By Jane Hoskinson*
In the U.S. census of 1840, George Bayne of Shelby County, Kentucky, reported holding 22 black persons in slavery. When he died in 1845, he divided his estate among his children. Those who lived north of the Mason-Dixon line received land and money. Those who lived in slave-holding states received human “property.” In 1850, George’s son Alexander Bayne reported holding six people in slavery in Jefferson County, Kentucky.
Two years later, Alexander moved his family to Missouri. According to Alexander’s granddaughter Nora Bayne, “In 1852 they started west in search of cheaper land, Thomas [Alexander’s son] and a negro boy driving through by wagon and the family coming by boat. Their destination was Westport Landing.”
Alexander managed the Gillis House hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, for two years and bought a farm near Westport. Alexander and his third wife, Elizabeth Hite Bayne, had a total of six children, three from their marriage, two from Elizabeth’s previous marriage to Alexander’s brother Griffin Bayne, and Thomas, Alexander’s son by his first wife, Elizabeth’s niece Susan Hite Bayne.
Thomas Bayne was born May 16, 1836, in Shelby County, Kentucky. His mother, Susan, died not long after his birth. In September 1836, Henrietta, a woman enslaved by the Bayne family, gave birth to her son, Marcus Freeman. George Bayne “gave” Henrietta’s infant to his young grandson Thomas.
The enslaved Henrietta raised the boys together, “just as if we had been two little puppies,” according to Marcus. Thomas would often save food and coffee from his own meals to share with Marcus. “He thought a great deal of me,” Marcus said, “and once when his stepbrother licked me, he nearly cut him to pieces with a Barlow knife.” When the family moved to Missouri, Marcus worked at the Gillis House, learning to cook.
Nora Bayne wrote that her father, Thomas, had a “boyhood dream, of owning a section of land amidst large timber, with fields of corn and blue-grass, and raising pedigreed horses, cattle and hogs. . . In the fall of 1853 they learned that the Kaw Half-Breed Indian Land situated north of the Kaw River 50 miles west would be open for settlement the following spring. [This was inaccurate; the Kanza protested white settlement in 1857 and were upheld.] In February 1854, Thomas Bayne and a young man by the name of Arch Bradley bought a team, covered wagon and outfit for six months’ trip and started in search of the Kaw land.”
The boys built a cabin in virgin timber that reminded them of Kentucky. They hunted for game and explored the area, meeting some of the Kanza people who lived and camped there. Nora Bayne’s impression was that their interactions were peaceful, but she also said that a group of “Indians came to burn the cabin.”
Exploring downriver in the winter, the boys were caught in a blizzard with only two matches, one of them broken, but still succeeded in starting a fire. They discovered the abandoned settlement of Daniel Morgan Boone, who had been appointed “Government Farmer” for the Kanza people in 1827. Arch Bradley returned home after a few months.
Thomas described the Boone village: “Just east of my prairie farm was an old well, near the bank of the river, when I moved here in 1854. The remains of quite a village can still be seen in the vicinity. When I broke the prairie I found the charred remains of a rail fence that had enclosed over 100 acres of land. This old village is seven miles above Lawrence on the north side of the river.”
In spring 1855, Thomas sent for Marcus Freeman, his sister Charity and their cousin Fielding Edwards, to work on his farm.
Marcus recalled, “I stayed for a few months, and then with his permission went back to Kansas City and married and rented my time for $200.00 a year for seven years until I was emancipated. Mr. Bayne gave me a pass which allowed me to go between Missouri and his farm in Kansas.”
The Baynes shared the labor of their enslaved people. The 1859 Kansas census recorded Alexander Bayne owning two people, William Bayne owning one, and Thomas Bayne owning none, as Marcus Freeman’s labor was “rented.” Marcus said that his sister, Charity, “had belonged to Will Bayne, Thomas’s stepbrother, and he left her on his brother’s farm when he went to California.” William Bayne, Thomas’s stepbrother and cousin, traveled to California in 1853 but returned to settle east of Thomas in 1859.
Alexander and Elizabeth Bayne and their three younger children moved to Kansas in 1856, taking a claim west of Thomas’s farm. In 1857, Henry Hatton moved to Kansas from Indiana with his wife, Minerva, and daughters, Susan and Sarah. Thomas Bayne married Susan Hatton in February 1858. William Bayne married Sarah Hatton in October 1860.
Thomas Bayne assisted in surveying the county and setting township lines. Thomas, William and Alexander Bayne held a variety of early local offices in Jefferson County. In 1856, Alexander and William were officers on the proslavery board of Kentucky Township. In 1858, Alexander chaired the Kentucky Township board of supervisors; Thomas was treasurer and later assessor.
Another early Kansas Territory settler was James Scaggs,[i] a slaveholder who claimed land on the Kanza reserve in Jefferson County in 1854. According to John Speer, editor of the Lawrence Tribune, “He was a leading man of his class, enthusiastic in his idea of planting slavery in Kansas.”
