Upset Victory at Mahaffie: Kansas Free State Party Prevails
On April 17 & 18, 2004, Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm in Olathe hosted "Civil War on the Border." Over 2,800 spectators attended this free, weekend festival and over 100 Civil War reenactors, territorial civilian reenactors, period sutlers, pioneer skill demonstrators, and musicians participated.
Those Lecompton Reenactors present and accounted for, for all or part of the weekend activities, were Ed Hoover, Charlene & A.K. Winter, Jerry Grant, Tim Rues, Barbara & Lawton Nuss, Diane Eickhoff, and, our newest member, Kevin Hollingshead.
We would be remiss if we failed to recognize Ed for his yeoman.s service in planning, erecting and outfitting our camps. Beginning on Friday afternoon and finishing just in time on Saturday morning, Ed designed a beautiful, period encampment consisting of four, large canvas wall tents with attached flys all festooned with flags and bunting. Colorful, canvas banners, hand-painted by Ed, hung above our small tent city to identify the Temperance/Suffrage/Abolitionist Party Camp; the Free State Party Camp; the Polling Station Camp; and the Proslavery Party Camp.
We began Saturday with the 1855 election of members to the Kansas territorial legislature, redux. When the polls were finally closed at 3 PM on Sunday, over 800 passersby, were sweet-talked, cajoled, and harangued into casting votes in our mock election. In spite of a Saturday morning armed border ruffian invasion of our polling station and numerous and repeated attempts by both sides to stuff the ballot box, the .official. and .certified. election results were as follows: Free State Party 473, (59%)--- Proslavery Party 325, (41%). The original 1855 election results for the 17th Election District encompassing the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm were: 26 votes tallied for each of the three Proslavery candidates; and 23 votes for the three Free State candidates for a total of 153 votes.
My, how times have changed! As you may know from your history books, nearly 150 years ago, the notoriously fraudulent March 30, 1855 legislative election resulted in a lopsided landslide victory for the Proslavery Party 5,427 (87%) vs. Free State Party 791 (13%). Notwithstanding the fact that Governor Reeder.s census of the territory had determined a voting population of only 2,905 legal voters residing in the entire Kansas Territory with a population numbering a meager 8,601 residents, a whopping total of 6,318 ballots were cast in this election. Only 1,410 votes were considered legitimate.
At noon on Saturday and Sunday, the Lecompton Reenactors performed .Bleeding Kansas. on the back porch of the Mahaffie House to sizeable and appreciative audiences. After watching her performance, it seems to this writer that Diane is primed and ready to debut her Clarina Nichols portrayal at the "Bleeding Kansas Chautauqua" performances scheduled throughout June in the communities of Junction City, Colby, Ft. Scott and Lawrence. Three volunteers from the neighboring Civil War camps were recruited and agreed to supplement our cast. A young husband and wife team played the parts of a proslavery Texas man and Sara Robinson. And Kevin Hollingshead, who was mentioned above, portrayed Irishman Finnian Glick, a Free State Leavenworth innkeeper. Kevin.s Irish brogue was more than convincing, it was exquisite! Howard has offered him the part of Chauncey Skinner, a territorial Kansas legislator and member of the American or Know Nothing Party. Kevin has accepted and plans to debut his part on Saturday June 15 at Lane's .Pottawatomie Creek Massacre Days.. Kevin will be a great addition to our Lecompton Reenactor family.