Mary Jane Cantrell

Mary Jane was born, December 1848, in Jackson County Missouri. Her parents were Jacob and Thirza (Land) Cantrell. Thirza Land died and her father, Jacob, married Rebecca Stacey on 8 August 1852, in Jackson County, Missouri.

In 1855, Mary, Rebecca and Jacob Cantrell moved to Kansas from Missouri. At this point, I will let Mary tell you her story, as recorded in a letter to the editor of The Lawrence (Kansas) Daily Journal Newspaper.

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LAWRENCE DAILY JOURNAL
(Lawrence, Kansas Newspaper)
Article written September 2,1924, according to her Personal Journal

Woman Orphaned by border Warfare
Recalls Incidents of Early Kansas Days

To the Journal-World

After reading G.W.E. Griffith's article in the Journal-World, in which he said he would like to hear from any one that might have had a like experience, although my experience would not be just like his, I thought I would tell mine.

I will go back a few years to 1855 and 1856. My father came to Kansas from Missouri intending to make his home in Kansas, which was only a territory then. We stopped north of Baldwin City (It was then called Palmyra). We stopped in the woods about three or four miles from it. Father with his ax and saw and broadax went to work and put up a little cabin. We lived in and out of the wagon until the cabin was ready to move into. That was as soon as the roof was on. It had neither floor nor door. Only an opening for the door and at night the wolves would come in and we could hear them sniffing around. Then Father would make a noise and they would run out. Oh how scared I was! I was about eight years old.

Father stayed there for a while, I cannot remember how long, but I think just through the summer of 1855. When winter came I know we were living in Palmyra in a two-room log house. Only three other houses at that time. I think a hotel was built afterward. The only one that I can remember was Dick Stevens (now gone) who kept the hotel. Others whom I remember were William Barricklaws and others. Father had not lived there long (many know of him, as his name is in the history of the times of the border troubles) left Missouri to come to Kansas and help make her a free state. When he told his neighbors in Missouri, they did not like it. Some time after living in Kansas he went back to Missouri. I cannot tell why he went, although he did not go to stay. But before he went to Missouri, he wrote on his wagon sheet in plain black letters, "Kansas Free State". He then went right where he used to live in Missouri and I remember that while we were traveling along, all at once several men ran out from a house to us. One man held the team, while another with a big knife, cut the sheet in strips on the side where he had written. I was sitting there in the wagon and saw the knife cutting through. They also threatened him but I don't know what was said. After that they said they would kill him if it took them twenty years.

We got back to Kansas, I can't tell how, nor how long it was after that, but they hunted him many times. He slept in the woods north of Baldwin. For months they (I mean the embittered ones) would ride up from Missouri in the night to see if they could catch him and one day in the early morning, he was home and went to get us something to eat from a store from Prairie City. While he was gone, some men came and saw him on his horse coming back. They took him and several other prisoners. They came by where we lived and told mother they would not hurt him, but wanted to talk to him. So they went with him on his horse to Bull Creek or Cedar Creek, east of Black Jack twenty miles. They stayed there till morning and in the morning they stood him up by a tree and shot him three times and with every shot he cried out, "My God," the other prisoners hearing him and the report of the guns. They left his body for the wolves to devour.

Some few days after this, Mother got some soldiers to go and see about him or what could be found. They found only his bones and buried them right where they found them. These Soldiers had just gotten there after all this had happened. They were camped near us in Palmyra, Kansas, for a while. All this trouble left my stepmother with three children and nothing to depend on but the mercy and goodness of her friends about her. Not many people then. Could see miles and miles and no house, nothing but prairie and yellow wolves betimes.

Mother felt she could not support us all, so Dr. Andrew Still, of Kirksville, Missouri, found us a home, that is my brother, Hiram Cantrell, who now lives in Lawrence on Johnson Street, and myself. Well we were put in a home of J.W. Hague at Blue Mound, seven miles south of Lawrence, a M.E. preacher, a good and Godly home, where we lived till married.

