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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Grandview Farmhouse Features 140 Years of Grand History

Sometimes I feel like a detective of the past, trying with all my strength, wit and might to peel back the layers of the facts that have emerged and digging for more. There is always more to find. Any historian or genealogist can tell you this.

In my last post, I exposed the little-known story of the Vaughn family, their homestead lying two miles from present-day downtown Grandview and three miles from the now-demolished border town of New Santa Fe. 
Arrington Road as it winds toward the house

When I drove the two lane, windy road of 139th Street from Martin City back in November to get a glimpse of the land the Vaughn's owned, I was astonished at the scenery that had, before this point, eluded me. 

I'd never been down this country road that hasn't changed in over 150 years. With every curve, my anticipation mounted. Just past Prospect Avenue at 139th, the street swerved to a hard left, turning into Arrington Road in Grandview, Mo.

And there it was.

I slowed down to a crawl. Atop one of the numerous rolling hills of Washington Township, on the edge of Grandview at 13811 Arrington Road- on land that once was inundated with the Border Wars, Jayhawker attacks and even birthed a few of the infamous Quantrill Guerrillas- stood a stunning home with a canary yellow door that took me back to a time when pioneers persevered and pushed past some of the horrors of the era.

I knew from the architectural style that it didn't date to the period of Josiah Vaughn's ownership, but I certainly knew it was old.
The Wyatt House- cir. 1879 at 13811 Arrington Road as it appears today

So that means the house has a story. And houses have memories deep within the crevasses of each floorboard, trim piece and original window.  

The earliest history of this very land can be read in my post from January where I covered the birth of hatred that mutated into the hunting of free state Jayhawkers with William Quantrill (to read this, click here! A Quantrill Raider's Revenge on the Border and Beyond)

It should be noted that after the Civil War, these pioneer families persisted and rebuilt what they could, many leaving the wreckage of Missouri.

But others had opted to overcome. Josiah Vaughn was one of these men.

And so was Wyley Wyatt.

When I first laid eyes on this historic home nestled far away from suburban subdivisions, cityscapes and crowded streets, I needed to know more. When I found out it was built by a man named Wyley Wyatt, I was sold.

I mean, come on. This guy's name is awesome! 

Thus I am going to reveal to you the story of a brave dude who started from scraps and built himself a sturdy, beautiful home on land that had already seen so much.
William Wyatt (1782-1856) headstone
at the Blue Ridge Cemetery

Wyley was born in North Carolina on October 12, 1839. He was the youngest son of William and Mary (Landreth) Wyatt. At 12 years old in 1851, Wyley and his family moved by covered wagon to Jackson County, Mo.  The nearest large settlement at this time was Westport, and the birth of New Santa Fe on the border between Missouri and Kansas was in the same year he settled with his family nearby.

He was the youngest of fifteen children. Gulp.

His oldest brother, Solomon Wyatt (the oldest of the fifteen and 30 years older than Wyley) was also a well-known Grandview area settler, deeply impacted by the strife of settlement so close to the border as things over the next fifteen years became extremely shaky.

When Wyley was 16 years old, his father passed away. As the youngest and one of the only still living at home, he took on the tough role of taking care of his mother- right in the heart of the Border Wars.

Simply stated, Wyley was poor. He had no means or financial assistance to help him emerge from what was dealt to him. But during this time period, it was expected- not miraculous- to power through and make your own way.

So he did.

Even with his mother in tow, Wyley picked up the pieces and married Sarah Maxwell, a family friend deeply connected to the southern cause.

His mother, Mary passed away just months before the Civil War began, and Wyley's choices became apparent.... Fight or stay.
The Battle of Lone Jack, one of the events of the Civil War that Wyley was a part of.
From a reenactment for the 150th Anniversary in 2012
Courtesy of Phil Peterson

With everything that Wyley witnessed on the lands where his family had settled in 1851, it should be no surprise that he opted to join the Confederate ranks.

And the first skirmish he witnessed? A battle on his own brother, Solomon's farm off Blue Ridge Blvd. in Washington Township, Jackson County, Mo.

Wyatt knew he was in danger. His brother, Solomon, was a known supporter of Quantrill and his gang. Too old to fight, Solomon participated by offering assistance to these border ruffians.

In an article in the Wichita Daily Times, featuring the nationwide headline of Frank James' death in February 1915, Solomon Wyatt's son named Wiley Wyatt (named after his uncle), described meeting Frank and Jesse James when they were part of Quantrill's Guerrillas. He recalled a battle with federal troops on his father's land and that the men were expert marksman.
Headline in the Wichita Daily Times, Wichita Falls, Tx.
February 21, 1915

Quantrill's men would race their horses full tilt and shoot each other's hats off. They were so accurate that according to Wiley "they would practice near our house, sometimes each one running his horse around a tree and firing a pistol in each hand. They were such perfect shots that the balls cut down the tree almost as smooth as if it had been sawed down."

It wasn't safe with all of this activity for Wyley to stick around - especially being a Confederate. His wife, Susan had to hide him in a wagon-box and drive the way out of town.

The war was lost. Wyley and most of all the men from the area had to start fresh. When many today would have checked out from the pressures of pioneer life, he pushed forward.

By 1866, he and his young family moved to Johnson County, Ks. He built a small cabin, only 12x14 feet, where he lived with his wife and four children under the age of seven.

Uh... Seriously?! 

Wyley's 80 acres of land in Johnson County would be between where Roe and Mission Rd. are today and was just south of 127th St. 

