Washington Marlatt’s 1856 Journal

Screen Shot 2019-10-19 at 10.47.07 AM
Washington Marlatt as he appeared when he first came to Kansas Territory in 1856. His original “Kansas Journal” chronicling his journey from Indiana has never been previously published. Journal & Image provided though the courtesy of Sally Nield.

Recently I had the privilege of transcribing the original journal kept by Washington Marlatt as he traveled to Kansas Territory in the spring of 1856. This journal is currently in the hands of Sally Nield, a descendant of the Kansas pioneer whose name is so prominently linked to the history of Manhattan, Kansas, and with the Blue Mont Central College that has morphed into what is today Kansas State University. She graciously allowed me to publish it on-line before depositing it permanently in an appropriate archive.

As a means of introducing this journal, I have chosen to use a previously unpublished paper by Marlatt’s son, Charles L. Marlatt, who framed the piece from voluminous papers he inherited from his father—this portion entitled “Post-Graduate Years in Indiana; 1853-1856.” I find that it serves as a suitable introduction to the journal. — Will Griffing, October 2019


“The interval between his graduation from Asbury College [now De Pauw University] in 1853 and his journey to Kansas [Territory] in the spring of 1856 was spent at home near Milton, Indiana. Following his graduation, his father had presented him with the original ‘home place’ on the White Water in Indiana where he was born. He immediately took over the management of this farm, but at the same time was feeling about for some other career for which he evidently felt his college training ought to have fitted him. Unfortunately the training at Asbury [was a typical “classical” education], centered largely about Latin and Greek, with some philosophy and history, &c., and left the graduate totally unqualified for an technical field, and for the “learned professions” he must enter on a period of several years additional training.

“His college influences and surroundings had given him a strong religious bent, resulting in his experimenting a little in the field of the ministry. From an old renewal slip found among his papers, it appears that he had been licensed as a lay preacher by the Methodist Episcopal Church in Indiana, the license bearing date of 4 August 1854—the year after his graduation.

“During this period, as he told me, he had been a constant reader of the writings of Horace Greeley—owner and editor of the New York Tribune—and as a result became fired with zeal to follow the latter’s urgings and, “go West and grow up with the country.” With this in mind, during his last year in Indiana, he arranged his crops so that they would require little summer care—planting in fall to wheat for July harvest. Then, with his gold strapped about his waist and with his carpet bag, he entered on his first adventure of freedom—destined to govern his whole after life—in the trip he had determined upon to the newly opened Territory of Kansas, then in the throes of a crusade to prevent its becoming a slave state.

“Brief daily notes were kept during the trip continuing through the first weeks in Kansas Territory (April 23 to May 31st, 1856). These notes, entitled “Kansas Journal” were found, in pencil, on some pages that had been left blank in the last college diary—that of 1850, and are well worth perpetuating as giving the means and incidents of travel of the period—particularly in Kansas where it was altogether on foot! Later this journal was made the basis, in 1872, of a more complete account in his “Kansas Reminiscences, Recollections of Ten Years on the Frontier,” the publication of which began in 1872 in the Manhattan Beacon.

“… In a sentence summary, the journal gives the incidents of his journey by rail, steamboat, and on foot from Indiana to Manhattan, Kansas, his experiences in ‘claim hunting’ in eastern and central Kansas [along the Blue, Republican and Smokey Hill bottoms], and his final choice for location [some three or four miles south of Manhattan and the Kansas River.]” — Charles L. Marlatt

Go to Marlatt’s Kansas Journal


Spared & Shared 21

Saving history one letter at a time.

Spared & Shared 20

Saving history one letter at a time

Notes on Western Scenery, Manners, &c.

by Washington Marlatt, 1848

Spared & Shared 19

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Recollections of Army Life

by Charles A. Frey

The Civil War Letters of William Kennedy

Co. B, 91st New York Infantry

The Glorious Dead

Letters from the 23rd Illinois Infantry, the 111th Pennsylvania Infantry, the 64th New York Infantry, and the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Cornelius Van Houten

1st New Jersey Light Artillery

Letters of Charley Howe

36th Massachusetts Volunteers

Sgt. Major Fayette Lacey

Co. B, 37th Illinois Volunteers

"These few lines"

the pocket memorandum of Alexander C. Taggart

The Civil War Letters of Will Dunn

Co. F, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers

Henry McGrath Cannon

Co. A, 124th New York Infantry & Co. B, 16th New York Cavalry

Civil War Letters of Frederick Warren Holmes

Co. H, 77th Illinois Volunteers

"Though distant lands between us be"

Civil War Letters of Monroe McCollister, Co. B, 6th OVC

"Tell her to keep good heart"

Civil War Letters of Nelson Statler, 211th PA

Building Bluemont

The Origin of Bluemont Central College

"May Heaven Protect You"

14th Connecticut drummer boy's war-time correspondence with his mother

Moreau Forrest

Lt. Commander in the US Navy during the Civil War

Diary of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry

Fighting with the Irish Brigade during the Peninsula Campaign

"Till this unholy rebellion is crushed"

Letters of Dory & Morty Longwood, 7th Indiana

"I Go With Good Courage"

The Civil War Letters of Henry Clay Long, 11th Maine Infantry

"This is a dreadful war"

The Civil War Letters of Jacob Bauer, 16th Connecticut, & his wife Emily

Spared & Shared 16

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Lloyd Willis Manning Letters

3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, Co. I

The Yankee Volunteer

A Virtual Archive of Civil War Likenesses collected by Dave Morin

William Henry Jordan

Co. K, 7th Rhode Island Infantry

No Cause to Blush

The Bancroft Collection of Civil War Letters

William A. Bartlett Civil War Letters

Company D, 37th Massachusetts Infantry

The John Hughes Collection

A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

The Civil War Letters of Rufus P. Staniels

Co. H, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers

This is Indeed A Singular War

The Civil War Letters of Henry Scott Murray, 8th New York Light Artillery

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started