The Hunt for Franklin Coleman, Part Six

Samuel Jones

Samuel Jones

Trouble at Hickory Point: parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

The Hunt for Franklin Coleman: part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

John Banks caught up with Franklin Coleman, Josiah Hargis, Harrison Buckley, and Sheriff Samuel Jones near to Bull Creek. He told them that the crowd at Hickory Point would love to see Coleman again. They would love it so much that Coleman might not survive their ballistic affection. This likely unsettled Jones and his charges. They turned back with Banks for Shawnee Mission, met with Wilson Shannon, and got his advice to go to Lecompton. There they could swear affidavits and get a peace warrant against Jacob Branson, Kansas Legion officer and mob ringleader. So resolved, the five men set out for Lecompton.

The road to Lecompton took one past Lawrence and Banks decided to part company with his companions there. He doesn’t say why, but it seems likely that he felt his duty to Mrs. Coleman fulfilled at that point. A mob looking for Coleman would likely not search out west of Lawrence when everyone knew he went east from the area. A free state man himself, and no party to the Coleman-Dow affair, he probably felt quite safe despite the recent tumult.

In Lawrence, Banks met Carmie Babcock, the census-taker for the area back in March and subsequently postmaster.

Mr. Babcock and I were personally friendly, and he advised me not to go back home, as there were some 200 or 300 men in arms, who had had a meeting there that day to investigate the killing of Dow. I said I did not suppose there was any danger, but he said there might be a good deal. He said the men that had went over there said they were going to kill Coleman and all his friends.

Banks wouldn’t hear it. He set out for Hickory Point, meeting “twenty or thirty” men coming the other way on the road. They all came Banks’ way armed, but didn’t give him any trouble. When Banks reached his home, he soon had visitors:

some ten or twelve men came down by my house, and some of them told me they had been at a meeting at the Point. They were also armed, some with Sharpe’s rifles and some with other guns. These armed men were free-State men. One pro-slavery man by the name of Jones was with this party by my house, but he had no arms.

Banks asked his well-armed guests about the meeting. They told him that they went out to determine how Dow died and hunt down Franklin Coleman. Banks knew just where they could find Coleman: with Sheriff Jones in Lecompton. He also asked if they planned to do anything to the local proslavery men. One denied the rumor that they would burn the lot off their claims.

Coleman’s house was burned that night. I saw the remains of it the next morning. While I was looking at the remains of Coleman’s house, I saw smoke rise in the direction of Buckley’s house, and found out afterwards that Buckley’s house was burned.

Banks caught up with the Jones who had called on him when the mob visited, who confirmed the obvious: the mob had burned the houses down. It seems they then remained active. Banks doesn’t make it entirely clear, but it looks like they continued abroad through the next day. He identified them as free state men, except for Jones, and named Jacob Branson their leader.


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