The Immortal Ten and the Rescue of John Doy

The story below is by Kansan James B. Abbott, who in July 1859 collected a force of 10 men to sweep into Missouri and spring Underground Railroad operator John Doy from jail. An early Lawrence, Kansas Territory, settler and dedicated abolitionist, Doy had been convicted of going into Missouri and luring a slave from bondage to seek freedom in the north, action that was illegal both in Missouri and the nation.

Doy, his son, Charles Doy, and a wagon driver, Wilbur Clough, had been trying to move 13 freedom-seekers north on the Underground Railroad in January 1859 when they were ambushed south of Oskaloosa in Jefferson County, Kansas Territory. They were seized and hurried across the Missouri River to the slave state of Missouri. There, John Doy was charged with one of the crimes that slavery laws offered to ensure that the owners of human beings were protected against property (slaves) loss.

A Missouri jury convicted the Kansan on the charge late in June 1859 and Doy was about to be sent off to prison in Jefferson City. Doy’s Kansas Territory supporters decided they would have to act. The 10 men who usurped what they saw as an illegal outrage against Doy pulled off a stunning jail rescue and earned them the name “The Immortal Ten.”

Our focus here in Jefferson County Jayhawkers and Forgotten Freestaters is on the local threads of this and other stories. Know now that there were no Jefferson County people among the Immortal 10.

But the story has revealed local threads Jefferson County has not seen in its local history tales. As we prick out these local history threads, read Mr. Abbott’s engaging tale of how he and nine other believers in liberty managed to bust Doy out of the St. Joseph jail and take Doy across the Missouri and back into Kansas Territory.

From the far northeast corner of Kansas they brought him home to Lawrence. On the way, James Abbott stopped the group in Jefferson County and received food and rest at the home of the Rev. Josiah B. McAfee at at Grasshopper Falls (Valley Falls). A few miles farther and fearful that Missourians would follow, Abbott called for an armed escort in the form of Captain Jesse Newell’s rifle company, which guarded the group on the final leg of the trip, from Oskaloosa  into Lawrence.

Footnotes and images were added by the author of this blog and are not included in the original transcription. Readers are gently warned of racist language or images contained in the media of 1859.

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Transcribed from Kansas Historical Collections – Vol. IV, 1886-1888

The Rescue of Dr. John W. Doy

[A paper read by Maj. James B. Abbott, of DeSoto, before the Kansas State Historical Society, at the annual meeting, January 15, 1889.]

In the long, bitter strife which had grown out of the settlement of Kansas, between the Free-State and Pro-Slavery elements, the slave was far from being the least interested party. He saw in the organization of a free State, so near, peopled by an aggressive and determined class of opposers of the peculiar institution, opportunities to escape from his bondage, and to place himself upon the line of possibilities for advancement and development, to which every man is of right entitled.

He learned from the harangues of the Pro-Slavery leaders, the size location, and political character of every village and town in the Territory, as well as the political character of the active men who inhabited them; and thus he was early, but unintentionally, taught the places and men to shun, as well as the places and men to trust.

When the master began to realize the danger he was in by attempting to hold thinking property in such close proximity to a live free State, the effort to remove said property farther south was naturally suggested and acted upon. This action on the part of the owners prompted the slave to make an effort to secure his freedom before the difficulties were increased and the opportunities were gone, and so it is not at all strange that hardly a week passed that some way-worn bondman did not find his way into Lawrence, the best-advertised anti-slavery town in the world, and where the slave was sure to receive sympathy and encouragement, and was sent on his way rejoicing either by himself or with others, as the circumstances seemed to suggest was most wise.

Frequent attempts were made, however, to kidnap these colored pilgrims and take them back to Missouri by slave-hunters from that State, assisted by some of the border-ruffians who still resided in the Territory, and free-born colored men were in no wise exempt from the efforts of these kidnappers.

In the winter of 1858 and 1859, Charles Fisher and Wm. Riley (two free-born mulattoes) were kidnapped and carried off, but succeeded in making their escape, and came back to Lawrence.

