities.  She believed in them her entire lifetime.

 

Referenced materials  have been summarized.

Copyright 2015

At The End Of The Trail

 

Trail

…and they were off on their journey to the spring of “healing waters”.

After winding around hills and trees, following a faint Indian trail, they arrived in sight of the end of their quest.  They were told that two big springs came pouring out of the ground beneath a steep hillside.

A strange sight met their eyes. Alice and her father, John, were amazed and shocked what lie before them. Along the bank of the beautiful winding Pony Creek, running full of sparkling clear water, breaking into pools and riffles, were many Indian lodges, about 70.  Can you imagine what that looked like among the large Sycamore trees?

The Indians and their children were moving to and fro through their village. Laughing and strange talking was heard.  Above this temporary encampment arose the brow of a steep hill, formed of a peculiar blue clay. (What is it about the blue clay? hmmmmm!)  From under the foot of this hill the waters of two great springs poured forth and fell in a cascade into the creek.  Soon the little party passed through the encampment and stopped in front of the springs.

What was going to happen next?  Could the waters contain great medicinal merit?