William Crosby

John St. John (1833-1916)

Republican Governor of Kansas for two terms, St. John split with the party in 1884 when it failed to endorse prohibition. His third party run for President defeated the Republican, James G. Blaine. [Kansas State Historical Society]

William Crosby was born in 1832 in Hampden, Penobscot County, Maine. In 1852 he went west to Illinois to work on construction of the Illinois Central railroad. In 1854, he joined his brother Rufus in Minnesota and they both moved to Kansas in 1855, first settling on a claim in Atchison County at Oceana before moving on to Grasshopper Falls in 1856. Weathering the destruction of the store in a pro-slavery raid in September 1856, William Crosby remained a merchant until 1868 when he sold his share to an employee and began to farm full time. [Cutler, History, Jefferson County Part 8]

He attended the Big Spring meeting, was a judge in the October 1855 free- state election and was elected to the 1856 Free-State Legislature. Made a member of the Ways and Means Committee, he voted for the resolution, proposed by Charles Robinson, that any action by the Free-State Legislature would not take effect until ratified by a future fully constituted legislative body, thereby avoiding a "collision" with the General Government" or the "Territorial Government while it shall remain with the sanction of Congress." [ Goodin, Topeka Movement, 189]

At the Free-State Legislature, fifty-six ladies from Topeka petitioned in March 1856, calling for immediate laws "to prevent the manufacture and importation for sale or use as a beverage...of any distilled or malt liquors." On the motion of William Crosby, the matter was referred to Committee on Vice and Immorality, but no further action was taken. [Bader, Prohibition in Kansas, 16] Crosby was a believer in prohibition and served as Treasurer of the Prohibition Party in Kansas in 1886. [Annals of Kansas July 14, 1886] The Prohibition movement in Kansas was particularly strong at that time and included Governor John St. John, who ran on the Prohibition Party ticket for President in 1884. In Kansas, St. John was looked upon as a traitor to the Republican Party which had twice made him Governor. The "temperance party remained faithful to Republicans [and] St. John got only 4,495 votes, gaining almost no support beyond the hard-core partisans." [Bader, Prohibition in Kansas, 77]

Crosby was a deacon in the Congregational Church in Valley Falls and contributed to the construction of Lincoln College in Topeka, a church affiliated school that later became Washburn University. [Hickman, Lincoln College, 48]

Charles Clark