It was said that there was more money to the kidnapper in the free man than in the slave, because he only got a reward of $100 for the return of a slave, but for the free man he received one-half of what he could be sold for.

This condition of things made it very unsafe and disagreeable for the colored residents of Lawrence, and as there were a few colored strangers in town, after consulting with some of the principal citizens it was decided to raise a sum of money to assist those who desired, to go to Iowa, and thus enable them to find their way into some safe locality where they could earn their living and be free of danger and fear of being kidnapped.

Rev. Ephraim Nute and Charles Stearns were selected to make the necessary arrangements to start the colored emigrants on their way.

On the 18th of January 1859, an arrangement was made with Dr. John Doy to take a party of colored persons as far as Holton. The party consisted of eight men, three women and two children, sixteen altogether, all of whom had free papers except Wilson Hays and Charles Smith, two colored men, who had been employed as cooks at the Eldridge House in the city of Lawrence and were known to be free men. On the 25th of January everything being in readiness, the party started, crossed the Kansas river at Lawrence, and traveled about twelves miles from Lawrence in the direction of Oskaloosa.

The colored men had been walking behind the wagons for an hour or more, coming to a down-grade of considerable distance, they all got into two covered wagons which were already nearly full of camp equipage, and women and children. No precaution had been taken to put out advance or rear guards or scouts, and they had traveled but a short distance when they were surprised and halted by a body consisting of about twenty mounted armed men, and being in no condition to make a defense, were compelled to make an unconditional surrender; and when asked by the Doctor what authority they had for arresting them, were told, by their leader, “Here is our authority,” putting the muzzle of his revolver at the Doctor’s head.

Among the men recognized by Dr. Doy was Jake Hurd, a notorious kidnapper; Dr. Garvin, the Democratic postmaster at Lawrence; two brothers by the name of McGhee, and a man by the name of Whitley, who afterwards was known as Gen. Whitley, and was a detective at the Treasury Department, Washington, where he gained some notoriety, if not honor.

 

After a long parley, the whole party, consisting of the colored passengers, Dr. Doy, his son Charles, and a man by the  name of Clough, were persuaded by promises of reward, threats and force of arms, to move on toward Weston, Missouri, where they arrived the following day, after enduring abuse and threats from as vulgar and foul-mouthed a band of ruffians as ever were congregated to do a mean and cruel act, for filthy lucre.

After the arrival at Weston, the Doctor and his son Charles were arraigned and examined before a justice of the peace, or rather went through the farce of an examination, and were held and committed to the Platte county jail to await their trial on the charge of abducting slaves from Missouri, although they had never been in that State since they first passed into Kansas, which was in July, 1854.

Before the 20th of March 1859, the day set for the trial, the Kansas Legislature had met and made an appropriation of $1,000 to defray the expense of the trial, and ex-Gov. Shannon and Attorney-General Davis, two distinguished Democratic lawyers of Kansas, were sent over to make the defense; but they found such a bitter prejudice against the prisoners that they decided to make an application for a change of venue, which the judge granted, and the Doctor and his son Charles were sent to St. Joseph for trial heavily ironed. At the trial, which lasted three days, the jury did not agree, and were discharged on Sunday afternoon, and on Monday the prosecuting attorney entered a nolle prosequi in the case of Charles Doy[i], but the Doctor was bound over to take his trial at the adjourned term, June 20th, in the sum of $5,000; and although Doy’s friends offered to furnish security in the sum of $20,000, in Kansas, yet no man dared to go on his bonds in Missouri –and so the Doctor was remanded to prison.

On the second day of the adjourned term of the Circuit Court of Buchanan county, it being the 21st day of June, the Doctor’s case was called, and although the proof was positive that Doy had nothing to do with the abduction of a slave, yet he was found guilty by the jury and sentenced to serve five years in the penitentiary at hard labor; but upon demand the judge suspended the execution of the sentence until the opinion of the Supreme Court could be obtained.

