“I lit my pipe and walked boldly” The Hunt for Andrew Reeder, Part Twelve

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Reeder’s diary.

The proslavery mob had yet to come for Andrew Reeder, but he expected them on May 22, 1856. He had hidden in Kansas City for eleven days, been seen at least once, and closeted in the same hotel for long enough that anyone hanging about might have noticed something off. With the free state hotel in Lawrence ruined, the Missourians aimed to come back and finish the job. Reeder and his friends thought that, whether they knew of him or not, the proslavery men would probably ransack his hotel on general principles. Consequently, they planned to get him to a private residence that night. Kansas first governor shaved his whiskers, dirtied his face, and dressed as an Irish laborer for his escape.

Then he had to wait for the evening to slowly pass. A bit before six, Kansas City threw a mass meeting. The mayor ran the show, where

It was ascertained that not more than 60 men could be raised to defend the house, and arms for not more than 25 or 30; and the Mayor informs Edward Eldridge that he cannot undertake to defend it, unless he can show the papers to prove that it does not belong to the Emigrant Aid Company.

The hotel might not have belonged to the Aid Company, but Colonel Eldridge (not Edward) handled all its business and he had the paperwork with him at Lawrence. On top of that news, Reeder got another scare when a man carrying water came into his room. The free state delegate had thought the door locked and could only pretend to sleep while the man did his work.

Reeder’s time came before the mob. At eight thirty his accomplices told him that they had all in readiness, including his new host, Brown, ready to take him home. Reeder opted out of going in his company. He doesn’t say why, only that he determined to join Brown somewhere on the road. His friends left him and Reeder made his exit:

I lit my pipe and walked boldly down the front stairs, through the office, which was crowded with people. Elbowing through them, I passed into the bar-room and out on the steps. Dozens of people were sitting and standing about the door and on the sidewalk, many of them the most obnoxious men, and who were well acquainted with me.  I stood quite unconcerned on the steps until I saw a vacant chair, and went to it and sat down.

Maybe Reeder discovered some ice water in his veins at just that moment, but earlier in the day he seems almost manic with despair. I suspect he polished his manly bravery while recalling the moment, but he could just have had that good of a disguise. He shaved his whiskers, and the governor had a conspicuous set. As a bearded person myself, I can tell you that I look different without mine. Those who knew Reeder might not have recognized him just on that account, let alone his dressing down and dirtying his face.

Still, the delegate didn’t leave it all to his disguise and the press of humanity. He had arranged for his friends to single out the “nearest and most dangerous” of the crowd, who they should chat up and distract. It worked. Reeder sat in his chair for a few minutes, then

walked deliberately up the road, unmolested and unrecognized, with a great sense of relief.

Reeder met up with Brown and they walked to his house up on the edge of the woods, some ways from town. There, for the first time in more than a week, Andrew Reeder

Sat out of doors and enjoyed the freedom and fresh air.

 

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One comment on ““I lit my pipe and walked boldly” The Hunt for Andrew Reeder, Part Twelve

  1. Cool story! The power of confidence is amazing!

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