Case # 1855-KM09
November 5, 1855
LAWRENCE – Infamous Murder. A villainous murder was perpetrated on Wednesday, the 5th inst., upon Thomas W. Barber, lately from Preble Co., Ohio. As near as we can learn, the circumstances are as follows:
Mr. Barber, in company with his brother and another person were returning home on horseback from Lawrence, where they had been assisting us in our preparations for defense. Their road homeward parted from the California road about four miles west of Lawrence. Immediately after leaving the main road they saw two men, said to be Clark, Pottawatomie Indian Agent, and a Burns, of Weston, coming down a road on the opposite side of the main one, and bearing across the prairie to meet them. Apprehending no danger from these men, Mr. Barber and his company made no effort to evade them. Clark and Burns rode up and called them to halt, and began to question them upon their principles. They acknowledged that they were Free State men, that they had been to Lawrence, and avowed their determination to fight in case of an attack upon the town. Clark then ordered them to give up their arms and march as prisoners to the Missouri camp. They refused to comply, when Clark drew his revolver and shot Barber, the ball passing through his side a little below the heart. Several shots were then exchanged on both sides, but without any effect. Barber and his party at the same time riding as fast as possible toward home, and Clark and Burns pursuing. After they had gone two or three hundred yards Mr. Barber called to his brother and said that he was shot and badly wounded. His brother supported him for some distance on his horse when he fell off dead. When his comrades perceived that life was extinct, seeing a company of horsemen whom they had met before the difficulty, coming over the prairie, and supposing them also to be in pursuit of them, they rode off towards their homes as fast as possible.
The murdered man was of the highest respectability and universally esteemed by all who knew him. He was an ardent Free State man, and had enlisted in a company for the defense of life and property against a foreign mob who were camped in our midst and threatening to murder us and destroy our property. This was the head and front of his offending; and for this he was shot down in cold blood, though he himself was totally unarmed. A more villainous and unprovoked murder we have not heard of in the Territory.
We are informed that Clark openly avows the murder and boasts that he and Burns “came in contact with 3 Free Soilers, and that he sent one of them home to his winter quarters.” We have not learned whether the officials who are so stringent in the execution of the law when Free State men are involved have taken any steps for the apprehension of the villains: but we feel confident that they will not be so urgent in the enforcement of the laws as in the late case of Mr. Branson.
We hope that rigid justice will overtake these villains, we care not at whose hand it is dispensed, so that it may prevent the recurrence of many of those scenes that are fast meriting for Kansas the title of the “dark and bloody ground.” The Kansas Free State, Lawrence, Kansas. Monday, December 3, 1855. (c) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for Prairie Tales Media.
LAWRENCE – The Early Martyrs Of Kansas. Thomas W. Barber. Mr. Barber was also from Ohio, and was brutally murdered by a party of United States officials in the pro-slavery ring, near close of the siege. He had made his home and began farming operations about 7 miles west of the city. He, with a brother, Robert F. Barber and a neighbor, Thomas M. Pierson had rallied for the defense of Lawrence. The 3 patriots were on their way home when they were met by a party of ruffian officials, by one of whom Barber, unarmed and unresisting, was shot dead.
The writer was present in a room of the first Free State Hotel, in which the corpse of the murdered man was laid out, when the half distracted widow was led in to behold the overwhelming sight. Never, while life lasts, can he forget the distressing scene. In an adjoining room, at the same time, a council was in session between the representatives of the two parties in the strife – or rather the United States official, by whose abused sanction the ruffian band of our besiegers and murderers had been assembled. The cold blood of Barber sealed the discomfiture and ever memorable disgrace of our enemies.
Over the graves of Dow and Barber may the green grass never fail to grow in luxuriant beauty, nor a grateful people forget to scatter their floral tributes, as from year to year they gather to refresh their love of country and reverential honor for the men who proved true in the times that tried men’s souls. The Kansas Weekly Tribune, Lawrence, Kansas. Wednesday, June 8, 1870. (c) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for Prairie Tales Media.