There were still twelve other indictments pending, one for each of the other colored persons kidnapped in his company—Doy having been tried only for the abduction of a slave claimed by the Mayor of Weston.[ii] So it will be readily seen that whatever the opinion of the Supreme Court might be, Doy would still be in jeopardy, and have no assurance that he would be set at liberty. This condition of affairs was fully appreciated by his friends in Kansas, and especially by Messrs. Nute and Stearns, who, without due regard for fitness, had employed a man to perform a most dangerous and responsible duty who was almost totally disqualified by the want of due caution, while all conceded his courage and loyalty to the cause of freedom. The result was, that not only Dr. Doy was now suffering, but all those who had been placed under his charge had been captured and returned to slavery, their hopes crushed, and their lives made more bitter and unbearable than if they had never made an attempt to obtain their liberty.

The question uppermost in the minds of the justice-loving people of Lawrence and vicinity was, what ought to be done in the case of Dr. Doy, all legal means having been tried and failed?

They believed with the fathers, that all men were created equal, and endowed with the right of liberty, which right could not be forfeited, except by the perpetration of a crime; that he who finds himself deprived of this right without just cause has not only the moral right, but it is his duty, not only to himself but to his race and all races, to make an effort to regain it, and to ask and demand of his friends that they shall help make his effort a success. Dr. Doy when asked for help had responded, and done the best he could. In so doing he lost his own liberty, but not his right to liberty; and so the general verdict of the people was, Dr. Doy ought to be rescued and brought home to his family.

On the 20th of July, 1859, and but five days before the opinion of the Supreme Court would decide the case of Dr. Doy, Mr. Stearns and Mr. Nute called at an early hour in the morning at my place of business in the city of Lawrence, and requested me to call at Mr. Stearns’s store as soon as I could as they wished to discuss a matter of great importance, that required immediate attention.

Immortal Ten Kansas Memory Item 220373
This image , showing John Doy seated in front, is from the Kansas State Historical Society’s Kansas Memory site, Item 220363, and was taken in the summer of 1859.  The standing men, The Immortal Ten, from left to right are identified by the KSHS as Major James B. Abbott, Captain Joshua Pike, Jacob Sinex, Joseph Gardner, Thomas Simmons, S.J. Willis, Charles Doy (plaid shirt), Captain John E. Stewart, Silas Soule and George R. Hay.

As soon as I could leave, I called at Mr. Stearns’s store, and found him and Nute present, and Mr. Stearns commenced by saying: “It is generally known that it was through our instrumentality that Dr. Doy was placed in charge of the colored people who were kidnapped. His friends and his attorneys believe if he is not rescued before, that next Monday will see Dr. Doy on his way to the penitentiary, there to remain at least five years, if he should live so long; and we feel especially called upon to make an earnest endeavor to secure his release before it is too late. We have carefully looked over the field, and have come to the conclusion to place the matter in your hands, and urge you to make up such an organization as you may deem suitable, to effect the Doctor’s rescue, take charge of the expedition, and be on your way as soon as possible.”

I asked him if he had any plan to suggest by which he thought the object could be accomplished. His answer was, that the company should consist of about fifty Sharps-rifle men, and that a charge should be made at an early hour in the morning, break open the jail and take Doy and hasten back to the river before the St. Joseph people had time to recover from their surprise. On further inquiry, I found that there was but about $30 on hand with which to defray the expenses of the expedition—a sum too insignificant to consider, with which to defray the expenses of so large a party. Finally, after listening to the suggestions of the gentlemen for some time, this proposition was made to them:

You must say to all who speak to you on this subject, that you have given up all hopes of a rescue, and will rely wholly upon obtaining a pardon from the Governor. I will try to find nine good men, and that I know to be good, to join the party, and no man shall know the object of the organization except those that go and yourselves. We will take the $30 you have on hand, and the balance I will furnish if any more if needed. We will go to St. Joseph and carefully look the changes over, and if we find good grounds to believe that a rescue can be made without too great a loss, we will make the attempt, but if we believe the chances against us are too great, we will abandon the enterprise and come home. Whatever the result may be, I think now I can tell what the verdict of the people will be. If we come home without making an attempt, it will be said that we were cowards. If we attempt and are destroyed, it will be said that we were fools. If we attempt and succeed, it will be said, well done. My hopes are, that with a small party, we may be able,  by taking a prisoner to the jail in the nighttime, to get possession of the building without raising an alarm.

