Civil War and Quantrill

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In response to the "War Between the States," that began in 1861, the Kansas State Journal (Lawrence), wrote in April 25, 1861, that Julius Fischer organized Company “M,” “a rousing company, about 80 in number” mainly from Eudora’s farming community.”

However, Eudorans appeared to have served in several companies. Henry Crumrine, for example, served as a lieutenant in Company E, 12th Kansas Infantry. Also in this troop were Captain A. Jackson Jennings, Samuel Edmonds, Henry Basemann, Henry Edmonds, James Hutson, William Cook, Joshua Clayton, Edward Warren, Robert Ironsides, Newton Henshaw, Jesse Liennlen, August Ziessuis [Ziesenis], William Cole, Julius Clark [died of typhoid fever in Ft. Smith), Ralph Cook, Abel Cook, James Haynes, John Justice [discharged for disability], Frank Lavo, Wilmer Morse, John Schiesswohl, Alonzo Summer, Christian Schleifer [discharged for disability], George Lienalien, and Samuel Weaver. John Buck, a Eudora resident from 1857 to his death in 1889, for some reason served as a private in the 24th Illinois regiment.

From Eudora Township, Robert VanDyne’s search through the 1865 state census for Union soldiers showed: John Stevens, 2nd KS H; William Johnson, 16th KS A; Landaline Vett [Vitt], 39th IL B; Hamond Gabriel, 3rd KS K; John Haucett, 2nd KS K; Jonas Lampson, 7th OH I; James Joy, 15th KS L; George Smith, 3rd WS E; Theron Conger; 15th KS L, James Wilstorf [Willsdorf], 7th MS B; James West, 5th KS I; Charles Harris, 16th KS K; Charles Roberts, 1st KS G; William Shields, 12th KS B; Henry Basemann [different from person with same name in Company E], 12th KS B; Francis Guntz, 39th IL K; Emil Guntz, 39th IL K; Robert Fogle, 15th KS L; Henry Myers, 15th KS L; William Adams, 1st KS Colored K; William Ceevy, 6th MI C; George Cowart, 7th KS; Isaac Perkins, 15th KS D; Henry Lander, 12th h KS B; Thomas Gideon, 9th KS B; John Stevens, 12th KS B; Lewis Williams, 53rd OH C; Benjamin Davis, 6th KS B; George Stotler, 3rd WS H; Newton Henshaw, 12th KS B; Ira Chase, 12th KS H; Cilin Ironsides, 5th KS M; and Joseph Simpson, 1st KS Colored.

In a March 20, 1924 Eudora Weekly News item, Will Stadler wrote about his relative, Henry Basemann Jr.: “. . .one of the first to enlist in the Civil War and one of Eudora’s oldest citizens now living. Henry enlisted August 30th, 1862, at a Camp Meeting held on the Little Wakarusa, about three miles southwest of Eudora. It was on a Sunday about noon time. On Monday following, his father enlisted followed by August Ziesenis, Frank Lavo, John Schieswald, and Christian Schleifer, and from Hesper, J. R. Cook, E. Cook, Ed Warren, New Henshaw, Wm. Cole, Wm. Bentley, Wm Cook, and Willis Cook, Jos. Haynes, and Capt. A. J. Jennings, who were part of the Co. E 12th Kansas. During their military career they were called ‘JayHawkers.’ Henry served 13 months, then was assigned to the drum corps that had a total of 10 drummers. Other boys of Eudora who were chums of Henry who saw service in another regiment—Robert Vogl, Henry Meyers, and Henry Abels.”

Not all Eudorans served in the Union forces. Born in Portsmouth, Ohio, Theophilius Cole came to Kansas in 1852 with his parents, Jesse Cole and Harriet (Barret). He was “called out” and at the Little Blue with the Confederate forces under Sterling Price. When he returned, he bought a farm in Eudora Township Section 31, according to William Cutler's History of the State of Kansas.

