Missourians burn with inveterate hatred

It is December 10, 2012, Ozzie, the inveterate thinker and traveler, sits at his computer looking out the window. A new day dawns. The sun rises at 7:15, the horizon is pink, but it changes quickly to a pale blue, and then an inky blue as one scans the heavens from east to west.. The sky is clear, but the weather has turned chilly, so cold that Ozzie had to unhook the hoses from the faucets to prevent the pipes from bursting. The dogs are up and they want to go out. Ozzie opens the door to let them out, feeling the chill of the cold morning air. Quickly, he closes the door and go back to his hot cup of coffee, listening to the morning news on the TV, and to my typing.

Ozzie has it pretty good, but what about those who first came to Kansas?

Once in a great while, one comes across an interesting blog that needs to be shared. jgriffing has compiled a collection of letters authored by James S. Griffing and J. Augusta Goodrich spanning the period from 1841 to 1882. James Griffing traveled to the Kansas-Nebraska territory in 1854 to homestead near Lawrence. A year later, he returned to his native state of New York to marry Augusta Goodrich. They then returned to Kansas where the couple stayed and James served as a Methodist minister for  25 years.

James Griffing’s homestead in Kansas was along the Wakarusa River. The Wakarusa River is neither a big river nor a wide river. It is indeed short, about 80 miles, and flows generally east from Topeka and south of Lawrence before spilling into the Kansas River at Eudora. The land around the Wakarusa is for the most part rich bottom land. Today one still finds fields of corn growing tall in the Kansas summer.

The image of Wakarusa Falls (not mine, but by Slothus, found at Wikipedia) is taken at a park near Clinton Resevoir, popular as a dog run.

Wakarusa Falls near Lawrence
Wakarusa Falls near Lawrence

Missourians burn with inveterate hatred is the title of a letter James sent back to Augusta after he first came to Kansas territory. Here is the first paragraph to get you started:

Wakarusa [Kansas Territory]
December 11, 1854

My Dear Augusta,

I am now, not in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” exactly, but in that of my kind friend and neighbor, Thomas Still [1] (son of Dr. [Abraham] Still) with whose father I often find a home. His father has long been a minister and Physician among the Indians and resides about six miles from here. Thomas is a young man studying for a Physician, has erected a cabin almost joining my claim, and I have taken up quarters with him until I get my cabin built. So with him and his brother John, [2] we are keeping bachelor’s hall. They have been absent to the State of Missouri the past week and I have been alone most of the time. It has seemed quite lonely, especially nights, as his cabin is in the woods, and there are so many wolves around that I felt at times a little startled when I heard footsteps around among the dry leaves as I had nothing but a thin blanket hung up for a door and the cracks in the cabin — as it has not yet been chinked — are nearly big enough to let the [wolves] in. ([I’m sure this sounds like] a big story for near the middle of December, but it is true.) Yet morning has come and always found me here without a single print of wolf’s teeth about my person and, what was better, my sleep has generally been quite sweet and refreshing.

Anyone wanting to know what it was like in Bleeding Kansas for a Homesteader should read this excellent blog. The letters also explain the continuing school rivalry between the college campuses at Lawrence and Columbia.

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