History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Historic People of Kansas - "B" - Page 2

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David J. BrewerDavid J. Brewer (1837-1910) - An attorney and Jurist, Brewer was was born to a family of Congregational missionaries in Izmir, Turkey June 20, 1837. He returned with his parent,  Josiah Brewer and Emilia Ann Hovey Field, to the United States in 1838 and settled in Connecticut. Brewer was educated at Yale College and the Albany Law School, and in June, 1859 moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he began the practice of law. He was United States Commissioner in 1861-62; judge of the probate and criminal courts of Leavenworth County from 1863 to 1865; Judge of the District Court from 1865 to 1869; County Attorney in 1869-70; an associate justice of the Kansas Supreme Court from 1870 to 1884; resigned his position on the supreme bench on April 8, 1884, to become United States Circuit Judge; and on December 18, 1889, was commissioned Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court where he remained until his death. Always a friend of and a believer in popular education, Judge Brewer was the president of the Kansas State Teachers' Association in 1869, and he also served as a member of the Leavenworth school board. He was the author of several books on legal subjects. Judge Brewer was twice married. On October 3, 1861, he married Louise R. Landon of Burlington, Vermont. She died on April 3, 1898, and on June 5, 1901, he married Emma Minor Mott of Washington, D.C. Judge Brewer died at Washington of apoplexy on March 28, 1910.


Joseph Little Bristow Joseph Little Bristow (1861-1944) - Journalist and United States Senator, was born in Wolfe County, Kentucky, July 22, 1861, a son of William and Savannah (Little) Bristow. He came to Kansas with his father in 1873; married Margaret Hendrix of Flemingsburg, Kentucky, in 1879; and in 1886 graduated at Baker University, Baldwin, Kansas. From the time he attained to his majority Mr. Bristow took an active interest in political affairs, and the year he graduated was elected clerk of Douglas County, which office he held for four years. Upon retiring from the clerk's office in 1890 he bought the Salina Daily Republican and edited the paper for five years. In 1894 and again in 1898 he was elected Secretary of the Republican State Committee. His work in the campaign of 1894 commended him to Governor Morrill, who, when inaugurated in January, 1895, appointed Bristow his private secretary. The same year he sold the Salina Republican and bought the Ottawa Herald, which paper he owned for ten years, during which time he directed its policy and wrote many of the editorials himself. In March, 1897, he was appointed fourth assistant postmaster-general by President McKinley, and in 1900, under direction of Mr. McKinley, investigated the Cuban postal frauds.  


Three years later, under President Roosevelt, he conducted a searching investigation of the post office department. In 1903 he purchased the Salina Daily Republican-Journal, and in 1905 he was appointed by President Roosevelt a special commissioner of the Panama railroad. In August, 1908, he was nominated by the Republicans of Kansas at the primary election for United States senator, and the following January he was elected by the legislature for the term ending on March 3, 1915. Bristow fought fiercely for direct election of Senators, which, until the passage of the 17th amendment in 1912, were elected by or appointed by the State Legislatures. Bristow was defeated in his 1914 re-election bid. He spent the rest of his days farming his Virginia estate, Ossian Hall. When he died in 1944, his body was returned to Kansas for burial next to his wife Margaret in Salina's Gypsum Hill Cemetery.


Chief Abram BurnettAbram B. Burnett (1811-1870) - An Indian chief of the Potawatomie tribe, Abram B. Burnett, was born in Michigan about 1811. His Indian name was Kah-he-ga-wa-ti-an-gah, and he was the son of Kaw-kee-me, who was the sister of Top-ni-be, principal chief of the Potawatomie at the time. The family lived near Lake Michigan and were people of importance in the tribe. Young Abram was educated in the mission schools of Fort Wayne, Indiana and in Carey, Michigan, and it has been stated that he was one of three Pottawatomie boys to be taken to the Kentucky School for Indians about 1821 or 1822. The Fort Wayne and Carey Mission schools were conducted by the Reverend  Isaac McCoy, who in May, 1821 took young Abram with him as an interpreter and traveling companion on a trip to visit other area Indians.