This proposition was accepted by Mr. Stearns and Mr. Nute  and it was understood that their lips were to be sealed on that subject until we returned.

St. Joseph was then a city of nearly 11,000 inhabitants, composed largely of the most radical fire-eating Pro-Slavery men; and a daily mail line was established between St. Joseph and Lawrence, and if it had been suspected in Lawrence that such an expedition was being fitted out, St. Joseph would have been duly notified; and nicely laid traps would have been set for us, before we arrived, and instead of a rescue of John Doy there would have been ten abolition hides nailed to the bulletin boards of St. Joseph. Hence the necessity for extreme caution, and particular attention to detail.

By four o’clock of said day the party was organized; and it consisted of the following names persons: Silas S. Soule, J.A. Pike, S.J. Willes, Joseph Gardner, Thomas Simmons, Charles Doy, Jacob Sinex, J.E. Stewart, George Hay and James B. Abbott as captain. There were two two-horse wagons, the teams driven by their owners, Sinex and Simmons, and three saddle horses. The arms consisted of three sporting-rifles, about fifteen revolvers, five or six knives with blades from six to eighteen inches long, and a slung-shot of lead cast in an egg-shell. No Sharps rifles were permitted, as a Sharps rifle was a badge of a Kansas abolitionist, and if seen would excite suspicion.

Mr. Stearns gave me a letter of introduction to Mr. D.W. Wilder, then a resident of Elwood, opposite St. Joseph, where our party was to meet, and not a member of the party had an acquaintance in Elwood or St. Joseph that they knew of.

About five o’clock that evening I bade my wife good-bye, received an assurance from her that the Doctor would come back with us, and young Soule and myself mounted our horses and started quietly on our journey. After we had been gone a few hours and as night came on, the rest of the party moved out without attracting any attention, and so the starting of the expedition had been a success.

On Friday morning we all arrived in Elwood in good health and heart, and in order to have some excuse for being often together, it was agreed that those who came in the wagons should hail from Pike’s Peak, as that was the year of the great emigration to and from the New Eldorado of the Rockies. Of course the Pike’s Peak boys were disgusted with the result of their trip, and were anxious to sell their teams, wagons and outfits, and return home; and some of us were anxious to buy them out, when we could buy cheap enough; and thus was found an excuse for being together whenever occasion required without raising suspicion. After a somewhat late breakfast I took my letter of introduction to the residence of Mr. Wilder, and to my great regret found that he had gone East. But it occurred to me that there was a Free-State paper published in St. Joseph, and taking Mr. Willes[iii] along, we crossed the Missouri river and soon found ourselves in the office and presence of Dr. Edwin H. Grant, the editor of the St. Joseph Democrat. I introduced myself to the Doctor by saying that I was passing through his city, and learned that there was a Free-State paper being published in this place; that I had a curiosity to see a Free-State paper that could be published in that portion of Missouri, and I had made up my mind to subscribe for it. The Doctor at once took my name, and when I gave him my address he remarked that there was a resident of Lawrence now confined in the St. Joseph jail. I inquired his name, and was told that it was Dr. John Doy. I informed the editor that I knew Dr. Doy quite well, and asked him the nature of the offense for which he was imprisoned. He then gave me a history of Dr. Doy’s case, and declared in a most impassioned and impressive manner that Doy had been outraged, from the time of his arrest upon the charge of kidnapping, through the trial to the sentence, and that it was a wonder to the Free-State people of Missouri that the Kansas boys had not, before this, taken Doy out of jail and carried him home. He told us further, that he was in the habit of visiting Doy in his cell as often as once a week, to take him papers from among his exchanges.

