LEGENDS OF KANSAS

 

History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs

 

Historic People of Kansas - "L" - Page 1

Index                                                         

 

James Henry Lane, aka: "The Grim Chieftain," Bloody Jim (1814-1866) - Principal leader of anti-slavery forces in Kansas during the Kansas-Missouri Border War and the Civil War. See full article HERE.

 

Samuel Lappin (1831?-1892) - Prominent in Kansas political affairs, Lappin was born in Ohio about 1831. He came to Kansas soon after the territory was organized, and in 1855 was appointed Register of Deeds for Nemaha County. He was a member of the first State Senate in 1861-62, and subsequently served in the lower house of the State Legislature. On November 26, 1862, he was appointed Assistant Quartermaster in the Union Army and served in that capacity until mustered out on September 20, 1865. He was elected Kansas State Treasurer in 1874 and served until December, 1875, when he was asked to resign on account of certain irregularities in his office. On December 21, 1875, a suit was filed against him for "forgery, counterfeiting and embezzlement," and on January 13, 1876, he was arrested in Chicago, Illinois The following July, he managed to escape from the jail and went to South America. He returned to the United States in 1880; was recognized in Washington Territory, and on October 23, 1884, was brought back to Kansas for trial. The claims of the state were finally satisfied through the sale of  Lappin's property, and on December 24, 1885, the case was dismissed. Lappin then again took up his residence at Seneca, Nemaha County, but later moved to La Center, Washington, where he died on August 4, 1892.

 

Amos Adams LawrenceAmos Adams Lawrence (1814-1886) - For whom the city of Lawrence, Kansas, was named, Amos was born in Boston, Massachusetts on July 31, 1814. His preparation for college was made under the instruction of Reverend Jonathan F. Stearns. He graduated from Harvard with a Bachelor's Degree in 1835, and a Masters degree in  1838, after which he entered the mercantile business. He interested himself in the manufacture of cotton, which had been the business of his father, and was president and director of several banks and industrial corporations in Massachusetts. Lawrence married Sarah Elizabeth Appleton in 1842.  He became associated with Eli Thayer and others in the colonization of Kansas and was treasurer of the Emigrant Aid Company. He was twice nominated for governor of Massachusetts by the Whigs and Unionists. At the outbreak of the Civil War he assisted in recruiting the Second Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. He built Lawrence Hall for the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Cambridge, at a cost of $75,000. He was treasurer of Harvard College 1857-63, and an overseer 1879-85. In 1846 he gave $10,000 for the establishment of a literary institution in Appleton, Wisconsin called the Lawrence Institute (now Lawrence University) of Wisconsin. He gave nearly $12,000 toward founding a Free-State college in Kansas, which sum, after a series of changes, went to the University of Kansas. He died at Nahant, Massachusetts, August 22, 1886.

Oscar E. Learnard (1832-1911) - Lawyer, journalist and soldier, Leanard was born at Fairfax, Vermont on November 14, 1832. Learnard was educated at Bakersfield Academy, the Norwich University, and graduated from the Albany Law School as a member of the class of 1854. In 1855 he came to Kansas and settled at Lawrence, and the next year he commanded a "mounted regiment" of the Free-State forces in the Kansas-Missouri Border War. In the spring of 1857 he helped to locate and lay out the town of Burlington, where he built the first mill, the first business building, and a building used for school and church purposes. He was a member of the council in the first Free-State Legislature in 1857, was president of the convention which met at Osawatomie on May 18, 1859, and organized the Republican Party in Kansas. After the state government was established he was made a Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit. This position he resigned to enter the army as lieutenant-colonel of the First Kansas Infantry, and served on the staffs of Generals Hunter and Denver until in 1863, when he resigned his commission. When Price undertook to enter Kansas in the fall of 1864, Colonel Learnard again joined the forces for the defense of the state, and took part in the Battle of the Blue and the engagement at Westport, Missouri.  He served two terms in the Kansas State Senate, was superintendent of the Haskell Institute for one year, was for a quarter of a century special attorney and tax commissioner for the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad Company. In 1884 he bought the Lawrence Daily Journal, which he published for many years. Learnard died at Lawrence on November 6, 1911.

