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During the summer of 1853 we lived in our little log house, and father continued to trade with the Indians, who became very friendly; hardly a day passed without a social visit from them. I spent a great deal of time with the Indian boys, who taught me how to shoot with the bow and arrow, at which I became quite expert. I also took part in all their sports, and learned to talk the Kickapoo language to some extent.

Father desired to express his friendship for these Indians, and accordingly arranged a grand barbecue for them. He invited them all to be present on a certain day, which they were; he then presented them with two fat beeves, to be killed and cooked in the various Indian styles. Mother made several large boilers full of coffee, which she gave to them, together with sugar and bread. There were about two hundred Indians in attendance at the feast, and they all enjoyed and appreciated it. In the evening they had one of their grand fantastic war dances, which greatly amused me, it being the first sight of the kind I had ever witnessed.

My Uncle Elijah and quite a large number of gentlemen and ladies came over from Weston to attend the entertainment. The Indians returned to their homes well satisfied.

My uncle at that time owned a trading post at Silver Lake, in the Pottawattamie country, on the Kansas river, and he arranged an excursion to that place. Among the party were several ladies from Weston, and father, mother and myself. Mr. McMeekan, my uncle's superintendent, who had come to Weston for supplies, conducted the party to the post.

The trip across the prairies was a delightful one, and we remained at the post several days. Father and one or two of the men went on to Fort Riley to view the country, and upon their return my uncle entertained the Pottawattamie Indians with a barbecue similar to the one given by father to the Kickapoos.

During the latter part of the summer father filled a hay contract at Fort Leavenworth. I passed much of my time among the campers, and spent days and days in riding over the country with Mr. William Russell, who was engaged in the freighting business and who seemed to take a considerable interest in me. In this way I became acquainted with many wagon-masters, hunters and teamsters, and learned a great deal about the business of handling cattle and mules.

It was an excellent school for me, and I acquired a great deal of practical knowledge, which afterwards I found to be of invaluable service, for it was not long before I became employed by Majors & Russell, remaining with them in different capacities, for several years.

The winter of 1853-54 was spent by father at our little prairie home in cutting house logs and fence rails, which he intended to use on his farm, as soon as the bill for the opening of the territory for settlement should pass. This bill, which was called the "Enabling act of Kansas territory," was passed in April, 1854, and father immediately pre-empted the claim on which we were living.

The summer of that year was an exciting period in the history of the new territory. Thousands and thousands of people, seeking new homes, flocked thither, a large number of the emigrants coming over from adjoining states. The Missourians, some of them, would come laden with bottles of whisky, and after drinking the liquor would drive the bottles into the ground to mark their land claims, not waiting to put up any buildings.

The Missourians, mostly, were pro-slavery men, and held enthusiastic meetings at which they expressed their desire that Kansas should be a slave state and did not hesitate to declare their determination to make it so. Rively's store was the headquarters for these men, and there they held their meetings.

At first they thought father would coincide with them on account of his brother Elijah being a Missourian, but in this they were greatly mistaken. At one of their gatherings, when there were about one hundred of the reckless men present, my father, who happened also to be there, was called upon for a speech. After considerable urging, he mounted the box and began speaking, as nearly as I can recollect, as follows:

"Gentlemen and Fellow-citizens: You have called upon me for a speech, and I have accepted your invitation rather against my will, as my views may not accord with the sentiments of the rest of this assembly. My remarks, at this time, will be brief and to the point. The question before us to-day is, shall the territory of Kansas be a free or a slave state. The question of slavery in itself is a broad one, and one which I do not care at this time and place to discuss at length. I apprehend that your motive in calling upon me is to have me express my sentiments in regard to the introduction of slavery into Kansas. I shall gratify your wishes in that respect. I was one of the pioneers of the State of Iowa, and aided in its settlement when it was a territory, and helped to organize it as a state.

"Gentlemen, I voted that it should be a _white_ state--that negroes, whether free or slave, should never be allowed to locate within its limits; and, gentlemen, I say to you now, and I say it boldly, that I propose to exert all my power in making Kansas the same kind of a state as Iowa. I believe in letting slavery remain as it now exists, and I shall always oppose its further extension. These are my sentiments, gentlemen and let me tell you--"

He never finished this sentence, or his speech. His expressions were anything but acceptable to the rough-looking crowd, whose ire had been gradually rising to fever heat, and at this point they hooted and hissed him, and shouted, "You black abolitionist, shut up!" "Get down from that box!" "Kill him!" "Shoot him!" and so on. Father, however, maintained his position on the dry-goods box, notwithstanding the excitement and the numerous invitations to step down, until a hot-headed pro-slavery man, who was in the employ of my Uncle Elijah, crowded up and said: "Get off that box, you black abolitionist, or I'll pull you off."

