Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Final migration

The first would be that covered by NEHGS via its Great Migration Project (pages on Thomas Gardner). We see the 400th anniversaries of these New England areas coming up soon.

At the same time, we can look at the 200th of the great movement west. This is called the final migration as it started to fill in the interior of the country that was shown us, in part, by Lewis and Clark via their expedition. The trails got explored and established. People got off of the trails at various points in order to set down roots. There are several stages to this long bit of history which we will look at.

Right now, and given the current turmoil, we wanted to provide some material about the long reach of New England (a favorite topic). In particular, we will look, in depth, at New England's involvement with what became bleeding Kansas, namely in the period prior to the Civil War (War between the States).

We just found out that a nice presentation of A History of Lawrence Kansas is available on the web. We will use this book a lot. The author, Richard Cordley, D.D., arrived in 1857 and wrote the history in 1895. Below are some excerpts.

To set the stage, let's do a quote. This is from Chapter 1 in which Cordley quotes from Whittier's poem, "Song of the Kansas Emigrant:"
    We cross the prairie as of old
    The fathers crossed the sea,
    To make the West, as they the East,
    The homestead of the free.
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Remember, the context was after the Kansas-Nebraska bill was passed in 1854. The issue of slavery in new areas was still unresolved. So, New England took it west.


It was decided to establish a presence in the new region. Some had liked, or heard good things about, the area around what was named Mt. Oread. So, several parties were organized.

Now, remember, this is 1854. The trails had now been in use for over 20 years. So, there were modern means available to those who could pay. And, the New England parties were well funded.

After the first party left the Boston area by train, they went to Albany, New York to get Lake Erie passage to Chicago. The next step was traversing land to St. Louis. From STL to Kansas City, they could go by water. Then, they were back to the frontier experience.

"We prepared ourselves at once for starting. An ox team was purchased to transport the baggage and at ten o'clock Saturday evening we started on foot for our destination across the prairie. We traveled as much as possible during the night as the weather was very hot during the middle of the day. We saw occasionally a log house as we passed along, inhabited by farmers, of whom we obtained milk, etc. On the evening of Sunday we encamped on the lands of the Shawnee Indians. On Monday morning we started early, and in the evening arrived at the Wakarusa river, within ten miles of our destination. Here we camped, and the next day reached our new home."

They would have passed through Gardner Junction.

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Of course, only a couple days of travel is nothing compared to the 1000+ mile trek of the Mormons, yet one has to give these gentle people some credit. They did it on foot.

And, these are all cousins. We'll be looking closer into that. There was one Conant. A lot of other old families were represented.

But, let just quote about their first day.
    This party arrived August 1st. They ate their first meal on the hill where the old University building now stands. Of course they held a "meeting" and "organized." Someone has said that "wherever two or three Yankees are met together there they hold a meeting and organize." The meeting chose Ferdinand Fuller as chairman. They were in good position to

    "View the landscape o'er," 

    which they proceeded to do. They also had some speeches, and discussed the merits of the location and the best methods of procedure. The situation seemed to please them, and they voted to "stay here." They named the bill on which they met "Mount Oread," a name which it bears "unto this day." They remained on the hill a day or two, and then moved down, and camped near the Kansas river a little west of where the bridge now crosses that stream. The members of the party spent several days "claim hunting," and selected claims all around the proposed town site. After this was done, about half the party returned east, with the intention of bringing their families in the spring.
Sound like the Plymouth experience? In fact, the "please them" refers back to Winthrop's early comment on the Boston area after he was turned off by Salem.

There are so many themes to follow in this regard. For one, many of the New Englanders had already settled in states going west, such as Indiana and Illinois. This year, we had the opportunity to look closer at some of these folks. Some families had gone south prior to their westward movement.

Remarks: Modified: 08/13/2017

08/13/2017 -- Posts on Lawrence (and surrounds): Trails West, Westward Ho, Blogging and such, Final Migration, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Kansas and Lawrence.

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