History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Historic People of Kansas - "D"



John DavisJohn Davis (1820-1901) - Free-State advocate and member of Congress, Davis was born near Springfield, Illinois on August 9. 1820. His parents were pioneers, the father a farmer, public-spirited, and of strong, sturdy character. John attended public schools and at the age of 20, left the farm to enter the Springfield Academy, preparatory to a course in the Illinois College at Jacksonville. In 1850, he opened a prairie farm in Macon County, Illinois about ten miles east of Decatur. To this farm he brought his wife, Martha Powell, a native of Wisconsin and a woman able to cope with the difficulties of frontier life. Davis actively favored government endowment of agricultural colleges. He took a leading part in the anti-slavery movement, and as a member of the Republican Party, he stood by the Union cause during the Civil War. In 1872, he moved with his family to Kansas, settling on a farm two miles from Junction City. The following year he was elected president of the first Kansas Farmers' Convention, and he was one of the organizers of the Greenback Party and its successor, the People's Party. In 1890 he was elected as a Populist to represent the Fifth district in Congress, and was re-elected in 1892. In 1875 he purchased the Junction City Tribune and conducted it until 1895. He was a writer of ability, published several books and pamphlets in support of his opinions on public policy and was the author of a Life of Napoleon. He died at the residence of his daughter in Topeka, Kansas on August 1, 1901.


J. H. Defouri (1830-??) - An early Catholic priest in Kansas, Defouri was born in St. John La Porte, Valley of Isere, France on August 29, 1830. He was educated for the priesthood and was ordained at Chambery, Savoy in 1854. Soon after taking orders he came to America and in November, 1856, arrived at Leavenworth, where he remained until 1862, when he was sent to Topeka. In 1865 he made a journey to his native land in the interest of the church in Kansas, and upon his return the next year he was made pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Topeka. In September, 1876, he returned to Leavenworth and in July, 1877, was made vicar-general of the diocese. Some years later he left Kansas to take charge of the Church of San Guadaloupe at Santa Fe, New Mexico Father Defouri was a liberal contributor to the Kansas Magazine and other publications of that nature on topics relating to Indians and the early Catholic Church in the southwest.


George W. DeitzlerGeorge W. Deitzler (1826-1884) - Free-State advocate, soldier, and politician, Deitzler was born at Pine Grove, Pennsylvania on November 30, 1826. He received a public school education and moved to Kansas, where he became one of the prominent figures of the Free-State party. He was a delegate to the Topeka Convention and in May, 1856, was one of the seven men who were arrested at Lawrence and taken to Lecompton under guard of Federal troops.

They were known as the "treason prisoners" and were kept in a prison camp for several months. During the winter of 1857-58 he was a member and speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives and was re-elected. Subsequently, he was elected mayor of Lawrence, and also served as treasurer of the state university. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was made colonel of the First Kansas Volunteers ; was seriously wounded at the Battle of Wilson's Creek in August, 1861 and never entirely recovered. He remained in the service; however, was promoted to brigadier-general, but resigned in 1863. During Price's Raid, he rendered great service in protecting the border. In 1864 he was commissioned Major-General of Kansas Militia. General Deitzler was killed by being thrown from a carriage at Tucson, Arizona on April 11, 1884.

Mark W. DelahayMark W. Delahay (1817-1879) - Jurist and politician, Delahay was a native of Talbot County, Maryland. Although his father was a slaveholder, his maternal ancestors were members of the Society of Friends, and he was averse to buying and selling slaves. He had scarcely attained legal age when he decided to seek his fortune in the West. He first located in Illinois, where he was engaged in various enterprises; wrote for different journals; studied law, and was admitted to the bar. In 1853, he went to Mobile, Alabama, to practice law. However, in the winter of 1854 he became interested in Kansas and in March, 1855, moved to Leavenworth. Although a Democrat and a supporter of the policy of "squatter sovereignty," his sympathies soon became enlisted with the Free-State cause. On July 7, 1855 he began the publication of the Leavenworth Register. He served as one of the secretaries of the Topeka Convention on September 19, 1855, and as a member of the Topeka Constitutional Convention the following month. In December, while he was attending the Free-State Convention at Lawrence, his office was destroyed by a pro-slavery mob. He was elected to Congress under the Topeka Constitution but was never admitted to a seat. In May, 1857 he started the Register, the first paper in Wyandotte (now Kansas City), Kansas He was a member of the Osawatomie Convention of May 18, 1859, which founded the Republican Party in Kansas and was chief clerk of the House of Representatives in 1860. He was appointed Surveyor-General of Kansas in 1861, a position he held until until October 7, 1863, when President Lincoln appointed him United States District Judge of Kansas, a position he held until 1873. He died at Kansas City, May 8, 1879.