Others fought in the war, then moved to Eudora such as Jacob Dolisi, born in Wellsweller, France, who joined the Union army in 1864 and fought a year before coming to Kansas; William Holmes, a Union corporal in Company B 24th Indiana Volunteer Infantry for four years fought at Shiloh, Vicksburg, and other southern sites; James Kendall who enlisted August 4, 1862 in the 99th Indiana Regiment, Company G and served two years and 11 months and also was in William Sherman's March to the sea as was Indiana transplant Eli Westheffer, Company H, 87th Indiana Infantry 14th Army Corps, who was severely wounded Battle of Chickamauga; or Emanuel M. Snyder, born in Switzerland, who left his native home in 1851 to live in Ohio, served in the military from February 10 through July 10, 1865, as a private in "D" Company, 10th Regiment of the Kansas Infantry, and lived in Eudora until 1873, according to Ancestors of Thomas Edward Snyder by Tom E. & Dianna L. Snyder, Edmond, Oklahoma. “Dan” Scannell served in Company C, 156th regiment, in the Illinois Volunteers, too, and William McCabria served in the Union Army. David White served in three different states: He enlisted as a private in Company C, 12 regiment, Michigan Infantry and later served in Mississippi and Indiana companies. When James Skidmore, who enlisted at age 19 in the 39th Ohio Infantry, Company E, died at age 83 in 1927 at his home on Church Street, he was the last Civil War veteran in the Eudora area.

Events leading up to the Civil War and the ensuing devastation extended past the battlefield. The Missouri-Kansas border, in particular, became the site of plunder, rampage, and death when guerrilla bands staged surprise attacks. A 1910 Lawrence Journal World account told of one skirmish near Eudora:

“Mr. Parsons and Judge [Oscar] Richards were both concerned in the destruction of Fort Titus near Eudora which stood on what is now the Leamer farm. It was attacked by a party of abolitionist men, the little garrison was protected by the fort and fell only because of the superior force of the pro-slavery men.”

Border warfare reached a high point in Douglas County when William Quantrill and his followers pillaged Lawrence in 1863.

Quantrill’s Sweep Past Eudora. William Quantrill, the leader of a Missouri Confederate guerilla troop, commandeered murdering raids on farmers and town residents who favored the Union after the outbreak of the Civil War. Accused of several crimes, he had lived in Lawrence, a pro-Union bastion, during the 1850s.

On August 21, Quantrill’s raiders burned most of the Lawrence and killed about 150 Local citizens had been readying for this event for months. The Lawrence Republican [see Nov. 15, 1862 Smoky Hill and Republican Union] wrote: "There was quite an excitement in town on last Sunday night, owing to a rumor which had got afloat that Quantrill was to pay us a vist at that time. Capt. Swift's Company turned out, and were under arms a good portion of the night. A strong guard is stationed around the town, every night; and if Quantrill does make us a visit, he will be apt to get a warm reception. Arms have been sent to Franklin, for a company there: and there are two companies at Eudora, one of them cavalry, so that, if the noted guerilla ventures too far into the interior, he may find it hard work to get back into Missouri."

The July 19, 1903 Kansas City Star surmised Quantrill came to Eudora to plan his rapid-fire exit from Lawrence.

“He wanted to learn the conditions which would confront him should he attempt to retire throughout the village after his foul work had been completed a few weeks later in Lawrence . The bridge, which formed the connecting link between the north and south parts of the settlement, was of course the main object of his interest. With it secure, he could have doubled back to the Missouri line without encountering a single bluecoat. The bridge was a wooden affair, easily destroyed and backed by the fierce appearing block­house, might have caused desperadoes to become entrapped between the deep mire of the Wakarusa, and the quicksand of the Kaw.”

The reporter said Quantrill probably didn’t intend to attack Eudora with its block­house of heavy, square-hewed logs at the town approach [the southeast corner of Eighth and Main streets]. Julius Fischer commandeered “the fort,” which had portholes on each side for its cannon and sharpshooters. Supposedly large enough for the whole town to fit inside, it may have “deterred Quantrill from attempting to sack the village during some of the raids, for word was received several times that he intended to wipe out the Dutch some day.”

