Motley Crew

I first started poking about in Marshall County because of something Orel Elizabeth Poole wrote.  Better known these days in biblographies of Kansas History as Orel Lovewell Poole, she was not just the granddaughter of Thomas and Orel Jane Lovewell, but the official family historian and keeper of the flame.  In her numerous writings she dutifully passed along the family legend that Thomas Lovewell went west to find gold in 1849, not to return home for another 16 years.  Yet, she also neatly demolished that very notion in a brief paragraph detailing her findings at the National Archives.

According to the Archives in Washington, D. C., Thomas Lovewell was hired by the Government to act as guide and frontier scout for the settlers.  He served in this capacity until September 30, 1867, at $100 a month.  He then served in this capacity until his services were no longer needed without pay.  It also states that Lovewell made settlement in Marshall county.  The record book shows that he made settlement in Kansas in May 1855.  Little is known of this settlement otherwise than that he only stayed but a short time.

The chief quibble regarding Orel Poole’s historical works is that she was never able to publish the volume which was clearly her life’s ambition, “Sketches of the White Rock,” in a somewhat scholarly format with footnotes or end notes.  Her readers are sometimes left to wonder exactly what her source material consisted of, and where solid evidence left off and family yarns or guesswork took over.  The document she uncovered concerning Thomas Lovewell’s scouting record probably had little to do with ushering settlers around the Kansas prairie (although he surely did some of that).  Judging by the date she furnishes, what she most likely fished out of the National Archives was a pay record from the summer her grandfather scouted for the Army after the April 1867 White Rock Massacre.  It’s possible that the “record book” she consulted for information about his settlement a decade earlier in Territorial Kansas, was the 1858 census of eligible voters in Marshall County, which gives the date of arrival of Thos. Lovewell as June 1856.

The 1857 Marshall County census provides a fuller picture of the settlement that was taking form southeast of Marysville in the Vermillion Valley.  There were 120 households with 278 persons living throughout Marshall County, 183 males, 95 females.  Since F. J. Marshall, his wife, two children and a sister are noted on the third line of page one, it’s apparent that the census-taker started his assignment in the proslavery settlement named for Frank Marshall’s wife Mary.

At the bottom of page two or the top of page three, depending on which copy of the census is consulted, two Lovewell heads of household can be found:  A. Lovewell and T. Lovewell, the latter dwelling in a cabin with his wife, but no children as yet.  Despite the birth date given on her headstone, 25 September 1856, Thomas Lovewell’s daughter Julia, Julana, or Julany, as she is variously known, must have been born a few months after the 1857 canvass was taken, in order to become the two-year-old recorded in the 1860 census for Clark County, Iowa.  “A. Lovewell” was probably Thomas Lovewell’s younger brother Alfred, who was wanted in Iowa for house-breaking and horse theft, as well as escape from custody.*

We can rest assured that the canvasser was indeed traveling through free-state country, when, about halfway down page three he wrote down the name A. G. Barrett, who, besides founding Barrett’s Mills,  would one day become the Quaker hero of George W. Schiller’s “The Abolitionist.”  Barrett, his wife and their four children apparently lived two doors down from the family of S. B. Todd, another Quaker who had been so inflamed by Horace Greeley’s barn-burner of an oration at Pittsburgh late in 1855, that he and his family joined a group of forty emigrants bound for Kansas the following spring to help man the ramparts of the anti-slavery movement.

Even earlier in the census taker's rounds, in fact almost immediately after his visit with the Lovewells, he had knocked at the door of pioneer settler John D. Wells, remembered as one of only two men who had cast free-state votes in the county in 1855, the other being Henry Hollenberg.  Hollenberg is listed after Wells, among a trio of names which are all spelled with some creative license: J. Shangrow, L. Tromelly, H. Hollinsberg.  Gerat Henry Hollenberg had been born in Hanover, Prussia, coming to America in 1848, taking his oath of allegiance in 1853, before settling in Marshall County in 1855.  Two of his neighbors had only recently arrived from Hanover, Brockmeyer brothers named Frederic and “J," either John Henry or Hans.  A few years later Henry would marry Sophia Brockmeyer, and the families would push west into Washington County to establish Hanover, Kansas, where Henry Hollenberg would build his landmark Pony Express Station.

Of the other two men, L. Tromelly, a.k.a. Louis Tremblé (the 1858 census helpfully spells his name Loui Trombly), is usually identified as a French fur trader with a Sioux wife, as is J. Shangrow, whose name is often rendered in regional histories as Changreau, although in the 1858 census he’s listed as Julian Ghangraw.  According to Marshall County researcher Keith Jones, the transcription of an 1855 poll-book gives his name as Gulian Shangraed.  After hearing the two men recite their names, clerks must have gulped and given the matter a moment's thought before committing anything to paper.

It was a strange, patchwork coalition that formed along the Vermillion:  Quakers, the descendants of Puritans, German immigrants, French trappers (at least one historian believes Tremblé may have been a half-breed Pottawatomie).  Some, like the Quakers and Yankee abolitionists, opposed slavery in Kansas as a principle of their faith.  Others may have sided with them because they hoped to bar anyone of color from entering its boundaries, slave or free.  By the time the issue was decided, the valley’s original settler, Louis Tremblé, had moved on.

Marshall County resident Keith Jones has doggedly pursued the trail that led Tremblé and some of his colorful associates to Territorial Kansas.  We’ll hear from Keith in the coming days.

*This entry was amended in 2023.  I originally believed the first initial to be “L” and speculated that Thomas’s Abolitionist uncle Lyman Lovewell was a house-guest. 

© Dale Switzer 2023