Familiar Faces at the Kansas Pioneer Association

George W. Brown

George W. Brown

The Missourians decided, belatedly, that they had best get into the Emigrant Aid Game. For more than a year, the Massachusetts, then New England, and other societies in the North had paid the travel costs of antislavery settlers bound for Kansas. They even ran a hotel or two to put a roof over the heads of new arrivals, albeit one with more sod than shingles. For the previous history of territorial Kansas, the Missourians took all that as cheating the system. Now they would cheat too. Moreover, the people of Jackson County specifically empowered their Kansas Pioneer Association to coordinate with other such groups for a wide-open slave power conspiracy. The same meeting that organized the association also called for a convention of similar associations from every county in Missouri to put their plan into operation.

As the names of the officers chairing the meeting at Lexington which set all this in motion appeared in the papers, the Herald of Freedom gave them a close look. George Brown spotted S. H. Woodson among them, who had telegraphed back to the east that proslavery men needed to come in a hurry to

aid in the subjugation of the ‘d—-d Yankees.’ His dispatches were mistaken in the East for those of the Secretary of our Territory, Daniel Woodson.

Daniel Woodson

Daniel Woodson

Two Williams Phillips before and two Woodsons now. I’ve featured a letter from a Woodson before, straight out of Charles Robinson’s The Kansas Conflict. The letter appears over Daniel Woodson’s name. The full text:

Westport, November 27th.

Hon. E. A. McClarey, Jefferson City:

Governor Shannon has ordered out the militia against Lawrence. They are now in open rebellion against the laws. Jones is in danger.

(Private.) DEAR GENERAL: The Governor has called out the militia, and you will hereby organize your division, and proceed forthwith to Lecompton. As the Governor has no power, you may call out the Platte Rifle Company. They are always ready to help us. Whatever you do, do not implicate the Governor.

Daniel Woodson

While broadly similar to the letter Brown refers to, this Woodson makes no reference to Yankees in any state of grace. Nor does it seem that he sent multiple letters, but rather one specific missive to a militia officer advising him to call out the Platte County men. I don’t think Robinson above slanting things in the slightest, but this doesn’t quite like quite the letter that Brown meant.

Brown recognized other names. N.R McMurry served as Secretary of the mass meeting. He thought that the same as the Dr. McMurry, who came out from Independence for the Wakarusa War. Colonel James Chiles presided:

Whether this man CHILES, who was President of the meeting, was the man (?) who brutally maltreated Rev. Wm. C. Clark on the Missouri river last autumn, or whether he was the person who joined with others in sending dispatches over the wires during our late war […] we are not informed

For the edification of his readers, Brown reprinted Chiles’ dispatch:

There is no doubt in regard to having a fight, and we all know that a great many have complained because they were disappointed heretofore in regard to a fight. Say to them now is the time to show game, and if we are defeated this time, the Territory is lost to the South.

That Missourians came into Kansas, first temporarily and now perhaps to stay, in order to thwart antislavery Kansans hardly made for breaking news. But by linking Chiles’ and the others’ previous hooliganism to their present enterprise in Emigrant Aid, Brown underlined that they served the same ends. And just what kind of Missourian would come over in such an operation? Would they come as ordinary settlers and then turn against proslavery impositions as others had? Maybe, but what if Chiles’ send his buddies from the Wakarusa War? They came set to kill abolitionists and hardly made for the best prospects at a change of heart.

Which leaves the matter of how Chiles’ maltreated William C. Clark. More on that tomorrow.

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