Item #7793 [Autograph letter, signed, touching on Indian raids in Kansas in the summer of 1885.]. Thomas Morrison.
[Autograph letter, signed, touching on Indian raids in Kansas in the summer of 1885.]

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[Autograph letter, signed, touching on Indian raids in Kansas in the summer of 1885.]

Coldwater, Kansas, 13 July 1885. Bifolium, 7.8” x 5”, 3 pp. in ink. Original envelope included. CONDITION: Very good, one small puncture to pp. 1-2 but no losses to the text.

A letter by a Kansas settler and militia member who distinguishes truth from falsehood in light of reports in eastern newspapers of Indian raids in Kansas. 

Morrison belonged to the Coldwater Militia, Company A, which was formed in Coldwater, Kansas to defend against a possible attack by hostile Cheyennes. As he describes here, the Militia had sent east for 300 Winchesters to protect themselves, in response to news of Indian raids to the south. Addressed to one Annie Carter of Blythedale, Harrison County, Missouri, the letter reads in full:

[I] Will endeavor to [?] to write you [a] few lines. It seems as though I can’t get to writing again. Have felt so drowsy since [I] came back that I could not write anything only business letters but am getting over my sleepiness now and feel like myself again. I would like to have seen you before I left but you were away from home. Had a pretty good time [on] the Fourth [of July]. Worked all day too but [it] was funny to see the boys all on a spree. I belong to Company A to defend ourselves against the Indians. We have lots of fun out of the organization. None of us expects any danger if we did none of us would want to join. Have sent for 300 Winchester rifles. I guess the people in the east are worse scared than we are. We don’t know anything about the Indian outbreaks until we got the papers from the east. The Kansas City Lines hase [sic] a great description of the destruction of lives in Comanche County and masacre of people in Nescatunga [Kansas] and also at Coldwater was surrounded by Indians. Tis all a falsehood for there isn’t an Indian in one hundred & fifty miles of here. Tis true the Indians are on the war path again but they will not prob[ab]ly come up here because the country is too thickly settled and it is impossible for them to take Coldwater. Will have ro[a]sting[?] ears [of corn] pretty on my claim[?]. When I got here from MO. the corn was as high as my waist. Please write soon. Love as ever, Thos. Morrison. 

In The Cowman’s Southwest, Being the Reminiscences of Oliver Nelson, Nelson writes that in the “summer of 1885, an Indian scare caused settlers in Comanche and Clark counties, southwestern Kansas, to organize militia companies, appeal to the governor for troops and arms, and in some cases stampede toward Topeka [KS].” On July 4th, 1885, The Western Star of Coldwater, Kansas provided an account of“the Indian scare” and revealed its apparent origin:

Our city was thrown into somewhat of a flurry Tuesday afternoon when it was reported that the Cheyenne Indians had made an outbreak and were within a few miles of us on the south. Most of our citizens treated it as a mere hoax which it proved to be. But farther south they treated the rumor somewhat more seriously and several of the citizens banded themselves together and were specially preparing to make a defense in case of an onslaught from the red devils. In ‘78 [1878] was the last time they broke out of their reservations in this territory when they went clear through this state committing all manner of depredations to property and murdering people promiscuously… 

The parties that brought fence posts from the territory Thursday reported that they saw Indians on the ‘war path’ coming in this direction, which created some excitement in this vicinity, as the story was magnified the more it was told. The same fence post men met one of their friends as they were leaving town, going after another load of posts, and asked them if they saw any Indians in the territory. They answered that they had not seen an Indian but they had made up a big story and told here and along the line, so as to keep other men from going into the territory after the posts. Just such reports have been circulated by other parties without any foundation of truth for the purpose of creating a scare. It is our honest opinion that this county is in more danger of being blown away by a cyclone than it is of being attacks by Indians.

REFERENCES: Debo, Angie, editor. The Cowman’s Southwest, Being the Reminiscences of Oliver Nelson, Freighter, Camp Cook, Frontiersman in Kansas, Indian Territory, Texas and 1878–1893 (Glendale, CA: The Arthur Clark Co., 1953), pp. 245–250.

Item #7793

Price: $675.00

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