Sent to Rev. Nathan Brown, editor of the American Baptist. OSAWATOMIE, Lykens Co., Jan. 18, 1859
Dear Brother Brown: . . . Early in April (1858) I moved to Moneka (two miles north of Mound City) with a view to a permanent settlement, intending to devote my entire time to preaching. The friends at Moneka were unable to raise the means for my support, as they expected. I thought best to return to the (Trading) Post, as the people there were very anxious for me to establish a school. I moved back on the 18th of May, with the expectation of opening a school as soon as possible.
I had a piece of ground plowed, which I wanted to put in corn, and the next morning I went to Mr. Nichols to get a horse to mark out the ground for planting. While there a Mr. Taylor came to Nichols' with another man named Allen. Mr. Taylor said that he had come to see me about a school, and I told him what my intentions were in regard to it. A few minutes after Hamilton with about thirty men came up and surrounded us. He ordered me to fall into line.
I said, "No, sir."
He then drew a large revolver and cocked it, and said, "You won't go? G-d D-n you."
I replied that I was willing to do anything that was right. He ordered me to hitch my pony, and pointed to a place to take my stand and I did so. At the same time Taylor and James were taken. Hamilton with a number of his men then went into Mr. Nichols' house, as they said, to search for Nichols. He was absent. They took considerable property from the house, and three horses from his yard. They also took Taylor's, James', and my horses, with the saddles and bridles. They let Mr. Taylor go, keeping four of us as prisoners-- P. Ross, Campbell, James, and myself. Campbell and Ross were taken before I was, with a number of others. All had been let go but Campbell and Ross. A man named Stilwell, driving a team on the road, was stopped and asked where he lived. He said, "Sugar Mound." He was ordered to get out of the wagon and fall into line. He did so. A man was ordered to search me, and I was asked if I had any arms. I told him, no, that I did not carry arms about me. He said, "Haul out what you have got in your pockets." I took out and showed him all I had. He took from me a piece of blank paper folded four double, and about four inches square. After looking at it he commenced tearing it up. I said there was no use in tearing it up, as I generally carried paper for the purpose of making memorands. He said that I should not want it. This, in connection with another circumstance, convinced me that they intended to kill me. I supposed at this time that they had killed Nichols.
They then ordered a march. The men who had charge of Stilwell's team asked what he should do with it. Hamilton said, "Take it along." Presently Captain Hamilton turned to Mr. James and said, "Here, you take this team and take care of it until we call for it. I reckon you would rather go with that than with this crowd." James replied "yes." One of the men said, " There is a d-m good horse," and some of the party replied, "If you like it better than yours, take it." The horse was stripped of it's harness and taken.
At the time we were making directly towards Missouri. After traveling about two miles we were halted near Mr. William Hairgrove's house. Here, Mr. Hairgrove was taken from his field planting corn, and brought into line. Mr. Amos Hall was taken from his house and brought in, and also Asa Hairgrove who was at work about his father's house. Starting from this place, we took a northeasterly direction. Soon after starting, Mr. William Colpetzer was brought in and about the same time, Michael Robinson and Charles Snyder were captured. These three were taken from their homes. A wagon was discovered at a distance making towards us and a posse of Hamilton's gang proceeded to see who was coming. It proved to Mr. Austin Hall, and he was brought into the line with the other prisoners. About this time, Captain Hamilton said, "I want to go see my friend Snyder," meaning Eli Snyder. He started with a posse, the prisoners being halted on a high table of land. Soon after we heard the report of firearms. It proved to be Hamilton's attack on Snyder at his house.
Mr. Eli Snyder is a blacksmith by trade and was at work in his shop when they made the attack on him, his brother and a man named Robinson being present at the time. Suspected foul play, he told his brother to go in the house and get his gun, at the same time taking his own gun to guard him. When the brother got to the house, the posse fired upon Eli, one ball taking effect in the leg and another in the side. Snyder returned the fire and wounded Hamilton and his horse. Mr. Snyder's son was at the house, and fired on the posse, wounding one man and his horse. A part of the main body, which had been guarding the prisoners, left and went to the aid of Hamilton, and soon returned with him.
Captain Hamilton on coming up ordered us to march, and said he would take us down and show us what Snyder had done. After marching us about three fourths of a mile, into a deep, narrow ravine, he ordered us to halt, face front and close up. We did so, and he then ordered his company to come into line about ten or fifteen feet from us, the horses' feet being higher than our heads. He then gave the order to take aim. Doctor H. said: "The men don't obey the order, Captain."
Hamilton gave the order again. Doctor H. said: "They don't all obey." The notorious Brockett turned his horse's tail toward us, and Captain Hamilton said, "G-d d--d you, Brockett, why don't you wheel into line?"
Brockett said he would not have anything to do with "such a G-d D--d piece of business."
Captain Hamilton then ordered his men to fire upon us. We all fell at the first fire. He then ordered some of is men to get off their horses, and go down and see that they were all dead, and if any showed signs of life, to shoot them until they were dead. They fired a number of times. Hamilton said, "There is old Read; he ain't dead." A shot was fired, but missed again. Someone said, "There he is looking at you." A man named Hullard said, "Put the pistol to the ear; shoot into the ear." The man pointed out for me was Ross, and they fired into him. Some one said, "See what that man," -- meaning Stilwell--"has in his pockets; there is a hundred dollars there." Another said, "There is one that has got a watch."
Soon after Captain Hamilton's company began to move off, and presently I heard my wife speaking to some one. I called three times before she discovered me and came to me. I requested her to go as quickly as possible and get someone to come. She asked me if she shouldn't get some water for us first. I said no, we shall all die. She then left us. My object was to get some one to come and take our testimony, as I did no think that any of us then alive could live long. Mr. Campbell called to me, requesting me, if I should live, to write to his brother-in-law, Mr. Patten, living in Osawatomie, and tell him how he came to his death. As I looked up I saw him he was almost dead. I pulled myself to him by the grass and stones, and said a few words to him. I then pulled myself about fifteen or twenty rods into some bushes. I then got up and examined myself, and found that I could walk.
My first thought was to make an effort to find someone to go for a doctor. After traveling about a mile, I came to a house. I stated the facts of the murder to the inmates, and was furnished a horse on which I started, after taking my coat and tying it tight around me to staunch the flow of blood. I traveled about three miles, bearing a little toward home, and then made for the heavy timber about five miles from home. After getting into the timber, I traveled a zig zag course, to prevent being tracked, crossing quite a stream four times. By this time I began to be very faint. I discovered a smoke, and turning to it found one of my neighbors who had fled into the woods for protection. They threw down a quilt and got me on it. I was then about two miles from home. They sent into the settlement intelligence of where I was, and about 11 o'clock at night, my wife arrived. She remained with me until 4 o'clock in the morning, returning about 8 o'clock with two physicians. I was then carried home, and the doctors, after a close examination, thought I might get well.