William QuantrillNow I will go back to 1863. At that time G.W.E. Griffith speaks of, I was living for a time at the Old Eggert place, southeast of Lawrence, about four miles. We were all getting up from a good night's sleep and before we got our shoes on, we heard the awful shooting toward Lawrence. Mrs. Eggert said, "Quantrill is in Lawrence." I can't remember that we ever had breakfast that morning or not. We were thinking what to do. Mrs. Eggert thought we better carry the valuables out and hide them in the grass and wherever we could. So we went to work as fast as we could, for we were afraid they would come out our way and burn the house. But they went the other way, so we were peaceful and safe. The next day, we went to see the awful sight. It was indeed awful to see our quiet little Lawrence in such a condition and the poor mortals that were taken and killed, all so suddenly, and no help to save. It was a time that will never be forgotten. I went into a church and it was full of the dead. Their faces were almost black, so dark one could not tell who they were. Women and girls crying, going about uncovering the faces, to see if any of their dear ones was among them. (Click here to read more about Quantrill's Raid.)

Well do I remember that day of trouble. It was so quite and still that morning that we could hear every shot of guns, dogs barking, cows bawling and it seemed everything was on the move. Yes, the Devil took possession for a while. To put slavery down and out has cost thousands and thousands of precious lives for which we, too, have suffered, for it was that which bereft us of our dear father, that caused us many sad hours and trouble that no one but God knows or can understand. Yet, God has always protected us. We were trained in the way of right and truthfulness and honesty. And now I say to G.W.E. Griffith and all others like us, that we are nearing the Eternal shore of time and we soon will bid farewell to all go (sic) to our long Eternal home.

I hope this will be of some interest to a few of our old timers of long ago.

Mrs. Mary Cantrell Tuttle
Pell City, Alabama
RFD No. 2, Box 93

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Mary Jane was in love with a young man and intended to marry him. But, because of pressure from the Hague family and the church, she married Leonard Huston Tuttle, on 8 November 1865. Leonard had just returned from the Civil War. He was a Captain in Company B of the 81st Indiana Infantry and served through the entire war, enlisting as a Private.

It is interesting to note that Leonard Huston Tuttle was a descendant of Jonathan Tuttle, the fourth child of William Tuttle and Elizabeth Mathews. Jonathan was the brother of Sarah, Mercy and Elizabeth Tuttle. They are listed elsewhere on this "Notable Women Ancestors" site, as the Sinister Sisters and Those Terrible Tuttles.

On 20 May 1896, after having sold their farm, Mary and Leonard set out on a "Camp Meeting Brigade" traveling in a wagon and holding (Methodist) religious services in various Kansas locations.

In 1904, she had a ministry to prisoners. In her journal she had a list with dates that she wrote and received letters to and from men, such as, Jay Clark, Ira Keller, Edmond Stanton, Harvey Jackson and Charles Welsh. Her journal entries indicate that she was very generous in giving of her finances to others that were in need.

Mary and Leonard lived in Baldwin City, Kansas for 30 years, Lawrence, Kansas for 15 years, Topeka, Kansas for 1 year and moved to Eden, Saint Clair County, Alabama in 1911.

Sources & further reading:

  • 1850 Federal Census, Jackson County, Missouri. Page 334, Snibar Township. Taken 30 September 1850. (Mary at two years of age).

  • Kansas History, pg 280; Blackmar (Jacob's murder)

  • A Standard History of Kansas & Kansans, Vol. 1, pg 591; William E. Connelly (Jacob's murder)

  • Journal-World Newspaper
  • 609 New Hampshire Street
  • Lawrence, Kansas 66044 (Letter to the Editor. See text)

  • Marriage Records of Jackson County, Missouri; Mrs. John Vineyard, 1967. (Marriage of Jacob and Thirza Land)

  • State of Missouri, County of Jackson, Marriage license Book number B3, Page 89. (Marriage of Jacob and Rebecca Stacey)

If anyone recognizes this family
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