Case # 1855-KM08

November 1, 1855

DONIPHAN – An Abolitionist Killed!  We learn from Mr. Newman, of Doniphan, that Samuel Collins of that place, was killed this morning about sunrise, by Patrick Laughlin.  As far as we have been able to learn, the circumstances are as follows:

Mr. Laughlin, recently made an exposition of the midnight organization existing among the Abolitionists in the Territory, called the “Grand Encampment and Regiments of the Kansas Legion.”  Collins, it seems, was Colonel of one of the Regiments in this order, and determined to force Mr. Laughlin to a retraction, or kill him.  In accordance with this determination, he and some 12 brother Abolitionists proceeded Wednesday last to seek out Mr. Laughlin, and demanded an unqualified retraction of his recent confession, and upon Mr. L’s refusing to make any concession whatever, Collins immediately snapped his gun at him (Laughlin), and then fired at him, but fortunately the weapon was turned aside by a spectator.  Laughlin then drew a revolver and fired on his opponent, killing him instantly.

We regret to learn that Mr. L., was dangerously hurt in the conflict by a knife wound in his side.  We are also informed that his friend Mr. Lynch, a member of the pro-slavery party was wounded in the head by the discharge of a gun.

Thus it is, that the fight so long talked about has begun, and it is to be hoped that this fearful, but righteous result, will quell the rising spirit of rebellion and treason which has been rioting in our midst.  We learn that Mr. Lynch, who was engaged in the fight, has been tried and acquitted.  The Squatter Sovereign, Atchison, Kansas.  Tuesday, November 6, 1855. (c) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for Prairie Tales Media.

DONIPHAN – Account Of The Difficulty At Doniphan.  It seems that the startling developments made by Mr. Laughlin in regard to the secret Abolition army, its acts and designs, gave great offence to Mr. Samuel Collins, the Colonel of the Doniphan division of said army, and he believing that his character and standing demanded its retraction or the death of the offender.  It seems the first opportunity was offered on Tuesday evening, October 30th, at Dr. Brown’s office, where Messrs. Lyons, Lynch, Miller, and others were sitting around the Stove talking, when Mr. Collins and others entered.  Mr. Laughlin was lying in bed, sick with the chills at the time.  After some moments’ conversation, Mr. Laughlin asked Mr. Collins why he had hallooed at him when passing near his mill, Mr. Collins denied it.  –  Laughlin then asked if he had said he was hired to betray them.  Collins denied that also, but said he was a d****d blackhearted traitor, and a d****d perjured scoundrel.  Laughlin called him a d****d liar.  Collins returned it, and made towards him, and but for Mr. Lyons and Mr. Lynch a fight would have taken place, then Mr. Lynch threw up his hand saying, “Don’t run over me.”  Mr. Collins then turned upon him saying he would kick every rib out of his d*****d hide, and that he would kill him in the morning; he then turned to Laughlin, saying, “I will make you take it all back.”  Mr. Laughlin replied he had nothing to take back, but intended publishing more.  Mr. Collins then said, “You are a d****d rascal, you are armed, and I will be in the morning, and then I will settle with you, when you shall take it all back, or one of us will go to Hell before breakfast.”  He then left.

After reflecting for some time on the circumstances of the case, Mr. Lynch proposed taking out a peace warrant for Mr. Collins, to which Mr. Laughlin refused, but agreed to accompany him to the magistrate’s house some three-fourths of a mile from town.  Whilst there, he changed his mind, and the warrants were taken out, and Mr. Lynch saddling up his mule, rode three miles out to see the Constable, and placed the warrants in his hands, requesting him to be up and starting by light.  When he returned home it was after one o’clock, and found his wife still up and much excited by three or four gun shots near Collins’ house.

Next morning, all the parties were up and stirring; and as time wore on, hopes began to be felt that notwithstanding his threats, Mr. Collins would be checkmated by the officers of justice, as the only sign to the contrary was the appearance of one of Mr. Collins’ sons in that part of town, ostensibly to measure some lumber for Mr. Lyon; but in fact to reconnoiter.  But at length all began to think this was another of Mr. Collins’ bullying maneuvers (as was his want on all convenient occasions), therefore all were preparing for breakfast, when young Collins disappeared, but soon returning with his father, brother, and cousin, Mr. Lyon meeting them in front of the hotel.  Mr. Collins was armed with a double-barrel fowling piece, both barrels cocked.  Mr. Lyon strove to stop him, but without effect.