Mary Elizabeth LeaseMary Elizabeth Lease (1853-1933) - Lawyer, lecturer, and author, she was born at Ridgway, Pennsylvania on September 11, 1853. She was educated at St. Elizabeth's Academy, Allegany, New York and soon after leaving school came to Kansas, where she was admitted to the bar in 1885. In 1888 she made her first public political speech in a union labor convention, and two years later she made over 160 speeches in Kansas for the Farmers' Alliance, attracting wide attention by her radical words. She was appointed president of the State Board of Charities, being the first woman in the United States to hold such a position. She was one of the orators on "Kansas Day" at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893; represented Kansas at the National Conference of Charities and Corrections the same year, and was vice-president of the World's Peace Congress. On January 30, 1873, she was married to Charles L. Lease at the Osage Mission. By 1890, her involvement in the growing revolt of Kansas farmers against high mortgage and railroad rates placed her in the forefront of the People's (Populist) Party, and she once again began to make a number of speeches for the cause. However, by 1896, she had become alienated from the Populist Party and thereafter focused on personal interests. In 1901 she obtained a divorce from her husband, and soon after moved to New York. She wrote for several  magazines and was the author of "The Problem of Civilization Solved." She died in 1933.

 

 

 

Samuel D. LecompteSamuel D. Lecompte (1814-1888) - First Chief Justice of the Territory of Kansas, Lecompte was born in Dorchester County, Maryland on December 13, 1814. At the age of 16 he entered Kenyon College at Gambier, Ohio but remained only to the close of his sophomore year, when he went to Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, where he graduated there with honors in 1834. After leaving college he studied law with Henry Page, a distinguished lawyer of Maryland, and upon being admitted to the bar began practice in Carroll County, Maryland. In 1840 he was elected to the state legislature; was a candidate for elector for General Cass in 1848; was a candidate for Congress in 1850 as a Democrat but was defeated, the district being largely Whig. Early in 1854 he moved to Baltimore, and in October of the same year, he was appointed by President Franklin Pierce, Chief Justice of the Territory of Kansas, which position he held until March 9, 1859. As an ardent supporter of the Democratic Party, he  was seen by many as being a proslavery man. Upon retiring from the bench, he settled in Leavenworth and opened a law office. During the 1850s, Lecompte was also busy in several business enterprises including real estate and railroads. He was the president of the Lecompton Town Company and through his efforts, it became the state capitol. He also sponsored a charter for the establishment of a medical college in Lecompton, and worked with John Stringfellow to promote the establishment of a University of Kansas at Leavenworth. His railroad pursuits included the incorporation of the Kansas Central Railroad Company; the Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Railroad Company; and the Leavenworth and Lecompton Railroad Company. After the close of the Civil War he renounced his political beliefs and became a Republican. Judge Lecompte took an active part in politics; served four years as Probate Judge of Leavenworth County; represented the county in the state legislatures of 1867-68, and on April 15, 1874, was elected chairman of the Republican Congressional Committee of the First District. In 1887 he went to Kansas City to live with his son and died there on April 24, 1888.

 

John W. LeedyJohn W. Leedy (1849-1935) - The 14th governor of the State of Kansas from 1897 to 1899, Leedy was born in Richland County, Ohio on March 8, 1849. His parents were members of the Dunkard Church, and his early years were passed under the strict discipline of that religious faith. While still a boy, he was required to go to work when his father died and he began his career as a farm hand. In 1864, when he was 15, he tried to enlist in a military company that was forming in his native county, but owing to his youth and the protests of his mother he was rejected. He followed the company to the front, however, and remained with it until the close of the war. In 1865 he went to Pierceton, Indiana, where he was employed as a clerk in a store for about three years. At the end of that time, preferring outdoor life, he went to Macoupin County, Illinois, and found employment on a farm near Carlinville. He remained there until 1880, when he moved to Kansas and engaged in farming near Le Roy in Coffey County. Somewhere along the line, he married Sarah J. Boyd of Frederickstown, Ohio and the couple would have three children.