Josiah Vaughn's probate record showing record of payments made by Wyley Wyatt for the homestead

By 1879, Wyley, his wife and his eight children opted to move back to the land they knew well. It was time to move closer to family and build a more stable life.
The house as it appeared in 1985. It was constructed by
Wyley Wyatt between approx. 1879-1881.

Josiah Vaughn's death had opened up a unique opportunity to Wyley. Because Josiah's children had mostly moved out of the Jackson County, Mo. area, his land was up for the taking. And in 1879, Wyley began making payments to the estate so he could purchase 351 acres of choice land.

In a biography of Wyley Wyatt published in A Memorial Record of Kansas City in 1896, it states, "His persistent efforts in good management, together with the dawn of better days, have brought about a marvelous change in his financial condition."

Well, comparing his 12x14 shack in Johnson County to his home that still stands today, I'd have to agree.

A Wyatt family member recalled that while he built his home on current-day Arrington Rd., the family of ten lived in the chicken coop.
The entryway staircase, one of two
in the Wyatt House


This is just another reminder that we have it soooooo easy compared to these guys. I mean, a chicken coop? With ten people!?

Just another friendly reminder that I would have been dead in no time. Toast.

Time ticked by, and Wyley was the father of ten children: Mary (1860), William (1863), Sarah (1864), Robert (1866) Lorena (1872), Ada (1876), Lettie (1879), George (1881), Joseph (1883) and Stella (1886).

He built onto his home to make room, adding furnishings and necessities to make life comfortable for his children. They held school in the upstairs and learned the benefits of hard work and determination from Wyley firsthand.

As his children grew, they married and moved to start lives of their own. Youngest child, Joe, just as Wyley had done for his own mother, stuck around to ensure his parents were taken care of and were in need of nothing.
The side porch, the site of the original
entrance to the Wyatt House

Joseph (Joe) Wyatt and his wife Emma stayed nearby and built a small home across Arrington Rd. where they raised their son, Bob, born in 1909. Both Joe and his son tilled the land that Wyley had purchased.

On May 21, 1915, Wyley passed away at his home. Susan followed in 1926.

Joe took over the farm and moved into the "big two story house" as it was referred to- the house built up from the earth by his father, Wyley. Bob, his son, married Mildred Deffabaugh and took residence in the small house his father had built across the street.

In 1958, Joe Wyatt passed away.

In Wyley Wyatt-like fashion, Bob continued on and knew part of his job was to take care of his mother after his father passed away. And he did just that.

Emma continued to live in the two story home built by her father-in-law. Even in the 1960s, there was only power in some of the rooms and there was one bathroom on the main level. Bob's house, the original home his father built when helping Wyley take care of the land, was lived in by he and his wife, Mildred, a school teacher at Conn West Elementary.
Bob Wyatt (1909-1983)
Courtesy of the Kansas City Star

They didn't even have a bathroom inside their house.

Reminder: this was the 1960s!

Retired Grandview teacher Cindy Ledbetter Langensand fondly remembers Mrs. Wyatt, her second grade teacher at Conn West Elementary. "She was such a sweet lady. I'd go to their house on Sunday's and she would make us cookies," Cindy recalled. 

Cindy lived just up the hill and would walk down Arrington Rd. to visit in the late 1960s. Before she would leave, her mother gave her a staunch warning.

"She would always remind me, 'Don't ask to use the bathroom!'" Cindy affectionately recalled.

With no indoor plumbing, a nine-year old Cindy would have been lost when directed to the outhouse.

As Bob's mom, Emma aged, it became harder and harder for her to live alone in the old farmhouse. It became time to take some action.
The duplex today, the historic farmhouse in the background

And by my estimation, Bob was probably ready to have some indoor plumbing on those cold winter nights when nature called.

The solution? Bob built a duplex-style home just to the north of the house his grandfather had put his blood, sweat and tears into in the previous century. He and his wife, Mildred lived in the new main residence and his mother, Emma had her own "mother-in-law suite" with all of the comforts of the time period.

The small house Bob had lived in was rented out to a tenant farmer. Bob plugged away even at his advanced age farming the 300 acres- the third generation Wyatt to till the land.

By 1976, although childless, the couple had 36 years of a lovely marriage under their belt.

But then tragedy struck.
A map published in the Kansas City Star showing
 the location of the plane crash
On the morning of February 17, 1976, Bob was unloading the last bale of hay for his cattle. He hoisted himself up on his tractor and began to drive toward the barn, just a short distance from his new home. 

At the top of a small slope less than 150 yards away from where he was, his 66 year-old wife, Mildred was inside knitting in a back room while his 90 year-old mother was resting in her mother-in-law suite.

Bob heard a distant noise of an approaching plane, not uncommon for the area since the Grandview Airport had been replaced by Richards-Gebaur Air Force base in 1945.

This plane's sound was different. 

As Bob climbed the short hill in the fields nearby, the T-38 fighter jet, on descent to land at the base, seemed to fall from the clouds and scraped on his farmland in the distance. 

Panicked, Bob hit full-speed on his tractor, but the 18 mile-an-hour top speed was a turtle-pace compared to the fighter jet's power sliding across the farmland.
The Wyatt duplex on fire, the wreckage shown
Courtesy of the Kansas City Star

Bob recalled in the Kansas City Star, "I didn't think it would hit my house. In that direction there's a sloping gully and a good rise to the house. I felt sure it would be stopped by the hill."

Spitting jet fuel, gouging out chunks of earth and shaving large branches off the trees, the five ton jet scraped at full speed up the incline, barreled up the hill and became airborne again.

Without any ability to stop it, Bob helplessly watched as the T-38 plowed directly into the northwest corner of the house- right where Mildred had been sewing.

