The Missouri in the Civil War Message Board

Re: August 21, 1863

Thank you very much for your little article!
One of my 2nd great-grandmothers was Nancy Ellen Dunlap-Guinn-Dark, a survivor of the Osceola massacre. Her husband was killed in the raid--and Jim Lane was directly involved in his murder. Nancy was left homeless,with few possessions, and two infant daughters. Champion Guinn had been the town's most successful wagon maker. Prior to its devastation the town was the 2nd largest "city" in Missouri--2nd only to St. Louis and was the primary "jumping off point" for wagon trains headed to California and Oregon. The town grew wealthy supplying the westward emigrants and that made Kanssas, and Lane jealous. The Osceola Democrat also had done a poll just 3 weeks before the September, 1861 massacre and burning of Osceola and found that about 2/3 of the town was pro-Union and anti-slavery. Two weeks after the raid, another poll showed reverse sentiments, understandably. People in that area, when the majority in the Missouri legislature THEN--after the raid--tried to secede said: "Missouri didn't leave the Union--the Union abandoned Missouri when it didn't punish Lane and force restitution for Osceola."

In the same part of the raid when Champion Guinn was murdered (8 men were killed all at the same time on direct orders of Jim Lane and he even called the command to fire--it was supposed to be a kind of execution for treason and Lane had been the prosecutor judge and was commanding the firing squad--and fired himself), his older best friend was badly wounded, a man named Micajah Dark. Micajah Dark eventually recovered but was considered too old by the regular army. His sons joined the CSA after the raid, once they were sure there father was on the mend, but Micajah did something else. He joined Quantrill, but for one raid only--on Lawrence, Kansas in revenge. Also, the Dark farm had among its nearest neighbors, the Younger family, and both farms had horses taken--without payment by the Union army. Micajah Dark became Nancy's 2nd husband and they had 3 more surviving children. I descend from Martha Jane Dark, Micajah and Nancy's only daughter in that marriage. In 1874, the last year of the Union occupation of Missouri (which never actually seceded due to an odd set of circumstances forcing a reversal of the vote to secede, which also involved the Union army in part), Martha ended up the closest eye-witness to her father being murdered as "the last of Quantrill's men."

I still have the letter from my grandmother, Martha's oldest daughter, who had written most of the stories as her mother and grandmother had told them to her, the and follow up telephone notes with further details of the eye-witness accounts of the raid on Osceola, and the murder of Micajah Dark. I also went to Osceola, twice in the 1980's and met with the then town historian, John Lapsley Mills who led me to all the accounts in the library, including some notes from the diary of a Mr. Berry who was part of the group of men captured by Lane while trying to protect a bank that described in detail the death of Champion Guinn and 7 other men, including ultimately Mr. Berry who died from his wounds a few days after the event. I also have the only valuable that survived the pillaging and destruction of Nancy's first home: a 150 year old fine Dresden porcelain serving bowl that was a wedding gift to her from her older sister, Hannah Jane Dunlap-TILLMAN. Ironically, the little award-winning company that made the bowl was itself completely destroyed in the 1945 fire-bombing of Dresden.

There were over 3,000 buildings completely destroyed: homes, churches, schools, businesses, etc.. More than 15,000 people were left homeless as winter approached. Lane and his men killed over 40 men and boys outright and some women were raped. More than 120 people were wounded--and this all didn't count the dead and hurt from all the fire. There were only 3 buildings in the town left standing. Senator Lane even robbed Senator Johnston's house and used Senator Johnston's front garden to set up the cannon he'd brought to try to demolish the courthouse. When that didn't happen, he tried to set fire to the interior--after first carrying off the 4 volumes of county and town records. Three were finally returned some years after the end of the war, but one is still missing--somewhere in Kansas. Lane even carried his ill-gotten loot off in Senator Johnston's own family carriage. Lane and his men arrived with wagons and stole many from the town--including Champion Guinn's home and business. They stole everything they could: including women's dresses, pianos, tableware, linens, valuables, and even dug up fruit trees and rosebushes to take. They killed what livestock they couldn't round up to take.

Nancy Ellen Dunlap Guinn was a midwife and an herbalist and after the raid became a doctor and surgeon for a time, since almost all of the town's doctors had been killed or wounded. She personally helped remove some of the 15 bullets from the town's best known doctor--and he lived.

Sorry, folks, but I have little sympathy for Lawrence, Kansas. Men of that town accompanied Lane when he pillaged and destroyed Osceola and killed dozens of people there, and they voted for him and were his strongest supporters in his election as Senator. He lived in Lawrence. My 2nd great-grandfather Micajah Dark knew what he looked like and where he was from and was personally looking for him. That was the only reason for the only time he rode with Quantrill, and he paid for that one ride with his own life in 1874--in front of his 7 year old daugher, my great-grandmother. Nancy's family were anti-slavery and pro Union and her parents and all but two of her numerous sisters and brothers had moved to Iowa in 1857! The final irony in all of this. Martha's daughter Jessie Lavinia Collins married William Thomas Wallace, son of James Franklin Wallace, a Union veteran from Nodaway County, Missouri--and about a 2nd cousin or so of the man who prosecuted Frank James...

Robinson, Schofield, et al were right: the Union Army should have shot Lane, and made the residents of Lawrence and the other participants rebuild Osceola and return what they stole and otherwise make restitution. The Civil War would have ended a lot sooner if so much of the abundant human and material resources of Missouri hadn't gone the CSA after Osceola....

Considering the massacre and raid at Osceola took place when Missouri was a fervent part of the Union and the legislature hadn't even tried to secede--does this mean all of us descendants of survivors are still owed restitution and interest from the U.S. government and the State of Kansas--like the victims of our WWII internment?

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Re: August 21, 1863