When I became satisfied of Grant’s reliability, I told him the object of our visit, and made known to him our plans. He at once offered to join our force with all his employes, assuring us that every man in his office would be as true as steel to the cause. We thanked him for his offer, but told him that while we should need information in the execution of our plans, which he could more safely and readily acquire than we, being strangers, yet we could not permit him to jeopardize hjis life or his property by taking a hand in the active work which might have to be done. If we succeeded, a red-hot day would follow, but we expected to be away. But the friends of Doy who remained and were suspected of taking a part in the rescue, were bound to suffer, and his safety depended upon his keeping off of the line of suspicion. Our plan was to take a pretended horse thief to jail about eleven o’clock at night, and by that means get into, and possession of the jail.

But Dr. Grant was of the opinion that all criminals captured after night were placed in the city caboose and remained there until they had a hearing, and this statement seemed to be confirmed by the opinions of his friends; and so for the time being we abandoned the original plan, and began preparations to break into the jail, and to that end we procured some large files, and ascertained where we could on short notice procure hammers, sledges and chisels. Through Dr. Grant we made an arrangement with some of the Elwood boys, by which they were to procure boats, and have them at a convenient point on the St. Joseph side of the river, at twelve o’clock at night, of the following day, which would be Saturday. In the mean time the boys of our party  were promenading through the streets and alleys of the city in order to become familiar with the cuts, fills and embankments, and dangerous places, so that if we found it necessary to make a rapid retreat, we could do so without greatly endangering our lives, for at that time there was a large force of men engaged in grading the streets, and some of the cuts were very deep.

Elwood, Gunn and Mitchell's New Map of Kansas and the Gold Mines (up to 1862)
This is a photograph of a print of a portion of  Gunn & Mitchell’s New Map of Kansas and the Gold Mines, show Kansas up to 1862. The towns on the route the Immortal Ten would have taken to rescue John Doy from his Missouri jail St. Joseph to the Elwood area, then south to Valley Falls, Oskaloosa and back to Lawrence.

Up to Saturday morning the weather had been hot and dry, and the streets were very dusty, but now the rain began to fall, and it thundered and lightened by spells all day, and the rain was very heavy and continuous until nine o’clock at night, and the newly graded streets and sidewalks were so muddy that they were almost impassable.

At noon we were still expecting to have to force our way into the jail, and in order to ascertain the most vulnerable point of attack, young Soule was detailed to go into the jail and make as full investigation of the condition of the building as the opportunity would admit. Soule immediately repaired to the jail, informed the jailer that he had a verbal message from Mrs. Doy to her husband, Dr. John Doy, who he understood was a prisoner in the building. The jailer, Mr. Brown, immediately led the way to the door of the room where the Doctor was confined, and threw open the outside or heavy oaken door, leaving the iron-grated door between the Doctor and Soule. After the usual greetings, Soule informed the Doctor that he was in Lawrence a few days ago, and called on his wife, and told her that he expected to pass through St. Joseph on his way East, and if she had any message to send to her husband he would probably have time to deliver it, and Mrs. Doy wished him to say to the Doctor that his friends had given up all hopes of obtaining his release through the courts, and that undoubtedly in a few days he would be sent to the penitentiary in accordance with the sentence of the court; but the efforts of his friends would not cease, and they hoped and prayed the time would soon come, when such an appeal would be made to the Governor of Missouri, that through him they would be able to obtain that justice which the court had failed to grant him. She said also that her health was poor; she dared not attempt a journey to St. Joseph, and so she was compelled to forego her great desire to see him before he was taken away. But he must keep a good heart, and remember that He who tempers the winds to the shorn lamb will not forget His own child, who suffers for a kindness done to the unfortunate.

After Soule had given his message, he succeeded in prolonging his time by giving bits of news, scandal, &c., until he had made a tolerable good survey of the premises, and succeeded in turning the attention of the jailer away from him long enough to pass to Doy, through the grates, a ball of twine and a paper, on which was written, “To-night, at twelve o’clock.” He then bade the doctor good-bye, and thanking the jailer for his courtesy, hurried back to make his report, which was, that with the best implements that we could get, it would take at least two hours of unmolested hard work to get through the doors into the room where Doy was confined.

