H.J. Strickler

H.J. Strickler

Hiram J. Strickler was born in Page County, Virginia in 1831 and educated at Virginia Military Institute as a surveyor and engineer. Upon graduation, he went to Kansas in February 1855 and settled on a claim near Tecumseh. His military education recommended him to the Bogus Legislators for the position of Adjutant General and he continued to hold that position when the Free-State government took over. He was on the job when Kansas was admitted to statehood in 1861. After admission, he withdrew from politics and devoted himself to scientific farming, helping to organize the State Agricultural Society. He was its first Secretary and was elected President in 1871. He married Hattie Stanton, daughter of free-state Territorial Governor Stanton in 1861, and he died in 1873. [Topeka Kansas Commonwealth August 1, 1873]

In the Legislature, Strickler pushed conventional legislation to get the State Penitentiary built in Tecumseh and opposed issuing bank charters because he feared the private banks would issue "wild cat shin plasters", i.e. devalued paper money. [Letter to Thomas N. Stinson, February 2, 1857 KSHS] He made an important contribution in his 1858 Report on Claims in the Kansas Territory. The result of more than a year of careful investigation and auditing of claims of those suffering personal and property loss in "Bleeding Kansas," Strickler's report was notably unbiased, citing claims by both pro-slavery and free-state claimants. Finding the Territorial Government had no money to pay these claims, Strickler turned to the Federal Government, whose policies and legislation he blamed for instigating political conflict in the Territory. He attached a table listing the name of each claimant, the amount claimed, the amount proven lost, and the type of loss they reported. [Report of General H.J. Strickler, Commissioner for Auditing Claims for Kansas Territory, March 7, 1858 , KSHS] Unfortunately the claims were never paid.

As Adjutant General, his Kansas Militia duty was administration and not combat, but it is clear his sentiments lay with the pro-slavery side. In a letter to his friend Thomas Stinson, he described the Battle of Osawatomie in August 1856:

"On Saturday there was a battle fought at Ossawattamie Genl Reed commanding three hundred men marched against Capt Brown of Ossawattamie Routed him in twenty minutes Killed twenty (old Brown) took six prisoners Destroyed the town and took forty horses Loss on our side none, four of our men have been wounded -- there was a fight at Prairie City -- two of the abolitionists killed our loss -- none -- The southern Division Coffey commanding will eat Breakfast in Laurence Wednesday morning, our force here six hundred -- your friend H J Strickler" [Letter to Stinson, September 2, 1856, KSHS]

Charles Clark