The story goes that Quantrill and two companions came to Eudora about 11 o’clock one morning. They stopped at a saloon run by Henry Basemann, a German, on the north side of the Wakarusa. The saloon had two sections: a bar area and card room. Quantrill ordered drinks and invited the bartender to drink with him. When Quantrill spoke, noise in the card room stopped. Three black men playing cards left suddenly, their cards half dealt. “Eudora at that time had its quota of run-away Negroes and many of them knew the guerrilla at sight, having escaped from that section of the state where he maintained his headquarters.”

In no time, word spread that Quantrill finally was in the immediate area. Citizens gathered in city hall to discuss what to do. Death was a popular suggestion. Captain Julius Fischer sent Daniel Kraus, the town marshal, to find the black card players who started the rumors with the request to positively identify Quantrill.

“As a general rule, Negroes could be seen on the streets or around their cabins at all hours of the day, but on this occasion they were conspicuous by their absence. When finally they found someone in a cabin, it was an ‘old granny so badly crippled with rheumatism that she was unable to walk.’ She said, “for de lo’ds sake, Massa Kraus, him and Mummy done took to de bresh. Done left me here by lone self and Massa Quantrill gwine to kill all de po’ niggers, too.’”

The elderly black woman said that only she and a woman with a sick baby were left. Kraus went to the home of the other woman and gave her a silver dollar to make a purchase. She was to signal whether Quantrill, who had left the saloon for a hotel, was in the lobby. The citizens waited. The woman made her purchase, but refused to signal. (She later said that seeing Quantrill terrified her so much that she only thought of escape.)

The suspected Quantrill and his two companions walked by the waiting Kraus and mounted their horses tied at the saloon. They said, supposedly to the bartender, “This is the day that Bill Quantrill fooled the damned Dutch,” an obviously debatable statement.

Another account tells of a possible Quantrill stop at the Basemann inn. In The Border and the Buffalo 1938 publication, John Cook, who often visited Eudora where his brother was a Hesper schoolteacher, said he was at the Basemann inn talking with Henry Baseman Jr. when Quantrill rode in, hitched his horse, and went inside. Cook said he and others suspected the man wearing two revolvers was Quantrill and confirmed their suspicions later. After reading about the Lawrence raid, Basemann Jr. said he wished that they would have killed Quantrill on site to prevent the butchery, Cook wrote.

The day before the Lawrence “massacre,” Quantrill and hundreds of other bushwhackers entered Kansas through the town of Aubrey moving west in the night through Squireseville, Spring Hill, and Gardner, looking for men on their “death list” and locals to serve as temporary guides.

As they headed to Hesper, William H. Gregg’s 1906 memoir of his service under Quantrill, "A Little Dab of History Without Embellishment," recalled, “We had now arrived at a point where none of our men knew the country, hence it became necessary to procure a guide.” They, according to L. C . Schulz’s 1996 Quantrill’s War, tried the house of Mr. Mysee, formerly of Missouri, located at the intersection of the Lawrence-Olathe Road and the Gardner-Desoto Road, stated Bloody Dawn author Thomas Goodrich. As Mysee was blind and not recognized as being affiliated with the Union, they let him return to sleep. Next they found two Union soldiers on leave. One escaped with a bullet in the wrist, the other surrendered and was shot to death.

Goodrich wrote the two soldiers had spent the night at the home of fellow soldier William Bentley who lived by Captain’s Creek, but was away in the army. (The Kansas City Star article wrote that Quantrill’s forces shot and killed two Union soldiers returning to their company in Kansas City. A third soldier escaped.)

Bromelsick escapes. Their next stop was at the Hesper home of August Bromelsick (also spelled Broemmelsieck), 55, and his family who had moved to the Kansas Territory from Missouri in the spring of 1860. ( August stayed only five years, sold his original 160 acres plus another 40 acres for twice as much as he paid for them, then moved his family to Lawrence in 1865, according to Broemmelsieck family history.

