John Whitfield – Indian Agent and Congressman

John Wilkins Whitfield was an Indian Agent and the first delegate to Congress from the Territory of Kansas.

Whitfield was born in Franklin, Tennessee, on March 11, 1818. He went to Missouri in 1853 and soon became an Indian agent in Kansas, settling in Tecumseh. He began to take an active part in local politics and was elected a representative to Congress on November 29, 1854, a position he held until 1856. Whitfield took an active part in the stirring border warfare carried on between the pro-slavery and Free-State men. He had been a pro-slavery man in politics from the time he came to Kansas and was elected by that party.

He moved to Texas before Civil War, and when that broke out, he organized the Lavaca County Company. He also organized as 27th Texas Cavalry Regiment, commonly called “Whitfield’s Legion,” in  April 1862. He was wounded in battle at Luka, Mississippi, in 1862, and in 1863, he led the 4th Battalion Texas Cavalry at Pea Ridge, Arkansas. He was made brigadier-general in 1863 but left command due to ill health that fall. He then returned to Texas.

He died in Halletsville, Texas, on October 27, 1879.

© Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated June 2021.

Also See:

Historic People of Kansas

Kansas History

Kansas Time Line

Territorial Kansas and the Struggle for Statehood