History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Historic People of Kansas - "C" - Page 3

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Richard CordleyRichard Cordley (1829-1904) - Author and minister, Cordley was born at Nottingham, England on  September 6, 1829. He moved with his family to the United States when he was about four, settling in  Livingston County, Michigan where Cordley attended public schools. In 1850 he entered the University of Michigan and graduated with the class of 1854. He then worked his way through the Andover Theological Seminary, where he graduated in 1857. On December 2, 1857, he preached his first sermon in the Plymouth Congregational Church at Lawrence, Kansas. In May, 1859, he married Mary M. Cox of Livingston County, Michigan. Cordley was living and working In Lawrence at the time of Quantrill's Raid on August 21, 1863. His house and all its contents were burned and he was one of the persons marked for death, but he managed to elude the guerrillas. In 1875, he received a degree of Doctor of Divinity from the University of Kansas and that same year went to to Flint, Michigan for a while befor Lawrence and continued as pastor of the Plymouth Church, a position he retained until his death. He served for some time as a regent of the Kansas Agricultural College, and was for several years president of the Lawrence Board of Education. He was the author of Pioneer Days in Kansas and a History of Lawrence, as well as being a regular contributor to magazines and church periodicals. He died on July 11, 1904.


George A. Crawford (1827-1891) - Lawyer and journalist, Crawford was born in Clinton County, Pennsylvania on July 27, 1827. He was educated at Clinton Academy, of which his father was president, the Lock Haven Academy, and at Jefferson College, where he graduated in 1847. Afterwards, he taught school in Kentucky and in 1847 was partner in a private school at Clinton, Mississippi. In 1848 he returned to Pennsylvania, where he studied law and in 1850, while still reading for the bar, became editor and proprietor of the Clinton Democrat. During the early 1850s he took an active part in politics against the Know-Nothings and in 1855 was a delegate to the Pennsylvania Democratic State Convention. In the spring of 1857 he came to Kansas; landed at Leavenworth and accompanied Dr. Norman Eddy, United States


Commissioner for the Sale of Indian Lands, to Lawrence. Later, Crawford, Eddy and other associates purchased 520 acres of land and organized the Fort Scott Town Company, of which Crawford was made president, a position he held for twenty years. A town was laid out and the streets were named after Crawford's friends.


He was opposed to the agitation kept up by the border factions but did not change his Free-State views and several attempts were made to assassinate him. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he assisted in the organization of the Second Kansas Regiment and equipped many of its members. When the border was threatened he organized a committee of safety and was placed at its head. He was active in recruiting several militia companies. In 1861 he was elected Governor of Kansas on the Democratic ticket, but the election was declared illegal. In 1864 he was again nominated by the Democratic party for governor but Samuel J. Crawford, the Republican candidate, was elected. Under Governor Crawford, he served two years as Commissioner of Immigration, and this was regarded as his greatest work. He inaugurated the system of exhibiting Kansas products in other states and was one of the organizers of the Kansas Historical Society and its secretary for two years. In 1868 he was again a candidate for governor but was defeated. In 1869 he established the Daily Monitor and a free reading room and museum at Fort Scott. Crawford was appointed a regent of the State University in 1871 and elected one of the executive committee of the State Agricultural Society. The same year he was appointed United States Commissioner by President Grant, to the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia. When the Ute Reservation was thrown open to settlement he purchased the site of the town of Grand Junction, Colorado and was instrumental in building it up. He died there on January 26, 1891.