Father paid but little attention to him, and attempted to resume his speech, intending doubtless to explain his position and endeavor to somewhat pacify the angry crowd. But the fellow jumped up on the box, and pulling out a huge bowie knife, stabbed father twice, who reeled and fell to the ground. The man sprang after him, and would have ended his life then and there, had not some of the better men in the crowd interfered in time to prevent him from carrying out his murderous intention.

The excitement was intense, and another assault would probably have been made on my father, had not Rively hurriedly carried him to his home. There was no doctor within any reasonable distance, and father at once requested that he be conveyed in the carriage to his brother Elijah's house in Weston. My mother and a driver accordingly went there with him, where his wounds were dressed. He remained in Weston several weeks before he was able to stir about again, but he never fully recovered from the wounds, which eventually proved the cause of his death.

My uncle of course at once discharged the ruffian from his employ. The man afterwards became a noted desperado, and was quite conspicuous in the Kansas war.

My father's indiscreet speech at Rively's brought upon our family all of the misfortunes and difficulties which from that time on befell us. As soon as he was able to attend to his business again, the Missourians began to harass him in every possible way, and kept it up with hardly a moment's cessation. Kickapoo City, as it was called, a small town that had sprung into existence seven miles up the river from Fort Leavenworth, became the hot-bed of the pro-slavery doctrine and the headquarters of its advocates. Here was really the beginning of the Kansas troubles. My father, who had shed the first blood in the cause of the freedom of Kansas, was notified, upon his return to his trading post, to leave the territory, and he was threatened with death by hanging or shooting, if he dared to remain.

One night a body of armed men, mounted on horses, rode up to our house and surrounded it. Knowing what they had come for, and seeing that there would be but little chance for him in an encounter with them, father determined to make his escape by a little stratagem. Hastily disguising himself in mother's bonnet and shawl, he boldly walked out of the house and proceeded towards the corn-field. The darkness proved a great protection, as the horsemen, between whom he passed, were unable to detect him in his disguise; supposing him to be a woman, they neither halted him nor followed him, and he passed safely on into the corn-field, where he concealed himself.

The horsemen soon dismounted and inquired for father; mother very truthfully told them that he was away. They were not satisfied with her statement, however, and they at once made a thorough search of the house. They raved and swore when they could not find him, and threatened him with death whenever they should catch him. I am sure if they had captured him that night, they would have killed him. They carried off nearly everything of value in the house and about the premises; then going to the pasture, they drove off all the horses; my pony Prince afterward succeeding in breaking away from them and came back home. Father lay secreted in the corn-field for three days, as there were men in the vicinity who were watching for him all the time; he finally made his escape, and reached Fort Leavenworth in safety, whither the pro-slavery men did not dare to follow him.

While he was staying at Fort Leavenworth, he heard that Jim Lane, Captain Cleveland and Captain Chandler were on their way from Indiana to Kansas with a body of Free State men, between two and three hundred strong. They were to cross the Missouri river near Doniphan, between Leavenworth and Nebraska City; their destination being Lawrence. Father determined to join them, and took passage on a steamboat which was going up the river. Having reached the place of crossing, he made himself known to the leaders of the party, by whom he was most cordially received.

The pro-slavery men, hearing of the approach of the Free State party, resolved to drive them out of the territory. The two parties met at Hickory Point, where a severe battle was fought, several being killed; the victory resulted in favor of the Free State men, who passed on to Lawrence without much further opposition. My father finally left them, and seeing that he could no longer live at home, went to Grasshopper Falls, thirty-five miles west of Leavenworth; there he began the erection of a saw-mill.

While he was thus engaged we learned from one of our hired workmen at home, that the pro-slavery men had laid another plan to kill him, and were on their way to Grasshopper Falls to carry out their intention. Mother at once started me off on Prince to warn father of the coming danger. When I had gone about seven miles I suddenly came upon a party of men, who were camped at the crossing of Stranger Creek. As I passed along I heard one of them, who recognized me, say, "That's the son of the old abolitionist we are after;" and the next moment I was commanded to halt.

Instead of stopping I instantly started my pony on a run, and on looking back I saw that I was being pursued by three or four of the party, who had mounted their horses, no doubt supposing that they could easily capture me. It was very fortunate that I had heard the remark about my being "the son of the abolitionist," for then I knew in an instant that they were _en route_ to Grasshopper Falls to murder my father. I at once saw the importance of my escaping and warning father in time. It was a matter of life or death to him. So I urged Prince to his utmost speed, feeling that upon him and myself depended a human life--a life that was dearer to me than that of any other man in the world. I led my pursuers a lively chase for four or five miles; finally, when they saw they could not catch me, they returned to their camp. I kept straight on to Grasshopper Falls, arriving there in ample time to inform him of the approach of his old enemies.

