The Role of Newspapers in Kansas Territory

I felt an immediate affinity for my guest this month, Linda S. Johnston.Pub photo 2 copy  Not only are we the eastern stronghold of Women Writing the West, but we have both lived in Great Britain and have both moved house an inordinate amount of times. While I beat Linda in years spent in the U.K., she certainly outdoes me in moves—more than fifteen, including places as diverse as Margate,  England; Seattle, Washington;  and Roswell, New Mexico. But it was when she landed in Kansas in 1986 and began reading pioneer diaries that she felt a connection to the emigrants; she knew the emotions of packing up and moving on, leaving familiar places and faces for the unknown.  As a writer, artist and naturalist, she combines history, art and nature in her writing as is evident in her first book, Hope Amid Hardship: Pioneer Voices from Kansas Territory.      

After extensive research to bring the personal writings of these settlers to others, and share the happier side of pioneer life, Linda is quite an expert on the role of newspapers in Kansas Territory. I’m delighted for her to be here to share her thoughts with you. ***********************************************************************                           “The Press, Watson, is a most valuable institution, if you only know how to use it.” –Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of the Six Napoleons/ The Adventure of the Crooked Man

      Indeed, people did know how to use the press in regards to Kansas Territory. Perhaps not exactly the way Arthur Conan Doyle meant, but between 1855 and 1860 over 98,000 people settled in Kansas Territory and in some way, newspapers touched them all.

Newspapers served a number of roles in the new territory, carved out of the Louisiana Purchase by the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act.  For the prospective pioneer, eastern newspapers offered various types of information on the frontier – travel advice, encouragement (“The man who comes here self-reliant will do well”), and news that consisted mainly of debate on the slavery issue. When Kansas Territory was established, it was left to the citizens to decide whether the future state would enter the union as a slave state or free state.  Newspapers of both persuasions were up and running early in Leavenworth, Lawrence, and Topeka, the first towns to be settled.  Once the emigrants had arrived in their adopted communities, local newspapers provided national and world news as well as information on entertainment, business, and agriculture.  Feature articles covered holidays, social events, and the virtues of women. And lest readers become discouraged with their new life, papers such as the Herald of Freedom and Kansas Tribune, offered words of hope.

Eastern cities kept up with events in Kansas through reporters, families of settlers, and subscribers who traveled west, becoming pioneer correspondents.

Julia Lovejoy, courtesy of Kansas Historical Society

Julia Lovejoy, courtesy of Kansas Historical Society

Julia Louisa Lovejoy settled in Kansas in 1855 with her husband and children.  Two weeks after arriving, despite being heartbroken after the death of her young daughter, Julia began reporting to her “New England friends” on the pages of her hometown Concord, New Hampshire, Independent Democrat.

Mouth of the Big Blue River, K.            

May 22d, 1855            

We arrived at our intended home about two weeks ago, and, notwithstanding the Vacant spot in the home circle, and our own desolate hearts, we must pronounce this the most charming country our eyes ever beheld. . . It seems to us impossible that any spot on earth, uncultivated by art, can be more inviting in appearance than this country.

Editors kept the spotlight on Kansas with not only political news, but also geographic, demographic, and economic coverage.  On December 25, 1858, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper devoted its front page to the “Cities of Kansas” featuring Lawrence, Leavenworth, and Topeka.  Horace Greeley, influential editor of the New York Tribune ran stories from young reporter, James Redpath, who went west in 1856 and reported on the volatile atmosphere in the Territory, keeping Northern readers informed of the struggles between slavery and anti-slavery factions.

New Kansans kept up with elections, conventions, and territorial constitutions by reading the latest edition of their local paper.  The presses themselves made news

courtesy of Kansas Historical Society

courtesy of Kansas Historical Society

when the offices of the Herald of Freedom and the Kansas Free State were looted and equipment destroyed during the sack of Lawrence in May 1856.

