History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Historic People of Kansas - "K"



Harrison Kelley (1836-1897) - A soldier and member of Congress, Kelley was a native of Ohio, born in Montgomery Township, Wood County on May 12, 1836. He was reared on a farm and obtained his education in the public schools. When he was 22 years-old he moved to Kansas, where he arrived in March, 1858, and took up a claim. At the outbreak of the Civil War he enlisted in the Fifth Kansas Cavalry; was repeatedly promoted through the grades to captain, and served in that capacity with Company B, Fifth cavalry, for two years. When mustered out of the service at the close of hostilities, he returned to his homestead.


Kelley took an interest in all public questions and local politics and represented his district for one term in the Kansas State Legislature. In 1865 he was appointed Brigadier-General of the Kansas State Militia and three years later the governor appointed him one of the board of directors for the state penitentiary, where he served five years. He was receiver of the United States land office in Topeka and subsequently became Assessor of Internal Revenue. Owing to his experience and years of public service, he was appointed Chairman of the Livestock Sanitary Commission of Kansas and treasurer of the State Board of Charities. In 1888 he was elected on the Republican ticket to fill the vacancy in the United States House of Representatives, occasioned by the resignation of Thomas Ryan. Kelley died at Burlington, Kansas on July 24, 1897.


Robert S. KelleyRobert S. Kelley (1831-1890) - Pro-slavery partisan during the Kansas-Missouri Border War and U.S. Marshal in Montana, Kelley was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia on January 11, 1831. At the age of 10, he was sent to Newport, New Hampshire to attend a prepatory school before entering Dartmouth College. Disliking the rigid discipline enforced at the establishment, he ran away, landing in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he went to work on the Advertiser, an influential journal of the area. Knowing that if discovered by his parents he would be obliged to return to the dreaded school, he did not communicate with them for a period of five years, during which time he remained at the Advertiser, thoroughly mastering the details of the printing business. When he found out that his family had moved to Missouri, he joined them there in 1848, and for four years afterwards was employed as salesman in a mercantile house.


In 1852, he started a Democratic paper at Liberty, Missouri called the Democratic Platform and continued its publication until the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, when he discontinued the newspaper and established a pro-slavery paper in Atchinson, Kansas, called the Squatter Sovereign, with partner, Dr. John H. Stringfellow in 1855. This was a time of great tension in Kansas and the newspaper took ultra Southern grounds. Concerning his experience at the time, Kelley would later say: "There was no such thing as concession at the time. We were all extremists, whether advocating or opposing slavery. During my editorial life I was in constant strife with political opponents."


He was elected a member of the State Senate under the Lecompton Constitution for the counties of Atchison and Doniphan. On the defeat of that measure by Congress he sold out his interest in the Squatter Sovereign and moved to Doniphan county, Kansas, where he married to Mary L. Foreman, and where his first child was born. He next engaged in merchandising in Kansas City, and was thus employed when the Civil War broke out. The first company of Federal soldiers that entered the city took possession of his store and carried off all his goods. Soon after, he joined the Missouri State Guards as a private, and served under General Sterling Price. After the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas he was promoted to a captain. After leaving the Confederate service he emigrated to Montana, arriving in Alder Gulch in 1863. From Alder Gulch he went to Helena, and for some time mined in Grizzly Gulch. In 1866 he went to Bear Gulch, where he remained a short time, after which he came to Deer Lodge, where he lived until his death. For several years he engaged in mercantile pursuits in partnership before becoming extensively in mining operations. In 1885, he was appointed by President Cleveland U.S. Marshal for Montana, and served in that office with official integrity until the day President Harrison was inaugurated, when he resigned, believing that the party in power should have control of all the Federal patronage and be held responsible for it. He died of a heart ailment in 1890 in Montana.


Kenekuk, Kickapoo ProphetKenekuk (1785-1852) - A prophet of the Kickapoo Indians about the time that tribe came to Kansas, he has been described as "a tall, bony Indian, with a keen black eye, and a face beaming with intelligence." He was a hereditary chief, as well as a professed preacher or prophet of a sect he originated. He claimed to receive his knowledge, and the direction for his teachings, from the Great Spirit. The teaching of the white missionaries he regarded as an innovation upon the original belief of the Indians, and consequently he opposed their work. Among the precepts he set forth for his followers was total abstinence from the use of intoxicating liquors. He died about 1852 from small-pox. After his death, some 30 or 40 of his faithful followers remained with his body, hoping to see the fulfillment of his prophecy that "in three days he would rise again." Unfortunately, they too, contracted the disease and died.


Samuel A. Kingman (1818-1904) - A Chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court from 1867 to 1876, Kingman was born in Worthington, Massachusetts on June 26, 1818 to  Isaiah and Lucy Kingman. Samuel was educated in public schools and at Mountain Academy in Worthington, and began teaching when he was 17 years old. Two years later he went to Kentucky, where he taught school and studied law. After being admitted to the bar he began to practice at Carrollton, Kentucky, before moving on to Smithland, Kentucky. Here, he served as County Clerk and District Attorney for three years from 1849 to 1851; represented the county in the State Legislature; and took part in framing a new constitution for Kentucky. On October 29, 1844, he married Matilda Willets of Terre Haute, Indiana, and the couple would eventually have two children. In 1857 he moved with his family to Knoxville, Iowa, and about a year later became a resident of Kansas.




For six months he was located in Leavenworth, then took up a claim in Brown County, near the site of Horton. Subsequently, he moved to Hiawatha and opened a law office. In 1859 he was a member of the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention and the same year was one of the three commissioners appointed by the legislature to adjust the territorial claims. When Kansas became a state, Kingman was nominated for Associate Justice on the Union Republican ticket, but was defeated. Two years later, he was elected Chief Justice and re-elected in 1872. He resigned from the bench in 1876 because of ill health. Later, he was appointed State Librarian, but was compelled to give up this position for the same reason. He was the first president of the Kansas State Historical Society and a director of it until his death. He was also President of the State Judicial Association and the Kansas State Bar Association. Judge Kingman was a Whig until the formation of the Republican party, when he became one of its stanch supporters. Judge Kingman died at Topeka, September 9, 1904. Kingman County was named in his honor.



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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