Permanent Capital

Most votes in the Bogus Legislature were unanimous, or nearly so. The choice of a permanent capital was a real contest. Hosting a state capital was the sure making of a town and every legislator wanted his town to be successful. On August 7, the Legislature met in joint session to pick a town. [House Journal, 187]

Mr. Rees nominated his hometown, Leavenworth; Mr. Chapman, his town, Lawrence; Alexander Johnson, St. Bernard, on the Shawnee Reserve in Franklin County; Mr. Strickler, his home, Tecumseh; Mr. McGee, his trading post at One Hundred and Ten Mile; Mr. Harris, Kickapoo in Leavenworth County; Mr. Whitlock, his town Lecompton; Mr. Browne, his town Douglas; and Mr. Richardson, Whitehead in his district. The first vote:

Leavenworth      6         One Hundred and Ten  1
Lawrence         2         Kickapoo             2
St. Bernard     12         Lecompton            9
Tecumseh         3         Whitehead            2
Douglas          2

Since no town got a majority, a second vote was held:

Tecumseh         5         St. Bernard         13
Lecompton       19         Lawrence             1

Lacking a majority, a third vote was held:

Tecumseh         2
St. Bernard     11
Lecompton       25

Land Office at Lecompton

Winning the contest for Territorial Capital meant substantial growth for the town .

As the lesser hometown favorites fell by the wayside, Lecompton and St. Bernard emerged as the clear leaders. Lecompton's town company was organized at the Pottawatomie Indian agency with Samuel P. Lecompte, chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court as president; John A. Halderman, Chief Clerk of the Council as secretary; Daniel Woodson, Secretary of the Territory as treasurer; and pro-slavery men, George W. Clark, Chauncey B. Donaldson and William R. Simmons as members. The company held its meetings in Westport and on May 14, 1855, the officers reported that the town site, which consisted of 600 acres, had been surveyed with the intention of making Lecompton not only a large city but also the capital of the state. [Blackmar, Kansas, 128ff] The town company's intention was fulfilled when the Bogus Legislature finalized their selection later in the session. [House Journal, 229]

St. Bernard was founded on the site of Joab M. Bernard's store, and was named for Bernard, the first postmaster. Bernard was a strong pro- slavery man also active in promoting the pro-slavery towns of Buchanan, Missouri City and Centropolis. [Rydjord, Kansas Place- Names,242] St. Bernard was "extinguished by a raid on Mr. Bernard by free-state men to whom he had become very obnoxious."When Bernard's store was destroyed, there was nothing left of the town and in 1858, the post office was moved to Minneola. [Cutler, History, Franklin County]

Charles Clark