Mistur Editur…

I found this cryptic letter to the editor from 1859 amusing and hope you do too.  But before you read it I must put it into context, otherwise you’ll be left in a state of befuddlement.

This letter came after, and in response to, the incident between the Kaw Indians and Seth Hays on June 2nd 1859.  In short, the Kaw had stolen a couple horses from a Mexican trader and Hays demanded the return of them.  About 90 Kaw rode into town and met Hays in front of his store.  Words were exchanged; Hays was irritated and fired off his revolver[s]; in return two Kaw each shot a white man and fled town.  After a council between whites and Indians the two Kaw were handed over and hung by town folk.  Thomas Hill, who was at the ‘Last Chance’ store when this event played out, was the first to write an account of what had occurred for the paper.  The following week H. J. Espy wrote another letter to the paper to correct a few things that Hill had said.

It is not clear who wrote the following letter but it appears to come from someone in Council Grove and is addressed to the editor of the Kansas Press, Sam Wood, who was operating out of Cottonwood Falls at the time.  The coaxing in this letter must have worked to some extent, because Wood moved his paper to Council Grove September 5th of 1859.  It appears to be a jab at Council Grove for their eagerness to hang the Kaw Indians and an insult to their intelligence is evident by the phonetic spelling.  There is also a jab at Tom Hill as the ‘stoan stor-house, on the hill’ was the location of the day long hanging.  Hill had exaggerated in his letter that the people were ‘perfectly blood thirsty’ after the Kaw.

“Counsel Groave, Kanzas June 29, ’59.  Mistur Editur—Deer Sir: The peeple hear hev selected me as a sootable, purson to rite to you.  We wont you to moove up, and fetch your paper, and fixens to make papers with you.

            The peeple will pleg themselves to firnish local mater ennuff every weak, to fabrickate a substanshal sheat.  You will not then be rejuced to the necescity of saying at the cloase of an article, “Exchange,” as Editurs hev to doo sometimes.  Yu cood hev a winder too your sanctum , overlooking the city; and thor yu cin set and rite with one hand and look out at the winder with tother, and let your hed run along to keep hit in a condishun for publickashun.  Then wee wood not  heve to rite yu the nuse, or ecspress the wooshes of the peeple; fur tha cood poak in thare heds nou and then and speek fur themselves.

            Sense yu wor up hear times hev, bin poorty brisk, we hev haid one hangen, but the material warent good—nuthen but Cau Injens, you ort tu hev bin here to witnessed that.  They gin them ar Caus one of thee jewhilicanest stretchens ever yu sou.  They hung em tel they war ded ded, ef yu call a day and nite any thing.

            On the 21st ov next munth, we or gowing to hev a hangen what is a hangen.  That is general hang day fur this county.  We will hev materal selected that cant bea beet in these parts.  It is expected that ther will bee quite a number of specktaters; allso a good meny that wood rather be specktaters than tu take as active a part as thare populararity will foce on ‘em.  Hang ours, from ten A. M. tel, foar P.M.; and continued from day tu day tel, all ar hung, ef yu sea any body down your way that wants hangen, tel them tu bea hear, at the stoan stoar-house, on the hill [the Last Chance store], at the time pinted, with there meeten close on, and wee will try  mity hard to commodate them; as wee Counsel Groave fokes make it a pint of oner tu alwaze tend tu strangers furst.

            Wee will look fur yu up on that ‘kashen; and yu will spair no meens in given it publikashun threu the country.

            I must close my letter for feer thee peeple think that I am gowing fudder nor I was ‘structed, and rote all I knowed; theirfour I am dun.  Respeckfully, yours, FESSOR.”

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