Of course this was very discouraging, but while we were discussing the matter, Dr. Grant came and told us that he had just learned that all criminals taken outside of the city limits in the night-time were taken to the jail. This settled the question, and we at once went back to my first plan. It was decided to change the time appointed, to eleven o’clock instead of twelve, so if possible to get through and get through and get onto the street about eleven and one’half o’clock, at which time, under an ordinance of the city, the theaters closed on Saturday nights, we to join in with the theater-goers on their way home, and thus avoid attracting attention of the police. Changing the time of operations would prevent us getting the Elwood boats, for there was not time nor opportunity to get the Elwood boys word, and so Mr. Willes and myself hunted up two boats that were about a block apart, found some oars in another place, and as soon as it was dark had the boys walk to the boats and back to our quarters a number of times so that they could find the boats without difficulty in the dark.

The jail was located near the center of a block a little northeast of the business part of the city, and nearly in the center of the city. The court house was to the best of my recollection about 200 feet south and 100 feet west of the jail, in the same block. The streets on three sides of said block had been graded so as to leave a bank next to the street from four to fifteen feet. A night watch was stationed at the court house, whose duty it was to take care of the court house and jail. As soon as it was dark Soule was detailed to keep his eyes on said watchman till we came, but be careful that the watchman did not get his eye on him, and we were certain that the work would be well done.

At about a quarter to eleven we started for the jail. The rain had ceased, but the clouds were thick, and it was a little foggy, and the darkness could almost be felt. After we passed from the business streets, there were no street laps. The rains had cooled off the atmosphere so that the windows in the dwellings were closed, and the lights were out, ad the appearances indicated that the inhabitants in that portion of the city were in a profound slumber – for all of which we thanked God and took courage. But in order to keep together without talking, we were compelled to take hold of hands, because we could not distinguish anything by the eye.

When we got near the jail we halted, and Soule came to us and reported that the watchman had just visited the jail, and returned to the south side of the court house, where he was now sitting under the porch. Soule was ordered to take Sinex with him, and take a position where they could see every movement of the watchman, and while they were to be very careful not to alarm him, yet they were to be more careful that he did not alarm anyone else. While all the members of the party understood the general plan that was to be executed, no one knew what part he was to take, until we arrived on the ground. To Mr. Willes was assigned the duty of leading spokesman. Mr. Simmons was to take the part of a horse-thief, with his hands apparently tied with a cord which was attached to a sling-shot. Mr. Gardener[iv] was detailed to sustain Mr. Willes, using his best judgment and discretion, and they were started without an instant’s delay, to their work, with the positive assurance that they would be protected in the rear.

The three went promptly to the door of the jail and the ordinary raps were made on the door. In less than half a minute the window overhead was raised, and the questions were asked, “Who is there? What is wanted?” Mr. Willes replied, “We have a horse-thief we would like to put in jail for sake keeping.” The answer was, “Wait a minute and I will be down.” Then I was certain we should succeed. I knew if they got to work before they had time to get nervous, they would go through all right. When Mr. Brown the jailer came and opened the door, he bade them walk in, and inquired if they had the papers for making the arrest, and if either of them was an officer. The answer was: No, we are only private citizens; but the facts in the case are these: this man was in the employ of one of our neighbors down in the southeast portion of this county, and last night, while he and his employer were trying to make a settlement they disagreed as to the amount that was due, and came to hard words, and this man left the house. In the morning one of our neighbors’ horses was missing as, was also this man, and it was generally believed he was the thief, and a number of parties started out in different directions in search of the horse and thief. It so happened we struck his trail and followed till nearly night, when we overtook and found him and the horse under a shed about six or eight miles from the city.”  Mr. Brown seemed loth to receive him without the proper papers, saying if it should so appear that this man was not guilty, he and his bondsmen might be held for heavy damages. Both Mr. Willes and Mr. Gardner assured him there could not possibly be any mistake about his guilt. Mr. Brown turned to Simmons and said, “Are you willing to acknowledge that you stole the horse?” Simmons, in a rough and insolent manner replied, “Do you suppose that I am a d—-d fool? No, sir! I won’t do anything of the kind. I expect to have a trial.” Simmon’s manner seemed to “rile” Mr. Brown somewhat, and he replied, “I believe you are a thief, and I will take the chances and put you in.” The prisoner was then taken to the door where Soule had met Dr. Doy. Mr. Brown got the keys and unlocked the oak and grated doors, and told Simmons to walk in, but Simmons, seeing the drawing of a human skeleton on the wall declared he would not go into such a place. Mr. Brown walked into the room evidently to give assurance to Mr. Simmons, when Mr. Gardner, not seeing Dr. Doy, and thinking that they might be going into a trap, said, “Brown, what has become of that old nigger-thief, Dow or Day, or some such name?” “Perhaps,” said Brown, “you mean Dr. Doy; if so, he is here,” and Doy immediately came to the door with his bundle. Then said Mr. Gardner, “This is but a ruse to take the Doctor home to his family.”  Mr. Brown made an effort to close the door and shut Doy in, but when he saw three powerful men with deadly weapons in  their hands and determination on their faces, he saw that resistance was useless, and he permitted Doy to come out, and the remainder of the prisoners were coming too, had they not been forced back at the muzzle of a revolver—for Doy, at risk of his own life and of his friends’, had been true to his failing (indiscretion), and told his fellow-prisoners that he was sure of being released that night, and they had their bundles ready to depart with him.

