William Gay – Killed by Pro-Slavery Men

Bleeding Kansas Fight

Bleeding Kansas

William Gay was a Shawnee and Wyandot Indian agent in 1856 who became a victim of the pro-slavery partisans during the Kansas-Missouri Border War.

On June 21, 1856, accompanied by his son, he started to WestportMissouri, and when he was about two miles from there, he was met by three men. One of them offered him a drink, and in the course of the conversation, Gay was asked whether he was for or against slavery. He replied that he was from Michigan, but this indirect answer did not satisfy his inquisitor, who repeated the question. Gay then replied that he was in favor of making Kansas a Free State.

No sooner were the words out of his mouth, when he was shot several times and fatally wounded. His son was also wounded but managed to make his escape. It was thought by some that robbery was really the motive for Gay’s murder, the perpetrators hoping to find the key to the safe in which the agency money was kept. However, if they found the key they were afraid to attempt to use it because of the storm of indignation aroused by the murder.

By Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated February 2022.

Also See:

Bleeding Kansas & the Missouri Border War

Kansas – The Sunflower State

Missouri Bushwhackers – Attacks Upon Kansas

Pro-Slavery Movement

Source: Blackmar,  Frank W., Cyclopedia of State History, Volume I, Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.