History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Historic People of Kansas - "C" - Page 1

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John CalhounJohn Calhoun (1806-1859) - The first surveyor-general of Kansas and a pro-slavery partisan, Calhoun was born on October 14, 1806 in Boston, Massachusetts. He studied law in New York before moving to Springfield, Illinois in 1830. While there, he became a surveyor and served in the military during the Black Hawk War. As surveyor and soldier he met and became a friend of Abraham Lincoln that lasted throughout their lifetimes. In November, 1833, he founded the Chicago Weekly Democrat, the first newspaper in that town. The same year he became surveyor of Sangamon County, Illinois, and took an active part in the political life of that period. In 1838 he made many speeches during the campaign and was elected a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. In 1844 he was defeated for Congress and in 1846 was the candidate for governor of Illinois on the Democratic ticket but was again defeated. On August 4, 1854, Calhoun was commissioned surveyor-general of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, and made ex-officio register of the land offices, soon to be opened. He opened an office at Wyandotte, and the first report of his survey was made on October 26, 1856. He was a pro-slavery man; entered actively into the political life of the territory; was president of the Lecompton Constitutional Convention.


By 1858, control of the Kansas Territorial Legislature had passed firmly into Free-State hands and the new legislature initiated an investigation into the alleged fraudulent practices of the December, 1857 election. This action prompted Calhoun to leave Kansas for the safety of Missouri. General  Thomas Ewing, Jr., who was one of the committee appointed by the territorial legislature in 1858 to investigate election frauds, in a letter to his father dated January 18, 1858, said: "Calhoun left for Washington today -- fled. He would have been brought up for forging election returns, of which there is evidence enough, I believe, to warrant a presentment. He is the instigator of all the frauds, I have not a shadow of a doubt."


The Kansas Historical Society has a manuscript entitled "A Vindication of John Calhoun," written by his brother, A. H. Calhoun, in which it is claimed that Mr. Calhoun opposed the clause in the Lecompton Constitution establishing slavery and favored the submission of the instrument to popular vote, but these statements are not corroborated by the records of the convention. Calhoun died at St. Joseph, Missouri October 13, 1859, from the effects of an overdose of strychnine.  

George Campbell (1848-??) - Lawyer, author, and politician, Campbell was born in Yates County, New York on April 29, 1848 and educated at Starkey Seminary in Eddytown, New York. Later he studied law and in 1870 he came to Kansas and settled in the Mound Valley Township of Labette County. There, he engaged in farming and stock raising, and also taught school. In 1873 he married Sarah F. Drenner of Mound Valley. In 1872, he joined the Liberal Republican movement and supported Horace Greeley for president. He was active in organizing the Greenback Party and in 1884 was one of the organizers of the Farmers' and Laborers' Union, which he assisted in establishing in 26 states.  Campbell entered the field of journalism as editor of the Kansas State Alliance, published at Parsons, which was made the official publication of the Populist Party when it was organized in 1890. Later, he moved to Oswego and opened a law office before moving again to Coffeyville, Kansas, where he served as County Judge. In 1899, he was elected to the Kansas State Senate. During his lifetime, he also authored several books including The Life and Death of Worlds, America, Past, Present and Future,  and The Greater United States.

Jacob Cantrell (18?-1856) - One of the early settlers of Douglas County, he came from Missouri and built the first log cabin where Baldwin City now stands. He was not particularly active in the political troubles of the period, but spent his time in developing his claim. However, at the Battle of Black Jack; June 2, 1856 he went to the aid of the Free-State forces. Soon after this he was captured by border ruffians and given a mock trial on the charge of being guilty of "treason to Missouri." The sentence was death, and he was accordingly shot on June 6, 1856.