Kansas newspapers brought national and world news to their readers, often juxtaposed with feature articles. In 1855, the Lawrence Herald of Freedom reported on the annexation of the Sandwich Islands to the United States as well as the fall of Sevastopol during the Crimean War. In May 1857, the article “Ocean Telegraph” provided an update on the laying of wire in the Atlantic. Just below that article, a piece entirely devoted to “Female Delicacy” touted the many features of the female character but pointed out that “delicacy stands foremost within the province of good taste.” In addition, newspapers often provided helpful hints, such as how to preserve flowers and the many uses of cotton cloth, one being as roofing material.

In the growing, and sometimes struggling, new communities of Kansas, newspapers offered encouragement to new citizens, sometimes in the form of poetry.  “Try Again” appeared in the June 9, 1855 edition of the Lawrence Herald of Freedom:

How oft has disappointment marred

Some cherished plan of mine,

And bid winter clouds appear

Where summer’s sun should shine;

Yet as they darker grew,

I’ve seen some wondrous pen

Upon the very blackest write

The sentence, “Try again.”

        Many early settlers in Kansas went for just that reason – to try again.  Eager to establish a better life for their families, trades people of all kinds arrived. Advertisements for new businesses, including ones for an ice cream store and a bookbinder, filled columns in local papers. There seemed to be an ad for each segment of the growing population, including those feeling under the weather: “To Invalids: Cornstarch, tapioca, arrow root, and rice for sale.”  For those in need of feathers, they were available “by the pound for feather bolsters and pillows.”  And to farmers, interested in setting up housekeeping, this ad:  “To Farmers:  Corn shucks and oat straw wanted in exchange for furniture.”

Also for farmers, newspapers offered information on crops.  “How to” articles appeared on planting Osage Orange trees as hedges and sowing turnip seed. Pumpkins, buckwheat, and sorghum made headlines as bumper crops were harvested. For farmers and shopkeeper alike, social activities meant time to visit with friends and neighbors. From the arrival of Mabie’s Circus to the meeting of the Lawrence Sewing Circle, community gatherings were important events and reported accordingly.

Lastly, newspapers provided a link between family and friends – a way to exchange information from hometown to prairie and back again. For a homesick son or daughter, a hometown paper was a welcome and cherished gift to be read over and over. For a parent or friend in the East, news from the Territory kept them informed about the place their loved one had chosen to begin a new life.

Linda has very kindly offered to give one print copy of Hope Amid Hardship: Pioneer Voices from Kansas Territory to one person leaving a comment.  The lucky individual will be announced on or about 23rd April.

Despite the challenges of loneliness, drought, and political turmoil Kansas HAH Cover smlpioneers faced, many found and wrote about joy and beauty in their adopted communities. Letters and diaries describe the times that gave them reason to sing, dance, and celebrate – moments when their burdens were lighter.  This beautifully illustrated volume brings together reflections of sixty individuals of different ages, backgrounds, and outlooks who helped shape the identity of the Sunflower State.

Linda Johnston can be found at and

Hope Amid Hardship can be purchased at



Springtime in the Rockies & the Oysters are Here!


Thanks so much to everyone who joined in.  The winner of the free digital copy of LOVELAND is Kathy O!

Continue reading

They Don’t Drive Pickups in New York

photo-4I was leafing through Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly of April, 1892, in the hope of finding some material with which to greet the (hopefully) coming spring when I happened upon a romantic story entitled, ‘The Owner of LT Ranch.’ Continue reading

What is Sharing and why do you need to encourage it?