James William DenverJames William Denver (18??-1894) - Secretary and governor of the Territory of Kansas Denver was born at Winchester, Virginia on July 23, 1817. He was reared on a farm, attended public schools, and about the time he was of legal age, he went with his parents to Ohio. There, he studied engineering and in 1841 went to Missouri to engage in the practice of that profession. The following year he returned to Ohio and took up the study of law, graduating at the Cincinnati Law School in 1844. In 1847 he was commissioned captain of a company in the Twelfth United States Infantry and served under General  Scott in Mexico until the close of the war in July, 1848. He then moved to Platte City, Missouri, where he practiced law until 1850, before going to California. While serving in the California State Senate, he got into an altercation with a man named Edward Gilbert that escalated into a duel, in which, Gilbert   was killed. In 1853, Denver was elected Secretary of State of California, and the next year was elected to Congress. He served but one term, after which he was appointed commissioner of Indian affairs and in the spring of 1857, came to Kansas to make treaties. The following December, he was appointed Territorial Secretary and subsequently was appointed governor. While governor of Kansas, he was active in securing the erection of the Territory of Colorado, and in his honor, the Colorado Capitol bears his name. On October 10, 1858 he resigned his position as governor to engage in the practice of law. In August, 1861, he was commissioned brigadier-general of volunteers by President Lincoln and served until in March, 1863, when he resigned. For a time, he practiced law in Washington, D.C., and then moved to Wilmington, Ohio. He was defeated for Congress in that district in 1870, and in 1884 his name was mentioned as a probable candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. On September 3rd of that year he attended the old settlers' meeting at Bismarck Grove, near Lawrence, Kansas, where he delivered an address. Governor Denver died at Washington, D.C. on August 8, 1894.

Annie Le Porte DiggsAnnie Le Porte Diggs (1848-1916) - Journalist and supporter of Populism and Women's Suffrage, Diggs was born in 1848 in Canada to an American mother and a French father. When she was just two years old, family moved to New Jersey, where she attended school. She moved to Lawrence, Kansas in 1873 and married Alvin S. Diggs shortly thereafter. She soon began to attend the local Unitarian Church and developed a strong sense of moral responsibility that prompted her to work for temperance and women's suffrage. In 1882, she and her husband began to publish a newspaper called the Kansas Liberal, and beginning in 1890, she was the Associate Editor of the Alliance Advocate. Seeking to wipe out injustice, Diggs also allied herself with the Farmer's Alliance, aiding in the creation of the People's (Populist) Party, touring the nation with the party in 1892. She later served on the Populist National Committee, and supported the fusion of the Populist and Democratic parties in the 1898 election.

Throughout this time she continued to work actively for women's voting rights and was the president of the Kansas Women's Free Silver League and of the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association. In 1898, she was appointed the State Librarian of Kansas, and was elected president of Kansas Press Women in 1905.  In 1906, Diggs moved to New York City  where she worked on two publications: The Story of Jerry Simpson published in 1908  and Bedrock, published in 1912. She relocated to Detroit, Michigan in 1912 and died there on September 7, 1916.

Israel B. Donalson (1797-1895) - The first United States Marshal of Kansas Territory, Donalson was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky on January 12, 1797. His parents moved to Ohio soon after his birth, but at the age of 16, he returned to Kentucky, and in 1835 was elected to the legislature as a Democrat. In 1839 he moved to Pike County, Illinois, where he was elected probate judge and took part in the "Mormon War." He raised a company in 1847 for service in the war with Mexico, was made a major of his regiment, and was voted a sword by the legislature of Illinois for his services. Upon the discovery of gold in California, he went there and remained for two years. In 1854 he was appointed United States Marshal for Kansas by President Frankllin Pierce and served through the administrations of the first four territorial governors, when he resigned and moved to Canton, Missouri. He was a strong pro-slavery man and at the beginning of the Civil War he moved to Hays County, Texas. He died at San Marcos, Texas on October 27, 1895.

John Dunbar (1804-1857) -  Clergyman, missionary to the Pawnee Indians, and first treasurer of Brown County, Kansas, Dunbar was born at Palmer, Massachusetts on March 3, 1804. In 1832 he graduated from Williams College and later, he graduated from the Auburn Theological Seminary. While a student at the latter institution, he received an appointment as missionary to the western Indians; was ordained at Ithaca, New York on May 1, 1834, and on the 5th left there for the the west, with plans of crossing the rocky Mountains to minister to the Nez Perce. However, upon arriving at St. Louis, Missouri on May 23rd, he learned that the party of traders with whom he was to travel had already left and this changed his entire plan. At St. Louis, he was informed that the Pawnee tribe needed missionaries and he decided to go there. As soon as possible he reported at the mission and agency at Bellevue, Nebraska nine miles above the mouth of the Platte River, on the west bank of the Missouri River, and began his work as missionary. In September, 1836 he returned to Massachusetts, and while there superintended the printing of a 74-page book in the Pawnee language. On January 12, 1837 he married Esther Smith, and the following spring returned to Bellevue. Later he went to Holt County, Missouri, but preferring a residence in a free state, and confident that Kansas was to be admitted as such, he moved to Brown County, Kansas in 1856, taking up residence on the Wolf River about two miles west of Robinson. On March 16, 1857 he was appointed treasurer to the Board of County Commissioners, being the first man ever to hold that office in the County. Neither Mr. Dunbar nor his wife lived long after they moved to Kansas. She died on November 4, 1856 and his death occurred on November 3, 1857.


Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated November, 2016.






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.

Old West Posters and Maps

  About Us      Contact Us       Article/Photo Use      Guestbook      Legends Of America      Links      Photo Blog      Site Map     Writing Credits  

Copyright 2009-Present, www.Legends of Kansas.com is a web property of Legends Of America