She was killed instantly.

The thrust of the plane carried her body all the way out to the front yard, and saved drawings from her years of teaching second grade in Grandview spewed in small, fiery pieces across the yard. 
My father, Lt. Col. Larry Euston in 1971
with a T-38 fighter jet

My father, retired Lt. Col. Larry Euston, flew a T-38 when he trained with the Air Force; I have seen their power in old videos and countless photographs of my father's days in the early 70s training on this very plane. 

Even though the reason for the crash seems to be unknown, it was on descent to land. Something went terribly wrong.

Neighbors gathered in horror at the site. Part of the house was in flames, but 90 year-old Emma Wyatt was able to get out to safety. Mildred, on the other hand, had no chance of survival. 

And neither did the two pilots. They died on impact as well.

Devastated, Bob watched as they located his beloved wife's body. He had tried to enter the home in order to save her, his clothes and hair singed, but it was too late.

Bob passed away in 1983. His mom, Emma followed in 1990.
Mildred Wyatt (1908-1976)

The Wyatt's lived on this homestead for over 100 years when Bob's estate posted the land for sale. And a man named Robert E. Wilson, owner of Wilson's Paint Store in Grandview, was looking for some land in the area.

There it was- that old, abandoned two story white farmhouse next door to the rebuilt duplex that had been the scene of a freak accident. Included in the sale was also the "tenant house" that had once been Joe and Bob Wyatt's primary residence before the brick duplex was built.

The real value of this land wasn't the structures that sat on it; it was the land. 

Abandoned and boarded up for years, the Wyley Wyatt two story house was said to be worthless and held "zero value of any kind." But Robert Wilson had other ideas.

When I first had the opportunity to meet Kathy Wilson Sutoris, Robert's daughter, it didn't take me long to see what true passion and love she has of the Wyatt farmhouse.

It almost feels as if it is part of her.
The side of the house pre-renovation in 1985

In 1986, Robert talked to his daughter, Kathy and her husband, Dave about the possibility of fixing up the old farmhouse so they could move in with their two young children. Kathy was an elementary school teacher in Grandview School District and Dave was a regional manager for General Parts.

Weary of the idea, Kathy's father saw the potential. "We'll fix'r up," Robert Wilson proclaimed.

When he bought 100 acres of the Wyatt farm, his intention was to give his grandchildren the same lifestyle he grew up with, complete with summer days fishing, acreage to explore and the safety of a small, tight community. 

Kathy and her husband were admittedly naive enough to say yes... and they never looked back.
An old JR Watkins medicine bottle
dug up on the land

"We were young!" Kathy exclaimed when recounting what possessed them to tackle such a huge project.

Kathy has always had a keen interest in antiques and history. Dave, on the other hand, didn't seem to care one way or the other. But his viewpoint changed as he put thousands of hours of sweat equity into the old Wyatt farmhouse.

He grew to love it just as much as she did.

She laughed when she recalled painting the trim in each room with an art brush, determined to preserve and highlight as many details as she could of her new old home.

With their two young sons in tow, they gutted- and I mean gutted- the 100 year-old farmhouse. When they went into the attic, they found out just how old farmhouses were "insulated."

Old tin cans and thousands of newspapers were shoved in corners throughout the attic. Headlines covering Al Capone and the Wright Brothers added extra intrigue to the charm this home had in every room.

Kathy Wilson Sutoris and her husband, Dave, proud
owners of the Wyatt House for 31 years
Most of the rooms in the home didn't even have electricity when they moved in- but the bones of the house were solid.

Over the years, Kathy and Dave tackled room after room of the four bedroom home. They added a much-needed bathroom upstairs, rewired the whole home and added central air and heating.

When Kathy was removing old wallpaper in one of the upstairs bedrooms, she was met with a surprise on the crumbled plaster walls underneath.

"There they were- signatures of many of the Wyatt's that lived in this home! I could see 'Wyley Wyatt, Martin City' clear as day. He and his family signed the wall!" Kathy recalled.

She worked desperately to find a way to expose these signatures, but the need for new walls was paramount. They laid sheetrock on top of the signatures, but they are still underneath the new walls.

Her children enjoyed living in the country-like setting, exploring the land and finding buried treasure at every turn.

The land always holds secrets from the past- and boy, this land saw some pretty exciting times!

Civil War era MiniƩ ball and musket ball recovered on the Wyatt land
Under the trees, her sons found marbles that the Wyatt children most likely played with during nice spring and summer days. Near the creek, her son unearthed bullets from the Civil War era.

Are they from Quantrill's Guerrillas? Considering the location, quite possibly.

The Sutoris family savored every paint stroke, refinished floor and careful renovation. They reared their children into adulthood on their 67 acres, including a red wood peg barn and outbuildings. 

They hosted parties, including their famous "Shrimp Fest" celebrated with family, friends and neighbors- a local coveted tradition they started years ago. Countless people have built countless memories with them on this historic land.

The dining room, featuring a trap door underneath the floor
to store valuables
But as time progressed and retirement was on the horizon, they made the decision to sell off 63 of their acres, including the peg barn, in 2010, leaving the original Wyatt farmhouse with 3.5 acres of rolling pasture. 

Reluctantly, it's time for Dave and Kathy to surrender the last piece of the parcel at 13811 Arrington Road.

"It's been one of the toughest decisions we have ever faced. But, it's time," Kathy explained with hesitation in her voice.