In a series of treaties from 1821 to 1846, the Potawatomie gave up their lands in Indiana, Illinois and most of Michigan and began to move to lands assigned to them in northeast Kansas. On June 5, 1838, three months before he and his tribe were forced from Indiana to Kansas, Chief Burnett married a Potawatomie woman named D'Moosh-Kee-Kee-Awh. The forced removal of the Potawatomie to the present-day site of Osawatomie, Kansas in 1838, became known as the Potawatomie Trail of Death. As the Indians traveled from Plymouth, Indiana to Kansas, a distance of about 660 miles, between September 4 and November 4, 1838, they were overcome by typhoid fever. This, along with the stress of the forced marched led to the death of over 40 individuals, mostly children.

In 1843, on one of his many trips to Washington, Burnett met a young German woman named Mary Knofflock and he soon took a second wife. In 1848, the Chief moved his family to present-day Shawnee County where he built a cabin near a large hill southwest of present-day Topeka, which is today known as Burnett's Mound. Burnett developed a love of "fire-water" and began to make frequent trips to Topeka to satisfy his thirst, often imbibing more than was good for him.  As he weighed over 400 pounds it was something of a task to get him into his spring wagon when he was in a state of intoxication.




It was said that when he went home drunk he would test his German wife's temper by throwing his hat  at the window. If it remained in the house he would follow it, but if it was thrown back out he would retire until he was sober before attempting to enter his home. It was Burnett's boast that he never missed attending a circus in Topeka during his long residence near that city. He died on June 14, 1870, and his remains rest in a grave near the mound upon which he had so long made his home. After his death,  second wife, Mary Knofflock Burnet, and children moved to the  Potawatomie Reservation in Oklahoma.


Pardee ButlerPardee Butler (1816-1888) - A pioneer minister in Kansas, Butler was born in Onondaga county, New York on March 9, 1816, a son of Phineas Butler, an old Henry Clay Whig. In 1819 the family moved to Ohio, where Pardee united with the Christian Church, and in time was ordained to the ministry. In 1855, he moved to Kansas and entered a claim about 12 miles from Atchison. On August 16, 1855, while waiting at Atchison for a boat to go east on business, Butler met Robert S. Kelley, assistant editor of the Squatter Sovereign, and in the course of the conversation remarked that he would have become a regular subscriber to the paper some time before but for the fact that he disliked its policy. Kelley replied: "I look upon all free soilers as rogues, and they ought to be treated as such." To this Butler replied that he was a free soiler and expected to vote for Kansas to be a Free-State, whereupon Kelley angrily retorted: "I do not expect you will be allowed to vote."


Nothing further was said at the time, but early the next morning Kelley and a few other pro-slavery men called at the hotel and demanded that Butler subscribe to some resolutions which had been adopted at a recent meeting, one of which was as follows: "That we recommend the good work of purging our town of all resident abolitionists, and after cleansing our town of such nuisances shall do the same for the settlers on Walnut and Independence creeks, whose propensities for cattle stealing are well known."

Butler was a man of positive views and undaunted courage, and naturally refused to sign a resolution so contrary to his opinions. The mob then seized him, blackened his face, placed him upon a raft and set him adrift upon the Missouri river. Several flags were then  raised on the raft bearing the inscriptions: "Eastern Emigrant Aid Express. The Reverend Butler, Agent for the Underground Railroad. The way they are served in Kansas; For Boston. Cargo insured—unavoidable danger of the Missourians and the Missouri River excepted; Let future Emissaries from the North beware. Our hemp crop is sufficient to reward all such scoundrels; and To the rescue, Greeley, I've got a negro!


Butler was thus banished from the territory where he had chosen to make his home. But if his assailants thought for a moment that he would remain away permanently they were wrong. He soon returned, perfected the title to his claim, and continued to live in Kansas until his death, which occurred at Farmington, Kansas on October 20, 1888. He was again maltreated by a mob led by his old enemy, Kelley, on March 30, 1856, when he was given a mock trial and sentenced to hang. But this decree was changed and he was given a coat of tar and cotton wool. At the same time he was informed that if he ever appeared in Atchison again he would be put to death. Even this did not dampen his ardor for the Free-State cause. He never shirked what he conceived to he his duty, and he contributed in no small degree to making Kansas a Free-State.



Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated March, 2017.

About the Article: The majority of this historic text was published in Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Volume I; edited by Frank W. Blackmar,  A.M. Ph. D.; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912. However, the text that appears on these pages is not verbatim, as additions, updates, and editing have occurred.


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