The Portrait and Biographical Record of Leavenworth, Douglas, and Franklin Counties, Kansas published by the Chapman Publishing Company in 1899 stated:

“Coming on to the Bromelsick farm, they arrived there about eleven o'clock . The family were all asleep, but were awakened by the command to surround the house. The father [August] hastened to the cellar to hide, knowing that his life was in danger. Someone knocked on the door with the butt end of a gun. The mother answered the knock and tried to convince the raiders that there were no men on the place, but they searched and soon found the father and the hired man [Mr. Klingenberg]. The latter, who was the first one caught, was taken outside, but being strong, knocked his two captors down and escaped to the cornfield. When they found Mr. Bromelsick (August), they made him dress, and as he was tying his shoes, the wind blew the light out. The darkness saved his life. He slipped away, escaped through the back door and fled to the field. As the raiders searched through the house, they found the eleven-year-old son, [William] whom they jerked out of bed, to see if he was large enough to kill, but finding him so small, left him alone. Meantime the father had fled to a neighbor, whom he endeavored to persuade to hasten to Lawrence with the alarm, he himself being too old to undertake the trip; but the neighbor was thoroughly frightened and feared to venture out. The raiders left, carrying with them nothing but a double-barreled shotgun. About daylight, Mr. Bromelsick and his hired man ventured back to the house, and it was not until they arrived that the family were sure they had not been killed in the night."

Death of Joseph Stone. Heading west from Hesper, the bushwhackers arrived at Keystone Corner (the junction of County Highway 1061 and N. 1100 Road) at about 2 a.m. They wanted to burn a ranch, wrote James Hoy in his 1979 article, “ A Note on Quantrill’s Sack of Lawrence,” but feared the smoke might alert Lawrence. Bypassing arson, they searched for guides and enemies. Half went to the Stone family household; the others went to Captain A. Jackson Jennings’ home across the road. Whether they specifically looked for Joseph Stone, who had helped arrest guerrilla leader George Todd in Kansas City near the beginning of the Civil War, or they recognized him, their arrival for Stone meant death.

Said the Kansas City Star: “After a short parley, Stone saw the futility of resistance and opened the door. A number of ruffians at once crowded into the room, and as the lamplight fell upon Stone’s face they recognized him as the man they sought and the despairing man was marched away, while their captors laughed derisively at the weeping, pleading woman who witnessed their departure.” During the taunting, Stone’s son escaped out the back door.”

In William Elsey Connelley’s 1910 account, Todd wanted to shoot Stone, but Quantrill said the shots might alert people in town. Todd then beat Stone to death with an old musket. Quantrill’s War relates that Todd led Stone a quarter-mile from the house, and sent someone to get a rope to hang Stone. Unable to find a rope, the bush­whacker brought back the musket, which Todd then used to club Stone to death. Another version states that Stone was led half-mile north from his house and shot.

The Brecheisen family history tells a different tale. In this version, Peter Brecheisen and his son, Peter Jr. on their way to Lawrence from Clearfield with a wagon of vegetables and dairy products, rested in Eudora the night before the raid. At dawn, a band of men on horses rode by and were commanded by their leader to not shoot the resting Brecheisens. Starting off to Lawrence the next morning, the Brecheisens saw smoke and heard explosions. A man rode by and said Quantrill was killing everyone and to get off the road. They drove into some timber, saw men stop at a house, then ride quickly away as a women sobbed. The house was that of a Mrs. Stone who said the men shot her husband after he told them the way to Lawrence. (The Brecheisens rode home with their unsold produce and hid in a cornfield for three days with their family, afraid Quantrill would return. Peter, Sr. later went to Lawrence to help bury the dead.)

