John Hamilton

John Hamilton (1816-1876)

Hamilton came to Kansas in 1835 with the United States Army Dragoons, soldiers trained to fight on foot but transported on horseback.
[Don Troiani, National Park Service, Fort Scott]

John Hamilton was born in Pennsylvania. He joined the army in 1835 and was ordered to Fort Leavenworth to serve with the dragoon soldiers patrolling the border between Indian lands and the United States. In 1842, with 17 men from the First Dragoons, Sergeant Hamilton escorted the commission sent by General Zachary Taylor to select the new military post that became Fort Scott. After picking the site, the officers left Hamilton and his party to build temporary quarters at the new post. Hamilton himself cut down the first tree for the temporary log fort. The next month, an officer arrived with two companies from Fort Leavenworth and Hamilton was appointed Quartermaster Sergeant of Fort Scott. Later serving as Ordinance Sergeant at Fort Jessup, Louisiana, Hamilton mustered out when his enlistment ended, and settled in Weston, Missouri. [Dawson, Legislature of 1868, 272]

In 1855 he settled on a claim in Bourbon County and was a candidate in the March 1855 "bogus" election, losing to John Anderson. [KHC3;266] He was elected to the Big Springs Convention and was made Captain of the First Company of Bourbon County Volunteers in December, 1857. [KHC5;519] A man with military experience, Hamilton was an important member of a community suffering from "Jayhawker" guerilla warfare. As Captain of the Volunteers, he also acted as deputy sheriff of the county. In December, 1858 he arrested two men who were thought to be in Montgomery's Jayhawker gang. One of them was the notorious Ben Rice who had boasted of robberies along the Marmaton River settlements during the preceding year. [KHC 5:556] He chaired a mass meeting of citizens in Bourbon County in June, 1858 calling upon the governor to restore peace and withdraw troops from Fort Scott as soon as peace was restored.[KHC 5: 494] The next month a posse assembled at Hamilton's home to go after the Jayhawkers who had stolen 16 horses. [KHC5:539]

In February 1859, a rumor spread in Lawrence that the "notorious C. H. Hamilton" of Marais des Cygne Massacre fame was on his way to town with a posse of Missourians." The inflammable portion of the populace was soon at fever heat, and, as the rumor spreads, crowds gathered on the streets, boiling and almost hissing with indignation." But is was not C. H. Hamilton coming, it was John Hamilton, deputy sheriff from Bourbon County, bringing his weapons to Lawrence for storage. As Hamilton rode down Massachusetts Street, the crowd quieted down and held a free-state rally. [Cutler, History, Douglas County, Part 2]

Hamilton moved to Crawford county in 1865 and was elected to the Kansas Legislature in 1868. He died in Independence, Kansas in February, 1876. [Dawson, Legislature of 1868, 272]

Charles Clark