Mr. Laughlin at this time, was going from Mr. Lynch’s with a bucket of flour on his arm, and was about 20 yards ahead.  When within 8 or 10 paces, Mr. Collins called to him to stop; at the same time raising his gun to shoot.  As he approached Laughlin, he kept insisting upon Laughlin taking back the publication, Mr. Laughlin still refusing.  Mr. Collins pulled the trigger, but the gun missed fire.  He then drew his knife, flourishing it two or three times near his face, telling him to take it back; again Laughlin refused.  Collins then plunged his knife into his left side, making a down stroke.  Laughlin staggered back, but recovered; Collins then drew up his gun and fired.  Mr. J. Foreman struck down the gun, and the load was discharged between Laughlin’s feet.  By this time, Mr. Lynch came on the ground, gun in hand, and fireing at the same; his shot taking effect in Collins’ right side.  They then clubbed their guns, and closed in for a death struggle.  Both guns were broken the first blow, at the second Lynch bent his, and at the same time, received a blow on his head, that kept him quiet the balance of the fight.  When Mr. Foreman struck down the gun, he was knocked down by one of the young Collins’.  Laughlin had on two over coats at the time, buttoned up to the chin, and whilst the fight was progressing in another direction, he had time to get out his revolver, which was in his pantaloons pocket – and as Mr. Collins turned from knocking down Lynch, and started towards him, Laughlin shot him through the heart.  Collins clasped both hands upon his breast, sank down, and died.  Collins’ son knocked Laughlin down with a billet of wood, just as he fired; his pistol fell from his hand near young Laughlin’s feet, who was just coming up at that time; he snatched it up and fired at Inglis, who was trying to kill his brother with a brick – the shot slightly bruising his neck.  He then turned and would have killed both of the young Collins’, but for a lady who had come to the rescue of her husband, and plead for them.  In Heaven’s name, they threw up their hands and called for mercy, and the fight closed, as the officers of justice came in sight, just in time to be too late.

Mr. Lynch was the only man put upon trial, and it is needless to say, was soon acquitted, for Mr. Lyon was a spectator of the whole affair, from beginning to end, and all the circumstances herein detailed, were proven in Court, upon the trial, by Mr. Lyon, Collins’ two sons and nephew, and Mr. Foreman.  I do not believe, that the young Collins’ are any more guilty, than herein stated.  I hope I may never hear of the like again – to arbitrate our defiances with the bowie-knife, where will it end.  – A Citizen.  The Kansas Weekly Herald, Leavenworth, Kansas.  Saturday, November 17, 1855. (c) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for Prairie Tales Media.

LEAVENWORTH – The St. Joseph Cycle represents Pat Laughlin as acting in self-defense, but nobody believes the statement.  Collins had resided about a year in the Territory, and was a man of intelligence and much personal worth.  The Kansas Herald of Freedom, Lawrence, Kansas.  Saturday, November 17, 1855. (c) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for Prairie Tales Media.

CHICAGO – The Tragedy.  ….Collins was taken off and buried by his friends.  He was a very powerful man in frame and violent in temper.  He was more than six feet high, and weighed more than 200 pounds.  The Chicago Weekly Tribune, Chicago, Illinois.  Saturday, November 24, 1855. (c) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for Prairie Tales Media.

LAWRENCE – Doniphan has 300 inhabitants.  It has a good saw-mill which belonged to Samuel Collins who was killed by Pat Laughlin during the disturbances of last year.  The Kansas Herald of Freedom, Lawrence, Kansas.  Saturday, April 11, 1857. (c) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for Prairie Tales Media.

DONIPHAN – It is certain that Col. John R. Boyd and Major Hart are dead and buried, as all Kansas will be glad to hear.  They were wounded when Buell surrendered Independence, and died there.  Boyd is the wretch who murdered Collins in Doniphan in ’57.  He was also believed to have been one of the Platte Bridge assassins.  Hart lived at Hart’s Landing, opposite Geary City and made a raid into the latter place in 1857.  The war has done some good in killing these miscreants.  The Leavenworth Conservative, Leavenworth, Kansas.  Thursday, September 11, 1862. (c) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for Prairie Tales Media.