I’m pleased to have literary promotion experts Babs Hightower and Barb Drozdowich with me today to give a little insight into the world of social media. Continue reading


I met Steven Kohlhagen through the American Westerns group of Goodreads. Steve kindly complimented me on the article I had written regarding posterity and memoirs, one of which was Buffalo Bill Cody’s Story of the West.  Steve’s latest book, Where They Bury You,WhereTheyBuryYou_v1 partially concerns Kit Carson, and Carson was one of the men Cody had memorialized.  Carson’s scorched earth policy, used to remove the Navajo from their homeland, is something that, today, denigrates the man’s other accomplishments as a frontiersman.  Yet, Cody claimed that the policy had actually saved lives. I therefore approached Steve to find out what his own research had uncovered. Continue reading

A Call to Glory: The Last US Cavalry Campaign

Paul Colt

Paul Colt

I’m pleased to have Paul Colt return to this site this month. Paul, who hopefully needs no introduction by now, has a new book out.  Boots and Saddles:  A Call to Glory has had a splendid review in Publisher’s Weekly:  “Colt’s novel is hyped as a story about George Patton’s early career as a cavalry officer in the U.S. Army, but really is much more. The Patton angle is certainly interesting, but it’s Colt’s sweeping and historically vivid portrayal of the punitive expedition, American and Mexican relations, and German double-dealing that really makes this novel an exciting and stunning success.”  Let’s hear more: Continue reading

Until Our Paths Meet Again–Native American Wisdom

When I was beginning to think of what I might post for my December blog, the month of Christmas and Chanukah, I happened upon an old post on the website of fellow Wild Rose Press author, Beth Trissel. It struck me immediately—old American Indian sayings that were far more spiritual than any Christmas card I’ve ever received.  I asked Beth if she would consent to reposting this piece here on my website and, happily, she consented.

Beth lives with her husband on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, surrounded by children, grandchildren, and many animals. She is the author of The Native American Warrior series: Red Bird’s Song, Through the Fire, The Bearwalker’s Daughter, Kira, Daughter of the Moon, a short story The Lady and the Warrior. and colonial American Christmas romance novella A Warrior for Christmas. She also writes paranormal romance as well as nonfiction about gardening, herbal lore, and country life.

Beth Trissel and friends resizedBETH TRISSEL:

Thanks for inviting me to repost my Native American sayings on your lovely blog, Andrea. I’ve collected these quotes over the years and am a huge fan of American Indians, with a particular interest in Eastern woodland tribes, especially the Shawnee. My early American ancestors had interactions with this tribe. Some were killed and taken captive during the French and Indian war and other conflicts. The events recorded in old annals inspired the first novel I ever wrote, award-winning historical romance novel, Red Bird’s Song. The outstanding hero in that story, Wicomechee, is based on an actual Shawnee warrior to whom I have family ties. There’s more on the real Wicomechee at the end of the novel as a perk for readers. The events behind many of my novels are based on research and family genealogy. Now, back to the quotes. I hope your readers appreciate them:

“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors; we borrow it from our Children.”  ~ Ancient Indian Proverb

“Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart.” ~Old Indian saying

“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” ~ Cherokee ExpressionNewborn Native American infant and mother

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. We are a part of the earth and it is part of us.” ~Chief Seattle, Duwamish

“Lose your temper and you lose a friend; lie and you lose yourself.” ~Hopi

Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find money cannot be eaten.–Cree Prophecy

“May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house. May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there.  May your moccasins make happy tracks in many snows, and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder.” ~ Cherokee Prayer Blessing

Native American man handsomeWakan Tanka, Great Mystery, teach me how to trust my heart, my mind, my intuition, my inner knowing, the senses of my body, the blessings of my spirit. Teach me to trust these things so that I may enter my Sacred Space and love beyond my fear, and thus Walk in Balance with the passing of each glorious Sun.” ~ Lakota Prayer

“Honor the sacred. Honor the Earth, our Mother. Honor the Elders.
Honor all with whom we  share the Earth:-
Four-leggeds, two-leggeds, winged ones,
Swimmers, crawlers, plant and rock people.
Walk in balance and beauty.” ~Native American Elder

“O’ Great Spirit, help me always to speak the truth quietly, to listen with an open mind when others speak, and to remember the peace that may be found in silence.” ~ Cherokee Prayer

“We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.” ~ Qwatsinas, Nuxalk Nation

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” ~ Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator

