History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Historic People of Kansas - Last Name "S"



John Pierce St. JohnJohn Pierce St. John (1833-1916) - The eighth governor of the State of Kansas, St. John was born at Brookville, Indiana on February 25, 1833, a son of Samuel and Sophia (Snell) St. John.  He was educated in a log school house and in 1852, at the age of 19, crossed the plains to California. There, he was engaged in various pursuits from mining to merchandising, and participated in the wars with the Indians in northern California and southern Oregon in the years 1853-54, being twice wounded. He then visited the Sandwich Islands, Mexico, Central and South America. While working as a miner in California he decided to study law, and after his travels as above mentioned, entered the office of Starkweather & McLain, of Charleston, Illinois in 1860, where he completed his studies and was admitted to the bar the following year. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted as a private in Company C, Sixty-eighth Illinois infantry, and served with that regiment in Virginia until it was mustered out in November, 1862. He was then commissioned as a captain and placed in command of troops rendezvoused in camp at Mattoon, Illinois. When the 143rd Illinois infantry was organized, he was commissioned as a lieutenant-colonel of the regiment and continued to serve with that rank until the close of the war. Returning to Charleston, he then formed a partnership with Judge McLain, the surviving partner of the old firm with which he had studied, but a few months later, moved to Independence, Missouri, where he opened a law office and made his debut into the political arena.  


In May, 1869 he moved again to Olathe, Kansas, where he formed a partnership with M. V. B. Parker, an association that lasted until 1875, when it was dissolved by mutual consent. In 1872, St. John was elected to the Kansas State Senate, but declined a nomination for a second term. In 1876, he was a candidate before the Republican State Convention for governor, but was defeated by George T. Anthony. In 1878 he was again nominated and this time, was elected; re-elected in 1880, and was nominated for a third term in 1882, when he was defeated at the polls by George W. Glick. Governor St. John was an ardent temperance advocate and was the Prohibition candidate for president in 1884. The amendment to the Kansas Constitution, prohibiting the manufacture, importation and sale of intoxicating liquors within the state, was probably due as much to his influence as to that of any other one person. It is said that in sixteen years, he traveled 350,000 miles and made 4,000 speeches, mostly on the subject of the liquor traffic, and never missed an appointment. Upon retiring from the office of governor he became interested in mining operations in Missouri. St. John died after suffering heat exhaustion on August 31, 1916. The city of St. John, Kansas, is named after him.

Charles F. ScottCharles F. Scott (1860-1938) - A journalist and member of Congress, Scott was a native of the Sunflower State, having been born on a farm in Allen County, Kansas on September 7, 1860. His early education was acquired in the district schools, after which he entered the University of Kansas, where he graduated with the degree of B. S. in 1881 He received his Master's degree some years later. Upon leaving college, he spent about 18 months in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, returning to his native county in the fall of 1882. He then bought a small interest in the Iola Register; became the sole proprietor of the paper five years later, and in 1897 began the publication of a daily edition. In 1891, he was appointed a Regent of the University of Kansas and served in that capacity for twelve years. In 1892 he was elected to the state senate as a Republican, and in 1896 was one of the presidential electors on that ticket. Mr. Scott married May B. Ewing in 1893. He was elected to Congress in 1900; was four times re-elected, serving ten years in all, and was defeated for the nomination in 1910 by the late Alexander C. Mitchell of Lawrence. He tried again in 1928, but was again unsuccessful. He then resumed newspaper work until his death in Iola, Kansas on September 18, 1938.

Wilson ShannonWilson Shannon (1802-1877) - The second Territorial Governor of Kansas, Shannon was born in what is now Belmont County, Ohio on February 24, 1802. His father died in the winter of 1803, and it was due chiefly to the assistance of his older brothers that he received an education. As soon as he was old enough to be of assistance he was put to work on the farm, but at the age of 18, his brothers sent him to the Ohio University at Athens, where he studied for two years, and then entered Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky. While a student in this institution he studied law and in 1826 began to practice St. Clairsville, Ohio. He soon won distinction at the bar and became an active factor in politics. By 1832 he had become so well known that the Democratic Party nominated him for Congress, the Whig candidate being General James M. Bell. Although the Whigs were in a majority in the district Shannon made such a vigorous campaign that Bell was elected by a bare 37 votes. The following year Shannon was elected County Attorney of Belmont County and in 1835 was re-elected. In 1838 he was elected Governor of Ohio, but in 1840 he was defeated for re-election by Thomas Corwin. Two years later he again ran against Corwin, and this time was elected. Upon the expiration of his second term as governor he was appointed Minister to Mexico by President John Tyler, and served in that capacity until diplomatic relations were suspended in May, 1845. He then practiced law in Cincinnati until 1849, when he went to California. Two years later he returned to Ohio, with about the same amount of money as he had when he started for the Pacific Coast, and resumed his law practice. In 1852 he was elected to represent his district in the lower house of Congress, and while a member of that body voted for the Kansas-Nebraska Bill . On August 10, 1855, he was commissioned Governor of Kansas Territory by President Franklin Pierce. The fact that he had voted for the Kansas-Nebraska Act caused his appointment to be hailed with delight by the pro-slavery men in Kansas and the western part of Missouri, who hoped to gain greater advantages than they had been able to do during the administration of Governor Reeder. Shannon's administration in Kansas actually only lasted about eleven months, during which occurred some of the most turbulent scenes of the Kansas-Missouri Border War After his resignation in August, 1856, he moved to Lawrence, Kansas and in a short time became one of the best known attorneys in the territory, and later in the state. Governor Shannon was twice married. His first wife, who lived but a few years after their marriage, was a Miss Ellis, whose father was at one time county clerk of Belmont County, Ohio. His second wife was Sarah Osbun of Cadiz, Ohio. Governor Shannon died at Lawrence on August 30, 1877.




