James W. Draffen

James Wellington Draffen (1824-1896) was born in Albemarle County, Virginia and moved with his parents to Cooper County in the Boon's Lick in 1836. He attended the local school and Kemper Academy in Boonsville. He then studied law with his uncle, John Draffen, an attorney in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. He was admitted to the Cooper County bar in 1852 and entered the office of Judge Washington Adams in Boonville. Two years later he began practicing on his own, later forming a partnership with future United States Senator George Vest. Still later he partnered with W.M. Williams in a firm that had a litigation practice throughout the state. Although he was active in Democratic politics, he never held office. [Johnson, Cooper County, 391ff.]

Cooper County Jail (1848)

Slaves quarried the thick limestone blocks for the jail. The ground floor "Bullpen" held prisoners shackled to the walls with chains through 1/4 inch rings. Slaves held to be auctioned on the block on Main Street were also held here.

At a Boonville meeting on July 28, 1856, with Draffen serving as secretary, Cooper County citizens were asked for funds to assist pro-slavery settlers going to Kansas. The solicitation resulted in $5,000 in pledges. At an August 23 meeting, however, several speakers were critical of rich slaveholders in the county who had not contributed. $800 in cash and horses was donated by those present and about 30 men volunteered to go to Kansas to join General Reid's army. The following Wednesday they elected Draffen captain and mounted their horses to ride to New Santa Fe in Jackson County to join Reid at the rendezvous. [Craik, Southern Interest, 382ff.]

The Boonville Weekly Observer praised the soldiers on August 30, 1856:

"Captain Draffen's company consists of citizens of the county, not stragglers enlisted for the occasion, but law-abiding men, and whatever may be the difference of opinion of persons as to the advisability of their going to Kansas, those who know the characters of the men, two of whom are among the oldest citizens of the county and state, are satisfied that the will not knowingly nor heedlessly dishonor themselves and their county by swelling the list of outrages upon private individuals and private property in Kansas."

But Captain Draffen's company saw little service in Kansas and were back in Cooper County early in September. There were too many opposing free- staters and their horses were an impediment. Draffen announced he hoped to return to Kansas with an infantry company. Moreover, General Reid's forces were not effective fighters, One of Draffen's men, writing from Westport to Booneville Weekly Observor, said there was "absolutely no discipline among the troops." Many were "mere youths carried away by indignation and desire for a frolic," who enlisted with "slight reflection." Also some had "left their families uncared for and were compelled to return." Others were "unused to hardships and unable to withstand the rigors of the campaign." There were many desertions. General Reid's forces dwindled down in the course of one week from 1,500 to fewer than 400. On September 5, 1856 Draffen with a company of infantry returned to Kansas but Reid's army had already disbanded with assurances from Territorial Governor Geary that order would be restored in the territory. [Craik, Southern Interest, 382ff.]

Charles Clark