Dave and Kathy are ready to pass on the Wyatt farmhouse to the next generation that will love it as much as they have. They have opted to sell their 4 bedroom, 2 bath completely renovated farmhouse with the 3.5 acres left of the land.
The beautiful original floors from the dining
 room into the entryway showcasing 
the addition of the front 

"It's going to take a special person - a special family- to build memories like we have in this home," Kathy concluded. 

The Sutoris family just hopes that they can pass their beautiful home with layers of history to people that will love and cherish it as much as they have for the past 30 years.

The Wyatt house - the Sutoris' house- has many, many more years of love to give. 

This special land saw so much pre-Civil War, including the raising of one of Quantrill's toughest fighters. The land was sold to a Confederate veteran with an unforgettable name. Wyley raised ten children in his home, built with his own hands as he rebuilt his life. The land saw change in the distance and an airplane skid across its fields and into the house next door. 

It was saved by a family that was young, ambitious and content on restoring something back to its glory. Board by board, room by room, they revived Wyley's home into a beautiful country home only minutes away from modern conveniences. They brought it back to life.
An added three car attached garage modernized the home

If this ground could talk, it would tell a rich story.

I think of history as being layers of the earth. This land has seen so much pain, sacrifice, triumph, reconstruction and revitalization. This land- and all its history- will have a new perspective when fresh eyes and minds opt to build their own memories on this historic property.

From the Vaughn's to the Wyatt's to the Sutoris family. . . Over 170 years of history prevails upon this land.

Now the land and house are searching for the next chapter.


*If you or someone you know is interested in purchasing this historic home, please email Dave and Kathy Sutoris at *

Additional photos:

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Quantrill Raider's Revenge on the Border and Beyond

Gangs. Violence. Vendettas. Harbored feelings blossomed into hatred when torches were lit, shots were fired and families were forever torn apart. 

Even before the Civil War, men were willing to sacrifice everything for what they deemed as right.

Some Southern sympathizers didn't comfortably "fall" into the Confederate ranks; their ideals, ethics and morals were more questionable than many. In the southern Jackson County area, especially in Washington Township, many families merged themselves into a much, much deeper connection that grew under the principles of a notorious leader.

These families, many living minutes from the border between the free and slave state, followed, protected and praised an Ohio-born school teacher named William Clarke Quantrill. 

Let's take a step back in time and travel to a farm in Washington Township in present-day Grandview, Mo. where the original landowner, specifically his sons, influenced the rebel cause in more ways than one....

Some of them died and others went to jail.

Sometimes these stories just fall in my lap when I'm least expecting it. This was the case when I discovered the unique and violent history of one parcel of land with documented history that began well before the outbreak of the Border Wars or the Civil War.

Today, the land I'm describing sits in Section 22 and 27 of Washington Township.

Yeah, I know. You have no clue where that is. Let me tell you. :)

This land's current address falls in Grandview and includes where Arrington Road is today. The parcel is just east of Martin City (accessible from 139th Street) and just southeast of Main Street in Grandview.
1877 map showing the location of Josiah Vaughn's land that was over 300 acres. His farm was 5 miles from New Santa Fe,
2 miles from the future site of Martin City, and about 1.5 miles from the future location of downtown Grandview.
And boy, did this Iand and the people that lived on it see some action. . .

Josiah Vaughn, born in 1810 in Green County, Ky., was the first documented landowner there and entered his federal claim in 1848. Before heading from Kentucky to Missouri, Josiah made a pit stop in Knox County, Illinois, where he met and married his wife, Mary Faqua in 1832. She was around 14 years old.


By 1848, he and his young family had moved to Jackson County, Mo. Did they squat on the land prior to this documented claim? Quite possibly.

And thousands of miles away from Josiah's farm in Washington Township, a baby boy named William Clarke Quantrill was born in 1837, the oldest of ten children.

Little did anyone know the impact on history that this child would have.

William Clarke Quantrill
Josiah built a log cabin and tilled the land and his wife, Mary reared their ten children: William (b.1833), John (b.1835), Thomas (b.1838), Daniel (b.1839), James (b.1842), Martha (b.1844), Margaret "Maggie" (b.1847), Susan "Susie" (b.1849) and Alexander (b.1853). Neither Mary or Josiah could read or write, but they did work to educate their children as best they could.

Life as a Jackson County landowner during this tumultuous time in U.S. history was far from peaceful. By the time Kansas Territory was opened up to white settlement, the battle over the border began.

Strong viewpoints on slavery severed the area into two factions- those for it and those against it; however, the border served as even a harsher dividing line than that of states further removed from it. While most states had a clear division of "free" and "slave," Jackson County and other border counties in Missouri wrestled with the notion that slaves were steps away from freedom in Kansas.

Blood was boiling in these border states, and as more and more people settled from the north into Kansas Territory and landowners from Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee laid claim to land on the border in Missouri, a recipe for disaster was quickly unfolding.

Josiah Vaughn and his brother, Rueben, are perfect examples of former Kentuckians who chose southern Jackson County, Mo. as their permanent residence

By 1860, only 13% of Missourians owned slaves, but if you look at Jackson County alone, that number gets much bigger. One in four families- 25%- living in Jackson County owned at least one slave at this time, but most of these slaves didn't live on large plantations. The average slaveowner here held four slaves.

Kansas-Nebraska Act map showing free states, slave states,
and those being determined by popular vote
The Kansas-Nebraska Act had these early settlers of Jackson County shaking in their boots. Even though many farmers, including Josiah Vaughn, didn't own slaves at this time, it didn't mean they weren't crazy about the fact that these northerners were moving into Kansas and were vehemently opposed to slavery. In the mid 1850s, this was seen as a huge problem.

