John C. Davidson’s Testimony about the 1855 Kansas Elections

One of my earliest {and still one of my favorite} finds while researching my husband’s line was this testimony given by his 3rd great grandfather, John C. Davidson.

John Davidson was originally from Virginia.  He moved to Missouri, where he married Sophia Talbot. They then moved to present-day Douglas County, Kansas in 1854 and on to Leavenworth County in about 1863.

John was present at the 1855 Kansas election, a botched affair. It is so nice to be able to put him into the context of the turbulent times.  Missourians crossing the river just to vote.  But the testimony is also very helpful, because he gives specific dates that he moved (which I didn’t have) and there’s just something about knowing that this testimony is straight from his mouth.

The following was found in the book titled: Kansas Affairs (Report of the Special Committee appointed to investigate the troubles in Kansas with the views of the minority of said committee), by United States. Congress. House of Representatives, 34th Congress, 1st Session, printed in 1856.

He gave testimony in regards to the election of 30 March 1855.
John C Davidson recalled.
Examined by Mr. Reeder:
I was here at the election of March 30, 1855.  I moved into the Territory in July 1854, from Carroll County, Missouri.  I had moved to Missouri from Virginia in 1839.  I saw a large body of strangers encamped here on the day of the election in March 1855.  I was at one camp composed of men I knew in Carroll County when I lived there.  I had conversations with two of them upon the subject of their being here.  I do not recollect that they told me how many were here from Carroll County or from Missouri.  They told me they came here to vote; that they considered they had a right to vote here; that according to the way the Kansas-Nebraska bill was drawn up, they had a right to vote here while they were residing here, and they were residing here while they were here.  They said they came here to vote and intended to vote, and would not be driven from the polls; that each man of them was prepared to go eight rounds without loading and the ninth round with a butcher knife.  They said they had come into the territory some two or three days before the election and intended to go back as soon as the election was over.  They said they did not intend to settle here.  The men I talked with said they came from Carroll County.  I saw men here from Lexington that I was acquainted with, but had little conversation with them.  I do not recollect of seeing any men from other places I was acquainted with.

By Mr. Woodson:
The men I was talking with said that eastern men were coming up the river with pasted on the front of their hats, in large letters, that they intended to make Kansas a free state, and that they considered they had as good a right to come here and vote as the eastern men.  I did not hear any other reason given.

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  • Susan - August 18, 2011 - 8:08 am

    A botched affair is one of the kinder characterizations of that election. This adds so much depth to your knowledge of John Davidson. It’s wonderful when we can place people at a significant event or point in time. To have the first person account – what a great find!ReplyCancel

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