While this proceeding had been going on in the jail, the rest of our men had been on alert, guarding against surprise from without. I had taken a position in the reception-room as soon as Brown had opened the way to the prison, so that I could take cognizance of what was going on inside and out. There was a bed in the reception-room, occupied by a man named Slayback, a friend of the jailer, and who had been detained on account of the storm. When he heard me come in he became somewhat alarmed, but his fears were soon quieted when I told him I was one of the party who helped capture the horse-thief, and he said he thought we had done a good thing, to which I heartily assented. As soon as Brown came down with Dr. Doy and the other three men, Mr. Willes introduced him to me as their captain. I told him we had not time to stand on formalities, that that as soon as we had left the room he must put out the lights, lock his doors, and remain perfectly quiet until daylight; that I should leave a strong guard at the jail, and any attempt by him or any member of his family to leave the premises or to raise an alarm, would be done at the peril of their lives.  Mr. Brown replied that this proceeding would place him in a very awkward and unpleasant position with this friends, and it would be difficult to satisfy them that he was not acting in collusion with Doy’s rescuers. I replied, “In the morning you can publish a statement of this business as it appears to you, and fortunately you have a friend at hand who will corroborate your statement. When we get home we will publish a statement of the case just as it actually occurs, and we will exonerate you from intending to give us any assistance whatever;” and thanking him for his uniformly kind treatment of Dr. Doy, I took him by the hand, and again cautioning him to see that my injunctions were obeyed, I bade him good-night and we left the room, and the lights went out, showing that the first order had been obeyed. The guard that was left consisted of the jailer’s fears.

John Doy Reward, Negro Advertisements The_Weekly_West_Sun__Aug_14__1859_
Buchanan County Sheriff M.D. Morgan quickly got up a reward for John Doy’s “re-arrest” after his Kansas friends got him out of jail. The ads below the sheriff’s notice were typical for many Missouri newspapers in that time. The image is from The Weekly West in St. Joseph, Missouri, August 14, 1859.

A signal brought our party together, and we were on the way. The moon had risen, and although it was still cloudy, we could distinguish forms, and had no difficulty in seeing our way. We got into the business portion of the city, which was still lighted, just as the theater let out. We at once mixed up with the theater-goers, and worked our way toward our boats, and after we arrived within about 200 yards of the river, our party divided and part went to the lower boat, but Doy went with those who were to take the upper boat, and they were followed by two policemen with lanterns to the river, who held their lights while one of the men bailed out the boat with his hat, and until the boats were pushed from the shore, into the strong current of the Missouri. We soon hauled our borrowed boats high and dry on the sandbar on the Kansas side, and (in our hearts) thanking the owners for their use, we hitched up our teams, and, with Dr. Stewart for our guide, at about twelve o’clock were on our winding way for Lawrence. Our guide stayed with us till about eight o’clock, and until he had procured for us of one of his friends a good breakfast and feed for our horses, which was fully appreciated. About ten o’clock in the morning we observed six horsemen coming about a mile in our rear, and when they got within a half-mile of us they continued about that far off. When we stopped for dinner at one o’clock they stopped also. Soon we observed a footman leaving said party, and when he arrived we interviewed him and satisfied ourselves that he was sent to ascertain if Doy was with us, as well as the strength of our party. As we were ready to start, the gentleman being on foot, we pressed him so hard to ride with us, that he could not refuse, and he continued with us till dark, when he was seated by the road-side, and as he left, advised the gentleman not to follow our party. I suppose he acted upon the advice, as we never saw him afterwards.