By 1860, Josiah's two oldest boys, William and John, had traveled to El Dorado, California and built lives there. Martha Jane Vaughn, the oldest of Josiah's girls, married Brainard K. Lindsey. Her husband later joined the 12th Regiment, Missouri Cavalry (CSA).

Ah, but three of Josiah's remaining sons, Thomas, Dan and Jim, were still living in Jackson County in the area now known as Grandview... and they had a different agenda. Thomas was already married to divorcee Nancy Jane Gray, and she had one son from her previous marriage. 

Wedded bliss certainly didn't stop him from fighting.

Hostility on the border had been going on for years, and raids from Jayhawkers had residents up in arms. Before the war, numerous farms on the border were raided and burned. Southern sympathizers were physically assaulted.

Even if you weren't crazy about the notion of slavery, these guys were pretty angry about the ransacking of their property.
Marcus Gill (1814-1886)

The Watts-Hays letters are a tremendous source of historical information about the Jackson County area. Margaret Watts Hays married Upton Hays in 1852, a well-known colonel in the Confederacy. Before his death in 1862, he was known to have been associated with the border ruffians, including Quantrill. While his wife struggled for survival, moving place-to-place, she wrote letters to family members that have been preserved and are online. 

In one letter dated January of 1861, Margaret wrote, "They [Jayhawkers]  burned over 15 or 20 houses. Burned Mr. Vaughn's house, robbed all the Keeney's of all they had."

The Vaughn house she wrote of was none other than Josiah Vaughn's home.

Well, this is one way to get the family riled up.

Fearing further attack, the instincts of some farmers in Washington Township that did own slaves was to flee the area and ride south. After being introduced to William Quantrill, then just a school teacher, Marcus Gill of the town of New Santa Fe (certainly an acquaintance of the Vaughn family) decided to take off with his family and slaves to Texas.

The Marcus Gill house in 1976, demolished to make room for suburban
development. The original log cabin is on the right side of the house.
Courtesy of Janice Bugler-Reeves
In the winter of 1860 and into the new year, Quantrill stayed with Marcus Gill on his farm just north of New Santa Fe.

Many neighbors fell in this same category and wanted to get their slaves safely to Texas. Another resident of the area, Samuel Gregg, was aquainted with Marcus Gill through the Bethelem Church of Christ in Hickman's Mill. Gregg, his wife, children and eight slaves joined them on the journey.

Samuel Gregg's land was in the heart of what is now known as Grandview. 

And Marcus Gill hired Quantrill to take them there safely.
Liberty Tribune, April 16, 1861
Courtesy of Missouri Digital Heritage

Quantrill wasn't a household name by this point, but his reputation as a good shot and protector was reason enough to ride with him to the Lone Star State.

He had seen what these Jayhawkers had done to people's land and was ready for retribution.

Taking up on the chance to showcase his skills, Quantrill returned from his first trip to Texas in late 1861 and was inspired to form his own unit. The Quantrill Raiders operated in the border area between Kansas and Missouri, targeting Union forces and the Jayhawkers. 

As did many of the young men of Jackson County at the time, Thomas, Dan and Jim decided to fight for their backwards beliefs.

The Vaughn brothers loaded their guns and joined the Confederate cause. Like many of his neighbors, Dan served in the Missouri State Guard in 1861. But staying in an organized troop wasn't in the cards for these young, ambitious men.
Nope, these guys chose to join the now-notorious Quantrill and became bushwhackers, raiding Kansas residences, killing innocent people and terrorizing the border during the Civil War. 

Jim Vaughn was one of Quantrill's earliest recruits, joining him on December 25, 1861.

Merry Christmas, Missouri and Kansas!

This piece of writing isn't meant to focus on the subject of Quantrill- there is plenty of material out there for the masses to read. But the influence and direction Quantrill had on these young men altered the course of their lives forever- and even altered the future of the area.

1861 Harper's Weekly drawing showing Southern women
searched by the Federal soldiers in their home
In a deposition by Mary Vaughn taken in 1865 by the Union Provost Marshal, the mother of these bushwhackers stated, "In 1861 rebels frequented my house and I had to feed them. I left home to get rid of them."  

Sorry, but I'm not sure if I believe Mary.

So much happened on the land near Grandview, Mo. where Josiah Vaughn and other farmers lived. Some evidence of these undocumented skirmishes, most likely involving Quantrill's men, can be found in some trees situated on the landscape. According to residents who grew up in the area, Minie balls still penetrate the old trees, a permanent scar of the seasons when Quantrill sought protection from these early pioneers.

By 1862, Thomas Vaughn, the oldest of Josiah's kids to follow the Confederacy, was the father of two infants. He had left home to defend the border at any cost. The fate of Thomas is hard to make heads or tails of, but the story goes that he was traveling down a road nearby and was robbed and then shot dead. 

Did the Jayhawkers hunt and find him? Possibly. Was it unrelated to his relationship with Quantrill? Maybe....?

The string of bad luck for the Vaughn's didn't end there.

The area of New Santa Fe, Hickman's Mill and the future site of Grandview was inundated with Quantrill's men in the Spring of 1862. They had hundreds of allies in the area. In early March, Confederate guerillas, most likely including Dan and Jim Vaughn, raided the small Kansas town of Aubry, near present-day Stilwell. 

The Olathe Mirror reported on March 20th that "Quantrill's band murdered four men in Aubry, drove off horses and destroyed private property."
 1859 map showing the location of Aubry (starred), Westport,
Kansas City and New Santa Fe on the border of MO & KS
Library of Congress

I can only imagine the fear of the farmers in the area when these border ruffians unleashed their anger on Aubry. 