“…Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.” ~ Mourning Dove, Salish

“The Great Spirit is in all things, he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us, that which we put into the ground she returns to us….” ~Big Thunder (Bedagi) Wabanaki Algonquin

“One does not sell the land people walk on.” ~Crazy Horse, Oglala Sioux, Sept. 23, 1875SONY DSC

“Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun. Will we let ourselves be destroyed in our turn without a struggle, give up our homes, our country bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead and everything that is dear and sacred to us? I know you will cry with me, ‘Never! Never!’” ~The Great Chief Tecumseh~ Shawnee (My absolute favorite chief)

“When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”  ~Chief Aupumut, Mohican. 1725

“From Wakan-Tanka, the Great Mystery, comes all power. It is from Wakan-Tanka that the holy man has wisdom and the power to heal and make holy charms. Man knows that all healing plants are given by Wakan-Tanka; therefore they are holy. So too is the buffalo holy, because it is the gift of Wakan-Tanka.” – Flat-Iron (Maza Blaska) Oglala Sioux Chief

“When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them.” ~ Chief Seattle, Duwamish

“I am a red man. If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place. He put in your heart certain wishes and plans, in my heart he put other and different desires. Each man is good in his sight. It is not necessary for Eagles to be Crows. We are poor…but we are free. No white man controls our footsteps. If we must die…we die defending our rights.” ~ Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa–Head of the Circle–Lakota SiouxNative American, Tribal Chief, Old West, Wild West, warrior

“I will follow the white man’s trail. I will make him my friend, but I will not bend my back to his burdens. I will be cunning as a coyote. I will ask him to help me understand his ways, then I will prepare the way for my children, and their children. The Great Spirit has shown me – a day will come when they will outrun the white man in his own shoes.”~ Many Horses, Oglala Lakota

“If you talk to the animals they will talk with you
and you will know each other.  If you do not talk to them
you will not know them, and what you do not know
you will fear.  What one fears one destroys.” ~Chief Dan George, author, poet and actor,  Tsleil Waututh


Beth has very kindly agreed to give away 3 digital copies of Red Bird’s Song, redbirdssong_w4782_300either pdf or kindle, to selected readers leaving a comment.  The winners are Alice Trego, Jo Ricker and Dee Thomas.  Happy reading to you all and thanks to Beth for her generosity.

Can a Scots-Irish woman terrified of warriors fall in love with her Shawnee captor?
Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn’t how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather’s vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl.
George III’s English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts.
As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.
For more on Beth, visit her blog:  Visit Beth’s Amazon Author Page    Catch her on Facebook, Twitter @bethtrissel, Pinterest (
Photo of Crazy Horse monument by Cristal Downing; all other photos supplied by Beth Trissel


Destiny’s Manifest – What the Pioneers Packed for the Emigrant Trails

Copy_of_LaDene_Morton_Author_PhotoLaDene Morton and I first met at the Women Writing the West Conference in 2012.  LaDene, who writes both fiction and non-fiction, served this year as VP Conference for WWW in her home town of Kansas City, MO—a place of particular interest in her writing, which centers on the American West. Her historical fiction, What Lies West, was a 2010 Finalist in the WWW WILLA competition.  Continue reading


     Readers of this column will know that I generally write on topics pertaining to either the American West or literature, as do my frequent guests.  But the title of the blog includes the words, “My World” and, as it happens, that in turn includes New York.  There are numerous things about which I could write concerning New  York  but the one thing I like best is…the food! Continue reading

Why I Ride by Amy Hale Auker

Amy Hale Auker

Amy Hale Auker

Fellow member of Women Writing the West, Amy Hale Auker, is a Texan now living in Arizona, a writer, mother, and cowboy.She writes and rides in the Santa Maria Mountains with her husband, singer/songwriter Gail Steiger.  Her first book, Rightful Place, was the 2011 WILLA winner for creative non-fiction and Foreword Book Reviews’ Book of the Year for essays. Continue reading