About ten o’clock that night we found our way to a farm-house situated a little off from the road, near what was then known as Grasshopper Falls, owned and occupied by Rev. J.B. McAfee, now known as Hon. J.B. McAfee, present member of the Legislature from Shawnee county, at which place we were well fed and made very comfortable. Thinking that it was more than likely that the horseman who followed us would endeavor to get reinforced at Lecompton and try to recapture Dr. Doy, word was sent to Captain Jesse Newell, of Oskaloosa, to furnish an escort; and when we arrived at his place we found the Captain on hand with the following-named officers of his rifle company, to wit: Jerome Hazen, First Lieutenant; J. I. Forbes, Second Lieutenant; John Newell, Gil. Towner, Robert Newell, James Monroe, Resolve Fuller, M. R. Dutton – privates; and eight or ten others. And without delay we passed on, most of the escort going to within a few miles of Lawrence, and the captain and a few of his men going the whole distance, where we arrived about six o’clock in the evening, and where we also found the streets lined with people, listening to the glowing accounts of the “Doy Rescue” published in the St. Joseph papers, which had arrived about an hour before us, and which was the first intimation the public had that an attempt at rescue had been made.

Immortal Ten stars The_St__Joseph_Weekly_Free_Democrat_Sat__Aug_6__1859_
This newspapers.com image from The St. Joseph Weekly Free Democrat  shows the letter published anonymously immediately after Doy’s rescue from jail by The Immortal Ten. Here the ten men are represented by stars. The article was published Aug. 6, 1859. The newspaper article may been seen here.

And in closing this sketch it is but due for me to say, that all the members of this little band under my command and leadership, engaged in this dangerous enterprise, manifested a cool and daring courage, wise discretion, and determined zeal in the execution of every duty to which they were severally assigned; and it has ever been, and must ever be a consolation to each that in its execution no one, either friend or foe, was wronged or injured in person or property.

While it was my intention, in connection with this sketch, to have given a brief biography of the actors in said drama, the time to which I am limited compels me to only say, that all the members of said party, with the exception of Charles Doy, who died before the commencement of the war of the Rebellion, took an active and honorable part in the war, two having died in the service, four since the war, leaving but four now living.

[i] Charles Doy – Son of John Doy and Jane Dunn Doy, born around 1830 in New York state, came to Kansas Territory with his parents early in the free-state versus slavery struggle. Doy was jailed in Missouri with his father in late January 1859 for his Underground Railroad effort but was released three months later when a jury failed to convict the younger Doy. Charles Doy died a year later in Linn County, Kansas Territory, July 1860. He and another man were shot dead by a group of men that accused them of horse theft. (Sources include Ancestry.com and Kansas and Missouri newspapers.)

[ii] Refers to an enslaved man, Dick, owned by Weston (Platte County) Mayor Benjamin Wood. Wood was in the group that ambushed Doy and his group south of Oskaloosa, Kansas Territory, and took them captive to Weston across the Missouri River into Missouri. Doy’s charge was enticing the enslaved man, Dick, from slavery. (Source material found primarily in the book, Runaway and Freed Missouri Slaves and Those Who Helped Them, 1763-1865 by Harriet C. Frazier, published in 2004 by McFarland Company Inc. Additional information from Missouri and Kansas newspapers and Missouri slavery statutes.