Robert SimerwellRobert Simerwell (178601868) - A missionary to the Potawatomie Indians, was born in Ireland, May 1, 1786. He attended school occasionally until fifteen years of age, and came with his parents to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1803. His parents died soon afterward and he became a blacksmith's apprentice. In 1824, he went to the Baptist Indian Mission at Carey Station on the St. Joseph River in Michigan, and the next year married a Miss Goodridge; became government blacksmith to the Potawatomie Indians and studied their language. In 1833, he came with a part of the tribe to the Baptist Mission in Kansas, led them to their new home on the reserve near Topeka in 1848, and labored among this tribe as a teacher and spiritual leader until ill health forced him to retire in 1854. He died at his home on Six-mile Creek in 1868. He was the author of a primer in the Potawatomie language, published in 1833; translated a book containing a catechism and hymns into Potawatomie in 1835; and his books and manuscripts, now in the Kansas Historical Society, include fragments of translations of hymns, grammar, vocabularies, discourses, etc.

Benjamin F. StringfellowBenjamin F. Stringfellow (1816-1891) - Lawyer and one of the pro-slavery leaders in Kansas, Stringfellow was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia on September 3, 1816. He was raised on his father's plantation and educated in the public schools until he was twelve years old, when his father sent him to school at Fredericksburg. Later, he attended the University of Virginia at Charlottesville and in the fall of 1835, began to read law. He was admitted to the bar and moved to Louisville, Kentucky before moving again to St. Louis, and then to Huntsville, Missouri. After meeting Sterling Price, he was persuaded to move to Keytesville, Missouri, where he became recognized as a lawyer of ability. Within a short time, he was appointed Circuit Attorney, which office he held for four years. In 1844 he entered actively into political life, was elected to the Missouri State Legislature and subsequently was appointed Attorney-General of the state, serving four years. When Kansas Territory was organized in 1854 and the contest over slavery began, an organization called the "Self Defensive Association" was started in Weston, Missouri, of which Stringfellow became the secretary. Foreseeing the coming conflict, he believed the only way to avoid it was by admitting Kansas as a slave state, thus keeping sufficient power in the United States Senate to defeat the abolition movement. He and his brother John organized "blue lodges" along the entire Kansas border and in 1854, along with David Rice Atchison he attempted to get residents of Southern states to move to Kansas with their slaves to counter those many places settled by the anti-slavery Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company. During the winter of 1854-55, he was selected to go to Washington, D.C., to meet the members of Congress from the southern states and explain to them the need of prompt and energetic action. They promised to send slaves to Kansas, but failed to do so. Failing to convince southerners to move to Kansas, he issued the "Stringfellow's Exposition" which said it was legal for Missourians to vote in Kansas to decide whether it should enter the Union as a free state or a slave state. Stringfellow's position was reinforced by his title of General in the Missouri Militia and his capacity as publisher of the Squatter Sovereign newspaper. In 1858, Stringfellow went to Memphis, Tennessee, but in the fall of 1859 became a resident of Atchison, Kansas. At the close of the war he cordially cooperated with the Republican party and engaged in commercial enterprises, being active in the organization and construction of the first railroads in Kansas. He died on April 26, 1891.

John H. StringfellowJohn H. Stringfellow (1819-1905) - An early physician of Kansas, one of the founders of Atchison, a pro-slavery advocate, and Speaker of the House in the First Territorial Legislature, he was born in Culpeper County, Virginia on November 14, 1819. He was educated at Caroline Academy in Virginia,   Columbia University in Washington, D. C., and graduated in the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1845. Soon after that, he moved to Carrolton, Missouri, where he married Ophelia J. Simmons, niece of Governor Edwards. During the cholera epidemic of 1849, when every boat coming op the river unloaded cholera patients at Hill's Landing, he converted a large warehouse into a hospital and devoted three months to caring for them. In 1852, he moved to Platte City, Missouri. Upon the organization of Kansas Territory he crossed the river, selected a claim, and in connection with some friends, formed a town company which laid out the town of Atchison. In 1854, he brought his family and lived in Atchison until 1858. He was the founder and editor of the Squatter Sovereign, the first newspaper in Atchison, and was commissioned as a colonel in the Third Regiment of the Territorial Militia by Governor Shannon. He was called to Virginia by the death of his father in 1858 and was detained there until after the opening of the Civil War. He entered the Confederate service as a captain of a Virginia company, but was at once, detailed as surgeon and acted in that capacity only. In 1871, he returned to Atchison and remained there until 1876, when he went to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he resided until his death on July 24, 1905.



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