In 1857 Augusta, indeed the originator of this book through her three bound journals, which I inherited, met Sara Robinson, the plucky abolitionist wife of the first elected Governor of Kansas Territory. She had written a book, while in a P.O.W. camp with her husband. It so impressed Augusta that after Eldorado was founded and she settled down there, she began planning a book about their pre Civil War adventures traveling to the Kansas Territory. Arriving there in the summer of 1856 at the height of the abolitionist ...
In 1857 Augusta, indeed the originator of this book through her three bound journals, which I inherited, met Sara Robinson, the plucky abolitionist wife of the first elected Governor of Kansas Territory. She had written a book, while in a P.O.W. camp with her husband. It so impressed Augusta that after Eldorado was founded and she settled down there, she began planning a book about their pre Civil War adventures traveling to the Kansas Territory. Arriving there in the summer of 1856 at the height of the abolitionist immigration, they met General Jim Lane, and John Brown, who gave each girl a Bowie knife, helped organize and defend these early abolitionists' settlements. Shortly after arriving her father joined Jim Lane's militia and fought several battles against proslavery companies. His company was captured by the U.S. Army and put into a P.O.W. camp for several months. In the spring of '57 Sam Stewart, Augusta's father, organized a small group of abolitionists to go west into the territory to form some new settlements and a new voting district. By June they had founded Eldorado and planted the first crops. The girls joined him that fall. That winter Augusta and her sister Adda were entertaining some friends in Eldorado in their tent. Among the guests from Lawrence was Captain Joe Cracklin, who had named the town and was a cofounder, asked Augusta what she intended to do with all of her notes and journal entries. She said she intended to follow Sara Robinson's example and write her own book on these early years of the Kansas Territory. However the business of running a household, which often included board and room for prospective settlers, building a saw mill and a sorghum mill, the distractions caused by her father's murder. her husband's death, her move to the Gold Fields of Kansas and finally settling down with her new husband (a co owner of a gold mine in Colorado Territory) in another new territory, Montana, were all good reasons for procrastination. 150 years later, using her 2,000 journal entries (180,000 words) and other references, these books begin to fulfill her ambition. Volume I is about Hope and intentions bordering on the spiritual. It takes us from Michigan as Sam, full of abolitionist zeal sells his sawmill and buys a "prairie schooner" and they commence their trek to the Kansas Territory ending with the founding of Eldorado. Volume 2 begins with a prairie romance. It includes several firsts for the new Town of Eldorado, the first funeral, first sawmill and first sorghum mill and ends with Sam (now a Territorial Legislator) in pursuit of a horse thief and his horses. Volume 3 is about tragedy. Sam's murder, Augusta's short but happy marriage, her husband's death and Adda's return to Lawrence. In 1860, after five years in the Territory the girls sell their claims, the two mills in Eldorado. return to Lawrence and buy a house. Adda marries a gunsmith, who in the early days of the Civil War recruits an all Black Regiment of slaves from hundreds flocking to freedom. In the summer of '63 Augusta, the young widow, leaves for the mountains with some friends from Eldorado and a job cooking for a mining outfit south of Denver's current site. Hopefully volume 4 will take us to the new gold strike in Alder Gulch and Virginia City: the new Territory of Montana. It's all there in Augusta's journal.
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