That same night father and I rode to Lawrence, which had become the headquarters of the Free State men. There he met Jim Lane and several other leading characters, who were then organizing what was known as the Lecompton Legislature.

Father was elected as a member of that body, and took an active part in organizing the first legislature of Kansas, under Governor Reeder, who, by the way, was a Free State man and a great friend of father's.

About this time agents were being sent to the East to induce emigrants to locate in Kansas, and father was sent as one of these agents to Ohio. After the legislature had been organized at Lawrence, he departed for Ohio and was absent several months.

A few days after he had gone, I started for home by the way of Fort Leavenworth, accompanied by two men, who were going to the fort on business. As we were crossing a stream called Little Stranger, we were fired upon by some unknown party; one of my companions, whose name has escaped my memory, was killed. The other man and myself put spurs to our horses and made a dash for our lives. We succeeded in making our escape, though a farewell shot or two was sent after us. At Fort Leavenworth I parted company with my companion, and reached home without any further adventure.

My mother and sisters, who had not heard of my father or myself since I had been sent to warn him of his danger, had become very anxious and uneasy about us, and were uncertain as to whether we were dead or alive. I received a warm welcome home, and as I entered the house, mother seemed to read from the expression of my countenance that father was safe; of course the very first question she asked was as to his whereabouts, and in reply I handed her a long letter from him which explained everything. Mother blessed me again and again for having saved his life.

While father was absent in Ohio, we were almost daily visited by some of the pro-slavery men, who helped themselves to anything they saw fit, and frequently compelled my mother and sisters to cook for them, and to otherwise submit to a great deal of bad treatment. Hardly a day passed without some of them inquiring "where the old man was," saying they would kill him on sight. Thus we passed the summer of 1854, remaining at our home notwithstanding the unpleasant surroundings, as mother had made up her mind not to be driven out of the country. My uncle and other friends advised her to leave Kansas and move to Missouri, because they did not consider our lives safe, as we lived so near the headquarters of the pro-slavery men, who had sworn vengeance upon father.

Nothing, however, could persuade mother to change her determination. She said that the pro-slavery men had taken everything except the land and the little home, and she proposed to remain there as long as she lived, happen what might. Our only friends in Salt Creek valley were two families; one named Lawrence, the other Hathaway, and the peaceable Indians, who occasionally visited us. My uncle, living in Missouri and being somewhat in fear of the pro-slavery men, could not assist us much, beyond expressing his sympathy and sending us provisions.

In the winter of 1854-55 father returned from Ohio, but as soon as his old enemies learned that he was with us, they again compelled him to leave. He proceeded to Lawrence, and there spent the winter in attending the Lecompton Legislature. The remainder of the year he passed mostly at Grasshopper Falls, where he completed his saw-mill. He occasionally visited home under cover of the night, and in the most secret manner; virtually carrying his life in his hand.

In the spring of this year (1855) a pro-slavery party came to our house to search for father; not finding him, they departed, taking with them my pony, Prince. I shall never forget the man who stole that pony. He afterwards rose from the low level of a horse thief to the high dignity of a justice of the peace, and I think still lives at Kickapoo. The loss of my faithful pony nearly broke my heart and bankrupted me in business, as I had nothing to ride.

One day, soon afterwards, I met my old friend, Mr. Russell, to whom I related all my troubles, and his generous heart was touched by my story. "Billy, my boy," said he, "cheer up, and come to Leavenworth, and I'll employ you. I'll give you twenty-five dollars a month to herd cattle."

I accepted the offer, and heartily thanking him, hurried home to obtain mother's consent. She refused to let me go, and all my pleading was in vain. Young as I was--being then only in my tenth year, my ideas and knowledge of the world, however, being far in advance of my age--I determined to run away from home. Mr. Russell's offer of twenty-five dollars a month was a temptation which I could not resist. The remuneration for my services seemed very large to me, and I accordingly stole away and walked to Leavenworth.

Mr. Badger, one of Mr. Russell's superintendents, immediately sent me out, mounted on a little gray mule, to herd cattle. I worked at this for two months, and then came into Leavenworth. I had not been home during all this time, but mother had learned from Mr. Russell where I was, and she no longer felt uneasy, as he had advised her to let me remain in his employ. He assured her that I was all right, and said that when the herd came in he would allow me to make a visit home.

Upon my arrival in Leavenworth with the herd of cattle, Mr. Russell instructed his book-keeper, Mr. Byers, to pay me my wages, amounting to fifty dollars. Byers gave me the sum all in half-dollar pieces. I put the bright silver coins into a sack, which I tied to my mule, and started home, thinking myself a _millionaire_. This money I gave to mother, who had already forgiven me for running away.

