The Hunt for Franklin Coleman, Part Seven

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, 6

John Banks came home to Hickory Point and found the local free state men up in a mob, still looking for Franklin Coleman. They burned his house, as well as Harrison Buckley’s, not long after seeing him. The same day, the local free state men came together in a public meeting at the site of Charles Dow’s death to discuss matters. Nicholas McKinney attended that meeting:

I think there were about 100 persons there, and it was held at the place where the murder was committed; the men standing in a circle around the spot where Dow was found. I do not think any steps had been taken to arrest Coleman at the time of the meeting. I heard he was then down at Shawnee Mission, or in Missouri. He has never, that I have heard of, been arrested since then, and has been at large ever since. I do not recollect much about the resolutions passed at the meeting at Hickory Point; I cannot identify them.

I don’t know just how many people lived in and around Hickory Point at the time, but a hundred seems very high. Given Banks reports people coming back from there to Lawrence, it seems likely that the crowd came from more than just the immediate environs. Maybe Jacob Branson put out a call for his Kansas Legion associates. The organization existed to protect free soil men from proslavery men, so it would make perfect sense for him to do so given Coleman and Dow’s respective politics, as well as his personal friendship with Dow and enmity with Coleman.

O.N. Merrill has an account of the meeting in his True History of the Kansas Wars and had the resolutions passed at the meeting available to him, but declined to include the lot. He does, however, see fit to include the customary statement of causes:

Charles D. Dow, a citizen of this place, was murdered on Wednesday afternoon last; and whereas, evidence by admission and otherwise, fastens the guilt of said murder on one F.M. Coleman; and whereas, facts further indicate that other parties, namely; Buckley, Hargis, Wagoner, Reynolds, Moody and others, were implicated in said murder; and whereas, facts further indicate that said individuals and parties are combining for the purpose of harassing, and even murdering unoffending citizens; and whereas, we are now destitute of law, even for the punishment of crime, in this territory, and whereas said individuals have fled to Missouri

I don’t recall reference to any Reynolds before. Wagoner and Moody did no more than see what happened, but it sounds like they fled the area. One can’t blame them with a mob out hunting for Coleman any more than one can blame Hargis and Buckley for getting clear while they could. But it had to make them look guilty to the mob. Why flee unless they had reason to? Few mobs will admit to their own role in deciding such things, though that doesn’t render their concern entirely insincere. Given how things have gone in Kansas to date, and the fact that proslavery men had organized against them often enough, the leap from frightened people seeking safety to guilty co-conspirators withdrawing to fight another day seems small enough. Had they known that Coleman now traveled in the company of Samuel Jones, that would probably have silenced any doubts that remained.


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