Leedy was reared in a firm belief in the tenets of the Republican Party, with which he was affiliated until 1875, when he became a Democrat. When the Populist Party was organized in 1890, he again changed his party allegiance, and soon came to be recognized as one of the Populist leaders in Kansas. In 1892 he was elected to the Kansas State Senate, where he served until elected governor of the state in 1896. At the close of his two years' term as governor he became interested in mining operations in the vicinity of Galena, Kansas. In 1901 he went to Valdez, Alaska, where he served two years as mayor. Later, he moved to White Court, Alberta, Canada. He became a naturalized citizen of Canada and died there almost penniless. The Kansas Legislature donated $1000 to mark his grave and pay his funeral expenses. 

Lorenzo D. LewellingLorenzo D. Lewelling (1846-1900) -The 12th governor of the State of Kansas, he was born at Salem, Iowa on December 21, 1846. His father, William Lewelling, was a Quaker minister and died in Indiana in 1848 while engaged in missionary work in that state. His mother was accidentally burned to death in 1855, after which Lorenzo made his home with an older sister. He then worked at various jobs until the Civil War broke out in 1861, at which time, he enlisted in an Iowa regiment. This was contrary to the religious tenets of the Quakers, and the fact that he was not of legal age enabled his relatives to secure his discharge. However, he was with the Quartermaster's Department for some time, and later was employed with a government bridge building corps in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 1865, just after the close of the war, he taught at an African American at Mexico, Missouri, employed by the Freedmen's Aid Society. Then, after attending a business college at Poughkeepsie, New York for a short time, he worked as a tow-path boy on the Erie Canal, as a carpenter in Toledo, Ohio, and as a section hand and bridge-builder for several railroad companies. He then returned to his native town and entered Whittier College, where he graduated about 1868. Upon finishing his schooling, he became a teacher in the Iowa State Reform School. On April 18, 1870, he married Angeline M. Cook, a teacher of Red Oak, Iowa. In 1872 he was made superintendent of the girls' department of the reform school, his wife at the same time being appointed matron, and this position he held for fourteen years. He then spent about two years in founding and editing the Des Moines Capital, an "anti-ring" Republican newspaper, at the end of which time he returned to the reform school. His wife died while matron of that institution, leaving three daughters, and subsequently Lewelling married Ida Bishop. In 1887 he moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he engaged in business and ceased to affiliate with the Republican Party. He was one of the pioneers in the organization of the Farmers' Alliance, and in 1892 was nominated by the Populist Party for governor. The Populist State Convention of that year was held in Wichita and Lewelling appeared as a private citizen to welcome the delegates to the city. W. J. Costigan, an intimate friend of Governor Lewelling, said: "Up to that hour scarcely a delegate in that convention had ever seen or heard of him. His address stirred the convention to its inmost fiber, and within the next 24 hours he was its candidate for governor." The Democrats endorsed his candidacy and he was elected. In 1894 he was re-nominated, but the platform declared in favor of woman suffrage, which alienated Democratic support, and this, together with the recollections of the stormy scenes attending the opening days of his administration, encompassed his defeat. In 1896 he was a delegate to the Populist National Convention and the same year was elected to the Kansas State Senate, which office he held at the time of his death. He died of heart disease at Arkansas City, Kansas on September 3, 1900.

 

David Lykins (1820?-1861) - A member of the first Territorial Legislature of Kansas, Lyins was born in Iowa about 1820 or 1821. He received a good education and became a physician. In early life he became interested in missionary work among the Indians and in 1845 came to Kansas to engage in missionary work among the tribes there. In 1853 he was connected with the Potawatomie mission, and two years later was made superintendent of the mission for the Wea, Piankeshaw, Peoria and Kaskaskia tribes. He was an ardent pro-slavery man and advocated the annexation of Cuba in order that the slave power might have more territory. At the first territorial election on March 30, 1855, he was elected a member of the legislative council from the 4th district. The present county of Miami was originally named Lykins in his honor. However, after the Free-State men took power in Kansas, Dr. Lykins gave up politics, left the territory and died in Colorado in 1861.

 

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