In the Kansas Territory 1859 census, James Scaggs reported holding 13 people enslaved; Thomas Bayne recalled the total as 27.
Scaggs was regarded as a “rough” man. He rented out skilled enslaved people, such as blacksmith Robert Skaggs, who worked independently in Lecompton. Marcus Freeman’s sister, Charity, married Robert Skaggs. By 1859, it had become clear that slavery would soon be banned in Kansas. Scaggs removed to Texas with all his “property.” Charity went with her husband, with the permission of the Bayne family. Free-state men had threatened to liberate the enslaved people, so Scaggs armed them, trusting them to guard his $10,000 in specie on the journey.
In January 1861, Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state. In April 1861, the American Civil War began. Marcus Freeman recalled, “I was working in the printing office for Van Horn and A. Beal on the Kansas City Journal at the time of the firing on Sumpter, and worked the press when they were getting out the extras for the occasion. I remember the excitement well.” In March 1863, Marcus married Mary Ann Jones at the Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence, Kansas, where he was working as a cook. According to the Topeka Plaindealer newspaper, Marcus was working at the Eldridge at the time of Quantrill’s raid in August 1863.
In October 1864, Thomas and William Bayne enlisted in Company N, 4th Regiment, Kansas State Militia. From the Kansas State Historical Society, Militia rolls, Oct. 9-26, 1864, Kansas Memory, vol. 2, p. 79: “T.R. Bayne went out as Orderly, was elected Capt. on the 16th Oct., 1864, took command on the next day, commanded the Co. up to the state line, when he deserted and led his company home, except the former Capt. who left the Co. and crossed the line. Capt. Bayne lost his Muster Roll and all the papers belonging to the company. All the other members of the Co. deserted Friday and Friday night, the 22nd of Oct., 1864. . . Most of the Co. refuses to assign the Pay Rolls and Muster Rolls. Each man in the Company drawed one single blanket, the price of which I do not know.”
Kansas militia units helped to defeat the Confederate and guerilla forces of Gen. Sterling Price at the Battle of Westport on Oct. 23, 1864. Militia enlistees were not required to cross the border into Missouri. Thomas’s company and other units who remained in Kansas were within their rights.
The Baynes may have had a personal reason to avoid the battle. Their young half-brother, James Warner Bayne, called “Warner,” had joined Company B of the Confederate 12th Missouri cavalry regiment under Col. David Shanks. Company B was recruited in Jackson County, Missouri, in 1862-63. The 12th participated in Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas in 1864. Warner Bayne was taken prisoner and died at Fort Leavenworth in November 1864.
Theodore Frederick Bayne, Thomas’s youngest brother, was shot to death on the Kaw bottom (in or near Rising Sun) on August 20, 1865, by Robert Higgins in a dispute over a young lady. Higgins ran away. Laura Bayne, the youngest sister, married Joseph McCall in 1865. She died in 1868.
Alexander Bayne’s third wife, Elizabeth, died in 1866. A year later he married Angeline McAninch in Johnson County, Missouri. Alexander studied medicine and practiced as a country doctor in Missouri and Kansas in the 1870s. He died at the home of his son Thomas in 1883. In 1880-81, William Bayne served as sheriff of Jefferson County. He died in 1911.
Thomas Bayne served as a Jefferson County commissioner in 1874. He was elected to the Kansas legislature in 1882. When he died in 1896, the Oskaloosa Independent said, “Although a democrat he was respected by men of all parties.” Susan Bayne died a few months later in 1897.
Thomas and Susan Bayne had six daughters; Sallie and Jessie died young. Nora and Bettie remained at home until 1897. Fannie Bayne Wilson died in 1898. Nora and Bettie raised her daughter and son, Inez and Thomas Bayne Wilson (https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/thomas-bayne-wilson/12238 ), until their father, Benjamin Wilson, remarried in 1903. Maude Bayne married John Morin in 1878; they raised two daughters, Zerelda and Mary Maud. The Morin family moved to California in the 1910s, and Nora and Bettie moved with them.
Robert and Charity Skaggs worked for James Scaggs in Texas, six years enslaved and two as free persons, earning enough money to return to Kansas in 1868 or 1869. William and Thomas Bayne helped them get started farming in Kansas, renting land to them. They bought 50 acres near Big Springs in Douglas County and farmed there for 40 years. They are buried in Eastview Cemetery in Big Springs, along with Charity and Marcus’s mother (and Thomas Bayne’s foster mother), Henrietta Freeman.
In 1871, John Speer reported that James Scaggs, having lost his fortune, was living in Montgomery County, Kansas, renting a cabin from a man he had formerly enslaved.
Marcus Freeman was head cook at the Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence until 1885, when he accepted a position at the Copeland Hotel in Topeka. He was head cook there for nearly 20 years. He owned a barbershop in Topeka, and Mary Ann opened a bakery there in 1894.
They had five children. Only their daughter, Mayme Johns Shane, survived them. Marcus Freeman died in 1905.