But they didn't stop there.

On March 22nd, 1862, just over two weeks after the senseless killings at Aubry, Quantrill and his men rode into familiar territory- New Santa Fe. Just three miles from New Santa Fe, Quantrill and 25 to 30 of his men stopped and rested at David Tate's home near present-day Red Bridge. Many of his men, including Dan and Jim Vaughn, went to stay in other nearby homes of sympathizers.

... Not too far from Josiah Vaughn's farm.

Did they stay there, too? 

Little did Quantrill and his gang know that the 2nd Kansas Cavalry, led by Col. Robert B. Mitchell, was hot on the rebel's tracks. At the town of New Santa Fe, less than 100 yards from Marcus Gill's abandoned farm, Mitchell sent a squadron led by Maj. James M. Pomeroy to arrest David Tate. They'd received word that he was known to harbor bushwhackers, but they had no idea they were about to meet Quantrill face-to-face.

In Alfred E. Casteel's book, William Clarke Quantrill: His Life and Times, he describes that Pomeroy banged loudly on Tate's door, unaware that over two dozen heavily-armed men were slumbering inside. An unassuming Pomeroy and his 200 men were rattled to the core when men inside began to fire, a Minie ball barreling through the front door and into the night.
Col. Robert B. Mitchell

Pomeroy demanded that the women and children be sent out. He waited, and when no one removed from the home, officers began to open fire. Two days later when recalling the events, Col. Mitchell wrote that when officers resumed their firing into the farmhouse, they could hear cries of women and children.

Pomeroy ceased fire and the women and children ran from the home. Quantrill's men continued to fire from upstairs windows and Pomeroy was shot. The first attempt to light the brick home on fire failed, and two men came to one of the windows and surrendered. 

The second attempt by Pomeroy's men to torch the home was successful.

At this infamous skirmish just three miles from New Santa Fe, Quantrill and his men inside busted through the weather boarding at the back of the house and whisked into the woods nearby

Only two of Quantrill's men were killed as they fled, but Col. Mitchell ascertained that at leave five died in the flames.

Pomeroy's group of men headed to the Wyatt farm, just a few farms north of Josiah Vaughn's land and part of present-day Grandview. As they drew nearer to the home at daybreak, six or seven of Quantrill's men ran from the homestead and into the brush.

1877 county map, zoomed into part of Washington Township, showing the locations of this Quantrill event

This intense event in the scheme of things was quite minor, but it was covered nationwide in the papers and gave Quantrill recognition in the South as being a fierce leader.

Quantrill, Dan and Jim Vaughn narrowly escaped... for now. 

Even during these tumultuous times on the border, men and women found time to fall in love. One of Dan and Jim's pals riding with Quantrill named Samuel L. Clifton (ironically a future police officer in Kansas City) married Maggie Vaughn in 1862. 

On April 30, 1863, Maggie was arrested outside of Westport, Mo. for being a guerrilla spy. Her brother and a companion had robbed a steamer, killing a Union soldier in the process.

Jim Vaughn, one of Quantrill's first recruits, was just shy of 22 when his second year with Quantrill came abruptly to an end.
While in Wyandotte County, Ks. on May 17, 1863, Jim knew the Jayhawkers and Union soldiers were hot on his tail. One afternoon, Jim opted to alter his appearance and shave off his facial hair. Thinking he wouldn't be recognized, Jim took off his pistols as he popped into a barber shop. He was in midst of getting a close shave when Union troops tracked him down and arrested him.
The Union soldiers stationed at Fort Union located in what is now downtown Kansas City wanted to send a clear message to Quantrill and his gang. Gen. James G. Blunt brazenly struck back at the guerillas when he ordered Jim Vaughn to be publicly hanged.  

Fort Union, Kansas City
On Tuesday, May 27, 1863, less than one week after being caught, "large and powerfully built" Jim Vaughn was led up to the gallows erected at 13th and Central. 

The Kansas City Journal of Commerce reported, "As soon as [Jim Vaughn] ascended the scaffold he looked about with an unconcerned, nonchalant air of bravado."  

He whispered to a Union soldier on the scaffold, handing him both Confederate and American dollars. He wished for his money to be sent to his two married sisters, Martha and Maggie, who were being held in a Leavenworth prison for "aiding bushwhackers."

Jim didn't let the situation get to him. As he mounted the gallows, he addressed the crowd below. "You may kill me, but you'll never conquer me, and taking my life today will cost you a hundred lives and this debt my friends will pay in a short time."

And guess what? Retribution was in the cards. 
Margaret Watts Hays in 1860

Another letter written by Margaret Watts Hays referred to the Vaughn's and their fate. In May 1863, she wrote, "Yesterday Jem Vaughn was hung in Kansas City, Tom was shot about a year ago, D(an) is in the Bush, Marthy Jane and Mag is prisoners in Leavenworth. The old man (Josiah) is South, Mrs. Vaughn and the children was Banished to the territory, their house burned, everything they had taken."


So Martha Jane Vaughn Lindsey and Margaret (referred to as Meg in the letter) Vaughn, freshly married to a Quantrill guerrilla, were locked up in Leavenworth. And, for a second time, their home in Jackson County was burned.

... Just add another reason Dan Vaughn was fired up.

While the war roared on, Quantrill's band of guerillas spread out even further. Famous future outlaws Jesse and Frank James, the Younger brothers and Dan Vaughn were cohorts and working together by 1863, occasionally visiting neighbors in the Grandview area to collect supplies from their allies.