Samuel J. CrawfordSamuel J. Crawford (1835-1913) - Lawyer, soldier and third governor of the State of Kansas, Crawford was born in Lawrence County, Indiana on April 15, 1835. While a student in the Bedford Academy he began to study of law and in 1858 was admitted to the bar. The following year he moved to Kansas and began a practice at Garnett. On December 6, 1859, he was elected a member of the first State Legislature, which did not meet until March 26, 1861. At the end of six weeks' service as a legislator, he resigned his seat in the house to enter the army and raised a company, of which he was commissioned captain. His company was assigned to the Second Kansas Infantry, with which regiment he served until in March, 1862, when he was assigned to the command of Troop A, Second Kansas Cavalry. While in command of this troop he distinguished himself by leading a charge against and capturing a battery of four guns near old Fort Wayne. It is related that Major Van Antwerp, an old West Pointer, who was at that time Inspector-General on the staff of General  James G. Blunt, saw the charge, and as the captured guns were being brought within the Union lines, rode over to General  Blunt and asked: "Who is the officer that led that charge?" General  Blunt answered: "Captain Crawford of the Second Kansas Cavalry." "Do you know, General," said Van Antwerp, "that if that man had been with Napoleon at Lodi, and had done what he did here today, he would have been made a marshal on the field?"




Captain Crawford was not promoted on the field at the time of his gallant charge, but his promotion was not long in coming. He was given command of a battalion of the Second Kansas Cavalry, and on December 5, 1863, he was made colonel of the Second Kansas, or Eighty-Third U. S. Colored Infantry. On November 8, 1864, while serving as colonel of this regiment, he was elected governor of Kansas, and on December 2nd, he resigned his commission in the army to prepare for his gubernatorial duties. He was inaugurated at the opening of the legislative session the following January, and further military promotion came to him on March 13, 1865, when he received the rank of brevet brigadier-general "for gallant and meritorious services." On November 27, 1866, he married Miss Isabel M. Chase, of Topeka and they would have two children. The same year, he was re-elected to the office of governor, and served until the autumn of 1868, when he resigned to assume the command of the Nineteenth Kansas Regiment, which was then being organized for a campaign against the hostile Indians on the western frontier. The regiment, with Colonel Crawford at the lead, left Topeka on November 6th, and twenty days later joined General Philip Sheridan's army. Upon returning home from this expedition, Governor Crawford located at Emporia, where he was engaged in the real estate business until 1876, when he moved to Topeka. In 1877 he was appointed agent at Washington for the State of Kansas, and he continued to serve in this capacity for several years, during which time he successfully adjusted a number of claims against the United States and collected a large amount of money for the state. He also recovered 276,000 acres of school lands, and nearly 850,000 acres in western Kansas claimed by railroad companies. At the conclusion of his services as state agent, Crawford opened a law office in Washington, D.C., practicing there during the fall and winter seasons and spending his summer on his farm near Baxter Springs. He retired to Topeka and was the author of Kansas in the '60s, a work which attracted much attention as a picture of conditions in early Kansas history. He died on October 21, 1913.


Charles CurtisCharles Curtis (1860-1936) - Of Kanza Indian decent, Curtis was an attorney, United States Senator, and 31st Vice President of the United States. He was born in Topeka on January 25, 1860 and educated in public schools. Afterwards, he studied law and in 1881 was admitted to the bar. He then worked in a legal partnership until 1884 when he was  elected County Attorney of Shawnee County. On November 27, 1884, he married Annie E. Baird of Topeka. At the close of his first term as city attorney in 1886 he was re-elected for a second term of two years. In 1892, he was nominated by the Republicans of the Fourth Congressional District for Congress, and in November was elected. He served in congress until he was elected to the Senate first by the Kansas legislature, and then by popular vote in 1920 and thereafter. Curtis served in the Senate from 1915 to 1929. After the landslide victory of the Republican ticket in 1928, Curtis resigned from the Senate to serve as Vice-president to Herbert Hoover as President. The overwhelming problems of the Great Depression led to the Republican defeat in the next election and Curtis' term as Vice President ended on March 4, 1933. Curtis stayed in Washington D.C. and resumed his legal career. He died there on February 8, 1936 of a heart attack. His body was returned to his  Kansas and buried at the Topeka Cemetery. He was the first person with acknowledged non-European ancestry to reach either of the two highest offices in the United States government's executive branch, and the last until Barack Obama's election as president in 2008.


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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