According to the Topeka Plaindealer, Marcus Freeman “was one of the best cooks of his day, and was well acquainted with most of the leading men of the state and nation. He was a drawing card for the Copeland as it was often said by drummers and politicians that they longed to get back to Topeka to get some of his cooking.” But in 1901, the Copeland let Marcus Freeman go. “Mark Freeman for many years head shef (sic) at the Copeland Hotel was relieved on Saturday night,” according to the June Topeka Plaindealer in 1901. “His place was filled by a white cook.”
In 1895, Zu Adams of the Kansas State Historical Society, interviewed Marcus Freeman for a collection of narratives about slavery in Kansas. Marcus was reluctant to give her permission to publish his memoir unless she first consulted Thomas Bayne. “Mr. Bayne,” he said, “has always been a good friend of mine, and I don’t want to hurt him. . . He was offered at one time $1,800 for me. A man named Davis wanted me for his father’s farm in the south. Mr. Bayne was kind to his slaves. He would buy cloth for himself and me off of the same piece of goods. . . When the colored refugees came over into Kansas during the war, many of them came up the river as far as Lawrence. They were destitute. Mr. Bayne assisted them in many ways. He invited [them] to come out to his woodland and carry in all the wood they needed for fuel, free of cost.”
When Zu Adams wrote to Thomas Bayne, he responded with a few additions to Marcus’s account, and offered his reaction to her project, “I am not ashamed of having owned Slaves. Of course we knew that we had a great responsibility on our hands but was willing to meet it – we was not like northern people covered solely by prophet. . . but it is of no use to write on this Subject – the northern people don’t now understand what Slavery was and never will.”
This paternalistic attitude was common among Kansas slaveholders, according to Marc Allan Charboneau: “Because they had convinced themselves that slaves had accepted their enslavement willingly, slaveholders placed blame for disloyalty on abolitionists and other free-soilers in the territory. Paternalism relied on a hopeful belief that by treating slaves decently, they would reciprocate with loyalty and docility. Slaveholders had difficulty admitting that perhaps the slaves were not as contented with their condition as they seemed. . . As for the slaves, they rejected any paternalistic attempts of control by the masters and instead chose to take advantage of a unique opportunity for freedom offered by Kansas.”
When Thomas Bayne ran for the Kansas senate in 1892, Marcus Freeman told a reporter, “Tom Bayne is a good neighbor, but he is on the wrong side, and always was, and these times when these fellows are bidding for the colored vote, I feel like drawing history on them. They can’t stand history. I’m a free man, . . . but it is no thanks to Tom Bayne. No self-respecting colored man can vote for him.”
* Written and researched by Jane Hoskinson, editor of the Jefferson County Genealogical Society publication, Yesteryears, with research assistance from Liz Leech. Jane was an editor for University Relations at the University of Kansas for 35 years, but got her start in journalism at age 11 working for her father, John P. Hoskinson, at the Oskaloosa Independent.
- Bald Eagle, Lecompton Historical Society, Vol. 16, No. 2, Summer 1990
- Bayne, Nora, letter to A.E. Van Petten, Sept. 11, 1926, Kansas Historical Society (printed in Yesteryears, October 1992)
- Charboneau, Marc Allan, “Slave Territory, Free State: Slaveholders and Slaves in Early Kansas,” M.A. Thesis, Emporia State University, Dec. 18, 1999
- Cory, C.E., “Slavery in Kansas,” Kansas Historical Collections, Vol. 7, pp. 229-242
- Cutler, William G., History of the State of Kansas, published by A.T. Andreas, 1883
- The Kansas Blackman, Topeka, Kansas, Aug. 31, 1894
- Kansas Historical Society, https://www.kshs.org/, https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/kansapedia/19539, https://www.kansasmemory.org/
- The Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital, Topeka, Kansas, Nov. 10, 1892
- Leech, Elizabeth A., “Jefferson County Jayhawkers and Forgotten Freestaters,” https://jeffersonjayhawkers.com/
- The Oskaloosa Independent, Aug. 15, 1860; Aug. 26, 1865; Aug. 7, 1880; Nov. 27, 1896
- Patrick, A.G., “Old Settler’s Corner,” Oskaloosa Times, Apr. 18, 1902
- Portrait and Biographical Album of Jackson, Jefferson and Pottawatomie Counties, Kansas, 1890
- Territorial Kansas (reminiscences of Marcus Freeman, John Armstrong and John Speer; letters from Thomas Bayne and John E. Stewart), https://territorialkansasonline.ku.edu/index.php
- The Topeka Daily Capital, Aug. 23, 1879; Dec. 15, 1888
- The Topeka Plaindealer, Dec. 14, 1900; Apr. 7, 1905
[i] “Scaggs” is the spelling in the earliest Jefferson County documents. “Skaggs” or “Skeggs” is the spelling that appears on the memorial of Robert and Charity Skaggs and in many later documents.
2 thoughts on “Thomas Bayne and Marcus Freeman: Slavery in Jefferson County, Kansas Territory”
I read this as soon as I saw it. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing the article.
Jane did a fine job with this piece. I hope I can persuade her to write some more guest posts.