1860: Lorenzo Dow Round to Nephew

This interesting letter was written by Lorenzo Dow Round (1813-1877), the son of George C. Round, Sr. (1779-1852) and Martha Sally Hopkins (1784-1831) of Herkimer county, New York. His identity was confirmed by the mention of his younger brother Bertram Round (1829-1859) who died on 25 September 1859 in Alabama. He wrote the letter to one of his nephews. Sometime after 1863 but before 1870, Lorenzo had relocated back to Herkimer county, New York.

Lorenzo’s letter gives a great description of the state of politics in Kansas Territory in 1860 as the territory continued its quest to acquire statehood from a deeply divided US Congress. It also describes the shenanigans played out at the local level in locating the county seat of Linn county. And finally, it refers to the raid on Harpers Ferry by John Brown in October 1859.


Mound City, [Kansas Territory]
January 3d 1860

Dear Nephew,

Yours of the 25th ult. came to hand today and I take this opportunity to answer. You stated that I owed you a letter. I suppose it to be the other way but be that as it may, I was glad to hear from you and shall always try to keep up my correspondence with the friends at the Rapids.

You think that I must be lonesome here all alone as you term it. You are not aware of the state of things here. There is some excitement here almost all of the time. Politics rages all the time. We have had eight elections since last March closing on the 6th of December for State officers under the Wyandotte Constitution. The Republican ticket was mostly elected. All of the state officers are all Republican. But whether we will be admitted into the Union [under] this constitution or not is somewhat doubtful. This is the fourth time Kansas has presented herself to Congress for admission and will probably be the last.

We have had a very exciting time here in locating the county seat. There was two places voted for—Mound City and Paris. Mound City received a majority of the votes of the county. But Paris refused to give up the county records (as that was formerly the county seat). An officer was sent from here to get the records and they met him with an armed force and would not let him have them. A few nights after, we got up a posse of forty or fifty men and went over and took the records in spite of them.

The County Clerk said the books were stole two or three nights before but it was all of no use. We told him to get the books in fifteen minutes or we would destroy their town. He hurried over to his house and got down under his floor and hauled them out. We brought the books over to Mound City and the County Seat is here. Paris is an old pro-slavery town located by the border ruffians.

John Brown trapped inside the Engine House at the US Armory at Harpers Ferry

I presume the Harpers Ferry affair has caused more excitement in the East than it has here. Many of the citizens here were well acquainted with Old Brown and his men. I have seen the old hero many a time and was very sorry that he succeeded so badly.

I received a letter from Arminins a few days since informing me of the death of brother Bartram. He died among strangers. Would that some friend could have been with him. But he has gone. I recall many pleasant and happy seasons I have spent with him. It reminds me that I too must soon give up time for eternity.

I am stopping at Mound City. I have not lived on my claim since my house burned last spring. My health is good. Times are rather hard here but on the whole we get along very well. There is plenty of corn in the county and also beef and pork. I think of going East in the spring if I can sell or pre-empt my claim. Society is rather rude here at present but is improving.

I wrote a letter to you some time since but have not received any reply. Give my respects to all of the friends. I often think of them and shall be happy to see them all again.

Yours affectionately, — L. D. Round

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