 Kidnap of Jacob Rote. All versions of the Stone story have Jacob Rote, a young German, staying the night at the Stone house, forced into guiding Quantrill to Lawrence . About his brother Jacob, Louis Rote said that Jacob had been taken from his home on Captain’s Creek ─ another discrepancy ─ and was made to ride with Quantrill to Lawrence (along the Little Wakarusa, Connelly wrote). Louis Rote was reported to have said:

“He was but a boy of sixteen years, and he talked freely with the raiders. When passing between the banks of the Big Wakarusa on the left and Horseshoe Lake on the right, the man Jake was riding behind and turned to him and said, in a very stern voice: ‘Young man, do you know who you are riding with?’ Jake replied: ‘No, and I don’t care, so long as you treat me well.’ Then the ruffian said: ‘This is Marmaduke’s command and Quantrill is in the lead.’ Jake was quiet after that. But he was forced to go into Lawrence with the guerrillas and hold their horses while they robbed, burned, and murdered. When they were ready to leave Lawrence they compelled Jake to put on a new suit of clothes. They gave him a horse and told him to go home.”

The booklet The Lawrence Massacre by a Band of Missouri Ruffians under Quantrell, August 21, 1863, 150 Men Killed Eighty Women Made Widows and 250 Children Orphans, (Broughton Publisher, Lawrence, Kansas) had a slightly different spin: “They took a little boy from a house on Captain's Creek, near by, and compelled him to guide them into Lawrence. They kept the boy during their work in Lawrence, and then Quantrell dressed him in a new suit of clothes, gave him a horse, and sent him home.”

Search for Jennings. At Keystone Corner, the other bunch of ruffians failed to find “Captain” Jennings, commander of the Company E, 12th Kansas infantry, who later moved to Lawrence. Some say Jennings hid in the basement; others say he was on duty at Forth Smith, Arkansas. Wherever, he was, his wife, Rosa, was the one who talked with the men pretending to be federal troops. One account wrote that when asked about her horses, she said her horses were out on the open prairie. Then the bushwhackers left. Another version is that when asked for a dipper to draw water from the well to quench their thirst, Rosa Jennings handed the bushwhackers the dipper through the window, suspecting that they used the water request as an excuse to look around her home.

Efforts to alert Lawrence. In Sears’ account, Rosa Jennings, suspicious of the men’s uniforms and of the shots she heard from the Stone home, sent Henry Thompson, the family’s black farmhand, age 18, to the William Guest home. In Sears’ same account, he confusingly writes that the same Rosa, her children, and servant girl walked half a mile to neighbor William Guest to alert others about the guerrillas. Thompson, in this account, worked for Guest.

Both stories state that Guest did not believe Jennings and refused to warn others of the guerrillas. They also both maintain that Henry Thompson, refused a horse by Guest, walked to Lawrence. (Pollard has Thompson meet Frederick Pilla, a Eudora merchant, on way to Eudora.)

Frederick Pilla, on his way to his Eudora home from officiating at a marriage south of town in a letter, wrote: “I started home at about daybreak the next morning on horseback before sun up. I heard that Quantrill was on the way to Eudora. I could not believe in it, the same time, thinking that it could be possible I went home fast on the horse. On coming home I found every body in bed yet. This was at least an hour before Quantrill got in Lawrence . . . My neighbors. . .none would believe it, and if Quantrill could have come in here an hour after I got home, he could have tooked Eudora in the same surprise as he did Lawrence .”

Some Eudora citizens believed Pilla and Thompson. Three men left to warn Lawrence , according to Sears and Connelly. Marshal Daniel Kraus wasn’t even out of Eudora when his horse threw him. He regained consciousness a while later, but was badly bruised, his left arm useless (and would be to the end of his life). The two other riders, who assumed Kraus would catch up with them, galloped ahead. “Crow,” a black Kentucky mare, was said to have stumbled and fell on its rider, Jerry Reel, a blacksmith. Casper Marfelius, one of Eudora’s first settlers, sought assistance from a nearby farmhouse for Reel, who died from his injuries the next day. Thus, no riders from Eudora made it to Lawrence.

