Bryce W. Miller

Elijah Milton McGee (1819 - 1873)

California gold miner, Indian trader, hotel owner, real estate developer and Kansas City mayor, McGee was active in the pro-slavery cause in Kansas.

[Kansas City Missouri Library]

Bryce Miller and his family arrived from Indiana, settling on the California road two miles south of Lawrence in 1854. Their claim was soon known as "Miller's Spring" and the first squatter meeting in the area was held in their cabin in August 1854. [Wood, Pioneers of Kansas, 427ff.] The meeting was announced quietly to the "actual settlers" to prevent non- resident claimants. To prevent claims of lack of notice, several written announcements were posted a day or two before the meeting, one of them at Miller's Spring. Despite the precautions, a group of Missourians led by Milton and Allen McGee somehow learned of the meeting. [Wakefield, Squatter Courts, 72]

John Wakefield, President of the "Actual Settlers' Association of Kansas Territory" called the meeting to order as a conference of real settlers. Missourians appeared to be in the majority and they claimed a right to vote as members of an "intended settlers" association. The "actual" settlers replied such voting violated the rules of the meeting. A compromise was proposed, a plan of union between the two groups. A recess was called while the two groups caucused. In the end, they joined together as "The Mutual Settlers' Association of Kansas Territory." A conference committee announced rules for making and protecting claims. The association then elected permanent officers, dividing the duties between the two sides.[Cutler, History, Douglas County]

Despite the rules, squatters often took matters into their own hands. New England Emigrant Aid spokesman B. R. Knapp was quoted in the Boston Sunday News, complaining about Bryce Millers' wife, Nancy:

"One of our party had his camp utensils, tent, and all his fixings removed into the California road, a day or two since, because he had squatted on the claims of Nancy Miller. Nancy and another Hoosier woman made quick work with the intruders moveables. I had rather have a Prairie wolf after me than one of these Hoosier women. [Barry, New England Emigrant Aid, 122]

Hoosier Bryce Miller attended the Big Spring meeting and was elected as a senator in the Topeka Free-State Legislature. He voted to elect fellow a Indiana man, James H. Lane to the United States Senate in March 1856. [Kansas Historical Collection 13:206]

Charles Clark