Pawnee.The old town of Pawnee, where the first territorial legislature was convened in 1855, was located in a beautiful valley, just east of the Fort Riley military reservation. It was laid out in the fall of 1854, Col. Montgomery, the commander of the post at Fort Riley, being the chief promoter of the enterprise. There is abundant evidence that the town was established with the knowledge and consent of the national authorities at Washington, but when Gov. Reeder took shares in the town company and issued his proclamation for the legislature to meet there, the pro-slaveryites became dissatisfied, because such action removed the seat of government so far from the border that they could not conveniently control the affairs of the territory. Holloway says that Jefferson Davis, who was then secretary of war, "on receiving complaints from Missouri, caused another military commission to make a survey, which again reported One Mile creek as the eastern boundary of the reserve. A map of this survey was prepared and sent to the department, with red lines showing where the boundaries would be to exclude Pawnee. The secretary of war, seeing the town still excluded, took a pen and drew a red line around it, and wrote on it, 'Accepted with the red lines,' took it to the president and secured his signature to it. He then issued orders for the removal of the inhabitants from that part of the reserve."
When it became known that the legislature would be convened at Pawnee, immigration turned in that direction. Several hotels were started for the accommodation of the members of the legislature and visitors, a large warehouse and a number of stores and dwellings were erected, so that by the time Davis' order was issued, Pawnee was a town of some importance. The order was not enforced until late in the fall of 1855, when Maj. Cook and about 1,000 dragoons arrived at Fort Riley from Texas, charged with the duty of removing the settlers. Some of the people left peaceably, but others refused to vacate and their houses were torn down by the troops.
Thus it was that the town of Pawnee, which the founders hoped to see the capital of Kansas, was "wiped off the map" for political reasons, while other towns laid out under similar circumstances were permitted to grow and flourish. To quote again from Holloway: "At Leavenworth the town was laid off and settled contrary to the most sacred treaties, but all such irregular proceedings were 'winked at,' because the leading property holders were pro-slavery men." (See also the articles on Capital and Reeder's administration.)Page 451 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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