Thus began my service for the firm of Russell & Majors, afterwards Russell, Majors & Waddell, with whom I spent seven years of my life in different capacities--such as cavallard-driver, wagon-master, pony express rider and driver. I continued to work for Mr. Russell during the rest of the summer of 1855, and in the winter of 1855-56 I attended school.

Father, who still continued to secretly visit home, was anxious to have his children receive as much of an education as possible, under the adverse circumstances surrounding us, and he employed a teacher, Miss Jennie Lyons, to come to our house and teach. My mother was well educated--more so than my father--and it used to worry her a great deal because her children could not receive better educational advantages. However, the little school at home got along exceedingly well, and we all made rapid advances in our studies, as Miss Lyons was an excellent teacher. She afterwards married a gentleman named Hook, who became the first mayor of Cheyenne, where she now lives.

The Kansas troubles reached their highest pitch in the spring of 1856, and our family continued to be harassed as much as ever by our old enemies. I cannot now recollect one-half of the serious difficulties that we had to encounter; but I very distinctly remember one incident well worth relating. I came home one night on a visit from Leavenworth, being accompanied by a fellow-herder--a young man. During the night we heard a noise outside of the house, and soon the dogs began barking loudly. We looked out to ascertain the cause of the disturbance, and saw that the house was surrounded by a party of men. Mother had become accustomed to such occurrences, and on this occasion she seemed to be master of the situation from the start. Opening a window, she coolly sang out, in a firm tone of voice: "Who are you? What do you want here?"

"We are after that old abolition husband of yours," was the answer from one of the crowd.

"He is not in this house, and has not been here for a long time," said my mother.

"That's a lie! We know he is in the house, and we are bound to have him," said the spokesman of the party.

I afterwards learned they had mistaken the herder, who had ridden home with me, for my father for whom they had been watching.

"My husband is not at home," emphatically repeated my heroic mother--for if there ever was a heroine she certainly was one--"but the house is full of armed men," continued she, "and I'll give you just two minutes to get out of the yard; if you are not out by the end of that time I shall order them to fire on you."

She withdrew from the window for a few moments and hurriedly instructed the herder to call aloud certain names--any that he might think of--just as if the house was full of men to whom he was giving orders. He followed her directions to the very letter. He could not have done it any better had he rehearsed the act a dozen times.

The party outside heard him, as it was intended they should, and they supposed that my mother really had quite a force at her command. While this little by play was being enacted, she stepped to the open window again and said:

"John Green, you and your friends had better go away or the men will surely fire on you."

At this, point the herder, myself and my sisters commenced stamping on the floor in imitation of a squad of soldiers, and the herder issued his orders in a loud voice to his imaginary troops, who were apparently approaching the window preparatory to firing a volley at the enemy. This little stratagem proved eminently successful. The cowardly villains began retreating, and then my mother fired an old gun into the air which greatly accelerated their speed, causing them to break and run. They soon disappeared from view in the darkness.

The next morning we accidentally discovered that they had intended to blow up the house. Upon going into the cellar which had been left open on one side, we found two kegs of powder together with a fuse secreted there. It only required a lighted match to have sent us into eternity. My mother's presence of mind, which had never yet deserted her in any trying situation, had saved our lives.

Shortly after this affair, I came home again on a visit and found father there sick with fever, and confined to his bed. One day my old enemy rode up to the house on my pony Prince, which he had stolen from me.

"What is your business here to-day?" asked mother.

"I am looking for the old man," he replied. "I am going to search the house, and if I find him I am going to kill him. Here, you girls," said he, addressing my sisters, "get me some dinner, and get it quick, too, for I am as hungry as a wolf."

"Very well; pray be seated, and we'll get you something to eat," said one of my sisters, without exhibiting the least sign of fear.

He sat down, and while they were preparing a dinner for him, he took out a big knife and sharpened it on a whetstone, repeating his threat of searching the house and killing my father.

I had witnessed the whole proceeding, and heard the threats, and I determined that the man should never go up stairs where father was lying in bed, unable to rise. Taking a double-barreled pistol which I had recently bought, I went to the head of the stairs, cocked the weapon, and waited for the ruffian to come up, determined, that the moment he set foot on the steps I would kill him. I was relieved, however, from the stern necessity, as he did not make his appearance.

The brute was considerably intoxicated when he came to the house, and the longer he sat still the more his brain became muddled with liquor, and he actually forgot what he had come there for. After he had eaten his dinner, he mounted his horse and rode off, and it was a fortunate thing for him that he did.

Father soon recovered and returned to Grasshopper Falls, while I resumed my cattle herding.