Vendettas against those who had caused harm on families in the Jackson County area were common during this time period. Dan Vaughn, now a commander in Quantrill's company, became close to Jesse and Frank James. He was a highly respected man within Quantrill's closest.

And good ol' Dan had an ego on him.

I laughed out loud when I read a newspaper account from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram from June 20th, 1920. It was told by Will W. James, another one of Quantrill's men. 

Will claimed that northern soldiers were terrified of Quantrill's guerrillas- and he reminisced about the good ol' days with friends, family... and the newspaper.
"Ballad of Quantrill's Raiders" by Joe Coleman
Spencer Museum of Art

One story involved Dan Vaughn. Will claimed that Dan was home visiting his folks, and the enemy heard he was there. Dan claimed 80 of them surrounded the house and called him to surrender. "Dan could not see why he should surrender, so he threw the door open."

"With a pistol in each hand [Dan Vaughn] began firing and yelled, "Come on, Quantrill; here they are!"

The soldiers fled in fear.

This sounds like one of those stories that would be told around a campfire. 

Embellished? Most likely. But Dan's message was clear; Quantrill's name shook fear in the Union and he maintained that he was able to scare away eighty armed men. 

The stories certainly didn't end there. Quantrill's men, especially Dan Vaughn, had it in his mind that he would avenge his brother's hanging.

And when General Order No. 10, making it illegal to aid bushwhackers, was put in effect, hundreds of people were arrested- including all of Dan Vaughn's family. The collapse of a makeshift prison in Kansas City at 1425 Grand, killing some of these prisoners being held (including Bloody Bill Anderson's sister), was the straw that broke the camel's back.
So what better of a way to make your message clear than a massacre of innocent people in Lawrence?

This is an event that many have heard of: Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence, A.K.A. the Lawrence Massacre. On August 21, 1863, these guerrilla outlaws rode into Lawrence, Ks., killed between 160 and 190 people (including innocent children), and burned much of the town. 

What was the response from the Union? General Order No. 11, issued four days after the massacre, forced all residents in rural Jackson, Cass, Bates and part of Vernon County to evacuate immediately. The Union was fully aware that Bushwhackers were buried in the brush of these rural counties, and they were being enabled by friends and family.

In October of 1863, the bushwhackers under Quantrill's lead headed to Texas for the winter. On their way, they stopped at Baxter Springs. Dan Vaughn and the rest of the men wore Union uniforms so they could travel incognito.

They happened upon a group of Union men escorting Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt to his new headquarters. Due to their disguises as Union men, Quantrill's men were able to surprise the much smaller group of Federals and began to fire on them.

103 people were killed, including men who tried to surrender 

On the way out of town, Quantrill's men tacked a note to a tree that stated, "Hellow, Jim Blunt! do you recollect the letter you wrote to Col. Parker, last Spring, and the execution of Jas. Vaughn? Stop and turn your eyes to Lawrence and Baxter Springs, and see what your amiable policy has brought you to- see what you have done for your fellow soldiers- and then remember the dying words of James Vaughn."

Harper's Weekly drawing published to show the Lawrence Massacre

In November of 1863 in Collin, Texas, Dan Vaughn married Mary A. Hall. He'd been in Texas less than one month.

That was a quick courtship.

Dan and some of his men captured Sergt. John Bay and Private Fox of the 2nd Colorado Cavalry while on their return from Texas.

Union soldiers had a plan to get their men back.

Dan's parents, Josiah and Mary Vaughn, his sisters and brother were arrested yet again August 31, 1864. They also arrested Thomas Vaughn's widow, Nancy and her children. 

They were taken into custody "for the purpose of saving the two soldiers captured by D. Vaughn, a bushwhacker."

They used them for collateral. He threatened to kill them if they did not release his sister and his sister in law, Nancy.

Less than a month later, they were charged by the Union Provost Marshal with "aiding and giving information to bushwhackers" and it is noted that "their reputation for disloyalty is notorious."

It worked.

The exchange of prisoners did happen in November of 1864.

But the Vaughn family wouldn't be free for long. It seems as if their neighbors had betrayed them.

January 16, 1865 affidavit of Henry Tull of Hickman's Mill listing sympathizers and bushwhackers
Union Provost Marshal Papers 

Pressure from Union troops stationed at Hickman's Mill led many anxious men to sign statements incriminating their neighbors in the area.... including the Vaughn's (shocking, right!?). Both James H. Harris and Henry Tull in January 1865 accused several neighbors of aiding the bushwhackers. 

Gratiot State Prison, St. Louis
Naturally, by March of 1865, they were arrested again, but this time the plan was to move them as far away from the area as possible. 

Gratiot Prison in St. Louis was the place chosen.

Mary Vaughn and her children were transferred to this prison along with her daughter-in-law, Nancy and her children.

Tragedy struck the day after they arrived at Gratiot Prison. Nancy had not fared well on the journey and died March 17, 1865, leaving three children orphans. 

In 1908, she was one of only two woman honored with a headstone at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery outside of St. Louis.  

Nancy Vaughn's grave
Courtesy of Connie Nisinger
Quantrill's days were coming to an end as the Confederate cause slowly lost  footing. His 400 men had quarreled in Texas, and most of them bailed. Dan Vaughn's own Confederate Pension record filed in 1902 states he served the last 12 months of the war in the 12th Missouri Cavalry, although no records exist to prove or disprove his claim.

Quantrill died on June 10, 1865 after being shot in the back and paralyzed

Dan Vaughn, once a leader and trusted companion of William Quantrill, returned with his new wife to his father's farm in the Grandview area. Josiah Vaughn, the first man to till the land on Arrington Road, died in 1873. Mary, his wife, is rumored to have moved to Texas but no documentation of her whereabouts exist. Shortly after his father's death, Dan returned to Texas and settled in Fort Worth. 