Thomas Ewing Jr., a Brigadier-General, wrote a letter dated August 31, 1863 , from Kansas City, Missouri, that may verify the story. In the letter, he wrote: “Mr. J. Reed, living in the Hesper neighborhood, near Eudora, started ahead of Quantrill from that place to carry the warning to Lawrence, but, while riding at full speed, his horse fell and was killed, and he himself so injured that he died next day.”

The 1983 booklet William Clarke Quantrill: The Man Who Burned Lawrence by Loren Litteer also relates the ill-fated warning attempt: “Near Captain’s Creek one unknown daring Kansan made a desperate effort to give the alarm to Lawrence, but his galloping horse fell, and he was killed.

The 1903 Kansas City Star article, too, told of a death and gleaned it from Rev. Richard Cordley’s History of Lawrence:

“Somewhere along here Keystone [directly west of Hesper], a man whose name should be preserved, attempted to give warning to the doomed town. . .He had proceeded but a few miles, however, when his horse stumbled into the darkness and fell forward and killed himself. The man could do no other than abandon his heroic purpose and return home afoot.”

History Missed Story of Her Ride to Lawrence by Eric Goff says someone actually did get to Lawrence before the raiders. Sarah Cook, across the river from Linwood, was the one who got through, according to her daughter, Emma (Cook) Meinke. Her father and brother gone in the 12th Kansas Infantry, Sarah heard horses outside her door a little past 11 p.m., and then the request of a heavily bearded man to feed him and 40 others. He also wanted to know the shortest way to Lawrence. When Jimmy Dawson, 16, who was helping with the harvest on the 160-acre farm, came to the door, the men forced him to come with them. Sarah told Dawson to take the men the long way to Lawrence by Bluejacket Ford, while she crossed the river to the north bank. When she got to Lawrence in the dark, she raced from house to house telling of their approach. Some believed her, others didn’t.

Years later, Emilie Thoren, Eudora, told grand-daughter Violet (Gerstenberger) Fleming, that the raiders’ horses could be heard in Eudora as they thundered by. Sarah (Neis) Abel said her grandfather was wrapped in a carpet and hidden in orchard; children on the Neis farm, three-fourths mile north of Eudora and three miles east, hid in apple trees.

After Quantrill and his raiders burnt Lawrence and killed over 150 men within hours, Pilla wrote: “The next day I went myself to Lawrence where I was well acquainted. I found the best part of the City burned down. . . .The dead bodies laying around in all directions. Many with whom I was well acquainted. This was the most awful. . . .The wounds in the dead bodies were full of flies and worms. And the corpses swollen up so that the clothes busted and stinking inexplainable. I saw many burned men burned almost to coals. The loss of goods of kinds is immense. Many business men is totally ruined. Amongst the killed are about 80 Germans.”

Those who lived in the area feared Quantrill would raid their homes on his way out of Lawrence. Pilla told of the town’s reaction: “Soon after that you could see the smoke coming up in the direction of Lawrence. . . so we came in town and in time made ourselves as quick as possible ready to receive the devils if they could come back to Eudora. . .then everyone who could scare up a horse went as good as they could be got in pursuit of Quantrill who with all of his men had taken fresh horses in Lawrence.”

Quantrill rode south toward Ottawa , then headed east trying to reach Paola before thousands of Union soldiers and Kansas militiamen, including August Ziesenis of Eudora (who found and kept an old musket from the raid), caught up with the raiders.

A month after the pillaging of Lawrence, Pilla wrote: “Last night our volunteer militia company here received arms, of muskets but pretty good ones. Everything is all quiet here now for more troops stationed all around here.”

Copyright 2015. Cindy Higgins. Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw: A History of Eudora, Kansas. Eudora, KS: Author. [A similiar, less lengthy version of Quantrill's brush with Eudora appeared in Quantrill's Raid and Eudora, a booklet I wrote and printed for sale by the Eudora Area Historical Society in 1997.]