Thomas CarneyThomas Carney  (1824-1888) - The second governor of the State of Kansas, he was born in Delaware County, Ohio on August 20, 1824. His father, James Carney, died in 1828, leaving a widow and four small sons. Thomas remained with his mother until he was nineteen years of age, and frequently hauled the products of their little farm with an ox team to Newark, some 36 miles distant. When he was nineteen he left home with about $3.50 in his pocket and went to an uncle, Elijah Carney, at Berkshire, Ohio, where he stayed for several months, working for his board and attending school. In the fall of 1844 he found employment with a retail dry-goods concern at Columbus before later taking a position with a wholesale dry-goods house in Cincinnati. He was later admitted as a partner to the business and the  the firm of Carney, Swift & Co. became one of the best known dry-goods houses in the country. After some twelve years in Cincinnati his health began to deteriorate and in 1857 he visited the West in search of a new location. In the spring of 1858, he opened the first wholesale house in Leavenworth, Kansas with a partner named Thomas C. Stevens. Carney soon took an active interest in public affairs and in 1861 was elected to the second State Legislature. That same year, he married Rebecca Ann Cannady at Kenton, Ohio on November 13, 1861. His record in the legislature soon earned him the nomination for governor in the fall of 1862. Winning the vote, he took office in January, 1863. Due to his untiring efforts, several educational and charitable institutions were established during his tenure. At the close of his term as governor he resumed his business operation. In 1886, his partner, Stevens retired, and Carney took on different partners for several years until he became the sole proprietor.  



In 1865-66 he was mayor of the city of Leavenworth and later was one of the founders of the First National Bank, became a director of the Kansas City, Lawrence & Fort Gibson Railroad. In addition to these businesses, he also became interested in mining ventures in Colorado. He retired from business in 1875.  Carney died on July 28, 1888 from apoplexy. At the time of his election to the office of governor he was a wealthy man, but in later years financial reverses came -- due, it is said, to the unworthy schemes of designing politicians -- and he died comparatively poor.


Elizabeth Carter (1835-1883) - One of the pioneer mission teachers of Kansas, Carter was born at the Shawnee Baptist Mission in Johnson County on January 24, 1835, a daughter of Reverend Robert Simerwell. She was educated at Upper Alton, became a teacher in the Baptist Kansas Mission, and was the first teacher at Ottawa. Throughout her life she was an enthusiastic worker for the advancement of the Baptist Church in Kansas. She died at Auburn, Kansas on January 3, 1883.


Pedro De Castaneda - A chronicler of the Coronado Expedition to Quivira in 1540-42, he was a native of the Biscayan town of Najera in Spain. He came to America before the middle of the 16th century, and became prominently identified with the government and affairs of Mexico. His account of the Coronado Expedition was first written in Mexico soon after the event, but the original manuscript has disappeared. After his return to Spain, Castaneda made a copy, which was finished on October 26, 1596. His narrative was not published, but remained in the archives in manuscript until translated first to French and then to English. The Spanish manuscript, now in the Lenox Library in New York, was translated into English by George P. Winship, assistant in American History at Harvard University, and his translation was published in the 14th annual report of the United States Bureau of Ethnology.


Sterling G. Cato (??-1867?) - An Associate Justice of the Territory of Kansas, he was a native of Alabama. He was appointed on September 13, 1855, to succeed Judge Rush Elmore and served until in July, 1858, when he was succeeded by Elmore and left the territory. Repeated efforts have been made by the Kansas Historical Society to learn something of Judge Cato's early life and antecedents, but without avail. He was a strong pro-slavery advocate, was in the pro-slavery camp during the Sacking of Lawrence and many of his decisions were of a bitterly partisan character. He connived with Sheriff Jones, of Douglas County, and issued writs for the arrest of several prominent members of the Topeka Free-State legislature, but released from custody George W. Clarke, who was charged with the murder of Thomas W. Barber, a Free-State man. On October 20, 1857, he issued a writ commanding Governor Walker to issue certificates of election to a number of pro-slavery men who claimed to have been elected members of the legislature, but owing to the palpable frauds committed in the election, the governor refused to obey the order of the court. S. S. Prouty, correspondent of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, in writing to his paper of Judge Cato, said: "It is almost a mockery to call where he presides a court." He later moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he died about 1867.


Nick Chiles  - Born in South Carolina, Chiles moved to Topeka, Kansas in 1886. In 1899, he founded the Plaindealer newspaper which was published from January, 1899 to November, 1958. It was one of the most successful black-owned newspapers in Kansas and one of the strongest in the nation. It also became the longest running black newspaper in the United States. Chiles once bailed Carry Nation, the infamous temperance advocate, out of jail and helped her start a newspaper called The Smasher’s Mail.  However, after just three issues, Nation and Chiles disagreed and the partnership ended. The dates of his birth and death are unknown.



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