History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Linn County, Kansas

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Linn County, Kansas


Towns & Places

Extinct Towns

Museums & Historic Sites

Linn County Border Troubles

Price's Raid and the Battles of Linn County



Linn County, Kansas Map, 1899

Linn County map, 1899.




Situated in southeast Kansas, right next to the Missouri state line, Linn County was one of the original 33 counties created by the first territorial legislature. It was named in honor of Lewis F. Linn, a United States senator from Missouri. The gentle rolling hills, rich bottom land, plentiful hunting, streams and timber would soon be lure hundreds of pioneers, some in search of  a new life, but others who would come primarily to try to make Kansas slave state and soon become enmeshed in the bloody Kansas-Missouri Border War.


Marais des Cygnes River west of La Cygne, KansasThe first white man to visit the area that would become Linn County was probably Claude Charles Dutisne in his expedition of 1719. The first white men to remain for any time were Girard and Chouteau, who in 1834, established a trading post on the north branch of the Marais des Cygnes River in what would become Potosi Township. In 1839 the Catholic Church established a mission among the Potawatomie Indians near the site of where the town of Centerville would be settled. It was later moved to St. Marys, Kansas in 1847.


It is believed that the French came up from Louisiana and encouraged the Indians to mine lead on Mine Creek, from which it derived its name; but, the extent of this industry is speculative and it was quickly  abandoned by the French as unprofitable. It was the French who named the Marais des Cygnes River from the many swans on the swamps along the river and so, called it the "Marsh of Swans."


As soon as it became apparent that the territory west of Missouri would be thrown open to white settlement many squatters located claims along the wooded streams of Linn County, mostly by pro-slavery men from Missouri, who cared little for progress and desired only to preserve the institutions to which they were accustomed. Some of these early settlers were James Osborne and Adam Pore, who in January, 1854 took claims at the head of Sugar Creek, near the present-day town of Mound City. D.W. Cannon, John Brown and William H. Murray, all pro-slavery men, and William Park, James Osborne and James Montgomery Free-State men, came in the same year. Trouble soon arose between the Free-State and pro-slavery parties, as it was impossible for men of such different political beliefs to live together in harmony. The first convention, and one of the first causes of trouble, was held at Sugar Mound on February 20, 1855. It was called by James Fox, a pro-slavery leader, for the purpose of nominating a candidate for the territorial legislature.  


James MontgomeryFew of the Free-State settlers were notified of the convention, butFree-State man, James Montgomery, made sure that more free-soilers were notified. A second convention was therefore held, but the Free-State men were defeated at both the convention and at the election held on March 30th.


Linn County sent three delegates to the Lecompton Constitutional Convention, namely J. H. Barlow, S. H. Hayze and George Overstreet. The Free-State men generally failed to vote at the election for these candidates. At the election for officers under the Lecomption Constitution, held at Sugar Mound, the Free-State men of the county voted, not knowing that the convention which had assembled at Lawrence on December 2nd, had adopted resolutions repudiating the Lecomption Constitution. James Montgomery learned of these resolutions on the day of election, went to the polls and told the Free-State voters that they had been misinformed as to the decision of the true convention. He then seized the ballot box, broke it to pieces and destroyed the ballots.


Early Mound City, KansasMound City was started in the spring of 1855 by the opening of a store there by a man named Miller and it soon became a well known pro-slavery headquarters, although the town was not officially organized until 1857.


Trading Post was the earliest settlement in the area, getting its start as an Indian trading post even before the state became a territory. Later both, Free-State and pro-slavery men locating in the vicinity, but in time it became a stronghold of the for the pro-slavery advocates.


Paris, situated about six miles south of Mound City, was owned by pro-slavery men and in the early days became a rallying point from which to make raids upon the Free-State settlers. Up to the middle of the summer of 1856 there was comparatively little trouble between the two political factions in the county.


Difficulties arose over claims, and much of the trouble for years was laid at the door of George Washington Clarke, who it was claimed burned a number of Free-State settlers out of their homes. It is true that he did burn several cabins, but how many remains unknown.



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Kansas Historic Book Collection - 35 Historic Books on CDKansas Historic Book Collection - 35 Historic Books on CD - The Historical Kansas Book Collection is a collection of 35 volumes relating to the history of Kansas and its people primarily in the 18th and 19th centuries. Several of the volumes have great period illustrations and portraits of relevant historical figures. Includes such titles as the History of Kansas (1899), History of Kansas Newspapers (1916), All five volumes of A Standard History of Kansas (1918), Pioneer Days in Kansas (1903), and dozens of others.

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