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"What John Brown Did In Kansas"

Andrew Johnson of Tennessee
United States House of Representatives, December 12 1859

The circumstances are stated in the evidence of Mr. Harris, which will be found in a report made by a committee of Congress, and republished in the Herald of Freedom of Kansas - a paper that has at its head for President, the name of a Republican, Mr. Chase, of Ohio, and Mr. Banks, of Massachusetts, for Vice President:

"The circumstances attending William Shermans's assassination are testified to by James Harris, of Franklin county, Kansas. Mr. Sherman was staying over night at the house of Harris, when, on the 25th of May, at about two o'clock, Captain John Brown and party came there, and after taking some property, and questioning Harris and others, Sherman was asked to walk out. Mr. Harris, in his affidavit, says: 'Old man Brown asked Mr. Sherman to go out with him, and Sherman then went out with Brown. I heard nothing more for about fifteen minutes. Two of the "northern army," as they styled themselves, stayed with us until they heard a cap burst, and then these two men left. Next morning, about ten o'clock, I found William Sherman dead, in the creek near my house. I was looking for him; as he had not come back, I thought he had been murdered. I took Mr. William Sherman (body) out of the creek and examined it. Mrs. Whiteman was with me. Sherman's skull was split open in two places, and some of his brains were washed out by the water; a large hole was cut in his breast, and his left hand was cut off, except a little piece of skin on one side.'"

This was the 24th of May. I will read from the same paper another extract:

"When the news of the threatened siege of Lawrence reached John Brown, jr., who was a member of the Topeka Legislature, he organized a company of about sixty men and marched toward Lawrence. Arriving at Palmyra, he learned of the sacking of the town, and the position of the people. He reconnoitered for a time in the vicinity, but finally marched back towards Ossawatomie. The night before reaching that place, when only a few miles away, they camped for the night. Old John Brown, who, we believe, was with the party, singled out with himself, seven men. These he marched to a point eight miles above the mouth of Pottawatomie creek, and called from their beds, at their several residences, at the hour of midnight, on the 24th of May, Allen Wilkinson, William Sherman, William P. Doyle, William Doyle, and Drury Doyle. All were found the next morning, by the road side, or in the highway, some with a gash in their heads and sides, and their throats cut; others with their skulls split open in two places, with holes in their breasts, and hands cut off."

He seems to have had a great passion for cutting off hands:

"No man in Knasas has pretended to deny that old John Brown led that murderous foray which massacred those men. Up to that period not a hair of old John Brown's head, or that of his sons, had been injured by the pro-slavery party.

"It was not until the 30th of August, three months after the Pottawatomie massacre, that the attack was made on Ossawatomie by the pro-slavery forces, and Frederick Brown, a son of old John, was killed."

To show all the facts in regard to the massacre of the 24th of May, I will read to the Senate the affidavits of some of the eye-witnesses of the transaction. Allen Wilkinson was a member of the Kansas Legislature - a quiet, inoffensive man. His widow, Louisa Jane Wilkinson, testified that on the night of the 24th of May, 1856, between the hours of midnight and daybreak, she thinks, a party of men came to the house where they were residing and forcibly carried her husband away; that they took him in the name of the "northern army," and that next morning he was found about one hundred and fifty yards from the house, dead. Mrs. Wilkinson was very ill at the time of measles. She says further:

"I begged them to let Mr. Wilkinson stay with me, saying that I was sick and helpless, and could not stay by myself. My husband also asked them to let him stay with me, until he could get some one to wait on me; told them that he would not run off, but he would be there the next day, or whenever called for; the old man who seemed to be in command looked at me, and then around at the children, and replied, 'you have neighbors.' I said, 'so I have, but they are not here, and I cannot go for them.' The old man replied, 'it matters not,' and told him to get ready. My husband wanted to put on his boots, and get ready, so as to be protected from the damp and night air, but they would not let him. They then took my husband away."

"After they were gone I thought I heard my husband's voice in complaint." * * * "Next morning Mr. Wilkinoson's body was found about one hundred and fifty yards from the house, in some dead brush. A lady who saw my husband's body said that there was a gash in his head and side. Others said he was cut in the throat twice."

Mr. Doyle and his sons were murdered on the same night with Sherman and Wilkinson; and Mrs. Doyle's deposition gives this account of it:

"The undersigned, Mahala Doyle, states on oath: I am the widow of the late James P. Doyle. We moved into the Territory - that is, my husband, myself, and children - moved into the Territory of Kansas some time in November, A. D. 1855, and settled upon Musketo creek, about one mile from its mouth, and where it empties into Pottawatomie creek, in Franklin county. On Saturday, the 24th of May, A. D. 1855, about eleven o'clock at night, after we had all retired, my husband, James P. Doyle, myself, and six children, five boys and one girl - the eldest is about twenty-two years of age; his name is William. The next is about twenty years of age; his name is Drury. The next is about seventeen years of age; his name is John. The next is about thirteen years of age; her name is Polly Ann. The next is about eight years of age; is name is James. The next is about five years of age; his name is Henry. We were all in bed, when we heard some persons come into the yard, and rap at the door, and call for Mr. Doyle, my husband. This was about eleven o'clock on Saturday night, of the 24th of May last. My husband got up and went to the door. Those outside inquired for Mr. Wilkinson, and where he lived. My husband said he would tell them. Mr. Doyle, my husband, and several came into the house, and said they were from the army. My husband was a pro-slavery man. They told my husband that he and the boys must surrender; they were then prisoners. The men were armed with pistols and large knives. They first took my husband out of the house; then took two of my sons - William and Drury - out, and then took my husband and these two boys (William and Drury) away. My son John was spared, because I asked them, in tears, to spare him.

"In a short time afterwards I heard the report of pistols; I heard two reports. After which I heard moaning as if a person was dying. Then I heard a wild whoop. They had asked before they went away for our horses. We told them that our horses were out on the prairie. My husband and two boys, my sons, did not come back any more. I went out next morning in search of them, and found my husband and William, my son, lying dead in the road, near together, about two hundred yards from the house. They were buried the next day. On the day of the burying, I saw the dead body of Drury. Fear for myself and the remaining children, induced me to leave the home where we had been living. We had improved our claim a little. I left and went to the State of Missouri."

"MAHALA her X mark DOYLE",

"Witness:"T. J. GOFORTH."

STATE OF MISSOURI, Jackson county, ss.

ON the 17th day of June, A. D. 1856, personally appeared before me, the subscriber, a justice of the peace in and for the county and State aforesaid,

The Congressional Globe The Official Proceedings of Congress, Published by John C. Rives, Washington, D. C.
Thirty-Sixth Congress, 1st Session, New Series...No. 7, Tuesday, December 13, 1859, pages 105-106

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