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Kansas History

Pottawatomie Massacre

Five Men Killed

["New York Tribune," 12 June 1856, page 6, column 2]
Horrible stories are told in Missouri of the murder of five Pro Slavery men at Osawattamie. It is said that their throats were cut, and their corpses mangled and chopped into inches. Of course, the Free-State party, as a party - every Northern man and every Southern men with Northern principles - in the Territory, is accused by the organs of the ruffians with this imaginary and revolting atrocity.

It is stated their houses were entered at midnight, and the victims of this outrage murdered in their beds.

I remained a day in Prairie City, in order to find out the truth of this report. I sent a messenger to Osawattamie to investigate the circumstances.

The facts, of course, refute the Missouri version of the affair.

Five men were killed. There is no doubt of that fact.

Their names are William Sherman, better known as Dutch henry; a father and two sons, named Doyle; and Mr. Wilkinson, a Member of the House of Representatives of hte Bogus Kansas Legislature.

They were shot by a party of Free-State boys - at least I infer so, from the cause of their summary execution.

These men have bullied and threatened the lives of the Northern Squatters in that section ever since the invasion of November last. Doyle and his sons have been particularly active in harassing and assaulting the Free-State men.

On the day on which these men were killed, a flag inscribed, "Headquarters ofthe Pro-Slavery Army," was hoisted over Sherman's store. A free-State man went in and inquired the price of powder. The man told him he charged ten cents a pound to Pro-Slavery men, but as he was a d--d nigger thief he would have to pay twenty-five cents.

Some angry words passed between the parties. Wilkinson then seized on the squatter and told him that as he refused to acknowledge the Territorial laws as valid enactments they would give him a lesson to teach him what his principles would lead to. They said he ought to have been hanged long ago; and now as they had him in their power, by G--d they would give him his due.

They kept him confined an hour or two. After dusk they took him out, went down with him to the woods, limb of a tree, and were prepared to hoist him up.

The report of five rifles were heard simultaneously with this unexpected command. Five corpses - the bodes of the Doyles, Sherman and Wilkinson were seen stretched on the grass as soon as the smoke cleared away.

"Fly!" cried the same voice who had given the order to fire.

The man whose life was so mysteriously and unexpectedly saved, as soon as he removed the rope from his neck, went into the woods and shouted for his friends.

But they had disappeared as suddenly and mysteriously as they came.

This act will be made the excuse for arresting every man in that section of the State who has made himself obnoxious, or is likely to be a leader in defending the lives and property of Northern men.

The boys of Lawrence have recently packed up, out of the river and streets, several small boxes of type, formerly used in setting up the Free State newspaper and The Herald of Freedom. Before the editors of these journals emigrated from the States, one of them was a National Democrat, the other a Free Soil Whig"fused."

The boys have the types of both offices, and molded them into Sharp's rifle balls! Whether they will not be more dangerous to tyranny in their present form than they were before Lecompton ordered the destruction of the offices, is a problem which will be solved are long.

Mr. Westfall, a Free-State man, formerly from Missouri, received notice to leave his house and property without delay, on Wednesday morning last, from a gang of Pro-Slavery men at Palmyra. They hunted for him several days, and finding that they could not arrest him, informed his wife and another lady residing with him that if he did not quit in less than a week, they would burn his house to the ground. It will be remembered that Dr. Westfall gave damning testimony before the Congressional Investigating Committee. He and his friends, it appears, must be punished for their evidence.

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