Josiah's settlement in this area of present-day Grandview was erased. His grave is unmarked, most likely deep underneath the rested soil off Arrington Road. This common yet unexamined example of Southern sacrifice at any cost has now been brought to our attention.

So, this is my goal- to tell these lost stories. 

Dan worked after the war in Fort Worth as a furniture mover and a saloon keeper. He was blind in one eye and had a large "aneurismbetween his throat and neck according to his pension file. He was a charter member of the Robert E. Lee Camp of United Confederate Veterans in Fort Worth.

In 1904, Vaughn jumped from a burning building and never fully recovered from his injuries. He died in 1913.

Dan Vaughn, although noted in some books on Quantrill's terror in the heart of America, was a predatory man with a deep tie to the Grandview, Martin City and New Santa Fe area of Jackson County, Mo. that has escaped deep research by historians. The deciscions and actions of this cunning character forever changed history.

I want to leave this post on a positive note, as I'm sure your head is swimming in the cess pool of these unreal stories.

It's fascinating, isn't it?!
Dan's headstone at Oakwood Cemetery, Fort Worth, Tx.

Dan Vaughn, Jackson County-born guerrilla fighter, even has a part of the history of the University of Kansas, specifically KU Medical Center.

KU Med wouldn't be where it is today without Dan Vaughn's "mercy."

Yeah, you read the right.

In December 1864, a man named Fred Wellhouse (1828-1911), known through the country as the "apple king" due to his extensive apple orchards in Kansas, was riding with a Fort Scott man named Armstrong to the quaint town of Aubry, Johnson County, Ks.

Mr. Wellhouse recounted his story for the Kansas City Star in 1904.

At this time during the war, a man by the name of Dr. Simeon Bell (1820-1913) owned a store in Aubry. According to historian John H. McCool, "During the war years, the outspokenly pro-Union Bell was a favorite target of cross-border marauders, known as 'Bushwhackers,' from the slave state of Missouri. Time and again, they pillaged his property, stole his horses, looted his store, and sent him fleeing from his home before a hail of bullets."

Armstrong rode ahead of Wellhouse to Dr. Bell's store in Aubry on that December day in 1864. When Wellhouse reached there, Armstrong was nowhere to be found. He went ahead and entered the store, meeting up with Bell. Seven or eight men, described as looking like "country people," entered the store. One man, who turned out to be Dan Vaughn, searched Wellhouse and demanded he give up all his money. 

Wellhouse only gave him the $6 in his pocketbook... but he had $50 more hidden in his vest. He lied to Dan and told him that the $6 was all he had.


Another bushwhacker insisted on searching Wellhouse again, and when he found the wad of fifty bucks on him, he was not too pleased.

This sent Dan Vaughn into a tailspin. He ordered that everyone but Dr. Simeon Bell leave the store at once. Dan, you see, was convinced Bell was hiding more money.

Dan torched the store... with Bell inside. He ordered that Dr. Bell not leave the store under penalty of being riddled with bullets. 

Horrified, panicked and clouded with the idea that he was going to watch his friend, Dr. Bell burn alive, Wellhouse begged Dan and the bushwhackers to let him out.

"Shut up!" the bushwhackers screamed.

Finally, as the building was completely in flames, Dan yelled, "Come out if you're alive!"

Amazingly, Dr. Bell came barreling out the doors of the engulfed store.

It turns out Dr. Bell was a witty man; he had put his mouth up to a knothole in the wall inside the store and was breathing as much fresh air as he could while flames roared around him.
Dr. Simeon Bell

Dan wasn't finished yet. He announced that he planned to take Dr. Bell to the woods and hang him.

Dan then questioned Wellhouse further and then turned to whisper to his companions. Wellhouse stated, "Suddenly I heard a revolver click and, turning quickly, I saw the bushwhackers gun cocked and leveled at my head."

Just in the nick of time, a woman screamed Dan's name from the street.

It turns out she knew Dan and begged him to spare Wellhouse and Bell.

Dan lowered his gun, snatched Dr. Bell, and rode him into the woods.

For whatever the reason, Dan decided to spare Dr. Bell's life at the last moment. As Wellhouse quickly rode out of town, he saw his buddy, Armstrong's lifeless body on the side of the road.

This, according to many, was the last raid into Kansas. And it was led by none other than Dan Vaughn.

Thirty years later, Dr. Bell offered to give $75,000 to the University of Kansas, home of the Jayhawks, to build a medical school in Rosedale, now incorporated into Kansas City, Ks. Legislators weren't thrilled with the idea of the medical school being so far from the state capital.
Eleanor Taylor Bell Memorial Hospital cir. 1906
Future site of KU Medical Center

In 1905, Bell offered even more money and more land in Rosedale, and the offer was too good to turn down. The first KU hospital was named and built in honor of Dr. Simeon Bell's late wife, Eleanor Taylor Bell. 

This land was the future site of world-renowned KU Medical Center.

We should be grateful that Dan Vaughn granted Dr. Simeon Bell his life that fateful day in 1864. 

Fate won over Dan that day, yet so many others died in the hands of these border ruffians. 

Dan Vaughn's destiny was no doubt initiated while he watched from a little farm in Washington Township, Jackson County, Mo. his family and others roughhoused by the Border Wars.

Without this history, the landscape would look completely different today. We certainly don't agree with the outlandish ideals of these border ruffians, but we must acknowledge the past so it is never repeated.

And so my mission continues.