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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • First City History: James C. Stone loomed large over railway, Civil War

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  • In spring 1854, the U.S. Congress opened up the Kansas Territory to white settlement despite the territory already being inhabited by more than 10,000 Kickapoos, Delawares, Sacs, Foxes, Shawnees, and Pottawatomies, to name a few.
    The forced removal of thousands of Indians from eastern Kansas from 1854-1871 affected more Indians and occupied more government time than the celebrated exploits of the military against the more warlike Western tribes, according to Craig Miner and William E. Unrau in "The End of Indian Kansas, A Study in Cultural Revolution, 1854-1871."
    The land was not only needed for white settlement, but if Leavenworth and points further West were going to make it through the westward expansion, a railroad was needed. And, railroads required land to lay tracks.
    In 1858, treaties were made with the Pottawatomie Indians for 550,000 acres of land northwest of Topeka, and the Delaware treaty covered 225,000 acres, according to The Report of the United States Pacific Railway Commission including Testimony, 1888.
    The railroad was seen as a highway to future wealth, prosperity and greatness and would establish a chain that could never be broken from the Pacific and the Atlantic states, according to the Washington News on May 15, 1862.
    The man with this vision was James C. Stone.
    He was born in Madison, Ky., in December 1822, the son of Samuel and Nancy Stone. The lineage of the Stone Family can be traced back to William Stone, the second proprietary governor of Maryland. The Declaration of Independence bares his Great Uncle Thomas Stone’s signature and is referred to by the family as “Thomas the Signer.”
    Stone distinguished himself and rose to the rank of captain during the Mexican War, serving in the 1st Kentucky Cavalry under the command of General Zachary Taylor, who would later become the 12th U.S. president, according to Anderson Chenault Quisenberry's, "General Zachary Taylor and the Mexican War."
    Stone returned to Madison, where he married his wife, Matilda, in 1848. They would have two sons while living in Kentucky, James C., Jr., and Samuel.
    He came to Leavenworth in October 1858, according to his own account in The Report of the U.S. Pacific Railway Commission. Leavenworth had become a boom town and was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco.
    Stone, along with John McDowell, became part of the executive committee in control of the Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Railroad Company, with A.J. Isaacs joining once the railroad had gotten under way, according to Stone, who was railroad director.
    Thomas Ewing, Jr., was not a part of this original group as was written in David G. Taylor’s account of "Thomas Ewing, Jr. and the Origins of the Kansas Pacific Railway."
    According to Stone, Ewing did not join the group until much later and never held an executive office.
    Page 2 of 3 - The L.P.&W Railroad began a campaign for government assistance on Capitol Hill, but they weren’t the only railroad wanting government assistance — they were simply the one that campaigned hardest.
    Railroad president Stone hired a professional lobbyist to manage his campaign even though the Leavenworth company, like the Central Pacific of California, was only a paper railroad at this time, according to Dee Brown's "Hear that Lonesome Whistle Blow: The Epic Story of the Transcontinental Railroad."
    The L.P.&W. began negotiating with the Pottawatomie and Delaware tribes, and with the assistance of the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, it swindled both tribes out of thousands of acres of tribal land. The agreement was to pay $1.25 per acre for land that was selling elsewhere for $10 an acre.
    By this treaty, 50 miles of railroad is secured to the Territory of Kansas, without one dollar being paid from the territorial treasury or by the general governments. This is the first and greatest link in the great Pacific railway, west of Missouri, according to Brown.
    Despite all the negotiating, not one foot of track had been laid nor did it have an effect on investors. The beginning of the Civil War did not slow the railroad effort at all. In spring 1862, Thomas Durant joined the lobbyist.
    Known for his persuasive powers, Durant worked at Congress to build the transcontinental railroad across Nebraska from Omaha.
    It soon became apparent to all sides that Missouri Ruffians and the raids of Quantrill were putting the railroad in jeopardy. The goal of the L.P.&W. Railroad was to make Lawrence the first link of the Western chain.
    It hardly seemed plausible. If the Civil War had not been in progress, the powerful lobby of the Leavenworth group quite likely would have swung Congress to their choice as the first links in a transcontinental railroad, Brown wrote.
    The Confederates were raising hell with Missouri railroads, wrecking trains, blowing up bridges and capturing trainmen.
    Washington decided that a more northern route through Nebraska would likely be more successful than risking the rails being laid through "Bloody Kansas."
    So, the Leavenworth, Pawnee, and Western Railroad was eventually built to the Western Border of Kansas and the name was changed to the Kansas Pacific. In 1863, the name was once again changed to the Union Pacific Eastern Division.
    Despite his age, Stone became involved in the Civil War. He was promoted to adjutant general of the state of Kansas, raising and organizing nearly all of the troops that the state sent to the front during that period, according to the Leavenworth Times on Dec. 19, 1901. From that time on, he was referred to as General Stone.
    The Delaware and Pottawatomie Indians were never paid for their land.
    Page 3 of 3 - More on this later …

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