The day after his rescue from Sheriff Samuel Jones, Jacob Branson told a public meeting at Lawrence that if they did not support his cause he would go home and face the consequences himself. He asked only that they bury him near his slain boarder, Charles Dow. Branson’s display of manly virtue surely pleased many in the crowd. In the testosterone haze, more than his potential martyrdom swirled. The Herald of Freedom informed its readers that
Others reported that the Governor had been informed of the transaction, that the self-called Sheriff had claimed he would bring an army to his aid, and that he would demolish Lawrence.
The unnamed others probably included members of Samuel Wood’s band of rescuers. They might also by the time of the meeting have had word of Jones doing as he threatened. The news would have come from Franklin, a town quite near to Lawrence. Though my map of territorial Kansas, printed in Etcheson’s Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era, lacks a scale Franklin appears nearer to Lawrence, if somewhat further east, than Blanton’s Bridge where Wood and company took Branson from his captors. Testimony describes the bridge as only a few miles off. It seems reasonable that a rider could have carried word between the towns in short order. Samuel Jones did the same, if coming up from the bridge to Franklin rather than riding from Franklin to Lawrence.
I.A. Prather saw Jones there:
The day before Branson was said to be rescued, Mr. Wallace, of Franklin, asked me to attend to his store, which I agreed to do. After I went to the store the next morning I went to the hotel and saw Mr. Jones writing. Mr. Wallace and myself went into the room together. Before we went into the room he had told me that Mr. Branson had been rescued from Mr. Jones and his pose, of which he was one, by thirty or forty men.
At least as far back as George Douglas Brewerton, those trying to learn what happened when Wood met Jones and came away with Branson have noted wide disagreement over the number of men involved. The lower estimates, with both sides under twenty, seem more likely.
He then told me that Mr. Jones was going to send to Missouri for aid, and it was suggested that we should go to Mr. Jones to try to stop it. Mr. Wallace expressed himself opposed to sending to Missouri. After we went into the room and found Mr. Jones writing, Mr. Wallace remarked to me, “Mr. Jones is now writing the despatch to send to Colonel Boone.” Before going into the room I said, “Why not send to Governor Shannon?” I should think I was not more than two feet from Mr. Jones when he was writing what I was told by Mr. Wallace was the despatch to Missouri. The conversation was loud enough for Mr. Jones to hear, although the room was nearly as full of persons as it could well hold.
Everyone must have wanted to see the fireworks. Jones opted for the theatrical, taking his paper and walking out to hand it to a messenger. Probably Harrison Buckley did the honors. Once his messenger started, Jones told the crowd:
That man is taking my despatch to Missouri, and by God I will have revenge before I see Missouri.
Another message went off to Wilson Shannon, asking him to rouse the militia. Jones sent it after the one to Missouri. Prather thought that Josiah Hargis carried that missive.