History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Historic People of Kansas - "P" - Page 1

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Francisco Juan De PadillaFrancisco Juan De Padilla (??-1542) - Francisco Juan De Padilla was a Spanish Franciscan friar who spent much of his life exploring North America with Francisco Vazquez de Coronado and was the first missionary to the Indians of Kansas. See full article HERE.


Henry Clay Pate (18??-1864) - A leader of a gang of border ruffians during the territorial struggles, Pate was a newspaper correspondent and was particularly bitter in his denunciations of the Free-State advocates. He commanded a detachment of the Territorial Militia which was organized under Governor Shannon's call, most of this militia being composed of citizens of southern states. Pate was more of a braggart than a warrior, and at the Battle of Black Jack on June 2, 1856, he surrendered without much resistance. He was released by Colonel Edwin V. Sumner on the June  8th. The following September he again became warlike and wrote to Governor John Geary that he would organize and command the settlers of Lykins (Miami) County, "for the protection of the polls," if the governor would give him a commission. To this proposal Governor Geary responded as follows: "While thanking you most kindly for your suggestions and for your friendly offer, I have made every necessary arrangement to protect the bona fide citizens of this territory in the exercise of their right of suffrage." This was not to Pate's liking, it was not the "bona fide" settlers he wanted to protect, but the voters who would come over from Missouri to carry the election, as they had done on previous occasions. Finding that the governor would not aid his scheme, he dropped out of Kansas affairs. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted in the Confederate army and was killed in the spring of 1864 in a fight between Sheridan's Cavalry and the Confederate Cavalry under Stuart.


Robert Hall Pearson (1828-??)  - One of the first settlers in Palmyra Township of Douglas County in what would later become Baldwin City. Pearson was born in England on April 1, 1828 before moving with his family to Allegheny City, Pennsylvania in 1832. There he attended school and afterwards worked for five years in a cotton factory. He then learned the trade of coach body-builder, which he worked at for a time. In 1851, he followed the lure of gold to California , but after working as a miner for several years, returned to Pennsylvania in the spring of 1854. However, he wasn't there long, as he was soon on a steamboat headed from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to St. Louis, Missouri. From St. Louis, he then made his way by boat to St. Joseph and then Weston, Missouri, where he waited with others for information on the ratification of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill then pending in Congress. In May, he in the company of a man named Gauis Jenkins and other men, traveled to Kansas to locate claims in the new Kansas Territory. Jenkins would later be killed by James H. Lane over a land dispute. Pearson soon made a claim just north of present-day Baldwin City . Already living in the area was a man named Kibbe, who Pearson stayed with for a couple of months. Kibbe became an ardent Free-State supporter and allegedly killed a pro-slavery advocated named Davis. He was arrested but released on bail and soon disappeared from the area. Pearson married in 1855, to Catharine Baysinger, a daughter of another early pioneer. The couple would eventually have nine children.

Pearson also took an active part in the ranks of the Free-State party. He was connected with Captain Shore's and Captain Dexter's companies and took part in the battles of Franklin and Black Jack, the defense of Lawrence, and others. Later, Pearson's original claim was found to be within the limits of the Shawnee Indian Reservation so he took another claim close by in the spring of 1860. Situated on the old Santa Fe Trail, he purchased land that included the Black Jack Battlefield from the Wyandotte Indians. During the Civil War, Pearson was connected with the Missouri State Militia under Colonel Nugent, and took part in the pursuits of William Quantrill and General Price. Afterwards, he settled back down on his homestead and in the 1880s built a home for his family that overlooked the Black Jack battlefield.

The house and surrounding land continued to be occupied by his descendents until 2003. At that time, the old homestead was purchased by members of the Friends of the Black Jack Battlefield and the Lawrence Preservation Alliance to keep it from being developed into a residential area. Today, the site, called the Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park is managed by the Black Jack Battlefield Trust and tells the story of the site's history. The site is located about four miles southeast of Baldwin, Kansas at the intersection of E 2000th Road and N 175th Road, adjacent to the Robert Hall Pearson Park.




William A. PefferWilliam A. Peffer (1831-1912) - Soldier, publisher, and United States Senator, Peffer was born on a farm in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania on September 10, 1831 to Dutch parents. From his tenth to fifteenth year he attended public schools seven months each winter, and afterwards began to teach at a small district school. He followed that profession until he caught the gold fever in 1850, and went to California, where he made considerable money before returning to Pennsylvania in 1852. There, he married Sarah Jane Barber and soon after they moved to Indiana. He engaged in farming near Crawfordsville until he met with financial difficulties and determined to go farther west. He soon was established on a farm in Morgan County, Missouri. In February, 1862, he went to Illinois to get away from guerrilla warfare, and the following August he enlisted as a private in the 83rd Illinois Infantry. He was promoted to second lieutenant in March, 1863. During the three years of his service he was engaged principally in the performance of detached duty as quartermaster, adjutant and judge-advocate of a military commission, and as depot quartermaster in the engineering department at Nashville, Tennessee. He was mustered out on June 26, 1865. Having studied law as opportunity afforded, he settled at Clarksville, Tennessee at the close of the war and began to practice law. In 1870 he came to Kansas and took up a claim in Wilson County. Two years later he moved to Fredonia and established the Fredonia Journal, a weekly newspaper, at the same time continuing his law practice. He next went to Coffeyville and established the Coffeyville Journal. In 1874 he was elected to the State Senate as a Republican and served one term. He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1880, and that year he moved to Topeka, where he assumed control of the Kansas Farmer, which he purchased later. In 1890 he joined the Farmers' Alliance Movement and the following year the People's Party elected him to the United States Senate, where he served one term. He was, in 1898, an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Kansas, and afterward engaged in literary pursuits. He died in Grenola, Kansas in 1912 and was interred in Topeka Cemetery.



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